Saturday, August 28, 2010

Writing Quotes helps you to be good to yourself

The first quote I thought was written by somebody else, but Walter "Red" Smith apparently was the first person to have it directly attributed to him-

"There's nothing to writing. All you have to do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein."

- Walter Wellesley "Red" Smith

"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you."

- Ray Bradbury

"Better to write for yourself and have no public, than write for the public and have no self."

- Cyril Connolly

"I have made this letter longer, because I have not had the time to make it shorter."

- Blaise Pascal

The above quotes came from The Creative Screenwriting Weekly Newsletter.

"The work never matches the dream of perfection the artist has to start with."

- William Faulkner

Monday, August 23, 2010

Für Elise

5:57 PM

She knew time was running out, fast, but opening that door was Pandora's Box all over again.

5:48 PM

Osvlado has had more than a few drinks, and this is not a new development. He enjoys a cerza (beer) or two with his desayuno (breakfast), a snort of tequila in his cup of coffee on the drive to work, and a generous pour of more tequila before lunch. The problem from two weeks ago, is the same as today's. Osvlado can't seem to stop drinking when he's supposed to be working, and he can't seem to be able to do the balance of his drinking at his own home.

12:30 PM, fifteen days ago

Chester Brock is patient; at least, that's what he believes himself to be. This...this, however, this would be too much even Job. Or even for Jesus. He doesn't mind if the gardeners are not constantly working, but that asshole Osvaldo spends more time sitting on his butt and not-so surreptitiously sipping from his flask, than doing anything that involves his job. Now, Osvaldo is urinating all over Chester's yard...and no, he's not even bothering to do it behind the bushes. In these trying times, no one should be out of work and yet...oh, great, now Mrs. Addison across the street sees this spectacle, too!

Wonderful, on top of everything, Chester is going to get an earful from Mr. Addison when he goes into work tomorrow. No, no, screw this, it's time to call Miguel up and let him know what kind of employee he has. This dickweed can work anywhere he wants, but he definitely won't ever work in Chester A. Barraza's yard again.

5:59 PM

Once the butterfly has emerged, it can't go back into the chrysalis, right? The butterfly can't go back to being that ugly, woolly, crude thing that crawls on the ground, and devours what tasteless foliage it can find. That is, the butterfly gets to sail on the wind and feed from the sweetest nectar. Such is Nora's dilemma.

She is in the front bedroom of Chester's l-shaped ranch-style house. She moved into his house over two years ago, but she still doesn't quite feel at home, so he lets her have the spare bedroom as her own little oasis from him. That crazy drunk that Chester got fired two weeks ago, is threatening Chester and she knows that Chet doesn't see the huge hunting knife that the angry asshole has hidden behind his back.

Nora clutches a simple little jewelry box. It's poorly lacquered and while she knows that it's not balsa, the wood that it is made of doesn't seem that much stronger. If you open it up, it plays "Für Elise," and if you lift the poorly disguised compartment below it? Well, no one wants that, especially Nora.

3:30 PM

Osvaldo was happy with his job and while Miguel wasn't happy with his drinking, he tolerated it as long as Osvaldo showed results. It's been two long weeks since then. Two long weeks where no one will hire Osvaldo, because Miguel has told everyone at all of the local garden nurseries about the whole incident. Yes, two long weeks where Osvaldo's money has dwindled down to nothing, and he has had to choose between drinking and eating.

At night, he has walked by Chester's house and seen this pinche cabrón living well, while Osvaldo starves. For reasons that baffle Osvlado, Chester's beautiful girlfriend actually wants a man whose hands are softer than hers. Osvaldo has twice the Spanish blood as this Indio, yet works harder everyday, than this puto has ever had to in his entire life. So, Osvaldo has called on Arturo, who always seems to have a bottle of liquor, a spare knife or two lying around...and the same itch to stir things up.

6:00 PM

Nora clutches the jewelry box as if it was a long lost relative, and in a way, it is. Osvaldo is shouting at Chester and Chet shouts back in the few words of Spanish that he knows. She knows that Chester still hasn't registered the hunting knife that is waiting for him, and that he also hasn't seen that a man has just stepped on the porch. It looks like Osvaldo is trying to lure him out and then, the other man will attack Chester from the side or from behind.

Nora opens the box, then the compartment. Inside there is a piece of red cloth with white and black spots, wrapped around something silvery. She takes the cloth out and wastes precious time touching in it to her forehead, because everyone has their own rituals.

