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Which John Cusack Are You?

I once met John Berendt, the author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. About ten years ago I had been hired by Barnes and Noble and was helping open Jacksonville's first store. Berendt was in town for a reading at a Jax Beach bookstore, and he happened to see the building. He wandered inside, introduced himself and asked if we had any copies for him to sign. Yes, we checked the picture on the back cover, it was really him.

Now, at this time Midnight was such a hot property that the book was in short supply. We were about a week from opening and had 50-100 copies of every NYT bestseller except his. We had fifteen copies of Midnight, all of which he signed with a smile. Ten of them never got on the shelves because the staff snapped them up (including me). The remaining five sold the first day we were open. It was weeks before we could get more copies. That, and that damned Oprah cookbook. At one point the wait list for that was 200 people long!

Great book, terrible movie. I also have to brag that I once met one of the co-stars.

Thanks to Richard for linking the quiz.

All Catholic Books, all the time!

Link sent in by a CWA member.

Incoming message from the Big Giant Head!

I think it reads French Stewart needs work.

Send in the Clones

MTV apologizes to India for Ghandi spoof on their new show Clone High USA. No word yet from the Catholic League on the Joan of Arc portrayal.

Look, Ma! I'm Famous!

Bob Stanton was profiled in yesterday's edition of Jacksonville Daily Record. The upcoming novella which we co-wrote, Dangerous Words, is mentioned.

Graham Crackers

A while back for a Monday Mission I mentioned Rollergirl from Boogie Nights as one person I could live without. Yes, her name is Heather Graham, but there is also a popular mystery writer with the same name and I hate to confuse the two. Anyway, some people asked why, and basically the statement was made in jest, relative to Graham's ex-Catholic "the Church is eeeeeevil attitude." Now, if people don't like the Church, they don't like the Church, but some of the things Graham has said in interviews have just left me open-mouthed in disbelief. I recall one interview where she complained about how all these priests tried to teach her that sex was evil. I'd like to know where she went to Catholic school, because not once in my nine years of parochial education was I taught that. The Church doesn't teach that sex is evil, the Church teaches that sex is holy. Abuse of sexuality is a different story. From the Catechism:

2361. "'Sexuality, by means of which man and woman give themselves to one another through the acts which are proper and exclusive to spouses, is not something simply biological, but concerns the innermost being of the human person as such. It is realized in a truly human way only if it is an integral part of the love by which a man and woman commit themselves totally to one another until death.'

2362. "...Sexuality is a source of joy and pleasure: The Creator himself . . . established that in the (generative) function, spouses should experience pleasure and enjoyment of body and spirit. Therefore, the spouses do nothing evil in seeking this pleasure and enjoyment. They accept what the Creator has intended for them. At the same time, spouses should know how to keep themselves within the limits of just moderation.[Pius XII, Discourse, October 29,1951.]"

So where's the evil? Is it the part that mentions being chained to the same person for the rest of your natural life, thereby preventing all opportunities to play bed-hopscotch? Horrors.

Graham strikes me as the kind who talks before she thinks, and I have to wonder if she is ever prepared to back up some of her statements in the event somebody with more savvy challenges her to a debate. Don Feder of Jewish World Review, for one, has opined on Graham's choice of sexually explicit film roles. Anyway, on to the point of this rant: I read today that Graham might be rethinking her onscreen sexpot image to avoid future typecasting. A reasonable fear; how many times have we heard the story of how Burt Ward didn't get the lead in The Graduate because the filmmakers feared that past goofy Boy Wonder image of his would cheapen the film? Dustin Hoffman is now considered one of the finest actors of his generation, and Burt Ward might be lucky to do Celebrity Boxing 12 with Urkel.

Graham wishes for parts like the kind Renee Zellweger is getting, and she's probably right to worry about the future. If you think about it, how much longer can an actress play Rollergirl over and over again? Twenty years now when Graham is looking for work and a great woman's role is available - the kind that would've gone to Meryl Streep or Angelica Huston - do you think the producers are going to want Rollergirl or Renee Zellweger?

Then again, I could be wrong. Julianne Moore was also a porn star in Boogie Nights, and she's had some of the best film roles for women in the last five years. Of course, I won't be looking for Graham to play St. Therese of Lisieux anytime soon.

Drink Up

Take one drink whenever Karen Hall mentions a Jesuit.

It's Kathy Carmichael's Pitch Generator! Now you can pitch your book to a big-time NY publisher without the hassle of buying stacks of Writer's Digest marketing guides.

Dylan remembered Mozart's birthday yesterday, shame on the rest of us. Of course, he did commemorate it by posting Falco's song. Sorry, I prefer Einzelhaft to Falco 3.

A bit of Mozart-related trivia: Kenneth Branagh was actually close to signing for the role of Wolfie in Amadeus before the producers decided to go with an all-American cast. This was years before Henry V, of course, so one can only imagine the impact on his career worldwide had he actually got the part. I think he would have done well, too. Branagh recounted the experience of auditioning for the role in his memoir, Beginning. It's out of print, but if you can get a copy read it. Excellent book.

Kung Pao chicken for lunch today. My cookie fortune reads A financial investment will yield returns beyond your wildest hopes.

