You Wrote a Bad Song

There’s a pop song in the heavy rotation over here, called “Bad Day”. I suspect it is popular over on the other side of the pond as well. It is an inoffensive little tune, a bit on the catchy side, and were it not played so often I would have never even noticed it. There’s nothing wrong with catchy little tunes; that describes much of the Beatles’ output, and now they are considered one of the greatest pop bands ever.

So while I don’t hate the song, I woke up with it in my head this morning and soon thereafter some alternate lyrics blossomed in my caffeinated cranium:

You Wrote a Bad Song
(to the tune of Bad Day)

You wrote up a pop song and you knew it was crap,
A helping of saccharine and whole lot of sap,
The artist within you said ‘no way’,
Throw that piece of crap away,
But that’s not how how you earn your paaaaaay…

You wrote a bad song,
You pushed it too far,
But now it’s on the charts
and it’s made you a star

You wrote a bad song
You made some new friends
but now they want to know
when you’ll do it again

Because you’ve known it all along,
You wrote a bad song.

You sit at your keyboard and play with some notes,
But all of the lyrics stick in your throat
Everything that you write that blows
Will be played on the radio,
But that’s now how you want to be knoooooooooown…

You wrote a bad song
You pushed it too far,
But now it’s on the charts
And it’s made you a star.

A million people CAN be wrong,
You wrote a bad song.

Sometimes when you’re thinking late at night,
You wonder what went wrong,
You remember how happy your were the time
The radio first played your song
They played your song…

So where is dispassion when you need it the most?
Why can’t the artist just give up the ghost?
You know if you do it all your way
Play what you really want to play
All your brain-dead fans will saaaaaaaaay…

You wrote a bad song
You pushed it to far
We came to hear candy
And you’re giving us art

Yeah, You wrote a bad song
You pushed it too far
But now it’s on the charts
And it’s made you a star

You wrote a bad song…
You wrote a bad song…
You wrote a bad song…
[Repeat many, many times, fade out]

NaNoWriMo Kerplop!

Normally December for me is a time of hectic productivity for me. Each NaNoWriMo leaves me with tremendous momentum and a story in the vault that likely would never have been written otherwise. I am reminded to write without fear, to get the ideas down and worry about the niceties later. I’ve been away from my main projects for a month and there are things I been looking forward to fixing in them, or new ideas on how to give a particular bit of dialog some extra wallop.

Not this year. I’ll make the word count goal again for the fifth straight year, but given my current lifestyle, that’s no big deal at all. I expect there are very few months in which I don’t write 50,000 words.

There are several reasons for this, I suppose. for one thing, this will be the last time I write anything I dare call a novel without planning it carefully first. I can see the germ of a really fun story in what I did this November, with some true Douglas Adams-style blink-blink moments of complete cultural disorientation that power forward what really is a funny story. Or at least it would be funny if there weren’t vast sections of it that just don’t fit together, and lots and lots of filler, and a few spots that just plain suck.

Another, bigger, reason is that with one novel complete, and another approaching completion (um… sort of…), I am forced to recognize that in the long run adding another unpublished work in the hopper isn’t moving me forward professionally. So as a significant annual milestone I have to look back on the year and take stock of my progress. I finished a novel. The whole damn thing. On the way I deleted and rewrote hundreds of pages, honing the language while (hopefully) not eradicating the soul. So that’s a good thing.

It is far less than I had set for myself to accomplish in the last year, however. According to the timetable I set out at the end of last November, I am supposed to be finished with The Test, and well under way with my American Road Novel, tentatively titled The Fish. The Test has some brilliant moments (if I do say so myself), but lacks structure. It’s taken longer than I expected to get it under control, but that’s all right. It’s big, and one of my challenges right now is to split it into two satisfying stories. (I will not put out of these so-called “series” which is really just a single, rambling story. I hate getting to the end of a book only to discover that when I shelled out my money for a story, I only got a fraction of a tale. Or, worse, buying a book and finding myself in the middle of a story with no clue what’s going on and who the hell all these people are. But I digress.) So, okay, writing a novel (at least one that doesn’t suck) takes a long time.

The business part of my chosen profession is a bigger problem, however. It is languishing. I have identified likely agents, identified their requirements and prioritized which ones to approach first. The shotgun method is not appreciated, so this will be a time-consumong process. Well, it would be time-consuming if I was spending any time on it. At the rate I’m going now, the ETA (estimated time of agentedness) is, um… (… carry the four, take the hypotenuse…) infinity.

