Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Get ready...get set....GO!

The time is almost near.

The study is stocked, fully ready. Soda pop, coffee, granola, chips, nuts, and cookies all within easy reach. The heating pad is draped over the chair for the times when sitting up is an option; the day bed has all of my favorite back supporting pillows with clean, crisp pillowcases. The kitten's cat bed is tucked under the desk. My mythological source material is lined up on it. Freshly sharpened pencils--number twos both red and black--fill the old ceramic beer stein I use as a pencil holder. Five reams of new paper, six new computer cartridges and a nice whiny new empty file folder on my desktop that is titled simply "Terella."

I'm ready for NaNoWriMo.

My fellow competitors in The Great Tea Debacle are probably ready too. It's actually kind of funny; I'll be following down my normal path of fantasy hackdom and one of them will probably write something that will win a Pulitzer. But, that is the challenge we genre writers face; I'd rather have a Nebula.

Terella is an interesting world. I wrote a backstory for it last night during the FNW at the Dragon's Den. Over 2k in an hour, so I'm up to speed. I wrote a tasty little creation myth that may end up as the prologue to the novel. We shall see. I'll spend some time tomorrow looking for a nifty little word counter for the blog so everyone will know how I'm progressing.

Although NaNo sets a 50k word limit in order to 'win', my personal goal is a bit higher. I want to hit 120k by the first of December. It would be cool if I managed it; I'm going to post the chapters at the Dragon's Den as I go and maybe, just maybe, I'll have a manuscript that I can edit and polish and zip out to be rejected within a couple of months.

Eight more minutes. Wow, am I ready. I've not been this excited to write in a long time. Despite the fun and games involved with the Tea Debacle, it's a privilege to be writing alongside some individuals that I really respect. I'm going to enjoy it.

*evil grin* No, I didn't buy into that either. Let the games begin.

Holy Grammar Nazi, Batman!

All righty then. I have just read the WORST critique EVER. Not worst as in 'bad.' A bad critique is the one that reads as follows:

Wow. This was good. I have nothing else to say.

I mean, unless you're Homer or Dante that sort of critique is pretty much useless. No, I'm talking about a great critique on a bad piece of writing. First off, any time the critique is longer than the story it's not a good sign. Second, if the critique is the only thing written with things like proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation it's REALLY not a good sign.

But what if the critique is so entertaining in its badness that you forget what the story is about? That can't be good, can it?

I pride myself on giving good, solid story critiques. I usually leave the technical aspects to someone more qualified than I to give it, for example someone with a degree in English. Nothing wrong with a good grammar nazi; every writer should endeavor to have at least one friend who qualifies for grammar nazidom. I focus on character development, pertinency of plot devices, the fine art of substituting words in well-know cliches...that sort of thing. I will, if pressured, point out a stray comma or superfluous adverb but that's very rare. Unlike the grammar nazi, I'm reasonably fond of commas and adverbs.

What made this particular crit so funny was how long it took for the grammar nazi to degenerate from detailed, nicely written explanations to "OMG WILL YOU FUCKING FIX THAT?" (paraphrased, of course) I have to admit, I was laughing helplessly by the end of it. I printed it off after I was done and am now commissioning a lithograph from the critique. I want it silkscreened onto 3 x 5 panels to hang along the stairway in my foyer. Kind of like Andy Warhol meets Miss Snark. It could be fun.

There is a down side to this story however, and it is this. The person who received the critique is unlikely to actually benefit from it at all. This writer has never, to my knowledge, taken a crit and implemented it into any of his further rewrites. The grammar nazi has expended so much time and effort, effort that could have been better used on someone who was willing to pick up the red pen themselves and improve their work.

My writing is not perfect. Far from it. I am in no position to really sit back and slice up another writer's work with grammatical precision. But then again, I can't begin to calculate the number of hours that I've sat, Chicago Manual of Style in hand, and gone through my stories line by line to ensure that I've given my absolute best to a piece of work. Even then, I miss a lot. But, at least I made the effort.

So here's to the grammar nazis of the world. My hat's off to you. And to this particular grammar nazi (and you know who you are) a special salute. Although your intended recipient will never ever appreciate what you've done, I certainly do. It's the best damn critique I've ever--EVER--seen.

