Monday, September 29, 2008

A bad case of the Whatnexts...


After You Fall...

Last Ditch...

One play after another after a book after another... What do I get out of it?

Here's a shocking equation: 16 books and 5 plays have equalled 0 sales. It's something I have to face every day of my life. Other writers tell me how good I am, actors tell me they love my plays, but none of that means anything in terms of financial success. Nobody buys my stuff. It's a shameful admission. It makes me miserable.

Yet, I keep going.

I keep thinking, "Maybe if I do things a little differently. If I just get a little better." But I know that's not the case; we've all seen utter shit in the book market and trainwrecks on stage or screen. It's not a question of quality. It's a question of luck.

So, I keep going, thinking that maybe the next thing will bring me a little luck, a little recognition, make it all a little less pointless.

It's like gambling, you know? I've got a lifetime of losses to make up for - I should never have gotten into it.

My most recent play, Murielle's Big Date, is easily the funniest, most absurd, most dynamic play to date. I have no doubt that it's better than most of the rest of the shows I've seen. But what it's going to come down to has nothing to do with any of that. It's going to come down to the mood of the person reviewing it and whether they want something like that. (That's why I've made it a single set show with a small cast - to maximize the possibilities. Show runners love easy sets and small casts.) But the bottom line is that each person reviewing submissions, for shows or books or whatever, is looking for one specific thing and, if I'm not it, they move along. It's not about quality; it's about chemistry.

Anyway, it's all pretty damned heart-breaking.

And there's no stopping, of course. I've got three papers to write for school this semester but after those I already know what comes next. The next book is the follow up to Climbing Maya, a book not only answering the question of free will but also a story about my father's death and how each of his sons had a different part of themselves stripped away. It's going to be more complex, more emotional, and more profound than Climbing Maya, both related to and completely detached from the previous book. More marketable and more personal - because the bottom line, folks, is that there's much more than gambling going on here. I'm writing for far more than publication; I'm writing for me, too. The answers that I find are answers that I'm looking for, after all.

But I will say this. It's pretty damn exhausting.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

It's time for Murielle...

This morning, I finished my first draft of Murielle's Big Date, my new play.

It reminded me of just why I write. It's different from anything I could have expected. It's vibrant and alive and completely, batshit, mother fucking insane. I love it.

Now, let's see how long a break I can take before starting on the next thing.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Vicky and I are huge HEROES fans. I'm talking about the TV show but we're also fans of real-life heroes as well, except (in my case, at least) soldiers the media keeps insisting we consider heroes. Just because you killed a bunch of brown people, that doesn't make you a hero in my book.

... but back to the TV show. For those of you who caught the 2-hour premier the other night, you were doubtlessly as glued to your TV set as we were. Why we put glue on our TV set makes no sense to me but there we were.

Now, I'm not saying there weren't a lot of things that didn't make sense. Hell, I could create a blog just for HEROES plot holes! In fact, that's one of the things I wanted to talk about today... um, one of the holes in HEROES plot, not creating yet another blog nobody reads.

As you probably saw, Peter's mind was - oh, SPOILER ALERT! (as if it mattered) - put into the body of a high-powered villian on Level 5, supposedly the level filled with the fiercest, roughest, toughest, meanest, leanest, fiendest, beanedest, rootinest, tootinest villians in the HEROES universe. You're darned tootin! And when all these VILLIANS escape - due to yet another plot hole - we're made to assume that bad things are coming to every corner of the HEROES playground.

... so, what's the first thing they do? They rob a gas station, kill a guy, and steal his SUV, Funyuns in tow. These certainly aren't the "rule the world" kind of villians. And you know what they say. "Themz aint yo Funyunz, Themz be Foxy's Funyunz!"

... Yeah, I'm also a fan of Drawn Together. You remember that show, don't you?

No... I didn't think so...

Our first first dance...

It's All Vicky on the blogs but what better time? It's our anniversary, one of my favorite days of the year.

I thought I'd bring it on over to My Side, where things tend to get a bit more cynical, and share something with you that you might not know. I want to talk about dancing. Don't be afraid.

You've probably heard me mention how much I hate dancing but there's a paradox there, because dancing also happens to be very important to me. Seriously. See, I normally feel like such an idiot dancing that I have a hard time dancing with anyone who makes me feel MORE like an idiot. Trust me, I ran into this with more than a few dates.

Now, Vicky and I had rehearsed our wedding dance over and over until we had it down. We had it down so well... it didn't really feel like a dance any more! It felt more like a performance, to me. It was like losing our first dance and gaining our first performance!

