Friday, June 29, 2018

Old Movies and the #MeToo Movement

Anyone who knows me understands the odd entertainment value I derive from crappy old movies. But I've been reconsidering that hobby. Recently, I watched a couple of old '80's teen comedies.
Bros being bros, yo! Fist bumps, beer bongs! Just joshing around! Ripping off unwilling females' clothing for yoks! Getting chicks drunk and taking advantage of them while they're passed out! Dude! Hilarity ensues!

The behavior on display from some of these cinematic so-called "heroes" is equivalent to rape.  Nostalgia ain't what it used to be.

Back in the day, I thought Animal House was one of the funniest films ever made. (So much so, I even sent my parents to see it. WHAT was I thinking? Good God. But I digress...) There's a drunken date rape scene played for yoks.
Of course, the problem goes back even farther. Recently, my wife and I watched a '40's film, Mildred Pierce. The heroine acted like she had no say in the matter while suitors kissed, bossed, abused, and raped her (subtle in the '40's, but it's there). And she didn't have a say. With nowhere to go, no sense of self-worth, everything socially learned and reinforced, she was boxed in by men's sexist, antiquated rules.

Men were brought up on these movies, the lesson being: Hey, this behavior is admirable. And women had to put up with this awful behavior from men behaving badly, too, not much alternative in the way of female entertainment. A sad case of cinema trickling into--even forming--life.

Maybe I'm part of the problem.

In high school, I was unpopular. (I hear you all gasping.) I was SO unpopular I was unaware of the extent of sexual predators walking my high school halls. I had no female friends. The few male friends I had participated in the usual locker room boasting and shoulder punching and joshing and bragging about female conquests soon discarded. Even though inexperienced in the entire realm of sex, even dating, I just laughed along, wondered what it'd be like to be a "playah." I wanted to fit in.

Of course I never did. Fit in, that is. But I also didn't realize the only male behavior I witnessed was appalling. When you have no control group to base experiences on-- except for what you're told and learn all your short life--you pretty much accept what you know as the standard to live by.

When life lessons coming from your parents stretch to nonexistent or break down or are filled with half-truths, you turn to your friends. And when their behavior proves confusing, you gravitate toward movies for role models.

Entertainment's not the only offender, of course. These stone-age beliefs have been perpetuated through education, religion, and social standards since the beginning of time. By men, of course.

Despite the blatant messages hammered into us by ignorant beliefs of the past, I'd like to think there's some human decency inherent in all of us. Some inner censor that forms proper decisions--overuling popular entertainment, prejudices, stereotypes, beliefs, or a collective unconscious--and lets people, young and old and in power (and our current president's behavior certainly sends the wrong message) realize that sexual harassment, and especially, rape, is absolutely wrong. Honestly, there shouldn't be any doubt.

The offenders need to own, accept and pay. And, for the love of God, stop.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Journey into the unknown! And beyond?

Okay, folks, here we go. This Friday--today!--my wife and I are off to the Amazon (again, not the intronets superstore, but the real, terrifying, rain-jungled, third-world country).
While I thought something occurring during the trip might kill me, I hadn't considered the prep. When you're not ready for such a chilling venture? Here's what your front stoop looks like...
Remember when synthetic clothes were a laugh? Now, for our trip, we need to load up on them. The better the long-sleeved rayon shirts, the more uncomfortable the nylon pants, the greater chances the gargantuan monster sci-fi channel movie bugs will stay away. Oddly enough, though, you can hear me coming a mile away: whish, swish, whish, swish... Dunno if that's a monster deterrent or attraction.

Remember, gang, everything I know about science has been learned from old horror movies and cartoons. 

I think I'm in trouble.

SO, there's a thousand, kazillion ways to die in the rain-forest. The statistics are staggering; something, like, only 10% of white guys make it out alive. In case this should happen to me, here's my blog-posted last will and testament:

*To my daughter, I leave my (pretty much worthless unless you're a geek) comic-book and movie collection. You can have the house, too, as long as you want to deal with the upkeep.

*To my guy, I leave you nothing, but do please clean out the second drawer of my dresser, the one with literature meant for men (if you know what I mean and I think you do).

That's it! Hands clapped, washed, tidied, everything wrapped up!

Hope to see you all on the other side. And if not, maybe (if I'm deemed worthy enough), I'll see you on the OTHER other side.

