The Novel Continues

Well, the blog has officially taken a back seat. I have met some talented writers from the Naperville region and they have motivated me beyond my wildest expectations for what I can accomplish as a writer. November, as per a prior post, is National Novel Writing Month, and as such, I have embarked on the long and arduous journey of writing a full length novel. The story I have in front of me now is coming along well, and could be a full length novel with only some tweaking (and oh, about 80k more words). I am going to snowflake the plot and see if it goes anywhere. If not, there is always a tidy way to tie it off, like a ligature to a field wound, and wind up another long yarn from scratch.

I've spoken of writing for years, and now I am doing it. I wrote at work today (editing mostly) and tonight. The Naperville group has online chatting and help, and events planned in 2011. I'm pleased to learn from their experience; their dedication to the craft is infectious.

Coolkayaker1 lives on, as periodic posts are scheduled automatically in December and even in 2011. And I will venture on here now and again to update you about life and writing and family and travels. But, alas, the posts will now be sporadic. I am really enjoying the discovery of a part of me that was always present, always a desire, just something underneath the doctor, father and husband me. It's time to unearth this core essence of who I am.

Without further adieu, I'm off to finish my story about The Suitcase With the Scarab Clasp.


JFK in Dallas Caught By Abraham Zapruder's Amateur Video

The Zapruder film is a silent, color motion picture sequence shot by private citizen Abraham Zapruder with a home-movie Bell and Howell (now in US National Archives Museum) camera, as U.S. President John F. Kennedy's motorcade passed through Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963, thereby unexpectedly capturing the President's assassination. Abraham Zapruder (May 15, 1905 – August 30, 1970) was an American manufacturer of women's clothing. He was filming with a home-movie camera as U.S. President John F. Kennedy's motorcade passed through Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963, and unexpectedly captured the President's assassination on what came to be known as the Zapruder Film. The camera was an 8 mm Bell & Howell Zoomatic Director Series Model 414 PD—top of the line when it was purchased in 1962.

Television interview
While at WFAA, Zapruder described on live television what he had seen:
JAY WATSON (Station WFAA Dallas): [...] And would you tell us your story please, sir?
ABRAHAM ZAPRUDER: I got out in, uh, about a half-hour earlier to get a good spot to shoot some pictures. And I found a spot, one of these concrete blocks they have down near that park, near the underpass. And I got on top there, there was another girl from my office, she was right behind me. And as I was shooting, as the President was coming down from Houston Street making his turn, it was about a half-way down there, I heard a shot, and he slumped to the side, like this. Then I heard another shot or two, I couldn't say it was one or two, and I saw his head practically open up [places fingers of right hand to right side of head in a narrow cone, over his right ear], all blood and everything, and I kept on shooting. That's about all, I'm just sick, I can't…
WATSON: I think that pretty well expresses the entire feelings of the whole world.
ZAPRUDER: Terrible, terrible.
WATSON: You have the film in your camera, we'll try to get...
ZAPRUDER: Yes, I brought it on the studio, now.
WATSON: We'll try to get that processed and have it as soon as possible.[6]

Sale of rights
Late that evening, Zapruder was contacted at home by Richard Stolley, an editor at Life magazine (and first editor of the future People magazine). They arranged to meet the following morning to view the film, after which Zapruder sold the print rights to Life magazine for $50,000. The following day (November 24), Life purchased all rights to the film for a total of $150,000 (equivalent to $1 million in 2007).[7] (Zapruder gave the first $25,000 to the widow of Dallas policeman J.D. Tippit, who had been killed confronting Lee Harvey Oswald in the hours after the assassination.)
The night after the assassination, Zapruder is said to have had a nightmare in which he saw a booth in Times Square advertising "See the President's head explode!"[8] He determined that, while he was willing to make money from the film, he did not want the public to see the full horror of what he had seen. Therefore, a condition of the sale to Life was that frame 313, showing the fatal shot, would be withheld.


My Tripadvisor Review: The Friendly Fisherman Restaurant, Florida

Skip the Friendly Fisherman Restaurant at 150 John’s Pass Boardwalk in southwest Florida’s Madeira Beach. This very busy hole-in-the wall attracted us, as it does many, by it’s location over the St. John’s bustling seaside shopping boardwalk, and it has inviting windows facing the sound. With all those patrons parked at its pine tables and bench chairs, it must be great, right? Wrong. It is very middling at best, and everything on the menu is fried: fried halibut, fried clams, and fried scallops, with a side of French fried potatoes. The chef had to be a former Jiffy Lube mechanic: he sure knows how to work the grease.

