Saturday, May 31, 2008

Little Green Update:

Although the aliens' choice of AFC team remains unclear, a few dozen people in Denver have now seen the video I first mentioned here. And, come to think about it, what they saw remains unclear too. Here's a still image from the video:

Don't they have stepladders on his home planet?

Meanwhile, a bunch of skeptical jerks say the whole thing could have been faked with a Halloween costume and a PowerBook. Their version:

How much is that alien in the window?

(The answer, for those of you who didn't click through to the Rocky Mountain News story, is $90)

Friday, May 30, 2008

But are they Broncos fans?

It has come to my attention that aliens will land in Denver on Friday. Well, not land, but appear on film. Well, not aliens, but something that's hard to easily identify.

All of this is assuming the guy with the film is able to successfully navigate Denver International Airport. But if it pans out, a new Denver City Council committee could change the world. As the Rocky Mountain News put it:

Jeff Peckman, who is pushing a ballot initiative to create an Extraterrestrial Affairs Commission in Denver to prepare the city for close encounters of the alien kind, said the video is authentic and convinced him that aliens exist.

"As impressive as it is, it's still one tiny portion in the context of a vast amount of peripheral evidence," he said Wednesday. "It's really the final visual confirmation of what you already know to be true having seen all the other evidence."

When Peckman went before city officials this month to discuss his proposed ET initiative, he promised to show the video.

He came from another galaxy to hover around the three-point line.

As much as I'd like this to be true, it seems more likely it will be an inspired hoax or just a really cool misunderstanding. Or Shane Battier's head. But if it's ET, I hope his final destination is a place with a little more soul and a little less John Elway.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

What you may not know about Rik Smits

After more than a year of blogging, I've reached some conclusions.

1) I enjoy it a lot. I've always felt a little out of sorts when I go a few days without writing. E-mails and instant messages (and now text messages--thanks, Motorola!) don't quite cut it, and furthermore expose me to far too many smilies. But with the blog, I can hammer out a few paragraphs here and there on whatever happens to interest me, from writing, to me, to my book, to me and my book, to subjects that have nothing to do with me. It's great. Keeps me out of trouble.

2) Someone in Saudi Arabia reads my blog. Or at least stops by after it came up on a Google search. Which leads me to...

Dunker, noted blog promoter.

3) Besides the obvious stuff like "Doyle," "Read Ink," "From the Depths" and "barbecue," the most popular search term that leads to my blog is... Rik Smits. Who knew that the Flying Dutchman would be such a traffic generator. If I ever meet him, he's getting a signed copy.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Microsoft. Yahoo. Google. Charlie Rose. Absurdity.

If, hypothetically, a vaguely existential playwright were to script a conversation between renowned interviewer Charlie Rose and renowned interviewee Charlie Rose, what would it sound like? This is what the Internet should be used for, people. Not business, not research--fake interviews.

Steve is not happy! (but he hopes you have a good holiday weekend)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Just flew back from Kansas City

And boy, are my jokes tired.

Other than my bag making it to Midway an hour after I did, it was a fun trip. Got to stomp around in my old stomping grounds, water in my old watering holes, chat with old friends and even take a nice stalker-style cell phone photo of the house I once inhabited.

Oh, and I also spread the Gospel of Christine (possible title for future novel?) around the Midwest. That was fun too.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Gerry Doyle, Cliche Slayer

Because I AM going home again.

Friday morning, to be specific. It's been months since I've made a pilgrimage to the homeland--with its barbecue and jazz and terrible baseball ownership--and I'm really excited. This is the first time I'll be in Kansas City as a novelist. I hope airport security is good; I hate it when I'm swarmed by autograph-seeking book lovers before I can get to my limo.

Awwww, for me? You shouldn't have.

Here's what the schedule looks like:

1) On Friday afternoon I'll be speaking to students at my old high school. I have a long talk composed about how to avoid poverty by not pursuing a writing career.

2) On Saturday I'll be at the Kansas City Literary Festival, which runs from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. I'll be seated at the Missouri Center for the Book's table, signing, chatting and looking author-ish. You can buy a copy for signing (and reading!) at the Rainy Day Books tent or at Barnes and Noble.

3) On Monday I'll be at the Borders in Lawrence at 7 p.m. for a book-signing. As I mentioned before, you can't get Boulevard products in Chicago, so there's a strong chance I will wind up at a local watering hole. But not drinking water.

Hope to see you, whoever you are, someplace in Kansas City. Except at the high school. That would be weird.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I also do weddings and bar mitzvahs

I just rolled in from St. Louis, and boy are... my... um... wheels tired. Yeah, sorry about that. I didn't get much sleep last night.

Anyway. The trip was a great success, with a packed house for the book signing at Webster Groves Bookshop (there's only one copy left in the store, so hurry over there now if you live in the 314, but don't get in a hury and make an illegal left turn on Lockwood. I'm just trying to help you out here.).

The book club the next night was phenomenal as well. The participants were full of thoughtful questions and observations. And there was wine, cheese and cookies. What more could an author ask for?

Now--onward to Kansas City....

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Why does the Internet hate me?

