Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last Walk

Walked a mile over at Griffith Park, the first time in 6 weeks. Knee felt Okay afterwards. Time to focus on giving running one more chance, beginning with walking. Enough for 2009. Big things ahead next year for such is my intention. Happy New Year everyone!

Haunted TV

While watching Ghost Hunters, I saw them investigate two places I'd been. One was the Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Then, on the following episode, the team checked out the Jim Hensen Studios in Hollywood. I'd heard rumors of the Crescent, but didn't experience anything. And the only thing I've ever seen at Hensen are Muppets and executives. (The team pronounced both locations rife with paranormal activity - or as paranormal as any TV show can be.)

Last year I had to take a First Aid class while coaching Team in Training. The Red Cross facility was in an old mansion in Pasadena. The class ran into the night. After finishing up, I talked with the instructor who advised me to leave quickly as the place was haunted. Nothing bad had happened, but things were seen and heard which the instructor found unexplainable and disturbing. And apparently beyond the powers of earthly First Aid.

I'm amazed by how many people I've met over the years who have ghost stories. Buncha nuts. (Photo: youthradio.wordpress.com)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Louie in the News

Voice Actors in the News presents a holiday with Louie Anderson.

Link to Top Ten TV Blunders

The Hollywood Reporter ranks the decades' Top Ten TV Blunders. Some you'll know, others are news to me. I would include the last season of the X-Files and the last two seasons of The Sopranos. While not huge blunders, they are good examples of giving CPR to a mummy.
h/t: Big Hollywood

State of Washington Photos

Gig Harbor, Washington.


Monday, December 28, 2009

Drip Posting

Pardon my drips as I pre-posted a week's worth of stuff while I enjoyed a computer-free Christmas with my relatives in the Pacific Northwest. It was a grand, frosty time, cold yet warm in a family, holiday way. As we waited for our ride home at the airport, I was interviewed by a local paper on the new security procedures resulting from the latest terrorist attack on a Detroit-bound flight. If I find it later, I'll put it up.

But nice to be home.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Waiting on the Beta Readers

Six readers will wade into my long short story. I shall wait until after Christmas to spruce it up, before sending it out. I can't wait to work on my next story: "Ella The Passive-Aggressive Ghost."

Most depressed lately, re. running, or lack there of. One more shot, then I'll call it a life and do other things. Hopefully healthy things.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

More From Tech For Less

To make an annoying story short, a kindly soul at Tech For Less took pity on me and mailed a Christmas gift despite high incompetence on the part of my credit card company.

Thank you, decent and noble Tech For Less. Merry Christmas and may fat sales lie in your techy future.

You and Me and a Christmas Tree

They vote and breed.

EMBED-Dad Ruins Christmas Tree Setup - Watch more free videos
h/t: Viral Footage

Monday, December 21, 2009

Winding Down and Wasted from Writing

Weary on this shortest day of the year from slogging away on my novelette - the technical term for the story I'm writing as it's no longer short, but not wordy enough to be a novella. There's a temptation to punch ahead and make it so, but I need feedback on what I have. Perspective has "slipped the surly bonds of earth," as the poet said, and I crave input. Alas, I have no more signed Freakazoid posters to offer as inducement. Perhaps plastic grapes? Or a gnome child, left in my barbecue. (Actually, I already turned it over to the county. But my wife has photographs if we can figure out what's wrong with her Canon Sure-Shot.) Anyway, something.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sizzled on Rewrites

Burned out yesterday rewriting the first seven pages of the jumbo short story. Today, I'll concentrate only on the last 20 pages. Everything needs to be paid off and its the weakest portion; the part I keep saying will "write itself," in the vain hope that it actually will. So now I will because the story will not do me a solid. My own story!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Stuck in the Short Story Consideration Line

Queue you. So I've been told electronically. One magazine I submitted to has an on-line submission and tracking page. You're given a number when you send in your story. Then you can follow its progress through the editorial process, much like watching your car move through brushes, soap, and hot wax at the car wash. My story currently has 94 other stories in front of it, waiting to be read. In other words, it has not even been vacuumed. A lengthy wait will certainly affect my tip.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Going Back to Jackson

Yesterday would've been the 90th birthday of author Shirley Jackson. Author of "The Lottery" and "The Haunting of Hill House," she died of an apparent heart attack back in 1965 at the age of 45. Jackson wrote good gothic, but could also crank out light-hearted, slice-of-slice books about the chaos of raising four kids. She loved writing because it was one of the few times during the day she got to sit down.

Unlike my laborious method of writing draft after draft until the right words finally appear, Jackson would mull a story over for a long time, then sit down and bang it out almost print ready. (Very similar to the Paul Rugg style .-:)) My favorite Jackon short story involved an older New York couple who decided to spend the winter upstate at their summer home and learned the locals could be deadly if you overstayed your welcome.

And that was this moment in Shirley Jackson history.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Zip Code Change

Folks up in the August burn areas are bracing for possible location-changing mud slides. Two more inches of rain are in-bound and they say an inch-an-hour is enough to provide the necessary liquefaction. Let's hope for a big long drizzle.

Today I begin the end run for the big long horror story. Everything makes sense, but I have to drop in a number of elements that will provide stronger ties to various character changes as well as foreshadow the climax.

Mostly, I want to be finished and send it out and have someone buy it for my Christmas present.

One of them, anyway.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Six and Soaked

Ernesto ran six miles today in a steady downpour. Unemployment has really jump-started his training as he's hoofing it 5x a week in preparation for the upcoming LA Marathon. Nothing like a heavy rain to separate the hard-core from the somewhat-committed.

