Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Lion is not easy

The first thing I noticed about using Lion OS is how I have to reverse my scrolling...meaning, if I want to scroll down a page, I have to make the cursor go down whereas I used to make it go up. And it's taking me forever to get used to that. I'll try to go down a page and nothing will happen till I remember I now need to flip my plan of action. It's irritating.

Turned out the PhotoShop I thought I had to install on my laptop is for PCs. So I only have that and Word available on my desktop. Meaning until I get my butt in gear and buy Office for Mac, I can't do any writing on the road. Well, maybe in TXT files. They're awkward but doable, I guess. I'll have to check into that.

I'm dancing around writing a chapter between Jake and his mother because I don't know how to get into it, yet. I don't know who she is, yet, except for the snippets from the previous books. But one reason he winds up in the middle of the mystery is because she called his father, her ex-husband, and no one knows why. Jake finds out because his step-mother finds out and wonders if the call was about him. then he gets a cryptic message from his Uncle Owen and it begins.

I almost wonder if I'm taking too long to get into the story by doing it this way, but the flow feels right and I hate to change anything until I have to. Maybe I'll let it sit till I'm done with one last go-over on IF. I got a bit of push-back in response to my unhappiness about being rewritten, but I said flat out that I'd do one last pass on it and that was it. And if I was to send it out to publishers, that was the version that was going.

But now it seems there have been significant changes to aspects of the story, and he's saying he did it because it didn't work within the reality of the times and places. Now I'm in a wary spot...and half of me wants to say, "Fine. Take it and good luck." But the other half says, "You did a shitload of work on this story and it'd be a shame to waste it." So I guess I'll do that polish and make it work and this is the last time I'm doing anything along these lines.

From now on, if you wanna fuck me, you gotta buy me dinner and movie, first.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

(Big sigh here)

I. Give. Up. Amazon's filled with liars. Barnes & Noble is filled with idiots. Kobo is filled with shit. I have now worked with two different publishers on my books and neither one of them pays attention to me. And that's when dealing with people who make money off me. Not a lot, but some.

My new bank is totally screwed up and won't let me access my account online. My health and car insurance companies only want to up my premiums and return nothing, if they can help it. Packing jobs that say one thing suddenly require you do way more with no change in time allotment.

On top of it all, a guy I'm doing a favor for by writing his life story into not only a screenplay but also a book sees no problem with reworking what I've written, even though he hasn't got a clue concerning simple punctuation or sentence structure.

Okay...this can't be the way the world is supposed to work. It must be something in me. Maybe I'm just too much of a wuss. Maybe in my concern that I'll become an asshole, I've become someone who can be spat upon. I hate confrontations. I've been in a total of five actual fights in my life and lost every one of them, so I'm loathe to lose another. Maybe I'm just a coward who lives a full life through the characters he puts on a page and who whines into his imagination while letting the world fuck him over.

I dunno. I'm just sick of having to fight. I'm sick of having to deal with people who don't give a damn about me and think I don't know that they don't.

Hell, I'm just sick, period. I've got a weird throat going on and I've been ravenous, which is usually a warning sign that I'm getting a cold. Meaning I'll turn into a Tasmanian Devil for a while. Grr, snap, snarl, yowl, argh as I spin around in a vicious cloud of dust.

Hell with it. Kitty wants some catnip and a cat nap. Screw the world.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

OT rocks along

I have the opening done on "The Vanishing of Owen Taylor" and most of the ending. Now I just need to fill in the mystery part, which is going to be fun. Jake's taking to being a detective like a duck takes to water. And his bullshit detector is already in full swing. He's used it against his stepmother in Paris to learn his blood mother called his father and no one knows why.

What interesting so far is how Jake views Antony. It's a bit paternalistic...but also loving with a touch of awe-struck. And it turns out the only reason he didn't kill Rattler at the end of RIHC6v2 was thanks to Matt, which is something Antony doesn't know about...and which I didn't realize until it was written down.

Man, we are gonna have such a blast pulling this thing together.

I got a CD in the mail, today, that's supposed to help me find grants and fellowships for writing. It's also supposed to help me fill out the paperwork in a way that makes everything come together. I'd done this before, years ago...while I was trying to get things going in LA just after Heritage Book Shop closed...but I never got anywhere. I really suck at writing proposals and begging letters. Maybe this will illuminate my weaknesses and expand upon my strengths.

I'm doing this for "Place of Safety." It's a long-term process, but if I can get backing from a foundation to go do research for a year in NI, I can get POS done and out there. I'm beginning to think half the reason I've backed away from film, lately, is I know if I get wrapped up in that, again, I'll postpone POS indefinitely. So unless I can sell a script and run with the cash, I'm leery of diving back much as I would really love to. It's where my dreams are.

So what I'm trying to do with my  writing is build an image in the reader's mind of what's happening, like in a film. Maybe that's the wrong approach. Maybe I'm fooling myself about it. But that's the goal when I rework my writing. And thinking about it, I've had a hard time doing that with IF because it doesn't spring from within on me; it's all external. Hm...guess I've found another limitation of mine.

And Jake just laughed and shook his head like I'm a moron. Which I guess I am. A lazy one.

But wild and crazy, sometimes.

Monday, May 28, 2012


A bit later in the same chapter.


I was taken next-door and handcuffed to a table by one hand, using the old-fashioned kind. There was no other furniture in the room so I had to sit on it, and it wasn’t easy to find a non-painful way to do it. Meaning, no way in hell was I ever getting down till I was ready to leave that room.

Half an hour later, an old man in a white coat showed up, snapping, “Lay back on the table.” I did and he set his medical box on the floor so he could examine me. He had long silver hair, weary eyes, more wrinkles than a Shar-Pei, and hands that knew exactly what they were doing. He raised my shirt to check the bruising lower on my side and said in a distracted mutter, “Nothin’ broke. Prob’ly just bruised. Gonna hurt for a while.” Then he sighed. “Who did it?”

“Does it matter?” I asked. “You won’t do anything to the prick, anyway.”

He eyed me, and I saw a hint of respect. “I hear you’re Danish.” I nodded. He nodded back and said, “Good people,” as he dug into his bag. Then he offered me four Tylenol.

The guard the bailiff had assigned stepped forward, saying, “I don’t think you can -- .”

“Aw, shut the fuck up,” the medic snapped at him.

He stepped back. Silently.

I liked this medic. I smiled and swallowed the pills, dry. It wasn’t easy.

The medic shot me a glance of apology, saying, “Left my coffee at the clinic.”

“Thanks,” I said.

“Don’t move if you don’t have to,” he said. “No heavy liftin’ for a while. And I sure hope that ain’t the side you sleep on.”

“I’ll live, Dr...?”

He grinned and said, “Sandoval.” Then he walked.

The Tylenol worked well enough to let me doze on top the table...for about five seconds. Then Ms. Ginty rushed in with a couple of other uniforms.

“Un-cuff him,” she said, a bit breathless. As the bailiff’s guard did, she added, “Mr. Blaine, will you come with us?”

“I got a choice?” I asked, glancing between the two cops, just to be mean.

