Saturday, April 30, 2011

Good Guys Professional Development Conference and Awards Banquet: After Action Report

From: Phil Hardtly, Chief, Janitorial Maint. Staff, Convention Center

To: Management and Scheduling Dept.

Re: Concerns related after Friday's “Good Guy” conference

Please be advised of the following discoveries after yesterday's conference entitled “Good Guy Professional Development Conference and Awards Banquet”.

Convention Hall:
  • Several significant modifications were discovered to have been made to the wiring and communications systems
    • Wiretaps and listening devices had been placed in many locations throughout the room.
    • Some were not so well hidden, three even had names inscribed on them, “Clouseau”, “J. Bond”, and “English, Johnny English”.
    • Some were better hidden, nearly impossible to find but given the nature of the types of conventions we host, my staff regularly sweeps the area for such devices.
    • As you are aware I am sure, The Loosley Amalgamated Corps of Evil Henchmen will be here next week and it could have had a seriously negative impact had we not discovered these bugs
  • Many of the tables had a large number of gouges and knife marks on their surface. One of the maintenance staff had earlier witnessed several parties in attendance playing “that knife between the fingers game from the movie Alien”. The tables will have to be sanded and refinished to make them servicable without table clothes in the future.

  • Burn marks on the ceiling, two door frames, and one light fixture from “Super Power Demonstrations” seminar
    • note – Alcohol and Super Powers do not mix

Coat Check / Weapon Check Room

All attendees were required to turn in any weapons, concealed or otherwise, at the coat check room upon entry. This was a good plan and to add to the general security of the conference and attendees I had ordered an additional very large and bio contained safe be placed in the room to ensure both adequate space and containment in case of a mishap. The feared mishaps came in the form of two items as delineated below
  • Mr.  Johnny English of MI7 checked in an ink pen that he claimed was a small thermonuclear device capable of deconstructing at a molecular level any biological  system it came in contact with one minute after being armed.  We believe either Mr. English, while showing it off to the check clerk, unknowingly armed the pen when he handed it to the young man or the young clerk fiddled with it himself not believing the agent's claims. After English left and the clerk went to lock up the pen witnesses claimed to have heard a puppy-like whimpering sound followed by a sharp sizzle. When the clerk did not return from the closet one of his co-workers entered the room and found nothing but an oily puddle on the carpet. This was severely distressful for our staff, as we were already short handed for the event.

  • Ms. Ellen Ripley dropped off what she claimed was an unloaded alien weapon she had brought for presentation/display purposes. Apparently it was not unloaded. An alien spawn housed in a hidden capsule inside escaped then used its acid saliva to burn through the safe and the floor beneath and cause no small amount of concern in the homeschool conference going on one floor down. Luckily one of the homeschool kids captured it in a Mason jar. With his mother's permission and the assistance of a couple other fifth grade homeschool kids he proceeded to do a series advanced biological, cellular and genetic experiments on the creature in hopes of attaining early college credit. The students were later seen to have what appeared to be Alien-like dogs on leashes as they left the building
    • Related side note, we need to replace the sink, several water pitchers and the microwave in the downstairs convention room.

  • Due to a practical joke played early on the first day of the conference both the male and female restrooms were very messy. Someone had covered the male urinals and about half of the female toilets with clear plastic wrap. The resultant deflection of bodily fluids create a huge mess and tempers flared quite dangerously among some of the victims. The worst reaction was when a Ms Lara Croft had to do “number two” while the cleaning staff was in the process of removing the plastic wrap. She chose a toilet they had not yet been checked.
    • Apparently Miss Croft had consumed a lot of fresh fruit juice recently.
  • After most of the attendees had left staffers were quite startled to discover several young adults trapped in compromised positions in the restrooms and adjoining closets.
    • It is not believed they were engaged in amorous activities due to the manner in which they were discovered.
    • Miss Nancy Drew was found sandwiched between the Hardy brothers, all three had been stripped to their underwear, and bound together with a copious amount of “Saran Wrap” then duct taped to the plumbing pipes in the utility closet between the restrooms. Scrawled across their faces and foreheads in black Sharpie  were the words  "Frigid" and "Teaser" for Miss Drew and "Pissers” and “Poo Face”for the Hardy Boys.
    • The Wonder Twins were likewise duct taped together, but back to back and fully clothed in their case, and rather than being attached to the building in some manner, they were suspended in mid-air by a glowing yellow plasma orb in the handicapped stall of the men's room.
      • Staff got them down by shorting out the plasma orb with a metal broom handle. The twins did fall rather hard a distance of more than six feet to the tile floor. Jayna banged her head on the toilet bowl in the fall.
        • FYI: They have both threatened to sue for the injuries.

