Monday, April 30, 2012

Z: Zounds, Zzzzzz, and Zebrafish

#atozchallenge - Z: Zounds is an awesome word indicating surprise or vexation. This book also lists - zoinks! which was used on Scooby Doo by Shaggy (awesome!). Then there's Zut Alors - an exclamation of disgust, scorn, or disappointment in French (when you say it, you should probably wave around an unfiltered cigarette - ha)
Z words deserve large font and exclamation points. Zebra - ha - too easy.
Zeal - Zeal without knowledge is Fire without Light - Thomas Fuller
Zen - yeah, find your own.

Final poison of the month - Zebrafish - Beautiful with vivid colors and elegant fins, this farflung fish (Pacific, Indian Ocean, and Red Sea) can cause respiratory distress and intense pain. Look but don't touch.

We've learned a lot this month about avoiding death by poisonous means. Basically you don't want to go to sleep - ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ - and not wake up. Good goal. Keep it in mind. Fortunately writing tends to keep us at our desks and away from deadly situation. Keep up the good work my friends.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y: Yes, Young, Yertle the Turtle, Yard Sale, and Yellow Jasmine

#atozchallenge      Y: Yes   Let's cheer yes to acceptances. Let's play our Yes Greatest Hits Album. C'mon all you old rockers - Roundabout and I've Seen All Good People. Jon Andersen's voice could soar through an arena and Rick Wakeman could astound.  
Neil Young never does look happy. But that's fine because he's sending us messages and we need to listen to him. Ohio, Like a Hurricane, Heart of Gold. Whether he was with Crosby, Stills, and/or Nash or solo, Neil Young's voice was/is singular and poignant.

Youth is a perpetual intoxication, a fever of the brain - La Rochefoucauld

Yertle the Turtle - classic Dr.Seuss

Yard Sale - as applied to the world of skiiing, it's an oops. I heard the term at Jackson Hole Wyoming ( I was a tourist, not a skier), but was inspired to write a poem -
Teton Yard Sale
aerial tram glides
snowcaps beckon
moose tread below
eager laughter
majestic silence
eyes survey ski slopes
sharp narrow paths
pinball forested run
sit, stand, jostle
ski pants swoosh
nervous preparation
buckle clink, velcro scratch
frankenstein boot step
cable car lurches upwards
downhill gondola passes
next level flows
peer down, plot course
spot crevasse chute
a body hurtles
poles javelin
skis askew
black gloved tree branch
goggles glitter
enclosed above
we point
yard sale below

skier retrieves a purple scarf

Finally - Yellow Jasmine - so pretty, so deadly. Then again, don't chew on pretty flowers. I know I've learned that lesson this month. Oh, and Yellow Jackets - try to not aggravate them or you'll be stung.

Friday, April 27, 2012

X: Xanadu, X-Rated, and Xanax

#atozchallenge -                        X

Xanadu by Olivia Newton John and Jeff Lynne

A place where nobody dared to go
The love that we came to know

They call it Xanadu

(It takes your breath and it'll leave you blind)

Cheesy movie, but at least it gives us an X word. And yes, there's Xerox, X-ray, and Xylophone

from Roget's Thesaurus - racy, lewd, salacious, erotic, pornographic, adult, impure, obscene, smut, bawdy, filthy, blue.    What constitutes an x-rating? Justice Potter Stewart in an obscenity case said hard-core pornography is hard to define, but "I know it when I see it". He did go on in that case to defend the movie in question against further censorship. 

 Lolita and Lady Chatterly's Lover were considered pretty darn racy for their time and are still subject to censorship issues.