“Please,” she said. “The District Attorney wants to see you in his office.”

I carefully slipped off the table, still playing up my achiness, a little, and motioned for her to lead the way.

When she said District Attorney, I’d thought we’d be going somewhere in the city. Instead, we drove sixty miles to an office building next to the Riverside County Courthouse, by which time I was about ready to roll down a window and piss out the side of the car if I didn’t get to a bathroom. At least they were polite enough to let me use the loo and wash my face; now all I needed was a gallon of water, a six-course breakfast, and some gum to handle my breath. I had to make do with a package of peanut M&Ms, which the receptionist was kind enough to spring for since my wallet was still back at the jail and Ms. Ginty was ignoring my request to borrow the money from her.

Now this building was dressed to impress. All Pink granite and dark windows. Polished marble floors detailed in gold. Walls holding artwork of the industrial sort. All very cold and mean. We rode up a super-fast, super quiet elevator to the fifth floor then marched straight into an office that reeked of Mahogany and thick carpet. Seated behind a desk that was perfectly positioned before the one and only window (and framed by velvet drapes, of course) was a man who fit the TV profile of a strong DA way too perfectly. His profile was sharp and clean. His salt and pepper hair was cut as perfectly as his suit. His nails were bright and polished. His smile was so calm, cool, and condescending, I’d have sworn I saw him on some version of “Law & Order”...and may have, considering this was Southern California.

Seated in a plush chair in front of the desk was his near twin in looks and attitude, just with a windbreaker tossed over a Polo shirt, tan slacks, and deck shoes on his feet. He rose and offered a hand that actually had light calluses on it.

“Mr. Blaine?” he asked in a voice that had really been trained right. “My name is Gregory den Voot, with the Royal Danish Consulate. I apologize for the manner of my dress; I received the call this morning, as I was about to tee off, and came straight here. Are you well?”

“As well as I can be,” I said.

He nodded. “Yes. Well, I am here to represent the interests of His Majesty, whose interest is in making certain his citizens are cared for.” He turned to the guy behind the desk, who hadn’t moved. “This is Warren Philby, the District Attorney.”

Something about the viciously polite tone in den Voot’s voice made Philby rise to his feet and offer a hand. “Mr. Blaine. Will you have a seat?”

I carefully settled into the other chair before the desk, beginning to enjoy this. Den Voot sat after me, as did Philby.

“We were about to have some coffee?” den Voot directed at Philby, who just barely tensed.

“Yes,” he said, his voice under serious control. “Mr. Blaine, would you like something?”

I let my voice crack as I said, “Water, please.”

“Of course,” said den Voot. “Coffee, please. Black.”

Philby nodded and looked at Ms. Ginty, saying, “Would you?”

I could almost hear her stiffen up behind me as she said, “Sir...”

The look he cast her would have killed an elephant from a thousand yards, if it’d been a bullet. I heard her breathe in and leave. He softened his glare and turned it on me.

“I want to apologize for the misunderstanding about your arrest, Mr. Blaine,” he said. “The officers went a bit far -- .”

“A bit far?” den Voot asked, his voice silky but sharp as a knife, even under this charming smile. “And I thought the British owned the power of understatement.”

Sunday, May 27, 2012

More of OT

I figure this is about midway into the story, after Jake's learned something he didn't want to know.


I pulled out my cell phone and quickly dialed Tone’s number, hoping to God he’d be in one of his moods and wouldn’t answer, then I stopped on Magdalena. The cop pulled up behind me, his lights still flashing, his headlights on high and blasting straight into my mirrors. He got out and started for me, but I couldn’t really make out what he looked like. Then I noticed another cop exiting the passenger side. Okay...that meant more than just a traffic stop.

Fine. I can be Joe Cool, when I need to.

Of course, that’s when Sola Rosa’s “Humanise” stared on the stereo. I almost chuckled at how obvious it was.

The cop on the driver’s side walked up to me, carefully, his hand sort of twitching to go for his pistol. I did not move. He stopped by the back door, so I had to twist around to even see a little of him.

“Driver’s license and registration.”

“It’s a rental,” I said.

“Rental agreement.”

I nodded and very carefully pulled my Texas driver’s license from my wallet; I’d yanked that from my pocket the second the lights had appeared in my rear-view mirror. And for the one and hopefully only time in my life, I was glad I hadn’t had a chance to shift to a Danish license, yet. I handed it over, saying, “The agreement’s in the glove compartment. Is it okay if I get it?”

“No,” was the gruff reply. “Unlock the doors. Hey, Rob, come get the rental agreement from this guy’s glove box.”

In case he’s got a gun? What bullshit. I heard him walk over and open the door.

I kept looking forward as I said, “I don’t understand; what’s the problem?”

“You ran a stop sign, back there.”

Which was bullshit. There’d been nothing but traffic signals since I’d left Connie’s office. But I didn’t argue. Just let him give me the ticket and I’d fight it in court, if that was his intent.

“Shit, Rob, this fag’s from Texas.”

Okay...that was NOT his intent. This wasn’t gonna be a nice event, because the only way he’d say something like that is if his mike and the camera in the patrol car were off. Why the fuck’re cops like that? Always having to show just how fucking stupid they are?

“Rented the car at LAX,” said Rob, his voice hard and snotty. Now I didn’t need to see him to know he was an asshole.

“What’s a cocksucker like you doin’ in California?”

I relaxed. This was going to be easy. “I came to see my uncle.”

“No shit? How much is he paying you?”

“Must be a cheap fuck,” Rob sneered. “Couldn’t he spring for a decent ride?”

I smiled. “Wow, Rob, you must be the cop he talked about.”

“What the fuck’re you talking about, bitch?” Rob was not happy.

“Hey, dude,” I said, still not moving. “You can supplement your income any way you want; I don’t care. If you got it, use it.”

The cop behind me suddenly yanked the door out and screeched, “Get out! Out and on the ground, face down! Right now! Now!”

I started to do it when he grabbed me and slung me to the asphalt. I grabbed his belt and he came down with me, slamming his face against the edge of the door. By the time Rob’d scrambled around from the other side of the car, his pistol out, I was lying flat, my hands and legs stretched out, not moving an inch.

“What the fuck, Chet!?!” was all he could think to say.

“The fucker grabbed me,” Chet snarled.

“What’re you talking about?” I yelled, trying to add some fear to my voice. “I got out of the car and you yanked at me, then you slipped. Shit, is it my fault you can’t stand up straight?”

“Motherfucking cocksuking faggot son-of-a-bitch!” Chet bolted to his feet and kicked me in the side.

It hurt, but I really played it up with a scream and howl and cry of, “What’re you doing?! What’d I do?!”

“I’m gonna cut your fuckin’ balls off, motherfucker!”

He kicked me, again, and I coughed and choked, and didn’t need to play that one up, at all. I think he cracked a rib. He was about to kick me again, and this time I knew I’d have to fight back or stand for a nasty beating, but Rob jumped over me and shoved Chet back.

“Hey, hey, HEY!” Rob growled.

