Derry, Northern Ireland

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

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Travels of Sullivan

The next couple of weeks are going to be fun. I'm off to NYC in the morning and probably coming back Wednesday, if the job goes as I think it will, then it's driving down to DC to oversee a huge private library move...and I think I'm repeating myself. I should start rereading my previous entries just to see if I've already talked about what I'm talking about.

Isn't that a sign of old age? Telling the same story over and over, again? Well...I'm feeling it.

I watched "Sullivan's Travels" on TCM as I ironed. It's a movie with Joel McCrae and Veronica Lake that was written and directed by Preston Sturges in 1941. It's a sort of dramedy, where slapstick comedy mingles with the stark reality of the times and is about a director of comedies who wants to make the world's greatest tragedy so slips out to mingle with the common people and gets into a world of trouble. It reminded me that there's nothing more important than making a person laugh. Sometimes that's all they have left.

I can get way too serious about my WORK and have to admit, since pushing deeper into the comedy aspects of "Find Ray Tarkovsky" -- oops, "Find Ray T" -- it's made the script even stronger, in my eyes. I'm still not comfortable writing comedy, but maybe that's a good thing. Keeps me from getting as complacent as I was about my "real" characters.

Y'know, when I compare the book version of LD to the screenplay, I can't believe I had the nerve to send that script out, it's so shallow and dumb. Giving Daniel and Ace free rein made the story a hundred times better...and funnier, because the tragedy I hint at in Daniel's life is the perfect counterpoint. My hope is, it all makes the romance that much more meaningful.

I'm actually thinking about doing something I swore I'd never do -- rewrite "Bobby Carapisi" and add more humor to it. One reviewer even suggested it would have been a much more meaningful story if I'd done that...and again, I'm repeating myself in my commentaries.

Dammit, I'm too young to be this old!

To end this diatribe, I think half the reason Dion appeared was to loosen OT up. And he's having a blast doing it. As am I. But's writing took a serious turn, with Jake having to slam into Jake-mode and kick some ass, figuratively speaking, in order to protect a friend. And another character has appeared -- Preston Hardwick, half in honor of Preston Sturges and half because a FaceBook friend named Preston has Hermit tattooed on his right bicep and was first runner up for Adorkable of the Year in 2008.

Hell, I can't pass that up.

Friday, June 29, 2012

I got bit by the vampire shark

Seems there's a skanky company in Hialeah, Florida called Any_Book that scours the web for books listed or about to be sold then adds them to its inventory at exorbitant prices and offers them for sale through Amazon as an after-market deal. Or pre-market; I'm not sure. They sell bibles and christian books the same way as they offer others -- "unknown binding" at 3-4 times the actual selling price...or, as in my case, 10 times.

Meaning all of my books are listed on their site and offered for sale through Amazon for well over $100 each. And they've been doing this for years, it seems. They used to be listed on -- a site where dealers who belong to the ABAA can list their inventory for people to peruse -- but got kicked off, a couple of times. I've found references to this as far back as 2007.

I don't get it...and what's worse, Amazon doesn't give a shit. Though maybe I shouldn't say that; I recently heard Amazon plans to charge publishers $100 per book to keep their listings up if they haven't sold a certain number of copies, so maybe that will get Any_Book de-listed. But it also means some of my books may get kicked off their listing, too, because they don't sell all that well. A couple have done above average but the rest are barely making a dent in the ether.

LD seems to be catching on as an e-book. I've gotten it mentioned in a couple of blogs, so far...neither one really suitable for work, to put it nicely. A few more are pending. My hope is it will catch on.

What little I did on OT, this evening, was maintenance -- seeing what names I have set up, who's who, what's what, where's where, that sort of stuff. Now that the story's beginning to take form, I need to know all this to keep myself from getting lost. It's already become quite a detailed piece of work, with a cast of characters all vying for attention. Last night, I wrote a get-together of a number of people who know Owen and they're comparing notes over steaming bowls of homemade chili, chips and beers out the wazoo.

Chaos keeps creeping closer as calamity careens and catastrophe calls, carrying claims of craziness and cretins.

(UPDATED NOTE: I should clarify -- "Vampire Shark" is how Any_Book was referred to by a member of ABAA, who was warning people about it in his blog.)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

OT'ing it

Not a lot done, tonight, but enough to make me happy. Jake's digging into the days before his uncle disappeared and finding something else is going on that's affecting everyone in the area. Once again, I'm digging into a deep, dark, dangerous conspiracy. Maybe I am one of those freaks who thinks the government's hiding proof a UFO crash-landed at Roswell.

That extends to reality, too. SCOTUS upheld Obama's health care reform by a 5-4 margin, with Scalia, Alito, Thomas, and Kennedy vehemently dissenting. Everyone seems to think Chief Justice Roberts did something unexpected by voting to uphold the law, but not many are noticing the way he did it -- by agreeing with the 4 that the individual mandate could not be defended under the right of the federal government to regulate interstate commerce, but only as a tax, which Congress undoubtedly has the right to do. In short, he's undermined the government's ability to monitor and control interstate commerce.

In short, yes, people now have to buy insurance and they cannot be denied coverage. And if they can't afford it, the federal government will help pay for it. A HUGE boon to the insurance industry, which now gets 30-50 million new clients and access to the tax coffers to pay for it. But now challenges can be raised against any federal regulation as regards trade between states. That is exactly what the right wing wants...and I halfway think their bluster and bombast denigrating the decision is to hide that.

Of course, that means thinking of the GOP and Tea Party as being made up of intelligent people, which kills my conspiracy theory dead. Because apparently a LOT of the right wing twittering included threats to move to Canada...which has a government-run health care system called...MEDICARE! It's too stupid not to be real.

I'd rather have had a single-payer option in the bill or a buy-in into Medicare instead of this patchwork quilt of a mess that was compromised to death before Democrats told the GOP to take a hike. But it's better than nothing. Now both of my brothers can get medical insurance.

This says it all:

Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner...need I say more?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My world...and you can't have it...

Unless you meet certain this --
Because this is my reality, baby. As has been made too evident on this blog.

A good friend of mine found the image and sent it to me...and I'm still chuckling from it. So is Jake. Brendan just rolled his eyes; we're all children to him.

I'm sensing a new character in the shadows, uncertain but curious about the goings on and wild parties in my head. I think he wants to be part of them, but like a wary cat or dog is sitting there, watching and waiting to see if I'm a good witch or a bad witch...which depends on what time of day it is and where I am in my bio-rhythms.

Thing is, I know his name, but I can't say it till he allows me to.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Back to the pad, dad

Got home an hour ago after another long but much nicer drive. I like coming up the 81 to Syracuse; it runs through some lovely green mountains and elegant rivers. Heading down the 90 is a chore because it's as typical as a Texas freeway, albeit with no exits for miles and miles and miles; it's a toll road.

So one of the three jobs got postponed till mid July and all I had to do was an auction house run, today, which was interesting. My Google map said to take the Queensboro Bridge as the easiest way to get to the place...and that was so wrong, it was funny. I could have been to the auction house and halfway back to Buffalo by the time I got through the traffic...part of which was a nice little 10 minutes worth of gridlock.

I got caught in that in LA, once, but was able to get off the road, park at a McDonald's and have dinner as the cars worked themselves up to moving, again. On that day, it took me six hours to get from Santa Monica to West Hollywood. took me 45 minutes to get through one ludicrously planned intersection by Queen's Plaza.

Getting out of Manhattan was a lot easier. I took Broadway up to The George Washington Bridge, and traffic was really fast. I'd never been along the Broadway Malls, before, and it was actually nice.

The great thing is, I got in and out of Manhattan without paying a toll.

But now I'm beat. And my eye is still a bit irritable but is better. I didn't eat till I got home; I just wasn't in the mood for food as I drove.

Of course, Sunday I'm training it back down, via Amtrak, and planning to stay a week. We'll see how that trip goes.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Dion (Donald) [Rose of the Golden Girls]

Time to introduce some new fun characters on OT:


I parked outside this 1990s-style strip office building near the main drag – all weird-shaped concrete in pastels and desert colors mixed in ways that really shouldn’t be mixed, with silvery-blue windows, two or three palm trees, and more cactus and succulents than you’d find in the desert. The parking lot’s asphalt was bleached into such a soft gray, the white lines designating parking spaces almost blended with it. There were a few cars there but lots of open slots, too.

