Saturday, December 30, 2006

Pigeon Power

I ain't afraid of no owl.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Age Old Question

I’ve been taking a watercolor painting class, and although I make industrious, concentrated efforts, my paintings all look like crap.

The teacher is an interesting woman, seemingly undeterred by her students’ uneven results. You know the kind of teacher I mean. One who, when presented with an unrecoverable steaming pile, will at least manage a compliment on the warmth if not the composition.

Luckily for the poor dear’s sanity, in every class there are a few who excel. A few who only need a nudge in the right direction. A few whose latent talent flowers under skillful tutoring. And then there are those who only have desire, hope and effort.

After she repeatedly told us that drawing is a skill that can be learned. Painting is a skill that can be learned. I asked her, what about talent? She shrugged.

Excuse me? Talent dismissed with a shrug?

No, I persisted. You know what I mean. Talented youth. Those students whose painting seem to flow from a well unmapped. Whose work is amazing, from its very beginning.

She shook her head.

Our class was in the art room of the local high school. Every week, the high school students’ current projects were displayed in the hallway. A short stroll by this display wouldn’t take an art critic to see the range between the kids. Some still drew like they were in Second Grade. Some flashed with brilliant ideas and struggled with technique. Some had everything going on. Their work stood out like a bare ass at the symphony.

Surely, you must admit, I said to the teacher, some students have a talent for art and others do not.

“If you want to learn to paint,” she replied, “desire is the most important ingredient.”

Desire will make you work hard enough to learn any skill, is her point.

Wishing don’t make it so, is mine.

Of course, she probably could not make a living if she only taught talented youth. It is in her interest to encourage everyone with desire. Although, I was aware of this reality as our conversation progressed, I didn’t hold that against her. If she couldn’t produce results with her students, she wouldn’t make a living either.

I wanted her to say that talent mattered. Talent is a gift, unevenly bestowed, perhaps, but an important gift, nonetheless. Talent counted toward success. Desire only counted in bed.

Her final answer - wanting is what you must have.

Professor Harold Hill took Iowa by storm with the Thinkology System. If you think you can play music, you can. I wonder if there was an Art Corollary -- If you want to paint, you will.

Those tricky steps between desire and result remain a mystery to me.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

You Might Live In Montana

Attributed to Jeff Foxworthy, this list is making the rounds via email.

If parking your car for the night involves an extension cord –
You might live in Montana.

That’s right. And propane jells at –55 or so, if you’re smart and live in Montana, you also have a wood stove.

If you consider it a sport to gather your food by drilling through 8 inches of ice and sitting there all day hoping that the food will swim by –
You might live in Montana.

Or Minnesota, or you’re an ice fisherman. Not that this ever offered any attraction to me, but I hear the big ones are nearer the surface when the top foot or so is frozen and walleye are so good I don’t care how they make their way to my table.

If you're proud that your state makes the national news primarily because it houses the coldest spot in the nation –
You might live in Montana.

Well, I already mentioned that 55 below zero which occurred one Christmas Eve just outside Billings with no wind and the propane jelled and church was canceled.

I believe the last few times Montana was in the news, they were whacko alerts. One was the Unabomber and another was when the local militia barricaded themselves on a ranch and stood off the FBI for a while, which occasioned the new State motto:

Montana, the Last Best Place to Hide-Out and Hole-Up.

If someone in a store offers you assistance, and they don't even work there –
You might live in Montana.

Strangers will push your car out of a snow bank, if you’ve been so silly as to get stuck, and the only thanks they expect is a wave goodbye.

If you have worn shorts and a parka at the same time –
You might live in Montana.

After a few weeks of 20 below, zero feels like a heat wave.

If you know how to correctly pronounce Butte –
You might live in Montana.

If you haven’t been to Butte on St. Patrick’s Day, you’ve never been to a real party. But try to leave before the riot.

If you measure distance in hours –
You might live in Montana.

When last I was in Los Angeles, we noticed no one knew how far it was to anywhere. They only knew times. An hour to the drugstore. Two to the mall. This is because if you live in LA and it’s three blocks to where you want to go, it might take five hours to get there.

If you often switch from "heat" to "A/C" and back again in the same day –
You might live in Montana.

I think the temperature ranges we get are more interesting than how cold it is. 90 degree temperature change in one day, now that is interesting. Plus freak snowstorms are always good for a laugh. Remember the year in snowed on the 4th of July? Fireworks against snow are extra pretty.

