Friday, February 26, 2010

Week in Review

I just love this, don't you?

Just an inch past 30 days since my last week in review, we're doing another one. Sad to say, I did have an awesome post lined up, but work being work exploded and made a very sticky, nasty mess all over my workspace. So without anymore bullshit...

Alicia's Week in Review 

Hubby left on Monday morning for a not fun-filled week worth of business trips. Since Hubby snuck his luggage out of the house when it was kitty-cat nap time, it took Lucky longer to realize that he was down one human. When he did realize it, that meant that I had to deal with a grieving cat.

Monday also saw me scrambling around the office to get an RFP out. I won't go into too much detail, but it ended with me leaving after almost 11 hours of work and my boss showing up to the UPS warehouse to drop off our package.

RFP Hell took up the majority of my week, the culmination was today with the bonus RFP.

By 9 this morning, I clocked my forty hours of work. I'm not salary, nor do I get overtime. I'm hoping for a well-deserved day off or three in my future. My near future.

What started out to be a promising rewrite/revision process on FALLING TO NORMAL, turned the opposite once I hit Chapter 2. This could be from the suckiness of the week, or the crapiness of the chapter. The amount of editing that was completed at the time of this entry? One page.

On the upside, I have snickered my way to Season 5 of Highlander.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The House of the Dead: Overkill

Zombie Thursdays is a weekly feature with guest blogger, Miranda. You can read more about her here.

Video games, which are so often written off as mindless entertainment, can often serve a learning purpose. And no, I’m not talking about little kids’ educational games. For me, go-kart games help me to become a better driver, music games help me to become a better player and performer, and zombie killing games help me prepare for the coming outbreak and apocalypse.

To further prepare myself for the coming hordes, I spent a good deal of time this week with The House of the Dead: Overkill. This game was only released on Wii, and while I know many people are not fans of the Wii, trust me, this game is worth it to get over your hatred. I’m not saying to go out and spend $200 for one game (although, you really should), but if you happen to have a friend who owns a Wii, pick this game up and get ready for some fun! And if you already own a Wii and don’t have this game-- why not??

A little background on the game itself and its story.  Set in 1991, seven years before the initial House of the Dead, the game supports one to two players-- either Agent G (in his rookie days, before he is seen in the first game), and Detective Washington.  The two are an unlikely pair who join forces to fight their way through a horde of ‘mutants’ (really zombies, but one character says, “don’t use the Z-word!”).  Their main bad guy is a man called Papa Caesar who has forced a young scientist to help him create a drug that will mutate humans into zombies. Along the way they also meet and somewhat team up with Varla Guns, a stripper and sister to the young scientist.

The game story line resembles the make of a grindhouse movie, and was modeled after the film Grindhouse presents-- Planet Terror (an excellent film if you haven’t already seen it). Whereas in the normal House of the Dead games you play in ‘chapters’ of the story, in this game each section is it’s own ‘movie.’ Each area has its own movie poster and cheesy over-the-top narration. Some sections include “Papa’s Palace of Pain,” “Scream Train,” and my personal favorite “Carny,” which takes place at a creepy zombie carnival! Evil mutated clowns jump out at you, you get on a sketchy carny train ride that takes you through a maze of zombies (it almost resembles Captain Spaulding’s ‘Murder Ride’ from House of 1000 Corpses), and the final boss of this level takes place in a freak show and features.... PARASITIC TWINS!

House of the Dead: Overkill is rated M for mature audiences only. Normally I wouldn’t care what a game is rated, I would recommend it to anyone. I also own House of the Dead 2 for Wii, and although those games are rated M, I think they would be fine for the average teenage gamer. Scary at times, and a bit graphic with blood (especially in 3), there still isn’t anything too outrageous or mature. However (and this is a BIG however), the same cannot be said for Overkill. If you have children, I would not buy this game for them. It isn’t the violence or the gore, I think kids can handle that based on all the other games out there, but the language and themes in this game are so over the top I stand by its 17+ rating. Being like an Exploitation Film, the use of the ‘f word’ is highly rampant. VERY highly rampant.

In fact, the Guinness Book of World Records gave this game the honor of being the ‘Most Profane Video Game’ of all time. I’m not sensitive to bad words, and don’t feel it is bad to have kids hear one of two... but throughout game play in Overkill the script has 189 uses of the ‘f-word.’ That translates to a little over one use every minute. But because there isn’t a lot of dialogue during actual game play (just during the little movie portions), it ends up being more like one every few seconds! Another reason I would not recommend this game to children is the subject matter. No, not the zombies, not the violence, but the ending. I won’t give away the ending because it is something you need to experience for yourself without being spoiled. Let’s just say... it is highly disturbing and a true ‘gross out’ moment for anyone!

