Spring has arrived! It's here! How do I know? I'm walking down the street and a puff of wind blows up the short-short skirt of the woman with her boyfriend waiting for the light. . . revealing there is absolutely nothing underneath. Nope. Not even a thong. I tried to capture another Wind Reveal, but the air was still. . . so you will have to imagine, dear reader, the startling sight in front of Ye Olde Bagel Shoppe that left all those waiting for a Pumpernickel-Everything-Toasted-With-A-Schmear agog and agape.
However, it being Brooklyn, all of the Mums pushing kids in SUV-Strollers, while staring, did not cover their children's eyes.
Nothing wrong with any of this. It's to celebrate: The arrival of spring in NYC: Daffodills pop up, Mr. Softee's sprout at every corner, and bare buns abound.
Shortly after the Queen was overthrown in 1893, Eleanor Prendergast wrote this song for the Royal Hawaiian Band. The Provisional Government, who had engineered the overthrow, came to the bandmaster and told him all the members had to sign an oath of allegiance to the new government, rather than their queen. They refused. He told them they'd better sign it, or they would be eating rocks. Hence, it's also called the "stone-eater's song." It's a song of pure resistance against the government, and they could sing it because the haoles did not understand the Hawaiian words, or their nuances. During the overthrow, and the struggle against annexation, which continued from 1893 until August 12, 1898 (and even afterwards), Hawaiians resisted the white colonialists in their meles, songs, chants, and hulas. Even the Queen, imprisoned in a room in Iolani Palace, and forbidden to speak to her people, composed "meles" (songs) which were published in the Hawaiian-language newspaper (the resistance newspaper, not the haole mouthpiece newspaper).
I'm in the messy murky middle of the book (yes I know, too many M's). So it's time to recharge by listening to Hawaiian songs of resistance.
Kaulana nā pua aʻo Hawaiʻi
Famous are the children of Hawaiʻi
Pane mai Hawaiʻi moku o Keawe
ʻAʻole aʻe kau i ka pūlima
Do not fix a signature
ʻAʻole mākou aʻe minamina
We do not value
Mahope mākou o Liliʻulani
We support Liliʻuokalani
So yesterday afternoon the same-old same-old group of kids comes down the street at the same-old same-old time of 1:45 pm and I'm sitting in the window, working, and I see a big commotion: the kids are beating up on some smaller kid. I open the window, lean out, and shout HEY CUT IT OUT and start snapping iPhone photos of the mugging. Immediately they turn from the Beat-ee to me, shouting blase epithets. The Beat-ee runs like hell, as do most of the teenagers when they realize their pictures are being taken, pulling up their hoods and collars and trying to hide their faces. Two of them stop running and return, come down below my window, pick up a bottle from the street and throw it up at me, which of course doesn't work; it crashes back down on them in a shower of glass. "We'll be back with a gun, white bitch," is the highly un-original threat, and they split, however, not before I got their pictures. So here's the sequence:
3. Closeup of Gray Sweat: Better at hiding his face walking across crosswalk
4. Grey and Red below my window
So these are the guys that threw rocks at Rudy the Fruit Cart Seller in front of our building last week (there's an ongoing Hate-Fruit thing: they spent last summer and fall grabbing handfuls of Rudy's cherries as they passed and throwing them at him, or stomping his avocados in the street). So Rudy is pissed, and he picked up a pole to defend himself . . . ergo, commotion last Tuesday. So I think about calling the police, wondering if I should waste any more time, and then think okay, so these Snotfarts on my Street are probably all talk, but if not, and they come by with AK-47's in the middle of the night and do an Al Capone on the side of the building, someone should have a clue as to where to start.
So I call the police, who tell me "Defend yourself, but don't do it with an AK-47."
What does that mean?
One of the poor guys started violently sneezing when he came into the apartment; he was allergic to cats, and the dust from my project to expose the brick on one wall (which is another way to procrastinate writing. The brick must be exposed. Now).
(Note: the Expose-The-Brick project is not such a good idea, as one of the cats has now taken up ferreting out bits of plaster and eating them, so this project requires a white-glove clean up each time I work on a patch).
So things calm down in the apartment, and it seems there's a panel at mid-town Library at 6:30 sponsored by Mystery Writers New York Chapter and the subject is Conflict, so I determine that it's a good idea to go to this panel in order to learn something about conflict, instead of finishing the writing for the day. So I can't resist contributing something about MH 370, and the open-ended mystery - ie., why many of us write mystery stories is because the mysteries get solved!) and one of the best historical mystery writers around, Laura Joh Rowland (Shogun's Daughter, etc), says that she doesn't read True Crime because there's always an element that is not satisfactory about the crime -- it's not solved, or its solved in an unsatisfying way. Which is absolutely true.
