Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Friday, April 30, 2010

Back to Oz and back...

This is downtown Toronto from a nature preserve south of town. My business was done by 2:30 so I thought I'd head back and miss the weekend traffic. No way. It was as bad on the QEW (Queen's Expressway West) as on the 101 in LA during rush hour. I finally got off, thinking it must be a wreck and toodled down to this lovely little park, walked around to relax and found this elegant view of the city's center...uh, centre.

You know, for some reason it reminds me of The Emerald City in "The Wizard of Oz" -- the movie with Judy Garland. It seems to have that same feeling of hope and promise and dreams about to be filled.

I finally headed back to the QEW and everything looked better...until I'd gone 5 miles and hit that sort of stop and go traffic that makes no sense...for 30 miles, up to the 403 split. I didn't get to shift above 2nd gear the whole way. Then it sped up again...for ten miles and another slow down for a few miles. At 5:30 I was just hitting St. Catherine and yet another slowdown, so I got off and went to Niagra-On-The-Lake to see what was playing at the Shaw Fest. Tonight was "The Cherry Orchard," a Chekov play that I've already seen and am not all that taken with. And NOTL is really little more than a small town with a couple of nice shops (that were closed) and overpriced restaurants -- tho' I found one that wasn't ridiculously so. I had a burger and fries and something to drink for $20 then drove to the bridge at Lewiston along the Niagra Parkway and finally got home at 9:15pm.

I'm too beat to work on anything but un-thinking crap, tonight. The whole time I was in the car the sun was shining and the breeze was cool and that combination makes me really tired...and a bit sunburned. Guess my shower will be low-temperature, tonight.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Inching forward

I worked on BC3, last night, and plotted out the ending section. Of course, it being Eric running the story, he gets the last words in...and it feels right. So now I just need to connect all the spots I've written and shift the ones that no longer fit out of the way and into their own section. I may let that one be a series of vignettes. I don't know, yet. Don't even know how long BC3 will be or how much trouble I'll have with it. Eric wants to be done but Allen is still playing coy.

A fellow author just published his sixth "Mark Julian, Vampire PI" book and is pushing out his seventh, soon. They really are a series and a nice easy read with some surprising attitudes popping up, now and then -- like an archangel who might be up to no good but who definitely does not give a damn about human suffering, an obsessive female werewolf into using toys on her boys (did I mention these have a bit of wary erotica in them?), a difficult relationship between a normal human cop and a 2000 year old vampire. Doesn't hurt that he's my namesake...Kyle (Cicero). His books are pure escapism and genial fun, even in the middle of a slaughter. I wish my writing could be that light and breezy.

I've also read Bob Archman's "Clydesdale" series of mysteries. He sort of a raw, rough and tumble, gay Raymond Chandler with characters of a different sort in his writing...including a main character that's got height issues. Fun in a different way, and more up front about the sex.

I wish the pictures had come out a bit neater. I got them off Nazca Plains' website since the ones from Amazon have stuff added to them.

Now back to BC3 and Allen's intransigence (I love using words I need spell check to spell).

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Life in the medium lane

I just found out my oven doesn't really cook; it just does a really good job of warming things up if you leave it in there long enough. I rarely use it but decided to, today, because my toaster oven's got stuff piled on top of it. Well...I put my dinner of a frozen organic enchilada bowl in it to cook for 45 minutes...and it wasn't even heated all the way through when I took it out. So I cleared off the toaster oven and slammed din-dins in there and it was ready in 15 minutes. I'll have to have it looked at. it's 8pm and I've just finished dinner and am about to get down on BC3. I know what I need in it and the publisher is waiting for it, so it gets done now. There will be a book 4, but not till I'm done with at least a first draft of POS...and God knows when that'll be. You see, BC3 is intended to give Allen a chance to explain his side of what happened with Eric and Bobby, but he wasn't using it for that. He wanted to get all prurient and detailed and self-aggrandizing about it and that was killing the story. So he and I had a nice little slug fest and I let him know those tales go in another book (so he can still write them and I'll have Eric refer to it in BC3) but he had to be more revealing about his thought processes and history than he's been willing to be up to now. Another point -- the 4th book can be as graphic as he wants. That finally made him happy enough to start refocusing.

Fortunately, Eric stayed out of it. He already knows what he wants in his part of this book and Allen hates his guts for the trouble he's caused; all that needs to be done is the interweaving. I even know the final moments of the book and I hope they work within the overall context.

Brendan's letting me finish this, but then I have to hunker down and work with him on POS. When he saw what I did with "Desert Land," he sat back and gave me some slack. But the implication is, I have to be just as intense with his story as with that one...which will be draining; DL was just 4000 words long and I obsessed over every word and its placement to get it right and that made me numb for a week. I may wind up your typical Irish drunk after POS. Which Brendan laughed at. The little snake. Oh, sorry -- no snakes in Ireland; he's just a sneak...

...which is an anagram of snake, right?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Empty head

This is what I get for drinking wine with dinner. Sluggish the next day and unable to focus. All I can do is zone. And dither. And contemplate the nothing around me. And try not to fall asleep at work.

I'm still bouncing back and forth on what to tackle next -- dig into "A Place Of Safety" or finish the last book of "Bobby Carapisi"...which is already threatening to expand into a fourth book, albeit one I can deal with at a later date. It'd just be Allen's erotic writings as opposed to his discussion of his life and times leading up to his encounters with Eric and Bobby. I may still be a bit drained after "Desert Land" and my core is unwilling to let me shift focus, yet. I don't know. I just can't seem to do anything creative, at the moment. Not even a sketch or painting or anything. All I want to do is sleep. So I think I'll go to bed early and see what happens, tomorrow.

Till then, here's a picture of Mississauga, a suburb of Toronto's that has enough elegant condos to put the Wilshire Corridor to shame.

Taken from the CNTower, of course, which is now the third tallest structure in the world, after the Burj Khalifa (2700 feet!) and some TV tower in China.

(Mississagua is that line of buildings you can barely see in the upper center if you open the photo and expand it.)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Jaunting up to Toronto

Quick jaunt up for business and a short wander...

The CN Tower, of course, tallest structure in the world...unless that thing in Dubai is more than 1800 feet tall. Which was all well and good but what I really wanted to see was...

Toronto's City Hall. It's considered a landmark building in architectural history and I read a lot about it when I thought about being an architect (for about six months). It was just going up then. This one, I got smiley about. was spent doing zero writing but, instead, driving about in another country and trying non-stop to convince myself I'd really left the US. Everything is SO MUCH THE SAME, it's spooky. I could use US dollars (though I got change in Canadian); all the cars and roads were a HELL of a lot the same and they even have spaghetti-bowls of freeway interchanges that put LA to shame; they got high-rise condos all over the place that would not be out of place in Chicago or Seattle; and the food's the same (Wendy's, Burger King, MacDonald's, you name it).

