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I would like to invite all of you to visit my awards pages.  I have the priviledge of drawing attention to some of the blogs I enjoy through the presentation of several awards.  The And the Award Goes To  page contains links to all of the different awards being presented.  If you haven’t time for all of them, I’d really like you to check out the 7 x 7 Link Award.  It links seven of my favorite blogs and seven of my older posts — the ones I consider Most Beautiful, Most Helpful, Most Popular, Most Controversial, Most Surprisingly Successful, Most Underrated, and Most Prideworthy.  I’m quite proud of them all, but that one in particular.

Regular posts will begin again in the next day or two.  Thank you all for your patience while I discharged my “Freshly Pressed” and blog award duties.  I’ll try to make the next post a good one.

My romance with science fiction began when I was quite young.  A customer left a bag of books in a booth at the restaurant where I worked.  I put them behind the counter and when he did not come back, I took them home.  I have never been able to throw a book away.  Not going to happen. No way, no how!  Yes, I have an ungodly number of books.  If only I could find that customer today, I would smother him with kisses.

The bag contained Asimov’s Foundation, Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Zelazny’s Nine Princes in Amber, Herbert’s Dune, Niven’s Ringworld, Silverberg’s Tower of Glass, Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness, Anthony’s Macroscope, Harrison’s The Stainless Steel Rat, Norton’s Witch World and McCaffrey’s Restoree.  How do I remember so clearly the authors and titles?  I have them still and have read them all many, many times through the years.  Those of you that are fans of the genre know these are the giants.

I love them all, but there is one I felt a special bond with.  One that I came to love and feel, over time, that I knew.  Her signature quote was:  “My hair is silver, my eyes are green and I freckle; the rest is subject to change without notice.”  She was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts; lived in Ireland; sewed, embroidered and knitted; cooked (well by all reports); was an amateur singer and actor; played bridge; raised three children; was divorced; struggled to support her family; and loved her pets, especially her horses.  She looked like my grandma.  She was an unlikely literary giant.  She was Anne McCaffrey.

Anne wrote prolifically throughout her life.  She was the first woman to win a Hugo or Nebula Award.  She was one of the first science fiction authors to make the New York Times Best Seller List.  She has been inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame and named a Grand Master by the Science Fiction Writers of America.  Most importantly, she won the hearts of readers everywhere.  Mine was one.

Her feminine characters were strong and fought for themselves at a time when it was not “fashionable” for women to stand up or fight.  She is supposed to have said, “I was so tired of all the weak women screaming in the corner while their boyfriends were beating off the aliens. I wouldn’t have been – I’d’ve been in there swinging with something or kicking them as hard as I could.”  I’ll just bet she would have and that’s what her heroines did.  They were role models for a generation of female readers.

She created worlds were dragons fill the sky and dinosaurs still live.  Her ship sings as do her crystal miners.  Telepathic and telekinetic talents hold her universe together and humans learn they are not as technologically advanced at they think.  She wrote of an old soldier protecting a planet from corporate exploitation and human slaves joining with their alien abductors to combat a greater evil.  Her little unicorn girl grew up to be hero and a New York librarian helped defeat a planetary scourge.  I for one loved every word.

Anne was a “real” person through it all and that speaks to the character of the woman.  When unable to attend Dragon*con this year, she apologized by saying, “Sorry that old age came up and bit me on the ass.”  Now that’s a lady I can admire.  She will never truly be gone.  She will still sit on my nightstand and reside on my bookshelves.  She will live on in every word she ever wrote.  Thank you, Annie!

This post was written for The Mindslam Write Wednesday – If you could be friends & hang-out with any actor/celebrity…who would it be?  I learned of Anne’s death when I googled her name to find a picture for this post.  I still would have liked to be her friend and just hang out with her.

Mountain View, California and Bangalore, India

I have a new blog friend, Ari. Okay I have a lot of new blog friends (hi!), but this one happens to live and work in Bangalore, the Silicon Valley of India. Mountain View, California is called the Silicon Valley and I used to live in California. We’re practical related. Anyway, I found Arindam UnPlugged one day while I was out tag surfing. I came across his post The Indian Signal Spectacle and laughed my ass off. Read it, you won’t be sorry. Besides, it helps this post make sense. Well . . . maybe not, but read it anyway.

The whole time I was reading his post I was stunned by his client, Steve from Chicago. Mr. Chicago seemed to be shocked and dismayed by the traffic customs in Ari’s metropolis. “Surely, Steve has driven or, at the very least, ridden in a car somewhere in the US of A,” was the thought that replayed in my head all the way through the post. I just hate it when people misrepresent and now find I must correct Ari’s impression of driving in America.

The first thing to strike me as odd was when the man from the windy city asked why the other drivers at a long stop light were honking their horns. Really?

