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Viewing Blog: SubTropical Brainfreeze, Most Recent at Top
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Eric Hammond, his mosquito-infested mind, and other warm, humid things.
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1. More illustrations...

I've posted more images from the picture book I'm illustrating. Please drop by the FB Fan Page below.

Thanks.


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2. Negligent, but Busy

I have been negligent of this blog, but have been busy creating illustrations for a soon to be published picture book authored by Todd-Michael St. Pierre and published by Piggy Press.
To find some illustrations from the book see my Facebook fan page:

Facebook.com/pages/Eric-Hammond-Art

Thanks.

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3. What Those Party Hats Are Doing Up There

What Those Party Hats Are Doing Up There


I am wearing a hat my son made for me. He says it is a party hat. It is made from Tinker Toys, and is far more comfortable that you would think a hat made of painted wooden sticks would be.
"What does a party hat do?" I ask.
"It makes food whenever you're hungry!" he declares.
"I can see how that would be popular at parties," I say.
"Yes... and they make other party hats."
"Haberdasheristic procreation?" I wonder aloud.
"Yep, that's right," he says.

Looking at the thing on my head, I find the whole food production aspect of the story quite unlikely.

Procreation, however....


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4. My New ArtBlog

My New ArtBlog

My valued readers, few and treasured, may not know that I am an aspiring illustrator as well as an aspiring writer [I would like to quit aspiring so much].
Anyhow, I have begun a new ArtBlog. the address is:


EricHammondArt.blogspot.com

It will contain odd illustrations, doodles, concepts I am trying to pitch. I would be flattered if you would drop by.

Thanks,
Eric

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5. The Perplexing Absence of Logic

The Perplexing Absence of Logic


"Get that out of your mouth!" my wife ordered, "You don't put that in your mouth." She was in the other room, so I couldn't tell exactly what was happening, but since my son had been putting things in his mouth lately, I knew what the problem was. He seldom put anything in his mouth when he was a baby; why he's started at five I don't understand.

"But it's supposed..." he began his defense.

"No," the judge overruled, "That's Chinese plastic. It's not safe. Don't put anything in your mouth." I wonder how much Chinese plastic I chewed on, drank from, ate with when I was a kid. How are any of us still alive?

He sputtered a couple more times but was shut down quickly. It was well past his bedtime and I could tell by his lack of articulation that he was falling apart and needed a recess, but instead, he shot into my office... appealing to a higher court. He stood in the doorway, bleary-eyed and wobbly, a Halloween novelty straw in his hand. A black straw passed through a grinning orange jack-o-lantern; he was impaled... I don't know what he was grinning about.

"Papa," my son opened.

"Yeah, Bud?"

He gestured at the straw. "It's... a straw!" he undulated.

"Yes," I answered, "You are correct."

"It's... made of Chinese plastic."

"Apparently."

I could tell he was maneuvering for the kill. "Why would anyone... make a STRAW... out of Chinese plastic?" He vibrated with bewildered fury. I couldn't help him.

"Your logic is sound, Bud," I quietly assured him,"But I don't know the answer."

He glared, slack-jawed, at the poisonous drinking straw, then back at me. With his free hand he gestured feebly, as if hoping, with the last of his strength, he could catch a gossamer fleck of rationale drifting in the air.

I admired his ability to think with the sleep-deprived soup that was his brain at that moment, but I found no way to solve his dilemma. "I'm sorry, Bud," I lamented, "but, please, don't put it in your mouth, okay?"

Defeated, he slowly careened from the room.

 


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6. wm_eric_hammond @ 2009-10-15T20:29:00

Super Secret Shoe Food

Supper was ready and salad was on the table. I chopped up my son's lettuce. "Would you like some salad dressing?" I asked him.

"I'm going to have some of my Super Secret Salad Dressing," he answered. He propped a foot up on his chair cushion and made an R2D2 chirp as he pushed an unseen button on the side of his little hiking boot. "There is a refrigerator hidden in my shoe."

He used to pull his Super Secret Salad Dressings out of his shorts. This new shoe fridge was a huge improvement.

"Well, that's mighty handy," I complemented him, "You could get a pair of those big Elton John platforms; no telling what you could stash in those." He stared at me blankly as he shook the imaginary bottle, then lowered the fridge foot and lifted the other. He fumbled about with the air and pushed another noisy button on that shoe.

"What are you doing now?" I inquired.

"The instructions say to microwave it for fifteen seconds."



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7. wm_eric_hammond @ 2009-09-06T18:10:00

Hair Today...