I had dinner at Ruth's Chris on a friend. Filet mignon with a salad, whipped potatoes, a glass of Cabernet, a cup of hot tea and dessert...for about what it'd cost in LA. But it was damn good. I spent more for the same basic meal at McCormick & Schmit's (sp?) in Chicago, eleven years ago and it was hideously bad.

And I took pictures. I even went to the observation deck of the CN Tower and stepped onto the glass floor to look down 1100 feet and got seriously nervous...which was weird, because that thing was rock solid and people were scooting about on it and I knew it was all fine in my head...but not actually seeing anything holding me up brought out the visceral freak-out in me.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

I have a passport

I got it while I was in college and the last few years have carried it with me wherever I go, even just in the US. It's come in handy a few times, like when I needed a third form of ID to get a Texas driver's license and when I decided to pop over to Canada for the first time while in Detroit. I never thought I'd have to use it to prove my citizenship to another state, however, but word now is that Arizona will be stopping ANYONE and everyone it wants to just to check on their citizenship...because if they only do it to Latinos, they'll get sued for discrimination right and left.

I've driven through Arizona a number of times (on both the 10 and the 40) and there've been occasions where I've had to change planes in Phoenix (flying Southwest), and I've been told by a number of people I come across as more European in nature than American, so I can just see me being hauled off and interrogated unless I have that with me. It's the latest in police state behavior, and basically what was done to Jews in Germany, and the GOP is doing back flips to assure everyone they won't REALLY use it to hurt REAL Americans. But that's bullshit.

Latinos who were born and raised in the US have been deported to Mexico because they couldn't prove their citizenship, immediately. Hell, Cheech wrote a song about it called "Born in East LA" (or was it Chong? I never can remember which is which). It also happened not that long ago in California, where a young man was pulled into Immigration and, because he was mentally disabled and terrified, it was assumed he couldn't speak English, so away he was sent. It took his family weeks to find him and bring him back, and was a huge embarrassment to Immigration officials. Now? It'll be shrugged of with, "We's just followin' the law."

So if you're going to see the Grand Canyon, take your passport. If you don't have one, get one. You'll need it in Phoenix, Tuscon, Sedona, Flagstaff and any stretch of freeway you're heading down. Hell, soon you'll need it in all 50 states, if the GOP has its way.

Right now, I'm wishing I'd gone and started teaching English in Berlin. I thought about doing that when I visited friends over New Year's 2007/2008. But I wimped out and focused on working in film as a writer...and look at me now. Working in Buffalo.

Moral? If you think you want to do it, don't think it -- DO it. Nine times out of ten your initial instincts are the truest and best.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Arizona SB 1070 -- Sieg Heil!

It seems Texas and Arizona are on a race to the bottom of the pack when it comes to decency and respect for their citizens, and Arizona just got the lead by passing a law that codifies racial profiling of Latinos. Anyone who says it's anything else but that is flat out lying.

This bill doesn't target illegal Irish; they look like white folk. Same for illegal Canadians and Germans and Swedes and Russians. Illegal French and Italians can sort of look Latin, but most likely all them local redneck cops'll look for are the Indio-Mexicanos -- the ones who don't look Castilliano but have the Aztec or Inca features. You know, like 'Merican injuns do but with brown skin instead of red and with squattier noses (I did not come up with this description; a friend of mine's father once used it to rant against "beaners"). Of course, Arizona already does DWB so African-Americans will see no difference.

What this means is, now it doesn't matter if your family goes back ten generations -- and lest we forget, Arizona was part of Spain and Mexico for more than a hundred years prior to becoming a US Territory, so there are a lot of Latino families in that state that have been around longer than the white folk -- if you're Mexican-American and don't have a passport proving you're a United States citizen on you at all times, they can deport you. Period. Driver's license doesn't count. Green card MIGHT be okay, but I wouldn't bet on it.

And it was all done by the Republicans. And if you belong to the Republican Party, you are giving this type of fascistic garbage your tacit support.

Well...this is disgusting. Disgraceful. Despicable. And the disease is spreading through our nation, thanks to the GOP. If the Democratic Party doesn't do something about it and do it NOW (and fuck Obama's dithery little wish for consensus) then they also tacitly agree with this growing filth. After all, silence = consent.

(BTW -- you might notice the Arizona Legislature didn't target the people and companies who HIRE illegals; that might hit too many white folk who support the bill but still want their gardens cultivated and homes and offices cleaned for $5 an hour, no taxes paid.)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Done and gone

I finally made myself stop dithering with DL and printed it up and sent it off to see what happens. This magazine says they respond within 8 months...which is a damn long time to wait to see if I'm getting it published...but I don't makes the rules, I just gets 'em applied to me. And that's all the info anyone's gettin' on this...for now.

I got a new phone for just $30 and a 2 year extension on my contract...which I don't mind; Sprint's been as good as anything else. I also got a better deal on my plan for the same monthly payout. What's even better -- I'm now the proud owner of a chrome red beast that's lighter and smarter than the one it replaced.

Ah, technology.

Now off to veg.

Got the day off

So I'm going to finish with "Desert Land" and get a new phone since my phone's battery now keeps a charge for maybe 10 minutes (it's 3 whole years old) and even my backup battery is starting to act up...and then I'll contemplate my future.

As for my past, here's a photo of the reason I didn't go to Paris.

The green streaks above the volcano are the Northern Lights. I think the color comes from the film or type of processing they used on the photo, because even the snow has a hint of green to it. Besides, I've seen the Northern Lights -- when we lived in Grand Forks, North Dakota -- and my God, were they phenomenal. Whispering gauze curtains of a blue so pale it was almost white, swaying in a midnight sky of ten million diamonds. I watched them for an hour before they began to fade. I'd seen pictures of them, before, but the emotions you feel while witnessing something so elegant and gentle...I think that was the first time I really caught an idea of how insignificant human beings are, despite our arrogant insistence that we're the center of the universe.

It's a beautiful photo -- but I'm still pissed off at that fucking volcano.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Headed for Toronto...

For a Monday meeting to discuss the Toronto Book Fair in September. After that comes work on various other little deals and the website and I'm getting into things I've never done before. It's all a bit overwhelming but still fascinating, to an extent. Thing is, today I spent so much time researching a possible direction to go in search of new business, I'm brain dead. No thoughts to reveal or ideas to contemplate. Just brain death, thanks to a need to make a living since I ain't rich or doing what I want to do with my life. As jobs go, this one's good. But I have a feeling I'll have more and more days like this and wind up just writing on the weekends.


I saw this picture online a few months ago...don't remember where or what it's from (Colorado?) but it sort of suits me, right now.

Now I think I'll make some tea and let myself whine, internally, for a bit.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Just for the hell of it...

