Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Just a little something

For a blogger I know going through a lot, right now.
Me llamo William Levy, y estoy de Cuba. Mi nombre es "el Brad Pitt de los Latinos." ¿Es verdad? Diga me.

Well...I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I-I agree.

Road tripped

I drove down to the Scranton area, yesterday, and stupidly took Google Maps' advice on the fastest, easiest way to get there. Not via freeway for the first fourth of the drive but by a side road that supposedly would save me 30 minutes of driving. WRONG.

Now I'm not blaming Google for not knowing about the detours due to bridges being rebuilt and slowdowns thanks to massive resurfacing going on; I blame them because the names they give the roads are not the names of those least, not on the signs leading to them. So I missed my turn three times without realizing it and then had one hell of a time finding out which one I had to take once I realized I'd gone too far. After an hour of this and actually stopping to ask directions and being sent the wrong way, I bought a fold-out map, located the town I was in, found I was 4 miles too far south and used that to get to the 390 so I could end my backroads nightmare.

So...a drive that should have taken a total of 4 1/2 hours took 6. Anyway, this is the second time Google Maps messed me up on directions, so do not trust them. They're good for street layouts and if you print that up, you'll be glad you did. I was because when I got to Carbondale, 2 blocks before my next to the last turn the road was closed and I had to go back. The detour being offered was six miles out of my way, but because I'd printed up the area I was heading to, I was able to find a much shorter route.

My new motto in life -- technology is spawn of the devil, and computers are its acolytes.

Today I sliced through a lot more paperwork and chucked out another three boxes worth. Of course, I now have enough folders and scrap paper to last me until Armageddon. I have 8 boxes left to go through and then I'm done. The main thing was tossing out old drafts of my books that have been published -- from HTRASG to LD along with the multiple drafts I did of my scripts. And printed each one up. On clean paper before I caught on that if you set the photocopier to semi-light you get a copy that's just as good and doesn't show up any writing on the back of the copied page that might bleed through; then I started printing them up on scrap.

I was a very non-carbon-friendly person, once upon a time.

Monday, August 29, 2011


So much for not feeling bloggy.


Speaking of stories coming back to life, this is one -- "Coby O'...". This is another shot of "Noah" to show why Coby would go for him on a superficial level. What's going to be fun is, Noah will be straight in the book while Coby is gay. That'll make for some interesting tension, to say the least.

I have an idea of who I want to use as the guide for Coby and I posted his photo on here a while back, but damned if I can find it. He's not a bad-looking guy -- more of a goof who'd be anyone's best buddy. Trust me on this.


Found him! Preston...who's an animation student and whose work is really quite fun. He's my adorkable Coby.

During my search, I was reminded that I was going to use a different, sleeker guy as the guide for "Noah", but he was too much of a model and, to be honest, just didn't look right. Something about his face was...I dunno...ill-fitted, for lack of a better word, and his smile seems forced. I couldn't see Coby really going for him on the superficial level that's needed at the beginning of the story. This is a much better pairing.

The Vanishing

Not feeling really bloggy, tonight. I spent the day tossing out more of my past and now have enough scrap paper to fill a 10 ream box. And that's not counting the massive piles of crap I shunted down to the garbage or have stacked up for shredding, later. I had bank records from 1989! Copies of letters sent in 1996! That's ludicrous.

But at the same time, it was my history...and now it's all vanishing. I stopped keeping letters from people and cards years ago so I don't have that to contend with. But seeing how my push for success in the film biz both evolved and didn't over the years is...well...I don't know what it is. I feel a vague sense of disassociation.

I noticed I went from begging people to read my work to one who was sure their production lineup or agency or directing skills are the perfect match with my scripts. No one agreed, really, not even friends. Everybody has his or her own idea what does and doesn't work in a movie, and I was never able to line up with anyone following the same thought processes as me. It still amazes me how much of the success in this business is due to luck and schmoozing the right person at the right time. You still have to be able to back it up when you do hit that person, but that's not the defining factor in your career. Not in film.

Of course, the more confident I became in my writing the less likely I was to be willing to change it; and I flat out stopped changing it just on spec anytime someone asked me to. I did that a couple times and killed the story for myself...and it took years for even one of those stories to come back to life for me; the other is still dead. A couple others had interference before they were even written and now I can't write them. So I started keeping my work to myself till I had to show it. And no one's there to show it to.

I'm repeating my whines. Not a good sign; more like one indicating an approach to senility. I'm crazy enough as it is; I don't need a total brain freeze to take over.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Just for the hell of it

When POS is done, I'm using this guy (Bernardo Velasco) as the model for Noah in "Coby O' and the Pink Palace of Texas." Which will be my next "fun" book to write. That state's politics has become so ludicrous, it lends itself perfectly to farce...and Noah will be the reporter out to expose it all...thanks to Coby having a crush on him and wanting to help in any way he can.  Something to look forward to.

Of course, that's if POS doesn't go farcical on me, first.

Fall of the gods I'm reading "Finishing the Hat" by Stephen Sondheim. He's discussing his shows and lyrics up to 1981 in the book, which includes "West Side Story". I think that musical has some of the loveliest, most meaningful lyrics ever written in it...and he takes issue with parts of them. Seems he hates fake poetry or poetry in lyrics for their own sake.

Well...he thinks what he wrote for Tony to sing during the "Tonight" medley --

"Tonight, tonight,
Won't be just any night.
Tonight there will be no morning star."

-- that it makes no sense for a kid who's probably never finished high school. It's being sung as he's on his way to stop the rumble that gets Riff killed and makes him the murderer of Bernardo. It so perfectly foreshadows everything -- tonight there will be no morning star because he'll be dead before the sun rises, along with his buddy and his enemy -- that to me, the lyrics make perfect sense...dramatically, character-wise, plot-wise, everything. But Sondheim doesn't like it because Tony's not educated enough to speak like that, or something. How'd he put it? "You can't even see the stars in NYC, unless you go to the planetarium."

Listen, I'm not the world's greatest writer. Hell, I can barely keep any sort of consistency in my grammar and character's voices throughout a book. But the first time I heard this...the first time I saw "West Side Story"...I knew that line was perfect, just as it is. And I think it even more-so, today.

