Friday, February 28, 2014

It’s the Last Day of the Month – Say Something!

Usually I have the taxes done by this time. I hope to remember to start them sometime today. I still have to go to the bank’s Web site to get some forms.

I’ve got at least two e-mails to write. Funny how I used to do so many a day, now it’s quite the event if I do one at all. Two? Holy shit! We’ll weave these into the schedule somehow.

I thought I might be done with Grace Among the Dead by now. Aw, hell, but I’m so close...I’d be a lot more perturbed about this but I’ve learned the work tells me what to do, and if it says take 20 more pages, that’s what I’ve already done by this point, with miles to go before I sleep. 

So far, as of this very week, I’ve done what I set out to do after Bleeding Kansas: taken my narrative another notch darker, another notch more violent. By way of counterpoint, the narrative is also far sunnier in general outlook, especially in regards to whether the human race deserves saving or not. 

Enjoy this while it lasts, because I have plans for the third book in the series.

It’s Friday, which means I work through tonight. Like I did the night before, and the night before that. My naps in between sessions are getting shorter. I will finish this.

I can't get enough of Matt Dixon's vixens. Please buy his 2014
calendar so he won't be too mad at me for using so many of his images
here! Art Copyright © 2014 by Matt Dixon.
Meanwhile., for posterity’s sake, I note the passing of Estela’s Mexican Restaurant on 8th Street in Colorado Springs. They were rated as having the best margaritas in town several times by the local alt-weekly, but I know them best for having warmest chemistry among any work staff I have observed. 

My daughter worked there, and since her car got totaled by some wrong-way idiot last fall I’ve been ferrying her back and forth. It was a nice break for this old basement-dwelling crank to sit at the bar and knock back Pacificos and Bohemias while waiting for her to finish cleaning, listening to the waitstaff banter with one another as they shut it all down.

All things must pass, as this week’s late birthday boy observed.

Meanwhile, I have pages to slay before going in to say goodbye. And then there’s those e-mails, the taxes (I need that refund, like, yesterday)’s the end of the month, though, and February at that. I figured I should say something. So, with that out of the way....


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Few Words on Today's Birthday Boy

George Harrison would be 71 years old today.

Imagine waking up and you’re 21 years old and the lead guitarist for the biggest band in the solar system. That was George Harrison 50 years ago today. Keep in mind that it was just weeks ago his band had assumed ownership of the US—and the world—on The Ed Sullivan Show. Not bad for a kid who drew pictures of guitars while in class and pissed off his dad by slagging off vocational school and joining a band with that smooth-talking older boy he rode the school bus with. (Today that boy is known as “Sir Paul.”)

Portrait of the artist as a young punk. As a council house-
raised son of a bus driver, George Harrison was even more
authentically punk than son-of-foreign-service, upper middle-class
poser Joe Strummer.Yeah, George had that going on, too.
Wrap your head around the fact that George joined John and Paul’s band at age 16, based on the simple fact he could outplay both of the older boys on the guitar. He would later go on to introduce the world to the sitar and the Mellotron, and though he labored in the shadow of two of modern popular music’s all-time greatest songwriters, it was he who wrote Frank Sinatra’s all-time favorite song, “Something.” (In a pissy twist, Sinatra believed the song to be written by Lennon and McCartney. Ob-la-di, ob-la-da.)

In later years George would form a band based on an impromptu singalong during the recording a track at Bob Dylan’s Malibu beach home. George would later crow, “I’m in a band with Roy Orbison!” And he was. (Keep in mind the Beatles’ first hit, “Please Please Me,” was John Lennon’s attempt to write a Roy Orbison song. Producer George Martin suggested the band speed the song up, which they did.) George was also in the band with Bob Dylan. And Tom Petty. And the dude from Electric Light Orchestra. The Traveling Wilburys were a supergroup model that’s been imitated, but never successfully, and certainly absent such a cleverly assembled lineup (Dylan and Petty singing backup together was genius). 

Oh, and George also invented the concept of the benefit concert. He got the notoriously cranky Dylan out of semi-retirement to surprise the hell out of everyone and play a set of his classics at the Concert for Bangladesh.

You’d think John Lennon would have been the one who connected with Dylan, but, no. That was George. The man who gave Monty Python millions of dollars so he could see the end of The Life of Brian, because he’d read the partially completed script and thought the concept hilarious. Of all the Beatles, he had the most fascinating network of friends and co-workers.

George has been gone for going on 13 years now and it’s just as well he beat the rush. The surviving giants have shrunk in their old age, as old people are wont to do. He lived a hell of a life in a hell of an age. Today I raise a toast, not to absent friends, but to missed glory.

Of course, as his bandmate John pointed out, we’ll always have the records. This is my favorite George Harrison song from his time with The Beatles. It opens with an even more jarring guitar than “A Hard Day’s Night,” then gets psychedelic with the Mellotron and more layered guitars. “It’s All Too Much” is one of The Beatles’ most delightfully weird recordings—and it was one of the throwaway tunes that ended up on the original Yellow Submarine soundtrack.

