Thursday, January 31, 2008

Jen Meets Celebrity Story #1

Because I'm tired, cranky, and cold (it's a balmy 18 degrees Fahrenheit where I am. That's -7 degrees Celsius, 265 Kelvin), we're having a "Listen to Jen ramble about a celebrity she met one time." Otherwise known as "That time I met Mandy Patinkin once."

Okay, this one time, I met Mandy Patinkin. But let me break it down with breathless, massively urple prose.

It was the winter of 1996. My mother, knowing my love of all things musical theatre, presented me with an early Valentine's day present. Tickets to see Mandy Patinkin at DeVos Hall in Grand Rapids on February 9th.

Now, since February 9th is my mother's birthday, one might assume that she bought those tickets partially for herself, but I trust my mom. She used to give super awesome presents for weird holidays. For instance, one year for Christmas I got like, a VHS of Purple Rain and some random assorted weirdness from the outlet mall, but then for Valentine's day she got me tickets to the lady's professional figure skating world championships. She used to pull really weird pranks, too, like putting a life-sized cut out of Darth Vader in the doorway of my room so that when I opened it he would be looming over me and scare me half to death.

But I digress.

My mother bought us the tickets, as well as a hotel room at the swank downtown Amway Grand Plaza. If you are from Michigan, or are familiar with Amway, it will not surprise you to hear that these two properties are connected. We arrived in plenty of time to check in and went to dinner, but I couldn't concentrate on eating. I was going to see Mandy Patinkin, of "Evita" and "Yentl" and "Sunday In The Park With George" fame. Also "The Princess Bride," lest you forget about that a crucial part of the story not make sense.

Show time came closer and closer. We paused in the lobby to purchase his latest cd, "Oscar and Steve," and I bounced and hopped in my seat, full of expectant, nervous thrill at the thought of finally seeing one of my favorite performers on stage.

The lights went down. Mandy came out. It was rapturous.

The show was very informal. He came out in jeans and a t-shirt. There was no backdrop on the stage, just the blank back wall and a ghost light, and Paul Ford at an upright piano. Mandy chattered like he was putting on a show for friends in his living room; at one point a woman's coughing in the audience grew so distracting that he passed a bottle of water back to her. He stopped mid-song to sheepishly admit that he had to burp and it would ruin the mood of the piece, so he started a new song and promised to go back to the ruined one later. It was the most fun you could have watching a man and a piano, unless there was some sort of balancing act involved.

As we left, happy and excited about what a great evening it had been, an usher stopped us.

"Looks like you enjoyed the concert," he said, indicating my perma-grin.

"Oh, yes!" I exclaimed. I might even have locked my hands together and brought them up behind my ear in the classic pose of a delighted child.

"Would you like to meet Mandy?" he asked. He might have added "backstage" to the end of that sentence, but I could hear him because all I heard in my head was the bit of The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" where Roger Daltry screams "YEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!"

The usher led my mother and I to a backstage area, near the dressing rooms, where group of about twenty people waited in a line. A door opened. Mandy emerged, showing no signs of fatigue after his nearly two hour concert except the still damp sweat stains on his clothes.

It seemed a lifetime as we waited for him to sign autographs and pose for photos with the people ahead of us. I was almost convinced I was having one of those dreams like I always have where I'm about to eat a cupcake and then I wake up before I take the first bite and realize that there are no cupcakes, and the world is as hard and cruel as it has always been. Except in this case it was not a cupcake, it was Mandy Patinkin, and also, I would not bite him because I have learned my lesson about biting strangers.

But lo! I was no dream, and we approached the golden-throated near-counter-tenor that thrilled my drama geek heart as Georges Seurat in Sondheim's opus "Sunday In The Park With George"! My palms sweating, I stepped up when he motioned me over. Trembling, I handed him the "Oscar and Steve" cd to sign, which he did, as well as my program. "Enjoy the show?" he asked, sounding just like Dr. Geiger from "Chicago Hope", which makes sense because that was him. I just hadn't, until that moment, realized that he sounded that cool in person.

I nodded dumbly and took my cd back. I opened my mouth to say "Thank you," but what came out was this: "Say it."

Without batting an eye, without pausing in momentary confusion, in fact, without any sort of change of expression at all aside from a charming half-smile, he said: "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."

"THAT WAS AWESOME!" I exclaimed, shaking his hand heartily. The ice broken, I told him about my theatrical aspirations (I was still laboring under the misconception that someday I would be a big Broadway star), and told him very earnestly, "I'm going to do what you do someday." He smiled and said, "Well, I'll see you down the road then."

I was about to say thank you and walk away when a man with a press badge approached and interrupted. "Excuse me, Mr. Patinkin, can we get a picture for the Grand Rapids Press?"

I mumbled a quiet thank you and, clutching my cd and program, started to walk away, when Mandy said, "Wait, can she be in the picture too?"

I theorize that he'd overheard my conversation with my mother moments before our turn in line, when I'd lamented not knowing to bring a camera. Either that, or he thought the guy should have just waiting in the line and was annoyed at him.

The press guy looked a little bit put-off, but he said it would be okay. How are you going to tell Inigo Montoya no? Mandy waved me back over and put an arm around my shoulders and we said cheese for the camera. Just as the photographer was about to take the photo, Mandy called for him to wait. "Is that mom over there?" he asked, pointing to where my mother, all 5'2" of her, stood, giving an enthusiastic thumbs up. "Let's get mom in the picture, too!" Mandy said, and my mom hurried over to stand on the other side of him. With his arms around us like we were the greatest chums in the history of friendship, we smile big for the picture. Just as the flash goes, he turned his head and planted a great big kiss on my cheek. Everyone still in line laughed, my mother and I shook hands with him and thanked him again for the autographs. We went back to our hotel room and ordered an obscene amount of room service food, ate ourselves into comas and she even let me skip school the next day.

