Personal Truth

I’ve posted this quote before, but it came up in conversation recently, and I was struck again by how very beautiful it is.

May Sarton, from Journal of a Solitude:

“My own belief is that one regards oneself, if one is a serious writer, as an instrument for experiencing. Life–all of it–flows through this instrument and is distilled through it into works of art. How one lives as a private person is intimately bound into the work. And at some point, I believe one has to stop holding back for fear of alienating some imaginary reader or real relative or friend, and come out with personal truth. If we are to understand the human condition, and if we are to accept ourselves in all the complexity, self-doubt, extravagance of feeling, guilt, joy, the slow freeing of the self to its full capacity for action and creation, both as human being and artist, we have to know all we can about one another, and we have to be willing to go naked.”

Continue ReadingPersonal Truth

NaNoWriMo 2011: very tentative outline

I spent some time yesterday trying to work out how my story is going to go, and came up with some potential chapter titles. Which, looking at them now seem completely over the top and fraught with the possibility of failure, but what the hell. I may as well look stupid. It wouldn’t be the first time.

The Journey – a very dumb working title. This will be the last thing I figure out, probably.

Act I
0) The Kraken
1) Siège Perilous
2) Melusina
3) Daughters of Nyx
4) The Dolorous Stroke
5) Walpurgis Night
Act II
6) Clotho
7) Lachesis
8) Atropos
9) Praxinoscope (Proust’s Lantern)
10) The Blizzard Dream and the Brocken spectre
11) Melusina
12) The Sangreal
13) amor fati
14) the Wasteland 
15) Thumos

NaNoWriMo Participant 2011
NaNoWriMo Participant 2011
Continue ReadingNaNoWriMo 2011: very tentative outline

NaNoWriMo2011 – Outlook: Cautiously Optimistic.

I didn’t say anything about joining National Novel Writing Month this year because I haven’t gotten very far with this in the past, and I’ve learned talking about stuff tends to kill projects before they get off the ground. I’m doing much better this year, though, and I’ve managed to keep my word count up four whole days in a row. And I’m realizing that I can indeed actually write 1,667 words per day, if I hit upon the right thing to say. This is not unpossible. My word count right now is 7095 out of a par of 6668 for day 4. (50,000 words in 30 days being the criteria for “winning.”) Not as great as some of the folks in the Indianapolis Facebook group, but definitely a solid effort.

What I’ve written so far is pretty terrible, but I can see where it could be good later, maybe, when I revise. Which will be after November. First drafts, first… editing later. Right now, it’s all about getting words on the page. Which I can do, it seems. So…

NaNoWriMo Participant 2011
NaNoWriMo Participant 2011

And I’ve notice an insane new trend in my writing – lots of ellipses all over the place. I like to imply things. I probably do this all the time without noticing it, but it’s really jumped out at me. Ah well; no editing under after November. Thems the rules.

Continue ReadingNaNoWriMo2011 – Outlook: Cautiously Optimistic.

Oh darn – delicious links auto-publishing died

Shoot. My blogging crutch went away. For the past five or six years I’ve been using a little-known and not very well supported delicious links tool to auto-publish the links I’ve saved to my site. It was easy because I could hit a bookmarklet when I was on an interesting page and delicious would save the page title and link and I could enter a description of what was interesting and tags about the post, and the tool would aggregate all the links and post them once a day. Easy, short, sweet, lazy. I knew when delicious got bought out that the tool was in jeopardy, and sometime after 2011-09-27 they finally turned off the functionality.

Damn damn damn. Now I have actually BLOG stuff. On my blog. That sucks.
I’m checking to see if there are other tools out there that can do the same type of thing. I’m thinking someone should have come up with an tool by now, right?

So, here are some interesting pages I’ve looked at over the last few days….

Cultural Faux Pas: What are some cultural faux pas in New York? – Quora
“Stuff not to do in New York.” I’ll just keep that in mind… no, I won’t. I don’t care.

Kurt Vonnegut at the Blackboard – Lapham’s Quarterly
“But there’s a reason we recognize Hamlet as a masterpiece: it’s that Shakespeare told us the truth, and people so rarely tell us the truth in this rise and fall here [indicates blackboard]. The truth is, we know so little about life, we don’t really know what the good news is and what the bad news is.”

