general wackiness, humor, research, Uncategorized, writing

It’s Alive!

Yes, I am resurrecting my blog from the dead. Lazarus, come forth! I am not so sure about this header photo, but it is a bit quirky and has books on it. Plus it gives the illusion that I look like the woman on the bed, which I most assuredly do not.

I have decided to change the focus of my blog from an unfocused mishmash of travel posts and writing/marketing ideas to something near and dear to my writer’s heart:


Ah, research. I could spend my life on you if I had all the time in the world. Now, on the face of things you might be saying, “How boring!” But, my friend, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Case in point being this article from the June 15, 1908 edition of Perth, Australia’s The Daily News:


Now don’t tell me that rampaging monkeys released by a baboon and subdued by alcohol doesn’t give you a chuckle.

I came across this while browsing for material about my latest Work-in-Progress, an early 20th century gay romance set in remote Alaska.

Stay tuned every Monday for something equally enthralling. Err … I hope!

general wackiness, Uncategorized

The Wildest, Wackiest Scavenger Hunt This Side of the Pecos

Some months ago, my husband Dave and I attended a class called Laughter Yoga. The teacher asked each of us why we were taking the class. Dave answered, “Because my wife likes to do weird things.”

I do? This was news to me. Though upon reflection, Dave was probably right.

In that same vein, Dave and I participated in GISHWHES for the second time. This time we managed to talk our 18 year old nephew into joining us. And you know what? The whole experience was … weird.

That’s to be expected, though, if you know anything about the Greatest Internet Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen (GISHWHES). Proof is excerpted from their website:

gishwhes believes that “normalcy” is overrated and that true “living” can be found hidden under the rocks of community artistic creation, acts of artistic sublime public performances, and random acts of kindness. More importantly, we are all artists and have gifts for society no matter what our capabilities or talents. And most importantly, we at GISHWHES want you to know the most important thing we’ve learned in the past four years: it is almost impossible to make durable clothing from cheese.

Now that you are practically frothing at the mouth in anticipation, here are things that Dave, myself, and our nephew “accomplished” during GISHWHES 2015.

#23. IMAGE. Tour a wastewater/sewage treatment factory dressed in formal attire with an accompanying violinist or flutist

When I called our local wastewater plant to schedule a tour the following occurred.

Attendant: “What’s the occasion?”
Me: “Err … a scavenger hunt.”
Attendant, unsurprised. “Oh yeah. Is this the one where you have to be playing a violin and wearing formal wear?”
Me: “Yes ….?”
Attendant, sounding bored: “We already had one person do that. See you tomorrow.”


#41. IMAGE. The cats are coming! Prepare your dog for battle. Outfit him or her with armory, weaponry, cutting edge laser gear – whatever it takes to create a canine of mass destruction.

Here you see our intrepid battle hound, Misha. Watch out or she might stab you good.


#44. IMAGE. Let’s see a portrait of Robert Downey, Jr. or Ironman made entirely of salt and pepper. Tweet it to him (@robertdowneyjr) with @gishwhes in the tweet. SUBMIT a link to the image to us, NOT a link to an image of the tweet – but you must tweet it to him for your image to count.

Our cherub-faced nephew Jacob created this one. Truly, he has a future in condiments, does he not?


#79 IMAGE. Take an infrared photo of a popsicle in your mouth.

This is Dave with his phone held up to his head, not a gun.


#108. VIDEO. (Time lapse this down to 14 seconds.) Lay your bets, and time lapse a snail race from the starting gun to the finish line.

This one took a surprisingly long time to completely.

Well, okay. Maybe not so surprising now that I think about it.

#110. VIDEO. Use a cutting edge 3D printer to 3D print your representation of the 4th dimension.

Dave is the creative mind behind this one.

#112. IMAGE. Let’s see a refined game of croquet on a public lawn of a historic site. All participants must be zombies.

We had some help with this one, as you can see. The other park-goers may never recover from the horror we produced. 104

#132. VIDEO. Make an action movie trailer. The main star: a pot roast.

