Tuesday, August 19, 2014

My Lack of Willpower

When I'm anxious, I tend to eat junk food. And I've been worried about a new life path and my ongoing lack of money. I've got to stop this eating though.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

An Interview With Brandon Vaughan

I can't remember how I became Facebook friends with Brandon. Since we have at least one mutual friend, I think it was recommended that we become friends. Anyway, Brandon is a writer, and he always has interesting Facebook posts, so I checked out a couple of his short stories, and I was struck by his vivid descriptions. They can be both tender and brutal, but you always get a sense of "being there" when you read his stories. I asked him if he would like to be interviewed, and he said yes. The following is a transcript of that interview. Wait--can I call it a transcript if the questions and answers were emailed?

It says you've been a writer since 1976. You're 38, right? That means you were writing since you were a baby! What the fuck, dude?

All writing comes from life experience. As soon as I could open my eyes, I began recording and storing away sounds, colors, and flavors. Writers tend to remember everything for later reference. Actually, no one has ever called me out on that statement before. I just tried to bullshit my way through that answer. Did it work?

Brandon in sixth grade. Photo courtesy of Brandon's Facebook collection.


Of course! I just got done reading your posts about your mom and dad. The one about your dad brought tears to my eyes. My ex-boyfriend has an alcoholic mom, and he won't touch it. What made you touch it and why?

I grew up around alcohol. My mother always had booze in the house. The adults imbibed, and the kids begged for sips. We (mother and step-dad) moved to Germany when I was eleven. There, if you can reach the bar, you can drink. I was angry at my displacement from Southern California to Wiesbaden, and I hung out with all the other military brats. We drank all the time, this bunch of pre-teens. Military housewives would supply us with liquor and let us hang out in their houses. It was surreal.


As a hat model. Photo courtesy of Brandon's Facebook collection.



Parenting seems to be the hardest job there is. Why do you think people continue to have/want kids even though their parents weren't the best?

Maybe everyone just wants to have a legacy. I don’t know. Some people have children as accessories. Others have them because they plan them. I know a lot of cats personally who did it just to break negative cycles, proving that they could love the way they never were by their own parents.

What did you write your first story about?

My first story was titled “Bucky the Beaver”. Bucky was the name of the mascot at Camp Cedar Falls, where I had stayed the previous summer. It was about a private detective (Bucky the Beaver) who stole Ferraris and dated models. My parents had shown me FRITZ THE CAT at an early age, and I suspect it showed a little bit in my story.


Sure sounds like it! My mom encouraged my writing, even when it might have been inflammatory. Why do you think your mom didn't encourage your writing?

I remember my mom always thought my writing was too dark and violent. People were always getting butchered in my stories, and this worried her. Plus, she had become a career woman by this time. She told me artists all died poor, but had raised me to follow my own drummer. Those hippie ideals became yuppie values. Writing just wasn’t a viable option to her.




Do you think her fucked-up relationships with men made it hard for her to see you as her son, and to treat you better?

Yes. Her father made no secret that he had always wished her a boy. He was a vile man, an abusive alcoholic incapable of loving. She compared every man in her life to her father. I think she saw her father in those men’s faces, and ultimately in mine. A few years ago, she told me all men were just like her father. Including me.

I was struck at your crystal-clear descriptions and your ability to write tenderly, and then lead me into a world of drugs. How do you do that?

I remember those situations I wrote about clearly. Part of me felt as if I were a reporter imbedded with these insane characters, helming a ship of fools. So when I write about them, raw emotions surface. I have wept at the keyboard more than once while writing about past experiences. If I can tap that energy, it hopefully translates to paper.

Do you like mafia stuff? I'm kind of interested in that, because it seems like a strange little society, within American society.

There is no Mafia.

What motivates you to write? I find when I'm angry about something, that gets me going.

Lately, I’ve been motivated by sobriety. When I drank I could barely put an idea together, let alone man the keyboard. After a few months dry, the dam burst with ideas. I had all these stories to tell. Anger is a terrific motivator. When I get sad, I love to write.

I had an acquaintance once who posted something extremely rude on my Facebook page on my birthday over three years ago. Since then, I've used her as the villain in one of my stories, and in my erotic romance novel. Do you use real people to create characters? Do you ever feel guilty about it?

I often use real people as characters. I never feel bad until their character loses a body part or drowns in their own puke. Sometimes I confess my transgression to that person. This is usually greeted with stark terror.

Do you write just short stories? Do you have anything longer, like a novella or an actual novel?

