Saylor's Goodreads Bookshelf

Saylor's books

Animal Farm
Where the Sidewalk Ends
The Great Gatsby
To Kill a Mockingbird
The Catcher in the Rye
Of Mice and Men
The Alchemist
Slaughterhouse-Five
Me Talk Pretty One Day
Lord of the Flies
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Little Women
Frankenstein
A Tale of Two Cities
The Count of Monte Cristo
Les Misérables
Moby-Dick or, The Whale
The Joy Luck Club
Middlesex
The Memory Keeper's Daughter


Saylor's favorite books »
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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Dog days of Summer


This is a typical day in the month of August:

Today I will finally get to this book outline, I tell myself.  Fi-nal-ly.  I'm many month's already past my due date for getting this out.  Grant you, we had 21 fun filled days of houseguests this summer, which, I might add is a record number of "guest" days we've ever had. The outline needs to be the top of my list today. Let me just run to the market first thing this morning and pick up the blue berries for the blueberry cobbler I promised to make for this evening's gathering of friends and colleagues. Why do I agree to do these things?  Thankfully the fresh fruit and vegetable market is just down the street and I can walk there. I like walking to the market as it kills three birds with one stone. I get some exercise, the marketing gets bought, and I can catch up on podcast, audio books, or news from my iPod. 

Home again, home again, diddaly do.  I better soak these berries and get the recipe out.   Did I eat breakfast?  Let me just have some granola, and berries then.  That'll be my 10 am phone call from my honey, hang on.  Hi honey...I saw that, did you have a party while I slept last night?  Don't worry about it, I've got to clean the kitchen anyway I'll take care of it when I bake the cobbler.  No that's tonight. It is Wednesday night....I know it flies.  But last night was Taco Tuesday...We ate taco's.  Yes, I'm positive....Really?  The engine didn't turn over at all.  Did you try kick-starting it?  Did you check the gas?  Okay, I'll take a look at it.  It might just be the spark plug.  They get crudded up pretty easy on scooters.  I'll have to find the warranty and see if that's covered...We have to be there by 5:30 so I'm going to have to pick you up from work then.  Okay, 4:45.  I have to go, I have to get started on this cobbler and work on the scooter and get started on this outline.  No, it's fine, I'll take care of it.  Seriously. It's okay. No honey, it's not that.  You're very mechanically inclined, I just don't know what's wrong with it and once I figure that out then I'll teach you to change the oil and the spark plugs and all that...Yes, but I think you want it fixed sooner than later, right?  I don't trust mechanics.  Plus, I'd have to take it in and wait, so it's just easier to do here. I have to go. I smell something burning. Gotta go. (click)

I know, it's wrong to do that. I shouldn't make up imaginary panic smells.  So, okay, let me pull out all these ingredients and make sure I have everything before I get started...Baking Soda and Baking Powder in the same recipe, huh, don't see that much. Okay takes about 2 hours to complete. I know, I know, I should just go pick something up at the grocery, but this is Northern California.  That'd be like living in the Deep South and never eating Bar-B Que.  It's just not done.  Now, it's 10:40. I have to be done with everything and be getting ready by 4.  That's 5 and a half hours. Two hours for the cobbler. That gives me 3 and half for the scooter and the outline. I better take care of this scooter first, time has a way of getting away from me when I write...

1:45.  I am now covered in oil, gas, and sweat.  There's a good chance if I kick-start this scooter I could blow up the whole house.  To hell with it.  VAROOM! There we have it.  Good, good. "I can rebuild the carburetor. mana na na Fry it up in a pan. mana na na. And I don't have to be a man. Cause I'm a wooooman. Mana na na."  But I can not get this electric starter to turn over to save...Hang on.  Hello? Hi honey, no I've been rebuilding this "ef"ing carburetor, changing the G.damned oil, Efing spark plug, and...you haven't?  Why?  Why didn't you say something before?  Yes, it would make a difference.  BECAUSE naturally I'd think you would have done that...Didn't your manual say to plug it in over night, like every so often? No, I'm not mad.  It's okay....It's fine. I'll check it now.  You can kick start it now at least.  So, I'll check that last, but I have to stop now anyway so I can make the cobbler and then get ready to leave.  Honey, I have got to go...I'm not mad.  Honey, honey, listen, shhhh.  Listen now, ssssh. Can you hear me still?  Okay listen, if you don't stop apologizing and you don't say goodbye and hang up this phone now, I'm going to stick blue berries up your nose while you sleep.  I'm going to stick them up there carefully, with chopsticks, so far up your nose that they'll have to be surgically removed. Okay?  Yes, I love you too, I'll pick you up at 4:45.

