Saturday, December 15, 2012

Something Old, Something New

     Want to know a secret? I'm kind of old. I'm old enough to clearly remember the day in 1981 when John Hinckley Jr. attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagan. I was in elementary school and my classmates and I were shocked and scared. How could anyone hurt the president? To a bunch of 8 year-olds, whoever was our president seemed like an untouchable, invincible super-being. Not knowing what else to do, may classmates spent our entire recess outside near the flagpole with our hands over our hearts, repeating the Pledge of Allegience over and over until it was time to go back in.
     I also remember a tragedy that happened three years later in 1984 at a McDonald's in San Ysidro, CA. A man armed to the teeth with firearms walked into the restaurant and massacred over 20 people. I read and reread an article about the event in a magazine that had bordered each page of text with pictures of each victim (many of whom were children) during happier times. I was in the sixth grade.
     Then came Luby's in Killeen, TX. Kip Kinkle in Oregon. Two kids taking shots at their school in Arizona. COLUMBINE. Trolley Square Mall in Salt Lake City, Utah. VIRGINIA TECH. A movie theater in Aurora Colorado. A shopping mall in Portland, Oregon.
     And that's not all of them. Not even close. Either the events have become increasingly more commonplace, or revolutions in media technology just make it seem that way.

What do all of the violent events that I have just listed have in common?

    First off, each one was perpetrated in the United States of America by disturbed individuals with easy access to firearms. This blog post isn't about guns. If you want to read about the availability of guns in the U.S., there is already a shit-ton of information and opinions about that on the internet. This post also isn't about the state of our nation's mental health care system. Again, if you're looking for that kind of thing just hit up Google.
    The second common thread is that each of these events were reported by the media on a national scale. The reasons that they garnered national (and often international) attention vary: body count, scene of the crime, age of the victims, age of the shooter(s), etc.....But this blog post isn't about how the media exploits and milks tragedies for ratings or how the immediacy of the internet often results in the spread of misinformation during or immediately after an extreme act of mass violence occurs. No, this post isn't about that at all.

This post is about the third thing that each of these horrific acts have in common. It is a common link between each of them that only I know about...and is probably the only one it matters to....

When I heard about Reagan, San Ysidro, Columbine and all of the rest that I listed and the many, many others that got lost in the din I DID NOT CRY. I reacted to each of them with shock, disbelief, anger, sympathy and dozens of other emotions...but I never had never shed a tear over the horrible and awful violence that one or two people could inflict on an unsuspecting crowd of victims.

   Yesterday, that changed. When news of the mass shooting and resulting deaths at Sandy Hook Elementary in CT came over the radio, my face got hot and my eyes started to water. I was at work and asked my manager to look up the news on his phone because I was certain that I couldn't have heard it correctly. I'd heard it right. I couldn't stop the tears when they started as I was reading an early report about the deaths of adults and children at the school. I couldn't stop them for the rest of my shift, so I just kept working through them. And then I sobbed off and on throughout the day.
     I'm not sure why I cried, exactly. Part of it could be because I'm now a parent of small children, even though I've heard about disgusting displays of violence against kids on the news since my children were born and my eyes have remained dry. I don't think that it was the number of lives lost, because the shooter at Virginia Tech claimed more innocent lives. Part of it could be that I tend to be emotionally vulnerable in the middle of winter when it's so dark and cold. Only part, though.

     Even though I can't pinpoint exactly why I cried, I'm glad I did. It means that I'm not as jaded to violence as I'd thought. It means that I care. It means that maybe, just maybe, I can DO something and not just hear the news and think "Again? Ah, fuck it."

    I think it means that I'm alive, and it's been a long while since I've really, truly felt that way.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Simple ways to get Bizarro books out there

As a fan of the Bizarro literary genre, I want the authors and small presses that publish Bizarro to succeed. Part of this is letting readers know that the genre exists. Here are some things that I have done to help spread the word about Bizarro.

1. Reviews

After you read a book, review it. Post a review on,, your blog, your Facebook,, anywhere really. Or shout out your review on a street corner and hand out written pamphlets with your review printed on it. I actually haven't done the street corner thing, but you get the basic idea. Be honest in your reviews, I implore you. I'm leery when I see a debut author of any genre with 72 5-star, vague reviews. Honesty is really the best policy here.

