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Everything posted by Altimexis

  1. The New York Stories series continues to deal with the massive social and political upheaval facing all New Yorkers, Americans and citizens of the World. Shelter in Place is story of how five families have dealt with the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic and the lock-down order imposed on all of New York. Some of the primary characters will be directly affected when close personal relatives become symptomatic for the virus… and worse. The three-part story has just been submitted for editing and should be posted soon. In the meantime, two of my existing stories, Inside Information and Valenterrible Day, have been updated to make them consistent with events related to the pandemic. Please be on the lookout for my next major project, Excessive Force, which is my take on New York's response to the Black Lives Matter protests of the summer of 2020. It should appear before Labor Day. For what it's worth, I never intended my story series to become so political, but events in the world around us have made it difficult to avoid the controversy. I didn't intend to address particular politicians other than obliquely, but the pandemic has pretty much nailed down that the President, the Governor of NY and the Mayor of NYC in my stories are in fact the current occupants of those offices. I would like to remind the readers that these stories are fiction, and that the opinions expressed here are those of the characters in my stories and not necessarily my own or those of this site.
  2. Or you could read Robin Cook’s 1977 book, Coma, his first successful novel. That’s Robin Cook, the American physician turned novelist, not Robin Cook, the British politician. The story and subsequent movie, which starred a young Michael Douglas, involved a ruthless chief of surgery who deliberately put patients into a coma and sold their organs. He did it using carbon monoxide, unwittingly administered by the anesthesiologist during surgery, because it left the tissues looking a super-healthy red. The surgeon who did the actual surgery thus never suspected a thing.
  3. Baranaby is a story with an interesting plot twist. Initially I felt certain that Barnaby was an imaginary friend. I won’t spoil the fun by saying who he is, but the ending is certainly different. I’m sorry to bring it up, but carbon monoxide is a poison and not an asphyxiant. It doesn’t kill by displacing oxygen, but rather by binding to hemoglobin irreversibly. Carbon monoxy-hemoglobin is brilliant red in color - even redder than oxy-hemoglobin; hence a victim’s lips are redder than normal and not blue. Lipstick-red lips are a bad sign. The other thing is that victims won’t recover if you simply remove them from the carbon monoxide. You have to replace the poisoned hemoglobin and that can only be done by transfusion. If you ever find someone who’s suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning, by all means, get them to fresh air first, but then call 911 or the equivalent.
  4. Hey, what happened to the story link on the AD home page? It disappeared with this week's update. I hope that wasn't intentional, as it's a wonderful story. It can't be reached from Alan's home page either, as that hasn't been updated in some time.
  5. This is to let everyone know that I'm working on a very topical New York Story, titled Shelter in Place. I hope to post it by the end of May, if not sooner. In the meantime I've revised a couple of my earlier stories to make them consistent with New York's lock-down under the Covid-19 pandemic. A lot of authors would have left them as they were, but I like to see consistency across the stories in a series and have already revised the timeline in my latest stories to reflect the new global reality. The revisions in any case are minor, but check them out in Inside Information and Valenterrible Day.
  6. I also loved this story. I too read it twice. I think I can speak for all of us when I say that when we were that age, the fear of being outed at summer camp was terrifying, and there would have been no reprieve either. Something like that happened to me when I was sixteen, four weeks into a six-week session at a summer science program at a Midwestern university. Of course I denied it, even to myself, but the last two weeks there were hell. I fear that a lot of summer camps in the U.S. and around the world would still be that way - especially those with certain church affiliations. It's fortunate for Wayne and Kyle in Alan's story that the camp in their story was in the Northeast. Times have changed, and I'd like to think that most are like the one in the story when it comes to the treatment of gay kids. The kids in Wayne's dorm cabin were mostly eleven, which means that most just finished the fifth grade and will start middle school in the fall. I feel for them. Wayne would like to become a late elementary school teacher, which brings up my own memories of my fifth-grade teacher, Mr. Genders, who was the first male teacher I ever had. He was the only male teacher in all seven grades, K-6, in our elementary school and none of my classmates in junior high had had a male teacher in the other elementary schools. How lonely it must be for a guy who likes teaching at that grade level. I remember Mr. Genders fondly as he was one of my favorite teachers in elementary school. In fact, he and my third-grade teachers were the only ones I remember fondly at all from that time in my life. Mr. Genders made learning fun, and I think he had a lot to do with my lifelong love of learning. Kids need male role models in their younger years - not that my father wasn't a great role model, but a good male elementary school teacher can do wonders for a boy's esteem. Here's to you, Mr. Genders. Here's to you, Wayne and Kyle. Here's to you, Alan.
