Sunday, July 30, 2006

Human Nature

What a misnomer. Human nature. Do those words really belong together in a phrase? Somehow I don't think so. Over the course of this weekend, I've been subjected to some strange examples of human nature. Somehow, most of them don't seem either human or natural.

Example #1: In the small, southeastern Ohio town where I live, a man was arrested for running a puppy mill. In a tiny two bedroom house, that he no longer occupied, the Animal Protection officers and police confiscated 51 puppies, 12 breeding dogs, 21 cats and a skunk. I will not describe the condition of the house; suffice it to say that the house is now condemned. As are the animals freed from that hellhole. They are too unwell and malnourished to be saved. Human? Not hardly. Natural? Anything but.

Example # 2: Last night a group of young adults (yes, I backspaced over the word 'kids') came into the bar. They were with a University Habitat for Humanity group and were in the area building a home for a family displaced by fire. That cheered me up --- until....they began to discuss, in loud, condescending tones the shortcomings of the people they were helping -- how fat, ugly, smelly, et cetera the family was. Okay, so they weren't perfect little sorority and fraternity members like the kids who helped them, but what kind of help was it? Turns out, the HFH group is having a contest between the frats to see who can provide the most assistance over the course of the year. They weren't helping from any developed social conscience, but so that their fraternity would win.

Example # 3: Late in the evening, a wedding party showed up: bride, groom, groomsmen and bridesmaids all still in their wedding finery. I must admit; that took me aback for a minute. What newlyweds would want to be in a bar at 2 a.m. on their wedding night? At any rate, since they pulled up in a limo I had no qualms about serving them. Somehow, in the course of 30 minutes, the newly-married couple got into an argument. It ended at 2:36 in front of the now-locked bar, with the bride riding away sobbing in the limo and the groom screaming obscenities after the car as it went down the street. I have high hopes for that wedding, gotta tell you.

Today is one of the slow, painful days. Everything hurts physically; my kindness to my employer has gotten the better of me. I've worked too much this weekend, working shifts that I originally said I would not do. it's one of those days when I lie around the house and think about things. Today, however, that physical reaction to a hard week was superseded by an intellectual one. I got a phone call from a friend this morning who was in the bar last night, and he dismissed the HFH incident and the bridal party incident as "human nature." What in the hell is so human about that? Doesn't that dismissal, in and of itself, indicate that we, as humans, believe that "human nature" allows us to be cruel? Permits us to be insensitive? Encourages us to satisfy our own impulses without thought for the consequence that has upon others?

Look at all the atrocities in our world today. Think about the lives lost, the futures wrecked, the suffering caused by the concept of "human nature." I suppose, if you want to get technical about it, humans are carnivorous beings. We are predators, designed to be hugely successful at it because of a posable thumb and the capacity to problem solve. Perhaps cruelty is human nature if you think about it that way.

It's very easy to judge, isn't it?

Of the 85 animals rescued from that miserable, unair-conditioned hovel, only 9 will be alive tomorrow. I'm going to the animal shelter to put my bid in to take one of them home. That's my response to "human nature." I'm not even going to be picky about what animal I take. I'll end up with the one least likely to be adopted, the smallest, the sickest, the most dejected, the ugliest. I'll bring it home and introduce it to my pets, take it to the vet, give it food and water in a currently messy but inherently clean house and teach the poor thing that not all humans are like the one who tortured it. Some humans don't have "human nature" as a crutch.

And in the end, that might just be a good thing.

Friday, July 28, 2006

The Ramifications of the Do Not Call List

English is a complicated language. I know it. You know it. Everyone apparently knows it save for telemarketers.

Recently I switched away from satelite providing all my services (phone, internet, cable) and returned to a land line phone based system. The reasons? A: I'm really damn tired of my cable bill going up every two months when it's already ridiculous. B: I like to work when it's raining. and C: Because the local provider REALLY pissed me off. As soon as I got the new phone number, I placed it on the national Do Not Call reegistry.

I get enough phone calls from the people I owe money to. There's no need for someone to call me to get me to spend more money.

At any rate, this morning the phone rings at 8:15 a.m. Being a preternaturally light sleeper, of course it woke me up. Since I tended bar last night, I'm thinking it's GOT to be an emergency of some sort. No one in their right mind who knows me would call me before noon the day after a closing shift.

