Thursday, May 31, 2007

Final Replay

If it's true that scenes from your life "flash before your eyes" while dying, I would, assuming I could choose, select certain moments from last night's Manu Chao concert. That would be a way to go. It was music as fire.

it ain't over til something

til it's over?

til the fat lady sings?

til you say so?

you think it's the end, but it's just the beginning.

(after a period of "baking", and based on some good feedback, 'golden-the-movie' advances farther in the latest revision, but the reviewer also wanted me to lose certain main characters who are critical to the ending of the story. this brings up an interesting problem - if you remove a certain character from a story, what is the impact? how do you rewrite the story without them? or do you even need to? in this case, it ain't gonna happen)

(the reviewer also wishes i had developed the story based on "succeeding despite society's hindrances" (her words) - well, that's the nice All-American Success Story angle, but we all know, or we should, that in reality, "hindrances" do matter, and people do not always succeed, and for every 'success' there are a lot of non-successes (to be kind), and also, the reader does not always get the story that he or she may want. further, being denied such basic rights as an education, a chance at a decent job, decent housing and health care, are not mere "hindrances", and when they are enforced by law they are much much harder to overcome. There aren't too many Horatio Algers in the long history of colonialism and slavery)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Atheist Shopping Network

all things atheist all the time!

landing_atheists.jpg



that's really the name of this file from date.com's atheist singles site

who knew they were all so rich and caucasian and middle-aged?

and Atheist Hussy was wondering where all the atheist women are!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Obscurity and Minutiae

Many years ago a colleague glanced around my office for a few moments and then noted, "I see you're into obscurity and minutiae"

Oh, the ability to size things up!

I don't believe I ever even knew her name.

Loaded Question

My sister-in-law calls up and asks, I was just curious, but when Johnny was a toddler, did he ever happen to bite anyone?

Not that her two-year old could have done such a thing - not my sweet little Chris!

Not The News - Skydiver Edition

Skydiver dies when parachute fails to open

This is soooo not news

Diversity and Missing Bees

One of the interesting ideas in this discussion of honeybee colony collapse is that diversity is essential for its own sake. As agriculture moves more and more to single-crop specialities (e.g. corn for ethanol), the less diversity of plants are planted and grown, the more fragile the ecosystem becomes - there are many types of pollinating insects and historically they've fed on many types of pollen-producing plants. Variety (now generally called "diversity") is both the product and source of our prolific version of life here on Earth.

The concept can be usefully extended beyond the realm of agriculture. There is consolidation in all areas of business, media, and culture. The result is probably predictable - the structures underlying our economies and politics become more fragile, more susceptible to both manipulation and collapse. A few years ago, a couple of energy-trading companies (not even energy-producers) brought California down in the mid-summer with a wave of rolling power blackouts that had no other cause than greed and centralization of market controls. It seems counter-intuitive that the greater the population, the more vulnerable it is to the actions of a few, and yet, to me at least, this has also been the central lesson of the events of 9/11. A handful of zealots radically changed the politics and culture of a foreign nation for at least a generation.

The Truth by Cindy Sheehan

Casey died for a country which cares more about who will be the next American Idol than how many people will be killed in the next few months while Democrats and Republicans play politics with human lives

What is Life?

More and more planets found in other galaxies and "the search is on" for planets containing "life".

"Apparently, our solar system is structurally common with others elsewhere in the galaxy

Who could have guessed that a star with planets orbiting around it was not unique among the billion billion stars in the galaxy?

And as Wright put it: "They're starting to look more and more like real solar systems -- like our own."

of course, if they don't look like ours, they wouldn't be "real". You know this principle. You go to the mall and if no one else is wearing your outfit, then obviously there are no people there.

Whether the giant exoplanets fly in orbit close-in or far-out from their stars, both Marcy and Wright agree that smaller rocky planets like Earth and Mars could well be orbiting there, too -- some at "habitable distances" from their suns, where temperatures are benign and liquid water and the properties necessary for life could exist.

"The properties necessary for life" means life exactly as we know it on this one of the planets around a billion billion stars in just this one galaxy.

