Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Monday, February 27, 2012
1. I once ran into a bearded man on the sidewalk in this city wearing a full, white bridal gown and veil who was saying to everyone in earshot, “IT’S MY DAY!”
2. This city has more restaurants per capita than any city in the United States, including Red’s Java House and what may be the best sourdough and cheddar cheeseburger on the planet.
3. It is a place where visitors must fear the beard.
4. This city boasts the only pirate supply store that I’m aware of, complete with peg legs, eye patches and lard.
5. There is a plaque somewhere in this city that reads, “On approximately this spot Miles Archer, partner of Sam Spade, was done in by Brigid O’Shaughnessy.”
6. This city is home to Miranda Corby, a worthy successor to Spade and Archer if ever there was one.
Sunday, February 26, 2012
Romantic matters are a case in point. I am now writing the sixth book in the Constable Molly Smith series. Along with assorted minor characters there are now three couples whose love lives I have to balance. One long-time relationship and two fairly new ones.
I would dearly like to have all those relationships progress smoothly to a state of total bliss, but unfortunately that’s not what interesting books are made of. So sometimes I have to go right out and whisper sweet anti-seductions in one character’s ear or another.
In the book in progress, Molly Smith meets a guy on the ski slopes. Now, she’s a near-Olympic class skier and this guy turns out to be not only handsome and charming but almost as good as she is. So our characters zip around the slopes for a few chapters. Flirting, smiling, laughing, wondering if there’s that certain something in the other.
Why, they seem almost perfect for each other!
Can’t have that now can we?
So the author (aka the puppet master) whispers sweet nothings into his ear.
“Police! Drop the weapon!”
“You’re a cop?”
“Are we still on for tomorrow?”
But I can’t leave you on a downer, so here’s a clip of what to me is a truly great love song. It’s easy to be in love when you’re young and have met someone new. A bit more difficult as age and familiarity creep up. Kingdom of Days by Bruce Springsteen.
Saturday, February 25, 2012
Psychiatrist Fredric Wertham was scared for America’s children. They were tying bath towels around their necks and running around playing Superman, jumping off of the roofs of their houses and breaking their legs and arms. There was rich man Bruce Wayne, who by night was the criminal’s scourge, Batman, and his young, ahem, “ward,” the teenaged Dick Grayson, the barelegged, masked Robin the Boy Wonder. When he wasn’t endangering the under-aged lad, exposing him to riff-raff like the Joker and the guns and knives of his henchmen, they were lazing about Wayne manor in the mornings, each in a smoking jacket and ascot. Holy gay undercurrent Dark Knight!
What were the disturbing fantasies the scantily clad Phantom Lady, her well-endowed bosom fairly falling out of her plunging V-top as she was bound, barely, by ropes fueling in pubescent boys? Indeed a look over to the right of the infamous cover Wertham cited, Phantom Lady No. 17 from 1948 one might agree with ol’ Freddy – interestingly too, the cover was drawn by Matt Baker, one of the few African Americans working in comics in those days. And what sort of message were youths receiving what with hanging bodies, their eye bulging out or a decapitated woman’s head on the covers of horror comic books?
Relating the aforementioned and much more, like kids setting themselves on fire imitating the Human Torch, Wertham published his study and conclusions as a book, Seduction of the Innocent in 1954. Parents and educators were alarmed and in the resulting furor, which included a Senate sub-committee hearing on juvenile delinquency, with an emphasis on these subversive comics and the gentlemen of Eastern European heritage who published them, The Comics Code of America was born. It was an industry-funded self-censorship body that among its edicts stated:
“Crimes shall never be presented in such a way as to create sympathy for the criminal…Policeman, judges, government officials, and respected institutions shall never be presented in such a way as to create disrespect for established authority…Scenes dealing with, or instruments associated with walking dead, torture, vampires and vampirism, ghouls, cannibalism and werewolfism are prohibited.”
Some might argue Wertham seduced a ‘50s-era nation stuck between the old ways and anxious about the oncoming of the Atomic Age, bringing with it stuff like creeping communism and Negroes making noises down south. Or that if there is no sentry, a guardian against our base desires, we will forever give in to that which tempts and seduces us – comic books then, video games now. But I am seduced with the idea that counter to the Code, the ghost of Fredric Wertham returns to be a consultant on moral decency. Bad good girl Phantom Lady gets wind of this and returning from limbo, must do battle against Wertahm’s ghoulish acolytes to protect our freedoms. I’ll be right there with her, carrying some safety pins in case, you know, her costume comes undone.
