Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Brrrrr

      We got freezing rain. We got sleet. We got snow. We got windchill in the single digits and below. They're predicting three to six inches of snow in my area. It's a winter wonderland here ... not.
      Have I mentioned that I hate cold weather? I'm sure I have, but it bears repeating: I hate cold weather. Hate it, hate it, hate it.
      I'm ready for spring. I'm ready for it now. Sigh.
      I'm going to go to bed now and huddle under several blankets. Wake me when it's warm. Good night.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Tired

      I think my muse is injured. I wrote extensively the past week, and now I can barely bear to post. I feel a bit of revulsion when I sit down at the computer. I think I overloaded my creativity engine or something. Or maybe my butt is simply tired of sitting.
      Which is bad because I have several projects that need my attention. In particular, the Tales from Bethlehem story for the Christmas cards I send out. For the past several years, I've written a story about the Nativity. Well, actually about people who could have have been at the Nativity or the minor characters. Like the stableboy and the serving maid at the inn. Last year, I told the story of the wise men's camels. This year, it's going to be the story of the star. I think. Or perhaps a shepherd's story. Don't know. My brain seems to be stalled, but I suspect it's working back there. I keep getting fleeting ideas, but nothing concrete yet. Well, it will eventually work out. Or my brain will explode, one of the two.
      I also need to be working on the family newsletter. Well, newsletters. I'm running behind as you know. And I'd like to be working on one of the novels I have started. Probably Darkness, Oklahoma since it's the one I’m most interested in at present. It’s early to be talking of New Year Goals, but one of mine will be to finish Darkness, Oklahoma and Dragons Gather. I'd also like to finish the play Figments. I have a host of other things that I'm planning, but we'll talk about that in January.
      Anyway, that's what I should be doing tonight. Instead I think I will watch TV. Oh well. Have a great day tomorrow. Night!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Winner!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

NaNoWriMo and Christmas

      I should finish my NaNoWriMo novel Tin Man Dark tomorrow. I'm very close. Just a little over 1000 words, and I'll be done. I don't seem to feel accomplished, just relieved. It's been a frantic, stressful month, and I'll be glad to have it over. I'm all written out today or I'll try to end the book now.
      I've done nothing except write today. Not much to tell you. Yesterday my friend Randall dropped by on his way back to Texas. We bummed around town a bit and ate at a local restaurant before he headed on to the Lone Star State, also known as the Gulf of Oklahoma.
      My Oklahoma State Cowboys went down in defeat to the University of Oklahoma Sooners this afternoon, but the Cowboys made them sweat right down to the final seconds of the game. The only bright spot is that the Sooners will now play for the Big 12 Championship. At least it's an Oklahoma team.
      I feel overwhelmed by my list of things that need to be done. The holidays always seem to come like a steamroller. I just have to keep reminding myself that some things are important and others are just nice. Do the important things. Do the nice things if you get time.
      I'm already had an idiot at my job trot out that tired and intellectually and spiritually bankrupt theme of: "I hate Christmas; it's so commercial." I used to try to explain that it's only commercial if you make it so. That you can volunteer at a thousand organizations that need help during the holidays, like soup kitchens, the Salvation Army, the Red Cross, Meals on Wheels, etc. That you can carol at the nursing homes or go and visit shut-ins. I used to think I could explain. But now I realize those complainers lack the capacity for compassion; they don't volunteer at any other times, either. I don't waste my time with explanations now. But neither will I listen to their gripes about Christmas. If they really wanted to change things, they could. They don't. They just want to stew in their tiny, self-centered world. Here's the deal: I won't bother them about Christmas if they won't bother me.
      I like Christmas. Not because I always get what want. Not because I'm surrounded by friends and family. Not because I don't get depressed or sad as the cold nights deepen. Not because it answers my dreams or grants my wishes. Not because I wander around unaware of the world's problems and sorrows. I'm not blind. I face Christmas with my eyes wide open. But I like it anyway.
      I like the manger -- however inaccurate historically it may be. I like the wise men -- whether there were three or thirty. I like that birth in Bethlehem. I like the glorious hosts and the shepherds. I like the young couple cherishing their first child, filled with that terror that grips every parent. I like the joy at that beginning before the sorrow that would follow years later.
       I don't expect Christmas to solve my problems. I don't expect it to redeem my year. I don't expect it to be anything except what it was meant to be. And so on a cold December night, I will stop and close my eyes at a Midnight Mass and I invite in that overwhelming mystery, that awe, that brief glory that deigned to touch the earth two thousand years ago.
      Good night all.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

