“I have built a labyrinth…” -Ts’ui Pen

“Oulipians: rats who build the labyrinth from which they plan to escape” -Raymond Queneau

“History is a nightmare from which I am tryng to awake.” -James Joyce

“This is not a game…” – Jeanine Salla

“Everything in the world exists to be in a book.” -Stephan Mallarme

“This is not a novel.” -James Wood

“Everything you know is wrong…” -Ts’ui Pen


12 Responses to “V. CINCO DE MAYO”

  1. Stella Maris Says:

  2. SCENARIO 12-D Says:


    This novel is set in a then-future 2004. There is still a (theoretical) Cold War between the United States and its allies and the Soviet Union and its allies. At the elite governmental level, however, both “sides” have secretly come to an agreement. They have decided that, instead of continuing the ecologically and economically crippling nuclear and conventional arms race, they will pretend to be constantly developing new weapons, which are then “plowshared.” This means that these items are transformed into novel but baroque consumer products. Most of these weapon designers are mediums, who create their new designs in trance states.

    Design of weapons are extracted telepathically from a motion comic book, The Blue Cephalopod Man from Titan, created by mad Italian artist Oral Giacomini.

    There is a further subplot about a conspiracy theorist, who is elected as an “average man” to the governing body of Wes-Bloc. The conclusion involves an eclectic mixture of time travel, androids, drugs, toys, and comic books.

  3. #unitebleucheese

  4. Maxine Tarnow Says:

    Twin peeks.
    Fencing twins played by Lindsay Lohan.
    ‘stand wut I sayin’?
    Hey, whatever happened to Natasha Richardson?

  5. Maxine Tarnow Says:

    Situation Comedy

  6. TheBlueCephalopodManFromTitan Says:

    The History Channel is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake
    –HCE Earwicker

    Silence goes faster backwards

    This is no game
    –Jeanine Salla

  7. V. Cinco Says:

    TLS ch.1 pt.1

    Phone machine announces the crack of doom…the bubble bursts, the dream dissolves…return to what passes for consciousness with a Kurt Cobain sized headache…flaked out in front of the tube where a guy in a suit covered with question marks says I’m entitled to a large share of govt. money, which seems a stark reversal of the facts such as we’ve all come to know them…

    “Cinco…you there? awake? sober?” chirps my agent de Castro, after the message-beep.

    A little earlier, just before the big nod-off, I’d been taking a break from trying to patch somebody’s flat-tire of a screenplay. I started watching a 1921 Fritz Lang movie called ‘Destiny’, synopsis of which follows thus: “Hoping to find her fiance, a girl drinks a magical tea and faces an ominous apparition.” Which…now that I think about it, presents a certain parallel to the circumstances under which I was viewing this film.

    And now, in the shrill light of morning, I’m facing my own ominous apparition in the form of de Castro, making the obligatory agent-checking-in-call: “Heh-heh…sorry to disturb your ‘work’-no…nothing much happening, heh-heh…just checking in…”

    But no, not so routine, sez de Castro, “Hey, got something you might be interested in-could even be lucrative-a helluva story at the very least…maybe another ‘Heaven’s Gate…”

    All right, might as well humor the chump. Pick up the phone, cut in with-”Ah, when you say ‘Heaven’s Gate’…you mean the Nike sneaker-flying-saucer suicide cult? Or the ill-fated Michael Chimino western?”

    “Exactly…” says de Castro.

    It was a month like many others, as they all blend, out toward the far end of the beveled edge of History…The salient features of this era were, as I recall, something like:

    -police in a major American city were accused of using excessive force

    -Oprah was on the cover of O

    -a generically obnoxious young blonde female celebrity was booked on a 502

    -there was a disaster in Indonesia

    -meanwhile…stuff was blowing up all over the Mid-East, as high ranking generals scrambled for excuses & private contractors ran amok

    And now…here’s de Castro with an unsavory blast from the past, coming at me with ‘Heaven’s Gate’ of all things, at this hour of the morning…

    So I sez, “In the interest of my impending deadline, and your impending tennis match, or whatever…could we be a little more specific? Maybe cut to the chase just a bit here…”

    “Okay, what’s the deal with Rex Learner? Didn’t you do some writing for him back in that designer-mullet infested decade we like to call the 80’s?”

    “Well…the deal, in a nutshell, is that the sonofabitch still owes me about $70,000, as a rounded-off dime-on-the-dollar, arbitrated figure. Now, when you reference ‘Heaven’s Gate’, I kind of tend to visualize all the money disappearing down a black hole, or Learner & Co. all beaming up to the mother-ship or the mystery-comet or whatever it was…”

    De Castro declined to elaborate over the phone, provocative but oblique, as per standard agent power-style. He extracted a commitment to meet at Anthony’s bar & grill, to which I-against my better judgment-agreed.

