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It's a Writing Thing
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Hola all you peeps!

After some thought/contemplation & well, out of a sense of nostalgia or whatever, chickwriter is BACK. My LiveJournal account is now back to its original name and will remain that way.

TTFN!
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Only Lovers Left Alive movie poster Don't expect sparkly vampires, nor action-packed bloodthirsty romanticized killers in Only Lovers Left  Alive, Jim Jarmusch's most recent oeuvre. Instead, think languid, lush, and absolutely gorgeous--in the cinematic way, though Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston certainly fit the bill in many other ways.

Set in a brooding, decaying Detroit and a vibrant Tangier, this is the story of two immortals: their passions, their glories, and emotions. Hiddleston's Adam is a deeply emo vampire musician, locked up in a crumbling mansion surrounded by all the music. He's a rock-and-roll icon, known for being a hermit, yet incredibly popular. Adam has his modern-day Renfield, a groupie by the name of Ian who procures whatever Adam needs - mostly obscure musical instruments.

Swinton's Eve lives on the other side of the world, immersed in literature, embracing the color and richness of her chosen city. Her best pal (and procurer of the good blood) is none other than Christopher Marlowe (played to perfection by John Hurt.) Though separated from her husband of many lifetimes, it takes only a phone call from Adam for Eve to wing her way via night flights to Detroit.

This is a quiet mood piece, pretty much the absolute antithesis of the other recent movie I saw (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), but it's pace is utterly perfect. As I said to a colleague, it's poetry, not prose, and on its face, a simple poem, but it's very simplicity showcases the complex issues of immortality, of the decay of modern cities, of trust and love and hope. Only Lovers Left Alive promotional still

There's no mystery to solve, no soul-clenching drama, just beauty, introspection and the glory of life - no matter how long life is. There is a very amusing bit when Eve's younger "sister" Ava shows up, the vampire version of the annoying little sibling. Ava throws a few wrenches into Adam and Eve's life and the resolution to this is all part of the overarching glory of survival.

Only Lovers Left Alive opens in very limited release in the US on April 11, 2014. Catch it if you can - it will probably only be out in art-house theatres, but it's well worth the watch. If you miss it on screen, make sure to get the DVD or digital download when that's available. Already I'm looking forward to a second viewing.

(xposted from my official blog)

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I went to see this movie last night at 8:00 p.m. - which, for me, is very near my bedtime. But I couldn't wait. I'd seen the teasers & trailers and needed to not have to avoid the internets for much longer because spoilers. Even though the movie let out at nearly 11 p.m. and I was pretty much beat, thanks to having forgotten my pain pills in the a.m., it was worth it. It was everything I wanted and then some.

I've put my review behind the cut for length and in case someone wants to avoid all possibility of spoilers. I don't think there's anything that hasn't been seen in teasers, but better safe than yelled at. ::g::

Moar Moar MoarCollapse )

On a side note, I just watched this week's Agents of SHIELD episode, and squeed at the connections with the movie. I do love how this ties it all in together in a seemingly real-time fashion. Things happened in AoS that the movie then continued. So very, very clever Marvel!

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Reviewers, audiobook listeners, and fans...it's promo time!! I've got 10 copies of the audiobook of Blood Sacrifice to give away and one of them could be yours.
Simply comment below telling me why you love audiobooks and a book recommendation and I'll enter you.

I'll draw names on Friday, January 17.
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I'm utterly entranced and hooked by this show. Watching via iTunes downloads since I no longer have cable TV, but I am soooo impatient for the final episode of the series.

My prediction of killed Danny has changed back to the person I thought it might be a few episodes ago.

I've no idea if I'm right and I'm not searching out spoilers.

My guess below the cutCollapse )

In any case, I'll know the end by this time next week. I'll have to really truly avoid the Interwebz after the episode airs and until I can watch it!

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Seriously.

55.

