Which of the Seven Circles of Hell?

“I don’t think I should have to work overtime to convince anyone that I deserve future kudos. But, this is the world I live in. Anyone who doesn’t religiously talk-up their own bullshit, no matter the validity of its purpose, the enjoyment it provides others, or the sincerity of its intent on the betterment of life or mankind, is left sitting amongst the also-rans. Barnum couldn’t have foreseen the utterly egomaniacal nature and ease of future communications when he said, ‘Without promotion something terrible happens: nothing.’ It is no longer enough to be fantastic. You have to be fantastic at letting people know just how fantastic you are, and I hate it.”    – Elisa Hardwick, from my forthcoming novel But I Love You.

To quote one of my own characters from a book I’ve not even finished might just be the epitome of the very type of behavior the quote itself references. But alas, I’m a man who enjoys having people read what he writes–and to some extent it matters very little whether they enjoyed having read it, or found what I had written loathsome, dull, or unrealistic. In the latter instances perhaps I get the tiniest bit of satisfaction in knowing that I’ve managed to trick them into wasting some of their day on me. It’s a dark part of my personality that I currently work very hard at squashing with a trained professional on a comfy couch on the Upper East Side. I’ll get there.

To shout about the things I put out into the world goes against everything my sobriety and my leanings towards Buddhist practices would have me do. Indeed, my own preference would be to put content in the form of books, music, musings, ads, and the like out into the world for it to be found naturally, on its own time, and because others made the discovery of it serendipitously and then shouted about it themselves. But, I’m not perfect. I don’t aspire to be perfect, and perhaps I’d be labelled a fool by most to not use what life throws at me in order to give my other pursuits their best possible shot at an existence beyond simply existing. I try not to let what others might think of me dictate my actions, but I do let it inform them.

So, is it wrong to post the commercial I wrote for AXE, here on my blog, because it is garnering so much attention and in theory could lead to a few people finding and purchasing my novel? Maybe. Maybe not. For those of you who share my disgust in regards to self-indulgent, self-congratulatory postings, tweets, and the like (Yes, I do it. A lot of it, but it doesn’t mean I care for it) perhaps you can take some solace in knowing that so far my triumphs in the realm of advertising, present and past, have not meant squat to the readers of fiction. Even fiction that is based in the complex realities of who I used to be.

But, maybe it’s only because they haven’t been exposed to it yet. I am still surprised when people who I consider close friends reveal that they only just found out that I wrote a book. And so, at the risk of having perhaps only myself condemn me for all eternity, I have decided to embed the Susan Glenn commercial here as well–tag the fuck out of it–and maybe earn a few more followers of my regularly scheduled programming. It’s worth a shot, no? It’s also important that any readers of this post know this: I do not consider myself solely responsible for the creation of this branded film. It was only through the rigorous efforts of many people, both agency and client, that a film the likes of this one could ever make it out into the world. And so I thank them all, and last, but most definitely not least, I thank the brain of my good friend and partner, Nate Able, for co-creating the idea from scratch with me. It was our baby, and it’s nice to see it doing so well so early in the world.

Enjoy, and if you feel so inclined, why not take a chance on my book. Good day. I said, Good day.

Customized Abduction Vans for any Occasion

It goes without saying that right now, as you read this, somewhere out there in those United States of America, at least one van is being used as what I–and I’m sure many others–have coined, Abduction Vans. Yep, if you do the math, and I haven’t, but if you did the math, I’m sure you’d come to the same conclusion. Below is a collection of all sorts of Abduction Vans that predators, mafia, kidnappers, the world’s most twisted souls and those who aspire to be them, might be using right now for a whole host of different reasons. I was kind enough to scribe at least one reason that each of these Abduction Vans is special underneath each photo representation. It was my pleasure, so sincerely, no thanks are necessary. I take great comfort in knowing that you’ll now join me in never being able to see a van as simply just another van. Oh, and yes, it goes without saying that each shot snapped put me into harms way, even as hundreds of hipsters were milling about the same streets of Williamsburg. No predator likes his methodology of abduction photographed, and they certainly don’t care for the careful analysis of the reason or reasons for their choice of vehicular man-slaughterers.