6:01 PM

Chester steps off the porch. His first instinct is to just go back into the house and call 911, but this isn't high school anymore, and he will not be bullied. The two months of judo that he had taken almost six years ago, has given him an undeserved sense of bravado. If the adrenaline and testosterone had not clouded his sense of reason, then maybe he could remember that he couldn't even wrestle the TV remote from Nora two nights ago.

Arturo is about to let Chester's kidneys taste the steel of his switchblade, when he feels something cold poke the back of his neck. He hears the distinct sound of a slide going back and a bullet being chambered. That sound is the universal language of "don't move a fucking muscle, behave!" A woman whispers in Arturo's ear and he drops his knife, which clatters on the porch. This grabs the attention of both Osvaldo and Chester.

That woman is Nora and the red cloth is a bandanna that is tied tight around her forehead. It is pulled tight like a headband, just above her eyes, in the old Pachuco-style and Arturo seems to fear what she is whispering more than the gun that is jabbing him. He runs past Chester and grabs Osvaldo, who is about to take a run at Chester with his knife. Chester hears Arturo screech in Spanish the letter "m," and his both of his would-be assailants flee as if Nora is three jaguars.

Chester turns around and even he's not so sure that the nice girl he knew hasn't become some kind of creature. She has a fierceness in her that he's never seen in her, much less any human being. She's angry and she doesn't even see him, her focus is completely on the retreating duo. Suddenly the things that Chester took for granted or really didn't bother with follow-up questions, have taken on a meaning.

It always struck him strange that she has saved absolutely no pictures of herself, from ages thirteen up until she turned twenty-one. And the scars on her hands that she claimed were just burns from a cooking accident? Chester now knows that those must have been gang tattoos that she had removed. She puts the gun's safety on and she goes into the house. Chester hesitates several moments, before he follows her in.

Nora didn't want this, she wanted safety and boredom. She wanted to leave her old life behind and to find a nice guy to settle down with, where she could just stay in the background and relax. She wanted to go back to school and now? Now that's gone, and this isn't the first time.

Nothing can be as it was, and now she can't blend in, as she has become the alpha of the house by default. Even if Chester won't initially be scared like the others, how can she stopping being her old self now? Nora beckons Chester to follow her into the kitchen.

She sits down at the little breakfast nook and puts her feet across the table, as she slides into a comfortable, but tough stance. She pulls the bandanna down until he can barely see the whites of her eyes and Chester leaves the kitchen. He comes back with the music box and he opens it, Beethoven's familiar song begins.

Chester pulls the bandanna off of her forehead and kisses it, and then he kisses her on the lips. Chester remembers that in the myth of Pandora's Box, the one thing that remained in the box was hope.

The End

Note- this is part of Friday Flash Fiction #39, and Randal came up with the starter sentence, "She knew time was running out, fast, but opening that door was Pandora's Box all over again." The "Nora" in this story is nobody that you know, but my variation of Pandora.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Happy 90th, Ray

Happy Ninetieth Birthday, Ray Bradbury!

While I must admit that other than "The Illustrated Man" (which I finally read in its entirety, two summers ago), I haven't read a lot of your work. You are certainly both a brilliant and prolific author, and hopefully you will live well beyond the century mark. You are also not only a great author, but a prophet as well. We don't always agree, but hey.

And as long as we agree to disagree, you were mostly right...

...except, who needs 451 degrees? When we have the idiot box, which can bake a book reader's mind from within (including mine).

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Noir and San Francisco

The Rap Sheet asked author Kelli Stanley to name her Top Ten Movies set in San Francisco. She came up with an amazing list and I agree with most of it, though my favorite is-

Not what would you expect for such die-hard Hammett fan, right? You would've guessed I would have chosen "The Thin Man" or "The Maltese Falcon." Well, neither has as many exterior shots of my favorite city in the world, as "Dark Passage."

And neither film had Lauren. Both "Dark" and "Falcon" had Bogart, though "Maltese" had the better Bogie performance. I am not, nor will I ever be a Mary Astor Fan, and as great as John Huston was, I prefer shot-for-shot, Delmer Daves direction. Before you get angry, I said I "prefer," as in it's a personal preference. Put the lead bird down.

The Rap Sheet also has a Top Ten Books Set In San Francisco List by Janet Rudolph, and J. Kingston finishes it up with the Top Ten TV Series.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Issue #2 of Needle Magazine is here!

Yeah, Sterling?

Stay on the line, I might need you to swing by here and set some people straight.

Well, you see, I've got some folks that don't know when they've got a good thing going. They don't realize that Steve Weddle and crew have done it again, with another outstanding issue of Needle Magazine!

