Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Monday, February 28, 2011


...defined as..."the splitting off of a group of mental processes from the main body of consciousness, as in amnesia or certain forms of hysteria."

Well, I wouldn't go THAT far in describing what I'm feeling, right now, but it's a light form of it.  And it deals with "The Lyons' Den."  This is the first script I've seriously gone about making into a novel...and in doing do find I don't like the script, anymore.  It's quick and silly and no longer makes sense, not without the emotional connections and background that have developed during this draft.  Daniel, Ace, Tad and Van have become more real than I could ever have imagined them on film, and the rest of the crew have become honest characters...some of them VERY off the wall but (hopefully) delightfully so.

I now see that the earlier version of the story was still too connected to the script and its surface reality.  I'd initially written it to be shot for very little money on film...and then to be done on-stage to test it out, but the best test of it's been this whole process of transformation.  Now that I've begun seeing LD as truly narrative, I'm no longer making excuses for it in my mind. I can tell where I held back on the script, mainly out of laziness.  I had it done and didn't want to invest the time it would take to make it a hundred times better.  My fault; maybe even my arrogance...whatever it was, I didn't do right by it. wonder no one was interested in doing LD.  But I'm as proud of it (so far) as I am of anything else I've done (well, excepting POS).

I guess I WAS meant to be a novelist.  What a thing to find out at my age.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Oscars Young and Hip? NOT.

BOOOOOOOOring, is what they were.  Anne Hathaway tried, but James Franco was dead weight.  I worked on my taxes while it was on and got more excited about that.

I haven't seen even one of the films that were nominated, this year, so can't say if who won was who should have, IMHO, but I'm glad Colin Firth got it, finally.  And Trent Reznor!  WOW!  I have a line in a short script I wrote where a straight guy says he'd let Trent fuck him...and Daniel in LD loves "Closer to God."

I worked over more of LD, today.  Up to page 182 of 250.  Getting there.  Getting there.

This is America.
He looks like fun.
Here's Business and Politics
Rolled into one.
Here's Washington today.
Any questions?

Just to be as fierce as I can be, thanks to the crap the GOP and Tea Party are pulling these days.  I assume everyone's heard about the Georgia State Rep who introduced a bill making having a miscarriage punishable by death.  You cannot make this shit up.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Numb comes the brain from the strain in refrain

Marathon day.  Started writing at 3; it's now 11:30 and I'm running on empty.  BUT...I got the whole relationship between Daniel and Van and even Tad reworked.  I've just gone through the point where Van runs off for help, and the connection between them suddenly seems a hundred times more honest and real because I worked it to where Daniel's trying to be loyal to Tad and his idea of getting back with the guy even as Van sends out signals of "I'm available" while still indicating he's got an agenda.  And that's where the day went -- making that work.

It's funny, but Daniel's argument with Ace, Carmen and Tad in the shower over Van was the hardest part to do, because it was so centered on there being a bet, which segued into explanations as to what's going on or why things might be going on.  Then Carmen showed up in a different outfit that added fun to the process and suddenly it all fell together.  I thank Jamie from the "Mark Julian" series for that.

It's entirely possible I'll have a decent draft of this new version before St. Patrick's Day -- my deadline.  On that day, I'm planning to find a nice bar, have some corned beef and cabbage and a decently pulled Guinness, and begin again on "Place of Safety."  Hopefully I'll have enough time between stories to get my taxes done.

So far in seeking grants to help me get to Ireland to research POS, the only good one I've found won't work for me because I've already been published.  Found lots of competitions for short stories and novels, but nothing much else.  ExceptI haven't been to the library, yet, and there's usually an area of books on grants and foundations there.  Especially if I use the one at the University of Buffalo.

Okay, words are vanishing from my brain.  Away I go to recharge my batteries and prep for laundry and the Oscars, tomorrow night.  I need to buy a TV; I wasn't invited back to last year's Oscar party.  Oh well, this year I get to watch and eat my chips and bean dip and drink myself silly on Dr. Pepper.  And wish I'd done better in that aspect of my career.

Such is life.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Halfway there, finally

"Lyons' Den" is running right along.  I have the story up to where Daniel arrives at the cabin all set...well, as set as I can make it, for now...and have begun restructuring Van's interactions with him.  By adding moments of happiness between Daniel and Tad, it skewed the budding relationship with Van and something else came to mind so...that's what I'm focused on making work.

It was a nasty snow-storm day so I wound up not going in to the job, thus letting me have plenty of time to write.  I want to get LD done; I've been diddling around with it for too long.  Seems the post I did yesterday jolted me into seeing striking parallels in the US with Northern Ireland in 1967 and 1968, and my anger and exasperation can feed into Brendan.

When I said we're already into a civil war, I wasn't referring to the kind that happened 150 years ago but one more like the slow steady destruction of a society and its people, like in Northern Ireland.  Paisley's rants against Catholics back then are no more demeaning and vile than the rants of Tea Partiers against liberals and unions.  And for years, his ilk murdered Catholics with near impunity, like has happened here against Liberals.  The Left hasn't started hitting back at the Right like the IRA did against the fools who ran NI at the time...and against the British for taking sides...but it's still a possiblity.  A lot of people are fed up and sick of the spinelessness of the Democrats in charge.  That the Dems in Wisconsin had the nerve to leave the state in order to thwart that Koch Brothers puppet, Walker, is a shock to many of us on this side of the divide.

