Saturday, October 30, 2010

What Price Loyalty?

When I'm writing, I either have the TV on or I listen to music. I need sound. I don't know why. I only know that complete silence makes me nuts. Anyway, when the TV is on, I catch bits and pieces of programs. The other day, some women were discussing infidelity. One said no matter how much she loved her husband, if he strayed even once, she'd have to end the marriage because she would never be able to trust him again.


I'm like that. Loyalty means a great deal to me, no matter what the nature of the relationship. When I was in college, my mother developed a friendship with a woman who was a tenant in one of our rental properties. I took an instant dislike to the woman, because I saw something in her that my very trusting mother did not. I've never been one to hide my feelings about anyone or anything, and this caused friction between Mom and me.


She was my mother, for crying out loud--how could she let this woman, this stranger, come between us? I felt betrayed.


When Mom found out I'd been right about her so-called friend, did I say "I told you so?" To quote Sarah Palin, YOU BETCHA! 


When a good friend and fellow author found herself in a serious financial bind, I didn't hesitate to give her the money she needed to save her home from foreclosure. I didn't even have to think it over. Why? In a word, loyalty. I knew, without a doubt, that if our positions had been reversed, she would have done the same for me. I knew she was a loyal friend, not by words--talk is indeed cheap--but by her actions. 


Not everyone places such a high regard on loyalty. Some who do come to take it for granted, abusing it rather than treating it as the precious gift that it is. Some eagerly welcome it but can't--won't-- reciprocate.


My pastor's wife once said I was great with animals but had a problem with people. She was joking, but I have to confess that it's true. Animals are capable of a degree a loyalty that few humans will ever understand.


Sad, isn't it?


Friday, October 29, 2010

The Joys of Wiretapping

If Homeland Security is going to monitor one's calls, why would they advertise it?


The pay phone at the Walgreens near my home bears a label indicating that the phone is tapped. I assumed this was some kind of gag, though I didn't examine the label too closely. I can't believe the feds would stick a label on a phone, letting everyone know they were monitoring the calls.


The potential for some serious fun here is endless. If the phone were really tapped. 


Imagine this: someone uses the phone to call someone else, a call that's been set up in advance. The conversation takes a decidedly raunchy tone, maybe even to the point of being X-rated. (I'd include the actual proposed text, but I doubt Blogspot would allow it to be posted.) Continue this faux conversation for at least half an hour, by which time anyone listening in should be pretty uncomfortable...or maybe not, now that I think about it....


At the end of the conversation, sign off and add, "Hey, boys--did you get all of that?"


Sorry...the temptation was just too great. 









Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Bates Motel

A friend of mine came up with a novel idea for her anniversary: she was going to treat her husband to a night at "the cheapest, tackiest motel" she could find.


"Are you going to go, too?" I asked. 


She responded with a look that told me she found my question completely tasteless, but she allowed me to go along on her search anyway. Finding what she was looking for was not as difficult as one might think. Y'see, our little community sits on a section of the Mother Road, the old Route 66. Back in the '50s, there were a large number of motels along the road, most of them catering to travelers just passing through on their way to Paradise (aka the West Coast). They fell into motel limbo when Interstate 44 opened just a couple of miles north of the old road. 


On our leg of the Mother Road, the grand dame of those tacky establishments was the Coral Courts--Art Deco in design, the rooms had garages in which to hide one's vehicle from view in case you were there with someone you SHOULDN'T have been there with. The stories of things that went on there live on today, long after the old lady was demolished to make way for a new residential development. Some of the lesser motels remain, and it was one of these my friend chose for her anniversary tryst. 


We went into the tiny, dark cave of an office to inquire about rates (surprisingly, they no longer rent by the hour). The owner appeared out of the back, a big, intimidating hulk of a man of few words. We dubbed him "Lurch." He gave her the rates and excused himself, indicating he would return. She gave me another of those looks, this time one that was sort of a mix of confusion and borderline terror.


