Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti

Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA) has some reservations about the administration's intervention in Libya. Fair enough; so do I.

"Where does it stop?" he asks. "Do we go into Africa next?"

It should be noted that Marino is on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the House subcommittee on issues related to U.S. policy in Africa.

So in light of his position, let's ponder those words again, shall we?

"Where does it stop??

Do we go into Africa next?"

Bless the rains, Congressman. Bless the rains.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The cubes are up!







Plotting Against Myself

I've always had a problem with plots. Or specifically, when I start writing, I have an awfully hard time getting things moving from the exact moment I'm writing about. I always think of a little more to say about a situation, or an odd thought that enters a character's head that I want to capture, and...just wind up stuck. Sometimes I just can't get out of my own way. Especially since I like to play fast and loose with ideas, always willing to shove one out the door in case a better one comes along -- leading me to not quite commit to any of them at times.

It ain't great, believe me.

So today, nearing the end of my first draft (I'm this close to the 100K mark, and estimate only 3 or 4 chapters to go), I took a break from putting one foot in front of the other and instead opened up a separate file and wrote about the end of the book as if I'd just read it. Since I couldn't quite put my finger on what should happen in it, I just decided, why not think about it as if it'd already happened? And lo and behold, I've discovered some elements to the ending that should give it a few more wrinkles, and (ta-dah!) actually make it satisfying. Which was a big worry, believe me.

One big help: On the way to the coffee shop, I heard an episode of Radiolab in which Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) was talking about a conversation she had about the creative process with Tom Waits. And Waits would sometimes treat his songs that weren't quite coming together like recalcitrant kids. He'd walk around the studio, talking to the songs, threatening and cajoling, saying "All the rest of us are in the car, we're all going on vacation, and if you're not ready in ten minutes we're leaving without you." Love that guy!

Anyway, that helped me put things in a little perspective for me. Just gotta attack things from a different angle every now and then. Get out of my own way, and treat the plot as a fait accompli.

Still need to figure out a title, but one thing at a time, I guess.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Today's Slice of Awesome

Glass artist Mike Kelley has, for the last decade or so, been creating duplicates of  the Bottle City of Kandor from Superman comics.

As every schoolchild knows, Kandor was a Krypton city shrunk by Brainiac before the planet exploded. It's full of miniature Kryptonians, who lack superpowers because of the artificial red sun and gravity in the bottle.

And the idea that there's a fifty-dollar art book full of photos of these amazing recreations of the tiniest awesome city ever -- and that book is featured in The New York Times -- is blowing my mind.We live in an age of wonders.

(More context here and here.)

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Best Thing About Alzheimers Is You're Always Meeting New People

So the other day I started listening to Pandora. I hadn't done that for a while, but I've started to build a station that I really like. I centered it on Tom Waits, and after about a day, I added Ray Charles as a second seed, to give the station a little more melody and swing. A few days later, I added Taj Mahal and Greg Brown, enriching the station's blues and singer-songwriter content. I need to add a female artist or two, just to broaden the scope of vocalists, but I haven't decided who'd fit in yet. I'm currently leaning toward Rickie Lee Jones.

Anyway, one thing I noticed is that whenever a Greg Brown would start to play, the screen would give me a biography of Bill Morrissey.* Who is awesome, but nonetheless is not Greg Brown. This happened a few times, and when I mentioned it to Kathy, she said that she'd noticed it, too, when she listened at work.

So I wrote the Pandora people, mentioning the problem. And one of them wrote back the very next day, saying he'd pass the problem along to one of their content guys. But the e-mail came back to me with the exact subject heading I'd used: "Greg Brown/Bill Morrissey." So I opened the e-mail eagerly, thinking "Hell yes, I'll go to that! When are they playing?"

It took one day for me to forget all about my own e-mail... and now all I can think about is how much I'd like to see a concert that never existed.


*Incidentally, Greg Brown's "The Poet Game" just popped up on Pandora, so I was able to spell-check Morrissey's name. The wheels of progress move slow sometimes.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Marvel Declares War on...30 Rock?

Say what you want about Marvel, but they have a great nose for publicity.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Third Branch, Once Removed

I was reading an article about the Supreme Court (or SCOTUS, for Supreme Court of the United States), and realized that we really need a second, slightly lesser court to pitch in when there's a pressing issue and the Supremes are out of session. Like the Legion of Substitute Heroes. It could be called the Supreme Court Reserve. Or SCROTUS, for short.

Yes, it's pathetic that I've come back from hiatus just to share that with you. You should have a long, hard think about raising your standards.