"Good morning, I'm ****** from AOL. I'm calling to -"
"I don't care." Celina is in her full-blown rude state despite being groggy. "Not only it is freaking 8 am, but I work as a bartender AND I'm on the Do Not Call Registry."
"Oh. I'm sorry. Let me double check that against my records."
"Dude, double check away. Write on your little list that regardless of what great deal AOL wants to offer me, I'll drop them as my internet provider if they EVER call this number again."


(this would be the spot for the purple smiley guy insertion, Dragon's Den folk)

Yesterday morning, it was this:

"This is an automated message for Edward P. *****. If this is the correct number, please push one. If this person is not available, please push two. If this person is no longer at this number, please press three -"

It was the THIRD time for that phone bot in a week. The first two times, number three was pressed. Time number three, I waited for the HUMAN number to return the call. That was ugly.

Monday morning much the same, only then it was roofing. Satruday night at dinner time, we got the infamous outsourced replacement windows telemarketer.

Okay. Elementary English time. "Do Not Call". Let me break it down for you.

Function: verbInflected Forms: did; done; do·ing; doestransitive verb 1 : PERFORM, EXECUTE2 : COMMIT verbal auxiliary —used with the infinitive without to to form present and past tenses in legal and parliamentary language —do business : to be engaged in business activities (as soliciting sales); specifically : to engage in activities sufficient to subject a foreign company to the personal jurisdiction of a state —see also DOING BUSINESS STATUTE

In no way; to no degree. Used to express negation, denial, refusal, or prohibition: I will not go. You may not have any.

call ( P ) (kôl)v. called, call·ing, calls v. tr.
To say in a loud voice; announce: called my name from across the street; calling out numbers.
To demand or ask for the presence of: called the children to dinner; call the police.
To demand or ask for a meeting of; convene or convoke: call the legislature into session.
To order or request to undertake a particular activity or work; summon: She was called for jury duty. He was called to the priesthood.
To give the command for; order: call a work stoppage.
To communicate or try to communicate with by telephone: called me at nine.
To dial (a telephone number): call 911 for help.
To lure (prey) by imitating the characteristic cry of an animal: call ducks.
To cause to come to the mind or to attention: a story that calls to mind an incident in my youth.
To name: What will you call the baby?
To consider or regard as being of a particular type or kind; characterize: Let's call the game a draw. I'd hardly call him a good manager.
To designate; label: Nobody calls me a liar.
To demand payment of: call a loan.
To require the presentation of (a bond) for redemption before maturity.
To force the sale of (a stock or commodity) by exercising a call option.
To stop or postpone (a game) because of bad weather, darkness, or other adverse conditions.
To declare in the capacity of an umpire or referee: call a runner out; call a penalty for holding.
To indicate a decision in regard to: calling balls and strikes; called a close play at home plate.
To give the orders or signals for: a quarterback who called a poor play.

You know, it took me all of 30 seconds to get those definitions from -- HOW FREAKING HARD IS IT FOR THE COMPANIES OUT THERE TO FIGURE IT OUT? What good is a Do Not call registry that doesn't work? On top of that, if I'm working online and a telemarketer calls, causing me to lose whatever I was working ON I tend to get a little annoyed.

Of course, there's no one to blame but myself. After all, telemarketers couldn't get me on satelite....could they? Well, they COULD technically, but only if the sun was shining.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Bleary-eyed and coffee driven

Wow. yesterday was a long day.

I'm looking at my *to do* list and trying not to get discouraged. Although I did manage to finish the anthology story yesterday, I'm at a loss as to what to accomplish today.

I know I have to work on the website. *looks glum* God I hate that.

I also got my cover art for Goddess' Revenge last night! Woohoo! Wanna see? I like it. Okay, okay, I LOVE it, but that's just the ego-driven part of me. Wonder if I can print off a good copy and frame it?

Of course, I do have to concentrate on edits from the proofers at some point today. Maybe that'll be what I should do next.

After I get back from the vet....darn cat.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Update number Two

Whew! Finished the anthology story, clocking in with a final word count of 13,589. Damn. There's still a lot of tweaking to do to it, but I'm reasonably pleased with it. It comes to a natural conclusion for this anthology, doesn't screw up the world, and is a fairly good leaping-off point for future projects.

Now, back to the website.

Update Number One

Managed to rebound on the anthology story. I'm now sitting at 11k again and steamrolling.

Tried to work on my website. Just saw Sierra's revamped version and it made me jealous. Mine still looks like crap.

And, par for the course, I realized when I saw my author bio on the Changeling website today that I'd actually posted the wrong damn name. You have to be pretty stupid to do that.

(Guess who wins Idiot of the Day honors?)

