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So Much Stuff I Can't Recall

Friday, June 30, 2006

This Could Be Problematic

Should all go to plan, I'll be meeting an internet friend, Mark Bertrand, this Sunday as he settles in for a week at Linfield College (90 minutes north of here). I "met" Mark at Dave Long's faith*in*fiction message board a couple years back. He's a smart guy, great writer, smooth talker, and countless more adjective-noun combinations.

Anyhoo, I had some fun with Photoshop at his expense earlier this month. His response: "That is truly chilling." Now is that "chilling" as in "Mark's frosted at me"? Or as in "we be chillin'"? Or some third or fourth options known only to Texans and aesthetes (or--dare I consider it?--the combination of the two!)?

I've heard he's got a sense of humor, so maybe I'm safe(ish). But this post from Gizmodo (via digg) has me worried. I know he's got a Nano and Method #5 would appeal to someone with a sense of humor who doesn't want to damage their iPod (I imagine he'd tie a string to the Nano and yank it away as I fell to my doom). Then again, I've got the Method #7 song on my 30Gb iPod, so maybe our mutually assured destruction will result in a standoff.

Then we'll go for coffee.

(If I don't post on Monday, check for tiger traps dug in or around McMinnville, Oregon. Linfield is bottom, center of the map...)

Mikesell : 11:29 PM : 4 snarky remarks

Book Chat with T.L. Hines

T.L. (Tony) Hines’ Waking Lazarus just hit the bookstores a week or so ago. I got a sneak peek at an Advance Review Copy (ARC) earlier in the month and "Whoa, Nellie!"

Tony does a great job of capturing the voices of his characters--kids, adults, men, women, Montanans, non-Montanans; they're all in here. Here's a snippet of the story, taken from the opening chapter when our hero, Jude Allman (no relation to the Brothers of musical fame so far as I can tell) is eight years old, recently dead, and waking up in ... well see if you can figure it out on your own.
When Jude awoke, he didn't move. Didn't even open his eyes. He felt the crisp linen of a sheet pressed against his face, pressed against his whole body, and the sensation made him realize his clothes were missing. Buck-naked, as mom always said when he popped out of the bathtub. And something was tied to his toe. A piece of string? What kind of game was that? Not one he liked, he decided.

From a lead character with recurring resurrections to a child-abducting creepazoid, with some genuinely moving father-son relationship stuff along the way, Waking Lazarus delivers. Medium- to fast-paced action throughout; good use of humor. Even when you can tell where the story is headed, Tony throws in a couple twists on the way to your eventual destination. An overly convenient miracle or two patch together the plot, but in no way diminish the story.

I recommend the book whole-heartedly. (I expected the child abduction storyline to be more gruesome that it was. I was pleased with how taut Tony kept it with a minimum of mess; much more psychologically intense...) Maybe not everyone’s cup of joe, but for them that’s is, it’s good drinking.

Tony did me the favor of answering five questions I sent his way. I think it's only fair to share them with you (since he kinda figured that was the deal):
  1. Which "darling" (character/scene/plot element) was most painful to kill?

    Oooh, that's a good one. We actually killed a few whole chapters in a couple sections, but I didn't really miss those.

    And, we killed one whole chapter from the Hunter's POV pretty late in the work that, at the time, was a tough darling to kill. I really liked it, and thought it may have had the creepiest scene in the entire book. In essence, it was about the Hunter spending some quality time in the basement, having a live rat snack and ruminating on the communal qualities of his interactions with Quarry.

    In retrospect, however, it was probably good to kill that chapter, because it may have put a few people over the top. And I think it almost suggested the Hunter was cannibalistic, which I'd never intended and wanted to back away from. It's hard enough to get people through a book about a child abductor; probably best not to add to the difficulty.

    Interestingly enough, however, Dave Long, my editor at Bethany House, didn't want to cut the chapter because of the content--he pointed out that nothing really "happens" in the chapter, and it only served to show the Hunter is a pretty creepy character. I think we'd already established that elsewhere pretty well.

  2. I couldn't help but think of Stephen King's The Dead Zone once things really started moving for Jude. Anything you'd like to say about that? (The TDZ connection, not the way my mind works—or doesn't, as the case may be.)

    You know, I couldn't help but think of Stephen King's The Dead Zone while writing it. You got me. I think The Dead Zone is criminally overlooked in the King canon (as is its film counterpart)--if it can be said that anything by Stephen King has been overlooked in the least.

    TDZ was certainly an inspiration, and the two books have a similar "big picture"--both are about genuinely good, common men who have to come to grips with an overwhelming power--but I think they have different flavors. King veered more into high-stakes, world in peril kind of stuff, and thematically, TDZ seemed to be a lot about lost opportunities and lost chances. My story, I think, stays more personal and rural, and thematically is more about family relationships (specifically the relationship between father and son), and how those relationships can strengthen or warp.