Short Story Update

"Perry the Owl Boy" went off for consideration yesterday. Ten-in-Six now stands at:
One acceptance ("Bane Fish" in Night Chills Magazine.)

Five pending with "Dagon and Jill" the closest to placing (on a shortlist.)

That's four more to write (and ideally sell) before the end of February 2010.

"Apple Dan" is a few drafts from completion, but could be done next Friday.

At least two stories would have to be seriously rewritten, while "Ella the Passive-Aggressive Ghost" may be closer than I think.

My wife suggested I try writing a few Christmas cards.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Lining up Short Story Markets

A snap thanks to Duotrope. In the short fiction realm, 5 cents a word and up is considered the professional rate. A penny to 4 cents is semi-pro. Fractions of a cent - such as I was recently paid - constitute token payment. Publication copies are the minimum exchange for a story. I tend to send out to token payments and up, but don't sneer at anything that gets one aboard the resume-building train.

My last non-writing, acting, producing job took place on October 31, 1991. I worked at a temp agency on assignment to an engineering company in Pasadena. There I inputted reports into their database. Sit down, type, go out for a smoke at 10, lunch from 12:30 to 1:30, then type until 5:30.

They didn't want much: my time and effort for x hours at x dollars. I've been paid the long green and treated worse than the engineering company treated me.

Went to see good friend Ken last night for an evening of coffee shop chow and good bad movies. Same address for 29 years. That's astounding in Los Angeles. It's like living in the Sphinx.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Perry the Owl Boy

Currently perched, waiting for today's final polish. Then a read over Friday, and away it flies to a publication claiming to welcome such whimsical tales. After which, I return to the jumbo 11k horror short story. Looking forward to finishing that one and getting it out before the end of next week.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Steaks Breaks

At least for the rest of this year, due to injuries. Read his race report on the Las Vegas Marathon, where TNT chums Rouman, Elizabeth and Inez also braved the chilly desert air for a bit of 26.2 merriment.

Zombie Update

Wondering where to buy the best vehicle for surviving a zombie apocalypse? These folks have given it some thought, as well as other topics of interest to the undead community.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Another Day, Another No

This time from a wry, snarky humor mag. My story enchanted one editor, but not the three necessary for a spot in the magazine. Still, I was invited to try again. I find myself, more often than not, in what I call the "honored rejection bin." That's where editors acknowledge not accepting my work and invite me to have another go.

Cold and rainy today. But not for a man who works at home.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Not Everyone Mourned

My English nurse mom was grateful for Pearl Harbor. She'd been dodging Nazi bombs in London for two years and knew that with America now in the war, there was no way the British could lose. However, Roosevelt only declared war on Japan. Hitler saved the day by honoring the Axis Treaty and declaring war on the U.S. Italy followed right behind. WW II was on.

h/t: Associated Press

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Marathons

Ernesto, Nick and a few other TNT chums are training for our hometown marathon. From what I hear, the course will be point to point, starting at Dodger Stadium, traveling through Hollywood and ending in Santa Monica. I'll be training to watch it on TV, but I wish them all well.

Big writing day yesterday, cranking out another draft on my long short story. (Only 55 pages now.) I'll put this one aside now and work on something shorter. Perhaps a postcard.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Write and Walk

Chi walk, that is. It's a method of locomotion that involves your feet landing under your body and not in front of it, thereby eliminating knee and joint stress. Alas, there are many moving parts to the method. But I"m not in a hurry.

Big old short story - 60 pages - is nearing the end of another draft. My word count approaches 13K, kicking me into novelette range. Its a tale I developed in workshop a few years back, sent out once or twice, came close to placing, then lost interest and put it away. This time its placing. (Remember: fiction pays by the word.)

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Research and Rates

My pharmacist father-in-law helped me research a story, providing insight into what sort of items one might find in a small lab. (Apparently, many of the same items you'd find in a regular kitchen.)

Tempers flared at Black Matrix blogsite after some guy dissed the publication for not paying pro-rates. (5 cents a word, I think.) It's similar to ripping independent filmmakers for paying talent a copy of the film. Having produced and directed one independent film (and a short one at that), I know pretty much everything comes out of your pocket. You get to be in charge in return for all the headaches and expenses. (I'm not saying it wasn't worth it, but regular readers may note I'm not blogging about directing a bunch more of my own films.)

And having acted in a few independent films, I acknowledged the trade-off between my time and effort and my meager compensation. Back then, it was one of the fastest ways to build an acting reel. Student films, too.

Duotrope lists hundreds of short fiction markets: paying, non-paying, token payment. Most paying markets list their rates. I'm free to submit to whom I will and do. If I don't like the deal, there's other places to shop.

And if some markets don't pay well, there are certain benefits such as a take-it-or-leave-it approach. This can sometimes trump excellent pay and a page one rewrite.

Noble CIM

When injured last fall, I had to withdraw from the California International Marathon. The kindly folks there said they'd put me in this year. Alas, I'm in no shape to run, or walk, but CIM carried me over anyway.

Perhaps 2011?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Friday, November 27, 2009

A New Runner and New Thin Man


Yesterday, fellow writer (and now runner) Bernadette completed her first 5K without stopping. That's 3.1 miles on a course I ran four years ago and know contains literal ups and downs. Bravo, Bernadette. (I run vicariously these days, eliminating the need for expensive shoes.)

