Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy Early New Year!

Somewhere it is now 2017.
A few 2016 hours remain here on the West Coast, but I'm going to bed before the ball drops, as is my habit these days. All the best, party pleasantly, and we'll chat again next year. 

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Friday, December 23, 2016

A Pinky and the Brain, Freakazoid! Hallow Mass Christmas

Tumbir hosts a new blog breaking down every P&B episode. This fresh venture calls itself The Same Thing We Do Every Night, Pinky . . . and sets out to explore the tales of two laboratory mice whose genes have been spliced. 


All matters Freakazoid may be discussed over on Reddit, where thoughts, notions and observations about the Guy with Lightning in His Hair may be bandied about with like-minded folk. Stop by today for "a can of hash and some coffee."

Available Here, I Tell You.

Over on Amazon, reader cool breeze refers to my horror novel, Hallow Mass as a "weapons-grade satire of political correctness . . . " Thrills, chills, Lovecraftian horrors, and Boston traffic combine in this dark comedic updating of H.P. Lovecraft's "The Dunwich Horror." Now on sale through December.

And a Merry Christmas to many and a Happy Hanukkah to some!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Fictional World Building: 5 Do's and a Don't

Veronica Sicoe

Story Real Estate Needs a Solid Grounding

At first I thought Pinterest another time suck. I'm excellent at wasting time. I need no new shiny online trinkets to distract me from writing. But I may have been hasty.

As I'm world building for a sci-fi/fantasy YA book, I've delved into Pinterest much more, going so far as to build my own board.

There are ways to maximize your Pinterest boards, but I'm not there yet. Right now, I'm merely seeking images that serve as springboards for characters, scenes, and settings.

And speaking of settings, here are five sites loaded with world building do's:
  1. Reddit
  2. Writer's Digest
  3. Science Fiction Writer's of America
  4. terribleminds
  5. Victoria Strauss
And a large don't:

i09

Build well and wisely.

Speaking of worlds, enjoy a few pages of my Lovecraftian thriller set in and around devil-haunted Dunwich.

Now I must go move a car from one side of the street to the other. 

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Pearl Harbor Diamond Anniversary

History

Before 9/11 There Was 12/07

I don't want to say "Happy Anniversary" because it wasn't a very happy day 75 years ago. Over 2,000 American servicemen and civilians died during Japan's surprise attack on our Pearl Harbor naval and air facilities. If I may wax historical, two things really saved the U.S.:

A. Our aircraft carriers were out at sea.

B. The Japanese didn't bomb the Navy's fuel tanks because the smoke would obscure their bombing and torpedo runs on our battleships. 

Without aircraft carriers, it's likely there would've been no Coral Sea and the Japanese would have successfully invaded southern New Guinea and cut off all supplies to Australia.

Minus Hawaiian Island fuel, American warships would've needed to top off back in the continental United States and the Pacific War might've drug on long enough to get my father killed, hence eliminating my Dec. 7 blog posts decades before they began. 

Here's a sample post from 2007:



"A day of infamy," said President Franklin Roosevelt about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. (On a documentary, a surviving sailor recalled his reaction less poetically: "Holy smokes! Those are Japs! This is the real McCoy!") Reams have been written about what FDR knew and when he knew it. As the United States had broken the Japanese diplomatic code, there was speculation that the president deliberately withheld knowledge of impending attack from the military so as to use the bombing as an excuse to enter World War II.


Also check out:

Time and Mrs. Murphy from 2008

Not Everyone Mourned from 2009.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Famous People Born Dec. 5th



From December 5, 2011, I repost my birthday thoughts on fame and fortune. Since my last repost in 2014, what have I learned in two years? Age is a state of mind provided you're healthy, and it's cool being retired if your wife works a good job.

Note: My friend Randy reminded me that noted physicist Walter Heisenberg was also born on this day, but I'm not certain about that.






Thank you very much to all who have, so far, wished me Happy Birthday. In thinking of this day, I am reminded of several famous Americans who share my date of birth. I will list three and examine their accomplishments as compared to mine.

