The Forum

The Forum is the home page for commentary on the Michel Lowe website.  Granted, nearly every page offers the scribbler the opportunity to deface it with commentary.  But this is the place where the sort of no-holds-barred, eye-gouging, disputatious discussions should take place.

The rules are simple:

  • All civil comments are welcomed; the webmaster is the sole arbiter of civility and incivility will be dealt with in the harshest manner
  • Posts require that you register

This is a moderated forum so there will be a little delay between when you post and when your post is published.

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22 Responses to The Forum

  1. Michel says:

    I’ve asked the web meister to update the page a little. I think it’s simpler and less cluttered. What do you think?

  2. Michel says:

    The Author Blog
    I’ve been writing The Dog Walker since March. I expect to have the first draft finished in the next month. Then begins the challenge of marketing the project!

    A lot of my time is spent, not in the writing but in researching the subject. We’ve all seen movies and read books, even watched TV shows like Profiler, Millennium, and Criminal Minds. So we think we know something about these monsters. Yet unless you’ve been one, it is hard work to put yourself into the mind of a serial killer.

    The writing is tough, too!

  3. Michel says:

    “The Event” is Not “Lost
    I just finished watching The Event tonight. I’d been thinking it was a ripoff of Lost, especially with all the flashbacks into the characters’ past. But I’m coming to the conclusion that it’s not a Lost ripoff, it’s 24.

    Here’s why: For all the mystery, flashbacks, ensemble cast and twisty plots/subplots/sub-subplots, we are just being jerked around. The show goes into hiatus after next week, sure to return just in time for the May sweeps, and we’ll only find out in the last two episodes who Hal Holbrook is supposed to be (my vote is the X-Files alien bounty hunter), why he’s sucking the life force out of little girls like some ET vampire, what’s up with Sophia and if president Blair Underwood will ever get a clue.

    Now think about the last season of 24 you watched which was probably not last year. You sat glued to the box week after week watching terrorists, double-agents, CBW, nukes for God’s sake, and so many duplicitous civil servants you start wondering what your post office is really up to only to find out the reveal in the penultimate & ultimate episodes and you ask yourself, “Why did I sit through all this mayhem and torture?” I coulda skipped the whole thing – maybe even read a good book! – and just watched those last two episodes.

    And that’s what NBC-Universal-Comcast is doing to those of us stupid enough to watch The Event week after week.

  4. Michel says:

    The Author Blog
    More work on The Dog Walker this week. I’m so close to the end I’m already going back and revising it in my head, adding scenes, intensifying action. It’s tempting to just give it one manic lost weekend push and be done with it, but I’ve got the last two weeks of December off and I’ll finish it up then.

    BTW, I’m looking for “first readers” for the manuscript. I have a close friend who also writes and he’s been looking over the story so far, but it would be nice if someone would volunteer to read the whole thing and give me some honest feedback. I mean, my mom wants to read it, too, but what kind of honest feedback can I expect from her????

    If you’re interested in a look at the entire first draft, post on the blog; the webmaster will give me your contact info so there’s no need to list your name and address in front of God and everyone on the fracking Internet.

  5. Michel says:

    My friend Dave sent me this little nugget as a Christmas gift. We used to play the song as a duet but he’s been gone all these years. Not dead, just moved to Arizona.
    I hope you enjoy it!
    Merry Christmas,

  6. Michel says:

    The Author Blog
    I finished The Dog Walker!
    I pulled an all-nighter and just finished the final scene. This first draft clocks in at 345 pages, just over 63,000 words – paltry by the standards of Stephen King. But I just started re-reading Deliverance by James Dickey and it’s only 278 pages. Not that I’m daring to compare my work to King or Dickey, just throwing some statistics around.

    I’ve promised to let a couple of friends look at it but I’m also interested in a more dispassionate audience. Anyone feel up to it?

  7. Michel says:

    The Author Blog
    I’ve been having a running dialogue with a friend about the point of view of my story, The Dog Walker. Throughout it I’ve used a narrative style that I’ve been calling “Third-Person, Really Limited Omniscience.” I just Google’d it and found out the style already has a name and it’s called “Third Person Multiple” though I like my name better.

    Like other versions of the third-person omniscient style, the reader is given a God’s eye view of the story: events are described as they occur, not related or interpreted by one of the characters, and the reader “sees” events from all over the story. In first-person or first-person omniscient the story is told by a (sometimes questionable) single character from her point of view. Think of a Mike Hammer story. First-person omniscient lets the reader in on the character’s thoughts and motivations as in:

    As soon as I entered the room I knew something was wrong. Isotopes still melting in the scotch, a cigar burning in the ashtray, and there was Dunlop, the .45 in his hand and his brains spattered on the Matisse. What was wrong with this picture?