Happy now?  At least I didn't make up an imaginary panic smell.  CheesusBurgerBuns it's 2:00.  The manual clearly states to plug in the battery to a drip at the very least, every month. Who doesn't do that?  You don't have to be mechanically inclined...okay. It's fine I'll just plug it in and I have to get this cobbler started or...I can't make a cobbler like this I'm covered in shmaltzy goo. Okay, new plan. I'll shower and then make the cobbler.

4:45.  "Careful. The cobbler's in the back seat."
"I'll just put it in my lap."
"Good. Thank you."
"Did you get any work done today?"
"Really? And when would I have done that? Those few minutes I had between plugging in the battery charger and baking the cobbler. Or when I was drying my hair?"
"I'm so sorry, it's my fault."
"Look, this day time thing isn't working for me. This summer has been a disaster, I think I should go back to working nights."
"That's a good idea.  I think the cats like would that too.  That's really when they're most active."

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Book Review: The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken


This was the first Tarquin Hall's Vish Puri mystery I've read, even though there are two proceeding.  So now, I have to go back and read the other two, while I wait for the (hopefully) fourth book of the series.  If you liked Alexander McCall Smith (I'm thinking of The #1 Ladies Detective Agency), you will like this book as well. 

Tarquin Hall effortlessly ushers you into the world of modern day Dehli and places you at the table with a rich cast of characters.  There are three separate things going on here.  A theft, a murder, and cricket match rigging.  And within each of these Hall reveals both the wonderful and horrible parts of life in this city.  As well as giving some history of Dehli and its people, which lends real atmosphere to the place and time.

I could have done without the long, long food and meal descriptions. I'm not a "foodie" but many people are and I'm sure they'd enjoy those portions. (pun intended.)  However, that is my personal taste (ha ha!) and has nothing to do with how very well this book is written.  And I look forward to reading more from Tarquin Hall.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Phyllis Diller

I had a fun blog prepared but I'd like to interrupt that blogcast to tell you something you've already heard by now.  Phyllis Diller died today at 95 years old. She was a trailblazing comedian, an artist, mother, grandmother, friend, and heart attack survivor.  Her life was about love and laughter.

I'm not going to go into the "I met Phyllis when" spiel because who cares.  I was lucky, I got to meet her and work with her for a day.  And what I witnessed that day can't be taught - you just have to kind of absorb it.  She was a good person to me and my friends, she was a giver, and when I met her (when she was 90-years-old) she was still beautiful. But let's face it, that was because of all that plastic surgery.

As I work on a tribute blog for her.  Please read the following link and learn about her life.  She was truly a wonderful person and I hope she and her comedy is long remembered.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Your anger bores me.

Anger-mmercials

So a friend of mine posted a link on her Facebook page.  The link was from an angry article in a 'Women's' magazine in response to a new Facebook app that will block out your friends photo's that they post of their babies and or children.  My friends comment to this angry article was, "Yup, that about sums it up."

The article itself is witty and uses cool words strung together like "life porn and
social networks as comparison life shopping."  Those are fun words when you string them together.  And the article is a wonderful tirade in response to something that really doesn't matter.  Not in the big picture, not in our daily lives, not ever.  (And for the record I have no less than 7 (7!)  friend's with new babies.  Do I get sick of seeing baby pictures?  Yep.  Do they get sick of me making fun of their babies pictures with pithy pokes and tag lines? Yep.  Because we're friends, we have history together, it's how we roll. I would defend their right to post these mind-numbing drool fests and they would defend my right to call them mind-numbing drool fests.) But there was something underlying in this article that disturbed me, but I couldn't put my finger on it, just yet.

So, fast forward a bit to later in the day and I've got a 'Non-Profit Radio' podcast playing in the background while I'm cleaning up the house and the entire show was this same type of tirade response to yet another product that has come out.  And that's when it hit me.  I had stopped watching regular television when pretty people resorted to eating bugs to be on the teevee and untalented half-wits were being insulted on every channel.  I stopped watching/listening to political commentary when I couldn't bare to witness the Jerry Springer-esque presentation.  I've been reduced to Niall Ferguson and Jim Lehrer.

And now I have my own strung together word, "Anger-mmercials".  That's when you can make a product with some seemingly redeemable purpose and market it with white-hot anger in social networking, radio, teevee, or blogs.  Because if you can get people to see the bad in something they will surely scream in to a void about it and voila, you have a ready-made marketing program. Hazzah!  People are talking about your product.

I'll be glad when the anger phase/craze has cried itself to sleep.  Because the only thing more boring than yet another picture of someone else's kid with "fun" sunglasses on, is reading/listening/watching an irate article/program about someone else's anger about a product.  So here's a new caption:  Your anger bores me.

NOTE:  Cool words strung together:  Your anger bores me.  That's how we roll. Mind-numbing drool fests, Untalented half-wits, and Anger-mmercials.
 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Fly my pretties, fly!


