Saturday, September 08, 2007

Every Day I Write The Book

DSCF0009Okay, so I've been away for five days or so. Fear not however as I am no less obsessed with writing and being read than before. I've just been busy - first with the aforementioned out of town assignment and then with the lovely people who reside under my roof and insist I play an active role in their lives. Why, the nerve... And, oh yeah, there's another reason I've been silent as of late. Truthbetold, I'm reluctant to talk about it but higher forces have advised I do so in an effort to cement the idea into reality. Soooooo, here goes...

I'm working on The Book.

Sure, I've mentioned it before - but it's mostly been pillow talk. Despite all my deep-seeded wishes to turn the best of what I've already written into a coherent anthology with a beginning, middle and end, I've been damn slack in the Get It Done department. My bad! For the longest time I blamed my busy schedule: job, family, blog - who has time to collate? Besides, who'd wanna read the ramblings of a nobody cameraman with a thesaurus and an attitude, anyway? Okay, I'm still a little fuzzy on that last one, but it hardly matters. See, I've been visited by Extraterrestrials. Not gray, scaly egghead, mind you but other high-flying lifeforms who actually believe my words deserve at the very least to be a book proposal .

But a book proposal is kinda hollow without a manuscript to back it up, so I'm currently in the painful process of re-write. Understand, the very idea of re-write is antithetical to the way I roll. I'm used to getting amped-up on good coffee, pounding the keyboard at dangerous speeds and hitting Send without too much review. Now, I'm paying for it, slogging through screeds and epistles while I wonder how it will all fit together. Luckily, I have some help thanks to a straight shooting ally who knows a thing or three about volume compilation. I'd love to scream their names in exalted praise, but out of respect for the voice on the phone and the wonderful soul who's paying herto do so, I'll hold off.

Just try to understand if my output wanes from time to time, for as frighteningly easy as I find it to blog, I find it just as difficult to burnish my prose in ink. So while I can offer you no time-table and divulge no names, but rest assured I'm finally making headway - more certain than ever that a more tactile version of Viewfinder BLUES is all but inevitable. What may happen to such a work after its difficult birth is still unclear, but I promise more updates as they're needed. For now though ... let us never speak of this.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Off to Challst'n...

Reaction Cam
Crikey! Just when I was about to get to the really greasy details of my naval stint, the doohickey those nice American Idol people implanted in my forehead starts to throb. It seems a shrinking army of off-key songbirds are warbling in the City of Challst'n and my lenslinging assistance is needed. Will I suffer the brooding stares of a countless Chris Daughtry wannabes? Will I camera-dance with castoffs as they curse the lineage of the testy Brit who just crushed their dreams? Will I tire of the whole charade after twenty minutes? Yes to all three! But, will I blog?


Monday, September 03, 2007

Tension on Deck

Me at SeaI once thought time passed by slowest in my hometown of Saulston, North Carolina. Let me tell you, the hands of time shoot you a big middle figure when you’re twenty years old and indentured out to sea. That’s what it felt like out there. A year earlier I was cruising the bars of Greenville, pretending to be a college student and enjoying more female attention than I’d once even thought possible. Now I spent my hours strapped to a radar screen, an ornery floor buffer or a stack of dirty baking pans. Sure I was building character, but as I moped about the pitching deck of the USS Mount Whitney, my sweat-soaked 'mess-crankin' t-shirt drying in the briny breeze, it was hard not to feel a little sorry for myself. So I did. Certain my high school buddies were clinking beer bottles with buxom co-eds back home, I drank cherry-colored bug juice ten miles off the coast of Cuba. Luckily, there was no war going on. 'Cept the one in my head.

Attention on DeckI’d joined on a lark. Out of money, out of a job, out of luck, I’d burned up any good will my parents had to offer through a stunning series of stupid moves. I’ll spare you the ugly details, but lets just say at 19 years old, I felt like a complete wash-up. Too dumb to go to school, but far smarter than the crowd I regularly partied with, I excelled at not excelling. One night a roommate named Don and I knocked back a half gallon of Rum and hatched a feeble plan. Both ourlives had run adrift. College seemed utterly out of reach, working some dead end job felt pointless. Merriment was our only goal - usually the illegal kind. While we were more than happy to chase that score wherever it took us, Don and I both knew we weren’t living right. Downing the ancient sailor's grog, my roommate who couldn’t get out of bed before noon most days laid out his plans for Naval glory.

Caribbean 88Seems Don’s Dad had been in ’The Nav’. Or his grandfather, I can’t recall. All I do know is, as the Bacardi vanished, the idea of allowing some faceless entity to sweep me away seemed like the very height of logic. Even when I awoke the next, my head throbbing with residual drink, marching down to the recruiter’s office and saying ’take me away’ seemed like a very sensible idea. So we did. Or should I say, I. Don was there at the beginning - right by my side as we strolled in front of a daydreaming Petty Officer and proclaimed ourselves freebies of the week. Once the P.O. stopped doing back-flips, he scheduled us for an immediate ASVAB. That’s the military entrance exam, a kind of assessment to determine whether you’re leadership material or soggy cannon fodder. I must have scored well, for the recruiters honed in on me like long-lost sailors on one last morsel of hardtack. Six weeks later, I shipped out - while Don scored an eight ball with some new roomies, impressing them with stories of a thwarted Naval career.

Between ShiftsBoot camp was surreal. While not exactly Seal Training, it was the toughest thing I ever did physically. Less rigorous were the constant head-games our Company Commanders used to strike dread in the hearts of hapless recruits. Hey, I’m no military strategist, but even I knew when to shut the hell up and do as told. Others’ inability to do so both made me feel both better about my own prospects and deeply worried about my country’s future. Soon a superior noticed my burgeoning competence and anointed me ‘squad leader’. Immediately I found myself in charge of six guys, three toilet stalls and a boatload of crisply folded wash-cloths. Aye Aye Sir, this just may be the life for me. My confidence was really swelling when about halfway through boot camp, an instructor started talking about what life would be like aboard a ship. Aboard a ship? They still do that? I remember looking around the hushed barracks to see if anyone else was shocked at such a notion. They weren’t, but for reasons I can't fully explain, I was blown away. A ship?

(To Eventually Be Continued...)

Sunday, September 02, 2007

The Rogue Samaritan

When last we checked in with Dick Carney, the Pitt County man was leading his 'Cajun Country Convoy' through the wake of Hurricane Katrina . Since then, the consummate handyman has found new ways to channel his own brand of crusty compassion. Whether whipping his Presbyterian pals into a do-gooder's frenzy, outfitting a disaster relief van or launching his own blog, this 'Old Goat' rarely chills. Recently, his campaign to bring air conditioning to a heat-stricken animal shelter caught the eyes of the scribes at his local paper - who no doubt know a good character when they spot one. Yes, Dick Carney's many things. 'Saint' ain't one of 'em. But this clever carpenter and born storyteller's desire to help others is so deeply ingrained in his DNA, he bleeds good will. That, and Texas Pete. Anyway, as an expatriate of his native Greenville, I can't help but crow about this rogue Samaritan - even if I wasn't his prodigal son. (Photo by Greg Eanes)