Can You Keep Up with Dr. Fell?

Greetings and salutations one and all!

In honor of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, Dr. Fell has chosen to give thanks that he has a better vocabulary than anyone! To prove it, he has created a dastardly, cruel, Wicked Word Search! Find glorious words such as rapscallions and whippersnappers hidden on the page! (Beware, as the answers are printed in the bottom right corner of the page. No peeking!)

Dr. Fell’s Wicked Word Search is available as a free download as both a PDF and a JPG.

drfellwordsearch-001

It’s the perfect activity for those cold, snowy (or just really cold), Winter afternoons spent lazily in front of the fire. Dazzle your friends! Confound your enemies! Defeat Dr. Fell!

Dr. Fell the Musical?

I recently saw my kids in a production of Mary Poppins Jr. at our local middle school. The director is a long-time friend with whom I’ve worked a few times. Each summer, he runs a ‘camp’ which is really a large musical production with a massive cast (including my kids) and live band and what not. Two years ago he did Les Miserables. Last year it was Into the Woods. So I asked him what he’s planning on doing this summer. He didn’t know. Hadn’t decided.

Then he asked me how things were going with my book. I lamented how there are still people out there who haven’t bought it (I don’t understand what’s keeping you, the link to purchase it on Amazon is right here), and so on and so forth. Then he says the magic words.

“Ever think of turning it into a play?”

I have had many pie-in-the-sky dreams regarding the future of Dr. Fell. A movie, yes, of course. Trading cards, why not? Soft, fuzzy, plush Dr. Fells? Absolutely! A line of purple Dr. Fell top hats? Bring it on!

But I’d never before thought about turning it into a play.

My director friend was only half-kidding. He went on to say it could be made for kids to preform, or perhaps for adults to preform for kids. He’s always looking for plays to direct with all of the different schools he works at. He can only direct Annie and/or The Phantom Tollbooth so many times.

The idea now lodged in my head, I went home. The idea churned and churned. Why not? Why not turn Dr. Fell into a play? And that’s when it hit me. Not a play.

A musical.

Songs started jumping out at me. An opening number, a finale, lots of ensemble numbers, different solos for different characters. Before I knew what I was doing, I grabbed a copy of the book (I seem to have a few lying around) and started outlining which bits I’d keep and where the songs would fit in. All the while, I kept telling myself that this is crazy and silly and pointless.

And yet I do not stop.

It’s only been a few days, but I’ve got the opening number written and have begun piecing together the script. Who knows?

Dr. Fell The Musical may be coming to a theater near you.

So I Just Got Scammed

Some days I can be a trusting idiot. Today was one of those days.

I was busy scooping the kitty-litter when the phone rang (Honestly, I was in the bathroom scooping my cats’ poop when the phone rang, I’m not making that up). Now I generally don’t bother to answer the home phone because most people use my cell number, so I let it go to voice mail. Also, as I said, I was busy scooping kitty poop.

Once the nastiness of the litter was dealt with, I listened to the message on the machine. A VERY, VERY thick Indian accent said they were from the IRS and asked me to call a phone number. The message said other things, but the accent made it impossible to understand what they were saying apart from the phone number.

Curious (and incredibly foolish), I called the number. I got another man who I will henceforth call Scum-Sucking Scammer Guy, with another thick Indian accent, saying I’d reached the IRS. I told Scum-Sucking Scammer Guy that I’d just gotten a call but didn’t know what it was about. Scum-Sucking Scammer Guy took my name (thankfully the only information I ever gave these, and they already had it per the initial message) and ‘pulled up’ my file.

He said they had evidence that I had defrauded the government on my taxes between the years 2006-2012. They he said they’d tried to reach me for the past two months, and since I hadn’t responded the matter had moved up the chain to the Investigations Department. A lawsuit was going to be taken out against me. I explained this is the first I’d heard of the matter, but Scum-Sucking Scammer Guy said they had evidence that they’d left a note on our door and they’d sent mail to us asking me to deal with the matter.

So at this point, most people should realize that this is a scam. Actually, most people probably don’t bother calling the number back in the first place. But I am a trusting soul. Also, whether they knew it or not, their range of years fit perfectly into my life. In 2006 we moved from one coast to the other. Yet we continued to use our accountant on the other side of the country. He was a good tax accountant and very legit, but I will admit I have entertained worries from time to time that he was too good. Anyway, we eventually switched to an accountant here on this coast (in the same city, even!). I think that was maybe 2013 or so, but it could have been 2012 and I just forgot.

