Hello. Happy Halloween!
Hello. Happy Halloween!
I know I said September was a promotion blitz for my everything…but hey, Halloween, baked goods, bad dad jokes. Come on!
Now, I am a FAN of baking contest shows. The Great British Bake Off [is that the actual name?] got me all hot and bothered to find more soothing hours of people BAKING STUFF FOR PRIZES. The Food Network [porn for foodies, if we’re all honest. Are we?] has a plethora of shows around people desperately trying to bake elaborate confections during timed heats. There’s a Christmas series. There’s one centered on spring. There’s a series where kids bake elaborate stuff. Dang. How did that ten year old learn to make such stellar macrons?? What is a macron again?
Today’s main challenge–Make a ten layer cake flavored with rose water while incorporating dried grasshoppers and garlic! There’s a surprise twist that includes a 3-D sculpture of one of the Seven Wonders of the World that must be made out of two kinds of bread!
Groans! I am hooked!
Yep, so the Halloween series is my fave. I admit it. Scary clown cakes. A monster formed out of cream puffs. A smoking cake based on common nightmares. [As in dry ice is used that makes it seem fog or mist oozes from the cake. Cool, amirite??] The judges dress up in costumes. What is the budget for this show, cause those costumes and makeup…are quite elaborate and no costume gets repeated. And then I shrug, go—eh—and carry on transfixed by the successes and oh, failures of the various bakers. Cause who has not watched their pretty cake fall like a mofo??! Or rushed to get something done, that didn’t taste great? Who has not tried out weird flavor combos? Certainly not moi.
I love Halloween. It’s my absolute fave holiday. Mostly because you don’t have to spend it with family trying not to come out of your damn skin as they discuss how global warming is a hoax and how the demonrats are trying to destroy ‘murica by bussing busloads of illegals from California to Texas to vote. Cause George Soros funds all that and he’s a Nazi Jew globalist trying to replace white people with brown people. All of this said while crazy uncle gives you the side-eye to see how upset and triggered you are! I feel a bout of leprosy coming on, sorry, can’t make the Thanksgiving massacre this year!
Yeah, that’s why I prefer a holiday that’s rooted in candy and alcoholic excess. And scary movies! Yes, I’ve been monstrously drunk, happily so, during Pumpkinfest. Some of the best times I ever had were around Halloween. I love costumes! I love pumpkins! Can ya blame me? So round and orange! Punkins!
I also love ghost stories and zombies and vampires and spooky stuff. There’s that, too.
Okay! So the baking element is what actually had me at hello. I am a strictly amateur baker. I just started making homemade bread a few years ago. I usually use a cake mix for cakes. My grandmother loved them. She always sighed happily and said what a great thing it was to just mix up a cake out of a box. My grandmother loved cooking and recipes and cooking shows. Like Julia Childs. Or the Frugal Gourmet. If you’ve never heard of either, well, that’s okay. I guess we can still be friends.
I’ve been bingeing on the Halloween Baking show, as it ramps up tonight with a new season. What will it be? A wicked witch episode? A show dedicated to ghosts and spirits?? A zombie and vampire wedding extravaganza? Cupcakes and tarts and mousse, oh my! The red food coloring alone…!
Now, the host guy annoys me. I admit it. Just…stop talking. Just announce the categories, and there are two—the first one that can be bake a dozen cookies with these ingredients and shaped like this. Followed by a harder challenge and if your creation doesn’t cut it, hey, you can be sent home. The American baking shows seem to have a two part format whereas the Great British one has three distinct challenges. Except Chopped has three parts. Yes, I’ve also discovered Chopped, which I watch mainly to see how the various chefs deal with BATSHIT INSANE ingredients hidden in a basket.
Halloween baking. That’s my focus here, not Chopped. Stay in your lane now.
I also enjoy the decorating element, as this makes me try and pretty up whatever baking I attempt. Uniformity and looks! My pies don’t look like a cow came along and sat on them, for instance, since I started caring a bit about their appearance. Instead of, hey, it’s edible and baked all the way! I watch people sculpt out of chocolate or fondant or rice cereal treats. I observe buckets of buttercream frosting being colored to slap on cakes shaped like skulls or pumpkins or haunted houses. The fillings conjured up, mostly raspberry puree or vanilla bean custard, that get squirted into still hot pastries as the clock ticks down.
