Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Getting Over It...And A Bit Of Rant

Finally got over the cold, mostly (I hope). So, I got up, didn't call the boss and tell him to mark me sick and dragged my ass to work.

On my cold, cold, ride in I was felling lucky, given that I found a relatively open stretch of lane that didn't require me to split it with cars.

So. There I was blithely thinking about other things at sixty five miles per hour, when the large Ram pick-up truck beside me decided to both: a) change lanes into my lane and, b) fail to signal the movement in any fucking way.

I banked to the right and cracked the throttle completely open. It wasn't enough. I actually had to turn my shoulders sideways to avoid contact with fool. As it was, I felt the shape of the wind change as the prow of the man killing machine swept close enough to strike me. My heart rate went from pleasantly low to dangerously high in second, the organ itself riding up into the back of my throat and squirting copper into my mouth like an adrenaline-induced power-wedgie.

The driver then honked at me.

I mean, I see their point. Look, I was in my lane and minding my own business. Clearly I am a crazed moron;  daring, frivolously unconcerned, and completely careless of my life.

Fucker.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Haven't Been Around Much

I haven't been posting very regularly, I know. I've been sick. I've been tired, and frankly, I haven't had a great deal of readers clamoring for more. Despite this, I have something to say...

Today, something depressing happened: I finished The Wise Man's Fear. The book isn't depressing, my response to it was. I have said before that when I read, I tend to process the work on several levels: story, craft, and a category I call the memorable turn of phrase.

I often cringed as I read The Wise Man's Fear. Not because there was anything wrong or disagreeable about the book, quite the contrary. No, the problem is that when I read, I normally find occasion to think, "I could have said that better, or differently, or using less words." That did not happen, not once, while I read this book. Instead, I marveled at something on nearly every page, muttering about the smooth eloquence of the writing, the storytelling, the world-building, or the character development. I also found the story moving and absorbing in ways I did not expect.

When reading other works, I have often felt it was only a matter of practice and patience before my craft might reach parity with the work in front of me. Not so with Pat Rothfuss. No matter how long I practice, I don't think I shall ever reach that level of eloquence. Not ever. It is pure talent that elevates the book beyond simple hard work.

Depressing.

Yet I will try, in my own fashion, to convey the stories I have to tell.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Foul-Mouthed, But Interesting Rant...

He either ignores or is unaware of the american communists and other organizations of the twenties and thirties, but it does not detract from my enjoyment of the rant.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Trek Nation

Watching the documentary has been most illuminating. I always liked the show, but knew very little of Roddenberry. He was not only a cop, but a sergeant in the LAPD? Wow. And that Martin Luther King was a Trekker who allowed his children to stay up and watch Star Trek?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Isabelle's State Final...The goals.

These are the goals scored by Diablo FC in our game. You may recall that we were down by 2 at the half. My article was off on a few points, but only slightly.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Team Thunder, Champions...


The final game of Diablo FC’s Under Nine girls began much as the first few games of the season had; with parents groaning, hearts in throat as their children played with every bit of focus and heart it was possible to show.  Just as the first few games proved a lesson in what skills were necessary to hold one’s own among such competitive teams, this final looked to prove what was required to be champions. 

But before speaking of the game, a little about what was before and behind us on that cold November afternoon: Both sides were were nearly the same in stature, but the SSJ Arsenal team had what appeared to be a greater number of bodies to throw into the match, something that might prove critical if the game went into overtime. With only three girls to sub in, Diablo FC U9 Girls have made do with fewer players than most every team they played in the last year. Made do, and more. They are a team: playing, laughing, pushing through together under the steady guidance of their coaching staff. All the time spent listening to their coaches, all the play, all the practices and games spent on the field under a searing sun or enduring cold winds, all of it was to come down to forty minutes and more of hard, heavily-contested play.

But we must digress, because you haven’t yet had an introduction to the team. So here, a few words about individual elements that made up Diablo FC’s Team Thunder: 

Olivia: Don’t blink. Using footwork that is hard to believe from one so young, she’ll blow right past and bang it home.

Evelyn: This young lady is an amazing player, so serene and poised, the power and precision of her kicks must be seen to be believed. 

Emma: Smooth, fast, and always ready with the pass or the shot. Always in position and ready to roll it forward. 

Kaia: The youngest of the players, and one of the best ball handlers out there, turning on a dime and raking balls to the point the opposition has no idea where it might be from one instant to the next..

Vanessa: Has anyone so tiny ever been so fearless, so tireless, so willing to go the extra mile? Everyone knows when they’ve been playing against Vanessa, especially when they are looking up at her. 

Jenny: Smooth power in the defense, feeding the ball where it needs to go with her exceptionally powerful boot. Another of the calm, steady players Thunder was blessed with.

Isabelle:  Often in at Keeper, she’s got a grip, and doesn’t hesitate to throw herself at the ball. Is that a dance she’s doing?

Natalie: Often in on defense, she’s shy till the ball comes within reach, then it seems to get out of reach of the other team.

Izzie:  Another serene player, Izzie joined the team a bit later than the others, but fit right in as a defender, blowing up the opposition’s attempts to score.

Alexa: Another of Team Thunder’s players who play often and well at Keep, Alexa is there for the clutch plays regardless of position.

Jenna: Heart, skills and an awareness of where she’s needed, Jenna has it all. 

Coach Miguel: The head coach, Miguel had a plan for the girls from day one, and he followed it. Thunder’s fine finish was the result. No stars, just crisp, accurate passing and hard, tight, team play.

Coach Lynn: Calm and assertive, Coach Lynn supported his head coach and the team, running warm-ups and stepping up to take over seamlessly when Coach Miguel had to drive the many miles between venues to coach his older girl’s team.