I had to go upstairs and down a center hallway to the back of the building, and that’s where the entrance to Palmetto Properties was. Nothing grand or glorious, just a sign stuck on the door with sticky letters, two of which – the “e” in the first word and the first “e” in the second word – were missing but still had the ghost of the adhesive in their place.

I went in to find four cubicles behind one of those metal desks painted to look like wood, that had stacks of paperwork and a couple of “In/Out” trays on it along with a daily minder catalog. Must be the receptionist, but no one was sitting at it.

Then this blond head popped up over one of the cubicles and started with, “Be right there -- ,” but stopped and his big eyes got bigger. “Jake?” It was Rose of the Golden Girls.

“Hi, Dion,” I grinned back. “How’s trickin’?”

He burst around the cubicle and stormed up to me to grab me around the waist and haul me into the air, and considering how tall he was, that was a good two feet off the ground, as he was screaming, “Oh, my God, you’ve gotten all buff and manly and oh, my god! You’re gorgeous. I can’t believe it. I haven’t seen you in what? Ten years? Oh, my god.”

“Shit, Dion, have you grown?” I grunted out as he crushed me with his hug.

He laughed and in a flash I remembered every moment we’d spent together that week. And it hit me that that fact he was so overjoyed at being with me had given me strength enough to see being gay was not a problem, given me a rock to build my stubbornness from when I got kicked out of my home. Yeah, Uncle Owen and gramma’d been supportive, but they were family and you expect that from them, even when other family members crush those expectations. It was having this Viking God not only think I was beautiful but worthy of love and unashamed of it that made it real.

What made me especially happy to see him was how little he’d changed – still a boyish face under hair so blond it mixed with the sun and eyes that danced for joy when he was happy and stormed like thunder when he wasn’t. His smile still made me think of heaven. Okay, so he wasn’t as buff as he used to be, and his clothes now were business casual instead of costume, but there was no mistaking him for anyone but Dion.

“I go by Donald, now,” he chuckled. “And I grew another inch a year after you went back to Texas. And there’s these.”

He set me down and showed me he was wearing purple leather cowboy boots with-three inch Spanish heels.

“Jeez,” I said, “What does that make you now? Seven-ten?”

“Drop it by a foot and you’d be right. It’s what’s known as, intimidation factor. I haven’t taken ‘em off in six months. How the hell are you?”

“Doin’ great. I live in Denmark now.”

“That’s what Owen said. He kept me up on everything about you. Don’t know why.” And he winked at me.

“Really. He never said a word about you.”

“Probably ‘cause I got slapped around by love and wound up married. To a chef. Can’t you tell?” He patted his belly, which was bigger than I remembered it being but hardly counted as fat.

“Still fishin’ for compliments, bitch?”

“It’s the vanity in me. C’mon back to my office.”

He lead me into his cubicle, which was mountains of paperwork and a couple of erasure-boards with notes and schedules written on them. Under it all were hints of a desk and an ornate chair. And I think I heard a phone ringing, but it could be coming from the next office. He took a stack of folders off an extra folding chair and plopped into his.

“Oh, my God, it’s so good to see you. Y’know, that week we were’s a fall-back memory for when things get too intense.”

“What d’you mean?”

“Oh, the last couple years’ve just been crazy. Doesn’t help that I’ve got kids, now.”

“Wait, is this chef male or female?”

“Honey, please! They’re from his first marriage. His wife left them with him so she could follow her bliss to Eureka. Certain family members weren’t pleased about it, but she signed the papers giving him full custody and the courts agreed they were valid, especially since Tan and I were legally married during those few months before Prop Hate. So now I’m co-care-giver to twin eight-year-old girls and a ten year-old boy. We have till two-forty-five before I pick them up from school.”

“I can’t imagine you a dad.”

“I’m not; I’m a papa. Tan is dad. So, I assume you’re out here for Owen. You know where he is?”

I shook my head. I'd been hoping Dion did.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Tick season

Woke up this morning with one eye partially swollen and red as a cherry. It looked like an infection of some kind or a really nasty case of allergies. From what, I don't know; when I went to bed, I was fine. Fortunately, I still had some VIOXX from the time this happened, before, and within an hour it was back to normal. Of course, that meant I got off a bit later than I intended...but I didn't have to call off the trip, at least.

After a nice LONG drive I got to the Jersey side of Philadelphia and am staying in a Best Western that has the vague odor of sewerage trouble and makes WiFi hard to get into. I had to open up my preferences and select it under WiFi in order to log on. Then after I ate, I went for a walk and found a Valero that does not offer milk. And when I got back to the hotel room, I found two ticks on me, freaked out and stripped off and shoved the clothes in a grocery bag and tied it tight, just in case there are some I didn't notice still on them.

Now I'm taking a bath and soaking my head in hot water, just to see what happens. I don't think any more are on me, but you never know.

I'm trying really hard to be positive about this trip, but so far it's doing its best to turn me into a raving lunatic...which is not that big a step for me to take, right now.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Venting helps

Even if it IS like passing gas into the wind. Got everything done I needed to, today...except groceries for the trip, which I plan to pick up, sat down and Jake introduced me to Donald, AKA: Dion, AKA: Rose of the Golden Girls. They had a nice 11 page chat where details about Owen were revealed, along with tidbits of Jake's past that I wasn't aware of (and which will not be mentioned until the book is published).

I feel like I actually accomplished something. I'm packed. I have my CD player set, along with extra batteries and a number of CDs for the trip -- Depeche Mode, Enigma, a few other eclectic choices. I figure if I'm going to spend half this trip on the road, I'll at least have some decent music to listen to instead of searching for anything other than religious or country or soft rock from the 80s.

When I'm home, I still like to stream archived music programs from KCRW or else listen to Pandora (though their selections are too type specific). That's how I found out about Zero Seven, was KCRW. But lately it seems they're playing the same things over and over, again, like they have their own version of the Top 40. And some of the singers they're championing are just god-awful. For a while, every program had this thing called "The Lions Roar" that stinks as a song...and now they've got another one by the same singer-writer...and I dislike it almost as much.

While I'm driving around Buffalo and the area, I listen to CFNY, out of Toronto. Except for this morning "Dean Blundel" show where the DJs prefer to listen to themselves talk rather than play music, they have a pretty good selection. I especially enjoy the playlists of Josie Dye's Top 20 (because they're never the same) and Fearless Fred. I heard my first Florence and the Machine song on there as well as The Black Keys.

On the drive to work, I listen to a classical station, WNED, but that disappeared when my car's battery was replaced; all my saved stations vanished and I had to re-input them. I missed any announcement as to WNED going off the air, so I'm not sure if it was taken over by aliens or christians out to spread their commie dogma. "Think like us or you'll die."

Looks like that's the way the country's going. Last week, Mitt Romney said 30 things that were flat out lies, and he wasn't called on one of them by the Mainstream Media. Not one. The GOP is trying its usual blackmail to force the Dems to let them cut spending to poor people more and give even greater tax cuts to the rich, despite the rich now being richer than they've ever been in this nation's history, and a big "both sides are at fault and need to just get along" from the MSM.

Well...that's how Hitler got into power, with the help and acquiescence of the media. Guess we're out to show just how easy it was. Too bad the Democrats are only putting up a minimal resistance.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Too good to last

I got nothing done on OT, tonight, half because I'm getting ready for this trip on Sunday and found out my plans for staying in NYC weren't going to work. Apparently because the van I'll be driving has a commercial license plate, there are a number of roads in the city I can't use...including the Belt Parkway, which would be the easiest, fastest route to JFK from the New Jersey Turnpike.

The hotel I planned to stay at was on the Belt Parkway. It would have taken me just under two hours to get to it from the packing job, and it would have been ten minutes to where I needed to go, the next morning. But to get to it any other way meant traveling a labyrinth of city streets that would have been damn near impossible to navigate short of being a native to the area. So I changed my hotel to one by the airport. Irritating.

I left work early and went to AAA to get a map of where I could drive, because they supposedly know all about this restriction...and after half an hour finally wound up with directions across city streets. No freeways. Their mapping system made no distinction between highway, beltway or city street so I couldn't work it out for myself.

