NaNoWriMo -National Novel Writing Month -an excerpt

bookcoverThe national novel writing month approaches. During this month, the challenge is to complete a 50,000 word novel starting on November 1, 2009 through November 30, 2009. The general daily goal is 1667 words a day. Although I am not suppose to start writing, I have submitted an excerpt for my NaNoWriMo home page which I am submitting here. I chose as the title, abandonner which is the French verb, to abandon. Chick Lit is my genre for NaNoWriMo. It is a topic of interest for me. The inner workings of the woman’s mind and her behavior in a natural setting is an avocation for me. I was the first grandson in a household full of women who pampered and spoiled me back in Korea. This was my Eden. Immigrating to America tore me away from this idyllic state, and the tables are now turned.

This coming month’s effort is dedicated to my deceased grandmother who, it is said, would terrorize the household, sending maids and daughter-in-laws out to the market in search of whatever rare, out of season, imported, or altogether-difficult-to-find fruit, viand, cake, dumpling or morsel that I demanded. I was that important at one time. So here you go, a rare and hopefully tasty tidbit of what is to come draining out of my head:

Parma, Ohio 1975

When I was six, a little Serbian girl fell in love with me. She had alabaster skin with black hair in pixie bangs, and I remember her green eyes staring at me. She always wore a brown knit sweater, a cardigan, that I later found out was made by her grandmother in Serbia. Sometimes she wore a black beret. I was doodling at my desk when she grabbed my hand and dragged me over to her desk. It was late fall and we were all working on Halloween drawings. She handed me a Valentine and kissed me on the cheek and ran away.

We became inseparable that year, the first grade couple of note. We were going to get married. We held hands and ate lunch together and played house with poignant accuracy. Hers was a Serbian household constructed of small wooden furniture and plastic. I mostly did what she told me to do. That Easter, she shared with me a rough bread with a kind of butter she called kajmak. The only time we fought was when I wanted to play ball with the other boys during recess. She would fume and watch with singleminded determination.

Summer came and we promised to see each other in the fall. I lied. She looked sad as we walked down to the school entrance and went opposite ways. She thought it was going to be a summer of separation as our parents did not socialize only to be reunited in the fall. I knew it would be goodbye forever as we were going to move away, but I was rendered mute. When I got home, I was whisked away to a family friend’s to stay the night as our furniture was packed. We left the next morning.

It would be nice to say that I think about her frequently, but that is not true. I hardly think about her at all. If I do, its mostly to wonder if she remembered me and thought about me, and how remarkably sad she must have been that following fall. I decided, in my first grade mind, to not dwell on such sad matters and move forward. If this sadness made me heavy with regret, it would be a rejection of it to let me be light again. But I do think about her, and it was thirty five years later that I met her again…

The Coda

the planOne of the greatest television shows ever created was Battlestar Galactica as reimagined by Ronald D. Moore.  The Mini-Series brought the core of the show, a story about a nuclear holocaust and the travails of the survivors, and brought it into the present with an examination of our culture at war without and within. It showed the best of humanity and its worst, and showed the Cylons to be far more complex than an army of Terminators. The whole show ended earlier this year with a very memorable and complex finale that capped an opus that stands up there with the best storytelling. So it was with a bit of trepidation that I downloaded and watched Battlestar Galactica: The Plan. Some people panned it as an editors’ cheap trick, a kind of über fan-film of the kind you watch and cringe at on Youtube.

I disagree. It filled several plot holes that never made sense in the original series, such as the appearance and disappearance of the Librarian Six, known as Shelley Godfrey. I enjoyed this because it fills these plot holes. But like the filler that is used to repair actual pot holes, the patch work is noticeable. The scenes visually jump around and older original footage runs into obviously freshly shot footage that tries very hard to look seemless but isn’t. They also left you with a final plot hole -the whereabouts of a dark haired 6.

That said, it is a fitting coda to a great series. They really should stop now. I only hope they don’t try to make a movie. There is a spinoff, a prequel, called Caprica that looks at the origins of Cylons, but it rates only about 6 out of 10 where the original miniseries was an 11.

Why the Yankees Must Win

IMG_0140It was 2001 and all the world was rooting for New York. The World Series was playing into November because of the start of the War at the End of the World that would define this decade. The whole team was still there -Joe Torre, Bernie, Paul, Tino, Luis, Scotty along with Andy, Jorge, Mariano, and Jeter. Characters were on that team -Knoblauch the head case, and Clemens the man who chucks lumber in anger because of ‘roid rage.

