Left Out

The Star Trek TV series produced many commercial venues for its more popular characters.
The Star Trek TV series produced many commercial venues for its more popular characters.

Poor Dr. Spock

Poor ole Dr. Spock, he got left out of all the good parts. Had to sit on the sidelines all the time and back up Capt. Kirk during all his daring episodes. I guess you can say space exploration isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

Have a Jolly, Jolly Christmas

Christmas Brings Union, A political cartoon from 1887, from Wkikpedia
Christmas Brings Union, A political cartoon from 1887, from Wkikpedia

Strange Word

Jolly is one of those strange words that only seems appropriate during week long holiday period that occurs at the end of each year. In particular in seems tied to one particular fellow….and that is ole Saint Nick, himself. Burl Ives tied his own rotund self with the word, when he released “Holly, Jolly Christmas”, way back in 1965.

Too Much Horror

I enjoyed writing my little Christmas horror story, ( here is the link ) but now that Christmas is almost here, it is time to share a little joy and humour. After all that is what the holiday is all about. (my apologies to anybody that believes that Jesus was actually born on December 25). Besides, there is way too much horror going around in the world today and we may need a break from all those gruesome headlines. This may be fertile and lucrative ground for horror and suspense writers, but the everyday “Joe” ( or Jill ) needs some fun in his life. Following is my small contribution to the holiday mayhem.

Quotes

1. “One thing I learned from drinking is that if you ever go Christmas caroling, you should go with a group of people. And also go in mid-December.” — Louis C.K.

2. “Santa Claus has the right idea. Visit people once a year.”  – Victor Borge

3. “Tis Christmas I’ve decided to put mistletoe in my back pocket, so all the people I don’t like can kiss my ass.” from Pinterest, author unknown

4. “What I don’t like about Christmas parties is looking for a job the next day.”-  Phyllis Diller

5. “Aren’t we forgetting the true meaning of Christmas? You know the birth of Santa.” Matt Groening via Bart Simpson

6. “The one thing women don’t want to find in their stockings on Christmas morning is their husband.” – Joan Rivers

7. “Out upon merry Christmas! What’s Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer…? If I could work my will,” said Scrooge indignantly, “every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ upon his lips should be boiled with his won pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. He should!” – Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

8. “There has been only one Christmas — the rest are anniversaries.” – W.J. Cameron

9. “I don’t mind fruitcakes. They’re the one thing during the holidays I’m not tempted to eat.” – Melanie White

10. “The two most joyous times of the year are Christmas morning and the end of school.” – Alice Cooper

11. “I once bought my kids a set of batteries for Christmas with a note on it saying: ‘Toys not included.’ ” – Bernard Manning

12. “I felt overstuffed and dull and disappointed, the way I always do the day after Christmas.” – Sylvia Plath

13. “It snowed last year too: I made a snowman and my brother knocked it down and I knocked my brother down and then we had tea.” – Dylan Thomas, A Child’s Christmas in Wales

14. “The Four Stages of Life.

          a. You believe in Santa Claus.

          b. You don’t believe in Santa Claus.

         c. You are Santa Claus.

         d. You look like Santa Claus.”      from Pinterest, author unknown

Resistance Is Futile (and other casual musings from the world of Sci-Fi)

Star Trek Encounters the Cube of Borg
Star Trek Encounters the Cube of Borg

This much used sci-fi quotation actually was first used by Dr. Who, not the Borg. The Borg is only the latest in a long line of alien entities to issue such an ultimatum to an inferior force. On a more humorous note check out President Obama as a Borg like creature in the caricature spoof at the bottom of the page. In a similar mode, I have included a collection of 13 quotes from both sci-fi writers and sci-fi movie characters. Check these out and see how they differ.         Henri B

Locutus from the Borg in the Star Trek movie
Locutus from the Borg in the Star Trek: First Contact movie

 

1. “I’m sorry, Dave, I’m afraid I cant do that.” – HAL 9000, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

2. “Are you telling me you built a time machine… out of a Delorean?” – Marty McFly, Back to the Future (1985)