So the thought that my too-good-to-be-true accountant 3,000 miles away between 2006 and 2012 had stepped over a line or two had, in my paranoid mind, enough plausibility about it that it added legitimacy to the scam.

Anyway, I continued to argue that this was the first I’d heard of the matter. I said I was happy to meet with them and work it out. Scum-Sucking Scammer Guy–doing his best impersonation of the creepy German dude in Raiders of the Lost Ark who gets the carvings of the headpiece burned onto his hand in Marion’s bar–said “That time is past.” I then said I hadn’t even seen any evidence that I owed the IRS anything. He said I’d missed my chance to see any documentation, and that I’d now see it when it was presented in court to be used against me.

Yeah, I know. Looking back, the scam-ish nature of the whole thing is pretty obvious.

SCUM-SUCKING SCAMMER GUY: “We’re arresting you without giving you a chance to know what you’ve done wrong.”

ME: “Oh no! You’re the IRS! You can do that!”

At this point I begged to talk to a supervisor. I was transferred to another person with yet another thick, thick Indian accent. I will call him Other Scum-Sucking Scammer Guy. At this point, a part of me wondered if the entire IRS was populated by former Bombay call center employees. Other Scum-Sucking Scammer Guy toed the party line. I was bad. I owed money. I was going to be taken to court.

UNLESS-

If I paid the back taxes within the next one or two hours, then I could avoid court.

How convenient.

And yet I STILL didn’t realize it was a scam. Luckily, I didn’t give them any information or money or anything. Other Scum-Sucking Scammer Guy asked if I could come up with the money within two hours. I half-laughed/half-screamed back that it was impossible. Other Scum-Sucking Scammer Guy said that it would be Court for me. He advised me to call my lawyer.

I went back to the basic truth with Other Scum-Sucking Scammer Guy: this is the first I’ve heard of this, I’ll happily work with the IRS on this, please be reasonable. He held firm. I again asked to see the evidence that I’d committed fraud. He again said no way.

Then I went ahead and said that I had no way of even knowing that this wasn’t a scam. That sent him off, and he said I’d just committed a Federal offense by calling him a liar or some such. Looking back, it seems pretty silly, but in the heat of the moment, I was in full “Oh My God I’m Going to Jail!” mode. He eventually said the call was over, I was going to jail, and I should wait for an officer to come to my house to arrest me within the next hour.

I FREAKED out and did what any self-respecting, level-headed man should do under the circumstances. I called my wife. She told me to call the police. Said it sounded like a scam. After a serious, body-shaking, headache-blaring, vocal chords-straining scream of pure Freakingoutism, I called the police. He said it was a scam. Then my wife sent me links that said it was a scam. Including this one:

https://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/IRS-Warns-of-Pervasive-Telephone-Scam

Which is exactly what happened to me.

It was a scam. I wasn’t going to jail. I didn’t owe back taxes. My too-good-to-be-true accountant from years before was simply good. Not too good.

What have I learned from all this? Well first off, ignore voice messages that come when I’m scooping the litter box. Second, the IRS does not call you and tell you to pay fines then and there over the phone. Third, I can be ridiculously gullible. But then, I already knew that last one.

The page on IRS.gov says that in rare cases, the scammers will actually send out someone to the house after the call pretending to be law enforcement, along with someone pretending to be an agent. These two will claim that you are going to jail unless you can pay the fine right there on your doorstep.

Boy do I hope they come…

I Always Feel Like Somebody’s Watching Me

I’m on Twitter. (@MrDavidNeilsen)

I am new to the genre, but I am Tweeting daily, tossing my thoughts and ideas into the wind and entertaining the masses.

That being said, I do not yet have a multitude of followers. So the masses I am entertaining could, quite honestly, fit inside a small, intimate AA gathering.

“Hello, my name is @crazypsychodude and I follow David. It has been two days since I last yelled at the screen after reading his Tweets.”

I will admit that the bulk of my tweets have been about my writing, or my book, or writing my book. Hey, I’m new. Give me a break, the inspirations will come. However a couple of days ago, I Tweeted about getting my car smog-checked.

“Got my yearly Out-of-Date Smog Check ticket, meaning it’s time to have my car smog-checked.”

