Monday, December 31, 2007

I don't make resolutions.

I make jokes. The cheaper the better.

So here, my friends, is the last joke I'll post in 2007.

People bring in all sorts of snacks to work to share with us, fattening up their colleagues. It's nice.

This morning, some kind person brought in Bourbon Balls. That's right Bourbon Balls.

The last time I had Bourbon Balls, I was New Orleans for Mardi Gras.

Thank you, thank you. I'll be here all year, tell your friends.

OK, I didn't say it was a good joke, just the last joke.

See you in '08.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Oh, look, honey. Look at the pretty kitty. ARRRGGGHHHH!

Oh, great.

A 300-pound female tiger named Tatiana ate a man on Christmas day.

In San Francisco.

Tatiana chewed up another two men before police shot her.

If this story doesn't reflect the harsh vagaries of life, I don't know what does. You're spending a lovely holiday at the zoo and suddenly, wham! you're being eaten by a 300-pound tiger.

Or, conversely, you finally escape whatever it is that's holding you back and you're having a quiet Christmas nosh when several men shoot you dead. Damn.

Here's hoping there are fewer 300-pound tigers in your life (or men with guns) in the new year.

On a brighter note, I got an alarm clock for Christmas and I'm happy.

The little things. Learn to love the little things.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Holiday cards. pt. 2

Trains...must have trains.....urrrrr.

Yes, this year the Terrenoire household came up with two Christmas cards, both involving Santa in distress.

Here's hoping that 2008 is a lot less terrifying than 2007.

Merry Christmas, Planeteers. See you next week.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

This year's holiday card, part 1.

I usually Photoshop something or add a caption to a picture I stole or do a straight up cartoon. This is the first time I've done all three.

The story: Molly and I were driving home one night and we saw people decorating their house for Christmas. A man was stringing lights in the bushes and another was in an upstairs window, trying to shove an inflated Santa out a second story window.

The novelist in me said, "Looks like Santa's got some bad debt."

Molly delivered the punchline: "I can pay you in cookies on the 26th, man. I promise."

It made me laugh. I hope it made you laugh, too.

Where are you in the geek-o-meter?

This from the NY Times, which is now free, all of it, for everyone. Yay!

I confess, it took one viewing of Lord of the Rings for me to realize that whatever geek there was in me (and there was never much), is now deader than barbershop harmonies.

It was during the circle at the castle, when all the various Trolls, Elves, Dwarves, Masons, Elks, Moose and Squirrel pledged their sword and claw to Fredo's quest. I watched the scene play out and said, "What a lot of hokum."

A lot of my friends are seriously into this stuff but I just can't get as excited about a Marmulan with a photon speculum as I can about a hooker with a gun.

When we were out in Phoenix for Thrillerfest, I was surprised by the number of former D&D players who are now writing crime fiction, but maybe I shouldn't be. After all, stories are stories, and there are some great SF writers, just as there are great crime writers.

So, tell me, how healthy is your inner geek and where on the chart do you fall?

I think if I had to choose, I'd be somewhere down there with the Erotic Furries.

With a gun.

Now there's a story.

America's problems are solved, part 2.

This Modern World asks the question, "Is CNN still a news organization?"

That's yesterday's CNN poll up there, asking the question that all Americans want to know: Can prayer save Britney from flashing her cooter at the cameras again?

I sure want to know.

I'm always amused when I hear wingers complain about "the liberal media." The lame-ass media, yes. The irrelevant media, no question. But liberal? Like Exxon is liberal.

For instance, last night I heard a business report about a spa in LA that caters strictly to children. As one indulgent mom put it, the little tykes get a manicure and a pedicure, and then "they feel good about themselves."

Really? They feel good about themselves how? I know things have changed, but when I was a kid we actually had to, you know, do something to feel good about ourselves.

How quaint that sounds now, like Grandma putting up preserves for the winter.

And, according to the report, market research shows that the luxury spa treatment is particularly attractive to tweens. Now there's a shocker. Who could have guessed that a preteen girl would want to drop a few hundred bucks of Dad's money so she can be treated like a princess by underpaid, undocumented workers.

That, my friend, is news. And who can we thank for this hard-hitting piece of investigative journalism?

NPR. That's right. Liberal NPR.

All I can add is, Good night and good luck.

Tomorrow: The holiday card is back! Just in time for the holiday! Watch for it!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Stuff blows up real good.

I don't have access to fancy cameras and editing equipment like Jeff Shelby or Jim Born, but I do have friends like Chris who sent me this very cool video of stuff getting shot.

The water bottle is my favorite.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Now we know how Hermione keeps her healthy glow.

I thought someone made this up until I read that the Concerned Women for America were focusing their tight-ass concern on this toy.

