Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Thursday, September 30, 2010


Brendan's back and hinting at things he'd like done with "Place of Safety." And I can see us working together, this time. He wants me to just jump in and write from page 1 to the end and not worry about anything. He's there to guide me. I'm nodding in agreement. When I return from Seattle, I'm doing it. I'll need the next few days to polish up BC-3 and then take a break to recharge the batteries. I'm due home on the 13th so I'll blast into it then.

It's odd, but taking this segue into BC-3 almost feels like it's helped me face the reality of POS. The sneakiness of Allen's storytelling allowed me to discover I can face the harshest aspects of the story head on. I can better reveal with honesty that which my characters want revealed. I'm still nervous about it, but that'll keep me on my toes and force me to accept shifts I don't necessarily want to accept but which might be necessary to solidify the truth of the tale.

Of course, we're coming up on National Novel Writing Month, and I've used that to push through first drafts of other books -- BC-1&2, for example -- but I used it last year to start my march to completion of POS, so I can't do that, again. Nor can I take the time to work on another book -- like "The 6 Days of Jemmy T" or the novelization of how the horror of Darian's Point began (3000 years ago, in Ireland)...tho' that does intrigue me.

And Brendan rolls his eyes, again. No patience, that lad. Good for him; I need it.

Enigma is playing on my laptop. "Principles of Lust." It helped me write the script for "Dair's Window." I'm so proud of that script -- combining character, music, art, non-linear storytelling, brutally honest characters, a gay man who refused to be a victim as its lead and into whose head I was able to get beyond measure. I took it through a workshop, even, to solidify it...and it hurts that no one ever wanted to even so much as consider it for production. Not HERE! Not Logo. Not one of the hundred other companies I contacted.

Damn...I'm feeling so Van Gogh, right now...well, short of being a danger to either of my ears.

I wonder if that story about Gauguin being the one who really cut off Van Gogh's ear is true? It's supposedly over a woman. That would make the whole episode so pedestrian...and more Spanish than French in temperament.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Blew off the art

Finished the edit. I'll send it to the author, tomorrow. And it's got me to wondering if my style of writing is archaic. Well, not writing so much as grammar. I've noticed younger modern writers tend to use fewer commas and are more casual with how their sentences are strung together. I wonder if my reading preferences have held back my adjustments as regards changes in the English language?

For example, I use commas more frequently, separating thoughts in sentences to indicate how I want them considered. How they are fitting together in the character's mind. I don't use them as frequently as I used to, but reading some of the articles written by bloggers and journalists indicates I still use them way too much. But I'm not comfortable if they aren't there. Compare these two versions of the same sentence.

"Surely you're joking."
"I'm not joking, and don't call me Shirley."
"I'm not joking and don't call me Shirley."

I'd do it the first way while most of today's young writers would do it the second. Neither way really affects the meaning of the joke, but to me...having the comma indicates in the reader's mind that there's a hint of a pause there, which to me helps sell the joke. But it also comes across as a bit condescending, like I'm saying, "You're too dumb to get the punch line unless I throw a spotlight on it."

Thing is, I'm not comfortable with the second version; it runs together to me. But many people would think it's perfectly fine and get the joke and laugh. So which is better?

To be honest, I don't care. I have my style of writing and it keeps evolving in its own little way, so I see no need to either slavishly follow the rules of pure grammar as laid out by "Strunk & White" or give it all up for the sake of being kewl. And as the wise men said, "That is that."

Of course, one of the curses of being a writer is, you always want to redo someone else's work as you read it. I have a hard time reading modern fiction because of it, unless I already like the writer's style -- like Jay McInerney's and Larry McMurtry's. Their novels and short stories work for me because their styles and mine mesh (in my mind). But I kept wondering why Caleb Carr wrote "The Alienist" in such a cold manner and why Isaac Asimov let Harry Selden come across as such a blithering idiot in "Prelude to Foundation"? (And I LOVE the "Foundation Trilogy".) When you're trying to rewrite Asimov in your head, you know you've got a real writer's ego going.

Wow...I've got a writer's ego. Cool. I should read other great works and rewrite them in my far more brilliant style. Now where's my copy of James Joyce's "Ulysses"?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tea and biscuits...

Or cookies, as we say in America. Took me a long time to get to where I called things by their American names. I lived in London for 3 of my most formative years and came back a proper little toff. Bread and butter with cucumbers. Preferring tea to coffee. Happy with malt vinegar on my fish and chips (ie, french fries) instead of tartar sauce. Having no one understand when I wanted a bag of crisps (potato chips). Over there, I was learning French in 3rd grade; in the US they didn't even think of offering languages till you were in High School and nine times out of ten, it was just Spanish. It was all very disconcerting, to say the least. I think that's half the reason I began to read so much -- so I could ignore the real world and fill my life with my own version of how it should be.

The same goes for sketching and painting -- re-imagining life around you into something that feels properly in order. Then for a long time I rejoined the world and tried to become as one with it...and didn't do so well. Wrote 30 screenplays, none of which has been produced...and while I did sell two of them, it was only after I'd started doing them for other people and reached the point where I couldn't make them work for the clients. My comedy wasn't funny enough and my kids' script was dissed for not having an adult male lead. Even in my rewriting jobs, I've not been able to fully satisfy my clients or their backers.

So now I'm back to weaving my own little reality in stories that drag me along, sometimes on an adventure, sometimes kicking and screaming because I'm not sure what the hell's happening with it. But this time...I'm not off-setting that with my art. I haven't sketched anything since I've come to Buffalo, and prior to that, during all my time in SA I only worked up a couple of faces and the beginning of a graphic novel for a magazine that was never published. Sometimes I want to sketch or paint...but the demands of the writing take preference, and I get farther and farther away from my best abilities in that.

I once did a self-portrait in acrylic, using the mirror in my bathroom. Did it in a couple of hours and it worked. I slapped into it, no structure worked out prior to the initiation, and what came up was this.Of course, it was ten years ago. I've changed a bit. And I haven't done anything as detailed since. My first couple of posts have some work I did after this -- my favorite being a very moody India Ink in the first one that truly depicted my thought process, albeit with a much better-looking model. But now I want to do something artistic, again, and all my paints and materials are back in San Antonio...except for some colored pens I got from a friend in Houston. Maybe I'll use those tomorrow night instead of editing or reading or writing. Be interesting to see what I come up with.

Hmph...I've come full circle...back to where I was as a child. I wonder what that means?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Editing, but not for me...

I'm going over a friend's book and noting typos and such. It's illuminating to do this, because I keep wanting to rewrite his work to suit my style, and that's not right. He has his own way of telling a story and I'm making myself respect that. Just to put this in perspective, I had to drop a class on Faulkner because I hated his non-stop sentences and kept inserting my own punctuation...and the professor, who LOVED Faulkner and thought him the most profound writer of the 20th Century, did not appreciate that. Dunno why. Just 'cause the guy's got a Pulitzer and Nobel and crap like that...and there I was, arrogant enough to disparage his style.

And I still do. I prefer the beauty of Tolstoy's world and characters. I love Hemingway's simplicity (and yes, I know he could be just as self-indulgent and never-ending as Falkner in his sentences, at times) and Steinbeck's casual methodology in storytelling. And I go nuts when I think someone's faking a story.

I was once talked into reading a book called "Continental Drift" that jumped between a man in New England frustrated with his life and a Haitian woman desperately trying to find some way of finding a better life for her son. From the second they were set up in opposition I could see the coming collision where someone would die and it would all be so tragic, but I waded through 100 pages before I gave up on its never-ending bleakness. When I told the person who recommended the book that I just couldn't finish it, she freaked and told me I know nothing about literature.

I took offense. I'd read "A Hundred Years of Solitude" and loved it, even though I'd never write in the vein of magical-realism. I'd just finished "Anna Karenina" and was heavy into my burgeoning Tolstoy worship. I'd even read gentle little novels like "Catholics" by Brian Moore and "The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea" by Yukio Mishima and loved the spareness of them. But just because I couldn't handle the bullshit Russell Banks was handing out, I was dumb. I haven't trusted anyone to tell me what is and is not a good book since; I'll work it out for myself, thank you.

