Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Serial Killer 101

I originally wrote this for the Horror Writers Discussion topic about avoiding cliches, then took it down for some reason. Plus I felt like people might think I was bragging at the end when I was trying to explain the steps I took in creating Brame and trying to make him less of a cliche.

Since I write a serial killer I guess that's what I'll talk about.

Character development is one way to either fall into cliche or avoid it. With a serial killer it's easy to go the cliched route. The profile of a serial killer is often that of a sociopath. There are all sorts of checklists for characteristics of a sociopath based on the DSM and I've seen there is a tendency for writers to simply pick traits from the list and that's their character. To make matters worse they pick only the traits they see as positives leaving their killers without any weaknesses. So what you have is the stereotypical serial killer who is [or thinks he is] charming and charismatic, ruthless, remorseless, emotionally unattached, narcissistic - and yet they can't really be blamed for their narcissism because they are, after all, perfect, except for that nasty little quirk of killing people. I think the tendency to make the charming, handsome, ruthless killer is an attempt to make a desirable or sympathetic character without doing any work.

It's perfectly all right to be the charming, handsome, ruthless killer if he/she is written well. If the reader really does find them believably charming then the first act of ruthless killing is quite a shock. Or the contrast of a beautiful exterior with a very ugly interior can be compelling, but that requires skill and careful crafting.

Socipathic serial killers can come off as flat, one-dimensional stereotypes without the writer really knowing their character. First, if the serial killer is a socipath, the writer needs to understand more about a sociopath than just a list of traits. How do those traits affect the killer? If he stalks a certain type of victim the writer should know why and let that develop in the story.

If the story is not from the POV of the killer it's still important to know what motivates the killer, how they think, and what others think of him. Show the emotional impact of their violence on victims not just the pain.

Because socipathic serial killers share basic traits a writer really has to dig deep and fully understand their villain to make him unique and not a cookie cutter killer. Why he kills who he kills can make him stand out. His weaknesses, habits, and quirks can also take him out of the mold. I reccomend reading about real life serial killers as well as taking a close look at popular fictional serial killers. Ask yourself what makes them unique, look closely at how the author shows that, then start dissecting your own serial killer.

That said there are other types of serial killers than sociopaths. Before I go any further, do not confuse socipathic with psychotic. Brame is psychotic. His victims are random and he chooses them for different reasons, sometimes simply because they're available. When it comes to having a concept of right and wrong he does and he doesn't. He believes being impolite and using foul language is wrong, but he doesn't believe it's wrong when he kills somebody for committing those infractions. It's simply something that has to be done. Even though I've never stated why he holds this belief, I know why and that helps me write him. I have guidelines for his behavior.I know what motivates him and how he came to be the way he is. Also, he's not perfect- he makes mistakes, gets hurt, loses bodies, can't control his emotions, and his only friend is a box. I hope he comes off as more than just a crazy guy who talks to a box because I took the time to develop his character before writing him. Instead of just deciding to have a crazy guy who hears voices and running with that, I defined who the voices belong to and their relationship to him. I hope that does a little bit to avoid the trope of the demented crazed killer.

Monday, April 13, 2009

That Tater Had A Death Wish

Just some randomness.

My friend Mdme was telling me about preparing Easter dinner at her mom's house. She said all went well except for the sweet potatoes. She had to move them from one oven to another and this one sweet potato rolled off the pan onto the floor. Whatever, she said, she'd eat that one. So she put it back on the tray. Later she realized the taters weren't cooking as fast as she thought, dinner was approaching, so she and her sister-in-law decided to nuke them. Now, she had transferred them to another tray, one with a higher rim, and still a potato took the leap. The same potato. Only this time it bounced off the oven door, rolled back inside beneath the bottom rack, right up against one of the heat rings, and caught on fire. Yep, that tater had a death wish. She said it was actually quite good.

We had storms off and on all weekend. Last night there were seriously strong winds. Sometime during the night this big tall pine tree fell across the parking lot into the courtyard my apartment is at. It managed not to hit or do damage to anything. My roommate Mark and I got my friend Miss Montez's scooter, put it under the tree, then woke her up. She freaked out maybe all of five seconds before remembering she didn't park anywhere near there. We got called some choice names and are grounded. Grounded from what I don't know.

Speaking of Mark... he finally discovered the cause of the extreme itching he's been suffering the last few months. It was his moisturizing bodywash. Apparently he was having a bad reaction to some ingredient. Back to Ivory soap for him.

At least he's not allergic to water. I knew a damn hippy who isn't exactly allergic to soap and water as the saying goes, but he is allergic to flouride which gets put into the water. He used to bathe very very little until he found a water purifier that would remove flouride and had it installed in his shower. He's much more pleasant to be around now although he does still reek of patchouli.

At a group home where I used to live if any of us smelled like patchouli we got in a lot of trouble even if we hadn't burned one down. This one guy had a thing for this girl that wore a perfume that had a lot of patchouli in it. We came back from the movies and he smelled like patchouli from hooking up with her out in the parking lot and he got put on restriction for a month. The girl dumped him because she heard he'd gotten in trouble for smoking pot.

My girlfriend is getting her college degree next month. Now maybe when she goes for job interviews she won't hear how she's perfect for the job and has all the qualifications except they were really looking for someone with a degree. Her goal is to find a five day a week job that pays almost as much as Miss Montez makes hostessing at a fancy shmancy restaurant. [You would not believe how much Miss M makes. It makes you want to quit your day job and learn to placate idiots.]

My hope is that once Shan graduates we'll maybe possibly see each other a little more. Of course that's what we hoped when we moved in together and that hasn't exactly happened thanks to her deciding to take every course possible so she could go ahead and graduate, and working six nights a week to pay for it. Blame me too, I'm now working lunch shift for awhile to make extra money so I can beef up our savings and maybe she won't have to work so much while looking for something that's a career and not just a job. But it means I'm out of the apartment every morning by 5:30.