I write mostly short stories. I have been experimenting with three-page horror tales, but they can be a lot of work. Currently, I am near-completion of a novella. I’m planning some more novellas, and hope to eventually make that novel my bitch.

Do you have a book deal? Do you make money off your stories? Do you do other kinds of writing in order to earn a living?

No book deal yet. I haven’t made enough money from my writing to write home over. I used to write papers for college kids. That netted decent cash. I should look into that again.

What do you think about self-publishing? I've done it, because I'm not sure I want to wait until I'm nearly 70 to get a book deal, only to discover it was through some small outfit that wants me to bust ass to market it, just like I would a self-published book. It's satisfying to see my words in print.

I need to do more homework on self-publishing. I thought it would be simple. Nothing to it but to do it, right? Wrong. A lot of what I researched looked like all work with a minimal hope of revenue.

Do you think creative types are predestined to have substance abuse problems, or if not that, just to be depressed a lot? Because that's me, depressed a lot.

Someone said that artists create art in order to deal with their madness. We are an eccentric bunch. I know I deal with bouts of severe depression, substance abuse, and anxiety. You may be onto something there. There is something romantic about the idea of the artist’s head in the oven because of unrequited love.

How do you think that ties in with the creative process? The actress Patty Duke wrote a book that linked mental illness with creativity.

Sadness and pain have produced some of my best poetry/writing. Heroin helped me write some my most introspective ink-jazz. Meth would aid me as I curled in the corner, furiously scribbling sonic-speed thoughts in a notebook until dawn broke.

Would you trade your writing skills for anything else?

I would trade my writing skills for a bag filled with marbles. Marbles are tits.

You've posted personal shots on your Facebook page, so I kind of have a glimpse of your life. Do you get choked up when you go to weddings, knowing how disasterous it could turn out?
Did having a difficult childhood give you pause when you decided to have kids?

I hate weddings. I hate the pomp and circumstance. Hell, I hated my own weddings. These are not emotional events for me. They are pains in the ass. Unless it’s a wedding on my mom’s side of the family. Then I’m delighted by the fistfights, confrontations, and police lights.

How has your own experience growing up affected your relationship with your children? Didn't you post a FB update saying teenage boys were disgusting and that Axe shouldn't be used in place of showering?

My relationship with my children is tumultuous at best. I find myself imposing a lot of my own bullshit on them. Parents are the best at projecting their fears and failures onto their children, and I am a repeat offender. It is tough, feeling like I know the inevitable follies and traps that await them as young men, yet knowing I must allow them to experience life for themselves. I have to believe I am giving them the best possible life skills. It is not something in which I excel.

Boxers or briefs? (The ladies want to know!)

I go commando. I’ve never worn briefs, and haven’t worn boxers since 2006.

What's your writing routine? I blog twice a week, and write in my journal every night, but sometimes weeks go by before I work on my fiction, and I feel guilty about that.

Sometimes I will sit and barely accomplish any writing. Other times, I’ll write for six hours straight. I never go anywhere without a notebook and a pen.

How has technology affected your writing? I am thrilled that I can self-publish a book and not have to order a gazillion copies of it. I love print on demand!

Technology has blessed my writing endeavors. I love being able to instantly share links on social media. I’m a little disappointed in Twitter. Thought that was really going to do the work for me. On the other hand, technology has spoiled me. I whine about writing longhand because typing is so much faster.


You were adopted. Did you ever wonder what your life would have been like if your birth mom had kept you?

No, I never really wondered that. I have always wondered about my biological mother. Not my biological father (who disappeared upon news of my imminent arrival). Just her.

Have you ever met her? If not, why not?

I’ll never meet her. I didn’t find out I was adopted until 1986. I was born in Washington, where the state seals adoption records until the child is twenty-seven. By 2003, I no longer had any desire to disrupt her life.


How hard has it been to quit drinking? I know you are quitting smoking now, and it can be tough. Which has been harder to quit and why?

Quitting smoking has been far more difficult. Smokers program themselves to require nicotine at specific times. When do I want a smoke? After sex, before bed, first thing in the morning, after I shower, after I eat, after I smoke a bowl, and just after masturbating. And right now, after writing so much about smoking.

What do you hope to accomplish with your writing?

I hope my writing inspires others to write. Or to live their lives. Or how to locate the roses among the thorns. Or that a poor Spanish boy has skills beyond landscaping and customer service. Anything really, as long as it is positive.