At the in-laws yesterday for dinner. One 23-year-old family member dropped 100 pounds in a year. The last time I saw him, he was wider than Lake Huron. He accomplished this feat with nothing more than a gym membership and a diet of mostly salads. A shout-out to young Ezra for losing the equivalent of a small child.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Shortlist

A short story, "Dagon and Jill," has advanced another rung up the publication ladder. This particular magazine employs a blind submission process, whereby you email two attachments: one with name and contact info and the other with the story. Relying only on the story, readers select which tales proceed. There are two such rounds before a story reaches the editors - the above-mentioned shortlist. (That's where I be, har.) As each issue has a different editor, the story circulates among them and, if no one picks, its a pass. (I have a one-in-three chance, so I'm told.) In the meantime, they've pleasantly asked me to send in something else. Oh, very well; if they insist.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

"Bane Fish" Placed

Black Matrix Publishing has purchased my short story "Bane Fish" for inclusion in one of their four upcoming magazines, Night Chills. As this is my first prose fiction sale, I was so excited I almost stopped having the flu. I'm not sure when it's due out, but I'll update with a link for those inclined to purchase a copy. Or follow their publishing progress on Facebook. It's been a long, barren year and this really raises my spirits - which is appropriate when writing for a horror magazine.

Duotrope Shout Out

If you've ever hankered to publish fiction or poetry, this site will have you knocking on doors in no time. Duotrope provides a huge market database, plus weekly updates on what's open, closed or extinct in the publishing world. Since I began Ten-in-Six back in late August, I've used Duotrope's online submissions tracker to follow all my stories. They keep track of submissions, rejections, and acceptances. Visit on Facebook. Alas, they are not eligible for Stimulus Funds and must rely on donations to keep the data base fires burning. Help out, if you can. They do everything but write the darn thing for you.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

La Jolla: Land of Sea and Lego




Hardly any sleep the last two nights because of sinus blockage. But I'm tired enough now to sleep through not breathing. Here are more Lego creations: the Hollywood Bowl and a unionized state employee goofing off.

Friday, November 20, 2009

La Jolla




Down there last week. Beautiful shoreline chock full of sea lions and one of those places were you can buy polo attire. (I resisted.) There's also Legoland, Sea World, the San Diego Zoo, and Tiajuna all within EZ driving distance. But enough of this brochure writing.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Got Me a Bug

Flu, I believe, but not H1N1. Just a garden variety strain. I hardly ever got sick during my running years, but alas this is no longer back-in-the-day. And today I no longer tear calf muscles, break metatarsals, or erode knee cartilage. A push, as the Vegas folks say. Sorta.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Did the Brain Secretly Jog?


Pinky clearly didn't. An NYT article tells the tale of mice, humans and the brilliant effects of running on brain power.
h/t: Cynthia Yockey

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Emil Does Fresno

Sore achilles tendon and all.

As for me, I walked a mile this morning on the Griffith Park bridal trails in a blazing 14:36, then stretched out. As this is my step-back week, post-walk stretching took longer than the mile. No soreness in the knee. I practiced walking with a slight forward lean so that my feet land under me. Over striding is for the young and those with sufficient cartilage in both knees.

The Department Goes to Pot

An officer says 'high.'

h/t: failblog

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Shaken to the Core

Bollywood horror - it's different there.

h/t: N4S

Happy B-Day USMC

Celebrating 234 years of blowing things up and collecting exotic souvenirs. The rifles carried by the drill team are old M1's and weigh about ten pounds.

h/t: afneurope

Monday, November 09, 2009

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Walking and Writing Update

Saturday in the park, Griffith Park, that is. Walked 1.6 miles. Next week I'll walk a single mile 3x to ease back, then increase to 1.8 miles the following week. I'm used to walking during the week and having the place to my self, but there were groups of runners and walkers and cyclists everywhere and at once. I played a game, keeping an eye out for runners wearing gear from races I'd run, spotting an inaugural 2006 LA Half-Marathon and a 2007 Pacific Shoreline Half-Marathon. Met Ernesto for breakfast, than ran errands, came home and started on another story.

If I do a draft, set a story down, then do a draft on another, by the time I return to the first I've got answers to the more challenging sections.

Ten-in-Six Update: Five stories out. One has been rejected twice; another rejected once; and one is poised to sell, having made the first cut. (I'll know December 1.) I'm half-way to at least getting ten stories completed. Anyway, I'm having a pleasant, enjoyable experience. I hope you are too.

Trippy


h/t: SBARSTV

Friday, November 06, 2009

Another Walk

Around the grass field at the Rose Bowl. More t'ai chi before and after. One. six miles. Next week, I'll do a bit less and rest up.

Chat with my agent tomorrow about a sit-com I wrote this year. We haven't talked much since the big fires in August. But from what I've heard, things remain slow in the animation world.

Tom Ruegger notified me Carl Ballantine passed away. Carl did a voice on a first season Freakazoid segment called "Lawn Gnomes." We had a party that summer for the voice actors at a pizza parlor. Afterwards, Carl wanted to know what was for dessert. "Where's the @#$%&*# cake?" he asked. It fell to me to explain that we didn't have cake. "What kind of party doesn't have a@#$%&*# cake?" Clearly, he was hot for dessert and we'd dropped the ball. However, in non-cake matters, he was loose and funny and did a good job for us." Rest in peace and, hopefully, heaven has a rich dessert buffet.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

NYC Race Report

Emil tells it like it was.