I'll be at the track.

85 to go

A Room with a View

Yahoo! News - Libraries Can't Afford New Potter Books

This is thanks to budget cuts, and it's why in part I suggest to new authors that they donate copies of their books to local libraries. As an early birthday gift, one cousin of mine bought enough books to give to all the local libraries in Tampa, so if you live in the area you will hopefully be able to find a copy of Little Flowers.

Come Back to the NorVA, Ringo Starr, Ringo Starr

Ringo's been by twice since I moved here, and I've had to pass because I was either A) broke; or B) out of town. Somebody sent me this e-mail regarding the next All-Starr Band:

Starr will tour this summer with a new edition of his All-Starr Band that includes 2001 All-Starr drummer Sheila E., Men At Work frontman Colin Hay on guitar, ex-Babys/Bad English frontman and solo star John Waite on bass, and Squeeze/Mike + the Mechanics keyboardist-vocalist Paul Carrack. More members of the band and tour dates are expected to be announced soon.

Quite a lineup, straight out of a VH-1 special. Still, it's Ringo.

Is it really you, Dave? It's says "Dave's Blog," and there are links to Dave's books and other Dave-related websites, but can we really be certain it's Dave behind the blog? Because you see, on the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog, or Dave Barry, or somebody pretending to be Dave Barry.

Case in point, right now there's a situation in a Yahoo Group to which I subscribe. It's for fans of a certain music group (guess) and lately somebody claiming to be the son of one of the musicians has been posting messages. I won't divulge the name, but the person in question has been mentioned on this blog more than once. Anyway, some folks think he's the real deal, others smell a fake. Having been involved with a particular Internet abuse advocacy group, I have my doubts as well. This is why I implore everybody who blogs, surfs, posts and clicks to always exercise caution on the Internet, especially when you are approached online by people you do not know. The Net Crimes website is a great place to start if you have questions about Internet safety.

Fortunately, I can vouch for many of the good folks at St. Blog's, as I have met a number of them. As to whether they'll vouch for me, well...

Thanks to Randy England for the nice review of Little Flowers on If you haven't read any of Randy's works (The Last Fisherman, Unicorn in the Sanctuary), I highly recommend them.

I watched most of the Super Bowl (yeah, Bucs!) but I never did see if Penn and Teller showed up for any pre-, halftime, or post-game shows. Anybody see them?

Super Bowl Quote of the Year: "What the hell was that?" - Malc, after seeing that Levi's commercial with the buffalo stampede.

Participation Positives

I made it through the week. That's positive enough for me.

We're going out for pizza for the big game tonight. Regular price, go Bucs, go Bucs, go Bucs, go Bucs!

Sad news: Mujibar and Sirajul are out of work. The store where they worked, which was near where David Letterman's show is taped, is closing for good. That's a shame, that store was one of the many places we visited during our trip to NYC in '95.

I honestly can't remember which one this was. I think it's Mujibar. He was the only one working in the store that day; it was packed full of people.

Is there anything the on which the good folks at Nickelodeon won't plaster Spongebob's goofy mug? Malc found a candy bar, I found corn pads.

E-pal Tony from Arx Publishing sends word of a Catholic Homeschooling conference in South Jersey this April. If you're into fantasy, sci-fi, and historical fiction, check out Arx, they have some great titles.

Mike's just about hit the mark with his assessment of recent Friday Five posts. In light of that, I'm just going to make up my own questions this week:

1) So which inmate at EmCity do you think is going to be the Last Man Standing when the smoke clears? Well, since two of my favorite characters (Augustus and Said) have already bought the farm, or as Omar White would say, "mortgaged the farm," I'm going to go with Rebadow. He's made it this far, and he seems to be the most innocuous of the population. I have a feeling when everybody goes for each other's throats (if that's what happens in the end), he'll be overlooked and able to slip quietly out the back.

2) Describe your most unusual celebrity encounter. The brother of my mother's godfather (there's a mouthful), was the late Vincent Gardenia, who was Cher's father in Moonstruck. I sat on his lap when I was three years old. Not an unusual encounter, but the best one I can come up with right now. I can always say that I sat on the lap of an Oscar nominee; nobody has to know it wasn't Paul McCartney (three-time nom, one-time winner) and that it didn't happen last week.

Now, Malc has some stories!

3) What is the silliest, most obsessive thing you ever did as a teenager? I used to keep a scrapbook of Monkees magazine photos, and I taped all the shows from MTV. Remember that big late 80s comeback?

4) If you were allowed to pick one food that you could eat forever and lose weight, what would it be? Cheese pizza, lots of sauce, hand-tossed crust.

5) What kind of LoTR fanfiction would you like to read? I'd love to see a Seinfeld take-off with the four Hobbits wandering through that mall parking garage, looking for a place to hide the ring.

I don't know if this is an urban legend or not. Being the child of two teachers, and having interned as a teacher, it would not surprise me if the following was true. A friend sent this:

The following is an answering machine message for the Pacific Palisades High School in California. The school and teachers were being sued by parents who wanted their children's failing grades changed to passing grades even though those children were absent 15-30 times during the semester and did not complete enough school work to pass their classes.

