Friday, June 26, 2009

Transformers - More than Meets the Eye

I was never allowed to be an Autobot.

Transformers first appeared when my youngest son was around 4. He took to it like them proverbial duck to water. Them and the Gobots. But the Gobots never quite achieved the super star status as did the Transformers.

It all begins with the name. The heroes, Optimus Prime or Leader-1? Which has the better name? That also goes for the evil machines – Megatron or Cy-Kill? Need I even ask?

The Gobots had boring henchmen like Cop-Tur and Turbo and Tank. While the Transformers had (and still apparently have according to the $55 million opening day box office take) Bumblebee, Ironhide, Bluestreak and Sunstreaker if you are an Autobot. If you lean more toward the dark side you’re a Decepticon such as Star Scream, Galvatron, Shockwave and Buzzsaw. C’mon. You know these guys are way cooler just by what they are called.

It was a good thing I was into sci-fi and trucks from having three boys because these things became a staple in my house for a long time when they first were introduced by Hasbro.

Which brings me to why I loved seeing the Transformers movies. It certainly wasn’t the plots. There were none to speak of. The storylines jumped all around, some character lines weren’t tied up and finalized and mostly, things blew up and there was a lot of noise; for over two and a half hours.

And while Shia is not unpleasant to look at for that length of time, he’s no Hugh Jackman as Wolverine or Chris Pine as the current Captain Kirk.

But I digress.

In truth, I loved seeing the movies because they remind me of a time long ago when my son was small, innocent of what lay ahead for him and totally and unconditionally my best friend. We played Transformers in blanket-made caves on his bed, in kitchen pot hide-aways in the living room and in the alien-plant terrain of the backyard flower garden. We regularly blew up an awful lot of Tupperware and foiled the latest sinister plot hatched by the evil Decepticons. On Saturday mornings we’d watch the Transformers cartoon over cheerios and end the day with a book about the heroic Optimus Prime.

Back then I was never allowed to be an Autobot because my son was destined to save the world.

He’s only 26. Maybe he still is.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Celebrating 85 years of excellence

Dad's turning 85 this year.

So to celebrate, we book the Spirit of New Jersey cruise around Manhattan and got what's left of the family together. We lost two very important members last year; my youngest sister and my brother-in-law. My sister to cancer and my BIL to a brain aneurysm, Both are tough to deal with, and both became angels way before their time.

But Dad's still here and that's a good thing.

We began with a limo ride for 15 of us. This may sound weird, but a stretch Hummer is not very comfortable. Who knew the legroom was marginal and most of the inside would be taken up by a bar?

But we got there and met the rest of the family and friends. After we boarded my greatest hope was that none of my family fall or get pushed overboard. Both were a distinct possibility. (I found out later that there was also a pool by the cousins to see how long it would take for my youngest son to piss me off. Well no one did that day so dad got the money).

The food was good, the cruise was wonderful marked by some very important moments.

When we sailed passed the Statue of Liberty, God Bless America began to play and most of the people around us started to cry, me included. It was very moving going by the Lady and hearing that song. For me it was partly because I come from a very patriotic family; we tend to bleed red, white and blue, and partly because after 9-1-1, every Sunday in church for a year, we ended the service by singing God Bless America.

Then the hosts announced dad's birthday, gave him a crown and a dozen roses. He looked a little like Miss America in drag, but the people on the ship gave him a standing ovation. Okay, so I cried again. I'm a wuss. I admit it.

But the best thing about the day was watching the family interact. Cousins pushing cousin, aunt and uncles yelling at them, everyone kissing everyone, story telling, one upsmanship and a lot of "remember whens." It got me thinking - It doesn't get any better than that!!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Life gets really sucky sometimes

The week started off bad and got worse.

I had to buy my dad a car. He's 85, but more like 65. He and my stepmom are very active and cannot be without wheels. So I sucked it up and, with my sister, bought him a car.

