And now for something completely different…

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So lately I’ve been impossibly busy with work, life and all the joy that long summer days bring to my easily distracted brain.

As such, I’ve had the attention span of a gnat and have been really running to catch up on my blog.

In reading over posts from the past couple weeks, I feel like I’m starting to be derivative of my self.

And, well, that’s ass.

I had a long talk with The Good Man about maybe taking a break from blogging, or quitting entirely.

In fact, I considered it seriously.

But then again…I’m up to 939 posts over three years, and there is a part inside of me that *really* wants to top 1,000 posts on this blog.

So I dug deep inside and asked myself if I wanted to stop blogging.

The answer was clear. No. I don’t want to stop.

I love blogging and it’s done amazing things for my writing and editing skills on the fly.

And so….

I’m going to keep on keeping on here on the blog. But to keep things interesting, I’m going to try something different this week.

I shall dub the week of June 21 through June 25 as Flash Fiction and Fables Week.

On Monday through Thursday, my blog posts will consist of a no more than 1,000 word fiction story or essay, thus the very definition of Flash Fiction.

As the impetus for each day’s story, I will visit a random word generator and use the first word that is presented as the foundation for the story.

I will have to keep an eye on myself for no cheating! No hitting refresh until I get a word I like.

I have no idea what the stories will be about as this is all a fluid process.

I hope you are willing to come along on this ride, as it will be harder than it looks, I can assure you. This is really a task in pushing The Muse to produce. And sometimes she doesn’t like that.

Here’s a representative sample of her cranky face.

Four days writing a totally new Flash Fiction story each day may be tough to accomplish. We’ll see.

And then Friday will be a special day. On Friday I’m going to present a “Fable Friday” selection. This is a story I’ve taken from one of a couple books I have of fables and folklore. I will read the story aloud complete with funny voices, if necessary, and will also post a link to a scan of the story if you’d rather read it yourself.

This was inspired by a great night at a friend’s house reading fables and folklore aloud. It was a fun and touching night and I’m experimenting with making this a regular item on the Oh Fair New Mexico blog.

After my week of Flash Fiction and Folklore ends, I will likely go back to my regularly scheduled stream-of-mind posts that I’ve done for the past three years, hopefully with a renewed sense of creativity and verve.

Verve…what a great word.

Anyhow, do join me and give feedback on the stories if the spirit moves you.

Personally I’m both excited and scared about the week, but I’m also raring to go!

Wheeeee!!

I am sooo, like, you know, literate!

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For my recently celebrated birthday, The Good Man scored me a most awesome present.

I gots me a Kindle!

Oh my stars and bars, how I love that Kindle.

We’d had a lot of philosophical talks over Sunday morning breakfast about iPad vs Kindle and what did we *really* want from such a device.

I thought it was all idle chatter until a Kindle showed up under all that wrapping paper.

Fabulous!

So, being the cheapy cheaperson that I am, I immediately went to the free section of the Kindle store on Amazon, and began downloading my bootie off.

I did pay for a couple books that’d I’d wanted, like the new Jeannette Walls book, “Half Broke Horses” (a five star recommend from me! This and her first book “The Glass Castle“), but mostly I downloaded the free stuff.

There are a few for free trashy romance novels in there. I downloaded a couple but I doubt I’ll get to them.

The biggest portion included in the free section are books that are in the public domain, meaning their copyright has expired.

I guess anything published prior to 1930 is now public domain. There are quite a few of the classics in the free collection.

Let’s be honest here, I wasn’t exposed to a lot of the classics during the course of my education. Ok, some of the basics. “To Kill a Mockingbird” was on the list. “Grapes of Wrath” (haaate it!) was a forced read. And there was also a lot of bits and bites, but not full books. No “Scarlet Letter” or “Moby Dick” made it across my transom.

On the other hand, The Good Man has read almost all of the classics, many more than once, and it’s no wonder he’s so much more well spoken and intelligent than me.