By the way, my manuscript is in the mail. Be gentle with it. And when you win your Pullitzer, I'll be able to say I knew you when.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Getting Ready

I'm still learning so much. I'm trying to get all of my techno geek stuff out of the way before NaNoWriMo. One of those things is the Technorati Profile
Technorati link that I'm posting. I want to see if this actually works. I think I have lots of interesting things to say, despite the carnie derailments of last month.

My writing cave is ready to go: fully stocked with all of the implements I need to win the Great Tea Debacle. Don't forget to check out the other participants' (subtext--losers') blogs if you want to keep up with progress.

*starts the Celina Wins gregorian chant mantra in the background*

Tonight will be yet another all nighter I fear. I have less than 24 hours to complete my rewrites and get them in. Should be interesting. Bring on the coffee! I have no fear!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Yep...those are my guts up on the table

Gee whiz. This whole review process is nerve-wracking. It's entirely too stressful to think that out there somewhere in the cyberworld, people are reading The Reckoning of Asphodel and judging it.

How do you judge someone else's work? I can crit with the best of them, leaving the grammar to someone else of course. I can critique storyline, character development, plotting or lack thereof without problem. But am I qualified to judge someone else's work and publish my opinion for anyone to read?

*shudders* Good God, no. I know what I like but I'd be afraid to toss out my tastes and back them up. You have got to respect reviewers. Even if you don't agree with what they say, you have to listen to what they say.

Granted, I've seen some gratuitous novel-shredding reviews in my time. Some reviews have made me blink. Some have made me cringe. My pseudonym received a review that had her throwing things at the wall. But this is different. This story is my baby. This story is the one that stewed for almost two decades. This story is the one that taught me how to be a writer as opposed to a tinkerer.

As far as I can tell, Asphodel is currently in the hands of at least ten review sites. It's garnering favorable reader reviews on Fictionwise, overwhelmingly receiving "great" or "good" ratings. (There's only 1 'ok' rating and no 'poor' ratings.) The final rewrite of Asphodel 2 is almost done and it'll be off to Aspen Mountain so the editor can make all my pretty white pages red with comments inserted.

*bites fingernails*

Wow. I hope I survive.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A day made for plotting

The house is quiet. All of the cats are napping, save for the kitten. She's trying her darnedest to find a way up. Her favorite pastime is sitting in an open window and yelling at birds.

Usually, when I settle in like this it's with a pot of coffee (I keep the coffee maker on my desk) and whatever survival supplies I think I might need. But today is special. Today I have the house all to myself. No one will be here to bother me. I can luxuriate in the calming environment of my study, smelling the season's first gurgles of heat as they rise from the just-lit-today furnace, and I can plot.

Plotting is what I do best. It is my passion. Sometimes I think the only reason I write is to find out how the plot is going to work out. Some of my plots are so convoluted I have to track the plots twists on butcher paper on my walls. (One of my editors last year sent me a frustrated email: "Celina, for Christ's sake this is supposed to be a NOVELLA. You don't NEED five plot twists in a NOVELLA. The only reason you need two characters is because it's erotica. Stop trying to be literary and just write the goddamned thing.") I have at this moment 12 completely distinct world already built--historied, peopled, with religions and maps and characters who live there. Every once in a while, a day comes like today. Then I take out my world building files and I ponder.

And plot.

Today, I kept hot water in my coffee maker so that I could make tea. My semi-annual allergy hell has struck again and those of us in The Great Tea Debacle have been talking so much about tea that I now have a taste for it. So, teacup in hand, I opened the folder and this fell into my lap.

A whole new world. No Darkshifters (who are about to wend their merry way through the Big Apple) and no Elves (I think I killed them all)--it's different from the other long fiction that I've written. I got the idea when I read TH White's Bestiary--a sourcebook that still remains on my desk--about two years ago and haven't thought about it for a while. It's White's translation of a 12th century bestiary written in Latin. As a sort of preface, he quoted Paradise Lost by Milton:

The Earth obey'd and straight
op'ning her fertile womb teem'd at a birth
Innumerous living creatures, perfect forms,
Limb'd and full-grown...
The grassy clods now calv'd; now half appear'd
The tawny lion, pawing to get free
His hinder parts, then springs as broke from bonds
And rampant shades his brindled mane; the ounce
The libbard and the tiger...
Paradise Lost,vii, 453

That particular section started me. I actually took PL back and reread it. I must admit to a passing fondness for old Milton. I always enjoyed being the only kid in the class who 'got it'. So when I began building this particular world, it was with the thoughts of creation foremost in my mind. After all, what could be more fun than building a world for a world that hasn't been created yet?

