“The ramblings and grumblings of author Ad Hudler”

Granite Schmamit
Friday, October 31, 2008

My mom has always been a trendsetter without trying. She has this knack for spotting new things waaaaay before they hit the mainstream. Proof: She installed her kitchen granite counter tops in 1983! Yep, a quarter of a century ago. They were so new back then that only one company in all of Colorado knew how to install them.

Well, I'm tired of granite counter tops. They've become ubiquitous and cliche and therefore, in my mind, outre. They have become a sign of nouveau riche. Whenever I hear anyone say, "Oh, and we installed GRANITE counter tops!" I have to close my eyes so they can't see me rolling them. "Why?" I generally will ask them. And they usually can't give me a good reason. Usually the people who choose granite counter tops aren't serious cooks because they are impractical as hell. You can't cut on them. (They ruin your knives) They stain easily. And talk about environmentally destructive: Think of all the clawing into Mother Earth that's being done to satisfy this senseless craze.

In my opinion, the best counter tops out there still are Corian ... or any other generic solid-surface counter. If you stain or scratch them you simply buff them with a fine-grade sandpaper.
In my current kitchen I have Formica ... made to look like faux black marble with white swirls in it. It came with the house. And it's fine. Granite does not belong in a 1954 ranch-style Florida home.

Joe the Plumber vs. Ad the Dad
Thursday, October 30, 2008

Okay, so I've got some competition in the becoming-the-next-Mr.-Clean contest:

Yes, the man from Toledo. I must admit that he does look a lot like Mr. Clean. Put a white t-shirt on him and see if you don't agree. We do have a similar build ... but his head isn't as nicely shaped as mine. It's kind of square, unlike mine, which tapers off into fine slopes. What do you think?

BTW: That's my mom on the right. And on the left, a friend from my hometown, Patsy Downen.

Okay, so I now see that my hands and arms a little too hairy to be Mr. Clean, but I can do that laser-hair-removal thing. I don't mind.

Other reasons I should be chosen over Joe: He looks so MAD! I think he would frighten women. And he doesn't know how to hang pictures worth a damn. And are those cigarettes on the table? Well, Joe, let me tell you: Mr. Clean should NOT smoke!

I think the choice is pretty clear. Don't you?

Election '08: Ad Hudler for Mr. Clean

Blah, blah, blah: What happened to good writing?
Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I recently came across the Baltimore Sun's obituary for poet Edgar Allen Poe:

"We regret to learn that Edgar A. Poe, EsQ., the distinguished American poet, scholar and critic, died in this city yesterday morning, after an illness of four or five days. This announcement, coming so sudden and unexpected, will cause poignant regret among all who admire genius, and have sympathies for the frailties too often attending it. ..."

How often do we read something so beautifully crafted? Not often enough, that's for sure. I'm starting to think that technology has created a downward spiral in writing quality. Words are cheap now...and all over the place: blogging, texting, etc. There are tens of thousands of books printed every year in North America alone. Too much writing, too fast, and not enough thought going into it. I'm guilty of it as well. I don't take long enough to write my books because the expectation of the publishing industry for commercial-fiction writers is that they produce at least one book a year. Crazy, huh? How good can those books be when they're rushed like that? (Don't answer! ... Please.)

I'll admit that some good thought comes from such balls-to-the-wall deadline-writing, but what ever happened to reflection and revision? Here's an unfamiliar scenario in 2008: Write, sit back and reflect on what's been written ... then revise ... then let it sit for awhile and come back again and revise some more.

I'm also wondering if writing would improve if we had to write out in long hand instead of being able to pound it out so quickly on a typewriter. Compare this to two of my favorite pasta dishes: pasta bolognese and pasta putanesca. The latter is thrown together quickly ... the anchovies and capers and tomatoes and basil and olives not given much time to cook ... and the dish is good but very tentative-tasting. Compare this to bolognese, in which the meat and wine and milk and vegetables are best if they simmer and simmer and simmer for hours. Is one dish better than the other? I guess it depends on who's making that judgment. Honestly, I have written parts of manuscripts by hand, when I didn't have my laptop with me, and the writing, overall, was BETTER ... I kid you not ... because my brain could keep up with my writing hand. On the other hand (sorry, couldn't resist), I am a fast typist, and when I type I find my hands sitting idle, waiting ... "Okay," they say, "What's next? Give me another thought. Come on, dude!"

