In Motion: Bellingham, Poetry, San Juan Islands, Ted Talks


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Jokes About Writers

Some of my favorite jokes about writers
(because we're so weird)

How many screenwriters does it take to change a light bulb?
Answer: Ten.
1st draft. Hero changes light bulb.
2nd draft. Villain changes light bulb.
3rd draft. Hero stops villain from changing light bulb. Villain falls to death.
4th draft. Lose the light bulb.
5th draft. Light bulb back in. Fluorescent instead of tungsten.
6th draft. Villain breaks bulb, uses it to kill hero's mentor.
7th draft. Fluorescent not working. Back to tungsten.
8th draft. Hero forces villain to eat light bulb.
9th draft. Hero laments loss of light bulb. Doesn't change it.
10th draft. Hero changes light bulb.


How many science fiction writers does it take to change a light bulb?
Two, but it's actually the same person doing it. He went back in time and met himself in the doorway and then the first one sat on the other one's shoulder so that they were able to reach it. Then a major time paradox occurred and the entire room, light bulb, changer and all was blown out of existence. They co-existed in a parallel universe, though.

How many publishers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Three. One to screw it in. Two to hold down the author.

How many mystery writers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Two. One to screw it almost all the way in, and the other to give it a surprising twist at the end.

How many screenwriters does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Why does it *have* to be changed?

How many cover blurb writers does it take to screw in a light bulb?


A writer died and was given the option of going to heaven or hell.

She decided to check out each place first. As the writer descended into the fiery pits, she saw row upon row of writers chained to their desks in a steaming sweatshop. As they worked, they were repeatedly whipped with thorny lashes.

"Oh my," said the writer. "Let me see heaven now."

A few moments later, as she ascended into heaven, she saw rows of writers, chained to their desks in a steaming sweatshop. As they worked, they, too, were whipped with thorny lashes.

"Wait a minute," said the writer. "This is just as bad as hell!"

"Oh no, it's not," replied an unseen voice. "Here, your work gets published."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Nothing is the best something. If you Google “Nothing” you’ll get something: deals for “nothing”, blogs about “nothing”. Google Image gets you photos about the word “nothing” and there is even a town in Arizona called “Nothing”. Perhaps it was founded by the Noth family?

Nothing is where all things come from really, including ideas and useful inventions, such as the telephone. In the 1870’s commerce and people spread across America’s new territories. Mass communication was needed but the current Morse code system was limited to sending only one message at a time. Alexander Graham Bell figured out that many messages could travel simultaneously along the same wire if the signals differed in pitch. Using the same network of wires already in place for the telegraph his "harmonic telegraph" incorporated a technique that benefits society to this day. Now you could argue that there was a rough system in place that Bell simply made improvements on, but that is not the case. The only common denominator is that both systems are wired based. The telegraph uses Morse code mono tones of dots and dashes; the human voice is more musical in nature and has a wider range of characteristics than code. Bell had to create something from nothing.
When you were a kid, did you ever sit in front of your old radio tuner trying to find a new station or a familiar song? In the 70’s the AM channels always had the weirdest stuff on them during the night. I would sit crossed legged in front of the massive radio, slowly rotating the large dial, making my way down the frequencies marked on the plate looking for something… anything. In between the stations was dead air, nothing but static. If the weather was right radio waves would bounce over from foreign countries and far away cities. Imagine my joy when I first discovered the Dr Demento Show! Out of the snowy static of nothingness, rising up from the dust of the indistinguishable comes Dr Demento!

*cue dramatic music*

Dr Demento’s radio program was an hour of pure goofiness, and the guy is still going. In 2010 he’ll celebrate 40 years. This National Radio Hall Of Famer has put together creative people, energy, and ideas on his show for 40 years.  Congratulations Dr Demento!

Ideas are like that- a station hidden in the static, and all we need to do is sit, wait and get tuned in.

