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The wicked leer behind that yellow smiley face thingie

More scoop on this Literacy Day thing at Wal-Mart: word on the street is that store managers are strongly advised to allow only books sold at Wal-Mart to be read. Meaning: if you are a lowly author whose book is published by Small Potatoes Press and the book is not available through the Wal-Mart system, you probably won't be allowed to plug your work. Of course, I'm sure the publicity (if any) would make up for that, and authors were advised from the start that this wasn't going to be a booksigning opportunity.

However, I can't get the image out of my head of some beleaguered author being carried bodily out of the store by a group of blue-vested clerks, all the while screaming Fight the power! Put the fiction back in the hands of the people! Buy my book, dammit! I got three kids in college!

Has anyone checked eBay?

Here it is: George's first guitar. Museum curators are still on the lookout for Ringo's first retainer and Paul's first cricket bat.

I'll probably get in trouble for this, but here's the preliminary cover design for Saints:

Saints Preserve Us

I hadn't been told it was the official cover, but I need to hype the thing. Pat Casey designed the cover, and IMO I think it's much nicer than the original Little Flowers cover.

The flags are half-staff in the Neighborhood of Make Believe

I couldn't let the day end without blogging my own memories of Mister Rogers. Throughout my first years, it was Sesame Street, Mister Rogers, and The Electric Company (hey, an Electric Company site!), every day. I can't recite Hamlet's famous silioquy now, but I can clearly remember whole episodes of Fred's adventures from 25 years ago! I used to watch, wondering why we couldn't have a miniature motorized trolley buzzing through hidden tunnels in our house. I loved the miniature "operettas" Lady Aberlin performed with the Make Believe neighbors, and how Margaret Hamilton used to show up to visit King Friday. He'd call her Maggie; that guy knew everybody.

The one episode I clearly remember, however, is the one that aired before one I really wanted to see. Mister Rogers was visiting Audrey the cleaning lady for some reason, and she said if he came back the next day she would show him how her office would turn into a regular house. As a teaser, she pressed this one button near a framed company sign and a landscape painting slid over it. Apparently there were more buttons around the place that did these wicked cool things, and I couldn't wait to see how.

The next day, though, I couldn't watch the show and I never got to see this office that turned into a house. Perhaps this disappointment is the root of my anxiety. I still want to see that episode.

What saddens me in particular about Mister Rogers's passing is that this is truly the end of an era. I don't watch much children's television, but what I do see is exactly what The Simpsons once parodied with their Mattel/Nestle Choco-Bot Hour bit. Everything else that's supposed to be educational is downright annoying. I turn on Sesame Street now and all I see is Elmo and Nosey O'Donnell. I want to put my foot through the set. One other thing: when I watched Street as a little kid Maria used to date David. Now she's married to Luis? When did that happen? Remember that Hawaiian couple who used to be on the show many years ago? The gang actually went to Hawaii once to visit (Big Bird smuggled Snuffy in the overhead compartment). What happened to them?

I can only hope Mr. McFeely will see fit to get some of those old shows on DVD. If I'm ever blessed with children I would feel good about letting them watch.


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Such a cute little stinger

Dhani Harrison must relinquish the Dead Ringer Award and give it to Joe Sumner. Joe's band, Fiction Plane, played a bar here last night. I swear they must have shoved Sting into the Wayback Machine and gave him a haircut. Eerie! His voice is a bit deeper, but there were moments. They put on a great show if you get the chance to see them.

I'm an elm, Barbara

Organizers of a workshop for writers are passing out this survey:

1) Do you use music to inspire your writing? Have you used it to overcome writer's block? Please feel free to name specific types of music YOU use to inspire what you write. No more than three examples. Actually I do listen to music sometimes when I write, if only for the comforting white noise when I'm at home. I have also found that when I play music while I'm editing that the work goes faster. As for specific types, it varies from country to hard rock to funk.

2) Do you, or have you, used certain scents to inspire your writing? If so, list a couple of examples. Perfumes, flowers, potpourri, candles, cologne, all fall into this area. No, I'm just happy when the neighbors downstairs aren't smoking, which is rare. I swear, I think those people just light cigarettes and leave them burning like incense sticks.

3) Do you, or have you, used Feng Shui to enhance your writing space? Please list a couple of examples or experiences with regard to your writing. My room is beyond Feng Shui. My room needs Bulldozer Shui. I keep telling Malc that leaving up the toilet seat is bad Feng Shui, but he doesn't listen, and that's why we're poor.

4) Do you use physical exercise, yoga, or meditation to overcome writers block? If so, what forms? List a couple of examples and how it has helped you in your writing. No, I use exercise to get rid of my gigantic tush, caused by too many hours of sitting in one place trying to figure out how to get rid of writer's block.

There are six more questions, all pertaining to writer's block, which I don't appear to suffer right now, only when I'm trying to find answers for the rest of the questions.

It's like television, without Ozzy and Zora and that Orbit Gum chick

The second week of March is National Read an eBook Week. I'm still not sure who ordained this, but I won't rest until I get answers!

Stay tuned for a list of the many ways you can celebrate.