This was voted unanimously by the office staff as the actual answering machine message for the school:

"Hello! You have reached the automated answering service of your school. In order to assist you in connecting the right staff member, please listen to all your options before making a selection:

To lie about why your child is absent - Press 1

To make excuses for why your child didn't do his work - Press 2

To complain about what we do - Press 3

To swear at staff members - Press 4

To ask why you didn't get information that was already enclosed in your newsletter and several flyers mailed to you - Press 5

If you want us to raise your child - Press 6

If you want to reach out and touch, slap or hit someone - Press 7

To request another teacher for the third time this year - Press 8

To complain about bus transportation - Press 9

To complain about school lunches - Press 0

If you realize this is the real world and your child must be accountable/responsible for his/her own behavior, class work, homework, and that it's not the teachers' fault for your child(ren)'s lack of effort, hang up and have a nice day!"

Thank you to everyone who wrote to me for your kind words. Thank you, Prolife Guy, for the nice endorsement of my book. Thank you to everybody who nominated the St. Blog's Parish webring for the Bloggies. We didn't make the cut this time, maybe next year. I still haven't checked the comments box under that post, but thank you for responding if you did. I promise we will soon return to the regular blog madness soon.

Today is the feast day of St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of writers. St. Francis is the patron of the Catholic Writers Association, and it is to him that we have dedicated our website and our organization. CWA's founder, Mark Kwasny, holds a special devotion to the saint.

St. Francis, by our standards, did not live to be very old. He was only 55 at the time of his death, yet his writings and life were of such great influence that he was made a Doctor of the Universal Church. I won't go too much into detail here, but if you want a more concise biography check out his listing at the online Catholic Encyclopedia.

One good way to commemorate this day would be to buy a book by a Catholic author. If you want suggestions, try the CWA Bookstore or the Catholic/Christian Book Review Blog for ideas. If you do decide to buy a book today, consider going to a Catholic bookstore like Ono's St. Martin's Gifts or to any local bookstore. If they don't have what you want, order it. Having worked in a bookstore, I know when people make special orders from a place like Barnes and Noble those books will sometimes be placed on the store's regular order sheet. If you order a book, you might be helping to keep that book in good visibility.

Do not look forward to what might happen tomorrow; the same Everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you tomorrow and every day. Either He will shield you from suffering or He will give you an unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, then, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations. -- St Francis de Sales

Cafe Press to branch into the book biz. Yeah, it seems everybody has an account at Cafe Press for selling coffee mugs with some logo created in MS Paint. I'd do it, but who's going to buy a Come On, Get Lively mousepad? This POD venture they are planning, however, looks interesting. If it's on the up and up, I might consider taking Murder Most Trivial to print.

Every Veteran's Day, Snoopy went to Bill Mauldin's house to quaff a few root beers. Hopefully this year they'll both be over at God's place. RIP.

I just want to say that with last night's post I sorely violated the Tim Drake Blogging Protocol. If you know Tim, you know what that means. I'm so drained right now I haven't even checked the comments box below, not sure I want to do that. It's been a trying time for b4G and everybody involved. Please pray.

The feedback has been mixed on our little blogs4God Anti-Massacre Movement. Indeed, people close to the issue have commented that the post was rather harsh and critical of women who have experienced abortions under very painful circumstances. As one of the ringleaders of that stunt, I want to say that it was never my intent to denigrate any person who has been faced with such a harrowing decision. Our point, and you can debate on whether or not it was ill-conceived, was to counteract the propaganda of pro-choice groups who support choice for the sake of choice (remember, the majority of abortions performed in the US are not rape-related or done for medical reasons). Yes, some have viewed the post as harsh, but if you read the Gospels you will know that Jesus was also brutally honest at times. When those followers, upon hearing the words related in John 6, turned away, Jesus didn't try to appease them. However, I'm am but a speck of the being Christ is, so I therefore extend my most sincere apologies to anyone I have offended.

Don't think, either, that I constantly maintain a flippant attitude where serious issues are concerned. Don't think that I can't relate to you, either. I know pain, and I fight back with humor because it is the only way I know how, otherwise I truly believe I would go mad. I'll tell you something else, too, something I haven't said out loud in twelve years - I once considered having an abortion myself.

I was nineteen years old and I was so in love with him. I wanted to get my degree and become a teacher, and then we were going to get married and live in one of those quaint old apartments on the Riverside. At this time I was pretty much a part-time Christian, picking and choosing my own rules, and he was a secular Jew. My family didn't like him, not because he was Jewish, but because he could've been nicer to be. Of course, being starry-eyed in love, I saw only what I wanted to see.

One day I got pregnant. We had been so careful, and yet it happened. I was working at McDonald's part-time while going to school, and he worked off and on when he could and was taking community college courses. We both still lived at home, and we never told our parents, though I believe my mother suspected something.

I was about two months in when I found out myself, and I was scared shitless. Scenarios of my parents exploding and throwing me out of the house filled my mind for days while I was trying to study, and I was trying to hide morning sickness and having a hard time of doing it. He didn't know what to tell me, but he did know that he didn't want to be a father, and I didn't think I could do it myself on a fast food salary. I had little education, little work experience, and I had seen several co-workers in similar situations, some working two jobs at different fast food joints to raise their children. At that time, I believed I had no other choice, and I actually visited a clinic to get the rates. Deep down inside, however, I knew it wasn't right, and I tried to convince myself that when weighing one child not yet born against the future and the people around me, what was more important?