Visit his site, hear his silliness:

Friday, April 16, 2010

Sadistic Sun

Before my eyes crack open to greet the day I’m realizing that today is THAT day.
I’m up! Physically my body lay still in bed, covers up to the chin. For the past twenty minutes or so my mind has been turning like a sour stomach; thoughts, images, ideas good and bad, swirling around up in my cranial cavity seeking a quick exit, seeking to be heard. The bed too warm to leave, the scratching at the door reminds me Princess needs food. So I get up and head for my chair and keyboard in the other room; it is time to write… and feed the cat.

Cat fed, OK… I’m ready… “You words can come out now!” …Silence answers. “What’s holding up the creative process? Hello?” An emotional beaver-like dam has positioned itself somewhere between my brain and fingers. Perhaps it’s not time to sit; but to walk. It’s 5:12 in the morning. A warm cup of tea in hand, walking around the room, I notice the sound of little tweets outside. The Chickadee’s that frequent the grove tell me the sun must be getting ready to rise.

The sun has a busy schedule to keep, at least a prudent one, it rises every morning on schedule, more reliable than a city bus. Opening my living room blinds reviles the trees in the grove as they start to take shape, painted black on a dark blue canvas. Slowly the sun will creep up over the hills and day will break. Normally I would be enjoying this moment, but not today. It’s too early and my mood is as dark as the sky. Standing there the bird tweets get muffled by the sound of electronic snow emanating from my head, I’m out of tune and need to find a frequency. “Go away sun! I want to go back to sleep!”

Apparently the earth spinning gives the effect of the sun moving, (I saw this on PBS so it must be true). But let’s be honest with each other for a moment, we all know the sun is a lazy sun of a bitch. Outside of being the life source of our planet, this nuclear fusion machine pretty much sits there, like a Little Miss Muffet. The universe really does revolve around it! The sun just sits there stirring and churning inside of itself spewing out fountains of nuclear lava in radiant displays like a scarves dancing drag queen. “Look at me! Look at me!” it says. Oh ya I’ll look at you, and then go BLIND! The human retina does not have pain receptors, so while we enjoy your “splendor” we will not even feel the damage being done! You sadistic pig!

The sun mocks me this morning; it has yet to rise and I hate it. However it is not the sun I hate although I try to divert my brain traffic to that off ramp, I am really nervous about what my day timer has slotted between 10:00 – 1:00. Today’s challenge will come and go; I’ll blink and the day will be over. Do you know how I know? Time continues on with or with out us. That sun that I hate now, will set tonight as it always has. We have no control over the powers of the universe, however you can choose to stay in a moment, wallowing in a muddy existence like a pig in a pen or quickly swallow time down like a Brussels sprout. “Crap! Alright I won’t cancel, I’ll go I’ll go!” I tell myself. “I won’t wallow anymore.” I hate Brussels sprouts!

It’s a new day, fresh and ready for me …and I’m ready for it. (Really I am… honestly)

Birds flying high
You know how I feel
Sun in the sky
You know how I feel
Reeds driftin' on by
You know how I feel
It's a new dawn
It's a new day
It's a new life
For me
And I'm feeling good

written by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse, 1964


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Generous writing; Foie Gras reading

As you know I’ve just started to dive into this great adventure called “become a master author and get published”. My writing has gone under the microscope and I am its worst critic. My spelling is not so good; I’ve read less than 200 books in my lifetime, and my most recent discovered fault: I lack descriptive words.
Quite often when I am writing a story I will leave out some information like the color of someone’s shirt, even if I see it in my mind, because I feel it would bore the reader to know such detail. After careful thought I’ve concluded that this attitude toward details is due to bad writing habits from my past. Working in an office for ten years has striped me of any creative writing abilities that I now see MUST be recovered! Many times in my grey cubicle I would slave over the simplest of memos before hitting “send” to confirm that there wasn’t anything fluffy or unnecessary in the note. For example: “Stacey from Les Schwab confirms if commercial #123-A doesn’t arrive in time to air, we are to air spot #123-B in its place.” But I struggled with wanting to add the “WHY” factor into the memo. People in offices do not want to know why. If they do, they will ask.