In good news, a person in a novel I write in at at panhistoria.com finally got their post up so we can progress in the storyline. They've had a lot going on. At last I'll get to kill someone with my character. It's been a joke since I joined that novel that I would find some way some how to kill some one.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

So cruel

I'm running on three hours sleep and I've had fairly busy day which included meeting a friend at the airport. I decided it's finally not too early to go to sleep and my headache has come back full force.

As long as I get to sleep before midnight I'll be good. I usually get up between four and five to get ready for work . I was really hoping to get in some extra sleep though.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I just don' wanna

Now you'll never know what I don't want to do because I just deleted this entire post.


Because it might upset someone unintentionally.

I broke out of my apathy long enough to get annoyed, but am reluctant to vent about it for hurting someone else's feelings.

Yes, I know, I'm lame.

Monday, April 6, 2009

A slice of hell

This morning I woke up with a raging headache. It was like a really bad hangover. The swollen brain feeling, hurts all over, someone shoot me now sort of headache.

As I made my way to the kitchen I had this thought of please don't let there be dishes in the sink. [BTW, I'm once again stuck saying sink instead of dishes so every time I try to type or say 'dishes in the sink' I say, 'sinks in the dish' and when I ask for a plate I say sink. Rather frustrating.] The idea of there possibly being anything in the sink was almost enough to send me back to bed.

Instead I found a roommate cooking sausage which sent me straight to the bathroom to worship at the porcelain shrine.

That was the start of my day.

Eventually my headache did let up some. I even go to where I could keep food down, didn't have to keep my arms clamped around my head, and could even bear company.

About this time my girlfriend returned from visiting her mom with two neices and one nephew in tow. The oldest being seven years old. I don't know if it was my mental state produced by the headache and wallowing in depression the last few days, or the fact that the oldest is stubborn and stupid, the middle just stupid, and the youngest just stubborn, but at one point I actually said, "My god, it's a wonder more people don't beat their children." Except thanks to me being paraphasic it came out something more along the lines of "God thinks more people should eat children."

One of the kiddies will not be looking forward to going to church Easter Sunday. Not the youngest. She's kind of twisted and started telling me about zombies eating people's brains while they're still alive. They are usually dead by the time the zombies finish so she said.

After my girlfriend hauled off the kids and went to work I had the place to myself for two hours. Eventually another roommate came home and we decided to go to the grocery store. On our list was bacon. The quest to get bacon annoyed me almost as much as the seven year old who smacked when she ate. There were four people standing in front of the bacon. All together apparently, none of them actually looking at the bacon. I stood there several minutes watching them just standing there talking and finally went to catch up with my roommate Mark. We went up and down a few aisles and those people were still there. A few more aisles and I saw them leaving, so we head that way with our cart, but we can't get there because those four people stopped to talk to a few other people, effectively blocking both routes around one of those long coolers they always have stuck between the meats and frozen foods. They just stood there. Doing nothing. Some weren't even talking. Just standing there. At last we got by them, but it was too late. Some other people were camped out in front of the bacon, just standing there. Possibly talking. I don't know. We went to the other end of the store and back and those people were still there.

What is wrong with people that they just stand in front of the bacon? Is there something fascinating there that I'm missing? Is that the spot to stand?

I finally went over to them and said, "Excuse me. I need to get some bacon." And you know what happened? If you guessed nothing, then you're correct. They ignored me. Well guess what? I'm over 6'7". I've got a long reach. I got our bacon and also tossed a few other things into their cart. I wound up doing that to the other people too. All the bacon hogs. When they got to check out I wonder if they noticed all the little cans of brains in milk gravy, the bean-o and maalox, the feminine deodorant spray, pacifiers, cat snacks, pearl onions, and whatever else I could pick up and toss into their carts, or did they not discover it until they got home?

They're lucky I did slip small items into their pockets then yell "shoplifter" as they left the store. Not that I've ever done that to anyone. *cough*

The good thing about me feeling like crap all day and getting crankier by the minute, was it finally motivated me to write a post for panhistoria.com featuring a particularly unpleasant character of mine. I keep having to double check it for random words and repetitive phrases that I'm usually able to pick out before or right after I publish it [thank goodness for the edit feature] and his language isn't quite as colorful as usual [I get help on that from my best friend who's got a mouth on her], but was glad I got it done anyway.

Now if you don't mind my girlfriend just called to say she's off work and headed home so whatever kind of hell I've had today it'll all be better when it's just her and me. [the three other roommates are tucked in their beds already.]

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Today I'm suffering from apathy. Sometimes I'm torn between thinking it's the best or the worst part of depression. I mean, I don't care I'm depressed, right?

I try to do things I enjoy hoping to break out of it, but I either quit halfway or don't even get started.

What's it matter?

If I don't make the icing for the cake well then let whoever wants to eat it go buy a can of frosting and do it themselves. If I don't write that next little scene or story or post or whatever, no one's really going to notice. If I spend all my time lying across the bed looking out the window or with my head stuffed under the pillow no one really cares. [ok, on the last one my girlfriend cares. She's already drug me out of bed once today and at least made me get dressed.]

I did do a few loads of laundry and only wandered off and forgot one. So I managed to complete something today.

At least when I'm feeling apathetic I don't yell at anyone or curl up into a ball covering my head wishing everyone and everything would go away.

I miss being me though. I miss being the happy one.

OK, now I'm going to go into the kitchen and make fudge frosting.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Having Fun in the Action Zone

One fun thing about the collaborative writing site Panhistoria are the different contests held throughout the site and on the different zones. There are zones for different genres; Action, Contemporary, Fantasy, History, Horror, Other, Science Fiction, Western and Romance. So there's a place for anyone to fit in.