Stop Honour Killings
“The International Campaign Against Honour Killing is a project started by Diana Nammi Director and Founder of London-based charity IKWRO which provides support and protection to women faced with ‘honour’-based violence and forced marriage. The project was established in the aftermath of the murder of Heshu Yones, in a climate of growing awareness of ‘honour’ as an factor in women’s subordination. It was out of this awareness, and the understanding that ‘honour’-based violence, and oppression against women justified in the name of ‘honour’ are widespread, and not confined to any particular group, that the movement towards an international project, to inform journalists, academics and the general public and provide a platform for activists to discuss their methods, opinions and experiences, and to share their campaigns within a community.”

Continue ReadingOh darn – delicious links auto-publishing died

links for 2011-09-07

Continue Readinglinks for 2011-09-07

links for 2011-09-01

Continue Readinglinks for 2011-09-01

Nuvo Arts Blog Writer Chi Sherman

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Speaking of things I’ve been remiss in writing about this year – several months ago, our good friend Chi Sherman became a writer for Nuvo Newsweekly (our local alt weekly, for non-Indy residents.) She’s on the arts/writing/entertainment beat writing about all the cool happenings going on about town, and much of our new awareness of what’s going on in Circle City has been due to her articles and reviews. Among the many things we’ve picked up from her writing: we learned about the vibrant local poetry scene, various cool First Fridays events, the twin renaissances of cultural awareness in Irvington and Fountain Square, and what was going down at the Indy Fringe Festival and at the Spirit and Place Festival. We tried to keep up with her at the beginning going with her while she attended events, shows, openings and celebrations, but the schedule was exhausting, and now we just try to attend something with her once a week or so. The girl is busy.

I’ve mentioned Chi a number of times here, because she’s not just a good friend but also a respected and award-winning poet and writer in the local scene, with some chapbooks and recordings to her name and a bit of a fan club. It’s not unusual to be out to dinner or an event with her and to have people come up to her and gush about her work. It’s pretty cool the first several times it happens, but after a bit, you kinda wanna eat your dinner. 🙂

In addition to being a moving poet, she’s also downright hilarious — like Dorothy Parker funny — and never fails to make me LOL. Add her blog to your feed reader or regular schedule – you won’t regret it. And if you have tips about something you’re working on in the Arts scene – you want her to write about your stuff. Contact her at her blog, or just ask me. I’ve got pull. 🙂

Continue ReadingNuvo Arts Blog Writer Chi Sherman

Fall Television 2010 – What We Picked

In my extended exam of the reviews of new television shows this season, I ran out of space to track what we actually decided to watch. I made a list and we then cut it down to 8 shows – 6 1/2 hours a week.

  1. How I Met Your Mother
  2. The Event
  3. Castle
  4. Glee
  5. NCIS
  6. Modern Family
  7. 30 Rock (and mid-season, Parks and Recreation)
  8. Desperate Housewives

I think The Event is going to be replaced pretty quickly by one of the shows that was on the bubble – NCIS: Los Angeles, Fringe, and Human Target were all candidates. The Office was iffy – Stephanie was for keeping it but I’ve been bored the last couple of seasons and when we missed an episode here and there we weren’t heartbroken.

I’ve just found The Event to be really irritating – I’m not intrigued by any of the characters, and I could tell from the moment that the water rescue happened that it was a con job designed to separate the young couple. I know I must irritate the crap out of Stephanie when I constantly announce “here’s what’s going to happen…” and fifteen minutes later that’s exactly what happens, but I really can’t help it. They may as well put a big flashing arrow on screen that says “Look, a plot point! Guess what it’s there for!” I was a heck of a lot more interested in FlashForward than in the Event, and they did this all the time, but at least had some interesting ideas behind it sometimes.

The first episode of The Event also had so many flashbacks and time jumps that I couldn’t track the time line – “Ten days later”? Ten days from what? The first flashback, or the second, or the third? And I think as Lost proved – just chopping your storyline up and jumbling the pieces may mask that fact that you have no coherent narrative for 7 seasons, but you’ll win no friends when the whole thing comes out. If the producers of Lost came to me with a proposal for a new show, I’d make them tell me the story from beginning to end in order before I let them craft me a pilot, just to prove that they could do it for once. Fool me once, shame on you, but fool me twice…

I’m sure a mystery-driven thriller storyline will succeed in capturing the Lost mystique sometime, but I’ll bet money it will need to be a linear narrative when it does.

