“The ramblings and grumblings of author Ad Hudler”

Golden Palace Dragon China
Monday, August 31, 2009

Have you ever noticed how Chinese restaurants (the ones tucked into every strip mall in America) always seem to have similar names? It's as if there's a list of allowed words that can be used in any combination, and they cannot stray from this list:


And they ALL have the same menu. I swear they're printed by the same printer in some alley in New Jersey or some place: tri-folded, a few all-color pictures of entrees, with a "Chef's Specialties" section that ALWAYS includes General Tso's Chicken.

Am I forgetting any names on this list?
And is there some Chinese mafia that runs all of these?

How much can a grown man cry?
Saturday, August 29, 2009

Well, let me tell you this: A WHOLE LOT! Yesterday Carol and I dropped our daughter off at college in Ohio. I actually sobbed when hugging her goodbye, and I cried off and on all the way to Pittsburgh, where we decided to spend a fun weekend to keep our minds off of our daughter so we wouldn't cry.

I'm over it now ... I really am.


So over it.


Don't forget the toothpaste!
Wednesday, August 26, 2009

...as I did recently on a trip to Colorado. This was the complimentary packet of toothpaste from the front desk.

Honestly, it was like using mint-flavored KY jelly ... the exact same substance as our slick little friend. So identical was the texture that I had to read the fine print and make sure it didn't say something like, "Also can be used as a sexual lubricant."

My attempts to control Feral Neighbors
Monday, August 24, 2009

Yep, this is the new fence I was writing about. Put it up last week to help control the feral children and feral adults that have moved into my neighborhood and decided that my back yard is THEIR PLAYGROUND. The chunk that goes over the seawall is called a water wing. It's there, of course, because unless you have this people simply walk around the fence, onto the seawall, and into your yard. You won't believe this, but it took only two days before someone tried to bend and break it off.
Here's what's happening in my neighborhood and other neighborhoods in this part of Florida. Old people, the original inhabitants of these neighborhoods, are starting to die off, and their descendants don't want to sell the houses yet because the prices are so bad, so they're renting them out. Four of the houses on my block now have renters. Renters, I'm discovering, have a different way of life than my own. They feel it is perfectly okay to come into your yard and pick fruit off your trees without asking. Oh ... and NOTE TO ONE OF THEM: Hey, buddy, we do NOT smoke, shirtless, on our front porches in this part of town.
I'll tell you, people. I'm thinking a gated community is looking pretty good these days ... you know, one of those places with controlled access and fat retired guys who are hired to be guards and drive around in glorified golf carts.

Look what we made!
Saturday, August 22, 2009

Daughter Haley wanted a ribbon board for college. I had no idea what one was, but with help from the WWW and Debbie at Joanne's Fabrics we put this together. Most favorite part: Using the staple gun. Least favorite: sewing on 28 buttons. Haley and I took turns doing the later. Ouch.

Unfortunate Timing
Thursday, August 20, 2009

My wife left for work the other day but instantly came back inside from the carport: "Can you come out here, Ad? ... LOOK at this!"

"Why isn't that mouse moving?" she asked.
I replied, "It's not a mouse, sweety, and you've run over his tail. Poor little guy's stuck."
And stuck he was. He had decided to cross the driveway at exactly the same time that Carol rolled into the driveway 36 hours earlier! I hate rats, but I honestly felt sorry for the little guy. Lord knows the extreme vulnerability he'd experienced ... including a visit from our cat, Mitchell, who gently rubbed noses with the guy. (Note to self: Get myself a REAL cat)
Anyway, when Carol started the car, the rat started to shake in fear, probably thinking his end was very near ... but then she rolled backward, and the rat jumped a foot into the air, then scampered away.
I called my mom to tell her about it, and she said, "Well, he wasn't a very smart rat. Most rats would have gnawed off their tails to escape."
Indeed. And his momma forgot to tell him that when you play dead you're supposed to LIE DOWN and close your eyes ... not stand there upright, frozen like a statue, with eyes open.
A daily lesson of Darwinism.

Those weird emails from African prisoners...
Saturday, August 15, 2009

Okay, I'm sure many of you have received emails from anonymous African women who say they are enslaved. But this one caught my attention, largely because of the last few lines. (I have a weakness for sentences with the phrase "blood child".) I quote directly (These are not my typos):

"Dearest one, I am writing to let you know that there is something very much important which I will like us to discuss and it is all about my life and my situation here in Abidjan Cote d' Ivoire. In a brief i am Miss Emma Kanga of 20years, daughter to Late Mr and Mrs Peter Kanga of Mawere,Muzarabani-Zimbabwe , who was abducted on the faithful day and tortured to death by alleged Zanu PF militias ... I ran away from there which I am here in Abidjan Asylum camp due to the untimely death of my beloved parents, and ever since then I have been here with out any help or care. Moreover, before the death of my father he made me to understand that he deposited a box containing the sum of US$ 9.500,000 Million here in a custody of a Security and Property Care company which in the document written 'family valuables' I have all the documents backing the claim so I need your urgent help to claim the box and transfer the money into your account for onward investments in your country,also make a very good transparent arrangement for me to come over to your country and contiune my education and take care of me as your own blood child. I am ready to offer you 20% out of the total fund. looking forward to hear from you."

Sounds like a DEAL TO ME! I think I'm gonna do it! Not sure how this scam works, though ... how can they screw me out of my money if I'm putting THEIR money into MY bank account? Maybe it's a ploy to get the account and routing numbers from my checkbook? Am I too naive here, people? Someone, anyone, give me a good reason why I should NOT help Miss Emma and become an instant millionaire.