My son cut his own hair last night. His strawberry blond bangs were almost getting in his eyes so he thought he needed a trim. With his little orange-handled safety scissors he snipped a long clump out of the front. I found him sweeping hair off the floor. Saying "No! No! No! No!" repeatedly does not restore severed hair follicles, by the way.

He has been denied scissor privileges for the foreseeable future.

I am his barber, mostly because I am too cheep to pay someone $10 to do what I can do in 5 minutes. I frantically combed the remaining bangs over the mangled area, hoping to hide it, camouflage it, make him look less like a melon-headed mutant living in a hidden room in the attic, eating bugs, plotting revenge. I combed, was marginally satisfied, then the coiffure of silken strands slowly slipped and... bug-eater!

Ah, the joys of being a parent.

 


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8. The Rarity of Plummering Wulshes

"Let's plant a flower garden."

It's so easy to say, but when's the last time you dug up two hundred square feet of Saint Augustine sod?

On my day off I stomped a shovel through perfectly good grass to make two flower beds in our yard for my wife and son. My 4-year-old son "helped" me, thus making the job take roughly twice as long as it would have. With a small garden spade he would relocate dirt from one place to another [my sock and shoe were often his targets] and he would weed out bits of grass and roots form the dirt bed. He enjoyed himself far more that I, stating that this was the best job ever... that he wanted to do it when he was all grown up.


As he returned from dumping some lawn scraps, he enthusiastically declared, "I am in a plummering wulsh!"

"A plummering wulsh?" I asked. "Are you sure?"

"Yep, I am in a plummering wulsh!"

I am used to my son's invented words and phrases - they were usually manglings of preexisting terms - but this one I couldn't figure out.

"OK, I'm game, bud," I said, "What is a 'plummering wulsh'?"

"A plummering wulsh," he described, arms spread for dramatic effect, "Is the kind of mood where you can do anything!"

 

I must admit, I don't experience a plummering wulsh often. Maybe it's my middle-aged mindset, or that deeply ingrained defeatist attitude that often drags me down, but plummering wulshes are a rarity.

I want one, and wish plummering wulshes were more infectious than they are.


"Maybe you can give some of that to me," I suggested.

"You can use mine!" he insisted as he filled my shoe with dirt.

 


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9. The Map of Swirling Elsewheres

"I drawed you a map," my four-year-old son declared.

 

"You could say, 'I drew you a map,' " I corrected. I was trying to get some work done on the computer and was less than enthusiastic for his company.

 

 

"I DREW you a map," he said, leaning on the arm of my chair, rocking it uncomfortably to one side.

 

"Good," I answered. I pecked away at the keyboard desperately, but the thought path I was on only seconds ago was becoming blurry... a little boy stirring up a cloud of dirt and colorful leaves over its cold surface.

 

"I drew you a nice map," he sang, "I want you to see it."

 

 

"I'm busy, bud."

 

 

"I just want you to see my map I drew for you," he pressed his case, "It's a very nice map... A very, very, very, very...."

 

"Where does your map lead me to?" I asked, hoping to disrupt the unending line of verys.

 

"It leads to a fun place you haven't been in a long long time," he insisted.

 

 

I stared into his blue eyes and knew I needed to follow his map, if only for a short trip. I saved the file, and in crayon swirls he led me away.

 

 



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10. On Tolkien and the Funny Papers

I've created a comic strip and have sent it off to the syndicates for approval. With several weeks written and drawn, I'm starting to slip into the mindset that this small town I've invented and the people within are real, at least on some level... are entitled to be viewed thus. They mean something to me, these folks - they have different personalities and react to life's complexities in different ways.

I like Tolkien's perspective on creative artists: with regard to writers of imaginative fiction specifically, he called them "subcreators". By this he meant that they borrow from THE Creator the physics and mechanics needed to invent another world that does not and never with exist... made purely from borrowed concepts and a God-breathed imagination. And it becomes real in the minds of others. The reader [the one willing to suspend disbelief, anyway] piggybacks a ride into the writer's imagined world.

My little comic strip is hardly on a level with such works of wonder, and is not the stuff of wide-eyed piggybacking... it's just for laughs... but I have a deeper appreciation for JRR Tolkien's concept all the time.

And I have a few piggyback-worthy tales in me, as well... some day.

 


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11. Superman in Name Only

Sunday afternoon I saw Superman in Leesburg, Florida, shuffling up 12th Street toward downtown. He looked a bit jaundice in complexion, the hairline was receded and frazzled, and a prominent beer gut hung over his belt. He plodded along, flatfooted and completely unflightworthy. His appearance was shocking.