Manager Michelle: The coordinator for the team, Michelle was on it, all the time, and generally with a smile. She sacrificed much of her personal time to support Diablo FC and Thunder.

The parents: Suffice to say, none of the girls would have made it to practices, games, or any of the other necessary things without their parents. Beyond that, like our girls, we all got along and, while competitive, we were  very good about screaming our support rather than raving in anger at poor calls or cheap shots.

Now you’ve had a brief introduction to the team, it’s time to talk turkey. This was Thunder’s first year as a team. They had a bit of a shaky start, having a hard time for the first few tournaments.  Eventually their training and hard practices paid off, as Thunder handily won the league, outperforming the other teams. Then, at the Kick Or Treat Tournament Diablo FC hosted, where the players must wear a costume to play,  Thunder went out in full Rock Star fashion; painted faces, dazzling smiles and special uniforms, placing second.

Then it was on to the State Cup Tournament. The first two days were cold, wet Davis days. Team Thunder scored well and often, allowing only two goals the first four games. The semi-final went well, and Thunder rolled on.

Alright, you’ve had your introductions. You’ve heard of their accomplishments, now we can get to the final.

The first twenty minutes were a lesson in why soccer is, at all levels and ages, such challenging sport: despite some questionable calls by one of the refs, several opportunities were created by Diablo FC’s Team Thunder offense, only to have the tiny goal keeper for Arsenal repeatedly crush rising hopes. Midway through the first half, a fine shot by an Arsenal player put them ahead 1-0. 

The girls were not phased, and continued to play their best. We took a few more shots, but the Arsenal keeper did her job with style and grace, shutting down several solid attempts. 

One of the referees missed a few calls. The parents started to get anxious, rumbling their discontent. The girls soldiered on, unfazed, as if to show us foolish grown-ups, “Hey, it’s all part of the game.”

A few minutes later, a few more poor calls and another ball found its way into the back of Diablo FC’s net. Now the grumbling from the sidelines was louder.

At the half, though, the girls walked off with heads held high. Down 2-0, they remained unbowed.

On the sideline, the tension was palpable. Parents staggering back and forth with wide-eyed, shell-shocked expressions, muttering in their anxiety and fear.

Half time ended with the parent’s still trying to shake their fear. 

Thunder rolled onto the field and began to impose their will on Arsenal.

About ten minutes into the twenty minute half, Olivia, charging downfield, ball on a string before her, drew four defenders to try and stop her, so concerned were they at the threat she posed. She executes a sweet little dump pass to Emma, who takes the shot. Keeper deflects it. Emma follows it up, tips it in.

The sidelines explode in cheers and shouts. 

For those keeping track, Arsenal’s lead is now halved; a lone, paltry point stands between victory and a tie. 

Play resumes at an unforgiving pace that plays to Arsenal’s advantage. With their larger squad, they can substitute nearly an entire line-up at any time.

The play surges back and forth across the field, time running out on us. The tension mounts, minute on minute slipping away.

With but one minute on the clock, Jenny gets the short kick and puts a boot to it, feeding Emma, who dodges, twists and moves, shaking it loose to send it to Evelyn. Evelyn cranks it and delivers a thunderous shot into the back of the net to tie the game.

The next minute passes without a breath being taken by anyone on the sidelines.

Overtime it is. Five minutes or sudden death.The toss is to our advantage, Thunder have the wind behind and the slight slope to speed the ball.

Five minutes of brutally fast play drag on, withe neither side able to put one in. We get a hard shot off, but the Arsenal Keeper stuffs it.

A brief break between five minute overtime halves, and the players are back. 

Thunder is noticeably slower now, the long minutes of intense play taking their toll. Arsenal also looks tired, but having more players to play, have a bit more juice.

Arsenal, in it to win it, marches forward and one of them fires a long, high ball. Groans emerge from the sidelines, sure the Keeper can’t get a hand to it. Alexa calmly deflects to her feet then collects it and sends it on. 

The minutes bleed by, the parents afraid to close their eyes for fear of missing the game-ending shot. 

Instead the game ends in stalemate.

Shoot out.

Each side: five shooters. One tiny keeper, alone. 

Evelyn is sent in to do double duty for Thunder. Not only will she shoot, she will tend goal as well. She shoots first, places the ball tidily in one corner.

The Arsenal player steps up, scores.

Fingertips are being gnawed to bloody stumps on the sidelines, and blood pressures spiking to frightening levels. One is forced to wonder, if this is what I am feeling, what must the players?

Emma steps up, misses.

Another Arsenal player slams one in.

Jenny steps up, hammers a powerful shot into the back of the net.

The next Arsenal player fires one on target, but Evelyn puts a stop to it.

Vanessa lines up her shot, takes it. The Arsenal Keeper, at full extension, gets a hand to the ball, slowing it to a crawl. Crawling, Vanessa’s shot still crosses the line for the point.

The next Arsenal player gets up, shoots a hard one toward the corner. Evelyn, stretching, slaps the ball sideways and out.

Izzy, composed and ready, steps to the line. If she scores, it is done. Izzy takes the necessary steps and ends it with a powerful kick. It finds the net. 

The girls shriek with glee, the parents roar. 

State. 

Cup. 

Champions!

The culmination of a season, not on one small set of a shoulders, but on a team’s. 

Working together at all turns, Diablo FC’s Team Thunder overcame all opposition and produced a magnificent memory for themselves, for their coaches, and for their parents. 

Had it gone the other way, it still would have been a season to remember.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Reality TV I'll Watch

I am not a fan, generally, of reality TV shows. There is too little reality in most and too much of celebrity based on infamous acting out rather than behaviors that are actually worthy of note.

