Thursday, October 31, 2013


I'm on Page 12!

Staged Readings or Staged Bleedings?

Staged reading or staged bleeding? There's a surge of interest in performing my written work as staged readings. I recently discussed my staged readings at the old Golden West saloon in Albuquerque, but that has not been the only time that actors have tried their luck with my words... Needless to say, some have been golden, but others have gone south instead of west.

I took a comedy writing course at UCLA extension where half the class were writers and half the class were actors. You've heard of the movie Scarface? You've heard of Al Pacino? Well, I got the guy who Al Pacino asked "Do you want some of this?" for my scene. Even better, there was a "little person" in our class, who at 3'8"  was a miniature Roseanne Barr. They performed my scene with gusto in the table reads I attended. When it came time to perform the scene for the entire class, they had literally threw my script out the window and winged it. The mini-Roseanne was much better than the real thing and brought down the house.
An agent looking type went up to her.
"Did you write that yourself?" he asked. I was hoping that she would give me a shout-out and I would get my one shot of fame.
"I improvised the scene." She was cast in a role in an Al Pacino movie. I think she was a waitress serving Al in Carlito's Way.

When I went to film school at AFI I worked with a student director who asked me to write a horror film. We got the actor who would go onto fame asking people "Can Geico save you money on your car insurance?" (He was the guy who looked like a cop, not like the Gekko).

The scene read well on the table, but on camera, with student film grade special effects, the film was a disaster. Only the "Can Geico save you money on car insurance" guy ever worked again. It was so bad that the director was deported back to him own country. (Technically he failed out of school and lost his student visa, but I still want to picture him in lockdown with other pretentious directors).

I did have a couple tape a staged reading of a scene from my novel, La Bajada Lawyer and posted it on youtube. Other than some bad sound, it was pretty darn good, and got over a thousand hits. Unfortunately, the couple went on to fame and fortune in other areas of the film world and far more popular youtube videos.

Still I am optimistic that the new round of folks can do justice to my words. Staged readings indeed!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

My Breaking Bad Script or "And Justice for Saul"

Should I write a Breaking Bad spec script? When I worked in Hollywood, you were supposed to write a script of a show that you knew in order to get on the staff of a new show. For example, if you wanted to get on the staff of CSI, you might want to want a script for NCIS.  You don't want to use something too old, you wouldn't use a Honeymooners script to try and get on the staff of Modern Family.

You never write the show itself. If you try to write something for the show you want to be on, you will always be wrong. They know more about the direction of their own show than you do.  You wouldn't want to write an episode of Breaking Bad while it was still on and predicting that Hank was faking it and Walt leaves Skyler and marries Marie for example.

In real life, I wrote a spec episode of the legal thriller the Practice, which helped me get on the show Arrest and Trial.For the new show Better Call Saul, Breaking Bad would be the perfect spec script.
Obviously my Breaking Bad spec script would focus on Saul, perhaps during the second season as we are still learning more about the character. Gus and Mike are still alive...

I would want to see Saul in trial and maybe learn about how he got his body guard, Huell (?). I'd also like to learn how he met Mike and Gus. We'll use the five act structure. The episode would be called "And Justice for Saul."

In the teaser we see Huell doing some collection work perhaps, maybe at a donut store and was arrested trying to do a getaway, and because he couldn't get away very fast, he is literally caught red-handed. Perhaps his compatriots do get away and Huell fears that he is dead. "I need a lawyer," he says. Fade out.

Act I, we fade into the tallest building in ABQ. Saul is getting fired from a top notch law firm when they learn he has falsified his transcripts and didn't really go to Cornell. He goes to his pathetic hovel of a home and thinking of moving back to Chicago. We then learn its even worse, he's living with a stripper who kicks him out of the home as her evil pimp moves in. Meanwhile, at the first act break, we see Gus killing his existing lawyer, and then asks the dead body "Who do we hire now?"

