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Archive for October 28th, 2014

SYNOPSIS

Discovering who you are is not just for teenagers. Midlife men must also rediscover the world around them while struggling with their own impending mortality and legacy, especially those who change careers and lifestyles.

Middle-aged men like me are under siege, beset on all sides by personal ambition, internal expectations, familial pressure, disillusionment, uncertainty, and legacy. It’s a constant battle to balance the needs of the self and the needs of others and a struggle to discover which ones really take priority. Some win this battle and some tragically lose.

Curmudgeonism is a state of mind, unwavering, unapologetic, and uninterested in what people think. We are the proverbial old dog that can’t be taught new tricks because we know the old tricks are tried and true. We have firm beliefs that can’t be shaken. Free trade is good. True leaders are rare. Happiness is a luxury. Golf is a waste of time and we don’t have enough years left to be unproductive. We don’t apologize for our views because we’ve spent half a lifetime developing them. Theory and idealism sounds good in school but only until it becomes cost prohibitive and the real world determines ground truth. Curmudgeons are uncaring about what people think and have low expectations on the world because it’s done little more than disappoint us. We’re middle aged and tired of looking, acting, feeling the way people want us to, so we’re breaking out and being who we were meant to be; irascible curs who make the world a better place through brutal honesty. We see this as our duty and take it seriously.

Buy the ticket. Take the ride.

Where to purchase Curmudgeonism

EXCERPT

 

Think you’re owed happiness? You’re not. Happiness is a luxury, not a necessity. Some say “if you’re not happy doing what you’re doing then don’t do it.” Those people are surprisingly more comfortable with a welfare Christmas and a moped than the average person. It’s idealistic, but many times unrealistic and as we’ve learned already, idealism has a cost.

The definition of happiness is different for everyone but one thing is for sure-it’s fleeting. Just when you think you’re on the verge of a touchdown, the goal line moves. The variables change and suddenly you’re on a quest to make it to the next level of happiness. Even then, you can accomplish your mission in life and buy a nice house, nice cars, and a baby giraffe and feel happy but then you realize you have to protect it. You have everything you wanted and a life that’s enviable. That means you have to maintain it. You have to keep it going. That adds pressure and makes you unhappy again. It’s a vicious cycle.

The universe does not owe anyone a single atom of happiness and there’s no law that says you have to love your chosen profession. As long as a job provides income and necessities for the family then it can suck badger milk because true happiness for a man comes from being a provider. It’s our responsibility to take care of our kin and we want to fulfill that responsibility no matter how happy or unhappy it makes us. Curmudgeons sacrifice the happiness of the self for the needs of the family because we’re not egotistical or narcissistic.

Some Deepak Chopra Zen master schmuck will tell you that you have to be happy in life or that you should continually strive to find greater levels of happiness. That works for some, but if you’re a family man then you have the responsibility to provide for those you love and that’s it. If you’re not happy but you’re providing a good life then suck it up, cupcake.

My soul dies a little each day at work, but I provide a comfortable living for my family therefore I will be its punching bag and shut up and take it. Some days I hate what I’ve become but then I step through the doors of my house and it’s all washed away. Coming home from a day on the job is like finishing a hard ass gym workout. It sucked, but in the end it’s satisfying to know my sacrifice had a purpose and my good health means I will live to work another day and my family will be good to go a little longer. Men are wired to provide, even if it’s just for ourselves, and when anything threatens our ability to do that we freak out just a little bit.

On the grand scale of things happiness is a want, not a need. We need to provide. We want to be happy but if we’re not happy, but we’re providing then that’s a form of happiness in itself or at the very least a form of satisfaction. I may not fit some liberal’s view of happy but I’m content and that’s good enough for me. Don’t agree? Quit your crappy job just to spite me. It’s not easy is it? Show me a job that pays as much as I’m making now that I can enjoy and then I’ll listen to your “don’t work in a job you hate” argument. Otherwise leave me alone. I have a family to provide for.

 


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The Author
Kelly’s Twitter / Facebook  / GoodreadsKelly Crigger is an angry troll who lives under a bridge, eats goats that wander past, and throws their bones into the canyon of despair.

