Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Aftermath, Plus More

So, as you all know by now, that bitch Sandy did quite a bit more damage to the Northeast than even I had anticipated. New York City is one hell of a mess right now, but even worse are the surrounding seaside communities in New Jersey. Jeez, Louise! My heart goes out to all those people who have lost their loved ones, their homes, and their security.

My area came through unscathed, though, and so I suppose there are some blessings to be thankful for. All my family and friends are fine, too. Even better! It's going to be a while before subways are running again and power is restored to most of the city. So in the meantime I'm stuck at home working via my company's VPN and managing my people who are in varying stages of okay to living in the pre-Industrial Age. But we'll persevere. Thanks for all the concern, comments, and e-mails everybody. I truly appreciate it, I really do.

I did mention a short story of mine I recently finished. It's been a while since I've written one to completion, due to all the personal issues I've been going through this year (and which shall remain vague here on this blog). But I'm proud of it. As I said before, it requires some editing and a lot of polish, so I'm going to be busy with that for the next two weeks or so before I send it out to my first line of readers and then eventually to the markets. God I hope that particular line bites.

And just for fun, I've decided to paste a little passage from the new tale to whet your appetites. At least, I hope it whets it . . . and not whatever the hell the opposite of whetting is. Dulling? Yeah, I hope it doesn't dull your appetites, folks. Oh hell, let me stop typing and just paste the damn thing already.

Here you go:

". . .But the words get caught on his tongue when he notices your other eye. The one that’s definitely not human, but something out of every boy’s darkest nightmare. The inky black eye of the monster under the bed, that gremlin in the closet. The demon crawling out of that TV screen. Whatever they call it, you’re all that and more wrapped neatly into a slim five-foot-ten frame chosen to put your prey at ease. But the poor boy looks ready to wet himself. You’ve dropped your guard and he’s spied what no mortal has ever seen or lived to tell. It’s his lucky day, though. It’s not his time to die, and you have other fish to fry besides."

What in god's name could I possibly be writing, you're wondering after that? Well, you're just going to have to wait. I had a lot of fun writing that paragraph and many more like it, though. Usually that's a good sign for the story as a whole, but I will have to wait and reserve any real judgment until after the 3rd draft is complete.

Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Storm's Comin

Working from home today because the city is shut down due to "Frankenstorm" Hurricane Sandy currently bearing down on the northeastern seaboard. Landfall is estimated to be a few hours from now, just a little south of Atlantic City, although I wouldn't find it far-fetched if it lands somewhere north of there. Either way that places New York City directly in the path of the hurricane's strongest winds on its northeastern quadrant. Already we're experiencing over 50 mph winds, and the worst won't even come until after 6 tonight when winds are projected to reach anywhere between 80 and 90 mph at their strongest. Yikes!

Of course, the actual worst part is not so much the winds (we've weathered worst hurricanes, wind-wise), but the huge storm surge it will bring when high tide comes. We could see 11 foot waves crashing into lower Manhattan, which is more than high enough to breach the barriers in place down there. And wouldn't you know it, that's near where I work!

Luckily the city's had the foresight to shut down the metro system and tell everyone to stay home. I'm doing fine where I live, as we're quite elevated above the rest of the city and all our power lines are beneath the ground. Living here all my life, we've never once had the power shut down due to a storm. Not once. And so long as I have my Internet and refrigerator, I'm sitting pretty and waiting the whole thing out.

So, in other words: I'm doing fine, my friends. Completed the short story I've been working on last night and looking forward to going back in and pruning about 2,000 words or so. Will be one hell of an edit, but I think I can do it. I want to get the story under 5k words if possible, although that might be too tall of an order for the type of tale I wanted to tell. We'll see.

How are things in your neck of the woods? If you're in the path of Sandy as well, how are you faring?