What I do find myself watching, and watching with the intensity of the predator, is the dreamers. Those that have determined to change something, using their blood, sweat and tears to change the course of their lives.

Two programs that capture the efforts of such people have caught my attention:

Gold Rush, on Discovery Channel:

Six men from Washington go all in to mine for gold in Alaska.  Most have lost their jobs or sold businesses off because of the crap economy. So they take their destiny in their own hands and, dreaming, pour their effort into making it in the gold fields of Alaska.

The show follows their efforts, many of which are far less than perfect. Fighting through, regardless of low returns and constant setbacks, they continue to try and carve out their own piece of the American dream.

Knights of Mayhem on National Geographic Channel:

A guy has a dream of going big with his professional Heavy Armor Jousting Troupe. He's a flawed, angry sort who's drive and dream is of the sort that is hard for many to understand. Yet he is possessed of sufficient charisma to draw others in his wake. They all risk life and limb to compete in a deadly sport for little return. There is a high cost of entry and equally high likelihood of injury.

The resonant theme between these shows is that dreaming of a lofty goal is one thing. To then pursue it regardless of cost is one of the defining characteristics of my image of the type of man who changes the world.

I am not that kind of man. I can, and do admire it, however.





Tuesday, November 15, 2011

An Excerpt From The WIP

This is the opening for the first chapter for Verron, a young initiate of the Sun God in A Friend To The Watch. His character provides the innocent's perspective for the work...

There came a knocking, heavy and hard, on the thick ferulwood gate of the temple. The sound echoed down high stone passages and returned, a faint mockery of the original, before Verron could unlock from his surprise and move to answer. While not asleep, he had been deep in meditation, and hadn’t heard a thing before the crashing thumps on the gate drew him from contemplation. Throwing the trailing edge of his initiate’s robes over his shoulder, he rose from the prayer mat.

It is coming slowly, but it is coming.

Friday, November 4, 2011

More Music

I remember hearing this the year I graduated from highschool. I've loved it ever since.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

More Music To Write To...

Stumbled upon this rather amazing song and singer...







I feel like I need a martini in hand, smoking jacket and all. Or perhaps an Austin Martin an a tux...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

What I Missed

Isabelle had a tournament, called Kick Or Treat, while I was away at World Fantasy. Players were not allowed on the pitch unless wearing a costume. Her team went with Rock Stars as their shared theme. It must have worked, as they placed second.


DFC 02 | THUNDER 2011 from e3 webmedia on Vimeo.

Monday, October 31, 2011

World Fantasy 2011 Recap

I was fully intending to post numerous, daily blog updates, but I just could not keep up after that first, epic night:

After my utter, complete failure, I can only, if you will allow it, provide you a few high points:


Hung out with and thoroughly reinforced the fast friendships I have made these last few years, most notably the As-Yet-Unpublished Gentlemen: Alistair Kimble, Rob Hicks.  AYUG will be a short-lived organization, I pray.

Tim Akers also made himself readily available to both abuse and amuse me.

Hung out repeatedly and well with Peter V Brett, Lauren Cannon, Jay Franco, and Nancy Lambert, whom I have decided, in my laziness, to dub The Easties.  I would call them New Yorkers, but that damn, insanely talented Cannon is from Jersey. That, and they are all far too nice to be truly from New York. I think I might have to check IDs the next time.


As previously mentioned, I drank more than my share on the pub crawl, though I am still amazed at J&J's stamina.

Chatted for so long with Pat Rothfuss we made him late to his next thing. I have no regret of it.

Had a great time telling stories in the hall (or is more properly called a porch?) to Brent Weeks, Myke Cole, and Peter Orullian as well as other fine writers, editors and publishers whose names I forget (I can only hope they will be able to squeegie some portion of the more foul things free from their minds).

Attended some good panels: the sea battle one with Myke Cole being the one I found most interesting.

I attended and assisted in the founding of the Brothers of Flatulism, something I am confident will become a bright star in the firmament of bullshit Holy Orders for future cons. Jim Minz, Rob Hicks, myself, and Alistair form the First Brothers. Others are sure to follow. I am not sure, but there might be a Brother Dribble whose actual name I failed to get. Bearded fellow, with a brown cassock that used to be white. Chants of I think I can, I think I can, were frequently heard before security descended upon us to end our rites.

Made up the Title that would best suit a particular piece of art if it were to be used for a novel from 'Unclasped' to  'Ready Playa One'.

I also hung out with and disturbed Bill Schafer's peace of mind again, but this time he had with him Yanni, who's scathing glances were almost enough to cow me to near-silence. Almost. I, too bore witness to the badge fascist she complained of.

David Drake and Karen Zimmerman were also present, gracious, and fun.

Ticia Isom, Jeni Faries, and Mark Van Name were, as always, fun, though Mark was suffering from a savage sinus infection for most of the con that would have had me whining constantly, but just made him more taciturn than usual.

Chuck Gannon and I chatted at length, and I came away feeling smarter, as I always seem to when I have opportunity to pick his brain.

I furnished the winning bid for two of Lauren Cannon's pieces. They are awesome, as she is.

Sam Sykes and I had more than a few fun words between us.

I also got to hang with a few of my UFGirlz, Sara McClung and Caroline Valdez-Miller. Karen Hooper was, sadly, not among them.


I managed not to make the noise I was making far to frequently last year. Instead there were many mentions of 'Butter Pat' and 'FINISH HIM!

The best thing about this year, though, was that twice, while feeling down about things, my friends buoyed me, lifted my spirits, and encouraged me. 

In short, they were there for me.

