Late Summer, Rainy Days
Sunday, December 1, 2013
Thanksgiving is over. A few days ago. I don't think we had any carrots, but I doubt you would have missed them. It was a pretty big dinner; all kinds of stuff. You would have gotten your fill, trust me.
Now that Thanksgiving is over, Mom's been putting up the Christmas stuff. I waited until she was done, then pulled out the container with my tree and ornaments and all the rest of my Christmas stuff. It took me a few seconds before I took the lid off. I could feel the magic, how special it all is, the tree I bought 16 years ago and still use, and all the ornaments so many people sent me that Christmas, both homemade and store-bought, all of them so special to me still.
Your stocking was right on top. I should get rid of it. It's been five years now. I can't. Maybe your memories are all I have, but those memories mean so much to me. I still love you. I hope you know that. Wherever you are now, I hope you still remember me. I know you'll never get to read this, but maybe the feeling will get to you.
I don't know if I'll put your stocking up this year. I always have. I know you're gone, but I put it up anyway. Maybe this year I won't. Maybe it's time to move on. I don't want to move on. I miss you. But maybe it's time to.
If I don't put up your stocking this year, please don't take it personally. I still love you. I always will. But you moved on. You continued on your journey, to the next place you're supposed to be. It's time for me to do the same. I'm sorry. Thank you for taking time out of your journey to spend a few years with me. Wherever you are now, I hope you're as happy as you made me.
I miss you.
I still love you. I still love you.
Saturday, November 9, 2013
Somewhere deep in the ocean
an ancient city lies
R'lyeh, R'lyeh, how old must you be?
Hidden within your walls
old Cthulhu waits, dreaming
for the day of its return.
There are those who know
who worship dread Cthulhu
praying for the Great Awakening.
We would be in the dark
knowing not a thing
but for author H. P. Lovecraft
who wrote of this ancient horror
that we may know what comes.
While madness may result
from too much thought
can we do nothing?
Can we sit idly by?
Lovecraft, oh Lovecraft
how could you be like this?
To bring the horror to our eyes
but not tell us what to do!
How I long for the days of ignorance
when I knew nothing
the coming horror but a passing wisp
a thought in the dark
I could not remember.
An article found here regarding the subject matter of a book by reporter Colin Woodard says "North America can be broken neatly into 11 separate nation-states, where dominant cultures explain our voting behaviors and attitudes toward everything from social issues to the role of government" and asks which of the 11 Amercation nations you come from.
I didn't really understand that much about America until I was 11. I was born here, and I knew it as "home" but I was only here for a few weeks during the summers. In history class in school I learned about the history of Africa. I couldn't name all of the states or their capitols. To be honest, I could name very few. We moved back to the States just before my 11th birthday, to D.C. and that's when I began to learn about my own country. While my dad would likely claim Greater Appalachia as where he comes from, as he and his family for many generations back was born in West Virginia (or the area that became West Virginia), I do not. I was born there, as he was, but left when I was four to live in Italy. I claim the Tidewater as where I am from. I live in the Deep South now, and have for over 20 years, so I claim both the Tidewater and the Deep South and am proud of both.
Friday, November 8, 2013
I've been writing reviews for the books in the 80s Twilight series by Dell Publishing. The Twilight movies about the recent vampire Twilight series brought the old series to mind. I remember having the books, but not necessarily reading all the ones I have. I preferred the Dark Forces books put out by a different publisher. Unfortunately, there were far less of that series. I have all of those, though they're in a box at Silver Fox, so it may be a while before I get to those. I want to finish the Twilight books I have first. Also unfortunately, I only have about half of the books in the Twilight series. Which means the next one is going to be #9, Demon Tree by Colin Daniel.
My favorite book in either series so far is The Ashton Horror by Laurie Bridges, who is an obvious H. P. Lovecraft fan. Maybe there's a book in the Twilight series that rivals it, but I doubt it.