  3. You ever get Gregory Hines' mail by mistake?

    Only his utility bills, for some reason. None of his residual checks. I mean, think of the residuals he must have rolling in for Deal of the Century and Running Scared alone. [According to the Internet Movie Database, Greg Hines died in 2003 of liver cancer ... hmmm, where'd you say you did your research on this spontaneous resurrection biz, Tony?]

  4. Talk about the "soundtrack," free-flow, stream of consciousness, avoid prepositions.

    Better Than Ezra yes a preposition but it's the band's name Pixies much Pixies Wilco Foo Fighters Hillsong Worship Derek Webb David Crowder Band--later drafts and edits--often just hit iPod's shuffle so mixed many many songs

    I went above and beyond, avoiding prepositions AND punctuation. Kinda like my first drafts.

  5. What's next for Tony Hines? Another thriller? Broadway musical? Shadow puppets? What?

    My second book for Bethany House--another supernatural thriller. This one is set in Butte, Montana. It's tentatively titled Valley of Shadow (though we'll be picking a final title in the next few months), and it's about a woman who hears her dead father speaking to her from the shadows. He tells her the spirits of the dead occupy the shadows of our world, and convinces her to join a secret government network that communicates with the shadows. But all is not as it seems, naturally; soon, she finds out the true nature of the shadows--and the true nature of what they really want.

    This book, as you can probably tell, was inspired by The Bridges of Madison County.

Thanks for playing along, Tony. For more stops on the Waking Lazarus blog tour, info on the book its own bad self, and how to get your hands on that soundtrack, check out Tony's blog.

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Mikesell : 9:32 AM : 2 snarky remarks

Tony Hines on TV

Tomorrow I'll be posting a review of T.L. Hines' new book, Waking Lazarus, and a brief interview with Tony. But tonight I thought I'd call all you insomniacs' attention to a TV interview Tony did yesterday.

And be sure to check out all his other stops on the Waking Lazarus blog tour, listed here and here.

Mikesell : 1:00 AM : 0 snarky remarks

Thursday, June 29, 2006

"Two, Now One" in the Gutter

At 226 words, "Two, Now One" is my shortest short story yet (now appearing over at Flashing in the Gutters). Trying some pacing out, some (I hope) misdirection. A bit more grisly than my other stories, too.

Not necessarily for everyone; if the griz and a quick visit to an "adult" store are not for you, then the story's probably not up your alley. Reader beware.

Mikesell : 5:16 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Happy 6th, Phil

You're now 33.333% of the way to being out of the nest.

I spent the afternoon and evening in Eugene (I'm now blogging from the Eugene Airport on their free-wifi--well, $2/hr. if you count parking, and I do--waiting for a new staff person from the UK), so I missed the candle-blowing ceremony at dinner. But I did get this picture of Phil and his congratulatory e-mails at lunch.

Happy birthday, Phil. Love you lots!

Mikesell : 1:21 AM : 0 snarky remarks

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Boys of Summer

Here are three pictures of Phil and part of his cabin heading down to the lake for yesterday's swim test: 1, 2, 3.

Mikesell : 4:45 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Happy Camper

After living on-site at a summer camp/conference center his entire life, Phil finally got a taste of camper life this afternoon. Dina and I stopped by to check in on staff this evening (after having a nice dinner at the Outback--isn't that why parents send their kids to camp in the first place?) and Phil and his cabin ran by. He shouted "Hi, Mom!" over his shoulder and ran off again. Good times.

We're really not supposed to interacting with him (none of the other parents get to, and it tweaks the camper-camper and camper-counselor vibes), but it was a-ok during "camper drop-off time," so I snapped these pix:And here are a couple nature shots:
Dina uploads camp pictures to Bunk1 several times a day, so I'll try and snag a few of Phil without having to snap the pix myself. Stay tuned...

Mikesell : 11:47 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Pirate of the Caribbean

On the well-tanned heels of my first guest from British Virgin Island (the 100th country to stop by here), my first guest from Aruba has dropped in (s/he was interested in one of my favorite pictures of the boy).

This brings me up to 45% of the countries tracked by world66. Aruba, like BVI, doesn't squeak out a pixel's-difference on world66's map, so no picture this time. Instead, here's the goods that the CIA has on the country that leads off The Beach Boys' Rand-McNally-inspired, mid-80s hit, Kokomo.

Mikesell : 3:29 PM : 0 snarky remarks

New Short Story Online

Yeah, I've been beating this drum awhile now, but today I get to add a trumpet flourish.

"The Fortunate Purgatory of Arthur MacArthur" is now online, published by Dragons, Knights & Angels Magazine. TFPoAM was the winner in DKA's recent short story contest; a fact I am both humbled and honored by every time I mix it into casual conversation.

Be sure to check out the other contest winners and the rest of the June issue. Good stuff, Maynard.

