Chapterhouse

March 30, 2006

La la la LA la la laaaaaaaaa

Filed under: Next Chapter — chapterhouse @ 10:16 pm

Well, the fat lady hasn't sung yet, but I can hear her warming up! We have another buyer for Maxwell House (numero five-o) and they want to close around May 10th.

It's hard to get too excited at this point, but the thing is, we've decided that if this one falls through, then that's it. We'll put our North Carolina plans on hold for a while and stay put in Texas.

I'd hate to do that, but enough is enough! We're still living without a sofa or a dining table, and with boxes piled up in every room.

If the deal goes through, then I can stop referring to this as "our alleged move to North Carolina."

But if we stay in Texas, at least I'll get to vote for Kinky Friedman in November.

March 28, 2006

All Dressed Up

Filed under: Uncategorized — chapterhouse @ 11:04 pm

This is the company, SF Bags, that made the custom sleevecase for my laptop, Harriett. Shown here is the basic sleevecase:

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And here it is with the optional flap and shoulder strap (I chose the suspensor shoulder strap because it distributes the weight more evenly):

I chose the vertical orientation, rather than this horizontal one. Both come with a pouch on the other side. Another option is a piggy-back case for the cord.

The best thing is that you just tell them what kind of laptop you have, and the sleevecase will match its dimensions exactly!

I’d be embarrassed to tell you how many laptop-carrier-thingies I’ve bought for Harriett, but none of them is as kewl as this one!

Only thing is, Harriett wasn’t so sure about it at first. No, really. I put her in her new, custom-made case with the s-o-f-t, luxurious interior. It fit her like a well-made little black dress should. Then later, when I took her back out and turned her on, she just froze! I kept calling to her, “Harriett, it’s alright! Were you afraid of the dark place? Mommy’s sorry, she should have warned you first. Come on, Harriett. It’s going to be okay. Really.” Well, after a little more coaxing, she recovered and started working again, and now she has no problem at all with her case.

In fact, I don’t think she’d even look at another sleevecase now!

DON’T THINK. BELIEVE.

Filed under: Uncategorized — chapterhouse @ 8:06 am

Fellow FSM Believers,

Last night I was touched by the Prophet of His Noodly Appendage Himself, for into my Inbox was thrust the following communique, like unto an e-mail.  This is indeed a Holy Day.
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Fellow Believers,

Our day has finally arrived! The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is at last here. Maybe not inscribed on stone tablets, but it is a book.  And maybe not THE Good Book, but at least A Good Book.

Delivering His Divine Message is my life�s work, and as I�ve said before, all proceeds from the book will go toward our pirate ship fund. Because as you know, global warming is the direct effect of the declining number of pirates, and His Noodliness, while he endorses boiling pasta, is against boiling the planet.  With your help, and with the sails blowing on our bad-ass pirate ship (with flags, cannons, and weevils in the flour barrels below deck), we can spread His Word and save the environment at the same time.

Remember that ours is a small boutique religion, but we have BIG ideas (some, arguably a bit al dente) and we must share this rich booty of ideas with others. Within the pages of The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, you will find FSM history, helpful propaganda, scientific evidence of His existence (including the 100% verifiable fact that no one has sued any school boards about us), as well as pictures and illustrations that surely test the limits of copyright law. But as pioneers we�re not afraid of a little controversy.

Since The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster goes on sale tomorrow, March 28th is a Holy day. I encourage you to dress in your Pirate�s best�paint one of your pant legs to resemble a wood finish, maybe wear an eye patch or get a parrot, and eat some cacciatore with a side of linguine. Then, go to your local bookstore to let them know that The Church of FSM is strong in your community. I can honestly say that if everyone on this e-mail list goes out and buys the book, it will be a bestseller. That would certainly get some people�s attention.

Our future is in our own hands.  And in His noodly appendage.
 
Ramen.
Bobby Henderson
Prophet

Available today at Amazon, B&N, and Powells.

