Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Saturday, December 31, 2011


And not quite done yet. Still need to get one more book case and sort some paperwork...and iron, but the place has been redone and my nose is killing me. I don't know if the work or the sneezing wore me out more. Not that I care, right now. All my books are on shelves and I dropped 3 more boxes of paperwork from my stash. I now have enough scrap paper and used manila folders to last me until 2020...if we're still around then.

The Mayan calendar ends on 12/12/12 so a lot of people think the world will end then, too. I guess because it hasn't ended all the other times people swore it would. And yet people keep on thinking this time will be different. Isn't that a definition of insanity? But then again...isn't that the definition of me?

Great song just came on -- "Una Musica Brutal" by Gotan Project -- very Catalan-esque. Soy brutal en mi novelas, es verdad.

So here's to a nasty, vicious twelve months past and my wish that 2012 will not surpass it...but I ain't gettin' my hopes up.

So I'm ending this year's posts on a note of tenderness and beauty. Back when Prop (H)8 passed, I'd never thought gays and lesbians would be this close to being equal in this nation, this quickly. We pay equal taxes. Are (supposedly) judged equally under the law. It'd be nice if that actually became true, finally.

Again, not getting my hopes up...but still hoping.

Bon annee!

Friday, December 30, 2011

New look for old place

I'm currently rearranging my apartment and sneezing my head off the from dust I've kicked up. Dust prefers to lie where it lands and gets nasty when disturbed. Maybe I'll post photos once I have my new workspace set up.

I'm already getting notes back from the guy I wrote IF for...and just told him I'm not even going to think about looking at anything about the book till next weekend, at the earliest. I need some space from the story and want my brain to stop popping and sizzling. I may not even start back on it then. Depends on how I feel.

And right now I feel drained. I've already wandered away from this blog, twice, to work on bits of my place, trying to lessen the chaos before I crash into bed.

Hell with it; I just want a cup of tea and some Oreos.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Governor Good Hair Does It Again

Can't really formulate a thought of my own, right now, so I'm just repeating an aritcle from the "New York Times." It's too damned funny what passes for intelligent reporting, these days. (See the bit near the end about buying foreign oil -- emphasis added.)
December 28, 2011, 8:29 am
What Moves Republican Crowds in Iowa

DES MOINES — The Republican candidates for president are doing a lot of talking in the last week before voting begins.

On Tuesday, Rick Perry held four events, starting in Council Bluffs and ending up in Osceola, about an hour south of Des Moines. Mr. Perry talked about being an outsider, taking the fight to President Obama and making the Congress a part-time legislature.

But the audiences in all four places were remarkably similar when it came to what parts of Mr. Perry’s speech moved them to applause, sometimes even hooting and hollering their approval when Mr. Perry touched on issues they care about.

Some of the applause was clearly for Mr. Perry, whose stump speech includes some well-delivered lines that are designed to get a reaction. But some of those lines fell flat on Tuesday, while the audience — not necessarily filled with supporters of Mr. Perry — sometimes applauded when the candidate least expected it.

Here are the main subjects that met with approval from the several hundred Iowa voters who gathered to hear Mr. Perry across the state on Tuesday. The reactions provide a rough sense of the kinds of things that Iowa voters may be thinking about when they arrive at their caucus location next week.

Israel: At every stop, Mr. Perry took a roundabout shot at Ron Paul for saying during a debate that he was not that concerned about the prospect of Iran getting a nuclear weapon.

“You don’t have to vote for a candidate who would allow Iran to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth and ultimately America,” Mr. Perry said in Council Bluffs. At every stop, the comment drew loud applause.

The issue of Israel’s security has always been a big one for Republicans. But the intensity of the reaction to Mr. Perry’s comment suggests that Iowa voters may now be more keenly aware of the situation in that country, and more willing to make it part of their calculation on voting day.

The Size of Government: No big surprise: the Republican audiences around Iowa appear to want a smaller, more efficient federal government. But the reaction from the crowd to Mr. Perry’s view on the subject was revealing.

“I believe that the federal government should do a few things, do those few things real well, and get out of the way and leave Americans alone,” Mr. Perry said at one stop on Tuesday. The crowd reacted before he could finish with loud applause and shouts of “yeah!”

A few minutes later, Mr. Perry said his purpose in the race is “to make Washington D.C. as inconsequential in your life as I can make it.” And in Clarinda later in the afternoon, Mr. Perry repeated his desire to have “a part time Congress,” saying, “Cut their pay in half, cut their time in half, cut their staff in half.”

The promises drew loud applause from all of Mr. Perry’s crowds, suggesting that they agree with his assessment about the size and scope of government, even if they are not necessarily supporting his candidacy.

Immigration: The issue of immigration became an intense subject among Iowans in 2008, when Senator John McCain initially backed a comprehensive immigration reform bill that was despised by rank-and-file conservatives in Iowa and across the country.

That intensity seems not to have died out. At each of Mr. Perry’s stops the audiences roared their approval at the candidate’s pledge to shut the border down if he is elected president.

“There is no such thing as homeland security until there is border security,” Mr. Perry said to a round of applause in Council Bluffs. “We will secure that border, we will shut it down within one year of my inauguration.”

He repeated the promise — and got a similarly enthusiastic response — in Creston. “Within a year of taking my hand off the Bible, you can bet on one thing, that border will be shut down and it will be secured,” he said.

Abortion: Mr. Perry did not focus much on social issues in his stump speeches, preferring to cast himself instead as the ultimate Washington outsider (a line that got treated with stone silence at all of the events on Tuesday). But the crowds were not silent when he mentioned the subject of abortion.

“I am a social conservative who has defended traditional marriage and protected the unborn children, including signing a budget that defunded Planned Parenthood, and they closed down 12 of their abortion clinics,” Mr. Perry said in Osceola.

The enthusiastic response to Mr. Perry’s discussion of the abortion topic provides a bit of anecdotal evidence for the presumption that social and religious conservatives may make a strong showing at the caucuses.

Energy: The audiences at Mr. Perry’s events seemed somewhat unmoved by parts of his speech that talked about job creation. But when it came to energy and oil, they perked up.

“Every barrel of oil that comes out of those sands in Canada is a barrel of oil that we don’t have to buy from a foreign source,” Mr. Perry said in Clarinda, earning a loud round of enthusiastic applause.**

Later, the audience reacted again to Mr. Perry’s assertion that buying so much energy from foreign countries is “not good policy, it’s not good politics and frankly it’s un-American.”

Balanced Budget: Iowa voters are hearing a lot about the economy from the Republican candidates, and a lot of it sounds similar. But at Mr. Perry’s events, they seemed to really appreciate his promise to push for a balanced budget amendment.

“I will travel all across this country, if that’s what’s required, to be the head yell-leader on this issue,” Mr. Perry said in Osceola. “I’ll go all across this country promoting passing a balanced budget amendment to the constitution.”

The issue got plenty of applause from the audience.
**Apparently even Mr. Shear was unaware that Canada is a foreign nation, hence his lack of comment about that absurd sentence. It's part of the Commonwealth of Nations, like Australia and India and 52 other countries, and has universal health care (called Medicare!), one of them anti-American, European-style, government intrusions into the free market. In fact, there's been no comment from anyone outside the liberal blogosphere about Perry's latest idiocy. Some liberal media this is.

