Monday, April 30, 2012

A Bookpuddle Bloggiversary!

Dear Friends:
It is true that lately I have been a lot less than... bloggerific!
Sort of in a slump as to writing, and even reading, I'll be honest. And even visiting friends in Blogland. I think that the technical difficulties will only be temporary -- and I usually don't like to talk about overly personal things on Bookpuddle -- but seriously, for the past number of months I have been dealing with nearly catastrophic bouts of insomnia.
Too much coffee? Too much late night pizza and hamburger? I don't know!
Some may think that NOT SLEEPING would afford a person MORE time to blog and/or read -- but no -- I find that I am spending an inordinate amount of time trying to get to sleep, and then the next day the relentless pace of work continues on as ever.
It slowly wears one down to a frazzle, chronic insomnia does. In other words, in my wakeful hours, I am less attentive than usual.
At any rate -- it's my Bloggiversary today.
Seven years of blogging. In that time I have posted 2,925 items.
I hope to be blogging for a long while yet, and it has been so nice to meet so many really neat people through Bookpuddle.
Everything good to you all!


Splash du Jour: Monday

Secrets have power. And that power diminishes when they are shared, so they are best kept and kept well. Sharing secrets, real secrets, important ones, with even one other person, will change them. Writing them down is worse, because who can tell how many eyes might see them inscribed on paper, no matter how careful you might be with it. So it's really best to keep your secrets when you have them, for their own good, as well as yours.
-- Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus --

Have a great Monday!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Ladybug on the Titanic: A Trifecta Writing Challenge

This weekend's Trifecta Challenge sounded like a real hoot, so I gave it a go.
Here are the parameters, the "prompt" -- followed by my submission:
This weekend, we return to the 33-word prompt, but this time, a 33-word prompt with a twist. Your task, should you choose to accept, is to take a scene that involves (or affects) at least three people. You should then write this scene from the point of view of three of the characters, using 33 words for each character. So for example, if your story involves a mother, a father and a young boy, you will tell the story first from the point of view of the mother (in 33 words), then the same story from the point of view of the father (in 33 words) and finally, from the point of view of the boy (also in 33 words).

Ladybug on the Titanic

"I shall never forget you, Little Ladybug. May the Lord guide you in your new life." Tears fell silently on the Southampton dock as Mary waved toward the beloved red capped child onboard.

The young girl was confused. Everyone else had been so happy about her leaving for America. She hugged her doll and looked up, feeling the reassuring touch of a hand upon her shoulder.

"Come now, Love. Let us find our cabin." As they turned and walked away, Miss Parsons said to herself, "Mary, nothing on earth shall prevent me from keeping your daughter from harm's way."


Friday, April 27, 2012

Splash du Jour: Friday

When I was crossing the border into Canada, they asked if I had any firearms with me. I said, Well, what do you need?

-- Steven Wright --

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Splash du Jour: Thursday

Making love with a woman and sleeping with a woman are two separate passions, not merely different but opposite. Love does not make itself felt in the desire for copulation (a desire that extends to an infinite number of women) but in the desire for shared sleep (a desire limited to one woman).

-- Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being --

Have a great Thursday!


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

Mothers, I believe, intoxicate us. We idolize them and take them for granted. We hate them and blame them and exalt them more thoroughly than anyone else in our lives. We sift through the evidence of their love, reassure ourselves of their affection and its biological genesis. We can steal and lie and leave and they will love us.
-- Megan Mayhew Bergman, Birds of a Lesser Paradise --

Have a great Wednesday!


Monday, April 23, 2012

Splash du Jour: Monday

But the first lesson reading teaches is how to be alone.
-- Jonathan Franzen, How To Be Alone --

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Goldensocks and the Three Beers

Here is this weekend's prompt from the Trfiecta Writing Challenge:
We want you to give us a re-telling of the classic Goldilocks and the Three Bears story. You can change the setting, the characters, and whatever details you wish, but the story should still be recognizable to us. Keep the spirit of the original work, but make it your own. And for once? You have no word limit.
So here's a little something I came up with while half-hammered on the very subject matter of the story itself:

Goldensocks and The Three Beers

"Dude, you seriously need to consider doing a load of laundry."
"What?" It seemed a Herculean effort for Brian to turn his head and ask that one-word question.
"I mean, what color are your socks, even?"
Warren, slumped in an adjacent bean-bag chair offered his opinion, "They seem… you know that color when people say their eyes are 'hazel' and yet there is no such color?"
"Right, exactly," Jay continued, "Yet there is a golden sheen to them… my God. Gonna call you Goldensocks. Until you splurge for some Tide. Our own James Bond villain…"
"But without the babes," Warren threw in.
Brian flipped the remote in his right hand with the skill of an Olympic baton-twirler, suddenly launching himself from the dilapidated couch, toward the fridge.
"Yo! I may not know shit about hygiene, but there's a few things I do know."

