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Monday, April 28, 2014

Back to the Futurist

Sure, I wrote a time-travel story once (link) but I think of the whole sub-category as a cheat. A writer sits in his/her garret (or more likely in front of a computer screen at work,) and tries to come up with an idea for a new story.
The muses – usually so chatty, are off by the pencil sharpener putting tips on the dry-erase markers.
Parenthetically () the reason all successful writers HATE the question, “where do you get all your ideas,” (non-successful don’t hate that question because nobody bothers to ask them,) is (still following me?) that most writers have no flicking idea where they get their ideas. Some writers have a tangible inspiration, a dog, a child, a 67 mustang,
but most writers get their ideas while waiting for the microwave, or while shampooing their facial hair, and that’s all they know.
“Yes, Oprah, my prize-winning novel came to me while I was conditioning my nose-hairs one day.”
So while his nose-hairs are sufficiently conditioned, and the muses are busy making mischief with the office supplies, the supposedly brilliant writer is left with the vacant vault known as his imagination.
“Oh!” he says to himself, thereby confirming the opinion among his coworkers that he is instable and creepy, “George Washington!” He then giggles to himself as he writes a crappy little story about going back in time to bring a 1973 Volkswagen Super beetle to George Washington at Valley Forge so the father of our country can zip around at amazing speeds to surprise the British at Trenton. Of course the beetle runs out of gas at the banks of the Delaware, and the next filling station is a hundred and thirty years away (even further is the VW takes unleaded,) so George gets into the boat to cross the river. The intrepid first-person-point-of-view character takes a picture of the scene with a Swinger Polaroid camera he finds in the back seat.
Not very original (except the Swinger camera bit.)

Then there’s the character that goes back in time to correct something – a murder, a missed opportunity, the acting career of Pauli Shore, and having thought he succeeded finds the world he returns to so changed that he longs to lose himself in Bio-Dome – or maybe Encino Man (a time travel story – in a way.)

Never saw that one coming.
Then there are the moving ahead time-travel stories that always place the character in either a Jean Luc Piccard utopia, or Mad Max dystopia. Of course, rather than utopia or dystopia the future is likely to be filled with boring office jobs, and insipid television programming on six million stations that you can watch on tiny Apple products.

But history is full of stories where the future encounters the past – the barbarians over-run Rome, the Europeans over-run the Americas, the missionaries over-run native cultures. These are all stories of violence, epidemic, lost culture, and suffering.

No wonder the muses want nothing to do with them. I’d rather have points on my dry-erase markers.

Does the Swinger ad count as a vid?  Did you notice Ali Macgraw, and recognize Barry Manilow before he became obnoxious?  Not good enough?  Okay, here's the most plausible time-travel story involving George Washington I know.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Our Brothers of Mercy

Our Brothers of Mercy
(Mercy, Mercy, won’t they please shut up?)
It has been pointed out to me that with the inductions of Douglas Adams and Christopher Moore into the HHHH (Headley Hauser Hall of Hawnor) (link 1 link 2) that there’s been a disturbingly positive tone to Just Plain Stupid lately. After all – I need to maintain a reputation as a sarcastic (not sardonic – I’m not Australian enough to be sardonic,) snarky kind of guy.
Fair point.
In addressing this, I would like to offer my first nominating class for Our Brothers of Mercy Monastery for People Who Really Need to Take a Vow of Silence and Get Out of the Public Eye. Unfortunately, O.B.o.M.M.f.P.W.R.N.t.T.a.V.o.S.a.G.O.o.t.P.E looks too much like an eye chart gone horizontal, so I’ll just call our novitiates Brothers of Mercy or B.M.s for short.
There are so many B.M.s out there. I could never in one blog post rid the world of all them in Hollywood, Music, Sports, Media, and Trivia. To compartmentalize the task I intend to nominate novitiates (or novelize nominees?) by class, and today’s class is male actors.
Today’s special people who need to go away are:
1) Jim Belushi: This is a man so sensitive that when a coworker asked an autograph for a sick child was told, “I thought you were going to get me a blow job – you’re worse than my second ex-wife.” He never signed the autograph.
When journalist Bob Woodward wrote a serious, well-researched book about the death of Jim’s brother John, the surviving Belushi pushed his way past Woodward’s secretary, trashed the writer’s office, and proudly announced, “tell that ***** I was here.”
If his brother hadn’t been famous, Jim might have one of those unpleasant people you see doing mundane tasks for small amounts of money – easily avoided and ignored. Instead, we can’t watch one of the major networks without fear of seeing one of his promos.
You can smoke your cigars at the monastery, Jim – anything to keep your mouth shut.
2) Denis Leary: Leary reminds me of the foul-mouthed shrimp in Junior High that thought he was tough because none of the bigger kids wanted a trip to the principal’s office for hurting the helpless. You know the type; he brags that he’s ready to take on the world and then cries when one of the girls throws an eraser at him. I wouldn’t be surprised if Drew Carey or Paul Reubens have stuffed him into a locker somewhere.

