Monday, February 19, 2018

Random Complaints about the Olympics

I’m in a mood to complaint today, so this blog will be a collection of minor annoyances about the Olympics. Feel free to add your own complaints in the comments section. You know you have plenty of them. Just keep it clean; your grandmother reads this blog.

1. I feel sad for that poor French ice dancer who had a serious wardrobe malfunction on live, international television last night. Sure, it’s the kind of horrible luck that could afflict anyone, but there are some precautions you can take to avoid stuff like this. Particularly, don’t choose an outfit that uses only one small snap behind your neck to protect your assets from exposure to the whole wide world. It’s hard to believe that the costume designer didn’t learn that lesson on Day One of costume design school. Always have redundant systems to protect those assets! How about two or even three snaps? A zipper? Maybe adhesive cups under the costume in case something goes horribly awry?2. Since when do they have skiers in the halfpipe? Is this new, or have I just been missing it all these years? It looks weird because I’m so used to the snowboarding. Which is harder? Who knows/ I’ve never been able to work up the courage to even get on a ski lift, let alone take it to the top of a mountain and somehow get off to slide down. The tow rope on the bunny hill taxed my limited skills.
Image result for curling image 3. Russian athletes are competing under the Olympic flag instead of the Russian flag because apparently some of them had tested positive for doping.. Many Russian athletes were still allowed to compete, because they had not tested positive for drugs. Today it was reported that one of the Russian curling athletes who’s still in the Games tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Curling!?! Their sport consists of sweeping while gliding at low speeds. Who needs steroids to do that? At this point, it seems like the Russians aren’t even interested in achieving anything—they’re just curious what they can get away with.

4. The winter landscapes in South Korea are beautiful, but it makes me cold to look at them. After spending years trying to survive the frigid, windy wasteland of Chicago winters, just the sight of an ice cube tray can give me goose bumps. Winter sports would be much more pleasant if they happened during the summer.

5. Some of these sports are ridiculously dangerous, and it makes me wonder what the point is. During the women’s slalom, for instance, every single skier who came down the mountain did so while the commentators listed the athlete’s serious recent injuries. Just now, a halfpipe ski woman limped off the course after crashing on her last trick. I thought exercise was supposed to be good for you, but certainly not if you’re an Olympic skier. Or the luge. Don’t even get me started on the luge.

Less than one week to go until Olympics 2018 is nothing but a collection of statistics to be largely forgotten until commentators bring them up during the next Olympic Games. Enjoy!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Lessons from the 2018 Winter Olympics

It’s Olympics time again! I’m not an athlete by any definition of the word, yet I’m enthralled by the Olympics for some reason. For that reason, nothing will be accomplished at my house while there’s the possibility of watching Shaun White slide around a halfpipe. It’s better to just admit it and enjoy the ride. I’ve learned a few things since Thursday when I started watching the Olympics nonstop:

1. Bling is appropriate attire for all figure skaters—both male and female—as well as commentators and spectators for figure skating events.

2. Female athletes in practically all other sports have long hair that hangs out the back of their big knit ski caps with pompons on top. Under those hats, you’ve got some serious cases of hat-head.

3. Even if you nearly died in pursuit of excellence in your sport, that doesn’t give you an excuse to quit and get a less hazardous job. One year after being in a medically induced coma, you must be back on the ice, slopes, etc. and you will be called “brave” or “heroic” because of your lack of concern for your own personal safety.

4. Age 25 is old. Age 30 is ancient. Anyone over 35 in the Olympic Village must be either an athlete’s mom or Katie Couric. 

5. Many of these sports are nothing more than elaborate practical jokes. Curling comes to mind. Other “sports” like the luge, started when a couple of bored Scandinavians were looking for something to do during their 15-month-long winter. One guy said, “Here, hold my beer.” Next thing you know, Sven is sliding down a mountain on a piece of wood duct-taped to a couple skates. Since Sven was unlikely to survive, Lars got to drink his beer.

6. You don’t have to be from a country in order to represent that nation in the Olympics. It’s unclear why. That seems like the basic point of this entire exercise, yet plenty of people are representing countries that they have never even travelled to. Seriously. They don’t speak the language and couldn’t identify that nation’s capital. Yet, there they are, skating (or luging or skiing, etc.) their hearts out for the fine people of ___­____ (insert random country name here).

7. Most of this is pretty meaningless in the grand scheme of things. None of these athletes are doing anything that’s particularly beneficial to humanity or our planet. Is it important to know how fast an 18-year-old can ski a course of bumps and jumps? Not really. It won’t cure cancer or eliminate hunger or fix global warming. It’s nice that people from nations around the world can get together and live in one little village for a few weeks without killing each other, but keep in mind that they’re all locked in serious competition with one another the whole time. It’s not like they’re all there for a drum circle or something.

