Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Monday, April 30, 2012

Loopiness, laziness, more IF please.

I'm not feeling the writing mojo, tonight, so here's one last installment of "Inherent Flaws". This is in 1973, when things are starting to come to a head.


So a few days later, in spite of Marc’s warning, Lou and I were sitting in his car down the block on Broome Street, with a perfect view of the one and only revolving door. Cops and civil servants and all sorts of other people entered and exited, non-stop, none of them knowing or thinking or caring about what went on in there. He had this kick-ass-looking 35mm camera with a lens half a foot long on the seat between us. His sister had shown him how best to use it and he’d already focused on the door so it was ready to fire in a flash.

He was almost like this excited puppy as he said, “I had myself put on steady four to twelves, so I can sit here everyday. Carl didn’t like it much, but...”


“Carlo Pantucci.”

“Oh, okay.” Lou’s partner. I’d only met him once; didn’t really know him but he hit me as a guy who’s a lot like Bobby.

“He’s a good guy. Been together the last four months. Anyway, him and his wife’re still like newlyweds, so...”

“Tell him to make it last as long as he can,” I said, then I got back on track. “I can’t do change this week. I got three court -- well, two trials and a grand jury appearance going on. But next week, I’ll ask Bobby if he’ll do four-to-twelves with me so I can be here, too.”

“I can handle it till then.”

“No, no, no, Lou, don’t even think it.”

“C’mon, Vinnie, you think I need my hand held?”

“I just don’t want you here alone. Let’s start this next week so I can be with you...or better yet, I’ll see if Marc knows somebody who can get us a temporary assignment for a month or two. Just don’t let anybody in on it.”

“Ah,” he whispered in that Kung-fu style. “Tell no one; do everything, grasshopper. Everything we allow you to do.”

Making light of it. That pissed me off, so I grabbed his arm, suddenly scared for him.

“Lou, listen up -- this ain’t a game. I lived around guys like this all my life and Marc gets it. You don’t. You can’t, not unless you’re Italian. This code -- it’s about more than just keeping quiet about what some cop does or what some wiseguy does. It’s about taking care of your family, and your brother’s family if you have to. And the families of those who work for you. Yeah, there’s bastards who pull shit, but they also take care of you ‘cause there’s rules and regulations to the code, and if you violate one little bit, you violate it all. I know what they can do -- what they will do if they have to. Because they’ll see you as going up against the family, and they turn into tigers when it comes to that. You don’t fuck with the family. You just -- you just don’t.”

“Then why’re you doing it?”

Bam, right between the eyes. He was right to wonder, because that’s what I was doing. I’d promised Ronnie I wouldn’t do this, all those years ago, but that is exactly what I was doing. I hadn’t really let myself think about that.

But then I saw my cousin, Fredo, crashed on that chair, his clothes messed up, needle in his arm, exactly like Aunt Mary found him with cops walking around and chit-chatting like he’s just another screwed-up junkie who got dumb about how much horse he could handle. And I heard her weeping in the next room. And I could see him being jumped at the door and held down by a couple of goons as they shot him up. And I could see the terror in his eyes as he realized what was gonna happen and how he fought it as they held him down and let him drown in that crap. And then were heartless enough to leave him like that for his family to see. That’s what this was leading to. It wasn’t just that he was killed; it’s that they spit on my aunt...on my family by leaving him like that. And there’s where the difference was -- junkies would’ve snuck the pure crap in on him and let him die on the floor. It was cops that did this, and that’s who I was after, not Ronnie or Rizo or Dante or anybody else.

“Because it’s those bastards,” I said, the words starting to spill out, “Velasquez, Kowalski, Moretti -- they aren’t family. No, what they’re doing is -- they’re hurting us -- all of us -- our families and how can a cop be involved in this? How can a cop be helping that? Helping assholes who don’t give a damn what they’re doing to families and people who’re part of their own? All for some quick cash and an easy-skater life. They aren’t even animals, those bastards. They’re a cancer. Cancer eating away at everything and not giving a damn that eventually they’ll kill what they’re feeding on and that’ll be the end of them, too. They’ll die along with the people they’re feeding off of, and they don’t care. All that matters is what’s happening now and the hell with tomorrow. It’s sick. It’s fucking sick.”

Lou looked at me, a bit wary. “Man, I don’t even want to think about how that’s messing you up.”

It took me a second to get back in control, then I said, “I’m just telling you, Lou -- don’t take any chances. Be as discreet as possible.”

“Buddy, I’m black,” he smirked, “so I can’t be anything but smooth as a breeze.”

“Cut it out! If it’s their ass on the line, they’d kill us both in a heartbeat if it’ll keep them out of jail.”

“Don’t try scaring me, Vinnie. I’ve been to Nam, and they were some killing motherfuckers, over there.”

“Then that should give you a fuckin’ idea what you’re up against! Ask Carlo; I hear he’s been in Nam, too.”

“I know! Okay? Shit.”

“Wait -- when WERE you in ‘Nam?”

“I joined the reserves when I was seventeen. Got deployed there for a year. Not cool.”

“You never said a word.”

“That’s ‘cause people think we’re all crazy, Viet Nam vets. And if word got around the street, it’d make things harder for me and Carl, both. So it stays in the closet.”

“Right, you said you were in the reserves. But you did two weeks in North Carolina?”

“To work in my own family. Pissed off a couple crackers, too. ‘Damn nigger in my unit’.”

“Shit, Lou!”

“Hey, I can use the word; you can’t. Okay?” And his smile was backed by some serious warning. I nodded. He grinned and said, “C’mon, I’ll drop you off at Court.”

Then he started the car and we pulled away, and I saw at least three of the people near that door watching us leave, probably wondering what we were up to, black guy and a white guy, sitting there for so long and talking so hard. Yeah, real smooth, that’s us.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

More of IF...1968, Vinnie's a cop

Now the problem with a lot of these parties was, after about ten minutes they’d break out the illegal powders and pills. Then girls in hip-huggers that barely covered their asses with hair down to their crack’d drop acid and start swaying and moaning and all that. Guys dressed the same way with hair almost as long would get coked up and manic. Then they’d lose all inhibitions. Needless to say, I got kissed by both sexes on more than one occasion. So long as that was all, I could handle it, but then this one guy grabbed my butt and I nearly punched him but Marc stopped me and said, “Just walk away.” Turned out that guy was the host and I later learned Marc was trying to find out who his connection was. If I’d hit him, Marc would’ve had to start from scratch.

So I walked and wound up in a bathroom with a blond goddess who was so high on something, she kissed me hard enough to draw blood then slipped her hand down my jeans and muttered, “Feels so good,” and went down on me. You know that old saying, “First time’s the best”? Darla’d never done that on I now had proof positive -- that saying was completely true.

Thing is, they all wanted me to join in with the drugs, when it was all I could do to keep from screaming “NYPD” the first couple times I saw it. So from that point on, soon as things started getting crazy at a party, I’d back into a corner and just watch, making sure I had a beer or a glass of something alcoholic in hand to look like I was doing what I wanted to do. And if a girl came up, I was fine. If a guy came up, I made like I was going to get another drink.

That’s how I met Catherine. We were in an old brownstone just after Christmas, in the East 60s. Some banker named Adam celebrating some deal, and Marc knew the guy from a year he spent at college. The place was done in the usual dark paint and black light and fluorescent posters in hundred-dollar frames on the walls with pillows and incense and stuff. The usual people were there -- self-satisfied intellectuals reading eastern sayings, girls with flowers painted on their cheeks and Indian beads hiding their breasts, everybody with hair so long you couldn’t tell he from she, half the time. Cigarette smoke and wine everywhere as sitar music alternated with The Doors and Jimi Hendrix. It descended into the usual chaos of pot and pills and punch spiked with God knows what and puking and screaming, so I grabbed a bottle of vino and hit for the roof.

It was cold and threatening to snow, but it felt clean and real. The lights of the city seemed to be looking down on me, as if they were asking, What the hell I was doing there -- I mean, other than trying to make lightning hit twice with some stoned chick and a blow job. I just sort of shrugged at them and sipped some of the wine straight from the bottle. How do you answer a question like that?

