Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Story

A man came home from work one evening to find his children playing in the yard in their pajamas. The flower beds he'd put in the week before were ripped out and most of the dirt was all over the kids' pjs. The rest of it was tracked into the house.

In the living room the dog was chewing the last of what he recognized as his best pair of shoes. The drapes had been ripped down and the cat was using one for its new litter box.

The kitchen was almost unrecognizable under all the dirty dishes, half-empty cereal cartons, and spilled juice boxes. The refrigerator door was open, the freezer was open, and thawing ice cream dripped onto the floor.

In the master bedroom her found his wife, lounging on the bed, reading a novel.

"What happened here?" he demanded.

She smiled at him. "You know how every day you come home from the office and ask me what in the world I did all day? Well, today, I didn't do it."

Monday, December 27, 2010

December 27 and Still No Vince

Well, here it is, two days after Christmas and still no card from Vince Flynn. And I think I know why.

Vince Flynn, as all haunters of Barnes and Nobel, Costco, Walmart and airport book kiosks know, is an author of VBD (Very Big Deal) standing. His thrillers- and I must say, they are indeed thrilling- are megasellers. He has fans all over the globe. And he lives here in the Twin Cities.

Which is how, I am certain, he found out about Sugar Plum Days.

Every year a couple of weeks before Christmas, the Altar and Rosary Society of the Church of the Holy Family- my hangout- hosts a Christmas bazaar and bake sale. You know the deal- crafts for sale, a visit from Santa, kids sugared out of their minds. This year, the lovely ladies of the AaRS asked if they could offer copies of my book, "Breakfast with the Pope," for sale as a fundraiser.

Which was fine. Except for the fact that the never asked Vince Flynn if they could sell his books. And I mean, never.

"We'd love to display your books," the head AaRS lady said. "But please, don't tell Vince Flynn, okay? We're not selling his and we don't want to hurt his feelings."

Well, I don't know how he found out, but it's clear to me Vince got wind of it. And I'm pretty sure he's still mad.

I tried. I wrote a letter to him on my other blog, which you can find by going to I tried to explain that it wasn't my fault. I mean, face it, Vince! Not everyone is up to the Altar and Rosary Society's standards. That's just the way it is.

Anyway, in the letter on the blog I tried to tell him I felt bad about the whole thing and I hoped he could overlook it. But I think he's still mad. Otherwise why wouldn't he send me a Christmas card?

Now I, of course, am far too lazy to send out Christmas cards. I mean, the card shopping, the address lists, the post office- it just never ends, so I don't get involved. But since obviously Vince is a lot more energetic than me- anyone who publishes a dozen books in a dozen years has got to be energetic- he must send out Christmas cards to half the world.

But not to me.

Vince? Look, I said I was sorry. You just gotta let this one go, buddy. I'd hate for things to be awkward at the next meeting of the Twin Cities Chapter of Famous Author Types.

Who, by the way, also haven't sent me any cards this year.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Steve Landesberg, RIP

"Barney Miller's" Dietrich has died at age 65. The spouse and I loved that show.

Early Christmas Gift

Shopping at the mall yesterday. In one of those girly-girly stores that sell cool clothes for tweeners.

Young mom with toddler in stroller approaches. "Ma'am? I've finished my shopping. Do you need a coupon? I won't be using it again."

Hands me a computer coupon worth 40% off all purchases!

"Wow!" I beamed. "Gee, thanks!"

"You're welcome! Merry Christmas!" She smiles and starts wheeling stroller out of store. Tosses back over her shoulder, "Now you can buy even more gifts for your grandkids!"

Note to self: touch up roots today.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Getting the Bird for Christmas

At the supermarket today I stopped by the Community Bulletin Board. This time every year they post photographs of local kids and the Santa who visited the store last weekend. Holiday memories, don'cha know.

Only this year I think Santa joined the ranks of memories. Because he wasn't in the pictures.

The kids looked cute, as usual, but I have to say many of them looked, well, uncomfortable. Puzzled. Baffled, even.

Actually they looked kind of freaked out.