With the exception of the industrial locks (a must) and the extended cab (a nice touch for the abduction of more than one) I’d say this is your standard everyday run-of-the-mill abduction van. Complete with creepy, almost-useless, tinted circular window that comes standard in most AVs.

This darker colored model comes complete with an almost completely illegible company name, in this case for a supposed Locksmith. Nothing says, “I’m totally not trying to throw anyone in my van for later-date-torture,” like faded/peeling low-brow blue-collar Americana signage. Nothing.

This sinister ride comes complete with not only the decoy signage, but also a heavy-duty gate lift for those predators who prefer bigger-boned folks to quench their blood thirst.

The truly bold fiends apparently aren’t beyond telling the world exactly what they’ve done, or perhaps announcing their intentions. This predator has either already taken 7 Ricks, plans to Take 7 Ricks, or is only allowed to Take 7 Ricks in total or all at once.

If you are only planning on ever committing one abduction, than perhaps it is best to just pay $19.95 for a one day rental, possibly two, rather than spend a bundle on something you’ll never use to abduct ever again. Don’t kid yourself into buying a van for just one abduction by pretending you’re going to redo your backyard deck, and lie to yourself with fibs like, “It will come in handy later for making trips to Home Depot.”

Why bother securing a facility to store your abductee or bringing him or her back to your spiffy, OCD-clean apartment? Maybe you like Mother Nature and are feeling like performing your cerimonial amputations in the great outdoors. You’ll need a Camper Abduction Van for that. Heck, you can scoop someone up and hit the road for quite sometime–putting ample distance between the two of you and their loved ones as well as the search party they’ve surely formed back home. ROAD TRIP!

A sure fire way to keep suspicion of your misdeeds to a minimum is to perform your abducting in a van too stupid looking for anyone to suspect anything other than the notion that you have abysmal taste in modes of transportation. Nice play Ol’ Boy!

This one might appear to be just another fake-company van, but it is actually soooo much more! A van that features a wonderful word, in this case, “Majestic,” plants a subliminal brain-clouding worm of doubt, creating feelings associated with the meaning of lovely words, before potential worry-warts can even get their paranoia going–leaving them feeling fuzzy and wonderful inside even after you’ve snatched them!

Interested in grabbing tons of tikes off the streets or old relics of bygone eras that are fans of The Partridge Family? Or Both? This is the abduction dream you’ve been waiting for!

Maybe you just want to try a few first with tiny dogs or cats before you make the big leap and pricey, but necessary, purchase to go after bigger game. Why not a make a few bucks advertising local businesses on the side of your pre-human-serial-killing-exploits dream machine?!

And finally, and exactly how I’d roll personally–if I had any intentions of joining the time honored tradition of People Hunting for Sport–the Abduction Van that absolutely screams, “I am an Abduction Van,” so loudly, in fact, that any passer-byers will immediately dismiss it as far too obvious without ever giving it a second thought. Though, I can assure you I certainly gave it one, if not two, or possibly six more thoughts before I got home.

Beep, Beep. She’s Dead.

I run to clear my mind. That makes me one of millions who do it for the very same reason. Just how much crazy can actually be removed during a run of three or four miles is debatable. Most days, if I’m blaring my music loud enough and mimicking the structure of what the guitar player in each track is doing with his hands, with my own left and right hand, I can put a good deal of my lunacy off for the duration of the run itself. But, somedays–like yesterday morning–no amount of music, pounding, increase in speed, or anything else will remove the thoughts I’d rather not have. And, again like yesterday, too often the impetus of something disturbing only occurs to me because I am out there running in the first place.

I’ll admit, yesterday morning I had the music down pretty low. I was already feeling a bit skittish about the possibilites of either vehicular manslaughter or early morning muggery. So, let’s call the volume of my iPod Shuffle a four out of ten. My wife was out running as well, which is also the norm, but had left sometime after my own start–so I had no visual on her, and due to our recent return from vacation (cat burglars, you missed your chance. our cat is still here by the way) Ariele’s house keys were still at the sitter’s. Girl is always on my mind, but knowing I’d have to keep a keen ear out for her return to our abode was the thought leading the majority of the crazy parade marching within my skull. Would I be showering? Would I be on the roof? Is the buzzer broken, and how long would she be locked out? Basic stuff.

