Somewhen Over the Rainbow…

Everybody’s gotta be somewhere.

That ‘somewhere’ could be over the rainbow, wearing ruby slippers and running from the Wicked Witch.  It could be in a dark alley, running from an attacker, hoping the shadows will hide you, protect you, wrap you in their cloak of warm night.  Somewhere could be sprawled on a sofa watching Coronation Street, with a box of Maltesers and a cup of tea to keep you company, running from the stresses of the day.
But you’ve just got to be somewhere.

Whatever the tensions or reliefs your life may pounce upon to leave at your feet like the half eaten remnants of cat for its beloved owner, you will always find yourself there.
But, what if you didn’t?  What if Somewhere was just the same as, well, somewhere?  That makes perfect sense in my head.  It doesn’t make so much sense written down.  It’s as if the words looked at each other, went ‘Huh?’ and fell about laughing.
I mean, somewhere could be Oz, an alley or on your sofa.  But what if actually being in a place at all was something you could choose?  What if you could take yourself out of PLACE completely?  WHERE was a pin on a map and all you needed to do was step off the map into nowhere?  The Wicked Witch and the potential attacker would never find you.
Granted you’d also not be able to buy Maltesers or tea bags.
But, what if?
Would you float in darkness?  Would there be a sort of murky light, hinting at the periphery of your vision so you weren’t sure if it existed at all or if your mind was simply filling in gaps it thought your brain had suddenly realised had appeared?  Would you feel substance?  Would you feel?
I suppose you wouldn’t.  I suppose your senses wouldn’t be able to take that step with you and would have to mill around on the precipice, passing the time by playing leap frog with each other and games of I Spy.  Not that you would know what Time was, of course.  Not that Time would know what Time was, either.  Nowhere would have to be nowhen, too.  Time would have nothing to hold on to.  Nothing to stroke with its decaying touch.
Would you find yourself standing in a crowded room, surrounded by the spirits of those who had lived and passed, each waiting for something that couldn’t happen because waiting was wasted when there was no Time to count the passing seconds.  Or seconds to count.
Fears and foes would be unable to reach you there.  So would wit, wishes and wonder.  Good and bad, opposite sides of a tossed coin curling in the air, could only watch as you spun endlessly in a field of emptiness.
Everybody’s gotta be somewhere.
But what if…?  Nah.  There’d be nowhere to plug in your kettle.
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Making a Metz of things…

Hi everyone!  How the devil are you?  Such a pleasure to see you all again!  Well, what a jolly-dee day we’re having today.  The mighty Metz has wandered off the street and hunkered on down in the asylum for a spell.  How’d you like to meet her?
What’s your name?
Puddintane. Just kidding. I can’t help but think of that answer whenever that question is asked. My name is Amy Metz. And I’m a bookaholic.

At least you’re honest about that.  I can think of worse things to be.  I am one of those worse things, in fact.  Where are you from?
Some call it the 502… the Ville… River City… I call it Louavull… others know it as Louisville, Kentucky.
A town of many names.  Did they all get thrown up in the air to se which one would stick?  I wonder, sometimes, if that’s what happened with my name.  Do you like living there?  If not, where would your favourite place to live be?  Is yes, where would you least like to live?
Louisville is a great place to live, but the body of water we have is a river, and I would love to live by the ocean. I think Charleston, South Carolina or one of the little islands near Charleston would be perfect. Since it gets so hot and humid there in the summer, I’d live in New England for the summer months.

I’ve seen photos of New England, and I can relate.  I’ve lived alongside a river and it was wonderful to see the swans with their little cygnets.  As for the ocean, Grimsby is surgically joined to Cleethorpes, a seaside town.  It is nice to go down occasionally on a fine day and have fish’n’chips along the beach, or take your dog for a run.  I love the sound of the ocean too, though at Cleethorpes it’s drowned out by seagulls and tourists.  As you’re a writer, is this your ‘day job’?
Yes it is. Some may call it my hobby, since I’ve yet to make any money, but I consider it my day job, night job, all-the-time job when I don’t have mom stuff to do. Being a mom comes first, although I only have one son still at home, and he has a driver’s license and is pretty self-sufficient, so I have more time to write.