So...are we going to have our own 40+ years of anger and hate and bombs and bullets that don't stop until everyone is so sick of it all, they have no choice but to end it or slit their throats?  Even now, NI teeters on the brink of falling back into that chaos, though things are infinitely better than they were even ten years ago.

Meaning Brendan's calling and kicking my ass.  And he's right -- it's time to complete his story.  I have everything I need to lay it down in first draft and then begin touching it with the details of his life.  Should be fun.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Rant coming on

This has got to be the dumbest fucking thing I've ever heard anyone anywhere ever consider doing.

And it's not a joke.  THIS is what the GOP and Tea Party have sunk to -- wild animals.  Nothing more.  Not even sub-human.

I'm finally beginning to think this country actually is in the throes of a civil war, and casualties have been taken on the liberal side.  People who went to hear a Democrat speak.  A doctor who provided abortions.  Worshipers in a church.  A security guard at a Jewish Center.  Even cops trying to stop nutcases who were out to kill liberals.

TP freaks and their their favorite bitches carry firearms to political rallies and threaten armed insurrection if they don't get their way.  Political and judicial leaders call for riot police to put down protesters and suggest they fire at them with live ammunition, if need be.  Organizations of hate viciously harass gay men because they won't stay in the closet and weep fake tears of victimhood when someone points that out.  The list goes on and on.  And what does John Boehner think is the worst thing that's happened this week?  Obama finally decided to stop defending DOMA!  It's lunacy.

The US has always had its crazies at both ends of the spectrum.  I and most of my friends opposed the invasion of Iraq, but none of us went so far as to hope American soldiers would be slaughtered as they rushed into Bagdad, like one leftie professor did.  And more recently, another left-wing professor said Lana Logan deserved to be raped when she was covering the protests in Egypt (as did many right wing "commentators", the only difference being the leftie wound up ashamed of his comments and resigned from his post while the righties still pat each other on the back for being such complete assholes).

But right now the right wing scum have gone completely, totally and absolutely insane...and those are the people in office!  Their "supporters" are frothing at the mouth like rabid dogs.

This is already ugly...I fear it's drifting into complete chaos.  Too bad a wuss is our leader.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Hope it's getting better

Just posting some of what I been doin'. This is in the middle of Chapter 2.


So Dan-O bought provisions at a drug store across the street, and exited just as this skinny big-eyed kid named Paul pulled up in a Cadillac SUV. Tad insisted my guy ride in the back, like this was a cab, then only agreed to let us swing by our apartment because we needed to pick up the laptop. His freakiness must’ve worn off on Paul (or maybe it was just his Wisconsin roots) because the kid got so antsy about double-parking as he waited, my guy just ran in and grabbed the satchel that held his laptop and notepads and almost forgot his towel and soap (explanation to come later). Meaning, he was stuck in black slacks (old but nicely worn in), white cotton shirt (no “T” under it; too clich├ęd), the comfy loafers he always wore and a knee-length parka for the weekend. And while that look gave him a level of coolness that almost matched mine, it still felt like a uniform to him and was not factoring into his happiness quotient.

As for me, I was already wearing the latest in cool-detective trench coats over your basic casual travel attire, which helps me feel like I’m on top the case...and which I can change in a flash.

Well, the second we scrambled back into the SUV, the kid punched it into warp speed, and in the nearly two-hour drive (that took over three hours because Little Lord Perfect told Paul to stay on the 287 instead of follow the 87 north, which none of us figured out until we were halfway back to the city) Dan-O read the last six scripts and grew angrier and angrier at the lunacy of what had been done to our babies.

“Aw, he CAN’T have Carmen doing that!” he squawked, reading a bit where she gets an anonymous tip in the “Madam...” part and races off to look into it without letting me know where she's going...which wound up making her a hostage of the badder-than-bad guys, of course. “Now she’s dumber than dumb.”

It got worse.

“Wait, wait, wait, no!” he howled. “She’s NOT saying, ‘You can be my private dick anytime’!?”

I just snarled. “Okay, Dan-O, who can we contract out to cut off this dickhead’s fingers so he can never type, again?”

“Gregory might know someone,” my guy said, giving my suggestion a moment of serious thought. Then he added with a note of triumph, “Well, looks like Tad really does need help.”

“That, or a fall guy.”

“It’s not my fault the scripts were written by someone with the emotional maturity of a five year-old.”

“It will be if this don’t work.”

“Jeez, Ace -- ANYthing I do’ll be better than this shit.”

And boy was he right about that. Seriously -- the more we read, the more it looked like the Cheeto-eater’d thought “Temple of Doom” was the “best movie ev-ah” and had played one too many Resi-Evil rip-off v-games, so he’d worked Carmen into a new-millennium-old-sexist version of Willemina Scott (with fewer smarts and a pair of forty-fours, and we ain’t talking pistols, here) while I was the Chris Redfield of Sam Spades with some Indiana Jones spread over the De Sade parts. Not that I minded being super-dude; it’s just...well, it wasn’t me, y’know, and I had my fans to consider.

Still -- “You’re talkin’ a re-do of four-hundred pages, Dan-O.”

“I can make it.”