Like many drugs, Xanax, can be poisonous if overused and abused. Prescribed to relieve short term anxiety, it can be quite addictive

Thursday, April 26, 2012

W: Wyeths, Wrigley, Whimsy, and Wasps

 #atozchallenge   W: Wyeths - I grew up near Brandywine, PA and the art of the Wyeths is in my soul.  The grandfather Nathaniel Wyeth illustrated tomes. Andrew Wyeth painted Christina's World, windows, fields, and barns. We always joke that my family loves bleak and gray. Yep, the Wyeth palette seeped into our blood.
 Jamie Wyeth continued in his father's path with landscapes, pigs, and he also did portraits such as Warhol. The Brandywine area is gorgeous. Visit the battlefield and also the Wyeth museum and grounds. The area reeks of history, nature, and art.
Wrigley Field is part of the Holy Grail for baseball fans. Ray and I visited Chicago and attended an afternoon game. Wow!!!! The ivy wall, the buzz of Cubs fans, and the intimate baseball field is awesome. This is baseball at its best.

Whimsy -  by Joanne Faries
The Bright Spot

Black shoes, blue jeans, gray sky
polka dots a conscious choice
pajama soft, the socks’
white and yellow spots
dance under cuff
touch of whimsy perk
this dreary afternoon

Wasps - Ray's allergic, so we always have Raid Wasp Killer at the ready. Wasps are incredibly lethal with their vicious stinger. Quite scary because reaction time is within an hour.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

V: Vice, Virtue, Vin, and Valium

#atozchallenge   V: Vice and Virtue lend themselves to great writing. Any scene involving gambling and alcohol can lead to the downfall of a character, and ultimately redemption. We can only hope the setting is exotic - Miami, Monte Carlo, or there's always Vegas.

Vices are sometimes only virtues carried to excess - Charles Dickens/Dombey &  Sons

I prefer an accommodating vice to an obstinate virtue - Moliere
I am stealing from author Roni Loren. She features Boyfriends of the Week and used Vin yesterday. Well, here's my V salute to Vin. Oh, he's SO not my type, BUT there's just something about him that conjures up vice and could lead to lack of virtue. His growl of a voice calls to my inner vixen. (And yes, the Fast & Furious movies annoy Ray to no end. I do not personally care about their lack of plot or inane car crashes. Paul Walker and Vin Diesel are fast and furious).
Valium - Think Valley of the Dolls, this popular antianxiety drug is a muscle relaxer and can be quickly abused due to fast tolerance development. Valium is often fatal when combined with alcohol and other drugs like barbiturates.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

U: Un-it-all



U is a rather sad letter. I don't have any great U pictures. Umbrella is too obvious. I shall check out other blogs and no doubt be amazed at others' creativity. Then again, maybe they've visited Uganda or Uzbekistan. I take it back - I've visited Utah and it's a lovely state. But my pictures are labeled Bryce or Zion - that's how I think of them, by the national parks we visited.

Unconscious - By undertanding the unconscious we free ourselves from its domination - Carl Jung

Understanding - You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view - until you climb into his skin and walk around in it - Harper Lee/ To Kill a Mockingbird

University - I was dropped by New York University because of bad marks. I was a film major - Woody Allen

My deadly poisons handbook has no listing for U. We are all safe today.

Monday, April 23, 2012

T: Talking, Timing, Typewriter, and Turpentine

#atozchallenge another week. We're on the downhill slide of April   

T: Talking      The less said the better - Jane Austen/ Sense & Sensibility  Indeed, as a writer, it's often better to listen. You can pick up so much good material.

Timing - There is a time for departure even when there's no certain place to go - Tennessee Williams
That's true of some characters - best to write the loud obnoxious sidekick in small doses. Television series on cable have made it a bloodsport - favorite characters are killed with abandon. It surprises the audiences and keeps us intrigued. I'm still not over Adrianna being executed on The Sopranos.

Typewriter - We got this IBM from Ray's folks - grimy & filthy from sitting in their garage. It's now in my office looming above my head, filled with noir tales of old.

Finally, I chose Turpentine. There are far more lethal T poisons, however everyone has turpentine in the garage. It rarely kills because it's painful to breathe or swallow. But, it's a great red herring - make a life appear to be threatened.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

S: Spelling, Sydney, and Scorpions

 #atozchallenge   S is for Spelling. I grew up learning grammar, phonetics, and spelling, with weekly spelling tests, and spelling bees. In today's world, I'm appalled by bad spelling in emails, business letters, and in newspapers. I have to laugh. At my job, we do adhesion tests and the general verdict is separation or no separation. Hello - I'm constantly correcting my fellow workers (I'm sure to their annoyance) that it's sepAration, not sepEration. Arrgghhh!