That said, I also fight the urge to insist something I love will be loved by everyone, and that my way of doing things is the right way. It won't be, and it never is. Case in point -- "Seven Samurai", which I think is perfect...and yet Robert Osborne, on TCM, agreed with Rose McGowan that it could be cut by an hour or so. And I once got into a heated discussion with a film professor over the need for the "farmer's wife" section of "La Grand Illusion"; to me it took the film into poetry, to him it was superfluous. Yet a movie I strongly disliked -- "No Country For Old Men -- got near universal praise while I didn't believe a moment of it. I edit. And keep myself to adding a comma here and an obviously forgotten word there and slapping my fingers when they stray into "my way" territory.

They're getting a bit pissed at me for beating up on them so much.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Not that I'm anal...

But I went back through what I'd written, yesterday, on BC-3 and polished it up. Found a couple inconsistencies and then shifted 6 paragraphs from the end of one chapter to the end of another and they work a LOT better, now.

Here's a bit more of the story -- where Eric is visiting Bobby's mother.

Bobby’s room had walls painted black with white trim and colorful posters tacked to them -- pictures of a gorgeous model from the “Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition” and football teams colliding and the perfect shot of a Phillies batter making a hit -- and they made the place seem even smaller than it was. The narrow bunk beds and two chests of drawers and shelf of trophies along a shelf on one wall only added to the sense of being tight and crowded. I wondered at the fact that Bobby could fit in here by himself, let alone with what appeared to be one of his brothers.

I noticed a single window to my right, looking out over the back yard, framed by more of the twisting vines covered with elegant green leaves and bunches of as-yet unripe grapes. A student’s desk was jammed against the lower sill, its top clean and tidy except for a runner off the vine lying gentle on the fake wood. This desk wasn’t even good enough to be from Ikea, and seeing it drove ice into my heart, because for an instant I could just picture a healthy kid sitting in the cheap swivel seat and gazing out that window at what had to be a brilliant future, once upon a time, and I think I actually gasped. I wandered to it, my eyes locked on the vine, the vague sun highlighting one side of the tender leaves and casting a soft shadow across cheap wood that had taken on a graceful elegance. I instantly thought, There are ghosts in this room, and their presence makes all of it so beautiful.

“That’s Bobby’s window.” I jolted around. I’d forgotten Mrs. Carapisi was behind me. “He’d sit at his desk, his chin restin’ on his hands, an’ just watch the sun go down. He really loved sunsets.”

“I know,” I said, absently.


“I-I-I don’t know...I...I sounded right.”

She looked at me, her eyes holding back the pain she so obviously felt. “Why’re you really here? And don’t give me nonsense about how awful people were to Bobby. Or that you want to help me. Nothing that smells like pity. I got too much of it since...” Her voice trailed off and she looked away.

I stood there for a minute, not one thought in my head, then I whispered, “I told you...I did something awful,” my voice still echoing in that empty silent room. “I never thought I was a bad person...I mean, I did things, sometimes, but I always had my reasons and they made sense and...and then came all of this. It blew everything apart. I-I-I’ve tried to find reasons -- excuses -- but they all fall apart, too, and all I’m left with is-is-is what I did. And no decent human being does that -- what I did -- to somebody else.”

“So what do you think you are?”

I shrugged. “I don’t know. I just know I...I was wrong. What I did was wrong.”

“Then why did you do it!?” Her voice cut through me like a knife. “Why’d you get that story printed? Bobby might have made it if that hadn’t happened.”

Man, that tore the heart out of me. “I-I-I wanted people to believe me. Nobody believed me.”

“And you didn’t care who you hurt to make that happen?”

I shook my head. “I didn’t even think about it. About what it’d mean to -- to the other guy. That’s what makes me rotten.” And I was back to shaking and remembering every foul thing I’d said to myself and I was hating myself, again.

She must have seen it because she sighed and came into the room. “So what you want? Pity? Absolution for your sins? I kiss you and send you on your way and everything’s fine, again?”

“No. I -- I just want to go back -- and undo it -- and make it all different.”

“You can’t.”

“I can try. I’m thinking -- maybe I-I-I’ll start a blog. Fire back as those bastards who’re lying about him. Post the truth.” That was the first time I’d actually thought of an action to take.

Mrs. Carapisi frowned at me. “What’s that?”

“That-that-that Bobby didn’t invite what happened -- .”

“No, what’s a blog?”

“Huh?” Oh. Of course. I hadn’t noticed a computer in the house, even in Bobby’s room. I’d already figured she was like Gramma in Minnesota. Prefers writing letters on paper and going to bookstores to buy books to read instead of downloading them. “Uh -- it’s a series of writings online -- uh, on a computer.”

“The internet. Right. Seems like a lot a stuff about nothin’.”

“Depends on how you-you approach it.”

“Will people pay attention?”

Her words slammed into my chest. I slumped down to rest against the cheap little desk. Felt it creak. Felt the breath escape me. The hope. “Probably not. There’s thousands of blogs, and only a few get read, really. Stupid thing to think.”

“Eric,” she said, her voice finally back to being gentle and warm, “you know you’re the only person who’s expressed any guilt over Bobby? None of the kids have. My husband hasn’t. And don’t get me started on those -- those ‘people’ out there who shouted their filth at him. Who used words I’d never let come out of me. You’re the only one ashamed of what happened.”

“Oh, that’s not right. That’s not right.”

“No, it’s not. Come on.” She took my arm and guided me back to the door. “I’m gonna make some tea. You want a cup?” I nodded. She pulled the door halfway closed behind us then stopped and looked back inside. I waited. “This room -- it’s too much like a shrine. I’m paintin’ the walls, tomorrow.”

“You sure that -- ?”

She stopped me cold with her look. “This is my home. He was my son. I won’t let this room replace him in my heart. I’ve seen that happen too many times.”

Saturday, September 25, 2010

BC-3 has its first draft

I just completed it. 275 pages, 65,000 words, much of them rough and tumble. I have no idea of they work, yet; I'll let them sit for a while before doing a polish, but now I know what belongs and what doesn't. I had to take a nice long walk to finally catch the clue that opened everything up. All thanks to Allen playing his sneaky little games.

Now for some reason I feel like watching a "Charlie Chan" movie, one of the good ones -- like "At the Opera" with Boris Karloff. Problem is,I sold off my collection of them when I was broke in SA. Sold off all my "Hettie Wainthropp", too. I'd go onto Netflix and view "The Big Sleep" on demand, but they posted the 1945 version, which isn't half as good as the 1946 one. And I sold my DVD of that, too. Now I miss them. Silly things to miss. Oh well, once I have money, again, I'll buy them all fresh and new.

Damn, this finished the BC series. Allen's stories are completely separate and need to be expanded upon. Maybe soon but not right now.

Hmm...maybe it WAS hate mail

Here's the person's response to my response.

That wasn't meant to be hate mail. I read your taste in literature and films and figured you had to be a reasonably intelligent guy. What I don't understand is why some of you micks (my emphasis) will actually indulge/support these gay groups that despise you? Seriously, it annoys me. BUT, I do apologize if there are things about you I don't know that makes my questions irrelevant. You might be Protestant, Sullivan might be your pseudonym, you might simply be unaware of NYC/Boston gay life, you might have covered the self-hating Irish gays in your writing already, etc.

This is the first time in my life I have ever been called a "mick." And I lived in fucking TEXAS for 25 years, where they still refer to Jews as Christ-killers in some parts of the state and still casually refer to Mexican-Americans as "beaners" and "tamale eaters." Which I guess makes my mother Mexican-American because she loves beef tamales, and never mind her Norwegian background...which is whiter, blonder and more perfect in the Aryan sense than any Nazi ever could even THINK of being.

I honestly have no idea what the fuck this guy's problem is, but I'm thinking maybe he's really more of a troll than a flat out hater...though his comments about gays and consistent reference to the "New York Gay Ghetto" make me wonder. (See the comments section of "Easy Does It" for more of this.) Maybe he's just a homophobe out to prove he's not really a closet case, so I've asked him flat out if he's gay. His answer will be interesting.

Wow...I'm feeling so...hell, I dunno...pleased about this. Which is weird. I should just be pissed. Which I am. But at the same time, it means somewhere, somehow I'm impacting people enough to where they'll call me names. Shit. Is that cool or what?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Got my first real hate mail...

I think. Problem is, it wasn't all that much more than a snotty comment e-mailed to me, no bad language, and the harshest thing he (or she; it was basically anonymous) had to say was that I'm a self-loathing homosexual. All in reference to something I posted somewhere about supporting Irish President Mary McAleese's decision to reject being Grand Marshall at the 2011 St. Patrick's Day parade in NYC. The parade committee won't let gays march with them so she said to forget it, and being pissy little bitches, they got all upset about it.