But! The Kindle may just even out the game.

I have things like “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “The Jungle Book” and “The Last of the Mohicans” and “Pride and Prejudice” to name just a few that are loaded up and ready for me to get into.

I also have beautiful classic books that I have already read like “Red Badge of Courage” and “The Secret Garden” and “The Velveteen Rabbit” on the Kindle. They are like old friends, lost to the sands of time, who have returned to me.

My only issue is that sometimes I have a hard time reading the classics. The language or style can be tough.

I do love the Kindle’s in line dictionary that makes looking up tough words a snap.

But all the Oxford English Dictionaries in the world can’t help me get around some of the archaic language.

Right now, The Good Man and I are taking on our latest book club title. It is just us in our book club. We read together and then discuss.

Currently we are reading “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde. The Good Man is a confirmed Wilde fan. Until I got the Kindle last month, I’d read zero Wilde. I started with the play “The Importance of Being Earnest” and really enjoyed it.

But I’m finding ol’ Dorian Gray to be a bit of a slog. All the reasons that The Good Man likes it, the deep thought and philosophizing…well, that just makes me ape sh*t. I want some story to move the thing along!

I’m doin’ it. I’m chugging though the pages. Currently about halfway done. The story part of the story is really fascinating. Well drawn characters and quotable pithy sayings.

But the expository pieces that run for pages and pages are about to make me insane. I *know* that’s why people love Wilde and I *get* that he was a great thinker and artist of his time.

But damnit! I’m just a girl who likes a little Louis L’Amour sprinkled in her day. There is a cowboy, he fights another cowboy over stolen cattle or water rights, and then gets the girl. The end.

I know, I know. This high-minded literature stuff is good for me.

And I really am enjoying it.

Tell me, what do YOU make of: “But he never fell into the error of arresting his intellectual development by any formal acceptance of creed or system, or of mistaking, for a house in which to live, an inn that is but suitable for the sojourn of a night, or for a few hours of a night in which there are no stars and the moon is in travail.”

I spent a while working on just that one sentence. I get it now, but my brain is tired.

Maybe wearing out the ol’ brain on classic literature will help stave off dementia. It’s a nice thought, anyway.

Plot devices that no longer work

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So, in the middle of the night last night, while I was *not* sleeping, I got to thinking about, well, phone booths.

And how there aren’t any around anymore.

Phone booths were such a key element to the plot lines of a LOT of books and movies.

For example, where would Superman be if not for the phone booth!

Where does mild mannered Clark Kent put on his blue tights these days?

Probably the bathroom at a Starbucks, but that’s not the point.

The point is, there are no phone booths on every city street corner anymore. Where are you supposed to take that random and creepy phone call? Where are you supposed to wait for the kidnappers to give you your next clue? How do you have an angry confrontation with a guido over how long you are on the phone? You don’t. Not anymore.

The movie “Crazy Heart” had a scene with a phone booth. It was by the side of a desolate road in New Mexico (playing the part of Arizona). It felt odd even in the context of the movie. It was in a weird location and had no wires leading to or from it.

It just didn’t work. The era of the phone booth is dead.

How many of our great stories told over the years involved a phone booth?

Or for that matter, payphones in general?

It’s just not the same.

The lonely cowboy with a stack of dimes trying to get his lady on the line, rain pouring outside the glass phone booth, operator intoning “fifty cents please” in a nasaly voice. That’s literature!

Cowboy flips open his mobile device and curses the low signal strength just doesn’t have the same je ne sais quoi, ya know?

And so then I thought about another lost plot device. The lockers in bus stations, train stations and airports. (ok, I already lamented their loss here, but I’m going there again.)

You know, the bad guy stashes the loot to cool it off, inserts a quarter, takes the key and no one is the wiser? Until the bad guy is bumped off and ANOTHER bad guy takes the key and tries to figure out where it goes so he can get the stash?

Oh yeah. That’s good suspense!