      I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving filled with family and food. I spent the day writing furiously on Tin Man Dark. I was trying to write 5,000 words. I was unable to do so. I've reached a little over 4,000 today, and I'm all out. But I still think I can finish this weekend.
      Otherwise, not much to tell you. So I'll just tap on out of here. Have a good evening and take care until we're together again.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thanksgiving Eve

      I will be alone this Thanksgiving. My back injury doesn't allow me to drive the distance to my sister's, and although I've had a couple of invitations to join friends for the day, I won't.
      Yes, it's depressing to be alone on a holiday, but it's worse to be a third-wheel. Besides, I think I handle being alone fairly well. I'll sleep late, watch the Macy Thanksgiving Parade, write on my NaNoWriMo novel, work on my family newsletter, pull the patron tickets for the next community theater play and print the patron letter to accompany them, do housework, putter around on the computer, watch the Thanksgiving Bond-a-thon on TV, work on my Christmas cards, and generally have a quiet day.
      I told a friend of mine about my plans and she thought they were sad and tried to talk me into joining her family. I said I would think about it so she'd drop the subject, but I won't go. This is not a bad life that I've made for myself. Yeah, I wish it was filled with a wife and lots of children, but we don't always get what we want out of life. Accepting that might be a sign of maturity. I'd like to think so.
      So enough about that. Let's talk of other things.
      Tin Man Dark is about done. I should finish it this weekend, I hope. (And thus maybe even passing Jean and G.Smith for once!) Once I stopped even attempting to produce quality, the quantity took care of itself! The editing and rewriting on it will be quite a job. But before I tackle that, I'm going to finish Darkness, Oklahoma and Dragons Gather. Both are good books, and I need to finish them. I want their stories out of my head.
      I haven't enjoyed NaNo as much this year as I did last year. What with the play, having to start late and catch up, and generally being unprepared, it's been very stressful. I still think it's a good thing and appreciate the drive to put words on paper, but next year, I will plan the book beforehand instead of just winging it.
      When the old computer died, I lost a lot of addresses for my Christmas cards. I need to gather them again. Don't be surprised by an email asking for your address. And if you want a card from me, email your address to me. Just remember the catch: you have to mail one to me, too!
      Why hasn't Amazon.com got any of the Hal Spacejock books for sale yet? That's quite annoying. I'd like to read the second one. I'm buying most of my Christmas list from Amazon.com, and the very least they could do is accommodate me.
      This year, there isn't a new Holly Lisle book on my list. She doesn't have a new fantasy or science fiction book out this Christmas. That's depressing. Holly is an interesting, intelligent and slyly funny author. I don't know why more people are snatching her books up. If you haven't tried her out, you should. You can buy several of her books on Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble. I really, really, really like the World Gates trilogy. The Science Fiction Book Club should sell it in omnibus edition. I think I will write to them and suggest that.
      Amanda Tapping, AKA Samantha Carter of Stargate: SG1, will be joining the fourth season of Stargate: Atlantis. That's good news. Carter is one of my favorite SG1 characters. I hope she becomes a regular cast member of Atlantis. SG1 -- cancelled by the stupid and short-sighted executives at NBC (NBC owns the SciFi Channel) -- will be starring in a couple of movies for direct-to-DVD. More about that when I know more about it.
      My niece and nephew emailed their Christmas list to me a couple of days ago. They're both so smart. They even had smilies in it. Computers are truly changing the next generation.
      Have you noticed this post is getting rather long? Let's have refreshment break.
      Are you back yet? No hurry. Just let me know.
      Okay, we'll go on.
      I always wonder when I write long posts if people actually read the whole things. Perhaps I will start embedding hidden clues in the post worth money. Except not money because I'm broke. What about waste paper? I have lots of that.
      I was disappointed that no one -- as far as I know -- attempted to solve the puzzle of the witch's cottage. Here's the puzzle again: QATOI HQMTC HTRHI YUKRH TOATR TIQEU SENIC EERMB METNE SQETH TLQ. I thought at least one of the Defenders would try. I think I will use this type of code in the next adventure so that they have to try to solve it. I'm mean like that.
      My cable connection has really slowed down. Apparently all the kids out of school are flooding the pipeline. They need to stop and go outside and play! Or do something active. That way, my browsing isn't affected.
      By the way, one of the hardest props for me to find for my play was a crystal ball. Strangely enough, people just don't seem to keep them around the house. I found some on the Net, but they were too expensive for the play's budget. Just remember that if you ever see one in a garage sale. Buy it!
      Well, it's getting late. I'm tired. So I'm going to call it a night. Have a great day tomorrow!
      Night.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Quiet