So I came home and Googled directions...which insisted I take the Park Beltway. My one other option is to go through the Lincoln Tunnel and across Manhattan then along the LIE and onto the Van Wyck. I've been on both during rush hour, and all it means is NASTY traffic like what you find on the 101 or 110 in downtown LA.

Thing is, in LA I'd know how to get around this; NYC is still a mystery and going out of its way to keep it so.

I guess I'll do the city streets laid out by AAA, because it's a shorter distance and might take a bit less time. It's just a lot of stoplights.

I hate stoplights.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

In the beginning...

Of OT.

I gave myself a couple days to get past the jet lag before dropping by mom’s place of employment. I didn’t have her phone number, anymore, and really didn’t feel like waiting around her condo till she showed up. Mom had this habit of just taking off and not being around for a few days without bothering to tell anybody where she’d gone, so who knew if she’d even be home.

I’m glad I waited; this trip took a lot out of me. Going straight to dinner with Uncle Ari’s client after nine hours in a plane, not including the layover in Paris, and it being like eight pm the following day by my body clock before we were done...that was rough. But on top of it was Uncle Owen’s phone refusing to even let me leave a message when I tried to call him; it said his mailbox was full. So I asked Matt to do some research into him, then hopped on a nine hour plane ride back by way of the neverending boredom of Schiphol Airport, and the long flight was crammed with babies that took turns crying so much, I swore I was getting a set of noise-canceling headphones soon as I landed...only I fell asleep in the car, instead, as Tone was driving me home. When I woke up, I was in bed and it was the next day. Tone said I walked in all on my own, but I don’t remember it. Weird.

Anyway, I returned from darkness thanks to the aroma of his coffee -- well, my coffee, since he was holding it close to the bed, in offering. I sat up and took the mug and sipped at it; for some reason Tone likes his coffee just hot while he loves to boil his cocoa, but I’m still always careful with the first sip, just in case he’s changed his mind.

“Okay,” I muttered, “I’m starting to feel human, again.”

“You so sure?” he said.

“Lemme take a shower first,” I said, “and see if I’m still here, then. What time is it?”

“Almost noon. I’d offer you brunch, but it’s Thursday.”


“So brunch is for weekends.”

“Since when do you follow the rules?”

“Since I became a convicted felon. I cross the street at the corner. I pay for everything in my cart, even when the clerk forgets to ring something up. I bake potatoes to go with steak, as is the law in Texas. And I go one mile per hour under the speed limit when I drive.”

I looked at him, wary. “That sounds like the speech you’re gonna give the judge, next week.”

“Close to it. How ‘bout a grilled cheese and cup of tomato soup?”

“Sounds killer.”

“It’ll be ready when you are.”

I looked him over. He was wearing one of Matt’s t-shirts – the black one with a green skeleton’s hand covering the front – and it was a bit snug on him. That and the almost-loose jeans he was wearing made him look like a guy ready go out dancing, and it amazed me at how sexy he could appear without a thought.

I leaned back, finally realizing I was completely naked under the sheet and blanket, and put my hands behind my head as a sneer crossed my face. “Don’t you wanna watch me bathe?”

He smirked and trailed a finger from my nose to my belly button as he said, “Tonight, maybe.”

“Careful,” I sighed. “You’ll get something started.”

“Yes. The soup. Don’t take too long. Matt’s got something to show us, and then you can tell us both about how brilliant you were with Ari’s client.” Then Tone was gone. Not even a peck on the cheek. My breath must really be crappy, which wouldn’t surprise me, considering the crappy airline food.

I flipped the covers off and jumped to my feet and stretched. Man, it felt good to be in a place where I didn’t have to give a shit. And I don’t mean in Texas; I just mean in Tone’s and my place. I’d rented the left side of a two-story duplex on the north end of town, near one of the few parks the city had. It wasn’t new but was built solid, had hardwood floors and a couple of baths, and Matt was in the other bedroom.

He’d moved here six months ago, at my invitation. I did it to let him know I was okay with what’d gone down between him and Tone, and because I’d learned all his friends were online. That did not sit right with me. You should always have people around who can just be there to be with. Keeps you from getting lost in your own misery.

Turned out our neighbor was also Jewish and had a brother who’s gay. Named Aron. Who was stocky and smiley and half-red-haired and more than a little shy. But he and Matt hit it off, and now about every other Friday night, Matt did not come home till late Saturday or Sunday. After brunch, of course.

The rest of the week, he did programming and websites and maintained his domain hotels, which were set up along one wall in the dining room and let off this non-stop hum that could be heard almost everywhere in the place. And I think they had their own friggin’ satellite dedicated to them, all the crap Matt had going on inside those little boxes.

I looked outside at the back garden, and it was sort of drizzly and gray; the perfect day for soup. Winter was closing in and I looked forward to it. I liked the cold and snow of Copenhagen and hoped we’d have some here, this year. But maybe that wouldn’t be necessary, not if Tone and the judge worked things out, next week. Maybe they’d end the whole damn thing and we could get back to the real world. I’d hinted at Matt about joining us, but he didn’t seem too hot for the idea. What the heck, I’d made the offer; if he and Aron hit it off and he wanted to stick it out in this hell-hole, Tone and I could leave in peace.

So I showered and shaved and brushed my teeth and wrapped myself in a nice long robe and by the time I got to the kitchen, Tone had everything ready. Matt was there, grinning and munching on a sweet pickle as he tried to sneak bites of the grilled cheesers, like he was a kid. I plopped myself at the counter and let Matt pop a gherkin in my mouth as Tone ladled out the soup, and I felt like we’d become a nice little family...and thought maybe I’d try and talk Matt out of staying in Texas; he had no idea how vicious this place could be for a gay man.

That’s when I decided to see my mom the next day instead of that afternoon. I didn’t want to mess with how easy I was feeling, and I also wanted to get some more info under my belt before chatting her up about calling my father.

Turned out, I didn't have as much choice as I thought.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

That's my Jake

He's been in town a couple of days.

I got to Bennett’s office twenty minutes early, just so I could suss the place out. I got into the habit when I had to hit the probation office. The first couple of times, I was pissed off and my PO wasn’t cutting me any slack, at all, and I was close to being sent back to prison. Then I noticed how he was seeing four or five people an hour, and when the one ahead of me came out without a slouch to him, things went better between me and the PO. So those few minutes of watching people come in and leave and see what sort of emotional turmoil or joy they had going on helped me figure out whether or not I needed to make the son-of-a-bitch happy or could just slide.

Now, I didn’t do it to be nice to the guy. Even on his best days, my PO was prick. But I did not want to go back inside, because even with the stupid restrictions and impossible demands and ridiculous attitudes of the probation office, it was better than letting some fucker you’re sharing a cell with treat you like his personal slave...and I mean that in every way that you can think of. And it was better than dealing with asshole guards who think they’re as good as cops and keep trying to prove it to you, knowing full well that if you even thought about hitting back at them, you’d get years added to your sentence. And other convicts who were out to show how they’re the alpha-dog and you’re not even good enough to be their bitch.

You learn how to read people faster than they can take a breath, in prison. You learn who’ll cover your back and who’ll knife you for a drag on a joint. You learn how to talk a guard into letting you do anything you want without doing something he wants. You want to see country in miniature? Spend a week in one of its jails and you’ll know all you need to know.

So the reception area of Bennett’s office was one of those serviceable spaces that fronts for a dozen offices just past the big gray wall, with a semi-pretty receptionist behind a massive desk and commercial chairs; it could’ve been a doctor’s waiting room or an airport terminal or the next step to hell, for all you could tell. The place was almost full, but the only people ahead of me with Bennett were this guy and his lawyer, and the guy’s hands were shaking, a little. His lawyer was oh-so-softly explaining something to him, like the best deal he could get, more than likely, is one that’d ruin his life. I started watching them. The client was a little dumpy but dressed nice enough – not high-end but not Target, either. Closing in on middle age. A fat wedding band on his finger. His nails polished and perfect. His hair conservative and his posture just right. He screamed closet case.

His lawyer was actually good-looking. Sandy hair and earnest features on a strong jaw. His suit was probably JCP but it fit in all the right places. He had his right hand on the client’s left shoulder as his left hand gripped his briefcase so tightly, his knuckles were white. I don’t think his nails’d ever been manicured.

