Another Day in Casting

I didn’t move the writing career forward today, but I still have acting to fall back on. I went to a cattle-call today for a small film that will be in production for a couple of months later this summer. This casting is different than any of the others I’ve been to – this one’s for an actual role in the film and I would be working a couple of weeks or more, rather than days. I was applicant 99, to give you an idea of what the odds are. There were four male roles possible, but I was clearly unqualified for two of them, and it would be a reach for one of the remainders. The last role, however, ex-pat retired war photographer hanging out in Prague, I think I have a good look for. I’ll be interesting to see if I get called back to read. In the end, they’ll probably want someone with more experience, but heck, you never know.

Surprisingly, one thing I did pull off well was the chit-chat. Even after the video camera was turned off I hung out and shot the breeze with the director, talking about life in San Diego and Mexico, travel, and bars in Montana. As we were walking back to the waiting room he said, “We’re a low-budget production, you realize.” “That’s fine,” I replied, “I’m a low-budget guy!” I may be reading too much into it, but I took that as a hopeful sign.

Which marks another difference this time around. Each of the other casting calls I dropped by, thinking “ah, what the heck, it’ll only take a few minutes, no big deal.” Each time I thought afterwards that I would not get a call. This time I find myself actually caring whether I get the gig or not. That can’t be good.

It was Graybeard who tipped me off to the opportunity, and after we were done with the casting I hung out with him and one of his bevy of ridiculously beautiful young lady friends. Gotta hand it to the old boy, he is a charmer and he’s not afraid to use it. We found a nearby café with a very nice atmosphere and settled in for a while, discussing this and that. With Graybeard the conversation never stays in the same place very long; you need mental springs and you just have to expect that few topics — or even sentences on your part — will be completed. Beautiful Lady Friend got bored and for a while I was in smile-and-nod mode, but things got interesting again when Graybeard started telling stories from his past.

It’s not my place to give too many details here, but I think it’s OK for me to mention that he has been to prison a time or three, sometimes for long stretches, and you don’t want to piss him off. I made a mental note not to hit on Beautiful Lady Friend (hence no worries about a more appropriate nickname), even after Graybeard mentioned she had no boyfriend. He wants that honor.

Which made it even more complicated when BLF left and Isolde arrived. (I have probably mentioned her before with a different nickname, but it would too much work to go look it up now.) Isolde used to date Graybeard, and they are still close enough to spend their time sniping at each other, just like old times. Isolde wanted to go to a movie, French with Czech subtitles. Graybeard did not want to see it as he knows no French or Czech, but out of sheer nobility I agreed to go to the movies with a pretty girl. The sacrifices I make. I missed some of the subtle elements of the plot, like what people said to each other, but still enjoyed the flick — despite the lack of scruffy, gray-bearded actors.

Well dip me in Yahoo and roll me in Google.

It is time once again, members of the muddled masses, to ask the question, “just what the hell is everyone doing here?” While it is true that the occasional visitor does come here on purpose, many, many lost souls are tossed up on the shores of Muddled Island by a random correspondence between words typed into a search engine and words that appear here. There are a lot of words here at Muddled Ramblings, 200,000 or so, and the diligent robots at Google and Yahoo have cataloged each and every one.

Occasionally I will obfuscate a word by adding s p a c e s to prevent those same diligent robots from becoming attracted to this episode, so that future searches will continue to yield the desired page elsewhere in the Muddleverse. Also, I like saying obfuscate. Obfuscate, obfuscate, obfuscate.

