Out of Left Field…

•April 16, 2014 • 22 Comments
What? I have to get my car registered at the DMV?

What? I have to get my car registered at the DMV?

I don’t know about you, but I have certain expectations (based on years of experience) when I go to the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles).

You may call it something different where you live, like “The Land That Time Forgot” or “Hell House.”
Gives you that feeling that good, productive things will happen inside, doesn't it?

Gives you that feeling that good, productive things will happen inside, doesn’t it?

Here are my expectations about the DMV:
1. I will not have the proper paperwork and/or signatures even though I called ahead to make sure I procured the proper paperwork and signatures.
2. The lines will resemble people waiting to buy tickets to a Justin Bieber concert, only with way more men and old people.
3. The employees will treat you, at best, with mild disinterest and, at worst with open hostility.
4. The employees work at only one speed and that speed is not what most people would define as “efficient.”
Well, I had to go to the DMV the other day and I was, as usual, in a bit of a hurry.
Much to my surprise, most of my expectations were dashed. I think I was even sexually harassed.
Was I or wasn't I? It's a fine line between friendly banter between a smarmy public servant and an innocent, hurried patron and downright inappropriate behavior.

Was I or wasn’t I? Was it friendly banter from a smarmy public servant to an innocent, hurried patron or blatant unprofessional behavior?

Let me explain.
1. It was a close call, but I did have all the required paperwork. The Help Desk woman was new to the job and told me I needed a signature (not mine), but she turned out to be wrong.
2. The lines were long, but more because families were all waiting together rather than single individuals each having to make their own transaction. So the lines moved quickly.
3. Here’s where it gets interesting. The employee whose window I was called to was probably in his late 40′s or early 50′s, but he looked older. Life or his wife hadn’t been kind to him.
He seemed genuinely happy to see me. I had watched him greet and handle other customers and he wasn’t nearly as cheerful or chatty as he was with me. He was Typical DMV Guy with the others. He was Trying-To-Be-Cool DMV Guy with me.
All this chatting me up slowed him down. Remember, I was in a hurry. But I was nice because the last thing you ever want to do is get a DMV dude miffed at you. He/She can ruin your day in a New York minute.
Hey, good lookin'. I'm the man who can make all your troubles disappear.

Hey, good lookin’. I’m the man who can make all your troubles disappear.

I was getting a little uncomfortable with all the friendliness going on and was happy there was a counter between us. Maybe if he hadn’t had old acne scars on his face, wore glasses circa 1980, and had the comb-over thing going on with his hair…No, I still would have felt weird. No one picks up anyone at the DMV–except if you are actually picking someone up to take them somewhere else in a motor vehicle.
The kicker came when he delayed photocopying a document to tell me a “dumb blonde” joke.
Note to guys who want to impress blonde women: don’t tell them dumb blonde jokes.
Here’s the joke. It took a while to tell. I’m giving you the abbreviated version.
A blonde goes to the beauty parlor wearing a Walkman with headphones (circa 1980′s joke, too). The hairdresser told her to take the headphones off so she could cut her hair. The blonde did, but after about five minutes she passed out. By the time an ambulance arrived she was dead. An EMT picked up the headphones to put with her other personal effects and could hear the Walkman still playing. He put it to his ear and heard, “Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out.”
I smiled and looked behind me. The line was getting pretty long.
I asked him how much I owed. He wouldn’t tell me until did a little more flirting. Finally he let me pay and I escaped.
Yeah. I was happy to pay for the privilege of leaving. Next time I go, I’m taking some muscle with me.
Excellent idea! I get tired of running around doing all my errands.

Excellent idea! I get tired of running around doing all my errands. By the way, that fur is fake. Everything else is totally real.

Is it just me or does shizzle like this happen to other people? Please tell me it’s not just me…

Drop Everything and Read This!

•April 3, 2014 • 16 Comments
Well, I didn't mean everything you're wearing. Use some common sense, People!

Well, I didn’t mean drop everything you’re wearing. Use some common sense, People!

No, I don’t mean this post.

Although, you kind of have to read this post to know what I mean, don’t you?

Anywho. I’ talking about Peter Wells’ new novel, Living Life Backwards.

It’s great! I just finished reading it and, if you can believe it, it’s better than his blog–but only because it’s like a movie version of his blog.

five star

Here’s the review I put up on Amazon.

Peter Wells cannot be described as merely an accomplished breakout novelist. In his first book, as well as in his very popular blog, he has proven himself to be the most subtle of humorists, a most astute observer of human emotion and behavior, and the kind of philosopher I simply can’t get enough of.