So this December, rather than pick up my real writing projects, I think I’m going to take that energy and channel it where it needs to go. It is a measure of how much I like my “job” that I can use allowing myself to work as a reward when I make progress in other areas.

A Dream Within A Dream

I was talking to Soup Boy this morning, asking him if he knew of a place here in the ‘hood where I could send a fax. Sure, there are places in the next neighborhood over, but it’s a cold, rainy day, the kind where you just want to hole up in your favorite café and write. Public transportation is efficient, so it’s not really a problem to go elsewhere.

“People who live in Prague don’t get out into the real world much,” Soup Boy said, “but you don’t even see Prague.

Gotta be there

It’s the little things – the timing that could be a wee bit better, the fill-in radio chatter that needs to be written, the F-117 keychain hanging on my wall that’s needed for a shot. The way they are afraid to push the music forward when atmosphere is more important than realism. Not to mention, Charles the Second needs his Becherovka.

I spent two months on the production of Pirates of the White Sand, and it would be difficult to point to any one thing and say, “Dang! Jerry kicked ass right there.” (Aside from my part of the writing, of course, but that happened long before.) I was (so I tell myself), a general lift to the entire production, leaving very small marks everywhere. There was the general good feeling on the set. I provided pure pie-in-the-sky American Dream. Pirates was not a goal but a vehicle, a stepping stone to something grander. The film was itself theCrusader, a pirate ship ready to storm pop culture. I painted a vision so grand that no one else could be embarrassed for dreaming big. I did that. And honestly, I’m a little bummed that that didn’t show up more in the raw footage. There was sloppiness there that didn’t echo the belief that we were building a new pop-culture franchise.

The last day when, after my incessant whining, we set things up so the pirates could do some serious shouting, it was golden. (Credit must also be given to a crew who gave us a day to go back and do stuff like that.)

Also, I brought an enormous number of breakfast burritos for the crew. And a machine gun.

The part where Moab says “lay a course for the Sierra Madres”? I happened to be paying attention just then, made a comment, and then C-2 used that to change the cut by a fraction of a second, and it was better. So most of the credit goes to Chuck II, because he had the skill and immediately knew what I was talking about. Dude knows his shit. Not to take away from fuego, he was there too, and it was actually a pretty tough cut. They worked together on it for quite a while. I really came to appreciate how many hours of post production go into each second of film you see.

But I made the comment. They probably don’t need me for that so much now that they have time to be picky, but I bet there are places in the flow of things that they are just used to, places where they understand more than the audience, that could be better. I know that’s the way with my writing.

And there are the relationships. I was on the ground for the Duke City Shootout longer than they were, and I just got comfortable with people. It doesn’t sound like they are having any trouble in that regard, but they are dealing with people I would like to see again, whether or not my participation would be helpful. If you’ve been paying attention, you know who I’m talking about.

When it comes right down to it, while intellectually I have surrendered the vision of the story to people with the skills to make it happen, emotionally I am still wrapped up in the thing. I hear reports from far away, encouraging noises, and I know things are in good hands. Skilled hands. Passionate hands.

Just not my hands.


Girls Night Out at the Bowling Alley

I may have to start a new category in this here bolg: Observations in a bowling alley. There’s always something new to see here.

Tonight the writing has been especially difficult, for it is, indeed, girl’s night out. There is a large group of them, dominating four of the six lanes, and from my vantage point far above, each bowler provides her own unique distraction. For some, it is simple physical attraction. Others have a unique bowling style. One, a dark-haired cutie wearing 60’s-style striped pants, has the pendulum delivery.

There is another, her long, black hair tinted red, wearing glasses, a t-shirt and stone-washed jeans, who is quite obviously used to being good at things. She approaches bowling with the intensity of a serious athlete. It is interesting watching someone who is accustomed to excelling facing a task at which she does not excel. Her own expectation is still there.

All the women below me suck at bowling. I imagine it might be the first time for some of them. I’m pretty sure it’s the first time for athlete girl.

Here’s why I think so. In their first game, she was horrible. She dropped the ball so it rolled behind her. Gutter, gutter, gutter. She’s on her third game now, and she’s laying the ball down gracefully, almost silently, and she is following through with her hand high in the air. No one taught her this. Much of the time, the ball rolls straight and true, and she’s working on a score I would be satisfied with.