“What the fuck -- ?!” Then his voice cut off. I heard some rustling behind me, then my phone was shoved in front of my face and Chet was growling, “You were on the phone?” I let all the fake crap leave my voice and I growled, “To my boyfriend. Got his answering machine. This is gonna be some message he finds. Officer Chet.”

Regenerating seems sleeping until 11:30 in the morning, having a cup of hot tea, taking a trip to the post office to get my mail and getting copies of my newest book, then a nice burger with fries and a DP helped set me on the road to normalcy, again. I still took a nap, late in the afternoon, and then spent the evening finishing that mystery and also a re-read of RIHC6v2, and now I'm back to my usual snarly self.

The mystery wasn't so great. In fact, it was very disappointing. It wasn't just that Stevenson's style was bland and his focus on gay life in Albany, NY in 1979 seemed more like someone who'd researched the period and wanted to show off how much he'd learned than someone who'd lived it (the book was first published in 1981); it was just...sloppy. Especially the ending. The killer comes out of left field. The explanation tries to tie in anti-gay therapy of the time (which included institutionalization and shock treatments) but makes it sound untrue. A sub-plot is tied up in the least of ways. And there's this long, LONG description of accused's existence as a young gay man just after the Stonewall riots that so bored me, I had to force myself to finish...which I did in the bathroom while doing some business, if you know what I mean.

Needless to say, I like my writing better. And you have my permission to hear a hint of arrogance behind that comment.

I've also gotten into another back and forth with Amazon. The copies of LD that I got, I'd bought for myself from them on May 17th. I got a sales report that's supposed to go through may 20th, and they reported no sales. I asked them about it. You know what their line is, now? "BookScan (the group that supplies them with reports of book sales) only reports on maybe 75% of actual sales, so mine may never be reported." That's a new one. Seems they like to adjust their explanations for underreporting sales from one complaint to the next.

I suppose it's possible the sales hadn't permeated into BookScan's system, yet, so I'll give them to the next week's sales report. But I find it interesting that even Paul Krugman, who's a Nobel-winning economist, thinks that Amazon's rankings are matched with actual sales, something the company has SWORN to me is not true (he mentioned it when discussing his new book on his blog). But if even he's being fooled by this set-up, maybe they need to come up with something that better reflects people's perceptions...or just come clean as to how they're really making their profits.

I doubt they will. The US has turned into a nation of people who seem to think, "If you can get away with it, more power to you." That's one reason why we wound up with so many lying jackasses elected to office.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Trip That Keeps On Giving

As one last spit in the face, my flight home has been delayed by 2 hours. I just spent 10 solid hours packing books, no lunch, to get done and broke my back to get to the airport in time, all for nothing. I was so bummed, I wasn't even in the mood for a decent meal, so I got some veggie soup and got online and decided to just roll with it, again. It's irritating, but the whole damn trip has been.

Still, I got both packing jobs done and everyone seems happy, even though it was practically slave labor. One big positive is, I'm not going in Monday. Man, I need all three days of this weekend.

Got nothing else.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

I know what not to do

I'm reading a mystery with a gay detective, "Death Trick" by Richard Stevenson, and it's a slog. It's not bad, but it was written 30 years ago and has not aged well. It's set in Albany, NY instead of NYC or SF so people are more circumspect about being open about their sexual the extent it winds up feeling like no one has much of a life beyond the bars. Of course, things were a lot different, back then. This was pre-AIDS and before ACT-UP and politics entered the fray to the huge extent that they did. But I had more going on than just going out clubbing, every night.

The problem with this book is, it's boring. I don't care about the characters. They're like something out of an Agatha Christie mystery, where the riddle is the thing, not the various people involved. Same for Earl Stanley Gardner. Their detectives are interesting because they ARE given more then just momentary quirks and a life outside of the book, but for everyone else, it's one description and a name, and the rest is the question mark.

There is one aspect of the book that's got at least my curiosity piqued -- the guy the police suspect of committing the murder apparently was institutionalized by his parents in hopes they could "cure" him of being gay...though that's been only hinted at, so far. Maybe that will be developed more deeply. But as it currently stands, it's a very bland representation of the times.

I mainly think this reflects on the writer, because Tolstoy wrote "War & Peace" and "Anna Karenina" nearly a hundred years earlier and all of his characters have worlds unto themselves. So I can't say that writing has become more involved, since the early 80s, nor can I say there was too deep of censorship of gay novels, because Patricia Nell Warren's "The Front Runner" was beautifully done. It's just...careful and uninvolving.

I'm still going to finish it, just to see if it gets better...and if it fits into what I already think happened. But now I know what more OT needs and why it's pushing to be so much bigger. The mystery may be the thing of the story, but the heart is in the characters and the lives they live, both before and after the book is done.

As for NYC, I'll be getting a grand send-off, tomorrow, to cap this trip. I've got so much packing to do, I may not be able to finish since I'll have close to 10 hours worth of work to do and my plane leaves at 9:10 pm. But we'll see what happens.

Moral of the story? Never, never, never tempt the fates with anything they might find fun to screw around with, because they will do it.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Don't ever say it

I made the mistake of thinking I was getting used to dealing with NY and was no longer intimidated by the city, not like I was when I was here 30+ years ago. Because today's trip down was the worst. First, JetBlue sat us all on the plane...then let us sit there and sit there and sit there as they tried to fix a technical problem with one of the on-board computers. After an hour, they began handing out water.

We finally took off an hour and a half late, had a nice flight but bumpy landing, and by the time we were on the ground, it was 7:30 and I was starving. I grabbed a slice of pizza and headed for the baggage carrousels to get my bag...and the escalators weren't working going down. Either one of them. I had to walk down them, balancing my pizza, a DP and my way-too-heavy shoulder bag.

I got my bag (I have to check it because it has knives and packing materials in it)...and ran into another non-working escalator, going up. I took the elevator. Hopped the SkyTrain and made Jamaica Station, got let through the emergency exit with my big bag both going onto the subway and getting off (very nice), but then I got to my hotel and the door wouldn't open. The safety latch had caught inside the room. Seems if the door closes too sharply, the latch will swing around and hook itself up to the corresponding knob. And the hotel's booked solid, so the clerk had to open it up.

I now know how to get into a hotel room despite the safety latch being on. NOT something I wanted to know could even happen.

So now I've got a nasty tension headache...mixed with a hunger one since I took so long to get food...and I've learned never to diss the fates. They will fuck with you so much, you wonder if you're just supposed to turn around and go home.

I did get more on OT done while waiting. I'm still a bit too pissed off about what happened with IF to face it, yet. As usual, OT's working out to be more involved and expansionary than I'd initially planned. Part of it stems from an article/review I read in an old copy of "The NY Review of Books" about a rape case from 1948.

Seems some Delaware cops committed perjury in order to get a conviction against three men accused of raping a woman. There was an internal investigation by the department that determined the cops had lied, but nothing was done to them, so far as I can tell; I may need to read the book to find out. The appeals went all the way to the Supreme Court, with state courts insisting the cops' lying made no difference while the federal courts said, "Not so fast!" The Supremes let the lower court ruling dismissing the guilty verdict stand, so the state, in all its pissiness, huffed and puffed and said they just wouldn't try the men, again.