My only regret about the whole thing was that the picture never ran in the paper. It would have been a fantastic shot for my scrapbook, where my treasured pictures of all the celebrities I've stalked met go.

And that's it. That's the story about how this one time I met Mandy Patinkin once.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Bienvenidos A My Office

Just in case you wanted to know what the room I spend about 90% of my day in looks like, here is a brief and terrifying tour of my office in this insanely long and over-detailed entry.


Okay, MTV, let me show you around. This is where the magic happens. My deskal area. Let's break it down.

  1. My awesome MacBook, the most awesomest toy I have ever bought. The screen is displaying, as usual, not work, but my secrety LiveJournal.
  2. The Halloween decoration I have named Bob, after Bob in the Dresden Files. I'd like to think the Bob what comes out of the skull is the Bob from the tv show and not the books. Nothing against the books, but Bob in the tv show is smecksy. He's wearing the crown that went with my slutty Queen of Hearts costume last Halloween, because I have named him Princess For The Day, every day. Inside the skull is a baggy of snappers or poppers or whatever you call them, the little twisted up paper bits with black powder in them that explode when they hit the floor. They are employed frequently to terrorize the cats when they are doing something bad, or just when I'm bored.
  3. Underneath Bob and the explosives is my "Book of Wonder", the binder where I keep scrapbook pages of people and locations in my writing. It's also the graveyard for ideas that I had that didn't work out, but which I was really excited about at one time, like a paranormal romantic comedy about Dracula and another paranormal romantic comedy that I don't even want to go into. It also holds the seeds for upcoming projects, like one about a woman whose husband is murdered by supernatural forces and a story about zombies.
    I realize at this point that there are two #3's, because I'm intelligent. The second number 3 is a beribboned steak knife that was presented to me in a bouquet of flowers by my wonderful friends at GRRRWA, including Brynn Paulin, Bronwyn Green, and Cheryl Sterling, among others who I think have pseudonymous blogs but I can't be sure who is who. The flowers and knife were given to me to celebrate the sale of the first Blood Ties book, and is in reference to the fact that I routinely stab knives through books I hate before resigning them to my "hall of shame". The card that came in the flowers reads "Get Well Soon. Wishing you all the best success and a speedy recovery from your recent demon possession."
  4. This is the bottle of Diet Coke I was drinking the day the photo was taken. Yes, it is a two liter. Why do you ask?
  5. Some of my dolls. Most of them are away in storage, because Mr. Jen finds them creepy. A picture from our wedding is in the frame in front of them, so that Mr. Jen constantly has his back turned to the horrible creatures he is sure will one day murder him to death.
  6. My little altar of creativity. We'll look at that in more detail in a moment.
  7. I like to paint, in my spare-ish time, and this is something I painted in 2003. It's a female form, crucified on fishhooks, bleeding into an open book. Yeah, sometimes I hate deadlines, and I need to get that frustration out somehow.
  8. My friend Cheryl Sterling gave me this calendar as a Christmas present. Her present is still sitting in my office closet, with many other people's presents I have forgotten to deliver.
  9. Good for fending off vampires.
  10. A framed book cover that Borders's corporate offices gave me to celebrate The Turning's debut at #6 on their romance list. Also, I went to dinner with some people from there and my former editor Sasha Bogin, and I had some awesome rabbit and pasta thing that looked like severed ears.
  11. Some postcards I like. Some from BPAL that they send along with your order.
  12. Some postcards of Melville related stuff. The bottom one is a portrait of him, the one above, in sepia tones, is a picture of his farm in Pittsfield, MA.
  13. Another genius, Mr. Stephen Sondheim.
  14. This is a peacock of unimaginable horror.
  15. My friend Chachi gave me this plate for my wedding. It has a real Wuthering Heights type scene going on it it.
  16. Bronwyn Green cross-stitched this lovely Irish sampler for me. It contains a very treasured old Irish proverb, "Na bodris... ni mi fhin e." Nevermind, I will do it myself."
  17. I love nutcrackers. A lot. This is an antique (and pretty racist) hand-held nutcracker purchased for me by Mr. Jen's stepmother, who knows I enjoy strange and rare nutcrackers.
  18. That's Lucy! She's my guitar!
  19. Again, I repeated a number. So, the one on the wall is a card from Bronwyn Green that she drew a picture of a bare foot stomping a spider inside to prove her love, and the one on the shelf is a gingerbread man with horns that I made two solstices ago to be contrary.


This is Ryan, from the Ellora's Cave calendar they gave out all free-like at RT. Ryan is an important component of my office, and also I like to star e at the veins of his lower abdomen above the waist of his pants. I like to objectify men.

This is a close up of my creativity altar. I throw all sorts of little bits that make me feel imaginative and inspired here. You can't see my ribbon o' skeleton keys that dangle down, but keys are really my personal symbol, and they hang from this altar, as well.

  1. A wooden stake that my friend Cristin brought me from her work. She's not a vampire hunter, no matter what that last sentence implied.
  2. A really cool jar o' writing prompts Cheryl Sterling made, and I fish out a new prompt when I'm stuck, or looking to write a fanfic.
  3. This candle smells HORRIBLE. Like Lemon Pledge and burning hair in a jar of spoiled dill pickles.
  4. Mr. Jen thinks this crystal looks like a penis. I think it looks like a crystal, myself. But anyway, these are my assorted rock bits. If you are eagle eyed, you may spot the dragon pendant from the cover of Possession nestled among them.
  5. Yay, Labyrinth!
  6. This is a button that says "Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die." There is a funny story behind this button, which I will share one day in a post titled "When I met Mandy Patinkin once."


To the rear of my office (heh, "rear"), are my bookshelves o' doom. This is shelf #1.