Short (well duh, it’s Twitter) and sweet. And then I got a response. An actual response! On one of my Tweets! It was from…. the place where I bought my car. They congratulated me as a client for keeping the air clean.

Now I checked, and they are not following me. I did not mention them, or the make or model of my car, or anything even remotely identifying. At all. You can read the Tweet up above. That was it.

How did the car dealership find my Tweet?

Nobody forwarded the Tweet or shared the Tweet. The car dealership is not following me. How do they even know me?

I’m totally freaked out. I think I’ll go hide in a tinfoil box.

War Against the Wall-Eye Not Going Well

Comrades!

These are difficult times, indeed. Our major offensive against the Wall-Eye has failed, and our forces are in retreat. The brave men and women gave their all, but they were simply no match for the diabolical cunning of these cruel, merciless creatures.

The assault began when the 5th Regiment, made up mostly of out-of-work circus performers, rounded Bulbous Bluff. These 23 men, women, and monkeys hefted their pitchforks and rolled-up Yo-Yos and stepped past the big rock that looks like Gilbert Gottfried ready for anything.

But what they encountered was not anything. It was something. Something horrible. Hundreds of ravenous Wall-Eye launched a counter offensive, leaping into mouths hanging open in shock, and burrowing their way through our soldiers’ soft, fleshy bodies. The bluff was awash in blood before an organized retreat could be called for, and only seven of our men and women (none of the monkey’s made it) survived.

Not content to obliterate the Fighting Fifth, the Wall-Eye pressed their advance, forcing us to abandon Glassy Glade, Mellow Meadow, Oddly-Shaped Oasis, and about a third of Trenton, New Jersey. We apologize to the civilians abandoned in this time of chaos, and hope your new overlords butcher you all swiftly in the name of common decency.

All humans should know that this is but a single battle. Or rather, a bunch of battles all sort of connected. It is not the war. We will prevail in our struggle. If only because our opponents do not have opposable thumbs.

Remain vigilant!

walleye2

One of the foul demons an instant before it bit the head off of little Jimmy Skateboard–mullet and all.

Writing is Re-writing

With the rough draft of Untitled Second Middle-Grade Novel complete, I now turn my attention to the monumental task of editing.

The thing with this particular book is that it has been a far more difficult project than the first book. Because it far more complicated. Because I’m a glutton for punishment. And besides, I’m already losing my hair, so my tearing it out in frustration won’t do much more than speed me along the path I’m already on.

Somebody smart somewhere once said writing is re-writing. And if they didn’t, then I’m saying it and want full credit. My completed rough draft began life at just over 70,000 words, with multiple narrators and shifting motives and things I’d added at the end that I hadn’t thought to set up in the beginning and character arcs that switched gears somewhere in the midst of Act 2.

So there’s some work to be done.

On top of all that is the need to go and make it ‘more goofy’ since this is for Middle Grade (generally ages 8-12) and some of what goes on in the story is a little dark. But when things are goofy, you can be a dark as you like!

I also need to add that ‘David Neilsen’ flair that I’m told I’m going to have to have if I want to build a brand.

So there’s a lot to add. And then I have to also cut around 15,000 words. So… add stuff, but cut words.

I’ll be bald in no time.

***

The war against the walleye continues, and I’m sorry to say that casualties are growing in both number and ferocity. Just last week, Igor Schmidington was lost to us when a pack of aquatic evil devoured him until there was nothing left but his artificial leg. You will be missed, Igor.

NEVER SURRENDER!

(the scourge of the seas)

Defending the Title

Tonight, my wife and I are descending upon a yearly, Halloween-themed, local charity dinner. We are going because it is for a good cause and because we want to help out, but mostly because we won Best Costumed Couple last year and we have to defend our title.

Last year we had a make-up artist turn us into zombies. We didn’t even know there was a competition, to be honest. We just wanted to be zombies. We were good-looking zombies (or, rather, really nasty-looking ones), and I’m pretty sure we freaked out a couple of people who stopped at a street light next to us on our way there.

This year, of course, we know there’s a competition. So now we feel the pressure. We have to not only be better than everyone else, we have to be better than we were last year. While I have confidence in our get-up, you never know what someone else is going to bring to the table. This is Sleepy Hollow, after all. People do Halloween serious here.

I’m going to trust that we know what we’re doing. But if I happen to see anyone better tonight, I might spill something on them or fall against them and rip their costume apart. Accidentally, of course.

Hey. It’s a dog-eat-dog world.