Tuesday, March 25, 2014

According to The Writer's Almanac today, Gloria Steinem said

"Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don't feel I should be doing something else."

How interesting; for me, the struggle is to overcome the feeling that I should always be doing something else than writing. Time writing feels like time stolen from "better things to do" and yet it's the only endeavor in which I don't feel that I'm poaching on someone else's territory.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Dream journal 3/24/14

The space between getting up to let the dogs out, sometime between 2:30 and 3:30 AM, and hitting the final snooze, usually around 5 or 5:15, has become filled with very odd dream snippets. I suppose dreams tend to be odd by their very nature, but I’ve begun to be more and more aware of the dreams as they’re happening, and remembering more than usual afterward. So this morning there were dreamlets in which I was driving the old highlander and the brakes failed and I rear-ended what looked like a pickup truck full of Okies and their worldly possessions piled high on it; I may have pranged some kid’s bike. In another I was without my wallet for some reason, then found it on the grass. 

My favorite from this morning (I do remember thinking (in the dream) “I must remember this one, it’s good!”) 

So I was (in the dreamlet) standing talking to Neil deGrasse Tyson, and though I don’t remember specifically I’ve no doubt I was fascinated and thrilled because I admire the guy enormously. He was wearing a cape or academic robe of some sort, very dashing. Some nut job came up to us (apparently either a creationist or a Plutonian) and brandished a long knife (or a short sword, coulda been either, the dream wasn’t terribly clear on that point). Tyson whipped off his cape (or robe) and without missing a beat, in matador fashion whirled it around the attacker, enveloping him totally, rendering his blade useless. Then he (Tyson) looked at me and I looked at him and we laughed, and laughed and laughed, and I said “and you didn’t even need a veronica!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Well I really didn't intend this to become a "Hey look who just died" blog, but

Pete Seeger followed in rapid succession by Shirley Temple and Sid Caesar shouldn't go by unnoticed, I guess. The word "iconic" is grossly overused, mostly by people who don't really know what it means, so I won't use it. These three folks really are "classics" in their fields - in the sense of defining a class, of things or people or works of art. Feel-good 30s musicals, the Great Folk Scare of the 40s through the 60s, and early TV comedy, all summed up in three names, and all gone within a few weeks of each other. So maybe we can say the cultural 20th century is finally over?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Wasn't that a time? Pete Seeger's gone, The Great Folk Scare must surely be over.

Whatever one thought of his politics (or his music) it's undeniable that Pete Seeger summed up a great deal about a generation of us, and in a way was the conduit for us of the best from an earlier generation, and inspired us with it. I can't help thinking we're all very much better off for his influence, however it exerted itself on us - musically, politically, spiritually. His intrepid wife & partner Toshi died a few months ago - I suppose some will be gratified that "now they can be together" and maybe that's true, but at least it's a sure bet that Pete won't have to endure any more of this life without her.

So long, Pete, it's been good to know ya. (And yes, that'll show up all over the place I'm sure)

Saturday, December 7, 2013

In (yet another) creative lull - not sure what to call it/them

Not "blocked" really since that implies - to me at least - sitting down to write and being unable to. In other words making the effort to make the effort but generating no product. My "stuck" seems to take the form of not sitting down to try - not as a conscious decision, not as a result of circumstance, simply as a result of me. I did well for a couple of years, produced a lot of text (for me) much of it fodder for later rewrite/revise sessions when I progress that far. So I'm happy with progress, but stuck again, though with a different attitude since now I'm pretty sure I can actually produce more than wee snippets grasped from thin air and leading nowhere. in particular. Need a renewal of the discipline, need to stop the internal grumbling about not being able to devote full time to it, as planned all these years.

Odd little sequences of dreamlets in the segments between eruptions of the snooze alarm; none recordable, but they're really odd. How can I know that without knowing what they were?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Well yesterday was George's 102nd birthday, so I guess it's safe to say

he'd have died quite some time ago even if he hadn't died in '68. And I myself have, as of today, realized that I'm almost old enough to be inappropriate with impunity.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Well I've just finished reading my first piece of Stephen King's fiction, and

I liked it. It was not a horror story. It was The Colorado Kid a short(ish) piece, perhaps for SK a novella; too long for a short story at just under 200 pages according to amazon, but I read it on the Kindle which doesn't do page numbers, so who's to know?

It's a mystery story. But it's not a "detective" story, there's no detective involved, and there's no resolution - no scene in the library of the country house (or courtroom) where some brilliant Sherlock rolls out the clues and what they mean and finalizes the whole thing by wheeling on the culprit and shrieking "But it was YOU...."

The only available spoiler is that in The Colorado Kid you will not only not find out whodunit, you won't find out what there was to be done, nor why.

King very cleverly sets up a frame story around a completely "told" mystery plot - we never meet ANY of the characters involved in the actual mystery - that whole story is "told" by two old downeast geezers, to their young midwestern associate. The true cleverness King displays is in getting us fascinated by the "mystery" that the old farts relate to the young woman, as a means of grabbing & holding our interest in the three "real time" characters, whom he portrays very cleanly & economically.

