Monday, May 30, 2011

The Sound Of Silence

There is nothing like a nice, quiet long weekend,,,,this one has been nothing like it. On the plus side, I have my kids staying over for 5 days, but the negative side is that they have commandeered our TV, inflicting upon us a series of insanely loud kids programming.

It didn't start that way though. We started out with a couple of live soccer games, although my screaming during these events must have been pretty grating to the wee ones. From there we switched to watching a 10 episode marathon of Band Of Brothers. Great stuff, but I went to bed last night believing my ear had been nicked by a piece of flying shrapnel. It was so bad, the gentle swooshing of the page turn son my NOOK, sounded like an incoming tsunami.

Today is the worst, to the point of being unbearable. My daughter has the remote and I have been spoon fed a steady diet of Teen Nicks shows, all of which I have seen (ok, mostly heard) over the past few months. They all seem the same to me, a host of chattering teens who seem to think that comedy involves yelling, screaming, and flailing around like a zombie in a blender. I can hear it all even when I am a vacuuming, and can't take it anymore. All of this despite the fact the kids have a lovely TV in their room, upstairs and away from the delicate ears of their curmudgeonly father. Yet it is I who am forced upstairs with my laptop. Funny thing is, i can't even hear the sound of the keys tapping, instead I am forced to listen to the high pitched ringing in my ears, identical to the sound you get when you lay down and close your eyes after a night of heavy boozing. The room may not be spinning, but the call of beer is now breaking through the din.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

100th Post

What a big day this is turning out to be. It's the European Cup Final (I refuse to call it by it's new name), featuring Manchester United and Barcelona, and now I have just noticed that this will represent a century of useless posts on this blog. How to celebrate such a momentous occasion? By begging for more help of course.

I have 2 requests today. The first is to ask you all to help promote my posts a viewshound (a new site I have started writing for). You can find my stuff by clicking here

The second comes with a prize (woohoo). Download my short story, The Tweener (it's free) and leave a review. The best review (good or bad, be honest) will receive a copy of my collection of shorts, Behind These Eyes Of Sleep. Of course, if you think the short sucked, you may not want that prize.....oops. You can download the short by clicking here.

Thank you all who take the time to read the stuff I post here, looking forward to posting the next 100.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Book Download Here!!

Get it now with Paypal. The ideal Christmas gift in May....

Sixty Seconds - The Umbrella

I love doing this blog, but it has kinda gotten away from what I initially intended. The idea was to have this a place to post story ideas, snippets, and such, but it has become more of a humor blog with rants about boozing and public restrooms. Those will not go away, as they are fun to do, but I also want to get back to my storytelling roots as it were. With that in mind, I am going to start doing some of the creative prompts form the Sixty Second Writer blog . The challenge I am giving myself is to write a piece relevant to the challenge, but to do so without any real thought after my initial idea. I am just going to let my fingers roll and see what comes.....no edits, no tweaking, just pure stream of consciousness writing.....that has always been the style I have used in the past. Without any further rambling, here is today's effort, inspired by this challenge.


Under That Umbrella
The irony hung heavier than the storm clouds that threatened to wash away the assembly of mourners. It appeared to me an act of God's sick humor that the boy should go into the ground in the same sort of weather that had contributed to his death. It could be argued that alcohol played a bigger part than the rain slicked roads, but that is one that will be decided by the courts, rather than the big man upstairs.
The sound of the falling rain acts as a mute button to the cries and wails of the family, but I can still feel their sorrow. It is a force that penetrates to the marrow, tearing at flesh and battering through the makeshift shield of my gaudily colored umbrella, a splash of bright that appears in sharp contrast to the funereal black.
I hang my head and pray, not just for the boy, but for forgiveness for the crime of ending his life.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Around The World In 80 Beers - Saturday

Saturday heralded in another scorching Georgia day, and we welcomed the sunshine by getting up at the crack of 11. It was a quick clean up as we were keen to get our drink on before the 6PM apocalypse. First stop though was a cool little diner for breakfast. I hammered back more pig than is good for the heart, washing it down with a vat of coffee and some french toast. As we left, Penny could not stop staring at the delicious looking cakes they had on display, a fascination that almost sent her toppling of the little step of the exit.

Taco Mac - Our first stop of the day after an energy sapping 30 second walk up main street. We did also stop at a chef equipment store where Penny had a look at some of the high quality knives on display. The high speed slicing and dicing maneuvers just reinforced the fact that I will never stray to the arms of another woman, lest I piss her off. We had a couple of wobbly pops here, an IPA called Widmer Nelson that almost made me weep, so delicious was it's travel down my throat.

