Thursday, December 6, 2007

More Influences

I was having a conversation with my wife the other day about music and I asked her what her favorite albums were. "Give me a Top Five," I said. She rattled them off pretty quickly. They were all current Country artists: Trisha Yearwood, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Shania Twain and the Dixie Chicks. Then she proceeded to tell me what my favorite albums were: Purple Rain, something from Pearl Jam and something from Lyle Lovett.

It didn't take much thinking on my part to realize she was right. The first two albums that came to mind were Purple Rain by Prince, and Ten by Pearl Jam. A little more thinking told me that I'd probably put the two-disc Step Inside This House by Lyle Lovett in there as well. She knows me so well. But I did surprise her when I decided on a fourth: the multi-artist A Very Special Christmas. I still haven't decided on a fifth, though. It may be something from Huey Lewis, or another from Lyle Lovett. Or maybe it's something from my past that no one else has heard of or remembers.

But what hit me was not how much my wife knew me, it was how well she knew herself. She was firmly encamped in a certain genre and was able to enumerate her favorite artists and their best albums easily. Whereas I have chosen albums of glam rock, grunge, Christmas music and East Texas balladry. There's not a through-line to be found. I don't know what that means, yet. Maybe I'll figure it out when I pick a fifth. I'll let you know.

In the meantime, what are your 5 favorite albums?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Odd Influences

For me, things that influence my writing and how I write can come from anywhere. Obviously, this book that I'm completing is heavily influenced by my 30 or so years as a cinephile. But that's only the tip of the iceberg.

Recently, I read something or heard something (see, I don't even know where it's from anymore), that when writing, as much as you can, have the narrative carried by dialogue. I had never considered this before. I like dialogue, and feel as if I do it well, but when I thought about effective dialogue, it was always in reference to film or scriptwriting, where you don't have as much time to work with. Following closely on the heels of this advice, I was listening to a book on CD by Lawrence Block, HIT PARADE. A great book, by the way, I recommend it. But what I discovered was that Block was using this device to masterful effect. Even sequences where our main character, Keller, said nothing, the entire thing was carried out in dialogue as Keller relayed the information to his "agent." It really clarified the entire concept for me.

Also, I was watching the extras on my BOURNE SUPREMACY DVD, where screenwriter Tony Gilroy (now also the director of MICHAEL CLAYTON) was being interviewed. He was talking about adapting the lengthy books for the screen and happened to mention that when he was writing dialogue, he would always remember to try to keep the characters in conflict with each other, even if it was just a shift in point of view. This would help to keep the dialogue dynamic.

Going back to this rewrite, I kept these bits of information in mind. The result, I hope, moves a bit quicker and makes the interactions more lively. It is morphing into something that I think is a bit more sophisticated than it was, and I hope that makes it better.

I'll let you know.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Welcome the the Post-Baseball Blog

Well, World Series Survivor did not end up particularly successful for me. The Red Sox and Rockies, both of whom had already been eliminated, were the actual WS representatives. My last hope, the Cleveland Indians, choked their way out of a place in history. It's been almost 60 years since they've won a World Series, and the closest they've been since then is 1995, the post-strike year, when the Braves beat them soundly for their only WS in their amazing 14-year run.

That won't stop me from doing it next year, though. But I don't think it will be on this blog. I've had difficulty deciding what I want this blog to be, and I've tried several things. Ultimately, it should be about my writing, but there hasn't been much to write about there recently. I don't want the blog to be a daily update ("Hey, I wrote 125 words in my re-write last night!"), but it should be about my writing in some way.

Give me a week or so to figure it out.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Oh Boy, Here We Go Again

Well, last night saw the elimination of the last pre-World Series National League representative, the Arizona Diamondbacks, and the end of a less-than-stellar debut of Playoff Baseball on TBS. They covered three sweeps in the National League and one game over minimum in the American League. They were treated to 17 out of a possible 27 games. No-one put up a fight. But, that's the way the ball bounces. And now the National League representative to the World Series is the Colorado Rockies, a team that never should have been tied for the Wild Card, got a bogus call to win the one-game playoff, and who I eliminated from winning the whole shebang back on April 30.

Ohhh, they better not win. I'll be so pissed.

Oh, by the way, I'm pretty sure I'll be eliminating the Diamondbacks next week.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Err, Yes...

