Monday, September 22, 2014

A Walk Among The Tombstones (2014) - Review

Please don't go see A Walk Among The Tombstones.

I like movies. It's what we do. I like Liam Neeson, the main actor.

I like the books by Lawrence Block, who wrote the novel the movie is based on.

I'm sad that Liam Neeson was in this movie. The best actor in it was the young man who played TJ.

A Walk Among The Tombstones is a dark movie, unnecessarily dwelling on the dark aspects of humanity and depravity to a level of discomfort - and not simply to advance the plot.

The previews made me think this would be similar to Liam Neeson's previous thriller Taken, but it was not. Where Taken glanced at brutal aspects of the wickedness of humanity and returned to the plot of the movie, A Walk Among The Tombstones seems to revel in the scenes that should disturb people of good character. I hoped those scenes were an aberration and the movie would eventually focus on the plot.

They weren't and it didn't.

Don't give me blatherings about "artistic license" and "gritty realism" when you talk about this movie.

The bottom line is it was disturbing and bad and you're a better person if you don't see it.

I wish I hadn't. 

On Finishing Your Novel

I haven't posted much lately. I'm trying to finish my first full-length novel, titled "Zombie Apocalypse, Vampire Raiders of Las Vegas."

Okay, that's the working title.

If you think you want to write a novel, go for it. I'll tell you it is one of the hardest jobs you'll ever do. You won't believe me; that's okay. A standard novel is 60,000 words. You'll get to 5,000 words and think "This is a piece of cake" and believe you'll be finished by the weekend. If you manage to hit 40,000 words, you will weep that you are only 2/3rds to the virtual goal. You'll wonder if you can ever finish. I suspect there are a lot of people with personal novels in a desk drawer somewhere that have five to forty thousand written words - and they will never be finished. I have a few.

When you hit sixty thousand words you will want to go have a celebratory drink. I don't drink, but for a little while I empathized with the roaring alcoholic authors of days past. I salute you! I now understand why the bottle brought you relief.

Then you run into the opposite problem. You're over the virtual finish line and your novel won't be finished. I'm currently at over 67,000 words. They aren't all good words; many will need to be deleted during the edit phase…

I just need to get to the end of the story first.

Ah, and then the editing begins. This is when you must become a cold-hearted machine of verbal death, killing all the words that do not progress your story and deleting entire scenes that are dear to you, but boring to the reader (I say, Mr. Tolstoy, did you skip the editing?).  It helps to have a good editor. I have an incredible one who only charges me a dollar a page. My editor has an eye for detail and an ear for pacing. I already have to plan a rewrite for the first five chapters. (Email me if you want my editor's name.)

My edited novel will be so much better…

… when I finish it…

… if it doesn't end up in a drawer somewhere (like my seventeen other partial novels).

Oh, you'll hear about it when I finish it

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Take a trip with me

Picture this if you would.

You're a little kid again - or maybe you're just acting like one. It's a new day. You jump out of bed and get dressed to go outside. You're all clean and bright and shiny and it's a beautiful day out there.

You leave your house. If you leave your windows and doors unlocked somebody might break in, but we'll ignore that for the moment.

You wander down your own street. You've walked this road a thousand times, so it's safe. I mean, there's Mrs. Jeffrie's dog, but you don't go in her yard, so you're okay.

Wait! Here's a strange street. You've never been here before. Ooooh, it looks like fun, though it doesn't seem quite so sunny, but that's okay. You're brave. Off you go wandering down this street.

Some strange, sticky thing just stuck to the bottom of your clean shoes. Something smelly, like old cheese, just clung to your pants. The dirt in this road seems to float around you, like the dirt around Pigpen (thank you Charles Schulz). Some of it coats your clothes. Some dirt even gets in your mouth.
Maybe you even stop and play in that dirt pile over there. You know it's not a good thing to do, but it's too enticing.

Someone offers you a treat. Maybe he even tells you it's a vitamin and it's good for you. Maybe it is. Probably it isn't.

Now you feel sick. You're not moving as fast as you used to. You're not thinking as clearly as normal. Everywhere you go you spread dirt, and maybe, just maybe, a little disease too.

That's your computer every time you take it into the internet. It will always get a little dirty. It is always in danger.

Please, please keep it clean. Avoid web sites that might carry a virus, a Trojan or a worm. Run cleaning programs to remove all the dirt you collect in your normal travels - even if you don't see it, it's there.

If your computer does get infected, then you have to clean it up so it can go out into that dirty internet again. There's ways to do that. Coming soon.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Happy Birthday, Dad

My favorite photo of Dad
My Dad would have been 79 today.

When he was six years old, on Monday, December 8, 1941, Dad sold newspapers on the street corner where he lived, in North Canton, OH, telling of the infamy of the Japanese and our entry into WWII.

When he was a teenager, living in Detroit, he joined the Sea Scouts. He always smiled when he mentioned that.

During that same time, Dad was on a little league team. He loved baseball until the day he died. He played softball on a lot of leagues while he served in the Navy for twenty years.

When he graduated from St. Joseph High School he was voted "Most Likely to Become a Coach." He did coach my little league baseball team when we lived in Washington State. We were the Mud Daubers. I was a horrible player, but it was the best time of my life. Even getting hit by a fast ball is a good memory for me - now.

Dad joined the Navy in 1954 and became a Medical Corpsman. He loved the sea.

Dad met Mom in 1956 in Virginia. Mom was in the Navy, too. They married in 1957.

I was born in 1957. I'm still surprised at how young Mom and Dad look in the photos where I am a baby.

My brother Barry came along in 1962 while we lived in Florida. I actually remember that. Dad was all smiles and I fell asleep in front of the snowy test pattern of the black and white television.

In 1964 my brother David was born. We were in Saginaw, Michigan at the time, staying with Grandma Jen and Grandpa Mac. Dad was reassigned to Rhode Island and was getting everything ready for us to arrive. Grandma and Grandpa Comfort and our Aunt Candy (only seven years older than I) drove us to Rhode Island in a station wagon with those odd wooden panels on the sides. I don't remember much of the trip, but I do remember finally arriving. I probably slept most of the way; I'm sure nobody else did.

In 1965 my youngest brother Tim was born. Dad was supposed to go to the Antarctic on the USS Essex with his shipmates, but was assigned to shore duty until his youngest son was born. I always felt a little cheated by that, since Dad promised to bring me a penguin from Antarctica. A little brother just wasn't as cool as a penguin.

Dad went to Vietnam in 1968-1969, embedded as a Navy Corpsman with the First Medical Battalion, First Marine Division, Danang. There was actually a tiny picture on the VetFriends site. I have no idea which person is Dad.

He retired in 1972 as a Chief Petty Officer. He was very happy and proud to become a Chief. The family moved to Rockford, Michigan, a place I still consider home, even after being away from it for thirty-four years, more than half my life.

Dad had other adventures.

Dad died on February 8, 2013. He's still missed.