Two days later I miscarried. I had only told one other person about this, and she suggested that perhaps God sensed I was not ready. Maybe He was saving me from myself, who knows? What I do know, however, is that I went on with my life, married a wonderful guy, and have so far spent the last ten years trying to create life again. So far, no good. Some might say, "Well, you're getting what you deserve for even considering abortion," and some might tell me not to look too deeply into it. Take some folic acid.

I say that had I not miscarried and not went with my gut, I'd have a beautiful eleven-year-old boy with me now. Yeah, I think it would have been a boy, I don't know why, and I don't think I could live with the knowledge that I prevented that from happening. It's not a pain I would wish on anybody. For those of you who have, I'm sorry it happened to you. I don't hate you or wish you ill, but I'm sorry it couldn't have turned out differently.

Don't think that I'm looking for any sympathy by telling this story, or that I get any enjoyment out of reviving pain in others. I know pain, I experience it every day. I experience it every time the woman in the next cubicle calls her daycare to check up on her son. I experience it every time I receive an e-mail "written" by my baby nephew. I experience it every time one of these glad-handling celebrities takes the podium at some awards show to bleat the praises of choice when they should be introducing some retrospective of John Ford films. I'm sorry, it's not my choice anymore.

I personally don't think ABC will bend to the pressure and cancel the Penn and Teller show at the Super Bowl. I wouldn't be surprised if they put Bill Maher in the booth with Al and John and got David E. Kelley to direct the whole damn thing.

Which brings to mind a thought: is it possible to be an atheist and be respectful of those who believe in God? I look around some atheist-oriented websites and there is such hostility, particularly toward Christians. Rarely do I see the site that mocks Hinduism, Judaism, etc. If atheists are that confident God doesn't exist, why do some of them seem so bothered by those who do believe?

Blah blah blah, Roe vs. Wade, blah blah blah, 30th anniversary, blah blah protests and posters, yada yada yada.

What more can I say, except thank you, Mom, for making three very good choices.

Oh, I'm too verklempt to blog! Talk amongst yourselves!

Here's a topic: Grape-Nuts Cereal contains neither grapes nor nuts, discuss.

My latest contract is signed and on its way to Echelon Press as we speak. A few years ago I collaborated with my former creative writing professor on a work written initially as a series of letters. How it was supposed to work was that Bob would write the letters of the male character, a fan of the female character (a known poet) who is trying to convince the poetess to collaborate on a novel. The female character, of course, is naturally suspicious of her new pen pal, yet plays along for the hell of it. Anyway, Bob's idea was to create a "novel within a novel" while also telling the story of this man who is stalking the poetess. After several months of writing it turned out that the novel within the novel part was over 40,000 words and we had let the poetess and her stalker fall to the wayside, hence we decided to ditch them altogether. The novel within the novel is what will become Dangerous Words, a Dollar Download novella from Echelon.

Just a warning here, it's not Little Flowers. I won't go so far as to say it's the anti-Little Flowers, because it's not 40,000 words of pr0n, either (sorry to disappoint you). It's a story told through the journals of two writing seminar attendees. One is a sociopath who becomes obessed with the other, a forensic expert who is attending the seminar at the advice of her psychiatrist. I think it's an interesting story, anyway, and it's going to sell for a dollar. Remember, a dollar spent on my books is a dollar Bin Laden doesn't get. :-)

Echelon is already collecting my info for their website. If only the publishers of Saints would hurry up and contact me. That book is supposed to be out in May, and I have yet to receive word about edits. Meanwhile, I just received a project from them to edit - a book that's not coming out until the end of the year (?!).

It will be interesting to see this once it's launched: The Bible as interpreted in Lego bricks.

Maybe while Victor's plogging, I'll dust off the old Lego set and deliver the first "Legolog." Maybe the family of JRR Tolkien won't sue me for similarities in the name of a certain elf.

Sad news: Al Hirschfeld has died. Almost made it to 100. RIP, guy.

Monday Mission!

1) Friday I wrote about "People I Can Do Without." How about adding to the list with a few people you can live without? You don't specify actual names or just people in general, so here's a bit of both:

  • Jack Chick
  • Pro-aborts
  • People who don't signal when they change lanes
  • People who bring cell phones to the movies (You had better be a heart surgeon on call)
  • Bill Maher
  • Barbra Streisand
  • People who, when you identify yourself as Christian, automatically assume you are a humorless, sexless, narrow-minded twit
  • That Rollergirl chick from Boogie Nights
  • People who tie up an entire table at the coffee shop with their schoolwork for hours and don't order anything to justify their stay

I'm sure all of those people could do without me as well.

2) Have you ever felt like someone truly respected you? What does being respected mean to you personally? Outside of family, I don't think I can come up with any names. I don't recall ever getting that vibe from anybody before. If so, I'd be flattered to know it.

3) In (past or current) relationships, what is the "one thing" your partner would change about you if they could? I can tell you one of my ex-boyfriends probably would have wanted me to be a bit more open-minded, or trisexual (trying anything sexual). I think Malc would be happy if I just quit nagging him.

