Ok, pulled the curtain back on the documentary project I was approached to appear in the other day and promised more announcements, so here’s another bit o’ news. I mentioned during the summer that I’d gotten a gig doing some web work. Well, the fruits of my labor, along with a lot of other talented people, can now be seen by clicking the link below:
Cool, huh? That’s the new entertainment site I’ve been working on as Managing Editor. Been having a lot of fun, meeting interesting people, some really good writers, and makin’ some coin. If you like the arts, Rawckus.com covers it all. Music, dance, theatre, performance art – if it’s art? We’re on it. And, if not? Drop us a line. We’ll get someone on it.
Let Terry (the head honcho) know what’cha think, and feel free to copy any comments to my blog here, I’d love to hear ’em however you wanna get ’em to us. Content’ll be updated regularly, so add us to your Bookmarks or Favorites or whatever they’re called these days. A Luddite like me can’t be expected to keep up.
Currently listening to: “I Go Crazy by Flesh” for Lulu
… with some cool news. Hinted at it a while back, but no need to be secretive any longer. A few months ago, an indie filmmaker from Europe contacted me about being in a documentary he was working on. He had a mishap which nearly cost him his sight and hearing, which got him thinking about what he would have done had things gone differently for him. Here’s the first clip, (Pam says it came out looking sharp). Not sure how much I’ll figure into the finished project, but felt great to be featured like this for my work. Take a look and let me know what you think. Plus, I’m not about to stop you from sharing the link on Facebook or posting it on Twitter if you so desire. Enjoy, and hope you had a great New Year with a fantastic 2016 stretching out before you!:
My Mom loves movies. She’s got Netflix – both streaming and the DVD-in-the-mail service. My sis adds flicks to her list every week in bulk. Big fan and watcher.
I’ve been trying to get her to come to the movies with Pam and I since my Dad passed away in 2012. No go. Always an excuse. Always something coming up. Even when we tried to get her to see SPY with us, with Jason Statham – one of her favorite actors? Nope, wasn’t happening. Back in October, my nephews mentioned to me when she wasn’t in the room: “We should really get Nanny to go to the movies with us. She’d have a good time.” And so, a plot began to hatch. I told the kids, “Start looking up what’s coming out. Find something you can both see, with lots of stuff exploding and bad guys getting their asses kicked.” My Mom loves action flicks. Things like Taken and such. So, the kids started digging.
Fast forward. 2 weeks before Thanksgiving. Since my Mom isn’t a Star Wars fan, that didn’t leave a whole lot. But the kids did have an idea. CREED. They had seen some of the Rocky movies (the good ones, let’s put it that way) and knew the story. The first trailers looked pretty good. And so it was decided. We’d wait until a week after opening, lie to my Mom to get her out of the house with us all, and we’d go.
Almost immediately, on Sundays when the CREED commercial came on during football, I’d rip it. I told my Mom it was gonna be worse than Rocky 5. That the trailer sounded like crap. She disagreed. She said it looked pretty good. The story sounded all right, etc. She admitted, with the boys present, that she’d watch it when it came on Netflix.
Hook. Line. Sinker.
This past Saturday, we told my Mom the nephews needed to go shopping. I’d already primed the pump by inviting my Mom to come shopping with Pam and I, as Christmas is fast approaching, and the idea that the boys would come and buy stuff for my sister in secret got her jazzed. One of the ‘gifts’ we were going for? A Regal gift card. So we hauled up to Bell Towers, got her into the theatre, Pam snuck off to go get me the audio description headphones, CJ and I went to the concession counter, and James dragged my Mom down the hallway – clueless.
That’s my nephews, for you. Takin’ one for the team. I was actually worried Mom would refuse to see it even though we were already there, but she saw it was too late to back out then, and so we settled in. My spoiler-free review? If you like the franchise, see this one. It’s fun. It’s a lot like the first two. It’s worth paying for. I’m glad my nephews didn’t mind getting used like government mules to get Mom into the theater. My only concern is.
How do we pull this off next time?
Currently listening to: Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, S.O.B.
