Monday, December 31, 2012

Duck, Quack! Not Gorilla, Grr.

Mrs. Snark dreads entering big box stores. Not because they are crowded or confusing, but rather because Mr. Snark is struck by irresistible wanderlust the moment he crosses the threshold. The man is like a randy tomcat with the seven mile itch.

On a lazy afternoon, Mrs. Snark entered Home Despot with her spouse and child. Miss Bear rode in the cart, contentedly banging away on her new Christmas present, a child pacification device called an InnoTab2. Even though he appeared content to walk beside her, Mrs. Snark watched the mister with a certain inevitable fatalism, knowing he would escape but determined to prevent it from happening.

"Welcome to Home Despot," greeted the friendly man in the orange apron. "Can I help you find anything?"

"Yes, thank you. We're looking for disposable batteries," Mrs. Snark said.

The clerk's eyebrows climbed like Mr. Spock on a fascinating binge. "Disposable, as in one use and then throw them away?"

Mrs. Snark blushed. "Sorry, rechargeable."

"The end cap on register 7."

"Okay, thanks! End cap, aisle 7."

"Register 7!"

"Right! Thanks!"

Mrs. Snark turned back to Mr. Snark, mouth open to speak. She blinked and froze.

BAM! Gone!

Frantic, she glanced about, thinking to catch a glimpse of Mr. Snark but he had vanished. Mrs. Snark spun in a circle, calling, "Mr. Snark? Where are you?"

No sign of the man. Not even a cloud of settling dust marked his departure.

With a sigh of despair, Mrs. Snark committed to a grid pattern search of the big box facility, pushing the cart containing Miss Bear before her. She walked up and down aisles, and then returned along rows, looking the whole time for the missing man.

Miss Bear grew worried. Her baby blue eyes filled with tears. "Da-da!" she cried. "Da-da!"

On the verge of despair, Mrs. Snark returned to the customer service desk. "Excuse me," she said to the manager. "I need for you to announce that Mr. Snark is missing. If anyone finds him, please return him to the service desk. Miss Bear and I miss him very much."

Naturally, right at that moment--lo and behold!

Mr. Snark appeared.

"Do you have everything?" Mr. Snark asked.

"I took one of every kind of rechargeable battery because you weren't here to ask," Mrs. Snark said, pointing to the half dozen packages in the cart. "And I still need duck tape."

"Duct tape." Mr. Snark escorted Mrs. Snark to and end cap full of a heavy duty silver tape bearing a gorilla on the packaging.

"No," Mrs. Snark said, speaking slowly in order to be understood. "I want the original DUCK tape. Gorilla tape won't do."

Mr. Snark's face turned red but a helpful man in an orange apron helped her locate the correct tape. Clutching a double roll, destined for her zombie apocalypse survival kit, Mrs. Snark headed for the check stand.

Another successful trip to Home Despot!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Guest Spot Sunday: Sandra and Woo

Today on Guest Spot Sunday, I'm recommending a fun web comic Sandra and Woo that's always good for a laugh.

Check 'em out!


Novel Nicknames

A long time ago, I read that one of my favorite authors, Steven Brust, gives each of his titles a nickname. For example: 

  • The Rain in Spain (To Reign in Hell)
  • Aw Gee (Agyar)
  • The Kleenex Guards (The Phoenix Guards)

Granted, it's a wiki source, but I've hung out on his website occasionally, and I've seen the nicknames in use. Also, based on personal experience, it seems perfectly plausible.

I knew another writer working on a historical fic. During the course of her research, she agonized over choosing a title, and also finding a historically appropriate name for her hero. Eventually, she chose Gron for her hero, insisting that historical accuracy was more important than whether her reader dissolved into stitches every time the poor bloke's name crossed the page.  Various titles were suggested and rejected. Gron became the inspiration for the working joke title, Gron's Woman, which led quite naturally to Groin's Woman.

I have improvised novel nicknames for own work. My natural tendency is to apply title abbreviations. Thus,  

A Cat's Tale is ACT.  

Learning to Fly, LtF.

I have a paranormal romance title under development, Heart of the Wolf, often referred to as HotW. (What is that W and why is it so hot?)

Hell on High Heels is HoHH.

Obviously, I'm not nearly as clever as Brust. I need better nicknames for my novels...

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Catus Interruptus

I had another post planned for today but Mr. Snark left his drill on the children's toy box and I got distracted. Instead, I want to talk about a serious problem that plagues many cat owners...

Catus Interruptus. Defined by the Urban Dictionary as: When you are in the throes of pleasure and the cat comes in the room, hops on the bed, and throws you off your rhythm.

Most devoted cat owners know that this is a much more serious social issue than it sounds and the problem is not adequately defined. We are faceless, oppressed masses--horny, sex-deprived... Desperate.