“You just gonna cut and paste from the books?”

“On the first pass...and second...then polish.”

“Rinse and repeat.”

Dan-O looked up and blinked, asking, “What’s that from?”

“An old commercial for shampoo. Saw it on Comedy Central.”

“Right. Meaning use the shampoo twice as fast for no effect. Talk about advertising to waste resources. That guy should’ve been throttled.”

Of course, that’s when we noticed Paul eyeing us in the rear-view mirror, his wide eyes even wider, his hands gripping the wheel so tight, his knuckles were white. So Dan-O popped off with, “Don’t worry; I’m only borderline psychotic.”

“I know,” Paul squeaked.

You do? “How?” my guy asked.

“Mr. Bentley told me.”

He DID?! “What else did he tell you?”

“Listen, I -- I’m straight. Okay?”

Dan-O chuckled. “Don’t worry, we won’t hold it against you, will we, Ace?” And he looked right at me to say it, meaning to Paul it looked like my guy was talking to his very imaginary friend in the seat next to him.

The kid gulped and stared straight ahead (pun intended).

I snickered, “I love it when you’re wicked.”

“So do I. Now shut up and get to work.”

Thinking my guy meant him, Paul drove a little faster. Made me wonder what else Mr. Bentley’d told the kid about Dan-O.

But I blew that off and kicked back and started pondering the possibilities, peculiarities and just plain persnickitiness of the present project (told you I liked to alliterate). It was looking more and more like this job was gonna be fun, and the only thing missing was Carmen, who’d refused to join us on the trip. She said she’d be around if we needed her, but I got the feeling she’s really pissed at how she’d been made over and just wanted to see if we were going to leave her like that. Like she had no trust in my guy (which made me halfway wonder if she was off sweet-talkin’ some other writer to put her in HIS book, just in case this blew up in our faces; meaning, yes, we characters can be very fickle, especially if we feel we’re being dissed, ‘cause then we’ll just get pissed, and so some will insist they find a new, uh, to do the writing -- okay, so I’m not a poet!)

Anyway, it was also good my guy wasn’t driving, ‘cause it started to snow. Nothing heavy, at first, just little flurries that got flurrier and flurrier the farther away we got from the city. It didn’t matter as we were traveling up this neverending toll road (which Dan-O had to pay since Sir Moneybags had given Paul zero cash) but then we crossed the Hudson and the snow started building into something mean. Combine that with the wrong-way fiasco, which meant we had to get off the freeway and trip along this street that couldn’t decide if it was a highway or a boulevard for so long, I thought we’d missed the connection back to the 87, and the rest of the crap in the scripts, my guy was close to being a wreck and Paul was starting to shiver in fear at the horrible things being threatened against the Cheeto-eater. The worst was when we exited onto the 6 and Daniel had to hand over a final buck-twenty-five just to get off.  He really started growling then.

“This is why I don’t own a car. Everywhere you turn they’re hitting you up for tolls, fees and added expenses.” No bullshit on that. Besides, why would anybody even need a car in New York City? The mass-transit’s great and it costs as much as an uptown apartment to put the damn thing in a parking garage. And do NOT get either of us started on the traffic.  Though it was too late for that; my guy was way into muttering mode.

The 6 turned into the 17 and we drove through an area of hills and twists and turns and construction as occasional signs read, “Future 86.” Which reminded Daniel of what they say in restaurants when they’ve run out of something. Which then reminded him he’d had to wait tables while in college. Which he hated. Which sent him on a spiral into thinking it was an omen of how things would turn out as regards the deal because he was probably 86’ing his future and on and on...till I reminded him he had some “Nine Inch Nails” on his iPod (which he’d just bought recently, and then only because he had some left over from the ten-K Tad paid for the option to my books -- okay, OUR books) so he pumped up “Closer To God” and we rocked along. Okay, so maybe the idea of a gay man singing “I wanna fuck you like an animal” in a car driven by an already nervous straight kid from Wisconsin isn’t what you’d call the nicest situation, but sometimes you just have to be all you can be, even if it IS a bit on the wicked-as-shit side.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Maybe I'm really Dickens

Seems no matter how hard I try to edit my work down, it just gets bigger.  "The Lyons' Den" is now up to 53,500 words.  I may be able to eradicate some duplications in the last 2/3 of the story, but as of now I can't figure out what.  Charles Dickens got paid by the word when he was writing, as did most authors back then; that supposedly is why they were so verbose.  I ain't got that excuse.  I ain't been paid royalties, yet, for one of my books, and the sale of my novella was a one-off payment.

Still...I'm having fun doing it.  And I'm looking into ways to get it published by a more mainstream publisher.  I've also begun looking into writing grants from various foundations and such.  I'm not so sure about writing contests; I submitted "Desert Land" to the one held by "Writers' Digest" and this bleak dark story got judged by a lady who writes honey-sweet books about redemption.  Needless to say, I didn't even get into the top 100.

I know that means I think the story was good enough to win.  Fact is, I KNOW it was.  I'm proud of it.  And I was shocked at its complete dismissal...until I learned just one person decided which stories were acceptable.  That just pissed me off.  So I'm being more careful about those.

If I can, I'm going to see about using grants to pay for a 6 month stay in Derry...but that's just a preliminary goal, right now.  I haven't researched this enough to see if that's even feasible.

