NVDT #78 – But Before All This Happened, I Was Like, Nefertiri, You Know, In Like a Previous Life

PART OF OPEN LINK BLOG HOP

Prompt – What’s your best technique for working around backstory dumps?

Well, flashbacks, dialogue, direct narration, recollection, summary, and exposition. Not in that order.  And it really doesn’t matter. A cliché photo gaze isn’t a gagathon if it’s handled with finesse, the way Helen Simonson does, or woven into the character’s behaviors like Jennifer Egan. Finesse.

However – I waited a day for this one on purpose.

In John Dufresne’s wonderful book The Lie That Tells a Truth he writes about starting in the present of the story. Right now. Not when it started, because scene setting is also backstory, but right now, where the action is. Example –  

Susie and Jill ground to halt in the gravel parking lot. Susie killed the lights on her Wrangler. Jill shuddered, Susie lit a cigarette. “This might not have been the best idea,” Jill said. … oops… Who the fuck cares? Needlepoint meeting? It was a dark and stormy night? What’s the point?

Okay –

“Bitch!” A half empty beer bottle smashed into the chipped linoleum table-top, inches from Susie’s hand. Jill screamed. The jukebox continued to throb out a loud, melancholy country ballad while the man who’d broken the bottle waved the jagged glass hanging from the bottle’s neck in Susie’s face.

Okay, two sentences in and now we have a story. And AFTER the action, here’s the drop.

The cop wore his boredom like it was part of his uniform, as if a woman shooting a man inside Cap’n Ben’s early on Thursday night was business as usual. He licked the end of his pencil, set the tip on a blank page in his open notepad. “Now then, ‘zactly the hell were you ladies doin’ out here again?”

“I had a bad feeling about this when we pulled in,” Jill whimpered.

“Shut up, Jill.” Susie squared up to the cop. “Look. It so happens Jimmy Du-pree run off with Jill’s Amex and a sixteen-year-old from the Coutershine swim team. We been out lookin’ for ‘em. Somebody told us he was trollin’ hereabouts for some oxy to maybe help make her panties fall off.”

“That’d be the swim girl’s panties, not your friend there?”

“Who the hell do you think?”

“Mmm,” the cop scribbled on the pad. “So… you two didn’t call us, you just had to come out an find Jimmy yourselves? This was when, again?”

“Eight, eight-fifteen. We, me an Jill, we was set up at a table. He seen us before we seen him an he knew why we was there, so he walked up, broke a Modelo Dark bottle on the table, made a helluva fuckin’ mess that did, got beer all over both of us. An then him knowin’ I was the one was to give him some shit he stuck the broke end of the damn bottle in my face.” She pushed her palm right up on her face for emphasis.

“An you shot him for that, didja?”

“Goddam right I did.”

“Well, good for you,” the cop chuckled quietly. “He ain’t gonna die on account of it, anyways. Maybe he’ll come away smart enough to at least leave teenage peach be.” He folded his notebook, stuffed it back in his shirt pocket.

“An maybe smart enough to stop stealin’ credit cards from a friend of a woman carries a Glock in her purse.”

“Honey,” the cop looked Susie in the eye, “now you know better’n that. Man’s a pussy an trouble magnet, has been his whole life. Your friend here’s not Jimmy’s first, won’t be his last.” He spit tobacco on the gravel, hitched up his equipment belt, laughing silently again. “That is, lessen that swim girl’s momma gets a holta him ‘fore he’s full on mo-bile.”

The point – anything before the event is extraneous. We know all we need to know about both characters without pages of build up (backstory) and Jill crying at Susie’s kitchen table about Jimmy the perv lothario and us ‘splainin’ everything. As readers we know all that, don’t we? From their behavior and the cop interview, which is part of the action, not a sidebar, or a preface or a flashback.

Flannery O’Connor said: “If you start with a real personality, a real character, then something is bound to happen; and you don’t have to know before you begin. In fact, it may be better if you don’t know what before you begin. You ought to be able to discover something from your stories.” By extension, readers don’t need all of it, either. Start some shit, drop it in gear, get on down the road.

FYI – Storyform is a made up word from Dramatica and has been adopted as trendspeak. They make up a lot of shit over at Dramatica for people who have never studied rhetoric or the classic canons of argument and want to write topical, trendy argument disguised as fiction or sermon specific non-fiction. The difference between backstory and background is purely semantic as they are interchangeable synonyms in major dictionaries.