That’s cool.  I know someone who’d love to be a full time writer, but Life hasn’t got round to noticing that as yet.  Maybe one day.  Tell me about your latest project.
Right now I’m editing Murder & Mayhem in Goose Pimple Junction, readying it for republishing when my current contract with a publisher is up. I’m also editing the heck out of the second book in my Goose Pimple Junction mystery series. And I’m working on GPJ3 and a GPJ novella, which is supposed to kind of fill in the gaps between books one and two.
Goose Pimple Junction.  That has to be my favourite ever place name.  How do you feel about bacon?  A crazy person once said it was the food of the gods.  OK, I admit that person was myself…
You know, bacon gets a bad rap. The nitrate thing is a non-issue if you don’t burn or overcook your bacon, or if you cook it in the oven. It also has essential vitamins and minerals, and… wait. What was the question? Oh, yes, I do like bacon. I particularly love bacon, lettuce, and fried green tomato sandwiches (blfgt). Now that’s good eatin’.

Erm…  Nitrates and vitamins?  I wasn’t aware stuff like that was an issue when talking about bacon.  It’s all about the bacon!  Anywho.  What’s your favourite film?
Okay, don’t make fun of me for this, but I have to say my favorite is Pride & Prejudice. And yes, ladies, Colin Firth is wonderful, but Matthew Macfadyen is and always will be my Mr. Darcy. sigh.

It’s fine.  I won’t make fun.  It’s not nice to mock the afflicted.  Actually I’ve never been into period dramas such as that.  Not enough explosions.  Have you always wanted to be a writer, or is it something you found yourself doing one day?
It’s something I found myself doing one day after my mother was diagnosed with vascular dementia. Robert B. Parker was talking about my mom when he said, “She was often wrong but never uncertain.” And once the dementia took hold, well, look out—that trait intensified. The stress of trying to be her caretaker was ginormous. Every interaction with her was frustrating, but some of the things that happened or things she said were actually funny (after the fact), and I thought writing a book about it would be therapeutic for me and helpful to others in a similar situation. At the very least, I thought it might be entertaining. In fact, beta readers told me they felt guilty at being entertained by my pain.

But in addition to writing being therapeutic for me, I found that I really liked it. I also found I needed an escape from reality and from writing about reality, so I started writing a humorous southern mystery. The characters have yet to leave me alone.

I’m sure Shaun thinks something similar about me – writing me seems to be a form of therapy for him, and (in return) I won’t leave him alone!  Do you have so many ideas they dribble out of your nose if you don’t get them down, or do you have to hunt around the floor and the back of your sofa to find where your Muse is hiding?
Both. When the dribble starts, it can be a gusher, and I scramble to write everything down. But other times, lately most of the time, I’m looking for that little booger everywhere.

Sounds delightful…  Always carry tissue.  Works for Mucous Mickey.  If you were in an asylum, what would your particular delusion or psychosis be?
It would be dissociative identity disorder, better known as multiple personality disorder. I think it would be cool to have someone more exciting than me living inside me. I wonder if I’d be my own best friend. It also would be fun to mess with visitors. They’d never know who they were visiting. Who are you today, Amy? I know people with that disorder don’t find it cool, and I’m really not making light of the disorder, so if you’re inclined to write letters protesting that comment, address them to Mamie Metz, care of Amy. J

Again, I’m sure Shaun would empathise, what with me living in his head!  You’re definitely fitting in well here.  What genre(s) do you write?
My first completed manuscript was a children’s book that is currently collecting rejection letters, my memoir is nearing completion, a thriller is in the works, as are two chick lit novels, but right now my focus is on the cozy mystery series.

Not much then!  What genres(s) do you read?
Amy likes mysteries—Robert B. Parker is the man—but Mamie likes chick lit.

Does that not get confusing?  Luckily Shaun and I have very similar tastes.  In books and films, at any rate.  If these are the same, what attracts you to them.  If they’re different, why do you think that is?
Um… dissociative identity disorder…

Oh yes.  Of course.  I wonder if you have to pay two fares on the bus.  And, bacon – just cooked or crispy?
Crispy, man. Fry the heck out of it.

