Monday, August 31, 2009

Not Really Separated At Birth, International Edition

Obviously their eyes are different...

...but damn, you look everywhere else and there was a strong resemblance.

Joaquim and Phil could have passed for brothers.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Wha, Kerouac wrote a crime novel? The war over his estate and six facts about him

Apparently Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs wrote a hard-boiled, pre-Beat murder mystery called "And The Hippos Were Boiled In Their Tanks." Amazingly enough, they alternated writing chapters and not surprisingly, the results were mixed. It seemed that had more to do with Jack being young at the time (twenty-three) and lacking life experience.

The purple link above and this purple link right here lead to the SF Gate (the SF Chronicle's site). The second link has an article concerning the war over Kerouac's estate which has lasted longer than any war that America has fought. It also has these six Jack facts-

1. Kerouac believed that his older brother Gerard, who died of rheumatic fever at age 10, was an actual saint, and in later life he often felt that Gerard was speaking directly to him from heaven.

2. Kerouac had the highest IQ in the history of Newport Naval Base at the time he was stationed there (1942), and because of it he was suspected of being a German spy. He was later discharged from the Navy for "angel tendencies," an early term for schizophrenia.

3. While docked in Greenland in the Merchant Marine, Kerouac traded his Horace Mann football sweater to an Eskimo for the Eskimo's handmade harpoon, which he saved all his life.

4. Later during World War II, Kerouac served on the S.S. Dorchester, on the voyage before it was sunk by German torpedoes with the loss of about 800 lives, including the famed Four Chaplains who gave their life jackets to others, as well as Kerouac's close friend, a black cook called Old Glory. Kerouac's life was saved by a telegram from Coach Lou Little calling him back to Columbia University to play football just before the Dorchester sailed again.

5. Kerouac loved to listen to, and would often scat-sing along with, Gregorian chants, which he called a "jazz Mass."

6. Contrary to the belief of '60s radicals like Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, who thought him a hopeless redneck, Kerouac actually opposed the Vietnam War. But his reason for opposing it was unique - he claimed it was "a conspiracy between the North and South Vietnamese to get American jeeps."

Friday, August 28, 2009


It’s unhealthy.

It’s unbecoming.

Without exception, it never leads to anything good and though it isn’t a drink or a drug, too many in this world seem to be addicted to it.

Like a dog that waits outside under a leaky porch in the rain, I await your call. My pride and self-respect have followed the water to the nearest sewer drain, and they are tainted with the refuse from everyone else.

Unrequited wouldn’t have me any other way.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Best Of: "Arms Aching"

This story was one of the rare out of body writing experiences that I have had-

Arms aching...and if they fail? The best I can hope for is a token trial, followed by a hanging in the town square of San Jose de Oruna. I am one of the few Courlanders that venture onto this island, outside of tradesmen and merchants. The Duchy of Courland is a fiefdom of Poland and Lithuania. Neither of the home countries nor the Duchy itself were willing to fund my ambitions, and the Spanish have repelled both secret and overt Courland opportunism to expand out of Tobago.

I am a "privateer," or at least, that's what the British call it and they have provided some of my means, but I have provided my own methods. They started me out with my first crew of fifteen men. The original crew were mostly Irish men, but all of them were people that the British wanted to be as far away from England as possible and all of them were granted their freedom on the condition that they never return to Europe. All that serve under me, do so of their own free will or I won't have them on my ship, I will not be betrayed by my own for the wrong reasons.

Unlike true "privateers," we weren't granted a "Letter of Marque and Reprisal." It is a commission that would've allowed us to seize everything and anything of any merchant ship that wasn't British, on behalf of England. I had convinced a British go-between, Nathaniel, that I knew every square inch of Trinidad well and that I could wreck enough economic havoc in two years that the entire Spanish Armada would have to shift their attention southward.

My short term goal was to plunder every non-war Spanish ship that came within eighty square miles of Trinidad. My long term goal was to free the Amerindian Natives who were enslaved by the Spanish and have them rise against their Latin masters. I would trade their lives, freedom and land back to them in exchange for the vast amounts of gold that the Spanish kept on the island for trading and commerce.

Nathaniel questioned the soundness of my plan, but he said that England would invest in me. Simply because they couldn't afford to concentrate as much of their fleet this far south as they wanted to and any campaign however successful, could help turn the tides.