I had just about decided to split and catch a train back home when I noticed someone sitting in a folding chair off to one side, hidden in this fur coat that surrounded her face and barely reached the top of these white boots.

She held up a glass and asked, “Is that white or red?”

I had to look at the bottle to tell. “Red. Want some?”

“If you’re up for sharing.”

I slipped over and filled her glass then took another sip.

She smiled and said, “Do you always drink wine like it’s beer?”

I shrugged and said, “I’m not out to impress people. Besides, it tastes just as good this way as that.” And I nodded to her glass.

“May I try?” she asked, holding her hand out.

I handed the bottle over and she took a dainty sip, and I got a better look at her face now that it wasn’t hidden so much by the coat. Her features were almost pixie-like, with light blond hair and green eyes, and her lips were a soft pink.

She handed the bottle back, saying, “Not bad. Not the same, but close enough.”

“Ah, you like to let wine breathe.”

“Don’t you think it adds to the flavor?”

I shrugged. “Wine’s for drinking. Like beer. Like bourbon.”

“Simplicity. I like that, but it’s hard to achieve.”

I wasn’t sure where she was coming from, so I held out my hand and said, “Vinnie.”

She took it and smiled. “Catherine. Why aren’t you downstairs, Vincent? Or do you prefer Vinnie?”

“Told you -- not out to impress. And I’m not in the mood for crazy, tonight. You?”

“I’m not fond of parties.”

“Then why’re you here?”

“Adam asked me to come.”

“Friend of his?”

“Sister. Being supportive and all that.”

“Oh.” I took another sip of the wine then said, “Y’know, I used to work in a bank. When I got out of high school. Never struck me as the kind of place that’d make the kind of deals that’d warrant this kind of party.”

“Adam’s with a private investment bank. What do you do for a living, now?”

“I’m a cop,” I said, the word popping out before I could think. I cast her a sideways glance. She was smiling.

“Then it’s no surprise you don’t want to be downstairs,” she said. “The happenings must drive you mad.”

“Some, not all.” Then I cast her another glance. “But you know, there’s a coffee shop around the corner, on Lexington. It’s warmer than up here, and I’d be up for a cup.”

She eyed me then stood up, and that coat whispered up legs that went all the way to last Thursday, ending at this tiny mini that was immediately swallowed up by the fur.

“Lead the way,” she said.

I rose and found she was almost as tall as me. I glanced down at her legs. “You gonna be warm enough?”

“I’m wearing tights,” she said then glided towards the door.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Prologue to "Inherent Flaws"

It started at 240 Centre Street. Police headquarters, once upon a time. Middle of the night. Middle of winter. Middle of Lower Manhattan. Middle of everything around me going to hell. Streets empty because it’s too late. Line of cars parked along one side near this row of ugly brick buildings going two, three, five, seven stories up. Rickety fire escapes dripping down the front of the tallest one, like a cancer, making even its arched windows want to hide from it. Stores on the ground floor hidden behind rolling security panels. All silent and dark. Even here, the city’s never been safe.

My girl was parked right under one of those fire escapes. The roof down on her Caddy convertible, even though it’s close to snowing. You could smell it in the air. Smell her perfume. So beautiful. It’s like she wanted me to see her, wanted to make sure I knew I wasn’t alone. Put an ache in my heart to know that she cared so much, especially after all I’d put her through.

I shouldn’t of gone into the old HQ. Should’ve just got in that Caddy and let her drive me to my mom’s to change out my uniform, or...or home, or anyplace else but there. And I thought about it for half a second. It’s just, I didn’t realize how bad off I was. Didn’t realize that if I did go into that building, like I’d been doing all week at this time of night, the life I had would end. Completely. Totally. Forever.

But like a robot I started across the street. And once again, those old, baroque, snotty windows seemed to be glaring down on me like I was some piece of trash blowing past in the wind. They were in the process of shifting operations to the new building, a few blocks away, and I was glad. This damn thing takes up the whole narrow block, with its columns and half-hidden windows and sort-of balconies, and the iron railings along the sidewalk to keep you from dropping into the gullies that dipped down to the basement’s emptiness. Even the stupid dome on top make it look more like a capitol building than a place too old to work in the modern world, anymore, and would’ve added to the attitude except I heard bats squeaking in its friggin’ belfry overhead, invisible in the black, black sky.

It looked like what it was -- close to abandoned and going to trash. Nothing but a couple low-key, bare-bones offices left inside, one of them happily involving me. After that was done -- after I was done -- the city’d try to figure out what to do with the piece of crap. Maybe tear it down and sell the land. Not a bad idea, in my opinion.

Climbing the steps to the main doors wasn’t easy, thanks to the cracks and chips missing in them. So I began to shake and had to hold onto the banister. That meant I had to push through crumbled up bags and broken bottles and newspapers flapping against the posts. And that night, it seemed like half the lights were either busted or missing, making being there feel like a Hitchcock movie.

It was even older and darker, inside. More lights burned out. Trash on the floors. Shadows everywhere. The only guy around was this big brusque cop at the half-circle of a reception desk, like always. Would be till the last day. And like always, he didn’t bother to look up as I entered and said, “Hey,”

“Lombardini. How ya doin’?” was all he said.

“I -- I been better,” I said my voice cracking. I could hear it, even if he couldn’t. “But thanks. Been a long day. All these lights missin’ -- don’t maintenance care, anymore?”

He just grunted and kept working. He had a lamp on his desk so he was set. I sighed and staggered down a corridor, aiming for the lockers next to the office that was crushing my life. Finally began to notice how quiet it was, and how it seemed like nobody else was around. Had they already moved everybody over to the new place and not told me? That’d be crazy...but wouldn’t surprise me, not the way things’d gone the last couple days. Besides, I was lower than the lowest man on the totem pole, when it came to info sharing. So I kept on going.

I swear to you to this day, that corridor seemed to grow longer and darker as I went. And there were these shuffling sounds, fresh and new, echoing from everywhere. My breathing got sharp. My eyes darted about, wary. Why were so many fixtures missing light bulbs, completely? That didn’t make sense, unless they’d been removed. Deliberately. Make it harder to see into the darkness. Into the shadows. Perfect for an ambush.

I hesitated by the first door on the left. Undid the safety harness and checked my pistol then peeked into the area. Nothing but a couple rows of freestanding units meant just for the few people left in the place. It was so dark and dirty and empty and quiet, even my breathing seemed to echo.

Or was it mine I was hearing?

I started to shake more. I’d been doing that a lot, lately, once I’d realized what I’d got myself into. But no way was I backing down. I carefully slipped inside and crept past row after row of lockers, getting closer and closer to mine. I saw nothing. No one. Just shadows filling the room.

I was sweating now, even though the building was cold. I could actually see my breath whispering in and out, like it was trying to escape. They weren’t even bothering with the heat, anymore. I finally reached my locker and leaned against it, and looked down at my shaking hand...and saw a thin trail of blood whisper over its skin.

Aw, no -- no -- I’d been hit? I’d been shot? Dammit.

I almost fainted but caught myself by slamming my head against the locker. Twice. Again. It hurt, but I was back in control, I fumbled with the lock’s combination, running through it three times and smearing blood all over it before I was able to work it right. When it popped open, the noise bounced off the walls.

I heard that shuffling sound, again, and froze to listen. Nothing but silence. Not even breathing.

I slowly pulled off my coat. It didn’t hurt, but something was pulling sharp against my left shoulder. I checked it and saw the shirt to my uniform was soaked with sweat -- and blood. I wiped my face. Blood smeared over it.

God, I wanted a shower. I wanted a shower so bad. Clean the blood off and warm me and --

I heard the shuffling sound, again. Closer. I started to quake, inside. But then I thought, Maybe it’s my partner come looking for me.

“Bobby?” I called. “Bobby, that you?”