Friday, February 24, 2012
Thursday, February 23, 2012
I admit it: I’m easy to seduce – a not unusual condition for a guy, but who am I to argue with biology?
A cheap date, I’m happy with the chicken mole at Nuevo Léon in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood (you can carry me out the door for less than ten bucks), though I’ll roll over and expose my belly if you treat me to a couple slices of abalone sashimi at Japonica in New York or a plate of vegetarian pork at Heaven’s Dog in San Francisco.
Put Etta James’s “I’d Rather Go Blind” on the stereo when we get home and you’ll see me doing dances I really shouldn’t do. Play it a second time, and I’ll sing along using a fake Brazilian accent.
I don’t mind being plied with alcohol, my chosen brands being Maker’s Mark bourbon and Hornitos tequila – though I’ll drink most cabernets that sell for more than seven bucks a bottle and any beer, whatever the price.
But if you really want to move my soul, try a few lines from Raymond Chandler. Vivian Sternwood in The Big Sleep would be good. Say, “My God, you big handsome brute! I ought to throw a Buick at you!” and I’ll start humming Ravel’s Bolero. Follow it up with, “I loathe masterful men,” and steam will pour from my nose and ears. Or give me some James Cain. Try Cora from The Postman Always Rings Twice: say, “Yes! Yes, Frank, yes!” – substituting “Michael” for “Frank,” please – and I won’t say no.
Eyes, ears, tongue. These are the pathways to my desire – very wide pathways: superhighways, great salt flats.
Oh, but I’m also married – happily – and that makes my condition of easy seducibility both more difficult on the one hand and simpler on the other. On the one hand, my wife has seen me dance and is embarrassed and she’s unimpressed by my Brazilian accent. On the other hand, on every birthday I give her copies of The Big Sleep and The Postman Always Rings Twice, each Valentine’s Day I give her an Etta James CD, and you know where we go to dinner.
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
By Tracy Kiely
Seduction is an art form. There is no magic line that guarantees romantic success. Nobody ever had me at “hello,” and I find it hard to believe that any rational man would be intrigued by the offer to “come up and see me sometime.” Honestly, that line sounds like something you’d hear on Dateline followed by Keith Morrison’s sad voice observing, “Of course, no one ever would see Barry Jacobs again.”
Seduction depends on the time, the place, and the person. What worked on me in my youth would have no effect now. That said, I present you with a historical list of successful lines:
Pre-school: “Hey, would you like to share my Hostess Cupcake?”
Grade school: “Wanna couple skate? I can skate backwards.”
Middle school: Honestly, any overt interest at this horribly awkward age found me skittering away in terror. But based on the pictures that I’ve come across of me from this era, I don’t think it was an issue anyway.
High School: “Hey, a bunch of us are going to X’s house to watch Monty Python and then head down to Georgetown to catch the midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Want to come?”
College: “No, you’re not boring me at all. Maybe we could grab a beer and you can tell me more about the visual metaphors in Hitchcock’s movies?”
Early 20’s: “No, you’re not boring me at all. Maybe we could go to dinner and you can tell me more about the visual metaphors in Hitchcock’s movies?”
Late 20’s: “Seriously honey, from behind you can’t tell you’re pregnant at all.”
Early 30’s: “Pack your bags. My mom is coming to watch the kids for the weekend.”
Late 30’s: “X just threw up all over the bathroom, but I cleaned it up.”
40’s: “How about we get take out, a bottle of wine, go upstairs and lock the door, and pretend we can’t hear what the kids are doing?”
So there you have it. Not exactly the phrases you'd expect to hear from seduction masters such as Cary Grant, Bogie, or George Clooney, but they did the trick for me.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Monday, February 20, 2012
For example, two months ago the words 50% off, sexy, chocolate, beautiful, bonus and free might have made me purr like one of my cats. They wouldn't even have had to been uttered by my all-time film heart throbs, Alan Rickman or Armand Assante. Nope, just hearing those words would have sent my heart to pitter-pattering.
Today the words that would send me into nirvana would be extension (although I'm already on one), time off, and sleep.
But the words that would be the icing on the cake, the roar in my engine, the cabana boy in my dream vacation, would have to be THE END, typed by me at the end of this manuscript.