But he looks like such a happy bubble chasing that butterfly

Side effects of Zoloft may include back pain, dizziness, sleepiness, and sexual dysfunction.

What happens if these are the reasons you're depressed?

Shatner is the shiznit's gonna be...a long...long time before I can ever get Shatner singing "Rocket Man" out of my head. Thanks, Victor, I think.

It's like the Writer's Market, but different

Credit Nicke Martinez: he has compiled a comprehensive guide to Catholic publishing in a free eBook, available at his website. I've not yet downloaded the file, but apparently it is a list of Catholic publishers, magazines, and agents friendly to Catholic manuscripts. Thanks, Nicke, for saving me the trouble of putting such a document together myself.

For the record...

Every book reviewed on Catholic/Christian Reviews and the other places where my byline appears was actually read by me. In some instances it may have taken forever and a day, but the book was read. According to the Evening Standard, that's not always the case, but I'm not worried. Saints Preserve Us is rather short.

Quick, somebody call Geddy Lee

Make sure he's breathing.

Man, this is not the decade to be a bass player. First the Ox, then Dee Dee Ramone, now Heartbreaker Howie Epstein. All drug-related deaths, too. That is not to way to live.

I have to be careful now. I fear this blog may turn into what George Carlin sees as the news: what's burning and who's dead.

One more - to the sanitation workers who woke us up at five this morning: $#@&%!

It was 60 years ago today...

What I feel, I can't say

But my love is there for you anytime of day

But if it's not love that you need

Then I'll try my best to make everything succeed

Tell me, what is my life without your love

Tell me, who am I without you, by my side

The Kiss of Death, in Stereo

As I was telling Joshua this morning, I don't know Norah Jones from Tom Jones, but since she came away a big winner at the Grammys last night I guess I'm happy for her. Personally, I find it difficult to take the Grammys seriously ever since the infamous Jethro Tull/Hard Rock-Heavy Metal award incident (I love Tull, but they ain't metal).

This is a good time to keep track of Norah's career, now that she has the Best New Artist award, known affectionately by Colin Hay as the "Kiss of Death." You win this trophy, and supposedly your career is immediately circling the bowl. This, of course, is unfounded, considering that the Beatles took the award in '65. However, has anybody seen Jody Watley lately?

The problem I have with this award is that sometimes it is given to somebody who has recorded previously. Lauryn Hill, for example, won in 1999, after recording with The Fugees. Shelby Lynne (2001) had recorded a few albums before her win. While I don't discount their talent, how is it possible that they were considered new artists?

Participation Positives

  • Preliminary editing of Second Chances finished
  • Received a few requests for Saints Preserve Us from reviewers
  • Going to write an article for Mystery Scene Magazine
  • Going to write an article for The Alhambran
  • We didn't get washed away in the rain

Get real

Rick has an interesting post at b4G about reality TV. I agree that most of it is cr*p, but there are a few gems out there. Malc is hooked on Global Extremes on Outdoor Life Network, where people have to endure extreme temparatures and terrains to be selected for a team which will attempt to climb Everest. Then there's the upcoming Colonial House on PBS, which holds interest for us since we used to live in Williamsburg. The show, however, will not be taped there. An acquaintance of ours who works for Colonial Williamsburg has applied to be on the show, and considering his skills he should be a shoo-in. We'll see.

Sing to the tune of Aerosmith

Karen Hall gives us Write This Way, the blog for writers. It is actually billed for aspiring writers, but from the looks of its early stages there will be some valuable information there for writers of some experience as well. I don't consider myself a professional writer, but I like to think I have stepped beyond the aspiring stage, though I will always aspire to write.

The latest post there, regarding the oft-asked question of finding an agent, struck a chord. I don't have an agent, and I'm not really looking for one right now, but I can sympathize with anyone who is constantly asked such questions. People have asked me similar questions over the years, the most common being "How can I get on the fast track to being published?" My answer: "I don't know, but if you find out first please tell me so I can lace up my shoes."

There is no fast track, no quick and dirty method, no guaranteed magic formula. Even if you are fortunate to get a novel published, it is not necessarily a given that your next one will be published, too. True, there are the POD companies, but if I had to give advice to an aspiring writer it would be to not worry about getting an agent or getting into print, but to worry about writing, and writing well. Before you fork over that $90 fee make sure what you have written is worth killing the tree. Me, I used to be impatient, churning out first drafts and sending them out unsolicited, only to be heartbroken when the rejection slips came back. Now I'm much more meticulous. Little Flowers went through six drafts; Saints Preserve Us clocked out at seven, and still I go to bed at night thinking I could have done more.

What books on writing should you read? Try the dictionary, for starters. Should you learn Latin first, as Rita Mae Brown advises in her own writing guide? I don't know. Maybe that would be a good subject for Karen's next blog.

Chicken Soup for Catholics

Well, I'm not sure I can say that, but since I edit and distribute a newsletter for Catholic writers I have been getting quite a bit of mail about the Amazing Grace series, edited by Jeff Cavins and Matthew Pinto. The format for their books looks the same, and they are currently looking for stories for a number of volumes. The most recent announcement came today, for Amazing Grace for Homeschoolers. Check it out if you have a story to tell.