It works for the character -- Tony being a dreamer who has ambition and hope.
It works for the romance -- Tony is off to stop the rumble because he's in love, and once everything's settled he and Maria will be together for the rest of the night and it will be like forever.
It works for the drama -- anyone who knows the story of "Romeo and Juliet" knows how this will end (and if they don't know it, they should go back to school) so it's not only a lyric of hope and love and longing, it's poignant and dread-inducing.
As for foreshadowing, see the note immediately above.

And Sondheim doesn't like it. I'm amazed. He has a Pulitzer, Oscar, Tonys out the wazoo, Drama Desk Awards, Grammies, a few Oliviers and even an OBIE. And I think he's wrong as regards his attitude towards his own work.

Wow...maybe I've been working on my ego a bit too much.

But the thing is -- dammit, he is wrong. It doesn't matter about the reality behind the lyric or the character or the setting; what matters is if it works for the truth of the story. And in this case, it worked perfectly. So that trumps everything.

So there, Stephen Sondheim! JamTheCat hath spoke.

I've also been reading "The Catholics of Ulster" and am getting a surprising insight as to why the Protestants in that province are so intransigent as regards Catholics. What was considered Catholicism in Ireland in the 17th Century, when the Protestants were beginning to take over, was really more of a pan-theism very loosely aligned with the Pope. And they saw it as undisciplined and a danger to the natural order of things because their version of Christianity was the one chosen by God. Of course. And events have only reinforced that idea to where it's not just an attitude, it's part of their DNA. Small wonder they're so lost; the truth conflicts completely with their iron-clad beliefs, and belief will triumph over truth any day. Just look at today's Tea Party.

Hm...also just had insight as to why Stephen Sondheim snarked about "Tonight."

Well, comparison to that, my ego's not all THAT big. Just big enough for me with a little room left over for chocolate pudding.

April 2012

That's when "The Lyons' Den" is set to be released. Only 7 months away...or 6, depending on when it's done during the month. And now I'm at loose ends, trying to figure out what to do next. I want to start on POS, but I'm not really ready to hunker down and focus on it for the next several weeks...or months, depending. It'll take a lot out of me, I already have found, and I need to build myself up again after all I did with LD.  Yes, LD's a farce, but there are some solidly dramatic bits in it that cut close to the bone...not all of them from my own experience; some happened in different ways with different people and got reworked to better fit the moment, but they were still hard to deal with, in a way. I just hope the mixture of drama and humor works. I guess now I'll be finding out.

Took a nice-sized walk, today, to clear out some cobwebs, then printed up some photos for my aunt down near Scranton. I'm going to see her, next week, just for the day. I don't want to stay the night so I've worked it out to where I can't. I prefer to spend as little time there as possible, due to a brutal past experiencewith that branch of the family. Oh, it wasn't my aunt who was the problem (I don't think), it was some of my cousins; but it's also something I prefer not to detail at this time. So I flat out would rather see just my aunt, but I have a nasty feeling that's not going to happen. We'll see how it goes. The good thing is, it's a 5 hour drive so I can't stay past 8 if I want to make it back to Buffalo at a decent hour.

I've noticed an interesting phenomena concerning Irene's trek up the coast. There are a number of right-wing-freaks who a) think the hurricane is merely being hyped up by the media (as of this writing, 9 people are dead and the damage is in the billions) and b) don't want FEMA to help in the aftermath. That slimeball, Eric Cantor, actually said there shouldn't be any assistance without some more budget cuts while Ron Paul wants to kill FEMA and put us back to 1900, when a hurricane all but wiped out Galveston and killed 6-10,000 people; he thinks things worked better then. That's diseased.

But it's not just them. I follow a news-blog called Irish Central where one of their commentators actually said the media would be unhappy if Irene proved to be nothing but hype...and a number of his commenters not only agreed, but said it's proof there is no global warming. Uh -- WHAT?!  I can't even wrap my head around these people's ideas and opinions. So I got nasty and called the commentator inhuman and his acolytes fools.

I have to wonder, though -- has it actually reached that point in the US, where people who really should know better are so lost in their "No way in hell for you" ideology that they can't see how evil they've become? How hypocritical? How just plain stupid and anti-American? Y'know, when Kay Bailey Hutchinson was running for Governor of Texas against Dick Perry in 2008, her people ran a focus group of Texans to see if they could get traction off the fact that Perry had an innocent man executed for political gain. The general response was not revulsion at the state's murder of someone who'd committed no crime (as has been proven); it was, "It takes balls to execute an innocent man!" She dropped out of the race soon after, and Perry won an unprecedented third term as governor...and he's considered a "Christian" leader. Jesus.

That's why I've left Texas, hopefully forever. I got my NY Driver's License today so I'm officially no longer part of that state...except I need to get my car's registration transfered. But I need my title for that and I have yet to find it. I'll have to write to Texas to get it. God...another part of my life I do not look forward to.

Friday, August 26, 2011

All done

"The Lyons' Den" is now officially written and proofed and is en route to the publisher to be added to the chain of upcoming events. They seem happy with my few corrections. I'm accepting this is the end of it all, and sending Daniel, Ace, Van, Tad and Carmen to face the world pretty much on their own. Not completely, mind you; I found out when HTRASG and RIHC6 got banned by Amazon that I'm still a Poppa Grizzly when it comes to my babies. But I doubt anything like that will happen to LD. never know.

Anyway, I was now able to have my celebration dinner. It's a tradition with me -- when I finish something I feast on a good meal that I normally can't afford just to mark the occasion. This one was at E. B. Green's, a steak house in downtown Buffalo. I was given a gift certificate to them about a year ago so finally decided to use it. That (and $20) paid for a glass of decent Cabernet, a salad, a Filet Mignon, baked potato, hot tea and Creme Brule...and I'll be fasting tomorrow to make up for it because I'm sure I put on 20 pounds, it was so good. Meaning no leftovers to bring home. Ah, me...the life of an author.

