Jack Kerouac On Finding The Right Words

by Buzz on 5/04/2017

kerouac on finding the right words

“One day I will find
the right words and
they will be simple.”
— Jack Kerouac

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It Was Only A Kiss

by Buzz on 3/04/2017

It was only a kiss
But it was so much more
It opened up so many things
The heart became a door
It was only a kiss
It was only a kiss

 

text © Buzz Dixon

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Intelligent / Foolish / Stupid / Smart

by Buzz on 1/04/2017

What’s the difference between an intelligent person, a foolish person, a stupid person, and a smart person?

An intelligent person admits their mistakes and strives not to repeat them.

A foolish person realizes they’ve made a mistake but is too proud or vain to admit it, and so often ends up repeating the same mistake.

A stupid person is incapable of realizing they made a mistake, and thus can’t grasp how their actions have consequences.

A smart person figures out why they made the mistake and in doing so, learns something: Either insight into themselves, or how to make penicillin.

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Papa Asks What Kind Of Bird You Are

by Buzz on 30/03/2017

Ernest-Hemingway-Quotes-5

“A serious writer is not to be confused with a solemn writer.  A serious writer may be a hawk or a buzzard or even a popinjay, but a solemn writer is always a bloody owl.” — Ernest Hemingway

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Writing Report March 28, 2017

by Buzz on 28/03/2017

To demonstrate how the creative mind works[1], consider:

Last night I was watching an episode of a classic old genre show (hence, Show A). It was a typical standalone, villain-of-the-week episode of the series, nothing spectacular in and of itself. I don’t recall ever seeing this particular episode, but if I did, it must’ve been 50-60 years ago in its initial run.

It struck me that this episode’s particular baddie was in a unique position to help the protagonists with their mission, but only at a terrible cost. They turn him down, of course, opting to struggle on nobly rather than employ the services of such a villain, but it occurred to me…

…if the villain wasn’t so villainous (or at least didn’t appear so villainous), and they did take him up on his offer…

…then the show would have moved in a radically differ (albeit similar) direction from the way it actually did when aired.

That got me thinking about the basic premise of the show. It was far-fetched 60 years ago and completely unviable today…given the backstory of the show.

But if you changed that backstory…

I thought of genre Show B; it had a similar premise but a significantly different backstory. Swap out a few elements of Show A’s backstory with Show B…

…now you have a similar premise / mission but with a different sense of urgency.

So different it makes the original Show A villain’s offer all the more tempting.

Still, I’m not interested in doing straight up fan fic using somebody else’s characters. While their archetypes (to be generous) and stock characters (to be honest) were common to the genre, they’d still require considerable tweaking to make them my own.

Gender and age substitutions were easy enough, but one stock character reminded me of a comedy relief team of similar stock characters in genre Show C, so if I port that team over, play them straight but keep the core essence of their personalities…

Still, it struck me as a little too cut-&-pasty. Sharp-eyed readers might notice what I lifted from Show B and Show C.

Then I remember Genre Movie had used a similar setting to Show B and similar characters to Show C but had been released before either of those two shows aired, so if anybody said, “You ripped off Show B & C” I could say, no, Genre Movie did that, too and vice versa.

Great, so now I have a strong, workable premise, but no place to put it. I suppose I could write it (eventually) as a novel…

Then it struck me to approach the material as I would a TV series, each chapter an episode in a season or a long story arc.[2] Thirteen episodes of three acts, each act with a minimum of three scenes, each scene 500 words long = 58,500 words right there. Easily within striking range of a standard genre novel.

Well, that’s good.

The only real question now is when to find time to write this!

We just got in the cover art for Poor Banished Children Of Eve, my young adult “World War Two Lord Of The Flies with Catholic school girls” novel; I’ll be sharing that with you shortly. That should be hitting the market (well, Amazon) in a matter of weeks.

Completed the second draft on the short story I mentioned last time that’s set in a book store; trimmed it down a little tighter, punched up a few lines. As soon as I have more info on the anthology’s final title and release date Ill let you know.

The modern Western YA novel about four teen girls saving a herd of wild horses is still awaiting the next round of revisions; gotta get that one in the hopper ASAP.

Haven’t forgotten about the female barbarian story, either; it’s still stewing in the back of me widdle brain.

