Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Turkey and Pumpkin...Chunkin

I'm posting this early as I don't expect to be anywhere near a computer or keyboard on Thanksgiving day. That would require washing the grease off my fingers, and you know a won't have time for that. After all, I don't wanna be lickin' my fingers, and get the taste of soap in my mouth to spoil all the gastronomic goodness having a party in my belly.

Yeah, that's right. I plan on eating at least some of my Thanksgiving meal with my fingers. I'm not doing it because I'm a slob, or anything. I'm merely trying to give myself, and others, the most authentic Thanksgiving experience possible.

Yes, it's true. Did you know that, for the the first Thanksgiving feast in the year 1621, the Pilgrims did not have forks? They used knives, spoons, and their hands to gobble up that turkey. And, by the way, turkey was one of the few items they had back then that we still eat today. Back then they had no pumpkin pie, gelatinous cranberry substance from a can, not even butter for the corn. They didn't have these things mainly because they had previously run out of sugar and flour. They also had to learn how to eat strange new foods indigenous to North America. But, fortunately for them, turkey was one of those foods.

Ever wonder how a turkey came to be called turkey? Actually, back in the day, the Natives called the turkey a Peru. Not that South American country but the name of this big wild bird. Most pilgrims were still calling the bird a Guinea Fowl because that's what they had in Europe. In fact, most folks continued to mistake the turkey for the guinea fowl until the bird was finally given a Latin name of Meleagras Gallopa in the 18th century. Most folks in Europe were already calling the bird a turkey since it was originally imported there by the spaniards via Turkey (the country). When faced with calling the bird by its Latin name or simply calling it a turkey, the latter is what stuck for Americans.

I absolutely love eating a big ole' turkey on Thanksgiving, along with sweet potato casserole, my wife's wonderful stuffing, and pumpkin pie.

While I'm on the subject of pumpkins, another new past time I've recently adopted (Okay, so I adopted it last year. But I plan on making it a tradition) is watching the annual punkin chunkin competition. I'd rather watch this than football because it helps me to realize that there are some really smart (or really stupid, depending on how you look at it) rednecks and hillbillies out there.

I think that punkin chunkin is something everyone should see, if only once in their lives. It's like, one of the wonders of the world, like a fine puree of science and stupidity. It truly is the thing to look forward to after a good hearty Thanksgiving meal. Watching it motivates me to get out there and do some math just so I can see how far a pumpkin can possibly be 'chunked.'

Now, if I could just convince the Science Channel or the Discovery Channel to televise our annual Noodlin' and Rattlesnake Rodeo outing, I'd be set. Well, if things don't work out, there's always a chance you'll eventually get to see my antics on the television show "A Thousand Ways to Die."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Wandering Aimlessly

When I was young, no more than thirteen or fourteen, I was lost in the Olympic Mountains. My father and I were hunting (probably for Elk) and he'd sent me up and over a ridge line in hopes of driving the animals down the other side of the mountain, where he was driving his truck along the old dirt roads.

Problem was, at that age (I think I've mentioned this before) I actually thought I was Grizzly Adams, and the mountains were my home. Well, I found out quickly that, like Grizzly Adams when he first sought the safety of the wilderness after being accused of a crime he did not commit, I was quite the greenhorn.

I walked up the ridge line thinking I would eventually reach the summit, and then simply walk down the other side until I met up with the road my father was driving on. Like I said, I was a young teenager, and unaware that a ridge line, does not a mountain make. The ridge went on, it seemed, forever, and I just continued to wander aimlessly along its crest. Before long, darkness ended my trek and I was forced to do the only thing I could think of given the situation-stay put.

It wasn't until suffering through the frigidly cold night, too cold and fearful to sleep, that I realized I could just walk back down the ridge line in the opposite direction as the day before. So, at first light, I was on my way. Within a few hours, I made it back to nearly the exact spot my father had dropped me off at, the day before. I started walking down the small dirt roadway, my rifle proudly, if not tiredly, cradled in my arms. It wasn't long before I heard my dad's truck speeding along the dirt road, kicking rocks in all directions.