Of course, the same person also made a comment on my previous post that has absolutely nothing to do with what I was talking about, so maybe it's just someone who's got problems connecting with reality. I mean, it's obvious they didn't do the Google thing before they started trying to snark at me. I come across as more of a "straight-loathing" homosexual, if you go by my books (tho' many of my best friends are straight). It's pretty funny.

Thing is, I don't know that I can really count this as hate mail, because I've gotten snotty comments before from people -- a LOT of them, once, when some dipsphit posted my e-mail address on his site because he didn't like me pointing out he was a racist. But that was just a bunch of pissy queens who supported him because he's a lefty queer who posts nice dick shots, and none of them understood that you just cannot "snap" on the internet. That's strictly a live-action action, baby.

So I guess I'll just have to wait till some day I get some e-mail that's hate without question instead of merely snippy. Hmph, that reminds me of Marge in "Fargo." "Sir, you have no call to get snippy with me, I'm just doing my job here."

Meaning back to my job...working on BC-3. I'm going back over what I have and if I'm right, the next chapter works as is...and I'm closin' in on the grand finale, sort of.

Ah, what a long strange trip it's been.

Aw, jeez -- now I'm referencing the Grateful Dead?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Easy does it

I jumped up to 192 solid pages on BC-3 because I had this section pretty much set, already...though I did shift one chapter up and now it works the flow continues. Gentle and as mean as the Mississippi. Allen's revealed more about himself in ways he hadn't intended. I have one more chapter to write and probably three more to clean up and then that'll be it -- I'll have my first draft done. Then I get to print it out and initiate editor mode.

It's warm tonight. Has been a bit weirdly warmer the last couple of days. Everyone's telling me how unusual this summer has been for Buffalo. I'm beginning to feel responsible, because this is how Texas is, weather-wise -- warm during the latter part of the day up into the evening. Oh, helped for the bit where Eric goes to Dallas.

I got the paperwork I need to get a New York Driver's License, but I'm a bit reticent. Do I really want to commit to the state in that way? What if this racist running for governor gets elected? Carl Palladino, who e-mailed a picture of a C-130 landing in the desert as a number of black men scurried to get away from the dust it was churning up and which had the message, "Run, N****R, Run" with it. And also a photo of Obama done up as a 1970's pimp with his wife as his hooker. Crap like that. Yet he's running close behind Andrew Cuomo.

It's diseased how so much of this country is supporting people who will do their best to destroy it. Many of them want to cut Social Security out, completely. Rescind the health care bill. Cut taxes for the rich bastards who wrecked the economy. Increase military spending. End a woman's right to choose. Kill faggots. And it's the very people who're getting hurt the most by the policies of the GOP that most ardently support it. I just don't get it.

I guess I'll become a full-fledged New Yorker and vote against the bigot, but I really wish I had something to vote FOR, for a change. It's disgraceful that the Dems ain't offering that.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wanna make a bet?

Within three months of being re-elected to the Senate and being sworn in to his new term, St. John McCain of Arizona will retire "for health reasons," leaving that crazy bitch, Jan Brewer, to install just as big a whack-job as her in his place...where the nutcase will stay for the next six years. I mean, I already knew McCain was slipping into Alzheimer's; hell, it was making itself evident during his campaign for President. What else could explain him selecting Sarah Palin as his running mate? But it was ridiculously apparent during his interview yesterday with a reporter about DADT. Check it out.

If this man hasn't lost his mind, then he's just a flat out liar. Faced with specific cases of violations of DADT by the military brass, all he can say, over and over and over, is the same damn thing...which doesn't have anything to do with what's really happening.

Oh, and if anyone seriously thinks Congress truly intended to repeal DADT this session, even after witnessing that comic opera of a vote in the Senate, then I got this bridge to Canada I'd like to sell you. It's called the Rainbow Bridge, and you can charge tolls. You'll get rich. Only cost you $1,000,000 'cause I want to get the hell out of Dodge and I can't take it with me.

'Nuff politics. I think I share some story, now. This is Eric talking about his brother, Gerrod's wedding. Maybe a little too on the nose, meaning-wise, but good to start with.

Y’know, I made it to the wedding on my own cash -- meaning plane fare each way and money enough for a pair of cut-crystal wine glasses for him and his bride. Granted, I shared the hotel suite with my folks and Nils (I got the couch, which turned not to unfold into a bed) but that was understood from the moment the date was set. That way dad made certain we were all where we needed to be when we needed to be, which could be a problem with Nils. Him being best man meant keeping to a schedule laid down by Anne and Gerrod, and big brother was never strong on that point. I think it was in reaction to dad’s mania for being where you needed to be on time or else as well as grandmother’s peculiarities. Now? If he said he’d call you on Sunday you could expect him to send an e-mail Thursday or Friday without any reference to his earlier promise. He was able to maintain his residency at Children’s Hospital, well enough, but he let slip it was a struggle.

Me, I was just a groomsman but I still needed to fit the rented tux and do the rehearsal and choose which of Anne’s sorority sisters I was going to pair with. I lucked out with this girl named Randie, who was as relieved as I was that neither of us wanted or needed interest from the opposite sex, so we had the best time of it and got more than a little wasted at the rehearsal dinner. Gerrod even asked me afterwards if I was switching back to his team. I just winked at him, in answer.

The ceremony itself was lovely if long. She chose this charming hundred year-old Episcopal church in the Maryland suburbs that was accented in Calla Lilies, with cream net tied by pink satin ribbons. The bridesmaids dresses were understated in a charming way. Gerrod wore a dove-grey waistcoat with Nils matching him (my first thought was of Freddy at Ascot in “My Fair Lady” when I saw it) but damn they looked good in them; I felt like a maitre d’ at a snotty restaurant in my grey-trimmed tux. Anne’s dress was all sleek white satin barely touched with cream lace with a single blue ribbon winding through her hair. Gerrod actually seemed to stand a foot taller the second he laid eyes on her, and as queer as I am, I didn’t blame him.

The ceremony was presided over by a female Episcopal priest, which caused no small rumble on her family’s side of the aisle. Sticking it to the conservative, condescending cretins in every way she could. No question Gerrod should keep this one. We even had communion in the service, kneeling at the altar, with real wine...which is a shock for most Presbyterians; we use grape juice and sit in our seats as it’s passed to us.
The reception was even better. It was held at the country club Anne’s family belonged to and amongst whose patrons I saw not one person of color. Nor was I surprised at noticing that. I was still nursing a bit of a hangover from the rehearsal dinner so I just drank Seven-Up with a dash of OJ and a cherry, giving people the impression I was downing Screwdrivers and really good at holding my liquor.

I got a turn to dance with Anne and it was, quite simply, the first chance I’d had to actually talk with her, she’d been so busy. I asked the band to play “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and scrambled to be at her side the second the notes struck up. She laughed and grabbed my hand and we jaunted onto the dance floor and she said, “Nobody gets this dance with me but you.”

I grinned and said, “Y’know, if I was the kind of guy who liked the things most guys like, I’d have stolen you from Gerrod.”

“One of these days you’ll get to do this, too. Even in California.”

“Big bro’ never told me you were an optimist.”

“Just a realist. There’s always going to be haters, but the ones in control’re dying out. And the vast majority our age don’t give a shit about keeping the hate going by way of laws that’re really way outdated.”

I just smiled at her, knowing she was being way too bright and hopeful about the decency of human beings. I must’ve had some look on my face at that moment, because she slipped a hand around my neck and pulled me close and whispered, “Y’know, Ger told me everything.”

I shrugged. “It wasn’t exactly a family secret.”

“Want to share one of my family secrets?” I nodded, expecting her to tell me she or a sister or a friend had been through the same ordeal. She smiled sweetly and said, “When I was twelve, I stole a thousand dollars from a friend of my grandfather’s.”

“Bullshit,” popped out of me faster than I could censor it.

“No shit. I was running around with his granddaughter and she knew he kept it in a drawer in his office. She suggested it, and I figured, He’s rich; he can afford it. So I stood watch as she slipped it into my purse. Then I watched her kiss him goodbye and we split the loot en route to the mall and had ourselves a spree. A week later, when he realized the money was gone, he had a heart attack. He was in ICU for a month. Mellie shrugged the whole thing off, saying he’s old and ready to go, anyway, and sure enough, two months later he died. I’m still fighting the guilt.”

“You think you killed him?”

