Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Friday, May 31, 2013

Long day...brain dead...

Stayed late at work. Did research for OT in hopes of cutting down its burgeoning size. So I got nothin', right now...except a dash of Depeche Mode at their peak, during their "101" tour. This is Pasadena, CA.



Dave Gahan was damn near perfection, and the "101" album is one of my all-time favorites (right next to Enigma's "MCMXCaD"). If I could find a copy of the movie (that I could afford), I'd buy it in a heartbeat.

I listen to this when I'm driving a long distance. It makes me happy.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Epic...

Looks like I'm back in Epic novel territory with OT. Here's the freshened up opening that leads into what looks like will be 135K in wordage. Tolstoy, c'est moi.
-------------------------------

“Why do you stay with Tone?”

It was my stepmother, Mira, asking me. She’d heard I was headed for Copenhagen to meet with my Uncle Ari, and she’d all but begged me to swing by Paris, this time, instead of going through Amsterdam. I wasn’t crazy about it because it costs more and wouldn’t give me time enough to pop out to see my brothers and sisters, but she’s been a really good ally against my dad, so I couldn’t say no. Her office is in St. Denis, just a half-hour from De Gaulle Airport, so I set up a connecting flight for four, and we met for lunch at the terminal. Of course, I knew something was up – she’d never been so insistent, before -- but not for a second did I think this would be the beginning of a trip to hell.

Now Mira’d hinted at wanting to know my reasons for sticking with Tone, before, but I’d ignored her; I don’t answer half-questions. This time she asked it straight out. In English. To make it clear she wanted a real answer. Of course, what she actually said was, “Iacob, what is your loyalty with this Antony?”

She was being careful with her words. Nobody but me calls Antony “Tone”; nobody but her calls me by the Persian version of my name, since I’m only half-that and the rest is all-American mutt. But whenever she does it, I know she’s edging into a totally different question and wants to set the groundwork, first.

I knew it wasn’t about the trouble Tone and I’d had in Texas, a couple years ago. He’d filled her in on that, though not in the extreme detail he normally uses. I don’t think she’d have wanted to meet me, if he had – at least, not till her psychiatrist brain had picked his apart to see what was inside. As if anybody ever could know why he does the things he does. Even I didn’t, half the time, and I’m closer to him than anybody. But he’s got these pockets of secrets locked away in his crazy-assed brain that he won’t let you see till he’s damn good and ready. Hell, he didn’t even let me know they’d talked till I was about to head into the airport.

He’d gripped my arm, tight, as he told me all about it. “I wanted her to understand – what happened was all on me.” He was sneaking into one of his shaking fits, he was so scared of how I’d react. We’d agreed not to explain the fucked up situation to anybody, but then he’d gone and done his usual Tone thing – jump first, fuck the consequences. “So I got her number from Ari. I – I didn’t want her to hear about it from anybody else. You know how the press makes shit up and people lie -- .”

I’d just held him close and let him take his time calming down. I’ve never known anybody who could work himself up like he could. My big bad Tone. Well...he thought he was big and bad. And considering some of the shit he’d pulled, I could see how people would agree. Because he can get this focus going that’s so damned intense, he forgets everything else and, to use his own phrase, he goes batshit-crazy.

For a long time, it looked like he had control of it. He’d found this guy in Austin who knows how to talk to him. So once a week he’d borrow his dad’s Chrysler, zip up there and unload for an hour, then have a bite to eat and book it on home. The routine made him easy as aces.

But the last few months, if he had to give me news he didn’t think I’d like, he’d start shivering like a Chihuahua and his words would stumble out and I’d have to reassure him that everything’d be fine. I had a pretty good idea what was causing it; he had a new probation officer, who’d arranged for his every-other-week meetings to fall on the same day as his therapy. And apparently he was a bigger dick than any of the assholes I’d had to deal with. It read like a stupid piece of control-mongering meant to smack Tone around with the understanding that this cool and fantastic therapist is required to give the fucked-up state of Texas steady progress reports on his behavior. When I had to go pick him up a second time because he was too freaked out to drive, I went up with him on those days and sketched while I waited through both appointments. Then when he left the asshole’s office, I’d put my arms ‘round him and hold him till he was just my Tone, again.

Just my Tone. A little bit taller than me, a little bit slimmer than me, a lean face under a mop of brown hair and wary eyes that all but scream, “Be careful; I’ll hurt you.” And a hell of a lot crazier than me. The second I saw him, I knew he needed someone to protect him...usually from himself, which he proved by almost getting himself killed after jumping into some shit he couldn’t handle. Twice.

I never knew what went on in his therapy sessions. Didn’t want to, and I made damn sure he understood it. I don’t want him to hold back anything for fear it might freak me out. And that was working fine. It’s like we were almost back to being a couple, again instead of just two guys who support each other.

But lately, it’s like he can’t believe I’m okay with what happened, that I don’t think less of him or won’t leave him. The one thing about me he can’t seem to get through his thick skull is, I know how people are. I’ve been in a state prison. I’ve seen how guards can be no better than jackals and convicted killers can wind up on God’s side. A lifetime of learning jammed into a year and a half. Hell, I’d done things in there that I’d never thought I was even capable of doing, and I was halfway to being a hard-ass when I was sent in. So I knew without question that nobody, absolutely nobody, has the right to judge anybody else.

Anyway, we’d stand there for as long as he wanted. Then his shaking’d go away and he’d kiss my neck to let me know he was back, and we’d have a slop of greasy Tex-Mex and a Margarita and drive home.

It bugged me that things were getting harsher, between us. When we lived together in Copenhagen, he’d been so happy and I’d felt easy. We got to where we could almost read each other’s minds, we were so close. And man -- when Tone gets close to you -- and turns his focus on you -- it makes you feel like you’re the only guy in the world. That you’re all that matters. He’s granite under your feet, he locks in on you so tight. Those months gave me back all the confidence I’d lost in the previous three years. Rebuilt my meaning and reality, and more than made up for his recent freak-outs.

That's why I was willing to live in Texas, again, as much as I fucking hate that fucking state.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

David Martin

I've started a FaceBook page for "David Martin" to start building up some interest. I hope. I'm still not seeing any evidence the ads I set up and all the likes I've gotten on "The Lyons' Den" and "Bobby Carapisi" have done anything for sales of the books.

Oh, BC has 703 total "likes", most of them from countries like India and Thailand, and its sales are almost exclusively via Kindle. Plus, LD has 837 total "likes", but I've only sold two copies of the book through Amazon in the last 2 weeks. Of course, that one has a lot of other venues to buy it through, including directly from the publisher and in book stores...I guess.

I think of when I was recently in Washington DC and went to an independent book shop...and they didn't even have LD in their list, let alone on the shelf. The only time I've ever found one of my books in a book shop was Different Light in San Francisco -- they had a copy of HTRASG. And apparently some people had protested, due to the title.

I'm badder than I thought I'd ever be.

Anyway, this time I'm trying out the building of buzz for DM. It's a more accessible book for all, including kids. The reaction I got from a co-worker's 10 year old daughter is, "I liked it." Hardly elaborate praise, but I'm just glad she didn't say it was boring.

I'm hoping to have the book done by Thanksgiving, but it depends on how things go with the illustrations. Ken Min is doing them, and I know better than to rush him. But I know he'll turn out some very nice work.

