Thursday, January 17, 2013

Murder by the Slice

So my friend Rob Cline has penned a novel called Murder by the Slice.  Bottom line - It's a fun read!

Murder by the Slice, as the name implies, is a murder mystery set in the modern day with an unlikely hero in the form of an underemployed pizza delivery driver / philosophy major, Paul.  As with all good hero stories, our hero gets tangled up accidentally (or by fate, destiny, the gods, whatever vehicle you choose) when he stumbles into the scene of a murder. What happens next in the 314 page ride is a series of twists and turns as Paul tries to extricate himself from the whole mess.  But, as often happens to reluctant heroes, the only way out is through figuring out whodunit without getting hurt or killed.

The supporting characters in the book are well written, and far enough from the usual stereotypes to be believable, which makes the book easy to get caught up in.  Even the unlikely attraction between a hot young reporter and our hapless, sorta ordinary hero comes across as genuine and sweet. The story arc is well written and easy to follow.  I read the whole book in the course of one day, since I had the time and it held my interest, always wondering what the next mini adventure would be.

One criticism, [SPOILER ALERT] would be the highly unlikely odds of finding a key to a safe in a file in a file cabinet full of files, in a room full of file cabinets, while under duress, then have the safe appear by chance as well.  It stretched the odds of probability a little too much for my mind. I hope that won't give too much away.  But that was the only point in the book that shook my willing suspension of disbelief enough to be distracting. [END SPOILER ALERT]

Another "criticism" I have is that, well, I know the author.  Let me explain.  I knew him well in high school and was Rob's college flat mate for awhile, so the old adage "write what you know" was filled almost to perfection.  In the movie in my mind, it was Rob playing the part of Paul.  Which was great fun.  I recognized traits of people in our circle of friends in the characters, I could easily picture the car, some of the scenarios, etc. based on a common history. I wondered if the main baddie was named for our drama director (last name), or me for that matter (first name). The criticism is, (I state with a grain of salt) that throughout the book I was waiting with anticipation for a reference to the philosophy of Star Trek to make an appearance.  I remember with great fondness coming back to our apartment after classes and having Star Trek on TV in one of its many forms.  Being a mild trekkie myself, I didn't mind a bit.  So I fully expected some mention of it in this tome. Maybe next time.

What impressed me was that I was able to believe that the events that took place could happen (even though my having experience at crime scenes and knowing that the odds of someone discovering a body having to go through all that Paul did are less than slim to none.) As I read, I could easily imagine the movie version of the book.  I liked the characters, good guys and bad guys.  The plot was fun and kept moving and kept me entertained, which is more than lots of murder mysteries are able to do! It avoids getting "dark" or "gritty", which is a relief from the majority of murder mysteries out there.  There is a good amount of humor, both in spoken words and situations, and reminded me of a good "Moonlighting" episode instead of "CSI:SVU".  All in all, a delightful book!

So, yeah.  If you want a fun murder mystery read, I would highly recommend this book, either in its physical form, or on your e-reader.  Oh, and Rob - when they make the movie, can I play the part of the dead body? :)

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Thursday, January 3, 2013


There are more goals for the new year floating around in my head.  Bows to build, glass to create, knives to fabricate. There are things I want to write about.  Places I want to see. Skills to learn.  So I'll make my lists and set my goals, and spend time daydreaming about them.

It is easy to make resolutions.  Harder though is being resolute.

Everyone makes plans of some sort.  Most people even make the traditional New Year Resolutions.  But too often, those plans fall through for one reason or the next.  Gyms and health clubs are packed this time of year, but by February the numbers will go down again.

So, how does one become resolute? If I had the answer to that, I'd be able to retire.  But I think what it comes down to is good, old fashioned, hard work.  Taking small steps towards that goal, and taking each day as it comes.  Having a plan to follow, but not getting discouraged when the plan falls through and must be changed.

Lots of little things add up to success.

So - Here is to being Resolute in the New Year!  May you take the many little steps that lead to success in whatever you chose to do!

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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Ahhh... The New Year Once More!

Hello 2013! Nice to meet you.  I'm looking forward to the adventures you will bring, and also to the chasing of the goals I've set for your twelve months.  But before we get to those, a reflection of 2012...

There were a ton of highlights, and to try and cover them all would take much of this new year.  So - just to touch on a few...

Bluefeather expanded into my full time job! Scary and exciting at the same time.  Orders filled and lots of cool things built. I am so very excited to see what I can do in this next year.

Kiddos growing like weeds. An 8 year old with an inquisitive mind and great insights. Reading at a Jr. High level, it is hard to find books that challenge him and are somewhat age appropriate.  A 4 year old who has discovered her inner teen.  Smart as a whip, and fearless to boot.  After the snow fell she perfected "penguining" - sledding with no sled, on her belly, arms out to the side and flying down the hill!  I love watching these kids grow, learn and develop!

