Thursday, August 31, 2006

Adventures in Moving.

It's done. It was ugly. It was a disaster. At one point Jenny was in tears. But it's done.

Together, the Planetary family has moved 14 times. This was the triple-distilled worst. The only thing that made the past two days tolerable was the constant coverage of the Katrina anniversary, knowing that our lives weren't that bad and that George Bush wouldn't visit our house for a well-lit photo op with Heckuvajob Michael Brown.

We hired a moving company who sent three guys and a truck. Three, so we could remember their names - Larry, Moe and Curly. They didn't take everything they needed to take, they put a deep gouge in the hardwood floor, nearly took out the newel post on the stairs and smashed the front door jamb when they dropped our refrigerator.

This, of course, held up the closing until lawyers were aligned, faxes were faxed, assurances were made and many dollars were consigned to the dark netherworld of escrow.

Both of us, not as young as we used to be, are bruised, battered and sore. Last night, after not eating for two days (I lost six pounds! Ask me how!) we couldn't find bowls or silverware so we gulped down leftover chili from coffee mugs.

Now to unpack. It took me 20 minutes to find a shirt I could wear to work, but it's over (mostly) and we're happy in our new home.

Until we discover it's built over a slave cemetery and is more haunted than Ann Coulter's gynecologist.

And you wonder why this place is so damn dark.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Instant Art

Thanks to Jerry, here's a link that could keep some of you entertained for hours.

You know who you are.

From the GBS to the exploding car...

Act one is a wrap. (That's movie lingo)

Yes, I managed to pack, empty the attic, make a run to the dump, play music, and still write several scenes on this screen epic. I know, there is much more to write, more to pack and there is still stuff in the attic that may stay with the house. I expect it will be our gift to the new homeowners.

It's going to be a long week.

Friday, August 25, 2006

I am so tired of this.

Moving. God's way of telling me I have too much shit.

Please, someone shove me under the moving van.

Where does she get these ideas?

My daughter, Molly, sent me this email about an hour ago:

Hey Dad- There's an article on listing America's drunkest cities...I noticed that most of the top 20 are either in the midwest or Texas. Hmmm....maybe that's why they all voted for Bush? Cause they're wasted all of the time?? They probably thought he was a chimp dressed up in a suit. Drunk people find that sort of thing HI-LARIOUS.

"Sheeeit, Jimbo, looky that monkey dey got all gussied up like a grown man, an' a-runnin' fer goddamn PRESDINT! Pass me another PBR."

Just thought that would be a good topic for your blog.

Really, who taught her to be this disrespectful of our president? Who did that?

Oh, that's right. I did.

Word for Today

tarantism (TAR-uhn-tiz-uhm) noun: An uncontrollable urge to dance.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Praise Jesus and Green Tomatoes.

Want to bid on a holy tomato? Go here.

See that? See Jesus there? He's raising his arms, blessing all who see him in this miraculous piece of fruit. The guy who grew it in his holy garden now wants to use it to raise funds to build a new church.

This is what he says:

I am a member of Hope Community Church in Lawrenceburg, KY. We are currently building a new place of worship and I thought this would be great way to add a little money to the church building fund. The total selling price of this auction will be donated to my church and to its building fund. The Lord often works in mysterious ways. If he see's fit to pay for (or help pay for) the new building through a Tomato, then who am I to hinder his will.

Wow! I fnally get that whole Trinity thing now! Thank you Holy Tomato!

Seriously, if the guy wants to put the money toward a new church, more power to him. I think the guy who sold the Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese Sandwich kept his Holy-gotten gains.

Fuck him, blasphemer.

What's a planet gotta do?

Being a small planet ourselves, we take issue with the size queens over at The International Astronomical Union who have done a big ole flip flop and said Pluto was just a funky looking rock. Listen, Pluto has an atmosphere and moons, so what's an orbiting body gotta do to get a little respect around here?

Now, instead of a planet, Pluto is a KBO, short for Kuiper Belt Object.

I don't give a flying air biscuit who Kuiper is or what color his belt (although I'm guessing it's white) the Dark Planet will not change it's name to A Dark KBO.

Ain't gonna happen.

Suck on that International Astronomical Union. Suck on that.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

First day as a screen writer.

I have a very short time to write this script so I'm trying to do a minimum of 3 pages a night. I wrote the first scene last night, gratuitous breast shots and all.