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
In about a week I'll be getting my first pair of glasses. I keep telling people that I'll become Clark Kent, but really, that's just because I can't say "I'll become Eugene" and have them understand. I'm the only one in my life that understands what a true master Robert Cormier was. And Frenchtown Summer, his book written in verse, was one of his best. He doesn't take one particular point and build on that (like the main character being able to turn invisible in Fade, terrorists kidnapping a school bus full of children in After the First Death, the main character refusing to sell chocolates for the school long after he's told to sell them in The Chocolate War). He takes the main character Eugene, a young boy not sure yet who he is, and writes, in verse, about one of his summers growing up in the Frenchtown section of Monument, Massachusetts (the city that most of his books are set in). Being written in verse is what allows the book to work. There isn't one particular plot point. It's many different things that happen during that summer. But as you progress, with Eugene, toward the end, things become a little more clear, you see things tie together, even if Eugene, at the time, does not.
I like Eugene. Never mind the fact that I enjoy most of Cormier's books, that I consider him a writer that few could touch, Eugene is one of the characters I enjoy the most. While I like a lot of his other characters, Frenchtown Summer really allows Eugene to come into focus, to see all aspects of him, from many different angles.
But it is this, that brings Eugene to mind:
I emerged from Dr. Sampson's office
("The Eyes Have It")
blinking in the sunlight,
and suddenly everything
had sharp edges,
the corners of buildings,
a leaf tumbling
from the maple in Monument Park.
with steel frames,
were a strange weight on my nose.
A world suddenly vivid,
people's faces across the street
no longer blurs.
The glasses were a miracle,
bringing the sweet
gift of sight
in front of Laurier's Drug Store,
placed his hands on his hips
and yelled to me
across the street:
I went Saturday to get an eye exam, and the doctor said the same thing I've heard at every other exam. "You don't need glasses. You're getting there, but you don't need them yet." I told her everybody else says I need them, so I convinced her to go ahead as if I did. So she gave me a prescription for bifocals. So in about a week, give or take a day or two, from last Saturday, I should have some transition bifocals. I haven't even got them yet and already someone called me four-eyes, just like Ernie Forcier with Eugene. But as I've been giving people the Clark Kent line instead of the Eugene one, I reminded her that Clark Kent had a another identity and quoted the Jim Croce song about not tugging on Superman's cape. Heh heh heh.
Monday, November 4, 2013
I got an e-mail from Amazon, asking if I could answer a question posed by a potential customer on one of the items I'd reviewed. A gnocchi board. "Is this made in America?" I had no idea, so I decided to try to find out. I looked up "V581 Gnocchi Board" and found a bunch of links to eBay. Each eBay auction had the same board, sold by different people, with the exact same description and wording, but no information on where it was made. The next few links were to places that compare store prices for you and take you to the store you want to buy from. A bunch of gnocchi boards but only Amazon has the exact one I want. Next up is Sears, which has it for $20 more than Amazon. For a gnocchi board?? Yeowtch! But I'm not buying the board, I just want information. Nope. Sears doesn't list it.
Finally I found another place. Depot.com. So I clicked the link and when the page loaded, this place that was not Amazon, I found they had reviews for it. The first of which was the review I wrote for Amazon. Not quite sure how I feel about that.
Writing a product review is kind of like supporting a business. You're saying I want people to read this review when they look at this item on your website. I want them to know that they can come to your website and see what other people think of the things you sell. To be able to choose what they buy based upon what other customers think. I want them to think about your website when they consider buying something. I do that with Amazon.com. I trust them, and whenever I've had a problem, they've taken care of it for me. I like the quality of the company.
But here's this company I've never heard of, taking reviews people have written for Amazon.com and putting them on their own web site. Like people have gone to Depot.com and written the reviews for them. "Depot is a good company. They have lots of customers. You can tell by how many people write item reviews for them." I don't like that. The more I think about it, the less I like it. I'd like people to be able to see what others think of the item they're considering for purchase, to be able to tell if the item is any good or not, wherever they consider buying it. But don't steal your reviews for someone else. Put up the option for people to write reviews on your website instead of using another company's reviews. That just makes me think less of you as a potential place to buy something.