“Oh, I did. My theft helped set up his heart attack and, deep down, I know I’m responsible. And I knew it was up to me to do something about making it right.”

“So what’d you do?”

“I’d been talking for years about becoming a lawyer like my father. So Grandy set up a trust fund to let me do it. And I have. I clerked with a Supreme Court justice -- one of the conservative ones, so I’d know how they think -- and I’ve been doing legal aid for people who can’t afford a lawyer. I’m taking the bar exam in September and there is no question in my mind I’ll pass it, perfectly. I had five jobs offers from high-end law firms, all but one of which were rescinded when I let them know I wanted a third of my time to be pro bono work. The last one’s still mulling over my conditions. But that’s how it has to be.”

“How does this make up for you stealing -- ?”

“Eric, that girl let slip he figured out what happened and decided to let it go. Why? Because she was his granddaughter and I was her friend. But if he hadn’t realized what we’d done and decided it was his maid who’d taken that money, she’d be in jail and would’ve had no one but an overworked public defender to help her. And considering how much success The Innocence Project’s had exposing how many innocent people were jailed and executed due to prosecutorial and police misconduct, I feel it’s the least I can do to remedy the situation. It’s probably all I really can do.”

“You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din.”


“Quote from a book by Rudyard Kipling.” That I’d really gotten from the movie starring Cary Grant at his most gorgeous and fun-loving, but I didn’t want to seem too uneducated in this crowd.

“Gerrod told me you were into the classics.”

I shrugged. “So -- got any ideas on how to make up for the death I caused? I’m blank.”

“Eric, my point was, the only thing you can do when you’ve done something you think is wrong or needs to be made up for, whether it’s true or not, the only thing you can do is live your life better. Stronger. More honestly.”

“Momma bear offer cub advice?”

“Momma bear just letting you know -- Gerrod’s worried about you. And he wants to help you in any way he can. And so does his wife. Remember that, okay?”

“Geez, do I look that bad?”

“I looked up your photo on IMDb -- and you don’t look like you used to.”

“Not to worry. I’m a man with a plan and it don’t involve any high-dives off a parking garage. I’m too vain for that.”

“That’s good to hear.”

“Better ask Ger if he agrees.”

“Don’t need to.”

The music ended a few bars later and we hugged, then Gerrod pointed to his watch and she scurried over to him. Time to head for the honeymoon suite and then off to Paris and Rome.

Of course, I’d been lying about the “man with a plan” bit. I had no earthly idea what I could do to rectify Bobby’s death until I slipped away from them all, pulled Mrs. Carapisi’s number from my wallet and dialed it on my cell phone.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Krugman Speaks

And nobody listens. So here's a taste of what he's had to say about the current state of the economy and how insistent people are that it's Liberals at fault and not the wonderful conservatives that shot everything into the crapper.

Who You Gonna Believe?

I went through my mail today, and got the usual batch of letters declaring that I’m wrong about everything, and that we should do the opposite of anything I say. Hey, it’s a free country.

But I found myself wondering, as I often do, about the determination with which people believe pundits who please them ideologically, no matter how wrong they have repeatedly been — wrong in ways that, if you believed them, cost you money.

Suppose you had spent the last five years actually believing what you read from the usual suspects — the WSJ opinion pages, National Review, right-wing economists, etc.. Here’s what would have happened:

In 2006 you would have believed that there was no housing bubble.

In 2007 you would have believed that the troubles of subprime couldn’t possibly spread to the financial system as a whole.

In 2008 you would have believed that we weren’t in a recession — and that the failure of Lehman was unlikely to have bad consequences for the real economy.

In 2009 you would have believed that high inflation was just around the corner.

At the beginning of 2010 you would have believed that sky-high interest rates were just around the corner.

Now, we all make mistakes and get things wrong — although it’s striking how often the trolls on this blog feel the need to accuse yours truly of saying things I didn’t. But after this string of errors, wouldn’t you at least begin to suspect that the people you find congenial have a fundamentally wrong-headed view of how the world works?

Guess not.

My brain is not in a place where I can work up anything more to say, tonight. BC-3 just put me through the wringer and I need blankness for a while.

Why don't I have any beer in the fridge when I need it?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Moving right along

BC-3 now has 118 solid pages out of 260, and a bridge between two sections is about to be completed, but I'm cutting off the writing at 11 so I can gear down to rest. I'm not thrilled with what I have, right now, but it works well enough and once I know what's staying in and what's shifting over to another story, then I'll be able to dig into the moments and, hopefully, make them whisper into the reader's psyche.

This coming weekend is the ILAB book fair in Bologna and already there've been a couple of glitches. Things are so damned expensive to ship in Europe -- like nearly twice as much as here -- and the service isn't that much better. In fact, sometimes it's downright backwards. Like people who won't do what you ask them to do -- i.e. weight a shipment and tell us the weight; they'd rather just guess or go with what you estimated, even if it's off by 50 pounds -- or just plain not knowing how to fill out an airway bill on a shipment going from a non-EU country to an EU one. I'm not bright about this stuff, yet, but that's dumb.

But then, we have similar crap happen here in the States, too, so I guess it's just to be expected. Like Amazon. They have three of my books available as Kindle editions but my name is spelled wrong on two of them and the bastards won't change it, no matter how much I or the publisher plead or cajole. This means they won't link up to my paperback editions and the reviews on them, and they're harder to find doing a search. It's infuriating...but seems to tie into the world-wide way of not doing things right.

Doesn't change the fact that I'd still like to live there.

I did a workout, today -- nothing major; just biked for 5 miles on a stationary and some light upper body -- but I'm feeling it. Time for snoozing, soon.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Normal sleeping schedule

I'm a night person. My whole body makeup is geared to me going to bed between 2 and 3 am and sleeping till 10 or 11. I've never been happy working the 9-5 schtick, and when I was freelancing I got a lot done by just letting myself do what body wanted to. I felt more rested and brighter. But I can't do that because I have to earn a living, and the job sets the hours worked. I can't just feed off my investments like some of the people who're whining about how their taxes are going to go up at the end of the year.

Seriously, the latest is Ben Stein, who lives in Beverly Hills and has investment properties in other states and is really upset his taxes might take an additional 2% of his income. Never mind all the deductions he gets before taxes apply. Never mind the ways a good CPA can reduce his tax burden since he's in an world where he has money enough to afford a Tax Attorney. No, he's being punished for being successful and rich by his tax rate returning to what is was in 2001. And he's really, really upset about it.

I don't even make 8% of what he does and I'll bet, once the CPA and his Tax Attorneys get done, he doesn't pay a whole lot more tax than I have to. And the rich wonder why people aren't being nice to them. I seem to recall a full-scale revolution in France a couple hundred years back, where those rich people wound up losing everything, including their lives, thanks to their selfish indifference to the suffering going on around them. Now we got kids graduating from college but not finding decent jobs available. People in their 30's and 40's barely scraping by thanks to health insurance premiums exploding and wages decreasing and the collapse of the housing market. Men and women in their 50's being laid off at a time in their lives when it's hard as hell to find another job.

I discovered that when I went looking for work back in San Antonio, before I took on this job. I was "overqualified" for every position I applied for and "not right for the few that were just up my alley." Every excuse in the book. I kept things together by selling off my collection of books and DVDs on Amazon, getting about .25 on the dollar but still making my bills and insurance premiums. I hated doing it. But that's not something Mr. Stein needs to worry about doing. Not him or any others like him who're worth seven figures and think that just because they can't afford an $8.00 cupcake every day for their coffee break, their lives have become hard.

And these are the same people who supported our invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, two wars costing the US treasury trillions of dollars. It sickens me.

Of course, I'm whining about having to earn a living instead of being able to focus on my writing like I used to. It comes in all shapes and sizes, whining does. I guess that means I'm just as bad as Mr. Stein, and he would probably say, "Quityerbitchin'. At least you HAVE a job."

True. But I still want to slap the bastard's face.

Now off to wrestle with Allan and his version of BC-3...and I think I'm finally in the proper frame of mind.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Damn the brain...

Lately I've been getting a nudge from an old play/script I was working on -- "Cyber-Tribes." It's an updating of Aristophanes "The Birds" and I have the first half of Act I written (and I've also got it in a very poor screenplay version). Well...listening to Depeche Mode for Allen's character has me thinking it would be perfect for a rock musical if done in that vein. And now would be the perfect stage to shift it in that direction.