Can't wait.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Settled down...a little...

OT is coming together, again. I've dropped a lot of the chatter in the first chapter and focused on things starting to be strained between Jake and Tone, which Jake blames on the situation in Texas dragging on and on and on. But what's even better is, when Jake reconnects with Dion, he reconnects with how much the man meant to him. The unconditional support Dion offered. The fun they had together, even though it was just for a week. How Dion made Jake feel attractive and worth something.

Jake and Antony have always had a rougher, more intense relationship than that...and Jake's getting tired of fighting for something more. Which Antony senses. It's added a lovely undercurrent to the whole story. What had begun to feel like a placid stream now has danger lurking under the surface; not just to Jake as he digs into Owen's disappearance, but also to the life he and Antony share.

It's changed the ending a bit. And made me understand why I did some things I did in it. And lengthened the story some. Right now I have 67,000 words in the connected part and 40,000+ in the ending bit, though a lot of that will now go by the wayside. My ending will be much simpler. Not so much rushing around. And much more evil in the most banal of ways.

This is why I have to keep reminding myself to trust my characters. They know the story; they'll lead me through it. Jake has. Carli will. Brendan will...

...once I let him.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Carli and Jake

I got a couple of alley cats yeowling at each other, close to a fight in my head. And before I sound schizophrenic (at least, more than I normally do), consider --

"Carli Kills" was going to be a cheapie revenge/horror script I could sell to a cheapie production house, but Carli and Zeke had other plans. Which they slammed me with until I was in chaos as regards the story. So I set it aside to give everyone a chance to calm down and start telling it to me, again.

I shifted back to "The Vanishing of Owen Taylor" and the same damn thing happened -- the story crashed into chaos because I'd screwed up on the timeline...except I hadn't. Not really. What happened was Jake was taking the story to its logical places and I wasn't seeing it.

I finally caught up with him, today, and realized what he was doing, and saw the problem wasn't in the work I'd done over the last week; it was the opening chapter. Until now, it had no reason to be there; all it did was ease the reader into the story with a lot of backstory that made little sense if you hadn't read RIHC6v1&2. I'd consistently wondered if I should take it out.

Not anymore. It sets the whole book up, now. I'm finally back on track with OT.

So I hit a point where it's time to stop for the day, and Carli comes nudging. I've had a DVD of "Kill Bill v1" for a while and it's time for me to watch it. Well, I have ironing to do, so why not?

Oh, my God...how much did I dislike this movie? Let me count the ways...

1. It has zero concept of reality. A woman wakes from a 4 year-old coma and is able to move around. Muscles not atrophied. Nails perfectly kept. She commits two brutal murders in a medical facility and not one cop shows up. She's in the area, in a victim's truck, for over 13 hours and no cops.

2. The lead has no access to funds or credit cards or passport, so far as I can tell, but still flies first class to another country, with a Samurai sword by her seat. Excuse me? A lethal weapon in an airplane cabin? Seriously?

3. In a massive fight between the heroine and dozens of henchmen, all with swords and chains and such, the bad guys stand around and take turns attacking, so she can kill them all. They don't just all plow in at once and hack her to death from the front, back, sides, and above.

And again, a massive, long fight in a public restaurant where dozens of patrons flee into the street to get away...and no cops. All done with lots of color, some snazzy black and white, a whole animated sequence, tons of camerawork, and oh-so-much pseudo style.

Quentin Tarantino only knows flash and dash. I give him props that he's made a solid career out of this. He gets his movies made. But they're like cotton candy, and evaporate just as fast as sugar does when it hits your tongue.

You want to see the difference between a style slave and a master filmmaker? Watch Kurosawa's "High & Low" (1962) and pay special attention to the noodle bar sequence about 3/4 of the way through. A murderer is making contact with a drug dealer in the middle of a very hot, noisy, crowded place, cops tailing him to see what he's up to. The dealer puts music on and people start dancing the Twist...and the killer and dealer dance...and money is exchanged for drugs...and the moment is breathtaking. (Of course, I think the whole movie's breathtaking, but I'm a Kurosawa fanatic.)

Compare that to the bar sequence leading up to the final fight. Lots of camera moves. Lots of cutting. Lots of slo-mo. Lots of color. Lots of noise. And nothing in the way of build or excitement or even giving a damn.

Carli wanted me to see this, and now wants me back on CK. I finally see what she's after...and if I even think of making the script anything like this non-stop cartoon of a movie, I think she'll kill me. I wouldn't blame her.

What's interesting is, Jake feels the same way -- "Finish me up, now. You've got the basics down right." And he's not letting up.

I guess my next move is tossing a coin to see who gets paid attention to, first.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

In the dark...

Well...I spent today working out how to get around my timing problem with OT...and it's become scary. Not gonna-kill-ya scary but I don't know what's going to happen with Jake and Tone. Because Dion has very calmly and very casually added to Jake's irritation with Antony's constant testing of him. Which Antony senses and begins to react to. This is one reason why --
A painting Owen did of Jake and Dion when they were together for a week. When they first met. Jake's 18 and in love for the first time. Dion's 25. And it turns out he's been to prison, too, so knows what Jake's been through.

Seems this whole timing situation may have been Dion's way of giving him and Jake more moments together for Antony to obsess over. Dion's happy. Married. Has kids with his husband. He represents an alternative reality to the tense relationship between Antony and Jake...and it's driving a wedge between them because Jake's sensing he may never have that with Tone.

Shit...I no longer know what the ending of the story is. I mean, I know who did what as regards Owen's disappearance; what I don't know is if Antony and Jake will stay together...if Antony will drive him off by trying to make him prove he wants to stay.

Oh, god...I don't know if that makes any sense.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Oh, scheisse...

I hit the end of chapter 9 of OT and everything's rolling along nice and smooth...and SPLAT! My timeframe is off. Suddenly something Jake has to do the following morning won't work because that would be a Saturday. Banks and DA's offices ain't working the way he needs them to over the weekend. Dammit. What ever happened to a twenty-four-seven society?

Crap. I can't have everything start a day earlier. It won't work. This means Jake has to spend the weekend in Palm Springs when he needs to catch a plane to Texas by Sunday night. Even bumping that to Monday won't work because he'd have to do his business and get everything in order and cleared up by 2pm to make it to the airport in time for a flight home on Southwest.

That's too rushed. So he can't get back till Tuesday, which is the day he needs to be back.

Dammit. My whole elaborate outline needs to be shifted around, now. I HATE it when that happens. Especially when Jake is also pulling shit on me.

He's suddenly remembered a Mormon missionary guy he spent a wild night with, before he met Antony. Just a "We both need sexual contact" moment that's added something more to the story. Because another character's become Mormon and it's messed with my plans, too.

I found this photo after Jake described the guy, and it's close. Hair's a bit long and he'd be in a tie and his Mormon undies, but it works. Thing is, I'm not sure I understand why it's happened, yet.

Except...Dion's blond. And Jake's got a special feeling for him. Plus, Antony senses if anyone can split him and Jake up, it's Dion. And in response to that feeling, he makes a huge mistake. Massive. And I don't know what it will mean for him and Jake.