No wonder the electorate is more stupid than not.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

I dood it.

"Inherent Flaws" is now in official first draft and sent off to the guy whose story I'm using for it, for comment. 301 typed pages; 68,000+ words. And I still think I skated over some bits that need to be fleshed out more to make it work. But we'll see what sort of feedback I get from him. He may send somebody up from NYC with a pair of cement boots.

I don't like ghost writing much. Or working under restrictions of any kind. When I did the screenplay adaptation for Beryl Markham's story, I bounced back and forth between two different books and the only complaint the women I did it for had was that it was too long. So I trimmed it by 35 pages (mainly by streamlining my format and removing some redundancies) and it won best adapted screenplay at Worldfest Houston. I have the certificate on my wall. I think it would've made a great film if they hadn't lost the rights to Sydney Pollack, and he'd refused to even read my script. (Yes, I'm capable of bitter.)

I collaborated on another script with a writer who then became an agent...and who refused to represent me because her partner didn't like my writing style. We reworked a script about how a town bully is killed in front of a crowd of people and "nobody saw anything." It wasn't the greatest experience (or even my best script, not by a long shot) because the producers HATED what we did -- making the female reporter who was the lead someone capable of leading instead of a woman in need of being saved by a man. (Guess which gender the producers were.)

Turned out all they wanted was for us to polish the script up. Problem was, an MOW had come out a  year earlier that told the exact same story in almost the exact same fashion, so we'd done our best to differentiate between the two. Didn't go over well, at all.

Oh, and there was another time I adapted a play into a screenplay for a friend of mine, about 3 women in a rehab facility for criminals. The play was okay but the playwright had missed so many opportunities to make the women's characters more meaningful and relative to each other while not bothering to make them seem like real individuals, it surprised me.

For example -- one upper-crust lady had this perfume she was slavish about using after her nearly obsessive showers. She winds up hanging herself in the shower, which seemed totally out of character for her, to me. So I emphasized the perfume by putting it in a Lalique bottle, and when she kills herself, I had her smash the beautiful cap and use the jagged glass to slice up her arm as she stands in the steaming water. Granted, it's easier to show that on film than on-stage, but you could still get a much better emotional impact than just having someone open the bathroom door and go, "Uh-oh."

At least, that's how I saw it. And the only comment I got back was, "He made it more meaningful." But on that one, the playwright decided he wanted a lot of money for the rights. Seems my friend and his partner hadn't bothered to secure those before he asked me to rework the script.

There've been other occasions where I've had my writing criticized when I reworked someone else's script. Maybe that's why I'm better off writing novels from my own stories. I can do whatever I damn well want to and if no publisher will go for it, I can self-publish. And I've become arrogant enough to think my way is the best way to tell the story.

Guess we'll see.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Paul Krugman speaks, why won't the world listen?

BTW -- I just read this and am posting it in its entirety. It's by Paul Krugman; scroll down for his link.
The Defeatism of Depression

A number of people have asked me to weigh in on David Brooks’s piece today. Sorry, not gonna do a tit-for-tat. Let me instead just make a more general point.

All around, right now, there are people declaring that our best days are behind us, that the economy has suffered a general loss of dynamism, that it’s unrealistic to expect a quick return to anything like full employment. There were people saying the same thing in the 1930s! Then came the approach of World War II, which finally induced an adequate-sized fiscal stimulus — and suddenly there were enough jobs, and all those unneeded and useless workers turned out to be quite productive, thank you.

There is nothing — nothing — in what we see suggesting that this current depression is more than a problem of inadequate demand. This could be turned around in months with the right policies. Our problem isn’t, ultimately, economic; it’s political, brought on by an elite that would rather cling to its prejudices than turn the nation around.

Self-discipline -- never heard of it

As is my usual practice, doing the inputting of the red-pen correction and restructuring has increased the total word count to over 66,000 and page count to 292. Part of this is due to me letting Vinnie's warts show and also increasing his emotional connection to the issues beginning to bubble up around him. I now have 92 pages of printout left to input, so it could get even bigger, badder and, hopefully, better.

I am at the point where things start coming to a head and all the incidents that seem so disparate throughout the story are intertwining in ways that are proving me, anyway. I guess the deal is, if you buy into Vinnie, you'll follow him. If you don't, you'll think it's all boring twaddle, or something to that effect.

It finally snowed, today, but it's a wet one so isn't sticking to the ground. Still I was out and about for a little while, making use of my last full day off, and it was fun. I'll probably think otherwise if it's still doing this, next week...or worse.

What's even more nail-biting is, the first two weeks of February I'll be running from one end of the country to the other, for the San Francisco Print & Paper Fair the first weekend of the month, then to New Haven to transport a collection to Baltimore, then back to LA for the California Book Fair, all according to a very strict schedule...and I can just see it all being in the middle of a blizzard. NOT what I'd like to have to deal with. Of course, I'll do what I must; I usually do.


Monday, December 26, 2011

Walking, again

I stupidly thought the post office would be open, today, so instead of staying in, like I did yesterday, I got dressed and headed across...and the bastards weren't there! Meaning I'll have to go out, again, tomorrow. Grrr. And yet...

Since I was out, I walked a mile down to Target and bought myself new slippers. I finally got tired of the ones I have, since they're a size too big for my foot. I don't have very big feet. Not that they're small, it's just they're an odd length that changes, and they're wide. I can't wear just any manufacturer's shoes because  almost everyone makes them narrow and medium, both of which are too damned narrow. And after a few catastrophes as a kid with J C Penney shoes that didn't quite fit (but which I was told I'd break in), I decided never to buy a shoe unless I comfortable in it. And I'm rambling.

I did get 1/3 of the way through inputting my restructuring of IF...then I hit a big spot of page 110 to page 98 and page 103 to page 132 and just try to make sense of it all...and decided to break for it and watch a movie. "Now, Voyager" from 1942, with Bette Davis. I've seen it a dozen times and still like watching it.

It's funny what movies people will watch over and over. When "Empire of the Sun" came out, I went to see it 5 days in a row. But I've only seen "The Godfather" movies once each. "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" viewings are up in the dozens, as are the best Hitchcock films -- like "Notorious" and "Rebecca" and "Rear Window" and North by Northwest" and "The Lady Vanishes" and such.

In 21st century movies, I've seen "Gosford Park" 3-4 times, "The Queen" 3 times, The Bourne series 3-4 times each, "Amelie" 3 times...and have not gone to see a movie in a theater all year. Not once. Dunno why except the ones I did want to see never made it to Buffalo -- "Weekend", for instance. But that one I can't even get it on Pay-per-view, so far as I can tell.

Dunno why I'm rambling on like this. Just feeling light and airy. The walk did me good. I like walking, and it's fine exercise. I should make the time to do it more often.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Quesadilla Christmas

This was the best Christmas in a while. Instead of dealing with family and being nice and handing out gifts and running all over, I stayed in Buffalo, made myself some killer quesadillas (flour tortillas, 3 kinds of cheese, and butter slathered on the outsides before I slopped them on the skillet), with Wholly Guacamole and salsa, guzzled DP, and did a double bill of "Addams Family" movies. It all felt very festive and appropriate, spending time with Gomez and Morticia.

