Wednesday, March 31, 2004

The Debut of My P.I. Fiction: "Forgive Me Not"

It is with great pleasure that I announce my first P.I. story, "Forgive Me Not," in the webpages of SDO Detective. Read it and let me know what you think.

My thanks again to Mark Anthony Brennan and the Sintrigue Dot Org staff; to Font friends Christine Boylan, Regan Bullers, Andrew Carbone, Deshant Paul, John Ricotta, and Matt Tedesco; to teacher friends Chuck Anderson, Julia Fierro, Joe Paretta, and Simon van Booy; to editor friends J. Michael Blue, Victoria Esposito-Shea, and Kevin Burton Smith; to net friends Ray Banks, Jack Bludis, Aldo Calcagno, Jan Long, Graham Powell, Andi Shechter, Dale Stoyer, Sarah Weinman, David White, and Jim Winter; to Alan and Dan Toth; to my brother and my mom.

There goes my hardboiled cred, but read the story anyway, huh?

Monday, March 29, 2004

Shorts Too Short?

On one of my mailing lists, someone (preserving the person's anonymity) claimed not to read short stories "because they're too short." Everyone has opinions, and though I had the urge to ask, "What do you mean?" I could tell the person's mind was made up, and to ask would open a can of worms.

Short story writers have traditionally received less notice than novelists. I admit part of me won't think I've "made it" until I write a novel, but I value short stories for their economy, for the challenge of delivering character, location, and premise in limited space. I've heard that it takes more skill to write a short story than it does a novel. I wouldn't go that far, but why wouldn't readers want to treat themselves to a bracing workout of the story elements mentioned above?

Shorts can remind us why we read (and write) fiction in the first place.

"There Can Be Only One."

Today is Christopher Lambert's 47th birthday. The HIGHLANDER saga has always filled me with questions: Why is a Frenchman playing a Scot? Why is unwaveringly Scottish Sean Connery playing a character named Juan Sanchez Villa Lobos Ramirez?

Despite these questions and the movies' cheese factor, I'm glad HIGHLANDER got a second life on syndicated TV. Adrian Paul grew into the role of Duncan MacLeod, Connor's clansman, but the best aspects of the show for me were guest Immortals Amanda (Elizabeth Gracen), Reagan Cole (Sandra Hess), and Methos (Peter Wingfield), and guest love interest Dr. Anne Lindsey (Lisa Howard).

I liked the latest Highlander movie, in which Connor merged into Duncan so their combined skill and knowledge could defeat the latest ultimate baddie. Apparently neither Lambert nor Paul have any interest in reprising their roles, but a fifth Highlander movie--THE SOURCE--has been announced with Peter Wingfield cast.

Friday, March 26, 2004

It's a Gut-Watchin' Day

Some friends and I from the glorious first days of Font had dinner last night at Virgil's BBQ in Times Square to celebrate one guy's impending fatherhood, another guy's role in launching Cargo, the new buyers' guide for men; one gal's budding success at scriptwriting, and another (absent) one's acceptance to grad school at the University of Minnesota.

My biggest news was two stories of mine coming to e-zines near you. I'll keep you blog readers in suspense a while longer if I may. The night was capped by my future-dad friend saying, "So are you writing anything new or just honing old stuff?"

Way to keep me grounded, kemosabe. These guys have known me too long.

Oh, what did I have to eat? Barbecue nachos, biscuits and gravy, two skewers of jumbo barbecue shrimp, french fries, cornbread, cheese grits, and raspberry peach cobbler. Yum-yum.

Most of the time, I'm a barrel-chested 5'8", 165. Once or twice a week, I lift weights and box. I walk a mile a day, and might do so later. Right now, I'm happily watching my gut.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Finger-Lickin' Good

From the idiosyncratic mind of Sarah Weinman, another quirky quiz. Which completely random person am I?:

You are Juan Moreno!!

Which Completely Random Person Are You!!
brought to you by Quizilla

This is more or less accurate.

I've been cheated,
been mistreated,
when will I be loved?

World's Most Irritating Phrase

From The Plain English Campaign, an organization dedicated to linguistic clarity, especially in public documents:

At the end of the day... we're fed up with clichés.

Plain English supporters around the world have voted "At the end of the day" as the most irritating phrase in the language.

Second place in the vote was shared by "At this moment in time" and the constant use of "like" as if it were a form of punctuation. "With all due respect" came fourth.