Leary not only sings about being an ***hole; he stole the song from another comedian. At least his rant about parents of autistic children was his own work.
Don’t worry, Denis – there won’t be any autistic kids to beat you up at the monastery.
3) James Woods: When he’s not using twitter to send flames to the president or cutsie endearments to his 20-year-old druggie girlfriend, 66-year-old James Woods is busy playing characters you want to punch in the nose.
Sure, some actors like Richard Kiel or Christopher Lee are born to play bad guys. The thing about Woods is that even when he’s playing the good guy, you want to punch him in the nose. If Woods played the part of Pope John Paul II, I would want to punch the soon-to-be-sainted pontiff in the nose. When an actor brings out this pugilistic feeling from his audience in every role he plays, you must conclude that he has a nose desperately in need of pummeling.
But AARP would sue me for punching someone your age, James, and your girlfriend might hit me with her teddy-bear or her crack pipe – so off to the monastery with you.
Dishonorable Mention: Sean Penn. We’ll give him a pass. He suffered enough when he was married to Madonna, and unlike the three above – he can act.

It’s a good beginning, but there are many more B.M.s out there. Stay tuned.

For today's video, here's a guy riding a one-wheeled motorcycle.  I have no idea if he's a jerk like these other guys, but I hope he is because this ride doesn't end well.

Monday, April 21, 2014

I like the Amish in the Spring-time.

My sister, Henrietta lives in Amish country, and sometimes I go to see her. I particularly like to go in April and May – though this year there may be snow through June. Manure in the fields smells horrid, but it’s the sweetest horrid smell I know. I also enjoy the hex signs on barns and occasionally seeing a black buggy with the incongruous orange triangle on the back.
Speaking of incongruous, have you ever seen Amish on rollerblades? It’s an accepted mode of travel according to their custom, and a real hoot to come across!
Back when Cral and I did the TV show, one of our songs was about such people who have the courage to be so different, and so add a bland but important spice to all of our lives. The tune is kind of like I Love Paris except the sizzles part, and the verses are completely different...
The tune is less unlike I Love Paris
than it's unlike many other tunes like Mary Had a Little Lamb
and Take a Chance on Me by ABBA.

I Like the Amish
words by Headley Hauser
tune stolen unfaithfully

I like the Amish in the Spring-time
And those hearty Quakers in the Fall
The Mennonites so jaunty in the Summer
I’m sad that there’s no Shakers left to call

I like carpentry with Gunther
I’m giddy when I sew with Winifred
You’ve never partied till you’ve met the Swensons
They’re wild enough to paint the whole barn red

(repeat chorus)
Now Inga, she was such a rebel
With all she did, she risked the elder’s glower
She once took off racing on the plow horse
Got up to over seven miles an hour

(repeat chorus)
Herman, he was quite the vain one
And all admit his wardrobe had no lack
Once he went parading through the pasture
Dressed in nearly every shade of black

After the show ended, one of my two watchers emailed me to tell me that there were indeed a few Shakers up in Maine still. Of course by then I had my show’s cancellation to be sad about, but it was some consolation.