And muchos thankos to Selena, Mir, and the rest of the DKA gang. I'm so greatful you're running my story; the win is just the whipped cream on a parfait dessert. Mmmmm ... parfait.

Mikesell : 11:29 AM : 4 snarky remarks

Monday, June 26, 2006

Too Cool for Pool

Okay, we don't have a pool here at camp, but Too Cool for Lake doesn't have the same I don't know what (a phrase which itself lacks that certain je ne sais quoi).

Still, Phil is quite the coolster in this picture (listening to Skipper explain swimming policies).

Mikesell : 12:06 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Busy Week

Well, parts of it.

Today was the final program for VBS during church. I was in the soundbooth, running both the audio (soundboard) and visual (video projectors, hopping back between MediaShout and PowerPoint). I heard Phil stole the show with his dance moves. I didn't see much from my vantage point at the back of the room, but someone should be sending me pix.

(Dina tracked us down at WalMart after church. Unfortunately she was leaning into the car to leave us a note when I arrived with a shopping cart of Pepsi multipacks and assorted oddments. Seeing someone halfway in, halfway out of the driver's seat at the WalMart parking lot when you're not expecting anyone will get your heart a'pumpin'. Fortunately I recognized her before going all Hong Kong Phooey...)

Summer camp was getting underway when we got home; lots of hub-bub.

Phil's mini-session starts Tuesday afternoon. The same day I have a dental cleaning in the morning and a short story appears at DKA Magazine. Somewhen between now and then I'll need to pick up a late-arriving counselor from Ukraine (his NYC flight today was cancelled; not sure yet when he'll be rescheduled).

Phil's birthday is Wednesday, but as he's a camper we'll be celebrating Friday after his session ends.

On Saturday, in lieu of a big party, we're doing waterpark, pizza, minigolf and whoknowswhatelse with his friend Jackson. (Here's the two of them after church this morning.)

And only six month's-worth of shopping days until Christmas.

Mikesell : 9:56 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Philip’s Babychildhood

From the “when five-year-olds wax nostalgic only days before their sixth birthday” department:

Dina just had the following conversation with Philip...

Phil: “You have to save stuff from my babychildhood [he ran it all together] to remind me of my babychildhood.”

Dina: “We did.”

Phil: “Yeah, ‘cause in my babychildhood I didn’t get time outs. I was too cute and you wouldn’t give me time outs.”

Which coincides nicely with the fact that this post comes in third at Google for “stalling technique” bedtime.

Ah, yes -- the good old days...

Mikesell : 10:38 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Goodwill Haul

Dina had to run some errands in town today, so Phil and I tagged along and hit a Goodwill Superstore that opened recently off of Delta Highway in Eugene. What'd we get?

MUSIC!
The Snow Files: The Film Music of Mark Snow: a 31-minute X-Files suite and another forty-plus minutes of other stuff.

Star Power: Louis Armstrong: A Canadian release, seems to be of the K-Tel or "Right Price" low-budget variety. (Sorry Canada if this is a premiere label...)

BOOKS!
X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills (graphic novel): This is going for as low as $30 on the Amazon reseller circuit, I paid a buck (some cover scuffage, but quite nice inside).

"The Yellow Wallpaper" and Other Stories by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (Dover Thrift Edition): TYP is an awesome story, the slim volume includes six others. Hopefully it'll play nice with my Dover Thrifts of W.S. Gilbert's
Mikado and Kipling's Gunga Din and Other Light Favorites Favorite Poems.

Eyes of Elisha by Brandilyn Collins (with the original cover).

PLUS!
I also grabbed (for Dina) a couple CDs by George Winston (December and Winter into Spring), The Dreams of Children by Shadowfax, and a book, Camp Counseling by A. Viola Mitchell, et. al.--turns out this was a textbook Dina used back in her leisure rec. days at U of O (not this specific book, but still ... good times).

Phil got a Batman action figure and a mostly-intact Batmobile for said figure to drive around in, fight crime, crush toes, smash ankles, etc.

Not a bad deal for twenty bucks.

Mikesell : 9:07 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Don't Miss It

Jane Lebak's "Even a Stone" is up at DKA Magazine. I "know" Jane from the faith*in*fiction messageboard and her work in The Wittenburg Door. When the DKA contest results were announced I was surprised a) I won and b) I beat Jane. After reading her story I'm even more amazed.

Should my story fail to meet the obligations required of it, Jane's -- as first runner-up -- is more than able to step in and fill the void. Congrats on a great story, Jane.

Mikesell : 2:12 PM : 2 snarky remarks

Friday, June 23, 2006

Mean Ol' Mr. Mouse Charger

A few months ago I bought a wireless rechargable mouse for my PowerBook. Unfortunately it didn't come with a charging cradle, just a cable. Since then I've been recharging using the cable and my iPod USB Power Adapter. It works, but I tended to forget to put the mouse on the charger before it ran out of juice.

