Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Frustration - or - My Ego Gets Slapped Around

     So I wrote this novel. Even went so far as to get it published and the publisher did a fine job. Let me hang myself by doing my own editing. That's what I wanted so I've no complaints. A few people have read the micro-tome and have found it entertaining, maybe even a good read.

     The original intent was to print up enough copies for my children, grandchildren and a few friends. Call it a dozen or so. Yup, that's all I wanted.

     Then things changed. What the hell, I might even sell a few copies. Why not? The tale wasn't complete gibberish, even threw in a dollop of humor here and there. All in all, worth a few bucks and an evening's reading now and then. It wasn't literature though it occasionally crossed the border. Maybe enough copies would be ordered for me to break even. Maybe turn a profit. Be discovered by Hollywood and made into a thoughtful, well received indie production with Christopher Walken as Uncle Emil and Ethan Hawke as fourteen-year-old Archie. The casting would make little sense but that would only add to the unusual aura of the tale. I'd become a darling of the left-wing press and live the rest of my life being miserable and not knowing why.

     That dream flew out the window when I saw what the books would be priced at; twenty bucks for a paperback, thirty-three for hardcover. Yeah, my novel wasn't all that bad, but worth seven bucks more than something by Jonathon Franzen? Damn, and I so wanted to meet Christopher Walken. The clouds cleared and I saw the truth. The publisher allows me to by copies at a significant discount. That's good. So the only way for my novel to be sold would be by me as the seller. Yeah, that meant many hours at the keyboard establishing a network of friends and/or doing readings with the idea of hawking a few copies. In my mind that equaled working for far less than I could be making flipping burgers at McDonalds. Top that off with a lifelong history of avoiding sales in any way, shape or form. If I have to convince you that you want or need something, then the truth is that you don't really want or need it. Right or wrong, that's the view from this side of my spectacles.

     About then Uncle Emil stepped in with a little wise old man advice, "What in the Sam Hill were you thinking? Didn't you know that was going to happen from the first moment you put Archie on the train down in Minneapolis? Long story short, you buy a few copies, give them to your kids, grandkids and friends and walk away a happy man. You started with nothing, made it happen and got what you wanted. To ask for anything more is to be like the fisherman's wife in the fairy story. They didn't write those tales just to pass the time. To not get the moral is immoral. By-the-by, next time you write a story with me in it, could you make me an inch or two taller?"

     So that's where I sit at the moment, there and at the kitchen counter with the sub-zero wind howling outside.

     P.S. ebook copies are available for $2.99 at Tell them Archie sent you.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Christmas post to Mike the Hairless Werewolf

                                                            Christmas - 2016

     The other day I got to thinking of what Santa Claus did for a living before he grew old, fat and bearded (no doubt inspired by John Prine’s song Jesus - The Missing Years). Also what kind of man dresses in a red and white, fur-trimmed suit? Throw in the global warming consequences of establishing a major manufacturing operation atop an ice field, his anally obsessive, judgmental list making and you’ve got yourself a man bordering on the mentally deranged. Also not too smart. So I did what any normal person would do, fired up the laptop and consulted Wikipedia, the God of All Knowledge (At the top of the page they asked for a donation, then had the gall to say ‘piss on that noise’ had no monetary value).
     There I found all kinds of references to a Polish bishop, the Norse god Odin and what hit me most, the Finnish Christmas figure of Joulupukki, also known as the Christmas Goat. And I thought Santa Claus was weird. Top that off with his outfit of “…tight red leather pants and a tight fur trimmed red leather coat….” I don’t know about you but there’s no way I’d let a goat dressed like a Fire Island hooker down my chimney. And get this; come Christmas Eve in Finland, good ole Joulupukki comes knocking on doors at random and asks, “Are there any well-behaved children here?” That kind of crap happens here in the good ole U.S. of A. and, goat or no goat, he ends up doing five to ten. 
     Sorry, I got sidetracked. You read stuff like that and the idea of Europe being at war, on and off for about three centuries, comes as no surprise. 
     So, what exactly did Santa do for a living before becoming Jolly old St. Nick? Near as I can figure, back in the days of yore he was some kind of mythological herdsman floating in the sky up there with the aurora borealis.  Years later he found employment as a Viking mercenary sailing the seas in his ship named, “I’ve got a Little Something for You.” (While searching fruitlessly for the Norwegian translation I came on this and couldn’t resist - “Luftputefartoyet mitt er fulltar al”- which translates as “My hovercraft is full of eels” - which is close enough for me.)
     In the late sixteenth century S. Claus could be found posing nude as a model for background cherubs in the heyday of the Italian Renaissance. Yup, those happy days put the jolly in old St. Nick. It was in Florence after an evening’s tryst that Santa’s red suit was born. A little mixup in the guest bedroom and Claus frolicked out the door in Cardinal Guanella’s cape.
     After a lover’s spat with Oscar Wilde in 1898, he took up acting and starred in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado as Yum-Yum with rave reviews. Santa moved to New York City in 1912, sailing aboard the Titanic as the Countess of Rothes. A spat with George M. Cohan over the lyrics to “Yankee Doodle Was a Dandy” got him blackballed on Broadway. For the next year he made a living standing outside Macy’s with a red bucket scoring spare change and waiting for Natalie Wood to show up. An opportunity in the mailroom at Coca Cola led to him posing for Haddon Sundblom and the modern image of Santa was born. No longer satisfied with the peanuts of posing and hustling envelopes, Santa moved into the advertising end of the business and for a while, ruthlessly ran Coca Cola Asia. It was he who first realized those tiny little fingers could work magic with any task set before them and do it for a bowl of rice and a bowl of opium a day. In Bangkok, Santa is still known as the Red Swine. Finally, in 1953 he fled to the North Pole where he now lives in exile with an old woman and the few remaining Munchkin’s from The Wizard of Oz. 
     Additional research is needed for the above.