Happy Birthday, George. You are missed.


Monday, February 24, 2014

Last Monday in February: Take Us Out of Here, George!

As is often the case when I’m running hot and blasting out page upon page of brutality and violence and angst and old-fashioned two-fisted action, I feel like I haven’t done anything. There’s always so much more to go; it’s never enough.

This is but the tiniest taste of how I was spending my Friday night. “The inside stinks of murder and voided bowels.” I have lived my entire life to write such a sentence. From Grace Among the Dead: Book Two
The Saga of the Dead Silencer  Copyright © 2014 by Lawrence Roy Aiken. All rights reserved.

I come downstairs and find these pages on my desk chair where I left them at 1 a.m., the Word file minimized and on a page 17 pages away from where I was Friday. It’s still not good enough. Bukowski set a goal of ten pages per day for his first novel, Post Office, and wound up banging out the whole thing in two weeks. It turned out to be a lot more than ten pages a day. I’m nowhere near ten pages. I’ve gone weeks where I’m lucky to have two. Per week.

I’ve got to get better, no doubt about it. People have been waiting too long on this sequel.

Meanwhile, let’s celebrate what we’ve got going on for us, to wit: the last week of winter’s most miserable month. It’s a month so miserable 29 days is as long as the damned thing goes, and only every fourth year at that. Curiously, though, a lot of birthdays occur in February. One in particular belongs to the former lead guitarist for The Beatles, the late Mr. George Harrison.

Mr. Harrison’s actual birthday is tomorrow but I figured I’d kick the festivities off early with what I consider his best solo song, the great Farewell Winter song that is not “Here Comes the Sun.” It’s a timely sentiment:

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a monster truck to steal and a burned out section of Black Forest full of alpha-eater zombies to terrorize. Mondays! Sheesh! You know it.

Oh, and in case you’re new here, liked the excerpt you saw pictured in the first photo, you’re morbidly curious, etc., the first book in my series, Bleeding Kansas, is available for your stealing-moments-at-work pleasure. Hang in there (I keep telling myself), we’re almost through this....

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Scenery Gorn from the Cutting Room Floor

Installment 1: The Traffic Report

You may see this again in another form somewhere. There is an idea buried in here I would like to explore further:

Traffic is on and off. That is, we run into a swarm of zombies here, a horde of walkers there, and what the horn didn’t scare out of the way, the truck smacked and flattened. We’d go along another half-mile thinking we’re past the worst of it, then we’d come around one of the many curves as I-25 snakes through the city and there’s some undead yuppies and tourists in their varying stages of arrested decomposition pouring down towards us from the entrance/exit ramps.

There were a lot more cars littering the lanes though downtown but nothing we had to push out of the way. No, just lots and lots of dead people. Dead people who haven’t had anyone living to eat in a long time. I’d be surprised to learn there are any rats or squirrels, let along stray dogs and cats in the city.

We’re hauling ass, but so what? However slow or fast they move, they catch up eventually. Even here on the far south edge of Colorado Springs, where all that’s left between here and Pueblo is Fort Carson and the Fountain town exit. They follow the vibrations of the tires on the asphalt, the clatter of diesel valves in the air, maybe even our smell. You have to stop sometime, if only to sleep. They don’t. God help you if you can’t keep ahead of them—and most times you can’t. You’d be amazed how much distance a shambling walker dragging one leg behind him can cover in an hour.

Dunno about you, but I hope I never find out. Good Lord deliver us from the relentless, sleepless, insatiable dead!

While waiting on me to finish Grace Among the Dead, catch up on the trilogy-in-progress with Book 1, Bleeding Kansas. There are worse ways to do a Saturday night. Trust me, I done ‘em.

Art Copyright © 2014 by Mike Bell. Via


Bleary Bright Saturday

Man, is it Saturday already? I went to bed early last night, thinking it might help. The Benadryl would keep me down and allow me to wake up at a decent hour. I slept nine hours. It was 10:30 when I got up. Shit!

I wrote five pages yesterday and I’m still a ways away from my Ultimate Boss Fight. Still a ways away from finishing the book. What the fuck am I doing on this blog?

Just checking in. I’m 211 pages into Grace Among the Dead, as in “starting page 212.” The second edition of Bleeding Kansas is 214 pages but this one will be a wee bit longer. This is my Empire Strikes Back, my Godfather II, my sequel to surpass the original.

Having thus talked myself up it’s time to drop, give myself a round of pushups and crunches, and plant my ass back in the chair. February will be the month Grace Among the Dead goes to the publisher. I’ve only got so many days left.

Better get steppin’!
Coming Soon! (Image courtesy of the Hollywood Sign Generator.)


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Ass, Meet Chair!