    Compare this with how you watch a movie. The camera “sees” the action unfolding: it’s an interior of the pot ranch and Matheson is halfway out of the floor hatch holding a gun on Saul. The camera switches to Matheson’s POV and sees a car explode through the wall tearing straight at him! Then the camera goes back to the master shot and we see the car (presumably) crush Matheson as it smashes right thru him on its way to a crash against another car.

    We can assume Matheson (a) said a prayer, (b) shat his pants, (c) all of the above but we never hear his thoughts. We just see the action unfold in the last scenes of “Pineapple Express.” Director David Gordon Green gave us a perfect example of what I call the third-person really limited omniscience — we hear dialogue, observe events taking place in Ted Jones’ house, the Asian’s, in the police car, at the pot ranch. But there are no goofy voice-overs filling in what the stoners are thinking or what Ted is planning or why Red is lying to our heroes about his cold sore. Compare this, if you dare, to the dreadful David Lynch adaptation of Frank Herbert’s “Dune” where every third line of dialogue is a voice-over of one character or another thinking “Is he The One?” or “Dune…desert planet” or some such dreck.

    So I employed this screenwritery technique of showing the reader events unfolding and dialogue from a fly-on-the-wall POV, but I’ve tried to imply what the characters are thinking from what they are saying and doing. It makes it more difficult to switch POV from character to character without expressly saying “meanwhile, back at the ranch” or some such.

  8. Michel says:

    The Author Blog
    I have read two books on writing and both say that you should take your first draft and set it aside for some time, let it age. So I’m letting The Dog Walker age.

    It’s frustrating.

    I’ve had several people read the first draft and say it’s pretty good including one person who has read nearly EVERYTHING in the murder mystery genre. I’ve been thinking of tightening up a few plot points and am dying to get back to the book.

    2011 Guide to Literary Agents advises to set aside your manuscript for at least a couple of weeks before re-reading it (it is to be hoped with fresh eyes) and revising it. Stephen King advises authors to put that manuscript in a drawer for SIX MONTHS before revising. Maybe Stephen King can afford to park a MS for six months but not me. I gotta get this thing fixed and into the hands of an agent – pronto!

    So I’m aging The Dog Walker and working on the second Drew Wilson book, The Lonely Man. It’s coming along nicely – I’m at more than 60 pages and almost 10,000 words. Still, I’m anxious to get on with revising The Dog Walker so I can start its marketing effort. In the meantime I’m reading James Dickey’s Deliverance, Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward, Angel, and a Dave Robicheaux book The Glass Rainbow. I feel like I’m steeping myself in southern writers and I guess that can’t hurt. Faulkner anyone?

  9. Michel says:

    The Police Commissioner You Deserve…
    I’ve watched most of the episodes of the CBS cop drama Blue Bloods, mostly out of nostalgia for Tom Selleck. I was always a Magnum fan and I just wanted to see how he’s holding up. In case you’ve spent the fall and winter under a rock, the show is a multi-generational drama, with Tom Selleck as the New York City police commissioner, his father a retired police commissioner, and his sons cops, too. It’s actually a star vehicle for Donnie Wahlberg who plays an NYPD detective.

    I realized this weekend that Tom is the police commissioner New Yorkers deserve the same way that Martin Sheen was the president we deserved.

    There’s no comparison between the writing on Blue Bloods and that of The West Wing, but both depict an idealized leader making tough decisions against an often morally ambiguous background. Selleck shakes off political considerations, even rebukes the mayor who presumably gave him the job, to always do the right thing for the city and for the NYPD. Sheen as President Bartlet, was way more political, but still tended to come down in a black-and-white way on the right side of most issues.

  10. Michel says:

    The Author Blog
    I’ve been plugging away at the second Drew Wilson book, The Lonely Man, since January. I’m making pretty good progress, got 75 pages and over 12,000 words – a good start. This is a transitional work to get the characters from their introduction in The Dog Walker to more complex and nuanced persons to wind up in the third book, The Hungry Ghost. BTW, that’s a working title. Hungry ghosts have started to appear in other media and I may be forced to change the title before it ever sees print. But in my heart the third book will always be The Hungry Ghost.

