They stole my line, and now *I* will be seen as a copycat


Many of you have read my novel LITTLE RITUALS, or at least snippets from it.  I put it on the Kindle early last year, but most of the text had been set in stone for some time by then.

Early in the book, the dwarf/fairy godfather that Daphne has the car fenderbender with tells her, "Check yourself before you wreck yourself."  That’s a phrase my neighbor’s kid used starting about five years ago.  I heard him and his friends use it, and thought it was good.  But not a quotation from any film, as I Googled it.  It’s just like "I know, right?" in origin–began with someone and spread.  As far as I can tell.

Well, now I discover that the film "Due Date" uses this line.

They stole it from ME.  I had it in print first!

Well, they probably heard it the same way I did.  But now they will be credited with originating it, and I will get even more complaints and rejections, saying, "You stole that line from a movie!"

Now I will need to come up with another catchphrase for him to give her.

Lately I’ve felt all "what’s the point?" about writing anyway.  There are so many books out there, and what the market and editors/agents like is not the same thing that I like, and publishing is undergoing a sea change.  There’s got to be some other thing I could be doing.


Tear in fabric of reality? Try new Iron-On Patches!!

The other day a teenager whom I’m teaching a bit of piano by ear made an observation about probability that I have not been able to shake.

I know that all my old math teachers, my dad, Professor Angus, Professor Erna, Professor Richmond, and all of ’em are sittin’ up there in Heaven shaking their heads at me. But this makes perfect sense and I can’t find anything wrong with it.

We were discussing middle school math (which I have also tutored him in–he’s a neighbor’s kid) and he said, “All this probability stuff is a crock.”

Now, I’ve often suspected the same. I never have fully followed the logic of the “proofs” as to why conditional probability is correct and all that stuff. I did accept that a roll of the six-sided dice is a one-in-six chance, but further than that they went into la-la land with the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.

But . . . this makes sense right here:

“I reject all those calculations. Everything’s binary. It either happens, or it doesn’t.” He threw the chord chart to the carpet. “It either landed face up, or it didn’t. Fifty-fifty.”

I blinked.

“You either win the lottery, or you don’t. You either live through the battle, or you don’t. The die rolls a six, or it doesn’t.”

My brain cranked.

“See? I either learn this piece flawlessly, or I don’t. I either eat the cheese, or I don’t. You like me, or you don’t. It’s all just Do It or Don’t. Do, or not do.”

Try as I might, I couldn’t come up with a coherent reply that actually refuted this.

Either you liked my book, or you didn’t. Either we went out on a date, or we didn’t. Either your number came up, or it didn’t.

And on that note, we leave you to your regularly scheduled Saturday night computer gaming.

Called back–happy hubby!

As of noon today, Hubby has been called back to his job at The Folly!

He’s so happy. I am less thrilled, considering that ten of them (including him) have been recalled to work complete with badge and laptop as of RIGHT NOW, whereas the other 80-something people in the layoff continue to get paid for not working until April 4th. But on the other hand, he was too stressed out and neurotic to live until April 4th without working. So he’s happy! He wanted to go with this new startup and do all the extra hours and so forth and all the “exciting” stuff. He couldn’t enjoy doing fun things with me or going on a road trip knowing that he wasn’t working. (But, of course, now he has a job again. Until this one somehow gets de-funded. I am a realist.)

The only really unfair part (aside from the others getting to sit on their butts and be paid until April 4th) is that those who get called back in a later phase will have gotten their severance package worth about $30K. That is REALLY UNFAIR, if he has to work starting now and they get to sit around until after the cutoff date and apply to get their big money and THEN get called back to work. But oh well. We seem to always be “lucky” this way. Who needs a lump sum when I’d probably just squander it on car payments and house payments??

I want to thank those of you who have prayed and sent positive thoughts and energy. I truly believe that they are the reason the Universe decided to go ahead and call these guys back. They’re probably all type-A like Hubby and were going crazy.

By the way, the fellow who was in line to get that job (“Job A” with the company, not part of this project but still good) didn’t get to take it. He was part of this same Tiger Team and was called in today. But he told them no–that he had accepted a job at Cisco Systems, and wouldn’t be taking this opportunity! So he wouldn’t have taken Job A anyhow. Of course, he COULDN’T have, and neither could Hubby, because the way the paperwork is written, they had to either take the recall to this project if it came before April 4th or leave the company entirely. It says something that this fellow chose to leave. But ANYWAY . . . Hubs is happy, and they’ve all gone to lunch and will work out the day. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry, but at least he has a job. And perhaps I should be more thankful for that.