The Marlay House - My new favorite place in Decatur. They bill themselves as, "a bit of Dublin in Decatur", and I have to say the description is apt, as that place added a wee bit of color to my Celtic roots. The food was spectacular (risotto balls and sausage rolls), but not enough time to sample all the stuff we wanted. Service great, and the customers were fantastic too. met a great guy from South Africa and we had a real laugh. We decided at this point that a coffee might be in order before we ate, so we hit a little java spot, then a book store (new Anthony Bourdain book for Pen), before deciding on sushi (a major surprise that I agreed).

Cafe Lily - Not the sushi place, but a needed stopping off point as the coffee and beer decided to leave my body from all emergency exits, except my mouth. The duck walk was back in full effect as we searched for a place for me to start evacuation proceedings. Funnily enough, the duck walk was accompanied by my yelling, "AFLAC", or something very similar. We stopped for a drink after I rendered their washrooms uninhabitable. I had a beer and a rye called RI....very nice. Penny opted for some fruity vodka concoction that tasted like Carmen Miranda's hat.

From there we headed to the sushi place, the name of which I can't remember. Service was terrible, food mediocre at best, and the Sapporo premium beer was premium piss. Unwilling to let the weekend end on such a sour note, we stopped of at a place called, the Blue Ribbon Grill. This was the spot where we would hang out when we first started dating. It is also the place where we both realized, at the same time funnily enough, that we were in love. sappy yes, but it still warms me to sit there with my lady. You will notice there is no link to that location, that's because it's ours and I'd like to keep it that way, thank you.

All in all, a great weekend, and one that I don't think either of us will ever forget.

Around The World In 80 Beers - Friday

The famous Scottish poet, Robert Burns, once said, "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft agley." Simply put, it means that no matter how well we plan things out, they seldom go as we wished them to. On occasion though, plan B often ends up way better than what we had set out to do in the first place. Such was the case this weekend when Penny and I had decided to take in the Atlanta Silverbacks pro soccer game on Friday night. Much to our dismay, the game was cancelled, but a better plan formed over a couple of beers at our local. We decided to head to our favorite metro Atlanta spot, Decatur, grab a hotel for the night, and hit the great little bar scene that thrives down there.....here is how it went, with links to the hotspots.

Raging Burrito - We started out in their awesome little garden patio. A cozy, dimly lit spot with a fantastic beer collection. We had a couple of brews and split a quesadilla, which Penny managed to mispronounce twice in classic Napoleon Dynamite style.

Mac Mcgee - Our favorite bar in Decatur, or so we thought. I switched to Kilkenny, a deliciously creamy Irish beer, and Penny moved on to Weinstepahner, a heffe, cloudier than a Scottish winter day. Tiredness hit me hard there (rough day at work), and I got quickly pantsed (shitfaced).That did not stop us from another, 2am pub stop.

The Brick Store Pub - Probably the most pretentious spot in town, but the beer selection is unequaled, especially in their upstairs Belgian bar. We sat outside, Penny enjoying the Georgia warmth, me working on my moon tan. I ordered an absolutely unpronounceable Belgian craft beer, but in truth, just saying Bud Light would have been a challenge at this point.

From there we jumped a cab for the 2 block ride home. As I had mentioned earlier, I had a long, hard day at work in a stiflingly hot environment which had left me somewhat chaffed in a few rather precious spots. I could have walked, but would have just ended up looking like a duck with rickets, as well as adding to the tenderness.

Saturdays events coming up shortly.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The End Is Nigh

Writing this blog has been way more fun than I ever imagined. I started it as a bit of a writing exercise, hoping to jump start some ideas for the short fiction pieces that fuel my creative fire. All good things must come to an end though, and this blog, along with the rest of the world will cease to exist as of 6 PM on Saturday, May 21st.

In case you missed it, Harold Camping (a certified lunatic IMHO) has revealed that a massive earthquake will start at 6PM in every location around the world (starting in New Zealand, as they are the first spot to hit 6PM), destroying our planet in a mighty, biblical meltdown. I'd be terrified were it nor for the fact the Mr Camping first stated this would happen back in 1994, but had to re-adjust the date after he realized that he had somehow miscalculated his bible readouts. It would seem that his Commodore 64 was not up to handling his Armageddon App, but Windows 7 handled it nicely. All this hooha has religious folks around the world getting right with God, and preparing for the rapture by hitting their local Piggly Wiggly, and stocking up on beef jerky.

