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Saturday, December 31, 2011

An Opportunity to Shine

This is another in the string of letters about the bull I went through as a theater arts student. The reference to “Blackboard” ia about an online learning environment.

You can never know if I’m in the right here unless I turn around and become a successful writer. Then, how many successful writers have they put into the field?

Mr. (Supervisor of Undergraduate Studies),
I’d like you to see the quality of play that is considered unacceptable for an in-class reading in our department. (The writing teacher) went so far as to delete this play from blackboard so that the other students could not see it or make comments. 

Note that this play is a first draft, and the goal was to represent the events as accurately as possible while maintaining comedy. The secondary goal was to provide adequate opportunities for the student body. You’ll note that there are opportunities for light, sound, choreography, and music composition. I would also like to state that this draft was turned in during the third week of the fall semester giving ample time to have it polished and ready for the end of spring.

In short, I gave (the university) an opportunity to shine only to have it thrown away like filth without justification or hesitation. I took the comments you made in 200 about the selfishness of my generation to heart wrote what I thought would better the school and the student body and for my labors received a set of insults that wounded me more deeply than if your play writing teacher spat in my face.

Richard Leland Neal


Friday, December 30, 2011

I Gave You Fat for Christmas

25th December 2011
Dear Cassi,

Well, I guess for the expanse of the western world it’s still Christmas day a time that brings joy and love so for folks and leaves others out it the cold. If there were only so much joy in the world this would make a peck more sense to me, given that the joyful spend their time soaking up the happy like sponges.
I spent the day baking personally. Corn bread muffins were my holiday gift to those folks on my block this year, and I made them in what variety I could. The blueberry and the cranberry were traditional picks for the time of year. I made a few with ginger which give them a nice golden color and a good amount with cinnamon with makes them looks dull, but they taste good.
The folks on my block gave back some. I found the normal array of fresh Mexican food, chocolate, candy, and cookies. One of the houses on my gift list always gives my brother a five dollar bill when he comes by with gifts. That makes me wonder, but I pay it little mined as baking is what I like about this practice.
You have to wonder why we as a people tend to give out unhealthy food for holidays. In some cases people brag about how bad it is for them and then give it out to their friends as if heart disease was the greatest gift to human kind.
I imagine no one would be thrilled to have salad for Christmas, but in today’s world that would be the better gift. I grant that I gave every one of these folks something I made with my own hands and in return normally got nothing, secondly got store bought, and in the rarest case got handmade.
Still, it stands to reason that I’m not doing any of these folks a favor with handing them something loaded with sugar and starch. I do this because of tradition but is there a better way?

Stay safe, Cassi,

Richard Leland Neal 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Washer of the Future

11th December 2011
Dear Cassi,

My new washer and dryer have a nasty habit of beeping like robots. I have never before had so much cause to say “it’s the newfangled kind with all the bells and whistles.”
Come to think of it I have never before thought of what newfangled means. Apparently, the word comes from fangelen, coming from middle English, and meaning ‘inclined to take,’ as ‘I’m fangelen for a cola with my lunch.’ When the saying came about to fangle was something you started or recently procured. Like, “my new fangle is fencing” or “Bob has a new fangle, he collects hats.”
Now ‘fangle’ means novelty, whim, or ornament, and it generally holds derogatory tone. Words tend to change over time but fangle is no longer accepted by my spellchecker. Fangled and newfangled are still in there but the root word is not.
In any case, I found the new washer and dryer to be rather fangled with lights and chimes that scare the dog out of the garage. They say that these new machines are much better for the environment, but all those lights just look like a bad idea. I mean, next they will be getting ring tones for washers and dryers so you can dance when your clothes are clean.
Another bit I would rather not have is the locking washer door. It locks when the washer is on so children stay out of the things I think, but what if it gets stuck or the power goes out? Then you would have to break the machine open to get your things out again.  
The only real tradition is change, but the trend to make things more computerized, flashy, or just plain complicated are changes I can live without.

The future is like the past only newer,

Richard Leland Neal

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Valve Disaster the Second

Reading back over this letter I feel it has to be a bit rushed.

Look, I’m starting a new job, getting my home in order, starting grad school, and then my washer brakes down! Cut me some slack will you? This has been one of the longest years of my life.

10th December 2011
Dear Cassi,
As I said before my neighbor called me just as I was to get into the shower to help me with my washer and dryer. I put my shirt back on and ran outside where he was standing in my driveway.
He was talking into his phone looking at the street. “Turn around” I said into my phone and he finally realized I was standing there behind him. I had Twenty minutes to get out of the house but he couldn’t come back in the morning after I got out of work. I got the dog out of the garage and jumped in the shower as he carted off my old washer and dryer.
I washed up to the tune of my dog crying to be let back in and jumped out of the shower to find him sweeping up after the old dryer. I told him I was going to mop there when I got home in the morning and closed everything up, let the dog back in, and got to work.
I came home and mopped up. My neighbor came home just after the delivery company called me and said they would be at my place in half an hour. It was a race to get things done at that point. The biggest goof was that one of my valves was miss-shelved, so I got the wrong one. It turned backwards even though it looked just the same. We could still use it, no big thing, just figure if I wanted to deal with getting another one.
It took us another hour or so to get the washer and dryer in, and they are running a cycle just to get cleaned up. It was a full day, but for the rest of the weekend I’ll be doing laundry.