I really enjoy the game play in this version of the series! One of my problems with the other games in the series is that you are given a certain number lives to begin with. When you are hit enough you lose a life, and when you use up all your lives, you simply die and the game is over. Your progress is lost and you have to start over. And of course in the arcade versions, you can keep playing... if you put more money into the machine. The best thing about Overkill is you are allowed to continue without losing your place if you die. Throughout the game you earn points based on kills and combo shots, etc. If you die, you have the option of continuing, but the game takes away half of the points you’ve earned. In this way, even a novice player can enjoy the game and make it through all the levels. The only exception to the ‘continue’ rule is found in the “Director’s Cut” story line. After you beat the initial game, you can replay in the Director’s Cut mode which has more and tougher zombies, but you also have a limited number of ‘continues’ to use.

After the completion of each scene you are also able to earn money, based on performance, that can be used to buy new guns and upgrade the guns you already have. Faster reloads, bigger clips, high powered rifles-- all these can be yours for several hundred or thousand dollars each round. And like the other games in the series, there are a series of mini-games which help you to play the main game. My favorite in this one is the target practice that is set up like a carny shooting game!

Overall, this is definitely my favorite House of the Dead game, and I’ve played them all. It is funny, witty, visually awesome, and just a fun time! And Varla Guns has become one of my favorite video game characters. I’m always on the look out for a new person to cosplay as, and she may be it. She even has the exact same lip piercing that I do on the right side of her face (most people I have seen have theirs on the left). And of course, being based on Planet Terror her character is very reminiscent of Rose McGowan’s zombie fighting stripper, so I’m even more a huge fan.

My only criticism of this game is that sometimes the Wii-mote doesn’t aim properly or doesn’t pick up right away. This may not entirely be the fault of the game, but could be my sensor bar (although I did a sensitivity check right before playing to avoid this and it still was sketchy in aiming at times).

This game is fun alone, but is ultra awesome with a partner! Two guns are better than one, after all. And once you beat the Director’s Cut Mode, you can use the Dual-Wield Mode, where four guns can be better than two! Guns can be used with the stand alone remote or with the Wii-Zapper.

Seriously, do yourself a favor and try this game out. You won’t be disappointed.

Happy zombie killing!

PS- A few weeks ago I told you about Jonathan Coulton’s “Re: Your Brains.” For all you Rock Band fans out there, that song *is* available for download and game play! Only 100 Wii points (one dollar) for those with that gaming system. Check values for other consoles.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Ritual: Why We're All a Little OCD

After years of needing to lock the old school lock that secures my parents' front door, I can't leave my apartment with a sound mind unless I have my hand wrapped around my apartment keys. Sometimes, I even need to gaze upon them to leave the apartment perimeter.

This is my constant indulgent OCD moment.

Wikipedia goes into a lot of detail about ritual including religion and law. (Yes, I was surprised about law too.)

Ritual is funny because so much of our day-to-day consists of it, but we don't even realize it. Every morning, I have a pecking order to start my day:
  1. Hit the snooze button 3 times.
  2. Let The White One into his favorite room ever - the bathroom.
  3. Put kibble in cat bowl.
  4. Get ready (dressed, washed, brushed).
  5. Throw lunch in bag.
The White One even has a morning routine:
  1. Yodel.
  2. Grumble.
  3. Make sure favorite room ever hasn't changed since previous evening.
  4. Narf on kibble.
  5. Chase tail.
Superstitious folks are OCD* to the nines. Have you thrown salt over your shoulder if you spilled it? Knocked on wood? Avoided black cats? Dread Friday the 13th?

Superstition breeds ritual.

What rituals do you have?

*Disclaimer: I'm aware that OCD is a real condition and that in some cases very bad. This entry in no way is degrading people who truly suffer from OCD.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Superstition, or When the Sane Go Crazy

6 1/2 years ago when Hubby only owned the 'boyfriend' label, the Boston Red Sox were having a very promising year. They made it to the post-season and, as always, the whole of Red Sox Nation said "World Series Baybee!!"

Since now-Hubby is a die-hard Red Sox fan, he wasn't the exception. Each game night of the ALDS, he would order toasted ravioli while wearing a cheaply made white shirt from Hampton Beach with black lettering that read "Pysch Ward In Patient" and light tan shorts with black checks. The raviolis were always ordered from the same pizza joint halfway between his apartment and work. They were delivered before the game, but not eaten until. He would sit in front of the television and watch the game fold out with a nervous excitement. Once his meal was finished, he would pace between the kitchen and his bedroom. He refused to wash his "lucky outfit."

Then the Sox made it to the ALCS.

Rinse. Repeat.

I asked him about all this during Game 2 against the Yankees after he balked at my suggestion to watch the game at my apartment. The logic goes as follows:
"It worked the first time, so I tried the second time. When they still won, I knew I was making a difference."

Or something equally out there.

I know that this logic is the sports fanatic version of knocking on wood. A similar version of the Red Sox 2003 post-season happens during football season where I can't watch any crucial game. Whether it's to hinder or aid, superstition makes us feel better.