It's time to get back to my TV. At any moment, Shaun White might find himself on the side of a snow-covered mountain, and I'm going to see every moment of it.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Full to Bursting

Moving to a new city is hard. Moving to a new city when you’re a kid and it’s the middle of the school year can seem impossible. That’s what’s happening to seventh grader John Regan in the new novel Full to Bursting, coming next week from Kissing Frog Books. He doesn’t want to move, but since his dad is being transferred for work, he doesn’t have much choice. He’s convinced he’ll be as lowly as an earthworm crawling along on his belly through the hallways of the new school.

I wrote this book a few years ago and originally published it under a different title. To put it mildly, it didn’t exactly set the world on fire. That said, my husband insists it’s his favorite story I’ve ever written. Then I found a book cover that suited it perfectly, and I decided it was time to give it a fresh start. It’s funny and optimistic and doesn’t have any monsters in it at all. I hope lots of people read it and enjoy it. If you do, could you please post a review on Amazon or somewhere? As a big thank you, I’ll be posting a discount coupon on Smashwords when Full to Bursting is released.

Thank you and happy reading!

Monday, January 29, 2018

Illinois Roadtrip with Mothman and Bigfoot

You know how your hometown always seems dull and sleepy? That's even true when your hometown is a big city like Chicago. In my case, it seemed like nothing exciting went on in Chicago when I was growing up there, but now that we've moved away, my city has gone and gotten more interesting. It's gotten so interesting that Mothman decided to start hanging around there.

Mothman is one of those creatures like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster that many people claim to have seen, but for which convincing physical proof has yet to be found. Mothman was originally seen in West Virginia decades ago, and some believe his presence signaled impending disaster in the form of a bridge collapse. Anyway, in December, 2017, more than 50 Chicagoans claimed to have spotted a Mothman-type creature in the Chicagoland area.  We have to hope that his presence doesn't mean disaster for the Windy City.

In addition to Mothman lurking around Chicago, another semi-mythical creature has recently been spotted in Illinois. According to Cryptozoology News, a red-headed Bigfoot was hanging around south of Chicago. Was he—like so many others—just looking for Mothman? It's impossible to say.

The problem with these sightings is, of course, that they didn't happen when I still lived in Illinois. With my forthcoming novel Sasquatch CSI on my mind, I've been indulging my interest in cryptozoology (i.e. the study of creatures like Bigfoot). The stories are fascinating, and I look forward to doing more research. In the meantime, I might need to plan a trip home to visit the family in Illinois. As research for the next book, it's tax deductible, right?

Monday, January 22, 2018

Dangerous Little Cats

My house is overrun by rescued cats because 1) I'm a sucker for cute, cuddly creatures and 2) there are too many homeless cats that somehow find their way to my house and, as previously mentioned, I'm a sucker for cute, cuddly creatures. Anyway, you'd think an animal that weighs only ten pounds wouldn't be too dangerous to have around, even if that animal is a carnivore with sharp claws and pointed teeth. I found out otherwise the other day.

Every morning I do a little five-minute yoga routine that's loosely based on the "Sun Salutation" (for those familiar with yoga). The last pose involves standing on one foot while the other leg is lifted and bent. No problem; I've done it a million times.

One day last week, my cat Jem decided to try his paw at yoga. Unbeknownst to me, was sitting on the floor under my bent leg during the pose. When I was done, I put my foot down, expecting to find a solid floor, but instead found Jem. He wasn't happy about having me suddenly standing on top of him. He took off, and my foot went along for the ride. Next thing I knew, my legs had done the splits, and I was on the floor. Unfortunately, I'm not limber enough to do the splits.

You know that second after you realize you've injured yourself, but before the pain kicks in? That anticipation is the worst. In this case, the anticipation didn't last long because my legs started hurting quickly, but I knew it would be even more painful in a couple days. As I've gotten older, it takes longer and longer for the pain to truly settle in after I hurt myself. By now, it's up to about three days of lead time.

Sure enough, three days after the cat yoga incident, I was hobbling around the house, not sure which leg hurt more, so unsure which one to limp on. My greatest fear is that this time, the worst of the injury won't manifest until four or even five days later. If it gets too much worse, I'll have to check into a hospital and ask them to put me in traction.

Meanwhile, the cat who caused all this trouble is in perfect shape; no ill effects for him. Someday, in a decade or two, when I'm in any condition to do yoga again, the cats will have to be locked out of my room. I'm clearly too old to combine exercise with cat rescue.