Archive for October, 2010

VIDEO – Madre

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Monólogo. El hijo adulto visita a la MADRE en coma.

Para ver la versión original de este monólogo con el mismo actor: Eduardo Aladro-Vico.

A monologue in Spanish. A grown son makes a bedside visit to his comatose mother. MADRE VIDEO LINK

To view the original English version of this monologue with the same actor: Eduardo Aladro-Vico.

STORY – A Depressed Person

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

We were having brunch at the Brussels Hilton one Sunday at a longish, noisy table with some people we knew—and some people we didn’t—when one man we did know, having finished his cake, smiled, leaned back and said, “I’ve been depressed recently.”

Everybody laughed.

“Look at him,” the woman to my right said in French. “He says he’s depressed with a big smile.”

“No, no, no, I assure you,” he answered. “I’ve been very depressed.”

His name was Daniel and he earned his living by buying and selling paintings of the 18th and 19th centuries Dutch and Flemish Masters and sub-masters. He had a small gallery on Avenue Louise, the big deal Brussels Avenue. He had recently decided to close it down because it took too much time. From the beginning of the year he was a going to work selectively: select paintings, select customers.

“I want to become less materialistic. I find it depressing to be busy with money, and phone calls, and contacts. No, I’m going to get rid of my big car and get a small car. It is all depressing.”

He did not look particularly depressed. His brown eyes gleamed, his ironic smile was quick to surface on his face, and he spoke with an easy earnestness that made his unsought confession of depression difficult to sympathize with.

I looked for the typical signs of depression we Westerners have refined: the ringed eyes, the slumped shoulders, the silence.

He was nearing forty, he was living with a pretty mother of three, none of whom were his children. He was having brunch with close friends at the Hilton on Sunday. He had spent his summer in Turkey and was planing to spend Christmas holidays in Naples, with other friends, and they knew a good place for water sports in February. And he was depressed.

I did silent writer’s musing at him. What was the nature and extent of this depression? Was it only the nagging doubts of material comforts? Affluent anguish? Mid-life? Perhaps he was in the process of rearranging his priorities and was sorrowful for lost time and wrong directions taken?

He was giving no details. I continued looking at him as he made a joke about something. People laughed. They liked laughing. It’s why they came to brunch with friends.

Depression. I knew about depression and I was interested in depression. Whenever people mentioned the magic word “DEPRESSION” in my hearing, I gravitated toward the emotional mess. Depression is often the meat and matter of much modern fiction. One needed conflict in stories, just as many people needed conflicts in life, and some, who had no material or personal conflicts, gave way to mental conflicts. Mental anguish as higher, spiritual needs remained unfed

Maybe he was feeling existential anguish. That self-made hell. Full bellies, painful heads. But I’d seen enough existential anguish claimed by people who simple wanted to be romantic and forlorn. They know the words, they had the terms (and the time); they put intellectual labels on emotional turmoil.

Many people, by naming their misery, hoped to tame it.

But Daniel didn’t name anything beyond using the word depressed. He chatted, allowing me to continue bringing out my handy mental file, supplying private suppositions, imaginary and real cases, cause and effects, but all that was nothing compared to the immediate real thing before me. What’s really with this guy? Depression’s a serious business. I looked across at him, wished he’d give more explanation, an expansion, about this depression that allowed him to smile so often.

Friends chatted; the conversation moved on; Daniel talked but I couldn’t hear what he was saying. I leaned toward him, trying to make out his French from the surrounding hubbub.

He was discussing Naples in December with his neighbor.

Quickie round-up

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

Usually, or rather, in the old days, meaning just before the summer, I had a nifty, satisfying schedule: Monday: audio — Wednesday: video — Friday: story/excerpt. That’s been blown out of the water since the summer.

Why? you may not ask.

Because I was perfecting the follow-up to all that, and lordy knows how long that takes.

I was perfecting my first issued book under my hidden people imprint, How to Find Yourself….”. Even though much care had been expended in its creation, planning and scheduling, the book had some formatting problems, mostly due to my giving the book to French speakers, and, in conjunction with my poor proof-reading skills, errors, oh horror, crept in. And declared themselves mightily only after the fact. I set about making sure that would not happen again. Switched interior layout designers, stuck in a greater number of review milestones. Now the book has been reformatted, errors removed, a more friendly font employed, the actual psysical book size made slightly smaller so it can boost creme rather than white paper, and ready to go!

I dislike perfecting the trade a bit as I go, and have any readers be dissatisfied, but that’s part of the this brave new world of Print on Demand and DYI. Anyway, this should never occur with future books.

Meanwhile, for a November launch, I’m busy formatting the illustrated version of the same How To book, which takes lots of to-ing and fro-ing between me and cartoonist. But it’ll be neat when done. Then many of these illustrations will find another life on t-shirts, cups and so on. Also for this November.

Brussegem, a snug hell, my next novel, is nearly there; have received the first proof copy in hand and voilà the interior layout formatting is not the way I like it. So I’ll push it again, re-do, and will roll it out as soon as I’m satisfied.

The Boy in the Sandwich, my kids’ book, is nearly done, as far as illustrations and interior layout go. This’ll also see the light of day, for ages 8 and up, next month.

And I’m getting ready to roll out audio books to these editions as well….

More stuff coming and coming more and more between now the end of the year.

Thanks for reading….

