The Giant Purple Cyclops

I met Tim Froman when I was a freshman in high school. He was a behemoth who always wore a smile on his face, a camera over his shoulder and a purple jacket embroidered with the name of our high school marching band. Tim was marching drill before I popped out of the womb, so we never shared the field in the temporal sense of things, but we were both Marching Giants, both part of a Tradition of Excellence that our directors instilled in us. I don't know how it is with other marching bands, but if you were part of the Ben Davis High School program, you came in a musician, but you were sculpted, driven and pushed to bleed purple. The band was expected to be everything to you. For me it was. I loved it dearly and gladly put my body through hell. (I'm still paying for that shit.) It was the same way for Tim.

Tim was a lifer. He graduated long before I ever stepped foot on the field. But he stuck around. He loved it that much. Being a Marching Giant was in his veins, heart and mind. He sometimes helped teach marching basics, but mostly Tim was the videographer and unofficial historian of the band program. He filmed some rehearsals, every football game and every contest we marched providing valuable footage that helped the band get better. He traveled out of state with the band filming parades. He worked websites. He helped load and unload trucks. Tim was a constant presence during my time at BD and remains a fixture even if now it will be in memory.

Tim died of a heart attack Saturday, February 10, 2013.

It's odd. I didn't know Tim very well. He was that guy behind the camera that my dad was friends with. That I talked to sometimes. That I was friends with on Facebook. He got me, though. He would send me fun drumline videos or post Thor/Loki memes on my page. The last thing he posted to me was two weeks ago. That pic over there. Tim, while definitely on the periphery of my life, was one of my biggest supporters.

That's how he was.

Maybe that's why news of his death hit me as hard as it did. (I was at a Da Vinci exhibit at the Science Center and sat with tears streaming down my face while looking at the Last Supper.) Tim and I didn't know one another well by any means. We didn't march together (which has its own form of war-bond). But we were part of the same legacy. The same purple blood flows through our veins and that same passion calls to both of us. We were family. We understood one another, too, in a strange way. That geekdom that speaks to itself, that passion for music and motion, a desire to honor history and keep it for others.Tim loved music--everything from Wagner to Rush, Jesus did he love Rush!--and in recent years had developed a passion for cycling. He was a collective memory for many people. He kept records, videos, memories, pictures and his own thoughts for other people. If you were a Ben Davis Marching Giant, Tim loved you because you were family.

When I was in high school, I knew Tim because he was just as present on the field as the 50 yard line. Not nearly as prominent, mind you, but there's not a single memory I have of band that I can't freeze frame and find him in the shot. He's on the periphery, sure, but that's so he could get the best view and take it all in. He had the back of all 300 of us in my day and has had the back of every Marching Giant before and since. Even if you didn't see him or notice him, he was there. And he will continue to be. A scholarship has been opened in his name to help students who will be going in to Music Education.

Tim Froman was an amazing human being. I'm thankful to have known him, for all of his years of support. I'm glad to have been family in our odd sort of way.

Aloha oe, Tim.

Aarr! Aye! And Other Vowels As Well!

There have been a lot of posts lately about piracy and theft of intellectual property. The whole Glee vs JoCo fiasco that raised the internet and our proverbial pitchforks... Chuck Wendig and other authors posting about what book piracy means for them specifically. Piracy is a thing. It happens with music, movies and now--with the advent of ereaders--books. And in light of my recent good news, this directly affects little old me.

So let's talk about this.

I come from a generation of mix-tapes and bootlegs, so there are some things that I feel are morally grey. You wouldn't have heard of Metallica or Dave Matthews Band without bootlegs getting passed from person to person. However, we don't live in the 80s where you had to wind tapes with pencils and wait with your hand on the record button for the radio to play the song to finish your masterpiece. (And then the DJ talked over half of it. Dick.) Anyway, I don't feel like downloading a song from a friend's hard drive makes me a criminal. At the same time, I borrow books (the kind printed on dead trees) from friends. I don't see either of these things as theft. Why? It's probably intent. If I like that book, I intend to go buy everything that author has written so that I don't have to borrow shit anymore. If I dig that track, I'm more inclined to buy more from that person.

That being said, there is a line. It's got more shades of grey around it than that one book, but the line is there. For me that line with books specifically is pretty clear. If I borrow (from a friend or a library) a print copy of a book and love it, I will buy the fuck out of that author's work. I will pimp them, loan out copies so that other friends can do the same. At some point in the food chain, money exchanges hands and goes to the author. Yay.

