Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Standing on Shoulders

It's a foggy morning. If I try really hard, I can pretend I'm in England.

I put all my short stories together in a pdf file for a few friends to review. It's like putting together a mix tape. I wrote these stories over the last twenty years. When I read them together, I feel excited, but realize I have some work to do. For example, I use a few similes too often, and perhaps characters' nationalities don't have to be mentioned unless they're necessary to the story. They need some polish but on the whole, I'm proud of my work.

When I was a kid I would take classic science fiction short story collections out of the Bernards Township library (Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick, Alfred Bester, and Harlan Ellison for starters.) I would stay up all night with a flashlight under the blankets reading them. This may explain why my eyesight is so bad. I don't claim to be up there with the greats, but I would like to hope for someone to stay up all night under the covers reading them.

There is also some naughtiness in there too. I might have to edit a PG-13 version just for my mother.

Have a fantabulous day my friends. Wishing you happiness always.

TTFN
Tony

Monday, January 28, 2013

Good...

Good morning universe. As if that means anything to the universe. Good morning world... USA... how about eastern standard time? Good morning, people in eastern standard time - assuming it's still morning when you're reading this - and a happy whatever to everyone else. That should about cover it.

I've finally finished my short story collection! I have a few friends who've offered to give them a once-over for me. The next step is to make some groovy cover art, and make myself a website. Then... onward to Kindle et al. I'm feeling a bit... giddy! That's the word!

It's going to be in the thirties today... specifically somewhere between 31 and 33. After last week, it feels like the tropics. The next couple of days are going to be in the fifties - I think I'll come to work naked and get a tan.

Apart from writing while on my bike-desk, I had a wonderfully lazy weekend. Now I have my coffee plus espresso in hand, skimming the headlines... What the fuck? Some asshole anointed the bathrooms in the Freedom Tower with racist graffiti. Seriously? What is wrong with people? Do they have nothing better to do with their lives?

TTFN
Tony

Thursday, January 24, 2013

M train blues

Good morning. I'm on the M train. I have to get a haircut today, although my extreme hat hair (between my wool cap, hood, and hard hat) is starting to look pretty hysterical. My hands are horribly chapped, my fingertips are starting to spilt. I think I would make an awesome "before" hand model.

So today, I'm wearing two layers of long underwear, a sweatshirt, a sweat jacket, and a lined coat. Oh yeah, and pants. I'm really getting sick of working in the cold. It wouldn't be so bad but my hood-mask-thingie that covers my mouth and nose steams up my glasses. Time to get Lasik, or maybe under-the-iris contacts. I think they're more expensive, but at least if something goes wrong, they're not permanent. Research must be done.

More wrestling with giant copper wires and transformers today. I'm starting to work out again, but I have to admit I'm feeling a little inferior to some of the Schwarzeneggerian guys I work with. That's OK, it's always good to have people to look up to in your life.

I'm taking the Zen approach to my life today. I am part of a perfect universe, therefore I am perfect just as I am. And so are you. The world is a better place because we're in it. We matter.

TTFN
Tony

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Reactionism - Not the best pollicy.

The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was such a horrible event, I haven't had any idea how to approach it. So in respect for those whose lives were destroyed, I've refrained from commenting on it directly. However, an indirect result has caught my eye.

New York state has passed what is perhaps the country's most draconian set of gun laws. Some think this is a good idea, some think this only penalizes law-abiding gun owners. But there's one provision that I think is a horrible idea - that doctors and therapists are now required to report anyone they think has violent tendencies.

The problem is that many people feel angry most of the time, either at themselves or others. Internalized anger feeds upon itself and eats away at the soul from the inside. If I was in therapy, I would sure as hell be afraid to admit any "naughty" thoughts to a mental-health professional if they were required to put me on a danger list. What the hell is a "violent tendency" anyway? Is it blowing away mutant zombie bastards on my Xbox? Is it writing stories where bad things happen to good people? Beating up a punching bag in the gym? Wishing a pox upon both the MTA's houses? Hmmm... germ warfare... The point is that the new law doesn't leave any leeway for common sense. A therapist who is under threat of legal action may very well choose caution over common sense. So now, some people are going to avoid getting the mental health care they need. I know everyone is afraid, but reactionism isn't the best answer.