I have nothing to say. Good night.

Fleeting

I have something to tell you
even though you're gone
and we will never be together
and this is the worse time
The waters rise

Everything is fleeting
No one will make our names
with their mouths when we're gone
not that we would know
if they did

I remember looking into your eyes
behind the confusion and pain
the sorrow and bitterness
to the golden light beyond
lost in the mists

Now you're with someone else
holding a different body close
making a good life
and I am glad for you
and sad

All things sparkle as they flow
into the deep river
We are no different
the waters will rise
and cover

The waters will rise
and bring us home
to the places that lie beyond
I whisper to your memory
Time to go

And the waters will rise
and carry us all home
to the brightness beyond
I smile at your rememberance
and let go

Petals fall into the clear water
white against blue
gold fish in the shallows
leviathans below
mighty and swift

And the waters carry
And the waters will rise
Golden flashes in the shallows
Currents flow
deep and strong

The waters rise

Copyright 2006. All rights reserved.

Funeral

Uncle John's funeral is today at 2 p.m. Please remember his wife and family in your prayers. Thank you.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Lots of words, not much else.

The words have come. Flowed even. They're not good words, but by gum, I think I will win NaNoWriMo this year. I haven't caught up with Jean yet and I shudder to think how many words G.Smith is ahead of me, but I'm going to make it. Otherwise, the weekend hasn't been good. So we'll just fill this entry with a short excerpt from Tin Man Dark, which is apparently my attempt to show you what a hundred monkeys would produce when they weren't copying Shakespeare.

Excerpt from Tin Man Dark

From Chapter 5: Black Blood

      It was always that way. That moment when I held a life in my hands. I always paused. Not enough for a normal human to notice, but enough that the other Tin Men had noted it, particularly Rebarr who had no patience with what she called my squeamishness.
      But she was wrong, of course. I was a Tin Man. We didn't hold life in any particular regard. I couldn't feel any differently; the chempack made sure of that. But I paused because I felt like I should. The whitecoats could obviously do miracles of a sort, but despite their knowledge, they had never been able to create life. Clone it, change it, torture it, but they couldn't make it. I paused because I was ending something that no one could create again. Life deserved that pause, that moment.
      That was enough. With a quick twist, I broke the guard's neck.
      Rebarr frowned at me. "Took long enough," she growled.
      I didn't respond. No point.
      "I've got the target," Vipe said, tapping on the infrared scanner link. "Third floor. Back of the building. But look at this."
      The scanner showed four people in a room moving around next to the Tallings. Tallings registered the normal temp for a human. But the other four blazed in the scanner.
      "That can't be right," Seven said. "Scanner must be off."
      "It isn't," Vipe said. He looked at us.
      "Could they be on fire?" Day asked.
      Rebarr frowned at her. "Oh, that's it. They've set themselves on fire, and now they're sitting down to let the blaze die off."
      Day's face twisted. I moved from between her and Rebarr.
      Vipe cut off whatever Day was about to say. "They're between us and the target. We're going to find out soon enough. Move out."
      Two other guards patrolled the first floor. One making his rounds, the other in the can. Zone used a knife on second, Rebarr did something nasty to the one in the can. She came out with blood on her cheek. Sometimes I thought she enjoyed the killing, at least as much as a Tin Man can.
      We went up the stairs, staggered formation but encounted no resistance. For a man wanted dead by most of the major powers, Tallings was curiously lax about security. Unless those four unknowns were his security. I flashed back to the strength and speed of Laero Sone. I wondered how he would have registered in the scanner.
      We ghosted down the hall, checking rooms as we went. Expensive office furniture in one, cutting edge computers in another. The last door led into the room that led to Tallings. At the door, we paused. Vipe smiled at us. I glanced around. We were Wave Team 7. Tin Men all. Unbeatable. Untouchable.
      A minute later, half of us were dead, and the rest of us were running for our lives.