I noticed several "regulars" at the panels that I've seen before who are folks that hang out in the library from opening to closing every day, sometimes snoring. . . and so one of the guys has arrived with a snow shovel. So after it's over, he comes over to me and asks if he can tell me something and I say sure, and he leans over and whispers "Flight 370 was taken by extra-terrestrials. I KNOW. I saw it! And Man, there was CONFLICT, which is why I came to this discussion."
So what else is there to say?
To my dismay, however, I walk from 5th Ave across 40th to 6th, to catch the B Train, and I notice (egads) that Maison Kayser from Paris has opened yet a third shop in NYC. It's my favorite place in Paris; the hot baguettes are incredible. So they opened on B'way at about 21st, and I now avoid that block; but here it is, on the way to the monthly mystery panel. . . what could I do? I loitered in front until the sugar craving passed, and then took the train home.
And the broken glass was still in the street.
This is honor of a friend who's headed to Istanbul. Any musical theatre buffs, compare with Puttin' On The Ritz!
Dance. Watch your pets run for cover. And is that your downstairs neighbor, pounding on the ceiling with her broom? Or PM Erdowan shouting "Incoming!"
This time from a masked server with route blacked out from somewhere in "Europe."
If you want to try some spy stuff of your own, enter their IP address into one of the many sites that takes an IP address and gives you a lat and long, server information, route, path, etc. It's very, very few who can successfully mask everything except a "generic" IP, which is: 18.104.22.168
You'll see what I mean by a dead end. Then try entering your own IP address. Note the difference.
So, Number 22.214.171.124, this is Inspector Javert. . . on your trail. . . . show yourself, man!
So it's time to quit sugar and all refined carbohydrates again and go back on a fish, vegetable, nuts, chicken eating plan. I did this two years ago and for over a year dropped weight, but more important, joints stopped aching, energy went up -- blah, blah, blah, we all know the reasons. However, a kind hearted soul left a warm chocolate chip cookie she had baked for Christmas in a little baggie on my doorknob. I came home famished. I devoured it like a crack addict who had been on the wagon too long. Alas. . . it was insidious. . . but now its time to lower the boom
Yesterday was Day #1. Today is Day #2. I have more rewriting to do, but its 48 degrees, practically a heat wave in Brooklyn, and I am going to take the computer and go to the public library to write where I am not ten feet from a refrigerator or in a coffee shop where I can smell the pastries.
The Brooklyn Public Library, by the way, is a fantastic place. I have long overlooked the incredible-ness of a public library. Anyone can come in (even without a card), all the chairs are comfy Herman Millers, and the big desks and tables are perfect for getting a lot of work done. And it's quiet, mostly, except for loud snoring (and that is only if one of the dozens of sleeping homeless people who have camped out for the day has sleep apnea). Otherwise, there is an amazing assortment of strange people, floors of good books, and best (or worst) of all, no sugar.
And speaking of obsessions, of course, there's the missing plane. In the bazillion theories floating around, no one has suggested that we think of this as a magic show. What happens on stage? How does a master magician succeed with their tricks? He creates a diversion. All eyes are on something else, when the real action is happening elsewhere. So IF the lost plane is a diversion, what is the event that the master magician doesn't want us to see? Crimea, of course, and the imminent invasion of Eastern Ukraine, which I absolutely believe will happen, and probably Moldova.
The entire world is focused on the missing plane while Russia quietly invaded and annexed Crimea, and we are glued to these new Chinese satellite photos while unnoticed, Russia is amassing tens of thousands of troops and materiel along the Ukraine border. So you know I'm a spy/thriller nut from way back. If I were writing it, I'd make the pilot a "sleeper," one of what I suspect are many, some very old by now, living a "normal" life until they are "activated" by their control. Putin is a chess player. He thinks 10 steps ahead. Plus, he's old-school KGB, who were the kings of running "sleepers" and "deep cover" operatives. Something to think about when we can't seem to find a motive that fits the facts here -- maybe the motive is Occam's razor -- the simplest solution -- because his "boss" told him to. Instructions were to make the trip untraceable, with the end destination a place that would be impossible to search. Anyone who watched the American public become obsessed with OJ Simpson, et al, could predict what a media frenzy this would be.
