Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving, You Turkey!

I hope everybody is having a great Thanksgiving.  By definition, we keep this day in acknowledgement that we cannot do it all by ourselves and sometimes we need some help.  Or in cases such as myself, a whole mess of help. 

So thank you, dear reader. 

In a couple of hours I'll be heading down the road to see my family in Illinois.  I enjoy the trip so much more now since I discovered a way to completely avoid Freeport. 

For those who are not from my neck of the woods, Freeport is the wormy, festering bunghole of Illinois.  It's a place for drunks, addicts, thieves, whores, grifters, cons, winos, and the insane.  Avoiding this town is always preferred. 

But now that I have a better way home, I'm much happier, and safer. 

Thanksgiving always reminds me of a slew of good memories.  Sure, there are some bad ones, too.  My family always did enjoy drinking.  But I'm reminded of some of my favorites. 

There are moments we cling to and wish we could translate them for others.  For me, it was always about the food, sure.  But also seeing family I hadn't seen in years.  I come from a family of people who weren't always rich or flush with cash, but would save their money all year just so they could afford to come home on Thanksgiving or Christmas.  It was important. 

This was my mom's side of the family.  The Irish Catholics.  

I remember playing a lot of pinochle--the official card game of my family.  Deer Grove Rules, so there was a double deck and sometimes a triple deck.  Just to shuffle you had to use a bushel basket and a stick. 

And then there was my cousin and I playing Nintendo.  Or watching the MST3K marathons on Comedy Central.  He was always like a little brother to me so we had some great times. 

Once my sister got bored and started a game of Dragon Warrior.  

That game lasted for months.  Every holiday, we played some more.  She was pissed because it was her game, but seriously, it was a lot of fun.  We all played a whole bunch of that game.  One game lasted well into the Spring.  The adults loved it because we were out of their hair. 

I remember my Uncle Chuck getting some great Hungarian sausage in a suburb of Chicago and using that to stuff the turkey.  He was Hungarian himself and knew some of the best places to find that sort of thing. 

There were some amazing meals cooked on those holidays.  My family was great at this. 

But there was one bad turkey that needs to be addressed.  It was horrible.  Disgusting, really. 

My dad's mom decided to come visit us for Thanksgiving one year.  According to my dad, she used to be a good cook, but by the time I had gotten old enough to know the difference those days were long past. 

She was obsessed with dry food.  She would make her toast and leave it out for a few minutes to dry up.  She cooked the shit out of everything. 

And she had a problem with my mom.  So, my grandmother interfered in the kitchen as much as possible.  The worst was how she kept fucking with the temperature of the oven while the turkey was cooking.  My mom would turn her back and my grandmother would sneak up and change it.  She was a sneaky woman, my grandmother.  I was constantly catching her sneaking up on me, or trying to spy on me from around a corner.  And when I'd catch her, she'd laugh and go back to whatever she was doing. 

So yeah, the turkey that year was horrid.  My mom was furious and the rest of the family wasn't too happy either.  Everybody complained loudly about how dry the turkey was and my grandmother would say, "I know!  Isn't it wonderful?" 

Thanksgiving is sort of the time of year when we acknowledge our family is weird.  We have some really weird people in our family.  And while I'm certain they say the same thing about me, or worse, we still agree to sit in the same house, at the same table, and pretend not to let it bother us. 

If I had to work with somebody from my family, without me knowing their were related, I'd kill them.  And they would call the cops on me. 

Family doesn't press charges.  Isn't that a nice sentiment? 

So yes, I hope everybody has a great Thanksgiving.  I plan on eating too much, saying crazy things, and stealing leftovers.  I hope you do, too.  

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Manly Fiction for Manly Men, by a Manly Man.

I realize now my fiction doesn't have enough testosterone.  It's just not manly enough.

Sure, sometimes my characters kill people.  And yes, a few kill them and do stuff with the bodies.  One does stuff with the bodies but he doesn't kill them.  But these men just aren't manly enough.

They usually think themselves into situations that don't require a fight.  Instead, they kill the person before anything is suspected.

Piece of Meat Victim #1 walked to his car, cautiously looking around the dark parking lot, when suddenly he felt a hot, searing pain across his throat.  As he turned around, his legs gave out, and he fell to the asphalt.  He looked up to see a man smiling broadly and holding a razor blade.  