I feel confident in stating that the Los Angeles Angles of Anaheim in California, a subsidiary of Major League Baseball and the Church of Scientolgy will not win the World Series this year. Would that I were so confident before they were actually swept out of the playoffs. But, we live and we learn, and I still have one more elimination to make before the end of the year...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Chicago Cubs were the first team to be swept out of the Division Series this year, on October 6. They were the 22nd team officially eliminated, but I had the long-term vision to eliminate them back on June 4th, my 10th elimination.

The Philadelphia Phillies were swept out of the playoffs the very same day, the 23rd team eliminated. I waited until August 28th to eliminate them, using my 20th elimination on them.

The 24th elimination came the next day in the American League, in California as the Angels themselves were swept. Again, this is another situation where I haven't quite gotten around to eliminating them, but I will.

The 25th team eliminated, and one of the most satisfying (sorry, Brian) came the next day when the Yankees were bounced once again. I don't know if they're going to let Joe Torre go or not, but I think you will see a very different Yankees team next year. I eliminated them on September 17th, using my 23rd elimination.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Postseason Elimination Time

Yeah, I'm late to the party on this one. But they were doing so well, and had some of the best pitching in baseball, which is supposed to beat great hitting. Well, so much for that. But the San Diego Padres are eliminated on my list now, and I have a good idea who I'll eliminate next week, too.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Who to Root For?

Who do I root for, now that the Blue Jays are eliminated from the playoffs. Who do I want to see win the whole dang thing, out of the possible choices. Well, it used to be mostly intuitive. Hate the AL East teams, get a feel about the history of the other teams, what kind of baseball town they are. And follow any favorite players that may be on other teams.

Eventually, I just started rooting for ex-Blue Jays that were on other teams. As long as I liked them, anyway. If they were considered traitors in any way, they were off my radar. Then I started factoring in how long the team had waited to win a World Series.

This year, though, it has become a mathematical equation. I have four factors that I am considering when choosing who to root for. 1) How long HAS it been since they won a World Series. Sorry, new teams, but not winning one doesn't mean the same thing as waiting 86 years to win one. 2) How many ex-Blue Jays DO they employ on their roster? Keeping ex-Blue Jays in the game almost always makes me happy. 3) Did I visit their stadium this year? I've sort of been rooting for the Phillies and Nationals all along on a secondary level this year. It'll be interesting to see how this translates to my New York trip next year. 4) Are they still alive in my World Series Survivor? Look, I want to have some success with this new concept. I've gone out on limbs here, and I want to look good and have the kind of success that will make me want to continue it next year.

1) The Chicago Cubs have not won a World Series in 99 YEARS! It's called the Curse of the Goat for a long and silly reason, but that makes them the team waiting longest for World Series Championship in all of baseball, let alone in the playoffs. The team that has been waiting the second-longest amount of time is also in the playoffs, the Cleveland Indians. They won their last World Series way back in 1948. From there we jump all the way to 1980 and the Philadelphia Phillies. The Rockies have never won a World Series, but they've only been around since 1992. The rest of the teams have all won a World Series in this decade: The Yankees in 2000, the Diamondbacks in 2001, the Angels in 2002, and the Red Sox in 2004.

2)The Boston Red Sox actually have FOUR ex-Blue Jays on their postseason roster: Mike Timlin (who was standing on the mound and got the save when the Jays beat the Braves in '92), Eric Hinske, Kevin Cash and Bobby Kielty. There are two other teams that have two ex-Blue Jays each: the Angels (Kelvim Escobar and Justin Speier) and the Diamondbacks (Doug Davis and Gold-Glover Orlando Hudson -- who is actually injured but a big favorite of mine). There are three teams that have only one player: Ted Lilly is on the Chicago Cubs, Jayson Werth is on the Philadelphia Phillies and Roger Clemens is on the New York Yankees. There are no ex-Blue Jays on the Cleveland Indians or the Colorado Rockies.

3) I went to Citizens Bank Park and RFK Stadium this year and bought the requisite Phillies and Nationals hats as souvenirs. Thus, the Phillies deserve a special bonus.

4) There are four teams I have not eliminated from the World Series Survivor competition: The San Diego Padres (blarf), the Cleveland Indians, the LA Angels, and the Arizona Diamondbacks. The last three deserve compensation.