    Prismatic shafts of light now beam through the convex window in the front room. The cats soon appear expecting food, vying for attention by releasing the ‘mute’ button on the remote. Before I can hit the ‘power’ switch, another word about finance: “Hi, I’m Phil Massinger with a new way to pay old debts…yes, yes…anything for a quiet life…”


    We meet in the muted ambience of Anthony’s in Santa Monica over requisite male-bonding beverages appropriate to the situation…pleased to meet de Castro’s old Army buddy, Richard Privette.

    Privette, ex-LAPD, now a private investigator2 has his own agency, employing at least a dozen people, “It’s not all about the shedding of shoe leather anymore…these kids click mice and tap keyboards…access the hall of records, the assessor’s office, DMV, the phone company…gives me time to concentrate on the more subtle cases.”

    Thoughtful pause while refreshing beverages are consumed, and Privette continues, “So de Castro tells me you’re a script doctor…”

    “I prefer to think of myself as a screenplay veterinarian.”

    “Script proctologist,” chimes in de Castro helpfully.

    “It’s my understanding that you’ve done some writing for Rex Learner, a director of quite some renown and notoriety, who, according to the leading biographical references, leaves quite a wide swath of dashed hopes and unpaid bills.”

    “Well as a synopsis, that’s not bad,” I have to admit, “but I’m sort of puzzled about the ‘Heaven’s Gate’ angle that de Castro was going on about.”

    “Learner’s still out there, shooting a financial sinkhole of a movie, from a massive, as yet unfinished screenplay called ‘O’Blivion’s Water’. Aptly titled, considering the flow of mula through this thing…already about 20mil beyond any production budget in Hollywood so far, must be some kind of record. Word is, somebody’s very unhappy with this whole deal, and would like to terminate this production ‘with extreme prejudice’ as they say in the movies…”

    I take advantage of the pause, to have a bit of fun at the expense of de Castro, who in my opinion, is looking way too smug about all of this…

    “Geez, I appreciate the righteousness & urgency of your cause, and no doubt he’s Got It Coming, but I don’t think I’m up for anything like that,” I explain, “Uh, so how much were you offering-just scholarly curiosity…”

    “Fer chrissakes Cinco, he’s not hiring you to clip the bastard-” he’s about to elaborate, but breaks off in mid-sentence, noticing my traditional smirk of Put-On.

    So we all share a hearty chuckle, and order another round. Maybe take a moment to field a call from my research assistant, Becky:

    “Your pal from the airport…Terry-from Lennox3 says the ‘Dr. V.’ you were asking about, is probably a Dr. Vinrod…I googled & printed what I could & left it on your so-called desk…oh, and Mrs. Kurtz called, wanted to give you a heads-up about Engram Frazier4 who apparently is frantic to get in touch with you. Judging from the eight or nine messages on your voice-mail, I would have to concur…something about a power lunch at Eleanor Bull’s. A splendid opportunity to review some of Mr. Frazier’s notes…also present will be Mr. Skeres, and a Mr. Poley, who, I believe, also have some ‘notes’ for your edification…”

    Fuck that. This I need like a hole in the head. I’d been more than patient with these pinheads, and the stale, insipid piece of dogshit that Frazier insists is a screenplay-’Sodbusters’, an egregiously lame Bruckheimer-styled vice-squad drama patterned after the CSI cookie-cutter crime shows. 105 annoying pages of pure unadulterated, shopworn cliches-a house of cards built on a foundation of quicksand.

    Even Frazier seemed to sense something wrong here. Couldn’t I just make it, you know, more coherent or something? I doubt that anybody could, although, as far as I’m concerned, anybody can try as long as they try somewhere else ’cause I’m over it.

    On my last pass with this thing, I’d sketched-in completely irrelevant directions & gratuitous camera angles. A very annoying stunt which normally would guarantee termination of contract due to unprofessional conduct. But not with Frazier…kinda guy can’t take a simple ‘Fuck Off’ as an answer…Now, the whole point of having my research assistant sort through phone messages and E-mail, would be to screen out lost causes like Frazier & his goons.

    The lesson to be learned here, if any, would, I suppose, be to pay more attention to whatever the hell it is that de Castro & Privette are pitching…

    “My client, Mrs. Wheeler, was personal assistant and confidant to Learner for ten years. Now, as a production assistant at Tri-star, she’s come across information that would seem to imply a threat to his life. Corroborated from several sources, this information seems reliable, if not conclusive.”

