Archive | August 2013

Get Out the Way (Sorry, Ludacris, I Had to Clean It Up)

I have been trying to get hold of someone at the local public library in order to set up an “author meet and greet” to promote my book (soon to be books). I need to try harder. Why don’t I? I am afraid of being told I’m annoying and to flake off (I don’t think a librarian would drop an F Bomb on me. Not above a whisper, anyway).  I remember as a kid being told not to pester the adults and if I didn’t stop asking, I wouldn’t get what I want. You kind of carry that stuff around in life.

other side of fear

This pretty much says it

The positive side of “What if” can lead to imaginative solutions to current world problems, the creation of worlds (think Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Star Wars, Star Trek. Don’t think about Twilight. Just don’t).  The negative side of “What if” can throw giant obstacles on the path to achieving something. Obstacles that only exist in our brains, but they’re big ones.  Boulders.

I took snorkeling and scuba diving for Phys Ed credits in college (I also took judo. I just wanted to do something different from what everyone else was doing). There was a test that had to passed to be allowed to take the scuba part of the course: One a single breath, we had to swim the width of the pool at the bottom while clearing our masks (which you do by exhaling through your nose into the mask. Not fun). I was convinced I couldn’t do it and waited until the last possible day.

I passed. It wasn’t that bad, really. And I have been scuba diving in the Florida Keys and the Bahamas. Haven’t been in over 20 years, but I did get over myself and my fears and got to where I wanted to be.


Can’t go wrong with The Cos

This week, Wednesday the 28th, specifically, marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington which included Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Just a couple of months before, Medgar Evers had been gunned down in his driveway. People protesting for equal rights in the US had been beaten (more than a few murdered), arrested, had fire hoses, and police dogs set on them, but still kept moving forward. If I had been of the right age back then, I don’t know if I would have had the same courage.



Yes, this is a Tarot card. It is the Two of Wands.  I asked an expert for an interpretation (one person had told me it was about “getting out of your own way”) and got this response: “For me, this cards energy is personal boldness, power and personal courage.”

I have taken great leaps in my life, some have succeeded (I graduated law school. My grades weren’t great, but I do get to put “Esq.” after my name). Some have failed miserably (don’t ask about my love life. Still nerving myself up to try THAT again). Acting career where I win 5 Oscars? Not so much.  But, I have “gotten over myself” and gotten to places where I wanted to be. Like California, And shaking hands with George Clooney (and making the man laugh. It may have been just to be polite, but dammit, I got a laugh out of him). Doing background work on “The West Wing.” I got out of my own way (okay, I had SOME acting success).


(What? Like I was going to leave out Indy? Nuh uh)

“Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” Indy has to make his way through booby traps (he’s good at that stuff) to save his father. The last is “the leap from the lion’s head.”  “Only in the leap will he prove his worth.”


Always let Steven Spielberg have the last word.

My First Ever Book Signing!

That’s right: I will be signing (and selling) the paperback edition of These Foolish Things! Whee!


This is the book….

author photo

And this is me.

September 7, 2013

The Green Door Gallery

207 N Broadway (The Santora Buidling)

Santa Ana, CA  92701

From 5 PM to 6:30 PM.

I will be accepting cash or charge (no checks)

This is Me Procrastinating

I am part of the Goodreads* Author Program. I posted a question in the Author Feedback group today: how do you procrastinate. By the way, a lot of the answers concerned Facebook, Pinterest, patting dogs, online shopping (uh oh)  and reading blogs (like this one. More people should read this blog). Mine was “scrubbing grout.” It’s an ongoing project and a good mindless task. Done right, by the end of it, you can think through and solve problems in plot, character development and dialogue. And have clean grout. scrubbing grout

It’s also a good upper-body workout.  Scrub grout.

Scrubbing grout had worked for me solving a couple of language problems. If you saw Monday’s post “‘Tis Pity You’re an Inarticulate Moron,” I told two stories about how two Alex Rodriguez supporters had taken offense to something I’d written about their hero and they’d both called me “whore” in an attempt to inflict a wound/silence me and I had written about the choice of the term with respect to gender politics.

Back when I was writing These Foolish Things, one of the pivotal scenes was one where Ty Hadley. Elizabeth Gardner’s love interest, was trying to convince her to let him see her naked. “You are beautiful to me,” he says.

Well, I had him say it initially.  But it bugged me. I didn’t know why. Another cup of coffee didn’t enlighten me and I knew that any more would have led to jitters which are NOT conducive to solving problems in writing. I dug out my rubber gloves and the scrub brush and set to work solving the problem. And cleaning a bathtub.

I suppose this is a Zen kind of method of solving a problem; solve it by not trying to solve it. My theory is that while you’re focused on the mindless activity like scrubbing grout, part of your mind has called a meeting like Ed Harris in “Apollo 13.”

ed harris

Gene Krantz tells the assembled neurons and synapses that failure is not an option.