Seriously, make yourself at home. ‘Cause you ain’t goin’ nowhere for a while....

Six inches of wet, heavy snow. It’s one of those days when I ask, “Do I really have to go anywhere?” and upon ascertaining, “oh hell no,” I shower, change into clean flannel pajamas, and wrap myself in my bathrobe. Time to go to work! 

All this and 80%-pure dark chocolate with my coffee are perks of the job, but these “perks” are actual necessities as I craft the climax and finale to Grace Among the Dead. As my 17-year-old son, with his inherited Aiken panache, describes it, I’m about to put in some major ass-hours in this office chair. (James would know, because “puttin’ down ass-hours” is how he’s made honor roll since 20 weeks old in the womb.) As of 24 or so hours ago all clocks are bullshit to me because this ain’t over until I finish it. 

I’m pages away from the Final Grudge Match/Ultimate Boss Fight with weaponized “alpha eaters” and a flame-throwing monster truck, and if do this right I’m going to need another shower before I pass out to get all the imaginary gore off of me. Which I won’t take, because I’m not going to sleep, only collapsing into unconsciousness until the next round. It’s ugly and grueling, but by God I will send February 2014 out with the biggest slap on its backside....
I’ll be right here, typing into a wireless ergonomic keyboard into a laptop sitting on braces I’ve installed in the wall. in the corner of our finished basement. Yes, I’m a “basement dweller.” What, I should do this in the fucking living room? The kitchen? First off, it’s MY basement, not my (long dead, thank God) parents’. I’m not morbidly obese, nor do I own a trilby (what Internet idiots mistake for a fedora). Moreover, I’ve been married for going on 24 years so fuck you and your stereotypes, you stereotypically smug Internet idiots!

I do wish to note for the record that, for all the places I have had a computer and a keyboard set up to write, from South Carolina to Illinois to Florida to California to Japan to Alaska to Washington state to Virginia, etc., this little underground corner in Colorado is where my real novel writing (as in, books begun and FINISHED) happened. I’m about to finish my third novel here. Right after I refill that big black coffee mug at lower left.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

My First Review for BLEEDING KANSAS!

Five stars, baby!
This book gripped me from the first few pages. The plot has unexpected turns, the characters are interesting, and the dialogue is believable. Zombies are an ongoing threat while humans engage in deadly schemes. The protagonist is cynical, compassionate, hardened, and funny. In other words, he’s a human being, not a cardboard cutout. The writing is clear, direct, and free of misused words, misspellings, and grammatical errors. This book is the first in a series of three books, and book two is promised to be available soon. I can hardly wait.

I’ve been checking back every other day since Bleeding Kansas rebooted on 25 January, at once dreading reviews, then feeling a little freaked no one had felt strongly enough about my book to post an opinion. This showed up, and I froze. It was a couple of minutes before I could read it.

Yes, it’s insane. Even the best reviews freak me out. It’s something I’ve got to get over, but for the time being it’s bad juju for me to concern myself with the opinions of others when I’m crafting something. It just hexes the sweet motherfuck out of me. And here I am talking about juju and hexes when what I’m trying to is craft a clean, logical narrative.

It was not the shaman, but the scientist and competent technician in me that won my reviewer’s accolades. Such is the state of the e-book market that a professional polish plays a big part in your scoring. A reviewer of the previous edition of Bleeding Kansas (now available only in paperback) gave me three stars, even after complaining of Derek Grace’s attitude, because he didn’t get poked in the eye every page by a glaring typo. 

The hell of it is I caught more typos in that first edition while editing it for the second edition. That was after I’d gone through the first edition twice, and Severed Press’ proofreader went through it once before I went through it twice more before committing to publication. It’s a good thing for me my current reviewer came across the most recent, far more polished edition.

Takeaway: Quit complaining about how hard and boring it all is and DESTROY ALL TYPOS. Whether your readers are paying 99 cents or $15.99 for your book they’re expecting a professional looking job. If it takes too long for you to find all the typos, then engineer a more efficient proofreading methodology. Or whatever. If it takes you a year, you must clean, spit-shine, and detail every molecule of that machine before you roll it out. Don’t damage your brand by rolling out gundecked slop. People are not inclined to give you a second chance where their money is concerned.
Only $2.99, and only the best for my readers. 

It helps if you have a good working machine, too. As in “a story” (what?) with all the moving parts of plot and character functioning as they should. For my part, I welcome an exacting audience who don’t throw their money and praise at any old thing. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

“It’s Getting Very Near the End” (For the Third Time)

Admittedly, the song is only intermittent in my head. That’s because I’m forcing it. Not like the last two times, when it popped up unbidden as soon as I came to consciousness in the morning, because I knew at the subatomic synaptic level that I was on my last week writing The Roiling River of Dead and Bleeding Kansas.

