Archive for September, 2010

Today is the day I start my blog

I’ve been thinking about writing since May of 2009.  I even started a book once and got through four chapters, but then “life” took over and I stopped.  I got busy, and my priorities just weren’t where they needed to be.  I wasn’t ready; I wasn’t serious.  I can’t say that I’ve started the book project again, but I think about it often, and I do add to my outline from time to time as inspiration strikes.

More recently, I have been learning about writing as a craft, and I’ve become more conscious about my own writing as a result.  I’ve been reading a lot too, which helps me to learn the style of other writers.

All the books on writing that I’ve read so far have said that to succeed in writing, you must write every day, and read more than you write.  I figured a blog might be just the thing (I’ve got the reading thing down, but not the writing so far!).  Blogging allows me to write every day, and if I’m convinced that people are reading my blog, and are expecting to read more, then it gives me a measure of accountability.  It keeps me going.

Years ago, I was writing a Bible study/devotional (“devos”) for a friend, and because I knew he was reading it (and soon, about a hundred others were too), I was faithful in writing two devos a week for three years straight.  Those devos can still be seen on our church’s website (at one devo shown per week, it runs a six year cycle!).  Unfortunately, I switched jobs and writing those devos became impossible due to my increased workload.  I actually miss doing them – I learned a lot, and it was fun to translate what I had learned into something a blossoming Christian could understand.  I miss the challenge; I miss exercising my mind.  I hope that writing this blog will also be a challenge, in a good way, and that it will be a benefit you, dear reader, as well.

MOFL Blurb 7, 2008

It was simply horrible…

8:04 PM, I’m at my computer working on my class for this weekend and I hear a sound like an oncoming train.  Suddenly, “wham!” something hits my house and sends it rocking.  I soon realize that it’s an earthquake.  ‘Though I’m being vaulted left and right in my chair, I manage to get up and head towards the family room.  My dog is about as low to the ground as he can get and he’s whimpering.  Thoughts flash through my head.  Do I have enough water?  Where’s my earthquake kit?  Will the house fall off its foundation?  Will the chimney come crashing through the roof? I must remember to turn off the gas, and the water, and drain the water heater.  Shouldn’t I be at a doorjamb, in the bathtub or under a table?  I hope my family is OK at church (gee, should have thought of that earlier).  It’s alright; they are insured and they know Jesus.  Lights are swaying, and I soon realize that my front and back door jambs are directly inline with the P-waves and S-waves emanating from the epicenter of the quake.  They are really moving and pressing against the doors.  Will I ever be able to open my doors again?  Will I be able to escape?

Thirty seconds later, it was over.  Thank God, I still had power.  I could not smell gas.  Good.  I turned on the TV to see the early casualty reports.  I’m thinking it was a 5.5.  I search through all the local TV stations and… nothing.  Perhaps they were down and couldn’t relay the much needed data.  On the web, the USGS confirmed that it was 5.6 — so much greater than I had thought.  Gasp.  Time to assess the damage:  All the curios were still in place; thanks to dusty build-up.  No — one had fallen over; but it was unbroken; and not really my favorite anyway.  Its main function was to provide symmetry.  My TV was still in place.  I would live.  In the bedroom, the VCR had fallen off the stand.  Well, I thought, it’s an ancient technology.  If it broke, I could… still watch videos in three other rooms.  Man, I’ve got a lot of ancient technology.  But it worked.  At 9PM, almost an hour later, the reports came out on Fox, and interrupted the opening of House.  Now I’ll never know how the injured guy of the week got into the hospital.

The news of the quake was horrible:  Olive jars had been sacrificed at a local shopping center; ceiling tiles had fallen; books had fallen off their shelf at the SJSU library (my thesis — on the ground!); the airport souvenir shop had lost a crystal vase; another local airport lost all the windows of its conning tower; all trains were forced to drive at 20mph for the remainder of the evening.

My family made it home alive that night; they were safe.  Courtney, my daughter, had noticed that one of her fifty stuffed animals had fallen on the floor.  What if it had been her?  We slept in fear.