Good stuff, that.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Epic Pub Crawl


Tonight, the first real night of World Fantasy, was a trip. Nay, it was an odyssey approaching beer nirvana. Jim Minz and Jetse De Vries, aka J&J productions, took us on a pub crawl extraordinary. We  sampled beers from all the local breweries and generally consumed vast quantities of beverages. We also ate well, and told stories both humorous and fun. My roomie this WFC, Rob Hicks, was also along, observing with me as we mere mortals rode the coat-tails of Titans.

After all was done and drunk, we returned to the hotel grounds for a brief sobering session and longer talk  with other guests, many of whom seemed to have arrived while we were pursuing the many fine expressions of the brewers art to be had in the San Diego area.

Tomorrow, hangover permitting, more of same, perhaps with more mere mortals.

All in all, an excellent start to WFC 2011.\

Friday, October 21, 2011

Time

Things settled a bit more at work and I am feeling more energetic, so I got a good bit of writing done today. This is all to the good, I hope.

I enjoyed writing the scene, which is for A Friend To The Watch. It flowed pretty easily from mind to page... I hope that's not a sign it's shit.

Tomorrow, Isabelle's got a game early, so I am done for the night.

Next week: World Fantasy Convention!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Recent Writing...

With all the adjustments to how the court is run, things have been inordinately busy at work of late. So much so I have been a bit tired and distracted when I get home, so the blogging has suffered a bit. So, here's what I've been up to...

I have been ideating quite a bit on A Friend To The Watch, and laid down the prologue over the last few days. I continue to tweak it, wanting to get it just right.

You see, seven years ago I had an image enter and refuse to leave my head: A man and a boy are talking over a winter grave, each refusing to understand the other. Both are equally sure they knew the wishes of the dead woman at their feet better than the other.

A year later I started writing A Friend To The Watch. I finished it two years later. My agent shopped it. It failed, a flawed but promising first effort. I put it aside and concentrated on The Last Captain. That's done, and the sequel is also nearing completion, but I can't get the kid and the man over the grave out of my head until I write it...

I am not doing a re-write. At least, not as I understand re-writes. I am not referring at all to the original novel (150,ooo words or so), just using the situations and characters in my head to formulate an entirely new, and hopefully successful tale.

So, to it I go.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Mindgames, Soccer, and Hypercompetitive Pricks

Sunday morning, The Coolness and I had an early game.

We played well and our team won the game, though not without some drama: one player from each teams was given a red card for fighting. I do not generally approve of such conduct, but this was a bit of a special case.

The player from the opposing team was a bit of a drama queen, trying to make calls for the refs and generally being a hyper-competitive prick. So much so that I shall call him Hypercompetitive.

I don't say that lightly, as I have been called such in the past.

Nay, I have examples: I made a clean save on one of his shots. He took four more paces, ramming me after I'd cleanly collected the ball. It wasn't a hard hit, or even something he should have been called on, it was a simple attempt to intimidate me, get inside my head.

The refs and I recognized it for what it was, and him for what he was.

He apologized in a tone that begged me to look at him and call him a liar.

I grunted, punted, and my teammate scored two passes later.

Because, well, fuck him and such mind games.

I stopped a few more of his shots that half. He was good, just not as good as he thought. They had a female striker who was that good, and she was a complete pain in my ass because of it! I was sure one of her shots was going to miss, and pulled my hand back to avoid giving them a corner. Bang! off the upright and in.

My midfielder, in the second half, got tangled up with Hypercompetitive. My player snatched the ball and, as he turned to run up field, his counterbalancing arm slapped the opposing player across the thigh.

"Aww, come on!" Hypercompetitive screamed, raising an arm like he'd been intentionally slapped on the pee-pee with a lead-weighted hand. The drama was palpable.

The refs ignored it, but my players, being good sports, hesitated. We play for fun, after all.

"No whistle! Play on!" I  bellowed. Again, because, fuck Hypercompetive and his mind games.

We moved the ball out.

The next time down, Hypercompetitive blew past my fullback, the same midfielder from the earlier altercation hot on his heels.

I came out, cutting the angle.

Hypercompetitive found the near crease of six inches and sent a sweet shot past me to score. I turned to track the ball, so I missed whatever happened next.

"Dirty playing fuck!" Hypercompetitive screamed, returning my attention to the cock.

My player isn't backing down, shouting at him to calm down and play.

Hyercompetitive keeps it up, howling and beating his chest.

Eventually they are both given red cards and sent off.

He spends his time cheering his teammates and telling them to take shots, much as any team player should.

We score three times more. Them, twice. They had more than ten shots on frame, most from Blonde Striker of doom.

A quick break and Blonde Striker that made life in goal such an adventure is open in the middle. The player with the ball sees a chance though and shoots. I was on it, ready to stuff it. She stabs a foot out, deflecting the shot out of my reach and, thankfully, over the goal.

She collapses, face in hands, "I can't believe I played goalie for the other team" she grouses.

I had it, I could have said or, if I wanted to slip the blade in deeper, Thanks. Instead I helped her to her feet and kept my mouth shut.

Because I might be hyper-competitive, but I try not to be an asshole about it.

After the game, I went and told them both they'd played a good game. Hypercompetitive was gracious, Blonde Striker, not so much.

Ah well, I still had fun. And I hurt less than I did the last two times, despite a few full-extension and fall  to the ground saves.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Where They Come From

My ideas flow forth in rivers, and sometimes my girl has to put a stop to them by plugging my ears with her finger.

She's fast, really fast.

This is the first time I caught her on film:


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Another False Quote, This One From Bridge Of The Broken

“The responsibility far outweighs the opportunity here: no other will ever be the first human to handle or interact with an alien device. The only thing greater would be actual interaction with an alien intelligence. Still, I am aware of how out of my depth I am, I truly am.” -Rupert Troisrivieres, inmate and forced laborer, Ast-Block 19, shortly after discovering the first of the artifacts of the Leos civilization

Today...