As I crossed an intersection, with the light, a lone black SUV with tinted windows sat awaiting the green indication that would allow its driver to proceed to their destination. For no particular reason that I can figure, the driver honked his horn–beep, beep. There wasn’t anyone else around at that ungodly hour, this is Williamsburg, Brooklyn after all and hipsters–even the ones who jog, and many do–don’t usually patrol the street prior to seven AM. After a quick scan for the intended recipient of those devilish toots, I made a quick spin to see if the driver was trying to flag me down for directions, or if it was even someone I knew using their horn to say, “good morning.”

Couldn’t make anyone out, there were no additional honks, and so I continued on my way. So did the SUV, making a right turn at that intersection and fading off into the distance behind me. Panic set in, and in less than two seconds my brain decided it knew exactly why the SUV’s driver had made those honks. Clearly the driver had Ariele bound and gagged in the back, and either she had managed to scream my name or, and far more likely, her abductor had been tailing us for sometime and already knew that I was her husband. Being the sick twist that is an entry level requirement for purveyors of such misdeeds, he had decided to take the game up a notch–in his head, his own thinking was, “I’ll give this guy a sporting chance. I’ll honk the horn, if he has either the courtesy or balls to come over to the SUV to see if I need something, I’ll release his wife and never bug them again. And if he doesn’t, well, then what happens to his wife is meant to be–I gave him a chance, one last chance to save his bonnie lass (he’s a Depp fan apparently) and he blew it.”

I didn’t bother spinning around to chase the SUV to at least get a plate number, something I might have done a decade ago. Nor did I spin around and attempt to immediately find my wife out there, to verify her safety–zig zagging up and down every block at double speed in the hopes of catching at least a glimpse of her to reassure myself that my brain simply hates me and gets a kick out of making the rest of my body perform ridiculous tasks. Ohhhh… if I didn’t need that brain for other things, I’d give it a good punching for certain (shake of head to self).

Ariele made it home of course, which was a real relief to our cat, because in the time between my safe arrival home and hers, I had informed our cat that it was possible her mother wasn’t coming home that day. Laying the ground work for the kitty version of the seven stages of grief–after all, they are like twenty stages in human stages.

Improbable vs. Probable, and the role of Preparation

Full Disclosure: I’m out for blood. In this particular instance blood in the form of restitution. I am not writing this post solely to achieve this goal, I’ve got to write about something, and the gift of Level 9 Paranoia is unapologetic about its ability to infuse itself into nearly any inane occurrence I might experience out there in my world. So, do I want to rave on like a lunatic about how disappointed I am to have arisen this morning to find that Jet Blue didn’t make good on its promise to deliver our luggage yesterday evening? Of course I do. There’s not much of value in that one bag that my wife and I had co-packed with just enough possessions to cover our four day journey to Austin to see our family and a few friends. Also, I am far from cranky about it. I’m super appreciative that we made it to our destination in one piece. And, if I have been informed correctly, since it has been twenty-four hours since we arrived, and we still don’t have our stuff, we can and will submit our receipts (up to sixty dollars) to Jet Blue in order to cover the items we deemed essential to not losing a whole day to the incompetence of someone, somewhere-who made sure our bag took a trip from John F. Kennedy Airport to Seattle, via Long Beach, and then back.

Since the minute my wife delivered the news about our missing bag to me while I stood in a long rental car line, I’ve been wearing a pretty shiny optimism hat about the whole thing. And while I’m a little saddened that no one from Jet Blue bothered to phone us last night to tell us our worldlies still weren’t on the way, and actually hadn’t even left the airport yet, I’m living the advice I had tattooed on my arm five or six years ago and surrendering to however this plays out. And in the mean time, we’ve been having a sick-good time out at LBJ. It’s hard to be upset when you are surrounded by so much love, beauty, and are saddled atop a bright yellow crotch rocket (sans wheels) skimming across the lake while taking in the smiles of family and strangers. I’ll live without this bag, and live well-and if you’ve stayed with me this far, I’ll be grateful that this more than probable scenario and inconvenience is all that came to pass. Because, on the 3rd of July and a few of the days prior, I had an infinite amount of less-than-probable situations playing out in my head that revolved around one of my favorite things to do: travel via flying machines and deal with all that entails.