What constantly astounds me about this science is at once its brilliance (we can detect these things way the heck out there) and its blindness. We can only see a narrow spectrum of light (Dawkins compares our visual ability to the slit in an enormous burkha) and yet we go around talking about "life" as if we are the ones who get to define it, who think we know what it is, who think we can recognize it when we see it.

Dear Scientists, life is everywhere. Everywhere. It's what the universe is and what the universe does and if you don't happen to see some form of life wearing your outfit, well, just go look in the mirror if that will make you happy, and train a new generation of scientists to use their freaking imagination!


Saturday, May 26, 2007

Helpful Aliens

What if (I'm just saying) we were invaded by Carpet Cleaning Aliens from Outer Space.

"We have come to clean your carpets!"

Reminder Bird

How to be an inventor - it's easy - just look around at everything that is, figure out what isn't, and invent it.

For example, introducing The Reminder Bird. This helpful toybot sits perched on your shoulder as you space out in the grocery store, wandering up and down the aisles forgetting what the hell it was you came to buy. Reminder Bird will remind you, every so often, in a voice that's hard to ignore - DON'T FORGET THE CHEESE (reminder items and intervals are fully programmable)

Inventions do not have to be useful. They do not have to be practical. They do not have to be fun. They merely have to be something that already isn't.

Petraeus on Kos

The General makes an appearance on the number one liberal bog

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Angry Atheist

It seems that Angry Atheists are hot commodities these days. Well, dang. I've been an angry atheist for more than 40 years so I'm kind of feeling like I should be cashing in too! That's why I'm coming out with my new line of books and audio tapes called 'The Angry Atheist' (tm). The series will include such fascinating gems as:

  • The Angry Atheist's Down Home Cookin'
  • Java Programming for Angry Atheists
  • The Angry Atheist's Guide to Nothin' Out There
  • Make A Fortune in Real Estate By Being an Angry Atheist
  • Don't Go To Hell! The Angry Atheist's Alternative Afterlifes (AAAA)
  • Chicks Dig Godless Dudes (say that 10 times fast)


Coming soon to a blog near you.

Wait! It's already here!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Stayin' Alive with Roquefort

The famous French actor communicates his deepest and truest feelings like never before:

Blank Check

So the Democrats cave and give Bush yet another blank check for the war, just so they don't look like they're not "supporting the troops" (how to support troops - pay 'em shit and send 'em off to die), but whose job is it anyway? We the American people are not doing a damn thing to stop this war, so why should we expect our elected representatives to do what we are not willing or able to do?

How to Maximize Your Potential

Inspired by a clueless comment left on "What to do about your Soulmate", Beauregaard and Scooter return to tell you "How to Maximize Your Potential"

Monday, May 21, 2007

New Adventures in Rehab

A testosterone-fuuled cycling champ's manager threatened to expose a secret about another cycling champ's childhood and now that manager is "entering rehab". They don't say what kind, though. I didn't know there was a special "asshole rehab". Must get a lot of business these days.

in and of this world

in response to a thought from the always thought-provoking "pint-sized"

why should anything be more than it is? "if enough is not enough, nothing will ever be enough" (chuang-tsu)

the rose that bloomed last year is indelible in my mind, but my mind will fade and fall exactly as that rose did. the transitory nature of existence is but one of the elements that make all life glorious.

when someone smiles a special smile ... how special would it be if they smiled all the time at everyone?

infinity, eternity, permanence - these ideas belong to the empty vacuum of space. the world turns and changes all the time. we are creatures of this world and inherit its characteristics. in this way we are in the world and of the world. as long as there is the world and the things of the world, we are all in this together.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Pursuit of Happyness

As usual, we see a movie only a year after it comes out. Will Smith was clearly doing in this movie what I was thinking about when writing my screenplay - if you don't like the images you see, go out and make the images you want to see. All in all I felt it was very well done. A bit too much running, perhaps, but very moving, well told.

