The Guilty Party

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Now That's What I Call Putting the Customer First.....Not




Of course this photo has nothing to do with air travel. I found these leaves under one of those Trees with Big Above Ground Roots at Allerton Gardens on Kauai.
But I figured it was prettier than the shot I took of the Smokers' Detention Cell at the Salt Lake City airport.





One Guess Why the Airlines Are in Trouble

The last two summers we traveled by plane to our vacation destinations. Last year it was to Washington D.C., a long planned family trip that was perfect in every way except the traveling portion. Delta Airlines screwed up our connections, routed us all over the place for no apparent reason and lost our luggage both ways. We vowed not to give them our custom again.

Then my sweet patootie and I were offered free airfare to Hawai'i by my step-father in law. Yep, I've got two fathers in law, each quite different from the other and both of them sterling individuals in their unique ways. Anyway, the step dad in law travels a lot and he had a gazillion frequent flier miles that were going to expire if he didn't use 'em up quick. Solution? Get us to Hawai'i as a 25th wedding anniversay gift. Great! But of course the miles were with Delta. Oh well. And the routes that were available to use with frequent flier miles were stupid. On the way to Honolulu we went from Phoenix up to Salt Lake City. Okay. Then from there to Los Angeles. Why? LA to Honolulu about twelve hours later. A long travel day. Our luggage was not lost.

On the way back, for some reason we were spared the stop in Los Angeles, traveling straight from Honolulu to Salt Lake City to connect to Phoenix. Okay, fine. We arrived in SLC, checked our next gate, got a Starbucks refresher and waited by our gate. Half an hour before our flight was to take off there popped up a different flight on that gate's info board, A flight to Denver. We didn't want to go to Denver. I asked the gate agent. She said, "The Phoenix flight was changed to Gate B-4. Iguess I should announce it." Really? We were at Gate E-67. Half a mile later we made our flight.

Of course, Delta operates non-stop flights from Phoenix to Honolulu all the time. But why would they want to make those available to people who are using frequent flier miles? It's not like they should go out of their way to treat those folks nice, now is there?

Go Ye Forth and Do Better.


Friday, June 27, 2008

TMI



Note: The pic above has absolutely nothing to do with the content of the following mini-essay. I just have all these great photos from Hawai'i and I want to share. This one is of me and my sweetie in The Allerton Gardens on the South Shore of Kauai. We are posing amongst the humungous above ground root system of the Moreton Bay Something or Other Tree (you'll get no horticultural lessons here, thank you very much). Where we are standing is, according to our extremely knowledgeable guide Nate, who knows all the plant names, the spot where the kid found the dinosaur egg in the movie Jurassic Park. There were no eggs to be found on the day of our visit, which was a pity but we had a good time anyway.

And now the mini-essay.

TMI=Too Much Information.

A couple of evenings ago the wife, the daughter and I settled in to watch the movie Martian Child starring John Cusack, his sister Joan, the always lovely Amanda Peet and a youngster by the name of Bobby Coleman. It is a lovely film about the relationship that builds between David, a recently widowed science fiction author and Dennis, an orphaned boy who is dealing with the losses in his short life by claiming to be from Mars. He is on a mission, he says, and when his mission is complete he will be going "back home". Joan Cusack, in a curious bit of casting, plays John Cusack's sister, who has a brood of her own. Ms. Peet is a longtime friend with a penchant for slightly eccentric outfits. But the story is about David and Dennis and it works. You have a pretty good idea how things will work out, but you care and you worry and you cheer.

And I should have left it at that. But whenever we watch a movie on DVD I like to check out the Special Features. They usually disappoint, I mean just how entertaining do they think it is to watch an actor flub a line and then giggle? Multiple times? Not what you can call riveting. But sometimes there are neat little films about the making of the film or the story behind the film and I usually like those. Martian Child has just such a short feature, one that focuses on Bobby Coleman, the very talented young actor who plays Dennis, the Martian Child. In it you get to see Bobby's audition, and meet his family and watch him just being Bobby. It was all very good, but at the end I really rather wished I hadn't watched it because it diminished the impact of the film we had just watched. The image of Bobby the kid and Bobby the actor was now in my mind, obscuring the recent and vivid and moving image of Dennis the Martian Child.