                                        Merry Christmas from Uncle Emil


Friday, November 11, 2016

Bike Ride

     This morning there was a collision in my head. Seems global warming ran right into the original, movie version of Frankenstein. I don’t know how these things happen to me but they do. All the time. Not so much at the cabin where the roads I bike are sand and gravel. There, it’s hard to think straight when my lungs are sucking air like there’s no tomorrow. But pavement? Yeah.
     The question of why so many people in this country can’t see climate change as being even remotely possible has me puzzled. Phrases like “prepare for the worst, hope for the best,” come to mind. Also, the Bible and Joseph interpreting Pharaoh’s dream. When times are good, prepare for when they’re bad. Simple, common sense.
     Then the movie Frankenstein popped into my head. Truth is I have a fair idea where such thoughts come from. Yup, I blame it on my Uncle Emil, the man who sees the sense behind the absurd.
     You see, there was this scientist. Cutting edge man of learning. Smart enough and talented enough to make himself a real, live man from spare body parts. How many people could do that? Also, how many people had the money and the stone castle necessary for such an  enterprise? Well, Herr Frankenstein did. And also had himself a new bride. If you’ve seen the movie you know what I mean. Yeah, she was hot (in a 1930s kind of way). Just the opposite of the mish-mash Victor had hidden down in the basement. There’s a moral in there for those willing to ferret one out.
     Anyhow, things happen, Adam (that being the monster’s name) runs off and throws a little girl in a lake just ’cause the two of them ran out of daisies. That sure wasn’t nice. Adam wanders on, finds himself a blind hermit, takes up smoking cigars and finds a liking for violin music. I can understand Adam’s fondness for tobacco but my ears have never been drawn to fiddle music (except in a Cajun band). Push comes to shove, the villagers develop an attitude ’cause of the little girl and the next thing you know the pitchforks and torches come out. Oddly enough they corner Adam in a windmill, fire up the place and the loss of local wind power blacks out half the village. Kind of ironic.
     So that’s what I see is behind our lack of serious action toward climate change. About half of us just don’t trust scientists and their research even though they’ve given us such life changing improvements like polyester double knits and graphite shafted golf clubs. Also, about ten million other things we literally can’t live without (a fair number of which have contributed to climate change. Ain’t that ironic?).
     Anyhow, the temperature was above normal on my ride this morning just like it has for the last couple of weeks or years for that matter. 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Almost Done

     Seventeen reads and re-reads. You'd think I could recite my novel "Between Thought and the Treetops" by heart but I can't. Some parts still take me by surprise. Emil would put the blame on my weakening brain and I suspect he's right.
     My editor is the problem. No doubt about it. I thought the stories were fine from the get-go and didn't want anyone to lay their grubby hands on my words, so I decided to self-edit. That did no good. Even though my editor and I occupied the same brain there was a continual battle going on. Re-read by re-read I relented, beaten into a corner. Compromise after compromise with that little voice telling me "it's all about the reader." Hah! Maybe I should have asked, "What reader?" 
     Anyhow, it's done. At least that's my hope. By December I should have a copy in my hands.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Here We Go Again