The Campaign surveyed its 5000 supporters in more than 70 countries as part of the build-up to its 25th anniversary. The independent pressure group was launched on 26 July 1979.

Spokesman John Lister said over-used phrases were a barrier to communication. "When readers or listeners come across these tired expressions, they start tuning out and completely miss the message - assuming there is one! Using these terms in daily business is about professional as wearing a novelty tie or having a wacky ringtone on your phone.

"George Orwell's advice from 1946 is still worth following: 'Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.'"

The following terms also received multiple nominations:

* 24/7
* absolutely
* address the issue
* around (in place of "about")
* awesome
* ballpark figure
* basically
* basis ("on a weekly basis" in place of "weekly" and so on)
* bear with me
* between a rock and a hard place
* blue sky (thinking)
* boggles the mind
* bottom line
* crack troops
* diamond geezer
* epicentre (used incorrectly)
* glass half full (or half empty)
* going forward
* I hear what you're saying..
* in terms of...
* it's not rocket science
* literally
* move the goal-posts
* ongoing
* prioritise
* pushing the envelope
* singing from the same hymn sheet
* the fact of the matter is
* thinking outside the box
* to be honest/to be honest with you/to be perfectly honest
* touch base
* up to (in place of "about")
* value-added (in general use)

My personal Frightful Phrase of the Year award goes to "Back in the day."

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

The Ongoing Bond Battle

From IMdb, Pierce Brosnan appears to be taking a stand for greater depth in the Bond films, accusing the Broccoli family of wanting to top themselves in terms of spectacle with each film:

Brosnan Blasts Bond Bosses

Pierce Brosnan has hit out at the makers of James Bond following the uncertainty over his future in the 007 spy film series - accusing them of being "scared". Brosnan has been willing to appear in a fifth Bond movie, which is scheduled to begin filming this autumn - but plans have been thrown into doubt because scriptwriters are apparently struggling to come up with a plot. However, with the 50-year-old's four-movie contract at an end, Brosnan has hit out at legendary producers the Broccoli family for wanting to make the massively popular film series less about plot, and more about action. He rallies, "They're too scared. They feel they have to top themselves in a genre which is just spectacle and a huge bang for your buck. But I think you can have your cake and eat it. You can have real character work, a character storyline and a thriller aspect and all kinds of quips, asides, the explosions and the women. We're just saturated with too many overblown action films with no plot." Brosnan is particularly angry that the producers want to use the title of Ian Fleming's first Bond book, Casino Royale, but not the storyline. He rants, "That's ludicrous. It's so damn crazy! That's absolutely sheer lunacy because Casino Royale is the blueprint of the Bond character. You find out more about James Bond in that book than in any of the other books." The Irishman is now philosophical about whether he will ever portray the suave British spy again, saying, "I would love to do a fifth Bond and then bow out, but if this last one is to be my last, then so be it. My contract is up. They can do it or not."

I'm all for character and plot, but on balance they've been missing from Bond movies for a long time. Even in the Connery days, it was Connery who brought on most concern for the character. I think scriptwriters are struggling because Fleming isn't around anymore. Latest Bond author Raymond Benson's books have all the bells, whistles, and bits of trivia, but no soul. Somewhere along the line Bond became a product people thought they could mix and match--Wild Cherry Bond, White Chocolate Bond--and reproduce with a formula. I think not.

Monday, March 22, 2004

"Space...the final frontier."

Star Trek icon William Shatner turns 73 today:

"I'm gonna need all the power you can muster, mister."

"I'm from Iowa. I only work in outer space."

"Where's that damn torpedo?!"




"I think he did a little too much LDS."

"I don't like to lose."

"Ay, Doctor Who?"

Also from IMdb, the baddest man on the planet Gallifrey is back:

Eccleston Is New Dr. Who

Classically trained British actor Christopher Eccleston has been confirmed as Dr. Who for the eagerly awaited new TV series. The 28 Days Later star will be the ninth Dr Who in the cult British show - beating off competition from transvestite comedian Eddie Izzard, Gosford Park actor Richard E Grant and TV favorite Alan Davies, to appear in the first series in 15 tears. Jane Tranter, head of BBC drama, says, "We have chosen one of Britain's finest actors. It signals our intention to take Dr. Who into the 21st century as well as retaining its core, traditional values to be surprising, edgy and eccentric." Filming is due to start in Wales later this spring with the first series airing early next year.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

To Book or Not Book

Blogger Friend Ray Banks joins Jim Winter in the ranks of those with book deals. Ray's deal is with Wit's End; Jim's deal is with Quiet Storm. Congrats again, guys.