If you consider Red Lodge exotic –
You might live in Montana.

Wrong. Red Lodge is not exotic. See Butte.

If your idea of creative landscaping is a statue of a deer --
You might live in Montana.

Warning! If you put a stature of a deer in your yard, someone is going to shoot at your house. That someone being an out-of-state hunter who knows it’s going to take him two days to get home.

If you find 0 degrees a "little chilly" –
You might live in Montana.

That’s just a little notion we put around to keep the out-of-staters from coming back.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Curtain Call

When I was 19, I wrote:

like old bitches
spayed after five litters
not knowing what to do, now
clutter buses
and supermarkets.

Now I'm [older than that]. I wonder,
was I looking forward
or back
at 19.

At [ ],
is there any forward
left to see,
or only back.

[ ]
feels like 19
from the inside.
Except in the morning.

No matter what,
I stay off buses
to avoid 19 year olds,
and my future, if possible.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006


The trash of Christmas Past.
And it had been so pretty before.Alas.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Santa and the Animal Rights Activist

Twas the night before Christmas and at the North Pole,
The team was held hostage by an activist named Lowell.
“Flying reindeer are endangered,” he told those who gathered.
“Nine left. We must save them. And that’s all that matters.”

The elves hollered, “Santa, will know what to do!”
They sent one to find him. Even Rudolph looked blue.
Santa showed up then, his jolly old self.
But he soon wore a frown when he heard from an elf.

“This guy says the reindeer must live a free life.
You’ve abused them and used them and put them through strife.”
“Why, you must be mistaken!” cried Santa to Lowell.
“I love all the reindeer. I’m a jolly old soul.”

“Listen Fatso,” sneered Lowell. “I don’t care what you say.
These elegant creatures shall go their own way.
Read this and weep. These deer will not budge.
Here’s a court order sent up from a federal judge.”

Santa was horrified. He watched with alarm.
As Lowell nailed the order to the door of the barn.
“But what of the children who’ve been good a whole year?
We can’t disappoint them. I need my reindeer.”

“Don’t care what you need,” said Activist Lowell.
One elf whispered softly, “He’ll get nothing but coal.”
On that note, Lowell left them, the elves and the deer.
And Santa, who worried ‘bout Christmas this year.

He said to the elves, “Pack up all the toys.
I won’t disappoint all the good girls and boys.
I’ll deliver the goodies, on foot if I must.
Forget Lowell. I’ll never let Christmas go bust.”

When they filled up his bag, he walked into the night.
And the elves heard him mutter as he trudged out of sight,
“Merry Christmas to all, but oh, what a bummer.
Be good and take care. I’ll be back in the summer.”

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Friday, December 22, 2006

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Merry Meme

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?


2. Real tree or artificial?

Real tree. Artificial trees are against my religion.

3. When do you put up the tree?

As soon after Thanksgiving as I can manage.

4. When do you take the tree down?

After the presents are opened.

Top three things I can't bear to see – a lost dog, a crying child and the Christmas Tree after the presents are all gone.

5. Do you like eggnog?

Yes. May I have brandy in mine?

6. Favorite gift received as a child?

Cockpit of an airliner with engine noise and blinking lights.

7. Do you have a nativity scene?

Yes. And I made the stable myself.

8. Hardest person to buy for?

Husband. Never says what he wants.

9. Easiest person to buy for?

Kid. Never stops saying what she wants.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards?


11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?

Computer I didn’t want.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie?

Die Hard.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?


Just kidding. First payday in December.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?


15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?


16. Clear lights or colored on the tree?


17. Favorite Christmas song?

Silver Bells.

17b. Christmas Song That, When You Hear It, Makes Your Eyes Bleed And Your Brains Start To Leak Out Your Ears, Because That Is Less Painful Than Having To Listen To That *&%^&$# Song One More Time!

Twelve Days of Christmas. Stop already.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home.

Used to flit between the in-laws and my parents. Have reached the age now that everyone comes to my house.

19. Can you name all of Santa’s reindeer?

Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolph. I can name the Seven Dwarves too. Happy, Dopey, Doc, Bashful, Sleepy, Grumpy and Sneezy. But I sometimes forget where I parked the car.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star?


21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?

Christmas morning like at 3 AM.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year?


24. Favorite Christmas Tradition?

Used to be the annual Christmas letter, but blogging has relieved me of that impulse.

