Do As I Say, Not As I Write!

Tags

,

books_fer_head_cropIf you are a writer, you have probably been pelted by dozens of “rules of good writing” from various sources. And you’ve also most assuredly heard them spouted word-for-word from sources of every stripe. At one end of the spectrum: revered oracles and best-selling authors; the other end populated by bloviating rule quoters and clueless hacks.
nfwim_coverRecently, I read an amusing book, “Nabokov’s Favorite Word is Mauve” by Ben Blatt.
Being a bit of a mathematician, I was intrigued by this statistical analysis of writing styles. What tickled my funny bone, however, was the light shed on how much authors actually obey these supposedly “set in stone” rules.

1) Exclamation points
The oft paraphrased rule by Elmore Leonard is “no more than 3 per 100,000 words of prose”. Yet take a look at how often the man himself used them.
off_exclamTsk tsk. The oracle uses forty-nine? He broke his own code!
more_like_guidelines
I am relieved to report that my own writing averages about 350 on the above graph, putting me solidly in the middle. In the universe of current authors, that makes me worse that Stephen King, but better than Dan Brown.
Getting back to Mr. Leonard, he at least does deserve credit for being the best of the lot. And keep in mind, his achievement of forty-nine is an average over his entire body of work. But how did the gent perform over his entire career?
off_exclam_leonardThis is one instance where the oracle seems to obey his own rule, but only after he sticks his big foot in his mouth.
exclam_type_ptThe rule, as a rule, is still something to which we should pay heed. After all, the above graph shows that quality writing leans toward this advice. Looks like I have some improvements to make, before achieving “Modern Literary” quality.
Aw, nuts! (Oops — another pesky exclamation.)
I think the best advice on exclamation points I’ve heard to date was from a professor at DeSales University: “The sentence must earn it.”

2) Abverbs
Mark Twain’s quote — “If you see an adverb, kill it!” — often echoes in my head (Naughty, naughty, Mr Clemens — you used an exclamation point.) Similarly, Stephen King instructs the writer to avoid “-ly” adverbs, recommending that a weak verb paired with an adverb is better replaced with a strong verb: e.g. replace “ran quickly” with “raced.” Personally, I agree with this advice.
off_adverbsKudos to Mr. Twain for adhering to his own dictum. King, however needs some remedial work. Though not presented here, Blatt’s book reveals that, like Leonard playing fast and loose with exclamation points, King only obeys his own adverbial advice after the year he penned it in his seminal work, “On Writing.”

3) Opening with Weather
Everyone is familiar with the oft-ridiculed opening, “It was a dark and stormy night,” penned by Bulwer-Lytton. It is generally accepted that good writers follow another one of Leonard’s rules: “Never open a book with weather.” Well, take a look at how often successful authors ignore that advice.
off_weather_1stI’m not sure if that’s a condemnation of the quality of certain authors or their
readers.

4) Suddenly!
Again, paraphrasing Mr. Leonard, the rule is “Never use ‘suddenly’.”
I guess as a whole, we writers cannot avoid a steady diet of suddenly’s.sudd_pt

I am pleased to report that I don’t break these rules — at least, not enough to warrant being at the wrong end of these graphs! Don’t believe me? Read my books, and decide for yourself.
If you read them, review them.
If you review them, please alert me if I’ve gotten lazy and broken these rules!
cdo_fb_crop

Advertisements

How Tastes Change

Tags

, ,

apple_variety

I was snacking on an apple this morning, and while crunching away, I also ruminated on how my tastes have changed over the past few years.
My favorite apples as a youth were red delicious. Today, I cannot remember the last time I had one of those – if only because it is impossible for me to predict their texture.
I hate mushy apples.
One thing that hasn’t changed over the decades is — my apples must be crisp.

As soon as four years ago, I adored noshing on Granny Smiths and Honeycrisps. Now I cannot abide them, because they are just too sour for my liking. Though they are both great when cooked. Nom nom!

