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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wanted: Claus, Santa (reprint)


So the song is on the radio at work.

                        You better watch out, you better not cry
                        You better not pout I'm tellin you why
                        Santa Claus is Coming to town.

And here I am, humming along with the song when I realize something; this is a threat.  This is a warning as blatant as any orange alert the federal government placed on New York in the last four years.
 Santa Claus is coming to town.
Now how is this a dire threat, you may ask?  How is an old fat man with a fluffy white beard at all dangerous?  Think about it; every story you hear about the old man has him doing something illegal.  Santa Claus (aliases include St. Nicholas and Father Christmas) should, at least, be in possession of the most speeding tickets ever, and worst be the most wanted international criminal since Jack the Ripper.  He should be the cause of more childhood fear than The Boogeyman in the closet and the monsters under the bed combined.
Think of it; the opening line of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town?"  Sounds like a threat; right there, it's menacing.
Making a list and checking it twice?  Only serial killers do that.
            He sees you when you're sleeping and knows when you're awake?  A Stalker!  A Peeping Tom, for Christ's sake!
But wait, there's more!  A guy who climbs up and down chimneys in the dark of night?  Breaking and Entering.  An old man who likes to give "presents" to kids?  Pedophile.  Accepting “cookies” and “milk” for “presents?”  That sounds a lot like extortion, graft, and corruption.  Flying reindeer in the dead of winter?  Illegal genetic tinkering, and cruelty to animals to boot. The reindeer's hooves on someone's roof should definite count as vandalism and property damage, plus illegal operation of aircraft. A workshop at the North Pole surely violates several international labor laws.  And what exactly are elves?  Small people?  Exploiting the vertically challenged at best, at worst, he's running a sweat shop with kids, not to mention the probability of counterfeit goods being produced. And don't get me started on the "Magic pixie dust" -- isn't that what they called LSD?
And how does he get all around the world in one night?  Sounds like somebody's going a little high on the radar gun.  And those sleigh bells, and the trademark yell of "Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night?"  at that hour of the morning on Christmas Eve.  Disturbing the peace, no question.
So parents, tuck your kids away tonight.  Kiss them on their forehead.  And for God's sake, watch out and don’t let them pout.
Santa Claus is coming.  And he's watching you.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

NaNoWriMo, Day 15

At the midway point, I'm at just over 11,000 words.  I'm a little behind, but I'm working on it!

I had a plan to make the rough draft available in snippets once I had it completed.  But to be honest, I'm really excited about this project, so I'm showing off the rough version of the Prologue and first two chapters... right now!  Feedback is welcome.





Prologue

Alex

     She’s got a hell of a grip.
     My fingertips are going numb right about now.  I shouldn’t complain.  The doctor did give me the option of being on the other end, but somehow I didn’t think seeing my wife push out a baby would necessarily encourage me to ever want to see her naked again.  So that leaves me here, getting my hand crunched by superhuman pregnant-chick strength as the doctor tells her to push.  My heart’s pounding and I can hear it in my head.  I’ve never been so scared, so excited in my life.
     “Okay guys, she’s crowning.  Next push should free the head.  You ready, Sabrina?”
     Sabrina muffles a response as she nods her head.  I tell her it’ll be okay and stroke her hand.  She loosens her grip on my hand just long enough to readjust it, interlacing our fingers instead of crunching my hand entirely.  I’ll have to remember to thank her for that, even though I somehow don’t think that in the things to remember about the next few moments, her changing her grip so she wouldn’t completely crush my hand will rank very high.
     I have to say, I never thought we’d be here, especially given the last year we had.  There was a point there where I thought we were done for.  And what a shame that would have been.  A baby changes everything though; we’ll be closer, more intricately tied, forever and ever.
     Which means there’s no clean break anymore.  We’ll be tied to each other forever, never completely able to eliminate the one from the other’s lives.  A baby changes everything.
     “Okay, Sabrina, push!  Push!”
     The pressure points between my fingers get hit hard when she squeezes my hand.  Her nails dig into the back of my hand and she screams right into my ear.  The doctor is yelling over her scream but I can’t quite hear what he’s saying.  All I can think about is the stuff Sabrina and I have been through over the last year.  And the fact that there’s a 50-50 chance I’ll be raising someone else’s kid.
     After all that, I really hope this baby is mine.

Sabrina
     Whoa.  That was a big one.
     I’m not giving birth to a child.  I’m giving birth to a football player carrying a truck.  And why in the hell does anyone listen to the pregnant chick who says no to the epidural?  I’m in labor, damn it!  I’m not in my right mind!  Drug me!  Make it stop!
     Alex tells me it’ll be okay.  Smug bastard.  Easy for him to say, he doesn’t have to squeeze this kid out.  They’re lying when they say it’s like trying to push something the size of a watermelon out of something the size of a lemon.  It’s like trying to push a big ass baby out of a little ass vagina.  There is no direct comparison.
     The doctor tells me to stop pushing and I finally take a breath.  Alex strokes my hand and tells me very sweet things, that I’m doing great, that I’m so beautiful.  Liar.  I’m sweaty, crying, and I may have shit myself trying to get this kid out.  And it’s all his fault.  That’s it.  I’m not letting him anywhere near my naked body again.  Screw that.  He did this to me.  As a matter of fact, if anything with a penis comes near me again, I may have to bite it off.  I’m letting go of his hand.  He doesn’t get to touch me again.
     The next push should free the head, the doctor says to me.  Don’t let me go, Alex.  We link fingers.  He’s so wonderful, I love him so much.  We’re going to be parents.  What if he doesn’t want me anymore after he’s seen me like this?  I mean, I really think I may have shit myself on that last push.  What if I can’t dance anymore?  Oh God, I should have thought about that before now.   What if my hips are permanently screwed up because of this?
     The doctor tells me to push again, and all I’m thinking about is Alex.  He’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me, I love him so much.  I don’t want him to leave.  I really hope this baby is his.
     Oh God, what if it isn’t?

  

1.

Eleven months earlier…
Alex

     It’s 6:45 when the alarm goes off.
     I find myself staring at the blinking green numbers for a minute or two, wondering what happened to the wide-eyed kid who swore after the first semester of college that he would never again wake up to an alarm at oh-dark-thirty.  Only garbage men and serial killers get up this damn early.  I spend about a minute debating whether or not to answer the alarm when my lovely wife stirs next to me.  And in three, two, one she will say…
     “Mr. Spence, are you going to do something about that alarm?”
     6:46 AM.  Like clockwork.
     There was a point where the alarm would be a precursor to early-morning sex, or what I like to call the benefit of marriage.  I mean, I don’t have to be at work until nine, and I live 15 minutes from my job.  Now it leads to me sitting up in bed and scratching myself for a bit before I drag myself to the shower.
     When we first got married, I used to think her calling me Mr. Spence first thing in the morning was cute.  Funny that.