Aside from that, I did manage to get dinner in the oven. Now I'll be able to eat a hot meal while still plugging away on Mneston.

If Life Is Like A Box of Chocolates...

....then why in the hell do I always end up with licorice?

I think my brain has finally, officially fried. This morning, in an effort to be "productive", I made out a 'to do' list for the week. Within ten minutes, the whole damn thing was nullified. Let me give you a sample:

*Celina's To Do List*

1. Finish anthology story. (I then promptly scrapped another 6k from it and started all over. Glutton for punishment)

2. Work on website. (I then realized that I now need TWO websites--one for me, one for the porn hack)

3. Finish edits. (Still waiting....)

4. Clean house. (what? this cesspool that is nothing but a huge cat toy? Ha! As if....)

5. Get Darkshifters finished. (looks around for muse, kicks her in the rear, and watches her scurry away to the closet)

6. Get all critiques done. (yeah, like I'm going to be able to do that before I finish my own anthology story. Why is the word count going BACKWARDS on it anyway?)

7. Create promotional plan for GR. (uh, do I spell that again? p - r - o - m -...)

8. Get football plans set at bar. (wait a second....I have to work too?)

9. Impy to vet. (fucking many felines do you know that get allergy shots because they're allergic to cats?)

10. Dentist appointment on Thursday. (great. another 300 bucks so he can hurt me. geesch.)

11. Get landscaper to --

*phone rings*

Celina: Hello?
Dana: hey! What are you doing?
Celina: Don't even think about it, Dana.
Dana: What?
Celina: I'm too busy. Whatever you're going to ask me, I'm too busy to do it.
Dana: What makes you think I'm going to ask you to do something?
Celina: You always ask me to do something.
Dana: *laughs uncomfortably*
--long pause--
Celina: Well?
Dana: Well what?
Celina: *sighs* What do you want?
Dana: Well, you know that the festival is this week.....
Celina: NO. Absolutely not.
Dana: You don't even know what I'm going to ask!
Celina: I am NOT working extra shifts this week. I have too many deadlines.
Dana: But I fired a bartender...
Celina: I don't give a rat's patootey. Tend bar yourself.


11. Get landscaper to --

*phone rings*

Celina: Leave me alone, Dana! Goddamnit, I said NO.
Attorney: Uh, Celina ...
Celina: Whoops! Sorry, Andy!

*fifteen minutes later*

11. Get landscaper to --

*phone rings*

*....and rings.....*

*....and rings....*

Get the picture? I forgot what I wanted the landscaper FOR. I think it's something to do with the green stuff that is knee-high in my front yard.

12. Get new erotica book finished and off to Vikky...

It was at this point that I collapsed in helpless laughter. Suuuuuuure, I'll be able to get all of this done, right? If nothing else, I'll chronicle my list of failures in this blog this week. let's see where ambition and reality actually meet.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Just Another Day In The Life ...

This has been a strange week.

I got the rewrites for Goddess' Revenge finally, and did them in about an hour. Interestingly enough, they were actually on the light side. I don't know whether to be happy or scared about that. Also, I managed to eliminate all of the gynecological terms I have a personal problem with. That was way cool.

Now, I intend to crank out the rest of the anthology story today. My goal is to keep Mneston at about 12K. Somehow, I doubt that will happen, but we'll see.

Last night, while I was at work, an old friend came into the bar unexpectedly. He's enlisted in the Army, where he was tops in his basic class and airborne class and ships off to Germany on Sunday. It was great to see him, but it was a moment tinged with a bit of sadness too. We never mentioned it, but we both know that Germany is the staging area for quick mobilization troops. It was sad, and sweet, and ultimately a reality check.

I think I might put my political science degree into some use in the near future. It's becoming increasingly difficult to watch the news -- I read too much into it. And now, even after the Israeli army SHOT at a FOX news reporter who gave away their tank positions (don't blame them) there's some stupid yabbo who's walking next to the Israeli forces massing on the Lebanese border. Hello???? Are you TOTALLY stupid?


In other news, it's only 43 days until Tennessee's season opener. Hurray! College football is on the horizon! Early pre-season game pick? As much as I hate to say it, Ohio State will beat Texas in Longhorn Stadium. Yup. You heard it here first. Take OSU and the points.

Oh, and Notre Dame is overrated. Brady Quinn is a good quarterback, but there are holes in the defense that the Israeli army could drive a tank through and never see a nosy reporter from FOX news.

Bad kitten. Don't chew on mommy's ankles while she's trying to be clever.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

But, the Messiah has Whiskers

Naturally, after my last feline rant I find myself in the position where I have to take the reverse point of view.