What makes this important is, rape was a capital offense in Delaware at the time. And the jury's verdict could have meant they'd have been executed, had not the defense attorney polled the jury and found out that three or four of them recommended mercy, something the foreman did not mention when he gave his verdict. That's why they weren't sentenced to death; a mercy recommendation even from a couple of jurors ends the threat of execution, as I understand it. Had the attorney not done the polling, they could easily have been killed and only exonerated after it was too late.

This ties into a case in Texas, where it now appears the state has executed two innocent men, not one. Todd Cullingham is pretty much viewed as the known innocent murdered by the state; now it turns out Texas executed the wrong man for a crime, ten years earlier. Carlos DeLuna was put to death for a murder committed by Carlos Hernandez. When DeLuna told them he had seen Hernandez fighting with the victim, the prosecution ridiculed his story as made up and claimed Hernandez did not exist. Problem is, Hernandez was a convicted felon out on parole who was a suspect in another murder that was very similar to the one DeLuna was accused of. But on the witness stand, the police lied and said they'd never heard of the man...even though they questioned him about both murders. And the DA knew about it.

Once again we have proof. Cops lie. Prosecutors withhold evidence. Juries vote with their prejudices. And when it's revealed innocent people have been killed, "christians" shrug.

Oh, and just to be clear -- the three men convicted of the rape in Delaware were white. If they'd been black, they'd be dead.

I think I know where OT is going, now. Not just the mystery but the story as a whole. However, I'm gonna find a way to add some humor to it. Bleak can get boring and kill your point. And I NEVER want my writing to be accused of being boring.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


I was going through the most recent notes on "Inherent Flaws" and not remembering some of the things  in there -- the way I'd phrased parts of the story, actions, orders of appearance. It was driving me nuts, thinking I'd slapped through the last version, so I pulled it up and compared what I sent to the guy I'm writing this for and what he'd sent back. And he changed my style.

He fucking changed my writing style.

Now I know I'm not that tight with this story. Vinnie's his character, really -- based on him -- not mine. His experiences are different from my own, still I used what he told me and worked with it and made it as good as I could. But while it's one thing to point out errors and omissions and typos and missing words and where things don't make sense, it's something totally else when you just rewrite the way I've written it. That pisses me off.

You don't like my writing? Fine. I may not agree with your choices, but they are your choices to make, not mine. Hell, I've read books that have won Pulitzer Prizes and writers who've won a Nobel and wondered, Why? I lost a friend once because I didn't love a book she'd fact, I couldn't even finish it...and she took it as a personal affront. I've never done that to anyone -- dissed them over their preferences.

Granted, there are movies I think are brilliant that others think are just okay, and I've sometimes used that as a gauge to determine if I will take that person's recommendations on anything in the arts. And I've gotten into arguments over the merits of a movie, or lack thereof. We all have a little of that in us. But I recognize it's all personal taste, like in fine art. I would not dream of redoing a Jackson Pollack (even though I think he's overrated) into something by Willem de Kooning (whom I think is more interesting). Some people prefer the former to the latter, and it's not my place to force them to see things my way.

So why would anyone..ANYone think it's okay to do that to me? Shit.

All I'm going to do now is edit this piece. Clean up the grammar and correct any errors I find that were of my making. And that will be that. I'm done with it. And the only reason he's going to get that much is because he didn't mess with one of my personal works. If he'd rewritten LD or BC, I'd have cut him off.

I've grown an inner lion when it comes to my work, backed up by a dragon; you don't be messin' with either one, trust me.

Monday, May 21, 2012


My bank officially changed hands and this was the first day I could go online to reset my automatic deductions and make sure I had everything I was supposed to have. So far, so good...but I'm brain numbed.

I watched DWtS to get a break from it and still think Mark Ballas is more interesting than William Levy...but I'll bet I know who "People Magazine" picks for "Sexiest Man Alive" next year. When he's dancing, Levy's sex personified; it's when he's just walking around that he comes across as a lunk, whereas Mark is like a happy puppy even when training with his partner. He has a music video out, as well; I saw it when I had dinner at Elmwood Taco Stand near the office. But this evening, I had more fun watching him...and I also did a bit of ironing, so I wasn't just sitting there.

Looks like I'll have yet another packing job on NYC at the end of June. Still waiting to hear about that.

It was warm, last night and today. That sultry, still kind of heat like you get in Houston just before a rain...and sure enough, this afternoon just as I was about to leave, it rained. I thought this area was supposed to be closer to the arctic than sub-tropical, but this winter was the mildest they've had in decades, so I must've brought some of the Texas heat with me.

OT is moving forward, but I'm going to put it on hold till I finish the polish of IF. I got the changes and just want to clean up the grammar and flow a bit. Then it's going to start making the rounds of crime publishers.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sherlock and Moriarty

Not crazy about the BBC's take on the Sherlock Holmes tale, "The Adventure of the Final Problem". That's the book where Sherlock and Moriarty tumble into the Reichenbach Falls and Sherlock dies. I was running with it until the last twenty minutes...and liked some of the twists it took in making everything modern day...but then it fell apart and Sherlock became dumb. NOT appropriate for him. Too bad; "A Scandal in Belgravia" (their take on "A Scandal in Bohemia") was so promising. was fun and stylish and inventive in many ways.

I worked more on OT and almost have the ending done. Which would be great if I had the rest of the book written, but I only have snips and snaps of it. I now need to make everything lead up to the Jake's conclusions and make it work for the reader. All while still in Jake's voice and attitude. I've noticed a tendency on my part to use phrases better suited to Antony and his superiority complex.

RIHC6 should really be one book, not 2 volumes. It's a quick read, and I'm not even a speed reader. I have to admit, it amazes me that this story came together like it did. I didn't do any plotting out or planning on it except in the most abstract sense. It was Antony's doing that brought sense to it.

Tomorrow night is the finale of "Dancing With the Stars" and there are no reruns of "Castle", anymore, so I should be able to focus all week on the book...except for yet another packing job in NYC. How long that job takes depends on an appointment I need to make to pick up the books. I'm slated to fly home Friday night.

Looking back over the last 12 months, I've been to NYC damn close to once a month. No wonder I'm beginning to get used to the city.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Rereading and pimping

Pimping -- "The Lyons' Den" is now available in paperback on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble!

Re-reading both volumes of "Rape In Holding Cell 6" to remind myself of aspects of Antony's and Jake's relationship and history...and seeing SO many things I'd like to re-write. But I refuse to be one of those twits who's always "refining" his work according to his abilities now. These books are documents of how I used to write -- loose and easy and a bit slooppy but very chatty.

I still have some of that in LD, but I'm finding Jake's voice is more controlled and careful. He's been hurt and doesn't want to get into that position, again...even though Antony's hardly a steady companion. But he let me know, the reason he hangs on to "Tone" is, he's granite. Once he settles into something, you cannot move him short of using dynamite. And now that his history is settled, his total focus is on Jake and backing him up, and he will dive into a lake of fire to protect his man. And Jake would do the same for him.

