September 30, 2010

The Forty Two Year Plan

My fantasy, if you were counting fantasies as stuff that matters, goes like this:

"I have a few minor books on the market that generate a modest number of readers and I still get to live the rest and therefore bulk of my life in total and abject obscurity." Hey... a Mission Statement!

To resume...

"Being a microscopic asteroid in the literary cosmos means my personal life and its rhythm doesn't change at all. Nobody bothers with book signings or useless interviews with reporters from the ever-unread Book Section because there are realistic (and therefore zero) expectations that this thing is going to be anything notable enough."

What would tickle me would be a few mentions in obscure compendiums of peripheral literature and a miniscule number of devotees who never take it seriously enough to actually be something stupid like a cult following. That works for me, but of course none of this really doesn't matter as much as my granddaughter.

I know for one that I'd rather have critical acclaim over financial reward if only because I don't think I ever - EVER - considered writing as something that would be "a living." From the time I was in school I always figured it would go side by side with "real" jobs. Plus there's something I've never been able to reconcile - I don't actually want people who think that the mainstream juice being squeezed out the corporate book world is good, also liking what I do. There's something just not right about that. It isn't that I wouldn't want to be read by millions, it's just I have never expected that would be possible. That said there is a niche like this that does actually exist. So it isn't as if I'm on LSD right about here.

My idea of a model would be the guy in the picture over there - though I'm in no way comparing my style to his nor am I saying my stuff will ever carry that kind of cache. But that guy, virtually unknown outside of a small set of people who "get it," is kind of in the back of my mind. That - to me - would be just too cool for words and I can't really explain why. You can do the research on the guy up there if it strikes your fancy. His name is in the jpeg code. That kind of thing doesn't really interest a lot of people, but the more you read on him the more you'll be intrigued.

I'm pretty sure that there are people - even some people close to me - who are going around thinking this is either ridiculous or silly, or that the stuff I do isn't ever going to be good enough because I'm not doing it right, or I'm aiming for the wrong thing, or I'm wasting my time, or whatever other kind of "know-best" they want to foist into my universe (picture me going lalalalalala).

But if you have an idea of how difficult and competitive the publishing world is I think you could see this as a "doable" scenario. If we look at "dreams" as being a thing, this is a reasonable one, I've always felt. And I've been dreaming this dream for 42 years now - from the time, at 14 (wow...) that I knew this is what I really wanted to go for.

I guess it's not like I ever had a five or ten year plan huh?

September 27, 2010

A Series Of Tubes

I like the internet and I don't like the internet. I've met some good people through it and met some crappy people through it. It's helped me learn and made me stupid. It's made me more productive and wasted a lot of time. It's helped me appreciate people more and made me truly believe there are folks who are completely irredeemable. In other words it's just like real life, only it's in a box.

The best thing about it is that if there are too many trolls and cranks around I can just turn it off and walk away. You can't always do that with real life. And that's the other thing; you used to be able to differentiate "internet" vs. "real life." I don't think there's a difference any more, except that if you're lucky there aren't that many trolls and cranks walking around your neighborhood. Hopefully.

Sometimes I'd like to be away from it altogether and other times I can't wait to turn it on. I think I liked things better before it existed but I can't imagine not having it.

Like everything else it's what you make it. I'd play Talk Talk singing "Life's What You Make It" but nobody likes that song so I won't. That's another thing that's wrong with the internet; you having an effect on what I like.

Who the hell do you think you are anyway? Don't make me turn this off!

If I turn this off you don't exist anymore. Like if you stop reading a blog they stop reading you. Kind of phony then, ain't it? No that's okay you're not a troll or a crank. Of course I don't actually know that. I've had people turn on me before. Anything is possible.

The internet makes me paranoid.