The LAST thing I’d given any significant thought to was having Jet Blue lose our bag, even as I am aware that it happens to people every day. I don’t care why it happens, it just happens, and no amount of uprising against the airlines and their inability to make absolutely sure your bag makes the same journey you do, is going to completely remove the chance of it happening from the travel-equation. Will I check luggage again? Yes. I’ll roll the dice again, confident that lightning does, indeed, strike twice-but dammit, I like my liquids and gels, and I also enjoy the illusion of roaming freedom that I experience when my hands are free of any handles, cups, bags, satchels, and the like. It’s a physiological feeling that works a psychological number on me in airports and even out in the world-for me, no matter where I am headed, having my hands free of any responsibility leaves me feeling really really swell about dealing with all the other improbabilities my conjuring mind might claim to foresee.

I’m not going to bore you with every little twist I dreamed up before getting on what hopefully won’t be our last successful flight. For one thing, my laptop’s charger is in that cursed but well-traveled piece of luggage. And, if you’ve been paying attention to me here, than you should have a pretty good idea of what kinds of things I had prepared for, and then you can laugh extra hard at me for having given zero thought to the most obvious of them all.

90 Days in the Amazon

It’s pretty common for people to write blog posts about their failures and successes using Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) and CreateSpace services. I figure, without having ever interviewed a single other blogger about it, that a big part of their decisions to write about the experience is nothing more than a ploy to get more eyeballs on the book or books they, like me, are so desperately trying to get people to read. The results of such bloggings I do not know–and originally I had planned on never writing such a post, out of some sort of misguided desire to keep the goings-on of my own publication a mystery.

Shameless self-promotion that this type of post can be, I’ll try to do something I believe a few might haven’t–and that’s be totally honest about what exactly has happened with my own publication thus far because of Amazon’s services. Clarity is not always my speciality, so let me expand a bit on that last inference: I truly believe that in the interest of propelling their book(s) even further, that some people have drastically inflated their sales numbers in the hopes of making it seem like the book is a smashing success to that post’s readers, believing that very misdirect will spur an immediate sale by the unsuspecting dupe taking that misinformation in. I’ll admit, it is also possible a few of the existing blogs that have covered this same subject were dated in that they used KDP in its earlier stages, before Amazon tweaked it, and as a result did, in fact, garner larger volumes of sales despite also being a first time unknown author.

Writing about Amazon has me feeling a touch of the willies, because while I am extraordinarily grateful for their services and what it has allowed this guy to do, I also find them to be a tad frightening in regards to how much information they compile on each and everyone of us–not to mention, what the company’s contributions to the publishing world might ultimately spell out for various others in the profession. The topic of Amazon Publishing Services itself can lead to some very heated conversations, and for some it is an exceptionally polarizing institution. But, like my politics, I find myself agreeing and disagreeing with bits and pieces presented by both sides of that conversation. Doesn’t mean I’m not a little paranoid that some nut-bag who truly hates Amazon isn’t going to use the other big brother of the world, Google, to hunt me down and put my head on a stake in front of Amazon’s offices as a warning to any future writers thinking of travelling the same path I have thus far–and yet, I press forward with some details for the casual reader of long-winded drivel. Lucky you.

Today will be my 90th day with Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. And in order to take full advantage of a few key services they provide during that time, I had to agree to only sell the ebook version of my novel exclusively through Amazon. I wasn’t even able to sell it on my own website, by which I mean, I wasn’t able to make an actual transaction, money for book, using my various blogs. Linking to the book’s page on Amazon was totally fine, and that’s precisely what I did. Now, bare with me, as I deliver some numbers and a bit of the everything that I did to achieve what I am confidently deeming a successful first 90 Days in the Amazon.

Total copies of My Dead Friend Sarah OBTAINED by readers via Amazon only, ebook and paperback, as of today and at various price points set by yours truly: 13,136

I think this is incredible by the way, but before we get our collective panties in a wad completely, let’s take a look at that number in more detail shall we?