On Twitter & FB, I’ve avoided labeling the Paris attackers thus far, b/c I’m willing to let the French investigate and get some hard intel. But I’ll use this for now:
<<witnesses described militants shouting “God is great” in Arabic before opening fire.>>
That’s the N.Y. Times, nine hours ago, feeling confident enough to run that, knowing what it would suggest. As well, we have confirmation from French authorities that 7 of 8 dead “extremists” involved were ‘suicide bombers’. And…we kinda know where that tactic points. Or, was pointing, prior to Francois Hollande’s statement saying ISIS is to blame, and ISIS themselves (or ISIL, or IS, whatever they’re calling themselves this week) taking responsibility.
For me, here’s what it comes down to. If it pans out that these were muslim extremists, can we all, finally, admit we are at war with at least part of Islam? I know, it’s not every muslim. I’m w/everyone who keeps bringing that up. I used to have really cool muslim neighbors. They stood w/us in the street, crying after 9/11. I think Muhammad Ali is a pretty good guy. And so on. So how about this. Let’s draw a distinction between people like Muhammad Ali and “radical extremist muslims/groups” and go to war with them? Isn’t that fair? If people are really going to “unite” as French President Hollande has called for, how about uniting behind policies that make simple designations, such as: Muslim? Cool. All good. Muslim who calls for Jihad or participates in beheadings? Instant extermination.
I could get behind that, couldn’t you?
My fear, of course, is that handwringer politicians who are driven by polls and maintaining their status in the approval-rating popularity contest, don’t want to be labeled as “religious bigots” or “anti-muslim” or anything that won’t look good when seen on the news.
Are current officeholders in any nation (especially the U.S)., currently strong enough to start ignoring rhetoric and engage this war with part of Islam in order to stop the bad guys from not just overtaking our countries, but overtaking the muslim good guys as well? Me? I’m not holdin’ my breath.
Folks, if civilization is a well-constructed home, with many rooms for many different people, with thousands of interlocking parts that fit together, even if some are misaligned in places? These radicals/extremists/
In all of history, can you think of a time when it was ever, “all of them”? I mean, with WWII, it wasn’t all Germans, it was the Nazis. So yeah, I get it. It isn’t all muslims. But…I’m tired of hearing that. It’s definitely part of Islam, and that part is growing, spreading, and these sorts of things continue to happen. Since we know that to be the truth, my desire is to see politicians—I don’t care what party they belong to—grow some (figurative) balls, and start fighting that war. We didn’t have to kill every German in order to defeat the Nazis. But we had to fight those Nazis hard, for a long time, and viciously, to beat them. And, they killed millions. They were bent on exterminating an entire religion, plus those they considered ‘undesirable’. ISIS/these religious extremists? Not so different. I hate making comparisons where tragedy is concerned, but yesterday, “only” 153 died. A jumbo jet crash usually kills more. Someone on FB or Twitter—can’t remember at the moment, things were happening so fast—who claimed to be from France said: This is our 9/11!
Is it? Perhaps. But part of me is reluctant to believe the French, or Europe in general, will see it that way. I think that for it to be treated like 9/11, the Eiffel Tower would need to be reduced to rubble. I believe that as mind-boggling as the death toll is for the French right now, twenty times the number dead and ten times the damage would be required. And, that isn’t just so that the numbers would more closely match, please don’t think that. I have this feeling, however, that it would take something to make this type of attack seem like the attack on Charlie Hebdo to actually jolt Europe into actively, determinedly, engaging in a war with (part of) Islam. And that’s sad. It shouldn’t. The attack on Charlie Hebdo alone should have been enough. That outrage should have triggered the words Hollande delivered yesterday, about retribution being “merciless”.
So, knowing action won’t be immediat, I’ll give him some time. Rushing never results in the best results. But I’ll expect serious action in the new year, that’s for damn sure. I’ll expect French troops being deployed to go after ISIS, wherever they may be. That’s merciless. That’s determined. That’s the kind of action it’s going to take in order to keep civilization—and peaceful muslims—from being overrun, consumed, and destroyed. Sure hope whoever’s in charge in France next is up for that. And in Britain. And Germany. And especially here.
But again…not holdin’ my breath.
Well, maybe not. How’s this: Got usable blood? If so, and I’ve talked about this before, you may be able to help out someone who really, really needs it. Trust me, now that I’ve done it several times, I can tell you you will not miss it. 1 pint. Or, maybe just plasma. Or, platelets.