I hate mushy apples. Oops — did I already say that?
Well, it bears repeating — I HATE mushy apples!
Much as I dislike to waste food, if I bite into an apple, and am presented with a mealy mouthful, into the trash it goes (or the lawn if deer are about). I demand an apple so crunchy, it makes my gums bleed.
My top three favorites are, when I can find them are: Cameo, Ambrosia, and Jazz.
And before you suggest “Have you tried…?” Yes, I have.

Who knows what my favorites will be next year?
I hear the modern-day Johnny Appleseed’s are working on a hybrid based on the Honeycrisp, to be named Laser-crisp. Oh, brother – I hate it already, if only because of the name.

On a non-apple note, I hated spinach and grapefruit when I was younger.
Now I love them – baby spinach in my salads, and pink grapefruit segments. Nom!

One of the more curious changes in taste I’ve experienced (other than my older brother morphing from a Summer-of-Love hippie to a Redder-Than-Fox-News conservative) is my attitude toward peppermint. I used to like it – now I cannot stand it. I loathe it so much, I consider the mixing of chocolate and peppermint an Abomination that merits its own verse in Leviticus.

peppermint_chocs

I even recorded a story about it – “Peppermint Christmas“!
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Jest a Minute, You!

Tags

, , ,

Other than the King himself, who held the most important position in the King’s court? The Queen? The Prime Minister? The Exchequer? The Archbishop?
I believe it was the Jester.

court_jester_crop

It was he who had the unenviable task of being the Conscience of the King.
Depending on the quality of the person holding the highest office of cleric, and on how religious His Majesty was, the Church should have also been risking that dance on the guillotine’s edge. But history shows that far too often the inner workings of the royal court often rendered the Guiding Light that should have been the King’s spiritual leader either totally silent, quite impotent, or even worse, more corrupt than the King himself.

It was therefore left to the the humble Jester to be the King’s conscience, his better self, his thorn-in-the-side.
A dangerous task, to be sure.

It still is today.
While I don’t place myself in the same arena as our current spate of late-night talk show hosts, political comedians/comediennes, and parody news sites (I lo-o-ve The Onion!) who skewer and lambaste those who so richly deserve it, I am thankful they are there, and admire the work they perform so adroitly.

To be sure, I have my own share of sarcastic and sardonic wit, though I marvel at the professional Jesters’ speedy and laser-accurate assessments of our politician’s foibles, hypocrisies, and outright blatant sins. It is truly a shame that like the Kings of Old, our leaders still hold the Jester with a disdain stronger than Drano, and ignore their sage advice.

The modern equivalent of The Jester certainly irritates those who have voted for these corrupt and/or brain-dead political flunkies. How else can it be explained that I find myself the target of wrath when I chime in with The Jesters? Time and time again, I have been blasted with the withering sanctimony, “He/She holds the office, he/she deserves your respect, so shaddap!”
Sometimes the name of God is also invoked by those same flapping lips.

They need to understand one thing about myself — and hopefully I speak for the professional Jesters as well — It is precisely because I respect the Office, that I lambaste the waste of protoplasm that infects said Office.

Needless to say, some of this acerbic attitude and witticism is bound to show up in my writings.
My epic fantasy, Pindlebryth, has its share. Take a peek and see for yourself!
Pindlebryth_e2v3_20

What’s in a (Nick)Name?

Tags

my_name_is_NOTI seem to collect nicknames.
Many people loathe the paltry one or two they gather over a lifetime.
I, however, have long since embraced the dozens I’ve earned over the years, and made peace with the rest. I don’t allow them to define me, but they do serve their purposes — they recall to mind some of the good times, or remind me that there’s always room for improvement.
Here’s a few of the more notable ones I can share:

Uncle Christmas
I have been adopted by several of my good friends’ families, becoming the “Uncle” to their offspring. However, one family’s children gave me this name, mainly because I most often arrived with birthday gifts, holiday fun or Christmas presents. They’ve all since grown up, and don’t call me this anymore — More’s the pity.