Next in the pipeline for me -- getting a first draft of "Place of Safety" done. I was actually making notes in-between courses at EB Green's. All about the Houston section. I have a lot of details and things I've already added in to draw from and rearrange, and the overall structure of the story is beginning to make itself known. No, not structure -- theme. What it's all about. How Brendan goes from being a boy to a man and how his life reflects the reality of the world and impacts it, in return. I've got a lot of cats to wrangle on this one, so I'll probably be rewriting it till I'm 90 before I'm ready to let go...if then.

I'm also trying to train myself to type a bit differently. When I learned, it was drilled into me that you put two spaces after the period at the end of a sentence. Nobody does that, anymore, and if I submit a manuscript with that in it, they have to go in and take out the extra space because it messes with the program or something about the soft return not lining up right when the sentence ends at the margin. So I'm trying to break the automatic habit of hitting the space bar twice at the end of each sentence...and it's proving to be hard. I went in and did it, this time, on LD and it's a pain in the butt. Yes, you can do the auto-replace and bring it down to one space, but it's not 100%. If I accidentally input 3 spaces instead of just 1, it only bring that down to 2. Or if there's quotation marks, it may not get them all. Word's irritating in that way...and probably half of it's due to my version being close to 8 years old. Time to think about upgrading...whether I want to or not.

Dammit, the life of a writer.

BTW -- a number of people really helped me with LD -- reading it and offering suggestions and pointing out errors. I'm trying to add in an acknowledgment page but can't get the publisher to answer me, so here are some of their names:

Michael Gleich
Brad Rushing
Michael Wannamaker
JP Johnston
Kevin & Molly Malloy
Lou (who goes by Kyle Cicero and whose last name I don't know)

You guys was the bestest. Thanks!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

I made meatloaf

Made enough for three meals and two sandwiches. This is one of my comfort foods, believe it or not. A meatloaf sandwich on white bread with Sandwich Spread, Tostitos and a Dr. Pepper -- and sometimes a big, sweet pickle -- and any bad mood I'm in vanishes. But it's got to be a certain style of meatloaf. My recipe?

2 lbs of ground beef
1 can Campbell's Tomato Soup (mixed with 1 can of water)
1/2 of a small Green Pepper, chopped up
1/2 of a small Red Pepper, chopped up
2 tbsp. of chopped onion (you can add more; I'm just not a big onion fan)
2 tbsp. of Teriyaki sauce.
3 medium potatoes
4-5 medium carrots

Mix the beef, peppers, onion and Teriyaki sauce together and form into a loaf, put in a casserole dish.
Peel and cut the potatoes into halves or quarters.
Peel and cut the carrots into chunks.
Surround the meat with the potatoes and carrots.
Ladle the tomato soup over the meat and veggies.
Cover the casserole dish.
Cook at 375 for 1 hour +/- (until the potatoes are done).

It's VERY rich, a hint on the sweet side...and I could just about live on that and the sauce that it winds up with. I've also made it with a bay leaf...and sometimes added a cup of cooked rice or uncooked oatmeal to the meat to make it go farther, but then you need to add another can of tomato soup to keep it from getting dry.

Not at ALL good for you, but very filling...and it makes me want to do this --

That's Benjamin Godfre, an underwear model who was a gymnast (I think) or maybe he was just a skateboarder boi. He's also what I refer to as comfort food (got this from Salmagundi; see blogs I follow).

I'm feeling pretty wicked, right now. I've been going over LD for typos and did find a couple but threatened to slip into my usual "this is crap" phase, so I derailed it with the meatloaf and the photo. And now I'm wondering if I'll use this for Brendan, too.

There's something in POS that's too restrained and he's pushing to break free. Something's not quite right about what I've done, so far...and I think this is leading me to what that something is. Whatever. I now know what to do about the tattoo to keep it real instead of merely symbolic.

I posted "pillow boy's wink" on my desktop, so he's gazing at me anytime I'm on my computer. My brain is beginning to notice.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Or is THIS the real me?

Just to show I'm not all that bad...

C'est moi...totalment.

First casualty

I dropped my framed photo of John Huston and it shattered into pieces. I was hanging it on the wall by the front door and got distracted. Oh, well...I got everything else up on the walls without catastrophe.

I'll be in Secaucus, NJ the week of the 12th.  Spent most of today setting that up and canceling my trip to Philly. While Southwest won't give you a refund on your ticket, they will let you use all of its value for another flight, and that's without a penalty charge. That's why I prefer to fly them, even though their flights are getting to be more and more crowded.

Y'know, the first time I went to Ireland I flew Aer Lingus from LA, non-stop to Dublin then on to Shannon, since I was staying in Galway. This wasn't that long after 9/11 and the plane was only about 2/3 full. Plus it was off-season, since I was going in March. Man, I got spoiled on that flight. Same coming back. A full row to myself so I could stretch out and snore. It almost makes you want to travel Business Class, it's so much nicer...on flights other than Southwest's; all Business class does there is get you to the head of the line. That's getting harder and harder to tolerate.

Lately I've found it harder to stay tolerant of people who's opinions are just plain wrong, in my eyes. And I'm not talking simple politics, here, but also business and general opinions. Verizon started pulling some crap on me so I said I was canceling my service...and suddenly I got a $100 Visa gift card and everything cleared up. Seems since my Mac Mini is on the older side, they had to allow for that instead of force me to upgrade to a newer version of my search that required I upgrade to OS Leopard. Don't need to, no more.

I even got into an argument with someone I sort of knew on FaceBook over whether or not pouring hot sauce into a child's mouth as punishment is child abuse. Apparently some woman in Alaska did it to a boy she'd adopted from Russia in order to get onto Dr. Phil, then was charged with child abuse and convicted. She now faces up to a year in jail. I say good, that she deserved worse. He said it was a governmental overreach, that it was equivalent to washing a child's mouth out with soap (something else I think is wrong, considering the crap soap's made from, these days; hell, I can't even use some of it on my skin). I was stunned, and after some back and forth on it where he could not even begin to see where he was absolutely, completely and totally wrong, I un-friended him. What's really sad is, only two other people agreed with me; the rest of the commenters just made jokes about it.