I went to the OneBlood center in Ft. Myers yesterday expecting to donate platelets. I have a high platelet count, and platelets are needed by cancer patients and people with all sorts of hideous diseases I don’t wanna bring you down mentioning – but my Dad had one of ’em, and when he needed it? Blood was there because of people who donated. I was told when I was diagnosed as a diabetic in the early 1980s, that I couldn’t donate. Earlier this year, though, I found out that had changed, and so I started.
This time? I’m not gonna lie. It didn’t work out. The vein that was being drawn on was working great for takin’ the red stuff out, but not so good for the return. (When donating platelets, they take out your blood, it goes through a machine, they separate the platelets, and give you back the rest.) Well, after nearly a pint had come out and some started going back into my arm-unfortunately not into that vein-they had to stop. Leaving me quite disappointed.
However, not a total loss. They did get some platelets out of me. Good. They got a bunch of plasma. Bonus. They hadda keep what they couldn’t put back, so bottom line? Just about all of that pint is gonna get used. I Periscoped the session. The replay fell off (I now have Katch.me), but here’s the feed I uploaded to YouTube:
And I’m sure I made enough crude comments to make it worth a drop-in. So, since I was out of the game with about 50 of 71 mins to spare, and I won’t be able to donate my scheduled pint on the blood bus Halloween week, Pam decided we were ther, why wait ’til the 28th? (She, too, Periscoped, and while I managed a few good comments on hers, trolls who kept asking her to show her boobs and other girl parts) kept interrupting. You can check out
Anyway, getting back to what’s important. A lot of people can donate. Something like 5% of eligible donors actually do, though. Would I have done this 20 years ago if I’d known I could? Yeah, I would have. But knowing that when it really counted – when my Dad needed it – it was there? That certainly added to my desire to chip in. If you can, my bet is any bus you stop at would love to have you, and who knows? Maybe you’ll get a gift certificate out of it to a restaurant. Maybe a movie ticket (and heck, with the price of movie tickets these days? How can you go wrong?) Maybe you’ll get a tee shirt, like the one pictured here.
But you’ll also get this: You’ll know that somewhere, someone in bad shape – maybe a kid with leukemia, maybe a transplant patient, maybe a cop shot in the line of duty – is gonna be on the receiving end of your gift. And I can’t think of anything better than that.
Currently listening to: “The Calling” by Death in June
I’m referring, of course, to the Halloween festivities. And, while there’s no such thing as ‘too early’ when it comes to the spooky stuff, even I wouldn’t start carving jack-o-lanterns at Eastertime.
We hold our Halloween party the 2nd Saturday of October because that’s Bike Night, which means our friends in bands are usually off, our guests who aren’t into motorcycles are usually free, and the crew we have who don’t like it downtown when it’s that crowded all have good reason to come over…and to come hungry.
This time around, we did two new things. The first, was a ramen stromboli casserole. A while back, I blogged about a woman on YouTube who has the single greatest ramen video ever, entitled something like: How to feed 7 people on $3.35. (Watch it. It’s phenomenal.) Anyway, I saw the vid, and eventually, got Pam to try making it. Result? It was awesome. So, we’ve now introduced it to my sis & BiL, my nephews, and my Mom. They all love this thing. Recently, I told Pam I wanted to try doing a stromboli version, adding pepperoni and sausage to what’s usually just ramen, cheese & chicken. The thing went over huge. People ate almost an entire 3 quart crock pot worth and leftovers were scarce. Pam Periscoped the whole thing, so if you wanna try it out, check out the video.
My contribution this time around was dessert. In the past, we’ve done skeleton cakes, cake pops, cookies, etc. This time out, though, I wanted to do cake ball jack-o-lanterns, and make a little mini pumpkin graveyard. As you can see from the pic, they don’t make candy black triangles and smiles, but we did all right with the googly eyes and Pam did the one I really wanted, the one at the base of my vulture tree, with an icing pen. That, too, went over great, and Pam’ll be posting the recipe and How To… shortly.
Five pounds of meatballs in a combination marinara, chili sauce & grape jelly sauce. Killer. 3.5 lbs of chopped meat, seasoning, and melted cheese to put into tortillas or on Scoops. Yum. Tortilla rolls with ranch filling. A spinach dip and onion dip for homemade bread and a loaf of exceptionally fresh wheat mountain bread. Oh, and of course, plenty of beer and spirits (ha-ha) to keep the party going ’til around 5:30am. My drink original for this go-’round? A peanut butter & chocolate yogurt colada. As is often the case, the initial response to people I offered it to was: “What? You can’t mix that!” But of course, I did. And of course, people tried it. And…you guessed it—people loved it.