In Act II Gus sends Mike to find a lawyer they can manipulate, and Mike goes around to all the regular law firms in Albuquerque and is rejected. (Perhaps they know about their dead colleague which makes them uneasy). About to give up for the night, Mike goes to a bar to relax. Actually a strip club might be better. Mike and Saul "meet cute" in the bar. Perhaps Saul in a rare bout of chivalry is able to save his old girlfriend the stripper from being fired by her evil boss through some good legal arguments. He bullshits something about OSHA regulations for example. He's so good, the stripper even wants him back, but Saul turns her down. "I'm done with law," he says.

In the strip club parking lot, as Saul throws up from the stress, Mike follows up a hunch that Saul with his street smarts might be the lawyer for them and sets up a sitdown.

Act III, During a sitdown at the Pollos Hermanos, Saul learns from Mike he better win the case or he's dead. Saul realizes he has nothing to lose and takes the case, perhaps he's hoping to die...In the next scene, at Huell's crowded house with his family, we see Saul trying to learn the law just in time. Huell actually knows more about law than Saul (from his time in the joint) and helps Saul get better at learning the law. Saul practices in front of Huell's family who pester him with questions. Meanwhile. Gus becomes more uneasy about Saul and plans to have him killed if he doesn't win the case.

During an Act IV trial scene, Saul finds that he's a better lawyer than he thought, and develops a friendship with Huell. Saul is held in contempt in his opening statement, but gradually gets better as the case goes on. His final cross examination of the cop is actually not half  bad. The cop admits that while he saw Huell running, it was possible that Huell might be out for a morning jog. Cut to Closings...Just imagine Saul's closing argument....(Seriously, use your imagination, I'm seeing something out of Al Pacino's "whole system is out of order speech" in And Justice for All). Actually Saul learns about the speech by checking it out on his computer while no one is looking.

The jury comes back quickly. Is that good or bad? Gus and Mike are now in the gallery waiting anxiously. Saul takes a deep breath. Fade out.

In Act V, Not guilty!  Gus decides that Saul can be useful after all and sends him more work. In the penultimate scene, Saul has a chance to go to a legitimate law firm and is about to turn Gus down. He walks out the door and sees the big building where the firm is, but something makes him turn around. He goes back in and literally sells his soul to Gus. In the final scene, we see him looking for an office as the sun sets...Meanwhile we see Saul pass Gus and Jesse in an RV on their way to a cook...


Call me...

Monday, October 28, 2013

Me and My Burglar

I once talked a burglar out of burgling my apartment. I wasn't a lawyer yet, but it remains my best closing argument of my life. Back in law school, one summer I lived in a one bedroom apartment in a marginal part of town. Although my front door faced toward the gated courtyard, the window faced outward toward an open field. I frequently heard gunshots on the other side of the field. It was just target practice, I told myself as I watched the Tonight show alone every night. Just target practice, right?

One night I went to sleep early, or tried to. The guest on the show wasn't very funny. After turning off the TV, I heard female giggling and then some kind of a chase. Maybe late night runners or a scavenger hunt for broken beer bottles perhaps. Moments later, I heard someone attempt to jimmy open my bedroom window, just a few feet from my bed I didn't have a gun at that time, but I yelled.

There was silence, but the person was still there, breathing. I walked over to my window and found a skinny young man in a white t-shirt. Burglars don't wear white, do they? Well, this one did. He could have been fifteen, he could have been forty, too dark to make out his face. He was clearly shaking, possibly on drugs, or coming down off of them. I couldn't tell if he was armed. He didn't touch my window, but then again, he didn't run away. He hadn't made up his mind yet . . .it was hard to tell if he had much of a mind to make up.

I asked him what he was doing. pretending to be calm. He saw I had no gun.

His story made no sense at all. On the one hand he appeared to be running from someone out on the other side of the mesa, on the other hand he said he was looking for someone. Then again, he was doing something for someone. Or perhaps it was all three.

He kept talking about his sister or girlfriend or both. This might have been a gang initiation or some weird labor of love. I don't think his original intent was to burgle anyone, however when he looked inside and saw my little TV it would have been  a bonus point in the game of Grand Theft Apartment.

There were more sounds of people off in the distance on the other side of the field. He still didn't move, but was clearly nervous about something.

