Archives - January-February 2005
February 25, 2005
Things are going well in Gollywood vis-a-vis Undercover White Trash. Can't devulge any details, but things are progressing nicely. Stay tuned.
Speaking of movies and screenplays and Gollywood stuff, I just read a good article on the state of writing for Hollywood. Here's a couple of excerpts from the article that sum up the theme:
Add to that the endless parade of other bad remakes and TV-show knockoffs like "Beverly Hillbillies," "SWAT," and "Adams Family."
It's interesting to watch the Hollywood machine begin to turn. Being a part of it - even the tiny speck of a part that I am - makes it far more real to me, and therefore interesting, than if I was just a casual observer. The process is complex and political at this point. Studios, agents, actors, and other power brokers all get into the fray, adding a weird assortment of twists and turns that is impossible to keep up with. You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours becomes the mantra of this new movie-making organism, with each player offering this, accepting that, refusing this, and denying that. This process goes on and on and on until the final cut of the movie is set, distributed, and shown to our popcorn-chomping audiences around the world.
So right now, UWT is still in the infancy of its life in Hollywood. It's popped out of the womb, gotten a few slaps to the rump, a footprint, and a birth certificate. But it ain't grown up yet. It ain't even a toddler.
At this point, there's nothing I can do to help my baby grow up. It is all out of my hands. All I can hope for is that the foster parents who want to adopt my precious will cough up a goodly amount of dough for him. I've already signed away my parental rights. The only thing I can do now is have another baby and see if anybody wants it.
February 17, 2005
I was looking for an old photo to help illustrate The Date From Hell when I ran across a box load. Thought I'd post a few here, totally unadulterated or modified. Blemishes are blemishes, braces are braces.
I guess I'll go in more or less chronological order.
Me at 14, freshman year of high school. This is the one and only photo I took during my entire high school tenure. I skipped school on the other days on which we took class photos. I don't think this one ever made it to the actual yearbook because that year, the yearbook staff decided, in all their wisdom, to allow the students to pick their school photo, write their name and class on the back, and put it in a big hopper for the staffers to place into the yearbook.
Not a good idea. I think I chose Alex Lifeson as my name. He was the guitarist for the band Rush. My pal Chuck picked Neal Peart, the drummer for Rush, and another buddy picked Peter Criss, the drummer for Kiss. A bunch of other kids did the same. When the yearbook staff found out, they threw out all of those photos. Note the Gibson T-shirt.
Me circa 1977, age 15, on a yacht in Marina Del Ray, California. A great summer with my mom when she lived there. Saw Farah Fawcett shooting an episode of Charlie's Angels. She was really short. Also saw Hugh Hefner get on his sailboat - a black boat with a black sail with a HUGE bunny logo on it - with a couple of chicks and a picnic basket.
Must be nice.
Me at 15 again. Speaking of Farrah...
Anyway, if I look a little under the weather, it's because I have hepatitis and have been in quarantine - in my room - for the past two months.
But I had Farrah and my Electrophonic Hi-Fi, my Kiss poster, and my very nifty Electra Flying V guitar with a Music Man 130 watt amp pumping through four Peavy 12-inch speakers.
Dig it. My neighbors loved me.
I still have the guitar in its original case. If you know of anyone who wants to buy it, give me an email.
You can't see it, but my T-shirt says "Have You Thanked a Green Plant Today?"
Speaking of green plants, here was my second favorite high school shirt. No one at my school noticed these weren't petunias. Never got kicked out of school like I did when I wore my Disco Sucks shirt.
Note the Levi Big Bell jeans.
I'm 16 here.
Speaking of green plants... Me and my best friend Chuck somewhere. Note the libations on the table, and the very hip-and-trendy bamboo window treatment. Note also the ubiquitous Gibson T-shirt and the "Whoa, dude; is that a camera?" looks. 1977, age 16.
Chuck was pretty buff and could do the manly leather thing, but I couldn't pull it off. I went for the "disturbed loner" look.
Me at a Rainbow concert. Not a gay concert: Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow, silly. The loudest concert I ever attended: 140 decibels at 20 feet from the stage.
That's the back of my head... I think you can see Blackmore just past my right wrist.