Here’s today’s video - which due to some foul-up on my end is related to the subject - Wield Al does a song about the Amish that also doesn't much resemble I Love Paris.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Wise Readers Wanted

Having battered heads with cranky old Walter Bego for the last few weeks, we've produce the first view-able version of Dirk Destroyer’s Less Destructive Brother. Now we need guinea pi… volunteers.
It’s a common misconception that writing is about writing – blogging is about writing – writing novels (or novellas) is about editing.
The rough draft of a story usually takes me about 6 weeks to do. It’s the most liberating, joyful 6 weeks or my otherwise sullen existence. The mind wanders far afield a bit like Danny Kaye's in Walter Mitty.
If there was a fairy god-mother for writers, she wouldn't wave her wand to give us ideas; she would wave her wand to turn rough drafts into finished copy.
After the rough draft is done (and the writer sobers up,) the draft is place in a drawer (or on a flash drive,) until much of the detail is forgotten (usually due to harassment from bill-collectors.) When it’s been sufficiently forgotten the first of four (yes, I said FOUR) edits is begun. Big changes happen in the first edit – characters change, the plot changes, everything changes except the writer’s clothes and generally poor hygiene as he/she is chained to the typewriter/word processor/desktop/laptop/tablet until the first edit is completed.
The second edit is the consultation edit. Chunks of brilliant manuscript is brutally cut and jettisoned by sadistic people like Walter Bego who scream inane statements like, “it doesn't move the narrative forward!” (whatever that means.)
Once the writer stops bleeding, he seeks out independent feedback – or wise readers. Wise readers are not profession editors – it’s better if they’re not editors or writers at all. All a wise reader needs to be is someone who likes to read, and recognizes when he or she feels annoyed. There are three things that writers do that especially annoy readers:
1: We Bore Them

2: We Confuse Them

3: We Say Stuff That Doesn't Make Sense (my favorite)

Most readers recognize when these things happen, and if they happen often enough, the writer’s proud effort loses its place on the reader’s bookshelf, and finds a new place amongst the emergency TP.
I need 2 more people to tell me when I bore them, confuse them, and when I say stuff that doesn't make sense (my favorite,) in the story – Dirk Destroyer’s Less Destructive Brother: Book 3 of the Genre Series – The Satire.
As it is a satire, anyone who loves politicians in general (many are skewered,) or John McCain or Al Gore particularly (who I gleefully brutalize,) might not wish to volunteer.
What Does It Pay?!?!?!?!?


But you are thanked officially in digitally pixilated print in the e-book, and I make a reasonable effort not to spell your name wrong.
Such a deal?
When I get the manuscripts back from you I do the third edit based on your wonderful complaints (wound me, beat me, make me feel cheap – please!)
Then GoFigureReads hires a proofreader to catch all the errors – (so you can ignore all the typos, grammatical errors, and misspelled words unless you enjoy that sort of thing,) and I do the final edit.
Finally we have – A Finished Story that you can brag about (or hide from people.) Either way, YOU have become an important part in the writing process!

Sound GLORIOUS to you? Then email me quickly before you come to your senses -

Monday, April 14, 2014

Stolen FB Pictures

Now that all the basketball fans have stopped coming to my blog because Google seems to think that's what I write about, see? I guess I should return to what my regulars seem to like the best.
    For me to shut up and show someone else's funny pictures.

Pictures of Peril
Just when you thought it was safe to return to the barn
Those shopping cart tenders have a mean streak.
Just don't send your friend down headfirst

Pictures of Seasons
This is why the early bird gets the worm, and the later bird gets to mate
Unfortunately - they don't call off work for pollen
Stupid is always in season

Word Play Pictures
The ones that don't text and fly
Another form of deadly cow kicking
Why don't we pay musicians the way we pay strippers?
Auto industry is clearly not keeping up with the tech sector

And Perspective
What are they saying about you in the boardroom?
Everything is Lucas
Cleanliness is a lonely business
That's the way the Canadians see us
There's always someone who has to top your bumper-sticker
And why does this make me feel better?
Speaking of feelings...

Here's a Young Robin Williams with a not-so-young Johnny Carson