I’m terrible. But anyway, perhaps I’ll go to ConDFW this weekend to get away from all the excited happy talk of the plans for the new project . . . I don’t think I can take it. I’d rather wander around and see what’s new. *grin*

Schnappen der Spriggenwerk, poppencorken mit spritzensparken

Poor Hubby.

You may recall that he was laid off on January 31st. His entire group was dumped that day–80 people.

I mean, I know that maybe the Universe wanted him to be humbled a bit. It really got his attention when he was laid off. He simply doesn’t know how to not work . . . having had a job since he was 15 and worked at Pizza Inn part-time, moving up to Penneys catalog and then credit clerk, and then while he was in college to computer operator, and then upon graduation becoming a software engineer, ending up as a staff engineer and software guru. Unlike me, he is really good at working for The Man and being a team player.

There’s one particular job on the company’s internal hiring list thingie that reads as if it were written for him. From the day he left the company, his previous supervisor has been telling him to apply for this one and that he and X would recommend him. His paperwork was processed at last on Friday, and he got e-mail Monday telling him that the big boss wanted to have a phone interview with him. This made him very happy. He stopped growling and snarling at me and began pacing around saying that he could do the job and that it was just like the job he had before he joined the Folly. (The project that was just cancelled, I mean.)

This morning the director called him and did the phone interview. It went very well. He knew the answers and they spoke of people they both knew. She talked about figuring out how to do the callback/recall paperwork in order to get employees back. He hung up feeling that he was definitely going to get an offer.

So . . . what does he do but go onto the e-mail list that he and a few trusted co-workers had set up to discuss their contacts and jobs. He posted a jovial message reading, “The call went well. Maybe I’ll be back working with y’all in a couple of weeks.”

Maybe this could be interpreted as being cocky or arrogant. He didn’t mean it that way. Someone who knew him would understand that it was just a “whoopee” sort of deal.

But! The guy, X, who had said he’d recommend him (this guy is still employed and works in the group in question) wrote back, “Not so fast. You should know that L is also a final candidate for this position.” L is another of the layoff casualties, but he’s not as experienced as Hubby. Also, not as old. (hmm)

Well . . . that message was a slapdown. Was that really necessary? Or perhaps it was just a nice little heads-up. Whichever it was, I thought it was very passive-aggressive or whatever.

[Guilt: It’s my fault! It’s all because I listened to the Bad Luck song* in the car this morning! I knew better than to listen to that song! The last time I heard that song, I fell and shattered my kneecap. That song screwed up his chances this time! *sigh* Or maybe the dude X is just a back-stabber. Or maybe he didn’t realize how that would come across.]

I think I would have written in reply, “Good luck!” And that’s all I would’ve said. But that’s just me.

Anyway. Hubs read that and was crushed.

The result was that Hubby spent around two hours walking around the house talking about how L was probably going to get the position because of this and that, and he could see why, and all this kind of rot. But you could see just how disappointed and hurt he was. He doesn’t ask for much . . . he has had his heart set on this job, and he can’t think of anything else but being unemployed. I don’t know why the Universe couldn’t have just let him think whatever. Now he’s back to being horribly depressed and saying sad things and treating us ankendosh. He says he can’t stand to go on a little road trip or anything at all and couldn’t enjoy it. Can’t even enjoy going over to the Arboretum or the nature preserve for a walk. It’s all the fault of this bigmouth that shot off his mouth to take somebody down a notch . . . kick somebody who was already down.

The bigmouth X must be zapped.

I am crushing his head.

Don’t worry–I’m also crushing L.’s head. And zapping his guideas rod**. And cursing him so he never gets his blah blahed again***. My voodoo is at work. Justice will prevail.


Crud. I suppose it isn’t L’s fault. (But I’m still crushing his head.) It’s all a crapshoot. If they don’t pick Hubby, it’ll be their loss. He knows the product line and he can do the job. They may still choose him. But now that he thinks X would prefer to see L get the job, he’s all depressed. He’s applying elsewhere, but his heart isn’t in it.

I’m accustomed to being rejected. But Hubs isn’t. Apparently he’s got a lot of his identity tied up in his job and his ability to support the family and so forth. And this entire sequence of events may be designed by destiny to knock that out of him and change his direction.