"He went to get Bela Lugosi," I told her. 


For some reason, she took no comfort in that. But she did rent the room. Actually, it became a pretty popular place. I wonder if there's an untapped market for cheap, tacky motels? 


Even the allegedly classier brand-name hotels in our area have their share of characters and stories. There's one in particular--again, I can't name names, much as I'd like to. I had friends who worked there, so I got to hear all the juciest stories. Some of the employees lived on the property. The former general manager had kept a room there, where she, uh, how do I put this, bunked with the head maintenance guy. It was the worst-kept secret in the whole place. She didn't think anyone knew. EVERYBODY knew.


The owner also lived on the property for a time. His wife kicked him out, so he and the dog moved into the hotel. He would give the dog to the head of housekeeping every morning, and when I was around, Luis would give the dog to me. Oreo and I were buddies. One morning, I was in the breakfast room talking to Dana, who was in charge of the breakfast room, when this flying bundle of fur and tongue landed in my lap.


"Luis, I told you not to bring that dog in here," Dana yelled. (The health department was already giving them grief.)  Not sure why. The dog didn't offend the guests as much as some of the employees did. 


Some of the guys would take a room after a night of partying, rather than drive home. One morning, one of them called Dana to bring him his breakfast. "We don't have room service in this dump," she reminded him. "You want biscuits and gravy, you come and get it like everybody else."


She probably should have left well enough alone. He came down to breakfast--with a serious gas problem. One morning, Dana arrived and was parking her car when she spotted one of the live-in guys standing in his doorway, drink in hand, wearing only a robe--a robe that wasn't exactly secured, if you know what I mean. She panicked, wondering how many of the guests might have seen him.That's a tough image to get out of your head. Makes you want to claw your eyeballs out. 


He spoke no English, which got him into a few difficult spots when it came to the opposite sex. He took a fancy to two guests, women who turned out to be transvestites. One night, the front desk manager, Big Joe, saw Raul take the pair to his room and decided he couldn't let the poor boy be blindsided. He went to Raul's room and knocked. Raul came to the door. The two transvestites were sitting on the bed. Joe tried to find the right Spanish words to break it to him gently....


"Amigas...uh, no amigas."


Raul didn't get it. "No amigas?"


Joe shook his head. "No amigas. Amigos."


"Amigos?" It finally sank in, immediately followed by a horrified expression on poor Raul's face. "Amigos?"


The transvestites left...in a hurry.


Big Joe was a huge man who looked intimidating, but he kinda reminded me of the Pillsbury Doughboy. A real sweetie. He was the guy you wanted as a big brother. He would get the karaoke machine out when he was on the front desk, and nobody was safe. He could have been a great deejay--his talents were wasted behind the desk. The desk was near the pool, inside the inappropriately-named "fun dome." One day, I entered from the opposite side of the dome, but Joe spotted me right away and started calling attention to my entrance. 


Somebody please take that thing from him before he does any real damage.


One day, when he was dealing with problems created by the former GM's ineptitute, he took out a  small box and placed it on the desk. Inside was a front desk bell. A badly-mangled front desk bell. "What happened to it?" I asked, not sure where this was leading.


"She ticked off a guest."


"And he did THAT?"Joe nodded. "Another disgruntled guest threw a bell into the pool." Maybe they should have just thrown HER into the pool.


Then there was the night the restaurant next door put up a sign: Valet Parking $10--and proceeded to park their customers' cars on the hotels' lot, leaving angry hotel guests storming the front desk because they had no place to park. 


Joe and Dan never wanted to work nights--except when the Russian ballet was in town. The dancers spoke no English, but they didn't have do, as far as Joe and Dan were concerned. The girls liked to swim naked late at night. 'Nuff said. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ankle Monitor Mishap

Collin came in one night around 2 am. I was barely awake, but he wanted to tell me a funny story about a friend of a friend. Seems the guy was out of prison, but was still required to wear an ankle monitor. One night, he and his girlfriend were engaged in, uh, sex. Three a.m., and he gets a call from his parole officer. The GPS on the ankle monitor is going nuts, moving very fast. (You can guess why.)


