Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Retraction, with a Bonus

I’ve been called out, and I feel the need to defend myself. A visitor to my blog – – has basically chastised me for abdicating my responsibility as a serious journalist (snort!) in misinforming you, the readers, with my statement that if you voted Democrat in the primaries, you cannot vote for a Republican in the general election. Note that I did not say you couldn’t vote for a Dem if you voted for a Republican in the primaries.

OK. Dude’s right. I didn’t say that outright, but it was heavily implied, and for that I sincerely apologize. What I meant to say was that if you voted for a Republican in the primary, and your candidate lost, you are barred from voting in any election again for the next four years. It’s some little-known bill that was put through Congress without much fanfare. The bright side is that you’re also ineligible for jury duty for the same period, so go ahead and ignore any notices you get from the court to show up.

Be advised that I could also be wrong about this, so you might want some independent verification. My political advisor, Joey, has been known to be almost right almost 92% of the time, so I’m pretty comfortable with it.

On a less serious note, if that is possible, after almost slaving away, almost 92% of my spare time over the last almost nine months, I have completed my third book: a novel, called Purity. If you hung out with me on Facebook, you’d know this. You’d probably be sick of hearing about it. But, if you don’t, you can still go to my aforementioned blog and read the draft of the first chapter, if you are so inclined.

Here’s the “blurb”:

Four young girls have gone missing in Arkansas in the last six months. A fifth is apparently killed in a car accident during her abduction, as is her kidnapper. When insurance adjuster, Jeff Davis, receives a simple assignment to determine if a construction crew working at the scene has any liability for the damages, he stumbles upon a, literally, “out of this world” religious sect’s scheme to save the missing girls from Armageddon. Possible involvement within the investigating sheriff’s department, and beyond, forces Davis to use the limited resources he has available to locate the hostages and return them to their families.

There’s more, involving the whacko religious cult’s belief that the apocalypse is going to be caused by an alien deity when he comes to … well, we don’t want to give too much away. They only allow you about a hundred words for the blurb.

Fair warning. The book is written by…me. That means it is ripe with irreverence and “Arkansas adjectives”. That’s what I like to call them. You may know them as “dirty words” I write what I hear, kid. So, if you are offended by such things, while I’d love to have you as a reader, it might be better if you selected some other manuscript for your perusal.

Presently, the thing is still in the self-editing stage, and I’ve found some wonderful volunteers to put themselves through the gruesome chore of reading it and providing input. Once that is done, we’ll begin the joyful process of looking for a publisher. If you want to have a noticeable impact on the future of the world, you should immediately write your favorite publishing company and ask them why in the world they aren’t calling me about this book.

Having committed this little act of shameless self-promotion, I am off now to warn my Republican neighbors about the unpublished changes in the polling locations for the November election. Seems like I have to do everything around here.

© 2010, Rick Baber

Monday, June 14, 2010

PURITY by Rick Baber

The new novel is completed (the writing part, anyway), and now we begin the tedious process of tweaking, editing, and finding a publisher. Some have asked me what it's about. So, here's the "blurb":

Four young girls have gone missing in Arkansas in the last six months. A fifth is apparently killed in a car accident during her abduction, as is her kidnapper. When insurance adjuster, Jeff Davis, receives a simple assignment to determine if a construction crew working at the scene has any liability for the damages, he stumbles upon a, literally, “out of this world” religious sect’s scheme to save the missing girls from Armageddon. Possible involvement within the investigating sheriff’s department, and beyond, forces Davis to use the limited resources he has available to locate the hostages and return them to their families.

Working on the cover art now, and will post it here as soon as developed.

READ CHAPTER ONE by clicking on the link at the top right of this page. See it?

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

All About Balance

Gather ‘round, chillerins. I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Ol’ Rick ain’t as far to the left, politically, as you may believe.

When we – me ‘n mama, the only yellow dogs in all of northwest Arkansas, it seems – were walking across the school parking lot to cast our highly visible votes in the runoff election, we ran into another couple we knew. They, of course, being well-to-do businesspeople, are what you’d call “right-wingers”. So, I had to take a few moments (half hour?) of their time to harass them about…pretty much everything. A discussion ensued that served to entertain the others, passing by, on their way to cast their out of party votes against the candidate (Bill Halter) they figured had the best chance to beat Mr. Boozman in the general election. It got particularly loud when we informed them we’d be pulling the trigger for Halter. I explained to them that Blanche was a little too much like a Republican for me, and that the irony of it all was that, in my opinion, it was she who had the better chance of winning in November. “Why then,” they asked, “would you vote against her in the primary?”

Well, that’s a little convoluted, but let me try to explain.

Say, you have a set of balances with about the same amount of weight on each side. The farther out to each end you place that weight, the more leverage you have to offset the weight on the other end. From my observations, the bulk of the weight on the right end of that balance is teetering there on the edge, just about to fall off, while the weights on the left end are hanging around there on the middle of the tare plate, conforming to ASTM standards, like good little weights. See that? The balance is tipping to the right. All because those weights on the left are too scared, or too comfortable, to get out there on the edge. Some of them, like Blanche Lincoln, are closer to straddling the middle. Sooner or later, if that thing keeps tipping, it’ll be like a see-saw with a fat kid on one end and my skinny little niece, Izzy, on the other. The thing’ll go vertical and Izzy’s going to tumble into that fat kid and both of them are going to fall off.

Somebody’s got to get the nerve to walk closer to that left edge to keep that from happening, and, from all appearances, Blanche Lincoln wasn’t the one to do that. If she was to win the nomination, the scales stay tipped to the right. If Halter, who was willing to set his weight on out there, a little, was by some miracle to win, then the thing at least gets closer to the middle. And little Izzy gets to keep playing.