Often the zone sponsored contests are writing contests specific to the genre. This month in Action Zone the contest revolved around a James Bond theme. I took my characters Andre & Meredith and had a little fun with them. Here's my short story for the Action Zone.
- - -

It's All In The Name

The handsome couple who exited the plane last took a moment to soak in the warm tropical sun while the other dozen passengers made their way to a covered area to be greeted with fruity drinks and local tour guides. The younger of the two men looked about at the tiny little excuse for an airport, at the wrecked plane at the end of the runway they’d flown in over with ‘oops’ spray-painted across the wreckage, up at the cloudless sky, and finally at his blonde companion who cleaned his sunglasses on the tail of his shirt. He spoke in French. “This is it?

“This is it, André,” the man replied in his fluid British accent. “Sorry if you wanted casinos and night clubs. We could always take a boat over to one of the bigger islands, but I think this is perfect. We needed a holiday away from the city. There’s nothing to do here, except entertain ourselves.”

“All right, Meredith, but this better not be one of your secret missions I’m not supposed to know about. There’s nothing here. Makes me think of some evil villain’s secret hideout.” He walked along behind Meredith who wanted a drink and a ride to their small resort. "
It’s okay for you if your arch nemesis or some mad scientist is here. You get to have fun. I’ve seen the secret agent movies. I know what happens to the attractive sidekick. I’ll be taken hostage. Tortured. Made to listen to ABBA, while watching Celebrity Big Brother, and eating microwaved burritos. I will be very upset with you if I’m taken prisoner.”

Grateful he didn’t add ‘again’ to his lament, Meredith handed him a red and yellow drink. “It’s merely a holiday, mon lapin. It’s no one’s secret hideout. You’re perfectly safe.”

Isn’t that what you said about Hong Kong? Prague? North Dakota?

“To be honest North Dakota took me completely by surprise as well.”

André pat Meredith’s shoulder.
“Yes, I understand. Who expects such a large concentration of ninjas in North Dakota? Who expects ninjas anywhere? Who expects ninjas at all? Sneaky little bastards.”

“I’m sorry. But it’s not my fault entirely. You have this way of attracting trouble like flies to honey.” He held open the backdoor of a Jeep for André and followed him inside. “I don’t know why I’m apologizing for that. It had absolutely nothing to do with me. They mistook you for that insane venture capitalist Shorty McStump.” He gave the driver their destination.

“I resent that still. And that name, Shorty McStump. That is someone evil. Villains always have ridiculous names. They can’t have normal names like other people.”

“Says the guy whose last name means ‘knife’.”

“Yes, it means knife, Mr. Pike.”

“Quit worrying and let’s just enjoy our holiday. Nothing will happen.”

André’s dark eyes bore into Meredith’s bright blue eyes. “Oh thank you so much, Old Man.
Why not draw a target on me, put me in a blow-up raft slowly losing air, and pour some blood in the water to attract the mutant flying man-eating electric sharks? Never ever say nothing will happen. Might as well call the ninjas.”

“Is your friend all right?” the driver asked.

“No. He’s neurotic. But I love him anyway.”

* * *

All was going well. After a day where the most exciting thing that happened occurred in a hammock, André began to feel more at ease and secure.

Together he and Meredith entered the cozy building referred to as the lodge where meals were served family style. A new guest had arrived and stood behind the bar mixing drinks with a silly Japanese man who wore an obnoxious Hawaiian shirt. “André-chou, get us drinks. I’ll get us places at a table.”

“Not with the old peoples from Florida. I not want to hear from that man about how the States keep saving my froggie behind from the Gestapo.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it. Get me a gin and tonic. Lime not lemon.”

“Ouias.” He went to the bar and smiled at the woman who didn’t smile so much as simmer.

She radiated smoldering passion and sexuality. Her luxurious scarlet hair was streaked with golden blonde. Half of it was twisted up in an elaborate coiffe, the rest hung down in thick shimmering coils pulled forward over her shoulder. Her hair was so abundant it nearly obscured her bandeaux top which tried with all its might to contain her ample perfect breasts. A sarong in shades of brilliant greens and blues clung to her hips yet allowed almost the entirety of one long leg to be revealed.

André noticed her eyes. They were not the same color. “You are making the drinks for all, please?”

“Yes, darling. I’m playing bartender. I do so love it when alcohol is inclusive in the cost of a package, don’t you?” Her voice was a smoky purr.

“Yes, whatever you say. So, you will make for me a gin and tonic with lime and give to me a Stella?”

“No, problem, sweetheart.”

He tilted his head at her wondering why she kept calling him pet names. Maybe she was a waitress in a diner and couldn’t help herself.

“Here you go, cutie.” She set a glass and bottle of beer in front of him. “What’s your name?”

“André Couteau. You?” He picked up the glass and beer and took a sip of the gin and tonic because she had filled it to the rim.

“Fraise DesBois.”

The glass shattered on the floor. The bottle bounced off a barstool spewing its contents. Another barstool fell over as André staggered back, his hands held up defensively before him.
“No. No. You stay away from me! Evil woman! Stay away!”

Meredith ran to André and grabbed him by the shoulders. “What is it? André, tell me. What is it?”

“Her name. Fraise DesBois! It means wild strawberry.” André tore away from Meredith and ran from the lodge ranting about arch villains and ninjas.

Meredith could only shake his head in disbelief. “I think the stress of the restaurant has finally gotten to him.”

Fraise DesBois watched with a smile as the tall blonde man left the lodge. She pat the head of the wiry man next to her. “You did well to alert me, Bak Phat. Not only have you happened upon Mr. Pike, France’s greatest secret agent who is British, but with him is his Achilles Heel.”

“I thought he said his name was André.”