  • james bond silk banners – linked to the first episode in my James Bond adventure.
  • Haiku black hole – linked to an episode about my descent into (and emergence from) a black hole.
  • rock stacking in the desert – linked not to my page about rock stacking, but instead to my episode about NOT stacking rocks.
  • A Next Generation Junior High  S c h o o l G i r l  Idol in Japan – linked to the Observations category page, attracted primarily to my musings about the downside to being a  s c h o o l g i r l  in Japan.
  • goodbye amy – linked to an episode in which I said goodbye to many people, some of whom I will never see again.
  • white tigers and liberec – apparently they have some in their zoo up there. I’m more interested in the hockey team, although they were swiftly eliminated by the Beers this year.
  • team bowling gamesmine is the best.
  • automatic counting chicken – hmm… that would go great next to my whistling squirrel. Surprisingly, Yahoo put me right at the top of the search results for this episode.
  • allright mr demille,i am ready for my close-up – linked to an episode about my first day of work on the upcoming blockbuster James and the Giant Explosive Device
  • speech writing sucks – that’s why you have assistants, Mr. Bush. I’ve lost track of what on this site attracted that link to this site.
  • supernatural subtitles download – linked to my episode about Cutey Honey Flash. The version I watched just had normal subtitles.
  • capt. kirk “valley of fire” buried – the top match for this phrase was a particularly salaciously-titled post-Las Vegas ramble.
  • “I like this bar” – brought a reader to a discussion of my first trip to the closest bar to where I know live.
  • giraffes as beast of burden – linked to the stories category page, where I talk about a story that is lost in the mists of time
  • cat heaving – yes, someone searched for that. This chapter one ranked fifth at Google for that phrase.
  • hot teacher sex nun pics face army – wow. Amazingly, the stories category page had all these things, but nothing that comes close to what I imagine this googler was looking for (although I wonder if the searcher had any idea either).
  • step-by-step information on laws of thermodynamics – I’d never thought of a natural law as a procedure before, but it is a natural segue to an episode about eggs.
  • scary squirrels and annoying neighbors game – of all the potential matches on this site, Google pointed this searcher to an episode about a shitty bar in Pacific beach
  • rock stacking in hawaii – I am not the only one to call anti-stackism to the attention of the world.
  • she has nice gams – Top match on Yahoo linked to the first episode of Feeding the Eels, which reminds me…
  • short film ideas bowling funny – all that and more can be found here in the Muddleverse!
  • what determines how drunk you get – I do! linked to an episode at a bar in Bozeman, Montana.
  • “p e e  for distance” – linked to a side discussion about how a man can measure his age.
  • The sun was shining brightly. It was a fine Sunday morning when the – seems like they typed out most of it anyway, not much point in searching. This fine Sunday morning was the top match, though.
  • trombone autumn leaves moan plunger – I would like to see a guest poem that uses this line. Anyone? Anyone?
  • bad  s e s t i n a – while not technically a  s e s t i n a, this poem caught the searcher’s eye.
  • brain vibrations – early morning – linked to an episode about a good morning in New Mexico
  • metaphor + skin + “my life as a fake” – linked to the main page, just about the only top match that wasn’t what the searcher was probably looking for.
  • teenage  n y m p h s – got an improbably high match with my new understanding of Japanese culture.
  • name of soap worn by teacher in movie scent of a woman – this might be the most useless piece of trivia ever! Linked to the Stories page, where there is talk of soap, and women, and movies, but not all at the same time.
  • a shot video that shows a pitcher then a scary person pops up and scars the crap out of anyone – Top Yahoo match linked to the Pirates! category page, where there is talk of a pitcher, and scars
  • american road trip cult map – So you can find nice cults to hang out with on your trip, I suppose.
  • d e l i c t i o n – I just coined the word and already the world is jumping on the bandwagon.

Of course, many, many people came by to learn the art of frying an egg, and the lyrics to a silly but violent anime theme song has become a big attraction. googli is popular among foreign searchers, and people coming here to find pictures (or pitchers) of ocelots regularly have their hopes dashed.

Piker Press Anniversary Issue

Each year Piker Press puts out an anniversary issue, in which they take a trip back down memory lane, finding choice morsels from the the past. It’s a good chance to acquaint yourself with the many contributors over there. In the words of Senior Editor Alexandra Queen: “We traditionally run not neccessarily the best, but some of the most memorable articles, stories and comics from the past four years. Or sometimes we run the ones we haven’t thought about for a while. It’s less like the Oscars than like flipping through a family photo album.” I have been enjoying reading stories by some of the folks from before my time.

