One wedding and a road trip

We're back!

Didn't notice we were gone, did you? We were, for almost a week, to attend a wedding down in southeast Missouri. It turns out you're not supposed to announce to all the burglars in town when you're leaving, so this is after the fact. We had a great time, except that harvest is in full swing down there and so were my allergies. Naturally, we'll post photos later ... not of my allergies. (It was also sunny and in the mid-80's the day we left. The forecast here in Indiana for tomorrow: 63 and showers.)

Now we're diving into our latest book project, which I'll also have more about later, and will be very busy for the rest of the year.

The New Nude Boob Tube


            There’s some irony in the fact that I’m not as thrilled about naked people on TV now as I was decades ago, when it was almost impossible to find any.

            When cable TV first came to Albion, it excited people in many ways. You could see music videos! You could watch movies on Home Box Office, almost as if you had a box office in your home! They had an entire channel devoted to the weather! How cool is that?

            Another exciting thing was that you could see the channel at all. If you happened to live in a bad place for receiving signals over the airwaves, you could swear every TV show took place in a blizzard. When I was a kid, if you wanted to go from watching three Fort Wayne TV stations to the two more or less visible South Bend stations, you had to physically go outside and move the entire pole the antenna was on.

            I’m not making this up, you whippersnappers.

            But without a doubt, the channel that most excited people of my age was a pay channel called Cinemax. Why? Well, we called it Skinemax, which should give you a clue.

            The first movie I ever saw on HBO was Star Wars. The first movie I ever saw on Cinemax was H.O.T.S., which according to a character in the trailer meant “Hold On To Sex”. Young college woman—who seemed just a little old for college—went topless in this movie. No tops! It also had a plot … I assume.

            Nudity on TV!

            Now it’s hanging out all over the place.

            In fact, there’s a trend on basic cable channels, which are already showing things that thirty years ago you’d have to pay extra for. The trend: Take reality shows that already exist, do them over without clothes, and see the ratings skyrocket.

            Take the dating show, for instance. Instead of waiting to see if they’ll get naked at the end of the date, strip ‘em before they even meet. It’s, yep, “Dating Naked”.

            Take a typical show about a young couple shopping for the perfect home. Instead of stripping the furnishings, strip the couple, and you have “Buying Naked”. They’re nudists, you see.

            The newest is “Skin Wars”, about artists who paint on nude models. But are the artists also nude? It’s only fair.

            Then there’s my favorite: Take a typical survivor show, but have a man and woman in the buff. It’s called “Naked And Afraid”. Wouldn’t you be afraid if your nether regions were directly exposed to everything from mosquitos to poison ivy?

            I’ve seen bits and pieces of “Naked And Afraid”—pardon the expression. Some contestants immediately find something to cover their unmentionables, flying in the face (pardon the expression) of the whole point. It’s like H.O.T.S. with everyone wearing a Mumu.

            The producers are quick to insist that these shows are not about nudity, and one even insisted that “Naked and Afraid” was a family show.

            Well, yeah, if your family lives in the Sunnyside Up Nudist Colony. But let’s face it, the real point of these shows isn’t that people should be comfortable with their bodies: It’s that sex sells.

            As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become interested in plot and characterization. While these shows do indeed have characters, the blurring out of certain body part areas seems to negate the real reason to watch them. Still, it’s a trend that’s not going away as long as there’s money to be made at it. I predict that within the next ten years, nudity will go from rare to common on broadcast TV, too. Imagine, on “Home Improvement”, how much more damage Tim Taylor would have done to himself in the buff. Imagine how much easier it would have been for “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” to kill monsters if they were too busily ogling her body to mount a defense.

            Let’s take a look at how current TV shows would handle this:

            “The Big Bang Theory”. The genius nerds see neighbor Penny naked every day, turning them into slobbering idiots who can’t turn a car key, let alone work out physics equations. As a result they all lose their jobs except for Sheldon, who’s only bothered by how unsanitary the whole thing is.

            “American Idol”. We get still more proof that for what it takes to become a popular singer, looks matter as much as ability.

            “Dancing With The Stars”. Injuries during practice become much more serious.

            “Grey’s Anatomy”. The name gets changed to “Everyone’s Anatomy”.

            “Resurrection”. Now sponsored by Viagra.

            “Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD”. Agent Coulson strips off that perfectly tailored suit to reveal … a perfectly tailored suit. At the network, the suits are puzzled.

            “Survivor”. Pretty much nothing changes.

            In all those crime shows with scenes set in morgues and labs, the characters will be way more careful with the scalpels. You just watch and see.
            And I’m sure you will.

Hey y'all, watch this

When I started to close my garage door last night, the old springs broke and the door dragged me to the concrete in half a second, basically doing a sort of full-nelson body slam on me. The aftermath is a good reminder that my muscularskeletal system doesn't handle sudden wrenching impacts as well as it used to.

