Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Categories Player Interview the Ninth: Carl Croushore


When I think of Carl Croushore, I think of verbal tough love delivered with an amazing grin. A purveyor of one of my drugs of choice (here I am referring to books) I know him to be calm, fair-minded and fun. A categories VIP, the charm and wit of Carl Croushore has contributed greatly to the flight of many roflcopters in my corner of the internet, as in life. A man with strong hands (or so I have heard) he is also an artiste. In Reggie-land we do love the artistes... so let me introduce you to one...


Q. Boxers or briefs?

A. Boxer-briefs

Q. Current profession?

A. Library staff at UW-Madison

Q. Favorite color?

A. Opal

Q. First thought when confronted with waking up.

A. "What time is it?!?"

Q. What was your reaction when 12/21/2012 came and went and the world was still here?

A. The Mayans were great practical jokers

Q. Favorite Categories thing.

A. Games People Play

Q. What were you doing right before I started asking you a bunch of inane questions?

A. Helping a patron with a graduate carrel.

Q. Are you an animal person?

A. Yes.

Q. Favorite food thing of the moment?

A. Sushi (always!)

Q.  What are your thoughts on the subject of yam salve?

A. If it works for yams ...

Q. Tell us about your current creative project/s.

A. I'm currently working on the wax master for a friend's Hammer of Thor pendant.
I'm finishing a long-overdue tool project for a friend.
I'm getting ready to clean out my "man-space" to make room for some concerted metal-smithing to create a professional portfolio.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Words about a Work In Progress: Play: Road To Nowhere

Today, the play is most definitely the thing. It is time for rewrites on a play titled Road To Nowhere, which I am crazy excited about because it will be performed this year. I can't say too much about the when and how as of yet because it is not set in stone, but trust me, I'll be shouting about it all over the interwebs as details become available.

For those of you who know me, you're aware that I am always juggling multiple creative projects. Often the results of those projects remain hidden as they await their turn for rewrites, go through their inevitable submissions processes and yes, occasionally die on the vine. Most of my work has been in fiction, but opportunities to write plays makes me squee like crazy. I squee even harder when I know that the work will be realized, made tangible and available to an audience. It's even more exciting for me as a writer to see what happens when my imaginary world meets the imagination of others and I get to see the event. For this I have to thank Paul Winarski who said, "Hey, why don't you write something for us?"

This is what got the ball rolling. He and I brainstormed a bit about it and then I set to work. Of course the story contains vestiges of the primordial seeds from which it sprung. Like most stories it took on a life of its own in the process. (One of my favorite things about doing this work is the unexpected stuff that pulses out of the subconscious onto the page.) It flowered into what I am hoping will prove to be one of the best things I've done. Of course, I have that hope about every project.

After the first draft stage I sent it off to Paul and immediately became nervous that it would not pass muster, that the changes that I need to make would be dramatic, that there would be too many F-bombs, etc... Being busy folk, Paul and I kept trying to schedule a time to talk about what might need to be done in the second draft and kept having other concerns pop up. He is involved in directing and acting and producing several other shows locally, not to mention his day job. Flu season, social and family obligations, my odd service person work schedule all conspired against us, which had the additional effect of heightening my nervousness.

I didn't need to be so nervous. We finally connected and discussed the second draft and I swear it was like he was reading my mind. So, goodbye nervousness and welcome back excitement. Re-writes have begun. Tentative plans for a staged reading are underway and the project is in the hands of the perfect person.

Enough about process. What about the play?

The play itself is set in Jake's bar, after hours. This is the last brick and mortar business of what used to be Jake's empire. Things are falling apart. The bartender, Sage, is having serious relationship issues with her girlfriend, Daphne, which threatens her friendship with Aidan. A recent hire at the bar, Callie, seems to be taking advantage of Jake which upsets Sage who increasingly feels as though she has to handle everything on her own. Jake has a few secrets that could change everything. Some of those secrets are revealed when Callie's estranged husband, Harry, shows up uninvited and others when Jake's niece Ginny arrives with news about the family.

The play is meant to examine how people navigate complicated and dark emotional places.

I don't want to reveal too much too soon about the work itself. Those are just the broad strokes. I'll spill more about it later when we are closer to production.

In the meantime, there is this...


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Adventures in Reggie-Land: In Which A Fun Thing Happened

Last night I went to see the Eilen Jewell band in Jim Thorpe at the Mauch Chunk Opera House with my friend Zesty. The performance warm, quietly energetic. What I mean by that is there were moments when as an audience member I just wanted to close my eyes and drift along the swoon-worthy melodies of Eilen Jewell's honeyed voice and other moments when I wanted to get up and shake my everything like those girls in old beach movies.

If you are unfamiliar with Eilen Jewell, it's like Patsy Cline and Julie Cruise had a secret love child and that love child went on to write amazing soundtracks for noir films. (I stole about half of that description from Zesty.) Of course, as with most forms of art, the best thing to do is let the art speak for itself rather than read my efforts to cheer-lead for it in a clever way. You can find more about them here: http://eilenjewell.com/home.cfm

The Mauch Chunk Opera House was built in the 1800s and is in and of itself worth seeing. More about that here: http://mauchchunkoperahouse.com/

So, a little backstory leading up to the event. Zesty and I are both artists who find ourselves (as many artists do) entrenched in the struggling phase of our efforts. By struggling I do mean that we work service jobs with low pay and therefore do not frequently have the funds to do fun stuff. We are also a quirky sort of folk so the fun stuff that is usually offered does not necessarily qualify as fun for us.

For example:

Random acquaintance:  Hey, Reggie do you want to do see that porkball bat game this weekend?

Me: "Are you talking about sports?"

Random acquaintance: "Of course."

Me: "Um, no."

(I should qualify that I don't really have anything against sports, it's just that unless there's the promise of some other sort of mischief on the side then I'm probably not up for it.)

So, Zesty and I compiled a list of things we both want to do that we never get to do and have made it a goal to do more of those things this year. One of the things on Zesty's list was that he has wanted to see Eilen Jewell play live. They have played the Opera House before and apparently every time it is during bad weather.