Piece of Meat Victim #1 tried to ask the man who he was and why he slit his throat.  And most importantly, how did he creep up on him like a ninja.  But all that come out was, "arrghgle-gargle, thpht, blargh!"  

Piece of Meat Victim #1 then broke wind for the last time and died a confused man sprawled on cold asphalt. 

That's not very manly.  I should point out that from now on, whenever I describe somebody dying, they fart.  And shit themselves.  Just today I spent a whole paragraph describing the various fluids, sounds and smells associated with those last few seconds of life, and the first few minutes of death.  It wasn't manly, but I sure had fun writing it.

And that's the whole point, right?  Editors can see you smiled as you wrote the story you submitted to them.

When I was in grade school, I read spy novels and a series of books I'm not proud of.  Mack Bolan.  The Executioner. 

I buried my nose in a ton of these.  By the time I was in 7th grade, I had graduated to a whole slew of Vietnam memoirs.  Because of how I had been growing up, they made sense to me, and I learned a whole lot of the wrong lessons. 

My personal favorite was Once a Warrior King by David Donovan.  I love it.  I remember in 7th grade, I used to sit in study hall and read that, ignoring my other homework. 

It was a different time back then.  We were dealing with getting our balls back after Vietnam.  John Wayne was dead and all we had left was Stallone and a whole bunch of pissed off veterans who didn't want to talk about it. 

So now I'm trying to make manly fiction and it just isn't going so well.  Joe R. Lansdale pulls it off perfectly with his Hap n' Leonard Series.   They're manly men solving crimes in manly ways.   Of course, Mr. Lansdale is a walkin' boss himself.  I'm pretty sure he would whoop my ass rather quickly.

Hemingway was known for beating the crap out of people.  Every professor I ever had despised the man and his fiction. 

After recently reading Strega by Andrew Vachss, I decided I should use that as a template to make my own fiction more manly.

The Token Bad Guy sneered at Willie and called him a "midget."  Willie smiled because that allowed him to do what he needed to.  

Willie--the only little person to ever play the in NBA.  After that, a short tenure in the porn industry, then he moved on to starting up a series of safe houses for battered women.  Only his close friends knew his real name.  Willie was just his porn name.  

Willie unleashed a series of punishing testicular-based attacks while his girl Vera watched and smiled.  She still worked as a call girl but only for twenty grand a night.  She used that to fund her research into a cure for pediatric cancer.  But after living on the mean streets of Scum City, she was hard as drunk's liver.  

I kept a lookout for cops while Willie did his customary stomp on the Token Bad Guy.  Once he was on the ground, Willie unleashed his 14-inch meat hammer and began smacking it against the Token Bad Guy's head.  

"I guess he took offense at that term, asshole."  

"Make him stop!  Make him stop!"  

But it was too late.  The Token Bad Guy lost consciousness from the severe beating.  


Once again, that didn't seem to work, either.  I mean, why would a dwarfish NBA player/porn star and his hooker/cancer researcher girlfriend hang around a genius necrophiliac private investigator? 

Maybe my fiction needs more grease?  And guns!  Can't forget guns... 

Dirk lifted the Chrysler transmission on his shoulders and began to wedge it under the woman's van on the hoist.  She was stunning in her black evening dress and pearls.  

"So," he began.  "Big night tonight?  You seem pretty dressed up."  

"Oh this?"  She sounded bored.  "I always wear Prada."  

An old Elvis song played on the radio and Dirk absently moved his hips from side to side as he threaded the bolts to the tranny. 

Suddenly, a Random Rapist Thug ran into the shop and headed right towards the hot woman.  She screamed.  

Dirk threw a wrench at the Random Rapist Thug and hit him square in the face, dropping him to the concrete floor.  And that's when his friends followed up behind him.  

Dirk reached into his toolbox and pulled out his Dan Wesson .500 Mag Revolver with the chrome plating and custom leather grips.  Three quick shots and the Random Rapist Thugs were on the ground with holes the size of basketballs in their chests.  

"You save me!"  The hot woman looked at Dirk with lust in her eyes and began to strip off her dress.  

"Wait, baby."  Dirk held out a hand.  "Let me finish this tranny first.  A man's gotta do his job, after all."  

That's right!  A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.  And right now, I gotta stop being a pansy and write some manly fiction!  Fiction with grease, and guns, and cartoonishly large members.  And stupid women with no souls and so many mutually exclusive characters traits they couldn't possibly exist in real life.