Copyright 2006. All rights reserved.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Uncle John

My Uncle John passed away last night. Please remember his wife and sons and the rest of my family in your prayers. Thank you.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Tin Man Dark excerpt 2.3

      The August family newsletter is done! I just have to get it printed and mailed. Then I will do the September next week! And after that, the December. Yes, we're doing December before October and November. I wanted the December issue to come out in December since it will be Christmas-themed. At least, that's the current plan. I still need to do Christmas cards somewhere in this.
      And how is NaNoWriMo going, you ask? It's going okay. I'm slowly getting up to where my word count should be. I hope to be caught up and even get a little ahead this weekend. We'll see how it goes.
      As for how I feel about Tin Man Dark, hmm. The story has become increasingly violent and dark. I don't really like Dark, which is new for me because usually I like my characters, even the villains. But Dark has strange twists in him that frankly appall me. And some of his decisions, what he's done in the past, and what he does to survive, well, I don't think I like him running around in my head. But he does have a spark of humanity, and weirdly enough, Tin Man Dark has turned out to be a love story and even a redempetion story. But I still don't think I would have written this story if not for the pressure of NaNoWriMo to write something new.

Excerpt from Tin Man Dark

From Chapter Two: Of Zombies and Kings

      No one meant to create Zombies, of course. What the whitecoats wanted and promised to the Govs was the perfect soldier. Fanatically loyal with unquestioning obedience and enhanced strength, speed, and endurance. But the interaction between the chempack and the human nervous system proved more complicated than expected. They lost several volunteers just learning how to implant the chempack. But worse was to come. Half of Wave One died due to seizures, heart attacks, and strokes. The Govs nearly terminated the Wave Project, but Corelan had a few senators in his pocket.
      They dialed back the chemicals, particularly a potent synthetic hormone known as HE-713. After trial and error and plenty of corpses, soldiers started surviving the implantation and activation of the chempack. These new soldiers had incredible speed and strength. But after a couple of weeks, they simply stopped. They lost the ability to move by their own volition. They had completely lost their initiative. Some of them wouldn't eat unless told to do so. A few of them simply went to sleep and didn't wake up. They had enhanced strength and speed, but they lacked the will to live. They weren't soldiers. They were simply slaves, and not good ones. Most of them slowly died. Wasting away. Wave One was finished.
      Corelan gave the failure a spin. It was obvious, he argued to the Govs, that the project held merit. For those days that the Zombies functioned, they showed impressive abilities. The chempack could create the perfect soldier. The Project simply needed more time. More money. And more volunteers.
      I'd like to think that if Govs had know the slaughter that Wave Two was going to create, they would have shut the project down. But I know better. Seven once hacked into a secret Gov server and downloaded several files. One of them detailed a plan to create more Zombies as needed to take advantage of their two week window of functionality. The plan was deemed feasible. It had never been implemented, but it had also never been rejected. It was simply pending.
      A handful of what everyone now call the Zombies still survive. As long as they're supervised, they can handle simple tasks, like sweeping a floor or emptying trash. Before I became a Tin Man, their empty stares and always gaping mouths used to make me shudder. Now they're just furniture. A distant reminder of a mistake, but one costly only in the sense of time, money, and the lives of the Zombies.
      Wave Two would be costly beyond a madman's dreams.

Copyright 2006. All rights reserved.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Tin Man Dark excerpt 1.1

      I posted again over at The Great Slim Down. This time it's something I'm requesting help with if you know your way about the kitchen.
      What follows is an excerpt from Tin Man Dark. It's the very beginning of this strange, dark story. It's unedited and raw. Be aware of that and forgiving. I hope you enjoy it anyway.