Lastly, I hope you all are preparing for Halloween later this week. Last year Mother Nature came as a Nor'easter. This year, she's a hurricane. Can anyone top that?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Where I Write

It's no secret that writers are strange people. And even stranger still are some of the odd habits they keep while engaging in their craft. I for one cannot write with a pencil. I absolutely abhor pencils, have ever since I was in the first grade. I have a peculiar aversion to the feel of graphite rubbing on paper, you see. It sets my teeth on edge! But when it comes to writing, I seem to have lost the ability to write with pen and paper as well. Everything I've written since the age of about 16 has been on some sort of electronic medium--a word processor in high school, or some variation of the personal computer ever since. Writing stuff longhand is simply far too slow for my needs. I need a keyboard of some sort.

Jane Austen's desk. (Photo credit:
Eamonn McCabe.
Then we come to where a writer writes. I'm amazed sometimes by all the spoils and riches some aspiring writers need to get themselves going. Some need to be out in nature with a yellow pad in order to get some inspiration, while others can go for long sessions at the local coffee shop. Some writers have big, elaborate home offices with pretty tapestries hanging on the wall and large bay windows overlooking some picturesque landscape, where everything is situated just right to conduct proper writerly affairs. And still others need only a small corner of the bedroom to ply their trade. Worst, however, is the writer that seems to crave more the knowledge that other people can see him writing big important writerly things in public rather than the actual task of creating something worthwhile. This is the pretentious writer type, whom I loathe with a passion.

Then there's where I fit in. And here I take a page from Stephen King, who must write with absolutely no distractions. His preferred writing spot when he was an up and comer was either the attic space when he was younger, or in the basement seated next to the heater when he was older. This is so me. I'm not very particular in the decor of where I write, but it must share some basic characteristics. For one, I need to face the wall. Preferably a bare wall with little to no hanging art. Second, no windows. I get easily distracted and the last thing I need is to be able to see the whole wide world outside when trying to focus on my own created worlds. And lastly, my space needs a door. Because, see, whenever I sit down to write creatively, I mentally shut the world out around me. And a door is that one physical link to the actual world that can correlate with the symbolic action of shutting all the nonsense out. Keeping it behind the barrier, as it were.

My desk, no fuss no muss. Okay, a whole lot of muss!

My space is cozy, bland, and best of all--easily cut off from the rest of the house around me. Once that door closes, everyone knows to leave me the hell alone until I emerge, hours later, bleary-eyed and drained of color. This is how I roll. Over the years I've been unable to write well any other way. On a laptop on the Amtrak to Philly? Nope! Won't work, too many bumps and station stops. In a cubicle at the local library? Nope, still too many noises and people walking by. I've never tried a coffee shop before, simply because I don't drink coffee and can't tell you the last time I've ever walked into one. But I'm pretty sure that wouldn't work for me, either. I mean, I can write low-energy stuff in such situations: work related docs, e-mail . . . this blog. But to write creatively I crave silence and solitude.

To me it all makes sense. I don't know about you. So tell me, what is your process? Better yet, where do you write?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Driving First

So this past weekend I drove my grandma, sister, sis's boyfriend, and their dog 130 miles north up to my aunt's house in rural upstate New York for a family get together, and in the process experienced a driving milestone that I've managed to go 18 years avoiding. Yes, I got pulled over by a state trooper for speeding!


I saw the dude, too, right at the last moment. Parked against oncoming traffic in a tree-shaded ditch just past the shoulder. I had already avoided five similar speed traps prior to this one, and was only 20 minutes away from my aunt's home when it happened. Grrrrr! Ain't that often the case? Well, what the hell would I know? Like I said, this was the first time such a thing has ever happened to me. So I zoomed right past the guy and immediately knew I was in trouble. And so I did what any honest, law-abiding driver would do: I immediately shifted into the right lane, slowed down, and tried to hide among the other cars travelling the road with me.

But I guess these guys have seen this trick before. Because, nope, didn't fool him one bit! Next thing I knew, blue and red lights were flashing in my rearview. Shit! So I pulled over and this very young state trooper dude comes up to my window. My sister's dog is barking nonstop from the back seat, mind you, but this didn't seem to faze the guy at all.