Next morning, I was anxious to get to my fifth-floor office.  Would I still have a window?  Had the building collapsed?  No such luck, but I did notice that… a binder had fallen over.  The USGS guy said that three different faults were 20 years overdue for a quake, and that the Calaveras fault, which had slipped last night, had already sent over 100 aftershocks coursing through the terra-not-so-firma while I had slept.  There was a 2% chance that another “moderate” earthquake could happen again in the next few days.  With odds like that, I was really jumpy.

It makes you think: with life so fragile, and doom right around the corner, could I even think about football.  Sure, I made three player moves today, and almost took a three player trade (from this week’s opponent no less — I must check that schedule before I consider a trade).  Indianapolis and New England are playing this weekend.  I won’t miss that — provided that I make it to the weekend alive! Anyway, be safe tonight at Halloween.


MOFL Blurb 6, 2005

You know, not everybody I talk to believes that MOFL is a ministry within our church.  Some say that it’s a way for over-the-hill, overweight, wannabe football player, poser-type guys to feel good about themselves.  Not so!  Mindy is female!  Some say there is no religious content at all; but when I’m at a fellow team owner’s house, I hear lots of prayer — fervent, specific prayer.  It got me thinking: surely the Bible has something to say about this.

It does:

2 Chronicles 11:11a
He strengthened their defenses and put commanders in them.

Job 13:12b
your defenses are defenses of clay!

Isaiah 44:22b
I have scattered your offense like the clouds.

Nehemiah 9:11
You divided the sea(hawks defense) before them, so that they passed through it on dry ground, but you hurled their pursuers into the depths, like a stone into mighty waters.

2 Corinthians 9:5b
I don’t want anything forced or hurried at the last minute.

Exodus 4:3a
Throw it down on the ground,” the LORD told him. So Moses threw it down

Exodus 12:12a
I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn

2 Chronicles 20:11a
And now they’ve come to kick

Zechariah 5:2b
thirty feet long and fifteen wide!”

Joshua 2:14a
We offer our own lives as a guarantee for your safety.

2 Samuel 22:20
He led me to a place of safety

Romans 1:27b
Men did shameful things with other men and, as a result, suffered within themselves the penalty they so richly deserved.

1 Corinthians 9:26
So I run straight to the goal with purpose in every step

Luke 10:31
Priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side.

Job 9:11
When he passes me, I cannot see him; when he goes by, I cannot perceive him.

1 Corinthians 9:24
Remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize. You also must run in such a way that you will win.

Isaiah 22:17a
GOD is about to sack you

2 Kings 23:29b
When King Josiah intercepted him at the Plain of Megiddo, Neco killed him.

2 Corinthians 10:13b
Our goal is to stay within the boundaries.

Leviticus 26:36 (trash talk)
“And for those of you who survive, I will demoralize you in the land of your enemies far away. You will live there in such constant fear that the sound of a leaf driven by the wind will send you fleeing. You will run as though chased by a warrior with a sword, and you will fall even when no one is pursuing you.

Daniel 8:7b (paraphrased)
They charged the Rams and hit them so hard that it broke off their horns. The Rams didn’t stand a chance against them. The Bills knocked the Rams to the ground and stomped all over them.

1 Chronicles 11:14
But Eleazar and David held their ground in the middle of the field and beat back the Philistines. So the LORD saved them by giving them a great victory.


I rest my case.


MOFL Blurb 9, 2004

. . . As the fog slowly lifted from my head, I began to see shapes like trees moving, as though pushed the hot wind from an oncoming fire.  I could almost hear the “whoosh.”  The trees seemed to be hissing like some sort of lizard, and cackling with laughter.  Feeling as though my head were in some sort of swirling black vacuum, I fell back into unconsciousness . . .

Week 9 blurb . . . part 4 . . . cement shoes

When I came to again, I was bound and gagged on the floor of some warehouse.  The laughter I had heard earlier was from the miscreants I had put away twice before: Red and Sven.  But now there was another: a man in a kilt.  As this man stood over me, the view from my vantage point was. . .

“Hey Scotty, has he come to yet?” yelled Red from across the room, taking my mind of the description I was about to convey, which really shouldn’t go anywhere nearer than the devil and the deep blue sea.