Maybe backstage passes just aren't that great.


And now, more Hawai'i pics.








Go Ye Forth and Do Likewise.

Mahalo.



Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Literary Investing




I am not a big magazine buyer. I mean off the rack. I subscribe to Smithsonian (the best general interest magazine around), Downbeat (jazz!) and Guitar Player (it's nice to read how, even if I still can't), but I seldom browse the racks at the local bookstore or newstand.

But that all changes with travel, eh? Stuck in an airport for a few hours will do that to any person. So there I was, in the neat, tidy, pleasantly small Lihu'e airport on Kawai with time on my hands and five dollars that somehow hadn't been spent yet. So I wander into one of the shops and what comes to eye? The Utne Reader, a periodical my late, great best friend used to read all the time. I picked it up, gave it a quick thumb-through, and set free my fiver.

There was much of interest to be found in the May/June issue of Utne, but one small article really caught my eye. Originally published in Good magazine and written by Anne Trubek, it tells of an investment strategy I had never heard of: purchasing books by contemporary authors with the express intent of holding them as investments. Ms. Trubek points out that a UK first edition of What's Her Name Rowling's first book Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone has recently sold for $37,000. Not bad for what was probably about a twenty dollar initial investment, eh?

According to Ms. Trubrek, other authors current investors are banking on include
Raymond Carver, Tim O'Brien and D. B. C. Pierre. Cormac McCarthy gets special mention as being "perfect for investors" for the following reasons: "He is male, writes in difficult prose, attends few book signings (making signed copies scarcer), and once published in small print runs."
.

Well folks, I've got an even better insider scoop for you. See that book right up there? Well it was written by a male whose prose makes at least some folks scratch their heads. And I would be willing to bet that the number of his signed books in circulation beats Mr. McCarthy's for rarity hands down. And don't even talk to me about small print runs, hell, Gov Work is cranked out one copy at a time.

Sounds like a great retirement strategy to me.

Unless, that is, so many of you purchase Close Enough for Government Work that it can no longer be considered rare.

Well, I guess there is no such thing as a truly sure fire investment.

But I still think this one has merit.

Go Ye Forth and Do Likewise.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Kauai





As this is a place that is very much about the senses, and especially as time is a precious commodity here for us, we will have to rely on photos for now. 



Monday, June 16, 2008

Finishing the hat

The only one of the annually televised award shows that I try to make sure I see is the Tony Awards. I love being able to see scenes from the latest Broadway musicals, the acceptance speeches always seem to be a cut or two above, and, of course, as a long ago stage actor of the college and community theater variety myself it is an undeniably vicarious thrill for me.

Yesterday evening's festivities were a lot of fun. Wonderful, energetic, dynamic performances all over the place. But what really hit me were the times the phrase "finish the hat" was used, including when a very young, very talented, very excited playwright named Lin-Manuel Miranda used the phrase in the middle of his rap style acceptance speech for his play "In The Heights".

So what is "finishing the hat"? It is from Stephen Sondheim's extraordinary musical play "Sunday in the Park With George", which, while it focuses on the French artist George Seurat as he is in the midst of creating his most famous work "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte", is really about what it means to be a creative artist. How in order to achieve anything of real value, originality and meaning, the artist has to be prepared to devote time, effort and passion into the smallest of details. Early in the play, George tells his model and lover, Dot, that he cannot go to the Follies with her because he must "finish the hat". It is a hard thing for him to say and a very hard thing for her to hear, but essential for the completion of the painting. Sacrifices are made by both artist and loved ones in order for the painting, the sculpture, the symphony, the book, the compact disc, the poem to be born full and complete.

