Strange things can happen…

Strange Men in Pinstrip Suits Blog Award

So…I was surprised to see that I had been given an award for my blog.  Lynn Rush was kind enough to list me as a recipient of The Strange Men in Pinstripe Suits Blog Award.  Thanks Lynn. 

Strange Men in Pinstripe Suits award

This award is based on the release of Cate Gardner’s short story collection, Strange Men in Pinstriped Suits. The book is available for pre-order and at a discount of $1.99 off of the cover price. To help celebrate this release, Cate and Strange Publications have a contest with two prize packages to choose from.

 The ‘Strange Men in Pinstripe Suits’ award is given to only the strangest of folk, and as the recipient of such you are deemed very strange indeed. Congratulations.

Now you must go forth and celebrate the strangeness of friends (and strangers – strangers are always allowed) by nominating blogs run by strange folk. *Beware, some people don’t like you to refer to them as strange…Try to avoid them if possible.

Some rules:

1. Add the logo of the award to your blog post.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded it to you (don’t mess with strange people).
3. Nominate seven other blogs telling us why you think the recipient is strange enough to deserve the award.
4. Leave a message for those nominated on their blogs.
5. And, if you email catephoenix(at)gmail(dot)com and tell her you’ve received the award for your strangeness, she’ll enter you in the biggest kick-ass Strange Men competition ever. Details over at (click on the award link on the home page)


The hardest part of this is getting together 7 blogs that I think are “strange”.  I don’t want to put anyone off by bestowing them with such a title, but I guess that I’m just going to hold my breath and jump into this one.  So, here goes:

Jeremy-This is probably the strangest guy that I know.  His very short lived blog is just another example of his strange ways.  You can check out his true talents by clicking on his Facebook Photography Site link in the right margins of my blog.

The Ignorant Bystander– I enjoy his strange range of topics and writing style. 

RD Carter– Mrs Carter has some very strange Titles for her blogs.  Very funny…

SelfProclaimedM…-Good blog about topics that are all over the charts.  Strange stuff indeed.

FreakCycle-Strange things going on over at FreakCycle. 

Danny-Some strange short stories on Danny’s blog.

KC-Kids say the stranges things sometimes.  This is a great blog about KC’s daughter, Max.

Well…that about wraps it up folks.  Thanks for reading.  Stay Strange!


I joined the e-reading bandwagon! I feel like a traitor, but it is still kind of cool…

A Picture of a eBook

Image via Wikipedia

Today, in a moment of weakness, I broke down and took a left down E-reader Blvd.  I know folks; I have been a staunch defender of antiquity when it comes to traditional reading, but things have a way of changing.  They certainly do.  Sometimes necessity breeds that change, and so it was in my situation.

I have an extended business trip coming up soon and I really want to get a few good books under my belt while away from the family.  Books kind of make the time fly by just a little quicker, but I only have a limited amount of space,  so I find myself at an impasse:

Do I buy more books that take up a lot of room?


Do I acquire an e-reader?

You guessed it!  I went the e-reader route.  I am famously cheap, so purchasing a kindle, sony e-reader, nook, or i-pad is out of the question.  The next best thing is anything free, so I searched the web for a bargain.  I found exactly what I was looking for right here.  Amazon has a Kindle application for PCs that works very well (according to the demo), so I downloaded the app and began my electronic reading journey.

I know that a laptop is fairly large, but don’t blow holes into my decision just yet.  I don’t expect to lug around my HP every time I want to do some reading, rather I intend to use it as a platform for a quick read while taking a break from work.  I can minimize anything that I am working on and pop open a good book; all in the matter of two mouse clicks.  Pretty cool huh?  I think so.

I’ve already downloaded a couple of titles from amazon and I’m pretty excited to check them out.  They have an extensive collection ebooks for sale, not to mention, a broad array of free ebooks!  Goes well with my frugality.  I’ve also packed about four “old school” paper books into my bag for the trip and look forward to immersing myself into those beauties each night prior to bedtime.

Well, I better wrap this up.  I have some e-bookin’ to catch up on.  See you on the information superhighway!

Freshly Pressured

Wow…what a weekend folks. I survived another rejection notice, I went to the circus with my wife and kids, and one of my posts was featured on Freshly Pressed! I cannot tell you how excited I was (and still am) that the “Powers that Be” chose one of my posts to be featured! I felt like a rock-star. Still do. I know that my wife and children are probably tired of hearing about it. Thank you to all of the folks out there who visited my blog and all of those who left a comment. I truly enjoyed reading each of your remarks and I hope that you all come back soon for another visit.