We got wind of the possibility of a shitstorm a week in advance, so every night we watched the weather with fear and trembling in our beleaguered, audiophilic hearts. Would we be able to go? (Okay, Zesty watched the weather while I messed around on facebook playing categories and he called to fill me in.)

At a certain point I put my foot down, shook my fist at the sky and shouted, "Shitstorm be damned! ZESTY AND I WILL DO THIS FUN THING WITH OR WITHOUT YOU!"

Since I was the driver, my decision held firm. We planned around the shitstorm. I figured, we're Pennsylvanians. We should not be so panicky about the white frosty stuff. The drive there was uneventful. It did start to snow shortly after we got to Jim Thorpe, which was kind of cool because that town is unbelievably beautiful in the snow. We ate, we drank fruity alcohol-laden beverages, we drank heavily caffeinated coffee (and by that I mean there were many shots of espresso involved.)

Music was imbibed.

And all was well...

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Categories Player Interview the Eighth: Jean Roman


Jean Roman is un chanteuse extraordinaire, with one of the sweetest, clearest voices. A gifted poet and folksinger, I've been lucky enough to read with her and to work with her on a few creative projects. (You can find her on SoundCloud as jeanieroman) She contributed some beautiful poems to a compilation called the Juicebox Project and acted as a coal-cracker matriarch in a play I wrote called The Reason We Can't Have Nice Things, which was a soap opera spoof performed in coal-speak. One of my favorite quotes of Jean's is "I just want to be." Don't we all? Whenever my head starts spinning I think of that instead of whatever (usually silly) thing it is that's getting me all nutters.
This is a woman with a lot to offer any community lucky enough to have her and she gives great hug.


Q. Boxers or briefs?

A. My dad had a boxer named Sarge, I liked that dog. My personal choice for underwear is usually high-cut briefs or none at all.

Q. Current profession?

A. My profession has always been 'muddling along'. Though I love when I am given any opportunity to muddle with music and words, and with healing intentions. The universe is a crazy bitch. It's a constant shake of the head. My moneyed job is as a telephone customer service rep for PSECU (a great credit union). We'll see.

(...and later)
After sleeping on it, I realized that in truth, I am not just muddling along in my profession. Muddling along implies a lack of direction. IN fact, it's just that I rarely make any money doing what I love to do; and profession, in this society, implies money. I've been studying sound and breath healing modalities for over 20 years. I am a certified Acutonics practitioner - amazing work with specially calibrated tuning forks, applied to acupressure points on the body - it's profound, and beautiful. And I have 360 hrs of training, and two years of practical experience as a massage therapist. I can't practice massage legally anymore in PA because they passed laws prohibiting me from doing so. I can't get grandfathered in because when the time to do so was happening, I had a fractured pelvis and couldn't work. I write every day. I sit and contemplate the wonders of the world. I am an fabulous cook. And like Reggie said, I give great hugs.

Q. Favorite color?

A. I have at least two: the sky in northern New Mexico in the autumn, and the ocean on a stormy day

Q. First thought when confronted with waking up.

A. What the hell? (usually in response to a dream)

Q. What was your reaction when 12/21/2012 came and went and the world was still here?

A. Well, I wasn't surprised. Those Mayans are typically a bunch of jokesters ... actually, I am hoping that consciousness is a bit more enlightened on this wacky playground that we call Earth.

Q.  Favorite Categories thing.

A. Reading everyone else's responses.

Q. What were you doing right before I started asking you a bunch of inane questions?

A. Drinking coffee (I am still drinking coffee)

Q. Are you an animal person?

A. Are you suggesting I know how to shapeshift? Or that I am a Furry? Otters turn me on ...

Q. Favorite food thing of the moment?

A. Potato soup

Q. What are your thoughts on the subject of yam salve?

A. It's only recently that I understand the mechanism of yam salve. I have yet to compete for the prize because I am usually too late tuning in. I like yams. And salve.

Q. Tell us about your current creative project/s.

A. I am gearing up to begin to write some memoirs from those crazy coal region days and nights. Also, creating a space within myself whereby it's not so painful to be me, in all iterations; a continual process. It sure would be great to create the pathway to my true tribe...

As for creative projects, well, I sing all the time. I write. I play my guitar. I have a small catalog of songs, and this year, after 'muddling' for so long, I intend to get them out there in the world in a larger way.

A Breakdown of Categories Awards: Part the First (Probably)

It was suggested that perhaps The Categories Players would like a breakdown/explanation of the the Categories Awards.

(For anyone unfamiliar with Categories as it is played on my facebook page, it is explained in detail here: http://www.reggielutz.blogspot.com/2013/01/categories-explained-and-blog-um.html )

It is difficult to begin, there are so many! So Categories Players who are actually reading this, if you notice one that is missing, help a sister out and leave a comment about any egregious omissions in the comments section.

Highest (and most frequently granted) award is the Yam Salve Award. This award is granted to the first category relevant answer containing yam salve. For further information about the legend of yam salve, refer to the post I linked earlier.

The Most Thumbs Award is less frequently given, probably because it is less fun than some of the other awards and I often forget to award it. Another reason I forget to grant the Most Thumbs Award is that you bastards are too f*cking funny for me to keep track of everything that categories has spawned. (I say that with a great deal of affection.) This award is self-explanatory. The comment or commenter with the most "likes" in a category gets the Most Thumbs. Of course, once they have the most thumbs I do have a concern that the person in question will suffer from difficulties with buttons. Then again, there is always the modern miracle of Velcro...

The Cheney Award has a long and sordid history, of course. The Cheney was first used outside of the categories game for a writer's critique group that I participate in with the incomparable Rune Skelley. ( http://www.skelleyverse.com/ ) In the critique group whenever we got sidetracked for too long from the actual work of critique, someone would yell, "Cheney!" as a signal for us to get back on topic. The Cheney Award, as it functions in Categories, is granted to the players who take us off into side conversations that have little to do with the category... as The High Priestess of Yam Salve, Joy Downey, would put it, the emergence of roflcopters.