Maggie May

This comes from my e-pal Tim Bete, who co-chairs the Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop. Erma would have been 76 today. I don't recall the television show mentioned below, but I have seen the film with Carol Burnett based upon Erma's book The Grass is Always Greener on the Other Side of the Septic Tank. Cute movie if you can find it.


Dayton, Ohio -- Erma Bombeck would have celebrated her 76th birthday on Feb. 21, but the gift of her humor lives on because of an online museum created by the University of Dayton with the Bombeck family. Erma graduated from UD in 1949.

"Each year on Erma's birthday we like to add items to the Erma Bombeck Online Museum," said Tim Bete, humor columnist and curator of the museum. "It's our way of honoring Erma and giving her millions of fans something to help remember her. This year we've added seven complete episodes of the Maggie sitcom Erma wrote and executive produced. The programs can be viewed on the Web."

While Erma Bombeck is best known for her newspaper column which celebrated the extraordinary in the ordinary and chronicled life's absurdities, the Maggie sitcom showed her versatility as a writer. Erma's syndicated column was carried by 700 newspapers prior to her death of kidney disease in 1996.

Maggie was about an ordinary family from Dayton, Ohio (where Erma grew up), and included a son who hadn't been seen since he'd entered the bathroom when he hit puberty. The show starred Doris Roberts, who later won an Emmy for her role in Everybody Loves Raymond.

"I was a housewife and mother, too, so it was easy for me to come up with story ideas," said Karyl Miller, Emmy award-winning writer-producer who was the executive story consultant for the Maggie sitcom. "Working with Erma was wonderful. It was like having a girlfriend at work. Erma wasn't Hollywood, she was a housewife."

ABC ordered 13 episodes of Maggie, which aired in late 1981 and early 1982. The show ran for eight weeks before it was canceled.

"Erma was so disappointed," said Miller. "She said Maggie was her one and only sitcom, whereas the other Maggie writers would just go on to work on some other series -- which was true. The show's timeslot was moved around a lot, so no viewers could find us. That's death to a new show."

The Erma Bombeck online museum was launched in Feb. 2002 and contains more than 100 items including audio and video clips of Erma's family and friends, such as Phil Donahue, Bil Keane, Mike Peters and Liz Carpenter, among others. The museum also contains rare columns and photos and Erma's biography.

Erma Bombeck graduated from the University of Dayton in 1949 with a degree in English and never forgot that she got her start as a writer at UD. She credited the University of Dayton with preparing her for life and work, for making her believe she could write. The University of Dayton holds the Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop every other year to teach and encourage humor and human interest writers. The next workshop will be spring 2004. Other notable UD graduates in the media include Don Novello '64 (comedy writer, author and actor best known for the role Father Guido Sarducci on "Saturday Night Live"), Denise Palmer '77 (publisher and CEO, Baltimore Sun), Thomas Mazza '81 (independent producer, formerly president of Columbia Tri-Star Television and executive vice president of Paramount Network Television), Jay Smith (president, Cox Newspapers) and Chip Bok '74 (nationally syndicated editorial cartoonist, The Beacon Journal).

"You don't have to check your local TV listings to see when Maggie will be on," says Bete. "You can tune in and laugh 24/7. That's a pretty good time slot for a show that was canceled."

You can visit the museum at

It never ends.

Cue the "Circle of Life" song from The Lion King. March is National Novel Editing Month now. I don't even know where my NaNo notebook is!

We teased him a lot, 'cause we got him on the spot

Welcome back, Tim.

Speaking of Mr. Kot-teer, did he teach just that one class?


Lynn Johnston plans to end For Better or For Worse in four years, when her contract expires. I'll be sorry to see it go, though it's not my all-time favorite. I still miss Calvin and Hobbes, Bloom County and Thatch. I can think of several other strips I'd rather see retire before FBoFW, but I'll tell you this: Bill Amend does not my permission to retire, or die.

I would love to be able to produce a daily comic strip; I have a great idea for one, and could probably write it, but I can't draw worth a damn. Maybe one day I'll find a co-conspira, er, partner.

Meanwhile, here's an inoffensive Catholic-themed strip, for once - Potluck Parish.

Road Trip II!

Branagh's back on stage in London this spring. What can we sell on eBay to pay for the flight?

Tough choice there

Probably the only time we'll see Bono and the Pope nominated for the same award, and it's not the Grammy.

The St. Blog's Conspiracy

You just can't outsmart Jeff Miller. I certainly won't rebut what he has uncovered about the massive St. Blog's conspiracy. Actually, I'm ashamed to admit I have been taken for a pawn in the whole situation. For so long we have been trying to find the origins of St. Blog. Well, I would like to announce now, sadly, it has been nothing more than a ruse. I'm beginning to doubt the existence of an actual St. Blog, especially after an anonymous e-pal sent a virtual prayer card of the saint. I don't claim to be an expert, but the saint looked a bit too much like Dennis Franz. He was even wearing a short-sleeved shirt.