So... After all this is done and said, this is the order in which I (and you, for that matter) should be rooting for teams in postseason 2007:

Philadelphia Phillies
Chicago Cubs
LA Angels
Cleveland Indians
Arizona Diamondbacks
Boston Red Sox
New York Yankees
Colorado Rockies

Of course, between the time I started writing this post and actually posting it, my top 3 teams went 0-5. Maybe this will help.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Last of the Red Hot Regular Season Eliminations

The Atlanta Braves were eliminated on September 27, the 18th team eliminated. I was close, they were my 19th team eliminated, on August 28

The Milwaukee Brewers were eliminated on September 28, the 19th team eliminated. They were my 18th team, whom I eliminated on August 21.

The New York Mets completed their ruin on what was supposed to be the final day of the season, September 30. They were the 20th team eliminated in actuality, but they were my 25th team to go, um, yesterday.

The San Diego Padres were the 21st team eliminated, in a one-game playoff with the Colorado Rockies, obviously my biggest mistake this year. I haven't gotten around to eliminating them yet, but I plan to do so soon.

Monday, October 1, 2007

A Too-Late Elimination

This is a first in World Series Survivor. A team has actually eliminated themselves before I could do it for them. The Mets completed a historical collapse this past weekend, banishing them from the playoffs. This performance, combined with the 2006 playoffs has branded the team as the THE Biggest Chokers of the 21st century, a title that can only be relinquished with the winning of a World Series, which obviously won't happen this year. Maybe next year, guys. But probably not.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Droppin' Like Flies 2

Last night, a 17th team was eliminated from the playoffs, the Detroit Tigers. I eliminated them only 17 days ago, as my 22nd team.

The teams in the American League are set now: The Boston Red Sox, the Cleveland Indians, the LA Angels and the New York Yankees. I've already expressed my opinion that neither the Red Sox or the Yankees will win this year. We'll see if either of the other teams can pull it out.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Droppin' Like Flies

The Los Angeles Dodgers were eliminated early in the morning on Wednesday, at least on the East Coast. They were the 15th official elimination, and they were my 21st elimination on September 5th.

I eliminated the Seattle Mariners way back on April 23rd. Some say I simply underestimated the team's capabilities of hitting and pitching. I call it tremendous foresight. They were my 4th team eliminated, but ended up being the 16th team eliminated overall.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Solitary Weekend Elimination

I eliminated the St. Louis Cardinals on August 6, as the 16th team eliminated. But they waited until Saturday, September 22 to get eliminated in reality, the 14th team to get eliminated.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Oh, It's Been a Long Year

And an emotional one at that. My trepidation and fear of the past has led me to keep the Yankees and Red Sox in the hunt. But now it is time. It is time to cast off the demons of the past and to let them fly away to infect someone else with their maudlin effects. I'm saying it here and I'm saying it now. Neither the Red Sox nor the Yankees will win the World Series this year.


Now if only it will come to pass...

Friday, September 21, 2007

Another Elimination

For those of you hoping to read more about my current writing, please be patient and stay tuned. We are in the heat of the pennant races and I have a lot to report on there. Plus, I will be doing a lot with the AMIA Conference here in Rochester next week. In the meantime...

The Cincinnati Reds were the 7th team I eliminated, on May 14. They ended up doing better than expected with a mid-summer surge, but still were in the first half of teams to be eliminated, #13.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Long Elimination Weekend

Saturday, September 15

The Texas Rangers were my 6th team eliminated, but actually came in 5th at the elimination races. I eliminated them on May 7.

I waited until July 24 to eliminate my 14th team, the Florida Marlins. They, however, tanked mid-season and were the 6th team eliminated.

Sunday, September 16

The Washington Nationals were my 3rd team eliminated, and I was sad to see them go at the time, April 16. But they picked it up a bit and were the 7th team actually eliminated.

San Francisco was another of those teams with a summer swoon. I held off until July 3 to eliminate them, but they ended up being the 8th team eliminated. They were my #12.

Monday, September 17

A busy Monday started off with the elimination of last year's AL Central division winners, the Minnesota Twins. I held hope for them and used my 17th pick on them just last month, August 13. But they ended up being the 9th team eliminated overall.

I also held hope for the Oakland A's, by not eliminating them until July 31, with my 15th pick. But they were right behind the Twins as the 10th team eliminated.

In the National League, two Central Division teams were eliminated from the Wild Card, but held on in the weak divisional race. The Houston Astros were my 9th pick on May 29 and were the 11th team eliminated.

The Pittsburgh Pirates were eliminated the previous week by me (May 21, with my 8th pick) and were the 12th team eliminated overall.

There is only one more elimination that is likely this week, but there may be a few more by Monday as the playoff picture clears up.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Riskiest Day of the Year


Big Breath.