    Speaking of The Hungry Ghost, I couldn’t resist starting it, at least giving it a shove out into the subconscious stream of effluvium flowing between my ears. Plus I stumbled upon some fascinating news over the past two months that will be important to the story and I was afraid I would forget it. So I’ve got about 50 pages done which makes my writerly output a very respectable 125 pages in two months. That’s about 14 pages per week or three pages per workday. I know that professional writers like to get down twice that many pages but I’m still a semi-pro working a full time job doing something else to pay the bills. So when you consider that I have to squeeze my writing into a couple of hours a day or maybe just weekends, my output is more impressive. Everything’s relative as physicists and prostitutes say.

    Meanwhile, back at the ranch…
    (No, not Sober Valley Ranch, Rancho Miguel!)
    Back at the ranch, it’s time to re-read and revise The Dog Walker. It’s been aging like cheddar or fine wine since December. I’ve had some pretty good feedback and I’ve thought about some things I left out or that need a little more development. In the next week or two I’ll start the revision.

  11. Michel says:

    Totally Off Topic
    My roots are in the Midwest, specifically St. Louis. My wife and I were raised in the northwestern St. Louis suburbs that were hit by last week’s tornado. Her folks live within spitting distance of Lambert Field and suffered no damage when the storm took out the airport.

    My folks live 150 miles south on the beautiful Current River. There’s a link to it on the “About the author…” page. Right now it is about 18 feet above normal which means this crystal Ozark stream is a raging, muddy torrent flowing through my parent’s lower back yard. A rise to 25 feet will put water on their deck; 27 feet will put it in their living room.

    If you can set aside thoughts of serial murder and dismemberment for a few minutes, please say a prayer to whatever gods you worship that the water stays where it belongs.

    Here is a link to the current river stage at my folk’s home.

    • Michel says:

      Thanks for all prayers offered, candles lit, and animals sacrificed! The river crested about five feet lower than predicted. My folks will have to deal with debris and tons of sand on their property, but no damage to the home.

  12. Michel says:

    The Author Blog
    I’ve been slouching off the whole summer. It’s not entirely my fault. A friend put in a pool and has had me over nearly every weekend this summer to help him break it in which involves swimming, diving, and of course lots of beer. But what kind of a friend would I be to leave him hanging?

    And did I mention it’s a salt water pool? All the rage I’m told. Some sort of magical process that involves dumping salt into a machine that purifies the water and leaves the pool about half as salty as a tear. Much better for the skin, sinuses, and hair color than chlorine!

    So I have barely written a word since the pool season began in May. July was the worst. It’s been in the 90s or hotter since the 4th of July and it’s just really hard to stay out of the pool. He has a heater that kicks in at 80 degrees. One Saturday we were in it and I remarked that the heater hadn’t run the entire day. He checked the heater control and it reported the pool water temp was 100 degrees. Like swimming in a really big hot tub.

    Anyway, summer’s almost over. The temp here dropped to the low 80s the past two days and I’m feeling guilty about not writing. That’s not to say I’m not going to be in the pool tomorrow, just that I’m feeling guilty about squandering the summer in pool.

  13. Michel says:

    The Author Blog
    Well, summer’s over, back to work!
    I began the serious rewrite of The Dog Walker last night. I’m through the first 60 pages and it looks like the MS is growing. I added about 2,500 words and another 12 pages. I’m not sure that “revision” means “extension” except in the congressional record, so we’ll have to see if this trend continues.

  14. Michel says:

    News of the Weak
    I built a rack-mounted guitar amp. I had this old speaker cabinet that my brother picked up when we were playing cheap dives in St. Louis in the ’80s but it had been stripped of its speakers. He schlepped it around from house to house until about 2003 when I brought it home with me after a visit. It sat around my garage taking up space until a couple of weeks ago. The wooden cabinet is rock-solid so I thought, what the hell? I found I could get a set of 50-watt, 16-ohm Celestion speakers for $130 so I ordered them, stuffed the cabinet with fiberglass batting, and wired them up. Celestions are the speakers in Marshall cabs and I was going to wire all four in parallel and have my own version of a Marshall stack (a Michel stack?), but put two jacks in the back and run a stereo cabinet.

    I had this road case with the PA components in it so I removed a few of them, added one of my Crown power amps, and wound up with a nifty little guitar amp and cabinet.