After some extensive research (and snooping around) I have managed to uncover a photograph of the culprits responsible for this play on our faith and sensibilities, a clandestine snapshot taken at an orientation for new "recruits":

Oz and Marilyn at the ice cream social

I don't doubt, however, that we can take back our virtual parish and rebuild to an even greater glory. Looks like Ozzy's getting bored with it anyway.

Get Literate

Wal-Mart is sponsoring Literacy Day, to be held at area Wal-Marts and Sam's Clubs on April 12. They are looking for authors and writers to speak at local stores. Pass it along.

Mrs. Dubcek would not be amused

Cliffhanger with Sly Stallone was on last night. Haven't seen that movie in years, but I couldn't sit through it this time. I can't watch John Lithgow as a bad guy anymore, not without expecting him to shout, "Go get the bag of money, Sly, by order of the High Commander! I'm taking Mary Albright to Spago's tonight and I need the cash."

One quarrel I did have about the movie: you have this group of criminals, and they know next to nothing about mountain climbing. They're treating Sly, the expert, like dirt and threatening to kill him. Uh, if you kill him won't that be an obstacle in getting off the mountain? 100 million dollars is worthless if you're stuck on the side of a mountain freezing off your cajones. Plus, what kind of idiot shoots a gun into the side of a snow-covered mountain and doesn't expect an avalanche to come rolling down and kill him? Wouldn't a more suave criminal have just played nice until he got the bags and got on the ground? Then you shank Sly and make off with his Range Rover. Think, people!

Yes, I need to change the reading list on the right-hand side. I haven't even cracked open two of those books yet because other titles keep getting shifted around my book queue. Recently I've been reading books in order to offer back cover quotes, rather than a full review. If you're ever on or an equivalent store check out the forthcoming Leah's Way by Robert Botelho and Emily Snyder's Niamh and the Hermit for my thumbs-up.

Road Trip!

WooHoo! A European tour!

Must be very lonely in the Village

The spam mail I get is usually for pr0n sites or submitting my website to 1,000,000 search engines for just one bloated fee of $250 - never mind that there are really only three search engines worth the time. Never before have I received such mail from a member of the Village People looking for visitors to his site, but I did today - Randy Jones World. He was the cowboy, by the way, but my heart will always belong to Leatherman, God rest his soul.

Monday Mission!

1. For me, breakfast usually consists of a bagel and cream cheese. And I wait until about 10AM to eat it, mostly to avoid eating a mid-morning snack. What do you like to eat for breakfast? Do you even eat breakfast? I usually don't eat breakfast, but when I do it's a bowl of oatmeal or Special K, sometimes a muffin. Today it was peanut butter crackers.

2. Back in 1990, I worked at a radio station in the Promotions Department. Our office was directly below the DJ booth. One day there was this thundering bass booming from upstairs. It was just a huge booming sound, with an amazing beat. My manager and I bolted out of the office and up the stairs to the production room. When we opened the door I was smacked in the body by a wall of sound. What I heard reminded me of "Super Freak" but the bass was thumping like I'd never heard before. Then the vocals began, it was a "rap" I would never forget: "My, my, my music hits me so hard, makes me say 'Oh, My Lord, thank you for blessin' me, with a mind to rhyme and two hyped feet.'" The song was MC Hammer's "U Can't Touch This" and it blew my mind. What was the song that "blew your mind" and is etched in your brain forever? Recall the moment and why it remains in your mind. That would probably have to be U2's "Mysterious Ways." I remember driving home from school or work, and the DJ was hyping the song because it was the first release from U2's latest album (was it Achtung, Baby?). I just remember being struck by those first few chords.

3. Do you like to gamble? Have you ever won (or lost) big? I don't gamble. I don't even play the lottery. The closest thing I have done is guess the Oscar winners. Once I won a book of movie passes from a website contest for getting all but three right.

4. Some people find comfort for their troubled mind in food. Others find it in music or books. What do you turn to for comfort when you are troubled or worried? Sometimes I pray, sometimes I eat. Sometimes I pray while I'm eating.

5. When was the last time you felt apathetic? What was it about? Yesterday. The rain wouldn't stop and I couldn't get off the couch. The Daytona 500 was rained out, and I just didn't want to do anything.

6. I just read that Google bought Pyra Labs ( Although Blogging was going "mainstream" before this, it most certainly will now have greater exposure and, one assumes, bring us even more Bloggers. Is this a good thing? I don't know. Seems every time a small Internet company gets bought by a large Internet company something goes wrong. I've seen it first hand, having worked in the industry. The bigger company suddenly realizes they made a mistake, and ends up firing everybody, or something like that.

7. What did you do with all your freetime before you blogged? I wrote. Still do.

BONUS: Should I stay or should I go now? If you go there will be trouble.

And You Thought the Posters Were Controversial

Received an order for an eBook paid with a Pro-Life Zinger check. Four different designs. Write one to Barbra Streisand and watch the fireworks.

Participation Positives!

  • Finished edits on two novel assignments.
  • Received the galleys for Saints Preserve Us!
  • Almost finished with the corrections for Dangerous Words!

Check your sports page tomorrow. The headline may read something like Michael Waltrip takes Daytona. In my neck of the woods, it might read Rain robs Ricky Rudd of Daytona victory. Rudd's from these parts, and when NASCAR is in season they might as well rename the paper The Rudd Report, because no other driver matters. Never mind that Rudd probably hasn't been this way in years.

