Whatever Happened to The Dude?

“..Dude, Duder, His Dudeness. El Duderino, if you’re not into the whole brevity thing.”

Sometimes, there’s a man. When The Big Lebowski concluded, the Stranger took comfort in knowing the Dude was out there, taking it easy for all us sinners. I took comfort in it too. Still I wondered where the Dude wound up? His Dudeness is probably getting up there these days and I find myself pondering time to time his final whereabouts.

Fan theories have been around for ages, but of course in today’s world, a fan theory forum is just a click away, along with fan fiction sites galore. People like imagining how their favorite characters lived out happily ever after, or what might have been their true intentions beneath the film’s narrative. The Big Lebowski has its own share of fan theories, and since no sequel was ever made to the cult film, we’re all left with just our own ideas about Dude, Walter Sobchak, and the rest of the cast.

First I invite you to inscribe your own ideas in the comments, but I’ll share mine too. Like many fans, I also think the Dude had a secret stash (Cash here, not pot, though let’s not rule anything out) which enabled his carefree living. I also believe Maude Lebowski paid what her father promised, plus some more on top for all his trouble. She also kept to her word to not involve “Jeffrey” in their lovechild’s parentage. Eventually the Dude drifted onward. His recollections indicated he has worked from time to time, so I doubt he never had employment again, but he never sought it either. The Dude wound up where eventually many lifetime drifters of his sort do: Portland, Oregon. The Dude is up there today, hanging out in the Southeast quadrant, occasionally venturing northward to Salt & Straw or to a Rogue meeting hall, but mostly frequents the nearest bowling alley (Maybe he’s down at AMF Pro 300 Lanes right now?). If ever someone asks what he does these days, the Dude answers that he’s retired. A better retirement there couldn’t be.

Again I open up the floor to you. Take it easy out there.

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Dandelions Everywhere

Swiped from The Guardian

A while back I posted a recipe for dandelion wine. It gets a few hits now and then, which tells me some people out there are interested in the beverage. Dandelions are a useful weed, in fact. They can draw out nutrients and enable better planting. You can also eat the leaves, and they feature often in wild greens salads (Toss them with some ramps, arugula, and morels sometime). The flower heads of course make magic with citrus fruits to create wine.

Today’s find involves mead. I’m a huge mead fan. I frequent Moonstruck Meadery in Bellevue, Nebraska. I admit I’m not zealous about wine. The dandelion wine connection comes more from Ray Bradbury’s excellent book. This link jumps to a dandelion mead recipe. If you homebrew, give it a try. Maybe share some?

To close out, I present a quote from the novel which has captured my spirit and ripples through my subconscious still today.

“And there, row upon row, with the soft gleam of flowers opened at morning, with the light of this June sun glowing through a faint skin of dust, would stand the dandelion wine. Peer through it at the wintry day – the snow melted to grass, the trees were reinhabitated with bird, leaf, and blossoms like a continent of butterflies breathing on the wind. And peering through, color sky from iron to blue.

Hold summer in your hand, pour summer in a glass, a tiny glass of course, the smallest tingling sip for children; change the season in your veins by raising glass to lip and tilting summer in”  - Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine

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How to Eat Your Vegetables

I’m about to talk about these beauties in a bit. Credit: EatingBirdFood.com

If there is anything which is harder to make adults do than eating their vegetables, then I don’t know what it is. Teaching critical thinking and reading comprehension are certainly up there, but cracking cognitive dissonance has nothing on enticing a hardheaded adult to chomp down some veggies. Grown-ups develop pants-shittingly awful food habits from about age 12 onward. Puberty hits around that stage, and then you are tall enough to reach the upper cabinets or have devised a method to scale them. Nothing is out of reach. Your parents have no more hiding spots because you have figured out where everything – including their dildos, much to your horror – is stashed.

Hence why teens grow fast and some go from pudgy to bloated, while others turn into rock-hard Titans until that Freshman Fifteen catches up to them at last. Metabolism run amok, eating sins put into place, the caloric intake you accustomed yourself to at 18 has stretched you to a plus size by 35. Along that whole way, you and most everyone else avoided broccoli like it was nightshade.