But I still wanted that moment - that perfect moment where the stars aligned and everything felt right and we danced together, losing ourselves in each other's arms. I wanted to feel as far from being an idiot as possible... and, for me, that's rare. But every moment of our wedding was choreographed, timed, segmented, and set. It didn't look as though there'd be any time for perfect moments, not the kind I wanted.

So, we were wed. We were rushed upstairs for our "moment alone", which turned out to be just a moment. Then, pictures began. We were hurried up to the gazebo, the photographer got into place... and no one else was where the were supposed to be. We were asked to wait a minute... just relax...

I don't remember the song. I wish I did. But some jazz was playing and everyone's attention was on the wedding and off of the wedded. I asked Vicky if she'd like to dance and she stepped into my arms and it was as if we were the only people in the world. The stars aligned and everything felt right. It was perfect.

That will always remain, for me, our first dance.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Songs to share with your children...

The itsy-bitsy spider went up the water spout
Down came the rain and washed the spider out
Down came the sun and dried up all the rain
and the itsy-bitsy spider realized that all life is futile and meaningless...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

On ex-in-laws and social networking...

If there's one thing life has taught me, it's that you don't know. You just don't know. Living is more art than science; it's never perdictable. You just don't know.

My life, right now, is going through this weird period where past, present, and future keep slamming together in the strangest of ways.

I'll give you an example.

On one social networking site, one of my ex-sister-in-laws recently asked to be my "friend". What the heck, I figured, so friends we became. I've never tried to get in touch with my ex-in-laws out of respect for Rosa. I figured that was her life and no longer a part of mine. But when someone asks to be a part of my life again, to be my friend, it just doesn't seem right to refuse that. Slowly, we have started a correspondence. Of course, we've talked about Rosa. We talked about the divorce. But we also talk about my life today. I tell her about Vicky and some of the things we do together. I tell her about how fortunate I was to find Vicky. I've also mentioned how much Vicky and I want to have a child. This ex-sis-in-law has two kids and she knows how I've wanted one for some time and, again, what happened with Rosa. She hopes Vicky and I have a baby real soon.

And who would have thought that? Past, present, and future - BAM!

I was a pretty lousy husband to Rosa sometimes, but not as much as I was a pretty lousy brother-in-law. I was stand-offish and cold and unwelcoming. Somehow, though - and as usual - my negative assessment doesn't belong to those who I felt deserved to judge me negatively. She just thought I was "a grump."

See? You just don't know.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

For those who don't "get it"...

I was reading a little something by John Haidt today, writing about why liberals don't "get it" and what they can learn from Republicans. "[M]orality is not just about how we treat each other (as most liberals think); it is also about binding groups together, supporting essential institutions, and living in a sanctified and noble way."

If you're not as appalled by that as I, allow me to explain something to you and to Mr. Haidt.

If morality is about "binding groups together", how can you call Republicans moral when their specialty is divisiveness? Their great fallback position is always "God, guns, and gays": Liberals are against God, gonna take your guns, and make homosexuality in the mainstream. Republicans preach hate towards the least fortunate peoples: the poor, the immigrant, the homeless. They even preach hate towards veterans, denying them adequate medical care or GI benefits. Meanwhile, they claim that liberals - the group who has supported equal rights for all groups - don't get it.

If morality is about supporting essential institutions, how can you call Republicans moral when their strategy has famously been to undermine our most essential institutions: schools, health care, infrastructure. To see Republicans as moral, you would have to count the NRA as an essential institution. You'd have to include the hate-spreading Religious Right as an essential institution. You'd have to count the multinational job-exporters as essential institutions. You would, essentially, have to see reality through a myopic, diseased lens to consider the Republicans moral under that criteria.

If morality is about living in a sanctified and noble way, Mr. Haidt, then you Republicans would have to cast their vote for someone other than McCain or Palin. McCain was the "brains" behind the Keating Five. He refused to honor Martin Luther King. He denied benefits for veterans, the group which he is supposed to most empathize. Palin lies and lies and lies, about selling her plane on Ebay at a profit, about not wanting the Bridge to Nowhere, about stealing from the taxpayers of Alaska, and more still. Are these noble acts? Are these sanctified acts? No and No again. These are loathsome and low and unworthy of any definition of morality.

Don't tell me I don't know what morality is, Mr. Haidt. Don't tell me I don't "get it". Don't hide behind false rhetoric and deception in the hopes of getting more Republican votes.

Or prepare yourself for the mountain of vomit which is sure to fall your way.

Monday, September 08, 2008

SPORE's fucking Securom...