And then later in the Tonys the two leads from the current revival of Sondheim's show sang my favorite song, "Move On". In it Sondheim expresses the uncertainty, the fear that every creative person feels at some time (I would bet multiple times) throughout their life when they feel they have nothing to say. The song takes the form of a dialogue between George's grandson, also called George and also an artist, and what I suppose we would call a vision of Dot.

DOT
Are you working on something new?

GEORGE
No.

DOT
That is not like you, George.

GEORGE
I've nothing to say.

DOT
You have many things.

GEORGE
Well, nothing that's not been said.

DOT
Said by you, though, George.

GEORGE
I do not know where to go.

DOT
And nor did I.

GEORGE
I want to make things that count,
Things that will be new...

DOT
I did what I had to do.

GEORGE
What am I to do?

DOT
Move on

Stop worrying where you're going--
Move on.
If you can know where you're going,
You've gone.
Just keep moving on.


There is more, but blogs are supposed to be brief and I've already appropriated enough material from my better in Mr. Sondheim. The point here, at least for me, is that sometimes I need reminding that the Greats have the same doubts as the Not-Quite-There's. Stephen Sondheim couldn't have written those lyrics if he didn't fight that very same fight. But somebody, somewhere (maybe Oscar Hammerstein II?) passed the answers on to him and through his art he passes the answers to the rest of us.

Finish the hat.

and

Stop worrying where you're going.
Move on.


I will try to remember those words and live by them. And when it all just becomes too much I will bring out another lyric, from "Spamalot" by way of "Life of Brian" to help me muddle through.

Always look on the bright side of life! *


Go Ye Forth and Do Likewise.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Skipping



There are three officially recognized surefire methods to turning around the most miserable of days.

1: The sudden acquisition of lots of money. There are side effects, but the wise person can deal with them.

2: Being sought out by the most deeply felt unrequited love of your youth because he/she simply must tell you how much he/she now regrets having been so dense as not to recognize back then what potential you had as a person of intellectual depth, physical attractiveness and erotically charged spiritual complexity.

3. Skipping.

Of these three I recommend the last. The others rely much too much on chance or the whims of others. It is given extra points due to its great likelihood of causing jealousy (often masked as disapproval, but they're not fooling anybody) in your peers and embarrassment in your children, unless they have been brought up to such a thing and understand.

Yes, I would definitely say skipping is the way to go. A day that includes skipping has it all over a non-skipping sort of day.

My daughter and I skipped over to the big "Love" sculpture to have our picture taken. She's a really good skipper. One of these days she may rival her dad.


Go Ye Forth and Do Likewise.

My first blurb!

Several weeks ago I conducted a drawing on my MySpace page. Prize? An autographed copy of Close Enough for Government Work, of course. A very nice gentleman from Maine won the drawing (Odie pulled Walter's name from a plastic bowl filled with all the eligible entries) and just today Walter was kind enough to post this message on my MySpace page.

Hey Alan, I finished reading "Close Enough For Government Work" and thought I'd share my opinion of your book. I was expecting an enjoyable read, but I wasn't prepared to be so thoroughly entertained. It's very original, but if I were to compare it to other writers I'd say the funny stuff by Mark Twain and John Steinbeck as well as Bill Bryson, Christopher Moore, and Douglas Adams. It's also very smart and funny, two things that I really like in a book. Please keep up the excellent work. I look forward to your next book.

Cheers!


Well, cheers right back at you, Walter. Glad you liked it!

I would say that the check is in the mail, but until the royalties add up to a bit more (last one: $5.04) we'll just have to say Thanks!



Go Ye Forth and Do Likewise.



Occupied Territory




I took another one of those surveys yesterday. The last one, which was months and months ago, was conducted by Pew Research and was focused pretty clearly on immigration. This time I didn't really catch the name of the organization but I did catch the word "marketing". The questions were all over the board, so I'm really not sure what sort of information they were trying to gather, whose product they were enlisted to assist.

The first question had to do with how good of a job I think our president is doing, presented on a one to five scale. Fractions or negative numbers were not presented as options and I didn't want to lose the nice sounding lady by being
difficult right off the bat, so I confined myself to honesty as permitted within the prescribed parameters.

