KingMidget's Ramblings

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Blogging, the Steelers, and Pizza

One of the great things about blogging on the WordPress platform is the community.  It’s kind of like Spotify — the ability to find music you never heard of that becomes today’s song you can’t live without.  Same with WordPress — finding bloggers who you connect to in different ways and you wish you could find a way to sit down with them for an afternoon and talk about life.  A couple of months ago I discovered Old Road Apples.

I’ll skip ahead to what really matters.  He’s a Pittsburgh Steelers fan.  And he makes his own pizza.  This is the beauty of WordPress.  Finding somebody I’ll never meet who shares two things that matter to me.

Yes.  I’m a Pittsburgh Steelers fan.  I’ve lived in Northern California since I was one.  I’m supposed to be a 49ers fan.  Or the Raiders.  Sigh.  No.  I’m not.  I grew up in the 70s when the 49ers were horrible and the Raiders were all that was evil.  I didn’t grow up in a family where you could be a fan of the bad guy.

So, I looked around.  There was one team that stood above the rest back then.  The Steelers won four Super Bowls during the decade of the 70s.  And a fan was born.

I have a love-hate relationship with the NFL.  If the league and game were to disappear tomorrow I wouldn’t really care.  There are so many things wrong with it.  But, as long as the sport exists, I’m going to follow it.  Kind of like I follow most sports.  The idea of athletics and competition will always be compelling to me.  I mean, hell, last weekend, I actually watched NASCAR for an hour or so to see who made it into the next stage of the “Chase for the Cup.”  Left turn, left turn, left turn, left turn.  Over and over.  We have a winner.  And if you don’t know what the Chase for the Cup is — don’t ask.  You’re better off that way.

I have followed the Steelers ever since I was a wee tadpole of a lad.  It’s been relatively easy even though I live on the other side of the country.  They have consistently been a competitive team.  While all other teams have risen and fallen, risen and fallen, the Steelers have generally been a team in the hunt year after year.  So, they are my team.  As they will be to the extent I follow the NFL and care.

The host of Old Road Apples has a deeper connection since he lives in Pennsylvania and learned how to be a Steelers fan at the knee of his grandma.  Which is such a cool, cool thing.

But …

He also makes his own pizza.  Even has his own recipe, which is slightly different than most I’ve ever heard of.  And for tomorrow, he has thrown the challenge down.  With the Steelers playing a late afternoon game, he’s planning on making pizza and is challenging his readers to do the same.

I’d love to do this, but there’s a slight problem.  Tomorrow is the family dinner for a birthday.  Yes.  Mine.  So, I can’t make pizza tomorrow.

But, I can make it tonight.  While the San Francisco Giants — a local team I have loved more than any sports team for the past 45 years — fight it out in their third World Series in five years, I did this thing…

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Here’s the Queen Midget’s.  This is her standard.  Olive oil and garlic.  A mozzarella-provolone cheese mix.  Mushrooms.  Olives.  Tomatoes.  Prosciutto and pepperoni.  At the grocery store today I saw some linguica so I bought it and added it to the pizza pie.  A dusting of parmesan.  A little dried oregano.  And here it is…

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And then there was the senior most Prince Midget…

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His is basically the same as his mother’s.  Except there aren’t any tomatoes or mushrooms.

Those two pizzas out of the way, time to turn to my own.  Given the challenge laid down by Mr. Old Road Apples I had to kick it up a notch.  It began with this…

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There was a time when I made a lot of pizza and I regularly had roasted garlic in the fridge.  It really is an incredible thing to have on pizza.  It’s been awhile though since I did the roasted garlic thing.  So, after we got back from the junior most Prince Midget’s soccer game …

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That’s him.  The kid in the yellow shirt.  Playing goalie.  I’ll never figure out how I raised two sons who want to play a position like goalie.  So much pressure, so much attention — exactly the kind of position I would have fled when I was a kid.  Maybe the fact that I raised two sons who embraced such challenges is a good thing.

… I put a head of garlic in the toaster oven to get me some roasted garlic for my pizza.  Those little nuggets of goodness hidden in each piece of pizza are truly remarkable.