 

March 27, 2006

Friends Don’t Let Friends Vote Republican

Filed under: Political Chapter — chapterhouse @ 4:46 am

You may have seen this one before, but it's worth reviewing.

Things you have to believe to be a Republican today:

Jesus loves you, and shares your hatred of homosexuals and Hillary Clinton.

Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush's daddy made war on him, a good guy when Cheney did business with him, and a bad guy when Bush II needed a "we can't find Bin Laden" diversion.

Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is Communist, but trade with China and Vietnam is vital to a spirit of international harmony.

The United States should get out of the United Nations, and our highest national priority is enforcing U.N. resolutions against Iraq.

A woman can't be trusted with decisions about her own body, but multi-national corporations can make decisions affecting all humankind without regulation.

The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches, while slashing veterans' benefits and combat pay.

If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won't have sex.

A good way to fight terrorism is to belittle our long-time allies, then demand their cooperation and money.

Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy, but providing health care to all Americans is socialism. HMOs and insurance companies have the best interests of the public at heart.

Global warming and tobacco's link to cancer are junk science, but creationism should be taught in schools.

A president lying about an extramarital affair is an impeachable offense, but a president lying to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is solid defense policy.

Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution, which include banning gay marriages and censoring the Internet.

The public has a right to know about Hillary's cattle trades, but George Bush's driving record is none of our business.

Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you're a conservative radio host. Then it's an illness and you need our prayers for your recovery.

You support states' rights, but the Attorney General can tell states what local voter initiatives they have the right to adopt.

What Bill Clinton did in the 1960s is of vital national interest, but what Bush did in the '80s is irrelevant.

Feel free to pass this on. If you don't send it to at least 10 other people, we're likely to be stuck with more Republicans in '06 and '08.

Friends don't let friends vote Republican.

And, let me add a couple of recent ones my own:

We must respect the sovereignty of the Afghan government, but it was okay to oust the legitimate government of Iraq.

We will help rebuild the Mosque that was bombed in Iraq, but our own citizens are still living in tents in Louisiana and other Gulf coastal states.

March 26, 2006

On The Run In Lampasas, Texas

Filed under: Pen to Paper — chapterhouse @ 8:52 am

Yesterday Tomcat and I took a road trip down to Lampasas for research on my novel, Gino's Law.
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The main character is on the run, having been framed for murder, and he hightails it from the Metroplex in a southerly direction, avoiding the Interstate. Specifically, I wanted to see what the soils* were like between Dallas and Stephenville, and Stephenville to Lampasas, plus take in the scenery and ambience of the place.  Boy, did we luck out, because ambience was all around us the whole live-long day!

This picture shows the chalky unpaved roads around there leading into the semi-arid landscape. The whole area is one big limestone deposit. The vegetation is mixed grasses, cacti, mesquite trees, liveoak trees, and … salt cedars.  The cedars are everywhere, and their scent is heavy on the breeze.

Last night I Googled the cedars and found that salt cedars are on a par with fire ants and cockroaches in that part of the State. They come from Asia, and were originally introduced as an ornamental plant in the early 19th century. I imagine that some Regency or Victorian-era lady thought these would look so nice next to the cacti in her yard, so she persuaded her husband to order them.

Big mistake. These trees have a very long tap root, which deprives the indigenous plants of water, choking them out. They cause the water table to get lower and lower, and even affect the water levels of the rivers, which in turn harms other species' habitats, like fish and turtles and so on.  Now, here's the scary part: the State of Texas has imported thousands of Asian salt-cedar beetles to devour these trees.  One shudders to think …

* In my part of the State, we have clay, which wrecks havoc with foundations, and also large areas of that fantastic super-rich black soil that will grow anything you put in it.  Traveling south to Stephenville, there are long stretches of iron-rich red soil, like on Mars (which may explain a lot, somehow…) Then, you get into limestone and gravel country where you can see these chalky roads. When you drive along these roads, the car throws up this fine white powder, which dusts the grasses and trees alongside. You can drive for miles on these things and suddenly come to a "Stop" sign where it intersects with another one. I mean, there's nothing out there but cactus, salt cedar, mesquite, oak, and buzzards, and here's a stop sign?!  Then we saw signs for school bus crossings. Oh. Okay. We're just city folk; we had no idea there were people out here!