It was pretty much a done deal it seemed, a fitting tonic to soothe the wounds of a city in mourning. The loss to the tandem ace pairing of Schilling and Johnson was hard but in the scope of the events that had taken place only a few months before, it was unseemly to complain too much. Bully for the ‘Backs. Life will go on, no?

But we lost all those guys the subsequent year, and it was never the same again. From 2001 to the fall of 2008 when the Yankees didn’t even make the post season, it was very clear that no amount of money could buy back the chemistry of the early Torre years. 2004 seemed automatic but revealed the weakness of the Yankees flailing arms and the team seemed broken and grasping for a way out of the cave.

The core was always there, but they seemed apart from a team that was never equal to the sum of its parts. This year, it seems different. That threeway happy dance in the infield of A-Rod, Jeter, and Teixeira at the end of the ALCS is something different and not seen in a long time.

My belief is that the fate of the country, and even the world is tied to the health of New York City, that city of Babel that will prove or disprove humanity’s ability to get along. The Yankees are an important barometer of the city’s health. A Yankee team that is doing the happy dance in the inaugural year of the new stadium is nothing but good news for everyone, even Philadelphians.

I congratulate the Phillies on their pennant, but they must now do their patriotic duty and service to mankind by giving a good show, even win a game or two in Philadelphia, and bring the show back to New York for a final Yankee victory in game 6. It would be the only decent thing to do.

The iPhonist

As I have said, the iPhone brings out the creativity in individuals in ways that are unmatched by any other personal gadget. It has become the screen of choice. I have been playing with the iPhone app Brushes which let’s you create compelling artwork. David Hockney recently featured in the NYTimes now does much of his art on the iPhone. Several New Yorker covers have been created on iPhone by Jorge Columbo (link).

My latest piece was done in bed while watching the Yankees lose to the Angels. It’s my view to the right. More to come, but this device does not cease to amaze me and a tablet device will become de rigeur among creative people.

The Novelist

docparkThe golf season is over in Iowa. It may be nice this weekend, but flu from the swines have cut short any idea of swinging into a 35 degree wind chill day. Thus, I have decided to try my hand at novel writing. I came across a post about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, link here) which is a challenge to all the unpublished authors to write a 50,000 word novel in one month (or 1667 words a day).

Wow -a medical drama? Wry observations about golf? NO WAY. I asked myself, “What would make me the most money in the shortest amount of time and that means getting onto Oprah’s couch and rubbing my chin and looking serious?”

It means CHICK LIT, baby!

I’ve already set on the title of the novel: “The Abandonner: a Memoir of Regret.” If that doesn’t give you cramps and make you want chocolate, you aren’t a woman! Controversy? Undoubtedly! Best Seller? Dan Brown’s got nothing on me! Who is that masked man? The guy who rocks your Kindle, now come to Papa!

Idiocracy -the greatest movie created by Fox, and buried by it

SNC10668I just picked up Idiocracy from Amazon (link), finding this gem for all $4.99. It can be found on Youtube in bits and pieces. It is a brilliant indictment of our cultural decay. After it was made, it was released in only 7 cities and then conveniently buried. Rupert Murdoch, owner of the News Corporation, Fox, Fox News, 20th Century Fox, and much of the pro-Bush media likely had a hand in killing this movie which savages the corporate supported dumbassification of the land.

It can be interpreted as elitist, but elitist in the sense that smart people monopolize intelligence in an unfair way. The genius of this movie is that if you’re really stupid, you will laugh your ass off.

Nobelist Paul Krugman (they hand out those things to everyone these days) and NY Times columnist and Princeton Economics professor discusses the demise of American public education in his column today (link). Education was once celebrated. A generation ago, The Paper Chase was popular. Today, it’s variations on Jackass.

My Mighty Red Pens


If you accept this pen, it is an implicit endorsement of me.

The federal government cracked down on the allegedly briberous practice of pharmaceutical and medical device companies giving away pens and other swag (Plavix alarm clock anyone?) to physicians, nurses, office staff, and physician’s children. These rules were meant to avoid the impression that physician were endorsing these companies. I had always maintained that I could not be swayed by the giving of a pen, but if the government says so, so be it.

The problem is that now people are hoarding the logo pens. I have my private stash of Viagra pens that I’ll now keep like reliquary pre-embargo Cuban cigars. It was in a fit of libertarian pique that I decided to invert the relationship between Giver of Pens and Taker of Pens.

I decided to have my own pens manufactured, and have been giving them away at a torrid pace. There is no rule against my giving these pens to the drug and device sales reps -I tell them to drop them off wherever.