Monthly Archives: June 2009

How ‘Bout Some Fries With Those Fireworks?

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Would you like fries with that?

 

When I was a teenager, fireworks were perfectly legal to own and shoot in most of Texas. Had this not been the case, there might be more wood shingle rooftops today. 

I fear I have contributed to at least a few shingle replacements, and I know I’m responsible for an entire kitchen remodel. You see, when I was a teenager I sold firecrackers, bottle rockets, and whistling chasers from our family farm located behind Southfork Ranch.

My folks didn’t seem to mind that their front porch held enough fire power to compete with the Cotton Bowl fireworks extravaganza. Probably they were just thrilled to see me earning money they didn’t have to earn first. 

Nowadays, most folks realize it’s dangerous for children to ignite pyrotechnics during one of the driest months of the year, especially in a grassfire prone state. But back then, I guess people were less concerned. Maybe they figured a burned lawn is one that won’t need mowing.

No one in my family ever caught the yard on fire. The house? Yes, but never the lawn.

My siblings and I received strict fireworks instructions from Dad. “Point the bottom end of that Roman candle away from you,” he’d caution. After I’d seen one of Dad’s errant Roman candles misfire, launching a ball of flame over my head, I really didn’t need to be told this. Being a wise older sister, I also knew to keep the designated exploding end of these fire sticks aimed away from me and towards my brothers.

Like most boys, my younger siblings could be destructive with or without fireworks. Firecrackers simply gave them more options.

Several of my Barbie dolls owe their demise to a fist-full of Black Cats. But I wasn’t terribly upset when my Barbies’ demoralizing bodies were blackened. I’d already outgrown the dolls and was yet too young to realize their future eBay values. Fortunately, my brothers never blew up anything I treasured, like, say, maybe a Tiger Beat poster of Bobby Sherman. That would have instigated the disappearance of at least three G.I. Joes.

During my youth, Independence Day was a more celebrated and dangerous time when otherwise law-abiding citizens morphed into mailbox felons overnight. Rooftops smoldered beneath rockets’ embers. Grassfires dotted roadway ditches at night. And ever so often, some hoodlum would shoot a Texas Twister into a fully stocked fireworks stand. Secretly I was enthused by the astonishing light show that typically followed.

Though I wasn’t a particularly destructive kid, while tending our family’s fireworks stand, I did set fire to the kitchen.  

This wasn’t entirely my fault. Okay, maybe I was partially responsible. All right, I flat out suffered an idiot attack.

It was July 4, the peak sales day for fireworks, and there seemingly was no end to the extent of customers who wanted to prove their patriotism by blowing up something. All morning, I’d been serving anxious buyers. My stomach ached from hunger, but the crowds kept coming. Finally, there was a break in traffic, so I raced indoors to fry some French fries. But then I heard cars arriving again, possibly ones with cute boys inside. 

Quickly I turned on a gas stove burner, poured some frozen fries into a skillet full of vegetable oil, and rushed back outside. 

By the time I remembered the skillet, it was too late.

When I returned to the kitchen, the stove was engulfed in flames. And to make matters worse, the fries were ruined.

Not long after this, my parents sold their farm, and they never again encouraged me to sell fireworks. But sometimes when I’m driving through rural areas and I spot a little fireworks stand, I feel an overwhelming urge to stop—and offer French fries.

 

Diana Estill is the author of Deedee Divine’s Totally Skewed Guide to Life

www.TotallySkewed.com

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Totally Skewed: Stock soars on layoff announcement

Wall Street– June 23, 2009

American Greed Corporation stock soars 1000% on layoff announcement

Six months after receiving a tax payer-funded bailout, American Greed Corporation (AGC) has announced it will eliminate nearly all of its U.S. employment positions.

In an unprecedented warning, AGC spokesperson Ida Gatekeeper packed her desk contents and reported that American Greed Corporation will layoff 198,000 employees, representing 99.9% of the company’s U.S. workforce, within the next 10 days.

Under a newly restructured organization, AGC will retain only four of the company’s U.S. salaried employees. Among those remaining will be the company’s CEO Seymore Gold and three senior executive managers, all of whom are related to Gold either directly or indirectly through marriage.

AGC’s ten existing board of director positions will be reduced to eight. Two directors will receive preferred stock and monetary compensation for their early dismissals and agreement to decline all media inquiries forever.

As part of the business restructuring, AGC will outsource the company’s entire operations to Samoa. The company says it expects to employ Samoa’s total workforce population at wages that would insult even the most desperate American summer intern.

Asked about the economic impact such a reduction of U.S. workers could cause, Mr. Gold, AGC Chief Executive Officer, remarked, “This is part of our commitment to shareholders to remain competitive in today’s global market.” Gold added, “I’ve outlined my successful business strategies in my forthcoming book, How to Become a Billionaire When Everyone Else is Unemployed.”