What kind of superstitions to you give in to?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Blog Spotlight: Combreviations

Work is pouring around my ears and I have never spent so much time in MS Word while not working on my writing. That said, today's blog spotlight is Combreviations.

The blurb on the side explains combreviations as
what happens when you talk too fast (and too often) and force evolve English by combining words to abbreviate. Combreviations are dogs, bred to be likable, useful, and friendly, while most words come out of the natural selection of English. Sure, they may not be the fittest, but damn if everyone doesn't love them.

Combreviations is an awesome blog for the following reasons:

  1. There are multiple entries a day.
  2. The entries are funny, short, and smart.
  3. Blogger, Laura, is pretty kick ass.


  4. It introduced me to the waffle iron cookie.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Goal Update

Six weeks ago, I publicly announced my goals. For my 100th (yep, I was surprised too) post, it's update time.

Goal 1: Complete the most recent FALLING TO NORMAL revision before conference time.
Status: I've thought about revising. The manuscript has notes all over it. I have a better chart. And cards. Just not the brain power. Whenever it comes to sit and buckle down, there is something more pressing that needs tending: cat cuddling, craft projects sitting, sleeping.

The first 25 pages had been redone last month for some critique sessions. I have that feedback now though, so there is no reason not to start. Tonight. I will start tonight.

Goal 2: Keep up with the blogging.
Status: This is the 100th entry. Some days are harder to blog than others. Please send suggestions/comments/questions to help me keep up my 5 day a week pace.

Goal 3: To drop at least 1 pants size.

Goal 4: Clean the little box on a more frequent basis.
Status: Litter box needs to be cleaned. Last change was the weekend I think.

How are your goals coming along?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Best in the Zombie Show

Zombie Thursdays is a weekly feature with guest blogger, Miranda. You can read more about her here.

It probably seems like I am all zombies, all the time. While part of this is true, I also have several other interests that may surprise you.

Right now the world is coming down from one of the biggest sporting events of the year-- the Super Bowl. And they’ve headed right into the Olympics. Soon to follow will be the bracket insanity of March Madness, a large factor in my household when I was growing up, one that (much to my parents’ disappointment, I’m sure) I never really got into.

The whole planet is sporting event crazy, and although I am not the athletic type, there is one sport that I support obsessively every year-- The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, which is the second longest consecutive-running annual sporting event in history, second only by one year to the Kentucky Derby. This year marks the 134th show! It is true that my love for dogs far surpasses my love for zombies (sorry zombies of the world), so every year I tune in and cheer on my favorite breeds.

What a lot of people don’t realize is that the dogs at Westminster are not being judged against each other. They are being judged against their own breed standard to find which dog best fits their breed’s description. And even within some of the breeds there are many different varieties. For example, with the dachshund there are three varieties-- smooth coated, long coat, and wire coat. The breed standard is the same for all three, they just have different hair. Another example is the poodle. Three varieties exist in size-- standard, miniature, and toy.

So, you are probably thinking, “Great! But this is ZOMBIE Thursday, not Doggie Thursday. What’s the point?”

The way Westminster and other dog shows view dog breeds is how I like to think of zombies. There are many different breeds and varieties of zombies. Many people argue that some zombies aren’t real zombies for whatever reason. But I say they are. You can’t judge or compare one type of zombie against another when deciding which is the best. Sure, you can have your favorite varieties, but in the end they are all zombies.

Let’s look briefly at some of the different breeds of zombies!

  1. Classic Zombie- This is the zombie that is found in films like Night of the Living Dead. A recently dead body is reanimated through nuclear radiation means. Incapable of speech, their only “thought” is to find a living human and eat them. They can be killed by a shot or blow to the head. Fire is also effective. They display little intelligence or problem solving skills. Two breed varieties seem to exist-- a) Slow moving (shuffle/shamble along, easy to escape from) and b) Fast moving (these dudes can run, and can run at record breaking speeds. A motorized vehicle is recommend for escape)

  2. Viral Zombie- This one can seem very similar to the Classic Zombie, and its breed origins are clearly linked. But unlike the Classic Zombies, these zombies are formed through some sort of virus. They do not have to be a recently deceased individual (although in some varieties, the virus is lethal before total transformation occurs), and the virus is easily transmittable (most often through saliva after being bitten). Breed characteristics and personality are similar to that of the Classic. They are driven to living beings with the intent to kill them and in some varieties, eat them. Varieties include-- a) Solanum (popular theory of Max Brooks, host dies first before virus takes over), b) Rage (as seen in 28 Days Later, host does not die, but virus takes effect immediately), c) Tyrant (also known as T-virus, responsible for mutating its host and able to reanimate dead cells. Made popular in the Resident Evil series.)