Ah the judging. I do enjoy the three judges. Delicious to underbaked and limp or the flat-eyed glare sent to a trembling baker. I can’t find the rum in your ganache. The bitten lip of the baker! It’s in there, the baker claims and the judge curls her British upper lip in utter smoking contempt as the other two judges either agree or dissent. There’s two Americans and one not American. Names?
Now, I’ve seen horrible looking desserts saved by their taste. A hot mess that tasted fabulous. A Day of the Dead cake that looked like I’d decorated it but which tasted like a professional baker baked it. And the guy almost in tears over how his cake appeared.
But sometimes this won’t save a baker if they’ve already had a bad baking session earlier. The judging seems arbitrary. Which is fine. It also seems to be based on personalities a bit rather than actual baked goods produced…which is also fine. Whatever. It’s television.
Anyway! Before this approaches novella length. I like Halloween. I like baking shows. A Halloween baking contest show. I’m! So! There!
Waiting for the dems to do something is sorta like waiting for glaciers to move. So I’ll watch people try to make scary stuff out of flour, eggs and heavy cream. Woot woot!
Oh the dog took over my bed last night. She’s rather like having a space heater blowing directly on you. As she sighs and flops around and settles in as I try to find a comfy position. She’s not a small dog, in other words. But I feel rather honored she chose to stay instead of stomping out to snooze in the living room. So have been up since three thirty. Cause that’s when me and Miz Bridge had to powder our noses. And the owls were hooting away and the coyotes singing the songs of their people.
Hello, various readers and passers stopping by on a snowy evening. Some Bob Frost to start us all on the road to hilarity and good cheer.
I’ve lost count of the rejections this week but it’s a LOT. I either need to write up a new batch of stories, poems and plays or keep sending out the same old crappola. Hoping this time. That time. This time over here.
That it will be different.
Except right now, truth is so much goddamn stranger than any fiction I could fart out or compose while munching French pastry and sipping Italian wine. While seated outside at a sunny cafe in Athens, Greece. I’d write longhand, of course. Using my own blood as ink.
Cause I’m a writer, dangnabbit! That’s a word you hear in old timey cowboy movies as they were not allowed to say ‘god damn it’.
Yes, the American political and all other scenes are just rife with WTF, then topped with Is That An Actual Tweet? followed by Don’t Read the Comments Section, ended with I Am So Done With Social Media, I’m Off To Raise Sunflowers To Help Third World Scarf Herders. Then the cycle starts all over again. With variations.
It’s the downward spiral. It’s the we’re imploding and prolly gonna take the entire world with us. It’s…it’s fucking hot right now.
So my thoughts are roughly—it’s hot. I should write something. About. Something. It’s hot.
Being poor, air conditioning is one of those unheard of, rich people inventions that exist in movies. Sort of kidding. I have a tiny fan. It helps. I go outside, throw water on my squash. I dig out weeds. I hear the hawks raising their kids down the road. Noisy bastards. Shut up, hawks! The corn hides the ditch bank road so the dogs have to listen real hard instead of watching to see who drives to and fro on what they obviously consider their bit of territory. Any engine gets them still and holding their breath. It’s rather creepy-cute.
What to write about. My hot take on politics? Nah, that’s just solid cuss words at this point. Eve Carlin, from hell, shouts out, hey, throw in some other words there. Feminist issues that affect us all? Golly, I’m either too much or too little here or…eh?
Oh!! Sidetrack. Here we go.
Saw the Spy Who Dumped Me. We have free Epix, whatever. So, the plot, eh. Some international whatever, been done a gazillion billion times. However, what’s fresh, you ask? Or haven’t asked at all though you’ve made it this far?
The relationship between the two best friends. Played by Mila Kunis and Kate McKinnon. It rang every true bell. How they support each other, are there for each other, their acceptance of each other’s faults yet the irritation over those faults…it’s all there. I especially found my bell rang over Kate’s character being called ‘too much’ by a lot of people, including the secret spy/boyfriend of Mila’s character. And Mila’s character siding with Kate’s character, then telling her she’s not too much. Ah!! I almost teared up.
