Friday, November 19, 2010

American Film Trends

BEHOLD, the results of painstaking Netflix research!

  • LOUD music shall herald thy emotions - fear, anger, desire, disgust, amusement at Tom Cruise doing an accent (or Keanu Reeves doing anything).
  • Silence = enemy. Too much time to wonder why you're watching.
  • Physical activity (ie, blood, guts, 'romance') means People Being Real - Heaven knows you can't trust what they SAY.
  • British accents pinch-hit for anyone 'foreign', Russian accents for 'sinister', Italian accents for 'violent', and bad Southern accents for 'stupid'.
  • Media reps are selfish deadline-driven hags with no Personal Space Quotient, unless investigating crime, or bringing a corporate demon to justice.
  • RomComs' (Romantic Comedies) base begins with Overstressed Achiever Girl meets Underachieving Cool Bloke, slather on loathing of Bloke until he Speaks Truth, someone Lies, and Kissing+ makes it all better. Season with Precocious Kid or Comforting Mum.
  • People in dire poverty have their own abode, car and cell phone. (Exception - historical pieces and "The Pursuit of Happyness".)
  • Magic helps those in need. There will ALWAYS be a bunker with guns and ammo handy for revenge, or a tool/gun/glass shard available as you scrabble around in a deserted place, especially if your attacker has superior weapons in hand. He will wait til you stab him.
  • Mean People will be killed, unless there are extenuating circumstances - ie, your girlfriend was nabbed by terrorists so you have to 'confiscate' someone's ride without time to explain. (If you apologize as you confiscate, they will know it's a Good Cause Theft.)
  • Herald Seduction Techniques with the woman in red, lest the man become confused -
    "Is she here for conversation? Or business?".
  • Large muscles turn on women. Large boobs turn on men. Don't get them confused, thinking that Large Butts are the new wave.
  • If you are attacked by a group, they will politely spring at you one by one. Their subconcious knows that they are merely Stick Figures of Defeat; YOU are Steven Seagal.
  • If all lights are off, the Universe emits an eerie blue glow to help out the cameramen.
  • Trees are great for asking advice, lakes for man-eating critters, wildlife are cute and humans are Large Consumption Machines of Doom for the persecuted planet.
  • Every belief has beauty, and it helps everyone who just needs to follow their heart by standing in a group and applauding their efforts at truth, unless it's the sort of truth that requires change. Then it's OK to expose their hypocrisy of standing against YOUR truth.
  • Love means hugs and patience and suffering if you're a parent or grandparent. Love means saying hard truths if you're a child. Love means bedding someone when you 'come of age'.

Add your own observations below!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cheezburger Kitteh Poetry

Ah trahd to wirte pomes
Bout dargons n sech
But all ah could think of
Wuz kittehs to ketch

...Cuz they iz all heer
Fuzzy an purren'
En dargons iz messeh
With virginz en lurin'
Them off to cavez
Thout sayin' a wurd
To they mammies en pappies
En cute leetel burdz.

So ah leeve it 'lone
That wirtin' of pomes
To others whoz hankrin'
To put zem en tomes.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

More Bad Poetry!

Snifty, snufty,
Small and tufty,
That's what Rizzos are to me.

Here a little,
There a little,
Rizzos give me gobbets of glee.

Get it,
Got it,
Rizzos are the way to be!

I challenge anyone to come up with worse poetry in honour of their friends. :)


Friday, August 20, 2010

Procrastination and the Donald Miller "Living a Better Story" seminar

The life I HAVE lived is a lot like the first half of this berry-picking episode. More on my future life below.

At first glance, berry-picking seems simple – buy plastic yellow buckets, drive a few miles, grab the fruit, fun in the sun. So the great day arrives, and your Special Person shows up for a great gab in the car and a Starbucks run. Adventure! Excitement! Finally getting out of the city and doing something REAL, akin to the pioneers of old or the Mayflower crossers. It’s a perfect day and there’s no scurvy in sight, so it’s like having all the best of the pioneer experience without that annoying possibility of death.