According to The Human Society of the United States:

  • There are approximately 86.4 million owned cats in the United States
  • Thirty-three percent of U.S. households own at least one cat
  • Fifty-two percent of owners own more than one cat
  • On average, owners have two cats (2.2) 

In a recent article by Cat Psychology Institute of Massachusetts, studies have confirmed that 75% of all pet cats object to their owners having sex. (Another 75% object to their owners getting a good night sleep, but that's another article.) 

Mr. and Mrs. Snark are personally--painfully--familiar with this phenomenon. One of the three Snark cats is a Siamese named Rocket J. Squirrel.

Rocket J. Squirrel takes issues with his Snark owners trying to get it on. The cat possesses SEX DETECTION radar built on board his cat-brain, right next to the CAN OPENER SOUND ACQUISITION center.

If sex is about to happen in the Snark marriage bed, RJS knows, sensing it from anywhere within a two mile radius. He immediately comes running and then engages in Sex Discouragement behaviors including but not limited to: 

  • Loud, incessant MROWING
  • Nonstop door rattling
  • Furniture walking
  • Bed hopping

And should all else fail:

  • He attacks feet. 

Anyone who has ever interrupted sex to jump out of the bed and chase a noisy cat around a dark room knows what I'm talking about. Oh, yes.

Mrs. Snark has threatened to replace RJS with a dog.

Dog owners, tell me. Is there such a thing as Dogus Interruptus?

Friday, December 28, 2012

A Story About Throw Pillows

I'm going to tell you this story so I can tell you another one.

Mr. and Mrs. Snark have not always been married. In fact, they met a little bit later in life at a party thrown by Mrs. Snark's ex-husband. At this time, Mrs. Snark retained the disillusionment-with-men-and-marriage of all recent divorcees.

However, Mr. Snark was a man on the make and he managed to acquire Mrs. Snark's email address. Allegedly, Mrs. Snark gave him the wrong email address, but like all horny software engineers, Mr. Snark employed All Powerful Google to find the correct one.

Mrs. Snark agreed to a first date, which went well, and a second one soon followed. On their first date, Mr. Snark announced that he had just purchased a racing bike. Mrs. Snark, who worked as an automotive claims adjuster and had heard many motorcycle accident stories, regarded him dubiously. If this man can be domesticated, that motorcycle must go, she said to herself.

Eventually, Mr. Snark invited Mrs. Snark back to his place—boasting he would prepare a meal for her. As soon as she was left alone in the kitchen, Mrs. Snark did what any woman would do and snooped in the fridge.  Mr. Snark only had apple juice boxes, bottles of beer, and a jar of olives in his refrigerator… Egads, add in the fact that the man is over forty and domesticating him appears to be an impossible task.

Mr. Snark owned an amazing cookware set, including a rack for hanging the gleaming stainless steel pots from the ceiling. Altogether, he had all the makings of a gourmet kitchen. The man must be an amazing chef, Mrs. Snark thought. Maybe there's hope for him yet.

In reality, Mr. Snark is a disaster in the kitchen. The man has zero culinary skills to speak of, so Mrs. Snark wound up preparing that meal in the interest of having edible food to consume.

Mr. Snark had been a bachelor for a long time and so he had more than just a man cave. Mr. Snark owned many expensive toys. He had an entire house to himself, filled with man stuff, including a bedroom converted to a computer cathedral and another used as a theater room. His enormous couch was stylish but lacked even a single throw pillow as a nod to creature comforts. 

Mrs. Snark knew she had her work cut out for her, but the man loved Babylon 5 (and owned freakin' FANTASTIC pots), so he had potential. She took him to Bed, Bath and Beyond to purchase throw pillows.

Now, taking a bachelor shopping for throw pillows early on in the relationship is a good way of determining whether he's worth continuing to date. First, he must be willing to spend his own money on making his man cave more comfortable and attractive to the female he's courting. Second, it's a test of his character. If he kicks and screams and acts childish, then he's probably not a keeper.

Mr. Snark passed the throw pillow test with flying colors. As Mr. Snark carried piles of throw pillows into the house, an older gentleman, one of Mr. Snark's married neighbors, looked on. "I see she's taken to domesticating you," he said with an amused smile.

Mr. Snark's furry brow knit and he looked down at the pillows with an expression of belated realization. "Yeah, I guess so," he said.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Ten Dollar Haircut

Mr. Snark has a mustache and beard. For a few weeks a year following a haircut, the man is stylin'. We're talking Tom Selleck with fuzzier eyebrows--very sexy.

The rest of the time, Mr. Snark works as an extra for the Geico neanderthals.

Sunday rolled around and it was time! Mr. and Mrs. Snark headed out for the big event--the Annual Haircut! After breakfast out, we headed out in the minivan with Miss Bear in the backseat.