A novel is still a twinkle in my eye. For now, I'm content to write poetry and short stories. A chapbook of either would be fine. I have miles to go before I sleep.

Friday, March 19, 2004

The Evil Gerald

The Evil Gerald is actually a satirical Irish news site, ala The Onion. Enjoy.

I do have a nasty side. Thank my heavy bag and workout schedule you've never seen it.

More Superhero Movie Buzz

From IMdb:

Gyllenhaal for 'Green Hornet'

Jake Gyllenhaal is favorite to take the lead role in new movie The Green Hornet, after the Donnie Darko star held talks with director Kevin Smith. The 23-year-old is wanted by Smith to portray the comic book superhero, known as mild mannered newspaper publisher Britt Reid when he's not fighting crime. The Green Hornet was made into a TV series in the sixties, which famously starred kung-fu legend Bruce Lee.

Thursday, March 18, 2004


I've retitled "Did Jimmy Olsen..." to the above after the story's rejection from Pindeldyboz yesterday. This story remains important to me, and I hope to make it important to someone else. My next victim, uh, market is the Berkeley Fiction Review.

"And how does that make you feel?"

Today is a birthday for one of my undergrad mentors, Psychologist Chris Eckhardt. Chris was a PhD candidate in Psychology and I was a second-semester freshman when I took his course on IQ and Emotion. On the first day of class, he gave us sixty pages of reading, and said, "This is doable if you don't get distracted by Seinfeld or a ballgame."

Not only did I learn discipline in his class, I also learned how to remain cool as an academic. My curiosity about Psychology became actual knowledge, and that summer I sought out the Spenser books and actually knew what Susan was talking about (back when her dialogue was important).

I went on to minor in Psychology and it has enriched my writing and my outlook. Perhaps the most important lesson was that an open mind, a flexible mind, will recognize the most and interpret the best.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

A Round for the Irish

I have no blood ties I know of, but I did attend St. Brigid's for most of grade school, where I had a crush on an Irish girl and where the uniform consisted of a yellow shirt, green slacks, and a green plaid tie. For high school, I attended St. Mary's. Our teams were called the Gaels, Irish warriors. My father and I listened to Irish comedy and song on A-Tracks and later Hofstra's Irish song program on Saturdays.

I've enjoyed a handful of Irish writers, including James Joyce, W.B. Yeats, William Trevor, Gregory Mcdonald, Robert B. Parker, Jeremiah Healy, and Dennis Lehane.

I tip my cap to performers Brian Dennehy, Jerry O'Connell, Danica McKellar, Deborah Gibson, The Corrs, Pierce Brosnan, Liam Neeson, Jenny McCarthy, Julie McCollough, Shannen Doherty, Colm Meaney, and Kate Mulgrew.

Bitten by the Bug

The particular bug in this case is the revision bug. Not the entirely good brand of revision, but the nitpicky, jittery kind, taking a big chunk of yesterday. As mentioned in my previous entry, I submitted a mainstream piece Monday. Not long ago, I thought the story my best. Now--I don't know why--I no longer think so.

Admittedly, the story is the closest to real life I've written, and I've had trouble shaping its events into fiction. There's a roundness to fiction that doesn't have to apply to life. Fiction is held together by reason and expectation. Life happens any way it can.

The last rejection I received made me consider revising the story from first- to third-person. After a read-through, I decided third-person wouldn't work. It's a question of fine tuning distance while staying in first-person. And it's turning out to be tough.

Monday, March 15, 2004

"Did Jimmy Olsen Ever Wonder?"

I just submitted my above-titled story (the misadventure of three college friends left carless in Astoria, Queens overnight) to Pindeldyboz. Blogger Friend Sarah Weinman's story, "The Heckler" appeared there, and I was encouraged by the following definitions found on the site:

Pin´del•dy•boz (Pin' dl dë bôz), n.
1. A feeling of confusion and/or anxiety,
when ingeniously anesthetized by obese amounts of levity.
2. A situation of confusion and/or anxiety,
when tampered with in the same manner as above.

They seemed to fit my story to a tee. We'll see. Whenever I submit, I have the urge to sing The Scorpions' "Rock Me Like a Hurricane."

Here I am...