I reached this age today, somewhere around 1 a.m. as the clocked ticked into a new day. It's a weird age. Old enough to have grandkids (if I'd had kids) - but yet, still far too young to feel like "grandma." Long enough to have been a card-carrying AARP member for half a decade, but not yet old enough to take advantage of certain senior discounts. Go figure.

I did get a birthday cupcake today, along with a card and Amazon gift certificate (from the office). My sis sent me an ebook - Dragonwriter (Smart Pop Books), plus the lovely signed hardcover of Codex Born by jimhines. I knew I was getting the latter. She had to tell me, lest I buy my own copy, which I totally would have done. Evidently, there is another package from her winging its way to me.

I spent this past weekend doing very little. Napping, reading fic, napping again. Whee. I live a life of vicariousness. Strange, how it's changed over the past few years. I used to be such a go-getter/traveler. Then the autoimmune & fibromyalgia hit and even the thought of booking travel anywhere tires me out...well, that and a much more limited budget. Whee? Hey, at least there's Internets!

Hope you all are having a fabulous day.

bday cupcake 2013

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Spirits: amused amused

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Why is it on an extra-long weekend (4 days for me), time seems to just vanish?

Admittedly, I did absolutely nothing of consequence. Read fic, napped, read more fic, napped some more. But now, here it is, the start of the work week.

At least, today, I'm working from home (pre-arranged) so I don't actually have to get dressed but can hang out in my over-large t-shirt and shorts.

Tomorrow, I turn 55. Somehow, my brain is having trouble processing that fact. I've been a card-carrying AARP member for five years. How on earth did that happen? Not to say I feel much younger. With the fibro and all, some days I feel like I'm bloody 90. Today, as a matter of fact. Pain is not my friend, damn it.

Hope those of you in the US & Canada enjoyed the Labor/Labour Day weekend!

TTFN

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Srsly, how awesome is Welcome to Night Vale?

The fandom is sprouting fics, art and new headcanon like so many tiny dandelions whose seeds then float out amongst the unaware, taking root and creating more fans.

It's smart, quirky and flirts with the dark side: exactly what I adore in my fiction. Plus, Cecil Baldwin's voice is a thing of beauty, not unlike Carlos' beautiful hair.

It's been a long time that something's caught me up in this much glee/excitement.

Thank you, Commonplace Books.

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Our office does a quarterly(ish) junk swap, where staffers can bring things they'd like to get rid of - be it books, clothes, gadgets, etc. The basic rule is bring stuff that is still usable, take stuff if you want, even if you didn't bring stuff. At the end of the day, anything not claimed by someone else gets packed up and donated to our local Goodwill.

Slowly, I've been going through some of the final tote bins, books and piles o'clothes at home and bringing them in for the various swaps. It's been a not-so-easy task, thanks to the fibromyalgia, but last night, I got motivated (I think it was the caffeine) and I loaded up a grocery roller cart full to the brim with books, clothes and bags. Lots and lots of bags.

Some of the bags came from conferences. Some were purses or backpacks I'd bought over the years. I'd been leery of opening the tote bin o'bags, simply because I knew it would be tough for me to part with some of them. The nostalgia! The utter usefulness of some of them!

I was ruthless.

In went the awesome bag from Left Coast Crime in Monterey, CA more than a decade ago. In went the nifty blue bag from Lone Star Con. In went the black leather backpack/purse that I hadn't actually seen in at least a dozen years.

After a couple of hours and a Tramadol, I was done. The rolling cart was full.

This morning, I rolled it down the hall, into the elevator and out through the lobby, somehow managing to get through the building's foyer without help. Unpacked the cart into the back of Phil-the-car, then repacked it when I arrived at work.

The swap starts this afternoon at  3 p.m. - Normally, I'd be a little anxious...do I really want to donate X item? Maybe I'll keep it for a little bit longer.

Not today, though. I'm relieved--happy that more stuff is going to find good homes and perhaps even delight someone else.

Is my changed attitude because I'm getting older/wiser? Is it just the semi-annual burst of "OMG, I need to declutter?"

I don't know.

All I can say is that I'm taking advantage of that urge and going forward.