Which is probably how I'd look, too, if a giant ptarmigan were trying to put his stubby little wing around my shoulders.

I read last week that a YMCA in New York canceled Santa's visit to the children this year in favor of a drop-in by Frosty the Snowman. The powers that be at the Y had decided that Frosty was a more "inclusive" figure than Jolly Old St. Nick--

OMG!! Did I just say "Saint"? Well, thank God the Young Men's Christian Association tossed him out on his fat white glutes. Obviously they had to get rid of him. You can't have saints around at Christmastime--

OMG!! Did I just say "Christmas?" Oh, jeez. Sorry, everybody.

Some professional Santas were asked what they thought of this move by the Y. A Jewish man who has played Santa in Central Park for twenty years was disgusted. "They're not thinking of the kids," he fumed. Because, as we all know, Frosty the Snowman DOES NOT GIVE OUT PRESENTS. You're bad, you're good, Frosty doesn't give a damn. He just watches the thermometer, that's it. Really gives the average American child a thrill, wondering if Frosty will turn into a puddle anytime soon.

I thought substituting Frosty for Santa was bad enough. But a giant ptarmigan? What is this world coming to? What's he going to do, hand out frozen fish?

There are those who would nitpick. "It's not a ptarmigan, it's a penguin." My eye, it's a penguin. Penguins have some dignity. Not this giant beaked creature. It looked like it just lost a bet and had to take the last available Christmas-ish costume. It looked stumpy, even though it was probably six feet tall.

Well, the ptarmigan did it for me. I'm going to say "Merry Christmas" to absolutely everyone I meet until the 6th of January. I'm going to don a furry red stocking cap and stuff my pockets with jingle bells.

And if I see any signs of "Meet Sammie the Christmas Seal," I'm going to start carrying a club.

Two Days In Texas

I spent the weekend in Texas. The spouse and I were attending a wedding in Dallas-- a beautiful wedding, one of the loveliest I've ever seen. And OMG, the food was fantastic.

Now I'm back in Minnesota, where it's 18 degrees. That sounds harsh if you compare it to Dallas' 60-something temps yesterday, but trust me, for Minneapolis it's positively balmy. The forecast is for a few inches of snow later today.

Strolling around Dallas, seeing the fall leaves still on the trees, the pansies still blooming in the borders, the grass still emerald green, I asked myself: Arent' you glad you live in a place where there's real winter? Where they don't have to spray paint the snow or shroud their shrubbery in burlap? Where Santa doesn't look, well, a little overdressed?

And I answered myself: What are you, nuts? I'd take a 60-degree Christmas any day.

I realize my views are not shared by everyone. My daughter thinks snow is the greatest thing in the world, and I have friends who actually enjoy things like skating on frozen lakes or cross-country skiing their way to work in the morning. Some of my neighbors even jog all through the winter.

When I first came to Minnesota I would look at those joggers and think, They have a lot more character than I do. Why aren't I out there jogging along with them?

Answer: Because I'd rather not be found frozen stiff by the side of the road, thank you very much.

I can't help it. I'm just not a winter person. Even with all its lovely creature comforts- fireplaces, hot toddies, the beautiful silence of new-fallen snow, I just was not cut out for this climate.

At the post-wedding brunch people were trying to tell themselves how not-so-bad winter back in Minnesota was. "At least it snows. It doesn't rain, like in Chicago, or New York. They have sloppy winters. Ours is nice and tidy, provided your snowblower doesn't break down." All the while they're looking out the window at the spring-like Texas weather and thinking, I wonder if there's any way I could move here....

But no. Not gonna happen. So back to the not-for-the-faint-of-heart winter of the Upper Midwest. And tell yourself, I am one tough Minnesotan.

Either that or I'm out of my mind.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Up Early

Well here it is, 5 am and yours truly is up and about. I have fed the dogs, put them out, chased the chihuahua into the yard (we're still working on the housebreaking thing), assured the labrador that nothing was her fault, and rewarded the chihuahua for going outside with popcorn. I have switched on the fireplace and brewed the tea.