But I need to get POS and BC-3 done. And I keep that at the fore of my brain...while that project keeps nudging. And nudging. Along with two others. Like a pack of cats, each wanting to be brushed at the same time. I can handle two at once, but not half a dozen.

But still......this came to mind, only today. All chrome and cruel and kind and counter-revolutionary while being revolutionary and demanding and gleaming florescent light and in your face and pissed as hell and I wonder...I wonder...

Shit, I wonder if I'm just practicing my usual avoidance.

Fuck it -- slam out BC-3. It's ready to be done. POS...that'll take some time, still.

But can I write lyrics on the level of David Gahan and Martin Gore?

I gotta lay off the Acai juice; it's making me think I can do the impossible...though I guess it COULD be the fish oil supplements clearing out my clogged up brain.

UPDATE: I now have 107 solid pages on BC-3 and, after some cuts and canoodling, just under 60,000 words. It's getting close, all of a sudden.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The softening sky

I don't know if it was just the weather was like this, today, or if I'm only now finally noticing...but as I walked to dinner I suddenly saw how the gentlest of blues had painted the air above me, and drifting low and slow across it to my left and right were thick cottony clouds -- white on top, dark underbellies.

Until now, I'd never understood why sometimes people refer to the sky as being the color of a robin's egg, but the tenderness of the open spaces, touched with a hint of coming winter, helped me realize it's not just the shade that saying was referring to but also the fragility of it. And how rarely you become aware that it exists. It's dark outside, now, but even returning home, earlier, as the sun dipped behind the not-so-far horizon, I could almost feel its softness in the crispy chill, whispering a benediction in my ear.

I'm still in awe of such casual beauty.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Rainy days and Thursdays

It's been steadily coming down since 9am and it's now closing in on 4:30. Not heavy, just...steady. And nice. I love the rain. It puts me in a much better mood and helps me focus -- so long as it's not one of those steamy downpours you get in Houston or Honolulu. Ugh.

What's crazy is, I see people walking their dogs in it without umbrellas, and high school kids running along in just shorts and t-shirts, and parents standing by their cars talking with each other as it comes down. I remember seeing that happen a lot in Galway, when I was there -- boys and girls walking along in t-shirts and jeans, drimmping wet -- and that rain was COLD. I guess you really WON'T melt if you get sloshed upon.

Today was better at work because I went back to square one. I had to prep a shipment to England all by myself, so I went and found a similar shipment in the system's memory and copied that word for word, except for specific things like numbers and weights. Worked a lot better. I also prepared a quote for a packing job -- not Paris but...I'll get back there someday.

Suddenly BC-3 is trying to compact itself. I think it'll be staying at about 60,000 words once I take out the stuff that's not necessary and do the final linking up. I seem to have distracted Allen by letting him become more internal and presnting himself as dangerous...and Eric seems to be finding something he needs, here, though exactly what it is I don't know yet. Their dance is just underway and I don't want to interfer with it.

BTW, avoid Sears. Those people ripped my mother off on a washer. She should have paid $340 for it but once everything was done, they got $570 out of her. She didn't get a discount because she didn't have a Sears card, and they had to charge her to deliver it because she didn't have a Sears card, and there was also installation and an extended warranty...and I'm just shaking my head. My sister was with her the whole time and did nothing to stop it.

Of course, now mom has the glorious right to happily claim, "I got ripped off on this washer." And already has several times when I've spoken with her.

Kids these days.

Uh-oh -- cat brushing time.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Okay...I suck...

At freight forwarding. I brought a nice case of chaos to the table, today, when dealing with a shipment prepping to go to London for an art fair. I didn't ask for a commercial invoice for the books they're sending because I didn't think it was all that many, but when I learned we had to have one, anyway, to get the books in and out of the UK, so I contacted the shipper and got one. No biggie, right? Except it was 55 books valued at nearly $200K. Meaning all the work I'd done on the airway bill and customs paperwork had to be completely redone. From scratch. Brain still reels from it. And that's with me not doing all the correcting by myself; we had to get it done by a certain time so my supervisor had to step in, and he's got something of a short fuse when it comes to things like this.

Man, I'm making myself a checklist with little boxes beside each requirement and doing each shipment according to that.

But then, I got two calls about possible packing jobs -- one in Colorado, one in Paris (which I won't be able to do because it conflicts with the Seattle Book Fair and I'm working that, AND THE GODS HATE ME!!!!!!) -- but we got a guy in Paris who can probably do it so I probably wouldn't have gotten to go, anyway, since the air fare would be massive. But still...I wish the fates would stop teasing me like this. Anyway, those I have no problem working up a cost and estimated time to do. And then doing them when the job comes in.

So now I'm in some stratosphere of "Duh" and unable to concentrate so I dunno how much more I'll get done on BC-3, tonight. I'm dancing around 61K in wordage but I went through and solidified the first three chapters so I don't need to revisit them till the full first draft is done. And I have my new ending all set, too, with a small coda. Some sections are coming out and going into their own story or novella. I may even get obnoxious and see if I can get them illustrated by an artist who posts his work online. It's bizarre photoshopped stuff -- like man-eating plants and creatures out of a "John Carter of Mars" story doing awful things to amazingly buff, half-naked men -- but it's so unreal it's funny. His name's Telemachus...and I'd link to him but you'd think me a real pervert if I did that.


And a meandering I'll go, again. I'm off.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I know I should be blogging...

But my brain is dealing with my mother having to go to the emergency room then deciding she wanted to go home before all the testing and x-raying was done to try and figure out what's wrong with her, thus getting the whole family in an uproar...including me by long distance. So I'm diving into my stories, right now, to clear my state of being. Here's the second half of the first chapter in BC-3 --

Moritz gulped down the last of his Margarita and held the empty glass aloft. It was taken almost instantly by a waiter and soon replaced by a fresh one, during which he said nothing but just watched me carefully and deliberately dig into my five-thousand calorie meal. Not that there was anything wrong with that; I was still fifteen pounds under my minimum weight and my gym-time was finally bringing my appetite back.

“Shit, Eric,” he finally said in a normal voice, after gulping down half his fourth drink, “what the fuck is wrong with you?”

“He’s in prison.”


“He’s the only one.”

Now that made Moritz blink. He looked at me for a moment then turned back to his food and ate slowly, deep in thought. I left him to his contemplations, because actually saying that last sentence out loud had raised issues I suddenly felt might have been better left alone.

You see, it’d been six months since I learned about Allen’s involvement with that porn video production company, and a month since I’d visited him and made my proposition, and suddenly I wasn’t ready to discuss my real reasons for it, not yet. Which meant I’d have to make up something good for Moritz to hear, really quick, so I could avoid his usual third degree.

Yes, I was calmer than I had been this time last year. Yes, I was cooler. Yes, I was in a LOT better control of myself than...well, probably even before I’d been raped by Allen and his buddies. Ten months worth of Lucia’s therapy had shown me how many different issues I had going on in my life, and how they’d added to the turmoil after my trauma. Issues that had lead me to be just as much of a control freak as my grandmother and then collide with another form of control freak (Ted, my ex) since I’d sought out someone with an ego as strong as mine to prove to myself I was my own man (a bit too “Psyche 101” for me to fully accept, yet) but which had wound up just fueling my asshole of an attitude and did nothing to end a deep-rooted insecurity that I was really unable to handle anything on my own...and I’m getting off track, again. The thing is, in the six months since Ms. Calvert had slipped me that DVD, this gnawing fear had been building in the core of my being -- a fear that the rapes had not been stopped, nor was anyone even trying to do so.

I mean, I knew Allen had cut a deal and was in jail, but I hadn’t read beyond the headline on the bottom of page 3 in the “Times”; it was still too raw for me, especially since the indication was the other two guys were still running free.

Still...until then I’d just about convinced myself that since Bobby’s death there hadn’t been another man brutalized in the way he and I were. That the uproar had scared them into stasis. And I’d kept an eye out to make sure. Watched the news. Read the dailies and weeklies religiously. Kept both ears open for any hint of kidnappings and rapes by those freaks.

But nothing else had come up. Not a glimmer, at least not in LA. Which I suppose was good enough, since I couldn’t imagine them pulling their shit in San Bernadino or Huntington Beach; it’d be much too long of a drive back to their shed and much too dangerous to do their forced-fucking in the back of a van. So I’d begun to relax.