This novel gets inside the minds and hearts of a cadre of characters that you won’t soon forget. Why? Because they are us–real, quirky, flawed, complex, dreamers, well-intended, unsure, conflicted, and presented with difficult situations through which they must navigate. Sound familiar? It should! It’s called life. And it’s messy. Peter captures how these people deal with their challenges in a way that only he can. It’s as if he has special spectacles through which he can see into a person’s (fictional or not) psyche. And he does it with a wit that I, as a humorist, envy.

As a writer, I know it’s best to show not tell. Let me give you a few snippets of Peter’s laser-like wit that cuts to the heart of his characters:

Of Misty, the object of much consternation, he tells us: “Through no fault of her own, she was more than averagely pretty, and this had made her a prize for those not necessarily interested in marriage.”

Of the protagonist’s (Bill’s) wife and mother-in-law complaining about their husbands: “Grumbling at low volume was their normality. Mother and daughter now joyously celebrating a common burden: men with no imagination.”

Of Bill’s (Peter’s) insightfulness: “Secrecy is often the strategy of the socially awkward or shy.” I very much related to that observation!

I could go on, but won’t. I don’t want to give away the many gems in this novel, which is a veritable treasure chest of jewels.

At the heart of it is the basic human dilemma: do you settle for a good enough safe life or do you risk it all for the fantasy dangling before you? Peter takes us on the ride with characters who grapple with the choices they make and the consequences of their choices. And what a ride it is.

Don’t make us wait too long, Peter, for another book. Until then, I remain a loyal follower of your blog on WordPress.

For those of you who don’t already follow Peter, click here. I also did an interview with him a little while ago about the book.

Now I understand what “living life backwards” means. If you want to figure it out, read the book!

On another subject, I’m taking a little vacation.

Not that you’d notice. I’m hardly around here, what with editing my novel and all.

But I just thought I’d let you know that I’m going to be incommunicado for about a week…or more. I’m not going anywhere exotic–just breaking the routine a bit.

Like I said, nothing exotic. Just so alone time with me and Phil.

Like I said, nothing exotic. Just some alone time for me and Phil at Sandypants Beach.

I’ve Got This, Um, Ah…Problem…

•March 28, 2014 • 29 Comments
Did that noise just come from me?

Did that noise just come from me?

We’ve all been there before.

Through no real fault of our own (well maybe a lot little fault of our own), we end up with a condition  problem  issue that is embarrassing to have.

It’s even awkward to talk about them to medical professionals trained not to laugh at you, keep their distance or say “Eeewww.”

In odor  order to make you feel like these conditions are normal (ha ha ha ha ha), the AARP online newsletter wrote an article about nine (9) of the really embarrassing things your body can throw at you.

It’s a great article because it got me thinking about other disturbing body-related shizzle most of us deal with that isn’t considered polite to do or talk about.

I should probably tell you about their list because the chances of you clicking on the link to read the article are probably in the negative numbers.

At least they're aware of their problem. I wonder how it affects their intimacy?

At least they’re aware of their problem. I wonder how it affects their intimacy or craving for pork?

1. Bad breath (when your dog won’t even kiss you, it’s time to take this one seriously)

2. Constipation (how would anyone know unless you told them?)

3. Flatulence (a.k.a. farting–if you insist on saying “flatulence,” do it with a British accent)

4. Rectal itch (too bad we can’t be like dogs and just scoot ourselves across the carpet, eh?)

Just go ahead a watch your program. I'm taking care of things just fine. And stop calling me "Scooter."

Just go ahead a watch your program. I’m taking care of things just fine. And stop calling me “Scooter.”

5. Smelly feet (eeewww–I’m a doctor, but not that kind of doctor)

6. Body odor (the article actually says that one of the causes is “avoiding soap and water.”)

She looks too happy to have body order. I smell something fishy here...

She looks too happy to have body odor. I smell something fishy here…

7. Vaginal odor (why does the va-jay-jay get its own category separate from “body odor”?–sexist list!)

8. Fecal incontinence (never try to force a fart after age 50, People)

9. Urinary incontinence (this is no laughing matter…well, it kind of is. So is coughing or just trying to get up)

To this list, I would like to add the following embarrassments foisted upon us by our bodies:

10. Burping (you don’t have to turn the burp into a soliloquy, but the body isn’t like a balloon. It’s not meant to keep air inside.)

11. Bad hair (don’t you hate it when all or part of your hair decides to do it’s own thing?)

I can't do anything with my hair when it gets so humid.

I can’t do anything with my hair when it gets so humid.

12. Falling or tripping (oh sure, it’s funny when caught on tape, but no one needs that kind of attention)

13. Being the person nearest the photocopier/coffee maker/bulldozer when it breaks (You have two choices: pretend that you’re an expert in fixing these machines or put on your five-year-old “I didn’t do it” face).