Now I don’t know why, exactly, but something about him seemed off. Not gay or closeted, but not real. Like he was acting a part. I focused on him. Saw how tight his neck muscles were. How he made little jigs with his head to emphasize a point to word or something he really, really wanted the client to understand or accept or give into or something, but the other people talking and the hum of the heating unit and traffic audible outside mixed in to make it a drone, so I couldn’t make out what they were saying.

Then the client snapped, “That can’t do that to me!”

That’s when it hit me what was wrong about the lawyer, and I popped off with, “Yes, they can.”

They both looked at me, and the lawyer said, “Excuse me, but this is none of your business.”

“They can do anything they want,” I kept on with. “The DA has the power of the police and the state behind him. If he wants to fuck you, he’s gonna fuck you. Only question is, how much of a fight’ll you put up.”

“Hey!” the lawyer snapped. “Butt out!”

And the room got a lot quieter.

“You’re not helping, any,” said the client.

“No, you’re not helping,” I shot back. “I don’t know what you’re accused of, but you picked the wrong lawyer to defend you. He’s scared shitless he’ll have to go up in court and -- .”

The lawyer bolted to his feet and snarled, “Shut up! C’mon, Gary, let’s go over here.” He started towards some chairs on the opposite side of the room.

Gary slowly got to his feet, his eyes hurling vicious pain at me. “You don’t know what I’m up against.”

“Don’t I?” I said.

“I have a wife. Three kids! I can’t go to jail.”

“So you’ll give into blackmail?”

That’s when a tall, slick, perfectly dressed man who had such perfect wavy brown hair that had such a perfect touch of gray at his temples I wondered if he dyed it that way, appeared by the door in the gray wall, looked around, and focused his ice cold eyes on me. Obviously, this was James A. Bennett, Deputy District Attorney, and I could tell he already knew who I was. And that he already didn't like me.
“What’s going on here?” he snapped.

Gary’s lawyer all but jumped over to him and pointed at me. “Jim, this guy’s messing with my client.”

Jim, huh? I got to my feet, smiling, as he tried to growl me into submission with, “Who’re you?”

“Jacob Blaine,” I said back. “We have an appointment -- .”

“We HAD an appointment. You’ll leave this office, right now, or I’ll have you arrested.”

“On what charge?”

“Start with you interfering with a criminal investigation.”

I laughed and turned to Gary. “Dude, you really do need a new lawyer. The one you got now is gonna fuck you, but good.”

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Rollin' with the day

Added 10 more pages and another 2200 words to OT, in the bit leading up to where Jake has a run-in with two cops. Seems he's already making enemies in town and running into dead ends. Another two characters popped up, and I'm not sure what to make of one, yet, while the other makes perfect sense. But the mystery's building, and all for a reason. I think. I HOPE.

I've been trying to keep away from the online news, too much, because then I want to read the comments...and then I want to make comments of my own. And I'm finding I can be as nasty as some right-wing-scum when it comes to stating my opinion. But I don't do good about that.

I'm having fun, right now, with that reporter who heckled Obama during a speech in the Rose Garden. His name's Munro, he's an Irish citizen with a green card to work in the US, and he wanted to know "why Obama favors foreign workers over Americans."

Does anyone else see the problem with this?

Apparently few do...because he's now a hero to the right wing for exhibiting a complete lack of manners or decorum in the face of the President. Now I don't like Obama, and I'm not going to vote for him in November; I'm voting Green. But this skunk of a reporter is now saying he just mistimed his questions, which is a flat out lie; the video shows Obama was still talking when Munro spit out his words.

But what's most interesting is, he was on Sean Hannity's show (on Fox, of course) defending himself and asking why foreign workers get preference over American workers. And Hannity was all but giving him a hand job. Completely ignoring the fact that...drum roll please...Munro is a foreign worker who took a job away from an American.

It would be funny if it wasn't so damned indicative of how appallingly STUPID the right wing is. And I mean flat out stupid.

But then maybe the whole friggin' country is, because on top of it, I'm learning there are kids out there who have no idea who Rodney King was, or who Paul McCartney is, or that the Titanic was an actual historical event and not just a snazzy movie...but who probably know what Justin Beiber had for lunch and which Kardashian is which.

This is what we get from 20 years of the GOP denigrating people actually having an education. It's the end of the world.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Wrote this, tonight

Jake's "boys" are Tone and Matt.

With my boys busy, I figured now would be a good time to drop in on Meredith Gorman. She rented the condo two doors down from Uncle Owen’s.

It was bright and sunny but a sharp chill was in the breeze, snapping hard enough to make me wonder if it ever snowed in this part of California. I doubted it, because no matter where you looked, everything was dry-as-hell brown or red or gray dirt and rocks, with only a couple patches of olive-drab trees to cut the monotony. I hated to think of how much water it took to keep the golf greens green.

Her place was almost like my uncle’s, with the desert flowers and plants for decoration and low water usage, except for another Oleander bush softening the corner. The stucco walls and double-pane windows looked right on it, especially next to the cheap-assed condos lined up to the left of hers. Staying in Uncle Owen’s the last few nights had shown me he was smart to weatherize them, even at the loss of a coupled dozen square feet; the a/c didn’t have to work non-stop on that one hot day and noise from the construction was nearly non-existent.

I rang Meredith’s doorbell and hear Geordie yapping. A moment later, she opened the door, telling Geordie to, “Hush, it’s Jake, you little fool.” Then she looked at me and smiled, and for a second she reminded me of my grandmother. “Would you like some bologna?”

“Don’t wanna make him too fat to yap,” I said, crouching down and letting Geordie sniff my fingers. Then he started yapping even more while spinning in a happy circle. “But then again, he may need the fuel.”

“It’s the small dogs that’re the worst when it comes to noise. Come in. Come on.”

She led me into a room filled with really nice-looking antiques and rugs, all of it coming across as comfortable and homey instead of just impressive. Pictures of her and Sondi covered the top of a baby grand piano and a couple of end tables. Her plants looked thick and healthy and gave the place the feel of a country conservatory.

She shuffled on into the kitchen, so I followed.

“You want some tea? I have a pot fresh brewed.”

“That’d be great,” I said.

She motioned for me to sit at the counter and watched me out of the corner of her eye as she brought down a couple of china cups and saucers. “You look good.”

“I’m fine,” I said, a bit confused.

“I hear the police beat you.”

“Only where it doesn’t show. The stuff on my face is just the usual On-the-ground crap they like to pull.”

“I hope you’ll sue the bastards.”

“That’s an option.”

“But not a good one. I know.”

Geordie was whimpering and skittering around the base of my stool, so Meredith handed me a slice of turkey bologna and I absently pulled off bits of it to drop down to him.

“You been through this?”

She poured out the tea, a smile on her face. I could almost see the memories rolling past her eyes. Then she said, “In the Fifties, during the McCarthy Hearings. I was called into the CEO’s office and told I was a security risk. Since we made parts for military aircraft, I was told I’d have to be let go. I didn’t say a word, just went back to my desk, under armed guard, and cleaned it out. Then I was escorted to my car and followed until I was off the property. It was all very humiliating, and meant to be. All those men acting like I’d committed some sort of betrayal of America by not wanting to be with any of them.”

“Jerks are jerks, Mere.”

“No, just assholes. And dicks.”

“Did you have trouble finding another job?”

“I didn’t need to. I was in procurement, and they called me back in and demanded I explain my system of ordering to my big, buff, married-with-children male replacement. I refused. They screamed and raved and ranted and threatened to have me arrested for treason.”


“Swear to god. I just shrugged and ignored them. This kept up for ten days. I was even visited by two rather menacing gorillas from the FBI, who informed me I was sabotaging a vital part of the nation’s security and I could be sent to prison. I just shrugged and ignored them.”

“I don’t get it,” I said. “Procurement’s not that hard. I did a version of it for the city, when I worked there.”