No reason, save that I’m referencing Poe
which reminded me of this, which made me laugh.
Progress is being made, and I’m forcing that, too. But isn’t it always? I’m terrible with deadlines—the Imp of the Perverse within me is very good at deliberately, and with malice aforethought, ignoring them—but I find myself pushing ahead with the pages. (Word count? Fuck word count! Pros count pages!) Pages that need work, but obsessing over the same 20 pages for six weeks is why I haven’t made any progress for six weeks. Or six months, which was when I might have finished this thing if I’d thrown out my Roiling River of Dead template, and written Grace Among the Dead from the ground up with a revised outline based on Roiling

Which makes no sense to you, and I apologize. The bottom line is, my aversion to deadlines aside, I’ll have Grace Among the Dead‘s e-manuscript in e-editorial at Severed Press by late Sunday night, or I’m going to have a king-hell fit.

It starts with this song, featuring the irreplaceable three-part harmony of George Harrison, John Lennon, and Paul McCartney. I might sign off with “I’m going dark for a few days” but for all I know I may post again in a few hours. Or Friday. Or next week.

The main thing is to see this beautiful thing to the end before it turns sour on me. Gentlemen of the band, take us out of here:


Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Propaganda Ministry’s Week 7 2014 Greatest Hits (Sunday News Roundup)

Funny how this works: I’m spinning wheels like mad trying to go forward with Grace Among the Dead and I’m blasting out one blog post after another. I start getting some traction with my book and suddenly I could give a shit about current events.

Let’s see, what’s been in the news since Thursday? An actress who had a critically favored movie (as opposed to one normal people actually wanted to watch) several years ago “courageously” came out as a lesbian in front of a bunch of other lesbians and gay people. Why? Oh, the usual happy horseshit about being true to herself, etc. It’s only coincidental that she’s been out of the spotlight for years since that critically favored movie, and it so happens she has a new movie she really wants you to see. 

So go see it, because this cute young actress is already filthy rich and connected and it’s not like she’ll lose her job for “coming out,” but she really needs your validation. Or something. I don’t know. Only that I’m unimpressed. Get back to me when you’re in actual danger of something worse than an verbal insult.

The 2014 Winter Olympics are in Sochi this year, which is in Russia. Judging by what’s coming out of the Propaganda Ministry that is the U.S. mass media, the Powers That Be apparently have a vested interested in making sure we all have a proper suspicion and hatred of Russians in general, and Vladimir Putin in particular. Russians are supposedly mean to gay people. Or something. We’re told Putin doesn’t like them. I don’t know. Funny how those Pussy Riot chicks kinda came and went in the news; it’s all about gay people.

And is it really safe in Sochi? Putin supposedly gave all his cronies the contracts which overcharged the Russian taxpayers for building the Olympic facilities, so someone might have cut corners. It seems to me we could be doing three stories a day on three examples of this happening to U.S. taxpayers vis-a-vis Big Dig construction contracts, weapons, the hasn’t-quit-yet Drug War. But we’re supposed to be angry with the Russians in general, for letting this happen to them, and Vladimir Putin in particular because he’s such an asshole. Or something.

From Morbid Anatomy Museum’s Facebook page:
Machina del Mondo, ogn’un cerca di star sopra il compagno;
Etching with hand-colouring, 1675-1710. “A pyramid of ten
persons climbing on top of each other, the poor at the bottom,
the king at the top; Death appears to take them all.”
There was this guy in Florida who lost his shit over loud hip-hop booming out of a car at the gas station so he whipped out his piece and right perforated the son of a bitch, killing one 17-year-old black kid and scaring the holy fuck out of the other three. He got convicted on three of four charges, with the jury deadlocked on whether he actually murdered the kid or acted in self-defense.

People are pissed about this last part because it was so obviously racist and shit but the guy’s going to prison until he’s 105, so what the hell. It beats having people angry at the recession-as-the-new-normal, the hateful way people are treated by employers, the invasive nature of pre-employment “getting to know you” exams, piss tests, etc. Or how the people pay more in fees and local sales taxes when the wealthy and corporations are exempted from paying their share. Etc., etc. Racism! Marriage equality! People smoking marijuana in Colorado! Wheeeeee!

In other news, it’s still winter in New York where the Real People who do the Real Suffering live, so that’s still a feature on the nightly broadcast TV news. I don’t know how it is for you folks out there with cable or satellite and I’m sure I don’t want to know.

The weather was pleasant today in Colorado Springs, a little windy, but it’s melted off a lot of the zero-degree hardened snow and ice from the lawns and the gutters of the streets. I had a real sweet walk today. I’ve got an outline going for the conclusion of Grace Among the Dead. All I have to do is connect the bullet points.

I’ve got a busy week ahead. Sunday night’s as good as any to get started.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A Lincoln’s Birthday Resolution

Having read my posts over the last few weeks I have come to the conclusion that I am in possession of a toxic attitude (among many) which needs to be shut down ASAP.