Should I die, please make me posthumously famous and read my book, Dread and Breakfast

Friday, June 15, 2018

Swab the poop-deck! I mean, literally...

Dear bird:

Why do you hate me?

First, you dive-bomb my car. Three times. Then my house, because the car wasn't enough.

I've never, EVER, hurt one of you avian fiends.

Just look at my deck. Those spatters hardly evoke relaxation.

Well, I thought I'd show you! I rented a three ton power washer. Painstakingly washed every inch of the deck, a back-breaking ordeal. It looked great!

Until an hour later when you unloaded again.

But this time, you changed up your diet. You discovered berries of some sort, some exotic fruit that apparently doesn't agree with your intestinal tract. Seriously, bird, you've got some messed up bowels.

Which leaves permanent purple stains no matter how hard I scrub.

Perhaps you discovered the dumpster behind Taco Bell?
I needed to seal the deck, but I couldn't until 48 hours. Out of options, low on patience, we put down a tarp. Ten minutes later...
Next, we planted a fake, scary owl. The fright made you unleash your pestilence even more.
We even tried balloons! With faces on them! While we look like neighborhood maniacs, you've found new friends.
Bird, do you guys have doctors? I mean, come on. Get some help. Just because you have irritable birdy bowel syndrome doesn't entitle you to take it out on me.

Speaking of irritants, have you heard about the supremely annoying demon with a comb-over? No? What're you waiting for? Click here by cracky for laughs with your scares!

Friday, June 8, 2018

Writing a police procedural made E-Z!

That’s right! For a limited time only, I’m divulging the secrets to writing a successful police procedural for only ten—that’s right, ten!—easy installment payments (which we’ll discuss later)!

(Disclaimer: Although I’ve not written a true police procedural, I’ve had quite a few cops and detectives tumble in and out of my books. Besides, I’ve seen enough TV procedurals to qualify as an expert.)

Ready? Let's go!

Step #1) Pick Your Lead.
This is the biggest choice you’ll face as a writer: what gender to make your lead. Once you clear that hurdle, the rest of the book will flow naturally. It doesn’t truly matter if your lead detective is male or female because they’re going to share the same traits: hard-edged as granite, muscular, no-nonsense, tough-talking, swagger walking, alcohol-pounding, quip-dropping tough gals and guys. Note that it’s no longer politically correct to have your protagonist chain smoke, so don't even think about it.

Step #2) Pack Your Baggage.
Your protagonist needs baggage, HAS to have baggage. Lots and lots of emotional baggage, so much baggage, it’d put an airport baggage handler into traction. Said baggage may be due to a series of lousy, failed relationships (usually due to a combination of drink, infidelity, and the stress of being On The Job). Or maybe there's the unfortunate passing of a loved one. Maybe your hero has had too many bad encounters with cable guys and has snapped. It doesn't really matter as long as he or she is damaged as tornado debris.

Step #3) Choose Your Lead’s Police Partner.
Another simple step, really, because there can only be two choices. Your protagonist’s work partner is either a newbie, eager-to-please, green-around-the-ears rookie cop; or a slovenly, donut-eating, burned out cop just days away from retirement. There are no other choices. And it doesn’t matter because the partner’s doomed within the opening pages. He may as well wear a sign on his back reading “Dead Cop Walking.” For he will be shot early on, oh, yes he will. And prepare for your hero to raise his/her hands to the sky over the late partner’s corpse and scream, “Nooooooooo!” Bonus points if it takes place in the rain.

(Note: A lot of writers choose to have a man and woman, both from the hard-boiled school, as partners. Naturally while chasing the bad guy, they'll fall into bed. Should you choose to go down that path, it’s fine, but don’t forget to add a little Yin to Yang.)

Step #4) Position Your Police Captain (and Immediately Disrespect Him).
This is the guy in charge. Invariably, he's always bald, short-fused, sick and tired of your protagonist’s lone wolf ways, and one step away from a heart attack. His coloring tends to run stroke-red. It’s a must that your protagonist never shows the least amount of respect for the boss, treating him with cool disdain and quippy one-liners. And it’s important to remember your protagonist should only address the captain by his last name or a colorful nick-name.

Whether you choose to make your captain crooked is entirely up to you. It's a popular choice these days.