He returned, shielding several drinking glasses and cans of beer in his arms. "Turn around, the both of you."
Warren and Jay did so, not before exchanging troubled glances.
The snap of cans opening and the sound of much pouring. Empties crumpled and tossed.
"OK. Turn toward me."
There before them were three freezer-frosted mugs of beer.
"Give it a go, you dicks. I can tell you ahead of time which beer you will choose as the best of these three."
He leaned back with his hands behind his head, hazel socks on the coffee table.
While they sipped and gulped away at all three mugs, Brian wrote a few words on a sheet of paper and held it to his chest.
Jay said, "The first one's just too skunky. Too much aftertaste."
Warren was wincing, "Agreed. And the third one's a Bud, I just know it. Too watery."
All six eyes on the middle beer, Brian broke the silence by flipping around the paper he held, which read -- The second one. Sapporo.
"Made in Japan, no less. Is that wicked or what?" he bellowed.
"Please tell me you have a few more of those in the ol' icebox?" Jay high-fived him.
"Hey, one more thing," Warren said, as Brian made his way back to the fridge…. "Umm, someone's deodorant is not working around here!"
"Can't be mine," Brian said, "I don't wear any!"

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Trapper Dad: A Saturday Snapshot

I like when people in the Saturday Snapshot loop will post a real vintage picture of their parents or whatnot.
Those old sepia things.
Here is one of my own dad, long before I was ever born.
My dad was a trapper.
Which is to say he trapped innocent animals and then killed them [if they weren't already dead] and then skinned them and sold their pelts for money.
I love him dearly in every respect, except this one!
But here is a shot of him with a string of his sorry varmints... soon to be someone's stole or coat portion. And his faithful dog Rex at attention!
At my father's funeral, someone came forward and described how that even when working in the field, my dad would wear a shirt and tie. He liked to dress well. And for a while my father even designed and sold custom made suits, for men.
Here is a shot of him, overdressed, once again!

Thank you Alyce, for hosting this terrific Saturday Snapshot meme @ At Home With Books.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Splash du Jour: Friday

Sunday, January 27, 1884. -- There was another story in the paper a week or so since. A gentleman had a favourite cat whom he taught to sit at the dinner table where it behaved very well. He was in the habit of putting any scraps he left onto the cat's plate. One day puss did not take his place punctually, but presently appeared with two mice, one of which it placed on its master's plate, the other on its own.
-- Beatrix Potter, Beatrix Potter's Journal --

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Hoping It Works!

It is unusual for me to get a cold, even in the depths of winter. But to get one in mid-April is [I think] unprecedented.
But I sure do have one now. All the same, dutiful boy that I am, I bravely drove off to work this morning but could not endure past lunchtime. I then found myself wandering the aisles of a drugstore in the afternoon, all sniffly and water-eyed, trying to ferret out the best cold remedy meds.

But wow, there are SO MANY KINDS!
I ended up with this Buckley's© stuff and I do hope it works.
I guess I was impressed with the many assuring guarantees on the box!
Fast relief from:
* Mucous and phlegm
* Chest congestion
* Headache
* Aches, pain and fever
* Sinus and nasal congestion
* Soreness and dry throat
* Other snot-related ailments
Yes, I am suffering from all of the above-mentioned symptoms!
This convalescence has at lest allowed me some time to catch up on my tortoise-like passage through a lengthy biography of Victorian-era children's author and illustrator, Beatrix Potter. It's quite a detailed account of a rather fascinating life. Even though I cannot draw worth a fiddler's... fiddle, a recent line or two did have me thinking that Beatrix and I have at least one thing in common:

Predictably, after returning to London, Beatrix fell ill again with a nasty cold. Her illness made her realize that she had to act or the cycle would endlessly repeat itself.
I wish you all a cold-free April! Which is to say, "Don't get too close to me, right now!"