In other news, I've finally finished the first draft of short story number nine. I had intended for it to be funny, but it wound up being dark with a side order of Twilight Zone-ish horror. I have to decide whether I want to keep it that way, or if I'm just being lazy and I should make the ending one more giant hurdle for my trusty protagonist to overcome. Thoughts?

TTFN
-Tony
 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Pinochle!

Good morning. Nothing exciting happening. I got up, made a peanut/almond butter shake, worked out while watching The Boondocks ("You just mad 'cause your ass is old...") Going to take a shower before heading over to my parents. Pinochle shall be played!

TTFN
Tony

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Scraping

So I got an abscessed wisdom tooth extracted yesterday, and by extracted, I mean the dentist twisting and yanking with pliers while I hear scraping and cracking for about ten minutes until this giant futhermucking thing came out of my jaw. At least I was Novocained up first... that's another thing I love, when they jam that needle deep into your cheek and press that plunger and you feel half of your face going numb. Mandy is quite upset that I won't be able to make fart noises for a few days. Well, not with my mouth anyway. 

So now I'm making myself shakes. Peanut-butter shake this morning, avocado shake this afternoon... I'm thinking of making my own sort of cream of chicken soup shake, using protein powder, almond milk, and chicken bouillon. No? 

On the bright side, today was my last day of physical therapy for my knee. The therapist said she was disappointed she wasn't able to hurt me anymore. I told her a guy with pliers outdid her. Everyone needs a hobby.

TTFN
-Tony

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Glamour!

It's sleeting right now which isn't bad, better than snow, just bounces off of my coat, rain would soaked in. Teeny-tiny hail, maybe? Wasn't there an episode of Little House on the Prarie where some woman gets knocked out by hail?

Did a bit of writing on the bus and subway, so I'm feeling productive. It's a shame I have to waste it on work. Playing with some tricky pipe bends, nothing too glamorous. I have to bring my own glamour, as always. Cradle of Filth is wonderful to listen to while I write, kind of an anti Gregorian chant. I keep thinking of Richmond from The I.T. Crowd. "It's called Coffin Fodder. It's quite beautiful, actually."

Have a happy one, please drive safe.

TTFN
Tony

Monday, January 14, 2013

IF: Ocean

Illustration Friday: Ocean

TTFN
-Tony

Just Another Music Monday

Good morning, here I am on the bus again. There's an ocean-spray rain in the air. My face is still a little swollen, it seems the antibiotics are slowly bringing the abscess down.

Ooh, a woman just got on wearing a Fiona the Human hat!

I had a bizarre dream last night: Musket-ball earrings were all the rage, and my cute-little-sainted-Sicilian mother asked for a pair for Christmas. So we all chipped in to buy her a monogrammed pair, made from 100% genuine iron, and they managed to stretch her earlobes out like silly-putty. Dad and I rushed her to the emergency room, where all the doctors and nurses were twisting to the late, great Frank Zappa's "Motherly Love."

It's one of those mornings where I woke up once or twice during the night and felt wide awake, but when my phone alarm went off at 4:30 ("It's a Gas!") it took every microwatt of willpower not to hit "snooze" and sink back into a coma.

Thirteen gb of diverse mp3s make interesting results when my phone is on shuffle. The last three songs were "For the Love of Ivy," "Hatredcopter," and "Mister Frump in the Iron Lung."

The first draft of my elusive story number nine is almost done. I need to chew the ear of one of my subway-working friends - I've never had the pleasure. A lot of it takes place in a tunnel, and I like to be as accurate as possible. I may have to take poetic license here and there.

Hope everyone is well and happy. Have a good one.

TTFN
Tony

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Half-chipmunked

I went to the dentist today - I have a lovely abscess swelling up the side of my jaw. I was hoping he would drain it so I could go to my friend's party tonight, but nooo... I have to take antibiotics for a few days first so I don't get some sort of blood infection. Wuss.

I made myself an interesting concoction for lunch - it's sort of a homemade hamburger helper, with turkey burger, corned beef hash, almond milk, paprika, garlic powder, oregano, chicken bouillon, olive oil, and grated Parmesan cheese.

