I recorded a book on tape that is now up for a big award, along with Barack Obama, Tina Fey, Jamie Foxx, Julie Louis-Dryfus, Sandra Oh, Maya Rudolph…and Scott Brick. Who? That’s okay; I didn’t know who he was either. But, as nice as it is to be amongst all those A-listers, my particular pride is couched in the fact that in my award category, Audiobook Narration – Thrillers- Best Voiceover, I am a finalist with Mr. Brick, who, as I now know, is a Godlike, Mega-star of book narration.
North of 600 books read to tape over his stunning career… Me? I’ve read only one, my first one. The one I refitted my 2nd bathroom to serve as a recording studio to narrate in. The book was Joseph Badal’s “Ultimate Betrayal.” A gripping thriller with a reluctant to the max hero, the mob, the CIA, and a love story. All in all, a great underlying work to have as your first-ever book narration.
Self-praise sucks. But I am astonished and delighted that my work has garnered enough recognition to be among such an impressive field of finalists. So, if you have any discretional luck to spare, please send it my way, I could use it. It would be almost historic if I should prevail, but honestly, just being recognized as an achievement of note for my first ever endeavor into this field is awesome!
By the way, in the credits for the audiobook, the recording studio is listed as “In the Can Productions.”
Being an author from the Bronx, the only thing I thought I had in common with Edgar Allan Poe was that he had a place up on the Grand Concourse a few blocks away from George Barbera’s house. But Halloween reminds me that he was also a poet, editor, as well as an author of some of the darkest literature ever created. On Halloween, we dress up and look forward to safe terror. We can get the thrill and giggle, without the danger. We can assume other identities, some random others secretly desired, by merely dressing the part. By the way, this is what authors do every day. But for Poe, he was deemed guilty of darkness by association – to his characters.
Here’s something that he could have written…
Imagine if you dressed up as Jack the Ripper for October 31st. But on November 1st, you woke up in a dank and stinking, horse manure redolent alleyway in Victorian England. A knife – bloody to the hilt in your left hand, a woman of night lay sprawled out beside you on the cobblestones as the blood from her cold, lifeless body congealed at the precipice of the sewer grate. And try as you might, you could not remove the costume. You had become your Halloween avatar.
That’s a pretty good premise for a Poe nightmare, if I say so myself. But it’s not too far from the reality of writing crime, mystery, or thrillers. I get many readers who look at me with a sly smirk, coaxing me to admit that I have lured women to their deaths by seducing them on tropical atolls. Or bludgeoned a fake priest to death on a staircase or one of a hundred other dastardly devices and plot points of my novels. Me! Scared of my own shadow, faint at the sight of blood, a wimp that catches and releases house flies, me! I used to object (and sales went down). Now, I smile like the cat next to the empty canary cage, leaving them to their fantasies, which I created within them. (Sales went back up.)
“Supreme rationalism” is a term associated with Poe. Yet, if you think about it, Poe was saying that there was darkness in every human heart and that it was rational. That darkness was as much a part of our existence as the flowery literary stuff coming out of mid-1800s England and France. As one critic, Herbert Marshall McLuhan, put it, “creating a parochial fog for the English mind to relax in.” In my humble opinion, not many readers relaxed while reading Poe’s detective fiction and horror.
Poe was at once reviled and revered by his literary contemporaries. There are actually psychoanalytical studies made of his work. So supreme was his rationalistic exploration of the darkness that beats within the breasts of man, that (as I occasionally am), he was painted as having been as vile and evil as the characters he created and capable of the horrors he detailed, just like the way I have been imagined by some readers. I see that as a testimonial to his ability to affect the heart of the reader, dark or otherwise. And in that, I take some comfort for being accused of the same thing.
Unlike me at this point in my career, his work was bigger than he was, and it eclipsed his life and forever shadowed him with the darkness he so brilliantly related to readers for generations.
It wasn’t until the 1940’s that a biography by A.H. Quinn finally emerged that balanced this lazy and sloppy “pop” analysis of Poe. For anyone who cared to look, he did not identify, nor was he the reprobate that his madmen and murderers, those that populated and advanced the plots of his most famous pieces, as he so skillfully drew them.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind people having Halloween-type fantasies of how I dress up at night and wonder if the darkness I write about exists within me. It’s all part of the process of reaching into a person’s psyche and messing with their suspension of belief.