“Aye, he’s awake.  So, Mr. Diamond; how do you like yer new shoes?”  said the Scottsman.

I hadn’t noticed before that my feet felt heavy, like a horse had fallen on them.  My new shoes were made of concrete, and this warehouse was no doubt near water.  I was going to take a one-way trip to the bottom of the lake, to sleep with the fish, and there was little I could do about it this time.  Even Shirley couldn’t save me, as she had done so many times before.  She had won an all expense trip to San Diego, and was now enjoying some time at the beach.  I had been following a lead in Indianapolis far from home when I got whacked.  I would soon be acquainted with . . . does Indianapolis even have anything besides a river?  Guess I’ll find out soon.  Dames.  You can’t live with ‘em . . . pass the beer nuts.

Sven came over to play his mind games with me, smelling like moldy cheese.  He sneered: “You know these boots were made for water.  We’ve taken you to a place where you will feel comfortable — you home town.”  So, my final destination would be Lake Michigan.  I must have been out all night — soon, forever.

Suddenly, there was a crash of windows, and men in uniform came swooping down from all sides like some giant bird of prey or Ninja warriors: army men in the pursuit of justice.

The perfunctory “put your weapons down and put your hands up” didn’t work at all.  A brief battle ensued, but it was for naught.  Red, Sven and Scotty were stung.  They were taken away — dragged out like dogs at the end of a leash.  Some mountain of a man dressed like some sort of King, adorned in purple and gold, came up to me and lifted me up with one arm.  I wobbled back and forth like a Webble.  Eventually, I stabilized.  It appeared that my stock was up.  Apparently, this lavishly dressed man had seen me mugged by those felons, called the cops, and followed me 200 miles all the way to this warehouse.  “Thanks,” I said.  “You wouldn’t happen to know where a chisel and hammer would be?”  Amazingly enough, he found both nearby.  “Who are you?” I asked.  The man smiled and said, “I am the ex-governor of Minnesota.    I was at a speaking engagement last night in Indianapolis, rooting for my team when I saw you get hit.”

“And you followed me all the way to Chicago?  That’s commitment for you.”

“The Windy City is more or less on the way anyway,” he replied with a wry smile.

Once out of my boots, I made it back to the office.  So nice of Red, Sven and Scotty to drop me off nearby.  Maybe I’ll send them flowers . . . at their funeral.

It was just another day at the Joe Diamond detective agency.

Commissioner Joe Diamond.

MOFL Blurb 8, 2003

Sven the Viking

Chapter 1

`Woodsman, we need more timber,` shouted Brent, `Those Gauls will be back soon enough. By Odeon, we must be ready.`
`The woodsman may not come my Lord,` replied the maiden. `He is still injured, and in need of care. I have him deep in the hold with our beloved leader, Sven. We are tending their wounds and feeding them the best horsemeat and mead.`

The first attack from the Gauls of the dark green Southern forest came the week after Pat the Red went off to raid the highlands of Brittania. He should not have gone. Many had witnessed blue creatures of the deep tussling in a seemingly unending battle out in the cold sea. It was a bad omen (Though one whale did emerge victorious over a Kracken). Now Red was tied up with some highlanders on a distant shore, and the hold was lacking its best swordsman. Sven, the keeper of the hold, was in the process of building a long house of beautiful dark wood, tar and stones outside the protective hold when the attack came. The Gauls sent savage dogs ahead of them and Sven was mauled. The woodsman, just coming back from the forest, saw the end of the mauling so he came at the dog with his axe, but the dog retreated into the woods. As he was dragging Sven`s limp body back to the hold, he spotted a pack of men dressed in green coming out of the forest. He sounded the alarm, but too late — he was shot by several arrows all at once. Brent the Purple and Gold was near the gate and was able to drag Sven in. The woodsman was still able to walk. Brent closed the gate, and in Red`s absence, and Sven`s incapacity, took over.

`Women and children, in the cellar,` he barked.
One pregnant woman didn`t want to go, so he pushed her down the cellar. There was no time for niceties.
`Keep your swords handy, but exhaust your arrows first,` rang another command.

