Archives - April 2004

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April 27, 2004

Bad Company

This handsome fellow may be an ancestor of mine. His name was Ben Kilpatrick, alias "The Tall Texan." He was an outlaw in the old west. A bank robber, horse thief, train robber, forger, and all-around n'er-do-well.

And I'm proud of his ass.

This is a peculiarly American tradition; being proud of our psychopathic criminal ancestors. Hell, we're even proud of outlaws that weren't even our kinfolk. It's like those dolts fighting each other in court to prove they're the genetic seed of Billy the Kid, a cold-blooded serial killer and misanthrope. Now that's some DNA I would want swimming in my gene pool.

I love America.

Now, back to Ben. There's a clan of Kilpatricks, not related to my own, who claim they are descended from this rascal. My belief that he was an ancestor of mine is based on an oral history of our people, recorded way back in the 1970's from an old great great aunt of mine or something. She mentioned her cousin "Ben" and very non-chalantly said he was a bank robber and a bad seed. I haven't done any genealogical research on Ben; I guess I'm afraid I'll find out he's not really my ancestor and I won't be able to brag about him any more.

He's most famous for his association with these guys:

That's The Wild Bunch. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. If you've ever seen the movie, most of it is bullshit. But it's still a pretty good flick, and some of their exploits are authentically recreated. That's Ben in the middle. They took this picture wearing their new duds they bought with the money they robbed from a bank. They then mailed the photo to the bank manager. Old-time outlaws had a little class. Unfortunately, a Pinkerton detective happened to see the photo in the window of the bank in Fort Worth and ultimately used it to track down the boys.

Back to Ben. In typical Kilpatrick fashion, after he and the boys robbed some trains and banks and such, he took his money and his outlaw gang groupie, one Laura Bullion, to St. Louis to party with the loot.

This is Miss Bullion. I'm sure she looked better in her groupie duds than in this mugshot from the federal pen. In his day, Ben was considered quite a lady's man. So, there he was in St. Louis, living the high life with his sweetie when the Pinkertons caught up with him. He got a ten-year stretch in the federal penitentiary in Atlanta. He didn't get a chance to retreive his Colt .44 revolver that he had taken to a gunsmith shop for repairs; I found it on an online auction today. It's selling for over $19,900. Wish I had the cash.

 

Here's Ben's mugshot going into the penitentiary in 1902. In that day and age, getting 10 years "hard labor" meant just that; he wasn't going to be playing much tennis in the joint. I guess that's why he doesn't look so happy. Laura got her own prison sentence, and the Pinkertons, to this day, still have love letters between the two. In these letters, Laura talks about "their" children, leaving us to believe that ol' Ben sired some offspring. Maybe one was my great-great uncle or something. Anyway, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Here's his mugshot taken when he got out in 1911. A little thinner, but man, that guy still had dark hair. No Grecian Formula in those days. He was 35. Professing to go straight and return to his family's sheep farm, he returned to Texas with only a prison-issued cheap suit and cigar, and a five-dollar bill. In a few days, he was sporting a $50 Stetson, new clothes, and new boots. He didn't have a job. He was suspected of robbing a few banks, but it was never proven. What was proven is that he and another guy robbed a few trains. Now, Ben had been in stir for awhile and didn't realize that robbing trains was rather passé in 1912.

He took up with another criminal named Ole Hobek, and the two robbed their way across Texas. Their luck ran out in Sanderson, Texas, when the two were robbing the Express (the same train Ben and Black Jack Ketchum had robbed in 1897). To make a long story short, he f***** up really bad, and the mail car guy whacked him on the head with an ice mallet and killed him. He then took his gun and killed Hobeck.

This is one David Allen Trousdale, the low-down dirty dog that killed Ben and Ole. I guess he was just doing his job, and no one should be faulted for defending his life and property against a couple of hijackers. But if I had indeed inherited Ben's outlaw genes, I'd probably track down Trousdale's great-great grandson and pop a cap in his ass. Get a little western justice.

 

Here's Ben's ignominious end. Ben's on the left, with his pants falling off in typical Kilpatrick fashion.

They were buried outside of Sanderson.

With their boots on.

 

 

*****

April 25, 2004

I Take It All Back

Things I was wrong about:

The bugs didn't die. It rained all weekend, leaving conditions unsuitable for chemical warfare.