This whole thing kinda reminds me of the Y2K frenzy, a time when people believed all the computers would crash, sending us back to the technological stone age. We were told there would be chaos, anarchy in the streets, murder and mayhem. Even Wal-Mart couldn't handle the crush as ordinary folks loaded up on new world essentials such as water, bread, milk, ground to air missiles, and toilet paper. It was somewhat refreshing to think that, amid the madness, people were still concerned with the freshness of their bowels.

I have a feeling that Saturday will pass in much the same way as the last day of 1999 did....with a whimper. If the worst should happen, and the world starts coming apart at the seams, then I will kiss my wife, hug my kids, tell them I love them.....then probably open a 24 pack of Guinness, roll a big fatty and listen to this golden oldie.......

Monday, May 16, 2011

Hair Of The Dog

We all have those childhood moments that we try to erase from our memories, so that we may recall our formative years as being free of any kind of torment. My worst moment was brought back in stunning detail when, just last week, a friend of mine had a rather nasty chunk of ass bitten into by a roaming street thug puppy.

I must have been around 11 or 12 years old, in the midst of a dreary Scottish winter (let's be honest, all seasons in Scotland are dreary). We had just been hit with a fair dump of snow, a fairly rare occurrence in my neck of the woods, and we had constructed a fantastic slide on the sidewalk of our street. To make said slide, we had to tramp down the snow, whilst carefully applying cold water to make a long, deathly slippery patch of ice where we could demonstrate our sliding skills. The goal here was not a triple toe loop, or a full twisting sukahara. Oh No!! It was, "THE WEE MAN". The idea was to take a long run up, hit the slide at full speed, then crouch down, arms spread with arse as close to the ground as possible. This was not an easy task for me as i was a spindly, long legged beanpole of a lad, but I am proud to announce that I tore the rear out of more than 1 pair of trousers, such was my proximity to the street on my wee man runs.

A bunch of us were out on the street, honing our skills, when a neighborhood dog, and well known biter, pounced on us like an out of control jungle cat. We scattered in all directions, the flame eyed, slobber-toothed hellhound (or whippet to give it it's proper name), making a beeline for one of my friends. I pounded the pavement, only a short distance to the safety of my house. The bastard pooch, unable to catch my friend, turned to me, and quickly ran me down. He proceeded to sink his teeth into my arm, before turning to my pants, trying to get a grip that would bring me to the ground. I screamed like an overzealous porn star, desperately trying to keep my drawers up so as my pathetic little pee pistol (I was 11 people, there has been some personal growth in that area since then) would not be exposed to the world.

No-one came to help. Not even my sister who was across the street babysitting for friends. She heard the screams, the calls to Mummy, and the pleas to God and baby Jesus for a life saving bolt of lightning, but she chose that moment to find some serious humor in my predicament (tears of joy still spring to her eyes when we recall the event). I finally made it to the front door, and with a Herculean effort I freed the jaws of Anubis from my arm.

That's not where the horror ends I'm afraid. A quick phone call to my working Mum, and then a cab ride to hospital was where the true indignity of the day began. I was examined by a burly nurse who exclaimed that the skin had been broken and a tetanus shot would be required. She spayed a cold, soothing anesthetic on my wound and said she would return with the shot in a moment. The pain quickly receded, and I began to feel somewhat better. Better that is until she returned with a phalanx of assistants, all needed to hoist the massive spear looking needle into the waiting room. My sphincter tightened at the sight, something that must have been clearly visible to the entire health team when my pants were dropped for the injection. As the needle pierced my right buttock, I wondered aloud why my arm had been frozen and not my tender, virgin buttocks. No reason was ever given, but I am sure that shower of bastards probably had a good laugh at my discomfort over their lunch break.

The next week to 10 days was agony, as the simple act of walking or climbing stairs became agony. I had a bruise that resembled the map of the Lost World Of Atlantis on my ass cheek, and 1 week after my attack, another kid was bitten and the dog finally put to sleep. It's a funny thing that when I recall that evening, it's not the howling, growling or teeth gnashing that set my skin crawling, rather it's the witch like cackling of my sister as she witnessed my impending demise that keeps me awake. She is here visiting now, and I am sure I will get to hear that cruel laugh one more time as she reads this, then it's back to blotting out the memory.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

It's Getting Hot In Here

It's that time of year when sun worshipers rejoice, and the needle on the thermometer starts creeping into the 90's. The ATL is currently living up to its Hotlanta nickname, and I am in misery. I do not do well in the sun, especially that sticky, muggy, rancid kind that is usually only found in the Amazon jungle or Charlie Sheen's underpants. The sun's brilliant rays play havoc with my delicate Scottish skin, an organ so fair as to be almost pale blue in hue. Any direct sunlight illuminates my milky flesh to the point where I look like dude from Twilight, minus the floppy hair and brooding good looks of course.