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Synopsis
New Year’s Eve, 1951. Hollywood, California. As Tinseltown rings in the twilight of its Golden Age, a young man arrives from Texas hell-bent on exploiting his brooding good-looks in exchange for a shot at stardom–only to become dangerously entangled in the lives of one of the most powerful couples in show business. As his dream devolves into a lurid nightmare, he must choose between fortune and fame or sanity and survival in this City of Whores.
“Subtly powerful…a Truman Capote-like piece…deeply affecting and tinged with pathos…” – Kirkus Reviews
“…displays an excellent sense of plot and pacing…the historical settings sparkle…” – Foreword Reviews (To be published September 1, 2014)
Where to purchase City of Whores
 

City of Whores

excerpt from the novel by Mark B. Perry

© 2014 Starboard Home Press

Author’s note: In City of Whores, Dan Root is reflecting on the two tumultuous years of his youth in Hollywood when he aspired to be a movie star in the early 1950s, going first by the stage name Clifton Garrow and then ultimately Dexter Gaines. Through a set of circumstances that begin with a waiter job at a star-studded New Year’s Eve soiree in the home of Academy Award-winning producer Milford (“Milly”) B. Langen and his gorgeous actress wife, Lillian Sinclair, Dan is astonished to find himself enjoying Lillian’s southern home cooking at an intimate dinner party in the power couple’s home the very next day, eating collard greens and black-eyed peas with the “glamorous and unpredictable” Miss Tallulah Bankhead. Dan also has a nervous condition that causes his hands to tremble. 

From Chapter Seven of City of Whores

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Our journey had begun together on New Year’s Day, 1952, with Milly’s baffling one-eighty turn, and my staying not only for a traditional Southern dinner, but for the night and into the surreal months that dragged into the two years that still lay ahead. Too drunk to drive, and with no place to go and only eight bucks to my name, I accepted when Lilly had insisted that they make up the bed in the cabana for me. With the servants having the day off, she changed the sheets herself—expertly, I might add—as Milly leaned in the open French doors, puffing on a cigarette and chatting away, the chilly night seeping in behind him.

            “I don’t know about your choice of friends, Lillian,” he said, smoke expelling from his nose.

            “We can’t just toss him out into the streets, Milly.”

            “I was referring to Tallu. You do realize she wasn’t wearing any panties, don’t you?”

            “God only knows how you know.”

            Milly grimaced, carefully stubbing out his cigarette in an ashtray. “She made certain that I did. She loves to torture me, that one.”

            As for me, next to Lillian, Tallulah Bankhead was my second favorite new friend. When she had talked to me, obviously wondering why I was there in the first place, she’d seemed genuinely interested. She was further enchanted to learn that my father hailed from her home state of Alabama, and pronounced us practically “next of kin.” Struggling to make conversation, I’d asked her, “So…Miss Bankhead…what advice would you give to a new actor coming to Hollywood?”

            She’d rattled the ice cubes in her nearly empty bourbon glass and raised an eyebrow, saying, “Take Fountain.”

            Milly and Lilly found this uproarious, but I merely looked at her, having no clue what she meant. Then, Milly baited her: “I thought that was Bette Davis’ line.”

            “Fuck Bette Davis, not that I’d want to. She’s constantly robbing from me, you know. Little Foxes, Dark Victory, and don’t even get me started on All About Eve! She stole my entire persona lock, stock, and hairdo! Even went so far as to claim she had laryngitis as an excuse to mimic my very voice!” she roared, then patted my hand by way of explanation. “Fountain’s an east-west street, honey-child. And if you ever call me Miss Bankhead again, I’ll make certain you’re the end of your lineage. Now who cares? My glass is empty.”

            “So’s your bottle,” Milly said in an undertone, apparently unfazed by her histrionics.

            “There’s more in the pantry,” Lillian yawned.

            “I’ll get it,” I said, rising, anxious for some air.

            “Would you mind grabbing the champagne from the icebox?” Lilly asked.

            “And bring more collards, darling! I feel just like I’m down home again!” Tallulah added.

            “Happy to,” I said, then moved through the butler’s pantry, and into the kitchen. Even before I was out of the room, I could already hear Tallulah trying to be discreet. But lowering that voice was a near impossibility.

            “Who exactly is this divine creature?” was all I heard before the door swung closed behind me. Puck and Trouble perked up from their cushy little bed in the breakfast nook, and Puck stood, stretched, and shook himself before trotting alongside me as I fetched the cold bottle of champagne and then rummaged in the pantry until I found the Southern Comfort. I gave the scruffy mutt a scrap of ham from the platter on the counter, which he gobbled up hungrily, then just sat there, watching my every move with a dog’s vigilant look of adoration tinged with worry.

            By the time I returned to the dining room with the improbable combination of champagne, bourbon, and collard greens, there was an explosive sound like an air raid siren after too many Lucky Strikes, and I realized it was Tallulah laughing. The three of them sat up as I entered with the bottles, their brief conspiracy interrupted.

            “Please, darling,” Tallulah said, lighting yet another cigarette, “I simply must have sustenance before I fly back to New York tomorrow.”

            “So soon?” Lilly asked, genuinely disappointed.

            “Oh, you know, it’s this goddamned trial. I didn’t even want to press charges, I mean, honestly darling, the publicity is simply ruinous,” she said between puffs, referring to some legal trouble she was having with a former housekeeper. “And I’m still doing The Big Show on Sundays, and then, of course, there’s my goddamned book. My cup overturneth!”