Trust me, when it happens, it will be earth shaking and orgasmic, even if Alan and Armand are not here to enjoy it with me.
Sunday, February 19, 2012
Saturday, February 18, 2012
I hate being late. Really, it goes beyond mere pet peeve. And I absolutely hate missing a deadline.
Like this one.
This post was supposed to be up, oh, nine, ten hours ago? Something like that. So you can imagine when I woke up, yelled, "Shit!" and scared the dogs, who then proceeded to jump on my head.
All 160 pounds. The dogs, not my head.
And then I spent twenty minutes trying to figure out what to write about. So I thought I'd write about deadlines. It's funny where we find inspiration. For me it's in panic.
Anyway, the point is that missing deadlines is bad. It's unprofessional, anxiety inducing and gives you gout. Okay, maybe not gout, but I wouldn't be surprised.
We've all done it. Missed our homework, screwed up in a project, been a week late to work after waking up from binge drinking Thunderbird and wondering how we ended up in a Shanghai brothel next to a cabaret singer named Pepe Von Bulow.
But there's a balance to maintain. Sometimes the work simply isn't done. Sometimes it's not as good as it could be. Nobody wants to turn in crap even if it's on time. I missed a deadline turning in my second book to my publisher. There are reasons, sure, but they all come down to excuses. It was late, I got an extension and I hit the second deadline.
Was it the best it could be? I don't know. Was it the best I could deliver? I think so. I sent it out to beta readers, got some feedback, made some changes. I'm not entirely happy with it, but it had reached the point where I honestly didn't know what else to do with it. I don't think it's perfect, but I do think it's good.
There's a saying, "Perfect is the enemy of good." The problem with perfect is that it doesn't exist. Particularly in books. Tastes are so subjective and quality is so often conflated with personal preference that you're never going to hit that mark for everyone.
If you spend all your time trying to make something perfect you're never going to finish it and chances are you're going to overshoot the mark. So focus on making it good, not perfect. Let it have flaws. Chances are you can fix them later. And if you can't, well, sometimes them's the breaks.
I'm not saying don't do your best work, but I am saying don't shoot for an impossible standard. Every time you look at your previous work you're going to find something you want to change. Stop it. It's not going to serve you. At some point you just have to say it's done and turn the damn thing in.
And really try to get it in on time. It cuts down on the panic.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
|Gary says: "Hi!"|
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Why? Why would we try to do this? No, seriously. There is no good outcome to being a silver tongued rapscallion.
If you successfully woo and seduce your significant other with a string of beautiful words. What are you going to do next time? You can't say the same thing - your eyes are like pools of luminescent moonbeams - you can't say that twice. The response will be - you said that last time, what else do you got?
And if you're not successful then what ? If you mention some flower that she's never heard of or compare her to some work of art she doesn't find particularly attractive or if she says "your biceps are so strong" shortly after you failed to open the tomato sauce jar without fetching a hammer, you are just going backwards.
No, no, no. In this case less is definitely more. Her beauty is always indescribable - so why try. Your masculinity is better served by a few well placed touches and some type of cooing noise - even if she is merely suppressing a laugh.
Yes - I think this is the best policy - plus it always seems as if people are mad about getting seduced. Rarely on a soap-opera do you hear a character shout "You seduced me..and I liked it!" No - I'm afraid its always followed by an icy stare or a plate thrown through the air.
Best to avoid all this and let your touch do the talking. Of course I guess we have to do some talking to get there in the first place. Grrrr.... Its a vicious circle.
Do you women see what valentine's day does to us men?
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Monday, February 13, 2012
"England 2, Colombia 0" by Kirsty MacColl. Most people know the late, great Kirsty best for her duet with Shane MacGowan of the Pogues in “Fairytale of New York,” but she was also one of the best pop songwriters and wittiest lyricists I can think of. Take, for example, this song about a woman who goes out on a date to find out in the nick of time that the man she's with is married, as a soccer match plays in the background. "And I know just how those Colombians feel …."
Bonus Tracks: "Rider" by Okkervil River; "Excuses" by The Morning Benders; "Heart Full of Love" by The Invincibles; "You Said Something" by P.J. Harvey; "Barstool Blues" by Neil Young & Crazy Horse; "Rocket Man" by My Morning Jacket; "Castanets" by Alejandro Escovedo; "Strange Powers" by The Magnetic Fields; "Gettin' Grown" by Cee-Lo Green & His Perfect Imperfections; and "Chinatown" by Destroyer.