Nothing. Not even the shuffling. Until a whisper of a sound came from my right. I turned to find a gunman standing at the end of the lockers, raising a pistol!

Everything clicked into slow-motion as I yanked out my service revolver, dropped to one knee and fired at him.

My first shot hit his left knee. The second ripped through his thigh. Two more hit an arm and a shoulder.

He got a couple of shots off at me and I felt something punch my side, but then he crashed against an office wall and landed in a sitting position, his leg twisted under him.

I rose slowly, carefully, in complete disbelief, and inched up to him, pistol ready but shaking in my bloody hands, barely under control and hoping to God he wasn’t gonna make another move. I heard voices approaching. Footsteps running. Echoing. So far away and I wished they’d get here, already and --

The guy lifted his gun, unsteady.

I fired, again. The bullet exploded through his skull.

Blood splattered over me. Covered me. I collapsed, about ready to pass out -- and then I saw it.

I saw the gunman’s gold shield.

He was a cop.

A detective!

A uniform had just shot a top dog in police headquarters!

“Man, there’s gonna be hell to pay for that,” I thought as I dropped to my knees and quietly drifted towards darkness.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Simon Pegg Rocks

I never called myself a geek, but looking back I probably was half that and half just plain weird when I was in high school. I don't think I ever settled on any particular attitude or aura, which might have kept me from being as liberated as this. I think I wound up just being seen as artistic -- which is liberating in its own way.

But I love this sentiment, and I've known people who lived by it. I think that's part of the reason I like "Big Bang Theory" so much -- they're geeks caught between brilliance and boyhood, and have no problem living their lives in a way that makes them somewhat happy even if others view them as oddballs.

But Simon Pegg is being disingenuous. Any guy who can go from being potential zombie food with a deadly record collection to Scotty in "Star Trek" is a force too cool to be reckoned with.

I heard an interesting comment on NPR, this morning just as I was headed out the door. It was some theater critics commenting that at the same time Russia was exploding with novels and plays by Chekov and Dostoyevsky and Turgenev and the like, who saw the world as bleak and the embodiment of darkness, even in their comedies, England was having an explosion of plays and novels by the likes of Shaw and Oscar Wilde and Noel Coward that faced everything, even death and disaster, with a humorous shrug.

Simon carries on the tradition, especially by contrasting his haughty expression with a t-shirt of a Silly Symphonies skull and crossbones. Only a geek would do that; only a cool guy would get the reference.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The problem with partnering

I'm just over half done with IF, and I'm finding moments where the guy whose story this is has reworked bits of it...and his grammar skills are not the best.  I can forget to put in words and transpose letters and write sentences that are too complex for their own good, but I know enough to start a sentence with a capital letter and end it with a period or something. And it drives me nuts when I stumble across that kind of thing in my work.

I never have been the best collaborator. I absolutely hated doing that when I was working on "Bugzters". I guess I just don't like the lack of control, and honestly feel like I'm the best protector of my characters and the story they're telling me. Which is why it's probably good I'm shifting to novels; I normally have the last word in that format.

Thinking of the other occasions where I've collaborated or done rewrites...the first time I did it, I subsumed my preferences to my partner's. Not a good idea. Half of what I wrote was crap. Then when I was reworking some scripts a couple years ago, I found I'd make the changes I needed to make the story work for me, and when the client didn't like them, I'd all but shrug.

My last one, I withdrew from the rewrite because the original writer, who also was going to direct the script, was locked into a particular story structure that just did not work and wouldn't consider any of the changes I suggested, not matter how hard I tried to convince him. And he didn't believe me when I insisted it was the storyline the characters wanted. What fools these mortals be.

Of course, I'm the same way. Once a story I'm relating is set, it's set, and God himself couldn't get me to change it. It's funny how that works. Some of my scripts just don't want to gel, and no matter what I do to them, they don't settle...and won't until I find the key to the story.

I don't ever give up completely on a story, much as I may think I do. I have one script where I wrote a first draft on back in graduate school...many, many years ago. It still doesn't work...but I think I'm finally getting an idea of what it needs. Now. After probably two dozen drafts and changes left and right in the spine of the story, if not the characters and details.

Aw, man...suddenly I saw myself as a rat terrier, probably one of the most stubborn mutts there is. Grr. Growl. Snap. Snarl.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Reboot it all

I bit the bullet and ordered new RAM for my Mac Mini. I can bump it up to 2 gigs, if I'm reading the specs right, and that may help my little beast go a while longer. Wasn't cheap, but I have the kind of card that gives little rebates on everything you buy, and since I use it for my trips, I've built up enough to pay for the officially it's costing me nothing. That, I can live with.

I'm a third of the way through IF's polish, and still running into moments that are confusing or don't add up to when the story's supposed to be taking place. For instance, I had Vinnie luxuriating in a brand new 1966 Pontiac GTO with a vinyl roof, "the first he'd ever seen," when the timeframe should have been late in 1966, so it needed to be a '67 to keep things in order.

I wish I could just rely on my own memory of those times for this story, like when miniskirts came into fashion and what sort of cultural references there were at the time, but my memories are too jumbled up from living in so many different places. Summer of '65- summer of '66 was in El Paso; '66-'67 was Grand Forks, North Dakota then San Antonio; '67-'68 was Honolulu; and we settled back in San Antonio the summer of 1968, in the middle of Hemisfair and Fiesta Noche del Rio in La Villita (San Antonio's old town nestled up next to Hemisfair Plaza). And San Antonio was about 10 years behind the times, if that modern.

Example -- I did my last two years of high school in SA, at an inner-city school where girls could not wear miniskirts or pants; and boys had to wear slacks, no jeans. Hair was kept to a minimum my first year, and many's the time I got ordered to get mine cut...and many's the time I ignored the order. But it was hard for me to hide my long hair in the crowd; I was the only redhead in a school that was 95% Latino.

My connection with pop culture didn't really come about till I'd graduated and was working, which was during the phase between hippies and disco. Not a lot of memories to mine...because I wasn't sober much. Not stoned; I couldn't smoke pot because it killed my voice (couldn't even smoke cigarettes) and the few times I tried uppers I hated it when I came down. So I drank wine and screwdrivers and slowly shifted to beer, and once got so drunk, I wound up with alcohol poisoning...and didn't remember driving home. That's when I cut back on my drinking, and now I just have a beer with dinner, every now and then, and that's plenty.

Y'know, I hated moving around so much, back then. I wanted consistency and long-term friends instead of people I'd only know for a year, if that long. Now? I love to travel, even as painful as it is dealing with airport security. If I could have worked it out right, I'd have taken the train down to this next packing job in New York because it's a beautiful journey. As it is, I'm staying an extra day in NYC so I can go to the that's fine.

Hmph...a rambling road of thoughts to lie back on. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Not all that bad

I'm weaving my way through "Internal Flaws" to polish it and clean up the grammar, and so far it's not all that bad. I found some inconsistencies and a few spots where my timeframes didn't work out, and of course I edited and reworked a couple of moments. Seems I can't get away from that. But I'm about a fourth of the way through it and won't mind it being shown to publishers.

I will say, I like the chatty way Vinnie is telling his story. It jumps around a bit, like a guy who's explaining himself in a bar as one event reminds him of something else that happened but has relevance, somewhat meandering but always getting back to the thread. I guess we'll see how this goes, now.

I'll be in New York City the 9th through the 12th. I was only supposed to be there till the night of the 11th, but I booked my flight on the wrong day and decided the hell with it; I haven't just wandered about NYC in years. Haven't gone to a museum or gallery. Never been to the Guggenheim. So I booked my hotel for the extra night and will just enjoy myself, that day.

It's funny, but the first time I was in NYC was the summer of 1979, and the city damn near overwhelmed me. I'd been accepted to NYU's Graduate School in film but was not at all ready, emotionally, to take it on. I tell myself now that I copped an attitude, but truth is, if I'd stayed I'd have lost it. I was deep in debt from my undergraduate studies, not just student loans (which didn't have to be paid back, yet) but also credit cards. I could not have handled school, work, projects that needed to be done and paid for, and living day to day.

