I pulled the book off the shelf the other day. The 40 year old pages are yellow and brittle. The $1.50 price tag, a badge of its age. I think back on those times and am filled with satisfaction for the creative endeavors we undertook, proud of what we achieved in our efforts, and a strong affection for the group of boys and girls I was privileged enough to collaborate with.
Monday, March 28, 2011
In my defense I do NOT like the Bachelor/Bachelorette; anything with “The Real Housewives…” in the title or any show that determines paternity, catches spouses cheating or follows the family of burned out rock stars.
I LIKE the Pickers, and the Pawn guys, Antiques Road Show and the Storage Unit guys. The possibility of finding long lost treasures is always fun. I am educated AND entertained by the Mythbusters, but could care less about the loggers, fishermen, and gold miners.
Then there are the “Cop Shows.” At first I found it interesting; seeing how they enforce the law in other parts of the country. Then it got frustrating because I saw so much BAD police work, it was embarrassing. I worked for a major Southern California city for 2 decades and in one episode of a reality cop show I saw more things that would get you in trouble than I did my entire career on the street. Now I know watching a group of officers doing things right would probably be boring television, but I resent showing marginal work for the sake of entertainment. The scripted shows are not any better. To those who may not know…..Crime Scene Investigators DO NOT interrogate suspects, knock down doors to take bad guys into custody and NEVER work a scene ALONE with no one there to protect them. I cringe when I watch some of the things on these shows. But I stray, sorry.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Long before it was called “Young Adult” literature, Robert Heinlein was writing fantastic sci-fi stories that would appeal to teenagers and adults.
I won’t go into his bio here (If you are interested you can Google him) but I will say he was an engineer and a very free thinker. His attitudes in regards to sex, marriage and society were as progressive as his take on technology, religion and politics.
His YA books like Have Spacesuit, Will Travel and Red Planet, Starman Jones, were light and exciting Sci-Fi tales that would thrill young readers while still holding the interest of seasoned adults. It was his more Adult offerings that really grabbed me. Stranger In A Strange Land is probably his most famous and most controversial. Door Into Summer, Starship Troopers, (much better than the movie) Glory Road, Puppet Masters (again better than the movies) I Will Fear No Evil, and Revolt in 2100, also push the boundaries of what is and was considered taboo subjects in the mid 20th Century America, when they were first published.
The underline theme of all of Heinlein’s novels was always, Peace And Love, will solve all of problems, either personally or globally. He had a glass half full view of the world. He was not blind to the problems we face as a nation and a planet, but he recognized that the same people that made the mess had the ability to fix it. We need his message today more than ever.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Here is the next in my series of "quotable quotes." They rank up there with "Don't spit into the wind" and "Don't mess around with Jim."
EVEN IF YOU’RE NOT, PRETEND TO BE.
NO ONE CAN TELL THE DIFFERENCE.
THINK BIG THOUGHTS,
BUT RELISH SMALL PLEASURES.
NEVER ARGUE WITH A POLICE OFFICER,
AND ALWAYS ADDRESS THEM AS “OFFICER.”
LEARN TO LISTEN.
OPPORTUNITY SOMETIMES KNOCKS VERY SOFTLY.
NEVER DEPRIVE SOMEONE OF HOPE;
IT MIGHT BE ALL THEY HAVE.
THE PERSON WITH BIG DREAMS IS MORE POWERFUL THAN ONE WITH ALL THE FACTS.
BATTLE AGAINST PREJUDICE WHEREVER YOU FIND IT.
LOOSEN UP, RELAX.
EXCEPT FOR RARE LIFE-AND-DEATH MATTERS,
NOTHING IS AS IT FIRST SEEMS.
NEVER CUT WHAT CAN BE UNTIED
JUDGE YOUR SUCCESS BY THE DEGREE THAT YOU’RE ENJOYING PEACE, HEALTH, AND LOVE.
BE A LEADER: REMEMBER THE LEAD SLED DOG IS THE ONE WITH THE BEST VIEW.
Monday, March 14, 2011
I saw Red Riding Hood over the weekend. It is a monster (Werewolf) movie, which is not my favorite genre, but my wife likes it and we were celebrating our Anniversary, sooooo, I decided to let her pick the movie and she chose RRH.
On the flip side of that is when a Movie/TV show contradicts a fact or character from the source material. That bugs the crap out of me. It is sloppy writing and an affront to the person who created the mythology in the first place. In RRH case it was ok to stray from the fairy tale story because the movie was NOT about the fairy tale. The fact that the girl wore a red hood and there was a wolf and a grandma in the story was about as close as it got, but others have blatantly betrayed the original and I really hate that.
Many of these contradictions are made to modernize an old story. It would not do to have a 50s character dressed in a signature way with a story set in today’s world. I can understand and deal with that. What I cannot abide is obvious deviations from known facts.