This is also Jacob’s creation, and I am so impressed that I expect this boy’s film to be outselling Steven Spielberg at the theater any day now. Kickstarter for the actual film, anyone?

Keep your eyes pealed for next year’s scavenger hunt. Do yourself a favor and stock up on caffeinated beverages and courage, though. You’ll need both.

general wackiness, travel, Uncategorized, writing

Ten Ways to Make Your Next Comic-Con Even Better

045 (Copy)Well, San Diego Comic Con is over now, sadly. The cosplayers have un-cossed. The street preachers have disappeared. The flyers, leaflets, and business cards littering the avenues have been swept away. It’s bittersweet, in a way. Before you forget about it entirely in the rush of everyday life, however, linger for a moment longer.

As a nine-year veteran of SDCC, I’ve learned a thing or two about how to make your experience even better next year. My list of ten tips, learned through the school of hard knocks and meager disposable income, are:DSCF2223 (Copy)

1. Yes, you can save money on parking. Parking fees next to the convention center are astronomical. Fees at the closest hotel rooms are almost as bad. It’s not all that easy to get. So what’s a poor nerd to do? Park further away and take the trolley or a cab. Joe’s Auto Parks is 12 blocks away and only $5 for the whole day. Well worth the walk ( Or park at the airport for $13 a day (economy lot) and take a cab in.

Edited to say that you can also park at Qualcomm Stadium for free and take the trolley in. An even better deal!

2. Your luggage does not have to be heavy enough to dislocate your shoulder. Before you leave next time, pack light and make sure you have lots of extra room for the inevitable crap you will accumulate. The swag, people. You know you have to have it. And you really need room for it. T-shirts. Posters. Gigantic bags. Buttons. Paper hats. Horse masks. Whatever, dude.

3. Take the train if you are coming from LA or other points north. Seriously. It’s so much better than driving could ever be. I vowed to take the train after sitting stuck in traffic on the freeway off-ramp for 45 minutes. But you should be aware that you might have to stand if you board at an extra busy time. Comic Con often coincides with the opening of Del Mar, the race track. There’s nothing like riding the train next to cosplayers and wannabe Southern belles in huge floppy hats and frilly dresses, their flawless, manicured nails clutching a bottle of vino in disguise, and their loud shrieking laughter proof that they’ve already imbibed.

4. Watch your badge. They can and do fall off that crappy plastic badge holder and then you’re faced with big problems. If you can’t find it via lost and found at badge registration, you’ll have to pay daily fees to replace the badge.

5. Support independent writers and artists. The Exhibit Hall is a feast for the senses, like all of Comic Con and as such it can be completely overwhelming. Don’t let the loud moneymakers have all your time and attention, though. Visit Artists Alley or the Small Press tables to find unique books, stories, and artwork and know that you are supporting the efforts of starving artists directly.

6. Team up with friends. First of all, it’s really easy to start chatting with people next to you when you are waiting in 6 hour lines. I’ve made two good friends doing just that. Friends are also extremely helpful when it comes to purchasing badges and sharing hotel expenses. Plus, they are overall fun.

037 (Copy)7. Avoid the crowds by entering the convention center through the back door. What? Is it possible that you don’t have to struggle down the maddening hordes at the front of the convention center in order to get inside? Yes, my friends. It is true! For I myself have used this little known entrance this very year! Don’t feel bad, though. I only just discovered it despite the fact that it’s so easy to find. Just look at the map and plan out your route. Because so few people use it, though, it seems too good to be true. Forge on and ascend those stairs, though. At the end you will find your reward.

8. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Sure, the temperature may only be in the 70’s, but the humid ocean air and the sun beating down on you as you wait in 5 mile-long line after line may heat you up and dehydrate you more efficiently than a commercial pizza oven. Is your only recourse to shell out $4 for a teensy-weensy bottle of water? Nay! And again I say, nay! Bring your own water bottle and slink to the back of the big halls where you will find water stands. Also of considerable help are electrolyte pills, which you can buy online or at your local health food store. They contain the electrolytes that Gatorade has but without all the added sugar.