Total copies of My Dead Friend Sarah PAID FOR or CHECKED OUT using Kindle’s Lending Library by readers via Amazon only, ebook and paperback, as of today and at various price points set by yours truly: 688

If this number impresses you, as it sorta does me, then you are in the right. Why? The average traditionally published book, in all forms, sells about 500 copies in a year–or so I’ve read. I won’t be linking to facts, but you are certainly welcome to fact check my facts yourself. On top of that, the average book self-published in paperback using CreateSpace sells a scant 25 copies in a year. So, I welcome any kudos you might want to throw my way, because, as you might have surmised, just putting my book onto Amazon is NOT what led to 688 actual sales, nor is it even solely responsible for the success I had giving away 12,448 copies using exactly two of the five Free Days that Amazon KDP allowed me to use. On that second day of the promotion, for most of the day, My Dead Friend Sarah was the number one most downloaded book in suspense/thrillers by the way, and it felt awesome. It should be noted though that ereadernewstoday.com was kind enough to include my title in their morning post of 5 freebies, and without that having happened, I believe the total of books obtained for free that weekend would have been far less–somewhere around 3,000 to 3,500 I think.

I was quite hesitant to use any of the Free Days at all, people should be paying for the creative output of others and all that, but I do believe that because of whatever algorithm Amazon uses to feed Free Books into the display system titled “Customers who bought X also bought Y and Z,” that it most definitely boosted exposure to My Dead Friend Sarah. No question about it really, but while that certainly put my title in front of new eyes, I can honestly say that I don’t believe it was primarily responsible for my books sustained momentum of roughly an average of 7.6 sales/day. Not completely, and maybe not at all.

I’m run various self-administered tests using different combinations of Facebook ads, Google Adwords, blog posts, my own participation among other blogs, boards, etc. And, during the times that I have had absolutely no time to perform those mixtures of hocking my wares, there was a markedly drastic decline in daily sales. Many days, as few as zero. On the days that I have found the time to institute one, two, three or more of those efforts towards promoting my book, the sales have always been better. Even as I work in advertising, I was surprised to see what a difference it tended to make with regards to selling books, when i shouted about the book from digital rooftops.

Total books sold via all methods of selling, including the original paperback run-turned-failure with LuLu, paperback sales made by hand to co-workers and friends, and one or two via Amazon’s expanded distribution offer that put my book onto an infinite number of other online retailers: 720 books I believe.

Given the disappointing figures of other self-published and traditionally published works, and I’m talking the numbers that are far lower than that earlier mention of the industry average of 500/year and the self-published 25/year, I’d have to call the early stages of my self-publishing career a success. In my mind, 1000 units PAID for was a realistic goal for the end of 2012, and I’m not that far off from there. I’ve got a few other promotional tricks up my sleeves that I’ll be unleashing into the world during July and August, and I have a tremendous amount of positive energy going forward, as so many of the reviews for the book have been overwhelmingly positive.

Now, as long as Amazon doesn’t get cranky because of this post, and decide to yank me from their service entirely–I’m off to work on my next book, that, unless I ink a deal with a traditional publisher, I will most definitely be putting out using KDP and CreateSpace again. For me, the 90 day exclusivity clause didn’t really hinder sales. Most of my friends, family and other immediate buyers were cool to take a chance on downloading The Kindle App for their iPads and computers, if they didn’t already have it, or in fact have a Kindle. And for their continued support and purchases I am forever grateful to all of the people helping push my book out there.

Will I do another 90 days with Amazon KDP? I’ve got a little bit more time to hem and haw over it, but as of right now, I can’t honestly say that being able to put My Dead Friend Sarah out on Nook or iBookstore would make a noticeable difference. Not yet anyway.

Hope this answers some questions for some folks, and if you hear in tomorrow’s papers about a suspicious accident involving your favorite paranoid writer, please do be a dear friend and if you haven’t read My Dead Friend Sarah, give it a shot, tell a friend, or in lieu of that, mount up and concoct some charges against the beast that is Amazon–after all, my cat will need some diapers, and kitty diapers aren’t cheap.