The biggest example of this in media today comes with the sudden influx of “Vampire” stories. Everyone knows the lore of the vampire. Garlic, crucifixes, and holy water…not good! The grand daddy of all Vampire mythology is the simple fact, “Vampires CANNOT be in sunlight.!” This is not negotiable, yet today there are so many Vampire stories on screen, in books, and on TV that to make each one stand out from another, “changes” are made. It drives me CRAZY! I want to scream at the screen, “You can’t have him chase them; it’s DAYTIME, the sun’s OUT!!” <sigh>
There are so many clever and talented writers out there. You’d think they could come up with logical ways around the mythology instead of plowing right through it.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011
I just watched Love & Other Drugs starring Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal. It was a “good” movie, not “Great,” but good. I enjoyed it a lot more than the Rom/Coms that have been coming out lately. The reason I am mentioning it here is because of the writing.
The script was very interesting from a writing standpoint. It was at its core a romantic comedy because it was funny in parts and romantic in parts. But….mixed in were also underlining themes that were meaning-full and important. There were points made in regards to the obsession this Country has with drugs, the horror of Parkinson’s decease, the failure of the health care system, the mental health problems of the homeless, ADD, and a variety of small references to other social troubles that are prevalent today. How impressive for a 2 hour movie! There were very few solutions offered, it was more like a mirror held up to see the problems and hopefully cause at least one person to look a little harder and maybe “think.” Isn’t that one of the goals of a writer? To get the message out there and have the reader (watcher) react in some way. This movie accomplished that. For that it made a mediocre “Boy meets Girl, Boy losses Girl, Boy gets Girl back” formula-matic story into a good movie that was entertaining AND thought provoking.
Much has been made of the fact that Anne Hathaway is naked in a lot of this movie. It is a shame because her performance in this movie was very good and should have been acknowledged. I wonder if the Director had made the decision to unrealistically hide her behind sheets and fancy lighting and camera angles if her acting would have been complimented and recognized? The nudity in the movie was very important to the story. It showed “Character” and, without dialogue, let us know something about both the male and female lead characters. It wasn’t uncomfortable. In places it was playful and in others romantic and an important part of the story.
As a life-long lover of movies I “liked” it, and recommend it. As a writer I was impressed. It was a lesson in storytelling, and I was paying attention.
Monday, March 7, 2011
Over the years I have collected a variety of writings that have moved, amused, or disturbed me (in a good way.) I would like to share some of them from time to time. Reading them is like rubbing a stone. Slowly, they become smooth and shiny and even more profound. I think the more they are read the better they get. These have to do with friends and friendship:
I FANNED THE FLAME OF FRIENDSHIP
AND KINDLED THE FIRE OF LOVE
I HAVE ROOM FOR ONE MORE
AND HE IS EVERY MAN
If you make but one friend in your entire life
You can count yourself lucky.
“I am wealthy in my friends.”
Friendship ruins angels, and elevates man.”
If I don’t have a friend I have nothing.
Wherever there is friendship there is a chance for human beings.
“A King cannot have a friend, but a peasant can.”
True friendship shows itself in private
more then in the company of others.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
It can be said that a song is poetry set to music. That is basically true, but with a disclaimer; not ALL songs are poetry. Repeating “I Feel Love” over and over and over again is not poetic, and while “Staying Alive, Staying alive, a..a..a…a..Staying Alive” has a great beat and can be easily danced to, its lyric is not genius.
There are, however, great examples of brilliant writing for the purpose of song. There is the mystical and cryptic: “Been through the desert on a horse with no name” or “She’s buying a stairway to heaven” and “I am the walrus.”
The beautiful: “Hello darkness, my old friend” -“I’ll stand by you” and “You are the wind beneath my wings.”
The whimsical: “You can call me Al” or “You don’t mess around with Jim” and “Itsy Bitsy yellow pokadot bikini.”
Country music likes to be punny and mix metaphoric. “We buried the Hatchet, but leave the handle sticking out.” “I’m much too young to feel this damn old” or “You ain’t much fun since I quit drinkin.”
There are songs that are complete stories in themselves: "Abraham,Martin and John" "Harper Valley PTA" and what exactly did Bobby throw off the Tallahasse Bridge?
The granddaddy of them all is probably the Moody Blues whose Knights and White Satin even ends with spoken poetry as the strings swell in the background. “Cold hearted orb rules the night, remove the colors from our sight.” Wonderful..... good stuff.
There doesn’t seem to be a lot of those kinds of lyrics anymore. Popular music today seems to be driven by a dance beat, more than the thought provoking refrains of say Dylan, or Crosby, Stills and Nash, but I must say I enjoy almost ALL popular music.
I am often inspired by good lyrics. Poetry set to music that elicits an emotional response. I enjoy good lyrics almost as much as good prose. I just wish there were more Moody Blues and less Gaga to be inspired by.