As someone who’s been repeatedly called ‘too much’, which I ALWAYS took as—
there’s something very very wrong with me; nobody likes me unless I act quiet and not myself. I am a monster!—
That moment reminded me of what great friends I have.
I could write about my own experiences with people trying to whittle me down to acceptable size.
And never show that writing to anyone because it would be like ripping my face off and gluing a salted strip of razor blades in its place.
How I have the self-esteem of a dead rock and yes, have let other people define me because 99% of those people tell me I’m ‘too much’…!
And when I try to not be a monster, I find that I am silent and limp as moldy lettuce stuck to the gunk under the veggie drawer in the fridge. And that I am angry. Then I explode and people walk about me as if on the most delicate eggshells and…yeah, pattern.
Pattern! Yep. Pattern detected.
So I’ll stick to making up monsters or writing about sexual encounters between dinosaurs and women. Is that still a thing?? What about man’s inhumanity to man?
Oooh! I smell a Nobel outta that one!
I’ll call it Man Being Mean to Men. It will feature no women characters whatsoever. It will just be two white straight guys on a beach arguing over who’s the bigger victim of post-post modern society as the world literally burns. I will use a thesaurus a lot. I will describe their inner penis. A lot.
I suspect if I actually did write something like that, it would probably actually sell.
I’m not bitter.
I am. I am so bitter I’m a walking moldy lemon at this point. Okay.
Rejections fast and furious this week. I’ll not buck up at all. I’ll stew in my own sweat until autumn shows up and it’s STILL FUCKING HOT GOD DAMN IT FUCK FUCK FUCK. But hey, the nights are cooler. I should move to the Artic. Except it’s on fire where they’re not drilling gleefully for oil. Where else is cold?
Minnesota? Maine? Montana? It would have to be within walking distance. How much can I stuff in a backpack? I’ll have to dig up my jars of pennies I buried for a rainy day. Some jars only have one or two pennies in them but hey, that first step, amirite? Amen! A cave, some berries.
I can be the Unibomber without all the baggage.
Holy moley, what a scattershot post. But I felt it important to not write yet another political scream that is only heard by some wide-eyed mice in a deserted choir room.
Hi. My book, House on Clark Boulevard, is on sale over on Amazon until July 22. Go have a read, leave a review. And thanks if you do.
Just got a bit of happy writing news so I thought I’d also post that MY BOOK IS ON SALE RIGHT NOW, GO GET IT FOR YOUR KINDLE OR E-READER AND HEY, LEAVE ME A REVIEW.
Also– try Oregon Gothic. What have you got to lose? Some sleep? Enjoy!
I wrote a scathing diatribe on the political hellscape that is ‘murica lately. Instead, to welcome yet another interminable month in this interminable slog of a life, I’ll write about rocks. I’ll mention two novels that will hit sometime that could be any time, really. And something of mine that got included in a literary journal.
Military parade with a bloated price tag. Tanks. Money to pay for this culled from the national parks and veteran’s programs. With ticket prices, VIP seats! Sumbitch! Kids in cages. But hey, Nike pulled the Betsy Ross flag design and PEOPLE LOST THEIR MINDS CAUSE FREEDOM AND RIGHTS AND HONORING THE TROOPS OR…or…or…mm. Is that blood leaking from my ears?
Yeah, I’m painting rocks. Badly. But it’s been a long time since I’ve painted anything. It seems a lot of people I know have turned to artsy crafty stuff to deal with…the drumbeats that celebrate the end of my country. With those supporting this screaming that we should get over it. With a ‘snowflake’ thrown in there.
I have friends also painting mandalas on rocks, leaving them places. Or writing some inspirational on a pebble, leaving it where others can find it and hopefully get inspired.
I do have a reason for why I’m slapping cheap paint on free rocks.