Damn that collegiate debate program. Granted, it did pay for most of my college education, but now I am fundamentally incapable of sticking to one point of view.

The kitten (whose name is Asphodel) is now my hero. All the bad things aside, she is pretty damned cute. Adorable, really. She's learned to beg for milk, which is quite humorous particularly since everytime the refrigerator is opened she associates it with food. She flies around the corner into the kitchen, her tail curled like a shepherd's crook, and when she gives that pitiful little 'meow' I can't help but give her milk.

Then, when it's nap time there are only two places she likes: the top of the monitor or my lap. That's irresistible.

Then, when I go to bed, she knows it's bedtime. God love a kitten that knows when to go to sleep.

But, most importantly, a story that Asphodel inspired (she was chewing on my ankles, as I recollect) was sold today to Jupiter World Press.


In the name of the Kitten, the Cat Toy, and the holy LIttle Friskies.


Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Antichrist Has Fur

Okay, I have offically decided: the kitten is really the Antichrist. The mark of the beast? Calico striping. The number of the beast? The 666 times that the kitten has begged for milk, misbehaved, broken something, chewed on a cord, decided to help my writing by walking randomly across the keyboard while I'm getting a glass of milk, attacked the bigger cats, got stuck in the kitchen cabinet, decided that keeping my car keys from me was a fabulous joke, or climbed the vacuum cleaner bag and yelled at me.

All this is today.

At the moment, she's sitting almost directly in front of the monitor swatting at the amazing line of little black things that just keeps growing and growing....

No, kitten. Bad kitten. Do not jump at the monitor. It hurts when you hit your head on glass.

Why fear the Antichrist when it's six inches long, fuzzy, and has an annoying habit of purring at you when you extricate it from someplace it shouldn't be? For some reason, generations of the faithful have dreaded the advent of the Antichrist. Little did they know that a bowl of kitten milk and a can of Little Friskies would decide the fate of their souls.

No, kitten. Bad kitten! Do not sharpen your claws on books!

I think the favorite of the day, however, has to be the 'trapped under the bed' moment. My bed has one of those storage units under it, with drawers and doors that lead into the fascinating cave known as 'Celina's junk pile.' This morning, the kitten (while I was asleep) learned how to open the door and crawl inside, where she somehow shut the door. After her exploration was completed (and she got hungry), she realized she was trapped.

Trust me: only the emissary of Satan could make such a noise at 6:15 a.m.

Speaking of which, her grandmother is sitting across the room glaring at me. Her name? Satan.

Go figure.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Shoot the Muse

Why is it that my muse and I are never on the same page?


As of late, whenever I set aside time to work on a specific project, I find myself compelled to write about something completely different. For example, I am trying very hard to get Coils completed. I'm almost desperate to whip the plot into shape for the last half of the book (mostly so I can find out what happens); I've worked and reworked the story line for three months but so far it hasn't become what I want for it to be. So, having some involuntary time off from work this week, I set aside five hours a day to work on it and try to get the damn thing done.

The result? Well, I finished my new erotica novella The Stone Table, wrote a new short story, and have developed the Dragon's Den anthology story beyond my original expectations. How many words have I written on Coils?

Two sentences. Twenty seven words --and that's counting articles.

Even my old stand-by, music, hasn't helped. I develop playlists for each project I'm working on. I use specific music to work on specific projects--kind of like a jumpstart, if you will. Now, all of a sudden, my project-specific playlists are interchangeable. Hmmph! I'm writing erotica to "Star Wars" battle music, and I'm NOT happy about it.

As soon as I figure out a solution, I'll let you guys know.

Saturday, July 08, 2006


Y'know itsh vewwy hawd to bwog when yer dwunk. Speling goes away. So doesh coeherintsy. For that matter, I'm not shur I had a bwan at th momen. For shome reashon, my fwendsh *not sharcashm* thought I desirved shampain lasht night.


(whew! this is hard to do when you're hung over!)

Drunken lingo aside, needless to say today I feel like (an) ass. It's not that I can't hold my licquor, it's just that two bottles of Moet Chandon champagne is too much even for one of my vaunted alcholic professionalism. it's not that I have a hangover, really--more like a 24 hour period of brain farting. *sigh* What fun.

And, of course, tonight I get to g0 into work and listen to everyone tell me how much fun I had.

