Saturday, July 28, 2012
Friday, July 27, 2012
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Saturday, July 21, 2012
Thursday, July 19, 2012
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Friday, July 13, 2012
Thursday, July 12, 2012
Here's the current word count: 17,336, with a goal of 90,000.
I finished the final proof of The Dead Sheriff: Zombie Damnation yesterday. It took a little longer than I expected but I want this book to be right, you know?
Along the way, I surprised myself. It had been a while since I had read the book. I turned it in a long time ago and moved on to other projects, so when I read it again, it was definitely with fresh eyes. And the story works. It’s a big, grand pulp adventure, full of magic and gunfights and some pretty despicable villains and at least two people searching for some nobility (even if one of them doesn’t know it yet). There’s cussin’ and fightin’ and more than a little humor. Most importantly (to me, anyway) it’s a hell of a lot of fun.
I’m pretty happy with it.
During the course of reacquainting myself with the story my passion for the characters was reignited. Even while I was making corrections, I was rapidly jotting down notes about The Dead Sheriff 2, 3 and beyond.
It will be here soon. I hope you’ll try it.
Now it’s back to work on the next novel. I’ll try to post a steady word count here, beginning later today. I know some folks find that interesting and I hope it will serve as a motivational tool for me.
It’s not good to disappoint the blog readers. That’s my motto. Well, my new motto. It replaces my old motto “Damn, I looks good in this g-string, yo!”
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
You know what that attractive badge means: my new column is available on page 2 of this week's Ashland Beacon.
We just lived through a "derecho" and Arizona recently had another "haboob". Where do these names come from? Now it can be revealed right here.
Seth MacFarlane, the creator of Family Guy, is overseeing a reboot of Carl Sagan’s classic PBS series Cosmos.
I’ll give you a minute to let that soak in.
Now, I want to direct you to the following video interview with MacFarlane. I agree with everything he says regarding our space program and how we’ve let it all unravel. I particularly like his comment about watching the history of the space program backwards. Sad but true.
Where’s the love for The Creature from the Black Lagoon?
This classic Universal monster doesn’t seem to get the respect that his better known counterparts—Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolfman—do. Maybe it’s because he debuted years after the era of Big Frank and the rest. Or maybe (and this is my theory) Gill-Man is just too damned creepy. I mean, have you seen that face? And he’s mostly an underwater guy, so when he’s attacking the nosy scientists on dry land, dude is dripping everywhere. But dig the tragedy: He's mostly fish, but all he wants is some human-style lovin'
He’s one of my favorites and after perusing this behind-the-scenes look at Gilly, I may have to watch the original flick tonight.
Where’s the love for The Creature from the Black Lagoon? Right here, my little mermaid.
I have a plan. I really do. It’s just that it’s frequently derailed. I’d hoped to have two short stories completed and submitted by Sunday. As it turned out, the second story wasn’t finished until yesterday afternoon. After it was done, I read it aloud to Norma. She’s an honest critic (which means she won’t hesitate to tell me it sucks). She loved it. After a few corrections and a final polish, I sent it off to the editor. I have no idea if the piece will sell. I certainly hope it will, but as I’ve found out over the years, the joy of writing it and having it turn out better than you’d hoped is a very satisfying reward.
And, yeah, it would be way cool to see this end up in the book. So there.
Meanwhile, the first story I finished last week is still waiting to be revised. I want a little more distance from it before I start the edits. There’s no pressing deadline and I want it to be just right.
Now I need to get back to the current novel, but...
I have to write a newspaper column later this morning. And Evileye Books has sent me the e-galley of The Dead Sheriff: Zombie Damnation for a final read-through before it debuts. I’ll be giving it a very careful exam, like a gynecologist with OCD. Whatever time is left will be spent on the novel, which, by the way, I hope to finish by my birthday, September 23rd.
And just to prove I love you, here’s a baby monkey riding backwards on a pig:
Sunday, July 08, 2012
It’s a banner day. Norma taught me to make her excellent lo-cal breakfast sandwiches. The secret is her perfectly seasoned softly scrambled eggs. I’ve never had anything like them, and they’ve ruined me for all restaurant eggs. Now I can make these delectable treats whenever I get the craving.
It’s like the old saying “Give a man an egg and he’ll eat for a day. Give a man careful instructions along with a couple of eggs, chives, parsley, shredded cheddar cheese, milk, pepper, salt, low-fat low-carb English muffins, a pan, a whisk, a spatula and a toaster and he’ll be one happy boy!”
Or something like that.
Friday, July 06, 2012
UPDATE 8:14 A.M.
Megan just sent in this picture. She's looking great.