“All it takes is intelligence and an ability to think one step ahead of everyone you’re dealing with. What helped my cause was, the man who replaced me was an idiot. No, not so much an idiot as a fool. He waited for the heads of various departments to contact him and tell him what they needed, which put him about two days behind the curve on ordering. I always went to the shop stewards to find out what they were running low on. They were more accurate and I always had what they needed to them days before they ran out. They got used to that and didn’t go to my replacement when they got low on materials. So...they’d run out and the production line would need to be shut down, thus angering the union.

“Finally the CEO came to me and begged me to tell him how to make things work smoothly, again. I just shrugged and said, ‘No.’ Then I told him I was being considered for a position at Lockheed. The next day, I had security clearance, back pay, and my job, again. And I cleared up everything within the space of four days. I kept the job for another twenty years.”

“Why? They treated you like shit.”

“And I rubbed their noses in it, even day I was there.”

"Damn. What’d Sondi have to say about it?”

“She was terrified. She thought I’d get carted off when the FBI came, so stayed in her room talking to an attorney, just in case. She always was more afraid than I. I think she feared I’d die before she would, and she wouldn’t know what to do. I think that’s part of the reason she never made up a will. She was afraid it would jinx us. But then she died first, and because there was no will, I now live here instead of my home. It's almost pathetic.”

Sunday, June 17, 2012

125 pages; 30,000 words

That's where OT stands, right now. The sections aren't connected, yet. I have the beginning, two chapters in the middle, and the ending set...and I figure I'm about 40% done. Meaning this book's going to be about 75-80,000 words long. Fun.

Rose of the Golden Girls has mellowed, somewhat. Maybe I should call him by his actual name, now -- Donald. He's in a relationship and has a couple of kids he and his partner of seven years adopted. And there's an elderly lesbian who used to be a Rosie the Riveter and worked for thirty years at MacDonald-Douglas in Long Beach before retiring to Palm Springs with her partner.

The story's becoming convoluted as I go along, even though I know the ending and who did what, where, how, and when. I'm trusting Jake to pull it all together in the end. He's proving to be one dangerous wolf-of-a-detective, always having a backup ready in case his first plans go wrong. I wish I was like him.

Right now, I'm just scrambling to be ready for August. One positive note is, my sister was able to get a medical loan to cover our brother's dental surgery and dentures. She says she can handle that, leaving me free to keep supporting little brother till he's healed and back in order. Hopefully, that will help him find steadier work, because I'm 90% sure half his problem in finding employment stemmed from his teeth being in such bad shape, people thought he was a crackhead.

You'd think he'd have it easy, because he's Anglo and wants to do groundskeeping for apartment complexes and prep apartments for rental. That work is usually done by illegals in San Antonio because they're willing to work for minimum wage. But the GOP have been so busy threatening Latinos all across the board, I can't imagine businesses being willing to hire anyone Hispanic unless they have a US Passport to prove they're American citizens. It's like that all up and down the border, even into California. All of it backed up with some of the most racist nonsense I've ever heard.

But that's America. When I read that Rodney King had died, I looked over some of the comments on CNN and Yahoo...and they were vile. I know a lot of that crap's been there since before the Civil War, when blacks weren't even considered human even by men of God, but to see it so casually put forth...and applauded...and defended is just sickening. That's one bad thing about the internet -- what used to be considered too disgraceful to even discuss is now shouted from the rooftops with pride. Almost always anonymously.

If the left wing doesn't start fighting back against the right wing with the same vehemence they use against us, this country is doomed.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

"The Hangover" Teaches

I just watched it. The movie about four men who go to Vegas for a bachelor party and lose the groom somewhere during the night. Parts of it were funny as the tiger in the bathroom and the naked guy in the trunk. And I'm beginning to see why Bradley Cooper wound up as the sexiest man alive, last year. I'd chase him just like Sandra Bullock, now.

So maybe it was all the hype about it that led me to think it'd be even funnier than it was...but most of it was only worth a smile, and 85% of the time I could tell what was going to happen next. Not that that's bad; I've written scripts so I could see the plot points coming.

However, I am glad I watched it for one solid reason -- it showed me I did right by "The Lyons' Den." I took that book right to the edge of the abyss and spit into the void for it. What happens to Daniel gets to be just as wild and crazy as this major success of a movie...hell, sometimes, crazier because I think it gets to the point where you can't be sure if events are really happening or if it's all in his head. I'm especially proud of how I worked in the "I Dream of Jeannie" theme at a very precise moment.

I dunno. Maybe I'm still fooling myself on it. But I'm adding some of that wackiness to OT. I sat down and wrote a bit between Jake and a guy in Palm Springs named Dion, who's a 6'6" blond viking, goes by "Ruth of The Golden Girls", and is wearing a costume that crosses "The Flying Nun" and Mother Superior from "The Sound of Music"...from the hips up. Below is a black, square-cut Speedo, net stockings, and rhinestone studded flip-flops attached to a pair of perfect male legs. They wind up in a pool together during a Pride Weekend party and don't surface until Monday afternoon, and he will be important in the investigation.

Oh, just to be clear -- this happens when Jake visits his uncle just after graduating high school but before he goes off to college...and before his parents find out he's gay and disown him. Meaning it's long before he and Tone hook up, but Antony's still having a weird reaction to it that I haven't had a chance to explore, yet. That should be fun.

Of course, that means I've banished the writer's block. Now let's release the hounds! Yo! Bradley! I'm comin' for you! (And don't nobody say nothin' 'bout no puns, here!)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Fighting Writer's Block...again...

So I'm posting photos of Paris I found on a photography site. I only wish I'd taken these.
 Looking west. If I remember right, just below the Eiffel tower are the Ecole Militaire and Napolen's Tomb. Beyond the Tower you can just make out the skyscrapers of La Defense.
 Just a cool shot.
 Le Tour Eiffel. I've been up there but it was 25 years ago.
Love this. So butch.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

King Mittens

Stole this from Jezebel, via Salmagundi: North Dakota rejects hilariously terrible "religious people can do whatever they want" amendment:

South Dakota, I love you, but you're bringing me down. Your neighbor to the north, the lovely and creatively named "North Dakota," just pulled ahead in the ongoing Race to Determine Which of the Dakotas is superior by roundly rejecting a ballot measure that would have given any ol' religious dickbag the constitutional right to do pretty much whatever they wanted and then defend their action by saying it was their religion's fault. The amendment's pro-choice detractors feared that the law would be used to punch women straight in the babymaking parts, limiting their access to contraception and abortion. But potential violations of North Dakota women's bodily autonomy is not the only reason that the law was a terrible abortion of democracy.

Although it sounds like vintage Blunt Amendment-inspired swill, Measure 3 has actually been in the works since before an all-male panel brought to Capitol Hill to discuss women's access to birth control was just a glint in Darrell Issa's eye. But the same groups that are currently gung-ho about constitutionally enshrining the right of pharmacists to not do their job because it hurts their feelings are behind it.
The innocuously small amendment reads, "Government may not burden a person's or religious organization's religious liberty." Taken at face value, this doesn't seem like too nutty a proposition. But opponents point out that it could be used to justify a number of egregious actions, and then protect the perpetrators as long as the perpetrators claimed that what they did was in accordance with their religious faith. This includes child abuse, spousal abuse, slaveholding (I mean, it's in the Bible), rape victim stoning, and, of course, the requisite right to abortion and contraception refusal conservatives seem so eager to grant to religious professionals.
When I say voters "roundly rejected" Measure 3, that's not hyperbole — that horrible mess of a bill got its ass kicked. Thanks to anti-child abuse and pro-women's groups sounding the alarm, an unusually high number of North Dakota voters showed up to the polls last night. Sixty percent of them voted "no" on the measure, beating out the "yes" vote by 30 points. Turns out, people in Real America amittensre just fine with the religious freedom that everyone else has.
This is what I mean by commie-christians; they use lies to make their hatred part and parcel of how we all must live.

It also turns out a lot of progressives are uncomfortable with Romney's Mormonism because of how that church so loudly backed Prop H8 and how it uses its ancestry database to convert the dead to Mormonism, even if they were Jewish or specifically said they despised that religion before they died. That is the mark of a totalitarian cult.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Future shock

Looks like the first two weeks of July are shaping up to be very busy. I may be gone from my apartment for 10 days...and I can't handle not being able to write for that long. Plus I really do not like using TextEdit; it doesn't shift to Word with any happiness. So I'm going to break down and buy the cheapie Office for Mac, student edition. I only need it for word processing and occasional xl work.

