I’m with J.I. It seems most of the second half of my life has been devoted unlearning the craft of writing. Despite having written millions of words in all manner of forms, creative writing remains tedious, if not downright torturous. When I write a short story, I can easily compile four or five drafts before it starts to look okay. My current novel underwent seven month-long revisions. Now I love to write, but this is too much. Hoping to short-circuit this busywork, I decided to perform an experiment on a human subject. I would observe myself writing to pinpoint where it bogs down by drafting a mini-scene and taking note of what I had to do to whip it into shape. Prompted by a short story I’m having trouble with, this text popped out of my head:
In honor of the French Presidential election and its resonance to our recent none-of-the-above presidential plebiscite, here’s a replay of my own October Surprise (with apologies to rap artists everywhere).
Come election time you’ll need some wine
to swallow the sorrow you’ll feel on the morrow
so bring the gang over to get a hangover
and to choose where to stand when the shit hits the fan
After taking the pitch, pick the creep or the witch
They say we must choose and that choice is a snooze
‘cause she’s almost adorable and he’s simply deplorable
and if he gets in the Russkies will win
Like, the media lingers on the size of his fingers
and so cheerfully rambles ‘round her various scandals
and if that nice David Brooks calls The Donald a schnook
is he not willingly chilling and shilling for Hillary?
The press treats her acidly but ignores her mendacity
and just like he’s saying, the pundits are braying
with perfidious chatter for his head on a platter
using words that were jiggered by invisible riggers
Whoever you choose you’re just gonna lose
so let’s take a gander at pols who don’t pander
with idiot tweets that ain’t got no meat
to get some advices on the roots of our crises
Now the Greens and Libs don’t traffic in fibs
but the press tunes them out, assuming a rout
without full disclosure they black out exposure
of third-party voices that offer us choices
We got Libertarians, the disestablishmentarians
who say wars are disasters and the Fed is our master
ignore Gary’s Aleppo—he’s not really a schleppo
he stands for the principle that profit’s invincible
The Green Party platform is more than reformist
and Jill isn’t green—she knows what we’ve seen
it’s one-party rule that takes us for fools
and corruption galore we can’t take anymore
So here’s to Ralph Nader and whatever crusader
will take on the system and help us resist ‘em
we’ll end the asaillance of domestic surveillance
and stop them from spending for wars without endings.
So do unto them or they’ll do unto you
there’s so much to do but do it will who?
just look in the mirror to see your new savior
and don’t kick the bucket before you say PHUCKIT
@audio: author’s voiceover of Sage of Wisdom from Exile, CCC by Seclorance
Now that the Supreme Court has legalized political bribery and isn’t likely to overrule itself, seems to me the best course of action is to convince high-rollers that making huge political donations is not in their own best interest. Yet another Cowbird reprint, in honor of freshman Justice Gorsuch.
Mark Twain once said “Civilization is the multiplication of unnecessary necessities.” He himself was a gadget freak who lost sums of money investing in goofy inventions but what would he say these days? Had this happened to him he probably would have written a letter too. Another Cowbird story.
When it comes to exotic foods I’m willing to try almost anything once. (Sometimes more than once; I’ve eaten over 100 species of mushrooms, 90% of which I picked myself.) And I remember being the only American at a conference in Manila once who was willing to chow down balut (hard-boiled duck embryos sold by street vendors working for duck abortion mills). They were sort of okay if heavily salted and washed down with quantities of San Miguel beer, and while I wouldn’t deem the taste indescribable I doubt you want me to go on about it.
In my never ending quest for exotic foodstuffs, every few months I stop by my favorite Asian supermarket to stock up on quirky condiments, sauces and spices, and replenish my ingredients for my healthful morning mushroom, ginseng, and ginger tea. (That morning slug may be the only healthful thing I do most days.) My mammoth mart is run by Chinese but features foodstuffs from all over East Asia, fresh, frozen, dried, pickled, and salted. There’s a huge fish counter featuring live prawns, frogs, and mollusks and three guys chopping, filleting, and gutting at least 20 kinds of fish (eels too!), a meat counter that I tend to avoid, and a selection of fowl that includes head-on chickens and ducks, gizzards, feet, tongues, squabs, sparrows, and some weird black-fleshed chickens I tried once and didn’t care for. (I hope the color isn’t something they put in their feed.) Continue reading “Food for Thuột”
[A little-known Star Wars fact: As an apprentice Jedi, Yoda paid his dues by serving as a technical writer. The following text is the first part of the only example of his work that has wormholed its way to us. It’s a user’s manual for installing, calibrating and using the software that light sabers need to function. In addition to his other formidable exploits, Yoda as a great technical communicator remembered will be.]
For purchasing Light Saber Toolbox®, thank you. For any application of a light saber—even opening packages—essential it is. Simple and pleasurable this guide the installation and operation of the toolbox makes. In it you find
Background – About your light saber
Installation – How the code to bootstrap
Control Logic – General operating principles
User Interfaces – Two of them, your choice
Self-Tests and Diagnostics – If trouble you encounter
Among many other federally funded programs, aid to state and local law enforcement has taken hits from the GOP’s budget axe. In response to cries from conservative lawmakers that reducing criminal justice subsidies could unleash a crime wave, the Trump Administration filed legislation to take up the slack by initiating a new program called the Citizens Law Enforcement Assistance and Revitalization Act, or CLEAR.
The draft legislation authorized any US citizen of majority age without a criminal record to terminate any US resident having a criminal record or who is in the country illegally. After liberal lawmakers objected that this would be discriminatory, a compromise was reached. The revised bill eliminated the criminal record condition but exempted persons under the age of 21 from being targeted. Illegal aliens, however, were not exempted. Continue reading “Support Your Local Police”
Having written a subversive action novel focused on terrorism that some early readers indicated would make a great movie, I gave the project some thought and soon concluded that my story was a natural for film adaptation. It has a simple, linear plot with subplots to spare and at least half of its settings were real places I hadn’t had to make up, with sharp, luminous details.
Suspecting that there was more to this I needed to know, I straightaway dove into the turbulent and treacherous waters of screenwriting, only to surface gasping over how ginormous and competitive, how overflowing with talent, copy, and productions the screenplay marketplace is. Not to mention the secondary markets for script consultants, synopsizers, agents, contests, how-to books, DVDs, webinars, and software products wanting to help you write screenplays that sell. Emerging from my brief and bewildering dip into these waters, it was closeup clear that to navigate a course to celluloid I needed to consult sage practitioners of the art. Continue reading “Lights! Camera! Aristotle!”