Marine Moment

As Project Valor IT rolls on, here's the USMC 1st Force Recon laser painting targets in Iraq.

h/t: TotenkopfSturmbann

My friend Kurt was in Marine Recon during Vietnam, operating in Laos along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. He learned to be very quiet.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Walk

And that's what I did yesterday - 1.6 miles on a soft dirt bridal trail at Griffith Park. A crew erected a large Christmas tree for the park's annual light show as I strolled past. I'm adding a little distance each week. When I can walk 3 miles without soreness, I'll try running a quarter mile or so.

Five years of t'ai chi really build up my quads and glutes. No wonder I wasn't injured on my first marathon. Now I'm practicing it again so as to build up my quads and glutes. There's a temptation to quit the whole rehabilitation thing and just eat. But then I'd start getting caught in doorways again. Forward, slowly, until my knee positively proves I can't run again. I believe I can.

Until then, I'm thinking of cancelling my subscription to Runner's World. The only section I read is food and diet.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Mmmmmm

A little shark-on-shark action from Oz as a ten-foot Great White gets munched by a 20-foot Great White.

h/t: ElectronicProphecy

Monday, November 02, 2009

USMC Moment

As part of my commitment to the Marine team of Project Valor IT, I'm asked to post something Marine-related for the duration of the contest. Here's a recent recruiting video:

h/t: maxwalsh92

Back in the fall of 1971, I prepared to join the Army. A high school pal was supposed to go along but his parents offered him a new car if he stayed home. (It worked.) Studying bored me, so I prepared to sign up solo. But one October day, I heard a couple of guys from the neighborhood were joining the Marines. I figured I'd go with them.

At the time, Vietnam was winding down. And while there were still weekly casualties, they were low and dropping lower as ground units were withdrawn. Still, the bloody years from 1965 to 1970 had left a bad taste in every one's psyche. (As I've mentioned, from Feb. 1968 to Oct. 1969, 500 Americans died every month.) My parents' hated the idea, especially my mother who pressured me to join the Navy or Air Force like my cousins. (Forgetting my cousin Danny joined the Navy to avoid the Army, got married after being told he wouldn't be sent to Vietnam, then found himself in bullet-riddled Saigon on the second day of the Tet Offensive.)

One day I came home from work and my sister said Chuck stopped by to talk me out of joining the Marines. Two years older than I, Chuck had amazing hand-eye coordination. My friends and I used to act as beaters for him, flushing rabbits out of the brush on a golf course in suburban Chicago. Chuck waited on the fairway and picked off fleeing rabbits with a bow and arrow. Amazing shot. Later a Marine, Chuck served in 'Nam as a door gunner on a helicopter, shooting other things. Whatever he'd seen and done over there, he hadn't cared for.

At eighteen, joining the Marines was the first major decision of my life. And here were my parents and an older guy from the neighborhood, whom I respected, trying to talk me out of it.

I was hot to go.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Run Around

A most active November 1st. Emil Cheng finished the New York City Marathon ("sore Achilles tendon and all") in 4 hours and thirty-nine minutes. This year's race was the largest in the world with 42k participants. My friend Rouman ran in 2008. He said you didn't want to be on the lower level of the Verrazano Bridge coming out of Staten Island. (People on the upper level piss down on you - accidentally, I'm sure.)

Out in Arizona, Kate Freeman ran her first 100 mile race at the Coyote Javelina, beginning yesterday and finishing this morning. A sterling effort by a real competitor.

Speaking of efforts, Meb Keflezighi became the first American since 1982 to win the New York City Marathon. He wouldn't let the Kenyans drop him, stayed up with the leader, then broke away, increasing his lead for the last few miles and speeding to victory. Movies released in 1982 included: Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan, The Twilight Zone, Rocky III, The Thing, and Road Warrior. I know this by heart since I worked midnights as a guard at a jewelry manufacturing plant, lived in a hot apartment, and went to the movies in the afternoon, more for the air conditioning than anything else. Afternoon movies in Hollywood during the early 80s will be the subject of another post once I think of something wholesome to say.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Project Valor IT

So what's the new widget in the upper right of the page? For the last few years, the military services have competed in a fundraiser called Project Valor IT. The money raised buys voice-activated laptops for wounded veterans. Not surprisingly, I'm on the Marine Team. Donate if you can and help out the vets. It's a way to say 'thanks' for their sacrifice - the highest form of patriotism.

Running, Walking and the Astounding Bob Petrella

Friend Emil continues to run like a man afire, having completed more marathons in four months than I did in four years. This Sunday he'll be dashing off from Staten Island with 40K other runners in the New York City Marathon. I'm sure he'll overcome sundry running dings to finish strong.

I now walk a mile 3x a week, on an all-weather track or grass. So far no pain. I do more warming up and stretching out than actually movement. It's like a barbecue where you have a plate with Cold Slaw, chips, and a hamburger bun covered in ketsup, but no meat. Not for awhile.

From Nightline to a soon-to-be-filmed 60 Minutes, Bob Petrella's amazing memory continues to attract media interest. I'm off to see Bob for lunch today to learn more about my past.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dreams

Here's how they went:

I'm in an apartment, holding a high-tech nuclear bomb the size of a coffee thermos. I activate the bomb, set a timer, but then forget about it. Later, I pick up the bomb and wonder whether it even turned on. Then I hear a low-pitched hum. The bomb is indeed armed and an LED suddenly flashes to let me know I have a little over a minute until detonation. In a mad scramble, I look around for the directions that came with the bomb, hoping to stop the countdown. But I've thrown them out. In a panic, I consider running, but know I can't outrace the fireball. Then I feel ashamed, because my negligence has cost my neighbors, and most of Los Angeles, their lives. Leaving the bomb on a sofa, I walk into another room and wonder about the afterlife. I never hear the explosion, but there is a brilliant flash and what-seems-like filmy strips of brown material tearing and peeling away on either side of my eyes, revealing darkness surrounded by a corona of white light. I sense movement forward, toward judgement and rapidly consider my life, feeling inadequate as if I hadn't done enough good things and had wasted a great deal of time.