Audrey Seiler predictions: I was right about the faking thing, but I had hypothesized that she had done it either because she's in the beginning stages of adult-onset schizophrenia (she's at the right age) or because she was pregnant and wanted to create an "excuse" for her being so. These evidentally aren't the case: she's just a needy dumbass.

Okay, on to other things. I was in Borders the other day working on my screenplay. There was a movie poster on the window hawking a new movie called Laws of Attraction, with Julianne Moore and Pierce Brosnan. I was staring at the very lovely Moore and realized she'd make the perfect Pandora Collins...

Jude Law would be a perfect Jerry, and Colin Farrel would be a perfect Bill (whose name is now Sean in the screenplay).

When I'm writing characters, I like to picture a real person in my head as I create them. It makes it easier to develop detail if you aren't imagining a faceless entity. You have to be careful, however, not to re-create a character they've already played. Just keep in mind the physical aspects of their face and body, not the emotional. When I was writing Stalker the first time (the original title was just plain Stalker), I was only imagining faceless characters. During the rewrite ten years later, I had changed the way I do things. Jude Law was easy for Jerry, but I never could place a face on Pandora. I guess that's the mystery of her character showing through; I could never pin her physical appearance down in detail. In general I could, but I never could attach a face to her; she seemed to "morph" in my head constantly. Maybe that's why her character is so intriguing to me and many people who have read the book.

*****

April 22, 2004

All Bugs Must Die

Was leaving my house today and out of the blue, a yellow jacket (a vicious and big-ass wasp) stung me on the wrist. Felt like someone had put out a cigarette on my skin. I screamed a girlie scream and ran like hell. Put some ice and ammonia on it, and took an Allegra for good measure.

But the varmint f***ed with the wrong human.

This weekend, all flying invertebrates at my house WILL DIE.

They will taste my wrath. They will die twitching in a cloud of toxic fumes that would make Saddam Hussein himself envious. I'm talking crying-out-for-their-mammas kind of death. Scorched f***ing earth, baby.

Vengeance will be mine, and it will be sweet.

Okay, now on to other things...

Got contacted by fellow writer and blogger Cindy Lynn Speer at A Pen and Fire. You should check out her blog; lots of good poetry and reviews of books. You can see some of her writing there, including a few novels. She also has a ton of information on agents and resources, and some good writing tips as well. If you are wanting to improve your skills or contacts, this is a definite blog to bookmark and check frequently.

The final?? draft of the screenplay is now in Hollywood. Waiting by the phone. As usual.

P.S. As I was putting ice on my wrist today, my cell phone on my belt (set to vibrate) rang. I thought it was another yellow jacket. Must have jumped three feet off the ground.

I am putting together another Jacko-and-other-whackos post. Stay tuned.

*****

April 18, 2004

Thanks

I'm shocked, amazed and happy that Joanie and Jenny have included me in their "Top 10 Bloggers They'd Like To Be Stranded On A Desert Island With" lists. I'm in good company; the 18 other candidates are a Who's Who of the blogging world. Both of them put me on their list for different reasons, and their reasons are as intriguing (to me, anyway) as they are mysterious. But whatever their reasons, I thank them both very much. To be chosen by them, two of my top three favorite bloggers, is an honor indeed.

Now on to other things...

You can judge a book by its cover (if it's red)

Was outside a Barnes & Noble store today and was looking into the display windows. I don't know how the stores choose what books will go into the window, but to have a book displayed there is a guarantee of sales. If B&N chooses these display books on a corporate or even regional level, it can mean big money for publishers and authors. As I looked over the display, I realized why the publishing industry is so f***ed up.

The books were displayed by color. Books with yellow covers were grouped together. Light blue covers were next. Then green. Red. Pink. Dark blue... Fiction next to non-fiction. How-to next to self-help. Dictionaries next to travel. No rhyme or reason. No hint at quality, readers' ratings, not even something as predictable and shallow as a NYT Bestseller List.

Just color. Writers bled to get some of these works on paper and into print. Yet someone relegated them to mere objects; scraps of color slapped onto the wall to create a collage. Some grown-up's fingerpainting.