I was curious to see which of my pieces they might choose to run, if any. Last year they put Tin Can in the anniversary issue, which was a bit of a surprise but not an unpleasant one. It made me go back and look over the story and I discovered that I liked it more than I thought I did. I’ve even fixed it up a bit and submitted to another magazine that doesn’t mind doing reprints.

This time around I could think of a few articles that I thought would be anniversary-worthy, from the bittersweet celebration of life in Earthchuckle to the spooky Serpent to the downright silly Hell-Cricket. Well, I do have a piece in there this week, and once again the choice was a surprise. They are re-running Storm of the Century, the epic story of one man’s drive to salvation, and how he saved a quarter-tank of gas on the way.

OK, maybe ‘epic’ isn’t the right word. But it is fun, and I enjoyed reading it again. It was an experiment of sorts, trying a different narrative style and intentionally under-edited.

Makes me want to go write a short story…

I Murdered a Pot Tonight

Let us all pause for a moment of silence, as we remember the pot.

It all started this afternoon when I went to a bar in my ‘hood that I had not visited before. I went in and sat down in a position that completely disrupted the place. It is a regulars bar, and apparently there is assigned seating. I plunked down and threw the entire joint into doubt and uncertainty. I did not stay long; they didn’t have food and I was one hungry pup. Still, it was beer on an empty stomach, and that’s never good. The Czech hockey championships were on, so I went to the Little Café Near Home – not renowned for their vittles but I enjoy watching hockey with the folks there. I had a snack there and resolved to have more when I got home.

Home I got, and while the larder is traditionally spare, I did have rice. Perfect! I put a pot on the stove with plenty of water, and then came in here to write about download day.

I forgot about the pot.

Time for bed, and luckily I had to pass through the kitchen to perform my evening cleansing rituals. I heard the hiss of the stove and looked over to see a pot, formerly lined with enamel, blackened on the bottom and the enamel on the sides of the pot slumping. I turned off the gas and now the apartment is filled with a smell reminiscent of burned popcorn. We’ll send a forensic team in tomorrow morning to fully assess the potworthiness of the vessel, but I expect it will be time for me to go pot shopping pretty soon.

Download Day

I subscribe to, a damn fine way to load up on good tunes without ripping off the musicians. For fifteen bucks a month I can download sixty-five tracks, and I can feel good about it because the giant record label assholes don’t get squat. The right people get paid. And let’s face it, the big label’s sales are slumping not because of piracy but because the independent labels have done a better job moving with the times. Indy sales are up.

So today was download day. On what, out of the vast musical universe, did I blow my precious sixty-five? I’m glad you asked!

  • Johnny Cash, The Sun Sessions, Vol 1. – nothing left to say, except listen again to I Walk the Line, and listen to the Man in Black hum, slightly discordant, as he introduces the next refrain. Step back in awe.
  • Orchestral Works Of Liadov – Symphony Orchestra of Russia under Veronika Dudarova – still digging into Russian orchestral stuff. It’s a good trip.
  • Giggles in the Dark – Lesbians on Ecstacy – not sure what to make of this one yet. Riot Grrrl remixed. I think I like it.
  • The Time Of The Preacher by Johnny Cash– off the No Depression: What It Sounds Like Vol. 1 album, and way better than any other track on the disk. Johnny Cash goes Seattle and the result just plain rocks.
  • Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven by godspeed you! black emperor – I can’t describe it, I just like it. Someone somewhere said ‘post-rock’, but I call it music.
  • Golden Ocean by 50 Foot Wave – After the debut EP, I have been waiting anxiously for more from these guys. I was not disappointed. This album rocks all over the place.

Good tunes, man, good tunes.