Six pages! Hoo-ah!

I expect things will go like this until I hit that long second act. That's when the real heavy-lifting begins.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006


First, let me give credit to for this cartoon. This is our life right now, surrounded by boxes scribbled in cryptic sharpie.

Books. I think they're procreating behind our backs. I have given away four boxes of kid's books, sent ten boxes to Iraq, and even thrown away a few boxes.

I know, the horror, but they were books like the one on the Shroud of Turin my mother-in-law gave us. She thought we would read about this famous soiled sheet, suddenly smack our foreheads and say, "Yes, transubstantiation makes so much sense now!"

Thanks but no thanks. Dust to dust.

And I still have books. Every time I think I've packed them all, I run across another stack. And we haven't ventured into the attic yet. I know there are hundreds of books up there I'll have to sort through. I expect I'll be sending another three or four to Iraq before we move.

Moving day is a week from today. We are not ready.

By the way, if you want to join me in sending books to GIs, let me know and I'll post the address again. You'll be doing a good thing.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Yes, it is done.

It's only 18 months past the time it should have been done, but it is done. Whether my client will like it, or my agent will think it's good, I don't know, but it is done.

Now, on to this film. This should go quickly. I've already written a fifteen-page treatment, so I know how and when things happen.

Then, finally, I can return to my own book.

On a more personal note, I have my annual physical today so I'll get to see my doctor shake his head and wonder how I've lived as long as I have. It's something we share.

But the book is done.

Friday, August 18, 2006

"There are no hereditary kings in America...

...and no powers not created by the Constitution,” wrote Judge Anna Diggs Taylor of the United States District Court in Detroit, ruling that domestic wiretapping without a warrant violates the FISA law, plus the First and Fourth Amendments.

I love this woman.

Not that anything will change. I still believe we've witnessed a coup in America and that no one's vote counts except those votes cast for American Idol (and those are suspect), and anyone who stands in the way of the Bush crime syndicate will be destroyed, but still, that "no hereditary kings" line must have seriously pissed George off.

That's if someone got him to stop riding his bike long enough to read it to him.

Which I doubt.


Good News for a Friday.

Johnny Depp has reupped with Tim Burton to play the demon barber in a film based on Sondheim's "Sweeney Todd." No word yet on who will play pie-making Mrs. Lovett.

Any suggestions?

Damn. This'll be interesting.

Cubby is dead.

When I first heard that country singer Troy Lee Gentry killed Cubby, I thought it was another case of a child star gone bad and that Cubby of the Mousketeers had messed around with the wrong woman or been shot in a drug deal gone south, or was knifed in a homosexual tryst with the burly, All-American Troy.

But no, Gentry didn't kill the diminutive child star. He killed a bear. A tame bear. A bear named Cubby, for Christ's sake. What the manly Troy did see, was buy this tame black bear named Cubby, chained him inside a pen, then killed him with a bow and arrow.

Quien es mas macho?

Then the brave and manly Troy told the Fish and Game folks that he killed the bear in the wild, even edited a little home video to show the tough and rugged Troy tracking Cubby through the wilds and taking down the fearsome beast with nothing more than a bow and arrow and a knife in his teeth.

Can't you just smell the testosterone?

If you want to see just how macho our man Troy is, take a look at his video here. What a poser.

So Cubby is dead. And I want to know, just what the fuck is wrong with these guys?

I grew up in hunting country. Firearms in school? You bet. At any time during deer season, half the guys had a 30.06 in their locker or a .30/30 in their car. Except on the first day of deer season because schools were closed. Every year. That's right, they closed school so kids could go deer hunting.

So I know hunting. I hunted in high school. I hunted in survival school. And while I haven't greased anything since that hooker in Nogales (the bitch was asking for it), I understand hunting.

What I don't get is killing. What kind of human flotsam gets a kick out of killing? And what our big man Troy did to Cubby and what our macho VP Cheney does to those cage-raised game birds is not hunting. It's killing, plain and simple. There's as much sport to what they do as if they shot a cow or a chicken.

I have a suggestion for both of these big brave macho guys. Grab an M-4 (it's a good rifle, not as fancy as Cheney's $12K shotgun, but it gets the job done), strap on some kevlar and go hunting insurgents in Iraq.