Sometimes on a two-week vacation, especially after I’m several days into it, entropy sets in and I feel as though I’m slogging through molasses. That said, I made good progress on a new short story yesterday. I hope to finish it today and get it and this week’s earlier story edited and submitted over the weekend, along with writing the newspaper column. I plan to devote next week to the novel.
We’re still waiting for the power company to fix the low hanging power line in the back, basically reattaching it firmly to the neighbors’ house and rehanging it. They have also pledged to cut down the large cracked oak in the front. There are still people without power, so it could be a while. But my amazing precognition mojo tells me we’ll see them in the next day or two (of course, this is the same astoundingly reliable psychic ability that told me “Alcatraz will be a great TV show and will be on the air for many years and will make a lot of sense”).
Meanwhile, so you won’t feel you’ve wasted your time here today, I present Lightsaber Etiquette, not starring Megan Fox.
Thursday, July 05, 2012
We turned up the music and chopped vegetable together and made a great pot of veggie chili, the kind that leaves your tongue burning for a hour afterwards (the chili-making came after a brief walk I took in the morning during which I discovered that my left hip joint is acting like it doesn’t want me to take walks).
The rest of the day was filled with writing, some movies, a nap, a brief power outage and a little reading. It was the first time we haven’t hosted some kind of cookout for Independence Day. I had a great time.
Just a few minutes ago I woke up from a dream that had me rushing to get ready for the first day of high school. Once I got to school, but before I went in, I wrote a short story in the car and was an hour late for classes. I don’t remember anything about the story except it concerned a young man named Sacking Forest, whose mother admitted to him she was high when she came up with that moniker. He didn’t mind being called Sack, though he preferred King.
I got up to write down that name.
I have to write another short story today. It doesn’t feel like a Sacking Forest kind of tale. But we’ll see.
Wednesday, July 04, 2012
I think it’s going to be a quiet holiday (figuratively speaking). We’re tired of the heat, so we’re staying in and having Norma Kay’s incredible veggie chili seasoned in part, I hope, with peppers from our garden.
For several years we watched Yankee Doodle Dandy and 1776 on the Fourth. We haven’t done that in quite a while, so those two classics are on the agenda today, along with A Capitol Fourth tonight on PBS.
As you can see, I prefer my Independence Day the traditional way: air-conditioned and without large sweaty crowds.
I also want to spend some extra time with our cat Clark. He had another seizure yesterday and every one of those drives home the point that he won’t be with us forever. We got him and his sister Lois in 1995 when they were but a few weeks old. Clark has been a great companion and one of the sweetest, gentlest souls I’ve ever known.
(Let me stop you right there before you get on your soapbox about animals not having souls. If you can claim some of the biggest assholes in history–Hitler, Stalin, and about half the people in the radio business have a soul–then my sweet little cat sure as hell has one. I am prepared to fight you on this one. So go put that soapbox away. It smells like that goop you’d get out of a Texaco restroom dispenser in 1971, anyway.)
Where was I? Oh, yeah. I intend to do a little writing this morning. My plan to resume the novel is in a holding pattern. I had two columns to write this week (one of which completely slipped my mind) and two stories (one that I didn’t know about until two days ago). The columns are done. Story #1 in 90% complete and will be finished today. I plan for story #2 to be done by Saturday. Then it’s back to the novel.
At some point today, I will sit down with my well-worn copy of the original tabloid size Captain America’s Bicentennial Battles, by a true genius and one of my heroes, Jack Kirby. I’ve told the story several times of how that comic, purchased during the summer of 1976 at some roadside store between here and Tennessee, helped me hang on to my sanity during a family vacation. I re-read it every July 4th.
I don’t plan to be on the Internet much today, if at all. Or the phone. If you have a Tweet for me or a Facebook message or a text or an email, I’ll see it Thursday.
Have a great holiday.
Tuesday, July 03, 2012
Now and again, I will use this space to share with you Actual True Stories from my long radio career. You can tell I’m excited about this, because I capitalized some letters right smack dab in the middle of a sentence. Am I excited because the stories are multi-layered fables, fraught with hidden meaning and symbolism, offering life lessons couched in humorous terms?
Heck, no. I don’t even know what that means.
Actually, I’m excited to offer you Actual! True! Stories! From my long radio career (notice the exclamation points? I got extra excited that time) because of one simple reason: I don’t have to think up anything for this week’s column. Instead of trying to come up with a topic, then massaging the truth until it is a polished little nugget of entertainment, I just open the vault, pull out one of wacky things that actually happened to me, dust it off and then I can stretch out on the couch and watch American Pickers.