  3. C.H.U.D.s- Although a lesser known breed, CHUDs deserve a spot in the zombie world. For those of you who don’t know, a C.H.U.D. is a “Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller.” They are formed through the pollution of radioactive toxic waste which turns them into monsters who prey on humans. Found in the sewers and undergrounds of large cities all over the world! Also able to be killed and brought back to life again by unsuspecting teenagers.

  4. Vampiric Zombie- Possibly the original breed standard from which the classic and viral zombies were created. This breed displays photosensitivity, a need for blood, and often a high intelligence and adaptability. You will recognize this breed in things such as I Am Legend (side note-- George Romero has admitted to practically stealing the concept of I Am Legend and used it as inspiration for Night of the Living Dead).

  5. Voodoo Zombie- I covered this one at great length in a previous Zombie Thursday blog, so check it out if you haven’t read that one already! But to recap, a voodoo zombie is a person who falls under the spell of a bokor by being poisoned with a mixture of chemicals that cause a death-like state and later a mindless, hallucinogenic trance. Most often seen in Haiti.

  6. Serial Killer Zombie- This breed is very rare, and in some circles isn’t even recognized as a legitimate breed. The cause of reanimation is usually not the same for any given case, and often is just missing entirely. Several prominent cases have involved lightning. These killers are undeniably killed by whatever means necessary, yet somehow manage to keep coming back. Quite possibly one of the most dangerous breeds as a means of destroying them permanently is unknown. Think of Jason Voorhees and Michael Meyers as a Best of Breed standard.

  7. Zombie Nazi- A recently emerging breed, the Zombie Nazi is quite possibly one of the most fascinating breeds of zombie out there. We all know and will hopefully agree that Nazis are evil, horrible people. The worst examples of the human race. But for some reason when they are turned into zombies.... they are AMAZING. Don’t even argue, you know it’s true. Some great examples of this breed popularity show up in films like Dead Snow and Rob Zombie’s The Haunted World of El Superbeasto. They also appear in the game Call of Duty: World at War.

  8. Zombie Cats- The Zombie Cat is an obvious breed variety of the regular Lolcat (sometimes written as lawlcat). These zombies are most often documented on the “I Can Has Cheezburger” website. Although seemingly hilarious, they pose a deep threat as they can disguise themselves as innocent family pets. No one is really sure what turns Mr. Fluffy into a kitteh that can has brainz, but one thing is certain, you should NOT let your guard down around these tail-toting terrors.

As you can see, there are many different breeds and varieties of zombies, and many more that are just too numerous to mention here! It is far too difficult to compare them against each other... but like the dogs of Westminster, we all have the ones that hold a special place in our hearts. What is your favorite zombie? Who would you want to win ‘Best in Show?’

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Jeopardy Review

The quiz that was scheduled for last Friday was postponed to this Friday. Phantasma's classmates are struggling with the animal kingdom, even with the extra study aids that Beth sent out. I'd be lying if I said Phantasma understood everything - she didn't. She had problems finishing the study sheets and blamed the cat. (Quite possible it was either The Stripey One's or The White One's fault. They do love sitting on the one thing you're working on.)

Subject: Jeopardy Review
Hello parents,

I hope you are all enjoying the snow.  I just wanted to let you know that I've posted a Jeopardy review game on the animal kingdom on my eBoard.  The quiz will still take place on Friday as scheduled.  Warm regards, B. Fisher

For the record, Beth, I'm not enjoying the snow. I broke up with winter. (However, it was very pretty on the trees this morning.)

I haven't looked at the review game yet. It should be fun, even if there isn't any Sean Connery.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Some Things Shouldn't Cost a Buck

In the continued effort to hold off on revising for as long as possible, I took a break yesterday to pick up some fleece. In the same shopping plaza as Jo Ann Fabrics is a Dollar Tree. Everything in Dollar Tree is a dollar - everything.

Stationary? A dollar.
Kitchen stuff? A dollar.
Winter accessories? A dollar.

Even these, were a dollar.

Friday, February 12, 2010

On Valentine's Day and Red Roses

Before my full-time temp job, I worked part-time at a local florist. I had gotten the job because I knew how to turn on a monitor.

I started working shortly after my honeymoon and would still be there if it wasn't for our suck-ass economy. I learned enough in 18 months to become a junior designer - a feat that would be much more impressive if there were more than me, the owner, and her dog.

The job was great. My days were short enough that I could get writing or laundry done in the morning without waking up too early. The dress code was casual - as long as it wasn't offensive, I could wear it. More than half of the year was spent in velour pants just because. My boss, even though a flake, was fun to work with.

It sucked when it was the holiday season because the tempo of the store went into triple-manic mode. My boss didn't handle stress well and her brain would shut down. This mean miscommunication would hit hard; we would spend most of Christmas Eve and Valentine's Day yelling at each other.

Which brings me to state the obvious: today is the start of Valentine's Day weekend, and I've been asked back to join in the floralizing festivities. (Floralizing = money. Alicia = not stupid.)