1. Martin Van Buren - b. Dec. 5, 1782

2. George Armstrong Custer - b. Dec. 5, 1839

3. Walt Disney - b. Dec. 5, 1901

4. John P. McCann - b. Dec. 5, 1952

1. Martin Van Buren succeeded greatly in becoming the 8th President of the United States but was hardly remembered even in his own day. He had a large bull frog stuffed and used as an ink well in the White House. However President Taft later sat on it by accident and they had to throw the thing out. That's about it.

2. George Armstrong Custer succeeded greatly as a soldier in the Civil War but had a mixed record fighting Indians. (1-1-2, I think.) He is best remembered for his  spectacular fail at the Battle of the  Little Big Horn. At first, everything was going well; then it all fell apart under an Indian tsunami. In later years, Custer had a park named after him as well as a monument and a movie where his part was played by Errol Flynn. That's a whole lot more than Van Buren ever got.

3. Walt Disney succeeded greatly in animation, a pioneer in the field, creator of iconic characters—but not the word 'iconic' which has been seized upon by junior execs.—established Disney studios and Disneyland and is fondly remembered to this day. Nonetheless his body is frozen in a vault beneath Disney's Burbank lot and should Walt be reanimated and start making decisions again it could effect his legacy.

4. John P. McCann was greatly successful as a Hollywood atmosphere player. McCann was the ship-board stand-in for a Canadian actor portraying Errol Flynn in My Wicked, Wicked Ways. In addition, he is visible catching Dennis Quaid's jacket at around 1:19 in a clip from  Great Balls of Fire.
More successful in animation, McCann created the non-iconic character of The Huntsman. For the next fifteen years, he piggy-backed onto as many successful shows as his friends would allow. While the record is still being written, outsiders agree that McCann will be remembered by Bank of America and several other creditors who might reasonably feel aggrieved should he pass from the scene within the next several months.

Images: whitehouse.gov, Parcbench, fold3

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Pacific Rim 2 Redux


They're big and they're hitting each other. I'm so happy!

Hunnam Out, Boyega In

Sure, I like kaiju. I've got a Pinterest board to prove it. But what I really enjoy are giant robots festooned with cool weapons battling kaiju with their own bio-weird-acid-stuff. But since Pacific Rim 2 won't be around until 2018, I'd best find something else to occupy my time. One activity might be reading about Pacific Rim 2, such as this nugget concerning the upcoming film's story:

"Reports suggest that Dr. Newton "newt" Geiszler and Dr. Herman Gottlieb will play an important role in the sequel, leading some fans to believe that Newt's experiences inside the minds of the Kaiju may have disturbed him psychologically, potentially turning him to the dark side."

Read more over at Movie Pilot.

Yog Sothoth Doesn't Respect Safe Spaces

Evil is not a social construct.

On the subject of reading, take advantage of a 41% Christmas discount on my horror novel, Hallow Mass. Discover what happens when the politically correct faculty of Arkham University clash with Lovecraftian monstrosities from another dimension. It's pc versus H.P. as a young grad student learns she must party less and study more if the world is not to be drug into another dimension.

Book Horde thought enough to promote Hallow Mass on this sunny California day.

Ebook version is only $2.99 through the holiday season. Kick the tires first and check out a free sample here.




Saturday, November 26, 2016

Outlining to a Cheshire Moon


the most beautiful thing
First light and a wet moon smiles down on me from the top of the sky. When "the 'horns' of the crescent moon point up at an angle, away from the horizon . . . the moon's crescent takes on the appearance of a bowl or a smile." So it's a pleasant AM to have insomnia and continue working on my sci-fi/ fantasy young adult novel. 