There are some definite benefits to being featured on Freshly Pressed. You get the satisfaction of knowing that your blog will be reviewed by more readers and you get a big boost in confidence. On the contrary, there is also an often overlooked consequence to being displayed on the WordPress homepage; pressure. I’m now lumped in with those who belong to the seedy underbelly of the blogosphere; the one time wonders of Freshly Pressed. I now feel super pressured to post better content. I know that quality trumps quantity, but what if I make a spelling error, or even worse, what if one of my blog post falls flat on its digital face? What then? I now know how the primates at the local zoo must feel about their situation. I feel terrible for all of the acclaim and recognition that I have lavished on those simple apes. How pressured they must feel to consistently outdo their last performance…what a shame. In the future I will be mindful of their strife prior to boasting of their over-the-top showmanship and their humorous antics. Perhaps that will allow them a fleeting moment of relief, at the least.

I guess that about does it for now. Again, thanks to those of you who read my blog, even the ones that did not like it. I know who you are, by the way. I hold no grudge, but next year I may forget to remind you of the dreadful day! In the meantime, stay classy!

A novel idea and it’s outline

Hello folks.  Yesterday I told you all about the unlikely inspiration that I received from an aerial assault by a menacing crow.  Well, the idea that was born of the crow’s attack has begun to take shape.  I must say that I am very excited about the beginnings of this idea for a novel.  As of right now, I have never been able to finish any attempt at writing a novel.  I have slogged through many a short story and a passel of flash fiction, but the novel has always been my stumbling block.  Don’t get me wrong, it is my dream to actually start and finish a novel; I just haven’t had much luck with follow through.

Hopefully, my luck with that is changing.  I began my novel outline today and was amazed at the story that began to unearth itself.  It was like a tiny fossil that, as my chisel worked, began to take shape into quite the prehistoric beast!  The ideas were flowing, I got some basic character sketches hashed out, and even a couple of subplots.  I think that I am going to push this outline as far as I can go.  This might be what was missing from my previous attempts at cranking out that elusive novel.  I have never worked an outline before.  Normally, I just plug away as I go, but that has never worked out for the best.  Yes my friends, it seems like the outline is the WAY TO GO.

The novel will be fantasy, but I want to be careful to stay away from cliches and already-been-done story-lines.  Wish me luck while I uncover this fossil…or I guess in this case it would be more appropriate to say-while I hatch this crow’s egg.

Bad news, good news, and how a crow delivered a story idea.

Bad news...

What a difficult weekend!  My daughter has been in and out of the ER for the last couple of days, dealing with an injured shoulder, so my wife and I have been kind of stressed out.  Currently, I am not home (I am quite a ways away), so my poor wife has had to bear this burden all by herself, with my support solely through Skype or via cell phone.  I wish that I could be there for them in person, but I cannot.  Thank God that we have a good cellular plan.  Go Softbank!

Since my wife is keeping me posted via cell phone, I spent a few hours in the park today awaiting updates from home.  The signal inside of this massive steel warship is non-existent, so the park on base became my mobile command post.  Before leaving the ship, I packed my book, grabbed my Sony Mylo, stuffed my cell phone in my pocket, and headed to the park.  On the way, I made a quick stop at Starbucks and purchased a mocha-something-or-other-frappuccino.

Once at the park, I located a nice park bench and began to construct my command and control center.  After I was satisfied with the set up, I kicked back and waited for my phone to ring, providing an update on our daughter’s status.  Enjoying the sun shining down on me through the trees, I settled into the book that I am currently reading, ironically (you’ll soon find out) entitled Crows and Cards.

Good News.

After about an hour of reading, I phoned my lovely wife for an update.  The doctors examined the x-rays and have decided that our daughter’s arm is not fractured!  Great news, although she is still in a lot of pain.  Poor thing.  With that good bit of news, I resumed reading.
How a crow delivered a story idea.

While reading my book, I noticed a lot of aerial shenanigans in my peripheral vision.  I lowered the book from in front of my handsome roman nose (my nice way of saying big) and directed my attention towards the escapades unfolding all around me.  I was suddenly aware of swarms of crows and sea-hawks, giving the resident pigeons a ration of you-know-what.  The crows were diving down towards the pigeons, followed by the graceful and predatory dive of the sea-hawks.

After watching a few unsuccessful dives by the crows and sea-hawks, I realized that the pigeons were scattering in every direction of the compass each time an attacker dove to strike, causing mass confusion among the birds of prey.  It seemed that the vulnerable pigeons had found strength in numbers.  How intelligent these rats of the sky seem to be!

In the heat of battle, an evil crow decided upon a ‘kamikaze’ attack directed towards the pigeons and almost ran into the bench that on which I was sitting.  If it wasn’t absolutely silly, I would swear that the bird was after the shiny ipod that lay by my side.  The wayward crow screamed towards a pigeon, pulled up a little late, and grazed my bench; pointy claws scraping at my nano!  All of a sudden, I was struck by an idea for a story.  Fantastic.  It was truly an inspiration from above.

I guess that is enough excitement for one day.  I will update you folks on our daughter’s status as soon as I can.  I think that she is will be alright, but she’s going to be in pain for a few days.  Wish us luck…

I won a contest! Woop woop!