Yup!  That's what I'm gonna start writing.  Just as soon as I'm done with my short story about the pastry chef too terrified of the lady he buys eggs from to tell her he's madly in love with her.  

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Back in the Saddle Again....

When I was a kid, the family dog was a mutt half a dog tall and two dogs long, and her name was Midget.  She was a great family dog.  She hated men, barked only when there was a problem, never licked and loved to chase the tennis ball. 

In fact, playing fetch was her most favorite thing in the world, and we all played it with her daily.  My mom would play fetch in the mornings, I played fetch in the afternoon when I came home from school, and my sister would play fetch later on in the evening. 

The dog was in great shape and loved every bit of it. 

So one day, I had a great idea--I got Midget excited and riled up about chasing a tennis ball, and then I threw about a dozen of them at once.  For a split second, life was suddenly the best it could ever possibly be, and every great dream she ever had suddenly came true.

She darted around, picking up and putting down each tennis ball, never bringing anything back.  Then she looked over at me, cocked her head to the side and trotted over to me wagging her tail awkwardly.

"Get the ball," I told her.  She looked back and then just trotted off.  She was done.

Having my computer back is like that.  I have a ton of Works In Progress (WIP) to get done and I was really excited about getting my computer so I could tear into them.  But now that I have my computer, I'm more interested in farting around, playing games and checking out various places.

Plus my monitor is very old and dark, so I can't see images all that well, and the glare kind of hurts my eyes.

But that hasn't stopped these WIPs from trying to get my attention.

"When are you going to sub me, Ted?"

"Wait!  I'm almost ready to get sent out, I just need some final editing."

"Shut up and wait your turn!  He's sub'd me out twice and it's my turn until I'm published!"

"All you guys need to hold on," I said.  "I'll get to you when I'm ready."

"When the hell is that going to be?"  The Performance short story was glaring at me.  He was a special breed and not all too patient anymore.

"Soon," I said.  "I promise."

So that's what I'm doing today.  It's my day off, the Bears are on, F1 is on and I'm cooking bean soup.  In between all of that I'm checking out various things and looking at what needs attention now.

What can I get done today?

All the while, the Big Clock just keeps on ticking.   

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Tragic Death of a Computer (And the Harlot Replacement)

"I can't do this anymore, Ted."  It restarted again. 

"No, you're fine.  We just had you doing too much."  I ran C-Cleaner again.  That usually helps. 

"I'm pretty tired, man."  For a computer, it had done alright for the past 4 years.  And I had gotten it used.

"Yeah, but we have all kinds of shit to do."  I didn't want to game or watch a bunch of porn.  I just wanted to write and surf the web a bit. 

"I'm not gonna make it, Ted.  I'm done."  And that's when half the functions stopped working.  And I couldn't get online to do anything but send e-mail. 

I ran all the software I had to fix the problem, but it wasn't a software issue.  The motherboard was going out and this was the final death throe. 

I will admit I was lost for a while.  I e-mailed people from work when I could. 

And then there was the whole fiasco with HSN and how they fucked me.  I should have known better, but I was grabbing at straws. 

A circus freak let me borrow her broken laptop.  It hurt my eyes and the screen slowly degraded to nothing.  I found a spare old monitor and plugged that in to the laptop.  It was a shitty, shitty way to live.  The laptop was crap and kept clicking on random shit I never selected.  Sometimes it would just close the browser in the middle of doing stuff. 

The circus freak claimed it was because somebody had kneeled on the laptop while it was on her bed.  Figures. 

So I ordered a replacement from TigerDirect.  I love those guys. 

But after all I'd been through, would I be in trouble again?  Would I just be left disappointed? 

So after spending more than a month living the Saga of the Computer, I can say I now have a replacement that will last me for a few years.  It's fast and it runs quite well. 

People have been very understanding and I appreciate that.  This blog is now just short of 3000 views.  That's pretty damned good for being up less than a year. 

I'm currently working on coming up with t-shirt designs.  Once I do, I'll post how to get those shirts.  The trick is to make them so folks can wear them in public without getting too many bad looks. 

Thank you, folks, for all your patience as the guy with the horror-themed blog didn't have a computer for the month of October.  Embarrassing, yes--but unavoidable. 

And now I can get on with NaNo.  November is National Novel Writing Month and I'm 13 days late.  This is terrible but I'll make that time up I'm sure.