We had seven people crash out and stay the night this time, our largest group yet. By 5 pm on Sunday, though, the house was empty…barely.
And, for one of our parties? That’s the kinda success we like to brag about.
“I was going to get back on that story, but I got so caught up in my workout that I just called it a night. I’ll get back to it tomorrow.”
“Duh! Went online and got stuck in a debate about Freddie Gray/Post Malone/all these Hollywood remakes/insert your personal waste-of-time here.”
“Did you see that episode of House of Cards/Game of Thrones/Orange is the New Black?! I just couldn’t stop watching!”
Crap. All of it, crap. But you already knew it. Let’s face it–you just didn’t, or still don’t, want to admit it.
So you’re a writer. You’ve got a new project you’re working on. Maybe it’s a novel. Maybe a screenplay. Maybe just a short story. And, you started it, and, you got going great guns, and, and.
And, you hit the wall. Maybe just for a night. Maybe it’s been a couple. But the bottom line is, you went off the rails, and you haven’t gotten back on track yet. Know why? Yeah, you probably do, you’re just uncomfortable about it. You got scared, that’s all. You got spooked for whatever reason and now you’re looking for excuses to explain your lack of progress. Truth is, you didn’t get stuck talking about whatever was trending on Twitter or Facebook, that’s just a convenient out. You don’t give a rat’s ass about Post Malone and most of you probably hadn’t heard of him until last night. You might’ve gotten caught up in an episode of somethingorother, sure. But.it’s the 21st century. You have NetFlix. Or a DVR. Or OnDemand. You didn’t have to abandon that idea that had you banging away at the keyboard until all hours just a few nights ago.
So what? Who cares if you didn’t know for sure where you wanted to take it. You jumped into the tale and got wrapped up in it and then, when words weren’t flowing like pot smoke at a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert, you hit the brakes. You. just. s-t-o-p-p-e-d.
Welcome to the club. Who hasn’t? You think King never tossed in the towel for a couple of nights when the Red Sox got into the playoffs and there was hope up in New England for a change? You think Dean Koontz never said, “Screw it,” and took off for a couple of days just to take a break? Wake up-this is writing. This isn’t Lucille Ball in I Love Lucy trying to stuff unwrapped chocolates down her shirt and into her hat and down her throat because it was success at that rate or failure, no in-between. Take it easy.
Good news is, there is a solution.
Take the night on. Put away the TV remote, give your stairmaster a break, pull the cord out of your router and just start going at it again. If it sucks? Who cares? You’ll know it soon enough. That’s part of the game. If you don’t know where you’re going, sit back with a hot chocolate or a cup of coffee and outline some possibilities. Just start thinking about the story again, that counts as progress. What brought you to the spot you reached before you ran aground will come back and want to play some more. That’s also part of the game. Don’t like where it takes you? No big deal. Unless you’re under contract, no one can force you to keep anything you write. That, my friends, is up to you. You’re 100% in control. Key thing is, though, being willing to lose control again and again and again at the keyboard to keep pushing forward. We all do this. I don’t know a single writer who doesn’t hit the skids once in a while. Pros get back at it right away, though. They know better than to let one day turn into three, then a week, and so on. If you haven’t been published, and keep letting things like uncertainty over where your story is going keep bogging you down? You’ll never be a pro. In fact, you’ll probably never be published. So, here’s advice from someone who isn’t King or Barker or J.K. Rowling, just a guy who’s been getting paid for the better part of 30 years, so I have some insight. Just clear the decks. No TV, no internet, no distractions. Just you and the keyboard and the expectation that you’re going to get somewhere. That tonight, your idea is going to wake up and come looking for you again, and you’ll be there to answer the door. Just believe that something is going to come of the session, good, bad or indifferent. That’s the only way to get to the end, folks, and reaching the end is the only way you’re going to know if you struck gold, or if you need to get back into the mines.
Put your helmet on, and make sure the batteries are fully charged. Happy writing.