9. Sleep short but sleep well. A long restful night’s sleep is too much to ask between rooms shared amongst 14 people, sleeping on the sidewalk in line, and nonstop parties. However by making use of ear plugs (for those 13 snorers in your room) and eye masks (to blot out every last scintilla of light) you will sleep deeply during those precious few hours, and away (mostly) refreshed for another day of fun.DSCF2182 (Copy)

10. Don’t give up on Hall H. This is what I did a few years ago. I saw the hellacious lines that stretch on not just for one night but two in order to get into Hall H for Saturday’s program. The new wristband policy, despite its flaws, does cut down on the need to sleep in line. You may still have to wait a long time but during certain days – Thursday and Sunday, I’m looking at you – you can walk right into your panel within an hour or so of its start. It doesn’t seem possible, but it’s true. I did it myself.

And just for the record, I plan on being there for my 10th Comic Con next year, when I will perhaps discover even more tips to enhance the crazy free-for-all that we all love so much.

What do you think of these tips? Do you have any to add? Comment below!

general wackiness, travel

Comic-Con 2015

So I’m taking a little break from my 100 Spanish Photos series to post a bunch of pictures from a different kind of pilgrimage – one that I have gone on every year since 2006. San Diego Comic-Con. The granddaddy of pop culture conventions and more fun than is almost humanly possible. Have a taste of it, dear viewer. And you, too, may decide to enter the wild terrible fray that occurs when tickets are available every year



general wackiness, humor, photography, travel, travel memories, Uncategorized

Travel Throwback Thursday – Minnesota for the Dumb


It’s a fairly innocuous travel snapshot, the above. My daughter, dog, and I, kneeling on a walkway somewhere in northern Minnesota. Right after this photo, my husband took the dog back to the truck, since the walkway was slippery and he didn’t want to risk falling. My daughter Brandy and I are of a more adventurous mindset, though, so we followed the walkway down to a quiet little lake.

And, oh, look! There’s a boat!

We hurried down to the edge of the lake to where a forest service sign read – “Use the boat and return.”

What a nice offer!

We proceeded to push the solid metal rowboat sort of like this one:

But heavier. MUCH heavier, we discovered.

Shove, grunt, shove, grunt

We moved it three inches.

Cue some more shoving and grunting.

We got it several feet past the mud and reed-covered bank. Well, good. We were getting somewhere.

“Get in!” I told Brandy.

She clambered aboard and tried to row.

“It’s heavy!” she complained.

I got in and tried to row.

There was more shoving and grunting.

Now the boat was ten feet into the lake. But it weighed 800 pounds and we couldn’t get it to go anywhere.

“Let’s take it back to shore,” I said, gasping for breath.

Brandy jumped out of the boat and assisted me. We dragged the dang thing back three feet. Sweat dripped from our limbs and obscured our vision. No musclebound lumberjack offered to help us. In fact, there was no one anywhere nearby except for the mama wolf and her cubs watching us from the woods. An owl hooted in the distance.

“I can’t do it anymore, mommy,” Brandy cried, plaintive.

She collapsed on the shore, overcome with fatigue. I sagged down next to her.

Horrific visions clouded my mind. The mama wolf and her cubs would pounce upon us at the earliest opportunity, shredding our flesh and cracking our bones. The fluffy youngsters would lick out the marrow with their plump pink tongues. Brandy and I would be able to do nothing to save ourselves, since we had both torn muscles and exhausted ourselves to the point of no return. Need a visual? Watch what happens to this guy and you’ll have a good idea:

A while later, my husband and the dog came down and found us, and dragged us to the nearest emergency room. There, nurses pumped fluids and electrolytes into our depleted forms. We eventually recovered, but not without much woe.

Well, all right. I may be exaggerating slightly. Because that sounds a lot better than what really happened.

