CRITIQUES: Ouch, but necessary

I must love playing “Kick Me.”

However, if one gets no feedback at all, one cannot improve. That’s what I say when I get constructive criticism *sob* *WAIL*. Anyway, is there anyone out there who’d like to take a look at my entry in this year’s Robert Benchley Essay Contest? I’ve already sent it in, but there’s no harm in getting suggestions.

If you’ve never read Benchley, Dave Barry, James Thurber, or even Erma Bombeck, this whimsical “dotty person nattering” style may not be your cuppa. But if you HAVE read and enjoyed these authors, I’d love to hear what you think of this. Oh, and the final judge is Bob Newhart, which sort of explains the last couple of paragraphs.

HOW TO START YOUR OWN BAND in 500 words or fewer

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Waiting is the hard part

I’m waiting to see whether I won anything . . . think positive! (Although that’s never worked BEFORE)

* Elton John concert tickets! Yes, I “might win” a trip to hear “Hercules” live. If this happens, I must call my high school best friend, Ann. She was completely wack over Elton for years. We were both fans, but she was the bigger fan of his. (I was more crazy about Paul Simon. I managed to get us front row seats for his SMU concert, even.) I could not resist tracking her down and telling her, “Get a babysitter–we’re going to see Elton.” There would be a “thud” on the other end of the line. But we’d get to go! *wack* The most unfair thing the Universe could do would be to award that trip to someone who is vague about exactly when the “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” and “Captain Fantastic” albums came out. . . .

* That MWA/St. Martin’s Press First Crime Novel contest is supposed to be decided “by the end of March.” Logic would lead us to conclude that the winner has already been called . . . why would they wait until the last day of the month? Probably there’s already celebrating in some house somewhere. The unfair bit would be if it’s a youngster who would’ve had plenty of other chances over the years, and not one of us old-timers who see the years tearing off the calendar like in one of those old movies. . . .

* My humorous fairy tale was held over for consideration for an anthology. The editor liked my “Splatterfairies” tale, but it wasn’t a fairy tale retelling, so I wrote a Fractured Fairy Tale pastiche of “Hansel and Gretel.” *However*, I know of several others who have sent in their stuff, and they know the author who will be writing the counterpoint story for the book, so I don’t hold out much hope. I tweaked the story the other day just for fun, but I don’t see any point in re-sending it before the deadline . . . though when/if it gets chosen, it’s ready.

* I called the toll-free number and took that Jack-in-the-Box survey. You can win 1,000 just for telling them if the restaurant was clean or had banana peels falling from the ceiling! I lied on every question.

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[EDIT: P. S. I used to collect coins as well as stamps, so I already know that a numismatist is a coin collector; that’s why I followed that with, “*Worse*, do you love numbers?” I was riffing on that crazy TV ad that the government is running about coin collectors. Have you seen it? It starts out with “Are you a numismatist?” and implies that it’s something dirty, showing all these scenes of people picking up coins, etc. It’s hilarious. So I just thought that would be a funny lead-in that would tip people off that I’m doing a riff on those TV offers. That particular one from the U. S. Mint is one of the silliest, IMHO. *grin*]

Road Trip!! Vote on which way we drive!

Do you know that we haven’t been on a vacation or road trip of ANY kind since I got that first-place award in Beaumont (Texas) (*stinky*) back in around 1990 at the Golden Triangle Writers’ Conference? Before that, we had been to Hot Springs over a Memorial Day weekend, but that was ruined because we arrived home to find that my husband’s brother’s wife had been killed on the way home from a family vacation . . . and before that, we hadn’t been anywhere since our honeymoon (which we enjoyed, but which we ended by blowing out the two left tires on the TransAm as we rolled into Richardson on the way to the grocery store so we’d have something to eat in the house) . . . and since then, we just haven’t traveled except on business or on “duty” (meaning a family member or close friend needed help–usually because hesh was in the hospital or worse.) Aaack!! And we have house-to-phobia now, cabin fever, insanity of staying home.