     3:48am.  Had another dream, woke up and couldn't fall back asleep.  Me and the Deans were out fishing.  Usually water dreams mean it's time to get up and pee but this one was different. You know the Deans if you've read the Deadman Lake blog.  There we were in two motor boats, gear and us in chest waders.  Must've been down south as we were heading up what looked to be a bayou surrounded by swamp.  For no apparent reason both boats sank in the shallow water.  Me and L. Dean were up in the lead boat chest deep and standing on the gunwales.  L. pulls out some kind of electronic device and sends out a signal to who knows where. Think he was trying to call his brothers out in space in the hope they'd came save him.  Next tries a cell phone with garbled results.  Yeah, L. is hooked to the electronic universe but at the moment, does us no good.  Oh me, oh my.  Then, from the opposite direction comes another boat.  The young man aboard doesn't seem to think our predicament is all that dire as over to our left about a quarter mile slog away lies the town.  There are none so blind as those who will not see.  Yup, that was us alright.  So me and L. start slogging out.  Have to stumble our way over an ancient forest of jagged submerged trees.  L. does a tumble 'cause he's trying to go too fast and gets messed up a little bit.  Not bad, just a little bit.  So we make it into town and go bowling.  Bowling?  What kind of crap is that?  Young lady at the desk is all pissed off 'cause she's got to fire up the lanes just so us two idiots can bowl.  L. starts out like everything's all fine.  Doesn't bowl all that good so I give him a few pointless pointers.  Me, I kind of mosey around a bit before rolling a ball.  One roll, one strike.  Second roll and pins start playing games with me, fallen' down, gettin' back up.  Then the lane gets shut off.  Other people start to trickle in.  Even a man used to work with.  Didn't hang out with him, just worked together.  Nice enough man but seemed to float around on the surface.  Remember Jung, all the people in dreams are simply different aspects of ourselves.
     So I laid there in bed mulling it over.  How the dream told me I was feeling about trying to publish a book of these Emil stories.  Got me thinking of Emil's cabin and how he wanted it to be made as much as possible from his own materials.  Came to realize once again I didn't write the stories.  I'm just an intermediary, the mouth.  At the moment I do this through these blogs.  Like Emil having his trees turned to lumber by the sawmill.  But they were his trees and it was his thought, his design and labor that built the cabin.  Just him and his nephew.
     Truth be know - to me mostly - I don't want to bring in outsiders to publish my words.  All I want is to write.  It's like daydreaming in print.  Do it for my own enjoyment.  And a chance to see myself in the mirror if I pay close enough attention.  Blogging is embarrassingly public enough but at least lets me pretend no one is looking or reading (pretty close to accurate).
     I'll see how I feel in the morning.

     Morning: ditto.  Sent off a letter to H.  Hope she takes it well.


Friday, April 29, 2016

To a T

     Sent an e-mail the other day in which I used the phrase 'to a T' (was informed it was an idiom.  Made me nervous as that word's awful close to idiot, which is even more close to the truth).  My e-mail followed the T with (tee, tea?).  Lame attempt at humor.  H - we don't know each other well enough for me to involve H in this drivel - sent me a site to click on that ran me through the history of the phrase (idiom).  My interest piqued (peeked, peaked?), I did further research and figured the weight of speculation ran back to the time of the King James Bible and its use of the word tittle, as in 'not one jot or tittle'.  Over time the word was shortened to T, meaning to hit the nail on the head and also to keep the grammar police from working overtime.  The shape of the T got me thinking of the cross and Christ being nailed to it.  Read somewhere that back in the day when crucifixion was the thing to do the typical cross was shaped like a capital T not a lower case t.  'Course that brings up the controversy of whether Christ was roped or nailed to the cross and I don't want to go there.
     All by the by till I recalled the days of my youth when I used to closely follow football.  Came to remember one of the premier pro quarterbacks, name of Y. A. Tittle (coincidence?).  Think he went by that moniker 'cause his full name was Yelvington Abraham Tittle.  I figure it was shortened to his initials to allow the TV announcers to spit his name out before the start of the next play.  Anyhow, Tittle played back in the days when the T formation was in vogue.  Tittle was one heck of a passer.  Most of his flings were works of art, perfection.  His throws usually hit the receiver on the button which suited the fans to a T.  Top that off with Abraham being in the King James Bible and you've got yourself something to ponder.
     Emil: "Yeah, it's drivel alright."

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


       It's 3:14am.  Not sure if it's early or late.  Seems like it's more likely early as it's pretty dark outside the window.  Had a dream and couldn't go back to sleep.  If you've read this blog you know that I dream.  They tell me things.  Mostly about myself.  Also offer an occasional, tantalizing eggplant recipe.  Should I wake, find myself rollin' it over and over, there's no way I'm going back to sleep unless I rise and write it down.  So that's what I'm sittin' here doing.
     Anyhow, I was writing novels for publication.  Had written two and sent them off to a publisher.  Can't say I was happy about their content.  Sister Eleanor Marie would have called them too cut and dried and I knew it was true.  No meat.  Then got this idea for at least three more stories taken from back page newspaper articles that'd run serial-like for several days.  Put them together and flesh them out.  Voila!  Story.  Then talked the idea over with some co-workers.  Came to realize how personal I'd have to get to make the stories real.  Next found myself interviewing the family from one of the stories.  Conflicting views and emotion from all sides yet each was based on truth.  Said "there's as many sides to a story as there are to a circle."  Just inside and out or infinite in number?  Gave it some thought and felt both were right.
     A few months ago my granddaughter Mollie simply said to me, "You're Uncle Emil."  Thought of it in bed after the dream and got me thinking.
     Earlier in the evening I'd reread some of the earlier Emil and Deadman Lake entries.  Altogether there's enough strange humor in them to flesh out several stories.  Thought of the last Emil story 'The Walk' and felt it could be made into something like Bradbury's "The Illustrated Man."  Instead of Emil on the hike it's Archie.  Reminisces on scenes of his life and tales told as he walks the woods.
     Not sure yet how the dream and the story idea fit together but somehow they do.
     Been contacted by an editor from Beaver's Pond about my story.  Her name is Hanna.  Good name. Hope she can see the merit of printed idiocy.
     Worked up and scared.  Yup that sums me up nicely.  I need help, lots of help.  Or maybe it's much ado about nothing (read that somewhere).