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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Volition Man Chapter L Dirgan Falls Asleep

“So, Headley, you lazy leech, what are you doing other than munching on Pop Tarts you didn’t even buy?”
I love all the heartening responses I get to this blog – especially when I have a guest blogger. For the last two weeks (and for weeks to come,) Walter Bego and I have been pouring over the rough draft of Dirk Destroyer’s Less Destructive Brother – Book Three in the Genre Series (the Satire)(due 2015.)
How’s it going? you ask (at least if you’re polite.) Walter said about the manuscript, and I quote, “it’s more exciting than C-Span, more attractive than Henry Waxman,
and almost as comfortable as a roll-away bed.”
From Walter, that’s high praise.
So while we work on Dirk, I’ll serialize one of my favorite chapters from Volition Man, Willful Protector of Pollyville and Surrounding Towns – Book Two in the Genre Series (The Superhero Story) (available HERE!)
Chapter L
Good night,” said Dirgan, giving Dagmar her obligatory peck on the cheek.
Good night,” said Dagmar. “Sweet dreams.”
The gray-primer-colored ’87 Plymouth Reliant sat in Dagmar’s driveway. Slime Monster emerged from a storm drain while Dirgan parked it. Dirgan explained that the car wasn’t his; it belonged to Plowboy, and Plowboy wouldn’t like to have his car eaten. Slime Monster made a noise that sounded like wipers scraping on a dry windshield. Dirgan didn’t know if that meant yes, no, or “what a tasty car,” but three hours of indigestible food and an unsatisfying board game later, Plowboy’s vehicle was still there.

Dirgan babied the dying clutch of the Reliant back to his home. He parked next to the pile of birdseed.
Dirgan’s house was small and drab, though it had an exceptionally clean rug thanks to the Bezo that stood triumphantly in the corner of his kitchen. Dirgan stared at the plastic, all-purpose, home-cleaning machine and saw it as if for the first time. It really was just a Hoover with a different label on it.
Dirgan got undressed and into bed, thinking about how his life was changing. Plowboy was a nice guy, but did Dirgan really want to mow lawns for a living? Frank Svengoldsenson was a lying cheat, but where else in Pollyville would Dirgan find such a motivational jump-start?
Then there was Dagmar, the thing in his life that didn’t change, even though he wanted it to. Was she really happy with him as a boyfriend? She didn’t look happy. She’d spent much of the evening telling him how much she hated mimes; what was that all about? Maybe it had to do with the mask. Dagmar told him that she found a mask a lot like his. This one had some glitter on it and part of a sticker that looked like a horse’s rear end.
It was a nice thought for her to find it for him. She was a nice enough girlfriend. Too bad that Dirgan didn’t like her very much. Did you really have to like your girlfriend?
What was it she wished him, sweet dreams? Well, that was something Dirgan didn’t have to worry about. He never dreamed. Dirgan once heard a psychologist say that everybody dreams; some people just don’t remember them. Dirgan couldn’t even remember forgetting a dream.
No, he wasn’t a dreamer.

Dirgan rolled over onto his side and stared at the wall. Sleep would come in any minute, any second now…
He rolled over on his other side. Was this the side he slept on? Maybe it was on his back. Dirgan rolled onto his back and stared at the ceiling. There was a crack up there. Every night around this time he reminded himself that he needed to fix that crack. Maybe he should get up and fix it now.
No, that was stupid. It was time to sleep. Dirgan crossed his arms. He was pretty sure that was what put him to sleep.
He just lay there with his arms crossed.
Then he uncrossed them.
He crossed them with his hands on his elbows.
He crossed them with his hands tucked tight against his chest.
One hand tucked, one hand out.
He just lay there.
Or was that laid there?
I’m not looking at the crack,” said Dirgan to no one.
I’m just lying here… just about to sleep…
This is stupid! I’m not about to fall asleep. I might as well get up and fix that crack!”
Dirgan fell asleep.

They tell me that writers should never have their characters fall asleep because… 

oh, am I disturbing you? I’ll try to be quiet.  On Thursday I'll post Dirgan’s dream (at least the first part of it.)

