Wednesday, August 28, 2013

In Pursuit of the Despicablimp, Part Deux

My mission has failed.

I didn't get any photos of the Despicablimp. In my wild and crazy youth, I would have chased it all the way to Chicago if I'd had to. These days, however, the extent of my adventurousness (is that a word?) is just getting home from the mall. I get out of breath walking to the kitchen.

I should have gone to the airport when it was parked here and taken photographs. But I had my heart set on an airborne photo. I considered trying to bribe the pilots--but with what? I could hardly offer a home-cooked meal. I wouldn't wish my cooking on anybody. Oh, sure, Collin eats it and sometimes actually likes it--but Collin has a positively Kryptonian gastrointestinal system. I've watched him eat fossilized tacos!

Yep, I'm disappointed. This photo, from the Despicablimp website, was taken as the blimp was approaching Chicago. This is the kind of shot I was hoping for. A blimp at night is a truly beautiful sight to behold!

But this past week, just the prospect of getting that elusive photograph, has been the most fun I've had in quite a while. I can't remember the last time I got so excited about anything. I felt energized--which may be why I've been able to write again.

Looking at the comments accompanying the photos posted on the Despicablimp site and reading the Tweets on their Twitter page, I found I was not alone in my response to the big airship that looks like a giant Minion. Everywhere they go, people say just seeing it makes them smile. It makes them happy, just to be a part of the blimp's journey.

Is this why the two Despicable Me movies are so popular? Is this why Collin and I--and a lot of other people--have baskets full of plush Minions, buy Happy Meals to get Minion toys, and wear Minion T-shirts and boxer shorts? (Don't laugh--they're soft and comfy and all those smiling yellow faces promise only sweet dreams!) I can't speak for everyone, but they sure make me feel happy.

What makes you smile?


Be sure you check out William's latest "Day in the Life" posts at Speak of the Devil--and do take the Yahoo Summer Movies poll! (It looks like Man of Steel's Henry Cavill is winning the poll for Sexiest Summer Stud--but in second place (and beating Iron Man 3's Robert Downey Jr.!) is Despicable Me 2's Kevin the Minion! What can I say? Minions are irresistible!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

In Pursuit of the Despicablimp

I now understand how Wile E. Coyote feels, always chasing the Road Runner but never catching him.

I've spent the past few days trying to photograph the Despicablimp, the airship cruising the country to promote Despicable Me 2 (yep, the Minions--which, as anyone who knows me or has visited my Facebook page can tell you, is one of the truly great joys of my life!). The Despicablimp is painted to look like a gigantic Minion, so of course I want to photograph it!

Since I have yet to get my own photos,
I "borrowed" this from the

The Despicablimp arrived in the St. Louis area on Tuesday evening. I was on the lookout for it, having received its estimated arrival time from the pilots via Twitter. It could have been a good shot, had I not been positioned just a bit too far south! I had a spot on a hill overlooking the interstate, my camera set for zoom. A few clouds aside, it was a bright, sunny afternoon. I had everything I needed for a good photo. Except my subject.

I finally gave up. The bugs in that overgrowth were waging war with me--and winning. (Note to MoDOT: mow the land around the exit ramps, will you? Those bugs play dirty!)

Wednesday morning brought renewed hope. Tweet from the Despicablimp crew: they would be in the air again, "all over town." Well, not exactly all over town. Not in my neighborhood, anyway. I find myself wondering if this might be due to the fact that we're very near the Jefferson County line. For the unenlightened, Jefferson County was once the meth lab capital of the country with 2075 labs counted. It now has only 1825 (if you don't count those mobile meth labs in soda bottles) and has lost the top spot to Tulsa, Oklahoma. But that's still a lot of meth labs in Jefferson County, and a lot of druggies who might mistake the Despicablimp for a UFO and start shooting at it!

I can imagine them trying to explain themselves to Sheriff Boyer's deputies: "But it was self-defense! We saw an uffo! They was gonna take us on their spaceship and do experiments on us!" (Note to any and all aliens in our galaxy: If you ever do take any of these nitwits, please give them brain transplants!)

But I digress. Back to my own pursuit of the glorious Despicablimp. Collin and I went out as soon as it was airborne again, armed with our smartphones/cameras. We had lunch at McDonalds (which, by the way, did a DM2 promo--we ate a lot of Happy Meals to collect two complete sets of Minion toys!). We found a booth that gave us clear views in three different directions--just in case.

Once again, disappointment. The Despicablimp had headed west from its local base at the Regional Airport. It was flying over Forest Park, the Central West End, Shrewsbury--my old neighborhood, the same place Collin and I had gotten a great view of the Titanic blimp one night fifteen years ago. This is what we get for moving.

It also flew over St. Louis Childrens Hospital. I hope a lot of kids being treated there got to see it. It would have made their day!

I was up early this morning, hoping to hear the chirping sound of my Twitter app, letting me know the Despicablimp would be heading in our direction today. Nope. When the tweet came, it was to let everyone know the crew would be taking the day off and the blimp would be on the ground at Alton all day. Well, hey--everybody needs a day off.

I haven't lost hope. As Scarlett O'Hara once said, tomorrow is another day. I might yet get at least one Despicablimp photo--and if I do, you'll see it here (and at my Wordpress blog) first. And to my photoblogger friends--I don't know how you do it!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

There Goes the Neighborhood...Again!