Of course, earlier I finished the red pen restructuring of IF so now just need to input it. Starting on that in the AM, after I ship off another of my remaining DVDs.

As regards Place Of seems PRONI (Public Records Office of Northern Ireland) has uploaded more documents from the 1968-73 period of The Troubles. I want to get onto those ASAP so I'm pushing to get this draft of IF completed and off to the guy whose story it (ostensibly) is and wait to hear the screams of outrage. Truth is, it still needs at least two more drafts to get the thing smoothed out and filled in completely, but I can still hunt and gather info on POS while I'm waiting for his feedback. And who knows -- he may hate it so much he'll ban me from ever writing another word. I did fictionalize things a lot.

Besides, I need to clean my apartment and establish a better set-up of a nest. I signed a lease for another year so I need more of a living space in place of a college dorm room. I even put the last of my writing awards up on the wall.

Now I'm at ease and ready to figure out the next step in my life's play. POS won't be done for a while (I still need to hit Houston for some research and won't be able to before July or August, not the perfect time to go) and still have a lot to learn about life in Derry. I'm praying my brother gets a job soon or else goes back to school and gets grants and scholarships to live off of. Then I can focus back on my finances. But then, I also hope the GOP self-destructs in November but that won't happen; there are too many blind idiots out there willing to listen to their lies instead of question them.

Such is life in the big city.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

40 and counting

The number of pages I have left to go till my restructuring is done. Then comes inputting it all.

Perhaps I should clarify -- I printed out a copy of the story and am red-penning it as my method of editing. I always do this at least twice while reworking a script or novel. Having the stuff I've written on a computer lying before me in a printout helps jolt my eye and lets me better see typos and mistakes I've made...and I had plenty on this draft. Hence me calling it draft 2 from this point.

When this draft is done, I'll do a quick run-through to make certain everything's in the correct order and I haven't inadvertently deleted something I meant to keep. I have this nasty habit of jiggling the mouse or running my finger over the pad wrong when I'm highlighting for a correction and accidentally including stuff I need to keep. I'm trying to get to where I double-check all planned deletions before I do them...but I'm not 100% on that, yet. Not by a long shot.

This is shaping up to be a nice, quiet Christmas. This time last year, I was en route to San Antonio to spend a week. It was just over a month after my mother had come home from a nursing care facility, after being in the hospital, and she was undergoing physical therapy with a visiting nurse. In fact, she was doing really well. I watched a couple of sessions and whatever he told her to do, she did. I figured if she kept this up, she'd be around till she was 95, like my great-grandmother Marie was.

Her name was Marie Hanson and she lived in Albert Lea, Minnesota her entire life, I think. Anyway, every Christmas, I'd get a little book she'd put together of stories she clipped out of "Reader's Digest" and pasted onto light cardboard. then she sewed the board together with a cover she'd made. I liked them but didn't really appreciate them at the time. And they wound up being tossed out during one of our many cross-country moves (this started after we'd returned from England). I almost wish I had them, now.

She was going strong until she was 94, when she slipped during the winter and broke her hip. She deteriorated quickly after that. But basically, since she came from good Norwegian stock (and since many of her brothers and sisters lasted into their late 80s and 90s) I figured mom would, too. And she did make it to 83 until things became too much for her.

I don't know for sure if there's any sort of afterlife, but I'm not such a fool as to reject it outright. Writing has shown me there is something beyond our understanding and ability to conceive of in the universe, and I ain't talking about something as simple as a driving force behind creation. I've had too many occasions where it's touched me and helped me formulate a story or a character...where it's brought ideas from the simplest of thoughts to full reality in my mind...and then demanded my attention even when I wanted to divorce myself from it all.

It's the purest form of love -- the insistence you make use of your abilities in the best way you can. My hope is that mom is now a part of that and will be forever.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Off till Wednesday

At which time I hope to have my second draft of IF done...and it has been changed and restructured enough to where it is, officially, a second draft. Dammit. Or not. I dunno. I'm livin' on the edge with this story so who knows what is what, anymore?

It was nice to see the Rethuglicans doing the caving, for once, instead of the Democowards, as regards the SSI withholding increase. I wasn't happy that everyone kept referring to it as a tax increase when it was really returning the percentage taken out of workers' salaries for Social Security back to where it was. Meaning the program took in a hell of a lot less, last year, than it normally does, thanks to this. Meaning this gives the GOP more fodder for their lie that Social Security is going broke. But at least the way it played out, with Boehner's Brats tossing a fit because they couldn't have their way, wound up putting the onus on the GOP for once instead of the Democrats...and even the media saw it that way. Big surprise there.

No surprise was how PolitiFact presented a truth as the "Lie of the Year." They said that Democrats claiming the GOP voted to end Medicare as we know it is not true. Just one problem -- it is true. And supporters of Paul Ryan even flat out said so. So a supposedly unbiased organization that claims it's out to hold both sides accountable for their lies and half-truths just blew every shred of credibility they had, not just with the claim, and not just by refusing to acknowledge that it was a mistake, but by DEFENDING their choice with whining and nonsense.

Here's their defense -- "PolitiFact" -- and here's the truth behind it all -- Krugman, Benben, DeLong -- to name a few. It's absurd...but it's American discourse, these days. Romney lies about Obama and no one in the press corps calls him on it. Obama extends Bush's actions in regards to arresting American citizens and keeping them locked up without trial, and it's seen as something good.

It's reached the point where I'm beginning to believe "Alice in Wonderland" was a prescient warning about the future of the world...where up is down, all things are backwards, and the Queen does nothing but shriek "Off with their heads!"

Where's Grace Slick when you need her?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Made more presentable

I decided to go ahead and make my proto-poster just a tad nicer since that first version looked like a kindergarten cutout...and the words were barely presentable. Now it's clean and mean, and you can check my whole set-up out at Amazon Studios.

I know from psychotics

I just got a form letter from my brother and sister-in-law that discussed my brother's illness in September, her job, and how great her kids are doing. All very nice. All very sweetly presented. I tore the fucking thing up, because for some reason, the fact that our mother died just a couple months ago rates no mention. Wasn't even a blip on their horizon. Guess I shouldn't be surprised, considering I had to call him several times to let him know mom was getting worse and suggest he come see her.

He did, finally, for 5 minutes the night before she passed. Then spent 10 minutes telling me about how much he has to do for his wife's two grown sons and strongly suggesting we let my youngest brother go to a homeless shelter now that he'll be on his own. I also noticed the money he'd borrowed from my mother six months earlier, when she was in the hospital the first time, which was supposedly to fix a broken tooth, was not used in the way he said it would be. I was so stunned, I didn't even react.

Of course, now I know exactly how much money my brother is going to put in on paying for her funeral and marker. Starts with zero and ends with nothing. Which is not a big surprise. He borrowed money from me years ago, swearing he'd repay it in a month, but I have yet to see a penny. I haven't been in contact with him since the funeral...and honestly don't know if I ever will be, again, I'm so angry.

Apparently, I'm not alone in this sort of situation. A co-worker had similar issues with her brother and his wife when their father was dying. She actually got into a screaming match with her sister-in-law in the hospital parking lot over them not coming until the last minute, and there are still scars healing from that rift in their family.