In fact, I've un-friended a number of people on FaceBook, including family. I no longer feel the need to tolerate what I see are appallingly stupid attitudes and actions. I mean, anyone who tries to justify child abuse is unredeemable in my eyes and not worth my time. The same goes for people who turn their back on their own blood relatives. And there are too damn many people running around in the world spouting off things they were told are true but fly in the face of facts to even consider getting into a debate with them; Seriously, trying to discuss reality with someone from the Tea Party is like trying to convince a Goodyear tire that it's really a space ship. It's an exercise in stupidity and you look foolish trying.

I'm tired of dealing with people who are silently toxic to me...and I'm sure some of them think I'm really the toxic one. And maybe I am. Maybe I'm finally giving in to my inner asshole and saying, "Fuck it." Next thing you know, I'll be buying a house just so I can stand on the front porch and yell, "Keep off my lawn, you damn kids" at the neighborhood brats.

World, meet the next generation of Scrooge. "Hi, get the fuck to work!"

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Light peeks in from the left

I'd been doing paperwork all day -- mainly throwing out years' worth of crap that is no longer necessary to keep -- when a though sliced into me.  I'm chucking my past into a shredder.  It hit when I was digging into my box for "2007"; that's when I began to really push to make a career as a screenwriter.  I went through file folder after file folder after file folder of letters and offers and claims and attempts to get people to read my work and the notes on their polite refusals, when they even bothered to respond, as well as all the other avenues I took to improve my chances (career counsellor, workshops, competitions entered, grants applied for)...and I realized this was why my mother never threw anything away.  It was all she had of herself.  Of the life she'd been through.

Mom never lived on her own.  She lived with her mother till she got married, then with her husbands, then with her mother between husbands, then with her children.  She never had an apartment to herself.  A home to herself.  A world to herself.  She came close while working as an extra, but she'd never have done it had she not been staying with me.  She had neither the wherewithal nor the drive to try it on her own (nor the transportation ability since she didn't drive and LA can be difficult to get around in on the bus).  So she accumulated things that meant nothing to anyone but her.  Pictures of cats and dogs being cute.  Pencils she'd used almost all the way to the nub.  My old teddy bear from when I was a toddler.  Clothes she'd worn but that now didn't fit or didn't work with anything else she had.  Ephemeral tidbits of her past.

I joked about her boxes of crap...but now I can see those boxes were her life.  Because now I'm getting rid of mine, and suddenly it flat out hurt.  Because like her, this is all I have to show that I once tried to be somebody.  That I spent 30+ years trying to build a career in film and never could quite figure out how to do it in a way that I could live with.  And now can see that I tried even harder than I thought I did, but all I have to show for it is a few framed awards on a wall and two dozen boxes of useless paperwork.

Well...that and a nasty attitude that works well in my books.

Y'know that earthquake they say happened in New York and was felt all over the East Coast?  Didn't even begin to feel it; I was too busy rockin' and rollin' in my own little world.  As usual, it's all about me.

Monday, August 22, 2011

After the rain comes the slug

Meaning me. I slept till nearly 1pm, thanks to the Zyrtek I took, so got started late. But I do feel a lot more rested. I spent much of the day cleaning up my computer's settings, links and e-mails. And prepping for a trip to Philadelphia on the 6th. It's ludicrous, but air fares on the day after Labor Day were stunning in their cost -- $400 one way from Buffalo to a city that's closer than NYC? Jeez! I wound up booking a flight to Baltimore then hopping the train, which cost about a fourth of that, total.

The following week is a packing job in New Jersey. And it looks like the LA job is dead. Oh, well.

Had some interesting dreams, last night, one of which dealt with a flood in a valley-like area I was visiting.  More like a stream that was gushing over a road that I wanted to cross but was too deep, so I went a bit upstream, which was uphill, and it was a lot less intense...and then it was just water coming out of a broken pipe. Someone was with me, though I don't know who he was...except he was younger and made me happily nervous. Then we were in a dark house with windows high up in the walls, so you couldn't see out and barely had any illumination from them. That's when I woke.

I've found that when I have dreams vivid enough to remember, they sort of happen later. I don't know if it's clairvoyance or me tapping into some part of the ether more openly than when I'm writing or if I'm just remembering something that DID happen but in a different way, and later, when the deja vu thing hits and I sort of recall the dream, it's really just something similar from my past that I'd forgotten.

I don't know if that makes sense, but it works for me as an author.

Damn, I've got so much ironing to do and absolutely no drive to do it.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


Glorious rain.  A downpour with showers off and on, all day.  And now it's almost chilly.  Love it.

I also sold a Kindle of BC-1.  I checked to make certain it was really available and it's got a listing in Amazon's sales calculations.  They don't do that until it's sold a copy.  Sure, it's # 79K out of 750K items available (though I really think that number should be updated) but it's now a working title.

LD is back under the red pen.  It's odd, reading it in book format instead of online or in my Word printout version.  I can already see a few places where I'd like to drop or change a word; guess that'll be me no matter what, right up to the point where they threaten to dump me because I'm such a pain.  I'd like to think it puts me in the same category as Charlie Chaplin and Bob Fosse, who were notorious in how often they'd rework their work...but I'm probably just anal-retentive.

I don't really feel like writing much, today.  I've done a lot -- have my wall of awards back up, at the foot of my bed over the TV to remind me of how close I almost came to achieving something in film; and I cleaned both my fans and the screen on my window (my eyes are still "thanking me for that).  $20 worth of laundry and a ton of ironing to do.  E-mails sent that needed to be sent.  I'm going to kick back and iron as I watch a video.  Maybe something sleazy and fun, we'll see.

And just to emphasize my mood of the moment --
I actually had a dream about this photo, the wicked little "come on" in his eye, how he's almost bashful about it.  He makes me wonder if I'm taking POS too seriously.  Makes me wonder if I need to do a rethink.  And I have no idea why he makes me wonder that...except Brendan gets a tattoo in Dublin and...

No, Brendan's just laughed at me and said, "I'm no angel, you fuckin' idiot.  And I'm no symbol of Ireland.  So stop being so fuckin' careful."