(That reminds me: I originally wanted to write this column about an odd fella I worked with several years ago. This guy had many interesting quirks, and one that was very disgusting. My wife, who is much smarter than I, suggested that the good-looking readers of this fine publication would not enjoy a column titled American Nose Picker. So you’ll have to ask me about that one when you see me standing at the one open lane at Wal-Mart.)
So sit back, get comfortable and prepare yourself to take a peek behind the scenes of the thrilling world of Small Town Radio! Small Town Radio is a field like no other, full of good people, unusual people and people who apparently suffered blows to the head early in life.
Here’s one example. Many years ago, a man who claimed to know a lot about radio actually uttered the following sentence to me in complete and total sincerity:
“We have to stop saying the word “country” on the radio because if people who don’t like country music tune in and don’t hear us say “country”, then they will have no idea they’re listening to country music!”
Believe me, I was looking around the room for the hidden cameras, but it was not a goof.
Want another story?
At one point in my career, I worked with a young man named Opie. Opie was an interesting guy. He, like me, knew early in life that he wanted to be on the radio. In fact, when he started at the radio station, he was so young that his parents had to drive him to work. He was enthusiastic, full of great ideas and he loved to be on the air. Eventually he joined me on the morning show.
But he was still young. Really young. This becomes important in just a bit.
First, I have another digression, but it, too, has a bearing on our story.
Sometimes in radio, individuals have been known to utter what my grandmother called “naughty words”. This probably doesn’t happen where you work, so feel free to be shocked and/or appalled. Maybe it happens because those individuals know they can’t say these words on the air and the repression and censorship foments into a brain soup of rebellion and anarchy.
Or maybe some people just like to cuss.
In any case, Opie had a small issue with knowing what was appropriate to say on the air and what was not. One morning, near the end of the broadcast, we were discussing ideas for the next day’s show. Every morning we tried to have a certain number of comedy sketches–or “bits”–ready for the show. As I recall, we had a good idea for a bit, but we hadn’t decided on a title.
Opie chose that moment to say, “What don’t we call it ****?”
****, by the way, is standing in for a naughty word. To be more specific, THE naughty word. And I don’t mean the one you’re thinking of. See, I know you think I mean ####, which was represented in the classic holiday film A Christmas Story by Ralphie saying, “Oh, fudge!” as the lug nuts from the family car went sailing into the night.
That’s a bad word, to be certain. The second worst. The worst is the one Opie said. This is the word that will cause an otherwise mild-mannered woman to stand up, smooth out her skirt, then stab you in the eyeballs with knitting needles.
And Opie thought we could use it on the air. I don’t know why. I could speculate, but this is the Freakin’ Beacon not Psychology Today.
I said, “We can’t say **** on the air.”
“What’s wrong with ****?” Opie said.
“If we say it, every woman in the audience will come to the station, carry us out to the parking lot and repeatedly run over us with their mini-vans,” I said.
Opie shook his head and smirked the smirk of the very young, confident that everyone older than him was a senile fuddy duddy.
If he hadn’t smirked, I probably wouldn’t have done what I did. In my defense, I was a lot younger then, and less responsible. I’m so much more mature now. In fact, I now only smirk three times a week.
At that time, the office manager of the station was a woman we’ll call Consuela. Consuela was, and is, pretty, smart, funny and sweet. Consuela also occasionally has what could be charitably called a short fuse. Especially when it came to dealing with Opie.
At this point in the day, Consuela was in the office with a gaggle of sales people and others who had business with the radio station.
“Okay,” I said to Opie, “Why don’t you go run your idea by Consuela? If she says okay, then we’ll do it.”
Opie’s face lit up. The senile fuddy duddy was caving in.
“Sure,” I said.
He hopped off his stool and practically sprinted to the office. I closed the studio door. I knew what was coming.
The way it was told to me by the survivors, Opie ran into the office where Consuela was having a conversation with someone in sales. Opie wasn’t big on patience, so he immediately interrupted.
“Hey, Consuela,” he said in his outside voice, “is it okay if we say **** on the radio?”
Inside the studio I was already under the console, curled into a fetal position with my arms over my head, increasing my chances of living through the shockwave.
My memories of the next few seconds are unclear. I recall a horrendous scream. The entire building shook as though it were resting on the San Andreas Fault. I heard another horrible noise, one that was eerily similar to the sound of a young man’s head being rammed repeatedly into a wall.
All I know for sure is that I eventually climbed from under the console and stood on shaky legs. My senses were rattled.
The studio door opened. Opie hobbled into the room. He looked older. He was slightly hunched over. His hair stood up in patches. His eyes were glazed.
We never spoke about what happened. And Opie never, ever said **** again.
Some day I have to ask Consuela for her side of the story. You’ll understand if I’m a little reluctant to bring it up.