And last but not least, me and my big sis; I think I'm 15 or 16 here. She's probably 18. I guess I'm trying to look tough or am really ticked that someone is taking my picture.
The green army jacket was my trademark. It smelled like corn dogs, tobacco, and marihoochie. Had a lot of pockets and provided absolutely no warmth whatsoever.
Ah, so there you have it. A trip down memory lane with Mr. Boy.
February 10, 2005
Grocery Blues Part II
It says a lot when the most exciting thing in your life is your weekly trip to the grocery store. But with my writing career in the dumpster and not much else going on...well, it will just have to do. Went to Target tonight on my weekly grocery store run. I usually go on Mondays when the crowds are thin; most people get their grub during the weekend. But I jacked around and didn't go until tonight. Of course, the place was a freaking zoo. I get my few little items and head to the checkout counters. And of course, there's only two lanes open.
So, I pick the shortest one, which is still long, and listen to the women in front of me telling googoo gaga stories while I look at the cleavage on the covers of the women's magazines. Suddenly, I feel my cart moving. I turn around to see a little old lady in a Target uniform pulling it away.
"We can get you over in this lane," she said, pointing.
It was the Express Lane. "10 ITEMS OR LESS" the sign above it said.
This has happened to me before. They move me into that lane, even though I have a cart full of stuff. What usually happens is that the person who gets in line behind me gives me a rash of shit for being in the line with more than ten items. Or sometimes, they just glare or clear their throats, or tell their kids they always need to obey the RULES. Tonight was a little different.
I'm the only person in the lane at first. I get my shit on the conveyor belt as quick as I can. About halfway through, I hear a man's voice.
"Are you an accountant?" he asks.
I turn around to see a guy putting a basket with less than ten items on the end of the belt. He's about my age, about six two, two-thirty. He glances at the sign above my head. Of course, the little old lady isn't around any more to tell the guy that it was HER idea to put me and my thirty-eight items in the express lane. So, not being in a particularly jolly mood, but not being in a particularly hostile one, either, I turn around and walk over to the guy.
"The manager put me in this line. And no, I'm not an accountant."
I guess I had a worse demeanor than I thought I did. The guy turned red and held up his hands. He began blathering about accountants, and how they always screw up numbers and such, and how he didn't mean anything by his comment.
"No offense taken."
"I'm from Ohio."
I don't know why he said this. I guess it was his version of "I'm from out of town and don't know the local customs."
"That explains it," I said. I guess people from Ohio don't realize that 400,000 Texas have the legal right to carry a .40 caliber Glock stuck in their pants. I guess people from Ohio think that starting some shit with a complete stranger in a checkout line is a funny thing to do. I guess people from Ohio don't realize they're in the big city and some of us are riding on the edge of sanity about half the time, and the other half of our time is spent cleaning, fondling and shooting our guns.
He went on to point out a cake in his basket.
"Yeah, I'm here in town on business. Needed some toothpaste, and..."
"And that cake just JUMPED into your shopping cart, I see."
"Yeah, I guess so." He laughed sheepishly.
Dumb lug. I sighed and said, "Happens to me all the time. But with me, it's cinnamon rolls. Can't buy 'em; I'll eat 'em all in one sitting."
The Russian cashier lady gave me my total. I had already put my debit card in the thingie. I glanced behind the guy; there were seven more people in line now. The old lady was nowhere.
"Oh, no," the cashier said. "I forgot to ring up your waters."
The waters that were sitting right in front of her. I had to sign for the big purchase, then do it all over again for three gallons of water. The line was up to nine people now; the regular lines were empty.
The guy was still talking about cakes and stuff when I walked away from the checkout lane.
Maybe tomorrow he'll be on a plane back to Ohio, telling the person next to them how touchy everyone in Texas is.
February 3, 2005
Been seeing a few things in the news regarding people speaking their minds. Or rather, speaking out of their ass, as the case may be. A few cases in point:
Ward Churchill. This is the armchair revolutionary professor from Colorado that wrote a nasty essay comparing the 9/11 victims to Nazis and such, basically lauding the attacks and subsequent deaths of thousands as a justifiable military act against the fascist imperialist regime that is America.
