Click images for desktop size: I Am The Future" by J Beuys
I'm still messing around with ecto, my blog posting tool that has issues running under Leopard.
Mainly it messes up and I have to recreate the whole post by hand, which is time consuming and certainly robs any sense of creativity and spontaneity, as well as any sense of humor. Its not that big a deal. I just never want to be taken too seriously.
ecto (the small e is part of the name - I don't know why) is up to beta 11 here, which means its worth another shot.
We'll have to see, I guess.
I've been told that I'm supposed to post my football guesses on Sunday morning and not earlier, so that will become the new norm.
I've also been told that many of you enjoyed the odd synchronistic story about the Krantz's and movies.
I don't know what to make about that.
One thing I've been noticing is that I'm not reading as much as usual. I think that has to do with not taking the bus into work every day.
I used to like that part of it; iPod on, book or newspaper open, dark glasses on. I figure I looked either extremely cool or delightfully freaky. (We all kid ourselves one way or another.)
There's one series of books I read: The Destroyer. There's like 150 of them now.
They're an odd thing. Ultra-violent, sickeningly brutal, sometimes profound and usually immensely funny. Far funnier, to my mind, than any of the Terry Pratchett Disc World books.
They concern absurdist 'saving the world" plots and a strange permutation of martial arts: Sinanju.
What makes them funny and makes me enjoy them is characters that have been defined over 150 books. They were pretty funny at the out set.
There is Remo Williams, the Destroyer himself. He's a confused orphan who is the student of Chuin. It seems that as Remo gains more and more skills in Sinanju his IQ drops more and more.
Click images for desktop size: "Citrus Fruit" by Apple Inc
I suspect this reflects more the physical and mental state of the authors, but it makes it funny. Its a genuine dumbness, not cloddish or too heavy handed.
His teacher is a 100 year old Korean who is racist, intolerant, arrogant, narcissistic, obnoxious and lovable. He is intensely loyal to a personal creed and wondrously happy in life.
Its the interplay between them and the way the authors have to come up with new ways for them to display their super-human powers that creates the humor and keeps the books from being turgid examples of machismo yearning.
The book series spawned a movie, (Remo WIlliams: The Destroyer - starring an engaging Fred Ward and a confusing Joel Gray as the 100 year old Korean . . . ), at least 3 series of comic books, a TV pilot and well, this is where the story kicks in.
I discovered the Destroyer series in an odd way.
During my Black Days and Black Nights I couldn't stand to stay in the empty house. It caused me bleak depressing pain and was filled with my personal ghosts. It was sucking me into some place that people aren't supposed to go.
I rented a condo on the Wilshire Miracle Mile. It was okay, I guess. It had a gorgeous view and allowed my dog to live there.
My dog and eye wandered around and found plenty of parks. Our favorite place was the Beverly Hills Golf Club after dark. It got ruined for me when my dog caught and killed a rabbit. It shows my state of mind that I got angry with her for killing the little thing, instead of taking responsibility for letting her run loose,letting her chase things. I didn't even admire the fact that she was nearly fully recovered from the accident.
Part of it was hating living in an apartment, even an expensive one. I hated the feel of being surrounded by humanity, a humanity that, at the moment, I despised.
I hated the long dead sleepless nights where I'd hear lonesome footsteps above or below me and hear the toilet flush.
I escaped by going to do my laundry.
For some unknown reason this condo had a pool, gym and weight room on the roof. Which seemed odd to me but even odder was the fact that the laundry room was up there too. In fact the laundry room offered an unparalleled view of west LA, especially at night.
Click images for desktop size: "Moon Over Mandlebrot" by Stag
Equally odd, to me, was that there was a free lending library. Just a large bookcase where tenants would dump whatever books they'd been reading. Sort of take one - leave one, sort of thing.
I'd look through it with the eyes of a miser. Free but I was too busy to waste my time reading duff. Too busy, sleeping fitfully 1 or 2 hours a night. Too busy hating.
In the shelf were about 20 of the Destroyer books. Along with several hundred romance novels and the bad tips from the New York times lists.
I grabbed a Destroyer. Read it in about 90 minutes. Decided it was drek, badly written drek.
I read all 20 of them in less than 2 weeks.
My biggest mistake was I kept returning them. I should have kept them.
I remembered them.
As all things do the black mood passed.
I survived it, scarred but survived it.
I had two friends Chuck and John. They were a couple. Chuck was a talented artist. Worked as the art director for a lot of A-List pop acts. Eventually he ended up as the personal secretary for Elizabeth Taylor.
John was about 30 years older than Check. He was old Hollywood.
If you were from LA you'd know what that meant. If you're not I don't know how I can explain it. John worked in movies and knew everybody, but the everybody he knew, well, like me - half of them are dead and the rest haven't worked in 20 years.
Chuck and John were always looking to break free, to beat the system and be rich, lying on white beaches with pina coladas perpetually filled and always within reach.
They had an idea which now seems ahead of their time. They decided to produce an audio book, but not just a straight reading, but to have a narrator and to have each of the characters in the book voiced by a distinct actor. Basically taping a play, or rather an unadapted radio play straight from the book.
I'd listened to several of their plans before. This one seemed to have more merit than most. (Crazy exercise machines, bootleg concert T-Shirts etc)
I was encouraging.
Click images for desktop size: "Pirate's Logo" by Unknown
They wanted to do a series of books, so they could slam them out one after the other.
John would direct, Check would cast and I would engineer . . .
Somehow I mentioned the Destroyer books, told them an abridged version of what I just wrote.
They actually negotiated the rights to make the thing.
One thing about the Old Hollywood guys, they could always put together a deal.
They got an old friend of theirs, Roddy McDowell, to narrate. This was a full circle thing as McDowell played Chuin in the TV pilot of the Destroyer.
The rest of the cast were all friends and people they wanted as friends.
It was great fun. It felt like the old days to me. A bunch of people with nothing in common but a magnificent enticing dream.
We taped in an equity waiver theater where I had friends down on Gower, which meant that we got to spend breaks with the guys from Zoetrope and Paramount. It made it feel good.
As usual I have no idea what the finished product was like. I knew I was magnificent. taped it on 16 track for the reading, and 32 track for the music stings and the sound effects.
One modest experiment was to reserve two tracks for a binaural recording. Binaural is using a styrofoam head and placing the mikes at each ear. This works great when you're wearing headphones as it actually places you center stage of the whole shebang.
I don't even know if the production was a success. Probably not. Chuck is the sort of guy who would have sought me out if he owed me money. (We all worked deferred salary.)
But the whole point of it is that a crappy series of funny books saved my life.
The whole episode kept me alive and willing to move forward.
That's something, I think. And not something many books have done for anyone.