Splash du Jour: Thursday

If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until you can hardly bear to look at it.
A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.
-- Roald Dahl, The Twits --

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

April is the cruelest month, T.S. Eliot wrote, by which I think he meant (among other things) that springtime makes people crazy. We expect too much, the world burgeons with promises it can't keep, all passion is really a setup, and we're doomed to get our hearts broken yet again. I agree, and would further add: Who cares? Every spring I go out there anyway, around the bend, unconditionally. ... Come the end of the dark days, I am more than joyful. I'm nuts.
-- Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle --

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Oh, Wedded Bliss!

I've watched a tonload of those "First Dance" videos on YouTube and there's a lot of really good ones, but his one is just over-the-top awesome. THESE PEOPLE SEEM VERY HAPPY THAT THEY GOT MARRIED THAT DAY! They are incredibly good!
If you are one of the almost 3,000,000 people that have already seen this videoclip, forgive me for inviting you to watch it yet again, but wow, they surely do know how to dance. The wife portion of this duo may have needed some..... adhesive [or not, it's a matter of opinion, and I won't tell you mine...] for the top part of her dress, but other than that -- what perfection of a performance! It is also hilarious to watch the little woman in the red dress, in the background -- I love her conniptions!

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

In this modern world where activity is stressed almost to the point of mania, quietness as a childhood need is too often overlooked.
Yet a child's need for quietness is the same today as it has always been -- it may even be greater -- for quietness is an essential part of all awareness.
In quiet times and sleepy times a child can dwell in thoughts of his own, and in songs and stories of his own.

-- Margaret Wise Brown --

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Splash du Jour: Monday

Old Mr. Prickly Pin

[For Beatrix]

You know that the blue is clashing so.
Tell us all who loaned you those shoes.
Hiding the sides of them now, are you?

Not a bit of it...

Brother, how your heels were clicking.
The jigs reeled, and you swung many a miss.
Whence the reticence now then, Prickly?

Let me catch my breath...

The grandness of it all caught up to you?
Rising above your station you were. Tell us.
Thinking yourself above the species rodent?

Please, lads… [Accepts a drink offered.]

The last one you swung sailed off in a swoon.
By God, the one before fainted straightaway.
I daresay I see sweat on your whiskers.

Hush. Give me some air, you imbeciles.

He grabs a girl as the fiddler strings his bow.
My back paws were sore is all.
The sun rose before Prickly danced them all.

-- © Ciprianowords, Inc. 2012 --

Have a great Monday!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Book Haul: A Saturday Snapshot

Well, this morning I awoke early and went to a Used Book Sale at the ol' Community Hall on Springfield Road. Wow, there was no shortage of people in attendance -- we were crammed in there like mackerel in a barrel.
And no shortage of great book finds!
I nabbed these beauties here -- my total bill?
Less than $30.00, which is insane since that top book alone, the latest from Booker Prize Winner Alan Hollinghurst, is about that much in the store!
I was so thrilled I couldn't even wait to get home to take a picture.
Here they are in all their bookish beauty on the trunk of my car!
Have you read any of these?
[Click for larger image].

Thank you Alyce, for hosting this terrific Saturday Snapshot meme @ At Home With Books.

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Loss Dims The Stars

You know, I was already missing the living presence of Christopher Hitchens, but then an article like this shows up in my latest issue of Free Inquiry. [Which, by the way, is the best magazine in the world. Every article as relevant as the lack of tomorrow's acopalypse.]
And it makes me miss him all the more.
I respect my readers enough to know that you know who Christopher Hitchens is. So I won't go into all of that jazz. But suffice it to say that Mr. Hitchens was a voice that is missed, here in BookpuddleLand.
He was not so much the "revolution" in my thinking, regarding matters of spirituality and religion, but moreso, he was the catalyst whereby the things I knew in the deepest part of me, were solidified, or given a voice of conviction and clarification. Sure resolve.
Often a harsh voice.
But a voice that rang true, even if caustic at times. Always controversial.
Anyone that speaks truth is going to be controversial. Adversarial.
But the bravery of someone like Hitchens -- ahhh, the loss dims the stars.