Shit, if there's anything I didn't want it's for the story to turn into a soap opera.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Another bit of OT

This is after Jake's had a run-in with the cops, been beaten, and was released only because he told the judge he was a Danish citizen and the Danish Consulate backed him up. Gregory is the lawyer they sent to handle his case.
-----------------------------------

So I shook Gregory’s hand and got in the car and went straight to an ER to have myself checked out. I told them I’d fallen while climbing a rock. They verified Sandoval’s diagnosis and gave me a prescription for something a lot better than Advil. I got it filled, swigged one down with a DP, bought a massive pack of gum and took the car for a detailed wash at a nearby full-service joint. As it was cleaned of their filth, I finally checked my phone. Its lens was cracked and the cover was scuffed. All the messages had been erased. Motherfuckers.

I kept myself awake and occupied by checking into the online edition of the local paper, trying to see what’d been reported about Uncle Owen’s trial, but there was nothing...until a week after, when they had a nice page 3 headline about him seeming to have run away from charges of molesting a child. The District Attorney’s line, like he’d written it. Of course.

I logged off and tried to read some weeklies that were piled up in the dinky office. But nothing took my brain off the reality of the situation. My uncle was dead. No way he’d go this long without being in contact with me, not after asking me to come here. No more notes in his perfect handwriting. No pictures on the walls or books of sketches he’d done or even notes on the fridge. His bed was perfectly made, but there was damn near nothing to indicate anyone had ever lived in his home. If he’d left on his own, it was because he knew he wouldn’t be coming back, and wanted nothing to be around that might embarrass him or me when things had to be addressed...like what to do about his estate.

The thought of him possibly killing himself crusted around me like ice. Because I could understand why he’d want to. I’d considered it after that night in the county jail. Sometimes it just plain gets to be too much, the fighting and the hate and the attitudes of scum who’ve got nothing better to do with their lives than beat up on people they don’t like. And it’s not just the assholes in Wichita; it’s self-professed “Christians” on TV and in politics, pushing to have gays rounded up and killed and treated like the Jews were in Hitler’s Germany, all while saying they were all about love and understanding. Just the crazy, non-stop fucking whipsaw of hypocrisy spit out by most people’d be enough to make you want to the get the hell off this planet.

I’d survived by turning into just as big an asshole as the fuckers trying to fuck with me. Soon as I was in prison, I’d found out who the alpha dog was and aligned myself with him. It cost me, Jesus Christ, it cost me. The things I did. The things he had me do to other guys. Hell, with other guys. I never asked why, not even after I was freed. Morality was a luxury that was way out of my price range.

Until I reconnected with my father, I thought I’d gotten that backbone from Gramma. From my uncle. Maybe even from my mother. None of them put up with shit. But then I’d tangled with Faraz and I could see it all came from him. The willingness to do what you had to do to make your way. Morality was an exercise of a person’s mind, not the human spirit, and that’s why it could easily be adjusted to mean anything anybody wanted it to.

So I could see Uncle Owen getting to where he just didn’t feel like it was worth the fight, anymore. He’d won against Bennett only to find they were changing the rules. And if he’d won that battle, they’d come back again. It wasn’t just the DA’s office or the cops; it was the bank’s rearrangement of how it did business, and that preacher pounding on his door with a message of hate, and the betrayal of past DAs and the general sense that he might have been losing support among his friends in his battles against the encroaching evil.

But why wouldn’t he have come to me? Called me? At least given me a hint? I’d have been here so fast to back him up, like he had me. He’d been the only one besides Gramma who’d stood behind me when I was busted. Without even asking if any of it was true. And he’d sent me money enough to make it while I lived with her and worked on getting my art back. He’d even visited me a couple times, when I was in prison, and sent me books and magazines and newspapers. Having him and Gramma as my support kept me sane enough to rejoin the world once I was free; to banish the animal I was close to becoming.

Now they were both gone. Yeah, I had Tone and Matt, but they were back in Texas and I had no one here to lean on but Dion and I couldn’t do that to him and Kent, not considering all he was going through, right now. Shit, I had to fight myself to keep from pointing the rental car down the 10 and not stopping.

Only I couldn’t do that. Uncle Owen had stuck it out for me, so I couldn’t let him down. I had to find out what happened. And if he had ended it, himself...find out what drove him to that point. And if punishments were due, make sure they were paid. I owed him at least that much.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Way over 100K in words...

"The Vanishing of Owen Taylor" is taking on a form that makes it more than just a mystery. It's found its voice and its meaning and made them completely obvious to me. My role in this is now to make it work and be told in a way that conveys everything it wants to say.

Jake lounges on my shoulder like a casual cat, purring in my ear when I let the story do what needs to be done, and digging in his claws when I don't. (BTW, this photo is not of me; I was never that cute...or young...)

But it's unfolding, now. I've reconstructed all I lost and probably done better with it. Jake's voice was getting to be too soft; but that's been changed.  I just need to keep his vernacular consistent -- ie. no softening phrases like "seems to" or "a bit like" or such. He don't say more than he needs to.

Another character's taken on a life of her own, and suddenly I don't know if she's on the side of the angels or devils or both. Guess I'll have to see it played out.

On a side note (a very non-Jake phrase) -- I contacted a friend of mine who illustrates childrens' books and talked with him about doing some work for "David Martin". He likes the story and is interested. And he's cutting me a deal on his rate. His work is much cleaner than mine, so I'm going for it. My goal is to have the book out and available by Thanksgiving.

Here's hoping...

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

More of "OT"

Jake's just had dinner at Dion's, a close friend of his uncle's and a guy Jake had a fling with --
_____________

I nodded, got in my car and headed back to the townhouse. I had to drive through a section where the streetlights had been turned off, making it seem even darker than it already was. Probably done to save the city some money. There wasn’t much traffic and the whole feeling was one of wariness and fear. I cranked up the stereo to blast it away and let my brain start digesting what I’d learned, so far.

Everybody liked my uncle, but no one seemed to know much about him. And while they were concerned about him being gone, it wasn’t like it was a surprise to anybody. It’s like they all truly felt he’d done a runner in the face of the statutory rape charge. Even people who knew him better than I did. I just could not wrap my head around that idea. If there's anything my mother was right about, it's that my uncle’d work out an itinerary down to the minute, not to talk about it but so he’d know what he was doing from one moment to the next. He wouldn’t vanish for three months without telling anyone. And he was not the kind of guy who'd back down in the face of what was really legal blackmail. People should be alarmed.

Yeah, he didn’t share a lot, but he wasn’t that secretive. He was just precise about everything he did or didn’t want to do. Even his handwriting was precise; you could read every word without question while mine was hard as hell to figure out. But there was no suggestion of him making any plans or not being able to handle the situation over the DA’s accusations. At least, I didn’t think so.

Of course, what that reminded me of how I knew very little about him. I didn’t know if he had a lover. I didn’t know how he made a living. I didn’t know what kind of food he liked or what his goals were or anything. Even his problems with the DA were shrugged off with a simple text message. It made me feel...I dunno...lost and confused...and, to be honest, dismissed. Like I couldn’t be trusted. And yet, he’d sent me a key and his security code and a cryptic message that didn’t specifically ask me to do anything, expecting me to do something.

“Shit, he and Tone’re almost twins,” I muttered. Maybe I should call him to find out how Uncle Owen thought. Yeah, that'd work great and -- .