I hate people like that.

Programming note

I have the cover over at Piker Press this week. I don’t always mention when I’m published over there, but this one I rather like more than half the time.

Although there was one edit I wanted to make before it went live, and then I just plan forgot. D’oh!

The Night of the Big Game

It was early when I got to the little café near home. My batteries were already somewhat depleted and I didn’t have my power cord with me, so I didn’t figure on it being a long night.

The place was almost empty when I got there; the only two tables that were taken were the ones I normally gravitate toward. One is directly beneath the TV and close to the outlet, and the one next to it also has good access to electricity. They are both by the window, which can be chilly, but when things get smoky it’s a blessing. They also happen to be the tables that are most out of the way when things start to get crowded. (There are only six tables in all.) That didn’t seem like it was going to be an issue, however.

Soon, though, people started to arrive. One regular took over one of the two tables that can accommodate more than two people, and rounded up extra chairs. The other larger table was usurped soon after. There was talk of turning on the television. At first I thought people were gathering to watch Velký Bratr, the absurdly popular Czech version of Big Brother. Absurdly popular doesn’t even begin to describe it. Then I realized the gathering crowd was all male, except for a small knot of three girlfriends huddling up at the far end of the bar. Sports, then.

I put my head down into my story and raced the batteries. Just as the laptop gave it up, the game was starting. Fotbol. Soccer to the Americans in the audience. It was a big game, I knew, because the Czech Republic, an early favorite to qualify for the World Cup, had lost a couple of important games and was now fighting for one of the last spots.

The graphic came up on the screen: Norway vs. Czech Republic. Wait a minute, they just played Norway the other day. Is this a rerun? Luckily I did not know how to ask anyone and therefore display my ignorance. It was a two-game playoff, the winner going to the big dance.

It was crowded in there by then, but I decided to hang out and watch a bit of the game and see what words I could pick out of the conversations around me. People kept arriving, and when the game got boring there was plenty of activity around me to provide entertainment. By halftime I was sharing the table with a pair of drunk kids in their early twenties.

At the half, an older guy, a fixture at one of the barstools, saw I wasn’t working and came over and asked in czech, “Why aren’t you working? Where’s your computer?” I started to answer, but he had already assumed I couldn’t understand him and had turned to other regulars to translate. It took some time for me to get the six people all translating differently at once to understand that I understood in the first place, so they would stop explaining and let me answer. “batteries are kaput,” I said in Czech, (although the ‘Kaput’ may have been German).

“You need batteries? Batteries? I’ll get us some batteries!”

“He’s buying you a shot,” one of the kids said in English.

I knew that already. I don’t know if “Batteries” is common slang for shots or if it’s just one of those cases where anything would have been taken as a euphamism for booze. No matter, moments later I was holding a shot of Becherovka.

The night did not descend into a long and painful trail of trading shots. The game started, the game ended, the Czechs won, I talked to the drunk kids some more, I managed a few sentences in Czech, and fun was had by all. The bar closed at eleven on the dot, and we all went home.

In the two days since, I have studied my Czech harder than ever. I felt it while I was there. I was close. Afterwards I thought of many things I could have said had I had the presence of mind to dig the words up. A few more words, maybe throw in the past tense (which I hear is pretty easy), and I can have conversations in czech. Slow, painful, conversations, but that’s OK. Once I cross that threshold, I think things will speed up as I get more meaningful practice.

Today as I was walking I was greeted warmly by one of the Little Café regulars as I passed him on the street. It was early yet, and the Little Café was not yet open, so he was heading for the Budvar Pub on the next corner.

The soul-sucking power of Stuff

I have met many people who are owned by their possessions. I married one. (Before you get too carried away figuring names, you should know I’ve been married twice.) I watched the spirit be enslaved by atoms and I vowed not to fall under the same spell.

If you saw how much crap I have in storage, you’d know just how well I have done. In my defense, I gave away furniture, books, bags and bags of clothes, and anything else I could bear to unload. On an American scale, I chucked it in. I consider what is left the seed for the next home I own. Yeah, I know I’m rationalizing.

But there’s one thing, one physical object that I really should shed. Atoms. A machine. A car.