While the writer goes on a grubby grout search and destroy mission (and the more stubborn patches become a point of resentment. They may even get names and show up as antagonists in the book), Ed Harris and his committee are solving the problem of getting your language all the way back to Earth without it burning up in the atmosphere. (Wow, that was blended).

In this case, just about the time that I was bearing down on that one patch I had named “Bucky Dent” (If you know Red Sox history, you know the reference), the answer came to me:

I had a man who was in love with this woman qualify his declaration of love by saying, “You are beautiful TO ME.”

A ha! Two words. Two common words and they undercut the sentiment, even if I did have Joe Cocker singing in my head as I wrote it.

(Stick with me, folks; We’re going down the rabbit hole) Those two words implied that although he thought Liz was beautiful, other people might disagree. “To me” says “Although I have said this thing, I have considered the possible judgment of others and acknowledge that my assessment may be inaccurate.”

No. No no no; if a man is IN LOVE (capital letters), he is not going to consider what someone else MAY or MAY NOT think about his love and whether they’d agree with him. Let’s be honest; they’re men and as Robin Williams has said, “God gave men a brain and a penis and only enough blood to operate one at a time.”  A man, in love, is going to say, to think, to feel, “You are beautiful.” End of discussion.

So I washed Bucky Dent down the drain, took off the rubber gloves and removed those two words. And when I looked upon what I had done, I saw that it was good.

Bucky Dent never reappeared, by the way.

 I am currently writing the prequel to These Foolish Things, The Baldie Chronicles. (so far, 51 pages, 17,671 words. However, given the compression rate I experienced with At Last, this would probably work out to about 5 pages. Yes, I am still that bitter). Our heroine, Liz, is confronting someone who doesn’t like her relationship with Millie Wentworth, Liz’s best friend and soul sister. The antagonist has asked, “Who is she, your lesbian lover?”

I started with Liz snarling at the woman, “How dare you insult my guest like that?”

Well, wait a minute. Something there isn’t sitting well. Where are the rubber gloves?

As the floor got my attention (and a particularly dirty section of grout I named “Alex Rodriguez”), Ed Harris and the rocket scientists were working away on solving the problem.

They told me: “Why would being called a lesbian be an insult?”

That one made me stop what I was doing.  The antagonist may look down upon gay people. She is certainly angry at Liz and at Millie, who seems to be getting what she, the antagonist, wants (and no spoilers just yet). However, the thrust of the remark is directed at someone she considers an outsider to the family interfering with what she (okay, fine, it’s Liz’s Aunt Melissa Raymond) thinks should be hers.

Liz Gardner is a decent person who just doesn’t give a tinker’s damn about someone’ race, ethnicity, sexuality or religion. This being the case, then, why would she support the notion that calling someone a lesbian is an insult? It’s no more an insult than calling someone from Texas an Oklahoman; it’s a misidentification and not an insult unless the receiver makes it one. Or the friend of the recipient.

In the present case, well, this is how I resolved it:

“No, Elizabeth. Your uncle and I are baffled at your actions over the past few months and we demand answers. What the hell is going on?”

Liz took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. She looked to Millie for a moment and Melissa caught the look. She pointed at Millie.

“Her? You’d cut out your own family? What is she, your lesbian lover?”

“Hey!” from Millie.

Liz walked over to Melissa and grabbed her arm. “Out you go.” She tried to pull her to her feet. Melissa refused to budge.

“I am not going anywhere until I get answers.”

Liz lost her temper. “Look, Lady, and I use that term loosely. MY finances, MY estate planning, and how I use MY possessions are none of your goddamn business, do you hear me? You have been undeniably rude to my guest, who is the closest thing to a sister that I have…”

The change calls Melissa out on her behavior, but doesn’t support the idea that calling someone a lesbian is an insult. Because it’s not.

Score another point for the grout.

*If you are a reader, I strongly recommend joining if you haven’t already. It’s a social network site for readers and authors. I have a giveaway of my book, These Foolish Things, going right now.  I am offering 10 autographed copies and so far, 332 people have signed up. The odds are (my apologies to The Hunger Games) pretty much in your favor. 

‘Tis Pity You’re an Inarticulate Moron

I am on Facebook. I used to be on Myspace. I am a passionate Red Sox fan which means I am also a passionate Yankees foe (it’s part of the package. Kinda fun, actually).  During last night’s game (a loss for the Sox), Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster deliberately threw the ball behind batter Alex Rodriguez three times, then deliberately pitched one that hit him in the thigh.