I don't think I would have recognized him at all if he hadn't had the big "S" on his shirt!


It's traumatic when your heroes prove to be disappointments.


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12. wm_eric_hammond @ 2008-05-05T00:32:00

I won 2nd place in the quarterly short story writing contest at Electric Dragon Cafe'. That's a sci-fi/ mystery/ speculative fiction writer's site I read sometimes.
Here's the address --- http://www.electricdragoncafe.com/submit/winners.php? --- mine is the 2nd place spot. Electric Dragon Cafe' throws limitations or obstacles at the writers each quarter - this time the story had to end with a particular sentence.  I enjoy writing contests as long as they don't cost me anything to enter. They give me interesting challenges that often produce outcomes I otherwise wouldn't have considered. Check out the site - some good writing there.

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13. wm_eric_hammond @ 2008-04-07T13:27:00

A writer friend of mine just got a rejection letter from someone to whom he never sent anything. I've never had that happen.

Now, is it really a rejection when he didn't approach her in the first place? If not, what is it?
Maybe it's a psychically-generated preemptive strike --- she knew he was going to send her a submission and sent him the rejection to save him time and postage.
Now that's downright considerate, I think. He should drop her a thank you note:

Dear Ms. Figgleshwitz,

Thank you for the psychically-generated rejection letter. Since I sent you nothing to reject, I have to assume you did so based on some psychic impulse and with my best wishes at heart, and, in so doing, saved me postage. Thank you. If you would like to reject my next spy novel before I write it, please do so in reply to this email.

Thanks again, & and it was a pleasure not doing business with you,
Tom

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14. I'm Published!


I now have my 1st publishing credit as an author! It's a little article in an African magazine called Promota Africa. The whole magazine can be downloaded in PDF form off the internet at promota.co.uk  [I think that's right]. It's published in Uganda, and is mostly on African politics, current events, etc. --- not the kind of thing I can easily grasp; different world and all... I have trouble enough grasping the little world I'm in . I met the assistant editor, Donette Krueger [wonderful woman], on the internet several months ago, and we bounced emails back and forth. One day a couple of months ago her editor told her to fill a page, quickly. She threw it at me: "Write me something, quick!". I told her I knew less than nothing about Africa. She suggested I do an article on Obama. Yep, Barak and I are buds, fer sure - we hang out together at Sonny's Bar-B-Q on all-you-can-eat chicken night. I said no, but she pushed, so on my lunch break I spent 25 minutes or so and wrote this, and she loved it. I also can claim a photography credit, too, since I shot the photo of my son Dylan and a neighborhood playmate named Jailyn [spelling?] to accompany the article.

I think it's a good example of taking a subject you know nothing about and turning it into a publishing credit. I'm thinking of trying the same trick in a mag on quantum physics or animal husbandry or something.

Enjoy,
Eric

Here's the original article, before they changed the title and altered the ending slightly:

The Lost Scream of Chilling Abandon


I grew up on Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan books – an Africa of savagery and adventure, vine-covered lost cities of gold, warring tribesman wrapped in leopard skins and an African hero who was white.

I grew up in a 1970's American South – a world of striped T-shirts and Bugs Bunny cartoons, where the "N-word" was a tasteless vulgarity and white children played with descendants of slaves, a few of them discovering later that they shouldn't.

I know so little about Africa, but my African reader knows as much about my home, I suspect. Like strangers from different worlds, we stare and discern and make assumptions, and those assumptions become realities in our minds.

But beside me stands my son, a three-year-old with strawberry blond hair, creamy skin, and blue eyes that see wonders... wonders lost to my sight, old as I am. Beside the otherworldly stranger stands a child of almost opposite physical traits, yet in the eyes wonders are seen; swirling, dazzling and colorful. The children meet and make introductions in ways imperceivable to the adult perspective, and they play, oblivious to borders or boundaries of physics or humanity. They climb and soar and conquer. They scream with chilling abandon, not from the throat but from some huge echoing chamber in the soul. They return sweaty and wild-eyed, bearing sparkling treasures and jabbering fantastic tales.

We have found a commonality, this stranger and I. We have children we adore and will protect... children who will rush someday into a wide and frightening world, seeking mountains to ascend and trophies to lift high in victory.

What can we make of this union of parenthood, my otherworldly stranger and I?

We can hardly counsel our children on retaining the vision of wonder when we have lost most of it ourselves. Our maturity declares that the world produces more tedium than treasure, so advice of the grail-hunting ilk would feel artificial, like planting plastic seeds and expecting fruit trees to grow.