Remember the words of Orson Welles in that old Paul Masson commercial: "We will sell no wine before it's time."

Today's beauty secret: How to eliminate those extra chins
Tuesday, October 28, 2008

In yesterday's blog I complained of my extra chins I'd noticed in photographs of myself taken during book tour. Apparently there is an antidote! Here's what one of my Georgia readers emailed me:

"...It's clear you need a lesson on how to do the "vulture". When having your picture taken--simply jut your chin way out with your mouth slightly open and your tongue on the roof of your mouth. It's important to also hold your shoulders back as far as possible. Practice in front of a mirror. It should eliminate any chins. If it doesn't, it's time to lay off of the truck brownies."

Whew! At least he didn't say "lay off the gin."

A very happy author
Monday, October 27, 2008

I got back this weekend from an east-coast-of-Florida book-selling swing, and I sold a ton of books and had a ton of fun.

My first event was a return visit to the book club at a community called The Club at Boynton Beach. They're a fun, spirited and smart group that asks lots of questions. Here I am with the girls who put it all together:

(Still looking for that "anti-multiple-chin" option on my camera. Must be close to the anti-red-eye setting, but I CAN'T FIND IT! Someone please advise.)

From here I drove rather quickly to Port St. Lucie, where I was the keynote speaker at the annual meeting and banquet for the Friends of the St. Lucie County Library System.

These girls had me in stitches the entire night. I laughed so hard my face hurt the next morning.

And, then, the next evening I had my first-ever event at the Vero Beach Book Center. An invite to this place is coveted by most authors, and now I see why. Take a look at some of the details:

Yes, those are REAL FLOWERS! Cynthia Grabenbauer is the hostess with the mostess. It's a great bookstore, and if you have kids you'll want to check out the adjacent-and-large children's bookstore next time you're zipping up or down I-95.

So ... as I do at all bookstore signings, I gave each bookstore employee their own complimentary pink tape measure with "Man of the House" printed on it. And, after the reading, I treated everyone to milk and brownies (made by me) from the back of my truck. Here's a picture of me and Cynthia:

Oh, by the way, the WWMMCD on my T-shirt stands for "What would my main character do?"

A word about tomatoes
Sunday, October 26, 2008

How many times have you read a recipe that told you to skin and seed the tomatoes before putting them into a stew or soup?

Oh, it's sooo simple, Ms. Cookbook Writer explains. Just drop the tomatoes into boiling water for a few seconds, then remove them and let them cool. Then peel off the burned epidermis. Then cut the tomatoes. Then push the rows of seeds out with your thumbs or the blunt end of a knife. Meanwhile, as you're engrossed in this task, seven years pass, and your kids graduate from high school, and when you finally finish you look up and say, "Hey, where'd everybody go?"

Here's another option, compliments of Man of the House: Cut the tomatoes into pieces and throw them into the pot, skin and seeds and all. Sue me if something horrible happens.

Some stalkers are worse than others
Friday, October 24, 2008

I don't know if any of you are aware of this, but someone has been posting comments on this blog, masquerading as characters from my novel, "Man of the House." And I have to say: it's a little weird to hear/read your characters coming to life when you yourself aren't doing it. It's kind of like having your hands amputated, then watching them bounce across the floor and tie a stranger's shoes.

Well ... the secret is out of the bag: It is the novelist Gonzalo Barr from Miami....who evidently has TOO MUCH TIME on his hands!

Just got back from a book-tour swing on the east coast of Florida. I'll give a full report tomorrow, with pictures.

But now to bed.

The sad state of Holiday Inns ... and taking food from strangers
Thursday, October 23, 2008

I'm old enough to remember when staying at a Holiday Inn meant you wanted to splurge for the night. They were the fanciest oases on the road, unless you drove into downtown to stay at some highrise Hilton or historic hotel.