Anyway, the trip was fun and we took lots of notes. All for sake of research, don't you know.

March 24, 2006

I’m Smokin’ Again

Filed under: Pen to Paper — chapterhouse @ 5:27 pm

NO, not cigarettes. I quit those almost nine years ago. Woulo! (That's a cajun word I recently ran across. It means the same as Woo-Hoo!)

The mystery novel is coming along great now. I've written 7,735 words since last Saturday! Woulo!

I'm close to halfway through.

Writing such a joy when it's flowing like this, and such a pain when it isn't. Ah, the agony and the ecstasy! Some people just start writing their books, which is what I did with the first one, The Earthquake Doll. It turned out to be a mess. I kept having to go back and make major changes because I'd be writing along, and suddenly the story would take a different direction, forcing changes to be made on stuff I'd already written. I did not have a clue about writing novels then. It wasn't until I took a course on Basics of Novel Writing, taught by Pooks, that I found out there's this thing called Structure! That's when I was finally happy with an EQ Doll rewrite.

More recently, I discovered that wonderful book, Save The Cat! by Blake Snyder, and it gives the beats – 15 of them – to the basic Structure. Wow!

The key, for me, is the prep work. Get the Structure down; then start writing. Creativity still has a free reign, and your characters can still "take over" and do magical things for your story. But, you won't be sweating blood over what the next basic scene will be. No more dead-ends. No more writer's block.

Besides, as Snyder points out in his book, doing the prep work takes time, and it is time that your subconscious takes great advantage of! When you sit down to write, you are Ready To Tell The Story, which is what it's all about.

Woulo!

March 23, 2006

The Best Horses

Filed under: Pen to Paper — chapterhouse @ 7:36 am

When I was a little girl my grandmother would spend the night with us once in a while, and we would share my room. The best part about that was when she'd tell me her "horse stories," and I'll tell you one here. But first, a bit about my grandmother. She was the eldest of 11 children. She went to college (!) and studied astronomy (!). She wrote poetry. Her specialty was what she called "Star Sonnets," where she combined her knowledge of astronomy with her poetic talent. She taught "elocution," which is called "speech" today. Here's a story I wrote about her stories, 23 years ago:

The Best Horses
All Rights Reserved

We were in our nightgowns. I remember her brushing her hair in front of the dresser where I kept my collection of ceramic horses. Nannie's hair was white and gold and hung down to her waist. She wore it up in a braided crown during the day, but took it down and brushed it out every night, 100 strokes, religiously.

I showed her my horses, especially the red one reared up with its hooves in the air, my favorite.

"That's not red; that's a sorrel, honey. My hair used to be just that color – just like yours is now* – and the boys at school used to tease me and call me 'sorrel-tail' because I wore it in a long straight ponytail."

"Why do they call our hair red and not sorrel?" I asked.

"Because when you're talking about people you say 'red,' but red horses are called sorrels. There's all kinds of names for colors of horses. There's daple, which is gray with white spots, and buckskin, that's light brown with a black tail and mane, and chestnut, which is like a sorrel only darker brown." She looked in the mirror and laughed. "Now, I'm a palomina-tail."

"How come you know so much about horses, Nannie?"

"My daddy used to raise horses."

"He did? Did you get to ride any?"

"Oh my, yes, all the time."

"Did you ever ride any sorrel horses?" I held up my favorite horse.

She patted it with the tip of her finger. "I remember one sorrel Daddy had. He was the biggest horse anybody had ever seen. Daddy wouldn't let any of us ride him because he was just 'too much horse.' Daddy sold him to Sheriff Pate – old 'Two-Gun Pate,' we called him, because he always wore a double holster with matching pistols. We kids were all scared to death of him, especially when he was atop that great big sorrel. He could look right down into your eyes and he'd know if you were telling tales or not. He made sure that all the kids were behaving themselves and not getting into any trouble."