Then again, I could go with something easier. Something along the lines of this. But for some reason this particular world has gotten the wheels a'turning again. My muse and I are having a long heart-to-heart chat. I've already ripped down all of the Darkshifters plot charts that are resolved and have started to pin up the ones for Terella.

*sigh* Usually when I get this excited about a project it turns out badly for my word count. *evil grin* You believe that right? Right?

Terella--dark fantasy--projected word count 150k before I weep and wail and cut it. Oh, and the first sentence? That much I've already written and I'm just going to stew on it until midnight on Halloween.

"The Void was a pleasant place to be as long as your expectations weren't high..."

Monday, October 22, 2007

Battle Scenes

So, I'm sitting cross-legged ont he day bed in my study working on the very tail end of the Asphodel 2 rewrites. I pulled an all-nighter last night and as I write this it's already almost tomorrow. And you guys don't think I sacrifice for my art...

You're right. Ain't no art when there's Elf-killin' involved and at the moment I'm up to my non-pointed ears in Elf gore. I love writing battle scenes. The only reason I know anything at all about how to orchestrate a battle scene is because of Julius Caesar. Sound odd? It shouldn't be. Try reading his Gallic Commentaries sometime. Roman strategy from a man who wept because Alexander the Great had accomplished more at a younger age.

Fortunately, I do have distractions. If the kitten doesn'tstop chewing on my removable hard drive cord sometime soon I'm going to have a fluffy white throw rug for a dollhouse.

Anyway, I'm off from work this week until Saturday night and the football game. I'm actually very glad of that because I haven't recovered from the horrors of fair week and birthday week back-to-back yet. On top of that, I have a doctor's appointment on Thursday and he's going to yell at me. It won't be pleasant, probably because his definition of 'light duty' is far, far different from mine. Oh well.

So, the writer's life resumes while the carnie slave dwindles into the background. Sometimes there's a lot to be said for the continuity of life. And, for an eerie coincidence, while I was working on these assorted battle scenes I was privy to one in real life. Nothing serious: just more family squabbles but in everyday life, just as in war there are strategies and counter-strategies one must employ in order to win the day.

Another battle scene? How about the latest from Harry Potter land?

I'm inclined to think that this is a great thing. Dumbledore, already beloved by so many, is now a positive role model for youngsters regarding homosexuality. But, on message boards all over the world, controversy is flaring into bitterness. I can't even begin to tell you how many threads I've seen locked because some yaboo decides to get offended at what was nothing more than a character note an author made to herself. Does it affect the story? No. Then why the big deal? I foresee many battle scenes deriving from this, and some of them won't be pretty. They'll probably force some segments of society to take a good, hard look at themselves and their prejudices.

Boy I sure do hope so anyway. Way to go, Jo!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A Scary Story for Young Writers...Gather 'Round

Lemme tell you a little story.

Once upon a time, there was a very ignerrent newbie writer. We'll just call At any rate, Celina had written the NGGN (next great genre novel, duh) and was just starting to poke around the internet looking for what she should do next.

(Did I add that she was pain-pill befuddled after two years of excruciating back pain? No? Well I digress. To continue...)

Just because it SEEMED SO EASY, she contacted a few agents via their online information. You know, sent out a couple of query letters and synopses (which were faithfully reproduced from sample ones online at great places like Absolute Write and Editors and Preditors) just to see what would happen.

Imagine her shock when, a few weeks later, she was contacted for a partial. Now, although most places stipulated first three chapters, this place was different. They only wanted part of one. Celina shrugged, sent it out, popped another Percocet and went back to playing Snood. I have this right? FIVE days she was contacted by an agent offering her a contract.

Oh the joy. A real, live contract. How wonderful. But....wait. She has to PAY this agent four grand? For what? Oh, it was explained to Celina meticulously.

But something didn't seem quite right.

Armed with more Percocet, Celina staggered back to the computer. While swilling a glass (okay--a bottle, damnit) of wine, she proceeded to do a very simple thing. She googled cris+robins+agency.

Let me repeat that. Doped up on Percocet, drunk off of wine, completely in agony (this was before my back surgery) I spent five minutes of time and googled someone--and LO AND BEHOLD-- I managed NOT to get scammed.