The Breaking Reggie Award   is granted to those who manage to deliver a category answer that gets burned into my already scarred and crazy brain. This one can be unpredictable.

The Aw! So Cute Award is another self-explanatory one. It goes to cute or sweet answers.

The Poetry Award  is granted to the most heartfelt, touching and sometimes downright beautiful answer. It isn't always snark and weird activities involving private parts. (Just most of the time)

The You Read My Mind Award goes to the person who delivers unto the Categories Players the answer that popped into my head when I posted the category.

The Bob Digi Award is named for Bob Digi, a man responsible for ab-aching laughter, epic trampoline antics, the memorable video game line, "Come over here, squire! Help me with my cod-piece!" and countless jokes about everything from difficulties walking and chewing gum at the same time to, yes, feminine hygiene products. This goes to the first person to mention feminine hygiene products in an answer. If you receive a Bob Digi award, you my friend, are breathing rarefied air, indeed.

A rather recent edition to the list of awards is the "You like me, you really like me" Sally Fields Multiple Awards Award. This is another one of those self-explanatory things. If you get four or more awards in a single categories thread this award is yours. It's a Mark Boltz creation, which I am pretty sure he created for himself because he is the only person to have gotten one.

FTW, or, For the Win! is totally arbitrarily granted by me. I decide who wins. My criteria is varied and whimsical. The win is often determined by whatever randomness is circulating in my head, how much chocolate I have allowed myself to consume, mood, sense of aesthetics, the day's word count... well... you get the point. Often, no one wins, because once again, you sons-of-bitches are too f*cking funny for me to remember this one sometimes.

The Callback Award is awarded to the categories player who references, unmistakeably, a previous category.

Last but definitely not least is the Categories Players Award. I am not precisely certain of the criteria for this one. Dennis Kalup created it. I think the player who exhibits that joie de vivre (or is it ge ne sais quois?) in a striking way acquires this award. The arbiter of the aforementioned award is Dennis Kalup.

So, Categories Players, if I missed an award, I call upon thee to elucidate upon the missed award for the benefit of thoroughness and posterity (and possibly posteriors.)

See you at the game.


This update comes to you on February 3, 2013, only three days into Reggie-gras. So far this month I have been giddy, cranky, stressed, joyful, tired, sweaty and hungry, among other things. Several new awards have been created by the Categories Players. I suspect the creation of these awards is a calculated move by the High Priest to ensure more literature regarding the Yam Salve Cult's ritual of playing categories on facebook. Well done, Mark Boltz!

(I must admit that doing this is a lot more fun than thinking about the Super Bowl.)

The Stephen King Creepy Award - This award goes to the categories player who works in any reference to a Stephen King creation. Okay, that infamous line from IT. "We all float down here." If you can work that line into a categories conversation, this award is yours.

The You're So Punny! Award - Um. Puns. Intentional, incidental, accidental, lame, three-legged and feathered. Just, puns.

Crossing Media Streams Award - When another form of social media is mentioned. This is a Mark Boltz creation, so there may be other requirements here that I'm not mentioning.

Discretion is the Better Part of Velour Award - This can only be granted by the great Yam Salva. This award is granted to those categories players who decide to keep a thought to themselves. (This is an extremely rare occurrence. Sightings of the Loch Ness monster are far more common.) I suspect it may also be granted to persons who are quiet whilst wearing Velour.

That's it... for now...

If I missed any, post it, ya'll!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Categories Player Interview the Seventh: Devon Miller-Merza


What can I say about Devon Miller-Merza? She and I have known each other for a long, long time. She's smart, witty, ridiculously pretty and an unrepentant geek of the best kind. We've spent many a night together drinking, lamenting our (at the time) confusing love lives, squeeing about books and films and being each other's mutual fan club when it was sorely needed. (Is it acceptable to verb the word squee? Oh screw it. It's already done.) She, too, has a blog which can be found here:


I love this lady, my sister of the pen.


Q. What’s the best/worst piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?

A.  The best: “Read promiscuously.” I learn from the best and the worst, what to do vs. what not to do.  The worst: “Read promiscuously.” I have this bad habit of getting more reading done than writing.

Q. Alliteration or onomatopoeia?

A. “Onomatopoeia” is more fun to say, but as far as a writing style choice, I tend to use alliteration a lot more often.

Q. Boxers or briefs?
A. Boxers all the way. Not only does my husband look better in them, but I can borrow them and wear them as shorts. Now, imagine me doing that with his briefs. Exactly.

Q. Writing wardrobe?
A. Whatever I’m wearing when the writing mood strikes is the writing wardrobe. It’s no secret that I can lose inspiration, momentum, and general want-to in the short time it takes me to change my clothes. It’s nice when muses bless me while I’m already wearing something comfy.

Q. What were you doing right before I started asking you a bunch of inane questions?
A. When I first read through these questions I was at my desk at the day job, so I was doing some relatively dry tech writing. Before I actually started answering these questions, I was flipping through channels when I remembered that I was going to answer said questions.

Q. What’s on your desk right now?
A. Monthly bills (paid), a journal, the latest George R. R. Martin tome, a jewelry cloth, a wine glass (empty), roasted deluxe mixed nuts, an electronic cigarette, a tube of BENGAY, and a manicure set. This is why my laptop is currently on my lap.

Q. Favorite food thing of the moment?
A. Bacon wrapped scallops. They’re just on my mind because I made them for dinner.

Q. Indoors or outdoors? Why?

A. That totally depends on the time of year and the weather of the day. Right now, I choose indoors because it’s cold as a harpy’s nipple out there and I’m a big baby. But give me a late spring thunderstorm, and I’ll be outdoors faster than you can say “nut-job” because I just really like thunderstorms.

Q. Argyle or plain white socks?
A. Argyle. They’re dressy and casual. You can’t be wearing the wrong socks if you’re wearing argyle.

Q. If you could collaborate on a project with anyone living, dead or imaginary, who would you pick?
A. The Brothers Grimm. I’d love to collaborate with them on a fairy tale retelling.