For just seven bucks, they will get a line up of: Ray Banks, Nolan Knight, John Stickney, Frank Bill, Julie Summerell, Nigel Bird, Sarah Weinman, Allan Leverone, the novella "The Hitter" by Chris F. Holm, David Cranmer with "The Sins of Maynard Shipley," Stephen Blackmoore, and Mike Sheeter! Why, you can't even get an E-book with that kind of roster for an Abe Lincoln and two George Washingtons!

...maybe you could make them see things my way, if you get my meaning. Oh, and while you're at it? I wouldn't go out to dinner with that Michael Corleone kid. What's that? Uh, just call it a "hunch," on my part.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Was that correct, back then?

So I was reading Paul Cain's "Murder In Blue," which is the second story in "Los Angeles Noir: The Classics," when I saw this-

"Mr. Winfield reached up into the pockets of the dressing-gown, fished out a cigarette, matches. He lighted the cigarette, leaned back in the water, sighed."

Did you see that? In case you missed what I'm talking about, it popped up a few pages later with-

"They were silent for awhile and then Halloran lighted a cigarette and stood up."

If you still don't see it...

"The girl lighted a cigarette, sipped her coffee."

No, I'm not talking about all the smoking, that was par for the course back then. The "lighted" part instead of "lit." Mind you, "lighted" wasn't just for the cigarettes-

"The room was large, bare: somewhere around thirty-five by four. It was lighted by a single green-shaded droplight over a very large table in the center: there were other tables and chairs stacked in the dusk of the corner."

All right, I understand that back in 1933, it was acceptable to write "okay" as "okey" or "oke." I've also seen "girlfriend" written as "girl friend" or as "girl-friend" in more than a few stories from the first half of the 20th Century, but when was it ever okay to substitute "lighted" for "lit?"

Now, I know that you see this error.

Oh, and yes, "lighted" is a word.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Can't get enough of Lots of Pulp

Brian Solomon delves deep into history to bring you the original pulp art from Pulp's Golden age, at Lots of Pulp. Please, do me a huge favor and drop by his blog to praise him for his efforts.

Say what you will about Heather Graham's acting abilities, but you can't question her bravery. I mean, who else will swim in deep cold waters buck-naked, and slap sharks at the same time? Not you, Bucky.

Now you can see why I hate my job. This is what I had to go through just to get a vacation form, and even H.P. Lovecraft couldn't have conceived of what lurks near the fax machine.

Not that our vacation was that much better. People claim that Times Square is too safe now...The Missus and I, beg to differ.

Methinks they have the title juxtaposed. The "all new sock stories" on the cover just confirms it.

Trust me that when Kirk Douglas says he's "Spartacus," you damn well better call him "Spartacus."

Actually, Marlon Brando was no better, after he had a few too many.

Just between you and me, let's just say that some unusual steps were taken this time to rehabilitate Lindsay Lohan while she was in jail.

Don't let anyone kid you, it's tough being a writer.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Issac Bashevis Singer kicks off Writing Quotes

These quotes came from The Creative Screenwriting Weekly Newsletter...

"Originality is not seen in single words or even in sentences. Originality is the sum total of a man's thinking or his writing. "

- Isaac Bashevis Singer

"Writing is a question of finding a certain rhythm. I compare it to the rhythms of jazz. Much of the time life is a sort of rhythmic progression of three characters. If one tells oneself that life is like that, one feels it less arbitrary."

- Francoise Sagan

"The act of putting pen to paper encourages pause for thought, this in turn makes us think more deeply about life, which helps us regain our equilibrium."

- Norbet Platt

"Writing, I think, is not apart from living. Writing is a kind of double living. The writer experiences everything twice. Once in reality and once in that mirror which waits always before or behind."

- Catherine Drinker Bowen

And let's finish this up with one from Mark Twain...

You need not expect to get your book right the first time. Go to work and revamp or rewrite it. God only exhibits his thunder and lightning at intervals, and so they always command attention. These are God's adjectives. You thunder and lightning too much; the reader ceases to get under the bed, by and by.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree and goodbye Thug Lit

On the brightside, the son of author Pamila Payne, Sigmund Werndorf has made it into Thug Lit with "Prisoner's Dilemma." Click it and you will find that he possess the same amazing gift for storytelling as his mother.

Also in this issue is Mike Wilkerson's finest effort to date, "Five Kilos." It's a gritty and raw tale. You know, the kind that your mom used to make...if your mom is James Cain or Gil Brewer.

On the darker side, Thug Lit is in limbo and seems as if it will be gone for good.

R.I.P. Thug Lit, one of the best crime magazines ever and the one that certainly featured the greatest writers of our time.