Step #5) Master the Maniacal Laugh.
Your good guys are in place. The stage is set. Now things get tricky.

Bad guys are tough to do on paper. The Maniacal Laugh is particularly tough to express in words.

“For you see, Trina, I’ve been killing ice-cream vendors because of a tragic bomb-pop incident in my childhood years. I despise sprinkles. Mwah-hah-hah-hahhhhhhh!”

See? Doesn’t exactly sing in the written word, does it?

But, like it or not, you’ve set yourself up to write a police procedural, and you need an incredibly unhinged villain, lest your tough-as-nails protagonist comes off appearing uncouth, particularly in these sensitive and politically correct times. Maniacal laughter is a must. Please do approach with caution, though, and strive for a modicum of subtlety.

Step #6) Uncomfortable Sex Locales.
I don’t know what it is about these tough cops and detectives, but as a general rule, beds aren’t their number one location to have sex (NOT make love; tough gals and guys don’t go in for that sissy stuff). No, like everything your tough protagonist does in life, there's a tendency to take the road less traveled, a rocky road indeed. The love/lust scenes play out in alleyways (again, cue the rain, thus making it even more uncomfortable), cars, against walls, any place sure to put a cramp in the reader’s leg.

Not sure why, really. I don’t make the rules.

Step #7) Make It Personal.
Your protagonist has to have a personal gripe against your bad guy. It’s nice to tie this into the hero's baggage (see Step #2). Maybe the current serial killer was the hero’s scoutmaster or paper-boy. This will involve the reader in an entirely new level, pulling them in by the lapels (but since Casual Friday is the current popular mode of wardrobe, I suppose lapels are rather dated). Be creative. 

Ta-dahhhh! There you have it! Everything you need to know about writing a successful police procedural. Now all you need to do is go publish and make a kazillion dollars. It's that simple.
A different sort of procedural...CLICKETY for mystery and larfs!

Friday, June 1, 2018

A Child's-Eye View of President Trump


"What's up, big guy?" asked Dad.

"What's a golden shower?"

Dad peered over his glasses, sighed at his son. Folded his newspaper (not that anyone reads 'em anymore) over his knee. Took his sweet time, formulating an answer.

"Why do you ask, Cal?"

"At school, the boys say Prezdent Trumps likes golden showers. From Russians."

"Well...sometimes in Russia, um...the weather's different. Yeah... Sometimes it's so awful, the rain's golden there. I imagine our president was just remarking about how nice it felt when he visited."

"Oh." Cal scratched his bottom. Returned his thumb to his mouth. Clearly now wasn't the time to preach good hygiene. "But...the boys say girls like to wee-wee on our prezdent." Tears welled in Cal's eyes. Big, huge, dentist-office-painting-eyed tears. "That's not true, right Daddy?... Right?"

Absolutely at a loss, Dad gave Cal a hair-ruffle, signifying nothing. "Of course it's not true, Cal! Why...our president would never behave in such a manner."

"Kay. But..." Cal danced, a disturbing potty dance jig. Maybe a little too disturbing for a six-year-old. "...why does he hate cats?"

"Hmm? Whatever do you mean, little buddy?"

"Well, the prezdent says he likes to grab pussies. And he says it in a mean way."

"Uhhh... No, no, no. Nooooo. Absolutely not mean. Nuh-uh. President Trump, um, means it in a nice way. He's quite the animal lover."

"Really?" Cal's eyes glistened with hope.

"Oh, sure. He...ah..."

"Is Me... Mel...  Meliona his pet?"

"You got it, big guy! Sure! Say, isn't it about time for bed? Have you brushed--"

"What's Stormy Daniels?"

Mentally exhausted, Dad sat back. Took a big swig from his nightly companion, Mr. J. Daniels. "She's..." Another drink followed. "She's...a weatherperson. Yeah, that's what she is! Get it? Stormy? Just like her name. She...likes to predict weather for our president."

"You mean like golden showers?"

"Good night, son!"

"Night, Daddy." Cal ran up, gave Dad a needed hug. "You're the bestest."

"As you are, son."

"Some day I wanna be just like prezdent Trump."


(You guys need a laugh after this all-too-true presentation of the presidential worthiness of Trump? Look no further than NIGHTMARE OF NANNIES!)
Click for Trump free comedy and mystery!