We went to Canada for a wedding last weekend and to amuse myself in the down time I wrote a 1,400 word short story I now have no idea what to do with. It’s not a genre story[3] and it has a nasty little twist that hinges on a sharp change in tone, so markets that might like the first half of the story won’t like the second and vice versa. If anybody has any general fiction markets they know of, bounce ‘em along to me, please.

I’ve also written a short factoid that will eventually find its way into the rotation on this blog. It’s more of a mood piece that an actual story, but I liked the way it turned out and as they say in the song, “Whaddya want for nuthin’? A rubber beeeeescuit?”

Oh, and I’ve got some links to share of a book review of The Most Dangerous Man In The World: The Lost Classic G.I. Joe Episode and an interview I did recently, so I gotta get those up plus you’ll probably be seeing some format changes on this blog in the very near future as we are shifting from one platform to another.

So brace yourselves, there’s a lot coming!

Ray bradbury write a story

[1]  Well, how this creative mind works.

[2]  But how to hide the episodic nature so that it flows like a real novel instead of a series of adventures? Well, when we were doing the classic Sunbow shows we were forced into a pretty rigid three act structure by the need to run commercials. If each chapter is the equivalent of an episode, just move the chapter break to the cliff hanger at the end of act two, resolve it in the next chapter, then segue on to the next story.

[3]  Unless you want to call it a crime story but while there’s a crime in it, the focus of a genre crime story is the crime itself while the focus of this story is what motivates the crime.

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I Gotz Me Some Warm Fuzzies For QUEEN OF BLOOD

by Buzz on 27/03/2017

You can’t call it a good movie, but it sure is an interesting one, for the most part entertaining, and if the film maker/s didn’t exactly create a work of art, they certainly displayed a lot of ingenuity and craftsmanship.

QoB poster long

Queen Of Blood is a 1965 U.S. film cobbled together with stock footage from the Soviet feature films Mechte Navstrechu (“Meeting A Dream Halfway” a.k.a. “A Dream Come True”) and Nebo Zovyot (“The Heavens Beckon”) by writer / director Curtis Harrington.

Harrington is an interesting Hollywood character. After making a name for himself with short underground films in the 1940s and 50s, he landed a gig directing what is arguably his best film, Night Tide with long time collaborator Dennis Hopper.[1] He followed that with a pretty straightforward re-dub / re-edit of Planeta Bur (“Planet Of Storms”) as Voyage To The Prehistoric Planet[2] and the much more elaborate mash-up we know as Queen Of Blood[3] before settling into a dependable journeyman director niche, a dependable and just-creative-enough director for studios to entrust with otherwise mediocre second features, movies of the week, and TV shows that needed a little extra oomph.

He put a lot of effort into Queen Of Blood and it shows: Matching costumes with the Russian actors, finding a similar Los Angeles location to a corresponding Russian one, intercutting U.S. actors with pre-existing special effects footage, and cooking up an act three complication derived from Howard Hawk’s version of The Thing.

The first two thirds of the film follows the basic plot of Mechte Navstrechu: Alien ship heading towards Earth crash lands on Mars, humans send an expedition to recover the sole alien survivor, sacrificing one of their own in the process (killing him off in the Soviet version, merely marooning him in the U.S. cut).[4] Harrington’s swipe from Hawks was to reveal the sole survivor was a green skinned outer space vampire who, though vanquished in the end, leaves a tray of throbbing plant-like offspring with the question as to whether the humans should allow them to grow and attempt to establish peaceful contact with the aliens, or just destroy ‘em on the spot.

With the truly impressive / gorgeous stock shots from Nebo Zovyot and Mechte Navstrechu, plus Harrington’s ingenious film making, Queen Of Blood proves a perfectly satisfying popcorn muncher…up to that point.

QoB mechtenav2

The last third, the trip back to Earth, turns deadly dull, despite Dennis Hopper’s best efforts to keep the plot suspenseful. Unlike the similar threats faced by space crews in It! Terror From Beyond Space and Alien as their monsters rampaged through their ships, Queen Of Blood’s astronauts are essentially trapped in the same room with their space vampire.[5]

QoB queenofblood5big

Hopper’s fellow cast members, notably perennial B-movie action star John Saxon and fast-fading screen legend Basil Rathbone, put their shoulders to the wheel admirably, but the film is killed by ex-pat / refugee Czech actress Florence Marly as the eponymous queen.