Sabrina
     I tried earplugs.  I tried Ambien.  I tried all sorts of things to sleep through that god-awful air-raid siren of an alarm.  But every morning at 6:45, that damn thing blows up and he sits there and listens to it forever.  It makes me grind my teeth, it’s so irritating.  I mean, there was a reason we moved the alarm clock to his side of the bed.  So I ask him if he’s going to do something about that.  He groans and grumbles before he hits the off button, and finally there’s some peace and quiet.
     Time was I’d offer sex to get him to shut that thing up.  That was back when we both slept naked.  Now it’s too early, it’s too cold, and quite frankly I’d rather sleep.
     Seriously, you would think after seven years of marriage, ten years together, he would realize I’m not a morning person.

Alex
     A shower helps me focus, shakes the last bits of sleep loose from inside my head.  I get a good look at myself in the mirror and say the same thing I’ve said to myself since I was a teenager.
     “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”
     That was something my dad would tell me when I was a kid.  It was supposed to inspire hope and motivate me to do well.  It worked through school.  Lately though, it makes me look at things and I feel a little more tired, a little less alive.  If every day of the rest of my life is looking like this, then something went off the rails somewhere along the line.
     Sabrina usually makes breakfast while I’m in the shower.  Today it’s scrambled eggs with spicy chorizo.  Like yesterday.  I brought that on myself.  I told her once that I could have that every morning for the rest of my life and be a happier, if chubbier, man.  And she’s made it for me every day since.  For the last five years, every morning, it’s been two slices of toast, chorizo and eggs, and a cup of coffee.  I didn’t even drink coffee five years ago.  Now I can’t imagine a morning without it.
     She’s a damn caffeine pusher, that’s what she is.

Sabrina
     Thanks to my darling husband, I now get up before the roosters.  As much as I would like to sleep, after that alarm goes off for as long as it does, I find myself totally unable to do so.  Maybe if he would stop showering with the bathroom door open so I wouldn’t have to hear him talk to himself in the mirror I’d have a better chance.
     I get out of bed mostly to not listen to the noise of a shower going.  I’m sure I could use one myself, but this early in the day, who am I trying to impress?  I start breakfast every morning at about seven so that it’s ready when he comes down from his shower.  He told me a while ago that he loved my chorizo and eggs so much he could eat it every day.
     Really?  Does he realize how difficult it is to get chorizo in Bellingham?  Only a couple of supermarkets in town actually sell the stuff.
     I start a pot of coffee, even though I can’t understand how he drinks the stuff.  The smell makes me gag every day.  I guess there is some truth to caffeine being addictive.

Alex

     I give her points for efficiency, that’s for sure.  Every day, by the time I’m dressed and ready for work, breakfast is hot and ready on the breakfast bar.  We sit and we eat, me in a shirt and tie, her in a blue plaid bathrobe.  I used to think she looked sexy in a bathrobe, showing off those sexy dancer legs and tight midsection while rocking boy-shorts and a midriff-baring tank top.  Now I think it’s just lazy.
     “So what’s the plan for the day?” she asks me, the first words she says to me every morning.  I tell her the same thing I do every day: on the slate for my day is a slew of phone calls regarding overdrawn accounts, a couple of appointments with some older couples regarding their pensions, and the odd 401K consult.  It’s always the same.  I start filling my mouth with food whenever she asks, just to cut the conversation short.  After a mouthful of food finally works its way down into my stomach, I ask her what she’s doing today.  She proceeds to tell me her schedule, which is the same as it’s ever been since she opened the damn studio.
     Noon to 2:00 – Tango lessons
     2:30 to 4:30 – Dance fitness
     5:00 to 7:00 – Waltz lessons for upcoming weddings
     7:30 to 9:00 – Salsa/Merengue lessons
     Lately she seems more agitated.  I think she needs more sleep.  Or some of this coffee.

Sabrina

     I swear he doesn’t get it.
     Every freaking day he asks me what my schedule is like.  I’ve owned the Rhythm Academy for years.  How does he not know what my schedule is?  And good lord, how boring is his job that he has the exact same list of things to do for five years?  How can he expect me to pay full attention to him?  The only reason I’m up this early is because I promised myself that we would have breakfast together every morning.  It certainly isn’t for the conversation.
When I was a kid, the best times my family had was when my mom and dad, me and my sister Mercedes sat down for a meal.  Mercedes married that drugged-out ballplayer after she had his kid, and we saw less and less of her.  When she died, my family broke.  It was rough for a while.  When I married Alex, I swore whatever family we built wouldn’t break like that.
But have you ever gotten to a point where you think you’ve heard everything that this person has to say, everything he has to offer?  There’s nothing new anymore.  And on top of that when I try to talk to him at breakfast, he never looks up.  I only see the top of his head, and he stuffs his mouth full of food.  It’s so rude.  And to be rude at this hour of the damn morning, when I don’t really have to be up for at least another couple of hours, and the only reason I’m up is to keep him company as he eats breakfast, well damn.
The best part about owning your own business is setting your own hours.  And I’m not a morning person.






2.

Alex

     Working at the bank is boring.
     On a good day, I can see ten or twelve different people at my desk, setting up new accounts, closing old ones.  Giving financial guidance in our times.  Parts of the day, the place is like a library, so quiet and dead, no activity.  Usually, between nine and eleven in the morning, it’s a ghost town. Occasionally on paydays the few older people in town who haven’t quite embraced online banking or direct deposits will come in and drop off their paychecks or make a payment to their credit cards.  Those days are getting fewer and farther between.  It’s amazing how I can work for possibly the largest financial organization on the planet, yet we only have two branches in town.
     Well, three, if you want to count the one in the supermarket.
     At noon, me and a couple of the tellers go to the diner a couple of blocks up for lunch.  We go there because we don’t see people like us there.  We see the town: part retirement age hippie, part hipster artist, part undefined student.  They range between the clean-cut and the severely unwashed.  Some have this too cool for the room attitude that I used to have when I was in school.  It’s annoying to see that now.
     There’s a waitress here that I like.  I mean, she’s nice to me, not that I like her like that.  I’ve only been coming here a couple of months.  The food here’s shit, but they have good coffee and will boost it up with Irish Crème if you ask nicely.  That helps me get through some of the Fridays.
     “Hey, it’s the suit!” she says to me as I walk in, flashing those bright white teeth.  It’s slow here today so the lunch crowd must be out busying themselves outdoors since it’s one of the 65 dry days we see in the Pacific Northwest.  I take off my black jacket and park myself at the counter right in front of her.  “Good day or bad day?”
     I tell her it’s a better day now that I’ve seen her.  As she smiles, I tell her it means my day’s half over.  I realized too late that she was about to smile, but she indulges me anyway with a laugh.  She pours me a cup of coffee and slides me a menu.  When no one’s looking slips me some Irish Crème.  My day’s looking up.