Uncle Death
This one stuck, mainly because the Parental Units of another adoptive family still occasionally use it, long after their kids’ developing soft palates could properly pronounce the triphthong that starts my given name. That is, the ankle-biters tried to say “Uncle Chris,” and this came out of their tiny mouths instead.

Squiffer
A circle of friends and I were enjoying several rounds of “Balderdash” when this word came up as the word in play. We had a good laugh, because no one believed the game defined this word as “organist,” which in fact, is one of my vocations!
After the game’s conclusion, we looked it up in my friend’s multi-volume Oxford Unabridged Dictionary with its custom magnifying glass. (My friends have one, don’t yours!?)
Sure enough, “organist” was the 3rd definition. However, I was a mite red-faced when we also discovered the primary definition was… “drunkard.”

Dr. Death
Hmm…. my second “Death” nickname. Should I be worried? Nya-a-ah.
This gem of a nickname I picked up at AT&T Bell Laboratories, during my stint as a software tester. During my tenure in that position, I carried the honor of finding the most high-severity bugs each year. Needless to say, I began to get a reputation of sorts.
Though my coworkers appreciated that it was far better that I find these problems instead of our customers, and despite dispatching my duties without crushing the egos of my fellow coworkers**, many feared my knock at their door.
One fine day, I chased a software developer to ground in his cubicle, during which his wiseacre Brooklynite officemate blurted out,
“Uh oh! Here comes Dr. Death!”
And it stuck. I wear it proudly!

dr_deathKurt Russell from “Overboard” 

** – with one or two notable exceptions. Like when I had a heated argument with two Ph.D.’s in mathematics, who somehow didn’t understand the 6th grade math of percentages. Grrrr!

Mr. Koyl
This one’s a name that a girlfriend had given me. (Long after our break-up I still occasionally refer to her as “She Who Must Not Be Named.” But that’s another story!)
This name she bestowed upon me was an acronym for “King Of Yellow Lights”. Apparently, I had the aggravating knack — and still have — of turning almost every traffic light I approach yellow as I enter its “Stop or Gun it” zone.

This penchant for nicknames tends to show up in my writing. “The Mask of Jyestha” and “No Children Aloud” in my book “If I Can’t Sleep, You Can’t Sleep” contain prime examples.
If_I_Cant_Sleep_v3

We Luv 2B Scared?

Tags

,

skelton_dance

It’s that time of year, when we all like a little scare – or attempt to prove to those around us that we don’t scare.

In that light, I’d  like to share and review — and maybe even re-view — my favorite horror films. Maybe this will give you a hint of the type of creepy stories that I love to write!
After perusing my list, take a look at “If I Can’t Sleep, You Can’t Sleep”, and see what I mean.
If_I_Cant_Sleep_v3

This is not a list of “the best”, nor is it meant to be comprehensive.
I have my likes and dislikes that may (or may not) match with your tastes. It is perchance a way to get know what I find scary, and how I think when writing. For example, slasher and gore-for-gore’s-sake films are low on my list. And I certainly make no claim that I have seen anywhere near the entire compendium of horror / creepfest /schlock films.
In addition, there’s a whole slew of new horror flicks out this season – some of them quite stylish. Sadly, they will not be included in this year’s list. One factor of a really good horror film is their timelessness, so I wait at least one year before making a judgment whether they have the necessary staying power.

With all those forewarnings, here goes.
In no particular order, I enjoy to dread (or is it dread to enjoy?):

The Thing (1982)
It is rare when a remake is better than the original.
But this Lovecraftian spin on the Campbell short story “Who Goes There?” excels in characterization, script, and special effects. Its faithfulness to the story’s original theme of “who do I trust” is visceral. After first seeing this film, I could not re-watch it alone for a full year.