2. The Library

I'm pretty much always strapped for cash, so I can't buy all of the books that I want. Who can, really? But a great way to get a book in your hands, at least temporarily, is to request that your public library order it. Here is a pic of some of the books that my local library has ordered at my request:

All in all, seven or eight of the Bizarro books that I requested are now on my library's shelves. Granted, they rejected at least 15 other requests that I made, but it never hurts to ask. If I can get a library in the middle of Alaska to stock some Bizarro, I'm pretty sure that other folks can do it too.

3. Social Networking

I'm a Facebook junkie, so in addition to all of the silly memes that I share, I also share links to small press websites, books on Amazon or other stores, reviews I've posted, etc. Several of my friends have been introduced to the genre because of one of my posts. If you use Facebook, use it to its full advantage and share links to books that you like or reviews that you've posted.

I don't use Twitter. Tweeting is for birds.

EDIT (4-11-13): I am now Twitterpated. You can find me on Twitter @flardface.

4. Bookstores

I have the privilege of working part-time in a chain bookstore that has a "Staff Recommends" shelf. This past week, my first Bizarro recommendation ("Fistful of Feet" by Jordan Krall) went up on the shelf and is now on display. My next recommendation is on order and will be up there soon, as well. If you work in a bookstore that doesn't have a shelf for staff recommendations, ask your store manager about getting one. Remember, it never hurts to ask...especially if you ask nicely.

So these are just a few of the things I've done to get the beautiful face of Bizarro out in the open. Of course, these tactics could help any small press or indie author of ANY genre. So get off of your ass and try some of them, or else that indie publisher that you love so much might not make it.

That's all for today. Here's a pic of two guys and a truck in some cereal to tide you over:

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Homeschool Choice

We decided early on that we would homeschool the boys. Right now, they are just-turned three and almost two and are currently driving me up the wall. I'm sticking with the decision, even though they are currently such a handful.

When I was growing up, I did well in public school academically, but not socially. In the eighth grade, I started falling behind academically and doing much better socially. Most of what I remember about high school has absolutely nothing to do with what my teachers were trying to teach.

I'm not knocking teachers at all. It's a tough job and those who take it on should be respected and admired. But the educational system doesn't allow for every child's academic needs to be met. There's a schedule to keep.

So, right now I'm reading about teaching my boys at home. There are so many choices and decisions to be made that I'm glad I've started my research early. A couple of books I'm finding rather helpful are:

"The Homeschooling Handbook" by Mary Griffith

"Home Learning Year by Year: How to Design a Homeschool Curriculum from Preschool Through High School" By Rebecca Rupp

That's all I've got for today. Meanwhile, here's a link to a great Bizarro book for Kindle by John Smallberries (aka Josh Myers):

"Octopope!" By John Smallberries

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Less-Than-Stellar Day

The post that I had originally planned for today was about homeschooling, complete with links and all that jazz. I'm going to do that another day. Today's entry will be about my day so far.

It's 2:37-ish and I put the boys up for a nap about 20 minutes ago. Unfortunately, it sounds like they are choosing to not nap. Again.

This morning, we had to leave the playground early because my 3-year-old wouldn't obey the "no pushing" rule. He's been having this pushing issue for the last few weeks now. He's testing me at every turn and it's just wearing me out. I feel like "that mom" with "that kid."

I'm dog-tired, but that's probably because I haven't had a decent night's sleep in over 3 years now.

I was really hoping that today would be a nap day so I could get some things done or maybe just nap as well.

Oh, and my 2-year-old ate a spider.

That's all I have the energy for today. Here's a pic of some of the Magic the Gathering cards I'll be hawking on eBay soon.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Having Kids "Late" in Life

Today I took my boys out in the double stroller to hit some yard sales. At one sale I picked up some kids' DVDs and a nifty Fisher Price airplane. I said to my guys, jokingly, "We'll be taking this stuff home and your daddy's not going to be too happy!." The woman having the sale said "Well, that's what grandmas are for." I just smiled and said "I'm their mother." She became super apologetic and I just smiled and strolled the boys away.