It could have been worse. The police could have come to his door.


Anyway, I went to bed. Exhausted as I was, I expected to fall asleep immediately. But every time I thought of this, imagining this guy getting that call from his PO in the middle of, well....


I just started laughing hysterically.


You just can't get away with anything these days. 



Monday, October 25, 2010

Cops, Catsuits and Faux Fur

When we were in the process of moving, I told Collin about another move I'd made just out of college. A friend and I had an apartment that had been nothing but trouble from the get-go. An example of how bad this place was: one day, the toilet overflowed. In the kitchen, directly below the offending toilet, the ceiling began to bulge like a Jiffy Pop pan on a hot burner. I called maintenance. They sent a guy who walked into the kitchen, looked at the bulge--and punctured it. Toilet water, all over the kitchen.


We moved out almost immediately.


Fast forward a couple of weeks. My mother was assembling the merchandise for a big yard sale. Among the more interesting items were two catsuits, one red and one purple, and two faux fur coats, one brown and one purple. They were the ugliest things I'd ever seen--but my former roomie and I decided to try them on, promising to launder them before The Big Day.


"We look like a couple of cheap streetwalkers," she decided.


I disagreed. "I wouldn't be caught dead on the street in this crap."


It was at that moment that we remembered we had to get the few remaining items out of the old apartment to avoid having to pay any more rent. "There's no traffic," she said. "We should go now."


"Let me go change," I said.


"We don't need to change," she argued. "It's late, nobody's going to see us."


Famous last words.


At first, everything was fine. We arrived at the apartment, loaded everything into the trunk of her car, and headed for home. No traffic, no problem. Or so we thought.


Thump, thump.


"What was that?" I asked.


"Probably just a bump in the road," she said. (Actually, we were losing stuff from the overloaded trunk.)


I looked up. "Have you looked in the rear view mirror lately?"


There was a police car right behind us, lights flashing. "So what do we do?" she asked.  


"Pull over or try to outrun him," I suggested.


"There's no way this heap's gonna outrun him. I'd better pull over."


"Remember what I said about not being caught dead in this fashion disaster?" I asked.


"Yeah?"


"Dead would have been a whole lot less embarrassing."


We stopped in the parking lot of a service station, the police car right behind us. "I'm not getting out of this car," I said.


"We may not have a choice."


"You go see what he wants."


"Why me?"


"It's your car, idiot."


"Oh, yeah."


So, as my father was asking my mother where "Lucy and Ethel" had gone, Lucy and Ethel were getting busted.


"Ethel" got out of the car and went back to the police cruiser in her purple catsuit and fur. "You ever had a ticket?" the officer asked.


"No, sir."


"Well, you've got one now."


You'd think seeing her in that ridiculous getup would have prompted him to show just a little sympathy, wouldn't you? 



Sunday, October 17, 2010

Technology Takes Over the World

There was a story on the local news recently about a new high-tech device for restaurants that may make servers obsolete. It's a touch-screen table on which the customer can place their order. The food would still have to be delivered by a living, breathing server, but how long will it be before that job is taken over by a machine as well?


That whole Terminator scenario may be closer than we think.


Collin says as a server, his biggest gripe is customers who will complain, upon receiving their order, "This doesn't look like the picture on the menu."


Collin possesses the diplomatic skills necessary to be a good server. I would have said, "Well, it can't. You see, that dish was prepared by a professional chef. Our cook, on the other hand, just got out of rehab and he's still a little shaky."


This is why I couldn't cut it as a server when I was in college. I was guilty of many, many coffee burns long before anybody realized they could sue over that sort of thing. And they weren't accidents. They were warnings. My response to their screams was usually, "This time, I only burned your hand. Try that again and I'll aim a lot lower."


Maybe automated servers isn't such a bad idea after all.... 