I knew this day was coming, but it's still not easy. This is the day I officially count the Yankees out. I've had this feeling in my gut all year long, but it's been such a poor proposition in the past that I've held out as long as I could.

I've looked at pitching stats, hitting stats, for the last 7 and 30 days. I've looked at the competition, and I have to say, I think now is the time to make the move. I almost eliminated another team this week, had been planning to for a while, but they have picked up their play recently. Their pitching has been great this last week, and they might be heading for a surprising postseason. But the Yankees are the subject. There has been steady improvement and momentum building all year, up to and including this weekend's series victory over division-leading Boston.

But the problem is not with the Yankees themselves. It is with their competition. There are 3 division leaders in the AL right now that can beat them in a 7-game series. And they will have to get past two of them, on the road, in order to get to the World Series. I just don't see that happening.

Ahhhhh.... That's a weight off my shoulders. Now I can relax for a little while. Then I'll get started on my big elimination post for tomorrow.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Overdrive and Casino Royale

I just want to drop a note about a new way to listen to books.

The Monroe County Library System has recently added a service where you can download audiobooks, some to CD, have them for a 3-week period and have them returned for you automatically. I've downloaded probably a dozen of them since I found out. One of the titles I burned to CD was CASINO ROYALE by Ian Fleming. I'm not sure if this is the first James Bond adventure, but it seems fairly early in the series. The basic plot is remarkably close to the film that was released last year.

What I was surprised to discover was exactly how good an Fleming was as a writer. His ability to create suspense around something as simple as a card game is admirable and something I'm going to have to study. And the Bond character in this short novel is much more complex and philosophical than you ever see him on-screen. What a wonderful experience that might have gone undiscovered had it not been for audiobooks.

This may be another author for whom I'll have to get the books and actually read.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Bosch/Haller and the Meaning of Understanding

I understand.

But do I? Do I really comprehend every facet, innuendo and implication of what you are saying? It's not likely. Yes, we speak the same language. We construct sentences in much the same way and use commands and interrogatives in generally the same way. But, ultimately, the words that we use do not mean the same things to every person that uses them.

Consider this: In 1977 or 1978, my Dad had a company car. It was a big white sedan that he liked to call "The Shark." At one point in time, I was leaning over the front bench seat and looking at the controls on the console. I saw the button that said "Rear Def.", pointed at it and asked my Dad if he was going to turn on the Rear Deflector. Countless screenings of Star Wars and Star Trek re-runs had already rotted my brain. After several attempts to get herself under control, my mother revealed to me that the "Def." actually stood for defroster, which Dad would use to melt the ice on the back window if he needed to. I was chagrined, but happy I learned something new.

The point is, when I talk about defrosters now, whether they be in cars, or freezers, or on the space shuttle, I remember that incident. Tied into it are feelings about big American cars, my parents, the wonder of youth and my decades-long relationship with Star Trek, Star Wars, and Sci-Fi in general, which really gets into warm fuzzies about my Dad.

All of this is contained in that one word for me. That is what I bring to it. So, even though you and I are using the same word, and getting the message across, the sentence has more meaning for me than it does for you. Or maybe just a different meaning. Maybe you have your own defroster story that you think of every time you hear the word. But whatever it is, you're bringing a different set of experiences to the word than I am. The true meaning is lost in translation between psyches.

So, do we really understand each other? Can we possibly? No, not fully. But we can enough to get along, to agree or disagree, to connect or admit that we simply don't see things that way.

And art is the same way. We all have our own levels of education, especially about the medium we're working with. We all have our own unique experiences to draw upon. All the images, sounds, words that we see have their own set of connotations and relationships exclusive to us embedded in them. It's what we bring to the table. Like any form of communication, art is imperfect in its ability to relay truth. But it is also more effective at relaying the sense of truth, the underlying message trying to be expressed, than any straight-forward exclamation can do.

This is what connects with people, the sense of truth, the idea that a common truth is at the root of our uncommon understandings. We like to attempt to look through other's eyes and be comforted that what we see is essentially the same as what we see.

All this to say, I listened to the audiobook of LINCOLN LAWYER sometime late last year or earlier this year. I didn't see what the big deal was. But what I didn't know was that Mickey Haller, the protagonist of LL, was Harry Bosch's half-brother. I guess it was explained off-handedly in the book somewhere, but it didn't mean anything to me at the time because, worse still, I didn't know who Harry Bosch was.

