The People of Walmart song and video

You may see a few of these folks while you’re hitting The Walmart for those great Memorial Day sales!  BTW – I’m a The Walmart shopper.  It’s like retail crack.  You can’t resist it once you’ve had a taste of cheap goods at even cheaper prices.

The artist here is Jessica Frech and you can buy the song on iTunes.

Book Five of the Oz Chronicles: The Last Creyshaw (First 40 words)

After seeing a couple of comments from readers of the Oz Chronicles today, I realized I have neglected the topic on the blog for too long.  I wanted to get through Two Notch before I even thought about it.  I just did my last reading for Two Notch before I send it out to my agent, so I guess I can give Book Five some blog time.  It’s tentatively titled The Last Creyshaw.  Oz Chroniclers will know what a Creyshaw is so I won’t bother going into it.  The synopsis is done.  Meaning it has a beginning, middle and an end.  I just have to fill in the hundreds of pages of details.  But here is the first 40 words (which could change by the time it’s ready to publish).

They surfaced.  Dug their way out of the ground and killed one of us.  My gut ties in knots every time I think about it. We were all there, but there was nothing we could do.  Nothing. He was dead.

I know it’s not much, but Book Five is now officially underway. I’ll keep you posted.

God’s invisible Rapture

Harold Camping - Scaring stupid people since 1961

Oy, Harold Camping is annoying.  The “minister” (and I use that word loosely) who infamously predicted the Rapture would happen on May 21, 2011 is now saying it did happen.  We’re just not spiritual enough to know it.  God is way too cool to use earthquakes and other natural disasters to bring about the destruction of the human race.  His new thing is the invisible Rapture. 

I personally think God is rolling his eyes right about now and muttering “Seriously?” to himself.  The really sad thing is that no matter how many times Camping is wrong there are a small number of people that are going to believe him and throw money at this idiot so he can continue to be wrong.   

If Camping is representative of the kind of people God is going to call up during the Rapture, I volunteer to stay behind. 

Rapture Predictor Harold Camping: Apocalypse Rescheduled for October 21

Tennessee lawmakers make South Carolina legislature look good

As a resident of South Carolina, I’d like to personally thank God for Tennessee politicians.  They’re so wacko they make our elected officials look sane.  In a move that flies in the face of the U.S. Constitution and insults the very idea of freedom, a state senator by the name of Stacey Campfield has introduced and maneuvered a bill through the senate that, if passed in the house, will make it illegal to mention homosexuality in any public school’s curriculum.

Apparently, Campfield has a deep burning desire to teach the young people of Tennessee how to trample on the civil rights of other Americans who don’t live a lifestyle he approves of.  Let’s not kid ourselves, he’s an anti-gay activist that is on a crusade to stamp out what he considers an affront to God. 

Denying another human being’s right to openly love the person of their choice is an affront to God. This is a law that will make young people already confused by their sexuality feel shame and self-loathing for how they feel.  It’s a law that panders to bigotry, and gives homophobics justification to spread their message of hate.     

Actor and gay activist George Takei has gotten behind the anti-“Don’t Say Gay” movement and is offering an alternative to the word gay so the young people and educators of the state of Tennessee can speak freely about homosexuality without making themselves criminals.  It sounds idiotic, but sometimes it’s the only way to beat idiots at their own game.

If you want to get involved to help defeat the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, join the Tennessee Equality Project.

Fire and Rice and Everything Nice – An Original Recipe

I love playing around in the kitchen and creating almost as much as I love to sit down and write a good story.  My favorite is spicy, spicy, spicy foods.  It’s not for everybody, but it adds kick and flavor to basic meals.  Here’s a little something I came up with this past week.

Fire and Rice and Everything Nice

1 cup of uncooked rice (I prefer organic brown rice)

1 Jalapeño pepper (finely chopped)

1 Habanero pepper (finely chopped)

2 garlic gloves  (minced)

1 Roma tomato (finely chopped)

½ cup finely chopped pineapple

1 slice deli ham finely chopped

½ cup of finely chopped fresh cilantro

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 cups chicken stock

I throw all the ingredients into my rice cooker and follow the normal instructions for cooking rice, but if I didn’t have the cooker, I’d throw it in a pot and cook it according to the instructions on the rice. 