The Exorcist(1973)
Atmospheric to the extreme, and due to Friedkin’s bag of dirty tricks (like shooting a gun during takes to make the actors jump), a compelling descent into a taut story was born.

Legend of Hell House
My favorite creepfest, written by Richard Matheson.
Not to be confused with he B&W “Haunting of Hill House”, based on the Shirley Jackson book. Roddy McDowall is perfect, directed by Michael Gough (who is also uncredited as the film’s baddie).
It is possible one of the reasons I like this film, is because most of the film crew earned their stripes producing British TV’s “Avengers”.

Alien
A magical if not fiendish combination of Ridley Scott at the top of his form, and the master artisans Moebius and HR Giger. Truly a classic gothic nightmare. From the very start, with the ethereal string chords (Curse you Jerry Goldsmith!) during the opening credits, I knew I was in trouble.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Though some would pooh-pooh this as schlock sci-fi, I still consider this horror, as it goes to heart of the human condition.
My favorite scene? The low camera angle traveling shot of the pitchfork in the greenhouse. Cinematic mastery, combining implied violence and tension.

Blair Witch Project
Glad I saw this in the comfort of my home. Shaky-cam makes me nauseous on the big screen. Nevertheless, a novel way of telling a unique story.

Cabin in the Woods
If you thought Buffy and Angel had a good mix of horror and humor, give this film a whirl. A interesting twist on the “pick off the kids” trope.

Ringu / The Ring
Both films are disturbing in their own way. The Japanese film had a few things that make perfect sense for its locale, but needed to be redone for the American audience. I was impressed how the American film does it justice, keeping every creepy atmospheric dread in tact.
But if you haven’t seen the Japanese version (Ringu), please do. The way the family resolves the problem of the deadly video is gut-chillingly dark.

Sixth Sense
I’m glad I saw this for the first time while at home. I blurted out in the restaurant scene, “Holy sh**, he’s {spoiler}!” I think the audience might have lynched me.

Nosferatu
German expressionism, and a “method” actor that has yet to be equaled.

Poltergeist (1982)
Despite Spielberg’s heavy hand throughout this film Tobe Hooper delivers a creepfest that builds incessantly. What starts out with innocent goosebumps leads (at least for me) to a jump-out-of-the-seat moment when finally face-to-skull with the monster.

Hellbound: Hellraiser II
Better than the first, which is rare for sequels. While exceedingly gory, I still like this movie, mostly because of the stellar dialog.
There are two exchanges between a human and a demon that, to this day, still chills my blood every time I replay them.
Doctor: (mewling) “Oh my God.”
Julia: “No – this one’s mine.”
—-
Doctor: (mewling) “I want to leave.”
Julia: “I don’t understand. You wanted to see. You wanted to know.” *crunch* “Now you know.”

 

Rah Rah SisBoomBah! Get Your Fake News Here! Ta-dah!

Tags

, , ,

CircusMaximusThink ‘fake news’ is a recent development?
Wrong – this insidious canker on an informed society has been around for thousands of years. But not in the form we tend to think of today.

And if you are a sports fan, you’re part of the problem.
A typical sports fan fritters away dozens of hours a week glued to the tube. Some of the more insane of this curious lot think nothing of spending hundreds of dollars on cheap foreign-made merchandise just because it sports (pun intended) their favorite team’s logo. The most extreme cases upend their wallets, spending thousands of dollars on season passes.

Who first called out sports as ‘fake news’?
Go back to ancient Rome, where the satirist Juvenal coined the phrase panem et circenses or “bread and circuses.” He was referring to the practice of annona (grain dole) which parceled out food and entertainment as political rewards. This practice was an amazing success. Consider that annona began in 123 BC under Gaius Gracchus, and was so fiscally successful that Julius Caesar rebuilt the Circus Maximus half a century later, and Constantine grew it to its current bloated size in 400 AD.
But it was Augustus Caesar who turned ‘bread and circuses’ to a fine-edged political tool — it allowed him to be elevated to pagan godhead while ancient Rome barely blinked.