Joe and I tried to watch A Sound of Thunder last night, a film VERY loosely based on the classic Ray Bradbury short story. The consensus seems to be 1.5 stars. It would be great as an MST3K episode. Ben Kingsley is made up with a huge white wig to look like Bob Barker. The actors are badly blue/green screened in front of CGI that looks like it came from an X-Box game. The exposition dialogue is horrible "Me, I'm a hard businessman who only cares about money. You, you're a brilliant scientist with a conscience. But you need my money to make your dreams come true, so you'll follow orders and like it!" (No, this is not verbatim, but it's damned close.) But worst of all is the fact that the titular "sound of thunder" doesn't even come into the story at all. The Simpsons "Treehouse of Horror V: Time and Punishment" segment is a much better adaptation.

Well, that's all that's exciting for today. Me and my face are taking it easy tonight. Take care of yourselves.

TTFN
-Tony

Friday, January 11, 2013

Wah.

So I'm running late, and in the process of tying my boots, my lace snaps - in the middle, of course. I unlaced them, wrapped the frayed end in tape, relaced them, skipping every other hole, and managed a tiny knot up top. I sprinted for my bus and just made it.

This week has been misery. My daughter brought home some biological weapon from school that's given me chills and wracking chest congestion all week. Then yesterday, I woke with a small tenderness in my jaw which has blossomed into a swollen egg that makes me look like Don Corleone on one side. Time for the dentist.

Today I'm thankful for large coffees with shots of espresso inside.

TTFN
Tony

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Ribbit

Sitting here on the subway, nothing really interesting to say. I'm exhausted from this cold, or flu or whatever it is. It just feels like something is sapping me. Like there's some great black vampire frog with glowing red pulsating veins that has taken root in my heart, bitten into my tender juices, and is sucking my chi dry. I call him Harold.

Have I mentioned that Mucinex makes me a tad wiggy?

TTFN
Tony

Monday, January 07, 2013

Fear Facing

I've been trying to get in at least a half hour of cycling and writing every day on my new exercise bike / desk. The "desk" is in fact a cheap piece of styrofoam that fits around the handlebars of a standard exercise bike, but it works. I could actually go for an hour or more, if the damn thing didn't hurt my ass bone so much.

I'm writing the story in Google Mail, that way I can pick up wherever I left off, whether I am on my phone or on my computer. Now that I'm halfway through it, my brain wants to change it again. Sigh.

I mentioned my daughter wanting to watch "The Nightmare Before Christmas." We watched it yesterday morning. She kept telling Mister Oogie-Boogie that he didn't frighten her anymore. She has this wonderful mindset in which she's determined to face her fears. I love that. Just before she was born, I developed an irrational phobia of driving that gave me anxiety attacks. Then the union sent me upstate for eighteen months, and I had no choice but to drive every day. So the first few days I made myself a heavy metal mix CD and sang along at the top of my lungs while I drove. It took a few days with a sore throat ("Not a prisoner, I'm a free man, and my life is my own now...") but eventually, my anxiety level went back to normal. Well, normal for me, anyway.

We went to my cousin Dean's house yesterday. I got to see my cousin Dan and his family, I haven't seen them in years. It's always fun spending the day with good people.

TTFN
Tony

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Free will is expensive.

I tried explaining to Amanda that it is 2013. She doesn't understand the concept of numbering years. It's good for logistical purposes. A few weeks ago The Nightmare Before Christmas was on television, and it was too scary for her. Now she wants to watch it. Is it about facing fears, or a desire to stay up late?

I read an article about William James, and how he spent his life going through one miserable ordeal after another. He was ready to kill himself, but he decided to try an experiment first: He would spend a year taking complete responsibility for all his circumstances. His life turned around, and he went on to become a renowned psychiatrist.

I've decided to give this a try. For example, it's colder than a witch's naughty bits, and while I can't control the weather, I'm working outside because my choices have led me to be in an industry where sometimes I work outside. Puls, I can leave anytime I want to. I choose not to, because I prefer having a home and food for myself and my family over a few hours warmth.

Of course, if we live in a predetermined universe, this musing over free will could all just be a part of the universe's clockwork. So could that last sentence. And this one... Another possibility is that we are directed by our subconscious needs and wants (or addicted to the chemicals certain emotions produce in our brains) and that our conscious choices are an illusion. For example, you can't use logic to talk someone out of a conviction they've reached through emotion. (This, of course, applies to everyone except you and me.)

The point of all this isn't just saying "mea culpa," over and over, it's the realization that if you're responsible for your shitty circumstances, you can make choices that would change them. I've written this here before, but we have to answer our own prayers.

But thank you to everyone who's helped out.

TTFN
Tony