Here’s a completely unrelated but old favorite routine from a young Bill Cosby.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Stanley McFarland on Charities

 Our guest blogger today is fellow GoFigureReads writer, Stanley W. McFarland his book
 Stan promised that he would be pithy and funny, but I can attest that the man has no funny bone, (I've hit him on each knee and elbow to check,) but as he’s let me crash at his place several times and graze on his Pop Tarts... I can’t really say no.
by Stanley McFarland

Charities have doomed me to living at my current address until 2114. I figure that’s how long it will take to use up all the promotional address labels they've sent me.
You may doubt that I’ll still be on the planet into the 22nd century. What I doubt is that there’ll be a post office that long.
So now I have address labels with flowers, Christmas themes, wildlife creatures, flags, a big M (I’m assuming that’s because of my name,) and even some with antique cars.
I like the antique cars labels. I may use them as wallpaper if I get enough of them.
I get all kinds of junk in these envelopes, bookmarks, calendars, notepads, a dream catcher, and even coins. My income from charitable come-ons is my greatest source of unreported revenue. I hope the IRS doesn't audit me.
The funny thing is that I haven’t sent a dime to any of these charities. It’s not that many of these causes don’t sound worthy, but I end up wondering how much of what I give will end up back in my mailbox in the form of address labels, bookmarks, calendars, notepads, coins, and dream catchers – and that’s not even figuring the cost of postage.
It turns out my suspicions are justified. According to Charity Navigator link  many causes spend twice, five times, even ten times as much money raising money as they do helping children, indigents, the sick, injured soldiers, or homeless pets.
Dan Pallotta argues that charities should spend more money on fund-raising, not less.
The best way to create a world that works for everyone is to start doing the same thing Apple did to create a world in which everyone wants an iPod: start building demand for the idea on a massive scale. If the New York Times every morning were full of ads for ending AIDS, eradicating poverty, and curing cancer, those causes might just stand a chance against Bloomingdale’s and Netflix. And make no mistake about it — that’s who the competition is.

As president of the contract fund-raising firm Advertising for Humanity link, you might wonder if he has an ulterior motive for his argument.
I don’t wonder. I assume the worst.
There’s a soup kitchen in Winston-Salem called Samaritan Ministrieslink. The only reason I know about them is word-of-mouth. They feed hundreds of people every day. I’ve never seen an address label from them – or bookmark, calendar, notepad, or dream catcher. I’ve just met people who've been helped during a hard time, and others who volunteered to help others.
I might be caving in to Bloomingdales and Netflix according to Mr. Pallotta, but when I have spare cash (even coins I get in promotional material from other charities,) I’m giving it to Samaritan.
I bet if each of us took a bit of effort, we could find such a place in each of our communities, and if we gave money there instead of to United Way or other top-heavy charity factories, we might just change the way compassion does business in this country and around the world.
Dan Pallotta might be out of a job, but at least I know of a place he can get a good meal.

Not exactly funny stuff was it?  Sorry about that.  It was just the Pop Tarts!  Hey, Homer gave up his soul for a doughnut.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Whose Line Was It Anyway?

One of the great things about the internet is how we get ideas from all around the world.  One of the less great things is we lose track of where those ideas came from.
The prime example of this is link  They've been around a while by internet standards.  They used to be an email vehicle for birthdays, holidays and greetings.  Now they're more a source for social media posting.  I find it hard to believe that there's a staff of writers at someecards being paid to write all this stuff.  More likely, it's just a gathering of other peoples clever thoughts, stolen, reprocessed, and then shared out to be stolen in turn.
   So now it's my turn.  Here are a few of my favorites.
The Slams
The holiday
The Cross-cultural
And the whimsical
I've even seen a couple about writing
And finally
On a personal note

Here's a vid about animals and mirrors.  I notice all the dogs want to play, and all the cats want to fight...  There's a discussion topic for the difference between cat and dog people.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring? Deer? Julie Andrews?

Is it over? Somebody else check – I don’t dare. Is our silver-white winter truly about to melt into spring?
I’m sure we’ve had worse winters. There was the whole ice age thing – that couldn't have been much fun, but this winter has seemed especially cruel – personally malevolent. Did someone piss off Snow Miser?
Well over a decade ago, I moved to North Carolina – largely for health reasons. I knew I’d have some cold days, maybe a few icy ones, but rarely a day I couldn't get out and walk a couple miles, get some fresh air. I’ve been lucky to walk three days a week this winter.
Anybody know of cheap places to live in Florida?
I know things were worse in Upstate New York, but I’m not convinced the driving was this bad. When Albany gets 8 inches of snow, North Carolina gets a half inch of ice. Which would you rather drive on?
Then there are the deer. Deer live everywhere, but in the Carolinas, I think they interbred with lemmings. They wait by the edge of the road, pondering eternal truths, and waiting for a death with meaning and impact – meaning that the impact of their death will total some poor guy who just reduced his car insurance to liability only.
For some reason I imagine Julie Andrews, like a siren, encouraging their folly with tunes from the Sound of Music.