When I first heard about Olympic Gold Medalist Gabrielle Douglas being nicknamed The Flying Squirrel I thought it was a perfect nickname/term of endearment.  She does have those little poofy cheeks when she smiles.  And her smile is one of those smiles that make's the world feel lighter.  And then I thought, 'that'd be cool to give all the gold medal champs a super hero nickname.  Jack Black could be in charge of it, he's so gung ho about things like that, a la Kung Fu Panda.  Hell, it could even be a Wheatie's like national contest or something.'  Seriously, if anyone deserves little plastic toys made with their impressions on them, their faces on cereal boxes, and be labeled with national terms of endearment, it's the Olympians - not the made up super-hero's.

But the next thing I know there is a bend to the whole notion of referring to her by that moniker.  Apparently, there are some who thought the "flying squirrel" nickname was derogatory and or racist.   Truth be told, that's up to her royal awesomeness, Ms. Gabrielle Douglas.  That conversation would go like this:

Me:  Hi. I think you're an amazing gymnast.
GD:  Thank you.
Me:  As a matter of fact you also have a beautiful smile that lights up the whole gymnasium.
GD:  Thank you.
Me:  Watching you at the Olympics’ while I sat on the couch and stuffed my face with pork rinds and cookies made me very happy.
GD:  I'm glad it brightened your day.
Me:  I heard someone nicknamed you the flying squirrel.  Can I use that term for you?  Can I too call you the flying squirrel?  'Cause I've got this idea to give all the gold medalist superhero nicknames.  Wouldn't that be cool?
GD:  (Smiles)  I have to go. I'm on a schedule, but thank you for your support.
Me:  Ah! You're blinding me with that bright smile.
GD:  Ma'am, you're getting pork rind grease on my sleeve.

Of course I just made all that up, I don't eat pork rinds.

But it's not the first time I've made some kind of racial faux pas.  I grew up in a small southern town so white the only "others" we had were Catholics.  I didn't know black from white. It didn't even register in my young mind that there were "colors" of skin.  I can't actually recall ever hearing the word "Nigger."  (Yeah, I said that and I'm gonna do it again.) 

One of my favorite shows was The Jefferson's.  (I think I was too young to know it was a spin off of Archie Bunker.)  I loved it when George would do that funny walk where he'd make his arms really stiff and take long strutting strides. I would then imitate that walk around the house and call my older sister "Weezie!"  SO then there was that episode with Willie and Lester.  (Willie Tyler was a famous ventriloquist and his dummy was called Lester and they were Black/African American.)  It was possibly the funniest thing I had ever seen on television.  All my young self saw was this guy who made his doll talk to people and everyone laughed.  Well, then the Sears catalog came,  THE CHRISTMAS EDITION! (I told you it was a small town.)  And there in the toy section was Lester.  Man, I wanted that dummy so bad.  I could do that thing where I don't make my mouth move when I talk and people will laugh.  I was so excited.

Fast forward to Christmas.  This was spent out of town with relatives;  Aunt's, Uncles, Cousin's, Grandparents the whole 'fam-damily' would be there.  Amazingly, I had gotten Lester and my mom even gave me some 'ventriloquist lessons' - how to use the letter N instead of M, and D instead of B so my lips don't move.  It was a great Christmas morning.   I loved that Santa shopped at Sears.  (I was a naive 7 year old.)

We get to my Aunt's house to exchange gifts and do the dinner thing and of course I bring Lester cause now we'll have a bigger audience.  As we all sit down for the gift exchange,  (To this day, I can still see the room and where everyone sat.) I pull out Lester.  And my Aunt howls out, "Oh! You got her a nigger baby! Look at that nigger- baby!"  I can still see two of my cousins laughing in this garish fish-eye lens of memory.  I didn't understand what they meant.  "Are you gonna make that nigger-baby talk?!" 

I can still see the steely poker face of my mother who locked eyes on me and managed to widen her mouth into a thin-lipped grin for me.  But her toes always gave her away and they were curled under, not a good sign.  I didn't understand the words, but I understood I was being laughed 'at', not 'with'.  I understood something cruel was happening.  Why does she keep saying 'nigger-baby?'  I remember the look of horror on my older sisters face.  I remember feeling absolute terror.  I knew this game, if you cry they will mock you.  I looked down at Lester.  He had brought this on me.  He was the nigger-baby and he was bad.  At some point someone made the teasing stop and my mother tried to encourage me to show them all how Lester works.  But I couldn't, I couldn't even lift my head up.  (We would never spend Christmas with that Aunt again.)  Later, I would play with Lester.  Quietly, I'd shut my bedroom door and pull him out of the bottom of my toy chest and practice not moving my lips. 

