See Spot Run

I know the names of five of the regular dogs at this café, and three of them are Dino.

And, here I am…

I’ve got Internet in the ol’ domocile now. Actually, I’ve had it for a few days. Why, then, the sudden silence in the Media Empire? The answer is surprisingly simple: I have Internet in my home now.

You see, the first few days of near-unlimited high-speed access to every one and zero the world has to offer are a heady time. Oh yes, there is a virtual world calling out, saying only ‘taste me, swim in my fantasy’, and that is what I have done. The ones, the zeroes, they have thrown themselves at my retinas and eardrums by the billions, sacrificed and lost now in the transience of flashing neurons. But that’s OK, they were just copies of other ones and zeroes. The supply, it seems, is limitless, and soon it appears the distribution of them will be virtually unlimited as well.

The digifest is wearing off now, as I have had my fill of ridiculous japanese animation and my brain is exploding from the information regarding moving Jer’s Novel Writer to the GCC 4.0 (Apple version) compiler, which I will have to do to get my programs onto the Intel Macs.

On a related note, as my productivity recovered in the last few days I released a new version of Jer’s Novel Writer (0.6.0.0), and wrote a hell of a lot of Pirates. Just got to get learning Czech back onto the schedule and I’m golden!

Arrgh!

Still no Internet at home (long story getting longer), and today they’re filming something (probably a commercial) at the bowling alley, and that seems to mean no Internet here, either. Of course I didn’t realize that until after I ordered food.

On the other hand, I do have a good view of the thoroughly uninteresting production in the lanes below. The one good part is that the dude is a really bad bowler, so time after time he’s rolling the ball, then turning and doing a high five with the pretty girl as his ball trundles off course. Rack ’em up and try again, sparky!

The owner of the place just came by to ask if I was using the WiFi, and when I explained that it wasn’t working today he was surprised. Maybe I’ll get some love here soon.

A bit of picture-taking

Another warm day here in the city of a thousand spires, although not as unashamedly sunny as yesterday. I stayed in bed a little extra, but started getting antsy. I got up and sat at the computer for a while, poking at one project, prodding another, but not feeling inspired. I had been lamenting not putting the camera to use more often, so I loaded up the gear and headed to one of the many graveyards nearby, one that has a large church in the middle of it. I had ideas of the bare winter branches framing the spire against the sky, while grave markers huddled like sheep beneath.

There’s a reason I call what I do picture-taking rather than photography. My first observation: when a I look at something, it is amazing how much I do not see. A shot that I think is going to be a picture of a spire behind some trees turns out to be a picture of trees. Where the heck did that evergreen come from – the one taking up a third of the frame? Granted, I do try to include a little extra in the shot, with the intention of cropping later, but sometimes it’s just ridiculous.

One important technique for separating foreground and background is depth of focus, making the object of the picture sharp while keeping the rest of the busy world indistinct. I have many, many pictures that, in retrospect, would have benefitted greatly from a judicious use of that tool. (I can’t tell you how many snowy angel carvings in the very cluttered Olšansky Hřbitovy are lost to the background.) So today I was standing in a much more orderly graveyard, scratching my noggin, trying to remember which way to adjust the aperture to reduce the depth of focus, so my object is sharp and the rest isn’t. I remembered incorrectly, and cranked the aperture far in the wrong direction. I now have lots of pictures displaying the surrounding noise with remarkable clarity.

Live and learn, I guess, though in my case the latter half of that axiom has yet to kick in.

At the Helm in Strašnice

U Kormidla is a new place (I think). It is a longer walk to come here than it is to go to Little Café Near Home, but if today is an indication, there are definitely times when the extra walk is worth it. The bar has a nautical theme, celebrating the Czech Republic’s long and highly regarded maritime tradition (‘Ahoy’ is, after all, the most common informal greeting.)

I made my way down the stairs from street level, and my immediate impression was highly favorable. Two pretty girls sat at the corner of the bar, not smoking. There was a large group filling the back of the place, all dressed in black (we’re in cemetary country, out here in StraÅ¡nice), also not smoking. I made myself comfortable, enjoyed the smoothness of a Kozel dark, and communicated easily with the waiter with his nice, slow diction.

It is not a big place (although it dwarfs Little Café Near Home), dim but not dark, filled with rich wood and occasional brass highlights. It tiptoes dangerously on the borderline of kitsch, but overall it works. All these non-smokers in here is probably a fluke, but even when someone does light up the fumes are whisked away from where I sit. There is a staircase that leads up to a few more tables and the kitchen. My Bora-Bora chicken was heavier than I would expect from an island delicacy, but hey, this is the Czech Republic.