Years ago, I could fit everything I owned into one small truck. I don't know that I'll get back to that point again, nor would I want to, but hanging on to stuff just because I can is silly and makes no sense.

Maybe I am growing up...just shy of my 55th birthday.

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Same ol' same ol' =
* Work at the day job
* Try to conserve energy b/c fibromyalgia tends to kick my ass whenever there is weather, especially when it's rainy
* Spend my weekends reading fanfic and/or books. I'm still immersed in HP fandom, as there is so very much written in it.

Latest book reads that I adored:
* Libriomancer by jimhines (last year's book, but I just now got to it)
* Under the Empyrean Sky by Chuck Wendig (brilliant dystopian YA)
* Heart of Briar by Laura Anne Gilman (suricattus) (first of a new series - absolutely fabulous!)

What's up in your neck of the woods?

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black question mark inside black circleA common blog post/meme/whatever is the "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) - either over at Reddit or a blogger's own site. My online pal, Chuck Wendig, in celebration of the release of his new YA dystopian novel, Under the Empyrean Sky, did an AMA on July 30.

Instead of you all asking me questions, I figured I'd turn the tabs and ask you, with my own answers interspersed:

  • What's a book you've read recently that blew you away and why?

    • I recently finished reading Jim Hines' Libriomancer and could not put it down. The wonderful trope of using the written word (literally) as magic was fresh and fun. He is also a master at crafting interesting characters.


  • What TV show surprised you this season or last?

    • Orphan Black (SyFy) and Orange Is the New Black (Netflix Originals). I mainlined them both, binge watching like a crack addict with money to burn. Strong writing, wonderful women characters and fantastic acting. Now I'm jonesing for next season!


  • What movie surprised you?

    • Pacific Rim - I went on a whim and to accompany a friend, figuring it would be a silly, fun romp. Turns out, it's more than that. Quite good, despite some story holes and really good characters, plus Idris Elba!


  • Tell me something you've been wanting to share.

    • I'm crap at resp0nding to fan email. I beg pardon and your patience if I've not responded to you quickly.



That's all for now, folks! I'm enjoying an oddly cool end-of-July and working on job stuff plus starting recording for the final Blood Lines audiobook, Blood Sacrifice.

Although I blog infrequently, I'm most often found nattering on Facebook. Happy almost August!!

xposted from my blog

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Boston CommonI'm still trying to process the events of yesterday at the Boston Marathon. Too much like 9/11 for my psyche, which immediately scrambled to "oh, fuck" and "OMG, OMG, OMG."

  • Part of me wants to bury myself in a small hole and not know.

  • Part of me wants to dive deep into news stories, blog posts, commentary and wallow in the facts & reactions.

  • Part of me (the more-or-less stable piece) has pulled back into "normal world" mode and, though not avoiding, is not enmeshed in all-Boston-all-the-time.


Not sure which is the healthiest or sanest, but in the practical words of Laura Anne Gilman yesterday:





She's right. Just because I don't look at the photos or videos from the site, I'm not a bad person.  Neither are you.

I'll focus on work today and just being alive.

xposted from my blog

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Admittedly, I suck at blogging regularly. Weeks can go by with nothing, then a flurry of energy = blog posts. What gripes my behind is that my once-reliable crossposting tool from WordPress to LiveJournal has died the big death.

I figure it's something to do with LJ changes or whatever. I've not had the time/energy to pursue.

So if you're looking for me here on LJ, there's little been said. Slightly more has been said at my website. I'm a heck of a lot more prolific over on Facebook. Wish I could find some plug in or something that pulls my FB posts directly to LJ and to my blog.

So, how are you all doing?
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My friend, fellow author, and fellow Buffy fan Dan Hale posted a picture today on Facebook of the show Jonny Quest. I remarked in a comment that it was my first fandom.  Jonny Quest

When I was a young kid (8 or 9?), the only cartoon I *had* to watch on Saturday mornings was Jonny Quest. To this day, I can still hum the theme & remember the opening title sequence. Little did I know then that Jonny, Hadji and Bandit would be my gateway drug to writing fiction, as frankly, most fandom would be.