Now? After living in LA for 16 years, I can treat it like a vertical version of that town. I basically know how to get around...when I pay attention to what I'm doing. I have enough tools in my psyche to handle the city, now. Of course, it might just be arrogance talking...but now when I walk around, I don't feel lost or oppressed. It's just a big town, like London or Paris or Berlin or Hong Kong.

Hmph, world traveller Kyle.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The ennui of Henri gives me meaning, you see

I've seen too many French films that are really like that cat's commentary, and it makes me happy to know my inner kitten is still smitten with what is written and ... and ... okay, what's another word that rhymes with written? Spittin'? That's cheating.

An idea came to me, last night, just as I was about to drift off to sleep. Killed my quietness, and I couldn't drop off for another hour. But I wrote it down, this time, and think it may be something that needs to be done. It's a plan to promote "The Lyons' Den" and I have to work fast because all hell is about to break down in my computer world and I need to upgrade to Snow Leopard soon. Then Lion. Once I do that, I have no access to such niceties as Word or Final Draft or a number of other programs until I buy new versions, except on my Mac Mini, and it's running rough, lately.Maybe it needs more memory.

I hate technology, which is probably why I love it so damn much.

Anyway, not saying a thing more about anything until I've actually DONE it. Then I'll ask for commentary and explain myself and wonder what the hell I'm trying to pull.

It snowed all day, today, and still managed to only lay an inch on the ground, and that was gone within an hour. Very odd weather, they say. I find it fascinating.

Amazon is still being a pain. So any thoughts I may have had about self-publishing through Kindle have vanished.

1. I don't rust their sales reports, so why do the self-publishing thing through them if you won't be given data you can trust?
2. Their customer service is in Pakistan or India and only sends out canned messages to whatever you ask them. I tell them the titles of some of my books have been changed, recently, and ask them to put them back like they were. They say I have to talk to my publisher. I tell them I want to know why they changed the titles of my books on the Kindle editions. They say the books are available. I tell them I'm only asking why they did this, recently. They say I have to talk to my publisher.
3. They insisted LD be offered exclusively through Kindle for 3 months prior to its paperback release, but have done nothing to promote it. Zero. Zip. Nada. Why? I have to talk to my publisher.

So they can talk to the hand. I'm looking into publishing through my own website, once I get caught up. There must be a way to do that without involving Amazon and Kindle and all that crap.

Or am I about to totally hate technology, again?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Henri Premiere

Je suis Henri!

C'est trop perfect! (Too purrrrfect.)

I give up

 I finally let reality take over and sent this artwork to Deviant Art's Dark Shadows Contest. I'd done the sketch below it as a study for Johnny Depp's face, but I could not, no matter what I tried, make it translate into acrylic on canvas. No life in the final product, at all. Colors all wrong. It looked more like a portrait by Grandma Moses than something you'd see hanging in the Smithsonian in Washington DC. So I scanned it into PhotoShop and colored it in then rendered it in palette knife and that was that.
At least it wasn't for lack of trying. That canvas now has enough paint on it to stand being lacquered and used as a table-top. And one of my new understandings about myself is, I don't like doing Sargent-style portraiture. I mean, I love John Singer Sargent's work, but I don't like replicating it. The few portraits I've done have been more modernist-impressionistic pieces, and that would have been wrong for this contest and what I was aiming for.

Oh, well...once I'm over my irritation with myself, I might do one like that of Johnny and his library. The books were turning out good, and I liked the darker colors of the piece.

Now back to IF and completion of this project.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Good ol' Amazon

I finally got a response to my complaint...and it was basically a big shrug. If I want the title change back to the way they were from the outset, I have to contact the publisher and have him ask. When I bitched about it, some more, they said it was for the protection of my own privacy.

Talk about a load of crap. I checked with my new publisher to make certain LD will be available on B&N once the paperback comes out, as well as in Nook form. No answer till Monday, probably, but if not, I'm pushing for it. I'm getting to where I despise Amazon.

Worked on my Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins painting, today, and it's got a couple of layers set. It's turning out very dark and brown, for some reason, which I don't mind. Plus the face is giving me trouble. I just wiped out what I'd done, so far, because the shape was wrong and the eyes were too low. Dunno if I'll submit it, once I'm done, but at least I'm working towards finishing it. Better than a couple days ago.

I want to get back to work on OT, but next up is IF. Another thing I've obligated myself to. I have to cut this crap out -- taking on projects I don't really want to do.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Here we go again

Amazon and I are having another issue. This time, it's about them changing the listings on "Bobby Carapisi" and "Rape in Holding Cell 6". On the Kindle offerings, they've dropped the volume numbers on a couple of them, so all volumes 1 & 2 of BC are listed as is "Bobby Carapisi". Same for RIHC6. And they're taking their time in responding to my queries on it.

They also aren't posting information I've input for each book, have dropped some other info, and are not really cross-referencing the two format listings. What's up on the paperback listing isn't consistently shown in the Kindle, and vise versa. It's irritating.

I also learned May 17th is when "The Lyons' Den" will be available in paperback.

I spent this evening working on the painting...and am not impressed with my efforts, thus far. I want it to look like something like an artist of the late 18th Century would paint, but I'm working in acrylics off a black and white photo of Johnny Depp and images of clothing of the period, and even though I've done some studies, it just ain't translating well. I guess I don't have to submit it to the competition...but I'd like to. I have until the 24th, if I remember right. I'd better check that.

Once I'm done, I'll post images of it to show the metamorphosis. Then I'll complete IF and then comes OT.

And if you think I'll stick to this schedule, you don't pay much attention to my blog.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Back to NYC

Be there the 9th through the 11th, packing a private library on the upper east side. Supposedly a nice one of Sangorski-Sutcliffe bindings. Those are specialty bindings, usually in leather with trim and taut spines, nice paper. Occasionally a portrait or cameo laid into the front board. I'm trying to work it to where I drive down, because that lets me think and sort things out in my mind. I need to do that about POS and OT and a few other pieces I want to write.

Now that I'm coming out of my funk, I can focus better on what's next. I think I'll finish with IF and get that started on the road to (hopefully) being published. I've already made a short list of "true-crime" publishers...though I don't know if they'll go for a fictionalized version of a criminal action. Guess we'll see.

Something I've noticed is, I'm looking at my scripts differently, lately. I'm seeing where, if I shift them into novels, I can dig deeper into the characters and motivations behind the things they do. I had fun (for the most part) doing that with Daniel in LD and Vinnie in IF. And when I do it with "Darian's Point", I'll be able to show some of the social background in Boston that made Thomas and Marian's marriage such a trial.

I think I'm also going to look into fellowships to see if I can apply for one that might give me enough money to live on as I write for a couple years. Now that I have a decent amount of POS in a form good enough to back me up in saying I want to write, maybe I can got something going that way.

Of course, I'm trying to do this just as the publishing world is going through an earthquake of change. And having to deal with the Feds investigating them for fixing the prices of e-books. Which I don't understand. I can find e-books in prices ranging all over the place, on Amazon, Google, Apple, B&N, you name it. A lot of people even self-publish, like musicians self-promote and sell off their own sites, so it makes no sense to me for the Feds to waste their time on a dying format when billion-dollar crooks like Goldman Sachs and Bank of America are barely even being investigated.

But all depends on where the money is, so maybe somebody got pissy about not being able to sell a certain book more cheaply and caused this mess, hoping to sell more for less, or something. Except that doesn't make sense.

Hell, LIFE doesn't make sense; why do I keep trying to find it?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

I need an intern

Someone who'll take care of the mundane day-to-day crap that needs taking care of and leave me to write or whatever. I'm easy to feed, so the cooking will be minimal. Dusting's good. Paying bills and sorting files is even better. And you don't have to pay interns if you set it up right with a college; they just get credit.

Hm...isn't that the definition of a slave? I may be liberal, but I'm lazy enough to want to be cared for, especially if it's someone cute who's doing the caring. Guess that also makes me salacious...or a dirty old man. I could live with that.