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Adventures in Art Deco

A friend returned from a trip to Florida, and her husband, an excellent photographer, took some great photos of the Art Deco buildings in Miami Beach that brought back some fond memories.


I used to attend a writers conference in Miami every February. The last time I was there, five of us (four authors and my former editor, who'd just left Berkley at the time) went out to dinner. Judy drove--and parked ten blocks from the restaurant. I think there was some confusion over the restaurant's address. So, rather than risk not finding another parking space, we set off on foot. 


We hadn't gone far when it started to rain. It was a downpour. People were ducking under awnings and inside buildings to take refuge from the rain. We, however, were determined to press on--when I'm hungry, it's best to stay out of my way. We went into one building and talked the custodian out of five large garbage bags, into which we tore slits large enough for our faces, and off we went in our makeshift slickers! As we ran down the street, people stopped to stare at the strange characters in the trash bags. But that was nothing compared to the looks we got at the restaurant.


That was the same year I presented Damaris with an inflate-a-date. Actually, it was a life-size inflatable Chippendale dancer. I'd bought it just before I flew to Miami. During one trip to New York, she and I and another author had planned a girls' night out which was to include dinner at the Russian Tea Room, followed by an evening at Chippendales. Unfortunately, that was the one night of the week they were closed! So this was my way of making it up to her. Rather than blow him up (bad choice of words, I know) and buy him a seat on the plane, I sent him ahead via FedEx to my friend Sally, who said I could air him up there--there was supposed to be an air tank at the hotel to blow up balloons. Poor Sally was carrying the old boy through the hotel lobby when Leslie, another of my editors, stopped her."This isn't your style," Leslie decided. "Let me guess who he belongs to."


And she didn't need three guesses. My reputation had preceded me.Unfortunately, the air tank never arrived. I don't remember why. I only remember several of us trying to scrounge up a bicycle pump. Also a lost cause. I think we had Damaris worried. She couldn't figure out why we needed a bicycle pump for her mysterious gift. She ended up having to take the old boy back to New York in his box. I spoke to her on the phone the week after the conference. She was trying to blow him  up and couldn't find the stem. Apparently, it garnered her some funny looks from a colleague passing her office at the time.... 

Monday, October 11, 2010

If You're Not "Lost" You Soon Will Be....

William and I have an arrangement from our days at MySpace: when I get messages from men hitting on me, he chases them away, and when he gets the same from women, I get to deal with them. A couple of days ago, he found a love note from someone calling themselves "Kate Desmond" posted to his Writers Digest profile page. He turned her over to me. I sent the following e-mail message to her e-mail address:


Hello there, s***!

You're in the wrong place. I think you're looking for My Space. This is Writers Digest, not the Losers Dating Page.

Before you so blatantly hit on a guy, you might want to find out if he's available. William isn't. He showed me your pathetic little message and told me I could say whatever I wanted to you, so here it is: back off, you little tramp. 

And this is the response I just received....



My DAEREST ONE
firstly I am very sorry for my late response to Your Email,I thank you for your reaction to mine email; Enline with the message, which I have sent to you.How was your night over there in your country,i believe you had a nice night and that the arthmosphere over there in your country is very nice today? Mine is a little bit warm over here in Dakar Senegal.My name is kate Desmond i am (24) but age doesn't matter in a real relationship, so i am confortable with your age,I am from Rwanda in East Africa ,5.4ft tall, light in complexion single,(never married ) and presently i am residing here in Dakar as a result of the civil war that was fought  in my country some years ago.
My late father Dr Philip Desmond; was a politician and the managing director of a Gold & Mine Ind in Kigali (the capital of Rwanda) before the rebels attacked our house one early morning and killed my mother and my father in cold blood.It was only me that is alive now and I managed to make my way to a near by country Senegal where i am leaving now as a refugee under a Reverend-Pastor's care and i am using his computer to send these message to you.I would like to know more about you. Your likes and dislikes,PLAESE Do to not be offended for  this message that come;s from me please, fair which to me obliged to put simple trust on you due to my situation here as the refugee and I shall demand most your conscientiousness after yours to know about me, I shall really grow fond we to have good inspite attitudes therefore I have this as a trust which i belive that you can not betray it at the  end. I have communicated you because of  my difficaute situation here in this refugees camp;Its just like one staying in the prison and i hope by Gods grace i will come out here soon.
 
