Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Last year, at the urging of my husband and curiosity, I lost nearly 30 hours and 30 IQ points watching and ragging on the CW's Arrow. It is a delightfully stupid show set in a land where people are arrested and go to trial in the same day, killing lawyers is a misdemeanor on par with littering, and there are 50,000 bounty hunters to every one therapist. (Do not even get me started on the insane man who was running the operations on the island with the attention span of a cockatoo; I'm gonna miss that guy.)

I am uncertain if I will wade into Arrow season two, a good 75% of watching was for John Barrowman and seeing if they would have Tommy discover a letter from his dead mother telling him she never loved him. So to fill that superhero show void this year, I turned to Marvel's SHIELD produced by the nerd god Joss Whedon.
It opens with a father dropping off his kid in front of a display of movie tie-in toys as he goes all spider-man (but we can't invoke the web slinger or risk Sony's wrath) scaling a burning building. He tosses a hood over his head because everyone knows covering ones eyes can stop smoke inhalation, to rescue a random woman. After plummeting to the ground with her, the most annoying person in the history of everything! snaps his picture and shares it to the world.

Okay, enough intro, now to SHIELD. The "not mother despite dragging that dead end relationship for 8 years" from How I Met Your Mother is interviewing the blandest bland to ever bland the blanding. I am god awful at names so I shall dub him Bland Archer and mentally put him in black turtlenecks. She wants Bland Archer to do some mission they all refuse to explain to their main field agent because of liability (can't get sued when it all goes to hell --and it will, as you never explain the details of any job-- if he has no idea what he's getting into, I guess).

Now for the big shocker everyone's known since the show was announced a year ago, Coulson is alive!

As a throwaway, I joked that Fury keeps about 1,000 Life Model Decoys of Coulson around...and then the show went and hinted that that's the case with a bunch of Tahiti references. It was so obvious I really hope they don't drag this secret out for a full year or on. It'll start to get really sad by month two.

Anyway, Bland Archer keeps throwing a fit about how he's not a people person, he likes to run in, bore half naked trophy wives and get his ass kicked. Because a secret agent who's terrible with people is a great investment there SHIELD. How about a pilot with a major inner ear problem? An ammunition expert who's deathly allergic to gunpowder? A chef afraid of fire?

For a brief second Shepard Book appears on screen. Half of the internet is shrieking for Shepard to talk about the special hell, and in that time he's already vanished again.

Time to cut back to the Cape-Of-The-Week, as he's sitting in the same dingy cafe every show that needs dingy cafes use. He's minding his business flipping through job ads in a paper (how quaint), when the most annoying person in the history of everything! drops into his booth and will not shut up! It's like Gilmore Girls on fast forward as dictionaries dribble from her mouth about how evil SHIELD is. Perhaps we're supposed to forget the previous Marvel entrees and side with crazy anti-something who, despite living in a van and being off the grid, looks like a sears catalog version of Megan Fox. Totally believable there ABC, everyone in Anonymous looks just like that.

Thankfully, generic Megan Fox scampers off and that scene is mercifully done. But we still have more of the members of SHIELD to introduce. Needing an engineer and bioenginner to provide their weekly Deus Ex Machinas, Coulson went off and hire the Luteces. No, that's unfair. The Luteces are 10 Times more awesome and babble far less.

For being an International (yeah, really) spy organization, SHIELD either must have no budget, forced to hire kids who can't have even gotten their bachelors much less a PhD, or are trying to get around paying them at all by calling it an internship. Bland Archer is maybe 25, so okay, field agents could die a lot from rampaging Norse gods gifted their powers from a toilet struck by lightning. But why, why in the why of why would your science experts barely be able to shave? Either of them really. That girl's, what? 18? She wouldn't look out of place playing as a high school student, though in Hollywood 30 year olds still wander locker filled halls so I may have disproved my own thesis there.

Okay, can't keep bitching about the impossibly stupid young age of your experts when there's one more person to cryptically introduce. She shall forever be known as the Pilot because that was all Coulson argued with her about, driving what everyone kept calling the bus. I think we were all supposed to chuckle over the fact it's really a plane but why would two people who know it's a plane keep calling it a bus? The Mystery Van could have been a joke, but constantly calling a plane a bus just makes it seem like they never quite perfected robot Coulson's software and everyone in SHIELD has to humor him lest he explode.