When touring, I prefer Hampton Inns (their nice beds, free breakfasts and reliable cleanliness), but if there's no Hampton I usually choose a Holiday because they have free wireless internet access.

Well, I can't remember the last time I stayed in a Holiday Inn without experiencing the following:

1. Sleeping in bedsheets with a poly count so high I feel as if they've been laundered in lotion.
2. When a walk to the bathroom and back to the bed in your stocking feet makes the bottoms of your socks black.
3. Mold and mildew smell.
4. Just an overall feeling that this room is also being rented by the hour.

Okay, not that bad. I'm exaggerating a little here.

Something cool that happened to me last night in the motel bar, though: A traveling rent-a-dental-tech (think Kelly Girl/Guy only for the medical community) from Miami, who stays here often, was eating a plate of prime rib that looked delicious. Unfortunately, I'd already eaten or I would have ordered some myself.

I commented on how tasty the beef looked, and do you know what he did? He offered me a bite! Me, a perfect stranger. And you know what? I took it! I think he was just as thrilled to have me accept it as I was to eat it; he really wanted to share that experience.

Think about it: how often do we say yes when strangers offer us something nice like that? Not often at all, that's for sure. Especially the Boomer generation. And why is that? We seem to have this aversion against borrowing things or accepting favors, as if doing so will whittle away at our independence.

I plan on accepting more food from strangers in the future.

Fruit Salad Entry: Deodorant and a nice review
Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Good day, everyone. Let me start by posting this really nice review from Book Club Classics. Here's a snippet:

"... I'm so thrilled to review this novel. It is wonderful. Funny, thought-provoking, page-turning, well-written, did I mention funny? I had not read Househusband (but immediately requested it once I finished Man of the House), and did not need the background of the first novel at all. In fact, after the first chapter, I had a list of people I couldn't wait to recommend it to ... including all of my readers!"

And here's the link to the full review.

This is the first book I've released that has caught so much attention in the blogosphere. One reason for that is because it's so WONDERFUL, but the other reason is because I hired a big New York See-Tay PR firm to work the online crowd. It appears to be paying off.


In another example of life imitating art, (the character of Linc Menner from my newest novel, MAN OF THE HOUSE), I have switched scents of deodorant.
Now, I have always used either Mennen Speed Stick or Old Spice deodorant, experimenting with various scents. And it is deodorant I have always used, not anti-perspirant. There's a difference, of course; the former stops the stink and the latter stops the stink AND the actual sweat.

Well, I have always thought that God put those sweat glands there for a reason, and stopping them up with chemicals seems unnatural and unhealthy to me. I'm wondering if, 600 years from now, scientists will be saying, "And they actually TRIED to inhibit perspiration under the arms! Can you believe that? What were they thinking? Didn't they realize that it caused mental illness that leads to divorce?"

But back to scent: Usually, the names of the scents are stupid: Cool Ocean, Sport, etc. But I found one that is too cool and I have adopted it as the Official Deodorant of Ad Hudler.
Kind of hard to read. It's called "Swagger."
Is that cool, or what? How can you NOT feel like a dude after swiping that on your underarms?
I'm off to the east coast (of Florida) for two speeches and an appearance at the Vero Beach Book Center. Their newsletter to customers invited them to come see the "househunk."
Must be the new deodorant I'm using.

Tropical Diary: Post #591
Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Do you ever buy something on impulse and years later wonder why? Well, here's one of my stranger purchases, which I recently re-discovered on my patio after pruning an arbicola bush that had been covering it for years:

I mean, really, what was I thinking? It's not even cute. Maybe that's how I was feeling that day: pinched and afraid and wanting to keep my eyes closed. I'm surprised I haven't seen this fellow in my nightmares.

Do we call him "Elephant Man?"

Report from suburban Atlanta: Where are the red cars?
Monday, October 20, 2008

I just got back from the Gwinnett County Reading Festival in Atlanta, where I spoke on a panel called "Original Voices" with a fun writer named Doug Crandell who works with mental patients in his day job. A lot of writers work with mental patients in their day jobs. Hmmm.......
Must be a connection there somewhere.