Yep. I'm ready.

Ready for my "Morning Air" interview, which according to my calendar is at 6 am.

I love doing radio interviews. You don't have to blow dry your hair or put in your contacts, you don't even have to change out of your pajamas. All you need is your phone and your voice.

As to how long my voice will hold up, that is an open question. My daughter is down with something that looks a lot like the flu. I figure any minute now I'll come down with it too and be even more miserable than she is. Or at least I'll show it more.

In the meantime I'll bone up on my "Breakfast with the Pope" knowledge. There could be a pop quiz this morning.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Snow Day

We got around seventeen inches of snow last yesterday. The dome of the Metrodome collapsed under the weight of the snow and the Vikings had to postpone their game. This was probably a relief to a lot of Vikings fans.

Anticipating the blizzard I stocked up on essentials such as "Foamies" craft kits and old Bob Hope movies. Our sideboard is now a veritable gallery of Foamy art, and we have watched "The Road to Morocco" three times. If anybody is up to doing the "pattycake" gag, I'm your girl.

Native Minnesotans soldier on in weather like this. It's really amazing. They go about their business, taking kids to school and going to the grocery store as if nothing was wrong. I've been here seven years now and I still can't get over it.

People of Minnnesota, let me point something out;

And there is no break in the weather forecast for days. I'll be holed up here with Bing Crosby if anyone wants me.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

My First Book Signing!

Yesterday I had my first ever book signing event. It was at the Barnes and Noble Bookstore at the Har Mar Mall in Roseville, Minnesota. The B&N folks said if we sold 20 books that would be a huge success. We sold 77. We were delighted and so was Barnes and Noble.

The event was a blast. Like I said it was my first, and I wasn't quite sure how you do these things. We started out chatting, then someone said I should hold a Q&A, in which I think I did all right-- at least, no one who had a "Q" listened to my "A" and then said "What the hell are you talking about? That wasn't what I asked you!"

I don't know about you but I call a lack of blank stares one heck of a success.

There was only one dark cloud on my book- signing sunshine. There's no other way to say it so I'll just come right out and say it:

Vince Flynn didn't come.

Now, I know a couple of things about Vince Flynn. I know he's a best-selling author. I know he writes military thrillers. I know you can buy his books in Costco. I know he lives here in the Twin Cities.

And I know he knows exactly where the Har Mar Mall is.

How do I know this, you ask? Because he's held signing events there too. In fact that's one of the reasons I was so thrilled to be going there. I mean, maybe I'd be signing books at the very same table Vince used. I might even get to hold the same pen. Does life get any better than that?

But Vince didnt' come to the Har Mar Mall yesterday. He skipped my signing. And I think I know why.

So, an open letter to Vince Flynn.

Dear Vince:

You skipped my signing. Not only did you not buy a book; you didn't even come to hang around the edges of the crowd and snicker. "I sold a thousand books at this mall, Vigilante. You think you got what it takes? Haw haw haw."

And I know why, Vince. I know why.

You're still mad about Sugar Plum Days, aren't you?

Look. The ladies of the Altar and Rosary Society of Holy Family Catholic Church asked if they could sell my book at Sugar Plum Days last weekend. I said fine. But they added, "But don't tell Vince Flynn, okay? We're not selling his latest, and we don't want to hurt his feelings."

Well, I never wanted to hurt your feelings, Vince. But what can I say? Not every author has what it takes to crack the Sugar Plum Days market. Come on, you know that as well as I do.

I know, I know. Show me the writer who does not look to Sugar Plum Days as the Holy Grail of book marketing. I'm sorry, Vince. There was nothing I could do. Honest.

Look, I'll put in a good word for you next year. But for now. could you please just let this one go? I'd hate to run into you at the next meeting of the Twin Cities Chapter of Famous Writer Types and have you glaring at me. Bad enough you glare at me from the back of all your books.

So there it is, Vince. What do you say you show a little holiday spirit here and let bygones be bygones? And yes, I promise I'll let you know the very next time I have a signing. I'll even save you a special copy.

Yours sincerely,