Oh, wait, those guys shoot back. Not like Cubby. Not like those quail.

And I'm sure that Troy, like Dick, has other priorities.

Phony cowboys and killers of innocent critters. If this is what passes for real men in today's America, this country is doomed.

Novel Update: Today I'll rewrite the confrontation, write the wrap-up, put a final polish on the piece this weekend, and it is outta here. After eighteen months of being creatively frozen, this is a very big deal. Thanks to all for the ongoing encouragment and inspiration. I mean that.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

You know that scene...

...where the good guy finally confronts the bad guy and even though the ending isn't in doubt, you're still in doubt, pulling for the good guy? You know that scene?

That's what I'm writing today.

Then the wrap-up. Short and gone.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Curious about what your neighbor's looking up on the Internet? Wonder no longer.

The next time someone reads some twisted piece of perversion you've written and says, "No one would do that," point them in this direction.

Thanks to John Rickards (I think) and Something Awful for a revealing look at human nature in all it's spooky weirdness.


Get those gays out of uniform and back into cowboy boots where they belong.

Last year the Pentagon dismissed 726 service members for being gay. That's 10 percent more than 2004, so when Bush says "we're making progress," I now know how he measures it.

(As an interesting, word-related aside, the majority of the soldiers dismissed were found in Ft. Leonard Wood, a post I've always thought had the gayest name of any military post in the world, hands down.)

One of the soldiers dismissed recently was an Arabic translator. Yeah, we don't need those guys.

A question the Army investigators asked, guaranteed to suss out gayness in my opinion, was if the soldier had ever been in community theater. No, I am not making that up.

Because I'm a helper, I've put together some additional questions our military can use to root out those gay boys from our ranks.

1. Have you ever been a cheerleader?
2. How often do you use the word fabulous?
3. Are you most comfortable in the company of fawning, unmarried women?
4. Do you like to dress up in costumes?
5. Have you ever kissed another man?
6. Have you ever held hands with another man?

Anyone who answers these questions in the affirmative is gayer than organza, no matter how much he struts around like a cowboy.

But for a sure tipoff, anyone who wears a cowboy hat and cowboy boots but never rides a horse? Yeah, you know.

Closing in.

Two scenes left. This novel will be gone by Friday.

The only thing you can count on...

So much change that I haven't kept up with it all. But here's a partial list.

James Lincoln Warren has called it quits. Blogs come and go. Nothing is forever. Writers in particular have other writing to do and I understand when someone goes dark. But I'll miss the Sword and the Quill.

Ray Banks, John Rickards and the guys at Contemporary Nomad have all moved to classier digs. Their writing is still the same entertaining stuff, they've just tied a different bow on it. (I love the idea of Banks in a bow). I'm a big fan of all three, so this week I'll try to update my links.

There are other links I want to add and some that will go, and it's all just change.

Moving. Moving on. Finishing one thing and starting another. Everything changes.*

*Except the president's speech. If I hear the word freedom one more time I'm going to punch a kitten.

Monday, August 14, 2006

The End Is In Sight.

Yes, I am eight scenes from the end of this ghost novel, which should come later this week. Then I can then move on to the film and after THAT I can get back to my novel, which should be finished somewhere around 2035.

BTW, just WTF is that person doing to that dog?

No, I don't want to know.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Sorry, Sparky, but you clash with the drapes.

You have a few drinks with a few crime writers and you're lulled into feeling optimistic about the nature of human nature.

Then we get this from Newsday.

Denise Flaim starts her story with: "What is the most pathetic excuse for giving up a companion animal?"

The question should be, "What's the most pathetic excuse for a human being that gives up a companion animal?"

The story is full of reasons for dumping Fido. There's this piece of dermal detritus who just wanted Uncle Fred's money:

"Even though I promised to care for the dog," he said, "I knew I really wouldn't. I just wanted the inheritance."

Then there's the woman who dumped a 12-year-old cat because "He won't play with toys anymore, so we want to replace him with a kitten."

It gets worse.

"He doesn't photograph well in our family portrait"

"We have an Akita and we've decided to do away with our current 'Japanese landscaping' and go with a southwestern theme."

That's right, the dog won't complement the landscaping.

Sweet Jesus.

When my sister was born, my mother got rid of our dog. It was awful. And where did we send Champ? To a nice farm, we were told, where he could run and play and enjoy life as a dog.