September 25, 2010

Just So You Know

I've decided that if I ever catch you texting someone while we're sitting together in real time and real space, communicating like human beings, I'm going to ignore you from that point on. Even if you're in my dining room I'll just not hear you from then on, or I'll go watch TV or go online and just leave you there until you figure out what your next move is; because I'm not going to bother you anymore. You can get your own beer or get in your car or just sit there waiting to see if anything is going to happen next because, I mean, since the rest of us are not really here anyway, it shouldn't bug you or anything if we just split, right? Because, I mean, you're busy and shit, right? You've got something to do. Our going to another room or getting in our cars and just leaving you there shouldn't really be a problem, right? You won't mind or anything.


I mean, okay, if you take your device to the bathroom or anywhere else, just OUT of the current social mix you are physically in, I don't have a problem - if you have the common decency to excuse yourself. In fact I would consider that POLITE and give you points. A lot of points. I'm talking about you're sitting right there in the middle of us and suddenly it doesn't even matter if someone is talking to you, your device has called and you must answer. Or, worse, you just remembered something you wanted to tell somebody six hundred miles away and even though someone is in the middle of a sentence and looking right at you, you just start thumbing away regardless.

I don't see that as unreasonable.

But I've also decided that if you think that is draconian or unreasonable or silly or petty or churlish or crabby or pissy or childish of me, well you and your mother can just suck my dick any time you guys are ready, okay?

And I don't care who you are, if you sign my check, or if you're a big deal on the internet.

I don't care if it's what everybody is doing or that's how it is or I'm supposed to get with it or I shouldn't take it personally or it's not that big a deal or whatever. Just know that when it happens, and every time it happens, I willfully and happily add a few more bricks to the wall that separates you and me.

Because it's rude.

Oh wait... that's a concept that doesn't apply to anything in 2010 America any more, is it?

Maybe a refresher is in order?

Rude: discourteous or impolite, esp. in a deliberate way: a rude reply, without culture, learning, or refinement; rough in manners or behavior; unmannerly; uncouth.

Or, to harp on something I've been thinking about a lot lately - having no class. It's like, not having enough of a connection to the people in your immediate presence to treat them with some modicum of regard.

It's basically saying "I'm hearing what you're saying but I actually don't give enough of a shit about you to listen /or/ I'm talking to you but I actually don't give enough of a shit if you understand what I'm saying."

Or, in terms you may find easier to understand... "brb: more important shit."

It isn't a matter of me being insecure, it's a matter of you being an asshole.

It isn't a matter of demanding you act a certain way, it's a matter of expecting you know how not to be an asshole in public.

And when you get this lesson down, fruit pie, we can start on Lesson 2: "Just because your cell phone rings doesn't mean you have to answer it like a freakin robot."

Just think of this as my version of a "slow driver/I'm PMS internet blog rant."

You will notice that when I am with you I probably have my phone in the car, or off or muted, and never answer, call, or text anyone. That's because I'm not as big a jerk as you are.

And since this can be addressed to 99% of the world who are now all sure I'm talking about them and suddenly can't figure out how they're supposed to act if they ever meet me and now may not ever want to because I'm such an unreasonable old crab... well it was nice knowing you too.

So there.

September 20, 2010

The Tea Party Purity Test

One of the newest employment opportunities to open up here in the good ol' USA is politics. There is a great need for candidates to fill in local, state and national elections and very little experience is needed. There are only a few items you need to be clear on to get the job, and - actually - you don't have to really believe this stuff. You must, however, look like you do.

If you can pass this test you may be just what we're looking for!

1. American Heroes
Whether you believe it or not, you must say that Joe McCarthy was a great American and that his activities were good for America because the Bill of Rights doesn't apply to people who are communists, people who are socialists, or anybody who just happened to hang out with one of them sometime seventeen years ago.

2. You Must Be A Libertarian
But civil liberties do not apply to people who are under suspicion of committing a crime and Miranda Rights should be abolished. If the police are after you it's for a reason. And if you're not guilty you've got nothing to worry about, right? Besides, your body will sink if you're not a witch.