Keeping with the “kicking it up a notch” challenge, I went on.  It being October in Northern California, there are still jalapenos in the garden.  I went and picked a few.  My pizza ended up with … the roasted garlic, the provolone and mozzarella mix, prosciutto and linguica, fresh jalapeno, parmesan and a little dried oregano.  Let me just say that if you like spicy, if you haven’t had fresh jalapeno on a pizza, you don’t know what you’re missing.  There’s something about jalapeno getting fired in a 550 degree oven that … yes, kicks it up a notch.  Here it is before it went in the oven…

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I’ve started doing this thing with the pizzas I make for myself.  I turn the edge of the crust up and over the toppings.  It creates this really nice edge to the crust.  It almost … almost … turns it into a pizza pie and creates some pockets of fillings in the crust.  It ends up looking like this…

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Wait.  What’s that?  In the middle?  Yes, it’s an egg.

And there you have it, Mr. Old Road Apples.  Pizza.  It’s a beautiful thing.  I try very hard not to be arrogant or obnoxious or too proud of my own work.  That said … my pizza is the best.  I don’t make it as frequently as I was a few years ago.  Which makes it all the better.  It’s the perfect food and I have mastered it.  Allow me that little bit of arrogance.  🙂

 

I’m A Writer

And I’m Sorry.

I began thinking about this in the context of my family dynamics.  It goes something like this.  I spend a lot of time in my head for a lot of different reasons.  Ever since I started writing, the story part of my head has dominated.  There’s a lot of chatter out there about how most writers are introverts.  I won’t necessarily disagree with that, but I think there’s more to it than just being an introvert.  It’s about living in our heads, in our stories.

There are far too many times when I’d rather be there in my head, pondering the mysteries of the story I’m working on.  Or sitting at my laptop and pounding away, trying to release those mysteries into words that form sentences and paragraphs that unravel into a story somebody might want to read.  More often than not, I’d rather do that than engage in family activities, visit friends, do the things that make for a social life.

It may be that things could be different if I had more time.  But I have that day job, the one that pays the bills, and sucks so much time out of every week.  With that interference, I have so little time to write my frustration at interruptions grows.

It may also be that there are far too many stories in my head now.  It used to be that I really only had one at a time.  Or maybe one novel and one short story at a time.  Now, however, there are the three novels in progress and, gawd, I don’t know how many short stories in progress.  They’re all up there, clammering for my attention, demanding that I spend time with them.  And, there’s this little itty bitty sliver of time I have each day to devote to writing.

As a result … well, I’m sorry.  To my family.  I’m a writer.  And I’m sorry.

Then I realized it applies here as well, it’s why I posted the Gone Fishin’ and Out of Office graphics over the last couple of weeks, and also why I’ve been relatively absent from my WordPress community lately.

Regular readers will know that I struggle with the balance between many things in my life.  One of those is the balance between blogging and writing.  Writing meaning working on my fiction.  Over the 2+ years that I have engaged in serious blogging, I have been extremely derelict in my writing efforts.  It’s far easier to come here, write something about what’s on my mind and then read your blogs, than to squeeze those mysteries into words.  And I’ve been taking the easy way out for far too long.

Something happened a couple of months ago.  I got re-energized with my writing and began to set reachable goals on stories that I felt I could write and finish, while looking forward to the novels in progress that await a deeper commitment of my time and energy and emotion.

At the same time, I became somewhat overwhelmed by what has become my blogging community.  Too many blogs to follow, too many posts every day.  Just too much.  And so I’m dialing back my daily interaction here on WordPress.  It’s not just here, by the way.  It’s in all the social media realms I hang out in.  Whether it’s playing Words with Friends, lurking on Facebook, posting photos to Instagram, or twittering (yeah, I know, it’s tweeting, but twittering sounds so much better).  I’d like to delete all of the apps on my smart phone and go back to the days when a cell phone was simply for making calls when needed.