(The following may not be news to readers, but I do not make assumptions of who knows what when they read something) A-Rod (A-Rat, A-Hole, A-Roid, A-Fraud) has been served with a 215 game suspension for using PED (Performance Enhancing Drugs). Unlike the other guys who were also suspended, he appealed it and is still playing. He is quite close to certain batting records/benchmarks that, should he get to the, mean millions of dollars more for him. I am of the opinion that he should not still be playing, but then he has a history of this kind of “weasel out of it” behavior. Case in point: July 24, 2004. Red Sox pitcher Bronson Arroyo hit him with a pitch (that seems to happen a lot, huh?) and rather than just take his base as the rules dictate, A Rod started mouthing off at Arroyo. Jason Varitek, Red Sox catcher, got involved and well, this is the indelible image:

tek arod

Both men were hit with 4 game suspensions. Tek just served his, A-Rod ended up serving his after appealing it and continued to play until the decision was rendered. He had to serve.  As a sidebar, in an October post-season game facing the same picture, A-Rod pulled a punk move to avoid being tagged by Mr. Arroyo by slapping the ball out of Arroyo’s glove. Given the “Hamburger Helper” style (or Mickey Mouse, perhaps more in keeping with his level of play) batting gloves, it would have been hard for the ump to miss:


Just call him “Slappy.”

photoshop slappy

I like this version better.


This is what he prefers. I don’t know if this is the original (certainly the Mickey Mouse gloves are photoshopped in), but he does have a portrait of himself as a centaur.

But I digress. Let’s return to August 18,2013.

The WEEI (Boston sports radio) Facebook page had a post regarding last night’s incident and asked for comments about Dempster drilling A-Rod. Since I don’t think the sumbitch should be playing baseball PERIOD if he’s suspended, I commented that “Dempster should have drilled him in the head.” Perhaps excessive and rash, but if that’s what it takes to get him out of the game…

There was a reply to my comment from someone named Derek Moretti:

“You should have been aborted whore”

From this statement, we can deduce that punctuation is not Mr. Moretti’s strong suit.

In 2007, on a Myspace Red Sox community page, I posted a  comment about the previous night’s game (which the Red Sox won. Post season on their way to a second World Series title in 4 years. The previous being 2004. Again, I make no assumptions). I got a response from some who kept changing his name to variations on “Hack.”

“Shut up, you fat fucking whore. I hate you.”

“Whore.” There it is again.

Come to think of it, THAT “whore”  was provoked by a negative comment about A-Rod. Perhaps his fans are as doped up as he is? Or just dopes?

These two guys (I’m presuming they’re two completely different people. I don’t give enough of a damn to find out) figured that the most damage they could inflict was by calling me a whore.

When I saw today’s comment, I started thinking about the intended use of “whore” as a weapon. (And it doesn’t apply. Both of these guys could have called me a US Senator and it would have been equally as applicable. And perhaps the same thing) By their choice of word to use as an insult, these two have given me the impression that they consider women who trade sex for money to be the lowest form of female, something shameful. If I had been a man and they’d wanted to insult me, would I have been called the male equivalent of a whore: gigolo? I don’t think so.

The thought that occurred to me was “Well, if there were no johns, there would be no whores.” I tried googling “If there were no johns” and got back this image:


The Madonna/Whore complex in a picture (rebus).

Coincidentally, she dated A-Rod for a while.

If there were no johns, there would be no whores; good ol’ supply and demand economics. So, these two guys flinging the term “whore” around; would they be as judgmental and harsh towards her customers? After all, if there were no johns willing to pay for sex, there wouldn’t be any whores to sell it. (male or female). what I’ve observed is a lot of back-slapping and “You dog!” with respect to guys who have gone to prostitutes. I remember sitting in Starbucks and overhearing a detailed conversation between two guys who had just come back from a trip to the Moonlight Bunny Ranch. There was no shaming, no “how could you do this to your wife?” Nope.

A man who sleeps around doesn’t get shamed as a slut or a whore by his fellow men (Women he doesn’t call back or gives an STD to, that’s a different matter). In fact, there’s some approval of the “player.” And if a sports discussion got heated, no one would use his sexual activity (presumed or otherwise) as a weapon. Women, though? We’re sluts, bitches and whores if you get angry. (By the way, if we’re not supposed to be as sexually active, who are the players supposed to sleep with? Somewhere, the Westboro Baptist Church’s heads just collectively exploded)

Just a wee bit of a double standard.

I believe that anger is actually an aggressive form of fear and that by lashing out as these guys, they were actually displaying fear. Of what? A woman? Certainly, but what’s so fearful about a woman who likes baseball? Are they afraid I’ll try to talk about the game with them? Is sports and being a fan supposed to be exclusively a male province? In the Myspace incident, I was also called a “Pink Hat” which is a Boston term for the women who buy pink Red Sox caps to wear to the games with their boyfriends and and recently jumped on the BoSox Bandwagon when they started winning; couldn’t care less before then. (I’ve been a Red Sox fan since I knew what a baseball was. We’re talking 47-48 years here). Again, it’s an insult specifically aimed at WOMEN, although, in 2007, when Troy Aikman showed up for a World Series game decked out in Red Sox gear, someone told me he was a pink hat. Okay, it applied that time.

So what is so intimidating about a woman who follows sports and expresses an opinion (rather strongly)? And if such a woman is a terrifying thing, do you really think the word “whore” is going to stop her?