So maybe it's the lack of sugar that's feeding this thought. Whatever. But stop blaming it on the batteries and go back to Occam's Razor -- the correct answer is usually the simplest. Someone took it because they were told to take it, whether for whatever valuables the cargo contained, or whatever valuable some passenger was carrying (think another Snowden on that plane: they don't know which passenger, they just know he's on the plane) -- it was a crime, and the reason the pilot did what he did was because he was told to. Perhaps he didn't even know the end game. But the net effect is that we're all tangled up in 24/7 speculation (me included) and the most major shift in world events and policy is taking place under our eyes, an event that will have repercussions long after MH 370 is relegated to the "Great Mysteries Of The Western World."
On the other hand. . . . think Space Cowboys. Who was it that rode it away into outer space, to his certain doom, at the end? Again, Occam's Razor: the pilot wanted to be famous. He wanted to go down in history as the captain of the plane that vanished. And, he loved 777's. What better way to go out than to gloriously ride it, like a Space Cowboy, as far as it would go.
This theory is making me think of lasagna. I'd better get to the library. I'll take along a hard-boiled egg.
As I am wont to do while procrastinating my writing, I look on Statcounter to see where the folks are coming from that read the blog or go to the website -- and it's quite an interesting collection this last few days. Besides the US, Canada, France, Sweden, (the usual suspects), a couple of folks in Ireland are reading (hence the greeting!) But also -- and this is fascinating stuff:
Benghazi, Banghazi Libya using the BPTC Autonomous System in Tripoli;
Three from Brazil: Conelheiro Lafaiete, Minas Gerais; Sao Borja, and Maua, San Paulo; and another from Portugal and the Czech Republic.
Now I have to go and look up where Saua, Minas Garais, and Sao Borja are. Another great way to procrastinate writing. Why is it so difficult today?
which is the story of the capture, detention and release of Sun Yat-Sen (Sun Mei) from the Chinese Legation in London, 1897.
The whole period of time in HAwaii that is the backdrop of THE FAT HAWAIIAN DETECTIVE (which starts on Annexation Day August 12, 1898) is rich with intrigue, revolutionaries, plots, intrigues -- in the process of a page-one rewrite, (which came about because I wanted to go back and leave in the detective's brother and sister throughout, bringing in family/ohana and the conflict between his haole side (father) and his Hawaiian side (mother). I had sent the brother and sister off to San Francisco at the third chapter, but it would be much better if they stayed in the book so I can work the family issues off the events that happen with the three of them, and the conflict, rather than telling about it -- I'm trying to show it.
So that's how the page-one rewrite started. I'm at page 234 of 350. Have to blast through to 350 and then go back and clean up the rewrite. Anyway, sometimes the characters take on a life of their own and do things in a scene that you hadn't intended. Sun Yat Sen was educated in Hawaii at Iolani School, and then spent a year or so at Oahu Collete (Punahou). This was during the years that led up to the overthrow of the monarchy in 1893 and the years of the Republic and Provisional Government that led to Annexation in 1898. But during this time, Sun was organizing a group in Hawaii to raise money and buy arms for his first revolution in China against the Manchus, in 1895/96 (I have to doublecheck the year) which was a complete failure. He then fled to Japan, where he cut off his queue and grew a mustache to disguise himself and then went back to Hawaii, and from there made his way to London. The Chinese "secret service" was always trying to nab him; they tracked him to London and kidnapped him and held him hostage in the Chinese legation house. He wrote about it when he got out (they were going to send him back and behead him). But this book, a small one, written contemporaneously, was so illuminating to FHD (Fat Hawaiian Detective) because all of a sudden a motive for the murder of a character drops into place, and the contraband on one of the ships that offloads at night in Honolulu harbor is not only guns, but boxes of this book, printed on flimsy paper, translated into Chinese, that is going back to China to be circulated (the Manchu government suppressed any outside information completely; indeed, most of the people didn't even know of the war with the Japanese outside the very small circle where the action happened). So one of Sun's intents was to get written material (his book, which contains the reasons why he wants the Manchu government overthrown) and his treatise on non-corrupt government he wrote and distributed a couple of years earlier that he got in hot water from.
So the character opened the opium chests in the warehouse and finds printed material from Sun going to China. So this has thrown things all off, but I swear, I finished reading the book, and I went back to writing, and Lopaka was in the warehouse, going through the crates that had been offloaded, and most of them were Brownings, but what he thought was opium (completely legal at the time) was instead "propaganda." And that made all the sense. So I have to back up and stitch this in. Sun is already a character by virtue of things that happen "off-stage" but the events, murder, and intribue of the contemporaneous time of the novel -- the five days beginning with annexation in 1898 -- are informed by the real characters that worked out of Hawaii to foment revolution. Hence, the books.