What all of this is really about is what I said at the outset.  I’m a writer.  And I’m sorry.  I need to dedicate myself to that for awhile.  I’ll still check in here every now and then with updates and rambles, but nowhere near the frequency of the past two years, and I’ll definitely keep an eye on the WordPress Reader to see what you all are up to, but much if it may be very behind the scenes.

I posted a Gone Fishing graphic awhile back.  It really should be this.

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The Fundamental Reality

And it may be obvious.

We come here because we’re missing something over there.  I’ll speak personally rather than assume I know the reasons for everybody else.  I have a great group of friends that come from different aspects of my life.  That’s not quite true, actually.  We have all become good friends by getting to know each other through work.

There’s the Eclectic One.  A woman six weeks younger than me who I met more than 25 years ago, while I was working at the law school I would end up attending.  Through thick and thin and everything in between, we have been best friends for so long, it’s hard to imagine life without her.  Although we talk sporadically and see each other even less, we’re always able to talk about anything and everything.  We share a love of books, we’re politically liberal, we have both loved and lost in the years we’ve known each other, and helped each other through all those battles life brings.

There’s Guest Blogger.  I met him only a few years ago and he quickly became somebody I could trust to share my deepest, darkest secrets as I do for him as well.  We share a desire to escape the world.  An idealism of what humanity could be.  A passion for pizza and beer and trying, trying so hard, to do things the right way.  We suffer mightily at our failings and those of our kind.  We share good times and bad.  I couldn’t have imagined the last few years without GB.

There’s Pocahontas.  A woman I worked with for only a year or two, but she, too, became my best friend.  For almost ten years now we’ve carried on a conversation about our lives, our fears, our desires.  Everything you can possibly imagine.  She knows what I think before I’ve even thought it.  We’re the type of friends who could finish each other’s sentences if we wanted to.

There are others (and if you feel slighted for not being included in my list, don’t, you know you’re on the list).  I call them my circle.  For the most part, they have no idea who the other members of my circle are.  I’ve never had a meeting with all members of my circle.  That would be amazing, though — I think they’d refer to it as an intervention.  🙂  But they know this — they are a part of my circle.  Playing a critical role in my daily existence.  As they step in and step out, they provide me with an opportunity to fill a void that is left mostly unfulfilled by my immediate family.

And let me pause here for a moment.  “Immediate family” is something that different people define in different ways.  Once I got married and had kids, my family became that group.  My wife and our two kids.  They became the center around which my world rotated.  Yet, there has been something utterly lacking in that center.

I get it from my circle.  And I get it here.  So many of the things I talk about here, if I raised with my immediate family, I would get blank stares and a change of subjects.  Deep, meaningful conversations are a thing they shy away from.  Talk about feelings?  Share deepest fears and biggest dreams?  No.  No.  No.  We talk about the “business” of life.  Never about the emotions of our existence.  Unless I bring it up and then it’s like dragging a stubborn cow out of the barn trying to get them to open up.

I call it intimacy.  Not physical intimacy, but emotional, intellectual, social, spiritual, metaphysical, psychological intimacy.  It’s all wrapped up into these words that I share with my circle and that I put into this blog.  And in the 2+ years I’ve been running this blog, my circle has grown.

In this odd way, the sharing of thoughts and feelings through this blog and reading posts by other bloggers who are willing to share a piece of themselves — and then come back for more.  It’s all about filling a part of that void.  We’ve never met, yet you read my thoughts, share yours, and we continue down the path of our lives.  Scattered around the world, but on our blogs, together we search for answers and solutions.  A fellow blogger claimed recently that he reads my blog and learns from it.  He even used the word “teacher” to describe me.  Pshaw.  I’m not a teacher.  We are all students in the classroom of life and we are here to help each other.

I asked a question a post or two ago about whether your family reads your blog.  The answers I got speak for themselves.  I have this feeling I’m not alone in struggling with the need to talk intimately and feeling like there isn’t some one on the other end.  Except for my circle.  Except for you.