  1. A forlorn and abandoned stack of cds. Sorry, guys, but iPods are the wave of the future.
  2. Isn't that cute? It's one of my three Build-A-Bear friends. I have a real problem with buying toys.
  3. My TBR pile. Please note how the shelf bows under the massive weight.
  4. That's my friend Christina Radish's Christmas present. I'm a horrible friend for not sending it yet.
  5. Behind the crystal ball, that's a Little Apple doll. I love those things so much, it's ridiculous. I wish I could afford to buy them all.
  6. Remember what I said about toys? Also, beside those Barbies is a bird watching dwarf nutcracker. Remember what I said about nutcrackers?
  7. Big ole stack of sheet music.
  8. I guess I skipped 8 to make up for the repeat numbers earlier.
  9. Another painting I did, this one of an appearance of the Blessed Virgin at the end of my Grandma's driveway. You know, like you do.
  10. Hair extensions of DOOOOOOOOOM. I'm working on a project right now.
  11. A dirty blanket that I use for a curtain, because I'm too cheap to buy a curtain.
  12. This is a really cool wicker chest my mother-in-law gave me, and I put all my supplies for witchy doings in there. Lots of herbs and oils and snips and snails and candles and such.


This is the second bookshelf o' doom. Now, with added doom. Someone used to use this in their bedroom and they put a television up top and just threw away the top shelf, hence the sadly wasted space up there.

  1. Another Little Apple doll. On the shelf below her, there is yet another one. Toys, remember?
  2. This is a really cool gift I got from someone who was taking a photography class. She might not want me to plaster her name all over here, so I will not mention it. But she took this picture and titled it "Nathan's Bookstore".
  3. My big ole shelf o' comparative religion. I've basically taken a little bit from every book on this shelf and cobbled together my religion of Jenism. I'm trying to figure out a way to work it into a cult, like Scientology.
  4. Various paperbacks that I enjoy and keep. Okay, truth is, I keep every book, ever. Even if I hated it. Because I love books in general and I don't like not havin them. This is also why I don't go to the library, because they can get real uppity if you keep the books.
  5. I guess there is a five on that other Little Apple doll, but I really didn't think the placement of red-on-red through all that well. To tell the truth, I marked these things up while watching House last night.
  6. A picture of me at my very first book signing at Waldenbooks in the Woodland Mall in Grand Rapids. This was totally momentous, because like, the year before that I was working in the Gap in that mall.
  7. So, once upon a time I had to go to Colorado Springs for this sales conference for Harlequin, and it was really cool and I met awesometastic people, and they had the covers for our next books all blown up and placed around the room where we had dinner, and I was like, "Can you mail that to me," and they did. But now I have no clue what I thought I was going to do with the thing.
  8. More paperbacks of wonderfulness, and a really ugly plate.
  9. Down there is the Hall Of Shame. I won't show you what's on it (that is a closely guarded secret), but I will say that it is also the home of my ugly unicorn collection.
  10. Okay, see those leaves hanging down? They're attached to this awesome wasps nest my mother-in-law gave me. She just cut down the whole branch it was on after she sprayed the little buggers to death (they were invading her house, something had to be done). There are actually still wasps stuck to it, dead. It's the most awesome thign in my office.

Look, severed heads!
This is where I work on wigs. I love wigs. They are fun, they let you change your hair without commitment, and also you can do things to them that you could never do with human hair.

  1. This is a wig I'm currently working for the Faery Ball at RT. Okay, actually, I finished it last night. But it was about six hours from the finish line in this picture. I always color in the faces on the wig heads to keep them from being so damned blank and creepy.
  2. See all that plaster and the unfinished wood window sill? About a year about we got our windows done, and I'll be honest: I hate painting. I still have not repainted around this window on the grounds that it has a door on it and people don't need to be going in my office in the first place.
  3. Isn't that speaker cool? There are three of them in my office, and they look like tiny Darth Vader heads.
  4. My 1914 Singer Tailor Model sewing machine. Also known as my wig table.
  5. Wow, how did that get broken?
  6. That's a box of MREs that my Army friend thought we would enjoy. Guess what? NO. MREs are gross. I do occasionally open them to fish for the M&Ms that sometimes come with them.


And last but not least, this is my real uncomfortable office chair. Notice the broken back. The left armrest matches. It often just pops up and pinches me for no good reason. This chair is the devil. But I'm too cheap to buy a new one.


Unless they make one that looks like toys. Then I would buy it in a heartbeat.

So, that's my office, for better or for worse. Now, all my sordid little details about where I work have been revealed. Yes, my office is a land of wonder and gaiety, but also unimaginable sorrow.

Go, try to forget the horrors you've seen, but they shall stalk you in your dreams for all eternity. I'm going to go get some Diet Coke and a candy bar!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Oh, it wasn't?

A quick update to bitch about the owner of the alarmist website www.tu24.org who claims his website and videos were NEVER ABOUT the chance of impact.

Really? Then what was the video showing the direct intersection of TU24's orbit and the orbit of Earth (falsly) supposed to be about then? I know that a second video came out after it, explaining that no, he didn't mean it would hit us, it's really because it's going to cause some sort of space lightening storm that will totally destroy us, any day now.

I'm waiting to see what the alarmist crap he comes up with after nothing at all happens or, conversely, what government agency covered up all the horrible effects of TU24's magic theoretical static electricity.

Meanwhile, some news outlets are being total alarmist asshats, as well. FOR SHAME, COURIER! FOR SHAME! For shame, seriously.

In other, but related, news, some research done on the Tunguska meteor has revealed that it's blast force was actually much less than the estimated 10 or 20 megatons it was thought to have had. Which means that lower destructive energy was needed than previously thought to make asteroids a threat, which means the Torino scale is looking like it is in need of revision if all of this is true. That would mean a lot of asteroids thought of previously as harmless would get higher Torino ratings and the few we have on the low end of the scale will look more doomtacular.

So, TU24 dude, start buying up domain names now.

Vive La Burger Republique!