Top the above off with homemade guacamole and canned black beans. Here’s how I prepare the guacamole.

Guacamole

3 Avocados (skinned and deseeded)

¼ cup of finely chopped fresh cilantro

1 Roma tomato (finely chopped)

1 Jalapeño pepper (finely chopped)

½ teaspoon salt

Lime juice from one lime

Mix the Avocado in a bowl until it’s a chunky, sloppy green pile.  Toss in the other ingredients and mix until evenly blended.

It’s easy to prepare and it is food that will make you sweat!  Love it!

QVC makes a move to buy Barnes & Noble

Let the crapfest begin!

It’s no secret that print books are giving way to e-books in sales.  In fact, Amazon just announced that they’re selling more e-books than hardcovers.  The transformation from ink and paper to bits and bytes has been a long time in coming.  The publishing industry has danced on the pinhead of obsolescence almost since the day Alan Kay developed  the Dynabook in 1968.  It was a tablet PC aimed at children.  Its primary function was as an e-reader, and publishers balked at the technology.  They balked for the next 40 years, getting onboard only when a major online retailer proved that e-books could outsell print books.  Now they’re struggling to get their piece of the e-book pie.

Brick and mortar stores took a digital thrashing.  Borders declared bankruptcy.  Independent bookstores across the land have been folding hand over fist.  And even the once great and invincible Barnes & Noble has stumbled as of late.  They developed their own e-reader, but the move didn’t eliminate their major issue of overhead, physical space.  They have inventory. Real books amounts to nothing more than a sin against profits. 

And then comes QVC.  The mega-boobtube-retailer of all things crap has put in a billion dollar bid for Barnes & Noble.  It’s a terrifying development that has me envisioning a future in publishing that features scenes like Stephen King on the QVC set hawking his next horror novel. Or worse yet, Jonathan Franzen peddling his “Oprah, Come back!” t-shirts.  In a world where print books are losing ground, QVC may have the tacky cachet to move lots of books printed on dead trees.  QVC would have brick & mortar footprints.  They could send their viewers in droves to stores for signings and other events. 

So, why isn’t that a good thing?  Because I much fear the quality of the books they will give airtime to will match the quality of their current line of products.  QVC doesn’t sell the best products.  They sell the flashiest products.  Flashy does not a good book make.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not claiming I write great literature.  I’m not the type that you’ll see accepting a Pulitzer or National Book Award some day. That doesn’t meant I don’t read those books.  In fact, I think those books should be what the publishing industry focuses on.  

And they won’t if QVC is as successful as I think it can be.  The publishing industry will cater to couch potato shoppers and not readers.  The true tragedy is that writers will lose out.  The written word won’t be nearly as important as the QVC HotPicks Specials of the day.   It’s sad, but the thing that could save the print sector is poorly written books that look good on camera.

Early feedback on The Man Who Saved Two Notch leads to Preface (Sample Posted)

When the world ends, the lawless old West will rise again!

I have four or five early readers for my new book, The Man Who Saved Two Notch. A couple have gotten back to me with some invaluable feedback.  I actually wrote a preface for the book that I otherwise wouldn’t have written without their input.  That’s why I use early readers.  They can help you make a book better.

I went through four versions of the preface and the last one is completely different from the first.  Here’s the preface as it reads now.  Remember, this is not a young adult novel like my others, so if you’re offended by graphic situations and language, look away… now!

Preface

I was there.  I seen him die.  The whore and him faced down nearly ten men.  The sun was buried deep under the curve of the earth by the time the first shot was fired.  Clouds smothered the tiny white slit of a moon.  The flashes popping out of the muzzles of their guns lit up the night.  The crack of the gunshots echoed through the emptiness of the world around us.  If you listened hard enough, you could pick up the sounds of dying men fighting for their last breaths.  But I didn’t care to listen for that sort of thing.