Splash du Jour: Friday

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Splash du Jour: Thursday

One of the things I tell the writers with whom I work is, man, when you finish a draft of a poem, or short story or novel, you make sure you go out and celebrate all night long because whether the world ever notices or not, whether you get it published or not, you did something most people never do: You started, stuck with, and finished a creative work. And that is a triumph. That is something to celebrate. All the stuff that I'm talking about is really from the point of view of trying to create art—and I don't mean to sound highfalutin when I bring the word "art" in. All I mean is, a work that seeks to illuminate truth in whatever way possible.
-- Andre Dubus III --

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

There is a limit to the amount of misery and disarray you will put up with, for love, just as there is a limit to the amount of mess you can stand around a house. You can't know the limit beforehand, but you will know when you've reached it. I believe this.
-- Alice Munro --

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Witches of Eastwick

I'm a bit amazed to say it, because I generally like Updike, but I feel a bit lackluster about The Witches of Eastwick. It is my fourth foray into his stuff, and so far nothing quite lives up to my initial love of In The Beauty of the Lilies.
In this book [published in 1984] we meet these three Rhode Island witches during the Vietnam era. And they are REAL witches, which is to say they can cast spells to great effect. They can turn a sunny day into a thunderstorm, change a tennis ball into an egg or a flying bat during a serve, and cause innocent animals to keel over and die all the time.
I don't believe at all in the paranormal or even the supernatural -- but let be, I willingly suspended my imagination. The witchcraft itself was not really the problem. What bothered me to the point of distraction was the despicable nature of the characters. These women use their witchy powers for evil, and never for good.
They seem to exist for a very limited number of reasons, namely: a) to have sex with every man in town, b) to avoid responsibility toward their own children, and c) to cause unmitigated mayhem to all citizens of Eastwick, even to the point of murder.
They are extremely horny women that act too much like... extremely horny men.
I hope that in itself is not some kind of sexist comment -- but I could never really believe in their flippant and crass attitude toward sex. Again, I'm not suggesting that flippancy and crassness in these areas is the exclusive domain of men, I guess I'm just saying that Updike seemed to be overstating the point, in my opinion. Too much hyperbole.
When the mysterious [supposedly] wealthy New Yorker, Darryl Van Horne, [a Satan figure] arrives in Eastwick and moves into a legendary old mansion, the Magic Nymphos zero in on him, and compete for his affections. There are elements of humor to the story, but the overall pettiness of these three dames bungle it for me. I was a bit disappointed.
Since I already have the sequel on my shelf [The Widows of Eastwick] I do believe I will one day pick it up and give Updike a chance to redeem himself. But for me, a great book has to have at least one admirable character in it, or something that captivates me and that I can cheer for, or maybe aspire toward. And in this book, there is no one.
In fact, I would hesitate to watch the movie version of this book because Michelle Pfeiffer plays the role of Sukie Rougemont, one of the witchy trio.
And I LIKE Michelle Pfeiffer too much -- see my predicament?


Splash du Jour: Tuesday

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, April 09, 2012

Splash du Jour: Monday

"I could cry." Alexandra said sincerely, he had stirred such memories within her, and such inklings of her future; music lights up with its pulsing lamp the cave of our being.
-- John Updike, The Witches of Eastwick --

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, April 08, 2012

A Severing: A Trifecta Writing Challenge

Here is this weekend's prompt:
For this week's Trifextra, we're switching things up a little bit. The 33-word stories are fun to read, but we wanted to give you a bit more leeway this weekend.The challenge is to write a response that is between 33 and 333 words long and uses the words listed below.
Use the words however you wish, but make sure that all three appear in your response. Oh, and they must appear in order. Good luck!


My response, in 245 words, is entitled A Severing.

"They don't deserve you."
It was not the first time she had said such a thing, but this morning that sentence was a wedge. An echo in his left ear, surrounding him now as Higgs prattled on -- a severing is what it was.
Steepled hands on his brow, Jim listened to his latest proposal being shot down with the same old gun, stray bullets entering previous holes in the clattering roof of his mind.
"Recent projections show the Wellesly account in a collapse unless…"
"I know that Higgs, but not a damn one of my recommendations were followed since our last meeting. Who is in charge of…"
"We're all in charge, Jim -- it's a collective ass we're talking about here!"
But Dominique was right. There are limits to democracy. I climb the tree. I see as clear as falling from it, what is right, and bring it back to everyone else, to a cacophony of inept common denominators. For God's sake!
His fist coming down shocked them, pitchers of water rippling.
The mind is funny. What it remembers.
As he rose from the table Jim saw the bubbles slipping down her back as she spoke those four words. Soap trickling across her It's all good! tattoo.
We have enough to retire with, three times over.
Done with it. Finished with these insects of idiocy.
Jim tore off his tie and shook every shareholder from his lapels, slamming the door to a doomed boardroom.


