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August 21, 2016 / thackersam

The Possibly Three Deadly Sins

sloth

The Seven Deadly Sins always confused me. Really, some seem so minor. And lust as number one? Okay, even if we don’t think of it in sexual terms, it’s just passion. And passion has been the impetus for a lot of great things. If it weren’t for lust, what would we read, and why?  The second is gluttony. Now that’s harsh. Especially since a new salad bar has opened up downtown and for a few days the hot and cold salads were 50% off. And they had some freakin’ good stuff. One day, when I could squeeze in at the hot buffet as it was so understandably crowded, I came back to the office with 2lbs worth of duck (boneless), rack of lamb and prawns, broccoli rabe, roasted cauliflower and another vegetable., but who cares, right? I fed my boss, who was pretty amazed and delighted (particularly since he is a bit on the curmudgeony side), and I had lunch and dinner from it. Yes, I was gluttonous. I kept piling on the food and the only reason I didn’t take any lobster was that it wouldn’t fit. I went back the next and final day of the sale, and returned with more slabs of meat: prime rib, more lamb and pork that was like butter. I now understand what having “the meat sweats” means. Diet set-back of course, but I kind of have no regrets.

Greed, which is really the only thing on the list I whole-heartedly agree with, and think should be at the top of it, comes after these two innocuous indulgences. I’m sorry, taking all that food was gluttony, pure and simple and had nothing to do with greed, which is a very bad thing. Then comes sloth. And that has some merit. Sloth is really quite self-destructive. Oh, it’s okay to be lazy once in a while, but sloth, well that’s a lifestyle, and a demon I battle. Also the impetus for this entire composition. I know you’re wondering – what the dickens is she going off on now. Well, that’s the dickens. I am slothful.

The whole Seven Deadly Sins thing came about post-Bible, and was probably invented by some guy who could never get a date and is based on societal views on morality. Their severity was based on the belief that these particular sins would lead to other immoral behavior, ergo – Deadly. So I think we can safely assume that this smiley faced guy or gal, who is probably very popular in the sloth-world, was named for the sin, and not vice versa. But the sloth is not lazy, the sloth is just so exceedingly slow that when you see them move, you understand why they got pegged with this moniker (it’s really so painfully slow that you just want to yell “move” at them, much like I do to the tourists in NYC). And apparently they sleep more than half a day, and even when awake, they often remain motionless. As this is the way of the sloth culture, how could it be considered laziness? This information, BTW, is from National Geographic, not Wikipedia. But boy those sloths look happy and content.

A website I found that is “all about God,” quotes Proverbs 6:16-19: “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.” Okay – I tend to agree, but according to the descriptions of the so-called seven deadly sins, this sounds like it is referring less to the listed sins, and more specifically to a person oh say… just like Donald Trump (see what I did there, I got political). Now, if the seven deadly sins were these attributes as listed in Proverbs: murder, lying, a heart that devises wicked schemes, etc., I’d not be complaining. So, did someone get it wrong? Shouldn’t then the seven deadly sins as we know them today, actually be on the list of six things God hates? And which sin was slyly stuck on to the list to make it seven? Here is the list and descriptions from this particular website. You can make your own assumptions, cause if it were up to me, the list would be whittled down to two or three sins and one self-destructive behavior that is not self-destruction if you are an actual sloth.

  1. Lust – to have an intense desire or need.
  2. Gluttony – excess in eating and drinking.
  3. Greed – excessive or reprehensible acquisitiveness.
  4. Laziness (Sloth) – disinclined to activity or exertion: not energetic or vigorous.
  5. Wrath – strong vengeful anger or imagination. (Me – Nothing wrong with a little vengeance when needed, except when taken too far. So perhaps this could remain on the list with an asterisk.)
  6. Envy – painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage. (Me – Could lead to theft, which leads to violence, so that being said, this can remain on the list without an asterisk.)
  7. Pride – quality or state of being proud – inordinate self-esteem. (Me – The Heave-Ho!)

As an added note, when speaking with the ex late this afternoon, and of the sloth, he told me of a scene he saw from the animated movie Zootopia (we think it’s Zootopia, neither of us have seen the movie), in which a DMV employee is a cartoon sloth. I’m just going to STM on that one. (DMV-Department of Motor Vehicles; STM-snicker to myself).