Last night, Mr. Jen and I were discussing fast food in Europe. He, having never been to Europe, established himself as the expert and I, having been on three occasions to various European countries, had to knock his ass down a peg or two. Here is the conversation in almost its entirety:

Jen: And there are no Taco Bells in Europe!
Mr. Jen: That must have been terrible in Amsterdam.
J: No, because you go to McDonald's and they give you mayonnaise for your fries and you're like, "Oh, wow, this tastes SOOOOO good right now." So, I really didn't miss Taco Bell.
MJ: I cant eat McDonald's while I'm high. Burger King I could do. But I would really want Taco Bell.
J: No, there aren't any Burger Kings, either.
MJ: Yes there are!
J: I didn't see a single Burger King the whole time I was there. Not in England, not in Spain, not in France. Belgium. Holland. Nothing. No Burger Kings.
MJ: They were there, you just didn't see them.
J: Now, how they gonna have a McDonald's on practically every corner and I just don't happen to see a Burger King?
MJ: Well, I know why they don't have them in France. They rejected the burger monarchy a long time ago.
J: Yeah, like, there was a Burger King, but a bunch of Frenchmen stormed it and dragged the manager out and guillotined him and now it's Burger Republique.
MJ: Right. The had to behead him, because the King just has a plastic head.
J: They tried, though. Like, they loaded him onto that little bench and strapped him all in, and then they tried to roll him forward and his head wouldn't fit between the neck holder things.
MJ: Yeah, and they kept smashing his head into it, but he wouldn't fit. And his arms are all flailing. That would be funny.
J: His arms wouldn't be flailing. They strap you down.
MJ: No, seriously, I couldn't get high without Taco Bell.
J: Suit yourself. That's more for me, my friend.
MJ: Hey, we should go to Amsterdam for their festival of cannabis or whatever they call it.
J: I think they call it "Thursday".
MJ: No, they have this thing, this celebration, and they do contests. Like one is a competition to see who can smoke the most weed.
J: And that was how Jen died.

One of my friends posted this video on her LiveJournal, and it's hilarious. My favorite line is "Under my TurboHeather's pretty, pretty dress is a tornado of power." Clearly, TurboHeather is an EC heroine.

Monday, January 28, 2008

SPACE ROCK!

It has come to my attention that there is a video floating around YouTube with the intent of creating alarm and "ZOMG GOVERNMENT KONSPIRACY !!!111!!!!!ELEVENTY-ONE!!!" type feelings about a totally normal thing that happens every day.

That is, about a space rock.



Let me address this tom foolery on a point by point basis.


  1. Asteroid TU24 will be within roughly 500,000 kilometers of Earth. Wow, that seems really close, doesn't it? I mean, the moon is only 400,000 kilometers, or 1.0 Lunar Distances (from here out abbreviated "LD", meaning a measurement based on the distance between the Earth and the moon). So, TU24 is whizzing by at 1.3 LD! Oh no! It might hit us!

    No. But let me tell you why. On January 15 of this year, asteroid 2008 BW2 whizzed by at a close .9 LD. It was in between the moon and us, theoretically. And it didn't hit us. Why? It's on it's own little course, zooming through space.

    Think of it like cars on a freeway. They're traveling very fast, very close, but they rarely hit each other (unless something catastrophic happens). The only way they hit is if one car obstructs the path of another. Which is what makes cloverleaf exchanges so dangerous. But I digress. Think of space as one giant cloverleaf exchange, with earth and asteroids passing each other, close, in haphazard, last-minute choreography.
    The difference being that Earth and the asteroids both drive like assholes and will run each other off the road rather than change their orbits.
  2. Holy shit, this thing is the size of the Sears Tower in Chicago! Wow, that's scary, right? No. You fail at space, my friend. The asteroid, while indeed a hefty 527 meters is certainly not the largest one to make a close approach this century: Toutatis, know also as asteroid 4179, thought of as being the arguably most likely threat to crash into our planet eventually due to its strange orbit and rotation, came on by in 2004 with all of it's 2.9 miles of length and 1.5 miles of width. It is estimated that to cause world wide extinction, the proverbial "End of the World", an asteroid would have to be at least 1/2 mile, and when you do the conversion, TU24 falls just slightly short. It would cause massive destruction, obviously, but not the end of the world.

    You also have to judge its impact risk on the Torino scale. The Torino scale compares the destructive power in megatons of an asteroid to the probability of it striking earth and assigns a number, 0-10, 0 meaning "No way is this thing coming near us, and even if it did, it might leave a hole or kill a cow somewhere, but don't brick in your seat yet", 10 being "Start reading Revelations now, friend, because we're going straight to Hell." Big mamma Toutatis scored a 1 on her little trip. TU24 merits a fat, round 0.

  3. Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHA's) and Near Earth Objects (NEO's) fly by us every day. Two and sometimes three a day. None today or yesterday, which was actually very odd. We've never had the "plasma discharge" issue that the second video in this series alleges will occur. They cite Tunguska as being the result of a plasma discharge, but Tunguska actually hit us. If they theorize that even a small meteor with a negligible impact probability is going to cause world wide destruction without touching us, why hasn't it happened yet?

  4. The government can't cover up space rocks. All of the information gathered by professional and amateur astronomers is publicly available from NASA's NEO program (http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov). Plus, the United States isn't the only country with observatories and space technology. This just speaks to the egotism of the average American doomcrier. "The government is covering it up!" Yeah, blow me. This is the age of the internet, my friend. If our government covers it up, someone else's government is still going to spill the beans, and it's going to get posted all over TEH INTARWEBS. Morons.


I'm not posting the second video because it's bad science and I don't want to help it get anymore views. What I'm going to do instead is rant for a minute about doomsayers and astronomy.

Okay, I used to do a lot of community theatre. Nine times out of ten, a cast I was in would have this one specific kind of person. You'd talk about a show, let's pretend it's The Secret Garden. Anyway, you're talking to this person about The Secrt Garden and how much you love "In Lily's Eyes" and she says, "I only listen to the girl songs, so I can sing along," and you're like, "WTF is this shit? You only like something if you can somehow be involved in it?" Yeah, I'm talking about you, Rachel. You wanna go, let's go!