Stay safe, Cassi,

Richard Leland Neal

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Forgotten Character

I remember writing this poem back in high school or perhaps back even further. It references, ‘Claw’, a character from my first novel idea.

In psychology the loss of the hand in dreams is symbolic for the inability to change ones state of being, the feeling of helplessness, or the loss of hope. Having written a character with missing hands replaced by mettle claws was very telling of my mental state.
9th May 1995


by  R.L. Neal

It’s like a cold prison in a world of light

Like a burning breath in a frozen night

All I want is to be free

From the faults in my personality

In a world of my design

Everything will have its time

And when attacked it seldom flaws

But reeks revenge with fiery claws

But when imbrased in friendship flight

Will laugh and dance throughout the night

Monday, December 26, 2011

Valve Stem Disaster

9th December 2011
Dear Cassi, 
It’s been a hard day. I finally got the call on Friday that my new washer and dryer would be in, and I decided to mop under the old ones. I’ve had issues with things growing in the detritus of my home so getting it into the garbage has been a major push for me over the last few months.
I pulled the washer and dryer away from the wall and tried to close the shutoff calves on the washer when one of the valves broke. The handle came off in my handed leaving the exposed stem in the wall.
I looked into the pit of old chrome and there around the bolt was a star of brass which was the end of the stem. This was bad. I had dealt with this kind of bad before, but it was bad that was never easy do deal with.
I snapped a picture of the stem with my cell and ran out to the hardware store to get a replacement. When I got there I looked at the new brass and had no idea which one would work so I took out my phone, and the images hadn’t saved.
I grown and came back home realizing that there was no two ways about it, I had to have the old valve with me when I got the new one. Then came the fun part, the valve was not only stuck but plastered over and too deep to get a wrench around.
I pounded the wall open then found a box wrench that fit and finally got the dang thing out. I ran out and got two new valves in the holiday traffic, came home, and got the water on in time to shower for work.
Just as I’m getting ready for work my neighbor calls to tell me he can help. It’s been a long day.

Plumbing sucks,

Richard Leland Neal

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Comment on Our Prison and Law

8th December 2011
Dear Cassi,
The other day one of the supervisors came down and shot the breeze with me and we got on the topic of prison time. It just so happens that there is a crippled man in our area known for assault with a knife. He was last sentenced to three years, but was let out in three days.
It was George Remero who wrote “when there is no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth.” Well when the prisons are full dangerous folk will walk the streets.
Here in the state of California we have “the three strikes and you’re out” law. Yes, like many states in the union, we pattern our laws after baseball. Due to this law people have gone to jail for twenty five years for stealing a hand full of cookies. No joke, a hand full of cookies and twenty five years.
In the grand scheme of things it cost the state more for every hour that man would be in prison than the whole of his theft is worth. I do believe it is the goal of our system of justice to let the punishment fit the crime. I think in that regard we have failed.
Then the question must be asked if we call the prison system the Department of Corrections then should not a person be corrected by their third felony? Have we not failed this unfortunate folk who it has become our responsibility to correct? Perhaps we punish the taxpayers who flip the bill for their imprisonment.
I know not what would be the best way to correct the damaged minds that fall into the traps of concrete and bars, but I do know that we can do better.

Stay safe, Cassi,

Richard Leland Neal

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Elmer’s Time Machine

7th December 2011
Dear Cassi,
Today as I was sifting through the piles of now dirty clothes waiting for my new washer to come I recalled the old black coat I used the first time I preformed in a play. That’s how memories work in my head mind you. It must have been all the black shirts and pants.
I believe the coat in question originally belonged to my brother and was purchased for him when he was twelve. It fit big on my eight year old frame at the time. I was playing Alfred Nobel the man who invented dynamite and started the Nobel Peace Prize.
The coat probably was nothing like the ones he wore save for the color. Not to say that they gave me much of Noble’s appearance. From what I can see he had a thick black beard.
The play was called “Elmer’s Time Machine” and it was about a little boy who went through time running into great people. I think I had two lines, but it still brings a smile to my face.
We had some thing with baking soda that was supposed to be an explosion because Elmer had found the exact moment Nobel had first gotten an explosion out of his experiment. I only figured that out some years later because the explosion was so pathetic. Then it was a crowd of parents watching their children an easy audience.
When all is said and done there were some good moments back then. I wouldn’t go back to that time in my life for anything, but it wasn’t all bad.