Point well made and...hopefully...taken to heart.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Bobby Carapisi is complete

Meaning it's now available in Kindle on Amazon and will be available in Nook on Barnes & Noble. I just got the word and checked. Not everything is aligned, yet (it may take up to a week for the Kindle versions to show on the same page as the paperback versions), but at least it's now as available as it can be in all three volumes. I don't know what effect this will have on sales, but I can no longer call it a detriment.

I've slipped into a serious blue mood, probably because I don't feel all that well. I'm still battling a problem with my right eye and my nose is still going nuts from all the dust I unloaded from the boxes, yesterday. And that was with me dusting everything before I packed it. I think I'll just watch a movie, tonight, and sort through a few more boxes of my crap.

I'm noticing more and more people who voted for Obama in 2008 are deciding to just not vote for President in 2012 because he's proven to be such a disappointment. Me included. I may volunteer for the Democrat running for Congress in the Buffalo area, but no money or time from me for Obama, this election. He basically is Bush's 3rd Term. And if the DNC screws the election up and lets somebody like Perry or Bachmann get into the White House (which is becoming more and more likely considering how fucking stupid the GOP has proven to be and politically inept the Dems have been), then I'll petition to move to Canada.  I'll live in friggin' Winnipeg or Calgary if I must, since they're pretty snotty about who can immigrate to Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver. But that will mean the end of the US.

I know this sounds rotten -- that I see a Republican becoming president as fatal to the country and won't help the nominal Democrat (who's really just a Republican in Dems clothing) continue with his double-dealing ways -- but I honestly don't see any reason to help the man. He and his administration have consistently spit on people like me and dismissed us and ignored us and betrayed us, then acted like we'll vote for them anyway because we have no one else to turn to. That's the attitude of an abuser, and I will not tolerate it.

More and more Democrats are seeing the best way to protect the US is to support progressives for Congress and on the state level.  Push for THEM to get in, and ignore the double-dealing cowards who currently run Washington from both sides of the aisle. If we can put in solid majorities in both Houses...maybe even veto-proof majorities...we can do what our so-called leader won't. Lead.

So if Obama wants to fuck people like me over, then it's his own damn fault if he's not re-elected. Because the truth is, I honestly cannot see him doing anything to counter the Talibangelical push to make this into a "Christian" nation; he's not built to push back. Our only hope for the Presidency is if someone runs against him for the Democratic nomination and wins it; then I'll do everything I can to get that person in.

But Obama? He can kiss my ass.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Back to Amazon

I posted a number of DVDs and books for sale on Amazon; I have a seller's account set up from back when I was jobless and broke and selling off anything I could to keep afloat.  So far, I've made $200 towards paying down the debt we ran up to bury mom.  It won't get put into my account till the end of the month, but soon as it is I'm popping a check off to my sister, and that'll cut us down to just having $800 left outstanding.  Then I can focus on lowering my Visa balance since those guys're charging 15% per year.

Kelly had an interview with Northside Independent School District for a job and I'm keeping my fingers so tightly crossed he gets it.  The pay isn't great, but it comes with benefits.  The only thing is, it'll be at a school that's hard to get to by bus so he'll have to use his bike partway there and to get home...and San Antonio has drivers that aim for bicyclists.  Not a great set-up.

Since it's an evening position, I'm still hoping he goes to St. Phillip's College.  If he can manage to get a certificate in electricity or air conditioning, it'll help him a lot in the job market...and in his self-confidence.

As for me, right now my apartment is a disaster area.  I had to unpack a couple of boxes to get to some of the things I'd sold and decided to use the packing peanuts in them for the packing job, tomorrow, which entailed doing some running around and stacking more crap everywhere.  I need more shelf space.  A LOT.

The publisher asked me to do a proof of LD anyway, so this time I printed it out and will red pen it...which meant getting a new black ink cartridge.  I'll get onto it, tomorrow.  And I can only point out typos; if I try to do any polishing, they'll drop the book and charge me for the work they've done.  Can't blame 'em, really...and it gives me an excuse to just say no to the characters.

Looks like New York's packing jobs, next month, are shaping up to be a big deal.  But it seems LA is off the table.  I'm not surprised; I know who the artist is, and the guy's reputed to be something of a freak.

Besides, I also need to do laundry.  I think I'll start on the LD proofing Sunday, as I do that.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


I just found out someone in Atlanta bought 10 paperback copies of "Rape In Holding Cell 6, volumes 1 & 2".  Again.  Makes you wonder what's going on down there.

Boxes of crap

I'm going through all my boxes of papers and wondering what the hell I was thinking in accumulating it all.  Seriously...I've taken out 2 bags of duplicated sheets of dead trees and also have 3 reams worth of scrap paper to do my printing on.  And that's out of 2 banker's boxes.  And don't get me started on the dozens of manila folders I no longer needed.  I won't have to buy those, again, till 2020.

It's amazing what you can build up in the way of crap in your life and not realize it.  There are some things I'll need to keep -- tax and bank records back 7 years, copies of all the scripts I've worked on as well as copyright info on them, some of my original artwork that's almost decent (there's a lot that's sloppy and self-indulgent, at best) -- but it's my goal to be rid of 90% of the junk I have now.  If it ain't been used in the last 3 years, it's never gonna be.

I'm now a citizen of NY State, BTW.  When I went to get my Texas license, it took over 2 hours of standing in line, getting okayed, photo'd up and paying out to get the job done; at NY's DMV -- 35 minutes.  Of course I hate the picture they took; I'd rather they have used this one.
It was taken my last year of college by a photography student, and it's the only photo of me as an adult that I honestly like.

FYI, I was 26 at the time.  I'd worked as a visual merchandiser for a high-end department store for several years, straight out of high school, and didn't start my undergraduate education till I was 23...for all the good it did me.  Had I been smart, I'd have stuck with my art instead of grasping for something I was never built to achieve.

Dunno why the edges were cut like that; I found this in my mother's box of photos and that's how it was.  I think it's called "pinking."  How fitting.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ain't no rest for the wicked

Long day of paperwork, sorting through a mountain of mail, paying bills (only 2 of which were overdue), getting in some food so I won't starve, dealing with the PO and bank, finding out I have a small packing job to do right here in town this weekend so need to see what materials I need, figuring out just how broke I am and such.  Still have a lot more crap to do, but at least I'm current with everybody.