Also interesting to me is that the movie is set at a time and place where I lived and worked (S.F. 1981, even the same neighborhoods) and I was even poorer than he was. I was working retail and making around $4 an hour, taking home around $500 a month and paying $325 in rent, leaving very little for anything else. I had no car, no furniture to speak of, no luxury items. Fortunately I did not have a child at the time.

I did have a problem where his "happyness" is directly corrolated to making a lot of money. Easy to understand that, but not the greatest message to send. You can make a modest income and still have a place to live and make a decent life for you and your family. You don't have to be rich.

When I reached that bottom point, where I could no longer afford to live doing the kind of work I was doing, I ended up going back to college, with help from my family and friends. It was interesting that in the movie the man has no support network at all. I wondered if that was a dramatic variation from the real-life story it was based on. It seems that the qualities that make a good salesman are the same that makes friends with people - the salesmen I've known tend to be gregarious and friendly types - but maybe he was just not that kind of salesman.

In all, I appreciated that the film was about one individual man, who he actually was, and not some typical type.

The Very Latest in Oops

We are watching This Week and one of the adults in the room mentions that Senator Mitch McConnell looks like a vagina. From the other room, the small child pipes up, "who does?", and comes running into the room to see, and when he sees him, he says, "oh yeah, he does"

What Beams Up

Must Beam Down. Scotty's ashes have been found. There may not be life after death but there can still be adventures.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Making the Best of a Bad Situation

Or, in this case, a bad haircut. Never again, I hope, will I resemble General David Petraeus. But, while it is the case today, might as well make a stupid video!!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Missighting

Also at Buck's Restaurant last night, Johnny and I sat next to a large group, headed by a middle-aged couple, and consisting of a dozen or so ten-to-twelve year olds. It seems it took awhile for their food to arrive, and they had to get somewhere quickly, so they barely got a few bites in before they started packing it all in to-go containers. When they were leaving, I noticed that the man was not middle-aged at all, but more like in his thirties. I could have sworn on a stack of Bibles that he was twenty years older when we arrived than when he left. Several theories:

  1. He was replaced in sito at some point by an entirely different person
  2. He went to the bathroom, and someone else came back
  3. He was literally transformed as he sat there - the same man, but regressed in age
  4. I originally mis-saw him. Since the woman was middle-aged, I projected her age onto his face
  5. The entire universe shifted and was put back, but they messed up with this one guy
  6. I had too many beers
  7. But I don't like beer and never drink it
  8. None of this ever happened. You will forget you even read about it

Stumped

Overheard at restaurant last night: "I found it quite interesting to leverage location across the enterprise".

are we speaking English yet?

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Free Will - Creature Feature

Unexpected article about how fruit flies exhibit "free will" So, I guess, if they can do it, maybe we can too?

"Free will is essentially an oxymoron — we would not consider it 'will' if it were completely random and we would not consider it 'free' if it were entirely determined," Brembs said.

Tomorrow's study will indicate that Oxen are indeed Morons!

Not The News - Creature Feature

Shark Bites Woman

Why is this news?

Bee Stings Boy?
Mosquito Bites Lady?

In the Undersea editions we might see:
Human Catches Fish

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Whimpy

I think it was Whimpy in Popeye who used to say, "I'll gladly pay you tuesday for a hamburger today", or some such thing. Reminded by a paragraph on Hillary today:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton voted Wednesday to advance legislation cutting off money for the Iraq war, then refused to pledge to support the measure if it came to a vote, then said she would.

I'll gladly vote to end the war this morning, but maybe not this afternoon, and I certainly don't know about tomorrow.

Trentino-alto Adige

Someone from that area in Northern Italy googled my Gian Carlo Spallanzani 'Alchemy for Dummies' video. I wonder if that's their name, or they know someone with that name. Actually, I stole the name from Stanislaw Lem's book "A Perfect Vacuum" ( a collection of reviews of non-existent books), and promptly mis-spelled it on my videos as Spallanzini. Oh well. Spallanzani in that book was the author of a complete modern rewrite of Dostoevsky's 'The Idiot'. Nowadays, that's more inevitable than laughable - witness the recent BBC Robin Hood series, where Robin and his Merry Men resemble nothing more than a contemporary Emo band. (The show makes me cringe but I'm a sucker for all things Robin Hood and his "enhanced wealth-reallocation techniques")

Enhanced Techniques

Mitt Romney approves of tolirture as long as you call it "enhanced interrogation techniques". He opposes indiscriminate bombing of civilians, unless you call it "enhanced obliteration techniques". He also opposes rape, unless it is referred to as an "enhanced penetration technique". Cold-blooded murder? No way, it's an "enhanced mortification technique". I guess we can wrap up the 2008 Orwell Awards already.