I have had better days at work, but that's just cause there was a massive fight between five large mammals in the hallway outside my courtroom today. I entered the fracas, but only to assist a deputy trying to restrain one participant. Then a drunkard decided to impose himself on the court process. I handled him, as well.

Otherwise, things are a bit intense just now, as the courts and I are reconfiguring to the requirements of new bosses and new policies.

Most of the changes are good. Great, even. I am very hopeful, even a bit excited about things for the first time in a long time. I think I might be able to do it for a while yet. Hopefully long enough to get my feet under me in my heart's desire.

Just so long as no drunken large mammals decide to start fights with me or in the courtroom, I should do well enough.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Changes

Well, today is the last day I'll have a commissioner sitting in my courtroom. Monday, a judge takes up responsibility for the traffic courts in my county. I am sorry to see people go, and a bit nervous about how things will turn out.

Change, it is in the air.

It might be good, but every change has it's uncomfortable moments.

Here's hoping those moments are few, painless, and pass quickly.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Safety First

Ah, but sometimes I feel like the man standing at the end, smart enough to know that what's being done is fucking stupid, yet powerless to put a stop to it:


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

True Words

At 1:40 into the video, listen up... Truer words are rarely spoken:



Tim Akers pointed me at this artist a few weeks ago. Since then I have become an avid fan. There is a sensibility and thoughtfulness to his work that speaks to me.

Have fun.

I go to write.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Two Things:

Thing One:

A funny thing happened at work tonight: I tell everyone to shut their phones off. Twenty minutes later and this guy's phone is going off. He's on it, shutting it down before I even look at him. 

When I do, he looks at me and says, purse falling out his mouth, "It gets turned on when you bend over."

I shit you not.

I fled the room, desperately trying not to laugh my ass off.

Thing two:

I finished the re-write on The Last Captain tonight;  ahead of the schedule I set two months ago. A good thing, I think.

Two years, two computers, a few cranky nights and a few more even crankier nights, and the 123,ooo words of The Last Captain (Redux) is ready for my first readers.

I am not confident. I am hopeful, but not confident.

Really, I'm just happy to be able to put it aside for a while. I've been working on it for two years. The re-write took just over five months once I found my rhythm and settled in to crank pages.

I get a couple weeks grace, then get feedback from agent and readers. Then, hopefully, I fix what's broke and submit it to publisher #1.

Hopefully they'll get turned on when I bend over.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pain Can Be Such Pleasure

In a lot of pain just now.

Twenty-one years ago I played my last soccer game. The family had moved to Switzerland for my last two years of high school. I played just as hard and fast as I had for my Varsity squad in Peoria.  I received a yellow card each game. The cards, coupled with the language barrier that prevented me getting to know my teammates, killed my desire to play.  Instead I played rugby a few times, thoroughly enjoying it.

But I didn't continue to play rugby when I returned to the States, and never returned to soccer either.
Most of the soccer leagues I might have attempted were a little hard-core for me, as out of shape as I was and with my concern that I not hurt myself, preventing me from working.

Last week The Coolness played in a local coed 30+ league. I watched as her team played their asses off.  They had no bench and insufficient bodies to cover all positions.

Regardless, both teams had lots of fun, and had great attitudes.

I was in.

This week, I played goalie for The Coolness' team. I showed up kitted out and ready to play in that position, as last week's goalie had pulled a calf muscle and couldn't play.

As I was warming up, I hear, "Barber."

I look over and it's one of my Academy classmates, who lives south of SF, but comes out to play most weekends. Small world.

Warmed up, I stepped on the field for the first time in 21 years to play a position I don't recall ever playing in a real match. The opposing team had us outnumbered and outclassed, shooting five shots for every opportunity we had. It wasn't a matter of lack of skill: once again we had less than a full squad, and no relief.

I discovered exactly how poor my conditioning is. I am so glad I wasn't playing in a position that might have required me to actually run for extended periods.

I made about twelve saves, a few of which were quite good. My daughter watched the entire game, mostly from a seat behind me in goal, offering encouragement and fetching balls that rocketed past.

I did let four pass me by: Two were simple errors I pray I won't make again. One was a beautifully arranged shot that the player slipped in over my head, and the fourth was a free kick that the ref called but that could have gone either way.

We scored no goals.

The opposing team will certainly remember me. I unintentionally put a player from the other team out with one of my punts. Trying to clear the ball to an open forward, the ball left my foot like a rocket and connected with the guy's face six feet from my foot.

So now, I smell like a mint julip, hurt like I haven't in ages, and am happy as a clam.

I feel so good.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Sad

I thought about a lengthy post with my thoughts on the human condition and our failures, as individuals,  to address our issues, but decided writing fiction would be better for me than facing the sad reality that people just don't give a shit.

About my thoughts, that is. Hell, many are likely shitting as I write this, so they don't exactly not shit.

I am sure some people give a shit about the pithy topics I raised in that first paragraph. They just don't read my thoughts, and likely wouldn't care if they did.

Assholes.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Thing

Always loved the original Thing. Now, I see there is a re-make. Here's hoping it's good.

And then there's The Killer Elite. I am looking forward to old man DeNiro kicking some ass.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fight Scenes And Fighting Experiences

Another writer's fine blog post kicked off a few things in my head about writing fictional combats. I have always felt it one of my strengths in writing, but never bothered to delve into why I think that is.

So, here we go:

I have been in more than a few fights as an adult, many of them serious.

The majority were open-hand, or transitioned from weapons, namely impact or aerosol to open hand techniques. Less often, I have gone from open hands to weapons.

I have fought one on one and been part of a rat-pack trying to subdue an individual.

I have had to fight either sex, with instances of females larger and heavier than I am.