Looking over my first piece I’ve selected for the SJI Writers group to critique I am full of anxiety. There are many places where I could add something, take something else away and so on. I just hope no one feels like they are grading a high school paper. One big difference between my writing and other member’s are descriptive words.

Christopher, my husband, is a poet and a master of words. In the red car driving steadily into town, we discussed at great length the importance of knowing how many descriptive words to include in a sentence. Chris suggested that the one who started the over dose on it all was the American author Herman Melville. Melville wrote the great American novel, “Moby Dick” in 1851 when “Twitter” was only something a bird did, but his use of the English language is almost exhausting to digest. Each sentence makes you feel like a goose on a foie gras farm gagging down the details of the simplest events!
Here is an example of his work. Keep in mind, there are only seven sentences:

“You may have seen many a quaint craft in your day, for aught I know; - squared-toed luggers; mountainous Japanese junks; butter-box galliots, and what not; but take my word for it, you never saw such a rare old craft as this same rare old Pequod. She was a ship of the old school, rather small if anything; with an old fashioned claw-footed look about her. Long seasoned and weather-stained in the typhoons and calms of all four oceans, her old hull's complexion was darkened like a French grenadier's, who has alike fought in Egypt and Siberia. Her venerable bows looked bearded. Her masts - cut somewhere on the coast of Japan, where her original ones were lost overboard in a gale - her masts stood stiffly up like the spines of the three old kings of Cologne. Her ancient decks were worn and wrinkled, like the pilgrim-worshipped flag-stone in Canterbury Cathedral where Beckett bled. But to all these her old antiquities, were added new and marvelous features, pertaining to the wild business that for more than half a century she had followed. Old Captain Peleg, many years her chief-mate, before he commanded another vessel of his own, and now a retired seaman, and one of the principal owners of the Pequod, - this old Peleg, during the term of his chief-mateship, had built upon her original grotesqueness, and inlaid it, all over, with a quaintness both of material and device, unmatched by anything except it be Thorkill-Hake's carved buckler or bedstead.”**

He simply will not allow himself to write, “I looked and saw the old brown ship, Pequod.” If he did his fingers would break not to mention his conscious. This man is committed to painting the picture!

Arrgghh! -So much to learn. My “Moby Dick” is finding (re-finding) my unique writing style. In order to do that I’ll need to write a lot… and with great fervor, …ahhh…sitting a top the cushions of leather framed around proper back support, while they themselves sit upon a carousel of wheel set to move in any direction my body wills to moves them. Aye, my body dose not move away from the black board of symbols that lay before the troubled torso; instead the forearms and elbows stand firm to prop up my focus on said goal. All that would be seen in motion by any soul, who happen to enter the room, be but the tips of this human extension. For one to see, to truly see all to be seen, that would take a different eye. The movement within the mind, which exceeds the speed of fingers, yea only in the eye of imagination, the form in the mist, the very beginning of vision and the conjuring of characters. Conjure I do like a wizard over a glass orb, perhaps you prefer a weaver, with each stroke spinning together words and visions into an object a child could hold and cover over it’s head when scared. If only these tips would weave a million blankets! Warmed by an artist's craft, as if to purposely leave thy fingerprint, touched and warmed by words on the cold night that is our very existence.


Friday, April 9, 2010

Enchanted Music from Hell

Once a month the writers group on the island meets to critique works submitted by other members. I've decided to submit a portion of a book I'm working on. This is a first draft; I'll follow up on the feedback I get in May.

This chapter of the book is about my job at Enchanted Village in Federal Way, Washington. I was a 15 yr old ride operator making my first regular paycheck.