I never knew this. I knew the box unfolded if you removed the metal handle, but I just thought that the box was falling apart when you did that, so I made sure never to do it when food was in one. This is cool.
Saturday, October 26, 2013
I had an awesome time last night. Mur and I went to see Poco last night in Clearwater. It was Blast Friday and the concert was free, though unless you brought your own chairs, you had to stand for the whole thing. Didn't bother me any. Rusty said he was getting old and tired, so I'm pretty sure this was one of their last concerts. I sang along with every song but the ones from the new album, since until last night I didn't have a copy of it. I now have a copy of the latest album and another shirt, both signed by everyone in the band. I wore the shirt I've had for a long time, which is looking rather old. I discovered Poco 20 years ago, and have pretty much all the albums they've released in the last 45 years, but have never seen them in concert. Last night was really awesome. :)
Friday, October 18, 2013
I was okay until they started playing "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes. :'( There were a couple of times when I teared up, but I held it together well. Until the bagpipes started, and that was it. I remember walking up to say goodbye, then standing off by myself in a hallway, and Cristina, her face as sad and wet as mine, holding on to me and saying he wouldn't want to see us like that. And not much else between the bagpipes starting and us getting to the clubhouse at the park. :(
Monday, October 14, 2013
The best man I ever knew passed away today. I heard this afternoon and I had to pick my jaw up off the floor. The shock has still not passed yet. How can he not be here? They moved to Florida before the year of the hurricanes. When everybody came to stay in my brick house during the first hurricane, he shoved a check into my hand as they were leaving. I didn't want any money for letting them stay while the wind left its mark on their house, but you couldn't tell him no. Just like every time I fixed any computer problems they were having. They were family so I did it for nothing, but if I left without letting him pay me, he'd get mad.
He was very outgoing and very understanding. I didn't often go over and talk to him about problems I was having, but when I did, he understood. We went to Boston to visit them while on vacation from Africa or Italy. I remember him driving us back from the airport and my brother and I had crayons with us. We were holding green crayons and he kept telling us they were red. Actually had me doubting my colors.
One year they came to visit us in Falls Church. They stayed in my room for the visit. At one point I was showing Aunt Harriet my copy of Dr. Seuss' "My Book About Me" in which I'd drawn an outline of one of my hands and one of my feet. When they left and I went back to my room, taped on the wall were two pieces of paper, one with the outline of a hand that said "To my buddy Ray, Uncle Norman's left foot" and the other with the outline of his right foot which said "To my buddy Ray, Uncle Norman's right hand". That became a gag between us afterwards, so on their next trip, I drew the outline of my hand on a piece of wood, cut it out and sanded it. Then I wrote on it in black marker "To my buddy Uncle Norman, Ray's right hand" and on the other side "To my buddy Uncle Norman, Ray's left hand" and put it on the coffee table for him to discover.
He would do anything for you. He would go to the ends of the Earth for you if you needed it. It didn't matter who you were, if you needed help, he was there. He had a definite sense of humor and I never heard him say a bad word against anybody that he really meant.
Sorry if this sounds disjointed and all over the place. I'm just so stunned by it still.
Uncle Norman, you were the best man I ever knew. You don't think about saying those kinds of things to people, so I'm sorry I never told you. I hope that "For my favorite uncle" letter I wrote when I made that double-crusted lemon pie put it across well enough. I'm really going to miss you. I know a lot of other people are as well, but I can't speak for them. All I can really say is that my life won't be near as fulfilling without you. Wherever you go from here, if you need anything, just come back and ask. I love you.
Your buddy, Ray
Sunday, October 13, 2013
"Play to Live" by Charles Veley is Dell Publishing's seventh book in their Twilight series. It's rather short, and I found myself constantly surprised at how much of the book I'd gone through. It's likely no shorter than the other books in the series but the story just seemed like it needed to go on longer.