3. “It is curious how often you humans manage to obtain that which you do not want.”   SPOCK, Star Trek: The Original Series, “Errand of Mercy”

4. “In my experience there is no such thing as luck.” by Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope

5. “Quite an experience to live in fear, isn’t it? That’s what it is to be a slave.” -Roy Batty, Blade Runner

6. “(I’m) from another planet. Let’s just say that we’re neighbors.”  Klaatu, The Day the Earth Stood Still

7. “If you’re going to make a science fiction movie, then have a hover craft chase, for God’s sake.”  by Joss Whedon

8. “Hey doll, is this guy boring you? Come and talk to me. I’m from a different planet.” — Zaphod Beeblebrox in Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

9. “Destiny always seems decades away, but suddenly it’s not decades away; it’s right now. But maybe destiny is always right now, right here, right this very instant, maybe.” — Brother Joshua in A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller.

10.  “Do…..or do not. There is no try.” Yoda,  in The Empire Strikes Back

11. Imagination is the key to my lyrics. The rest is painted with a little science fiction.” by Jimi Hendrix

12.  “I realize that command does have its fascination, even under circumstances such as these, but I neither enjoy the idea of command nor am I frightened of it. It simply exists, and I will do whatever logically needs to be done.”   SPOCK, Star Trek: The Original Series, “The Galileo Seven”

13. “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” -Philip K. Dick

Obama as a  Borg and Resistance Is Futile
Obama as a Borg and Resistance Is Futile

 

 

 

60 Minutes and the N-word

Book Cover for first edition of Huckleberry Finn
Book Cover for first edition of Huckleberry Finn

I have a confession to make. I am not very comfortable using the N-word. I have heard the word all my life, used in all types of situation that vary from a Richard Pryor stand-up routine to the other end of spectrum, where the six-letter noun is used to put somebody down. And yes the word (at least in my experience) can be applied to anybody, though the most common usage might still occur, when it is directed towards black people from other races. Now that I have gotten this matter off my typing fingers, I can address the issue that 60 minutes raised. And that is the publication of a new version of Mark Twain’s classic, “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”, where the word, “nigger” has been changed to slave throughout the text.

The publisher for the “new” edition is called New South and the  book is now available and selling well. New South is a book publisher located in Montgomery, Alabama and the reason for changing the offensive language was to make the book for available for classroom usage, especially in pre-college situations. I do not have a problem with this alternative version, as long as readers are aware that the language has been changed. However, if this new edition were to become the norm, and the original version were to become the exception, more would be lost than gained. 60 Minutes did a nice job of airing the debate including interviews with proponents, opponents and high school English teachers, who teach the book in their American literature classes.

Quebec Road Signs

 

Waterfront Warning In Gaspe Region Of Quebec
Waterfront Warning In Gaspe Region Of Quebec

This summer I had the privilege of making a solo bicycle journey from Boston, Massachusetts to Ottawa, Canada. However, I should mention that I did not take a direct route, as this picture from the Gaspe region demonstrates. As far as cycling goes, I have not encountered a more scenic route than the coastal highway 132 that runs from Sainte-Anne-des-Monts east towards Madeleine. Not only is the road very scenic, but also the route is flat, a definite plus for cyclists. The only drawback is a rare storm or rogue wave that might wash moving vehicles into the ditch. Here is a close-up of the sign.

Warning Sign In The Gaspe
Warning Sign In The Gaspe

I while I’m at it, here are some other similar signs that I encountered on my trip. The next one was found just south of Quebec city and was intended as a warning against a bump in the road, not low-flying balloons.

 

Ambiguous sign near Quebec City
Ambiguous sign near Quebec City

And finally last but not least, here is a tractor warning sign that was observed in the Petite Nation of Quebec, a small rural region, located just north and east of Ottawa.

