Sunday, July 26, 2009

Finished First Draft of Novel

And it's soon to be a big budget motion picture near you. I wrote a damn action novel, an attempt to convince myself I could write something straightforward without a million subplots/flashbacks. And in those terms I've succeeded, although it needs some fleshing out and I changed the setting of the last scene while I was writing it so I need to go back and fix that. Tons of things that need fixing, actually, but that's the nature of the beast.

Unlike anything else I've ever written, I assume this will get published once I fix it up. It has film and video game potential - the whole story is basically a first person shooter, then at the end shit blows up. Oh, and there's a love story, which isn't written very well at the moment, but will be tied in neatly when I rewrite. I mean, that's a piece of cake - I have experience with love succeeding and failing. The trick is making all the international espionage play out. And I think I'm pretty close to having that. And there's actually an important but not prominent character who could be the lead in a sequel that would not even be the same type of book.

It's fun writing what I don't know how to write and turning it into what I do know how to write, but turning it because I'm learning how to write more ways.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Swill 4 On Sale Now!

Sean wrote an excellent post about the new issue of Swill. As the editor-in-chief of this magazine, I gotta say I'm very proud of our first three issues but issue four is, in the words of Captain Beefheart, "the best batch yet."

There are excerpts from each story, from this issue and each of the previous issues, on the Swill website. The story order for this issue was like a music mix- there was never any question of one story being better than another, the question was always what segued best.

Having decided to open with a noir/horror/science fiction comedy, what type of story follows that best? Thank you John Shirley, a fine opening story and very difficult to label. Which was one of the reasons to open with it; it seemed like any of the other stories could follow it smoothly.

After that the ensuing stories could reasonably be labeled, in order: crime, horror, noir, wacked-out surrealist comedy, noir, fantasy/horror. Out of that batch Craig Hartglass's comic story about a day at the mall with Paul Bowles and Jack Kerouac clearly stood out in terms of "one of these things is not like the others." And we like things that aren't like the others.

We also like the others: W.G. Kelly, Steve Young, Brian Haycock, fine writers who gave us fine stories. Sean and I are also pleased with our own creepy little tales in this issue.

Last night one of the things Sean and I agreed on was that although the new issue is better than the first, the first had a diversity to the types of stories that we would like to have again. Clearly we like certain types of genre writing and see them as literary, but that doesn't mean we dislike mainstream literature. That is, we dislike the boring shit, regardless of genre. Anyway, the website contains my Swill manifestos (they're the back cover text from issues 1 and 2).

The main thing right now: we love this issue, check it out.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Blurry eyed sobriety? Hell, I know a cure for that

ooh look, there was a blank unaddressed email in my "Drafts." guess i was in the middle of saying nothing to no one and got interrupted. now, taking up where i left off...

god, maybe i should send this to everyone. i'm basically waiting for one file from sean then i update the swill website; i could recreate it from the version i have and i will if it's close enough (i have a hardcopy to compare to.) then our big deal issue 4 will be available to our hordes of followers next week; i'm posting July 24 as the release date - that's friday and i'll be mailing out authors' copies saturday.

so freaking tired right now, and i get up early all next week to open the store. which won't, of course, affect me going to writers group at 7:30 tuesday - hell, that tends to energize me, just means i'll be tired wednesday. if i can just make my brain work while i'm tired...

i think the house fire may have something to do with my fatigue. i know it did the night it happened, kind of hard to sleep while wondering if maybe the fire department missed something, even though they have these cool mri cameras that look behind the wood - i've read too much science fiction to have faith in technology. i guess if i read the front part of the newspaper i could have had the same response.

things not to do: don't let your house catch on fire. don't lose your best employee while your second best employee is on vacation (he's not leaving yet and she'll be back before he's gone, and i recommended him for the management job in our company - again, i think it's doing this shit the same week the house catches fire.) oh, and if your house does catch fire, don't let it fuck up any doors so they don't shut right, because then you don't know whether insurance will pick up the tab if you get the door fixed before your claim is processed - basically, i'm making this door workable without knowing what that entails but i pay enough in premiums and they're no doubt going up, i'd better get every fucking penny's worth out of this. also, avoid doing all these things in a shitty economy when you're about to launch a personal project and you want to do everything possible in terms of marketing.

good news is, i have a copy of swill 4 in front of me and it looks fucking great. one fucking typo and it's already been corrected, we print from the corrected file start of next week.

ok, this was going to be a deeply personal email to a close friend of mine but god knows who so we're going with this, all you close personal friends who make your way here. but if you happen to make it past the blog and all the way to my house, the two drink minimum applies only to me, you may leave as much alcohol behind as you like. Cheers!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Got Home Tonight And Our House Was No Longer On Fire

But I couldn't park on my own block due to the fire trucks. The fire department had the thing out before it did much damage, mostly an outside wall, and a few minutes later they were done being dashing with us and out front giving hats and badges to the neighbor kids.

Thing is, I'd originally gotten home a couple hours before. Susan was home and I hadn't had lunch and was starving and it smelled like the neighbors were starting a barbeque. They have a decent number of them, and it did seem to me it was smelling like coals a long time without there being any smell of meat. But I was tired and didn't take much notice, had to go pick up Nate after awhile.

When Nate and I got back we were almost to our house when I realized I couldn't make it down the block in the car. Nate asked what was going on and I said it was probably one of the elderly people on the block had a heart attack or something. Nate wanted to take a shower right away so he got out and walked while I turned the car around and parked a block away.

