Monday, April 7, 2014

The Great Baton Blog Hop!

Having followed the Writer's Fun Zone blog for a number of years now, I'm pleased to have been invited by Beth Barany to participate in the fun. It's all about the writing process and I'll be posting my own writing processes early next week, so look for it.

Be sure to jump on over to Beth's blog site and follow the fun and learn about how we writers go about our process for writing.



James C. Wallace II
Royal Liaison of Oz

Monday, March 31, 2014

UPDATED: Food Poisoning at Red Lobster !!

 UPDATE

It's been 24 hours since I received a call from the local manager of our Terre Haute Red Lobster and I felt it neccessary to wait this long before responding as the call was very disturbing and I didn't want my initial anger to color my words.

That being said and time having passed, I'm still upset, so now I'll post my thoughts about Red Lobster's response to my blog posting of Monday.

To begin with, if you are not familiar with what occurred, please scroll down below this update for the original posting, which describes an unpleasant experience I had on Saturday at our local Red Lobster and their Lobster Fest promotion. 

So I get a call yesterday afternoon from a man who identified himself as Shawn (Sean), the manager at Red Lobster. He apologized for our unpleasant experience with their restaurant on Saturday and asked some very thorough questions regarding the food we ate. He was polite to this point and offered to send a gift card to make up for the bad experience. I expressed some concern about eating at the same place where I got ill and he reassured me that the gift card was valid at Olive Garden as well, which my wife and I both really like. This satisfied my concerns and I was pleased... for only a moment. 

Had it ended there, I would have considered the matter closed and posted a response here (as I have done with other issues in the past when dealing with customer service-related issues at other places) and praised the response and moved on. However, this Shawn/Sean felt obliged to then make a not-so-veiled implication that I was making up the whole story. "I'm not saying your making this up, but in the last several years, I have never had a single complaint like yours" was his statement. He outright accused me of lying and frankly, I found his comment to be both rude and offensive. If you have read any of my Oz books, you are well aware that Truth and Honesty are core values in the stories I write, especially since they are meant for kids and fans of the Wizard of Oz, not to mention that my parents raised me to be honest, truthful and I have imparted those values to my own 5 kids and 14 grandkids. 

As such, I will NEVER spend my money at Red Lobster again and I will certainly NEVER recommend Red Lobster to anyone... ever! No wonder Darden Restaurants are losing money with this franchise if Shawn/Sean is any indicator of the management style employed at the rest of Red Lobster's outlets.


 Previous Post Monday: March 31, 2014

Over the last few months, I had been reading where Red Lobster was facing declining sales numbers and facing a sell-off by their parent company, Darden Restaurants, and having enjoyed Red Lobster's fare in the past, I felt we should go there before it goes out of business. If my latest experience is any indicator, it won't be long before they are restaurant non grata! It turns out that I received a lovely case of food poisoning from their Lobster Fest.

Let's backtrack a bit for some background info. As I said, I've been reading reports of Red Lobster's imminent demise. So, when I started seeing ads for Lobster Fest while working up in North Dakota, I vowed to my wife that we would visit our local Red Lobster, which happens to be in Terre Haute, Indiana. We had been in the past and always enjoyed their lunch specials. Given our income back then, it was all we could afford about twice a year. Now, money is not an issue, so bring on the Lobster Fest I told myself.

So this previous Saturday, March 29, 20014, we showed up a little past 2pm and after a brief (15 minute) wait, we were seated and soon had two large Lobster Lover's plates before us. We hadn't eaten anything that day, so our appetites were quite high.

Initially, my wife was concerned about the serving temperature of the entree, but we didn't think too much over it. After paying our bill and going home, my wife felt a bit queasy and did so for the rest of the day. She was the lucky one! I also felt an initial queasiness, which soon turned into full blown diarrhea, severe stomach cramps and vomiting. I have spent the last two days confined to bed.

It's now a little over 48 hours later and, following a doctor's visit to confirm  my concerns, it does indeed turn out that I had a lovely case of food poisoning.

