GLASS HOUSE a novella

Five years ago I found myself doing what I usually do: working on a new story. GLASS HOUSE was shaping up to be a new novel length story. I was a few chapters in when the windows of my own world shattered. 

My brother called and told me my father passed away unexpectedly. I went back home to Norwalk, Connecticut and did all the things one does during such events. 

His loss was my losing my first and most important audience. It’s always been his voice in my head when I’ve finished projects and found myself looking for feedback. He was critical. He made me work hard. When he liked something? I knew I was more than likely good to go. 

I returned to GLASS HOUSE and so the story did what stories do … it told itself. The novel became a novella. I found myself typing ‘the end’ much sooner than expected. I knew it was right. I knew it was done. 

It split my beta reading group down the middle. I wasn’t sure what I had. I still don’t. It doesn’t fit neatly into the horror genre, where I’m primarily known. It doesn’t fit into any one thing. It’s spiritual. It’s metaphysical. It’s horror. It’s funny and bittersweet. It’s searching for answers. 

I’ve debated sending it out for consideration to publishers but was always weary. I didn’t want to change it. I didn’t want it scrutinised as a product. Pretentious as it sounds, I want and need GLASS HOUSE to stand as it was made. 

By the way? Some in my beta group believed it was autobiographical to a fault. It is not. Like all of my work, I employ some elements of life experiences, but they’re not necessarily the ones anyone would expect. Mostly, I did my best to exorcise and capture the strange floating feeling of grief and maybe offer a little hope of a life lived beyond, one not better, but different and changed and ever moving forward. 

I felt the five year anniversary of my Dad’s loss is a good time to release GLASS HOUSE in his honor and memory. Sometimes it feels like just a moment ago. Sometimes? A lifetime.

Thanks for reading.

Jp 

GLASS HOUSE 

A housesitting job at the Glass House unlocks lost memories and forgotten regrets.

The house was see through, and so became the things that dwelled inside . . . This is not a dark ride.

Come to a place where the dead are still alive.

Told through poetry, lyrics and prose, GLASS HOUSE is an expressive and experimental exploration of grief and memory from author John Palisano, Bram Stoker Award winning author of GHOST HEART, NERVES and DUST OF THE DEAD as well as numerous short stories. 

https://amzn.to/3w5ApIY

Crystal Lake author interview for “Perrollo’s Ladder”

Tales from the Lake Vol. 1
Here’s a short interview with me over at the Crystal Lake site. Here I’m talking about the genesis of “Perrollo’s Ladder”, the story that appears in TALES FROM THE LAKE, VOLUME ONE. Hope y’all dig it! This is a great collection of short fiction, and am honored to be included. Volume Two promises to be just as great, and there’s a writing competition, so all you writers, juice up those pens and processors!

http://www.crystallakepub.com/blog/tales-from-the-lake-vol-1-author-interview-john-palisano

 

Meet the Nominees

This is pretty neat. A short interview with me about getting nominated for the Bram Stoker Award for short fiction this year. And it’s true: I learned I’d made it to the final ballot when folks congratulated me on Facebook. Neat-O! Now? Back to work!

http://horror.org/?p=6305

Know a Nominee, Part Three: John Palisano

Welcome to our third entry in “Know a Nominee,” the blog series that puts you inside the minds of this year’s Bram Stoker Awards nominees. Today’s interviewee is John Palisano, who’s nominated in the category of Superior Achievement in Short Fiction for his story, “The Geminis” (Chiral Mad 2, Written Backwards).

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DM: Can you please describe the genesis for the idea that eventually became the work for which you’ve been nominated? In the case of a work wherein you’ve written multiple stories (like a collection) please choose your favorite part and discuss.