It was only when I got close that I saw a fireman walking down from our driveway, and the big truck was angled right at our house. There wasn't any visible smoke but my wife was home alone. We have smoke detectors and a smoke alarm inside, but I walked damn quick to the first fireman I saw, waved my keys and pointed at the house.

Well, I was told right away that the fire was out and no one was hurt. Apparently a neighbor had seen the smoke outside, called the fire department and knocked on our door in case anyone was home. Thank you, Eve. Thank you, Oakland Fire Station # 8.

Apparently the fire was started by a smoldering cigarette butt in a planter pot on our back deck. I told Susan, it would be safer if she drank instead of smoked.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

How To Feed The Child Molesters

To each other, of course.

So, my new thought is, we catch all the pedophiles, don't feed them for a few days, and give them pictures of each other both as adults and as children then truck them all into an outdoor stadium and leave them a few days without supervision. Just armed security outside so no one slips out for more easily purchased meat.

Eat up, boys. Afterward, the janitors would receive combat pay.

Can O' Worms, or, I See Your Guilt and Double It

I felt good that I felt bad about the guy with the missing leg, but I felt bad that I felt good about it.

Guilty without being charged, your honor – I’d done nothing to cause the man’s condition, nor had anyone suggested I had. It was a ‘there but for the grace of God’ moment except I don’t believe in God, although I suppose if there were one, he she or it would be quite graceful. I on the other hand had felt self-congratulatory for what should have been a normal sympathetic reaction.

I couldn’t just feel sorry, I had to feel good that I felt sorry. And I couldn’t even stop there, my ego had to scream for more attention so it could blame me for feeling good.

Sometimes my brain is like a ball of dirt rolling down a mountain of shit until the ball is as vast as the mountain had been. There aren’t flies big enough to eat me away.

No wonder I drink. Flush this down. But the guilt never washes away, it just gets pushed out of reach. And what do I have to feel guilty about? Oh lord oh lord oh lord (the egotistical atheist replaces prayer with talking to himself.) It’s not as though there’s any pleasure I feel like I deserve.

Just that I want it. With a lack of satisfaction guaranteed. That is, I will feel consummate pleasure while the pleasure is being consummated, or until it has been consumed, but when it is done there is nothing left. The act itself, whether sex or drinking, may at its conclusion leave me with a momentary sense of well-being, but that moment passes and is soon replaced by pain or absence. Which leaves me needing more at a time when I can’t have it.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Thoughts About the film Being There

It's been awhile since I've seen it, but the movie Being There returns to my thoughts fairly often. What's written here contains spoilers and assumes the reader has seen the movie. It brings up some subjects peripheral to the movie itself that I think are interesting, but hey, it's a great movie, people should see it regardless.

The thing about the character Chance in Being There is not that he is a Christ figure, as implied in the film, but that he is like a Christ figure compared to the rest of us. Our intellectual and political icons (icons meaning the ones who’ve been publicized thus heard of) do not necessarily take the time to consider issues any more deeply than does Chance, and may rely on the quick “briefings” provided by television rather than the more time intensive articles printed in newspapers. The difference is that Chance admits to being molded by pop culture, (well, not in so many words, because he can only talk about what he understands, which is virtually nothing), which is of course what makes him adored by the masses: he seems to be one of us, but because he is seen as someone of importance each of his simple words is extrapolated into something of greater import.

Much of the story is about metaphors and symbolism: everything Chance says about the garden is treated as a metaphor (especially for the economy), and the story becomes about not what actually occurs but about how it is interpreted, both by the masses and by those in power. Chance is not Christ by any means—he is a fucking idiot, and if he is our Savior we are most likely doomed. But here Kosinski takes his stab at religion in general, for its inflating of conceivably inconsequential figures into Godlike ones–we know that Chance is not godly, but as he is treated that way he is eventually portrayed that way.

Is Kosinski then suggesting that those treated as Gods may eventually grow into such? Or, as a child who survived the holocaust and the megalomania that led to it, is his suggestion instead that people will believe anything and are fully capable of seeing any moron as God? The sheer cynicism of this would be easy to accept if not for the fact that Chance’s grand messianic moment occurs without an audience. It may instead be a moment in which a man, who by luck has been perceived to possess far greater attributes than he actually does, continues to not acknowledge the greatness that is an aspect of himself. And that lack of acknowledgement is a large part of what makes him admirable; his wisdom may be specific and not applicable to the rest of his life, but what really makes it wisdom is that it does not color his view of himself. Indeed, he seems to have no view of himself.

To a large degree this is a story about a man without ego dropped into a world rife with ego, and how that world embraces this stranger. Of course, they are embracing him because they are assuming things about him that are untrue, they see areas in which he is inept as areas in which he is superior, because they do not understand him to such an extreme that they fail to see how little there is to understand. And there is almost no doubt that there is something wishful to this aspect of the general concept: Kosinski was no mainstream socializer, was prone to hiding under tables at dinner parties.

Kosinski also knew a great deal about how fortuitous chance could be – he was supposed to be an overnight guest at the home of Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate the night that Tate was murdered, but his flight missed its connection (of course, that story is according to Kosinski, who reputedly lied about virtually everything, more concerned with a good story than with what really happened. As Kosinski has been accused of plagiarizing the bulk of his work, it’s possible that this happened to someone else and it’s their story, but for my purposes it’s more useful if in this instance Kosinski told the truth.)

And if Kosinski was a plagiarist, perhaps there is a connection between him and the character Chance – a man who is lauded for things he has not done. Except, of course, this theory doesn’t work if Kosinski actually wrote Being There.