Flashing lights rolled up behind me and I was beckoned over. Which didn’t make any sense. I wasn’t speeding, and I hadn’t even passed a traffic light. And since this was a rental car, I could be pretty sure all the lights worked. So what was going on?

I glanced around. We were in the middle of nowhere, with no traffic. Street lights still off. Me, alone in a place I didn’t know. Shit. I flashed back to that night that motherfucking Deputy Sheriff, Nussewald, set me up. Busted me on a bullshit charge. Chucked me in jail for a year and a half. Fucked up my life. And all because I made his “favorite cousin” own up to damaging a city-owned sedan.

What that showed me was, cops’ll use a bogus traffic stop as an excuse to get at you, if they want you. But why would they be doing that with me? I’d only just got here. The first thing my paranoid fantasies settled on was, they were watching Dion’s home. But why? I hadn’t messed with anybody, yet.

Except those two cops at Uncle Owen’s. Oh, holy fucking shit. Here it was – those cops were getting some back, from me. This was going to be the same situation as with Nussewald. I could just feel it.

Oh, shit. Oh, shit. I couldn’t hand that, again. Shit. I’d kill somebody if they tried that with me, again.

I’d fucking kill somebody.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

So much for my Facebook Ads...

I set up two ads on Facebook -- 1 for "The Lyons' Den", 1 for "Bobby Carapisi - The Full Novel" -- and while each of them has gotten hundreds of "likes", it doesn't appear to have made a bit of difference in sales. In fact, from what I can see off Amazon, LD's sales are down, while BC just chugs along at its usual pace. Oh well. I tried.

Didn't make any difference that I got some good reviews on Amazon and GoodReads. Oh, they make me feel good, and mitigate against some of the very negative ones I've gotten for BC. I guess I'm more of a niche writer than I thought.

I'm still ticked about what happened with OT. I've been trying to replicate what I did on it as I was working my way through, but it doesn't have the light touch I think the lost file had. It read clumsy, to me. Of course, I may be just overly-critical and too-fondly remembering what might have been facile work, but it's irritating.

I watched "Silver Linings Playbook" instead of writing, this evening. I'm having trouble with a bill collector who thinks my name is Kevin Sullivan, so I'm sending him a registered letter telling him, basically, to fuck off or else. Anybody want to take bets all of a sudden, after he gets my letter, the name of the party he's looking for is actually "Kyle"? Fortunately, even though my finances are squirrelly, I am current with everything and have nothing for anyone to go chasing me for.

Probably not a good idea to watch the movie, though. I didn't like it. I finished it, but I didn't believe a moment of it, and for the life of me cannot understand how Jennifer Lawrence even got nominated, let alone how she won. The script was awkward, had a ludicrous setup for the ending, and it avoided some scenes that I would have thought were indispensable -- like showing Tiffany lie to Pat, to his face, to get him to do the dance competition. Plus David O Russell kept going for shots that made no sense to me.
At least Bradley Cooper is easy on the eyes. Not a deep actor, but...aw, who cares? The damn thing got made; that's what really counts. All else is just sour grapes.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Some of "...Owen Taylor"

I flew to LAX and rented a small car. I still could’ve driven -- it’s only 1200 miles -- but I wanted to be back by Sunday and besides, the car I’d bought for around town was crap. That’s why Tone borrowed his dad’s Chrysler for the out of town trips; it was brand new. I could’ve leased a car, but I really hadn’t expected to stay so long.

Tone wasn’t easy about me going, but I still couldn’t get him to tell me what was up. He just kept saying he was fine, which was bullshit; I could tell by how careful he was being in his words. But I figured since his next probation appointment wasn’t for another week – though if all went well, he might not even need to go – and since Fernandez was handling negotiations with the AG, I could be gone for five days. I knew Fernandez’d come to me, first, once he had a deal he was happy with, and that wouldn’t happen till Monday, at the earliest. So Tone had no reason to be so...hell, so quiet about the whole damn thing. But that’s just like him. Sends out his signals and it’s up to you to figure out what the hell they mean. The little shit.

But I had to find out about Uncle Owen. He’d backed me up so many times, I owed him at least a fly-by. So I headed out on the cattle car line and arrived just before ten, in the middle of one of their rare cold snaps.

It’s a hundred miles from LAX to Palm Springs, which took a good three hours thanks to LA’s non-stop stop-and-go traffic and people who don’t know what it means to watch the road or care about the other people on the freeway. By the time I reached Uncle Owen’s condo, I’d avoided getting sideswiped twice, nearly been rear-ended once, and I’d definitely been cut off forty-seven times. Meaning, I was ready to start ripping heads off.

It was the same place I’d been to when I was out here, the last time – Playa Royale. The Queen’s Beach. Too perfect. It’s a complex of twelve tan, stucco townhouses lining the top of a rocky hill. You had to work your way up a winding private road to get to a security gate that opened into a cul-de-sac, and there stood three two-story townhouses to the left side; five three-story ones to the right, with another four three-story structures crowded around the circle at the end of the drive. Covered parking was behind the shorter buildings while the taller ones had built-in garages. From Palm Valley Boulevard, it looked a Moorish castle. And you want to talk about having the high ground? They all had fantastic views of Palm Springs and the wind farms, not to mention a desert that went on forever.

This wan not my idea of a comfortable place to live; I’m a trees and streams kind of guy. But...I didn’t live here; my uncle did, and he’d always made sure it was damn well-kept, not just in trash pickup but in repairs, so that’s what I expected to find. Instead, two of the units had “For Sale” signs in front and another one looked deserted. It had broken windows and the stucco was cracked.

Turns out the numbers he put on his note were the code for the security gate – his birthdate. The gate swung open and I slowly drove in. Uncle Owen lived in a two-story place, so I pulled around back to find his sheltered parking space empty. In fact, no one was around. No cars. No nothing. It was almost like a ghost town.

I checked the back door; it was locked. I tried the key he’d sent me, but no-go. And it wasn’t to his front door, either. Shit, then why’d he send it to me?

No one answered the doorbell. I peeked in through a mail slot and saw a massive pile of envelopes and fliers, but the blinds were closed and it was too dark to see anything except there was still furniture inside. The complex was watched over by a security company, but no number accompanied its signs. I finally called Matt.

“What’s that management company you mentioned?” I asked.

“Palmetto Properties,” he said, then gave me the address.

I Googled it on my phone. It was just up Palm Canyon, so I headed over.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Free your mind...

...And the rest will do back-flips to make it all right. I had the ticket so went to see it --
...and loved it. Caught all the references to the TV show and previous movies (including one that was really at the wrong time for the emotion, but I could understand why). Benedict Cumberbatch oversold it a little, but that worked. I'm no longer anti-Chris Pine in any way. And Zachary...oh, Zachary...I am SO glad I referenced your Spock in "The Lyons' Den". I felt very Tad when I saw you in uniform.

(If you don't understand the reference, buy and read the fucking book...but here's a hint...)

Still gots some attitudes from earlier, today. BUT...as I was waiting for the show to begin, it hit me as to what VoOT is all about and why it happens and the reasons for Jake to be involved. Reasons that extend beyond blood or family. Glad I had paper with me.

So I'm feeling better. And I'm already thinking I'll buy both of the J J Abrahms Star Treks on DVD, once this one comes out. By then I hope to be back in control of my financial situation.