Then the next day, he got chest pains and had to go to the hospital. He's fine. Turns out his chest pains were due to three straights days of Sloppy Joes for dinner and not something medical. Wonder if he knows about fish.

Then I had a huge fight with #1 son who came out here from Arizona to go to Dad's 85th birthday party which we are having on Sunday. I thought he should have done one thing; he thought he should have done something else. So then I had to apologize to him because I got worried about dad and didn't want my last conversation with my son to be yelling. We love each other rather loudly sometimes.

Then it rained and the river came up and I was afraid we were going to get flooded again, so I told my husband I wanted to move and we fought via telephone off and on until the rain stopped and I finally read that the Flash Flood Warning was for low lying areas and not river basins which were not expected to be affected. I guess I'll have to actually make dinner tonight.

Then my boss annouced she was going to retire and that our office was getting combined with another so I have no chance of getting her job because her job is being eliminated as a cost saving measure once she goes. Hell, I've been waiting for that job for 18 years.

Now what?

I still have a dad who is smiling because he has a new car, my son and I have made up, my house is dry, my husband is doing the dishes and I still have a job. I guess that's what.

Ok, never mind. I guess the week is ending up OK after all.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


When I first started using the computer to write, both video games and computers were in their infancy. Okay, maybe they were toddlers, but still nothing like today. We had Pong and we had Word Star or a basic word processor. Both pretty straightforward with none of the bells and whistles and graphics of today.

Maybe we tried a game of Pong before we typed away on our conventional IBM Selectric where the Return key was pressed and the line of text was stored on a cassette tape. One cassette held roughly 20 pages of text, and could be "played back" (i.e., the text retrieved) by printing the contents on continuous-form paper in the 1200 typewriter's "print" mode. The stored text could also be edited, using keys on a simple, six-key array. Basic editing functions included Insert, Delete, Skip (character, line), and so on. The labor and cost savings of this device were immediate, and remarkable: pages of text no longer had to be retyped to correct simple errors, and projects could be worked on, stored, and then retrieved for use later on. We thought we were in heaven.

But time goes on and everything improved and got more distracting.

Now we have Hidden Object Games, Magic Match, Luxor and Apple Computers and PC’s. We have every gadget and gimmick available and the lure to use them before we write is almost an addiction.

Come on now. I know you have your routine; I have one, too. One game of Magic Match (yeah, right, ONE game), find a few objects in the Temple, clear a level by shooting some brightly colored balls as they roll toward the opening of the pyramid, THEN you can get to the pages. Check email, Twitter, Facebook, update your blog and all of a sudden it’s midnight and time to go to sleep.

How do you resist? Not easy. I’ve turned my “routine” into a reward. Write four pages and then I can Duel the Guardian in Magic Match. Edit the last scene I wrote and then I can make a run for the Temple.

When I do that, I find that the writing had progressed and often puts me in a spot I find more interesting than shooting the colored balls in the Valley of the Kings. My “new” routine had helped me get the last four books to the editors on time (and find the chalice in the beach scene!).

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Why Can't I Spell?

It seems I am cursed to remain the Typo Queen of the Universe.

I try, I really do. I spell check. Edit. Pause. Reread. Look at every red underline I find, yet typos still get into my post.

I remember one book I submitted that I thought was the absolute most perfect thing ever. My editor called me and suggested I hire a proofreader because the thing was riddle with typos.

I don’t get it. Do I read in tongues or something? Maybe Martian? A language I’m making up?

I know I can see and read. I can spot a 50% off sign in Macy’s a mile away. I can dig out a 20% off coupon to add to that from the black hole of my handbag in a power outage. I can spot a hottie who looks like Hugh Jackman or Zach Quinto or Keanu Reeves three blocks away and them cross the street without being hit by a car so he can pass me on the sidewalk and I can enjoy what his mama gave him. J.

So why can’t I see typos?

Someone told me that people who write a lot see what they think is right. If the first and last letter is correct, those between them must be also. It’s the only explanation I have.

Maybe an exorcism.