To be honest, I wasn't that impressed with the book. Most of it read okay, but the cookie cutter ending just bothered me. I'm expecting horror and mysticism and creepiness. What I got instead was a James Bond villian, who acted in the same way I'd expect one to act. Allowing the perfect opportunity for the hero to escape with the information. Where is the creativity? Where is the originality?
It wasn't a bad read, but certainly not a recommended one. After the previous books in the series that I've read, I expected more from this one.
"Voices in the Dark" by James Haynes is Dell Publishing's sixth book in their Twilight series, and I must say, they made a good choice. James Haynes is a good author. I like his writing. Quick and easy, but keeps you wanting to know more, wondering if what you think is going on is really what is going on.
The book starts not long after the school year begins, after Christie has moved to rural Iowa from Chicago with her parents. There are horses, strange voices no one else seems to hear, weird dreams and some Celtic family history. I especially like this story because there's some wish granting involved, which is usually more genies and such than Celtic, bringing a different feel to the whole thing. I won't go into any more for fear of giving anything away. I'll just say that though it was a quick read, there wasn't anything missing and I didn't feel more could really be added. I quite liked it. Worth the read.
Saturday, October 12, 2013
I just finished The Initiation, Dell Publishing's third book in their Twilight series. I really like where they're going with this. I've never heard of Robert Brunn before, which means they're making sure each book is written by a different author. The settings are also different. While the first book was set in Scotland, this one is set in New England, at a pair of prep schools. What could be a better setting for the genre than that?
I won't go into any description of the evil in the book, as I don't want to give anything away. I'll just say that I like the characters, and like the other books, it is a quick read but good. While Brunn could have gone into more detail on some things, nothing was really missing, and considering all the books I've seen in the series are about the same size, he may have been given a maximum size to work with. All in all, I quite liked it.
Friday, October 11, 2013
The Power by Betsy Haynes is the second book in Dell Publishing's "Twilight" series, and they made a good choice. The different author and characters show just what the series is going to be like. While all the books are going to be similar in an eerie quality, about magick or evil, they are not likely to be connected in any other way. They can easily be read out of order with no consequence.
I like how the artwork on the front cover is from the story. I hope all the books in the series are like that. This was a short book and I breezed through it rather quickly. That says something about the quality of the writing. There weren't any unusual words or sentence structures to pull me out of the story. I was with the characters and into the settings the whole time.
The story is set in high school, and lasts less than a week. We begin with Meredith Turner, a day before she's supposed to make a speech in front of the school while running for student council. Her ex-boyfriend is also running and as the book progresses, Meredith has cause to wonder about him. Is he a stand-up guy, or is he playing cruel jokes on her? She has a weird dream that night, and the nights following. Does the note she received, YOU ARE IN MY POWER, actually mean anything? Do the strange feelings she has mean she actually is in someone's power, or is the note just a cruel joke and the feelings just her nerves? But what about her missing friend? And the people turning up dead? Is her ex-boyfriend involved? What about the new boy at the school? Are either of them involved, or is this all due to the guy who escaped from the nearby mental hospital?
Not a very deep story, but a quick read and worth the time. A good addition to the "Twilight" series.
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Weird dream. Who buys two Yugos just in case one breaks down?
Current mood: half-asleep
Monday, October 7, 2013
I was watching Criminal Minds recently, the episode where Rossi goes to tell his ex-wife that he can't do what she wants him to and he realizes she's already done it. She seemed really familiar. It was bugging the heck out of me, so I finally looked her up. I had to type in a description of the episode, find out which episode it was, then look up the episode on IMDB. Then I realized what an idiot I am. Isabella Hofmann. Megan Russert from Homicide: Life on the Street. In my defense, she did look a lot different.
