Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Going off the grid for a few days...

I'm all done with the jobs on the West coast -- some easy, some hard, one damned difficult and still chasing me -- but I finished everything without exploding, so I guess that's good. Helped to have assistance, a few times. God only knows if I came in on budget; after the fifth job, I was beyond caring.

Anyway, I'm heading down to San Diego to visit my sister, brother-in-law, and nieces till Sunday, then it's home, again...and dealing with my finances. Ugh. Thank god I went to Muir Beach to clear out my brain. Tried to do it, yesterday, in Half Moon Bay with my assistant, before I took him to his plane, but about the time I was beginning to wipe away the cobwebs, he was ready to leave...and it was dinnertime. So away we went.

On a good note: I started restructuring the final bit in the jet for The Alice '65. It'll be more work than I thought it would be, but I like this direction and feel it ups Adam's game. He has to help Casey like an actor doing improv, so uses aspects of his recent experiences to give truth to her lies. In fact, all the direct actions taken in this bit are being reworked into something more dynamic...I think. I hope. Won't know till I get feedback.

I'm currently conflicted about one aspect of the story that's about halfway in. When Adam is locked out of the premier, he winds up in a bar across the street, where people think he's a celebrity and buy him drinks...and he is talked into dancing to Ricky Martin's La Vida Loca. Then later, at Lando's party, he gets Casey to dance ballroom with him. I like the shift in character but wonder if I'm being too damned cute? I also wonder if he shouldn't be dancing till he does it with Casey...but that's a bit movie-ish for me. I dunno...I'll keep thinking.

Now...from Muir Beach...
It wasn't busy but finding a moment of solitude was difficult...
...and yet, not impossible.
Then I stopped at Point Cavallo to get some different photos of San Francisco (which would be better if I remembered to clean my lens)...
...and The Golden Gate Bridge.

Next trip, I think I'll visit Alcatraz.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Winding down...

The last job turned out to be one of the easiest. Wide open house. A pleasant breeze. More than 6000 books to pack but they're small and traveling within the US so can be packed differently from the overseas things. Had good assistance. So tomorrow we'll be done.

What's nice is, as I let my mind wander I figured out how to make the ending confrontation in The Alice '65 better. Right now, it's Casey barging onto Lando's plane and demanding he give her back the book. Nice and average. But instead, I'm going to have Casey use her acting skills to make Lando think she doesn't want the book, that it's a fake, so plays with his mind...and gets Adam to play along. She acts like all she wants is the note her grandfather left in the book, for her.

Now it's more fun. Lando accidentally reveals he has the book with him. And Veronica turns out to be using Lando to get the book for her real boss, the unnamed Australian...and on and on. It's winding itself up...and I love that.

I am feeling better, overall, about my current situation. Getting done with the nastiest jobs and having this relatively easy one helped my mood, immeasurably. I also had dinner with someone I've known since high school, and his husband, and we discussed grammar and punctuation as we ate some decent Indian Food! Not India's Grill (in LA) level but still tasty.

Tomorrow's the final pickup and then building the boxes into containers and prepping them for shipment. Then I send my assistant home and I relax. I may go to Muir Beach, just to watch the Sun set. Or Land's End. I dunno. The job is winding down and I feel very happy with what I accomplished.

Rather unusual, for me.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Insane week...

I finished yet another job that increased in size -- by 25% but with no increase in the amount of time. 2000 books became 2000 titles, many of which were multiple volume while others were tiny and fragile. I wound up working 9-11 hour days with a 15 minute lunch to pack nearly 2500 volumes, and barely got done before the shipping crew arrived. 138 boxes. It was insane...and I was exhausted.

At the same time, I was dealing with a company that promised materials for my next job would be delivered to the location on Friday but then, when I called Friday morning to verify everything was on track, got an, "Oh, yeah, this is a residence and we need to set up an appointment and we don't have the right size truck to do that with till Tuesday, next week. That OK?" No. I was able to get it rerouted to my hotel, but it's ludicrous that I had to handle this, myself, while still involved with another packing job...and then had to schlep the materials up to the house, myself.

This seems to be happening more and more. People promise things or present you with one set of information then change everything around once you're on-site...and shrug at your anger or whine when it's going to cost more money. The only one who didn't whine was an individual whose library is being moved to their new home in London; the business guys, who should know better, got all pissy because the quote was now increased due to the updated information. If they'd just given us this info to start with, we'd have been able to properly assess the costs.