Romney's the guy who said he "couldn't imagine anything worse" than polygamy, so we know he's got a limited imagination.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Now More Than Ever

Even on my worst days, I was always thankful not to be Jerry Falwell. Once again, and especially today, thanks a lot, God. I owe you one.

Shrinking Violent

Escorted out the courthouse doors by his bulging mom or older sister,
the Shrinking Violent feels the rage rise with the wind. His head's
still itching where they shaved it, and his neck displays the purple
bruises where they held him down. Not for nothing this revenge.

His mom or older sister barely squeezes in her pants, decorated on the
back with the puzzling slogan Apple Bottom. He scans the street to see
who might be witnessing his leave. She puts an arm around his neck. He
shrugs it off. He may be only twelve but he ain't no fuckin' kid.

He caught my eye and made a note of it. That one looked at me. I know he
was not ashamed. Just bad luck. When he grows up, tomorrow won't be soon
enough to lose this cow who's leading him now into her sporty Dodge.

Violent hunches in the passenger seat. Now he can't be seen. He has
taken all his senseless acts and wrapped them in a ball of fire. Next
time that fire's gonna burn red hot.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Harry Potter Spoiler

This just in! Soon, everyone will know how the Harry Potter series ends. Almost immediately thereafter, and then for the rest of time, it will not be a surprise to anyone.

Tax List

On the checklist of, things you do not want your taxes to pay for, along with stupid wars, it'd be nice to see an item for "rescuing stupid mountain climbers from Mt. Hood."

This one's like "oldest person in the world dies" - as predictable as the sun rising in the east

Friday, May 11, 2007

Blog Post of the Day

Natalia Antonova on working at Hooter's - well worth a read

For The Stalker in Every Man

A new digital locating device that fits securely on your "loved one"'s butt - announcing our new flagship product, the G. P. Ass!

Not The News - Friday Edition

Apparently, as long as you're old, whatever the hell you do is front page news:

Man, 78, Arrested in Road Rage Case
Man, 90, Gets His First Hole in One

Sometimes it's surprising they don't lead off all stories this way:
Woman, 32C, breastfeeds baby on bus
Man, Balding, goes apeshit at party
Child, gap-toothed, craps on rug
Dog, 105 in dog years, sleeps all day

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Web 22

A website I was interested in recently underwent some changes, and not for the better. I won't name it, since I'm pretty sure they're going to fix it, but, check this out - they have a page called "ADVANTAGES OF MEMBERSHIP" which only contains this sentence:

THIS FULL ARTICLE AND OTHERS LIKE IT ARE AVAILABLE TO PAID MEMBERS

She's Not Gonna Make It, Captain

Poor Scotty - After his ashes were flown into space, they somehow got lost in New Mexico

What beams up, must beam down?

This reminds me of those people who paid to have their ashes scattered over the Sierras but instead the guy just piled up the boxes in his barn. I know it's not funny ... but it just kills me!

management by mixed metaphor

overheard in the office kitchen: there's a pandora's box sitting out there and it's better to cross it sooner than later

Should Be Aware

Rush Limbaugh (playing a song called Barack the Magic Negro, to the tune of Puff the Magic Dragon) said liberals upset about the term should be aware that "magic negro" is a historical cultural term, a reference to benevolent African-Americans portrayed in old films.

To use another historical cultural term, Limbaugh is a f*****g a*****e.