So I went and made myself a charging cradle out of LEGOs. I picked up a set of 200 bricks for $3 and a $5 Bionicle, put 'em together, and in slightly more time than it takes to say voila, I had it made: kind of a castle mixed with Half Life tentacles (by way of a headcrab).

Here's a look:
With mouse "captured":
The tentacles/headcrab is on a hinge so it can be "up" or "down". When "down," it looks like this. (The first "back" picture was also in the "down" position, too.) I wish I could have found a way to incorporate the pincers and spinning disc, but the Bionicle set didn't interface well with the standard LEGOs. <sigh>

Plus it's home to my Skeleton Guy with top-hatted head mask. Ooooh, spooky.

(The day I picked up the LEGOs, I also got this Laptop Cooling Pad. Makes a big difference with the PowerBook, particularly when using the computer in my lap.)

Mikesell : 9:52 PM : 0 snarky remarks

100 Countries!

Having held steady at 99 countries sending visitors to the blog, I got my 100th country yesterday: British Virgin Islands (not at present owned by Richard Branson, though that could change...).

On the map generated by World66, BVI doesn't seem to get a pixel of its own. Still, here's what 100 countries looks like.

Mikesell : 9:31 AM : 0 snarky remarks

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Belatedness

I've been caught up in VBS mania this week and a couple things have slipped through the cracks.

First, check out the other honorable mention in the DKA Magazine contest: "The Waters Stir" by Rachel A. Marks. And, so I don't fall behind again, Jane Lebak's "Even a Stone" will appear in the runner up's spot this Saturday. Here's a link to the magazine in case I get caught up in Open House fever this weekend.

Second, Phil's play group at church dwindled considerably a couple weeks ago when his friends Andy and Alexis Roberts moved to Idaho. (Their parents -- and younger sister, Erika -- are headed to Coeur d'Alene to start up a new church; Jay and Carrie's Church of Fun? Nah, something Free Methodist and probably PoMo.) Anyhoo, their last Sunday we went bowling. Jason snapped the following pix:And I think that brings me up to date...

Mikesell : 9:33 PM : 2 snarky remarks

Five Second Nacho Libre Movie Review

Amusing--if you find Jack Black amusing--but don't pay more than matinee pricing. (3.5 stars out of 5)

Mikesell : 1:32 AM : 0 snarky remarks

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

A Birthday Riddle

Today is my sister Sarah's 30-somethingth birthday. It's also my thirtysomethingth-plus-four-and-a-half-yearsth birthday. Happy birthday to us.

Please note: If you are my parents, parents-in-law, a prospective employer, or otherwise a person of both good taste and upbringing, please wish my sister a happy whateverth and stop reading now.

Everyone else, here's a birthday riddle.

Q: What's worse than going on a walk and finding a dead squirrel?

A: Going on a walk and being attacked by a machete-wielding madman.

Okay, yes that's worse, but it doesn't really fit with the riddle. Let's try again:

Q: What's worse than going on a walk and finding a dead squirrel?

A: Going on a walk and finding two dead squirrels.

I suppose, but not really what I'm after here. Think "dead baby" jokes and it'll come to you.

Wait for it.

Wait for it.

Now, last time:

Q: What's worse than going on a walk and finding a dead squirrel?

A: Going for a walk and finding this.

Eewwwww!

Happy Birthday, Sarah!

Mikesell : 7:17 PM : 7 snarky remarks

Monday, June 19, 2006

Healthy Monday

A couple health-related sites this evening via WXPNews.

Loss of Natural Teeth by State: This webpage from StateMaster ranks the U.S. states (except Hawaii, for reasons unexplained) by the number of "[a]dults aged 65+ who have had all their natural teeth extracted." Boy howdy. If you like this webpage, be sure to check out Gonorrhea Rate by state (that rhymes!) and Twin Birth Ratio by state.

Space Doctor: This site from the Beeb puts you in the role of doctor on the first flight to Mars. Can you keep your 4-person crew alive? Will you resist shoving Yvan out the airlock? You make the decisions. You live (or not!) with the consequences. I, Dr. R. Egon Trayle, did just fine. How 'bout you?

Mikesell : 10:17 PM : 1 snarky remarks

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Happy Day to Me

Phil brought this bird feeder (1, 2) home with him at the end of the school year. Nice Arts & Crafts styling with crossed sticks (in an elongated octothorpe pattern), twine, earth-tone paint and lantern-esque design. Very snazzy.

He and I went out to the movies after church. Saw Cars, much better than I had anticipated. Not that I thought it'd stink--Pixar has earned the benefit of the doubt--but I really didn't have much idea what it was all about. Not too NASCAR-ry--and what there is, is handled tongue-in-cheekly--and you begin to relate to the cars fairly quickly. Great desert scenery, too.