So now I'm the one whining. Mainly because I'm tired and cranky. I did zen a little on A65, but I also got to remembering a script I wrote 11 years ago...my first real try at comedy and how proud I was of it. And wondered why nothing ever came of my work. Which segued into wondering why sales have gone flat on OT, DM, BC and LD (I'm still selling HTRASG, PM, and RIHC6 steadily enough). Which led to me thinking I've wasted my life on something I never could achieve...

And slammed into a nice blue funk. What a place for me to be in, at my age. Packing books written by other people over the centuries but not feeling like I'm part of that. Just another wannabe hanging out on the fringes.

Shit, I am tired...

Monday, July 10, 2017

Still dreaming...

I play the lottery once in a while. Usually on a spur of the moment deal. Get a quick pick...and never get the numbers. I won $20 on the Canadian one, once, but that's been it. Yet I still dream about winning the Powerball jackpot and using it to make movies. I'd probably do Carli's Kills, first, then The Alice '65 then Marked For Death and then The Cowboy King of Texas. After that, who knows?

It extends to screenplay competitions. I still get e-mails telling me I still have time to enter, and I used to send my work in but even when I made the first or second cut, nothing much came of them. Mainly because they were the lesser contests. The big ones, I never even got close...and those are the ones that count.

I don't know how to write scripts that sell or impress the people who say yea or nay. Actors love my writing because I give them characters to play, not cliches, but I can't get a script to someone who can get it greenlit. I've read books, done seminars, taken classes, even worked with a career counselor when I took a couple years after Heritage shut down to try and get my writing career going. All it got me was broke. And yet...

I'm saying this because Emerging Screenwriters sent me an email with a 2 for 3 offer and it got me to thinking, "Why not?" Well...it'd be just over a hundred bucks. And the deadline is July 12th. And when I scanned through the scripts I have that I'd want to send -- MFD, RDP and CB -- I found typos and mistakes. None of which I can correct because they're all PDFs. So I tell myself I'd be blowing a hundred bucks for nothing.

And yet...I still dream...

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Mixed bag...


Finished job #6 -- that elegant collection of books I mentioned earlier -- and took this photo while en route back to my motel. I won't call it a hotel because it's really not very nice; one of those places where people have parties in the parking lot and clomp around in boots on the floor above you...and where you come away with odd bites...or rashes; I'm not sure what the hell it is I've got.

They're little red bumps on my arms and legs that itch, like mosquito bites. I first noticed them three days ago and thought maybe I'd picked up a flea. There are so many dogs around, it's not beyond the realm of possibility. A garage apartment I had in LA was behind a house where two dogs lived, and whose owners did not believe in taking care of them. The place got so bad with fleas, I was threatening to move while their neighbors were ready to call the city health department.

Anyway, I have experience with flea bites and these didn't really look like that. Same for mosquitoes. I don't know what bedbug bites look like, but I can't find a spot where it looks like anything dug in. So these could be a rash from something...like the detergent the motel uses to wash its sheets or that powdered crap I used when I did my laundry, in Seattle. Whatever it was, they kept appearing mainly on my right arm and left leg. Now anti-itch cream has been slathered upon them, and that works...for a while.

Just to play it safe, I washed all my clothes in my usual detergent -- All Clear. Supposedly hypo-allergenic. I wound up doing that in Los Gatos, because I was heading down to Santa Cruz and there was a wreck on the 17 so traffic was at a standstill. I figured instead of sitting in a goofy Volkswagen Jetta inching forward for hours, I'd clean my crap.

What made it a go decision was, I happened upon a Safeway. So I bought the soap, located a nice clean laundromat just down the road and actually got some work done on A65. And this was a nice joint. AC. New machines. And they used dollar coins to operate the bigger washers! I felt like I was in Vegas, baby.

Now I'm in Santa Cruz and anything but impressed. It's crowded and traffic is vicious...and I just don't see the attraction, even with all the fun rides on the Boardwalk. And all they seem to offer in the way of food was hot dogs, burgers, personal pizza and junk. Brighton was more interesting. I finally did find a Thai restaurant that offered beef curry in coconut milk and enjoyed that, but overall, Half Moon Bay was a better destination if you want to hit the beach.

Ah, well...tomorrow starts job 7, another long hard slog for an auction house which I so do not look forward to. Then comes another university job that got moved up a day because I screwed up and didn't make sure of my dates. Sometimes I'm worthless.

Hmm...I'm just wondering...is that tall building in the center of my photo the one that's sinking?

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Brain rummaging done in stealth like an upstairs mouse...

I'm packing a private library that is, without question, one of the finest I've ever done. Not so much in value but in breadth and beauty. It's not an easy job, this one, but I don't mind because I saw a book that had a letter written on the first blank pages...a letter from Rudyard Kipling to a friend...and his handwriting was so neat and precise, I could read every word. Not like mine, that's fer dang sure.