Look, I'm not perfect, not by any stretch of the imagination. You give me half a chance, I'll roll out a list of defects in me that would curl the hair of most people. And no question I've been a dick more times than I care to admit. But I never abandoned my mother. And I won't abandon my youngest brother. And I know my sister will be there for him, as well, just like she was there for mom as much as she could be. To do anything less would be evil...and I'm disgusted that I'm of the same blood as someone who would do exactly that.


Okay...I was skidding into a mood that's even darker than this when I noticed my book, "Porno Manifesto" got a review of "Awesome" on Barnes & Noble's site, along with 5 stars out of 5. Doesn't take much to turn my black into mere twilight. Maybe, in regards to an earlier post, I am as shallow as I seem.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Helen Mirren Doesn't Sleep

She apparently wants to be Dr. which case I may start watching the show. I think I've seen parts of four episodes...maybe five. Of course, the reaction from the Who-go-nauts is typically a condescending sneer that all but screams, "You said you liked Ab-Fab, you watched all the Prime Suspect (because of Helen), you enjoyed Hetty Wainthropp (because of Dominic) and Mystery (despite the shoddy production values) and some of the Masterpiece Theatre concoctions (tho' I HATED their version of Rebecca, and that's despite Diana Rigg playing Mrs. Danvers), yet you've never watched Dr. Who?"

What can I say? I wasn't big on "Star Trek" either, really, not till Spock was made hawt and Kirk became a cutie in the re-boot. And I was heavy on BSG because it was more a political SF show than anything else (and Jaime nearly lost his towel). Okay, I'm shallow. So what? Sometimes you just gotta have the Pop Culture and what dreams it engenders, know what I mean?

I say that because I'm probably doing something stupid, as regards Amazon. It started when I was dumb enough to try and buy something from the Warner Brothers' Store (which I finally learned is on back order till God knows when). Suddenly I had a window pop up on my sbcglobal page. Mentioning a competition for best storyboard. I'd never heard of this before, so I clicked on it. This is what's known, using twenty-twenty-hindsight, as a boo-boo.

Amazon has been offering a new program that's a step above You post a script, let other people rewrite it, if they choose (them doing it with the understanding that they lose all rights to their rewrite while the original author of the script keeps his or her rights...and I read the submission agreement and that's basically what it says), then it goes through a membership review process and if Amazon likes it, they will option it and if it gets made pay you better than Guild minimum.

Well, I posted a script. Came up with an image for it and everything. It doesn't cost a penny to submit and here's what I did. It's not like I'm doing anything else with the script, and if this gets it'll be worth it.

The image is a bit clumsy, but it works. Maybe the next thing I'll do it work up some decent storyboards of one of the action bits and post those in a series, instead.

As for IF...I'm closer. But I'm in an area where everything is shifting around to make better sense. I'd set up one character's death over some space to ratchet up the pressure on Vinnie, then realized it would have a greater impact if it happened suddenly. So there was that. And then the marriage and his partner becoming his best buddy and my initial draft really was just an idea piece.

Maybe one of these years I'll finish it.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

More work than I thought

Man, I'm doing a fair amount of rearranging, now that I'm following "Inherent Flaws" from beginning to end. I'm through page 163 so am on the downhill slope, but it's not easy going. I'm also finding repetition of various situations and some things referenced later in the story need to be established earlier. I'd say this first draft is really turning out to be little more than a step outline but there is a lot of development going on. And for all that I'm cutting out, I'm putting more in so it may well set in its 62K word ways.

I'm also finding a theme is there that I'd not really noticed, and it dips neatly into the final act. I'll need to set it in better than it currently is, but it helps make the spine stronger and adds to Vinnie's actions.

Slept good last night, and I think I did it all on my right side, because my right leg and lower back irritated me all day. But I felt good otherwise. The only change I made was cutting the heater off before I hit the sack. It may well be that's what's causing me discomfort enough to not be able to drift off. Fortunately, my apartment stays warm if I have the window closed and a curtain over it.

I made the mistake of ordering some DVDs from Warner Brothers' shop, online. Back on the 10th. They have yet to arrive...hell, I can't even find out if they've shipped yet. And they will not answer my e-mails. Last time I'll do that.

Monday, December 19, 2011

This is ridiculous

I'm not used to having insomnia. Normally when I hit the pillow I'm out within a few minutes...mainly because I keep going till I'm about ready to drop. But the last two nights, I've barely gotten any sleep. It's like my brain kicks in and I can't shut it down. So at 3:30 this morning I gave up, turned on a light and read for an hour, then was able to drop off and get some ZZZs. I never was one for the Tylenol PM crap; makes me a zombie the next day.

Okay, I have had episodes like this before, but what surprised me was that this time, rather than me fading out at about 2pm, I was fine till I got home, ate dinner and was checking e-mails. Then the tiredness swooped down like an owl on a field mouse, so I took a catnap and we'll see what happens tonight.

This brain restlessness may have something to do with the story. I worked on it, yesterday, and tonight I got to about the halfway point in corrections and changes. I did have some things out of order, and not deliberately so. I also decided to go whole hog on the Sixties scene in NYC and added in Vinnie going to some parties with a guy he knows who knows people in the know, and having to deal with the explosion of drugs not only on the streets among the low-lifes, with hints of it in his own family, but in the parlors and discos of the monied class. Certain appetites get awakened that will bear fruit later. These will probably need to be fleshed out more in the next draft, but for now they work to carry the story forward and build his reasoning for what happens near the end.

So by the time this draft is done, it'll really be a second one...but my seconds are always my firsts, at least, they're the one's I'm willing to let people read.

Or maybe I should wait till I figure out how the hell Simon and Garfunkel were able to worm their way into one of those parties without even being there. I know, I know, but it makes sense in the story.

I think.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Out of control

No sleep, last night, thanks to my mind refusing to shut down. Which means a sleep-walker of a day. I'm posting early 'cause I'm aiming for bed, early...and doing it the lazy way -- with a part of "Inherent Flaws." This is when Vinnie's 18 and considering a job that would put him "on record" with the mob.


The phone rang. Ronnie reached over the bar and answered it. “Hello. Who’s this? He’ll be here. He said to come by.”

Ronnie hung up and headed into a back room, and I could just see Lino seated at a desk, inside.

And I could just hear Ronnie say, “I told him.”

Lino nodded and said, “Close up.”

Ronnie came back out and clapped his hands. “Okay -- good night, everybody. Clear out.”

People got up and headed home. Ronnie motioned for me to wait till the club was empty, then he handed over the car keys.

“Stay right by the phone. I don’t wanna bother your folks. And really, you don’t hear from me by midnight? Hit the sack.”

I nodded and headed out the door and crossed the street and the only red car with a black vinyl roof was a beautiful brand new GTO. Man, this a killer piece of metal, with twin scoops on the hood, hood-mounted tach, and hidden headlights. I got in, slowly, like I was going to church, and breathed in that new car smell, then gave the beast a good looking over. Power steering and brakes. AM-FM Stereo radio with an 8-track. Cruise control.

I started her up and the engine thrummed to life. Deep and ready. Probably a 455. Whooh, that convinced me -- he was doing good. I’d thought he was blowing smoke when he started talking about getting his own place in one of the new high-rises going up, ‘cause they won’t be cheap. But now? What was I doing at a job that wouldn’t even pay me enough to buy a second-hand house in Hoboken?