Well said!  Now you’re in the asylum with me, how do you aim to get out?  Do you have an escape plan?
Hmmm…I would call Spenser. He’d know what to do.

Well,  Amy, I don’t think anyone is going to be able to help you in here now!  I’m just going to move up a chair or too.  Nothing personal, you understand.  Numb bum.  Yes, that’s it.
Enjoy an excerpt from Murder & Mayhem:

Chapter 1

May 2010 

“You are dumber ‘n a soup sandwich, Earl.”

“Oh yeah? Well, you’re a hole in search of a doughnut, Clive.”

Tess Tremaine walked into Slick & Junebug’s Diner, past the two gentlemen arguing at the counter, and slid into one of the red vinyl booths. The old men were arguing good-naturedly, and she imagined they were probably lifelong friends, passing the time of day.


Tess smiled as she looked around the diner. She was happy with her decision to move to this friendly town. Everyone greeted her cheerfully and went out of their way to be nice. It was a pretty place to live, too. Every street in the small town was lined with decades-old trees in front of old, well-kept homes full of character, just like the citizens. She was confident she’d made the right choice. This was a good place to heal from her divorce and start a new life.

A raised voice at the counter brought Tess out of her thoughts. One of the old men spoke loud enough for the whole diner to hear.

“If I had a dog as ugly as you, I’d shave his butt and make him walk backwards,” he said, jabbing his index finger at the other man.

A waitress appeared at the table. Tess hadn’t seen a beehive hairdo in person until she saw this waitress. With her pink uniform dress and white apron, she looked like she jumped out of a page from the sixties. Her nametag said, “Willa Jean.”

“Don’t mind those two old coots.” Willa Jean hitched her head in their direction. “They’re about as dumb as a box a hair, but they’re gentle souls underneath. Their problem is one of ‘em’s always tryin’ to one-up the other.”

She got her pad and pencil out of her front apron pocket, ready to take Tess’s order, but she stopped and cocked her head, staring hard at Tess, and smacking her gum.

“Anybody ever tell you, you look like Princess Di? I just loved her, didn’t you?” She bent her head slightly to the side to look at Tess’s legs under the table. “’Cept you look a might shorter ‘n Di was. How tall are you?”

“Five-five.” Tess couldn’t help smiling at the compliment.

“Yep. What we have here is a mini Diana. And your hair color is a reddish-blond instead of a blonde-blonde like my girl Di. Other ‘n that, honey, you could be her clone.”

“Thank you. You just earned a big tip.” Tess’s smile lit up her face.

The waitress winked at Tess. “What can I gitcha?”

“I think I’ll just have a Coke and a ham sandwich, please.”

“Anything on that? Wanna run it through the garden?”

“Run it through the . . . “ Tess’s brow furrowed.

“Yeah, you know . . . lettuce, tomato, and onion. The works.”

“Oh! Just mustard, please.”Willa Jean nodded and hollered the order to the cook as she went towards the kitchen. “Walkin’ in! A Co’Cola and Noah’s boy on bread with Mississippi mud.”

Tess smiled and looked around the diner. The front counter was lined with cake plates full of pies covered in meringue piled six-inches high, cakes three and four layers tall, and two-inch thick brownies. Six chrome stools with red leather seats sat under the counter. The walls were packed with framed snapshots from as far back as the fifties. From the looks of it, they started taking pictures when poodle skirts were popular and never stopped. They were running out of wall space. The top half of the big picture window was covered with a “Henry Clay Price For Governor” banner. Tess spotted similar signs throughout the restaurant, and she’d noticed the waitress was wearing a campaign button.

The diner was only half full with about twenty people at various tables and booths. A few tables away, a mother was having trouble with her child. Tess heard the mother say, “I’m fixin’ to show you what a whoopin’ is all about!” When the little boy whined some more the mother added, “I mean it son, right now, I’d just as soon whoop ya as hug ya.” She looked up to see Tess watching them and said, “I’ll swan— raisin’ kids is like bein’ pecked to death by a chicken.”

Tess laughed. “I know what you mean. But you just wait. In ten years time, you’ll be wishing he were five again. The time goes by so fast.”

“How many you got?”

“Just one. My son’s twenty-five now, but it doesn’t seem possible.”