Lucy
     He’s cute. In that exotic, one of the four employed black guys in town kind of way.
     He doesn’t come off as a total sleaze either, which happens a lot in this business.  Some of the customers you get are these old perverts who like to comment on your tits and ass, or like to inform you that you’ve made their masturbation playlist.  This town has all kinds.
     But this guy doesn’t do that.  He comes in, orders his stuff, sometimes he eats and sometimes not.  For an hour, I don’t feel like someone is staring down my black top and avoiding talking to me.
     First time he came in, I asked him if he liked cream in his coffee.  He looked at me all confused for a moment and said he was married.  I don’t know if he was trying to be smooth or whatever, but it was cute.  He sat down that day and asked if he could have some Irish Crème in his coffee to take the edge off a rough day.  I couldn’t resist.
I said how did you know I was Irish?
     Anyway, he came in today, and I could tell he was having a rough one.  He sat at my counter like he was sitting at a bar.  I swear, I thought he was going to ask me for tequila.  Some of the lawyers in town do that, but I didn’t figure him for the legal type.  I set him up with a cup of really strong coffee and when no one was looking, filled the creamer dispenser with some Bailey’s.
     I asked him who died.
     He said he did, a long time ago.

Alex

     I kind of blurted that out.  It wasn’t supposed to be as dramatic as all that.  I guess I was more tired than I thought.
     She smiles and says, “You look pretty damn good for a dead guy.”  Then she laughs.  Her laugh is a big, full body laugh with her shoulders shaking and her mouth open wide.  It’s contagious and shakes me out of my mini-funk.  I chuckle in spite of myself.
     I tell her the secret is good dry cleaning.  If you put enough formaldehyde in the suit, it seeps into your pores and preserves you.  She laughs even harder and I join her.  I completely forget about the morning, the boredom.  This is the high point of my day.
     She very casually tugs at her necklace and draws my attention to her breasts.  I catch myself staring before I have a moment to remind myself that I’m married and shouldn’t be staring.  Then she catches me staring.  Busted.  There’s that awkward moment of silence that follows that moment where she catches me checking her out, followed by me awkwardly clearing my throat and paying the bill.  I leave a double-sized tip to ease the guilt.

Sabrina

     There’s a new face today.  He’s cute.
     My noon dance class gets a decent crowd, most of them professionals looking for a new way to work out or meet women.  They get disappointed in a week when they realize the women are older and chubbier than they expected, or in three weeks when they realize how hard it is to get one of those “Dancing With The Stars” bodies.  I do have my regulars, mostly elderly people who have a lot of free time at home or parents of young children who absolutely have to get out of the house.  The new guy stands out.  He’s too young to be one of the professional douchebags, seems too single to be a parent and judging by the way he moves – coordinated, like an athlete of some kind, but lacking any real grace or lightness in step – he’s never danced a day in his life.
     But my, oh my, he’s cute.
     I can tell he’s never danced by the way he stretches.  He seems to be really big on loosening up the upper torso and neck, but doesn’t limber up his legs much at all.  Rookie mistake.  He’ll feel that tomorrow.  He seems entirely too sure of himself, like he knows he’ll pick this up easy.  He has a smug look of “this can’t be that tough” written all over his face.  He’ll feel that tomorrow too.
     But he is cute.

Max

     Everything and everyone seems to stop when she enters the room, and with good reason.  Oh, damn.
     She has a presence, authoritative.  She owns the room.  The studio is undeniably her space.  She works the room silently for a minute or two, weaving her way through the students, obviously checking for new ones.  Her eyes hit mine a few times.
     She moves with a predatory grace.  Long, lithe movements underscored by lean, powerful muscle in her lower body.  My brain screams, nice legs.  She sizes up the room, sees her regulars and her new students like a jaguar in the jungle, stalking a kill.  I notice because I’m a predator as well.
     I own whatever space I’m in, can tell who I’m dealing with, what I’m dealing with, inside of two minutes in the room.  All salespeople can.  We find the right bait that can get you interested, then we hook you and reel you in.
     She catches me staring at her, this beautiful creature, and I’m already trying to figure out how to hook her.

Sabrina

     We start with a few basic stretches, loosening up the lower body.  The new guy, Max, surprises me.  He’s pretty flexible for someone who looks like a gym rat.  Most of my regulars are in today, and these old people and new moms can’t touch their toes, probably haven’t seen them in some time.  Max with the flat stomach can.  Easily.  I can see muscle tone underlining his long sleeved top.  We go into some yoga stretches, trying to get the lower back released.  My regulars are struggling a little, but this damn new guy can keep up.  I don’t want someone to impress me today.
     We start with some simple movements; this is Tuesday, my beginner’s day.  I may have my regulars, but some of them are just not going to progress past the beginner’s classes.  The new guy finally stumbles a bit with the footwork, and he seems very frustrated about it.  Not as easy as you thought, huh tough guy?  Still, there’s something about his movements I haven’t seen in a while.  For what he lacks in fluidity, he has in liveliness.  His body is finely tuned.  He’s alive, unlike half my class with a foot in the grave.  His movements project strength. 
The women in my class are staring at his ass, have been for twenty minutes.  I’ve got the frontal view.  Oh, God, did I just think that?  Why did I think that?  Once you think that, you can’t unthink that.  Oh, great, now I’m thinking about his junk.  Why am I smiling?  Is that drool on my lip?

Max

     This is supposed to be the beginner’s class.  So why does it feel like these tango steps are so complicated.  I can’t quite get it.  It doesn’t help that I’m paired up with this lady who keeps whispering to me that she’s married and just had a baby.  It’s a little creepy.
     Sabrina, the instructor, keeps coming by, stopping our dance, adjusting our body lines.  She’s developing a habit of straightening my back and adjusting my hips.  I wouldn’t think anything of it if I was sure I didn’t catch her checking me out while we were stretching.  My partner, Diane, whines that I’m her partner, and Sabrina says to her that she should be taking better care of me, seeing that I’m a beginner and all.
     The music continues, elegant and orchestral, reminding me of that scene in “Scent of a Woman,” where Pacino tangos the hell out of that skinny pretty chick.  I think the song is the same too.  I tell Diane in my best Pacino voice, “If we get tangled up, we just tango on.”  She laughs, and Sabrina comes over to correct our lines.  She pounces on us, and is getting more and more agitated about Diane and me.
     She likes correcting my body lines.  I’m just starting to think she likes grabbing my ass.  I respond though, more eager to be the teacher’s pet than I ever have in my life.  Her touch makes me realize that there’s only one way to get the respect of a predator like her; you have to match her on her hunting ground.
     I’m going to be the best damn dancer she’s ever seen.