When the dust settled and I was sure it was over, I approached him.  His feet was still moving, flexing up and down.  Blood was pouring from all his wounds, old and new.  His eyes were darting left and right.  Words were coming out of his mouth, but I couldn’t make heads or tails out of what he was saying.

I knelt down and turned my ear towards his mouth.

“There’s a lot of ‘em.”  That’s what I could make out anyway.  It came out in a pile of mumbling.  I looked where his darting eyes was scanning and noticed the clouds had give way.  He was lying under a star-speckled sky.

“Yes, sir,” I said.

He reached up and grabbed hold of the back of my head.  “Feel bad about the little ones.”

“Sir?” I struggled to work myself free, but his grip was strong as granite.

“Henry?”

“Yes, sir?”

“I’ve gotta answer for the little ones.” He chuckled.  “I ain’t sure they all deserved it.”

That’s when I knew he wasn’t talking about the stars.  I didn’t know what to say, so I just said, “S’pose that’ll be worked out soon enough.”

He smiled.  “That’s what I’m afraid of.”

A couple of minutes later he spoke his last words.  The bouncing of his eyes come to a stop and he fixed them on me.  “Don’t let that fucking bear eat me.”

I was calling this an Apocalyptic Western, but it turns out the industry is really into the term “mashup,” so now I’m calling this an Apocalyptic Western Mashup.  That’s way cooler… I guess.

A few things I’m over

Maybe it’s because I’m cynical or maybe it’s because I’ve seen it hundred times before or maybe it’s just because I’m over it… whatever the reason, there are things that I find so tired and uninspiring, that I actually find it annoying other people get joy out of it or they’re surprised by it.  Does that make me a terrible person?  Here’s my list of things I’ve over.

Dunks – The slam dunk in the NBA is so twentieth century.  If you play professional basketball and you can’t dunk, you might want to find another line of work.  It actually makes me angry when I see a headline online for a video of a slam dunk in an NBA game.  Really?  You mean a guy a foot taller than me can jump up and stuff a basketball in a hoop?  Wow!  Next you’ll be telling me that Dolphins can swim.

The Truth commercials – I don’t smoke.  I don’t condone smoking.  I think smoking is an outrageously stupid thing to do.  However, every time I see one of those “The Truth” anti-smoking commercials, I want to run out and buy a pack of cigarettes and smoke until my lungs explode.  They just piss me off.  They’re so preachy and guilt centric, a league of old Catholic mothers have to be behind them. 

Vampires – It’s done.  It’s over.  Stake them in the heart and get over it.  Vampires aren’t cool anymore.  Sorry, True Blood!  You’re almost tolerable, but unfortunately, you’re the victim a of pretty-boy infused overly-saturated genre that resembles the waning days of Studio 54 instead of an ascending trend. 

The term “My gays” – You should insert Lady Gaga’s likeness into your brain as you read this particular complaint. I support same sex marriage.  I think it’s embarrassing that as a society we allow someone to be stripped of their civil rights just because of whom they love.  However, I hate the term “My gays.”  Mostly because it’s used by self-important celebrities who want to be seen as forward thinking and tolerant so badly that they present themselves as worshipped by the disenfranchised homosexual masses.  Personally, I find it offensive that a term that suggests ownership of one group by someone is being so widely used.  Talk about a civil rights faux pas.      

Reality TV – Do we really have to be endlessly reminded how many douche bags there are in the world?  I’ve seen enough of the culture of dolts in this country to know I don’t want to see anymore.  We’ve turned infamy into a sick and depraved brass ring of fame that the dangerously stupid will stop at nothing to grasp onto.  If they were just hurting themselves, I wouldn’t mind so much, but these idiots are actually adding to their ranks at an alarming rate through their drunken and mindless mating rituals.  As long as they are given a forum to showcase their deeply dimwitted lifestyles, they will never go away. 

I’m sure there are more I can think of, but I don’t want to drown you in old man angst and pet peevery all at once.  I’ll let it drip from  my leaky gray matter over time.  I’m R.W. Ridley and these are the things that make me cranky.