Why? Because little Susie has apparently discovered true magic riding a broom that, uh, vibrates.

That's right. Girls can imagine they're at Hogwarts, straddle their vibrating Nimbus 2000, and take off for places they've never been before.

According to the news, Mattel, who didn't think this thing through, has pulled the toy from the shelves and Amazon has stopped selling it on their site, but not before people posted reviews like this one:

When my 12 year old daughter asked for this for her birthday, I kind of wondered if she was too old for it, but she seems to LOVE it. Her friends love it too! They play for hours in her bedroom with this great toy. They really seem to like the special effects it offers (the sound effects and vibrating). My oldest daughter (17) really likes it too!

I don't know. The reviews are more than suspicious, but still, it's weird enough to be true.

If anyone knows for sure, please don't tell me. This Christmas, I want to believe.

Now here's a guy I can get behind.

Although snarky reporters call him the 1% candidate because he doesn't get them into celebrity-studded parties like Hillary or Obama, Chris Dodd actually did something the other Democratic candidates only talk about - he stood up to George Bush.

What? A Democrat with spine? Impossible, you say.

But Dodd threatened to filibuster the FISA bill, a stinking pile of legislative ordure that would retroactively excuse criminal activity, and Harry Reid took his lips off George Bush's ass long enough to withdraw the bill from the floor.

Some smart guy in Dodd's campaign said, "He understands that he should probably be in Iowa campaigning, but the Constitution and the rule of law are Dodd's passion."

Wow. A politician who believes in the Constitution and the rule of law. No wonder the media ignores the guy. What a snore.

Hey! Look over there! Isn't that Oprah?!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Time goes by in a blink.

Yesterday was the anniversary of my dad's death. On December 14th, 1995, he planted a tree for my mother and moments later, grasped his head, fell into Mom's lap and was gone. Hit by a celestial bus, we said. Good for him, as he went quickly, but hard on us.

He never lived to see me publish a novel. He never heard Molly sing in front of an audience. Yet there's not a day that I don't think of him, sometimes briefly, but he's there. Just this week I told the story of how he taught the finer points of nine ball to the Orlando chapter of an outlaw motorcycle club. It was a sight to see.

It's been two years since Olen Steinhauer inadvertently pushed me into writing this blog. In that time I've threatened to quit a few times, but that never stuck. And in that time I've let some pretty raw emotions darken this Dark Planet.

It is what it is.

I don't have a counter on this thing so I have no idea how many people stop by to see what shiny object has attracted my attention this day. But I hear from people. They tell me they enjoy this place and I'm always surprised because really, most of my posts are blather. Amusing blather, at best, but still blather.

Most recently I heard from Gary Myers, the man who painted the painting Jenny and I bought last year. I was flattered that he reads this blog, and surprised, as usual. But whatever keeps bringing you back here, Gary, I'm grateful. And maybe soon I'll be able to afford another one of your paintings.

There have been other readers, people whom I greatly admire, first for their generous humanity, second for their skill at this scribbling craft. Again, I'm grateful.

I have no plans on quitting, and as long as you're enjoying yourselves, I hope you'll keep coming back and dropping me a line every now and then when something strikes you.

In the coming months there will be more politics, you can bet on that and there will be more news that remind us of our innate absurdity, along with more uncensored communiques from the abyss, and more cheap jokes made at others' expense.

There will be news of the film's slow crawl toward the light, more word counts on this novel that won't die, more quick notes slipped in between meetings at work. More notes on our collective progress, when there is progress.

There will be music, if I can figure out how to imbed an MP3 into this thing and there will good news, too, when it brightens this spot. For instance, on January 11th, in Chapel Hill, Molly's band will perform. It will be their third gig. That's Molly from her second gig up there, and down there is Molly's poster. If you're in town, stop by. I'll buy you a beer.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

And now a word from Officer Friendly.

One of the greatest literary critiques I've seen and some damn fine shooting, both courtesy of our friend Jim Born.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Monday, December 10, 2007

Jackie Treehorn draws a lot of water in this town.

Are you an Achiever? Are you looking for a cash machine? Can you get me a toe?

In other words, are you a Lebowski? Of course you are.

My nephew recently inaugurated his new home theater with TBL, and why not? It's got to be one of the best movies ever made.

I recently bought I'm a Lebowski, You're a Lebowski. Buy a copy for the Achiever on your list.

If you're a fan of the film (and who isn't?), you might wonder just how they can run it on television, what with all the F-bombs. Thankfully, the book gives us a look inside the televised Big Lebowski.

Here is a short list of some of the lines they had to change to protect the children:

Original: They peed on my fucking rug.
TV Version: They peed on my valued rug.

