Williamsburg Bowling Tournament, April 2018

Williamsburg Bowling TournamentWilliamsburg Bowling Tournament

I am proving a glutton for punishment on the bowling lanes as I continue to return to Williamsburg, Virginia. Last year I posted about the conditions the Williamsburg tournament presents to one and all.

This year, only four of us ventured to Williamsburg the weekend of 7-8 April. Others selected different weekends. Trying different weekends didn’t change the lane conditions or the resulting scores.

Bowling at 1300, 1 pm if you use the 12-hour clock, place us on the lanes after other shifts have bowled. This means the lanes are drier than on the earlier shifts. This condition is not one we normally face and, as last year, resulting in lower scores for every one of us.

Expectations

I have bowled long enough to realize one must adjust to the condition. I, also, know sometimes only a limited adjustment can be made with the bowling balls one has with him. This year I thought I had enough variety in coverstock and drilling pattern to match the condition with one.

I was correct in this assumption if I had been better suited mentally. I think I allowed last year’s results to color my expectations for this year. As soon as I threw the first practice ball, I felt my scores would be low. I was toasted at this point, and my scores reflected my expectation.

Sunday, I entered with grander expectations. I had a mediocre first game but followed with an excellent second and third game. The three-game total was better than four of Saturday’s game total.

What lessons learned this weekend? Expectations cannot overcome physical conditions. However, they can affect how you approach a situation, and the amount of enjoyment garnered.

Next Year

skeeze / Pixabay

Will we be back again next year? Today the discussion was first maybe not. After better scores, the discussion moved to maybe. As the equipment was moved off the lanes, it was probably if we could get the first shift on both days. Time will tell, but I think all of us will weather another Williamsburg tournament next year, if for no other reason than the opportunity to bowl with friends.

Tell me if you have you ever competed in a sporting event purely for the comradery using the comment form.

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Cameron Reunion, Texans and Ohioians

Friday

My wife and I spent part of the Easter weekend with members of the Cameron Clan living in Ohio. The rest spent traveling to Ohio and back home. We found the drive safe. The weather cooperated, and only a small part of Friday’s trip saw rain.

at Cameron

Ronald McDonald Cameron

Ronald McDonald Cameron heads these branches of the Cameron tree. My wife’s father was James Alexander Cameron, Jr. He and Ronald are cousins making Ronald my wife’s first cousin once removed. He will be 92-years-old on 23 April 2018.

Many families spent the weekend visiting with family, but for us, it was the first time to meet these relatives. Eighteen months ago we learned this branch of the Cameron tree lived just a short eight-hour drive away. They were having an Easter Sunday luncheon and invited us. It was time to meet them.

We met Jennifer, one of my wife’s second cousins, Friday evening. After the hugs, we spent several hours getting to know each other and learning the weekend schedule. Each of us expected a busy weekend.

Saturday

Heather, my wife’s sister, flew from Texas to join the family reunion on Saturday.  While waiting for her to arrive, we attended Jennifer’s granddaughter’s third birthday party. We met her children and grandchildren. (More persons to add to the family tree I maintain.) We spent the rest of the day and evening meeting more cousins and their in-laws. We met Jennifer’s sister Heather and brothers Colin and Gordan. The evening ended with everyone going to dinner at a small eatery and bar in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

The eatery sits near an old train station. The space where the rails once ran has been paved over and makes a wonderful bike path. This is a picture of the train station.

Old Yellow Springs, Ohio train station

Sunday – Cameron Reunion

Cameron Tartan and Crest

Sunday started with picking up a special cake. The cake top had the Cameron tartan and crest. We took the cake to the nursing home where Ronald lived.  He joined us before the families arrived. They warned us he was a special character, and he proved to be such. Ronald, almost 92, entertained us with stories of family, singing, and telling jokes.

Animated conversations followed the potluck luncheon. Several centered on the Texan branch and others on the Ohio side. Pictures followed every discussion to commemorate the occasion. Cell phone batteries died by the score.