I wore my tool belt (the one from my publicity photo), complete with feather duster and hammer, for the length of the entire festival, and I must have looked like a real Janitor Joe because in the course of the day I was asked to:

1. Clean up a mess in the bathroom. (request denied)
2. Move a table. (request granted)
3. Help someone retrieve their keys from a locked car. (request denied)

I like to rent pickup trucks when I go out of town because I'm used to being up high, in my own truck at home. This time I got a bright-red F150. We're talking stoplight-red. VERY red.

I spent my first night in Atlanta at a friend's house in suburban Cobb County, which is a neo-con zip code that is home to Newt Gingrich. And as I drove through the neighborhoods, lost, I couldn't help but notice the beige sameness of everything. No one did anything to stand out. No bright doors on the houses. No eccentric mailboxes. And I found no cars of any fun color. Indeed they all were black, white, dark-blue, tan ... all very SAFE! No teal. No bright green. No blues brighter than those you'd find in military uniforms. It's as if they are all afraid of being spotted by a predator of some kind. I suppose one moves to the suburbs for privacy, so I guess it makes sense that you'd try to blend in with the environment.

When my friend saw my truck she said, "Your truck is very ... red, Ad." And I think I detected a hint of Judge Judy in her voice.

It got me thinking: Why are bright colors banned from the mega-home landscape of affluent suburbia? Are they considered too ethnic? Too lower-class? Why? Why? Why?

Dang that digital technology!
Friday, October 17, 2008

I had my local bookstore event for the tour of MAN OF THE HOUSE last night, and I took pictures ... but I can't find them on my camera for some reason ... so let me describe my favorite shot: It was of me and three of my gym friends, standing in front of the Barnes and Noble on U.S. 41 in Fort Myers. They all wore hard hats and tool belts filled with a mix of tools and household cleaning items (vacuum attachment, Windex bottle, etc.). And these dudes greeted everyone who came into the store, handing them one of these:

My Dad, who owns a printing plant, made these for me. I like how they added the bold typeface and the weird shadow on the left-hand side. You can't tell if this was shot outside or in some studio. Oh...and on the back there is a description of the novel with some nice blurbs.
In addition to giving a reading, I also lead the group in a discussion of gender-behavior differences, provoking them with phrases I'd written down on a mega-size pad of paper on easel. I had them guess which gender would say the following:

"Honey, I just backed up into the tree by the driveway."
"Hey, where did that perfectly good recliner go?"
"I just want 20 minutes of quiet time when no one is talking to me."
"Can't I have one spot in the house that's mine? I don't even feel like I live here."

We had fun.

Oh... and the best part: One of my good friends brought me a bottle of Tanqueray gin as a gift!

I'm off to Atlanta today for the Gwinnett Reading Festival.

Airtran is now my airline of choice. They're not as surly. And first-class upgrades are downright affordable. Price is based on length of the trip.

Spotted in my neighbor's bathroom
Thursday, October 16, 2008

I went to reach for the toilet paper and stopped short, unsure of what this was ... and whether I should touch it at all. (You can click on the picture to get a closer look.)

"It's a flower," my host explained. "Sylvia makes those when she cleans."

Wow. Fancy. I wonder how she folds the underwear.

Modeling? ..... Hmmmmm
Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Another reader passed on to me her response from the Procter and Gamble PR people, after having sent them a plea to make me the next Mr. Clean:

"Thanks for contacting us, Kathy. We're honored your friend wants to represent our products but we don't personally choose the people appearing in our ads. We rely on the agencies we hire to create and handle our advertising. Most of these agencies are located in Chicago and New York City and use models from those areas.
If your friend is interested in getting into modeling, he may want to get in touch with a nearby modeling or talent agency. Advertising firms and department stores generally contact these agencies when they need people to appear in ads. We value your loyalty to our products. Thanks again for writing.
Mr. Clean Team"

Oh, great ... now I've got Madonna's "Vogue" stuck in my mind and can't get it out of there.
BTW: When you get a song stuck in your head and it won't go away ... that's called an "ear worm."