BTW – The sloth, which likes to hang out in and around water, is often so sedentary that algae forms on its coat giving it a green tinge. Which brings to mind the adage, Don’t Let Moss Grow Under Your Feet, or of course, A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss. And there we have our music reference for the night. Two in fact.

August 14, 2016 / thackersam

Sex & Knives

Knives

This weekend was the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference. Year three for me. Before I tell you my highlights, most of which came in the form of author Steven James, who is really funny, let me start by getting my gripes out of the way, both of which happened the morning of the first day. I started the conference by attending “Sexy, Savvy, Sensational Romance,” a panel of romance writers, all female, no surprise. I thought I might get some idea of the crafting process and what is now acceptable sex in a romance novel, even though there’s no romance in my current project. The session was mostly about the business side, but the five women were all great and entertaining. Sex was mentioned once, and that was it, just mentioned.

I sat in the second row of a smaller meeting room, three seats from the wall. Halfway through the hour long session, a woman steps over the others in my row, excusing herself to get to the seat against the wall. She was then followed by an older woman who sits next to me. Within mere moments , the older woman’s phone rings. I side-eye her, thinking she is going to turn it off, but no, she answers it! AND – She turns her head and phone toward MY right ear and says “Allo?” To which I, in a sharp whisper immediately snap, “Can you NOT do that.” She got up and left. Idiot! WTF? She did not return. (Lucky for her)

The next session was ladies’ mystery writer Jane Cleland in the auditorium. actually a large complex of rooms. A lot of seats. Loads and loads of seats. Jane’s seminar was the exact same one she gave last year, which was in a smaller breakout room, and the more intimate setting suits her better. She likes to give formulas. That works for her.

I didn’t sit anywhere near the front of the room, the large room, and was off to one side with an empty seat on either side of me. Of course, about 20 minutes in, some older guy decides he has to step over fellow audience members and PLOP down next to me, clipping my right thigh with his girth and without apology. Idiot! WTF?

Those are the gripes.

The afternoon sessions were swell. Author Steven James, who, because I was sitting in the first row of the auditorium for his first session, chatted with me before he began about my search for a McDonald’s to get a large coffee for a buck, on a 94 degree day in New York City. They took the coffee away long before sessions started in the morning, and before I got there. What could I do? Besides, he listened without judgment, I think, and seemed more impressed that I held in my hand the evidence that my quest had been successful.

His session on breaking the rules was great (a nice contrast to the previous session), as was the next session on crafting a thriller on which he was a panelist. So was the weapons guy, Ben Sobieck, and the next day, during the weapons guy’s talk on weapons, I was the quickest to raise my hand when he asked who wanted a free copy of his book. I have plenty of books, we all do, don’t we? But this one is on weapons and while the main focus is guns, it’s got a whole juicy section on knives, and as the intimacy of killing with a knife rather than a gun goes nicely with my main character’s sexual proclivity, I’m tickled pink to have this book.

Day two of the conference included another session by Steven James, and the reason I rave about him is that he is very funny and entertaining, but he writes in the same “oh neat, let’s see what the character does now” way that I do, and seems to write for his own enjoyment as well as that of others. He, like me, allows his characters to lead him to where they’re going with fascination. Honestly, sometimes my main character really surprises me. And Steven James has been successful with it, so there’s that. I should mention that last night’s keynote speaker, David Baldacci is a really good speaker. I love when writers can speak like they write, with the appropriate pauses and of course confidence.

The highlight of this morning’s half day was that I arrived in time for coffee. Regardless of a less than wowsome Sunday conference-wise, I am stoked and have been getting more plotting done as I reevaluate what I have created in the story so far, even though I’m a “pantser” (as in seat of my pants). I am just so damned damaged though. I don’t know if I’ll ever finish anything or do anything beyond that (remember, I have finished my play). But I do know this. I write first and foremost because I like it. I derive much glee from it. It entertains me. And once in a while, it entertains others. That is not good enough for me, however it’s a passion and it’s something that I’m good at. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go pick out a knife.

BTW – Did you know that it’s hard to stab someone in the chest because of a little thing called bones, and that if you want to slash someone’s throat, you should never sneak up on them from behind. If you need to kill someone – and I just mean a character in a book – I recommend The Writer’s Guide to Weapons. It could be prettier (the photo of the knives is not from the book), but it will let you know when to use clip and when to use magazine. And Glock’s don’t have safeties.