Henceforth I resolve to emancipate myself from my bitterness over our Great Cultural Entropy. I will no longer weep and wail that there will never be another Next Big Thing like The Beatles to transform our lives with their songwriting.

The dream is over.

The best songs have been written, along with the best books. The Great American Novel is dead, and that’s it, it’s not coming back. 

It’s probably just as well.

There will never be another Great Movie or anything along those lines. It’s all remakes and reboots and recycling from here on out.

Going out to the movies is an exercise in tolerance for rudeness, which I cannot sustain for the time required. As for watching movies at home, I actually find it difficult to make the time. It’s all right. I’ll deal. I’ve been dealing for decades. I’ve got a long list of supposed “classic” movies I’ve never seen. I am no poorer for it.

Most of all, I need to make my peace with the fact that technology will not take us to the stars, only find ways of making us dependent on gadgets that make us more efficient consumer/slaves while keeping us under surveillance, for our buying habits as well as possible “anti-social” (or whatever) activity.

It’s the Dark Ages with smartphones and many times more mouths to feed, waste to process, resources to burn. We’re not only going to die on this rock, we’re going to do it in the dumbest, most never-should-have-happened way possible. Not with a bang, but a “durr?”

So why complain? It won’t help us survive it. We certainly ain’t thrivin’ with this attitude, that’s for sure.

All right, then. Back to work.

Two Birds, One Stoned

Why not just get it over with...

...then we can get to work on the stuff that’s really killing us.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Tuesday Weirdnesses

I do my morning Facebook patrol and see photos of Shirley Temple everywhere. One friend had even appropriated one as her profile picture. Turns out the old broad, who I once read had paved over her lawn because she didn’t want to have to worry over it getting crabgrass, had died overnight.

Two thoughts: She was still alive all this time? and So? The curly-headed child actress who had a non-alcoholic cocktail named after her was over a long, long, long time ago. As of tomorrow everyone will go back to forgetting she existed, and she’ll be really over.

I know a lot of people who ride for the conservative brand but only one of them noted that today is Sarah Palin’s birthday. Don’t cry for her, though, even as her looks have faded along with her media presence. And don’t smirk, either.

Sarah Palin is richer than everyone reading this blog put together. If she wants she can fly herself and her family to Hawaii on a chartered jet, stay at a first class resort, and pay for it all with one 20 minute speech to a Liberty Freedom Don’t Tread on My Constitutionalist Tea Party group. She could do all that right this very instant, if the spirit moved her, while you, poor chump, are probably reading this at work—that is, if you’re lucky enough to have a job. Who’s the big dum-dum now?

In case anyone’s confused, my politics, such as they are, don’t jibe with Sarah Palin’s. I do find it as sad as it is silly, though, when people make fun of her seemingly limited intelligence. It’s been true since the dawn of civilization that, unless you’re a U.S. History teacher, one does not need to know the full details of Paul Revere’s ride to make it in this world. Like George W. Bush, like anyone else, Ms. Palin knows exactly what she needs to know to get by. (Honestly, does it affect anything that you know where Iraq is on a map?) Unlike most of us, she’s done exceedingly well for herself. She wasn't even born into it, like George W. Bush.  

I find great lessons in humility in her story. I’d wish her a Happy Birthday, but she gets by just fine without my good wishes, as she prospers despite your hate. That, and I have to get back to work. As always I’ll count myself blessed I can do what I do and carry on as best I know how.

According to The Beatles’ Facebook timeline, there has been such “interest” in The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to the Beatles that it’s being repeated tomorrow night. But if you really need a woman in an ugly dress to ruin “Yesterday” for you why not go to YouTube and look it up right now?

Broadcast television. How much longer is this going to be a thing? It still amazes me how many people still pay over $100 a month for satellite or cable when you can get everything you ever wanted to see, with the exception of some sporting events, over the Internet. (And as far as sporting events go—find a good sports bar and make an outing of it!)

I suppose I should be grateful I’m not already paying over $100 for my Internet service. I suspect the day isn’t far off, though.

And that was my world according to Facebook this morning. Nobody I cared about died or got hurt so it’s all good. Let’s get to work.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Pop to Paint a Gray February Afternoon “Orange Appled” by Cocteau Twins

It’s trying to snow in north Colorado Springs and not quite succeeding. I’d take a cold rain at this point. We can always use the moisture out West, especially in Colorado.

It’s just as well I neglected to get this song up on Candlemas when I’d meant to. I’d hate to think of this happy anthem by the ambient pop group Cocteau Twins getting lost in the Super Bowl shuffle. A cold gray day like today needs itself “Orange Appled.” It just stands to reason:

This video was the least stupid thing I could find for this song on YouTube, which reminds me: another item on my To Learn agenda is how to create and upload a better YouTube video. Put it on the list, then. Sony Vegas, here I come....