Marly had a respectable but unimpressive career prior to the infamous anti-communist blacklisting era (she was mistaken for another performer with a similar name and, by the time she cleared herself, her mainstream career was over). Harrington, who knew her personally, cast her as the alien queen.

Those who knew her apparently liked her[6], but in every role she ever played and in every publicity shot she ever appeared in, she wears a put-upon expression of disdainfully amused disbelief, as if looking directly at the audience and saying, “Really?!?!? You find this entertaining?”

That vibe (and a lack of interesting stock footage) destroys everything Queen Of Blood had going for it up to that point. Once they leave Mars you can turn the movie off: She leisurely kills half the crew, gets a scratch, and dies almost instantly (and bloodlessly) from the alien equivalent of hemophilia.

It’s worth catching for the great Soviet stock-footage,
it’s easily forgettable for everything else.

QoB w1280

[1] Night Tide is a great psychological / dark fantasy. It’s a lovely film, haunting in more ways than one, but AIP had no idea what to do with it and eventually threw it away on the drive-in / grindhouse circuit with a misleading horror movie campaign.

[2] Which was subsequently re-edited and re-dubbed yet again by Peter Bogdanovich as Voyage To The Planet Of Prehistoric Women with footage of a bell-bottomed Mamie Van Doren in a seashell bikini top edited in.

[3] Francis Ford Coppola got into the act as well, re-editing / re-dubbing / shooting additional scenes to turn Nebo Zovyot into Battle Beyond The Sun. By the time they were done, AIP and Roger Corman turned three Soviet sci-fi films into four American features, and footage from Battle… eventually found its way into Hollywood Boulevard, yet another Corman produced mash-up movie.

[4] Harrington left off a charming. almost fairy tale element in the original Soviet version, that the aliens had been attracted to Earth by a song they’d heard one of the protagonists sing over the radio.

[5] Lifeforce wisely cut away from the returning shuttle once they picked up their space vampire, whom they even more wisely left nude for most of the film. A little bit of nudity goes a long ways in plastering over plot deficiencies, and a lot of nudity goes even further.

[6] Such as Forry Ackerman, who promoted Queen Of Blood in Famous Monsters magazine long past the point it would ever do anybody any good.

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Why Do You Do That?

by Buzz on 24/03/2017

if you refrain from harming others because you fear punishment
you are not good, just a coward

if you do good because you anticipate a reward
you are not good, just a pimp

if you do good for any reason
you are not good, just a machine

do good because that is all you can do
not to enrich yourself, but to enrich others

(I know it’s not rational
love never is)

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Trump vs. Criswell

by Buzz on 23/03/2017

Jeron Criswell Konig was a bullshit artist of rare ability. As The Amazing Criswell he had a long — albeit sporadic & erratic — career as a psychic.

He gave good interviews, was a hit at parties, and his predictions were so crazy and off the wall that nobody could believe him but they were all entertained by him.

The thing about crazy predictions, however,
is that occasionally you roll a natural.

Criswell’s best known prediction that came true was “bedbugs in Boston” in which he predicted an infestation of cimex lectularius in Beantown.

And wouldn’t ya know it — a few months after he made this prediction, there was an outbreak of bedbugs in Boston.

Criswell banked off that wild shot prediction for much of the rest of his career.

He never brought up the literally hundreds of other predictions he made that came nowhere near reality.

Like all other psychics, Criswell made his nickel off the hits and carefully brushed all the misses aside.*

Trump uses Criswell’s playbook.

He makes outrageous claims and statements, equivocating them when pressed, saying they were just “quotes” or generalities, but when there is a hit, he’s quick to take credit.

Recently there has been an arrest in the wave of bomb threats directed against synagogues and other Jewish centers in the U.S. and Canada. What’s surprising is that the arrest was in Israel.

The suspect is a teenager with apparently some severe mental problems.**

In a normal news environment, this would result in a tsk-tsk. We’d shake our heads at the irony that the trouble was caused by a Jewish teen for reasons unknown, but while we could admit we should never judge a situation until all the facts are known, at the same time we also have to admit the odds of a threat of violence against a synagogue coming from an anti-Semite are much greater that the odds of that threat coming from within their community.