I'm becoming a resident of NY state.  Tomorrow, after I take a look at this job and buy what I have to buy, I'm applying for a NY Driver's license and will shift my car's registration to NY, as well...once I find the title.  That may take some time because it ain't where I thought it'd be.  And that will be that for Texas.  I have family down there so I can't be completely rid of the state, but now I can fake being from someplace that actually cares as much about people as it does business and won't be trying to install a theocracy as part of the government.

That's what Rick Perry's out to do -- make the US a nation run by the Talibangelicals, the "Christian" version of the Taliban but using Leviticus as their foundation in place of Sharia.  Big difference, since they're also basically saying, "The hell with the teachings of Christ; too liberal."  You'll still have to meet certain religious criteria in order to get any sort of job, women will become chattel and gays and liberals will be executed.  And if you think that sounds far-fetched, Michele Bachmann has a campaign aide who was imprisoned for running guns to Uganda and is linked to a minister who's pushing to have gays executed in that country.

There are a number of American religious leaders who're pushing the "kill the gays" law in Uganda -- Scott Lively and Rick Warren, for example -- and another so-called "Christian" singer (Bradlee Dean, which is such a GAY way to spell Bradley) who supports Bachmann actually said they have the right idea about executing gay men and women in Iran.  This is what these hypocrites want to bring to the US, all under the guise of "Christianity."  It's diseased.

But Perry's leading the charge.  And he already has blood on his hands.  He deliberately let an innocent man, Todd Willingham, be executed by the state of Texas for what has since been shown to not even have been a crime, and then shut down the commission that would have said so...all for political gain.  If that's not a definition of working for the devil, I don't know what is.

Judas would be proud, Dick.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Headin' home

I'm at the airport waiting for a plane that's already going to be 10 minutes late when I only have a 45 minute layover between flights, to begin with...but I'm finally out of here.  I've done as much as I could to get things in order.  My little brother, Kelly, was accepted to St. Philips and is being evaluated for dental work at UT's Dental school in a few weeks.  He has a place to stay where I can cover his rent if need be.  My nephew, Andrew, is going to help him apply for grants and scholarships, and my sister, Jeri, is backing him up, too.  Now it's time to deal with the mess of my finances in Buffalo.

I've already spent more than I could afford -- not even counting having to pay for more than a third of my mother's funeral expenses.  And not one person who owes me money came through with anything.'s beans and potatoes and eggs for a while.  What the hell -- I've been in this situation before and lived through it.  Besides, I need to lose some weight.

I sent LD off to the publisher.  I'm at the point where if I do anything more to it, I'll kill it...or it will kill me.  It's time to let go...he says, again.  But it's as ready as it ever will be, and me trying to figure out if I want to use "a" instead of "the" as an article is getting down to just plain silly.  Daniel and Ace can take care of themselves, now; I've built them a solid enough base.

Plane's due shortly.  Got to get food since I'm traveling the cattle car line and won't have time to buy a meal in Orlando.  What a pain.  But I got it for free -- well, used up my miles.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Oh...and THIS is what the GOP means by "shared Sacrifice"

Got this from the "Chicago Sun-Times" via TPM...and there were idiots in the comments section saying closing these loopholes amounts to communism and/or socialism.  This country is truly fucked-up.

Tax Time? Not for Giant Corporations
Sanders Calls for Shared Sacrifice
BURLINGTON, Vt., March 27 - While hard working Americans fill out their income tax returns this tax season, General Electric and other giant profitable corporations are avoiding U.S. taxes altogether.
With Congress returning to Capitol Hill on Monday to debate steep spending cuts, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said the wealthiest Americans and most profitable corporations must do their share to help bring down our record-breaking deficit.
Sanders renewed his call for shared sacrifice after it was reported that General Electric and other major corporations paid no U.S. taxes after posting huge profits. Sanders said it is grossly unfair for congressional Republicans to propose major cuts to Head Start, Pell Grants, the Social Security Administration, nutrition grants for pregnant low-income women and the Environmental Protection Agency while ignoring the reality that some of the most profitable corporations pay nothing or almost nothing in federal income taxes.
Sanders compiled a list of some of some of the 10 worst corporate income tax avoiders.
1) Exxon Mobil made $19 billion in profits in 2009. Exxon not only paid no federal income taxes, it actually received a $156 million rebate from the IRS, according to its SEC filings.
2) Bank of America received a $1.9 billion tax refund from the IRS last year, although it made $4.4 billion in profits and received a bailout from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department of nearly $1 trillion.
3) Over the past five years, while General Electric made $26 billion in profits in the United States, it received a $4.1 billion refund from the IRS.
4) Chevron received a $19 million refund from the IRS last year after it made $10 billion in profits in 2009.
5) Boeing, which received a $30 billion contract from the Pentagon to build 179 airborne tankers, got a $124 million refund from the IRS last year.
6) Valero Energy, the 25th largest company in America with $68 billion in sales last year received a $157 million tax refund check from the IRS and, over the past three years, it received a $134 million tax break from the oil and gas manufacturing tax deduction.
7) Goldman Sachs in 2008 only paid 1.1 percent of its income in taxes even though it earned a profit of $2.3 billion and received an almost $800 billion from the Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury Department.
8) Citigroup last year made more than $4 billion in profits but paid no federal income taxes. It received a $2.5 trillion bailout from the Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury.
9) ConocoPhillips, the fifth largest oil company in the United States, made $16 billion in profits from 2007 through 2009, but received $451 million in tax breaks through the oil and gas manufacturing deduction.
10) Over the past five years, Carnival Cruise Lines made more than $11 billion in profits, but its federal income tax rate during those years was just 1.1 percent.
Sanders has called for closing corporate tax loopholes and eliminating tax breaks for oil and gas companies. He also introduced legislation to impose a 5.4 percent surtax on millionaires that would yield up to $50 billion a year. The senator has said that spending cuts must be paired with new revenue so the federal budget is not balanced solely on the backs of working families.
"We have a deficit problem. It has to be addressed," Sanders said, "but it cannot be addressed on the backs of the sick, the elderly, the poor, young people, the most vulnerable in this country. The wealthiest people and the largest corporations in this country have got to contribute. We've got to talk about shared sacrifice."