I'm dog-tired. I didn't get to sleep till after 3am and had to get up at 5 to go to work. Then there's the mind-numbing aspect of digging through an inconsistently written auction catalog to find out what I'm doing, when where and how.

So watch a fun little review of a great movie, "Out of the Past". One of those perfect film noirs that you really ought to see before you know anything about it, so you can get caught by the twists and turns so neatly.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Nap time

I blew off working on anything, this evening and took a nice long nap after diner. I was about to drop over thanks to Zyrtek; the doctor I saw this morning told me I don't have bronchitis, just allergies, and suggested I try that to help get rid of the crap in my chest, but it makes me dog-tired sleepy. I was going through an auction catalog most of the afternoon and about to do a total crash and burn before I gave up.

Now I'm wide awake and going to dig back into OT for a little while. I'm trying to figure out who's staying in and who's not needed, anymore...and make the names of people consistent. I found the assistant to an ADA was noted as being Ms. Ginty in one section and Ms. Morrison in another. That would be confusing. I'm also dumping the section of Owen's story that doesn't fit.

I need to get OT done, because POS is beginning to stir, again, and for the first time in ages the beginning of "Darian's Point", where I show how the legends began, has come knocking and given me a new way to increase the meaning of the story. Shit, I have too much to do to have to work for a living.

Problem is, suddenly I'm looking at needing a good $14,000 by the end of the year to meet all the things I need to pay. My youngest brother is getting his teeth fixed at the University's dental school, but suddenly it's costing twice what he was told. My sister's able to do a good portion of it, but I don't think she can handle it alone and my middle brother is worthless when it comes to helping out on things like this. It's always, "I will", and then he never does.

Hmph, he sounds like the publisher of my first books. With him it's always, "Things are coming together" but they never do when it comes to money. The positive thing is, I may have a couple of packing jobs in August, so that will help a lot.

I never thought I'd be doing this much work at this age and still going backwards, financially, buff I retire at 66, I'll have to go bankrupt in order to be able to live on Social Security, if that's still around by the time the GOP gets done with it. So I'll be working till I'm dead.

What's funny is, I still don't see my writing as being work...because as much as I bitch about it, it's too much a part of me and a hell of a lot of fun more often than not.

Monday, June 11, 2012

"Too busy"

That was the excuse President Obama gave for not trying to help recall Scott Walker from being Governor of Wisconsin. "The President has a lot of responsibilities." And, apparently, helping the people who helped him get into office is not one of them.

I've finally realized Obama is not a Democrat. He's really a Republican at heart. He's done more for the GOP since being in office than he could even think of doing for the Democrats. Expanding wiretaps? No big deal. Targeting American citizens for assassination on the flimsiest of excuses? So what? Not going after Bush and company for war crimes? That's the past. Not closing Guantanamo Prison? Oh, did I promise I'd do that? Extend Bush's tax cuts? But of course. Investigate fraud in the banks and Wall Street? No way. Give tax dollars to the people who crashed the economy with no strings attached? Why wouldn't we?

It made no sense until I finally realized he is not one of us...and by that I mean, not a Democrat. I already knew he wasn't a progressive but still voted for him because the alternative was the catastrophe that John McCain was offering. Now I'm beginning to wonder if maybe it wouldn't have been better to let McCain win (I'd never vote for the SOB, but I could have withheld my vote from Obama). We'd be in the middle of a depression, but the GOP would be held accountable, like they should be, instead of being able to push everything off on the black man in the White House and we might already be back on our way to health, again.

Of course, McCain could have been a thousand times worse. I don't honestly know. I just know that in every presidential election since 1980, I voted my conscience -- which got to mean neither Democrat nor Republican in 1996 -- until '08, when I held my nose and voted for a backstabbing little prick whose skin is thinner than a gossamer wing and who was lying through his teeth the whole time in order to get elected. Hillary would have been a better deal for us all. That the Tea Party and the GOP refuse to acknowledge Obama's aid to them only shows how morally corrupt and racist they are.

The Green Party is holding its convention in Baltimore, 12-15 July. If they nominate someone, I'm voting for him or her. And if Obama loses to Romney, it's his own damn fault for betraying us. I know what it means for the country, but the fact is, the GOP is a cancer, and sometimes in order to kill the cancer you have to use treatments that are almost as dangerous as the disease. Yes, there is a risk it will kill the patient, but if you don't do anything the patient dies anyway.

So to hell with the Democrats and fuck the Republicans. I'm going Green.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Pixar's rules for storytelling

I stole this off their blog, --

Pixar story rules (one version)

Pixar story artist Emma Coats has tweeted a series of “story basics” over the past month and a half — guidelines that she learned from her more senior colleagues on how to create appealing stories:
#1: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.
#2: You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be v. different.
#3: Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.
#4: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.
#5: Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.
#6: What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?
#7: Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.
#8: Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.
#9: When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.
#10: Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.
#11: Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.
#12: Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.
#13: Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.
#14: Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.
#15: If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.
#16: What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.
#17: No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on - it’ll come back around to be useful later.
#18: You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.
#19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.
#20: Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?
#21: You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?
#22: What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.
Presumably she’ll have more to come. Also, watch for her personal side project, a science-fiction short called Horizon, to come to a festival near you.
Now give me time to come up with arguments against the rules put out by a group of people who've done so damned well with everything they've produced. If I know me, I'll find them...and then hopefully I'll remind myself of his --

-- and try to keep these rules from becoming one of those occasions.

(And a hat tip to Salmagundi for pointing me to it.)


I just watched the Gary Oldman version of "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" and got to thinking of the power some actors have that others just don't. I saw the Alec Guinness version when it first aired, and his inhabitation of the role of George Smiley was so complete, it will always be his in my mind. Period. Gary Oldman did an excellent job, but I never got past the idea that it was Gary Oldman. Of course, he wasn't helped by a director and editor who seemed to think only in 15 second scenes.

But the thing is, I've seen other shows where an actor makes everyone else around him or her seem like children playing at the game. Like in "Spooks", a British series about intelligence agents. The lead is a good-looking guy played by Matthew MacFadyen with a good bit of flair. But then came a couple of episodes where Hugh Laurie guested...and he owned the shows he was in without a bit of effort. From the second he was on camera, he was the boss.

Sandra bullock had the same power. She saved "While You Were Sleeping" from its second-rate director and pale male leads, and made you believe Kiefer Sutherland would spend years looking for her in the vile remake of "The Vanishing". But then again, she couldn't save "Miss Congeniality 2".

Of course, it could just be that the camera likes certain people so much, they come across better even if they don't have great acting ability. Or the actor may fit into one role perfectly while be inept in another, no matter how good they are. Marlon Brando, for instance. He's considered one of the greatest film actors ever and got two Oscars, deservedly, but he sucked in "Guys and Dolls" and came damn close to ruining "Apocalypse Now".

Then there's the case of "The Last Time I Committed Suicide", which had a beautiful script and excellent turns by Thomas Jane and Keanu Reeves but was flat out ruined by the director. I was so angry at what happened, I refused to see anything the director has done since...yet Jane and Keanu managed to come out unscathed.

Of course, Keanu brings the same questions to my wonderings. He was great in "Speed" and "Matrix" but when he tries Shakespeare or anything that requires he come across as intelligent, he's in over his head. He's not a stupid man; I've seen some of the books he reads, but his film persona is dumb-blond, even though he's brunette.

I dunno...I didn't DISlike this version of TTSS. It's just...y'know, I don't think the style was right for it. Le Carre's stories require thought and concentration and space to enjoy the puzzles they're building, and this version didn't have of that. It was style for style's sake, in too many spots, with unnecessary setups in others. For instance, when Smiley finds out his wife is fooling around with a colleague, the director has several different angles of Smiley coming to the realization, cutting back and forth between them, nonstop, refusing to let us feel the shock of the betrayal. It was just wrong.

The Alec Guinness version was languid, in comparison, but by the end, I was so caught up in it I didn't have any nails left to chew on.

That, to me, is the mark of a good movie. And a great actor.

Friday, June 8, 2012

More of "...Owen Taylor"

About 2/3 of the way into the story.