Excuse me, ma'am, but can you blow into my mouth?
Tuesday, October 14, 2008

During my book-tour swing through Jacksonville, my fearless companion Fritz and I were wandering about Jacksonville Landing, which is a mix of restaurants and bars on the St. John's River, downtown. Wanting a cocktail -- it WAS, after all, 4:47 p.m. -- we approached a small mobile bar outside of Hooters. While ordering our drinks (Guess what wonderful clear liquor was in mine.) I noticed a bucket of ice that harbored clear plastic vials filled with either a red or green substance. I picked one up and read the wording on its side: suckandblow.com .

I held it up to the barmaid and gave her a what-the-hell-is-this look.

"It's a Jell-O shot," she explained. "You put one end of the tube in your mouth, and then someone else puts the other end of the tube in his mouth, and he blows while you suck."
Her choice of pronouns made the both of us a little nervous. This contraption, after all, was about the length and girth of the average male's ...

It took Fritz about .00001 of a second to say, "Hey, I've got to try that! ... What's your name?" he asked her.


"Will you blow while I suck?"

She shrugged her shoulders and said, "Sure, why not?"

Fritz unscrewed one end and put it in his mouth. She unscrewed the other and covered it with her lips. Their two faces were no more than six inches apart. It was an odd mix of erotica and Saturday-morning cartoons. I didn't know if I should feel aroused or amused.

"Okay," I said. "Ready! Set! Go!"

The glob of green (or was it red?) disappeared into his mouth, the action reminding me of one of those pressurized toilets that flushes with a shot of air in hopes of conserving water.

Still, someone hadn't done their job: There still was a sizable amount of goo in the tube. Either Fritz didn't suck well enough, or Brandi didn't blow. Maybe she was afraid of hurting him.

Next on the book tour for MAN OF THE HOUSE: My first hometown signing -- 7 p.m. this Thursday at the Barnes and Noble near the Bell Tower Shops in Fort Myers. It should be fun. I'm having friends from my gym dress up in construction gear to greet the guests. I'm also going to read from my book, but the most fun will be the discussion I will moderate with readers. We are going to explore the differences in gender behavior, hopefully coming up with answers to these questions: Which gender backs up, into the trashcan more often? And which gender is more likely to eat a sandwich they've dropped on the sidewalk? Hope to see you there.

More Book Tour: Lonetta's eye patch and naked girls at lunchtime
Sunday, October 12, 2008

Just got back from Sarasota and Jacksonville, where I signed books and talked with readers at two of my favorite Florida indy booksellers: Sarasota News and Books and The Bookmark in Atlantic Beach, just north of Jacksonville Beach. I had the pleasure of finally meeting two readers who had read and liked my novel "Southern Living," and they came out to meet me and enjoy the free champagne and food at the Bookmark's 18th Anniversary celebration. Meet Betty Donahue and Lonetta Seaton:

Notice Lonetta's very-cool frog-motif eye patch. Evidently she has several different ones, and she makes them herself, including one that features a picture of a REAL EYE! Yes, this girl has one great sense of humor, and it was nice meeting the both of them.

This was not your typical book tour, as you'll soon find out. I was accompanied by my good friend, Fritz, who is the inspiration for the contractor character in my new novel. Every year we take a guys-only trip somewhere in Florida to have a wild, fun time -- we call it our "crawl" -- and this year we tied it in with my tour. Here we are on Neptune Beach:

The picture I CAN'T show would have been taken at Risque Cafe outside of Gainesville, but we were not allowed to take pictures ... and that is because the waitresses were naked.

I am not one to succumb to peer pressure, but Fritz is very persistent, and I reluctantly agreed to pay the $7 cover charge and go inside for lunch ONLY BECAUSE I WAS VERY HUNGRY. This was doubly amusing because it was a clear case of life imitating art. In my novel the character based on Fritz and the character based on me end up going to a strip club, and the latter guy is VERY nervous about it.