We got a table by the window, but after the sun sets, it doesn’t matter—the restaurant is so brightly lit that you cannot see out anyhow. So we were left sitting at the window being peered upon by all the rathskallions along the boardwalk. We must appear like a fish tank full of hungry piranha, downing heaping plates of oily yellow "fish nuggets".

Our waitress, a bawdy middle-aged Ohio native, took our order of broiled mahi-mahi appetizer, which was the only nonfried appetizer on the menu. Hell, they even serve fried veggies! The mahi mahi was blackened to the point of overpowering, but we downed it all in preparation for a plate of fried clams that was the size of Long Island. Fortunately, we were bright enough to split the ginormous plate between the two of us. They added a $2.95 mandatory charge for splitting a single entrĂ©e, but you do get an extra empty plate, plus extra potato and small, dressing-drenched side salad. Even between the two of us, we could not down all the clams. I will confess, the clams were lightly battered, strips only, and were tasty. But if any single person can eat this entire $12 order of fried clams themselves, they ought to be presented the “I’m a gluttonous pig and my heart deserves to choke stop now” trophy for overt stupidity.

We have dined at so many truly unique places here in south central FL, and frankly, the cattle call at the Friendly Fisherman is like eating at a grimy Red Lobster. Not unique, not a creative item on the menu, and when you leave, you feel like your gut is going to bust from trans fat bloatedness. If your goal is to simply sling on the feed bag and chow on assorted crustaceans rolled mercilessly in batter, then The Friendly Fisherman is your ticket. This joint will likely get the golden Fry-o-later People's Choice Award as it appears, regrettably, that most American diners adore their seafood oily and corn-battered, judging by the average waist size at the Friendly Fisherman. I did not see anyone over the age of ten that had a waist size smaller than their height. I could hula hoop in their jean shorts.

If you are looking for something marginally healthy that is uniquely Florida, bypass this restaurant for any of the other great dining experiences that await you along the Gulf Road.

(belches clam grease) We wish we did.

This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC


Book Review Murder In Galena

From my mean Amazon review of Murder In Galena by Sandra Principe 2006:

I like this book as a first effort, and support new authors and love Galena, but this novella truly has shortcomings. First, Galena is represented by about 20% of the book.; This lovely brick-building preserved hilltown in upstate IL is a super setting for a story, so let's hear about it! Most of the story is in a Chicago setting; not nearly as exotic as the title-promised Galena. The death scene, although in Galena and sets the stage for the entire short tome, is very stilted and--well, dead. Second, the characters are flat, lifeless. Although we want to like the protagonist (first person so we should know her well), readers have little sense of what makes her tick, why she's helping friend to the extent she does, etc. Even when she gets eerie threats, they seem almost perfunctory, rather than life-shaking as they would be in reality. Underreaction to almost every aspect of some pretty key life events (no details to avoid spoiler) makes for a very flat ride. Third, show don't tell (the classic writer's canon) is simply not applied here as each character essentially tells our heroine protagonist how they were or were not involved in the murder. No real denoument, no suspense (actions, not words or dialogue, build suspense); in fact, a few chapters (eg painting background story) as patently irrelevent to the story as a whole. Good first effort, however, in fast read (short paragraphs, large text). Bottom line is that details--like fine brushstrokes on a canvas--are missing here, making the story thin and lifeless. Hoping future Karen Prince mysteries add gobs of nuance, aromas, textures on fingers, fear when appropriate. Let us hear an Irish brogue or a lack of diction in the feeble-minded. Let us breathe with the characters the soggy air of the Galena River. Let us learn from action, not dialogue, how your splendid plot unravels. And most critically, let us spend time not galavanting from location to location (even within Chicago, the protagonist goes to umpteen different locations), but allow us to bask in the cobbled regalia of Galena. 

Karen wrote about three other books and has not written in the last couple years, thankfully.


The Neighborhoods

Giant props to anyone that knows Dave Minehan's The Neighborhoods. This guy is still rocking Boston, all these many decades later. The Prettiest Girl. A classic of garage rock.

