All Quiet On The Western Front
  Wednesday   September 3, 1997




The Usual Suspects

Ssshhh... Listen. You hear that? It's the sound of nothing happening. Life is a little quieter now that the lunatics have retreated to their burrows to lick their wounds. In fact, it's almost boring.

That means today's entry will be, for me, a journey into the great unknown. It's midnight as I sit here in qwerty mode and I have no idea what I'm going to write about. I've waited this long hoping something would happen; a plane landing on the house, maybe, or perhaps the Loud family next door cranking up the banda. No such luck. ...still waiting... Nothing. Okay, off we go.

My pilot -- that's my pilot, not the Finnish one -- is stumbling along, but I like what I'm doing so far. I haven't done much work on it in the last couple of days what with the holiday weekend and beating back the occasional deranged correspondent, but what little I've done has been pretty productive. I've written a few key scenes that turned out better than I'd expected. They almost feel like final draft material on the first outing. Plot problems I was vaguely aware of have snapped into sharp focus and been easily solved, and I've had a few new ideas that solve some mechanical problems and open up opportunities to give the story some added texture. All that is vague, I know, but it's enough for you to know that I'm having a good run with it right now. Now I've got to get the page count up to where it should be, which shouldn't be difficult now that I'm on the rare inspirational roll.

On the tube tonight was 48 Hours. Normally I don't watch this since Dan "What's the frequency, Kenneth?" Rather alternately annoys and amuses me. I just can't take him seriously. He wants so desperately to be Walter Cronkite and it's never, ever going to happen. Does anyone remember a couple years back when he was anchoring the news and trying so hard to come up with a Cronkite-esque catch phrase or hook? He wanted something that you'd see or hear and think, Ah, there's that fine journalist Dan Rather. He's today's Walter Cronkite. At one point he tried wearing sweaters and it just looked silly, and then he went through a variety of catch phrases. The only one I remember was "Courage," uttered very solemnly. It slayed me. He finally gave it up. Now he just tries to look dignified. Cronkite-esque, you might say.

Anyway, tonight's 48 Hours featured a couple weeks in the life of some wanna-be militia members in, I think, Colorado. With the camera on them they were full of piss and vinegar, spouting off about how they hate blacks and how the feds/cops will never take them alive, but then when confronted with these things they just clammed right up. One guy was in a hardware store when a black customer came in. Militia Boy looked up, saw his sworn enemy, and immediately averted his gaze. His body language changed to reflect fear. When he was finished at the register he scurried out of the store, eyes down, avoiding eye contact with the black guy who wanted to stare him down. Another guy, the loudest voice about never being taken alive, had a warrant out for his arrest. The sheriff came by to ask him to come in and surrender himself, and he let the sheriff into his house and gave him something to drink. Later, he went down to the jail and surrendered sheepishly, then pumped his fist victoriously when he was later released. Wahoo! They took me alive! These clowns go out on the weekend and shoot their guns, train their kids to hate, spout empty rhetoric, live like slobs, and never have two nickels to rub together. If this is the "well regulated militia" we read about in the Constitution, then, please, don't defend me.

Okay, 12:30 now. Still nothing happening, not even a measly earthquake. Time to wrap this baby up and put it -- and me -- to bed. Maybe something worth writing about will happen tomorrow. Until then...






Copyright 1997
Chuck Atkins