Thank you Red Lobster for a lovely bout of diarrhea, severe stomach cramps and vomiting. What a lovely way to spend my time off from work.

I will think long and hard about ever returning to Red Lobster, and may never if this is what I can expect from there. 

James C. Wallace II

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Rainbow Hues for Mr. Tinker of Oz



It had been over a century since Mr. Tinker had built his ladder to the Moon in hopes of picking stars for King Pastoria’s crown, only to find the Moon so lovely a place that he had pulled up his ladder and decided to make his home there.



During that time, he watched as men from Earth in very strange vehicles came flying around his home. 


He watched in amazement as a number of those strange craft would split in two, allowing one part to actually land on the surface and men would get out and take a look around. He was amazed by the strange clothing they wore and how they bounced around, picking up rocks, saluting flags and even playing golf. 



Then there was that one time when one of those very strange craft landed near his home in Mare Imbrium, which he knew as the Sea of Rains, even though it had never rained there since his arrival. 


What made the visit by the oddly dressed men from Earth very odd was the even stranger vehicle they left behind, much like a horseless carriage, which Mr. Tinker discovered could allow him to travel great distances across Mare Imbrium.



Now, Mr. Tinker found himself looking down at the lovely blue planet where his former life in the Land of Oz had once been. 


He wondered to himself how things were in the Land of Oz and was even more curious how Tik-Tok; the Mechanical Man, who he and Mr. Smith had had invented long ago, was doing. Had his mechanical works remained in good working condition, or was he now only a pile of rusting gears, wheels and cogs? 


The visit by the men from Earth and the mechanical devices they left behind had rekindled his curiosity and his desire to revisit the Land of Oz.

He looked down at the gray dirt beneath his feet and longed to see color once again. With the exception of the blues and greens of the planet Earth which crossed the skies above Mare Ibrium every twenty eight days, much like the Moon had done when he lived in Oz, the only color to be found on the Moon was gray. Be it charcoal gray, light gray or dark gray, the color of his home was gray. He found that he truly missed seeing the Great Rainbow of Oz, as well as Polychrome, Daughter of the Great Rainbow.



Mr. Tinker adjusted the control button on the little silver box which controlled the size of the air bubble that surrounded him and served as his means of breathing while living on the Moon. The bubble grew a little bit bigger and Mr. Tinker reached down and grabbed a handful of gray, lifeless dirt. He watched as the gray soil slowly ran through his fingers and down onto the gray surface beneath his feet.

“What would Mr. Smith think of my little device?” he had often thought to himself. The little silver box was indeed quite a feat of mechanical ingenuity and Mr. Tinker was certain the oddly dressed men from Earth would have loved to get their heavily gloved hands on his device.


He recalled how he had nearly suffocated upon his first try at climbing his ladder to the Moon when he first discovered that the higher he climbed, the less air there was to breath, until he found himself nearly blue in the face and had to make a very quick decent back into Oz.

On his second attempt, he had created a bubble of air which he thought would work well, only to discover that as he approached the Moon, his breathing made the air inside the bubble stale and un-breathable.

Only after much thought did Mr. Tinker finally come upon a means of providing fresh air within the bubble that he depended upon if he was going to visit the Moon and accomplish his goal of picking stars for King Pastoria’s crown. He had called it his “Breather-rator” and it worked very well, at least as long as the small copper tank that contained air from Oz remained filled.

Fortunately for Mr. Tinker, his first journey to the Moon found him wandering the South Pole, where he found that by digging into the soil just a little bit, he would come upon ice. 


This was so because comets had crashed there long ago and the craters they made at the South Pole of the Moon had never seen sunlight, so the ice from the comets never melted… ever!

Mr. Tinker, being an ingenuous sort of fellow, discovered that he could place chunks of the comet ice into the small copper tank, and by tinkering around with the mechanics of his “Breather-rator” and placing a couple of metal plates that he found attached to an odd metal device which looked like a large mechanical bug that apparently had landed elsewhere on the Moon, 


into the copper tank, he could turn the ice into water and then the water would somehow turn into two types of gas. One gas he could breath, which he assumed was air and the other was some sort of gas which burned easily when lit. Of course, Mr. Tinker didn’t know about Hydrogen and Oxygen, which are the two gases that, when combined, make water. He only knew that could breathe one gas and use the other gas for heat and to power his new home on the Moon.