Now, our town has any number of hair-cutting places, but there's also an old-fashioned barber shop that still has the red and white pole out front to let people know that they double as a dentist. For the low price of just $24.99 one can have their hair cut and a tooth extracted. 

Let's call this place "Connors" for the sake of discussion.*

At Connors, a normal haircut for men runs about ten bucks. And they only accept cash. It's the cheapest haircut around for miles in every direction. 

I know it's cheap because Mrs. Snark's parents moved to Arkansas a few years ago because California was too expensive. However, Mrs. Snark's father still comes back to Cali to get his hair cut at Connors. 

"You can't get a haircut this cheap in Arkansas," says Grandpa Snark. "Especially when you need dental work too."

Back to our story--

Mr. Snark forgot to stop at an ATM on the way over, so he parked in a spot and turned to Mrs. Snark. "Do you have any cash?"

Mrs. Snark thought about it a second and said. "There's the emergency ten in my glove box."

After she forked over the moola, Mr. Snark frowned. "I still need a tip."

Riiight. Mrs. Snark upended her purse and examined the contents. "I have three dollars, three cents plus this breath mint."

Mrs. Snark brightened. "Oh, and a coupon for two dollars off!"

Mr. Snark accepted the coupon as if it bore cooties. "I don't know if I feel right about using a coupon for a ten dollar haircut."

"Grandpa Snark would."  

Mr. Snark went inside. Mrs. Snark and Miss Bear waited inside the vehicle with the windows up and the doors locked, because Connors is not the sort of environment where one takes an impressionable two-year-old.

Fifteen minutes later, Mr. Snark returned, hair buzzed, looking very dapper once again. He also looked rather worried.

"What's wrong?" Mrs. Snark asked.

"Have they opened a rub-n-tug in the back? Because the girl cutting my hair had on a slutty red top and I could easily imagine the words 'Me love you long time' coming from her mouth."

Mrs. Snark's eyes widened. "My goodness, it's a good thing I didn't give you an extra dollar!"

Mr. Snark forked over a crumpled bit of paper. "She also laughed at my coupon."

*Name has been changed to protect me from a libel lawsuit.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Guest Spot Sunday: A Unique Take on the 12 Days of Christmas

Today for Guest Spot Sunday, I'm featuring P.L. Parker's blog because she has been doing a damn funny modern take on the 12 Days of Christmas.  Please take a second to check it out!

Everyone knows the song and the list of crazy gifts that the "true love" bestows upon the poor recipient. The bizarre fowl fetish of the giver has been the source of speculation  and laughter.

One of my favorite spoofs on 12 Days is the following rec, originally posted here.

Miss Agnes McHolstein
69 Cash Ave.
Beaver Valley, CO
Dec. 14, 1986
My Darling,
I went to the door today and the postman delivered a "Partridge in a pear tree." What a thoroughly delightful gift. I couldn't have been more surprised. You're an angel.
With all my love and devotion,

Miss Agnes McHolstein
69 Cash Ave.
Beaver Valley, CO
Dec. 15, 1986
Today, the postman brought your very sweet gift. Just imagine "Two turtle doves." I'm delighted at your very thoughtful gift. They are adorable and I love you for them.
All my love,

Miss Agnes McHolstein
69 Cash Ave.
Beaver Valley, CO
Dec. 16, 1986
Dear Fred,
Oh! Aren't you the extravagant one? Now I really must protest. I don't deserve such generosity as "Three French hens." They are just darling but I must insist, you've been too kind.

Miss Agnes McHolstein
69 Cash Ave.
Beaver Valley, CO
Dec. 17, 1986
Dear Fred,
Today the postman delivered "Four calling birds." Now really, they are beautiful but don't you think enough is enough? You're being too romantic.

Miss Agnes McHolstein
69 Cash Ave.
Beaver Valley, CO
Dec. 18, 1986
Dearest Fred,
What a surprise! The postman just delivered the "Five golden rings"; one for every finger. You're just impossible, but I love it. Frankly, all those birds squawking were beginning to get on my nerves.
All my love,

Miss Agnes McHolstein
69 Cash Ave.
Beaver Valley, CO
Dec. 19, 1986
Dear Fred,
I couldn't believe my eyes this morning as I walked out onto the front porch and there were "Six geese a laying" on my front steps. So you're back to the birds again - huh? Those geese are huge. Where will I ever keep them? The neighbors are complaining and I can't sleep through the racket. I love your thoughtfulness, but -
Please Stop!

Miss Agnes McHolstein
69 Cash Ave.
Beaver Valley, CO
Dec. 20, 1986
What's with you and those fucking birds??? Today I received "Seven swans a swimming." What kind of a goddamn joke is this? These birds shit all over the house and they never stop with that awful goddamn racket. I can't sleep at night and I'm a nervous wreck.
Stop your laughing damn you! It's not funny. Just knock it off with those fucking birds, OK?????