Click on the Trifectacycle© above. Visit. Read the inventive, diverse submissions.
Submit your own. Writing is fun [or should be].

Friday, April 06, 2012

Lacrima: A Very Unprofessional Wine Review

I had the pleasure of being invited to an incredibly delectable Good Friday FEAST today! My friends T & J [respecting their anonymity] always have the best soirees out at their moonlit country estate!
Anyhoo -- aside from the most tastiest salads and roast chicken and turkey and 'taters and squash and carrot melanges and "Three Nut" pie for dessert [pecans, almonds, and... something else nutty] I was also introduced to a wine that made the merlot I had brought along seem like dishwater, in comparison.
The wine is called Velenosi Lacrima Di Morro.
I am not a connoisseur, by any means. If I was in the movie "Sideways" I would not be the character played by Paul Giamatti, I would be the one played by Thomas Haden Church, who does not have a clue about the difference between pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon -- but finds himself dragged along on the wine tour by his oenophile friend, Miles. [Giamatti].
I'm generally more of a…… "beer" type guy. And I generally dislike hard liquor of all kinds, except maybe vodka now and then. But when it comes to wine, I've been known to… imbibe. But on a very amateur, somewhat "Mateus" level.
This wine, this Lacrima stuff, hailing from a very precise part of Italy -- really, you've just got to uncork a bottle and put your schnoz up to it's throat, and you will be in love. A review I have found online describes it perfectly:
The wine’s particularly floral bouquet often recalls scents of lavender, roses and violets and its flavors are reminiscent of blueberry pie – cooked blueberries with a hint of cinnamon spice.
Smooth and elegant -- again, I have not the words.
It was heavenly stuff. And probably the only unreserved wine endorsement you will ever find here on Bookpuddle!


Thursday, April 05, 2012

Splash du Jour: Thursday

When something is bothering me, I seek refuge. No need to travel far; a trip to the realm of literary memory will suffice. For where can one find more noble distraction, more entertaining company, more delightful enchantment than in literature?
-- Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog --

Have a great Thursday!

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Splash du Jour: Wednesday

There are some things, after all, that Sally Owens knows for certain: Always throw spilled salt over your left shoulder. Keep rosemary by your garden gate. Add pepper to your mashed potatoes. Plant roses and lavender, for luck. Fall in love whenever you can.
-- Alice Hoffman, Practical Magic --

Have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Splash du Jour: Tuesday

And that's why books are never going to die. It's impossible. It's the only time we really go into the mind of a stranger, and we find our common humanity doing this. So the book doesn't only belong to the writer, it belongs to the reader as well, and then together you make it what it is.
-- Paul Auster --

Have a great Tuesday!

Monday, April 02, 2012

Splash du Jour: Monday

God grant me the serenity to accept that I can't read all the books.
The courage to read the ones I can.
And the wisdom to quit buying more.
-- Cipriano --

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Aftermath: A Trifecta Writing Challenge

This weekend the parameters of the Trifecta Writing Challenge are as follows:
"Write a horror story in 33 words, without the words blood, scream, died, death, knife, gun, or kill. Good luck."

I've written a piece that is a bit out of the box. I think of it as subtle, I guess. Understated, or a trifle ambiguous. No chainsaws, hacksaws or gore, and of course, no blood or screaming. Yet, [and maybe worse] the kind of horror that can grin, from across the room…


After their fight, she watched him sipping beer while the television blared on.
If you only knew what I put in that!
But he was smiling, as she reached for yet another chocolate.


This weekend's challenge is decided by the Editors -- in other words, there is no voting to do. Click on the image of the Trifectasaurus Rex, above -- and visit.
Read the excellent submissions there, and [better yet] submit one of your own!
-- Cheers!