Last year, I went to the Death Rattle writer’s conference in Nampa, Idaho. I tried to sell some books. I was ill prepared. I didn’t have the fancy bank transaction app on my knock off Chinese-made phone. Where you can take people’s credit cards, run a transaction. Cause I didn’t even know that existed…I’m woefully behind the tech times. I’m also not up with how to sell your shit in these ultra-modern times. So. Learning experience.
I did get out of the house and mingle with others. Plus right there!
So I will attempt another attempt at a booth. You don’t have to pay a fee. Just apply for a spot. It’s held in a small alley by a bar. You sit there and try to smile and look inviting and friendly. Everyone seems to know everyone else. They’re all old friends or at least nodding acquaintances. But this time, for my wares, I intend to offer some art.
This takes place in October so I have the long hot summer to create. Or try to create something I can display without cringing.
I’ll also make some salt clay somethings. I was thinking pendants. One of a kind, small, tasteful, pretty. As I would love something like that and would scrape pennies out of the cup holders in the car to get one. I could also do some Christmas ornaments or even Halloween ornaments. I do write a lot of horror fiction. And it is my fave holiday.
If I focus on this rather pleasant problem, I do not focus on the crud coating my brain or the GODDAMN FUCKERY THAT IS CHEETOLINI and all that. At least, not entirely.
Also, I find other friends painting rocks or quilting. I noticed that Seth Andrews, who does the Thinking Atheist podcast, among other endeavors, got hooked on the Great British Baking Show. He’s been baking. I know tons of folks who love that show and then try to bake. Like, oh, me. Me, I’m one of those.
I am also hooked on baking competition shows. I find baking so oddly fulfilling. I take raw ingredients, produce something roughly like what I saw. I’ve even managed to produce loaves of bread. I’ve moved from just schlupping the dough into a heated up giant cast iron pot into cutting the lump of dough in half, then placing that into bread pans.
I’ve graduated to seeing what I can shape the dough into. Can I braid it or…turn it into something actually pretty or French Bakery-esque?
Yeah, no, not yet. But I haven’t been baking bread for that long and it takes a lot of flour. And yeast. It seems like a lot of people need comfort and an outlet to deal with reality lately. That everyone seems to have picked up some sort of art hobby or baking or throwing away all their stuff in some sort of supercleanse or life enema. I wonder why. I don’t. That was sarcasm. I don’t wonder why at all.
I feel like I’ve got an actual plan here, planning for a booth space I might not even get. But it’s a long-range plan. Longer than “make it through day.”
Ah, a flash fiction piece of mine, By Starlight By Starlight My Dear, is included in the latest edition of A Door is a Jar literary magazine. I had entered an earlier version of this same one that got soundly rejected, with actual criticism sent my way. I rewrote it. It got better. A Door is a Jar accepted it and there ya go.
Oh, so I think I have two books in editing right now. Alice in Oregonlandia, the not at all anticipated sequel to my dead on arrival House on Clark Boulevard. I kid, I kid! You’re supposed to Always Be Closing. That line from the Mamet play, Glengarry Glen Ross.
It takes up about ten years after the end of House. Alice gets a turn. The fall out of Nancy’s time in that house. Alice discovering a few truths about herself. How Art steps up as dad and caregiver.
Aftermath, which is my take on…wait for it…zombies. I know. I know. But!! It follows Hannah as she finds herself in a world run by zombies, after killing herself because she was trapped in a dead end space by zombies. Hannah tries to navigate her way through a vastly changed world, where zombies run everything and have all the political, economic and actual power. Set in Boise, Idaho, because, frankly, it’s an hour down the road from me. I had great fun writing this. Isn’t that the point of all this?
Thank you to everyone who bothers to read these. I appreciate it. I can be a tedious bore with my depression and endless string of failures. My tiny advances that give me a tiny bit of hope that maybe I should keep writing. That maybe today I can find whatever courage or gumption it takes to just keep plugging on.
Plug on, you dull bit of coal. My shout out to Pink Floyd…
You cannot avoid the news. About the American concentration camps housing children in filth, abject starkness, no basic necessities. Like soap. Or tooth paste or a toothbrush. Or diapers for babies and toddlers. Or food beyond enough not to outright starve people.