American Greed Corporation stock soared 1,000 percent immediately after this layoff announcement.

In a related matter, OMG Real Estate Distrust, owners of American Greed Corporation’s campus headquarters buildings in New York City, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. OMG Real Estate Distrust common stock halted trading on the New York Stock Exchange at ten cents per share.

 

Important Disclaimer: The above satirical news brief is not intended to represent any known or unknown companies , person or persons who might lack a sense of humor and attempt to claim damages as a result of this report. No real Samoans were harmed in the writing of this article. Consult your financial advisor before investing in penny stocks. OMG Real Estate Distrust, American Greed Corporation and Seymore Gold are trademarks of the current U.S. economy.

 

 

Diana Estill is the author of Deedee Divine’s Totally Skewed Guide to Life.

www.TotallySkewed.com

 

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Book signings: Crazy comments

I watched a funny Youtube video about the differences between author book signings and book club visits (see the link at the end of this post), and I remembered having written down many of the silly remarks bookstore visitors have said to me during signings.  Here are just a few of the comments I’ve received from customers while standing inside a bookstore, next to a table filled with my books and a poster that says “Author signing today” :

“Do you sell lottery tickets here?”

“Where are the restrooms?”

(Asked by a man who was staring at my breasts) “Do you sell bookends?”

“Can I give you my Barnes & Noble number?”

“Can’t I just pay you? Why do I have to stand in that long checkout line?”

“When is your NEXT book coming out?” (This person didn’t buy the one currently offered.)

(After I’ve tried to hand the customer a free bookmark) “I only like the PRETTY kind, the kind you pay for.”

“I could have written THAT book!”

“This looks like a chick book. Is it?”

“Have you read (fill in any Oprah’s Book Club selection)?”

“I’ve been thinking of writing a book. Where should I start.” (It was all I could do to keep from answering “with the first word.”)

“How do I get to the restroom?” (On foot and quickly? )

“My book got published and I only sold TWO copies.” (Gee, I wonder why?)

“Is this at the library? Because if it is, I’ll read it there.”

“I ordered a book over a week ago! When is it coming in?” (The lady was asking about another author’s book.)

(Man looking at stack of books) “You’re GIVING these away?”

“Is this on Amazon?”

“Do you work here?”

(An elderly man) “Has anyone ever told you that you look like one of the Lennon Sisters?”

“Has anyone ever told you that you look like Shirley McClain?”

“Has anyone ever told you that you look like Carol Burnett?”

“Has anyone ever told you that you look like Vicki Lawrence?”

“There used to be a woman who looked like you, but I forgot her name.”

(Responding to a funny grilling story that’s in my book) “Someone needs to do something about charcoal lighter fluids! They’re destroying the air!”

“Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road? ( the title of one of my books) Ha-ha-ha-ha! I do that all the time!” (These people scare me.)

“Just make it out to my wife.” (Man who doesn’t provide wife’s name)

I have another book signing tomorrow night, after which I’m sure I’ll have more material to add to this list.

Here’s the link to the video I mentioned earlier:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SufkZyIp5Fw 

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Diana Estill’s latest book is titled Deedee Divine’s Totally Skewed Guide to Life.

Visit www.TotallySkewed.com

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Why men like explosions in movies

Several friends and I recently discussed the differences between men’s and women’s tastes in movies. Guys want the films they watch to be packed with astonishing pyrotechnics that deliver excessive jolts of adrenaline.

“If something doesn’t blow up in the first 15 minutes, my friend’s spouse confessed, “I’m out of there.”

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The other men seated at our restaurant table nodded in agreement.

We ladies shared a knowing laugh.

Right then, one of the kitchen’s wait staff dropped what sounded like a four-piece serving for 50. The concerned gentleman seated next to me applauded. 

Why are men so enamored with things that go “BANG?” I wondered. Perhaps the male of our species welcomes anything that interrupts otherwise constant thoughts of sex.

Nah, that can’t be it. Nothing could be that jarring.

When it comes to movies, men are attracted to explosions and fires and guns that go “POW!” because viewing these forces allows them to satisfy their urges to eliminate opposition.

Think you won that last argument with your man? Nope. He obliterated your score while watching Transformers. You just don’t know it.

Gals, here’s the deal. Men are physically wired to want something to erupt—loudly. As long as there is plenty of noise, they can avoid listening to us talk.

Furthermore, car explosions and artillery bombs and asteroid collisions boost men’s confidence because they’re always looking for an equalizer to prove size really doesn’t matter. Uh-huh. They’ve never been fully convinced.  MPj04030700000[1]

The metaphorical links between explosions and heated desires have been well established for eons. Good grief, “combustible” even contains the word “bust”.

To a guy, there’s nothing more thrilling than giant fireballs spewing debris and carnage. Don’t ask them to watch a movie that has a dramatic plot, one with actual dialogue and fully clothed stars. That would require too much cerebral effort for anything that lacks a powerful climax.