Which is by way of saying, this is a great read, easy, short, and a really intresting insight written contemporaneously by one of the world's great revolutionaries -- which goes hand in glove with Wilcox and Nowlein, who led Hawaii's two unsuccessful revolutions against the PG's, and another revolutionary, Evangelina Cisneros from Cuba, who was "rescued" (a journalism stunt by Hearst) from a prison in Cuba. I won't reveal how she fits in but hint: she meets one of the characters in New York City, at her rally at Madison Park (historically true) and ends up in Hawaii in 1898 for another puprose -- but is one of the suspects. Do the guns belong to her? Is she sending them on to Manila? Remember, at this time, we were at war with Spain, it was the period of "Manifest Destiny," and on August 12, 1898, the date of Hawaii's annexation, the US and Spain signed the treaty to end their war, which gave the US rights to Guantanamo, Cuba (and control of Cuba for awhile), Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines -- but the Philippines didn't get the word, and the Battle of Manila Bay was raging.
Okay, that's enough. I'll end up writing my daily quota in the blog instead of in the manuscript.
Writing is a very solitary thing, and it is harder some mornings to apply butt to chair and write than almost anything else. I woke up thinking: finis h your taxes! And realized it was a diversion from sitting down to write. And yet I love it. Go figure.
If it were not for the terrible tragedy of the lost souls on board this plane, and their families, this would be one of the all-time great mysteries/thrillers. Malaysian incompetence, chaos, culture-driven denials and secrets, and the failure of all of our technologies -- its a perfect storm. Saying this is redundant to what everyone is saying, but it's now beyond Len Deighton, it's in the James Bond category.
When I saw the WSJ article about the plane flying on for four or five hours after the transponder quit transmitting, then I think, as before, it is an act of terrorism, either by the pilots, or a passenger. There's one question I can't figure out except in one scenario -- out of all of the people on the plane, why hasn't one single individual even texted SOS - called - tweeted - made a three-second call to a loved one -- the 9/11 passengers on those planes managed to get calls out. So SOMEONE on that plane would have noticed something was going on, and made a call.
So to me, that question has to be answered: why did no one make a call? Not everyone turns off their cell phone. IF the plane flew on for 4-5 hours, the only way not one cell txt or call got out was because all of the passengers and probably most or all of the crew were dead. Working backward from that premise, you have the "event" happen at the point the transponder quits. Hypothetical: one of the passengers, a terrorist, has managed to bring aboard two or three chemicals in two-ounce toothpaste tubes, hand sanitizer bottles, and mixed them in the bathroom -- or at his seat to produce any of a number of toxic/chemical gas that will kill quickly. He stands, cries out whatever he has to say for whatever cause he has, and lets loose the gas. As the crew see what is happening, they pick up the phones and call the pilots, who immediately turn the plane to head back. But the gas overtakes them, and the plane flies on until it runs out of fuel, a plane full of silent passengers.
The problem with this scenario is that someone turned off the transponder before the pilot or copilot turned off the transponder. To do that, the person needed access to the cockpit, plus a knowledge of how to do it. So that brings up the second point: was this the result of a lot of advance planning and a long-range plot involving the 27-year-old copilot?
Finally, the most intriguing scenario: if you think of this as a screenplay, how would you write it? BAck up a minute -- what's the plane carrying? An incredible cargo that is so valuable that others want? Nuclear material? Gold? Jewels? Printed bills? And someone had knowledge of this -- and planned a "heist" of the plane -- and turned either the pilot or the copilot as an accomplice --or found a way to get into the cockpit, ie., if the report of the young copilot letting pretty blonds into the cockpit was true, then all the planners had to do was find the right woman at the right time.
Think of it in reverse -- what if it were a crime? A heist, intricately planned, ala Oceans 11? The Brinks Armoured Car Robbery? Any of the big heists of the century? We can't see the pieces -- but someone could, and did, and figured out a way. It landed somewhere -- unloaded -- and the criminals and cargo were long gone. And the passengers? Deceased at the time of the "event", en masse, probably by gas. The gang who would have done the heist would have been prepared with appropriate breathing equipment to stay alive. They could not have all of those people trying to dial home, jump them, become heroes -- unfortunately, terrorism, pilot suicide, criminal act, heist, or landing -- the passengers aren't coming home.
Who said that "they" only have to get lucky once? We have to get it right 100% of the time?
All of this is speculation; I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but as a writer, and a member of Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers, there are a number of us who can't help ourselves on this one.
I hope I'm wrong. If I'm not, God bless them, every one.