That money could sure come in handy. I HAVE had my eye on the new F-250 truck at Sam Galloway Ford ... hmmmm! And I just had to shell out some big bucks for a new fence to keep the feral neighborhood brats at bay.

I guess she could sleep in the guest room.

A Movie to Watch...
Thursday, August 13, 2009

Make sure you rent "Young @ Heart" from Netflix. Don't let the awful title scare you away as it nearly did me. The film is a documentary about a group of old folks in their 70s and 80s who are a singing troupe ... only the songs they sing are not what you'd expect: "Stayin' Alive", "Should I Stay or Should I Go?", "I Wanna Be Sedated", and "Forever Young" by Bob Dylan. The story shows you plenty of their poignant and funny performances as it follows the lives and relationships of these actors, two of whom die during the making of the movie. It's one of the most provocative, moving shows I've ever watched.

All I can say is that after the movie ended I walked over to the computer and ordered it on Amazon. 'Nuff said.

More on the white-trash-family-from-hell that has moved onto my block ...
Wednesday, August 12, 2009

If you didn't catch Chapter One of this saga, click here. Now ... on to Chapter Two.

The darling little boys -- and it's the chubby blond one that is the truly evil child -- seem to have been banned from their go-cart-jeep-thingy. Some neighbors told me it was shut up in the garage after they were caught trying to run down a pedestrian on the street.

Also ... apparently the family has two killer dogs that run loose on the street. Two people have watched these dogs maul their cats to death. The father apparently told someone, upon moving into the neighborhood, "I sure hope you don't have any little dogs or cats 'cause these dogs are killers." Rumor has it that charges are pending.

Mom is a beauty-school student somewhere. Dad is an unemployed AC repairman. The kids, as I've said, are feral and still in the mindset that my waterfront backyard is their playground.

But ... my nice new 5-foot aluminum fence is being installed on Friday. I wanted a six-foot fence; my wife wanted four-foot, so we compromised. The fence guy said, "They'll jump a four-foot fence."

'Makes them sound like wild animals.

Hmmm ... indeed. Reminds me of an old Dr. Seuss book called, "Put me in the Zoo."

Why Novelists Drink Too Much
Monday, August 10, 2009

This from an article in The Economist, which quotes Donald Goodwin's book, "Alcohol and the Writer": "Writing involves fantasy; alcohol promotes fantasy. Writing requires self-confidence; alcohol bolsters confidence. Writing is lonely work; alcohol assuages loneliness. Writing demands intense concentration; alcohol relaxes.

Thank God! I knew there was good reason explaining my favorite afternoon activity.
Then again, couldn't you replace the word "writer" with "plumber" or "forest ranger" and get the same truth?

When reviewers go TOOOO Far ...
Saturday, August 8, 2009

Good day. Please consider this last line from The New Yorker magazine's review of the movie "500 Days of Summer": ...Forcedly cute, clumsily mechanical, overdetermined, and undernourished, this ostensibly soulful romance is a plastic void."

Don't you think that's unnecessarily bitchy and mean? As an author I have to deal with negative reviews at times, and I'll tell you what: reviews like the one above just plain hurt my feelings. There's a difference between being critical and being mean. I think this reviewer just crossed the line.

Some questions I have about counterfeit money ...
Thursday, August 6, 2009

Specifically, I want to know more about those little magic markers that cashiers use to scribble on any bill larger than a 20. Evidently, the scribble is supposed to turn black if the bill is fake. So ...

First question: What would happen if they discovered that it was actually counterfeit money, passed unwittingly on to me by another merchant? Could I be arrested? Has this ever happened to anybody?

Second question: Don't you feel a little insulted when they do this in front of you? And is it my imagination or do Asian sales clerks do it more often? I even had one Asian woman mark a $1 bill of mine! It made me feel so dirty and bad.

My Head is Relaxed: Chapter 2
Tuesday, August 4, 2009

So the first of my relaxation tapes came in the mail yesterday, and I tried it out, hoping to find ways to lessen my uptight nature. Apparently, I HAVE BEEN BREATHING INCORRECTLY! The path to relaxation is through deep belly breaths. Your chest shouldn't even move when you're lying down, breathing ... only your belly should rise and fall. When your chest moves it shows you're using the top of your lungs exclusively, and apparently this is not conducive for inner peace.

I have also been trying this in normal standing-up situations. Yesterday, however, a woman in line at the grocery store said, "Are you okay?"

"Oh, no, thanks very much," I replied. "I am working on deep-belly breathing to alleviate my stress, which will hopefully help me quash my teeth-grinding habit."

She smiled politely and tuned me out.

Everybody now ... Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnnnnn, and ouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut.

My Head is Relaxed ... My Head is Relaxed
Sunday, August 2, 2009

Okay, so if you've read any of my novels with the character Linc Menner you'll correctly guess that Ad Hudler is a little uptight and anxiety-ridden at times. Seriously, I sleep horribly. My dreams usually involve losing something or someone and a deadline that I am always missing (flights, assignments, etc.)

Consequently, I grind the hell out of my teeth at night. Have been doing this for years, and it's really getting bad now. I've tried two different orthotic mouthpieces to help, but they're doing nothing. I wake up with gums INFLAMED because of all the stress put on them.

So ... I'm taking a more natural/mental approach: I'm going to do what my mom always preaches: Think positively. Program yourself. SAY out loud to yourself what you want to happen, and eventually it will. So ... I have these on my desk now:

And if you catch me grinding my teeth during the day, yell at me: STOP THAT, AD!