Then my brother saw him tied to a porch in town. Yes, parents lie. Get used to it.

I wanted to return my baby sister and get the dog back because I thought it was a bum trade. That didn't fly, but now it gets me thinking that maybe jettisoning the defective and inconvenient isn't such a bad idea.

But we should do it to humans.

"Grandpa's wheezing is drowning out the TV."

"This baby is too needy."

"My God, we can't have Brace-Face on our Christmas cards. What will people think?"

"Too ugly."

"Too old."

"Too stupid."

"Too incontinent."

Pack it up, Grandma. You gotta go.

Yeah, this'll work.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Murderer's Row.

Dusty Rhoades, Joe Konrath, Alex Sokoloff, some unknown drunk, and Stacey Cochran welcome Joe to Raleigh, North Carolina.

Joe is on his fekakta 500 bookstore tour, pressing Rusty Nails into unsuspecting booksellers' hands all along the upper Midwest and on into the east. Has it been a success? Has he won legions of new fans? All Joe knows is that it's "tiring." But if he doesn't impress anyone else, he's impressed his publisher. If there's any author out there who has done more to sell his books, I don't know who it is.

Photo courtesy Stacey who did the logistics for this little soiree. Thanks, Stacey.

Update: You can see Alex's lovely face in a bigger and better photo here, again courtesy of Mr. Cochran. Why you would want to see the others in this lineup in higher res is beyond me, but I'm not one to judge.

As an aside, I apologize for being so quiet. It's summer, I'm busy and frankly, I have nothing to say that won't wait. The selling and buying of houses is crawling along at a rate writers and publishers would recognize, but will soon get up and sprint, so there probably won't be any updates unless something in particular grabs my attention.

Play nice.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Clap Hands

Update: Apparently my link to the picture site is bolloxed. If you go to the Eyeball Kid's site, that link works, you can find your way to the pictures from there.

Even Updatier: You can read a review of the Asheville show here, from Harp Magazine.

This setlist is from the Eyeball Kid. Hell, my memory isn't that good.

Make it Rain
Hoist That Rag
Shore Leave
God's Away on Business
'Til the Money Runs Out
All The World Is Green
Tango 'Til They're Sore
Invitation to the Blues
You Can Never Hold Back Spring
Clap Hands
Whistling Past The Graveyard
Heartattack and Vine
Who's Been Talkin' (slips into Lie to Me after opening with the Wolf)
What's He Building in There?
Trampled Rose
Get Behind the Mule
Murder in the Red Barn
Goin' Out West
Down In The Hole
Blue Valentine
Don't Go into That Barn

I'd read before the concert that Tom wasn't crazy about his early music, so I didn't expect to get so much from so early in his career. But he gave us stuff from Blue Valentine, Rain Dogs, even Invitation to the Blues from Small Change. The most, including Make It Rain and Don't Go Into That Barn came from his latest, Real Gone. And one of my personal favorites, from Blood Money, God's Away On Business.

The day started early and went late, with the drive up to Asheville, a beautiful NC mountain town. We got our tickets, met people at a corner bar to drink 'til showtime and watch the freaks.

Thomas Wolfe Auditorium seats fewer than 2500 people, so the venue was as intimate as any star venue. No one, not even in the back row, had a bad seat. My ticket was 1/3 of the way back and almost dead center. Great seat. Great show. Thank you, Jerry.

The Show:

I know a lot of people, people quite close to me, who love Tom's songs but have problems with his voice.

I want to state right here and now that I am not one of those people.

But until I'd seen this show, I never fully appreciated the emotional range of his singing. To hear him, in one set, go from the wistful All the World is Green to the hollering, full-throated vigilante paranoia of What's He Building In There was a revelation. Like all great singers, Waits acts it out, like all great performers, he commits to every note.

And speaking of commitment, the band, with Larry Taylor on bass, Bent Clausen on keys (and too many other noise-makers to count), Casey Waits on drums and Duke Robillard on guitar were amazing. Duke, especially, brought some interesting blues to the angular, industrial stuff, very cool.

The light design was low-key and brilliant. Lights shot up giant shadows against the curtain, drenched the place in color, and accentuated Waits' elbows and knees physical attack on his songs. So much from so little. Whoever designed the lighting, great job.