It was then that Mr. Tinker, awestruck by the apparent beauty of the Moon, decided to leave Earth and Oz behind, and live on the Moon. When men from Earth had left behind their horseless carriage, it had made his life on the Moon much easier, especially when it came to gathering ice from the South Pole. 


No longer did he have to walk for days just to get there. Now, he could do it in a matter of hours.

Still though, after many years of living on the Moon, the longing for color gnawed heavily at Mr. Tinker’s soul, as did his desire to check up on the condition of Tik-Tok.

As he contemplated the conundrum of which he found himself in, Mr. Tinker found himself thinking about rainbows and green grass, the road of yellow brick, of blue skies and the clear, cool waters of Oz. 


The small dwelling that he had carved out of the mountainside which bordered Mare Imbrium seemed dull and drab compared to his memories and a sadness overwhelmed the lonely tinker from Oz.

As he often did when times like this overcame him, Mr. Tinker went about tinkering upon the mechanical devices that he had created from the remnants that the men from Earth had left behind. He was nearly finished repairing a minor fault within the “Breather-rator” which had left him without heat during the last sunset when his screwdriver slipped and tore across the dull copper surface, leaving a tiny fine scratch in the metal and a hiss of steam emitting from it.

Mr. Tinker watched as a small cloud of steam rose slowly into the shaft of brilliant sunlight that came streaming in from the little window above the small doorway of his home. He marveled at the interaction of light and steam and was pleasantly surprised when the sunlight, passing through the water vapor, created a small rainbow arcing across the back wall.


 As he stared at the arc of colors splashing across the drab, gray surface of rock, his mind began wandering, as it often did when inspiration was looking for a way out.

“Eureka!” he shouted. His excited shout echoed across the rock walls and bounced off the inner surface of the air bubble which encased his underground home.

The little tinker from Oz ran about excitedly, gathering tools and working out details in his mind. He was coming to terms with the scale of what he had in mind and the thought of it filled him with excitement and enthusiasm.

For many hours, he tinkered here and there, putting together various parts he had gathered over the years from those places where the men from earth had landed. He had to make a return trip to the landing place on the Sea of Rains, using the horseless carriage, to gather more parts. He also headed south to gather more ice for his grand plan.

Finally, he was ready to try out his newest device, which he was certain would be his greatest achievement yet. He had made all his calculations and felt certain he had all the angles right, as well as the mechanics of what he now called his “Rainbow Projector.” Now, all he had to do was wait for the coming shadow. Fortunately for Mr. Tinker, the wait was only a few hours.

As he waited, he checked his calculations and felt certain the Terran Eclipse was near at hand. He had seen a number of them before and they had never failed to fill him with awe.

Now, he set about adjusting the control knobs of his newest invention, the Rainbow Projector, and filling it with fresh ice. In the distance, Mr. Tinker could see the approaching shadow of the Earth covering the gray lunar landscape with a reddish glow. 


He turned up the heat on the metal sphere which held the ice and soon heard the hiss of steam emitting into the flange from which the large bubble of gas would form.

As the shadow drew closer to his home on the edge of the Sea of Rains, he set about positioning the large silver shroud that he had fashioned from the silver linings of the strange craft left behind by the men of Earth, atop the ever-growing bubble that was rising forth from the metal sphere.

As the silver shroud encasing the rising bubble began to gain some altitude, Mr. Tinker attached the cords he had fashioned earlier. These, in turn, were attached to the Rainbow Projector, which was now rising high above his home. It reminded him of the balloon that the Wizard of Oz had used to enter Oz long ago.


Just then, the reddish shadow of the Earth reached the edge of Mare Imbrium and Mr. Tinker realized that the time to realize his greatest dream was nearly here.