So for now I work 3 hours a night on LD and push closer and closer to the end.  And work my brain on how to achieve my dreams.  This may be a fun period.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Work, work, work, work, work

I had 2 weeks worth of laundry to do, today, so while it washed and dried (at the laundromat; I don't like the system in my apartment building) I worked on Chapter 3 of LD...and broke it in half to make Chapter 4, as well.  It was way too long and chatty.  I then came home, put my things away and made my bed...and got back to work on LD...and got through Chapter 5...which I also broke in half to make Chapter 6.

Actually, these aren't really chapters; more like breaks in the story at points that make you  want to keep reading.  I hope.  We'll see how it flows once I have the whole thing restructured.

Then I watched "La Cage Aux Folles" (the 1978 French version) to remind myself of how farce should be played, as I ironed.  Which also gave my laptop a chance to recharge.  "La Cage..." hasn't aged well, mainly because of the attitudes it had about gay men.  Yes, Renato and Albin are the most sympathetic characters and the son is a jerk, but it's all very one-note and the kid's given a pass on his betrayal of the men who raised him.  It's understandable for the time, I guess, and the acting by Michel Serraut and Ugo Tognazzi did a lot to mitigate the stereotyping...and it is DAMN funny in places.  It's a good template for a farce.

I was living in New York City when the movie came out and loved it, mainly because I nearly died laughing in a couple of spots and it was one of the few positive portrayals of gay men onscreen.  I didn't appreciate the deft set up of the farce until much later.  I also knew a number of gay men in the city who were very, VERY butch (overly so) and others who were just like any other guy in looks and manner, even though they preferred male to female genitalia in their lovers.  Coming from Texas and knowing nothing but fey guys in San Antonio, it was a real awakening...and while I could accept Albin as a queen since he did drag, I was never completely comfortable with the girlishness of Renato because most of the time the guys involved with the drag queens in SA were pretty butch.

I've yet to see the musical and would like to, but I did get dragged to that hideous 1996 remake with Robin Williams, Nathan Lane and Gene Hackman and damn near walked out, it was so insulting.  Especially considering the people behind it.

I think the next time I'm in NYC, I'm going to see the play.  See how it works in the hands of a fine gay writer like Harvey Fierstein.  I have a feeling it'll be a fun time.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

More pop than not

I can't believe it.  All of  sudden I had to find the lyrics for the theme song to "I Dream of Jeannie" because they figure into the story of Daniel and his Lyons Den.  Got no idea why, but now I wouldn't part with it from where it's landed, no matter what.

The first third of the story depends a lot on the characters in it -- Daniel, Ace, Tad, Mrs. Serff, Daniel's mother and sister -- but overall it's not as dead as it was.  However, a background of seriousness has begun to filter in...
...but so have good moments between Tad and Daniel, thus backing up why he'd want to get back together with the twerp.  Just having Tad being beautiful (as seen here) was really a disservice to Daniel, making him more shallow than I wanted.

That's the nice thing about writing a book -- I can delve as deeply as I want into a character's motivations and meanings, and it's helping me find the truth of the story.

And it makes the story more compelling, I think, because the way things are now, when Van comes into the picture it's obvious how things are going to go -- Daniel will dump Tad for him.

But if there's more of a connection between Tad and Daniel (seen here) than just lust, if they have a real emotional resonance, it's just possible Daniel will let Van pass on by and stay with the one he'd loved for so long.

That's important to keep interest in the story...keep it from becoming stale and predictable.

I hope.  Guess I won't know till it's done and read by a new crop of people.

I think I'm going to look into self-publishing this one.  Just to see what happens.  Talk about a new experience.

Friday, February 18, 2011

I'm Ba-ack.

After being without Wifi or land line service since about 8pm last night.  And now I can share something I know at least a couple of people will appreciate. Caption -- "Don't you be dissin' our duds; we be fine little furries."

Verizon worked their little butts off for hours trying to get me repaired.  And once again they demonstrated why one should NOT tie one's phone in with one's internet service -- because when that service crashes, you got no way to call unless you have a cell phone with another service.  Hence my keeping Sprint as my mobile phone people.

I'm almost back to human after 10 days of work in California -- well, eight days (including travel) broken up by two days of seeing friends and family.  I took the day off and rearranged the crap in my apartment (including pulling a number of books out of boxes and making them available to me, again) then got down to work on LD and slowly...slowly the story is coming together.  Who knows, it might actually turn out to be decent instead of adequate.  Daniel's revealing a wicked streak in him that may prove to be fun, and Tad's proven to be a world-class manipulator.  Who knows what Van will do to keep up with them.

And now here's something just for me.

Future fighting fashions for freaky fantasies.  Phenomenal.  Needless to say, Storm Troopers they ain't.  Starship...maybe.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lazing, again

I'm still brain dead from my extended trip, so I'm just offering up the first pages of Chapter 2 in "The Lyons' Den."  It's just about where I want I'm now plotting to hit chapter 3.  Tomorrow.  Once I'm back on New York time.

Well, when Tad offered up Bermuda to Dan-O, my guy did a u-turn so sharp, I damn near got thrown out of his brain. Then he whispered, “Don’t joke about that, Tad.”

“I’m not.” And he had his sincere-puppy look on.