Then, later on, I decided to give Connelly another chance. I listened to THE NARROWS. This, I loved. I thought the mix of third-person and first-person was used effectively, unlike certain other authors I had seen use it. I liked the mixture of real-life and fiction, with the book and movie of BLOOD WORK mentioned. I liked that he brought together the threads of three different narratives that had already been explored in his previous books, at the same time opening Harry Bosch's world and acknowledging that they were all taking place in the same continuity.

I was hooked.

As I do with my new discoveries on CD, I went back to the beginning. I read BLACK ECHO and liked it. I moved on to BLACK ICE, and now I discover that Haller's back story was seeded all the way back here. Haller and Bosch share a father, but their experiences with him couldn't have been more different. Again, they have a common thread, but they don't understand in the same way.

But I think I understand something a little more now. Connelly's fans had followed Bosch for 11 books prior to LINCOLN LAWYER and had a familiarity and fellowship with him by then. There is a thing about family, especially fictional families, whom we seem to be able to accept with flaws much easier than our own. And people were not only ready for a Mickey Haller book, they were welcoming it and eager to embrace it.

With this in mind, and a future reading of the book (in book form, this time) on the horizon. I find myself anticipating it, as well. I look forward to the comparisons between Haller and Bosch. I wonder what Bosch might have been if he had known his father. And what he ended up being despite it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

More Real Life Eliminations

The Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles were eliminated virtually at the same time last night when the Yankees defeated the Blue Jays. I eliminated the Royals way back on April 9, just before I saw them beat the Blue Jays. They were team #2.

I waited until June 18 to eliminate the Orioles. They were team #11.

It is possible, though unlikely, that we will have 3 more eliminations before Friday. But it is also possible that there could be another 10 in between now and Monday!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Multiple Post Monday!!!

I try to keep it down to one post per day, so as to keep things nicely organized and give me space to spread out, but there's just so much going on today to keep to myself. I have a long post that is more philosophical in nature in the draft stage, another team has been eliminated from World Series contention, and now teams are starting to get eliminated FOR REAL! You can read those posts below, but first let me tell you about an exciting announcement.

Our good friend Dan Wagner over at THE HUNGRY DETECTIVE has been on the blog roll of THE RAP SHEET for a while now, but it wasn't until last Saturday that he got a direct mention from J. Kingston Pierce. Follow this link to THE RAP SHEET, which will take you to this post on THE HUNGRY DETECTIVE, which will take you to this video trailer for Rochester's own Charles Benoit's new book NOBLE LIES, officially launching at Bouchercon this month.

Huey Lewis was right. It's a Small World.

Small, small world.

And Then There Were Seven

Ah, I love the classic "D" for Detroit. I get warm fuzzies just sitting back and thinking about watching Magnum, PI. And Magnum probably had a lot of fun in the postseason last year, watching the Tigers get as far as they did. But that's not going to happen this year. In fact, they're not even going to make the playoffs. The arms are just not there like they were last year, and now comes word that they are going to shut down Jeremy Bonderman. I'm sorry, Thomas, but the Tigers are victim #22.

World Series Survivor Update!

For over 5 months I have been soothsaying the doomed fates of Major League ballclubs. 21 teams have fallen under my biting knife. But it was not until this weekend that these teams started to be mathematically eliminated from postseason play, making it altogether impossible for them to win the World Series. As the dominoes continue to fall, I will update you on their demise and tell you exactly in what order I myself eliminated them. It should be interesting. (If to no one else but me.)

9/8 - The Tampa Bay Devil Rays. They were the first team mathematically eliminated, and they were the first on my chopping block. I eliminated them on Opening Day, April 2.

9/9 - The Chicago White Sox. This team has fallen fast. They were the second team to be mathematically eliminated, but they were the 13th victim on my hit list. They made it nearly halfway through. I eliminated them two months earlier on July 9.

There won't be any new teams to add to the list today, but there could be deluge of teams to add in the next week, never mind the next two weeks.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Insert Clever Title Here

It's that time again, to eliminate another team from postseason contention, which would preclude them altogether from winning the World Series. The Dodgers have hung in there all year. They have an intriguing team, with good young pitching and a potent lineup. But they have an uphill climb within their own division this year. They're already in third place, behind two clubs battling it out for the division title, the other the likely Wild Card candidate. Even if they do make it out of their division, they're going to either face better pitching (New York) or better hitting (Philadelphia, Chicago) which they will not be able to keep up with. Another team to look for next year, not this one.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

This Edition of World Series Survivor Has Been Pre-Empted 2

I have just discovered that the Rochester area Launch Party for Charles Benoit's next book, NOBLE LIES, is scheduled for Friday, October 19 at 7pm at the Barnes and Nobles in Pittsford on Monroe Avenue.