Suddenly, I'm inside a large mansion or office in England. I work here. I don't really fit in. Even though everyone speaks English, there are vague cultural differences that separate us. The place is bustling, people moving quickly here and there. I'm not really sure what my job is supposed to be, so I compensate by moving rapidly through hallways and open spaces converted into work spaces, nodding to those I pass, lost but striding confidently as if sure of my destination - a trick I picked up working for the government over the years.

Then I awoke. My wife stuck her head in the bedroom and said she was leaving for work and could I pick up the dry cleaning?

I think the message is clear: Don't blow up a major city or you'll die and go to work in England and be snubbed.
(Photo: eso-garden.com)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sights and Sounds of Hollywood

With an armful of old eyeglasses, I visited my optometrist. He straightened out nose pads and arms before we settled on a new pair for close-up reading. Technically, this doctor is not my old optometrist, but a mentee who took over when my old guy retired - now filling his days with tennis and working in stained glass. However the office remains on Sunset in Hollywood, close to where I lived for many years. Hollywood was a dangerous dump when I moved there in 1979. I don't care how many multiplexes, Olympic clean-ups, hot night clubs, or tourist shops the place gets - it's still seedy. It seems metal fences and razor wire have multiplied over the years. There are streets so dystopian, they look like images from a first-person shooter video game. And it continues to attract the different.

As I was driving north toward Franklin, I stopped at a light. A young girl, early twenties, headed toward the crosswalk, all unisexed up in a man's dress shirt and tie, ball cap on sideways, tight jeans. Stepping off the curb, she passed a middle-aged Mexican guy with a shaved head, digging through a garbage bin and plucking out aluminum cans.

"You're recycling, recycling, recycling, that's so cool," she called. "I love you."

The Mexican guy lifted his head out of the garbage and called, "Yeah? Then kiss me."

But Unisex flounced across the street, head full of love, environmental purity, and cluelessness.

Ah, Hollywood: where the show never ends. Almost enough to make me nostalgic. Almost.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Bone's Back

A few years ago, Larry Blamire and friends decided to actually make a bad '50s sci-fi film from scratch - kinda like a tribute movie. The result was The Lost Skeleton of Cadavera.

h/t: vasova

And now, at long last:

h/t: loladog11

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Cancer Claims Dale Woodson

Dale passed away two days ago. For almost three years I've chronicled his fight with cancer: here, here, here, and here. Seeing him every week, I watched the light in his eyes gradually diminish until finally, last Sunday, he was alive but no longer fully present. His struggle ended, but his family's burden remains as they wrestle with grief and the mundane tasks of dismantling a life's residue. Keep them in your prayers.

These last two weeks have been pretty sad.

But not as sad as the fear of Chuck Woolery.

Or the fate of a hapless burglar:

Little Boy Heroically Shoots, Mutilates Burglar

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Just Like Family

Attended the service for Ashley's brother, Jamen. Sat near TNTers Van, Virginia and Kiley. TNT truly is like family: I only see them at weddings and funerals.

Walked one mile this morning around an all-weather track at a local high school. My friend Bernardette lives nearby and runs her morning workout there. So she joined me as we side-stepped the marching band, rehearsing under the directorship of a peevish man with a bullhorn. From what I could understand, they were given blue dots to mark their places. ("Everyone get on their dots. Aaron, I said get on your dot. Now. Run. Okay. I can be a lot harder, if that's what you want.")

I may pick up a few bucks writing for a website under a nom de plume - French for phony name. I'll know more today. I seem to be repeating my past: before animation, I was associate editor on a magazine and wrote many little articles. Maybe next month, I'll be a freshman in college.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Vid Shows Man vs Wild Fake

A sham survival show! But...but...how?

Glad

Glad to be around, glad to be here, glad all over, glad trash bags with drawstring tops, glad.

Free form good feelings for no particular reason.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fallen Eagle

I didn't know Jamen. He was a young guy, former soccer player at Boston College and the brother of Team in Training teammate Ashley. Jamen died from lymphoma this Wednesday after a two-year battle. If it was possible for a sister to save a brother through sheer energy and devotion, than Jamen would still be around. After Ashley learned Jamen had lymphoma, she signed up to run the San Diego Marathon. Ashley raised enough money to finish third nationally, topping thousands of other fundraisers. (And ran a pretty good first marathon.) She returned for a second TNT season as a mentor. Jamen's initial treatment was successful and the disease went into remission, but it doubled back and finally got him. A great loss for the family. If nothing else, send along your best wishes and prayers.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations to cancer research.

Big Old Finish

Finished the first draft of my no-longer-short story - it is now almost 60 pages of horror-suspense novella, over 12k words. (Pay by the word, do they?)

Had lunch with Dutch yesterday. His TV camera work has been slowing down to nothing, similar to my animation writing. (Which I now consider a hobby.) We're like leaves drifting to the bottom of the forest, en route to becoming mulch.

But we're both writing along with no one telling us what to put down or how. If not financially satisfying, it's liberating.

Beautiful fall day today. Blue skies, bit of haze, great diffused lighting. "Eatable light," I say. It's that good.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Soul Long

My good friend Eileen passed away on Monday. I visited last week, but she was fast asleep, body winding down. I believe this was a blessing.

