Disney Dads: You’re Doing it Wrong

The baby invasion is upon us!  I don’t know if all that summer lovin’ (had me a blast) is coming around full-circle-of-life, but there’s more crowning around here than a Disney marathon.  Don’t look at me, I’ve already got a full litter and not looking to add any more.  But many of my friends are contributing to the gene pool and several for the first time.  I may not be father of the year, but the best advice I can give for raising your little prince or princess is to take a looooong look at those Disney classics you grew up with: and learn from their mistakes.

I DID IT ALL FOR THE NOOKIE

grimmIf you’re up at the local honky-tonk bar with a freshly polished pair of beer goggles to browse potentials to replace the lost mother of your child, you’re either a bad country song stereotype or one of the original Disney princess dads.  That’s right, both Snow White and Cinderella suffered at the hands of their father’s libido.  Wait.   That sounds bad.  What I’m saying is that Snow White’s dad got himself the fairest in the land, but that beauty was only skin deep.  Turns out she shared the same fetish as a certain big bad wolf we all know and love, dressing up in old ladies clothing and looking to drop the younger competition.

As for Cinderella, the poor bastard looked to combine families.  But not being so kind as to leave a kingdom when he croaked, the little Cinder chick got picked up as cheap labor.  There’s a lesson to be learned from this, guys.  Put your kids in front of your junk.  I mean primal needs.  You know what, just keep the two subjects in separate paragraphs altogether.  Nothing good can come of this.

IT’S NOT OVER-REACTING IF YOU’RE THE KING

KingStephenThank the stars above that good ol’ Maleficent didn’t finish her sentence with ‘prick’ before the king up and announced that every last spinning wheel in the land would be destroyed.  There would be a number of unhappy men in that kingdom.  But to destroy every spinning wheel, think of the number of jobs he cost his people?  Not to mention the cost of having to import pre-spun thread.  And what about those poor bastards who make/sell/repair spinning wheels?  How will they tend to THEIR daughters who are doomed to poke, prick, and prod themselves?  Doesn’t seem to matter when you’re the king.  Don’t get me wrong, being a dad and being rational aren’t always on the same plane of existence, but it doesn’t excuse being a dick to everybody else.  Just think of the example you’re setting.

AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT

Seven daughters.  That’s a lot of daughters. king-triton-photos That’s a lot of daughters to NOT have contact with.  Considering every time we see the man, he’s sitting on the throne looking bored, you’d think he’d make the effort to get to know his daughters, have open communication.  Nope, he doesn’t even do his own snooping.  He hires a Jamaican musician to tag along and look into his daughter’s suspicious activity – that he only learns about through word of mouth.

I can only rag on his faulty relationships so much, because he also redeems himself by filling in his daughters contract.  This ultimately gives the kingdom and his all-powerful trident to a bloated evil witch, but it’s done with the best interests of his daughter in mind.  No.  Really.

CRAZY OLD MAURICE – Hands his only beloved daughter over to a monstrous beast to live as a prisoner in his stead after being caught trespassing.

SULTAN – Said it best: “Her mother wasn’t nearly so picky.”

CHIEF POWHATAN – “Kill the white devil” – You’re doing it right.

CONCEAL IT – JUST KEEP IT THE HELL AWAY FROM ME

Most people look at me like I have two heads when I tell them flat out I hate Frozen.  I could go on for hours about everything that’s wrong with the film, but that’s just nit-picking around the much bigger problem.  If you ever want to feel like a wonderful dad, compare yourself to Elsa and Anna’s father:

1. Introduce your character with an accusation.  That’s right, come out swinging at the small white-haired child with “What have you done?” and “This has to stop.”  But don’t worry kids!  He knows where to go!  As he dashes off to the library.

2. Confirm with the mystical creature that you’ll take care of the problem.  But don’t get his advice on your brilliant plan of holing yourself and your entire family inside of a castle.  Nothing wrong with that.

3. Your special little snow flake is growing tumblr_mzoud1vFaN1tn3cfoo1_500up!  She has big feelings that can’t be contained!  Buy her gloves.  YOU ARE WIN!

