Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I'm Blocked

Cover of "Kill Your Darlings"Cover of Kill Your DarlingsOr not. Some would tell you that there's no such thing as Writer's Block. Ok, me, and Lynn Mamet for two. And yes, she is related to David. From what she told me, he stole her toys as a kid. I have to wonder if that led to well, any episode of, The Unit.  So, what is it, exactly?

As previously discussed, we can't really quantify what it is. But I digress, as Peter David is fond of saying, or as of this writing, writing. What we do know is simply this: If you think you're blocked, that's the problem. You're thinking. Don't do that. Or this, or, the other thing.

Lest these look like morning pages, let me assure you, I'm writing this in the afternoon. And I may have to take a break soon, as someone from my alleged family will want the computer. I'm not alleging that I have a family, but a computer.

The first time I heard the phrase, "Writer's block" I pictured one of those blocks I had as a kid, with letters on up to six of the sides, maybe one of them had a picture of a toy. Or a duck. Why a duck? Why not a chicken? Ask Harpo, he might know. And if you haven't seen A Day at the Races, run right out to your Netflix queue, and rent it. I'm not affiliated with either Netflix or The Marx Brothers, I just thought you might enjoy it. And make sure to bet two dollars on Sun Up.

So, if we are to assume that I'm right, and I don't know why we wouldn't, it follows that you may have written something that you've thought about for a long time, and it's so brilliant that you can't write anything after, simply because none of that could compete. Or, it's ugly, however, you took the time to write it, and you don't want to get rid of it.
I once read a book, by Max Allan Collins, called Kill Your Darlings.  It's a mystery, about well, Bouchercon. Which may or may not be relevant to this rant. Basically, it's a book convention, where authors and publishers and fans go to promote, sell and buy, books. Which may be obsolete  by the time you read this, according to Seth Godin.

The phrase is relevant, simply because, at one point our hero is told to get rid of things that don't forward the plot. This also helps him solve the mystery of who shot whom, or of whom was shot, not sure.  It's a good thing. He stopped thinking, and started doing.

Procedurally, when writing, find chair, plant yourself in front of computer, and start writing. Don't stop. You'll find this method will make your stack of writer's blocks tumble down.

72 and sunny in Redondo Beach.

e You next time.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Finnegan Factor

Shore Leave (Star Trek: The Original Series)Image via WikipediaThis is beginning to be a theme for this blog, actually. Another lesson from Star Trek, specifically the episode Shore Leave. Written by Theodore Sturgeon, no less. He of Sturgeon's Law fame. I'm beginning to believe that it's a conservative estimate, actually.

Where to begin, as all circular stories tend to take a point on the circumference of the circle, and move either clockwise or counterclockwise around it, until of course you get back to the point at where you started; meaning, I can't begin the beguine, as it were.

The beginning would goto the larger issue of, why are we here? As opposed to well say, there? The crew discovers what appears to be an uninhabited planet, while at the same time, needing rest from what we don't actually know, maybe what they went through last week. I don't actually know, simply because they gave the Stardates out of order.

McCoy and Sulu are on the planet, and report seeing lifeforms, where no lifeforms were previously scanned. Odd. Or, strange. Kirk beams down to investigate. Sulu finds a gun, specifically an 'old fashioned' police special, which he was thinking about previous, and amazingly, found 'over there.' Meanwhile, Kirk meets two people from his academy days, Ruth, and Finnegan. Ruth may very well be Dr. Marcus from Star Trek II, however, that's not specifically mentioned in the episode, and furthermore, not the topic of this rant.

Finnegan is a practical joker, not to be confused with, The Joker, from Kirk's past. Kirk was always the butt of Finnegan's jokes. He first encounters Finnegan in the glade, and the taunting continues. A punch is exchanged, and then Kirk has to runoff, in order to find out why a Yeoman is screaming. He again encounters Finnegan toward the end, when he's almost figured out what's going on. What takes about 3 minutes of fighting occurs, interspersed with some witty and relevant dialogue, the most memorable of which is, "You stupid underclassman. I'm still 20 years old, and you're an old man!!" If we are to assume that Captain Kirk is, what, 29, or more likely, 32 at this point, it means he was a freshman, or 17 when he entered the academy.