Monday, November 14, 2011

NaNoWriMo, Day 14

So, fourteen days into my writing adventure, I've learned a lot about myself and my style of writing.  The good news is that working with a deadline has dramatically increased my output and totally silenced my internal editor.  In that, the exercise is a resounding success.  I've written five chapters of a novel in record speed, and as far as word count, I'm 20% into my goal.

The downside is that when motivation escapes me, it's gone.  I do a lot of my writing at work because there's so much time spent static where nothing's going on.  At home, there's a TV, there's an XBox, and a whole host of other things to distract.  I still have to push myself to write at home.

But still, the point of this is to have a usable, workable idea in place by the end of the month, and I have a substantial amount of stuff in a project I might not have had the patience to get into without this.  So i thank you, NaNoWriMo, for already changing the way i think about writing.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

NaNoWriMo, Day 9

I end Day 8 at 7,019 words and holding, with par for the day being 13,333.  So obviously, I'm a little off the pace.  It's okay though, because this is more output for this length of time than I have done since I was a teenager.  It's all about finding the positives.

The story has gone pretty much according to plan throughout the first act.  I would post an excerpt this weekend, except that I have a much closer-to-ready project to promote first.  Punch-Drunk Bastards is currently being edited, and I will have a sample ready to preview soon.

I'm lucky in that I have a job where I can do the bulk of my writing.  12 hour night shifts rock for that reason alone.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

RIP Heavy D...

Heavy D died today.

That's a weird thing to say.  He's one of those acts that no one missed or until he was dead.  I mean, if you mentioned him, a certain group of people would be screaming "Ohhh, shit, that was my jam back in the day."  He had his fans, not like Joe Frazier, who died yesterday, and I counted myself among the number.  In the early 90's hip-hop was a different beast on the East Coast.  Instead of violent, crime laden stories, it was a much peppier, lighter fare.  This is the time of my life where "inside-out was wiggedy-wiggedy-wiggedy wack."

Heavy D was a direct connection to my youth, a micro-phenomenon that was contained entirely withing my pre teen years.  Not like Biggie, who will still get airplay to this day, who is still broad-based relevant.  Heavy D's influence is and was felt by a very specific demographic at a very specific time.  No disrespect intended, but a lot of the white kids who know who Biggie or Tupac is, have no idea who Heavy D is, and that's shameful in its own right.

Heavy D was one of the few examples of hip-hop that didn't necessarily glorify denigration or destruction.  It's evident in how he was found.  As of this blog post, the cause of death is still unknown, but there's a very good chance it wasn't violent.  In Old West parlance, he probably didn't die with his boots on.

I remember junior high school very vividly.  I remember we had a teacher, Mr. Gordon, who was a dead ringer for big Heav.  I wonder if he's still teaching.  Or teaching there.

Monday, November 7, 2011

RIP Smokin' Joe Frazier

This will be quick.

There are some people who are transitional figures, linking two or more generations through their acts, and leaving a treasure trove of stories in their wake.  In my lifetime, Joe Frazier has been one of those figures.

I'm too young to have seen him in his prime firsthand, but I have seen the footage, and more importantly, I have heard the stories.  I've heard the stories about the eloquent, nice-guy brute who took the "Greatest of All Time" to his absolute limit on more than one occasion.  I heard about how he gave back to the Philly community that spawned him after his fighting days were over.  I've heard a lot of the stories of Joe Frazier, whose in-ring brilliance got the street leading up to Madison Square Garden named after him.  And the world has lost a giant today.

The last story I heard was a recent one, how Frazier, ravaged by cancer, talked of reviving a music career after he was done with this cancer thing.  He then dropped his cane and did a dance.

Rest easy, Joe.

NaNoWriMo, Day 7

I got lazy on the weekend.

It was entirely my fault, but after the barrage of my first couple of days, I got bogged down by simply not wanting to write.  On a marathon like this, I can ill-afford to have days like that.

I've also decided that after the first draft of this is done, I'm going to post it, episodically, for a limited time right here on this blog.  In addition, I'm going to post the first three chapters of "Punch-Drunk Bastards" as a sample for you all to read and enjoy.  At least, I hope you enjoy.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Mr. Candidate (Re-run)

As it's Election season again, I dug up an Facebook note that I humbly submit as a conversation starter.


Hello, my name is Franklyn Thomas and I'd like to announce my candidacy for... well, whatever you got.  I'm not a politician, nor do I have any political experience, but that hasn't stopped some out there (I'm looking at you, Mr. Paladino from New York).  I'm not terribly angry as much as I'm tired of people who claim to have my best interest at heart, but don't.  I figure, hey, these guys are running on sound bites, I might try to run on something else: ideas.  Duh moment: this country has problems.  We need solutions.  Not the solutions that have been crammed down our throats for generations, new solutions from this era.  From us, not some wrinkled old dude.

For starters, as Americans we've been conditioned to believe for the last 30 years or so that the wealthy will save us if we just hand them money.  That is the essential concept behind trickle-down economics.  The problem is, it doesn't work.  Not in this economy.  It may work in a situation where we made stuff, manufactured things, but these days our prime export is debt.  We buy and sell debt like it's wood or brick or steel.  We don't manufacture anything on a global scale anymore.  This is a problem that is endemic to the bottom and has worked its way to the top of our system.  People would prefer to be ballers than bricklayers, to be power brokers instead of handling power tools.  How do we combat it?  We address the bottom of the structure.  As your elected official, I would push forth legislation that would allow the government to make it easier for our children and young adults to be educated, and for our educators to be better compensated and appreciated.  This would include a mandatory minimum salary for teachers in the public system that would provide a 50% increase in pay across the board.  In return, I would insist that a similarly mandatory accountability system that would be handled by an impartial group of parents, alumni, and teachers in the region to rank our teachers and the job that they do.  From the student's side, I would introduce legislation that would sponsor optional region-specific curriculum to better prepare students for post-educational life in these regions.  For instance: our farming states in the middle of the country would benefit from eduating our youth in how to work a farm, how to manage crops and farm labor, animal care, how to turn a profit.  This educational approach could be applied to a wide variety of problems plaguing our society today; teach our children how to better their communities, and those communities will better their towns, their states, and the country on a whole.