JP: “The Geminis” is an exorcism. A dream ruined my day. How could it not? In it, my insides were outside. Looking up toward the sky, the huge Hollywood hills around me, a mysterious, organic dark sphere hovered a few feet overhead, its string-like fingers connected and dipped deep inside my opened chest. My essence draining, the sphere’s scent overpowered me. It smelled like every good thing. Freshly cut grass. A fireplace. A baby’s cheek. A fantastic trap, and with a deadly, paralyzing payload. I felt no pain, but I heard music. A beautiful melody, with missing notes. I knew what notes to play, to complete it, but could not. Had I not spoken my true love to the pianist, we’d complete the melody. The spheres would be pacified, as would the worse things slumbering inside the hills, waking as the blood spilled, because there were others. As I looked around, spheres drained people up and down the hilly road. Every person I’d known would soon be dead. That’d only be the beginning. Then the pianist stopped and the hillside became eerily quiet.

When I woke, I decided I’d have to save the world from these hidden things. So I wrote “The Geminis” to get rid of that disturbing fever dream playing over and over in my head.

DM: What was the most challenging part of bringing your idea to fruition? The most rewarding aspect of the process?

JP: It was difficult to get the music of the writing just right. I did a pass where I tried to put a cadence to the words in places that would reflect that they were playing complementary sounds. It’s very subtle, but it’s there. May sound uber pretentious, however, it was just me having fun with it.

It’s rewarding when people read something you’ve written. Some asked me if the characters were based on me and someone I may have unrequitedly been in love with. I use moments from life to color characters, but this is make believe. It’s not a diary or a documentary, it’s a story. A parable. An idea.

As far as being in love, and it being unrequited? Countless times. I’m sure that’s more common than not. Who doesn’t fall in love a dozen times a month? You see some beautiful person, by chance, and you daydream and wonder, what would it be like? Could that be better? Worse? Forgettable? Magical? In a blink, we’re off into our lives again.

Addressing that moment, but sticking two people in that feeling, and making it happen endlessly, and that if they acted upon it, even knowing they’re destined, it’d be catastrophic, was me being a complete terrorist to them!

Fun fact: Lia’s name comes from Legato, shortened to Lea, then Lia because it looked pretty. Legato is a musical term that means notes are played together, smoothly, seamlessly.

DM: What do you think good horror/dark fiction should achieve? How do you feel the work for which you’ve been nominated work fits into that ideal?

JP: Great horror fiction needs to leave scars. It needs to spin the world a few degrees on its axis. It needs to make something inside you hurt, or feel, or get turned on by things you’re not supposed to get all hot and bothered by. When you’re done, it’s got to stay with you. Some of the best horror fiction does its best work long after you read it, when you’re still afraid of the dead coming back to life, or of being stoned after pulling a number, or of that little flash in the video right before the picture starts.

DM: I’m curious about your writing and/or editing process. Is there a certain setting or set of circumstances that help to move things along? Where do you often find yourself getting stuck, and why?

JP: Most my writing begins as longhand. I’d say it’s text, but I do draw primitive pictures. Sometimes I’ll draw a horrific dream image just so I can remember it later when life isn’t getting in the way of my addiction.

I write everywhere these days. Very little though, is at a traditional desk. Someone else’s chaos is not my chaos at home, so I can tune it out. I love airplanes, but have to pretend there’s no internet. Too distracted.

When I hit walls, I move. Go to a coffee shop. Another room. That usually works. The hardest part for me is if I’m writing a scene and it gets mapped out too thoroughly or quickly I lose interest. It’s not organic and feels false to me. So I try to not get bored if I already know the story.

DM: As you probably know, many of our readers are writers themselves. What is the most valuable piece of advice you can share with someone who may be struggling to make their way in this life?

JP: Remember what brought you: your love for story, and for getting that fix through words. It’s easy to get caught up and into the con/party loop, but just remember: the work needs to be the best it can be.

DM: What are you most looking forward to at this year’s Bram Stoker Awards/WHC (if you are attending)? If not attending, what do you think is the significance of recognitions like the Bram Stoker Awards?

JP: Just seeing so many dear friends will be reason enough. Also looking forward to the inevitable whipped cream pie fight at the end of the ceremony, because everyone who’d lost, wins, and those who win lose!