As I unloaded my rifle and climbed into the truck, I looked at my father, thinking I was in alot of trouble. I saw a look of horror and relief etched across his face like I'd never seen before, or since. I'm sure he was thankful to have me back. We never spoke of the incident again, mainly because, as I matured, I realized he had been drinking when he'd come up with the original idea of me walking alone over a ridge to scare up game.

Yeah, I know that was a long story just to get to a point. I really think that one can run a blog in the same sense that I tried to gain success in hunting-by wandering aimlessly, ranting and throwing whatever one feels like out there.

I've recently read much material and articles about blogging. They all say that a successful blog is one with a specific purpose. Most of you that know me, know that I am a writer. Those that really know me, know that I've recently made some detours in writing within other genres, specifically fantasy, paranormal, and erotica, and run a website under a pen name.

Just what should a blog contain?

Everything I've read says that a blog should be specific, and that the author should concentrate o writing 'articles' on subjects pertaining specifically to their field.  My opinion though, is that a blog can be anything you want it to be. When I get closer to publication of my first mystery novel (which means that I'll have written at least two) I will start posting articles specifically to that end.

Until then, I'll just keep plugging away, writing whatever I feel. I spend enough time writing serious stuff on my other blog. I suppose, for those of you who really wonder what kind of stuff should go into a blog, my answer would be: whatever you want.

For this blog, anyway, one can expect to continue to see a variety of posts about writing in general, funny stories from my childhood, and, of course, some ranting by Daleville Dan, or maybe even me.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day

I know that I normally post about writing, or try to keep my posts light and whimsical, funny, and satirical on this blog, but today is special.

I want to take this opportunity to thank those who served our country in a way that nobody else can. The majority of those who serve do not come from wealth, they are not paid like senators or congress persons. They do not have the opportunity to give themselves pay raises or extended benefits but must struggle to live on the pay and benefits bestowed on them by those who, in most cases, have not served.

I want, more than anything, for America to understand that our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines, have the same beliefs and desires as other Americans. Only, they must remain silent and vigilant, in order to preserve the right of others to voice their opinions. A young man or woman deciding to serve should not be seen as some lack of humanity in their souls. On the contrary, they who serve have a deeper soul then most; and it must be deep because they must forever harbor and suppress those things they see and do that others were unwilling to commit to.

So during this Veteran's day, I am thankful each time a stranger shakes a veteran's hand on the street and thanks them for their service. I know this one small kind gesture can make all the difference in the heart on one serving, always prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for that stranger on the street. And some continue to sacrifice even after their death  when so-called 'religious' groups protest while their families merely attempt to bury their loved ones with honor.

A heartfelt thank you is wonderful, but I would ask that Americans take it one step further. Thank a veteran after Veteran's day. Listen to them, Let go your preconceived notions of what a soldier is and reach out to them, give them opportunity, give them jobs upon their return so that they may preserve their dignity. I say this because the unemployment rate of veterans is twice that of the nation. This simply should not be, and it expresses beyond words, how the majority of Americans (in the position to give jobs) really feel about those willing to give so much to others.

Please Americans, try to understand that those who served, and especially those returning from recent action, should not be looked upon as some kind of emotionless monster. Our soldiers today are not merely machines, they are sentient soldiers with feelings, thoughts, desires, like everyone else. The only difference is that soldier must put aside their personal beliefs and feelings in order to preserve the right of others to freely express that which they themselves cannot.

I know this because I am also a veteran. I served for twenty-two years in military service. I might add that my family also served. They were right along side me every step of the way. They remain with me, even today, as I continue to make adjustments to civilian life, with its freedoms and responsibilities.

My own son currently serves, and I could not be more proud of him, for I know that through his daily duties, he continues to provide me and other civilians with a measure of freedom and stability not found anywhere else on this Earth. I know because I've been to many other countries, and found, despite outside appearances, that they simply do not have what we have here. My son's girlfriend also serves, and my thoughts are with her as she is overseas. My thoughts are with her family as I know what they must feel having a soldier serving for their good. I know the strange mix of pride, gratitude, and fear they feel.