    “Learner’s been shooting in New Mexico,” continues Privette, “Tight security, all very hush-hush…map points, code-words…real streamlined, fanatically loyal skeleton crew, traveling in caravan from location to location…really roughing it, sometimes camping right at the location, in RVs, teepees & bubble tents, right out in the desert…not even any craft-services…”

    De Castro gives an involuntary shudder at this last revelation. Indeed, a production unit without catering; what’s the point?

    “I had to level with Mrs. Wheeler,” says Privette, “Sending in an operative, no matter how well trained or subtle, could very well backfire in a situation like this. My profession seems to be undergoing an agonizing reappraisal in the post-Pelicano era. A closed set, very limited cast of characters-Learner’s not taking calls, and unsolicited visitors are firmly discouraged…”

    “There is a weak link in the chain however; big problems with the script…which leaves a vacancy: writer wanted…so, you’ve got a history with this guy…could be beneficial to all concerned if someone could get in there and take a look. No one is suggesting you take a bullet for Learner or get dangerously close to anything too nasty. Just take a close scan for anyone, besides yourself, who doesn’t belong, or who might have an agenda pertinent to our inquiry. One of the puzzling anomalies about this entire project is the effortless flow of money to sustain it. Maybe you could cut a deal with Learner for the back pay, plus whatever it’s going to take to pump some life into this screenplay, which I’m given to understand you’re already somewhat familiar with?”

    “O’ Blivion’s Water & I go way back…”

    “Exactly why you’re the one for the job. Mrs. Wheeler avers that Cal Habrud, a line-producer for Canopus Productions (Learners company) will put in a good word, a letter of introduction that should put you right there.”


    And so we agree to meet at Privette’s office tomorrow, sign some forms, work out a few details, review a few profiles of some of the more interesting production staff and assorted hangers on. As we zoom in slow toward the bar, observe sport-sized TV screens tuned to CNN-fresh footage from the war (hard to keep track of which one exactly, but it was bloody, painful, expensive, and made no fucking sense whatsoever) blasted vehicles, daisy-cutters & cluster bombs on wedding parties…shrapnel…broken glass…charred flesh of young children…

    “Holy shit!” grates de Castro, while gibbering neo-con dickheads try to put a positive spin on it all, accentuate the positive, like that book The Secret-gotta tune out those negative thoughts…can’t make a New World Order without grinding a little hamburger…

    “Just like a Nam flashback-typical fucking Skull & Bones-CFR war,” opines Privette, downing the last of his drink, “What was it Jim Jones said about not learning from history? Now, he wasn’t the first to say that, but judging from this bullshit, he definitely won’t be the last either.”

    According to de Castro, Privette had seen plenty of action up close & personal in Nam and Cambodia. According to the tone in Privette’s voice, he’d seen more than enough.

    Way more.


  8. N. Graham Meter Says:

    EXT: Corner of Pico & Ficino, beneath a malfunctioning streetlamp flickering in the shadowed twilight, just like at The Cowboy’s ranch…

    GITTES: This stinks Escobar. Your flunkies have been on the tube sayin’ that only an expert marksman shooting from an elevated angle, like from an SUV, coulda put five shots in her chest at that tight of a pattern and gotten away from the scene, and now yer tryna sell us this lone-nut-on-a-bicycle bullshit? Nobody’s gonna buy this crap Escobar! Ya hear me? Nobody!

    ESCOBAR: That’s where you’re wrong Gittes. Three months from now, nobody’s going to remember any of this. The wheels will turn, and the Industry will grind on, and it’ll be business as usual. All this will be just so much stale popcorn.

    GITTES: Bullshit Escobar! I’ll still be here, and I’ll remember. I’m not just gonna push the envelope on this, I’m gonna rip it wide open and set the fuckin’ pieces on fire, this isn’t the last of this, not by a long shot…

    ESCOBAR: You just don’t get it, do you? There’s some factions in this town that draw lines that you just don’t Cross. Celebrity trumps everything–no exceptions. And I think we know who owns celebrity around here, don’t we? You think anybody up or down the food-chain is gonna ask questions that would embarrass Tom Cruise, or Cher, or Travolta, or Oprah, or Will Smith?

    There’s too much at stake here for the truth to come out.

    Listen, I got a call from the Captain, who got a call from the Commander, who got a call from the D.A., who got a call from the Commissioner, who got a call from the Attorney General, who got a call from the Governor, who got a call from the Secretary of Defense, who got a call from the President, who got a call from a figure in the shadows way up at the apex of the pyramid that if you’ve lived right you don’t know nothin’ about, and if you want to live long, you’ll stay blissfully ignorant of.

    And when that figure in the shadows way up at the top sez: LAY OFF!! You’d better fucking listen.

    Believe me Gittes, there’s some things well worth not knowing.

    You go stickin’ yer nose in this, and I think you already know what’s gonna happen. Am I right?

    Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown…

    –V. Cinco

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