First, let me say a little something:
The First Amendment guarantees that the government won't put you in prison, or put a bullet in your head, for saying or writing something they don't like. Yeah, yeah, some of you are shaking your head and saying crap about the Patriot Act and other conspiratorial nonsense, but even you must agree that the intent of said amendment was just what I said: keeping the government from applying total censorship.
What the First Amendment doesn't protect you from is the reaction of society, groups within that society, or individuals. The First Amendment doesn't apply in the workplace, for example. Tomorrow, call your boss a motherf***er and see how far your "free speech" argument goes in your EEOC hearing. It surprises me how many people don't get this concept. It also surprises me that the people who vocalize the need for free speech are often the first ones to decry someone else's exercise of it.
Churchill is a guy who has made a career out of his revolution-while-sitting-on-my-ass-in-an-ivory-tower philosophy who has now been faced with the hard reality that the First Amendment - written by people and a nation that he hates - isn't there to protect him completely. He not only has been banned from speech making, he is about to get his ass fired because a group within our society - a very large group - is calling for his head. Especially since he has been sucking on the taxpayers' tit for the last dozen years; why should they have to subsidize his sedition? Sure, the First Amendment guaranteed he had the right to write that essay. But the non-spoken and non-written part of that amendment - Paragraph B - says that you'd better be man or woman enough to live with the personal consequences of what you say. The government might not put you in jail for saying it, but they sure as hell aren't going to watch your back out on the streets to defend you, either.
The next case can be read here. It seems that there's a legal precedent in the making regarding us bloggers. Apple is suing a blogger who posted corporate secrets about the company. The blogger is claiming a First Amendment free speech right. Apple says he's a journalist who must abide within the confines of journalistic ethics. Other bloggers say that they are more like diarists; posting their personal musings for the world to see (I guess I'm in that category) and therefore don't fall under such rules..or laws. All bloggers should watch the process of this case through the courts. However, I'm sure it won't make much difference to me, because I'll continue writing whatever the hell I want to write about. But for political bloggers, this may be a case that makes or breaks the phenomenon of the political blog.
The next incidence of free speech-out-your-ass is my favorite: Lt. General James Mattis of the USMC. A combat veteran of both Afghanistan and Iraq, he was at a public discussion yesterday when he got a little excited and uttered a few choice words:
Absolutely goddamned right. No euphemism here. If the general's attitude about fighting disturbs some of you, remember this:
This is what Marines do.
They train for it, they're equipped for it, and they do a darn good job at it, too. We keep them socked away in their own world until the shit hits the fan, then we read the sign on their door that says IN CASE OF WAR, BREAK GLASS, then we break it and let them loose. To do our fighting for us. If some of them enjoy it, that's just reality. If some of them don't, but do it anyway, God bless 'em.
So there's my First Amendment diatribe of the week.
Thank you, Thomas Jefferson.
January 29, 2005
I was reading an article at work the other day on the unusual topic of autoerotic asphyxia. Like I said, I was reading it at work, so it was work-related. I'm not a practitioner. There's not a whole lot of material out there on this strange subject, which by the way, if you don't know what I'm talking about, you're gonna have to look it up yourself.
Anywho, I was reading along and saw this little case study and thought I'd share it with you. Seems to fit the motif of my site here very well. Pardon my morbidity, lack of empathy, and overall poor taste...
Maybe I'm a little warped, but I think there's a country/western song in here someplace...wanna hear it? Here it go...
Sung to the tune of Hank Williams' I CAN'T HELP IT (If I'm Still In Love With You)
Today I went out to the barn
With lovin' in my heart
I Can't Help It If I'm Still In Love With You
A hay baler was by your side
And he looked so satis-fied
I Can't Help It If I'm Still In Love With You
I remember that day so well,
the day that I first met you, gal.
I shoulda listened to that salesman
who said you was just a big ol' hoe.
But I thought he was just a' sayin'
A' somethin' to get my dough.
I Can't Help It If I'm Still In Love With You
a dingity do, dingity doo...
January 27, 2005
Strange how things work...