Asian pilot, who of course knows martial arts as opposed to shooting the armed man (I'm getting ahead of myself here), agrees to fly the bus because otherwise she'd be sitting all alone in the dark computer farm of SHIELD because they must have had their budget sliced to the bone after New York battle (hence the interns in the science labs).

Having exhausted all the new characters in SHIELD the camera aggravatingly cuts to generic Megan Fox drolling on about how awesome she is at hacking, how she somehow has unlimited wifi in her van that must be the most foul smelling thing this side of a sewage plant, how she's bringing the Truth, Justice and The American Way! Oh crap, wrong company. Just as I want to reach through the screen and strangle her to stop, Coulson yanks open her door and does just that. (Gets her to stop, not so much the strangling alas)

I love this man! Thank you sweet SHIELD agent for doing just what we prayed you did.

Having brought together what is obviously going to be the "new hire" to start a series (I'm sorry, I'm so sorry) and SHIELD, we go back to Cape Of the Week, who's starting to go on a rampage in a factory. We learn that he was injured and fired, then thanks to something called centipede on his arm has gotten super powers.

Does...does that not sound a lot like the plot of Iron Man 3? Helping people who are injured and lost limbs to heal then get powers? Almost exactly like it, in fact?

Because we can't focus on the action we cut back to the "interrogation" of generic Megan Fox. She's being excessively teeth grating, batting her eyelashes and talking up her awesomeness. So Coulson does quite possibly the stupidest thing since he got stabbed by Loki. He takes an agent who has level 7 clearance, something even Iron Man and the rest don't have, gives him a truth serum and leaves him alone with the woman who threatened to expose all of SHIELD's secrets to bring him down.


Luckily, all generic Megan Fox gives a shit about is Bland Archer's grandmother, Paris, and if he thinks she's pretty as she yanks off a probably putrid and last washed 5 years ago jacket. So maybe Coulson was banking on her being as gullible as she is stupid.

Now all the bit players are working together. The Luteces are playing with their toy drones, looking over the explosion and learn that there was another centipede supe that exploded, causing the fire...just like in Iron Man 3.

As that's going on, Cape of the Week visits the woman he saved who first has to pretend she's all happy to see him, then as the nurse leaves she launches into cursing him out for drawing attention to his super powers that they gave him from some magical chemical mix of taking everything that created super heroes -- from gamma radiation to the super soldier serum --  plopping it in a bucket and dumping it into the first guy who wandered in. Surprise, surprise, this hangover cure isn't working and Cape of the Week is about to explode.

Are we supposed to keep pretending this isn't a rehash of Iron Man 3? Seriously? Fine...

Generic Megan Fox gets her ass kidnapped by Cape of the Week, who wants her to erase him from everything. You may have deleted him from the DMV, but you're never getting away from those student loans. Those guys are liches, you can't kill them unless you destroy their soul stone. This is all leading to a showdown at a train station.

Coulson orders the Luteces to find a cure for Mr. Exploding in an hour, which is probably when he's seriously regretting hiring a pair of interns before heading to the train station. The Luteces run around in their lab doing "sciencey" things and mostly talking over top each other. I'm getting a headache from the constant nothing-babble.

Bland Archer confronts Cape of the Week by jumping on his back like an exhausted child. This works about as well as you'd expect as his spine should have cracked in three places from his trip through the air. Instead he rolls up and attacks again, because stupid secret agents never learn.

Coulson calmly grabs Cape of the Week's kid to keep him safe from the coming bloodbath/explosion. Seeing as how Archer's completely fucked everything up, they throw another crab into the mix as evil, nondescript fake cop from evil, nondescript villain company brings a shotgun to a superhero fight and also screws it up. He gets his fake cop ass kicked by the pilot, I suspect we're all supposed to go "Wow, she's not just a pilot." I kept thinking, "he's armed, why are you not shooting him? No wonder you were kicked back to the computer farm."

Cape of the Week is understandably angry after what's been a very bad day dealing with the press, generic Megan Fox, his boss, generic Megan Fox again, and getting some shotgun blasts to the guts, so he's burning as Coulson approaches. They show Bland Archer up in a sniper perch, probably chatting with Hawkeye, who's been ordered to not shoot Cape of the Week unless necessary.

Coulson talks about great power, great responsibility, gods, supes, death, a whole bunch of stuff to run out the clock with Mr. Glowing Skin (though they've backed off on it now because CGI's expensive damn it! We're not making a motion picture here, I think). He offers to help Cape of the Week when Bland Archer goes and shoots him.