It is time for me to mosey along, now, but I will be back.

Sunday Morning

It is a balmy morning, well above freezing, easily the warmest day of this year. The sun was shining brightly as I made my way through the quiet streets of Strašnice; the only others out at this time on a Sunday morning are the old men and their wiener dogs.

What is any right-thinking non-wiener-dog-owning person doing out on a Sunday morning, no matter how bright and shiny it may be? What Siren song drew me from my home, my fortress of solitude, my haven in the hurly-burly world that is Strašnice? Fast food.

It was late when I got home last night. Really late. I was at Roma with fuego, and we all know how that can go. It was a night of Pirates and hockey. Pirates of the White Sand, I’m happy to report, is making progress. The version fuego brought back from the secret underground laboratories of North America is good enough we can actually show it to people, and many of the tweaks to make it even better are quite simple. Last night we worked up a list of improvements, and except for one really stupid bit that fuego seems to find delightful we’re in good shape. The last hour of the evening was dedicated to me finding new ways to explain how stupid that bit is.

I staggered home as the wee hours of the morning were growing up. I mounted the stairs and when I opened the door I was not hit by the blast of tropical air that Soup Boy prefers. He was still awake. Well, moving, anyway; awake might be a bit of a stretch. “Heater’s not working,” he managed to mumble. “No hot water, either.” I tried pushing the reset button on the heater, just as Soup Boy had already done, but you never know. He might not have pushed the button correctly. In this case, my button-pushing was no more effective than his, so I shuffled into my room and flopped into bed, too tired even to plug in the electric heater in my room.

This morning I awoke, perhaps a little later than usual, but usual is difficult to define. I shuffled around a bit, found a valve on the water heater to allow more water into the radiator system, and groped my way to the kitchen for some tea. Ah, tea, the leaf that built an empire, where would I be without your magical alkaloid? As the kettle hissed and burbled I stood, semi-conscious, contemplating the paper bag on the counter. Slowly the friendly logo and happy marketing slogans sank in. McDonald’s. As I looked at that bag the craving started, the conditioned reflex born of forty years of exposure to relentless marketing. I wanted some of that.

And so now I sit, far from home, tired, muddled, sated, nibbling the last of my fries, watching parents struggle with children who are not yet finished crawling through the giant hamster tubes. Man, I wish they had those when I was a tot.

Changing gears

Two days ago I decided to turn my full attention to Novel #2, The Test, setting aside Novel #1 (again), putting short stories on the back burner, and biting the bullet for a major rewrite. There is a lot of Novel #2, and as it stands it’s not terribly well-constructed — although it does have some mighty fine bits. Jane, the protagonist, is a finely-crafted girl, if I do say so myself. The first draft was written without a solid plan, however, and it shows. The plot is intricate, with many overlapping things happening, but the threads are born and fade away rather haphazardly. So, reading over the 600 untamed pages, I came up with a plan of attack.

“This would be a lot easier,” I thought, “if Jer’s Novel Writer could…” and off I went into software design. Now is not the time to be making major upgrades to the software, however. Now is the time to be fixing bugs and getting a good release out, now that hundreds of people are using it anyway. I looked back at the story. Threads. The ability to view the story from different points of view. Those changes sure would make fixing the novel simpler.

Faced with that dilemma, I did what any rational writer/coder would do. I set Novel #2 aside to work on Novel #3 instead. No new JNW features required, just prose that goes beyond storytelling into the realm of literature. Yes, Novel #3 is my Great American Road Novel. I’ve been looking forward to diving in to it for a long time.

While I was in this intensive review process, I had my phone turned off. Some of you may have the impression that I spend my days locked away in my room, writing, never emerging. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Most days I make it to the kitchen and beyond. On this day, however, I declined invitations from Graybeard, from my czech tutor, and from Belladonna. Pretty soon they’re all going to give up on me, and that would suck. So today I’m going to try to not quite spend so much time writing. When I woke I was going to try to go the whole day without writing anything except this, but that was just plain crazy. I am, however, going to try to catch up with people.

As soon as I finish the Las Vegas chapter…

Really, really, looking forward to having Internet in my home…

I’m sitting at the bowling alley, watching analysis of the last curling match, cursing the slow and unreliable connection I get here. Sure, before they had WiFi here I had to go much farther to get the sweet river of 1’s and 0’s, and I’ve been putting up without Internet at home for a year now. So what’s changed?

