Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Best Little Whorehouse rides again!

It should come as a surprise to exactly no one that I have Google alerts set up for any news media mention of the Chicken Ranch and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. This gets me a lot of school lunch menus ("chicken ranch wrap") but occasionally something interesting shows up, such as that time in 2014 when my in-box filled up with alerts about a new Broadway revival of Whorehouse. Surprisingly, the play has never returned to Broadway following its initial record-breaking run (although a sequel, The Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public, made it through 16 performances in 1994), although numerous regional performances and a national tour headlined by Ann-Margret have kept the show in continuous production. The revival was to be headed up by none other than Tony Award-winning director/choreographer Rob Ashford, and would debut sometime in 2015.

And then... nothing. Ashford spent most of 2015 in the UK working on an number of projects with Kenneth Branagh, none of which involved whorehouses or Texas. I finally got a publishing deal for my book, and rewrote a bit in the final chapter to make only a vague reference to the proposed play. It seemed like Whorehouse revival was one of many announced projects that would come to naught. Until, that is, last week, when a cryptic news alert popped up saying Kristin Chenoweth would participate in a reading of Whorehouse. There wasn't much else to go along with that, but my interest was piqued. Then yesterday, my in-box exploded with this and this and this and this. Wow. Those certainly filled in more of the blanks. It looks like we may be getting our Whorehouse revival after all!

So let's break this down, shall we? Chenoweth headed up a "private industry reading" yesterday, filling the role of Miss Mona. Presumably, news of the "private" reading was intentionally leaked to the media to start building buzz for the production. I suppose it worked. The reading was at the behest of Ashford, the only directorial talent associated thus far with the revival and apparently still in on the project. Readings are the first step toward fleshing out a production, which choreography and set design and all the other fun stuff coming later. Chenoweth's one of the biggest Broadway stars working today, so it's safe to say that she's not just filling is as a placeholder--this thing is finally moving forward, and Chenoweth is the new incarnation of Miss Mona Stangley. This is interesting casting, apart from that Chenoweth's popularity makes her an obvious choice. She's from Oklahoma, the same as Chicken Ranch madam Edna Milton was. And she's roughly the same age as Miss Edna when the place closed down. Unlike the originator of the role, Carlin Glynn, an actress who learned to sing for the part, Chenoweth's got serious vocal range. She'll certainly do better in the role than Ann-Margret, whose vocal performance in the national touring show was regrettable, to say the least.

The rest of the listed cast for the reading is interesting as well. The name that jumped out to me was Kevin McKidd as Sheriff Ed Earl Dodd. I have no idea if McKidd can sing or not (I'd cast Lyle Lovett, actually, had I any say in the matter) but HOLY MOLY LUCIUS VORENUS IS GONNA BE THE SHERIFF! I absolutely adored Rome, and in many, many ways it paved the way for HBO's Game of Thrones. The one thing that gives me pause is his age--he's only in his early 40s, and actually younger than Chenoweth. That's a bit disconcerting, as the sheriff in the play (and reality) was significantly older. I hope they're not trying to recapture the magic of Burt Reynolds from the film (that's sarcasm there).

Another big name attached is Jennifer Holliday, who hit the big time on Broadway starring in Dreamgirls back in the 80s. She won a Tony award for her performance and launched a successful R&B singing career, picking up a Grammy in 1983. I guarantee she's gonna knock the hell out of "Twenty-Four Hours of Lovin'" on stage. Other participants in the reading include Christopher Sieber as Melvin P. Thorpe, James Naughton as the Governor, Kerry Butler as Doatsey Mae, Heléne Yorke as Angel, Madeline Brewer as Shy and Greg Hildreth as Mayor Rufus Poindexter. And that's just the main roles--various Aggies, Chicken Ranch ladies, Angelettes and the like are also listed in various reports. The long and short of this is that one doesn't assemble so much talent together for a private, one-off "Our Gang" type of show. This isn't Spanky, Darla and Alfalfa up on an orange crate stage singing "Hello, hello, hello, we hope you like our show!" This thing is really happening, Twitter is abuzz and the fact that we know all about it is a huge sign that their promotional team is kicking it into gear.