Tiny Men Arise!

One has come from Nepal to claim the title of World's Smallest Man. Who will stand up to him?

h/t: Daley Gator

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Oscar the Likable Ogre


Good friend Dutch has a story up at Ex Cathedra: The Second Doctrine about a small town's acceptance of an ogre who only eats unlikeable children. (Starts on p.61.)

Monday, October 12, 2009

So Long, Physical Therapy

This was my last day at therapy. Since July, I'd gotten to know the assistants: two of the girls enjoyed Vegas, the office gal was a former dancer, while the main therapist was a triathlete who competed regularly. He said my future lies in weight loss and reverse lunges. (Building up quads and glutes for future running.) Starting next week, I'll walk a mile 3x a week, going by feel. Perhaps in January, I'll venture running a mile or so.

Meanwhile, one of my short stories passed the first hurdle for a humor magazine. They're debating whether to include it in their upcoming December issue. That would be one down and nine to go on my sell-10-short stories-in-six-months plan. More info t/k when they say 'yes.'

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fast Mad Men

Here's a popular cable series for those short on time.

h/t: Landline TV

Chicago Marathon 2009

In 2007, the temperature was sultry. This year's Chicago Marathon saw the thermometer dip below 36 degrees with a stiff wind. Nevertheless, Kenyan Sammy Wanjiru set the course record at 2 hours, 5 minutes, and 41 seconds. Nothing slows these guys down. A fast Russian chick won the women's marathon, with American Deena Kastor, back from a broken foot, finishing sixth.

I hope they all had fine Italian beef sandwiches and deep dish pizza.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Go Rogers Park

My Rogers Park chums of forty-plus years are having a reunion today, celebrating everyone who is still around. Life no longer seems like a sure thing and I wish them the best.

Meanwhile, today at breakfast the waiter offered me a meal reserved only for seniors. I accepted, even though I'm a few years shy of the cut-off. As a teenager, I lied about my age to buy beer. Now I'm tacitly lying to get a cheaper breakfast. Maybe I should stop lying about my age? Alas, these cunning restaurants lay out senior menus that are nothing less than moral hazards. Born to be wild!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Double Down

Rewrite has expanded the story size. Once it was 25 pages, now it's 50, a shade over 10K words. But all is well as I try to finish by Sunday.

I'm getting carried away by this "pay-by-the-word" thing. Maybe it should be by the pound.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

What I Learned at the Dentist Office

1. My dentist knows all the songs on his office muzak and hums along.
2. His assistant just moved and doesn't have enough space to give the two boys their own rooms.
3. Female office staff refer to the building's basement as the "dungeon."
4. There is a leaking water pipe in the dungeon that is effecting phone service. Only a single line is operative.
5. The woman who handles billing loves animals and recently went to Las Vegas in order to see white tigers, lions, and a bird sanctuary that features rare species and video poker. (Just kidding about the rare species.)
6. The son of my dental hygienist has been offered a management position at Dreamworks Animation. (I asked her to guilt trip him into giving me work. Mom's are good at stuff like that.)
7. I'm really glad the government isn't in charge of my dental work.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Big Darn Rewrite

A new market opened, looking for material. I had a short-story that would be great, but it needed rewriting. Actually, not so much rewriting as additional stuff. So far, I've added 2,000 words of additional stuff turning a short story into a novelette. (Since this market pays by the word, that can't be all bad.) I'll probably spend next week polishing, then out it goes. Then another, then another. Writing, incidentally, is a great way to gain weight, giving new meaning to the phrase "pounding the keys."

Monday, September 28, 2009

Important PSA



















h/t: Moe Lane

Happy B-Day, Keeper!


A search engine, an email, some form of web crawler has informed me that it is Keeper's birthday today. Let the rag time ring out (as much as rag time can ring) to the man who plays upbeat piano and isn't afraid to sing like Elmer Fudd.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Torrid Riverside and a Lost YouTube Opportunity

Is Riverside County really that warm? I'll find out as we are scheduled to visit my cousin out that way this afternoon. With triple digit temperatures around home, they must be four or five digits out in the desert. In any case, I'm going. So that's settled.

I was hoping to post a fight video from last night, but the parties involved never got past the yelling stage. A guy cautioned a driver speeding down the street to slow up as there were kids playing. The driver didn't like being lectured. Harsh, non kid-friendly words were exchanged. But by the time I got my camera, the driver blinked first and drove off. Just as well. Still, I had excellent position for a great down angle shot.

There's plenty of high-drama in the neighborhood. Something active will occur soon.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Magazine Mania

Various magazines have been arriving lately: sample copies of publications I'd like to place a story in. What a wonderful excuse not to spend so much time online. Unfortunately, I'm still online. So are you. Well.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Dr. Lee Plays It Safe

Dr. Lee said no matter what I did, he wouldn't recommend running or walking for exercise anymore. This was his official, legal response. Then he acknowledged that someone in my condition might, in a month or so, cautiously begin testing his knee on a soft surface such as a local all-weather track.
Things to Do:
A. Lose weight - maybe 20 pounds.
B. Strengthen left glute and quad - weakness there contributed to the injury.
C. Learn to race walk/run with my foot landing under center - no more overstriding.
D. Once I begin, limit myself to three run/walks a week with cross-training in-between.
Dr. Lee and I parted with the understanding that I'd be guided by my body and would back-off or retire should there be any persistent pain.

