Thursday, January 19, 2017

Opinion — Gibberish, Twaddle, Prattle, Jibber-Jabble, Gobbledygook, Mumbo Jumbo

To delineate the perambulation that necessitates a universal prerogative, taking into account the obfuscation essential to the diabolical essence of any kind of mechanical extrapolation, requires the blistering finesse of a manipulative rescission on behalf of the behooved party, or should I say the partly behaved parody?

Therefore, congruity should balance an effortless push toward a mendacious solution given the hyperbole of intrinsic confabulation. Consequentially, the foreboding criteria ingested ceremoniously cannot abide the diffidence shown in any prerequisite body of information that, in the end, cannot sustain any embodiment that castigates a monotonous malefactor.

One cannot fail to agree that any impediment to the forlorn utility brings forth an equal facade of categorically mammoth opposition creating a vortex of intermingled ozone simultaneously creating a perplexed vision of anonymity and incongruity.

The abysmal decorum that permeates a non-ideological per diem cannot support epidemical practices sustained by millennial proposals. Verification of custodial benchmarks attribute fallacies designed to upend hierarchical positions usually embodied in fallacious curmudgeal edifices surrounding mendacious collusion. However, it should be noted that residual quantum indices play havoc with congenital exigencies, exasperating a perspicacious convolution of collegial  limitations. Make no mistake, veritable inhabitation of molecular structures can and often do contribute to the sustenance of impervious malediction. The diaspora of misdirections remains to be curated by those who mistake value in mere presence or no value in absence ergo netti netti. No validation is exhumed from a Eureka moment when it is discovered that some parts, though not all of them, have the hue of truth.

For those who have a predilection for primordial goo, let’s transubstantiate the arduous netherworlds of the barbarous and heathen fractals of symbiosis. Whether we inhabit the puerile haunts of the perennial conglomerate is of little value if that stance liquidates the folly of human endeavor. Be alert to the ashen past while we anticipate the perpetual explosion of the future.

In light of all this, let’s reconsider the dubious assumptions that permeate the epic coarseness of our conceptual analysis. The hyperbolic and often gratuitous hiatus can be abnormally ephemeral if not traversed in pedantic artifice. Though magnanimous in gesture, retrospective equine symbolism, for example, can conflate entrances and exits in a manner that makes a perimeter an excess of access, not to mention egress without progress therefore and henceforth polluting our existence with false equivalence.

I’m Ronald Tierney, a monkey at a typewriter, and I approve this message.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Commentary — Reading, Writing And Reality

When I was a kid, sometime after first grade, my best friend and I used to go down to his basement where he had a box of presidents. Thirty-four of them at the time.  Each, from Washington to Eisenhower, was rendered realistically in white plastic and stood no more than six inches high.  He also had a bunch of model cars — maybe more than a dozen conveniently in proportion to our presidents. We’d each choose our gang as you might choose a softball team among friends and neighbors. We’d choose automobiles the same way. And then we’d engage in some sort of adventure, careening under chairs and behind boxes as if we were writing and directing a film. Of the presidents, I chose Franklin Pierce first. He was my main character for no other reason than I thought he was the best looking of the lot. My friend chose Jefferson. My friend may have had more profound reasoning. Pierce was not one of the best, historically. I also chose a Lincoln for my main car (my father always drove a Ford) and for my friend, whose father drove a Plymouth) a Chrysler Imperial. Hours would pass as some sort of drama would unfold. What possible scenarios were created escapes me now.

Poster by Mark Stevenson
My friend was also involved in sports and though he would pick me first to be on his team in neighborhood basketball games even though we all knew I’d still be there for the last pick. (I was that bad.) I eventually disengaged when it came to athletic competitions.  Even so, our fictional adventures continued.  We would go down to the crick (a very small creek) with crawdads and frogs and, with a few additional friends, recreate the adventures of Robin Hood.  My friend was Robin and I was either Friar Tuck or Little John because this happened during my prolonged chubby phase — a phase that has come back to haunt me in my golden years. I preferred Little John.  I wasn’t all that religious, even then.  We would use stripped branches from fallen trees as staffs and dowel rods (for a nickel from the local hardware) as swords. There were also woody, willowy weeds that with some kitchen yarn could be used as a bow and, broken in the right place, as arrows. Our dramas were improvisational but could last from noon to nightfall. I’m sure there were kids our age all over the country doing some version of this.