The next response she was looking for was the name of the first homebuilder that came to my mind. I drew a blank. An absolute blank. I read about them in the newspaper. I see their billboards alongside the freeway. I hear their advertisements on the radio. And I couldn't think of one homebuilding company. Until the one owned and operated by the brother of a high school classmate sprang to mind. I offered it up and she accepted.

So were the rest of the questions to be homebuilder related? No they were not. Next, she wanted to know how many times I had been to Flagstaff in the past year. Sadly, the number is zero and I confessed accordingly. How often do I access the internet each month? I was honest there also, if translating "monthly" to "daily" and doing the math using that factor is not to be held against me. Value of my current home? Priceless was not on her chart, so we went with what the current market might not sneer at. Number of people in our house? Well, we have had as many as fourteen during party times, but that seemed like bragging, so I took an average and left it at that. Household income? Here I drifted into the land of fortunetelling.

And then she asked me my occupation. Not how I make a living, mind you, which at this particular fiscal moment (meaning the year 2008 as it has played itself out so far) would be a rather difficult question to answer. But to the question "What is your occupation?" I had no hesitation in answering "I am a writer." If I am not occupied in the easily observable act of writing, I am occupied in thinking about it. Writing occupies my life and seemingly has no intention of pulling up stakes and leaving. It did not ask if I wanted to be occupied, it simply did it and that, I have a feeling, will be that. I am hopeful that when the next survey worms its way past our "Do Not Call" status, that the question will be "How do you make a living?" and that I will be able to repeat my same answer.

Go Ye Forth and Do Likewise.

Monday, June 9, 2008

"O! call back yesterday, bid time return."




That's Shakespeare. Richard II, to be more precise.

Our subject today is time. Nothing can torment or seem to work against us more than time. Often we plead for it to return, and just as often we complain that it weighs heavily and why doesn't it speed itself along?

"Ah, those were the days. Life was good then."

"When is this day ever going to end?"

It is a strange and undeniably frustrating way to approach life. And yet we all do it. Some a lot more than others, but everyone has had those thoughts. Even Oprah. You can chant "Carpe diem" and "Bloom where you're planted." till the cows come home but those thoughts will creep in, bringing discontent and impatience.

As I was doing my exhaustive three minute research for this piece, I happened across a quotation from a certain Keith Douglas. Mr. Douglas lived from 1920 to 1944. A mere twenty-four years in which to live his life. I would tell you more about him and why he merits inclusion in the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations but I don't have time to find out myself. But I would like to share this from his On a Return from Egypt.

And all my endeavours are unlucky explorers
come back, abandoning the expedition:
the specimens, the lilies of ambition
still spring in the their climate, still unpicked:
but time, time is all I lacked
to find them, as the great collectors before me.

I don't know if we should be irritated at time, or the lilies of ambition. Or maybe we should just lighten up and enjoy. But give me time and I'll try to figure it out.

Go Ye Forth and Do Likewise.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Revisting the '70's




Yep, that's me, circa 1973. A grainy bit of detail taken from my high school yearbook as part of the Masque and Dagger Club, of which I was Co-President. The 70's were for me the decade of high school and college. Almost my entire acting resume has a 1970's date to it. Much of the music I listen to now I either discovered in the 70's or is an easily traceable product of what I was exposed to then. It was the decade of my first real job, my first real romance and my first truly memorable heartbreak. The 60's have been getting a lot of press lately, especially the year 1968 and its so-called Summer of Love, and there is no doubt that I carry a lot of that baggage, both good and bad, with me too (The Monkees, anyone?). But if pressed, I would have to say that this adult is a child of the 70's.

And what is more natural than to want to revisit some of the cultural touchstones of ones formative years? So a few evenings ago I announced that I wanted to watch Star Wars. We have a set of VHS tapes with the first three Star Wars movies, you know, the good ones? that have been sitting on a bookshelf, unplayed for many years. Surprisingly, my wife and daughter were agreeable to the plan, so, along with our two dogs, we plopped ourselves in front of our hopelessly antiquated 27" non-wide screen television, powered up the relic of a VHS player, and settled in for some good, old-fashioned space opera excitement.

