Friday, November 7, 2014

Yeah, A Bug Crawled Up There

So a few things have been annoying me lately.

Actually more than a few but let's face it, we all have lives so I'll just vent about a few.

First up on my annoyance list are Linked-In whores. Ok, that's not their actual title but it's definitely their description. You receive an invitation to connect on Linked-In so you look at their profile. They don't seem to really have much in common with your line of work, or interests for that matter, but you accept their invitation anyway. Then over the course of the day, and the next and the next, if you happen to check your feed, you see that person has connected with 672 more people. Linked-In Whore. Seriously, the whole point of Linked-In was to connect people you might do business with, or might lead to someone you might do business with. It's not freakin' Twitter where it's all about your followers. Today may have been my fastest unlink ever. Whore.

Next up are names of bands. Now listen up young band people. I covered the CMJ Music Marathon a few weeks back and in researching which bands I wanted to see, I would use the CMJ app and try to coordinate shows with days and times I would be available. Now the easiest way I found to check out the bands was to just go to Youtube and type in their name. It's better than going to the bands websites and navigating pages to find some video. But a problem comes about when bands have names that are really names of other things. Like Fishing, or Northern Lights for example. Punch those babies into Youtube and you know what you get? Videos on How to Fish, and really breathtaking stuff of the Northern Lights. The bands... yeah, didn't find them. So I moved onto the next band. So here's my advice for naming a band: Something original and unusual. Just a thought.

Speaking of music. Publicists, if you're gonna inundate me daily about your clients, when I actually reply and ask you a question about the band... you might want to respond.

Finally, I received a letter from my health insurance company last week telling me to expect a phone call from someone who will be my "health advocate" or some crap like that. They will discuss my present health, how often I visit a doctor, if I got a flu shot, blah, blah, blah. So I get a call yesterday and by the look of the number on caller ID, I figured it was them. And it was... sort of. It was an automated call asking if I was who they were calling. Yes, yes I am. OK, PLEASE HOLD FOR THE NEXT AVAILABLE AIDE. Da Fuck? ALL OUR AIDES ARE CURRENTLY ASSISTING OTHER CUSTOMERS, PLEASE HOLD. Are you kidding me? A bot calls me and expects me to hold on while the real people are talking with other people. Here's a novel idea: HAVE A REAL PERSON ACTUALLY CALL ME.

Feeling better. I think that's enough for tonight.


Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Fishy Situation

Why is it whenever you have a limited amount of time to get something done, you end up surrounded by incompetent morons?

Case in point, Friday afternoon I had a small window of time to run out and get a few errands done. Food shopping at Shop-Rite was one of those errands. First thing on the list was to hit the fish department for some clams for Saturday night's dinner. Because the deli area/fish department can be crowded, I ran over there first to see how much time it would take.

Good news, only one woman in front of me and she's in the middle of her order. How long can it take right? Unlike cold cuts where someone might order four or five different items, fish purchases are usually only one or two items.

It seemed that the worker was taking a longer time to get the fish together than was necessary, but whatever, how long could it take right? Ok, she finishes with that item and the customer orders something else. A dozen craw-fish. A dozen crawfish. Now a dozen crawfish aren't really enough to do anything much with, but that's not my business. My business was watching the worker attempt to reach the crawfish which were in a plastic bowl toward the front of the refrigerated case.

Now if it was me, I would grab that plastic bowl out of the case so I would not need to reach into it. But no. The worker decided to reach in and... stretching as far as she could and grabbing them ONE BY ONE.

I stood there in total disbelief. I looked at the woman whose order was being filled and by the look on her face, this did not seem odd. That might have been even scarier than the idiot behind the counter. So after reaching into the case twelve separate times, the order was complete and it was my turn.

Two dozen Little Neck clams. I thought I might lose it completely if I saw her start to grab one clam at a time, but no, something even better. There were three types of clams for sale and she did not know the difference between them. So as I stood there mentally hearing the tick-tock of minutes passing, she decided her day was too tough, gave up, and called over another worker to complete the order.

It should have taken maybe seven minutes for the woman in front of me to finish her order, and mine to be filled as well. It took twenty.

Tick Tock.

Monday, September 8, 2014

No Kidding Around

Not these Kids
I don't have kids.

I may have mentioned that a hundred or more times, but in case any of you may have forgotten, I don't. Never wanted them, not a kid person, give me a dog any day of the week. Oh zip it all you parents looking down your noses, I believe we should all... in the words of Dirty Harry, "know our limitations."

I know mine, and it was never gonna be wiping someone else's ass for two years. And while that was indeed something that entered my mind many times when I was young enough to consider having kids, it was more of the knowledge of really not being cut out for it, and not able to cope with the 24/7, 365 day, twenty year commitment.

I did however become a step-monster of a fourteen-year old a shitload of years ago. I was lucky, he was great. Love and respect were never an issue, and I could not be more proud of the man he has become. That kiddo is now thirty-nine, and will soon become a father. This makes me a sort of step-grandmonster. Sort of.

Now the family is pretty small, but what we do have are some extras. As in the step kind. So the question has come up on what we all want to be known as when the baby, who won't be showing up until the spring, gets around to talking to us. oy.