Expanding on this point, my government would be willing to abate most or all of the collegiate expense of the children and young adults who enrolled in a program that addressed a specific need in their region or in the country as a whole.  our infrastructure is crumbling, especially in smaller towns and cities across the United States; we need visionary engineers to help us fortify it.  My administration would set up a "farm system" of sorts, where we pay for engineers to be educated to their bachelors level, and they work on rebuilding our roads and cities for 10 years.  We need educators; students who would be willing to nurture their love of teaching would find the United States very appreciative of their efforts.  We need to solve our energy crisis within my lifetime so that my grandchildren will not have to bear the punishment of what we have put into our atmosphere for so many generations.  My administration would be willing to fund the dreams of the wide-eyed optimists entering college expressly to figure out how.

I believe in the ideal that the role and purpose of government is not just to defend, but to invest in its people.  The best of those investments in the education and the health of its people.  And even though I'm sure it would cost me voters who believe that socialism is communism, I would support the defeated Public Option for healthcare.  As a healthcare worker, I can tell you that the insurance companies do not care about you.  They care about their profits, same as any other business.  I would not deny them their right to make money, however part of their purpose is to make it so that being ill doesn't make you broke.  The insurance companies have not been living up to that.  Capitalism is the theory of letting the market decide.  I believe we should introduce a government backed option, similar to the option that is already extended to federal workers and politicians, that offers reduced cost health care.  The response of the industry could only be to reduce their cost, to not repel customers and to end the general (excuse my French) fuckery they have perpetrated on us for the last 30 years.  This may not be as important to the people of New York or Washington state, who already have the benefit of several insurance companies competing over your hard earned dollar.  However, states like Alabama or Tennessee, whose single, statewide insurance companies leave options limited to "eat shit" and "like it" could benefit from this.

The third prong of my campaign falls under energy independence.  This isn't simply about finding new oil wells on our land and seas; this is about changing our worldview.  The reason why the Middle Eastern nations are such an important thing to us is solely about the vast reservoirs of oil they sit upon.  We make bad deals over it.  We fight bad wars over it.  Our mindset must change.  Developing a new, sustainable energy source must be our top priority, if for no other reason than it will remove the leverage of groups like al-Qaeda, who can find refuge in oil-bearing nations who love our dollars and hate our ways.  We can end the extortion by finding another way.


My ideas on this are a little different.  This country is not homogenous.  The landscape alone could be divided into six different nations with six different needs and six different sets of resources.  We can make practical use of the winds in the midwest, the sun in the desert, the water along the Mississippi and so forth to power our nation.  The point is, we can figure out a way to power our nation without fighting another oil war, without worrying about another oil rig exploding.  Ever.  And as your elected official, I would work tirelessly, day and night to do so.

Lastly, and most importantly, I'd like to outline my plan for the unemployment rate.  Harsh, severe taxation for American companies who do more than 20% of their manufacturing overseas.  There is simply no room for that kind of outsourcing in today's economy.  There is no reason why these practices should be allowed to continue.  Conversely, I would like to initiate tax breaks for companies who bring their manufacturing jobs back home.  Overseas companies who do manufacturing in the US would be subject to the same taxation; heavy taxes for not utilizing American workers for products made and sold in the US, tax reprieves for high employment.

So, in conclusion, my fellow Americans, I would look forward to seeing you on Election Day, and we begin the work of saving our country and our planet.

... ah who am I kidding?  I'm no politician.  And this liberal-leaning blog post has probably cost me more friends than I would have had votes.  Still, it's nice to dream about a politician who had more than his career in mind when he voted on shit.  Oh well.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

NaNoWriMo, day 3

At the start of day three of this little project, I find that I'm moving faster through story setup than I usually do.  First chapter introduced the basic premise, chapter two takes that basic premise and sets pieces in motion.  Bang, boom.  I'm kind of enjoying this whole seat of my pants writing thing.  I spend less time thinking about what to write and more time just writing.

The hard part is shutting off the part of my brain that says "fix this" or "change that."  I can't afford to care about how stupid it may sound, I have a word count and a deadline to make.

The site mentions that in order to finish on time, you should average 1,667 words per day.  I did 1,776 on day one, and 966 on day two.  I'm learning that it might be prudent to shut my phone off when I'm writing, so as to avoid any stupid interruptions.  A phone call with a sick friend today became a twenty minute session of inane conversation, medicated yawning and intermittent silence that I could have easily mistaken for dozing off.

The focus on this writing project also means I have to avoid, like a plague, the dating landscape.  Arm-twisting not included.  It doesn't mean that I should be a shut-in, or that I should avoid the things I like to do.  Moderation is the key to everything, and that's a lesson I've had to learn in most things in life this year.  As much as I would like to bury myself in my writing, I can't ignore the friendships I have with the people who help keep me sane (read: all of you).  And who knows?  A conversation i may have may spark a little more creativity...

Monday, October 31, 2011

NaNoWriMo, Day 1

It's been a month since I found out about NaNoWriMo.

That's the National Novel Writing Month to you and me, where the challenge is to write a 50,000 word novel within the month of November.  The prize?  Having written a 50,000 word novel within the month of November.  It's a contest the way a 5K run/walk is a contest.  You're going up against yourself and your own expectations.  I decided that if I'm going to be serious about a writing career, 5 years between novels isn't going to cut it.

The story I picked is about relationships, expectations, and the rules therein.  Updates will follow daily.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Latina Fetish

I've always had a thing for latinas.

There was something about the roll of the "r." Or about the skin and thick curly hair.
Or about the way everything sounds sexier in Spanish, even if they're cussing out your
mother. (Go ahead, ask a Spanish girl to do it. I'll wait.)

I was listening to my mp3 player on the drive home from work, and finally -- finally --
I realized the source.




Yes, that makes me cheesy. I'm a huge fan, always have been. Don't get me wrong, I
know she's married, and by now she's in her late 50's. But she still looks like this:



Thanks to her, I've dated a lot of latinas. I've openly stated that I would lick Salma
Hayek's shadow off a hot sidewalk. A lot of old girlfriends were pissed at me for
that. But I'm saying. I've had her image burned into my head since I was five. Can
you blame me?





All seriousness now, I have to say I have nothing but respect and admiration for
everything the woman has accomplished. I mean, she had a very successful decade in the
90's after she BROKE HER BACK and was told she would NEVER WALK AGAIN. Props to the
ever-lovely, ever youthful Gloria Estefan. Buy her new album.