“You -- you mean it? You and me for a week? Alone.”

Oh, this was gonna be bad. My guy was already halfway into do-or-say-anything-he-had-to mode in hopes of getting the little shit back. And the bastard saw it, instantly, like a cheetah sees a calf that’s wandered too far from the pack and is about to become din-din. And that is when the stupid stuff started.

“Yes, Danny,” he’d said. “A full week, just you and me -- IF this works. But you can’t stay in the city. I don’t want anybody to know about this, and you never could keep a secret.”

“Yes, I can -- !”

It’s YOU with the big mouth, Tad, not my guy. He’s got corners in his soul not even I know about.

“No,” said Tad, into his not-listening-to-you mode, “it’ll help if you’re someplace hidden, where you’ll be alone and can work your magic to its best.”

“I’ll just hole up in my place and turn off my phone -- .“

“And order pizza and chatter with the pizza boy, if he’s cute,” Tad snapped, “and he’ll chatter with ‘People’ or ‘EW’.”

“I never did that!”

No, Tad, that was you, again, and you did it deliberately to spread this lie that the actor playing me was screwing the actress playing Carmen in “High-heeled Moccasins,” even though they hated each other’s guts, just to generate publicity. But I guess you suffer from selective amnesia, you little shit.

Tad whipped out his Blackberry-iPhone-and-maybe-even-coffee-maker and pulled up his address book. “I got it! Use my dad’s place up by Bradleyville. It’s on a lake and it’s closed up for the winter -- .”

“Where?” Daniel asked, finally getting wary.

“Near Middleton.” He Googled a map on his iPhone.

“That’s a good two-hour drive!” Daniel snapped when he saw it. “I’ll have to work nearly non-stop to get done, as it is. When am I supposed to sleep?”

“Drink lots of coffee.”

“You’ve got to be kidding.”

Tad finally noticed Dan-O had his no-way-in-hell face on and said, “C’mon, Danny, it’s just like college. Pulling an all-nighter to get that paper in on time sort of crap and living off junk food and -- and -- .”

“I never needed to.”

So Tad pulled out his big-brother tone, again, and said, “Listen, buddy, we both know that once you get talking you can’t stop and -- no, no, no, Danny, you jabber, sometimes, and got no idea what you’re saying.”

Which, as much as I hate to admit it, was true, but it was never about anything important.

“Now I don’t want that Cheeto-eating bastard to find out you’re doing this until it’s done,” the bastard kept on with. “So it’s my dad’s place or -- or we drop it. And I’ll forget about HBO and -- and see if I can get some more money for another writer to do what that creep should’ve done and -- and hope it doesn’t hurt me too much in my career.”

Said with that fucking quiver, again.

Daniel huffed and paced about a bit, saying, “Will you at least drive me up so I can start reading -- ?”

“Can’t. I’m booked to finish the edit on a project for a Tuesday showing, starting at six. It‘s the only time I could get. I WILL be working on no sleep, this weekend.”

Then what the hell’re you doing here, jackass?

“But,” he kept on with, “I got an intern from NYU, so I’ll get him to drive you up.”

“What if HE talks?”

“He doesn’t know anybody; so how’s that?”

“That” -- my guy went along with. Dammit. So as Tad worked his magic in getting him off the schedule at his jobs (without him getting fired), then arranging for a car, and calling the intern, and pulling together written directions to get to this cabin, Dan-O skimmed the first two scripts and damn near backed out of the whole thing. They were worse than crap; they were dogmeat.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Serendipity strikes, again.

Today I packed up some nice antiquarian volumes for an elderly couple to send off to auction, and it turns out the female half is a published author of books on horticulture (and I just have to repeat Dorothy Parker's infamous quip, when challenged to use that word in a sentence, "You can lead a horticulture but you can't make her think").  What makes this wild is, I recognized one of her books!  It's about olives in California and Hennessey & Ingalls carried it when I was working there.  I even remembered the cover.  That pleased her no end.  I got a grilled cheese sandwich and cup of hot tea out of it (which is overstating things, a bit; she'd already asked me if I'd like them and I'd agreed...and it was a lovely lunch served up by a fascinating lady).

Of course, they both had fascinating lives.  He was the navigator in a bomber during WW2 and was shot down over Germany, then he spent a couple years in a POW camp.  She lived through the Blitz, and her school was even bombed out due to its close proximity to a hospital, just like in "Hope and Glory", a movie about a boy living through the Blitz and having the time of his life.  And they both still work.  I can only hope I'm as agile and aware as them when I'm their age...which really isn't all that far off.

The book packing at the fair was a much so I'm damn near exhausted.  Three days nonstop, on my feet and dealing with quirky people.  I was barely able to do the job, today, and had the surroundings not been so pleasant, I don't think I'd have made it.  We're going to see about doing it in New York, the beginning of April, and (hopefully) London in June.

Didn't get much writing done but that's cool.  Gives me a chance to formulate new bits to make the opening third even more interesting.  By the time I get done with LD, it's either going to be a classic or a catastrophe, I haven't decided which, yet.

Let's see what the fates bring forth.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Slow Wifi should be illegal

I get WiFi free at Best Western and normally it's good, but tonight it's as slow as a backwards snail.  All I wanted to do was veg in front of the computer and surf the web, but the signal keeps popping in and out and I'm in no mood to wait.  So I'm finishing this posting and gone.  Gotta be up and at it tomorrow morning for a possible packing job.