Sports fandom draws its historical roots from a word meaning insanity.
Consider the word “fan” – short for fanatic. In ancient Rome, this pejorative term implied the person was unreasoning and off his rocker. It was often applied to people who idolized the gladiators, fanatically following the exploits of their favorite circus warrior. They collected figurines of their hero, emblazoned their homes with mosaics and scratched graffiti of their hero’s name on public buildings.
thracian_gladiatorSound familiar?

In short, professional sports is, and always has been, a diversion to keep people from focusing on the problems of society. It is a drain on the economy, it huge waste of time, and a gigantic money-making diversion that keeps the populace distracted.

To this day, every television news program, every newspaper (that still exists), every news service, devotes one-quarter to one-third of their precious time and energy to sports. Not to mention those media channels devoted exclusively to sports…

Why does News do this?
What real news is there in teams’ scores, the latest triumph or failure, the latest record broken? With the possible exceptions of the Olympics or the recent uproar over “taking a knee,” when did any sports victory affect the world in any significant fashion? What treaty was signed, what genocide was averted, what disease cured, what famine avoided, because Team ABC defeated Team XYZ?  Oh, and don’t get me started about the blatant lunacy of paying sports figures millions of dollars when firefighters, police, nurses, soldiers, teachers — the real heroes of every stripe — are paid paltry sums.

Nations going to war, economic entities making decisions that affect all of our
lives, genocides, atrocities of every ilk — all going unnoticed because News panders to those who consider devotion to a sports team more important. That is the REAL FAKE news, and the real tragedy.

Do you know what would I would consider unique in the world of sports news?
If some sports mega-star, paid gazillions of dollars, fessed up on camera, “Our team lost because I just didn’t give a rat’s rear-end. I phoned my performance in. Hey, I get paid whether I win or lose, so why should I give a rip? Turn off ESPN and get a life.” Or if the billionaire owner of a team let slip a truth during an interview, “Thanks for the free stadium, chumps.”
That would be real sports news.

Don’t get me wrong about sports — if you like to play sports, go and do!
Athletics is part of what makes us human. It is necessary for a healthy body and sound mind.
It is the glorification of professional sports that is the sickness.

Dirt, Dogs, and Digs

Tags

, ,

dog-muddy-boots-hero

Autumn is almost upon us, and the signs are everywhere.
Leaves falling.
Ripe nuts and fruit dropping from almost every tree in the neighborhood.
Add to that the usual lawn detritus of grass clippings and fiendishly concealed animal droppings, and it all quickly builds into a noxious pile of organic matter that finds its way into my home.

I cringe every time I step on one of those marble-sized bombs, consisting of a bumper crop of crab-apples, Japanese dogwood berries, pygmy pears, and who-knows-what-else.

During this benighted time of year, I am forced to clean my walkway, my dog, and mudroom on the average 3 times a day — the walkway before I walk my dog, my shoes, the dog’s paws, and linoleum afterwards. And we still somehow manage to track in grass, leaves, mangled corpses of squished fruit, and whatever crud their juices sponge up onto my shoes.

I am by no means a demigod of domesticity, despite the fact that throughout my formative years, I was allergic to everything – dust, mold, mildew, animal dander, and more. My poor Mom had to clean-clean-clean when she wasn’t exhausted from holding down two jobs. Fortunately, my dog was one of those breeds that doesn’t shed, otherwise I think she would have bleached the pooch.

I thank God I have outgrown my allergies and asthma, otherwise I would be forced to continue that unfortunate tradition. These days, I break out the vacuum cleaner once a fortnight (or less), resorting to bucket and mop when I must — far less often than my Mom ever did…
But these Fall invaders of muck and mire have me cleaning far more often than I care to think about.