A murky athletic future, to be sure. But if I do all the above and still have knee pain, I can release running secure in the knowledge I did my best. God bless marathon running. It arrived in my life at a time when I needed something. If it is departing now, I wish it well and hope the marathon lands with favor on someone new looking for a good test. Or sore feet. They'll get both.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Tough All Over


Report: Growing Ranks Of Nouveau Poor Facing Discrimination From Old Poor

Outline

Working on the Da Vinci Code satire; more accurately, the outline for the satire. Tedious work. I've gotta put my head down and finish a draft so my partner and I can work out the story. I want to hurry up, since Dan Brown's latest book is hot. But if you get the foundation wrong, the building collapses. Then your stuck in rubble trying to finish an outline.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Gym Dandy

Ran into my friend Ernesto at the gym today. We worked out on the ellipticals and talked History Channel for 40 minutes. I was telling him my big meeting with the doctor is next week. (My guy at the physical therapy clinic said he'd write me up a good progress report.) I'm thinking of telling the doc I don't want to run yet. Maybe just walk 3 miles, three times a week for a month and see how that goes. That'll help convince him I'm not gonna bust out my knee sprinting. I couldn't anyway. I'm the heaviest I've been in four years. I can barely sprint to the door for a Dominos pizza. But I got a haircut, so that helped. Plus I still have hair to cut, so that's encouraging. Good things everywhere.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Anamalia Emmy Celebration


Producers, actors and writers at Tom Ruegger's soiree for Chris Elves, Aussie Emmy winner for music composition on Anamalia. Based on an illustrated book by Graeme Base, this CGI series aired internationally from 2007 - 08 on BBC, Canadian Broadcasting Network, Network 10 in Australia, as well as Nickelodeon and Discovery Kids.

That's me kneeling in the foreground, flanked by Tom Ruegger and Deanna Oliver. Chris is behind us in black. He's the guy smiling and holding the gold statue. Standing to the left of Chris is anime voice over ace Kate Higgins who played Allegra the Alligator. Everyone got home safely.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Write Away

Busy working on outlines and short stories. The advantage of satirizing a popular book is that you don't have to worry about setting up things. Just fire away, though right now my partner is doing most of the firing.

I'm watching 300 on TNT and feel like working on my abs.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Dirty Old Thoughts on Writing

Bukowski may well have written this way. For all his boozing, the man was a word machine and really cranked it out. He never even kept copies of his early poems, just sending out the originals back when submissions were via snail mail. I've written stream-of-consciousness and I've written drunk. And I've written in large houses and small apartments with lots of money and none. I don't know how he did it without rewrites, though I suspect there may've been a few.

h/t: opchidexo
Nevertheless, as a challenge, I sat down yesterday and cranked out a story of 1492 words - about six pages - exploring facades and the importance of respecting them when you have little else. I let the words pour out, typing as fast as I could, with no side trips to the Web. I did read it over and rewrite small sections, mostly trimming unnecessary words. Then I sent it out to an anthology. The whole process took about five hours.

I haven't read it over today and I'm not going to. Let's see how this one sails. Alas, I learned how much I can get done if I don't procrastinate. And I'll explore that lesson some day.

Eight Years Ago...

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Booked Up

My friend Dutch and I met to outline our Dan Brown parody. We'll follow Da Vinci Code story elements, but the question remains: what are the shadowy organizations behind it all? So far we've auditioned PETA, the Kiwanis, the Knights of Columbus, and the National Hockey League. Nothing sticks just yet. But we're just warming up, swinging the bat around, getting a feel for the pine. This'll be good.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Physical Therapy Jam

Many people, few work-out stations. But I talked to my main guy and he said keeping building up the weaker muscles on my left side. I've been so down in the dumps - as well a heavy writing schedule - that I haven't been doing my "homework." Time to start again.

Meet tomorrow with my co-author on a book satirizing Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code. We need to hammer out an outline and complain about the state of American letters and how we might hasten its decline while making a few bucks.

Monday, September 07, 2009

A Year Ago Today

I injured my knee on an eighteen-mile run and have yet to resume the activity with any consistency. Now I know it was only a matter of time before that knee folded. Nevertheless, it's been a long, frustrating 365 days with lingering soreness from the operation and gnawing doubts that I'll run again. But there's no direction but forward.

Much writing, fleshing out on old story. When I finish this one, I'll double back and polish two shorter pieces, hopefully submitting them this week.

Happy Labor Day. Whatever you do, don't celebrate by working...or rioting as it disrupts barbecues.

h/t: Bolshevism

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Scandanavian Jazz

This is a Swedish family performing Dixieland jazz 25 years-ago. Dig the nine-year-old girl on slide trombone.

h/t: erwigfilms

Friday, September 04, 2009

Master Advice

Cranking out a rewrite on a story I wrote five years ago. Close-but-no-prize on getting it published, but I'd send it out, wait, get a rejection, forget about it, send it out again, get another rejection then start on another story and abandon all efforts in favor of the new shiny thing. Now I'm committed to selling this sucker. (Or getting it published for free - number two on my list but it opens so many more markets.)

Actually, I'm not rewriting so much as laying in elements to add tension and underscore the theme of destructive self-absortion - something that has gotten me everything I lack today. Not bad as writing goes, but tricky since I don't want to scuttle the old stuff that still works.

From a neat 5k, I suspect the new version will top out in the novelette range of 7500 words. This reduces my shot at free, online placements, but does leave me well-situated for the prestigious, ill-paying, anthology route.