From the OED  

backstory – noun: backstory; plural noun: backstories; noun: back-story; plural noun: back-stories

a history or background, especially one created for a fictional character in a motion picture or television program.

“a brief prologue detailing our hero’s backstory”

a literary device providing a history or background context, especially for a character or situation in a literary work, film, or dramatic series.

Last two – Backstory the noun was first seen in use in 1982. Prior to that ‘backstory’ was discussed by the various devices used for recollection and dramatic revelation in literature going back to Aristotle’s Poetics. Which is a great read. There’s also some great stuff on Writer’s Digest.

The Big Chief Tablet version is here –https://www.nownovel.com/blog/how-to-write-a-killer-backstory/

Curious what other hoppers use? Check it out here

NVDT #77 – Make It Easy On Yourself

PART OF OPEN LINK BLOG HOP

Prompt- What software do you use for your writing? Bookkeeping? Artwork? Calendar?

Scrivener. Quicken. For Digital Graphics Paint Shop Pro (and half a dozen Ashampoo specialty). Outlook.

Scrivener because it works. Where else will you get a novel, screenplay or academic document scene by scene with scene/chapter drag-and-drop capability? No, Leroy gets shot here, and Matilda breaks up with him here. Shit. Matilda needs to become Gretchen. BAM. Global change. I had someone inform me I used the Grave Accent throughout a novel for the French name of a major character, when I should have used the Acute Accent. Morisé, you say? Fixed with two clicks and saved to the dictionary. With folders for graphics, characters, timelines, research – everything is in one environment. I even have folders for scenes and lines I liked, but cut. Because they might be useful somewhere, in something and they sure as hell aren’t coming back from the trash. Except in Scrivener which holds your trash till you dump it, which should be never until you paste it out into a random-scenes-and-shit doc.

There are hundreds of how-to videos for Scrivener. Spend 10 minutes and you can learn to export your book, formatted, with linked TOC, in any format you might need from ePub to PDF to DOCX to the “specific” Apple/Google/Kindle/Nook flavor of the month.

An entire novel, by scene, plus resources visual on the left. I could get rid of them for uncluttered work space, use the corkboard or the notes or the timeline. It also keeps a running word count if you need to hit markers.

Disclaimer. I am not a shill for Scrivener, but I am a huge fan. I was a product specialist for high end audio software(s) and my advice was always buy something stable that will work the way you do. The best software will take into account various presentations and workflows and make automatic the things that should be. Regardless of whether you like post-it notes or XL lists or index cards, or a graphic representation of your work, pick your visual and get after it in Scrivener. I still sketch in Word or whatever is at hand but dump it into Scriv if it’s going to end up over three pages or one scene. And it is cross-platform, including iOS.

***

Quicken talks to my bank, sorts reports by expense type, by vendor, by whatever. I have been a 1099 guy most of my adult life. You only have to get audited once to know that great notes are your biggest asset. “Well, hell. You aren’t even close to fraud. You just forgot to pay us enough.”

***

Paint Shop Pro because I started with them way back in the dark ages. Their new product is stellar and a hell of a lot less expensive than the other option. Plus, you get to own it, not rent it. It runs PS plugs. It has a Bob Ross brush set. What more do you want? I rarely create in the digital realm, but I scan and touch up and alter. I should mention I am primarily a pen and ink / black and white person when it comes to rolling my own. Somehow there’s more to Ansel Adams than most of the fade wash water time exposure HD photography I see. I want wallpaper I’ll let Fire TV go random.

***

Outlook because I’ve used it so long, I don’t know any better. And there’s no two-step BS between it and Windows or Apple either on desktop or iOS. No cloud BS. I plug my phone in, update my contacts and every device I use knows about it. Back it up once in while. Done.

Curious what other hoppers use? Check it out here

NVDT Totally Random – Uh-Oh


Couple of weeks ago I picked up some inexpensive paperbacks at Half Price Books big headquarters store. I purchased the books as study in the shorter version “three acts” so prominently hawked by all the “how to write (insert genre)” people. One of the books was John D. MacDonald’s The Dreadful Lemon Sky, written in 1974, which killed two birds with one stone. It’s MacDonald storytelling, and being MacDonald the backdrop is a perfect rendering of the cultural era. A timeframe and the years following that I worked in my first return-to-writing project.