Thing was, my dad was harsh on me even thinking about going on record. He’d worked hard his whole life and had a good reputation as an honest man, had the kind of respect that’s earned instead of comes from fear or need or greed. And he wanted that for me, too. Him and my mom and my sisters. They’d drilled it into me that I didn’t need to go that way. So if I took this step, it’d break all their hearts. Crush them. I was the only son, and all their dreams for me would be gone down a drain.

But then I thought about where we had to live my whole life -- a third floor walk-up where you could hear the neighbors arguing and kids screaming as they played on the street or in the halls and no trees worth anything and no grass at all, except at the projects, and then you had to deal with all kinds of other stuff. Pipes knocking to keep you awake. Garbage trucks being your alarm clock at five am.

It was the same for my aunt and uncle up in Harlem, with Fredo. They couldn’t afford to live anyplace else, so their whole world was built around retiring to Florida, with a little condo near the beach where they could slowly die as they watched the ocean. So my cousin, Fredo, was doing his own thing to keep that from happening to him, and like I said, he’d been flashing nice wads, lately. But by now I had a pretty good idea what that was all about, meaning we just didn’t talk about it.

What’s funny is, this was all an argument my head was having; my heart didn’t enter into these thoughts at all. Not once. What Louisa might think didn’t figure. I knew she’d back me up no matter what I did, and I wouldn’t have to tell her everything that happened. I’d just have to be the kind of guy who can keep his own secrets. That wouldn’t be a problem. My dad still thinks getting me on with Patty’s was the perfect answer to getting me away from Mickey’s life. It was almost funny, ‘cause here I was right back to that, as if I was meant to be there.

I dunno if I believe in fate. If you’ve got your life written out for you and no matter what you do, you wind up right where you were meant to be, even if you weren’t planning to go there. But still...

A new Cadillac sedan passed me and double-parked in front of the club, jolting me out of my thoughts. I put the GTO in gear and pulled up the street, going slow so I could watch the Caddy in the outside mirror...and I got a great view of this massive side of beef getting out from behind the wheel, wearing a camelhair coat and shoes that gleamed in the light from the street lamps. I knew who he was straight off -- Frankie Bats, one of those vicious guys that hits first and asks what you’ve done wrong after. He strutted around the Caddy as his bodyguard got out, an even bigger side of beef who was probably a former boxer, the way his face looked all mashed up. He stopped and took in a deep breath, then Ronnie opened the club’s door and they strutted right in like they were royalty.

Frankie Bats. He was uptown. Who’d of expected him down around here? This did not bode well, so I drove off.

When I got home, the place was dark except for a light in the kitchen. I liked it like that. It made it easier to just sit in a chair by the phone and not think, for a while. I tried to be quiet as I got a beer from the fridge, but I still heard mom call from her bedroom, “Vinnie?”

“Yeah, mom. Sorry I woke you.”

“Are you working, tomorrow?”

“Yeah. See you in the morning.”

I sat in the chair, sipping from the beer, thinking, wondering what was going on at Lino’s club, right then. Because something about Frankie Bats’ coming-on-hard strut and the bodyguard breezing in and the fact the club closed half an hour early made me wary. Man, I could just see what was gonna happen.

Ronnie was all polite and led the guys to the office door then motioned for them to enter and returned to the bar, letting Frankie and his Bodyguard strut right in, all full of themselves and sure they were in control.

Lino was seated behind his desk and didn’t get up to greet them. That would indicate weakness, and it was obvious their attitude meant nothing but trouble. Besides, Lino never cared about standing on formalities. So Frankie and his boy kept standing, to keep in control.

So -- what would a guy like Frankie want that Lino might have? Well, seeing as how Lino and Dante’d both moved up the ranks now that Big Joey was in Attica, they probably split all his old contacts. Meaning, only one thing made sense.

“Here’s the deal,” Frankie said. “You got a judge on the pad. We want direct contact.”

Of course, Lino stood up and got just as hard right back at him. “You kiddin’ me? My people only deal with me.”

“He’ll deal with me if I approach him right."

“Cut the shit, Frankie! We got everything set up, here. You need help with something, you go through me, like everybody else.”

“And keep makin’ you rich? Fuck that. You don’t share, maybe nobody got him.”

“You’re a fuckin’ idiot,” Lino said then yanked out a pistol and shot the bodyguard before he blew Frankie away. Bam, bam, bam, bam, like that kid on the “Flintstones” cartoon, before he stormed around the desk and shot each man in the head to make sure. Back room. Thick walls. Nobody’d hear a thing. And even if they did, even if they knew exactly what was happening, they’d just shrug it off as business that’s between those guys and nobody else.

Of course, all of this was just conjecture on my part, because it would be a major violation of good manners. You don’t invite a rival over to talk business then scatter his brains all over your floor, not if you don’t want to start a war up. Or...unless you got the okay from higher up. Something like, “This guy, Frankie Bats, he’s causing too much trouble. Thinks he’s gonna tell us what to do.” And Lino’d been given the job because he really did not give a damn.

Oh, man. That was not what I wanted to be thinking about. I kept sitting in the chair in the dark, watching the phone, a fresh beer bottle pressed to my temple. It was a quarter past eleven, and I was getting nervous. What if that was what happened? What if this was what Ronnie’d got himself into, now? He’d always been more of a hard-ass than me, a nose-to-nose kind of guy who wouldn’t take anything off anybody. But me? My feeling was always, Why fight it if you can work around it? Like with that idiot, Cisco. Yet here I was aiming to do backup to Ronnie when I had no idea what I was backing him up for. Could I do this? Really?

Memories and wishes...

 This is the image of Christina Ricci that set me off on Gabrielle -- youth filled with awareness, beauty touched by the cold, cold night.
 I was thinking of using this image for the poster -- Chet Baker and his wife, Halema, in the 50s.
This is what I came up with, instead. Maybe too subtle, of my failings. However, my alternate one, using a different model, was deemed "too busy" by people I knew in the graphics world.

Saturday, December 17, 2011


That's the number of words in my first draft of "Inherent Flaws." 275 typed pages. Probably doesn't make a damn bit of sense, and I already know of one bit I want to move to earlier in the story so it'll need to be smoothed over, but I have the beginnings done. And I have no mind left, at the moment.

To let said mind wander...on the bulletin board over my desk is a semi-shrine to a script I wrote, one I was hoping would be the sale I finally got. It's an erotic-horror-romance titled "Blood Angel" about an 800 year-old vampire queen named Gabrielle who decides to make a young jazz musician in post-Katrina New Orleans her consort. His name is Tristan, and to do that, she must convince him to give up everything he loves and become a vampire like her. That's where the erotic part comes in; seems the way to every man's heart is through his dick, be he gay or straight.

The shrine is basically a printout of this photo of Jonathan Togo, who looks exactly like Tristan, in my mind. (My ideal Gabrielle would be Christina Ricci.) Long before Katrina, I was in New Orleans and was given a gold and a hot pink tin medal, so  pasted each one to it, Then I hung a couple of cheap crosses (sent to me by some Catholic group begging for money) from the pins that hold it on the board. It's tacky and a bit like the shrine Antoine Doinel builds to Balzac in "The 400 blows"...just without the candle and accompanying fire.