It’s been an honor, privilege, and a few good natured laughs, too.

About John Palisano

John Palisano’s short stories have appeared in anthologies from PS Publishing, Terror Tales, Lovecraft eZine, Horror Library, Bizarro Pulp, Written Backwards, Dark Continents, Darkscribe, DarkFuse, Dark House, and, likely, one or two more ‘Dark’ places in there. Hard to say. They’re all so . . . dark. His novel Nerves was put out by Bad Moon Books and promptly placed in the “What the hell category is this?” section of Amazon. John writes all the time, but does his best not to look at the word counter until it’s absolutely necessary, less he have a flashback of glimpsing the abyss, like he did during a mandatory high school Calculus class. Google it. It happens. While you’re hunched over your phone, look up John on Facebook, because no one really goes to author’s websites anymore, do they? He’ll be the one who isn’t posting his daily word count, but you will find out how long it took him to walk the [expletive deleted] dogs.

“Available Light” makes Final Ballot for the 2012 Bram Stoker Awards®

"Available Light" illustration by Nick Gucker

“Available Light” illustration by Nick Gucker

“Available Light” makes Final Ballot for the 2012 Bram Stoker Awards®

This news is beyond delightful. Being recognized by my peers working in horror fiction, non-fiction, screenplay and poetry, is a major honor. Much gratitude to Mike Davis and Aaron J. French at the Lovecraft eZine for taking in the story, as well as the Jury and members of the HWA who thought enough of the story to give it the nod.

The thing that fell from the sky
Also returned
Also went back.

“Available Light” by John Palisano can be read at the Lovecraft eZine online:

http://lovecraftzine.com/issues/2012-2/issue-12-march-2012/available-light-by-john-palisano/

There’s also an audio interpretation by Bruce L. Piddy, free to download.

Lovecraft eZine editor Michael Davis is making it free to voting members, in Kindle (mobi) and Nook (epub) formats. You can e-mail him at: michaeldaviswriter@gmail.com

The issue also includes another Stoker Preliminary Ballot work: Nicole Cushing’s “A Catechism for Aspiring Amnesiacs”. Nicole is a great writer, and I urge you to check out her work, and the stories of the other fantastic purveyors of the weird.

Much gratitude goes to those who have read, and who will read, “Available Light”, as well as so many other fantastic works this year. Thank you.

Here is the full ballot. Congratulations on all my fellow nominees.

The Horror Writers Association (HWA) is pleased to announce the Final Ballot for the 2012 Bram Stoker Awards®. The HWA (see http://www.horror.org ) is the premiere writers organization in the horror and dark fiction genre, with nearly 1000 members. We have presented the Bram Stoker Awards in various categories since 1987 (see http://www.horror.org/stokers.htm ).

The HWA Board and the Bram Stoker Awards Committee congratulate all these Bram Stoker Award Nominees.

Notes about the voting process appear after the ballot listing.

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN A NOVEL

Ethridge, Benjamin Kane – Bottled Abyss (Redrum Horror)
Everson, John – NightWhere (Samhain Publishing)
Kiernan, Caitlin R. – The Drowning Girl (Roc)
Little, Bentley – The Haunted (Signet)
McKinney, Joe – Inheritance (Evil Jester Press)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN A FIRST NOVEL

Boccacino, Michael – Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling (William Morrow)
Coates, Deborah – Wide Open (Tor Books)
Day, Charles – The Legend of the Pumpkin Thief (Noble YA Publishers LLC)
Dudar, Peter – A Requiem for Dead Flies (Nightscape Press)
Gropp, Richard – Bad Glass (Ballantine/Del Rey)
Soares, L.L. – Life Rage (Nightscape Press)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN A YOUNG ADULT NOVEL