I've had this site a couple of years now. Except for the blog, I don't update it very often. I haven't posted any new short stories - but I plan to - or such lately. I have counters on some of the main pages. I put these there to try to get a snapshot of where people go when they get to my site. I can see what books or features interest them the most. If I was a savvy webmaster, I'd improve the content and flow of the site to accentuate those places people go and would improve those places they don't go. But seeing as I can't even get an image rotator to work in the above image table, I can't think of anything to do in these areas.
The counters tell a story, though. I can tell new visitors by the ones that go directly to the home page; most of my regular blog readers go straight to the blog. Then I can tell when they branch off to the main book page, then I can see which book interests them the most. But I bet no one out there can tell me what the favorite place on my site is. The place visitors go the most. The page that has the highest hits except for the blog.
It's the short story I Was A Male Avon Lady.
Why does this attract so much attention? I dunno. Maybe people Googling "Avon" find it more often. Maybe people out there are looking for some comic relief in these dismal days. Maybe I should pick up the Clue Phone and do more funny stuff. But if I was going to write material just to please an audience - i.e. sell books or this web site - I would write either a diet book or a self help book.
So, I may switch priorities this year. Change my goals. The first book I'll do will be a diet book:
The Methamphetamine Diet:
Snort your way to a vibrant life!
Hey; this diet has worked for over 80 years now; why reinvent the wheel? I'd add a section on calcium supplementation, or course, so the dieter's teeth don't fall out as quickly when the speed leaches the calcium from their bodies. I may even include a section on the merits of both smoking and injecting the stuff. It would sell big at WalMart checkout counters. I could even do a special one aimed at an urban audience:
The Crack Ho Diet
The next book would be one on self-empowerment. Seems to be a trend in this type of book lately. Mine would be titled:
Did You Move My Cheese, Mother F***er?
Those of you in management know this spin; you've probably had to read the other book. But you won't find any whiney "my life is out of control" precept in my version. Instead of heady introspection, I'd offer tips on getting even with those suckfish who want to drain the life out of you, steal your job, or are otherwise a thumbtack in your chair.
Anyway, I'll contemplate on this awhile and get back wid ya.
January 25, 2005
Cudos for Mr. Boy
Celebrated (?) my 20th year at my job this past summer. Just got the photo from the ceremony this week. I don't know what took them so long to develop and distribute such a crappy-ass photo, but at least I got it:
I edited the face of the other 20-year guy next to me out of respect for his privacy. He actually works for a different department, too; I don't have a spiffy uniform like his. I didn't crop him out entirely because, well, standing next to such a big guy makes me look rather...svelte.
Working at the same place for 20 years is an accomplishment, I guess. Or it could be that I'm too chickenshit to look for another job. Or it could be because I'm really not qualified to do much else. A couple of years ago, our department was looking at layoffs of managers as a budget-cutting tool (yes, public sector does this, too) so we all got out our resumes to polish up a bit in case we found ourselves out on the streets. As I was looking through the want ads and spiffing up the resume, a sad fact of life suddenly dawned on me:
I have absolutely no skills that transfer to a private sector job.
There aren't many openings for people who do what I do, or possess the skill set I do. Sure, I can interview a rapist or pedophile. Darn good, too. I can even train others to do the same. I can tell what drug someone is on in less than ten seconds, just by looking and listening. With a few details and in a few minutes, I can lay out the secret details of a person's life...a biographical dissection. And I'm right 90% of the time. I can figure out why he's in the situation he's in and can offer some pretty good remedies to put him into a better state. I can also make the decision that this person's life may not be worth saving; the danger he presents to society in his current state far outweighs the benefits of trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.
I didn't see any of those skills requested in the want ads.
Of course, I could always transfer my mundane management skills to a job as a night manager at Denny's.
But, lucky for me, I missed the layoff. Twenty-two of my comrades didn't.
So I feel fortunate to still have a job I love, a job that pays pretty well, and is a constant challenge that keeps my brain active. There's rarely a dull day where I work. Sure, there's negativity in the constant barrage of human suffering. But hell, you can turn on the news and get the same thing.
So, a pat on the back for Mr. Boy, and for all you folks out there slugging along in your own day job, day after day, year after year.