Brandon in a particularly fierce mood. Photo courtesy of Brandon's Facebook collection.


What sucks in our society?

I hate that all the humanitarians in our country only seem interested in helping people in other countries. I’m not slamming them for their work. That’s more than I do. I just think there is so much that needs attention in our own neighborhoods, and it’s being overlooked. Also, I think it sucks the way society glamorizes bullshit. You know why the rest of the world laughs at us? Because we allow Kanye West and the E Channel to be our ambassadors.

What do you love?

I love the feel of grass beneath bare feet, a nice filet mignon, raspberry iced tea, Red Vines, sunflower seeds, a woman’s fingertips softly grazing my flesh, driving fast, explosions, Johnny Cash, and B-movies. On the real, I love life. Check that. I am in love with life.

Anything else?

I want to meet Tom Atkins so I can tear off his mustache and wear it over my own.


Where can we read and/or buy your work?

Read my blogs at bdocorleone@wordpress.com, follow me on Twitter @VaughanDoom, friend me on Facebook by pretending we were Army buddies, and check out Dark Places magazine at darkplaces.co.uk.






Monday, August 11, 2014

Robin Williams, R.I. P.

I gasped audibly. I was looking at AOL's home page, and I couldn't believe it. Robin Williams was dead.

I know we all have to die someday. But no one was expecting this. Or were they? Williams has had problems with drugs and alcohol for years, and the news reports said he'd been struggling with severe depression recently.

I've been depressed a lot in my life. But it never got so bad that I tried to commit suicide. There are issues I have had to deal with for decades, and I still can't really figure them out, or pinpoint where or how things went wrong, although I'm trying. I'm also trying to make peace with things I don't know how to change, no matter how hard I try. As depressing and hopeless as the problem seems, that isn't the MAIN thing in my life. There are other aspects of my life that I do enjoy, and I try to experience those things as much as I can.

Who DIDN'T love Robin Williams? Rarely do you see actors/performers who can do both comedy and drama well. Usually, it's one or the other, but Williams could do both, sometimes in the same movie. I remember Mrs. Doubtfire, and thinking, I have to take my mom to see this. I knew she would crack up when Williams, as Euphegenia Doubtfire, accidentally lights his fake breasts on fire while attempting to cook dinner for his first day on the job as a nanny/housekeeper to his children and former wife. It is a great movie, and wonderful to see a dad so devoted to his kids as Daniel Hillard was. Movie dads sometimes get the short end of the stick. Williams gives a wonderful performance as a father who would do anything to spend more time with his kids--including dressing up in drag.



Williams was just so talented--to the point where you wondered how anyone could be that quick, that funny. What must it have been like to live in a mind like that? Maybe it wasn't fun all the time, as we've seen. Obviously, something was going on, to abuse drugs and alcohol. And it's sad, but so many really talented people from different areas of creativity--acting, writing, sculpting, singing, dancing--seem to struggle even though they become successful. While hundreds if not thousands of stand up comics would love to have even a tenth of the success Williams has, does having talent mean you'll also be saddled with mental illness? Would those comics trade their lives for Williams after what happened today?

It's too easy, if you're just an ordinary person, to say, "why would they do that?" If you are a struggling artist, or struggling at whatever it is you're doing, to look at someone like Williams and say, "he had it all, why would he kill himself?" He lived in a beautiful part of the country, he certainly had enough money to have a good life, people around the world loved him, and he had a loving spouse and children. So why would he kill himself?

If he felt that his depression wouldn't get better, no matter what, he probably decided he didn't want to live like that. A neighbor committed suicide almost thirty years ago. He had suffered a stroke, and I am not sure what his level of recovery was, or what was predicted. Not wanting to wait to see if he'd get better, he shot himself. Never mind that he had a family who loved him. If you can't live with yourself, how can you find happiness?

It's too bad. I wish he knew that no matter what he struggled with, that people loved him. They may not have known him personally, but they admired his work, and people and organizations he tried to help along the way.

I know we all have to go sometime, but I wasn't expecting to read the words, "Robin Williams Dead" for at least another twenty years. R.I. P. You WILL be missed.


Saturday, August 9, 2014

DIY Name in Lights!


If you want an inexpensive but really cool gift, try making a Christmas light sign out of cardboard. Go to a home improvement store or somewhere they sell appliances and get a washer/dryer box, or a refrigerator box. Cut it to the size you want. I made my sign about two by four feet. Trace the saying or name on the cardboard in pencil, so if you make a mistake, you can erase it.