Q. Tell us about your current creative project/s.
A. I am still working on *Thirteen Morbid Tales* which is exactly what it sounds like. One book, thirteen tales, all morbid. I say “still” because the first story was written years ago. It’s been “done” about five times and I inevitably tear it apart and toss a story or two. Apparently "done" is not synonymous with "finished product".

And I make jewelry.

Monday, January 21, 2013

A Day in the Life: Today's Theme: Indecision

Most days the wake up routine is the same. I crawl out of bed grumbling, stumble to the kitchen and make coffee, talk to Mae the parrot, take Charlie the dog outside and watch him chase the squirrels, take care of the usual bathroom business, eat something and stumble back to my room and choose which writing project to work on for the day before I have to leave the house and go to the muggle job.

Not terribly exciting, but then we are talking about most days.

Today, I find myself struggling with making that choice. I always have several creative projects in various stages of development. I'm not sure how or why that happens, but it just seems to be how I roll. Sometimes this works perfectly, one project feeds the other no matter how disparate. If I get stuck in one I can switch to another project and work on that, then return to the first project.

Today somehow, I can't make up my mind. Right now I'm blaming Leviticus Tooth. Dude sort of captured my imagination and I want to explore his story but the issue is that I have a short story in progress, a new play in progress, a finished play that will be performed this year in need of rewrites, two novels in need of rewrites and a screenplay requiring some work. I'm also drumming up ideas for a new novella set in the Fork You universe tentatively titled Spork That.

ALL of these things are taking up space in my head this morning and they are waging a quiet little war for my attention. I will pick one of them before my crazy brain sweeps it all aside in favor of some other idea that's all shiny and new.

My question to you is, when this sort of thing happens, what criteria do you use to choose what to work on?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Prompted by the Skelleyverse: Levi Tooth, Poolside

So this is the result from a writing prompt generated by Rune Skelley's writing prompt generator which can be found here: http://www.skelleyverse.com/writing-prompt-generator/

I am obligated to triple-dog dare you into doing this. So, triple-dog-dare!

The Prompt

Character elderly werewolf

Setting country club

Object vacuum cleaner

Situation missed the last bus

Levi Tooth, Poolside
  by Reggie Lutz

Leviticus Tooth hunched over his rare steak. A table umbrella protected his head from the harsh sun. He loved the way the light made the water in the pool sparkle, but couldn’t tolerate its effects on his balding pate. He lifted a forkful of beef to his mouth and tried to savor the meat’s iron taste of blood. Most days a rare steak was enough to satisfy him, but as the night of the full moon approached steak tended to increase his hunger rather than sate it.

He sighed and put the fork to one side. What a cruel twist of fate that in my old age my body gets hairier while my head gets more bare, he thought. Though it was hot he wore a long-sleeved trench coat to hide tufts of fur that sometimes spilled out from beneath his sleeves. He was hot but he never perspired, like the wolf he turned into once a month he perspired through his tongue rather than his skin. No one in the pack he used to run with prepared him for getting old, the blurring of wolf and human traits that he experienced as he aged were disturbing to him. Then again, no one else in the pack had survived this long, either.

One of the country club bus boys started running a vacuum cleaner in one of the seating areas on the opposite side of the pool. The high-pitched whir of the motor irritated Levi’s ears. To drown it out he began to growl, except that he didn’t realize that he was growling.

A child to the left of him began to whimper. “Mommy, that scary man over there is growling!”

“It’s okay honey, why don’t we go inside for a moment.”


Mother and child hurried toward the back entrance of the building, sliding glass doors which lead to the restaurant and bar. Levi saw her speaking to the host and knew that he should leave voluntarily before they kicked him out. He’d been a member at this country club for years. It would not do to be banned from the facility. It was the only place that served steak the way he liked it most days.

He left through a side gate so as not to disturb the child and his mother further. He got to the corner and only then did he look at his watch. It was after 4:00pm. He had missed the last bus. Stifling a howl of panic, Levi lamented his forgetfulness. The moon would be full tonight and he needed to get away from populated areas. Levi ambled in the direction of the nearest park. The scent of fear emanated off of him in waves. The wolf in him was feeble, now. If humans didn’t put him down tonight, it was likely that other animals would.





Saturday, January 19, 2013

Categories Player Interview the Sixth: Maria Alice Ruth

Introducing Maria Alice Ruth

You know what "they" say, never trust a woman with three first names. Actually, "they" don't say that. No one says that. Probably because it is soooo not true. Maria Alice Ruth and I share a love of fanstastical, fabulous shoes that are likely to hurt your feet. She is a person whose presence in a room makes you feel immediately more comfortable and at peace. Perhaps this is because, like me, she is also a union suit enthusiast. (Which reminds me, I still have to get one - it is one of the wardrobe requirements for attending the Categories Party...)


Q. Knit or crochet?

A. I have dabbled in both, but am fairly useless at either one.

Q. Most frequent recurring dream?

A. I have crazy, vivid, incredibly detailed dream sagas, but they rarely reoccur. The other night I had a strange one where I was in a church, standing in front of the altar, looking up at the proscenium which was flanked by two enormous stone saints. The saint on the left was young and tonsured. He looked down when I looked up and there was this weird moment where I was the one looking down and he was the one looking up. There was another person behind me who was some kind of acolyte, I think, and I turned to him and said, "Who is that? St. Christopher? St. Francis? I'm afraid I'm not up on my saints."

Q. What was your favorite subject in grade school?

A. I was kick-ass in dictation. I could diagram the hell out of a sentence once upon a time. I also reigned supreme at the playground four-square game - you know, with that awesome red rubber bouncy ball.

Q. Spring or fall? Why?

A. Fall. There's something about the crisp, damp nights richly scented with decaying leaves that stirs me to go out on the prowl. I also adore the contrast of that deep periwinkle October sky against the gorgeous golden ochre foliage.

Q. What were you doing right before I started asking you a bunch of inane questions?

A. Indulging in my acquisitional obsession for sterling silver jewelry.

Q. Current profession?

A. I teach and support software for the faculty and staff of the College of Engineering at PSU. Translation: when your Word, PowerPoint, Excel or Access document (or your webpage or your Photoshop image) goes to hell, call me.