We packed to leave for the drive home and were in the car when called back. The piper had arrived. We rejoined them. A cousin’s son entertained everyone with two Scottish bagpipe renditions. It was a proper conclusion to the reunion of members of a Scottish Clan and those of us lucky enough to have married into it.

We left promising to return soon.

Tell me how you spent the weekend using the comment form.

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Bowling Movie Star Dreamer

bowling videoI have dreamed of being a movie star, in my dreams. The desire peaked with the release of The Kingpin. It is a movie about bowling and bowling is the only sport I am proficient. I tried golf and my scores equaled or surpassed mine on the lanes (triple digits).

Two left feet has kept me off Dancing with the Stars. There are other sports, but all of them require chasing a ball or running. Bowling only requires a few steps, swinging my arm and releasing a round object onto the lane, and waiting for the ball to come back. Perfect sport for me.

The Kingpin came out in 1996. I hoped for a sequel that I could read for. I became a professional bowler in 1997 and felt I had the qualifications for a walk-on role.  Since the sequel was never made, my dreams of being a movie star remained unfulfilled.

How to become a star

Unfulfilled until last week. I now am a role player in a bowling movie. The producer was seeking bowlers for a movie she was making. She had several scenes requiring someone to bowl while she filmed. She wanted a selection of bowlers from young to mature (older is not a nice word for a 70-year-old.) I petitioned for my grandchildren, secretly wanting to make them stars.

I found that acting is not all it is cracked up to be as I sat while the younger actors, Elizabeth, Autumn, and Bradley performed for the camera. Watching other actors act can be boring.

My turn finally came. I eagerly donned my shoes and bowling glove. I cut and applied bowler’s tape to my thumb (covering an old callus) and carried my bowling ball to the lanes.

Star is born

Then it started. The Director required I make some deliveries of the ball to allow her to evaluate camera angles. I must have made twenty such shots before she said we would start taping.

I delivered shot after shot as the camera moved forward, back, higher or lower. The director asked for some shots to pass under the camera sixty-feet away from me. This taxed my shot making skill since the camera was moved to several spots over the lane. I was continually cautioned not to damage the camera. How could I be blamed for damaging the camera when someone should move it before the ball struck it.

The director called an end to the recording session. I collected my equipment and stored it. I was not privy to the raw footage and must wait to see what is left after editing.

Raw film becomes the movie

The attached video is the result of my wife’s efforts. It was for a beginner’s video editing class. She has received good reviews online from course classmates and friends.

I hope you enjoy the video as much as we enjoyed making it. (I am the fellow at the far end of the alley delivering a bowling ball. Wouldn’t I make a great extra in a sequel to The Kingpin?) If you want an autograph, email me or comment using the form.

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NLS Athena at Virginia Beach Spring Classic

 

TVirginia Beach Spring Classichis past weekend, my wife and I took a mini-vacation to Virginia Beach, Virginia. We took my daughter, my eleven-year-old granddaughter, and our four-year-old grandson with us. We went to enable my granddaughter to play with NLS Athena in the Virginia Beach Spring Classic soccer tournament.

We left early Saturday morning to make the first game which started at noon. Athena’s coach wanted the team present for warm-up by 11:15. We arrived at the soccer center with thirty minutes to spare.

Athena took control of the game from the first whistle. They scored in the first two minutes. Halftime found them leading by four goals to none. The second half mirrored the first with Athena scoring four more goals. Their opponents could not put the ball in the goal but received a gift when an Athena player scored an own goal. Final was 8-1 in favor of Athena.

The second game started at 4 pm. Once more Athena scored in the first minutes. The game settled as the two teams exchanged possessions. As the first half was winding to an end, Athena permitted a goal from outside the box. The ball sailed over the goalkeeper’s head, just under the bar. Halftime score 1-1.