Challenge Company, Batavia, Illinois

This is a famous Challenge Windmill from Batavia's Riverfront, which has the actual factory--defunct since the 1940's--in the background.  Batavia is Windmill City.  Another windmill (not the one in my photos) was donated to Batavia this past summer. Local newspaper article below:

July 10, 2010: The Batavia Historical Society has donated a fourth windmill to the city of Batavia.
The city council accepted the gift Tuesday night, the same night it heard a presentation by a new business about using wind power in the 21st century.
Batavia, whose logo features a windmill and whose unofficial motto is "the city of energy," housed several windmill manufacturers from the mid-1800s to shortly after World War II. Retired city worker Bob Popeck has located and restored Batavia-made windmills for many years.
The windmill, made by the Batavia Windmill Co., will be placed on the parkway on the northern edge of the Batavia Government Center, which is the former home of the windmill-making Appleton Manufacturing Co.
The other three windmills are in what is called Windmill Court, on the west side of the government center, near the Batavia Riverwalk. City staff recommended the new one not be placed there for several reasons, including that underground water sprinkler and electrical lines would have to be moved and the foundation altered.
Popeck and his fellow volunteers are writing a maintenance manual for the other city-owned windmills on the campus, so that in their absence, information will be available about the mechanics of the windmills, what kind of maintenance they need and how to repair them. When lacking lubrication, they've been known to squeak loud enough to distract employees in the government center.
Challenge Windmill and Feed Co., U.S. Wind Engine and Pump Co. and Appleton were the three biggest makers of the machines that powered water pumps around the world. There were three other, smaller manufacturers.
Their blades spin, but they don't pump water.
Meanwhile, city officials were pleased to hear about a new business in town, New Edison Energy. The company provides energy audits, and wind and solar energy products.


Illinois Route 47

Illinois Route 47 is a largely rural north–south state highway that runs from the Wisconsin state border at Highway 120 near Hebron, to Illinois Route 10, just south of Interstate 72 nearSeymour. This is a distance of 169.76 miles (273.20 km).[2] Even though Route 47 is primarily rural, in several suburbs of Chicago, such as Woodstock, traffic can be congested. Even in heavily rural areas, traffic is heavy.
It crosses most Interstate highways in northern and central Illinois, but the largest towns that Illinois 47 serves are Huntley (at the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway), Yorkville (at U.S. Route 34), Woodstock (at U.S. Route 14), Lily Lake at (Illinois Route 64), Elburn (at Illinois Route 38), Sugar Grove (at U.S. Route 30Morris (at Interstate 80), Dwight (at Interstate 55),Forrest (at U.S. Route 24), Gibson City (at Illinois Route 54), and Mahomet (at Interstate 74).
Illinois 47 overlaps Illinois Route 72 and U.S. Route 20 near Starks, an unincorporated village approximately 60 miles (97 km) from Chicago; this concurrency is part of a so-called wrong-way concurrency, where one can be driving both west on Illinois 72 and east on U.S. 20 at the same time. Route 47 also shares concurrencies with Illinois Route 9 and Illinois 54 in Gibson City, U.S. Route 30 in Sugar GroveU.S. Route 6 in Morris, Historic U.S. Route 66 in Dwight, and U.S. Route 150 in Mahomet.
The Prairie Parkway study is a preliminary study by the Illinois Department of Transportation for a limited-access freeway that will roughly parallel Illinois 47. According to the study's FinalEnvironmental Impact Statement, Illinois Route 47 will interchange with Prairie Parkway approximately 1/2 mile south of Caton Farm Road near Yorkville.
The Illinois Department of Transportation is proposing to add lanes to several portions of Illinois Route 47. The Prairie Parkway study included engineering for 4 lanes from I-80 in Morris to Caton Farm Road south of Yorkville. Engineering is underway for Caton Farm Road to Illinois Route 71 in Yorkville, from Kennedy Road in Yorkville to US 30 in Sugar Grove, and from Charles Road to US 14 in Woodstock. Illinois Route 47 additional lanes through Yorkville and Huntley are part of the Illinois Jobs Now capital improvement plan and are funded at $36.5 million and $36 million respectively for construction.[3]


View From The Water, Under Bridge, St. Charles, IL

The pointed building is St. Charles city hall, and if you squint real closely under the bridges further upstream, you can see the St. Charles dam.  This is the view as one first sets eyes on St. Charles when kayaking upstream approaching the first bridge.


Mr. Toad's Wild Ride

A toad holds the guitar picks in my son's axe room.  Toadie keeps them safe while he cups his hand behind his ear to listen to the rock and roll music.  Actually, it's more than just rock and's crushing, high-gain, drop D thrash metal.  But I'll let Mr. Toad explain it when you come to visit him sometime.


Firefighter Demo At Batavia, Illinois Windmill Fest, Summer 2010

Captured on a warm sunny day on my Fuji point and shoot, me ducking down behind the firetruck, then mirror copied with the outstanding free online editor.


Get An Early Start On Those New Year's Workout Resolutions

I only have one word for this next one.  Well, two words, actually: Oh Yeah!

Watch out.  Watch out! That's heavy now....


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