Stay safe, Cassi,

Richard Leland Neal

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Jew with a Charismas Tree

6th December 2011
Dear Cassi,
One of the more quirky things I recall about the holidays is that before she passed away my mother insisted on having a real Christmas tree. This was a point of note only because my mother was a practicing Reform Jew.
To be honest, my mother was never very religious but was a stubborn sort who held to her belief as a protest to the world around her. We celebrated Christian holidays as did anyone else but kept also the days of the Hebrew calendar. 
The tree was a large business for us with wood ornaments and lights. Under it we put our Chanukah gifts and opened one a day. Trimming the tree was something family did together and anything like that was something my mother loved. To be honest with you we had Chinese New Year ever now and again and it was loads of fun.
The real tree was a major point of conversation for my father who complained about it with my mother sixteen years in the ground. Given that they had not been married twenty three years at the time makes me think that the old man was one to hold a grudge.
That would be the nature of my family for you, even the good things turn bitter. The old man wants to pretend nothing is wrong, but no one asks why I’m not there during the holidays.

Stay safe, Cassi,

Richard Leland Neal

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Pen Friend

I do believe that “Pen Pall” was changed to “Pen Friend” at some point for legal reasons. It is impossible for me to remember if I ever sent letters to this person for real or if I simply wrote them.                                

I think the most telling statement in this letter is that I had to except verbal abuse to get help with my work. A family should be supportive but mine never did lend me so rare an article.

13th April 1995
Dear Lydia,
Do you mind if I call you Lydia? My name is Richard Leland Neal, you’re so called pen friend, but I haven't been too friendly, have I? I have been kind of busy in this or that, but I will send you letters. This is my second letter but the 1st was not up to my standards.
The delay on this letter will be lengthened by the process of correcting it, which will probably involve my English teacher depending on his will, or my ever useless sister who will simply scream at me about my mistakes. I would prefer my English teacher.   He will do a better job but he has better things to do then correct my private letters. I have poor spelling and punctuation skills you see, and it is an awful chore.
I am at this moment sitting in front of the (WHITE MONSTER) my computer. It is the best friend I ever had despite the trouble it gives me. That's life in California.
Moving on would you be so kind as to tell me about yourself, it  will help me to send longer letters to you especially if you out do me in volume. I have never been much for writing, but I have confidence that will change.

Leland Neal

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Nightmare Story

I wrote this when I was greenly fifteen and the darkness of its nature tells of my own mental state. It can be considered reasonably coherent if disjointed and out of tense.

The whole thing is supposed to be a troubled dream of both the past and future for the character, but it came out mostly past.

Trying to write at the time was like drowning, I couldn’t keep a clear view of events. I believe I edited the first eight percent of it or so before forgetting about the rest for sixteen years, but this comes to you almost exactly as I wrote it back then.

Nick Strike was a nom de plume I had worked out for myself, because I thought it was cool. As I have said before, I wasn’t that bright.

28th December 1994

A Silk Cloth Soaked In Hate
by Nick Strike

Above the earthly skies a battle wages. In a flash of flames half of an alien craft crashes towards earth, the moon turned red and the light of stars broke into colors of a grim rainbow. The explosion is heard planet wide. In its center a distorted onceman's metal mask is shattered and the face beyond is of metal and it to falls to the ground. Behind it mounds of scar tissue are seen. 
An 18 year old boy sits up in bed the night-mare he has seen left him sweaty and petrified. As his mind cleared he renumbered the death of his family just hours ago. A race of fly like creatures had attacked his little town and they had him to.... 
He goes into a transient state and remembers the time just hours ago, where his family was slaughtered. He remembers the faint typing of his computer. The sound of information being stored on a disk is music to his ears as he smiles in triumph. He pulls the disk from its slot and puts it in an iron box, obviously fire proof. He walked across the concrete floor, carrying the box as if it were pure gold. He lifts a crow bar that sat beside him, setting down the box. He quickly went to work lifting an enormous slab of concrete and setting it to the side. He lifted the lid of a trunk which was in a separate room beneath the concrete floor. He closes the lid of the trunk, locking it tightly, and then sliding the concrete over. 
As if a miraculous recovery from a horrible disease he leaped up. Seconds before he touches the ground, he is caught by an explosion and barred into the far wall. Despite the force set out upon his body, he stands up.  Flames dance about him as two hideous creatures with four arms and an extremely large, long nose hurl themselves from the flames toward him. He dodges the first and meets the second with his fist. It falls to the ground, screaming in agony. He stops for a second, examining his hand and marveling at his extreme power. The skin on his hand is torn by the collision of his hand against the alien rib cage. The next attacks him from behind but he quickly pulls the alien over his head as if it were a rag doll. And before he knew what he was doing, the alien body is crushed into the concrete.
He looked at the alien bodies. They were crumbled down, dead. Suddenly, he remembered his family, and he streaked toward the door on one of the walls.  He hit the door before he could stop himself, and tore through the heavy wood as if it were paper. Suddenly he was surrounded by the creatures.
Instantly he jumped to combat, but he was overwhelmed. His last waking moments are of his family burning too death. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Mom’s Cooking

2nd December 2011
Dear Cassi, 
When I look back at the somber tones of my life I do recall some of the better points. My mother’s cookies for one and how she would make batches for my classes at school.