I've seen a lot of shows. By the time I was 24 I'd seen Hendrix, Joplin, The Band, The Dead, The Allman Brothers, and the Stones. Since then I've spent hundreds, maybe thousands of nights with the sound of amplifiers ringing in my ears.

This ranks in the top three shows I've ever seen, and unlike some -The Dead, The Allman Brothers - I expect I'll remember this one.

Go check out the fan's slideshow and see some of the other set lists for some of the other shows at Eyeball Kid's place.

To quote Dr. John, such a night.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Should you tour? Paging Mr. Konrath, Mr. Konrath to the courtesy phone.

This from an article on being a novelist in the NYT. Here's the link, but I'm not sure you'll be able to access the entire article without a subscription. If so, I apologize and encourage you to pony up. It's the fucking New York Times for God's sake.

And from the things Mr. Coupland has learned about hotels over 15-years of book tours, you get tips like this, secret number five:

5. Most hotels have an armoire-type thing where they stash the TV set. Next time you go into your hotel room, stand up on a chair and look on top of the armoire. When people are checking out of a room, it’s where they dump stuff they don’t want to take with them, but can’t throw away in case the maid finds it. Stuff that could get them arrested or cause them shame. Really harsh porn. Pot. Pills. Coins. Touristy things that people gave them that they don’t really want. It accumulates from one year to the next. In a Portland, Ore., hotel I once found a pile of Italian lire, three copies of Screw magazine and a $200 photography book inscribed, “To Dennis — without you I could never have conceived this book let alone have the courage to see it to its completion. I owe you everything, Diane.” The Dianes of this world usually get hosed, don’t they?

He's right. I once found a stack of some of the most hardcore porn I've ever seen on top of the armoire in Manhattan. It made me afraid to touch anything else in the room. Truly, human sexuality is a mysterious thing.

So go, check it out.

Captain Obvious strikes again!

Overheard in a story about the heat wave:

Young man - Yeah, I want to go swimming but if you ain't got a pool you're like out of luck, you know?

Yes, we know. And to all the local newscasters, we know it's hot.

You know?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Tonight, Live from Asheville, it's...


I expect nothing less than a life-altering experience.

Full report when I return.

Paying the price

Why is it guys like Rush Limbaugh, a chickenhawk who dodged active duty because of a boil on his ass, are always the ones to talk so tough?

This from the fine Whiskey Bar:

“Until civilians — frankly, I’m not sure how many of them are actually just innocent little civilians running around versus active Hezbo types, particularly the men — but until those civilians start paying a price for propping up these kinds of regimes, it’s not going to end, folks. What do you mean, civilians start paying a price? I just ask you to consult history for the answer to that.”

Rush Limbaugh on the Qana Massacre - July 31, 2006

“We declared jihad against the US government, because the US government is unjust, criminal and tyrannical. It has committed acts that are extremely unjust, hideous and criminal . . . As for what you asked regarding the American people, they are not exonerated from responsibility, because they chose this government and voted for it despite their knowledge of its crimes in Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq and in other places.”

Osama bin Laden on His Fatwa Against America - March 1997

Great minds think alike.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Happy Birthday, Baby

Jenny has stopped greeting birthdays with anything close to what you'd call a celebratory spirit.

But not me. Jenny's birthday is reason to jump up and dance, and I would if I wasn't afraid of breaking a hip.

Jenny and I met doing summer theater. I remember the first time I saw her, she was on stage rehearsing a Gershwin number. She had that long aristocratic neck, a voice that could seduce the rubes in the cheap seats, an understanding of the lyric that told you this was a woman of sophistication, wit and intelligence.

She was a star.

I was a bit character player, consigned to comic walk-ons.

And as I watched her from the back row of the theater, I knew she was the woman I would marry.

In a moment of strength, I asked her.
In a moment of weakness, she said yes.

Life has not been easy. I don't think anyone's life is. But through it all, she's been the person I could count on not to run when things got rough. That's why I dedicated Panamanian Moon to her this way:

To Jenny,
who is good when times are good,
and when times are bad,
she's even better.
Tonight we'll have an expensive dinner and come home early. It's a school night and we both have to work, but in my heart I'm taking her to Greece for a week in the islands.
Some day, she says, some day.
And some days I honestly think she believes it.
I am the luckiest man in the world.