This is a post about the Internet and its hatred of me. Well... perhaps "hatred" is too strong of a word. The Internet has not, as far as I know, tried to injure me, mock my haircuts or kick my pets. Good for it.

What it has done is confound me on occasion. Examples, you say? You want examples? Fine.

First of all, Barack Obama won't be my friend. He seems like a nice enough guy; I interviewed him once for a news story and he was about as easygoing as a high-powered political dude could be.

Yet whenever I try to befriend him on MySpace, I am shunned. Perhaps it's my book, full of mayhem and violence that a presidential candidate could never tacitly endorse. Or maybe it's because there's a picture of me sitting in a bar--another scene that rising political stars aren't known to frequent. Hell, maybe it's some of my other friends, like the Tossers or Flogging Molly; I admit they're a little bit rough around the edges.

The Tossers like beer. So do I. Does Barack Obama?

In any event, my Internet friendship is being spurned. And it hurts. It hurts in ways that Al Gore never dreamed of.

Then there's the whole question of anonymous blog commenters. I know I get off pretty easy in this regard, in that my work has thus far not incited anyone to outright verbal nastiness. But the whole anonymity thing makes communication difficult. For instance, a former classmate of mine commented on a post a couple of days ago... yet I have no way of contacting that person, because Blogger protects his or her identity like a Swiss bank guard. During the book give-away contest, several entrants got a doughnut--the kind indicating "zero," not the tasty it's-not-just-for-breakfast treat--because there was no way to contact them.

And so, my friends, I think it is clear that the Internet is doing everything in its high-speed digital power to keep me from living the life I should. Yes, "hatred" might not be the right word. But it's tough to think offhand of a similarly short word that means "making things difficult for me." Maybe I could Google that....

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Ladies and gentlemen: My mental jukebox

I know this isn't the first blog post in this vein. But it's also not the first time I've had a song stuck in my head for days on end.

Longtime Friend of the Blog Chris, who should have a blog of his own, is to blame for this entry.

I give you: "Knights of Cydonia."

There you go. The lyrics don't make much sense, but it's catchy. I think what got it jammed into my cranium was the time signature switch, from four at the beginning to six at the end. And also the bizarrely hilarious (hilariously bizarre?) video.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Serpent of St. Louis

It's official: Dr. Myers, me and several boxes of books will be descending on St. Louis (County) early next week for some signery.

WHEN: 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, May 12
WHERE: Webster Groves Bookshop, 100 W. Lockwood Ave., Webster Groves, Mo.
WHAT: Discussion of death-filled submarine, plus illegible signatures
CONTACT: (314) 968-1185

Mark your calendars. Use a red pen.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A branch from the tree of happiness

PBS, let's face it, is the source of most of the televised enlightenment in the United States. You have great news programs. Documentaries. Children's programming that is more than saccharine pablum (an oxymoron I just invented but think is pretty cool).

If "The Office," "Flight of the Conchords" and "Battlestar Galactica" were on PBS, DirecTV and I would be going through a messy breakup.

But the crowning achievement of public television, a resource that could easily have stimulated a healthy economy and brought peace to the Middle East, is bringing one man--and his Afro--to the small screen. I speak, of course, of Bob Ross.

Yeah, I have some pretty solid childhood memories of the guy. But in case you think this is just sepia-toned recollection, witness this clip and--after you've stopped hugging the nearest puppy--tell me that painting happy trees and puffy clouds isn't the best therapy your tax dollars can buy.

Bob Ross - Deep Forest Lake

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go find some titanium white and a hair pick.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Change can be dangerous

Or in this case, not having change can be dangerous. I speak, of course, of the newly installed credit card reader on a Coke machine here at work.

The nectar of the gods--now accepting Visa.

One of the biggest obstacles to buying myself a caffeinated beverage whilst on the clock is the fact that I hardly ever have cash in my wallet. I know. It's a shortcoming, I'm working to improve myself, my therapist assures me the extra weight in my back pocket won't injure me.

Now, though... now I can just use my debit card, and bam: a soda. If the machine sold Dr Pepper, I'd be in real trouble.

My view on perspective

Hey, look, everyone--a post about writing! OK, OK... settle down. I'm about to say something important.

It is my opinion that it's impossible to immediately gauge the worth of one's own writing. Which is just a guy-with-a-philosophy-degree's way of saying that you can't see something when you're standing too close to it.

The author stands over a defeated plot hole.

Just like a boxing match looks a lot different to the boxers than it does to the spectators, a story puts the writer square in the middle and forces him or her to lose objectivity. If you're not getting swept along in a story you're writing, you're doing something wrong... because your readers won't get swept along either--a big problem unless you're writing a technical manual. (although, let's face it, technical manuals could use more explosions, chases and intrigue, couldn't they?)

That's why a crucial part of the writing process for me is giving a semi-finished manuscript to people, or several people, to read. They can tell me what works and what doesn't, what is exciting and what isn't, who is believeable and who is cartoonish.

I don't act on every suggestion. But I listen to everything--yes, even the sarcasm--and the manuscript gets better. And more sarcastic. Everyone wins!