August 7, 2016 / thackersam

Act Naturally

Paul & Ringo2

Thank you Paul and Ringo for growing old with us. And thank you for giving me something to write about this evening, and to be thankful for, and not be all consumed with the craziness going on, nationally, internationally and internally. Greed is not good. And remember that you know your bodies better than they do. So I chant – Paul and Ringo, Paul and Ringo, Ringo and Paul. Ohmmmm. No, nothing has happened, that I know of. I’ve not heard of anyone being sick or another reunion. I just love Beatles. They make me feel good. Safe.

“Act Naturally” is a Buck Owens song sung by Ringo, and was the B side to McCartney’s “Yesterday,” which would not make my top ten Paul McCartney songs, even if we limited it to those he wrote as a Beatle. BTW – Trouble-Buddy emailed me the other day to tell me of her recent musical trip down memory lane, and my friend from Hoot ‘n Holler allows me to bounce my story ideas off of her and responds with an encouraging “keep going.” They make me feel good, too.

Maintaining the current weight, and will start the push back downward tomorrow. Next weekend is the Writer’s Digest annual conference in NYC, and they have some cool sessions this year. I am particularly excited about the one on weapons, and hope to have another dead man soon afterward. The victim has already been established and ideas are popping up and getting down in writing.

This is less of a BTW than an Aside the Point, but due to the heat lately, I have come to the conclusion that if you live in a one-room apartment, you should never skimp on the kitty litter. Think aromatherapy.

And this is an Aside the Point to the Aside the Point, but my Siri doesn’t know me anymore. What’s worse is she doesn’t even seem to care. Indifference really hurts.

How does one act naturally? It’s not easily defined.

July 31, 2016 / thackersam

Reflections of Hoboken

Hoboken

Last week I was going to write about my trip back from the IWWG conference, just the amusing parts, but got waylaid by some necessary business, and, like it or not, I will need to go there again several times before November, and then afterwards – well we’ll see, won’t we. But not tonight.

And that is how I began this evening’s post. Then I told a story that is a cute story but should really start with the words Dear Diary. It wasn’t a memory, or even memorable. It was something that happened the other day, and had nothing to do with music or exercise, or politics. So we’re foregoing a story for tonight and skipping to the end.

And that is this evening’s story, but for those who are interested, even though technically I should not report this until after tomorrow morning’s weigh-in, I met the goal I set for myself for this month and am now at 145lbs. Of course, this week I will be having bacon and eggs with the ex, and drinks with Gilda and another friend the following night, but I will take it in stride. I have miles to go, but considering this year’s set-backs, the expected ones like winter and conferences, and the unexpected health issues, I’m pleased. My next goal is to be safely under 140 by the end of the year, and deal with winter a little better than I have in the past.

BTW – The picture that accompanies this post, which had nothing to do with the deleted one, was taken from my window facing east. The building in the middle clearly reflects west. So, what you see is the Hudson River and Hoboken, NJ in the reflection of a building. Cool, huh?

July 24, 2016 / thackersam

Cat Scratch Fever

Nugent

I had prepared a 900 word essay about my trip home on Monday from the IWWG conference, which had some beautiful tangents and stories within stories. It included the end of the trip that had me departing from the #1 train on the other side of the highway from where I live, in a violent rainstorm and my decision to enthusiastically forge ahead arriving home sopping wet to Max, my cat, who thinks I can make the sunrise as this awful scary storm ceased 10 minutes after my arrival when I hadn’t been home for four days, and then the sun came out. It was a lovely story. I had picked a picture of Gene Kelly from Singing in the Rain. Not the lamppost still, which was under consideration, but the close-up of his smiling face as it was pelted with raindrops. But as you can see, that’s not Gene Kelly, and this is not a happy post.

When I got cancer again, I wrote that I didn’t want my blog to revolve around it, but that’s what was going on in my life. I needed to unload, and I thank all for the support I received. And now I can move on. I also told myself, when I posted my one politically based post “The Producer” this past February, that I didn’t want the blog to go political either. But as with cancer, shit happens. And shit is happening. And it is cancerous shit.

This I say this without apology – if you do not see the similarities with what the trump thing is doing and how Hitler, with his fear-mongering and hate-filled rhetoric, rose to power, you are ignorant. If you support that whole thing, you are stupid, to put it in the kindest term I can think of. If you are well aware of this evilness and support it anyway, you are stupid, mean, greedy and self-centered.