This season, with nature relentlessly dumping its dirt upon us, reminds me of a pithy bit of humorous wisdom a co-worker imparted, during a tour of a Silicon Valley clean room, where super-clean “bunny-suits” and air-purifiers abounded.

“There is no such thing as ‘perfectly clean.’
There is only the level of dirt you’re willing to tolerate.”

OK — I admit it. I can’t think of even the most tenuous segway (segue) from the subject of cleanliness to the topic of my books. So here’s this blog entry’s blatant bit of self-promotion…
Buy my books!

 

 

Self-Made Million-Aire-Heads

Tags

, ,

board-2434286_960_720I have to remind myself on a weekly basis — sometimes on a daily basis — that all that I have, all that I’ve done, all that I am, is not solely due to my efforts. Many times I am forced to recognize that all these things are due to immeasurable amounts of help from my faith, family, friends, co-workers — and sometimes even enemies — to get where I am, and where I hope to go.

Consider the phrase “self-made millionaire.” Isn’t that, on the very face of it, a laughable thing? If a person claims their achievements are because of their — and ONLY their — efforts, they are one of three things:
ignorant, delusional, or a liar.

Did they construct the roads on which they (or their chauffeurs) drive?
Did they build their Rolls-Royce’s from scratch?
Did they launch the satellites that predict the weather, around which they plan their junkets?
Did they engineer their towering edifices, or school the engineers who designed them?
No.

Yet so many of our captains of industry and politics, as they become bombastic buffoons spiraling into their ego-driven power trips, pound the podium while declaring their state is brought about by the might of their will and intelligence, and theirs alone.
Hogwash.

Sir Isaac Newton, physicist, mathematical genius, and spiritual Renaissance Man, said it best: “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.”

If_I_Cant_Sleep_v3
That sense of interconnection is part of why I write my stories I do. Borrowing a laurel bestowed on me by a reviewer – “there’s a moral center there (ie virtue rewarded, or the reverse).”

Visit www.christopherdochs.com to see for yourself!

“No One Believes Me!”

Tags

,

doppel_end

Ever have an interpretation of a book or a film, that no one else seems to get?
I’m taking a break from my usual topics to delve into my interpretation of one of my “guilty pleasure” films — “Journey to the Far Side of the Sun,” also known across the pond as “Doppelganger”.

This flick was panned by the movie critics of the day. But then, run-o-the-mill movie critics rarely “get” hard sci-fi. In my estimation, “Journey” has a great story concept, and stupendous special effects — brought to life by one of my industry heroes, Derek Meddings. Admittedly, the pace of the film is slo-o-ow, mostly due to meticulous attention to details of space technology, present and future. However, that’s hardly an issue for me — it’s a techno-geek’s dream come true!

But I digress…
The film has a real slap-in-the-face ending — SPOILER ALERT!
The character of Jason Webb dies, reaching for … for what?

Now here’s how I interpret the slap-in-the-face:
just before he dies, the film gives us a ton of clues that the whole thing — EUROSEC, the new planet, the two disastrous space voyages, the whole shebang — were all a figment of Jason Webb’s imagination (if not mental illness).
That’s right!
Nothing was real, the whole story was ALL Jason Webb’s age-related dementia.

I have yet to find anyone who fully agrees with my interpretation. The best response I’ve gotten after two decades is polite skepticism. So let’s see if I can convince you why I believe what I believe.

Doppel_cardiacmonitor

It all hinges on the wristwatch cardio-monitor that appears multiple times throughout the film. Among other times when it’s only hinted at, we actually see the monitor when: a) Dr. Hassler (Herbert Lom) is assassinated, and we watch the trinket go bonkers as he dies; b) when Jason Webb himself (Partick Wymark) gets agitated, astronaut Glenn Ross (Roy Thinnes) tells Jason to pay attention to his cardio-monitor, and we see it blipping away.