Excerpt from Tin Man Dark

Chapter One: Wave Rising

      I used to have a name. Or at least another name. One that my parents gave me. I can't remember it now. The Wave whitecoats said they would make us into new men. They didn't tell us that in doing so, we'd lose what we were.
      There were at least four Waves. The Zombies, the Berserkers, the Beyonds, and the Tin Men. I'm Tin Man Dark. My code name. We all have them. Seven, Rebarr, Zone, Day and Vipe. We were Wave Team 7. WT7.
      We all volunteered for this. I don't hold with complaining how things worked out. The whitecoats only did to us what we said they could do. Rebarr tends to forget that when she's drinking. Not that she really cares. None of us do.
      Is this making sense? Everything jumbles in my head now. Flashes of the Waves, all the people I killed, all the people who tried to kill me, the team, Alana, Corelan. Everything mixes. Parts of what was intertwine with what is and what might be. But this needs to make sense. You need to understand.
      Let's start here.
      Monaco. Constitutional monarchy and city-state. Situated along the French Riviera between the Mediterranean Sea and France. One of the five European microstates. Playground of the ultra-rich and the uber-powerful. People so far removed from the day-to-day lives of average citzens that they might as well be aliens. Also, the current home of Francisco D'Argente.
      D'Argente was rich. Bill Gates rich. Money had ceased to mean anything to him. He owned a yacht that once belonged to Onasis. His 22,000 square foot villa held painting by Picasso and Van Gogh. His Italian shoes alone cost more than my yearly salary. But he gave money to charity, too. A lot of money. He endowed scholarships in medicine, engineering, and the arts, particularly theater and ballet. The D'Argente Foundation For A Better World gave millions to starvation victims in struggling Third World countries. His money had saved a lot of lives. It wasn't going to save his.
      His villa had more security per foot than the Pentagon. High stone wall with spikes and pressure plates on the top. Razor-wire second fence. Infra-red and low-lux cameras fixed and scanning. More armed guards than you could shake a shotgun at. Guard dogs that could take down a bear. A private beach covered with sensors and fenced by lasers. Two years ago, a crack team of mercs stormed the villa. They planned to kill D'Argente. He had angered the head of an African nation for selling arms to guerrillas. None of the mercs made it within 100 feet of the villa.
      In fact, D'Argente, who was entertaining several guests, wasn't even told about the attempt until later that evening, after most of his guests had left. He left his current lover entertaining an U.S. senator and walked down to the basement accompanied by Laero Sone, his head of security. There in a hidden, soundproofed room, D'Argente tortured to death the three mercs that had survived the initial assault. He used a butcher knife, a shockprod, and acid. After the last merc had died, He went upstairs, changed clothes and then accompanied his friends to a casino. He gambled all night, losing a half million while his villa was cleaned and the bodies taken abroad his yacht to be frozen for later disposal far out to sea. Two weeks later, that African leader boarded a private jet that exploded on takeoff. There were no survivors.
      That was the third attack on D'Argente in five years. None of the others had even come that close to him. Barring the use of a smart bomb, he was untouchable. It would take an army to end him. That's why I was naked when I washed up on his private beach.
      "Réveillez-vous! Réveillez-vous!" The guard poked my bare back with the end of his rifle. I briefly considered jumping up and twisting his head off, but instead, I rolled over and groaned.
      "Que faites-vous ici?" he demanded, his heavily accented French being just about as bad as mine. I decided to put him out of his language misery.
      "I don't … speak French," I said. "I'm American."
      "What are you doing here?" he asked again. Two other guards joined him. One held the leash on a black dog that kept up a constant growl.
      "I was swimming," I said. "The current … caught me. Help me …" I closed my eyes and triggered the chempack. My body went limp. According to the whitecoats, I should look like I fainted. If I were lucky, I wouldn't open my eyes in the basement room.

Copyright 2006. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Just so you know

      I posted a funny (I hope) essay on The Great Slim Down. It will only be posted there so you're going to have to go there to read it. If you want to. I'm not forcing you. I believe people should be free to make their own choices. Unless they inconvenience me, of course. And then I should get to choose.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

3,095

      Three thousand and ninety-five words today on Tin Man Dark, my National Novel Writing Month book. I had hoped to reach 4,000, but I ran out of time and push. Not caught up yet, but getting there. I just have to keep this pace until the weekend -- when I need to do a lot more. We'll see how it goes. By the way, I greatly appreciate the support I'm receiving on this. I think I would have quit except for those cheering me on. So ... this is all your fault! :)
      I'd like to have something interesting to tell you, but I basically went to work, came home and wrote. I also worked on a family newsletter -- the one for August. Sigh. Yes, I'm that behind. But I should finish it this weekend, and then I'm doing another one next week. And I hope another one the week after that. Anyway, that was my day. And now I'm going to call it a night. I hope you had a good day and have a great tomorrow. Take care.