3. Intelligence
If you have an education you must not show it. If you must have an education make sure it is not from a liberal elite school in a "non GOP area". If your education is obvious in your vocabulary it can be mitigated if you are comfortable talking about bowling and hockey camp. Spelling is optional.

4. On Racists
Even though you are not a racist yourself, you really do want the skinhead vote as part of your coalition because the enemy of your enemy is your friend. Just because you didn't ever notice what was going on in DC before they elected a black President doesn't mean you don't like him just because he's black - even if you were just telling race jokes in the kitchen ten minutes before you said that. We know, it's a free speech issue. Of course it is!

5. National Scripture
The Constitution is sacrosanct and holy. That's why we must guard against any changes to or mis-interpretation of the 2nd Amendment. The inviolate nature of the Constitution does not apply to the 14th Amendment or any other Amendment that may come up in this election cycle we can scare people about.

6. Science
If 50% of people think Creation Science is legit it doesn't matter what scientists say, the school has an obligation to teach it right alongside that evolution garbage. Noah had kangaroos on the ark, or something close to kangaroos that then migrated to Australia and morphed into the modern kangaroo. Because Australia was still connected to Asia back then so it didn't have to cross a lot of water or anything.

7. Places of Worship
People have a right to practice whatever religion they are led to follow and can put their Christian churches wherever zoning will allow.

8. The Evils Of Communism
Communism remains the biggest threat to American freedom. The Soviet Union and it's Eastern European satellites are engaged in the single largest con game in the history of the world in attempting to appear to be free societies. We must never cease our vigilance to eradicate the Red Menace from the Earth as well as inside our own borders.

If you can say any of these things with a straight face, you could be the next Senator from your state!

Apply Here.

September 17, 2010

The Guy In The Picture?

Was a fellow by the name of Tod Browning (not the guy in THIS picture... the guy in YESTERDAY'S picture!!), who inhabits my personal pantheon of heroic recluse/hermits who have done something more amazing than merely achieving fame or fortune; create a cult classic / niche art / and removed themselves from either the world or "the star-maker machinery", or both. Salinger, of course, is the godhead. But my private pinchbeck idols also contain B. Traven and Steve Ditko.

Browning's story is a bit different than most of the others because, mostly, his separation from "society" wasn't completely his choice to begin with. He directed a movie in 1932 called FREAKS which was notable for its use of real "freaks" as the cast. Siamese twins, "pinheads" (sorry), a limbless black guy crawling under a circus wagon with a knife in his mouth going off to kill someone. You know, the usual images people in 1932 wanted to see. The movie was declared outrageous and was banned for decades. Browning worked sparingly from then on, but with the advent of the Punk era FREAKS gained a new stature and became a cult classic. Doesn't matter - it is still a bit disturbing.

Speaking of disturbing movies, at about the same time as FREAKS was gaining a following so was David Lynch's debut project by the name of ERASERHEAD - though that one was a bit more problematic. To this day there are people walking around being "disturbed" by the flick, but in another light such a reaction is completely unwarranted. Though Lynch reflects that it was an idea and a feeling that came out of some dark days when he lived in Philadelphia, people who gave it a second look also noted the twinkle in Lynch's eye. Not out of pride but out of having tweaked us all. ERASERHEAD, the consensus has finally become, is an absurdist comedy of the highest order. I recall attending a screening in Champaign/Urbana (U of Illinois) when it was "the thing to see" in the late 70s that was attended by raucous laughter and enthusiastic though ironic applause (hey, they were film and art students, irony was what they DID). Dark? Ok. Comedy? Yes. But look at it again. And don't be so serious this time! It's great, and actually ridiculous.

Which reminds me of the third leg of my "black and white must-sees" that I've touted for over 30 years now: NOSFERATU, which is a silent era horror movie that remains the very first - and still unsurpassed - vampire flick ever made. Folks, seriously? Outside of 1931's DRACULA with Bela Lugosi (oh by the way, directed by TOD BROWNING!) which was a CAMPY CLASSIC, there have been no vampire movies that could hold a shaking candle to it.