BUT NOT THIS TIME YOU TURDS!  If Gabrielle wants to be called The Flying Squirrel then she is the HIGHEST FLYING-EST SMILING-EST SQUIRREL THERE IS!  I don't care what color she is, what color the squirrel is, what color her little leotard is.  Her performance was GOLD!  So everyone on both sides of this craptaculous racial debate shut it.  Let her have her moment.  Let everyone revel in it, let us give her a term of pride and endearment.  The Olympians are as close to a "super-hero" physical performance most of us will ever see in real life.  And that goes for all of the Fierce Five too.  Flying Squirrel! Butterfly! Wasp! Dragon! Betty! Fly my pretties, fly!

Monday, August 6, 2012

The O Line Mysteries Blog: You are not alone.

The O Line Mysteries Blog: You are not alone.: And you are not going slowly but inevitably stark raving mad.  Then again, maybe you are.  But the good news is you won't be alone in that ...

You are not alone.

And you are not going slowly but inevitably stark raving mad.  Then again, maybe you are.  But the good news is you won't be alone in that padded room, barefoot and giggling.  There's nothing like a little validation to set the world right, is there? I found this blog article and, as a self-publishing author, the world seemed right again.

It's about the "shadow career" we all take up when we self-publish.  The "shadow career" is the maze of self-promotion, marketing, and whatever social media construct we wade through daily to make a sale. In other words, your career is writing and the shadow career is promoting your work.  "Platforming" are the Facebook pages, blogs, or whatever online box you must stand on and shout into the echo-less chasm.

This is the link http://janefriedman.com/2012/07/31/extra-ether-shadowy-platforms/ and Jane Friedman does a great job in breaking all of this screaming into the echo-less chasm down.

I'm not a great self-promoter. I hate it. I become quite curmudgeonly when I have to do it. Even though I try to do a little bit each day.  I imagine there are many writers who feel the same way. We gnash down and bare our teeth to form something that can be easily mistaken as a smile.  BUT, and here's the kicker, as self-publishing authors, we took this on.  I chose this.  You chose this.  It's ("platforming") cleaning the dishes after making satisfying yummy cookies.  Don't get me wrong, I totally and completely agree with Ms. Friedman. I'm grateful to her for bringing it all together and for not making me feel alone in my bemoaning.  And the takeaway I got from the article was be careful that platforming doesn't eat you alive.

As a side note, I had previously called platforming by a different name.  I will not mention it here because it's a compound dirty, dirty word.  But I saw the online world a bit differently - the actual 'platforms' (blogs, Facebook, social media, etc.) as billboards, the online communities as a marketing niches, and Tweeting as a place where I could imitate my insane Uncle who thinks he's a beer vendor at a baseball game...every day.  "Books 'eeere! Get your books!"

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Sidekick


Poirot had Hastings, Laverne had Shirley, Shaggy had Scooby, Sherlock had Watson, Lucy had Ethel, and I've been thinking about the sidekicks, straight "(wo)men", and enduring friendships in both fiction and reality.  What is the bond that glues them?  Would I put up with Sherlock or Poirot as Watson and Hastings did?  Why did Ethel always back Lucy in one way or another?  Why do these matchups appeal to us?  I've had friendships that have waxed and waned for well over three quarters of my life now. And I try to bring what I've learned about those friendships to the page in a fictional friendship between Lorna and Annie.  Annie, like Watson and Hastings, puts up with a lot of annoying eccentricities from Lorna.   But I also see Annie's point of view in this, I have my fair share of outrageous and eccentric friends.  They really do bring a zest to life. 

Every time Person X calls I think, 'Oh boy, here we go.'  And I generally end up with my purse clutched to my chest sitting across a table from a notorious person in a dank basement thinking either, 'No one is going to believe this,' or 'How am I going to explain this?'  Every time Person Y calls  (left to our own devices, neither of us are into drinking and carousing) we end up somewhere we can remember getting to (like the desert?) and someone is missing a shoe.   And every time Person Z is in town I'm so worried that I'm going to be on the wrong side of a DEA investigation I find myself taking a lot of headache remedies and checking the bottom of my car for strange black boxes.  These are the people who bring out parts of my personality that lay dormant most of the time. (Thankfully.)  Or possibly I do the same thing to them.  Let's just blame it on our chemistry together.

The older I get the more I cling to these old friendships mainly because we have "history" and there is a lot of water under those bridges.  And I find it easier to recognize new friends, not all of which where we end up goading each other into a troubling situation. (Again, thankfully.)  But for Annie and Lorna, two people in a fictional world who became fast but enduring friends?  Book 3 The Rot is Deep left one of them (possibly) dead. Which leaves me with a big fat plot question to begin book 4 Red, White, and Scotch?  And that leads back to my original thoughts on the binding of sidekicks and enduring friendships and a lot of 'what if' questions.