For the record, I hate loathe Valentine's Day. When I was single, my reasoning was because I had no one while the bulk of my friends were coupled off. I would wear black and change my desktop to show cupid shot in the back. I'd rant over the lameness of the holiday. While happily married, I still think the greeting card holiday is lame. Why do you need a specific day to let your significant other know how you feel?

Newsflash: you should let your loved ones know they're appreciated and loved every day. If you can't seem to do that, then please do it at least on a random day.

And why must it be red roses?

I know what you're saying, "But red roses signify luuurrve!" What it's really saying is that you're an asshole who can't think beyond a cliche.

The week leading into Valentine's Day last year we could barely move on the showroom floor because of all the roses. It was a field of red, very much like Can'-Ka No Rey.

When it comes to roses, I'm a fan of bicolor ones myself, even though I have worked with some pretty pale greens before. And for flowers, gerbera daisies are my favorite. There are so many types of flowers out there, that it's a shame to just "go" with roses. The same goes with colors. The principle of ROY G BIV applies to flora.

I should stop right now and make it clear that I don't have a problem with roses, the color red, or red roses. If you're one of those people who truly love red roses because the hue resonates deeply with you, that's great. If red roses remind you of your first time with that special person, again, great. If you love them because that's what you think you should do, please read three paragraphs up again.

I'm beginning to think I'm not the only one who thinks Valentine's Day is bullshit. Miranda said she didn't like it in yesterday's Zombie Thursday. What are your thoughts?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I Love Zombie Day

Zombie Thursdays is a weekly feature with guest blogger, Miranda. You can read more about her here.

February is a short little month filled with many holidays. In fact, February may be the most festive month of all! First we celebrated Groundhog’s Day, an odd, but cute little holiday. Next was arguably the best one of all-- my birthday! It was also George Romero’s birthday as you may have learned from last week. Throw in some presidents’ birthdays, and a leap day and you have one packed month!

This weekend most of the world will be celebrating another holiday that revolves all around love! No... I’m not talking about stupid Valentine’s Day. I’m referring to “I Love Zombies Day.”

Yes, apparently February 13th is to become the official day to celebrate the love of the undead.

I first heard about this somewhat dubious holiday via Twitter. Twitter, like most of the interwebz, isn’t always the most reliable source of information. Anybody can say or post anything online (often with bad grammar and punctuation) which should make one suspect of everything seen and read. I recently changed my Twitter from private back to public. When I first joined publicly, I would make a tweet thing and depending on whatever random word I happened to put in it, I would start to get followed by random people. Example-- I made a post about how I was going to go cook some dinner. I was almost immediately followed by a person/site that sells cookware. This type of random following makes no sense to me. I was certainly not going to start following this cookware person; in fact, I blocked them almost as quickly as they started following me.

The point of that story is that I went on private for a long time to end these random followers and only recently went public again. As such, I am still getting those random followers. Only now, several of them have been zombie-related followers, a few of which I have started to follow. It was from one of these zombie tweeters that I read about “I Love Zombies Day.”

Being the suspicious interwebz outsider that I am, at first I thought this celebration was no more than some ‘meme’ thing created by a bored zombie-loving tweeter. Further investigation was required!

As it turns out, I was half correct. Obviously, this is a made up holiday and this Saturday marks the first year in which there is an official day to celebrate your love of zombies. My thought was that it would have come from a source like FEARnet (the creators of last week’s “tweet like a zombie day”) or Bloody-Disgusting-- in other words, a well known horror site. The origins are from the creators of a digital art magazine called Imagine Magazine that seems to showcase artists in storyboards, comics, graphic novels, voice actors, video game art designers, and more.

One of Imagine’s contributors, Anthony Zummo, really loves his zombies. And it was he who came up with the idea of I.L.Z. Day. According to his lengthy blog post about why he loves zombies, he states:
We, as people of creative minds, should embrace the zombie in the month of February and start “I LOVE ZOMBIES DAY” as an official holiday on Feb 13th. Halloween is fun for all monsters, but only February is the month for love. So I am suggesting that we come together with our loved ones and watch a zombie movie, play a zombie video game or read a great zombie graphic novel and share in the ravenous behavior of the horde.

Being a zombie lover myself, one might assume that I would be all over and about this holiday. But I’m not sure if I am. Maybe it is the close proximity and close resemblance and comparison to Valentine’s Day, a holiday that I hate, that is making me a bit uneasy. Valentine’s Day is supposed to be the one day a year where everyone goes all mushy and tells each other that they love them. Shouldn’t we tell our loved ones this every day? Shouldn’t we show our love and appreciation every day? I love zombies, and I try to celebrate that love every single day. I watch zombie films all the time, I play zombie games, I listen to zombie music, I wear zombie clothing, and I write a weekly zombie blog. I don’t believe I need one special day a year to really promote that love, just as I don’t need Valentine’s Day to really show my loved ones how I feel.

