Friday, July 28, 2006

Do you wanna potty? It's potty time!

Ah, the joys and frustrations of stay-at-home-daddyhood. Dylan, my two year old, is in the potty training "zone," & has nearly mastered the art of the #1. He is very proud of his big boy underpants, (or "underboy pants" in Dilly-speak) and very conscious about wetting them. #2, however, seems to be an entirely different ballgame. One successful poop in the potty & one odd incident behind our bedroom door. (Not sure what that was about.)

I'm not sure how centuries of housewives managed to balance housework, child care and maintaining their sanity. (I hear huffing oven cleaner helps with that last one.) It took me almost half an hour to sweep the kitchen floor today, a process involving considerable distraction, diversion and breaks to soothe the fussy baby. Plus I had to try to explain to Dylan why the Cheerios I swept out from under the table where no longer edible.

As I type this, it's now 2:30- waaay past nap time. Lily is usually fairly easy to get to sleep; lay down in bed with her and hold a bottle for about ten minutes. Dylan, however, will not sleep until he collapses from sheer exhaustion. (Maybe I should get a large rubber mallet.) And, of course, he is disinclined to play quietly while I'm trying to get Lily down. She got in about twenty solid minutes of shut-eye before Dylan's attempts to create new percussion instruments from various items in our bedroom finally managed to wake her up. Now I'm dealing with an extremely cranky baby & a toddler who will finally crash out at about 4:00, sleep until Lea gets home sometime after 6, and then not want to go to bed tonight. Good thing I don't need to sleep.

By the way, last night was the first time Dylan ever walked in on Lea & I as we were "practicing in case we ever want to make another baby." He thought it was hilarious, ("You guys are naked!") but I can see him reliving the moment in nightmares. Thirty years from now, he'll either be in therapy or up on a clocktower somewhere.

Gotta go. Diaper time. Despite my complaints, I have to admit it beats working for a living.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A writer writes a writing blog but doesn't talk about writing?!?

It occurred to me that claiming to want to reach out to & communicate with other writers out there, and then writing a bunch of silly crap about David Lynch movies, might be sending a mixed message. So, I thought I'd devote this entry to actually talking about my writing.

WHAT DO I WRITE?

I've written numerous short stories, a few screenplays, several incomplete novels (more on that later,) radio comedy scripts for Coyote Radio Theater (check out www.coyoteradio.org it's a blast,) and (I am NOT ashamed to admit) some erotica under the pseudonym Christian Black ( http://english.literotica.com/stories/memberpage.php?uid=111531&page=submissions if you're interested in that sort of thing.) Horror and sex are my two chief obsessions, and I've got sort of a twisted sense of humor, so most of my work concerns some permutation of those three things. Horror-comedy, erotic horror, erotic comedy, or (it's hard get it to all come together, but sometimes I get lucky) erotic horror-comedy.

It might sound odd, but I'd also like to write children's books.

No publication yet. I've submitted a few of the stories to print magazines, and have received increasingly encouraging rejection letters. I haven't made any serious attempt to get an agent, as I've got this funny belief that I have to actually finish a novel before I can earn the right to seek representation.

HOW DO I WRITE?

Every morning, every day, between 4:30 & 5AM. My wife & kids usually wake up at around 7, so I've got about two hours of peace & quiet creative time. At this hour, I often start writing before I'm fully awake, before my body can assimilate caffeine. I credit this for the definite streak of surrealism in my work. In actually sitting down and getting to work, if nothing else, I'm fairly disciplined. The problem is, I seem to have either a phobia or some other kind of pathological block concerning finishing anything.

I am, at last count, simultaneously and actively working on 11 novels, 4 screenplays and numerous "side" projects. I'll work on something for a few weeks or months until I can't stand the sight of it anymore, then I'll put it aside and work on something else. Months, or even years, later, I'll dig out the abandoned project, fall in love with it again, and get a little more work done. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. The eternal freakin' cycle.

This methodology keeps me creatively fresh. I hardly ever get burned out or suffer from writer's block. However, it also prevents me reaching the end of anything.

I've also developed (here's where it gets weird) a very complex system of random factors to choose what I will work on next, and to grant me inspiration when I get stuck. On my desk in front of me right now I have a cup of dice and a deck of 169 playing cards which both key into massive lists I keep, of items & symbols designed to suggest connections to my creative mind. I told you it was weird.

WHY DO I WRITE?

For the fame and riches. (Excuse me while I heimlich myself; I just laughed so hard I swallowed my gum.) If I was doing this for the money, I would have quit years ago. Seriously, in my most optimistic moods I can't see myself as a Stephen King or a JK Rowling. Hell, I can't even see myself as a Phillip K. Dick or a Harlan Ellison (though those are closer to the mark.) In my wildest dreams, I see myself getting lousy sales & mediocre reviews (or mediocre sales & lousy reviews,) but accumulating a small but devoted cult following. People praying to my books in moonlit forest rituals, or poring over them for clues on when to drink the purple Kool-Aid.

Seriously, I just want to connect to the few hundred people who might exist out there in the world who might share a bit of my world view.

So, if not for material reward or public recognition, then why? I could feed you some line about artistic expression, but I would never bullshit you. (Whoever you are.) I've in the past thought of my writing as an outgrowth of my obsessive-compulsive condition (like Monk, only with a deck of cards and a cup of dice,) or as something like drug addiction (withdrawal is a bitch.)