The original run of Whorehouse lasted 1,584 performances in the 46th Street Theatre, a record that stands today. Interestingly enough, that venue, now known as the Richard Rodgers Theatre, is currently host to the uber-smash Hamilton, an odds-on favorite to break that Whorehouse record in a few years. Even so, with this cast and director, plus its decades-long absence from Broadway, I expect this new incarnation of Whorehouse to be a huge hit. And maybe, just maybe, the theatre's souvenir/memorabilia shop will stock Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse alongside tee-shirts, caps, programs and posters. At least, that's my dream. A run of 1,584 performances would translate into a whole heck of a lot of books sold, wouldn't it?

If you can't wait for the Broadway premiere and you live in Central Texas, you're in luck, because the San Pedro Playhouse in San Antonio is gearing up for its own production of Whorehouse, with opening night just a little more than a week away:

Now Playing: The Beatles Abbey Road
Chicken Ranch Central

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Backyard fruit

This year's been an interesting one for me in my efforts to build up a backyard orchard. I lost a couple of trees at the end of last year to the drought, but this spring replaced them and expanded and improved upon the number and variety of growing things I had in the ground, as I shared here and here. Our very wet spring has been good for my plantings--despite several instances of flooding (none that threatened the house) our property drains very quickly, so the trees and shrubs are happy. We went for three weeks in June with no rain and high temperatures, so I had to do a little supplemental watering for those trees that've only been in the ground since the crack of spring, but we've had a couple of nice rains in the past week that have added a nice injection of water to the soil. It's always nice when the inevitable return of the drought is put off by another few weeks.

Unexpectedly, I'm getting some fruit production this year. First up, the Dwarf Barbados Cherry bushes I planted out front not only flowered but are fruiting. I chose these for the front primarily because they're native and generally deer-resistant, but the fact they also produce edible fruit (although not a true cherry) did have some bearing on my decision. That's a photo of one above. The good news is that they're not bitter or sour as I've heard some Barbados Cherries can be. The bad news is they have no discernable taste at all. Astonishingly bland for something so bright and cheery. The plants are still young and small, so this may change in time, but I doubt many of these fruit will be eaten by anything that's not a bird. They bushes are quite attractive, though.

Next up is a Cherry of the Rio Grande. Again, not a true cherry, and the "Rio Grande" part of the name refers to a region of Brazil, not the river that comprises the Texas/Mexico border. I have two trees, both currently in pots with their eventual destination being an as-yet unmade bed on the south face of our home, where they and a handful of banana plants and passion fruit vines will theoretically form a vegetative screen to shade the house from the brutal Texas sun. I've read online that many people have found these reluctant to fruit, yet these trees--still small, maybe 4 feet high--have 8-10 fruit growing quite nicely on them. I took this photo a week ago and they've since swollen up to larger than a quarter and getting bigger. Plus, the bushes are flowering again. I don't know if they just like being potted, I got some that are less shy about fruiting or having two just increases the yield, but this early performance is encouraging. I hope they taste good.

Another addition that's bearing fruit this year is the Goji berry. I planted one last year that's grown quite well this year, but it flowered a lot last summer and set no fruit, meaning it's one of the non-self-fertile types. So I picked up another type, a named variety (can't recall the name) at Tractor Supply Co., of all places, and planted it next to the original. Turns out the newcomer is self-fertile. It's not grown much but it's flowering like there's no tomorrow and producing a lot of fruit. The fruit mature quickly, but birds were gobbling up everything until I set a plastic owl out there. I tried a couple of the red-orange fruit and was disappointed to find them mildly sweet but mostly bitter. Not sure if they were fully ripe or not, but will try again in the future. The larger, original bush I planted is growing well but has yet to flower this season.