I really enjoy book fairs.  At least, the antiquarian ones.  The dealers are such characters.  Mostly unfocused and scattered all over the place, trying to open display cabinets with the wrong keys and rushing about trying to find a good deal and complaining about the layout of the fair and dissing each other behind their backs and being charming and insistent and so certain they're the center of the universe, you almost have to agree with them.

The venue looks right for a book fair -- a long, LONG former fruit warehouse or something, built of wrought iron and glass, that is lovely to look at but needs constant repair.  Last time the fair was in San Francisco, it rained and dealers had to put up plastic everywhere to protect their stock.

And some of the things you find there -- like an early copy of J. R. R. Tolkien's first published poem from 1916 (?).   Architectural drawings for a windmill from the 18th century.  Framed Audubon prints (that were probably cut out of an early edition of the book to sell on their own;sacrilege!).  A 4" thick book on how a lady should keep her house.  You wonder about finding some totally obscure volume?  I bet that someone at this fair can help you locate it if they don't already have what you want.

I was too busy to do much real looking.  Maybe sometime later in my life, when I'm rich and famous, I can just come in and wander the aisles and contemplate my wishes and hopes and dreams.

Right now -- I'm too beat to continue.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Seeing old friends who are new

Wandering through the California Book Fair I ran into people I'd known or worked with when I was at Heritage Book Shop, and none of them looked any different from when I'd last seen them, two or three years back.  Dunno why I'd expect that they would.  Guess it's because I'm feeling so different.

Anyway, one just had a new baby and she still looks slim.  Another one's in the process of moving to Portland, OR and still has the exact same hair and clothes he's had since I met him six years ago.  Another left a steady job in Delaware to be with his girlfriend in LA and work at slave wages.  But the best was seeing this one guy I'd been crushing on at HBS...and is still crushworthy, to the extreme, because he's just as fit and trim and properly hairy as he always was.  And just as difficult to talk to.

I worked fairly steadily at the fair packing books for dealers and clients to ship but still managed to do a little work on LD.  Going through each chapter over and over and over is helping clarify the story and also makes certain I catch more of my typos and missing words.  I think the opening three chapters are a lot more involving, now...but I won't know till I get feedback on them.

I like the direction Daniel's taking -- having more spunk and attitude to give the reader an idea of where Ace sprung from.  I guess just keeping at it, polishing and honing and digging in deeper is my method of writing.

Jeez...if that's the case, I'll be working on POS till Im 90.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

It's an addiction

I had dinner with two of my oldest friends, last night -- Karl & Carrie Armstrong.  Karl & I've known each other since college, when we were both taking film classes, and started out planning to make movies together.  Carrie's his wife.  In fact, we all did help each other out in various projects over the years -- Karl directing, me writing -- and she became an actress.  He's an editor now for an animation company and she can be seen as the court reporter in "The Social Network."  So...after dinner he and I were talking about plans for the future and I found myself slipping back into my "it's just possible" state.

That's when I start thinking, "If I could just sell one script for Guild minimum, I could live in LA and work as a writer and everything would be perfect."  I quickly convince myself that's all it would take -- working up just the right screenplay to convince someone it's worth making this into a movie.  My work's just as good as the other crap that's showing up in theaters, these days -- hell, it's better.  Everyone who's read my scripts tells me my characters are solid and real and my stories interesting.  All I need is one break and the world will see I'm the next Orson Welles and Karl is the next Stephen Spielberg.

It's the stuff Hollywood dreams are made of...and maybe it was true, once upon a time...even as recently as the late 80's, when independent features could use special tax breaks to secure funding and video rentals were beginning to explode across the country.  But then Reagan killed the breaks and a lot of crap got made so the Indie market collapsed and was folded into the studios...and now everything operates under different rules.  Rules I can't figure out nor can be bothered to learn, because what they want to make is not what I want to write.

But that didn't stop me from thinking about it, just like a junkie contemplating just one more fix or a smoker wanting one last "last cigarette."  And I'm still telling myself all I'd need to do is pull together enough money to make a good micro-budget movie that'd kick butt and force people to take notice...which is REALLY easy to do, right?  It's crazy.

But it fits my mindset.  My genetic makeup.  I still bite my nails and hate to drink any soda but Dr. Pepper and always order cheese enchiladas at a Mexican food restaurant and get just plain lazy when confronted with a pile of work so put it off.  Nothing special about me, there.

And yet...I still dream...and think, "It's possible."

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Straight guys

I had an early lunch with my Russian buddy, Val, yesterday before heading down to San Diego, and we had an interesting conversation about Amazon's banning of my books.  Normally I don't relate my chatting with friends on this blog, but this one...this one helped me see something I hadn't really consciously considered, before.

A little background -- Val's VERY straight.  When we first met, he was bedding 3-4 different women a week, and I could see why:  dark, sensuous good-looks; sexy accent; total focus on the girl when he's with her (I actually watched him pick a cute one up in a cantina on 3rd Street, once; did that make me his wing man?).  He's now approaching 40, divorced once and "born again" (but I don't hold that against him; it gives him stability), and he's aiming to be a rock star instead of an actor.  He's also wildly misinformed.