Here's the first section of "Desert Land", again. If you want to compare it to the first version I posted, that's on April 9th.

I hate El Paso the moment I see it. Bleak dusty haze filters hovels of clay and tile under early morning light. Mountains dance around each other like wary partners. Nothing but brown in shades barely varied. All framed by streaks of grime and shattered bugs on the windshield.

“There’s no green.” My first words after hours of silence.

Beside me, mother pops her gum. “Can’t do much about it.”

Shite, hits my brain but stops. She scratches her left wrist with her right fingernails, so I know better than to speak.

I’m behind the wheel. Mid-60’s Texas let me have a hardship license. Let me aim the old Dodge wagon down a highway half-constructed and travel all night to avoid daytime’s heat. Let me if an adult rides shotgun. Mother qualifies even though she cannot drive but only chew gum the whole way as my brother and sister sleep in the back, suitcases for pillows and as partitions.

Passing through the city gathers more dust from deep holes dug for the highway to come. Heat drowns the cool night. I can bake or roll down a window and cough. Warmth makes me weary so I choose the latter, but mother snaps, “I’ll get asthma,” and wields her inhaler as proof.

We stop at a light. I wait till her eyes grow sharp before I grip the window’s handle and an ancient woman in black sneaks a withered hand inside to touch my hair and whisper, “Ay, qué lindo, por dios,” before vanishing. I’m used to these attacks. Nana said “those people” think a redheaded child means good luck. We lived in San Antonio, then, and it happened every time I went downtown with her. I asked if that meant stepchildren, too. She laughed but did not answer, and I was moved to England a month later. She died soon after.

“That’s why you keep the windows up,” mother snaps then inhales her fake breath. My brother and sister wake to whimper, “I’m hungry,” and mother replies, “We’re almost home.”

Home? Here? Never. I grow so, so tired, but I drive on.

We locate the airbase despite her husband’s directions. I show a wary guard my driver’s permit and Dependent ID to prove I am who I am.

“Key-rice,” he says. “Tesas le’s babies dri’e cahs!” His accent reminds me of London. I almost weep.

He puts a sticker on the windshield and tells me to follow the road to a parallel street facing the runway.

We find the house. White stone blocks with black-trim-windows. Barely-green grass and trees desperately trying to take hold. A mirage of normal life. Other houses are its twin, each with a fenced backyard, each with a sad air cooler atop the nothing roof. Wide strips of space sit between them.

I park. The key mailed to us unlocks the front door. No one greets us. Her husband is on duty.

Mother sighs. More stone walls in white. Linoleum floors. Furniture shoved about and boxes everywhere. A small kitchen boasts a noisy refrigerator. A hallway leads to four bedrooms. Once officers’ quarters, now worn out and soon to be given away, so the Air Force can feel generous to non-com families.

I look in the first room on the right. Not big but my bed, dresser, desk and art table fit. How did he know this one’s mine? Because the bathroom’s across the hall? Or the windows face trashcans? Probably the latter. I look at the bed. I don’t need a sheet to sleep.

“We need milk!”

I go to the kitchen. Mother slams cupboards and sneers at the fridge. It holds bread, cheese and beer.

“Have you money?” I ask.

“When your father gets home.”

No, your HUSBAND. Unspoken, again. She slams more empty cabinets and scratches her wrist. I leave the house.

I remember passing a tiny base exchange on a corner of this fake oasis, available for snacks, beer and cigarettes. I walk past a half-dozen homes to hunt and gather since her husband didn’t. And to keep from falling asleep. My one true survival skill.

Milk, eggs, Frosted Flakes, jam and peanut butter take the last of my allowance, less a dime. I hope she pays me back.

By the door, I notice a magazine rack with “Hunter’s Digest”, “Popular Mechanics”, “Gold Key Comics” -- and a small physique photo pamphlet. I first saw one at a news kiosk in Piccadilly. I set down the bag, grab a comic book and use it to hide the pamphlet. Inside are strong, beautiful men. A tiny cloth covers their privates. My heart quickens but no one screams, “’Ere, shove orf, yer buggerin’ lit’le bast’d.” The clerk is busy so I slip the pamphlet in the bag and buy the comic with my last dime. Outside, I slide the pamphlet into the comic and put it in my back pocket. It’s my reward for safely bringing my family to this hideous place.

Letting go

Draft 10 of "Desert Land" is done and I felt comfortable enough with it to print out a nice clean copy for my file. I still print hard copies of everything, since I once lost 50 pages of writing, completely. Of course, I was on a PC then; now that I'm on a Mac, the only time I have problems is when Word decides to freak out and freeze on me; and I have that set up for auto-save so I don't lose too much.

I dunno what it is about word that keeps doing that -- not often but often enough to irritate. I never have that problem with Final Draft...and I could use that for narrative writing if I wanted. It has different limitations, however, that keep me away from it...though at the moment I can't remember what they are.

Anyway, I'll be done with DL tonight and ready to face POS, after this. Meaning I'm not sure about BC3. I'm beginning to wonder if I'm going the right direction with that story. Allen was going to explain himself, but something about his ideas never has felt right and I think it's because he just wants to shock and not explain. He and I need to have a much more in depth conversation before I go forward with this; Eric's even a bit leery of him (Eric is the narrator pushing the story forward in "Bobby Carapisi 1&2"; Allen is accused of being in on the attacks on him and Bobby). My publisher won't be happy, but he's so backlogged right now, I doubt he'll make much of a fuss.

Man...I feel so cool -- talking about "my publisher."

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Winding down...

Into a dead brain zone. I got one more polish of DL in me then I have to shut down for a while to let the batteries recharge. I think I'll veg, tonight, and watch "Seven Samurai" again. A brilliant movie, absolutely brilliant. It's a long movie -- nearly 3 hours -- but not one moment of it's boring to me.

However I seem to be in the minority opinion, there. I once watched it on TCM and Robert Osborne and Rose McGowan discussed it, afterwards, and went on and on about how it could have been cut by a third and lost nothing -- and I nearly put my Dr. Pepper through my TV. I lost all respect for Osborne after that; as for McGowan, I know she's an actress but I have zero interest in anything she'll ever do because she's obviously shallow in the most typical sense. Yes, the movie has moments of repose and contemplation, and it builds slowly, step by step to an absolutely breathtaking battle in a driving rainstorm, but to me every step was important in building the reality of Japanese life in feudal Japan and by taking its time and letting you become friends with the samurai and the people they're out to protect, it makes the victory and sense of loss at the end overwhelming. You don't get that from "Transformers" or "Armageddon" or any of the tripe popped out by Hollywood, lately. Hell, I even saw a movie that could have been really good nearly ruined by the feeling that pacing was more important than the people in the film (that and the villains were absolute idiots, but that was also dictated more by pacing; KISS bad guys to make the action come faster).