The big surprise was found on my Li jujube tree. I guess it wasn't much of a surprise since the Li flowered last year and is reputed to be self-fertile, but I found a dozen fruit growing on it. Planting Black Sea and Shanxi Li jujubes on either side of it (they both flowered) this spring probably didn't hurt. I've never had a jujube, so I'm looking forward to trying some this year. Unfortunately, my local birds haven't had jujube either and seem intent on trying the fruit out--even though it's still mostly green. Several fruit have been nibbled on far too aggressively for my liking, so it looks like the plastic owl will be making a move in the near future.

Not pictured are the blackberries my Ouachita and Natchez produced this year without even being properly pruned and trained. The berries were plump and sweet, but I have to admit missing that acid bite one finds in dewberries. Still, the blackberries didn't last long and we even beat the birds to some of them. I'm definitely looking forward to next year when I expect more of my efforts to bear (heh) fruit.

Now Playing: The Beatles 1962-1966
Chicken Ranch Central

Monday, June 27, 2016

Chicken Ranch report no. 74: Dolph Briscoe and more!

On this date in 2010, former Texas Governor Dolph Briscoe died at the age of 87 at his home in Uvalde. He was the last Texas governor to serve a two-year term and the first to serve a four-year term. He once appointed a dead man to a state commission but is probably best known for his role in shutting down the Chicken Ranch brothel.

In other news, Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouseis now available as an ebook for Kindle! So all of you cutting-edge types who've put dead tree books behind you may now pre-order the digital version.

Finally, I have one more pretty cool announcement. San Antonio's San Pedro Playhouse is staging a production of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas starting July 8 and running through August 7. Awesome, right? But here's where it gets even better: I will be there before the 3 p.m. Sunday matinee performances July 10, 17, 24, 31 and August 7, discussing all things Chicken Ranch, giving away some nifty goodies and maybe, just maybe, selling some advanced copies of my book before the official release date! Shhhhh! Don't tell anyone!

In any event, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas is a fantastic musical and a rollicking good time. If you've only ever seen the uneven Dolly Parton film version, you owe it to yourself to hie thee over to the Playhouse and see the original version. See you there!

Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse is now listed on both and for pre-order.

Title: Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse
Author: Jayme Lynn Blaschke
Publication Date: August 1, 2016
ISBN: 978.1.46713.563.4

Ghosts of the Chicken Ranch is still available:

Now Playing: Michael Kamen The Adventures of Baron Munchausen
Chicken Ranch Central

Friday, June 24, 2016

Friday Night Videos

Friday Night Videos

One of the most glorious pieces of WFT? genius from the 1990s was "Mad About the Mouse" which collected a wide array of popular artists to put their own spin on classic Disney songs. The results, as with any anthology project, range from "brilliant" to "meh" to "OMG I can't believe this exists." LL Cool J's cover of "Big Bad Wolf" falls into the latter category. You're welcome.

Previously on Friday Night Videos... The Hollies.

Now Playing: Dire Straits Brothers in Arms
Chicken Ranch Central

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Chicken Ranch report no. 73: So... this happened

So, today was quite eventful. I accomplished quite a bit--some pretty cool things are breaking in my favor--and I was all set to blog about them when I got home this evening. Then this happened:

Jayme looks at his first copies of Inside the Chicken Ranch


Oh my. I'm giddy. This is seven years of my life here, a project that I originally thought would demand maybe six months of effort, tops. Instead it turned into my own personal albatross, a Sisyphean stone that took on rectangular form with pages that flapped in between the stony covers. There were times I thought it might never see print. But now it's a real, tangible thing in my hands. And let me tell you, it's a handsome book. It's a hefty book. I mean, it is substantial. Until now I hadn't realized how much of a presence 110,000 words were, plus two appendices, plus 741 endnotes, plus an index... Nobody will mistake it for one of George R.R. Martin's books, true, but that doesn't mean you couldn't inflict serious injury on someone if you flung it at them hard enough. The pages are of semi-glossy stock, slick and smooth and very kind to the 100 illustrations included therein. Physically, it's dense. I'm very pleased with how it turned out.

