Mathematic Harmony

Did I go to see the new Wolverine because I thought it would be a good movie? Nah. Did I go with any expectations whatsoever? Nope. Did I care about hole-ridden plots, cheesy melodrama and dorky ninjas that danced around like unemployed cirque du soleil actors? Nah ah.

Then why did I go?

There exists a very simple mathematical equation that explains this phenom: Hugh Jackman + Wolverine = Happiness.

And I may go see it again because guess who I want to be when I grow up.

A Wee Horn Toot

Well, it’s in: the first review on my book, Demon of Montreal! How pleasant this one is. I thought hey, why not make a short little post about it and toot my wee horn.

Here goes (cut and paste off Amazon):

“A gripping dark novel, brilliantly written with overwhelming suspense, travel into a dark side of Montreal while the author engages you with a sensual overload of smells, sexual tension and carnage and lets you experience the world in a dark and sinister way. It creates a thin line between good and evil with a wicked ending. Brilliant!”

 

The Best Way to Do It (on paper!)

Yeah, I was going to do a post about cliched sayings that it seems every book has to have, like when someone always ‘smells fear,’ but I decided to just go for the jugular and talk about a local favorite. (Don’t worry, this post has a Disney rating.) 

Let’s face it, sex in a book is kind of…usual. I personally kind of expect at least one sex scene. Our characters are supposed to be life-like and so, they do it. I also think we’d feel a tad bit disappointed if the two star-crossed lovers didn’t hit the sack at least once. 

What is the best way to portray this very human need? Do we…dress it up in the language of floral anatomy? I always loved the “his stamen” references. On the one hand you could say it’s pretty weird that anyone would draw an analogy between flower and human sexuality. And on the other hand, you have to admit it’s pretty cool that flowers are sexual. It’s like nature did that just for writers. 

You’ve got Heinlein who doesn’t really have sex scenes, but just mentions it throughout the story, a sort of novel-length tease. Piers Anthony too. I don’t call these sex scenes, so much as nudity. This is an okay method if you ask me, lets you do all of the imagining, which may be better than having it described in great length, ad nauseam.  

Erotica does it’s thing with the use of all the slang and four letter words. I guess that’s the stock solution to sex in a book. It’s effective in that it gets the job done. A good “down in the trench” engineering approach when you want a fail-safe method. But somehow it seems we should treat the subject with a bit more respect. 

I will never forget the sex scene in Stephen King’s It. At the time, I had been reading something about how you’re not supposed to say “feel” but describe the internal physiological changes taking place. So, instead of saying, “he felt excited” you would say “adrenaline flooded his brain” or some such. Well, in It that advice is taken way too far in the sex scene at the end. Reads like a medical manual, describing all the internal glandular processes that take place during the deed. No sir!  

I think the best writer on sex scenes is China Mieville simply because he doesn’t sugar coat and leaves a lot to the imagination. In The Scar he has a sex scene between this guy and his girlfriend who has her lower body grafted into a machine chassis, so her legs are metal caterpillar tracks. If you’ve ever read his work, you’ll understand. Anyway, the line is “and somehow they managed.” 

Whoa, I bet they did! You just don’t have to write anything else.

I’ve always drawn on the old romance model in my writing, I guess because that’s what I grew up thinking was a “sex scene” in a book. But I don’t really like it. I became a fan of Mieville’s, “And then they *&@*#” approach. Just come out and say it all crass and shameless.

There’s other ways too. Diana Gabaldon mixes in all the violence with it, which I can’t say does very much for me. But hey, maybe that’s historical accuracy. I’d be pretty upset if I was eating haggis too, I guess.

You’ve got the Philip Marlowe approach. Jeeze. He just takes and doesn’t care. You have to admire that only because the dames are always too happy. What a Svengali!

But in the end, I think I am casting my vote for Anne Rice’s Mayfair Witch Series. Pretty good on the steam, but not overboard on the details. A good balance of taste, I thought. Then again, I have not read 50 Shades of Gray, so…  

 

What do you think? Any examples of particularly good or tasteful sex scenes in books? 

How a Parallel World Opened Up in the Kitchen

I am a pancake-o-philiac. That’s a made-up term meaning “pancake lover.”

Well, it got a little out of hand at one point. I used to order a pancake with every meal and when you’re approaching 40 the waistline…complains.

A while ago I swore off wheat and sugar and dropped the pant sizes, but put the kabash on the pancake loving. It means I am ever on the lookout for pancakes that don’t contain wheat flour.

The other morning I woke up with a craving, but had run out of buckwheat (not wheat by the way!) and I found myself rummaging through the pantry. I located an old gluten-free mix, but didn’t want to use it straight out because of all the other starches in there, so I looked for something to cut it with. Lo and behold, I found coconut flour. Low-glycemic coconut flour. I started to experiment, combining flours and mixes ad hoc, adding a dash of almond meal and viola: a batter of questionable value. I thought, What the hell, let’s see how this pancake flies!