Apparently, Jake's Uncle Owen was the only other one in his life to offer that kind of support. That's why Jake gets into this mess with the man's disappearance; his uncle backed him up so he can't just walk away. But by doing this, he's opening up a whole new world and only the fates know where it will take him and Tone...and Matt, since he's part of their semi-family, now.

As I get back to the story, I find my recent moods and pissiness are diminishing. Damn, I guess I was doing the writer's version of the DTs...but rather than complete my detoxification I dove back into the pool and am now doing laps in the beauty of just letting the words flow around me.

I be writer junkie.

Friday, May 18, 2012

It's Friday...

This is the perfect ending to the week -- "His Girl Friday", which shows how little the world, and world of journalism, has changed. It's the whole movie, and just listen to the back and forth between Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Today's supposed to be the day my book, "The Lyons' Den", officially goes on sale, but it's not up on Amazon in paperback or on Barnes and Noble at all.  Hell, it's not even on the publisher's website. I found another site that offers electronic downloads of books -- -- and it is on there, but it's posted as "adult fiction", which is kind of insulting. There's less sex in it than in a Jackie Collins novel, but hers are listed as general fiction. I'm already after them about that.

I'm also trying to find out from my publisher what the latest scoop is, but I don't expect to hear back from them till tomorrow evening.

On top of this, I now have some evidence that Amazon underreports sales. I finally got a sales report from the publisher of my first seven books...well, six of them; one book isn't even on it, so he'll have to send me a new report. Anyway, he says that the third volume of "Bobby Carapisi" only sold 8 paperback copies through Amazon in 2011. Problem is, I personally bought 10 copies and can account for at least 15 in sales through Amazon, alone. I submitted 6 of the ones I bought to a novel competition along with volumes 1 & 2 (didn't get anywhere, but didn't really expect to) and I still have some left.

Now normally I'd think it was the publisher manipulating the figures to keep from paying me too much, but aside from that just being a stupid thing to do, he has the reports from Amazon to back him up. Now we know how their company model makes them money -- only report 75-80% of sales and pocket the price they get on the rest.

One thing I did work out from this is, I'm selling between 30 and 35 books a month, on average (in both paperback and electronic downloads); I'll have a better idea of the exact number once I get the figures on that last book. That's better than I thought.

Y'know, I didn't start publishing my books to get rich. I knew that most of them were for a very limited market, and the fact that I've sold more than 2000 books in less than 5 years, even by my count, is enough to stroke my ego. Especially considering they've gotten damn near zero publicity.

Obviously, I am not on the same level as Steven King. It'd be nice, but I like what I've written, so far and see no reason to change. My characters have got my back.

Too bad the rest of the world see that as an excuse to try and fuck me over.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Back on track

I worked on "The Vanishing of Owen Taylor" this evening, mainly reacquainting myself with what I've written. I have this minimal sort of short-term memory that takes a while to kick in and remember what I've done, sometimes. Which is nice when I'm reading a story I've written and I don't remember doing some of the things in it that I did. It may also be this dividing line I have in my life between my creative aspect and my day-to-day...and when the latter overwhelms, the former get shunted into a corner and it takes a while to come back out.

So first I went for a walk and deposited a check into my bank's ATM...doing it without a deposit slip or envelope for the first time. And it seemed to work all right. Then I bought apples and came home, and dove straight into OT.

I've contacted my new publisher and they're open to me submitting it to them. This'll be a more serious book than LD, but then again...I may have some fun with it. Jake's already kicking ass and Antony's backing him up with his usual go-for-broke actions. Matt's gotten himself involved in something dangerous that might wind up good for him...or not. I won't know till it's done.

I do know I'm working in my whole idea about Christianity being the new communism into it. When it reaches the point where an elected official, who has sworn to uphold the Constitution of the US, actually admits on video that he thinks it's okay to fire someone because you don't like their lifestyle, and where the Catholic Church, which is a major recipient of taxpayer dollars, uses their power to ignore the law and force thorough other laws that restrict the rights of those people they don't like, and where "Christians" say gays should be killed, on and on and on...well, it's just like being in Soviet Russia under Stalin. And Jake and Antony feel the same way, which is why they live in Denmark.

If Romney gets into the White House and the GOP takes both houses of Congress, I may join them in leaving the country. Canada's looking good, right now.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Can't forget the girls in LD

Ace needs Carmen, so I had to work up a rendition of her for "The Lyons' Den".
And Gretta has a big role to play in the madness, as well, right through to the end.

I'm thinking of working up a short promo video for the book, using these and the boys' images, as well as a few others, to post on YouTube.

But saying it, this sounds silly now. I wouldn't be able to do it with any finesse or craft without licensing some music and getting someone to do a voice-over for Ace. I'd do it but I sound like Minnie Mouse on tape.

It's the money, again. My car needs work. My debts are already creeping higher. I can't afford the outlay, especially since my brother takes so much of my income.

But that's how it's always been in my family.

Monday, May 14, 2012

We got pictures

The Central Park Reservoir from the north, looking towards Mid-town's mass of office towers.

The day was so clear and lovely, you can even make out the Empire State Building and Rock-Center, both in the center of the photo.

The Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.


The museum's atrium, and probably one of the most dramatic photos I've ever taken. This is from the very top, and I got yelled at by the docents for taking it.

So I took this one, too, to show the beauty of the skylight and to be something of a prick. Made me feel very New Yawker. The sculptures in the background are Chamberlain's later work.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day

My buddy, Brad Rushing, suggested for today, here's the first music video my mother was featured in -- Eminem's "Role Model". She's the nun at the 1:20 mark.

You can see her in other things, as well -- a plane passenger handing over her boarding pass in Wes Craven's "Redeye"; a juror listening as Tony Shaloub argues his case in "The Man Who Wasn't There" -- but this is the only piece of video I could find to actually link to. She was also in "Do You Hate Me Now", "Purple Hills", and a number of other music videos whose names I just don't know.

It was funny to hear her talk about meeting "Mr. Eminem" and thinking he was a very sweet young man, then discuss rap music with kids young enough to be her great-grandchildren. It freaked them out.

Such is life in Hollywood that she had more success in the business that I did.

Happy Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Saturday in New York

A casual if not leisurely day, so far. I slept in, checked out at 11am sharp, toodled on over to the Guggenheim and saw an interesting collection of John Cunningham's crushed-metal sculptures, did a walk around Central Park's reservoir then headed on to the airport. Right now I'm in JFK's Terminal 5 (Jet Blue) which is actually quite civilized (some of the vendors even offer Dr. Pepper!). Now I'm fed, caught up on e-mails, and feeling a bit itchy about how I haven't been writing the last couple days.

I should say, my gentle meander up the Guggenheim was instructive and enlightening and illuminative of my current world. I'd never been to the museum before, and found, to my surprise. Cunningham's works were spaced out along the upward spiral, starting with his early stuff (not so interesting) and progressing upwards till you see his newer sculptures (which I found to be a lot more fun and playful). I also liked his little pieces, oddly enough (but only shrugged at his foam works as impermanent).