Odonata Extravaganza.  This was our first full season of recording odes in our area, and what a season it was!  I added 19 records to 5 county lists (in 3 states!), and the Boyo added 2 more. both of the kids and I had a great time every time we went hunting, and we are looking forward to the spring when we can get out in the field again.

I went out to the Lakota rez in Pine Ridge a few times, and started some really great friendships with some really wonderful people. I got to experience a couple of sweat lodges and was honored to be invited to the Sun Dance.  Incredible experiences. Incredible.  I can't wait to get back out there and see my friends again.

So many other great things happened in 2012. Lots of laughter with friends and family. A beautiful, loving and extremely supportive wife. A roof over our heads and food in the cupboards.  We are really quite blessed.

We also had some not so great things happen. But one thing I have learned is that even when those bad things happen, there are silver linings. 

My mom and the Wife's dad both were in and out of the hospital with various health problems, though we are still very blessed to have all four parents in our lives.  We will continue to enjoy every day we have with them as best as we can.

I thought an injury would keep me out of the triathlons for a bit, but it turned out to be an arthritic hip, and the rehab and training will take lots longer than I had hoped.  Silver lining - I am going to focus more on the swimming and do some distance swims in place of lots of Tri's. And I am more determined than ever to get into better shape to slow the hip issues.

I lost some friends this year. Some to death, and some because of their closed minds. I miss most of them terribly.  But on the bright side, I'll see most of them again one day. Here, there or in the air, as we used to say at OLBC. Although initially painful, I can look back at all of the good memories with them, and focus on the love I have for them.

Which brings me nicely to the 2013 goals! 

The first and foremost is Forgiveness.

For those that know me, I am highly opinionated about some things. I don't form my opinions lightly or without reasons, and I stand by my beliefs unapologetically.  I have a great many friends who disagree with me on some issues.  Most of those friends are willing to agree that we disagree on some things, and we can still be friends.  I love this about my friends and family.  I love that we can even have heated arguments and at the end of it all, still respect each other. Unfortunately I have also lost a very few friends and a few family members because in their view, my disagreement with their opinion makes me a traitor or a monster, and they have cut me from their lives. 

My first reaction to this was anger.  Anger at their narrow minded views.  Their self righteous attitudes. Their arrogance at thinking that their beliefs in religion, government, society in general, is the only truth, and anyone disagreeing is an enemy. Most of all, anger with their desire to no longer be friends due to conflicting viewpoints. 

Then came sadness at no longer being involved in their lives. And sadness at their lack of interest in my family or my life.  But as the year came to a close, the anger and sadness went away and was replaced by forgiveness. I forgave them for their hurtful words and actions. I forgave myself for feeling the anger towards them.  And in forgiving came a freedom from worrying about what they think anymore.  Freedom from their hatred.  Freedom to love them for who they are and what they believe.  It was really quite liberating!  So one of my goals for 2013 is to forgive those who wrong me and let it go. And forgive myself as well.

Next up is a resolution to be more bold.  It may sound strange to those who know me.  But I am often fraught with paralyzing self doubt and second guessing about things.  I didn't have this problem performing my duties as a medic, as I was trained for the job and very confident in my abilities.  From this year forward, my job is creating art.  ART!  I have little to no formal training in what I do.  I taught myself to make knives.  I taught myself to work with glass and steel. I have no degrees or certifications as an artist.  I felt the same way putting my music on CD's and putting those out there.  What would people think?  What if they didn't like it?  What if they did?

In this new iteration as an artist, I have played it pretty safe.  I honed my glass skills, my knifemaking skills, etc. Stay close to simple and proven methods. I stick pretty close to what I know.  But, you know what?  I'm pretty dang good at what I do! I make some really cool stuff! Really cool ART! So... This year I am going to be BOLD.  I'm going to explore new techniques, new designs, new materials. I'm going to try mixing the media I work with. I'm going to cultivate confidence in my art, and start showing it at festivals, shows, anyplace I can find where I can maybe sell some and make a solid living doing what I love.  I absolutely LOVE creating. This year I will embrace the moniker of ARTIST and charge full force into it.

All of my other resolutions are pretty standard.  Get in better shape, lose some weight, make better use of my time. That sort of thing. (Or as the Boyo would say, "All that jazz.")  I do want to do a couple of distance swims this year. A minimum of 5K would be nice.  Maybe start training for a marathon distance swim. 

So, be bold with what I love. Forgive others and myself. And stick to the old USMC (Delta Dog) motto - Semper Gumby, Baby... Always flexible.

Welcome 2013.  I'm looking forward to you!

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