LOOOOONG couple of days

I've been trying to get my little brother up to where he can use the internet and do online job applications.  It seems the vast majority of employment opportunities and school registration require you complete everything online...and have an e-mail address as well as phone number for them to contact you.  Hell, St. Philip's College even requires an e-mail address for an emergency contact or they won't let you go forward with the application.  It's insane.

I'm finally getting an idea of what they mean when part of the working population will be left behind by the technology age -- they just don't have or have easy access to the tools they now are forced to use.  Kelly can access the web at Workforce Texas or the public library, but he doesn't have much of a clue as to how to do it.  Even after a coupe of days of hands-on practice, he's still inconsistent and brutally unsure...but at least now he's willing to do it on his own.  Yesterday we spent nearly 2 hours at Workforce on their computer, and I let him do everything, only stepping in when he'd made a mistake that needed someone to back things up.  We got one application done.  Maybe now he'll take one of the free courses at the library on using computers.

Another drawback is, almost everyone asking for maintenance people requires they have a driver's license and/or car with insurance.  Kelly has none of that.  And far too many want HVAC certification (AC repair) for a $10 an hour job.  That's a position that requires training and skill, and the wage for it is little more than $20K a year, borderline poverty level for a single person.  But that's San Antonio -- minimum-wage-ville.

Of course, this is coming at the same time that so-called Republican leaders are calling for elimination of even the minimum-wage.  Talk about despicable people being out of the reality-loop.

Anyway, looks like I'll be supporting Kelly for a while, but that's better than letting him go homeless and wind up in a shelter, like was suggested.  I couldn't sleep at night if I let that happen.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Dissonance expands

I was a wary child, far more uncertain and sadder than I ever thought.  Looking at pictures and portraits taken over the first 18 years of my life have startled me with this realization.  I mean, I've seen all these photos before, but this time they're mixed in with photos of my brothers and sister and instead of viewing each one separately, as I have in the past, I'm seeing them juxtaposed and noticing the happy optimism and certainty of their expressions while I stay reserved.  And this is visible in my portraits as a pre-schooler as well as later.

The only one that doesn't fit that category was taken when we lived in London, while I was at Eastcote American School.  I think I was in second grade, and I'm wearing a white shirt, pullover sweater and a bow-tie, and I'm seated before a panorama of Westminster Abbey.  I have a completely unreserved grin on my face, and DAMN do I look like a British kid -- short hair, sly eyes, full cheeks and freckles to the max.  It's my favorite one, so far.

I've been going through old photos my mother had piled in boxes, unsorted, unprotected, unseen for years and years.  Many of them are photos belonging to other, older members of our family -- like great aunts and uncles and the great-great grandparents from Minnesota and Iowa, on my grandfather's side.  There are a few from the Texas family of my grandmother, including a copy of one taken of her great-grandparents in the 1850s, shortly after they'd left South Carolina.

I've also found out my grandmother had 10 brothers and sisters in Texas, all but one of them born to a different mother (who apparently died in childbirth after #8...who also died).  My great-grandmother, Cora, was the man's second wife and younger than him by 25 years.

It's weird, going through all of this and finding out not only where you came from but who you really seemed to be.  My mother often told me I was a very adult child and now I finally understand where that came an extent.  I'm still not sure why I had that attitude or if there even was a reason.  No...I know why.  Things that happen to you as a baby can scar you deeply, even if you don't remember them, explicitly.

I just had another weird moment.  I'm seated in a Starbuck's sipping a Refresh tea when this girl comes up to me and says, "Ryan?"  I looked at her, saw in a split second she was dressed like a stripper (from carefully curled hair to thick makeup to French nails with rhinestones on them to "Daisy Dukes" to 6" heels to way too much jewelry with skin carefully tanned to perfection) and shook my head no.  Then she saw the guy she needed to see over at another table so went to him.

But with her was a boy of about 5 -- California blond and just as tanned and with the saddest, wariest, loveliest face I've ever seen.  And he just stood there and looked at me, as if in accusation, then realized his mother was elsewhere and followed her.  A moment later, his father (I think) came in and took him outside.

My immediate thought?  "This is me, fifty years ago."

And now my mind is a blank.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Forward movement

Little brother has a home to move to on September 1st.  Nice and convenient to the bus and possible employment...but that's still the next step -- getting him a job now that he's been out of the workforces for the last year and a half.  At least half the concern is gone.

So far we've applied to a couple of school districts and some temp agencies as well as signed up with Workforce Texas, the state's employment commission.  It's hard to get Kelly going, at times, but he's moving forward, finally.  All it takes is patience and consistency, like dealing with a 5 year old.

I got the okay from STARbooks Press to redo LD...though they were not happy about it.  But after a little begging and playing beta-dog to their alpha, they sent me the prepped version and said I could make my changes within that.  Just no new page breaks or paragraphs, which I can work within.  I'm lucky they said okay; it got close to them deciding not to publish...but the fact is, LD was in no condition to be released in its current version and to do so would have been an embarrassment.  I think that helped make then see I wasn't being flighty about this.

Now I'm beat.  More of mom's things are gone and bit by bit we're pulling together enough to pay back the money we borrowed for mom's funeral.  My hope is to have that finished by the end of the year...but I'm not sure about that.  I'm in the hole, too, and need to reduce the amount on my business Visa card.  It's not going to be an easy time of it, the next few months.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

I should not be proofing anything

Right now I HATE what I did with LD...including using caps for words I wanted to emphasize.  It's amazingly juvenile and I want to redo the whole fucking story.  Jesus, it barely makes sense, contradicts itself and jammers on and on, sometimes.  I was told I'd have to the end of August to submit a final draft by the publisher, but I sent it in early because I was coming to SA and had no idea how long I'd be or if I'd have a chance to work on it, anymore.  Now I just want to crawl under a rock at how embarrassing this thing is.  I'm asking the publisher if they'll let me resubmit.