I have fought  the wounded, the cracked-out, the week-long cocaine-binger, the PCP smokers, the drunkards, the mentally ill, and those that combined a number of the above altered states into a gestalt of mayhem.

I have fought clothed people and very memorably, naked people. Just not at the same time.

I have made people bleed, and been made to bleed. I have sent people to the hospital. I have been sent to the hospital.

So, more often than not, after all the sound and fury was over, I had to write a narrative of the event. It is there that I developed what experience I have narrating combat.

It is difficult to recall events in their proper sequence,  especially when those events happen in a highly charged atmosphere of danger and fear. Then add the requirement that I describe what both parties did that led to the conflict and  do so in a manner the lay-person can easily understand, and you might be able to see where one could develop some ability with describing combat scenes.

For fiction, all that is left is to make shit up; something that is expressly and entirely forbidden in my day job. So of course, I love to do it in my writing.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Another False Quote From The Last Captain

Yes, another quote from my novel, The Last Captain.  This time it is merely the attribution which is false. People who have been with me on the streets or in court might have heard something like this pass my lips:


“Just because the answer I gave is not the answer you want does not, in any way, render my response invalid.” –Matsuki Mikonos, Chair of the Council of Man


This statement is very infrequently followed by the necessary moment of silence required for full digestion of its meaning. 


Today, the response was the far more common and immediate permutation of, "But I don't want it that way." This individual went beyond that simple verbal exhibition of hubris and went on the offensive: "They were rude to me there."


"And what did they say?" I asked, knowing the answer.


"That they couldn't help me."


"And that was the truth. May I ask how that is rude?"


"Well, they gave me some paperwork and told me to get out of line, that they couldn't help me until it was done."


"Again, they told you truth and supplied you with the paperwork. I fail to see how that makes them rude. Once you've filled out the paperwork, you'll have done what you can to straighten the situation out."


They left, without thanking me.


I am certain, in my very bones, that this person will tell the next person they talk to that I am rude, too.


To which I would respond, "Your perceptions of my job performance have no bearing on my actual job performance."

Yeah, this:

Monday, September 12, 2011

Character Soundtracks

The following are some of the tunes I listen to as I create the horrible situations I put the character's through. Some characters evoke some music, other music evokes some characters for me.

Below is a sample for each of the major characters:

Officer Venkman:



Officer Baptiste:



Rankless Wardlaw:



Captain Schrader:




Prometheus' soundtrack:



Mad Morgan:

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Thanks

A thank you to the families of the victims. We cannot know your pain, we can only thank you for the heroes you loved.

A thank you to those that gave all on this day ten years past, and most especially those whose duty it was to enter the whirlwind and save those who, all unknowing,  were in the wrong place when hate thrust its flaming hand into a nation's soul.

Thanks to those that have sacrificed so much in the last ten years, making every effort to assure the freedoms they protect will not die in the flames of religious fanaticism. You have done so much, and continue to do so, for so little.

Thanks to those of you who recognize the heroes today. May you recognize the heroes every day.

After all, they earn it: each and every one, every day they put on uniform and enter the whirlwind on our behalf, to stand between us and harm.

Thanks.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Scroobius Pip

Thanks to Tim Akers for bringing Scroobius Pip to my attention. This is exceptional:



My favorite line:

You see a mousetrap, I see free cheese and a fucking challenge!




Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Cutting Room Floor

As my faithful few know, I am in the midst of a re-write on The Last Captain.  I am in the process of shrinking eight major POV characters down to three. That takes a lot of work, much of it feeling akin to sticking one's hand into a spinning bucket of razor blades.

Below is a section I cut in service to the story. Prometheus is one of my favorite characters, and this one of my favorite scenes. It just didn't work from any other perspective, and he does not serve the story as a POV character, at least not for this book.

Anyway, I had to let folk see what I cut. My ego is like that.

I hope you like:


Prometheus checked the lines of his suit as the limousine rolled toward the meet. The warehouse district wouldn’t have been his first choice for the transaction, but he was the outsider here, and had to accommodate his buyer to some degree.

The limo slowed to a walking pace and several men from his security detail hopped from the lead and chase cars.  They slowly rolled the last few meters to the meet, his hired men conducting a visual check of the area.  Some looked a little less than the professionals he would have preferred for such dealings, but bringing his personal vehicle and driver had been about all he could afford.

He sighed at this obvious sign that he was on his own.  The Syndicate wasn’t behind him on this one, leaving him feeling exposed. He understood why and was making moves to improve his situation, but things simply weren’t as easy since the War came to an end.  Too much talent trained to mayhem out there working for rival organizations and the authorities actually had time for cases involving base criminals instead of chasing The Perfected.  Peace made things harder, and more expensive.   The Syndicate had a history almost as long as the Imperium, and Prometheus believed it was tied too closely with that government to avoid the post-war pains they were suffering. He felt, deep in his old bones, that the Imperium was in the process of disintegrating under its own weight, the War accelerating the collapse.  The Syndicate was refusing to see it, and looked to go down with the ship.

Prometheus planned to carve out a spot for himself here beyond the core worlds.  Keeping his plans quiet from his rivals and cohorts in The Syndicate made it hard to complain to them about being out in the cold.  He’d paid for the trip and the goods with his own money.  Setting up shop had been expensive, but he now had a solid line into the Governor’s office. That had cost him, but after this sale he’d be able to afford some more tech-savvy guard services. Even if the buyer got stupid, there were others.  Finding them would slow Prometheus’ plans a bit, but wouldn’t put an end to them.  

The detail was pretty thorough, but without the technology to detect power sources for the more esoteric of the assassin’s weapons or even a sniper in concealment, it was down to the mark one eyeball and the unprofessional muscle he’d hired.  