A Social Family

While I was at the Mendocino Coast Writers’ Conference, participating in the Short Fiction Master Class, one of the other participants brought up the concept of a social family.  It was in the context of a story one of us had written and he was commenting on the group of individuals who made up the core of the story — none of them related, but providing to each other the love and comfort of a family.  Hence, a social family.  A couple of months before the workshop, I wrote a short story inspired by a prompt at We Drink Because We’re Poets.  Northville Five & Dime.  It was, at the time, nothing more than an effort to write a story that wasn’t the expected.  The prompt could lead very easily into a sexual romp.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I didn’t want the obvious.  So, I wrote about something different.  And I thought I was done.

Then I heard about MCWC and needed something to submit to be judged for the Master Class.  I submitted Northville and got in, which meant a dozen other people would be reading it and discussing it.

Then I started thinking about the story and realized there was much more to tell.  Actually, I knew that when I wrote the final line.  That wasn’t really the end.  There was story in Pete asking the girl to the dance.  There was story in the dance itself.  There was story in Pete’s parents.  There was story and more story.  One thing though was that I thought the young lady who worked at the Five & Dime would be making a graceful exit from the story and it would become about other characters.

Then the workshop participants, including Peter Orner, got ahold of it.  Peter was fascinated by that young lady.  He threw out the idea that there was the potential for a social family here.  The sisters and Pete — three wounded, scarred, troubled individuals who come together for the love and support they weren’t getting elsewhere.  He, along with others, was aghast at the idea that the Five & Dime employee would be disappearing.

So, she isn’t.  And I had an idea for how to continue with the story.  That first version was around 1,500 words.  I’m now approaching 6,000 words and I haven’t even got to the girl in the wheelchair.  Pete and Lily (the young lady has a name now) have a lot of damage to reveal.  I’m pretty sure this story will end up being 15,000-20,000 words and will be the first such story I publish on Kindle as a stand-alone short story/novella.

Which leads to another point that occurred to me when I woke up this morning at the ungodly time of 5:45 and started thinking of some of the posts from other bloggers I read last night.

I have a social family here on WordPress.  These are the people I’m attracted to here.  The ones who write about their wounds and scars, their struggles for balance, their revelations and reactions as they journey through life.  There is something we find in sharing those things here with, for the most part, people who are actually complete strangers, but who have become a part of our personal circle.  The support and camaraderie, the sharing of our life details and life adventures, even if we never meet is a huge part of the social contract.  So, that’s it.  Welcome to the table, social family.  Keep the dialogue going.

One question I’ve wanted to ask for a long time, but I think it finally fits here.  For my blogging friends — if you have spouses or significant others, do they read your blog?  What about children or parents?  I’d be curious to know.  Mine don’t.  Except for my father and a sister.

 

Sharing Time (Adult material ahead)

Because you needed to know this, I’m sharing with you, my loyal readers, the most important thing I learned today.  No, it’s not that I can still beat my 18-year-old son at ping pong.  It’s not that, when I put my mind to it and I have some concrete ideas to write, I can produce over 1,400 words in a single day.  It’s not that people from Gabon, France, Romania, and Italy, among others, visited my blog today.  No, it’s not even that I need to open my heart.  It’s this simple and undeniable fact:  somebody found my blog today using the search term “mommy suck king midget.”

Which leads to the logical question?  What prompted somebody to type that phrase into the ol’ search engine?  And, now that I’ve typed it into Google myself, how does it come up with me as the #1 search result?  Right ahead of the following:

1.  Fat Girls (Chubby Porn)

2.  Barstool sports

3.  Ashley Skyy’s F*king Blog

4.  Giant Dick Midget Girl

5.  Free Midget Porn Videos

6.  Reality Porn Videos

7.  Midget Porn

8.  Mom Porn

9.  More Mom Porn

 

That’s the first page of search results.  I’m afraid to click over to page two.  I’m thinking I’m hanging out in the wrong neighborhood.  Gonna have to spruce the place up a bit.  Maybe change the address or something.

Just thought I’d share.  I know you needed to know this.  My only hope is the searcher who typed that in was satisfied with what he or she found hereabouts and didn’t need to keep searching.

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