Most of his misinformation about politics and conspiracies comes from manipulative scum like Tom Liekas (sp?), Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck with a healthy sprinkling of various right-wing freaks.  This part makes me uneasy because their ranting is usually aimed at liberals like myself, but when I point that out, he assures me they don't mean me; they just mean the people who are misusing the system.  Doesn't make sense...and yet, it does.  The old "I can't be racist because some of my best friends are black" line of bullshit to mitigate the hatred they spread.

But that's not what snuck into me.  It's while we were talking about "How To Rape A Straight Guy" being banned thanks to that "reporter" for Fox in Seattle.  I mentioned it seemed more like she thought it was a book about women raping men, because she hadn't done any research into it, and he said a woman cannot rape a man.  Which is nonsense.  It's rare but it can and has happened.  And I'm not talking statutory rape, where an older woman has sex with an adolescent boy, but an adult male like Val being forced to have sex with an adult female.  He says flat out, it's not possible, and I could not show him that it was.

That made me realize, most straight men have no idea how their body works.  They think in order for them to have an erection, their mind needs to be telling their dick they want one, and that's not true.  It's more difficult to get one if they're freaked out or disconnected, but it can still happen...because an erection is a physical response, not an emotional or mental one, and can be brought about even in the face of pure terror.  I read articles about fighter pilots in WW2 thinking they were going to die in a dogfight and finding themselves with raging hard-ons during the battle; a couple even mentioning that once they'd seen they'd won, they'd ejaculated and they never felt that high, again.

I sort of reference this in "Bobby Carapisi", where both Eric and Bobby are screwed up, emotionally, after their assaults because they both "got off" on it, which in their minds meant they liked it.  But I don't think I brought it out, well enough, that this is somewhat normal (even considering the circumstances).  And it would be even more likely if the assailant was a woman going after a heterosexual man, because there's already a physical interest in getting laid, there.

Hmm...does that make sense?

I guess I'm rambling on about this because this chat with Val finally showed me most men think they control their dicks, but they don't.  Nor do their dicks really have complete control them (as many Dworkin devotees seem to believe).  It's the one part of the body that has a head of its own (pun intended), and I think I could have made it clearer that it can't be programmed like the rest of the body can.  If it's gay, you can force it to lie to itself for a while, but eventually it'll rebel...and suddenly you're a right-wing GOP homophobe caught in an airport bathroom with a semi-cute blond cop, because nothing else will make that head happy.

Hmm...I think I just convinced myself a dick DOES have more control over its man than I think.  So how can I use that for one of my stories?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Flight paths

My hotel is situated almost in the middle between the flight paths of airplanes landing at LAX.  During the day I've watched 737s and 747s and even an Airbus 380 glide in under the gleaming sun, and at night I can see their lights hovering for miles in the distance as they line up to take their turn.  Some go to my left, some go to my right, their wings spread wide and gentle, their wheels down and ready to reconnect with mother earth like geese retaking their place on the still waters of a lake...and I just watch for a short while, fascinated.

This is way too symbolic of my world, at present...hell, since I was born.  I sit in the middle as activity whispers past me.  Not partaking so much, just observing.  As if I was meant to do nothing more than report on the lives I saw as they were lived by others.  In all my stories, I've used aspects of what I've seen as well as experienced, what I've learned about as well as had first hand knowledge of, what I've wished for as well as avoided, what I've done right as well as done wrong.

Even now while gazing out the window at the passing parade, I consider each plane holds hundreds of people, each with his or her own wishes and hopes and dreams.  Maybe ten-thousand flitted past just as I wrote these words.  A friend of mine once said he couldn't look out at the LA basin from a high vantage point at night because of the overwhelming sea of lights glimmering below.  Each one represented a person and the concept of that much humanity in one place overwhelmed him so much, he feared he'd fall apart.  I used that for the basis of a character in a book I started titled "The Golden Sea."  But I started it too soon...before I really understood what he meant.

But now I do.  Jet after jet after jet after jet zips back down to earth and the sheer number of them and the  realization of how many individuals have passed makes me a bit dizzy.  But it's a good that tells me I have yet to begin to even scratch the surface of the world in my stories.  And it pushed me to remind myself that no one lives forever. quote Henry the Second in "A Lion In Winter" in response to Eleanor of Aquitaine's suggestion they do just that, "Do you think there's any chance of it?"

Rose petals

I had a 4 hour plus flight from Buffalo to Las Vegas (where I changed planes) so worked on LD's second and third chapters.   And didn't like the pacing in them.  It seems once Daniel gets to the cabin, things sort of go stale and tedious...but then, like a budding rose, ideas began to show up to make the story more compelling.  I've got 4 pages of notes -- well...2 full pages, really, just folded into looking like 4 -- and now know how to drop the whole bet aspect of the story, completely.  And Daniel's coming across more like a person as well as the main character.

What's fun is, the scent of these ideas has wafted over to POS and I can see a growing problem with the story of Brendan -- that he could easily wind up being the only truly realized character in the whole thing.  Can't have that; makes for  unreality and unimportance.  So I also have notes for that.

It's been a LONG day.  I got up at 6am to make my flight, thanks to the snow from last night, and the plane was PACKED.  Not one spare seat.  Grr.  Now it's 1:30 am my time and I'm about to crash and burn.  More tomorrow night, maybe...depending on if I can find a Starbuck's that's open late.  The WiFi in this Motel 6 actually seems to be going backwards, it's so slow.