The side gallery rooms were taken up with an obvious collection of interactive media bits discussing how awful things are in Burma and how Kashmir is caught between two worlds. Very college-level in thought and presentation...and backed by DetuscheBank. There was also an exhibit of a young woman's self-portraits before she committed suicide (at the age of 23) that were like so-so Cindy Sherman and a grouping of paintings once owned by the Tannhauser family (and I always thought that was just a Wagnerian opera) that slammed early Picasso with Pissaro with Serat with Gaugin with a nice little Toulous-Lautrec.

but it was one of Cunningham's sculptures that gave me an idea for a script I've already written -- a creature-feature about an alien who's crash-landed on earth and wants to use some skateboarder kids to send off an SOS...which they aren't too crazy about, because it'll kill them. Hence my complete capitulation to the idea I will always be a film phreak first and writer second.

The best part of the whole journey uptown was the walk around the reservoir. So long as I stayed in the shade, it was pleasantly cool and I wasn't tired when I was done...and I took pictures. Soon to be posted.

Now comes the question -- what should I write? Finish OT? Redo "We-come"? Get that ex-cop to send me IF so I can get the damn thing finished? Get back to POS? The list is boundless.


Friday, May 11, 2012

Rough job

This packing job had to be done in two days to accommodate everyone's schedules...but it was rough. What was initially 600 books exploded to 1600, many of them small but each still requiring attention. I couldn't start till Thursday and had to be done Friday because the owner of the books is leaving town...for "The Vineyard". So, I slammed it through...and I'm not happy about how the last seven boxes came together.

This always happens -- something appears in the middle of a packing job you've already bid on and rearranges everything. I had that happen at a storage facility, last year, where 1500 books blossomed into 2200, and none of them were small. I ran out of boxes, there, but they had a lot of scrap boxes I could use so that worked out. Still...a 3 day job wound up being a week, because I also had to ferry the books out of one unit and down the hall to another.

Fortunately, on this job I allowed myself a day in NYC...and now I'm so glad I did. I couldn't have faced a plane ride after this day's back-breaking slam. I was planning on going to the Guggenheim...but now I'm not so sure. My back and feet hurt, but a hot bath is running and soaking in that for a while should clarify my brain.

Or not. Right now I don't care.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Too tired and a little sick

A burger I ate did not agree with me, so I'm just laying it out for Matt Taibbi then going to sit in a hot tub for the next hour and let the Imodium do its thing.

This is his take on the elections in Europe, where the voters are letting the people who are, supposedly, their employees know they don't like how they've been tossing trillions of their tax Euros at the thieving banks who collapsed the economy, and who are using specious arguments to explain why they're decimating the middle class in order to do it.

Needless to say, I think every one of the bastards on wall street who helped inflate the housing bubble and sold junk mortgages as AAA investments should be in jail for fraud, at the very least.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

More to do on IF

Seems the ex-cop I'm writing "Inherent Flaws" with or for or whatever has found more spots that need to be changed to better reflect the reality of the times. Meaning I'll have to go through the whole fucking book, again, to make certain it reads decently, when I was beginning to get back onto "The Vanishing of Owen Taylor".

I worked on it en route to NYC from Buffalo and got several pages of a trial written. I just need to get an idea of what an actual trial transcript looks like so I can keep it in the proper format. I did something similar in volume 2 of "Bobby Carapisi" to show how insane things were getting. I found the typed transcripts from shows like "Bill Mahr" and "The Tonight Show" and a couple sports shows on ESPN as well as a Q&A of sports journalists during a news conference then wrote 3 chapters to fit them. They helped forward the story. Too bad it's a story no one wants to read.

Anyway, since Owen's vanished and Jake is trying to find out what the hell's going on, I figure it'll be one way to tell Owen's story without him being there. Another is him having written journals, something that can dig deep into his psyche in ways too intimate for anyone to openly share. That one...I'm not so sure about, right now. It feels a bit like a violation. I mean, I'd hate for anyone to read my journals...if they could read them, considering my handwriting. Hell, sometimes even I have trouble figuring out what the hell I wrote.

Someone once told me, the smarter you are, the worse your handwriting usually is. that measure, I'm a friggin' genius. My handwriting's never been great (my sister in San Diego asked me to type my letters to her so she could read them without having to decipher the hieroglyphics) but it's gotten worse since I began using a computer.

Or as I could also's gotten more artistic. Yeah, that's it.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

We are a communist nation

But we call it Christianity. Don't think so? Consider this.

We have right-wing leaders that say if you do not pass the christian test, you should not be allowed to hold a job (see Newt Gingrich on that one, but also a number of ministers on the right). It was the same in the Soviet Union. Our political leaders determine what a woman may do with her body, all in the name of god, thus show that all women really are is breed mares to them. Just like in China, and I don't care about the details (that we're close to the point where a woman may not even prevent a pregnancy let alone get rid of one, while in China it was no woman may have more than one child), it's still the government telling women what they may or may not do with their own bodies. And rape or incest do not matter to them.

Now yet another state has declared that marriage and the protections thereof are applicable only to a man who is married to a woman, and vise versa. Period. (See North Carolina here.) The constitutional amendment that passed was supposedly aimed at preventing gay marriage, but in actually it removes the legal protections from anyone who is not married. If a woman has a child but is not wed, the state may take the child away from her and give it a married couple. If a man and woman have lived together for 20 years and built a life together and her or she dies, the deceased's relatives may take everything, because this amendment invalidates common law marriages, as well. It is christian morality dictated by government fiat.

Consider something else -- waterboarding was torture. After WW2, Japanese soldiers were courts martialed for doing it to American and British soldiers. It was defined as such by every civilized nation in the world. The US signed the Geneva Convention, which describes waterboarding as a criminal act. To even think about using torture against a prisoner was anathema to any American.

Now? We joke about it...and use it...and the people who used the law to excuse it, brag about what they have done and write books about it and get patted on the back. And so-called christians are the first to do the patting. That Jesus was tortured and executed by the state, even though he was found innocent of a crime, means nothing to them.

So now we have a government that has the right to listen in on your phone conversations without any cause. We have a security force at airports that uses invasive searches and threats of imprisonment against anyone who does not do exactly what they want. We have policemen who brutalize peaceful protesters, claiming they were being threatened despite evidence that they were not, and nothing is done to the cops. We invade nations that had done nothing to us then complain because their  people aren't happy we destroyed their country.

This is what they do in communist China. This is what they did in the Soviet Union...and are getting back to doing in Russia under Putin. And in this country, this form of communism is being perpetrated by christians. Listen to some of the nonsense spouted by Rick Santorum, who would put everyone in the US under biblical law (like Iran and Saudi Arabia are, under Sharia Law) and had millions of followers who agreed with him.

Christianity is the new communism, in this country, and there are tens of millions of party members who are proudly forcing their will upon us all, through laws and legal fiat.

Even as they spit on the teachings of Christ. The devil must be pleased beyond measure.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Can't forget Ace

He's the narrator of "The Lyons' Den" and Tad's doppelganger, and he would not be happy if left out of the sketches. So I worked him up while watching "Dancing With The Stars" and "Castle".