Valentine's Day Recap

Fancy restaurant. Large bill. Rude hostess. Great food. Hour wait between appetizer and main course. Mortified waiter. Next year, Taco Bell.

Scratch That Last Header

The state of Catholic publishing, an interview with Matt Pinto: part one and part two.

Also in the Hopeful News Department: Scribes World gives five out five stars to Leaps of Faith! The review reads in part: Karina and Robert Fabian merge science and faith in an anthology of fifteen Christian science fiction stories that ignites our imaginations. In an age where the Catholic Church is under scrutiny by newspapers and tabloids for societal abuses and archaic practices, it’s refreshing to read stories that project the church into an enlightened future.

The full review runs in March. Way to go, guys!

We All Know That Cr*p is King


Basically the gist of the message: "You are a gifted writer. God has given you a great talent. I'll have to pass on your story."

That's it. For my next novel all of my characters are going to be nymphomaniac, cannibalistic Green Acres fans who don't bathe and drive AMC Pacers. Including the dogs, and especially the chickens. Maybe people will want to read that kind of story.


Mmm, Savoy Truffles

On this Feast Day of St. Valentine, I picked a candy heart from my co-worker's candy dish. Lo and behold I find this message etched in pink candy ink:

I'm telling you, it's a sign from above. Paulie is fated to be my Valentine.

Anyway, I consulted the Catholic Encyclopedia to discover that there are actually three St. Valentines on record, all martyrs for the Faith. How their feast day eventually morphed into a cash cow for Hallmark baffles me, but the Encyclopedia offers an explanation of the origins of the modern holiday, as does About, this page from UF, and For a more cynical view of the day, I had planned to link this very funny editorial my former co-worker wrote for the Pilot, but it's not on their site. I supposed I could always tell you about the Valentine's Day my now ex-boyfriend took me to a Steven Seagal film, but there's not much to tell there. We didn't last much longer after that.

If you're really feeling cynical today, check out the Anti-Valentine's Day Guide.

Today's Fortune Cookie

Enough is as good as a feast.

After Kathy the Carmelite and Dylan, my top ten songs of the 70s, never to be available on K-Tel Records, and never to be plugged on TV at three in the morning by Lauren Tewes and Nina Blackwood:

  • "The Long and Winding Road" - Beatles
  • "Superfly" - Curtis Mayfield
  • "Heart of the Sunrise" - Yes
  • "Best I Can" and "Working Man" (tie) - Rush
  • "Ziggy Stardust" - David Bowie
  • "The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys" - Traffic
  • "Kid Charlemagne" - Steely Dan
  • "Cross-Eyed Mary" - Jethro Tull
  • "Dream On" - Aerosmith
  • "I'll Have You Anytime" - George Harrison

Honorable mentions: "Margaritaville" - Jimmy Buffett, "Nights on Broadway" - Bee Gees, "Kashmir" - Led Zeppelin, "Band on the Run" - Wings, "I Wanna Be Sedated" - Ramones

I didn't get the chance to meet Barbara Nicolosi at the Catholic Writers Festival, but she's blogging now. Barbara heads up the Act One Screenwriting program, and her blog is designed to inform the masses about the film industry from the Christian point of view. It looks like a good blog to consult before you decide to spend eight dollars and two hours of your life on a piece of cr*p movie.

My favorite quote so far from the blog: ...Nicole [Kidman] managed to amaze me, despite the fact that I was fighting waves of nausea and disgust at the horribleness of the story in The Hours, the tortured inversion of truth in the film's theme, the dialogue which was remarkable several times for being bizarrely inappropriate to the moment, and even the score, best described as cacophonic irresolution, which made me envy Ed Harris when he jumped out the window. At least he could get away from it.

Seriously, Barbara, tell us how you really feel.

I haven't seen The Hours, and the consensus around the Christian blogs is run, run away. However, the book won the Pulitzer, and my goal is to read all the fiction winners. Malc and I also try to watch all five Best Picture nominees each year, so it appears I can't run, run away. Maybe I'll wait for it to go to the dollar theater.

The things people search for on the Internet

A warm welcome to the visitor who got here through the keyphrase Meryl Streep morning sickness. Does this mean she throws up in 20 different dialects, too?

Still more referrals from searches on that Levi Jeans buffalo commercial. I think they're eclipsing the Dhani Harrison searches. Man, I hope Dhani Harrison doesn't do a Levi's commercial.

No, wait. I do. I need visitors. I have two books coming out in the spring.

Blame It On Rio...or Yahoo Mail

A gentleman who penned a book titled Leah's Way had contacted me for a review/PR quote. To him: Dummy that I am, I accidentally erased your contact information. If you're reading this now, please contact me.

Do You Take Aragorn...

Quenta doesn't mention if she's married. I found her a wedding dress for when the time comes.

Bury My Heart at Electric Ladyland

Not one more word about how Catholics go overboard with shrines.

Samantha...or Jeannie?