Every story needs so much space to be told. I've got four sub-3k pieces that should place easier than a mini-whale like my current assignment. But I like this mini-whale. I think all it lacked before was a theme, change in perspective, and a higher body count. I believe it was Dickens who once said, "Good Heavens, if a story doesn't sell kill a character with a wasting disease. Kill several and make them good ones. Then beat a begger with a cane. But not in print. Do it for real and your problems will evaporate while his will increase exponentially."

I may not do all of that, but its good to know what the masters thought.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Occupational Hazard

Re-writes all day on a short-story, cutting out much, putting in more, and ending up with about the same word count. Sent out one story yesterday and the same story today to a different market.

But what is my job when compared to this:

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Sunsets, Stories, and Randy Beaman's Pal at War

Smoke turned sunset into a fiery red ball, peeking out from behind a grayish wall of cloud/smoke. I was in Saigon a few years back, one of the pollution capitals of Asia. Sunset was similar - a huge ball of red, like an immense corporate logo, filling the sky. It seemed to take forever to set. Nothing like particulate matter to give the sky a little variety.

I remember setting some writing goals a few weeks back, but missed them all. Instead, I've opted for Ten-in-Six. I dug out ten short stories and have given myself six months to publish all. That includes rewriting, having them read, polish, lining up at least three markets to start, and firing them off. I wrote out a plan and it's really kept me jumping the last few days - which is what I need instead of focusing on the lousy fire. (Which will be with us at least two more weeks.)

Talked with Deanna Oliver on Sunday. Son Colin is now on patrol in Afghanistan in one-hundred and thirty degree heat. His unit works with the Afghan Army, who are particularly keen at spotting IED (improvised explosive device) booby traps. Thick dust is a problem for men and weapons, along with staying hydrated. Colin made sure to call his mom and say: "Don't believe anything you hear on the media." In general, a good idea. All the best to Colin and his pals and may they return home safe.

Third World Auto Club Video

Don't leave the first world without them.


h/t: Friend Ken

Monday, August 31, 2009

Fire Photos

My friend Julie up in La Canada snapped these over the last few days. Her home is intact, but the neighborhood is now under mandatory evacuation. Julie and her family are safe.

The fire has quadrupled, feeding on 50 years of brush. Cell phone and media towers atop Mt. Wilson will probably be lost, affecting area communications. (Apparantly police and fire comm towers are elsewhere.) Two firemen have died. The smoke this morning was fog-like. More as matters unfold.















Sunday, August 30, 2009

Smoke plus Animalia Emmy

Whitish smokey haze everywhere as the wind shifts, pushing the fire down toward the foothill communities. Mt. Wilson and its many communication towers are threatened as the fire widens to the east and west. I heard from my former TNT coach who just moved out of town before the fire hit. Her old home is fine, but threatened as the flames are a half-mile away.

Local news here.

On a less combustible note, Animalia was a CGI show I worked on in 2006 - 07 with Tom Ruegger, Sherri Stoner, and Deanna Oliver. Now airing on PBS, the show's composer Chris Elves won an Emmy last night. Congratulations to Chris and his designated driver, who are probably just getting home now.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Fire Forces Home Evacuations

No word on my friend, but as of 7:00 PM Pacific, no homes had been lost yet in La Canada. Seven-hundred and fifty houses have been evacuated and shelters established at most of the surrounding area high schools. The fire is only 5% contained and spreading as reported here.

Fire Update

Checked on another La Canada friend. They have fire two doors down from their home. Luckily, a fire truck just arrived. Meanwhile, they're hosing down the roof and helping the neighbors do the same. Keep 'em in your prayers.

August Fire Photo

Had breakfast with my friend Ernesto at a coffee shop affording a good view of the mountains. Fire flared and helicopters stuttered back and forth, water dropping the blazing brush. Within sight of towering smoke clouds, life went on pretty much as usual while fire engines zoomed past, sirens wailing, heading off to work.

Evacuations have taken place in some neighborhoods. One of my old TNT coaches, Katie, lives up closer to the advancing fire. Hopefully, she and her family are doing Okay as temperatures locally remain in triple digits. (Photo shows fires burning above the Jet Propulsion Laboratories. Possibly they can computer model the heat before running.)

Meanwhile, I'm burning up the calculator, adding up a dozen years worth of home repairs to avoid capital gains tax. I'm glad we sold when we did.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Hot and Smokey

This refers to the air and not lunch, as I had a Chinese chicken salad with Troy over in Burbank. We discussed graphic novels, the state of TV animation - lousy - and the old National Lampoon, respository of some of the sharpest satire around (Onion notwithstanding). Then it was back out into the 100 degree, ash-filed air for some after-lunch coughing.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Remembrance of Checks Past

Twin fires burning in the Angeles National Forest gave this end of town an Icelandic look as smoke billowed over the mountains. I spent a hot afternoon in a storage facility, digging through twelve years of taxes, trying to find major repairs on our old house for us to deduct. (We always do taxes six months later. There's an important reason, but I can't recall)

In any case, it was fun and depressing to see how much money I once made. In 1999, I made a ton. In 2000, the year my contract lapsed at Warner Bros., I made another ton. In 2001, I made a half-ton, but had massive amounts saved. In '02 to '03, I was into ounces and burning through savings. Back in tonnage for '04 and early '05. From there through '06, a few pounds, growing a bit heavier in the first half of '07, then down to grams where it dwindles still. (Though my wife has worked consistently part-time for almost a year.)

An upside would be spending my mutual funds before the market crashed, thus getting full value. There were many things I enjoyed about our old home, but the constant siphoning off of cash wasn't one of them. (And the rats, rabbits, and deer. Bees have been discussed.)

Time to earn more dough, I think.