We would make pumpkin cookies every year for Halloween and decorate them like jack-o’-lanterns. We would get candy coated chocolates for eyes and noses, use frosting for hair, and make them into our favorite cartoon characters.  

Valentines’ day, Christmas, and Saint Patrick’s Day were all days that we gave the cookie treatment. Sharing things was something my mother did probably because she lived in such scarcity when she was young.  

In more modern times I hold to this tradition, but my mother was not always a good cook. I do recall she made the worst meatloaf I had ever tasted at the time. It would only be beaten some twenty years later by my sister’s.  

My mother would bake this soggy mass of unmixed parts, and scream that Abraham Lincoln ate it once a week for most of his life. Or was it twice? I can’t remember.

When the Cancer took hold and my mother became too frail to cook on her own she looked to us, her children, to help her make our meals. It’s funny, I have no recollection of my mother making me lunch for school. Buying it for me and having me take it, yes, but she taught me to make my own before I ever set foot in a public class room. My mother had her problems, but she was only human, and so do we all.

Stay safe, Cassi,

Richard Leland Neal

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Death of Gatsby

Ah, the spectrum of things we have all done in our lives thanks to our under par education. This is a song I wrote in my freshman year of high school. The date on the file was the 19th of May in 1995. How true that is I can only speculate, it’s probably not that far off.

I had a group project based on the novel “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald and we each had to write a song. I do recall my English teacher commenting on how much he liked the work. Well, you can’t get the full version by reading it, but tell me what you think.

The death of Gatsby

you wanted it all,
but you’re too late
you wanted it all,
your life’s carved in slate   
you wanted it all
so you had to fall
and that’s not great
now the water runs red
in your estate  
a bullet sealed your-ur fate
you had it all you wanted more
you had it all and you know the score

you wanted more
and you took it
but it wasn't enough
you had it all
and you let it rot
you took from them
and they tore you apart
and now it’s over

you had it all you wanted more
you had it all and you know the score

you wanted it all
so you had to fall
and that's not great
now the water runs red
in your estate
a bullet sealed your-ur fate

you had it all you wanted more
you had it all and you know the score

you had it all
and you let it rot
you took from them
and they tore you apart
and now it’s over

you had it all you wanted more
you had it all and you know the score

you wanted it all
so you had to fall
and that's not great
now the water runs red
on your estate
a bullet sealed your-ur fate

you had it all and you let it rot
you took from them
and they tore you apart
and now it’s over
ooooh now it’s over 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Interview with a Game Geek

I sent this out hoping to complete a class project, but I never got a response or finished the class. I was hoping to be impressive, but I must have been repulsive.
What can you do with a no reply situation? Just move on I suppose.
25th February, 2009
Dear Blizzard,
I have a college project that requires me to interview a sound designer, and my first thought was someone from the Blizzard team. I have to say, no other game company has given me more hours of enjoyment then Blizzard, and clearly a lot of audio production goes into making one of your games. Thinking about it, you expect someone to listen to your sounds over and over again, because that’s what playing a game is all about, and you use sounds to make events in the game like the dropping of a gem in Diablo II.
I'm a double major, Theater Arts and Psychology, and my primary interest is the impact of sound on the mind. For example, Diablo II employs superliminal and liminal sounds in game design depending on the importance of the events that they depict. I'd also speculate that the vocals in your games have been processed to increase their fidelity and give them a more crisp sound.
These are all things I'd like to ask your sound designers about if you will give me the chance. I know that everyone working for Blizzard has a lot to do and that your time is very valuable so I understand that my request is untimely. Let me say that my report will be given to my sound design class and will provide valuable information and insight to both student and teacher helping to shape the education of future sound designers like myself.

En Taro Tassadar,

Richard Leland Neal

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Talk About Food

I don’t know what was running through my head when I wrote this, but I was in a dark place.
27th October, 2007  

Dear (Soldier on deployment in Iraq),

As I had dinner this evening you and (your wife) popped into my head. (My brother) is not good company when it comes to dinner conversation. He starves himself all day then shoves food in his mouth until he is about to burst. 

I had venison with green onion and red jalapeno. Squash with dill then the starch was peas and rice with green jalapeno smothered in cream of golden mushroom soup. We had enough for three, I can tell you, even if (my brother) eats enough for two. The extra stake is kind of what did it to me, you know, gave me the blues.