After asking for my licence, he asked: "Why are you in such a hurry?"
Me: "I have no idea."
Him: "Do you know what the speed limit is?"
Me: "Fifty-five?"
Him: "And do you know how fast you were going?"
Me: "Uhhhh . . . seventy?"
Him: "Seventy-seven!"

Ouch! Busted! Yes, sometimes I have a bit of a lead foot, folks. Especially on super long, sparsely traveled scenic highways when I'm bored out of my skull. And especially when I'm almost--just ALMOST--at my destination. But the trooper was a nice sort, and seemed to warm up when I told him of our destination. I guess he was a local and knew the town where my aunt lived. He must have figured I wasn't some out of town gunrunner or something, just blowing through on my way to Canada. My granny certainly wasn't packing, anyway. So he ran a check on my license, found that, as usual, my record was completely clean, and then let me go with just a promise that I wouldn't do that again.

I told him that I wouldn't, and I meant it. I really did. But of course . . .

Anyway, so that was my brief and first real run in with "the law" this weekend. How was yours?

Oh, and before I go, here are some pics of the rental car and my aunt and uncle's property where we had a cookout and even a bonfire going to ward off the mid-October chill. The last three pics are panoramas acquired using the new automatic function on my iPhone 5. Pretty nifty for "cheating" your way through wide-angle shots. As always, clicke for larger views.

The Ford Escape in front of my aunt's house.
Not bad for a Zipcar.

My aunt's driveway, with their newly purchased trailer in the back.

Bonfire a-brewing out back. My sister's dog, Shiva, in the foreground.

Food and beer aplenty out on the patio. One of the guests
brought their own pooch, Ralph, to the party.

As you can see, they're not quite at peak foliage season up in the higher elevations of New York state yet--but they're very close! Of course, down here in the city we won't be seeing those colors until the end of the month or right around Election Day.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

She Drives Me Crazy!

"... Like No One Else! She Drives Me Crazy, And I Can't He-elp My Se-elf!"

So, it seems that article I wrote earlier last week discussing the dangers of judging people based solely on their looks went over rather well with followers of The Bimillennial Man. And not just among the usual commenters, I might add. Someone contacted me in response to that post and posed the following paraphrased question:

"So, just for kicks, what do you find attractive in a woman?"

Oops! Forgive me. I suppose in all that writing I forgot to cover this particular base. Although reading between the lines it becomes rather apparent what I don't find attractive in a woman, right? Still, I've given the question some thought. And though I don't actually live by a do or die list of qualities she must pass in order to earn my undying devotion, there are certain physical and intellectual traits in a woman that turn me on immensely. To make things easier, I'll separate them into those two categories:

Friday, October 12, 2012

Kids Remember More Than You Realize

Kids are aware of a great many things going on around them than most adults realize. Especially the unpleasant things. I'm often amazed by how quickly parents forget what it's like to be a child, in fact. Sometimes we need to take time out and remember that children are not miniature adults. Some of what you enjoy as a grownup does not necessarily correlate neatly with the needs and wants of a child. Sometimes we forget just what the world looked, smelled and tasted like to us as children. Other times, things simply get lost in the translation of our muddled memories. Memories which, if only properly recalled now that we're supposedly more "mature," might help us understand the antics of that screaming toddler in the corner. For instance: do you even remember what orange juice used to taste like when you were a child? I don't know about you, but I do! When I was a young lad, I can remember orange juice tasting extremely bitter and acidic. I wasn't very fond of it, but now I absolutely LOVE the beverage. It's so sweet and tart and, when properly chilled, can be quite the thirst quencher. But try telling that to a preschool aged David. He was having NONE of it!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

It's In the Eye of the Beholder

I've been thinking lately about the importance society places on physical beauty. We all know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, after all. What I find physically attractive in the opposite sex might not be the same qualities another man appreciates. And that's fine. Life would be pretty dull, if not just a little contentious, if we all found the same selection of people hot.

Panama Trip - Day 1: Here There Be Balboas!

In late May, 2017 I embarked on a trip of a lifetime. A trip to Panama's steamy tropical province, Bocas del Toro. Now, before 2017 ...