14. Chin hairs on women (I’m growing them at the same rate that I’m losing my eyelashes. What’s up with that?)

It's a rare woman who can pull this look off.

It’s a rare woman who can pull this look off.

15. Forgetting the name of someone you know well (heck, forgetting where you are or why you’re there)

16. Falling asleep while doing something other than reading or watching TV (i.e., eating out, knitting, typing–snoring makes it worse)

17. Adult acne (as if we don’t have enough to deal with already)

18. Hiccups (especially the really loud ones that happen during unfortunate moments of silence).

NOTE: I left out hemorrhoids because I’ve written about them extensively in the past, hoping they are behind me.

To think, I'm one missing link away from these buffoons.

To think, I’m one missing link away from these buffoons.

What have I forgotten? What do you think are the more embarrassing aspects to being human?

 

Ocean’s Elven

•March 19, 2014 • 11 Comments
These eleven elf-like creatures invite you to write about them or any other elves you happen to know about.

These eleven elf-like creatures invite you to write about them or any other elves you happen to know about.

Are you up for a bit of creative writing and maybe winning a cool contest?

I know, who wouldn’t be?

Dark Jade over at Legends Undying is hosting another one of his magical short story writing contests: “Tell us your Elven Story.”

When I first saw it, I thought he wanted stories about the number ELEVEN, which, you have to admit, would be a challenge creatively speaking.

Let your imagination fly, People.

Let your imagination fly, People.

Cut me some slack.. I’m easily confused because I’m on a lot of meds right now. And I’m a dizzy blonde.

The contest is really about ELVES. So if you or someone you know has been itching to write about these little mythical creatures (I’m making an assumption that elves are mythical–my bad if they aren’t), click here to find out all about the contest.

But don’t procrastinate! The deadline for submissions is March 31st on Dark Jade’s site.

You can whip up an enchanting elven story in a couple of weeks, can’t you?

Well, I’ll be the judge of that…at least one of the judges. Yup. The person who thought that this was a contest about writing 1,000 words about the number eleven will be judging your stories.

I really do need to get a proper desk if I'm going to be a regular judge for DJ's contests.

I really do need to get a proper desk if I’m going to be a regular judge for DJ’s contests.

This ought to be very interesting…

“Living Life Backwards.” Let’s See What’s That’s All About!

•March 15, 2014 • 26 Comments
I'm always looking for a scoop...I just hope this furry fellow isn't looking for one, too!

I’m always looking for a scoop…I just hope this furry fellow isn’t looking for one, too!

I’m at it again.

I found a fab author with a nifty book he has just released. He lives in the U.K.

Here it is!

Here it is!

Many of you might know this dapper chap. It’s Peter of Counting Ducks fame and his book is entitled “Living Life Backwards,” a fascinating title if ever there was one.

Well, I’m so enchanted with Peter and his book, that I invited him for a cyber-chat, complete with a cyber-cup-of tea. We’re meeting in my living room, which, in cyberspace is just gorgeous.

Lorna: Hey, Peter, Cheers! Glad you could beam over for a chat about your book and anything else I feel like asking you about.

Peter: Cheers, Lorna! So delighted I finally got a chance to meet the dizzy blonde behind all the fanfare. Thank you ever so much for inviting me to your spacious and impressive home.

Lorna: Well, in cyberspace, a condo can become a castle, which is kind of what I made happen. I wanted you to feel at home. All people in the UK live in castles, right? Right! Are you ready to talk about your new book?

Peter: Yes. I think I have my bearings. But could you get your dog off my lap?

Lorna: Oh, sorry. Scrappy just loves visitors. We get so few, given that I’m a virtual shut-in these days. Ignoring him is the best solution–kind of like the Royal Family.

Peter: (nodding with slightly worried look).

Lorna: So, let’s get to this. If you know me, and I think you do, you know that I’m fascinated by titles and names. So what’s the story behind the title of your book? It’s a real attention-getter!

Peter: Thank you Lorna. I wish I could take credit for it, but the title comes from the mouth of a character in the book called David Potts, who is a hippy-like man in his middle ages, who grows rare vegetables for a living and is the father of the girl our married ‘hero’ fixates on.

Lorna: You kinda lost me at “hippy-man”. Is he a child of the 1960′s or a man with big hips? Both can be trouble-makers.

Peter: A child of the 1960′s, sorry for the confusion.

Lorna; It’s okay. I speak British. We’ll get through this in jolly good fashion. Just to be clear, though, this hipster David just came up with the title, not you. Should I be interviewing David?

Peter: (Scratching head). No. I came up with David. So I came up with the title, but it was his concept.