The lights were bluish and dimmed. Some sort of techno music was playing. There were tables scattered around, and there was a normal bar with stools ... only instead of a bartender and bottles there were naked girls, pole-dancing. One guy was actually eating his hamburger at the bar while a woman was shaking her bottom business just inches from his face. I couldn't help but wonder if these girls sometimes mistakenly get smeared with mustard or ketchup.

We headed for a table in the safer-looking far corner of the room. Immediately after sitting down, a beautiful young woman -- Let's call her Lisa; she looked like a Lisa -- came up and sat down with us. She was tanned and toned, with artificial, too-perfect breasts, round as water balloons. She told us she was a nurse in her other job...and then she proceeded to tell us what she would do for us and with us at prices ranging from $30 to $100. (Yes, at this point I am pretending to be VERY INTERESTED in the menu) One option was to watch her through a one-way mirror as she had her way with herself. Oh, and the lap dances at Risque Cafe? They were REAL lap dances, she insisted ... not the fake lap dances given in most other places. Like I would know the difference.

Fritz wanted to linger for awhile. I told him I was uncomfortable and wanted to leave.
In the truck, he asked me why ... and I really couldn't give him a solid answer.
"Maybe if I didn't have a daughter who was their age," I said. "I don't know ... it just seemed ... wrong and ... I don't know ... bad." He shrugged, and we were on our way.

Mr. Clean Update and ... on the road again.
Friday, October 10, 2008

I am pleased to announce that at least three of my readers took my lead and wrote to Proctor and Gamble, asking them that I be made the new Mr. Clean (See yesterday's blog.) One very funny reader, Gena, shared P and G's response with me, and I now share it with you:

Response (RightNow Administrator) - 10/10/2008 09:13 AM Thanks for contacting us. We're honored Ad Hudler wants to represent Mr. Clean, but we don't personally choose the people appearing in our ads. We rely on the agencies we hire to create and handle our advertising. Most of these agencies are located in Chicago and New York City and use models from those areas. Thanks again for writing.
P&G Team

So: Looks like we need to sell the house, honey, and move to New York See-Tay.

TOUR UPDATE: I'm off again today, this time taking my friend, Fritz, with me. Fritz was the inspiration behind the constractor character in my novel MAN OF THE HOUSE. He doesn't know this yet, but I'm going to make him wear a tool belt (with feather duster) and have him stand outside to lure people into the bookstores in Sarasota and Jacksonville. I promise to take pictures this time.

Is that the new Mr. Clean on Coconut Drive?
Thursday, October 9, 2008

A reader forwarded me the following very-sad news: House Peters Jr., 92, the original Mr. Clean, has died. An obituary read: Peters Jr. played many supporting roles ... working with Roy Rogers and Gene Autry on their television shows. He also appeared in "Perry Mason," "Gunsmoke," "The Twilight Zone" and "Lassie." Here are some pics from the www:

The first one is of him playing Flash Gordon. The second is him in his older years.

I had no idea the Dude of Cleanliness had been patterned after someone real. But take a look. There certainly IS a resemblance:

Now ... here's where I need your help. I want to be the next Mr. Clean. I mean, look at my credentials. First, the visual:

(I hope you're not tired of my obsession with this new pic of me. It's my favorite publicity shot to date!)

At any rate, Ad Hudler should be the next Mr. Clean. He knows how to scour toilets, he owns plenty of tight-fitting white T-shirts, he looks the part, and he already has a big following of caregivers because of his "domestic" novels. My house is immaculate. Other reasons: I love gin, and gin looks very clear and clean. Oh, and I, too, have an odd name.

Mr. Clean is totally cool: He's fit. He's aware of the evils of dirt. He's very helpful. Women need and desire him. See why I want to dress up as Mr. Clean for Halloween? (Still working on that muffin top, by the way. Mr. Clean needs a tapered waist and mine, well, mine's still a good two inches away from that. CONFESSION: Not much progress in the Mr. Clean Transformation.)