4) Have you ever tried to change who you are to please someone? How did that turn out? Back to the ex-boyfriend, I became more accommodating to his needs. I quit the college paper because he said it took too much time away from him. In retrospect that was a very stupid thing to do.

5) Do you believe in love at first sight? Can it really happen? No.

6) Today is "Martin Luther King, Jr. Day" in the United States. How have Rev. King's accomplishments impacted or influenced your life? King's ideas have made me more aware of Jesus's teachings, that they are always applicable. "Judge not, that ye be not judged." This is what King wanted, too.

7) In America, our President declared yesterday to be "National Sanctity of Life Day." While it enacts no change in policy or program, it does allow our country's leader to make a declarative statement about abortion. How do you feel when you hear about a government taking a position such as this? As someone who is pro-life, I admire that Bush has the courage to take this stand. Of course, with a war brewing people might question his timing regarding "sanctity of life," but we'll see how that goes.

BONUS: What will I do if you say we're through? Give you a head start because I'm just that generous.

Participation Positives!

  • It's Tampa, baby!
  • Signed a Dollar Download contract with Echelon Press.
  • The car made it all the way to work.
  • Always holding out hope for that big Wang Chung comeback.

Today is also Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday, a national holiday in the US. Here's the famous speech.

We watched the Rolling Stones concert on HBO last night. Was anybody able to understand what Mick was saying in between songs? I was dying for subtitling.

Overall, it was a good show. People criticize bands like the Stones for still performing at their age, but I say if Mick's voice is strong and he can still twist himself into a pretzel like a nineteen-year-old yoga instructor, why should he stop? In fact, I'm feeling so generous today I won't even make the obligatory "Keith Richards still looks good for a man who's been dead for fifteen years joke."

Just received the Author's Advertising Kit from a widely-distributed magazine for readers and writers. I wonder if I would have more success PR-wise strolling up and down the main drag in a Hooters uniform and Plexiglass sandwich board bearing the words Will Write Novels for Food.

Ah, well. Here's some free PR for other struggling authors. Here's what is in the review queue...

  • Jonah Christopher and the Last Chance Mass by William Ferguson (IUniverse, YA)
  • Gabriel's Magic Ornament by Randall Bush (Pristine Publishers, YA)
  • Birth and Early Growth of the Christian Church by Jack Burton (Drive2Learn, Religion)
  • My Roots Go Back to Loving by Becky Cerling Powers, ed. (Canaan Home Communications, Religion)
  • Joe Sails by Richard P. Olenych (Lone Tree Publishing, Self-Help/Business)
  • In and Of: Memoirs of a Mystic Journey Along Canada's Wild West Coast by Jack Haas (Iconoclast Press, Memoir)
  • The Way of Wonder by Jack Haas (Iconoclast Press, Spirituality)

Then I have recently contributed "back cover quotes" to the upcoming Death Warmed Over by Cindy Daniel (mystery, Quiet Storm Publishing), Coming Home to Mercy Street by Nancy Arant Williams (inspirational romance, Wings Press), and The Island by Andrea Crisp (thriller, Wings Press). I'll probably write longer reviews closer to their publication. It's going to be a busy spring.

One more for the Catholic nerd know you're a Catholic nerd when you're watching Lingo on the Game Show Network and you keep shouting out five-letter Catholic words at the beginning of each game. (Canon! Saint! Bible!)

I love that show.

Last night's snow was not as bad as last year, when the city was practically shut down for the day. All I need is a gallon of cocoa and I'll be fine.

Some book notes: IHS Press is a publisher of classic Catholic material operating not far from me; they have reprinted Chesterton's Utopia of Usurers and plan to reprint his Irish Impressions. I run the risk of a collective gasp at St. Blog's when I say that I have yet to read anything by Chesterton. Mystery lover that I am, I haven't even read his Father Brown novels, though I have a number of them (and Orthodoxy) loaded to my Palm. As Shrek would say, "It's on my to do list, okay?" That, and I picked up a copy of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay so I can check that off the Pulitzer fiction list.

In the meantime, I've been offered a contract for a novella to be published in .PDF format. More news on that soon.

Two new blogs added to the ring: Catholic Blog Reviewer and Catholic Nerd, featuring "You know you're a Catholic nerd when..."

A few suggestions:

  • know all of the prayers in the blue Pieta prayer book by heart
  • actually know what the Pieta prayer book is
  • have camped outside a box office waiting to purchase Dana concert tickets
  • sing "Dominique" on Karaoke Night at the pub
  • have a different rosary for every day of the week

The blizzard of '03 is coming! Run for your lives!

It's going to be that disasterous, if you believe the local weather reports. Over here, a light misting puts the city on alert.

Things I learned after it was too late: Item #74

Never clips your fingernails too short if, in the near future, you know you are going to want to break open a pack of Butter Rum Lifesavers, especially if the pack doesn't have one of those handy green ripcords.

Remember that scene in Young Frankenstein where Gene Wilder and Marty Feldman are in the cemetery digging up that body and having a hard time doing so? Then Marty says, "It could be worse, it could be raining," and then it's starts raining? That pretty much sums up my night, but exchange the cemetery for a dead car battery and the rain for snow.