It's bad enough that it's blistering outside, but now my employers have decided that air conditioning is a terrible invention, and we are forced to work in temperatures that would rival the surface of the sun. My clothes end up drenched, I have body parts sticking to other parts that should never ordinarily be in direct contact, and when I sit down, the area under my gloriously thatched chest, and above my ample belly looks like a tropical glade in Narnia....I swear I have heard Liam Neeson's voice coming from my nipple, more than once.

I guess I"ll have to just suck it up, even though doing so means gulping in scorched air that will fry my tonsils, as it's a long Summer here in the South. Gotta look on the bright side though, as this will be terrific practice for the eternity I am doomed to spend in Hell....there could be worse places to end up, Charlie Sheen's underpants for one.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

It's Kentucky Derby Day

There's nothing like the smell of horse manure and mint juleps to get the hearts of horse racing fans all aflutter. I count myself in that group, but have to confess that the past few years have seen a bit of the shine come off the day. It has nothing to do with the race or the sports itself, rather the lack of company that has brought about the change.

Spring and Summer Friday nights (every second week) were when my Mum and I would head on down to Stampede park in Calgary to catch the live races and lose some of our hard earned money. We would always reserve box seats, chow down on some overpriced food, and throw back the booze as we played. It was our special time, and my Mum would visibly bristle when anyone else in the family tagged along. The only day when "outsiders" were welcomed was Derby Day. It was an all day party event that usually consisted of a large number of family and friends, all having a great time and debating which horse was going to win it all. As i was the resident horse racing expert, I was normally looked upon to provide the winners, a task I greatly enjoyed.

Those great times came to an end when my Mum was diagnosed with cancer, eventually losing her brave battle a decade ago. With each passing year, my interest in the day has dwindled from mild excitement to almost complete apathy. It's just not the same without her, mispronouncing the horse names, the only standard she used for picking her winners. Her crazy logic in picking based on name was always a source of great humor for me, and I can still look at a race card today and KNOW exactly which horse she would choose in any given race....she would have had a bit of decision to make today with Archarcharch (she would probably say arkaharkharton, always adding letters that didn't exist in the original) or Mucho Macho Man. I think the latter would win out given her penchant for horses with the Boy, Lad or Man in the name.

It is an odd little coincidence that the Derby and Mother's day come back to back this weekend, and it is perhaps that which has roused my interest in today's race again. I don't believe in any sort of God, Heaven or Hell, but her's was an energy in life that doesn't just go away in death. I feel her around often, and "talk" to her on a daily basis. Today I feel her STRONGLY, and despite the fact that I have picked Shackleford to win, I will be quietly rooting for Mucho Macho Man, and will most likely have a pretty good sized lump in my throat if he does. It would be a perfect Mothers Day gift for us both, one that would enhance the strength of our bond, one that has never weakened despite the years she has been gone.

I miss you and love you......Happy Mother's Day Mum.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Probing Investigation

Tuesdays have a way of stripping away my will to live, and leaving me bored beyond all comprehension. You'd think that time away from the chores of work would revitalize me, but too much time alone puts me a little too deep inside my own head. What's a man to do when confronted with such tedium, you ask? Simple!! Spend countless hours hitting the stumbleupon button, visiting websites that are usually of no great interest. Occasionally though, I will hit one that gets the old noggin switched back on, and the gears grinding into action.

Yesterday, I came across an article about Travis Walton. His story took place back in the mid 70's when, as a logger working in the woods, he was allegedly beamed on board an alien craft, where he spent several days being scrutinized, before being dropped home, pretty much none the worse for wear.

It got me thinking whether or not I would like to travel into space. As cool as it may be to see our world from above, the idea of being cannonballed into orbit inside a glorified campbell's soup can, doesn't appeal. The last time I was jettisoned that quickly from an elongated object was as a sperm, but the details are a little fuzzy, so I can't really say whether or not I enjoyed the experience.