Fast forward to the end of the film.
A much-older Webb complains to his nurse that “all records are gone” and “no one believes me,” (Hint 1). The nurse, wearing a stodgy uniform (Hint 2), checks his pulse (Hint 3 – THE GIVEAWAY).

Now consider these apparent contradictions —
If this scene occurs ages after the events of everything that passed before, then:
1) WHY is the nurse wearing an old-style uniform, not one of the futuristic health professional uniforms we saw previously in the film?
2) WHY does the nurse check his pulse by TOUCH? Why doesn’t she simply look at his cardio-monitor? This action is so critical, it is plastered in lens close-up: I claim the filmmakers intended this to be noticed!
3) Webb had a cardio-monitor all throughout the film. WHY doesn’t he have one now? (If anything, decades later he would have a “new & improved” cardio-monitor, no?)

I’ll tell you why – because the nursing home scene is NOT in the future, and the cardio-gadget doesn’t exist. Ergo, the whole thing was in Webb’s delusional mind.
The poor schlub kills himself chasing nothing but a fevered phantasm.

OK – that’s my opinion. I’d love to hear yours. If you disagree, don’t just lob tomatoes — give us your explanation of these inconsistencies.

On the topic of unexpected endings — it’s my meat and potatoes.
But don’t take my word for it. Some really nice reviews are rolling in for my latest book, “If I Can’t Sleep, You Can’t Sleep”,

If_I_Cant_Sleep_v3“…amazing stories that would chill me to the bone one minute and then leave me surprised the next.” — Readers’ Favorite

I Am a Boiled Frog

Tags

,

And in all probability, so are you.

boiled_frog
We’re all familiar with the adage that if you drop a frog in boiling water, he’ll immediately jump out. The flip side of the story tells us if you put a frog in tepid water and raise its temperature slowly enough, he’ll stay there ’til he’s cooked.

I am reminded on a weekly basis (sometimes daily) about the person that I am — and how I bear little resemblance to the person I was, or even the person I thought I would turn out to be. A long series of small changes leads to a big difference.

Today, that moment of realization occurred when I had a glass of milk. It was a glass of 2% — I normally drink and cook with 1% milk. After a single sip, I remarked on its fatty taste and texture.

I immediately flashed back to my youth, when my family struggled to make it through our weekly budget. One of my cornerstones of my childhood diet was powdered milk. If you dislike today’s fat-free milk, I guarantee you will be revolted by that loathsome bilge of sky-blue fat-free powder-and-water mixture. I have never had that vile Carnation concoction since I finished high school, and hope to never allow it past my lips again.
Time, tide, and tightening belts (due to dietary restrictions, not financial), now have me at the 1% mark. And I prefer it. How times and tastes have changed!

I’ve noted several other changes in my tastes – for example, I now love spinach and grapefruit, foods I could not tolerate until a mere five years ago.

On the non-gastronomical front, things certainly have taken paths I never could have guessed at. As a child, I wanted to be an astronaut veterinarian. My actual career path was solidly grounded on earth, wending through organist, physicist, electrical engineer, software systems analyst, animator, to arrive at my current vocation — writer.

cdo_fb_crop
About the only thing that has been constant through that journey is that I have been blessed, allowed to do the things I love to do.

On the subject of being blessed, my belief system has had a similar multi-directional slog through the spiritual multi-verse — from Moravian, to Jesus Freak, to sullen agnostic, finally re-embracing being born again. My stint as a church organist put me in a unique position to sample all that is right (and all that is wrong) over a wide spectrum of denominations. As a result, my belief system is one that both Catholic and Baptist would shake their collective heads at. The feeling is mutual, friends. My best advice is to remove the log from your own eye.

I don’t say that to condemn, but rather to urge you, dear reader, to try something new. Life is change. Perhaps you should have a try at being boiled. Maybe you already are, you just don’t know it. A moment of reflection, and we all can learn something.
boiled_frog2