(BTW lunch was popcorn, Jelly Bellys, and generic gummy bears. Mmmmm.)

Hope your Dad's Day was faboo as well.

Mikesell : 8:21 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Saturday, June 17, 2006

A Calm Weekend

The last two weekends (1, 2) have been rather nervewracking, so it's nice to be mellow for a change. Phil brought a great Father's Day present home on the last day of school (I'll share it tomorrow) and the biggest unknown hanging over my head is where to have lunch tomorrow.

So I'm enjoying the calmness while I can. Next weekend will be spent on pins and needles awaiting the publication of a short story over at DKA on the 27th.

Mikesell : 11:51 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Friday, June 16, 2006

Tune in Tomorrow

DKA Magazine (Dragons, Knights and Angels) is scheduled to post one of the runners-up to their short story contest tomorrow.

Be sure to stop by (their website, not here) and check it out.

Mikesell : 12:07 PM : 0 snarky remarks

C'est moi?

Angie Poole is having a little Photoshop contest over at her blog. Who does this photo of Jack Black remind her of?

Well since
  1. I don't know everybody Angie does and

  2. someone told me the other day that I remind them of Jack Black -- used to be I reminded people of Keifer Sutherland, then Al from Home Improvement, but I digress -- and

  3. there aren't a lot of other people I'd be comfortable Photoshopping onto Jack's shoulders, let alone have a photo of them (though I came close to grabbimg Mike Snyder's off his blog)
I used my own face.

Behold!

Ain't much I won't do when there's a $20 Amazon gift card on the line...

Mikesell : 2:05 AM : 14 snarky remarks

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Free Chapter ... Times Twelve!

Earlier this month I posted the first chapter of Chris Well's Deliver Us from Evelyn. Free first chapters online are fairly common, probably more the rule than the exception these days. Chris's first chapter deal was unique-ish in that 40+ blogs participated in posting it online (pushing DUfE as high as #5 on Technorati's Book List).

But Brandilyn Collins is going a step further. A dozen steps, in fact. As one of several promotional "events" for her upcoming novel Violet Dawn, she's serializing the first twelve chapters of the book, giving them out over a seven-week period: July 7th through August 18th. The twelfth chapter of the giveaway no doubt coinciding with the book's August debut.

Check out the new Violet Dawn website. Click on the "read an excerpt" link below the cover shot to sign up for an e-mail reminder announcing newly available chapters.

Warning: Don't sign up for the free chapters unless you're prepared to buy the book (or wait for it at the library or swipe it from a friend). By the time the twelfth chapter rolls around you can't not know how it ends.

And since maybe you're expecting to get a free chapter now for reading this post, Tony Hines has the first chapter of Waking Lazarus available for free download (good stuff, Maynard!) as well as a video teaser to get you psyched for his book.

Mikesell : 9:45 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Did You Lose This Poem?

Last week, over at faith*in*fiction, Dave Long shared an example of Found Poetry:
I've been impressed with the "found poetry" in SPAM. Have you looked at the wonderfully crazy assortment of words that spam emails contain? I have no idea what this nonsensical gibberish is for...but I enjoy it for the slightest of seconds before deleting it forever.
I was about to empty my trash mailbox this evening when I thought I'd see what message the spam-lords were sending me, cryptically, subliminally.

Behold:

Open My Hairpiece Highboy Pizza

Sagomac myjo kaseryza wypy gozupic nelazu.
                                    [– faux Baltoslavic proverb]


Your health,
      nose hitch, Mid-europe;
Your health,
      one-oclock, pearl diabase.
Your cash,
      outlet plate.

Fun,
      goat-toothed, Pro-soviet;
Fun,
      potassium hypoantimonate.
Cash,
      slave market.

Amazing stuff
            (your future),
      coffee borer
                  (oak gall).

("Author" note: I removed the word "an" from the beginning of the title; the words of the "Baltoslavic" proverb were each received individually as the title of spam messages; where I've indented and separated with commas, each two-word phrase was preceded by the two-word phrase and comma of the line preceding it (i.e., I had four e-mail titles beginning "Your health," and three with "Fun,"); the parenthesized words were combined to form a single spam title; all the semicolons and periods were added by me.)

What masterpiece is lurking your spam folder?

Mikesell : 10:47 AM : 0 snarky remarks

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Late Breaking News: Mr. Smartypants

We met with Phil's (former!) kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Swanson, late this afternoon to go over his academic achievement this past year. Phil was tested using the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) assessment system. (more info here)

Phil was tested in three main areas: Letter Naming Fluency (number of letters named in one minute), Phoneme Segmentation Fluency (separating sounds in words: c/a/t), and Nonsense Words Fluency (sounding out nonsense words: zuf). Phil blew the doors off all the benchmarks.