I highly recommend the documentary Spellbound for fellow Word Nerds (as my husband calls our merry band of writers). It follows kids to the national title and is a nailbiter. Fascinating look into the world of spelling bees and the kids who prevail. You'll root for them as if it is the Olympics.

Sydney - one of the most beautiful cities I've ever visited. Ray and I took our dream vacation in February 2005 and fell in love with Australia and New Zealand. Sydney Harbor - gorgeous. The Bridge Climb - absolutely unbelievable way to view the environs. I could gush and bore you with hundreds of pictures. For anyone saying, "Oh I want to visit Australia someday,"  - Go Now. The people are friendly, the food's yummy, and every sight you see is spectacular.

Scorpions freak me out. Growing up in Pennsylvania I heard about scorpions, but moving to Texas meant I could encounter them. In general, they are not deadly, but inflict a wicked sting. Very few bites are fatal, but the venom can cause nerve tissue damage. Apparently they can lurk in corners, climb into shoes, and are not happy if stepped upon. Yikes.

Friday, April 20, 2012

R: Ray, Rangers, Respect, Reality, and Radium

#atozchallenge: R: September 1, 1989 I said, "I do" to Ray Faries. What a wild ride since then - all for the good. He's respectable, raucous, a raconteur, has a rapier wit, is responsible, totally steeped in reality, and as far as I know there are no rumors circulating about him. He totally puts up with me - so there you have it. This R post is dedicated to Ray.

We love to vacation - that's what clinched it for me. Before we even knew each other very well, we traveled to Hawaii and had the best time ever. Bingo - we like super casual, we pack minimalist, and he laughs at my crap. Nowadays, he edits with abandon and supports my writing. That's a rainbow, as far as I'm concerned.

He loves our Texas Rangers, and it's more fun now that they have been winning. No, not the World Series, yet, but we've been SO close. Ray's a sportsman - scuba, hunting, baseball, football, hockey - you name it, he loves it. On paper, we are polar opposites. Nonetheless it works - he's my reality show. Rah!!!

Ray picked our poison - radium. He contemplated rattlesnake, but decided that wasn't exciting enough. (However, I think rattlesnakes are scary. I went to his deer lease one time last August. Hotter than hell but I put on my winter boots (no, not snake boots, I'm talking my winter SNOW boots) to avoid a rattlesnake bite. Great fashion statement with shorts. But hey, did not get bit. ) Back to radium - face it, it killed Madame Marie Curie who discovered the darn element. Nausea, etc - radium is deadly, lethal, and will kill you.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q: Queue and Quaaludes

Q: Queue. In England, you'd join a queue to buy a ticket, get a table, or perhaps to see the Queen. I use the term queue for my Netflix recommendations and reviews for The Little Paper of San Saba. I am the critic for a town without a cinema. Here's the latest column:

Like Crazy - American Jacob (Anton Yelchin) and Brit Anna (Felicity Jones) meet and fall madly in love in Los Angeles. She's on a student visa. However, when she goes back to work in London, the strain of a long distance relationship proves daunting. Trust issues abound, and finally she works to make the move to the States. However, he's trying to grow his furniture making business. Life as students was much more fun and carefree than trying to be grownups and finding their way. Likeable characters in real life situations. Like and love is crazy.

Anonymous - This period costume movie is rather boring. Who really wrote Shakespeare's plays? After watching this mess you won't care. I just couldn't get into the alleged intrigues of the court. I normally like Vanessa Redgrave, but even she didn't keep me captivated as the queen. Better to go read a Shakespeare play than watch this snoozefest.

Rango - rather weird animated movie. Funny, clever, but above the heads of kids. Johnny Depp voices the bizarre lizard who's finding himself on an existential journey. He travels to the Old West and is annointed sheriff. It's all zany and wild and there are a lot of good lines, as like Shane - there's a battle between good and evil. Plenty of pop culture references abound and kept me amused. Kids probably like the colors and action, but I question whether they really follow the story. Whatever - it's fun.