"Before every ride we repeated the safety rules, and as the customers exited the ride, per company rules-- we wished them all “Have a happy day!”
Saying good bye was right out. These people needed to have a HAPPY day! It was forced on them not only by every ride operator or food vendor they met, but also by the insanely happy music and bird chirping effects played non-stop over the loud speakers located throughout all 12 acres. YOU WERE GOING TO BE HAPPY you couldn't’t escape it, not even in the parking lot or the restrooms!

I remember one day I was alone upstairs in the elf-employee break room. There was this long hallway that joined the break room to the park offices. I spied the sound system. The music was on a double sided 2 hour tape reel. It played over and over again like a merciless monster. I thought for the tapes safety they should keep it under lock and key; I was sure I wasn’t the only one who hated it. But there it spun over and over again in plain sight, mocking me. For a brief moment I imagined myself ripping it off the reels in slow motion and with tape in arms, running down the stairs, knocking down the guy in a bunny outfit waving people in the door and throwing the tapes over the fence into I-5 traffic. But I didn't do this and the tape lived on. By the end of a month I had the tape memorized. I was it's tool.
Oh well, break over, back to work.

“Wow what an annoying song. They must play it in hell.”
A parent said to me once. “How can you stand that music ALL day?” I was shocked by this comment because most customers seemed to not notice it.
I wanted to say, “Mister, I’m 15 and dressed like Peter Pan’s sister and you think the only thing I’m worried about is the music?” Deep breath.
“Oh it’s not that bad. It’s happy. It keeps me happy. Have a happy day! Bye! Be Happy!”"

One time many years later while shopping at grocery store I heard one of the songs played over the store speakers, and my eye started to twitch a bit. It haunts me to this day.

Current Wild Wave Enchanted Village Map

*The Enchanted Village theme park was first opened in 1977 by Byron Betts. The initial 12-acre (49,000 m2) park site held only a half-dozen rides. In 1984, Wild Waves Water park was built adjacent to Enchanted Village[2]; the combined amusement complex became known as Enchanted Parks. In 1992 park chief executive Jeff Stock paid $8 million for Enchanted Parks. Late in 2000 Six Flags purchased the park for $19.3 million.[3] In 2000 the park had grown to over 70 acres (280,000 m2), with more than 20 rides, and was the Northwest's largest water park.[1] In 2002 approximately 1000 seasonal workers were employed for positions as rides operators and food service workers. Many of these seasonal workers are also students of local high schools. [4]

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Coffee Ghost

The Coffee Ghost

The lake in the morning shone like polished glass. Looking around, the sun was peeking through the trees, shooting rays of light through the ground fog. Above, the clouds were changing colors like a slow moving kaleidoscope. Taking a deep breath of that full fresh mountain air, I knew this was one of the best sunrises ever witnessed.
Disturbing the symphony of the bird’s charming mating calls; my boots seemed so noisy and rude…
*crunch* *crunch* *crunch*
…walking out of the cabin and down to the car on the gravel driveway. The noise seemed so out of tune with the rest of the events I knew I’d have to compensate later with a quiet book reading in the chair on the covered porch that faced the lake. What a fantastic punishment. Taking the keys out of my flannel jacket was like a symbol clashing, but I was committed to reach the trunk and retrieve the items their in.
The key turned and inside the trunk to my surprise were kittens! Fifty happy furry little kittens. “Oh my goodness! How did you sillies get in here? I told you to stay home.” The kittens over took me and soon all fifty-one of us were on the ground playing and purring up a storm. Could this morning get any better?
And then I smelt it. The most beautiful smell in the world. Emanating from the cabin was this incredible ambrosia-like smell of coffee. The best coffee in the world. The smell of warmth and love drew me, seduced me, and called to me like a siren to a sailor. Chris is up and he’s making coffee… I thought, oh the fragrance from heaven! Chanting Coffee, coffee, coffee… I floated towards the cabin door.
My eyes opened to focus on my bedroom ceiling, the beam and a ceiling fan staring back. It was all just a dream, just a wonderful dream. But, a quick inventory of sorts made me realize part of it wasn’t a dream. Coffee?! I quickly looked over at the clock. It was 4 o’clock in the morning, why did my house smell like wonderful coffee. My mom was staying over that week and I’m telling you she is a true fan of that java mixture of champions. Before her arrival I had purchased plenty of beans and cream to help make her feel welcomed. The coffee pot in the kitchen was set up, and timer ready to go on at six. Hmmm… let’s go take a look-see.
Using my toes as radar I crossed our dark living room, weaving around some furniture but walking a straight a line as possible in the quickest fashion towards the kitchen. Locating the coffee pot with ease thanks to a night light I discovered that the coffee pot was NOT on. “Interesting.” Oh well, back to bed. Moving in the opposite direction that I had just arrived to that corner of the house, I found the warmth and comfort of my bed and quickly went back to my trunk full of kittens by the lake.
The next morning, in real life, the family found themselves gathering around the kitchen table making morning small talk. Without going into too much detail for fear of seeming strange I causally mentioned that I woke up in the middle of the night to the smell of coffee and thought the coffee pot had started brewing two hours early.
“That’s interesting Shannon,” my mom said, “I did the same thing.”
With a quick chuckle, Christopher, said, “You know that IS funny. I got up and checked the coffee also.”
“Wow, I wish I had a cup of what I smelled last night. It was the best coffee ever. Our neighbor works the night shift I bet it came over from their house, or something.”

