Displaying articles for: October 2013

Adopt-a-Highway

I never thought I wanted to be a parent, but as soon as I saw mile 36 of Route 127 in Trumbull, Connecticut, I knew it was meant to be.  I started to picture a life filled with car rides and rest stops, gas stations and grassy medians -- and it was all I could think about.  I got the process started the very next day, and haven't looked back, not even in the side mirror of my 2003 Honda Accord.  My highway -- my responsibility -- my legacy, for all of eternity, or at least until I stop paying the monthly premiums.  I never imagined my life could be so full.  Of vehicles.

His given name is the Huntington Turnpike, but I just call him Jason.  Frankly, I don't even like to use the word adopted, because to me it's no different than if he was my biological highway.  I dread the day he asks where he came from.  It's not as if we're going to hide the fact that he's adopted, but I worry he's going to realize he's different before he's old enough to comprehend.  After all, I'm not a highway -- and his mother's only half-highway -- so it's going to be pretty obvious.  I just hope he understands that being adopted makes him special -- out of hundreds of sections of road available on the city government website, he's the one we chose!  And not a moment goes by that we regret it.

You grow up with fantasies in your head about what your highway will look like.  Will he be like other highways?  How many shoulders will he have?  Will he be straight-- or curvy?  Of course I'd love him either way.  I just want him to be happy, no matter what other roads he intersects with.  Will he marry an interstate?  Will our grandchildren be strip malls?  The questions keep me up at night, as I'm cleaning up the trash that finds its way all over his body.  I just hope he cleans up my trash when I get older -- but I'm sure he will.

The lines on his face -- yellow, and white -- each tell a story.  Of struggles, and traffic.  His kindness to the animals that cross him -- his forgiveness, his equanimity.  It feels like a miracle that I was able to rescue him from his foster parents, Harry's Caskets of Route 127, who had held him for years but failed to appreciate his qualities or clear him of old tires and rusted hubcaps.  They allowed his surface to fill with potholes and his soul to blacken like the asphalt that covers his body.

We saved him.  With orange cones at his entrance and terminus we protected his body and gave him the time he needed to recover, traffic be damned.  So what if there were miles of cars waiting in line to abuse him, honking their horns, calling the highway patrol to ask about the disturbed couple running across the highway with police tape, screaming that no one was going to be allowed to hurt Jason again?  We stood up for him -- the first time anyone had shown him such love -- and he repaid us by cushioning the blow after the police used their tasers to subdue us.

But we'd do anything for Jason.  Some people hire services to manage their highways, but we'd never outsource his care to a stranger. Why adopt a road if you're not ready to know it and nurture it? Jason wanted a dog for his birthday last year.  And while all of our friends said he was too young, irresponsible, and paved, we thought we'd give it a chance, and let him have something to love just as much as we love him.  We wanted to prove that we wouldn't put speed limits on our relationship.  And now that dog runs back and forth over Jason all day, scavenging on whatever he can find.

Unfortunately, the state has taken Jason away.  Apparently you can't let stray dogs loose on the highway.  We went to court, we tried to fight it.  But even though Harry's Caskets of Route 127 once again has its name on the sign, we still think of ourselves as his parents -- and from our lawn chairs just off the side of the road, we will spend our days watching over Jason, protecting him, and recording the license plate number of anyone who throws a wrapper out their window.  We owe it to him, for all that he did for us.

 

Adopt Jeremy Blachman at jeremyblachman.com.

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Roast Mortem

Ladies, gentlemen, demons...  I give you all welcome to tonight’s roast of Hamlet, late Prince of Denmark—and what better place for a roast than in Hell? Many thanks to His Lordship of the Flies for the accommodations and use of the facilities.

 

If you don’t know me, I’m Horatio, childhood friend to our guest of honor, and, in his own words: “e’en as just a man 
as e’er his conversation coped withal.” Talk about damning a guy with faint praise! But when the ghost of Hamlet’s father asked me to host this tribute to the rogue and peasant slave we all know and love, I accepted in a heartbeat. Little did I know it would be my last heartbeat, because in order to be here I had to die first. Fortunately, King Claudius was still able to pull some strings, and by “pull strings,” I mean “have me murdered.” I admit that I was starting to miss all of you in the land of the living. Also, when this show is over, I get to go to Heaven. I’ll miss you all... but now it’s time to turn up the heat even higher!

 

Queen Gertrude, you’re looking beautiful, as always. Can I get you a drink? No, not falling for that again? I’ve got to ask, Your Highness: Was it at all weird being married to the brother of your first husband? Did you ever find yourself comparing their... you know, scepters? Did you ever forget that your original husband died and you remarried o’erhastily? Would you wake up confused in the morning? Not that you’d know much about mourning....

 

And Ophelia, Hamlet’s girlfriend is here. Be sure to laugh at her jokes, people, because she doesn’t take rejection very well at all. Ophelia, do you remember when both your brother and your father warned you about Hamlet? And then it turned out that they were right? Awkward! And then, after remarking about a noble mind being o’erthrown, you o’erthrew yourself into a river? You might not even know this, but at your funeral, Hamlet picked a fight with your brother in your open grave. Hamlet claimed to have loved you more than forty thousand brothers ever could. Can you even imagine having forty thousand brothers? Not that it would matter, of course, because Hamlet would probably kill them all!

 

And speaking of brothers of Ophelia that Hamlet killed, with us tonight is Laertes, Ophelia’s actual brother, whom Hamlet killed. Not that he didn’t have his revenge, though, am I right? Hey, when you learned of your father’s death, you were in France. You came back to Denmark to storm the castle, thinking that King Claudius had killed your dad. But why would he have done that? I mean, you didn’t even have a mother he could marry! I kid, I kid!