Humming a little tune, you traipse along the creek toward berry bushes, expecting hordes of fruit to leap into your bucket until you hit the Garrulous Hiking Native. “Yeah, I found a lot of berries,” he says, shifting from one leather-booted foot to another, “but those are at least 2 miles away”. Thanks to Mr. Negativity, a small voice at the back of your skull asks if this ‘berry episode’ is just a pipe dream. After 30 minutes of peering and scuffling around after those selfish berries, hiding under the leaves, you get the hang of avoiding the thorns and over the guilt of vine destruction. Crashing and sweating and swearing, your bucket is 1/4th full and you’ve nearly tipped it over twice.

NOW there’s a problem. RATTLESNAKE! The Special Person who you love and adored 2 hours ago lets out a yell that scares all the remaining berries off the vine and runs down the hill. You soothe the S.P. as best you can, but they haven’t died and you don’t see why they’ve wasted 30 minutes shaking like a leaf. Realizing your callousness, you apologize. All is well until you both try to cross the stream and it takes the S.P. twice as long. It’s just WATER, you think, really annoyed now. If I PUSHED you in, would that release you from fear?! You sternly tell off your horned worst half and help your S.P. out of the stream.


The second half of the Great Berry Adventure is more like the life I want to live! After stowing the litter of sandwiches in our cooler and our sleepy selves under a tree for a nap, we found the Mother lode of all berry patches and had more than enough to fill all our containers to the brim. We drove home, rejoicing in our spoils of war and more in love than ever.

This year, I quit my day job and am using all of my past five years of temporary failure and setbacks to push me on toward success in advertising and distribution. If I succeed in THAT, the income stream and time off will help me accomplish The Dream – writing and publishing fiction in a 5-bedroom house for 6 months out of every year on the Isle of Skye (north of Scotland); fiction has given me such joy that I'd like to help others rediscover the joy of life and struggle through my work. The house will be used as a retreat home for friends during the remaining 6 months, a peaceful haven away from technology and schedules. The library will be filled with ancient cracked leather books, and the titles will gleam in gold letters as a reflection of the fire on the flagstone hearth. Deep leather chairs will stand on the Irish rugs, coffee will bubble in the corner and an oak liquor cabinet will quietly grace the corner farthest from the fire. Of course there will be a false bookcase door that will lead to a capacious cellar and underground storage area, with a small tunnel that leads to the greenhouse. You never know when the dragoons will be after you, and it’s best to have an escape plan. Beside the greenhouse will be the horses’ stable, complete with barn cat and its tiny prey. A flagstone path will lead you back to the fresh-bread scented kitchen, with a large round scrubbed wooden table in the middle and white flimsy curtains whipping in the breeze. As you scrub the dishes, you’ll see the sea turning from blue to black, and the hills will turn from green to black and back, with white gulls tossing and screaming at the dark sky.

I hope that this seminar will help me crystallize this vision by being in an atmosphere of beauty, learning from someone who is in the process of living his own vision, and helping lead others to light their own vision flame. (To sign up for the conference on September 26 & 27, go to

Living a Better Story Seminar from All Things Converge Podcast on Vimeo.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bad Poetry!

As posted on "The Basket Blogette"......

I network a lot
In season and out
Am trying to flout
The stats.

The stats make my life ... well
Harder to live
"In this economy"
None want to give
Me money.

But I hope for the best
I Visa the rest
Now that's what I need....
A snooze!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mama, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Writers

Ever have a great memory of sitting around doing a lot of unproductive laughing? In March, Rizzo and I got together in the bustling metropolis of BROOMALL PA for a little less talk and a lot more ....writing.

MORE laughter. MORE drinking of adult beverages of the fruity persuasion, although very responsibly. (Rizzo's husband Joe was in charge of 'closing time'.) Of course, there were some 3 am gems:

  • An unshaven Joe in rainy weather and grey hoodie looked remarkably like a monk. Henceforth, he shall be known as "Gregory the Fuzz".
  • On an inspiration of the moment, born of sleepless giggling and stories of globalization, I shouted out unthinkingly "Go Brazilian!" Rizzo informed me that this is akin to asking the world to grow MORE unsightly hair for future removal.
  • Buffeted by gusts of wind and splashed by oncoming traffic, Rizzo's pitiable moans could be heard as she skooshed her way along the sidewalk - but when her umbrella betrayed her by flipping inside-out, pterodactyl-like screeches informed the world that life is not fair.
  • After deep potations and much film criticism, we have re-nicknamed "Ponyo" to be "The Narco Chick-Fishy", for her amazing transforming abilities between Sea Tadpole with Chicken Feet to Cute Snoozy Girl.