Secret, Hidden Tracks: "Another Girl, Another Planet" by The Replacements (covering The Only Ones); "Champagne and Reefer" by Buddy Guy and the Rolling Stones (Buddy Guy's glare is worth the price of admission).
Sunday, February 12, 2012
Last week’s question about board games suited me perfectly. This one… not so much. I enjoy listening to music but I am totally tone deaf and really don’t know much about it, other than what I like.
I’ve been trying to learn a bit about opera. Being tone deaf, big brassy music is what I like best. Yesterday I went to my local theatre to see the Met live-via-satellite performance of Gotterdammerung. I bought my ticket in advance and when I got to the booth she said, “You know it’s six hours long?” No I didn’t know (see above for lack of musical education). However, I gamely bought my ticket thinking if I didn’t like it, I could leave during one of the two intermissions.
I did know enough to know that Gotterdammerung is but the fourth of a four part storyline. I have a book at home titled Tolkien’s Ring, which is an exploration of the influences on J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings (waiting for the LOTR question, here: That’s my niche!) The book contained the entire plot synopsis of Wagner’s Ring Cycle so at least I was able to attend the performance knowing what was going on.
I loved it! At the end, I found it hard to believe I’d been sitting there for six hours (nice comfy seats too). I loved the music, the costumes, the singers. The set, not so much, being more about light and technology than objects, but it was okay. The main character of Brunnhilde was sung by Deborah Voight and she was magnificent. Just spectacular. Interestingly, I find female voices in opera much more powerful than male voices. The best scene yesterday was between Brunnhilde and her Valkyrie sister. Waltraude, the second, the dramatic finale which is all Brunnhilde’s.
So, would I describe Gotterdammerung as the soundtrack of my life? Hardly. No magic rings, no heroes leaping through fire, no sleeping on a rock waiting to be rescued.
No hatred and betrayal, either.
But I loved the performance yesterday. I’d highly recommend that anyone who wants to expanse their musical experience, try attending on of these live performances.
Saturday, February 11, 2012
When I was a teenager, the soundtrack was simple and indeed played on a 8-track tape player – and how sad is it that I’m that old – the heft of a portable x-ray machine strapped beneath the dash of my dad’s ’65 Ford Galaxy when I was a senior in high school. Pumped at volume as those of us on the football squad arrived for our Friday night games, the “Theme to Shaft” by Issac Hayes. Cue that great guitar intro:
Who is the man
That would risk his neck for
his brother man?
(all the girls say: Shaft!)
Can ya dig it?
Who's the cat that won't cop out,
When there's danger all about
(all the girls again say: Shaft!)
But there was also “Lola” from the Kinks that, shall we say, piqued our interests,–
Well, I'm not the world's most physical guy,
But when she squeezed me tight she nearly
broke my spine
Oh my Lola, L-L-Lola
Well, I'm not dumb but I can't understand,
Why she walked like a woman but talked like a man,
Oh my Lola, L-L-Lola, L-L-Lola
Time passes and there were other Friday nights spent in places like the Jockey Club and Jukebox Jury…yes my friends, the Age, the Scourge of Disco had arrived. And what better song encapsulated this ere than “Disco Inferno” by the Tramps (riffed on I shamelessly note in a short story of mine called “Disco Zombies” from the Cocaine Chronicles recently republished in my short story collection, Treacherous: Grifters, Ruffians and Killers)
Satisfaction came in a chain reaction -- Do you hear?
I couldn't get enough, so I had to self destruct,
The heat was on, rising to the top
Everybody's goin' strong
That is when my spark got hot
I heard somebody say
Burn baby burn! -- Disco inferno!
A, ah yeah!
Threaded through those time periods and into my mid to late twenties are those relationships that healed you and took something out of you at the same time. Who better than the Joe Simon in his song “Drowning in the Sea of Love” to express that:
I’ve been down one time,
I’ve been down two times,
Now I’m drowning,
Drowning in the sea of love
And there was Santana’s “Black Magic Woman” song that pretty much summed it up for me and wommin' folk as well --
I got a Black Magic Woman
I got a Black Magic Woman
Yes, I got a Black Magic Woman
She's got me so blind I can't see
But she's a Black Magic Woman and
she's trying to make a devil out of me
For the tough times there’s the two constants, the Boss’ “Darkness on the Edge of Town” –
Lives on the line where dreams are found and lost,
I'll be there on time and I'll pay the cost,
For wanting things that can only be found
In the darkness on the edge of town.