Being Elmo - Kevin Clash grew up in Baltimore, fell in love with puppeteering and achieved his highest dream - working with Jim Henson and the Muppets on Sesame Street. Even more amazing, he developed one of the most beloved characters ever - Elmo, and decided Elmo would stand for love. This documentary is endearing and a true feel good story. Kevin, now in his 50s, seems like a really nice man who's creative, hardworking, and still can't believe it all himself. His parents were supportive all the way through, and watching kids' faces when Elmo appears is worth the show. Excellent flick.

Portlandia - just started watching this series and it's hysterical. Fred Armissen and others from SNL fame all send up the hippy dippy vibe of Portland (not Seattle). Whether it's questioning a waitress on the origins of the farm raised chicken, or working at a store but not wanting to sell product, there are a ton of laughs in the 20 minute episodes. Truly on the mark snarky and trendy. Love it.

Queue up the poison of the day - not quinine -Quaaludes - No longer available in the American market, quaaludes (generally pill form) were taken to relieve anxiety and induce sleep. However, overdosing is easy and reaction time is quick.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P: Pulitzer, Purple, Poetry, and Puff Adder

P: Pulitzer Prize - I was shocked, shocked that the Pulitzer board did not award a Fiction Prize this year. What? My Zoo World by Joanne Faries....c'mon, not a winner? not even nominated? What's this world coming to?

Purple - great color and what better book to read than Harold and the Purple Crayon? Now that's a classic.

Poetry - To have great poets, there must be great audiences, too - Walt Whitman

The best craftsmanship always leaves holes and gaps ... so that something that is not in the poem can creep, crawl, flash, or thunder in - Dylan Thomas

an original poem:
Tools to Trade

nefarious needle nose pliers
defy manipulation
like wielding chop sticks
clumsy hands contort

hammer never hits the nail
random finger mashed
polka dotted wall signals
unlevel level usage

left-handed skill set
never garnered praise
proof in writing
blue inked smear

Poison P -Puff adder. This venomous snake warns by inflating its body and hissing loudly. It will stand its ground and not flee. Rudyard Kipling books encountered the puff's cousin - the saw scaled viper in Rikki-Tikki-Tavi.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O: Opinion, Opportunity, and Opium

#atozchallenge O: Opinion - Every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle and also Opinion is power - both by Thomas Jefferson

Be very wary of opinions that flatter your self esteem - Bertrand Russell

Opportunity - A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds - Francis Bacon

This coud but have happened once:

and we missed it;lost it forever - Robert Browning

In the world of publishing today, it is up to the author to take advantage of any and all opportunity, that's for sure.

Oleander or Opium for my deadly O dose - I chose opium. Poppies, a field of poppies from Wizard of Oz put our heroes to sleep until the Good Witch made it snow. Then they awoke from their drugged state. The entire nervous system is depressed and a fatal reaction can occur in 2-4 hours. Alas, Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll wa supposedly created from his opium high, and the caterpillar's hookah was filled with the drug. Go Ask Alice why she's ten feet tall........

Monday, April 16, 2012

N: NASCAR & Nicotine

#atozchallenge N is for NASCAR. I work beyond the Texas Motor Speedway in Justin, Texas. This week the "circus" has been in town and it's fascinating to watch a mini-community build over the week. Traffic gets worse and worse, and finally Friday I take the day off. The big race was Saturday night, then people slowly begin to leave. It's pouring rain this Sunday. That should cut down on post-race tailgating. By the time I drive to work on Monday, worker bees comb the grounds to pick up trash. But there's always a straggler - a sad lone trailer hanging out for the week. Who knew I'd be inspired by NASCAR? But here's a poem I wrote last year after race week:

NASCAR left Fort Worth

smudge marks shade track walls
single Earnhart flag flaps for no one
vendor circus hauled wares
down the highway
another venue, another dollar
beer cans recycled
waves of workers combed grounds
plucked trash, bags compacted

lone trailer leans
forlorn fan abandoned post
cows graze nearby
wind howls
engine roar memories

echo in open field

A suitable poison for my NASCAR post is Nicotine. I'm not going to pontificate on the dangers. Let's just say it ain't good for the lungs. But it's big business and big business has the bucks to sponsor racing. God Bless America!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