“You married?” the woman asked boldly.

“Divorced,” Tess answered.

“Here’s yer Co’cola, hon,” Willa Jean said. “It’ll be just a minute more on the sandwich. You visitin’ or are ya new in town?” She propped a hand on her waist.

“Brand new as of a week ago. I’ve been unpacking boxes for days. I guess you could say this is my debut in Goose Pimple Junction.”

“Well, all Southern Belles have to have a debut. And we’re mighty glad to have ya, sugar. Lessee . . . did you buy the old Hobb house on Walnut?”

“My house is on Walnut, but I believe the previous owner’s name was York.”

“Yep, that’s the one I’m thinkin’ of. Houses ‘roundcheer are known for the families that lived in ‘em the longest. Them Hobbs had the house for over seventy years, up until old Maye Hobb Carter died a few years back. It was her late huband’s family home and then hers, even when she remarried. She was a sweet old soul, bless her heart. We all hated to lose her, but it was her time. She had a hard life, and I reckon she was ready to meet her maker. Her daughter still lives in town, but she and an older sister are all that’s left of the Hobbs ‘round here. Mmm-mmm— the things that family went through.”

“Willa!” the cook behind the counter yelled. “Order up!”

“Hold yer pants on, Slick,” she yelled and then turned to Tess. “Be right back.” Willa hurried off to get the order and came bustling back with Tess’s sandwich. “It was nice talkin’ with ya, hon. I’ll leave ya to eat in peace. Holler if ya need anything else.”

A few minutes later the door to the diner opened, and almost every head turned to see who came in. Tess noticed everybody, except for her, raised a hand up in greeting, and a few said, “Hidee, Jackson.” The man’s eyes caught Tess’s and held them a little longer than normal. He sat down at the counter with his back to her and ordered iced tea. Willa waited on him, and Tess heard her say, “You don’t need ta be any sweeter than ya already are, Jackson. I’ma give you unsweetened tea.” She leaned across the counter looking up at him adoringly.

“Don’t you dare Willa Jean or I will take my bidness elsewhere!” he said with a big smile.

Big flirt, Tess thought.

He was a good-looking man who looked to be in his early to mid- fifties, Tess guessed, but she wasn’t in the market. Being newly divorced, the last thing she needed was to get involved with another man.

As far as I’m concerned, they’re all Martians and are to be avoided at all cost. Men Are From Mars, And Women Are From Venus wasn’t a best seller for nothing, she thought.

The door to the diner opened and a middle-aged man of medium height, dressed in a conservative suit and tie stuck his head in. “Vote for Henry Clay Price for governor, folks,” he said, with a wide politician’s smile
.
“You know it, Henry Clay. You’re our man. We’re proud as punch to have you runnin’,” Willa Jean said.

Other than the smile, Henry Clay didn’t look like a politician. He had thinning auburn hair that was almost brown, and he wore round wire-rimmed eyeglasses on a round face. He reminded Tess a little of an absentminded professor.

“You gonna let out all the bought air?” Slick grumped, and Henry Clay waved and closed the door, then ambled on down the sidewalk.

Tess finished eating and walked to the counter to pay her bill. Willa gave her change and said, “Nice meetin’ ya, hon. Don’t be a stranger, now!”

As she closed the door she heard one of the men at the counter tell the other, “Yer so slow, it would take you two hours to watch 60 Minutes!”

“I love this town,” she whispered to herself.

Amy has a whole host of links to peruse.  You can find her good self here:

Website:  http://amymetz.com

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I Used to be a Wolf…

…But I’m alright now-ooooo!
Following on from my previous review of a film which promised much but failed to deliver, here’s a film which is the complete opposite. 
That’s not to say The Wolf of Wall Street didn’t receive lots of critical acclaim and , more importantly, the public’s acclaim, because it did. What I mean is, for me, I didn’t feel the lure of a movie about the stock market. I know nothing about stocks and shares, or even if they’re the same thing. I own a few but my knowledge is minimal – as is my interest.
I like some DiCaprio films but not others. I didn’t like The Beach, but thought Inception was amazing, for example. So I was completely unsure about The Wolf. 