Yes, I know it can always get worse than even that.

Stop "Drive-Through" Mastectomies, a petition on the Lifetime TV page.

Via Amy Welborn: if other authors had written LoTR. Funny stuff.

However, I didn't see Quentin Tarantino:

SAM: So tell me about this Rivendell, Mister Frodo.

FRODO: What do you want to know?

SAM: Do they have a McGandalf's?

FRODO: They do, but it's not like the McGandalf's in Bag End. Do you know what they call a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in Rivendell?

SAM: They don't call it a Quarter Pounder with Cheese?

FRODO: No, they have the metric system in Rivendell, Sam. They don't know what a quarter pound is. They call it a Rabsuut te Quese.

SAM: Rabsuut te Quese. What do they call the Whopper, Mister Frodo?

FRODO: I don't know. I didn't go to Burger King. I was too busy popping a cap in Gollum's ass.

Hey, it's early, all right? BTW, that Elvish part I made up. I couldn't find Quarter Pounder with Cheese in any of the Elvish dictionaries online.

Via Catholic Light, Virgin Mary appears in the window of a doughnut shop.

(WARNING: BAD JOKE ALERT) Must be why doughnuts taste so heavenly.

If only they were less than five Weight Watchers points apiece.

Monday Mission!

1. Have you ever bought something you were so excited about and found out later that it didn't work? Were you able to return it? How did it go? That would be the crappy digital camera. It works, if you like taking crappy digital pictures. I bought it for $25 and got a $15 rebate, but I'm keeping it anyway. It's not too bad if you just use it as a webcam.

2. I have a Palm (Pilot) for my date book and such, but have been thinking of jumping to the PocketPC world at some point. Do you have a PDA (personal digital assistant)? What kind, and how did you decide? What do you like about it? If you don't own one, do you want one or do you do better without such gadgets? I own a Handspring Visor, which I primarily use as an e-book reader. So many of the books I review now are available as .PDF books, so I just format them for the Visor. I decided on the Visor because at the time it was the best deal for the money. Sure enough, the second I took it home the color screen version came out. I do love, though, that I can carry up to ten books on the device, and with the free books available through the Gutenberg online library and the many e-publishers out there, there is always something good to read.

3. What illness do you wind up catching more than any other? The 24-hour bug.

4. Do you like going to see the doctor (any type)? Not really, but given my family history, it's worth the time.

5. How about the dentist? Do you like going? Do you go in every six months for a check-up? I try to go every six months, but I haven't been able to make an appointment yet.

6. Are you a "dog person" or a "cat person"? Do you think a person's choice tells you something about their personality? I don't own pets, but I would get a dog over a cat. I do believe the pet you own does say something about the type of person you are, and I do think pets to some extent can boost your own sense of well-being. My father has a beagle, and he seems a lot happier and more active with the dog around.

7. I've mentioned before how me and a buddy of mine have just let our friendship lapse. There was no disagreement, but we've hit that point where we have nothing in common anymore. My life has progressed and he is still living in 1992. Have you ever had a friendship that just seems to have run its course? Where there is just nothing there anymore? What finally happened? I've had few strong friendships to begin with, but I do have one that appears to have died. The friend moved to another city and just dropped out of sight. In my case, what happens is that my friends start to have children, and since I don't have any it gets rather uncomfortable. You go from talking about movies and art to diapers. Not that I don't want to be friendly with people who have kids, but right now I have no basis for understanding.

BONUS: Do you want to see me beggin', baby? Can't you give me just one more day? Yes. Beg. On your knees, suckah.

Participation Positives

Well, I don't know if I can come up with a list right now. It's not been the best of weekends. One of my freelance gigs has dried up thanks to their budget cuts (hopefully it's just temporary, right), my old insurance company still hasn't straightened out a payment from that mountain biking accident six months ago, plus some jackass's car alarm kept me awake all night. Why bother spending the money to install one of those things if you're just going to let it blare all night and do nothing about it? I hope the guy's car battery died.

Yes, I sound grumpy, but I should admit it's not all been bad. I'm nearly finished with the second draft of Pithed, and there's going to be a new writing critique group at the local coffee shop. Meanwhile, back at the parish, some St. Bloggers are interested in establishing a Feast of St. Blog's, but can't decide on a date. My suggestion: since Amy Welborn more than likely coined the term "St. Blog's," use the date she first began blogging.

Malc had the pleasure of meeting Maurice Gibb, and his brothers, at the family home in Miami nearly twenty years ago. The Gibbs were involved in many local charities there, and Malc had accompanied one of his clients to a function they were hosting. They were very pleasant and gracious, Malc said. Rest in peace, Maurice.

Canticle Magazine is holding a Catholic women's conference in March. Details on the website. More news later.

Before I sign off for the night, a very happy birthday to Mr. Donald Fagen.

My sci-fi novel is still in my head, so I guess I'll have to wait until next year to try for this:

The First Draco Awards Contest for unpublished and self-published science fiction, fantasy and horror is now accepting entries.