Despite his assessment of the quality of his guards, Prometheus knew the motorcade made an impression on the buyer as they came to a stop in front of the warehouse.  The doors were open, but a local-built luxury off road vehicle blocked most of the entrance.  Gilles tried to look like the alpha lounging among his wolves, but only succeeded in looking like another mean mutt in a mangy pack of dogs. Gilles had obviously climbed from street-level talent. The local man’s lip curled in a sneer most likely meant to show his men contempt for the older man’s attention to security.  The four men with him were visibly armed and, in Prometheus’ experienced opinion, trying too hard to look dangerous.

Something troubled the old man as he put his hand to the limo door. Borges stopped and looked up at Gilles, then at the street. There was nothing but the sneer on Gilles’ face to indicate what he was thinking.  The street looked clean, but Prometheus hadn’t lived to his age by ignoring his intuition.  

Balanced against his need to make the sale, safety took a slight hit.  Extemporizing, he popped the door and waved Gilles over without getting out.

Prometheus waited for Gilles to decide whether he wanted to get into the car.  Greed was a bitch, and Gilles took only a beat or two to decide he wanted the goods.  He voted with his feet, walking forward.

“Have a seat, and we can get to it,” Prometheus said.

“What’s up, don’t wanna to get your pretty shoes dirty in the local mud?” Gilles asked, local accent softening the vowels.

Prometheus just stared.  

After a moment the local got into the limo.  Gilles wore some scent that made Prometheus’ nose twitch in irritation as the younger man sat.  Prometheus noted the local making a conscious effort to leave the door open.

“You have the money?” Prometheus asked.

Gilles hitched a thumb at the vehicle blocking the warehouse door, “I do.”

Trying not to sigh, Prometheus pulled the thin case from inside his vest, “Your product. Get your money over here and get your product.”

“Right,” Gilles got out and raised his hand.

The shielded window separating the back of the limo from the front was suddenly painted red with the driver’s blood and brains, the hardened material starring as the round finally stopped.  A heartbeat later Prometheus heard the shot through the open door.  He twitched, the complex muscle movement triggering a number of responses, both in his body and the cortex linked to the car.  Adrenaline made his mouth taste of iron and the world slowed down as store-bought nerves prepared for fight or flight.  Acting on his escape command, the open door of the limo tried to snap closed.  

Gilles didn’t do the smart thing, instead trying to hold the door open as the cortex began to maneuver the car away from the curb. More gunshots rang out, his security detail and the locals exchanging fire.  The hydraulic system for the door wasn’t quite powerful enough to close with Gilles’ bulk holding it open.  Pinned in the door, he started to shout as the vehicle began to drive off, whether in pain or fear, Prometheus didn’t care.  

Prometheus lowered himself below the window level as another penetrator round slammed through the driver’s compartment. Thankfully, the round slowed enough to become trapped in the clear armored partition again.  Several lighter rounds, fired by one side or another in the firefight, pattered against the armored skin of the passenger side near Gilles, failing to penetrate.

Gilles struggled to get in as Prometheus pulled an oddly-shaped pistol from a shoulder rig.  He armed and pointed it at Gilles just as the man maneuvered himself into the back seat. The weapon discharged with a Thup! of compressed air as the door snapped closed behind him.  Gilles shouted with more surprise than pain as the fat projectile thumped into his chest like a heavy punch.  The real pain came a second later when the round activated on contact with his body armor.  The catalysts carried in the round reacted with the polymer and ceramic matrix of the armor, the resulting heat of the reaction boring a fist-sized hole in the armor and a centimeters-deep crater in Gilles’ chest.  

Prometheus felt the heat across the passenger compartment as the local man slumped lifeless to the floor. Smoke curling from his mouth and chest.

The sniper hit the limo again as it rounded the corner.  This time the shot came through the rear driver’s side window shattered the partition and disappeared into the rich upholstery next to Gilles’ corpse.  Prometheus prayed the sniper kept trying for him instead of disabling the car.  Not that the in-wheel four motor design was easy to stop with a few shots, but it could be done.  The battery packs were fairly vulnerable.

Prometheus cursed as the sniper seemed to read his mind. The heavy vehicle juddered as a round entered the rear and interrupted some vital process.  

A second later an internal siren blatted, indicating a major system failure in the cortex driving the vehicle. More smoke, smelling of things that should not burn, belched from the vents. 

Bad sign. Prometheus thought, holstering the borer.

Thinking the sniper was more likely to shoot anyone coming out the driver’s side, Prometheus climbed around Gilles’ still-smoldering corpse and put his hand to the handle.  Thankfully, the cortex was still able to recognize his hand, and popped the door open.  The limo was slowing already, only making about thirty or forty kay.  Still fast enough to break bones or a skull and easily fast enough to stun and render him incapable of evading further.

Best make sure it isn’t my skull then, Prometheus thought.  

He singed his hands grabbing Gilles by the still-hot lapels of his armored jacket. With a powerful surge of the finest muscles money could buy, he heaved Gilles and himself out the door.  The corpse and the old man hit the pavement with a thud.  The ground snatched the corpse-sled from under Prometheus almost immediately, but not before the dead man absorbed a good deal of the force of the impact.  

The sky rolled into view, followed closely by the pavement, then the sky again. Prometheus sucked in a breath, regretted it as something in his chest complained. He got to one knee despite the pain, started to move.  More gunfire from around the corner, followed closely by the high whine of over-stressed motors.

The chase car from his security detail came into view, hurtling past the intersection to slam into the base of pillar supporting a billboard on the far corner of the intersection.