Ha! Dream on.

Oh, and uh...sweet dreams are also made of these...

Freak out

I lost everything I did on OT after 12:30pm, yesterday. I was working on it in Word as my car got inspected. When that was done, I did a save and also put it on a thumb drive. I do that all that time. Then when I got home, I got back to work on OT with no problem and went through a couple more chapters. And saved it 4-5 times while working. All on my laptop. It looked fine when I shut down, last night, but when I went to find it, today...nothing. The file is gone. Completely.

I dug through every other file I had on my desktop. Nothing. Checked the trash. Nothing. Looked into "recent items." Nothing. I had to reload it from my thumb drive.

What makes this crazy is, I was doing a Word doc of the characters and had forgotten to put that in the file so left it on my desktop...and still was there when I fired up my laptop, today. So I was able to reconstruct some of what I'd done off that and off the handwritten notes I'd been making.

But now I'm spooked. That was hours worth of work and I'm still not completely back to where I was, and I've already bought an online ticket to see "Star Trek". I'm tempted to let it go and keep focused on this...but the damn thing's over $11 and no refunds. I dunno. Maybe I need to break my brain from this crap and hope that helps me figure out what the hell happened.

Carli...if I find out you had something to do with this, your names IS changing to Kali.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Carli and Jake

I'm going through what I've already written on "...Owen Taylor" and working up a character list as I summarize each chapter. It's a busy little story; good thing Jake's there to keep everything in order.

Thing is, Carli's not giving up. She's still pushing aspects of her story at me. And she finally convinced me to watch "Kill Bill", both parts. I put it on my Netflix roster. She also reminded me of a Truffaut film I saw years ago -- "The Bride Wore Black", starring Jeanne Moreau. That was about a woman whose husband is shot as they're exiting the church after their wedding, and she takes revenge on the men who did it.

Thing is, it was an drunken accident. A stupid one worthy of intentional manslaughter charges, but was not a deliberate murder. Yet she destroys each man's life, even setting herself up to be arrested and put in jail so she can get to one of them. It's really pretty chilling.

I hear Tarantino swears he's never seen the film, but I find that unlikely. He used to work in a video store in Santa Monica that was famous for its selection of DVDs and videos, and he always said, "I didn't go to film school, I went to films." So...I guess I'll find out if he was influenced by it with "Kill Bill".

But Jake's strong enough to keep Carli back till he's done. And what I've gone through, so far, is pretty solid. I even named a pro-gay organization -- Gays And Lesbians Against Injustice And Targeting of Homosexuals, AKA: GALIATH -- and even a possible bank -- Gay and Lesbian Federal Union of Credit, Universal. Work that one out for yourself.

But Carli added a gay aspect to CK, out of nowhere, that adds to the meaning of the story. The bitch. I got a feeling this is going to be an ongoing battle. Pissed off gay man against pissed off straight woman.

What fun.

Friday, May 17, 2013

I been life lesson'd...


When I was in LA, I went to Loma Linda to talk with a guy who liked my writing and projects and wanted to look into making something. It turned out to be another bit of hot air; I guess I've lost my ability to suss that out, since I left the West Coast. But I did take the chance to go to Palm Springs (above) for "The Vanishing of Owen Taylor", because it's set there and I needed the visual to make sure I had things right. I then went to Riverside and checked out the courthouse area, since Jake has to go there. I found some things had to be changed while others worked okay.

Then I put it aside because I got my inner buzz going on writing some low-budget scripts and selling them to places like Troma and Asylum for whatever piddly amounts they offer. It'd be a way to bring in cash and get some things made, even if they were straight to video. Pulled together a dozen ideas, including reworking a few I'd already written.

I started out with "Carli Kills" because I could set that in four locations in an unnamed part of the desert that covers so much of the Southwest. Had it all planned out. She's out for revenge. Meets a guy who helps her. Things go too far. But she triumphs in the end...albeit with damage and the possibility of a franchise. A sort of anti-heroine out to rid the world of pond scum that's taken the shape of men and women.

This is where the life lesson comes in. Once I started working on it, and Carli got to talking to me...and Zeke joined in...within a week all dreams of simplicity and any idea of just dashing the story off vanished. Completely. Moments began showing up that you just cannot put on film. Moments that reminded me more of torture porn, though at least mine was about something more than just finding scary ways to hurt people before you kill them...in my mind, anyway.

You see, we're not talking "Hostel" or "Saw", here (which, to be honest, were sort of my templates, with a good dash of Wes Craven). We're talking Dante's "Inferno" and Milton's works of heaven and hell and the "eye for an eye" kind of tragedy that drives people to madness. And I couldn't keep it out. Carli developed into a near archangel gunning for Armageddon, when the innocent and the guilty are ripped to shreds. And Zeke became her only contact with humanity. Which threw my whole story off.

Nobody would have bought this script. Not even if I got the probable budget down to $150K. I finally got it through my thick skull that I'd just be writing another screenplay meant to go nowhere. I've got too many of those, already.

So...today after work, I dug back into VoOT. It's got a viciousness underlying it, but one that works within the parameters of the story. And which I'm leavening with some humor, dammit. Jake's got a wicked sense of fun in this one; mixing that with his "no bullshit" attitude should be interesting, at least. I'm going to give him full rein on it.

But the plans I had when I returned from LA were of the nonsense variety...again. Story of my life lessons.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Is that light at the end of the tunnel?

Or just a train headed for me? I've spent the last couple of days lost in a headache that's just now beginning to go away, so haven't been able to do much of anything as regards writing or thinking clearly or even watching a movie or reading. Man...I'm feeling my age, right now.

But the headache's slowly drifting off and the fog is beginning to disburse. And right now the only person who seems to be talking to me is Jake, from "...Owen Taylor". David started to, from "David Martin", but his story is being read by a nine year-old girl so I'm waiting for her verdict to see if this is clear enough and ready to continue with.

Jake, however, is doing his nudging. "Check out what you've done so far, buddy. See if you can get it finished and out there. I'm ready for the fight." I think I'll oblige him. The story's 60% done, if I remember right.

CK, however, has become darkness, incarnate. I don't know if I can do what the story wants done in a script. I may have to shift it to book form. You can get away with in a lot more in a novel than you can in a film.

I think the classic example is Stephen King's "Misery". It was made into a movie with Kathy Bates (who won the Oscar) and James Caan, adapted by William Goldman. The story is about a woman so obsessed with a character in a novel, when the author kills that character off, she goes nuts, kidnaps him and forces him to write her back in.

In the book, Kathy's character chops off James Caan's character's feet so he can't try to escape from her, again. Goldman loved that scene, but Rob Reiner, the director, changed it to her breaking his ankles. Goldman hated the idea...until he saw the film and realized Reiner was right -- showing her maiming the man would have been far too violent for the movie audience and would have killed any sympathy for her character.

That didn't make sense to me until now. Carli wants to do some things that will, quite simply, be wrong. And I'm talking about a lot worse than cutting the tattoos off a living man, but by causing the death of someone innocent of any wrongdoing. And doing it deliberately so she could get at the men she's after.