And yes, I've already found typos. Thanks for asking.

Since I have a for-true book now, I suppose it apropos that I share the for-true book signings I have on the calendar for the coming months:

I will be at BookPeople in Austin on August 15 at 7 p.m.

I will be at the Twig in San Antonio on August 19 at 7 p.m.

I will be at the Memorial Student Center Bookstore on the Texas A&M University campus prior to the A&M-UCLA football game September 3, and again October 8 prior to the A&M-Tennessee football game. Signing times are yet to be determined.

That's not all, folks. I've got more groovy events in the works that I'll be sharing in the coming weeks. This is going to be an exciting autumn for me!

Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse is now listed on both and for pre-order.

Title: Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse
Author: Jayme Lynn Blaschke
Publication Date: August 1, 2016
ISBN: 978.1.46713.563.4

Ghosts of the Chicken Ranch is still available:

Now Playing: Dire Straits Alchemy
Chicken Ranch Central

Monday, June 20, 2016

Comicpalooza in the rearview mirror

So I rousted myself early Saturday morning to make the trek to Houston for Comicpalooza!--no small feat, since Saturday is normally the only day of the week I get to sleep in. The drive in on I-10 was uneventful and I arrived at 11 a.m. with plenty of time to wander around before my lone panel of the day. First up, I have to say these mega-sized pop culture conventions aren't my favorite, simply because they're so overwhelming. It's not terribly easy to run into people you know and the media celebrities dominate with their cattle-call autograph and photo lines. That said, it's the nature of the beast these days, and as far as spectacle went, there was more than enough to entertain in the dealers room alone.

Cosplayers were out in full force. There were more Whovians and the Scooby Gang, Adventure Timers and Power Puff Girls, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica and more Star Wars Jedi, Stormtroopers and Mandalorians than I've ever seen. There was a lightsabre parade that probably totaled 300 folks once all was said and done. The fascinating thing was that there were as many, if not more, women cosplaying as men, and the age distribution was a good representation of the general population as well, with teens and 20-somethings outnumbering the greybeards by a wide margin. After seeing how anemic recent Worldcon costume contests have become in recent years, and the constant lament about the aging attendance of local genre cons, I have to wonder if they will ever start taking cues from the success of these events to boost their own appeal. Adding high-profile YA guests could be a good start, but we'll see. One thing that surprised me was the high number of Steven Universe cosplayers. Two of my favorites (below) were girls dressed up as characters from the baseball episode. That was just fun. I hadn't realized the popularity of that show, I suppose.

One of the highlights of the con for me was NASA's display, set up between the dealers area and Artists' Alley, adjacent to the massive Maker Space. A full-size mockup of the Orion spacecraft was on display. I'd known about this, since I saw news reports about it being trucked in to Houston for the event (closing down highways in the process). It's impressive in person, but I expected it to be larger. It's certainly larger than the Apollo command module, yeah, but not that much bigger. To carry a larger crew on the long-duration missions NASA is talking about--even if there are mission-specific habitation modules for the crew--one would think the primary craft would be larger. On the downside, NASA had a nice vendor section set up with shirts, hats, pins and other collectibles that I couldn't purchase, because their card reader went down. Ah well. In any event, I got some good photos of the Orion itself. I have to say I'm unreasonably pleased with the fact NASA chose to name it after my 10-year-old son.

My lone panel, "Workshop: Revising Your Drafts," went off about as well as could be expected. The literary track is something of an afterthought at Comicpalooza, from what I can tell, and despite good intentions some things were just off. My panel description said that we'd be distributing 1,000-word first draft pieces for groups to "revise." That really didn't make any sense, because there's no right or wrong way to do such a thing. And you can't really have a writers workshop without people bringing in their work to workshop, and there'd been no mechanism set up to allow such a thing. Plus, there were only two hours allocated. So instead we had a freewheeling two hour panel discussing various approaches to revisions, using critique groups and beta readers, that sort of thing. J. Cathleen Cheney, Katherine Catmull and Heather Poinsett Dunbar tolerated my antics, fortunately, and contributed insightful and witty commentary during the discussion. Without their input, it's have been a very poor panel. As it was, we filled the allotted time and could've continued quite a bit longer.