“But Rick,” you say, “If, by your own calculations, Halter had a lesser chance to beat Boozman, his winning the primary, then losing the election, would take all the weight off the left side, and the balance would go vertical anyway!”

Calculated risk that goes back to that miracle I mentioned.

Halter’s win in the primary, because so many Democrats are ordinary, sensible people without extreme political views, aka “moderates”, really depended upon how many sneaky right-wing Republicans crossed over to vote for him, thereby surrendering their votes in the general election. If he had won, I think, some of the other weights on the balance, seeing him prevail, would have gotten the nerve to step on out there closer to the edge, and level it out – once the absence of weight on the right (those who cannot vote R in the general election) is considered. That would have at least given him a fighting chance. If he wins the GA, then bully for me. If he loses, I don’t think the balance tips that much more with Blanche off the plate.

Ms. Lincoln has stroke. Anti-incumbency or no, it ain’t easy to unseat somebody who has spent a career building power and making friends in high places. Bill Clinton, to name one. Even after giving up the cheeseburger diet, that’s a lot of weight on the new set of balances. Pollsters are already writing her off, based primarily on the anti-incumbency factor and the number of farther-left voters who supported Halter. But not all of those were balance freaks like me. Some of them…many here, I think…were those crossovers, who are not factors in this new equation. She’ll get the balance freaks votes, if we see her scoot over to the left, even just a little.

Prediction: Blanche defeats Boozman in November. Based entirely on the pretzel logic and hopelessly mixed metaphors outlined above. And with crossed fingers.

Now, about Obama and the oil leak. You’ve heard about that? I’m confused on exactly what it is that people expect him to do about it. Best I can tell, most of the rage is in that the government isn’t doing that much to clean up the gulf and the beaches. But wouldn’t that be a little like washing your car before a dust storm? Maybe it’s better to wait on that until they plug the hole. Meantime, if you’re going to be mad at somebody, try the policies that allowed BP to set up that rig with no plan for dealing with a situation like this.

I saw some of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” a while back, and think I’ve figured out how to do it. Stop it up with that fat kid on Izzy’s see-saw.

© 2010, Rick Baber

Double Trouble

We got the call at about 10:30 pm on Monday, May 24. I had just gotten back from the grocery store, after suffering a case of late night munchies and picking up an apple pie and, since I was there anyway, a turtle cake. Seems the girls had decided they didn’t want to wait until their scheduled arrival on Thursday. And they didn’t want grampa to be clogging any more arteries for a while.

Maci Paige was the first out, at a little after midnight on Tuesday, followed closely by her little sister, Kennedy Alexis.

I’m not sayin’ that the kids are braniacs, or anything, but Maci, knowing she was first, actually held up the “Number 1” sign for the first picture her dad took of her. Kennedy, destined to be the humanitarian of the brood, showed the “peace” sign in hers. They’re not identical twins, so I haven’t had to get one or both of them tattooed for ID. Maci looks just like James and Kennedy looks just like Megan – the exact opposite of what we thought would happen, based upon their completely different activity in the womb.

They were/are, to say the least, perfect, weighing in at just under 6 pounds each and at 19 & 20 inches. I won’t bore you with the minute details. Not because it wouldn’t be like me to do that, it’s just that I’m not straight yet on all those weights and lengths and stuff.

Mom and dad are doing great, and learning the joys of three-hour feedings, times 2, in between all the diaper changing, etc. We’re trying to let them nest a while, so the twincesses can get used to their new home, but I’ve had to purchase some shackles for Grannie Bec and have some big metal hoops installed in the brick wall on the patio. Fact is, they’re so dang cute, everybody’s playing the lottery now, trying to get rich so they can quit work and sit and stare at them all the time.

They went home from the hospital on Saturday. Sunday, as we were sitting, phone in hand, waiting for the call telling us they needed some help, it came. Meg was finally willing to eat something and requested chicken strips. No problem. We can get chicken strips anywhere. We grabbed the camera and sprinted to the car to make the trip – 12 miles or so – over to their house, after driving by somewhere to pick up the grub.

There were only three cars in front of us at the first drive-thru. But when we got to the window, they politely informed us that they didn’t have chicken strips on the menu. I apologized for the trouble, and told them I’d have to keep driving.

The next place, I was sure, had chicken strips, because I practically lived off of them from that franchise in Little Rock a few years ago. But, whattaya think? Everybody’s gone to Buffalo strips and such, and abandoned the original item. We had to wait for 5 cars in front of us to get that information, after which I excused us and, again, went down the road, in a now desperate search to appease the li’l mama.

We drove another two miles, looking, before finally deciding to turn around and go back to the first place we passed on the way into Bentonville. Viola! Thanks, Zaxby’s.

Now, we’d killed about 35 or 40 minutes. We imagined that the girls, by now, had boyfriends and pierced places and cars of their own, and had hopefully at least been taught to feign an interest in saying hello and goodbye to their grandparents. We missed it! Goofing around, looking for chicken strips! They had grown up and become professional golfers and pop-music stars and business moguls and presidents. We should have pitched a tent in that field about 3 blocks from their house so we could get there faster. We should have had a cooler full of chicken strips and a hotplate in the trunk.

Surprisingly, when we finally got to the house, they were still there, and still just little tadpoles. And mama ate. And we sat holding them, staring, as if we’d never seen babies before. We’ll do it again, as soon as the phone rings.

Sure, their parents have big plans for them. But Grumpa Buck has some of his own. To borrow a theme from Jimmy Buffett: I’m gonna teach ‘em how to cuss; teach ‘em how to fuss; and pull the cork out of a bottle of wine.

Welcome to the world, Maci & Kennedy!

(c) 2010 Rick Baber