The man collecting these volumes is a book person. They're neat. Well-documented. Cared for. Like what Adam would be like in The Alice '65. Not one unwanted book in an eclectic mix of aspects that merely took his fancy. I watched him handle the books when I had a question, or when he wanted to show me one he was proud of...and it was loving. Tender. Joyous. As it should be.

Of all the jobs I've done the last three weeks, this one is the most fascinating and useful. It's adding to my awareness of Adam. Increasing my focus on the book. I'm still seeking the connector in the story between Adam and his adventures with the book, itself. Why Alice... and not something else? There may be no answer except the chaos is what jolts him free from the past, but I'd still like to see if I can suss one out...and this job had given me glimmers of possibilities...

Oh, Lord...it's the Fourth of July and the idiots are shooting off louder than loud firecrackers along Market Street.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Hoping to get back on schedule...

Posting has been spotty during this trip, half because of Wifi issues and half because the jobs have been exhausting thanks to changes in requirements and heat. The jobs in Tarzana, Valencia, and Sierra Madre were tiring mainly due to LA's lovely hot summer. The one in Seattle was due to the job doubling in size but only allowing a few extra hours to do it in...and the first day was hot but the three following days were perfect.

As for WiFi issues, it's mainly how slow my laptop gets when dealing with a system that has a couple hundred people using it all at one time. Except for the Days Inn I stayed at in Castaic. On that one, the WiFi kept kicking me off and refusing to let me back on. I began to think it's the age of my laptop, but I'm at LAX, right now, and no problem here. It's irritating.

I'm now heading to the San Francisco Bay area till at least the 20th, with 4 more jobs to do. I'm still setting up the last one, since it got going at the last minute, while another also doubled in size but at least the client was willing to let me come in on the 4th to start instead of the afternoon of the 5th. I'll also need to do another laundry run; I did one on my last day in Seattle, which should last me a couple weeks...but still, should all be very interesting.

My one concern right now is how to extend my mail hold a couple of days so I can visit San Diego. I think I have to let the current one expire then set up a new one. And this means my Honda won't have been run for 5 weeks. And after that are two possible jobs in NYC and Switzerland. Ah...the life I lead.

Actually, I'm a bit ticked I haven't worked more on The Alice 65. I'm mentioning it on Twitter, now, and have a couple of editors willing to go through  it to give me their feedback and check for errors. I'll be ready after this draft; I have to be. If I don't move this forward, now, I never will.

Got a good review of Bobby Carapisi, yesterday-- short but intense; she got the story. So painfully realistic how society and the system can let you down, especially for a gay man who is raped then examined by insensitive jerks. Eric is so desperate to be believed, for justice, that he may have inadvertently traumatized another rape victim, Bobby Carapisi. Don't want to say much more, since this is spoilery enough, but I highly recommend this novel.

Makes me feel very good.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Whooh...rough week...

I know it's only Wednesday, but this latest job started on Sunday and was hard going. 450 books became more than 900, with oversized artwork. It took some careful maneuvering. But it's done and at the airline and I'm off to job # 4 in North LA. Then comes San Jose and San Francisco and Santa Cruz and Sausalito...well, not exactly Sausalito, but that area.

What made this job happen and even go fairly well was my helper, who's another book person. And efficient. And cute. And has the same politics as me. We spent a fair amount of our work time grousing about Czar Snowflake and the vile party that supports him.  If anything, he may be a bit more radical than me...and I like that.

Haven't done a thing more on A65. I'm too beat to do anything but doze at the computer. Haven't even read, much. Did get some laundry done, since I won't have a chance to till after San Francisco. That killed this evening...and I've still got a lot more to do. In fact, on the flight to LA I'll be working up the last job's material needs, since I'm dead meat, right now.

I've been trying to read Snobs by Julian Fellowes, but I'm having trouble getting into it. Which is odd because I liked the sly humor of Gosford Park. Still, after 61 pages I have no interest in Edith Lavery, and its switching back and forth from some unknown person telling the story to straightforward third person omniscient makes me glad I dumped that idea in A65. Of course, I have to acknowledge, I didn't like Downton Abby, so maybe he's hit and miss.

I'm going to shift to John Waters' Role Models and see how that goes. What I'm looking for is ways to write humor and build funny characters who are still real, but do it with bite and edge and romantic yearning...while digging deep into their soul and psyche to play hideous games with their minimal sanity. All in an off-beat tone of voice with the fluidity of Tolstoy.

Yeah...right...

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Back to work...