It's my own fault, though. Just a day before, noting that this year we'd replaced a dryer, refrigerator, lawn mower, sink, toilet, and microwave, I said those fateful words: "There's not much left around here to break".

Well played, Murphy's law.

Speak of the Devil: High Comedy And Great Chemistry

Speak of the Devil: High Comedy And Great Chemistry: Some links before I get started today. Yesterday having had been a Sunday, we had a  Snippet Sunday  at our joint blog. Lena writes abou...

A Supernatural/Ian Grant Crossover: "A Poor Choice of Alias"

      Determined to drive to Indiana and make up with his family, B-list celebrity Ian Grant is barely out of L.A. when he runs into two cops in a diner--and, as is his nature, decides to mess with them. Which might not have been so bad, but this time around the Winchester Brothers chose a very unfortunate pair of fake cop names.
     The latest of my stories featuring the main character from "The Notorious Ian Grant" as he begins a cross country trip toward the events of the novel. My next might be delayed for about a week and a half due to a wedding and a book contract (!); I have one more fanfiction crossover done (everyone's welcome to suggest another one), and also an all original short story we'll be giving away later on my website.

 A Poor Choice Of Alias

            Could he call it a road trip yet, when he hadn’t even made it out of the city?
            Ian Grant pressed his back against the outside of a diner door, desperately signing autographs, if signing autographs was something one could do desperately. He’d managed to gas up the Mustang and pee before the paparazzi found him—the pee part, especially, was a relief. Now, somewhere on the outskirts of L.A. just off the freeway, he’d been found by half a dozen bored photographers and what were probably the only dozen Ian Grant “greatest fans” on this side of the city.
            “Yes, thanks, here—love the Mohawk. Who’s it for? How do you spell … ah, Krysanthemum with a K, your mother must be very proud.”
            His new adventure had not started off well. He’d had to stop and pick up some toiletries—no way was he going back to face Bethani in that hotel room. The pop star was probably still throwing furniture around to protest the very idea that anyone would dare break up with her before she did it first.
            Nobody recognized him at the dollar store. When he realized the Mustang was down to a quarter of a tank, which would certainly not get him to Indiana, he made another stop and was again not recognized. A guy’s luck had to run out, sooner or later.
            “Gotta go, sorry—thanks!” Ian managed to squeeze through the door and, much to his surprise, no one followed. The fans were apparently content after he signed napkins, breasts, and the side of one head. The photographers were apparently disappointed that he wasn’t drunk and drag racing Justin Bieber, the cheating little bastard.
            Turning in the sudden quiet, Ian took in a diner that Norman Rockwell might have painted. Well, maybe not, but it had the counter and stools, and the line of booths along the window. It also had only two customers, and a woman behind the counter who looked like Betty White with a hangover.
            “What’ll you have, Mr. Grant?” She looked completely unimpressed, which Ian appreciated. The two guys in the booth didn’t seem aware he’d even entered.
            “Cheeseburger, fries, and a chocolate shake, please.” Was that traveling food? Sure it was. Better than baked beans for a long trip in a smallish car.
            “You sit right down, and I’ll bring it out for you.”
            “Thanks.” Turning, Ian faced the two other customers. “Could have used your help back there.”
            Both men looked up in surprise. “Excuse me?” said the tallest, an oak tree of a guy with longish dark hair.
            “Come on, I know cops when I see them—aren’t you supposed to protect the public and prevent riots, and stuff? And most of them had to be underage … isn’t there a curfew?”
            The two men looked at each other.
            “Don’t bother denying it,” Ian continued. “I know cops. I peed on a cop, once.”
            The other man tilted his head. “Must have been the highlight of your day.”
            “No, that came later. Look, you’re both wearing dark suits that you’d obviously rather not be wearing, which means they’re for work. Those striped ties could only be chosen by men on a limited budget with no fashion sense. Since you don’t appear to be happy to see me, those are definitely guns in your pockets. You, you’re the older one and have a more or less military approved haircut, which means either your boss requires it or you’re too busy to mess with grooming. You, you’re the up and coming rookie, and I’d guess from your longer hair that you’re angling for an undercover job, or working one already.”
            Standing back, Ian crossed his arms. “I played Sherlock Holmes in community theater, once.”
            They exchanged another glance, then reached into their pockets. Ian watched carefully to make sure they weren’t the pockets that were happy to see him, but they produced ID’s.
            “I’m Agent Grant,” the older one said. “This is Agent Charles.”
            Say what?
He was still staring at them when hung-over Betty White approached with his food. “Where would you like this, dear?”