M: Mayhem, Morose, and Mercury

I was conflicted for the letter M. I contemplated Murder (well, writing about it, that is), or Money. Both excellent subjects for books. Then I browsed my assorted poems - pieces that have lagged in acceptance. So why not share them here? First up:

boo at the zoo, fright festival
celebration of the dark
fanciful depictions, death and evil
wrapped in orange and black
candy corn gift bags
until the storm year

lightning struck grounds
surge busting phenomenon
released cage doors
animals roared
families fled
rivulets of blood

(note - the rhino pictured is safely ensconced in the Dallas Zoo. The picture was taken on a lovely fall day)Next up -


shadows creep, engulf my brain in scattershot of shoulds
I slouch, encumbered by chance phrases, negative clues
refuse to connect, yet I'm captured, avalanche brews
while I grit my teeth, emit nothing, omit nothing
bleak landscape, bereft of pastels, mirror image
reflects jagged angles, shorn composure

immersed in shadows

(rather dark - maybe I should be ensconced in the Dallas Zoo)

Finally - Mercury, the silvery mobile liquid that beads up easily. Deadly as a vapor, it can also cause poisoning if ingested, even second hand like in fish. Chronic slow buildup is perfect for a clever murderer.

Fun fact -in the 1800s, the hatting industry used mercury in shaping felt hats. Mad Hatter indeed - insane from breathing mercury fumes.

Friday, April 13, 2012

L: Love & Lily of the Valley

#atozchallenge: L is for Love. I expect this to be a popular word. Love makes the world go 'round, right? In love, one and one are one - Jean Paul Sartre

I decided to post an original poem I wrote on the subject:

Probability of Love

To differentiate the probability
of love for you
versus a fraction of past loves
subscribe to the condition of insanity
add, subtract, divide
a whim, a dream, a fantasy

a cosine or a tangent
read a lot of words
don’t remember the angle
story arc’s the same
probability of an x
often left to dangle

measurements in microns
days, weeks, and months
factor in a light source
sound, too slow, it’s mush
smile and agree
love’s a graduate course

Some might say, Love itself is a poison. However, today I chose the lovely Lily of the Valley.
White bell shaped flowers should be enjoyed from afar. All parts of the plant are toxic as well as the water in which cut flowers are kept. If ingested, reaction is immediate with severe stomach issues. Sadly, the plant can be mistaken for wild garlic and put into soup. Uh-oh.

We must love one another or die - W.H. Auden

Thursday, April 12, 2012

K: Koala, Kangaroo, Killing, and Kerosene

#atozchallenge - K: Kangaroo - My husband and I had a dream trip to Australia. Took several years to plan, but it was a doozy and we loved that continent and its people. A trip to a wildlife park allowed us to walk through a section that had kangaroos. I was a tad fearful (see my book My Zoo World - kinda afraid of animals). Kangaroos have a reputation - very powerful kicks. However, the last thing these 'roos cared about was tourists. It was all about eating, slurping water, and wallowing.

Koalas - yes, I actually stood in line and petted the koala bear. Extremely soft and oh so cute. They are drugged out on eucalyptus leaves, which they munch on for awhile and then go to sleep for twenty three hours. We walked through a nature preserve and counted bears asleep in the trees. They blend in and are barely hanging on in their drug induced stupor. It was fascinating.

Killing. I love murder mysteries. Not serious slasher movies or books. I want some fear and intrigue. As a kid I read every Agatha Christie book. They involved murder, but much was behind the scenes. No graphic descriptions. Elizabeth George is a superb writer - she takes Agatha to another level. Still a bit of restraint, but throws us a few more bones.

The AMC show The Killing received a lot of grief in its first season for not announcing the murderer. Who killed Rosie Larssen? At the finale I was annoyed and yet still hooked. This second season is giving us excellent character studies, meandering through scenarios, and I'm on the journey with Detective Sarah Linden (Mirielle Enos - fine actress). We'll find out who killed Rosie, and also see a whole world affected by her death.

