Books and TV

Under.jpg Finney decided that sleeping under the cat bed was better than on top of.

I’m in such a good mood. I’m completely on my schedule for this book. The next chapter is going to be a challenge, though. It’s going to be a lot of Duke University politics that will set the stage for the Parapsychology Laboratory leaving Duke and parapsychology in Russia.

It’s a challenge because I know my editor has had enough of Duke politics, and I’m not so interested in parapsychology in Russia. Sounds like a potential disaster, I know. My plan so far: make it really short. Somehow I have to make this chapter un-put-downable. And short.

The chapter after that will be three ghost stories I’ve found a long the way, and I can’t wait to get to that. Nothing better than a good ghost story.

American Idol Comments. Normally I’m unable to see it in one so young, but that Blake is a sexy little thing. His version of “It’s The Time of the Season,” was very be-still-my-heart for me. His take on the line ‘what’s your name, who’s your daddy,’ was dark and interesting. For me, it’s Melinda and Blake now.

Amazing Bruce Kremen Update

Kremens3.jpg Remember that little boy I wrote about who went missing in California in 1960? I called his mother and it went terribly? There is an incredible update to this story. Another writer, Weston DeWalt, who was investigating another boy who went missing in California, Tommy Bowman, actually came across new evidence! Now the LAPD Cold Case Squad is investigating a serial killer named Mack Ray Edwards for murdering Tommy, and they’re also considering him for the murder of Bruce Kremen and up to 13 other children (I think that’s the total, but I could have that wrong). I believe the LA County Sheriff is part of the investigation, or maybe it’s a joint investigation — I don’t understand the jurisdictions out there, I’m sorry.

There’s an article about everything here and an update here. It’s an amazing story. Ultimately horribly sad, but just amazing what DeWalt has uncovered and now look what’s happening.

I had originally called the Missing Person’s department of the LAPD, to ask where the case was left, figuring my section in the book would end with something sad like “the last lead in the Bruce Kremen case was over forty years ago.” But then Missing Persons told me the Cold Case Squad was working on the case. I got very excited, because I knew that meant a new lead. The detective on the case, Det. Vivian Flores said she’d call me back, and then recently I got email from DeWalt telling me what had happened.

Weston DeWalt, by the way, wrote a book with Anatoli Boukreev called The Climb, which was written as a rebuttal to Jon Krakauer’s book Into Thin Air. I remember reading a debate on Salon about the two accounts, and it was positively riveting. When he wrote me I immediately thought of the movie Zodiac, which I had just seen. The movie shows how obsessed this cartoonist, Robert Graysmith, gets with the case. It also shows how Graysmith, unlike the cops who have lots of other cases to investigate, can put everything he has, all his time and energy into this one case. He can live and breath this one case.

I experienced this with my last book. I became obsessed with one of the unsolved cases I was writing about, and unlike the detectives, who were working 15 – 25 cases each, I could concentrate on one.

So that’s how I imagined DeWalt, like Graysmith. The LA cops have a kabillion other cases, never mind one more than forty years old, so he could dig deep in a way that was simply not humanly possible for them. Except now I’ll bet Det. Flores is living and breathing this case.

I can’t wait to see where this all leads, and read DeWalt’s book about it, which I think he said will be out next year.

I’m just going to curl up behind here …

compcat2.jpg Here’s my munchkind head, hanging out with me while I work. He’s cute and all, but every once in a while a paw will reach around and try to pick off a key from my keyboard, which I just had replaced by the way.

John Maclay, our choir director, said this at the end of his last email. It’s about our upcoming Spring concert.

When we call this a “Concert for Peace,” we mean not just peace in the literal, immediate sense (though we all devoutly wish it), but the peace that comes from knowing that through all its tortured ages, and even from the depths of war and all its carnage, human beings have an innate capacity for reconciliation, the spine to stand up to tyranny, and an ability to seek out the “new heavens and the new earth” that lie beyond. Armies can be defeated; human beings — soldiers, civilians — cannot.

The first step to ending a war is to remember what peace feels like. These voices – yours, and those we read from – are powerful reminders.