Am I being cynical? An “I Love Zombies Day” Grinch? Maybe. Last week I supported “Tweet Like a Zombie Day” since it was actually a celebration of George Romero and his birthday. The day had background, substance, and meaning (especially for me). It was in no way random or rushed as I feel this holiday is.

Despite my misgivings and cynicism, I still wish this holiday the best of luck. I recognize the fact that not everyone is quite as zealous as I am when it comes to zombies, so maybe the rest of the world does need this February 13th holiday.  I suppose anything that draws attention to some Zombie Loving can’t really be all that bad, even if it is super interwebz random!

The website is also featuring a contest for those who choo-choo-choose to celebrate. Take a photo of yourself dressed as a zombie, playing a zombie game, watching a zombie film, or whatever and send it in to Imagine Daily. The top three will win some sort of “I Love Zombies” t-shirt and an autographed Issue #1 of the graphic series Quarantine donated by the artist and author! A pretty cool prize, to be sure!

Come Saturday, I will put my pride aside and will be getting my zombie on and helping the cause by tweeting #ilovezombiesday. I will have just driven back from Chicago late the night before, so chances are I will really be zombie like that day. I have also been dying (har har) to play House of the Dead: Overkill which, despite having beaten the game this past summer with a friend, I recently got for Christmas and haven’t really had a chance to play it yet. I.L.Z. Day seems as good a time as any to try it out on my own!

What are your thoughts on internet holidays and holidays in general?

Happy ‘I Love Zombies Day’ and Happy Valentine’s Day... I guess.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Dear Winter: A Letter

Dear Winter,

I'm over you.

A little past the 32nd anniversary of The Blizzard of 78, we're getting a snow storm. It will be nothing like what the mid-Atlantic got over the weekend, but our office is closing early anyway. Hubby and I are discussing the execution of shoveling out tomorrow morning. This is something I don't want.

It's bad enough with the Canadian blasts we've been getting tempareture-wise, but do you really have to include snow? I own a white cat - he will blend if he escapes. (And if he manages it, I will blame you, Winter.)

You've been warned. Let your sister Spring come in. I want some flowers and bees, dammit.


PS: In case my intent isn't clear, please look at the image below.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Native Accents

I'm a Boston native. I'm so native, in fact, that I haven't moved away from my hometown. I didn't even move when I was in college - I commuted to the next town. I'm so native that Hubby is born and raised from one town over.

Needless to say, I should sound like I'm an extra in Good Will Hunting. But I don't. After years of working in telephone customer service, I've managed to tone down the accent so when I say Waltham (pronounced correctly as Wall-tham), the person on the other end isn't confused (by a mispronunciation of Walthum.)

Some people think that pahking the cah in Hahvahd Yahd is the sound of the uneducated, which I don't understand, but whatever. I'm not going to rant about the preconceptions that accents generate because it's pointless and we all do it.


Why does this quiz tell me I'm not from Boston?

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Inland North
You may think you speak "Standard English straight out of the dictionary" but when you step away from the Great Lakes you get asked annoying questions like "Are you from Wisconsin?" or "Are you from Chicago?"  Chances are you call carbonated drinks "pop."
The Northeast
The Midland
The South
North Central
The West
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Monday, February 8, 2010

Blog Spotlight: Guide to Literary Agents

If you're a writer with the intent of becoming a published one, you should be reading The Guide to Literary Agents blog. It's informative and concise. They go over everything from query letters to formatting specs. Chuck Sambuchino also blogs about his cover band occasionally, which I love. (I think I might love those stories more than the information I get.)
Recently, Chuck started monthly contests over there. This month the contest focuses on young adult and middle grade books. The winner gets a critique. You know who wants that critique? This gal right here.

Shameless pimping aside, go and read the blog. I have found some many useful articles from there that I've lost count. The Guide to Literary Agents is owned by the same parent company as Writer's Digest. WD is only my favorite writing magazine, so I'll admit that my opinions are highly skewed. (Who cares? They've been around for 90 years.) & The New Music Search

I love my music. I listen to it all the time. One thing I love to do is to find new bands to listen to. This can be difficult when you have radio stations that don't push the envelope. (This is not counting college radio, which I do listen to once and a while.) Because of the suck factor on regular radio, I would use internet radio.

I used to listen to a lot of Pandora Radio when I would be writing, but after NaNoWriMo, I got tired of the selection that kept coming up on my channels. It's great to suggest music based off of key attributes, but sometimes I just want to know what Person X is listening to when they're not listening to Band A.

Bring in is an internet-based radio system that plays recommendations based off the other bands/songs/pachyderms you like. It uses this thing called a Scrobbler, which ultimately adds the song into your music library. I'm finding that this is a more effective way of finding new music than Pandora's music genome project. The website also includes all the genres that any given band falls into.