4. DIE – Bet you didn’t see that coming, huh?  As you and her mother serve as the girl’s only confidants in this domestic prison you’ve created, the best gift you can give her is that of freedom.  Or absolute loneliness.  Whatever.  You’ve already gone and isolated two siblings from each other.  At least you left them a castle, kingdom, and irreversible social stigma.

It’s not that the king doesn’t care about his family.  It’s obvious he does.  But my rubber DUMBASS stamp will single you out over the bumbling Sultan any day of the week.  As a parent of a child with autism, yeah, we don’t necessarily celebrate her differences, but we also don’t leave her at home or with a sitter while we take our NORMAL children out of the house.  Be they special needs, physically handicapped, super genius, super tall, super fat, super gay, super WHY, or belong in Professor Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, all children should be loved for the unique individuals that they are and NEVER led to believe that their differences are anything to be ashamed of.

SO WHERE ARE THE OTHERS?

As for Lord Fergus, Mulan’s dad, Tiana’s dad, I’ve got no real beef because they didn’t serve much of a purpose.  Sure you can hold arranged marriage over Fergus’s crippled ass, but let’s face it.  He wasn’t the one wearing the pants in that house and everybody knows it.

In regards to the King of Corona, Rapunzel’s old man, well I don’t have anything negative to say.  He might have been a wonderful father, but all I know is that every year on his birthday he had his kingdom light a crap-load of floating lanterns in hopes ofKingCoronaSadface guiding his missing daughter home.  I don’t tear up at most Hallmark commercials, but I still gotta wipe away the wet every time I see his face of hopeless sadness on his daughter’s birthday.

But dude, tighten security.  Stolen babies, pilfered crowns, and prison breaks… when your best soldier is a horse, you got issues my friend.

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Interview with C.S. Szarek – Author of the Tartan MP3 Player

chrissy 007 I don’t do many interviews, it’s not that sorta site, but today I’m honored to have the lovely and talented C.S. Szarek on my blog talking about her latest piece, a highlander time-traveling novella entitled the Tartan MP3 Player.  Seriously, this girl finishes books faster than I finish chapters.

First I want to say, thanks so much for subjecting yourself to my blog of awesome! We’ve actually known each other for a few years now, though I think it was at least a year before you let me see anything you wrote. But for everybody else, why don’t you tell us some of the intimate details of your personal life that don’t involve writing. Examples of this would be a maniacal obsession with Yahtzee or hoarding binders of 80s sitcom trading cards.

Okay, you made me laugh as you often do. Not a shocker there. I am actually pretty boring, to tell you the truth. I’ m a workaholic, I have two jobs in addition to writing. I work with kids at both, being the Juvenile Case Manager for two city courts locally and also I work at a Shelter for Teens. I very much enjoy both, and I feel like the passion for them and kids in trouble is as great as my passion for writing. I also love to read as much as I love to write. There are so many awesome authors out there, yourself included. I love to scrapbook, but I am behind because of the writing. I watch WAY too much TV, too.

I’ve been familiar with your writing for a while and I have to say that there were quite a few things that surprised me. Not the word ‘cock’, I totally saw that coming. But going into the book, I was fully aware that it was a novella and a part of a trilogy. Knowing that you love a full story with detailed characters and rich worlds, what inspired you to restrict yourself to such a sparse word-count, and then commit to it two more times?

So I can write them FAST! LOL. Originally this piece was supposed to be a 15k story and for anthology. As I kept going, I had too much story. But I really love it, and I don’t feel it was rushed. The world unfolded before my eyes, as well as the characters for the next two books. While I can’t say I won’t write in this world again, this first set is definitely going to be completed in three. Three relatively short reads, but they’re still satisfying. If another character stands up and demands a story from this world, I will address it then. (No, that is not a dare, dear characters)

HighlandSecrets1_SpreadFor WEB

Right out the gate, I was pretty excited about this read. I’ve got a soft-spot for historical fiction, especially when it’s told in such a way to throw science to the wind and just have fun with ghosts, goblins, magic and legends. Even more so when I saw it would be based in Scotland, a premier fantasy destination of my own. So what drew you to this area, and more specifically, this time period to play around with?