I told him that anyone who was trying to help out a woman's honor was a good person. I had no idea what I was talking about, and exactly how he was trying to save someone's honor by breaking into an apartment and taking a TV set was helping a woman's honor. "You've a good person," I kept saying.

"Am I?" "You really really really think so, man?"
"You are. You've doing the wrong thing for the right reasons."

Perhaps he was confused that a potential victim was praising him, but I bought him a little time. The laughter off in the distance ended. We heard a car drive away. He instantly relaxed, he stopped shaking.
"What should I do?" he asked as if I was somehow part of his plan.

"I think you'd better go," I said. "I'm not going to say anything to anyone."

He nodded. He ran back into the darkness across the field.

Did I hear the words "Thank you" from across the darkness?
It was probably just the wind.  I switched channels on my TV until I found an old lawyer show.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Burning up onstage at the Golden West Saloon

The Golden West Saloon in downtown Albuquerque allegedly burned from spontaneous combustion. Some time before the fire, I did weekly workshops where amateur actors performed our scripts. Did the quality of my scripts or of the actors reading them contribute to the combustion? I'll take the fifth.

Why the Golden West? The owner, Kathy Zimmer, was a pillar of the Albuquerque music community. She organized the group and moderated it as much as a group of amateur writers and actors could be controlled. To her the written word was art. The spoken word was performance art. Why not have it at on stage at a saloon where a punk band had played the night before?

I had recently returned from film school at AFI and was looking to see my works performed. If I couldn't have them on the silver screen, I just wanted to hear my written words spoken aloud by someone, anyone.
When I heard about the group at the Golden West, I might as well be a 49er looking west for gold. (You can make a joke about the 49ers looking for a better offensive line, but I digress).

There was a good group of folks who passed through. A famed local columnist, had an amazing speaking voice. One soft spoken man wrote these absurdist scripts with New Mexico flare that could be "Waiting for Godot" at Garduno's.

I would like to say that my years of film school made my own scripts better. Some worked. Some didn't. We tried a version of my novel, Volcano Verdict as a staged read, and that was a disaster. However, a silly script about a film festival where the critic hadn't seen any of the films all the way through was a hit.
I found that old script. It was funnier onstage than it is in my trunk.

A final member of our group was a middle aged intellectual with long hair who acted as a the critic. He ways wore a Batman belt-buckle. "Batman" treated my scripts as if they had been written by the Joker.

We would put a bunch of chairs on the stage and divvy up the parts. Sometimes the writing was so good, it felt like we were witches who had conjured up the characters in the middle of our circle. Other times, we fell flat.

The group was breaking up even before the fire took down the Golden West. I don't know if anyone went onto stardom. We all became better writers and actors.

We lost a lot when the Golden West burned down. Part of my soul burned with it.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Now Filming in New Mexico....

I remember the first time we ever encountered a film crew in New Mexico. I was with my family, I think I was in my early twenties, but I felt much younger. My late father was driving the four of us somewhere up north on a rural road. At first we thought there was an accident, but it wasn't a cop blocking our way.

A security man in  black t-shirt and Dodgers ball cap stood holding a flashlight. He wasn't armed, but he had a military bearing so he didn't have to be. The guy was the epitome of cool and toughness. In  his fifties, he looked like a bouncer at the Viper Club in  Kabul. He had some kind of receiver in his ear as if God himself was telling who could pass through. "Just wait, they're filming," he said.

After five minutes, my Dad was getting impatient. We were all getting nervous. Would Dad embarrass us again?
"I'm going to talk to the guy," he said. We tried to hide under our seats.
He asked Mr. Viper Club who the director was.
"It's Ron Howard," the man replied.
"I remembered him when he was Opie," my Dad said. We all cringed.
Mr Viper smiled. "No one remembers that anymore."
They talked about the Andy Griffith show and Howard's work on Happy Days.
"My son is a writer," my Dad said. "He's written a script."
I felt like I was four years old and my Dad was bragging about me being able to swim the entire length of the pool. Despite his fearsome appearance, the man was actually quite friendly. Perhaps my Dad was the only person who had talked to him during the entire shoot. Everyone else would have been intimidated, but my Dad had sold insurance for a living and I wondered if my Dad was going to ask who handled major medical coverage for the film crew.
Instead of pitching insurance, my Dad actually pitched him one of my stories. He did a better job of it then I did.
The man smiled. "That's a great story."
"It's my son's," my Dad said proudly.
Mr. Viper suggested that I get an agent and have that agent send it in to Mr. Howard. He made it sound like the filming could start tomorrow night...
Suddenly there was an explosion on the other side. We all jumped, but Mr. Viper didn't flinch.
Once he recovered from the sound, my Dad smiled. "See I'm going to make you a star, Jon."
There was one more explosion and then silence. After five minutes of silence, Mr. Viper got some call on his radio from God himself and then let us go on our way.