I busted straight for the jail, where they wouldn’t even tell me if Tone was there or transferred to the county facility in Yuba. And let me tell you, they were pretty obnoxious about it, too.

“You ain’t married, and you ain’t blood, so you got no night to know a damn thing,” is how this one skinny, stringy-haired bitch put it. Laced in a twang nastier than Texas.

I think they wanted me to start screaming and kicking things so they’d have an excuse to have me arrested, and truth is, I considered it for a second because that’d at least get me in to see him and make sure he’s okay. Instead, I got ice-cold and gave the bitch a tight smile and said, “Fine, I’ll have my lawyer contact you.” Then I walked out, very calmly.

And put in a call to Gregory. Guess whose number slammed straight into voicemail? Must be out on the golf course, making up for his missed session.

I looked across the parking lot at the cells. They were done in this fake Pueblo style that looked stupid on new buildings, and the only windows they had around the sides were little more than mailbox-sized slots a good eight feet up. Then I remembered Enrique, from that jail in Texas, glanced at my watch, and I smiled. There’s more’n one way to crack a detention file.

I was parked in the side lot so just waited by my car for about half an hour, and people in uniforms started rolling in, then a few minutes later, others like ‘em started rolling out. And finally I saw Sandoval, that medic who’d treated me the week before, this time wearing a ratty t-shirt and holey jeans, but no mistaking his walk. He was headed for a beat up pickup truck, his silver hair dancing in the hint of a breeze. I bolted over to him, waving and calling, “Yo, doc!”

He looked around, startled, then saw me. It took him a moment to remember me, and I let him take it. No sense spooking the rabbit if don’t have to.

“Oh, hey,” he said, almost smiling. “How’s your ribs?”

“Still ache,” I said, smiling. “But Advil helps. Can I ask you a question?”

“What about?”

“A guy was brought in, this morning. A little taller’n me. Slimmer. Brown hair. He’s my cousin and a little on the un-sharp side, and my aunt’s not gonna be here till tomorrow and she’s buggin’ me to find out how he is, but that bitch at the front desk won’t even confirm he’s here. Have you seen him?”

He looked at me like I was crazy. “You know how many people we got in lock-up?”

“More’n should be there, I’m sure.”

He huffed. “No shit about that.”

“C’mon, doc, all I wanna know is if he’s in there and he’s okay. Okay?”

“I need a better description.”

“You follow tennis?”

“Shit, no.”



“You seen pictures of that player the LA team brought in from Scotland?”

“No – wait, yeah. Yeah. Jordy something.”

“Antony looks like him, only slimmer.”

“Wait – An-tony? Oh, shit -- I know exactly who you’re talking about, now.”

Oh, shit? Oh, shit. “What d’you mean?”

“Little shit damn near bit my head off when I called him Anthony.”

Well...that was a good sign. “Yeah, he’s a real dick about his name, like it matters.” And I gave him a what-you-gonna-do kind of smile.

Doc nodded and sighed, “He got a lawyer in California?”

“I can get him one.”

“Do it, and fast.”

Fuckin’ shit. “C’mon, doc, what’re you talking about?”

“I dunno what those fuckin’ cops did to that kid, but if they think it’s gonna get swept under the rug, this time -- .”

I grabbed him. “Doc, what the fuck happened?”

“Eleven stitches to his face. And I reset his nose. I think he’s got a concussion, but the motherfuckers won’t transfer him to County for evaluation. A couple Rangers’re en route to take him back to Texas, and the city don’t want him on their hands a second longer than need be.”

“They fuckin’ BEAT him?”

“Oh, those idiots swear he slammed his own head against the table while they were questioning him. Like anybody’s gonna believe that. Especially since there’s tape of it. Idiots.”

That stopped me. I let go of the doc and took in a deep breath. He had no idea what’d happened in that room. But all of a sudden, I could see it, clear as day. And I was gonna rip someone a new asshole.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Found out a part of what I was planning for OT won't work. Dammit. I had it all written out and was using it to illustrate the sneakiness of the DA's office...and things just don't work the way I thought they did.


But this is why you have to do research. I could have put this stupid idea in the book and it would have destroyed the whole premise. I was really careful when it came to BC, even met with an ADA in LA to make certain certain parts of the story would fit within the realm of reality (cost me a sandwich from Cantor's). But I was also careful enough to keep it in Eric's and Bobby's perspectives so little errors could be brushed off as mistakes in their perceptions. I think it worked.

Of course, I would. I haven't had a professional review of it. Of any of my work. I've tried to get people to do it -- at "DNA" and "The Advocate" and the like -- but generally got ignored. Which may be a good thing. When I look at official coverage of my scripts, it depresses me. Usually because it's so damned brutal and occasionally snotty. Even when I got positive coverage, it was qualified.

But those are just the ones who paid attention to the story; if they didn't and their commentary was riddled with errors, I could ignore them. I might not be able to do that with a review by somebody in something like "The National Review" or "The NYT Review of Books". Those people back up their critiques.

Maybe that's why my world is so apart from life, right now. I need the protection of a cocoon of a sort to let me go from being a fat little caterpillar to a monarch butterfly. Man...could I have chosen a gayer image?

I had an odd dream, the other night. One that's still with me, which is unusual because I rarely remember what my dreams are about. And this snippet was me at a house or film set, where Elizabeth Taylor was the star. And she was in her second period of beauty, like during the "White Diamonds" moment. I asked her to sign a card saying how sorry we all were that Diana Ross didn't get a role in some other film, and Elizabeth went ballistic and cursed me...and I woke up.

Got no idea what that means, if anything. Except I'm truly psychotic. Hm...that would explain so much.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

RIP, Ray...

I stole this from Cory Doctorow off of by way of salmagundi (see link below). 
Ray Bradbury is dead. He was 91 years old. He wrote some of the most inspiring and beautiful stories I've ever read. He fought for libraries. He changed my life with a novel called Dandelion Wine, much of which I can still quote from memory. Every time I find myself wandering a city street alone at night -- every single time -- I think of his storyDrink Entire. He did some stuff that disappointed me, but I never fell out of love with the art that he made. The world is much richer for the work he made, and much poorer for his passing.
From the AP obit:
“The great thing about my life is that everything I’ve done is a result of what I was when I was 12 or 13,” he said in 1982.
Bradbury’s family moved to Los Angeles in 1934. He became a movie buff and a voracious reader. “I never went to college, so I went to the library,” he explained.
He tried to write at least 1,000 words a day, and sold his first story in 1941. He submitted work to pulp magazines until he was finally accepted by such upscale publications as The New Yorker. Bradbury’s first book, a short story collection called “Dark Carnival,” was published in 1947.
He was so poor during those years that he didn’t have an office or even a telephone. “When the phone rang in the gas station right across the alley from our house, I’d run to answer it,” he said.
He wrote “Fahrenheit 451” at the UCLA library, on typewriters that rented for 10 cents a half hour. He said he carried a sack full of dimes to the library and completed the book in nine days, at a cost of $9.80. 
One of the greatest days of my life was when Gardner Dozois reviewed my first professionally published story, "Craphound," and said of it that it had a "rich, Bradburian vein of nostalgia" running through it.
Update: Jenny Hart points out that Bradbury had a beautiful essay in The New Yorkerlast week.
My favorite of his works is "The Martian Chronicles". I held him in the same esteem as Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein; Arthur C. Clarke was later in my life.
I didn't know about how hard it was for him to write "Fahrenheit 451". Makes my whining seem petty and churlish.
How wonderful that he was ever here.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


I've posted a thousand times on this blog. Wild. And I'm still just getting used to it. Someone told me, if you don't blog every day, you're not a blogger. Which is nonsense, really, but it gave me the impetus to keep doing it.

Well, today a close friend of mine posted this on my FaceBook page, and it got me to thinking of how much of a writer I am. Especially when I'm whining about it. And bitching. And moaning. And snarling. And how I can't imagine not doing it.

I've actually tried to stop, a few times, but it's like an addiction -- you can't let go unless you really, really want to...and I've never really wanted to. I like living with my characters. Sometimes they're more real to me than reality (hence the set-up for LD cutting so close to my bones).

But it is like magic. I remember when I was younger, right up through college, sometimes when I was reading my mother or grandmother had to actually poke me to get me to pay attention to them, I'd be so deep into the story. Science Fiction. Suspense. Horror. Mysteries. Classics. If I got hold of a book I liked, I wouldn't want to leave it.