It reminds me of stories that came out of Russia, after Chechen rebels had taken over a school and were threatening to kill the teachers and kids. The army went in and killed the rebels...even though it meant killing a number of the kids. They saved most of them, but they accepted the others' death as necessary to keep the rebels from achieving their goals. The same thing happened when Chechens took over a theater audience; over a hundred hostages died when the army took the theater back (using gas and bullets), but several hundred more were saved. Same thing with a hospital. Since then, the Chechens haven't tried that kind of stuff...so maybe it was worth it; maybe it wasn't. I don't know.

That's the kind of thing Carli's aiming for. I halfway think I should change her name to Cali, after the Hindu goddess associated with death and destruction. The name Kali means "black", but has also come to mean "force of time". Today, she's seen as the goddess of time and change, which can be dark and violent, and can also mean annihilation.

In other words -- one spooky-assed bitch. And that's my Carli.

Sometimes I scare me.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Something is wrong...

I don't know what it is, yet, but I couldn't sleep, last night, and I've had one of my near-headaches all day, today, that's now migrating into my back. That usually means somewhere in the jumble of my brain an issue is having trouble resolving itself and is demanding attention. But like a friggin' cat, it won't tell me what it is. I've got to sort through the strum-und-drang for myself to figure it out.
I took this photo by accident as I was coming out of India Grill, last month, and it gives the perfect illustration of my thoughts, right now. Ostensibly, there's not a very interesting image there, but being warped and hidden behind the glare of the world gives it an undue emotion and sensibility. And makes my eyes hurt.

I think I'll just go sit under a hot shower for the next six years. Maybe that'll help release the snake coiled around my neck.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Zeke's spiritual home...

Trolltunga, Hardangerfjord, Norway

Trolltunga is one of the most spectactular scenic cliffs in Norway...situated about 1100 meters above sea level, hovering 700 metres above lake Ringedalsvatnet in Skjeggedal. The view is breathtaking. The hike goes through high mountains, takes 8-10 hours in total (to Trolltunga and return) and the ascent is about 900 meters.The hike is usually possible to do from mid June, depending on when the snow melts in the mountains. Normally one can hike to Trolltunga until mid September.

It's located on the splotch of tan to the left of the Ø in Sørfjord. There's a small town at the very tip of the Sørfjord -- Odda -- which would be spectacular to see unto itself.

I had a great aunt Irene who went to Norway to research the family tree -- I'm 1/4 Norwegian on my mother's side -- and she'd talk of the beauty of this world, but I never really appreciated how gorgeous it could be till I saw this image.

This is what fires Zeke. He's got the blood of Vikings in him, and it keeps him going. On top of it, as I was looking into this, I heard a single on KCRW -- "Soulless" by The Service. It fits the whole feel of "Carli Kills"...the direction it seems to be going. Deeper and deeper into film noir.

I think the perfect movie from that genre was "Out of the Past" (1947) with Robert Mitchum, Kirk Douglas, and Jane Greer. But that one's gonna be patty-cake compared to CK, if this keeps going the way I think it is. (NOTE: Don't watch the TOQATM review if you haven't seen the movie; its surprises are amazing and he gives some of them away.)

BTW, my aunt built up a family tree back to 1655. I have a copy. I should get it mounted and framed.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Gotta spew...

Still in avoidance as regards CK. Went looking for a good model to use as David for DM and came up zeroes in Shutterstock and Fast Foto. Nothing but the same crap poses over and over and over.

So I'm blowing off the weekend and just spewing my (very) liberal politics mixed with some artwork I'm going to do, in acrylic.

I found this image a while ago on a website, and it fits perfectly with the feeling I get when I read the comments sections in the news...and in reaction to my own comments. One massive drawback to the internet is, it lets the scum take over because they like to scream and get a reaction from people. So they say vile things -- like execute 17 year olds who've caused the death of someone, and desecrate the grave of a man who's accused of being a terrorist, and all Muslims are evil and hate us and crap. They despise abortion and Islam, but don't mind guns slaughtering hundreds of children every year. It's sickening.
On top of it all is the upswing in anti-gay attacks all over the country, including 2 in NYC within the last week, and how more "christian" leaders are using gays to scare their flocks into opposing any rights for us, let along the right to marry. Brian Fischer of the American Family Association (or something like that) even blamed the financial collapse on gays. That's on a par with Pat Robertson blaming 9/11 on us...12 years ago. No surprise we're still considered legitimate targets for anger.

I lay a lot of the blame on the GOP, with Democrats sharing some of it for not really pushing back against Republican insanity. And I mean insanity. Darrell Issa, a congressman from California who's been linked to auto fraud and who bankrolled a quasi-legal coup against a democratically elected governor, has spent 4 1/2 years trying to find something to impeach Obama over, and has come up zeroes. But he's still at it with Benghazi and now the IRS stuff.

Texas elected a certifiable nutcase to the senate -- Ted Cruz, who cannot make a coherent argument to save his life but sure as hell gets paid attention to, even when condescending to Diane Feinstein over gun violence...who was a lot nicer to him in her response than I would have been. He's being considered as a candidate for President, for god's sake.

I cannot tell you how many gay people I know who tell me they don't support all of the GOP platform (esp. as regards gays) but they're better at managing the debt and keeping taxes down. Maybe once upon a time they were, but this chart clearly shows that since Reagan, they've been blowing taxpayer money left and right, which will eventually lead to massive tax increases.

Even under Clinton, the ratio of debt to GDP was going down, but did the GOP care? No, they impeached him for lying about cheating on his wife. Under Bush, it shot back up, but did the GOP care? No, they handed the keys to the treasury over to the likes of the Koch brothers and Haliburton...until Bush 2 collapsed the economy. Then everything became the Democrats' problem and the liberals' fault.

I'm not crazy about how Obama backstabbed liberals and put us down as "the professional left", but it's not his fault tax revenues go down when an economy is in recession, and unemployment claims and need for food stamps and other means to keep people alive go up. It's economics 101. But you wouldn't know that from the GOP. It's all Democrats tax and spend" and idiots listen to them.

If you really you think for 2 seconds that Republicans have the best interests of Americans at heart, look at the list below. That's today's GOP. Anything to make Obama and the Democrats look bad; nothing to help the people who seriously need it. And this is just in Washington. You go to the state level, it gets even worse.


If al Qaeda really wanted to destroy America, they'd put all their resources into electing more Republicans to office. The US would be toast in less than a decade.

Rant over. Now I'm gonna go paint.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

It's war...

Wow...what a fun day. Carli's out to take the story over and run with it. She's revealed she was a non-com in the Army and has been to Afghanistan, so she knows how to fight. Use a gun. Use a knife. Plot strategy. And detach herself, emotionally, from her enemy and his well-being. She's got a goal, and she's gonna get there, even if it means using Zeke.

At the same time, Zeke is pushing back. Not so much fighting as being insanely Zen. He's been in prison. He knows what hate and anger can do. He's done it. He's become a rock against Carli's hard place (and I may use that phrase with ALL its sexual innuendo in the story). He's become the antagonist, but for good, because he knows Carli's quest will destroy her...and he will do anything to prevent that.

Suddenly I have no idea how to dramatize this. How to write it. Not as a script. I might be able to as a book...but that's not what I set out to do. I wanted to write something fast and cheesy I could sell to Troma or some other straight-to-video company, who could then do what they wanted with it...so long as they paid me in cash. That idea is now in the toilet.