Sony Pictures Television is conducting a poll of which TV series people would like to see released on DVD. Sadly, there are no write-in votes. I'm sure fans of Fernwood 2 Night everywhere will be disappointed.

They Has Our Precious, and We Wants It!

To hear everybody talk about The Two Towers being the better of the LoTR trilogy thus far, you wouldn't know it from the Oscar nominations - only six this time. Peter Jackson and Gollum were robbed! Somebody explain how Pedro Almodovar gets nominated for Best Director when his film doesn't even get a Best Picture nod. It wasn't even nominated for Best Foreign Film!

Silent No More

Some new abortion-related blogs I've added to the list: The S.I.C.L.E Cell and After Abortion. Thanks to Leslie Graves for the latter link.

Despite the fact that I have never had a Bloody Mary in my life, that is how I scored on the cocktail quiz. Who knew?

You know those plastic keychain blanks you get at the hardware store - they come with a slip of paper inside that you use for labelling house keys and garage keys, etc.? You know where I can buy those in bulk?

Monday Mission!

1. In the States, every citizen is expected to perform his/her civic duty and serve on a jury at some point. This week, I am on jury duty. Have you ever had to serve on a jury? Nope. Never been called. Although the week before my wedding my mother-in-law got a notice. Thankfully, she called in and was relieved.

2. If you were to ever serve on a jury, would you be able to give someone the death penalty? No, I don't think I could do that.

3. One thing that concerns me about jury duty is what my life would be like if I had to convict someone. I'd always be worried about some sort of retaliation from the convict, or his/her family. Has fear of negative consequences ever kept you from reporting a crime or voicing your opinion? Somebody's been watching too much Oz! :-) I can't say fear has kept me from doing anything like that, but the most I've done is make an anonymous call to the police when the neighbors were getting loud at two in the morning. As for voicing my opinion, I think everybody can agree I haven't been afraid to talk these last few weeks.

4. When it comes to convictions, I've never even been convicted of speeding (accused, yes, but heh, never convicted). Have you ever been accused of or convicted for breaking any laws? What's the real story there? I've never been to court, if that's what you're asking. I've had some problems in the past with websites and posting things that turned out to be copyrighted, but I always squared everything with the plantiff.

5. It looks like I will have a lot of time on my hands this week in the jury pool. I may get called, I may not. If not, I go back tomorrow. Rinse, wash, repeat. How would you pass the time if you had to sit and wait around from 8am-5pm for 5 days? I could probably get the first draft of the Saints Preserve Us sequel done.

6. One thing I do like about this "civic duty" is that it will be at the downtown courthouse. I LOVE downtown. There is just so much life there. What part of your town is your favorite to visit? Why? What makes it so special? I love the beach, especially in the off season because there is nobody around and it's like you have the whole town to yourself.

7. I'm not that outgoing around strangers, so I doubt I will be meeting many new people this week. Do you have any problems striking up a conversation with someone you don't know? Have chance encounters with strangers ever led to interesting new relationships or opportunities? I don't normally chat up strangers, but Malc has that uncanny ability. Sit next to him in a bar and say hi, and soon you're hearing the story of his life. Once when I was waiting in line for Anne Rice to sign a book, Malc sat off to one side and talked with this gentleman about the whole thing (line was wrapped around the building twice). Turns out the guy was Anne's agent. Shame I didn't have anything to give him then. Malc's just like that. He meets all the interesting people.

BONUS: So if I tell you that you're really something baby, will you stay or will you go away? Only if you tell me that there's something in the way I move that attracts you like no other.

Participation Positives!

  • Final edits for Saints Preserve Us turned in
  • Final edits for Dangerous Words received
  • has a good review of Leaps of Faith coming
  • Dad and Dad-in-Law had good birthdays

Jeff Miller's back, on his new domain. However, he has experienced a death in the family, so please remember him in your prayers.

Let it Be, Let it Be, For the Love of Jackie Susann, Let it Be

First Gone with the Wind gets the sequel treatment with books by Alexandra Ripley and (coming soon) Pat Conroy. Then there was a Valley of the Dolls sequel that surpassed the original in the blech department. Now Puzo. The Godfather is back: tanned, rested and ready to be revived by a Florida author. I can understand the market for books like this; people are endeared to these characters and want to read more about them. That's probably why fan fiction is so popular. These types of books, though, I see as nothing more than glorified fan fiction. The Middle Earth and Dune series I don't mind; at least some of the books are written by descendents of Tolkien and Herbert, but I'd think if Margaret Mitchell wanted to continue Rhett and Scarlett's adventures she would have seen to a second book herself.

Of course, I say this now and run the risk of discouraging the estate of EM Forster from hiring me to write Another Room with a View: The Wrath of Cecil.

Chocolate and Beer, Together At Last

Earlier I had commented on the cookbook blog about chocolate-flavored beer. Today I received a nice missive from John of Brewers United for Real Potables (Yes, I know what the acronym spells) who heartily recommends Brooklyn Brewery's Black Chocolate Stout.

Question is, what do you eat with chocolate beer? Can you dunk Oreo cookies in it?

Well, here's a reassuring headline. I'm surprised it didn't explain that no could violence could be had because everybody was using walkers or hooked up to IV poles.