  7. Bishop, California? Do people actually live there? Talk about the middle of nowhere! Is that really considered northeastern California? To me it looks like it's pretty much in the middle of the state. In any case, for those who don't know California that well, Bishop is northeast of King's Canyon National Park, southeast of Yosemite National Park and northwest of Death Valley National Park. It's pretty close to the Nevada border and in satellite view, it appears as a green oasis in the midst of the desert. It appears to have water from runoff from the nearby Sierra Nevadas via a couple of rivers, but then so does Mono Lake, which has been shrinking for some time. I've probably driven through Bishop at some time in my life, as I've been to all of those famous places, but the town itself didn't leave an impression on me. The area around it does have spectacular scenery though, and if you love the mountains and the desert, it must be paradise… well, to visit anyway. I just can't imagine what it would be like to grow up there. Bishop has a population of 3,879 as of the last census. There are certainly much smaller towns than that, but compared to Bishop, the small town of Mellencamp's song, Seymour, Indiana (Pop. 17,503), is a thriving metropolis. Not only that, but there are small towns all around Seymour. Other than Big Pine (Pop. 1,756), fifteen miles to the south, there's nothing for miles around Bishop. Those kids must spend hours traveling to and from other small towns for their cross country meets. It's probably not the best place to grow up gay either, but then neither is Seymour.
  8. Hi all, When I started to write a New York novella called Passover Pathos, it was intended to be a lighthearted look at celebrations of Passover and Easter, but that was before New York City became an epicenter of Covid-19. How could I write about large gatherings of kids and school and so on, in the face of a society in lock-down? Obviously, changes had to be made. The novella has been renamed Passover Panic and all three parts will be posted simultaneously rather than serially. There are new characters and new romances in addition to the old, all in the face of the emergence of a global pandemic. This is the first story I've written that deals with Covid-19, but it won't be the last. You can expect future stories that deal with finding romance online and losing a loved one. For better or worse, the future of my stories is being rewritten by the lives we are leading right now.
  9. Not to denigrate Alan's wonderful writing, but this is the kind of story that got me into writing gay-themed fiction in the first place. It was after perhaps reading the fifth story in which a paraplegic young man was portrayed as a helpless invalid that I wrote my first story, Love in a Chair. Now, I find that first effort so over-the-top and one-dimensional that it's embarrassing to even mention it, but at least it portrayed a paraplegic character accurately. At one time I was the medical director of a model system spinal cord rehab center, so I know something about what paraplegics and tetraplegics (the preferred term for quadriplegics) can and cannot do. Please feel free to contact me for advice if you ever write a story involving a character with a disability. Here are some common myths about spinal cord injury that I'd like to dispel right now: People with spinal cord injury need help - God No! Nearly all paraplegics and even tetraplegics with intact function in their elbow extensors (triceps) are capable of living independently. A person with full use of their upper limbs, as was the case with the main character in Alan's story, can bathe themselves, dress themselves, transfer in and out of a wheelchair without assistance and use an accessible toilet without any assistance whatsoever. Paraplegic children must be confined to a wheelchair - True only with what are referred to as lower motor neuron disorders such as spina bifida. Even then, many learn to stand and walk with braces. Children injured in early childhood and some injured in middle childhood commonly develop the strength and balance to stand unaided and some even are able to walk short distances with crutches. A person paralyzed as a result of a spinal cord injury will never walk again - Occasionally true, but often false. Although there are injuries so severe that there appears to be little hope of any recovery, I've seen even the hopeless walk out of rehab after a few months, and I've seen people regain function even more than a year after injury. I never would tell a patient they would never walk again, partly because it's demoralizing to someone who needs to put everything they have into their rehabilitation, but also because I've often been proven wrong. The only way to 'sever' the spinal cord is with a knife. Usually it's stretched, mashed or otherwise mutilated, and function often returns, at least in part, once the swelling has subsided. It is possible for one to retain bowel, bladder and sexual function, even though they have lost the use of their legs - Generally false. Yes, it's possible, but we're talking