What’s different is that now I almost have Internet at home. It was supposed to be 5-10 business days, and yesterday was day 10. Arrgh! I have the hardware, and when I hook it up it connects successfully to the world outside (at a rate faster than what I’m paying for). All I need is my account ID and password and I’m back in the broadband, baby!

But not yet. In the words of Tom Petty, “the waiting is the hardest part.”

Episode 18: Message from the Grave

Note: To read the entire story from the beginning click here.

Jimmy Slick was at his table, just where I’d seen him last, but this time he was dead. I didn’t notice he was dead right away, and no one else in the joint was any wiser, but when I plunked a glass of gin down in front of him and he didn’t react, I knew something was up. Nothing else was amiss; Alice had been in her position outside The Bucket and gave me the all-clear signal as I approached. Jimmy had been alone when he went in, and whoever had done him hadn’t aroused her suspicions.

I sat next to what used to be Jimmy and looked him over, trying not to draw any attention. Cause of death was pretty easy to establish; there was a knife between his shoulder blades, the puncture neat and clean, hardly bleeding at all. An expert job. I got that crawling feeling that someone was right behind me at that moment, ready to do the same to me. When I turned around, however, there was no one there.

I looked around the place to see if anyone had taken an interest in my activities, but all the other people sat at the bar, staring into their drinks, as if the answers to life were to be found there. I leaned forward and put my head near Jimmy’s, as if speaking conspiratorially, while I went through his pockets. A fat wad of cash, a battered switchblade, some small change, driver’s permit, and a key ring with a house key and the key to a Ford.

I almost missed it. One of his hands was clenched tightly shut. With a shudder I pried open his cold fingers to find another key, a smaller one but finely crafted. I didn’t take the time to inspect it then, I just slipped it into my pocket. Somewhere there was a lock it fit into, and it couldn’t be coincidence he was holding it when he died.

I leaned back and looked at Jimmy. He hadn’t wanted to get involved, but I had talked him into it. He’d been a weasel, but an OK guy for that. Now he was dead, and his murder was going to be pinned on me. Just another problem on top of all the others. I tossed back my whiskey. Now I was angry.

Another figure entered the bar. He was dressed like just another Joe but he wasn’t there to drink. He crossed directly to my table and sat. “Did you find anything?” he asked.

“An unusual amount of cash,” I said. “This your work?”

“No, but I know the man who did it.”

“Guy knows his stuff.”

“Yes. He has many talents. How much cash?”

“I didn’t count.”

“Nothing else out of the ordinary?”

I shrugged. “A piece-of-junk blade, some small change, keys—”

The other’s eyes narrowed. “What sort of keys?” Bingo.

I stood. “Check for yourself.” I walked over to the bar and caught the attention of the barman. “A gin and a bourbon for my friends over there,” I said gesturing back to the table. I put some dough on the bartop and started for the door. I looked back and I saw the unblinking eye of a pistol pointed at me from under the table. “See you boys later,” I said, and neatly slid the murder rap onto my new friend.

“Yes, you will,” he said. “Soon.”

I had Jimmy’s address from his driving permit, but I suspected that if whatever the key had been there it wasn’t any longer, and whoever had it could just use a hammer to spring it open. No, the key itself was what mattered, not the lock it opened. Alice was going to have a lot of legwork to do.

I stepped out onto the street, blinking in the sun, cursing the heat, and turned up the avenue.

Alice wasn’t there.

Tune in next time for: Nest of Vipers!

Volunteers needed

I’m making some minor tweaks to The Monster Within, but as I’m going through it, there’s a place where I think the story loses momentum. It’s difficult for me to judge that, now, however, since I’ve read it about a hundred times. Therefore I would really appreciate two volunteers, one male and one female, who haven’t read the story before, who can read it through and tell me which parts seem slow to them. I would like to address the problems soon (it’s difficult for me to not dive in right now, but if it isn’t broken I shouldn’t be fixing it), so I would prefer test readers who read a lot of books and go through them in days or weeks rather than months.

Having both a male and female reviewer is mostly for my own curiosity — it will be interesting to see where opinions differ.

The “brave soul” reference above is because I’m looking for people to tell me about the parts of the story they didn’t like, and many people are not comfortable telling a creator to his face that their work is flawed. (Of course, you’re also welcome to tell me about the good parts…)

While I’m not asking anyone to sign a nondisclosure agreement, I would appreciate some discretion. There are certain parts of the story I would like to keep under wraps so as not to spoil the story for others. You’ll know what I mean when you read it.