I am addicted to historical romance. I have been for the last few years, especially Scottish Highlander novels. I am fascinated that while England became “civilized” much quicker than its neighboring country, the Clans of the Highlands (especially in the Hebrides) stayed to themselves, and lived, well, tribally, much longer than most of Europe. They were strong, and tall, and in my mind, super hot. LOL. Even if reality has more violence and color, I’m still fascinated with this history. They were settled by the Vikings, and that’s even cooler.

The clan in this book, The MacLeods actually trace their history to the Fae. There are three different legends that date back to the 9th or 10th century and one of which is that the Laird married a Fae Princess, so I played on that.

They still have what the call a Faery Flag and there is a legend that it came with three wishes. Cool stuff when magic is so acceptable.

As for the time period, I don’t know how it happened. The year kinda popped into my head and I went with it, and made sure my research centered on 17th century. I took some liberties, as all authors do.

From the moment that one of the two protagonists, Claire, arrives naked on the beach, it becomes pretty obvious that this is going to either be yet another American Pie comedy flop, or a straight-up lust story. Imagine my relief when I realized it was the latter. What I found unique was that you drifted between the heads of the two main characters. While I couldn’t argue much with Duncan’s pain and strife of self-restriction to keep from stabbing everything he sees, and killing people with a sword, what does Claire, the woman from the future with a life and family, see in Duncan aside from the obvious muscular stature?

Um. He’s hot. Oh, wait. That’s muscular stature, isn’t it? I think she sees that he cares for his family above all else and he’s a good man. She falls for him quickly, as this is a novella, and she’s drawn to him from the start, all looks aside. They have immediate chemistry, looks aside. I’m sure there’s also that dreamy factor that he can protect her. All girls tend to swoon over that kinda thing.

As a guy, I’m going to go ahead and say ‘Thank you’ from myself and all potential male readers for not going into details of length, girth, taste and aroma of Duncan’s claymore. You did, however, mention a lot of discomfort and hardness of the poor man while parading around the castle in a kilt. So I’ve gotta know, what kind of research went into studying up on attire, furnishings, and the like for the time period. What interesting things did you come across that never went into the book? Or are you saving any of it for future installments?

I did some research on Gaelic, since I use a few words. I also did garment research, because I already knew Scots didn’t always wear kilts, and I wanted to be accurate, despite the fantasy twist in this story—this series. I also had to do some geographical and clan research. I have been reading these types of books, plus straight historical for years, so a lot of the rest fell into place. One thing I didn’t pull back was the phrase “All right.” They didn’t really use it then, and I have it in there. Oh well. My readers are from the 21st century, not the 17th. I might get zonked in a review from a hard-nose historical reader for a thing or two, but I still think I did a good job with this story.

Now I don’t want to give too much away for those who haven’t read the story yet, but there is a certain amount of magic that appears in the story. Most of this is derived from a specific magic creature, but one that has appeared in many different styles and iterations over the years. What were your inspirations for these creatures and how did you alter the style, if at all, to make them your own?

Nothing conscious, actually. I wrote the story, the characters, and the lore as the words flowed. Not a lot of planning on my part, because I don’t plot. If what comes out works, I leave it. LOL.

Music is a BIG part of my writing process and I’m constantly scouring the indie scene for the next new sound to help fuel my fingers. Going with the theme of the Tartan MP3 Player, what were some of the artists or styles you listened to while writing?

Rock and Alternative. Like Claire, lol. But she likes Heavy Metal a bit more than me.

What song was she listening to when she first arrived on the beach? (if it was a specific song)

Indestructible by Disturbed.

I don’t think romance is a genre anybody just up and decides to write without a bit of reading first. Who are some of the romance artists you admire? How have they influenced your craft?

Oh, gosh. There are too many. Here are some of my faves. JR Ward, Pamela Palmer, Monica McCarty, Robin D. Owens, Julie Garwood, Julia Quinn. And of course, the great great great Anne McCaffrey. But honestly, these ladies are a drop in the bucket. There are so many awesome authors out there, including friends of ours (and you, though you don’t write romance). If you know anything about the genre, you’ll know even the ones I listed are vastly different from each other. LOL! If it’s a good book, I’ll read it, I don’t discriminate.

