Cuban Cars

June 8, 2012

I was at a loss for words when I saw a current picture of traffic in downtown Havana, Cuba.  The cars date from the late 1940s, and the 1950s.  We’re talking 60 years old.  They didn’t look funny when they were the latest thing.  Ah, hindsight.  On the drive into work this a.m. I found the word I sought:  bulbous.  The cars look like the meaty people in Diego Rivera portraits.


Towering Bicycle?

June 7, 2012

People take photos of Felix Guirola riding his nifty 11′ tall bike in downtown Havana, Cuba.  To put that in perspective, Felix can see inside second story apartment windows from his moving perch.  But the interesting part of the photos is the background.  Cubans who can afford cars appear to be driving 60 year old vehicles produced in Detroit!  I swear I saw the rear end of one of those little Studebakers that looked like a rocketship?  Another interesting tidbit is that Felix sold his house to get the money to build the bike.  I suppose he didn’t have a lot equity or his house wasn’t much to write home about?

Apparently Felix needs a team to steady the bike while he scrambles on, but getting off is a piece of cake:  he just scrambles down while the bike is still moving and balanced.  So far no crash landings.  Wouldn’t want to dent up one of those fantabulous cars in rush hour traffic!

Not to pick on China, but…

May 23, 2012

I read a short article in today’s Dallas Morning News about the recent discovery that the malaria medicine being widely used in Africa in the past couple of years turns out to be a junk concoction manufactured in the unnamed nation that surrounds the Yangtze River.

And I thought spiking baby formula with recycled melmac dinnerware–or whatever it was–was cynical?

Uncle Fluffy The Alligator Wrestler?

May 15, 2012

With reptile opponents named “Amigo, Pebbles, Baby Beu Big Bucks, Steve Irwin [boo!] and Mr. Licks-A-Lot.”

Perfect for special events like:  cocktail parties, family dinners, birthdays, bat and bar mitzvahs, bachelor/bachelorette parties baby showers, etc.  The only limit is your imagination!  On the list of “Top Mobile Alligator Wrestling Schools in SW Region of Florida Everglades for the past 7 years.”  Gee, ya think?

Organ Donors

May 15, 2012


“Nancy Scheper-Hughes writes about a man of Chinese descent, Mr. Lin, who immigrated to the United States.  Mr. Lin elaborates on a visit to a Chinese medical facility stating that, “next to his friend was a wealthy and politically connected professional man who told Mr. Lin that he was waiting for a kidney transplant.  The wealthy man knew the kidney would arrive after a prisoner was executed that morning.”

Whatzamatter with this picture?

Where Do I Get Story Ideas?

May 14, 2012

My story ideas come from bits of paper swimming in a fishbowl on my desk.  When I fish for a story I pull out bits of paper with one word from each of the following categories:  (a) an occupation, (b) a character flaw, (c) a place, (d) and event, and (e) and object.  It’s random, and I have to write at least 500 words using each word on each scrap in one piece of writing.

Sometimes a whole story comes to mind, sometimes just a scene comes together.  The story here about Hanbali Mussa is an example.

When I need to take a break from a big project I use the fishbowl to do Daily Writing which I keep printed in a notebook.

Be forewarned the hardest category to populate is character flaws.  The flaw has to be a trait that makes or breaks the character.  Story conflict, its drama, arises from the flaw with which the protagonist struggles.

As far as I can tell a true flaw is a moral failing, moral kryptonite to the character’s Superman.  The 7 deadly sins are a good starting point because they have all kinds of subcategories of sins with which characters have to wrestle to be interesting, victorious, or ruined.

Underwear Bombs?

May 11, 2012

A lot of males suspect they are pretty darned explosive under certain circumstances, but what kind of a guy would actually agree to blow up his own personal equipment?  This is the stuff of black comedy.


April 25, 2012

Hanbali Mussa adjusted his expensive aviator sunglasses with the polarized lenses, his borrowed royal blue desert veil and robe then settled into Miss Lewinski’s saddle.  The pink dirt road rambled out of the dirty dishwater colored Sahara plain, and off toward Mali’s green farms hydrated by the muddy looking Niger River.  The river flowed inland from the Atlantic Ocean instead of the other way around.  Little did Hanbali know the anomaly would be the template for his international crime adventure.  As a matter of fact, muddy events would be part of the template too.