I once had an argument with a film professor over Jean Renoir's "La Grande Illusion." It's a 1936 film about POWs in WWI and has a beauty and humanity to it that is nearly impossible to find, these days. There were three main sections to the film -- the set-up and capture of the Frenchmen and their confinement, living in the prison camp and trying to find ways to escape, then two of the men escaping and finding refuge at a farm house before making it across the border to Switzerland. The professor insisted it would have still been a good movie without the last act set in the farmhouse (one of the French escapees falls in love with a German woman who's lost all the men in her life to the war). To me, that's what elevated the film to poetry (and I know what I said in my previous post, but this is the sort of beauty I actively love to find). I understood his point, but it was a minimalist's one -- "You said what you need to, now get on with it."

But sometimes meaning comes from the periphery of a story, the incidental moments that give it life and elegance. In today's world of "everything has to be connected absolutely" as regards storytelling -- meaning you can't have someone like to carve soap animals unless it winds up emphasizing some element of the character; shadings no longer allowed just for the sake of themselves -- it feels like we've lost the ability to tell simple stories about simple people. Stories like "400 Blows" -- about a boy whose parents neglect him as he slides into juvenile delinquency. Or "Wild Strawberries" -- about an irascible old man driving to accept an award and learning he's been a jerk most of his life. Or "Late Spring" -- about a man who wants his daughter to get married even though he knows if she does, he'll be left alone. Or "Dodsworth" -- about a man who gives up his life to make his wife happy only to learn she can never be satisfied. Or "Norman's Room" -- about a woman who's got cancer and has to convince her distant sister to take over the care of their ailing father and elderly aunt. Small gentle stories about normal everyday people.

And I write things like that? Sometimes. I'd like to think "Bobby Carapisi" fits into that mold...and that "Place of Safety" will...and maybe "Desert Land" does. I wrote a novella titled "Perfection" (published in an anthology called "Boys Will Be Boys - 2") that has my usual erotic elements in it, but which focuses on a young art student finding not only his muse but his meaning in life, and I think that's in this realm. Same for "5 Dates," my last screenplay...where I sort of updated "Beauty and the Beast" into a high school in Ann Arbor, Michigan but kept it grounded in reality to where it works on a human level, too.

Oh, I dunno -- maybe I'm deluded. I just like to think I'm aiming for the same things I like in books and films and plays but in reality I'm just as caught up in the rules of the game. Guess I'll never know.

Monday, April 19, 2010

I'm a maniac

I just did draft #9 of DL and finally think it's close to being complete...short of choosing just the right word for just the right reaction at just the right moment. Currently it's at 4000 words, exactly...and seems to like that number, no matter what I do. When the story becomes that precise it's probably best to leave it alone...only I can't help but go over it and over it to polish the diamond to the point it blinds whomever it allows in. Hence the reference to my maniacal nature. Somehow I know I'll stop buffing when the time is right. I sense it coming close...but still need to do one more pass, at least. Just to make sure the style is consistent and the tone is perfect.

I just remembered a class I took in grad school, for creative writing. It was headed by a published poet whose attitude was, "You're not a writer unless you can write poetry." Well...I have no tolerance for poems. There are some I like...some I like parts of...but to me poetry has always been a little too full of itself to carry any true meaning. Oh, I've had arguments with people who swear the true essence of literature stems from the poets. Browning. Keats. Whitman. Ginsburg. Angelou. But in poetry I sense people trying to say something without saying it and expecting the reader to work to find out what it is they're trying to say, and that's not really for me, I can be obscure enough without the help of nothing symbolism.

However, I do find myself liking lines that are not locked into the poetic form....descriptive phrases that could just as easily be found in a work of fiction. I think the one line in a classic poem that caught my attention -- and I no longer know the name of the piece, just that it was written a good 250 years ago -- was from a widow's lament for her murdered husband (he was Irish, his killer British gentry). To show the depth of his love for her, she noted he had "walls painted white for me." Those five words carried an entire novel of depth to my mind while the rest of the poem fell into typical stuff.

That's what I'm trying to do with "Desert Land." Have lines sear themselves into the reader's mind and build a world so real and deep to them, they can never forget it. I know some people will say I'm trying to write a form of poetry -- would that be like prose-poems? -- but I'm not trying to obscure the point I want to make by being cute with words. Or using them to dance with and show off my cleverness or facility. My words are solely at the service of my characters...and sometimes those words are harsh and brutal and cruel and prurient, but I fight to keep from letting them become the end-game for my story. They have to mesh with the reality of the world my people inhabit.

Rant, rant, rave...and back to that writing teacher and his attitude. I responded by writing a long poem about a boy taking out the garbage and set it to the cadence of "I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree." And started it with "Oft." He HATED it. Mission accomplished. To an extent. I'd always gotten "A's" in my writing courses; he gave me a "B"...which hurt my GPA. My first lesson in "No pain, no gain, and what the hell is wrong with you for wanting it to hurt? Idiot."

But that's just one more aspect of my maniacal nature.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Just another picture

I made a quckie panorama of the Falls taken at the end of February from the tower on the Canadian side. Not perfect, but give you an idea of how frozen everything was.

Nothing's going right

I only got to Niagra, Canada yesterday because the line of cars waiting to get over the bridge was massive. I then drove up to another crossing point...but that was even worse, so I drove back, parked and wandered about...then walked over the bridge and had dinner at an okay restaurant on the Hill. And as I slowly finished my Molson Canadian draft beer, I worked on DL. It was cold and windy, with occasional sleet trying to make it down, but I liked it. Nothing more to here's some pictures. The first photo is the Niagra River a couple miles below the falls. The second one is from just above the Falls. The third one's obvious. The last two show how the Falls looked in winter and how they look now.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Still down about the ash

I hadn't realized how much I was looking forward to this trip to Paris till it fell apart. I even tried to talk the boss into letting me fly into Barcelona and take an overnight train up to the city. It would've put me in at 9am on the day I had to help with the fair's move-out, but I could've crashed at the hotel for a few hours and worked and still had all of Monday to do the city, like I'd planned. But it would've added 250 euro to the cost and now it looks like I'd have had to go BACK to Barcelona to get out of Europe, the way that volcano is going. It'll be interesting to see what happens with all those book dealers trying to get home on Monday.

I wonder what this means for the long term? If it keeps blowing for a year or two, like it did a couple centuries ago, Heathrow, De Gualle and Frankfurt are doomed as major airports for passengers and freight; it'll all have to move south to Spain and Italy...which may happen anyway, after this fiasco.