Wild deer on roadsides
They whisper and snicker
Wait till the black ice
Is thicker and slicker”
Look for a Yugo
Let the dump truck pass by
This is the way that a deer wants to die.
or maybe

Doe - the deer – I struck her rear
Pay – insurance is not fun
Fee – for game - without permit
Jar(red) – by folks at wildlife fund
So – I’m needled by my friends
Law – attorneys without end
See – my clothes - did PETA rend
So now I hide in woods with …
Doe, Pay, Fee, Jarred, So, Law, See –

But today is the first day of spring, and while that is meaningless in North Dakota, it should mean something in more southern climes. Perhaps the holocaust is over – Snow Miser is appeased for nine months, the deer find forage in the hills, and Julie Andrews goes back to B-grade comedies that mock her roles in the early 60s.

And I have nine months to forget how bad this winter was – or maybe find a place in Florida.

Monday, March 17, 2014

March Madness

The following was an article I wrote for a magazine which went bust just before it could appear. I disavow any connection. Subsequently, it’s been included in the Bethlehem Writers Group anthology, Once Around the SunAmazon link

A Spouse’s Guide to March Madness
by Headley Hauser

Relating to a spouse during March Madness isn’t all that complicated, really. It’s all about laundry and Tic Tack Toe.

I’m not exactly Dr. Phil. The closest I’ve come to a long-term relationship was with a hardy Swedish ivy. It died after seven years of accidental neglect. So, how I am qualified to write a spouse’s guide to anything?
Well . . .I’m a guy. I know how guys think, and when I say spouse, I’m not talking about husbands, I’m talking about women, or as we single men call them . . . . We never really learned what to call them. That’s why we’re single men.
I’ll bet there are women out there saying, “I know a lot more about basketball than my husband/boyfriend/Swedish ivy.” Perhaps so, but do you have the capacity to lie on a couch for three successive extended weekends, and do nothing but ignore women, watch television, and build teetering towers out of dishes and beer cans?

Yup, there are some things we guys will always do better.
So, Headley,” asks my fictitious female interrogator, “why does my normally active and moderately interesting man vegetate for an entire month listening to Dick Vitale?”
It’s simple,” I say, squirting my underarms with breath spray (can’t be too careful), “it’s about laundry.”
My best friend growing up was Paul Sender, (not to be confused with Paul Westphal, Chris Paul, or the 1962 Elvis hit, Return to Sender.) Paul had a large open laundry hamper in his room.
This hamper was the primary reason Paul consistently beat me at horse, pig, or any other barnyard animal-themed basketball shooting game. It was also why his room was neater than mine--an excuse I’m sticking to.
Every night before going to bed, Paul got into his PJs and lined up his dirty socks, underwear, pants, GI Joe tee shirt, and even his PF flyers (sneakers that made him run faster and jump higher.) Then, he launched each item into his laundry hamper from the foul line (roughly defined by a line of Legos.) If he went seven for seven, he tossed his little brother in as well, to celebrate.
Big brothers are supposed to do such things.
Now, my mother is a fine woman, but she understood nothing about the formative, therapeutic value of an open laundry hamper, nor did she understand its relationship to subsequent multi-million dollar NBA contracts. She had me put my laundry in a bag, much like those you might see a merchant marine carry--except for the Wild West pictures and the printed words encouraging me to “Ride ‘em Buckaroo.”

The thing about a duffel-type laundry bag is that, when hung from a hook, it has only a tiny opening at its mouth--not big enough to throw a sock in, much less a pair of dungarees, and certainly not Paul Sender’s little brother. With careful aim, you could toss in a marble, so long as it wasn’t a shooter.
Mom didn’t much like marbles in her washing machine.
So you see, basketball is all about our obsession with laundry tossing--that’s why we watch March Madness. If we didn’t, we might chip in and clean up around the house--something men just don’t do.
But if you live with a man, I don’t have to tell you that.
So,” says my simulated female questioner, “what does Tic Tack Toe have to do with it?”
Isn’t she great? I could never have made this segue without her.