God is Not Great

My wife points out that faith is what gets us all through the day, whether we are believers in a god, or not. Faith when we step off the curb, when we take a seat behind the wheel, when we send our children off to school. Bad things happen in this world, they happen all the time, they happen to others and they happen to us. If we were to livein constant terror we would be like, like, like our cat, Schmoe - a fraidy cat.

Faith is a mask of denial, it's a friendly word to lay on top of this mechanism that protects us from anxiety. It is an integral part of consciousness, which is that process of filtering out the safe from the harmful, the foreground from the background, the immediately essential out of the massive inbox of sensations and perceptions we accrue from moment to moment.

That the Emperor has no clothes is not news, so the new Hitchens book, God is Not Great seems to break no ground, but is part of a steady accumulation of atheist publications representing, I hope, a return to the fray of Enlightenment in this centuries old battle with Fundamentalism. In this era of ascendant Islam and Evangelical Christianity, it seems that civilization is suffering a regression, a counter-revolution, which is really to be expected. But the contemporary atheism does tend to throw the baby out with the bathwater - the underlying causes of religion are more important than any particular religion in itself. Abolishing the major religions overnight would not touch these causes. Didn't we learn that from the Soviet experience?

There's no point in denigrating people for their faith. I would rather see it become depersonalized, losing the anthrocentric monotheism in favor of a more generalized world-spirit. Such religions have existed before and still do in places. The monotheist places humans in the center of the universe, and more and more we are discovering and will discover that this is the ultimate absurdity.

Look into the night sky and you see there are billions of stars. Why stars? Because this is what the universe does. As we look around more and more planets we will find "life" - maybe not life as we know it, but incontestably life will be found to exist all over the universe and we will ask, why life? Because that is also what the universe does. Once we know this and realize this, perhaps we will all strip off the stupid Santa Claus layer of monotheism and accept a basic awe and wonder, and get along with just enough faith to help us get across the street and through our own little lives.

It occurs to me that monotheism is something like believing that there is only one kind of music.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Pushed

The Pushed has to be forced at every step. She will do nothing willingly for herself, or for anyone. She seems immutable but can be changed. How far she will go depends precisely on how hard she is pushed.

In the morning she must be wound up. This can happen with coffee. Coffee will get her to work and maybe she'll go until lunch. If there is not much work for her to do, she can get it done. If there is too much, she will never complete it. She will sit there, empty and staring at the pile.

The Pushed can be made to eat almost anything. If she opens her mouth, she will bite and chew and swallow. To get her to open her mouth, simply wave the item in front of her eyes.

She is at her best from station to station. First one spot, and then the next. She makes a good screening nurse. First she will direct you to the scales. Then she will do the blood pressure thing. Then the temperature taking. She is at her best when saying goodye.

The doctor will see you shortly, she declares, knowing full well it is a lie.

She likes to make people wait. To see them doing nothing, unable to do anything but wait, reminds her of her favorite inactivity.

The Pushed only made it through training because her mother refused to stop pestering her. After a lifetime of raising the Pushed, the mother was not going to stop until she got her daughter out of the house and as far away as possible. The mother promptly retired after that, and moved to somewhere in Florida. The Pushed would like to talk to her mother sometimes, but her calls are neither answered nor returned.

The Pushed does have a social life. Many men ask her out on dates. Once. She seems to be a good listener. She has absolutely nothing to say.

The Pushed has a dream. To go home at the end of the day and watch her shows. She accomplishes this task every night, which makes her a surprisingly content and happy human being.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The Secret

The idea that your thoughts create your reality is one of those tidbits that easily gets taken to extremes, for example, when it is taken literally. Then you have all sorts of explaining to do. For example, just the other day I was thinking how I'd made it through the winter without my usual annual sinus infection. Dang! There go those thoughts unintentionally creating reality again. Not that thought, silly! I wanted the reality that comes from the thought of winning the Super Lotto!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Customer Service

Wally has a problem with Customer Service. Obviously I have got a really bad cold, hence the really bad video ...

Happy Real Estate Market Crash Day!

Easy enough to find e-cards and greeting cards for all of the typical holidays, but what if you have a friend with an obscure hobby horse that calls for a card all on its own? Wouldn't it be nice to have a website that would help you design a custom card for such occasions?