Now those of you who know me can stop laughing right now. We all know some little crumb crusher calling me Granny ain't never gonna happen. I thought I remembered Joan Rivers saying when her grandson was born she wanted to be called Queen. Since the nickname I've embraced for many years has been Queen Bitch, it seemed a possible option.

Then it came to me; I could really dig being in a store with this barely walking toddler and he or she calls out "Hot Stuff." Hell yeah. The parents-to-be seemed to be the only ones who thought this was not an unthinkable option... and that's why I love them both. Oh and my beautiful niece thought it was cool too... but then she always thought I was a kick-ass aunt.

Most others thought it would be too hard for the baby to pronounce. I don't. So unless we can come up with something just as fabulous, Hot Stuff it is. This step-grandmonster is gonna rock.

Just saying.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Doodle Dog Books: Teaching Lessons, Helping Others

Fate. Destiny. Kismet.
Some of us believe in it, others are skeptical. Think on this story for a minute.

Two kids go to the same middle school, junior high, and high school. They are even in classes together. They like the same music, a lot of the same activities, but never really connect on a one-to-one level. Years later, and I won't say how many, they finally get to talking at their high school reunion, and boom. No, it's not a love story, they are both happily married. It is a story though, well at this point, three stories actually.

Jim Wood and Michele Quinn started writing children's books dealing with subjects which are difficult for kids to understand, like the loss of a pet, or childhood illness. The proceeds from their books go to charity, so not only are they helping children with their stories, they are helping causes near and dear to their hearts.

The first Doodle book aided a family overwhelmed with medical expenses, the second benefited an animal shelter, and profits from their latest book, Doodle: When Times Get Ruff, will go to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio

Jim Wood is a writer, musician, dad, brother and friend. We've known each other online and in person for a few years now, and the work that he and Michele are doing is way beyond cool. Michele is a teacher, illustrator and a mom, so when you put the two of them together, how can these books be anything short of fabulous.

I recently had the chance to speak with both Jim and Michele about the journey of the Doodle Dog books. Please read the interviews, then check out the links at the end and order a few books.

Kath: The proceeds from the first Doodle book were donated to Ashley’s Army, to benefit the family of a child who had been undergoing cancer treatment. Is there an update on Ashley and how she’s doing?
Michele: She’s actually doing very well. I’m happy to say the bone marrow transplant was successful. Her numbers are not 100% yet, but they are so close that we can taste it, and she’s actually going to be walking with us at the Be the Match Walk & Run to raise funds for bone marrow transplants.

You’re involved in a whole bunch of charity endeavors. Where did the feeling that you should do so much to help others come from?
Michele: It really started in college, I became involved with my Honor Society where we did fundraising, worked with the Red Cross, assisting homeless people to find homes by sharing a home with somebody who was willing to take them in. Then I became a mom and I couldn’t just stay at home, and I started doing everything I could for my son’s school, volunteering from there. It’s just important for me to give back.

The second book “Doodle Meets the Pound Pup” was sort of based on your puppy. How did you ever get through the creative process?
Michele: We kind of collaborated on that one, and yes it was a difficult book to get through. It took a long time to do the illustrations. I was crying all the time, but I felt it needed to be done. As a teacher and a parent, I noticed in children’s literature, there’s not a lot out there for dealing with those things, of dealing with the death of a loved one. So that’s one of the reasons we’re doing what we’re doing, to deal with some of those difficult circumstances that kids face now.

It’s very true, you can talk to a child and try to explain it, but sometimes if they see a picture and the story is written in a basic child’s voice, I think they can grasp it, and it seems more ok. If it’s written down, then someone else must have had this happen to them.
Michele: Right, and one of the key things I’ve tried to keep, especially with the second and third books, coming again from an education standpoint and child psychology, we tried to take a lot of that pain and push it to the dog, transfer it. We’re going to deal with the friend’s friend, but we’re going to put the heavy stuff on the dog. It removes the heavy burden from the child. And it’s a book, so the child can look at it on their own and can process it in their own time.

The profits from the second book went to an animal shelter and the proceeds from the third are going to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio. How did that partnership come about?
Michele: My neighbor, Ryan Wilkins is the Community Relations & Marketing Director, and I knew him from our FaceBook Community Page. Jim wanted to donate some books to a children’s hospital and I said my neighbor works for Ronald McDonald house, do you want me to give them to him, and that’s how I actually met his wife. So it just came up through there.

What’s been the best experience about this whole collaboration on the Doodle books?
Michele: It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to write a children’s book, and when Jim mentioned that he’d like to write a kid’s book someday, I said well I think I know someone who can illustrate, and it was that simple and that’s kind of how it fell into place. I’m fulfilling something I’ve wanted to do since I was a little girl, but honestly, the best part of it is that we’re doing it to give something to other people. We’re able to take the talent that we have, and do something for other people in a quiet way. With one project, we were able to give help to a family in desperate need, then for the animals, and now for the Ronald McDonald House, where Ashley’s family had to stay for two months, so it’s all connected. So that’s the best part of it for me

Then I spoke with Jim Wood.