Please email me or leave a message here in the comments if you’re interested.

Dancing ’till Dawn

I was sitting at the Little Café Near Home, writing, when the message came. There’s some sort of Olympics Thing going on right now, so the TV was on, directly over my head, and the few other patrons were all turned in my direction but not looking at me. The two dogs in the place seemed indifferent to the sports, but were very disappointed that their owners were not allowing them to play. Such is the life of a large dog in a small café.

My phone chimed and when I got to a good stopping point in the prose, I hauled it out to find two messages from Belladonna. “Reserved Stones tickets”, one said; the other read “We’re going out tonight. Wanna come?” I slowly typed out a message to respond to both her texts, left out an important word, and sent my confusing reply, which was supposed to say that I was interested in the Rolling Stones in June but tonight I was working and would not be coming out to play.

Work was going well; I had thought of a very good nuance to the way Hunter is messed up in later chapters of The Monster Within. (Man, I’ll be glad when that book is published so I can get it out of my head.) Except for a brief stint of Internet access at the bowling alley I had been writing for 13 hours, but I wasn’t tired. When it works, you run with it. I was scruffy and wearing the same clothes as the day before. It was after 9 pm when Belladonna and Firenze finally convinced me I should come out. It was, after all, Saturday Night. I figured if they were going to stay out late enough I could scrub down and join them.

Stay out late enough? Hah. They weren’t even going to get started until midnight. The style here is to get to the club district before public transportation shuts down, and party until it starts back up again. So, at a time I would ordinarily be considering sweet slumber, I was heading back out the door. I found the designated place, was soon joined by the ladies, and after answering a few questions (“What do you mean, ‘the evening ended awkwardly and uncertainly’?”) we danced the night away.

It was fun. Toward the end my poor small-talk skills began to show — I’m good at listening but not so good at sustaining a conversation. I’m comfortable with silences; unfortunately the interesting things going on are all inside my head, where they stay.

The evening ended with a walk through silent cobbled streets, snow falling gently around us.

Are We Not Men? We Are Google!

Some people visit this site on purpose. Go figure. There are more who arrive her by accident, the collision of words sought with words used somewhere in these pages, which now number in the hundreds. Every once in a while I take time out from my busy and productive life to see just what it is that people are looking for, when they wind up here instead. Here is a list of some of the ones that have caught my eye lately. As always, when I don’t want the phrase to distract search engines in the future, I obfuscate key words with spaces.

  • daniel  p o w t e r  bad day noteshere is my parody
  • d o k u r o – c h a n  lyrics – (multiple searches) amazingly, I had exactly what the searcher was looking for. I’m getting multiple hits for this episode daily now; while it doesn’t rival egg frying, it’s big, baby.
  • pipiru piru piru pipiru pi – as above, lyrics and a brief review are here
  • john bevinshe was a good guy
  • mystery family revival band in san angelo – linked to the Homeless Tour category page, where I hope the searcher found my mention of the band in a salaciously titled episode. If the act goes big, I’ll be able to say I saw their first gig.
  • internet access pirate 4×4 – top link, thanks to a fortunate convergence of the stars, but what were they really looking for?
  • baby ocelot – once a classic, now rare. Linked to a page like this one, which referred to a previous google page, which referred to yet another page, before the chain finally reached the “elevator ocelot rutabaga” episode.
  • pirate toast All For Me Grog – linked to the Pirates! category page, where there is much talk of grog, and of the old song.
  • he, too, once lived in Arkady – probably searching for references for one of my favorite paintings in the Louvre, instead came to the Observations category page.
  • lyrics to skippy snackbar jingle – the searcher came to the Bars of the World Tour category page, attracted to an episode about the Herna Snack Bar and to one where I refer to a crazy woman’s friend as Skippy.
  • zoo phonics groveland – came to an old Homeless Tour episode, written the day I wandered the streets of Groveland looking for some toast.
  • MYSTERIOUS SECRET MESSAGEhere
  • hotelsmobile – search came from Malta. linked
  • “eunuch sex” – linked to another google episode
  • what the color of a rose means – as I am a widely respected expert on romance and the ways of a woman’s heart, it’s only natural people would turn here for advice
  • what are the three major forces of life in china? – second only to my legendary romantic prowess is my astonishing knowledge of life in China. Linked to the Politics category, which hasn’t seen much action lately.
  • you cant spell pirate without irate – linked to the Pirates! category page
  • elf breasts – linked to one of my trashier chapter ones.
  • ned’s +albuquerque – I get hits for several bars, and now Ned’s has joined the bunch.
  • “amazon women in the avocado jungle of death” – a surprsingly fun movie (not that it would take much to be surprised), the episode reached is actually one of the first entries from the homeless tour
  • “spreadable meat” – linked to an episode about hockey.
  • scary bloody gorey picture – linked to an episode about books
  • Strč prst skrz krk – It’s the whole no-vowels thing
  • cartoon swearing symbols – linked to the Homeless tour category page
  • “i’ve never told this to anyone else before” – linked to an episode that, while muddled, I happen to like.
  • what makes a bar and grill work – while I have some thoughts about that, Canyon Bar and Grill is probably not the place to emulate – but it has personality.
  • girls american fotbol team – sign me up as cheerleader!
  • “fried chicken embryos” – perpetuating the misnomer in the name of culinary arts
  • celebtrity heart attack victims – a misspelling get me the top match
  • flyer for socks for the homeless – linked to the Homeless Tour category page, naturally, where I discuss socks, flyers, and things like that.
  • czech word nazis pronounce – in general, Czechs aren’t big fans of Nazis.
  • death in Gila Bend – all I saw was a slice of life.
  • TOASTY TENTS – not only connected to a Get-Poor-Quick scheme here, but there was a store called halfbakery selling a product for keeping you toasty in your tent.
  • does jer’s prof want to meet tomorrow at noon – somewhere on the Web the answer must lie! Linked to the Stories category page.
  • joe byrne these things I know – Linked to a page where I discuss Joe’s last gig at Callahan’s before heading out into the big world, in which I barely mention the band.