I just found out there are four registered sex offenders living in our apartment complex. Four.

I found out because one of Collin's co-workers, about to move into an apartment here, backed out because she made this discovery. We've been here over seven years and knew nothing of it. We knew about the druggies--the smell of pot lingering in the air is hard to miss (okay, I had to be told that stench wasn't just someone's really bad cooking, but now that I know....). We knew about the thefts and robberies. But this is news. Bad news.

It seems to me that anyone moving into the property should be informed of such tenants. Yes, I know, right to privacy and all that--our laws do more to protect the criminals than they do to protect law-abiding citizens--but don't we have a right to know our safety might be at risk?

Collin and I decided a while back to get our conceal and carry permits. The more I hear about our neighbors here, the more certain I am that it was the right decision.

As anyone who's been following this blog knows, I've had issues with the kids in our immediate area. The parents do little to monitor their activities. Even very young children are out and about, unattended, late at night. I wonder if these parents would be so cavalier about their kids if they knew there were predators nearby?

I swear, this has always been a good neighborhood--solid middle class, lots of families, good schools, shopping and entertainment nearby--in spite of how it sounds. Some of the apartment complexes have developed bad reputations, however. Allowing sex offenders and drug users does nothing to improve those bad reps, but still they're approved as renters.

I think landlords have an obligation to alert their tenants to the presence of registered sex offenders. I'll go further and say complexes that are family-friendly should be able and willing to reject sex offenders as tenants. What do you think?


*Be sure you check out William's blog taking aim at summer and our joint blog on Sherlock Holmes!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Tale of Two Sams

Wow...I haven't posted in over a week. I haven't commented on the blogs I follow, either--I have some catching up to do. It's been a rough week--but not because I turned 60 on Monday. Okay, that's a big deal. Turning 40 was no biggie, nor was 50. Age is just a number, right? You're only as old as you feel, right?

That's the problem. At 40 and 50, I didn't feel any differently than I did at 30--but 60? At 60, we're no longer "middle-aged." Think about it. How many 120-year-old people do you know? And I'm feeling my age now. I remind me of the car I bought my parents when I sold my first novel. It ran like a dream until the warranty was up. Mom decided to trade it in around that time. The fuel pump gave out when the car dealer was driving it around the block.

I find myself feeling a lot like that car--partially due to health issues, but mostly due to an unhappy memory.

As I started writing Sam's Story: The Life and Times of a Tiny Bird with a Huge Personality, I realized I couldn't tell Sam's story without telling the story of my first Sam, a canary-winged parakeet very much like his namesake. I haven't written much about him because it's painful...and because I don't know how his story ended.

I had just turned seventeen when my dog Scamp died. I was grieving--and dealing with a head injury that left me unable to use my left side for a time. My parents, in an attempt to cheer me up, gave me a bird for Christmas. Mom had seen me visiting the "Bee Bee Parrots" at Woolworths and decided that while I wasn't ready for another dog, a bird might be just what I needed.

She was right. Sam and I quickly bonded. He was a one-person bird. I was the only one who could hold him or feed him or do anything with him. When I went off to college, I got permission to take him with me to the dorm. When I got my own apartment after college, he was with me, always with me.

We had nine years together--then Collin was born. I knew I needed my parents' help with a new baby, so I moved back home. Sam wasn't happy. He was jealous of the new baby, and made his displeasure known. He was always screeching and screaming, keeping Collin awake and driving my parents nuts. They started pressing me to find Sam a new home.

I could have packed our bags and left, but I knew I had to do what was best for Collin. I finally agreed to find Sam another home. Because I needed money and Sam was a species that was popular at that time, Dad urged me to sell him to a pet shop. I reluctantly agreed...but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I couldn't do that to Sam. I spent that day at work dwelling on it. I was going to go home and tell them I'd changed my mind. I'd find a way to deal with Sam's jealousy toward Collin. Somehow.

I was too late. Mom, thinking it would be easier on me if I weren't the one to take him to the pet shop, told me she'd taken him while I was at work. She said a woman had been in the shop while she was there...someone who seemed very interested in Sam.

I went to the pet shop to get him back...but again, I was too late. He was gone. I couldn't find out where. I never saw him again. I never knew how long he lived...what kind of life he'd had...if he'd ended up with someone who loved him and treated him well. I convinced myself he'd gotten a good home because I couldn't allow myself to believe otherwise. I had to hold myself together for Collin's sake.

When I found my second Sam, eleven years later--at a little pet shop across the street from the Woolworths where I'd found the first, I wanted to believe--needed to believe--he'd come back to me. That's why I named him Sam, too.

Did he? I don't know. I know that he acted as if he'd known me forever from that first moment. There was no period of adjustment when I took him home, no bonding process. He was just home, where he belonged. 

*Also posted at WordPress.

Sam's Story: The Life and Times of a Tiny Bird with a Huge Personality

I tried to move my blogs exclusively to WordPress, but some of my readers have reported difficulty in posting comments there. I don't have so many readers that I can afford to lose any, so--I'm back, posting at both Blogger and WordPress again! Hope nobody has abandoned me here--and that you've all seen William's observations on the Syfy Channel's absurd programming (Sharknado, anyone?) and our joint efforts to poke fun at hormonally-overcharged politicians!

My next digital short story--which may turn out to be a book at the rate things are going!--for Amazon and Smashwords will be nonfiction: the story of my parakeet Sam--who was quite a character!