If I ever see one of my books in a B&N display window marketing collage, I think I'll throw a brick through the f***ing window. Well, probably not; I need the money.

Writing Tip O' The Day

Finished the rewrite on the screenplay this weekend. A few little tweaks here and there as the editor wanted. No big deal. The story flows much better now. But the editor did have one complaint that she didn't point out in the first draft. It was one of those things that, once shown to you, makes you want to slap yourself in the forehead and utter, "Jeez; what was I thinking?"

I had six characters whose names start with the letter "B."

Seven if you include the dog named Bruce.

In a screenplay, where everything moves pretty fast, having several character names that begin with the same letter is rather confusing to the reader. In a novel, the writer has plenty of time and space to separate these characters and develop them to the point they won't be confused with each other. A screenplay moves too fast for that. Also remember that a screenplay, at this point in its life, is something that is read. Read by people who may want to take it further. It is still a work of literature, so it must read well, but it must convey the story in a convincing way. But more than anything else, it is a sales pitch. Confusing the reader is not good for a screenwriter's career.

So, the only way around this that I could see was to change some character names. This time, I made sure to consciously choose names that began with different letters. However, I did allow Bruce the beagle to keep his name.

So my writing tip o' the day is: List all your characters' names on a sheet of paper. Make sure you list all of them. Then compare the first letters and make sure you don't have too many that begin with the same letter. There's a million names out there, so don't worry about not finding one that fits the character.

*****

April 14, 2004

Bowing to Pressure

Disheartened that my counters are showing that not as many people are visiting my site and blog as they used to, I mentioned jokingly to Dragonfly Jenny that I ought to post myself naked to generate some traffic; seems to be the thing to do these days.

After a little thought, I decided to go ahead and do it. What do I have to lose? Since I don't have any nekkid pics of myself, or a digital camera, I'll have to post a semi-nekkid pic of myself. So here goes nothin'.

Okay, now that that's done, I need to get to work; the screenplay came today and I need to get on that rewrite...

*****

April 12, 2004

The "R" Word

Just surfing the channels and wasting my time. Found a show on Showtime called "The L Word." Maybe this is a hip show but being tragically unhip, I'm just now getting hip to it. The show is about a group of lesbians/bi's, whatever. Lots of intrigue and bad art. And toss in some rip-my-clothes-off-and-get-down-on-the-coffee-table sex; the kind of sex that only happens on Showtime and in the Penthouse Forum. The show also has a lot of the "F" word. And bad haircuts. And women kissing women other than their partners. Then crying about it while uttering "ohmygod" a lot.

But I guess like most guys, I find the show rather intriguing. I don't know if it is a realistic portrayal of the L World, but if it is, it shows that L's are as F'd up in their "R"elationships as heteros. Rather disappointing; I guess I was hoping that an absence of testosterone would make things better.

Damn, some chick just pimp-slapped Jennifer Beales for cheating on her. Now they're biting each other and doing...a Showtime sex scene. Lots of scratching and crying. What the hell?

Now one of the women is marking on a big board. Looks like a "who is boffing who" board. Kinda like a flow chart. Wow. Looks like the flow chart they showed us in an STD training I went to.

I guess being tragically unhip has its benefits. Not being hip to the lives of lesbians/bi's/whatevers is...OMYGOD! Some show just came on about gay men. Some guy is doing some other guy from behind. Jesus! Where's the $%@!ing remote???? There. FoxNews. Whew...

Seeing people getting blown up is better than this.

*****

April 10, 2004

Bad Kitties

I'm not a cat person. But I've seen that most bloggers are cat people. And the rest of my family are cat people, too; 15 cats among four of them. We had as many as 21 cats at our house while we were growing up. Being in the middle of all this cat stuff, I know a little bit about cats, even though I don't have any of my own (For the record, I did have a cat when I lived with my folks. I named him Dudley Gonads because of his prodruding testicles. He stayed with my dad until last year, finally passing away peacefully at the estimated age of 23. The Dudinator was a bad mofo. Even though he was small for a tom, he kicked ass whenever he had the chance. His last battle took place just a year before he died; he got out of the house and opened up a can a whupass on some poor unfortunate tom that was in his 'hood. Imagine: a 161-year-old man getting into a fight... R.I.P., Dud!).

