Archive for June, 2010
We have some good debate going on over at MediaBistro around a recent Fox News report on the concept of closing libraries. Good discussion (really only one person agreeing with Fox’s thesis, but he makes some good points and is as long-winded as me). Check it out and join in, if you’re compelled to get sucked in.
My point is made pretty clear in the discussion, but, in summary:
Public libraries are good and must stay, albeit in a more efficient form.
I am politically agnostic and very much non-partisan. I think, for the most part, that anybody who commits to a party has blinded themselves to half of the realities of the debate, and has bound themselves to back their team no matter the outcome. That’s probably OK in football, not so much in public policy.
I like to pick my battles and form my opinions a la carte, on a case-by-case basis. I’m for gun rights and individual liberty, but against interventionist international policy and having the word “God” on our money and Pledge of Allegiance. I was elected a delegate for Ron Paul in the same year that I voted for Obama. That’s how bi-polar I am, politically. I have no idea which party I’m voting for in November, which, for Nevada, is a big, big election (a Mormon vs a Tea Partier…O Lord, My Load Be Heavy).
As I argued through the points, my reasononing boiled down to this:
The free market works for me, in the middle class, but it does not work for many of those below; and their lives are greatly improved–as are the lives of their children–if they have access to libraries. And I am willing to pay some tax money to help facilitate that. Some fat can probably be cut (my local library is doing a great job there…they only allow automated checkout and kiosk-powered dropoffs. Even book holds are automated), but the core service must remain.
That’s my rant on libraries.
But speaking of rants, you may want to also pop over to the Wylie-Merrick Literary Agency blog and get in on the discussion. They are coming out of the closet as being pro-reading fees for agents. I said my peace as nicely as I could (agents tend to keep tabs on each other, and I’m not ready to burn bridges en masse). Feel free to add your two bits.
I’m not a raving loon…really. I just couldn’t let those questions float without offering an opinion.
I’ve tried and failed to write three blog entries this week. My problem, as those who have read my blog for a while won’t be surprised to hear, is that sometimes I just don’t know when to shut the fuck up. Every short blog entry turns into a novella; it’s a miracle that I can manage to tweet.
I’m working on a new story, and have been slow to build momentum. It’s written in first-person, a stunt I haven’t attempted since my first published tale: Billy Don’t Like Clowns, and I think the cadence is making me work harder than usual.
I think first-person suits me, though. It not only gives you the opportunity to tell a story, but you get to be someone else, get inside of their skin and mind for hours at a time. Therein, I think, lies the problem: how to become someone else on demand without losing yourself in the process. It’s the kind of trick that gets actors labeled as nutjobs and writers locked in asylums. But, if you can pull it off, it can be to great effect.
For my part, the jury is still out on the definition and boundaries of great.
It’s 10:00 pacific on Saturday, and I just watched a great UFC fight—The Ultimate Fighter finals. Those guys have some heart…it takes a lot to commit yourself 100% to what you love, knowing you may never make enough money at it to pay your bills and will irreparably change your life in the process, for good or ill. It’s like writing, except everyone wants to pound your face into ground round.
Congratulations to Court McGee and coach Chuck Liddell for taking the Ultimate Fighter title for the season. And thanks to Keith Jardine for the giggle when Matt Hammill sprayed your blood all over the women wearing expensive dresses in the first 2 rows.
Makes me glad to not be a fighter. Intellectual bruising sucks, but I’m yet to land in the hospital.
I read a post on Media Bistro yesterday that kind of threw me off-balance a bit (side note: I thought the word I wanted here was akimbo; Google image search “akimbo” with safe search turned off, I dare you). The post was about how Dan Brown’s works had surpassed the Bible as the most-highlighted text on the Kindle. My first thought was not, as one may expect, “Gosh, I wonder why that is?”.
No, my first thought was “Why the f**k is Amazon tracking what people highlight?!?”
I have very much been getting the ereader bug again, but I think Amazon just squashed it under their gigantic heel. It makes me question the whole reasoning behind free 3G access on ereaders; even if, as one commenter pointed out, you can shut it off, I can’t help but wonder how explicit it is when you set your device up initially that your data is subject to snooping and marketing and public dissemination?
What an effective way to kill a great thing.