Another highlight was wandering through Artists Alley and stumbling upon unexpected folks, such as legendary comics author John Ostrander, below. Had I known he'd be at the con I'd have brought some of the many, many books of his I'd bought over the years. As I was, I stopped to tell him how much I enjoyed his run on Firestorm way back in the day, and expressed my desire to see a return of Shadowstorm. Ostrander said he thought DC had brought back Shadowstorm, before correcting himself that no, that was actually Earth-2's Deathstorm. I gave him a postcard for my new Chicken Ranch book, which prompted him to start talking about the Everleigh Club from his old Chicago stomping grounds, which in turn prompted us to share our mutual admiration for the works of Karen Abbott. Convention conversations are fun that way.

Elsewhere, I ran into old friend John Picacio (above) and saw, in passing, Arianne "Tex" Thompson, Martha Wells and Troyce Wilson, although things were rushed and we didn't have any meaningful conversation. I also ran into Alan Porter (below), who will be returning to Texas on a permanent basis next month. Coolness! Alan was kind enough to invite me to dinner after my panel, during which we shared our collective bafflement over how the recent James Bond movies have managed to totally go off the rails and utterly bungle the re-introduction of Blofeld and SPECTRE. I opined that the series should introduce Nena Blofeld (from John Gardner's Bond books) and Alan allowed the idea had merit, and I was delighted that he agreed with me that the Moonraker novel (which is pretty much as unlike the absurd movie of the same name as possible) could be updated and adapted to a smashing Bond film ("The last, great, unfilmed Bond novel" is how Alan put it). If publishers were smart, they'd give Alan a contract to write a few novels in the Bond series--after all, he's already written an exhaustive encyclopedia on the character, which should be published pretty soon now.

After dinner, I headed out the crowded Hilton doorway and just about trampled little Tara Reid. She was there as a celebrity star of Sharknado, which isn't as dubious a distinction as being an expert on the Chicken Ranch, but it's got to be pretty close. I've known she's not a large woman, but I'd never realized she was such a waif. She was so thin as to border on emaciated. I'm glad I didn't actually trample her, because I probably outweighed her by 200 pounds and could've done some lasting damage. My close brush with celebrity behind me, I braved the stormy weather out to the satellite parking lot to my car and had and uneventful drive home. The end.

Now Playing: Astrud Gilberto Astrud Gilberto's Finest Hour
Chicken Ranch Central

Friday, June 17, 2016

Friday Night Videos

Friday Night Videos

I first heard the Hollies' "Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress" in the spring of 1989 and completely fell in love with it. It took me quite a few more years, however, to appreciate the fact that it was probably the greatest John Fogerty homage ever recorded, even though Fogerty despised the song and even tried to sue the Hollies. I'd love to hear a Fogerty cover, but that'll never happen, as John does like to hold his grudges. Apart from that, this video clearly shows that 80s rockers weren't the only ones who made poor fashion decisions. (Huh. Looks like I already ran this one back in 2009... but I don't actually remember doing so, and I'm in a Hollies mood, so we'll go with the repeat).

Previously on Friday Night Videos... Def Leppard.

Now Playing: Billy Joel Cold Spring Harbor
Chicken Ranch Central

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Chicken Ranch report no. 72: Banner!

Well, lookit this. A goofy-looking fat man went and got himself a fancy-pants vertical banner to use at book signings and the like. Presumably because he's such a shrinking violet that nobody would notice him otherwise.

Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch vertical banner

Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse is now listed on both and for pre-order.