STORY – Museums and the sexual instinct

Saturday, October 16th, 2010

It never failed to happen—it always happened—he always went into a museum ready to be stimulated, amused, moved, awed by art—but inevitably, before he’d gotten twenty-six paintings or three rooms into an art museum, he’d start feeling sparky.

There was no fuller, better, harsher word for it. Slowly, subtly, before a picture any picture—didn’t matter which—his hands would begin sliding up and down the back of the woman he was with.

Before another dozen paintings were out of the way, he’d want to head her to some impossible secluded corner in the museum to grope.

It had happened before. And before. And before that. For years, every time. Once he’d dished up an explanation for it: “I think it’s because in museums there’s this sense of extinction. It’s all done, dead, hanging on the walls, inert, trying to be masterpieces. And I react to this by getting a certain base, jumpy, grabby horiness. I’m fighting the overwhelming sense of still life and eerie permanence by being invaded, overwhelmed by the possibilities of a woman’s flesh, alive, new, there.”

“Don’t,” she whispered, looking around, squirming out of his clutches.

He tried to take his mind off the matter by going to stand and look at another painting. He appreciated. The colors, the composition, the brush strokes … and then he’d glance sideways, and there’d be another woman. He’d stand back, as though appreciating the painting by giving it a fuller view, from a fine connoisseur’s distance. He’d study the woman instead. He’d study any woman. Face, eyes, hands, thighs, ankles and everything in between.

The museum was filled with wandering women. The pictures, the chef-d’oeuvres, the exhibit that had cost so much to get into—it all became incidental background compared to the alive and moving women.

Outside, escaped, the drums of sex would dim.

“What gets into you?” she asked.

He took in a chestful of outside air. “I don’t know,” he said, quieting. He breathed.

They began descending the cement steps.

Two women passed, ascending. His eyes followed. Followed.

Within, deep within, a muffled drum beat on.

STORY – Killing the Furniture

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

When people come knocking on my front door, the first thing I do is ignore them. I didn’t ask them to come.

If they insist by knock and knocking again, then I creep over to stand on the other side of the shut and locked door and wait a long second…then I knock on the door from my side.

Now I believe they stand there on the other side of the door no longer knowing whether they are knocking to come in, or I am knocking to get out.

So we stand there together on either side of the shut door, silent and thoughtful and hesitant, until, for some strange reason, they knock on my door, again. This time oh so lighter, gentler, with a certain healthy trepidation.

Since they are insisting, I unlock and rip open the door: “What do you want?”

“Hurry up. Say what you have to say. I’m busy killing my furniture.”
“You’re what…?”
“Give me a moment.”

I nearly close the door, enough so they can’t see. I grab a nearby chair and toss it across the room. It smacks against the opposite wall, cracks a leg, takes a chunk of plaster from the wall, then I open the door a bit. “What were you saying?”

“Did you just do what I think you did?”
“Oh crap. It’s started again. One sec.”

Once more I almost close the door. I reach for a nearby picture and Frisbee it down the hallway. “Die!” I yell after it.

I return to the door. “Make it snappy, there’s a lot of death I have to handle in here.”
“Maybe it would be better if I returned—”
“Watch out!” I shout and spin around and catch the blurred sight of the cactus in a vase that is hurtling itself toward me while my back was turned. I barely have time to jerk my head out of the way as some of its needles tear across my cheek. The cactus and its pot bust up against the rear of the door, falling to the floor and rolling around as though in pain. I kick it away. I touch my cheek and my fingertips come away with some bright blood that seconds ago was safe within my body traveling around, taking cells for their one minute trip all around my body. A telephone receiver smacks hard against my shin.

I go “Ouch!” before stomping my right heel hard into its mouthpiece, cracking it open.

It’s a tough business, killing your furniture, but I’ve learned, over time, it’s me or them.

I feel bits and pieces of costume jewelery pelting my back.
A throw rug tries to hug my ankles to trip me up.
Postcards people sent me and I forgot to throw away slice through the air and toward my neck.
My stereo’s loud speakers have mouths with teeth.
The tissue paper in the box comes out used with snot embedded around bits of blood and they float determinedly toward me like huge stained butterflies.
The pens on the desk are lined up and furious, their hard points out.

The guy’s still at the door. Why, I don’t know and care even less.
“Excuse me for being blunt, but how can I help you because I’m a little occupied in here.” I feel little nudges at my feet and look down. There’s three of my favorite CD music cases trying to bite me. Three quick heel ‘n’ twist movements in the middle of each jewel case takes care of them.

I look to see the guy’s now halfway down the path from my house, glancing over his shoulder as if there’s something wrong with me.

“Thanks for nothing!” I scream at his retreating back and I hear something heavy and turn around just in time to see the television set rolling straight for my crotch. I leap over it and it smacks against the side of the door with a little crunch sound and halts in pain.

Okay, okay, time for a little breather before battle is truly engaged. I glance toward the doorway to the kitchen and there’s the refrigerator and the washing machine already getting traction, preparing to have a go at me. I straighten, roll my head back and forth on my shoulders to snap my bones back in place, getting combat ready, because the next part of this was about to get real, real nasty.

Matches – White Night

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

Another in my series of stories & memories from a bag full of matches and match boxes I have collected over the years.

Put my hand in, feel around, pick one out. This time, it’s White Nights.

This is its story.