We all must remember, today and everyday, that a person who served, or is serving their country, is not some mindless machine. they are people like you and I. It may seem to some that they have no thoughts, feelings, or desires, but one must remember that they are trained, and willingly accept that training, in order to do things many others are simply unwilling do do.

So, as you walk about today, viewing parades and shaking the hand of those that serve, try to remember that they are the true saviours of your freedoms; not some politician. For, unlike those in the service of making laws they themselves are not accountable to, a soldier is one willing to serve, and yes, even die, in support of those laws without the benefit of many of the freedoms provided to the American citizen.

In other words, make sure that handshake means something beyond pressing flesh. Take the time to think about the freedoms you have and then go back and truly thank a veteran for those freedoms, for they are more like you than those that legally provide you those freedoms.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Becoming a Writer

How does one become a writer? There are a multitude of books on the subject out there, and I've read many of them. I've read books on manuscript formatting, character development, plot, dialogue, marketing, and just about everything else related to writing and selling one's literary work.

But, many will tell you that the best advice is often the simplest.

And the best advice I've heard in some time is, once again, found in a one dollar book from the good ole' dollar tree store.

This book simply says, "If you want to be a writer, you must write."

I've heard that advice more times than I care to remember, but this book, Write is a Verb by Bill O'Hanlon goes a step further in giving options for getting the butt onto the chair and hashing out the words. The advice given in this book goes into the psychological aspects of making yourself get it done.

It figures though, since the author is a licensed psycho-therapist. So, if you have the chance, check out your local dollar tree store and find this book for a buck. Oh, and bonus! It also comes with a DVD in the back so if you don't feel like actually reading the book, you can watch Bill talk about the principles and tools in this book as if you were sitting in the front row of one of his seminars.

Another great find. Now, I gotta get back to writing.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Never Trust a Writer

I just attended a local writer’s group meeting last night, so I’m filled up with ideas and motivation. Of course, I’ll run out of that by tomorrow evening.

For those of you who write, you know how hard it really is. After all, it takes a certain amount of talent to create a lie, then convince others it is the truth, at least until the end of the story.

Writers often draw upon what they see, feel, smell, or experience in the real world in order to make the world in their mind more believable.

I write about Werewolves, Demons, Elves, and Faeries under a pen name, but I want all of my stories to be as believable I possible. My beloved character, Kat McKendry (my mystery crime series yet to be written) just lost her job as a model. In the real world, she wouldn't be caught dead out in the wilderness, picking a lock and breaking into a cabin in the middle of the night. It is my job as a writer to give her the tools to accomplish the task, no matter how far-fetched it seems at first. My shape shifting Werewolves can be made believable if I give them real jobs, real personalities, and real desires.

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen someone in a mall, or known someone that spawned an entirely new character. I mean, even now, as I sit here plugging this article out during my lunch hour, a co-worker sits within earshot, slurping soda out of a can and sucking food particles off his teeth. Will I eventually become annoyed and say something? Of course not. Instead, I will sit quietly, listening to every disgusting noise he creates, with various parts of his body. I will watch his gestures and facial expressions. I will patiently wait in wonder, and catalog every disgusting thing he does.

See there? He just repositioned himself ever so slightly in his seat and let out a fart. It wasn’t the kind of expulsion one might hear as ships pass, dangerously close to the shore on some foggy night. No this was meant to be concealed. It was a squeaker, and I’m sure he thought no one else heard it.

Will this end up in one of my stories sometime? Probably, but not in its whole. My mind will mix these things up, along with everything else I've experienced over the last few weeks, like a blender on frappe, and the actions will suddenly pop into some new character’s profile as one of their quirks.

So, you see. You simply cannot trust a writer, for everything that you do—good, bad, endearing, or disgusting—will probably end up in a story somewhere. And, the writer will not attempt to explain why a character does such things, for it is not the writer’s position to explain why. No, the writer leaves only enough clues for the reader to come to their own conclusions.

This is best explained in a wonderful quote I found:

“Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it”—Hannah Arendt.