Anyway, amateur astronomers obsessed with PHA's and NEO's are Rachel, and astronomy in general is like The Secret Garden (the version with Mandy Patinkin and Daisy Egan). The Secret Garden (space) is so interesting and complex, with so much to offer as a musical (vast, inky void), but she's (they are) ignoring like, half the score (phenomenon) to concentrate only on the parts (she) they can sing along with (the parts that directly impact Earth). How short sighted and egotistical is it to assume that the only things of interest are going to be Earth (Rachel)-centric?

I guess my point is, doom freaks are morons, there is stuff way more likely to kill you on a daily basis (GLOBAL WARMING WILL COME TO YOUR HOUSE AT NIGHT AND SWITCH ALL YOUR PRESCRIPTION MEDICINES WITH RAT POISON!), and The Secret Garden is a really good musical.

Edited to add: I also want to point out that there is another TU24 video floating around out there that, along with stating completely incorrect facts (like TU24 is the largest asteroid and closest approach this century) argues that it WILL hit us because we don't know enough about it. It then states that we didn't know enough about a comet that recently visited our solar system, proving that scientists know nothing and we're all doomed. However, I can use that argument to prove anything. For example: "Scientists used to think the Earth was flat, so they don't know everything, so Cancer tastes like gumdrops!" Yeah, that's what we call a logical fallacy, kids.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Hey out there in the blogosphere!

I'm taking a little hiatus from blogging because Jr. has the pneumonia. Friday grab blog is still going to happen, but I'm MIA until further notice.

Keep it real, y'all.

ETA: This could keep you busy while I'm gone. Fred Phelps's Westboro Baptist Church is going to picket the funeral of Heath Ledger, calling him a "fag enabler" for appearing in the "sordid, tacky bucket of slime seasoned with vomit known as Brokeback Mountain." Granted, I agree that the movie wasn't that great, but you know, something about Fred Phelps makes me wish I could make a stranger's head explode just by imagining it over and over again. In any case, the church's phone number is 785-273-0325. Call them, let them know what you think.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Oh, no.

Photobucket


What a tragic loss.

6 Random Things About Me.

Okay, I was tagged by Brynn Paulin to do this meme. So I'm doing it.

Six Random Things About Me

  • I can walk on stilts. In fact, I'm so good on stilts, I can run on them. Unfortunately, I'm not real good at stopping.
  • I know some American Sign Language. And I'm still learning. In fact, I think I might spend a little too much time on it, because I sometimes have dreams in which I'm signing.
  • Every room in my house is painted a bright color. My kitchen is a bright red-orange, my living room is vibrant yellow, my office is cornflower blue, my bathroom is blindingly aqua, my bedroom (the most subdued color in the house) is forest green, Jr.'s room is sky blue, and the family room is pumpkin orange. I like colors.
  • I can sing the Highlander theme song backwards. Are we here! Kings to be born! Universe the of princes! Seriously, I don't know how or why it came up, but I can sing the whole song backwards.
  • I know all of the words to "It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" by REM Again, I'm not sure why I need to do know it, or how I figured it all out, but I do and I did.
  • I met Sarah Brightman in person. She was very tired. But she gave me her autograph.


I'm not gonna tag anyone. Do it if you want, don't if you don't. Whatever blows your skirt up.

Oscar noms are out, and I am required by law to say:



CONGRATULATIONS, JOHNNY!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Sweet Holy Mother Of L. Ron Hubbard.

Some wonderful soul has reposted the Tom Cruise on Scientology video that the "church" of Scientology ordered pulled from YouTube. Here is your chance to catch the crazy before they take it down again:


Now, I'm usually pretty laid back about other people's religions, but there is just something about Scientology that makes me want to build a giant bonfire with every available copy of Dianetics I can find. A lot of religions are far-fetched. Let's take a look:

  • Judaism An invisible being chooses a percentage of the human population to torture indefinitely.
  • Christianity Followers worship a carpenter (not Karen) who rose from the dead 2,000 years ago.
  • Church of Jesus Christ and The Latter Day Saints a.k.a. Mormons Founder of religion follows beautiful naked man into woods, explains his absence by starting religion based off of "plates" of text no one can see.
  • Shinto Followers believe that every inanimate object has a spirit; explains why Mr. Jen thinks canned goods sometimes need to be itched.
  • Neo-Pagans The universe is governed by various pantheons of petty, vindictive and selfish gods who look kindly upon dressing up in RenFaire garb and dancing around campfires at the local state park.
  • Buddhism Everything causes you suffering somehow, so don't overdo it and you should be fine.


Okay, so Buddhism doesn't sound that far-fetched. But given the list of weird things people believe, you'd think Scientology would be pretty easy to accept, right?

Scientologists believe that a bunch of years ago, before there were any people on the Earth, an evil space villain froze some aliens and dropped them into a volcano or something, and when people showed up, the ghosts of the aliens swooped in and infected us with all of their negative emotions, and that's why we get depressed and sick and hurt and have the daily ups and downs of life.

Let that sink in a moment. Alien ghosts.

The thing is, I have no problem with what anyone wants to believe. That's their business. But when they have such a smug attitude about it-- like Tom "we're the only ones who can save the world" Cruise-- and act as though it is their duty to convert everyone, well, that just really gets under my skin like hallucinogenic spiders with your dead grandma's face right after you've done a big ole bowlful of PCP.

And maybe a lot of my anger toward Scientology is based on the fact that while they want everyone to learn their secret ways of rejecting medical science and patting each other on the backs for understanding the universal truth, they want everyone to pay for it. And they want people to pay a lot of money. So, what we've ended up with is a church made of rich, successful people who think it's their job to save the world, because their egos weren't big enough to begin with.