The only positive note for me is, "Desert Land" is close to being done. I'm about to start on my 8th official draft and I hope I've increased its intensity rather than diminished it. There's a lot packed into this story...maybe too much...but it's finally feeling almost right in the narrator's arc and the style is working consistently, now. Very immediate in nature. I also think having some anger at my current situation helped solidify the story's meaning. We'll have to see...because the next step is putting it away for a while -- longer this time, absolutely -- and letting it ferment like wine. Problem is, you never know how the wine's going to turn out till you uncork the bottle -- if it'll be beauty or vinegar -- but that's half the fun.

I'm now going to drive up to Niagra-on-the-Lake so I can at least say I got out of the country this weekend. I'm NOT in a US frame of mind...and if all I can do is Canada, so be it.

Friday, April 16, 2010

No Paris

I got all the way to Philadelphia before US Air decided to cancel my flight and there's nothing available till Wednesday or Thursday, at the earliest. So the trip's off and I'm heading back to Buffalo. I'm brutally disappointed...but you can't argue with Mother Nature, not when she gets pissed off.

So I guess this weekend will be spent working on DL and BC3. Not what I wanted to do.

Shit, I'm not in the mood for anything more.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Now PARIS is off?!?!?!?!

Dammit -- I've got all my paperwork, my hotel's reserved, I have everything planned out for my trip to Paris -- and a damn volcano has to pick THIS moment to blow. Why me? What does this always happen to me? Is there no one else in the world for the fates to play with so? (Picture rending of cloth and hear howls at the moon, here.)

De Gualle is closed, right now, but US Airways still issued me a boarding pass for my flights tomorrow. So...if I don't hear otherwise, I'm heading down. I have contingency plans -- flying into Frankfurt, Zurich or Barcelona -- but those mean less time for me in the City of Light and Kyle don't like that idea. I guess I'll know if I'm going when the plane does or don't take off. If I don't get to go, I'll really be pissed...but we have a contingency plan for that, too. Man, life can be such an adventure.

So I came home early and am keeping my eyes and ears open for the latest, and I decided to do another draft of DL before I leave. I was going to wait, but since I may be here instead of there, I may as well put my time waiting to some good use.

Oh...lord...does ANYone suffer as I do? ANYone? Sigh. (Picture a face full of ennui, here, along with a cup of hot tea and a chocolate biscotti.)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I found my ending at P F Chang's...

For BC3, that is. I went to the local Galleria Mall to visit the Apple Store, found they had a PF Chang's there and had some Orange Peel Beef and a Tsingdao beer as I went over the outline for the last section of this story...and suddenly I realized what it needed was a character from Part 1 returning and being beefed up, a bit. Then his history fell into place and the end of the story came together and I finally understood why Eric's using ice hockey as his metaphor. Seems that one beer and the peppers in the beef popped the dam behind my brain and now I'm aware of the road, again.

I now have some Euros on me and a new little roller-luggage piece that I can carry on all the way across the Atlantic and back. I'll only be in Paris three days so I won't need much in the way of clothing. I'll have a lot of paperwork but most of that stays there. It's going to be a cheap trip -- no rental car and my hotel's only 75 euro a night. I hope that's not a complete disaster, it being so cheap while still in close proximity to the Louvre. Of course, I'm not going the museum. You cannot properly see the Louvre in a single day, and I've a huge number of other things I want to get done. I went when I was last in Paris; I doubt it's changed all that much in 24 years. Except for that pyramid thing-y in the central plaza.

Besides, the weather's supposed to be fantastic, so I'm checking out some things for RIHC6v2 to make sure I didn't totally screw up and going to the top of the Eiffel Tower, again, and just plain wandering for the one day I have to do all that stuff.

Now back to work on BC3.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I should start reading the paper, again...

I used to read the LA Times, daily, when I lived in LA. It's not a great paper but it kept me up on a lot of things I wouldn't ordinarily have known about. Sometimes it even had interesting interviews. Of course, its penchant for taking the more conservative viewpoint on any political or social issue was irritating, at times, but I could handle it...except for the political cartoonist they used -- Michael Ramirez. He was such a right-wing ideologue so filled with hatred for liberals it dripped from the ink he used, I had to stop even looking at the Opinion page or I'd blow a gasket.

I'm thinking this because the Pulitzers were awarded, yesterday, and the NY Times and Washington Post got several...and I'm wondering if it's just because they're the Times and the Post. Gleaning my info strictly from the web, I've grown to see both papers as collapsing icons of truth now used to proselytize in the name of their conservative masters. But I don't actually READ either paper...and that's not right. If I'm going to bitch about something, I ought to know what it is I'm actually bitching about...and make sure that bitching's from my own experiences and not someone else's. I don't like it when people deign to tell me what my opinion should be when it's the right wing nuts doing the telling; maybe I should be more careful not to fall into that same trap with the left wing.

I'm a liberal, no question, but I don't follow ALL liberal thought blindly. I support the right of Israel to exist and think 85% of the Palestinians' troubles stem from their own actions. And while I opposed the invasion of Iraq and think the Bush administration belongs in jail for war crimes, and I hate the idea of how many Iraqis were probably killed, I'm glad the initial invasion went without huge numbers of casualties against our soldiers; it could have been a bloodbath all the way around. That it still became one wasn't the soldiers' fault; it was the fools running things who made the situation so much worse for everyone involved.

So...I think I'll start reading the "New York Times". Of course, that's between moments when I'm writing or working or just trying to be human. Doesn't leave many minutes in the day.

Monday, April 12, 2010

New York is done...

And aside from working till 2 in the morning and nearly sending a piece to London that had Had HAD to go to Paris, it went all right. I suppose. It helps to have 6 double-checks on everything to make sure it's all the way it should be, because when I rush or get tired, I stop being a detail guy and make snap decisions...and that's not the best thing to do about stuff like this. Everything has to be right or it all falls apart. Fortunately, in Paris we only have one truck to load and stuff to return to London instead of a half dozen it might be all right. We'll have to see. If I screw this up in any way, I might as well pack my bags and head back to Texas.

I couldn't get into "Mother Ireland" at all. But I brought a book titled "People Power" as a backup. It studies Peace/Conflict Resolution Organizations in S. Africa, Israel and N. Ireland and how they're helping or hindering the process of finding peace in those countries. It's an 8 year-old book and I already detect a hint of anti-Zionist bias in it, but they still make some very interesting points. For instance, even though a lot of media focus is on high-profile politicians and leaders working to settle these situations, it's the grass roots groups who wind up getting the populace to either agree or disagree with the compromises that become necessary. So even though an agreement may be found, the people who have to live under it might decide not to unless they've already been shown how it's beneficial for them and not just told, "This is how it is, now." That might be why it's been so hard for the Good Friday Accords to take hold, especially on the Protestant side. It wasn't until Ian Paisley , the rabid anti-Catholic, began showing himself working with Gerry Adams, formerly a member of the IRA, that things began to settle down and now only the fanatics are the ones causing trouble...only to piss off their leaders.