But I have to wonder -- just how many college kids can balance a checkbook? I've run into some who can't even wrap their heads around the principle of ATMs and cash available not meaning what they're being told. By that, I mean they go to an ATM, check the balance, see they have $400 in the account so take out $200 for a party night, not taking into account that they just sent out $350 in checks for bills. So those checks will come in and once the remaining $200 is gone, they'll bound and fees will be added on and they'll think the bank is being mean to them.

I tried to explain that, once, to a blond wanna-be model and she said something like, "Don't be ridiculous. I wrote the checks on the money that was in there. It's not my fault that the bank wants to take out more than I have."

Who can argue with that logic?

And would you be surprised to know she wound up being a supporter of the Tea Party? That group seems to thrive on misinformation and bad math, not to mention showering blame on everyone except rich white men. They really don't see how the right wing is doing everything it can to destroy 100 years of human progress in this country.

Hm, that's something else an Intern would be good for -- freeing me up to rant even more about the stupidity of the right wing scum out to ruin the US. I think I'll drop by U Buffalo over the weekend and post a note on the board. See if I can get a cute guy who's willing to clean like Hazel, will cook like my grandmother, and won't mind me petting them like a cat.

Dammit, I am a dirty old man.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Overly ambitious

It's a good way to be, usually. It means placing your goals out of reach, making you strive harder for them, so even if you don't achieve what you were aiming for, you've gone farther than you otherwise might have. It also means letting go of fear and doubt, which is the hardest part. It's easy to dream big and shoot for those your dreams. But we live in a world of second-guessers and people who think 20/20 hindsight is more than just a nasty way to crush those who've done something they, personally, don't think is as good as it could have been.

To be totally up front here -- I'm a vicious 20/20er when it comes to books and movies. I second guess and wonder why this shot was taken that way or why a particular phrase was used when it "obviously" had no reason to be there. My only saving grace in that is, when I like something, when I feel that it's right, I'm solid on it. I'm willing to argue points and, even if no one else agrees with me, shrug off their disagreement. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, god himself couldn't diss my choice.

One example is "Empire of the Sun." It's not considered to be one of Steven Spielberg's best efforts, but I so loved the movie, I saw it every night the first week it was out. I still think it's his best work and have had serious disagreements with those who believe "Schindler's List" or "Saving Private Ryan" are better (and while I can see their point on "Shindler's...", "...Private Ryan" lost me after the first half hour, and I despised the bookends in the cemetery).

The same goes for "Seven Samurai". To me it's a damn near perfect film, and I've already ranted about Rose McGowan's diss of it when she was co-hosting with Robert Osborne on TCM and they showed it.

Anyway, my point is, I've been trying to shift that attitude from my personal preferences to how I approach my writing and art.  And that's been hard as hell to do. I've done the jump off the cliff into unknown waters with "How To Rape A Straight Guy", half due to the title and half due to the fact that I used some very detailed and vicious sex (both gay and straight) to help tell (and, to still be honest, sell) a story of a man's self-destruction and how he comes to realize he's the one who fucked himself out of happiness.

But even after nearly 5 years of it being on the market under my name, I'm conflicted about it and care too much about what people think of me and the book. I went farther than I'd ever thought I could go, but I can't release my hold on the fear and doubt. And this permeated into my work on "Place of Safety". And it's permeating into other projects I have going on. And I'm at a low point in my biorhythms, so it plays deeper on me.

The thing is, that's how I was raised -- to second-guess myself. To think the other guy's opinion has more validity than mine. Because who am I to think I'm better than anyone else? And that is what's hardest to overcome -- an ingrained sense of unworthiness.

I know I'm a good writer and I have characters who seem to come alive off the page, but at the same time I write that sentence, I also tell myself, "But there are lots of better writers out there." And that's where I too often stumble.

I'm going through this, right now, because I'm fighting with my doubt over making a painting to enter into a competition -- a portrait of Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins in "Dark Shadows". I have it worked out and now just need to paint it. I have the canvas. I have the acrylics and brushes. I have seven days left. And I'm fighting myself every step of the way. Who am I to think I can paint a portrait that even looks like Johnny, let alone win this competition?

At least I'm back to fighting. Last night, I damn near waved a white flag, I was so tired of second-guessing it all.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A noble experiment

I decided to make my trip to NYC without my little rolly-suitcase. It was too small to carry some passepartouts I needed, so those had to go in a box and be checked through as baggage. But since I wasn't staying long, I didn't have enough to put in the suitcase, so I just went with my shoulder bag. And carried both those damned things all over town. NOT a great idea. My back is threatening to make my life miserable if I ever do it, again.

While at the airport, I bought a copy of the latest "Wired" magazine because of the NSA article on the cover...and happened upon a smaller article about a man who was an avid freak. Apparently that's a news-you-want kind of site, and someone had posted a question about whether or not a US Marine battalion could defeat the whole Roman army. He answered it. And within the space of three days, was talking to producers in Hollywood about making it into a movie.

He'd never written a script in his life, but it's been bought and is, apparently, being made. And he wrote the script. And has another script in the pipeline. And he lives in Des Moines.

This reminds me of how Graham Yost sold "Speed" to Fox for a million bucks. They bought it for the idea -- a bus has a bomb on it that will explode if the bus goes slower than 50 miles per hour. Story is, Joss Whedon was brought in to do a rewrite weeks before production was to begin because they finally realized the script was damn near unshootable.

I, personally, read a version that was ludicrously bad...and while they said it was a shooting script, it bore minimal resemblance to the actual film so I don't know what version it was. I just know our introduction to Jack was him going out on a ledge atop a high-rise apartment building to bring his aunt's chihuahua back into the apartment. And people thought he was a jumper. Also, Harry (Jack's partner) was the bad guy instead of Dennis Hopper's character.

Goes to prove, again, that the main thing that matters in selling a script is the concept. Which is part of my problem. I got no original ideas like that. Mine are too off-beat or low-key, with my characters being more important than the plot twists. Very anti-screenplay...though actors tend to like that.

Anybody know any actors I could slip a script to? "Find Ray Tarkovsky" would be perfect for Ryan Gosling. "Wide New World" would be just right for Colin Farrell. And I could see Scarlett Johansen as Gabrielle in "Blood Angel". least I dream big.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Nice hot bath

I'm going to sit and luxuriate for as long as the water stays hot. I worked 11 hours, today, and tomorrow get to traipse all over the book fair talking to clients. This ain't no fun visit, for sure.

While I was packing, I did zero thinking about anything but the job. I was the only one there and had to get it done. But afterwards, I hopped over to the Pig & Whistle and had a Guinness and Shepherd's pie and Jake popped in with a question -- can you really evaluate the damage that's been done to you? Meaning aren't you too close to it to actually see what's been done?

I have to think about that...once I'm able to think, again.

Now my hot bath awaits.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Wrong way Kyle

Man, I got a screw loose, somewhere. I got to NYC on time and was doing great, then somehow decided the subway line I was on stopped where I needed to go. So I got off and wound up 6 blocks off from where I needed to be. If I'd changed trains where I'd initially thought I should, I'd have been 200 feet away. And I'd mapped it out in my head before even leaving JFK. Talk about dumb.

I'm here to pack some books and prep some things at the NY Book Fair, then I'm heading home Saturday night. Not enough time to do anything, even if I did have the money. Now my taxes are paid, I'm back on the edge of nothingness.

My thoughts are still pretty scattered when it comes to the writing. I have too much going on, right now, so have trouble keeping everything in order in my brain. I'd say that's why I messed up on the subway, but it's been happening a lot, lately. Maybe it's time for a vacation. Maybe that's what August needs to be -- me just not doing anything and letting my brain realign itself. After all, this hasn't been the best year of my life.

I almost got to go to Paris, again, but once air fares were checked and the price of hotels was considered, no way in hell was that happening. Nor is London in the cards, because my bosses can go there and stay for free with friends while handling the London Book Fair. Such is my existence. Almost but not quite.