Later on down the line, I graduated from Jonny and moved on to Star Trek: The Original Series and the fandom bug that had bit me as a child just kept biting. I created stories in my head about the characters; further adventures that were never to see the light of day. ST:ToS was the catalyst for my interest in how television shows were made and led to my getting a degree in Journalism, TV & Film.

One thing lead to another and before I knew it, I was writing, writing, writing - mostly for myself. Fan fiction (fanfic) stories set in established universes bled into my own attempts at original work. Jonny had sparked a fire that would (and will) never die.

Fandom, reading and writing fanfic and now years later, I'm a published writer. Who'd'a'thunk?



(darned Facebook isn't crossposting, so I'm doing it manually)

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Wishing you and yours a fabulous holiday season and happy 2013!!!

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Wishing you and yours a fabulous holiday season and happy 2013!!!

 

Candle Flame

 

 

Originally posted at Maria Lima. You can comment here or there.
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They’re everywhere. They’re everywhere. Authors all over the intarwebz blogging about their “Next Big Thing”.  I’ve been tagged by the fabulous Sujata Massey in her blog post. I figured I’d play along and talk about my current project which is the audio narration of my books. :)

 

What is the working title of your next book?

I’m currently working on recording the audio for the last 2 books in my Blood Lines series: Blood Heat and Blood Sacrifice. Audiobooks for the 1st three are now available on Audible.com.

 

Where did the idea for the book come from?

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…uh, no, strike that. I got the idea for the series from a kernel of a dream/amusing thought once upon a time. It eventually morphed into what’s out there now.

 

What genre does your book fall under?

Urban fantasy – or, should we call it contemporary fantasy? Urban implies nitty gritty noir-inspired city setting, but my series is set in very rural Texas – only, it’s not the Texas you  might think it is.

 

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Such a question! I’ve pondered, searched and pored over IMDB to answer this in other Q&A blog posts, and I have yet to find anyone who physically resembles Adam at all. For Keira, it’s a toss up between Katie McGrath of Merlin and Jaimie Alexander (Thor).

For Tucker & Niko – oh, so easy: Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston (Thor, The Avengers). They are perfect!

 

What is the one-sentence synopsis of the book?

Mystery, mayhem, murder and politics in the Texas Hill Country…of the supernatural kind.

 

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

The audiobooks are published via Audible.com.

 

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your masterpiece?

Each audiobook takes a couple of months of working weekends to record, master and upload the files. This was rather a surprise to me, as I didn’t expect it to take so long. Each book is about 10 hours or so of recorded audio, which translates to about 30-35 hours of actual work.

 

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Again with the loaded questions! ::g:: I’d say my stories tend to fall in between Tanya Huff’s Vicky Nelson series and Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series.

 

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My main inspiration was having read Tanya Huff’s series back when it first debuted (early 90s). I immediately fell in love with the idea of writing a fantasy novel based in the contemporary “real” world. I was also devouring a lot of Charles de Lint at the time, another wonderful Canadian writer. De Lint’s world was populated with magic and mystery. He opened the doors to Faery and hooked me completely. Tanya, on the other hand, showed me how I could combine my two loves: mystery books and fantasy books by merging both those worlds successfully.

 

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I love to tell folks that the books are narrated by me. I’m enjoying the heck out of doing the recordings. A reader once told me he could hear my voice when reading the books (they are 1st person narrative) and doing the audio for them lets me project that voice so others can actually hear it.

 

That’s my .02 on the Next Big Thing. Thanks for stopping by. I tag my fellow Outer Alliance members!

Readers, why not spend awhile checking out the other Next Big Thing Blog posts?

Originally posted at Maria Lima. You can comment here or there.

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My buddy Chris Golden had issues with Blogger and his  Next Big Thing blog post so he asked a few of us if we’d help him out. That was a no brainer – Chris is awesome so of course I said yes. 