However, it’s tough to see him suffer. And Mama suffers because she’s a child of the Depression who went through being poor and is completely freaked about being poor again. I am the only one with any faith here. Dum-dum me, always trusting that Something Good is about to happen.

Surely something will. That’s not the only job in the world! But I still hate to see him so disappointed.


* The R. E. M. cover of John Lennon’s “Dream #9” off the CD done for the Darfur relief charity. It’s a really good cover. But every time I hear it, something bad seems to happen right after. That’s not the only Bad Luck song, but it’s probably one of the worst. I really like the song, but hey, how many times do you have to touch the hot stove??

** “Guideas rod” comes from an old family story. One of my mother’s uncles back in the day when cars were new got a Model A Ford. Everyone was duly impressed when he drove it up their gravel road and showed off his new Horseless Carriage. But about halfway down the road something went wrong. He came back trudging along crying and carrying his steering wheel and the shaft it was connected to. “What happened?” the family cried. He looked up miserably and held out the parts. “My guideas rod broke,” he shouted. (Not knowing what to call the car parts.) So whenever something goes wrong with the car . . . you know the drill.

*** Refers to the Lenny Bruce “blah-blah-blah” routine. I first heard it on the “Lenny” soundtrack album made from the Dustin Hoffman film. (It’s at 01:18:57 in the film.) You can probably guess what it is a euphemism for.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Have some Valentine’s jammies!

We went to the mall (big woo) (well, it is for HIM, anyway) and I got one of those aluminum credit card holders to keep my cards from being read by an RFID reader. Next up: aluminum foil hat!

(And that’ll be sad. Because I look terrible in hats. No, really . . . comical. I tried on a hat once in Nordstrom and my cousin went into hysterics, attracting the attention of the clerk and several bystanders who also hooted and hollered as if I were Minnie Pearl wearing a Carmen Miranda fliptop. It’s something about a square face and glasses. Or not.)

Benchley contest announcement–at last

I’m a finalist in the 2010 Robert Benchley essay contest!

The Robert Benchley Society is relieved to finally announce the long-awaited Top Ten Semi-Finalists (in alphabetical order) in the 2010 Robert Benchley Society Humor Writing Competition:

Go read the top ten essays, if you haven’t. They’re really good. I think my entry is very Benchleyesque this time. Maybe it’ll place in the top four.

I also have won another manuscript contest through an RWA chapter and received a very pretty hand-beaded necklace with a camellia as a charm. It’s very comforting to think that “regular readers” (as well as published romance novelists) like my work, even if it isn’t good at impressing Those Who Count.

FREE: A Book Idea

Here’s a free book idea. There are, as I see it, three basic ways this could go.

The opening:
Happy couple and two children are on vacation at the beach. Husband excuses himself to go into the cabin to tinkle. Instead, he gets on the phone to his mistress and reaches her voice mail. “Hey, it’s me. I’ve finally decided. I’m going to tell her as soon as we get home. I can’t stand it any more. It’s what you’ve been asking me to do. So, anyway, see you on Saturday. Love you.” Then he stares thoughtfully out the window at the children happily playing and the surf eternally crashing.

Around the time he’s saying “I’ve finally decided,” the wife follows him in and stops short in the doorway. He doesn’t hear her or doesn’t notice, so she listens and waits until he hangs up. There are three ways this could go from here. . . .

(1) The screaming harridan. The woman picks up something and hurls it at him without asking for any explanation. “Liar! Cheat!” She throws his clothes out and ends the vacay right there. You know the drill from here.

(2) The woman goes into the kitchen/bar while he is standing post-call to stare out the window into the distance at the kids making a sand castle. She makes a tray with two glasses and a pitcher of “martinis,” but the martinis have hemlock in them. (Maybe curare, too, just for the paralysis factor.) (You’ll have to set up how she got this stuff . . . maybe she’s an herbalist.) She carries it in and says loudly, “Tell me what?”

He spins around guiltily and knows he’s been made. He walks over to slug down the first drink to steel himself. She sets the tray in front of him on the table and sits down. “I’m listening.”

By the time he is halfway through his story, she knows it’s working and he knows there’s something wrong, but attributes it to the booze. The reason they used hemlock for executions in ancient times is that it allows lucidity up until almost the end. She’s well rid of the guy. . .and gets to sue the resort for his death, to boot (if they prefer to hush it up instead of thinking it’s murder).

(3) The woman hears, but does nothing. For now. This is the tale of the She-Devil who will ruin him without his even knowing until the end. This is the far more interesting story.

Let’s see what you can do with it.