Admittedly there are stretches of the film that are too indulgent of the silent era's particular traits and foibles - moments of over-done histrionics and lagging pace. But every second the Vampire is on screen the movie actually crackles with energy and imagination. I mean - come on - LOOK AT that picture up there. It remains the apex of vampironics, which is a word I made up just now. Also? This movie plays in our house every Halloween.

That these three flicks gained or regained popularity in the late 70s and have been considered cult classics since is no accident. The exposure of one is a natural lead in to the exposure of the others. They do form a kind of trilogy and were all championed by the old punk rocker culture of that time. And so they remain.

Anyway that's the reference to Tod Browning yesterday. Have a nice weekend.

September 16, 2010

OK So Start Cluseing

(Ten points if you figure out who this guy is and how he could be connected to this subject)

The idea is to sequester and to close up in order to concentrate on the work. If you want to be a recluse, you better start cluseing in the first place. I've been spending too much time futzing around on the internet and it's serious now. I've got it worked out at home - you'll rarely if ever see me in blogland once I'm home and Facebook is now a once-in-a-while thing. Problem is the dead time at work. I have to watch the showroom and if there's no one coming in.... well... you know. Opportunity.

So I solved this by bringing some of the work here, but not physically. I use the "New Post" feature on this blog to be my platform I can access from here or at home. Turns out I do dialog better from here (work), probably because I'm hearing real people using real idioms in real time. If you were a "Team Member" you'd be able to see a whole lot of crap, that's for sure. And I mean crap, because it always starts with bits and pieces and until it gets going it's... well... you know. Crap.

I have been watching and reading THIS SITE, run by author's agent Janet Reid and it is invaluable. What an incredible resource. Just don't use it if your skin's a little on the thin side. All it is? A blog where people submit "queries" and she tells you why and how the agent you sent it to is going to look at it. If you're picked you get to revise and keep going till you get it. It's a beautiful thing. Especially when she tells people to "SEND IT!" - sometimes even after several rewritten queries. Once you see what she's saying you have to admit - yeah if the query letter sucks it doesn't bode well for what follows. Anyway it's a brilliant blog.

And with that, why yes, I'm admitting we're going to bring this to the "regular" publishing world. The "alternative" scene is still my old home but I can't really see what I'm doing right now as belonging there. So we're going into the maw of the monster (add a childish "lol" here to make it sound non-threatening. Jesus...)

But I've pretty much made peace with the time handling thing and am confident all the time I need to spend is being spent. I know that just makes you so happy.

So who is the guy and what's the relation to the post?

September 14, 2010


Uruguay. One of the more interesting places we never think of. Not like you wake up in the morning and go "Hmmm... Uruguay" or anything. Looking in on the place it is, apparently, a Spanish American culture with, according to the books, an overlay of Italian influence here and there. It has one of the higher standards of living in all of South America, a bustling economy, and thrives on almost 100% literacy. And it doesn't have the Tea Party, Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, or the Republican Party. Which is probably a direct result of all that literacy. Plus maybe a lack of trailer parks. That right there is a good enough recommendation. But - and here's the thing - there is also FOOD!

The other night I manufactured (because words like "cooked" or "made" just aren't adequate) what looks like the national dish. You Bourdain fans watched Tony power down on one of these in a street side cafe. There are varying ways to make it but I grabbed the basic parts from here. You be the judge, I think mine looks amazingly similar. Here's the construction basics.

Oh... vegetarians? You may want to hide from here on. The books say Uruguay is noted for an abundance of MEAT in the diet. And this baby is no exception, but rather the rule.

From left to right... You put a couple of strips of bacon in a pan. I know, with microwaves nobody does this anymore. But you're going to need the resultant grease that the bacon is going to shed. Ahem. Fry it up, set aside. Take a piece of filet mignon (they didn't have, so I bought some "sandwich steak" and marinaded it overnight. It's an "okay" substitution) - only about 1/4" thick - and brown it up in the bacon grease. With me so far? the third picture is the bun. You need a big one, round if possible, and check this - you need the filet to end up roughly the size of said bun.