Speaking of snoozing, it's siesta time.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Literary Laugh-In

The Literary Laugh-In is themed thus:

"Where one loses lbs. by reading, mocking, and eating chocolate with abandon."

For example, whilst clutching some ginger beer in one hand and foreign dark chocolate in the other, you could mingle biz & lit: come up with catchy marketing titles for classic literature:

(Lolita) "Success in lechery is an attitude - not an altitude."
(Anne of Greene Gables) "If at first you don't succeed, dye your hair again" OR
"If at first you don't succeed, Rachel Lynde will remind you."
(The Hobbit) "Small and sneaky wins the race."
(Bleak House) "If the fog don't get you, the lawyers will!'
(Les Miserables) "The Miserables: Truth in Advertising" OR
"The only author who finds poignant beauty in Paris sewers."

Try a few and see where it takes you!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Shacking Up

We here at Reformed Fiction (I'm using the Royal We, because Rizzo is not here to argue) believe in a few things about relationships:

1. They are based in truth.
2. They are greatly helped along by tangibles such as chocolate, inventive alcoholic beverages and laughing uproariously at others' fictional foibles.
3. We fully expect to get the same reaction from our efforts. Go ahead.

As a good Reformed writer, We must in all godly conscience say a few things about William Young's The Shack:

It's the antithesis of what We believe in. (Except for the cool bit where the Holy Spirit character gets righteous in the garden and tells off Mack, who's getting a bit annoying.)

That's it, really. But here's some detail to shore up this assertion:
  • Minor issues such as God being female and never PMS'ing, Jesus' identity (He seems to have been created after the Fall), and random pokes at orthodox Christianity and religious systems (which doesn't make sense, given the author's determined attempts to create a new religious system based on 'relationships').
  • A god who ponces about in the kitchen baking cookies?! This tri-unified Person is supposed to save the world? Jesus did ACTUALLY say, "I did not come to bring peace but a sword", intimating that human relationships can legitimately be squashed for Kingdom purposes.
  • The neat side-stepping about a little girl who gets violated, and this god does nothing but sit spiritually by her side and commiserate. Would be more comforting to know that those wall-eyed barstids either get thrown in the Eternal Flaming Slammer or convert.
  • "No rules, just Right" - it sounded like an advert for Outback Steahouse.

Relationships are based on Rules: at some point, you have to get exclusive. Or somebody gets hurt. And what happens to the relationship then?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

What's Wrong With the World

Here's a fun quote from Mark Twain, useful to use against the complainers of the world if you stare off majestically into space and deliver deliberately:

"Nothing so needs reforming like other people's habits."

That's the ironic version of G.K. Chesterton's response to an essay request by The Times on "What's Wrong With the World":

Dear sirs,
I am.
Sincerely yours,
G.K. Chesterton

I recently attended a rather highbrow Literary Conference in Kentucky ("The Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture since 1900") . The two cardinal rules seemed to be, "Don't admit that you don't know", and "Thou shalt be more pretentious than thy neighbor". This left very little room for laughter, or creativity - such as the creativity of the authors actually under discussion. The inverse relationship between (a) the amount of time separating author from public and (b) the clarity of understanding said author's work, didn't seem to impede (c) the lecturers' confidence about their assertions of what the author was 'trying to say'. (Conveniently, the authors were not around to argue.) After hearing discussion on such topics as "The Look of Flowers That Are Looked At: Auratic Distance and Eliot's Eyebeam", it was necessary to haul off to a nearby pub and drink some serious mead with friends to get all that taste of 5-syllable words off of my tongue. We had much more fun 'discussing' the relative merits and demerits of such classic films as "Far and Away" and telling amusing animal stories - and I dare say that we learned more.

So, in criticism of the critics, I merely say - stop taking yourselves so darned seriously.