Q. Describe your favorite shoes for comfort and your favorite shoes for style.

A. I adore Dr. Scholl's Dance clogs, and have like 5 pairs. They're squishy and super comfortable, they slip on, and they have about a 2" platform. I can't really wear heels any longer since I screwed up my ankle in a bike accident, so my style choices are severely limited. If I could, I'd wear the craziest, tallest, most outrageous platform-spike lace-up thigh-high boots money can buy.

Q. Union suit, tiara or both?

A. Both, naturally! I'm definitely leaning toward getting a camouflage Union suit, though I'd much prefer snake print if I could find it. I'm thinking chicken feathers, rhinestones and fringe for the tiara... maybe throw in a couple of fake flowers or stuffed birds or something.

Q. Favorite Categories thing.

A. Yam salve. How could there be any other answer?

Q. Best/worst pick-up line you’ve ever heard?

A. I’ve got a hard drive a terabyte wide, and it’s all yours, Babe.
Would you like Gin and platonic, or would you prefer Scotch and sofa?
and this one -

Q. Tell us about your current creative project/s.

A. I've been quilting for a couple of years now. I'm really into the feel of the fabric, the colorplay, and the geometrical possibilities. I'm getting pretty good at piecing but I can't seem to get the hang of the quilting part, so I don't have much in the way of large finished items. At present, I'm on a tangent and making the most (intentionally) ridiculous little quilted chicken potholders. They're really fun and easy, and every one of them makes me laugh.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Categories Player Interviews the Third and Fourth and Fifth

...Holy Crap! The responses are rolling in quickly. Hooray!

I am posting these in the order that the questions are answered. Today, I have the distinct pleasure of introducing Israel O'Brien, Mark Boltz and Joy Downey.

Introducing Izzy

Izzy is a fabulous hair-dresser and has been my roommate during some of the craziest years I have thus far experienced. Like Cher and Madonna, he only needs one name. When I think of Israel I think of crazy laughter, the smartest randomness, good books, and scented candles. In the before-times, when mix-tapes were still a thing, his contributions to this audiophile's library were legendary - Tim Curry as the Darkness kind of legendary.

You should let him cut your hairs.

The Interview

Q. How do you use awesome sauce?

A. Shake well before using on fish, meat, poultry, tofu, and vegetables; baked, broiled, grilled, or stir-fried. Refrigerate after opening.

Q. Winter or Summer? Why?

A. Winter because I love snow and the cold weeds out the weak.

Q. Favorite clothing item?

A. Blue jeans.

Q. What were you doing right before I started asking you a bunch of inane questions?

A.  Settling in after a cold walk home from work.

Q. Have you accepted the Yam Salva as your personal guru?

A. I follow the Lords of Kobol and do not wish to change to Yamism at this time.

Q. Favorite Categories thing?

A. There are so many good ones, but I love the one word ones most of all.

Q. Favorite beverage of the moment?

A. Zevia all natural soda! I can't get enough of stuff!

Q. What is your current favorite escapist pleasure?

A. I'm rewatching Battlestar Galactica on netflix.

Q. Is she sleeping, now?

A. She's sleeping now.

Q. Favorite source of protein?

A. Chicken.

Q. Tell us about your current creative project/s

A. I've started using my left hand.

Bonus Questions that the Interviewee has asked himself...

Q. How long have you known Reggie?
A. About 23 years.
Q. How did you meet Reggie?

 A. I think we first started talking at a 1990 Crestwood High School football game. Our high school football team sucked so bad the school wouldn't pay for lights so the games were saturday afternoon. Out of a lame sports event blossomed a friendship that would change the everything for no one.

Introducing Mark Boltz: High Priest of Yam Salve

As he is the High Priest of Yam Salve I *could* say that Mark Boltz requires no introduction but then I don't get to say anything about his awesomeness. Mark Boltz is one of the most gentlemanly people I have met, and yet he was also present, and subject, of some of the most embarrassing photos taken of anyone ever which involved a safe sex party at my apartment. He is wicked smart and funny and has a huge...


The Interview

Q. Boxers or briefs?

A. Like Dennis, I have to say the preference is definitely the combination of boxer-briefs. I have many boxers though, and some bikini briefs as well. When you sent this I was wearing boxers.

Q. Current profession?

A. Now employed as a senior network security engineer for the U.S. Department of Justice.

Q. Favorite color?

A. Royal blue. Not robin's egg, not cyan, not blue, not indigo. Royal.

Q. First thought when confronted with waking up.

A. Oh dear god why?! Followed by: where's my coffee?! Followed by: dear god, the cat just farted in the bed again!

Q. What was your reaction when 12/21/2012 came and went and the world was still here?

A. Science, FTW!

Q. Favorite Categories thing.

A. Both yam salve and awesomesauce, and the creativity they engender.

Q. What were you doing right before I started asking you a bunch of inane questions?

A. Drinking coffee, perusing Facebook, and contemplating what I was going to do that day, while dressed in my scrubs-pajamas. Because scrubs are the yam salve of pajamas.

Q: Are you an animal person?

A. Absolutely. Have our cat Mystery. Will eventually add at least one more cat and two dogs. Mystery is FIV+. We adore him, and all animals. I'm also often considered the animal whisperer. To put it in D&D terms, my roll on skills checks for "handle animal" would be 1d20+50.

Q. Favorite food thing of the moment?

A. Bacon. And soft-boiled eggs, because I love to live dangerously. That's how I roll...

Q.  What are your thoughts on the subject of yam salve?

A. I need to write a yam salve Bible. Or cookbook. I think we are blessed that someone looked at a yam, and thought, "Hey, I could make a salve with that!"

Q. Tell us about your current creative project/s.

A. I have several projects. One is genealogy research, which has yielded some interesting finds. I have more than 1,900 people in my tree now, going back to the early 1600s. Also working on refurbishing a 1954 Siemens Schatulle H42 radio. Writing a short story on my most horrific airline experience ever on my 1939 Royal typewriter. Practicing piano. Thinking of new uses for yam salve.