Cretins. I think tonight it's time to break out my old-standby punishment shot: a German Taco. This is usually the drink I give to people who think I *owe* them a shot because it's their birthday--whether I've ever seen them before or not. The recipe is quite simple: Float 1/2 oz of cold Jagermeister over 1/2 ox of warm Cuervo. So far, I've only ever met one person who liked the damn drink and he was weird. Pretty much everyone else hurls.


Bet you this is the last time that they ignore me when I say "No, thank you, I don't want any more."

I should be ashamed. *grin*

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Um.....You're Kidding, Right?

Believe it or not, I actually got more than five hours of sleep last night.

It was completely unintentional; I intended to get up at 7 as I always do, but for some reason my body demanded more shut-eye. How long has it been since I slept until noon? Probably ten years, if not more. Post-back-surgery-days don't count.

At any rate, I finally drag my lazy ass out of bed and discover that the cats, taking advantage of my unusual inattention, have decided to destroy the house. After cleaning up shards of broken glass, replacing paperbacks in the bookshelf, finding a very unpleasant surprise in the middle of my rug, and returning various food boxes to the cabinets that only Muggle can open, I relented and fed the little bastards.

Seems that they want their breakfast on time.

The kitten, of course, got fed first. She still gets her kitten milk a couple of times a day. So far she has not graduated to num-nums (celinaese for canned food), but the other vagrants lined up, as usual for their daily tablespoon treat.

Then the phone rang.


"I have an important message about personal business for Celina..."

Slam! I'm not listening to a business bot when I cleaned up a hairball before my first cup of coffee.

I went outside to water my flowers. I think I'm going to switch to cacti as my plant of choice; I forgot to water the flowers the last couple of days, thinking *Gee, on the third we had an inch and a half of rain in a half-hour. They'll be all right.*

Apparently not.

Wilting countermanded, it's time to check my email. Despite the innumerable "You have won!" and horoscope emails (apparently this is a lucky day for Libras), some yabbo made me an offer for a piece of goofus glass on my antiques website. I priced it at $100, since it has a book value of 130. He offered me 40.

Forty dollars???? He offered me one-third of the value of the piece? For goofus glass? For those of you who don't know, goofus glass is very rare. They call it goofus glass because the paint treatment comes off in water. You can't wash the crap without losing paint. Since these pieces were made primarily in th 1920s and 30s, needless to say, it's almost impossible to come by.

Resisting the inevitable scathing, "Are you on crack, aasshole?" email, I replied that 40 dollars was unacceptable.

Then I looked at my calendar. Today is July 6th. Goddess' Revenge comes out on August 18th. *frowns and rechecks email.* Nope. No rewrites back yet. My editor must still be on vacation. I did have a request for an interview *gasp!* with another erotica site, however, and that brightened things up.

Now I'm listening to Mozart and deliberating my work choices for the afternoon. I have a feeling, however, that my Dragon's Den story is going to win. I like the way it's going, for one thing, and for another there's something delightfully evil about getting the last story done first, posting in the story threads that *My story is finished, will you guys PLEASE hurry up???* and then chuckling through the whole rest of the month.

Okay. Obviously I'm awake now and back to my normal self. Time to go write.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


I've been thinking a lot about writer techniques lately.

You know, writing is not an easy craft. There are definite rules and regulations involved, particularly if publishing is a writer's goal. The English language is inherently a pain in the ass, because there are so many rules with so many exceptions. It's very easy to get sloppy.

I try -- note the word try -- to write even my first drafts in as grammatically correct a mode as possible. Then, my writing critique group gets it and rips it to shreds, which is good. I listen to them. I trust their opinions and expertise. For the most part, my storylines seem to be okay. It's the damn commas and adverbs that kick my ass.


So now, when I review, I turn into a fiend on that. *sigh* Absolutely retarded.

Last week, my story about a cross-dressing dwarf was accepted for publication by Jupiter World Press. I was pretty excited about it--still am, actually. "Free Willy" has been a mantra for the Dragon's Den critiquers, mostly because I think Willy is so damn funny. It doesn't take a lot to amuse myself, apparently. So, high off this unexpected and entirely ridiculous ego boost, I've jumped straight into the anthology pool in our forum. We have a month to write our stories, mine is the last one, and it's already running at 16k.


Holy shit.

Then I went back and checked out my adverbs.

Make that 15k.

Since I'm already about 5k over limit, I think I may be in trouble. So, in the interests of preserving the sanity of my peers (who will, after all, have to critique the damn thing), I got up this morning and deleted it. I'm starting over from scratch. Hopefully, that will work.

(see? only one adverb in that last paragraph. I'm learning.)