In completely unrelated news, the final edits for Saints Preserve Us are almost done! Download price for the eBook version will be six dollars, and the print price is not yet determined. Hopefully the cover will be done soon so I can upload it.

Suicide is Painless, Revivals Not So

Funny satirical article on M*A*S*H fans wanting another Korean War if it means a show revival. Quick, somebody tell Karen Hall to start cranking out scripts.

Of course, a revival wouldn't be the same without Ferret Face and Colonel Flagg, God rest their souls (Henry, too).

Is there a Canon Lawyer in the house?

Please, somebody clear this up for me: J. Lo wants to marry in a Catholic church, but since she is already twice-divorced she must have her two previous marriages annulled. Okay. Now here's where I'm confused: my aunt was divorced once when she was planning to remarry. First marriage was a civil ceremony, the second one was a Catholic ceremony. I had asked my mother how this was possible in so short a time if my aunt needed an annullment. I was told that since my aunt's first marriage was civil, the Church did not recognize it. Now, I don't know if my aunt had that first marriage annulled long ago, and unfortunately I cannot ask her since she has since passed away.

So the question is: does a civil, non-religious marriage that ended in divorce need to be annulled before one can marry in the Catholic Church? Thanks in advance.

Where the Buffalo Roam (It Ain't Here, BTW)

A lively welcome to everybody who has been coming here from search referrals for the Levi's buffalo stampede commercial. Sorry to say, however, that I have no idea what song was playing during the commercial. I wear Lees.

Hey, Let's Start Another Meme Thingy!

Peter Milliron and Josh Claybourn have posted five guilty pleasures apiece. Mine, in no particular order:

  • MTV Cartoons (Daria, 3 South, etc.)
  • Chocolate
  • Days of Our Lives
  • Geddy Lee

Near the same post, Peter also listed five things he never wants to see again. I did something similar with a Monday Mission, but as far as things go I could live happily and never see another Coors Light commercial...with THE TWINS!!!!!!!!!!!!

It's going to be so nice when everybody's comment boxes start working again. I had wanted to comment on Victor's post about the joy of not working. I can sympathize with Victor, particularly about the lack of helpful information on employment leads. When Cox Interactive Media was in the process of being folded back into the parent company (read: tanking), all CIM employees were invited to a company-wide conference call with the consultant firm hired to help jettisoned employees return to the workforce. What a farce that was. About 75% of the call was spent viewing the firm's website with photographs of the consultants. ("Love the pearls, Junior League," cracked the co-worker next to me.) It's a good thing our studio had the mute button on when the pearl-wearer in question informed us, very seriously, that we should use the scroll bar on the side of the browser window to view the rest of the page. Hel-lo, you're talking to people who work for an Internet company!

I'm glad Victor is taking a healthy outlook to his situation, and I'll be sure to remember him in my next St. Joseph novena (he'll have to pull double-duty; my brother is trying to sell his house). I wasn't so forgiving. With my situation, there was nothing illegal or immoral happening with the higher-ups, the websites just weren't making the ad revenue projected. It probably didn't help that so much money was thrown at the sites in the beginning. Alas, there's nothing we can do about that now. The websites, save for the Atlanta, Palm Beach, Dayton and Austin markets, are pretty much gone. Some were sucked into their respective Cox TV affiliates, while the rest are now part of Cox's general cookie-cutter start page. It's a shame, they were great websites.

I've been itching to make a layout change at the book review blog. I've been slow to do this, however, because I have always liked that image of St. Teresa. I have it on a holy card on which is printed her famous "bookmark" quote, words I strive to live by daily.

Anyway, I'm thinking it is time for a change, since that layout has been active since June. I'm thinking of using another great literary saint or perhaps a more modern Catholic figure (Chesterton, Tolkien, etc.). Suggestions are welcome.

Keep Your Feet on the Ground, and Keep Reaching for the Stars

Yes, we're counting 'em down with Casey, the Top Ten Catholics of 2002. But first, it's time for our long distance dedication. Kathryn L. write to us, she writes:

Dear Casey, lately I have been feeling disillusioned with the recent departures of several bloggers in my parish. First Amy, and now Jeff. I can't help but wonder who will be next, and if any blogs will be updated the next time I log onto the Internet. I can't bear to see these wonderful people fade into cyberspace. I will miss their humor and insight terribly. So, Casey, could you please play "Baby Come Back," by Player, to let these people know how much I will miss them, and that I hope they will one day return?

Kathryn, here's your long distance dedication.

Update: 9:54AM - Just received this e-mail: The folks at Casey's Top Ten wish to extend their most sincere apologies for playing "Baby Got Back" during the Long Distance Dedication segment. Those responsible for the mix-up have been sacked. Meanwhile, be sure to check Nick-at-Nite for Jean Kasem's next hilarious guest-star appearance on Cheers.

Plug O' the Day

Become What You Are is the blog of David Reuter, a professional counselor who uses the blog as part of his ministry to married couples and anyone else in need of counseling. Currently he is in the process of developing The Center for Peace in the Family, an outreach of The Apostolate for Peace in the Family which he and his family formed several years ago. I come across this blog frequently in my travels around the parish and recommend it.