i don't have any relatives now whom i can go to all my relatives ran away in the middle of the war the only person i have now is  Rev- partric Devine,who is the pastor of the (CHRIST DE SAVIORMISSION) here in the camp he has been very nice to me since i came here but i am not living with him rather i am leaving in the women's hostel because the camp have two hostels one for men the other for women.
 
The Pastors Tel number is (+221 772538321 ) if you call tell him that you want to speak with me he will send for me in the hostel.As a refugee here i don't have any right or privilledge to any thing be it money or whatever because it is against the law of this country.My Dearest,please I want to go back to my studies because i only attended my first year before the traggic incident that lead to my being in this situation now took place.
 
Please listen to this(please it's a secret,even no one knows about it eccept the Reverend that knows about it),i have my late father's statement of account and death certificate here with me which i will send to you latter,because when he was alive he deposited some amount of money in a leading Foreign bank which he used my name as the next of kin,the amount in question is $6.7(Six Million Seven Hundred Thousand USDollars).So i will like you to help me transfer this money to your account and from it you can send some money for me to get my travelling documents and air ticket to come over to meet with you.I kept this secret to people in the camp here the only person that knows about it is the Reverend because he is like a father to me.So in the light of above i will like you to keep it to  yourself and don't tell it to anyone for i am afraid of loosing my life and the money if people gets to know about it.
 
Remember i am giving you all this information due to the trust i deposed on you.I like honest and understanding people,truthful and a man of vision,hardworking and GOD fearing people.My favourite language is english but our language is french but i speak english very fluently.Meanwhile i will like you to call me like i said i have alot to tell you Attached here is my picture.I will send you more in my next mail.Have a nice day and think about me.
Awaiting to hear from you soonest.
Yours in love,
Miss Kate




She looks pretty darn good for a refugee, doesn't she?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Duck Rustlers of Benton Park

Winter is coming. Far too soon for me. Every winter, we see the Canada geese down by River des Peres, huddled up on the ground, trying to stay warm. I always want to gather them all up and bring them home until the deep freeze is over.


But where would we put 100-plus Canada geese? And how would we clean up after them? Still, I worry about them.


Makes me think of a winter some years back. We used to go to Benton Park every day and feed the ducks there. The ducks--maybe twelve in all--knew us and came running whenever they saw us. They lived at the park and hung out on the ponds, but there was no shelter for them, so when the temp dropped well below zero, I felt I had to do something for them.


I made calls. The city, which owned the park, was not at all concerned. I called the Humane Society--and I am not by any means a fan of theirs. They also refused to do anything.


I decided I would do it myself.


I convinced my father to "donate" his tool shed for a worthy cause and conned my mother into helping me go get the ducks. 


It was late, almost midnight, when we reached the park. We were bundled up against the cold in several layers of clothing. The ducks were not so fortunate. They could only huddle against each other on the cold, hard ground near the frozen pond.


"They're going to poop all over my seats," Mom worried aloud.


"Your seats are vinyl, Mom," I reminded her. "It'll wash off."


"I can see us on the local news," she said. "Duck rustlers at Benton Park. Tape at ten."


"They don't care about these ducks," I said. "I tried to get them to take care of them."


"They're city property."


"What are they going to do?" I asked as we carried some of the ducks up to the car. "Arrest us?"


"Maybe."


I started to laugh. "Can't you see us being taken to lockup?"


"No," Mom groaned.


"That would be funny," I said. "I can imagine some big, hardened criminal asking, 'Hey, whaddya in for?' and us saying, 'Duck rustling.'"