But as Cape of the Week lies in a crumple on the floor we see magic bullet turning his skin blue. I assume they just infused a hollow bullet with windex and figured, what the hell, gotta do something! So in an hour, not only did the Luteces manage to find an instant cure, create and manufacture a magic bullet with said cure they also had enough time to travel to the train station through what must have been barricaded by police. If it weren't for Generic Megan Fox being an elite hackerz that can erase anyone, that would be the most unbelievable thing they pulled off in the first episode.

So everyone's happy, Cape of the Week is back to being normal Dad with no job and looking down the barrel of a very long jail sentence, the Lutece's are off in their lab flipping a coin, and of course Coulson has to invite Generic Megan Fox to join their group because....

If anyone can think of a good reason for him to do that I'd love to hear it other than BOOBZ!

Final thoughts on SHIELD -- I preferred the story line when it was Iron Man 3, about the only characters I'm interested in are the non-white people and Coulson, but pilots are notoriously twitchy and I'll gladly give it a few more episodes before I abandon ship entirely.

How about you guys create an isolated island, that's still large enough to house a ton of guys in ski masks (despite no one being there to identify them) an air strip, a very crazy Australian man who we're supposed to pretend isn't a villain, and the batshit crazy man running the show? Just a suggestion.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Halloween Haul

We've crossed from the pungent days of Summer into the purgatory before the williowing nights of Winter. Which means in theory all those big box stores have finally gotten their Halloween stuff out, right?


I've been stalking the stores since post-Labor Day and thought I'd share the few things I thought cool enough worth buying and from where.

I'll begin with Big Lots, who usually has stuff out late August (they're sports like that).
 The bat lamp is a little pathway light that's solar powered for $4.
And now my dog can finally be consumed by a dragon.
Wal-Mart last year had a few not too bad options, I was actually surprised and was willing to pay a bit closer attention. Well, it seems to be almost all for naught, as this year housed mostly the same as last year and the few new ones were either coated in glitter or molting.

I had a gift card I wanted to use up and got this.
The ball is terrible plastic (I might replace it with real glass) and the claw bottom is best not spoken of. But I got a mister for about $20 which is about what they go for, assuming you can find one. Has anyone ever used one of the stupid plastic displacers that come with them? Ever?

Target. Oh Target, how you have depressed me so. It used to be Target was good for a gargoyle or two, a few heavy pieces that could actually work. Now it's about 56% party shit, 33% tie-in cheap crap, 3% costumes and 40% dolomite. She's become a hollow pumpkin of her once glorious squash self.
This bowl was about the only thing that piqued my interest, and it isn't plastic. That's 100% someone just broke one behind us porcelain. So do not get if you have kids, pets, or ghosts. Otherwise, it's $15 and not bad.

Menards isn't really a place one would expect to find much Halloween stuff but they have a few pieces from the gothic collection and quite a few light options. I got this eyeballs for $12 in mid-August and then realized oh, everyone has them this year.
I still like 'em.

Contrary to what you'd expect, we actually spend little in the Halloween stores, but once I saw this microwave sticker I had to get it from Spirit.
The head will come off once Halloween is over, but there's a good chance I'll be lazy and leave up the blood prints.

Walgreens, oh how I talked you up the past two years when you had a full 5' skeleton for $30, because damn that is a great deal. Alas, this year there wasn't much. So I got this little crow/raven/black bird/whatever, to add to my wizard table.
 You're going on super secret double probation Walgreens, so watch yourself.

When we start to get really bored and are willing to try just about anywhere for Halloween stuff insert places like Dollar General. Which is a good place to stock up on cheap hair for props *cough*.
A simple window cling for haunting up the bathroom. You're probably supposed to put it on the mirror, but that currently has bats on it so I stuck her onto the shower instead.

They also had some pretty cool looking tarantula sized spiders if you need to stock up, because you can never have enough spiders.

For my last place I'm mentioning a retail store that only exists in Nebraska and Wisconsin so, if you don't live there...sorry?

Shopko used to be a great place, with tons of gothic collection options. It's where I got my bloofer lady, who has a stick shoved up her backside currently. But like everyone else it's been sliding down into pathetic as Christmas lurks on its haunted doorstep.