Ebooks aren't like that necessarily. Ebooks are easily pirated and that food chain cannot be guaranteed. I will not borrow ebooks. I pay for them. Be it Amazon or Kobo or the author's site, I buy the book.

And here's why I ask you to do the same for me.

Look, I'm a debut author. That means that Entangled/Covet is putting a bet on me that you and many many other people will buy my book and prove they made the right decision to sign me. If you pirate my book, yes, you take money from me and the publisher, but that's not my biggest beef. If you pirate my book, I might not get to write more. Piracy skews sales numbers and for a debut like me, that is the pudding in which my proof is divined. (Or something.) If my sales numbers are low, my publisher can look at me and say, "This has been fun, but you didn't do as well as we'd hoped. See ya!" Then those sales numbers follow me around for any future contracts I try to acquire. And so on and so on. If you want to see me write all these books I've been talking about...if you want them to have a shot, please. Please. Do not pirate my book.

Thank you.

No Substitute For An Actual Post

Wow. What a week. So, let's for a moment forget the flurry of Thanksgiving and the terribly satisfying gluttony that followed (because all of that in and of itself was exhausting). We hosted 10 people at our house and had enough food for probably twice that. Either that or we just weren't all that enthusiastic about our stretchy pants. Anyway, it has been a whirlwind that only feels like it's dying down today because I am not physically in motion.Sunday I got word that my Grandmother fell and broke her hip. Multiple fractures. Now, the woman is 92 years old with osteoporosis and has been living on her own since before my grandfather died in 2004. She's a tough cookie. That being said... well, I was scared to death. You see, two years ago I had this dream that my Grandma told me the exact day she was going to die. (Why yes, I do remember a dream I had two years ago. I also remember one I had when I was 4 with more clarity than I remember last month. What of it?) November 26, for those curious. ALSO, I had this really creepy feeling about a week and a half ago (a week before she fell, that is)... just this weird, "Oh God is Grandma alright" feeling. Turns out both of my aunts had the same kind of ookiness on the same day. So, Sunday, Grandma falls and gets to the hospital. Surgery ensues when? Monday the 26th of November.  *facepalm* I was on pins and fucking needles all. damn. day. Because I was certain she wouldn't make it out of surgery. "This is it, this dream is coming true."  Long story short (too late): Grandma came through surgery with rainbow unicorns. She's got some hardware in her hip and her chances of winning a championship pogo-stick competition are minimal, but she is on the mend. She starts rehab this week and will then be moving in with my aunts. She was sitting up and even took a couple of assisted steps yesterday. Go Grandma! Beyond that, there's all sorts of crazy shit going on. My husband and daughter overruled my desires to sit and sulk and worry on Sunday by forcing me to deck my halls. Our house is full of fa and la and all ready for Christmas.

I've been putting the finishing touches on getting a short story ready for submission for potential publication in an anthology. Had to write up a bio for the thing. I hate writing bios, especially short ones because (let's face it) I ramble. All the bios I read for comparison/ideas were basically, "So and so has a OMGWTFBBQPHD from Wooptieshit University and has spent many years gaining credibility. S/he was published in Big Bad Monthly and the coveted Epic Awesome quarterly. S/he has something pithy and clever here about living in a fantasy land with a cat that thinks it's a panther."  I don't have any of that. I have no nifty degrees. I have no publishing credits to my name outside of a school newspaper and possibly a bathroom wall somewhere in the Midwest.  Bios are where I freak out and feel inadequate.

So when I mention on my personal Facebook page that I'm doing this bio thing and how much I hate it, I got all sorts of suggestions from my beloved (and disturbed) friends. My favorite involved the line, "She lives in the American Southwest with 2 hobbits, 2 cats and a small thermonuclear device she bought on" Classic. Gold. Right there.

But, I think I've got that submission cocked, locked and ready to rock some stripey socks.

Two more things started falling into place. I can't talk about them just yet, but soon I will be able to spill it here. Because these gears are moving, others that have been at a standstill for months can get back to rolling as well. And soon Damocles will take his leave of me. Right? RIGHT?!

So yeah, I was hoping to get the next installment in the Better Know A Trickster series out to you this week, but due to crazy shit happening in my personal space, I'm going to ask for an extension of goodwill. Maui is coming, don't you worry.

Love and peaches, gang.