It was too dark to see anything, but my Dad turned around and waved back to the security man as if they were old friends. The man waved back. "Tell him to get an agent," the man yelled.

We passed another security guy on the other side who was still talking to a car load of folks. Perhaps they were pitching a script of their own... After we passed them, the other car drove through.

In the distance, I heard another explosion. For one moment, I actually thought about sending my script to the agent... Hell every time I see a film crew, I think about sending my script to an agent.

You never know...

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Better Film "Better Call Saul" in Albuquerque!

We still don't know whether the Breaking Bad sequel, Better Call Saul, will film in Albuquerque. There's a chance it will cover Saul's early years in Chicago, or perhaps even his law school days at the University of American Samoa. As a practicing attorney in Albuquerque for too long, I would strongly suggest filming here. Nothing would be better....

Saul advertises on TV. His office on the show was in a strip mall. The interior was presumably shot on a sound stage, but the inside of the office was made up to look like that of  a Supreme Court justice, if that Supreme Court Justice had an interior designer on meth.  Saul's clientele consisted of mobsters and dubious personal injury victims.

In one scene Jesse sat with people who looked like they were auditioning for the Walking Dead. He lit up a joint to get attention and finally got ushered into Saul's office.

In Albuquerque, our actual legal community would be cinematic and deserves to be on the small screen. One real  law office on Rio Grande and Central has white columns like the White House and was allegedly the inspiration for the fictional Saul's office.

Ron Bell's ads back in the day make Saul's ads look reserved. I would love to see what would happen if Saul got his advertising hands on a bus like some of my attorney friends.

The members of the Albuquerque legal community have had many shenanigans of their own that would make great plots. One attorney allegedly shot one of his clients. That's a script for Saul that writes itself. The late Judge Bob Schwartz had some great one liners that are preserved in transcripts. Schwartz's mustache alone was worthy of an episode or two. He isn't going to sue, so take his best lines...

Not to mention the beauty of our state looks great on the small screen. There are a million shows set in Chicago. Boring...

So Vince Gilligan, you better film Better Call Saul here.

Monday, October 21, 2013

My Albuquerque Marathon

I didn't run the marathon yesterday, but I did do my favorite run along the Bosque. It heads south from the parking lot of the National Hispanic Cultural Center and runs along the Rio Grande for a few miles.  My father died almost five years ago, and there was a fire right around that same time and about a mile of the run was scorched. For some reason, the recovery of the burn area seems to mirror the recovery in my own heart.

I've written about the burn area for the past few years. At first, none of the trees seemed to take route. Then there was a period where the sunflowers sprouted up and it felt like a jungle. There was one summer when without warning, the City must have come in and leveled the area- taking sunflower and tree alike. That actually wasn't as bad as it sounded-- I had the best views of the Rio Grande and the Bosque to the other side.

So what is the burn area like to run through today?

The leaves are turning. The part of the trail before the run is amazing, you can pretend you're in Vermont. As for the burn area, the cottonwood trees that were planted after the burn have finally made it past adolescence. Even though they are losing their leaves, you can tell that they will get them back in a few years. We need more trees of course, but they will come. I'm no biologist, but the bad trees and weeds seem to be dying on their own.

Long term prognosis is good. I just wish I could run a little faster.

As for my heart, faith is definitely taking root. Like the Bosque I'm healing, not as fast as I like, but I can indeed see where I'mg going. The good trees are growing, the weeds are dying.  Long term prognosis is good.