"Yeah, that'll put us in a position of strength with the other inmates."


We were stopped then by the glare of a flashlight in our eyes. "What are you doing?" the police officer asked. 


"Saving ducks," I responded defiantly. 


He stepped forward for a closer look. "I should have know it was you," he said. "Nobody else would be crazy enough to come down here on a night like this to rescue a bunch of ducks."


"Are we busted?" I wanted to know.


He looked offended. "You have to be kidding. I'd be laughed out of the precinct."


"I know the feeling," Mom mumbled, picking up another duck.


The ducks thought it was a big deal. That was all that mattered. 

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Books For A Cause

For a while now, I’ve been trying to come up with a way to make my work serve a purpose beyond entertainment, and I believe I found it tonight.


Within the next month, Beishir Books will launch Books For A Cause on our Facebook page (and eventually on our own website). Each month, we will donate 100% of the profits to a different (and worthy) cause. The causes for 2010-2011 will include:


Epilepsy Therapy Project
American Heart Association
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International
Alzheimers Association
American Cancer Society
Down Syndrome Association of St. Louis
St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital
ALIVE (Alternatives to Living in Violent Environments)
ASPCA
The Alex Foundation
Save the Manatee Club
World Wildlife Fund
Nature Conservancy
Stray Rescue
PETA


Also, Collin will be producing brochures promoting works by new and promising writers as he prepares to re-launch Beishir Books to focus on book design and packaging for writers who elect to self-publish their books in print and /or e-book format.


I’ll be focusing on finishing the second book in the Chasing the Wind series, An Army of Angels, Same Time Tomorrow, written under my Scarlett Martin pseudonym with James Morgan, and the expanded edition of Final Hours.


2011 looks to be a busy year!





RIP Charlie the Tuna

How many of you remember Charlie the Tuna?


Poor Charlie, for the unenlightened, was consistently rejected by Star Kist in their animated TV ads. Charlie couldn't be the catch of the day if he was the only tuna in the net. When I was a kid, we used to get a kick out of Charlie's antics as he made one attempt after another to get accepted by the very picky folks at Star Kist. Why that stupid tuna wanted to be eaten, I'll never know.


In our house, there was lots of sympathy for Charlie--partly because of the rejection factor, partly because of the stupidity factor. Finally, Mom and I decided Charlie should get his wish. Dad was working outside one Saturday afternoon, and Mom was making lunch: tuna salad sandwiches. Dad had a quirk: he would always lift the bread and look at the contents of his sandwich before taking the first bite. Always, without fail. So Mom and I came up with an idea. I got a pair of Barbie sunglasses, very much like those worn by Charlie in the ads, and Mom put them in the middle of the tuna in Dad's sandwich. He didn't know it yet, but Dad was about to eat ol' Charlie.


"What if he doesn't pick up the bread this time?" I asked.


"He will," Mom answered confidently.


She put the plate on the table just as Dad came through the patio doors. He sat down, and sure enough, he lifted the bread from the top of his sandwich. He didn't miss a beat.


"I see Charlie finally got 'em to take him," he said, putting the sunglasses aside.


And that's how Charlie the Tuna finally got eaten.Don't believe me? Have you seen him on TV recently? 

Reality Check for Writers

I am not rich.


It always surprises me how many people believe all authors are rich. The reality is that maybe ten percent of all published authors are actually able to make a living at writing (I've been fortunate to be in this group), and maybe one percent can actually be considered wealthy. Most have other jobs, other careers. And few authors see any income beyond the advance check. 


The authors with whom the general public are most familiar are Stephen King, Dan Brown, Janet Evanovich, John Grisham, Danielle Steel and a handful of others--authors who are paid millions for multi-book contracts, get major advertising budgets to promote those books, and maybe even movie deals. They own homes in more than one state (or more than one country, in some cases).