Bray, Libba – The Diviners (Little Brown)
Lyga, Barry – I Hunt Killers (Little Brown)
Maberry, Jonathan – Flesh & Bone (Simon & Schuster)
McCarty, Michael – I Kissed A Ghoul (Noble Romance Publishing)
Stiefvater, Maggie – The Raven Boys (Scholastic Press)
Strand, Jeff – A Bad Day for Voodoo (Sourcebooks)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN A GRAPHIC NOVEL

Bunn, Cullen – The Sixth Gun Volume 3: Bound (Oni Press)
Moore, Terry – Rachel Rising Vol. 1: The Shadow of Death (Abstract Studio)
Thornton, Ravi – The Tale of Brin and Bent and Minno Marylebone (Jonathan Cape)
Wacks, Peter J., and Guy Anthony De Marco – Behind These Eyes (Villainous Press)
Wood, Rocky, and Lisa Morton – Witch Hunts: A Graphic History of the Burning Times (McFarland)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN LONG FICTION

Burke, Kealan Patrick – Thirty Miles South of Dry County (Delirium Books)
Ketchum, Jack, and Lucky McKee – I’m Not Sam (Sinister Grin Press)
McKinney, Joe, and Michael McCarty – Lost Girl of the Lake (Bad Moon Books)
O’Neill, Gene – The Blue Heron (Dark Regions Press)
Prentiss, Norman – The Fleshless Man (Delirium Books)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN SHORT FICTION

Boston, Bruce – Surrounded by the Mutant Rain Forest (Daily Science Fiction)
McKinney, Joe – Bury My Heart at Marvin Gardens (Best of Dark Moon Digest, Dark Moon Books)
Ochse, Weston – Righteous (Psychos, Black Dog and Leventhall Publication)
Palisano, John – Available Light (Lovecraft eZine, March 2012)
Snyder, Lucy – Magdala Amygdala (Dark Faith: Invocations, Apex Book Company)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN SCREENPLAY

Goldman, Jane – The Woman in Black (Cross Creek Pictures)
Kim, Sang Kyu – The Walking Dead, “Killer Within” (AMC TV)
Minear, Tim – American Horror Story: Asylum, “Dark Cousin” (Brad Falchuk Teley-Vision, Ryan Murphy Productions)
Ross, Gary, Suzanne Collins, and Billy Ray – The Hunger Games (Lionsgate, Color Force)
Whedon, Joss, and Drew Goddard – The Cabin in the Woods (Mutant Enemy Productions, Lionsgate)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN ANTHOLOGY

Castle, Mort, and Sam Weller – Shadow Show (HarperCollins)
Guignard, Eric J. – Dark Tales of Lost Civilizations (Dark Moon Books)
Miller, Eric – Hell Comes to Hollywood (Big Time Books)
Scioneaux, Mark C., R.J. Cavender, and Robert S. Wilson – Horror for Good: A Charitable Anthology (Cutting Block Press)
Swanson, Stan – Slices of Flesh (Dark Moon Books)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN FICTION COLLECTION

Carroll, Jonathan – Woman Who Married a Cloud: Collected Stories (Subterranean Press)
Castle, Mort – New Moon on the Water (Dark Regions)
Hand, Elizabeth – Errantry: Strange Stories (Small Beer Press)
Hirshberg, Glen – The Janus Tree (Subterranean Press)
Oates, Joyce Carol – Black Dahlia and White Rose: Stories (Ecco)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN NON-FICTION

Collings, Michael – Writing Darkness (CreateSpace)
Klinger, Les – The Annotated Sandman, Volume 1 (Vertigo)
Morton, Lisa – Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween (Reaktion Books)
Paffenroth, Kim, and John W. Morehead – The Undead and Theology (Pickwick Publications)
Phillips, Kendall R. – Dark Directions: Romero, Craven, Carpenter, and the Modern Horror Film (Southern Illinois University Press)

SUPERIOR ACHIEVEMENT IN POETRY

Addison, Linda, and Stephen M. Wilson – Dark Duet (NECON eBooks)
Boston, Bruce, and Gary William Crawford – Notes from the Shadow City (Dark Regions Press)
Collings, Michael – A Verse to Horrors (Amazon Digital Services)
Simon, Marge – Vampires, Zombies & Wanton Souls (Elektrik Milk Bath Press)
Turzillo, Mary A. – Lovers & Killers (Dark Regions)

NOTE: In two categories there are six nominees because two works tied for fifth place.