Charles is a great speaker and has extremely animated book signings as well as animated signatures. You should all plan on attending as I will be getting as many of my folks to go as I can.

You can read all about NOBLE LIES and the rest of Charles' books here.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, It's Off to Work I Go

I may have told you before that I had joined an on-line critique group through Guppies. Well, it's dividends have come to fruition, and boy am I happy!

The three other members of my group have read my manuscript and have all had good suggestions. Several of them say the same thing (your language isn't strong enough; don't use passive voice); and several of them disagree (I love the film references; There were too many film references at the beginning - it made me sick). But they all brought their own unique view to my novel and have forced me to see it through their eyes, if only just a little.

To all of them, I thank you, and I offer you a little Friday Afternoon Huey:

I've got a short story rattling around in my brain that I have to get out on paper, but then I'm going to take a serious look at the novel and create a significantly-altered Next Draft. I think this will be the last one. As has been made clear to me, this particular sub-genre is not where I feel most natural. If I can make it work, that's great, but if not, I would be better-served starting on something else.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Kindest Cut

I've been behind for a while now. I've needed to catch up by eliminating two teams in a single week. I've thought about doing a bonus World Series Survivor post one week, and then I keep putting it off. Now, I know that I just need to bite the bullet and do it. So, here we are. The Atlanta Braves and the Philadelphia Phillies are the two top-hitting teams in the National League. Unfortunately, their pitching has just not held up to the challenge. Beyond John Smoltz, the Braves are very thin. Whereas the Phillies have just about no one in the first place.

They are both fun teams to watch, with exciting young players on their roster that deserve their time in the October prime. It just won't come this year.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Oh, Dan, Please Forgive Me...

It's getting to be crunchtime in Major League Baseball, and in World Series Survivor. Everyone still alive has a legitimate chance to go to the playoffs, and as we know from last year's strong showing by St. Louis, anyone in the playoffs has a chance to win. So now I need to look deeper at the teams. I need to look 6-8 weeks into the future and decide how each team is going to be playing and figure out what kind of a chance they have to win it all.

Unfortunately, the Brewers are the only team left that have given up more runs than they have scored, and their starting pitching has looked less than stellar of late. This means that I am going to have to say goodbye to Milwaukee until next year.

I know this is going to break Dan's heart, but the team is young, they have gotten a lot of experience this year, and a winning team is cause for celebration and encourages the owners to go ahead and take that next step in the offseason. Let's hope they do even better next year.

This leaves me with an odd situation, in that there are no teams left in the NL Central to eliminate, but there are still 3 teams alive in each of the other two NL divisions. Will the World Series be going home to one of these cities? We'll have to wait and find out.

Friday, August 17, 2007

I Wanna Be John Waite

I was off running some errands over lunchtime on Wednesday of this week, and I happened to drop into the Borders in Henrietta. I saw a sign advertising an appearance hanging in the front window. Then, as I got closer, I realized that the date and time matched with what my watch was saying: 8/15, 1pm. I read the name, shook it off, then got closer and read it again. Nope, I read it right the first time. John Waite was playing inside the Borders right now.

Who's John Waite? you might ask. People that are younger than me might not remember, and those older might not know. Heck, even those of the same age might be hard-pressed to put a name to the song until they heard it, but I bet a ton of you remember this:

"Missing You" was a big hit back in 1984, and got played in fairly heavy rotation seemingly every summer after that. I liked it at the time and it definitely hits the right nostalgia chord every time I hear it on the radio. And, being a child of the media as well as a child of the 80s, I knew who sang the song when it did come on.

Then, in the late 80s, he joined the "Super"Group Bad English and hit the big time again with this power ballad:

So, what was this man, who had been at the top of his profession at least twice in the past, doing playing an acoustic set at my local Borders?

The answer: What everybody else does. Work. Apparently, he's got a new album out that he's been touring in support of. He played a few cuts from the album and was signing afterwards. He was out there, promoting his product and meeting the people who like what he does and put their increasingly-hard-earned money down to purchase it.

I've been to enough writers' conferences and book signings to see how it works, and I recognized what John Waite was doing and appreciated it. He could easily retire or fade into the bliss of nostalgia, but he loves his music, and is willing to work to promote it. His professional life is not in the past, but in the present, or the future. He continues to create and work toward making sure he can continue to create.