            For a moment Ian froze, then he waved his hand toward the already occupied table. “Why, right here with my old FBI pals Grant and Charles.”
            He hadn’t noticed the materials they’d scattered out on the table, along with half-eaten food. The two men hurriedly closed books and laptop lids and moved notebooks aside, looking none too pleased as Ian sat beside the tall one, so-called “Charles”.
            “I’m starving, fellas.” Ian took a sip of the shake, then grabbed the cheeseburger. “Work up an appetite, doing what I do.” He dug into the food.
            Good peripheral vision was a wonderful thing, allowing him to see the glance they exchanged. Finally Charles said, “Um … so, what do you do?”
            “Drug smuggling, mostly.” He took another bite. “You must eat a lot, Agent Charles—you’re big as a moose.”
            Good thing Ian was an actor. He managed not to smile in the silence that followed, until “Grant” cleared his throat. “So—that makes you hungry, huh?”
            “Only when I’m sampling. I’ve got a snoot full right now, I gotta tell you.” He giggled. “Oh, and sometimes the hookers are hard to control, and that burns a lot of calories. Much easier when we’re just smuggling terrorists, but it’s a big organization … I do the job they assign me.”
            The two men sat in silence.
            “Beats the contract killing.”
            To their credit, neither looked scared. More … stunned.
            “Very stressful, even when the cleanup crew comes in. You always worry you’re going to have to kill witnesses. I mean, you feel bad for those people, you know? “ Ian looked up. “Oh, I forgot to introduce myself: I’m Ian. Ian Grant.”
            “Ah … pleased to meet you.” Grant said. “Same name. There’s a coincidence.” Then his eyes suddenly widened. “Wait, Ian Grant the actor?”
“That’s me. I also write and sing a little … I’m like a Renaissance man, only without the class.”
“Hey, I’ve seen some of your movies! I watched you on To Dance With Celebrities, too … can’t believe Alan Rickman beat you.”
“Well, he’s got style, you know?”
Charles’ brow suddenly furrowed, as if he was trying to bring back a memory.
But Grant was still gushing. “I loved Fleshpot Killers—but I have to admit it wasn’t you I was watching most of the time …”
“No—well, you couldn’t, I was killed off in the second reel.”
“Is it true they offered to double your salary if you went full frontal?”
“Yep. Interesting story, that: When I refused, the lead actress decided she didn’t want to go fully Monty either—until they offered her double the pay, then she speed stripped. So the way I see it, I got her a raise.”
“Heh.” Grant grinned. “And she gave me a raise.”
Charles suddenly sat up straight. Thinking Ian couldn’t see him, he gave a quick shake of his head.
The game is up. “Yeah, I couldn’t go all nude—it just wouldn’t sit right with my old man. He’s a famous actor, maybe you’ve heard of him?” He looked toward Charles, who now wore a sheepish expression.
“Your dad?” Grant frowned. “Yeah, big movie star … I can’t remember his first name, though …”
“Charles. Charles … Grant.”
Grant’s face fell. “Oh.”
“Big name. Got an Emmy, two Oscars, three wives …”
“So that’s why you were feeding us that line about being a gangster.”
“Had you going there for a little while, didn’t I?” When they didn’t deny it, Ian poked a French fry in their direction. “Okay, so I was wrong about the cop thing. Let me reintroduce myself: Ian Grant. And you are?”
The two looked at each other, then Grant shrugged. “Dean.”
“Sam”, said the oak.
“And … wait, don’t tell me! Either bounty hunters, or you’re got your own bodies to bury.”
They looked at each other again. Those two looked at each other a lot, didn’t they? But they seemed to share an unspoken bond, like longtime partners, or brothers. “You got us.” Dean raised his hands. “We chase around the country lookin’ for the bad guys.”
Sam nodded. “We’d appreciate it if you kept it to yourself.”
“Not a problem. Besides, I don’t want to embarrass myself by admitting my first guess was wrong, even though my part as Sherlock closed after a week.” Glancing at his watch, Ian bagged up the last few fries and shoved them into his jacket pocket. “This was fun, but I’ve gotta role.”
“Hey, before you go …” Looking embarrassed, Dean grabbed a clean napkin and slid it Ian’s way.
“Well, sure!” Although it seemed egotistical, Ian always carried a pen for cases like this. He scribbled, “To Sam and Dean: May the angels watch over you. Ian Grant”.
Dean’s eyebrow rose as he studied the message, then he carefully laid the napkin on his notebook. “Thanks, man. You got any new movies coming up? Hopefully with that same actress?”
“Maybe.” Standing, Ian waved to hung-over Betty White. “If the trip I’m going on doesn’t work out, I need to be back in three weeks for meetings on a series of books they’re trying to turn into a movie. Have you heard of the Supernatural series?”
Dean began choking. “Sorry—ach—went down the wrong tube.”
“We’ve heard of it,” Sam said with a weak smile.
“Well, I don’t know too much about the property, but we’ll see how it works out. See ya, fellas.”
Ian wanted to get to his car and be on the road before Sam and Dean realized he’d stiffed them for his check. He quickened the pace when he heard a raised voice, just as he reached the Mustang:
“Son of a bitch!”