We had Alaskan cod not too long ago that (the person who caught it) declared inedible because of freezer burn. I had to cut half of it away, but I still got a good meal out of it. Cod is a big fish. If I had made anything else with it I would have been able to feed four easily, and at a whopping four bucks for beer to soak the fish in that the most expansive meal I’ve cooked in some time. I haven’t had to buy meat for months.

Funny thing is that I feel home sick for a home that I’m still at. I don’t know, foo, I want back the home I had before my father put it all to ruin. I keep thinking “two years, two years,” but it’s just not that simple.

I hope you are doing well,

Richard Leland Neal

Friday, December 16, 2011

Why Didn’t I Listen To Me

If there is one thing I know about myself it is that I don’t give up easily. I fought with my father until it became clear it wasn’t worth having him in my life, I was friends with this person until he became miserable to be around, and finally I was a theatre student until my teachers honestly wouldn’t tell me how to look for work.

If only I had listened to myself back in 2007 and left the theater major I could have had three college degrees by now.

7th October 2007
Dear (soldier deployed in Iraq),

It’s been some time and I haven’t written because school has been such a pain in my ass. The first thing that happened was that I was told I couldn’t work on any of my pre existing scripts in class. The second thing that happened was that everything I turned in was said to be not interesting enough. That includes every play I sent you. 

It really is time I change majors and move on to something more reasonable or at least give up writing entirely. There is one possibility and that is to give one of my full length scripts to the department chair and see if she wants to put it on. I have little confidence in this idea but with no other option I must do so.

I will be handing her “Levi” with “student written play” on the first page. I’d say there is a 50% possibility that I will get her to read it and even less then that that it will be put on. Well, what can I do, old friend, time is short and this 17 unit semester is kicking my ass. Anyway, I’m going to e-mail this, and if I don’t get a response I’ll snail mail it by Friday.

Stay safe out there,


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Graduate On Time

Let me make the point that I intended to get out of college in 2009 and I made it in 2011. The professors had no problem with this as they had no concern for the well being of their students.

The geranial lack of transparency in the modern college setting leads to abuses of the student and the tax payer. I’m not sure what we can do about it but I just know something must be done.

9th August, 2007
Dear (Lighting and Sound Instructor),

This mail was first to you and (other Lighting Instructor), but long story short I need to get into THTR 386 section 17601 this semester or I don’t graduate on time. I’m already in (other Lighting Instructor’s) class. The following is a lengthy explanation of how I’m screwing up my life this semester intended for my advisor who is (other Lighting Instructor), or you. We can’t be sure. I just want to graduate. I’m leaving the rest of the letter, but you may stop reading now if I have convinced you. There is the part about sound that I’m going to have to talk over with (other Lighting Instructor), but again I still just need in your class.   

I’m writing the two of you because I could not add your classes. THTR 279 section 17553 and THTR 386 section 17601. Despite trying to add them on the first day I couldn’t as they were full. As (the Supervisor of Undergraduate Studies) appears to be confused on which of you is my faculty adviser, I’ve already said I have no problem with (other Lighting Instructor), let me say that these sections of these classes are essential for a Spring 09 graduation.

I need sixty units or fifteen degree applicable units per semester for four semesters to graduate in the Spring of 09 with a degree in light and sound. I’m taking a total of seventeen units this semester three of which are not degree applicable. These three units are THTR 364 Playwriting. I take them at the request of both (other Lighting Instructor), and (the Supervisor of Undergraduate Studies).

This leaves me one unit short for the semester and I can make that up. If you allow me to add your two classes I can make my graduation date, and if you don’t there will be no possibility of graduating at that time. 

The only major problem with this graduation semester is that it is Spring 09 that I will take advanced sound. This is presently unavoidable and if you feel that I need to spend more time a (the State College) then I would like to have the maximum number of units completed so that additional semester may be dedicated to minors or productions.

I have to bow to the greater judgment of you two advisors, but I favor an aggressive plan. I most comment that writing as a replacement for sound is not much of an option. I want a degree that is going to make money, as best as a theatre degree can, light and sound appear to be a good combination.

I must confess I’m fighting for Spring 09 more because I want to end my career as a security guard, but the point is to move on to something better not something else.

Please let me in your classes,

Richard Leland Neal

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

You Don’t Get it

I don’t recall what I was responding to with this letter, but it was the practice of the addressee to try to get me into situations that I found stressful. He tried his best to sabotage my life, and then he got vengeful when I finely walked away from him.

Human decency is so rarely human that I must consider it a goal to aspire to rather than a fact of our nature.

8th August, 2007  

Now look, (Soldier on deployment in Iraq),

 Once again you just don’t get it. I could get another job, yes, but not a better one. I’ve now been hired by twice as many security companies then I’ve worked for and the biggest obstacle on my way to getting another job has been school. Read “The Applicant” I go over my problems.

