Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I call Shenanigans

Girl asks for 3 stars, wakes up with 56.

Fell asleep?! Are you *kidding* me?

Now, I've never tattooed anyone's face, but I do live in the land of Moko, have talked with clients who've had cosmetic tattooing done and seen a couple of guys get their heads tattooed above the hairline. Those guys were pretty tough characters, and they were in absolute AGONY when the tattooist got near their temples. Cosmetic tattooing is usually done with topical anesthetic. Ta Moko was, among many other things, a way of showing you could take some serious pain.

Somehow, I doubt this young lady 'slept through' what looks like an hour or two worth of work. The forehead and brow ridge, maybe the cheek and jaw I could buy, but the soft tissue under the eye?! The side of her nose?! If she's got something that let her sleep through that, I'd love to have a little for when I get my ribs finished...

And hand-drawn or stenciled, you might think she'd have noticed the design kind of, you know, 'going large'. Unless she was supposed to have slept through that, too. Bloody ridiculous!

Kimberley Vlamink isn't actually the one making me mad here. Young kid had what probably seemed like a pretty good idea at the time, that turned out to be pretty f**king stupid at the end of the day. Fine, we've all been there. Instead of fronting up, she spun out a threadbare version of 'I didn't know; an older boy made me do it'. Didn't work for me when I was eight and me and my friends got caught with our first Playboy, but then I'm guessing Kimberley's dad is a hell of a lot more gullible than my mom.

I'm pretty disappointed in her dad, both for buying that fib and for trying to cash in on it (though 10,000GBP might just be what tattoo removal costs there, I don't know. I'm very damn disappointed in the ass-clown who did the work, but look at the photo. What can you expect.

Mostly, I'm steamed-up at the glee with which this story has run across the news. It was a top story on Google and Yahoo's news services, and a 'find out tonight' teaser on my local news. I assume it's popping up in your local markets too-- Never fall asleep in a tattoo parlour (our local newscaster's words) has all the stuff of urban legend. I've seen so much glee at the idea that a tattooist might run amok on a helpless victim that very few reporters seem the least bit interested in asking if it's even possible.

One way to do a little fact-checking: see if Kimberley manages to sleep through the laser treatments. And if she does, I'd love it if she'd share whatever she's on. You see, over the next few months I'm hoping to finish my ribs...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Top Ten

So I was reading Alexandra Sokoloff's great series of columns on story structure. Her first word of advice is to put together a list of your ten favorite works in your chosen genre, or just your ten favorites altogether.

I haven't done my genre-specific favorite list, but I *did* sit down and write a list of ten books and/or movies I wish I'd written. I was surprised at some of my results:

High Noon (for my money, this movie is the most tightly-crafted thriller ever!)

Prayers for Rain (Dennis Lehane's prose has never been more haunting)

Shotgun Opera (Victor Gischler writes crisp, fast, sharp and vivid)

The Bottoms (Joe Lansdale's literary mystery stacks up against anything else I've ever read)

Coraline (something about the whimsy and magic in Gaiman's world...)

Silence of the Lambs (the movie, not the book-- oddly)

Strega (Andrew Vachss's second novel gave us a femme fatale who still haunts my idle nightmares)

Long Lavender Look (why THIS John D. MacDonald and not another, I'm at a loss to say. All the same, I stand by it.)

Fargo (a haunting, beautiful, grim and funny movie, and a story structure that ties my head in knots!)

The Crow (I just wish to hell I'd written this movie, okay?)

Certain readers might be surprised to see a few of my favorite authors missing. James M. Cain and Gil Brewer both wrote a hell of a story, but as much as their doomed heroes resonate with me, I don't wish I'd written them. Same is true in the other direction for Robert A. Heinlein, JK Rowling and Marian Keyes.

The exercise was also enlightening. Thomas Harris lost out to Ted Tally (writer of the screenplay for Silence of the Lambs) for two reasons: one was the tighter structure and visual system of the movie, and the other was that the movie flirts with the seductiveness of evil without ever rolling over and showing its belly to the darkness. Harris is WAY too enamored of the dark side for me.

One thing I'm still puzzling over is the absence of James Lee Burke. I mean, I LOVE the guy's fiction, would be proud to call any of his books my own, but after three days of working on that list, nothing of his made the cut.

I've got two theories. 1) I'm more in love with the overall body of work than with any single book, or 2) I'm just too intimidated to even list him.

So how bout y'all? What do you wish you'd written?

Visual artists and musicians, you can do this exercise in your chosen mediums too. Perhaps sometime I'll mention paintings or tattoos I wish I'd done....

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Junky - Chasing That High

Addiction is strange. At its heart is the pleasure released when opiate chemicals flood the brain. Addicts' brains have certain chemistries in common, even though their pleasure-triggers can take many, sometimes weird forms. It seems strange to me that moments of pleasure can create lifetimes of damnation.

Most of us cross that dark threshhold in a rush of warmth and light. We spend the rest of our lives comparing every dull moment, every blunted, habituated high, to those early, golden days when the high was still new.

For me, it started with Batman comics. Spiderman and the X-Men figured in there too. And Wonder Woman, who woke other, darker pleasures in my four year old breast.

Once I learned to read, I moved on to harder drugs. The way a heroin addict can tell you about their first really good high, or a hard-core alcoholic remembers the early days when every beer was his friend, I remember a book called Splinter in the Mind's Eye, by Alan Dean Foster. And Octagon House, by Andre Norton.

Those were the first books that really shook me. The ones that made the life outside go away, that cut me to the bone, that gave me that rush.

Today, I'm still chasing that rush. Trouble is, same as the drinker, the junkie, the problem gambler all habituate to their highs, I can't get that same rush in the places I used to. I get pleasure, sure. Quite a lot of pleasure.

But what I'm looking for is that serious, major, insane high. That up-all-night-call-in-sick-the-next-day-because-I-can't-close-this-book high. There are a handful of places where I know I can go for it, but those bastards right so damned slow! And too many of them are dead.

I've just finished Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child, Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson and COld Flat Junction by Martha Grimes. Mighty fine, all of them, but none cut too deep. Today I'm returning to James M. Cain and Joe Lansdale's masterpiece, The Bottoms. The Tiny Dynamo is flying through the Harry Potters once again.

A little more leather and a little less bathing, we could be a literary Sid and Nancy...

Check that apply:
___ I frequently (once or twice a day) find that my
conversation centers on books or reading experiences.

___ I read to deal with tension or physical stress.

___ Most of my friends or acquaintances are people who read.

___ I have lost days of school/work because of reading.

___ I have had the shakes when going without a good book.

___ I regularly read upon awakening, before eating, or
while at school/work.

___ I have been arrested for Driving while reading.

___ I have periods of time that can't be remembered while
reading or buying books.

___ Family members think reading or book purchasing is a
problem for me.

___ I have tried to quit reading but cannot. (A good test
is voluntarily going for six weeks without a good book
and not experiencing physical or emotional distress.)

___ I often double up, reading two books at a time or
regularly read more books than others.

___ I often read to "get ready" for a social occasion.

___ I regularly hide books and reading material from those
close to me so that they will not know how much I am reading.

___ I often read by myself.

___ My reading or book buying has led to conflict with my friends
or family members.
Three or four 'yeses', you may have a problem. Five, get thee to a counselor!

In fact, go anyway. They have *great* promotional literature....