But then I was pointed to LAWless West Productions and the gay-porn videos they made. And saw Allen’s assault on me posted for sale like it was just another bit of bondage porn. And while the promos of most of the others had looked staged...or at least had stupid moments that cut into the idea they might be real...I’d noticed one I just could not shrug off -- a buff guy in a business suit who bore a startling resemblance to Bobby. And on top of it, it was posted for sale three months after mine was.

It was a terrifying promo. This guy (around my age) was getting some cash out of an ATM as a bad voice-over said, “That’s the banker who turned down my loan. He needs to be taught a lesson.” Then it jumped to him struggling in the back of the van, bound, blindfolded and gagged. Next came him on that bed as his suit and shirt were pulled out of the way then his boxers and t-shirt were shredded. But this time it was Wrestler taking him through a neat parallel to my own little play with Allen, right down to the guy wearing a slightly different suit the night he was kidnapped in relation to when he’d been at the ATM.

Now I understand the date of posting doesn’t really matter; it could have been shot a year before me...but still, I’d called Grant. He had me come by his office and I went online to show him the promos for Suit’s video.

“While I was waiting,” he said, “I checked around to see if any guys matching your description reported any kind of assault by three men, anywhere. Came up zeroes.”

Big surprise, that. “You check with campus police at UCLA, USC, Loyola?” I asked as I brought up the teaser photos.

“Yeah, but that don’t mean much. They hate to admit any sort of crime occurs on their campuses, let alone something like this. Frat boys’ mommies and daddies might get upset.” The thumbnails came up so I enlarged them. Grant looked closer. “Shit, he DOES look like Carapisi. And you’re sure it’s not a real for-hire?”

“Ninety-nine percent. He’s really scared when they’re stripping him, and if he’s good enough to fake that, he wouldn’t be acting in porn. I mean, his voice -- it’s just too damned authentic. When he’s begging...and hurting and...and...”

I started to shake. Grant just glanced at me.

“What about yours?” he asked, and not very gently.

I dug into my satchel and pulled the DVD out. “You want to watch it? They left in the -- left in my voice, too. Seems that’s a selling point.”

“This is you and Barrow.” I nodded. “Are there any better photos of the guy who’s with him?” He pointed to the screen.

It showed Wrestler’s hands ripping apart Suit’s t-shirt with just a hint of his face.

I shook my head. “Nothing on the promo, either. You-you-you’ll have to watch the full video.”

“Fuck, don’t think I want to do that.” But his eyes were focused on the image of the guy tied to the bed, and he was almost frowning.

“What?” I asked him. “What is it?”

“Nothing,” but he said it in a distant voice.

“Bullshit, you see something -- .”

He glared at me. “It’s nothing, Eric. The case is closed.”

“So that’s it? You won’t even try to ID this guy?”

“The case is closed! There isn’t anything left to fight over.”

“Grant, this shows they’re still doing it to -- .”

“Barrow isn’t. Not anymore. He’s up at Mid-State, in the medium security wing.”

“I know! I also noticed there was no trial.”

“Didn’t need one. When he was charged with kidnapping and assault, he copped a deal. Got three years and could be out in half that.”

“Shit, that figures.” It was almost insulting he’d gotten off so lightly. And as for that bitch of an ADD, “Y’know, Ms. Ionescue never told me.”

“She would of, if she needed you.”

“Bullshit.” She wouldn’t spit on me if I was on fire. “So what about these other two guys? Doesn’t this prove that there were more people involved -- ?”

“Has this guy got a video posted with you?”

“Not-not that I-I-I could find.”

“Well, then -- Barrow still swears it was just him.”

Lying to the end. The mothefucking little prick. And Grant had too much on his plate to worry about disbelieving him or bothering to believe me. So nothing was going to be done and that is where I had to leave it.

With Grant. As for me, I went back and dug into Allen’s case, found out exactly where he was, went through the arduous process of getting to visit him, once I got the nerve up, and now I was having lunch with Moritz to prepare myself for the turmoil I knew would follow if my plan worked out right.

He still hadn’t said anything, so I asked, “Would you like to read it? The letter?”

Moritz looked at me for a long moment then held out his hand. I pulled it from my folio and handed it over, all eight pages. Double sided.

Moritz leaned back, Margarita in one hand, the letter in the other. Not a word. He was beginning to spook me. I’d never seen him so quiet and wondered if I’d made a mistake letting him read for himself how Allen was. But too late now; he’d already turned the first page.

Monday, September 13, 2010


I think I should make mention of something as regards Ronnie Marques' name -- it's pronounced "Marks" and is his nickname in high school and carries over into college, because he's one of Texas' sports gods (meaning a quarterback).

His real last name is Martin, pronounced "Mar-teen" in the Spanish style.

I just want this known so no one gets him confused with Bennie Marquez, from RIHC6. Not that anyone but me would...but then I'm the most important person here, right? Right?

Chaos is painless...

So long as you embrace it. Of course, I don't really like to do so because it messes with my plans. Not that mine are all that set in stone, even when the ocean is smooth and the sky cloudless...and I'm sounding goofy. So STOP IT!

I have no idea what I'm doing at this job when it comes to freight forwarding, even after six months here. I keep making dumb errors and not understanding 99% of the crap I'm being told. So it's making me weird. Not that there's anything wrong with that because it fits the direction taken by the ending chapters of maybe it's just me making me nuts.

I do have to say, the ending I'm working on right now for BC-3 is not exactly the one I envisioned for the story. But Eric feels it fits and I'm loathe to change the direction because it's actually flowing and soon will meet in that ocean with the waters of all the other stories written...and...

And I have no idea where that came from. Dammit, I have no coherence at all, right now. I worked out and went through a mind-numbing maybe brain is telling me it's on strike. Typical.

I need a good long hot cup of tea. And a biscuit (cookie to you Yanks).

Uh-oh...I found someone unhappy in the story. Ronnie Marques. He's thinking I'm giving him short shrift. How could I? He's pivotal...and beautiful.

BTW -- I'm up to nearly 60K in wordage.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Si j'écris donc je suis

Finally discovered the real ending for BC-3 and decided I was being wussy about the story, so I put back in some of the stuff I took out and now it's up past 57K in wordage. And that's with me cutting the ending I originally came up with...what was really more out of a Danielle Steele ending than my usual rough-and-tumble growl.

So just for the fun of it (and because I was sort of asked to) here's the opening of "Bobby Carapisi, volume 3".

“You know what I finally realized? It’s the people who scar you who prepare you best for this world.”

I mentioned this to a friend of mine and he looked at me like I was about to slit his throat. Which surprised me, because if anyone was going to understand what I meant, it was Moritz. He’s the epitome of the bitchy queen but without the requisite mannerisms, and his world is so completely centered around him and his needs you know he’s never really given a damn about anybody else. But he’s as sharp as they come and all too aware of the hatred the world spews at us fags (having run to L.A. screaming from glorious Idaho), so I figured he’d just nod his head and agree and then try to explain why he’s the poster child for that notion.

Instead he eyed me up one side and down the other and sniped, “Well, Eric -- is this the party of bitter?”

We were seated at Marix, a Tex-Mex restaurant in WeHo finishing off my second Corona and his third Margarita...and that was before the entrees had arrived. And to give you an idea of how fast we were downing them, this is the kind of joint where you can sit down, eat and be gone in thirty minutes; they believed in volume, here, hurried along by extra slatherings of grease.

The thing is, I wasn’t feeling the beer, yet. Maybe it was all the chips I’d chomped down or that exquisite Guac we’d had two helpings of...well, I had, but I was still stone-cold sober and hating it. It had NOT been a good day and I wanted at least a few moments of oblivion.

“No, seriously,” I said, digging another chip into the green goop and then scooping a spoonful of salsa onto it. “My folks still love me. My brothers and my father’s side of the family support me. Because of them, I’m probably more emotionally stable, right now, than I’ve ever been in my life.”

“If you’re looking for a comment on that, I’ll pass. I don’t feel like starting a fight.”

“C’mon, Moritz, you know what I mean. Hell, you and Laila and Rene all factor into it, too. You helped me rebuild my life and I-I-I know how important you were and -- .” And I was having an excellent time trying to formulate my thoughts, and not doing too damn good till I said, “If I hadn’t had you guys to lean on the last year, I’d be back on Tina and, it’s been over a year and a half, hasn’t it?”

“Basically. Are you going to weep in your beer now?”

The bitch. “No. It’s just, you guys helped me rebuild my life, but it was Ted and the assholes on my mother’s side of the family who gave me the strength to make it through all the shit.”

“Oh. Y’know, details help in these sorts of stories.”