Getting another job as a security guard is not consistent with getting out of college and getting into what I want to do with my life. You said I was wrong in what I did with (my first job), but if I hadn’t done it I would still be at (that job) making twelve thousand dollars a year. I’ve made up my losses, and now I can pay for school.

This is much like the time that I gave those two hundred dollars back to my dad. That was me making it totally clear that I was done with his bullshit, and you couldn’t understand. Now, two hundred dollars is pocket change. When you said that you were looking at used laptops I said “maybe I should send him my old pile of shit and go by a new one, I can get an Apple for eight hundred”. If I didn’t just plunk down eighteen hundred for school the thing would be in the mail for you right now. As it stands I really should hold off, but you get the point.

I’ve said time and time again that my life is going to suck, and that I need to let it suck, but remember that my experience as a security guard is conducive to my work as a writer much like your army days are for you. I get something out of my every day shit storm, and that’s important. I’m working on a set of one acts involving security and “Welcome to the Gurd Shack” is about my experience at (my current job).

I’m trying to move up, and you’re telling me to move sideways. Frankly, one of the guards who was giving me problems has already quit and two of them are realizing how idiotic they sounded. One of the guards was really upset about what happened, and he is a long standing officer.

Not that I’m upset with you over this but the point remains that I’m just telling you what is going on with my life and not complaining. I don’t have anything ells to talk about so I talk about work.

You should probably save all my letters and read them again when you’re on leave so you can get my meaning better, but then it’s all not that important.

Stay safe out there,

Richard Leland Neal

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Here we have an example of why I should post these in order. They relate to each other in the most interesting way.

One day I should have these all together into one volume that presently would run about three hundred pages all told. Slowly the files in my old letters folder dwindle down, but the road gets harder going as I walk along.

30th July, 2007

Dear (Soldier on deployment in Iraq),

The shit storm of my life never stops thundering I had another nice little incident on Friday:

“Upon arriving on duty on the 27th of July of 2007 at twenty-three hundred hours (11:00 p.m.) I was approached by Officer (Pipes) who stated “I’m getting tired of you running your mouth.” He remarked that I told (the Area Manager) about guards throwing seals around and about a toy monkey. I stated that I reported what I thought was stolen freight, and that I didn’t want to get fired for stealing.  (Officer Pipes) then said “so out of all the guards out here they’re going to single out you. No one was going to see it.” Security Officer (Mango) then said, “no one likes a snitch”. (Pipes) also stated that the seals could be picked up, and I said that had he picked them up I would not have made an issue of it.”

People just don’t get it, you pick up a snake and it bights you, that’s life. They want to blame me because they started this, and they don’t think I should have the right to get them back for demanding to do less work then me.

This excerpt is from a report to the client who will be investigating destruction of property and theft. It’s not a good idea to go pissing people off and then steal something in front of them, but these people thing that they should make me suffer with immunity. 

Now here’s a new one, (the Supervisor) told (one of the guards) that he thinks I’m going to go to the front gate. I already told (the Area Manager) that the answer was no and they still insist that it’s going to happen. I think the thing to do is simply look for another job. It is clear that things aren’t going to get better for me here. It’s just one more pile of shit I have to deal with. If it didn’t suck I wouldn’t have to drudge.

At least my first children’s book is done with its writing. I still need to look it over one last time and find someone to send it to, but then again I may have that done by Friday. Not having the books on this subject in my hands there is no telling if someone has used this idea before so I’m going to start on the more complicated book next as its more likely a new idea. Can’t say that I can keep it to the right page length, but that’s something I’ll have to hammer out. Children’s books are a big field and I have lots of competition, but then as the pay is low for righting then the publications must be many. I don’t know, it’s possible that I’m overly optimistic, (Can I be optimistic!) but when you got bullets and night you may as well take a shot in the dark.    

I finally came up with a new scene for “A Mind Bending” and it’s one of those that may have very little to do with the rest of the play, but given that is going to end up as another five pages and one more bit to be connected it’s a good thing to have. If I were still working on plays four hours a day like back at my last job then I’d be finished with it by now, but I just got to keep working until it’s done.

The scene is a dream that David, the main character, is having. When he dreams he is in Aurum’s world. He is the cloned tactician Twenty-Seven and he is defending his space station from a boarding party when he orders an air lock closed to prepare for a separation. He is ordered to hold his position regardless of its being a death sentence by an over confident admiral who, like a fool, is standing in the fight. Twenty-Seven gets hit in the arm and curls up shooting the admiral. He then realizes he has played right into enemy hands, but he is of no interest to them.   

The scene is of plot twists foreshadowing the twists to come as the play unfolds. Only problem is that I’m not adding anything to the coherent sections of the play and that makes it harder for me to show it to the class. Well, two weeks to go and I’m still on page twenty five. Work, work, work.