Finding percentile info on the web is difficult. Using the table at the end of this PDF file, Phil would place in the following percentiles for each of the tests if he were an incoming First Grader (i.e., was tested in September): LNF: 92nd, PSF: 76th, NW: 86th. Using the percentiles at the end of the "here" link, above (i.e., if Phil had these scores in January): LNF: 97th, PSF: 87th, NWF: 96th. Split the difference: LNF: 94th, PSF: 81st, NWF: 91st. Not too shabby.

His report card also showed Phil's doing well in all areas. In Language Arts the only area he didn't score an "I(ndependent)" was "Writes to express own ideas," where he got a "D(eveloping)" (I'm still working on that, too). In Math he got I's everywhere except "working with measurement," "counting to 20 by 2's," "knows value of penny, nickel, dime," "tells time to the hour," and "works with graphs." He got D's in each of those (5 out of 21). In Social & Emotional Development, Artistic Development, and Motor Development he got all I's.

So we've got some work to do this summer, but he's in great shape going into First Grade.

Excellent job, Phil!

Mikesell : 9:05 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Philip and His Cousins

Awhile back I shared a video of Dina and me from our cruise last December. Since today is a slow news day (so far), I'm putting up the video I made from snapshots of the boy and his cousins (Will, Nick and Jack).

Phil and his cousins video (8 MB)

The song is "Man for All Seasons" by Robbie Williams (15 points are up for grabs to the first person not related to me who can identify the movie the song appears in). It's one of Phil's favorites (the movie and the song).

Enjoy!

Mikesell : 3:24 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Monday, June 12, 2006

Flash! (Aaaah-Aaaaah)

He'll save every one of us...

Well, maybe not. But I do have another flash fiction piece up over at Flashing in the Gutters: Schrödinger’s Gat.

Mikesell : 5:20 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Superstar!

Yeah, it's 1am-ish. I took a nap yesterday afternoon and couldn't fall asleep at bedtime.

So roundabout midnight I checked Brandilyn Collins' blog. Her posts frequently auto-update at that time (or her webperson can't sleep either), and I thought maybe the list of Scenes and Beans Bloggers (SBGs) might be posted.

It was.

And my name was on it.

I'm one-quarter of the character Wilbur Hucks, resident curmudgeon of Kanner Lake, Idaho. I join David Meigs, Wayne Scott, and Kjersten Nickleby in the role. I recognize David's name from his blog, along with the names of quite a few of the other SBGs. I met Jennifer Tiszai and Mike Snyder at Mount Hermon (they're on the left side of this photo); I forwarded my Advance Review Copy (ARC) to Michelle Pendergrass, and I'm thrilled she's also got a part in the character blog [as well as Rebecca (Becca) Carter, who Michelle forwarded the ARC to when she was done with it].

Said character blog is located here. It's undergoing some construction at the moment, so be sure to bookmark it. Yes, I'll crow every time I get something posted, but there's a lot of talent represented on the blog so don't limit yourself to just my posts.

Speaking of crowing when I get something posted, Brandilyn included snippets of the audition posts below the list of Scenes and Beans Bloggers. The Wilbur Hucks snippet (just before the hyphenated separator) came from mine.

Congrats to all the SBGs. This looks like a fun, fun time.

[edited to change SBBs to SBGs -- I'm not entirely sure where the G comes from; another of the mysteries for which Brandilyn is famous]

Mikesell : 3:11 AM : 7 snarky remarks

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Too Cool for School

It's a good thing Phil's on summer vacation as he's turned into quite the sly boots recently. Things he's called me in the last couple days:andKids these days...

Mikesell : 6:04 PM : 2 snarky remarks

Another Long Weekend

Awhile back I wrote on author Brandilyn Collins allowing readers/bloggers to audition for roles in an upcoming character blog. She's announcing the names this Monday on her Forensics & Faith blog.

Will I win big two weeks in a row?

Stay tuned...

[Update: here]

Mikesell : 12:04 AM : 0 snarky remarks

Friday, June 09, 2006

Phil's Field Day

Phil's final day of kindergarten got off to a great start. Even though his birthday isn't until the end of the month, his teacher had a construction paper crown waiting for him when he arrived this morning.

Most of the day was spent playing games out on the football field with the first through fifth graders. I ran the frisbee game. Other games included Milk the Cow (a relay where water is transferred from one bucket to another via sponge), Tug of War [1, 2, 3], and races like the Twin Race, Wheelbarrow Race, and Crab Race.

Phil had a great time (the kids-vs-grownups tug of war was his favorite event--kids won, of course) and will miss seeing his classmates and teacher, Mrs. Swanson, so much over the summer.

Thus ends Phil's Kindergarten adventure. Stay tuned for School Career II: The First Grade-ening.

Mikesell : 9:43 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The Nanny I Need Is Nanny McPhee.

And have her, I do. Or soon will.