25. Outdoor decorations?

Too cold out there.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Happy Birthday, Baby

Isn't he cute?
And still is, after mumble-mumble years.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

After the Forest Fire

This is what's left.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Have Some Fun

One of the neat things about Holidailies is cruising the other entries, finding new people to read. Following one link after another here are a few fun things I found.

Find your age in Dog Years. That will put a spring in your step.

Find your Body/Mass Index. Or Don't.

Calculate the difference between dates. This is a useful tool for character ages. I can't tell you how much time I spend with a calculator figuring out who was born when, and by that I mean, I won't tell you.

Want to know how cold it really is? Use the Wind Chill Calculator.

See the current Phase of the Moon. In case it's too dark and cold to go outside and look.

For the screenwriter who is both math-challenged and structurally-confused, the Screenplay Beat Calculator. I remember back in the Dark Ages, scripts were 120 pages long and the Inciting Incident occurred on Page 17. I was reading an article last night that said the Inciting Incident should occur by Page 10. I predict, one of these days, we'll just put in on the Title Page. Under the Title. This is the story of what happened after this Inciting Incident occurred.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

What Do You Know?

In this world of uncertainty, what are five things you know for sure?

1. They're not kidding about death and taxes.

2. When a person is absolutely, positively, unrepentantly sure of something, the universe is about to reveal just how wrong one person can be.

3. Never eat at the airport diner.

4. Harlan Ellison was right about television.

5. Babies should come with directions.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Four For Friday

Gratefully lifted from BeliBlog.

Q1 - Image: Does it bother you that the rest of the world seems to hate the United States? Do you think the U.S. has to change its politics or simply do a more effective job at public relations?

Yes. It might help if we stopped acting like we own the world.

Q2 - Education: Which do you feel is the best environment for children's education, single sex or co-ed?

Coed, like the rest of life.

Q3 - Convenience: The 2007 Lexus LS has a feature that helps its driver parallel park or back the vehicle into a parking space. At the touch of a button, the 'Advanced Parking Guidance System' automatically parallel parks the LS or backs it into a parking space with just a little brake work by the driver. If this feature were available for your car, would you use it?

Heck yes. Everytime I click on the cruise control, I think it would be nice if the car steered itself too, so I could take a nap.

Q4 - Work: If you had to choose between working in sales or customer service, which would you choose?

I've worked in both. Didn't like sales. Too cranky for customer service now. Guess I'm out of a job.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A Writing Meme

Here is one I made up myself. If you’re a writer and so inclined, consider yourself tagged.

1. Do you have a favorite writing instrument?

2. Do you imbue said favored writing instrument with special powers; for example, the ability to jump start your work?

3. Are you superstitious or analytical about your muse?

4. Is it better to write or to have written?

5. There is a certain celestial alignment present in many famous writer’s astrological charts. Whether or not you believe in astrology, is there something different about you that made you a writer?

My Answers

1. Yes, but there are more than one. Not being able to lay hands on one of my favorite pens or perfect pencil is my version of the end of the world.

2. I saw an interview with a famous actor who longed to be a writer and he said he kept buying Mont Blanc pens but they hadn’t made any difference in his ability to write. I thought, what a dope. Does he think the magic’s in the pen?

On the other hand, when I want desperately to move something in whatever story I’m working on, I work on it in longhand. There is something sensual and satisfying about putting pen (or perfect pencil) to paper that never fails to nudge problems aside.

3. I’m not superstitious about the muse because I trust it. I don’t, however, analyze how or why it works.

4. To write.

5. Someone asked me recently, how long I’d been writing and I replied, since kindergarten when I learned my ABCs. I remember making up stories in my head when I was very young. I was nine when I wrote the first one down.

I don’t know what makes one person love language more than the next. Or why some people can read a book and move on, and others read a book and think, I want to do that too.

I don’t know why writing is a joy for some and torture for others.

I don’t know if my facility with words is genetic like blue eyes, or a choice, like blue jeans.

I don’t know if being a writer puts me at some special juncture on the spectrum of being human or if it’s just a blip within the standard deviation.

I don’t know if the heavens aligned on the day I was born or if some hitch in genome pointed the way or if I woke up one morning and said, that’d be cool.

I guess that makes me different from all those who didn’t.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

It Had To Happen

A meme, which may be a social brain virus, is actually the last resort of someone trying to think up something to say 31 days straight.

Gratefully lifted from Tuesday's Tales.

Old Man Winter…

What is your favorite winter memory?

My parents used to drive two hours into the mountains so my sister and I could play in the snow.