This was my mom’s second visit to Arizona so we had a nice agenda of places to see and visit while she was in town. Summer was just around the corner and the perfect time to be in the desert. Not too many Washingtonians can handle the 105 degree weather that the summer brings; it takes a while to get acclimated. Prolong exposure to the heat also destroys the webbing between the digits, a real pain to grow them back.
It had been over a year since her first visit, but I had recently seen her at dad’s funeral in February. In 2005 my father John had passed away, after struggling with lung disease. Dad had a wry sense of humor and a cutting wit that could catch people off guard. On family road trips he would alert the family “Looks like we’re close to Coffee Mountain.” Why dad? “Because we just passed a sign that said “Doughnut Pass”. Groooaannnn! “Dad!” He’d sit up there behind the steering wheel and chuckle at his own joke. He was a real character, is greatly missed and long remembered.
After lunch mom and I found a sunny spot in the front of the house and started to chat some time away while we waited for the kids to come home from school. Drinking coffee of course. Stopping myself in mid sip I raised my hand to my eyes to keep them from popping out of my head. Behind my mom, through the window and mingling amongst the Oleanders was the most beautiful Pheasant I had ever seen. We had lived in that neighborhood for over three years; the most exotic birds were flocks of grey doves’ coo, coo, cooing in the yard all day. “Mom, there's a pheasant in the yard!” We went outside and watched as this laid back fowl just took a Sunday stroll around the corner and down the street, never to be seen again.
“Mom, I think that was dad.” Mom’s eyes stared at me, over the rim of her glasses with the look only mom’s have the power to give. “No I’m serious. The coffee smell and that bird- I think it’s dad saying Hi.”
Since that “visit” the coffee ghost continues to come by, at random moments, in the middle of the night, waking us from our dreams. I no longer race to the kitchen to check the dysfunction of a kitchen appliance, now I just roll over in the warm bed and smile.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Unveil the Evil

I believe if you want to be an advocate for woman’s rights then you should be on guard & educated regarding Sharia law. Sharia law is anti-woman, anti-family, & anti-human! Sharia law is currently practiced in Iran,Pakistan,Saudi Arabia,Nigeria,Sudan,Iraq (prior to 2003),and Egypt. Islamic law is now the most widely used religious law, and one of the three most common legal systems of the world alongside common law and civil law (Roman law).

It’s an issue close to my heart and I wanted to share.