* * *
Meredith had calmed André with a shot of reason and a dose of tranquilizers. He left André tucked snugly into bed, returned to the lodge for dinner, and offered his apologies to Ms. DesBois, beginning his apology with “You may have noticed my friend is French…” That was really all the explanation needed, that and he added André was a chef and overworked.

He returned to the cabin with a tray for André, they had to get the recipe for the lobster bisque, and set it on the little table just inside the door. The shower was running. “André, You’ll be happy to know Ms. DesBois has a good sense of humour and understands how stressed out you are and has no hard feelings. I brought you,” he opened the door to the bathroom and fell silent. Steam billowed out. He stepped inside, reached into the empty shower and turned off the hot water. “André, did you start a shower and go back to bed?”

Stepping into the bedroom his eyes narrowed at the bed which was not only empty, but in disarray. The mattress tilted half off the bed, the bedside table overturned, the lamp only shards of pottery scattered across the floor. “This better be a really bad practical joke, André.”

He returned to the bathroom and saw the steam revealed a message written on the bathroom mirror. “Bring the flash drive to Cpt Morgan’s Cave at sunrise or you will never see your Chef again.” The last portion was hard to read because of the limited space on the mirror and the length of the message. At first he thought it said something about never seeing Cher again which was fine with him.

* * *
“Stupid ninja,” André scowled at Bak Phat.

“I told you, I’m not a ninja. I wasn’t even born in Japan. I was born in Cleveland.”

“Did you or did you not sneak in my room dress like a ninja?”

“I wore a black ski mask and a Hawaiian shirt. This shirt!” He tugged on the rainbow hued shirt he wore.

“Cause you a stupid ninja from Cleveland.” André sneered.

“I’m not a ninja!”

“Bak Phat, stop talking to him,” Fraise DesBois snapped for what seemed like the hundredth time.

“I try, but he keeps calling me a stupid ninja.”

“I calls them like I sees them, stupid ninja.” André muttered under his breath. He was really getting tired of this. This boring cave was no place to spend the night. “Hey, is this not a pirate cave? Are not pirates and ninjas mortal enemies? I hope a pirate come and cut you to pieces.”

“You’re insane, do you know that? Stark raving mad!” Bak Phat waved his hands in the air. “You’re a freaking prisoner. Can’t you cower in fear or go whimper in the corner?”

“I might could if you were scary ninja ‘stead of stupid ninja.”

Outside Meredith who saw no reason to wait around until sunrise to launch a rescue for André dropped down behind one of DesBois’ armed thugs, this one wearing a golf shirt covered in palm trees and a ski mask, tapped him on the shoulder, and head butted him when he turned to see who it was. “I guess the current economic crisis must be effecting her ability to afford experienced minions,” he said as he inspected the machine gun the man dropped. He removed the clip and tossed it into the ocean. “Overkill, really. I’m just one man.”

Carefully stepping over the man he proceeded toward the next minion who patrolled the opening to the cave.

Inside the cave DesBois was getting tired of the bickering between Bak Phat and André. “Can the two of you please just shut up! This has been going on for hours. Shut up!”

“Yeah, shut your mouth. Ninjas is to being silent.”

“Your English really sucks.”

“You suck.”

“No, you suck, you fa- ooph!” He fell over clutching his family jewels.

Outside Meredith heard someone cry out. The minion heard it too and began hurrying towards the cave entrance. Acting fast he sprinted, tackled the man, and held his face in the sand until he stopped kicking.

André shook his head and examined his shoe for scuffs. “Evil Lady, your ninja got lousy reflex. I hope they not all this bad or Meredith gonna be disappointed at no challenge.”

“I’m the one who’s disappointed, sugar. I really expected more of a challenge than this myself.” She began pacing the length of the cave. “I guess it really would have been a challenge had he come alone. I just planned to do what I did with Jim.”


“Jim Bond.” She continued. “With him it was simple. He fancies himself a ladies man, so I only had to seduce him.”

“Yeah. That get you nowhere with my Meredith.”

“I can’t believe his name is actually Meredith. What kind of name is that for a secret agent? Did his parents want a daughter? How scared am I supposed to be of a man named Meredith?”

“Very scared. He behind you.” André smirked.

“Like I’m falling for that.” Just in case she looked over her shoulder. “Meredith!”

“That’s Mary F@cking Death to you.” He delivered a swift fist to her eye.

After reeling back from the sucker punch she lashed out at him. He caught her hand and snapped a long lacquered nail followed by another and another.

“My nail tips!” she screeched in horror.

“Your fingers will be next if you don’t give up hope of obtaining the secret information, gather your pretty useless minions, and leave the island.”

“Damn you, Pike. I’ll leave, but this won’t be the last you hear from me.” She stumbled into the wall when he released her.

“Try to call before noon. We get quite busy at the restaurant after that.” He unknotted the ropes around André’s wrists. “Are you all right?”

“So-So. Stupid Ninja scuff my shoe.” He kicked Bak Phat one more time for good measure. “I can’t believe you hit a woman. That was not very nice.

“She made fun of my name.”

Monday, March 16, 2009

Character Quirks

Wyatt has a good post about giving life to your characters with quirks, and to be on the alert for them in real life.

If your friends are as varied as mine you have a plethora of quirks to draw from. I have several characters based on real life friends and not so friendly acquaintances. One person actually spawned two characters.

Since I mostly do the listening when people get together I have a lot of opportunity to notice idiosyncrasies, habits, and even little things that other people miss because they're more involved in the conversation and often are thinking about what they're going to say next and not what is going on around them.

Quirks and behaviors are the best way to show not tell. I have a friend who is playful and very very conceited. She thinks she's out of most guys league. I could tell you that, or she could tell you that, [She will tell you that.] but it's more fun to watch her convey this. She has this smug little smile and will sort of wiggle her shoulders while she extends her neck and lifts her chin. She'll cock that chin towards a guy, her eyes twinkling as she looks over her apple cheeks at the poor sap, then she'll roll her eyes while raising her eyebrows. This is followed by a loud exhale through her nose as she turns her attention away from them. Usually she resumes talking about herself.