As for influence, nothing conscious except when I read a great story I want to be a better writer.

Most covers in this genre involve a sweat-soaked masculine frame that may or may not have a face/name/doesitevenmatter. The Tartan MP3 Player actually focused on Claire’s character. Who did your cover and what led to the final design?

When I thought of this book, I knew Claire would be on the cover. Alone. I don’t know why, because I am not opposed to have a hot boy on a cover, but contrary to what is out there, I don’t like half-naked (or worse) covers. While I DO have sex in all my books (so far anyways) I don’t like to see it on the cover. I don’t write smut, and I don’t want people to think that.

So, for me, it’s “Naked IN the book, not ON the book!”

This is actually a custom cover, and I think it’s gorgeous. The FABULOUS Lindee Robinson (FB fanpage: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=145122465514273) who was referred to me by a friend did this cover for me. She’s in Michigan, and I picked the beautiful model, Michele LaMontagne to depict Claire.

Coolest part is the plaid she’s wrapped in belongs to me. I sent it there so they could use it. It’s also on the 2nd cover (which is done, but is still a secret)

What can we expect from the next installment in the series?

Book Two is Janet and Xander’s story. Here’s the blurb:

She’s always been a dutiful daughter…

Janet MacLeod has spent the last ten years dedicated to her clan, acting as the Lady of the castle—at the cost of her own happiness.

 

She aches every time she looks at her brothers, both happy with their wives, and wants nothing more than a love of her own.

 

He’s a broken soldier…

 

Xander, a former Fae Warrior, sacrificed his wings and magic to live in the Human Realm and became a traitor to his people.

 

When he finds Janet forlorn on the beach, Xander gives her a ring he’s had since childhood, not realizing it’ll reveal her as his fated mate.

 

The ring’s magic activates the Faery Stones, and Janet is sucked into the Fae Realm. Her life is in immediate danger, for the Fae sense—and seek to destroy—any human who dares step into their world.

 

Xander is the only one who can retrieve her, but he too, wears a target.

 

Can he rescue his soul-mate and return with her to the Human Realm or will temptation of great magic and the rebirth of his wings force him to abandon their destiny?

When will we be seeing #2? The book, not the bathroom code.

The end of May!

And finally, where can readers pick up a copy of the Tartan MP3 Player?

ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-thetartanmp3player-1439166-141.html

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tartan-Player-Highland-Secrets-Book-ebook/dp/B00IKCHCT2/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1394353490&sr=8-4&keywords=C.A.+Szarek

Amazon CA: http://www.amazon.ca/Tartan-Player-Highland-Secrets-Book-ebook/dp/B00IKCHCT2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1394353564&sr=8-1&keywords=C.A.+Szarek

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Tartan-Player-Highland-Secrets-Book-ebook/dp/B00IKCHCT2/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1394353306&sr=8-5&keywords=c.a.+szarek

KOBO: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/the-tartan-mp3-player

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/411992

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Literary Terms that Irritate Me

As if you cared…

letters_dictionary_dots_226167_lBeing a former English teacher, I believe it is my dog-given right to bitch about literary terms.  Not because I was traumatized by some crotchety old tool with a slicked-back receding hairline, perpetually slipping eyewear, and elbow pads on his jacket, but because I had to teach and reteach the same freaking subject over and over again to a progressively denser crop of students each year.  That said, let’s start with the obvious:

ONOMATOPOEIA

I mean COME ON!  I can’t get these kids to spell “you’re” correctly as their linguistic skills have been bastardized by auto-incorrect and the glorious societies of Tweetland and Textland.  Not only is it somehow ‘dope’ to horrifically misspell words, a person is now whatever the current slang is of ‘square’ to call people out on their primitive spelling abilities.  So this one should be a no-brainer.  That’s not even the worst part.  Onomatopoeia lives in the cartoon land of sound words.  Now lets try to break it down into root words with some prefixes and suffixes.  Oh right.  We can’t.  Because the word isn’t latin-based.  It’s utter nonsense of some sadistic bastard who created it for the soul purpose of demoralizing English teachers of the future.