 

So…most of you probably know this already…maybe…possibly.  There’s a wonderful blog-contagion going on, something called THE NEXT BIG THING.  A blog-hop, they call it, and in it authors are mean to answer a handful of questions about their latest work and then tag five or so other authors to do the same the following week.  As you might imagine, it’s growing exponentially.  I mean, do the math, right?  A month or so ago, my good friend Stephen Volk asked me if I wanted to do it, but I was on a craaazy deadline for my upcoming thriller for St. Martin’s, SNOWBLIND, which is now complete.  Then, a week or so ago, the great and funny and charming and brilliant Dana Cameron tagged me.  I was on a different deadline, no less desperate, but I realized that if I didn’t jump in, I was going to miss the Next Big Thing entirely.  The circus would have passed me by.  Also, I didn’t want Dana mad at me.  Bitch’ll cut a guy.

 

Of course, I was supposed to have this blog up yesterday, so I may yet face her wrath.

 

My answers to the questions—and the poor suckers I’ve tagged for next week—are below, but you should also go and check out Dana’s Next Big Thing blog from last week, and pick up her first urban fantasy, SEVEN KINDS OF HELL.

 

Where did the idea come from for the book?

CG:  FATHER GAETANO’S PUPPET CATECHISM is the third book I’ve done with Mike Mignola.  The prior novels (BALTIMORE and JOE GOLEM AND THE DROWNING CITY) were conceived by Mike.  This one—though it has so many elements that are near and dear to Mike’s heart—was my idea.  We were on the phone one day, talking about our love of puppets and how unnerving they can be, and the idea hit me pretty much fully-formed, which is rare but nice.  It’s short and a St. Martin’s has made a beautiful little book that would make the perfect Christmas gift for anyone who loves fantasy, horror, or just plain weird.

 

What genre does your book fall under?

CG:  It’s a supernatural story, so you could call it horror, but I think anyone who enjoys dark fantasy would enjoy it as well.

 

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

CG:  Funnily enough, it isn’t the actors I think of when I think of a film version of this story—it’s the style.  I’d love to see it directed by someone like Henry Selick, done like Coraline or Corpse Bride.

 

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

CG:  In the aftermath of a critical World War II battle, Father Gaetano believes that God has called him to teach catechism to a group of young orphans and to restore their faith in God, but he soon finds that it can be dangerous to rely too much on what one perceives as the wishes of one’s creator.  Oh, and there are puppets that come to life.  [Two sentences.  Sue me.]

 

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

CG:  The book was published about six weeks ago, but was sold at the very tail end of a period of many years in which I represented myself, so the answer to that question is neither.  Shortly after selling the book to St. Martin’s, I signed on with the great, and dashingly handsome, Howard Morhaim, and I feel fortunate to have him in my corner.

 

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

CG:  About a month, I think.  Remember, it’s a novella, not a full-length novel.  I’m not sure how long it took Mike to do the illustrations.

 

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

CG:  I can’t think of any, really.  I’m sure there are plenty and that readers can draw comparisons, but the first thing that comes to mind for me is The Twilight Zone, and not because of the various living doll stories that Serling did.  There’s just something about the subtle alteration of reality, the eeriness, and the way in which that series always used the supernatural to explore larger themes that I loved, and the influence of that show on a lot of my work is clear.  I do think that if you like creepy, then you’ll like this story.

 

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

CG:  It’s got a gorgeous cover and creepy illustrations by my co-author, Mike Mignola, who is not only the creator of Hellboy, but the greatest and truest artist working in comics today.

 

And those are the questions, folks.  The lovely and ruthless Dana Cameron tagged me this week, but she also tagged three other great writers.  Here’s what Dad had to say about them….

Toni L. P. Kelner: I’ve been a fan of Toni’s award-winning writing since her Laura Fleming books, and wait until you
see her new series, starting with The Skeleton in the Armoire (as Leigh Perry)! I’ll let her tell you about that next week!