I picked up SPORE yesterday and I have to say, "Great game."


Listen to me. They use that awful Securom anti-piracy measure that plays hell with your hard drive and then won't let you reinstall it when you get your hard drive fixed. Now, I'm stuck with a worthless disk and I don't dare give it to Vicky to install on her machine because it'll fuck that up, too.

Here's what you do. If you want it, and you should if you like light, fun games, get it through STEAM, the download service provided by VALVE. They let you reinstall as many times as you like with no Securom and no fucked up hard drives. Do yourself a favor.

Meanwhile, I'll continue hating EA.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

What was supposed to happen…

When Keith told me he was going to provide the family with a DVD of our father’s memorial service, I asked him if he could include an audio copy of my original eulogy. It had run too long but I still felt it gave a better sense of our relationship, how I felt, and what I wanted to say than my second, shorter draft.

He said he would if I provided it for him. Blanche gave her blessings.

Today, however, just as I was about to begin… intelligence crept in. I began to think about what I was doing. And it came down to this: You don’t eulogize someone twice. You just don’t. You go on with your life. The only person who would get anything out of my repetition of the original eulogy would be me… and Dad would have liked it, too, of course – he would have loved the idea of a world constantly eulogizing him after his passing! But, for anyone else, it would have been unnecessary and unwanted.

I’ve eulogized my father. I’ve done just about everything but cry about my loss – I know how much I need to; I just haven’t. I’ve heard jokes I know he would have enjoyed. I’ve told jokes I know he would have told. (Simply eating “Ass-per-Agus” is excuse enough.) So, I’m going to let my original eulogy go, stop mourning and start enjoying.

But, if you’re interested, you can find a copy over one One Path, warts and all.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Weird workplace...

I made it through the gauntlet at my new job; I finished probation.

It's not that hard. There's one rule here: Look busy.

And this is what I want to write about today, because it's more fucked up than you can possibly imagine. Nobody actually works. As long as you can look busy, you impress your Taiwanese bosses. I've only completed about a dozen projects in three months - and I'm known around here as being manic about my job. It's crazy. I spend seven hours of my day waiting, sitting and waiting.

After Allied, I was really hoping to find a job where I could contribute and do something worthwhile. But not only can I not work here - because if I do too much, I'm told to slow down because I'm putting too much pressure on other people - but I also can't fill the void by writing, because I'm watched most of the time to make sure I look like I'm busy working on a product...

It's like fucking hell.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Remember to get what you deserve...

I keep hearing and reading about Sarah Palin's speech last night. I read about how filled with verve and venom it was, about how it knocked that Obama guy down a peg.

It was also filled with lies, but that's neither here nor there I am told. What does it matter that the Republican party has gone schizophrenic: Biden's experience in the Senate doesn't count but McCain's does. Palin has enough experience after being the mayor of a tiny hamlet and governor of the least-populated state, but Obama doesn't as a US Senator. McCain's flip-flops don't count because he's the Change Candidate. Obama is the elitist; pay no attention to McCain's many properties. The Republican hypocricy of calling themselves the party of "family values" while having one candidate with multiple marriages and another with teen pregnancies - abstinence only folks! - while Obama and McCain have actual family values doesn't seem to bother anyone. Just ignore it, I'm told, because that Palin sure is cute, isn't she?

But I don't hear about how the Republican's are appealing to our better selves. I don't hear about how they are providing a brighter future for our children. I don't hear about how they care for regular people. Tax cuts for the rich, tax breaks for big oil, more wars, fewer rights - that's what I hear.

And I am reminded of that old saying, about how we get the government we deserve, and I'm thinking about what we deserve after years of illegal wars, torture, and abuse of power.

Vicky's been talking about moving out of this country, abandoning this sinking ship of state... she may have a point...

No wonder I'm a cow...

Turns out that thinking may make you fat. Hell, I think all the time! I think deeply and profoundly! I think with ice cream and pie and cookies and...

... what?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

His name is Bruce...

Must see this.
Must see this.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Did I write that?...

Yesterday, we held an informal reading for my new play, After You Fall. The idea of the play was to be a funny (key word here) look at the dangers you face after you fall in love, after the romance, after the weddings. You know: the shit.

Well, I couldn’t anticipate what happened. Turned out, the folks who read and listened liked the play for reasons quite opposite than those intended. What I expected to be hilarious turned out to be heart-felt. People liked the relationships and the drama.

After Climbing Maya and now this, I don’t know what makes me think I’m a comedy writer.

But don't think I'm complaining. I'll be submitting this one right away and I'll let you know if/when something comes of it.