I set up the hotplate thing and made me an experimental pancake and I’ll be damned if it wasn’t the best pancake I’ve ever made. It even looked like a real pancake from my youth and the taste, ah, I was delighted.

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Now up till this time, I had been innocently on my own in the kitchen just making myself breakfast. Well, word gets out because I can’t keep the good news to myself about this new pancake discovery. And my Mother-in-Law asks for one.

This is no slight on her, it’s just how things went down. I am relating factual events here. No embellishments.

I, of course, oblige and make her one. She takes two bites and says, “kind of soft in the middle, huh?”

“Okaaaay.”

Meanwhile I scarf down two more and make one for my wife who also exclaims their virtues. I shrug off the comment by my Mother-in-Law mumbling something about the almond flour making them mushy. I noticed they were a bit mushy in the middle too, and you know, I didn’t care.

Then she says, “Nope. Not one of your best. Take these off the menu!”

“Uh, actually, I love them,” I say.

“Oh really?”

Now, here’s the thing. My mouth is not subjective. You can’t tell me I like something if I don’t. I mean, you can condition a pallet for an acquired taste, but you still have to like to like it, if that makes sense.

I stood there, spatula in hand thinking about this. What did I care about someone else liking my experimental pancakes that I had made for myself?

Ah, but normally I am NOT critiqued on my pancakes. Normally, I am critiqued on my writing, if I am critiqued at all. I thought if she had just said that about my book, I would be standing here in a state of introverted shock wondering if I sucked or not. But it’s not my book, it’s my pancake and regardless of what she says about it, my pancake still tastes good.

(By the way, she loves my writing, so this is not about that, this is truly a parallel universe.)

You have to appreciate this. You can almost see the sluggish thoughts turning round on the cogwheel, the dawning of enlightenment as two parallel worlds compare. The frivolity of one making a sharp dichotomy for the hyper-importance of the other.

And that’s when the secret outs.

It’s all just opinion. It’s all just so meaningless. Just because someone doesn’t like your book or story does not mean it doesn’t taste good, or great.  Suddenly the world took on new perspective.

And that’s how writing and pancakes formed a parallel world right there in my kitchen.

By the way, if you’re so inclined: 

A little less than 1/2 cup of Bob’s of Red Mill gluten free pancake mix.

About the same on coconut flour plus some.

Add some almond flour maybe a 1/4 cup, measured by eye.

1 egg of variable size.

1/2 cup butter milk, minus a tiny bit.

Some regular milk to make a batter. Just pour in enough to make a consistency you like.

I used a hot plate with teflon because I just didn’t want to battle some frying pan. Set at 350 degrees Fahrenheit give or take.

Used spray on oil, but you can use whatever.

Then butter and pure maple syrup no HFC (high fructose corn syrup.)

If you make it let me know what you think and any modifications for the better.

Highschool Crushes, Phantom Pregnancies and Stone Babies

In high school I met Missy. I have no idea where Missy is now and maybe she’ll read this post and respond, but I doubt it. Anyway, I fell in love with Missy, but that is neither here nor there as regards this post.

Missy told me a story about how she, with her previous boyfriend, had gotten pregnant. She told me in agonizing detail about this long and arduous pregnancy where she grew and grew and felt sick all of the time and had food cravings and all sorts of things, just like any pregnancy. Only she never had the baby. Month after month of this pregnancy and never did a baby come forth.

As I recall the  baby sort of just “went away.” Missy told me all of this in a state of befuddlement and high anxiety at what had befallen her. At the time, I listened intrigued, having always been partial to strange things and odd stories.

It wasn’t until years later when I learned about phantom pregnancies that Missy’s story made sense to me.

A woman can go through all of the stages of pregnancy with morning sickness, swelling up, tender breasts and all only to have no baby. In fact, when she goes into “labor” she’ll be taken to the hospital and give birth to a gust of humid air.

There is a case in India where the family is pressing charges on the doctor because they believe he stole their baby, when he, in fact, asserts that the woman did not give birth to anything but hot air.

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Apparently Mary I, Queen of England, had a couple of these, though that has not been substantiated.

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A couple of months ago, or perhaps years now, an old woman in her seventies went into the hospital because she “didn’t feel well.” When she disrobed the doctors found a protruding abdomen. On the CT scan they found a mass.

Forty years prior the woman had gone into labor and went to the hospital, but no baby came out. They said they would have to perform a C section, but at the same time, a women in the next room over was screaming for her life. So, the pregnant women ran out of the hospital and went home. She remained in bed for days, feeling very unwell and after some time, her baby went very quiet. She had heard of the legends of the “sleeping baby” and knew that was what she had, a sleeping baby.