You'd think I'd remember more of this episode, having just viewed it in its entirety at the above mentioned link, however, I guess I'm suffering from what Kirk was suffering from, at least in this ep. To keep up with everything, both online and off, one must have the wisdom and the knowledge of both Kirk, and Finnegan. The Kirk and Finnegan part of the storyline ends when Kirk finally beats up Finnegan, as it's something that he's always wanted to do.

To wit: People were here before the 'net. And those that would declare the net or the web, dead, are most likely to miss the point. The technology may change, however, people remain the same. Everything I learned in high school is apparently still true today.

72 and sunny in Redondo Beach.

As always, adjust your expectations accordingly.

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Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Muses

c. 1640-1645Image via Wikipedia

All nine of them. The original three mentioned below, shown here. The dictionary.com definition of Muse as opposed to the Wikipedia definition if you follow the link, is as follows:

any of a number of sister goddesses, originally given asAoede (song), Melete (meditation), and Mneme(memory), but latterly and more commonly as the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne who presided over various arts

  1. Calliope
  2. Clio
  3. Erato
  4. Euterpe
  5. Melpomene
  6. Polyhymnia
  7. Terpsichore
  8. Thalia, and last, but certainly not least;
  9. Urania

Calliope (Calliopeia), the "Fair Voiced" and the eldest Muse, is the muse of epic poetry and is seen holding a writing tablet in hand, sometimes seen with a roll of paper or a book, and crowned in gold. Calliope is known for taking a fancy to Achilles and taught him how to cheer his friends by singing at banquets. She also was called by Zeus to mediate the quarrel between Aphrodite and Persephone over possession of Adonis. She settled the dispute by giving them equal time, providing Adonis some sorely needed free time to himself. By Apollo, she bore Linus, who was slain by Hercules, and Orpheus. Clearly, she had a lot to sing about....

Clio the "Proclaimer" is the muse of history and is often seen sitting with a scroll and accompanied by a chest of books. She has been credited with introducing the Phoenician alphabet into Greece. Clio had teased Aphrodite's love of Adonis, and in consequence of her wrath, Clio fell in love with Pierius, the son of Magnes and the king of Macedonia. By Pierus, she bore Hyacinth.

Erato the "Lovely" is the muse of love poetry and mimicry, and is seen with a lyre and sometimes wears a crown of roses. From here we get the term eros love, actually.

Euterpe the "Giver of Pleasure" is the muse of music and is represented with a flute. It has been said she is the inventor of the double flute. By the river Strymon, she bore Rhesus (no relation to the monkey) who was slain at Troy.

Melpomene the "Songstress" is the muse of tragedy in spite of her joyous singing and is represented by the tragic mask. She is sometimes seen with garland, a club and a sword. She is often seen wearing cothurnes, boots traditionally worn by tragic actors, and a crown of cypress. So, if you ever meet a woman with a boatload of shoes, she should be considered a tragic character. Aren't they all? :)

Polyhymnia (Polymnia), "She of Many Hymns," is the muse of Sacred Poetry and is seen with a pensive look upon her face. She brings distinction to writers whose works have won them immortal fame. She has also been called the Muse of geometry, mime, meditation and agriculture. Polyhymnia is often veiled.

Terpsichore the "Whirler" is the muse of dancing and is often seen dancing with her lyre and a plectrum, an instrument used for plucking stringed instruments. By the river god Achelous, she bore the Sirens. Those on So You Think You Can Dance are most likely inspired by her.

Thalia (Thaleia) the "Flourishing" is the muse of comedy and of playful and idyllic poetry, and is seen with a comic mask. She is sometimes seen with a crown of ivy and a crook. By Apollo, Thalia had the Corybantes, priests who castrated themselves in identification with the goddess, Cybele.

Urania the "Heavenly" is the muse of astronomy and is represented by a staff pointed at a celestial globe. She foretells the future by the position of the stars. So, if you know any astrologists, they probably worship her.

Inspiration is a funny and fickle thing. Recently, I met the living embodiment of all nine Muses, and my life will never be the same. I hope you will enjoy the dramatic left turn my life has taken with me.

72 and sunny in Redondo Beach.

Adjust your expectations accordingly.

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