Egg Fryers have shown a surge in popularity again lately (I suspect that episodes like this one actually make Google think that my blog is more important, because there are so many links to it.), as well as violent anime searchers, and the steady flow of people wanting to read about particular bars. I’m trying to come up with a system so the comments get indexed by Google as well.

A night on the town.

I have long thought it would be fun to go to a bar with a vast whiskey collection, throw down credit card, and have a knowledgeable bartender pour me a Tour of Scotland, providing wee sips of a wide variety of single malts and telling me about each one. Last night I came close.

There is a bar here in Prague, a copy of one in New York, apparently, called Books and Bar. Or was it Bar and Books? In any case, it is a bar, and shelves of books (mostly in German for some reason, and obviously not meant to be read) adorn one of the walls. It is more upscale than the places I usually find myself, but sometimes it’s fun to pretend I’m sophisticated, and since we had invited Belladonna to join us, it seemed like a good time to try a place that Soup Boy had been encouraging me to visit anyway. Soup Boy (storyboarder for Pirates and now my roommate) had invited some of his friends out as well, but only Little John was free. So we set out for the city center, hoping that Belladonna would also bring friends.

Another acquaintance of Soup Boy, who we will call Hole, spotted us entering the establishment and came in to say hi. We chatted a bit and then he went off to work out. The Boy and I sat, and soon after Belladonna arrived with two friends in tow, fellow med students. Conversation was pleasant and unforced, and when Little John arrived, adding his limitless energy to the affair, things were going quite nicely.

I ordered a flight of Whiskey – six small glasses of the good stuff. (I paid extra for the very, very good stuff, that cash from being an extra burning a hole in my pocket.) As I slowly made my way around the islands and the highlands I appreciated the variety of different flavors, how each achieved a different balance of Earth (peat), Air (vapors), Fire (alcohol’s ‘bite’), and Water (smoothness). Truly the booze of the gods, and I was hitchhiking through the pantheon.

Sometime while I was enjoying my travels Hole returned. Belladonna knew him, and did not like him—not at all. In a cascading guilt by association Soup Boy was demoted a few notches, and I took a hit as well. (This just after she had started to recover from learning my age. I am rather older than she thought—Firenze, bless her sweet heart, guessed I was 29—and Belladonna has about her an air of maturity that made me think she was older.)

A note about Little John. I’ve only met him a couple of times, but I’ve seen how his exuberance can really keep a gathering lively. There is a danger, though, that someone else can turn his power to the Dark Side, and that is what happened when Hole showed up. I don’t think Firenze was aware of the crude humor being directed at her, not at first anyway, but the evening’s vibe, which had survived a couple of bumps, was now deteriorating rapidly. A change of venue was called for.

