The Longshot by Katie Kitamura

Kitamura’s first book focuses on Cal, a mixed martial artist who’s just crested the hill of “this kid is great” and started the descent into “this kid’s a has-been”. The story takes place over the course of a few days leading up to a big fight, and witnesses the slow tension build with Cal and his manager Riley as they prepare to face the sport’s most dominant fighter, Rivera.

It’s not so much a Rocky-type story as it is a documentary of sorts. You’re with Cal as he prepares to do the only thing he knows how to do (fight) and slowly shuts down all other aspects of his life as the big day approaches. He’s grappling with himself through the whole story in a search for purpose, a need to understand himself and why he puts his body through this torture. His manager Riley is a father figure to him, a man who wants nothing but the best for Cal, but who also has to deal with the fact that Cal’s destruction is part of the job. He doesn’t want to see Cal hurt, but he can’t tell him to scrap the fight, either.
The build-up to the big night is slow, focusing on a lot of the mundane details that come with travel, training, sparring, and mental preparation. The fight itself, like any good MMA brawl, is short and shocking, and the ending leaves you to ponder what has been won and lost.

I got my ass kicked by a drunk superhero!

So I helped crew a shoot for a series of webisodes recently. Pretty cool concept – superheroes with substance abuse issues. You can catch up on Episodes I-III at the homepage for The Sanctum.
Anyway, I also got to do a bit part here as a background actor. I’m in a bar, and so is a drunken superhero (my friend Adam). I’m the guy who sounds like a muppet and gets thrown around. Enjoy!

I don’t want to jinx things…

…but the Bengals have now won four games in a row! Unfortunately, they’re playing ultra scrappy come from behind football. I’ve never known a team to earn the nickname “Cardiac” to perform well into the playoffs. I remember Commander Cody and his Cardiac Kid Oilers, the Cardiac Colts, the list goes on and on. None of those teams went to the Super Bowl, and few of them were in contention come playoff time. The Bengals need to buckle down as bye week approaches, and find a way to command and control a game from start to finish.

The good news is, their stretch run at the moment looks super easy. Apart from the Chargers and Vikings, the last weeks of the season are Raiders, Browns, Lions, Chiefs, and Jets. Barring catastrophe, we’re going to have a winning record this season…

Every Dead Thing by John Connolly

I’m not big on mystery/detective fiction, mainly because I’m not a super fast reader. My busy schedule means longer books can take me 2-4 weeks to read, and trying to retain names, clues, and multiple plotlines isn’t easy. In most detective stories, everyone is a suspect, so every name and every action gains heightened importance.

Connolly’s book is a sprawling tale that takes place in New York and New Orleans (mostly) but it’s structured in such a way that it almost feels like three books collected in one volume. Detective Charlie “Bird” Parker’s family was brutally murdered on a night when he was out boozing. His wife and daughter were flayed alive, their corpses left in ghoulish poses in his kitchen, faces removed.
Years later, Parker is a freelance detective hired to track a missing girl. Searching for her also begins to uncover clues to the killer who evaded him so long ago, taking him south to New Orleans. Everywhere he goes, he brings trouble, as each step closer to the missing girl brings him deeper into trouble with local crime families, local police, the FBI, and ultimately, his family’s killer. The book takes a few unexpected twists, about halfway through the person I thought would be revealed as the killer is taken out of the story. It’s difficult to discuss specific plot points without revealing too much information, but the book definitely kept me guessing until the end.
There are some cliche elements as well, structured a bit like bad ’80s action movies, but it added to the grit of it all. For a 500 page book, it’s fast paced, fun, and fairly easy to follow, even for a mystery novice like me.

Two More Wheels of Fury

In an effort to up my fitness regimen, I bought a bicycle last night. I searched Craigslist at first, but was disappointed by what I saw (ie bikes that look nothing like the photo in the listing). I figured that I could spend around 200 on a good name craigslist bike (Giant or schwinn or some such), or just spend the same and get a new “lower-end” good bike.

I got a Diamondback Edgewood hybrid bike. The hybrid, apparently, denoted a style somewhere between a road bike built for speed and a touring bike built for comfort. After my ride today, I can report it’s more like a ten-speed without the fancy curvy handlebars. I hope by this point you’re in awe of my technical bike jargon.
Anyway. First ride tonight, Playa del Rey to Manhattan Beach, roughly 10 miles round-trip. Getting there was pretty easy, but about 1/4 of the way back I realized I hadn’t done any serious biking since grad school and things slowed down. All in all, this will be one more element in my quest to get to a decent weight by my 35th birthday. Finances allowing, I want to add some kind of combat sport to the regimen (kickboxing or MMA). I’ll try to bring my camera along for the next ride…

Who Dey?

I’m pretty much a mountain of fail this weekend, and every project fell short except for one. I’m not a happy camper at this prospect.

But, in lighter news, the Bengals beat the Stealers (no typo there)!
I have about 5 useful hours left in today to edit a journal, write a screenplay, and design a bunch of webpages, and that’s only going to happen if the world leaves me alone and in perfect silence, which it never does.

Doin’ Work.

I’m trying to be a bit more consistent here, even if there’s not much to report…

Tonight, I’m checking out a screening of a friend’s movie in Hollywood, should be good times. The weekend is nigh, with football and other things to entertain. I am determined to finish this damn short script if it kills me. I also have to finish putting together ColoredChalk, and hopefully start writing a couple of other things as well. I’m doing my best to start sectioning off my day, scheduling time to do everything I need to do. It would help if I didn’t have so many interruptions…but that’s life, I guess.

Writing on Location (or, help, I’m in Jail!)

I’m planning to shoot a short film later this year and had need of a rooftop location. Why not an abandoned jail? Well, that’s what e in the business call “a hook”. The jail isn’t abandoned, per se, rather it’s not used as a jail anymore. However, the city does allow people to film there. My friend Adam told me about it and invited me over to scout it while he was monitoring a film shoot. Seems like the perfect place. I was having trouble moving forward with my script, so Adam invited me out again, this time to hang out on the roof and do some actual writing. Right through the door, there’s a constant reminder that you’re in a place designed to keep people in…

…and once you hit the stairwell, you realize that assorted gangs and homeless people have been all over the place in here. The last level going up is in pitch darkness, and I caught this little graffiti on my ascent into the shadows…

It’s an interesting exercise, sitting on a roof, surrounded by barbed wire and chainlink, the sun mercilessly beating down from above… but it gave me a few breakthroughs.

I’ve scrapped the new direction I had going with the script and brought it back to my original concept. I also managed to get ideas for a couple of other things to shoot up there, conceptualized a film festival/screening idea of sorts if I can get everything to take off the way I’d like… At any rate, here’s the location.
One guy, one girl, one last chance at romance (if impending suicide doesn’t ruin the whole thing). With any luck, I’ll be blogging about how you can get your hands on a DVD copy of the whole thing soon! on the way down, in the pitch black stairwell, I couldn’t help recalling the rumors of the haunted nature of the jail. This tag on the ceiling (H LP – surely a gang tag, and not the last frantic scrawlings of a poltergeist victim HeLP!)
Emboldened, I did a little more ScoobyDooing around the place for spooky pictures. Hopefully my next report from jail will be an “on the set” piece!
Perhaps next time I’ll see what’s at the bottom of these stairs…never to return…

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