And the baby slept inside her for 40 years. Medically, the baby had been a Fallopian tube pregnancy, meaning the fetus had never made its way to the uterus. But grew in the Fallopian tube. It came to full term this way, bursting the narrow tube early on and attaching the placenta to other body organs in the mother for nourishment. It came to full term, but had died there when it didn’t come out and then “slept.”

When they finally removed it 40 years later it came out calcified, enclosed in bone-like sheathing made of calcium to prevent the decaying tissue from leaking into the mother’s body. This is called a Stone Baby.

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Nowadays, we have better technology so people don’t really have to worry about the “stone baby.” Now we just talk about it because its odd and weird and interesting.

But–and I know this is still true–you have to watch falling head-over-heels for a girl who doesn’t feel the same way about you.

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(Damn, it still stings a little!)

Prizes at the Door

Hello Fellow Bloggers, I want to get some feedback on my book Demon of Montreal. Here’s a link where you can download the free sample off Amazon. 

http://amzn.to/19YG1Jn

And if you like it, I can give a free e-copy to the first 10 people as my way of saying Thank You for helping a fellow blogger spread the word and get off the launching pad. Not a bad door prize all things considered. 

If not for you, nothing lost. 

Whitey approves…

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Carnival Barking for The Age of Aquarius

Ah, ’twas the moment I had been waiting for. The day my books came in the mail!

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No writer should be denied this little moment in time where he gets out of his head and stops self-deprecating long enough to appreciate what his toil hath wrought.

Call me an old fashioned Luddite, but the e-copy just ain’t the same.

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Slender little devils.

I got 25 copies which I will take with me to Rhode Island to NecronomiCon which should be an absolute blast. I will set up my little table and wear my silver Cthulu pendant that I ordered from Italy on Etsy and carnival bark all the weary travelers over to see my wares.

“Step right folks and get yer Demon O’ Montreal books! One for a half-penny, two for a shilling!”

Well, perhaps I should up the price.

In the old days they used to carnival bark all kinds of things on the streets of London. You had a lot of immigrants coming in there and they needed work. So, they found it in very odd ways. You had the mudlarks who dug in the Thames and found various objects washed up on shore from trade ships and sticking in the mud, which they would hawk on the street.

The penny dreadfuls which were a kind of newspaper with lurid headlines to shock you into buying wherein your would read all manner of half truths and outlandish rumors. Sold by urchins. Entertainment.

You had the ratters who ran the high stakes ratting dens where prize fighting dogs would take on a horde of rats, slaughtering them in a mad frenzy. Of course, inevitably the best dogs would fall sick and die after however many matches with rat hordes. Then they would taxidermy the head and put it on the wall with a plaque to honor it. Strange business.  But they had a lot of rats back then.

One of the most prominent tribes of the time were the Romany, or gypsies with their own brand of magick and legend.

So, in the tradition of 19th century London, carnival bark it up!

Musings on Ocean at The End of the Lane with Spoilers

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So I read it. And liked it. Actually I listened to it, which is better than reading it because Neil Gaiman reads it to you and he is just as good a reader as he is a writer.

But, it is not for adults. Whoever started calling this an adult novel was A) smoking crack or B) marketing. One of those. 

This is a little kid story with a very PG sex scene. The main character is 7. The parts I enjoyed the most were the parts that were all but tell of Neil Gaiman’s childhood. I know its “all fictitious” but I also know that life inspires real events and that a writer’s characters are often the writer in another guise or one side of the writer’s persona. And I know there were about a dozen “coincidences” between the opening of the story and real world events that took place about 40 years ago (when the story takes place), not the least of which is the suicide in the car.

I liked the reflective parts. Especially at the end, that was very nice.

What I didn’t dig so much was the last quarter after so and so dies. I say so and so, because I am trying not to spoil it for others. It probably won’t work. Anyway, I really liked Ursula Munkton. I thought, what a great character. And then she, you know, died and I found myself not too interested with the hunger birds because to me they weren’t the main story. But were somehow still there and they became the main story. A little bit too detached from physical reality also. I am a believer that stories need to be grounded in the physical universe plane of existence. Not present day earth necessarily, but a place. Where they have gravity and lights and matter. If you stray too far from that you end up…where? Not sure. But the common ground sort of gets lost. Dream sequences are fine so long as they are sequences and not half the story.

All in all a very nice read or listen. Filled with thought provoking and philosophical tidbits. The main character is charming and very splendid to be with. Yes, splendid.The whole journey is quite enchanting. 

I don’t know that I would call this a novel, though. More at novella or perhaps a display in poetics. At the end, you don’t get the “Just climbed the mountain and had big adventure” feeling you get from reading a book.

So, Points to Improve: A) more and B) older. 

The best parts: The worm in the foot. Ursula Munkton torturing him and seducing his dad. 

Scale Rating 10 Being the Highest: 6.5. 

Recommend It: To kids.