January 22, 2005
Received a little short story today from one Hallie Ruth McGonigal. Don't know who this person is, but the short story/essay is interesting. A little slice of life, the kind of life we don't normally run across in our everyday lives. Be sure and check it out.
By the way, the nasty quotes come from a great book called The Little Book of Venom by Jennifer Higgie. I found it at B&N for five bucks in the bargain rack.
Adding to the topic of the previous post, notably the pitfalls facing the indy writer, I've added a couple of links to sites that focus on exposing scams against writers. I'll add to the list as I find more; some are pretty good. Some even track legal action - like indictments for fraud and theft - against phony agents and other lowlifes.
Went on a little trip today to Hamilton, Texas, down in the Hill Country (I think). Had to pick up a nifty art deco buffet I bought down there a couple of weeks ago. And no, I'm not gay. I had to take the 'Burb down there to pick it up. It was a two-hour drive. But, I got my nice new tires - Cooper Laredo Stealth LT's, baby, and an oil change, new radiator, and I even washed it. The tires are LT commercial-grade heavy duty tires with reinforced sidewalls. I mounted them black-side out, thank you. Unlike the pretty-boy tires on your usual Cowboy Cadillac, they ride ROUGH but that's okay, because I'M A ROUGH AND TUMBLE KIND OF GUY. Ha. Not. But I do bang the things into curbs and such on a regular basis, so I need the hard tires. Anyway, the drive beat me to death, and because my 1988 analog radio/tape deck won't play tapes, I had to listen to the radio. Now, in central Texas, I learned that they listen to BOTH kinds of music: Country AND Western.
So not only is my prostate gland swollen like a grapefruit and my back is in spasms, but I have a David Allen Coe song stuck in my head...
January 18, 2005
Proceed with caution
Back to stuff about writing.
If you're an indy writer like me, you'll find that you are contacted on a fairly regular basis by snail mail or email or both by companies or individuals who say they can do something for you.
For a price, of course.
They get your name from public records like copyright filings, or from email lists to writer's magazines. Now, being afraid to try anything new, or being afraid to take a chance, will get you absolutely nowhere in this business. Just like any business, you have to spend money to make money. But unlike most normal businesses that work in a rather established environment of rules and regulations and caveat emptor, the game of publishing is played on a much different field.
As I've stated here before:
The industry to exploit writers is bigger than the publishing industry itself.
Always keep this in mind when reading these offers. They all sound good: Booksigning scheduling, book fair exhibitors, mass mailers, magazine ads, book editors, etc. But are they good? An even better question is: Can I get the same thing done for a better price? Or even better: Can I get the same thing done by a company with a good reputation, who will actually do what I pay them to do?
Caveat emptor: Let the buyer beware. Good advice from the ages. I've received three such offers for services in the past two months. Two I've passed upon and the third I took. The first offer was from a company called VendorPro. They promised to list my book on their site which they claim is a hub for wholesalers and retailers looking for new products to buy in bulk. Sounds good. So, being the suspicious sort, I put their name in Google and found quite a few links to forums where the posters told what a scam they were. Efforts to locate the true owners or their legal paper trail were fruitless, according to one poster. In short, I found not one positive thing about the service in my search. For all I know, they may do exactly what they say they'll do. But to risk $300 is not worth it to me. So, I passed.
The next was from Bookman Marketing. Ditto on my Google search. These people offer all kinds of marketing services. Maybe they're good. Maybe not. What caused me to pass on them more than anything is the pricing; I feel I can do the same things through other companies at a better price. Hell, if I wanted to schedule a booksigning tour, I could hire a kid for $10 an hour to call fifty stores and set up a dozen signings within an area. It isn't a big deal. Another thing that bothers me about this company is that they are a limited liablility company. An LLC or an LLP is a company that is basically untouchable from a legal standpoint. Their liability - in terms of dollars - is "limited" to the bond they are required to carry to establish the corporation. In Texas, this is $50,000 or $100,000. A company that sets itself up as an LLC or LLP from the onset is afraid of legal problems.