My chubby phase also contributed to the next step in creating alternate worlds. In the mid-grades of elementary school, my friend and I participated in the annual talent show by writing our own Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton skits.  Even without Alice and Trixie, the performances were a huge success. Our classmates preferred our often slapstick comedy to the accordion players and tap dancers.  We wrote the skits, rehearsed them. and improvised during performances. I was Ralph because of my previously referenced girth and my friend did a spectacularly goofy Norton, especially considering he was also excellent as Robin Hood.

My good friend and I eventually went in separate directions. Initially sports won out for him.  There was nothing he wasn’t good at. Football in his younger years, and later as a successful photographer and father.  I kicked about — the Army and jobs in communications mostly – but never really gave up imaginary worlds and the desire to share them. I acted a bit in community and small theater while holding down sometimes fascinating day jobs.  I wrote plays.  One, “Death In Bloom,” saw the stage. I helped start an alternative newspaper, which is still going 25 years later and, at forty, began writing mysteries. It took awhile, but I found something that enabled me to invest serious energy in made-up stories.

The best part about being a novelist is I can engage in my adventure while at a desk, in the shower, or putting together the evening meal. At any time, or any place I can enter my world, and when I grow tired of it I can leave it — most of the time. The worst thing is that my nature has grown a bit anti-social. With the exception of my brothers and a few close friends, meeting with other people is anxiety producing.  I absolutely hate the telephone.  I have a thousand reasons, but mostly because of its untimely, unknowing, persistent rudeness, interrupting my fictional world or my adult make-believe.

What has happened, of course, is that I’ve become even more selfish in perhaps the true meaning of the word. What many around me do not understand is that now, at this stage of my obsession, I’m always writing. If I’m up walking around, if I’m shaving, if I’m watching TV…. I might be in the midst of committing a murder or finally solving it. It’s not just happening when I sit in front of my computer. In fact, if I’m typing, I’m probably just emptying my head of what I’ve already created.

Anyway, next month, Ed Norton, AKA Robin Hood, AKA Thomas Jefferson is coming to visit. I have seen him since sixth grade, but not often at all and certainly not recently. We’ve both entered our seventh decade of life, he probably with grandchildren, perhaps great grand children and me with a few now dusty books as offspring. I’m not complaining.  Actually I’m in the middle of three novellas. I go to sleep lately, looking for a way to save the life of my protagonist’s best friend in one of my books. I suspect I did the same thing down at the crick a few dozen years ago.  Or, more likely, visa versa.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Film Pairing – Let’s Rob A Bank, Maybe Two

I’m a fan of heist films. The theft of fine art and jewels from the very rich or money and gold from the banks has always struck me as romantic rather than criminal, especially when no lives are lost in the process. On this double bill, one film is a classic drama, the other a clever puzzle. What makes them special is that they are not just about the heist, but that they offer an original, thought-provoking twist in the story telling.

Dog Day Afternoon — If you are of a certain age and have always loved movies, you’ve seen this one.  If not, see it.  If so, see it again. It is based on a true and unusual story, especially for its time. Sidney Lumet directed this multiple award winning film released in 1975 and based on the news article, “The Boys In The Park” by P.F. Kluge. Though most of the film takes place inside a branch bank in Brooklyn, one gets a great overview of the 70s, culturally and politically. Al Pacino is extraordinary as the central figure. The entire cast, which also includes Charles Durning, John Cazalle, Chris Sarandon, and James Broderick turn in fine performances. Credit also goes to Penelope Allen as the head teller. Pacino, who plays an unemployed perhaps unemployable young man, has a wife and a lover, the latter needing expensive gender-changing surgery.  Pacino decides to rob a bank to get the money and creates a situation that shows his character’s humanity and almost comic incompetence. This is a must see for film lovers and historians.
Inside Man — Justice isn’t always served the way you think it might. Inside Man, a 2006 release is a solid entry in the heist genre. Directed by Spike Lee, the intricate robbery plot is exercised by Clive Owen who faces Denzel Washington, representing the law.   Jodie Foster and Christopher Plummer add fascinating dimensions to the already clever screenplay by Russell Gewirtz. Actors Willem Dafoe and Chiwetel Ejiofor are also featured in this quick-paced drama that challenges the imagination.  How are the robbers going to get out with what they want and a couple of dozen dozen hostages kept safe? It seems impossible. Will there be a bloodbath? Perhaps we viewers make too many assumptions.