Of course, I could also use the time to work out a new plan for my life. Wouldn't hurt to have one; I've never really tried it, before.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Owen's story

This is what Owen says started the whole situation in OT.
I still cannot believe what happened to me, last night. I walked over to Price’s convenience store for some milk, butter, eggs and bread, and was arrested for indecent exposure. By a police officer in plain clothes, who claims I asked him to have sex with me. Talk about ridiculous.

First of all, the man was not the least bit attractive. He looks like one of those puffy body-builders who give off the air of greasiness and psychosis. Seriously, I think he would have exploded if he’d taken in too deep of a breath, that’s how tight his skin was over his face and body.

Second of all, he was doing everything he could to make me notice him and think he was available for some fun. Seriously, it didn’t matter where I went along those long narrow aisles of overpriced goods, the moment I stopped, he’d appear next to me to “look at something for himself.” Then he’d cast me a glance and almost lick his lips to send out that age-old signal of “blow-job.” It actually spooked me, a little, so when I went up to pay for my things and he appeared behind e, before the clerk could begin ringing me up, I said, “I forgot something,” and scurried to the very back of the store to check in the coolers for...whatever. I just wanted him to leave.

When he finally did, I paid for my things, but he was waiting outside. As I exited, he approached me and asked me if I wanted to have some fun. That he was really horny.

I told him, “That’s not what I’m interested in, thanks.”

He frowned and said, “C’mon, I know you’re gay.”

“What does that have to do with anything?” I asked, more than a little peeved. Because I’m queer I’ll jump on anything that has a dick? What a stupid thing to say.

He kept following me, saying, “C’mon, man, I really need to fuck with somebody, tonight. I’m so fuckin’ horny.”

I began to get nervous. His insistence was beginning to seem more pathological than needy, and I suddenly remembered other gay men who’ve been beaten and robbed. So I stopped and started to return to the store, saying, “Dammit, I left my cell phone on the sales counter.”

I made myself smile at him and say, “Tell you what – let me get my phone and we can talk some more.”

“No need to faggot,” he said. “You’re under arrest.”

“For what?” I asked.

“Soliciting. Public indecency. Whatever.” All three words leapt from his mouth as if they were just waiting for release.

I pulled away from him, angry, telling him, “You’re no more a police officer than I am!”

That is when he held up his badge, saying, “And that’s resisting arrest.”

He slammed me against the side of the store, handcuffed me from behind and yanked me over to a new red Camaro, handing me the Miranda saying the whole way, even as I protested.

I was taken to the city jail, booked, fingerprinted, and put in a holding cell. No one else was around. I’d never been arrested before, so I can’t say for certain all jail cells are like this one – but it was vile. A toilet in a corner of the room, nothing in the way of privacy. A sink beside it. A table jutting from another wall with stools affixed to the floor. Two pair of bunk beds at a ninety-degree angle to them. Hardly “Architectural Digest.”

I was given nothing to eat or drink until seven a-m the next morning, then I was taken to another room where I was arraigned. And the Assistant handling the bail hearing for the DA’s office was this huffy little thing that looked like she could blow away if the breeze got to be too strong.

I was led before a judge as my trial numbers were read aloud. The moment the bailiff stopped, the ADA said, “People ask for one-hundred thousand dollars bail, your honor.”

“What?!” shot out of me.

“The defendant accosted a decorated police office, exposed himself and attempted to have the office follow his lead. When he learned he was talking to a policeman, he became irate and tried to storm away. Indications are he would be a flight risk.”

“That’s nonsense you honor!” I snapped. “The officer approached me and asked me for sex, and when I said no -- .”

“This is preposterous on the face of it, your honor. The arresting officer actually told the defendant to leave him alone in hopes he could just drive away.”

“Oh, you want to talk about preposterous?” I cried. “That I’d risk being beaten, robber, or even killed for something that looks like him!”

The judge finally told us to be quiet and asked me, “Do you have a lawyer, Mr. Taylor?”

“I do.”

“Where is he?”

“She was not answering her phone; all I got was her voicemail. But your honor, I own property in this town. I have no criminal history. No arrest record. I don’t even have an outstanding parking ticket.”

“Is this true, Ms. McKinley?” the judge asked.

“We haven’t fully vetted his background, sir.”

“Yes or no?”

“So far as we can tell -- .”

“That’s the same as a yes. I’m setting bail at five-thousand.” Then he slammed his gavel down.

Just not in the mood

'Nuff siad.

Monday, April 9, 2012

This is silly

I'm sitting here trying to decide whether or not to get back to pushing my screenwriting...and I was going over my competition entries and realized I've had 11 scripts in a wide range of genres do well in all kinds of contests.

Here's a list of all them:

Set in modern Dublin, Ireland, a young father feeling his life is over rekindles his dream of becoming a photographer and starts a chain of events that tear his family apart.
Indie Gathering (Second Place)
Worldfest - Houston (Third Place)
British Feature (Semifinalist, The Big Picture)

A beaten-down young man is made into a hero when he comes to town only to turn out to be much less than that when the “notorious outlaw” he killed turns up alive and angry on the day of the hero’s wedding to the perfect woman in this romantic-comedy-western.
Worldfest - Houston (First Place, AND the Special Jury Award)

Would a man destroy his soul to be with an angel? That’s the question at the heart of this off-beat story, where a vampire seduces a young musician in post-Katrina New Orleans in her plan to make him into a murderous creature like herself.
Movie Deal! (Second Place)
Indie Gathering (Third Place)
Pacific N.W. Writers (Finalist)
Austin (Semifinalist)
Screenwriting Expo (Semifinalist)
Cinestory (Semifinalist)
Blazing Quill (Semifinalist)
Scriptapalooza (Quarterfinalist)
Slamdance (Quarterfinalist)
PAGE International (Quarterfinalist)

In 1910, an architect returns to Ireland with his American wife and discovers his dark and frightening birthright in this brooding tale of Gothic horror.
Worldfest - Flagstaff/Charleston (First Place)

A young man flies to Ireland to settle his family’s estate only to find himself trapped by his family’s ancient curse. Sequel to Darian’s Point.
Shriekfest (Finalist)
Writers On The Storm (Semifinalist)

Acting classes can’t help this hot young actor find a killer hiding in witness protection, but they might help him save his son.
Scriptapalooza (Semifinalist)
American Accolades (Semifinalist)
Screenwriter Dig (Semifinalist)
WriteMovies (Semifinalist)
Emerging Screenwriters (Finalist)
StoryPros Awards (Quarterfinalist)
Wildsound (Finalist)
(An a Blue Star on Triggerstreet, for what that's worth)

A gay artist tries to rebuild his life after the death of his lover only to find he has to fight not just the casual cruelty of the world but also non-stop memories of happier times and his own inability to let go of the past.
One in Ten (Third Place)

A high school girl must go on five dates with the school freak or her brother will go to jail.
Screenwriting Expo (Finalist, Suzanne’s Prize)
Movie Deal! (Finalist)

A writer working under a deadline goes to an isolated cabin for peace and quiet only to find himself involved in bribery, political corruption, murder, psychosis, fictional characters who try to control the story, predatory females, danger, betrayal, a hot shower, and romance with the proper stranger. (Yes, this is the one I made into a book.)
One in Ten (4th place)

The true story of Beryl Markham, the first woman to fly solo from the UK to America, alone.
Houston International film Festival (First Place) [They're now Worldfest Houston]

Eleven year-old Alex accidentally traps some aliens in his computer and must get them back into space before they’re found by 4 weird aliens, 2 spooky government agents, an evil toy manufacturer, some crazed parents, some crazier kids, and his mom.
Pacific N.W. Writers (2nd place)

And I can't even get a fucking agent to take me on? I still have people telling me my work isn't quite good enough? Fuck that shit. My work's fantastic. And anyone who thinks otherwise doesn't know what the hell they're talking about. do I turn this into completed projects?