So I have a lot of cats in my neighborhood. Since the rest of my neighborhood doesn't worry about any laws, anyway, they ignore the city ordinance about cats being on leashes if they are outside. These cats wander all over, as cats do. Toms have territories, and I've watched a steady stream of contenders come in to the 'hood over the years and excert their dominance over the others. They fight and jockey to be the top cat, the "O.G." of the feline world. But about two months ago, a new guy came to town.

He was a half-Siamese, not huge but built pretty stout. In a few days, he took over the entire street by eliminating every tom he confronted. The rest of the cats could not be found anywhere; they hid in terror as he prowled. Because of his style, I named him "Michael Corleone." In The Godfather, Michael dealt with his enemies in one grand stroke of audacious violence.

He ruled the roost for several weeks. All contenders had been wiped out or run off. Then he disappeared. I don't know what happened. Perhaps he got hit by a car, or his owner moved and took him away. Regardless, peace and tranquility returned to the cat 'hood. They came out of hiding and went about their business, even sunning themselves in the open yards; something they would never have done if Michael C. would have been around. But peace in the cat world, like peace in our own, is short-lived.

In a few days, another tom came to the 'hood. A huge black furry male, dirty and scarred like an old time boxer. I named him "The Black Death." He quickly rousted the few puny challengers and took his place as top cat, having his way with the ladies and lounging about in everyone's yards. But two days ago, I saw him:

Michael Corleone is back in town. And he's not happy.

The fights between him and The Black Death have been ceaseless. Day and night, I can hear them howling and hissing (they're fighting outside right now as I'm writing this). It is obvious to me at this point, the two are at a stalemate; neither can top the other.

But rumor in the 'hood is that Michael C. has brought in some outside talent; a button-man from Jersey. In the strange way of gangland nicknames, they call him "Cuddles."

I don't how the struggle will end. I guess to the cats down lower on the food chain, it doesn't really matter; one dictator is as bad as the next. But one thing is certain in my cat 'hood:

It's a jungle out there.

*****

April 8, 2004

Mucho apologistos

Been off-blog awhile. Busy. Yadda Yadda. But like a fifteen-year-old with no girlfriend and a religious objection to whacking off, the stuff has just been backing up in my system. So here goes...

Kurt Cobain

Heard a radio program today where the DJ (who should have been playing MUSIC) was interviewing some guy who just wrote a book about Cobain's "murder." Conspiracy stuff not worth going into here; I'll save that for the million I LOVE KURT sites out there. I guess what struck me about the interview was the DJ calling Cobain "the greatest poet of our time." Excuse me? Greatest poet of our time? I'll give in and say that he was an okay song-writer, and maybe a very good poet in terms of his lyrics. But I hesitate to call a guy "the greatest poet of our time" who wrote lyrics like these:

A mulatto

An albino

A mosquito

My Libido

Yay!

But I do like this line from the same song:

Here we are now; entertain us.

I think that should be, and maybe is, the mantra of Generation Y. The sad fact of the matter is that no one would even talking about the guy these days if he had not put a shotgun in his mouth and splattered his brains all over his living room. Oh, make that: if someone hadn't given him a hotshot of heroin and shot him to mimic a suicide...

Which leads me to my next topic: spam. When you get right down to it, aren't TV and radio commercials spam? The radio station I was listening to, when not doing dumbass interviews like this one, runs about 25 minutes of commercials per hour. The same goes for your average TV show. These commercials are just like spam: advertisements sent out to tens of millions with the hope of a few thousand acting on them. Why are we not objecting to the onslaught of commercials on the airwaves? I guess in a way we are: revenues from advertising, that is, the revenues generated to the advertisers - the bang for their buck - has been steadily dwindling for several years. They have to put more and more commercials out there to get the same results they were getting ten years ago. Our rebellion against this "spam" has been technological: Satellite Radio and subscription TV. I read an article a year ago that said with the advent of TiVo and similar digital recording systems, free broadcast TV would be obsolete in just a few years. Advertisers will just stop paying the stations for ad time if they aren't getting a return on the investment. I say "right on;" I'd rather pay up front and be free from the endless stream of mind-warping ads that bombard me every day just so I can see a sitcom or listen to a decent song.