The GOP frame this as it’s the fault of the Democrats for not funding so and so. That those kids can leave any time. Just walk out. Past armed guards and…go off into the sunset, I guess. That Obama did it first so the GOP and Trump are helpless not to do that as well. The separation of families, the torturing of children, the secrecy and lies. Except it was Jeff Sessions, last year, who put this policy into place.
But what do facts matter when brown people can finally be treated as cockroaches again? Or more than usual.
We hear pundits and amateur alike point out how dangerous the language used is. That it hearkens back to Nazi Germany, to Rwanda, to Cambodia, to places where mass exterminations took place.
Dehumanizing others to make it okay to kill them in heart-stopping numbers. Thousands. Hundred thousands. Millions. Rats. Cockroaches. Scum. Rapists. Diseased. They all carry diseases. They’re all gang members and sex traffickers. So it’s good that we’re taking those kids away. Who are all trained to come here to infiltrate us anyway.
I did read where the Trump Concentration Camps are to be put under the auspices of the military. Which means no oversight. No monitoring. Nobody allowed in who is not authorized. Rather like Guantanamo Bay.
That those kids are being forcibly adopted out, even as parents seek to get reunited with them. Rather like America did with Native American children. Like the Australians did with Aboriginal children. Like Canada did with…There seems to be a pattern here.
The government of the US stepped in, on those reservations. They placed children into boarding schools, cut off their hair, forced them to speak English only, taught them to be farmers or some trade thought suitable to be useful to society. They were not allowed to visit their families. They were not allowed to go home, back to the place they had to call home instead of where their people had been for centuries. As those lands were now plowed under or buried beneath emerging cities. All of this right after the wrenching years of the American Civil War. Once again, the near success of stripping identity and pride away from people deemed less than or not quite human or not human at all.
You hear that Christians built America. You look under that even a little, you see Chinese people laying the tracks for the railroads that would connect the East coast to the West coast. NYC to Frisco. Except you don’t call it Frisco. Those that live there have told me that. But the Chinese were brought over to build the paths for the steel horses, and to fill the brothels and to wash the clothes and cook the food. To be laborers of all kinds, in every way. Families back in China sold their children during that time period, or sold themselves or got on boats heading to the brash new country as there was a horrific drought at that time.
Rather like the Irish and the Great Potato Famine era.
Rather like the American-helped drug wars happening in other parts of the Americas in current time.
Droughts, famines, man-made horrors that seemingly have no end, can and do send people to escape them, outlive them. Refugees. Outcasts. Seekers. They all have individual names. They are all humans. Same as I am.
There is a massacre of Chinese gold miners in my own back forty, so to speak. In Hells Canyon, the great rift in Northeast Oregon, very western Idaho. A group of about thirty people were slaughtered. They had set up a mining claim on the Snake River, the river that gouged the canyon out of the rocks same as the Colorado did the Grand Canyon. They had some success.
There’s gold yet in Eastern Oregon mountains, streams, lakes and rivers. You can stop and pan for gold alongside the freeway if you like. At least you used to. I haven’t driven up there for a while, it might be gone.
White men crept up on this peaceful group. Killed them, wounded them, took their gold. Some of the men were founders of Joseph, Oregon. Which is named for a Nez Perce leader who very nearly won against the US cavalry. If you don’t know that story, you should look it up. It will break whatever’s left of your heart. But he got a town named for him, set against the truly lovely Wallowa Lake. You can take a paddleboat out on it. You can walk around and look at the art and statues. You can attend Chief Joseph Days. In honor of a defeated cockroach.
The men who killed the Chinese were not punished. There was a sort of trial. No convictions. Everyone knew they had done this but the Chinese were regarded as a necessary evil, a blight. They were not granted the right to seek citizenship. Their customs, language and way of life were considered disposable or laughable. Bodies of those that had died had to be buried in China or the spirits of the dead could not find rest.
The laws regarding those from Asia said that Asians were not welcome. They had been brought here as children or…what does it matter. I guess. It’s old history. It has no bearing on anything today.
It seems all I have left is a ghostly wisp of sarcasm. A faint wraith with no power left to startle or actually haunt. I cannot even muster up a good sneer or that dry tone needed to deliver the deft blows of a well-placed absurdity into the squawkings about ‘illegals and gang bangers here to ruin ‘murica’.