However, when I’m watching a movie, if something blows up during the first 15 minutes then I expect whatever follows to be a two-hour waste.

Unless, of course, that is the inciting incident that sends the heroine on a journey of self-discovery that takes her to some exotic locale, wherein she will meet some gorgeous hunk of hormones who is suffering some similarly tragic loss, and they will fall in love, drift apart, and then through some chance event reunite and eventually marry and live harmoniously, despite having four children, two dogs, a cat, an iguana and one mother-in-law sharing their quarters.

See, women are just more realistic when it comes to what they expect from films.

 

 

 

www.TotallySkewed.com

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Book Expo America: an inside look

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Having spent the past three days at Book Expo America, in New York City, I am now home. Seated comfortably in a lounge chair in my backyard, near Dallas, TX, I consider the contrast in these two vastly different environments.

It is quiet here, with only the occasional hum from a distant passing automobile. Purple finches and cardinals serenade from the trees overhead. Trickling streams cascade over a rock waterfall. My cat roams, searching for any sign of invaders.

This is not New York. Not even its distant cousin.

This is the space I share with my husband, an oasis from outside concerns, a place where I find solitude when needed.  However, only a day ago, in New York City, the scene looked more like this:

 Inside the Marriott Marquis Hotel I am challenged to select, from a series of alphabetized doors, the correct elevator to carry me to street level. 

Outside, throngs of tourists and locals compete for pavement along with schools of taxis, snaking busses and viciously circling Lincoln Town Cars. Horns blare, despite posted signs that threaten to fine violators $350 per offense.

Pedestrians pay no mind to walk lights or each other. Once caught in the flow of traffic, individuals must keep moving or risk being pounded by those who surely will.

Inside the Javits Convention Center, the cars, busses and taxis are no longer a threat. But the foot traffic is equally, if not more, hazardous than it is outdoors.

In here, there are no traffic lights or unified patterns. Booksellers, publishers, authors, librarians, literary agents and others move about at every imaginable pace—and in no particular direction.

People dressed as storybook characters wander through the crowds. These whimsical figures mix incongruently with the bikini-clad women who’re offering free pina coladas.

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An extraterrestrial-looking costumed pair holds a sign advertising a book about alien abductions. I can’t help myself. I laugh at their gray masks.

There is something here for everyone, whether fans of Harper Collins, Harlequin, Hay House, or L. Ron Hubbard.

A super-sized inflated Clifford greets visitors to the main floor atrium where media members periodically collect to film a variety of authors.

Educational classes are underway on the lower level. Inside the ballrooms, sessions are filled to standing room only capacities. I attend a few sessions, climbing over floor squatters to reach whatever crannies haven’t yet been occupied.

Every hour or half hour, depending on a predetermined schedule, authors rotate in and out from behind 30 autograph tables. Between classes, I bounce from line to line to obtain signed books and have my picture taken with The View host Sherri Shepherd.P1011007

Predominately, the action takes place on the main level, around the Random House, Simon & Schuster, Harper Collins and other major publishers’ booths. In these areas, ARCs (advanced reading copies) are distributed to those who arrive early enough to grab them. Occasionally, an author such as James Patterson may make a brief appearance.

I spot sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer, whom I had previously thought was dead. What can I say? Believe me, I’m not the only one who’s admitted this.

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 At the Ingram booth, a collection of gawkers (including myself) watches the new Espresso machine (billed as the “ATM for books”) print out an entire book, cover and all, within seconds.

By midday, my hands ache from hauling an ever-growing stash of books. My feet are throbbing from traversing the gargantuan facility, and I am tired of dodging those who are clearly more important to the book trade than I.

A stop for some much needed bottled water sets me back $3.75, but that’s just part of the carnival-like experience. In the old days, pre-recession, many of the publishers dispensed water and sodas for free. For the most part, those times have disappeared. I’m sure the food vendors aren’t disappointed.

My latest book has been nominated for an award. I try to appear happy when the winners’ names are announced, though mine is not among them. Oh, well, I tell myself, God must have something better for me. I force a smile and keep moving.

By the end of day two, I’ve scored a private meeting with an editor of a major publishing house, met a man I’ve been trying to contact for months (and nabbed his personal email address) and developed tons of new book marketing ideas. None of this, I realize, would have been possible from home, though by now I sorely miss the tranquility of Texas.

At night, in Time Square, I again meld with the undulating masses, snapping photos whenever safety permits. It seems as if I’m the only object here that’s not in perpetual motion.

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Suddenly I am struck by this revelation: I am but a single pixel in a mural of humanity.

That’s easy to forget, sometimes. Especially when I’m sitting quietly at home in my backyard.

 

 

 

 

 

Diana Estill is the author of Deedee Divine’s Totally Skewed Guide to Life.

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