Next topic: At a Red Light in Fort Worth

George Jones wails on the radio: Things Have Gone To Pieces. A towtruck next to me sports its company name: TOW JAM. Two white trashy women walk briskly to the jail to get in line for visiting hours. They carry only the necessities of life: a pack of Marlboro Lights each. The younger one wears a jersey with the number "69" on it. A thundercloud rises behind the buildings, black against steel gray and blue. A cop on horseback meanders across the intersection, a straw Stetson on her head. Behind her follows a truck with a boy-pissing-on-something sticker and a "3" decal, the driver's homage to brother Dale.

A thought enters my mind: WTF am I doing here???????

Next topic: Hollywood

Finally got a contact from the agent about the L.A. Stalker screenplay. Told me to call the script editor. Did so. She's finished the review of my second draft and is sending it to me for a final (hopefully) revision. If it's okay, then the agent will begin to shop it around to her contacts in the industry. So, here I am watching my front porch for the FedEx guy.

Next topic: My house

Brandy over at American Butterfly said that having an old house like mine would be really nice. It is a nice house, but old houses come with unique problems. For example, in your newish suburban dwelling, you're unlikely to hear an electrician say, as he takes a first look at your fuse panel:

"Damn, I saw these in a book once."

Or the plumber who quipped as he looked at my leaking water heater:

"You know, to replace this and get it up to code, I'm gonna have to take out that WHOLE WALL."

So those of you who want to see my old house, here it is.

*****

April 2, 2004

What NASCAR, Wisconsin college girls, and Hollywood have in common

In the last post, I said I had a prediction about a recent news story. The story was the one of Audrey Seiler, who disappeared from her apartment on March 27. Here is what I wrote that day:

Audrey Seiler faked both the assault on her during which she was struck from behind by an unidentified assailant and found behind a building, and the current abduction.

From what I am seeing in the news, this seems to be the case. A disturbed girl seeking attention. I'm sure some detectives were suspicious after the first phony incident, and had probably put the case on the back burner. When she wasn't getting the attention she wanted, she upped the ante and staged the second alleged crime. Imagine all the grief she has caused; worried family and friends, terrified citizens thinking a psycho was on the loose, and from a citizen's standpoint, how about what this has cost taxpayers? Imagine paying overtime to a few hundred cops who - except for a very few investigators who probably really knew what was going on - were risking their lives to find Audrey's imaginary gunman? I'm sure the police administrators put on the dog-and-pony show to keep the public satiated, but I bet they were pissed the whole time, watching their budget eaten up by the charade.

I guess it's the cynical side of me that saw through the girl's bullshit. Maybe I just spend too much damn time with twisted, f***ed up people. I'll save the rest of my prediction for later, after she gets charged with whatever crime it is in the Dairy State.

Other stuff...

Hollywood: Nothing. I really hate when they don't call. One day you're the cat's meow, and the next day they've forgotten all about you. Remember rule #1 of being a writer:

Never get your hopes up.

But remember rule #2 of being a writer:

Never give up hope.

If you can follow that convoluted thinking, you'll be okay.

Rock and Roll: Heard a car drive by today playing Led Zeppelin. It was very refreshing to hear a young person blowing out his eardrums on something other than hiphop or Tejano. I guess there's hope for America yet.

NASCAR

There's a few days of racing at the NASCAR track here. I won't go into a long diatribe about what I think of this "sport" but suffice it to say that I really hate to be here during two things: The first is The Fort Worth Stock Show and Exposition. This is when hundreds of thousands of white trash WalMart types come to town to look at cows and ride the rides at the fairgrounds. Here's an example of some typical dialog, as heard by a woman who works for me, as she sat next to a couple of Stock Show visitors in a restaurant:

"Hey, Duane, that Club Sammich was sure gud. Never heard of those before. Ya oughta try ya one."

"I don't eat nuthin' that's named after a billy stick."

"They really shoulda warned a feller about them toothpicks, though; I almost stuck one plumb through the roof of my mouth."

True conversation. Now, back to NASCAR. That crowd is more or less the same as the Stock Show mavens, only the NASCAR folks seem to have a lot more money, and there are over a hundred thousand of them here ALL IN ONE WEEKEND. At least the Stock Show is spread out over an entire month.

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