People aren't always what we think they are...

I never would have believed it, but there's a mildly compelling argument that my favorite ballplayer is a major league douche.

I went to a ballgame with my brother and his wife, an awesome experience in a pretty cool ball park.  Now I'll leave out the particulars (names, places, etc.) so as to not put anyone on blast -- Lord knows I don't want to influence negative opinion on this dude, or the team -- but the people who know me best will know the whos, whats and wheres of this little story.  We went to pregame batting practice, and as my team was the visiting squad, we were fortunate enough to come in after the home team did their thing.  Players took batting practice, fielding practice, stretched and whatnot, generally giving the fans a show.  As they returned to the dugout they were showered by the screams of the fans that came to see them on the road, as well as the requests of autograph seekers.  As always with this kind of situation, some requests are more obnoxious than others and I'll be the first to admit that upon entering the ball park, my inner 12 year-old came out and I was easily one of the more obnoxious fans.  Some players stopped and acquiesced to the wishes of these autograph seekers, stopping for 20, maybe 30 minutes and signing literally hundreds of baseballs, programs, ball caps, even t-shirts.

One player in particular, my favorite, was conspicuous by his absence in the autograph session.  now of course, the more obnoxious adult fans like myself deserve to be ignored by these guys.  However, children -- actual 12 year-olds in some cases and in most cases much more tolerable than myself -- were also denied this player's attention, save for the one kid he flipped a baseball to.  He ignored them for the most part.  No signatures.  no high fives with the kids.  Nothing.  It shocks me because this sort of thing is in direct contrast with public perception, that of the very approachable, seemingly nice-guy superstar.

I don't claim to know what goes on in this man's personal life, nor do I care.  Quite frankly, the daily life of most athletes does nothing for me, and my only interest in them is in their ability to entertain me with their talents and to further the goals of the team I follow.  I don't know if he's a nice guy -- I mean, he may just be -- and honestly, that sort of thing doesn't concern me.  And it is perfectly within his right to ignore fans.  He is, after all, preparing to go to work.  It's just that I didn't expect the indifference to children.  I mean, there was one kid in particular, confined to a wheelchair with cerebral palsy, who was collecting autographs from both teams, even the scrubs.  This ballplayer walked right by him.  It didn't make me rage against the guy, but it did make me say "huh."

It doesn't change my opinion of the guy.  He's still a phenomenal talent, and I would still trade my best 24 hours for his worst.  I just don't expect him to kiss babies.

And who knows, maybe I'm just annoyed because my team lost.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Best Revenge/RIP Andy Whitfield

Before I begin, I must over a very strong RIP for Andy Whitfield, star of the Starz series Spartacus: Blood and Sand.  I was a huge fan of the show, and quote many Spartacus-isms in my own speech ("Gratitude." "Apologies."  "Take hold of your c**k and be a man!").  He attained the success we all want in the final years of his life, and will always be remembered as the iconic character for our age.  Cold beers in the air, have one for the road.  May you kick ass with double swords in the afterlife.

***

I no longer live in fear.

This may have as much to do with the fact that I no longer live and work in New York as it does with the fact that there is nothing more the terrorist threat can do to me, but I am no longer afraid.  Perhaps that is the best revenge.  I don't worry about the next hijacked plane, or flying again, or any of it.  I've already looked into the eye of the storm.  I know what's there.  and it's not so scary when you've already seen it.

I was scared ten years ago.  The World Trade Center was my favorite landmark in my favorite city, and seeing it in rubble was deeply scarring.  Same as anyone, there are things I saw, smelled and felt that will be with me the rest of my life.

I remember the footprint my size thirteen Nike made in the wet ash along Rector and West, two blocks away from the towers.  I recall the first time the N train passed Cortlandt Street/WTC station, and how everyone got silent, as if the next move someone would make would bring the whole thing crashing down on their heads.  I remember seeing the iconic shot of the arches alone the entrance way, broken and on its side, atop all the rubble and burning stuff.  The smell of burning glass and steel, with a hint of charred human flesh. The dust on all the windows.  The posters.  All of it is so very easily recalled.  I wonder if this is what the people who talk about the Kennedy assassination mean when they say they know where they were.

I do not live in fear however.

I refuse to live in fear anymore.

I will never forget, and I will never again fear.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

First days of Fall/Black dude singing country

Okay, I hate to admit it, but I was the weirdo that absolutely loved the first day of school.

Back home, the air had a certain smell to it.  Leaves started to change colors, and the big yellow cheese buses rolled by with much more frequency.  Early-morning and late afternoon chatter of children seemed to highlight the weekdays.  My favorite season was rolling in, and it was in this in-between time during the first few weeks of school that I absolutely loved life.  I mean, sure homework got old before the calendar turned to October, but the first few weeks of September always had and always will have a sensation of newness to it.

And then there's baseball.

Over the last decade and change, I've come to view playoff baseball as my natural-born right, and to the surprise of absolutely no one, the Yankees are once again poised for an October run (eat it, Mets fans!).  The years in which the Yanks go deep into the playoffs always seem shorter than the ones in which the get sent home from the dance early.  No matter when it's over, the first few days of fall always seem to gear up that sense of anticipation in me.

I anticipate good things for the rest of this year for my friends, my family, and myself.  It seems like that last barrier that a lot of people that surround me have is about to break.  I can feel it for others because I see it coming for me as well.  Let's make this Fall a classic, shall we?

***

The other night, I reminded myself why I stopped drinking.

Monday night was karaoke night in a local bar, and for some god-unknown reason I felt it was appropriate to make my singing debut.

Thankfully, though, due to the fact that there was no appropriate recording device, I will not post the video evidence of my interpretation of "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy."

Either my best friend was looking out for me, or he wasn't.

Peace.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Chubby Me, day 20





Today's weigh-in: 256.6 lbs.

I've had slip-ups. Lost weekends. Skipped training days. I really suck at dieting. The results however are encouraging. Eating right most of the time does allow the slip-ups to pass under the radar more.

Thank goodness for summer sports. Basketball and softball have been helpful in keeping the missed workouts marginalized. And 3 slip-up days out of 20 is a lot better than I thought I would do when I started.

I'm heading to Florida in October for my grandmother's 92nd birthday. My goal is to be in the best shape of anyone there. Softball today, basketball tomorrow, weights on Sunday and Monday...

Big shoutout to my good friend John from Jersey. He watched the documentary, is doing the full-on juice fast, and has seen great results. Inspiration begets inspiration, and he's inspired me to try harder.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Chubby Me, Day 8





So, a week or so into my workout plan has me holding at 259.0 lbs. The modified diet aspect of this is the hardest thing because I have this unfortunate weakness for sweets. And Thai food.

