Sunday, August 26, 2012

More Funday Sunnies

Artwork from Crankshaft; dialogue by me.

Artwork from Mark Trail; dialogue by me

making gifs
George Stover: Not just an actor but a fine dancer as well!
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Friday, August 17, 2012

Terrible writing advice from some washed-up old bastard

T. Texas Tenafly, author of Write, Goddamn You!

T. Texas Tenafly is, if nothing else, one of our most persistent authors. Despite a noticeable lack of public interest or critical acclaim, he has completed a novel every year since 1952. Through harassment and bullying techniques many loan sharks would envy, the author has even persuaded several reputable publishers to print and market some of these little-demanded works. Among these are such novels as The Gelded Gifthorse, They Dared Call Him Turncoat, and Elysium on a Tramp Steamer. Total sales number in the dozens. Now rapidly approaching his 80th year, Mr. Tenafly is getting set to publish his first-ever non-fiction book, a guide for aspiring authors entitled Write, Goddamn You! A Seasoned Pro Shows You How It's Done, Little Missy. Inspired by this BuzzFeed article, I recently asked Tex to give the readers of this blog (all none of you) a few basic pointers about the writing game. At first he was reluctant, but a bottle of Old Grand-Dad sealed the deal. Here, then, is a list of terrible, terrible pointers from this utterly irrelevant writer. Heed them at your peril.

1. Identify your favorite character and remove him (her/it/etc.) from the manuscript entirely. Replace this character with one towards whom you are indifferent.
2. Name all your characters "Steve." No exceptions. Can you think of a better name than Steve? No, you can't. 
3. Whenever you have your characters speaking, they should be silent. When they are silent, they should be speaking. 
4. You can never go wrong with a story about a spearfishing expedition. It was as true 50 years ago as it is today! 
5. Writer's block, schmiter's block! What, you never heard of a Xerox machine?
6. The more you like a paragraph, the worse it probably is. Edit the hell out of your manuscript, carefully weeding out the phrases you actually enjoy, until you loathe every last passage in it. Only then will it be fit for publication. 
7. Get that word count up, bucko! Remember: the longer your book is, the better a weapon it'll be when it's printed. 
8. Writing is a three-way battle between God, the Devil, and Al Roker going on 24-7 in the author's brain. Or maybe that's just a side effect of the medicine I've been taking. Who knows?
9. No writer should be without a bottle of Old Grand-Dad. It won't help you get any writing done, but you won't give a damn either. Speaking of which, where is that bottle you promised me? 
10. What do you mean I already drank it? This is some bull$#!+, I tell ya!
And there you have it, folks. Ten surefire pointers guaranteed to prevent you from wasting years of your life on a writing career. Don't thank me now. Thank me when you've moved out of your parents' house and find a job at an investment firm.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The best dream I ever had

Ike and Tina Turner: Reunited in dreamland

Ike and Tina's imaginary tobacco farm
I'm a reporter for Rolling Stone, and I am sent to interview Ike and Tina Turner. Ike, somehow, is still alive and well. Tina is as beautifully-preserved as you might imagine her to be. In fact, in their golden years, Ike and Tina have put aside their differences and remarried and are now tobacco farmers in Georgia. I visit them at their farm, and the mood is very tranquil and happy. I know dreams are supposed to be in black-and-white, but this one has a very definite color scheme. Everything looks like a faded photograph. If you've ever seen the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?, you have a good idea of what it looks like at the Turner tobacco farm. They serve me dinner. It's good,hearty Southern cuisine. Afterwards, we sit out on the porch at sundown. Ike picks up an old, nearly-worn-out guitar and begins strumming the cords to, you guessed it, "Proud Mary." He begins singing, and his voice is as deep and strong as ever. After a few bars, Tina joins in and sounds exactly like you want her to sound. They do the whole song in the "nice and easy" style you hear at the beginning of the recording. There is no horn section here, naturally, so they can't really do the "nice and rough" part. I'm the only audience member, and I applaud when the song is done. Ike says he and Tina never perform in public anymore but still sing a little around the house. I thank them for their hospitality, get in my car and head to my next destination.

The dream continues.