My crew fought hard and they fought well during their first battle, using nothing but a few row boats to seize a three-masted merchant galleon that was anchored, unawares. We took the same galleon (which we renamed "Wilhelmina") to Tortola, where we were to be out-fitted with cannons. We were given cannons so that this dog of a ship would have a bark, but no shot or powder to give the dog a bite. So many of our earlier campaigns were carried out with guile rather than brute force and barring that, we had to flee like a dog with her tail between her legs.

This left a taste in my mouth worse than the rations that remained after twelve days at sea, including the mold and the maggots that accompanied them. In a small tavern outside of San Jose de Oruna, I complained to Nathaniel about our weaponry being even being less effective than the weakest rum in the Caribbean, though it seemed that his mind was made up before we even sat down to parlay. He claimed that they would not provide powder because we had become too successful and due to the fact that most of my crew held grudges against the British, they were worried that we might branch off into raiding British ships.

The three crewmen that I brought to this meeting and myself, `said nothing as we simply stood and turned to go, but we were ambushed. The British Navy sealed both doors and the four windows with every available sailor in the area, almost two score. I had anticipated that Nathaniel would attempt some treachery, but not until we were under way. So my crew were at the ready, but anchored out of range of the British guns and of no use to me now.

The one thing working in the favor of we four in the tavern was that the British had only twelve rifles between them and that my father had taught me well in dealing with being outnumbered. He always said to go after the tallest and if they're all the same size, the strongest. If not the strongest, then do your worst to their leader.

I raised my flagon of rum to Nathaniel and motioned for a toast. He stood at the ready, his hand on his scimitar. "Would you not grant a man in my position, the courtesy of a toast and a drink to women?"

His face twitched, unsure if I would be as duplicitous as he. I thought it over...he wouldn't partake of women...or of men. His pleasure in life came from doing his absolute worst, to as many as possible. "Well then, if not to the fair company of women, how about to the British Empire?"

He relented his grip on his sword, reached for his flagon and our cups met. I took a shallow sip, then flung the rum at my adversary. I heard the hammers of a dozen rifles cock back as I reached for the candle on the table and threw it at Nathaniel. I knew that initial fiery scream would provide a good distraction, having seen the same thing done to someone else in Kingston some five years before.

As he spun like the embers from a burning sail and let out a chilling cry, my men and me did what we could to take advantage of the confusion, sending eight of them to the cracked British teapot in the sky. We dispatched another two before the fusillade began, the British getting the worst of it as Nathaniel and three of his own men were killed by their own, compared to one of mine.

The surviving rifle men were at us with their bayonets and one of my men took one of their rifles and became like a hurricane unto them. Steel upon steel, until it was ringing like wedding bells from a church. The screams of the dying and the screams of fear disguised as howls of intimidation, it was deafening.

All of this raged until there were ten of them and I was alone, except death and the devil in my corner...which is where I stand now. Arms aching, wanting to feel the sea breeze caress my face just one last time. They toy with me, they're too scared to come closer and seem content to just wear me down.

A cutlass in each hand, my shoulders and arms are cramped and stiff. My will to live is all that's left to fuel my limbs...

The End

You'd think that I would remember to post this during "International Talk Like A Pirate Day," but something always comes up and I wind up forgetting to. At any rate, there is a sagacious man in Texas that the Internet and hopefully, the world eagerly awaits his return. JJ's starter sentence was "arms aching."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Isabel Says "Think Teaching, Young Writer"

Author Joe Quirk's first book tour intersected with Isabel Allende's book tour, where she gave him some interesting advice-

Five minutes before we were due to go on the air, the fawners stepped away to confer.

Ms. Allende seized me by the arm and pulled me into a corner. She spun me around, leaned close, and whispered with desperate urgency as if this was Invasion of the Body Snatchers and we were the only two real humans left alive. I paraphrase her speech from memory:

"You will not make a living, young man."

"I beg your pardon?"

"Nothing beats the feeling of your first novel getting so much attention, but get over it, starting now. You have to start thinking about how to use this. Nobody makes a living from royalties. It's not possible. It's rigged against you. You have to think of your book as a business card you hand to people who will pay you what you're worth. You have to think about speaking tours. You have to think about teaching positions. Get a list of universities, and start calling them now, because your publicist won't. Do you hear me? You have to be savvy. You have to hustle, because you will go under if you rely on book writing. I've seen it happen to talented writers over and over. You can't afford a house, you can't support your spouse, you spent too much of your advance. You seem like a nice young man. I don't want to see it happen to you. Are you listening to me? Do you understand?"