I spent all day trying to sort it out in my brain, and did all sorts of crap to keep from getting freaky over it. Made potato pancakes for brunch (using a recipe I heard on NPR, once) then cooked a tuna casserole. I defrosted and cleaned my fridge. Tried to watch "How Green Was My Valley" but just couldn't handle the sweetness and decency of it. Wrote down notes Carli shoved in my mind. Posted reviews of three of my books on their FaceBook pages. Anything but seriously focus on the script...because I'm lost with it.

Should I start a different horror script? Something with a cheesier premise? I've got one dealing with ancient Aztecs on an island off the coast of Mexico using college kids on Spring Break as sacrifices to the gods. I saw a story about a ghost town in Argentina that used to be underwater but now that the lake's level has dropped is available to see, again. Couple of ghosts and some sightseers and there's another one.

Only now I'm spooked (pun not intended). If I get into those scripts, will the same thing happen? I've got so many other stories I want to focus on; I don't need more. Jeez.

I dunno...maybe I'm just not disciplined enough to make it go the way I want. Big surprise there.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Recent trip to Seattle...

I'm on a ferry headed back to town after trying to find a steak house I'd heard of in Bremerton, but nobody knew anything about. Instead I had a decent pulled pork sandwich at a restaurant near the ferry and damn near missed the boat because my server was so friggin' slow.
Hasn't changed much since the first time I went, 4 years ago...no, wait...I went nearly 8 years back, the first time. In November 2005, to accept an award for "Bugzters", my family film script. I came in 2nd, and got a check for $300, which paid for half the trip from LA. I also got a certificate, and it hangs on the wall by my desk.

That was the script I tried to make into an animation film and nearly lost a couple of friends over it. It was good as it was, for live action, but I thought I could do what was necessary to make it work in a different format...and found I couldn't. I liked my characters as they were, and the demands for changes were at the point of being ludicrous.

That was also when I started realizing, no matter how good your script is, most people in the film business will want to change it because "it's not good enough." It's never good enough. I finally got to where I understood the only way something of mine would get made is if I connected with someone who a.) would not take no for an answer and b.) believed in my writing enough to tell a producer, "I don't care what you think; it's perfect as is and we're making it as is, and we'll make a killing by doing that." Meaning someone who was passionate about the project. I was passionate about my writing, but I have never had the ability to instill confidence in people about my abilities. I'm still far too open to thinking other people's opinions have more validity than mine, and that is deadly in any business like Hollywood.

I took this as the ferry exited the inlet and headed back across Puget Sound. I like the composition and the feeling of it. Like the ferry's trail curving across and around. Like the calmness of it...and hint of isolation and danger.
Seattle's got a lot going for it, and I'm at home with the whole atmosphere of the place...but I still couldn't live there. It's so tight and hard to get around. And would really be no different from Buffalo, right now. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Outlined...

I have 5 more pages worked up between Zeke and Carli...leading up to Zeke getting the hell beat out of him by the sheriff. It's pretty rough and entails Zeke finally opening up to Carli...and I halfway wonder if she's doing what I almost think she's doing -- setting him up. I'm loathe to go that direction, but she is a terror in this script.

I think of "Buffy..." and how she was strong and conflicted but good at heart and in soul. A spoiled Valley Girl who became a heroine and role model...for a while. She did what she had to do, including send Angel to hell. And she lived with it. I think that's what's so great about that show -- because there's nothing else like it on TV. I tried watching that Cajun vampire thing, "True Blood", but it was more interested in showing asses and tits than in decent storytelling. And I stopped "Twilight" halfway in because I could not handle how stupid it was, not to mention Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattison(?) grating on me like nails on a chalk board.

But Carli's not turning out like either of them. In fact, she's not at all in-between. She's more like another female lead I wrote, in screenplay form -- Claire in "Brand of Justice", who gets so focused on protecting her family, she damn near gets herself killed and destroys the life she's carefully built up. She even drives away the man she loves.

Which reminds me of Antony...and Alec...and Curt...and Niko, in my revenge script, "Kazn". Even Eric, in "Bobby Carapisi". All of whom learn that revenge feeds on whomever it wants, be they innocent or guilty. But at the end, they all have an idea they've stepped over boundaries and become too close to animals. I don't think Claire will do that, if it goes that far...and that makes me uncomfortable.

Of course, rewatching "The Virgin Spring", I get an idea of where the idea about vengeance comes from. The father even attacks the young brother of the men who raped and murdered his daughter, a kid who was there but did not even try to participate in what happened...and is wracked with guilt over it. But the father is more beast than human by that point.

I guess that's my theme for my work in general -- vengeance is a wild beast that doesn't care who it feeds upon; innocent, guilty, they're all food for its anger and hate.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Cut clean and create chaos...

Trimmed a bit out of CARLI KILLS...and a new possible title is rearing its head -- THE FOURTH MAN. Which I'm fighting because it's too oblique and murder-mystery-ish. But Carli and Zeke haven't weighed in on it, yet, so we'll see what happens then.

Anyway, part of my process is to overwrite and then trim down and mix bits of dialog together and find ways to hint to the actor what they're supposed to be feeling. I used to say it, flat out. I got to where I pulled back from that but never got rid of it, completely. I still have some in this script...but it's mainly to tell the story to whoever's reading it.

I'm not going the Shakespeare route where I write nothing but dialog and you don't find out that someone's got a knife until he pulls it in act 2. I want people to see that he's got one in the first act, which adds to the tension.

I think I've indicated pretty well, so far, that Carli's got the hots for Zeke...and he's more than interested in her. And they want to let things play out. No matter what.

I get scared when that last sentence rears its head in one of my stories. But you have to let the reality of the story make itself known, no matter how painful. It took me almost a year to accept that Bobby was going to kill himself in BC. I knew how and when and the image I wanted to end on...but first I had to grieve for him. And that took some time. And added to my sense of psychosis.

In CK, my ending is aiming for a horror-style...and I've got a feeling it's going to be hard to put over. Like the lynching in KILLING MOON. That was honest. Was required by the story. And everyone who's read it wants that taken out because of the political implications of it. And I won't.

It's like the title of HTRASG -- it's the right title for the book, and I wouldn't change it. And it's gotten me into some trouble. Hell, it's gotten friends of mine into trouble. But any other title would be...just...wrong.

I guess I just needed to remind myself that I can still be stubborn about my work when I need to be. It is what it is, even when people berate me for it. It hurts to get a negative reaction...but the fact that my work affected someone to that extent is good. It means I'm not being a wuss.

I hope.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Odd memory resonance...

I used to watch this sit-com called "Good Times", about an African-American family living in a Chicago project. The father (John Amos) was a taxi driver. I think the mother (Esther Rolle) worked as maid. They had three kids -- the youngest was political and intense, the middle one a girl with common sense, and the oldest was JJ, an aspiring artist famous for saying "Dy-no-mite!" And they were just trying to make it from one day to the next.

They were like the "anti-Jeffersons", who'd moved on up to a deluxe apartment in the sky...until the idiot producers fired John Amos and had him killed at the beginning of Season 4. There wouldn't be another positive portrayal of a complete black family on TV until "The Cosby Show", years later.

Anyway, one episode had Esther worried about her best friend, Winona, who was a party girl well into her thirties. Esther tried to set her up with a guy to settle down with because she didn't want her to wind up alone and lonely. And at the end of the show, Winona said, "Honey, I may be alone, but I am never lonely."