So there's a compromise: granted, the Thai House restaurant near my house isn't home cooking, but it was good in a pinch, and I was careful with what I ate. Vegetarian Pad Thai (rice noodles) gave me the carb fix I needed, and it wasn't a horrifically sized portion. It was the best of bad decisions. The next day, I went back to the grocery store and loaded up on fruits and vegetables. More broccoli salad on the horizon. If it ain't broke, right?

Workouts have been going without a hitch mostly. I work out with a good friend of mine and I tell him that the surest way to know you had a good workout is that you're cussing at the weights. People invent new swear words for the stuff we do. I seriously do believe that Tourette's Syndrome was first diagnosed in the gym. Over the weekend I substituted treadmill running for ten minutes fighting a heavy bag. The heavy bag won. Punching that thing makes your SOUL sore.

Not drinking was made easier by the fact that I accepted a bouncer gig for side work at one of the bars I go to. Seriously, they pay me to party and not drink, and to assist people with leaving when they've had too much. Best. Side job. Ever.

I hear talk about kale, and I saw some in the grocery store, so I put out to the people watching... what the hell is kale and how do I use it???

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Chubby Me, Day 3






Ok, so 3 days and 2 workouts into my new fitness, healthy food plan...

My meals have consisted of a much more balanced blend of fruits, vegetables, carbs and protein. Juicing fruits was a good call. I mean, yeah, it feels like eating pre-chewed baby food, but it doesn't taste half bad and it takes up space in the stomach. I started the first two days with a mango/peach/pear/orange/carrot blend. I ran out of mango today, so I replaced it with apples. I don't necessarily count calories, so I may be shooting myself in the foot here on that. On the veggie front, I looked up a simple broccoli salad recipe and have been eating that for the last couple of days. For the people who know me personally, this is a big deal. I mean, two whole days of eating broccoli.

Carbs and protein were handled with a curry chicken recipe I've always liked and a small serving of jasmine rice. Portion was the big thing for me here, and with all the space in my stomach being filled with pre-chewed fruit and broccoli, it didn't take a whole lot for me to be good.

My workout has changed in that I did a bit more cardio in addition to lifting. I have been in the gym two of the last three days (would have been three, but a staff meeting threw a curve ball into my day), and the next few days are going to be revolving around the gym, basketball and softball.

On Monday, on my first post, I weighed in at 266.8 lbs. Today, after the gym I weighed in at 260.8 pounds. Not bad for the first few days.



Monday, July 18, 2011

Chubby Me

Ok, so as we all approach and live in our 30's, we come to the sad realization that we're not teenagers any more, and our collective metabolism ain't what it used to be. Some of us are fine with it, others aren't. I fall somewhere in the middle. Yeah, I work out, but not as consistently as I should. I eat okay, but not nearly right enough. I'm not fat, but I'm no Greek God, either.

I saw a documentary the other night called "Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead." It chronicled the journey of two men, one highly overweight, the other morbidly obese, as they sought to better their individual health through better lifestyle choices. They each spent 90 days on a juice fast, initially losing tremendous amounts of weight, and through this action became something of an inspiration to those around them, and presumably anyone who has seen the documentary.

Now I'm not going on a juice fast. I like food too much. But for years, I've been told by people close to me that I lack the discipline to do what was necessary to make my body work for me. That bothers me. Also, on a more personal note, as I've gotten older, my GI tract and I haven't been seeing eye-to-eye as much as I would like. So today, I'm beginning what I'm calling "The Chubby Me Project." I'm going to chronicle in this blog my daily fight with my weight, my body and most importantly, my discipline. This is day 1.

I will post pics every day of what I look like, gambling that I will show some progress and hold myself accountable to anyone who is reading this. In my mind, it'll play out something like a P90X infomercial. Now I already have a pretty stringent workout/exercise routine, and I'm going to add to it the diet. It is by no means groundbreaking, but here's my plan:

Add more fruits and veggies to my diet. I've done a ballpark estimate as to how much "rabbit food" I eat. We're told that the normal diet should include 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day. It should account for about 25% of your daily intake. My intake is somewhere in the neighborhood of 5%. I want to move it up to 33%.

Better portion control. The average American eats simply way too much food. We have this notion that we should clean our plates every time, and our plates are way too full. I am by no means an exception. I'm going to simply eat less.

Goodbye McDonald's. And Wendy's. Burger King. Basically, for the next two months, I will only eat what comes from my kitchen.

Reduce caffeine, eliminate refined sugar, and no more alcohol. This is the hard stuff. I work nights, so coffee is king. I drink 2, sometimes 3 or more cups a night. And who doesn't like coffee dates? No more. I will only drink tea from here on. That will suck, of course. I also have a significant sweet tooth. Cookies, cakes, pastries, goodies like that are always a weakness for me. No mas. As for alcohol... well, this is more general health than anything else. I'm a lightweight to begin with, I get tipsy way too easily, and I just don't like the way a hangover feels.

Anyway, I'm going to start today, along with beefing up my workout schedule. My first order of business... make some juice.

Cheers!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Fanboy-ism... or my blog post pwns your blog post

It's amazing isn't it? Our entire culture has been reduced to fan camps.

In this day and age, we are sorted and ordered into our preferences like good little sheep, and our formerly intelligent discourse has been brought to the level of "U n00b5 can't t0uc% th!$!!!" Every aspect of our lives, from videogames to sports to religion and even politics has become this rabid gang mentality of "we're better 'cuz we say so." Imagine that: 350 million Americans screaming at the top of their lungs about who is better. Our day-to-day lives has become a "Call of Duty" game lobby.

Sad, isn't it?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Grindstone/DJ3K

I've been way out of the game for way too long. I'm sorry.

I've been dealing with personal stuff that has simply gotten in the way of the things I've wanted to do, like writing. Who needs that noise?

The idea in place is to put my nose to the grindstone and do what I like to do, which is this.

***

Props to my boy, Derek Jeter. Number 2 on the scorecards, the Yankee shortstop has been my favorite ballplayer for almost half my life. Yesterday in the midst of a career day, he reached a milestone that is the benchmark for consistent excellence -- 3000 hits. Considering that the Home Run King Barry Bonds, with 762 steroid pumped homers doesn't have 3000 hits, this is a big deal.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Instead, You Get This

Just as an FYI, this week's blog was going to be a humorous look at my long-standing crush on Gloria Estefan.

Vancouver has become, by proxy, my adopted home. True, I'm an American. True, I live in Washington State. But considering the closest big city to me is Vancouver, it's what I identify with.