I am not surprised that Christians justify what is going on now at the border and elsewhere with those whose skin marks them as targets. That seething hatred to dominate and oppress seems built into the foundations of that religion. It has never been about love. It’s been about domination, conquest and erasing all opponents as ruthlessly as possible. I might be exaggerating. I don’t think I am.
It’s my religion as well. At least it was. Brought up a Missouri Synod Lutheran, a Protestant. Martin Luther started an actual holy war with the Catholic Church back in 1495 or so. I was baptized. I was confirmed as a member of the congregation. My grandparents were staunch Lutherans.
I cannot see either of them going along with what’s going on now. Their two sons do. My dad. My uncle. They are both Fox junkies; they shoot up on Hannity and Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson instead of heroin. They cry fake news in echo of their lord and savior. They go off into that haze, that high, with a blissful smile.
But I cannot see my grandparents, who were alive for WWII, condoning this. I might be coloring them with rosy lights here but I honestly do not think my church-going grandparents who both spoke other languages and were one generation or so from being migrants themselves, would clap and cheer at children in concentration camps.
Whatever faith I might have had in God has leaked away like dirty water into the sand. Evaporated. I think today I am finally admitting I no longer believe. It’s been a long time coming, as the song goes. I look at my country. I listen to the people around me grumbling about illegals. About how Trump is trying to save us and the lefties won’t get in line to let that happen.
My despair is profound, and awful.
There are children being kept in inhumane conditions in overcrowded cages. We are arguing over what to name such a thing. We are arguing that it’s just a matter of Democrats not willing to give ICE some funding or send funds toward the wall. That there’s a crisis at the border and the Democrats want a flood of…
Everything is broken. Another song title from Dylan. But it’s apt here. Never again. Just words after all.
I skimmed an aggressively positive art-related how to blog correctly post, as you do. When you’re scrolling with a bored WTF am I doing with my life? air over on Twitter or elsewhere.
The social media sites that seem to be the wildly popular versus those who are not, with nobody-land, right there in the middle of those two extremes, being virtually uninhabited. It’s an either/or world when it comes to likes for a post across the social media global-sphere.
Whatever! Totes my goats!
So! 80 percent ‘helpful’ content for those who bother to ‘stop by’ for a visit and 20 percent SELL YOUR WARES. 80/20 which equals a hundred!
So, here’s my advice for writers.
Do not follow my example, ever. There!!
Whatever I do, writers and wannabe writers…you do the opposite. Glad I could help.
Ha ha ha, okay.
I should work up a list of writerly advice. So those that ‘stop by’ can chuckle, shake their heads or nod with wide-eyed wonder at my deep nearly unfathomable wisdom.
It’s an either-or world lately.
I must reflect that here…instead of writing a fifty page monologue with no paragraph breaks entitled, simply, “manifesto”.
Which would basically just be cuss words arranged in, hopefully, some new and startling formations, and which will end with ‘death to all enemies of unicorns’.
Because actually naming your enemy or enemies in revenge-minded cuss word-laced pages means I might have to start a GoFundMe page for a team of lawyers to get me off on the insanity plea.
All of which would make for the blog posts that the blogger who gave the rules for successful art blogging warned against!
Number one rule for writers from me? I guess it’s write. Yeah. Write stuff down. Send it off. Wait for the rejections. It’s a fun and fulfilling cycle that will turn you into a stellar human ‘bean’. Ha ha.
Always end on a happy, jokey note. Develop a heavy thick skin would be my other rule…or pretend to. You can sob in private, after all. You can pretend really hard in public.
That’s what adulting is, after all.
Oh– I have two books for sale. Two!
Oregon Gothic and House on Clark Boulevard.
I also might have Aftermath coming out soon. It’s been in editing for a while, so.
After that will probably be The Remarkable Women of Brokenheart Lane. I’m reading through that now and it’s a hoot! I’m not puking over how bad my own prose is! That’s always a plus plus plus! Cannibal bikers versus wily old ladies in Fallon, Nevada! It’s funny and a lot gross!