Speaking of death, here's the K poison: Kerosene - a household petroleum distillate. Other versions include paint thinner, gasoline, naphtha, and solvents. The key is to not inhale or swallow these products. Pump the stomach if overexposed. Kerosene lamps are often used during camping trips. See - camping IS dangerous. (this from a city girl. I don't camp)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J: Journalism & Jellyfish

J: Journalism

"Hi, I'm Mike Wallace"

Those words struck fear in anyone answering a door or phone. Mr. Wallace passed away this weekend at age 93. Up until about 89, he was working hard for 60 Minutes with piercing questions, astute responses, and a fearless nose for news.

Anyone considering journalism as a major or career should watch every episode of 60 Minutes. Study Mike Wallace, Ed Bradley, Harry Reasoner, Dan Rather - those were from the gut intrepid reporters who earned their stripes on battlefield and political field coverage.

As a kid, I contemplated journalism as a major. I was a reporter for the high school North Penn Knight Crier. Sadly, I did like money and became a business major with a minor in marketing. Tough choices in a tough economy.

Caution to a young reporter. If your mother says she loves you, check on it - Ed Eulenberg.

Get if first, get it right - William Randolph Hearst

You're only as good as your last story - Helen Thomas

Poisons seem appropriate for this post - not many J choices, but Jellyfish totally creep me out.
Aquatic creatures with dangling tentacles, often unnoticed until the rash of stings. Mildly irritating to deathly lethal. The initial sting reaction can cause more poisons to be released. Ouch and Yikes! The Portuguese Man-O-War is famous for fatality. Love Australia. Hate the jellyfish.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I: Impressionism & Imagination, plus Iodine

I: Impressionism. Any time there's an exhibit at the stellar Kimbell Art Museum in Ft.Worth, I am there. Renoir (above), Monet (below), Manet's ballerinas, Cezanne's apples. The colors are vibrant, the moods dreamy, landscapes lush. I took a painting class in college. The professor had us set eggs on a white sheet of paper outdoors, then paint what we saw and look for the colors. Sure enough, pinks and tinges of purple erupted from the all white scenario

Imagination: You can't depend on your judgement when your imagination is out of focus - Mark Twain.

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world - Albert Einstein.

Think Suzanne Collin's Hunger Games, JK Rowling's Harry Potter series - to me these are very imaginative and talented writers. Or Stephen King from yesterday's horror post.

Walt Disney, Pixar studios - dreams really do come true. It's magic.

Iodine - I almost hate to have a deadly dose on such a cloud of good feeling. But iodine's bluish black powder is soluble in alcohol and slightly soluble in water. It acts directly on cells by precipitating proteins and depressing the central nervous system. Reaction time is immediate with death in one hour.

Monday, April 9, 2012

H: Horror & Hemlock

H: I debated. Did I want to write about humor or horror? Then I decided I could combine both with a salute to Stephen King, my husband's favorite author. We heard Stephen King speak in Dallas - a rare appearance. He was promoting his 1963 book. He was funny and creepy, and he made you think about things that go bump in the night. Mr. King is a master at creating characters who appear normal, in a town that appears normal, until you realize that something's a bit off, and then all hell breaks loose. Carrie at the prom. It - scary clown. He throws in humor, the kind that makes you chuckle uncomfortably, relax for a second, let your guard down, and then ....bam....hits you with horror.

I personally think Pet Sematary is one of King's best horror tales. Animals that go berserk. Yikes. Your favorite pet is buried and then comes back with drooling fangs. Holy cow! That's like the movie The Omen (the original) starring Gregory Peck. I wasn't afraid of Damien, the devil child. It was those darn black snarling dogs in the cemetery scene. I cowered under my seat during that frightfest.

Heeere's Johnny! That's priceless horror humor - Jack Nicholson with an ax, slashing at a door, and sticking his head through the opening. The Shining is one of the best adaptations of a King book. Talk about cabin fever.