My ‘moll’ tells me that I am dressing as a gangster for Halloween, spats and all. She’s going as a flapper. I hope the next day I don’t wake up in Al Capone’s gang, Tommy gun in my mitts, in prohibition-era Chicaga!
In my novel, The God Particle, the forces of Science and Religion are pitted against one another in a battle as old as Copernicus and the Catholic Church.
The conflict between Science and Religion has been raging throughout history and reflected in the art and literature of every culture. Even in movies, i.e., Inherit the Wind.The two sides are dug in, each convinced that their understanding of the way things came about, the way things are and what will happen next, is the correct version of the “Truth.”
Embarking on a book that had as its subtitle, “The Super-Collision of Science, Religion and Terror,” I quickly realized I’d better know that of which I write. The overwhelming conclusion from my research for The God Particle is that religion is dismissed by intellectuals as a myth, a fairy tale, and the opiate of the masses. Implicit in that designation was that the “masses” were “Asses.” That perception is based on the statement, “Science is fact…period!” All other explanations are inventions of fantasy for those of lesser intelligence to wrap themselves in. Truth be told, that’s the kind of proposition you’d expect from Science, where proof, logic and empirical data rule the roost.
On the other side, although not as prevalent, are many of those in the Faith/Religion camp who are of the opinion that it is, in fact, Science that is mentally incapable of fathoming the inescapable conclusion that there is intelligent design. That there was a divine hand in all of this, mixing the primordial soup that was the nascent universe. These “believers in God” find comfort and solace in their religious belief that all of this is not an accident of a cosmic chemistry set being driven by Newtonian forces to cool and congeal into “Everything.”
But last week, Science took a bad hit.The scientific fact that the universe was created in a Big Bang event 13 billion years ago has been rocked to its molten core. So indelible, so entrenched was this “Truth,” that Nobel Prizes were awarded for two engineers from AT&T who discovered the echoes of the Big Bang in the far outer reaches of the universe. That’s how cocksure Science was of its facts. And Yet…
So where does that leave the debate? Well, to me it means that Scientists, Intellectuals and adopters of the scientific method and it’s rock solid conclusions, turn out to be just as prone to myth as the “religious believers” except the science-based people believe in a different myth. A scientifically provable myth! But their scientific proof is only as good as the method they use. Being human scientists, the only insight they gain is built upon assumptions in science made earlier. In other words, science-minded folks derive comfort in their myth because it is proven by their own math, logic and evolving science (whose metamorphosis’s is built upon the very same expanding science doctrine, so it has the incestuous ability to compound any error made in the first steps, i.e.: The Big Bang) Another ironic way to look at this is that the blind devotion to scientific logic is fallible because an earlier error or misdiagnosis, leads to revised theories and are then used as “Gospel” in proving the next logical step or advancement of scientific doctrine.
So in the end, The Big Bang has lead to the Big Mess. Science has been proven by its own methods to be just as mythically based as Religion. Therefore, can the claim now be made that scientists are the priests and shaman of a belief system that is just as fanciful a faith-based doctrine, as those who they accuse of being religious? The only difference being that their religion of science is one that excludes God.Nonetheless, what we learned last week was that science’s “facts” are just as suspect as those tenets of their religious counterparts.
Now, not that I am a genius, but I saw this coming. Way back in my research I realized that there is no way to win, prove or even be ahead in this debate between religion and science. No matter what side you are on, it’s circular. But, I did do one thing that was genius; I quoted one. In the very first pages of The God Particle you’ll find this quote, the smartest thing anybody ever said about the issue, from a member of the Scientific Hall of Fame no less:
All Religion, Arts and Sciences are branches of the same tree. – Albert Einstein.