Over at Infuze Magazine, they're giving away ten copies of the Nanny McPhee DVD. Well seven, now, since the first three have already been awarded. The third one to me.

Phil and I saw the movie at the cheap theater before it ended its run in Eugene. A good film -- not quite Mary Poppins, but then who/what is? -- and better than I had expected. Derek Jacobi is delightful as an assistant mortician and it's always a treat to see Angela Lansbury -- and Emma Thompson sans ooky-NMP-makeup is quite fetching (and not in the dog/stick fashion, either). Sure, you know how it's going to end (happily yet sadly), but at least the trip getting there is enjoyable.

And with Phil's birthday right around the corner, it's wonderful to know several weeks in advance what he's getting. Thanks Infuze!

Enter the contest here. (Visitors from the future, take note: the link will likely expire/roll over to a new contest soon after June 15, 2006.)

[Punk'd? As of this evening (6/9), I'm not showing up on the contest winners page. Tony Hines (an Infuze staffer, among other things) denies pulling a prank on me, but he still looks a bit shifty. Stay tuned.]

[Okay, my name's up now (6/12). Tony's in the clear ... for this; Jimmy Hoffa is still missing and there are a lot of trees in that forest to hide a body behind.]

Mikesell : 10:04 AM : 0 snarky remarks

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Flash Publishing

For those not in the know, Flash Fiction "is a sub-genre of the short story characterized by limited word length ... [usually] in the 250- to 1,000-word range." [wikipedia]

Flashing in the Gutters is an online magazine/anthology/repository of flash fiction, tending toward things on the noirish side of the dark and stormy alleyway.

Anyhoo, this evening I submitted a short to FitG (at 7:27) and they accepted it and put it online (at 7:34): The Turn Before Last.

Check it out (and, no, it's not autobiographical ... it's answering a challenge laid down by my friend Dee awhile back. Plus, it's fiction.)

Mikesell : 10:01 PM : 1 snarky remarks

Phil's Kindergarten Recital

This morning Phil's kindergarten class (here's Jeffrey, Phil & Dalton) put on their big recital. Due to unforseen -- and as far as we can tell, pointless -- roadwork between home and the school, Dina and I arrived just as the show was about to begin. Mrs. Swanson said Phil had been worried, but we didn't let him down (yay, good parents!).

The fun included songs like:The kids put on two puppets shows. Phil was the Second Billy-Goat Gruff. For some reason he chose to give 2BGG a falsetto voice. Apparently he knows something about goats and method acting I don't. (Here's a picture of the boy and his goat after the show.)

In between the songs and puppet shows (the other show was "The Little Red Hen") each student read a booklet-sized book. Phil read "Fun in the Sun," which included sentences ending with a question mark (upturned voice) and an exclamation point (dramatic shouting). (Here's another picture of the boy reading. And one of Phil listening attentively as Jeffrey reads.)

All of the kids did a great job. Phil was a stand-out, natch, but everyone had their moment to shine (not least of all because "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" was on the program...).

BTW two more days and Phil's a first grader.

Mikesell : 6:37 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Tony Speaks

Tony "Tony-Tony-Bo-Bony-Banana-Phanna-Pho-Well you get the idea" (T.L.) Hines has launched a podcast ahead of his upcoming bestseller, Waking Lazarus.

Not a lot of content in the season opener, but it's good to hear the author's voice. That way when you get the book it'll be like ol' Uncle Tony's reading you a bedtime story.*

Like Chris Well's Deliver Us from Evelyn, WL has a great opener:
The first time Jude Allman died, he was eight years old.

I'll end this post here, since I know you're itching to go pre-order, but be sure to check out Tony's podcast, too. (Listen to the end and find out how to win free prizes!)

*Horror! at Bedtime? Yeah, my mom read my brother and I Corrie ten Boom on the way to slumberland. Can't get more horror-filled than the Holocaust ... and it explains ohsomany things about the way I turned out. Tony's book'll be a walk in the park compared to CtB -- a knife-slashing stalker-filled park, sure, but a park all the same.

Mikesell : 10:38 AM : 0 snarky remarks

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Batting .500

John McIntyre is the assistant managing editor of the Baltimore Sun, and every few days I check to see if he's got anything new on his blog. Yesterday he posted 14 questions from a hypothetical copy editor exam. I got half of them right (a few of the others I got half right).

How well will you do? (Hint: #9 is a trick question)

Mikesell : 11:34 AM : 0 snarky remarks

Monday, June 05, 2006

Who (Where) Will #100 Be?

Over the weekend I got a visitor here from Paraguay, the 99th country to show up in my stats log. #100 is out there somewhere. Anyone care to guess which country it'll be?