Here's what I didn't say, but thought:

"Excuse me, aren't you ... Isabel Allende? International bestseller? New book every year translated into 18 languages? Hellooooo! Earth to Isabel! You're a megastar! You obviously maintain a much higher standard of living than me, lady, because up until a couple months ago I was a part-time manny. I should have your problems!"

What I really said was: "Yes, ma'am."

Someone poked their head in the room and said, "Ms. Allende, you're on."

"We'll talk later," she said.

We never did.

Click here for the rest of the article.

Good stuff.

Monday, August 24, 2009

When I Post...

When I post, I suggest you might want to read the post right away. As a few of you know who manage to get here early so to speak, I reserve the right to change a post or yank it all together. Sometimes I write a piece of fiction just as an exercise and I regret posting it right away, because it is just exercise. The quality might be okay, it might stink or in the rare instance it might not suck, you the reader, are the temporary winner.

In the case of a post I ran two weeks ago, I had to edit out a good portion of it because it wasn't appropriate in lieu of what happened to a friend and fellow blogger in real life. This wasn't the first time, though hopefully it will be the last. So like a daily special at a cafe, I'd order it today because the chef might change the menu tomorrow.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Cover Of Astonishing Adventures Number Seven

Check it out.

Click the jpeg and blow it up.

I believe that the Editor JDC did a fantastic job and if you agree, please tell him so.

Self plug time: look for "Le Chat Noir." In many ways it is as different a story as I have ever written.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Coming Soon, Though Not To This Blog...

I'll be posting a link of my Vegas vacation. Right now I'm too tired.

I drank some and I actually won three-hundred percent back on what I played!

Ahem, it was no big deal I put a dollar in a slot and got three whole dollars back.

I also did something I will never, ever, do again.

You won't see the video unless you know me and while it isn't scandalous in the slightest, I don't want it on the Internet so I can be mocked.

Hell, it's probably on YouTube and I don't even know about it yet.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Is It Writing Quote Time?

Yes, it is!

"You can't wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club."
– Jack London

"There are so many different kinds of writing and so many ways to work that the only rule is this: do what works. Almost everything has been tried and found to succeed for somebody. The methods, even the ideas of successful writers, contradict each other in a most heartening way, and the only element I find common to all successful writers is persistence -- an overwhelming determination to succeed."
Sophy Burnham

From The Creative Screenwriting Magazine's Weekly Newsletter

Saturday, August 15, 2009

You Can't Beat That

In case you didn't know, there's another pulp magazine other than the one I'm always pushing and it's called Beat To A Pulp. Just like football, David Cranmer and Elaine Ash deliver the good stuff for your enjoyment every Sunday.

Some of my faves are: "Whiskey, Guns, And Sin?" Charles Gramlich gives you plenty of each.

Patti Abbott puts a different twist on child care back in the day, with Esther Meaney.

Keith Rawson shows we don't know about everything that came over from the Land O' Green. I know that the link isn't green, but the story is called "Marmalade," damn it.

Believe you me when I say Paul D. Brazill gives Poe a run for his money with "The Tut."

Albert Tucher will change the way you look at crime solvers forever with "No Hands."

Coming soon: Sandra Seamans shoots to kill with “Midnight Showdown.”

Friday, August 14, 2009

I Wish I Could Be Clearer...

...but I can't. I'm not trying to be willfully obtuse.

Well, I'll put it you another way, what is this in the picture below?

Have you figured it out? You still don't know?

Look carefully and you'll see Roosevelt's face. That's right, it's a dime and no, nobody "dropped it" on somebody else. Some bright ray of sunshine stuck this in an escalator, to jam it up on purpose. Needless to say he or she was quite successful.

Now, this particular incident didn't happen on my shift, but if it did? I'm the person that people would complain at (as opposed to "to"), despite the fact that there's absolutely nothing I can do about it.

It's not my department and really, most of the other complaints flung at me do not fall under my jurisdiction at all. This is simply a case of me being the target that is out in the wide open like a buffalo on the range. This is also symbolic of what goes on every day at my workplace; morons gumming up the works in general, fleeing and leaving me to deal with the consequences.

But you ask, what does my employer think of this?

Taken from Bizarro by Piraro's blog

Something akin to this Bizarro cartoon and if there were to be another panel, what would happen with that carrot and the stick wouldn't be PG-rated by any stretch of the imagination. Because that's the warm, compassionate and caring kind of company that I work for. Sure it's still illegal in some states in America, but they do it to us anyway.