Gas Powered Cement Saw: WINNER!

I’m a big fan of horror flicks. I’m not a gore-porn-aficionado, no sir. Frankly I don’t need the blood, guts, squirts, and pulsing organs to be afraid. One would think that given my very real problem of having a brain that constantly conjures the worst case scenarios possible for any situation, that I’d steer clear of anything that puts new ideas into my head. Quite the contrary friends. In my mind, feeding my brain with as many of the demented possibilities dreamed up by others is a methodology of preparedness that moves me up the Darwinian chain. I’m pretty confident that my exposure to the likes of American Psycho, Se7en, Hostel, Motel Hell, and the what-must-be thousands of others of films I’ve allowed these peepers to ‘enjoy’ have kept me alive from time to time. Very possibly they have kept me from doing things I might have loved to do too, like long solo backpacking adventures in third world countries, or following some hot-mess home for the night back in my bachelor daze–thanks a bunch Fatal Attraction.

There is a film, not seen by many, that was titled High Tension here in the states. It was a French horror flick that until the end had seemed like a total rip-off of the story Dean Koontz presented in his book Intensity. I’ll spare you most of the details, but let’s just say the twist that the writers, producers, and directors attempted to pull-off wasn’t disimilar from the character Donald’s film, The 3, in the Nicholas Cage picture, Adaptation. In High Tension there is a grandiose climax featuring a gas powered cement saw, and until I’d viewed the film, I’d not once given thought to what a device like that might be capable of in the wrong hands. It gives me shivers just thinking about it.

This morning, not unlike many times since my return from the jungles of Costa Rica, I found myself walking down a street only to be confronted with construction workers performing miracles on the streets of Manhattan with their mechanical wizardry. The buzz made by a saw hell-bent on carving up the manmade ground beneath cars and feet here makes a wickedly sick and recognizable scream. Crossing the street is always an option, but who is to say the guys wielding those mini-monsters aren’t quite a bit faster than me and on the backend of a bender that’s left them disoriented, angry and confused? So, like each time before it, this morning I reversed direction, marched back up the street I’d just come down, to shift my path one block over where at least I might stand a chance of making it to work without missing appendages. A minor inconvenience to be sure, but I couldn’t help thinking that in the game of Rosch vs. Gas Powered Cement Saw, the match tally is currently 0-7, possibly more–I don’t keep count of my crazy, I just live with it.

Colin Hay Wants to Know

Above this text you will see a quick screen shot of some of the most recent searches that have led fine folks like yourself to my blog. I don’t pay much attention to this little blurb, and when I do, most days I find phrases along the lines of, “new fiction, paranoid thoughts, sober this or that” and the occasional long string of words that clearly indicates someone has Level 9 Paranoia way worse than this guy. Yesterday though, I was initially amused to see, “peter rosch dui.” I’m an open book, and while I sincerely regret having ever put myself in the position to get a DUI, I have no issues with people knowing about it–in fact, I should probably regale everyone with the fine tale of my night’s stay in a Bronx jail cell at some point. That was a real treat, let me tell you. After a quick trip down my own memory lane though, I started to wonder, “Who could it be digitally knocking at my door?” Why would anyone be on the hunt for that information? Who is trying to dig up dirt on this lowly private citizen, and what exactly do they intend on doing with that information when they find it? The little sliver of my brain that produces happy thoughts suggested, “Hey, maybe someone is doing an article/review on My Dead Friend Sarah.” Of course, this was a short lived notion, and it wasn’t even seconds before my brain started to fabricate as many other possible scenarios in which someone out there was doing a slow and methodical hunt for dirt on yours truly. It was a situation that I carried with me quietly, and shared with some friends, throughout the day. In retelling the story to my family last night–and only then–did I remember to myself, “Douchebag. You are not the only Peter Rosch on the planet. There are in fact a couple more famous than you, not to mention the man who co-created you, you egotistical sack of baloney.”

So, Dad, is there something I should know?