This is already helping me figure out things about section 3 of POS and the peace group Brendan's sister, Mairead, is part of. Who knows, maybe I'll actually get the book written some day.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Time for a break

I'm now at the point where I don't know if "Desert Land" is working as a story, so I printed up a copy and put it in a binder and set it aside and will not look at it again till I'm back from Paris. I needs the space to regain my perspective. I also need to finish my taxes and this has been a major distraction.

I'm taking an Irish book to read on the plane to and from New York. It's called "Mother Ireland" and is a curiously uninvolving meditation on a woman's life in that country and how she feels about it. There's a lot of narcissism floating around in it, like her viewpoint is the only viewpoint one should have...but it does offer me clues as to the basic nature of the society and they ain't pretty. Which is good.

I'm also taking this break from DL to work on BC3. It's back to offering me suggestions on how to string the bits I do have written together.

I won't be using much of what little French I know in Paris. My contact there for the book fair gently let me know my choices of words can be confusing. Meaning it's better if I just keep to the polite and hold off on trying any true conversations. Oh, well. I have a long way to go before I'm good at any language, even English.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

I love sleeping in

I worked on DL, last night, till almost midnight so kicked back and didn't get up till after 10, this morning. The story wasn't as hard on me, this time around...and I'm afraid that means I'm diminishing it. I'm doing some more work today -- clarifying aspects I thought of as I was getting ready for bed and finally doing some research to verify what I've put in the story. I'm working off memory a lot, here.

It's not often I jump into a story and just write it before researching the hell out of it, but I pretty much did that this time. All I did beforehand was pull up a map of El Paso to locate things and found a site for Biggs Air Force Base (it's part of Fort Bliss, now). Problem is, the map said some of my memory must be off and I tried to follow it...but it's not right. The reality of what Google says and the fogginess of my brain are in direct contradiction, and I'm more prone to trust brain than fact, right now...even though I last lived in the area 45 years ago.

I did pull up a satellite image of the area via Google, today...and it seems to support my memory. Now I just need to find the middle school I attended, and if that lines up -- screw today's facts and all hail yesterday's truth.

Tomorrow I'm off to New York City to help the load out of the NY Book Fair -- which means I get to see a lot of JFK and a warehouse in the area, with no time to tour the city since I'm schduled to return Monday evening. Ah...the glamorous life of a jet setter.

Just came across this quote and it fits so perfectly, I have to add it in --

One of the most difficult things to do is to
paint darkness which nonetheless has light in it.

-- Vincent van Gogh

This is "Desert Land."

Friday, April 9, 2010

In the category of "It Ain't Done Till It's Done"...

My trip to London now appears to be off. We may sponsor an event at the book fair and if that happens, then the owner of the company is going there to host it. Fortunately, I hadn't bought my plane ticket, yet, and the hotel didn't require a deposit to hold the room. Oh, would have been nice to go...

I worked on "Desert Land," last night. Polishing and honing it even more. I'm lost in this one and can't move on till it's done. It's in four parts; here's the opening one.

Kyle Michel Sullivan

I hate El Paso the moment I see it. Bleak dusty haze filters hovels of clay and tile under early morning light. Mountains dance around each other like wary partners. Everything feels brown in shades barely varied. Streaks of grime and shattered bugs on the windshield frame it. I drive since mother can’t. Her husband waits for us, here, so mid-60’s Texas allows me a hardship driver’s license to let me pilot the old station wagon on a twelve-hour journey down a freeway half-constructed, at night to avoid the heat of the long as an adult sits by me. Mother qualifies so sits in the passenger seat chewing gum as my brother and sister sleep in the back, suitcases for pillows and partitions to lessen chances of anger and betrayal.

“There’s no green.” My first words in hours.

Mother pops a bubble. “Can’t do anything about that.”

Shite, say I, unspoken because she now scratches her left wrist with her right fingernails. I know better than to speak.

Passing through the city gathers more dust from holes dug in the earth. More highway to come. Heat quickly drowns the cold night. I can bake in the car or roll down a window and cough. I choose the latter -- but mother growls, “I’ll get asthma,” and wields her inhaler to prove it.

We stop at a light. I wait until mother’s eyes grow sharp and angry before I grip the window’s handle. Only half a roll up before an old, old woman in black, shiny rosary wound around withered hands, smelling unwashed in the heat, leaves the crosswalk to touch my hair and whisper, “Ay, qué lindo. Por Dios.” I tolerate these attacks because Nana said “Mes-cans” think redheaded children mean good luck. I wondered if that meant stepchildren, too? She laughed but did not answer.

“That’s why you keep the windows up,” mother snaps then inhales her fake breath. My brother and sister cry, “I’m hungry” and “When we gonna eat?” and mother replies, “We’re almost home.”

Home? Here? I grow so, so sleepy, but I drive on.

Instructions wait for us at the airbase entrance. Home of the 95th Bomber Wing, but not much longer. I show a guard my driver’s permit and Air Force Dependent’s ID to prove I am me.

“Christ,” he says. “Tesas le’s babies dri’e cahs!” His accent reminds me of London. I almost laugh.

He puts a sticker on the windshield then passes us through. Follow the road to a parallel street facing the runway. Number 465. We find the house -- white cinder blocks, black trimmed-windows, green grass and trees desperately trying to take hold, an oasis in the middle of nothingness. All houses are its twin, each with a fenced backyard, each with a weary air cooler atop the roof, wide strips of dirt and grass between them.

I park on the street. Mother’s husband is on duty. The key mailed to us unlocks the front door. We enter.

Mother sighs. More block walls in white. Linoleum floors. Furniture shoved about and boxes everywhere. A small kitchen and noisy refrigerator. Hallway straight down the middle to four bedrooms. Once officers’ quarters, now the base is about to close the Air Force feels generous to its non-coms.

I look in the first room on the right. Not the biggest but my bed, chest, desk and art table fit. How did her husband know this one is mine? Because the bathroom is across the hall? I look at the bed. I smile. I don’t need a sheet to sleep.

“We need milk!”

I go to the kitchen. Mother checks the cupboards and nods to the refrigerator. It holds cheese, bottles of beer and soda. “I need money.”

“When your father gets home.”

No, your HUSBAND. Unspoken, again. She slams empty cabinets, scratches her wrist. I leave the house.

A base exchange sits in a corner of the fake oasis, just up the street, there for quick food, candy, beer and cigarettes. I walk past half a dozen homes to hunt and gather like her husband should. And to keep from falling asleep.

Milk, eggs, Frosted Flakes, bread and peanut butter take the three dollars I have left, plus a few pennies from my pocket. I hope she pays me back, this time.