What do you think or feel when you walk through freshly fallen snow?

I like the squeaky noise it makes.

What are three things that you enjoy most about the winter season?

Sweaters, hat hair without prejudice, Alpines.

How does the cold winter weather and shorter days affect your mood or outlook on life?

Makes me feel Christmasy.

Why do you look forward to the winter season?

I like sweaters, fires in the fireplace, Christmas, that driving can become an adventure and weather a trial, that cozy becomes an end onto itself, and community means we survived another one.

Monday, December 11, 2006

An Art Photograph

From my college portfolio.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Day 10 - A Dog Story, Cat Picture and One Minor Celebration

This is my 100th published blog post. I've been casting my lot into the ether for almost one year and at least 100 times. I thank everyone who has ever stopped by long enough to read one of my missives, either on purpose or by misdirected search engine. Blog On.

A Dog Story

Our first Welsh Terrier was a young show bitch named Maggie. We called her Little Maggie No-No. She was a terrier with every inch and molecule of her being. Which means, dear reader, she had a sly, cunning intelligence and was game to the bone.

Game as it applies to dogs means, they never give up. Never. (Which is not a bad trait for wannabee screenwriters, but I digress.)

One day, while Maggie watched from her kennel, a squirrel had the audacity to run around the yard, up one tree and down another, conducting his squirrely business where he had no right to be -- which is in Maggie's yard.

When I let Maggie out for her afternoon exercise, the first thing she did was run right up the trunk of the last Golden Willow tree where she had seen the squirrel. Leaving me yelling, "Maggie, no-NO," and wondering how in the heck did she run up that tree?

Earl and I watched Maggie track the squirrel on tree branches twenty feet from the ground. Up and back. Up and back, she ran on limbs from two inches in diameter to twigs.

Earl stood under the tree and held his arms out in catching position. I didn't think this was a very good idea as Maggie weighed about twenty-five pounds. Someone who can do math could figure out how great a blow a twenty-five pound weight falling from twenty feet can deliver. I didn't know what to do.

And then I had an epiphany. When something is about to happen, and there is nothing you can do, the best solution is to do nothing. So, I stood and watched.

First one back foot slipped off. Then the other back foot. She hung between a fork in the tree by her little elbows or whatever doggie underarms are called. Then she fell. Hit Earl a glancing blow on the head, then she hit the ground.

She immediately jumped at the tree to climb back up. I grabbed Maggie by the tail, and Earl by the arm as he was teetering from being half-knocked out by falling dog.

And then I started laughing, because my house may be a lot of things, but dull ain't one of them.
Dogs in trees. Like that could happen.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Day 9 - Pictures

We decorated the tree last night. I love Christmas.

And in preparation for the Day 10 Dog Story and Cat Picture, have you ever tried to take a picture of a cat?

A super-model, he ain't.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Sexism Saved Humanity

This article in the NY Times quotes this scientific paper that says Neanderthals died out because the women were too busy hunting with the men to stay cave bound taking care of baby cave people, and hence or voilá, whatever scientists say, if you want to maintain a viable breeding population, you can't be throwing Mom in front of wooly mammoths.

One proof they offer is that “Neanderthal sites include no bone needles, no small animal remains and no grinding stones for preparing plants.”

Which is kind of like saying since the last archeological study that sifted through my living space* did not find any frilly dresses, curlers, bobby pins or high heels, obviously no female of the species resided herein.

Now, according to my in-house anthropologist, this study ignores a few things, like Neanderthals and the humans that became us lived side by side for quite a while before the hunting/gathering activity developed. The Neanderthal tool set was different from the archaic human tool set. And, if I might add, we really haven’t got a freakin’ clue what was going on back then. The evidence is too scarce. These scientists are evaluating a partial record through the perspective lens of modern times to make gigantic leaps of logic.

Or, as one of the scientists who commented on the paper said more elegantly;

“While archaeologists have spent a vast amount of time and effort attempting to identify male versus female artifacts, activity areas, and task roles in the archaeological record, the more fundamental question why we expect hominins to have a gender-specific division of labor remains unanswered.”

The topic of the article was Neanderthals, but the conclusion to be drawn about good old homo sapiens is no small one. That the division of labor is what allowed our version of humanity to prosper. Keep that little woman at home and the next thing you know, you’ve conquered the world. That sexism is bred into our DNA, which makes it a problem more likely to linger.