Sonny & Cher: Destined for each other.
I am now driving on a desert highway in one of the Western states, possibly Arizona. My destination? A roadside convenience store now run by Sonny and Cher, who have also remarried. Sonny, like Ike, has somehow escaped death but does not seem to be doing as well as Ike. He seems troubled and serious, while Cher seems pleasant but distracted. The Bonos' store is very isolated in a desolate landscape, and everything here looks like a scene from No Country for Old Men. (Yes, I realize that both halves of this dream look like Coen Brothers movies.) Business is slow. Sonny works the register and keeps the books. Cher stocks the shelves, tidies up a bit, and chats up the few customers who come in. They live in a little house further back on the same piece of property. The store and the house, in fact, are the only two structures visible for miles around. (NOTE: I am almost positive this detail was inspired by The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, in which Leatherface's brother also operates a nearby gas station/barbecue pit.) After S&C shut down the store for the day (total receipts being less than $10), they take me back to the house. It's a mess. Dishes are piled up in the sink, and there are old magazines and newspapers stacked everywhere. They must have about 10 cats, and the animals move about the house with impunity. It is as much their home as the Bonos'. Cher staggers off to do whatever she does, and Sonny starts to confide in me. He's scared to death of Cher. If she forgets to take her pills, she "goes crazy." I notice that there are pill bottles strategically located throughout the home, presumably so Sonny can reach them and give them to Cher whenever he has to. But Sonny lives this way because he truly loves Cher and wants to take care of her.

I cannot tell you more because it's at this point that I wake up.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Are YOU in a "zombie" relationship? 5 ways to know for sure!

This relationship has obviously sunk. See what I did there? Oh, the fun never stops on this blog!

Hello out there, lovelorn readers!

Over the years, we living impaired have often served an allegorical purpose in society. Simply put, people like to use zombies to "represent" various ideas. We're walking, groaning, brain-eating metaphors for a lot of writers. In the hands of someone like George Romero, for instance, we can represent any troubling social or political trend which happens to be bothering him at the time. Personally, I don't mind this at all. Given a choice between being a metaphor and being a target, I'll choose metaphor every time.

It is in that spirit that I present the following list. Readers, take an honest inventory of your current relationship with your spouse or significant other. Is it thriving and healthy or is it shambling along in a mindless state, devouring all it its path in a wanton orgy of bloodlust? Read these following tell-tale signs to see if you're in a "zombie" relationship.

1. Verbal cues 

What sorts of things does your partner typically say to you? If your answer was along the lines of "I love you" or  "please pass the salt," you have nothing to fear as you are in a healthy relationship. However, if your answer was more like "The very sight of you makes my flesh crawl!" or "One step further and I'll shoot!" you clearly have a problem.

2. Body language

Does your partner still like to hold your hand? Do you enjoy snuggling up close to each other on the couch? If so, these are healthy signs. On the other hand, if your partner frequently vomits in your presence or cowers in a corner the moment you enter a room, this could be a point of concern. Another troubling sign is running. Naturally, jogging is a great way to stay in shape, but if your boyfriend or girlfriend runs away from you at speeds approaching those of Jesse Owens at the 1936 games, your relationship may well be headed for rocky times.

Like this one!
3. Use of technology

How often does your lover send you e-mails or text messages? Several times daily? Good! However, if your significant other has recently deleted all his or her social media accounts, stopped answering e-mails, and disposed of all cell phones and computers in an industrial-strength trash compactor -- and has done so without telling you -- this may be an indication of potential strife.

4. Weaponry

Does your significant other have a sizable arsenal containing various weapons, like guns, knives, swords, throwing stars, and crossbows? If so, this is not necessarily cause for alarm. Your partner may be merely a hobbyist with a strong interest in these fearsome objects. However, if he/she will not discuss this arsenal with you -- and yet uses you for target practice anyway -- it may be time to move on.

5. Separate checks please...

It's important for couples to spend time with each other, but "togetherness" has its limits. Many successful couples find it healthy to engage in activities apart from one another. Some very contented partners even prefer sleeping in separate beds or taking separate vacations. But if your spouse or significant other insists on separate continents, separate hemispheres, or separate tectonic plates, you may want to reconsider your relationship.

Readers, I urge you to study these signs carefully and think about them in terms of your own life. Does this sound like you? If so, perhaps there is a relationship in your life which needs a blast of buckshot right between the eyebrows. You can thank me later.