Episode 19: Nest of Vipers – Part 1

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

I tried to ignore the feeling that there was a bulls-eye painted on my back as I inspected the doorway where Alice had been standing. The only reason to take her, I told myself, was to force me to do something I didn’t want to do. That meant whoever had done it wanted me alive, and I would be hearing from them eventually. I looked back at the door of The Bucket in time to see the man I had been speaking with hurry down the street. It wouldn’t be long before the cops arrived, and I wasn’t eager to be talking to them at the moment.

It didn’t look like Alice had made it easy for them; the scuffs on the sidewalk told a story of struggle. She had managed to run two strides before they wrapped her up and dragged her to a car. Near the curb I saw dark spots on the pavement. I hunched down and confirmed that it was blood, fresh but quickly blistering and blackening in the heat. I surveyed the windows looking down on the street. Someone must have seen something. I made a note to have Alice ask around and then stopped myself.

Someone had crossed a line. I wanted to find out who they were before they had a chance to contact me, so I could drop in on them before they were ready.

I turned my head one way and then the other as I regarded the scuff marks. One, from a smaller shoe, seemed to be more complex, as if created with intent. A hastily-drawn arrow, perhaps, or maybe the letter ‘F’. Possibly nothing at all; it’s easy for a person to see patterns even when there are none. If it was an arrow it pointed up the street away from the bar and towards downtown. If it was a letter, perhaps F for Fanutti? An E she didn’t have time to finish? I moved my foot along the lines, imagining that I was being dragged to a car, and just trying to stay in one place long enough to finish my message, without anyone realizing what I was doing.

I heard a siren in the distance. Time to go. I turned and walked briskly away from the scene, by coincidence in the direction of the arrow, if that’s what it had been. I zigged and zagged a few blocks then bellied up to a phone. I pulled Cello’s card out of my pocket and regarded it grimly. This call could cost me. I threw a dime in and dialed.

The phone was answered almost before it rang. “Hendricks and Associates,” a competent female voice answered.

“Charles Lowell. Cello is expecting my call.”

“One moment.”

After somewhat more than a moment Cello came on the line. “Mr. Lowell. You have something for me?”

“Depends. Did you take her?”

“You have lost track of someone?”

“Yes. Did you take her?”

“I assume you wouldn’t bother to ask if it was Mrs. Fanutti you lost track of. Has something happened to your charming secretary?”


“You put her in harm’s way?”


“Most ungentlemanly, Mr. Lowell.” He hesitated. “I am not aware of anyone in my purview taking action against Miss Carruthers. I feel no need to coerce your actions.”


“It is likely that no matter who is holding her I could obtain Miss Carruthers’ release. I offer only because I admire the young lady. There are certain… ah… costs that I would incur, however. I think you already know what I would like in return. Shall I direct my people?”

“You already know who has her.”

He paused. “I have a theory.”

“They are not friends of yours.”


“Give me an address. I’ll pay you back by hurting them as much as I possibly can.”

“An interesting proposition. Unfortunately, there are three problems: first, ‘as much as you can’ likely will prove to be very little, second, once they brush you aside they will have no reason to keep Miss Carruthers alive any longer, and finally if they find out how you got that address, it could cause me a great deal of difficulty.”

“Then give me the name of someone else who knows the address, and I’ll get it from him.”

“One way or another.”

“That’s right.”

“That’s not your usual style, Mr. Lowell.”

“They crossed a line.”

“Hm. Did they cross the line, or did you? Are you responding this way because you blame yourself?”

“Does it matter?”

“I suppose not. Before you go charging off to your death, I don’t suppose you’d care to tell me Mrs. Fanutti’s whereabouts?”


“You have not yet recovered the Blood of the Saint?”

I didn’t answer that.

He sighed. “I am going to help you, Mr. Lowell, because you are an important asset to me right now. Please remember that and try to remain one. It is the only thing keeping you alive. I have a name for you. When you speak with him, be aware that he has already saved your life once.”

Tune in next time for the conclusion of: Nest of Vipers!


Today I worked on a story that has been rejected once. The changes weren’t big, but the thing does read a bit better now. It’s a little less cluttered; I think I was trying to fit a novella into a fairly long short story. A bit after lunchtime I repaired to bíl