Another friend rarely speaks. Even more rarely does he show any emotion on his face. So we have a silent poker-faced person, but people are drawn to him. Maybe because they can't figure him out. He can't be easily read. He doesn't display his emotions except when his wife is around and then it's shown just in the way his eyes follow her.

I have so many quirks and oddities that on my birthday friends dress up like me and act like me. It's Scarecrow Day. They mimic me from the way I cover my mouth when I smile, the way I hold my cigarette, and even the way I constantly pull my sleeves down over my wrists. [If I'm wearing short sleeves and am around new people, I will try to pull my sleeves and wind up standing there with one hand wrapped around the other wrist. I have badly scarred arms and get self-conscious about people staring at them sometimes.]

I am obsessed with having a clean kitchen and every night before going to bed I clean it from top to bottom. So every night I'm cleaning the cabinet doors, scrubbing the sink, and mopping the floor. When we got our newest roommate I had to tell her to please not to leave a dish in the sink if she uses one after I clean and go to sleep. Stick it in the fridge, the dishwasher, put it anywhere, but there's something about coming in and finding a dish in the sink and knowing it's been there for hours that drives me nuts. I also wash the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher so I don't have to see dirty dishes every time I open the washer to put more in. It's dumb and redundant, but still I do it. I also clean all the bathrooms, but now that we're in a bigger apartment and PB and I have one to ourselves, that's the only one that gets the nightly scrub down. [I should do a series of posts about my quirks.]

Take note of what people collect, what they talk about, how they behave when in conversation especially when they are waiting to talk. I have neighbors who only listen to one band, an old guy who will loudly fart then say "Sorry, that was me." As if there were any doubt who the culprit was. But it always helps to know why a person does the weird things they do. Most people with unusual habits know how they developed or at least a story about it. Like my friend who eats each item on her plate in full before going to the next one. Or another friend who can't stand her lips to be wet so whenever she takes a sip of a drink or even licks her lips must immediately dry them. She told me how it came about, but said even knowing that doesn't prevent her from doing it. Knowing the reason why can give the character more life.

Rednecks, Frenchmen, & Skanks

My Saturday night was...it was...OK, I don't know how to describe it. It was definitely different.

Saturday I went to a wedding with PB. She was friends of the bride. I was friends of the groom. My restaurant was also hired to do the cakes and sweet part of the catering. Normally I would handle that during the wedding, but as I was going to the wedding I had to get to reception venue really early and assemble the cake. The only incident there was with the caterer handling the rest of the food trying to give me tips. Guy's rolls were commercially produced. If prepackaged rolls are better than yours, don't tell the pastry chef how to do anything. Besides, you might need him later when the mother of the bride bitches about your presentation.

That was not the unusual part of the evening. The interesting part began after we got back to town and PB decided we'd go by her workplace where she's the bartender, and see what was up. That and I think a lot of her friends couldn't imagine me in a suit other than the David Byrne suit I wore on Halloween, complete with knock-off white Keds.

Our friend Captain was just getting off work and had met two French guys who were working at some local industry. We'll call them L & S. Cap couldn't get hold of her friend Madame to act as interpreter or chaperone so she asked us to hang around while she got to know the Frenchies. Somehow something happened where we wound up going to a local bar/club and somehow PB begged out of it so I got to play chaperone. You can bet I was texting Madame every five minutes asking her to relieve me from chaperone duties.

I can't quietly slip into an establishment unnoticed. I'm over six and a half feet tall, rail thin, and was wearing a suit, although I left the coat in the car. So there I am surrounded by rednecks who still blame me for the High School basketball team not progressing in National Finals one year. It wasn't that I didn't block a shot I should have or missed a three-pointer. No. I just couldn't go because it was out of state. It was almost ten years ago, people, get over it.

One thing I never told L & S was that I can understand some French and they were easy to understand. I wasn't about to try to speak it to them since I have a hard enough time getting the right words to come out of my mouth in English. I think Cap was having a fun time talking to L anyway. A word about Cap; she speaks really really fast and doesn't enunciate. When she talks slowly she has this really strong accent. I was mostly interpreting what she said into understandable English for L & S. At some point L started telling her things to say in French to S. I told Cap she could say it if she wanted to, but ask me tomorrow and I'd tell her what she'd been saying.

The horror of the night was that the only place to sit was right by the dance floor. The chairs are impossibly low and I couldn't scoot mine far enough back to not be playing footsie with L, so I wound up standing against a column except when they were dancing.

Good god the dancing. It was all rednecks, skanks, and gangster wannabes booty dancing. S was completely shocked. He said they don't dance like that in France or even Ibiza. If men went up to a woman and started dancing like that they'd get slapped down and probably arrested. If girls danced like that, well, they'd be naked and getting money stuffed into their, okay, I won't say where.

There was this couple, I have no idea how old they were, but the woman was Queen Skank Ho of the bar. She was darkly tanned and pretty evenly tanned too without tan lines. If you have your clothes on and people can tell you don't have tan lines, you are not wearing enough clothes. We couldn't decide if she was in her 40s or just so weathered she looked like it. Her dancing was way beyond what anyone else was doing. She gave dirty dancing a whole new meaning. I first noticed her when she was right by our table and I was sitting down. She was hip thrusting at her dance partner. Her skirt was short enough, barely covered her ass, that S and I thought maybe they were actually having sex. Nope, just some skanky dancing. Later I was leaning against the column again and saw that S's eyes were about to pop out of his head. so I look around and see Queen Skank Ho is on her knees, her face in the guy's crotch bobbing back and forth, and he had his hands on back of her head and his own head tilted back. She was doing something with her mouth that was entirely unnecessary since we could all tell what she was simulating.