Welcome to (Lucky?) Week 7

I don’t know what got into me this weekend. Especially yesterday when I banged out four posts. I didn’t do them one after another, but wrote and posted each one after some activity. I typed right off the top of my head, formatted, published, and tweaked a bit after publishing. That was it.

It occurred to me I’m really blogging now, as the word “blog” is a portmanteau (one word made of two smushed together, you Philistine) of “web log.” Well. Imagine that. After fumbling blindly with this for three years come this March, I’m finally getting the hang of it.

Now for the trippy part: of a rant on Google Analytics, another about last night’s lousy Grammy Salute to The Beatles, a meme with Jesus chasing the moneychangers out of the temple, and some week-old Super Bowl Food Porn, the Super Bowl Food Porn owned the pageviews. Apparently I’m not the only one who can’t get enough of my wife’s bacon-wrapped cream cheese jalapeƱo poppers.

She also makes a killer breakfast quiche. With turkey bacon. The photo doesn’t do it justice, and as food photography is another learning curve I’ve yet to master, here’s a photo I found of a bacon cheeseburger wedding cake:
The champagne fountain runs cold draft pale ale. This is how a boss gets married.

Thus fortified, we sally forth to finish Chapter 22, in which we’ll learn the ultimate fate of a major character before setting out to procure an item that will prove most decisive in settling the Final Battle. 

It’s Week 7 of the New Old Year, culminating in Valentine’s Day and the Ides of February, taking us halfway through the second month of 2014. Let’s finish a few things so we can get on to the big What’s Next!

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Late Night Thoughts on Having Watched Another Cheesy Beatles Special

About a CBS TV special called The Night That Changed America, and realizing how lame everything is one half-century down the road. So this is the future. Oh, well.

I didn’t stick around for all of it. Her fabulous foam and fireworks-shooting fun bags be damned, I was not under any circumstances going to be in the room when Katy Perry butchered “Yesterday.” It was bad enough seeing how awful Annie Lennox looked doing “The Fool on the Hill,” and hearing how sadly shot her own voice is. 

Cheesy Beatles tribute specials seem to be a staple of Sunday winter nights—I remember an especially awful one hosted by Tony Randall in 1978—but this one was especially special, as it marked the 50th anniversary of the night that sold a million guitars, when The Beatles first appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Sir Paul and Ringo were there, reminding me of George Carlin’s acid observation that “the wrong two Beatles died.” No, seriously, good on Sir Paul and Ringo for not getting shot or dying of throat cancer. But watching all these top o’ the line professionals embarrass themselves trying to belt out John’s vocals and or play George’s guitar lines only pointed up how much these men are missed.

There is nothing quite like being so forcibly reminded that a), you’re old, and, b), it’s over. The Truly Greats have left the building. Poor Adam Levine was forced to reveal how thin his voice is compared to John Lennon’s, and how tinny his band Maroon 5 sounded trying to pull off “Ticket to Ride.” Watching Joe Walsh (and good on him for not killing himself, too) struggle with George’s simple guitar parts on “Something” was painful.

The best part was watching Ringo having the time of his life playing the crowd as he sang “Yellow Submarine.” Naturally, Paul had to murder “Hey Jude” one...more...time! and I was disappointed to see Ringo backed up on drums by the same big guy Paul used for his band at the Super Bowl in 2006. 

That was why I’d watched, incidentally. I wanted to see Paul and Ringo play together again. A couple of old guys singing the old songs. And that’s pretty much what I got. Hooray for old guys—but especially for the young lions they once were.

In this photo from the TV special I am reminded of the Great
Bukowski’s inquiry regarding literary writers like himself
and Hemingway: “Where are our replacements?”
We observe a half century since a TV event changed a culture, and are thus reminded nothing like this will ever happen again.

At least Paul and Ringo and all the Hollywood people had a good time. The best I can say about it is it’s a relief to get back to my own keyboard and get back to work.

Super Bowl Leftovers

Thanks to the queen of our castle, I feasted like a king on Super Bowl Sunday. One week later, and I’m still dreaming of those bacon-wrapped cream cheese-filled poppers:

Hot poppers-on-stoneware action!

These and the wings went a long way towards easing the sting of Denver’s early surrender to Seattle. (They coulda at least made a football game out of it!)

 My wife is vegan, so this was more-or-less all for me. I love my wife. 
A moment of silence for great Super Bowl party spreads past.

By the way, how about that Bruno Mars? It was pretty much the same act I saw him do on Saturday Night Live a year ago, what with the dancing band, etc., but what impressed me was how smooth his show was. From the Stones to Tom Petty to Bruce Springsteen to Madonna to Beyonce, it seems these half-time acts get up there, play their hits as loud and as fast as possible, with much jumping and dancing and fireworks and flashpots exploding, and you’re left feeling like you’ve been beaten about the head for 10 minutes straight.