By the door, I notice a magazine rack with things like “Hunter’s Digest” and “Popular Mechanics” and “Gold Key Comics” -- and three physique pamphlets with photos. I saw one at a news kiosk in Piccadilly. I casually choose a comic book, sneak a pamphlet up and flip through it. Inside are strong, beautiful men. A tiny cloth covers their privates. My heart quickens but no one screams, “’Ere, shove orf, yer buggerin’ lit’le bast’d.” The clerk is busy so I slip the pamphlet in the bag of food and buy the comic with my last dime. Outside, I slide the pamphlet into the comic and put it in my back jeans pocket. It’s my reward for bringing my family safe to this hideous place.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I have odd tastes

Seems I'm one of the few people who likes Philip Glass's music. I enjoy listening to the slow rhythmic builds and segues and vague monotony that isn't really monotonous. So last night, since I couldn't make myself focus on BC3 or DL, I watched "Glass: A Portrait of Philip in 12 Parts" and not only learned a bit about the man, but had my own method of writing justified in a way. He refers to writing his music as hearing a river that runs underground, and you can hear it but you can't find it. Still you keep looking.

That's how I feel sometimes when I'm writing. I can hear the story being told to me but when I put it down on paper (or input it into my desktop) it's not quite right, yet, and I have to let my characters show me the way to completion. I'm not sure why the shift from the ephemeral to the emphatic causes so much to vanish from the tale until I've gone over it a dozen times -- basically dug my way down to find that friggin' river -- but it does. That's why I rewrite my work so much -- to catch every inflection I can that the story offers.

He also has the attitude that if you don't like his music, don't listen to it. There's lots of other music in the world; go listen to that and be happy. That's an attitude I started to cultivate in my screenwriting...which is not the way things get done in Hollywood. Writers have to be complete whores to get started and if you offer ANY hint of trouble, they chuck you aside. I've even had friends do that to me, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised I got nowhere fast. The positive thing about writing the books I write and dealing with the publisher I have means I can do and say just about anything I want to. And I do.

Once I'm done with POS, I think I'm going to try and shift one of my scripts into book form but not in the usual way. I want the music and imagery to work with the words to build an experience in the reader's mind...a bit like what's happening with this short story, just bigger.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Did it again.

I was going to expand a chapter of BC3, last night, after doing some research on hockey but instead wound up working on that short story...and getting so wound up by it I couldn't go to sleep till 3am. I cut about 500 words out of it and made it more immediate in style, like the narrator is telling you what he's doing as he's doing it. I also clarified aspects of the story and discovered a theme behind it. Looks like this story is aiming to be a kick in the teeth of anyone who reads it. I don't know what I'll do with it, once I'm done; I just know it's running my life whenever it wants to.

I don't know what's going to happen with BC3, now. I can't seem to focus on it, so I might just watch "Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts." It's on my list from Netflix and I found it stuffed into my mailbox. Seems the postman has no problem destroying mail so he doesn't have to take care in giving it to you. I have yet to receive a single piece of mail that is not crumpled in some way.

I was trying to get some reviews done of BC 1&2 (both online and in magazines) but can't get anyone to say they will. DNA Magazine's reviewer says he won't do it unless the book is available in Australia (they're based in Sydney). It is, but he doesn't believe me and won't check to see. A couple of online sites just tell me, "Not now, maybe later; contact us in a few months." I guess they think it's just a porn book. None of my work is...but you can't change people's minds once they're made up.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Don't know much about ice hockey

But Eric's begun using that as a metaphor for what he's doing in this book. Which means I need to learn more about the I guess it's good I'm in Buffalo, where they really like their hockey. Seems the Sabres are as big a deal as the Cowboys are in Dallas, especially since they're about to be in the playoffs for the Stanley Cup. So I just find a bar that pulls Guinness in the right way and sit and watch some games and try to not sound like a fool in this book.

It's irritating when my characters do things like this to me. I've never been a big follower of sports, so when Bobby chose to be a relief pitcher in BC 1&2, I had to learn enough about the sport to let his voice sound real. It doesn't take a huge amount of research to get to where you start picking up the chit-chat and lingo, because all you really need to do is keep from hitting a wrong note in a reference the character makes. And I got smacked down once for doing that in a script, when I didn't catch that hockey is played in three periods instead of four.

Of course, that's half the reason I'm nervous about getting into "A Place Of Safety." I have to make it sound like Brendan grew up in Derry in the 50's, 60's and 70's in not just his speech but his manners and attitudes and his own view of the opportunities offered a Catholic boy in a city run by rabid anti-Papists. When I think of how nuts I went working over Bobby's part of the story to keep him from carrying anything but a baseball guy's view of life, I know I'll be ten times worse with Brendan...maybe to the point of madness. We'll see how it goes.

Today was raised the possibility of me going to London to handle the Olympia Book Fair in the first week of June. Just the vague query of, "How much would airfare be for me to fly out of Toronto?" $1000+, so far. Of course I'm up for it. I love London, actually feel at home there and would move in a heartbeat if given the opportunity.

Monday, April 5, 2010

High and Low

That's the title of an amazing film by Kurosawa, who took a simple police procedural story and made it into a meditation on honor and morality. The son of a businessman's chauffeur is mistaken for the businessman's son and kidnapped, and even after the error is discovered the kidnapper still demands the businessman pay the ransom. So the businessman has to choose between bankruptcy or the life of a child not his own. It's based on an Ed McBain 87th Precinct novel, which is a solid read but still just a decent crime story. Kurosawa expands and deepens the situation and characters to such an extent, it's like watching a passion play about what will lead you to heaven and how easy it is to fall into hell. The scene on a bullet train between Osaka and Tokyo is breathtaking, but it's the manner in which the police slowly hone in on and tighten their grip around the kidnapper/killer that's mesmerizing.

I talk about this because I watched it, again, this time on my computer DVD player. I'm finding I prefer to use my Mac Mini for this, because when I play wide screen videos on a regular DVD player, the frame tends to cut off the ends. Movies that should have a ratio of 1 to 2:35 wind up more like 2:20, and directors like Kurosawa use very square inch of the frame. On my Mac Mini, it plays surrounded by black and you see the full frame. It's smaller, but Jesus what detail!

Busy day at work kept me from did the knowledge I can now do it from home. I prepared shipping labels for the move out from the New York Fair, this weekend, and a manifest for what needs to be sent home from Paris for next weekend. But I'm finally fed and I watched the news and I feel relaxed...and it's time to dig into BC-3. Here goes.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Junky time

I got so busy getting caught up on my links and research contacts and bills and such, I was online till 1am. Can't let that happen, again, not on a work night. But it was so great, and I did feel a bit like a junky coming down off a high. I can do a lot on my laptop but I won't do my banking and bill paying in public, and I can't spend hours and hours sitting in a noisy coffee shop working around people who have the most inane chatter going, possible. One man and his trophy wife at a table behind me actually spent 45 minutes trying to decide what music to use for their new iPhone, sampling this and that and something else and back to this and what about the other and on and on until I finally gave up, shut down and left because it was either get some distance or start tossing furniture. Now I can work in a civilized environment, drink tea or DP or beer, eat at my leisure and even go onto my NSFW sites looking for...uh...inspiration. Yeah, that's the word. Inspiration.