This question actually came from a resident of one of the horn-honking capitals of the world? Standard hand placement on the wheel of the vehicle accommodates one to steer and one to honk. Honking is practically a national pastime. Fines up $250 for using the horn unnecessarily have been implemented, but no one seems particularly concerned and the clamor of toots and blasts continues unabated.

Steve’s next moment of amazement came as the result of a cyclist cutting between vehicles. Come on Steve, you never wanted to “clothes line” the twerp in the latex shorts and plastic helmet dodging in and out of traffic? Please.

“Steve had come in from a culture where people are accustomed to follow lane discipline.” Oh yeah, we have exceptional skills when it comes to staying in our lanes. No one ever curses some nimrod motorist straddling the line or cutting them off after flying down the median. Perhaps commuters in India have figured out how to deal with a tight squeeze, but we’re still having a little trouble with that one.

We also have a quaint custom of communicating directly with our fellow drivers. We are passionate about it and make sure we practice every day.

This interaction can be verbal or non-verbal and conducted through the use of hand gestures, signs and, of course, the car horn. There are some media types that like to exaggerate and call it “road rage,” but it’s really just friendly conversation. Our way of letting our compatriots on the road know how we feel about their brilliant driving skills.

Yeah, driving in good, ole America is a walk in the park. Just make sure you have 911 on speed dial, your pepper spray close at hand and emergency foodstuffs in the trunk for those really bad traffic days. And please . . . don’t forget to honk if . . .

I find making a choice between American Idol and The X Factor akin to choosing to amputate a limb with a butter knife or a sharp spoon.  Maybe a better question is would I rather gouge out my eyes or watch either of these stellar contenders for turning my gray matter to gelatinous goo in a single season?  You might as well make me decide whether I wish to join Team Edward or Team Joseph.  I got that wrong didn’t I?

I hate reality TV in all of its disguises.  It is a cheap substitute for television that has at least the possibility of being interesting, funny, suspenseful, engaging . . . in other words, entertaining.  Unscripted does not mean unwritten.  J. Ryan Stradal wrote this outstanding article that blows the real out of reality television.  He’s a writer for unscripted television.  Oxymoronic?  Yes, but how appropriate when you think about it. Cheap is the objective and it is apparent in the quality of the offerings of the major networks.

Reality TV, in the form of game and exploitation shows, has been around since the advent of the small screen.  These shows were limited in number.  Candid Camera and You Bet Your Life were in the vanguard.  The Gong Show, Cops and The Real World followed.  When the 2001 Screenwriter’s strike threatened, the networks fought back with unscripted programming.  The strike never really materialized, but the reality blitzkrieg had been launched.

I have no desire to spend my time with the Kardashians or Snooki.  I don’t care who wins Dancing with the Stars.  I won’t know a Housewife(sic) of Beverly Hills if one introduced herself to me.  I read books.  I write.  I garden.  I practice yoga.  I could learn a new language.  I could even clean my flippin’ house.  I can think of a hundred things I would rather do than reduce my IQ by subjecting my visual and auditory senses to shows like American Idol or The X Factor.  My choice is to” just say no” to the devolution of my intellect and the erosion of society at large.

This post was written for The Mindslam Write Wednesdays writing prompt.

Remember Bruce Campbell in the Army of Darkness?  “Give me some sugar, baby.”  Ash used the line ad nausuem in his pursuit of Sheila.  Sure, eventually he got the girl, but remember, at one point, she turned into a horrible, screaming banshee and tried to murder him with her bare hands.  There’s a lesson in that.

Gentlemen, listen.  Women want to be seduced.  I don’t care how long you’ve been together, the female of the species is wired for it.  You know that any little, romantic gesture and we go all mushy on you.  So how is it that you haven’t figured out the things that turn us into horrible, screaming banshees?  I’ll give you a couple of clues.

There is nothing sexier than being dry humped while performing household chores or anything else for that matter.  I’m always overcome with passion when a man emulates a sex-crazed Chihuahua.  Nothing says I love you and want you like a good dry humping or more effectively activates the pleasure center in the female brain.  

I’m also particularly fond of it when my guy confuses my breasts with Harpo’s horn.  The booby honk (single or double) is among the most seductive moves in any man’s repertoire.  What foreplay would be complete without it?  Oh, and please don’t forget to enhance the moment with a verbal “honk, honk.”  We really like that.

Last, but surely not least, is what I like to call the “Junk Jiggle.”  Most common right after a shower (thank god), this dance of seduction is sure to send any woman into orgasmic bliss.  Sexy, clean man enters the room naked.  So far so good.  He then proceeds to thrust his pelvis back and forth while grinning, winking and nodding.  And they say romance is dead.

There are ways to seduce a woman that will literally make her weak in the knees and guarantee she will be yours.  Then there is the monkey with a football approach.  Sure, the monkey is cute and funny, but do you really want to bet your sex life on it?  So . . .

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November 2011