Sunday, March 27, 2011

Blasphemy And Other Avocations

Living in an area with a high concentration of Christians whose religion is only slightly less restrictive than the Amish faith, it was refreshing to be surrounded by people celebrating the Hindu holiday of, well, Holi Day.

Lathmar Holi, also known as the "Festival of Color," has been going on in other parts of the world for around 5000 years. But according to the coverage presented by our local Fox affiliate, the Lotus Temple in Spanish Fork, Utah is the only place where the Festival of Colors is celebrated in the United States.

Too bad for the rest of you non-Utah people because it was awesome.

This was our first excursion, the Kid and I. I'd passed the Hari Krishna Temple last fall on our way to Moab, and it's a beautiful building.

Situated on a hill surrounded by farmland, cars were parked on the side of the main road for miles. With my penchant for being early, we got a great spot across the street and only paid $5 to park. Being from Chicago, I can tell you that $5 to park in the middle of some dude's cow pasture is a hella deal.

So that was a win, and we didn't have to wait in line very long to buy the colored chalk-like powder you throw in the air, and at people, and on stuff… And sometimes you just rub it in someone's hair. And the powder is also scented, which is good, because if most of the other people were like us, they also eschewed their daily shower until they got home, knowing they'd be covered. What we didn't know was how hard it would be to breathe while the throwing is going on and next year we will make sure we do the following:

Wear a bandanna and sunglasses.

White and black clothes bring out the brightness of the colors.

Cover your camera in plastic wrap.

Bring someone you love.

In other news, Zita, the most recent foster cat, found her forever home this weekend with a friend of mine. We met while volunteering for Sundance, share the same initials, and worked on a movie together a few years back. She saw the kitty on Facebook, decided to visit her at an adoption event, and fell in love. She is both pleased and astonished at Zita's tenacious personality and is happy to be able to give her a forever home. However, our big fluffy white dog Luna, who thought the cat was her pet, has been searching for Zita for two days now.

But she'll get over it.

My short, Splitting The Difference is available from and everyone who purchases a copy between now and December 2012 gets a free Mayan Calendar!*

*Not really. Have you any idea how much shipping would be? Those puppies are made of stone. Plus if you liked it you wouldn't be able to get another one for 2013 because the World's supposed to end.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Monkeys Need Not Apply

I love gadgets. I get that from my dad. He loved gadgets with a passion that was only surpassed by his affection for watching TV. And if you combined Television with gadgets, he was in Heaven. While other families had to make do with watching a show and then using their brains to remember things about it, we had a VCR. Less fortunate families were stuck cooking with something as archaic as fire. We had a microwave. And I cannot even recall the amount of remote controllers we cycled through in a decade.

So you can imagine my bitter disappointment as an adult that all the things my generation was promised back in the 60's (cities springing up on the moon where we live in big oxygen filled domes; self cleaning houses, flying cars and personal robots to do all the drudge work; a cure for the common cold, etc) have not yet come to fruition. The closest thing we have to a self cleaning house and robots, besides hoards of illegal immigrants doing menial work for low pay and no benefits, is the Roomba robotic vacuum. And the only reason why I have not run right out and bought one is I'm sure the dog hair in my house would kill it pretty damn quick. If I did get a Roomba I'd also have to get a little monkey to pluck the gobs of hair out of it every ten minutes, and monkeys, according to Mr. Slave Driver, make nasty pets. The pet monkey he knew sat on top of his friend's television, masturbated, and flung crap at house guests.

If I want to see that, I'll watch MTV.

Okay, back to the topic of gadgets: Besides having a Kindle, which is a high tech reading device, I recently purchased a low tech reading device called a Book Hugger. My friend and fellow writer Clancy Metzger and I saw this demonstrated by the inventor, Paul,

at the
Tucson Festival of Books and decided it was a "Must Have."

Clancy and I both purchased Book Huggers, because we liked the idea of having something else hold our books for us. In my case it's because, as everyone should have figured out by now, I'm really lazy. And I like to read while I eat. Sometimes propping a book up across the TV remote or using the remote to keep the book open to the pages I'm reading (both low tech uses for a high tech object, essentially using a remote as a rock) doesn’t work out so well. Plus then Mr. Slave Driver, who likes to watch TV while he eats, cannot randomly change channels every 2.3 seconds. Because I'm using the remote for a purpose it was not designed for.

Enter the Book Hugger.

What this device does is hold your book, making reading almost hands free.

When I initially showed my people the Book Hugger they mocked me and said soon I'd develop tiny, useless Tyrannosaurus Rex arms, good for not much more than wobbling around, scaring off crows in a cornfield.

But then I showed them how you can prop it on its side and read in bed and they were impressed. Plus it has a light, and extends. Eventually they became sullen and wished I'd bought one for them, since I was on an out of town trip and am expected to bring gifts upon my return.

I really like this product, and not in a Facebook "Like" way, which only gives you the one option. It's a useful tool. You still have to turn the pages, unless you own a monkey, in which case you can train your monkey to turn the pages for you. That is, when he's not pleasuring himself with the zeal of Charlie Sheen or flinging crap at people from atop your television set.

Book Hugger. Get one. And the light. Buy one of those too.

*Do not get a monkey.

On another note, I only need to sell 1,096,632 more copies of my short story, Splitting The Difference, in order to buy that $329,000.00 RV I covet. And only another seven copies to get paid! So tell your friends, it's available through

*Monkey option not available through

Monday, March 7, 2011

Cats And Dogs, Living In Sin

Our foster cat, Zita, has been here a little over a week now, and, well, things are not quite right…

When we disclosed to the director of the foster cat program that having a more dog friendly cat might be better for the cat, we were thinking about how miserable poor Wednesday was. Because of her dog induced anxiety, she limited herself to the basement, and although she craved human/cat interaction, she only got it when someone went downstairs to spend quality time with her. But even around people she could be skittish and shy.

Enter Zita.

At twice the poundage of Wednesday, she began her reign of feline dictatorship subtlety, and with panache. At first, she feigned submission, crouching down and flattening her ears while Luna motorboated her repeatedly.

Luna is a sweet dog, but she's about as gentle as elephant strip-searching a peanut vendor.

After pointedly ignoring Luna's shoving her around, looking for who knows what, Zita finally had enough and began to school Luna in the fine art of diplomacy. A small bite, here, a grabbing of the muzzle there, until finally Luna got a scratch on her nose, and quit her harassment.

And that's about as close as we’ve gotten here to d├ętente.

Here is a photographic play-by-play of the events:

Zita is just hanging around on the coffee table minding her own business...

First come the sneak...

Then comes the nose poke.

Then we have the wrestling.

And the in your face antaginism.


And finally, a truce in the hallway.

Shamefull, I know.

And at least when the foster cat stands up for herself, I don’t have to get in the middle of it.

Warning: Flagrant self promotion ahead:
My short, Splitting the Difference, is available for download at in Kindle format. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download a free Kindle app for iPhone/iPad/iTouch or PC here. I'm working in getting the short up on Smashwords. I am kind of lazy, but you should know that by now.