And do my laundry, since the laundry room is right next to my apartment. Right now, I'm sipping some tea with Half & Half in it...and I understand why the British just use milk; it works better with the tea. But I had it because this recipe for Potato Leek Soup called for it...and the soup turned out all right, if a bit bland because I used vegetable stock as the base instead of chicken stock. (Chicken makes me sick...though turkey doesn't; I wonder if they make a turkey broth?)

Anyway, I finally feel settled in and ready to build a structure to my new world. Which includes finishing BC-3 and getting onto POS. And exercising more. I'd like to start dropping weight instead of just not gaining. I felt most comfortable at 165 lbs (I was as low as 145 in my 20's and that was ridiculous) but that'll be a long-term goal. I'm well over 200, right now, and my feet are pissed at me for it.

Okay...when I start yakking about weight and pains like all the other old farts, it's time to break the loop and get back to writing something serious.

And just for the hell of it, here's something that inspires me:

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Back in the 21st Century

I got WiFi -- actually Verizon FiOS and it rocks. I also have phone-age so I can do the fax thing if need be. I can listen to or Pandora on my laptop as I work my desktop and I feel so very nearly up to date. No iPhone for internet contact, yet...but I think I'm avoiding that next step away from humanity for now. Of course, what made the whole experience more pleasurable was my installation guy -- cable guy? -- was a doll, and once he figured I was going to stay out of his way (and was not going to make a pass at him) got comfortably chatty. The full installation took a good 6 hours of running cables and mounting boxes of relay info and moving the stove and the fridge to lay out connections...but for once everything worked just right the first time. Very cool.

I mention he was a bit nervous around me because my fridge magnets advertise I'm gay. But I couldn't even consider trying anything with him because he looked so much like how I picture Bobby Carapisi (except for his hair being a lighter shade of brown), it would have been a debasement of the character. Which is weird, no question, me protecting the image of a fictional person...but that's how it was. In fact, him being so hard at work got me to writing on BC-3 (added 6 pages), figuring out what I have, exactly, and what I need to make the story work and see if I can determine which direction it's going. For some reason, Eric's love of ice hockey's coming back into play and may wind up being his way back to completion, but I haven't figured out the why or how of its symbolism as regards Allen. Oh, I know the story's doing this because it knows the answers and intends to dole them out to me in its usual piecemeal fashion; I just wish I could figure them out before diving in.

But for now -- now I'm back to the way I was. Feel so goooood.

Quick PS -- I just realized the actor who played the old funeral specialist in "Departures", Tsutomu Yamazaki, played the kidnapper in one of my favorite Kurosawa films, "High and Low" -- 47 years ago! That's a LONG career for an actor.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Hoping for tomorrow...

To be the day I get WiFi set up in my apartment. It depends on so many different things coming together -- the building is wired for it and, if not, that the technician doesn't need to run wires but can connect everything will via whatever boxes are there, already, and it will all work out right and on and on. If it doesn't, I have no idea what to do next...except continue to steal WiFi off Starbuck's while I'm here. If I stay longer, I'll need another place to live.

Today was a bit intense at work. Due to customs issues, two of our three air cargo containers bound for New York from London missed their bookings -- mainly because some idiot at the airline didn't think we'd make the flight so gave our space to someone else and wouldn't change things back -- so they're still at Heathrow awaiting transport. We're hoping to get them on a Sunday flight, but nothing's guaranteed. what's funny is, as difficult as Customs was to deal with, once all the paperwork was right, they bent over backwards to help us get things going faster. I even spoke to one official who explained exactly what was wrong with one packing list, got the client to correct it and got the shipment out in nothing flat. And that was at 8pm their time.

Monday is work on Paris...prepping the paperwork for it and figuring out what does and does not need to be done by me since our agent in Paris a) is French and b) speaks French so c) will do a much better job of dealing with people than I would with my minimal French. I'll be handling the airway bills and liaising with the clients and making sure everything's on the truck for London before it leaves. All that for a day in Paris...and gladly.

I have to pay taxes before I leave and have no idea how I'll be able to. Guess I'll have to file for an extension.

I found more of BC-3 and added it in, so now I have 186 rough pages. Now I just need to figure out what it'll take to link them and make it all coherent and work within the framework of 1&2.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

My second paycheck...

And it's so nice having money come in for a change, instead of just going out. I'm still scrambling to catch up, but it's better than it was.

I'm finally blogging because most of the day -- hell, the whole damn day was spent handling problems at British customs. And while some of the problems were customs people being overwhelmed and just bumping anything that looked like a pain so they could deal with all the other crap they had piling up, some of the trouble was worked up by intelligent people who really should have known better. Like getting an export license for a book worth 10,000 pounds and listing the books on the packing list as being worth 16,000 pounds. RED FLAG!!! Got to get everything corrected and handled or else the shipment won't be cleared and we'll miss our flight...meaning it's entirely possible no books for you at the book fair because they won't get cleared till Tuesday, now. So you have to call the bookseller, get them to send a corrected packing list and a letter explaining it was just a typo and hope customs accepts the explanation. All across thousands of miles and five time zones. And on the eve of what is a four day weekend in England.

It's not like these guys have never had to do this before. England became more strict about certain types of books leaving the country eight years ago. If it's an incunable (hand printed before the 15th Century) you need an export license. If it's valued at more that 40,000 pounds, you need one. If it's certain types of autographs (still don't know how to figure that one out) you need a license. And you have to provide the originals of those licenses to customs and you have to do it every time the book leaves the country. If you don't, they can seize your shipment and levy fines. So there is nothing new about it. But some people still wait till the last minute and rush about and that's a guarantee there will be mistakes made. And trying to get them to do it early hasn't really worked so well. I was e-mailing people about the necessary documents from the first week of March and got my head snapped off a couple of times.

Oh, well -- back to writing. I didn't actually do any, last night, but I did pull together a rough assembly of what I'd already written for "Bobby Carapisi - volume 3" and it worked out to over 175 pages. Surprised the hell out of me. There are still some gaping holes in the storyline and I'm a bit unclear as to the meaning behind it all, but some major moments are already taking form so I guess it's possible to get it done soon. We'll see what happens.

One of the publisher's authors has a goal of 50 books in print. He's got two dozen, so he'll probably make it (I've read some of his work and...well...let's just say he's not as invested in the story or grammar or style as I tend to be). A touch of arrogance here. And now it's time to return to earth.