While picking through the writing Tag page on WordPress today, I received quite a surprise.  I clicked on a blog called Catch the Rush and was greeted by my name in bold font!  You can check it out here.  I can’t tell you how excited I am right now.  I submitted one of my older blog posts for the ‘Make Me Laugh Contest’, and it won.  I’m riding high today.  First I had some terrific Indian food and now I am a winner.  Luckily winning the contest doesn’t upset my stomach like the Indian food likely will.  Thanks Lynn Rush, for picking my story.

Yokosuka ramblings Traveling Japan

Boredom finally overtook me today and I decided to get up and go on an adventure.  Well, what I really mean is that I went for a walk about town.  I have had a lot of work to do lately and have found little time to depart the ship.  Today, I tossed caution to the wind, donned my backpack, my sunglasses, forgot my sunscreen (sorry Shelley…I know…I’m feeble minded), and got to walkin’.  First I stopped by the Starbucks on base and fueled my engines.  While there, my shirt did its best drying off trick as I read my book and drank my iced coffee, boy was it hot outside!  That was my first bit of caffeine in about two months, and to my surprise, I didn’t even get a nervous twitch.  I finished up my coffee and headed out the back gate.

Upon exiting the gate, I hung a left and ambled down towards a local park that is nestled along the front of a small levee.  The sidewalk leading to the park made for a great trek.  For about 6 blocks, there lies an intricately designed “river” that flows down the sidewalk.  It comes up through fountains, around statues, collects in pools (where crows bathe…an interesting sight), and meanders all the way down to the park.  I passed small children waddling through the shallow “sidewalk river” as well as parents cooling off their aching feet in the flowing water.  How I wished that I could shed my shoes and jump into one of the larger “estuaries” that dotted the sidewalk leading to my destination.  Alas, I am not familiar with the local courtesies and I kind of stick out here, so I was afraid that I would be in for some sort of social faux pas.  I forewent my urge to wade through the man-made river and walked on.  I finally arrived at the park and was greeted by an ancient Japanese battle ship, the Mikasa, that was launched from Britain in 1900.  It had masts that were rigged for sail, so that marks it as kinda old.  It was pretty amazing.  The ship had huge dual batteries on the fo’c’sle and multiple batteries running along both the port and starboard sides of the hull.  I was duly impressed.  That ship comes from a day when Sailors were worth their salt and held a firm grasp on nautical traditions and know-how.  I snapped a couple of pictures of the mighty vessel with my sony mylo and shoved off to continue my exploration of Yokosuka.

I made my way back towards the Naval base and ended up on Blue Street.  It is aptly named for the bits of blue stones that dot the street, embedded in the asphalt.  I walked up past Blue St. to an area that seemed to be geared towards younger Sailors.  I don’t recall the name of the street, but it was lined wall to wall with bars and shops full of nautical baubles of all sorts.  I stopped into some of the shops and found some really exciting trinkets.  I phoned my wife, gave her my best sales pitch, and she declined.  Thank God for her, or I would be broke.  Either way, I did enjoy digging through the treasures that are fit for a fine Sailor, such as meself….arrrghhh.

The Dragon Bar mural

As the sun began to steal away every inkling of energy in my body, I made my way back towards Mikasa park.  I wanted to get one last look at the proud old battleship.  I passed a really cool mural on the wall of the Dragon Bar, took a picture, and continued on my bee line towards the old warship.  On the way, I called my wife again to chat and she warned me that I probably ought to get out of the sun for a bit and find some shade.  The lovely woman is forever looking out for me.  I am currently on some mighty strong meds that prohibit extended exposure to the ol’ sun, so inside I did go.  I ducked into a small cafe, named Pot Luck.

Once inside, I was greeted, in English, by a middle-aged Japanese man.  He seemed to be tending the restaurant and quickly ushered me to a booth that was nestled against a decorative bay window.  He plopped a menu in front of me and off he went.  I perused the menu for a few minutes and settled on a “Coke with Ice Cream.”  I called the waiter over and placed my order.  He ensured me that this was a very wise choice and off he went to concoct this delicious treat.  When he returned, he placed the Coke-float down on the table, and looked at me expectantly.  I nodded my thanks and looked back down at my drink.  He remained, fixed in front of my booth.  After an awkward moment of silence, I shot him an inquisitive glance.  He nodded and directed me to take a sip.  I did and it was exquisite.  The soft serve ice cream was mixed just right with the Coca Cola and ice cubes.  It tasted like my childhood.  To be on a continent well on the other side of the earth, far from the place that I grew up, I sure did feel at home.  I just wish that my beautiful wife and our kids could have been there to share the moment, and the Coke float.

After I had cooled down and finished my drink, I bid farewell to the gentleman that had served up my order and headed back out to the Mikasa.  I tell you, there is no place like Mikasa park for anyone interested in Naval history to visit.  The Mikasa is the last remaining pre-dreadnought battleship in the world.  It is surely a sight to see.  If you are interested, you can jump into a history lesson on the Mikasa here.

Well, I am going to relax for a little while, after this long day of explorin’.  Take it easy folks.