Marital Reminders…

At work this morning I picked a piece of paper off the floor – something I would usually just throw directly into the bin, but this had been fashioned into the shape of a joint, so curiosity got the better of me and I unrolled it.

Inside was the message, in a hasty hand: Phone The Wife.

Nothing else. No reason why, and no time frame in which to make this call. It was like it was part of a checklist that he was making sure he ticked off before going to bed at night. I guess kudos to him for being so organised.

I don’t know why the husband in question felt it necessary to remind himself to call his wife. I mean, it’s probably something that every good husband should be doing as a matter of course anyway, right? Was he going to forget to do it? Well maybe he would now that he had lost his note.

I didn’t recognise the handwriting either, but that’s probably for the best.

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What I’ve Done This Week #32…

It dawned on me recently that the synopsis for my novel Slipwater is perhaps not up to scratch. That must be the reason nobody has picked it up yet. I mean, it can’t be the story, right?

In fact, after looking into it a little more it seems that what I have written is not really a synopsis at all. It’s more like the blurb you would read on a dust jacket, and that’s not what they are looking for.

It’s hard to condense an 88,000 word novel into 250 words, and in doing so I also have to spoil what happens as well. I understand the editors and agents want to know what is in store for them should they read on beyond the initial bunch of pages I’ve sent them, but a lot of the excitement from reading comes from not knowing what to expect.

I can’t help but think that by exposing the details of my novel up front I do the telling of the story a disservice, which in turn reduces the thrill of turning the page.

Still, if that’s what they want I best get it done.

Potted Film Review: The Equalizer 2 (2018)

Starring: Denzel Washington, Pedro Pascal, Ashton Sanders

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What’s it all about?
The Equalizer 2 takes up a little further down the road from where the first movie ended, with McCall (Denzel Washington) working as a driver-for-hire by day, while at night he plays at being a vigilante warrior.

This time around Chloe Grace Moretz, who was pivotal to the thrust of the first entry, is nowhere to be seen… so already it’s an uphill battle. In an effort to mirror that relationship, McCall befriends Miles, another troubled teenager. A poor imitation for sure, but it is the best thread of the movie.

There are some stand-out moments – a fight in a moving car through the streets of Boston, and a tense search through McCall’s apartment come to mind – but this is disappointingly rote.

Watching it with the kids…
As with the first movie, this is pretty violent stuff with lots of blood and breaking of bones. Best not pick this one up if you’re looking for rainbows and snowflakes, or for something to babysit the little ones.

Verdict…
This is hard for me, because I really enjoyed the original movie. The only job this sequel had was to give me more of the same. Do that and I’m (probably) happy. Unfortunately, The Equalizer 2 is half-baked, and it doesn’t do anything as well as the first installment. It’s also very clumsy and far too convoluted for the story it wants to tell.

Not Recommended ↓

Eagles, Chapter III – On the Border (1974)

Members: Don Felder, Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Bernie Leadon, Randy Meisner

On the Border is somewhat of the bastard child in the Eagles catalogue. It comes just a year after their ambitious second album and feels a little light in comparison, although there are still a few gems here.

Don Felder was a late addition to the band here, and as such this album is the first line-up change in their three year history. His impact is minimal here, and his real presence will be felt later.