Kath: The first book was about a little girl checking things out in the world and wondering if God was responsible for each part of it. What made you take a spiritual entrance into the series?
Jim: As I started writing, it was something that just came into my head. I thought about the girl and the dog and thought what could I do that’s kind of different? Just go out exploring the world “oh well, if this is like this, how can this be? How can a tree be?” Somebody made the trees, somebody made the grass, somebody made the rain, the seasons, somebody made us. Just basic fundamental questions of why are we here, what did this, and how wonderful it is that it happened, and here we are.

Now you are a music writer, an interviewer, and as both of us are, a ranter on your blog. How does your writing approach change when you’re writing a children’s book?  Is there a different mindset that you go into it with?
Jim: Actually I don’t think there is, because when I’m ranting I’m kind of in the mode that I feel like I could do whatever I want, but it seems whenever it’s time to write a children’s book it’s like flicking a switch. It just comes on… like, ok let’s try this, what’s this going to be about? We’ll start out by saying “let’s think about what we want to say. Like Chloe and the girl are playing and Christopher is a pain, the little kid thing. We’ll take things like that and turn them into rhyme. So it’s just like flipping a switch, it doesn’t really change at all, it’s just one way of looking at things.

Does the rhyming thing come natural to you?
Jim: Oh absolutely, I come from a music background. Rhyming and songwriting and all that, it wasn’t a problem at all. The hardest part is trying to find something that hasn’t been done before, and trying to get words to rhyme that don’t normally rhyme, but kind of sound like it.

As a writer I just have to ask, when you had your first book signing was there a moment when you thought that nobody would show up?
Jim: There’s always that thought that comes into your head. Then as soon as the first person comes, as long as one person comes, that’s it. But there is that certain fear.

I asked Michele this same question; what has been the best experience about doing these books?
Jim: Honestly, it’s working with her. As far as the back story goes, we hardly knew each other all the way through school. We went through middle school, junior high, high school. I didn’t know her, we never talked. It’s kind of sad because we missed out on all that, but in a way it’s good now because we’re adults and we get to work on things like these books, and get to help people. It’s given the books a purpose, and just doing them together has been the best experience for me. And now we have three, which is mind-boggling.

I have a dog question about this because Doodle is a Boston Terrier, and coincidentally or not, you have two of them, Doodle and Bruno. Now Doodle gets all the press while Bruno has only made an appearance in the latest book. Has this caused any problems at home?
Jim: No, not all.

So Bruno is pretty happy for his brother?
Jim: Yeah, he’s just happy to be a part of the story. He was tired of being in the shadows.

Jim and Michele are good people doing good work. Help them help others. If you have a child, the books are perfect. Don't have kids? Purchase one, two, five, or a dozen and give them to hospitals, libraries, day care centers, etc. This isn't a bucket challenge where you won't ever know where your money is going. All proceeds are going directly to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio. Helping out families of sick children. 

Do a good thing, buy a book.

To order a copy of the Doodle Dog books, click on the links below:
A little girl and her dog explore the world around them and wonder how things were made.

Doodle Meets the Pound Pup
A heart-warming tale about the joys of animal adoption and coping with the loss of a beloved pet.

Doodle: When Times Get Ruff
 "Doodle: When Times Get Ruff" tells the story of Chloe, a young girl who faces uncertainty when her younger brother Christopher becomes ill. With help and love from both family and friends, Chloe is able to overcome her fear.

Follow Doodle Dog Books on FaceBook
Jim Wood's Website:
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Ohio

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Back-To-Back Award Shows, Meh

Just like Twitter is limited to 140 characters, I kind of limited the time I spent watching the VMAs and the Emmys to about 140 seconds. That was about all I could handle at any one time.

So I can't actually say I watched either show, and can only comment that what I saw of each was excruciatingly awful. My views on them will be short, probably only a bit more than 140 characters.

The VMAs: When did a big ass become the new big boobs standard? Does it now mean if a woman has both a big ass AND big boobs, she is now considered a Goddess? Asking for a friend.

That is really all I have to say about the VMAs.

The Emmys: Was it me or have the women started dressing really badly again? Girls, Less is Best. Not in the amount of material, but in how the material is being used. Way, way too much on the ruffles, draping, layering. oy. One red number: one shoulder,draping over the bust, cinched waist with beading on one side, more draping over the hips, more cinching at mid-thigh and a flouncy bottom. Really? Another pink flamingo number, and one black dress with so much badly added tulle over it, it looked like someone just decided to wrap it around her, like ten times.

Fire your stylists and just take a look in the mirror.

In all the rehearsals for this show, did any of the participants actually think the jokes were funny? Whenever I tuned in and caught one, I had to switch it off because they were not just bad, but dreadful. One thing about comedy, timing is everything. The greats have it, only one person I saw last night did.


It wasn't his day to be funny, though along with the tears, his speech also brought a few smiles. When Robin died, we waited for what his friend Billy would have to say, and what he did say was perfect for that moment. "No Words."  And it was true. He was called upon last night to choose a few, and with just the right mixture of joy and sadness, he spoke of the man he knew so well.

And every word he said reminded us of how much sadder the world has become.

Robin Williams, what a concept.