* * * * * * * * * *
Currently listening to: “True Faith” by New Order
I saw a guy on Twitter the other night call someone a racist for – get this – criticizing Bill Cosby, saying, basically, that he (Cosby) should be in prison. What bugged me most about the exchange wasn’t the guy defending Cosby – after all, he hasn’t been convicted of anything – he just looks pretty damned guilty. What bugged me was, the knee-jerk of crying racism when it isn’t there.
Listen, racism exists. No doubt about it. But, so does rape. And, whenever someone makes a false rape claim, it hurts real victims. The ones who aren’t believed at first, or perhaps ever. And, I think it works the same with false cries of racism.
Know what? I’m blind. But, I consider myself lucky. I plan to run for office someday. Maybe just local office. Maybe something most people will never notice. Or, maybe not. Who knows? Thing is, though, one thing I’m not gonna have to worry about is how I view people. Know why? Because I don’t see people when I meet them. If you’re a blazing hot woman, know what? I never have to worry about you telling me to look at your eyes. Nope, doesn’t matter how built you are. If I meet a black guy, I don’t have to worry about instant perception based on skin color. If I meet a Hispanic businesswoman, I don’t have to worry about any notion that I’m judging her based on her guessed-at immigration status. Because to me? I’m not seeing people. I’m hearing personalities. And, judging someone based on their personality? Doesn’t get you in trouble by knee-jerking fools who want to cry “Racist!” or “Sexist!” or “Homophobe!” Because the knee-jerkers know full well what they’re doing. Once you label someone a racist, you can’t unring that bell. Once you make that accusation, you’re always going to get traction with people who want to dislike you and believe everything negative said about you – true or false – because too many people put their agenda, or political party, or self-interests ahead of everything else. Me? I don’t care. I’m pretty middle-of-the-road. I’m for the death penalty, and I’m pro-choice. I’m for both – border security, and anti-censorship. I’m for gay marriage and cutting everybody’s taxes. Yes, even the rich. Everyone means just that to me. And someday, I’ll bring that message to a campaign. Because that’s how I live and I’m brutally honest about it.
So, to those who cry wolf whenever their feelings get hurt or whenever someone of a certain race or ethnicity or gender gets criticized (especially for something like rape), stop it. Just stop it. You wanna argue an issue, great, that’s awesome. You want to throw a label out there that has no basis in fact just to sling mud? Then you’re worthless. You’re the kind of person who takes the low road because it’s the only way you can score points, and that’s just flat out dishonest. If your lies, and those of others like you, were viewed as harshly as people falsely accused of being racists? World’d be a far better place.
Currently listening to: “Spellbound” by Siouxsie and the Banshees
That’s where I signed all right, just last week. For the past couple of months, I’ve been working with a guy out in California on his new venture, an entertainment website I heard about online. He was looking for editorial help, so I sent my resume. The next day, he called me, we talked about me coming on board, and so started my tenure with the publication. While I’m not at liberty to reveal much at present, interviews we’ve conducted have been done with folks like Robert Trujillo and Blues Traveler, and we’ve got several more scheduled. We’ve also been putting together a killer “Hot List”of artists (not just musicians) you should be paying attention to, or at least know about.
So, I trusted this guy enough to put in some serious hours without anything in writing. He’d promised me a contract when we started having phone meetings, but I hadn’t gotten it yet. Then again, I like the project and hadn’t pressed him about it, either.
Well, this past week in my INBOX, there it was. Full up legal paperwork ready to print & sign. And so, while I’m still pitching screenplays and writing new stories and scripts, I’ve got a non-freelance payin’ gig for the first time since losing my eyesight. Not sure when we’ll be launching officially, but right now? It’s fun just being along for the ride. This is tough ground to carve out a niche in, but this guy is a lot like me. He believes in it, so he’s put the dough aside to make it happen. His attitude alone convinced me to take the gig, and I’m having a blast with the work. Plus – never hurts to add to your resume. As soon as we’re ready to go, I’ll be beating the drum about it, no worries there. And no, while some who know about the gig have asked, it will not prevent me from pumping out new stuff. Just like freelance assignments, it may slow me up now and then, but the projects I’m currently tied to and stories I’ve mentioned? They’ll all be coming out when they’re ready, same as before. Hope you’ll wanna check out the site when it’s up & running, we’ve had a good time putting it together content-wise, that’s for damn sure.
Currently listening to “Damaged” by Assemblage 23