Although, there is more evidence for that theory, it’s not a leap I’m willing to make.

*In this Era commonly called Spring Cleaning.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

News for Screenwriters

Here are a couple of links to fairly recent articles about screenwriting from the LA Times.

Not like they're good news or even new news, but they're interesting in the continuously evolving scribe world.

Screenwriters in the ...

LA Times Scriptland

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Ireland Forever

Just because.

The oft-heard Americanized form is spelled wrong and grammatically incorrect.

Please feel free to copy this image if you'd like the correct version.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Day 5 - Holidailies Epiphany #1

I’ve caught myself a couple of times saying, “Just a minute. I’m working on my Holidailies post.”

Or “I’ll be right there as soon as I’ve updated my blog.”

Yes, friends. It is that bad. Put the world on hold, I’m updating my blog.

And then I’ll catch myself several times a day, thinking -- What should I put up tomorrow? What can I say? Do I have a picture?

Just as I was about to note the end of myself as a useful person on earth, it occurred to me –

Why don’t I bring that same energy to my writing?

I’ll be right there as soon as I’ve finished this scene, these script pages, a plot reveal, some juicy dialog, Act 2, a line.

But I don’t. I let everything intrude. I wash clothes. I let the dogs out fifty times. I answer the phone. I look at the dust on the furniture. (Yeah, just look. Let’s not go crazy and do something wild like DUST the place. My career is too important to me.)

Several times, I’ve resolved to write first, everything else second, but what actually happens is I write between everything else.

The Holidailies challenge has shown me how little a bit of energy need be to make something important in a day.

So, here I go, to write first and make everything else wait.

Well, except the dogs. That’d just be silly.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Day 4 - Boys In The Hood

My neighborhood anyway. My yard to be exact.

A little farther down the street -

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Day 3 - Women in History - Jeanette Rankin

Jeanette Rankin was the first woman elected to Congress at a time when most women were denied the right to vote. She voted against US entry into both World Wars and protested the Viet Nam War.

Although her anti-war stance was unpopular during her Congressional years, she never backed down.

Ms. Rankin on War

“I want to stand by my country, but I cannot vote for war. I vote no.” 1917

“There can be no compromise with war; it cannot be reformed or controlled; cannot be disciplined into decency or codified into common sense; for war is the slaughter of human beings, temporarily regarded as enemies, on as large a scale as possible.” 1929

Concerning Equal Rights

“Men and women are like right and left hands; it doesn't make sense not to use both.”

“We're half the people; we should be half the Congress.”

“The individual woman is required . . . a thousand times a day to choose either to accept her appointed role and thereby rescue her good disposition out of the wreckage of her self-respect, or else follow an independent line of behavior and rescue her self-respect out of the wreckage of her good disposition.”

About the picture

This picture is from my photography exhibit, Women at Work, a show I created for Middle School girls. The exhibit was funded by a grant from the Puffin Foundation.

The photograph is a darkroom composite of a frame of the Rankin statue on the second floor of the Montana Capitol building and a formal portrait of Ms. Rankin.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Day 2 - In Which I Wonder, What To Say

Now that I’ve committed to the Holidailies challenge, I’m wondering if I have that much to say.

The noise you just heard was my family falling on the floor laughing. They know the problem isn’t that I don’t have anything to say. The problem is I don’t know when to stop.

For example, when someone asks, “Do these pants make my butt look big?”

If one says, “Do you think it’s the pants?” One has said too much.

If someone asks, “This gravy isn’t too lumpy, is it?”

One should not reply, “Gravy? I thought this was crunchy peanut butter.”

Occasionally, the shoe gets placed on the other foot.

I just joined the local Volunteer Fire Department and am studying to be one of my communities’ EMTs. In a burst of pride, solidarity or dementia, my Loved One gave me a pair of Fireman Boots. Such as these are ordered specially from the Policeman and Fireman Supply Catalog which holds a multitude of items that someone with an active imagination shouldn’t be allowed access to, but I digress.

The Fireman Boots have thick soles for standing a long time on hard surfaces. Rugged lug treads for climbing slippery slopes. High tops to protect fragile ankles. A broad width across the ball of the foot, so one’s toes don’t get squished. In other words, when Dr. Frankenstein bought footwear for the Monster, he shopped in the Fireman’s Supply Catalog.

I said to my Loved One, “These shoes make my feet look enormous.”

And he said, “Are they warm?”

“I can’t even cover them up with my pant leg,” says I.