Lorna (Scratching head). What kind of British are you speaking, anyway?

Peter: How about this? As you get a bit older, it seems like quite a nifty idea to rewind a few years and see if you can iron out some of those errors you keep blaming everyone else for, and to have another go at the same events, but not put on so much weight this time.

Lorna: Oh, I get it! You’re talking about a re-do.

Peter: Yes, I suppose so.

Lorna: That’ll attract a lot of reader’s to your book! Who doesn’t long for a re-do? Well, not me. I’d just flub things up again, wouldn’t you?

Peter: (Shrugging)

Lorna: Moving on…Steven King said, “Fiction is the truth wrapped up a lie.”How much of this based on real life experiences and people?

Peter: The only real life bit is to do with the UK location which is based on the seaside town of Brixham in Devon, where my mother’s family lived for generations. I still have relatives down there.

Lorna: Are you sure none of those relatives popped up in the story?

Peter: (Shrugging)

Lorna: For a guy who just wrote a 188-page book, you sure are a man of few words.

Peter: Thank you…I think.

Lorna: You’ve had you’re blog for a long time. Whatever possessed you to write a book?

Peter: I love writing. Some of my best conversations are with blank sheets of paper because they have the characteristics a windbag enjoys in his friends: they listen patiently and don’t answer back.

Lorna: I don’t quite know how to take that, Peter. We’re having a conversation (if you call shrugging a lot a conversation). Should I shut up more and listen?

Peter: No! I’m not saying that at all. I love conversing with interesting people, like you. I just love writing, too.

Lorna: Okay. I guess. Then stop the shrugging, will you? If you were to write the book all over again, would you do anything differently? If so what?

Peter: This is an excellent question because, in my opinion, no artist is ever satisfied with his work. He or she is always thinking of ways to refine and improve it, but in the end must accept that, if it is ever to be published, displayed, watched or listened to, he must, as if it were a child, have the confidence to set it free to experience life without its creator’s protection.

Lorna: So basically you’re just crossing your fingers and hoping for the best. As I parent, I completely understand. One more question about writing and we’ll move one more personal stuff. What do you like best about writing? Least?

Peter: I love coming up with characters and them placing them in situations which ask them penetrating questions. What I find most challenging is that point when you’ve got the first couple of chapters under your belt but you know there is a long way to go before you reach port on the other side of the ocean, so to speak. The sheer scale of the work required, and your own sense of what is worth publishing provides a daunting commentary on the task.

Lorna: Yup. Writing: it’s a love/hate roller coaster. Personally, I dislike having to convince other people to read your work…well, my work. Convincing them to read your work is easy! Let’s move on to the more, um, ah, personal side of Peter, shall we.

Peter: (Shifting in his cyber chair) I suppose. I was going to shrug but thought better of it.

Lorna: Good thing. I’ll be gentle. If you could be anywhere right now (beside sitting in my cyber living room with me), where would you be?

Peter: Snorkeling in the Virgin Islands.  Once I went on holiday, and it was like being in a James Bond film but without the figure or charisma. The sheer clearness of the water, the slowly moving coral plants and multi-coloured fishes were truly magical. I love travelling and adventure more than anything.

Lorna: And I thought you, being such a fine English gentleman, would say that there’s no other place you’d rather be than being with me. Ouch! And I was just about to offer you a cup of tea. Hmmm. I suppose I’ll be gracious and rise above my hurt feelings. What is the secret to brewing a great cup of tea?

Peter: Another excellent question!

Lorna: Oh sure, sweet talk me now…

Peter: It is a perfect question, which, in my opinion, cuts right through to the heart of life’s profundities.  Patience. The secret is in the brewing and the listening. If you have guests have you asked them how they like it, including its strength and have you made sure to remember that as you brew it. Always remember, one man’s cup of tea is another chaps brackish horror story.

Lorna: All I have are tea bags…

Peter: I’ll pass.

Lorna: Thought so. My dream job is being Princess Diana without Prince Charles. What is your dream job?

Peter: Being a successful writer and magazine or newspaper columnist.

Lorna: Aim high, just like I am, Peter. And my last question to you is if you have any new projects (writing or otherwise) on the horizon?

Peter: Disturbingly, I have already completed my second book, and it is now in the hands of the editor, which in my case is someone I admire greatly; a happy coincidence. My third book is being written as we speak. It’s hard to shut me up!

Lorna: My guess is you don’t have a regular job. Who writes that much AND works for a living?

Peter: (Shrugging)

I had fun, too!

I had fun, too!

Thanks, Peter for the interview. It was fun!

You can buy a copy of Living Life Backwards at Amazon by clicking here.

 
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