The bun is toasted and we then compound the cholesterol by spreading mayonaise on both slices. Yes that's what he said. You put the filet (see I bought mine too big and had to cut it in half... slovenly kitchen skills I know) right on the mayo'd bottom half of the bun. On top of the filet - because we don't have enough meat yet - we pile on some Black Forest Ham. Make sure it is "black forest" style and not boiled or whatever. Get it from the deli, specifically.

Oh hello what's this on top of the black forest ham? Why it's a thick slice of mild provolone! Gee, that'll give it a little heft because, you know, so far it's kinda puny. Ahem. Oh wait - what's in this picture next to the provolone one? Why it's an egg fried "sunny side up" put right on top of the cheese. The recipe says YOU WANT THE YOLK STILL LIQUID ENOUGH TO RUN. You'll see why later. And then - oh yeah - don't forget the bacon.

In an effort to mollify the heart problems you will encounter about half way through this we begin the roughage contingent. Lettuce! Finally! And then a couple slices of tomato (luckily I have a lot of these next to that head growing in my garden). This is topped off with some raw Spanish onion. It gets pretty high right here, so you put the top part of the bun on all this and smush...

So that the yolk runs down the side and melds everything together kind of like a glue. I guess. You can't eat this like that though, you've got to cut it in half. Here's my proudest part because it kinda looks just like the picture in the recipe. Notice the yolk residue there. Yeah well in Uruguay you add a mess of fries covered in pepper to hide it. Kinda neat the way our plates match the table and chair set no? We were pretty proud of that. Add some South American red and you've got something as authentic to Uruguay as you can get. But there's nothing "ito" about a chivito. Just sayin'. I did not need breakfast this morning.


Enjoy that heart attack!


September 09, 2010

I Know, I Know

I'm supposed to be dark. I know.

I'm supposed to be focusing my attention on my lifetime's goal, the thing no one can take away from me no matter what else they may change about me, the one thing I do no matter how it comes out, the thing I'll never give up on no matter what anybody says. I know. I should be 100% on point with the fiction and just tune the rest out. But it is impossible. It's impossible to stay silent just now.

It's probably because when I try to talk about things it mostly comes out a garbled mess. I may be a bad writer, God knows, but I'm a worse talker. I can give you my ideas on paper but not so much out of my mouth. I talk and it just blurts out and it's never the right words enough.

I do the stupid thing. I look at the world and try and make sense out of it and no answer seems to fit. It's like a handful of people on every "side" are making the rest of us pay for the fact that they're an asshole. It's like it has become OK to just say anything that comes to mind without any filter or thought. It's like we've invented complex philosophies and worldviews and written volumes of deep and tortured logic and agendas and dogmas that - when all the erudition and important thinking is finished - leave us with a refined ideology that has enshrined the singular notion that it's all about me so go screw yourself.

It's what I think. It's what I want. It's what I believe. It's what I have a right to. It's what I want to do. It's where I want to go. It's what I hate. It's what I am.

I don't know what to think. I am certainly not living in the country I was born in. And I'm as big a part of the problem as anybody. Oh... the problem? The one thing that underlies all the crap we're doing lately? The one reason we seem like such a fractious, spewing, ranting, distracted, ridiculous country (and, hence, the picture of Cary up there)?

We have no class. No class at all.