Anyway, Media Bistro have picked up on the real story on highlighting, and quoted my initial rant in a new article. Feel free to stop by and let Amazon know how you feel about being snooped upon while highlighting the best parts of Twilight.
I just–literally, as I was typing this–got a partial request for Amity from a small publishing house I found on QueryTracker. They only wanted ten pages, so it’s kind of a partial-partial, but all I’ve gotten is rejections so far, and I’ll take what I can get. Like Bear Grylls says about the importance of starting a fire at night while stuck in the wilderness: most of the survival game is mental, and you need any lift you can get to keep you going forward.
Amity was a long, hard book to write. (Side discussion: is an unpublished manuscript a book, or a book-in-waiting? Discuss amongst yourselves and meet back here in 5 minutes)
I started it in September of last year and just finished the sixth draft. A couple of folks have offered to beta read, so I may–their schedules willing–get some more editorial feedback. But, nonetheless, I have begun querying it, and until I get outside feedback, I’m done editing that piece. I could almost recite it by memory.
Amity moves pretty fast from scene to scene, and has some pretty heavy content, and although I was able to inject a couple of funny-ish scenes into it, it’s pretty dark (the only personalized feedback I’ve gotten from an agent so far said it was “too bleak” for her list…I’ve since tried to pep up my query letter to reflect the uplifting ending).
I just started another story. I decided that this one needs to be much lighter than Amity. It’s going slowly–I’ve spent so many months editing that I’ve lost me mojo, and I need some serious fingers-on-keys time to get back to speed.
(It’s amazing how fast it goes away; any more than a few days and I can tell my writing suffers.)
Again, slow going, but I’m 1400 words in and have written two mini-scenes that have me chuckle so far, so I guess that’s a good sign.
In other news, I have fallen head over heels for a cello rock band called Rasputina. If you follow Amanda Palmer or Zoe Keating you may already know about this group; if you don’t, they are worth a listen if you’re into…well, what the hell ever kind of band they are. Overdriven cellos, dulcimers, random percussion sounds, and colonial-era goth lyrics are the toolkit, and the dress code is a mix of bodices and Indian headdresses. It’s a ren faire on peyote.
I don’t want to hard link because it changes so often (lesson learned on Gristle and Smoke), but if you are interested, check out “In Old Yellowcake” on YouTube.
Like 99% of the rest of the world, I was geek-struck by the Lord of the Rings movies. I saw each one of the three at minimum three times in the theater, and purchased the DVDs of both the theatrical and director’s cuts, and watched every hour of extras on each disc. Jackson did everything right on those movies.
I was pretty happy to see that he had tapped Gillermo del Toro to direct the bifurcated celluloid version of The Hobbit–I thought Pan’s Labyrinth was a great dark fairytale, and the moody darkness in Hellboy was pretty catchy.
But, apparently, del Toro is out, and if you believe the current press coming out of Hollywood (and, why wouldn’t you…?), Jackson himself is unable to take the helm.
It’s been a long, long time since I read The Hobbit; but I remember it was playful and dark and a bit more childish than the LotR triad. That brings a couple of potential directors to mind:
Top of my wishlist would be Terry Gilliam. In moviemaking, he can do no wrong in my eyes (except The Meaning of Life…it just wasn’t that good, but I blame the early 80s weariness of the Pythons). He has an unmatched artistic vision (Baron Munchhausen), can do dark (Twelve Monkeys, Brazil), playful (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) and has wicked storytelling skills (all of the above).
Second on deck would be Alfonse Cauron, the man who took Harry Potter to dark, multi-layered depths with Prisoner of Azkaban.
I’ve read Tim Burton’s name thrown around in online discussions today. I like Burton, but his work seems to be getting flashier visually, but his storytelling seems to be getting dulled. I think he’s better when he writes his own stories from scratch; given source material (Alice in Wonderland, Planet of the Apes), it doesn’t seem like he reaches as deep as he is capable of. Batman is an exception, but that may have had a lot to do with the dark synergy of Frank Miller and Alan Moore’s re-boot of Batman in the 80s. It was the right time and the right place, and fit Burton’s style perfectly.
All things considered, I suppose the best outcome would be if Jackson can wriggle out of his other commitments (or, if you apply some cynicism, come to the right numbers with Newline and MGM). It would be great to see that same energy and the original team come back together a couple more times.