Speak of the Devil: Beware The Ivory Coast Spammer

My money's waiting in a suspense account!

Speak of the Devil: Beware The Ivory Coast Spammer: Before I get started today, some links for you to look over. Norma wrote about  medical tests . Parsnip had a Square Dog Friday  at her bl...

Frozen Feasting At Fall Festivals


            This time of year, as leaves turn to glorious multicolor, steamy hot days of summer vanish, and autumn decorations go up, I can often be found … crying.

            But it seems everyone else can be found at harvest festivals.

            Harvest fests, as you might imagine, are annual celebrations that take place around the time of the harvest. Makes sense. This would be the harvest of food crops, you understand, not the biannual politician harvest that’s often rotten, anyway.

            Ancient people celebrated the harvest every year because they didn’t like starvation. That was pretty much it. Why else celebrate fall? Did the hunter/gatherers look at each other and say, “Oh, look! The sun is disappearing—we might freeze to death again this year. Let’s party!”

            They did not.

            But possibly the only thing worse than freezing to death is freezing to death while hungry. They were happy to wrest a few grains away from the bugs and birds, so they could fill the storehouses with boxes of Pre-Ricestoric Crispies and Frosted By Next Month Flakes.

            “Good news, honey—we won’t have to eat the kids this year.”

            “Oh, good. Now, about that vacation trip across the land bridge …”

            My home town has a harvest fest in mid-September, and at first glance that doesn’t seem to make sense. Remember, Thanksgiving was originally about being thankful for the harvest, and that’s in November. Unless you’re in Canada, in which case it’s earlier and more polite. (“Do you mind terribly if we take your land and give you smallpox? Thank you so much.”)

            At second glance, harvest festivals in Europe often took place near the Harvest Moon, which is indeed near the autumn equinox, which this year is September 22nd. I know, because for me it’s a day of mourning. It marks that time of year when we get those aforementioned beautiful colors, apple cider, hay rides, cursing over faulty thirty year old home heating systems, covering your entire home with plastic, sobbing into your heating bills …

            Where was I?

            So, it’s not unusual at all for harvest fests to come at the same time as Albion’s, which this year is September 20th and 21st.  I’m okay with that, because there’s at least a chance that the weather will still be warm enough to actually want to go outside to a harvest fest. By the time Thanksgiving rolls around, you know you’re going to be having your holiday indoors, and that you should have your snow boots ready, just in case.

            You know what’s a crazy holiday? Halloween.

            “Hey, there’s frost on the pumpkin—literally! Let’s dress up in costumes that we’ll have to hide under winter coats, then go running around the neighborhood until we’re so cold we have to pour the hot chocolate over our hands so we can thaw them enough to open the candy!”

            Talk about a transition period. I still don’t understand why these controversial sexy adult Halloween costumes ever got popular outside of southern California. “Ooh, your pasty-white skin and uncontrollable shivering are so hot! I mean, not literally hot …”

            The local harvest fests generally come before that, but after the August days when you can’t walk in the streets because your shoes melt. They also give us a chance to spend a weekend ignoring that storm of hot wind-blown bull scat, otherwise known as election season. But there’s one problem I always had with September harvests fests:

            Did anyone ask the harvesters?

            Places like England, where harvest festivals date back to pagan times, have shorter growing seasons, so maybe the harvest was over by then. But here in Indiana, there are still a lot of crops in the field at that point. I mean, Albion’s Harvest Fest has a corn maze. This requires corn.

            Corn crops have to stay up for some time, to provide cover for deer as they lie in wait to jump out in front of innocent cars. Now, I’ve never been a farmer,  because I don’t like to work hard. And I’ll grant you, there’s no time of the year when there’s no work for farmers to do. But if we’re going to celebrate a harvest, shouldn’t there be a harvest, first?

            Maybe this is a break time, giving them a chance to celebrate what they already picked, and rest up for the harvesting to come. Maybe the corn isn’t ready, and they’ve already finished picking from the apple, cake, and lunchbox trees.

            What? I told you I’m not a farmer. Maybe the lunchboxes grow underground.
A wagon ride tour of Albion at the harvest fest in, yes, Albion.

My daughter, son-in-law, and grand-twins a few years ago at the Albion Harvest Fest ... the kids are about twice this age, now.

Ian Grant rocks ... no, wrecks an interview with DM Yates

DM Yates interviews the titular character from “The Notorious Ian Grant” … and things quickly spiral out of control:

“How about you, me, and my publicist go off and make beautiful money together?”

“She (Ian’s sister) lost her best sunglasses in a volcano. A volcano. I lost my best sunglasses in a bar fight with Shia LaBeouf.”