It's funny that I'm remembering that, because I haven't seen it since it aired back in the middle Seventies. (Revealing my age, here.) But that line always stuck with me and I felt it was right...until I left LA, this last time. Suddenly I've had some serious attacks of loneliness.

I'm sure it's because I had time enough to see some people I hadn't seen in too long. And reminded myself of why I have them as friends. I don't let myself get very open with many people for a whole host of reasons, but once I have made friends with someone, I'm loathe to let go. Even when I get pissed off at them.

But living here in Buffalo...where I don't know anyone, really...I'm feeling the isolation. And it's shifting into CK. I just finished writing a bit between Zeke and Carli where it turns out his family disowned him because he went to prison. And he's attached himself to Max's group because he needs to belong to something. I don't remember ever having something like that in any of my books or scripts. I come close with Jake and Antony...but that's a love thing with Jake. Some creatures mate for life and he's one, no matter how hard Antony fights it.

But Zeke...he's been cast adrift. And it hurts him. He dreams about being on a boat in the middle of the ocean...with nothing but stars overhead and water all around. Even though he's proud of his Viking blood and he's strong enough to keep the peace between Max and others, he points out they roved in packs, like wolves, and never were alone until they were dead and set out on a burning boat as their funeral pyre.

This has shaken me up, a little. I think I've lost the drive to make this quick and cheap and easily sellable. I like Zeke and Carli. I want to do right by them.

Shit...why can't I just toss some crap off and be done with it?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Interesting reactions to my work...

A couple of my books -- "How To Rape A Straight Guy", "Rape In Holding Cell 6" and "Bobby Carapisi - The Complete Novel" -- have been getting some interesting comments in a Goodreads.com reading group.

People either love HTRASG or loathe it. I actually had one reader tell me I should never write anything ever, again, thanks to this book...and not nicely. However, a lot of other readers loved it or were shaken by it. Consensus seems to be that I made an evil man understandable and someone worth caring about...and they're shaken at how they felt for Curt. Cool.

RIHC6v1&2 has been getting more consistent praise, but not to the same level as HTRASG. It's more, good but not as good as his first book. Which I don't mind. Antony's story is a bit more far-fetched and James Bond-ish, in the second volume. But they still reacted to Antony's growing psychosis and his love for Jake.

What surprised me was the reaction of one guy to BC-Complete. I know he bought it through Kindle, and is probably the one person who returned it. He gave it one star and dismissed it, completely. That stung, because I don't think he got that the story was being told by three different men. Meanwhile the other person who read it gave it four stars, even though she didn't read the full book. That feels weird. I mean, I appreciate the rating, but I feel it's a bit of a cheat, like I didn't really earn it.

I read a book that was highly recommended by many in this group and didn't like it very much,so didn't finish. But I didn't rate it, either; I didn't feel that'd be fair.

Still...what I find especially interesting is NOBODY has rated "The Lyons' Den" or "NYPD Blood" on this site. And those are my most mainstream books. Maybe my niche is "in-your-face-asshole-ishness" and when I try to be kinder and gentler, I get boring.

What I am taking away from this is how honest I can be with Brendan in "Place of Safety". Even confrontational in the story. It's better for me to let that run than to try and sanitize it.

Or maybe I just joined forces with an army darkness who only appreciate death, destruction, and damned mean people.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Not quite right

It helps putting my work up on my blog. I then look at it with a different eye, for some reason, and what I posted yesterday doesn't really make any sense. It's also clumsy. I don't mind Carli being a little bitchy, but Zeke's coming across as weak. So I reworked it and hope this is better.

I also changed up the opening that I posted a couple weeks back. Someone took photos of the 4 men raping Carli's sister and posted them on the internet. She knows who 3 of the guys are and thinks Zeke is the 4th.
-------------------------------

EXT. CANTINA MADRIZA -- NIGHT

Zeke stops Carli by her car.

ZEKE
Lady, are you crazy?

CARLI
A little.

ZEKE
No, a lot. That guy you just spit on is Max Castillo. You don't wanna fuck with him.

CARLI
I won't. And he knows it.

ZEKE
You don't get it. He wants to know your name, now.

CARLI
I told you -- .

ZEKE
Bullshit. Nobody's named Anastasia.

She gets close to him. Turns up the sex wattage.

CARLI
Zach...are you suggesting I’m a liar?

ZEKE
Why’re you calling me that?

CARLI
I overheard JJ say it -- .

ZEKE
Bullshit. Everybody calls me Zeke. What's your game?

CARLI
-- Nothing. I -- I just like you. Your type. Max can go fuck himself.

ZEKE
You really don't get it.

CARLI
Don't you like girls?

ZEKE
I don't like people who fuck with me.

CARLI
Is that why you’re helping him fuck me?

ZEKE
What do you think I am? I’m just giving you some advice -- he gets weird when he thinks he’s been dissed. So come in. Have a drink. Make it easy for everybody.

CARLI
If he's such a jerk, why do you stick with him?

ZEKE
Now you are fuckin’ with me. Shit.

He starts away, She grabs his back jeans pocket.

CARLI
Zeke -- I’ll come in if you invite me. For yourself.

ZEKE
Aw, for god’s sake -- what're you trying to prove? That you can get down and dirty with the little people? In case you hadn't noticed, I don't have a 401K or a yacht or any of that shit. I'm barely makin' it.

CARLI
I'm not like that. Believe me.

ZEKE
Yeah, right. And the second we’re inside, you'll fuck me up in front of him. Won't you? Just to prove you can.

CARLI
You've got a low opinion of women.

ZEKE
-- Y’know, you really ought to wait till you know what everything's about before you start pushing buttons.

CARLI
What makes you think I don’t?

ZEKE
You didn’t even know my name. And I bet you never heard that the last guy who fucked with Max lost his ears. Me, I like mine where they are. And I like everything about you stayin' where it is. Okay?

Carli laughs -- yanks Zeke's shirt open -- writes her phone number around his left tit.

CARLI
You tell Max that if he doesn’t have the balls to approach me, himself, he doesn’t have the balls to fuck me. Whereas, I think you do. So here's my number. Give it to him, if you want. Or don’t.

She gets in her car. Drives away.

ZEKE
Anastasia Belasco. What bullshit.

He pulls his shirt open. Looks at the phone number. Chuckles.

ZEKE (CONT'D)
Shit, Max, she was on the rag. That was the problem. But I got her name. Sure did.

He heads back into the bar.

INT. ISOLATED HOUSE -- NIGHT

Carli enters, pulls off the red wig and sits at the computer. She Googles ZEKE LINDSTROM.

A number of stories line up. She picks --

EZEKIEL LINDSTROM SENTENCED FOR ROBBERY, CAR THEFT, DRUG POSSESSION.

CARLI
His name's not Zachary. No wonder I couldn't find anything.
(reads)
Stole a car. Robbed a store. Drugs found on him. Eighteen years old. Sentenced to twelve years? Bet that was fun...

She links to another story.

CARLI (CONT’D)
(reads)
Released after six...wait, just a year ago!? Oh, Jesus, Carli, you stupid...he wasn’t part of it. Couldn’t have been. So who's the fourth one? Shit.

She keeps working at the computer.