Imaginary Friends

Way back in the earliest days of the Interwebz, I met people on AOL through chat rooms and stuff. Met some cool people, really. But there was this idea that people online were always out to scam you! You have no idea who these people are! They could be killers! Don't trust the people you meet online!!!! Over the past couple of decades things have changed. Yes, we are still to fear anyone using Craigslist, but on the whole, many of us interact with others solely using social media and email. There are people I've known since the 90s that I've never met in person. If I know you online, but have never physically seen you, I refer to you as my Imaginary Friend.I just need to spend a few minutes today praising those people, those staggeringly awesome figments of my over-active imagination. I can't tell you how many times I've had someone on Twitter be the first to ask me if I'm okay on a bad day, or to be there with a cyber hug. They are there to celebrate good news and help me navigate choppy waters.

And they are genuine.

I appreciate and love those who are so open and real with someone they've never met. Thank you for giving a damn and being amazing. Thank you for being my friend...even if you are a bunch of 1s and 0s. :-D


Let Me Tell Ya 'Bout ...

...the birds and the bees.... More specifically this bee. No, not the one in the picture. *points to self* This one. Me. I've been posting a lot of things lately that talk about my Bee People...bee socks for a Blue Twitter handle is BeeGirlBlue...that kind of thing and that is drawing questions from those of you who may be new to our little show here. So, I thought I'd take a post to answer one of the frequently asked questions: "Dude, what's up with you and bees?"

Remember 1991? Flannel around your waist, Docs on your feet and a slightly emo slump to your step because you were so misunderstood by the establishment that it made your soul ache like Kurt Cobain's cancer? We had angst and people like Steven Tyler kept telling us to Rock The Vote to do something about it. Remember those days? Damn, 8th grade was awesome, wasn't it? Anyway...back in 1991 this video came out and MTV played it damn near every morning. (I know, some of you come from a world when MTV didn't play music, but trust me, it was cool.) I woke up to this song many many times and the video always spoke to me. Blind Melon's No Rain.

Here's this girl. Not much to look at, laughed at by the people she's trying to blend with...she goes on her own quest around the town to find someone who will dance with her. Finally, she finds a whole tribe of Bee People who will dance her dance. She finds a place where she belongs.

For many years I felt like the Bee Girl...weird, funny looking and misunderstood. Alone in a crowd and constantly looking for that place of peace and acceptance. My friend Carrie was the first to call me Bee Girl back in college. It fit and it stuck. I envied the Bee Girl because she found that place full of sympathetic characters who not only accept but love her for her differences. Her weirdness is exalted and she ends the video triumphant! Hoo and ray!  I envied her that.

In 2002 I met a friend online who lived in Phoenix. I'd been thinking of moving there and we hit it off online and later on the phone. We talked for 2 years and finally I started making plans to relocate. There was this one weekend that all things seemed to gel. I went to Phoenix for that weekend to meet people I'd only spoken to online or the phone and those people introduced me to more people. I walked into a house for a birthday party of a complete stranger and I met my Tribe. My very own Bee People. No trumpets and choirs...just laughter and karaoke. But that feeling of resonance, sympathetic vibration and utter peace said it all. I didn't want to leave the party. At 3:30am my friend looked at me and said, "Your flight leaves in 3 hours and we still have to go get your suitcase packed and get you to the airport." Bummed, I started saying goodbye. As people hugged me they told me, "I don't want to wish you bad luck, but I hope you fuck up this audition because it means you'll move here."

Two days later I auditioned for Blue Man Group. That in and of itself is a whole 'nother story. Short version: I stood on the stage of the Briar Street Theater in Chicago and drummed stroke for stroke with my personal idol and got a call back. (And on the evening news, but that just made me feel awkward..) I went in the next day for the acting portion, went on my way and waited. A few weeks later I emailed the casting director for information and thanked her profusely for the experience. She said that my drumming was "exactly what we're looking for" but that the character needed work. I was urged to try again.

So I moved to Phoenix in October of 2004. On New Year's Eve I was at The Party (see previous entry) and my beloveds gifted me with a pair of blue LED drumsticks. Blue was my signature color and it became my "thing". The nickname "Blue" popped into being and I've answered to it ever since. (It's on my Con badge.) I have to giggle when I read Christopher Moore's You Suck! because of the hooker named Blue who wears blue make up specifically because of Blue Man Group. I found out recently that Chris Moore's next book, Sacre Bleu!, comes out on my birthday and has a stunning prologue about the color Blue and how it is like a woman.

I am Blue. I am the Bee Girl.

So there's your answer.