Saturday, January 14, 2012


Bill Peschel's posts are always fascinating, loaded with trivia about famous people. He wrote a book called Writers Gone Wild (I bought 2 copies and gave one to a friend):

"If you’ve imagined famous writers to be desk-bound drudge, think again. Writers Gone Wild rips back the (book) covers and reveals the seamy underside of the writing life." 

I found that picture of Marilyn Monroe, by Eve Arnold, via a link in Peschel's sidebar. Click on the picture and you'll notice the book is "Ulysses," by James Joyce. Somehow I doubt Marilyn actually read the book. I lived in a college town when I was in high school, and I was always trying to impress the college boys with my brains. So, I would prominently carry some snobbish literary doorstop in public, something I'd never read, of course. Eventually, it occurred to me that college boys were not interested in girls' brains. I wonder how many men noticed the title of the book Marilyn's holding? I looked, but then I'm a woman.

But I digress...

In Peschel's latest post, he ponders Why successful writers are doing more than you (and me) :
"If you’re thinking about why you’re not a success, it’s because you’re thinking about why you’re not a success. 
In other words, self-reflective people, people who think about things, start farther behind the success curve as people who don’t think about such things."
I've never wondered why I'm not a 'successful' writer; I know why. I've written a few things, and I've actually sold two pieces. I was paid $125 for a guest op-ed in USA Today back in 1992, and I sold  a short story for $5In fact I write so little that I can hardly refer to myself as a 'writer.' But I love it when an idea clicks, because even though the writing can be stressful at times, there's nothing like a creative high. So, I began blogging again just to kick-start my brain and get those dusty synapses firing again.

But Peschel does have a point.

There's a great scene in the movie "Get Shorty" in which Chili Palmer (John Travolta) and Bo Catlett (Delroy Lindo) discuss writing a movie script.
CHILI: You know how to write one of these? 
BO CATLETT: There's nothin' to know. You have an idea, you write down what you wanna say. Then you get somebody to add in the commas and shit where they belong, if you aren't positive yourself. Maybe fix up the spelling where you have some tricky words . . . although I've seen scripts where I know words weren't spelled right and there was hardly any commas in it at all. So I don't think it's too important. Anyway, you come to the last page you write in 'Fade out' and that's the end, you're done. 
CHILI: That's all there is to it, huh? 
BO CATLETT: That's all.
Nothing "self-reflective" about Bo. Just write down what you wanna say. That's it. Y'gotta love the simplicity. I'm sure there are writers who can do exactly that: just write. I'm not that kind of writer. I think too much about details before I ever type one letter -- punctuation, back story, names, even script format sometimes -- and it trips me up every time. I don't know how to "just write." And lately the ideas have dried up. I'm hoping blogging will prime the pump.

Btw, I know the conventional wisdom is that Travolta re-energized his career with "Pulp Fiction," but I say it was doing Get Shorty. It's one of the funniest movies ever. And who can ever forget Dennis Farina: "I'm Ray Barboni from Miami"  “They say the fucking smog is the fucking reason you have such beautiful fucking sunsets.”

Friday, January 13, 2012


It doesn't look like much, but we had enough snow to put schools on a 2-hr. delay this morning. Then again, this was the first real amount of snow we've had this winter. It rained last night and then turned to snow, but not before icing everything in the process. So while town roads were okay, I can imagine that back roads were a mess. To make matters worse, it was snowing heavily early this morning. I took that picture at 1:00 P.M. -- just a little while ago -- after the road was plowed and salted.

We have enough snow to make this Infiniti Commercial "Snowball" 

> 5:00 P.M. IDIOTS ON PARADE... I sat in Little M's elementary school parking lot this afternoon observing the kids as they filed out and headed home. So many of them were inadequately dressed for the weather. It was a blustery 24* and snowing steadily, yet there were a number of kids whose jackets were open and flapping in the wind. Some didn't even wear jackets. Most of the kids wore no hats, and almost all wore no gloves or boots. There was a woman janitor who was talking on her cell phone as she was salting the walks. She was wearing sneakers, jeans and a thin t-shirt. None of these people lack the funds for winter clothing; they simply chose not to wear it. When I was a kid, even the poorest kids had winter clothing. No one thought it looked 'cool' to go outside without a winter coat. The kids these days are idiots.


Thursday, January 12, 2012


I've been reading "The King of Lies" by John Hart. I didn't take to the main character, a lawyer nicknamed Work, and not because he's a lawyer but because he made such stupid choices. He was full of angst, constantly lamenting over problems that would do Oprah proud. I wanted to b-slap him upside the head and yell, SNAP OUT OF IT! GROW A PAIR! Also, Hart likes to lard his story with unnecessary description and back story which slows the reader. However, when the story finally kicked into gear, it moved along at a decent clip. In fact, I rushed to finish the last third of the book last night, and I wasn't disappointed. I thought I knew who the murderer was and I was wrong, although I never care if I figure it out or not. Yesterday, I wrote what I didn't like about it; now I'll tell you what I did like.