We attempted to push the boat back to shore, and failed. The boat sank. Oh no! We tugged energetically. More sinking. Mud, flies. Ick and physical depletion. Then:

Aw, to hell with it.

“Sorry, rangers!” we called as we scampered back to the car, leaving the boat drowned near the shore.

“Time to go!” we urged Dave, who threw the truck into gear and squealed the tires as we left in a spray of pebbles.

Brandy and I shared a nervous giggle. I tried not to think about the curses that would echo around the pleasant lake when some poor federal employee had to dig out the boat.

Sorry, Minnesota. You meant well, you really did. You just didn’t gamble on two weaklings trying to use your solid metal boat …

general wackiness, humor, Uncategorized

The Greatest Internet Scavenger Hunt The World Has Ever Seen

When Dave and I got married all those years ago, I pledged to take him for better, for worse, for richer, for poor, and so on.

There was nothing in those vows about creating him undergarments out of toast.

“It keeps falling off!” he protested.

You try securing toast to someone’s underwear while they are standing there complaining about it,” I said, as I struggled to extend the transparent tape around Dave’s waist in a manner which would hold up for at least a few minutes.

I had made sure to toast the bread earlier. I had even, thoughtfully, let the toast cool off before slapping it on my husband’s body. What more did he want?

At about this point in the blog post, you may be wondering what in the world I’m talking about. You see, Dave and I were participating in one of the wackiest weeks of our life, also known as the Greatest Internet Scavenger Hunt The World Has Ever Seen, or GISHWHES  for short. Started by the Supernatural actor Misha Collins, for reasons that remain murky at best, it involves a weeklong frenzy of weirdness. Thousands of people all over the world compete in teams to see who can earn the most points by doing things such as:

No. 69:  Provide a picture of someone wearing toast for underwear. Butter and jam are optional.


Yes. Most seriously.

Below is visual evidence of our “success” for this item. It may be interesting to note that, later, I was scrolling through my cell phone pictures to show someone the toast underwear when a teenage boy standing nearby happen to glimpse the uncropped version of this photograph. He shrieked and called for bleach to soak his eyes in. He may still be blind to this day.

Underwear made from toast

GISHWHES consists of around 150 items that are so bizarre, so insane, so unexpectedly brilliant that you can only laugh, and then get busy trying to figure out how to accomplish them. Evidence:

No. 2 Create a video. Go order food at your favorite fast food restaurant. Greet the attendant, explain how hungry you are, what you want to eat, and how good it will make you feel. One thing, you must speak as the Bard wrote. Place your order in Shakespearean verse.

(The sound is quite low at the beginning of this 30 second video, but hang in there, it gets better)

No. 14. Create an image. You, dressed as The Flash in the Large Hadron Collider tunnel. If this is too difficult, you will get full credit for dressing as The Flash in any actual, operational particle accelerator.

Luckily, Dave had one of those at work. And making The Flash costume turned out to be the biggest hassle. It resulted in Dave buying a women’s small red shirt and decorating it. Getting the shirt off his head afterward involved some personal injury and a visit to the chiropractor.


Work was also useful when it came to:

No. 121. Create an image. Enjoy a burrito standing in front of a laboratory. The international laser warning sign must be visible behind you.


Lest you wonder where I was with all this craziness, I was doing things such as:

No. 56. Take a picture. Create an online dating profile for your pet on a real dating site.


Why did we choose to participate in such an offbeat event? God only knows. The entire endeavor involved an exhausting, stressful, bizarre, hilarious week. Most of the people who join in this challenge are college-age, and rightly so since it takes a lot of energy, fearlessness, and dedication.