None of that was important. It’s called “the setup.” I could have gone directly to the point and filled all that in or left it.

No, this is not a discussion of style.

I opened The Dreadful Lemon Sky in the porcelain upholstered library. I read a few more pages at my desk. Last night I wanted to read more, but was too lazy to retrieve the physical copy of the book. Also, too lazy to two-step an epub into my Kindle. I found the book on my OneDrive and hit “open in another app” on the not-aging-so-gracefully iPad. Worked like a charm.

However. (Cue Twilight Zone theme)

I tapped the book to open it. BAM. It opened.

Not on the credits, publisher, the chapter list or dedication page.

It opened exactly where I left the physical copy open, face down on a shelf in the “library.”

Like the man said when the paint shaker machine shut off. “How do it know?”

I sure as hell don’t know. But I was kinda “all shook up.”

FYI – If you’d like some intellectual writing discussion and advice Google Rod Serling. Find his interview/class discussions with some college kids where he addresses topics and writing issues generally only available from expensive editors. Not only that, he talks the workarounds. From “art” to where ideas come from to soapboxes and unavoidable though unknown plagiarism to how none of us invented the wheel.

NVDT #76 – Who’s Running This Show, Anyway?

PART OF OPEN LINK BLOG HOP

Prompt- Who’s the boss, you or the story?

The story. I always say the story tells itself. Stories come from the same place as music and all other art. All I need to do is get out of the way and listen.

This is not an original concept. Michelangelo said that his job was to get the statue out of the block of marble. Beethoven, Mozart  — they heard it on the way to the staff paper. Paul McCartney openly admits that he doesn’t work at writing songs because he learned long ago that when he tried, nothing happened. I believe that. Here’s an observation to put that in perspective. Pop songs are an art form because good ones are better novels than most of us write. How many people have over 200 solid stories in a songbook? That are no more than 3.5 minutes long? Yes, little gems hacked from the giant blocks of often pointless words many of us deem necessary.

Here’s the rub.

Most of us aren’t Michelangelo or Beethoven, but even they had to work at it. The issue, as described by many artists, comes at the — everybody listen up — transcription stage, which is generally rough because we’re in the loop. Some of us forget that once the story is out doesn’t mean it’s done. Even if the story is the boss, we need to reserve the right to say to the piece, like Mike probably did, “Hey, Pieta. Nice to see you out of that block of marble. Let’s shine you up.”

The story talks to us. Shows itself to us. Our job is to let the story do its job. We need to stay as invisible as possible and put our “author” to bed and our skills to work in order to do them justice.

Here’s a bit from Elmore Leonard where a character of his explains how the story is the boss, There’s a great video where EL explains the cleaning up.

“What he does, he makes us do all the work, the people in the books. Puts us in scenes and says go ahead and do something. No, first he thinks up names. Takes forever to think up names like Bob and Jack. Jackie for a woman, a female lead. Or Frank. Years ago anyone named Frank in one of his books was a bad guy. So then he used Frank as the name of a good guy one time and this Frank wouldn’t talk, refused to come out and become the kind of person Elmore wanted. So he changed his name to Jack after thinking of names for another few weeks, and it felt so good he couldn’t shut the guy up, I mean this Jack, not Elmore. So he names us and he says okay start talking. So that’s what we do. Sometimes if a character has trouble expressing himself he’s demoted. He’s given less to do in the book, or he might get shot. What can also happen if a minor or even a no-name character shows he can talk, he can shove his way into the story and get a more important part. So Elmore names us, gets us talking to each other, bumping heads or getting along okay and then I don’t know what happens to him, I think he takes off, leaves it up to us. There was a piece written about him one time in The Village Voice called ‘The Author Vanishes’ and it’s true.”

Elmore Leonard

NVDT #75 – How to Write Your Next SyFy in Two Minutes

Including unique devices, nomenclature and world building tools. Need a door lock that works off DNA? Opposed Tri-piston Electroinfluctance Genetakey.

Differential Girdlespring!

So what have you built lately? Leave them below.

NVDT #74 – Pipe Dreams

PART OF OPEN BOOK BLOG HOP

Prompt – What is one thing that you would like to learn?

Acoustic guitar. Lord knows I tried. Never could get my wrists to cooperate. Tried the Chapman stick back in the 80s but never took time to understand the geometry. Or rather transfer the geometry.