Friday, February 4, 2011


This is Bruno...which is probably not his real name because I know he's used others -- Mario and Ralph, to name a couple.  I can understand why he keeps his true identity as much a secret as one can in this age of vanishing shadows and instant info.  His offering to the world is a fantasy, and too much awareness crushes the dreams that stem from it.

To put it bluntly, he's a nude model who's done some kink and jack-off videos and such.  Nothing more, that I can tell, but enough to inflame the intolerance crowd, should they find out.  Body-wise -- he fluctuates between being sleek and being a tad beefy, and he shaves his chest (which to me is close to sacrilege).  Not a bad actor in some of his videos.  Comes across as a little on the Jersey side of manners and speech.  A real "I'll do some shit for money...but only to a limit" kind of guy going nowhere near the "gay-for-pay" label.

I've never met him, but he's formed into something elegant deep in my soul, for want of a better word.  Sometimes I look at his image and worlds expand around me.  I hesitate to call him my muse, but he's been the visual model for two characters in my books -- Shays in "How To Rape A Straight Guy" and Bobby in "Bobby Carapisi."  (In fact, putting his face on Bobby's tragedy helped shame me into finishing the novel.)  Plus I almost used him as the model for Jake in "Rape In Holding Cell 6" and probably would have if I hadn't run across Will Fennell's images in DNA Magazine.  For a while I wanted to meet him, but now?  Now I don't.

I like to believe my interest is more than just a crush or lust or anything as childish as that.  Because he has shadows in his eyes...and that suggests facets within that may be worthy to embrace.  And such a notion fascinates me.  I want to know him...but not in reality...just in the realm of the possible, where truth is determined by the self and not imposed by others.  He offered a gateway to that realm, and I'd have been a fool to not pass through it.

But were I to actually meet him...were I to learn his true name...I halfway fear the gate would close.  And I'd rather not take that chance.  Some aspects of life are far more important than the rest and should be sheltered and nurtured, like roses in a private garden offering beauty and grace...and thorns to remind you not to get too close.

And this is Bruno.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Rearranging the dirt

By the time I have the first chapter down to what I want, I'll be ready for Social Security...if the GOP hasn't killed it by then.  This section establishes what Daniel's character is and he's still being too indistinct for me to keep going.  I try, but my writing freezes up.  This usually means something is missing or wrong in what I've got and I just need to keep circling it till I can figure it out.

In the script and play versions, the story starts when Daniel gets to the cabin and everything else is filled in as we go along.  But that seemed to mess with the pacing.  To me, farce is best when it doesn't give you time to catch your breath before it's on to the next comment or laugh or setup.  "His Girl Friday" is like that; you have to watch it 2-3 times to truly appreciate the story.  Doesn't hurt that Rosalind Russell gave an old pro like Cary Grant as good as she got in the movie.

In the book, I've expanded on the characters as characters and now Daniel's bland in comparison, so I actually wonder why anyone would be interested in him.  And maybe that's the problem. He's vanishing by becoming a supporting character in his own story.  He needs something more than a sort-of psychosis to him.  He needs life.  Spark.  Magnetism.  Without know it.

It's interesting...Brendan in "Place of Safety" had no hesitation in owning the story.  It was his and his alone, and all else was there to illuminate him, and some parts of it are truly dynamic.  But Daniel is still in shadow.  He needs to come out.

Of course, that could be why Brendan scares me a little while Daniel is my doppelganger.

Hm...maybe making it Tad who talks Daniel into the bet is wrong.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Speaking too soon

Lots of ice and slush mixed with snow meant I didn't get into work till nearly 11 am and then a steady snow in the afternoon covered my car completely.  Had to dig it out.  One should never thumb one's nose at Mother Nature; she'll cut it off.

Got nothin' else to say.  Total blank.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

I hate editors

I was reading through my copy of the anthology that contains my novella, "Perfection", and realized the guy who edited it changed my style in a couple of places.  Sometimes I deliberately have sentences run on and on for effect...and the little shit took out my commas and broke the sentences up, lowering the emotional impact of the final words.  I hadn't noticed that before during the proofing and haven't read the story in the book, before.  I'm actually pissed off.

I mean, it's still a solid story and builds to what I think is a satisfying conclusion, and most of my points get made, despite the editor's messing with my work, but this is what I get for not double-checking everything anyone ever does in regards to my writing.  I have my style and that is that.  If you don't like it, don't read it...but don't fuckin' mess with it without my permission.  Shit.

But I get this crap from all sides.  My scripts -- everybody wants to change them.  My storyboards -- yeah, let's do this...oh, no, do that, instead...and on and on.  Even when I'm talking to a client on the phone at this job, I'm getting told not to be so forthcoming with the information, to the point where one of my bosses snapped at me that "the client didn't need to know we're doing that" when it was the CLIENT who told me we were.

I'm not making sense and I don't feel like trying to.  I'm a pissy-cat, right now.  Better to go lie on a heating grate and let the warm air soothe my foul mood until the next nap-time, or something.

Snowstorm's coming.  Should be interesting.


Wimp of a snowstorm, but some nice heavy icing underway.