I got some spider lights for $10.
I'll probably yank off the stupid orange tinsel next year, but otherwise there are a ton of spiders, and the big orange ones twinkle. Twinkling spiders!

I also got myself one of those hard plastic cups that come with their own straw, you know an adult sippy cup, because it had a skull.
And that's what I've found this year that's tripped my fancy. Not much, certainly nothing large, but we can't find $30 skeletons every year....apparently.

Happy Haunting.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Apple Crisp because it's Fall!

According to the internet collective, I'm supposed to be going gaga over pumpkin spice. If you actually read my last post instead of looking at the pictures of the M&Ms and then rushing off to Target to purchase your body weight in them I don't really go much gaga over that spice of the pumpkins. It's okay I guess.

But I will travel across broken glass on my kevlared belly to get one taste of fall.


Specifically tart, crisp, just crossed into season apples. My diet quickly turns into nothing but doctor scourges if I have access to honest orchard apples recently plucked off their bowing branches.

Though this also means if I snag a batch of not as ripe as they once were apples I am overly disappointed and plotting apple demise. So crack out the pastry torture devices jammed in your miscellaneous drawer, it's crisp time!


4       medium tart baking apples, peeled, sliced (4 cups)
1/3    cup plus 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2    cup all-purpose flour
1/2     cup quick-cooking oats
1/2     to 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4     teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3     cup cold butter or margarine
1/4     cup chopped pecans, if desired
1        cup heavy whipping cream
1/4     cup caramel topping 
1        teaspoon vanilla (I added for funsies)
Crank the oven to 375 degrees. I wouldn't recommend doing this during one of Summer's final death throes, unless you really want apples damn it! Grease an 8 or 9 inch pan. I only have 9 and frankly have never seen an 8 incher in my life despite so many recipes calling for one. I think recipe makers are just screwing with us.
 Have your husband, coworker, or fellow apple connoisseur who snuck into the orchard with you peel the apples as you quarter them and curse while chopping out the seeds and tossing some of the leftovers to a dog pacing about your legs.   Toss in 1/3 cup of the brown sugar and coat those apples. I also added in a teaspoon of vanilla because I figured what the hell. The original didn't call for it but when has vanilla destroyed anything? Right vanilla halibut with vanilla red potatoes?   In a large bowl, hear me stupid recipe, not a medium bowl but a large one -- LARGE --  stir together the 2/3 cup brown sugar, the oats, the flour, the cardamom and cinnamon.
 Now comes the part where I toss oats and flour all over the kitchen because I used a MEDIUM bowl as you so instructed Mr. I-know-everything recipe. Cut in the butter supposedly with a pastry blender which looks more like massage paraphernalia used by the 50 Shades of Grey crowd. This is when a much larger bowl becomes necessary unless you really wanted to sow your oats all over the linoleum (just don't write a fanfic about it, please!).   After I'd already finished and had it all in the oven I learned of a much wiser Alton Brown approach to get your butter super hard in the fridge and then grate it into mixture. Sounds much easier, I cannot say if it works or not as I did not do it. Messes are far more fun.   Anyway, once you finished with that dump in the pecans. They give it a lovely nutty pecan flavor and this is coming from someone who hates almost all nuts.
 Now just dump the apples into the greased baking dish, then the crumbles over top. It looks like you tried to bury your evidence of an orchard haul in kitty litter.
 Now just into the oven for 30-45 minutes until the top gets nice and brown and it smells tasty. (how I decide every thing I'm baking is done)
 To make the topping I stuck a bowl in a freezer for about 15 minutes, then filled it with whipped cream (in this case out of a can because it's what I had) and then dropped in some caramel from the ice cream aisle and stirred it all together. I didn't break out the fancy stuff because I didn't have it or want to but it still tasted good, so if you care about pretty follow the original directions. If you just want to eat your apple crisp alone without all of instagram judging you, you can do my lazy approach.   Viola! Apple crisp.
 It's a nice, nutty mix of almost everything fall, with the apples not quite reaching mushy stage and the oats a crisp sweet crunch. All you need is the smell of decaying leaves on a wet afternoon and a couple of starbucks employees to complete the autumnal package.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Pumpkin Spice M&M Cookies

They are real!
 Cue wavy flashback lines.

Back in the height of summer's death rays I spied with my little eye an image, a taunt as it were, that there was a bag of fabled M&M's flavored with that spice that brings all the white yoga pants to the yard. I decided right then and there to make it my mission in life to find and consume chocolates.