The movie “Desperately Seeking Susan” centered around the Rosanna Arquette character getting Madonna’s locker key that held her valise and that really cool jacket. Remember?

Yeah, we really don’t have those anymore, the quarter to rent a locker places. A few gyms have ’em and a local nature preserve has a few near the walking trails, but mostly people leave their stuff in their car or carry a backpack anymore.

Another good plot device, dead.

Oh, and how about meeting people at the gate at the airport!?!

How many great, dramatic scenes involve someone stepping off a plane and a loved one, bad guy, limo guy, complete stranger, detective, etc. is there waiting?

It’s just not quite as dramatic to have the waiting happen down at baggage claim where you hope you find the right person.

Or heck, really going back, how about waiting out on the tarmac while the starlet decends the metal stairs. Nope.

I won’t EVEN start down the road of the loss of manual transmission cars (I covered it here), but do you think Steve McQueen’s hot little green fast back Mustang in “Bullitt” was an automatic? Oh no, I don’t think so.

I know, I know. I’m being a fuddy duddy and time must always march on. But as a writer, I lament the loss of ANY good device to keep a story moving along….

And there you have it.

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You know, sometimes it is, in fact, easier to tell a story with a photograph rather than words.

This past weekend, I wandered into my bedroom to grab my iPod off the bedside table. It was then I saw, laying there, the perfect explanation of my relationship with The Good Man.

It just says so much about who we are, how we’re alike, and how we’re different.

It is thus:

I’ll give you two guesses as to which book is the one I’m reading.

Hint: it’s not the one about Oscar Wilde.

And there you have it.

Heartbroke no more

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There’s this famous quote from this guy named Bart Giamatti. He was a baseball commissioner and had a bit of character.

Ol’ Bart was also a writer. He liked to put down in words what he felt about the game of baseball.

He was a true fan and had a lot to say.

At the end of every baseball season, one of his quotes from a work entitled “The Green Fields of the Mind” is trotted out and poured over by the faithful, including me.

The piece begins “It breaks your heart. It’s designed to break your heart.”

Bart’s talking about how baseball begins all fresh and new and sparkly, stays with you over the course of 162 games, and gives you a story arc that includes Spring, Summer, AND Fall and then goes away abruptly.

Finds you when it is warm, leaves you when it is wet and cold.

Sort of a fair weather friend, that.

And every October, I get a little down. The World Series ends, baseball isn’t on the radio anymore and I have to actually decide what to watch on TV instead of having it decided for me.

No longer do I worry over a pitcher’s arm or that catcher’s bum knee or why the hell that guy took that bad route to get to a routine fly ball.

Baseball leaves a big empty that cannot be refilled.

Like a whirlwind romance that fills my days with daydreams and my nights with passion and I get to thinking I could never live without it.

And then it leaves me.

But weirdly, baseball is a fickle lover.

Because come March, baseball finds it’s way back to my arms.

Yesterday, because I could feel the return on the wind, I engaged in my annual viewing of “Bull Durham.” It’s a preparatory event. An ablution. A ritual cleansing to prepare me for the return.

This morning I will have either “61*” or “The Natural” playing in the background while I work, to continue my readiness.

And then, today, at noon, or 12:05 actually, I will once again hear Duane Kuiper say “Giants baseball is on the radio.”

While it may only be a Spring Training game, some harmless flirtation and not the real thing yet, I will listen. I might even cry when I hear Jon Miller‘s voice (it’s happened before).

I will hear how Bengie Molina may or may not have lost weight. I will hear how our multi-million dollar Cy Young winning, dope smoking kid has fared in the off season. I will listen for details on the new kids and assessments on the old kids and I will find that yawning chasm inside of me will begin to quiet again.

Because today, my love has returned to me.

It broke my heart, but I will forgive and forget. I will give myself with reckless abandon, not caring that October looms somewhere out there. No, today I will pretend that it will never leave me again.

God I love baseball.