A word on my new method of outlining. On a blank Word screen, I wrote out 22 chapter headings. I choose the number at random as a starting point. With characters and a rough idea of where things are heading, I add stream-of-consciousness info to chapters.  For example: here is Chapter 10:

"Four days later. Panic stricken Lysander despite having half the Light Horse camped on the outskirts. A small party sent forward, including Boris, Tambara, the sub-commander from the relief of the Dressel watch tower, and a political operative in charge; a nice enough older man, but very dogmatic, urging him not to antagonize the Veen under any circumstances. And to translate exactly everything that he says.

Tambara forces her way into the treaty party. Hopes Boris isn’t mad at her for refusing to take the honorarium and letter down to Lambert and Holly. "

These info nuggets serve as mental markers. Often, I will experiment with different outcomes to each situation, listing two or three possibilities. Right now, I'm up to almost 30 pages of scenes, dialogue, back story, etc. When I finish, I'll sort through and see what manner of story I can whip up. Next comes:

Time line.
Map the world.
First Draft
Research
Second Draft
A lot more drafts.
Beta reads.
Polish.
Send out to publishing house.
Continue until a sale is made.

Who needs sleep?

(Note: Now the Cheshire Moon has retired from sight for the day.)
   

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Insomnia and Back Story

rense.com


Couldn't sleep, flipped and flopped; thought about the fantasy book I'm researching; had some great ideas for backstory; got up and wrote them all down, four pages, single-spaced. Now I'm considering going back to sleep. But I thought I'd post this rare triumph over my recent writing ennui. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Hodge Twins Weigh In on Election

Propose Emotional Cooling Off Period

Salty language and surreal-ending warning as my intermittent fasting mentors, the Hodge Twins, offer insights and commentary on Tuesday's U.S. presidential elections.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Happy Birthday, United States Marines!

241 Years Old Today


In 1775, at Tun Tavern in Philadelphia  Captain Sam Nicholas received his orders to recruit men for the Continental Marines, as they were then called.

 Capt. Samuel Nicholas
Now in their third century, the United States Marines continue to serve country and Corps with pride and distinction. (Today I recall one such Devil Dog, my friend Kurt, whose combat wounds led, in time, to his early death.) 

So on this November 10, a big old Semper Fi  to the men and women who wear the Eagle, Globe and Anchor. Accomplish the mission, be true to your unit, come home safe. 



  

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Writing Projects Over the Last Year


My mental state today.

Progress Sucks

Since completing the last draft of Hallow Mass on this date in 2015, I've meandered aimlessly through the fiction wastelands.

As I prepped Hallow Mass for a late April launch, I spent a few months assembling book videos. First for 50 Shades of Zane Grey, then Hallow Mass. Next I set up a nice YouTube channel.

Then I started writing a science fiction novel. Progress lasted until July. This was followed by an attempt to write and sell a tub of short stories. That fizzled also due to lack of author follow-through. (Save one short story still under consideration.)

Desperate, I briefly considered jumping into NaNoWriMo.

Where did the stinking year go?

I'll complete something soon, long or short. This I so declare.



Thursday, October 27, 2016

NaNoWriMo Top Ten Tip Round-Up


Fotosearch

National Novel Writing Month Looms

For you, I should say. Or, more specifically, fellow scribe Roger Eschbacher, who's giving it another go. NaNoWritMo's goal is simple: write a 50k word novel in the month of November. That's about 1,667 words or 7 pages a day, a daunting amount. You could win neat widgets for your website. More importantly, you'll join writers across the world as you stand on the threshold of Christmas with a completed first draft to clean up.
Clipartoons


Sure You Want to Write a Novel in 30 Days?

Well, you know your heart. So here, in no particular order, is an information trove pointing you in the write direction. (Bohohoho, you see, of course, the cleverness of my little pun.)

1. From last year over at Writer's Digest, behold 30 big NaNoWriMo pointers.

2. Not to be outdone this year, reedsy offers 38 tips.

3. Penguin Random House presents insights from their authors.

4. From the NaNoWriMo blog itself, here are three procrastination busters.

5. Writers in the Storm offers ten insights that might speed you on your way.

6. Tea with Tumnus has a few first-timer thoughts on the process.

7. If you're in a hurry, The Lexicon Writing Blog has three quick tips.

8. The Book Editor Show unveils six more nifty tips.

9. Eight additional tips pour in from Mother Nature Network.

10. Creative Indi also shows a fondness for tips numbering eight.

Here are several NaNoWriMo cool links and tools from BoHo Berry.