Hey you!  Long-dead guy who subjected us to this garbage.  If you were here right now I’d boof you in the squish-ing head with my maternal plunk-ing stick of prbbbtttt.

OXYMORON

While not the top culprit, this is one of those words that sits on the tip of your tongue, but can’t reasonably come to mind and you find yourself spitting out examples of ‘jumbo shrimp’ ‘military intelligence’ and ‘Microsoft Works’.  The reason for this is pretty simple.  The word, Oxymoron, is NOT an oxymoron – it’s a stereotype.  Even more terrifying is a world in which Oxymoron truly IS an oxymoron.  What if the massive ogres of society weren’t viewed as slow and stupid.  What if they were intellectual forces to be reckoned with?  Now we’re looking at our evolutionary superiors.  Looks. Brains. Mass.  Yup, the future goliaths of progressive thought will one day end us all and leave us lesser humans in the dark, underground, hand-carved caverns of our own shame.

PALINDROME

I hate that this word made the list.  It was my second choice in naming my first son.  Because seriously, it’s a badass word.  If I could create a hallucinogenic drug that tasted like words, I’d want it to taste like Palindrome.  But the biggest disappointment here, and what keeps it from the ultimate awesome… and why my son is named Rickshaw, is that it’s not a palindrome.  One of the greatest literary acheivements and one of the world’s coolest sounding words do not, in fact, match up.  Of course.. it just doesn’t sound as badass if it were Palinnilap.  It sounds like I’m sexually harassing the former governor of Alaska.

Long live racecar evil.

ANECDOTE

The absolute worst offender of them all.  Not just because it sounds suspiciously close to ‘antidote’, which is the soul purpose of the anecdote in the dreaded ‘Character Interview’ – the unholy bastard of all poor writing advice.  But I digress.  I’m probably guiltier than most in over-using this seemingly splendid literary device.  My hatred of this term started a few years back.  I’d been working a late shift and left the warehouse a little worse for wear.  Regardless, my natural inclination to rush straight home, douse myself in a cold shower and toss back a warm one was side-swiped by a golden sign promising my single favorite geometrically riddled breakfast pastrywaffles_breakfast_cooking_795972_h.  No sooner had I just finished the timeless riddle of past participles describing shredded potatoes than a little shrimp of a thing sauntered onto the barstool next to me. She flashed me a sexy smile that would put most jack-o-lanterns to shame.  Aaaand the rest really isn’t that important, only to say that you should avoid safety words that sound like ‘petticoat’ and ‘sweaty goat’ through a ball gag.  Come to think of it, maybe it’s not so bad after all.

Tune in on Saturday when I’ll have the awesome C.S. Szarek talking about Highlander Claymores and digital music.

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Narrator Search and Talky Stuff

Of all the people I’ve ever spoken to, I’ve yet to meet a single one who hears a recording of their own voice and exclaims, “That’s what I sound like?  Damn I have a sexy voice!  I should be on Broadway!”  I’m sure they exist out there somewhere in the mystical Land of Perpetual Awesome, but for now, stay away from me.  I secretly despise you. (Whoops!  Cat’s outta the bag!)

I had a unique opportunity last weekend to sit down with fellow author and good friend of mine, Scot C Morgan, and have an interview on his new podcast show, Be An Author Now.  We’d discussed a few options of how to go about recording it, but I’m more of a face to face kinda guy.  Until I met my wife, I couldn’t stand talking on the phone to anybody for more than 2 minutes.  After a six hour conversation following our first date, I knew she was the one for me.  But that rule still only holds true for her.  (I get the shakes after about 10 minutes.)

Scot was nice enough to accommodate me and we met up at The Book Carriage and Coffee Shop for a nice cup of coffee and quiet-ish setting.  It certainly made the process much simpler, just getting to chill out and (almost) forget that everything’s being recorded for distribution across the internet.  I got to listen to it a couple of days later, scrutinized it with a magnifying glass, and sunk into a deep depression that only baby giggles could save me from.  So honestly, it was a short-lived depression.

