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Tuesday, February 26, 2008


This is just for fun.

I’ve been paying close attention to the subject of similes on Nathan Bransford’s blog. While anything can be over used in writing, I’m glad many of the writers defended similes. Reminders of writing blunders are absorbed usually like the criticism was written in stone. :) I’d like to make an observation pertaining to one of my favorite uses of a simile in my writing as well as what I read. I’ve read novels where the author describes a main character as looking or behaving like a very well known public figure, and it fits perfectly for me throughout the remainder of the novel. It’s not because the author was too lazy in descriptive phrasing. The usage fit a need perfectly. They wanted the reader to picture a certain person, many times as I believe they pictured the character while writing. Many times a well placed simile accomplishes what dialogue identifiers do, and readers generally register the comparison as they would an identifier. Just as we don’t really see ‘said’ when we read, other than a guide to who is speaking, readers generally file away the image a simile makes just as perfunctorily. Because agents and publishers read a vast amount of writing samples, and decide they’re tired of seeing certain identifiers or similes, it’s a bit self absorbed to subjectively yank writing tools out of our hands.

The guardians of the publishing universe proclaim no more adverb modifiers, and then no more dialogue identifiers, and now no more similes. Pretty soon, we’ll be writing: ‘See Dick run. Does Jane see him run?’ :)

Thursday, February 21, 2008


I was making out invoices in the office when a middle nineties Jeep drove up into the shop. Exiting the office, and paying more attention to the shape of the jeep, I missed the customer who had ducked out from the driver’s side. Now at some point over thirty years, just about every example of hair styles, pin cushion faces, and tattoos have stopped by either in a vehicle or walking in off the street. Although I’ve seen mild variations of the hair style my visitor sported, it is the most extreme I’ve seen to date. The kid was probably in his late teens, and just under six feet tall. His head was shaved but for a light colored fan of hair like you see on a pheasant, spiked up in a semicircle from his forehead to the back of his neck, nearly a foot long. I kept thinking he would break out in a cock-a-doodle-doo, and start strutting around, hands on waist. I’ll call my young visitor Rooster Cogburn.

“Can I help you,” I manage to say without cracking even a smile.

“I want you to install hydraulics on my Jeep,” Rooster told me.

“Do you mean wheel cylinders, calipers, and master cylinder on your brakes?” I asked.

“No man!” Rooster looks at me like I just fell from Mars. “You know… those kits for making the Jeep jump up and down.”

“No, I don’t do that type of work, only general repair and diagnostics,” I answer politely. “I don’t do…”

Rooster Cogburn waves me off. He has a call. Rooster turns so I get a profile shot of him as he talks animatedly to someone on his cell-phone, all the while bobbing his head and fan. I was impressed. Rooster tells his phone mate to hang on, and gives me a raised brow look, which is when I first noticed Mr. Cogburn had matching bars through his eyebrows. The hair had captivated me and I missed the face decorations.

“Well… can you do it or not?”


“Fine…” Rooster jumps in the Jeep and leaves, half his hair fan bent into the Jeep roof.

I should have saved Rooster for Layla. :)

Saturday, February 16, 2008


I get numerous telemarketers calling the business every day. As most folks know, when you answer these calls, you get dead air for a time before some machine clicks into the telemarketer. Therefore, people get five seconds to at least clear their throat, and then I hang up. I had a beauty on Friday. While laying on my back putting in a starter for a 1984 Olds, the portable phone rings next to me. I answer with my usual refrain, which gives people plenty of time to talk. Dead air, so I hung up. Five minutes later, the phone rings, same thing. The third time when I answer, an out of breath woman comes on within my acceptable range.

“Hi… there’s something… wrong with your phone,” Telesue informs me.

“Oh, how so? I can hear you fine, can I help you?”

“Your phone keeps hanging up on me.”

“It’s not now, so how can I help you?”

“Is this Bernard?”

I start laughing, because as everyone knows this is how they start their spiel. Is this such and such? How are you today, Sir? I decide to play it a little further though, blog notes ringing in my head.