A change of perspective is warranted. We can, perhaps, learn from our children as they are learning from us. As we watch them, we witness the ways of wonder-seeking, but joining in the pursuit may revitalize the dormant adventurer in us, as well as bringing us closer to our children. We might see the jewels in the pebbles again, and may view adult aspects of our lives as worthy challenges more than adversities. Much of our adult lives are invested in being childish. Some, I feel, could be well spent being childlike.

And that chilling scream, that unbridled yawp we lost so long ago... oh, we bellow at others or ourselves or the world in general, but such barking comes from anger and frustration and limitations, from our own powerlessness, not from an intensity of spirit. The child's yell is joyous, primal passion that cannot be contained. Can that be relearned? If it can, what songs we could sing... what lessons we could teach.


What treasures we could find.


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15. Oh, I have a blog, don't I?

Haven't put anything on here in a long time... I almost forgot it existed.
Chaos rules now, and I haven't had abundant time or free energy to pour into this; I hope that will change soon.

Stay tuned...

Eric

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16. Hearts and Writing

Hi. My name is Eric, and I'm a computer Hearts game addict.


[All of those who are willing to admit to playing too many computer games, regardless of preferred poison, instead of using that time productively are expected to mumble back, in unison, “Hi, Eric”.]


But, in defense of my nasty little habit, there is a writer-focused cluster of analogies, like plump grapes on the vine, to be picked from the experience of playing a 2-D, low-rez game that came as part of a free package on my computer. And so I give you -

Getting Published is Like a Computer Hearts Game, Sorta.

To the beginner, submitting work to publishers and playing Hearts are similar in that they both are a bit confusing. There are rules, and knowing the rules is vital if any level of success is expected. I didn't start out on Hearts – Solitaire was my gateway drug. I thought Hearts was like Spades... wrong. I had to read the rules and follow them. Likewise with the publishing world.

Both involve an element of gambling and can be a bit addictive. You take chances when you submit your creative work to a total stranger, and the vulnerability is disquieting. Losses are crushing, but you can smell success coming, an exotic and foreign intoxicant that must be discovered. But the hand goes wrong again and again. You walk away, vehemently fuming that you will never return. But return you do.

With both submitting and card hands, you can do everything correctly... and still lose the hand. Such defeat comes from uncertainties: There are other people out there, and you haven't a hint of a clue what cards they are clutching. You didn't expect that queen of spades to pollute your perfectly played cards. And so coldly was it dropped; maliciously? With Hearts, it is simple to shrug it off... means nothing... Ben and Phylis and Michelle aren't even real! Big deal. But there are genuine humans behind that thrice-photocopied form rejection letter, and that truth stings.

Both improve with practice. The less frustrating the losses are with experience. The next hand is played with more daring. The mistakes are fewer. The losses don't cripple, and they even inspire, sometimes.


Here, I tack on the anti-thesis – unlike Hearts, writing is not a waste of time. Don't let the generic rejections tell you that your efforts are pointless. Most rejection letters mean nothing. Write for the joy of it, the escape, the journey, the privilege of capturing on paper what snarls and swoops and dances in your mind. Tell the tale.


And I recommend avoiding the games programs.


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17. Palm Trees & Paisley

There are advantages and disadvantages to living anywhere, I suppose. Living my whole life in Florida, I sometimes take for granted what others envy.


I have never shoveled snow. I can read a book in a hammock in shorts & a T-shirt... in March. Our cars don't need snow tires. I can drive a minute off of any major road and find jungle, thick and lush and beautiful, or a lake full of fish, snatched from the shiny waters by bald eagles and osprey. I can go to almost any body of water deeper than three feet – retention pond, swimming pool, park fountain, doesn't matter - and admire a giant prehistoric lizard, motionless, sunning itself and coldly eying a spaniel on the end of a leash.


Being a Floridian is often a blessing.


Being a writer is a blessing, in a similar way. I can take a detour off the beaten path and discover a wild and dazzling world that never existed, and still doesn't except in the crackling ether of my head. Dizzying flights through a paisley-patterned never-land are the norm. And if the monsters in my everyday life are big, imagine the ones in the cranial alternate reality. Yet, even with the ability a writer has to dissolve the here-and-now and reconstitute it into the there-and-what?, touching the exuberance and pain and bliss of the inner person is the true journey of the writer, and an amazing trip it is, even if the landscape is but a white sheet of paper, or monitor screen.


Being a writer is often a blessing.


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