TowersNewCoverIt did help me come to a realization.  Though I would love to narrate my own audiobooks, I just don’t have the voice I want for Heath Fallows, the main protagonist of the World Between series.  So after a lot of consideration, I’m holding open auditions via Amazon’s ACX program.  The ideal voice is a caucasion male in twenties or thirties with a strong wit and the ability to deadpan humor.  If this is you or somebody you know, I urge you to click the cover.  It’ll link you to the proper site.  Depending on the number/quality of auditions I receive, I’ll keep it up through the month of April and possibly into May.  If not, we’ll see what the future holds!  The best part of this is that it also promises a healthy relationship if everything works out.  The World Between won’t be ending anytime soon.

For more information on Scot C. Morgan, you can check out his site at ScotCMorgan.com or check out his podcast at BeAnAuthorNow.com where he’s actively searching for industry people and authors to interview.

Give a listen to my interview here.

Here’s a little glimpse into his most recent novel – Adamar.

AdamarCover417x630Amazon

Kobo

iTunes

Barnes and Nobles

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Audible

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The Joys (and Dangers) of a Writing Round Robin

I won’t lie, joining the Greater Fort Worth Writers group is the third best decision I made in my writing career. Not only did I make a bunch of new friends with similar interests, I now have a bottomless well of inspiration, challenges, and epic ass-kicking that I can dip into, constantly keeping me on my toes as a writer.

medium_8674691026After my first year, we started a new event with the group, the Round Robin. Each event starts with a single writer selecting a genre and throwing down a thousand or so words to start a story. The next person in line then gets to add their own segment to the story, further developing the characters and world.

Sound simple enough? It really is…

Unless you don’t want it to suck.

The challenge in this lies in so much more than just writing a thousand words. The challenge is tackling somebody else’s world, characters, plot line, and (often) genre.

medium_5700988336My first go at this had me filling in the meaty mid-section of a light-hearted romance titled “A Delicious Dalliance.” My kryptonite. But in the end, a perfect opportunity to work in a genre/subject matter I would otherwise have never ventured towards it. Might have even enjoyed myself! (but don’t tell the GFWWers)

Next gomedium_2865781749 ’round, they had me start the Round Robin. I threw a handful of characters in an apocalyptic scenario of mother nature’s ultimate menstruation (later renamed “The Ultima Storm”). It was pretty awesome getting to sit back and watch all of my peers unfold an amazing story filled with complications I would never have thought to include; each writer setting up a new catastrophe for the next.

Out latest installment, a Young Adult Dystopian piece titled “Red” is currently in progress and the challenges continue.  Not only must we as writers progress the story, but set challenges and obstacles for the next writer in the line.  Or in my case, throw a giant fork in the road of a seemingly one-sided story of good vs. evil.  The fifth installment was just added, but go ahead and take a look from the beginning, you’ll thank me later.medium_4753549048

So the moral of the story – get a group.  Not just any group, find a good collection of authors that will challenge you to change your wardrobe, look at your story from the villains perspective, and have some laughs along the way.

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The Naming Convention

An interesting day.  Woken up by my four year old by having her tug my head off the pillow, as she does every weekend, while her two year old sister crawled sweetly into bed on her mother’s side and proceeded to watch her sleep, as she does every weekend.  But a funny thing happened halfway through the day.  My eight year old finally got her wish, even though her parents made her earn it, and brought home a new cat.

Ever since her mother and I finally agreed, she’s been hounding us about the damned thing relentlessly for several weeks.  At breakfast.  After school.  During dinner.  After softball practice.  Before bed.  And three times after she’s been tucked in and randomly needs to get out for (insert reason here) as she’s been doing since she was old enough to open her bedroom door.  And now the day finally came.

medium_4958096653The cat is a four-year old orange cat who looks IDENTICAL to Morris of Nine Lives cat food fame.  He was home with us for a matter of minutes before the new question, the one that would haunt our ears every half-hour for the next few days, would first be uttered from those lips.  “What should we name him?”

“Weasley,” my wife smirked.

“Crookshanks,” I responded.