Scientology just seems like a way to proclaim to the world, "Look at me! I'm rich! I'm important! This has be validated in a way that makes me feel secure about how I am living my life! More importantly, I know more than you do, and you can't find out what I know unless you pay for it, which you probably can't!"

Seriously, just buy a private jet or name a hospital after yourself, for Xenu's sake.

ETA: In the interest of fairness to Tom Cruise, here's a video of an absolutely nut bar lady who starts screaming about Jesus, Mexicans, and Shannon Doherty and gets kicked out a coffee shop. The site that hosts it is NSFW, though: http://www.filecabi.net/video/Christian_Lady_Coffee_Shop.html

Friday, January 18, 2008

Friday Grab Blog

I searched all day for something spectacular to be the very first Friday Grab Blog, and I think this, a robotic arm hurling bowling balls at an RV, sets exactly the sort of classy, high-brow tone Friday Grab Blog needs.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

American Idol Wrap Up!

Because it's Thursday (and I have no life), it's American Idol wrap up time here on Jen's blog. Unfortunately, I missed Tuesday night's program, otherwise I would have had a better immunity to horrible and I would have made it all the way through last night's show.

The highlights:


  • Singing Hippie Couple A wannabe Josh Groban and a Neverwillbe Charlotte Church warble their way through what sounds like two entirely different songs. At the same time. "I love American Idol season!" I proclaim joyously.
  • Creepy Dad And Chaste Son This dude gave his über-Christian son an abstinence necklace. The son keeps a key, a Freudian representation of his untouched manhood, and his father holds the reins to the heart or "proxy vagina" that he will one day give to his son's intended. This is in no way creepy or incestuous.
  • Pia I am rooting for this chick. She'd better make it to at least the last twenty-four.
  • Toenail man A boy who keeps his fingernails and toenails in a plastic baggy, and has been doing so for seven years. He wants to be a positive influence on American youth. For some absolutely bizarre reason, he made it to Hollywood.
  • Kayla Kayla also unfathomably made it to the next round. Decked out in a fabulous ensemble from the Stevie Nicks collection circa 1985, Kayla shouted/rasped her way through a spectacularly awful and actually painful sounding Janis Joplin number. Simon loved her. Because someone switched his Folgers crystals with crystal meth.
  • Violette Beauregard, post-Wonka gum man A very large, very blue black man who sang in a horrifying falsetto.
  • A dude in a Member's Only jacket
  • The Guy Who Wouldn't Stop Singing (tm) There is one of this guys every year, and every year security escorts them off. I'm reasonably sure they are paid members of the show. I wonder if this happens in other countries that do Pop Idol style shows.
  • Male Model And His Tone Dead Wife A male model who encouraged his wife to try out for AI, even though she's clearly tone deaf. He argues with the judges, however, that he genuinely enjoys her singing. Someday, they will make a great cruise ship couple. He can be a waiter and she can sing in the cabaret-style monstrosity.
  • Kyle, Future Governor of Oklahoma Fear not, Oklahomaians. Oklahomites? The worst musical tragedy since that Rodgers and Hammerstein musical just happened to your state, and his favorite movie is clearly Ella Enchanted.
  • The most uncomfortable audition in American Idol history A very monotone girl came into the audition room, announced the song she would be singing, began to sing (badly) a completely different song, then paused, silent, for an interminably long amount of time.
  • Country Blake An exact clone of Blake from last season, except a bigger douche because he sings country. If he beat boxes during "The Devil Went Down To Georgia," I may have to kill him.
  • Carrot Man Imagine if Clay Aiken and Zac Effron had a baby, but the baby was orangified in a tragic self-tanner accident. And also, he was way, way gayer than both his parents combined.


At this point, I turned off the tv. I couldn't take any more. I saw a furniture commercial that made me sad, I cried so hard that I threw up, then I went to bed.

Hopefully next week's show will be a little better.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Mini-Rant And Blog News

Here in my great state of Michigan, country of the U.S.of A, it was primary elections yesterday.

I did not vote. Why? Because I refuse to declare myself as being either a Republican or Democrat, or really any political party. In fact, the closest I come to being an anything is Libertarian, and even then, I'm not ready to sign on the dotted line.

It bothers me in the extreme that in order to support a candidate you believe in, you must first officially join their little club. I thought everyone had the right to vote, not just staunch defenders of the two party system.

"But wait, Jen," some may argue, "if we let just anyone vote in the primary without first aligning themselves with a specific political party, people from the opposite party could sabotage leading candidates by voting for the least popular candidate and splitting the vote." Yes, that could happen, which is why there should be only one primary vote per person. If you want to vote for a candidate from your party, great. If you want to try to skew things for the other side, go ahead. It's your vote, do whatever you want with it. If you want to waste your vote and possibly bite the candidate you're backing in the ass by using your vote on someone in another party, then that's up to you, idiot.

All I'm asking is that I don't have to enlist as a card carrying Republican or Democrat to use my vote. It's absurd. I don't have to declare my political beliefs to some stranger up the fire station because I want to vote. Furthermore, I don't EVER want another voting volunteer to say to me "Libertarian? You'll never see a candidate of YOURS get into office." That's not the point, lady. Loosen your bun a little bit and understand that if I'm casting a vote, I'm not betting on a horse. I'm using my tiny, insignificant pencil mark to tell the rest of the country, "Look, I don't like salt or pepper, so I don't have to use them, and your two party system is a joke that forces your candidates to spread themselves thin enough to cover half the country's ideals in a desperate bid to please everyone and we end up with some jabbering idiot in office who we know NOTHING about until shit happened and then he just made it worse and obviously has never won a game of Risk in his entire life and by the way, congratulations, every other country on the planet LOATHES us now, good job."

Wait, where was I again? Oh, that's right, I'm shaking my fist in futility at a problem greater than my power to fix it. It must be Wednesday.