I just wish I could run a little faster. ....but I know it's a marathon not a sprint...

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Nice Day for a White Funeral: RIP Walter White

Yesterday was the funeral of fictional Walter White at a real cemetery. I have mixed feelings about the ceremony. I visit my father's grave a few times a year at his cemetery in Albuquerque. Had a fake ceremony been going on while I was spending time at my father's grave, I certainly would have had some issues with it. But then again ...

The ceremony did make national news and did raise money for a good cause, people who are ravaged by the very drugs that Walt made. It is unknown whether Walt's gravestone will stay on the grounds. Will it cause people to come to the cemetery? And the big question-- will the upkeep of the cemetery be aided or hindered by the masses of people who come by? If mobs of people are leaving trash, and the cemetery staff is spending time cleaning that trash up instead of tending to the real graves ....

But then again...

I felt a real loss when Walter White died. There have been a handful of other moments in my viewing years that have had an emotional impact like the final episode. In the old show, Hill Street Blues, one character appeared to commit suicide and I cried. I later met the actor who played the character. He didn't seem to remember the scene.  I did have a tear when during Lost, Jack died and closed his eyes at the end. Then again, Matt Fox has been such a screw up since then, I don't really care anymore. ..

Breaking Bad was a plus for Albuquerque. I will miss it. Hopefully it will be the start of something big. Perhaps some young film student came to the event, or will come to the grave site, and be inspired to shoot something here....

However, hopefully if they are shooting at a ceremony it won't be while I am visiting my Dad's grave...!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Boulder on my Shoulder

My writing career began in Boulder, Colorado with a letter to the editor. I was a frat boy there, a sophomore, and I wrote a letter to the editor in response to a negative letter regarding fraternities. The other fraternity members gave me some positive feedback on a Friday afternoon over a few beers.
Positive feedback was "I didn't know you can write," which was said by the house bully...

 I took a Creative Writing class that year as well, but I don't remember a single positive comment from a classmate. I don't have anything I wrote from that class at all. That class almost encouraged me not to write again.

I would transfer from Boulder my junior year and graduate from Cornell. I returned to Boulder to attend Law School. I was not a natural at legal writing, however I did become the Editor of the law school's newspaper. We were the voted the third best in the nation, one issue that included my editorial was number two in the nation.

In some ways it was luck, a story fell onto our laps. A teacher was denied tenure and there was a brief occupation of the Dean's office. I didn't write the story, but it came under my leadership. By the way, the teacher gave me a D, but that's another story...

I would say that the exact moment that my writing career began was the day the newspaper came out and I stood in front of the library handing it out to my fellow students. One of the best days of my life. It was a feeling that I would not get until years later when I saw my first novel come out.

My reunion is coming up next week. I can't wait. If only I had something to give out....Oh wait, I do...
Then again, I can always write a letter to the editor about fraternities...!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Next Breaking Bad and National Novel Writing Month

Where is the next Breaking Bad-- a story set in New Mexico with a morally ambiguous lead? Who will write it? With National Novel Writing Month, I'm going to try to write it in the month of November....

 I have a basic plot in my head already. Our main character is attacked while climbing alone the ridge at Kachina Peak in Taos. With his keys and ID missing, his office is burglarized and client files compromised...somehow this leads to a tale of international intrigue, along with meth manufacturing.

A few years ago, I did several trials involving meth trafficking and manufacturing. Needless to say. I won a few, hung some, and lost a few. There will be a trial at the end of Act II.

Spoiler alert, the simple meth lab out in the desert is going to have some link to international intrigue.
If there are any mysterious strangers that show up offering to help, they will be bad.

I do want to have a scene that takes place in Los Alamos. You already know there will be a strip club scene. Is there a strip club in Los Alamos? Well, there is now!

For some reason Act III the story ends in Hawaii on top of the volcano you can ski down. I have never been to the Hawaiian volcano you can ski down, but writing about it, gives me the incentive to get there. I have been to Hawaii, so I will try to get the Hawaiian scenes perfect.

