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drama, characters, jersey shore…with gifs!

Oh, I am going to admit a dirty little secret. Ready?

Freckles McYoungest and I have been watching old seasons of The Jersey Shore.


Man. I felt filthy just typing that.

It started when we were with Bottled Lightning, and she kind of sort of FORCED US to watch an episode or two. Holy Cannoli. The DRAMA. I couldn’t. Stand it.

We came home to the land of Antenna TV where I guess Freckles watched the rest of the episodes on Hulu or Netflix or something.

I must admit that now–I am fascinated. I honestly have never known people like this. Well, I might have run across them, but I didn’t stick around to see what made them tick.

Now, a couple of episodes into the Miami Season of The Jersey Shore, it’s easy to see who is a kid sowing wild oats:

and who is a frickin’ sociopath.

Favorite quote of the day:

“You stepped on the only toes you had in the house.”

The Situation to Angelina

If you haven’t seen this amazing slice of Americana, let me explain. Approximately half-a-dozen twenty-somethings hang out in a house for a couple of months near the beach and party. Oh yeah. Occasionally they go to a minimum-wage job. Mostly they get drunk and have Drama. (Please note the capital “D”.)


Thank you for asking.

Teens aren’t manufacturing their drama. There stuff really IS as big as they’re feeling it. First love. Choosing and getting into the right college. Losing your best friend. Standing up to peer pressure. Enlisting in the army. Deciding what to believe in, independent of your parents. Yeah. That’s big.

These guys on the Jersey Shore? They’re stirring up trouble, just so they can feel alive.

So there you have it, writers–the difference between flat characters and ones you can build a story on. You can’t put my characters’ day into a few gifs.



steamed punks

Steampunk: the new old genre.

Jules Verne and H.G. Wells are the fathers of Steampunk, what with Captain Nemo’s Nautilus:

and the Time Traveller and his machine:

The word “Steampunk” conjures thoughts of gears, goggles, parasols and petticoats.  Ingenious technology paired with Victorian sensibilities.  It’s often easier to show someone a picture than try to explain the Steampunk genre in words.

Sure, the trappings are cool–the computer with the fine oak cabinetry, the steam-powered bomb factory, the button-up leather coat.  But isn’t it interesting that Steampunk stories are generally set around the Victorian Era–and not past around 1930?

Why?  You ask.  Why? Why? Why?

Well, you’ve come to the right place, my dears.  I have all your answers.

Steampunklandia is a safe place to play.  To challenge ideas.  Like who should be considered strong or weak, who is appealing and who is repugnant.  Even who is right or wrong.

Once upon a time authors wrote about any human being they wanted to, in any fashion they wished,  with impunity.  The Pinhead.  Jo Jo the Dog-Faced Boy.  The Snake Girl.  But now, it’s no longer popular to write about characters as OUTLANDERS.  Our society has come to understand that we are all human beings, even the most seemingly different among us have the same fundamental desires and needs, and the right to respect and dignity.

Now, take the gal on the right:

You are not going to get away with writing about this little lady in a straight novel.

If an author wants to write about a gypsy in a modern-day novel, she will have to shed light on the historical context of gypsies: how they’ve been persecuted, their culture, lifestyle, migration patterns.  Heck.  She won’t even get to call them gypsies.

But in a Steampunk  book, there is an alternate universe she can populate with all kinds of clichés and politically incorrect characters, because it is OTHER.  Steampunklandia may feel familiar, but it is not our world.  We have permission to enjoy any character the author cares to dream up.

I think it’s a good thing that we demand gypsies aren’t just silly, two-dimensional characters in our literature any more.  That we want to know their real story.

But come on.  Somewhere deep in a guilty little corner of your soul…don’t you miss stuff like this?

sing for your supper


We have returned from the Valley of Pigflu.

Hope you are well too. Though what I’m writing about today makes me a little heart-sick.

Seems nursery rhymes are dying out. The London Telegraph reports that modern parents find them old-fashioned and uneducational.  Harumph.

I sensed the first stirrings of this 20 years ago, when Boywonder was young enough for playdates.  When the living/rumpus room was a wreck and blocks had gone from stackable objects to missiles, I would settle the boys down on the couch for a book or two.  Out would come good ol’ Mother Goose.  Boywonder could recite the rhymes with me–and Visitor?  Never heard ’em before.

Child abuse!

Nursery rhymes were a huge part of my childhood.  Song lyrics.  Games.  Books.  What an easy transition from memorized poems to reading those poems on the page.

Rhythm and rhyme.  Babies learn motor coordination in poems like Pat a Cake and This Little Piggy.  Surely nursery rhymes pattern young brains to appreciate Ode on a Grecian Urn and Leaves of Grass later in life. Listen to the rhythm:

Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross
To see a fine lady upon a white horse
With rings on her fingers and bells on her toes
She shall have music wherever she goes.

I don’t know about you, but that nursery rhyme makes me feel like setting a 2-year-old on my knee and bouncing her around while she giggles.  And don’t forget to pinch her little fingers and toes at the appropriate parts.

I could always pull several dozen nursery rhymes out of my skull at the drop of a hat.  When Bottled Lightning was four, she and I had a nursery rhyme-off at the car repair shop.  Now that I think about it, that’s damn weird.  But, hey.  That’s how we roll.

My nursery rhyme roots go back to my grandmother, who was born in 1885.  She grew up educated, but very poor.  Eventually, she became a leading member of the DAR and a well-known genealogist.  At that time, it was a woman’s only way out of obscurity.  Her grandmother recited the rhymes to her, and I will recite them to my grandchildren.  Imagine.  The very same poems, entertaining seven generations.

I can’t end this post without adding my favorite nursery rhyme of all time.  I don’t know why, but this is it:

Bobby Shaftoe’s gone to sea,

With silver buckles on his knee:

He’ll come back and marry me,

Pretty Bobby Shaftoe!

Bobby Shaftoe’s fat and fair,

Combing down his yellow hair;

He’s my love for evermore,

Pretty Bobby Shaftoe.

Tell me your favorite nursery rhymes.  Come on, guys.  Don’t let me down!

the answer, my friend, is blowin’

#1  The Great Gazoo

#2  Drive Ins


#3  Klackers.  (I know what you thought.)

“Clackers came on the market in the late 60s and lasted into the early 70s. Clackers were never made of glass. The kinda looked like glass but they weren’t. They were made with acrylic balls, (very dense type of plastic material) on a string with a ring or small handle in the middle. Some had no ring or paddle.. but just as easy to use. The point was to get the two balls going and have them “klick” against each other. You would build up momentum until they were hitting on the top and bottom in an arc. Very hard to do at first. I still have never done it! Then you would just keep going until you drove people around you crazy with the noise.”

#4  Heckle and Jeckle


4 correct answers……..Holy Toledo.  You still breathin’?

3 correct answers……..How long have you been a member of AARP?

2 correct answers……..Student of Pop Culture

1 correct answer……….You’ve been browsing youtube, haven’t you?

0 correct answers………Spend some time with your grandma

Okay, ’nuff fun.  Back to reading, writing and kidlit next week.

try this on for size, you whippersnapper

Let’s test how old you are.

#1  Who is this character?


#2  What venue was this  written for?  (Extra points if you actually SAW this at its intended venue.)

#  3  What in blue blazes are these?


#  4  Can you name these guys?


Try to get some sleep.

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