Our voting members will now vote on this Final Ballot, with voting closing on March 31 (only Active and Lifetime Members are eligible to vote).

13 & 1/2 Things You Didn’t Know About Jeremy C. Shipp

Here’s a little fun thing Jeremy C. Shipp has given to us. Instead of the usual Q & A interview, we’re trying something a little bit different here. Enjoy. And be sure to check out Jeremy’s writing. It’s a lot of fun.

 

Jeremy Shipp photo

 

13 & 1/2 Things You Didn’t Know About Jeremy C. Shipp

 

1. Everything I know about the past and future I learned from the Flintstones and the Jetsons.

 

2. My shoe size is 9.5. My elf shoe size is 12 twinkles. But in truth I don’t often wear shoes. I’m like a Hobbit, only my feet are hairier and I’m less likely to go on adventures.

 

3. The “C” in Jeremy C. Shipp stands for one of these words: Curmudgeon, Calvin, Christopher, Cacodaemon, Crispy, Cookie, Cullen, Crabapple, Chubasco.

 

4. I live in a semi-haunted Victorian farmhouse full of lazy ghosts who won’t even help me with the dishes.

 

5. None of my toes have much of a personality, except for the middle toe on my right foot. His name is Roy. He speaks in riddles and he sings like the toe of an angel.

 

6. My first memory is the memory of a nightmare about a monster.

 

7. The clowns in my attic look a lot like me, but I don’t know why.

 

8. When I was in 4th grade, I wrote my first short story. The tale is about UFOs and aliens and a planet called “Bad,” where good things go bad and bad things get worse. I have visited this planet on a few occasions, and let me tell you, it’s not much fun.

 

9. I believe in unicorns, but they don’t believe in me.

 

10. In my opinion, the meaning of life is to get so wrapped up in living that you don’t care about the meaning anymore. Oh, and the meaning of life is also French fries.

 

11. I love talking dogs, but not the racist ones.

 

12. Years ago, I found a parrot on the street and nursed him back to health. As soon as he regained his strength, he laughed like a mad clown and knocked over his food dish. Then he flew behind me and bit the back of my neck, again and again. I don’t blame him. The back of my neck is a jerk.

 

13. I am, in fact, a giant yard gnome. I have lived so long among humans, I often forget that I’m not one of you. More often than not, I eat human French fries and I wear human T-shirts. However, on the gnomic holidays, I wear the traditional pointy red cap with pride.

 

13.5. You’re not going to believe this, but in my spare time, I like to wrap myself in–

 

http://www.jeremycshipp.com

Free stories: http://jeremycshipp.wordpress.com/free-stories/

Books: http://www.amazon.com/Jeremy-C.-Shipp/e/B002BM34KS

Welcome to ‘Dungeon Brain’

Today I’m interviewing author Benjamin Kane Ethridge about his new book DUNGEON BRAIN. To me, it’s one of his wildest books to date, and this coming from the person who won a Bram Stoker award for his fantastic first novel BLACK & ORANGE. Please, if you enjoy this, click on the links below and grab some of Ben’s stellar works.

1. What was the first story you remember reading? Does it still influence you today? 

I remember “The Marvelous Land of Oz,” which included different hero characters than “The Wizard of Oz” and it always intrigued me how I didn’t mind at all—considering how much I loved the characters from the first novel. I was blown away, barring some returning characters like the Scarecrow and Tin Man, by how these new characters, the boy Tip and the evil witch Mombi, could be put in a sequel and the story still wasn’t a let-down. Even at a young age I had certain expectations of my return trip to Oz and it was amazing to me that I didn’t need to meet those expectations to be thoroughly entertained and consumed with the story. Of course, I was probably alone in this because Frank Baum brought Dorothy back into the mix for the next four books and in subsequent books down the road. I was influenced by all these tales though, but particularly “The Marvelous Land of Oz” because I gained awareness that some stories didn’t have to follow the same rules every time.