Obscure Flashback of the Week

We have this radio station that runs an all 80s request lunch. Usually it's all Duran Duran and hair bands like Bon Jovi, and ultimately somebody always requests "Tainted Love." Every once in a while you'll hear a real gem: this week it was After The Fire's version of "Der Kommissar."

Would you believe there is an After the Fire website? Here are the lyrics in English, and in the original German as written and sung by the late, great Falco, from the album Einzelhaft, which I still own on vinyl!

Nice Elvises finish last: Impersonator ejected from contest after announcing his intention to give winnings to charity.

In related news, Lisa Marie's finally going to cut a record. Does this mean we all get to dress up like her thirty years from now?

Dog-Eared Webzine will have a review of Leaps of Faith in their January 15 issue. It's ranked "Highly Recommended." Thanks, guys!

Other writing news: if you are into writing contests, there is a great mailing list alerting people to regional and national competitions. Check out Contest Alert at Yahoo Groups.

Yeesh. There's a quiz for everything now: What is your Tolkien Belief System?

A lesser known fact at the Macworld Expo: a merger between Apple Computers and Apple Records was announced. Their first joint project is to be released soon:

His name is Paul McCartney, and he's a musician.

Congratulations to Classic Catholic, the 100th site to join the St. Blog's Parish webring!

Per the blame game contest on Exceptional Marriages: the Beatles would never have broken up had the Church allowed women's ordination. Yoko probably would've shifted her focus from causing the rift between John and Paul to joining the priesthood and subverting Church teaching with really bad art.

"Of course you realize I was being sarcastic." - Homer Simpson

Grandson of the Hobbitmeister is now an author in his own write, with a new mystery on the shelves. Okay, the puns end there. Right here. On this very spot.

Here's a new entry for the drinking game, take a shot everytime somebody misspells Tolkien, and misspell.

I don't know how you guys feel, but if Eddie Blazonczyk's Versatones don't win for Best Polka Album, then I know the Grammy Awards are fixed.

When Malc and I went to the Naro's last showing of Bowling for Columbine the other night, it had been a long time since we saw a Michael Moore film. In fact, the only thing I remember in the last film I saw (The Awful Truth? I don't remember.) was Michael knocking cold on Rick Nielson's door and being invited inside. I think that image sticks with more than any others because it actualizes a great fantasy. Can you imagine just walking up to the front door of a celebrity you admire and he actually lets you in his home? Of course, Michael Moore, being a somewhat recognizable figure, might not have problems. Any one of us would probably be ignored or bruised by some bodyguard. Nevertheless, I don't ever want to hear that that part of the film was staged.

I'm getting off track, though. If you get a chance, regardless of whether or not you agree with Moore, go see this film. One point he does nail on the head is our media's role in relaying fear messages to the public, which may or may play a role in our country having higher gun-related homicide stats than most. I don't want to give too much of the film away, but do check it out.

Monday Mission!

1. What is one of your favorite things to wear? Whatever doesn't make me look like a Volkswagen Bus. Also, my Snoopy watch.

2. Did you get any "dud" gifts for the holidays? Will you return them? Actually, no. There was nothing I received that I didn't like, probably because Malc and I bought everything together and pretended to look surprised when we unwrapped them.

3. Let's do a few "Best of 2002" thoughts. What was the best movie of 2002? Why did you pick that one? The Two Towers, even though I saw it in 2003. I thought it was a visually-stunning film.

4. What world event of 2002 made an impact on you? The DC Sniper follies, if it counts. It made the most impact on me because I didn't live too far from the action. Trust me, when you feel you have to kneel behind your car when you pump gas, you know something has made an impact.

5. What personal event of 2002 was the most memorable? Losing my job, gaining a nephew.

6. Is there anything in 2002 (decisions, relationships, purchases, etc.) that, looking back, you would have done differently? I think I would have sprung for the $80-$100 McCartney tickets instead of buying the $50 one. Also, I would not have tried to ride the last fifty yards of that trail at the equestrian park in Conyers.

7. Shine up your magic crystal ball and look into the future. What do you think will happen in your life in 2003? Or, what would you like to happen in 2003? With Saints Preserve Us coming out in May, I'd like to sell more copies than I did of Little Flowers. Of course, I plan to take the initiative in promoting this book instead of sitting around and waiting for the publisher to do something.

BONUS: Was it somethin' I said or somethin' I did, did my words not come out right? Yes, yes, and I don't know - I don't speak Elvish.

For those of you on the Weight Watchers points plan, the values for their doughnuts are as follows:

Glazed yeast doughnut, regular cake doughnut - five points

Glazed yeast with chocolate or maple icing, cake with chocolate icing, powdered cake doughnut, glazed cake cruller - six points

Glazed cake cruller with chocolate icing - seven points

Glazed devil's food cake doughnut - eight points

Yes, that's each.

At my weight level I'm allotted up to 31 points daily. Think I could live on five glazed yeast a day?

Participation Positives!

  • Made it through another weekend
  • There's the possibility I'll have a novella contracted
  • Got a hot tip for exploiting some subsidiary rights (more later)

Thanks to those who wrote to say they nominated the St. Blog's webring for the 2003 Bloggie Awards. Don't forget your fellow St. Bloggers in the other categories, too.