Friends at work and customers of my wife had said it was brilliant. We had to give to give it a go. It wasn’t until the film had started we realised it was almost 3 hours long!
We needn’t have worried. The pace of the film is, mostly, so fast we didn’t notice. Sure, there are a couple of lags at various points, but DiCaprio just owns the screen. He’s sharp and there are some hilarious moments. 

Margo Robbie, his wife in the film, is simply stunning. She’s come a long way from her stint in the Australian soap Neighbours, a show which also launched Kylie, Guy Pierce and Alan Dale, who’s appreares in everything from Lost to Indiana Jones to, more recently, Captain America the Winter Soldier.  Margo and the rest of the cast (Jonah Hill, Matthew McConaughey and so on) are all excellent and this is a film that excuses class and a wit so sharp it could cut itself. 
That this is a true story, more or less, is amazing. For a man in the street such as I, to even imagine the amounts of money thrown around here beggars belief.
All in all, this film is definitely one to watch. I’ll reserve judgement on such things in the future! 
Oh watch out for the part after he passes out making a call. SO funny.
A well deserved 8/10
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Starred Down!

This blog post was originally going to be a rant, but I’ve changed my mind today.  The rant is now hanging in the air, like the blue smoke of a cigarette, waiting to descend and choke someone.
It can linger a little longer.
Instead, we can go for something a touch lighter.  A review, and then maybe something extra if I have time.
Well, I say ‘lighter’.  Neither the subject matter of the film nor my opinion of it are light, but at least it’s not a rant.
You know how some films have masses of amazing reviews, with stars adorning the posters and critics raving, but the film itself doesn’t live up to the hype?  Of course you do.  It happens numerous times.  Well, Starred Up is one of those movies, I’m afraid.
I’d not heard of this film prior to seeing it.  My wife had seen a trailer on television and wanted to see it.  I’ve never been a fan of ‘hooligan’ films, such as Green Street etc., and Starred Up seemed to be one, so it really didn’t appeal.  This wasn’t because there was going to be no spaceship, alien or hobbit in sight – I do like a lot of films that are not fantastical in any way.  They simply don’t do anything for me.
But, my wife fancied it and it meant we could have a ‘date night’, and I love the cinema anyway, so I said go for it.  And we went for it.
Before we left home, I watched the trailer to have an idea what I was letting myself in for.  I wouldn’t normally do this, but as this film was something new, I wanted to have a look-see.  I admit, after watching the trailer, I, too, thought it might be good.
The cinema wasn’t that full, but there was a decent amount of people there without it feeling either empty or claustrophobic.  We settled down and I was looking forward to the show.
Well.  I’m not going to go into a long commentary on the finer points of prison life or the treatment of prisoners.  I’m not going to dwell on too much really.

I didn’t like it. 

The acting was ok.  Good, in fact, mostly. It just didn’t seem to go very far.  Not a lot seemed to happen, apart from an extensive use if a certain four letter swear word beginning with C and ending in T.

We only became interested when the interaction between the film’s main character and his father kicked off – ten minutes before the end!

It was a disappointment. I wouldn’t go as far as those behind us who said the film was another four letter word beginning with S and ending, again, with T, but it wasn’t nearly as good as all those stars suggested. 

Starred Up should be starred down so I’m giving it 3/10.  You might enjoy it. 

I didn’t. 

As I have a two year old wanting to play doctor with me as the patient, I don’t have time to add something else as I said I might. I’ll be back, though – as long as she says I’m well enough. 
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Shaun Allan – The Nature of the Beast

What is Sin?

That depends.  Do you mean the person, or the act?  Is ‘sin’ an act?  Is it a state of mind or being?  Is it a malicious streak running red through your heart?

Doing bad things with good intentions.  Does that count as ‘sin;?  Or does that fact that you’re stealing that loaf to feed your family or killing that man to stop him murdering hundreds… does that make the act innately good, because your heart isn’t slashed by Sin’s vicious talons?

Then there’s me.

Sin-sin-siree, there’s no place for me.

I’m an ordinary guy.  An ‘Ordinary Joe’.  No frills, bargain basement, shops own brand – though I don’t think the local Tesco would even think twice about stocking any of me on their shelves.  Watch where you put that price sticker mister!