“And they’re warm,” says he.

Discretion, the better part of valor, also makes for long marriages.

So, I ask you, dear reader, do these boots make my feet look big?
I know they're warm.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Day 1 Holidailies 2006

So, I decided to join in this year because it sounded like fun and all the cool kids were doing it.

If you haven’t heard, Holidailies is a free community writing project. All 2006 participants promise to update their personal web sites every day from December 1 to January 1.

Fifty words or a picture. Post every day. The point? Repetition creates habit. Not that I think posting everday to the blog is a habit worth cultivating, but writing every day is.

But check back about Day 10 when I’m down to a dog story and a cat picture.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Cry Me A River

is what they should have called THE FOUNTAIN.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Three In One Week

In the last week, I've seen three movies.

A Good Year - made me want to learn French, go to France, sit in a sidewalk cafe, and, I don't know, just be. Plus it stars Russell Crowe. Parlé vous, yum?

US vs John Lennon - I learned three things.

1. Richard Nixon was more paranoid and insane than we knew.
2. John was hipper than we realized.
3. Yoko was, dare I say it, not as bad as we thought.


Even though Phillip Seymour Hoffman's acting couldn't be topped, Infamous is a much better film. It offers a kinder treatment of Capote, and a reveal in the story the audience did not see coming.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Post #91
In Which I Make A Terrible Confession

Alas, this secret has weighed heavy on my soul for many years. A few knew the truth, but like other scandalous family baggage, never divulged it in public. The shame of it drives them undercover every year about this time.

I write Christmas letters. And not only that. I love them like the last kitten in a box.

Usually, after Thanksgiving Dinner, I sit somewhere comfy with a glass of wine and compose my yearly missive which I then print on holiday stationary after digitally affixing xmas gifs from all over the Net. If those Christmas cards bearing my annual Christmas letter aren’t in the mail day after Thanksgiving, something has gone dreadfully wrong at my house.

Over the years, I’ve treated Friends and Relatives to various news tidbits and stories, which, even if I do say so myself (and I do) have never been the little-Earlene-graduated-1st-in-her- class-of-1,247-plebes type.

One year, the first year we spent as urban homesteaders, I wrote about the wonders of caprine reproduction as we bred our first livestock for homemade milk and cheese. In other words, goat sex.

Then, there was the year I took up archery to join Earl elk hunting, and since elk are sensible creatures, avoiding humanity if possible, we never saw any elk. Spent the whole long trek up the mountain and back discussing elk “sign,” the whys, wherefores and such which ended up as a Christmas letter story. Yes, I included in my holiday missive that year, a lengthy discussion of poo.

Of course, between animal husbandry and wildlife biology, there were graduations, moves, promotions, and the occasional trip, but nothing to compare to the year everybody and the dog got pinkeye just before Thanksgiving. I remember writing, At least I’m not pregnant.

When that familiar urge came upon me that is was time to decide if I had any news worth throwing at the family tree, it felt oddly fresh and familiar. Why’s that, I wondered? It felt the same as when I sit down to –


Now, I’ve read those important essays about the burgeoning web-writing culture being a reaction to social ills from too many Republicans to the death of individual responsibility.


The blogsphere is a Christmas letter, from everyone, to everyone, every day, of every year, 24/7. Merry Christmas.

Dear Friends and Relations,

Little Earlene would have won 1st prize in the rock-throwing contest for the third time in a row if she hadn’t stopped to watch a goat with pinkeye have sex with an elk.

So, what have you and yours been up to this year?

Happy Holidays.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Flags Of Our Fathers

Not one I was interested in or planning to see, but after some good word of mouth, we went to the afternoon matinee.

The four o'clock showing was almost full. The audience was adults.

When the film was over, I witnessed something I'd never seen at the movies.

The credits roll on the right side of the screen. On the left, pictures of the actual participants and battle photographs.

Not one person moved or made a sound until the credit sequence finished and the lights came on.

Not a breath or a rustle. Shift of weight or a stretch. No one shrugged into their coat or picked up their purse. The power of the movies.
The impact of an image.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Prestige

Don't read the reviews.

Don't talk about it with your friends first.

Don't even watch the trailer.

Go see it.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Act Your Age

Not your IQ. Isn’t that the schoolyard taunt? I don’t know which applies in this instance.

I have always said, when I sell a script, I’m going to buy an egregious sports car no sensible middle-aged woman would be caught dead in. In a similar vein, when the boys in my family decided to take up ATV touring, I thought, well, why not? I’m not dead, yet. And like a lot of things we start doing with boys, it turned out to be really, really fun.