            They spoke now of her impending memoir, which was to become a bestseller later that year. But all I really knew of Tallulah Bankhead was her role in Lifeboat. It wasn’t until Lilly explained to me a few days later that I realized just how important a figure Tallulah was in the international theater. Still, it was a little unsettling how this outrageous woman always stared at my crotch.

            My hands were once again shaking as I managed to get the foil off the top of the champagne bottle. I had just started on the cork when Milly leapt to his feet. “Good Lord, man, where were you raised?”

            I stopped, feeling immediately shamed and embarrassed, trying not to let it show. “We…didn’t drink a lot of champagne in Tyler.”

            Milly softened, as if he could tell he’d been too cruel. “I’m sorry. Here. Let me teach you the proper method. It’s not supposed to pop, you know, and you never let the cork fly out. Instead…” He picked up his crisp dinner napkin and draped it over the bottle, then gently began to nudge until there was a faint hiss. His movements had an elegance and precision to them, and my hurt quickly gave way to admiration when he dramatically whisked the cloth away, revealing the sparkling steam of the freshly opened bubbly. “It’s supposed to make the sound of a satisfied woman.”

            “In which case you obviously haven’t a clue what you’re doing,” Tallulah rasped, then she and Lillian giggled.

            Milly carefully held the bottle with his thumb pinched in its recessed bottom, and reached to refill my glass. “You first, young man,” he said, “with apologies for my brusque behavior.”

            “Hey,” I laughed, tossing it off, “at least I learned something.”

            He nodded as I toasted him, the situation diffused. Heck, a Joe could pick up a thing or two from these powerful, sophisticated people.

            After a dessert of old-fashioned strawberry shortcake, Tallulah downed the dregs of her bourbon, stubbed out the last cigarette from the pack she had opened when we first sat down for dinner, and announced, “Well, darlings, I must be off. Or so my detractors say.”

            “But it’s still early,” Lilly protested. “Can’t you stay the night?”

            “Not this time, darling. There’s this gorgeous bartender at the Beverly Hills expecting me.”

            “Picking up another strange man, Tallulah?” Milly asked, always teasing her.

            “Who said anything about a man?” she growled as she knelt to let the two dogs affectionately lick her face, wobbling slightly and nearly losing her balance when she stood up again. She glanced at me, then pulled Lillian into a tight hug. Being as there was no such thing as speaking under her breath for Tallu, I distinctly heard her whisper to Lilly, “Take good care of your little pets, darling. All three of them.”

            While we waited for her taxi, Milly went into his study and emerged with an expensive Argus still camera, insisting on pictures to record the occasion. Lilly and Tallu posed together, obviously dear old friends, then, at Lilly’s insistence, Milly snapped a few of me flanked by those two captivating women. Outside, we watched as her cab pulled away into the night, with Tallulah shouting at the driver, “I hate fucking Los Angeles!”

            To which the hack simply shrugged and replied, “Then don’t.” Tallu roared a braying, guttural laugh as they drove off, and Milly and I joined her. We didn’t realize that Lillian was already crying. She would miss her dearest friend terribly in the months ahead, unaware of her impending betrayal.

The Author

Mark’s Blog Twitter / Facebook  / Goodreads

Mark B. Perry was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, and earned his BA in broadcast journalism from the University of Georgia. An aspiring writer and filmmaker, he moved to Los Angeles in 1986 and worked as an office temp until he wrote a script on spec for the top-ten show The Wonder Years. Not only did this writing sample lead to a freelance assignment and a staff position on the series, it was also

purchased and produced as the opening episode of the 1989-1990 season, entitled “Summer Song.” Its premiere was the number three show for that week in the Nielsen Ratings, outranked only by the venerable Roseanne and The Cosby Show.

After three years and eighteen episodes of The Wonder Years, Mark went on to write and produce such diverse television series as Northern Exposure, Picket Fences, Moon Over Miami, Law & Order, Party of Five, Push, Time of Your Life, Pasadena, First Years, That Was Then, One Tree Hill, Windfall, and What About Brian. After helping successfully launch the second season of ABC’s Brothers & Sisters in 2007, Mark was then a co-executive producer on CBS’s Ghost Whisperer. Finally, in 2011, Mark began two gloriously venomous seasons on the ABC hit Revenge before resigning to complete his debut novel, City of Whores.

As a producer on the first season on David E. Kelley’s Picket Fences, Mark and the other producers received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Dramatic Series (1993). For his episode of Party of Five entitled “Falsies,” he was nominated for a Writers Guild of America Award for Best Achievement in Dramatic Writing (1997). And for his writing and producing services on that same series, he shared a Golden Globe Award for Best Drama (1996). 

 
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