Here's where you come in: We need to let the people at Procter and Gamble know that they need not look any further for a Mr. Clean replacement. Here's the link. Click on the email contact on this page, and write them a nice little note, and direct them to adhudler.com.

Go on now. I'm serious. Do it!

All depressed ... and messed ... and stressed
Wednesday, October 8, 2008

There's this odd behavior in the publishing industry. Everyone connected to the business in any way (editors, writers, publicists, agents, booksellers, etc.) always end their correspondence in the same way: Best

Like this:
Best, Ad Hudler

Or this:
All best, Ad Hudler

Honestly, NO ONE strays from this word. It's as if some 156-year-old man in a cave somewhere in Manhattan told everyone that if they didn't use the word "BEST" in their closing then he would put a curse on the people of the book industry, and they would forever grow orange toenails or something just as bad.

Wouldn't you think that an industry FILLED with creative people would show more variety in their correspondence? Where the heck does this come from? And why are there no rule breakers?

At any rate, another writer friend and I took it upon ourselves to shake things up a bit: We decided that, whenever we wrote to each other, we would NOT use the word BEST ... but we had to have a closing that RHYMED with it.

Very stressed,

Cleaning my nest,

Surely you jest,
Not one to confess,

BOOK TOUR NEWS: Be sure to catch these nifty online reviews of MAN OF THE HOUSE:

From errantdreams.com
And dewbookreviews

HONESTY with the gin count
Monday, October 6, 2008

Okay, y'all (forgive me, but I've spent the last five days in the deep south and I LOVE that word; it's very efficient)...I am back home on Coconut Drive for four days before venturing out on tour again, and I am way over-doing the gin tonight because I am tired, and I had no gin last night....so, obviously, I ahave hadsome tonightthty.(typos intentional....sort of)

My family got along all right without me, though my daughter admitted that one night my wife said, "We're having chicken and salad tonight." And then, the next night, she said, "We're having chicken and salad tonight." And my daughter said, "But we had that last night." And my wife said, "Oh, no, that was fried chicken. Tonight it's roasted chicken."

Daughter: "But they're all from the supermarket deli." And wife said, "Well, uhmmmm, yes, but do you know the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull?!?!??!"

Gin count tonight: 4 BIG gin and tonics. But last night I had to sleep with NO COCKTAILS in a motel in Lake City, Florida, so I am so, like, entitled....okay?

I am tired!
Sunday, October 5, 2008

Yesterday I spent the day participating at the Crossroads Writers Conference in Macon. I gave two talks, one of them titled "She drove a Camaro and dyed her hair blond" ... which is a lesson in how to create convincing characters. I get them to think about the type of physical details people unconsciously surround themselves with: the cars they drive, the clothes they wear, the places they shop, etc. For example, a Camaro owner probably isn't going to be wearing a Harry Winston diamond on her finger ... and the man with a gun under his carseat most likely doesn't send money to National Public Radio.

After my talks, we all headed over to the Hummingbird Bar on Cherry Street downtown. It was a mess. There had been a big party the night before, and the manager hadn't cleaned things up yet. The place looked like a frat house after an all-nighter. So ... I asked if I could help. "Can you clean the bathrooms?" he asked. "No," I answered. "I cannot."

So he asked me to get behind the bar and start serving drinks. And I did. And the first one I made was for me: A MARTINI! Well, everyone heard the shaker of ice and the line soon formed, and before you know it I was making martinis for everyone. I think I've found my calling. I felt like THE DUDE behind that bar. Very fun. That's one of the things I love about southern culture: they are very laid back about the rules. I doubt a manager in a bar in Cleveland or Denver would have let me behind the bar like that.

Today I visit with friends and head over to a Barnes and Noble in North Macon for a book-signing. You need to know that I'm always a little nervous about coming back to Georgia, where my novel "Southern Living" was a best-seller for months...and it was a best-seller because it was so controversial. The good thing about southerners, though, is that they avoid confrontation as if it were the plague, so no one is "ugly" to my face.