I rooted against the Canucks, as a joke mostly, because of the passion of my Canadian friends for hockey. The truth is, I don't follow hockey all that much. I just liked seeing Canadians get pissed off. Until tonight.

I've seen two riots played out in the news in my lifetime. The first was in LA around 1990, when the cops beat the snot out of one Rodney King on video and were subsequently acquitted, and the public outrage led to several days of senseless violence, senseless looting, pointless destruction, and stuff being set on fire. In 1992, a young Caribbean child was accidentally hit by a driven by a Hasidic Jew, bringing long-simmering (and utterly pointless) racial tension in Crown Heights, Brooklyn to a flashpoint, and leading to senseless violence, senseless looting, and inexplicably, things being set on fire. Both Los Angeles and New York had to bear the stigma of being cities filled with barbarians for more than a decade following. People to this day ask me how I managed to survive New York without getting shot.

What i'm seeing on the news is even more appalling. This isn't public outrage at a great wrong being done. This is violence for the sake of violence; sore losers and bullies taking their drunken frustration out on a hapless city, and a cruel misrepresentation of one of the most beautiful cities on the continent to the rest of the world, and all so soon after being so well-behaved during a much bigger Olympic deal. I do understand the passion for the game, the disappointment. To compare, I always say the closest thing I ever get to religion is being a Yankee fan. But in the end, it's just a G*d damn game. These players who represent your city, your actions do NOT honor them.

I was going to talk about a Latina woman who has remained beautiful under the radar for my entire adult life. Instead you get this.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Hero Worship

I've been obsessed with super heroes since I was old enough to read.

To be honest, I'm surprised, even at my age, that something like that is far-fetched, or somehow counter-culture, or unacceptable. This notion that comic book love equals nerd never quite computed with me.

Super heroes -- Spider-Man, Batman, the X-Men -- give us the opportunity to fantasize and experiment with people and concepts that simply don't exist in the real world. We are exposed to a concept of absolute justice -- the good guys win, the bad guys go to jail. we are given the opportunity to experiment with power and the consequences of its use. Through these heroic figures, we learn about tolerance and acceptance, about the greater good, and such.

I got beat up a lot as a kid. I have many less than fond memories of running as fast as I could with a 30 pound knapsack on my back, trying to get on a bus and away from tormentors. It's a story many of us can relate to on some level. Comic books were an escape for me, a way for to witness -- safely witness, from the infinite distance of fiction -- justice being done to villains very similar (in my head, at least) to the ones that were in my own life. Spider-Man swung in and kicked guys in the face. Batman did his scary, bad-ass voice. Superman did the laser vision thing. And the bad guys fried. It was all kinds of awesome.

As I got older and puberty set in, I saw myself in a lot of these characters. In my mind, Spider-Man was me, except caucasian and older than 13. It gave me hope because he was married to Mary Jane, an impossibly hot model/actress with gravity-defying body parts and a thing for nerdy guys. Come on, how do you not see the appeal? Batman was, you guessed it, me, billionaire playboy by day, psychotic badass by night. I mean, I'm still working on my first billion, and haven't quite developed my psychotic bad-assery yet, but still. Superman? Right again, me! Mild-mannered writer until the call came in, a plane fell out of the sky, or Timmy got stuck in a well or something, and there I would be, looking to save the day.

People have this appreciation now for these heroes as this massive marketing deal, or this huge movie-making force or what have you. I sincerely hope that we as a people haven't gotten so cynical so as to only reference these cultural icons by their ability to sell tickets and popcirn, because these stories represent much more than that. Super heroes are our Greek Pantheon. Comic books are our American mythology, the tall tales that will define our culture long after we are dust. These stories represent an ideal that is prevalent in the myths and legends of all great civilizations; that the powerful protect the not-so-powerful, shield them from harm, seek justice in their name. It is a noble ideal, that I would pass down to my own children.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Book Review: 13 Bullets

13 Bullets by David Wellington

From the Author:

All the official rpeorts say they are dead -- extinct since the late '80s, when a fed named Arkely nailed the last vampire in a fight that nearly killed him. But the evidence proves otherwise.

When a state trooper named Caxton calls the FBI looking for help in the middle of the night, it is Arkeley who gets the assignment -- who else? He's been expecting such a call to come eventually. sure it has been years since any signs of an attack, but Arkely knows what most people don't: there is one left. In an abandoned asylum she is rotting, plotting and biding her time in a way only the undead can.

Caxton is out of her league on this case and more than a little afraid, but the fed made it plain that there is only one way out. but the worst thing is the feeling that the vampires want more than her blood. They want her for a reason, one she can't guess; a reason her sphinxlike partner knows but won't say; a reason she has to find out -- or die trying.

Now there are only 13 bullets between Caxton and Arkeley and the vampires. There are only 13 bullets between us, the living and them, the damned.

Review:

* * * * * * * * 8 of 10.

No, this is not a new novel. This has been around for a few years, and I just had the pleasure of reading it. And all I have to say is thank you.

This book treats vampires like they should be, something to be feared. after years of suffering through the Twilights and True Bloods of the world, it's good to see someone finally make vampires evil again. Cold, cunning and calculating, Wellington's vampires are more sociopath than romantic, more animal than outcast, and definitely more serial killer than brooding loner He even makes fun of those types, skewering them viciously in every blood-soaked page. Our heroes, Caxton and Arkeley seem in danger every moment they are matched up with one of these monstrous foes, and seem like they'll barely survive each other -- him, the grim, secretive, scarred veteran of the havoc these monsters can wreak, and her, the dangerously inexperienced rookie to such horrors -- much less an onslaught of these predators. It all makes for a very tense read, chewing up page after page of action.

This is an aweome read, and a rather cool intro to this series. Thank you, Mr. Wellington, for making vampires fun again.

... For the First Time

Hello all.

For those of you who don't know me, my name is Franklyn Thomas. I was born and raised in New York City, and I currently reside in Bellingham, Washington. I work as a Polysomnographic Technologist at a hospital in the Pacific Northwest. And I'm a writer.

God, that sounded so much like an AA intro, didn't it?

Anyway, welcome to the first edition of my blog called "Under the Sun." Well, first OFFICIAL edition, anyway, in case some of you have read the various notes I've posted on facebook over the last few years. I'll keep this short because this is basically an introduction, but I will be talking in this blog about the many things that I find interesting in this world of ours: art, music, film, television, sports, politics, and more. I'll even post some original fiction from time to time.

So if you came here by accident, stick around, come back, bookmark me. If you're here on purpose, welcome. Let's ride.