Picturesof.net
So there you have it. Plenty of info to plow through. Go, do, write your fingers into nubbins, fit for nothing but a keyboard and amusing children. Now is your time!


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Artist Fancies Giant Robots and Cavalry


Mechs and Poles Mix in 1920s Landscape

About two years ago, Vice interviewed Polish artist Jakub Rozalski about his evocative work. I only recently discovered Rozalski on Pinterest and found myself drawn to his surrealistic blend of high and low tech. Set in a time known as 1920+, Rozalski's world is based on the 1919-1921 conflict between emerging communist Russia and newly independent Poland. In Vice, Rozalski described his 1920+ series as:

". . .  based on the Polish-Soviet War, the Battle of Warsaw, and the harsh realities of the period. The Battle of Warsaw is considered by many historians to be one of the most important in the history of the world because it changed the fate of Europe and stopped the Russian Revolution [from moving west]." 


Fantasy Art with the Look of Classic Paintings

In CYSE Magazine, Rozalski described his work as the result of experimenting "with style and technique and, at the moment, I can say that this mix of impressionism and realism, in my own way, suits me the best. Through my work, I try to combine a classical painting style, modern design and interesting concepts."

A Slice of Post-War Dystopia in Scythe

The culmination of Rozalski's 1920+ world is the board game Scythe. A product of Stonemaier Games, Scythe is set in the rubble of smashed empires littering Eastern Europe at the end of World War I. The game allows each player to represent "a fallen leader attempting to restore their honor and lead their faction to power in Eastern Europe. Players conquer territory, enlist new recruits, reap resources, gain villagers, build structures, and activate monstrous mechs."

On his bucolic alternate universe dotted with looming, sinister mechs, Rozalski said, "I think there is also some longing for the world and life closer to nature, which has been aggressively taken by technology and civilization."

I enjoy Rozalski's combination of history and fantasy and look forward to his future endeavors. By the way, he also dabbles in werewolves.






Sunday, October 23, 2016

Lovecraft Halloween Fusion


Hot Horror Novel Features Fight Against Great Old Ones

Bookangel has me down in the lower right corner. 
My hot horror novel, if you must know. Over at Bookangel, Hallow Mass is being promoted to readers in the British Isles. Show our European cousins that you share their commitment to quality horror tales and snag your own copy of Mercy O'Connor's battles against demons, pc colleagues, her family and herself.  Here's a bit more from the book's extended description:


Fine reading for your Halloween pleasure. 


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Intermittent Fasting at 3 Months

Built lean.com

Slow Steady Weight Loss News

I skipped my two month update. In September, weight remained the same, but I lost another inch or so around the waist. Lots of exercise during that period, mostly Chi running and walking plus yoga.

Due to poor sleeping habits and a bit of a lingering cold, my exercise has dropped off sharply from the end of September through mid-October. Still, I now weigh 241 with a waist of 43." That's 25 pounds and 5.5 inches off the waist since the beginning of the year. 

(My intermittent fasting August post.)

(My first month update.)

I've included another Hodgetwins video. (Salty language warning.) They point out the importance of not being too overly focused on the scale, keeping an eye on calories (which I don't), and adding weight via exercise.

Unfinished Short Stories Remain Unfinished

Re. a previous post on the subject, I decided to take the advice of Coffee Addicts Unanimous and focus on physical activity as a way to stimulate the imagination. Since then, I have emptied out and/or shredded several boxes of old bills and tax receipts. Talk about mind numbing. I haven't solved any story problems, but I'm becoming motivated once more to tackle a story since most things are better than shredding documents. (Perhaps I missed my calling in government?)