I'm just posting a bit more of A65. This is at Lando's party, where Adam and Casey have had a small run-in with Lando and Veronica.

-----

She forced a smile and guided Adam through a dining room stacked high with questionable edibles into a state of the art kitchen where the chrome and brass gleamed nice and bright, and obviously not used.

"Good God," he said, "the bloody kitchen's bigger than my flat, in Ruislip."

"That where you live?" Casey asked, paying him no real attention as she pulled two cartons of Mac & Cheese from the freezer.

"Cora and I did. Till we parted. Couldn't afford it on my own."

Casey said nothing, just popped both cartons into the microwave. He watched her, uncertain.

"Is this all right?" he asked.

"These're mine," she said with a bare smile. "I used to spend a lot of time here."

He saw the distant expression return to her face, the tight mask with it. "Casey ... was it wise to come back?"

She did not look at him, just pulled utensils and napkins together. "Had to. Make everyone think all is well and good."

"After hiding away?"

She cast him a wary glance, then shrugged. "Don't you just love gossip? Especially when it's rooted in reality." She focused on polishing the utensils as she said, "Y'know, she's wrong about me ... Veronica ... me leaving guys. Tabloids spit out that shit, all the time, but I've never left anyone."

"That ... that, um, doesn't mean we can't leave now. Find somewhere else to have a meal. My ticket."

She looked at him, warmth hinted in her eyes. "In a minute. These two cartons are the last of my crap here, and I don't want to leave anything behind. It'd just stay in the freezer. You see, Lando thinks mac and cheese is beneath him, and Veronica just sucks the life out of people. Trust me, I know. That's what I caught her doing with him, last week."

Adam jolted. "Just last week?"

She shrugged. "Eleven days ... no, twelve ... but who's counting? That was four helpings of Lasagna. Meat lovers."

"Casey," he said, "may I say, your Lando is a fool."

She handed him a spoon, smiling. "You may. There's water in the fridge."

The microwave dinged and Casey pulled the steaming boxes out. She set them on a counter as Adam grabbed a couple bottles of sparkling water and opened them. She peeled the plastic film covers off and the aroma danced up and round and through him, like a vapor sprite.

He took a careful bite, let the cheesy pasta simmer on his tongue and finally growled, "God, starting to feel large, again." Then he dove in.

Casey watched him eat. Manners radiated from him, even as he seemed to wolf his food down. She ate hers at a slower pace, slipping deeper into memories.

"I don't even know why Lando and I wound up together," she said, her voice soft and reflective. "We're too much alike."

"I would argue that point," Adam said.

"You don't know me well enough, yet." She focused on the Mac & Cheese. "Mom thinks she matched us up, but reality is, I'd seen him around. Parties. Awards ceremonies. He was up for a daytime Emmy, back when I was dating an actor from one of the Soaps. Vinny Something. A nice guy who couldn't decide if he was gay, straight or bi." She sighed then smiled, added, "Or even if he really cared about me. Seems being with me helped him in the gossip rags." Then she loaded a spoonful of Mac & Cheese into her mouth.

Adam sipped some water. "Have they always been at you?"

"Baby, c'mon -- you've got Gala and Hello in England, the Daily Mail; you must've noticed how they can be."

"I've never paid any mind."

She watched him take another bite and said, "You're unusual."

He smiled. "Family and friends would agree with you."

Friday, June 23, 2017

Curmudgeon be I...

I went through a series of irritating emails with the powers that be at Caladex, wanting me to explain something I do not think I did or said...and which doesn't make sense to me. Supposedly, I noted on an XL Spreadsheet that I was going to work 22 hours over 2 days on one of the packing jobs I'm doing. It's one of the jobs that increased in size and I did say I'd be doing that over 3 days, but there's no way I'd do it for 2 and most certainly would not say that when I did the original quote. But since I don't have access to the spreadsheet, I have no idea what's going on or what I originally put down or anything.

I also got bitched out because I didn't get specific enough on another quote I revised, and because I thought they were having someone else in the office get some information from a company to go with that quote when they meant something else, entirely, that I wasn't even involved in and...and I got so fucking confused about this, I just stopped responding and had a late dinner.

Part of the issue is, I'm on a Mac while the office is all PCs, so I can't access the server to get my information direct instead of second hand. And part of the problem it's causing is, it feeds into my sense of incompetence. As if I need more of that. And...part of it might be that I just haven't eaten well, the last couple of days (no lunch, today), and LA's traffic is worse than I remember and it's hot and most of my friends are out of town...and I'm feeling stupid and inadequate to the tasks ahead.

And now I'm whining like a needy dachshund.

This is bullshit.