The Gauls of green had cut down pine trees and cut branches to about a foot outside of the trunk to use as ladders. They were now carrying these make-shift ladders to the walls of the hold. The first flight of arrows came upon them like a wave of fierce flying birds looking for prey. They struck again and again. The Gauls holding the ladders could not effectively hold their shields and they were all struck down. A volley of arrows returned. Fortunately, the arc of the arrows could not reach the inner wall where Sven`s (now Brent`s) men were. More Gauls picked up ladders, more were shot. Just as the Vikings were running out of arrows, the Gauls seemed to run out of men. They hadn`t, but they could see that this tack was not working. Perhaps the cover of darkness would have worked better. They`d be back, and the Vikings of Sven`s hold knew it.


MOFL Blurb 8, 2002

Well this was a weird week.  There were a lot of low scores across our league (OK, Mark had a great game), and many of you had a high scoring bench.  In a couple of cases, the benched players would have beat your opponents, but your starters didn’t.  I attribute this to mind-numbing caused by a Science Fiction blurb and the effect it can have over choosing a lineup.

(See “A Story: The Cleaners in Feb 11 posts)

Many of you read last weeks blurb, and the most frequent response I got was: “What the hell was that?  That didn’t have anything to do with football.”  It does, but you had to search for it.  I also got responses like:  “Couldn’t finish it;” “Didn’t read it;” “Didn’t understand it.”  These people lost this week (and notice how they don’t use complete sentences, interesting. . . the personal pronouns are missing – – only implied – – due to low self-esteem).

On the other side of the coin, I got some gracious comments like:  “I loved what I understood;” “I read it a number of times and I kept finding more secret messages;” “It was funny;” “Greatest blurb ever!” These people won because they persevered in trying to understand this complex genre.  By exercising their mental faculties in this way, they became masters of logic and discernment, allowing them to make proper picks.

Other coincidences?  Tom, being dead in my story, posted the low score.  Mark, who said this was his favorite blurb ever, posted the highest score.  Coincidence?  I don’t think so.

There was one exception to this; Pat, who loved my blurb, lost to Wes, who did not read it.  How can a person of such obvious intelligence lose to a literary troglodyte like Wes?  If you look at Wes’ bench, you will see the answer. With the exception of Drew Brees, his entire bench was on a bye last week.  And who here doesn’t know not to pick Brees . . . ever?  Well, I guess we can either say, “better to be lucky,” or we must conclude that Wes was guided by dark forces bent on Pat’s destruction.  Are we are seeing here a modern retelling of the book of Job with Pat playing the lead, or was Pat only pretending that he understood a literary style that was beyond his understanding . . . ?  You decide.



A football quote

“For those of you who missed the first half… The Seahawks won the coin toss and elected to beat the bejesus out of the Vikings.”


Chris Mortensen

MOFL Blurb 8, 2001

Chapter 3 – Tuesday Troubles

I thought it was Tuesday when I got up, but somehow Tuesday had passed me by and I was now staring at the cold reality of Wednesday.  My behind was drafty and it took me a while to realize just where I was and what had happened to that twenty-four hour period of my life, but then I remembered… I almost didn’t have a Wednesday, or any future Wednesdays to complain about.  Just thinkin’ about Tuesday gave me a headache so I yelled for aspirin.  The nurse came, gave me the aspirin, and discharged me.  She sent me home, but I was bound for the office.  Some private dick I was… How could I face today when I had almost lost everything yesterday…

Week 8 Blurb from the Joe Diamond Detective Agency

Tuesday started out just like any other Tuesday at the office.  The hangover that was Monday was gone, but I still had four days to go in another empty week and not a lot of work to keep me occupied.  Shirley, my secretary was early for once.  She was high on life for some reason, and her cheery disposition annoyed me.  “Coffee.  Black.  Keep it coming,” I growled.  She sang softly as she put the pot on and wiped off the cheesy mess by the burner from another day’s lunch.  She had even stocked the fridge with cream for my coffee, the way I like it, and I didn’t know the fridge was working.  I hope she hadn’t paid to get it fixed, money was flowing around here like water in the Sahara.  The devil had been playing a game with my business and he was winning.  I couldn’t even afford to keep Shirley, and she knew this, but she still showed up every day anyway.  Dames.  I guess she has nowhere else to go.   How could she be flyin’ like that when I felt like a pack of angry dogs.  The woman’s got heart, but I question her wisdom.