Monday, November 13, 2006

I'm not having fun

      Well, I did it. Brought my total of National Novel Writing Month words up to a little over 15,000. I'm not quite on track to finish on time, but it's possible now. But I'm not having fun.
      Last year, it was fun. It was a wild crazy month. The words flowed at times. I talked on the forums. The Story was there for me whenever I needed it.
      This year, not so good. The story is refusing to write willingly. I'm having to struggle for every paragraph. Of course, I know I'm pushing myself to get caught up, and the self-applied pressure is immense, but I was pressured last time and still enjoyed the process.
      The problem is, I think, that I'm not that excited about Tin Man Dark. Oh, it's got some cool stuff in it, some ideas that I think bear examination, but overall, it's a bit flat.
      A lot of people, apparently, write drivel in NaNoWriMo. The point, for them, is to get words on paper, any words, and it doesn't seem to matter to them if they ever do anything with what they wrote or not. And that's fine. Writing is writing, and their skill will grow as they write. As long as they enjoy the process, then it's more than okay. If more people spent their time writing instead of watching TV, the world would be a much better place. NaNoWriMo really isn't about producing a good novel. It's about just producing one.
      Perhaps I got spoiled by Darkness, Oklahoma. When I finished it last year, it felt like a novel. Oh, it needed and still needs editing and a lot more words, but the structure of it, the story of it, was good. I finished knowing that I could build on it. I had a Story there.
      Tin Man Dark, well, I'm unsure about. It's just scenes. There isn't really a plot that I can see besides a vague Good Guys vs. Bad Guys. I'm not sure that I want to spend a whole month working on it when I have plenty of other projects needed my attention.
      Well, that's where I'm at now. I'm considering quiting (oh hated word) NaNoWriMo this year. I'll continue working on TMD until I make up my mind one way or another. And maybe it will come alive. Some stories do that eventually. You work on them doggedly, and one day you start flying.
      Time for work. Talk to you later if I can.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Arrrggghhh!

      That's all I have to say. Arrrggghhh.
      Except OSU and OU won today! Woohoo! Or as Trixie says, WOOT!
      And now good night!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

NaNoWoes

      Not only can I not write, it's entirely possible that English is my second language ... or third even. Of course, I knew it would be hard starting this late -- maybe impossible -- to win, but I thought I'd be making a better showing by now. Oh well, I will have the weekend to work on it. I just need to write 10,000 words or so ... by Sunday night. Ooookay.
      Otherwise, not much to tell you. My back continues to bother me. I'm very tired of that. Weather has been nice. B. was an old love of mine, but the B. is a private joke that probably only I would ever find funny. I am so hungry now that if I saw a stranger finishing a Snickers bar, I would French-kiss her just to get the chocolate off her tonsils. Work was grueling today. The Democrats -- my party -- actually won some elections. Now I wonder how long it will take for them mess up again. I'm going to try to take some fall photos tomorrow if my back will let me.
      I'm going to bed now. I'm tired. I need something to read. Suggestions? Night!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

What's going on

      The cast party was a lot of fun. Good food, good conversation, lots of laughter. It was one of the best ones that I've ever been at.
      Michelle posted and I commented at the Great Slim Down, but no one else did. I thought this might serve as a reminder to the rest of the Slimmers. We all seem to be suffering from a lack of diet willpower.
      I worked on outlining Tin Man Dark today. Yes, I'm terribly behind, but I have to have an outline if I'm going to have any chance of reaching the goal. I was trying to write without one, but I couldn't do it. I need a road map, otherwise I just wander around lost. Anyway, I hope the words will start flowing now I know where to go.
      That's about all I have to say tonight. I'm still not caught up at work or at home. I did get my bills mailed today so I'm caught up on that at least. I have a lot of filing, laundry, housework, etc. And I need to do three family newsletters this month and start working on my Christmas cards and Christmas list. Yes, I think I will weep now.
      So good night all. And good night B. wherever you are!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Updating my life