And War’s “Slippin’ into Darkness,”
When I heard my mother say,
You've been slippin' into darkness,
Oh oh oh oh
Pretty soon, you're gonna pay.
When it comes time to checkout, like how it was used for a dying Russian gangster on an episode of House, maybe that last soundtrack will be the intonations of the late great Eddie Hazel’s guitar magnificence on Funkadelic‘s “Maggot Brain.”
(you can click on Treacherous or "Maggot Brain" for extras by the by)
Friday, February 10, 2012
Catnapped and Doggone
Confession time. I'm not a music person. I know we creative types are supposed to be hanging out together and I have nothing but awe for the truly talented musicians and songwriters in the world who manage to tell their stories with rhythm. But the thing is, I grew up in a predominantly silent house. Except for the yelling and name-calling to be expected with eight people and one bathroom, there wasn't a lot of noise much less composition that would lend itself to a background tapestry upon which I could paint my life story.
I was going to write this blog by finding out the top songs in the key moments in my life but figured out that would help everyone do the longevity math and, well, that is not a place I'm going to willingly go. Instead, I chose some key moments, places and people and borrowed quotes from some of my favorite authors that, at least in my rather convoluted thinking, manage to convey the essence of that person I was in that moment. With any luck, once linked, each of these snapshots will flow into the verbal soundtrack of the Life of Gabi.
Of course, I couldn't make it that easy and I'm a little unsettled with simply handing the key that makes me tick over without a little fight, I've written two lists. Mix and match my bulleted moments with the numbered quotation. Any insights are welcome. Answers are at the end.
A. Reporting day at the United States Military Academy at West Point
B. Circus school
C. Kerouac and Kokopelli
D. Arthur Andersen interview, Bouchercon and parade formation
E. Moving to Austin to write full-time
F. The terme baths at the Grand Wailea Spa, Maui
G. Law school at the University of Oregon
H. Amarillo, Texas
I. 7 Criminal Minds
J. Changing the world
- “I can’t swim.” – The Sundance Kid
- “You have brains in your head and feet in your shoes.” -- Dr. Seuss
- “We’re not in Kansas anymore.” – Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz
- “I say beware of all enterprises which require new clothes.” – Henry David Thoreau
- “Oh,” said Cecilia with a deep sigh, “but we must live here.” An Irish setter ran out to inspect us. I bent down and patted it. “With a dog,” I added. -- A.A. Milne
- “Who leaves the pine-tree, leaves his friend,Unnerves his strength, invites his end.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
- “The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.” – Joseph Conrad
- “America is my country and Paris is my hometown.” – Gertrude Stein
- “Where’s the beef?” – Clara Pell
- “Good friends, good books, and a sleep conscience: this is the ideal life.” Mark Twain
A. 4 -- The West Point dress grey uniform is the same outfit worn by the flying monkeys in the Wizard of Oz. There's a clue in there somewhere.
B. 1 -- I was the first person in my trapeze class to climb all the way to the ceiling using the silks. Then I looked down. Unlike Sundance, I knew it was the fall that was the problem (although technically, it's the landing).
C. 5 -- Ker and Koko are my dogs, past and present. It's not a home without dog hair on everything.
D. 2 -- These are all examples of moments when the brains in my head had to work out the fix for the two left shoes on my feet.
E. 7 -- I turned my world upside down to spend more time writing, moved to Austin and promptly burned my office-cubicle-haven't-seen-the-sun-in-Seattle skin to a crisp.
F. 8 - Everyone has a place they walk into and no is their special place. Those terme baths -- they're mine.
G. 3 - I went from culturally homogenous Midwest to identical soldier Army to the Grateful Dead are in town Eugene, Oregon. Talk about your culture shock.
H. 9 - My mother liked to route our vacations so we could eat at the Big Texas steakhouse. Wisconsin to California via Amarillo, Texas. Is my sense of direction (or dearth of one) any real surprise?