But! BUT! And again, BUT!!

Around the end of April, my closest cousin is going to Savannah with her hubby to participate in a motorcycle event. (Don’t ask . . . ’cause I don’t really know. I only know he’s going to ride up into the mountains with a group that is presumably not the Hell’s Angels.) They’re going to drive. It’ll be a two-day trip, but the countryside is beautiful and we could stop in some interesting towns. We wouldn’t be alone on the road, so that would be cool–we’d follow their truck. (He’s going to ride the motorcycle part of the way, and we could bracket him from the back while she brackets him from the front.)

Okay, well, we have the vacation time, assuming no one gets the flu again and so forth. We could do this!

But! (etc.) Many of y’all know that the place I have always wanted to go back to (and show to my family) is in California. The Big Sur/Pacific Grove/Carmel-by-the-sea area. Highway 1, the 17-mile-drive, Big Sur, the little town of Pacific Grove, the places in Monterey where author John Steinbeck held court, the Monterey Aquarium, Lovers Point beach, and so forth. On the way there, we’d go through Albuquerque (where I have an acquaintance who runs a B&B) and right past the Grand Canyon. However, it’s mostly desert and there’s a lot of “Nothing” to be seen. It’s a little farther, by about 500 miles as the SUV putts. But it’s the place I’ve always wanted us to go!

There’s the dilemma. Should we go on the family trip thing and travel around 1,037 miles (about 15 hours and 36 minutes as the Google drives, but longer because we stop at every tinkle spot and scenic overlook) to Georgia and see the pre-Civil War sights in a town so purty that General Sherman didn’t burn it? OR should we say, “Hell, if we’re gonna roll the tires off the car, let’s go where we have wanted to go,” and travel 1,695 miles to Carmel-by-the-sea (about 1 day and 2 hours by their calculations, but actually much longer, I’ll bet)?

We may not get to go anywhere at all. But if I’m going to spend the money (ga$ at three dollar$ plu$ a glug, and a minivan!) and the time, I’d rather make a sensible choice. So (as tradition dictates in this world) I’m putting it up for a vote!

Have you been to these places? Do you know the route? Have you experienced anything not-to-miss or a weird roadside attraction (such as the Cadillac Ranch or the biggest peach in the world)? Do you have a suggestion? Love to hear it in the comments!

Asking for positive thoughts again. . . .

We’ve had a miserable couple of days here at Casa el Dumpo. Flooding, household-wide illness, nothing good to read. Bleah! But “Harvey” *was* on TCM last night.

I hate to ask again . . . but Mama asked, “put me on the prayer list again,” and this is what she means. (I had a hard time explaining weblogs and journals and so forth.) She’s having secondary complications from the medicine that she’s been taking for acute bronchitis and walking pneumonia. Her stomach is bleeding again (we can tell because of . . . well, too much info is never a good thing, but there is a definite sign when “something” turns black) and they hope it’s just that her ulcer is irritated by the steroid pills. She lies around nauseated and dizzy and having panic attacks because the COPD/emphysema is making that bronchitis worse. I haven’t had any rest because about every couple of hours she calls me in there to her room so I can fix her inhalant machine, or turn on/off the oxygen generator, or walk her to the potty, or whatever. I would be over this respiratory thing if I could just rest! She really should be in the hospital but begged the doctor not to put her there as it’s so boring.

I think she is a little better tonight than over the past couple of days, but she asked to be put on the prayer list! So . . . here we are! Tomorrow morning I am going to just load her into the car and take her to Dr. Genius’ office and ask how we can heal ALL the things at once. She wants to get well enough to go see my aunt for HER birthday. The weather (flooding for a day and a half) hasn’t helped, as respiratory patients don’t do well in wet weather with the barometric pressure going up or down or whichever way it is.

If you feel moved to pray, chant, or send positive Good Thinks, we would appreciate it greatly!! Thanks in advance! In return, we will answer any math questions you have, send recipes, or sing a little song. *tuning up*