|Christmas cocktails at the Rrazz Room, San Francisco, 12/25/10|
|With Bud E. Luv, at his Christmas Show at the Rrazz Room, San Francisco, 12/25/10|
The passage of time can be marked in many ways. For me, the holiday season always leaves me with a feeling of bittersweet melancholia. I love this time of year but you only get so many Christmases in your lifetime. Then there's the official acknowledgment, New Year's Eve, when we collectively celebrate the end of one calendar year and the beginning of the next. Even though these are man-made markers of Time, they bear symbolic significance. It's not just a matter of making resolutions, but for reviewing recollections, chalking up accomplishments, and paying tribute to whatever, or whomever, you've lost since the last year-end toast.
2010 was an incredibly painful yet simultaneously exhilarating year for me, personally and professionally. Whereas 2009 saw the end of my career as a film programmer, 2010 was the year I finally hung up the fez as ring-leader of Thrillville, though I really just down-shifted into "Chillville," hosting a so-far successful monthly movie (DVD) night called "Forbidden Thrills" at Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge (where I'll be spending New Year's Eve, working the door). This downsized version of Thrillville - cult movies and cocktails sans the drama and logistics - better suits my mood these days. The road shows post-Speakeasy were fun but not particularly lucrative, or fulfilling. Facing both a creative and a financial crossroads, I decided to recalibrate my compass and change, or rather resume, course: I returned to my literary roots and finished a novel I had abandoned shortly after the Parkway opened in 1997, A Mermaid Drowns in the Midnight Lounge, finished it, and then self-published it. This feat inspired me to go back and finally publish the very first novel I ever wrote, Chumpy Walnut, after living with it as manuscript for three decades, carrying it around like a genie in a bottle. I finally popped the cork. No dramatic magical changes in my life, but seeing it in print was in itself a self-granted wish. Finally, I published a crime novel that had been sitting on my web site for a few years, Down a Dark Alley, originally written in 1992, a year before I wrote my private eye novel Love Stories Are Too Violent For Me, published by Wild Card Press in 1996, and subsequently optioned by Christian Slater almost annually since 2001 (including a renewal this past summer.) If he ever finally makes the movie, that will definitely be a game-changer for my career. I can't count on it, though. That's why I just keep writing and rolling the dice. Down a Dark Alley is dedicated to my late friend Brian Hill, who always encouraged me to publish it. It was very satisfying, if still somewhat sad, given the fact he is gone, to finally hand a copy to his widow Mary.
|Cover Image by Mike Lewis|
|My original illustrations for "Chumpy" adorn the cover|
|Cover art by R. Black|
|My beloved Bubba, RIP|
But the overwhelming milestone of 2010 was the slow death of my beloved cat Bubba. He was diagnosed with cancer in January, and was only given a couple of months to live, but with a little diet adjustment, affordable medication and lots of love, he lasted another eight months, finally expiring on September 13 - the same day Chumpy Walnut was officially published. The anticipation of Bubba's demise cast a dark cloud over pretty much everything that transpired this year, including my return to writing fiction, but in a way, it inspired me to create, which has always been my proactive reaction to grief.
|Googie and Tiki|
Two days after we lost Bubba, we adopted a kitten whom we named Googie. He has given us much joy and provided a healing presence in this strange, post-Bubba world. We are very grateful for him. He makes a perfect companion to our dear female cat, Tiki, who has finally emerged from her mourning period. Now they get along splendidly, which does our broken hearts a lot of good.
Looking ahead to 2011, I am filled with the same unnerving mixture of hope and apprehension that plagued me the last two years around this time. But I got through 2009 and 2010, responding positively and many ways triumphantly to challenging circumstances, and I am confident I will continue this upward swing through 2011. Goal #1 remains finding steady work, ideally as a freelance writer, my true calling, desired vocation and really my only field of expertise. This can manifest in many ways. Besides my expanded fiction market, I have a new movie column at Examiner.com which doesn't pay much, but it helps to expand my platform and brand name, so that's a good. I need to keep building on my renewed literary foundation. Here's to many more thrills to come, both written and lived. Thanks for reading. Cheers and Happy New Year.
|The Viharo Pulp Fiction Collection|