If you don’t eat vegetables, even just a couple times a week – because I’m no doctor and I’m not perfect, I slack on this often too – you’re dumb. I’m dumb. We’re missing out, really.

First here’s the problem with vegetables. Since we avoid them usually, we have no clue how to cook them. We think that mush from the can is how they’re supposed to be. Few among us go to farmer’s markets. Some of us frequent the produce section but it’s more common to throw a frozen bag in your cart, take it home, use it to heal some groin bruises, and then toss it into a pot for boiling. Boiling is probably the – no, it is undisputed, boiling is the worst form of vegetable cooking that exists. If you boil something then you are asking to have all the flavor drained from it, for the food to turn to slime, and for much of the nutrition to cook away. It’s good for making things which are supposed to be viscous or mushy, like syrups, sauces, reductions, creamy soups, mashed potatoes, and mash for liquor. Otherwise it turns all it touches to shit. Vegetables and boiling water hate each other, and should never be together.

Now for steaming. Steaming is good. It’s easy, keeps the veggies out of any carcinogens or fatty oils, and keeps them crisp. Crisp is also good. Vegetables, if nothing else have that going for them, the characteristic snap and crunch. It’s a thing of beauty. The one knock on steaming is because you don’t season them, your veggies come out bland. Bland is bad. Bland makes you not want to eat vegetables. You need flavor, spice, seasonings – you need the naughty stuff.

Credit: EatingWell.com

You see that beautiful jar over there? Those are pickles - homemade pickles. If you haven’t made them yourself, learn. Now. Those things out of the grocery store are shit. When you have control over the seasonings, amazing things happen. Imagine some cucumbers, cauliflower, and carrots hanging out in a bath made from brine, onion, fresh dill, vinegar, mustard seed, and garlic. You let them sit for a few nights sealed in a Ball Mason jar, then one day the seal pops as you remove it. Take a spear. It’s ready. Snap into that sucker. Briny, pickly flavor will punch you right in the mouth, and I swear it will be the best pickle you’ve ever had. Soon you’ll wonder about the carrot and cauliflower down there too. Oh my, those are awfully good as well! You’re in love and are searching for some bread, mayo, mustard, and roast beef for good measure. Lunch is served. You find yourself devouring half the jar. Congratulations, you have just enjoyed the hell out of vegetables.

Of course life is nothing without variety. Steaming is okay (Keep the butter handy is all) and pickling is wonderful, but what else is out there? I’ll tell you what – roasting. This is what you do for all those root vegetables. Those are your rutabagas, beets, potatoes, yams, celery roots, turnips, kohlrabis, and more. There are two ways to roast vegetables: the fun way (oven, hopefully with convection if you have it) and the awesome way. The latter is the grill. Beer in hand, your cut-up veggies splayed over a vegetable griller atop hot flame, you face a new vista. You’ve got peppers blackening, awaiting their turn for the salsa you’re preparing. Your roots are crisping on the outside while becoming fluffy inside. What’s the best way to season these? Plain, old EVOO, along with salt and pepper. That’s it. Easy as pie. The upside for roasted roots is basically you end up with amazing, technicolor home fries. Tomorrow’s eggs should have these babies resting beside them, if there are any left at least, and there might not be. Even the kids will wolf them down.

I think you understand now, friends. Get thee to a farmers market or produce department. Encourage the budding lust within you. You too will soon devour plants like a starving Brachiosaurus.

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Are You A Terrible Writer?

Pictured: not a terrible writer

Yes, you probably are. Here’s how you fix that.

1. You no grammar good. Get more better fast.

Lucky you, these grammar guide things are everywhere and they’re free. Here‘s Illinois University’s.

2. Read.

See that book over there? The one you’ve ignored for six months? Read it. Are you on a computer? (What am I, crazy? Of course you are.) Go to Amazon, get the Kindle app, and acquire books. Google search your library. Go there. Get a card. Check out books.

Have you done that yet? No? I’ll wait.

Alright. Now do it again. Books are your new favorite TV show. When someone asks you, “See any movies lately?” your answer will be, “Yeah, it’s called ‘BOOKS.’” Because that’s what you’ll be doing first before watching anymore movies.

You will never be done with this step. Get used to it. Learn to love it.