Agents of Sloth

My paranoia never leaves me completely, but it’s seemed relatively quiet upstairs the last few days–if I didn’t know better I’d say the curse had been lifted. I hadn’t give much thought to my current state of bliss, at least what bliss is for this guy, until I started formulating ideas for this very post. It wasn’t the first time my mind put wondering against the notion that some day I’d not be able to write for this blog anymore, and that perhaps I’d have to change the title to Level 9 Happy Goodness Times. In and of itself, that thought proves things are still cranking up there. The battle between my brain and me rages on, but at times it plays a quieter game–moves to destroy my sanity with the more subtle themes of self-doubt and dread. I think my psyche knows that if it positioned every evil twist, potential fate, and the doings of others as over-the-top Hollywood blockbusters, that in time those fabrications wouldn’t impact me with the same ferocity. And so, this past weekend, it decided to play me a quieter head-film, in the vein of an Indie feature that dwells in subject matter one might describe as more probable in the real world, and only seemingly less heinous due to the lack of guts, blood, and booming soundtrack.

I spent a great deal of time working on my next novel on both Saturday and Sunday. It was equal parts rewarding and frustrating, not too disimilar from the efforts I put against My Dead Friend Sarah, but perhaps with the additional creative-crushing notion kicking around that the table of my life has now been set with some lovely place settings, at least according to some, and this second book will serve as the metaphorical meal for those waiting patiently at this table to consume it. Yeah, there might be a little more pressure this time around–no one even knew I was writing the last time, and even I had no expectations going in to that one, other than to complete a rough draft of a full story in a timely fashion, rather than give up just twenty-two or thirty pages in, like had been the case in previous attempts made by a younger, and often pig-stink drunk or hungover from having been pig-stink drunk, version of myself.

If you care to know, I can tell you that in spite of the laundry list of thoughts that worked feverishly to prevent me from putting pen to paper on the next book, I was still able to get quite a bit done by committing to the doing of it as though the results of my labor meant nothing to me or anyone else–even though they eventually will. Only by committing to writing was I able to ignore the following gems of delusion that seek to keep me lethargic and in a permanent state of sloth: This story had been told before, You can’t write in 3rd Person, People were just being nice about the first one, Did you read what you wrote in the last chapter–laughable Rosch, The title is taken, The title is taken because someone is writing the exact same plot as you at this very minute and will publish their story long before you are finished, You are missing out on a great day out there that could be your last, You aren’t getting paid squat to write this book–mind telling me what the point is friend, Wouldn’t our time be better spent coming up with a gadget people really need, Being a writer isn’t a real job Peter, stop wasting time on this and let’s butter-up that resume with actual accomplishments.

It’s going to be a long, slightly different journey than the last. Here’s to hoping the part of my brain that likes me continues to do just enough to beat back the parts that most definitely don’t.

Coffee Shop Shakedown

This past Sunday morning, before the onset of a painful, no doubt secret lab accidental release style 48 hour virus that left me somewhat zombified most of Monday and yesterday, I was having an amazing morning. That morning included one of my favorite things of late: meeting my good friend, whose name I won’t use since I’ve no idea what level of paranoia he is rocking these days, for a cup of coffee and a nice chat.

My mood was so spectacular that I wasn’t even bothered by the fact that a stranger sitting across from us had skillfully injected himself into our preliminary conversations about the weather, recent films seen, and other surface level conversation had before getting down to the real nitty and gritty. As the dialog moved along, predominantly led by my friend and me, the three of us had somehow landed on what is and isn’t tax deductible in our various trades.

I took a moment to reflect on how we’d arrived there with this stranger, and came to realize he had used a piece of my own tale concerning an ancient and foolish charge I’d made for my tattoo that reads, “Question Everything. Trust No One.” The irony that this all stems from that is only evident to me as I write this.

Before my friend could say another word to the balding sly-fox seated across from us, I posited, “Wouldn’t it be something if you were actually some dude from the IRS who hit up coffee shops, to start up chats, move them towards tax returns, deductions, and the like–so that you could then flag folks for audits down the road?”

Our new friend was a little startled by the insinuation–and after a raucous bout of nervous giggles said, “Oh right, like I’m some sort of James Bond of the IRS? And this is what I do, go around and chat up people in posh neighborhoods to find out what they’ve been up to with their taxes.” This was followed by more nervous quips made in rapid succession that moved us quickly into another subject matter entirely.