The pillar cracked off the base, coming to rest on its broken support a few meters from the base before slowly toppling forward. Prometheus saw a man toss a long rifle aside and scramble to jump from the falling billboard.   The billboard came down atop the sniper and the vehicle that had destroyed it, crushing the driver’s side and the sniper beneath.

One of Prometheus’ men exited the passenger side of the vehicle, raised his weapon and squeezed off a few rounds back toward the warehouse.  No return fire came his way as he cleared the rear of the vehicle and smoothly crossed to the far side of the street, weapon at high ready.

Prometheus pulled the borer again, watching closely. If Gilles’ men were down and the man had been truly stupid, or merely indecisive, the money might just be in the warehouse or in the big, flashy all terrain vehicle he’d come from. Besides, a ride would get him out of here faster.

Cautiously approaching the corner, Prometheus almost took a few rounds from his own hyper-alert guard.  The man’s lips moved in a silent curse before he returned his attention to the bullet-riddled vehicles and open warehouse doors.  

The security man finished slicing the pie, firing a quick flurry of shots into the warehouse from across the street.  Someone screamed and there was a clatter like a dropped weapon.

Slick. Professional. I take back what I was thinking about the locals, he thought as he watched the other man work, Now if I could just remember his name.

A siren could be heard in the distance as Prometheus’ man retreated behind one of the pillars of the overpass and re-loaded.  

Once the man, whose name would still not come to him, had his weapon up and trained on the door again, Prometheus began to advance.  Doing a little slicing of the pie himself, he moved counterclockwise and in so that he could reveal as much as possible of the warehouse interior and as little of himself to anyone inside before approaching.  It was a tricky maneuver since he didn’t want to cut off his man’s line of sight or make himself a target before he caught sight of any opposition.  He moved as smoothly and fast as possible, trying to remember everything he’d ever been taught way too long ago and still remain loose enough to respond accurately.

A few breathless moments later and he’d determined that there were no longer any live targets in the vehicles or warehouse.  

“Police coming.” 

Prometheus nearly jumped out of his skin as the man spoke.  He hadn’t even heard his approach. 

Recovering, he punched his chin at Gilles’ truck, “Let’s see if that abomination is working.”

“Yes, sir.”

Vytas!  Vytas is his fucking name, Prometheus finally recalled as the man hopped into the driver’s seat and started the truck. Armored, the big utility vehicle was relatively unmarked by the firefight, but loud as hell. Some kind of internal combustion engine and a modified exhaust combined to make the thing snort like a demon.

The limo would be hard to replace, but Prometheus was more than happy to have survived.  Tomorrow was another day, and another deal.  Given the quality of the victims, Prometheus even dared hope for a moment that law enforcement would write this one off without too much thought. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Friday, September 2, 2011

Getting back to A Friend to The Watch has been percolating in the back of my brain...and when I see things like this, it adds to the juice.

Now, to finish The Last Captain.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

About Partners, and The Last Captain

I've had a few partners, some for a few months, others for a few years. The relationship is always intense, and when it's good, can make even the worst work entertaining at the least and insanely fun at best.

I tried to capture some of that in a few places in The Last Captain. Here is something I hope worked:


“True,” Venkman said as he sat in the driver’s seat.

Baptiste followed suit. The bending required by the act of sitting sent a foul belch gurgling up and out.

“Damn,” Venkman said, eyes tearing.

Baptiste smacked his lips, “Yeah. Tasty.”

“You hungry?” Venkman asked when the air had cleared.

His gut churned at the thought, “Not really, my stomach’s still a bit rough from the beers.”  Actually, it’s more likely the sobz I took to kill the alcohol, but that’s just splitting hairs.

“Well, let’s get me something to eat. You know how hunger messes with my cherub-like demeanor.”

Baptiste snorted, “Sure.”

“Then we go see your brother.”

“Damn, you really want me off my feed, don’t you?”

“More for me that way.”

"Fucker."

"Yup."




Sunday, August 28, 2011

Another False Quote From The Last Captain:

“We found we’d woke from a long age of waste and self-aggrandizing hypocrisy, and started to look around for something useful to apply our effort, our minds, our very identity to. We found a worthy place for all and all found worthy endeavor in the establishment of the Council of Man.” -From The Founding, a biography of Silas Chui-Ling by Eileen Castaneda

Friday, August 26, 2011

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Loud Pipes

Ownership And Good Customer Service

About a month ago, I went in to my credit union to take care of some business and see where I was with a loan. I had paid it in full the previous paycheck. I was quite happy about that. Working with the teller, I then re-allocated the cash that had been going toward that loan to other places.

In the end, I didn’t allocate enough to the account that funds are withdrawn from to cover the motorcycle loan. I only learned this today when I had a call from the loan officer at my credit union. She politely informed me I had not made a timely payment.

I was surprised, to say the least. I had funds in another account sufficient to cover the gap, but I found myself getting angry a mistake had been made.

Then I took a deep breath.

It was me that had signed off and approved the allocation. This was not a complex problem requiring an accountant to figure out, so there was no blaming an expert for failing to explain to me that I would fall short in the one account. It was, therefore, my mistake.

I went to the credit union to correct my error, and ended up with the same teller who had helped me the last time. She apologized sincerely and profusely for the error. I told her that it was me that had signed off on the allocation, and should have realized the mistake. I went on to tell her she had nothing to apologize for.

She repeated her apology.

I smiled, “Wasn’t your fault.”

Then we fixed it.

Fixing it, perhaps, took longer than it would have if I were doing it myself and didn’t have to check to make sure everyone was on the same page. Ultimately, though, I was very happy that her customer service skills were more than a match for my sense of ownership.

Recognizing my own hand in things is one of the hardest things I do as a man, a father, and a citizen. It is not objectively rewarding, but man, does owning my shit make it easier to sleep at night.