I set it up five years ago, just as I was starting to send the script out. I did well in a few competitions, including coming in second in one based in Chicago that led to a writing job. I even worked up a $5m budget to shoot in New Orleans and was pulling together a plan to start seeking money to make the movie. I knew if I got Brad Rushing to help me, it would come out perfect. But then life happened and now it's years later...and I still have that shrine on my board. And there are so many vampire movies and TV shows out there, they've become trite.

Of course, mine would still be relevant because it's not one of those "vampires are people, too" kinds of stories meant to symbolically mean gays or Latinos or African-Americans or whatever minority is being jumped on by the right-wing establishment. Yes, it's erotic and romantic and horrifying -- I have a moment where Gabrielle coldly throws a man off a roof to his death because he interfered with her, being true to her character -- but it's also a tragedy. I used Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde" as my guideline for the story, with Jan Garabarek's exquisite "Parce Mihi Domine" as its modern musical influence. It's a elegy to New Orleans, which is now dead...and yet undead.

Perhaps it would work better as a book. Perhaps chasing film was worse than a was a distraction from what I was meant to do. I dunno. I just know...I just know Jonathan Togo's haunted eyes and Christina Ricci's calm control would have added so damned much to the story. Sometimes visuals are best to work with. Sometimes.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Forgetfulness is my middle name

Or maybe "lack of focus." I just plain forgot to blog, last night, and I'm trying to make it an ingrained habit to do every evening, sort of a purge to relieve me of what's been the day's issues...or whines...or achievements...or whatever.

Thing is, I was tapped every sense of the word. I have too many distractions going on, right now, so it's hard to keep zeroed in on IF or any sort of writing. I remember a scene in "Amadeus" where Mozart's wife and father are loudly arguing and he's in a separate room, writing his music. All he does is vaguely look around at their raised voices and then turns back to his music. He had focus. Of course, he also died before he was even forty.

As for me, I didn't really get into writing until four years ago, when I finished HTRASG. I think I did four drafts on that before I sent it out, then when the publisher accepted it, I did another and a polish. And while the sex in it is raw and brutal, the story itself fit together so neatly, it surprised me. And this was the first time I honestly felt I'd written a fully three dimensional character, in Curt.

It's also the bravest work I've done. Because it does skirt close to pornography, to be honest. I don't think it is and Amazon's agreed with me, but not everyone out there will share my sentiments. And I knew that going in. And I still not only published it but put my name on it. And told friends and family about it. It would've been nice if it'd turned into some cash, too, but I didn't expect it ever would and the fact that it's still my best seller says a lot about my work.

Because while the title is very in-your-face, the book wouldn't still be selling if the writing wasn't good. Nazca Plains has some other in-your-face novels available, but they're mostly crap writing that barely even rises to high school level, and they hardly sell anything while my books are consistently in the top 25% of their sellers...often in the top 10. Bragging, yes...but true.

Even that one vampire series I was more because I really enjoyed the characters than anything else. Though I have to say, reading it did help me loosen up with the characters in LD. The simple yet effortless way he established and expanded on his books' inhabitants was elegant.

Hm...I think I've found out what the problem is with IF. Vinnie got married and lost his joyousness. Which is an odd thing to consider as an issue when the book HAS to start getting serious and intense at this point. But that doesn't mean he's got to be a slug or a cypher. I'm holding back, somewhere, and need to find out why, what, and how to correct it.

Guess I'll need more than four drafts with this puppy to train it right.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The boring-ness of it

I'm at that stage where my work is coming across to me as tedious. Boring. Irritatingly bland. I'm also up over 59,000 words and still have a hundred pages to finish honing. And that's with me cutting a section I'd duplicated. So I'm still moving forward, but damn, this story is going to rely way too heavily on the voice of Vinnie to keep the reader's interest, and that can be a problem.

With Brendan, I have the times around him as backup to his tale. The growing sense of a world spinning out of control and warping everyone with its violence. It almost seems he is the eye of calm in the midst of the storm until he makes direct contact.  And thinking about it, the section in Houston, where he's rebuilding his life, is the most tedious, as well. I have none of the sense of the city's danger really layered behind it...because I don't want him to see it, yet. Because it has to creep up like a cat stalking a bird, but still be there for the reader to notice and fear. Yeah, that'll be easy to pull off.

Hm...this may be something I need to face head on. Maybe this is why I'm confronted by it with Vinnie and his tale -- to find some way of putting excitement into the background of the commonplace and the veiled simplicity of the world around them. Expose the deeper complexities and dangers and beauties of it all...and still keep the character's voice honest and true.

Just the thought makes my head hurt.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Had to face that fact that Christmas is coming and this goose ain't fat in the wallet, so a few presents bought and cards sent out and that is that for this year. Now I'm out of excuses other than just plain laziness when it comes to writing.

I'm getting this damn thing done this weekend. I could dither and dather (is there such a word? Spell-check don't like it) for the rest of my life and I ain't got time for that. I've got a dozen different stories to write and who knows what more will come?

Something that sparked me on one story -- "Coby O' and the Pink Palace of Texas" -- was reading a post on a thread I follow from a 21 year old kid whose mother found some texts on his phone to another guy and realized he's gay. He posted some of the text messages she sent him...and they are chilling. That any parent could say things like that to their child -- not merely disowning him but calling him some of the foulest names possible and wishing horrible things on him. It was sickening. And proof of just how little things have changed.

I was luckier than that. I came out slowly and usually after members of my family had figured out I was gay, but I ran into some troubles, too. One branch confronted me and used the excuse they were afraid I had AIDS for it. I don't, but I don't think they believed me. This was close to 25 years ago, when lies and misinformation about the disease were rampant. There are still lies about it being spread by the right wing scum, but it's no longer the horror it was when there was little information to counter the hysteria.

I didn't see anyone from that side of the family until recently, but that stemmed more from me not bothering to keep in contact with them than anything else. I'd always seen myself as part of the family, with them, but that incident made me re-evaluate my relationship and see I'd been the one maintaining it. And when I stopped asking them for information on how things were going in their lives, they never volunteered the info...except when someone died, and then it was usually after the funeral so there was no chance I might show up out of respect.

But that wasn't really a rupture, not like what this kid went through. Mine was more of a "just letting go" and ending a pretense.

Anyway, "Coby O'..." goes through the same thing as that boy did -- being violently thrown out of his family's life and being told to stay away from his brothers. I'd thought I was going overboard on it when I wrote that section so put it aside. Guess I wasn't. And damn, doesn't that depress me?

Okay, I now has an ennui...which is short of has'ing a mood...or is it the other way around? I have to look into that.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Lazy bum

That's what I feel like, today. I slept till noon. Didn't get out to doing errands till 1:30...and only got half done. Just a total waste-oid. I did get a bit more done on IF, mainly rearranging some bits in the story in hopes of getting it closer to how it should be, but now I'm confused as to what's where. Not a good way to use the day.

I'll be doing good to finish the first draft by Christmas, at the rate I'm going.

I've been having some odd dreams dealing with moviemaking and bringing someone water, and for the first time in a while I feel as if I was in the dream to its end instead of jumping out of it when I awoke. That's an odd sensation...almost a sense of completion to it. I will say, I'm waking rested and in a decent humor. But since my job starts at 9am, it'd be hard for me to not be up by 8, during the I can't keep it up. Dammit.