To Muslims and all others being attacked by this trump thing, I do not judge you by the terrorists that claim your faith, nor by the bad people who cross borders to do bad things, which I am not denying, nor should you, but please don’t judge us, Americans, by the trump factions. Unfortunately for those of us who think with hearts and minds, the loudmouth, hate-filled, hateful liars who are only in this world for their own satisfaction at the expense of others, gain the attention.

Oh and by the by (not to be confused with BTW) I don’t like Mitt Romney, I didn’t vote for Mitt Romney and probably have less than a handful of friends who did. I didn’t condemn them, and suppose that we all could have lived through a Romney presidency. NOW, I have a new-found respect for him as a person who can stick to his principles and recognize a truly bad man. Right on, Mitt.

Okay done, except – Hey Republicans – you have your own celebrity followers. Why the constant controversy over your use of songs by people who do not agree with your political views. This has been going on for a long time. Reagan did it. But the use the spiritual George Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun,” by the trump thing, when George would be one of its biggest opponents, is just plain icky. I just hope if he’s not too busy, George is strategically planning the hocking of a big-old heavenly lugy that will nail that slime with slime. (Don’t be messin’ with our Beatles). So in keeping with the music theme of my blog, may I suggest to the trump thing that it looks to one of its supporters for an appropriate theme song. I think Ted Nugent must have some songs in addition to “Cat Scratch Fever,” though I personally don’t know of any. And perhaps the eloquent Scott Baio has put out an album as some TV actors have done. He does have a way with words.

BTW – I don’t know if anyone is interested at this point, but even though I did not exercise AT ALL this week (did today-felt good), I am one pound and one week away from my current weight goal, and I have been scolded for my baggy clothes.

July 17, 2016 / thackersam

What Are You Writing

Early morning at IWWG

Me and my good friend at the IWWG summer conference where we learn to write good.

Here we are on the first morning after both of us had a relatively sleepless night due to the frigid temperature in our suite. This is my attempt to take a selfie of the two of us together at breakfast. It was the best I could do. Okay, there was one photo in which parts of our heads were not cut off and she looked beautiful, but I looked like I had just caught the bus in from Hag City instead of Port Authority, and we just cannot have that. Please note the necklace she is wearing. I made that for her more than a dozen years ago and she still wears it.

Brief background – we met in August of 2002 in the waiting area of Amtrak with about a hundred other women waiting for the early morning train to Saratoga Springs. The International Women’s Writing Guild annual conference had already been held for a couple of decades each year at Skidmore College, and this was the first year for both of us. We’ve been friends ever since. At that time, there were just two trains to Saratoga Springs. Its train station was a small dilapidated building and the platform was a yellow stepstool. We all had to be in the same car so we could exit out one door via the stepstool. In subsequent years, they rebuilt the station so it was bigger and quite nice, and they invested in another yellow stepstool so all of us women with all of our bags (I travel as light as possible) could be helped off the train through two doors. Progress. Also over the years, Skidmore overhauled their cafeteria so that the cafeteria experience was amazing. I got a lot of writing done in it. I think Skidmore outgrew us and even after a long, swell relationship, they pushed our group out in favor of newer groups (Skidmore must be a man). The whole setting of the campus was really perfect for us, but for whatever the reason, the 30 year relationship ended. The Guild tried other campuses and then there was that big upheaval at the top that caused a humongous rift in leadership and membership, but here we are now at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA, and aside from the freezing rooms, it looks like it may work out fine. The cafeteria is nice, the food is good, but it’s no Skidmore. However, it’s no Brown either. We had tried Brown University one year and the food sucked so royally that I ate hot dogs at least once a day as it was the only edible choice. Mind you, I have not had a hot dog in years, even with the hot dog vendor outside my apartment complex, and it is something that I would use as a reward.

For two years after that we were at Yale, which I did not attend, but I hear the food there was even worse than Brown. But this year a big effort was made to restore some of the feel of the Guild from before the rift, and some familiar faces have returned. Plus, this year, we actually had a keynote speaker. Not only did we have an opening night keynote speaker, but it was Nancy Giles. For those of us that watch the CBS Sunday Morning program, it was exciting. She is a frequent guest commentator, and is smart and funny and really tall. In fact, as I was writing this the following morning, just a few sentences ago, she passed by and I was able to tell her how much I enjoyed her speech the previous night. Honestly though, it was too long and she could have used some of her guidelines for writing a three-minute commentary.