I’m not a fan and I couldn’t tell you a single song he did. But at least I didn’t feel like I was being assaulted. Thank you, Bruno Mars, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, for not overdoing it.
Vegan taquitos with my wife’s homemade guacamole. Somehow she makes it work without mayonnaise in the guac, just avocado and fresh-squeezed lime juice.

Strangely, the commercials felt a little more subdued than usual, too. Maybe that was just me. I know at least one person who was upset with Bob Dylan narrating the GM commercial, but Dylan made it clear a long time ago if there’s a check to be cashed, he’s cashing that check, and never mind how you feel about “The Times They Are a-Changin’.”

As someone who has followed Dylan for a long, long time—long enough to wish there was an extended DVD of the Hard Rain concert broadcast on NBC in 1976—aren’t you used to being disappointed by now? After how cruelly he treated Joan Baez and Donovan in Don’t Look Back? The cynical get-me-out-of-this-contract dreck that was Self-Portrait? His Born Again phase? That abomination Together Through Life? That ghastly Christmas album?

So Dylan narrated a pro-corporate car commercial. You’re disappointed. You’re late to the party, sweetie.
We had killer vegan chips, Reese’s Pieces, and fudge brownies. You missed it!

As I miss it now. Thank God I don’t eat like this every Sunday, though. I’d be big as a house.

I just had soda pop to drink, though. I hate to waste perfectly good beer on a Super Bowl when I need that to write late at night.

Your Inspirational Message for the Sunday After Candlemas

I don’t know who to credit for this, but this is a clear case of divine genius imparting the inconvenient truth that a little table-flippin’, whip-snappin’ chaos-and-hollerin’ sometimes is the most godly answer, whether you mewling little pussies like it or not. 

And now the lesson is yours.


Saturday, February 08, 2014

It Was 50 Years Ago Today

It was a Saturday, just like today. George came down sick, so he was back at the hotel recuperating, hoping to get better in time for that crucial Ed Sullivan Show appearance the next day. A hell of a thing, your band’s second day in a major market it needs to crack—the USA!—and you come down sick.

So John, Paul, and Ringo went out for a photo shoot in Central Park, somehow evading the crowds that had swarmed them since landing the day before. Look across the pond at the building in the near background on the right, nearly obscured behind the bare limbs of the trees. Sixteen years later the man on the far left, John Lennon, would be shot dead in the courtyard of that apartment building known as the Dakota.

Of course, they couldn’t know that. Just as they couldn’t know 50 years ago to this day that they stood on the eve of making history. Here, their lead guitarist is sick. they’re making the most of it enjoying the sights of New York, they’re hoping he gets better in time for the big show tomorrow night. History has all the time in the world to catch up to them.

Ob-la-di, ob-la-da. La-la how the life goes on....

Friday, February 07, 2014

A Kansas City Friday Night with Zombies, Revisited

NOTE: This is a repost of a Bleeding Kansas excerpt that I’ve already reposted once to Google+ this week. This is the kind of thing that happens when authors have to do their own marketing. Enjoy:

The following passage strives to capture that special feeling when you go to your room on the 15th floor and realize you’re watching the sun go down on a completely different world than the one you woke up to this morning. From Chapter 7 of Bleeding Kansas, “In the Night Kitchen”:

On my way down the hall to my room I’m startled by thewhump! of a body throwing itself at the other side of a door, roaring and snarling like a frustrated predator behind the glass at the zoo. Thank God that thing hasn’t figured out how to work the latch. Thanks again for being many doors down from mine. I don’t want to have to try and sleep with that thing’s angry, hungry yowling in my ears.

I open the door to my room, this same room I woke up in this morning. The same room on another planet, where the hotel staff is dead or food for the same. I close the door behind me and secure the latch.

The sun edges below the horizon, its orange-yellow beams blazing like a silent scream through the window. I look down onto streets that were completely empty this morning. Still no cars or trucks rolling about. Just…people?
It’s like Mardi Gras, wall-to-wall bodies and not one of them walks a straight line. I see no cars or trucks, armored or otherwise. No muzzle flashes of rifles or sidearms. All you see are these erratic, atomized little blotches, every one a stone killer.

Mardi Gras of the dead. I like the sound of that. Not sure I’d like the smell, taste, or feel so much, but it sure sounds like fun!

What’s in YOUR Kindle?
Bleeding Kansas Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Lawrence Roy Aiken


Thursday, February 06, 2014

The Derp That Ate Denver

We were schooled in a Great Life Lesson on Super Bowl Sunday.

They embarrassed themselves to death.