I sit here in Prague and extol the virtues of public transportation while clinging to a two-seater sports car. You have to cut me some slack; I crossed continents in that car, saw things, met folks, almost slid off the road and off a cliff in a Canadian hailstorm. And this is how things come to own you. They become containers of memories. Symbols.

Some are symbols of wealth or power; the Rolex doesn’t do much for me. The beautiful sports car that is too valuable to drive, I can do without. Some things are symbols of accomplishments of other sorts – having the largest collection of bobblehead dolls on the Eastern Seaboard requires a great deal of dedication, but in the end, I’ll pass.

There is the One Treasured Thing. Here is a sort of material possession (possession is a verb there) that I can appreciate. I envy people the One Treasured Thing. It is an item of such deep personal significance that it passes beyond symbolism and becomes identity. It is part of who you are. The One Treasured Thing is much more than a simple thing.

The test: I could always buy another car. Therefore it is not a One Treasured Thing. But still I am reluctant to let go. Someday, I conceitedly imagine, that road trip I took in that car will inform the next great American road story, and that particular car will become an American icon. I am perfectly aware how ridiculous that conceit is, but to deny it would be to devalue my one work under way that might actually qualify as literature.

In Prince George, British Columbia, I was waiting at a traffic light, top down to the Canadian summer, car packed to the gills. The guy in the next lane towered over me, and looked down into my packed-full little car. “You need a truck,” he said.

“No, I need less crap,” I wish I answered.

I don’t need a car, I need to believe. And so a thing has become symbolic, unreasonably so, and it has trapped me.

This morning I dreamt I was sleeping.

Doubly restful!

The Ex-Pat Game

In the previous post I mentioned that on a Sunday morning in the center of Prague you will find many more English speakers than Czech speakers. Soup Boy and I were in Kava Kava Kava, and because we ordered in Czech, the waitress told us the network password verbally, rather than writing it down. She left us to our geeky devices, and I wondered aloud about capitalization. A guy nearby said, “You should have just asked the computer guy,” in a louder-than-necessary voice, and handed me a slip of paper with the password written on it.

“Thanks,” I said, and turned back to my work.

“I’m just happy to hear some English,” he said. “I’ve been in Ukraine for seven months.” And so began the Ex-Pat Game. When you meet any traveler who had been abroad for a long time, one of the first questions they will ask you is, “How long have you been here?” In this game you gain status among other Ex-Pats if you have been abroad longer and if you have been to more exotic places. Noticeably lacking, at least among American Ex-Pats, are questions like “How many languages do you know?”, which might indicate someone who is not traveling with an insulating buffer of Americanness, but is rather making an attempt to integrate with the local culture.

This guy became increasingly annoying as he told everyone who would listen about his time in Ukraine. “They’re so fucked up!” he said over and over. “They have no clue at all!” The Englishman who had luckily installed himself at the table between us attempted to engage him. “The thing to do,” he said, “is when you see something that is obvious to you but not to them, think of it as a business opportunity.” I don’t think the Brit realized – or perhaps he did but still felt the need to fight the good fight – was that Ukranus was playing the Ex-Pat Game, and wasn’t really interested in constructive solutions. He was interested in being an expert, a worldly man, a voice of reason in a land of chaos. Someone Who Knows More Than You Do.

The Unimpressed Ex-Pat is also part of the game, and that’s the part I play. It’s easy, because I’m not acting. It really is frightfully easy to move to another country and live. Certainly it is easier for an American with no Czech to move to Prague than for a Czech who knows no English to move to San Diego. I give myself the right to be an unimpressed ex-pat as long as I remain unimpressed with myself as well. Soup Boy and I sat, unaffectedly unimpressed, trying to ignore the guy as he found new people to tell he had been in Ukraine, and how messed up it was there, and about how he was going back in a few days. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Of course Soup Boy and I talked about a lot of Ex-Pat stuff, too. I mean, heck, this place is different, and it’s about the only thing we have in common (OK, not true. We both know that life is mildly ridiculous, and if you can see that, the rest doesn’t matter). If it was the same as everywhere else, we wouldn’t be here. For me, a guy who doesn’t get out much, the differences are less significant, except for the cost of living, but still it’s fun to compare and contrast cultures. Occasionally I was aware of Ukranus listening in, and I realized that, consciously or no, I was still playing the game. I very much wanted him to know that I’d been around a bit as well, so he could stop trying to impress me. I tell myself that I just wanted peace and quiet, but come on, there’s more to it than that.