Most writers get small advances, maybe a few thousand dollars. As this must be earned back before further royalties are paid, and publishers usually only pay 10-12%, you can imagine how many books have to sell before you can see any further income.


Since commercial publishers only promote their lead titles (the books at the top of their monthly list) most authors are left to promote their books themselves. And unless you're one of those lucky few whose books continue to sell long after the original publication date, your book will likely disappear from the stores in a matter of weeks, only to return at a later date on the remainder table. (And that's only the hardcovers. You don't want to know what happens to the paperbacks.)


My dad used to say that no one needed to be rich. I've had a lot of money and I've been broke. There was a time I wanted to be rich, but time and experience has taught me that father really did know best. Now, I prefer to be somewhere in the middle. Comfortable is what I want. Comfortable is good. 


I've had lead title status (actually, I was second on the list, always behind either Robin Cook or Dale Brown). And I've self-published. I've been told how to dress and unreasonably chastised when I gained a few pounds, and I've promoted my books online in the privacy of my own home. 


I wasn't quick to jump on the indie bandwagon. Of the seven deadly sins, pride is the one that's always given me the most trouble. In spite of the fact that self-pubbing, and e-books in particular, has gained so much ground in the past few years that more writers now choose this route, I knew some would still see it as my failure. (You all know who you are.)


Chasing the Wind was the turning point for me. After years of working with people in the industry who wanted the book but wanted changes that I was unwilling to make, Collin and I finally decided to self-pub. It wasn't an easy decision, but in the end, it was the right one. Once I managed to kick my ego to the curb, I found a freedom I'd never had before as a writer. I had learned enough from fourteen traditionally-published books to be able to edit myself. (If any of my former editors happen to be reading this, stop snickering!) I know how to promote books (though I was a bit lax in that area with the first two--too eager to get back to writing). There are no advances, but instead of 10-12% royalties, my e-books net me 70% royalties. Smashwords now pays 85%. I make more per copy on my e-books than I made on my commercially-published novels. 


And I have the most creative designer on the planet living under the same roof, so the new covers are truly exceptional.


Most of all, I have creative control. I write what I want. I don't worry that I'll work my butt off, only to be told it's not what my publisher wants. No deadlines. I don't wait years to see a book in print, and they're available to anyone who wants to read them as long as I want them to be available.


Ahh...here's to instant gratification.... 



Thursday, October 7, 2010

Bad Cop, Bad Cop

And then there was Bluebeard. 


That was not his real name, of course--it was his CB handle. He was the cop who lived across the street. He was notorious for his less than delicate handling of perps. (Does anyone remember that old TV series, Sledge Hammer? It was a sendup of the Dirty Harry movies, about a loose-cannon cop who had a big love affair with violence. He slept with his gun.) Well, Bluebeard didn't sleep with his gun. If he had, it would have gotten awfully crowded in there. As it was, his girlfriends had to take numbers. 


Too bad they didn't know it. 


He was a good guy to have as a friend, a louse if you wanted something more. 


He was always locking himself out of his house. He'd come racing through our kitchen when he got off duty, throw his gun on the kitchen table, and call out, "Gotta use your bathroom!" (In this neighborhood, if you left your door open, the flies didn't come in, the neighbors did.) 


He knew where Will's posse always hung out, and he'd tell me he was going to show up there in drag. "Think I look like a 44DD?" he asked one day. 


"You don't want me to tell you what you look like," I said. 


I was walking down the road one day, so he offered me a ride to wherever I was going. "Can't," I said. "My mother told me to never get in the car with strangers, and I don't know anybody stranger than you." 


He could be useful, however, especially to someone with a penchant for getting into trouble. (Who, me?) 


Again, this was during my wild years. I was with a friend one night at one of the local honky-tonks, when the local bullies (two huge redneck not-so-good-old-boys with room temperature IQs) went after a new guy who redefined the phrase "fish out of water." They had him out on the parking lot and were moving in for the kill. 


I hate bullies. 