Now, those of you who know me are reasonably well-aware that I would NEVER send money out for any reason usually, but it was particularly true at that time. I was unable to work, we were surviving off one income, and 4 grand??? HA. But, by the same token if it would get me published...

It was tempting, Gods know it was tempting. It's equally tempting for every newly learning writer to take the easiest road and get published as quickly as possible. (Like that ever happens) And that's how the preditors find their prey--the young, the uneducated, the newbies. The ones who even, Lord help them, may be a little too disabled to make such decisions for themselves. I've been following a certain plagiarism incident which you can find out more about here.

Allow me to state for the record that someone somewhere needs to give Victoria Strauss and her compadres medals for all that they do. But I must admit--I don't get it. How could anyone possibly be that dense after all the help they received from viable and respected sources across the world???? I just don't get it. At any rate, back to the story...

So the moral of this story is, children, RESEARCH. Always research ANY move you make in regards to your intellectual property, even when (as is becoming apparent in this particular case) it's only partially your own. Because you know, hidden out there in the world of cyberpigs there's always someone who wants to take your money. What happened to Celina, you ask? Don't worry about her. She did just fine. Trust me. Just fine.

And some more not-quite-so-nice thoughts about entitlement

Okay. Rant alert.

It takes a hell of a lot to really piss me off. Yeah, I know you don't believe that but it's true. I managed to get pissed off today several times. Why, you ask?

First: if you're on a message forum don't argue with the mods. Jesus Christ -- how stupid can you be. Just DON'T. You don't prove a damn thing except how stupid you are. Why? Because you can't win. This is directly related to a situation that blew up on Absolute Write today and I have to say: it wasn't the mods' fault. None of them. They were in the right. It doesn't take the brains the gods gave a rock to know that bellowing out bullshit about how 'persecuted' you are on a website is just plain dumb. Period. End of story. But the flouncer felt entitled to speak his piece, to his own detriment. He felt entitled to special treatment because of his special position in the universe.

Now don't get me wrong: not all mods are fair. Not all message boards are equal. You all know of the boards of which I speak *wink*. But you know what? My spectacular exit from the board-who-shall-not-be-named was planned. It was an intentional throwing of myself on the proverbial grenade to prove a point--a point, I might add, which came across in spades. I took a gamble, I lost, and I was banned. *shrug* Rightly banned. I deserved it. Hell, I courted it!

And I loved every minute of it.


I didn't scream about how 'persecuted' I was. I didn't whine and moan about how the mods were out to get me. I didn't even flame out with a curse-filled flounce. I made my point, wickedly, and got bounced. Fair enough.

See, I didn't feel entitled to remain. Much the same way that I don't feel entitled to call someone names or dismiss their intellect just because they disagree with me.

Even if they are stupid.

*sigh* It's so damn annoying. I wasn't even involved in this controversy but I got sucked right in because I absolutely cannot stand it when someone just doesn't get the point, doesn't take responsibility for the own actions and suck it up.

Then of course there's work. I'm quickly getting to the point where I hate to walk into the place. Here again, I'm dealing with a sense of entitlement--my boss feels entitled to dictate my schedule even though I've made it clear that I need specific days and a set routine. Saturday night, I told him "My birthday is this week and I need to go home to Tennessee." He says, "No problem."


For pete's sake---was it that hard to remember? But then again, I did get lots of sympathy tips tonight so it made it worthwhile. And a night that I thought would be dead dead dead because the fair is over was actually a fairly good shift.

But wow am I tired.

Here's the way I see it: no one is entitled to anything.

I wonder, how much easier would life be if everyone felt that way? What if, for one glorious day, the human beings on this planet woke up and didn't think about what everyone else owed them...or what they were cheated out of...or how someone was out to get them? What if everyone woke up and thought, "Wow. I'm here because of my own actions. No one else is responsible; it's all on me."

Would that be scary? Exhilarating? Liberating? Would people be able to go through their daily routines without acting like asshats? Is it possible that for twenty-four hours we could manage to scrape through our lives without feeling entitled to something we think we deserve to possess?

No. It's impossible. Unfortunately, human beings as a whole find it much easier to blame someone else for their problems. We think that people owe us. We feel that our peers are required to provide that which we need, simply because we exist.