Finally - we start this week with a famous poison - Hemlock. The poisonous leaves can be made into a fatal salad, which paralyzes the muscles. The mind remains clear until death from paralysis of the lungs. Most famous death - Socrates drank from a cup that contained hemlock. He walked until he dropped. Don't know if he had time to use the Socratic method to deduce his murder.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

H1: Happy Easter and Happy Birthday

Happy Easter! Officially, today is a rest day from the A to Z Blog Challenge. However, why not have an H1 greeting? Nothing says Easter like tulips.

So pretty and elusive. They don't last long, but tulips have to be a favorite. They shout spring with their color and grace.

Happy Birthday to my brother, David. Born April 8th, his birthday lands on Easter every few years and today's the day.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

G: Good Advice, Guns N Roses, Green Mamba

#atozchallenge G: Good advice. Best advice my mother gave me was "everything in moderation" and that's how we were raised. Dessert at every meal, but portions were small. Avoid gluttony.

So here's some useful quotes from my Good Advice book

Generosity - When you have nothing, ask for nothing - Albanian proverb.

Gift Giving - Give all thou canst;high Heaven rejects the lore Of nicely calculated less or more - William Wordsworth

Goals - It's not enough to be busy ... the question is: What are we busy about? Henry David Thoreau (way too true in today's world)

Good Humor - We are all here for a spell;get all the good laughs you can - Will Rogers

Speaking of sheer raucous joy - Gun N Roses Greatest Hits is a perfect Saturday CD to blast on our patio. Whatever the chore, you'll be doing it quicker with Welcome to the Jungle. Sweet Child 'O Mine soars. Paradise City is hardcore rock. Slash on guitar - absolute gumption to galvanize your soul.

Our deadly dose today is courtesy of the cobra family - the Green Mamba can grow to nine feet and is "less" aggressive than the black mamba or some other cobras. No matter what, the venom can paralyze the nervous system and cause death within two hours. Try to avoid crossing its path.

Friday, April 6, 2012

F: F*&K, First Base, and Foxglove

F: F*#k. I'm not necessarily a huge fan of unnecessary profanity. However, I think this book is brilliant. I read it in the book store, then asked for my own copy for Christmas. I love it. Just funny as hell. Lovely illustrations. So, for regular fiction, my personal opinion is that the f-word should be used judiciously, not sprayed about on every page. But it serves a purpose, and when used at the right time, I understand the scene, the character's emotions, etc. It should be its own exclamation mark and when read, the reader says, "Okay, this is some serious sh*t right here.

On the other hand, I loved The Sopranos on HBO - I loved every f-ing word spoken, however casual or extreme. It was a barrage of potty mouth and it worked for me.

First base - oh wait, were you expecting a romance move of some sort? Nope - Good Friday this year is the Texas Rangers home opener. I'm talking baseball, peanuts, fried something, and beer. Maybe this is the year for the World Series WIN. It's our field of dreams.........

Aaah - deadly dose today a la the Medicis of Italy - Foxglove was a favorite. All parts of this plant, cultivated in gardens, is poisonous. Flowers are purple and bloom midsummer. The leaves, etc. do not lose their toxicity in cooking. Reaction time is twenty to thirty minutes and the heart just goes berserk.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

E: Easter, Epiphany, Elmer, and Ergot

E is for Easter. Unfortunately, I've eaten all of my jellybeans. I can remember Easters in PA with sunshine,tulips, and shiny Maryjane shoes. I can also remember wearing a winter coat over my new Easter duds.

Here's my epiphany on e-books - I don't think they'll eliminate paper. I was reluctant to climb aboard the e-train, but once I published my own book (My Zoo World) I decided I should see my format and how it works out on an e-reader. Santa brought me a Kindle and I'm hooked. I've downloaded free books, 99 cent specials,etc - books I would not have considered otherwise. It's opened new horizons. I still go to the library. I still buy hardbacks. AND I enjoy my e-reads.

Elmer was my maternal grandfather. He's long gone, and I think so is the name. What's Elmer say to you? He was a kindly farmer originally from Indiana, wore suspenders, held my hand as we ambled to the five and dime in Quakertown, PA. Think about your characters' names and the time period of your story. Could Elmer, the name, make a comeback?