To think I had worried for the Seattle Seahawks. I figured they’d be ignored in the pre-game and throughout in favor of fawning coverage on the Great Legacy Team—and, for the most part, it looked like history was repeating itself. It was a very bitter thing that happened to them in their 2005 Super Bowl XL match-up with the Pittsburgh Steelers, with even the officials on the field obviously paid off to rule against them. I lost a lot of respect for John Madden that day, as he and everyone else announcing the game treated Seattle as if they served no other purpose than to fall before the Mighty Tradition that is the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

Naturally, I’ve despised the Steelers ever since. Likewise, although I’m in Colorado, where every square micrometer is the “heart” of Broncos Country, I wasn’t thrilled with what was looking to be the Super Peyton Manning Bowl Starring Peyton Manning, with Special Guest Stars: the Denver Broncos. The Big Story was all about the Broncos third Super Bowl, Peyton Manning and his Family Legacy, playing in the House of His Brother, etc.

Well, all those worries were over and done with within the first 12 seconds, whence occurred the Derp That Ate Denver: 

Center Manny Ramirez snapped the ball prematurely and it went sailing past a mortified Peyton Manning’s head. Fuck me, I laughed. Of all the crazy ways to start the first play of the biggest game in pro football!

Hell, but it could have been worse. Imagine if that thing had bounced off Manning’s helmet and over into the defensive backfield. Or maybe just bounced, Manning catches it, and gets slammed backwards to make the safety himself.

What happened, though, was enough. At first, with all the flags flying, I thought maybe the refs had it out for Seattle like they did in 2005. No, it was legit for the most part; Denver was getting their share, too. What I soon realized I was watching was how a well-coached defensive squad wins a football game. Seattle made interceptions. They refused Manning his precious “pocket” from which he could pick his receiver and throw. 

The pundits like to talk about about the sad irony of Peyton Manning’s making record completions in this Super Bowl, but they leave out the truly gruesome new record stat that was blowing my mind after that first hour: Denver struggled for an entire first quarter and never once made a first down. No one’s ever done this in 47 Super Bowls. Even back in the bad old days when it was a foregone conclusion that the NFC team always beat the AFC team like a red-headed stepchild for a ridiculously lopsided score, this never happened.

Seattle’s defense played so aggressively their defense was an offense. (They certainly scored better than Denver’s offense.) Although I doubt there are many left on the team who were there for the debacle in 2005, they played like this was a grudge match. Except you’d notice one important thing when the cameras took shots of the Seattle bench: they were smiling. Laughing. Having a good time. 

This wasn’t revenge. This was a team playing to its strengths, and profiting handsomely for their efforts. Why not smile and laugh it up? I’m not the first armchair coach to point that the real MVP of Super Bowl XLVIII was at least ten men, and all of them played defense. 

[For the life of me I still can’t remember the name of Seattle’s quarterback. I’m not into the Quarterback as Auteur theory of football—it helps to be good, but you need the rest of your team to win—but it was certainly weird watching this guy get interviewed post-game and all I could think was, “Never saw this guy before in my life.”]

There was one more factor in Seattle’s win, and it was the one that left the bad taste in everyone’s mouths after the game. Just as Seattle was primed to lose on their own in 2005 without all the crooked calls, Denver might not have lost by such a horrific spread if not for one factor.

Manning and his crew never got over that derp.

You could see it on the faces of the Broncos when the cameras showed their bench. From that first minute out Peyton Manning never once looked like he was happy to be at the Super Bowl.

Okay, so you guys did something stupid and you’re embarrassed. But the narrative could just as easily continued with, “Yet after a sputtering start, the Broncos asserted themselves against the Seahawk defense and fought their way furiously down the field to victory.”

But that didn’t happen. Nor did the more familiar narrative of the post-halftime turnaround. Denver choked on a kickoff return, and for all intents and purposes the game should have been called at the end of the third quarter. Denver was beaten. It was only a matter of how badly.

It was a cascading series of disasters that could have been avoided altogether if Manning (or somebody, dammit!) had rallied the team, said, Fuck you and your sad faces. Let’s pay attention to what’s going on the field here and we can make this safety the one and only time these fools score!

They didn’t, and they moped their way from choke to choke to final failure. The narrative here in Colorado Springs this week is, “Why didn’t the Broncos show up to play?” 

They did. But they derped in the first 12 seconds and refused to get over it to play the rest of the game as they should.

Great Life Lesson: Get over your mistakes. No matter how dumb. Yes, you should have seen it coming, but you let it happen anyway. So boo-hoo-hoo and fuck it all, what are we doing for an encore?

Hey, here’s an idea! Why not give them something they don’t expect after a monumentally stupid fuck-up like that? As every good drunk knows, the trick is to get up one more time than you fall down. Everyone loves the Comeback Kid. Come on back, already!

I realize people have already come and gone on this whole Super Bowl thing this year, but it’s been bothering me. For those loyal souls who have stayed with me, here’s a handy motivational graphic suitable for printing and putting on your refrigerator, by your computer, on the pinboard in your cubicle, etc. If Denver had only heeded Pennywise’s wisdom, this would be a whole ‘nother conversation altogether:

Just get back up and slay that beast already. Fuckin’ clowns....


Don't miss the sweet, simmering sequel to this post: Super Bowl Leftovers! I have pictures of food!