Before I could say, which way did he go, Doc, I possessed a shiny 4 wheel recreational vehicle capable of powering up hill and over dale, guaranteed to destroy the domestic tranquility of every living creature within earshot and, like I said, really, really fun.

The government has divided the forest into places with trails where motorized traffic is allowed during certain times of the year, and trails that allow only foot traffic and usually these are separated by wide margins.

Around here, the motorized traffic acceptable trails are either old logging roads in terrible condition winding through steep canyons over sheer cliffs or narrow ATV specific trails that loop precipitous ridges and declivitous* ledges. Sensing a pattern?

On our first ride, over a trail I’m sure the Forest Service calls HELL and GONE, I learned the 4-wheel drive feature was for sections of trail that went like this.

And later for sections of trail that went like that.

All the while I’m trying not to go …

About the time I’m almost used to balancing, one wheel at a time, over multiple terrain, I see this** in the woods.
And then this***.

When we finally make it to the trailhead that exits on a real road, thank Civilization, I see this roadside attraction.
Yep. One minute, I’m enjoying the spectacle that is nature,
and the next minute, I’m in the Blair Witch Project.
Which illustrates the following:

There is no end to the trouble for which boys are responsible.

We may harken back to the days when sensible middle-aged women made pies, crafted curtains and kept quietly to home. But what fun would that be?


*Isn’t that a cool word? Means “steep downward slope,” from the Latin, declivitas. Sounds dirty too.
**deer, probably.
***likewise, I’m sure.

From Whence They Came

Like most bloggers, I’m linked to a site that records how many viewings my blog receives. I quickly grew tired of checking this when, in 30 hits, one would be my daughter and the other 29 were me checking to see if anyone had been there. So, I quit checking. I knew I was reading it.

While cruising the Net last night, I checked the counter and found someone in Russia had viewed my blog.

Could it be? Are there frustrated wannabe screenwriters in Mother Russia seeking the solace of similar frustrating experience?


Another feature of the blog counter is to see the referring page, if any. My Russians arrived via hits from a google search on underground and keds. Apparently, if you want red Keds in Russia, you must go underground to get them.

Speaking of Russia, once upon a time, I wanted to add some Russian to a script and went googling for Russian translations and the first Russian-looking page I clicked on was for Russian Transvestites.

Since I am the last person on earth still on dial-up, I had a while to look at the slow-loading picture, and a little while longer to ponder what is wrong with this fellow? Oh my. Oops.

Which isn’t as bad as when my Dearest went looking for a present for our kiddo from a Nik cartoon show, but when he typed Angry Beavers in the Google Search Bar he got multiple pop-up windows that wouldn’t close and couldn’t be ignored. Who knew there were so many and they were that angry?

By the way, Angry Beavers was a cartoon about two beaver brothers, Norbert and Daggett who got into all kinds of trouble and spouted lines we still quote from time to time, even though the show is long gone.

Innocence of the law is no excuse, they say. Unsuspecting naivete is no protection, as I have learned.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


I was tagged for The Book Meme by Candace.

1) One book that changed your life:

Alas Babylon.

2) One book that you’ve read more than once:

Gone With The Wind

3) One book you’d want on a deserted island:

Building Classic Small Craft: Complete Plans and Instructions for 47 Boats

4) One book that made you laugh:

To Kill A Mockingbird

5) One book that made you cry:

The Horse Whisperer

6) One book you wish you’d written:


7) One book you wish had never been written:

The Good Mother. I pitched that damn thing across the room when I finished, and haven’t read any more from her.

Another book I tossed, when I got to the end, was Cold Mountain. Literary novelists can drive a person to the brink. The movie was better. So there!

And while I’m on it, Story by Robert McKee. It’s complicated the lives of screenwriters near and far.

8) One book you're currently reading:

I just finished Creepers by David Morrell. Oh my, that book got scarier and scarier. Just when Poor Reader thought the worst had happened, something completely new and much worse occurred. I’m going to read all his books now.

Search Angel by Mark Nykanen and The Devil’s Guide to Hollywood by Joe Esterhas.

Yes, hard to believe. Sensitive woman that I be, reading Esterhas.