Years back I wrote a screenplay called, Looking Glass. It was my first ever effort at writing something longer than a school composition. Which I sucked at, ergo, writing wasn’t something I embraced until I was 28. Back then I had an idea based on the fact that a friend of mine’s father was the twin of a venerated academy award-winning actor – which no one was aware of at the time. The time being the pre-Internet, pre-social media days of the eighties. Anyway, armed with this secret, I imagined an epiphanous scene in a movie that as yet had no story or plot. The scene was the here-to-fore impossible shot of an actor and his doppelgänger coming face to face as the camera does a 360 all around them. Everyone in 1982 would have scratched their heads as to how we managed to do that shot. Today you can do it on a laptop!
But I “progress,” – So then the question was “what’s the plot” to put around this “socko” scene. Here’s what I came up with: what if my “twinned” star is a top Air Force pilot. So good he is the chief pilot of Air Force One. Then he gets a promotion! To a secret plane, more important than AF1. More dangerous, more expensive, more movie box office value. I called it, Looking Glass. I made it a converted 747 with the interior that rivaled a large nuclear submarine. Packed with electronics, defensive measures and the power to launch, run and win a nuclear war. I gave it technical “gee whiz” powers that were beyond that of any plane. Or so I thought. Turns out, I nailed one of the biggest secret programs ever. It was not even known to certain defense contractors, who at first commented on how my script was pure fiction, but then recanted with their tail between their legs as they dug deeper into a black program that turned out was my Looking Glass movie plane.
Why bring this up now? Forbes Magazine just ran a story;
It’s an article about how the Air Force is now seeking funding for upgrading the E4B NEACP. My baby, the one I designed in my screenplay. You see, as I pointed out in The Eighth Day;
At first blush, nuclear weapons research seemed a relic of America’s
paranoid, mutually assured destructive past…even though the Cold War
ended nearly two decades before, one tiny troublesome fact remained.
It seemed someone forgot to tell the Russian Strategic Rocket Force,
its commanders, and their nineteen missile divisions to go home,
it was all over. Instead, the Soviet’s mega death-tipped SS-20s and the
like were still targeted at Main Street, U.S.A., just like in the bad old days.
Our politicians had moved this undiminished nuclear threat to the back
burners of America’s collective consciousness, primarily by negotiating
away atmospheric and below-ground testing. It was good public relations
but it did nothing to reduce the stockpile of overkill both nations stored away
like dangerous nuts for a nuclear winter.
So, “news flash,” in terms of nuclear war, it’s still 1962. Nothing has changed. The nuclear sword of Damocles is still poised over our heads. The “nuclear clock” is still a few ticks from midnight. All that has changed in over 50 years is, no bomb shelters, no kids practicing going under their desks and putting there hands over their heads and no Conelrad Alerts. (look it up if you are under 40)
In my movie, there was always one Looking Glass plane in the air at all times… after all it was right in the middle of the cold war… Now a quote from today’s article (or my screenplay; take your pick);
…the media have ceased paying attention to the most likely way in which America might one day disappear forever.
America’s military hasn’t. One of the four doomsday planes is kept on continuous alert and manned at all times.
Later in the article:
U.S. military planners take this threat so seriously that when the president [Mr. Obama] goes overseas, one of the doomsday planes always follows. It needs to be nearby at all times, as does the military aide within a few yards of the president carrying nuclear launch codes and communications gear.
So there you have it, the moment when, “It’s Only Fiction ‘til It Happens,” was born. I will leave you with this new appreciation of an old recurring nightmare. Sleep tight.
Extra Credit worries: In that same screenplay back in 1982, religious fundamentalists conspired to hijack Looking Glass and start a nuclear war killing all the infidels by replacing my acting twin with his brother in that great scene!
Read the full article that nuclear weapons haven’t gone away here
Click above for the latest episode of the Accidental Author and hear me discuss the following • Backstory to the Bill Hiccock “Thrillogy” • Passion-the essential element to being a good writer • Perfection – the enemy of good.
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Happy Thanksgiving! Here’s our normally Thursday posting, today. Click above for the latest installment of The Accidental Author. In this episode: How to start and get through a first draft. A great quote from one of the biggest author’s around and how to see your writing as an art form. Did you miss an episode? Click here for episode 2 and here for episode 1.
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