My husband considered me insane, and as stores continued to place their meager Hallows Eve offerings up I too began to fear a brain fever brought on this obsession. Then, as Target slowly stumbled out of a summer stupor, an entire display devoted to my fall long quest item.

So now that I have pumpkin spice M&M's what in the hell do I do with them?

Upon first taste they're not really in my cup of tea. I'm not one of those people who goes crazy for the spicing of pumpkins unless it is in pie. They're a teeny bit too strong for my flavor palette (have you ever painted with the colors of your spice cabinet?) but I thought ooh cookies.

These M&M's required a thicker cookie than usual M&M cookies. A hearty chocolate to compliment and partially bury the spice. Ooh I can be lazy and make cake cookies.
If you've never done the lazy cake dough cookie just melt a stick of butter, add in two eggs, pillor in the cake batter dust. I picked german chocolate but in retrospect I think dark chocolate would work as well. Try to form that mass into a ball of dough and then dump in the M&M's. 

I like to put the batter back into the fridge for an hour or so so it's easier to work with.

Then lump up the cookies and it's 8-10 minutes in a 350 oven.
They're pretty good, a cakey cookie with drops of pumpkin spice running like veins of geodes in a chocolate mine.

But I'm not crazy, the M&M's are real and on the wing of the plane!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Verbosity's Vengeance

Way back in July/June/Smarch I offered up my handful of editing services to create a book cover for one of those internet friends PSA's from the late 90s warned us all about. This Monday the book finally drops, plummets, or is launched through space. Below is a little Q&A with the author all about his book Verbosity's Vengeance, a superhero novel that spears grammar.

Available at Amazon for $2.99

Q. Tell us the title and genre of your book. And can you give us a brief summary?

The book is "Verbosity's Vengeance: A Grammarian Adventure Novel". It's set firmly in the superhero adventure genre, but it's full of word nerd humor and clever wordplay.

Q. How did you come up with the title of your book?

The story revolves around the Grammarian, a superhero with grammar- and punctuation based powers. He can fling semicolons to bisect an oncoming plasma wave, stun bad guys with a mixed metaphor and block a bullet with a full stop. He's pursuing his arch-enemy Professor Verbosity, trying to figure out his latest scheme and stop it before he can threaten Lexicon City. The book opens with the Grammarian closing in, but having his carefully arranged plan screwed up by the Avant Guardian, a second-rate hero who's more glory hound than protector of the city. The Avant Guardian's interference sets in motion Verbosity's quest for dominance over the city and revenge over the Grammarian. As if that weren't enough, the Grammarian also has to deal with his own attraction to a beautiful college professor with a thing for superhero technology.

Q. Grammar-based superpowers? Where did that come from?

I had a ringside seat for one of the perennial internet squabbles over grammar. As the Follow The Rules Brigade was waging war on the Say It However You Want Squad, I thought how much fun it would be to have someone who could embody grammar itself. The rules of grammar exist to facilitate clear communication. They're not a dusty set of arbitrary orthodoxies at all; they are the tools by which clarity of thought and expression connect the writer and the reader. That's the real power of grammar. Who better to carry that banner than the Grammarian? Even better if he uses it to fight the forces of mindless prolixity embodied by Professor Verbosity?

Q. Which character was hardest to write? What made them a challenge?

In some ways, Professor Verbosity was the hardest. I had to give him a real motive for wanting to take over the city. I mean seriously... who goes to the trouble of building a complex superweapon when AK-47s are cheap and plentiful? What could make him a) raise his sights so far, and b) make him believe he could get away with it? I say that he was the hardest to write, but I'll admit that the solution I came up with was so compelling, it made the entire finale of the book fall neatly and convincingly into place.

Q. What other books are similar to your own?  What makes them alike?

"Verbosity's Vengeance" is firmly in the tradition of the realist superhero, the one who has to repair his armor and balance his nighttime daring-do with his day job. In that sense, there are parallels to Hawkeye/Hawkguy. The wordplay and word nerd humor is right in line with "The Phantom Tollbooth" and the Thursday Next books.

Q. What are you working on now?

I don't want to go into any detail about it, but it's a science fiction novel that is considerably darker than "Verbosity's Vengeance".