Moments later, the Terran Eclipse began as the Earth’s shadow enveloped the entire face of the Moon. 



Mr. Tinker then played out more and more of the cord tethering the Rainbow Projector until it was high above Mare Ibrium and out of the shadow which the Earth was now casting upon the Moon’s surface. He played out just a bit more cord until he came to the marking on it that told him the Rainbow Projector was just at the right altitude for what he had in mind.

No sooner had the Rainbow Projector reached its final destination high above Mare Imbrium when a most magnificent thing happened.

A brilliant shaft of sunlight struck the bubble, which by now was more than a hundred feet across and Mr. Tinker watched in awed amazement as an immense rainbow of light spread out towards the northern region of the Moon. 



If his calculations were correct, and the little tinker from Oz was certain they were, the spectrum of colors should spill out just beyond the North Pole, where no one on Earth could see.

He hopped into his horseless carriage, which his Breather-rator now encased in a bubble of air, and made for the North Pole at full speed. He knew that he had about an hour before the Terran Eclipse would be over and he desperately wanted to see the results of his work before then.

Fortunately for Mr. Tinker, his transportation made excellent time and in less than 45 minutes, he was well past the North Pole 


and looking out upon the beautiful rainbow of colors that were laid out upon the gray, dull and darkened surface of the far side of the Moon.

Mr. Tinker looked back and confirmed that the Earth was below the horizon, so he was now confident that he, and only he, could see the rainbow on the Dark Side of the Moon.



For many minutes, Mr. Tinker marveled at the beautiful colors of the rainbow which were his alone. His thoughts wandered back to the Land of Oz and the colors which he missed so very much.

Just then, the Terran Eclipse came to an end and the splash of colors from the Rainbow Projector winked out, leaving the far side of the Moon bathed once more in darkness.

The trip back to Mare Imbrium and his home was filled with both great joy at what he had accomplished as well as great sadness at how quickly it had ended. Soon, he was back inside the hollowed-out cave that was his home and the Rainbow Projector had been pulled back down. The bubble of air was packed away in the back of the cave for further use when he needed more air.



“I do believe it is time to return to Oz,” he thought to himself as the little tinker from Oz began reassembling the long ladder which had been packed away over a century ago.

James C. Wallace II
Royal Liaison of Oz

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Milky Whiskers of Oz!

Recently, I began a new adventure in my life. It's been a drastic change in both lifestyle and attitude, but I must confess that I have been pleasantly surprised with it so far.

About the only thing that I had not expected was using the port-a-johns in -22F temperatures. That was definitely not in the brochure!

The one unexpected bonus is having far more time to write, which is wonderful considering that I recently began co-writing a series of short stories with my wife, Amanda (creator of the legendary Potato Soup). We are calling the collection"Tails of Oz" and if you haven't guessed by now, it's a series of short stories, each one featuring an animal from Oz with a tail.

I recently completed a fun little story about a Flying Sock Monkey of Oz.


And now I have just begun working on another one entitled "Milky Whiskers".


It involves the Cowardly Lion, along with Dorothy, the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman.

By the time we have finished, which we hope will be early to mid-April, there should be somewhere between 10-13 stories. In addition, each story will also feature a single illustration by some of the newest artists around. It is our intention to showcase their work, most of whom have never been published before.

Anyways, the work progresses nicely and is shaping up to be a nice addition to our work for the Land of Oz.

James C. Wallace II
Royal Liaison of Oz

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Adventure On The Road Of Yellow Brick

Growing up, I was always encouraged by my parents to chase every dream, pursue every opportunity and look at Life as one grand adventure.

It has been a guiding principle of mine ever since and I have chased many a dream in my day. I even managed to catch a few... and the ones I didn't, I still had a great time trying.

And so the Road of Yellow Brick, as L. Frank Baum described the road to the City of Emeralds, beckons me to set out upon it once more and chase yet another dream.


What will come of my adventure, who can say. I feel good about the possibilities and the future in general. I wonder what I will find along my journey?

James C. Wallace II
Royal Liaison of Oz