I dunno, maybe my vampire pre-life is coming to the fore and I'm wanting to sleep all day to avoid the sun. It and I have never been friends. In fact, the damned thing's given me second degree sunburn more than a couple of times, once even right through my clothes. That was in Hawaii, where I got blisters on the tops of my feet and my back, even though I was wearing tennis shoes and a t-shirt.

Speaking of sun, I'm now looking forward to seeing my short story, "Desert Land", in a copy of "The Florida Review." No money for it; just publication. Which I'm surprised happened since it's such an intense, minimalist sort of story, very unlike my normal style of writing. I had a number of journals turn it down, and I felt it was probably too severe to work as a bit of fiction. I guess we'll see what the general reaction is to it.

Now I've got a friggin' headache. Came from being bent over my laptop while I was doing laundry; I know because it happens every time and I'm too dumb to change my habits to avoid it. I must be elderly, now. I say that because I read an interview with Chris Evans, who said he's getting old because his wrist aches and he gets pains in an arm or something, and I nearly screamed. He's 30 and in perfect shape. By his standards, I should already be in the grave, the gorgeous little shit.

Just for that, Chris, I'm gonna do a picture of you being tentacled (don't ask what that means; you don't want to know -- trust me).

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Slowly I turn...step by step...

Inch by inch...growing closer and closer to a  first draft of "Inherent Flaws". I broke through 58,000 words and found the motivation for Vinnie's partner being so violent in certain situations. Not gonna SAY it, of course, because Vinnie wouldn't understand it so how could he articulate it. But it'll be there.

Right now I've cleaned up to page 152 and have another 125 to go. Then I'll have to do one last restructure to make certain everything fits in the proper order. And I'm still debating about him cheating on his wife. It's human and real, but I don't know if the story has the space and balance for it.

I feel a lot better, today. I'd sort of been drifting in and out of zones until I left the clock alarm off and let myself sleep till I was ready to get up. Went to bed at 2am. Woke at nearly 1pm. I'm way too out of shape to handle this nonsense. That has got to change.

And now from something more from the city of Hong Kong...or not. I can't figure out how to share my desktop with my Mac Book, just vise verse. Irritating. But then again, I'm hardly a techie.

 This is Gloucester Avenue at evening rush hour.
The Exhibition Hall area, where the book fair was being held.
All the high-rises are decorated for Christmas, with some having bursting snowflakes and dancing neon going up 50 stories. Wild. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

No, no, no

Next week's packing job disintegrated so I'll be able to focus on IF some ways. I'd planned it out where I'd be on the train from NYC to Buffalo, again, so I'd have 8 hours of comfortable writing time. Oh, well. There's always the weekend.

I've been dancing around IF, since I got back from Hong Kong, unsure if I should do the restructuring before I'm done with inputting all the story or just plow through to the end and work it out from there. I'd have a better idea of what needs to go where, I think, but right now I feel I could easily be repeating myself and don't want to waste the effort on sections I'll wind up cutting because they're redundant.

And my brain is zoning, again. I don't remember having such trouble realigning myself with this time zone after traveling abroad, before. I'm trying to recall how I was after returning from Bangkok, and I was pretty wrecked after that, but I ascribed it to the nasty heat and humidity. Maybe it's just the 13 hour time change. Ireland and the UK are only 5 hours ahead of me, here, and even from LA the time difference was a mere 8 hours. I was usually back on my feet in a day. Of course, I was also more physically active at the time.

I guess I'm just getting old. I had an idea about a old man whose best friend just died, so he decides to take him on an adventure. It's set in Buffalo in the winter, and one of the old man's habits is to do the Friday Fish Fry at Wegman's and listen to live jazz in the dining area. Dunno what it means or where it's going...but it's cutting a bit close to the bone, right now.

Okay...just for the hell of kill this funk...
This is a FaceBook friend I'm thinking of making into a painting. The beginning mock-up to see how it might look...and already I'm not wild about the fence behind him. Dunno how it will turn out when (or i) I do it because I don't want to be as precise as the layout of these colors, but it's a happy pose.

I should work on this when I has an ennui.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Am I outdated?

I'm having trouble watching "The Big Bang Theory" online via Amazon's streaming setup, and I'm beginning to wonder if it's due to my computers being a few years old. When I try to watch on my Mac Mini, the video has little hiccups and the sound is out of sync. I had similar problems when I tried Netflix's streaming videos and just couldn't watch them. So I shifted back to my laptop.

I'd watched a couple of episodes at Newark on my laptop, and it had issues too, but only a couple of times. Mainly just stopping to reboot once each episode. So I tried it here, and it turns out to be less problematic than my laptop. It's still not perfect, but it works better. Maybe I should consider upgrading to at least OS 11. that Snow Leopard or Tiger? I never can get the names of these programs straight.

I will say, had I watched the first five episodes of TBBT, I wouldn't have kept with it. I chuckled a few times and did laugh a bit, but too many of the jokes were cliche based and geek bashing. Obviously the writing got a LOT better and the cast began to click as the show went along. And I can actually see the jokes growing more and more involved.

I had brain blankness and was only able to function at work because it was not too demanding. I zoned when I got home and took a nap, which zoned me more. Tomorrow I have to get back to working on IF. I want a first draft done that's readable. I can already tell that what I have now needs restructuring. It's supposed to take place over 3-4 years but my timeline is wonky.

I almost had another packing job in NYC but that sort of self-destructed. Now I'm set to fly into LA on February 9th and work the book fair in Pasadena, then head home the 13th. Be good to see some friends, again.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I think I'm hooked

I watched 6 episodes of "The Big Bang Theory" on my flight home...along with "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner?" (60s liberalism at its most cloying), "The French Connection" (all the depth of a puddle of water), "All About Steve" (I now agree Bradley Cooper is the sexiest man alive and still love Sandra Bullock, but what a stupid movie), part of "Anatomy of a Murder" (see it and it's still boring), "The Last King of Scotland" (ugly, just ugly) and "Quantum of Solace" (seen it and still prefer "Bourne"), and episodes of "Castle", "Body of Evidence" (meh), "Bones" (I don't get this one), "Psych" (trying WAY too hard) and something else, I think...all in order to drown out that obnoxious baby. And the only one I fully, completely, and totally enjoyed was "TBBT".

It's a rare comedy that can educate you as well as it tickles your funny bone. I remember seeing the first episode way back when the show began and thought it was going to go for the typical dumb jokes directed at nerds. And having the requisite dumb, beautiful but sweet blond thrown in actually helped me decide not to watch it, again. Well, I was wrong to do that.

The show's jokes are brilliant, and I actually laughed when the soundtrack laughed. Sheldon's relationship with Leonard is so much like two vaguely competitive brothers, I cared about both of them...even though Sheldon really is an arrogant, prickly little shit. With Raj and Howard to round out the quartet, this seemed too much like a group of people I actually knew in Houston.

What's even better is, I saw an episode that is fairly recent and has the dumb blond being friends with a couple of female geniuses, one of whom is played by Mayim Bialik, who was "Blossom" and played Bette Midler as a child in "Beaches"! Her deadpan delivery of some very cutting but appallingly frank lines is priceless. I bought the Amazon download of the first season and will watch it from beginning to end (it's cheaper than Netflix and a lot quicker, too).