Existence is NOT entitlement. Get over yourselves and I'll try to get over myself. You don't owe me and I don't owe you. We'll call it even and try to exist without stomping all over toes. Because I have to tell you, I've had enough of this entitlement bullshit.

And if you don't cut it out, I'm going to call my lawyer.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Birthday Reflections

A stream of consciousness ...

Why is it that my mother in law think I like glittery things? Do I sound like the kind of person who appreciates the fashion value of lame'?

Why is it easier to finish a story than to start it?

Why is it that no matter how much you think you're ahead, something always happens to put you behind again?

Carnies. 'Nuff said.

So, in the long run, is it better to be 'published' or is it better to avoid the pressure and just write for fun?

How is it possible that when I offer up my pearls of wisdom on a writer's forum, some people just don't think it's enough? Is it necessary for me to do the work for OTHER people who are too lazy?ineffectual?stupid? to do it for themselves? (and NO this isn't directed at DD)

Just someone explain how it is that I told my boss today was my birthday and he still scheduled me to work.

Presidential politics...bogus or criminally bogus--and WAY too early.

When do parents stop being parents? Will I be 70 before I stop quaking in my boots when my dad calls?

When do kids stop being kids?

I don't wanna grow up, I'm a Toys'R'us kid....with a laptop.

When is a surgery judged a success? Is it somewhere between "You survived it." and "These complications were to be expected."????

The anonymity of the web is great--for plagiarists and shit-stiring trlols.

And no, life isn't fair. Even good people get stomped on by meanies on the path of success.

Wow. They found Blackbeard's ship! Time to go snorkeling.

How long before I can get back to writing?????

Sunday, October 14, 2007


Yeah, that's a little tongue in cheek.

Fair week is finally over! Hurray! And, while I soak my poor mutilated feet in salt water and try to reconcile myself to the fact that my boss scheduled me to work on my birthday so I can't take my annual trip to the mountains, it's time to recap.

First off, here's a shot of the Fairview I took the other day. The older gentleman is one of our bar regulars, who told me quite frankly that in his obituary he wanted a picture of himself drinking at the Fairview. So, I took a picture. You can see the fair going on behind him and the other good-looking fellow is my husband. You can tell he's not a carnie and I shouldn't have to explain why.

Second, for some reason the carnies love me. Many of them have followed the blog over the past couple of weeks and I have to say that as a whole, they are cheerful, funny people with a good sense of humor. I'll actually miss a way. My feet won't.

Third, the weekend was beyond heinous. I personally hope that I never live through such a weekend again. Although I enjoy bartending a lot, I'm no longer quite as enamored of getting my ass kicked as I once was. The money is just not worth it. I have a feeling that this was my last fair week, and as a result I'm looking back on it with a hint of nostalgia but overall a feeling of relief. I'm glad it's over; I'm ready to move on with my life.

Having said that, it's time for one last carnie story. Last night, the carnies drifted into the bar in pairs and trios to say goodbye. Most of them said, "We'll look forward to seeing you next year, Celina." or something along those lines. Several of them simply wanted to order wings. (Which, I might add, I absolutely loathe making so SCREW YOU GUYS--EAT FAIR FOOD!) But, the most interesting farewell came from the carnie czar. I was sitting down watching the end of the Kentucky-LSU game, and he came up to our table. He put one hand on my shoulder, said, "You're really a good person. Quit trying to fool people." Then he gave me a hug, pushed something into my hand, and walked away.

It was a hundred dollar bill.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Attack of the Carnies--Part Three


That's really all I have to say.


Okay, so last night was torturous. The regulars were whooping it up because they had trucks in the truck demolition derby. The Fairview had a truck--a Rolling Rock truck! Gee, wonder why they picked Rolling Rock..

At any rate, they lost.

I don't think that Fair week was quite what my doctor had in mind when he said 'light duty.' By the time we closed last night, I could barely walk. Even now, I'm still lying in bed and have no intention of moving from it for any reason today--save perhaps for a long, hot mineral salted bath.

Apparently the carnies were tired too (or hungover from Monday) because they all left by a quarter of two. We actually managed to get all of our bar work done early. Although the night felt slower, it was characterized by a brutal hit at about 10:30. I mean brutal. I slammed my finger in the cooler door (it's now black--maybe that's not a good thing?) and banged my head on the edge of the bar while stocking beer. Yeah, yeah...go ahead and say it.