“You know what happened between me and Ted.”

“Yes, and in glorious detail, as regards him. But you never talk about family...and just because I don’t and nobody in my circle of friends does doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter, so...”

“Fine, fine!” I gulped down some more beer. Time for another one...and don’t you think Moritz wasn’t noticing how fast they were disappearing into me. The Corona was replaced and I had more chips, guac and salsa...and then said, “My folks used to make me and my brothers spend a month, every summer, at my grandmother’s outside Atlanta. My mother’s mother. And she was the perfect control freak. Not just over others but also over herself. If you said you were going to do something, you did it. If you caused a problem of any kind, you owned up to it. Her way was the right way and if you disagreed, you were being rude. Oh, and silly things like facts and reality did NOT factor into the equation.”

“Sounds like a Tea Partier,” he smirked.

“She is.”

He jolted and blinked at me. “Good God, they really exist? I thought they were all a figment of Fox-aganda’s imagination. But I guess being in our own little world out here in La-La Land I suppose it IS possible -- .”

“Moritz!” He gave me his Okay-okay shrug and sipped more of his Margarita. He wanted details, he was gonna get ‘em, no matter how many interruptions he brought forth. “So...with grandmother, if -- if you were facing anything in the way of ‘unpleasantries’ that needed to be done, you did the worst first. She seared that crap into our brains, all without ever raising her voice or hand against us. She firmly believed that if a child misbehaved you did not need to physically strike them in any way; you just locked them in their room without food or drink until they admitted the error of their ways and explained why they did what they did that she didn’t like and how they would never do it, again. The first time it happened to me, I was six; I caved in ten minutes. The last time, I was sixteen; I never caved.”

“You never learned how to handle her, because if you -- .”

“Oh, I learned,” I cut in, using the fact that our food had finally come to distract his mouth (cheese enchiladas swimming in grease for me, healthy chicken taco salad for him). “We all did. But Gerrod and Nils took the fake it route then kept out of her way when they wanted to be sneaky and just hoped they wouldn’t get caught. Me? I-I-I have this-this streak in me where sometimes if -- if she was being especially hard to take, I’d do something wrong just to get the solitude it would bring.”

“Hardly the zen of pissing off grandma.”

“Grand-MOTHER. ALWAYS grandmother. But I think that streak...that she helped hone in me...that’s what kept me from crashing too far after...after...”

Man, nearly two years later and it’s still hard to face. Just doing a drive-by of those events could shatter my brain with memories and shut me down. I mean, I’m not as freaky as I used to be, but still...

Moritz put a gentle hand on my arm and gave me a low-key smile, breaking the cycle. This, I didn’t have to detail for him; I’d done that a week after it happened and had given him his first gray hair, or so he’d have you believe. I’m sure he’d plucked it the second he noticed it and nuked it to death in his microwave then did some incantation over it to make sure none of them ever showed up, again. Not that he was vain or anything.

Anyhow, he didn’t say a word, just dug into his meal like he’d never eaten before. I layered the last of the salsa on my rice and mixed it up before I continued, “My point is, she lead me to embrace my inner hard-head, the mule of my psyche...and I think I’ll be making use of it, again, so fair warning to any and all.”

“I don’t get it.”

I took a deep breath and said, “I, uh...I got a letter from Allen.”

He looked at me for a moment, waiting, and then it dawned on him. “Barrow? Allen Barrow? One of the guys who -- who -- who -- ?” I nodded just to stop his loop. “He wrote to you?! Why the fuck would that little shit do that?!”

His voice was loud enough to cut through the noise and make more than a few of the boiz look around, to which he paid zero attention. So I felt an extreme need to whisper, “I-I-I asked him to.”

Saturday, September 11, 2010

J'aime Depeche Mode

Swear to God, I don't think I've heard one bad album out of these guys. They never just "make do" but give 110% on everything they offer. David Gahan may be a maniac, but he's an amazingly talented one. Probably one of the few people worth the high maintenance he entails, thanks to his amazing voice. I hear he's got cancer. I hope he comes through it with everything in his life -- his anger and self-indulgence and talent -- intact.

I'm listening to "Precious", probably one of the loveliest rock melodies about regret ever...and it's helping pump me up to jump back into BC-3. I've been waging a fun little battle against this weird ennui that's washed over me as regards both BC-3 and POS, where I just meander through the evening and get little, if anything, done on anything. I could probably work up any number of reasons for it, but I honestly don't know if they really matter that much. It may just be a biorhythms thing. Hmph, like my "time of month." Or just that fact that I'm working out and body ain't up to speed on that, yet, and is letting its grumpiness be known.

Whatever it is, Depeche Mode's helping me bust it. Just like Enigma helped in "5 Dates" and "Dair's Window." And Loreena McKinnitt does with POS. With her, I especially rely on "Night Ride Across the Caucasus" for some reason. Its melody fits perfectly into the final chapters of the story.

I guess we take inspiration from wherever we can get it, us writers do.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Be optimistic

Not me, baby. I prefer bleak and black and the whole idea of FUBAR. Plans get made and trashed at an instant's notice. And we're talking about plans for the next day or two, not a month down the pipeline. Meaning I'm beginning to think I won't make my deadlines for BC-3 or POS, either one. Life keeps jumping in.

Like this article needing printouts of the illustrations. No big deal, right? Except each has to be on its own page and have something to indicate where it goes. And I can't do 2-3 per page, only one. This is what I get for trying to seem like I'm good enough at something to try and share it via a specialty magazine. You have to deal with nonsense that takes forever to get rid of.

Then I started working out, again. I joined the "Y" that's en route home for me and don't do anything major -- bike and some light upper body -- but I find I'm now ready to nap by 8pm, meaning my brain is sluggish, at best, after then.

Then the job, where I get to do what I enjoy doing -- travel. That in and of itself is no big deal because I can write while waiting in the airport or traveling on a plane. Even in my hotel room. But it messes with me establishing any sort of schedule for me to write...and I keep falling back on my biological clock saying, "You write best between 9pm and 2am." Dunno why I do, that's just how it works out. I've never been a morning person; my metabolism is geared for being a night owl and always has been. Must be my inner vampire. But what that means is, it takes me a while to get geared up if I'm trying to work at 4pm, instead.

So now I'm dealing with a lot of things, next week, and freaking out I may fuck up something or forget to do the one thing that needs to be done and destroy the company...and that don't help my writing, either.

Why can't I just win the friggin' lottery and live off that the rest of my life?! I could write two dozen books in the next ten years if that happened. But you think it's even a possibility? Hell no. That's never been how my luck goes.

Wait...maybe it does. Maybe I'm the epitome of, "If I didn't have bad luck, I'd have no luck at all."

Do I sound like a twangy country tune or what?

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Work spilled over into home life, last night, and probably will through the 20th of this month. I'm handling the pickups for the Italian book fair, next week, and load out for a fair in Santa Monica as well as prepping for Seattle.

I'll have to finish this later.

So...for three days, next week, I'll be on my own in the office just as lots is going on. I shouldn't complain -- I just got back from a long holiday and working trip and I'll be headed for Seattle for 4 days in about a month -- but when did that ever stop anybody? Still...this is where I'll be for some time, so I'd better get used to it and make the best of it. I'll try to keep the GRRRs to a minimum.

Of course, half the reason I got caught up in work is prepping my article for submission and sending it off. And learning they want printouts of my illustrations -- all 38 of them. Sending TIFFs just won't work. Such is life in academia...though I seriously doubt this article will ever get me into a position of tenure. It's more of a tool to emphasize how important it is to have people like me come pack your books for storage or shipment. Nothing self-serving about that, for sure.

Tonight I'm restructuring BC-3 so I know what I need and where. I still think this'll wind up being under 60K. And I just got a notion that Eric will be dealing with someone he hated from BC-2. Unfortunately, a whole sub-plot with another character no longer works but will still be hinted at in the final chapter. We'll see how that goes...but I feel good about the idea.

I'm feeling the push from my characters, so away I go.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Too good to not share

Thought I'd pass this little gem along. It's a short list of reasons why homosexuality should be banned. You have to link to it, but it's worth the 2 minutes of your time.

Doesn't hurt that the lad is cute.


Got busy writing and working and all that stuff and totally forgot about blogging. I need to write up a schedule and post it on a huge sheet of paper right in front of my desk. Maybe then I'll remember what to do when, where and even how.