Possible countries (World66.com designations):

North America: Greenland

Central America/Caribbean: Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Aruba, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Dominica, Guadalupe, Grenada, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Monserrat, Nicaragua, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines, Turks & Caicos Islands, Virgin Islands

South America: Bolivia, Falkland Islands, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname

Africa: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo Brazzaville, Congo Kinshasa, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Guinee Conakry, Ivory Coast, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Reunion, Rwanda, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Western Sahara, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Europe: Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Channel Islands, Faroe Islands, Georgia, Gibraltar, Liechtenstein, Moldova, Monaco, San Marino, Vatican City

Middle East: Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestinian Authority, Yemen

Asia: Afghanistan, Bhutan, Brunei, East Timor, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, North Korea, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan

Australia & Pacific: American Samoa, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, French Polynesia, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Caledonia, Niue, Norfolk Island, Palau, Pitcairn Islands, Rarotonga & the Cook Islands, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Western Samoa

Mikesell : 6:35 PM : 2 snarky remarks

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Dragons, Knights & Angels Aftermath

Well, I got to the DKA chatroom a little after six. Sure, the announcement of the four official winners wasn't scheduled until 7:00p, but time has a way of getting away from me and I didn't want to be late.

After forty-five minutes of chit-chat with the other early-birds (and waiting for Joan Rivers to show up and dish on what we were wearing) things got underway.

At 7:01, the first of two Honorable Mentions was named: “Heartwyrm” by Micheal C. Planck

At 7:03, the other H.M.: “The Waters Stir” by Rachel A. Marks

7:04, runner up: “Even a Stone” by Jane Lebak.

Then, at 7:07, the winner: "The Fortunate Purgatory of Arthur MacArthur."

Which bears a startling resemblance to the title of the story I entered.

Somehow I managed to win the contest. Word is it was a tough call, which makes my win all the more astounding and humbling.

The story is set to appear at DKA on June 27th.

Believe me, I'll keep you posted.

Mikesell : 9:31 PM : 9 snarky remarks

Fare Well, Pastor Scot

Today was a very sad day at church. Our senior pastor, Scot Williams, stepped down for health reasons. There's more to it, I'm sure, but the bottom line is some unhealthy situations at the church were taking their toll on his health and he needed to make a change.

He has the support of the district superintendant in his decision, and the district super will be filling in locally for 4-6 months to help bring health back to the congregation. I wish it were just a sabbatical or leave of absence, but it seems that's not going to be the case. <sigh>

It's a hard thing. Scot, Marilyn, and their sons, Andrew and Benjamin, will be missed. Keep them in your prayers as God leads them to greener pastures. (And for our church, too, which has already begun to splinter—and the real fingerpointing and blameshifting days haven't even begun. I pray we can find the unity to hold us together until/as the underlying illness(es) are addressed.)

If you're in a good church with good health, don't wait until next Sunday to let your pastoral staff know you love them and want to help any way you can (and mean it!). And if you're not, do what you can (insofar as it dependeth on thee) to get there. But if it's beyond your ability, come to my church and help us rebuild; I lost a friend there today* and could use another.

*I'm committed to not letting Scot slip completely out of my life, but there'll be a hollow feeling at church for awhile.

Mikesell : 5:29 PM : 1 snarky remarks

Saturday, June 03, 2006

The Wait Is Over ... Almost

What seems like forever ago, I entered a short-story contest sponsored by Dragons, Knights & Angels Magazine. They're supposed to announce winners on Monday morning.

I just checked the message boards at DKA's website to see how high the stress levels were getting, and people seem to have it under control (or the ones who are truly manic are too stressed out to type).

But the mag's editors are giving us all a break. Instead of waiting, they're announcing the winners via "live chat" tomorrow night: 10pm Eastern, 7 Pacific. (This works out to 3am, Monday, in London, Noon in Sydney, for anyone upset they're changing the rules and announcing the winners too early.)

Stop by and find out Arthur MacArthur's fate.

Mikesell : 11:00 PM : 0 snarky remarks

Friday, June 02, 2006

A Macless Afternoon

Our church hosts the elementary classes of Lifegate Christian School in our basement and works with the upper grades for special music and other programs, including graduation. Today the high schoolers graduated, and I ran sound and a/v for them. Part of the program included a DVD presentation, which I was able to run from my PowerBook.

Of course, once everything was set up after the 11am rehearsal I didn't want to jinx anything by taking the computer away and changing settings and not being able to get them to go back. (I know, it's a Mac, but why give Murphy's Law a target?)

So I left everything connected, shut down the PowerBook, unplugged everything, and locked the computer in the church office. At 6:30 I reversed the process and everything came up fine and the graduation ceremony was a big success (not only from a sound and a/v perspective).

The six and a half hours I was away from my Mac seemed muuuuch longer. But I'm better now...

(Random grad tidbit: of the six seniors in Lifegate's class of '06, two of the girls had the middle name Elizabeth, Alan and Allan were the middle names of two of the boys -- the remaining boy and girl had the middle initial J. Freaky.)

Mikesell : 12:54 AM : 2 snarky remarks