So, the story of the night. One of the head carnies (right below the carnie czar) got in trouble with his wife for not coming back to the camper instead of going out drinking. He was on his FIFTEENTH shot of Jager in an HOUR, and his reply was: "I spent sixty bucks for you to get your hair done and it still looks like shit. I have to drink! It's a better waste of my money!"

Yeah. I did a spit-take of fresh-squeezed lemonade that one of the carnies brought me. It spewed all over the bar and I mopped it up and tried to look innocent.

In the end, though, the regulars ran the carnies out. I think I have to give the point to them.


Tuesday, October 09, 2007


Carniwars--(n) The act of baiting or instigating trouble with carnies.

Oh, the stupidity.

You know, despite my tongue-in-cheek contest with the carnies, I actually like them. They come into the bar, spend scads of money on food and drink, tip well, and have a good time. Sure, you get the odd butthole in the bunch, but for the most part they are well-behaved and fun to watch.

Not so the locals. Nope. Now we're seeing the beginnings of the young, dumb element of southern Ohio who show up at the bar looking to cause trouble. I actually had a guy (who's old enough to know better) tell me last night that he was hanging out at the Fairview so he 'could piss off the carnies when they come in.'

Okay, first off: not in my bar, pal. I don't tolerate assholishness when the carnies AREN'T here. I'm certainly not going to tolerate it now. Second off: why bother? What's the point? Is there any logical reason to do such a thing?

Nope. It's just idiocy--and I told him that after I took his beer away and showed him the door.

At any rate, last night was the first night that most of the carnies had money. They spent it too. I was tending bar with josh, the newest bartender, and we ran our asses off. It was a looooooooooooong night and tonight promises to be longer. The truck demolition derby is tonight *rolls eyes* which means that the farmers AND the carnies will be in. Oh yippee. More David Allen Coe. I just can't wait.

The high point of the evening? The carnie who looked at me and said "You can't call me a carnie; I have all my teeth."

Whatever. He's still a carnie, but he's a nice one with good dental hygiene--always a plus.

The low point of the evening? The carnie who tried to start a fight with my husband. Apparently, the husband is some sort of cat because he doesn't have tattoos. Further investigation revealed that he's the same one who said I should be fired. I think that tonight he may find his drinking time limited in the Fairview.

Let's call Monday a draw.

Celina --- 4

Monday, October 08, 2007

And it begins...

Last week was just the beginning. This week is the week of hell. This is fair week---and now everything is ranged against us...the poor bartenders at the Fairview. We start our shifts with locals who've dropped their kids off at the fair. We end our nights with carnies. Somewhere in between are the regulars, who either come in to watch the carnies or stay at home to avoid them. Then there are the 'others' who come in to pick fights with the carnies.

Either way, hell week is here.

I work the night of the demolition derby, the concert, the tractor pull..... you get the picture. I will be tortured with endless repetitions of David Allen Coe and Travis Tritt on the jukebox, while serving bottomless pitchers of Purrburr. Trust me--my mood will deteriorate from this point.


But I'll get lots of great character studies too.

Normally at this time of year, it's 70 degrees in Ohio. Today, it's 92. Normally, at this time of year, I'd be wearing sweaters. Last night, I went and bought summer clothes on clearance so I could be a tad more comfortable behind the bar this week.

But the good news? *grin* The carnies love me. I've already got hookups for fair food. I can't wait! Fresh squeezed lemonade, elephant ears, funnel cakes, deep-fried snickers, italian sausages, corn dogs....

Thank god I'll be working hard enough to work all that off.

And since they love me that much, I guess I'll have to score this in my favor....


Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Carnieczar

Every socio-political entity has a leader. Last night, I discovered that even the carnies have one. The carnie-czar, if you will, establishes himself upon a barstool in the precise center of the bar at 7 p.m. every evening. From there, he sips on double Crown and coke, occasionally switching to Corona, and disperses wisdom to the other carnies when they approach him. After a little discreet questioning, I discovered that the carnie-czar owns five of the game trailers. It is to him that the young carnies come when they're out of money.

I've been watching the carnie-czar all week. I have to say that this isn't the sort of man you'd see in the Wal-mart parking lot and think, "Aha! A carnie!" He's wrapped in some sort of strange dignity, and has avoided all of the huge carnie stereotypes: he has all of his teeth, he dresses well, he doesn't smell of cabbage...