I’ve been feeling very jaded and hopeless these past few years. I’m astounded by Bush and those who surround him. Historians are going to look back and shake their heads at us and wonder why we didn’t do more to stop them. I’ve probably already posted that line before. I think it a lot. I do wonder what I should be doing, because I know I should be doing something.

Anyway, I liked John’s hopeful email. Horrible people will eventually be subsumed, the pendulum will swing back (after many more dominoes fall as a result of the Bush Administration–sorry!).

You know, believe it or not, I’m in a good mood today. I have a pretty yellow shirt on, I like my hair, I over-paid on my taxes so I don’t have to write a great big check this month, choir rehearsal is tonight and I will come home to American Idol after, and pizza, and cats, and the book is going well, my apartment is very clean, I mean the list goes on.

Seriously, what should we be doing about Bush that we’re not doing? How can we make the world better? There was a guy on Jon Stewart the other night, who was like me, that this is bad on a truly horrible level, but he felt there was reason to hope and things we could do. Who was that guy?? I forget.

Quantum Entanglement

mephone.jpg That’s me on the phone at my friend’s son’s house a couple of weeks ago, talking to Howard. I mention Howard because he helped me fix my chapter yesterday. I’d written a chapter that really needed to be half the size, but I got one half of that half done, and then couldn’t go any further. At a certain point you need someone who doesn’t love the material the way you do to be ruthless. Howard came over and got the other half done. Quickly. Slash and BURN. Howard was THE CLEANER. And now I have a killer chapter.

I’m starting to feel just a tad freaked about getting this all done by June. I still have a pile of reading to do as I write. I keep finding stuff and people keep sending me stuff which is relevent–not a complaint about the senders, sending me relevent stuff is a very good thing. I’m excited about this one paper that was sent to me because the title is Entanglement, Consciousness Waves, and RSPK, and I hoping it’s going to discuss quantum entanglement.

Because, as it happens, I discuss quantum entanglement in my book, in the chapter we were editing yesterday as a matter of fact. I wasn’t putting it forward as a theory or anything. I was using it as an example of a weird thing about quantum mechanics that Einstein had a problem with, and comparing it to Einstein’s problem with telepathy.

It would be kinda cool if the authors of this paper (William G. Roll and William T. Joines) actually are incorporating it into a theory about parapsychology, because then their theory would fit nicely and neatly at the end of the book somewhere. So, the point is, I want to read this paper, but the other point is, I’ve got to read this paper. And 20 billion others. (Sob.)

About quantum entanglement. I’ve never taken a physics course so I can’t pretend to really know what it is. It’s just intriguing in so many ways, and lends itself to being romanticized, which appeals to writers … who don’t really know what it is. There was an epsiode of the TV show NUMB3RS that did a thing on it that was lovely (except maybe those writers do know what it is). Google quantum entanglement and you will see the possibilites.

Happy Accidents


When I was in art school, if something came out well by accident, ie, someone knocked your arm and messed up what you were about to paint, but then you look and go, “Oh. I like that,” it didn’t quite count. You don’t get the same credit as you would have if you had done it on purpose. The other night I was in a cab and saw these guys working on this beautiful window display on Madison. I leaned over Extra T (her nickname) and Ruby (also her nickname) and took a couple of shots. I didn’t mean for them to be blurry, but I think this shot is stunningly beautiful, even though I get NO credit and it doesn’t quite count.

I looked over what I have to do in order to hand my book in by the end of June, and now I am on a strict schedule. I only get so much time per chapter. It’s a little maddening. For instance, I was working on the “drugs” chapter yesterday and came across this weird table-rapping thing in California that the Lab guys got involved in around the same time. It’s just so bizarre for them to be involved in a 19th century table rapping thing in 1961. I have to look into it. So, I will spend the day on what will probably end up being two parapgraphs in the book.

That kind of thing is worth it, to have cool, tiny little parts peppered throughout the book, it’s like the equivalent of Christmas stocking gifts. Not as good as the main gift, but you love them and wouldn’t want them to go away. But, when you feel on deadline, you almost wish you hadn’t come across them. I’m trying to chill out and enjoy them as the nice, happy accident/gift that they are.