Should there come a time when I am able to get paid for being creative and have people read what I write and like it enough to spend money on it, I'd like to think I would be willing to work to cultivate that situation and make it work.

If I become a writer, I want to be like John Waite.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

On Reading

I'm currently in the process of reading two, yes two, books that I've already read before. Now, i know some people who would never EVER read a book, or watch a movie, or even a TV show more than once. There's no surprise for them, which is apparently what they're looking for.

But I'm here to tell you that they're all sdrawkcab.

There are so many surprises you can find on a second read, or a second viewing. Sure, it may not be in the narrative, but it is in the presentation of the narrative. There are things the author may have put in front of you that you didn't recognize as relevant the first time around (especially in crime fiction). There may be a turn of phrase or particular transition that takes on greater meaning in the context of what you already know. Maybe you picked it up the first time around, maybe you didn't. But I can tell from personal experience that you experience the craft much better on the second (or third, or more) time around. And the same goes for films.

And I'm also here to tell you that if you're still surprised at every narrative you come across, you're just not paying attention. There are patterns that become readily apparent if you watch or read enough and PAY ATTENTION! There are stock characters, there are cliches, there are standard formats of storytelling that guide you in a particular direction, and if you can recognize those patterns, there will be no surprises in the poorly crafted stories. It's the good ones that give you all of the above and still surprise and satisfy you. Or, as I particularly like, the ones that take those above and use them to their own purposes, playing with you as much as they play with the archetypes.

So, what am I reading again? Well, the first is OUT OF ORDER by Charles Benoit. Mentioned often, he is a local author whose book I was reading in public to try to give some publicity to. It is a quick Indian adventure mystery that takes us on a whirlwind murderlogue of maj0r sites of the paradoxical country.

The second is LORD FOUL'S BANE by Stephen R. Donaldson. The first of six fantasy books published in this series in the 1970s, it, along with ENDER'S GAME by Orson Scott Card, has got to be one of my most-read books. I revisit it every so often and get more from it each time I read it. Donaldson is in the middle of putting out the "last" four volumes in the series, so I thought I'd revisit them again before I dug in to the new ones.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Woo-hoo! I Found Another Loser

Er, well, that is to say....

The Twins have a losing record right now, making them the easy choice to be eliminated from World Series consideration right now. They are 8 games out of the wild card, and any other team I might pick is 3 games out or closer. And there are still three teams alive in half the divisions. But, I'm sorry to say for Mauer and Morneau fans that their Division crown will not be defended and their Winter will be made ever colder without a Championship to warm them.

Friday, August 10, 2007

On Writing

No, this is not about Stephen King's book. Although, I find it to be an excellent read and a good investment if you want to read it over and over...

No, this is about my writing. Or, more specifically, the lack of it. I haven't been writing a lot lately. Yes, I know that I should be, and I also know that not all other writers write all the time. Some go in spurts, as my last novel seemed to. But I'm caught in the middle here. I FEEL like I should be writing. I feel like I should be getting practice in, taking my hacks, to put it in baseball parlance.

But on the other hand, I want to learn. I want to know what I did wrong. I want to know what I screwed up last time, so I don't make the same mistakes again in another book, another short story, whatever. This is where feedback comes in. I had a friend read the ms, and another that read the first 50 pages. I have still another whose feedback is supposed to appear in my mailbox any day now. They all had good things to say, and good suggestions for change. But I need it all together, to make it coherent, to get a larger picture of what an aggregate group thinks, and what I agree with and what I don't.

Into this story walk the Guppies. One of the Guppies is in charge of coordinating critique groups and setting people up to have them read each other's work and commenting on it. I have already met some great people and have already gotten one ms feedback. I have read one manuscript myself and sample chapters of another, and have added my (hopefully useful) comments. I feel like I am nearly ready to tackle the ms again. I have 3 good sets of comments, at least one on the way, and a few more people in my critique group to access. I believe there will have to be some wholesale changes. There is a question of believability of motivation, which undercuts the tension. How will I deal with this? I don't know yet. I am a victim of the passive voice. I need to change a lot there (but not all).