      We have a cast party for the play tonight. After that, my "official" duties to the play will be over. Yes, I'm a bit depressed about it, but that's normal at the end of a project. All I need is a new project to perk me right up.
      My brother, my sister-in-law and my beautiful niece came down to see the play Friday night, and my friend Randall drove up from Dallas Saturday to see it. I enjoyed both visits and appreciated them making the trip.
      I signed up for National Novel Writing Month yesterday. Yes, I'm crazy. I think we've covered that before. I don't know if I can reach 50,000 words, but I'm going to give it a good try. I was looking at my journal from last year and I think I missed seven days and was still able to reach the goal. My novel this time is called Tin Man Dark. I'll be posting excerpts soon.
      I added two blogs to the Blogs of Interest: Babs - Conversation Station and Soliloquy: Inside Out. They're both good writers with interesting content. Worth your time to check them out and add them to your daily reads.
      I updated the scrollies and quotes. I hope people still read them. I'm currently working on a complete redesign of 51313 Harbor Street. Well, a new template, anyway. I like the one I have now, but I've had it for two years. But I'm not going to switch until the new template is exactly how I like it.
      Slowly I'm getting my house back in order. During the play, things sorta got away from me. I'm going to try to catch up on a whole lot of stuff this month.
      Can you believe Frenzied Feline is actually decorating for Christmas now? Just the thought of the holidays makes me wince. But I do enjoy sending out Christmas cards. And receiving them.
      I have gone back on my diet with a vengeance. There is NO excuse for me being this heavy. I'm not going to stay this way. I'm not. I want to see what I look like under all this flab. I'm tired of being ashamed of my size. Watch out, fat. I'm gunnin' for ya, and there will be no mercy.
      Well, I have to get ready for work now. I hope you have a great day. Talk to ya later!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Circle

      Before each performance at the local community theater, the cast and crew hold "circle." They hold hands, and the director and/or the cast speak briefly and then pray for a good performance.
      For Sunday's circle, I wrote the following and thought I'd post it here so that I'd have it.

      This is the last performance of Murder at the Witch's Cottage at the Norris Center. All our hard work ends with one more walk on the stage. Theater is like that: fleeting and precious. Nothing survives afterward except memories. A play -- and our lives -- are composed of brief moments in time.
      The play ends today. Tomorrow it's likely we won't see each other. We won't talk to each other daily. We won't share our lives daily. I would like to think that the bonds we've forged will continue, but I've been in too many plays, watched too many casts wander off. I know we will remain friends, but this particular closeness will probably end. Things will be different.
      Time is the only thing we own on this earth. And how we spend it is how our lives will be measured. Before this is over, I want to tell each of you how much I appreciate you spending your time with my words.
      Thank you, Kyra. Your support and general good humor are an undisguised blessing to me.
      Thank you, Nancy C. You're a hot, talented redhead who will always have at least one admirer from afar.
      Thank you, Chuck. I knew I was going to enjoy working with you and I was right. Your commitment and hard work have helped make this play possible.
      Thank you, Brittany. I hope that your amazing talent will find a way to reach a lot of people and give you the success you deserve.
      Thank you, Joan. It's always an honor to watch a new talent find her feet and take her first steps on the boardwalk. I hope you take many journeys on it.
      Thank you, Nancy P. First for letting us know how sexy Methodist women can be and for sharing your talent and smile with all of us.
      Thank you, Joy. You've certainly lived up to your name. Backstage people never get the recognition they deserve. Let this count as regress for some of that slight.
      Thank you, Marsha. It's good to know my future companion in the nursing home is still as sharp, funny and hard-working as ever.
      And finally, thank you, Eric. Any success that I can ever claim is due to the unexpected and undeserved blessing of having you as my best friend who supports me in all my lunacies.
      The prayer I'm going to share with you is one from a book of poetry I've been working on. The book is called Broken Angels Still Sing and the poem is entitled "Quicksilver."

Quicksilver

Let us pray.

Power Who moves the universe
Who makes the mountains speak
and the skies sing
and the waves give praise

To Thee we offer thanks
for these quicksilver moments
brief and precious
that compose our lives.