Why? Why was this happening? I felt dirty just being in the same building with them and there I was only three feet away. Too bad I wasn't drinking. Maybe I could have erased the memory.

Finally Madame arrived. Picture an auburn haired Lauren Bacall in her prime walking into a redneck bar and you might have some idea of what it was like when she came in. She refused to pay the cover charge and the doormen didn't argue. You do not argue with her. You will lose. She walked through this crowded bar with people just parting to get out of her way. One guy didn't see her coming, she tapped him on the shoulder, and I swear he practically bowed to her as he got out of her way, even though from where I was standing he looked pissed off when he got tapped on the shoulder. One of those "I move for no one" sort of guys. Madame does not like to be touched. I think she radiates a force field.

S looked her over and said something to L in French about Madame being pretty attractive, but why couldn't Cap have called a younger friend, bad enough he had to hang out with the tall freak while L put the moves on the blonde slut. Madame was so sweet. She gave S this chilly smile and said to Cap that S was not entirely unattractive in a pudgy sort of way, but she hoped to god she wasn't expected to acknowledge his presence in any way other than what basic politeness called for and to direct the waitress to him any time drinks needed to be paid for. Madame is fluent in French, Spanish, and Snobbish as she calls it.

Things got really amusing after that. She told Queen Skank Ho to take it to the backseat of a car, that she had firmly established the fact that she and bald guy were going to have sex, and it was enough to give all the children nightmares. She took S over to the bunch of girls who were dancing the sluttiest and said "He's from France, enjoy" to prove her theory that he only had to speak with that accent and the girls would put out. That honestly, if you're French and can't get laid just on that basis in a rinky dink town, you are truly pathetic. Then she told Cap and L to exchange numbers, that it was time to say goodnight because she was leaving and so was Captain.

If only I had known it was that easy to get out of there. But I don't think I hold that kind of sway over Captain. I did tell her once that maybe we should leave soon because any time I ventured away from them there was somebody wanting to talk basketball and how we would have won if I had gone. Sorry. They should have petitioned my probation officer to allow me to travel out of state with the team. I blame them. hah!

And that was my night full of rednecks, Frenchmen, and skanks. I was so happy to go home.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Today we have snow.

Seriously, it's snowing today. Friday there were tornadoes. Sunday there is snow.
Say hi to my little friend.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Work & Twisters

It's an interesting day at work. Work takes my mind off things so I can't wallow in my depression, so I like being here. the problem is the tornado sirens are going off. At first people said they were just testing them since we're going to get severe weather. Since Miss Montez had just brought me my computer I pulled up the national weather service and said, "There's a tornado about 15 miles away."

Usually sirens going off means the lunch crowd will be almost nonexistent. Plus there are apparently plenty of people here who although they've spent their entire lives in this tornado prone area, they freak out. I'm all for cancelling lunch service if only so I can get ahead on everything else and leave early. I don't get to leave if the lunch service is canceled even though I'm saucier at lunch. I just get to go back to my kitchen and do the rest of my work.

Ah, the sirens stopped! But the rain has started.

Oh wait, sirens again. Yeah, I'm all for no lunch service today if only to save all the plates the jumpy servers will be dropping.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


No, today is just as bad. Possibly worse.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I just want to hide in bed and sleep.

I want oblivion for a little while.

Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


At three minutes they finally ask about the real problem. It's two women kissing.

And later, don't make us feel bad about eating meat.

I'm not a member of PETA. I eat meat, I work in a restaurant. I've killed live animals in prep for dinner shift. But as for the ad campaign, it offending people seeing these sexy people blah blah blah, I always wonder about the people who are so offended by seeing things like that. Do they go to the mall? I've been two two malls in two days and both malls had stores with giant photographs of women in lingerie as well as males and females getting intimate with each other. But I don't hear people protesting these, even though one of the shops is directly across from a children's clothing store.

But PETA's not behind those pictures trying to tell anyone they are doing something bad. Those pictures of naked people are telling the consumer they can be beautiful too, so it's all right. And people can always claim they don't have to go to the mall and see those window displays. But I bet if a single one of those displays had a tiny little sign attached to it that said basically "stop doing something you enjoy because it's bad" people would suddenly demand those displays be removed.

so you want to be a writer?

if it doesn't come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don't do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don't do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
searching for words,
don't do it.
if you're doing it for money or
don't do it.
if you're doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don't do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don't do it.
if it's hard work just thinking about doing it,
don't do it.
if you're trying to write like somebody
forget about it.

if you have to wait for it to roar out of
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you're not ready.

don't be like so many writers,
don't be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don't be dull and boring and
pretentious, don't be consumed with self-
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
over your kind.
don't add to that.
don't do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don't do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don't do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.

Charles Bukowski

Sunday, February 1, 2009

How Are You?

People are just being polite when they ask "How are you?" Most aren't even being polite. They're being obligatory. [Don't know or care if I used that correctly, but you now what I mean.] Most people when they answer it, simply say "Fine" or "Good" and then the conversation commences.

Friday it would have meant a lot to me if someone had simply asked "How are you?" when I first came online in the afternoon. I would have said, "Fine" and not said any more than that, because I would know the person didn't really want the details of my day. I just wanted to be asked.

I just deleted all the details of why I wanted to be asked because I didn't want to sound like a whiner or that I was trying to get any sympathy. Just, take my word for it. Even if you don't care, always throw out that "How are you" or "How's it going?" The answer you receive may be just as perfunctory, but just asking the question might make a difference to someone.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

People who don't cook don't get it

Yesterday I had an accident at work. People who've never worked in a commercial kitchen don't get how I kept working or that no apologies were made.