That is the question of the far.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


Just watched Brendan Gleeson in "The Guard." It's an Irish gangster film obviously influenced by Guy Ritchie's British gangster films of the 90s, but the writer/director hasn't a tenth of Guy's style or ability, both of which Ritchie used to cover glaring holes in his storylines. This one's all about some amazingly stupid drug smugglers bringing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of coke into Ireland but running afoul of a guard who wouldn't give a damn what they did so long as they left him alone. But they don't, and they wind up regretting it. Of course.

Gleeson does a fine job making a bastard someone you give a damn about, but the script had every cliche in the book -- dying mom, loner, seen too much, prone to insubordination, unlikely partner after his partner is killed, amazingly stupid coincidences, knows more than his superior officers and figures it all out, and on and on and on. All done in a thick Connemara accent and a touch of the Gaelic. If I'd paid $10 to see this in a theater, I'd have been pissed.

But here's what's interesting about this -- it shows how things get done not only in Hollywood but in just about every film business around the world. The producer and executive producer are related to the writer/director. And one of the stars, Don Cheadle, is also an executive producer, meaning he helped pull together the money for it. Probably enough seed money to get the Film Board of Ireland to back the film, as well. In short, it wasn't the quality of the script; it was the quality of the star power and connections that made the project.

Something similar happened when Jim Sheridan's brother made "Borstal Boy" into a movie that was an absolute disgrace to the book. We're talking about a major bit of Irish literature so the people at the Film Board must have seen what a slice of crap the script was and how it messed so completely with the story, but because Jim had made "My Left Foot" and "In The Name of the Father" and such, his connections got it funded. And so far as I was concerned, damaged their credibility.

When I think of all the times I let myself listen to people who said good writing will rise to the top and be noticed, and also to other well-meaning people who said that my scripts weren't good enough or funny enough or needed this or that to make them better, I could kick my own ass from here to China. That was stupid and cowardly on my part, and a disservice to my characters and stories.

William Goldman's axiom that in Hollywood nobody knows anything is absolutely true, but he forgot to add that nobody really believes it.

Now for the sake of honesty I'll add, myself included...with one caveat: I know I don't.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A good day for writing

After working most of the day on OT, adding in just under 3000 words, I totaled up my page count. I'm at 89 pages. About 20,000 words, total. I can't believe it. Some of it's repetition and some will probably no longer be needed, but it's still a major start on this book. Effectively speaking, I could easily be a solid fourth of the way through it.

I did just discover that Palm Springs closed their jail and now uses the one in Indio, which is just down the 10 from there. That'll need to be changed in the story. So will other details to match up. But the book is rocketing along, all of a sudden, and the resolution has taken a sudden turn for the "OH MY GOD!" I think.

I'm actually having fun writing this book...which may be a bad sign. that usually means I'm messing up someplace; I don't know. And in fact, I don't care. I just know watching Jake do his thing with people is joyous for me.

Y'know, I've only been to Palm Springs once, and I wasn't all that impressed with it. The place was crowded, overpriced, and blistering hot -- so much so, many storefronts had mists of water going in front of them so passersby could feel a bit cooler. Talk about a major waste; no wonder Southern California's dying of thirst.

Of course, it's the same in Arizona, where Phoenix has exploded with people who seem intent on having green yards and flowers and swimming pools open to the sun even as the area becomes more and more arid and the temperatures continue to rise. It's insane.

One thing about Buffalo -- the place is surrounded by enough water to keep them going for centuries. Lake Erie to the west, Lake Ontario to the north, rivers and streams and smaller lakes all over. It's a much more livable space, even in the winter.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Reaching for the future

I ordered Apple's Snow Leopard OS, today, in my slow steps towards putting Lion onto my laptop. When I get back from NYC, next Sunday, I'll install it and then consider my next move.

I added another 11 pages to OT. Nothing's in order, yet; I keep jumping back and forth in the story to write what's interesting me at the moment, so I'll have some streamlining to do. But it's still headed forward, thanks to Jake's drive and focus.

And here he is, personified by Will Fennell, of DNA Magazine. I think this is just about the perfect pose for him -- cool, casual, a bit wary, a hint of a warning not to try and bullshit him. And today, that was a major part of the section I wrote -- Jake cutting through some major bullshit being handed out by the DA's office in Riverside County.

Initially, I was trying to keep location names to a minimum, but that's not how the story's going and so the hell with it. Events take place in Palm Springs and Riverside County, with the usual attitudes and corruption sneaking their way in.

I think we're doing this because of the recent case where a number of gay men (during Splash Week, I think) were enticed to expose themselves to undercover cops and arrested for public indecency. A number of then said they hadn't done anything more than flirt with the cop -- no nudity -- but were still busted.

The DA of Riverside County was pushing ahead with the prosecutions...until he was ousted in the next election by a candidate who was backed with a lot of gay community money. Also, the Chief of Police for Palm Springs had to quit because he was recorded saying some pretty vicious things about the men being arrested, including calling them "fags" and "queers". You don't do that when most of the city's population is gay or gay friendly.

So...did any of this make a difference? No. The new DA pushed ahead with the prosecutions, forcing those who'd been accused of the crimes into deals so they wouldn't face the possibility of having to register as a sex offender if they'd been found guilty. Even the ones who'd claimed innocence. So much for gay power, right?

The problem is, the gay community didn't go far enough. They should now have that second DA kicked out of office and replaced with another one, one who's willing to acknowledge that these stings are nothing more than a legal form of gay-bashing. You don't change attitudes with one election; you change them with a track record of at least half a dozen.

Anyway, that's where this story exploded from. Jake's uncle Owen is accused of exposing himself to a plainclothes cop and he fights it, and wins. Then disappears after sending Jake an envelope with a key in it and a note that reads, "I almost forgot -- you'll need this."

Now comes the fun part -- putting it all together so there are plenty of clues but no one knows what really happened until Jake figures it out (with Antony's and Matt's help). But I ain't worried; my guys'll lead me right.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Loving the ephemeral one

I don't really want to add to my already psychotic reputation, but in all my soul-searching the last few days, I finally realized I love my characters. And I mean that in the deepest sense, which is as if they were real human beings. Because in parts of my mind they are real...and that's what makes them live on the page for me (and, I hope, the people who read my work).

I've read books and scripts where the characters did not live or breathe. Earl Stanley Gardner was bad about that. Raymond Burr, hardly the most approachable of actors, brought more life to Perry Mason on the TV series than Gardner did in his books. The same for Agatha Christie; her characters were given one basic description and the rest was mechanics...though with Hercule Poirot she did allow some expansion beyond the necessary.

It was the same when I read Asimov's "Prelude to Foundation" -- well, read most of it. I'd so loved the first three books in the series, I jumped on this one...only to find Hari Selden was so poorly conceived, he came across as a complete idiot who only did things because the plot needed him to do them. It damn near ruined the series for me.

At the other extreme, the works of Tolstoy, Steinbeck, Ed McBain and even Grace Metalious (as pulpy as her writing is) gave you real people to welcome into your world.

Same goes for movies -- if I can't connect with the actors or feel the script is a set-up (meaning I'm going to be lead by the hand to a specific conclusion, with no thought allowed on my part) I go cold. I'm one of the few people to actually dislike "Sophie's Choice" and "Mystic River", and I've had people ask me if I have a heart, thanks to that. But I can connect with a melodramatic movie like "Now, Voyager" because, as lumpy as the writing and setups are and as easy as the resolution is to some of the situations, I connect with Bette Davis' Charlotte Vale. The reason is simple -- she seems human, to me, and overcomes the story's limitations.

Maybe it's just that Bette Davis is too powerful an actress to be held back by anything. Maybe she just had the ability to grab you and take you along for the ride...which seems to be more likely, since even when she was playing (and being) a bitch, you could still care for her. Meryl Streep doesn't have that ability; she's a bit too removed and cool. And Sean Penn used to (he made a vicious rapist-murderer someone so human, you hurt when he was put to death in "Dead Man Walking"), but he's lost it, somehow.