Measure the distance between the bulbs. My bulbs were about two and half inches apart, so I penciled holes about two inches apart. I used a drill to make the holes. I gradually used bigger bits so I got holes that were just a hair smaller than the bulbs.

This is after I drilled the holes. If you don't have a drill, that's okay. Use a box cutter or Xacto knife to cut tiny x's in the cardboard so you can fit the bulbs through.

This is the drill I used. I think the bit size I used was 15/64.

I already had paint so I didn't have to buy it. I used Olympic Icon Satin and the color, also an Olympic color, was Crushed Velvet.

After you make the holes, push the bulbs through. If you drilled the holes, make sure the holes are just a bit smaller than the bulbs, so the bulbs sit firm. The drill will make the cardboard fringe a little bit, so what you need to do next is ...

push the bulb through all the way. Then, take the cardboard fringe and pinch it around the wire, then shove the bulb back into the hole. The fringe will help the bulb sit a bit firmer. If the bulbs get wiggly, use some electrical tape to secure them.

To make the most of your light string, start with the very end and start at either end, with the first or last letter, then work your way to the right (or left.) If you want the plug-in part to be on the right side of the sign, start on the left. If you want the plug on the left, start on the right.

Get some foam blocks and glue them on another piece of cardboard, about the same size as your sign. After you've put the bulbs in the sign and taped them into place, glue the backboard to the back of the cardboard with the bulbs in it. This is so you can hang the sign on the wall. Drill or cut holes in the back and tie some twine or picture wire firmly.


My friend Heidi with her finished gift! She was very pleased to get it. I was happy with it myself. If you want to experiment with different fonts, type out the name or saying you want to make on a computer with whatever font you want. Then, print it out and if you need to, enlarge it on a photocopier. Just remember the bigger the sign, or the more elaborate the font, the more lights you'll need. I was able to make this sign with one string of lights. Since I had everything I needed except the lights, the electrical tape and the foam blocks, my financial outlay for this was $8 and tax. Not bad at all when you end up with a one-of-a-kind gift! I got this idea from an article on Buzzfeed.com. (It's tip number 16.) Check it out!




Monday, August 4, 2014

Begging For Scholarship Money

Well, I’m back in school again. And of course, I’m broke. So that’s why I’m writing this blog post. I’m trying to win a scholarship. Since I scored a 5.5 out of 6 on my analytical essay writing portion of my GRE, I’m hoping my kick-ass writing skills will get me some money for school.

So, the topic is “How Technology Helped You Explore Your World.” Well, if I want to see famous cities that I can’t afford to visit, I’ll go to Google Street View and type in an address, and I can see it. I’ve used this several times to check out the hotel where I once stayed in NYC (it’s not the same one anymore) and also to check out where killer Canadian Karla Homolka lived. I’ve also used Google Street View for my creative writing. Say I’m writing a story, part of which takes place in New York. If I want to have my protagonists sitting in a cute little Italian restaurant, I’ll go online Google Italian restaurants in NYC,  and pick a place for them to eat. If I want them to order the signature dish, I can also Google the restaurant name, and check out the menu. Same thing with the hotel the female protagonist is staying at. I’m working on an erotic fiction romance, part of which takes place in Indianapolis, so I go online to Google maps (no, this is not a scholarship sponsored by Google) and see what types of businesses are near the neighborhood the characters are currently living in. It saves time driving there, and gas, and ultimately, our planet’s resources.

Since I do write, I’ve used the Internet to get my writing out there. I’ve posted short stories on a few websites.  Before the Internet, I’d have to type it out, make copies, and ask people if they want to read it. It’s nice to know something you’ve written has been enjoyed by over 100,000 people (according to Short-fiction.co.uk. My erotic fiction is HOT!) It makes my day when someone reads my stuff and really likes it, and takes the time to tell me.

Thanks to Facebook, I’ve been able to reconnect with people from my past. Facebook has made it very easy to do that.

And I have my own YouTube channel! Imagine that! I wouldn’t have been able to twenty years ago. If someone had told me one day there would be a website where you can upload videos of your pet doing something funny, or a friend doing something wacky, I wouldn’t have believed them. I also wouldn’t have believed I would someday buy a video camera that is literally the size of a 12 ounce can of soda. For less than $250!