Introducing Joy Downey: the Vile Temptress and High Priestess of Yam Salve

When I think of Joy I jump for her, but before that, I drink for her because we spent many nights at the Darkhorse drinking alcoholic beverages, jumping around, trading snarky remarks about pretty much everything and of course, eating wings. Half of the sauce always somehow landed in my hair while Joy always remained suspiciously pristine considering the delightful filth that flew from her mouth. She knows all about the dark times before Yam Salve and has employed her skilled hands and tongue in the efforts of bringing the masses to the light. (Okay, maybe not masses, more like clusters from one corner of cyber-space.)

The Interview

Q. Boxers or briefs?

A. I prefer my boxers brief and my briefs boxed.

Q. Current profession?

A.  Non-Foods and data management at McLanahan's Market.

Q. Favorite color?

A. Living Colour.

Q. First thought when confronted with waking up.

A. Potty!

Q. What was your reaction when 12/21/2012 came and went and the world was still here?

A. Well, crap. Guess I have to go to work.

Q. Favorite Categories thing.

A. Yam Salve is a given, but I just love when it just goes off the rails into roflcopters.

Q. What were you doing right before I started asking you a bunch of inane questions?

A. I was drinking tea and eating ginger snaps while watching "Sweet Genius."

Q. Are you an animal person?

A. I'm certainly not a vegetable person.

Q. Favorite food thing of the moment?

A. Anything I can taste. I have a cold.

Q. What are your thoughts on the subject of yam salve?

A. Yam Salvation is a glorious path. But beware the genetically manipulated yam, for it is the televangelist.

Q. Tell us about your current creative project/s.

A. I have just been baking and being domestic lately. I need some artcation time.





      Categories Player Interview The Second: Matt Gourley

      For the back story of how these interviews came into being, see the first interview.


      I met Matt Gourley through a mutual friend who knew that we both geeked out over similar, if not the same, stuff. I vaguely recall drunken Halloween fun, and more explicitly recall being abused by Bernd at Herwig's Austrian Bistro in State College, PA. (We liked it. That was a serious paddle. Serious like a transient ischemia. Damn.)

      Meet Matt. You will love him.

      The Interview

      Q. Toaster or toaster oven?

      A.  Toaster oven. Maybe not as good for toasting as a toaster, but is a nice multi-tasker. Yes, I watched too much Alton Brown back in the day.

      Q. What is your favorite item from a toolbox?

      A.  Hammer. Makes everything look like a nail, and since I have more than one, I can make them march like at the end of "The Wall".

      Q. Chaps or chapstick?

      A. Toughie. I hate putting stuff on my lips, and am neutral about chaps. So, chaps. I guess. By default.

      Q. Have you been properly indoctrinated by the High Priestess to the Yam Salve cult?

      A.  I have not! And I bought all these little clay pots and everything. Could you say something to her? She hasn't replied to my emails...

      Q. What were you doing right before I started asking you a bunch of inane questions?

      A.  Eating dinner, what I like to call the Benjamin Disraeli. Three Hebrew National franks between two slices of toast, covered with beans. Tasty, multi-cultural *and* kosher.

      Q. Hey baby, what’s your sign?

      A.  "Open for Business." No, wait. "Now Hiring." Hold it, I've got it: "Home of The Whopper."

      Q. Favorite Categories thing?

      A. Before tonight, that moment when I win the Yam Salve Award. Now it's winning the Aw That's Cute award for mentioning bunnies.

      Q. In a world without bacon, what would you do?

      A.  I will assume here that bacon is no more rather than never was. Ya ever see SpongeBob SquarePants? Ya know how, when he gets in a panic, he runs around holding a spatula and screaming at the top of his lungs? That'd be me.

      Q. Favorite thing about doing homework?

      A. The adrenaline rush I get just as I start to panic that it won't be done on time.

      Q. Indoor plumbing?

      A. No matter what you mean by it, it's always a favorite.

      Q. Tell us about your current creative project/s.

      A. I'm trying to keep up with Reggie on creating flash fiction. I've got about 6,000 words of a novella-length-at-best story about a detective in Pittsburgh in the 2060s. And I'm learning to play the guitar. Add to this working on a Masters degree in an attempt to get out of a lifetime sentence as an IT weenie, and it makes it difficult to cram in 8 hours of television a day.

      Categories Players Interview The First: Dennis Kalup

      Recently I posted a Category asking what folks might want to see in a Reggie blog. I got a lot of great ideas, for which I thank the Categories Players. My favorite response came from Dennis Kalup who suggested that I interview the Categories Players. His answer also had the distinction of receiving the most thumbs. So, how can I not? Also, I am convinced that the Categories Players are some of the funniest people on the interwebnets and I feel lucky that I get to interact with them. So with much love I bring you Categories Players Interviews the First!


      I know Dennis Kalup from the way back. College days. He was among the group of us that fostered our coffee addictions at the Daily Grind, a now defunct coffee shop. One of my favorite memories of Dennis involves lamenting the hollow inside of large chocolate Easter bunnies. Firstly, this hollow is a terrible waste of space, second, it is a cruel deception to chocolate loving children who think they have won the motherload of chocolate confections and thirdly the poor chocolate rabbit is disturbingly lacking for internal organs.

      Dennis and I attempted surgery on one these poor creatures, but it ended in vivisection as we are not, alas, surgeons. I laughed so hard that day that I think my abs still hurt.

      The Interview

      Q: Boxers or briefs?

      A: I actually enjoy boxer briefs, all the support of briefs with the "je ne sais quoi" of boxers. I do enjoy a boy cut though.

      Q: Current profession?

      A: Professional singer/dog guru.

      Q: Favorite color?

      A: Orange. Although I very much enjoy saying periwinkle, chartreuse, and puce.

      Q: First thought when confronted with waking up.


      Q: What was your reaction when 12/21/2012 came and went and the world was still here?

      A: Shit. I really will have to finish paying off my debts.

      Q: Favorite Categories thing?

      A: The reconnection with old friends and the making new and realizing that nerds will someday take over the world.

      Q: What were you doing right before I started asking you a bunch of inane questions?