Was it what I had anticipated? In a way. It was fun, it was hokey, it had bad dialogue (anything Lucas gave Carrie Fisher to say was straight out of "How Not To Create Character Through Dialogue") and Harrison Ford was, as I remembered, the best thing in the movie. I am a tremendous Alec Guinness fan, but he just didn't have enough to work with. The special effects weren't all that impressive, but that may have more to do with not only what has happened in that field in the past thirty years and the limitations of our ancient "home theater" than any fault of Mr. Lucas and Co.

But it wasn't quite the touchstone I had hoped it would be. There wasn't anything from that movie that seemed to have become a real part of me. Maybe I was too old (twenty-two) when it came out, but I don't think that's it. I think what was missing was the deep humanity that informs all great art. It was all surface. Fun surface to be sure, and possessing a want to be more, but not really knowing how to get there. It would have been a better movie if it hadn't even tried.

And then a couple of days ago I was at Costco, looking to spend some birthday money. I bought a silk shirt ($19.95), a pair of Costco's famous sneakers ($15.95) and an eight-pack of Mel Brooks movies. I am a fan of Mr. Brooks, but will also be the first to say that a little Brooks can go a long way. But just as one song can make you buy an entire album (yes, album), this one movie called to me to buy the entire set. The Twelve Chairs, possibly Brook's least famous cinematic effort. I wouldn't even have been at all familiar with it if it hadn't been paired with Monty Python's The Holy Grail, way back when that movie was playing at Harkins Camelview Cinemas back in 1975. Yes, Virginia, there once was a phenomenon called The Double Feature. it is curious that those two movies should have been playing together, as Mr. Brooks' film was produced in 1970 and the Python one in 1975, but there they were. Anyway, my friends and I went to see The Holy Grail many, many times. That meant we saw The Twelve Chairs many, many times. And it became a part of us. Phrases from that movie became our phrases, our cultural links, our ways of making each other laugh and our ways of dealing with difficult situations. We didn't have "May the Force be with you." We had "Oh God, you're so strict!" and "Boys! I've always liked you! We come from the same village." And of course, from the theme song, "Look for the best, expect the worst."

So last night, on my birthday, after a long and unprofitable day on the car lot, the entire family (this time my twenty-one year old son joined us) sat down and watched Dad's Choice again. Mel Brooks (he wrote, directed and had a part) mugged, Dom DeLuise hammed it up, Frank Langella didn't even try to put on a Russian accent and was wonderful anyway, and Ron Moody, who most people of a certain vintage probably know only as Fagin in the movie version of Oliver, brought enormous humor, humanity, greed and pathos to his central role of the man who will travel the length of Russian (twice), swim rivers, assault priests and walk a tightrope (literally) in his pursuit of "instant" wealth. As a piece of art that touches the heart, informs the head and strengthens the spirit, The Twelve Chairs had it all over Star Wars.

Tonight we will watch The Empire Strikes Back. I am sure I will enjoy. But next time it is my turn to choose, I'm going for Silent Movie.

Go Ye Forth and Do Likewise.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

It Ain't Exactly Chinatown, but.......




I have had the pleasure of visiting the Chinatowns in both San Francisco and New York. Fun, colorful, exotic, bustling with life, the air laden with scents enticing. Real people living very real lives in the midst of some of the most ridiculously blatant tourist dollar traps to be witnessed. Good food abounds if you know who to ask, bargains are to be had if you have an educated eye (I don't) and an inclination to bargain (I would have been every street vendors favorite customer in Casablanca). A person could spend a whole lot of time just wandering, watching, listening, sampling, absorbing. My kind of place.