Away, away, to various activities.

You do likewise.





Monday, October 10, 2016

Adrift in a Sea of Unfinished Stories

uncoverydiscoveryblog


Haven't finished a short story in over six weeks. Not even a first draft. Zip. I have no idea what I'm waiting for. Certainly not inspiration. Or the perfect metaphor. Or a really ironic Twilight Zone ending. I'm not even pushing the cursor around the screen, filling pages with swill that I'll edit later. Can't be fear. Whatever it is, I'm not producing.

Only a single short story remains under consideration with a magazine. Maybe I should switch to Flash Fiction until this malaise passes. "Death Honk" was fun, a thousand words, and still floating about online in Microliterature. I recall writing it very quickly. Could not other tales be written equally fast?

Back running and walking again, using my new chi running techniques. This morning, a friend called during my post-run stretch. I took the call and finished tasking my hamstrings, realizing that I'd become the person I swore I'd never be: one who combed physical activity and a phone call. At least this transformation took place in Griffith Park and not a gym, where those nearby would be hostages to my infernal chattiness.

Okay. Away. Keep it short.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Back From Seattle


The Mountain Was Out —Briefly

Mt. Rainer, that is. I saw said volcano on Saturday and Monday as I visited my sister and sundry cousins in central Washington. (Seattle is the closest major airport, hence its inclusion in the header.) A delightful visit, filled with much driving here and there in a rented hybrid Jeep.

Over the weekend, I participated in a chi running seminar, taught by Danny Dryer himself. The founder of chi running over a decade ago, Danny continues to simplify his methods so that they are easier to grasp. I hope to expand my walking and running using this method in order to avoid stress on my knee.

As said by Jason Nesmith: "Never give up, never surrender."



Monday, September 19, 2016

What Adam Carolla and I Did


Our Acme Comedy Sketches From Ancient Times

Adam Carolla Podcast listeners Dan and Chris alerted me to last Tuesday's show where Ace recalled a comedy sketch he and I performed back in 1990. (Typing that made me feel logey and in need of a nap.) Adam and I were charter members of the Acme Comedy Theatre and the sketch in question occurred during the company's very first show. This nostalgic bon mot falls between 6:20 and 19:00 of the Ariana Savalas and Dr. Bruce podcast. Listen as Adam relates how the LA Weekly Review of the production missed the mark in one key respect.

 Originally, Acme was started in 1989 in a small playhouse in Studio City owned by actor/writer Mark York. When Adam and I performed there, our company was called the Two Roads Players, then the Tujunga Group, and probably something else before founder and director M.D. Sweeney stopped letting actors vote on names and simply called us Acme.

I think my favorite unproduced sketch involved Adam, myself and Paul Rugg. We were overweight proprietors of a smorgasbord doing our own commercials under the name, The Lardells. Paul's wife Marie had a dance background and choreographed our portly moves. Somehow, it fell away, never to be see the light of stage.

A Tale of Two Outlooks

As a general note, Adam and I worked on a number of sketches together. But when it came to solo material, I'd have to give him the laugh laurels. My instincts tended toward witty, surreal sketches such as the one where an optometrist corrected people's third eyes and adjusted their apocalyptic visions. Such an offering would garner polite, knowing chuckles. Adam would then come on stage and perform a sketch about a guy who got his nuts caught in an escalator and bring down the house.

That's why he's the honcho of Carolla Digital and I'm retired.  


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Fifteen Years After 911

K called from Florida, "Planes crashed into the World Trade Center and one of the towers just fell." Unemployed in Los Angeles and half asleep at 7:30 AM, I shuffled downstairs to the TV, past Joy as she prepared for work. At first, all I saw was a dirty cloud obscuring southern Manhattan. Then a stunned announcer said the second tower had just collapsed. Joy joined me, work forgotten as we learned of the attack.