Miss Agnes McHolstein
69 Cash Ave.
Beaver Valley, CO
Dec. 21, 1986
OK Buster,
I think I prefer the birds. What the hell am I going to do with "Eight maids a milking??" It's not enough with all those birds and the 8 maids milking, but they had to bring their goddamn cows! There is shit all over the lawn and I can't even move in my own house. Just lay off me, smartass!!

Miss Agnes McHolstein
69 Cash Ave.
Beaver Valley, CO
Dec. 22, 1986
Hey Shithead,
What are you??? Some kind of sadist??? Now I've got "Nine pipers playing" and Christ do they play! They haven't stopped chasing those maids since they've arrived this morning. The cows are getting upset and they're stepping all over the screeching fucking birds. What the hell am I going to do?? The neighbors have already started a petition to have me evicted.
You'll get yours, bastard,

Miss Agnes McHolstein
69 Cash Ave.
Beaver Valley, CO
Dec. 23, 1986
You Rotten Prick,
Who in hell needs "Ten ladies dancing??" I can't imagine why I call these sluts "ladies." They've been balling the pipers all night long. Now the cows can't sleep and all the goddamn racket around here has given them diarrhea. My living room is a river of shit! The Commisioner of Bldgs. has subpoenaed me to give cause why the building should not be condemned!
I'm sicking the police on you, asshole!
One who means it!!!

Miss Agnes McHolstein
69 Cash Ave.
Beaver Valley, CO
Dec. 24, 1986
Listen Fuckhead,
What's with the "Eleven lords a leaping" on those maids and ladies??? Some of these poor broads will never walk again. The pipers ravaged the maids, gang-banged the ladies, and now are committing sodomy on the cows. All 23 birds are dead. They were trampled to death in the orgy. I hope you're satisfied, you rotten vicious bastard!
I hate your guts, dumbshit,

Law Offices
Badger, Bender & Cahole
303 Knave Street
Chicago, IL
December 26, 1986
Dear Sir:
This is to acknowledge your latest gift "Twelve fiddlers fiddling" which you have seen fit to inflict on our client, Miss Agnes McHolstein. As you no doubt have guessed, the destruction of her property was total. You are advised that all future correspondence with our client should be cleared through this office.
I feel compelled to warn you that if you should attempt to reach Miss McHolstein at Happy Dale Sanitarium, the attendants of that institution have instructions to shoot you on sight. With this letter please find attached a warrant for your arrest.
Season's Greetings,
J. Frank Cahole Attorney

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Zombie Apocalypse

Prior to my first viewing of The Walking Dead last summer, I never gave disaster preparation much thought. I'd lived in California for twenty years and our emergency supplies consisted of a liter of water, a can of beans and a band aid. However, the plight of Rick and his crew changed things for me.

After some online research, I discovered that sells dehydrated food in buckets. Dried fruit, dried veggies, dried meat! All varieties of powdered food with a shelf-life of twenty years! Oh, wondrous Costco!

I placed some orders and our buckets began to arrive via Costco courier. White buckets full of silver packets piled up.  I added a few bulk purchases of my own—a couple hundred pounds of dried beans and rice. The garage began to fill up.

Eventually, Mr. Snark noticed. "Why are you stockpiling food? Do you know something that I don't?"

Mrs. Snark kissed him to shut him up. "It's for the zombie apocalypse. Duh."

"Oh." Wearing a Don't-Ask expression, Mr. Snark shook his head and said. "Well, you're going to need a clean water supply to rehydrate your food."

Well, crap. There are moments when the man has moments of brilliant insight. What would happen to us if a rotting zombie fell down the well and ruined the water supply?  (Well, nothing really, because we draw our water from pipes.)

But still, Mr. Snark had a point.

Back online, back to where it just so happens they sell water storage and purification kits. I placed my order and once again waited for the courier, hoping the whole time that meddling scientists didn't irrevocably alter human DNA before the purchase arrived.

Two weeks later, Mr. Snark found Mrs. Snark filling up a 5-gallon water bladder from the kitchen sink. He frowned and his jaw worked. Don't Ask warred with curiosity and the cat died. 

"What are you doing?" Mr. Snark asked.

"Filling this bag with clean water. We now own twenty of these 5-gallon containers."

"That's a hundred gallons of water," said Mr. Snark, once again proving that he can do math.

"Yes it is. Give me a hand."

"Exactly where do you intend to store this? The garage is already overflowing."

"I'm going to clear out the Harry Potter room under the stairs."

Mr. Snark opened his mouth, and then closed it and shook his head. "What's next? Survival training?" he asked.

Mrs. Snark's eyes lit up. "If the instructor is anything like Darryl, then sign me up!"