3. Write. Everything.

Yes, everything. Poems, haiku, short stories, novellettes, novellas, novels, seven-part epics, everything. Try it all. See what fits. Just be writing. It’s ABW – Always Be Writing. Writers finish. Writers get the Cadillac Eldorado. Writers get the set of steak knives.

2nd prize. You don’t want to know about 3rd prize.

How often do you write? As often as it takes. Set goals, write daily, write every other day, but have a method that results in you rubbing the letters off your keyboard. My keyboard looks like crap because I write. I have a nice set of steak knives too. I’m working on that Cadillac, but boy, it’s hard. It’s so hard, but I bet the suspension rides so good. I want my Eldorado. How about you?

1, 2, 3. That’s how you do it. That’s how you become a good writer.

Feel free to add more steps in the comments.

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Donate for Pilger

Pilger, Nebraska was destroyed by severe weather and tornadoes this week. Please consider donating to the Nebraska & Southwest Iowa Red Cross.

http://www.redcross.org/ne/omaha

Thank you.

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Dr. Oz’s Road to Wellville

I’m not a skeptic, not in the hobbyist or professional sense of the term. I don’t frequent skeptic forums, go to skeptic conventions, or anything of that sort. I have friends and associates who are skeptics though, I’ve read skeptical material, and I am by nature a skeptical person. Yet I don’t use my blog to talk about it much. I think discussing political hot topics isn’t appropriate. I am trying to build an author platform after all, not get a booth at Apostacon.

Today though I made an exception, because I know who this Dr. Oz guy is, and I’ve read a lot about him. I’ve also seen his show a few times. For those unaware, he got called in front of the Senate regarding the outlandish products featured on his show. Oz to me is an entertainer, not a doctor. When he acquired a talk show, he lost his professional bonafides. Those were traded in for celebrity. So I wasn’t that hard on his bluster for miracle cures. This quote though, says a lot.

“I actually do personally believe in the items I talk about on the show,” he added. “I recognize that oftentimes they don’t have the scientific muster to pass as fact. I have given my family these products.” – Dr. Mehmet Oz

Wow. Okay, dude. There’s being a charlatan, and then there’s being plain ol’ dumb. I have to take him at his word. He is testifying to the US Senate, and part of me still thinks if you’ve been called to talk to an actual Senator in Washington DC, you spill your guts. You see, I can get over these products he features as being unscientific, if he spells out to the viewer that they are such. I know people who use herbal supplements, tinctures, and even homeopathy. While I used to be very opposed to alternative medicine, and I’m today no proponent, I also realize that most people I know using it don’t supplant real medicine with it. They don’t use products made from endangered species. To me that’s where the real dangers in alt-med lie, the Traditional Chinese Medical products made from tiger dicks and rhino horns – things that encourage poaching. I’m also against replacing chemotherapy, vaccines, and other specialty prescriptions or treatments for chronic conditions with what the pro skeptics call “woo.” If you get your back cracked by a chiropractor and swear it helps you feel better, well hey, it’s your money; however, see a doctor, physical therapist, specialist, et cetera if you have a chronic condition. Eat better and exercise.

Anyway the problem I’ve seen noted by Oz’s critics, and have witnessed on Oz’s show, is he is dismissive of the unscientific nature of his featured products. There’s a lot of to-do about personal beliefs, opinion, respecting such things, having faith, and all that, but really he’s done a major disservice in ignoring his endorsed items’ lacking efficacy. Now before the Senate, he’s just admitted to the world he truly does believe this stuff works. Friends, we have another John Harvey Kellogg on our hands.

Kellogg invented corn flakes. He was a huge proponent of eating them along with other cereals, plus avoiding meat. In his day this was a great idea. Meat packing plants weren’t as regulated as today, and unless you could kill it yourself you couldn’t always guarantee freshness. His religious beliefs influenced Kellogg’s thought. Oz’s beliefs influence his. Kellogg was nutty. He was stringent about things like yogurt enemas, and was for a time maniacal about masturbation and its supposed evilness. He used unethical treatments for mental illness, physical ailments, and much of his work has been discredited. He had a few, core ideas which were good – diet and exercise, in an era when having a regiment was brand new – but he was negligent and even hazardous. Kellogg also believed in his claptrap. Now we know Mehmet Oz does as well. So he’s not a crook, but he sure is a quack.

