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Take This Waltz

Love is hard to do. It's hard to do it right in life. And it's hard to do it right in fiction.
Most fictional love stories fall into one of three piles. The cheerful type, exemplified by rom-coms. The best of this genre is When Harry Met Sally. Then there is the sad kind, e.g. Titanic. Finally, there is the contemplative variety, like Take This Waltz. Since I first saw Waltz years ago, it continues to resonate with me.

Take This Waltz, Sarah Polley's 2011 indie movie starring Michelle Williams, explores romance in all its, sometimes contradictory, complexities. Poignant but not overwrought. Thoughtful but not neurotic. Poetic but not pretentious. Perfectly crafted.

Freelance writer Margot (Michelle Williams) is married to Lou (Seth Rogen). He is a cookbook author and a really swell guy, but seems to be more into his recipes than his lovely wife. She meets Daniel (Luke Kirby), a rickshaw-driving neighbor in their quaint Toronto neighborhood. The film's muggy summer feel…
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Rapture, a sci-fi thriller

My newest novel, Rapture, is out. Giant thanks to my beta readers—you are worth all the bitcoins in the galaxy.

Blurb, retail links, and excerpt are here.  You can win a free paperback at Goodreads.

Goodreads Book Giveaway Rapture by Alex P. Wu Giveaway ends February 06, 2018.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads. Enter Giveaway
I wanted to write something completely different from my first novel, Morocco, Maybe, a travel love story.

My favorite TV show of all time is Battlestar Galactica. Seriously. Nothing compares. The closest contenders are maybe The Newsroom (exciting, smart, and moving) and The Walking Dead (before most of the beloved original group got offed).

Thus I tried to write a story with elements similar to those that made BSG appealing to me: science, action, philosophy, politics, religion, friendship, romance ... and in particular, moral ambiguity. Cram it all in.

It always seems more interesting to challenge conventional no…

Oooh That Feels So Good I Can't Keep My Eyes Open

We usually go to the animal shelter that's within walking distance of our home, but this past Friday we drove to a couple of other shelters: West LA Animal Shelter and NKLA. On Sunday we went back to the same two shelters to look at the same dogs. Again.
Most of the dogs at the two shelters were pit bull mixes, at least 90%. That gave us mixed feelings. We love pit bulls, but it was sad to see so many languishing in the cages.

The yellow dog above is Max. He is 1.5 years old and supposed to be energetic but was quite mellow when we saw him. He would lean against the cage, let Michelle stroke him, and close his eyes. He was either super sleepy or trying to better enjoy the massage. Max has been adopted. Some lucky human got a swell dog.

There were many lovely dogs, but I'd like to plug a few especially nice ones.

The cutest thing about Frances is her wrinkled face. It makes her look so worried. She's 38 pounds and two years old.

And there's Sprout and Murphy. They are …

Stop Making Me Cry

Poignant stories make me cry, especially if they are true.

If you're a fan of public radio, like me, then you might've heard of the show Snap Judgment. It's true stories narrated by the real people behind them. The stories tend to be short, many merely a few minutes long. Recently I heard one that made me sad. The next story made me all teary-eyed. The first one had softened me up, so I had no defenses left. In preparation for this post, I listened to both stories again. I ended up with the same reaction. Damn those storytellers.

Story #1

Thom had a wonderful boss who held an annual karaoke night for the company they both worked for. The boss had a favorite song that left an emotional, lasting impact on Thom in a way he never anticipated.

The song, by the way, is Radiohead's Creep. A great, melancholic song. No surprise why I love it.

Story #2

Derrick had a bad heart (four heart attacks by age 27), but Emma fell in love with him anyway. The result was ... well, you'…

Booze, Gambling, Gangsters, Flappers, and Dogs ... a Roaring Twenties Halloween

Every Halloween brings another annual fundraiser for the Amanda Foundation, our local dog & cat rescue. This was our third year working the main gig but our first time doing the group dog-walk, the pre-event to garner attention for the fundraiser. I even got my official Amanda shirt, which was akin to a superhero uniform. The moment I put it on, I felt empowered, like I had more authority to tell dogs what's what.

Every volunteer was assigned a pup to walk. I got Turner, a friendly and excitable dog. His costume was technically "king." It even came with a crown, which had zero chance of staying on, given how active he was.

At first, this was what happened when a kid saw Turner ...

"Superman!" the kid squeals.
"No no no," I say. "He's king."


Fifteen minutes later ...

"Superman!"the kid squeals.
"Yup," I sigh. "Superman."

Michelle's dog, Chikis, was the opposite of Turner. Chikis was a total la…

The Beauty from Falling Down

I lack athleticism. In particular, I used to fear balls.

When I was tiny, I would cry when my Dad tried to throw a ball to me. Not a hard one, but one of those big red rubber balls that even toddlers could abuse. Unsurprisingly, I turned out to be the worst batter on my little league team. In my sole season, I only hit the baseball once. Inadvertently.

Yet somehow, I grew up to love basketball. Because I worshiped Kareem Abdul-Jabbar of the 80s Lakers, I developed a hook shot. It is neither graceful nor accurate, but serviceable for the average pickup game.

What I lack in athleticism I make up for in appearance. Looking like you know what you're doing is more reassuring to others than actually knowing what you're doing—also true for much of life. Just ask any politician.

This is me running in a Utah national park. See that motion blur of my arms? Pump your arms really fast; it provides the illusion that you're speedy.

Zoom in on my stupid face. Yeah, blow this JPEG pupp…

A Slick Night In Muttley Carlo

For Halloween this year, we volunteered at the annual Amanda Foundation fundraiser. It's the animal rescue that we walk dogs for. We first did it back in 2014, when the theme was zombies. 2015 we missed because of our road trip. The 2016 theme was James Bond ... um, Bone.

I tried to go for the James Bond look in the movie Spectre, where Daniel Craig sports a black turtleneck. Minus his muscles, charm, and good looks, of course.

As before, our job was to staff one of the silent auction tables, which offered items including VIP tickets to the TV show The Voice (plus a signed Miley Cyrus shirt!) and local favorites like the Magic Castle. The business was brisk, and all the items on our table got bids.

To make the evening extra memorable, the sky even rained a bit. Yup. This is Southern California, where earthquakes are more common than rain. If you ever feel a drop on your head, it's more likely to be a package from a pigeon than water. We've been having a drought for so lon…

Retracing the Big Road Trip

Hard to believe, but it's been a year since our cross-country road trip. It feels half that. That's the thing about getting older: the velocity of time accelerates with age. When I was a kid, I would get bored and try to pass time like it was in overabundance. What a fool I was.

Now I don't have enough time to do all the things I want. For example, I used to stubbornly finish a novel even when I didn't enjoy it. Not anymore. Even if people stop writing new books and I devote the rest of my life to reading, I still won't cover all the books I want to read. That I used to waste time, the most nonrenewable asset of all, seems horrendous. It's like burning a $100 bill to light a cigarette, something I saw on the TV show The Wire.

After a year to reflect on all the locales we saw on our road trips, I'd say the Pacific Northwest remains my favorite. Portland, in particular.

To be sure, there are many other fine places I still remember fondly. Canada is wonderful…