What if I wasn't given the choice though, but rather, like Walton, was beamed onto the mothership by a visiting race of ET's? Not much better, given their seeming penchant for anal probing, as recounted in almost all abduction cases. I am sexually liberated, but the idea of a sphincter loving, galactic space traveler tickling my dung funnel with a cattle prod is not my idea of jolly time. Perhaps we as a race are missing the point of the whole probing idea. Maybe these super race of aliens long ago realized that the mysteries of the universe have somehow become embedded into the DNA of our colons. In fact, the more I say it out loud, the more barium enema sounds like some distant galaxy beyond the reaches of our inferior craft.

For now, I am quite happy to keep my feet on terra firma, spending time exploring the vast space between my ears.

It's Freebie Time

For one week only, get a hold of my short story collection, "Behind These Eyes Of Sleep", for FREE!! The coupon code is FR82Z, and the book can be downloaded as PDF, HTML, or for any of the popular e-readers (NOOK, Kindle etc).
Click here to get yours

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Potty Mouth

Perhaps it is because I grew up in a time and place where outdoor toilets were commonplace, that I feel no real trepidation or sense of disgust when setting foot inside a public restroom. In recent times though, that comfort has turned south, and the reason is because of a complete lack of decorum from my fellow porcelain patrons. The cell phone has turned human waste disposal into an exercise in stealth, trying to hide the echo of the bathroom walls or the Skylab like splashdown as your McDonalds sausage burrito decides it's time to leave (usually no more than 7-9 minutes after ingesting it). Why people can't talk to their lawyers outside the toilet is a mystery to me.

Having to hold an Iphone in one hand, toilet paper at the ready in the other, means that the courtesy flush has become something of a lost art. More than once I have been forced to hold my breath longer than David Blaine in some ghastly underwater TV special, simply because the foul individual, who just so happened to choose the stall directly beside mine, despite the 15 other empties, couldn't use a free appendage to speed away their last meal which smells like roadkill marinaded in Aqua Velva. I can't even pinch my nose during such moments, because dude who was in there before me obviously has a penis that dispenses urine at the velocity of a firehose given the amount of yellow liquid dripping down the commode, walls and overhead fluorescent lights, meaning I have to precariously balance myself over the toilet in a maneuver that could land me in the next Olympic pommel horse squad.

You really shouldn't be that exhausted after completing a task a simple as emptying your bowels. It's this level of tiredness that makes the act of hand waving for water and a paper towel so frustrating. If you ever walk into a public washroom and see a fellow bent over the sink, crying uncontrollably, that'll be me. I will be weeping for the days of faucets that turned by hand, and a roll of paper that you could simply tug on to get the next piece. I shouldn't have to flail around like a epileptic magician, just to receive some sanitary satisfaction.

And so my distaste has now grown to proportions where I am now trying to program my body to take care of it's messy business during home hours. Sure, there may be an accident or 2 along the way, but what's a couple of pair of soiled knickers for a little peace of mind?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

You Are What You Read

It is time to confess, after 43 years on this Earth, that I have something of a book problem. Combine that with the attention span of a hyperactive puppy in a squirrel ranch, and the problem escalates. Purchasing a NOOK has only made it worse, as now I have 2 mediums that cater to my issues. Here is a breakdown, by location, of my current books in progress.

Downstairs :
Under The Dome by Stephen King - waited for my wife to finish before I started
We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver - borrowed, has to be finished in 14 days
Speaks The Nightbird by Robert McCammon - Enjoying this immensely, so reading deliberately slow

Upstairs :
The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen - my bedtime book, usually 2-3 pages before heavy lids take over

Car : (yes I am a traffic light reader....this is Atlanta, traffic sucks)
Fear Nothing by Dean Koontz - actually started reading the sequel first, didn't realize, came back to this one
Abarat Book 1 by Clive Barker - always take my time with Barker books

NOOK :
Soft Apocalypse by Will McIntosh - Love free NOOK book Friday, this looks promising
Horror Shorts by Drew Brown - FREE from Smashwords, a writer with a style similar to my own...check him out.
The Adventures Of Mr. Maximillian Bacchus And His Traveling Circus by Clive Barker - see Barker above
The Scream by John Skipp and Craig Spector - Rock n roll horror, again from Smashwords


So, as you can see, I have a bit of a full dance card, but realize that the borrowed book has to be tackled first. It is not an easy read though, and given my penchant......SQUIRREL.......for distractions, it's not going to be easy.