Elaine and I got in the car and ran interference. "Get in!" she called out to New Guy. Not seeing any better options, he jumped in. We took off, with the White boys hot on our tail (these guys really hate to lose, especially when it comes to the Catch of the Day). We were moving pretty fast over the back roads, with them in hot pursuit. 


"Is everybody around here crazy?" New Guy asked. He was shaking like a bowl of Jello. 


"Yep. It's all that inbreeding," Elaine told him. 


"Even you two?" 


"We're the worst of the lot," I said. 


I don't think that was what he wanted to hear. For lack of a better way to rid ourselves of our pursuers, I got on the CB. "Hey, Bluebeard. Got your ears on?" 


"Ears, but no pants." 


"Don't need to hear about the pants there, Bluebeard. We have a 10-33 in progress." 


"A 10-33? Hey, Dandy Lion, a 10-33's a wreck." 


"Yep, it's about to be if you don't play Good Cop for once." 


"Whatcha need?" 


"We're headed your way with the White boys in pursuit and need you to run interference. We snatched their catch of the day, if you get my drift." 


He laughed. "You do like to live dangerously." 


"I don't like trouble, Bluebeard." 


"The heck you don't. It follows you around like a lovesick schoolboy." 


"ETA 10 minutes, buddy." 


"Leave it to me." 


"Why do I not feel reassured?" 


I wish the police had had dashboard cams back then. As he later related the events that had transpired, he was waiting at the entrance to our neighborhood. The street comes around in a semicircle to connect with the main road in two places. He pulled his (civilian) vehicle out into the main road as a roadblock. The White boys drove down into the neighborhood, planning, obviously, to come out on the other side. Bluebeard pulled up there to block their exit. Furious, the older brother, the anti-Einstein, jumped out of the car and ran up to deal with the guy who'd kept him from his prey--and found himself looking down the barrel of Bluebeard's gun. 
Too bad he didn't think to use the bathroom before he gave chase. 


I wish I hadn't missed THAT one.

Life As We Imagine It

Art often imitates life for those of us who write fiction. We borrow from our own experiences, sometimes from the experiences of others. We eavesdrop on conversations in public places. And sometimes, we deal with people and circumstances in our novels or short stories when we're unable to do so in real life.


In other words, the names are changed to protect the guilty. 


Even in my blogs, I will often change names to conceal friends' identities, if I feel I'm telling anything they might not want made public.


The late Jacqueline Susann, it has been said, worked with an editor for whom she harbored a deep resentment that surfaced in her novels. His surname, Preston, was used as either a surname or given name for more than one of her antagonists.


My very good friend William recently wrote an X-Men parody which has appeared in his blogs. In it, Wolverine refers to a character called Blaze McRob as a "horse's ass." The name, which was the user name of a guy with a major attitude problem, gets a lot of laughs. Most people think he's either a porn actor or a stripper. It was a perfect fit for William’s parody.


A couple of days ago, William received a message from a woman who has a rather complicated relationship with the horse's ass. She expressed her displeasure at what she saw as William's attempt to humiliate the guy. She was, she said, saddened by it. She was very condescending in tone, as if she were addressing a child who had misbehaved.


If the objective was to get William to remove the offending blog, it seems to have failed. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Land of Oz

I like Dr. Oz. 


He's grossed me out at times, dragging out those cadaver organs while I'm trying to eat lunch, but Guts on Parade aside, I find his show informative and, at times, fun.


Like today.


Today, the focus of the program was embarrassing issues. There was a woman who has orgasms in her sleep. Why she would have a problem with that, I'm not sure, unless she's frustrated at not being awake to enjoy them. And if she's having them in her sleep, how does she know she's having them, unless they wake her?


Even then, I wouldn't complain. The only organ that wakes me in the middle of the night is my bladder.


Another woman said when she sits for long periods of time, her vagina falls asleep, in the same way an arm or a leg will "fall asleep."


Now if it fell asleep during sex, that would be a problem....