The third company that contacted me was a company that represents authors at book fairs. In this case, the London Book Fair. I've been wanting to crack the European market for some time, and even had a couple of books represented in London by another company. They also represented a couple of my books at the L.A. Book Expo. I went there an actually saw them at work, and I wasn't really impressed; I want people to hustle to sell my books, not sit around and wait for people to stroll by and look at them. The company I'm going with this time had nothing bad about them on the 'net, and is a well-established company with a reputation for working for their keep. And since I spent zero on book promotions last year, I figured the $150 investment was worth a chance. So in the next few days, I'll be readying a promo packet for the London Book Fair.
So next time you get a letter from any company touting their services, check them out and check them out carefully. Remember that most of them are buzzards circling over the desert of your life, hoping to get piece of your carcass.
January 12, 2005
Well, seems another Playboy Playmate of the Year is up to no good. Carmella DeCesare,
the illustrious skin mag's PMOY 2004 was in a bar in Cleveland when she was accosted by her boyfriend's ex, one Kristen Hine:
Hines and some friends started a ruckus with the centerfold in a strip bar appropriately named Tramps. Well, the little woman got up in a fit of rage, grabbed one of the poles used by the dancers, and did her best Trinity imitation, giving Hines a flying Kung-fu kick to the head that doggonnit, woulda made all three Charlie's Angels proud.
Now DeCesare is on trial for misdemeanor assault, facing a year in jail. Will DeCesare be the next Anna Nicole Smith? Martha Stewart's roomie in prison? Will Playboy do a soft-core porn movie with DeCesare in it called: Attack of the Centerfold Girl? Will Hines write a tell-all book about the incident for a sweet six-figure deal? Hell, Amber Frey did it; a million bucks for being a homewrecking slutpuppy...
Well, I made this post not out of any prurient interest, but to see if Google would drive a bunch of traffic my way like it did when I posted my other crazy white chick with a foreign name that has a capital letter in the middle of it post on Debra LaFave.
January 6, 2005
Happy New Year
Yes, I'm still alive. Just busy. Haven't kept up with the blog lately. I'd say it was my new year's resolution to do so, but I'd be lying. Unlike sugarmama, who has the most well-thought-out resolutions I've seen, I don't really have new year's resolutions. I do have some goals, however. I have these all year long, and each January is a kind of re-focusing period. A time to sit back and analyze what I need to do and how I can get it done. An important point in goal-making is to not plan on doing too much. This sounds like the credo of a slacker, but in fact, it makes little sense to plan so much you wind up either getting frustrated or burned out trying to do it all. A few big goals is plenty, with small goals leading up to the accomplishment of the main goal. Simple stuff. Some people argue whether or not goals should be specific or general. I prefer specific. Here are my goals for the year:
1) Write two screenplays and a novel.
2) Get an agent.
I guess the first one is really THREE goals...so let me re-goal here:
1) Finish my current screenplay.
2) Write a screenplay based on Idea X.
3) Write a novel based on the screenplay of Idea X.
(If you're wondering, "Idea X" is my secret. Don't ask.)
4) Get an agent.
The current screenplay is almost done. I've marked out some time during the evenings to go to coffee shops and such to work on it. This frees me from the distractions at home. I've also put in for a considerable number of days off from the day job, days I'll devote to writing. Just a day or two here and there.
I've already laid the groundwork for Idea X, but I'll need some more research and a little help. Those of you who've read my work know I like realistic detail, requiring much research. The research for some of Idea X is so difficult, I can't even begin to look where to find it. So, after laying out the outline of Idea X, I've decided to hire someone to help me. I need some monumental brains to pick.
I've found a few people whose brains I can pick for $15 an hour. Graduate student brains are quite cheaper than stripper brains to pick; a good lap dancer would charge me $100 for five minutes of picking. For Idea X, I'm not sure which one will wind up costing me more money.
So if anyone knows of an astrophysicist, lap dancer, or Jesuit monk who would be willing to make $15 an hour talking to me, let me know
As far as getting an agent goes, I've started putting my feelers out. I'd rather not do the mass-mailing routine again. A back-door intro and referral would be more likely to succeed.
So if anyone knows of a literary agent stripper with a PhD in astrophysics, give them my email address. The Jesuit monk? Well, I'll have to wing that one.
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