My wife has a colleague who enjoys nothing more than predicting the coming real estate market crash - he's been at it for years. Sooner or later he's bound to be right. Now, whenever I read an article like this one, I want to send him a Happy Real Estate Market Crash Day E-Card ...

Yet another in a long line of non-money making propositions from yours truly, the mad nonventor.

Dawn Debris - The School Play

bad sore throat, heat wave, insomnia, no medicine in the house ... one good thing is, since i couldn't sleep i stayed up past midnight and adapted my Dawn Debris comic book to play format, in the process removing all material questionable for schoolchildren.

Now, whether or not the thing as a whole is suitable, and for what age group, and when and where all the obligatory singing and dance numbers will fit in, that's another matter, but at least I have a script now to pass on to the director to see what he thinks of it.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Pet Peeve of the Day

When you just get over a cold, and then you get another one. dammit.

Qualifications

We can have people running for president who publicly state their disbelief in evolution. Perhaps they haven't heard that the world is round, either. After all, it isn't mentioned in their Bible and that seems to be their only authority for all things.

Of course, when the Bible was written, the people at that time were vastly ignorant about the world they lived in. Nevertheless, we are expected to take their word as the word of God. The problem is, most five-year olds today know more about the world than the wisest men of three thousand years ago. One really should take that into account when deciding whose words to rely on.

Now I just read of someone who has decided never to return to Starbuck's because a coffee cup she received had a quote on it that she construed as being anti-God.

People give credit to religion for giving them meaning in life and expressing their spirituality. That's fine. Just don't let it make you act stupid: for example, in a related story, man fired for being an atheist.

Misapprehension

One of Johnny's friends was over for a visit while their moms were working on some school business. We (me, Johnny and DJ) got all our musical instruments outside and were playing a concert, when DJ's mom mentioned to him that the music was helping them get their work done faster. At this, DJ got very upset, and made us stop, because he didn't want them to get their work done faster. He thought this would make them leave earlier and he wanted to stay and play longer.

Batter Up

Considering adapting my "comic book without illutrations" to an elementary school play ...

(music/dances - various versions of 'Fly Me To The Moon' - from Sinatra to Burning Spear)

cast of characters:
Private Detective Dawn Debris, Idea-Loser Morris Bevelhead, The Marketing Guy, The FedCorTron TV Lady, Dr. Hideo Tarantula, Ruby, Jack, Cousin Larry, Ferdinand Jerome, The Pollster Person, The FCT Thugs, The Cashier and Waitress from Bob's Big Boy, Frankie Johnson, Inspector Slaymaker, Hipster Dawn, Dispatcher and Caller, Chorus of Clients ... (need around 20 to accomodate all the kids in the theater club)

Remove a few references to breasts and sex and there you have it, appropriate for grades 3-5!

Johnnyism of the Day

Dad! This is fun! ... right?

The Great Poll Divide

Ever since the O.J. trial, pollsters seem intent on revealing the differences between black and white public opinion on everything under the sun. Today, it's how blacks and whites view Barry Bonds' pursuite of the home run record differently.

When Henry Aaron was pursuing Babe Ruth's record, whites went crazy against him. Now that Barry is going for Aaron's record, guess what? Whites are going crazy against him too. This time they're using the steroids excuse but ... it's always something in sports, isnit it? And the latest twist is that Bonds, at age 42, is almost leading the league in home runs. Again. Repeat. At age 42 (he'll be 43 in a month or so).

Anyway, the great divide appears once again. I kind of think this is a case of something being true but also being insignificant. Does anyone really care about the racial divide in fan support for Barry Bonds?

What I get from this is: "A black man is doing something? Majority of whites disapprove!"

Friday, May 04, 2007

Veto

President Bush has sent a letter to Nancy Pelosi threatening to veto "any measures that 'allow taxpayer dollars to be used for the destruction of human life'".

aha! so that's why he vetoed the war funding bill.