Put your eyeballs here to skip over my insane ranting

In an effort to create some sort of a gimmick or something (I don't care, whatever, I'm just waiting until my kid is in bed and I can get blind drunk and watch The Dresden Files and drool over Bob), I've decided that Fridays are going to be a sort of grab bag of horrible surprises here on my blog. Is it going to be "The Horrors Of YouTube?" Or a VS. battle? Maybe it'll be a video interview with one of my fabulous and attractive friends. It could be a "Watch This" day, or a special link that I would like to share. Grab Blog Friday begins this Friday. Show up early or else everyone will think you're just following a trend.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Dr. Phil, maybe you need to counsel your wife...

Senator John McCain is in the city this morning. Senator McCain, on behalf of everyone in our area: stop fucking up our traffic. The weather is bad enough.

For about a week we had bizarre weather here. See, in Michigan, January is usually synonymous with mountains of snow, roads like arctic Slip n’ Slides and this really cool phenomenon where you leave a bottled water outside and it doesn’t freeze until you bring it inside and open it. But for some reason, last week we had temperatures in the forties (that’s fahrenheit, for everyone outside of this tiny island of standard measure in an ugly, cold, metric world, but let’s just say it was between 4 and 9 celsius and 277 and 282 Kelvin, in case you’re a scientist), which means shorts-wearing time for the average Michigander.

We’re paying for that now, with multiple vehicle accidents at every intersection and snow that falls in wet, gap-between-your-coat-and-your-neck seeking clumps.

Maybe it's the weather that has me in a poor mood, but I have been locked in the throes of deepest grammar rage today. I don’t know why, but I’ve been noticing everyone’s spoken grammar issues. For example, on Dr. Phil, Dr. Phil said, “I’ve raised two boys, along with my wife, Robin.” What the hell, dude? You’re a medical doctor. Could you rephrase that question so that it doesn’t imply that you raised your wife? I know she looks young, but I have a feeling that has more to do with L.A. doctors and not age.

Don’t even get me started on the Bare Minerals informercial (that I absolutely love to watch, because I love to see people putting on makeup). The woman trying to sell the products goes on and on about all the unnatural ingredients in regular foundations and concealers, then goes on to say, “there are only five natural ingredients in Bare Minerals.” Gee, that’s great, so what are the other, unnatural ingredients? Maybe something like, “there are only five ingredients in Bare Minerals, and they’re all natural.” There, I fixed your commercial.

I really can’t be that harsh. I can barely string together a sentence.

GREAT CHRISTMAS’S GHOST! We now interrupt your regularly scheduled blog bitching to totally flip out about Dr. Phil’s wife feeling up a seventeen-year-old on TV. Here’s the scoop: Dr. Phil asks Robin to come up on stage to be a part of a difficult interview between parents and a child. Robin comes up, sits next to this seventeen-year-old boy, puts her hand on his knee and says she was “wanting to touch” him. No joke. Then she reaches into his lap to get ahold of his hand, and he’s looking profoundly uncomfortable. Dr. Phil goes, “What are you feeling right now,” and I’m expecting this kid to say, “Your wife molesting me, Dr. Phil.” Holy crow. I mean, I get it, you’re going through this midlife thing and you’ve had all the plastic surgery you can reasonably have, so what comes next? You hire a supple young pool boy or a bronzed carpenter/struggling underwear model or somebody you don’t really need around the house and who preferably doesn’t speak English to take care of these things.

I’m seriously disturbed by Robin’s excessive handling of this poor, minor child, and Dr. Phil’s sudden and excessive use of mixed metaphor. I need to see some people putting on makeup to soothe my jangled nerves. Here, have some:





Friday, January 11, 2008

Un message pour mes admirateurs Français...

Bonjour, les gens Français! J'apprécie toutes les lettres que j'ai reçues de vous. J'apprécie également que vous avez excusé mon mutiler de la langue Français.

J'ai une question au sujet de la traduction Français de "La Lien Du Sange". Quel est le nom du fils des Nathan dans la traduction Français? J'ai pense qu'il a pu avoir été changé de la version Anglaise.

Si un lecteur pourrait me faire savoir, je l'apprécierais considérablement!

Merci de la lecteur!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Top Ten Signs A Work Of Fiction Was Written By Me

This is a meme making the rounds of the super awesome writers who blog, so I thought I'd toss my hat into the ring.

Ten Signs A Work Of Fiction Was Written By Me

  1. A character you grow to love and root for is brutally killed midway through the book. It will be random and somewhat unexpected, and it will seem like I'm doing it just to be mean to you personally. In fact, you can often tell who is going to live and die in one my novels based on how nice un-screwed up they are. Only the flawed get to live.
  2. On the subject of flaws, I'd like to think that none of my characters are sickeningly perfect. I have a really hard time reading books where the characters never make a bad decision or do something selfish. If someone is 100% perfect all the time, they just look like a victim when inevitable plot happens to them.
  3. There will probably be some horrific description of either an injury or a rotting corpse.
  4. References to Broadway musicals. I'm a giant fan of musicals and I love sneaking little nods to them into my writing. If I can't make the characters do it in character, I sneak it into a chapter title. For example, in book four of Blood Ties (All Soul's Night, available June of 2008 plugity plug), there's a chapter called "Ain't No Party" because it was a good description for the chapter and also it's a song from Dreamgirls and Dreamgirls is the bestest.
  5. Colloquial grammar. Even if I'm writing in third POV, I like to write the narrative the way the person would talk. If that means writing improper grammar now and then, I'm willing to do it.
  6. Cussing. I have the vocabulary of a sailor who grew up in Newark, so my books are peppered with obscenities. My grandfather gives me lectures about the profanity in my books (I notice it hasn't stopped him reading them), but where the hell did he think I learned to talk that way?
  7. The main character is an orphan, or has a poor relationship with his or her parents. This is mainly for convenience on my part, so I don't have to figure out a character's relationship with his or her parents. Sometimes this backfires; I figured making Dr. Carrie Ames an orphan would explain why she's so needy and yet emotionally distant with people. As it turns out, it wasn't her parents' death, but how they were when they were alive, that made her that way. Carrie's father has all but bludgeoned his way into the books.
  8. Sex. I don't think I'll ever write a book that doesn't have sex in it. Not because I'm a horn dog, but I think it's where people are most vulnerable. It's also a good way for characters to screw up their lives.
  9. Religion. I like to know what my characters believe, because it makes them easier for me to write. Since I don't like to just write random stuff that isn't going to make me money (except fanfic, but that's addiction, not a hobby), it ends up in the books.
  10. No dialect. Even though characters in my books might have accents, I'll never write them out. I don't think I could have taken Nathan seriously up to this point if he sounded like Hagrid on the page. You'll probably never, ever see a dialect in on of my books.