Q. Finally, give us a excerpt from "Verbosity's Vengeance".

A gruesome sentence flew toward the Grammarian, blasted from the barrel of Professor Verbosity’s latest weapon, the Concept Cannon. Festooned with a dozen hook-like prepositional phrases, the complex construct spun widely to ensnare the superhero. Anticipating the attack, twin thunderclaps exploded from the Grammarian’s gauntlets as he fired a powerful pulse of parentheses from one hand and a simultaneous shower of semicolons from the other.

The punctuations found their marks, creating nodal points that shattered the sentence into a cloud of fragments. With an electric shriek of memetic energy, the construct collapsed like an accordion. Discrete, unconnected phrases bent and flexed harmlessly around the Grammarian.

“Give up, Professor Verbosity,” he said. “You should know by now that sheer weight of words is no match for the power of punctuation!”

He shifted into a fighting stance and faced his opponent, who had backed to the far side of the room. Professor Verbosity lifted the Concept Cannon and pulled a lever. The barrel swiveled into an angular projection. Blue sparks shone along the length of the weapon as electronic circuits reconfigured themselves.

“Is that so, hero? Let’s see how well you can withstand my Redundancy Ray!”

“You need a new bag of tricks, Verbosity. I’ve already seen that a dozen times. Now, give up!”

The supervillain smiled in response.

“You always try to bluff your way out of difficulty, don’t you, Grammarian? I can’t say I don’t admire the attempt to win with words instead of brute force, but in this case, I’ll use both.” The weapon in his hand was now shaking with barely contained power, long plasma streamers flowing from end to end. “True, my Redundancy Ray is an old favorite, but I haven’t shown it to you since I added the Rephraser Refractor!”

Blue lightning exploded from the weapon. In less than a second, a million microfilaments of memetic concept energy wrapped themselves around the Grammarian. Knocked to the ground by the force of the impact, he had no chance to react before the energy coalesced into a single, coherent sentence. Within the densely convoluted word-construct, the Grammarian was immobilized.

It’s about time he pulled out a real weapon, the hero thought. If I’d had to duck and dodge much longer, he surely would have begun to realize that I was holding back.

Professor Verbosity laughed in triumph, delighted to see his foe struggling in the grip of the memetic energy his weapon was projecting. The Grammarian struggled even more vigorously and threw in a growl of frustration to enhance the effect. For a moment, he thought he might have overplayed the acting, but the hero could see that Verbosity was convinced of his triumph.

Supervillains are suckers for cliché, the Grammarian thought, every one of them.

“You’ll never win, Professor Verbosity!” He spit his archenemy’s name with obvious contempt. Pinned to the floor under the weight and complexity of shimmering word-memes, he fought for breath as his bonds grew ever tighter. Now, his gasping was only partly exaggerated for effect. Although allowing himself to be captured was part of the Grammarian’s plan to trick Verbosity into revealing his latest plot, Lexicon City’s smartest hero feared that that he’d underestimated his foe.

Professor Verbosity laughed. “Ah, my dear Grammarian,” he replied, “I have already won, insofar as the first and most crucial step in winning is to render you utterly and completely helpless. These sentences are not only long and complex enough to entangle you completely while you try to parse out subject and object amid the subtending and supporting prepositional and participial phrases, they are also perfectly correct grammatically, which renders you powerless to break free!”

Under the triumphant gaze of his nemesis, the Grammarian was indeed struggling, completely snared in the thick ropes of words. He tried to find some flaw, some grammatical mistake that he could exploit. With all his super-powered lexicographical might, he scanned and rescanned the sentence, though it was blindingly painful to do so. Being captured was part of the plan; being rendered unconscious was not. He wanted some avenue of recourse if he needed to go to one of his backup plans.

Unfortunately, Verbosity had gone to great lengths this time, figuratively and verbally. If only there were an inconsistent verb tense, a dangling or misplaced modifier, even an intransitive verb used transitively, but there were no grammatical mistakes to latch onto. The Grammarian needed to get to the bottom of his foe’s plot and time was running out more quickly than anticipated.


"Verbosity's Vengeance: A Grammarian Adventure Novel" is on sale at Amazon for $2.99.

Tony Noland is a writer and editor in the suburbs of Philadelphia. His blog is at , and you can find him on Twitter as @TonyNoland, and on Facebook at

Monday, September 9, 2013

All Hallows Read Posters 2013

Edited to add: 2014's posters are up and ready to go. Come one and all to download!