At any rate...

Last night the regulars managed to jockey for some positions in the beer garden. So on one side, sat the regulars and on the other were the carnies. We were inside, playing our Friday night euchre game. Everything was peaceful, until...


The unmistakable sound of a beer bottle flying from the patio to land on the street caused us all to look up. I went out the front door. The beer garden is just to the right of the front door facing Fair Avenue. I immediately found the shattered remains of a purrburr bottle and turned to glare at the group of snickering carnies. And at the moment, the door to the bar opened. Out sailed the carnie czar. He bit off the end of a cigar and spit it precisely into the ash bucket. He nodded at me, and lit his cigar. The carnies fell into silence.

"You have one minute to clean up the glass, tip the bartender ten bucks each, and get back to the trailers," he growled. A ring of smoke rose around his head as he ostentatiously clicked the button on his watch. "Don't forget to clean up after yourselves."

It was less than a minute before the group of carnies were weaving back across the street, grumbling. The carnie czar nodded at me again and said, "Any of them give you any trouble, Celina, you just let me know."

Hmmm....oh, the power...


Friday, October 05, 2007

A Carnie-vore Pit

At last!

After months and months of referring to the 'mythical beer garden' that is the bar's response to the anti-smoking laws in Ohio, we finally have it! Yay! A place to serve alcohol--legally--where people can sit and smoke and drink. Our regulars were all so excited--

--and never got to sit on it.

The carnies immediately took it over. Now think about it: for MONTHS our regulars have whined and moaned and griped because they had to go stand outside (fifteen feet from the door no less) in all kinds of weather just to have a cigarette. And then, today, on the first day of having the mythical beer garden turn into reality, it's inundated with carnies.

I immediately started calling it the Carnie Pit. While the regulars stared glumly out the window, the carnies laughed, drank, and smoked to their hearts' content. Large tractor-trailers drove slowly by the front of the bar, taking the rides loaded on them to the fairgrounds, and honked at the cheerful morass of purrburr-swilling humanity whooping it up in the Carnie Pit. All that the long-awaited beer garden needed was a spittoon to make the picture complete.

Many grumbling plans were laid by the regulars, hoping to determine a way to claim the Carnie Pit for themselves tomorrow. I have a feeling, however, that their plans will be in vain.

So how do I score this? It's really not a loss for me, but it's definitely a carnie win.

Carnies -- 3
Celina -- 2
Regulars -- 0

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Chilly con carnie

So it's hot here. Despicably hot. The forecast calls for high 80s and low 90s for the next couple of days. I am personally not fond of hot weather--and particularly not fond of sweating while at work. So, despite the fact that it is not October, I turned on the air conditioning at the bar. It didn't take long for the bar to cool off.

It also didn't take long for the carnies to cool off. Within ten minutes, all of the carnies in the bar were shivering in the frigid 78 degree air of the bar, whereas I became quite comfortable. Now, the way that I look at it is that since I'm the one working, the temperature should be at a level that I am comfortable with. That's not too much to ask, right?


Apparently, most of the carnies hail from Florida. They LIKE the heat. They do NOT like any temperature under 85 degrees. Oh the bitching!

"Ain't you a little cold, ma'am?"

"No," I replied, restocking yet more purrburr in the cooler.

A few minutes later, a different carnie: "You got an extra coat back there?"

A coat? A COAT? Are you kidding me?

The only carnie that didn't seem to care was this one girl woh at first glance seemed very out of place. She was young and pretty, slender with all of her teeth--in other words, she didn't look like a carnie at all. Once she started trying to talk to me, however, I figured out fairly quickly why she was a carnie. She absolutely could not string two consecutive thoughts together. If we were talking about football, she started talking about her period. When we switched topics to baseball, she butted in with an observation about video games. Eventually, she went outside to smoke and another carnie beckoned me over. This lady was very nice, probably a little older than me, and I really liked her since she and her husband had run up a hundred-dollar bar tab in less than 2 hours.

"That girl's not all there," she confided, snickering.

"Oh, really?"

She laughed. "I hired and fired her last week. The very next day, she came and asked for a job." She killed off her double jack and coke. "She didn't even realize I was the same person. I hired her three times and fired her twice in the space of a week, and as far as she knows she worked for three different people."

"Holy shit." I really couldn't think of anything else to say.