There is another community of ex-pats here. Poets, musicians, and so on. There are a few of them I have met that I actually like (the ones who do not fit the following description, and there are thankfully several), and at least a couple are even talented, but as much as a long-term ex-pat will put on airs, the long-term ex-pat artiste can make for a long night at the coffee shop. If their conversation measured up their pretensions they would be a fun and challenging crowd to hang out with, but in the end it is just another extension of the Ex-Pat Game. To be fair, some of the gap is because we have very different backgrounds – I am not nearly as well-read or well-filmed as the rest of them. I don’t remember names well. It stops a lot of discussions short. But I sit and listen to them talk, even among themselves, and I swear I am the only one listening to any of it. Often the conversation is not a dialog but a pair of monologues. The whole game is to come up with something you have read that the other has not, and then expound the virtues of that work. “I’ve read Plato!” starts to sound a lot like “I’ve been in Ukraine for seven months!”

I’d rather sit by myself and get something done, thanks.

So a couple days ago I revived my Czech studies, for four reasons. First and foremost, it’s only polite to speak the language of your hosts. Second, it’s interesting. Third, I’m not finding that many people to hang with among the ranks of the English-speaking residents. Not that I hang out much anyway – Big D, one of the least pretentious and most likable people I’ve ever met, must think by now I’m shining him on. Finally, as an Unimpressed Ex-Pat, I can score a lot of points in the Ex-Pat Game with the question, “How is your Czech?”

Oh, yeah, and there are a lot of pretty bartenders who don’t speak English.

Sunday Morning in Prague

I’m at a popular coffee shop near the center of town. I’ve not been here before; it’s out of my ‘hood, but if you want Internet on a Sunday morning, options are limited. So, I’ve been out and about this morning. Everyone I have seen or heard falls into one of two categories: Americans and people being paid to serve Americans. No right-minded Praguite would be out on a Sunday morning.


I’ve been sitting at the Little Cave Near Home (typo retained), and people have been coming and going. I’m not going to explain all the interconnections (I couldn’t even if I wanted to), but there was a dude, and there was a chick. She was very pretty, blonde, here to support her girlfriend who was pissed off at her boyfriend. (By the way, if that were in czech, the pronoun ambiguity would have been automatically resolved. And I would not have been able to say ‘would have been’.)

Dude paused behind the girl’s chair. He played with her hair briefly, she didn’t complain. He made vague scratching motions at the tops of her biceps, and she didn’t respond, so he moved on. The message he gave: I want to touch you, but I haven’t the slightest clue how to give pleasure. They did not leave together.

Now me writing about the Art of Love is somewhat like George Bush on the Art of Diplomacy (and I wish we were both better at each, but let’s face it, neither of us is getting much practice), but from where I was I could tell he wanted to send her one message but instead sent the opposite. Or perhaps sent an extra message he didn’t intend.

It got me to thinking about hands. Not just the deaf and hula dancers speak with them, we all do, and, with varying degrees of skill, we give pleasure with our hands as well. Sure, you’ve got some other tools in your belt that can give great pleasure but most of those parts are greedy, more eager to be stimulated. If you want to get all analytical about it, your hands are for giving (although I once had a hand massage that was mind-expanding).

There’s a misunderstanding about hands that goes back to junior high. Did you touch it? It being the next mysterious organ on the list. Neither toucher nor touchee benefitted much except on the scorecard.

Ask Jesus. Hands are for giving, and when you touch someone you’re interested in, no matter how casually, that person should subtly know, “those hands know how to give”.

I mentioned above that he played with her hair. Perhaps better to say he kind of flapped it around, never thinking about how the nerve endings are in her scalp. Lots of nerve endings there. One of life’s simple pleasures is having someone else wash your hair. Nonetheless, and all the more frustrating, she was appreciative of the attention. Then came the vague and ineffective scratching attempts. That moment defined any relationship they hight have, and it made him the simpering bitch.

Certainly she was open to his advances, but he blew it, and he blew it in a classically czech way. I actually had my ass out of my chair to correct him before I stopped myself. He was past the part that I do so horribly – first contact – and on to my strongest suit. The fingers that type this are able to please. The best part about hands as a sexual organ is that they are the givers, and they can give pure physical pleasure that is not at all sexual. So I watched a guy tonight overcome that first threshold, stumbling into my wheelhouse and collapsing.