 

Tractor Warning Sign In Le Petite Nation of Quebec
Tractor Warning Sign In Le Petite Nation of Quebec

Super Bowl Haiku

Mt. Fuji and The Sea off Satta by Utagawa Hiroshige
Mt. Fuji and The Sea off Satta by Utagawa Hiroshige

Applying poetry to sports is not an unheard of event, but it is a literary activity that is not usually applied to football. However, an opportunity recently arose to write a piece of Haiku about the upcoming Super Bowl, which features a contest between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers. The popular sporting event is scheduled on Sunday and will be played at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas barring any unusual weather events or meteorites dropping out of the sky.

Haiku is an interesting form of short poetry, originally associated with Japan, but now popular in the English-speaking world as well. In this type of writing a short poem is created using just three lines of text. Each line has a designated number of syllables and rhyming isn’t necessary. The first and last lines each contain five syllables, while the middle phrase bears seven. Traditionally, Haiku portrays two juxtaposing images, which when combined, should reveal irony, humor and awareness.

In Japan, Haiku was often used to express some of the tenets of  Zen awareness, along with detached observations and comments on everyday life. In America, Haiku has become a popular method of reflecting our national past time, baseball, but associating this poetic structure with football is much less common. Perhaps this will change in the future.

Recently, I wrote several Haiku in honor of Super Bowl LXV, which is due to be played early on Sunday evening. One was published at Associated Content and the other two I have included with this post. Hope you enjoy.

Poem  #1

As the pack returns

Strong resistance heeds their path

The trophy is theirs

Poem #2

Heads clash in Dallas

The sound echoes everywhere

Then there is silence

A Lesson In Screenwriting

Movie Poster for the Hangover
Movie Poster for the Hangover

Why anyone would become a screenwriter is beyond me. The competition is cutthroat, the clients have too much money and it seems like insiders always have the upper hand. The fact that a few free-spirited and successful screenwriters even exist within the politics and shenanigans of Tinseltown is sheer testimony to human perseverance and the strength of spirit.

One recent film (2009) which suggests that nespotism and in-fighting may not be as bad among Hollywood writers as commonly believed is the very funny Las Vegas romp, called “The Hangover”. If you missed the theatrical release, check out the DVD issue, for it is a great lesson in screenwriting, not to mention good entertainment.

Since the opening scene is pulled from near the end of the movie, most of the movie feature is flashback. This type of literary device has been tried before, but the skill that screenwriters Jon Lucas and Scott Moore ( Ghosts of Girlfriends Past) show in their latest endeavor is just one of the reasons to watch this entertaining piece of cinema. By now the premise is well-known, whereabouts three participants of a wild bachelor party come-to on the morning after with several complexing problems to solve besides their Mt. Everest-sized hangover. The foremost question staring them in the face is how did they get so messed up, but also of importance is what has happened to the missing groom. Compounding the issue is why is there a tiger in the bathroom and where did the baby in the closet come from. From this point on the movie becomes an epic journey through Vegas by three young males in search of what really happened.

All in all the movie is a wild, sometimes satirical romp through Vegas, filled with many surprising twists and turns. Check it out, you’ll like it.

Las Vegas Strip; Personal Photo by Kcferret of the Las Vegas Sign. June 2005
Las Vegas Strip; Personal Photo by Kcferret of the Las Vegas Sign. June 2005

Gonzo, the Movie

gonzo sundance
gonzo sundance

I guess I just can’t enough of Hunter Thompson. Since I just finished the book last week, I’ve gone out and rented the movie. If you like Hunter Thompson you’ll probably like the movie. Even if you are lukewarm or so-so about the the departed rascal, you still might enjoy the documentary. The film really is a good glimpse into the times that made Hunter famous.

Complete with interviews by George McGovern, Pat Buchanon, Jann Wenner, Jimmy Carter, Hunter’s two wives and of course Hunter himself, the two hour trip through nostalgia land is a fun ride that will come to its sad climax before you know it.