  • Mr Tim Drake (aka Robin) and Miss Susan Storm (aka Invisible Woman) were discovered snuggled closely and fully clothed in their “Super Hero” outfits, sleeping off a drunken stupor in the cased liquor storage room
    • it is assumed they both passed out before anything happened other than perhaps a very minor bout of fantastic fourplay (get it? 'fantastic fourplay' ha, ha...uh)
  • Large amounts of broken glass were found behind the bar, interspersed with water color paintings of bottles of Bailey's and numerous leaves of kelp.
    • According to witnesses, the bartender (a Mr Olde Gregg hired from a temp agency) had served over two dozen Long Island Iced Teas to a Mr. Sean Dillon and several bottles Baileys to a Mr. Allan Quatermain then intiated a 'water color contest' with them which turned violent when he said they painted beautifully and then asked both men to marry him.
For future “Good Guy” conferences please ensure that security and maintenance staff is present in the same quantity as we generally have for the “Arch Villains” and “Moody Rock Star” conferences, as the damage while in different forms was at a similar level.
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Friday, April 22, 2011

Short shorts....not the story kind

Over on Joe Konrath's blog some folks were speaking of short stories and that made me remember a story about a different kind of shorts that used to make me both laugh and cringe.

Years ago I was the manager of the military dining hall for the National Security Agency. Yup I was Chef to the Spies, meal provider to International Men of Mystery and Black Ops types. There was a supervisor in the dining hall who was a retired Army Mess Sergeant and he was absolutely anal about dress code.

Granted it was a military dining hall and there were rules, and this was in the early 90's before "sexual harrassment training" became standard, but this dude had a thing about girls wearing short shorts. In the event a young lady came in wearing shorts that extended less than three inches from her private area he would send her back to the barracks to change before she was allowed to eat. If she argued that it was within regs ol' sarge, apparently having visually stared at enough women's private area to trust his visual measurements, whipped out a plastic ruler he kept in his pocket for just such an opportunity. The girls almost universally balked at the idea of him verifying anything and stormed out of the mess hall to find something to cover up...or head off base to McDonalds.

After a while, some of the older female employees kept a couple of wrap around skirts available to loan the young girls before sarge saw them.

Of course if guys came in wearing short shorts he didn't bother with the ruler, they just got a snot slinging nuclear shout fest explosion only a mess sergeant was capable of. And they never argued with him...nor did they repeat the mistake. Something about him saying "If those things fall out yer shorts I'll castrate you with a fifty pound potato peeler" or "this ain't that kind of freakin' joint sweetie cakes, if I so much as think yer hairy butt-cheeks are going to peek into view I'm gonna shave them off with this industrial cheese grater!"

Yeah...sarge ended up with a lot of counseling during the Clinton years....

anyway...shorts are difficult issue for me
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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Dreams and More: visions of flight and my next book

I dream a lot. But never nightmares, or the weird creatures those who know me might imagine me dreaming of. Usually I am searching for something, sometimes I see quizzical things I spend the whole night pondering, often I am flying. While I don't recall being frightened in any of the dreams, I am often nervous, especially around power lines because I usually am not so good at controlling my flight. Often I forget how to gain altitude, or how to turn to avoid something, but I always end up landing in one piece with my heart hammering in my chest.

Last night was a particularly interesting flying dream. I was in an ejection seat rocketing up through clouds. The upward propulsion was long and went very high, much higher than physics would allow a normal ejection seat to go, especially since the flight didn't originate in a jet or even in the air. I propelled past a cluster of skydivers afraid I would collide with them. Moving in the multi-directional space of sky is very different from terrestrial motion. There are a lot more dangers you cannot see, coming from all directions. Luckily, or by divine providence, after a couple of close calls where the skydivers noticed me just in time, I missed  all of them.