Each young boy’s obsession with Tic Tack Toe is well documented. All you have to do is look at any elementary school lunch table to see the familiar four-line grid, complete with Xs and Os. It’s as ubiquitous as that limerick about scenic Nantucket. But unlike that limerick (which just never gets old,) Tic Tack Toe grids disappear in middle school. Why?
Somewhere around 6th grade comes the great disillusionment. When played by two enlightened players, Tic Tack Toe always ends up in a draw. All you need to do after your opponent X’s a corner square, is put your O in the . . . . Well, I’m not really sure, but it always comes out a draw.

That’s why men created the March Madness bracket. All those lovely lines reappear in a format that we know will never result in a draw.
If you wish to relate to your significant male in the month of March, all you have to do is fill out your own bracket. It helps if you know nothing about basketball. Choose the teams numbered (that means ranked, but you don’t need to know that) 1 and 2 in each quarter grid to advance all the way to their respective regional finals. Men are too proud and stubborn to recognize how often that happens. Then choose the higher number to advance in every other match-up. Who cares if you lose 20 of your first 32 games? You’ll have all the upsets on your grid. When your man is on the phone with his buddy asking what genius predicted the Fighting Sarah Palins of Alaska Moose-skinning Tech
to beat Florida State in the first round, you can show him your bracket. Suddenly you’re a savant, a hero, one of the guys, with promising hours of conversation about the 2/3 Zone, and set shots off the screen for the rest of the month of March.
Hey, at least he’ll be talking to you.
What you want to foster a meaningful relationship during March? Read someone else’s article.

Here’s a video that warms those relational squishy, pumpy things we keep in our chests.  At least is you love little yellow minions.  I think the German makes them more understandable.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Volition Man is Out!

Volition Man, Willful Protector of Pollyville and Surrounding Towns is out and available on Amazon! link  The cover may change, but the story, characters, and dubious punctuation are now a recorded part of Amazon history just waiting to be downloaded to your Kindle, Nook, tablet, smart phone or Commodore 64.
I’m pretty sure that Amazon will give you a free peek if you ask nice, so here the first few paragraphs so you can decide if you want to look further.

Volition Man – Willful Protector of Pollyville and Surrounding Towns

Chapter A
Evil Masonry and Punctuation

Pollyville was the only rapidly expanding, largely Norwegian city outside of Norway. This particular outside-of-Norway location was in an agricultural and otherwise rural region of the American Midwest. For reasons beyond the collective kens of economic and demographic experts, condos and urban art malls now lined streets that knew only tractor repair shops and cheese stores a generation earlier.
And with the condos and art malls came crime, not the liquored-up cow-tipping horseshoe-hustling crime that the soil beneath Pollyville had been accustomed to for a century and a half, but real nonbovine-related crime – city crime. And so, there came to the rescue… superheroes, the virtuous yang to temper the corrupt yin of urban existence.
Or was the yin virtuous and the yang corrupt? One or the other.
In the early summer, common Midwestern superheroes pack away their winter-weight capes and shift their vigilance to mountain and beach communities, battling the sun-screened perpetrators of recreational evil.
But R.V. and pontoon boat defense did not suit Dirgan Voleman. He remained at work, honing his skills in the sweltering city. Preparation and vigilance was his watchword.
Watchwords actually.
So he remained at work, honing his skills, narrowing down his list of watchwords, in order to be…
Volition Man – Willful Protector of Pollyville and Surrounding Towns
(you probably picked that up from the title).

What’s the best all-purpose cleaning wonder in the world?”
Bezo! Bezo! Bezo!”
Dirgan Voleman (the clever alias of Volition Man) shouted with the rest of them. He monitored his heart rate, his breathing, his adrenal something-or-other. Do I really believe? Do I really want it?
Dirgan didn’t choose vacuum cleaner sales because of an affinity for the best all-purpose cleaning wonder in the world. He didn’t choose this career because he enjoyed sales or even the surprisingly good paycheck.
He was in the biz for the motivational pep-talks. He had to stay juiced.
Superheroes need that. Volition Man needed it especially.

Volition Man is the second book in the Genre Series. Book Three, Dirk Destroyer’s Less Destructive Brother should be out in 2015, so take your time reading Volition Man. Read it several times. Download it, read it, erase it, then download it again!

(please make sure to pay for it each time.)

I won't admit that Volition Man rips off The Tick (cause that would cost money,) but there is some unintentional similarity.  Here's one of the best eps from the best animated series ever!