I liked the body count. Most of the murder mysteries I read begin with one murder victim, and at some point, the bodies begin piling up. I figure the writer begins to kill off people in order to ratchet up suspense or confusion, or maybe just to fill up space. Unless the killer is a serial killer, piling up bodies is simply implausible, especially when the story takes place in a small town or country setting. Seriously, when does that ever happen? Certainly not in the village where I live. Great characters can overcome high body counts. Still, too many bodies can easily spoil a good story. "The King of Lies" has one murder victim. Just one.

The ending was believable. In fact, the entire story was believable. Some people may not buy Work's decision concerning his inheritance, but I did.

For all the complaints I had yesterday about the main character -- "He drinks to oblivion and then acts, he cheats on his wife, and he's spineless." --  Work eventually redeemed himself.


In other news...

iPhone ringer stops symphonyDuring the last movement of the monumental and emotional 82-minute work, an iPhone ringtone went off in the front row. “It simply didn’t stop,” a gobsmacked concert attendee told Page Six.

> OH. MY. GOSH. Say it ain't so! Maker of Twinkies, Wonder Bread files for bankruptcy

> You can always visit the beach with Southampton's Coopers Beach live stream video webcam


Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Have you ever read a book and didn't like the main character? That's the problem I'm having with The King of Lies by John Hart. Jackson Workman Pickens, known as "Work," is a lawyer who makes idiotic choices. He drinks to oblivion and then acts, he cheats on his wife, and he's spineless.

As an adult, he didn't stand up to his bastard of a father to help protect his sister and their mother. One night the father backhands the mother, knocking her down a flight of stairs, killing her in the process. The father disappears the same night and turns up murdered eighteen months later.

What does Work do? Well, he didn't man up when needed. Not that I blame him for his father's actions. His despicable father clearly killed the mother, whether "accidentally" or not. But Work could have stood up to his father and done something to help protect his emotionally battered sister and mother, and he didn't. Then the father extracts Work's co-operation:
"It was an accident, boy. You see that, don't you, son?"
I looked into his eyes, saw for the first time that he needed me, and felt myself nod; it was an irrevocable step." 
Good boy," he said. 
Then the ground fell away and I tumbled into the deep well of self-loathing. 
I have yet to find its bottom.
When the father's body was discovered with two bullets in his head, leaving a $40 million estate, the police naturally want to speak with all concerned. So what does Work, the lawyer, do? He once again drinks to oblivion, uses his long-suffering girlfriend for comfort, and misses one appointment after another with Detective Mills. When Work finally meets with Det. Mills, he lies.

I get the impression John Hart wants me to sympathize with Work, but I don't. I can't, because the character, as written, is an idiot. In fact, I find Hart's ploy insulting.

And while I'm at it, I've got one more criticism, and it's a biggie. The sex scenes are not only gratuitous, they're horrible. To be fair, most writers simply cannot write sex scenes. Hart obviously relishes writing about sex. One scene involves the rape of a teenage girl. Hart went into unnecessary details, larding the passage with far too much description, so much so that I skipped over half of it. I could almost picture Hart salivating over his keyboard. So far, the only writer who has a talent for writing about sex (in my opinion) is Janet Evanovich in her Stephanie Plum books. The scenes are pithy and fit the narrative, and they leave enough to the imagination to tingle my expectations without delving into syrupy, sloppy passages. (I've read the first ten books, or so, in the series.)

If the story was a dud, I would have ditched "The King of Lies" long before now. I'm about a third of the way into the book, and the story is finally picking up. I want to find out what happens. It's a shame that Work is such a spineless, unlikable character. So far, the only character I do like is Det. Mills.

"A STRIKING NEW TALENT"?  Yes, I'd agree John Hart does have talent.

"READS LIKE A BOOK ON FIRE"?  Not quite. The sloppy sections extinguish any flames.



In other news...

Man wears ‘crack jacket’ to court:  A man accused of drug trafficking showed up for court Friday in Fort Lauderdale sporting a jacket that bore a cartoon-style recipe for cooking crack cocaine.

Greece Bank Run Shows No Sign Of Stopping: Deposit OutflowsContinue In November: The year is not over yet, and already Greece's banks have lost €36.7 billion of their deposit base in 2011, and a whopping €64.6 billion since the beginning of 2010, which is down from €233 billion to €173 billion in under two years.