Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Ox is Slow But the Earth is Patient

I heard that line in a movie somewhere, sometime: it wasn't one of mine. I snorted at the time I first heard it I think, but I never forgot it. Forgot the movie though. The line sorta kinda describes my state of writing being right now. Slow, slow, slow. Dragon book is stuck in the muck of my not so creative mind these days and it seems I will seize upon any and every excuse not to write. "I have to do laundry. My acid reflux is too much. I need a nap. I have to look over the Christmas decorations and see what is usable." Blah, blah, blah. I do hope the earth really is patient. Just call me OX.

So here's some other great lines from movies that resonate with my un-a-mused state and stagnating manuscript:
"Game over, man. Game over! What the f-k are we gonna do now, man?" (Aliens)
"Ask yourself, Do I feel lucky? Well do ya, punk?" (Dirty Harry)
"You'll shoot your eye out kid." (A Christmas Story)
"Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn." (Gone With The Wind)
"I have a bad feeling about this." (Star Wars)
We'll always have Paris." (Casablanca)
"I'll have what she's having." (When Harry Met Sally)
"Come with me if you want to live." (Terminator)
"Show me the money." (Jerry Maguire)
"I'll make him an offer he can't refuse." (The Godfather)

I am imagining a scene with my muse as we sit across a battered table from each other looking over my sad 180 pages. It is late at night and raining.
MUSE: (shaking his head) That's it? That's all ya got, kid?"
ME: )pointing at the manuscript) I have a bad feeling about this. Its going nowhere. Maybe I should just try to write vampire books with silly shallow teenagers and one dimensional characters and no real action.
MUSE: (nodding) Don't forget the bad dialogue and too much narration. Like that nice Myer girl. Made a zillion bucks last year I hear. Everybody loves Edward it seems.
ME: Yeah, I'll have what she's having. Show me the money. I wish. But, I can't write that sort of stuff. So, I guess its just game over, game over, man. What the f-k am I gonna do now, man?
MUSE: Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn. I'm going to Disneyworld to hang out with Tinker Belle.
ME: No, don't leave me. How will I write without you?
MUSE: (shrugging) Well, we'll always have Paris.
ME: What does that mean? We've never been to Paris. We'll always have rewrites, though. If you just don't give up on me.
MUSE: (Pointing to my desk and laptop.) Oh okay, come with me if you want to write. Sit down there at your desk and ask yourself, do I feel lucky? Well, do ya punk? Just listen to what I say and you'll write your heart out, kid.
ME: (eagerly)Go ahead, make my day!
MUSE: Okay, kid, I'm gonna make you an offer ya can't refuse.

* * *

I am ready for my close up, Mr DeMille. But, my manuscript isn't. And the damn muse is cavorting with Tinker Belle I think.

Live long and prosper. (Star Trek)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Shut up Whoos, Bah Humbug, and all that gobble gobble...

Well, my little Bloggers, it looks like the holidays are fast approaching again. Sorry to say, this year the Christmas girl just ain't feelin' the love. Never mind that its still in the 80s two weeks before Thanksgiving which always makes it a stretch to imagine Santa and the reindeer and Frosty et all...right now I just can't summon up the magic no how. I feel like the Grinch nervously drumming his fingers and saying, "I must find a way to stop Christmas from coming!"

Now granted last Christmas wasn't one I remember with fondness. It was just stress stress stress. That could be part of the issue I'm having contemplating a new one coming. Last year, I somehow got committed to hosting two big parties in one week which put me into a mondo decorating frenzy as early as Thanksgiving. By bed time on the evening of the second party I was suffering from a major nosebleed that I feared wouldn't stop, but fortunately did in thirty minutes. Several times in December I had stressful encounters with ex-family that harshened my mellow. And like pretty much everyone last year, I was actively worried about the worsening recession and political atmosphere in our country. Unlike most folks, the promises of change made by President Elect Obama did not fill me with a whole lot of hope, although there was perhaps a tiny spark inside that said, "Well, maybe this time..."

Flash forward a year. Change to the nation has not come. Washington DC is still full of the usual hot air, special interest manipulation, pork, and chaos. Partisanship trumps good sense. I doubt there will be much 'goodwill to men' in the halls of power. Locally, the same folks who were out of work last year at this time still are. The housing market has continued to worsen till the majority of homes with for sale signs are short sales and foreclosures. For those who need or want to sell, drop your asking price several HUNDRED thousand from what it would have been back in 2005...big ouch. We are still at war in Iraq and in Afghanistan and we are not winning. Those of you out there in Blogland who believe that the health care bill passed by the House will pass the Senate and if it does will actually provide better, cheaper, and more available health care for all, raise your hands. I don't see any hands raised from where I sit. And how's your investment portfolio these days? Retirement looking good? Seen any bailout money trickle down to your neighbors, friends, and community? Yes, we can? Uh, maybe not.

So, where's the hope and love we're all supposed to feel at this time of year?