Kat Richardson‘s latest novel Seawitch, was #3 on the Locus Hardcover Bestseller list for November! Kat and I got
acquainted via anthologies Wolfsbane and Mistletoe (which Toni edited with Charlaine Harris) and most recently, Murder and Mayhem in Muskego.

Elaine Viets has TWO series: the Helen Hawthorne “Dead End Job” mysteries, and the Josie Marcus “Mystery Shopper mysteries.” Elaine and I are both members of the Femmes Fatales (as is Toni), and she’ll be posting her Next Big thing blog there.

*******************

And now we get to the folks I’m tagging, the amazingly talented writers to whom I have spread the Next Big Thing contagion.  Look for their posts next Tuesday, December 12th!

S.G. Browne’s latest novels are Lucky Bastard (which has a neat little blurb from yours truly, every word of which I meant) and I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Claus…and you know you need that freakin’ book right now.

Cherie Priest is the author of the hugely successful Clockwork Century novels, including Boneshaker and the latest, The Inexplicables.  She’s also written creepy-as-all-get-out Southern Gothic supernatural tales and urban fantasy, has dynamite fashion sense, and different hair every time I see her.

Caitlin Kittredge is the author of the ass-kicking urban fantasy Black London novels and the YA series The Iron Codex, which has the best titles.  I mean, book two is The Nightmare Garden, that’s pretty damn cool.  She once told me that she’s not ready for the zombie apocalypse but she is prepared for the kitten apocalypse.  Make of that what you will.

Yes, Amber Benson is the author of the Death’s Daughter series of urban fantasy novels, among other things, and yes, she’s an actress-writer-director who has been elevated to the status of cult icon in recent years.  She’s also my little sister, gave me the best nickname ever, and commandeers my daughter’s “princess bed” at every opportunity.

As far as I know, the only thing that all four of these writers have in common is that they have all written short stories for anthologies I have edited, which means they bear the same psychological scars.

Happy Holidays!!!

Originally posted at Maria Lima. You can comment here or there.

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Blessed Samhain & Happy Hallowe’en to all!

Originally posted at Maria Lima. You can comment here or there.
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Human adaptability has never ceased to amaze me…even when it’s my own. I’m not the most “go-with-the-flow” gal you’ll ever meet, as I enjoy my routines. I revel in the steadiness so I can enjoy other things as they change.

This last year has been a true lesson in riding the waves and making the best of circumstances. Learning to live with chronic pain and the ability to modify one’s habits is a tough sell, but a necessary one.

Now that I’m beginning to grok how everything I do must be thought about first, I’m think I’m starting to get the hang of it.

Today, I had to say goodbye to an old friend – My lovely wee Smart car, Simply Red. As much as I adored it, I could no longer enjoy it thanks to the fact that I have freakishly long legs (thanks, Mom!!). Before the fibromyalgia pain, I was able to deal with that fine. I was flexible and driving around was great.

Over the past few months, that’s changed, and the pain just got to be too much. Coupled with a very timely email from my credit union offering 1.49% financing, I knew it was time.

After soliciting advice from family & friends, I found it. The right one. The steady, reliable one but with enough quirkiness that I could still feel like me.

Meet Phil…as in “His first name is Agent” Coulson.

Phil

My cane is there for size reference.

Phil is a 2012 Scion xB, purchased at Alexandria Toyota – a group of people whose customer service is unparalleled. I can see why they are constantly busy.

Phil has all sorts of nifty features, and he’s just a base model.

It’s been a heck of a busy day off – no sleep at all last night (thanks, Cymbalta), followed by 9:00 a.m. blood draw. Followed by a visit to the sleep doc (all is great with my CPAP use). Followed by a trip to the pharm as sleep doc gave me Rx for Ambien so I can at least get sleep. Then about 1.5 hours at the dealership.

I think I’m going to do nothing else of value the rest of the day.

 

More pics of Phil & a farewell picture post for Simply Red

 

Farewell, Simply Red. Hello, Phil

 

Originally posted at Maria Lima. You can comment here or there.

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