And now, your deadly e-dose of the day: Ergot, aka St.Anthony's fire, is a fungus parasite that infests cereal grain, especially rye. Seldom seen today thanks to cereal screening. Whew! In the Middle Ages, death by ergot was epidemic (unless you prayed to St.Anthony). Antidote - gastric lavage followed by activated charcoal. Ewww!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

D: Despair, Depression, Dumbells, & Daphne

D: Human life begins on the other side of despair - Jean-Paul Sartre

Characters need some despair in their lives, something to work through and ultimately overcome. The reader can feel his or her pain and wants to keep reading and rooting for that person.

In a real dark night of the soul, it is always three o'clock in the morning, day after day- F.Scott Fitzgerald.

Depression can torment your character. But again the writer can have him or her fight through it (pill taking, psychiatric visits), wallow in it, and use it to create a strong, albeit flawed, individual.

Hand dumbells - I just wanted to use the word and picture to honor the letter D. Often I despair of exercise, and am depressed by my Wii Fitness score. Minor setbacks to be sure, but I'm deluded in thinking I'll achieve Olympian skills.

Finally - Daphne, a female name, an ornamental flower with a deadly berry fruit. Baked in a pie and eaten, death can occur in a few hours. It is one of the oldest plants recognized as poisonous.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

C: Caterwaul, Cacaphony, and Castor Beans

C - Imagine this cat emitting a high pitched howling shriek outside your window at night- that's a caterwaul or wail.

Or during the day, you sit at your desk about to write a genius line, and mockingbirds out on the back fence are chastizing a squirrel. Natter, natter, natter - it's a cacophony of sound.

I'm guilty of writing scenes lacking noise. Life contains a background din, if you think about it. Clock ticks, dryer or washer churns, electronic devices hum. Car engines rev or a fire siren in
the distance. Characters aren't in a bubble, and need some distractions sometimes. Blast 'em at a crucial moment with a cry, a clank, or a clink.

And part of my alphabet of Death -from Deadly Doses by Serita Deborah Stevens w/Anne Klarner:
Swallowing six to eight castor beans (product of the castor oil plant from Africa) can induce a cough, convulsions, and coma. Extremely fatal after a week or quicker if chewed. Sounds like a noisy death to me, if you are contemplating a murder mystery.

Monday, April 2, 2012

B: Bluebonnets and Belladonna

A to Z Blog Challenge. B. I have to feature Bluebonnets - the Texas flower. This time of year they are plentiful on every roadside and byway, thanks to the late Lady Bird Johnson and her wildflower initiative. For some reason, this past week on I35 we drove ve....rrrr....yyyy slowly and I was late to work every day. No crashes, no bodies strewn on the freeway. I didn't get to gawk at anything horrible. However, there was time to notice the bluebonnets.

Belladonna - I decided to check out my book on Deadly Doses - a writer's guide to poisons. Belladonna, also known as nightshade, is a plant from Southern Eurasia. It's useful in writing a murder mystery because it paralyzes the nervous system. It can induce fever, convulsions, and death. All very dramatic for a story. I don't even write murder mysteries (yet), but I decided to explore the theme during the A to Z challenge.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A: April, Fool Me

I'm doing the A to Z Blog Challenge. It's appropriate that April begins with an A. Every April God rewrites the Book of Genesis - Austin O'Malley. Indeed - with Easter in a week, it's a time of rebirth, tulips, chocolate bunnies, and jellybeans. In Texas, it's sunshine and crazy rainstorms. It's Rangers baseball opener on Good Friday. April is tricky - it embraces spring, harkens to a final winter blast, or hurries into heat.

April is the cruelest month - T.S. Eliot

Characters named April seem jovial with a delicate prettiness. However, look deeper and there's a darkness lurking. The month of April sheds dead live oak tree leaves, it blasts us with pollen, and can lash us with pelting cold raindrops. A girl named April could be sweet, or maybe she's planning a murder. That's the fun of being a writer - you can play with names, fill an April with opposite expected tendencies, and trick your reader.

April the month, or April a girl - fool us all