about a fraction of a percent in paraplegia. Bowel, bladder and sexual function is controlled in the very lowest portion of the spinal cord, a part called the conus medullaris, in the sacral section of the cord. The segments that control function in the legs occur above this, in the lumbar region. Think of a lizard, with a tail and the legs off to the side. That's the model from which we evolved. Embryonic legs begin as buds that grow out of the lower portion of the body at a time when there is still a tail, and the anus, the bladder and the penis all originate from the very lowest segments of the tail. Anything that disrupts control of the legs usually affects bowel, bladder and sexual function. The one exception is something called cauda equina syndrome, which is an injury of the 'horses tail' - the bundle of nerves emerging from the spinal cord. However, cauda equina syndrome has a good prognosis, because it's a peripheral nerve injury and peripheral nerve fibers can regenerate, so people can often walk within about a year after injury. I've never seen a pure cauda equina syndrome from a tumor, however. Sexual satisfaction requires a functioning penis - Are you serious? If that were the case, why look at porn? People with spinal cord injuries can and do find ways of achieving sexual satisfaction and for satisfying their partner. It's said that the primary sexual organ is the brain. The majority of partnered men who sustain a spinal cord injury lose their partners within the first year after injury - Sadly true. Divorce after SCI is usual, even though most paraplegics and a large number of tetraplegics are fully capable of independence. Ironically, partners of people sustaining severe traumatic brain injuries tend to stick it out, at least for the first year, in the hope there will be a meaningful recovery. Workplace discrimination is common and many employers will not hire someone with a spinal cord injury, even when minimal or no accommodation is required for a given job - Unfortunately true. The majority of paraplegics and the vast majority of tetraplegics are unemployed, even though they're perfectly capable of gainful employment and no less capable than their able-bodied colleagues. I loved Alan's story, but the reality is that his character would have had a much rougher time of it due to the lack of proper bowel and bladder management the late 1960s and early 1970s. However, if he'd been directed to one of the newer model systems spinal cord injury rehab centers that were just coming into existence then, he should have done well. By using intermittent catheterization, and a timed bowel program, he would have avoided urinary and fecal incontinence and these are things he would have been able to do on his own after training. He probably wouldn't have derived pleasure from masturbation but, having never been sexually active, he wouldn't have missed it either, and likely would have found sexual pleasure in other activities. He would have been able to stand unaided and to walk short distances with crutches, and he would have been fully independent in dressing, bathing, personal hygiene and wheelchair use, and in driving with hand controls. He might well have been demoralized regarding getting a college education, not because of concerns about personal hygiene but because of the limited job prospects after college. Again, please feel free to contact me if any of you decide to write a story with a disabled character.
  10. Shall we assume the first internship scenario, the one in the doctor's office, was meant to be more of a fantasy than reality? Not even a medical student can document a physical exam any more. The attending physician must verify all findings and document them personally. That is because if a medical student misses something do to inexperience, the attending physician can be held financially liable. Besides which, Medicare and other 3rd parties won't pay for an exam done by a trainee. A high school intern would never be allowed to do a physical exam, and that last item would be good for criminal prosecution. It sounds like it was fun though. 😀
  11. As we all know: Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it - George Santayana I was fortunate to have a U.S. History teacher in high school who believed in learning through exploration. The only assigned text was a paperback version of Richard Hofstadter's The American Political Tradition, first published in 1948 but very much applicable today. We spent much of our time in the library writing essays on key topics that forced us to learn history, not as a series of events and dates, but as an interrelated series of causes and effects, explored from different viewpoints. It was one of my hardest courses, and one of my all time favorites. Unfortunately, the only teacher for World History in our school had a reputation for destroying kids' self-esteem and I never did well under teachers like that, so I skipped the course, which wasn't required. I learned the subject matter on my own through extensive reading over many years. Unfortunately, there are gaps that persist to this day.