Title: Inside the Texas Chicken Ranch: The Definitive Account of the Best Little Whorehouse
Author: Jayme Lynn Blaschke
Publication Date: August 1, 2016
ISBN: 978.1.46713.563.4

Ghosts of the Chicken Ranch is still available:

Now Playing: Billy Joel Piano Man
Chicken Ranch Central

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Chicken Ranch report no. 71: Der Spiegel Online

I'm back from vacation! Did you miss me? Did you even notice I was gone? I didn't think so. The family and I went on a cruise to the Easter Caribbean--the first time we've ever ventured to that part of the world--and in true Griswold fashion, a tropical storm formed right over us as our ship approached Key West. Things never got rough for us, but everything was kind of off-kilter from that point on. Not the most satisfying vacation, but The Wife and I drank many fruity drinks and eventually got to see Hemmingway's house, so it wasn't a total bust.

What's this got to do with the Chicken Ranch? Nothing, really, except for the fact the first thing I did upon my return was prep for an interview with Der Spiegel Online. "What's that?" you may ask. Why, it's simply one of the oldest and largest German news magazines, with print circulation in excess of 800,000. Now, I'm not going to be featured in the print edition, but rather the online version, which has its own editorial staff and operates independently of the parent magazine, although they're both part of the same company. And Spiegel Online is one of the most heavily trafficked news websites in Europe. So, yay!

Jasmin Lörchner, a freelance journalist who does a lot of work for Spiegel, contacted me a couple weeks ago wanting to discuss the Chicken Ranch for an article. She did some research and I did some vacationing in the interim, and once our schedules connected we talked for more than an hour and a half. She asked thoughtful questions and got more details out of me than I'd initially planned on offering. I'm sure she didn't expect to have so many random tangents thrown at her, as one thought often reminded me of another point I thought relevant to whatever we were discussing at that moment. All in all, it was a good deal of fun. The very idea of the Chicken Ranch is somewhat absurd on the surface, but once you start going through all 170-plus years of history associated with it (many of said years being somewhat dubious in authenticity) it quickly becomes apparent just how outrageous and unbelievable the entire saga actually is.

In any event, the article should run in a few weeks. Jasmin has promised to give me a heads-up in advance of publication, so I can share with all of you faithful readers. The one drawback is that the article will be in German, which, despite my surname, I don't actually speak or read. On the bright side, the German language rights to my book are still available, so maybe this will spur some editor in Berlin to drop me a line. One can hope!

Now Playing: Jimmy Buffett Feeding Frenzy
Chicken Ranch Central

Friday, June 10, 2016

Friday Night Videos

Friday Night Videos

Def Leppard was huge during my high school years and I listened to their stuff just like all my classmates, buying their CDs and whatnot. For some reason, the band hasn't aged well for me. There's a sameness to their music so that it almost becomes a parody of itself. I always did like "Hysteria" though, moreso than most others I'd say. A lot of their songs get heavy airplay on 80s stations, but this one gets overlooked. Probably because it's understated. That's probably what I like about it.

Previously on Friday Night Videos... AC/DC.

Now Playing: Jimmy Buffett Boats, Beaches, Bars & Ballads
Chicken Ranch Central

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Office build-along, pt. 4

I started my office build-along project here, ago, and last week I gave an update on my progress. It's been a while, because all this rain we've been getting makes it hard to work when I've got to spread out and let stains/stealers dry.

Last week I had a few clear days so embarked on the next phase of my project. The walls of my office are textured drywall, not suitable for the backing of my bookshelves. At the old house, I was closing off a large interior window, so I used 3/4 inch finished plywood to do the job and that worked well. Here, such thickness would be a liability, so I needed something thin. Unfortunately, most interior "paneling" is very 70s-ish and cheesy. Plus, it's all pre-finished and nothing really matched the walnut look I'm going with. Not what I wanted. And you'd be surprised how difficult it is to find unfinished paneling. Finally, after much frustration, I found some think sheets of lauan at McCoys. I'd never heard of it before. Apparently, it was more common in the 50s and 60s than it is today. It's euphemistically referred to as "Philippine mahogany," which is funny because nobody is going to confuse it with mahogany. Plus, it's cheap.