    The rack has a Marshall tube pre-amp for the “dirty” channel, a TPS II tube preamp for the “clean” channel, each of them feeding into two channels of dbx compression, a dual-channel dbx graphic equalizer, an Alesis MidiVerb III (reverb, echo, chorus, phaser, flanger and combinations of them), and finally a two channel Crown XLS-1000 power amp. Shit was just sitting around the house gathering dust so I put it to use!

    I guess now I have to learn how to play electric guitar. No excuses.

  15. ethelson says:

    Some thoughts on Albert Pujols.

    I’m not accusing anybody of anything. I’m just saying.

    Albert Pujols is from the Dominican Republic.

    Sammy Sosa is from the DR. As far as I know, he is the only player for whom it that obvious that he took steroids and yet no actual evidence was found. There is evidence that other players from the DR took steroids (they certainly have the motivation) and avoided detection.

    Barry Bonds is the only player in major league history to improve his performance after the age of 36. He started playing at a level never previously seen soon after it became obvious he was taking steroids.

    Baseball has been around as an organized major league sport for over 100 years, but nobody has had a first 11 seasons to a career that match Albert Pujols. He is the first player in major league history to hit .300 with 30 home runs and 100 RBIs in each of his first 10 seasons. He had 408 home runs after 10 major league seasons. No other player has had 400 home runs after eleven seasons. By sheer coincidence he arrived in the middle of the steroid era, and from a place that seems to have figured out how to avoid detection. I am not saying it was chemically assisted. I am saying it is naive to think it could not be so.

    During the 2011 season, in late June, Pujols collided with another player at first base and fractured his arm. Two weeks later, he was playing again. I’m not saying he took HGH to cut the normal 6 week recovery period to 2 weeks. I am saying it is naive to think he could not have.
    Florida Marlins closer Juan Carlos Oviedo is from the DR. He played under the name Leo Nunez. He lied about his name because players from the DR his age are offered less money than 16 year old players like his cousin Leo Nunez, 3 years his junior. Juan has admitted his deception, and his playing status is in question.

    Albert Pujols had 9 consecutive truly amazing seasons to start his career. The tenth season was an amazing performance, but not up to par with the previous 9. Last year was another major step down. Most players performance starts to slip at age 35 or 36. I’m not saying he lied about his age. I am saying it is naive to think he could not have.

    I am not accusing Albert Pujols of cheating, and I would be very disppointed if it turned out he was. But to think it can’t be true be is naïve.
    Now, analyzing the 10 year, $254,000,000 no trade contract he signed with the Angels.
    Assuming Albert is clean,
    Assuming Albert is the age he claims to be (32 in January 2012)
    Assuming Albert does not suffer any health issues…
    Assuming his productivity and stamina starts to fade at 36, as is typical…
    Assuming he does not fall victim to the ‘first year of a huge new contract’ slump…
    And assuming the last 2 years were anomalies, and he returns to his olde performance levels, .330 BA, 40 HRs, 125 RBIs…
    The Angels get an amazing player for 4 years, and a very good player for, say, 2 more. And 4 years and $100m of regret.

    • Michel says:

      Thanks for the post, E.

      If Albert can stay healthy and play at or near his maximum capability for the next five years – tough enough for a 32 year old player who’s put in 11 years in the big league, that much harder if it turns out he’s really 2, 3, 4 years older – the Angels are going to have the highest paid DH in the history of the game!

  16. rblair says:

    Need to ditch the picture on the home page, it’s a bit scary, and replace it with the one in the “about the author” section …

    • Michel says:

      The webpage header is a work in progress, R. I’ve worked with the webmaster and we can’t agree on it so it’s changed about a dozen times. I think a nice Olin Mills style portrait would do just fine, like on John Grisham’s webpage but he wants this edgy collage with the long highway and Chinese pagoda thingee. I don’t get it either.
      We’re still arguing about it…your vote might help me sway him.
      Keep those cards and letters coming in folks!

  17. Michel says:

    The Author Blog
    Last weekend I attended the Hunt Country Writer’s Retreat. It was my first such outing and it was interesting. I had the chance to network with other writers from the Mid-Atlantic region, meet with Mike Sirota, self described writing coach, and Jeff Kleinman, a founder of Folio Literary Management. Best of all was the writer’s panel, an open discussion with four local (published!) writers. Susan McCorkindale, Marc Leepson, Jan Neuharth, and Ellen Crosby shared keen insights into the writing life. If you are interested in writing and have the opportunity to participate in a writers workshop or retreat, jump on it!

  18. Michel says:

    I’m on Twitter now. Not sure how much I’m going to get out of this, but we’ll give it a shot.

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