King's handling of "voice" is brilliant, especially in his handling of downeast dialect. Dialect, as most writers will tell you, is very dangerous territory (in fact I think SK mentions it himself in "On Writing") - an attempt to render any extended passage in accurate representation of any regional or ethnic accent practically dooms the dialog thus attempted. But King manages to suggest to the reader how these folks sound, then judiciously (and sparingly) reinforces it with occasional phonetic renderings, and the magic is done - every time Vince and Dave speak, I hear the down Maine twang as clearly (cle-ah-ly) as if I was listening to the geezers myself, somewhere up (down?) the coast, perhaps in the vicinity of Wiscasset.

I enjoyed The Colorado Kid immensely, and I recommend it for anyone who likes a tale well told, but who doesn't require resolutions to their mysteries (like real life).

Thursday, August 29, 2013

What does anyone think of these notions?

(Assuming anyone's reading, which may be a totally unwarranted assumption). I seem to be forming better defined principles with which to approach my new-found "life's work" (i.e. writing fiction).

It is art. I am almost to the point where I can say that without blushing and feeling pompous. (Almost, it still feels pompous and self-aggrandizing, but it's what I've secretly (almost guiltily, I don't know why) believed for a long time - I am an artist, or at least an artist-in-training).

The point of art (in my opinion only, this is a hugely contentious assertion, I'm aware, but it works for me) is to observe, examine, contemplate, and report on "what it means to be a human being." Whether any of the many art forms that are apparently unaware of the human race beyond the artist are therefore "not art" or are "bad art" I don't know and I don't care. I'm only concerned with my own notions here (it's MY blog after all). Let's say "The point of MY art is to observe, examine, contemplate, and report on WIMTBAHB." Any "self-expression" on the part of the artist that is not employed in this, is superfluous. It's perfectly fine of course if an artist uses his own feelings in a particular situation to communicate some generalities that apply to "What it means" and more importantly to make me feel what he's feeling in pursuit of identifying with the generality of la condition humaine. (Or whatever). But unconnected, incoherent blurts, whether visual, verbal, or aural seem not to do this.

Fiction is Truth unconstrained by Fact. More ruminations and cogitations on this later, but it's a phrase I came up with some time ago and have been turning over in my mind for the past 3 years or so that I've been pursuing this fiction-writing endeavor seriously. The capitalizations in that phrase are intentional and significant, BTW.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I was disappointed by "Quartet" and haven't finished watching it yet. I may not.

The first half hour is fun, how could it not be with Pauline Collins and Billy Connolly being all rascally and scatty? (Not in that order of course). Michael Gambon in his patented "irascible old goat" routine and Tom Courtenay being sensitive and pensive all over the place. So far s'ok. But just about 30-40 minutes in it begins to sag; and the second time Connolly pees into the bushes to tittering effect (and believe me, at my age I do understand the thematic point of his micturitive distress), I bailed out. It became clear to me what was going on: these absolutely marvelous actors had been placed in cardboard suits patterned after characterizations for which they've become (justly) famous, wound up like little clockwork figures, and set in motion to totter across the frame like little wind-ups: "Billy Connolly doing his randy old bandit of a Scot" and "Maggie Smith doing her Jean Brodie Way Past Her Prime shtick" and so on. Well it's not their fault, it sits squarely on the director's shoulders. I had very high hopes for Dustin Hoffman's directorial maiden voyage - very fine actors frequently make very fine directors (and he might, I hope he takes another crack at it soon). But I have the feeling that in an overflow of (deserved) respect for his cast, Hoffman indulged them with one too many "Just give me something of yours, never mind the script" and they fell into their set modes and set pieces instead of coming up with new people.

I'll pick it up again soon, but unless it begins to move in a more original direction I doubt I'll make it through the remaining hour. Sad too, I was really looking forward to it, I love the work these people have done. (Andrew Sachs, BTW, seems to have been entirely overlooked and he's pretty much wasted as wallpaper. Too bad, the guy has huge talent.)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Well damn, July slipped by unblogged.

It was hot hereabouts, and much spare energy got sucked up by chores and projects. C'est la vie I guess. Early August has been consumed mostly by illness and recovery therefrom. I'll use that as an excuse for letting the 13th slide by unmarked. I usually have some little thing to say on 13 August, mostly amounting to "Hey look at that one of the few remarkable days in my life." It was on 13 August 1969 (longtime followers of this blog - if such exist - will know this) that Yours Truly became Second Lieutenant Yours Truly, USAF, at the Medina Annex (AKA "USAFOTS") of Lackland Military Training Center in San Antone Texas. It was a sunny day, and hot, and we marched around a big-ass parade ground, and some bigshots (relatively speaking) blathered on and we threw out hats in the air, and shortly thereafter got our first salutes. Mine was from TSgt Jack Adams, who had been my TI in Basic Training (oh yes, I was double blessed, most folks only have to do one or the other, Basic or OTS - I got to do both; long story) and was a hell of a good guy, Smoky Bear hat and stogie meeting about 8 inches in front of his face at a nearly 90 degree angle.
Why we remember such occasions - epsecially guys, and especially military-related stuff - so long is an interesting phenomenon, and I'm convinced it has to do with things surrounding the notion that being in the military, for guys, especially, is a big developmental marker along the road - "here's where I put away the kid stuff." (Though that's pretty much bullshit, as we learn over the ensuing decades, but the notion sticks.)