Saturday, October 5, 2013
I meant to write a Facebook post to John Boehner, the Speaker of the House, that very likely only people on my Facebook friends list were ever going to see, but I looked him up to make sure I got his title and name correct, and found myself on his web page, looking at a "Contact" link. So I wrote it to him and sent it. Here's what I wrote:
"Mr. Boehner, I've heard you say on television that the American people don't like the Affordable Care Act. Sir, I was born in West Virginia in 1968, graduated high school in Falls Church, just a few miles outside of D.C. and have spent the last 20 or so years in Florida. Am I not an American? I like the Affordable Care Act and I've yet to talk to someone who dislikes it as much as you say we do. Either you are out of touch with the regular citizen, or you're manufacturing your own facts to get what you want.
Sir, please, go out into the street, talk to the people you see. Find out what the average American person really wants.
I am not a spectacular person. I've spent my life working jobs that paid by the hour, many starting at minimum wage and working up from there. The most impressive thing I've ever done was beating a years-long depression two decades ago. Now I have epilepsy. I lost my last job nearly four years ago thanks to a seizure and haven't been able to get a job since. Sir, I may be a good representation of the people you never talk to. I like the Affordable Care Act, as do the people I know. I can't pay for insurance right now, without a job, but when I can, I don't have to worry about being turned down because of my epilepsy. If you get the Affordable Care Act thrown out, what happens to me? What happens to the rest of us, the American people you keep saying don't like "Obamacare"?
You will likely never see this. It was meant to be written as an open letter to you on my Facebook page that only people on my friends list were likely to see, but when I looked you up to make sure I got your title and the spelling of your name correct, I found your web page with a link to contact you. So I'm sending it to you on the off chance that you might actually see this.
Thanks for taking the time to read this.
Ray P. Riddle"
Sunday, September 29, 2013
Deadly Sleep is the first book in Dell Publishing's young adult horror series "Twilight: Where Darkness Begins". They chose an excellent book to start the series off with. It takes place in Scotland, and there's some history, a lot of legend, and some Shakespeare involved.
Before the book begins, Evelyn Macdonald travels to America as an exchange student and stays with Jaynie's family. The two become friends and the next summer Jaynie travels to Scotland to spend the summer with Evelyn and her family. The book begins on Jaynie's first day there, on the way home from the airport. Her first night she has a weird dream that keeps coming back to her. It seems to be connected to things she knows nothing about, the history of the castle Evelyn takes her to the next day, legends surrounding the place, and even to Shakespeare's "Macbeth", which Jaynie has never read.
I quite like how things build up, slowly, letting you wonder what exactly is going on, and what will eventually happen. I've never read Macbeth so I'm like Jaynie in this, finding it all out new. I'm wondering if my experience would have been different had I read Shakespeare's play before this book.
The book has me thinking about Scotland and wanting to look up its history. Any book that has me wanting to study its subject matter further once I've finished it gets extra points in my consideration.
It's set in Scotland and has you hearing the accent as you're reading the book, it brings Shakespeare to life for me and has me wanting to study more of Scottish history, it's a horror book but without excessive gore, all in all, I'd really recommend this one. Too bad Dale Cowan didn't write any more of the books in this series.
Thursday, September 19, 2013
What the hell is wrong with you?? Why are you so fucking blind?? I. Have. A. Problem. It isn't just a fear! I don't drive because I do have seizures. You were right there last year when I had a major one and got a paint roller to rest my head on. I woke up with my head upon a bloody paint roller because I fell on my face and smashed my nose. How can you not remember that? Yes, being able to drive would make life easier for me, but I can't. How can you be so blind??
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
murrrmaiyd just got me "Oz: The Complete Collection (All 14 Oz Books, with Illustrated Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and Exclusive Bonus Features)" for my Kindle. How awesome is that? I used to have the complete collection when I was a kid, but that was many years ago, and I think one of the books got lost. In any case, I prefer reading books on my Kindle now, and it's been a long time since I've read these. Oh, yeah. This was an awesome gift. :) Thank you!
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