My suggestions for sustenance on these cool nights involve the drug caffeine.  Why not an Irish coffee?  Or some other coffee mix with or without alcohol that will keep you buzzed and able to keep up with Pacino’s typical high-energy performance.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Book Notes – Nutshell In A Nutshell, Womb With A View

Ian McEwan
Perhaps I am too literal to be literary in my own writing, but I certainly enjoy reading the elegant prose of Ian McEwan. I’ve long been a fan his work, much of it bound in slender volumes —unusual occurrences compared to most of today’s tomescent best sellers and critical successes. And as a reader and writer, the short novel is my format of choice these days.

This relatively short crime novel, Nutshell operates from a conceit — that a fetus can somehow divine the reality that exists outside the increasingly small space in the womb, and that said fetus is also able to communicate those impressions to the reader with the logic of a sophisticated, mature and literary mind. What his unborn narrator “senses” leads the reader to a view of the kill.

As a fiction writer, one may do whatever one chooses.  Put the Statue of Liberty in Lake Michigan if you like.  However you must convince the reader it’s there. In this case, I wasn’t convinced right away. I read somewhere that most people have little or no memory of what happened in their lives before the age of five. Perhaps that is because without language to describe our feelings and organize our thoughts, if we have them, we are at a loss to recall. To reconstruct is to have once had a construction. For me, I have some infant memories of a Koi pond, a swing set near a creek and my neighbor watering his lawn.  That’s about it before five.  My brother, on the other hand, has birth memories and moments shortly thereafter.  How many, though, can reminisce about their days in the womb as it inevitably closes in around them?

If you are willing to suspend your disbelief — and McEwan’s words will seduce you, I swear — the story will flow effortlessly and humorously.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

“Compact, captivating ... The writing is lean and muscular, often relentlessly gorgeous ... McEwan is one of the most accomplished craftsmen of plot and prose,” says Siddhartha Mukherjee in The New York Times Book Review

For me, there was, from time to time, moments of a Liberace flourish at the end of a sentence or paragraph; but who, with his talent, wouldn’t want to mug occasionally? The other odd, and I think extremely clever contrivance (not a bad word in mystery-making), is that the fetal narrator somehow makes us part of the conspiracy to murder his/her poet father, a murder about which the infant seems to take an interested, but nonpartisan position. It is an all-knowing narrator without the baggage of good and evil. Can the unborn possess such inclinations as judgment if it has such extraordinary proficiency in language? True objectivity?  Not really. Selfishness exudes from the temporary tenant as expected from a being that only knows itself.  

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Film Pairing — Don’t Worry Your Pretty Little Head about the Government

There is no consolation in this double bill, two films that express what many of us feel — the government is trying to protect us from those who would take our liberties by taking our liberties. Secrets, double crosses come easy to the alphabet agencies in these two films, which do little to dispel our cynicism but a lot to increase our heart rate and blood pressure.  Try these two for an escape into a dark, but sadly believable reality. It’s all about the hunt and the chase, and whom we can trust.

Safe House — Filmed in Cape Town, South Africa, a spy suspected of corruption is captured and temporarily placed in a “safe house,” where it is virtually impossible to escape or be found.  Except that he was found. Another faction was sent in to free or kill him. The highly prized target, a veteran spy played by Denzel Washington, and a low-level, inexperienced intelligence agent, Ryan Reynolds, find themselves dependent on each other for survival. It seems that two factions of the agency are at odds with each other, but both out to get Washington and Reynolds. This may be the darker and deeper of the two spy films, though the chases are not quite as extravagant. Daniel Espinosa directed Safe House, released in 2012. Brendan Gleeson and Sam Shepard do their usual fine jobs in supporting roles.