I worked BC-3 up to nearly 54,500 words, last night, then pulled out a section of 3000 words that were not going to stay in it. I'll probably do that in a couple more spots, but as of now, the story's aiming to be about 60K in wordage, which I can live with. Then I'll have a book of Allen's stories that may be under 50K but I won't know till I write this one out that's turning into a novella, dealing with coyotes in Arizona, and I don't mean the 4-legged kind.

Eric and Allen are having an interesting back and forth, with Eric promising things and Allen not believing him but agreeing, anyway, then deliberately doing everything he can to make Eric not keep his word. Last night, Eric met with Bobby's mother and it turned out not to be as rough as I expected.

I thought I knew the ending of the story, but my ending may wind up being the end of a chapter and the rest of the tale goes on to reveal more. I don't know. I keep acting like I'm writing "Crime and Punishment" a la Dostoevsky, but I'm nowhere near that able. This is just going to be a dismissible work.

I don't like saying that, but it's being sold as erotica so anyone who buys it is going to be disappointed; and the people I'm aiming it at won't buy a book they see as just erotica. Probably why the sales are poor on it. Oh, well. Live and learn.

Or not, which seems to be my preference.

Monday, September 6, 2010

I'm so lazy, sometimes...

I didn't get up till after noon, today. Of course, I was up till after 3 am, but that's no excuse. Still, I did feel rested and ready to tackle all the paperwork I didn't finish, yesterday. And now it's done...and I'm focusing on BC-3 and Allen's stories. I'm listening to Depeche Mode's album, "Playing the Angel", to get me going...and I find Allen has developed a fixation on David Gahan, especially as he looked during the "101" period. But this album's Allen's favorite. The first tune is "A Pain That I'm Used To" and holds the lyric --

"There's a hole in your soul like an animal,
With no conscience -- repentance unknown.
Close your eyes. Pay the price for your paradise.
Devils feed on the seeds that are sown."

If that don't fit Allen and his delusions, I don't know what does.

Eric nods his head in agreement, smirking.

Something I realized is, I never got his look. Eric's, I mean. I know what he looks like in my head and how he's been depicted on the covers for the books that I came up with (I borrowed my ideal of Alec, from PM) and which Nazca Plains came up with (some model from Eastern Europe who has a chin that could cut ice), but I got so focused on Bobby I neglected him. So we went shopping and found the perfect image...and this just flat IS Eric -- looks, attitude and all.

'Nuff said for today. It's time to feed and then write and, who the hell knows, anymore?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Details, details

That's all today's been, for the most part -- taking care of the piddly-bit trash that accumulates when not being cared for on a daily basis. Like laundry and groceries and e-mails that you put off and updates on bills and balancing the checkbook and on and on. I'm also doing a quickie proofing of a buddy's book for typos and such, which can take time. So now it's after 10pm and I had one meal today (along with a couple snacks) so I'm starting to feel grumpy.

But tomorrow's Labor Day, so it shall be my first day of labor on my new direction in writing and life. And I started another blog to handle my more militant statements about politics and society and the meaning behind my books, though I won't be updating every day like I try to do with this one. It's linked under my "blogs I follow" menu. Guess which one.

It's odd, but with Allen ready to tell his tale...and with Ronnie and Eric ready to provide reality to Allen's version of the truth...and the probability that the actual truth will have to come through things inadvertently revealed by Allen because no one else has access to, this is going to be fun to make work. But Brendan's not angry, anymore. I think he sees why I'm doing this and is more intrigued as to how it happens. And how another character, Samuel, ties in.

It's not going to be like the first two books, at all...not in style or emphasis or even reticence about the sexual aspects of what happened, like I was with Bobby and sort of was with Eric. If I can make it evolve correctly, this will be a madman's book written by someone who seems perfectly sane and will explain why Allen wound up where he did.

Bren's laughing at me now, wondering why I'm always whining about being afraid of writing his story when I'm the one who keeps making things hard for myself. What he doesn't get is, I'm the madman...and the sane one...wrapped all together in a neat little package meant to camouflage the fact. Been that way for years...and years...but I'm just now letting the kittie out to play.

So...coming soon to a Kindle near you -- psycho Kyle and his freaky forays into the lewd and fantastic.

It's actually chilly in Buffalo

I did a California thing and wore a light pair of workout pants and sandals with a short-sleeve shirt onto the plane since it was 90 in San Antonio and because it's easier to deal with security. No belt or real shoes to take off. But it was in the upper 50's when I got here. Weird.

I tried paying for early-bird check-in with Southwest. It's just $10 and supposedly you get to board early. I did that because I only had 50 minutes between planes in Baltimore, but it did me absolutely no good for one simple reason -- the plane leaving San Antonio got off nearly an hour late. They made up some time so I had a whole 5 minutes to get from one end of BWI to the other. I made it, but I was nearly one of the last people to board. So I ain't doing it, anymore, and I may ask Southwest for my money back, just to make a point. It's ridiculous to allow less than an hour to make a connection in the evening. That's asking for crap like this to happen.

It also meant I didn't have time to grab anything to eat and I didn't have dinner till nearly 10pm. We do NOT like that.

At least my luggage made it with me. I was afraid it wouldn't. And Earl was never an issue. So maybe I'll just let it go, this time.

Ronnie's changed the spelling of his last name to "Marques" and shot some ideas at me as to how he's going to beat up on Allen and his lies. Eric's involved now and thinking this will be fun, and it all segues into...well, I don't want to give it away yet. Not till it's written, because it could change a hundred times before then.

Man, I love how people treat MY name, sometimes. I published 6 books through Nazca Plains, each one with my full name on it...and what happens when three of them get uploaded to Amazon in Kindle Editions? Not one of them has my name correct, nor do two of them connect to my paperbacks and reviews. So they don't show up unless you go looking for the book by title, specifically. And of course, Amazon makes it damn near impossible to correct. I HATE technology.

Except when I don't.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

After clicking heels together three times...

I'm heading home and back to my more normal schedule...but with a difference. I'm joining a gym and beginning to work out three times a week. And I'm slamming into my books to get them done, which means paying more attention to my schedule. I can be a lazy slug, but all that's doing is depressing me and making me think bad things about myself, and after being with family for this week, I can see I got no one to blame but myself for myself at this stage in my life. And I also know I'll need to pay better attention to what's going on with my mother, so that's going to take some scheduling in, as well.

I didn't get everything done I wanted to here, but some of it I can take care of in Buffalo. Got lots of plans and no time to detail them. For the first time in years, I'm checking a bag through on my flight home. I'm bringing more of my books and DVDs with me and I figure since Southwest has this 2-bags-free policy, I'm gonna make use of it instead of dealing with UPS.

Maybe I'll pop in later, once I'm back to my new domicile.

But this needs to be said -- once I let my characters go where they want and do as they please, they bring me diamonds. Samuel is one...and Allen brought me another one, last night -- a guy named Ronnie Marquez. He's now bouncing around in my head and wanting me to pay attention to help show Allen's emotional state, and I guess I know what I'm doing Sunday.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Headachey and confuse'd

Been a rough couple of days, dealing with my mother and things that need to be done. I found out she got a prescription for some medication and was supposed to be taking it for the last six months...and didn't even fill the prescription. We got it filled today after talking with her doctor. She got an order for some blood work 9 weeks ago and didn't do it till I set it up and took her, yesterday, and it wasn't enough; we have to go back, tomorrow. She needs a new washer because her old one's finally done a crash and burn, but she wants to wait till this part comes in that was ordered 2 weeks ago, apparently, and see if that fixes it.

I guess I'll be calling home more than once a week, once I'm back in Buffalo, making sure everything's been done that needs to be done. My own damn fault, expecting adults to handle the responsibility of making sure an elderly woman is properly cared for. Imagine. I was trying to get everyone together for dinner, tomorrow night, but now I don't know if I'm up for it.

I now officially have 50K words on BC-3 and probably another 10K to go. When Allen shifted into this new frame of mind, everything fell into place and I realized what needs to be emphasized in him and the monsters he aligned himself with -- a complete lack of empathy. Not hate or lust or selfishness, just not giving a damn about the effects of their actions on others. Until Bobby's very public crash and burn jolts Allen out of his state of denial.

I was thinking I had to write so much to get this done, but the fact is, I had 75% of everything I needed and have been able to realign that into a more meaningful story...that of an apathetic demon acknowledging his sins and wondering about atonement for his consistent violation of the one thing he loves -- beauty. Starting with a guy he knew in college, named Samuel.