“Yes, you’ve reached Nilson Brothers Garage, how can I help you?”

“How are you today, Sir?”

Yep. “Fine, can I help you?”

She starts the sales pitch for some web site sales thing-a-ma-jig. I hang up. She calls back.

“See,” Telesue says, after I answer, “your phone did it again, Sir.”

“Nope, that was me. Here it is again.” I hung up.

I know this seems rude; but if I had conversations with every telemarketer so I wouldn’t hurt their feelings, I wouldn’t have time to work. These people are relentless, and the laws haven’t slowed them down at all. They block the caller ID filters, and spam you no matter what you do. The real beauties are the robot callers. Who in the world listens to a sales pitch from some machine; and yet it must be the new craze, because my answering machine is full of them when I come to work. :)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Two Wheels


Having heard the motion detector, I was already walking toward this guy on a bike, but he continued yelling out ‘Yo’ until I spoke from five feet away. It was then I noticed the ‘Yo’s’ had filled the air in front of him with hundred proof spirits. Miraculously, the bike rider still sat his bike in an upright position.

“I hear you, Sir. How can I help you?” Since I hadn’t turned on the air compressor yet, I was hoping he needed air. He wouldn’t be getting any, because I don’t start up the massive compressor to give out freebie air.

He spoke for a couple minutes, gesturing at his bike, but it might as well have been Russian or Latin. I didn’t understand a word of it.

“I didn’t understand a word you said, Sir,” I informed him, because the truth is always the best path. “Slow your speech down, and speak clearly.”

The bike rider launched again, turning the volume up, but not slowing down or enunciating.

“I’m not deaf,” I cut him off. “Slow down, and speak clearly.”

Two Wheels stares at me with the look of disgust only a guy who has chugged down a pint of something powerful and cheap at ten in the morning can. “My… handlebars. I need you to loosen the bolt so I can change positions.”

“See, that wasn’t so hard,” I give him a parting shot as I go over and get the socket wrench, socket, and extension for doing his bidding.

I loosen the bolt. He sits without moving the handlebars he’s still gripping. I can tell in his eyes, Two Wheels’ morning pick-me-up is really kicking in.

“You wanted to change the handlebar position,” I remind Two Wheels.

“Huh?” Two Wheels slowly focuses.

“The handlebars,” I repeat. “Put them in the position you like and I’ll tighten the bolt up again.”

“What’s wrong… with my handlebars?”

I start laughing, and he does too. I show him he can move the handlebars up or down now, and Two Wheels gets the picture finally. He moves them all over, studiously testing different feels, and then returns them to the original position.

“Yea, man, right there,” Two Wheels says, a satisfied look on his face as he’s holding the handle bar grips. “Tighten it up.”

I tighten the bolt. I’m happy if Two Wheels is happy.

“Thanks, can you loan me a dollar?”


Two Wheels nods and turns the bike around with some difficulty. He misses the edge of my big door frame on his way to the sidewalk by a hair of the dog he’d had earlier. I turned to put my tools away, resisting the temptation to watch him navigate the street.

Where’s Layla when I need her? :)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

In Honor Of Valentine's Day

A funny walk on the male side of Valentine's Day. I wrote this for my wife, who hates Valentine's Day. Warning! This is not a Hallmark Card poem. :)

A day set aside for all lovers to rock,

Valentine*s Day, what a vile crock.

This sugar sweet con makes me hurl,

Perhaps as a Valentine*s Day mural.

Feminist Icons preach against man,

But on V-Day he must give all he can,

While listening to the hypocrites whine,

Man must lavish gifts, wine and dine.

Oh, the mockery of these evil creatures,

As they mask their disdainful features,

Secretly laughing at the pitiful hope,

Pasted on the face of their male dope.

Soon, instead of tight dresses and hose,

She wears sweatpants and headache woes.

Gone in a flash are makeup and lipstick,

Replaced by wool and curlers real quick.

The poor sap, having delivered the goods,

Finds he might as well sleep in the woods.