Am I bad because bad things happen around me?  Or rather, because of me?  Is Sin sinful?

I think so.  Well, people die.  That’s can’t be good, can it?  Believe me, please, please believe me – I don’t want it to be like that.  I don’t want others to suffer at my hand, whether they feel my touch or are just touched by me.  I would rather their cries didn’t haunt me.  I would prefer it if, instead of their deaths, I simply had my own life.

But I don’t.  It’s not my life, is it?  When my will is not my own, when the beast within me bursts forth to consume the innocent, that’s not my life.  I’m held hostage by a force not of my own creation.  If I could expel it, I would.  An exorcism.  A cleansing.

But I don’t feel dirty, just dirtied.  I’m not possessed – I am the possessor.  The demon isn’t in me, it IS me.

But it would be nice – it would be good – if that were not the case.

So.

Forgive me, reader, for I am Sin.

But does that make me SINful?


They call me Reverend.

I suppose they would, considering my actual name.  But I’m also the one who helps them.  The one who listens.  Is that because I’m the only truly sane one in here?  I use the term ‘sane;’ very loosely, of course.  But I don’t fly off the handle like a witch after a bucketful of vodka.  I know that there’s no point in losing my temper as it’s a sure way to be the pea in the princess’s bed – the orderlies being the mattresses piled on top.

If I lose my temper – usually anyway – it’s because I need to.  It’s because the screams are too loud and I need them quieting.  it’s because, ever so slightly, the drugs help me forget.

Anywho.  I’m the Reverend.  I almost said ‘for my sins’… but I won’t.  The same people that called me that also called Benny the ‘Bender’ and Mickey ‘Mucous’.  I don’t wear a white collar and I don’t hold sermons.  But, nonetheless, they call me the Reverend.

But I’m not religious.  Not really.  I think I believe in a higher power (well, considering my own ‘talents’ I have to believe in more than this mere mortal plane), but I’m not sure.  I don’t know if there’s a single bearded guy sitting up there or a host of them, playing chess with our lives.  Or even jackal-headed creatures walking around swinging ankhs.  As such, am I even qualified to talk about what sin is or isn’t?

Oh, I think I am.  Don’t you?


So…  Sin.

What is it?  Other than me, that is.  What is the nature of ‘SIN’?  And who says what is actually sinful?

Well, I suppose it depends on which deity butters your toast in the morning.  If any.  One man’s sin is another’s pleasure.  And one man’s pleasure is another doorway into Purgatory.

Going down?  Third floor, electrical good.  Second floor, ladies wear and lingerie.  First floor is our newly refurbished restaurant.  Try the chicken salad, it’s delicious.

Ground floor…  Hell.

Mind the step.

Whether you’re Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Shinto or Jedi, you each have your own rules for what is right or wrong.  But is it as cut and dried as that?  Can ‘wrong’ be, under the correct circumstances, a shiver closer to ‘right’?  A paler shade of white?

Feed that family with the stolen loaf.  Kill that killer…

It’s not up to me to decide.  It’s up to you and your God, god or gods.  And I use the terms asexually.  Don’t crucify me for missing the ‘ess’ off.  Hey some people worship Justin Beiber.  And they call me disturbed.

But, I’m not here to judge.  How can I?  After what I’ve done – or at least what I’m responsible for?  No.  You and your conscience can fight it out amongst yourself.  No biting, no spitting and no kicking in the doodads.

Do you have to believe in God to believe in sin?  Is it simply understanding the distinction between right and wrong?  Good and evil?  Heads and tails?  There’s a growing trend in the youth of today, our offspring – those that shall inherit what’s left of the Earth – to not believe in a god of any kind.  Or at least to not think about it enough to believe.  That doesn’t necessarily make them ‘godless’.  They still try to save the planet, feed the starving, get to the next level on Call of Duty.  There’s still good in those that believe we’re here, then we die and we’re not.

So they no what it is not to sin (and TO sin), but they don’t necessarily think of it as ‘sin’.  It’s something you do.  Not something you are or you commit.

Deadly Sins.  Cardinal Sins.  Venial Sins.  So many types, a veritable pick’n’mix of depravity.

Regards

 

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