If this blog post has not discouraged you, but intrigued you instead, you are in luck. Sign-ups are currently open for this year’s GISHWHES, which will take place from August 2 – 9.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

general wackiness, humor, photography, travel, Uncategorized

I Wonder as I Wander … at WonderCon

What’s this? An actual travel post from me, your delinquent travel (slash writing slash animal) blogger? Glory hallelujah! I’m doing a brief look at my experience in exotic downtown … Anaheim. Yes, the Anaheim Convention Center to be more accurate. WonderCon is usually held on Easter weekend in the Bay Area. However, the last three years have seen it in Southern California due to scheduling conflicts. Conference organizers claim that they hope to return the con to San Francisco soon, so there’s no telling where the con will be held next year.

Over all, WonderCon with its 50,000 or so attendants, is rather like a mini-Comic Con (which boasts at least 125,000 attendants, and spills out of the San Diego Convention Center to bleed garishly all over the Gaslamp District). It’s even put on by the same nonprofit organization. WonderCon, however, does not take over Anaheim with the same single-minded gusto that Comic Con takes over San Diego. Not only do hundreds of cosplayers (fans in costume) range everywhere, but buildings and buses are festooned with ads for TV series and movies and so forth. San Diego transit even gets into the mix by changing the transit signs to Klingon (past years) or Dothraki (Game of Thrones). See an example of this wackiness here.

Anaheim is not quite so obsessed with WonderCon. After all, they have DISNEYLAND. Yes, that was supposed to be in all caps. Mickey and Minnie Mouse gallivant all over Anaheim, not to mention the other Disney characters. They have all become passé to the regular inhabitants. The city welcomes the thousands of geeks which WonderCon attracts, but they don’t exactly know what to do with them. A case in point:

Last year I was waiting for a bus to take me down the street to my hotel room for a little well-deserved showering when a homeless man appeared, reeking of alcohol. Mumbling to himself, he lurched down the street. A young man and his girlfriend, dressed as some anime duo or another, walked past the homeless man. Upon seeing them he gave an exaggerated double-take. Not unlike this:


However, his amazement was soon lost due to his efforts at retaining his balance on a busy streetcorner.  Not two minutes later another couple strode by, wearing something like this:

Cosplay - Catgirl and Friends 2006


The homeless man now performed a triple – nay, even a quadruple-take. Then he proclaimed in loud, plaintive tones: “What is going on here??”

Ah, the stuff of dreams. That’s WonderCon for you.

Here is a little gallery with some other photos from this recent event.

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Invariably, I am completely broke when I attend these events (let’s face it, that’s how I’m able to travel anywhere – saving money to get there and stay there, not buy stuff) but this year I managed to buy a few things from the wonderfully well-stocked Exhibit Hall. Behold:


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WonderCon is a less expensive, less crowded, less crazy way to experience a pop culture event than Comic Con (whose tickets have become increasingly difficult to obtain). It’s not just for lovers of comics, but those who enjoy anime, cartoons, manga, books, movies, games, TV shows, and collectibles. You don’t even have to dress up. Chances are you’ll have a great time either way!

challenge, general wackiness, Uncategorized

Mondo Pet Post – Dogs and Birds and Baby Dinosaurs, oh my!

Yes, I know. I’m supposed to be writing about TRAVEL here. Soon, I promise! I’m hoping to write an absolutely SCINTILLATING treatise on toilets while traveling this weekend. But in the meantime … critters!

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Want to know what they sound like in real life? Turn your volume down and watch!

And last but not least my younger dog Rudy, who is of … uncertain parentage. His coat is quite wiry – so much so that I call him Stickerhead. Can you spot why?



Join the fun at Michelle’s Weekly Pet Challenge:


cats, general wackiness, humor, writing

Cats on the Move — Another Edition of Fantastic Gifs!

I’m hard at work recording an audiobook of my humorous title The Cat’s Guide to Human Behavior and it occurs to me that I haven’t posted any crazy cat gifs in a while. I maintain a Cat’s Guide page on Facebook where I post funny cat pictures and links on a regular basis, but Facebook is not a fan of gifs. Therefore …

1. Tuesday is HOW far from Friday?








2. “Oh, hi there, dog.”











































Like these? Check out my other gif posts: here, here, here, here, and here!