I didn't get home till after midnight, last night; my plane from Newark was an hour late. And just to add to my bitching about that damned airport -- at 8:15 (an hour prior to my planned departure), I went to grab a DP and set up downstairs where the gate is located. (The flight's a 38 seat puddle jumper so you go outside, in the rain, drop off your bag for gate-check because it's too big for the overhead bin, and climb the steps into a cabin you cannot stand upright in.) Well, I pass by the "Departures" screen...and just happen to notice that the one flight to Buffalo that's listed there is saying, "Departed." And it was my flight number.

Well...I'd be lying if I didn't say I freaked out and did a screeching u-turn and ran straight to the gate (since no one else was around to talk to with United), wondering if I'd have to take an overnight train to get home (not something I wanted to do because I was really feeling the need for a bath after that stuffy 777) and why wasn't there an announcement in the airport and howling curses in my mind. That's where I learned it was an error on the airport's part, and that my plane wasn't even on its way to pick us up, yet. And they never corrected it on the main screens.

It is now my goal in life to avoid Newark forever.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Newark's Airport Is The Pits!

I can see why people don't like coming here. It's very disorganized and not at all people friendly. But then, United/Continental is not the most user-friendly airline out there. The plugs under my row of seats for the 777 from Hong Kong to Newark did not work. I heard other passengers complaining about that, too, as we disembarked. And there was a noisy baby -- sometimes happy, sometimes bawling -- the whole 14 hours, while the crew did as little as they could to deal with it. I wound up watching half the movies and a number of TV shows offered on the flight just to drown out the brat's noise. The food was "meh," and was all but tossed at us as the crew whipped by pushing their tall, narrow carts, and you do not have the option to direct AC at you on those planes, like you do on 737s, so it can get stuffy in there.

Air travel is definitely not the joy it used to be.

But Newark takes the cake. It's old, ratty-looking, uncomfortable, and you have to pay for WiFi while I'd get it free at JetBlue in JFK. Plus there is no way for you to connect to another terminal except by Air Train unless you completely leave the terminal. Then you have to go through security, again.

I'm stuck here till 9:15 and am not happy about that. I wish I'd been able to take Cathay out of Toronto. Direct flight both ways.

Damn, I'm tired. I must be repeating myself. Maybe I'll try and take a short nap.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Hong Kong Airport

There's just one word for this place -- big. Nicely planned out...but my gate is literally a mile from the checkin counter. I have to take a train to get there. I got a glimpse of that when I took the cable car up to the big Buddha in Ngong Pin.
I took a photo but it was so hazy it didn't come out very good, so I'll play with it in photoshop. But you can see the beginning of it to the left in this photo. Until then...this is the second leg of the journey up to the Buddha. rising maybe 700 feet up a hillside and supported by nothing but that cable. They offer a car with a glass bottom so you can look straight down, but it was $100HK extra so I used that as my excuse not to travel that way.

This was actually an interesting journey, once you got past all the gift shops for tourists. There are about 250 steps up to the Buddha, and I climbed them. Hell, I climbed Arthur's Seat and that was up 200 meters above Edinburgh, so I figured I could do this. I only had to stop to let my weary legs catch up to me four times (my lungs used that as their excuse for me to stop).

I saw the gold reclining Buddha in Bangkok and that was impressive, but it seemed a bit cheesy. This one seemed just right, for some reason -- on top of the mountain with a spectacular view, a hazy day keeping the sun's heat off, and various people standing at respectful distances, silently praying.

I'm not sorry to be heading home, not like I was when I visited Ireland or Berlin, but it turned out to be a decent trip. At least now I can say I've been here...and I honestly have no need to return except for business.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

More impressions

This is from The Peak. You take a funicular cable car up a 45 degree slope for five minutes then ride up a series of 6 escalators, the last of which costs an additional $28 HK to reach the very tip-top...and now I know where they take those famous photos of the city. That was yesterday.

Today…I hopped a ferry to Kowloon to see about getting my name on a chop (a seal that has “Kyle” in Chinese characters carved into it). The concierge said The Jade Market might be a good place to look. But that area so reminded me of Bangkok with its traffic and crowds and people hawking everything and almost getting mauled in the Market to get me to buy something (albeit with none of the heat and humidity), I left within an hour and caught the metro back. Then I hopped an express bus to Stanley and got it done there on a deep blue stone polished to perfection with a soft white streak down one side. Cost me $25 US, but I like it. Now I just have to remember which end is up when I use it.

I’ve seen enough of Hong Kong. Parts of it are amazingly beautiful while parts are hideous. There really are some breathtaking skyscrapers, while so many other buildings just bring out a WTF reaction. The place is fairly clean -- the Metro was phenomenally so -- but I’ve seen areas that are trashed up, and don’t get me started on the narrow little alleyways. As for the people, I've decided they have this passive-aggressive sort of politeness going on. If you’re talking to them, they’re normally very an extent;  but man, if you’re in their way, they will shove you aside. And nothing, nothing, nothing is free.

As for the traffic -- it’s like this insane version of "chicken" when cars or busses or trucks need to change lanes or merge. I stood on the first floor walkway (our 2nd floor) of the China Resources Building, Thursday evening, and watched the ebb and flow along Gloucester Road of remarkably undamaged vehicles as taxis, vans and sedans zipped off a cross road to force their way into the backup. It was almost like ballet…no, Martha Graham style dancing is more like it. Very impressionistic.

It was a bright sunny day and a bit on the warm side, and even though I was using sun block, I still got pinked up around the nose and cheeks, and my brain (what little I have) got baked more than I expected. The bus back from Stanley stops in front of my hotel so I hopped off, sat in a nice hot tub for half an hour and took a nap, so now I’ll be up late.

Am I sorry I came? Not really. It actually sort of met my expectations as a place I’d like to see but not stay at for very long. Unfortunately, it’s also made me less interested in visiting Tokyo, and for sure no-place else in the Western Pacific Rim even begins to attract me.

Just call me Euro-centric.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


I’ve never seen so many Rolls Royces outside of LA or London as I have in Hong Kong. A lot of Jags and Mercedes, as well, along with Maseratis and Lamborginis.  Traffic is as bad as LA in rush hour and the people are non-stop. Talk about a 24 hour city, whooh.

Their skyscrapers look like they’re out of “Blade Runner” or Times Square and some are amazingly ugly. But then, so are some of the cars, with their cheap-assed super-chrome front ends. And nothing’s free in this town if they can help it. Wifi at my hotel is about $5 for an hour.

My plane trip wasn’t bad. I had an aisle seat at the back of the plane, but they de-load you fast. It took less time to empty a 777 than it does to get everyone out of a Southwest 737. The food was meh, but I had so much space to play with, it was worth it. If the woman beside me hadn’t been so restless and flumpy, it would’ve been perfect.

Move-in’s all done at the book fair and everyone’s happy. I’m dropping by shortly to make double sure then doing the tourist thing, I guess. Then comes Sunday evening, when all hell will break loose because they aren’t allowing anywhere near enough time for the dealers to pack and get their stuff out. That does not look pretty.

Oh, and I thought I'd found a good steak place by the convention center, but I made a major error -- I ordered a Chilean Sea Bass. Never order surf at a turf shop; they won’t know how to make it edible. And it cost WAY too much. I'm stuck with Mickey D's from now on, to keep on budget.