But I live in the Greater Phoenix area and we do not have a Chinatown. What we have is a the Chinese Cultural Center, on 44th St. just off of Loop 202. Boiled down to the hard, honest truth, it is a glorified strip center with a couple of concrete lions out front. But although it possesses very little of the essence of a true Chinatown, it is the place to go if your home or office needs a Buddha, or if Uncle Ralph from Des Moines, who is spends the bulk of the winter as your uninvited houseguest, is crabby as can bee if he doesn't have his daily doses of preserved duck eggs, braised gluten, mock duck and fermented red bean curd. All of those dainty comestibles and much, much, much more can be found at the curiously named Ranch Market, which is the largest store at the CCC. If you find yourself in Phoenix and an sudden hankering for sea cucumber, chili radish strips, sago in syrup, yam jam, pickled ginger or Samjin Choco Charlteok Pies, Ranch Market stands ready and able to satisfy. And in case you are not familiar with the last item (I assume you have all of the rest in your cupboards) I will tell you that they are treats approximately one poker chip in circumference and three in height, that are described on the package as "Korean Glutinous Rice Cake coated in chocolate, filled with black sesame cream." If I hadn't just been put on a no-sesame cream diet by my Primary Care Physician, I would have loaded up.

The labeling on many of the products found at Ranch Market are a joy to read. I imagine that the original verbiage in the language of the country of origin is spot-on and concise. As I say, I imagine it to be so since I couldn't read it if I took a dozen gingko biloba pills and came to it fresh from my Tenderfoot Senior Citizen Tai Chi class. But that is no matter, for my delight comes from the English translations that grace most of these products. My favorite today was on a bright red bag containing Lorain Chestnuts. On the top right corner of the package were some Chinese (I think they were Chinese) symbols, with what I assumed to be the English translation directly below. "Green Quality--Moisten People". I will take their word for it.

My daughter, who is interested in all things Far East, like dragons, elaborately embroidered garments, manga books and overpriced soft drinks, was the reason we visited the CCC today. Her room is transitioning from a dolphin theme to her current mania and she need bric a brac. We found a couple of fan stands, a green Buddha, a pretty little rice bowl and a few others things I disremember already. I almost bought a Buddha, but couldn't decide between Laughing and Guffawing Buddha, so will research further before choosing.

Go Ye Forth and Do Likewise.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Healthy Living


May 25, 2008


Healthy Living



I just started rereading an interesting book by Michael Gelb, How To Think Like Leonardo DaVinci. I think I have read it at least three times and one of these days I am hoping it will have a real and noticeable positive effect. One of my favorite little sections is a two pager called "The DaVinci Diet". I don't have time to copy the whole thing out for you (and we might be flirting with some sort of plagarism issue there anyway, but the upshot is to eat healthy stuff, drink lots of water, make meat portions small, don't get stuck in a rut (try new and interesting foods), my favorite "enjoy a little wine with dinner", and enjoy your food (whenever possible, dine, don't just "grab a bite").

It is all good advice.

Perhaps coincidentally, I recently received a nice email from a lovely and brilliant lady which lists forty things to do to lead a healthy and happy life. Here are a select few:

1: Take walks. Smile whilst walking.

2: Enjoy 10 minutes of silence each day.

3: Play games and read books. This may put a crimp on your television time. All the better.

4: Try to make at least three people smile each and every day. I assume this should be done in such a way that the people who are smiling are not simply reacting to a prank you might pull on some other unfortunate soul.

5: Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

6: Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.

7: Enjoy the ride. Remember this is not Disney World and you certainly don't want a fast pass. You only have one ride through life so make the most of it and enjoy the ride.

All of these pointers are excellent. And I would definitely recommend Mr. Gelb's book to you and if you like I will forward the entire list of forty ways to make the most of each day.

But there is one thing I would like to add.

Enjoy a steady diet of hugs. These must be given and received for maximum benefit. If you have any inkling that someone precious to you is having a rough time, and especially if there is a possibility they could think they have been a disappointment to you, a hug is prescribed. And when one is offered, it is good to accept. There will be benefits for both parties.

Just be careful at work. And don't be creepy about it.


Go Ye Forth and Do Likewise.