Lately I've come to realize that I write because I'm constitutionally unsuited to doing anything else.

I don't have any college education, I'm not a "people" person and I have no job skills to speak of. My resume would be funny if it weren't so pathetic. I have never had a job which has fulfilled me in any way other than providing a (meager) paycheck. On the other hand, staying at home to raise my kids & writing my crazy little books gives me great spiritual fulfillment (though no paycheck- meager or otherwise.) I'm satisfied with the trade-off, for now, but I would love nothing more than to be able to say with a straight face that writing is my career.

I feel comfortable making all these confessions because I've got the nagging feeling that posting this blog is like whispering into the wind. I'm not at all sure anyone is actually listening. If you are, my friend, give me a friendly comment or two.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Is anybody out there?

I'm what you'd call a blog-o-virgin. In fact, six months ago I had no idea what a blog was. (It sounded like something you'd peel off the bottom of your shoe.) I am an anti-social, techno-phobic sourpuss, who always swore he had no use for anything like on-line community. In fact, both the words "on-line" & "community" cause me to wince and/ or cringe like a slug in ice-water.

So what brought about my change of heart? A few things. I'm a writer, with chronic incompletism. I hope to talk to other writers out in the world for mutual support, guidance and advice. Plus, I'm kind of an opinionated jerk, hoping to talk to other opinionated jerks out in the world for mutual animosity, misinformation and barbed insults. I'll probably encounter more of the latter, but that's cool.

I'm also a stay-at-home Dad (great thanks to my wife Lea for allowing me this opportunity) with two incredible kids. Dylan, age 2.5 & Lily, aged 9 months. The search for mutual support , guidance and advice applies here, too. I'd love to talk to other parents trying to raise human children in an increasingly inhuman world.

Having no real life of my own outside of the kids and my writing, I am a fanatical movie buff. Of course, having kids has put a serious dent in my moviegoing. The last film I saw theatrically was "Curious George." I wish that was a joke.

Still, most of my opinions concern movies. Here's a random movie opinion: David Lynch is a fucking God. (By the way, if you're offended by fucking shitty language, this is not the place for you. Buh-bye.)

Here, in my humble but utterly inflexible opinion, are the top 5 David Lynch movies:

5) "Wild at Heart." A true wild ride. Hot, sweaty sex (you feel kinda sticky just watching Laura Dern & Nicolas Cage going at it,) way over-the-top violence (Cage pounds a dude's head to pulp against a marble staircase to a vicious heavy-metal riff in the FIRST TEN MINUTES,) a turn-on-a-dime perfect Elvis impression, Willem DeFoe & the ugliest prosthetic teeth in film history and an intense scene of verbal rape ("Say fuck me.") Plus Crispin Glover stuffing cockroaches into his underwear. Fun game: Take a drink at every random "Wizard of Oz" reference. "You got me hottern'n Georgia asphalt."

4) "Twin Peaks"/ "Fire Walk With Me." The first season of the TV show was one of the most amazing things ever broadcast on network television. The second season- not so much. Still, every episode that Lynch personally directed had at least one scene of pure freaky brilliance. The final episode, watched by myself and five other people across the USA, was without a doubt the most surreal thing shown on American TV (with the possible exception of Urkel.) The spin-off prequel movie is a bad movie I love. Bad dialogue, cornball humor, incest nightmares and flashes of cinematic genius. (The nightclub scene & Laura Palmer's murder.) "There was a fish . . . IN the percolator!"

3) "Blue Velvet" I first saw this when I was fourteen & it twisted my head backwards. Dennis Hopper was so evil, he made Darth Vader look like a pussy. (Pussy CAT, that is.) I still get chills when I hear Roy Orbison sing "In Dreams." Sometimes I even hear Roy Orbison in MY dreams, and that's really weird. "You know what a love letter is? A bullet from a fuckin' gun, fucker!"

2) "Eraserhead." Made "Blue Velvet" seem like Velveeta. (You know, bland & cheesy.) This one struck a deep chord, as it was the closest cinematic representation of certain dreams I've had under the influence of a high fever or bad sea food. That might not sound like your idea of a good time, but I'd eat nothing but rotten oysters if I could have "Eraserhead" dreams all the time. Plus the scene where Henry eats dinner with his girlfriend's parents is funnier than "Meet the Parents" & ". . . the Fockers" put together. "They're not even sure it IS a baby."

1) "Mulholland Dr." Ranking this one first may seem like sacrilege to Lynch purists (there are some out there; they're scary people) but this movie has it all: deeply warped humor (check out the mob hit that takes out a vacuum cleaner,) Naomi Watts in a hot girl-girl sex scene, a true mind-fuck of an identity blurring ending, Naomi Watts in a hot girl-girl sex scene. (Listing that twice was NOT a typo.) About the ending: a lot of people have theories, but I truly believe that it's not meant to be figured out. It's supposed to lodge in your brain and fester for weeks, just barely eluding full comprehension. I don't do drugs anymore, so movies like "Mulholland Dr." are the next best thing. "Silencio."

So there you have it, a proclamation of purpose and unsolicited opinions on the films of David Lynch. Please leave a comment, on Lynch or anything else. I'd love to hear from you, whoever you are.