2. If the world ends tomorrow, would you be happy? Why? 

No. I have more stories to tell, but more importantly, my children have their lives ahead of them. I’d like to witness those lives unfold. Now, have I lived a good life? Definitely. But there’s still too much growing left to do. Happiness upon imminent death will need to occur at another time!

3. You’re walking with friends along a street in broad daylight. Everything is just perfect, until you see a group of kids ganging up on another one and beating him. What would you do? 

I’d call the police. I’ve broken up fights before and that’s a bad position to be in; the peacekeeper is normally the person who gets his or her ass kicked the most. I recall being soundly punched by both the bully and the victim while intervening in a fight that broke out in a high school classroom. So yeah, I’d get the cops involved. That’s their speciality.

4. Is it true that everything a person does in life has to center around the sexual impulse and procreation? 

Yes. The buried, panting animal of my subconscious hopes someone reading this interview is thinking, “Oh, I’ve just got to mate with this guy!”

5. Are you opposed to eating dog or cat meat? It is common in other cultures. Does the thought revolt you? 

If I was part of those other cultures, it wouldn’t bother me I’m sure. Otherwise, I couldn’t bring myself to eat Fido or Fluffy. Weird thing is, I wouldn’t be grossed out if someone else did it right in front of me. Meat is meat is meat. I just have too many memories of my pets that would prevent me from enjoying those two species without some measure of remorse.

6. ‘Dungeon Brain’ is quite an intriguing, twisted story. Can you enlighten us about its creation?

I woke up one morning with Metallica’s song ONE in my head. I had black and white images of war still in my memory from a dream I couldn’t quite recall. I began to jot down notes about what I believed the dream could have been about. That’s where DUNGEON BRAIN manifested from.

7. What is your writing area like? Details, please. Desk with a computer? What kind of computer? What programs do you use? Do you write by hand? A certain time of day? 

Writing area. Beware! These parts are cluttered and dusty. Since I’ve become a novelist, I’ve been horrible at keeping anything in order. Just above my keyboard, in the general desk area: various pens, pencils, flash drives, a never-used candle, a shot-glass, post-it notes, business cards, cough drops, paper clips, a few wrist watches with dead batteries, some Oral B Satin dental floss (in the container, I’m not that dirty), Altoids, and a series of USB cables I can’t part with yet. I also have a writer’s lamp with a green glass shade and a fake gold stand; stylish beyond reason, I know. At the level of my eyes sits a Sony Vaio All-In-One computer, with a Windows Vista 64-bit OS, and Microsoft Word my devil of choice. It does everything I need it to do. My only complaint is I have no idea how I would go about modifying my computer like I used to with my tower desktops. However, I’ve been happy with the performance so hopefully no mods will ever be required. On the act itself: I seldom write by hand, but I enjoy it when the occasion strikes me. I usually write very early or very late at night, and I almost always write on my lunch breaks at work.

 8. You’ve just received an unlimited check. What’s the first thing you do? 

Buy all media (radio, tv, internet, movies, newspapers, etc). I would refuse to let political functions advertise anything misleading. And since I’d have some power now, I’d say that any lies circulated for the express purpose of gaining an elected position would be cause for everlasting dismissal from the political process. I’m sick of people buying into lies without investigating the facts. It’s depressing and dangerous and as long as money is involved, it is permanent.

 9. One of the biggest fans of your work happens to knock on your door. Do you answer? What happens next? 

Sure I would answer and I would have that person start up a fan club. Hopefully they are a go-getter and can spread the good word. This is all after I stop weeping on his/her shoulder, of course.