The first ten minutes of the second half saw each team driving the ball into their opponent’s half without scoring. Then Athena suffered a defensive breakdown on a throw-in by the opponent. The ball popped up off one player, not sure which team she played for, before being headed by an opponent into the goal. Athena had their chances but couldn’t get another score. The game ended with Athena on the short side 1-2.

Athena still could make the finals if they won the noon game on Sunday. They saw this opportunity vanish when the game ended in a tie. Tournament results: Athena one win, one loss, one tie.

nls athenaThis tournament is the last my granddaughter will play for this coach. He played his starting lineup exclusively when Athena was even or losing. He let four young ladies stand on the sideline on a 30 degree, windy day waiting to get into the game and help their team.

I wouldn’t find this an issue if he didn’t call these young ladies out in a team conference. He told them they were not being played because they missed practices or were not playing up to his standards (hard was his word.). In defense of the ladies, they don’t drive and have little control over their availability at practices. I believe in the minds of these ladies; they were playing hard. Embarrassing them in front of their teammates was inexcusable. These were 11 or 12-year-old young ladies and deserved better.

Their parents deserved better. This was an away tournament. The coach should have told them their young ladies wouldn’t play many minutes if any, and the reasons. Then, the parents could decide if they wanted to drive the four hours each way, bear the expense of a rental room, etc. to watch their daughter stand on the sidelines through the hour-long games.

I am interested in hearing your opinions on whether this was proper conduct for the coach. Use the comment form to give me your thoughts.

 

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Conversation versus Dialogue

dialogue conversationThe draft novel is written with the final words “The End” displayed on the last page. The easy part accomplished, and the work to get it suitable for publication is undertaken.

Scene 1 introduces the characters and sets up the coming conflict. The hook set to keep readers reading. Confidence grows.

Scene 2 brings in the supporting characters. The narrative reads well. Confidence remains positive.

Conversation versus Dialogue

Scene 2.5 has several characters together. This scene is sparse on narrative, relying on the characters interacting via dialogue. The writer spits out lines for Character A. Then come some for Character B. The two exchange lines for nearly two pages before Character B leaves in a huff. Character A spends several sentences of internal narrative before Scene 3 starts.

Reading the scene’s revisions, something is off. What might it be?

Scene 1 had received several small word changes. Scene 2 starts well, but Scene 2.5 rubs wrong. There is little narrative, but the characters have plenty to say. There is no zing in the conversation. Character B’s response to what Character A says is artificial, as is A’s to B’s.

Ah, the problem is a conversation is not dialogue. At least, not in a novel where the reader can act as Character B, and leave. Conversation masked as dialogue is boring and can fail to move the story forward.

What makes good dialogue?

There are many craft books dedicated to the subject. These are some that I own and read and have reread:

Writing Great Fiction-Dialogue by Gloria Kempton,

Dialogue (Busy Writer’s Guides Book 3) by Marcy Kennedy, and

How to Write Dazzling Dialogue: The Fastest Way to Improve Any Manuscript by James Scott Bell.

What are your thoughts on what makes good dialogue? Use the comment form to let me know.

 

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Amanda Post Memorial Tournament 2018

Pipeline 2008 Boy's RedThe Amanda Post Memorial Tournament again marked Pipeline Soccer Club 2008 Boys Red’s spring outdoor season. Last year, I noted the boys won one game and lost two. This year’s result was the same, 1-2.

Weather plays its role

Two days before the tournament, a windstorm hit Maryland and the East Coast. It was called a “bomb cyclone.” There was gust exceeding 60 mph. Saturday, the wind was gusting between 40 and 6o mph.

The high wind created interesting times for the boys. Multiple times on throw-ins, the wind caught the ball and pushed it out again leading to re-throws. The wind rolled balls placed for goal kicks and corner kicks. The wind caught high passes making sending the ball to teammates challenging.

Pipeline Amanda Post Memorial

Pipeline boy’s 2008 Red team has eleven boys on the roster. Only nine were available for this tournament. This created rotation challenges putting boys into roles they rarely play. The boys accepted the rotation and showed their understanding of team play and the relationship of roles.