Continue ReadingFall Television 2010 – What We Picked

Fall Television 2010 – New Shows

In times past I made big elaborate lists on my blog of the fall television I was going to watch, using the Fall TV Preview issue of Entertainment Weekly as a guide. I formatted the whole list as a table cell grid with times and shows, highlighted what I was going watch, what was new and when shows premiered. A little obsessed I was.

Over time, Entertainment Weekly progressed in their presentation of the Fall TV issue, too. I was thrilled when they started printing the time grids for each day of the week, with new shows highlighted, so I could abandon my online mock-up. I cut out their days, pasted them all together and had a solid television week with my shows highlighted that I kept next to the couch so I could set the VCR, and later the DVR for my programs.

Now EW prints each day’s chart, but also provides a single chart at the end of their fall section with all the days on it, and when all the shows premiere. How handy – rip it out and you’re ready; no cut and paste.

And yet.

It’s hard to deny how much stuff I get done in the summer time when there are fewer new shows on – writing, organizing, walking around the neighborhood or around the city. Stuff done in the yard, time spent with friends, classes in new interests I’ve taken. I proposed to myself that I limit my television viewing to 5 shows this year. Well, maybe 5 hours, to allow for some 30 minute sitcoms. Perusing the fall list – 6 1/2 hours covers shows that we watched last year that I thought might be worth seeing again. Hmmm. More crunching required.

But eliminating new shows from the list wasn’t really hard this year. I’ve said in the past the television was getting better, and it is. Lots of shows have better writing, more plausible characters and plots you can take seriously. There’s lots of goods stuff on.

This year seems really thin, though, judging solely by the write-ups of freshman programs. (I know, I should “watch the shows and give them a chance before judging!” But who the hell has time for that?) Let’s look at what Entertainment Weekly calls the “5 Best New Shows.”

1) Hawaii Five-0
Let me go off on a tangent right away here – I’m so tired of cop shows. Apparently there are 5 main professions on the other side of the TV machine. Cop, lawyer, doctor, spy, and housewife. I know the first four are “high action” professions and the 5th good for relatable family drama, but surely people in other occupations have action in their lives, or family relationships. I wonder if there’s a correlation between people’s perception of current crime statistics and the number of cop shows on television.

Few people make detergent in TV land. Run an aquarium supply store, paint the stripes on the road, work in an unemployment office, design golf courses. All are occupations I’d like to see on my television machine – and maybe urban farmer thrown in. I want to see occupations fundamentally different from mine, only partly because I want to see how people do the stuff they do. Perhaps those jobs would be boring in a documentary, but they’re all interesting enough to drive plot in a scripted drama.

Specifically about this show – Hawaii Five-0 – the actors being interviewed about it are painstaking in their efforts to emphasize how different their show is from other remakes, and from the original. “This is a completely different show for a completely different time. Hopefully, this one is gonna stick,” says star Alex O’Loughlin. Wow, he sounds so convinced himself, doesn’t he? Five bucks says he hasn’t completely unpacked.

And the things they highlight about what’s different and makes this show The One – one of the male characters from the previous version is now female – played by Grace Parks no less, who famously already did that in Battlestar Galactica… Gee that’s creative. Let’s make a guy into a woman! That’s edgy! And they’ve dropped lots of the story lines, but kept the cheesy theme, and the even cheesier signature line – “Book’em, Danno!” I would be waiting all episode for that line to to cringe when I heard it.

2) Lone Star
Let me read you the description, and you tell me what it sounds like to you: “The sharp, understatedly debonair James Wolk is a con man juggling two identities, trying to go straight while also using his skills as a dissembler to succeed in business.”

Did you see what I saw? “Mad Men, but set in the present.” I’m already watching Mad Men done well, I don’t need to see it ripped off.

3) Blue Bloods
“A crackling drama about a family whose members are all involved in law enforcement…” Oy. More cops. And a family, so you know, they can have family drama, too. Why it’s the best of both worlds! Next.

4) Raising Hope
“Raising Hope… makes shrewd everyday-America observations and gets laughs without ridiculing its characters. Lucas Neff’s Jimmy is a twenty-something single dad living with his parents)…”
Hello, “Modern Family” and “$#*! My Dad Says” fusion with Cloris Leachman playing Betty’s White’s comeback role. I’m bored with you just reading your description.