Check out the blog for daily reflections. Also in the works is a resources page with related articles, links, and a mental health inventory.

I won't be able to watch the Columbia memorial today, but in honor of our fallen I'll be signing off for the rest of the day. Please remember the astronauts and their families in your prayers.

Also, don't forget the many, many others who lost their lives in accidents since space exploration began. Requiescat in pace.

Will win at Daytona for beer

Miller Lite will give away coupons for free beer at the Daytona 500 if Rusty wins. Rusty hasn't won Daytona in about 20 years, so I hope Miller gives him something more if he manages to pull that one out of his hat.

Mark Martin victory/free Viagra joke in 3...2...oh, forget it.

Bold Fashion Statements

Prolife Guy sends us this post about a junior high student being told to remove his pro-life T-shirt. I can recall only one time in high school when a classmate was reprimanded for a T-shirt. He had bought it at a recent Guns 'N Roses concert, and the front depicted the image of woman slouched against a brick wall who appeared to have been raped/ravaged/whatever. Next to that was a "spraypainted" message on the brick wall - Guns 'N Roses was here. I think what happened was that the student ended up wearing it inside out for the rest of the day.

I'd like to see this pro-life T-shirt. It can't possibly be any more disgusting than GNR's little foray into fashion.

Monday Mission!

1. Do you remember the first LP, 45, CD or CD single that you bought? Recreate the scene for me. The Pic 'N Save discount store was about two miles from my house, and about two blocks from my parochial school. When I reached the eighth grade my parents let me ride my bicycle to school on the days I had after-school activities. One day I had saved up some money and went over to the Pic 'N Save to browse the record racks. At this time I had some records and tapes, but my parents had bought them for me, and they were mainly muscians and groups I hadn't heard of (Carole King's Tapestry, for one, which I didn't truly appreciate until I was older). Anyway, The Stray Cats were really big around this time, and that day I bought Rant and Rave with The Stray Cats on vinyl, then rode all the way home with a death grip on the plastic bag because I didn't want to drop it or bang it against anything. I don't have the record anymore; it was probably shunted to a Goodwill pile in a fit of cleaning.

2. What was the last CD or song that you actually paid money for? The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys by Traffic, bought at a used CD shop. The last new CD I bought was Restoration by Bob James.

3. It is my personal opinion that "Munchos" and "Funjuns" are the most perfect snack food ever. What do you think is the best snack food ever? Well, Chex Mix is the official snack of Come On, Get Lively, but I love any kind of flavored popcorn.

4. Comedian George Carlin once pointed out that we consider the things we like to keep around us to be our "stuff," whereas other people's stuff is just junk to us (ok, he used more colorful language, but you get the idea). What "stuff" do you have that someone else might just throw away if they were cleaning out your house? We have some old handheld video games, those Coleco machines, that for some reason Malc kept. Football with tiny red dots for players set against a black field. They still work, too.

5. Do you think it is wrong for people to rush to eBay and start selling Space Shuttle Columbia collectibles? I read on FARK that eBay was already trying to delete auctions for pieces of the shuttle - that is tacky. If people, however, want to buy a patch or bumper sticker to commemorate the crew, I see no problem with that. It's the overabundance of souvenirs flooding the market that irritates me. When Princess Diana died you could everything from CDs to Princess Di bottle openers. There has to be a limit.

6. Does it bother you when President Bush speaks about God and invokes Scripture quotations from the Bible during his speeches? No, and it didn't bother me when Reagan spoke of the Challenger crew trying to "touch the face of God."

7. I have a friend who think's she's being photographed in public restrooms. What paranoid delusion do you have? That life is really like the Matrix, that in reality we are all just blobs of atrophied muscle and flesh sealed away in pod and being used as batteries. If this is true, I'd hope the Matrix people would at least arrange it so I could pay off my debts.

Bonus: Can't you feel the weight of my stare? Yes. Heavy, baby.

Well, the news just doesn't get any better, does it? Amy Welborn has left the blog, which means we'll be spending the next several weeks arguing over who gets to be the next Queen Blog Bee. I suppose suitable successors would include Kathy Shaidle and Eve Tushnet. Any others? We could announce the final voting on Oscar night.

Update: 2:05PM

RE: comments so far - quoth the Kat, "Me-ow!"

Participation Positives

This will be difficult to do; who can think of something positive following a national tragedy, especially at a time when we really don't need anymore of them? Not only that, but my father threw out his hip. He's better now, but still...

I will say, though, how much I liked Bush's speech. It reminded me of Reagan's poignant memorial to the Challenger crew.

As far as I know, there is no patron saint of space exploration. One would have thought, since we have been sending rockets and shuttles into outer space since the 60s, one of this century's popes might have appointed one. Of course, if there is one please let me know.

If not, I would suggest St. Francis Xavier, co-founder of the Society of Jesus with St. Ignatius. Francis is best known for having visited many far away places to spread the Gospel. He had ventured to Asia and was on his way to China when he died. I like to think there is a parallel here, since Francis was trekking into the unknown of his time, just as these brave astronauts have done time and again. God bless them.


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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