 

Who’s that hiding behind an arras? Yes: It’s that tedious old fool Polonius! Polonius, you’ve been described as a windbag, a foolish prating knave, and a busy-body. You’ve been called officious, garrulous, and impertinent. Come on out, then, and to thine own self be true. You can’t make things much worse in this place.

 

Hamlet’s excellent good friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are here! Where else would they be, though? At the University of Wittenberg? Before you were executed, did you guys do the homework for our anatomy lab? Five hundred words on what a piece of work is a man? You guys don’t mind sharing a chair, right?

 

And finally, what would a roast of Hamlet be without the skull of Yorick? Everybody else here tonight was stabbed, poisoned, or drowned, but this guy died of the most unlikely thing of all in Denmark: old age. Believe it or not, this bonehead has the most important part in tonight’s show: None of the roasters can talk if someone else is holding the skull....

 

So let’s get this party started, yeah? Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure and twice as much pity and fear to present a man who comes most carefully upon the hour... Prince Hamlet!

 

Matthew David Brozik asks not why the drum comes hither; it comes for him. Read more at imdb.name.

 

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Popular Trending Romantic Trends in Popular Romantic Fiction: What's Next, After Mermaid Erotica

 

YA Paranormal Romance: Centaurs

 

Imagine if your prom date and your ride to prom were one and the same. Sound too good to be true? Not if you’re dating the mythical half-man, half-horse creature known as a centaur. Fans of Twilight and fans of Misty of Chincoteague will come together at last to enjoy this edgy new crossover genre. In the blockbuster YA novel that will launch this irresistible new genre, Playing Centaur Field, sexy centaur Luke is the new horse-boy in town, and sparks fly when he knocks on the door of Alana, his beautiful next-door neigh-bor and asks to borrow some sugar-cubes. Will Luke and Alana be able to concentrate when they become lab partners in biology class, or will he startle at a loud noise, kicking over a tray of test tubes with his hind legs and ruining weeks of hard work? Will Luke find the confidence to tell the school’s biggest bully to stop trying to enter him in the Kentucky Derby? Will Alana realize that he’s only nuzzling that cute blonde in his history class because he thinks she has carrots? The possibilities of the centaur-themed novel are endless—and you can bet one of these books will be galloping into your heart before long.

 

General Romance: Mimes

 

Many women love the strong, silent type -- and few types are more silent than the intriguing mime. Strong may be a different story; no matter how snazzy he may look in suspenders, our mime hero’s inability to escape from an invisible box indicates that he’s not exactly a muscle-bound powerhouse. Still, the resourceful mime manages to be devastatingly charming without saying a word-- and he knows how much women love flowers; even if they are invisible. In the most popular mime-fiction novel so far, Re-Mime Me To Love You,  the female protagonist, Gabby, struggles to come to terms with her failure to communicate effectively -- or at all -- with her lover, Hans. Hilarious misunderstadindings ensure. Gabby thinks Hans is praying when he is actually proposing, and when he indicates putting a ring on her finger, she thinks it's an obscene gesture. Mark our words, once mime-fever hits readers, horizontal stripes and jaunty berets will be turning up in stores quicker than you can say, “Oh, I get it. You’re supposed to be driving a car. Yeah, that’s a good one.”

 

Inspirational Romance: Ventriloquists

 

Trend-watchers have been waiting years for the ventriloquist romance to come into its own, and that day has finally arrived! In the breakthrough ventriloquist romance novel, Puppet Love, readers meet Angela, a beautiful small-town librarian whose faith in love has been shattered by a deceitful ex-boyfriend who broke her heart. Angela slowly learns to trust again when she meets a handsome ventriloquist, Byron, and his shabby wooden dummy, Patchpants McGee. If only she could get Byron alone, Angela just knows that love will blossom between the two of them. But somehow Patchpants always seems to be sitting on his lap! As Angela, Byron and Patchpants grow closer, they learn that three doesn’t always have to be a crowd.

 

Contemporary Historical Western Romance: 1890s-Style Grizzled Prospectors

 

Contemporary historical Western romance fans will love the grizzled 1890s-style prospector, who pans for gold even as he struggles to conceal his own heart of gold, dagnabit. In Midnight at Gully Gulch, the first of many 1890s-style grizzled-prospectors novels,  to be published soon (others include Eureka: A Vein of Romance, Mine Own True Love, and Big Nuggets),  ambitious young paralegal Caroline manages to land a coveted spot at a highly-respected law firm -- but her new boss, a legendary defense attorney who has earned a reputation as a lothario, also happens to be a 1890s-style grizzled prospector named Canyon Pete. Before long, Caroline and Canyon Pete find themselves together on a business trip to an 1890s-style grizzled prospectors/lawyers convention where the rotgut and the sarsaparilla flow like water. Will Caroline resist the charms of her demanding new boss, or will she find herself in his arms, braiding his long white beard as he stakes his claim? We reckon you’ll have to read the book to find out. 

 

Molly Schoemann is from New York City but now lives in North Carolina with her 1890s-style grizzled prospector husband and two dogs. You can find more of her work at MollySchoemann.com.

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July 22: On this day in 1941, on his twelfth wedding anniversary, Eugene O'Neill presented the just-finished manuscript of Long Day's Journey into Night to his wife, Carlotta.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

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Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).

Watching Them Be

What makes a film actor into a larger-than-life movie star? James Harvey's passionate, freewheeling essays explain why there are some faces (from Greta Garbo's to Samuel L. Jackson's) from which we cannot look away.

Landline

What if you called up the spouse on the verge of leaving you -- and instead found yourself magically talking to his younger self, the one you first fell for?  Rainbow Rowell, author of the YA smash Eleanor & Park, delivers a sly, enchanting take on 21st-century love.