It's a light wood, but it has nice whorls of contrasting grain, so my hope was that it'd approximate the rich walnut contrast I got with the oak cabinets, rather than the blotchy indifference of the birch cabinet. The Minwax Special Walnut stain brushed on nice and dark, which was encouraging. Application went on fairly evenly and quickly. This was good, because I had five of these panels to do.

You're supposed to let the Minwax soak in for 5-15 minutes, depending on how deep a stain is desired. Since it took me about 20 minutes to apply the stain to the entire sheet of paneling, I picked up a rag as soon as I set the brush down and began to wipe it down to pick up any surplus stain from the wood. I did about three quarters of the sheet, then let the final quarter--the last section I applied--a few extra minutes of set time so it'd more closely match the tone of the other wood. I don't think I needed to have bothered. The lauan soaked up the stain readily, and there was very little the rag wiped up. And--yay!--the grain differentiated itself very nicely. This was good.

What's not so good is that the cheap nature of this paneling started showing its true nature. One side's finished, which means it's sanded smooth and, apparently, a filler is applied to even out grooves, divots and other blemishes in the wood. That's fine, as most higher-quality plywoods are treated like this. Sand, stain and be done with it. No big deal. Not so here. Whatever kind of filler used on the lauan, it's orange. And what's worse, it doesn't appear to take stain. At all. And it's all over the wood. Look at the examples below to see what I mean:

It's pretty hideous, right? Fortunately, it's not obvious from a few feet away. Looking at the image of a finished panel below, you'd think it looks pretty good. And it's mostly going to be hidden behind books anyway, so I can live with the imperfections. And the more I thought about how the paneling's going to be hidden behind books, the more inclined I was to make a decision I normally wouldn't. I'm cutting a corner by not applying the second coat of dark walnut stain to the paneling. Would it make the wood look better? Probably. Better enough to be worth the extra day of effort? Not really. And would it hide the orange filler? Doubtful. I believe my next step will be to get some sanding sealer and apply it to the paneling to get a nice, smooth surface. Sanding sealer is easier to work with than polyurethane, and while it's not as durable, it's only going to serve as backing and won't suffer the wear and tear the shelf surfaces will. I think it'll be fine that way.

Now Playing: Various artists The Very Best of Burlesque
Chicken Ranch Central

Monday, June 06, 2016


Believe it or not, the folks over at Comicpalooza in Houston have invited me to be an actual guest on their literary track programming. Because of some unfortunate scheduling conflicts, I'll only be able to make it there Saturday, June 18. But my visit should be an eventful one--I'm heading up a two-hour workshop on manuscript revisions:

Workshop: Revising Your Drafts
Saturday June 18, 2016 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Revising a draft is quite possibly one of the most important things any writer will ever do. In fact, it’s so important that it can literally make or break your career. The panelists will spend the first part of the workshop going over the techniques for revising, which include reading over the piece line by line, restructuring and reordering paragraphs, fixing errors and rewriting entire sections. The second part of the workshop will be an exercise. The participants will be split into groups and given 1,000-word pieces to revise. These can be 1,000-word pieces submitted by the audience (if cleared ahead of time) or stock pieces prepared by the panelists beforehand. The panelists will participate and supervise the exercise. The revisions don’t have to be written out; marking down what should be changed is enough. At the end, each revised piece will be appraised by the entire workshop.
Panel Room 15 (352D)
Jayme Lynn Blaschke
Katherine Catmull
J. Kathleen Cheney
Christopher Dunbar
Heather Poinsett Dunbar
It should be an interesting evening--I've never participated in a "workshop" structured quite like this, so it could be worth attending just to watch the trainwreck in action.

Now Playing: Genesis ...And Then There Were Three
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