Your entire life can be dashed on the rocks and ruined if you make one mis-step. A starlet gets into a car and we're taking photos only to see if we can get a picture of her crotch. In a political discussion, nobody gets to finish a sentence, so you've got to quick distill it into four buzz words and throw it at the other guy. Ever hear of Rule 34? There are "talk" shows that resemble the kind of pits where they throw hungry dogs into; they've been on for years; AND they are exceptionally popular. We have television shows based on 6 vapid women who like to point their fingers and move their heads from side to side while their mouths are going a mile a minute, saying nothing. And they become famous. People make videos of their most intimate moments and spread them around. We take our kids to church where we say "turn the other cheek" and then let them onto the schoolyard where we say "don't let that bully push you around." Then we have to feed them drugs to handle the "confusion" they must have been born with because - God Knows - we didn't do anything to them. People look for the one thing other people really really like and then trash it in public, repeatedly. Sometimes we even burn it.

There has always been a thread of that, since recorded history there have always been one version or another of it. But it was in the background. It wasn't as acceptable. It wasn't the featured player. It wasn't "nice."

If we had any "class" we wouldn't go out of our way to embarrass somebody in public. If we had "class" we would act as though everybody had a second chance at things, and we would allow that people can change. If we had "class" we'd be silent instead of saying the one incendiary thing that will ruin the party. If we had "class" we would still be able to say...

"I disagree with what you're saying, but I promise you I will defend your right to say it."

But that is mostly gone. It lives on a bit here and there, but it's in the same part of the toolbox where we'd find the "turn the other cheek" tool. Somewhere under the tongs and hammers.

I'm not living in the country I was born in. And I'm as much to blame as anybody else for agreeing to follow the trend. I need to correct that in myself before I can approach other people with it. That would be the "classy" thing to do, anyway.

Someone want to make the joke about how we're closer to communism because we've constructed a "classless society"? No - I didn't think so. Stupid joke. Okay.

There's just no class anymore. I can't find it anywhere.

THE LINK to the above at YouTube

September 07, 2010


Poking my head out for a sec. This next part will last longer and be more disconnected. I've been checking in on everybody if not always commenting. I have to discipline myself to stay out of the fights I get into with conservatives (read: obtuse assholes). It's a perfect waste of everybody's time.

Almost done with a book, The Lost City of Z. The more you read about Z the more it'll draw you in - so be careful with that link if you have any intellectual curiosity at all. Apparently Brad Pitt has obtained the story for a movie with a tentative release date of 2012. I'd like to see somebody with a little more weightiness take it on but money talks I guess. If he makes this into another Temple of Doom I will hate his living guts forever. I'm already no fan of his over-rated, goggle-eyed wife.

There was a guy who said that when you're writing always leave the work when you still have something to say. That seems counter-intuitive but it works. Now if I can stop myself from loathing 30% of what I did the day before I'd get somewhere.

You know when you're sitting there and out of the corner of your eye it looks like someone is walking into the room and you turn around and nobody's there? That just happened two seconds before I wrote this part down. I'm not sure what world I'm in anymore.

It's pointless to say "this is what I decided" and "this is what it's all about" anymore. The fourteenth version of the same God damned story is now in full swing. You wouldn't recognize it. Neither do I.

I'd like to stay dark until actual query letters go out. I don't think I have the discipline, but from this point on I'm going to try. Maybe I'll show a little backbone. I'm such a noodle.

September 01, 2010

Of Course You Won't Mind

I'll be stepping aside for a while starting today (okay actually yesterday but I wasn't serious about it til now). Not sure how long it'll go but this is a note to say just that.

There is absolutely nothing big or Earth-shaking / terrible / serious / OMG going on, it's just a brief hiatus and I'll be back on the other side of it before you know it. Probably extends to Facebook as well, but none of this is permanent. I can't possibly stay away from you guys forever. You know your uncle wuvs the dickens out of ya.


I'd set up "guest-posters" but I honestly don't know what that's for and it's not like you'd get any extra traffic for your blog if you did so that's out of the question.

Ten points for what the guy in the cartoon has to do with anything going on here. If you figure it out let me know?

It could be a week or a month. Who knows. I did this once before and it paid off for me, so hold my hat, we're going in again. This is to say don't forget us, and if you don't see a comment on your work for a while I'm not hating you - k?

brb lunch.