As much as I like, I'm finding some pitfalls with this program too. Like, the constant flow of the electronica side of goth music. There's a couple of songs that I like; they're peppy and pretty awesome at the gym (when I used to go to the gym, at least), but that doesn't mean I want five songs back-to-back of what my mother would definitely classify as "noise." Because of the amount of EBM, electronica, trance, etc. that pops up, I have to stop and forward through it to get to the next song. (If you listen to it for 8 hours a day, this can become a pain in the ass.)

Another downfall is that it's playing the same bands even in Neighborhood mode. I made a Wordle based off of the bands in my library and how many times they have been played since I signed up in December. Out of 112 bands that I've listened to, my top two are 16Volt (a band that I only own when it's part of a compilation) and Ministry (a band that truly lost any musical talent once George W went into office).

What have been your experiences with internet radio?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Hot damn!

I wanted to be official and give a big welcome to all the new followers to the blog. I'm happy that I got four new followers this week. Welcome, welcome, welcome! And, thanks for the comments.

I feel like I owe an apology to Blog. And soon.

Phantasma Update Now with Bonus Material

Just when I was panicking about getting photos ready for today's post, Beth sent another email. For all newcomers, you can learn about the birth of Beth and Phantasma here and follow it all here.

As predicted, Phantasma left a horse on Tessa Wolstein's desk. Also, as predicted, Tessa ratted my child out to her mother. This left me with an annoyingly painful conversation with the uber-perky Tara Wolstein where my daughter is the devil and I'm a crap parent. (So not.)

Anyway. Beth emailed twice, but not about the Tessa-Phantasma feud.

Subject: upcoming quiz
Hi parents,

Just a quick note to let you know that we will be having our animal kingdom quiz on Friday, February 12th.  The format of this particular quiz will be all multiple choice.  I've attached a review sheet that your child can begin now.  We have not yet covered birds or mammals.  Warm regards, B. Fisher

Subject: additional review
Hi parents,

I've attached additional review material for your children to use in order to prepare for next week's quiz.

Our team fundraiser will take place next Wednesday and Thursday.  Please help support Good Friends by having your children purchase a duck or horse.  They're only a dollar each.  Thank you in advance to all parents who are generously donating their time to assist us with this sale during lunch periods.  Warm regards, B. Fisher
Did you notice that for the fundraiser Beth included the selling of horses? That's my girl!

Happy Friday everyone.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Happy Bir-rrrraaaiiinnnss!

Zombie Thursdays is a weekly feature with guest blogger, Miranda. You can read more about her here.

Each week as I plan out what I’m going to write about for Zombie Thursday, my mind is usually stuck on one main idea or theme. I have this outline in my head, then I start writing it in my head. I also decide what kind of pictures I need to find or what kind of photos I need to take. All of this mashes around inside of my brain and eventually I sit down and write, write, write.

A couple of weeks ago I had a pretty solid idea on a cool blog to write, but I had this incredibly random zombie dream and at the last minute decided to write about that instead. The same idea that I bumped from that week was supposed to make an appearance today. I’m sure you can guess where this is going...

Yes, I am bumping it again. When it finally does get published on Zombie Thursdays, I’m hoping you all will think it is a fun one! I think it is going to be good. But once again, it seems as if the fates are directing me to write on something else.

In the ‘I Dream of Zombie’ blog, I spoke about survival or the will to live. As much as zombie films are about death and being killed and eaten, they are also about celebrating life, being grateful to be alive. Today I am celebrating life-- my life! Today is my birthday; I’m turning 26 years old.

I believe in a lot of things, but the one thing I don’t believe in is coincidence. I don’t think that anything is just ‘random.’ I feel that things happen for a reason, and that events and occurrences that happen in our lives are all interwoven. They have meaning and purpose. Connection, not coincidence. On that note, as I feel like this past year has been one of the better years of my life, it doesn’t come as any shock that my birthday is falling on a Thursday this year, the day I get to write a weekly blog about something I love so much. The connection here reminds me of when I was younger and a birthday fell on a Saturday. My favorite Saturday morning cartoon at that time was “Tales from the Cryptkeeper,” an animated version of the live action adult show, only made for kids! On that particular birthday, I wanted so badly for them to play my favorite episode, a fractured fairy tale version of Sleeping Beauty that also had vampires in it (episode 5..which, uncoincidently, happens to be my favorite number). And you know what? That is the episode they aired.

So on this day of my birth, I was not shocked at all to learn that I share my birthday with another zombie aficionado. A friend sent me a text message letting me know that FEARnet is sponsoring “Tweet Like a Zombie” Day in honor of.... George Romero’s 70th Birthday! Yes, I share my birthday with the Grandfather of Zombies. And although I don’t find this fact as a coincidence, I do find it as pretty freaking cool! I’ve never been so happy to share my birthday with a famous person.