So that's my goal in my books -- to let my characters be as human and real as they can be. I tried it in my scripts, and I think actors connected with that, but producers and their coverage people didn't, so that did no good for anyone.

I guess I'm saying this because Jake is about to do something less than honorable, and I think I can make it understandable...but that's how people work -- sometimes they do the right thing for the wrong reasons. I just wonder how this will play out.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Jake knows the world better than I

We had a rough week, last week at work, so over the weekend I baked up an apple crumb cobbler (Marie Callendars'), since everyone likes that. They said. Except not one of my co-workers touched it. I'm the only one who's been eating it. Fortunately, it wasn't very big and it keeps well in the fridge. But today I brought it home and decided to finish it over this weekend.

What's sad is, I really prefer peach cobbler. I spent the $4 on this one and took the time to cook it because I thought it'd be a great way to start the week...and it got dissed. So fuck that shit.

You see, Jake (in RIHC6v1&2 and OT) would never have done that. Something I learned about myself while writing LD is, sometimes I try to anticipate people's needs and, far more often than not, I fall flat on my face. That slipped into Daniel's history, where he subjugated his wants, needs and desires to Tad's, thinking that would make things great between them...and he still got dumped. And dumped on. And working on "....Owen Taylor" shows me that tendency was also in Antony, albeit in a much more psychotic mode. Half the trouble he got himself into was from trying to protect Jake from something emotional or physical, when Jake didn't need no protection.

What's been illuminating about writing OT is seeing how Jake just doesn't put up with the bullshit. It's either yes or no with him, no pissing around, even if it gets him into a tight situation. I like that in him...and I know it means it's also available in me, if I want to make use of it. But I've got this attitude ingrained in my DNA or something that makes me almost a servant until I'm so fed up, I explode and destroy everything I was trying to build.

And what's most destructive about it is, that's when I finally see I'd put myself through all this shit for nothing. And often wound up damaging myself in ways I couldn't see until much later. Case in point -- I'm still recovering from a film I wrote and tried to co-produce on a minimal budget...20 years ago. It was a catastrophe waiting to happen and deep inside I knew I should have pulled the plug before shooting began. But I got lost in thinking my drive and my caring and my support would make it turn out okay. It not only didn't, I came close to killing someone once I saw how the final product was being twisted into what I felt was a flat out racist tract.

This damaged my self confidence so severely, for years when anyone critiqued a script I'd written, I'd go with their opinion (unless it was ludicrous; I wasn't totally lost), and I'd rewrite it. Even if I thought it was fine as it was. Did any of that matter in my career? Nope. Of the dozens of times I've rewritten my work to suit someone, not a single solitary script has been made into a project. And that hideous one slunk into a shadow and died, somewhere...and good I don't even have that to point to.

If I'd been like Jake, I'd have taken the project over the second it started veering out of control and rammed through everything that needed to be done. And if that made me an asshole, that made me an asshole. But I'd have protected my story and characters, and I might have had something I could at least refer to as produced. And even if it'd crashed and burned, I'd have known I did my best instead of trying to facilitate a consensus on what needed to be done. Only I wasn't Jake. I didn't know I had that ability in me until I put him on the page and saw how right it was to be that way, sometimes.

It's kind of late in my life to finally realize this...but I guess it's better late than never. And Jake would say, "What bullshit."

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

I am a Dragon

I am dragon.
Not one that breathes fire but lives in the sea.
Cool and green, like an emerald island,
With secrets lost in the shadows of his heart,
Never to be shared.

I am lion.
So wary and calm, but not to be feared.
Shining in darkness, awaiting my voice,
Into the stars do I search for my soul,
Never to be known.

I am dreamer.
Open and quiet, I seek my beginning.
As far as the heavens, I wander by choice,
Striving to make all creation my art,
Never to have end.

I am dragon, who travels the ocean.
I am lion, with no need for motion.
I am dreamer, caught by the sky.
And all I ask is to understand why.

(April is National Poetry Month)
[edited 4/4/12]

Monday, April 2, 2012

If you gotta cook...

This weekend I'm making enchiladas. I'm tired of the piss-ant Mexican food they have in this region -- mainly meaning NONE -- and while mine aren't greasy enough to pass for Tex-Mex, they'll suffice. I do a very rich, very savory Mexican rice, too...using Rice-a-roni as the base. It's a major mess of a meal, and to do it right I usually wind up with 5 days worth of food, but it's time.

I'm also going to try my hand at a Shepherd's pie...though that's not as high a priority. I'll be grabbing a pretty decent one down by Rockefeller Center in about 10 days. Still, I found an interesting recipe that starts from scratch. The best way.

It's funny, but a few people I've met who are from Buffalo (I've run into them in LA, Washington DC, NYC, you name it) all said the two main things to do in this town are eat and drink. I don't drink enough to qualify for the latter, so it looks like I'm settling into the former. Eat and write, that's me, now.

But this new rhythm to my world seems to make me more open to shifts and ideas in my characters and stories. Sometimes they freak me out. Sometimes they make such sense, I wonder why it took me so long to find them. Sometimes they're so stupid, I have to wonder at myself. And sometimes...sometimes they connect with something deep inside me and I start to weep. Not cry, just...tear up to the point I have to wipe my eyes, because a moment of truth just got revealed to me.

That happened last night as I was working on OT. Something popped up in the ending chapter that changed it to the chapter that's next to the end, because I want to follow it through. And it all stems from Antony connecting with a Koala bear. I don't know where it came from, and it wouldn't seem to make sense being a story set in Copenhagen and a community by Palm Springs, but it's so right...I know it'll never change. And if I say any more, I'll give it away.

Looks like I've found my meaning in life -- serving my characters.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

"A Quantum Theory of Mitt Romney" by DAVID JAVERBAUM

This is from an article in the NY Times, of all places, concerning the surreality of Mitt Romney's campaign...and it is hysterical. You have to read the whole thing to get the best effect, but this part is outstanding.
......Nevertheless, close and repeated study of his campaign in real-world situations has yielded a standard model that has proved eerily accurate in predicting Mitt Romney’s behavior in debate after debate, speech after speech, awkward look-at-me-I’m-a-regular-guy moment after awkward look-at-me-I’m-a-regular-guy moment, and every other event in his face-time continuum.

The basic concepts behind this model are:

Complementarity. In much the same way that light is both a particle and a wave, Mitt Romney is both a moderate and a conservative, depending on the situation (Fig. 1). It isnot that he is one or the other; it is not that he is one and then the other. He is both at the same time.

Probability. Mitt Romney’s political viewpoints can be expressed only in terms oflikelihood, not certainty. While some views are obviously far less likely than others, no view can be thought of as absolutely impossible. Thus, for instance, there is at any given moment a nonzero chance that Mitt Romney supports child slavery.

Uncertainty. Frustrating as it may be, the rules of quantum campaigning dictate that no human being can ever simultaneously know both what Mitt Romney’s current position is and where that position will be at some future date. This is known as the “principle uncertainty principle.”

Entanglement. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a proton, neutron or Mormon: the act of observing cannot be separated from the outcome of the observation. By asking Mitt Romney how he feels about an issue, you unavoidably affect how he feels about it. More precisely, Mitt Romney will feel every possible way about an issue until the moment he is asked about it, at which point the many feelings decohere into the single answer most likely to please the asker.

. The Romney campaign often violates, and even reverses, the law of cause and effect. For example, ordinarily the cause of getting the most votes leads to the effect of being considered the most electable candidate. But in the case of Mitt Romney, the causeof being considered the most electable candidate actually produces the effect of getting the most votes.

Duality. Many conservatives believe the existence of Mitt Romney allows for the possibility of the spontaneous creation of an “anti-Romney” (Fig. 2) that leaps into existence and annihilates Mitt Romney. (However, the science behind this is somewhat suspect, as it is financed by Rick Santorum, for whom science itself is suspect.)
Here's a link to the rest of it.

Work on OT is coming along. I just plotted out the last chapter. Now I know how it's going to end (as of today, anyway) I know how to get there. Yee-hah!