She gave me the coffee, cream and all, and that’s when it happened.  Red burst into the office with some other low-life.  I had sent Red and Sven to jail two years ago, but I guess they had gotten out and Red wanted to pay me a visit.  I instinctively reached for my gun that was taped under my desk, but he had his already drawn.  Shirley screamed.  I was invited to stand up without my gun.

“Where’s Sven Red?”

“Run over.  He’s looking foreword to rooming with you at County General.”

“Send him my regrets.  I’m not planning a visit.  Who’s your friend?”

“My cell mate Matt.”

“So, you still hang out with prisoners I see.  I guess you always have.  Scum never changes its color.”

“Hey, who has the gun here?…  At least I have friends.”

“Is that the best you can come up with?  How about some coffee?  Shirley, coffee for my friends.”

Shirley knew what I was thinkin’ and threw the pot at Red to distract him.  Red had seen this trick before, and the pot missed him entirely.  Matt too for that matter.  Shirley threw like a girl, which of course she was.  Red went for Shirley, I went for Red, and that’s when it happened.  Matt hit me from behind.  It was lights out.  Sleepy-time for Joe.

The next thing I remember I was waking up at County General in a fog.  I thought I was seein’ angels, which meant that I was still alive.  If I was dead, things would be a lot darker and a lot hotter.  That angel was Shirley holdin’ my hand.

“What happened?”

“By beau came.  I wanted you to meet him.  He’s a boxer.  He took out those two thugs and got you here”

“Where’s he now?”

“Down at police headquarters.  Seems those Red and Matt broke parole.”


“Don’t mention it, boss.  Why don’t you take tomorrow off.”

I thought that was a good idea. Must have been the morphine.

Before I lapsed back into sleep, I inquired about Sven, but he was already making his Chicago connection.  He wasn’t hurt that bad and maybe he’d soon come gunning for me.  I’ll be prepared.  Everything was a blur after that.

Today was gonna be better.  I could feel it.  After yesterday, what could be worse.  Maybe I’ll make Shirley some coffee today, if she doesn’t let it get to her head… Dames.  Sometimes they’re alright.


Joe Diamond

MOFL Blurb 2, 2001

Many Shakespeare titles and plots came to mind in reviewing this week’s games.  For some, it was “Love’s labours lost.”  For others, it was “A comedy of errors,” and “Much ado about nothing.”  All of us were hoping that, “All’s well that ends well,” or at least, “As you like it,” but far too often, our game plan became a tragedy like Macbeth, or a downright bloody awful mess like the plot of Titus Andronicus.  I personally felt like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern — treacherous and clever but ultimately betrayed by what I held in my own hands (a 75 point lead going into Monday night, and a hope that Jeff George and the Washington D might actually do something).  I was thinking, “Go ahead little vulture, eat that cheez… it doesn’t matter that it’s mostly green.  What harm could befall you?”  But come Tuesday morning… Nooo!  That green stuff was bad…  It is the poisoned cup, it is too late (Hamlet V, II, 296).  aaaarrrgggh!

Anyway, here’s what Shakespeare had to say about this week’s games…


Pack Attack vs. Horseheads

If you prick us, do we not bleed?  If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?  That’s why the horsehead is in your bed!

(Merchant of Venice III, I, 59)


Naja Naja vs. Roadrunners

Hast thou slain him then?  Henceforth be never numb’red among men!  O, once tell true: tell true, even for my sake: durst thou have looked upon him being awake?  And hast thou killed him, sleeping?  O brave touch!  Could not a worm, an adder, do so much?  An adder did it; for with doubler tongue than thine, thou serpent, never adder stung.

(A Midsummer-Night’s Dream III, II, 69)


Flyers vs. Big Red

Alas poor Pat, I knew him well—A man of infinite jest, of most excellent fantasy football.  He hath borne me on his back, and I have crushed him.