Well, for one thing, as I have ascertained by page 119, he hates McKee. I read an interview in Newsweek in which the interviewer mocked Nasty Old Joe and his work. I saw a great quote once along the lines of – - Critics are like those small snappy dogs that impede the progress of those doing the real work -- so I decided to read Devil’s Guide because the Newsweek interviewer was a snot.

9) One book you've been meaning to read:

Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway.

10) Tag five people:

Dare I be so bold?


I don’t think I know five people online. But, if you’re reading this and want to respond, consider yourself tagged.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Virgin Effort

Over at Everybody I Shot Is Dead, in the comments, is a discussion about the One Page Challenge suggesting someone should post the first page of their first screenplay.


And all I have to say is, oh my.


One more thing, the answer to that last question, lest I leave you twitching with curiosity is, "Sudden onset of ground."

Anyone else?

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Red Keds

When I imagine giving speeches as a famous writer, I explain fiction thus:

Writing fiction is like building a log cabin. Sometimes, truth is the log. Sometimes, it’s the sticky stuff between the logs. Either way, the fiction writer need not tell which is which. She gets off scot free with the claim, I made it all up.

I recently received notes on my last script which is a modern Western family drama about a World Champion calf-roping cowboy who injures his wrist and returns to the ranch where he grew up. He wants to lay low. Hide out. Think about what he’s going to do next. The family he left behind have troubles of their own which they are all too eager to hand over to him. Everyone in the story has a secret.

The script begins in 1977, the day an orphaned boy, the cowboy to be, is handed over to his uncle. The first glimpse of the kid is of red Keds pounding against a couch. Several reviewers mentioned red Keds would not be child footwear in the 70s. More 60s or 50s, they thought.

Now, I looked at a jillion pages on wrist anatomy to get my calf roper’s injury right.

Make a fist. Rotate your fist clockwise a couple of times. Know what you’re looking at? A miracle. That movement is accomplished over eight bones that look like chipped marbles.

And what did Miss Obsessive Researcher do, come time to shoe an orphan? Slipped him into the shoes I got every summer.

Nevermind when.

So, I’m building my fiction log cabin, see, hiding my truth behind logs and caulk, and what I don’t realize is that I’m standing there bare-assed because I unconsciously reveal myself in my writing no matter how many times I say, I made it all up.

Some might think footwear notes are inconsequential compared to the more important business of structure, plot, formatting.

Au contraire, she says.

Red Keds notes are important because nothing should strike a false note with a reader. Nothing.

And, one of these days, you can come to my famous writer speeches and I’ll tell you why.

Friday, September 29, 2006

One Page Challenge

I heard it from Pooks, but it started here.

Post one page. No ifs, ands, buts, shouldas, whatever.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Wednesday Night Out

The sign said CLOSED, but the door was open, so we went in.

The albino from the manager's office sold us tickets. He offered to make popcorn.

The theater was empty. Silent. The pre-movie soundtrack killed by lack of interest.

A man, who looked like Santa Claus in a wheelchair, motored in and parked himself in the handicap space. He wore a wool hat and flip-flops.

I pretended to look the whole theater over, so Santa wouldn't know I was staring at him, and saw a bald man so skinny, he could be the living skelton illustration, slip into the next to the last row.

A middle-aged guy who was a college professor, or I've never been to school, planted himself center screen, center row.

I went back to staring at the blank screen wondering if I was about to see a porno.

I snuggled up to my cold water bottle and wondered what would happen next.


Santa left ten minutes before the picture ended. Guess he didn't care who did it. Or gave up guessing.

How was the picture?

Well, there was a nice long shot of Josh Harnett's bare bottom.

The End.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Wonder where Eve went?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Don't Say Aaahh . . .

Because that little heathen killed one of our chickens last night.

A buff hen named after a blonde movie star from old Hollywood, who never did anything except lay one egg a day and eat grasshoppers. The hen, not the movie star.

And if Night of the Chicken Murder wasn’t enough, a deer moseyed into the greenhouse and ate all the peas and the ripest green tomato.

Since when do deer eat tomatoes?

And then, as I was dragging the hose to the greenhouse to water the survivors, I spied a SNAKE lying in wait in front of the door.

When I turned to holler for Earl to come kill the snake, I swallowed a bug.

So, on this day, friends, the score is:

Nature 4 Humans 0.

Oh wait, the bug didn’t make it. 1 for our side.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Mistaken Identity

My parents are moving to a new house. I've been helping my Dad make the "official" changes around town.

Twice last week, I was mistaken for my mother.


Someone tell me.

I do not look old enough to be married to a 78 year old man.