I. 10 - I love our blog community even if my chances of being arrested have increased by a factor of ten thousand.
J. 6 - I've been working with the passionate people at the Rainforest Partnership to bring sustainable incomes to communities in the rainforest while protecting the environment. I don't leave my friends.
Thanks for reading.
Thursday, February 9, 2012
When I was growing up in
With the WXRT precedent behind me, I construct the following playlist or soundtrack for my life.
Chet Baker, “Let’s Get Lost”
John Coltrane, “Naima”
“Whatever Lola Wants,” Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, as performed by Ella Fitzgerald
Buddy Johnson, “Since I Fell For You”
“(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” Rolling Stones
“Blue Skies,” Willie Nelson
Celia Cruz, “Guantanamera”
Don Giovanni (Commandatore Scene), Mozart
“Dance This Mess Around,” B-52’s
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
By Tracy Kiely
Before I tackle today’s topic – the soundtrack of my life – let me just say that, like a lot of other Anglophile’s, I have of late submerged myself into the posh world of Downton Abbey. (For those of you unfamiliar with this latest Masterpiece series, it follows the Crawley household during the waning days of the Edwardian Era. Or, as the Washington Post stated, “it is lifestyle porn for Anglophiles.”) The scenery is lush, the clothes are gorgeous, and the dialog – especially Dame Maggie Smith’s – is perfect and biting. More than that, though, the portrayal of the unhurried lifestyle of the Edwardian gentry beckons to me from my modern-day world of chaos. So much so, that after a happy visit with the Crawley clan, I have blinked in confusion at the mess strewn around me and begun to call out for Mr. Carson or Mrs. Hughes to set it right.
(And before you start yelling at me that it is in many ways an unrealistic portrayal, and that women, servants, and the lower classes were viewed and many times treated like second class citizens, and that that there were a host of social injustices perpetrated with casual indifference, let me assure you that I know all that. But dammit, it looks pretty and I like to pretend, so let’s move on, shall we?)
Anyway. I mention all of this so you will understand that I would love for my life’s soundtrack to be something sophisticated and elegant, but of course, with a hint of whimsy. The soundtrack to Pride and Prejudice would do nicely, as would just about any period drama from that era.
However, if I am honest with myself, I have to admit that my soundtrack would be something like the Flight of the Bumblebee, and the version I would have would stick and skip.
I have three lovely children who are all displaying age appropriate behavior. My fifteen-year-old son has embraced the eye-rolling condescension of that age with a gusto normally reserved for violent video games. He does not understand what a laundry hamper or dishwasher is for. My twelve-year-old daughter is channeling the drama channel and learning to flounce off in a huff with the best of them. Unlike her brother, she understands what a laundry hamper is for; it is the thing in which you throw all the clothes that slide off of the closet hangers – and is the reason why a winter coat ends up in the laundry room in the middle of August. My third is a nine-year-old boy who can never find his shoes, casually mentions that he’s been brushing his teeth for several days without toothpaste because he couldn’t find any (despite there being three tubes on the sink), and refuses to wear anything other than sports jerseys. My dog likes to retrieve various items, such as the TV remote, and then play hide and seek with it. My cat normally stares at me with the cool indifference typical of his breed, but lately has been following me about and curling up with me. This, of course, only made me remember that story about the cat in the nursing home who could sense death and stayed close to those patients about to die. I have been on high alert all week.
Add to all this, a book that needs editing, a proposal that needs writing, and a marketing plan that needs marketing, and perhaps you will see why I long for Edwardian calm in the midst of my bumblebee flight.
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Once upon a time, and a lucky time it was, a boy named Josh was born in the gigantic state of Rhode Island. He was a baby and then he grew up, although not by much. He loathed school but loved writing and the TV. He especially enjoyed the Creature Double Feature which played on Saturday afternoons and the Dialing-for-Dollars B-Movie Extravaganza which played on weekday mornings.
As time passed, he somehow acquired three siblings, a sister and two brothers. He also somehow acquired a fondness for school which replaced his previous loathing. Around this time, he discovered the novels of Stephen King; these in particular infected him with a sinister joy.
He matriculated to the slightly smaller state of New York, which he attended college in Binghamton and gained many friends, several enemies, and one nasty case of mononucleosis. While there, he wrote dozens of plays, ignoring the cries of the masses begging him to desist. He also began work on a screenplay entitled Windfall, which magically won first place in the Open Door Contest co-sponsored by Script Magazine and Dimension Films.