Alternatives off the top of my head:
anatomically knowledgeable upper back rub. Message: Ain’t no if’s and why’s or buts, I can make you feel good.
moving from the vague hair mainpulation to a fleeting scalp scratch. Message: I, also, am sensual.
a very light sweeping motion that starts high on the neck and drifts across the shoulder, lingers, and departs. Maybe.

There must be a thousand other messages to give that are less lame than the one he pulled off. I’m not trying to give anyone a formula for love. Those who know me will vouch that I am the last guy for that. I’ve been married and all, but the fact I’m not married anymore is all you need to know. There is no formula. If there was, I would have derived it by now, ’cause I think way too much already.

Wait, I lied, there is a formula for love, but I can’t write it here because you have to discover you own formula for yourself. Then you have to teach your partner, because they won’t know if you don’t guide them to the promised land. The most horrible thing you can do to your partner is expect them to understand.

Up there somewhere I was talking about hands. I’m looking at my hands now. I’m pretty happy with ’em. These fingers, once my brain overcomes the almost impossibly steep first-contact threshold, they do all right. I am perhaps unjustifiably proud of my ability to rub backs, scalps, and especially feet. Oh, yeah, I do feet. Back I do well, except, oddly, with Amz. Hers is the only back I’ve ever met where my fingers cannot automatically discover the secrets that lie there in tension. Perhaps, in that case, I am the timid one. Or maybe she’s even more messed up than I am.

Nothin’ says it can’t be both.

Another Geeky Moment

They say you can tell a lot about a person by the books on his bookshelf. Tonight during a period of navel-gazing I wondered what one could conclude about the bookmarks saved in my browser. In the end, I decided “Prime Numbers from 2 to 999,983” is my geekiest bookmark, but I’m not the only geek out there, not by a long shot. What’s yours?

The episode that wasn’t

It’s an interesting story, surely. It has all the elements a good story needs – technology, a baseball bat, beer, and lingerie. But… it belongs elsewhere. So hopefully by providing the previous lurid tease I can leave it behind and get back to the business at hand. And in November, uninformed political raving is replaced by NaNoWriMo as the Single Most Tedious Blog Subject.

So let’s talk about NaNoWriMo, shall we? How many others out there have trained their spelling checkers to recognize this word? Today I haven’t been as prolific (yet), but I still managed to cross 10K here on day three. The story is just plain writing itself. I’m not one of those writers who just rambles on and lets characters surprise them with their behavior (well, if you don’t count the eels); I’ve got plans for these folks. But things are coming together nicely. My biggest concern is that the wisdom of some of the people is showing too early, while they’re just supposed to be caricatures. But that’s a rich man’s problem. There is wisdom.

It is not laugh-a-minute funny, but (if you ask me) it is coming out nicely. It’s that half-smile nudge-nudge funny. I only have to sustain it for 27 more days.

Enough of that. On a less happy note, there are a bazillion NaNoWriMo folks using Jer’s Novel Writer, and there’s a bug. People have lost work. The bug has been lying dormant for a while, but wouldn’t you know it? It’s in the word count feature. Suddenly, in November, people are very, very interested in their word count.

I got a rather irate message from some guy about losing a whole night’s work. It’s bad, and I’m not trying to duck out on folks who have a lot going on, but who the hell uses beta software all night without hitting save once? Maybe because I am often using very dodgy versions of the software I’m more save-conscious, but I’ve been a saver from way back. I just don’t trust these damn machines. You have backed up your work recently, haven’t you?

Happily, earlier today I finally found the problem. I had seen the evidence before, but tonight I turned my thinking ninety degrees and saw the answer. Tomorrow I will release a better version of the software. Meanwhile I’m sure there are posts all over the place warning people away from JNW. I can’t blame them. Once I discovered the problem, I posted warnings myself. Still, there’s a black eye there to overcome.

And finally, as we’re cleaning up the odds and ends, I must tell you that the Non-Stop Snack Bar is really the Herna Snack Bar. It doesn’t say Non-Stop anywhere on it. I’m just so accustomed to associating Herna (casino) with Non-Stop that I never looked twice. I have visited that place again three times, and on none of those occasions was Hanka working. I had hopes for tonight, since the last time I saw her was on a Thursday, but no. Last Thursday, however, was a holiday weekend eve, and Pavel did mention something about coming in on Fridays. Maybe tomorrow…