He reached into the front of his robe, and pulled a little handdrawn map of west Africa from his shirt pocket.  He studied the sketch then muttered, “Maybe 50 kilometers to Timbuktu?”  He squinted at the purple horizon, and couldn’t remember how many kilometers equalled a mile, “You’d think a city that size would be a speck in the nothing between here and the horizon.”

The caravan’s veil-less crew of bossy Touareg females giggled as they watched the 16 year old American.  Another omen?  Hanbali’s sheltered life of successful petty crime back in Minneapolis had deceived him about the rest of the world.  He had to chase an unwelcome thought from his mind too frequently:  had he been snookered by the online tour company?  He’d taken a huge risk leaving the U.S. pretending devotion to holy war.  On more than one occasion he’d reminded his pals, “Hanbali Mussa is devoted only to Hanbali Mussa.”  He had double-crossed and robbed his  terrorist contact in Algiers then disappeared with the man’s gold.  They had been a team sent to purchase yellow cake uranium.

He hoped Timbuktu really existed.

The caravan master rode the length of the single file camel train, and whipped each scruffy animal to get the trip underway.  Miss Lewinsky shrieked then lurched foward, and whiplashed her criminal tenderfoot against the wood saddle’s hard backrest.  Hanbali’s turban swaddling came between the back of his head and the wood then slid down over his eyes.

More giggles from the girls on foot.

He pushed the headgear back, glared at his amused audience, and dispelled the unwelcome mental image of himself tumbling from a camel in motion while clutching the reins until he twisted into a hot, dead blue pretzel the women later unrolled to find encrusted with golden evidence of wrong-doing that had spilled from his hidden pockets and pouches.

Hanbali planned to fence the gold in Timbuktu, create a bulging Swiss bank account with the proceeds then change his name to Bob St. Martins, and spend a life in champagne-drenched debauchery at Biarritz.

Periodical Articles

April 20, 2012…/2169-big-ideas-for-small-gardens-….…/2320-the-dirt-on-your-garden-glov…/1770-local-soldier-serving-fourth-c…/flower-mound-community-orchestra-musi…/1702-taking-care-of-bees-ness.html…/1958-local-epilepsy-advocate-seizin…/2064-local-artist-creates-orr-iginals….


April 18, 2012


On the subject of an author bio, Napoleon asked, “Qui moi?”

Don’t let my white hair fool you, there’s still plenty of fire in this grandma’s furnace.  To amuse my family and select friends I’ve been writing non-fiction for years on subjects as goofy as ritual drama, fairy tales, Greek myths, and motherhood.  My sole foray into the world of fiction revealed The Godbrothers, the 3 most feckless Mormon missionaries in history whose antics amused my missionary son for a year and a half after I ran out of interesting news from home.

In 2008 some mental switch flipped in my brain, and I decided to try real fiction on for size.  What a fit!  “The Lark,” the first chapter of my only completed (and yet unpublished) longer work, won first place in the Phyllis Scott Publishing monthly short story contest in June, 2011.…noellemhood/1032054252 The longer work titled The Birthday Present revolves around 2 Somali teens who decide to go AWOL from holy war for an illegal stag weekend in the Seychelles Islands.  As sci-fi writer and my-paid-critic John DeChancie observed about this black comedy, who would have thought those guys like to have normal fun?

Death to stereotypes!  You may read The Birthday Present absolutely free of charge at my blog  The price is right, no?

During the past year I authored 12 feature articles in The Cross Timbers Gazette a newspaper in southern Denton County, Texas.  My how-to-garden-in-black-clay-soil-and-a-two-growing-season-locale was so popular that the editor gave me monthly space for a regular column about green things and dirt.  I didn’t plan to become a garden writer, but we go where fame leads.  The Dallas Morning News actually paid me for 2 articles.  One was a feature about growing garlic from the grocery store produce department.  So what do I prefer, fame or wealth?  Google my name noelle m hood to read my newspaper articles online.

I have a couple of current projects in the hopper.  The first is a sequel to “The Lark.”  It awaits a road trip along Interstate 10 from San Antonio, Texas to Douglas, Arizona.  The second is about a French and Indian War re-enactor who goes native near his hometown, the imaginary Paducah Cliff, Tennessee.

I am a current member of the North East Texas Writers’ Organization.