A Day of Interviews
Saturday, October 4, 2008

1. I talked for half-an-hour talk with Josephine Bennett of Georgia Public Radio for the "Cover to Cover" book program. She's one of the up-and-comers in the whole NPR thing, having had features on Marketplace and other national NPR programs. Very engaging and fun. I treated her for pizza next door from the station. I was very hungry and ordered a medium pizza, which I ate all by myself....all but the crusts, which I call the "pizza bones."

2. An afternoon interview on the Macon, GA ABC affiliate that felt more like a session with a shrink. Lots of squirming involved. I know this interviewer; she is a friend of mine, and she interviewed me for nearly an HOUR about the book ... basically saying that MAN OF THE HOUSE was about my midlife crisis. I was later telling my wife about what she said, and she replied: "Well? Did you tell her that she was right?""

3. Today I'm speaking at the Crossroads Writers Conference in downtown Macon. More on this later. I'm also getting a chance to meet Joshilyn Jackson, one of the funniest new Southern chick writers out there right now.

Jacksonville and Macon
Friday, October 3, 2008

1. Had an early-morning interview at a TV station in Jax. We sat in one of those fake-living-room sets, chatting about my book. (Oh...and those coffee mugs you see on the set? They're EMPTY! To make a point, I picked one up during my interview and pretended to have a drink.) QUESTION: Why do all the TV broadcast people look the same in every single city? I mean, there are some differences when you compare those from say, Dallas to Des Moines: the newscasters from the bigger markets have better-fitting clothes, better haircuts.

2. Drove two-lane highways through Georgia, skirting along the Okefenokee swamp. In Macon last night I spoke to a group of students at Macon State College, the Warner Robbins Campus. I had them laughing a lot, but I'll admit: I am a hard one to follow in a talk....very tangential....hard to believe, isn't it? Now ... what was I saying? ;)....the day ended with drinks at a Macon State professor's house, where her husband made me THE BEST MARTINI I HAVE EVER HAD....OKAY, THE BEST TWO MARTINIS I HAVE EVER HAD.

3. Today: Interview on a Macon ABC station, and then a half-hour interview for Georgia Public Radio's book program, Cover to Cover.

4. I am having trouble finding vegetables in restaurants. TRANSLATION: "home cooking" = NO crunchy vegetables.

"Ad Nauseum '08"
Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Whenever it was time to leave for some place, usually out of town, my dad would sometimes say to me, "Are you forgetting anything? Do you have everything? ... Spectacles, testicles, wallet and watch?"

It sounds cliche, but it's solid male wisdom that will definitely help me in the coming weeks of "AD NAUSEUM '08" ... which is the unofficial title of my tour.

SPECTACLES: I need 'em. I'm blind as a bat. And without them I might very well find myself driving to Jacobi, Maine instead of Jacksonville, FL: "Hmmm, I knew Jacksonville was in northern Florida, but it's really COLD here! Is that a snowmobile?" ... And there would certainly be problems in my TV interviews: "Well, yes, Bob, that's exactly what my book is about." And Bob, it turns out, is actually a Roberta with deeper-than-normal female voice.

TESTICLES: This basically translates into testosterone, which translates into aggressiveness, and who doesn't need aggressiveness while traveling these days: "No, Bucko, that suitcase goes under the seat in FRONT of you, not under yours; that's MY LEGROOM you've just stolen!"

WALLET: Yep. Gotta have those AmEx and VISA cards. BTW: I recently lost my wallet and had to call and cancel everything and order new cards. Then I found the wallet in the laundry basket. Sigh.

WATCH: Got to be on TIME! Tardiness is a pet peeve of mine. 'Guess that wouldn't surprise most of you. I think tardiness should have been included in the Ten Commandments. Being late tells the other people involved that you don't value their time. I have friends who are chronically late, and I'll be honest: I think they do it for attention ... unconsciously, of course.

Oh....and the toolbelt problem has been fixed:

Not bad, huh? I used some olive oil and pencils and paint. I also wiped myself down with it when I was all sweaty after a workout. That's a doodle on the bottom left-hand corner.

So ... I'm OFF! Talk to you from the road.