(Hamlet V, I, 187)


Blue Devils vs. No Shows

Mike, Mike.  Wherefore art thou Mike?  Deny thy team and refuse to win!  Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, And the devil still might beat you.

(Romeo & Juliet II, II, 35)


Norsemen vs. Hylanders

There is something rotten in the state of Scotland!

(Hamlet I, IV, 96)


Jumanji vs. The Refrigerated Toads

The pound of frog, which I demand of him is dearly bought, ‘tis mine, and I will have it: If you deny me, fie upon your law!

(Merchant of Venice, IV, I, 100)


Bottom Feeders vs. Flame

Alas then, he is drowned?

Drowned, drowned

Too much of water hast thou, poor flame.

(Hamlet IV, VII, 183)


Cheez Heads vs. Turkey-Vultures

To be, or not to be: That is the question.  Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous Green Bay fortune, or to take arms against a sea of Redskin troubles, and by opposing, end them.  To die, to sleep — No more…

(Hamlet III, I, 56)

MOFL Blurb 10, 1999

Chapter 2 – A minor setback

It was another Tuesday, just like so many other Tuesdays, just like that Tuesday a year ago when a couple of punks came into my office and tried to ruin all my Tuesdays from now on, but I had got the best of them that time.  But I know that you can’t win all the time, the odds were beginning to stack up against me, like when you’re winning at blackjack and you’ve got a 17 but you think you can do better so you say “hit me,” and the dealer does, and it’s lights out, and you never saw it coming.  I had a feeling that something was going to happen today.  Something always does in this seedy little town, but today, I had the feeling it would happen to me.

Week 10 Blurb

I got word that Red and Sven got out today.  Attempted murder hadn’t kept them in the big house for long – just a slap on the wrist, some easy time down the river, then out they pop like a cork from some Thunderbird that’s gone bad.  It gave me a bad feeling in my gut that couldn’t all be explained by that runny cheese I ate last night.  Right now, a blade in the gut would feel better, but I had no time for self pity.  I quickly drank my breakfast, and like the effervescence I could see and hear after that plop, plop, fizz, fizz, I arose from my chair only to have an attack of indigestion that put me back down.  I did get fast relief, but it wasn’t from the Alka Seltzer.  The office was, for once, toasty and warm as I entered the Joe Diamond Detective Agency.  I had been playing games with the furnace all year it seems – unreliable would be an understatement, but today, the pilot was on.  It was as reliable as Shirley, my secretary.  She was late again, dames, but I couldn’t blame her – she had a bun in the oven and was tired from cookin’.  Some pig had also accosted her a few nights ago, tried to mess her up, but instead met Mr. Derringer – twice.  Memo:  Don’t mess with a pregnant woman.

The fridge had died almost a year ago and looked like it had been run over a few times, but on top was my trusty coffee pot.  I made coffee that was black as a raven and twice as strong.  Suddenly, Sven, and the bald one called Red busted in.  They wanted to play me like a fiddle for what I had done to them, but as they rushed me, I gave them some hot coffee and the pot to boot.  Red was overcome – hands to his face and screaming something like “the penalty, the penalty,” but I wasn’t quite sure what that meant.  The old adage was true, the bigger they are, the harder they fall, though maybe he slipped.  Sven was another matter – I musta’ missed him.  Standing on the coffee grounds from the pot, his wiry frame looked menacing, but he wouldn’t take me on without help from his currently flailing friend.  “I’ll get you,” he menaced. “ OK,” I said, “how about five weeks from this Sunday?”  He looked confused – he didn’t know that you could schedule retribution, but you can, and I knew it.  I put him on my calendar, as he dragged Red out the door, mopping up as he went.  I had to laugh – I could see in his eyes that Sven was goin’ to wait the five weeks.  What a maroon.  Shirley came in and asked if she had missed anything.  I told her that she didn’t, but to clean up the coffee and blood on the floor anyway – and make me a fresh pot of coffee, if the pot would still work.

Yeah, somethin’ happened that day, but all in all, it was just another

Tuesday at the Joe Diamond Detective Agency.

Joe Diamond