Had we blown his cover? Maybe. Is Williamsburg really a ‘posh’ neighborhood? Maybe. Did I leave fearing that figurative ‘knock’ on the door we all dread might be coming despite our best efforts to play by the rules? Not really. You don’t live with Level 9 Paranoia, and get all willy nilly on the kind of stuff you know for certain Big Brother is keeping tabs on. I’d say I was most taken aback by his suggestion that he might be the James Bond of the IRS. Maybe the Roger Moore Bond. And that’s a big maybe.

The Worst That Can’t Happen

When presented with opportunities, I’m prone to mentally constructing the worst case possibilites of my involvement with something first, and I do so feverishly. You might regard this as a pessimistic attitude, and a regretfully sorrowful way of living. You’d be wrong. The key word back there, or phrase I guess, was ‘prone to mentally constructing.’ I do not believe in those scenarios. I do not prepare for the worst. In all actuality, I think everything that I am a part of is going to turn out amazing. I go into every project believing that it is a chance to do something great. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t spend a wasteful amount of time dwelling on the outcomes one might deem far far from less than favorable–in the bad direction of less than favorable if you catch my drift. Death is tops on the list, always–but, how that death might occur is different from one project to the next. I’ve probably bored you to tears with other stories about potential near-misses, crazy trains of logic that outline how I might go if such and such happens–at times keeping a blog about one’s inner most sickness can be daunting. So, I’ll hope that you’ll grant me an apology for any overlapping themes. It’s Sunday, so I’m going to get to a point quicker than normal here–ask me to do anything, and I’ll believe (if not full-on know) that there’s a chance it is going to turn out incredible–but, and it’s a big but, don’t think for a minute that I haven’t given consideration to the litany of scenarios my participation in your event my bring down upon me.

When I was asked to participate in The 48 Hour Film Project a month or so ago, after a little bit of buttering up by my good friend Jordan, I enthusiastically agreed to join the crew, as the director no less. I had no doubt we could make something great–it didn’t even matter that I’d not worked with a single soul who would be joining me on that journey. I was confident whatever we did would turn out grand. And, as hopefully the link below shows, I believe it did. But, you can be sure that in the weeks prior to the event itself, I had managed to craft dozens of scenarios that were anything but successful completing a short film with over twenty friends and strangers, having it screened at NYC film center, and watching it enjoy a nice smattering of applause immediately after its unveiling. I believed this could happen, but I also gave quite a bit of thought to some of the following, and a hell of a lot worse:

I’ll be outed as a faker, a man who said he could direct, but actually has no business storytelling whatsoever. (This one is as obvious to a creative as any.)

The police will no doubt take notice of the spectacle we are creating with that little magic video capturing device, and stop us. This will lead to a citation at best, and at worst, would remind them upon running my name that I was due to report to prison for having not completed a DUI course correctly some years ago. Given the location, I’d most likely end up in The Tombs downtown this time–for no other reason than I hear that name mentioned far too frequently on Law & Order SVU.

We’d not have a crew to lock-down sets, and this would of course lead to an acute inability to control the crazies who come out when young people are making a mockery of their miserable lives by enjoying themselves with fancy clothes and cigarettes on their desserted alley streets. (Yes, I am referring to myself as a young person. Deal.) And armed with whatever the city version of a pitchfork might be, would proceed in beating us down for having the gall to do something for the sake of passion.

Getting zapped by electricity due to not really understanding the hows, whys, and whats of modern day grippery. (My word, created by using the word Grip. If you are in the business you know what those surly bastards are up to.)

And finally, at least for this list, the thought that, not unlike all my creations and co-creations, that some how putting something out there at all, with my name on it, will lead to the harshest form of criticism of praise: a good ol’ fashioned stalking, beating, abducting, torturing, and slow demise. (Oddly, this particular imagined outcome makes nearly every list of every single thing I do, because I clearly have an ego the size of an elephant that my poor self-esteem does a magnificent job of hiding.)

Without further ado, here’s the only real result of having participated in The 48 Hour Film Festival. And it’s called, Pickle.

Pickle