His V-Day siren vanished before his eyes,

Leaving a vapor trail of excuses and lies.

She sprang to her bed, without even a whistle,

Dashing his dreams like the down of a thistle,

He heard her exclaim as she dove out of sight,

Happy V-Day to me, now turn out the light.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

A Wave In Antarctica

This picture is in a series of shots taken in Antarctica, where the water breaks through and immediately freezes. Breathtaking. Oh yeah, and Layla and Cole #7. :)

“How come you don’t wish us rich and living in a mansion?” Layla asked, leaning provocatively over the Toyota Corolla fender as Cole worked through his lunch hour to get the customer’s front disc brake job done.

Cole straightened from where he had been using a vacuum tank to suck brake fluid from the Toyota’s master cylinder reservoir. His irritated growl evoked an appreciative laugh from Layla.

“I told you, we’ll do something special when our vacation comes up. Stan always closes the shop so everyone goes on vacation at the same time.”

“You ducked the question again.”

“It’s not me, Layla. If you want to live in a mansion, go live in a mansion. I’ll come visit you. How’s that sound?”

“It sounds like I’d get replaced by that cheap tart, Jill the moment I left,” Layla retorted. “I saw her getting chummy with you this morning. Perhaps a few hours rolling around in her ball would…”

“We were doing a wire trace, you…” Cole shut up, and went back to work as Layla started laughing again.

“I so got you, Wolfy,” Layla pointed the forefinger and middle fingers of her right hand at her eyes and then at Cole repeatedly. “Jill and I are getting along pretty well, but I’m watching you.”

“I’ll make a note.”

“Hey, for vacation, why don’t we play American Werewolf in Paris.”

It was Cole’s turn to laugh. He finished vacuum flushing the system, and put the wheels back on the Toyota. After making sure everything was clean, Cole let the Toyota down off the lift, and backed it out. Returning from test driving the Toyota, he joined Layla in the office where she finished the billing. Cole sat down at her desk with a cup of coffee.

“I have an idea. Why don’t we go out at night like superheroes, and get some bad guys,” Cole suggested. “We could be crime-fighters. You’d be entertained, and I’d work out some aggression. Can I wish to be a werewolf whenever I want instead of only during nights with a full moon?”

“You’re joking, right? Having you jump out and scare the crap out of me, along with the apartment smelling like wet dog once a month is plenty.”

“You won’t let me experiment with being Dracula, so…”

“Turn that record over, will ya’? Okay, so if I let you be a werewolf, and we go out like Batman and Robin, what do I get to be?” Layla asked, cutting off Cole’s vampire spiel.

“I don’t know. What can you change into?”

“The only thing I can change on me is my clothes.”

“You could change your abrasive attitude,” Cole suggested.

“Oh… you are so lucky,” Layla shook her head as if mourning a loss. “If you weren’t immune to my magic, you’d be Cole the gerbil so fast your little furry head would spin right off.”

“How about Super-Djinn?” Cole asked, changing the conversational direction. Cole remembered he was verbally baiting a creature powerful enough to change reality. “Or you could be Magical Mamma.”

“Those… those are so lame,” Layla laughed. “I’ll be the Mistress of Menace.”

“Not bad,” Cole agreed.

“You can be Amazing Dog-Boy and my costume will be one of those t-shirts that say ‘I’m with stupid’. I’ll make it with a revolving arrow which always points at you.”

“You’re not taking my suggestion for adventure very seriously,” Cole remarked, as Layla immediately created the t-shirt with fluorescent animated arrow, turning to demonstrate its versatility. “I’ll wish for clothing capable of changing with my form.”

“Why don’t I just take you on a leash? I’ll bring along a rolled up newspaper, and I can train you while we’re waiting for a crime to happen.”

Cole stood up. “Maybe I’ll go see if Jill’s back from lunch.”

“Sit down, you still have fifteen minutes left,” Layla ordered. “We’ll try out your adventure tonight; but don’t blame me when I end up in jail, and you end up in the dog pound.”