Saturday’s Games

The boys lost the first two games. They started slowly in the first game and fell behind 1-2 in the first half. They scored once in the second half while allowing one more. The final score was SAC United Gold 1-3.

It was warmer for the second game with the temperature nearing 45 degrees and the wind dropping a few miles per hour. The boys took time to get playing up to their potential. They fell behind 0-4 at half time. The coach provided encouragement during the break which sparked the boys to a 4-2 second half performance. The final against Tri County 08 Torpedos was 4-6.

Sunday’s Game

Sunday’s game was the consolation game. The temperature was again in the 30’s and winds only gusting to 25 mph. The boys scored first and often. The final score for the game against SAC Select Hammerheads was 7-1.

Coaches, boys, and parents had hoped for a better result. The boys expressed feelings that the extreme cold and wind had affected their play in the first two games during a post tournament meeting. They accepted they could have played better, highlighted by the play in the second half of game two.

The next challenge for the team is a tournament the weekend of March 17th. Wish us luck using the comment form.

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Retirement Party

retirement partyMy wife hosted a retirement party on Saturday to fix my retirement in my mind and those of my friends.

My wife suggested the party a few weeks after I announced my retirement date to my boss and family in early November 2017.

She and my children brainstormed the details. Where and when to have it. Who to invite. Food or not, and other details which I wasn’t privy. Periodically, one of them would ask when I wanted to have the party.

Serious discussions with my wife resulted in the decision to have it at The Lanes on Fort Meade on 24 February. We have been fixtures at The Lanes since we moved to Fort Meade in 1985. She worked there as a night shift manager, and, for a time, as an administrative assistant. Both of us have been league secretaries of mixed and men’s leagues for almost twenty years. Though not the only location considered, it became our choice.

I left the details to my wife. She made the arrangements. She reserved the venue, ordered food and refreshments, and issued invitations. Her coup de grâce was baking and decorating two cakes for the retirement party.

The party is a memory now. One that will not be soon forgotten. My wife and a core group of family and friends ensured the party’s success. The food was great and there was entertainment at my expense.

I received a floppy hat called “Retirement Survival Hat” from my wife. From friends, one couple gave me a tee shirt which I wore the entire party.

Another couple brought guffaws from the crowd with gifts including several dollar store gifts-a hand clapper for when my hands hurt too much to applaud, a coloring book and large crayons for periods of boredom, a Yo-Yo when things go up and down, artic cool pain relieving gel (guess what that was for), and more gag gifts.

retirement party

I am thankful to my wife, family, and friends for taking the time to celebrate my retirement with me. Thank you to everyone who made the day special.

Would you want a retirement party when you retire? Tell me your thoughts using the comments form.

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A Writing Milestone

writing milestone

courtesy of writinggooder.com

Every week is becoming a writing milestone week in my writing career. Those who are unaware, I began my first novel less than three years ago. Since then, I completed two drafts with the first over 100k words. The second written during NaNoWriMo and is 50k. The novels need editing or revision to bring them to publication.

Aside from the novel drafts, I wrote a microstory published here and a short short story submitted to a contest.

The milestone this week was completing a first edit of the shorter draft novel.

What did editing show me about my writing?

There are multiple areas for improvement as noted here.

I am a wordy writer. I enjoy using adjectives and adverbs at every opportunity. Concise sentences reduce the word count and require disciplined writing. Additionally, more scenes needed to get the word count to an acceptable level for the genre.

I have a particular love for the word that. I use it at every opportunity. How often is that? Approximately 300 times in the 50,200+ word draft.

I enjoy passive verbs. Given the choice of active versus passive verbs, I chose passive more often.

Vague or abstract words replace precise or distinct descriptors. This enables the reader to insert himself/herself into the novel visualizing whatever comes to their mind. Should I hinder their involvement?

The Point of View (POV) character is rarely named after the first sentence of a passage. The multiple uses of he, she, him, and her in the same and connecting sentences offer the user the challenge to figure out who is taking action in the passage. Don’t readers appreciate the opportunity?