Of course, I'm probably being hyper-critical.  I can do that, at times...and all over nothing.  One of the joys of being a writer, I suppose.  From now on, I should put the story in a drawer for 6 weeks to get some distance from it before I do a rewrite.  I used to do that before I got so sure of myself.  Guess I need a little slap now and then to remind me of reality.

Next week will be spent ferrying my little brother around to find an apartment he can afford and a job...preferably not in that order.  It's been suggested he be dumped at a homeless shelter called "Haven for Hope" but I can't do that, and my sister agrees.  We promised our mother we wouldn't and besides, when I went by there, it was anything but inviting.  It's a couple blocks from the county jail and surrounded by a freeway and sad, run-down little shotgun houses where the poorest of the poor live.  No grocery store or even a convenience store that I could see...though it does have a dental clinic.  It also has fences and bars to keep the uninvited out.  And this is considered the best way to handle what could be a problem.

People keep amazing me with what they think are acceptable solutions to difficult situations.  For example, rather than raise taxes on billionaires and companies that take American jobs overseas, the GOP instead worked it so the US's credit rating took a hit, thanks to their intransigence on lifting the debt ceiling.  (Of course, S&P are hardly credible, themselves; they liked Lehman Brothers right up to the end, and their reasoning for the downgrade used figures that were off by $2 trillion dollars...and that is NOT a typo.)  But none of it was necessary and all of it was ludicrously childish...and most of that was thanks to Obama behaving more like a parent trying to silence a 5 year old lost in hysterics than a president out to lead the most powerful nation in the world.

I once said civilization is headed into a new dark ages...meaning deliberate ignorance and selfishness will take us over...and damned if it isn't happening right before my eyes.  When Rome collapsed and the world careened into chaos, it took over 500 years to bring us back to the point where we were able to see learning and intelligence as positives instead of something to be feared and jeered.  And even then, it was another 300+ years  before the Renaissance took over and catapulted us into the stratosphere.  Now we're crashing back to stupidity like Icarus did when he flew too close to the sun...and the Tea Party is leading the way in the US.

There's no excuse for this.  None.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Me and Texas dust

The damned stuff hates me.  Digging through my mother's stuff I'm stirring up dust that's thick enough to grow crops in...and it's attacking my nose and eyes with a vengeance.  Even with me wearing a water-soaked bandana, I'm sneezing my guts out and my eyes are close to puffy.  But it's beginning to settle down, finally; we have most of the stuff gone.

I knew mom had a lot of crap but suddenly it just seems to be multiplying.  I unloaded 6 bookcases filled with not just books but papers and tidbits and videos and such, and we sold all 6 for $20...which is 19.99 more than they're worth.  The wheelchair is going back to the rental place and most of the furniture is gone to storage for later yard sales, all of which will go to paying down the debt incurred by my sister and me for her funeral.  Even a simple service and internment in a small single plot cost over $7000...and that's not counting a gravestone.  Jesus.  I'm joining the Neptune Society and arranging for a cremation and having my ashes dumped out by Catalina Island.

In coming down when I did, I got to see mom and talk with her and try to help her get better, then I sat with her while she drifted away.  It meant losing out on seeing the reading of the first 10 pages of my script in Toronto, but it's good that I chose this.  I can see the script online at WildSound's page.  It's an okay reading and they cut it off before the final setup was revealed, but it's fun to see.  The link to it is below.

"Find Ray Tarkovsky" is my most commercial script...and did well in other competitions but, as with all my screenplays, went nowhere.  I'm open to comments...and if all goes well with "The Lyons' Den" I may use the same formula to make it into a book.  We'll see how that goes.

I'm proofing LD now...well, beginning tonight.  I did a pass through it but my head wasn't in the right place for it so I'm doing a real one, now.

A "real" proofing.  How silly a thing to think...but I can be.  And want to be.  I'm not ready for stillness, yet.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A breath...then stillness.

That is how my mother left this world, yesterday.  She was breathing steady and strong...and then she wasn't.  It sounds like such a simple thing to have happen.  Like one moment you're writing a letter and the next moment you're just looking out the window at the flowers.  But now she's gone.  And she'll be buried on Thursday, August 4th, at 10:30 am under an Oak tree about a hundred feet from her mother and grandmother.

It's an odd feeling, finally having no link to your birth beyond yourself.  There's a certain sense of unreality that accompanies it, almost as if the anchor to your life has lost its hold and you've begun to drift out to sea.  It's worrisome, true, but also oddly...well, liberating.  I didn't feel this when my father died, and the same goes for my step-father.  They just ceased to be part of my world.  But's like I...well, I hate to say it this way...but now I'm free and can go and do as I want.

This sounds callous and cruel.  But the truth is, so long as mom was alive I felt a responsibility towards her.  I couldn't go live in another part of the world because she needed me to be available.  Had I done that, I'd have been abandoning her, too, and I just couldn't.  Maybe it's weakness on my part.  Maybe it's just me trying to justify my own fears and uncertainties about making major changes in my life.  Maybe it's me rewriting history.  I don't know.  I'm just aware of it, now.  I sense it.

My mother was never abusive to me.  Many's the time she didn't understand me and fought to make me change from the course I'd been set upon, which caused me grief, but eventually she accepted me for who I was and how I was and what I was and grew close despite the miles separating us.  And as I mentioned in an earlier post, her legacy in film is greater than mine...and I'm glad I helped her do that.

Now my responsibility is to my youngest brother, making certain he does not wind up on the streets or in a homeless shelter.  But that is easy to handle.  He wants to stay in San Antonio and try to make a go of it, so all I need to do is provide him shelter.  Our sister will also help him, even though they irritate the hell out of each other...sometimes in ways that are so funny, I have a hard time not laughing.  But he'll be fine.

So, mom will be buried day after tomorrow.  My sister'll be having a yard sale for mom's things, like my aunt did for my grandmother when she was dying, and the money will go to pay off what we borrowed to handle the funeral home.  I've already set up my return to Buffalo in 2 weeks and am making preparations for paying off the burial expenses I ran up on my business card.  And next week we'll find a place for my brother to live.  He may even find a job by then.  Who knows?  But that's for later.  Right now...right now is letting my mind drift and get used to this new reality.  And see if I feel the same way in a week.

No guarantees there, that's fer dang sure.