 10. What can we look forward to you in the near future? 

NIGHTMARE BALLAD, the beginning of a trilogy from Journal Stone books. Should be arriving in February 2013. And later in the year, next Halloween in fact, will be my latest Black & Orange book, entitled NOMADS.

11. Where can we find Ben online/offline/upline/downline?

Thank you for these unique and entertaining questions John. I appreciate you having me! Below are some sites where you can check out my work online. Offline, you’d have to live in Rancho Cucamonga and have a very loud voice. Upline, my info is printed on the hook in the fish’s mouth. Downline, the fisherman has all my details tattooed on his hands, which was a silly impulsive thing he did because he thought it would get him laid. That, and trying to catch the biggest fish in the lake, all in the name of increasing his odds at procreation. What a spaz.

www.bkethridge.com

Amazon author site: www.amazon.com/author/benjaminethridge

Twitter: @bkethridge

When life takes us to the edge

Image

When life takes us to the edge we are capable of drastic behavior. Over the past two years my struggle post-divorce has been experienced by so many of my close friends. Darkness unlike any before took over my spirit and survival seemed impossible. Looking over the edge, life seemed hopeless. There was no way to get through.

Luckily several things came together to dredge me from my own sorrow. The constant weight of sadness lifted and revealed a new, pink, raw flesh underneath. It is only now that the True John has re-emerged. Life has never been fantastic as it is now.

Darkness follows, its evil grin mocking you.

Over the past few months, since my recovery, this darkness has done its best to remind me, “I”m still here, buddy, whenever you’re through with your feel good, Happy Dappy Dance!”

Yesterday a person important to my development took his own life. There were so many great lessons he taught, mostly by example. Be good to people around you. Live life to the fullest. The Industry does not have to be lived in a mean-spirited, soulless way. We can be good. We can work hard to make film transcend and become art. We can inspire. We can spread ideas. We can use our positions to do more than just make profit.

As details emerge, his actions are understandable. It’s still a terrible tragedy, and my thoughts, love and blessings go out to his large and wonderful family. He touched me, ever so briefly, and it’s my intention to carry on the philosophies and choices.

So today, in his spirit, we rode to the local produce market and stocked up. Making a simple homemade guacamole, and squeezing a lime over it, many thoughts and memories played inside me. This is life. We are blessed with our wonderful foods, with our memories, with our actions and experiences. At the end of the story, it’s how not only how one lives, but also, how one decides to exit. Our time is short on this rock. And like ‘Bill & Ted’ said, and I paraphrase: let’s be excellent to each other, and let’s be excellent to ourselves.

Down the shore everything’s all right…

Living less than an hour from Malibu is amazing. The last few weekends have been spent taking in the surf and sand. The waves are giant, living up to their reputation made by generations of surfers. Playing in them with Leo has been amazing, and quite an amazing work out for both of us. Even with tons of sunblock, a couple of sunburns were inevitable.

Growing up in the coastal town of Norwalk, Connecticut, the ocean makes me very comfortable and feels very much like home. We had a great beach and a gorgeous marina. If Leo weren’t out here a move back would be inevitable.

For now, though, my sites are set on living in a beach town over the next few years. My brain needs equalization. The ocean gives that to me, in spades. It’s also where my best thinking comes out. Yesterday there were so many realizations and so many great ideas. When looking out toward the endless ocean, it feels like anything is possible, and my little wants and desires seems so simple in comparison to this massive entity.

This is a big narrowing down of what is important in life for me. This began with the expulsion of most of my material objects. It’s no longer comfortable for me to own many things. At this point, I find myself most comfortable with simplicity and lots of clean lines. Trim the fat.

As an artist and creative person, this is life. I once worked for a filmmaker who insisted the best creative people are messy and disorganized. Maybe that works for some people, but not for me. My head works best when there’s not a lot around me; when things are simple and clean. Only then can I truly get lost in what I’m working on.