I started watching DWTS partly because my mother was religious about it. She used to teach dancing and had some minor success as a dancer before she was married. Then she taught dancing after she and my father got divorced and while we lived in England, with my stepfather. She still loved to watch dancing on TV as well as live performances when she could.

She tried like crazy to get me interested in it, but I could not have cared less. I did catch some routines on DWTS that were interesting, but for the most part it wasn't much to me. A couple of the professional dancers were Mark Ballas...but that wasn't enough to make me watch.

When she died in August, I was in my ignoring-TV mode, again, so didn't even know there was a new season of the show coming up till I happened to catch an article in a magazine that William Levy was going to be on it. He's a Cuban actor in Telenovelas and is one of those impossibly beautiful men, so I watched the first show out of curiosity to see what he was like in action, then decided to watch it all the way through in memory of my mother.

That's a funny reason to stick with a program, but it gave me just enough impetus to pay attention and see there were some excellent dancers on the show...and that William Levy was sort of a lunk, except when he knew the camera was on him. Mark Ballas, however, was still adorable and had serious chemistry with his opera singer partner.

I won't say I'm hooked on the show (the male professionals strike poses in the middle of routines that are just ridiculous to me) but I am going to watch it through this season. And while it's on, do more sketching. I guess that could be reason enough to keep going, even though it's close to the end of this season.

Of course, it might also have to do with the fact that William Levy wore a pair of pants during his second dance, tonight, that made me rethink his lunkiness.

I can be so shallow. Ace agrees, with a smirk.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Weekend project

I finally figured out half my problem, lately, is I needed to do something artistic. So here's a portrait of Daniel Bettancourt.
 This is Tad, and Ace, and Fantasy Tad, in all his glory.

And following is Van, almost exactly like I pictured him.
And here we have Daniel arriving at the Lyons' Den.

Dunno what I'm going to do with these, yet, but when the bug bites, you give in or go nuts...well, nutsier that you already are.

Saturday, May 5, 2012


This is Derrick Davenport (probably not his real name), "Man of the Year 2006" for "Playgirl Magazine".

He's blond, about 5'8", 26 or 27 years old in these photos, incredibly buff (it is "Playgirl", after all, so you see everything), and not what I really go for in a  guy. I've always been attracted to men who look like Alec Baldwin did in the 80s or David Schwimmer did throughout "Friends".

Oh, I'll get temporary crushes on all sorts of good-looking guys, but I soon shift on to someone else who's more interesting, for the moment. However, there's something about Derrick that flat out makes me catch my breath whenever I see him, even though I've already seen his photos a thousand times.

No gay-dar ringing off him, unless it's for pay and that means nothing. I've only seen two shots of his smile; the rest offer either a scowl or a serious warning not to even think about it. And yet, I obsess over him.

I also obsess over this guy -- a model named Bruno (again, not his real name). But with him, I understand it. I've always liked his sort of look -- either Italian, Greek, or Jewish -- and if he'd stop shaving his chest, he'd be perfect.

I used him as the physical representation for Bobby Carapisi, and for Office Shayes in HTRASG. But when it came time to work out in my head what Van looked like in LD, Derrick came front and center. Because he is someone Daniel would like to know. Even when I tried to think of him as Tad, I couldn't; he was Van, plain and simple.

A lot of it has to do with the hint of hurt behind his eyes. I've always been a sucker for guys who were hiding painful secrets. But I don't necessarily want to know what that secret is; I just want to comfort them. Let them know someone cares and will support them, no matter what.

I think the closest I ever came to a relationship with a blond was this alcoholic guy I knew in Houston, who was involved with an older man. I can't stand alcoholics and will cut people off if they're lost in the bottle. Sounds cruel, but the fact is...if you don't, they'll drag you down and try to drown you with them. I learned that the hard way, years and years ago, and the second someone starts showing that crap around me, I'm gone.

But this guy, I moved heaven and earth to try and bring him back to life. There was even one occasion he showed up where I worked, drunk out of his mind, and lost control of his bladder in middle of the store. I took him to my place, cleaned him up, and that night after I got off, I drove him to his parents' home in a small town halfway to Austin, where they put him in rehab. He was sober for five months, then called me at 3am one morning, drunker than hell. I let him talk till he fell asleep, then I changed my phone number. And since I'd just lost my job, I moved in with a friend and didn't let him know where I was. Five months later, I was in LA. It took that much for me to finally accept he was beyond least, at my hands.

I don't know what Derrick is really like. He may be the sweetest person in the world and his model persona is merely a defense mechanism or a fun play attitude. But he scares a little, because I could get lost with him.

As Daniel begins to do with Van, even while suspecting him of being untruthful.

Art imitates life imitates art. Damn -- I'm back to a dangerous place, again.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Whispering tea

I spent a few minutes, just now, watching my soup mug of hot tea (sweetened with honey and colored with milk) offer up delicate tendrils of dancing steam. The liquid is a darkish tan held by white china and was set in just the right position, vis-a-vis my desk lamp, to reflect light through the vapors drifting up from it. And they shifted and curled and spun in glowing lines across the hot fluid, reminding me of the Northern Lights and their whispery moves. A surprising moment of magic.

I'm back to recharging my batteries after the push on IF. I can't rush this, no matter how much I might want to; I need time to regain my creative strength, such as it is. So I'm using this down time to update my computers. I just added fresh RAM to my Mac Mini -- it's up to a whole 2 gigs now --and this weekend I'll be installing Snow Leopard into my laptop, then I'll go on up to Lion.

My Mac Mini can handle Leopard well and Snow Leopard if it has to, but I'm not going to push it. I'll be using it for word processing, mainly, since none of my programs will work on Lion and I just can't afford to put out $300 for Office, right now. Hell, I'm barely able to meet my bills, this month, thanks to paying my taxes. I'd have set up a payment plan, but the IRS friggin' gouges you on fees and interest. It was a better deal to put a couple thousand on my MC, that's how ridiculous it was.

So I'm shambling along, as usual, right at the edge. I guess my next goal is to sit down, find out what all the services I have are honestly worth and start trimming back. For example, I have Verizon Fios, which I'm not all that enamored of. But it's the only internet service offered in my building. So maybe I could set up an unlimited data plan with Sprint, which would be usable anywhere I can get a Sprint signal, and that would help me in my work.

But if I get rid of Fios, I'll be getting rid of cable and the land-line expenses. Which may be a problem because the land-line is needed for faxing. can now send and receive faxes online, so I'd need to find out what kind of program I'd need for that and if I can do it with my laptop or Mac Mini.

It's at the point where you need to either spend all your free time researching or be a PhD in physics just to keep up with all the "advances" in computers. None of which is really free.

This is what I get for not being a computer nerd or cyber-punk.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Why I left Texas...