Since the last book was Rattlesnake Wedding, this one will be called Rattlesnake Honeymoon.

And this first draft will be written within 30 days....

By the way, here's the link to my latest book, Laws & Loves.!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Judge Judy is Number One.

Laws & Loves, my new ebook made it to number 28 in books about lawyers and judges behind Judge Judy and her book, "Don't Pee on Me and Tell Me it's Raining."  Like Howard Stern, Judge Judge is the queen of all media. She's on the list four times, so you can sample her in different formats. Make sure you use a clean sample each time.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor's memoir was also on the list, but thankfully she had nothing about about bodily fluids in her book. Scott Turow's book One L was also on the list, but it wasn't number one...or number two.

I took a break from blogging for the last couple of days to promote the ebook release. I didn't want to overexpose myself.  Sales started strong, but have now gone down to a trickle. Ebooks are hard to promote

The question is where do we go from here. How do we increase book sales and get back on the list to get within spitting distance of Judge Judy? If anyone know, don't hesitate to knock.

I am the editor of another ebook coming out. That will be in a different category--anthologies, I don't know who is number one in that category by the way.!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Balloon Fiesta

Fly me to the moon, well fly me to the Balloon. We went to Balloon Fiesta yesterday and even after forty years, it remains the greatest thing about Albuquerque, even better than Breaking Bad. It is to Albuquerque what the Indianapolis 500 is to Indianapolis at a lot slower pace. I even wrote Balloon Fiesta into a scene in a novel, but the fiesta is often an excuse NOT to write and not to get early to work. That's a good thing too.

You can experience Balloon Fiesta from everywhere in Albuquerque. I live downtown, but I found a nice empty spot where you can get a good view of the mass ascension, A balloon or two has landed there. We've had a balloon fly over our heads as we get out for work.

Getting to the park is a pain. Traffic is horrible, although my mom claims that she arrived at 7:30 and missed the traffic whatsoever. The Breakfast Burritos and the coffee taste better there than anywhere in the world.

Arriving at Balloon Fiesta park in time for dawn patrol feels like going to a state fair on the moon. It is pitch black and there are these white structures that could be lunar shelters.  Everyone is bundled up like homeless astronauts. Weird shapes and fire are forming in the fields. If you keep an eye on the Sandia Crest, right before dawn, there's a moment where the crest glows as if a rocket has been launched just behind it. When you hear the first flames go off as the balloons ignite, it does feel like a rocket is revving its engines before going on a drag race to Risa 4.

The balloons might be flying a few miles at most, but when they rise up, they literally could be flying to the moon . . . just a little bit slower of course, and with a lot more style . . .

For a few short minutes, it is fun to run around and take pictures of the special shapes. It's like a comic con come to life. I am one of the most jaded people in the world, but I still got a rush from the spider pig balloon and had ten pics taken of the Darth Vader head.

And then all of a sudden it is over. The last balloon has flown up, up and away. You are no longer on a state fair on the moon, once the sun rises you are in a fairgrounds that could be anywhere. Iowa perhaps? We left as there was a chain saw carving competition. The coffee doesn't taste that great and there's a line to use the facilities. Where did we park again?

Time to fly back. home . . .

Friday, October 4, 2013

Was Breaking Bad just a Bad Dream?

Several articles have suggested that the ending of Breaking Bad was just a dream--Walt froze to death when he got into the car in New Hampshire, and the next hour and fifteen minutes took place in his head. The proponents of the dream theory state that everything in the finale seemed like Walt's wish fulfillment and that somewhere there's an outtake of Walt falling asleep in the car to the sounds of Marty Robbins' El Paso song.

Walt literally gets away with murder. He is presumably the most wanted man in America and yet was still able to drive across country, and make it past armed guards to see Skyler and Walt Jr. It's all very easy, too easy . . .

Opponents of this theory point out that Jesse has a dream himself within the episode, and that Walt would not have known that it was Jesse's secret desire to make a box in shop class. A dreaming Walt would also not know the layout of the Nazi compound.

The shootout at the Nazi compound was also a problem for me, even if Walt wasn't dreaming. The Nazis all seemed to know where to stand so they would be shot. It might have been bad physics, or even bad strategy, but it was still good television.