5) Boardwalk Empire
A 1920’s period drama (my interest peaks) about mobsters (and immediately goes away) with Steve Buscemi the lead gangster and romantic figure (I come close to losing my lunch.) Steve Buscemi in romantic situations? Even his WIFE doesn’t want to see that. Can I have Deadwood back, please? If you’re just going to go for another elaborately designed period drama, HBO, fire back up the wild west set. I miss my Calamity Jane. Come on.

Those are the best new shows this season? Wow, the networks really have trouble finding new writers, I guess. Maybe you should consider hiring different kinds of people – like, hey, maybe some women. I hear that Amy Sherman-Palladino has a bunch of good ideas in the hopper. Get her.

And it’s not very hard to play “guess what the pitch was” for the “3 more to keep an eye on” sidebar that Entertainment Weekly also highlights:

1) Undercovers
You don’t have to read the description to see what the pitch was – just look at the promo picture in the article. Man in his boxers and undershirt, women in a white men’s shirt with no pants, both brandishing guns – that’s the movie poster of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie for Mr. and Mrs. Smith. But wait, these two are black. So you read the description to discover – the plot is a black Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

Hell, when I can tell what the pitch for the show was without even reading the description, you really need to change more stuff about the plot you’re lifting wholesale. Really. I like the idea of a black couple leading a show – brava on that one. But the references in the description to the conflict between the two over their job – must we? Can’t we have a couple that actually gets along, where there isn’t relationship drama? You already have drama from being a spy show. You don’t need relationship conflict. The “Nick and Nora” couple who always get along and who’s relationship is based on humor and mutual respect used to be a common sight in movies and occasionally on television. Now that couple scenario seems long dead and I really miss it. I think one show with a couple that sticks together through thick and thin would really hit big if someone would just write it.

The Smiths

Mr. & Mrs. Smith

The Undercovers

The Undercovers

2) No Ordinary Family
Family suddenly gets superpowers. Dad (Michael Chiklis) has super-human strength. Mom gets super speed. Daughter can read minds. Son JJ becomes a genius. The review even namechecks Heroes as an “inspiration” but I see a live-action Incredibles, with a little “Fantastic Four” thrown in. Perhaps the presence of Chiklis is what makes that really noticeable. I like superhero tv shows, but Heroes really makes me too gunshy about this one to try it, especially when they weren’t creative enough to come up with an original idea as a premise.

3) The Event
This is the only one I’m tempted to add to my list at all, and even then, it’s on the bubble. It’s mystery epic along the lines of Lost and FlashFoward. As much as I adore that premise, as I’m complained here in the past – you can’t announce that its a mystery show. You have to let people discover it’s a mystery. Lost was presented as an airplane disaster show. Upon first viewing, people thought it might be referencing 9/11 with the airplane crash, and as the first few episodes aired, they thought it might be a scripted version of Survivor. It wasn’t until that frickin’ monster showed up that people thought was a dinosaur – that’s when they sat up and payed attention. And even then, the theories were all “It’s Land of the Lost!” They landed on a dinosaur island! People actually operated on that theory up until they found the hatch.

Lost had people guessing from the first, and guessing wrongly, with blind alleys all through the first season. Of course, the writers really had no idea what the hell they were going and end it up with “and then they all when to heaven! Amen! The End!” So maybe Lost is not the best role models. But I was with them through the whole thing. Even though it got religious and stupid.

So The Event starts out with a guy who’s girlfriend is missing. That’s small enough, simple enough. But the fact that they’re already advertising that “the president of the united states doesn’t even know what the event is!” does not bode well. I don’t believe in global conspiracies because nobody is bright enough to carry something like that off on a global scale. Even if everyone is smart enough to understand what the point is, once your group gets bigger than a few people, everyone has their own agenda and starts working for themselves anyway.

Hell, people aren’t even bright enough to write good TV shows when they have bunches of people working on them altogether. Nobody anywhere on the staff of these looks up and says “hey, this show is really shite, you know? Why am I here?”

That’s a good question. I think I’ll be somewhere else, at least to start this season. Maybe I’ll hear water cooler buzz and find out I’m wrong about my first impressions.

Continue ReadingFall Television 2010 – New Shows