Someday I’d like to learn to write. For those of you who don’t follow along, here’s one for everyone

And someday, God knows it’s almost too late, I’ll learn to sit on my rapid, generally unwanted and unfiltered opinions for the mainstream. Last time was picture of me surrounded by professionals who know their shit and speak their minds and appreciate a straight shot. I never learned that the rest of the world doesn’t care. For those of you who don’t follow along, here’s one for everyone in this circle – https://philh52.wordpress.com/2020/12/18/nvdt-73-bullshit-headtime-backstory-and-other-dialogue-killers/

“Look, son, Imma tell ya somethin’ ’bout breakin’ an settin’ your own horse an keepin’ your mouth shut that’s gonna make your life a whole lot easier. See, most folks, they’d rather have 15 nags in the barn than a real horse.”

“Why’s that?”

“I reckon ’cause it’s a sight easier to wrangle a dude ranch than be a real fuckin’ cowboy.”

What would others like to learn?

PART OF OPEN BOOK BLOG HOP

NVDT #73 – Bullshit, Headtime, Backstory and Other Dialogue Killers

The Lost Art

I have been cursed of late with reading books and even short blogs full of bullshit and backstory clogging up dialogue. Right now I’m 20% through a book where nothing has happened but a bone being found in a swamp. Twenty effing percent. And the convo? It’s constantly interrupted with protagonist’s head time observations, judgements, head time backstory drops. In between lines of dialogue is not the place for that shit. Dialogue is a tool for that, as we’ll see, but anyone who writes? Do me a favor and get the hell out of the character’s heads and let them talk. They might just drop it for you. You can get back to that junk if want afterward but stop interrupting them.

FYI – neither is the mirror an excuse for a head time backstory drop. Not everyone has a psychological backstory drop moment in the mirror. Where’d that physical/emotional scar come from? Who cares? You could drop it when you need to in a single line. What if a character stood in front of a mirror and shaved or popped a zit?

In the instance of what I’m reading instead of the whole mirror thing we could have had, much earlier on for the sake of the character, this exchange – I borrow a paraphrased line from the most recent offender –

“The short hair is understandable, but right now you look like Brittany Spears in her breakdown period. (What’s your problem with the wig?) I added that. Look what we get.

“It makes me look like my mother.”

“And?”

“I’m not… perfect. She wanted a perfect daughter. I see myself in the wig and there she is, on my ass about not being girly enough and following my father into the CIA. Happy?”

“Not ‘till you put the wig back on, G.I. Jane. You’re a supposed to be an ex-beauty queen librarian, not who you really are.” (Wow, no stereotype in the beauty queen librarian. As original as ex-boxer private eyes.)

Now we could continue the cutesy convo with extended pauses between lines filled with head scans, as the author does ad nauseum, but I’m out of Rolaids. Those three lines just saved us a head scan when the character should be hurrying out a door 20% of the way through the damn book. If I was the character I’d appreciate readers knowing more about me besides my prejudices against small towns and my CIA assassin fuck ups by then.

Rather than harp on how not to introduce backstory in between dialogue with author inserted narrative to make sure we get it, whatever ‘it’ is, please take a moment of your time to read a master who, in dialogue and a couple of lines of narrative, tells us effortlessly what we need to know. (Yes, that was an adverb). Written 87 years ago. 1200 words, three pages paperback. Nothing missing, a couple of adverb tags (but hey, this was 1933) and yet we know who everyone is with no bullshit. Yes, I consulted the 4 laws of fair use of copyrighted material and passed the test.

1

I was leaning against the bar in a speakeasy on Fifty-second Street, waiting for Nora to finish her Christmas shopping, when a girl got up from the table where she had been sitting with three other people and came over to me. She was small and blonde, and whether you looked at her face or at her body in powder-blue sports clothes, the result was satisfactory. “Aren’t you Nick Charles?” she asked.

I said: “Yes.”

She held out her hand. “I’m Dorothy Wynant. You don’t remember me, but you ought to remember my father, Clyde Wynant. You—”

“Sure,” I said, “and I remember you now, but you were only a kid of eleven or twelve then, weren’t you?”

“Yes, that was eight years ago. Listen: remember those stories you told me? Were they true?”

“Probably not. How is your father?”

She laughed. “I was going to ask you. Mamma divorced him, you know, and we never hear from him—except when he gets in the newspapers now and then with some of his carryings on. Don’t you ever see him?”