I can't really piece together how it all went down. Somebody slipped or started to drop something. One body fell into another. Like dominoes falling into each other, bump bump bump, on down the line it went. Unfortunately for me Leland wasn't aware this was happening. He was in the middle of something. I caught the point of his knife in my arm. Just above my elbow.

No biggie. This happens. Knife gets tossed. New one comes out. Leland was a swell guy and grabbed my elbow with his free hand to keep the blood to a minimum and hopefully not get it on anything and lose our work. It was the middle of lunch. Finally somebody had to come over and wrap a towel around my arm and hold it there. One of the scrubbers stood there through lunch holding a towel around my elbow because it would not stop bleeding.

It wasn't that bad. Just sprang a leak. After lunch I got it super glued together. Funny though how people were so surprised I didn't stop working and how many people asked if Leland apologized to me. I said, why would he apologize? It wasn't his fault.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Hazing Days

Hazing is a way of life in a restaurant. You've got to haze the new guy.

I started work at a restaurant on Thursday. Most everyone there knows me. They know I'm not "the new guy". I'm not another cookie coming in to work on the line, I'm the new pastry guy, the one the new pastry kitchen that's been sitting there locked up is finally being opened for, the sweetie who unlike the last guy, will actually be stepping onto the line and filling in, especially on sauces.

Everybody that is except for the last new guy hired. The one hired after the last time I did an emergency fill-in. The one I call Twit.

Twit took some cooking classes in high school and junior college. He may be taking some at culinary school. Not clear on that one. But he has dreams and aspirations of being more than just a guy on the line. He's going to be a chef, which automatically has him thinking he's way better than any of the guys on the line who simply see it as a job. Doesn't matter they do it damn well.

I get the heads up that they've all lied, including Chef, and said I'm just a new guy hired on the line and he's all hepped up about having someone lower on the totem pole than him. So before everyone else is due to come in, I stash my chef's jacket, which is orange of course, and put on the ugliest one in the store room, and lock up the pastry kitchen so he thinks I'm just on the line.

First off, Twit does not wonder about if I'm the new guy, practically off the street, why is he on salads and I'm on pastry and sauces? Second, guy's about 5'7". I'm 6'7". He's either got a lot of balls or is just plain stupid to mess with me. We all voted on the latter. Third, dimwit even after figuring out I was the pastry chef, couldn't figure out why people called me Sweetie. It's a name some people call the pastry guy. It's got to do with all the sweets. We had to explain it to him.

It was great fun. It finally got blown when the owner was expediting and the first dessert order got called out and she slipped up and said "Chef B~"

No, I'm not being pretentious making them use my last name. When not called Scarecrow I am usually called by my last name, not my first. It's been that was for so long, a lot of people are surprised when they hear my first name. Chef is called just Chef or Chef S [his first name] and I'm Chef B~. Wannabe chef has to call me Chef B~.

And yes, I give the kid hell. Last night one of the salads he was making used this very white shoe peg corn.

Shoe peg corn, you say? Yes I say. I have a lower front tooth that won't stay mounted to its post. Narrow removable tooth. Narrow white corn. Can I resist? No. I walked by. Sneezed. Oops. Where's my tooth?! Find my tooth. You have to go through every single bit of that corn to be certain my tooth is not in there. Check those salads! Somehow I made it his fault too for not protecting his station better. Chef said he'd get me a ride home when I was ready to leave if I'd put my tooth back in and go over and bitch out Twit for not having found my tooth yet. I did, and when Twit noticed it I completely denied my tooth was there. "Where the @#$^ do you get off questioning me? I think I should know whether or not I have all my teeth in my mouth and can you even see this far up? Ah, but you're so damn cute when riled up. Fiesty even! Rowr!" People who work with me spend a lot of time laughing.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Getting Opinions

I am not one for writing advice. By that I mean all those self-help styled writing tips. Yeah, I know, on my twitter account I do follow two people who offer that sort of stuff, but I don't actually read it. There's a story behind why I follow them. I'll tell it some other time. I rather prefer things like my friend Bayley's twitwall where she asks questions such as where do you find your inspiration and why do choose first or third person. That's interesting. I like to hear why other people do something rather than being told why I should do something in a certain way,

Anyway, what was I saying?

Oh right, getting advice.

I write the character Brame for two different stories on PanHistoria - FLESH which is about zombies and 666 West End Avenue which takes place in present day New York in a creepy apartment building. I had written a post for Brame I was unhappy with and asked my friend Wyatt to read it for me.

There were several problems with it and talking to Wyatt helped bring them to light. Overall the post was fine. Standing on its own, no problem really, but you'd have to see the big picture to understand the problems with it. First, it revealed too much about the building. That was one reason I wanted him to okay it. He's aware of the story line in there and when you're writing in a collaborative novel you have to be concious of the overall story arc. Don't push too soon and I also thought this was giving away too much too soon.

Second the post was too clear. Brame is a confused little mess. Sometimes he is quite lucid, but this post was too lucid. Too clear. It practically sparkled with clarity. It lacked his confusion and his quirkiness. I think part of this was due to I wrote this too soon after writing a post for FLESH-Brame. That Brame has very distinct multiple personalities. 666 Brame has more of a fractured personality. He's erratic, not fully in control of his emotions whereas FLESH-Brame has a personality that when it surfaces everything becomes very clear and precise and focused. I wrote this piece too soon after writing that Brame.

And yes, that was a problem because this post in question was a filler post.

What is a filler post? A filler post is when you write a post just to be writing one and have something to put up. Maybe you haven't written in awhile, maybe a writing partner is pushing you to get something up in response to her post, or maybe you just like to see your character's name on the boards. Whatever, it's a post that doesn't progress your plot, doesn't really serve a purpose. It's just filler.

This post was filler that I tried to make serve a purpose and failed at.