In honor (?) of Tolkien's eleventy-first birthday today, I give you something to sing at the karaoke bar while you're getting tanked on Guinness.

Only three days into 2003 and already we have a strong candidate for the WTF? Story of the Year, via Davey's Mommy: elementary school students put on performance of The Rocky Horror Show. Hilarity ensued. Quoth the principal, "Children need to learn about homosexuality so they don't become bigots. But maybe the Rocky Horror Show was the wrong vehicle to do this."

Gee, you think? I know some gay and lesbians who would likely agree.

Vote, vote, vote for the St. Blog's Parish webring in the 2003 Bloggies! Or should I say nominate, nominate, nominate? There are about thirty categories this year, and this would be a great opportunity to let others know about the great folks of St. Blog's.

I had planned to make a lengthy "Best and Worst of 2002" post when I realized something: I haven't seen enough television or movies or anything else to warrant a lengthy list. I couldn't name a new CD release for 2002 except for Paul's live album and Brainwashed (which I don't own), and I've seen only five or six movies this year, hardly a healthy pool from which to draw opinions. Seems this year I have been either occupied less with today's culture...either that or I have turned into an old person. So you will forgive me if this inaugural Best/Worst list appears a tad unorthodox:

Best Photoshop - Dubya and the One Ring.

Best movie of 2002 (not counting The Two Towers) - Because you know that's what I'm going to say. For this category, I am split between Minority Report and My Big, Fat Greek Wedding. The former is pure escapist adventure, a great story with a chilling Big Brother-type aura to it, marred only by the massive product placement. Wedding is just plain fun, a story with which many people can identify. I'm sure every one of us has a relative like Andrea Martin's character.

Worst movie - Of the ones I saw in 2002, I'd have to give it to Goldmember. Everything up until the opening credits was hilarious, and then it went downhill faster than Picabo Street.

Best way to save the $8 movie ticket price - The Movie Spoiler database is addictive. Take a gander unless you really, really, really have to see it in the theater.

Best casting job -'s Beat the Devil. Who care's if it's a super-long car commercial and you can't understand what James Brown is saying?

Best reason to pay the extra money for those premium channels on DirecTV - VH1 Classic. They actually show music videos. Remember music videos? I caught this on a preview weekend. As soon as we get rid of HBO...

Best reason to get a DVD player - The Monsters, Inc. special edition DVD has a ton of special features, including the short film For the Birds which had me on the floor.

Best concert I attended this year - Like I have to say it?

Best example of why I sometimes want to cry - (I'm told this really happened) A guy walks into a music store and the teenaged employee asks if he's looking for something in particular. The guy says, "I'm looking for George Harrison." The reply: "I don't think he works here."

Best blog - Don't make me choose.



How sweet it was at the Sugar Bowl. I only wish UGA had gone in undefeated. The true test now, though, is will we former UGA students be allowed back at my FSU relatives' houses in 2003.

Happy 2003, and a blessed feast of the Solemnity of Mary to all. Resolve to be happy and healthy.

Only some random number days until Genny goes to college.

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20th Century Pope: JPII
Aqua Teen: Frylock
Barbie: Harley
Beatle Album: Magical Mystery Tour
Beatle Era: Hamburg
Beatle Film Character: Paul's Grandfather
Beatle Kid: Dhani Harrison
Beatle Song: "Yellow Submarine"
Brady Bunch: Greg
Brideshead Revisited: Lady Cordelia Flyte
British: 32.5%
Boy Band: Beatles
Canadian: 33%
Cartoon Dog: Snoopy
Catholic order: St. John Bosco
Cheers: Norm!
Christmas Carol: Silent Night
Cocktail: Bloody Mary
Dante's Inferno: Purgatory
David Bowie: late 60s/early 70s
Decade: the 60s
Disney Princess: Belle
Drew Carey Career: Human Resources
Edward Gorey: Gashleycrumb
Elvis: 50s
Evil: 18%
Foreign Language: Italian
Founding Father: John Adams
Ian McKellan: Just Ian
Inner Sexy Cartoon Chick: Wilma Flintstone
Internet Addict: 45%
Iron Chef: Chairman Kaga
Jane Austen: Elinor Dashwood
Jedi: Knight
John Cusack: John Kelso
Journal Rating: PG-13
Led Zeppelin song: Whole Lotta Love
LifeSaver: lemon
Lone Gunmen: Byers
LoTR: Legolas
M&M: blue
Madonna: Soul
M*A*S*H: Hawkeye
Monkees: Micky
Movie for Me: Forrest Gump
Muppet: Fozzie
Music god: Sting
Narnia: The Magician's Nephew
Old Movie: Citizen Kane
Parrothead: True
Peanuts: Linus
Retro Girl: Seductive Pin-Up
Rugrats: Angelica
Simpsons: Disco Stu
Star Trek: Spock
Star Trek race: Human
Store to Loot: Mega Grocer
Three's Company: Janet
Tolkien Beliefs: Conservative
Ugly Prom Dress: 80s
US City: Atlanta
VW Beetle: Black
Whose Line?: Colin Mochrie
Wife of Henry VIII: Anne of Cleves
Willy Wonka: Veruca
Wodehouse: Bertie Wooster
Wrestler: Stone Cold
Writer: Mystery

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