Contemplation on Cowpie

May 29, 2008


Real



I have been participating in the beta version of a website called Authonomy. It was created by the publisher Harper Collins UK and its aim is to give aspiring writers a place to put their work out in front of God and Everybody in the hope that at least one Person of Consequence in the Business will take notice. There are lots of places on the good ol' internet for writers to post their stuff, but with the exception of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award fiasco (Grand Prize: publishing contract with Penguin) that played out to what I think most savvy observers would say was a fairly unsatisfactory conclusion a few months ago, Authonomy is the first effort of this kind to be the brainchild of a major player in the industry. So naturally it has attracted a lot of attention from people who are afflicted with the belief the good Lord put them on the Earth to WRITE. And make a buck or two along the way. People like me.

Like I said, Authonomy is in the beta stage, which means participation at this time is limited to invitees. So what we are seeing now is a bunch of work--mostly partial manuscripts (the whole of Boomerang is there)--being posted, authors reading other authors' stuff, notes being passed back and forth (mostly complimentary, but a few with an instructional tone, leavened with patient tolerance), and a fair bit of jockeying for position at a gate that hasn't yet really been created or even defined. When or if the non-competing Readers and especially the Editors and Agents are going to show up is a question that hangs over the whole proceeding, but for now there is mostly hope.

This morning, when I logged onto the site I saw that after a drought of several days a comment had been left about my entry. Splendid. I clicked it on to the screen and read. It was from a fellow whose work I had complimented a while ago and I was fully expecting gushing reciprocation. For the most part I was not disappointed. He seemed to like my work but there was a word that niggled. Why, he wondered, did I choose the word "cowpie" to describe a problem that had just been handed to a senior official in the United States Intelligence community? Surely a stronger, more contemporary word or phrase would be better suited. "Shit" or one of its many derivatives, perhaps. That would be more real, ring more true.

Perhaps, but in Boomerang--which is the new version of my self-published book Close Enough for Government Work, still available from any reputable bookseller and a practically guaranteed collector's item!--I am not aiming for Real. The characters are all human, the places do exist, the situation has at least as much likelihood of happening as many of the scenarios today's popular thrillers like to use to scare the s_ _ _ out of us. But I am not aiming for real, or gritty, or Ripped From the Headlines. The world of Boomerang is just a little different. And that could be where I lose some readers, shame on me. Give them Mr. Pratchett's Discworld (a concept born of absolute genius) and they know the rules can bend just a bit. Give them a story that has dwarves or space aliens or talking bunny rabbits and the expectation will be that one can deviate a bit from the Everyday. But make your characters' playgrounds Washington D.C., San Francisco, Martha's Vineyard and my hometown of Mesa, Arizona, and put it in the present day and you will encounter readers who will put it to you in all sincerity that "cowpie" just doesn't fit.

I cannot argue with them. All I can say is Welcome to My World. I hope you enjoy. But it is my world and in it grown men use the word "cowpie". Perhaps one of these days I will find a world with dragons in it. If I do I have every reason to suspect that the grown men who inhabit the place will say "dragonpie". Their creator will make them that way and they won't be able to help themselves.


Go Ye Forth and Do Likewise.

Change of Address



Hi everybody.

The decision has been made to go Blogger with Sketches by Plumboz. I am loath to give up Ye Olde Website, but the ROI (Return On Investment) and the limitations involved (no message section) mean we will soon be bidding adieu to www.alanhutcheson.com. I will miss the old place.

But in the meantime, I will be putting no little effort into sprucing up my new quarters here on Blogger. And for those of you who may have some catching up to do, selected items will be hauled up out of the archives to populate the place whilst we await the arrival of fresh material.

Hope to see you, and hear from you, soon.

Best,
Alan

Go Ye Forth and Do Likewise.


A Bit About Me

My photo
I am a writer with a longtime interest in photography. I'm a dad, husband, photographer, and not very good guitarist. My first novel, Boomerang, is available in both paperback and ebook form at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.com. As a matter of fact, my second novel, The Baer Boys, can be found at exactly the same places.