My glass was empty. I asked her what she would have to drink, she said Scotch and soda. I ordered two of them and said: “No, I’ve been living in San Francisco.”

She said slowly: “I’d like to see him. Mamma would raise hell if she found it out, but I’d like to see him.”

“Well?”

“He’s not where we used to live, on Riverside Drive, and he’s not in the phone book or city directory.”

“Try his lawyer,” I suggested.

Her face brightened. “Who is he?”

“It used to be a fellow named Mac-something-or-other—Macaulay, that’s it, Herbert Macaulay. He was in the Singer Building.”

“Lend me a nickel,” she said, and went out to the telephone. She came back smiling. “I found him. He’s just round the corner on Fifth Avenue.”

“Your father?”

“The lawyer. He says my father’s out of town. I’m going round to see him.” She raised her glass to me. “Family reunions. Look, why don’t—”

Asta jumped up and punched me in the belly with her front feet. Nora, at the other end of the leash, said: “She’s had a swell afternoon—knocked over a table of toys at Lord & Taylor’s, scared a fat woman silly by licking her leg in Saks’s, and’s been patted by three policemen.”

I made introductions. “My wife, Dorothy Wynant. Her father was once a client of mine, when she was only so high. A good guy, but screwy.”

“I was fascinated by him,” Dorothy said, meaning me, “a real live detective, and used to follow him around making him tell me about his experiences. He told me awful lies, but I believed every word.”

I said: “You look tired, Nora.”

“I am. Let’s sit down.”

Dorothy Wynant said she had to go back to her table. She shook hands with Nora; we must drop in for cocktails, they were living at the Courtland, her mother’s name was Jorgensen now. We would be glad to and she must come see us some time, we were at the Normandie and would be in New York for another week or two. Dorothy patted the dog’s head and left us.

We found a table. Nora said: “She’s pretty.”

“If you like them like that.”

She grinned at me. “You got types?”

“Only you, darling—lanky brunettes with wicked jaws.”

“And how about the red-head you wandered off with at the Quinns’ last night?”

“That’s silly,” I said. “She just wanted to show me some French etchings.”

2

The next day Herbert Macaulay telephoned me. “Hello, I didn’t know you were back in town till Dorothy Wynant told me. How about lunch?”

“What time is it?”

“Half past eleven. Did I wake you up?”

“Yes,” I said, “but that’s all right. Suppose you come up here for lunch: I’ve got a hangover and don’t feel like running around much…. O.K., say one o’clock.” I had a drink with Nora, who was going out to have her hair washed, then another after a shower, and was feeling better by the time the telephone rang again. A female voice asked: “Is Mr. Macaulay there?”

“Not yet.”

“Sorry to trouble you, but would you mind asking him to call his office as soon as he gets there? It’s important.” I promised to do that.

Macaulay arrived about ten minutes later. He was a big curly-haired, rosy-cheeked, rather good-looking chap of about my age—forty-one—though he looked younger. He was supposed to be a pretty good lawyer. I had worked on several jobs for him when I was living in New York and we had always got along nicely. Now we shook hands and patted each other’s backs, and he asked me how the world was treating me, and I said, “Fine,” and asked him and he said, “Fine,” and I told him to call his office.

He came away from the telephone frowning. “Wynant’s back in town,” he said, “and wants me to meet him.”

I turned around with the drinks I had poured. “Well, the lunch can—”

“Let him wait,” he said, and took one of the glasses from me.

“Still as screwy as ever?”

“That’s no joke,” Macaulay said solemnly. “You heard they had him in a sanatorium for nearly a year back in ’29?”

“No.”

He nodded. He sat down, put his glass on a table beside his chair, and leaned towards me a little. “What’s Mimi up to, Charles?”

“Mimi? Oh, the wife—the ex-wife. I don’t know. Does she have to be up to something?”

“She usually is,” he said dryly, and then very slowly, “and I thought you’d know.”

So that was it. I said: “Listen, Mac, I haven’t been a detective for six years, since 1927.” He stared at me. “On the level,” I assured him, “a year after I got married, my wife’s father died and left her a lumber mill and a narrow-gauge railroad and some other things and I quit the Agency to look after them. Anyway I wouldn’t be working for Mimi Wynant, or Jorgensen, or whatever her name is—she never liked me and I never liked her.”