They throw so many of us under the bus, that we should change our classification from "employees" to "speed bumps."

End of rant.

Resume what you were doing.

Don't cry for me, Argentina.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

It's Going To Be A Noir Vacation...

Because I like to practice what I preach, Depeche Mode, I decided to give Booksmith another try. About four years ago, I ordered a book put it politely and succinctly, I got a flaky clerk and a negative experience. So from there on after I went to Green Apple Books, Borders or neither store had it in stock, I would order it from Amazon.

The problem with Green Apple is that traffic is making it a bigger and bigger pain to drive across the park. Borders is nice and my favorite chain, but it is still a chain, and most of the money spent there leaves San Francisco. To keep a certain device that rhymes with "spindle" from taking over the world, ya gotta from your local store.

So Booksmith is a nice, brisk walk away if I avoid Haight and Stanyan, and all the junkies sprawled thereabouts. Not only do I get exercise, I get to support my local bookstore and this way the money stays here.

I put a book on order and they got it back to me in three days. The clerk was friendly this time and not only that, look at what they had in stock when I put the order in...

...that's right, I'm going to have a noir vacation...when I get to take a vacation.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Pulp From The Past And Pulp For The Future

If I may point out B-Sol's excellent Pulp Covers Blog, because my next two big projects will involve pulp. One story that is already finished for the next issue of Astonishing Adventures Magazine and one that is about a third of the way through for the issue after that...which will be the biggest issue ever in terms of pages and pulpy goodness.

So, from Pulp Covers.blogspot-

Way before The Transformers and Robosaurus, was this fella. The problem was that he was a little too far ahead of his time and his creators couldn't compensate for his, er, "hydraulic problems." Micro chips and Viagra came decades too late to prevent the carnage.

Out of all the tongs and triads, the Lap Cheong Triad were the most feared on both sides of The Pacific. Though most of their fiercest rivals could withstand the normal tortures, the Lap Cheong would show the lost audition film of an inebriated Curly Howard reading Shakespeare...nude. The results are so horrific that, well...

If I have to tell you, it's already too late; you don't tug on Superman's cape, and you don't cut in line in front of The Missus.

As cappuccino machines got more and more sophisticated, and more and more intelligent, the inevitable happened.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Why, Yes, I've Been Avoiding You

You check your Sitemeter.

You check your Statcounter.

You check your Bravecounter, and you ask, "where the hell is he?"

No, the numbers don't lie, I've been avoiding you.

Yes, I've been lurking elsewhere.

"Vegging out, major," in the 70's vernacular.

Uhhhh...look! Bears riding horses!

Okay, that was a cheap ploy, but you know from my writing that I tend to rely on misdirection. So you wanna see what I look like?

That's me, if I existed during the time of "Mad Men." I've never seen the show, though I understand that when the episodes are at their very worst, they are still very good. I know one of the creators is from "The Sopranos" staff, so that's an endorsement enough for me. I just have to watch it from the beginning though, because I hate it when the most basic references fly over my head.
At any rate, the work situation is not getting any better and I won't be around your blog. I will return soon though.
P.S. I just asked The Missus if she thought this was a fairly good representation of me. Needless to say, she said, "no. Well, it does look like you...except for the shirt and tie."

Saturday, August 1, 2009

"The Book Versus The Kindle II: The Thickening"

Michelle Richmond's City Brights blog posted a link to the Green Apple Books blog, and the Third Round of the fight; "Book Versus Kindle."

For those with weak constitutions, you shouldn't click any of those links because this time it really gets ugly. The Book sends a hay maker that knocks most of The Kindle's teeth out, and then The Book threatens to eat The Kindle's children, and bites The Kindle's ear off (BTW, these are Mike Tyson references, if you're not familiar with boxing).

Usually I just scan over most of the comments on the SF Gate pages, there's plenty of angry nonsense to offend every sensibility and political affiliation. Yet one commenter Bicky, touched on a very good point that I believe no one has brought up yet-
I did spend an afternoon with my sister-in-law's Kindle. My biggest problems have more to do with my quirky reading habits. 1) I really like to see the entire two pages of an open book side-by-side so that my eye can jump back in the text if needed to, for example, remind myself of who that character who was just introduced. For a similar reason, I prefer sitting far enough from a movie screen to be able to take it all in without having to scan side to side.