Brame just happens. He's great that way. He pops up, knocks on my skull and says "I want to do this. Now let me out." So I let him out.

What happened was Brame had plans for 666, but I had just put up a post in FLESH where he was about to go out and let the zombies have him. In 666 his next post he appeared quite suicidal also and I thought, hmmm, don't want him going all suicidal in two posts. Looks like I couldn't come up with anything better for him to do. Even though originally these posts were planned very far apart, circumstances have led them to actually go up relatively close together. So I decided I would just write another post in between for 666.

Bad idea. I end up telling more than I want to tell and not writing true to this character. Plus I realize this scene would not really get me to where Brame wanted to be in the first place.

And I got all this just from asking my friend Wyatt to read over my post and give me his opinion.

Some people write completely alone without ever getting to know other writers. They don't want opinions or criticism. They're afraid of construction criticism. They only want the praise. I want both. I probably won't trust your praise without the criticism. And if all you do is criticize my writing and never say one good word about it, I'm probably going to start doubting your word too. Unless of course I'm just that bad.

Find yourself a writers community or even just one person who can be a little objective once in awhile. Praise is great, but you really need that person you can bounce ideas off of or turn to and say "what the hell is wrong with this?" who will honestly tell you what the hell is wrong with it. Plus sometimes it's when you hand that piece over to another person that you start to see from another angle.

It's like a friend told me about painting. He said there's a little trick to do when you're painting and need another angle on it. Put it in front of a mirror and look at it or even reflected in two if you need to see it without being reversed. It gives a new perspective.

Get opinions on your writing. Get a new perspective.

Here are some links mentioned in this post:
Me on Twitter
PanHistoria : check out the new Writers Muses area for daily writing prompts.
Bayley's TwitWall
Wyatt on Blogger
666 West End Avenue*
*To read FLESH or 666 West End Avenue you can sign in as a guest. It's easy. To use the guest login, sign in with pseudonym: guest and password: pan and on the next screen re-enter the password pan. You can sign in from the front page at PanHistoria.com or use the login link you'll find just below the upper left banner on most all of the pages at Pan. PanHistoria is free, by the way. So don't think I'm trying to sell you something. It's free to use. Free to read. Free to write on there too. You get three characters with your free acount and can delete and remake them all you want. I'm such a shill for the site, I love it that much. I should do a whole post just on Pan.

Friday, January 2, 2009

A Story From A Friend #1

I figured I should start numbering these. I'll have more.

I left out the name of famous dude so I wouldn't be name-dropping on the friend's behalf. I've seen the photo of her and famous musician guy so I know it's for real.

A bunch of us were outside in the cold drizzling rain smoking because what's a little cold drizzling rain when you're slowly installing cancer, right, and Madame kind of laughed to herself. We pestered her until she told us what amused her.

She said for no apparent reason a Halloween night about 18 years ago had popped into her head. She was in a little corner tavern, the type of dive friends hang out in, shoot pool, make plans about where they'll go later in the evening for the real party, just sitting at the bar having a drink waiting on everybody else. It being Halloween, and she's all about Halloween, she was wearing a long white dress from the late sixties or early seventies with embroidered flowers and sleeves that were skintight to her elbows then flared out, and a wreath of flowers in her hair.

The man at the bar next to her struck up a conversation by asking her about a cut on her face if a man did it to her. Bought her a drink. They kept talking. She said he had this great voice and this great battered leather jacket.

They smoked and drank and watched the other people in the bar and critiqued costumes. Then he said to her. "You're beautiful, whatever you are."

She said to him. "You're an amazing XX." [XX being his actual name. She just thought he looked and sounded remarkably like the rocking singer-songwriter and was way into his costume.]

He replied. "I am XX." He was in town playing a couple shows or something.

Now here is where your average person would probably lose their cool upon realizing they'd been sitting around with a pretty famous person shooting the sh!t. Not, Madame. She just raised one of those already arched eyebrows at him and said. "Excuse me.You're just amazing, XX." And reminded him the next round was on her.

After telling us this she finished her cigarette, smushed it out, and picked up the butt to throw it away later. Then she kinda scrunched up her nose on one side in this cute way she has and said, "Ten years ago, I wouldn't have to explain to anybody who XX is." Then she walked back in singing one of his songs and those who didn't know who he was until then were all "No effing way! She met him?"

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Since it's a new year I've decided to read something new. I've started Turnskin at PanHistoria. It's a story about werewolves, mainly in New York City. I know several of the writers in there and they're all very good writers.

One great thing about Pan is that it being collaborative fiction if a novel really interests you, and you're a writer, you can join it. If you're a writer or interested in writing [or have been roleplaying at some place like yahoo groups and want something a little more sophisticated] and aren't familiar with story play or collaborative fiction please visit PanHistoria or my friend Wyatt's blog to learn a little more about it. I would try to explain it simply, but I tend to ramble. It's people who enjoy writing getting together to create stories. It's a friendly place, and you don't have to write with other people if you don't want too. There are places to write your own story alone, or you can join a novel and write individually. [My character Brame in 666 West End Avenue rarely interacts with other characters.]

So what was I saying about Turnskin? Oh yeah, it's about werewolves. It's into its second chapter and things just started picking up again so I'm going to have to settle down and do some reading quick before they race ahead of me. It's modern day. I enjoy reading things on Pan as opposed to just a novel for several reasons. The first is that I won't have to wait a year for the next installment. If I have to wait a year that means unless it's by Terry Pratchett or Simon R Green I've probably forgotten all about it and won't ever read that series again most likely. I can just wait until the next writer puts up their post. And also because there are so many different writers contributing to each story, it doesn't get dull. Yeah, some of them are better writers than others, but each of them have a story to tell and so what if some of them have a better style. One person might like this style better than me. So there's something for everyone.

I'll report back in on whether or not I'm still liking Turnskin as I get more into it.