Jason Bourne —This is the fifth, and if they keep their promise, the last of the Bourne series.  Matt Damon returns for this 2016 release. I’ve liked all the Bourne films, including this one, accepting them as well-done action films with just enough plot and barely enough character to keep me in my chair.  The plot is essentially the same.  Get the all-too clever and resourceful Bourne and kill him. In this case I particularly liked the appropriately understated end. Tommy Lee Jones did his usual solid job, this time as the CIA chief. Alicia Vikander was cool and beautiful, but the writers didn't give her a whole lot to work with. The movie was directed by Paul Greengrass based on “characters created by Robert Ludlum," and set primarily Washington DC and Las Vegas.

Relevant, though perhaps not profoundly so, the films address our fears about trusting a government that keeps so much from us — operations that can be twisted at various levels of the intelligence bureaucracy and by the currently ruling corporate class. Given a chance, the films could lead to an intelligent discussion about how we can get more accountability and transparency from our elected representatives, cabinet appointees and commanders in chief.  More than likely though, we will settle in for a few hours of vicarious thrills with two moderately thrilling, competently made entertainment products, knowing that the Bourne film, for example, brought in more than $400 million at the box office in a year that saw the scariest election of the modern era and a new cabinet of generals and billionaire CEOs, stuff from which such movies gain inspiration.

This isn’t a wine, or even a beer night. For those who want some sort of tranquilizing accompaniment, I’d go for Scotch or Bourbon. Sip though, or the Bourne movie will zip by you much quicker than you can comprehend it, not that this is a serious detriment.  For the alcohol free, maybe a coffee of some sort to keep you buzzed and up to speed for all the chases.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Blatant, But Somewhat Restrained Self-Promotion

San Francisco Mysteries Part of Rapid Reads Growing Novella Program

And now a word from our sponsor.  What my Canadian publisher Orca offers in its Rapid Reads program are “quick, engaging reads by bestselling authors’ — works that can be read in one sitting — possibly a flight from L.A. to New York, or just a satisfying read that won’t keep you up all night. The direct writing style makes these books accessible to the “reader on the go,” the reluctant reader, as well as those with English as a second language.

Here is a comment from an early reviewer of The Blue Dragon: "What an incredible beginning to a new mystery series by Ronald Tierney... [This was] my first introduction to “Rapid Reads” and I am enthralled not only by the individual title selection experience but also for the incredible discovery of this reading series.”

What I hope to create with the Peter Strand series is to re-imagine the plot-oriented mystery in the tradition of Rex Stout and Agatha Christie, a story with minimal violence and with emphasis on the puzzle aspects of the crime. The book allows the reader to sleuth along with the detective. Here is more information about my first two books in the Rapid Reads series:

The Blue Dragon — A murder at a small apartment building in San Francisco’s Chinatown, prompts the absentee owner to hire Chinese American Peter Strand to calm the anxious tenants. But Strand isn’t exactly what he appears to be. Neither are the tenants who, on the surface, seem to be regular people going about their lives. Strand, a forensic accountant by trade, doesn’t intend to investigate the murder, but he soon realizes that this isn’t a gang-related killing, as the police believe. The murder was committed by one of the tenants. Finding out which one exposes the secrets of The Blue Dragon and brings Strand face-to-face with a few ghosts of his own. The Blue Dragon is available in paperback and e-book.

The Black Tortoise – Peter Strand is asked to investigate a San Francisco-based nonprofit arts organization located in a pier on San Francisco Bay near the Ferry Building. There he meets a cast of colorful, quirky characters who all seem to be hiding something. Peter soon finds evidence of a probable fraud, but is it the fraud that leads to murder? Or is it something else? Whatever it is, a suspicious drowning draws Strand deeper into a murky mystery. The murderer is finally unmasked, but at what personal expense? The Black Tortoise is the second book in the Peter Strand mystery series. Preorder available now for a March delivery.

Consider these two San Francisco mysteries as gifts, one in time for the holidays and one for right after.