Original: Am I the only one around here who gives a shit about the rules?
TV Version: Am I the only one around here who gives a stick about the rules?

Original: I'll suck your cock for a thousand dollars.
TV Version: I'll slurp your Coke for a thousand dollars.

Original: This is what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass.
TV version: This is what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps.

I used some pretty rough language in Beneath A Panamanian Moon. I thought it was appropriate, but Mom was a little uncomfortable. Ah, well.

Every writer I know gets hit with the language question sooner or later so, this is for you. Let's imagine one of your books gets made into a feature film and when it goes to TV they have to dub G-rated, politically-correct language in to make up for your original potty-mouthed dialogue.

For instance, in BAPM:

Original: "Goddamn taco-bending goat fucker."
TV Version: "Gosh darn tempo-friendly coat fluffer."

So try this, Planeteers. Pick one from your own (or your favorite) nasty manuscript and give it the kid-friendly treatment.

Did you know they make Nihilist gum and it has no flavor? Really.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

How lame do you have to be to wear this hat?

I had to buy genuine Acco brand brass brads (#5) last year to hold together my screenplay because Hollywood can't read scripts held together with anything less. Staples only carries the bullshit brads which meant I had to order mine through The Writer's Store.

That put me on The Writer's Store mailing list. Yesterday I got their catalog chock full of writerly stuff. For instance, I considered spending $400 for software that will finish this damn book until I realized I'd still have to finish this damn book.

But it's nice to fantasize that Final Draft will really make my next screenplay better, or The Writer's Guide to Character Traits will make my people leap off the page with all sorts of loveable quirks and idiosyncrasies.

But, I'm guessing that if you need a book of traits to give your characters life then maybe you should try another line of work.

Perhaps I'm being harsh.

Or maybe there are more people making more money selling crap to aspiring writers than there are writers actually making enough money to justify dropping $250 on Truby's Blockbuster 5.0 or 20 bucks on Great Dialogue which promises to help you write great dialogue. But again, if you need a book to help you capture the music of your characters' speech, maybe you should stay in school and get that accounting degree after all.

You can probably tell that I'm not a big fan of these things. I read Donald Maas' book, Writing the Breakthrough Novel, and I liked it well enough to recommend it recently. Although looking at the Amazon Reviews, perhaps I'm as big a patsy as anyone else.

Still, I'm not such a schmuck that I'd wear a goddamn hat that says "Writer" on it.

There's a great line from the criminally overlooked movie, Hearts of the West. In it, veteran screen writer Andy Griffith tells a struggling young Jeff Bridges that "You're not a writer until someone else calls you a writer."

And you're certainly not a writer because you spent 10 bucks on a fucking hat. You might as well wear one that says "Turd."

Now that I think about it, I'd probably wear that hat.

I'm not talking about books like King's On Writing or Lamott's Bird by Bird. I'm talking about books that promise to make you a better writer. Do you think they work? Do you think people actually benefit from writing software, books and stupid fucking hats?

Talk to me.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Run little guy! Here comes Judith Giuliani!

I don't normally go to Rupert Murdoch for news, but I found this story in the New York Post:

Rudy Giuliani's third wife, Judith "Don't Call Me Judy" Giuliani, kills puppies. It doesn't say whether she eats the puppies or just skins them for their fur, but this can't be a good image for a potential First Lady.

Rudy already has a lot of questions about his cross dressing, his estranged children, his support for abortion and homosexuals, his criminal friends, his first marriage to his cousin, and his moving on to another babe before he's tossed the present trouble and strife out on her keister. (Say what you will, but our Rudy's a man of action. )

So this puppy thing could really come back to bite him on the ass.

Or maybe not. Maybe we can spin this to Rudy's advantage.

Rudy and Judy! Keeping you safe from poodles!

Rudy and Judy! Cleaning up the country's crap!

Rudy and Judy! If they'll kill puppies, just think what they'll do to Osama!

Yeah, this whole puppy thing could work out. Show the world that this is one couple you don't want to mess with.

So here's your chance to play presidential spinmeister. Tell us how you'd reposition Judy's puppy-killing. You might even win a spot in Rudy's West Wing.

And really, how much money have puppies contributed to Rudy's campaign? Bupkis, that's what. I say, fuck 'em.

Monday, December 03, 2007


I need some time off. Not from the blog. Not even from work. But from life.

Where I used to decompress on weekends, that's not happening lately. We're exhausted and even the dogs are feeling stressed.

So, if you run into me and I look dazed, unaware of the day or even where I am, you'll know why.

I'm thinking of growing a mustache, changing my name to Raul and moving to Guadalajara where I'll give guided tours to rich American dowagers.

Short of that, I'm open to suggestion.