Further Drawbacks in Literacy

Now that the boy is learning to read, he wants to read everything all the time. The worst of it is, he now demands "a menu" of all the foods we could possibly offer him at any given time, from which he will select his desired items.

i know. this is bad, really bad.

we are the worst parents in the world.

the kind who are their child's servant.

half of me is like, okay, make him get his own damn food. and half of me is like, make him eat whatever i give him, and half of me is like, what the hell, as long as he's eating, and half of me is like, yes child, whatever you say o precious one ...

this is a case where 4 halves don't make a right.

Forgotten Influences

I could probably trace several paths of influences - books, tv shows, music, movies - where one favorite led to another and another down the line. Last night we watched the original pilot of one of my all-time favorite TV show, 'The Adventures of Brisco Country Jr', and I realized it was one of those important links in my influence chain. It seems that particular chain began in my childhood with 'Rocky and Bullwinkle' -> it had the clever language play, humor, time travel and history (Peabody and his boy Sherman, Aesop's Fables, the Cold War with Boris and Natasha), the Wild West (Dudley Do-Right) and mythology (Fractured Fairy Tales). Many of those same genre-crossing elements appear in 'Brisco County' and also in my own 'Time Zone' and 'Golden'.

Think of some entertainment you like, try and trace it back to earlier influences, to your first awareness of enjoying that kind of thing.

Another example for me - or pair of examples - were musical experiences that changed my life. Once, at around age 14, bumming around Philadelphia with my best friend, we stopped into a record store where they were playing Santana's then-new 'Caravanserai' album - I'd never heard anything like that before. And then, a couple of years later, while working inventory in the middle of the night, somehow they play Bob Marley's then-new 'Stir It Up' on the radio. Those two listenings completely altered my taste in music forever.

In books, my earliest influences were probably Andrew Lang's colored Fairy Tale books - wherein the third son (yay) always wins in the end! A couple of years ago I re-read Lloyd Alexander's Prydain series, which I read 100 times over as a pre-teen, and it still gets me hooked. And then the one book that most influenced me was 'One Hundred Years of Solitude', which I was fortunate enough to be introduced to in college in Colombia by a great literature teacher who helped me get through it in Spanish and taught me so much about the history and lore surrounding the tales in that great novel, that it helped me understand that literature at its best can be an entire universe unto itself.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Scuze You

Sometimes when I'm at home sick with a cold, I make a stupid video. This is today's:

Crackpot Central - 2008

Once again a presidential candidate steps in dogshit. This time, it's Mitt Romney (again! last time he made this list he claimed to have been a hunter all his life, when it turned out he had only been hunting once, at age 15, and once again last year) - When asked to name his favorite novel, he came up with 'Battlefield Earth', the crappy sci-fi epic by crackpot Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. I'm guessing his favorite movie is something like 'Red Dawn'.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Post Writum Depression

The best part of writing is writing. The worst part of writing is finishing. Pending further review from officials, the screenplay is beta, possibly complete but for a few more minor tinkerings.

My usual practice is to start with a little something, and then just write and write and write without a plan, and let the story take me wherever it goes, until finally it comes to an end.

This time was different. I started with the ending, and I completely re-envisioned everything else several times, including the ending (which remained basically the same, and yet was also completely transformed). Then I went through each character one at a time. Then I rearranged a bunch of scenes so the story developed according to some basic rules. Then I rewrote scene after scene, a little a time, more like polishing than writing.

Then I got some good feedback which illuminated certain weaknesses and helped me address them - I still have more feedback to incorporate, and one month until I submit the work to a few contests (including the one at obswriter.com, if I can), and that will be that. I'll probably put it in lulu form at some point, and fix up the blog site for easier-to-read formatting .

Then I'll go through the usual post-writum depression ... until next time.

Friends in Need

Recently several friends have been in the midst of difficult situations - one has a parent who is dying, another has a parent who died, another has a spouse going crazy, and another is having financial difficulties. All of which makes me want to do something to help each of them, and makes me realize how little I can actually do in these particular circumstances.

Sometimes, words are not only not enough, they are also too much. Sometimes it is better not to say anything - or to say it without words.