The article below is written about a woman born and raised in Egypt and later in Gaza. In her latest book, Darwish warns about creeping Sharia law - what it is, what it means, and how it is manifested in Islamic countries.

Joys of Muslim Women
By Nonie Darwish


In the Muslim faith a Muslim man can marry a child as young as 1 year old and have sexual intimacy with this child. Consummating the marriage by 9.
The dowry is given to the family in exchange for the woman (who becomes his slave) and for the purchase of the private parts of the woman, to use her as a toy.
Even though a woman is abused she can not obtain a divorce.
To prove rape, the woman must have (4) male witnesses.
Often after a woman has been raped, she is returned to her family and the family must return the dowry. The family has the right to execute her (an honor killing) to restore the honor of the family. Husbands can beat their wives 'at will' and he does not have to say why he has beaten her.
The husband is permitted to have (4 wives) and a temporary wife for an hour (prostitute) at his discretion.
The Sharia Muslim law controls the private as well as the public life of the woman.
In the West World (America) Muslim men are starting to demand Sharia Law so the wife can not obtain a divorce and he can have full and complete control of her. It is amazing and alarming how many of our sisters and daughters attending American Universities are now marrying Muslim men and submitting themselves and their children unsuspectingly to the Sharia law.
By passing this on, enlightened American women may avoid becoming a slave under Sharia Law.

Author and lecturer Nonie Darwish says the goal of radical Islamists is to impose Sharia law on the world, ripping Western law and liberty in two.
She recently authored the book, Cruel and Usual Punishment: The Terrifying Global Implications of Islamic Law.
Darwish was born in Cairo and spent her childhood in Egypt and Gaza before immigrating to America in 1978, when she was eight years old. Her father died while leading covert attacks on Israel. He was a high-ranking Egyptian military officer stationed with his family in Gaza.
When he died, he was considered a "shahid," a martyr for jihad. His posthumous status earned Nonie and her family an elevated position in Muslim society.
But Darwish developed a skeptical eye at an early age. She questioned her own Muslim culture and upbringing. She converted to Christianity after hearing a Christian preacher on television.

In her latest book, Darwish warns about creeping Sharia law - what it is what it means, and how it is manifested in Islamic countries.
For the West, she says radical Islamists are working to impose Sharia on the world. If that happens, Western civilization will be destroyed. Westerners generally assume all religions encourage a respect for the dignity of each individual. Islamic law (Sharia) teaches that non-Muslims should be subjugated or killed in this world.
Peace and prosperity for one's children is not as important as assuring that Islamic law rules everywhere in the Middle East and eventually in the world.
While Westerners tend to think that all religions encourage some form of the golden rule, Sharia teaches two systems of ethics - one for Muslims and another for non-Muslims. Building on tribal practices of the seventh century, Sharia encourages the side of humanity that wants to take from and subjugate others.
While Westerners tend to think in terms of religious people developing a personal understanding of and relationship with God, Sharia advocates executing people who ask difficult questions that could be interpreted as criticism.

It's hard to imagine, that in this day and age, Islamic scholars agree that those who criticize Islam or choose to stop being Muslim should be executed. Sadly, while talk of an Islamic reformation is common and even assumed by many in the West, such murmurings in the Middle East are silenced through intimidation.
While Westerners are accustomed to an increase in religious tolerance over time, Darwish explains how petrol dollars are being used to grow an extremely intolerant form of political Islam in her native Egypt and elsewhere.

**In twenty years there will be enough Muslim voters in the U.S. to elect the President by themselves! Rest assured they will do so... You can look at how they have taken over several towns in the USA ... Dearborn Mich. is one... and there are others...

It is too bad that so many are disillusioned with life and Christianity to accept Muslims as peaceful. Some may be but they have an army that is willing to shed blood in the name of Islam. The peaceful support the warriors with their finances and own kind of patriotism to their religion. While America is getting rid of Christianity from all public sites and erasing God from the lives of children the Muslims are planning a great jihad on America.