  12. Nothing… if you don't mind loosing one now and then.
  13. Thanks so much for your comments, Cole. I could say much the same about your stories. To me, the believably of a story depends very much on accuracy. Lord knows, when you're already straining believably with prodigies who are seniors in high school at the age of ten, everything else better be perfect. It used to be that research for a book meant weeks spent at the public library, sifting through card catalogues and combing ancient stacks, almost crying when a book one needs was checked out years ago and never returned or replaced. It used to mean going to the local newspaper office and searching through unindexed stories on microfiche. It always seemed back in high school that I picked topics that couldn't be researched with a single trip the the high school library. But I digress… It always amazes me when authors write about things they know little about and don't take the time needed to check the facts. My readers expect better of me and they certainly let me know when I mess up. Laziness is no excuse when the entire knowledge of the world is virtually at our fingertips. For example, today I was considering introducing a character in my NY series who was an Ethiopian Jewish American. I remember visiting an Ethiopian synagogue in New York with my confirmation class, but that was nearly fifty years ago. Since then, more than 100,000 African Jews have immigrated to Israel, leaving only 4000 remaining in Ethiopia and Eritrea. Only 1000 remain in the U.S. and the only remaining congregation is in Chicago and it only has 200 members. There are foods, musical instruments and holidays that are unique to Ethiopian Jewry, and in October 2018 there was a festival held in New Jersey that attracted hundreds of young people who experienced their culture for the first time. It took me about an hour to research this via Google and Wikipedia, but fifty years ago it would have taken days or weeks to find all this out. In the end it saved me from introducing a character that wouldn't have been sustainable in the way I'd envisioned him.
  14. I've enjoyed all of Bi-Janis' stories and particularly the Goldendale novels and long short stories. They're quite moving, each one in its own way. The one issue I have is that there four stories covering five generations at least, which means the total time span is on the order of a century, which doesn't quite fit with the other elements of the stories. Obviously, there was some artistic license taken here.
  15. I'm putting the finishing touches on a five-part novella that continues the saga of a the boys of New York City. With Kyle's dads, Jake and Ken, getting married and their honeymoon in the offing, what could be better than spending ten weeks in Europe? Kyle and his brother, Roger, are invited, and so is Kyle's boyfriend, Freck. As Jake and Ken put it, what better way to enjoy Europe than through the eyes of their sons. But Freck is about to begin a journey of self-discovery as he realizes he still has a fair bit of healing to do, and discovers that having a Jewish boyfriend is only a part of his connection to the Jewish people. Stay tuned for Funny, You Don't Look Jewish, coming to AD soon. And be on the lookout for a Thanksgiving tale as well.
  16. Cole swore he'd never write a sequel, yet he wrote Another Summer in Georgia. Never say never.
  17. The next story in the New York Stories series, The Cajun Asian, will be posted soon. A lot happens in this story, including the completion of renovations to Seth's family's apartment and a surprise fifteenth birthday party that accidentally becomes clothing optional. No orgies, though, as everyone will be way too busy watching a Star Trek marathon. Gary is finally set to realize his dream of opening a Cajun restaurant when tragedy strikes, and it falls to Seth and Asher to turn the dream into reality.
  18. Oops, since the story is being posted first at CW, I posted my own review over at the CW forum, not realizing there was already a thread going here. There isn't much to add, though, as most of my concerns have already been expressed by everyone else. I would definitely note the following, however, as I would have thought the school would've been much more involved from the getgo: From the beginning, something seems a little off, and it has nothing to do with the writing. The situation the protagonist finds himself in is horrible - so horrible that he completely shut down for seven weeks and didn't even bother to notify the school of what had happened. Perhaps I'll turn out to be wrong about this, but things can't all be what they seem. For one thing, why didn't the school reach out to him? Yes, Edison is supposed to be a big high school, but an entire family being killed in a home invasion should have been big news. Surely someone - a teacher, the principal or Kevin's counselor would have been aware of the situation. Why would the school have treated him as AWOL? I went to a high school with 3600 students in three grades, yet when my dad died of a heart attack, my U.S. History class sent me flowers. A couple of my teachers came to the funeral. The principal sent me a card. No one expected me or my mom to notify the school of my absence. A few days later, my counselor called to see how I was doing and to ask when I'd return. Colin has gone into exquisite detail with this story as he always does, so this is truly a glaring inconsistency that perhaps portends greater mystery ahead. And as everyone else has already noted, the kid's in danger: Kevin's family wasn't simply murdered - they were executed. Their killers marched them out of the house, lined them up in the back yard, had them lay face-down and then systematically shot each of them in the head. Startled robbers don't do that. Crazed druggies, high on PCP, don't do that. Kids undergoing a gang initiation don't do that. This was a carefully planned execution. The only reason Kevin wasn't killed supposedly was that he was away at a tennis match as I recall, so I think it's probably safe to assume that in some bizarre plot twist, Kevin wasn't the killer. But if this was an execution and if the perps are still at large as we've been lead to believe, why isn't Kevin in danger? Would the police really let him move back into his house so soon after the crime? Are they really that inept, or are things not as they seem? One thing's for sure - or maybe not - the way Colin left the end of Chapter 11 seemed pretty ominous.