Of course, I've also read things I couldn't get into, but usually it was because of the way in which it was written. I didn't like Russell Banks' "Continental Drift" because it wallowed in misery, and someone told me I didn't have the stomach for reality in fiction, which is nonsense. Dostoyevsky and Turgenev are hardly bastions of sunshine and light in their works, but I loved "Crime and Punishment" and "Fathers and Sons."

And also it depends on the translation. I tried to read "War and Peace" because Tolstoy was so highly thought of as a master of character, but I just could not get into it. The style was arch and tiresome. But a few years later I happened onto another translation and gave that a chance, and it was so mind-blowing, when I learned the translator had also done "Anna Karenina", I read that one too and fell in love with its creator. The same for Robert Musil's work; I tried to read "A Man Without Qualities" and was bored out of my mind, but then a new translation came out and it was much better.

I doubt any of my books will ever be translated into other languages, but that doesn't matter so much to me. The whole process of writing is my meaning, now. Even IF, which I've bitched about a lot...I haven't been fair as regards it. Vinnie's not my character...and yet he is. Like he's more than a stepchild while less than my flesh and blood...and I deeply resent anyone messing with him, even the guy he's based on.

And I guess that's the truest mark of a writer -- my characters are mine, no matter whose they are; do not mess with them.

Monday, June 4, 2012


I'm a freak. Here I am working on a book I don't even like -- Inherent Flaws, just to be clear -- and I'm worried about sending it out before it's ready. I rewrote it...had to rewrite it because many spots in the last draft I did had been changed and the changes including nothing in the way of punctuation. I had never seen anyone write sentences without at least putting in commas...but that has changed.

There were some places where I just plain could not understand what the changes were supposed to mean, so I cut them out, completely. Turned out they weren't needed, so NBD. Now I'm asking friends to read the book and give me feedback on it so I can make it as good as I can.

It helped being sick. I slept part of the day and didn't want to go out, so stuck at the computer the rest of the time, eating soup and drinking herbal tea and toast and GOD, I want an eclair! Or Chili's ribs and fries with chips and salsa. But at least I'm feeling a bit better.

This is my 999th post, BTW. Tomorrow will be my 1000th, and I wonder what I should do to commemorate it?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

New sales figures...finally

All updated for my first 7 books. Through the end of 2011 I've sold nearly 2100 copies, with HTRASG, my first, being the biggest seller -- 941, and it's still chugging along. Doesn't sound like much, until you consider the average total sales of a book is 500 copies; that puts me solidly above average. Next is PM with 378, RIHC6v1 with 307, RIHC6v2 with 167, BCv1 and BCv2 with 135 each,  and BCv3 with 29.

I'm disappointed in how the BC series is selling, but I can't say I'm surprised. It winds up being $30 for the three volumes, in Kindle, when they're being discounted. I can't imagine anyone wanting to put that kind of money out on a book that has a tragedy at its core (and hasn't won a Pulitzer). If my name'd been Shakespeare, that'd be one thing...but it's not. I think I am going to work on the publisher about letting me make a single edition of the book available through CreateSpace to see how it works, offering it at maybe $20. See if that makes a difference.

I'm still sick and contemplating staying home, tomorrow. My head aches and my sinuses are killing me, but I think I kept this thing from traveling to my chest. So far.'s been a while since I've had such a nasty summer cold.

Of course, when I feel bad, I have a hard time writing. I managed to get through to the halfway point with IF, but it's been a slog. Things'll be going great and then I'll come across a sentence that makes no sense and wonder what the hell I was thinking, writing it...then realize it was redone by my "partner." And there have been a couple of places where he changed something that he didn't think was right for how things worked and I had to completely restructure the lead-in and information so it sounded consistent with Vinnie's voice and didn't come across as a plug-in of information.

I'm getting to where I hate this fucking book.

It's funny how that works, but as much as I enjoy and whine about my much as it can seem like a chore and something I cannot do without...when I'm doing it for me, I can live with it all. Doing it form someone else's sensibility and also having to deal with their poor grammatical skills has shown me I have no business being a ghost writer or rewriter. It's insulting to me to have anyone who cannot even use proper punctuation tell me what to write.

My Leo-like arrogance is threatening to take over, again. Roar.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Back to "Inherent Flaws"

I may have some packing jobs in the Philadelphia, DC area which could take up to a week, beginning next weekend, so I decided to get IF polished up. I don't have Word available on my laptop, anymore, so don't know how I'll be able to do any writing while on the road.

It hasn't been easy. I'm still fighting off a cold and slopping down so much in the way of fluids, I should set up a table for my laptop into the bathroom and just sit on the toilet and piss whenever I feel like it. But that doesn't sound comfortable, for some reason.

So...I've gone through 85 pages, so far...and it's going to take more work than I expected. Sure enough, there are other moments where the ex-cop rewrote things in his non-punctuation style. And if I'd been skimming through it to check for typos, only, I'd have missed some of them...because they aren't in blocks.

Places where he corrected how things worked in the police academy, for instance, were blended in with what I'd written. Only his way of doing it wound up repeating some of the things I'd said, just in a slightly different way. Or he stated something that did not need to be stated because it was obvious from the actions being presented.

It's hard to keep from getting pissed off, especially since it makes so damn much more work for me. But like I told him, this is it. I'm not doing another rewrite like this. In fact, right now I'm wavering about asking for feedback, even, because it may mean more work on this thing, and I want to get done with OT so I can get on with POS.

But I probably will ask some friends to read it and tell me what works and what doesn't. And check for typos, which I'm hideously bad about. I can't send out something I'm not proud of.

Something that did come up with POS thanks to the documentary I saw last night is, I've got Brendan's mother wrong in some major aspects. I need to let this realization permeate through me so I can face her with the contradictions in her. But something I noticed...she's nodding up and down about the changes. And Brendan's nervous about them. That's a good thing.

Now I'm going to work on one more chapter of IF before bed.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Meant to be

I came home early from work and took a nap. Seems I'm trying to catch a cold and the battle's been ongoing for the week, so I'd pretty much talked myself into staying in all weekend.

But then I remembered the Albright-Knox was having a viewing of some Irish short films and a documentary on Bernadette Devlin...and I talked myself into going out for dinner then watching them. It was a nasty little argument, too, but Brendan kicked in and reminded me of my obligations, so I bought some cough drops, too.

I'm glad I went. It was a fascinating documentary, apparently done for RTE by a woman who's been as big a firebrand as Bernadette has -- Lelia Doolan. She's been working in Irish film and television since 1961 and is very left-wing. She famously resigned from RET because it would not let her do the projects she wanted, and was director of the Abbey Theatre in Dublin for years. She made this documentary just a year ago, while she was well into her 70s.

Bernadette Devlin McAlisky was at the center of the People's Democracy movement in Northern Ireland, was at the October 5th march that wound up brutalized and bloodied by the Royal Ulster Constabulary, was on the People's Democracy march in January that was attacked at Burntollet Bridge, was the youngest woman ever to be elected to Parliament (at the age of 20; she took her seat after she turned 21), was part of the rioting in August that brought the British Army into Northern Ireland, and was tried and convicted and sent to jail for "inciting the riots."

She was at Bloody Sunday and famously slapped Reginald Maudling, the Home Secretary in the Conservative government, when he claimed in the House of Commons that the British Army fired in self-defense on Bloody Sunday. When asked if she would apologize to him, afterwards, her snap back was, "I'm only sorry I didn't my hands on his throat." She was also nearly assassinated by radical Unionists on the eve of the hunger strikes that wound up with Bobby Sands and 9 others starving themselves to death. She is still an organizer on the side of human beings and against the state apparatus that keeps people's rights on a tight leash.

She was amazing to listen to and there was archival footage I hadn't seen, before. And what was really interesting was how the times leading up to "the Troubles" are so damned much like the times of today. in the US. The poor being turned against the poor (using race in this country instead of religion) while the rich maintain their control through their casual access to government. Nothing ever seems to change.

At least I don't need to worry about "Place of Safety" even seeming outdated.

As for the shorts - they were mainly cute and polished. The usual stuff.