This is not a call to arms though. I’m not using my blog to tell people to boycott Oz, harass him, or stop watching his show. I do think though you should read the article linked through my blog and take another gander at that quote. Make up your own mind. You know what I think.

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Shelved

This will be my last update for some time regarding These Arms to Hold You, my first-draft novel from NaNoWriMo in fall 2013.

My intent was to self-publish this book. I didn’t care about traditional publishing. My one wish was to see this project through and put it out there myself. I was willing to lose money in the process but now, it’s money I can’t lose. My wife is pregnant and this fall I’ll be a father. Though I won’t give up on writing I have to face facts. This novel isn’t meant to see the light of day yet. Other priorities come first.

While I feel accomplished in doing something I’ve never achieved, it’s not feasible at this time to budget for a project that doesn’t have spare funds to use. I’m nobody. I don’t have a following which would merit an Indiegogo or Kickstarter campaign.

So until I can bring this project back to life, I’ll move on and write other things. I’ll continue to find opportunities and one day, I can bring this work to the world.

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So what’s up with that novel?

Right. That. So… ah… yeah, last November I participated in NaNoWriMo 2013. I wrote a rough draft entitled These Arms to Hold You, and you saw my grammatically challenged synopsis last week. It’s now May so one would think I’d be further along; such as, maybe have the second draft done. Nope. Writing fell off my radar due to distractions, life, and other personal things. I haven’t done a lot of it this year. I’ll spare the reasons why. These things just happen when writing is your hobby and not your job. I’d love for it to be my job, but it’s not so other things get in the way.

The good news is I’m talking to an artist about a cover. Yes I know, cart before the horse. This artist I have a good feeling about though, and want to get some work from before she’s too busy or too big to waste time with me.

Meanwhile I have prepared my notes and I have a plan for when I finally get into the muck. I’ve also shown the rough draft to my wife, and while that’s not worth much to everybody since of course she’s not objective, she did like the story quite a bit. That was validation and it was needed.

As for unrelated things, I did start on a new manuscript this year, but it’s moving slow. I won’t say too much about it because the focus should be on These Arms for now.

Slow and steady, onward we march.

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With a Snip, Snip Here…

Whisky Sage:

Meet Sean Farley. A fellow writer.

Originally posted on Sean Patrick Farley:

Despite family issues, taking time off work to take care of said family issues, and a body that doesn’t seem to be responding to caffeine as it should be, I have managed to get some writing done.  Well, not writing so much as editing.  Okay, not editing so much as rewriting.  Fine, not rewriting so much as endlessly obsessing over whether I believe a specific project is DONE.

I’m not a perfectionist, not by any stretch of the imagination.  I’ll let my beard get scraggly.  I leave my bed unmade for days at a time.  I’ll rinse out a cup and consider it clean.  It’s just the way I am.  Now, don’t misunderstand – I’m not slovenly, for Christ’s sake.  But some things, to me, don’t need that much attention.  At least in my opinion.perfectionist

Except for my writing.

I read an interview with Donna Tartt (author of my…

View original 352 more words

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Tried my hand at a synopsis

This is for the NaNoWriMo manuscript I wrote last fall. It’s still in revisions and I’m talking with an artist about book cover art.

Anyway, the synopsis.

These Arms to Hold You by Perri Pryor

Synopsis

Marla Schumaker was told she was too shy and uptight. So one night she decided to show how much fun she could be, only the fun went beyond her control. Awaking the next day she realized she’d been violated and what’s worse, it had gone viral. All the kids at school knew of her humiliation. They mocked her. Her best friend, Lisa, blamed her. Her parents couldn’t understand her. Marla was alone in her mortification. The final insult was her attacker being acquitted due to lack of physical evidence. In her isolation though she found out a dark, lost secret about her family. Within that secret was a divine connection, one which could great magnificent power and a direct line to an ancient goddess. All she had to do in return was pledge eternal devotion.

What does it mean to lose power, and then have a chance to gain it back and more? What is the cost of that power once you have it? Can you mend the rifts and heal your heart, or are you changed forever? Marla Schumaker finds all this out in These Arms to Hold You.

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