Accented by film clips of the Chicago Convention riots, Hell’s Angels, Hunter in Aspen and Las Vegas, Gonzo does an in-depth analysis of the man, who made fear and loathing, a pair of household words. Johnny Depp does the narration, but after a short time you kind of forget that Johnny is there, for the content is strong enough to stand on its own. There are even some clips of a pre-teen Gonzo and a fascinating appearance on the TV Game show, To Tell The Truth, where all four panelists guessed that he was the mad journalist who wrote the book, Hell’s Angels.

So if you haven’t got much to do on a weekday night give the two hour DVD disk a spin on your DVD player you’ll like it. Here’s another image of Hunter, taken by Al Satterwhite and used by Vanity Fair.

Hunter Thompson in Cozumel by Al Satterwhite
Hunter Thompson in Cozumel by Al Satterwhite

Sherman Alexie Wins Pen/Faulkner Award

Sherman Alexie, photo coutesy of Wikipedia Commons

“I think white folks should be ashamed that it’s taken an Indian to save part of their culture.” Sherman Alexie, while appearing on the Steve Colbert show.

Today it was announced that Sherman Alexie has won the prestigious Pen/Faulkner Award for fiction, which comes complete with a $15,000 financial attachment. His most recent literary effort called “War Dances”, a collection of short stories, essays and poems is the chief reason for the presentation. The Pen/Faulkner award is the largest peer chosen prize offered in the United States and Mr. Alexie is the first Native American recipient of the award.

Sherman is the author of many novels, short stories and poems. In fact, his last book, which was entitled The Absolute True Autobiography of a Part-time Indian received a national book award for Young Adult fiction. This novel is the straightforward, first-person account of a young teenager, who decides to leave the reservation to attend high school in a nearby farming community in eastern Washington. The book is unique in the large number of drawings and illustrations that accompany text, yet overall effort falls way short of being classified as a graphic novel.

Sherman Alexie is not a newcomer to the book world, for he has been trailblazing around the U.S. for at least the last decade promoting his books and talking to audiences of all sizes at bookstores in all parts of the country. In a recent appearance on the Steve Colbert show (see the video) Sherman talks in detail about his experiences on the road and the current struggle of the printed page to keep its audience. He describes his book tours, “I was a storyteller around a fire…. it was a metaphorical fire inside a bookstore.”

Then Alexie goes on to describe his last book tour, where he was promoting the same publication that earned him the Pen Award; “I went to a lot of afternoon matinees. The local media for books is gone.” Keep in mind that “War Dances” was published in 2009 and that this last book tour occurred within the last six months.

On a more positive  note, check out this Globe and Mail article, entitled “The Book Isn’t Dead Yet.”

Then again the Brits have always been bigger readers than the Anglos in the U.S. and Canada.

Mispelled Wurds and Why Your Cat Might Want To Kill You

Cat's Eye
Cat's Eye by Guylaine Brunet courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

There was a great post today over at BookEnd’s concerning ten words to stop misspelling. I even think misspelling was one of the mispelled words. But the best thing about the 10 misspelled wurds is that they were part of a poster published by the Oatmeal Company. You can see the poster here,; its very funny.

Now for those of you who constantly search the web, you might have encountered the Oatmeal Company, for many places have posted guidelines for submitting ideas to this company. I think they are looking specifically for writers, who could come up with good material for greeting cards, but they have great titles for their posters as well. I visited them today, and my favorite was one entitled, How To Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting To Kill You. This web page is definately worth a visit.

And the really funny thing about the whole poster is that it is all absolutely true. Anyone who has either owned a cat or just lived under the same roof with one, will quickly understand that all the examples are truly based on a deep understanding of animal behavior, especially cat psychology.

So, for all your writers, especially those that can handle comedy, and have not fared so well in the slush pile, there is the greeting card market eagerly waiting with outstretched arms. Sounds like fun, think I’ll try writing some jingles tomorrow.

In the meantime godd luck and don’t despair Ground Hog’s Day is just around the corner.

E. Autumn

P.S. Here is a picture of a Galician cat from Spain and a look inside it’s diabolical mind, coutesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Gato_en_Marin
Gato en Marin (Galiza) by Beninho