But in our current environment, nothing is normal. Do not feign surprise when Trump struts like a little orange peahen, claiming to have been “right” all along.

He’s nothing but a bullshit artist, same as Criswell.

But Criswell had more class.

criswell can you prove

* Another show biz entertainer, The Amazing Randi, has taken great delight in exposing the frauds who prey on the gullible, and is quick to document the failings of any person who claims precognitive abilities. There are a lot of them, and I’m ashamed to admit that an inordinate number are banging Bibles.

**  How severe? The Israeli teen was found unfit for compulsory military service by the Israeli defense forces.  Dude, you gotta be six kinds of fncked up not to get drafted by Israel.

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Barack Obama On Writing

by Buzz on 20/03/2017

 

1) “Careful about too many adverbs, particularly describing how people speak (Paul asked disbelievingly, etc.).  It can be cumbersome and a bit intrusive on the reader.”

2) “Resist the temptation of easy satire. … Good satire has to be a little muted.  Should spill out from under a seemingly somber situation.”

3) “Try to get the basic stats on the characters out of the way early {Paul was 24} so that you can spend the rest of the story revealing character.”

4) “Think about the key moment(s) in the story, and build tension leading to those key moments.”

5) “[W]rite outside your own experience. … I find that this works the fictive imagination harder.”

(found here)

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A Point About Privilege

by Buzz on 16/03/2017

“Privilege” is one of those words, much like “theory”, that has a very precise technical meaning and a much looser popular one.

In everyday parlance, “privilege” means gloating or lording it over someone because one possesses something the others lack. “That’s her privilege” “He thinks he’s a privileged character” “It was my privilege to know them”

In common parlance, “privilege” packs
quite a negative emotional punch.

In its precise use in sociology and other sciences, it’s far more morally neutral.

Let’s tell a little story to illustrate the point using Sam and Pat.

Sam is a successful small business owner who uses a wheelchair.

Pat is an unsuccessful working-class level employee who is able-bodied.
Both Sam and Pat have to get their driver’s licenses renewed. Pat goes to the DMV, walks right up the steps and through the front door, takes a form off the rack on the wall, gets in line, and eventually receives a new license.

Sam has to locate the wheelchair access ramp, ask someone to hand down a form from the rack, gets in line, and eventually receives a new license.

After getting their respective licenses, Sam and Pat feel hungry.

Sam rolls across the street to a restaurant and orders a satisfying meal. Sam’s business is successful enough to afford spontaneous little things like this without worry.

Pat feels hungry, but hasn’t got enough for both a snack from the DMV coin op machine and bus fare home. The part time job Pat holds requires a valid driver’s license but doesn’t pay enough to afford even a cheap used car. Pat needs to decide whether to eat and walk home, skip lunch and take a bus, or do both because who knows what tomorrow may hold?

Pat enjoys what is referred to as “able-bodied privilege”. Pat never has to think about going up stairs, door access, where things are located, etc. because the world for the most part is set up to accommodate people like Pat who are physically able.

Sam does have to worry about such things, because unless somebody thinks ahead and designs the DMV building in such a way as to make it equally accessible for everyone, Sam personally needs to adjust to a world built for able-bodied folk.

Conversely, because Sam is reasonably successful at business, Sam doesn’t have to evaluate whether to spend money on a meal; Sam just orders it and enjoys. Pat does have to make that judgment.

And that, in a nutshell, precisely defines “privilege” in sociological terms: You can afford not to think about something because it doesn’t bother you directly.

It doesn’t make one a bad person.

It doesn’t mean one gloats or smirks or lords it over others.

It certainly doesn’t mean one doesn’t experience other problems and disappointments in life.

But Pat can ignore inadequate wheelchair access at DMV because it doesn’t affect able-bodied persons.

And Sam can roll over and buy a meal on the spur of the moment because making a choice like that presents no budgeting challenge to a person with cash.

Privilege.

You’ve got it.

No matter who you are, no matter what your background, you enjoy privilege in some shape, form, or fashion.

There’s nothing wrong with recognizing that.

Just make sure when you can, you look around and ask what can be done to make the world a bit easier for those who don’t enjoy what you’re able to enjoy.

You don’t have to give anything up.

It’s not a status symbol.

It’s just treating others the
way you want to be treated.

 

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