Archive for December, 2010

Title says it all.

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Channeling George?

George Lucas said that when he was working on Star Wars he realized his original story was too big to fit in one movie, so he trimmed away what he could and sifted the story down to what became Star Wars (later renamed A New Hope). The rest he put into Empire and Jedi and those other three.

Back in 1996 I wrote a well-received space-based short story. From that came The Peacemakers which I could describe as a sponge of ideas that, in present form, are strung together into what could probably sell to the masses given some publicity. However, I want to do something better.

I returned to the story a couple of years ago and reworked the outline to replace the cardboard with real flesh and bones, resulting in a vastly improved story. Yet no matter how much I changed things around I couldn’t get past some serious contrivance problems. In order for the story to unfold I had to force certain events to happen, and that sucked. I much preferred the scenes where the characters started “doing their own thing” – they pulled the story as opposed to me pushing it.

To help me deal with the issue I began doing a lot of reading and, you know what? I discovered more often than not the story simply bull-dozed to the end leaving me a bit pissed off.

Now that I’ve finished another project, I’ve returned to The Peacemakers and have looked at it carefully to figure out what’s wrong. I kept coming to the same conclusion: too many things happening with too many people too quickly and conveniently; too many notes.

The solution? Cut it down to what I really need, something manageable. Save the rest for back-story or other books. Do what George did! Well, at least as far as breaking up the story into smaller parts. While I happen to like Jar Jar Binks to some degree, I cringe every time I hear “Roger, Roger”. The last thing I want anyone to say of my work is, “you can type this shit but you cannot say it.” I don’t care how much money’s involved. Well, that’s not true – I think if I got a pile of money for what was crap I’d try harder not to produce crap, at least that’s my hope.

Last night while watching “Feast III: The Happy Ending”, I pulled up The Peacemakers outline and started making changes. In just one evening I’ve ended up with three books not just defined but well defined. About a third of the current writing will be thrown out, while the other two thirds will be moved and augmented with new writing to complete the story I want to tell. Looking forward to it.

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Pizza prank


Reminds me of when my brother and I called in orders of pizza all over Anchorage back around ’75. I dunno how but the last guy we called called us back to confirm the order. Oh crap!

We were short about twenty bucks and ended up hiking from Spenard to downtown Anchorage through deep snowdrifts in freezing temperatures (uphill both ways, no doubt), loaded with a bunch of garage sale crap we hoped would be enough for the pizza guy. He laughed, told us to get lost and slammed the door in our face. So we threw the junk on the sidewalk in front of his restaurant – no way were we going to haul it back with us.

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Christmas and kids

The other day I sat on the couch in the living room and read some notes I’d jotted down for my promotional video. I’d just put some presents under the tree when two of my kids came home, rushed past and dumped their back packs near the dining table. They went to the kitchen to get their snack when suddenly I heard the quick inhale of excitement. “Presents!” exclaimed my daughter soon followed by a gleeful squeal from my son. “Dad! Dad! Can we touch them?” he asked.

“Sure you can,” I replied. The sound of packages being rattled to oohs and ahs and what could this be and I bet I know what that is – gosh, I know what joy means now.

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According to Gavin Roy, who coined the term for me in Gloucester House, it defines being American because Americans always say “wow” and always eat hamburgers.

The irony is that I wasn’t American at the time; I was Irish.

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A bear! A BEAR!!!

My brother and I had gone down to Ship Creek to fish for salmon. Well, Roger went to fish – I more went to watch. Oh, sure, I brought my rod along ever hopeful that some of his skill would rub off on me, but I usually had more fun watching the master charm the fish onto the line than I did in trying. By the time the king salmon came along, Roger had already caught four modest silvers which I had on a stringer tied to an old stump overhanging a calm pool in the river.

“Son of a bitch!” Roger yelled, “took my Coho fly!” He grabbed my rod, also rigged with a Coho, ran off downstream and started casting across some shallows. That’s when I saw The Beast.

Almost all red from tail to snout and with fangs as big as my fingers, The Beast snarled its way past me not more than maybe five feet away as I ran to catch up to my big brother who nearly knocked me down giving chase. “Come on, Paul, get in there, head him off.”

I hesitated, wondering if The Beast would come out of the water and rip my feet off, but Roger’s yelling snapped me out of the thought. I threw a rock ahead of The Beast who reversed direction and headed back downstream. Roger cast his line and pulled hard just at the right moment. The Coho snagged right about the dorsal fin. The Beast lurched, opened his maw as if to laugh and easily broke the line before quickly disappearing into a deep pool in a bend of the river.

“Come on,” Roger yelled. “I’m not giving up that easily.” He raced to the bend. With both hands he lifted a boulder. “This should chase him out,” he said. I wasn’t so sure as the boulder made a thunderous splash and sent a geyser of water high into the air. “Help me!”

I picked up a smaller boulder and tossed it as best I could.

“Do you see it?”

No, I didn’t.

Roger heaved another boulder into the river, then another and another until he could lift no more. “I can’t believe it, man. Those were our only Cohos.” He walked back to where we’d left the rods, sat down and lit a cigarette. After a few drags he flicked the butt away, thumbed through the tackle box and pulled out a yellow spoon with black dots and no hook. He tied the spoon to the end of his line and started casting.

“What are you doing?” I asked.


I shrugged and went to check the four silvers on the stringer. Just as I put them back in the water, the bushes behind me started rustling and then waving like crazy. I froze in terror, barely able to squeeze out the word, “Bear!” with my squeaky voice prepubescent voice. “Bear!” I tried again, just as the bushes parted and out popped the bear. I forced my lungs full of air and let out a scream.

The bewildered bear, wearing a green nylon Fish and Game jacket, gray slacks with a black stripe, and a furry hat, yelled “Freeze!”

Informal anecdote – I make no apology for spelling/grammar/punctuation errors.

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Check out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZlP0eOJu_M

Will update that video and put up another in the near future.

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Rules and Regulations

“Number one – no smoking in the toilet. Number two – no smoking pot on the plane.”

Northwest flight attendant laying down the rules and regulations to my brother somewhere between Tokyo and Anchorage, 1980.

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Dad’s sense of humor

“Aramco may have banned Christmas decorations, but they said nothing about New Year’s.” John T. W. Nixon, Dhahran, December 1979 as he hung “New Year’s” lights in the window near the New Year’s tree.

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“We’ll hit them for contributing to the delinquency of a minor, that’s what.” Tom Parry, Pierrepont School, in response to what if the bouncers from the topless pub come looking for me for their money.

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