So, into August and September I go, pushing on toward the end of the baseball season, and hopefully on to another (and better) version of my book. I will keep you posted, because I really want to get it done. I know what the next book is. It's very different, and I'm very excited to explore it in more detail.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Not in the Cards

Oh, Boy. Here we go. I'm really getting into the good teams now. But there are very few teams left to eliminate that have losing records. In fact, the only one left is the St. Louis Cardinals. Yes, they won the World Series last year, but their pitching staff was gutted by Free Agency in the offseason, and the injury to Chris Carpenter in the preseason. They hung in there for a while, but have recently fell off, yielding second place in their division to the Chicago Cubs, and are currently riding a 5-game losing streak. St. Louis is a great baseball town, but it might be time to start looking at Rams training camp.

As an update, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays currently have an elimination number of 34 from the Wild Card race. They may be officially eliminated by the end of the month. As teams get eliminated, I will keep you updated.

Also, there have already been some mistakes I've made this year. As I said, the Cards are the last sub-.500 team to be eliminated, but that doesn't mean I haven't eliminated some plus-.500 teams. The Rockies and the afore-mentioned Cubs are not only winning, but in the playoff race. But the real surprise is the Seattle Mariners, tied with the Yankees, only a half a game out of the Wild Card. Hopefully, they'll fall off. We'll see.

Friday, August 3, 2007

It's Just a Movie

Last week, right here in our little 'burg, The Simpsons Movie started with a midnight screening in several of our theaters on the Thursday before it opened. In one of these theaters, there were young people trying to get into the theater without paying. They were knocking on the outside doors, trying to get people to open it and let them in. No one did. They tried other theaters, where the movies had already ended. They moved to the exterior doors. They finally managed to break in to one of the exterior doors, making a ruckus and attracting the attention of two employees.

When the trespassers were confronted, two of them ran directly at the employees and through the theater to another exit. One of the employees chased these two while the other employee was left to deal with the other intruders. They were told to leave, but instead attacked the employee, putting him in a headlock and striking him, then throwing him against a wall before they, too, fled.

Now, I love movies. I love the art, the atmosphere, the experience. I know that I would not be where I am or who I am today without the influence of film and my pursuit of my place in the world in relation to film. But there is no reason that we need to come to blows over a film, even if it's a hotbed of controversy.

But this is just stupid. I don't care how good the movie is, or how your social status is affected by being one of the first 500 people to see the movie at this location, which will be shown again in 11 hours, on multiple screens, likely 6 times a day for at least the next two weeks. There is no reason to do something like this just to see a movie. It's got to be easier to steal $7-$10 and pay for the movie, rather than risk assault charges.

My advice to other such stupid criminals: Don't do it. It's just a movie.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

The Day Job

Every once in a while, I get interviewed for something having to do with the Day Job, which is, being the cataloger for the Motion Picture Department of the George Eastman House. Something I'm proud to do, in a place I'm proud to work. But it's not every day that I get quoted in the Chicago Tribune. I mean, this is the same paper that Gene Siskel wrote for! Cool!

So, I thought I'd share this with you. It's a small quote in a big article, but I'm glad the reporter used a quote that is pretty central to my philosophy.

Read it here.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Victim #15

The Oakland A's are one of those teams that I never quite count out. Billy Beane and the coaching staff there have always seemed to be able to pull out some deal or put somebody in the right position to help the team win. That's why it's taken me so long to eliminate them. But, I have to. It really looks like they're not going to make the playoffs this year, which greatly decreases the chances of them winning the World Series.

But this means that I have only one option left in the American League West: The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, after foolishly counting out the Seattle Mariners much too soon. They may both make the postseason, but I've still got my money on Anaheim.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Marlin Fishing

Egads! How is it that no matter how much you cut out of your life, the things that are still in your life expand to take up as much time, if not more, than the things you had in your life before? Sheesh. That, by way of vague explanation, is my way of apologizing for not posting as often as I had been or should be doing. It's a matter of prioritizing. I'll see what I can do.

But for now, I need to eliminate another team. It's getting tougher. I'm close to having to pick teams that have winning records. There will soon be broken hearts strewn across the heartland.

But not today. It's not like they're the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, but nobody really cares about the Florida Marlins, do they? That's why they can't hold onto their star players. That's why they can't get a new stadium deal, with time running out on their lease at Dolphins Stadium. Maybe they'll just move to Portland or Las Vegas and be done with it. Meh. Maybe not. These things take time, apparently. Maybe by then they'll field another World Series-caliber team. But not this year.

Monday, July 16, 2007

This Edition of World Series Survivor Has Been Pre-Empted to Bring You...


This is the baby boy in my wife's belly. Everything looks fine and we're expecting him to arrive sometime in December.

What a nice Christmas present...

Thursday, July 12, 2007