So we went to another place new to me, called M1, where the seating, inconvenient for large groups, led to me having a very pleasant conversation with Firenze, Soup Boy chatting with Belladonna, and Little John and Hole hovering and getting bored. They eventually left, and the mood recovered, but the evening ended somewhat awkwardly and uncertainly. It was, overall, a lot of fun, and it’s (almost) always nice to get out and meet new people. Hopefully we’ll be able to hang out again sometime.

Programming note

Oh, hey, by the way, I’m on the cover over at Piker Press this week for a rather silly story I could swear I posted here a while back, but now I just can’t find it. This version is improved in any case.

At least, I think I’m there – I can’t load the page right now.

On the subject of getting published, I had a letter waiting for me when I got home last night. It was a slip from a large paying magazine, rejecting a story. The note was brief and said (in only slightly friendlier language) “We rejected you story either because it was stale, sloppy, or (most likely) it just plain sucked. Or there might have been another reason.” Obviously in my case it couldn’t possibly have been any of the three stated cases – I suspect it was just too long for a first-timer.

Yeah, too long. That’s it.

So let it be known far and wide that Realms of Fantasy magazine was the first paying market to reject a story by Jerry Seeger. Old Town will have to find a home somewhere else.

Day two as an extra

NOTE: You should read day one, below, first.

Soup Boy and I arrived at the location (Florida) on a morning slightly warmer than the previous had been (freezing rain rather than snow) and breezed through wardrobe and makeup to arrive on set at 6:45 am. Almost immediately we were hauled down the stairs to where the shooting was to take place. We were waiting in the wings while most of the other extras took up the positions they had held at the end of the previous day. Since we hadn’t been in the shot the day before we just stayed out of the way and watched the proceedings.

All at once, while Soup Boy was using his camera to take an (illegal) picture, one of the AD’s pointed at him and gestured. The Boy was hauled into the scene to stand reading a plaque.

And stand. And stand. It seemed that every shot had that plaque in the background, so it was not until after noon that he was liberated from that spot.

I, however, had different fortunes. I wasn’t in that shot at all, but the next shot required several people to pass between the camera and the main action. (Extras who are behind the action are called background, while those in front are foreground.) A pretty czech assistant named Marta (but not really) tapped me and a few other people to be her elite foreground team for the morning, so that shots of the same action would have (at least vaguely) some continuity as far as who is in front of it. The final edit will be composed of slices so small that evan though I’m walking right past a fight to the death between good and evil, I might not show up on the screen.

“If anyone tries to use you, tell them you’re with me,” Marta said. She was pretty cool, and even when other nerves were getting frayed with the complexity of the foreground action she kept on smiling. She liked the fact I’d do what I was told, when told, and that I didn’t talk. That got me into positions where I was close to the actors and directors, because it was easy for them to pretend I wasn’t there.

So the star of this here show, James of James and the Giant Explosive Device, for all the controversy that surrounded his selection, is a pretty good guy. Easygoing, friendly, and competent. He hit his marks and apologized when he made a mistake. The guy who played the Bad Guy was also a character. Overall, despite some frustration (at one point the entire shot had to be reconfigured because the track for the camera didn’t leave room for the foreground extras, and at other times extras would simply not shut up when asked), the vibe on set was positive and professional.

Once they moved to a different angle, I was released from Marta’s Elite Foreground Team, and she tapped Soup Boy to become part of her new Elite Background Team, and he was finally able to at least walk while the action was taking place. Finally I was finished in the background, walking back to the same object I had first been shot near the day before, this time escorting a pretty girl who had also mastered the art of shutting up on set. We hardly spoke a word, but she kept going too slow and messing up the crossing patterns of all the carefully orchestrated extras, which got me chided.

Soup Boy’s feet were recruited for another shot, and we were done for the day. We sat about until released (overtime, baby!), but the extras wranglers passed us over, looking for less used-up faces. Our agent came out to the location and paid us cash money on the spot.

The day was long, and tiring, and cold, but in the end I had fun. I took the computer in on day two, and the day ended with Soup Boy and I sitting next to each other in the big extra staging hall, Apple logos glowing, The Boy editing video while I wrote. Zoltan the Bald Serbian (I actually called him ‘Zoltan’ to his face once – oops!) thought it was great. We definitely stood out, I’ll tell you that.

After all that, I sent Belladonna a message (I mentioned her, right? She missed the second day because she had an exam—in neurosurgery) saying that I would be too tired to go out, so how about tomorrow night? The answer: Yes.