Ascending through a higher layer of cloud, I began to slow and suddenly realized I had no seatbelt on. I tried to buckle it but when I let go of the seat it started to tip. That was scary, because now I was  many thousands of feet in the sky. So high that ice crystals made sections of the clouds solid. Coming to rest on a bit of that solidly frozen cloud I encountered a group of four teenagers, who were discussing the coolest way to play music as they moved through the sky, live music that is, there was a grand piano nearby they were going to use on the way down. We chatted for a moment, then I realized it was time for me to get back to earth. I scooted off the ice and started my descent. It was fairly controlled and there was a lot of cloud, more than the journey up had encountered. I knew I was miles in the sky and therefore did not want to open my chute till I could see the ground. I broke the bottom layer of cloud and found myself much closer than I anticipated. Yanking the chute cord I slowed, but did not land for quite a while, instead flying around two or three stories above ground, trying to figure out where I was.

Then I saw a sign. I had landed in Hyde Park, London. Long flight, having taken off from Anchorage Alaska.

I still haven't figured out this dream's meaning, if any, but it really has me thinking.

This brings me to one that I had a long time ago, 1989 if I remember correctly.

Over twenty years ago I had a dream that I knew I would have to one day turn into a novel. It involved a king of a group of five northern Chinese cities called Kwai Ler Wang Guo, or the Happy Kingdom. In the dream the king and his people lose a war and king, not willing for his people to be massacred by  the aggressive invaders, flees China with them escaping to Goryeo (medieval  Korea). There they build a city hidden inside a ring of mountains where no one would find them.

The next morning I told my wife about it. As I related the story she stared wide eyed. I asked what was the matter and she told me that parts of the dream sounded like fragments of her own family history. We had only been married about a year at the time and she, not being a history buff, had never told me the family history.

As it turns out, her family name 'Ma' is not a Korean name (my wife is Korean). It is the Chinese word for Horse. It is a name that signifies either royalty or warrior class. Her father had a copy of the family geneology book, presently sitting in the gun safe at my home, that goes back over a thousand years. It includes the names of all of the sons born to her branch of the Ma family over that period of time.  This book of course is not the original, which miraculously survived all those years, including the Japanese occupation and Korean War.  It is a facsimile, a complete replica faithfully copied and maintained exactly as the original in the event of the loss of that original.

The fact that they had this book is meaningful, not too many people in that part of the world were literate until the latter half of this century. The part that really intrigues me though is the earliest segment of the book. It is a journal of some type. Only a portion of it has been translated, because while it is written in Chinese characters, the language is significantly different and according to my father in law no one, even at Seoul University, had been able to completely decipher it. Best they can tell, it is the language of a kingdom that no longer exists. The writer they said was most likely a general or a prince. The kingdom was eradicated some time around the rise of the Mongol empire, apparently wiped off the map without a trace. This was a common form of conquest by the way, which is why archaeologists have such a hard time verifying ancient things. Conquerors would destroy all traces of the prior inhabitants and rewrite history.

At any rate, this book and its writer ended up in Korea sometime around the 11th century. My wife said that her grandfather had on one occasion taken her to her ancestral home in the central part of South Korea in the mid-seventies. She said they rode a bus for a long way, several hours on dusty roads. The bus stopped in the middle of nowhere and they got off.

Surrounded by rice paddies and forest ten year old Mikyong said, “Grandpa where's the village?”

“We have to walk from here,” he pointed to a cluster of vertical peaks a couple miles in the distance, “to those mountains.”

It took over two more hours to get there. When they arrived she was stunned. Inside this ring of mountains was a whole city, housing a few thousand residents. As they pass clusters of houses she noticed the mail boxes in front of each one. A disproportionate amount all had the same name imprinted on the box, a name not very common in Korea.


She met distant cousins and relatives and learned that during the Korean War the entire area had not heard a single shot. They had barely even known the war had occurred. While the slaughter had engulfed the entire Korean peninsula it had bypassed them entirely. Her grandfather had left the town to study medicine during the Japanese occupation and ended up pressed into service as a diplomat to Japan during that time. He married outside the clan otherwise she would likely have been born there too (if at all).

After the dream and her story I knew right away that I would have to write that into a novel, but at that time as a twenty-something with bigger fish to fry (like becoming a millionaire restaurateur by age thirty) had no clue how to write a novel, nor the time and energy to do it. Now on the other hand, with my kids nearly grown, and youthful ambition realityified (yeah I made that word up) the story is finally in the queue, and God willing after I have finished my current WIP (Cold Summer due this summer) the new one will be up next with both an adult and a YA storyline.

Working title for my first Historical Fiction: Blood of Princes.

Due out...when I get it done.
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