  19. It's been a while since I posted something here, but Life Can Be Lonely by Colin Kelly is an interesting story that at first blush seems like yet another of Colin's brilliant, feel-good stories. Without giving anything away, from the beginning, something seems a little off, and it has nothing to do with the writing. The situation the protagonist finds himself in is horrible - so horrible that he completely shut down for seven weeks and didn't even bother to notify the school of what had happened. Perhaps I'll turn out to be wrong about this, but things can't all be what they seem. For one thing, why didn't the school reach out to him? Yes, Edison is supposed to be a big high school, but an entire family being killed in a home invasion should have been big news. Surely someone - a teacher, the principal or Kevin's counselor would have been aware of the situation. Why would the school have treated him as AWOL? I went to a high school with 3600 students in three grades, yet when my dad died of a heart attack, my U.S. History class sent me flowers. A couple of my teachers came to the funeral. The principal sent me a card. No one expected me or my mom to notify the school of my absence. A few days later, my counselor called to see how I was doing and to ask when I'd return. Colin has gone into exquisite detail with this story as he always does, so this is truly a glaring inconsistency that perhaps portends greater mystery ahead. Now for some spoilers:
  20. The saga of the boys at Stuyvesant High School in New York City continues this weekend and next with two new stories. First up is a long one - just shy of 25k words - Bullying Starts in the Home. This poignant tale picks up the story of Clarke, the bully who slugged Asher in gym class. The following Saturday will feature a much shorter tale about the rekindling of love long lost - Reminiscing About the Future. A third story is in the works and will be posted later in the summer - The Cajun Asian. There will be more to follow.
  21. It amazes me how different authors go about writing their stories in different ways. On the one had there are authors like GA's Comicality, who writes long soap opera-like stories that never end. On the other hand are authors like Merkin, who writes very brief stories and stitches them together to form a whole. Some authors start posting long before a story is complete, and others don't publish until the story is finished, edited, beta read and reread. My favorite genre is writing short story collections, as I can write each story as an independent unit that builds on previous stories, without worrying where the series may be heading. However, I've also written full novels such as Legacy and Conversations with Myself, which was the most complex story I've ever written. In both cases I had a clear vision of where I wanted the story to go, but both took unexpected directions and the endings ended up being dramatically different than originally planned. Some authors use an outline to be sure they stay on-track. My stories are mostly character-driven and can be as unpredictable as the characters within them. I like to think that makes the stories seem more real in the end. Alan, your story was excellent as always. I agree with Merkin that the first semester in college was the right place to end it. The final paragraph was probably something better left to the imagination of the reader, but it's your story to tell and not mine. I'd love to see a sequel to Unfinished Symphony - that was a great story! For a lot of authors, once a story ends, they prefer to move onto something else. Others write endless sequels because they can't let go. Since I tend to write short story collections, I'm always writing sequels, but I always bring my stories to an end. Sometimes a reader suggests something I hadn't thought of and that becomes the basis of a sequel.
  22. I loved how this story progressed, but the last chapter sure seemed rushed. Perhaps there wasn't much more to say about Tyler's education, but it felt like Alan just wanted the story to be over. Further, summarizing the rest of Tyler's life in a single paragraph only heightened the sense that there was a lot left out. I've read quite a few stories where the ending feels rushed and the reader is always left with the feeling that they've been shortchanged. In many ways, I think it's better to end a story sooner and to leave some threads hanging, so long as the ending is satisfying. Alternatively, the entire story can be told as a flashback, which provides a framework for summarizing things in the end.
  23. I've really loved this story since it was first posted seven years ago. It's one of Cole's best short stories. It's particularly apropos today with xenophobia on the rise around the world, and Trump trying to build a wall to keep all those 'depraved' refugees from entering the U.S. and raping our women. I wonder if the Canadians will build a wall to keep the Americans out, should the worst predictions of climate change come true. Demonizing whole populations has always been a favorite tool of the demagogue. Why should America give shelter to a poor Muslim boy from Kyrgestan, and his whole family? Why should we offer refuge because he says he's being prosecuted because of who he is? He and his family should have stayed and fought for their rights. They're probably just economic refugees anyway. I doubt Cole could have foreseen the Trump presidency or the rise of the political right worldwide, but he did such a superb job of putting a human face on a refugee family - one with a persecuted gay kid.
  24. I loved this story, but I wondered, do girls still wait for boys to ask them to a school dance? Perhaps it's different elsewhere, but I was under the impression that here in NYC, it goes both ways now.
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