Bonus #11: Myself. I think I'll always make a cameo appearance in some of my characters. Sure, they all get a little something from me, I think, but it doesn't take a genius to know that I am a different person than my characters. However, there is always one character in each project that is more like me than any of the others. This is because I'm vain and I need to be involved.

If anyone else does this, please leave me a link! I have very much liked reading these!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

God is trying to kill my car.

Now, I'm not a big believer in signs. Okay, I am, but not when they apply to me. But seriously, I think God is trying to tell me to stop driving my Neon.

First of all, let me just say, I *heart* my Dodge Neon. I *heart* all Dodge Neons. The day they stopped producing them, I think I cried a little bit. I drove this car all over the place, put over 140k miles on it, and it never complained. There was an incident last year when a hose to the transmission blew and I got stranded on a lonely country back road, but besides that, it has never betrayed me.

So why would the Lord take out some personal vendetta against my beautiful car (affectionately nicknamed the S.S. Filthy Whore)?

Timeline:

  • Thanksgiving Day, 2007: A deer wanders into the darkened country lane we are traveling down. I swerve to avoid it but do not achieve my objective, smearing the deer all over the side of the vehicle, resulting in a huge, deer shaped dent, an ill-fitting hubcap full of bloody fur and a missing passenger side mirror.
  • Just Before Christmas, 2007: Something goes horribly wrong with my alternator. Something that the guys at the shop share stories about, because none of them have ever seen a coil fry and shoot out sparks like a Fourth of July fireworks spectacular the way mine does. Also, they have no idea why it has done this, because it is less than a year old. Before they send it home, they repair the transmission hose, which has begun to loosen up again.
  • Today, 2007: On the one day between insurance policies, my husband hydroplanes and slams into the back of a vehicle making a left-hand turn while on his way to take our son to school. The driver's side door slips on the frame, making it impossible to open. The hood crumples and the front lights are blown out like they'd just been used to illuminate the climactic chord in a circa-1989 hair-metal music video or the final, triumphant home run of a baseball movie.


No problems for years. YEARS. I've been driving this car since August of 2001 and have had nothing at all happen. The check engine light has never even come on. And now, this string of bad and expensive happenings. This leads me to conclude that either:


  1. God is trying to kill me. This seems supported by the malicious act of his woodland henchman jumping gleefully to his death in a suicide attack on my car, but is unsupported by the lack of my presence at the scene of the most recent accident and the non-lethal alternator pyrotechnics display.
  2. God is trying to kill my car. The events are certainly things that could have happened without any supernatural help, but the chronological proximity of each incident to the next suggest otherworldly forces are at work.
  3. I accidentally kissed Lindsey Lohan without my knowledge and got her bad luck, a la that stupid movie of hers I can't believe I watched all the way through. The main flaw in this theory is that I think I would have had some kind of cold sore outbreak at this point if this were really the culprit.
  4. All the forces in the universe are trying to tell me that it is time to buy a grown-up car. Perhaps one that doesn't look like a toy and isn't covered with stickers that say things like "My other ride is your mom" and "Kiss me, I'm a pirate". This action may also have the added benefit of reducing the steely glares of the other moms at Jr.'s school.


I have to give this some serious thought. Maybe I stumbled onto an indian burial ground or something. Maybe there used to be a cemetery under my driveway and they didn't move the bodies, they only moved the stones. I don't have a clue. In any case, I have this sinking feeling that I will be suffering terminal lightness of wallet pretty soon.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A Plant Inspiried New Year's Resolution

First of all, this is all Lori from Plainwell's fault. See, she told me a lovely story about Robert Plant in the comments section of my "Fourteen Men Over Fifty" post. She says:

"i met robert plant when he came to wings stadium in the 80's. he was lying shirtless in blue jeans on the grass hill behind the stadium. he was so nice and oh so golden godlike"


My New Year's Resolution this year is to find the hill Lori spaketh of and roll around on it like a cat trying to get its hair all over my nice clean laundry because, hey, I don't have anything better to do than lint roll seventeen Hot Topic t-shirts IT'S NOT LIKE I HAVE A JOB OR ANYTHING!

Okay, where was I going with this? Ah, yes. My New Year's Resolution is to find this hill. I may take some grass clippings from it and preserve them carefully. I may try to do some kind of mythological spell to create a golem in his image, I might not. Let's not condemn me until I think this through and consult some Rabbis, okay?

My other New Years Resolutions are, in descending order of importance, excluding my Circa-1980-Robert-Plant-Golem one are:

1. Finish "Heavenly Sword" for the PS3, even if the final boss battle is so frustrating and boring that I want to lob the wireless controller through my tv.

2. Do some more VS. battles for my blog.

3. Stop being mean to my neighbor's dog. It's not its fault it keeps crapping in my yard. It's its owner's fault.

4. Drive away neighbors, convince Eric Estrada to move in next door.

5. Launch new reality show, "I Live Next Door To Eric Estrada".

That's my resolve, people. That tests the limits of my resolve, right there. What are your resolutions, if any?