Other friends phoned throughout the day. Paul Rugg speculated about the pilots of the doomed aircraft, certain they weren't Americans forced to crash. TJ, a Vietnam vet, was incensed at the footage of jubilant Palestinians with their candy and AK-47s. He wished he could gift them with a nice buttering of napalm. In a grim mood, I agreed.

Watching TV and power-chewing Nicorette, I mostly felt numb — except when the subject was jumpers. Then I felt horror. Go to work, sip coffee, joke with your pals, then decide whether you'll suffocate, burn alive, or leap a quarter mile to certain death. Questions of etiquette arise: jump solo or hold hands with a co-worker? Perhaps several of you link arms and form a chain, finding courage in numbers. Or do you clutch a table cloth and step into the air, desperately hoping it slows your fall?



The journey takes ten seconds.


Air velocity rips away your shoes.


You explode on impact.


I will always be haunted by the jumpers of 9/11.


Oceans of paper were blasted from the towers, filling the New York sky like the Devil's ticker tape. Invoices and wedding invitations floated down to gray sidewalks.

My friend Cathy, who worked in D.C., reported chaos as the government sent everyone home at once following the Pentagon attack. One jammed intersection turned scary as a man leaped out of an SUV brandishing a pistol and attempting to direct traffic.

Being murdered is not a heroic act, though it can be. Flight 93 passengers fought back and died, saving many more in their sacrifice. North Tower Port Authority employees rescued over 70 people before perishing.


There were many heroes that day.

My sister Mary Pat and I had dinner at a coffee shop. She was passing through town, leaving a job in Mountain View, CA to return to Phoenix. Depressed by the day's events, our meal was not jolly.

Later, Joy tried to give blood, but the hospital was overwhelmed with donations and refused.

Vulnerability, grief, dismay, anger.

Such a beautiful morning with a sky so blue.

(Photos from: Little Green Footballs.)

Repost: Sept. 11, 2008

Update 2013: Strange to reread this. TJ died in 2009 and K passed away just over a year ago. My wife, Joy, and I are doing well, as is Paul Rugg who now rides the train

Update 2015: I had cancer surgery last year, but recovered. My wife is doing well and my sister battles her own health woes. I have not heard from my friend Cathy in a few years.  Paul Rugg continues riding the train in addition to being a voice over machine.

Update 2016: And now 15 years have passed. Heard from my friend Cathy, who continues to work for USAID. I noticed that nowhere in the entry do I mention Islamic terrorists. Islamic terrorists killed everyone in NYC, the Pentagon and Shanksville, PA. Whether armed with box cutters or bombs, they continue to kill innocent people from Thailand to Paris to Orlando, Fla. Their political-religious movement is worth fighting, as were Nazism, Japanese fascism, and communism. Even if our strategy and tactics are often hapless and misguided, the cause is just.

Friday, September 09, 2016

Happy 50th Star Trek!

Oh, My, as I Meet Mr. Sulu

(Originally posted on March 24, 2007.)

This morning, Nick and Ernesto joined me for a race in Griffith Park. (In 1995, I did a 5K there. That turned out to be my last 5K for eleven years.) Small field, very informal. I finished in 25:18. That's an 8:09 pace. Not what I wanted but slightly better than my 1995 time. And I smoked back then. I wonder how my running career might've gone if I'd eased off the Kents sooner.

At today's race, George Takei was Master of Ceremonies. A nice guy, he sat at a table and signed autographs for free. (Many celebs charge.) Naturally we lined up. Nick just turned 30. He had never seen Star Trek and that included the original series as well as the movies. He knew George Takei from the Howard Stern Show. Ernesto knew about George and Star Trek but dug him most from Howard Stern. I overheard a teacher in the line say her students only knew George as Kaito Nakamura on Heroes.

Well, he'll always be senior helmsman of the Starship Enterprise to me. I asked George to please inscribe my picture: "Live Long and Perspire." He laughed and did so, asking me about my running. (He was a marathoner himself, back in the day.) George finished up and I thanked him. As I left, he said, "live long and perspire."

God willing, I shall, and the same to you, Mr. Sulu.