She finished brushing her hair and then she brushed mine. She gathered my hair up into a ponytail and said, "Yes, you're a sorrel-tail, alright. And even a little wild, like I was at your age. But I think old Two-Gun Pate was right about one thing: sometimes the wildest colts make the best horses."
——————-
* red was my natural hair color.

March 22, 2006

Muse or Snooze

Filed under: Pen to Paper — chapterhouse @ 8:14 am

That muse-o-mine is so funny. Seems she does her best work after my head hits the pillow at night. Problem is, that's when I need to sleep. But noooooooooo. After an hour and a half of trying to get to sleep a couple of nights ago, I had to get up, turn Harriett* on, and start typing. And typing. Then, along about three o'clock in the morning, I'm laughing hysterically in a darkened room, in Harriett's glow, at something the muse has written.

I'm not complaining, though, because for a long time, I couldn't find my muse. She also apparently likes to play hide 'n seek. And catch-me-if-you-can.

This morning I am at my desk, trying to prime the pump by writing this bloglet, just to let the muse know that I'm ready to go to work. Unfortunately, I think she's still asleep.
—————–
* No, I haven't Caught The Gay; Harriett is the name of my cute little laptop. (Not Scruffybutt, the other cute little laptop.)

March 20, 2006

Bad Times in Big D

Filed under: Uncategorized — chapterhouse @ 6:51 pm

Discovery Channel just started a new series, Perfect Disaster. Well, I love disaster movies and documentaries about disasters, plus I keep up on all the impending disasters I can, you know, like Avian Flu, the Reston, Va. strain of airborne Ebola from a few years ago, and of course, the Coming Global Superstorm. (Imagine, my shrink says that this is symptomatic of generalized anxiety disorder, like a normal person wouldn’t be concerned about these things as much as I am.)

So the very first episode of Perfect Disaster, aired last night, was about a Super Tornado (!) hitting Dallas! Where I live! Of course, I already knew that Big D sits at the apex of the three necessary conditions for tornado creation (and I’m sure you all do, too, so I won’t bore you with all that here.) But I had never heard the term, “super tornado.” How did I miss that!?!

The guy from the National Weather Service who always seems to be featured on these kinds of programs stood there in front of some houses in the neighborhood where Maxwell House is and said, “And the East Dallas neighborhood where I’m standing would be completely wiped out by the super tornado. It’s not a question of if, but WHEN.”

Oh. Thank you SO much for that. And my realtor thanks you, too. Asshat.

To top it off, last night we also happened to have the big drought-busting, frog-strangling FLOOD that we all knew was coming sooner or later. When I was driving around today, I saw neighborhood after neighborhood where there had been obvious flooding. But NOT on the street where Maxwell House is.

March 19, 2006

Three Years Ago

Filed under: Political Chapter — chapterhouse @ 7:06 am

Three years ago, we were in London, standing outside Parliament and protesting the war. I tried to find the pics of the sit-down that happened right in front of us, but with all the packing for our alleged move to NC, I couldn't. But it blocked traffic for hours, and the London police were marvelous about it all. We hated to leave civilization!

How is it that we, the protestors that night, were talking about the very same things before the war started that people are just beginning to talk about now, three years later? Like, there aren't any WMD's because the weapons inspectors said so; like, this is going to be another Vietnam, and we'll be mired in for years to come with massive loss of life on both sides; like, this is going to provoke bloody civil war; and like, why aren't we going after Osama; like, why does the president of the US think Osama and Sadam are buds, when we know that they despise each other? Why, exactly, is it that we knew these things then, BEFORE THE FUCKING WAR STARTED!?! and our alleged president ignored ALL of this information?

Just wondering.

P.S. and why are we paying a substantial portion of the cost to rebuild the mosque that the insurgents blew up, while our own citizens are still living in tents in Louisiana? And why are we rebuilding Iraqi schools and hospital, when our own are so badly in need of attention, not to even mention the lack of basic healthcare for our citizens?

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