“No.  I don’t like those,” my daughter refused.  A few moments passed.  “So what should we name him?”

Shanks, as I’ve taken to calling the little orange furball, reminded me of an important lesson: names have meaning.  In the case of the household, Shanks is a name I can live with.  It’s endeared me to the cat more than ‘Friskies’ or ‘Ratchet’ or ‘Cutie’ or any of the other names my daughter will come up with.

The first book I wrote followed the exploits of ‘Jeff’.  It was about all I knew about the character.  His name was Jeff, and he was an appliance salesman at Best Buy.  Just an average Joe in an extraordinary situation.  The problem wasn’t the story or the worlds.  The problem was ‘Jeff’.  It was a meaningless name on a meaningless protagonist where I was trying to let the world tell the story.  It doesn’t work that way.  And it doesn’t stop at the protagonist either.Manhattan, New York City September 12, 2011

Even Carl Sagan, the overweight man with horrible body acne that serves hotdogs on the corner of 3rd and Vine, has a name fitted specifically to the image the writer had in mind.  The body, the facial hair, the sway and the mannerisms are all linked to one simple word.

A rose by any other name might smell as sweet, but who would want to lean in for a sniff if it was called a shitbloom?

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The Worst Words in Language

A couple weeks ago, my eight year old came home all excited because she and some friends had created a Kitty Club. Being a crazy cat lady in training, it gave her the opportunity to discuss cats, their breeds, and share funny feline stories with peers with common interests. Developmental years are hard because we’re all trying to find a sense of belonging while discovering our likes and desires, so I didn’t stop to think about any ramifications.

By the end of the week, the group had grown and somebody had the BRILLIANT idea to create a test necessary for membership into the club. I stopped my daughter right there and let her know that I disapproved of this idea. This kind of exclusion can easily hurt feelings and create unnecessary animosity between friends. She was upset, but decided to take matters into her own hands by whispering the answers to potential members before they were tested.

Regardless, several members were kicked out for being too loud. Hard feelings were created. And then a new club was formed: the Puppy Club. Within a day, the two groups were at odds, getting into arguments and picking fights. By the end of the week, my daughter had a write-up for pushing another girl. I let her know about my disappointment and vowed to put a stop to it.

Later that day, I logged into Facebook for my daily eye-roll. Sure enough, my feed was filled with Gay Marriage (for and against), Women Equality, Gun Laws, Planned Parenthood, Pussy Ass Liberals and Murder Happy Conservatives. It’s enough to make anybody’s head spin.

The worst words in language are labels. It’s pretty obvious that I could drop F-bombs in public and get dirty looks, but the second I label myself or anybody else, it’s all out war. Open up a history book and find it spray-painted like vulgar graffiti.
This is my religion.
This is my heritage.
This is my language.
This is my gender.
These are my beliefs and all others can bask in the wrongness of being wrong, evil, damned, etc.

The terrifying part is that we have desensitized ourselves to each other through these labels. I know plenty of conservatives who don’t own guns. I know liberals who don’t collect welfare benefits. I know strong women. I know sensitive men. And for some reason, I’ve NEVER met a homosexual who runs around trying to jackhammer the virtues of straight men while prancing around in a rainbow-colored track-suit.

Though, to be fair, if my love for my wife was constantly under attack and our relationship deemed “unholy”, you can bet your sweet fanny I’d be pushing back in the most offensive, flamboyant manner conceivable. 

Somewhere we forgot that we’re attacking other people with our words. Because it’s not people, it’s LABELS. It’s safe, because we can hide behind our own caged clubs and sling poo at the others. We can’t see the eyes of the people we hurt. We don’t even know their names.

So my question to you is this:  Where do we draw the line?  Can we as humans with an insatiable need to be loved and accepted shun the comfort and companionship offered us by these vices?  Or are they false prophets ultimately dragging us closer to our downfall by feeding hate and animosity instead of celebrating differences?

It’s all a lot to take in. Too much thought for me. I think I might have snapped a bit because, next thing I knew, I was in the backyard with an axe, chopping down a pear tree and planting apple seeds in it’s stead…

Because f*ck pears.

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