I think we all want it to be a dream, because it would be great if Walt were to be revived in the car and perhaps be able to keep on cooking next season...

Maybe he can join forces with Jesse and the young Brock and move somewhere exotic--Hawaii perhaps. Or better yet, Cuba....Breaking Bad can really become Scarface after all.
Speaking of Scarface, there was a computer game that begins with Tony picking himself up and continuing with his adventures. I'd buy a Breaking Bad game, wouldn't you?
Hell, Breaking Bad is going to be on this Sunday instead of Low Winter Sun....

Or am I just dreaming . . ..

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Furloughs, Shutdowns and Feds oh my!

I was once a Federal Employee. Right out of Law School, my first job was at the Department of the Interior in the Solicitor's office right off the Washington Mall. Had the stars aligned, I could still be there, and as a non--essential employee I would be furloughed right now.

I can feel for the employees because I was a temporary employee and every three months they had a review on whether to keep me for the next three months. As long as there was money, I got to stay in a shared office with an elderly lawyer about to retire. Eventually the money ran out and I had to go. If I had waited for the money to come back, I would probably still be working on a brief this very instant, probably sharing my office with a kid right out of law school.

I wrote memos about the Federal Oil and Gas Royalty Management Act. Every Friday over lunch, our whole division would play Trivial Pursuit. There was one brilliant guy who deal with the legal issues of the trust territories in the Pacific. He had never been to any of the Trust Territories in the Pacific, but had a photographic memory and could speak several Polynesian dialects. This was very helpful at Trivial Pursuit. His rule was when in doubt, the answer was Elvis Presley in Blue Hawaii.

I think I manged to stay on for one more term because of that rule.

I can honestly say that in all the workplaces where I've been, I've never been in such a fun place to work. My co-workers were smart and dedicated. They were interesting and they were friendly. They came from all political stripes--some were liberal, some were conservative, but they all believed in public service.

Every other Friday I would get paid, and I would listen to the chatter of whether I would be able to stay for another few months.I would actually read the Wall Street Journal to check on Federal budget issues as if it somehow affected me. You know what, it did. I remember interviewing for a job at the Justice Department, they told me if I could hold on a little longer, I would get a job there.

I don't have a solution to the budget impasse, but I am thinking of those nice people whom I played trivial pursuit with. I wonder if they are still going to be playing trivial pursuit this Friday at a nearby Starbucks.

Hint...the answer is Elvis Presley in Blue Hawaii.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Laws & Loves Launches!

"Laws & Loves; Real Stories of the Rattlesnake Lawyer" will be released as an ebook in the next three weeks. It is my first work of non-fiction in ten years. The world has changed. Books have changed. Hell, I've changed.

I had a vast stack of creative non-fiction lying in my trunks-- both electronic and physical. Amarillo in August: An Author's Life on the Road which came out in 2004 was my first mining expedition. It made the master list of southwestern books published that year. I'm not sure what that means either to be on a master list. Amarillo in August focuses on my literary life, Laws & Loves focuses more on my legal work.

When Amarillo was published, there was no It came out as an actual 35,000 word book that sold for $7.95. I would do book tours in my car. I drove to such places as Greeley and Grand Junction Colorado; Flagstaff, Arizona; and of course Lubbock and Amarillo. I was physically able to drive eight hours, take a shower in a Motel Six, chug a Red Bull and then sign for four hours. I sometimes sold as many as fifty books a day at a Borders or a Hastings. There are no Borders stores anymore, and Hastings now focuses more on used books. I get tired after two hours on the road.

I did drive four hours to a book event in Silver City last weekend, but coming back I had to pit stop at a hot springs in T or C to rest my tired muscles.

Laws & Loves is coming out electronically on amazon. It does not exist as a physical book. My first big drive will be to my thousands of "friends" and "connections" on linkedin. I hope to sell fifty books before I take a shower in the morning.

If all goes well, Laws & Loves will get a release as an actual book in a few weeks. Maybe I will go on tour again. I've heard that Amarillo is lovely in October.