Courtesy of Buzzfeed.com

Should I continue to edit or revise?

Most certainly others are required! Consideration for the reader in mind, another editing pass is mandatory. I suspect the second may turn into five, ten, or maybe twenty revisions.

Is my experience different from yours when writing a novel? Let me hear from you using the attached form.

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My First Microstory

mcrostory

rawpixel / Pixabay

I finished a microstory today. It is my first and proved to be a greater challenge than the short-short story I recently blogged.

 

What is microstory? YourDictionary defines it as  “an extremely short story.” Mythcreants defines it this way. “The traditional definition is a story that is 300 words or fewer, making it a subset of flash fiction.”

The article focused on a tighter definition: 100 words. Microfiction Monday Magazine only publishes stories of 100 words or less. I considered other sources and decided to attempt a story 100 words or less.

I am by nature a wordy writer. I envisioned a story and wrote it. The result was over 200 words describing an event that occurred in 30 seconds or so. After several revisions and word substitutions, it was less than 100 words long.

My granddaughter played soccer last fall for Pipeline Soccer Club. One game ended in a tie and a shootout held. This became the topic of this untitled short story.

3dman_eu / Pixabay

Elizabeth watched the soccer ball fly past her team’s goalkeeper into the net.

Her team was down one goal in the championship game shootout. Bugs danced in Elizabeth’s stomach at the thought she must score, or else her team loses.

Elizabeth raced to the penalty kick area and watched the referee place the soccer ball.  She silenced the bugs by focusing on making a hard strike on the ball. She must score. The sound of the whistle startled her. Three steps and ….

The bugs died with the roar of the crowd. Score, tied!

I enjoyed the time spent on it and found it an interesting diversion from editing my draft novels.

I encourage you to tell me your thoughts on microstories, mine, and flash fiction. Use the comment form.

 

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Sleeping in, Not!

geralt / Pixabay

Week One

The first week of retirement was interesting and not what I expected. My friends told me I could sleep-in mornings once retired. Little likely I learned.

My wife is the secretary to a Monday morning bowling league. Often, she asked me to take a day off and go with her. Retired, I had no excuse. Early rise to find me at The Lanes on Fort George G. Meade. No sleep in on Monday!

The benefit of Insurance

Although I stopped going to the office and getting paid on 26 January, my insurances continued through 31 January. The wife informed me she had a dental appointment on Tuesday morning. She suggested it was an opportunity to let our dentist know our insurance profile was changing. So, early rise to suffer traffic on the 695 Baltimore beltway at near rush hour.

The receptionist made the adjustments while my wife met her appointment. Fate intervened to ensure an appointment perfect for me to get a cleaning while still insured.

How fate loves me! If there is anything wrong in my mouth, it will raise its head during a cleaning. The beast reared as a filling sought a replacement. As I was checking out, the appointment receptionist pointed out an opening on Wednesday perfect for me. More work done while still insured. How could I refuse? A 9:00 a.m. appointment, of course.

Weekday three found me again in the Baltimore near-rush hour traffic at an early hour. Would I ever be allowed to sleep in?

Sleeping In?

creozavr / Pixabay

Thursday showed up on time. I passed the early hours in dreamland. 6:10 a.m., 30 minutes later than the 5:40 I woke when working. Finally, sleeping in! After feeding the dogs who are accustomed to eating at 6:00 a.m., I crawled back under the blankets for a short nap. Retirement is great.

We went bowling Friday night. Several people queried how I enjoy being retired. My stock answer was, “It has been like a vacation. I expect in a couple of weeks I will feel more like retired.” I have taken vacations longer than a week which had days as busy as this week.

My view of retirement is days in the row devoted to writing, reading, listening to music, or watching movies without feeling guilt. Those days are not far off, I hope!

Have you had weeks as busy as this one? Are your vacations just workdays away from the office? If retired, are you enjoying it? Tell me in comments.

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