I don’t attend the classes here anymore, haven’t in a long time, maybe one or two if I’m awake enough, but I usually sit and write in the cafeteria, or a lounge, or outside. This is my retreat. As it is a conference for women writers, there is an abundance of classes in poetry and memoir, and each time you meet someone new they inevitably ask what you write. In the past, as I had been working on my play for a stupidly long time, I would mention it to inquisitors or the personal essays I’ve accumulated but never wanted to share. Now that I am working toward a more realistic goal writing pure smut (and loving it), I reply, perhaps a bit too meekly, that I am writing erotica. I’ve got to learn to be more in-your-face about it, and say it loud and proud.

There’s no hard alcohol allowed on this campus at all (I used to bring Jack with me and two shot glasses), and the Guild could only supply wine that could only be served by a member of the college food service staff, and if the Guild took out a $2 million insurance policy. Skidmore sold beer and we could drink freely if we chose. The good news is that I got the temperature up in our suite and we slept much better Saturday night. Next month, I’ll attend the Writers’ Digest conference in New York for the third year, where they have three keynotes and lots of classes that I will attend. Nothing on smut, but some interesting crime and weapons sessions. Plus they have a cocktail party the first night.

BTW – this is the first Sunday in a very long time, surgery or no surgery that I have not exercised. Oh, and there’s no dieting while I’m here. I was missing Max, who is being looked after by my lovely facialist, long before I left, but I’ll be home tomorrow and he will then have the opportunity to show me how much he missed me.

Nancy Giles at IWWG

Nancy Giles at IWWG

July 10, 2016 / thackersam

Muddy Water

Muddy

“They muddy the water, to make it seem deep.”

An FB friend of an FB friend posted the quote by Friedrich Nietzsche that seems so poignant today, not just with our political climate, or any political climate, considering Brexit, but in your basic corporate workplace, or wherever people try to fool one another. The quote could be updated to “They shit in the water to make themselves seem deep.”

I found that Nietzsche also said “Whoever does not have a good father should procure one.” I do appreciate his concern, but for those of us whose fathers sucked big time, how would we go about doing that? Nietzsche said lots of things, I see, but did he have any solutions?

When I worked for the craft gallery many years ago, you know, the one with all the cats, one day I found a slip of paper in my pocketbook that read “Men are a nightmare.” I had my suspicions of who left me the anonymous note, and don’t recall pursuing it to any great length, but it had to have been a colleague with access to the back room who chose to share this bit of wisdom with me. Somewhere in my apartment, I still have that slip of paper, cause you know what? It never changes. And that’s all I have to say about that.

OK – apparently I’m having issues. Let’s move on.

On the writing front, I’m just putting the finishing touches on an erotic short ghost story that’s really pretty dirty. Even I am disgusted.

I’m exercising a little more since the surgery (can you believe it’s over two weeks now?), but have found that as good as I feel, I am still healing and have caused a mighty big stitch in my side (as in an owie) under my right breast. I just have to remember to lead with my left when reaching for the overhead bar on the subway or bus.

Diet and Weight Loss – Feh

Music – and I am actually referring to music of this very decade – in this very century – Confused by why, as their sounds are similar, I really like Lake Street Dive, and the Tedeschi Trucks Band not so much, I did a modicum of research. Without disparaging the latter, and concentrating on the former, I will say that you’ve got to love a four-piece band that sounds like much more than just a singer in mom-jeans with one of the most phenomenal voices and presence, a bass-player playing a stand-up bass that looks like she’s had it for some time, a swarthy, enthusiastic drummer and a guitarist that looks like he’s from Minnesota (no offense meant, he’s just very blond and looks Scandinavian). They all harmonize well, and who doesn’t love a good dive bar, from whence their name (Note – their name is for a street that, in their opinion, consisted of many dive bars, in all places – Minnesota. I swear it was just a guess. And the guys name is Olson.). I don’t know if they will be good to exercise to, but I think I will look for one of their earlier CDs (also of this century) in the discount racks.

Memories – I had a pleasant memory about my mother the other day that made me smile. And now I can’t remember what it was. It was her birthday on Thursday. She would have been 88. My step-mother turns 90 on Friday.

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