Now, while I am grousing and I know I am, I also count my personal blessings. For now, I have an income. I can keep my home. As far as I know, I have no dread diseases. My kids are happy, healthy, grown up, self sufficient, and have beautiful children of their own to create the Christmas magic for. Publix has egg nog ice cream and peppermint bark is appearing in the stores again. I am looking forward to getting out of town the week between Christmas and New Years and hopeful that the change will jump start my enthusiasm fro 2010.

I'm also gonna take it easier over the holidays. Doing the party for Rollins (for the second and last year) but not doing my personal party (only the 3rd time skipping it in 30 years thus far). Not decorating as much as usual inside or out. 'Grinchy Nancy' is not even gonna light the luminarias on the neighborhood light up night this year. That one because I am still angry at my neighbors over the RV left in the driveway overnight gonna turn you into Code Enforcement thing. My neighbors aren't particularly friendly 364 days a year so I've had it with the faky holiday cheer from them. (For those of you who don't live in Florida, unfriendly neighbors are the usual thing in a place traditionally transient.)

So, bah humbug. That's what I'm feeling.Somebody else carve the roast beast this year. I'm tired. Sorry but that's the way it is.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Random Acts of Violence

2009: We live in violent times, no matter where we live. Every day reports of calculated or random and senseless acts of hatred and violence are reported on the TV news, in the papers, and online. We avidly watch violence acted and re-inacted in teleplays and movies and video games. Husbands kill estranged wives, wives kill estranged husbands. Parents kill their babies. Children are abducted, raped, and murdered. People are tortured and blown up in the name of Allah or because they worship Allah. People kill other people for greed, in displaced anger, and sometimes for no reason that anyone can discern. To some degree, we have become desensitized to violence. We say "What a shame" then shrug and go out to dinner. It doesn't seem quite real. Not until there is some connection that makes it seem real.

Yesterday, a man shot multiple people at Ft. Hood in Texas. I hate to admit this, but I said, "What a shame" and turned the news channel to a show on Home and Garden Network. It didn't hit home. But, today, just before lunch, a forty year old man named Mark Rodriquez entered an office building at the Gateway Center just fifteen minutes from my home near Orlando and opened fire on the workers at an architectural firm, Reynolds, Smith and Hill. Six people were badly injured. One has died thus far. All of a sudden, the senseless violence became very personal. When I saw the news, I felt like I'd been kicked in the gut. I locked my doors. I suddenly felt unsafe.

I know the area. I know people who work there and live nearby. I drive past that building frequently. My lawyers' office is on the top floor. I wondered if he was a victim. The prep school my daughter attended is within walking distance. Police locked it down. A hotel that many friends have stayed in is across the street. The building where the crime occurred is not in a slum or area generally considered unsafe. I was reminded, as I sat glued to the TV for the next hour and a half, that no place is guaranteed safe anymore.

Here's another recent example. On Halloween night within walking distance of my home a middle aged man finished dinner with a female companion at an upscale restaurant along Park Avenue. As he made his way to his car, two men in Halloween costumes accosted him and attempted a robbery. Apparently the victim resisted and he was repeatedly stabbed with knives. He is still in the hospital and the perps remain at large.

Today's apparent nutcase was identified by an office worker and apprehended after several hours by OPD at his mother's apartment east of the city. He told police he did it because, "They left me to rot." He was referring, as far as I can tell, to having been fired or laid off two years ago by the company. Times are hard. I feel for the folks who have it tough. But that hardly justifies murder. I feel no sympathy for Mark Rodriquez. Whatever his troubles were he made the choice to do evil. His statement shows a lack of personal responsibility. Maybe he's just plain nuts. Nobody knows yet. But, he took at least one life in anger. I hope he gets justice and that the justice is harsh.

As for me, I was lucky not to have an errand at 1000 Legion Place this morning. I was lucky not to be out to dinner on Park Avenue on Halloween. I am grateful that my kids and Danny were safely somewhere else today when Mark Rodriquez made the choice to take out his personal agenda out on innocent people with a smoking gun. We were all lucky. This time. Six other people weren't lucky. Tomorrow, it may be my turn. My family's turn. Or your family's turn. In 2009, we live in violent times.

Here's a weird postscript: About the time the shootings occurred and the perp was racing away in his SUV, I was out walking my Rottweiler/Catahoula dog, Abby. She is the 'sensitive' one in the Mutley Crew. It was a beautiful sunny peaceful day. All of a sudden, she jumped up in the air, looked around, tucked tail and literally dragged me home. She was so upset, I didn't try to stop her. Probably totally coincidental, but from now on I am going to pay attention to her reactions to things much more closely.

That's all for now friends. Orlando's most recent killer is behind bars. The soldier run amok in Texas is behind bars. But, who knows what other snipers and killers, and robbers are lurking in dark corners? In conclusion, as they said on Hill Street Blues, "Be careful out there." Watch your backs. Be alert. Always. Good night, and good luck.