Saturday, March 13, 2004

"Reflections of...Dana Delany."

Dana Delany, who gained recognition as Army nurse Colleen McMurphy on "China Beach," turns 48 today. I first became a fan of Delany when she played Cynthia Farrell, a lawyer who clashed with Thomas Magnum over a movie plagiarized from one of Robin Masters's books.

She went on to voice Lois Lane in the WB "Superman" and "Justice League" cartoons, and was most recently in the cancelled 2002 series "Presidio Med."

Two Reasons to Love Sports

Injured Detroit Red Wings goalie Dominik Hasek has refused to accept his $3 million salary since Feb. 9. Hasek's groin injury will force him to miss the rest of the NHL season, so he feels he hasn't earned the money.

This reminds me of an anecdote Tom Selleck told about Tigers outfielder Al Kaline. After a poor season, in his opinion, Kaline was offered a salary comparable to Mickey Mantle. Kaline refused, feeling his stats that year hadn't earned the money.

P.I. Fiction Progress Report

Within a week of deciding to revise my first P.I. story, I've submitted it to SDO Detective. Amazing to go from thinking the story should scram to liking it again.

In the previous drafts, my P.I. was a Laker fan living in the '90s, just after Magic Johnson gave way to Nick Van Exel. As time went on, I soured on the players and didn't think my P.I. could root them, either. So, I tried keeping the story in the mid-90s, with the Lakers still playing out of the Great Western Forum. On top of the period details was the challenge of writing about a place I only remembered from a visit now seventeen years old.

The P.I. had a cop buddy, a wife he loved...all the ingredients for stasis. Last Sunday, I threw out that dynamic and started almost from scratch. Today, I took my shot.

Thanks again to Dave White and Jim Winter--test readers in my P.I. experiment--and to Sarah Weinman, Dale Stoyer, Ray Banks, and Graham Powell--who encouraged me on this blog.

Friday, March 12, 2004

TV Trilemma

So, three programs I want to watch tonight, all at 9pm: On CBS, the 200th episode of "JAG" in which the cast imagines what their lives would be like had they made different choices; on FOX, Tim Minear's mid-season series "Wonderfalls"; and on USA, a new detective show from producer Bruce Willis, "Touching Evil."

I really need a TiVo.

Lethal Weapon 5: Enough Already

From IMdb:

Gibson Eyes 'Lethal Weapon 5'

Hollywood heavyweight Mel Gibson is in talks to make a fifth Lethal Weapon film. THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST filmmaker is reportedly in talks with director Richard Donner, who is desperate for him to reprise his role as renegade cop Martin Riggs. However, there is no word on weather Gibson's co-star Danny Glover will be required to reprise his supporting role as detective Roger Murtaugh. The last Lethal Weapon film - which starred Rene Russo as Gibson's love interest - was released in 1998.

Personally, I hated seeing Riggs get repeatedly beat up in Lethal 4. It reminded me of Dennis Lehane's Patrick Kenzie, whose ego wrote checks his body couldn't cash. (Thank you, TOP GUN.)

Agent 99

"Get Smart"'s Agent 99, Barbara Feldon turns 72 today. I remember her as the sidekick who could be sweet, sexy, or both at the drop of a hat. I saw her recently on "Wayne Brady," and she's going strong. Right on.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Bale's Wardrobe Malfunctions

From IMdb:

Bale's Batman Blues

BATMAN BEGINS star Christian Bale was left red-faced on the upcoming superhero movie's set last week - when he couldn't fit into his costume. The Captain Corelli's Mandolin hunk is currently in Iceland filming the fifth installment of the comic book franchise under the guidance of Memento director Christopher Nolan. But poor Christian had to suffer the indignity of the costume problems on his first day as Gotham City's crime fighting bat. A set insider explains, "The trouble is the suit is so tight, it takes three people to squeeze Christian into it. He ripped one suit then finally managed to get into another with the help of more than a few squirts of talcum powder."

This brings to mind those famous words: "With the blast shield down, I can't even see. How'm I supposed to fight?"

Note: BATMAN BEGINS is the new title for BATMAN: INTIMIDATION.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

The Return of My P.I. Fiction

Around 4 o'clock this morning,
yes, without any warning,
came an oh-so-steady tapping,
a darn persistent rapping
on the old cerebral core,
and I found myself revising,
yes, even so devising
an update on a story
many mags had seen before,
one I could not doubt was calling,
calling out to me once more.