Stay safe out there,

Richard Leland Neal

Monday, December 12, 2011

You Dare Expect Decency

This isn’t a letter it’s a report sent to loss prevention of one of my previous clients. In this situation I had a number of guards who felt they had a right to steal, destroy property, and make the client’s employees suffer.

Because of the nature of this report I have to come up with names for the guards involved to protect the guilty so let me do that for you now.

Officers Mango, Pipes, and Dingbat will be the players in today’s event.

I have no idea where the mentality comes from that people thing they should be able to do as they please at work and never get punished for it, but I can tell you that any of the events listed should have been grounds for termination or transfer.  What it came down to was mismanagement on the part of both my company and client loss prevention.

Problems like this tend to get bigger until they explode and I know that eventually all the guards and management staff mentioned were eventually terminated for related incidents.

Report submitted July 28, 2007

For: (Loss Prevention)

Report submitted at your request regarding misconduct of security officers working at the feeder gate.

Upon arriving on duty on the 27th of July of 2007 at twenty-three hundred hours (11:00 p.m.) I was approached by Officer (Pipes) who stated “I’m getting tired of you running your mouth.” He remarked that I told (the area manager) about guards throwing seals around and about a toy monkey. I stated that I reported what I thought was stolen freight, and that I didn’t want to get fired for stealing.  (Officer Pipes) then said “so out of all the guards out here they’re going to single out you. No one was going to see it.” Security Officer (Mango) then said, “no one likes a snitch”. (Pipes) also stated that the seals could be picked up, and I said that had he picked them up I would not have made an issue of it.

The incident with the monkey had occurred on a Thursday or Friday morning on or after the 12th of July. I’m almost sure that it happened on the 12th or 13th, because I don’t remember having a bandage on my head that morning and I had been injured at the gate the following week. It had been ordered by a supervisor that at two hundred hours (2:00 a.m.) I takeover traffic in the three lanes furthest from the street and the other officers work the one remaining lane, so I had almost no contact with them.

I noted that morning around one-forty-five (1:45 a.m.) a stuffed monkey sitting on the ground in the building next to the door leading to the smoking area. At around five that morning I noted what looked like the same monkey hanging from the ladder on a sixty-inch seal. As soon as the other officers left I called the front gate and spoke to the commanding Officer stating “I don’t know if it is the same monkey just that it looks like the same monkey that was in the building.” I was instructed to cut the monkey down and place it in the guard office. I complied.

The issue with seals has been on going for some time. I have been finding twelve-inch seals sealed to sixty-inch seals so that the two were stuck to the ladders, sixty and twelve inch seals sealed into themselves so that they could not be used, and twelve inch seals sealed together. The two pre-mentioned guards and Officer (Dingbat) have made a game of throwing seals over the ladder and into a box.  As a result we have been finding seals in the bushes by the handful.   

On the night of the 27th after it being stated to me that my “snitching” would be met with ill tidings I noted (Dingbat) holding a twelve-inch seal with cones from cone seals covering it so that it could not be used. I did not see him actually put the cones on the seal, but this is destruction of (client) property.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Bandage Came Off

I am making an effort to get this set of letters out in the order in which they were mailed. Until two years ago 2007 had been the most documented time in my life because of the need to correspond with who I thought was a friend.

I have to admit these letters are painful for me to read now, but I have to read them. It feels to me as if I’m cutting open an infected wound to let the sickness run. The stench of it makes me turn my head, but I feel better once the deed is done.

26th July, 2007

Dear (Soldier on deployment in Iraq),

Well, the bandage came off and the wound has sealed itself. Like I said I’m ugly, but that’s nothing new. Still can’t go to the gym for fear of opening the wound again, but at least it stopped oozing. It’s really very funny to think that the feeling of your own blood running over your skin is less bothersome then the clear ooze to come after, but that’s the truth. I never was in much pain and that might have something to do with my feelings.

On the subject of feelings, there have been many a thing over the past year that you have done to piss me off this business with the e-mail I had honestly thought had become a private joke.  Needless to say I have forgiven you for everything even those few events that still sting. I can tell you that they are not your fault and that you simply can’t understand me on those subjects. I would ask you to remember that your father made promises that he did not keep, but in the end you were little worse off then you started. On the other hand, my father lied and stole then made it clear that he felt neither to be a crime.

In other news work is still the same, and I’m loving almost every minute.  Not having to deal with those ass monkeys is a blessing words will never describe. I feel confident that the chief activity of my working hours will remain reading, and now no one has the power to say anything to me about this activity. After the incident I took two six day weeks, and they all shook in their boots I find that a six day week puts me at a take home of around eight hundred and fifty dollars and that’s enough for me. Granted my tuition this semester came to eighteen hundred dollars and if I want to do any summer course work I’ll be making payments that big about three times a year, but in life we must sacrifice.

The only real problem I’m having is the dirt that gets on my hands getting on my books. This is mostly just annoying, and I probably should pay it no attention. I’ll have gloves for the school year. Keeping my nose stuck in a book keeps me out of trouble, and you know how I get into trouble.   