Today in Stupid

by BooMan
Thu May 3rd, 2012 at 04:47:14 PM EST

When it comes to Stupid, Waco, Texas is never far behind:
Bill Nye, the harmless children's edu-tainer known as "The Science Guy," managed to offend a select group of adults in Waco, Texas at a presentation, when he suggested that the moon does not emit light, but instead reflects the light of the sun.As even most elementary-school graduates know, the moon reflects the light of the sun but produces no light of its own.
But don't tell that to the good people of Waco, who were "visibly angered by what some perceived as irreverence," according to the Waco Tribune.
Nye was in town to participate in McLennan Community College's Distinguished Lecture Series. He gave two lectures on such unfunny and adult topics as global warming, Mars exploration, and energy consumption.
But nothing got people as riled as when he brought up Genesis 1:16, which reads: "God made two great lights -- the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars."
The lesser light, he pointed out, is not a light at all, but only a reflector.
At this point, several people in the audience stormed out in fury. One woman yelled "We believe in God!" and left with three children, thus ensuring that people across America would read about the incident and conclude that Waco is as nutty as they'd always suspected.
Silly me, I hadn't even realized that this was a bone of contention. Does the Moon create photons now? What about the New Moon? Is that some kind of blasphemy?
I swear, it's like some people aren't getting any oxygen to the brain.
People may think this is an aberration for the state, but it's not. I cannot tell you how many people I ran into those 15 months I lived there, recently, who make chimpanzees seem like rocket scientists. I think my favorite is an in-law (twice removed) who's Latino but supports the GOP. His parents are from Mexico and cannot even speak English. They may be citizens (I was too polite to do anything but assume they are), but the GOP would still happily kick them out of the country. Only try getting him to see that. No way, Jose. The GOP is great, good, and will help make him a millionaire.

As the saying goes -- "The buurnnns."

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

"Constructive Criticism"

I love it when I get feedback that starts out, "Well-written script with good atmosphere..." then winds up tearing your work down because...well, because it doesn't follow the rules of the plot point diagram or build characters in the way Syd Field and Michael Hauge and Lew Hunter and their teaching associates say they should be built.

You see, in today's scriptwriting the protagonist has to have a clearly defined goal, and the antagonist has to be set against him or her. The protagonist needs to have a special skill that seems like nothing but winds up becoming his or her main tool in fighting back against the antagonist. And there must be some link between them to show how parallel in nature they are. Then there must be a plot point every 10 pages (which lately has been every 6 pages), with strong turns of events at the 1/4 and 3/4 marks in the script and a major one at the halfway point.

Flashbacks are a no-no or to be minimized. The antagonist must be active. Period. Everything must be externalized in some way, but there should be hints of something the actor can use to help build a back-story. It has to be in a three-act structure (not 2 or 5, as a couple of mine have been). And last but not least, it has to be original while not being all that different from everything else.

And the truth is, movies like that can make a lot of money. Look at "Titanic", a disgraceful reworking of a seminal tragic story into a Hollywood action piece that's made close to $2 billion dollars. Even William Goldman praised the script as very well-structured. And the massive number of super-hero films coming out this summer fit into this paradigm perfectly, so will probably make tons of cash, as well.

This is why "Find Ray Tarkovsky" has done decently enough in competitions and gotten fairly positive reactions from people. I have fun with the rules while still allowing them to be seen in the structure. It's my most Hollywood script. Seems its one big drawback is, it's set in Hollywood, and no one I've approached with it wants to make a movie with that as its background. Of course, the second most common complaint is, it's not sadistic or funny enough (I can understand the second part of that complaint since I'm not a huge comedy writer; but the first part? That's just creepy).

I should add, the script I'm talking about at the top of this post is "Blood Angel", which is more of a tone poem to sex equalling death than a Hollywood screenplay, and those who get it, love it. Thing is, you have to read it, not skim it, because everything's in there as to what's really going on but it's not overt. This is the one I've gotten some hideously nasty coverage on and response to...and yet it has come in Second and Third in a few script competitions.

Still, even though I can dismiss the criticism as coming from someone who didn't really pay attention, I can't help but feel one of my babies has been dissed, and that brings me down a little. And it takes me a while to get back in gear.

What the hell, even Hitchcock got hurt and depressed when his favorite work, "Vertigo", got dismissed as a "Hitchcock and bull" story. Guess I'm no different.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The end of the road, or is it?

My bank is about to change hands, officially, and I've learned it may not be a moment too soon. I've been with HSBC since not long after coming up to Buffalo; they are, apparently, one of the largest purchasers in the world of derivatives, right after JP Morgan Chase, Citibank, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs. Their exposure to these junk bits of paper is a paltry $4.2 trillion ($4,200,000,000,000.00) compared to the top four's $215 trillion. Meaning these 5 banks are on the hook for more than three times what the entire world's economy is worth. It's really quite insane...but suddenly I can understand why governments have been throwing cash at these criminals; if they didn't, the world's economy would collapse and chaos would ensue.

See here for more details.

This is the kind of stuff that makes you want to lock your door, break out a bottle of wine and drink yourself into oblivion while seated before a raging fire and nibbling on filet mignon with a baked potato as you casually read a damn fine book, in order to forget it all.

If I was to do that, I'd have burgundy and make the potatoes au gratin with asparagus shoots, a light salad, and chocolate cake for dessert. I had that at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, once, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Nor did I need a full meal for the next three days, I was so stuffed. As for my book, I'm thinking I'll re-read "War and Peace". It so fits the times.

So now what? I got no exposure to any of this, myself; I cashed out my 401K to try and make it on my own just as the economy tanked, so it's all gone. And I'm locked into helping my youngest brother keep a roof over his head in San Antonio, so can't save any, really. I can barely make ends meet.

So what do I do?

Simple, I let Jake and Vinnie and Brendan tell me their stores and write them down and ignore the fact that the 1% have probably set civilization on a collision course with a new dark age.

It's funny what things like this make you wonder, however. For example, contemplating what might have happened had Reagan been killed by John Wayne Henley in 1981 takes me in two directions -- it might have been better, because Bush was not as enamored of Ronnie's "Voodoo Economics" and deregulation. Plus he was not the salesman Reagan was so could not have pulled off half the crap Reagan got away with.

Meaning he might have lasted only one term, because Mondale was a strong candidate against someone like Bush. And had that happened, we'd have kept the regulations in place that would have prevented this run up to catastrophe, especially after the Savings and Loan debacle in Arizona in the mid-80s.

BUT...another possibility is, we'd still have the Soviet Union, because Ronnie's salesmanship got the country back on the militarization path, forcing the Kremlin to do the same and bankrupting their government, thus bringing about the collapse of the iron curtain. Mondale wouldn't have done that; he's a butter before guns kind of guy. The Russians might also have been more willing to test the boundaries of American might and brought us closer to another war, especially since they weren't doing so well in Afghanistan and knew the US was arming the Taliban.

It's an interesting game to play. I did one scenario where Hitler was assassinated and WW2 wound up being ten times worse, with Germany, Austria, Italy, and Yugoslavia becoming satellites of the Soviets, with Greece being forced back into the arms of the Turks for protection.

Of course, what this means is there's no such thing as 20/20 hindsight. You never know how life will turn out if you go left instead of right. Guess that's the fun of it all.