“Oh, I didn’t think you—” Macaulay broke off with a vague gesture and picked up his glass. When he took it away from his mouth, he said: “I was just wondering. Here Mimi phones me three days ago—Tuesday—trying to find Wynant; then yesterday Dorothy phones, saying you told her to, and comes around, and—I thought you were still sleuthing, so I was wondering what it was all about.”

“Didn’t they tell you?”

“Sure—they wanted to see him for old times’ sake. That means a lot.”

“You lawyers are a suspicious crew,” I said. “Maybe they did—that and money. But what’s the fuss about? Is he in hiding?”

Macaulay shrugged. “You know as much about it as I do. I haven’t seen him since October.” He drank again. “How long are you going to be in town?”

“Till after New Year’s,” I told him and went to the telephone to ask room service for menus.

Excerpted from Dashiell Hammett’s The Thin Man. Copyright 1933, 1934 by Alfred A, Knopf, Inc. Renewed 1961, 1962 by Dashiell Hammett

NVDT #72 – “Alleged”

PART OF OPEN BOOK BLOG HOP

Prompt – We usually interview our good guys and gals when we do character interviews. How about we do an interview with our favorite bad guy?

“Today we’re speaking with Elizabeth Vernier, Esq, J.D. Executive partner in the law firm of Vernier, Leduc and Delome of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Good afternoon, Ms. Vernier.”

“Is it afternoon?”

“Well, yes.”

“You know that how?”

“I had lunch before I arrived.”

“I see.” (glances at wall clock, 11:47) “Anecdotal then, not empirical.” (desk phone rings). “Excuse me.” (picks up phone). “Katrine? I specifically requested you hold … He did what? Shit. Where? Tell me it wasn’t out of sta … Mississippi? Good. Bad? Why? … Not that fucking idiot. Bobby? What does that little shi…he have to do with… A hooker’s black book? That’s what this is about? No? What do you mean ‘sorta.’ It is or it isn’t… A whorehouse in a shrimp truck? Never mind. Call Chief Bastik at LBI, tell him to run the end sweep. Yes, dear, that’s all. End. Sweep.” (cradles desk phone) “Where were we?”

“I… I’m not sure. I ate lunch, and started the interview, the phone rang…”

“Let’s see if I can help.” (Pulls sheet from stack of paper) “You want to know why I’m the bad guy in the Bobby B series. I’ll tell you why. I don’t want my lovely, brilliant niece to have anything more to do with that little swamp rat. A fact that per se does not equate to ‘bad person’.”

“It’s also been said that you are a political manipulator.”

“Manipulator is a strong word with nasty connotations. Football Quarterbacks, by nature of their job, are manipulators. Do we call them that? No, we call them ball handlers and field generals and game managers. I am no different. I run Senator Guillome’s office like a quarterback.”

“By that you mean?”

“I call the plays, handle the balls, squeeze them if need be, and manage the parties involved for a DPO.”

“DPO?”

“Desired Productive Outcome. Did you go to school?”

“Yes ma’am. Arkansas.”

“That explains a great deal.”

“It does?”

“If the toothbrush had been invented anywhere but Arkansas it would have been called a ‘teeth’ brush. Next question?”

“What is your DPO in this current, uh,” (motions to phone) “situation.”

“None of your business.”

“Okay… Back to Bobby B. He seems likable enough. He’s brought jobs and a small boat building industry to Houma. His restaurant chain seems to be a hit, the car show’s ratings are up. It’s hard to find anyone with anything bad to say about him.”

“The people with nothing bad to say have their hands out and are riding the lucky little shi… Bobby’s coattails. However, I see him as a direct impediment to my niece becoming the bride, and along with me the brains of a new political dynasty in Louisiana. From where I sit, we would all be better off if Mr. B were dead.”

“Haven’t you tried that on several occasions?”

“Are you suggesting­—”

“Of course not. But ‘they’ didn’t succeed?”

“Failures and disappointments only strengthen one’s resolve.”

“Like Bobby? His mother left when he was twelve, his father was killed on an offshore rig —”

“I am fully aware of Mr. B’s history. If his mother had emancipated herself from Houma when she should have the little shi… Bobby would never have been born.”

“Something that would have saved you a lot of trouble?”

“It certainly — ” (picks up vibrating cell phone, turns chair 180 degrees) “What… Bastik, cut the shit. All I care about is the Senator. I don’t give a damn about a pair of fucking… They did what? Tell me they weren’t yours… Fuck! Tell the ambulance to drive slow, maybe stop for lunch. Text me.” (spins back to face interviewer who is looking at cell phone) “What are you doing?”