We sparkle but briefly
against the bounded night
motes of lights bright
before we fade into shadow

But in these fleeting moments,
we live and die
weep and laugh
and gloriously love

So we give thanks to Thee
and ask upon us
Thy endless blessings
and unbounded mercy.

We ask this in Thy Myriad Name
remembering always
to give unto You
all the praise

Amen.

      And that was the last circle for Murder at the Witch's Cottage.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Now for something NOT about the play ...

      My friend Randall took a quick trip to New Orleans with his current lady friend and took some photos that he is allowing me to share here.



Friday, November 03, 2006

Review of "Murder at the Witch's Cottage"

From Friday, November 3, issue of the Ada Evening News

ACT II presents suspenseful treat

By Pru Simmons
Guest writer


From the opening scene of ACT II's production of “Murder at the Witch’s Cottage,” it was obvious that the Wednesday night audience was in for a suspenseful and funny treat. The production, written and directed by Stephen Bagley, ran like clockwork from the acting to the sound effects to the special effects.

The clever story centers on a young couple from Oklahoma who inherit a cottage on the East Coast after the previous owner was killed in a bizarre murder. Once they arrive, all sorts of strange and odd people visit, and then the young wife begins to see and hear dead people. Eventually she and the audience don't know who to trust. It all builds to a stunning and surprising climax.

Nancy Postier was delightful as the witch Rowanna Smyte. She had a touch of sadness that let you feel her pain, particularly in her scenes with the young wife, but you could always sense her backbone of iron. Her “duel” with Winifred was exciting and funny.

Brittany Dawn and Robert Shurtleff played the young couple, Brooke and Jake Killian. Shurtleff played his part well, always leaving you in doubt as to his motives. Is he the loving husband or is he something much darker? Dawn was both charming and sweet as she attempted to discover who or what was behind the strange happenings and murders. She brought tears to my eyes more than once as she struggled with the sorrows in her past.

Nancy Cheper swept onto the stage as Winifred Lawton, a too-friendly neighbor. Her “duel” with Rowanna allowed her to show anguish as well as ruthlessness. Cheper delivered a well-rounded and complex character that could have easily been a caricature.

Chuck Perry was wonderful as the kindly Henry Hollows. As the play progresses, his character changed almost before your very eyes. He was totally believable.

Kyra Childers entered as the forthright (in more ways than one) Dora Dawn, a local real estate agent with a too-close connection with a murderer. Childers doesn't seem to know how to misstep in her acting, and she was right on the mark, particularly in a funny scene with the character Martha Hollows.

Eric Collier played the part of Sheriff Witherby. He was authoritative and strong. When he questioned the young couple, I found myself asking the same questions. He also has one of the funniest lines in the production.

And finally Joan Perry was an absolute hoot as Martha Hollows. Apparently this was her first time on stage, but she acted like she owned it. ACT II needs to cast her often.

The script itself is strong with both deeply emotional and funny scenes. Afterward the plot was clear, but I admit to having chosen the wrong person as the murderer. Bagley throws plenty of red herrings our way, but when the murderer is revealed, it makes perfect sense. And the first act curtain scene has to be one of the greatest cliffhangers I've ever seen on stage. You have to see it to believe it.

"Murder at the Witch's Cottage" plays through Sunday at the Norris Center. It's worth your time and money if you enjoy suspense, mystery and comedy.

Details

      Some more photos of various details on the set. The play is going well. The cast is performing well with only a few minor flubs each night. The crowd has been increasing each night, too. Three more performances and then it will be over. I'll miss it, I'm sure, but I'll be glad to reclaim my free time, too.



Wednesday, November 01, 2006

NaNoWriMo Icon

Opening night

      We open tonight, and I need to get down to the theater, but here are a couple of photos. Talk to you tomorrow.

The set for Murder at the Witch's Cottage. Notice the grandfather clock to the right. We built it for the play. We also built the fireplace to the left, which you can barely see in this photo. I'll post photos tomorrow that show more details of the set.

The cast for Murder at the Witch's Cottage. Back row: Eric Collier, Nancy Cheper, Kyra Childers, Brittany Dawn, Robert Shurtleff. Front row: Joan Perry, Nancy Postier, Chuck Perry.