"Yeah," the lady agreed. "I don't think I've ever met anyone stupider than this chick."

Just at the moment, the girl came back to the bar. Her boss took one look at her and commented, "If she ever has a kid, it'll probably have two heads."

The girl's vacant eyes fell on me. She said, "I think I want to wear my pink shorts tomorrow."

From behind, one of the old, toothless carnies yelled, "Do you think it could get any colder in here?"

And the girl said, "Some people eat dogs, you know."

I had to walk away. I hid in the corner and laughed helplessly. Then, I walked straight to the thermostat and turned the temperature down.

Carnies -- 2
Celina -- 2

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


So this blog entry I'm doing from the bar. It is reasonably tranquil--considering. Earlier this evening, however, it was not.

A lot of these carnies come back year after year. Tonight, I ran into one that gave me fits last year. You've heard me talk about zero to sixty drunks--the kind that go from sober to blotto in sixty seconds, right? Well this guy cracks into hyperspace. When he gets drunk, the entire state of Ohio is treated to a sonic boom.

So he's sitting at the bar, twirling an unlit cigarette between his fingers over and over like a baton of frustration. His eyes were narrowed meanly, staring at his Bud Light bottle. I was washing dishes when all of a sudden, he asked, "Are you the owner of this bar?"

"No," I replied.

"You just work here?"


"You should be fired."

At this, I looked up. "Oh really? Why is that?"

"You're not a people person."

I stared at him. Surely he wasn't serious.

"Oh, okay."

"Yeah, you're really a bitch."

Okay, that did it. I leaned over the bar and said confidentially, "Fortunately, I don't require your approval for anything I do."

Maybe I used too many big words. He appeared to be confused. "Whatever."

I went along my merry way, snickering. Less than thirty seconds later, he banged his beer bottle on the bar. "Your attitude really sucks! Who is your boss? I'm going to call him."

"Go ahead," was my tranquil reply.

"It's not like you can stop me."

"True point. But you should probably avoid pissing off the person who controls the beer. You're going to get very thirsty."

He threw out his hands and knocked his beer over. "Oh, so now you're mad at me because I told you like it is!"

"Nope," I replied. "I don't get mad. I don't have to. The beer is mine. You get no beer. Have I made myself clear? Now, have a nice evening. Why don't you run along and pour salt on some slugs you pusillanimous cretin."

A word of wisdom: carnies cannot decipher words like 'pusillanimous' or 'cretin'. Apparently their heads explode. My erstwhile opponent's reaction to my insults was to fall off his barstool while other carnies pointed and laughed.

Carnies -- 1
Celina -- 2

Carniecopia or Attack of the Carnies Part Two

Surprise, surprise, surprise. The bulk of the carnies are already here. Traditionally, business at the bar doesn't pick up until late this week. The fair doesn't start until Sunday, after all, and how long does it really take to set up a caramel corn trailer? So usually, it's only a trickle of carnies until Thursday or so--but not this year. Nope, this year we are blessed with a plethora of un-tardy carnies and they're already taking over the bar.

I didn't have to work yesterday, but a friend of ours was just hired as the new bartender so we decided to go keep him company on a slow Monday night . We figured we could watch football (wow the Bengals suck), have a few beers, and I could give him pointers over the bar as questions came up.

Imagine my surprise to find carnies three deep at the bar.

Not only were they drinking, but they were eating. A lot. Poor Josh was running his ass off cooking for a group of the unwashed masses from the RV camp across the street. I recognized a few of them from previous years. Some of them even remembered my name--or some form of it--and I guess I distracted them from their primary goal for the evening which was (in a nutshell) to get blasted.

There was a carnie lovers' spat at the end of the bar and an intervention in the middle of it. (You haven't seen funny until you see three drunk carnies trying to convince a more sober carnie that he has an alcohol problem.) Budweiser and Crown Royal flowed freely and through it all I sat back in a booth with a bottle of Rolling Rock and laughed. Every once in a while, Josh would glare at me (like when I started chantiong FOOTBALL! FOOTBALL! when he had the tvs on the tiebreaker MLB game) and I would just laugh harder.

But, karma always finds a way to kick you in the teeth. Tonight is my night to work at the bar...and there will be MORE of them. So, I've decided to take a collection of carnie videos over the next week so that I can share them with you.


Carnies - 1
Celina - 1