On trouble, I’m having it with my writing. Can’t get the ball rolling with “A Mind Bending” at all. I got this far buy writing the events I knew I wanted to happen but connecting them is going to be a bitch. If good story writing was easy no one would pay you for your work. 

I also picked up a book for the second time on writing for children and found the answer to my questions on the subject. Picture books or books for very young children are generally twenty-four or thirty-two pages in length. Four pages are used for stuff other then story ending the author with twenty to twenty-eight pages of written text. In other word, I almost have a completed children’s book. I will now look up and order every children’s book on the subject of homonyms and end the book with a definition of the word homonym. I’ve written exactly the book I would have wanted as a child and hence exactly the book I would buy for children.

The end result should be no less than three books “Homonyms for Her and Him,” “A Hand Full of Homonyms,” and “To, Too, and Two, for My Grandson Andrew.”  I intend to hammer on these works until the books I order get in, and I will order them on Saturday. If I encounter no problems I should be sending my books for publication out before the school year begins. I should then be turned down before its end. Pessimism is not the enemy of works but only the firm promise that no matter what the outcome with the new day comes new effort.

I finally got a hold of (our mutual friend), but I still haven’t talked to him. He will be able to help me take my car into the mechanic on the first or there about.  The thirty first is his last day of summer classes or something like that, it’s hard to tell with (our mutual friend), but none the less the issue will be resolves soon.

Life is shit, burn the methane,

Richard Leland Neal

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Shot In the Dark

So this is the second of two letters I wrote Mel Brooks in the hope of getting into one of his films. I posted the first to this blog on the 27th of May, 2011.

Reading it over and correcting the spelling errors I am not surprised he never responded.  Well, no. I’m sure he has better things to do than deal with fan mail.

How crazy was I?
22nd July 2007
Dear Mr. Brooks,

This morning as I worked the employee gate at (a loading dock) I made a not so funny joke about the “brother hood of brown”. One of the workers asked “who are you, John Candy?” as I scanned him with my metal detector.

There’s that name again. It has followed me since the age of eleven when they called me “Uncle Buck”. I don’t see the resemblance but no less than three people have commented on it in the last year. I’m also told that I have a striking resemblance to my maternal grandfather, and I don’t see that either. I never met the old Jew, but I’ve seen him in photographs. 

Well, to the point, I wondered if you might be looking for the next John Candy. I realize that this is a long shot, but let’s look at it another way. I could buy a ticket and win the lottery and still never get to see Mel Brooks in person. If I lost I’d be out a few dollars. If this letter is another gamble I’m out a stamp, an envelope, and a few sheets of paper. To win I’d merely need a letter of reply, and would have been worth my effort, and how could I price the experience. If I didn’t send you a letter I’d regret it for the rest of my life.

I have experience as an actor, but I stopped acting, because my fellow actors had no dedication. It’s a funny thing, Mr. Brooks, you can prepare your lines perfectly, and have your delivery down to second nature. Then it all gets lost, because the other actors just don’t have it down. College theatre is like that for the most part. Too little attention is paid to the future of the student, and professionalism is not a recognized goal. They actually took me aside and explained this to me. Frankly, I feel that, like anything worth doing, a good performance is about hard work and dedication, but enough about my feelings.

Let me try you another way. What do people want? World peace, health care, good burritos, etc. Well, we could help them with the burritos. What do people want from a “Space Balls” movie? Lots of things but you can deliver all of them except for John Candy. That is where I come in, because with modern makeup it would not be difficult to make me look like John, and as an actor I have portrayed many people with different physicality. In my last play I only had one line, but when I commented on that people were surprised to hear it because of my movements on stage. I told a story without speaking. 

Yet, there is one other thing I can give the audience: hope. Sounds silly, I know, but hear me out. Everyone wants to be up there on the big screen and a “who is that guy?” could be great advertising especially if they can’t recognize me and we don’t tell any of my friends and relatives. Most people are no names, and seeing a man come from nowhere into a role like John would play is inspiring.  

They could punch my name into the internet and come up with all kinds of crazy people. There is an ex pro football player and a senator with my name so questions will be asked about me and there are so many Richard Neals in the world that finding me would be like finding the right needle in a sowing shop.

Okay, this is totally hair brained, and even I don’t know why people think I look like John Candy but why not? You got bullets and night you take a shot in the dark. What is there to lose? I’m a walking cliché. I’m a white guy with two first names going to college at twenty-seven who is also a fat security guard. If that isn’t funny then you don’t know how to laugh.

Look I’m putting a picture of me and a picture of John with this letter. Our faces are similar now that I look at them. That is an old photo of me, ten years, but people say I still look that way. Between you and I there just being nice. My chin is more ridiculous now and it has a dancing partner. I can only hope to hear from you.

Always yours,

Richard Leland Neal