Already Gone (Jack Tempchin / Robb Strandlund)
Lead – Frey
Things get off to a good start on this album, with this uptempo rocker which became a staple of their live sets. Once again Frey takes the reins and proves his chops. 7
You Never Cry Like a Lover (Don Henley / JD Souther)
Lead – Henley
This is an underrated album song that showcases Henley at his melodic best, so much so that it is almost a disappointment when the other guys join in after a couple of verses. Still, that middle third is a keeper. 8
Midnight Flyer (Paul Craft)
Lead – Meisner
Banjo tracks are really a tough sell for me, even when they’re done by the Eagles. This is completely fine, and the final section is more interesting than what has come before, but that’s about it. 5
My Man (Bernie Leadon)
Lead – Leadon
This is Leadon’s only solo gig on his penultimate album with the Eagles. It’s not bad, but it’s entirely forgettable, and the poorest track on this album. 5
On the Border (Don Henley / Bernie Leadon / Glenn Frey)
Lead – Henley
The title track is a good palette cleanser after a couple of so-so songs. It pulls the boys away from their country roots and injects a little rock into their sound. Interestingly, Bernie Leadon shares the writing credit for this one, as it’s not the kind of track I would associate with him. 8
James Dean (Don Henley / Glenn Frey / JD Souther / Jackson Browne)
Lead – Frey
James Dean feels like an odd subject for a song. He had been dead for a couple of decades when this album was released, so even then it must have felt like a time capsule of sorts. 45 years later, it’s hard to see this having much resonance with the youth of today, but still, it’s a cool groove. 6
Ol’ 55 (Tom Waits)
Lead – Frey & Henley
This one doesn’t do much for me, but the vocals are crisp and I like the way it builds. It’s also good to hear Frey and Henley sharing the spotlight and taking turns with it. 5
Is it True? (Randy Meisner)
Lead – Meisner
Meisner’s vocal contributions to this album were not the best, but this is the better of the two. Without the guitar, this would probably be scored lower. 6
Good Day in Hell (Don Henley / Glenn Frey)
Lead – Frey
This is where you can hear the strongest contribution by Don Felder on this album, and it hints at the direction the band would be taking from this point on. Great title too. 7
Best of My Love (Don Henley / Glenn Frey / JD Souther)
Lead – Henley
One of the greatest songs the Eagles ever produced, and a perfect fit for Henley. Lyrics with real emotion is not always a requirement, but this is heartfelt and poignant, and a real showcase for the harmonies that would become the group’s calling card. 10

Overall: 67%
Disappointingly, this feels like a bit of a step down from their last effort. Best of My Love is its saving grace, so for that reason it’s hard to be too negative here.

What I’ve Done This Week #31…

This week I wrote the first new material for The Ballad of Martha Brody that I have done in years. It’s not much, and it was more than a little spontaneous, but it does mean the story is on my mind.

At the start of the year I mentioned that I was considering going back to this story, and I was… but since that time other pieces have taken precedence. Now I’m ready to – at the very least – include it in my rotation of stories.

The first thing I have to do is find a place within the narrative for the orphaned chapter I wrote some time ago, since the last draft was finished in 2013. After that I need to figure out if this thing can be stretched to a novel (without compromising the story I’m telling), or if it should remain in that literary wasteland where all the other novellas reside.

Decisions.

Potted Film Review: Chloe (2009)

Starring: Liam Neeson, Amanda Seyfried, Julianne Moore

51cvj8kZo5LWhat’s it all about?
Liam Neeson plays David, a college professor who is caught running the same routine day after day. His wife Catherine (played by Julianne Moore) suspects him of having an affair, so she hires call-girl, Chloe (Amanda Seyfried), to tempt him and see if he really is being faithful.

Catherine regularly meets with Chloe to find out what has happened between the two of them, and Chloe is very quick to spill the beans, although things get a little twisted when it is apparent that Catherine is attracted to the call-girl she is paying to seduce her husband.

As the film winds up to boiling point it plays out like every other erotic thriller you have ever seen, and you won’t find any new twists on old tropes here.

Watching it with the kids…
Chloe is an erotic thriller, so that should tell you all you need to know. There is perhaps less nudity than you would expect (because nobody really wants to see Liam Neeson bumping uglies), but there are some fairly graphic sexual descriptions here that may have you cringing. So no, don’t watch it with them.

Verdict…
Erotic thrillers were very popular in the nineties, and this feels like it should be right there next to those, because it’s about quarter of a century too late. There are many better and more innovative examples of this genre out there if that’s what you’re in to, so go watch one of those, because this is competent at best.

Not Recommended ↓

What I’ve Done This Week #29 (and #30)…

Well it is finally done. It took a lot longer than I had anticipated, but after powering through the rough patches, Flowers For Someone Else is finished. Perfect? No. But it’s done. It’s not what I had expected at the beginning, but stories rarely stick to the blueprint.

At 3100 words, it is the longest new story I have written for almost five years. Every time I tried to wrap it up the words just kept on coming – not necessarily a bad problem to have, but I was starting to worry I had forgotten how to climax… in a manner of speaking.

Flowers For Someone Else is also the only tale (I can remember) that I’ve done in second person, so that’s a nice one to strike off my creative writing bucket list.

Now I can file that one away and move on…