We were treated when nearby fisherman caught a sting ray, and later, a leopard shark. They were thrown back, but not before many of us got to check them out. Leo’s eyes were as wide as they get. He wasn’t even scared to go back in the water, even though I secretly was.

The dogs, though, weren’t too keen about the water, which was surprising. I thought for sure they’d love cooling off at the dog beach. One never knows.

The day prior, for those following, my friend Reese stepped up in a big way. He texted me about my brakes for my Jeep, and offered his help. I love Reese, and it was a good chance to hang out and catch up. We were both shocked when the parts were a quarter the price of what the local shop quoted me. And they were better parts, too. So we met outside Mike’s house, who, bless his heart, offered us his driveway without even knowing we were coming. (I owe Mike more than I can ever repay).

Okay, so Reese did most of the work, and it was amazing watching him work. I learned a ton in the hour it took. Mostly, that it takes a very special mind to work on cars. Growing up and working at my uncle and grandfather’s auto body shop, Frankie’s Service, I can really appreciate that type of mind. I was not blessed with such. Instead, my head fills with stories and melodies.

Reese explained to me doing a tune-up would be pretty easy. We’re going to do that shortly.

The brakes worked wonderfully, and driving with Leo, Fawn and the dogs Henry and Coda, it felt so good to have the Beast up and running soundly once again. Nice having a big, safe family car to get us all to the beach. And man, don’t I love that first view once you crest the hill and you see the Pacific for the first time. Never fails to take my breath away. “Can you believe we live here?” asked Fawn. No. I can’t. I feel like the luckiest guy in the world. Because it’s not about your balance, or what you own, but about the memories and experiences you give and receive. These moments are better than money. How wonderful that one of the best things in the world to experience is free?

Dreams

For years one of my dreams was to have my very own Jeep. Imagining myself riding in such a vehicle was so exciting. Soon after the divorce my $400 car died and a new vehicle was needed. Me and Mike shopped for used Jeeps and we rode all over Los Angeles looking at different options. Most were garbage, as my budget was really low. We eventually stumbled across one that seemed like a great fit. “Learn how to fix cars,” Mike said. How dire was his warning? Since owning my Cherokee, it feels like every month there is another bill.

One day the Jeep would not turn over. Since getting the Jeep, it often loses power and shuts off. That day it did not recover. I cannot recommend AAA enough, by the way. It took several calls to finally get the Mobile Mechanic to come and check it out. This might be an LA thing, as in all my years? Never heard of one. But there was this card that had been placed on my window once tucked into my glove compartment.

It took him and his helper three trips to the Jeep to figure out what was wrong. Some small part of the electrical system needed replacing. Boom. Jeep worked. $250 spent.

Fast forward a month later to a hot day on the 110 freeway. Riding back from the California Science Center with my son Leo, his dog Henry, and Fawn, the car became extremely hot. We made it all the way home to Lankershim Boulevard when, bam! White smoke straight out of a Bon Jovi video engulfed us. After pulling over safely, red fluid rained out from beneath the radiator onto the street. AAA came and towed us. Leo was excited because he got to watch it pulled onto a flatbead and he got to ride in the cab. Me? Not happy at all. Fawn and Henry stayed in the Jeep on the flatbed. Henry looked confused.

AAA recommended a shop, who were able to deduce the transmission cooling line had gone. Another $225 spent. But my Jeep worked. Honestly? Not feeling as good to drive anymore…felt like burning money.

That was last week, and last night? Griiiiind. Teear. Griiiind.

The brakes are shot and need replacing.

So with all this money being burned up, if I’m paying an average of $250 a month in repairs, and $120 in gas, why not take on a car payment for a new car? One that will be reliable, better on gas, have air conditioning, easier to park? Why not, indeed.

Because it was my dream to have this truck. During my marriage, my opinion was the least important. Things always had to be done for practical reasons. But those days are gone, and my decisions are my own. My dream came true. Too bad it’s turned into a nightmare. Or a daymare.

And now I’m daydreaming again.

A white Prius sure sounds nice.