 It's that time again.

All Hallows Read is creeping in and what better way to celebrate the danse than with a macabre book or twelve?

I've got four new posters for this years festivities that anyone's free to download and print off themselves. All you need to do is click on the image, then right click and save to print off later.

There are also the ones I made last year, the spiders and bats and mummies.

Or the Universal Hammer Monster posters from 2011.

None of them have a year date, so they can be reused whenever one wishes.

Okay, now to get to the posters.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Splicer Mask

Moving on from heart stuff, I did accomplish something aside from bleeding all over the floor this past holiday weekend, I made a splicer mask:

Before you scroll down, you might want to steel yourself if you played Bioshock.

And for those who have no idea what I'm talking about:
That's a spider slicer.

Done screaming? Want to make it yourself? It's actually rather easy.

While wandering the early halls of Halloween stores, my husband found a black bunny mask intended for women trying to be sexy in the piles of holey panty hose. We both looked at each other as a chill jumped up our spines.

Cohen? Cohen.
Of course their masks were white so out comes the spray paint. I actually used the fact it was black underneath to my advantage by not spraying the sides as thick to give a shadow illusion. It also helped to age it a bit.
After that it was the but numbing decorating with some gold paint, a brush, and a lot of time. For the gold filling I'd water the brush to get a thinner layer than the "pipping" lines.
The blood's always the most fun. I get three colors, a red, a crimson, and black. Dip a fairly fat brush in water, then the reds and a dab of the black and flop it onto the mask, flick your finger for splattering and just have fun. Your finger will look like a horrific accident when that's done.
Do a few rounds, adding some full paint of the reds or dabs of the black to the middle of extra large pools of blood and when you're done you can add some glaze to make the blood look fresh and shiny.
And that's how I made the extra creepy splicer bunny mask. The rest of the costume is up to my husband.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

My Broken Heart

Labor day. The last huzzah of summer, when everyone's supposed to get out and bathe in the glorious rays of the final warm day before sweaters and hot cocoa move in.

I sat at the back of a waiting room watching a pair of kids exchange war stories; one took a fall and whacked his noggin, another got her hand pinched and lost two nails. A pair of sick babies, fussing over their toys and trying to explain why they're so unhappy to an un-translating world. And there's me, the supposed healthy adult trying to not break down as my body betrays me.

We'd had unimpressive labor day plans, going to see The World's End, but it all shattered when a tingling sensation enveloped first my leg, then jumped to my arm and back again; as if someone kept whacking into my skin with a steel brush. I tried to brush it off, because I'm like a cat when it comes to pain, but it kept getting worse and my brain could only think it's one of two major causes and so off my husband and I trekked to the hospital.

As I was checked in, a nurse was called for immediately and they had me smile and move my eyes not admitting they were checking for a stroke, then it was back to the waiting room with the others. It was a busy day as we kept being told, unsurprising; holidays are a bit of a death trap and all.

The kids would come and go; one being given a heafty ice pack, another being told her fingernails would grow back letting her Dad breathe a sigh of guilty relief. Even with her hand mangled she still managed to weasel him into possibly letting her get a kitten. Gotta admire her tenacity. Slowly the waiting room emptied out as the familiar face of Nathan Fillion mimed through episodes of a mute Castle on a back tv and I found five things wrong in a beach picture.

By the time I got into a room most of my symptoms had faded only to the occasional tingle; isn't that just like the radiator? Describing my symptoms for the third time, I got a very quick lowdown from the doctor. EKG, MRI, and an IV; all things I'd never had done before. My only trip to a hospital aside from that whole birth thing involved a rope burn to the neck where the doctor didn't do anything (I'm a hard witch to hang apparently), so this is a bit like yanking the training wheels off and jumping onto a motorcycle.

Slipping into those gowns, having to ask my husband to tie it every time, we're left alone again and I flip through the TV to find the meager Labor Day marathons channels offer up when they know everyone's out having fun. A flurry of activity replaces the doldrums and a pair of nurses appear, one pricking into my arm to shove a tube inside, another placing electrode stickers across my chest like a wayward child who got into the arts & crafts locker.

The first IV attempt fails, and the nurse jumps to my left arm, where she sticks again. She doesn't cure aloud but I can feel it in her head as warm blood dribbles down my arm. Apparently my veins are impenetrable. I have the lamest super power known to man.