So there you have it. The Internet has helped me explore my world and not feel so alone. Now, if I can just stop watching Parry Gripp videos and checking out Buzzfeed…

Friday, August 1, 2014

Lovelace The Movie

I stopped by Delmar Video to rent Her, which sounded interesting. I thought the cover looked rather funny, sort of like a 1970's porn movie, with Joaquin Phoenix staring out with his green eyes and pornstache. I haven't watched it yet, because I picked up Lovelace, and wanted to watch that first.


I've read Ordeal, Linda Lovelace's autobiography about what it was REALLY like being America's biggest porn star. She met up with a jerk named Chuck Traynor, except he didn't seem like a jerk at first. I've also read the sequel to Ordeal as well. Those familiar with Lovelace's REAL story will probably be disappointed with the film. Some parts of it ring true, but of course, the abuse isn't shown. Neither, of course, is the Deep Throating. The film depicts Linda, portrayed by Amanda Seyfried, as the naive, seemingly up for anything girl who falls into Traynor's clutches. At first, everything looks good--the young couple in love, taking pictures, taking home movies. It's one of these home movies that gets the attention of some producers, and the filming of Deep Throat commences. Peter Sarsgaard plays Chuck Traynor, who isn't really as mean in this film as he was in real life.

If you're curious about the REAL story, you need to check out Inside Deep Throat. Lovelace tries, but the real horror wasn't addressed at all, so when the footage of Lovelace on Phil Donohue's show is shown in the movie, you're wondering why she's there. It was mildly interesting, but the fictional depiction of Lovelace's life pales in comparison to Inside Deep Throat.

Prince Charming Vs. the Bad Boys


Prince Charming as he SHOULD be: in shape, and NO tattoos.




Facebook is interesting in the sense that you can people watch, but it's more of a reading exercise. You can usually spot patterns: the FB friend who only posts political stuff, which gets annoying, even if you agree with it. There's the eternal cat pictures, food photos and people who seemingly don't have a life at all, it's just re-posted stuff regarding politics, religion or philosophy.

Then, there are the people who post about their love lives. I've spotted a pattern with a FB friend who moans about not finding a guy, then finds a guy, falls in love with him within minutes. There's two weeks of bliss, of declarations of love eternal, lots of pictures. Okay, maybe three or four weeks of this. Shortly thereafter, there are cryptic posts about thinking they know what love is. Following that, the inevitable sad posts of love gone wrong. And then the cycle starts again.

I've seen one FB friend post like this on a regular basis, over a period of maybe two or three years. It's starting to get annoying. Shortly after the last "I thought I knew what love was, but now I don't and never will" post, she posted a Someecard that said something like, "Fuck Prince Charming: Give me a bad boy with tattoos." She totally missed the irony of that, of course. I left a comment saying something like, "funny how women who hook up with bad boys end up with all the drama."

I know Prince Charming doesn't exist, but do women have to completely swing the other way and think they can fall in love with a felon and reform him? Doesn't work. And if she's lucky, all the woman ends up with is a broken heart. If she's REALLY unlucky, she's broken-hearted AND pregnant. And because she's an idiot, she'll keep the child, and end up broke or the rest of her life.

Ugh. I always thought the nerd from that Mystery Date game was cute.




I get lonely sometimes, but I'm not so desperate that I hook up with anybody. I'm way past my expiration date when it comes to dating anyway. But I listen to people, women mostly, talk about their boyfriends, and I count myself lucky. LUCKY. Because I hear tales of putting up with cheating boyfriends because they make the money, and the woman and kids would be homeless without him. Or, there's the bad relationship, and the first kid, the break up, then the going back, and bingo! Kid number two. I used to think there was something wrong with me, but now, I'm really kind of glad I'm so horribly unattractive that men won't come within two feet of me unless they are trying to sell me something. I never had to worry about having kids out of wedlock.

And if there are any guys reading this, I honestly don't know what it is with women wanting bad boys. I personally think they are assholes. There's a little bit of intrigue about a guy who is a bit moody, perhaps a bit of a loner, or on the quiet side. But being attracted to flat-out assholery is something I can't understand. I chalk it up to low self-esteem on the part of women. They are so desperate for a man, they will take ANY MAN. Trust me, I've seen it.

So go ahead and date the bad boy. Then please spill your guts on FB on how terribly sad you are. Then repeat the process, until you meet King Asshole and finally marry him. Then have a couple of kids, then fuck them up terribly by getting a divorce from King Asshole, who will go on to create a whole new family, thus traumatizing your kids, because daddy doesn't have time for them anymore, and you're totally broke. That's a prescription for a horrible life. And women wonder why they end up in these situations. I'm here to tell you THAT'S WHY.