Last year, the "grandma" assumption really irked me. I mean, REALLY? It's like asking a woman with a large belly when the baby is due. Not always a smart assumption to make. I'm used to the granny comments now and they don't irk me anymore since they people saying them aren't intentionally being rude.

I'm glad I had my kids "later" in life, although I don't really consider just-past-mid-thirties to be that old. Sure, I'm not as spry as I used to be and my energy level isn't always the best, but I have more patience and life experience to make up for it. If I'd had kids in my early twenties, I'd have fucked them, and myself, up royally for sure.

Now, I'm content to focus on THEM instead of myself. I've sown my wild oats, so to speak, and am content to settle down and enjoy my children. That's not to say that I don't have dreams of my own. I'm saying that I'm ready to include my family in my endeavors to achieve them.

That's it 'til next time. Meanwhile, here's a pic of my friend Josh wearing a pink, sparkly, beanie hat that I crocheted for him.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Dogs in Condos

Last night, from our porch, I watched a woman from our complex with two large dogs walk them past a neighbor's porch where another large dog started barking and growling. The woman with the leashed dogs, with great effort, was able to tug and pull her dogs toward the parking lot and continue on their walk.

We live in a complex of townhouse condominiums that have railed decks, but just a tiny, unfenced square of grass that is liberally referred to as a yard. As I watched the short canine display of machismo, I realized just how many large dogs live in our complex. There's some pits, huskies, a boxer and some other mutts of indeterminable origin. There's a big, black dog that barks from a unit's upper deck whenever someone enters its view.

I bring this up because I find it strange...and rather unfair to these pups. Our units are two-story and not particularly large and don't have fenced yards. Even if there were fenced yards, the rules state that animals cannot be outside without a leash and are forbidden to pee and poo on condo property. If poo is found near a unit, they will be fined...EVEN IF THEY DON'T OWN A DOG. I also have quite a few snitches and complainers as neighbors. So, people take their mutts across the street to crap on another housing building's yard and those folks, in turn, bring their dogs to our lot.

Now, I'm talking about big dogs here, not pugs or chihuahuas. These poor guys and gals have nowhere to exercise and run around near their own house. Which begs the question...why move into a condo like ours if you have big dogs? Or get a large pooch when you already live here?

Now that I have kids who want to run and play all of the time, I find our housing situation inadequate. A parking lot is no place for kids to play, but at least I don't have to keep them on a leash.

That's my ramble for today. Meanwhile, here's a pic of our cat lounging in the dryer:

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Floridian Author Extraordinaire

I've been on a Carl Hiaasen kick lately. If you're not familiar with Hiaasen, he's a novelist out of Florida who also writes a column for the Miami Herald. I introduced myself to Hiaasen's work in the late 90's by reading his novels "Double Whammy," "Lucky You," and "Striptease" (the book that the movie of the same name starring Demi Moore is based on).

Hiaasen's books are set in Florida and are filled with environmentalism, corrupt politicians, wacky characters, bizarre crimes and darkly hilarious humor.

In the past few weeks, I've immersed myself in his novels. I powered through "Tourist Season," "Skinny Dip," "Stormy Weather," "Skin Tight," "Double Whammy" (again) and "Nature Girl." Currently, I'm reading "Sick Puppy." I dig this dude's work.

Here's a link to his bibliography on Amazon:
Carl Hiaasen on Amazon

His books are available on Kindle, but if you're looking for hard copy, I suggest you try your local library or local, independent bookstore.

That's it for today. Meanwhile, here's a pic of my cat flashing you.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Greetings and Salutations!

This is my new blog. What's it about? Well, it's about whatever the hell I want it to be about at any given moment in time. Topics will include: being a parent, Bizarro and horror fiction, crochet, homeschooling and any other damn thing I feel like posting about. I'm still figuring this blog crap out, so bear with me and please be gentle...for awhile, at least. That's all for the moment. I'll get the hang of this baring-my-soul shit soon, I'm sure. Cheers!

Meanwhile, here's a pic of a squid fingerpuppet that I crocheted.