      A: Dancing around the room to a catchy commercial tune.

      Q: Are you an animal person?

      A: See question 4. Yes... I often talk to animals before I talk to people because I am convinced someday they will speak to me and I will be whisked off to the hogwarts continuing ed. adult learning program.

      Q: Favorite food thing of the moment?

      A: Turkey/chorizo chili. Great winter comfort food.

      Q: What are your thoughts on the subject of yam salve?

      A: If it's good enough for Mark Boltz, it's good enough for me. No one wants a dry vulva.

      Q: Tell us about your current creative project/s.

      A: Just moved to Chicago so I am in the process of auditioning for a whole bunch of singing groups here, including the CSO chorus. I am also starting a blog soon... I shall keep you posted!
      Learning to knit... knit one, purl two. knit one, purl two...


      Saturday, January 12, 2013

      Flash Fiction Challenge The Second: Wendig's Wheel Strikes Again

      Okay, so I totally didn't think I had time or energy or creative juice left to enter this again so swiftly on the heals of the first Wendig challenge that I participated in, but I rolled and inspiration struck. Here's what I landed...

      Subgenre #4 Bad Girls In Prison

      Conflict #3 Someone’s been poisoned

      Feature #4 A bottle of rare whiskey

      I think I should get a bonus for getting this done at 410 words.

      Dear internets, I bring you...

      Get In There With The Other Bad Girls

      “You know what we do with bad girls, Penelope?” Brad said, wagging his fat, paternal finger in the first grader’s face.

      Penelope pouted. She didn’t want to go into the prison again.

      “I won’t go,” she said, stamping a foot.

      “Do you want me to make you?”

      Penelope stared up into Brad’s glowering face. His bushy left eyebrow looked like a startled tumbleweed amid the stress-hewn creases on his forehead. The right eyebrow’s conspicuous absence was baldly accusatory; Penelope had recently shaved it off while Brad slept.

      Brad was Penelope’s father, but one day she woke up and just felt like he needed a different name, something other than Dad, Daddy, Pop or Pa. It didn’t matter to her that his real first name was Walter. She wanted to call him Brad and Penelope always did what she wanted, unless she thought she might get caught, or yelled at, or put in prison with the other bad girls.

      The other bad girls stared blankly through the bars of their prison, which was actually a vintage aviary. Penelope’s dolls sat in various states of physical distress. Limbs missing, hair shorn, some of them carried the burden of improvised thumb screws pushed through their hands. Others had rectangular strips of cardboard taped to each ankle intended to represent hobbling, though she was uncertain if she had the idea right.

      Penelope’s eyes felt dry and she knew soon she would blink, which meant that she was going to lose the contest of wills with Dad/Brad/Walter.

      “Okay, fine. I’ll go. But I am telling you, I did not mean to poison the cat.”

      “Penelope! What did we say about lying?”

      Penelope sighed. She really didn’t mean to poison the cat. All she did was give it some people food, it wasn’t her fault the thing died, but there was no way that Brad was going to believe her, so her only option was to go along with his heifer-poop.

      “No lying,” Penelope said.

      “That’s right. Now get in there and I want you to think long and hard about what you did and why you shouldn’t do it again.”

      “Fine,” Penelope said.

      Brad scratched the bald eyebrow patch as he ushered her into the aviary then closed and locked the door behind her. She stared at him as he walked away.

      Everything was going be fine. The other bad girls were with her, and they were hiding a nice bottle of Midleton Irish whiskey.

      Friday, January 11, 2013

      Categories Explained and Blog ... um... Direction?

      Directionless Bloggery

      It is 9am on a day when I have work in the evening, a time of day during which I would be a)sleeping b) whining about life using ink in a spiral-bound notebook or c) working out. It seemed like a journaling kind of day since it's all Edgar Allen Poe outside. (Gray, snow covered and crow-laden.)

      This blog will not have a clear direction and purpose. There will be plenty about writing, creative projects, stuff that some of my wildly talented friends and acquaintances are doing, pop culture, and the gushy cheerleading of stuff I like. Maybe a purpose will reveal itself. When writing fiction I consider myself an exploratory writer more than a planner, so it stands to reason that I have to approach bloggery in the same way.

      In defense of my directionless blog I would like to say that directionless does not mean that it has no purpose. I offer self-expression to the vicissitudes of the interweb deities in the interests of engaging with the world.

      Dude. Seriously. I live in the middle of nowhere and I am not kidding about how crow-laden this place is. (sidenote: I heart birds)

      Okay, on to the next topic....

      Categories Explained

      My guess is that most you who have landed here have found this via facebook, and if that is the case you will have noticed a fabulous fun game we're calling Categories. Categories, in its current form is a word association game with awards arbitrarily, whimsically granted by yours truly. This in and of itself is not particularly mysterious. I got the idea from a movie called Hard Core Logo which features a more classic version for a minute or two of screen-time. (The same film also sort of inspired a current collaborative project titled, for now, F*ck Sh*t *p, but that's a whole different blog topic. Also, "Hi, Bob!") Later I found out that some other friends played their own version of this in childhood, which is supercool imho. All of that is digression.

      You guys know what categories is... I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "What in Plaid Brady Bunch Hell is yam salve?"

      Yam Salve is one of the great mysteries of life.
      The first person to mention Yam Salve in a way that relates to any given categories topic receives the Yam Salve Award, one of the highest honors a person can achieve in the world of Categories.

      It has become the object of a cult, a cult that believes deeply in the curative powers of Yam Salve. The Yam Salve speaks through the Yam Salva, aided by the High Priest and Priestess of the Yam Salve Cult. True understanding of the Yam Salve leads to the Yam Salvation.

      If there is any one thing that you need to know about Yam Salve is that you cannot mix Yam Salve with Awesomesauce because it could be world ending.

      Also, alternative uses for yam salve was one of the first categories, which is what spawned all of this.

      But there was a time before that, sometime between 1996 and 1998, a time when pagers were swiftly dying, cell-phone populations were on the increase and Mega fauna still roamed, a time in which Yam Salve was born.