“Reading. Two renegade State Troopers and an LBI agent with automatic weapons just shot up a shrimp delivery truck on I-59 at the Mississippi border. At the same time ‘unknowns’ blew up a Mississippi Trooper cruiser with a home-made rocket launcher.”

“Where did that occur?”

“The cruiser was parked in front of a rest stop on I-20 outside Vicksburg where they’d reportedly pulled over a Louisiana State Senator for going a hundred and twenty to avoid arrest. Seems he had a nearly naked sixteen-year-old girl in the car with him that he’d run off with from, um… Lauderdale County.”

“‘Allegedly’ run off with and ‘Reportedly’ stopped. Is there dash cam video to support their claim?”

“Went up with the cruiser is what they’re saying. The Senator beat it when the cruiser blew.”

“‘Alleged Senator.’ The unknowns?”

“No plates on a green pickup.” (flips through phone screens) “Found it burning just across the river on Louisiana 3218.”

“So it never happened. The Shrimp truck?”

“Belongs to ‘Pink Tails – Louisiana’s Finest.’ Full of frozen shrimp. No cash onboard, no apparent reason to shoot it up.” (checks phone again) “Hey! That’s a Bobby B company!”

(Liz Vernier checks her cell phone, smiles) “So it is. Now they’re saying the troopers were impostors and aren’t expected to survive?”

“How’d you know?”

“It’s ‘You know that how’ and that’s my line. Thanks for stopping by,” (Liz stands, points past her desk through the facing Victorian love seats) “The elevators are that way. Y’all have a nice day.”

PART OF OPEN BOOK BLOG HOP

NVDT Totally Random – Ancient Aliens, or…

In 1938 archeologists in China discovered hundreds of stone disks in caves in the Baian-Kara-Ula mountains. Each one measured 9 inches in diameter and were etched with tiny hieroglyphics that tell a story about aircraft from distant worlds crashing in the mountains. They say the disks are thousands of years old.

I have a feeling that’s all speculation.

Why?

They simply haven’t haven’t found the turntable yet.


 

NVDT #71 – The Arts, Editors and Tree Hugging

PART OF OPEN BOOK BLOG HOP

Prompt – If you had unlimited money to start and maintain a business, what would it be?

A much younger, clean cut twice-a-year sport coat wearing version of me, giving Herbie Hancock my autograph

I would find the guys who bought GEM’s digital hybrid modelling piano technology from the Italian bankruptcy court. Last I looked they were in Finland. I would buy them out. Then I would enlist a handful of my old artists (that are still alive) to once again create the best digital piano on the planet. Upgradeable via flash. Maybe even get Phillippe at Modartt/Pianoteq involved in a hardware hybrid.

I would hire a marketing team to expand the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz concepts to inner cities/community colleges with matching grants. Kids who are playing/learning music, regardless of style, aren’t doing something less productive. I’d expand this concept into an all-inclusive arts program that is not exclusionary like Arts Magnets schools. The program would also have a community outreach and service program so that those challenged mentally or physically would have a place for their inner ballerina, artist, musician, writer – Any pathway to constructive creative expressions is a highway of growth for the soul. Better foundations, better citizens, better people.

Last, but not least, I would hire an army of underemployed editors, pay them enough to work without an eye to marketing and making “friends”, make them available and affordable, if not completely free, to Indie writers. Editors who won’t blow smoke, coddle, hand out semi-colons and way-to-gos for starting and ending but will force line-item consideration, paragraph logic and consistency.

On that thought, for those of you who don’t bother with the other times I erupt post, but need to feed your inner self editor, here’s NVDT 70

And maybe a clean, small, high-quality restaurant on a coast somewhere that all I had to was fund to keep open, show up occasionally and eat. In the fog. Like Cape Fear in Duncans Mills, CA.

There should be something added about grants for animal rescue, certain tree hugging issues, alternative materials for sustainability, like bamboo and artificial cellular materials for furniture, musical instruments, housing etc. But that goes without saying. Some guy has already made solar panels from food waste that are more efficient than current natural resource depleting panels! Go, dude!

The Promega 3 in the header belonged to Keith Emerson. Photo courtesy of Julien’s Auctions.

Click the link below, see what others would do with this prompt!

PART OF OPEN BOOK BLOG HOP