So, in honor of this day of births and me and Mr. Romero, here are some cool facts about the both of us.

1. The first zombie movie I saw as a child was the 1990 remake of Night of the Living Dead, obviously based on Romero’s original 1968 film; he was an executive producer on the remake.

2. Silence of the Lambs is one of my all time favorite films. Without fail, if I catch it playing on television, no matter what part of the movie it is, no matter how recently I have watched it, I will sit and watch the whole thing again. George Romero has a cameo appearance in the film!

3. One of Romero’s very first jobs was directing little shorts seen on the children’s television show Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. I watched that show everyday when I was growing up.

4. In 2009, a documentary called Autopsy of the Dead was released. It contains interviews with many of the original cast and crew members from Night of the Living Dead. Two friends and coworkers of mine worked on that documentary!

5. Night of the Living Dead was listed on the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. This one has nothing to do with me, but it is a huge honor (especially for a low budget, independent horror film) and I wanted to include that fact here.

6. George Romero will be attending the HorrorHound Convention this March in Indy; I will also be attending and staffing! Yes... I am hoping there will be pictures to share in a future Zombie Thursday! Also in attendance will be Joe Bob Briggs who hosted a horror movie every weekend on TNT... it was with this show that I first saw the remake of Night of the Living Dead.

I hope everyone is having an amazing day, I know I am! If you have a moment, jump on over to they have the entire day devoted to all things ZOMBIE! And if you use the Twitter thing... don’t forget to #tweetlikeazombie!

Happy Birthday, Mr. Romero! See you in March!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Rear Gear - Newest Trend in Pet Fashion?

Danielle, purveyor of all weird internet findings, sent me this Etsy link for butt covers yesterday. And all I can say is. What. The. Hell.

As the servant owner of two cats - both of whom like to stick their ass in my face - I understand that the butt is not attractive. There's the hole and sometimes... residue. In some cases, it can be toxic. (As is the case with Stripey and her anal glands.) I totally understand the want to ignore it's existence.


This goes beyond unnecessary. Just like Everyone Poops, everyone (and thing) has an asshole. People are the ones with shame on that front, not some unsuspecting pet. It looks stupid. My cat's tail is not a rear view mirror, nor is it's ass a windshield. And what happens when the animal has to go? The creator has nothing explaining that on their page. They might assume that it falls to the side and will never touch any waste. Right.

The most frightening thing is that at least one of them is sold out.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Plotting Revisals

This dark sketchy picture represents the last complete draft of FALLING TO NORMAL, the young adult novel I'm shopping around. Or was until I got no hits from the queries sent in the last half of 2009, now I'm in revision-o-rama.

I admit, I hate it.

That is, the revision process. More specifically as it holds to this project. When I began this years (and I do mean years) ago, the first draft was done in by the seat of my pants fashion. While fun to write, it's a bitch to revise.

Why's that?
Because it's hard to connect all the scenes together and not sound like something the cat would create. (Assuming that The White One could write.) With each pass, my timeline shrinks and more events are left out. This is making it more difficult to create a strong story arc and really showcasing my protagonist's growth.

So your revision isn't going well?It's not going as planned.

The process is much slower than I anticipated, partially because I had two deadlines for workshops I needed to meet using my first pages. I made a lot of notes during my last read and I'm making sure that I'm incorporating all of them, which is taking some time.

I've also put myself in a holding pattern until the 8th of February so I can get feedback from the workshop I'm hitting on Sunday. My hope is that they'll ask me thought-provoking questions that will unlock whatever is trapped in my brain.

We'll ignore the fact that Bejeweled Blitz's new features were calling my name the past few weeks.

But you said no more Bejeweled. You liar!
I know.

So when will you finish this draft?
My goal is the end of February so I can edit my NaNoWriMo project during NaNoEdMo, but I'm not going to rush it. At this stage of the game, rushing would be a train wreck of epic proportions. If I'm not done, I'll carry over into EdMo.

So what will you do this week?
My gut is telling me that there is something inherently wrong with the manuscript as it stands, and since you can only query agents once per project, I don't want to dirty that pool. So, my free time this week will be devoted to finding that problematic element and slaying it. I'll be reviewing the plotcards and doing a lot of manual work (story maps, charts, etc.)

Oh, anything I can do?
Yes! If you've been in a similar situation, comment below. How have you fixed problem manuscripts?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Blog Spotlight: Project Nice

Back in December, I highlighted Be Nice to a Stranger in the first blog spotlight. Well, it's back - both the blog spotlight and Be Nice to a Stranger, but it has a shiny new address.

Project Nice is based off the success of Erinn's Be Nice to a Stranger, but she is making it more interactive and will last a little over a month. Today is the kick off date. I'm unofficially participating in since I rarely get away from my work desk or my writing desk.

If you get out and interact with people more often than me, you should definitely sign up for Project Nice. They even have a Twitter feed.
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