      The birthplace of yam salve is New York City in the midst of a radio convention.  The magical phrase was first uttered by a good friend of mine who wishes to remain anonymous. He liked the way the words sounded together, and for some reason this was, to us, the funniest thing ever. So, we ignored the rock stars and sat in a corner drinking our alcoholic beverages and screaming about yam salve all night.

      I think I will leave it to the High Priestess and Priest of the Yam Salve Cult to make that story of origin sound more like mythology and less like a "Do you remember that one time you got drunk?" story.

      Also, this is proof that the words of the High Priest of Yam Salve are true. "Inside jokes with Reggie never die."

      Wednesday, January 9, 2013

      The Chuck Wendig Flash Fiction Challenge: Story: The Ready Room

      ...and here we go again. Me, starting a blog. I can think of no better way to start than by answering the flash fiction challenge issued by Chuck Wendig, here: http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2013/01/04/flash-fiction-challenge-spin-the-wheel/

      Warning, kids, herein lie hookers, BDSM references and violence. Without further ado, here is the twisted fiction resulting from Chuck's Challenge.

      The Ready Room
      by Reggie Lutz

      Arnold’s body quivered like a wire coil as he waited for the two for one special to arrive. Every Tuesday Arnold made his way to the Ready Room at Betty’s Brothel. He’d been doing this off and on for ten years, attendance depended on what he referred to as his real-world relationship status. If he was dating, which wasn’t often, he avoided it.

      Left leg shaking with the pent-up tension of an undersexed teenage boy, Arnold tried not to get over-excited. Leather and straps and spiky boots and strident instructions and no obligation other than parting with the contents of his wallet made the Ready Room ideal.

      “These are the things that make my world go round,” he thought. Even the act of pulling bills out of the fold made his spine tingle with pleasure.

      The Ready Room shook, disrupting the rhythm of Arnold’s shaking leg as he was tossed from the leather couch to the slate floor. He landed on his stomach.

      Two pairs of black leather stiletto shoes clattered into view. “Such lovely feet,” a dazed Arnold whispered into the floor. Soft hands reached down and clutched his arms. Lacquered fingernails sharpened to points dug into his soft biceps. Arnold moaned with pleasure as the ladies rolled him over onto his back.

      Two faces painted so perfectly he wouldn’t recognize them in a crowd stared down at him. These women were beautiful and utterly forgettable.

      “Jesus. We thought you were hurt,” said the one closest to him.

      Arnold blinked up at the woman. “Why would I be hurt?”

      “Didn’t you feel that?”

      “I thought I was just, um, overexcited.”

      The other woman smirked, “Isn’t that cute. He’s blushing.”

      “Shut up, Cake. No one who comes in here is capable of blushing.”

      Cake pointed at Arnold. “Seriously, Pie. Look at him. He’s all red.”

      Arnold used the belt of his terrycloth robe to wipe his forehead. “I thought there was a rule about not using names.”

      Pie inhaled deeply and pointed her eyes at the ceiling fan.

      Cake softly said, “I don’t think that rule matters, now. The world is ending.”

      Arnold laughed. “Oh, that’s brilliant, but I’m not really into role play outside of the whole mistress and servant milieu.”

      Pie took her eyes off of the ceiling long enough to slap Arnold across the face. It stung but he wasn‘t sure he liked it. “This isn’t a game.”

      “Okay,” said Arnold as he explored one side of his face with his fingers. “If the world just ended then why are we still here?”

      Pie and Cake exchanged glances.

      “We aren’t from here,” Pie said.

      “What. Nevada?” Arnold asked.

      Cake sighed, “No. We’re not from the planet.”

      “That doesn’t make any sense. Wouldn’t there have been something about contact on the news?” Arnold asked.

      “There was, you stupid human. Your race just didn’t recognize it as contact,” Pie answered.

      Cake added. “The only reason you are still here is because you happened to be with us. Everyone else is dead.”

      “That’s not possible. How could it happen so fast? How could I not know?”

      Pie kissed Arnold on the cheek. “Poor human. Cake, should we take care of this before we go?”

      “What do you mean by take care of this?” Arnold asked.

      Cake ignored him. “Well, we can’t leave him here in the nuclear blizzard. It’s far too cruel. We could stop his heart from the inside out, but it will take too long. We need another method. Minimal pain.”

      “Well, make it quick,” Pie said. “We don’t have that much time to get back to the surface of our home comet.”

      Arnold stood up and walked over to the window. He reached out to grab the edge of a velvet curtains. “There’s no nuclear blizzard.”

      “Don’t do that!” Cake shouted a beat too late.

      Arnold lifted the curtain just enough to peak outside for a second before he staggered backwards to the couch. The glimpse of world outside was filled with swirling ash and gray burning.

      “Pie, you better start disassembling, I’ll handle this.”

      Arnold looked at Pie. One corner of her mouth began to droop like melting taffy. It sagged below her jaw line and Arnold felt his stomach beginning to rebel. “Oh my god. You weren’t lying.”

      Cake knelt down in front of Arnold. “We tried to warn you, human. We are very sorry.”

      Arnold could not look away from Pie. Flesh that at first had appeared to be melting then began to dry out and crumble until Pie appeared a pixilated version of her former self. Her disintegration ended in a cloud of glitter that dispersed as if Pie had never existed.

      Tears trickled down Arnold’s cheeks. “What happened to her?”

      Cake caressed his face. “You mean them. We’re beings created by multiple engines, artificial life-forms, or in your world, perhaps you would call us nanobots. We are emissaries, sent to warn you. We have failed, so we are leaving.”

      Arnold’s vision blurred as tears overwhelmed him. “I don’t understand.”

      “Sh,” Cake said, holding Arnold’s head to her ample bosom. “There’s no need for understanding. Not anymore.”

      As Arnold sobbed into Cake’s cleavage, she unzipped a hidden pocket on the right side of her corset and extracted a straight razor. Swiftly, she grabbed a hold of Arnold’s chin, opened the razor and drew it across his throat. Arnold’s blood gushed, splattering Cake as the razor clattered to the floor and she began to disassemble.