This is my way of saying I was inspired to revise my P.I. story rejected from Hardluck and Shred of Evidence. I have no ambition for a series. I just want to get this right one time.

Cue "Eye of the Tiger."

Saturday, March 06, 2004

FedEx Rhymes with...

I needed to express a reply to some papers that arrived in today's mail. Hurriedly following the cover letter's instructions, I dialed what I thought was FedEx's 1-800 main line, looking for drop-off locations near me. A recording of a woman came on, thanking me for choosing Pilgrim Telecommunications. This was followed by a recorded ad which asked, "Feeling horny?" I hung up faster than you can say, "Golly," but will probably be charged a ridiculous amount anyway.

I corrected my dial and another automated voice gave me three locations not particularly near me.

Yep, forgot all about, where I eventually found the ruttin' locations. Irony of ironies.

For Video Gamers, Two Words...

If you're an original gamer like me, two words oughta make your heart dance with joy as on the first day of summer vacation: Ninja Gaiden--the fabled fighting/quest game for the NES and still IMO the best ninja game ever made--has come to the XBox.

In general I'm against remakes and updates, but Ninja Gaiden is one of those games everyone knows had better be done right. My excitement isn't even lessened by the fact I don't have an XBox.

Ten more games that elicit glee:

Yie-Ar Kung Fu
Ms. Pac-Man
Spy Hunter
Food Fight
Double Dragon
Elevator Action

Thursday, March 04, 2004

"I Represent Queens..."

I received a letter yesterday from my graduate alma mater, Queens College, announcing a new undergraduate literary magazine and asking for donations, natch. In my case, they've come to the right person. QC was a great experience for me, and from my undergrad years at Hofstra, I know how difficult and rewarding it is to launch a magazine. The check is in the mail.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Where in the World is My P.I. Fiction?

After some delay, the Winter 2004 issue of Hardluck Stories Zine is out. I submitted a story--more precisely a revision of a story I wrote shortly after catching up to the Spenser series in 1993--that was rejected. I have no problem seeing from the editor's perspective being an editor myself. My story frankly should have been rejected. What I am feeling, though, is a more personal kind of failure. The story missed a mark I set for myself, and I'm wondering (again) if I'll be published in the genre I most enjoy reading.

On another level, I feel very limited by the P.I. genre. Some people have the knack for it, and those people I applaud. I've begun to wonder whether I as a writer fit in the genre. Am I better off following a road less taken?

Currently I decide what to write from whatever floods my imagination. Maybe I'm not dissatisfied enough with existing P.I. fiction to believe I need to write my own. As I posted the other day, I don't feel I've taken my best swing at crime/P.I. fiction. Time will tell if that's in the offing:

So when he'd finished speakin', he turned back towards the window,
Crushed out his cigarette and faded off to sleep.
And somewhere in the darkness the gambler, he broke even.
But in his final words I found an ace that I could keep.

You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table.
There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

"Who are you? No one of consequence."

Take a look at today's tag quote at the top of the page: "Ducky, Gerald and Kate..."

This is a description for tonight's episode of "NCIS." The Gerald in question is M.E.'s Assistant Gerald Jackson, played by Pancho Demmings. I occasionally use quotes from the show because it's not often I hear about other Geralds. There's Gerald Ford, Gerald McRaney, Dominique's brother Gerald Wilkins, former Yankee Gerald Williams. I met a cashier at Border's named Gerald. Who else?

Somehow when I introduce myself, my name doesn't stay with people. I've been mistaken for Gerard, Edward, Gary, Daryll, Roger, Richard, Jerome, Joseph, and once at Panera, Herald. I'm never short of character names, I'll say that.

The origin of the name Gerald is Teutonic, meaning "bold spearsman." Since I didn't throw the javelin in high school, maybe my spear is a pen. Works for me.

Monday, March 01, 2004

MYSTIC Takes Best and Supporting Actor; Theron Best Actress

Sean Penn and Tim Robbins won Oscars for MYSTIC RIVER. I point this out for the selfish reason that it will probably bolster interest in adaptating crime fiction to the screen. I don't feel I've taken my best swing at crime fiction yet, nor am I bold enough to dream of a movie deal. Regardless, I'll always be a fan of crime movies.

Charlize Theron won Best Actress for the Aileen Wuornos biopic MONSTER. I'm fast becoming a fan of Theron as a professional and a person. She's up for any challenge.