'Some books are written to be swallowed like an oyster, barely chewed.' - French critic Roland Barthes.
I wish I'd said that. Well, by quoting Mr. Barthes I am showing my solidarity to his words.
NPR recently spoke about some schools paying students $2 for each book they read. Scandalous! And some students are opting for the thinnest books they can lay hands on in order to go through more of them and get their $2 bribery...er...reward that much quicker. How heinous.
Recently on that wonderful site for writers - QueryTracker.net - a thread appeared with someone asking if those members who were students or were teachers knew if the skill of memorization was still employed in high school or college - of the Preamble to the US Constitution, or the Amendments to same, or Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, passages from Shakespeare or poems was still being 'taught'. The answer was a resounding NO. [They would, however, know of Lincoln because of his vampire slaying.]
A QT member posted that her daughter was not required to memorize any bits of The Canterbury Tales but was assigned to create a Facebook page based on one of the characters in said book.
We are veering into Paddy Chayefsy's Network territory here. To quote Peter Finch's Howard Beale character, 'And woe is us! We're in a lot of trouble!'
What's going to happen to future generations who have gone from sounding like air-headed Valley Girls to the now humanoid entities whose batteries are running low - that nasal Kardashian whine with a slight rise at the end that hints at a question where none exists. It makes the Valley Girls seem frenetic and semi-intelligent.
Some schools are doing away with teaching cursive writing since the students do most of their work on laptops or tablets of one brand or another. Gone to history will be the handwritten Thank You note, or the handwritten Condolence letter. These future adults will be unable to spell since their vocabulary's are shrinking into acronyms and abbreviations in their texting - we're all familiar with LOL and BRB and it's understandable to incorporate brevity in emails and texting. However, that need for micro-condensing has crept into their speech. And in that winding down humanoid voice they now employ cannot muster up the strength to compete words: Details is now simply deets. Totally has become totes. Amazing has morphed into amaze. And Vomiting is now vom. That second syllable just too exhausting to spit out.
Three cheers for cerebration. Feed your reader's head. This dumbing-down nonsense is hurting everyone and creating a generation of imbeciles who couldn't diagram a sentence with a slide-rule and a crutch. Cry for those without shoes but weep for those who do not yearn to read and learn.
Kevin Spacey's production company, Trigger Street, has partnered with Jameson (Irish Whiskey distiller) to host a contest for 5-minute short film scripts - Jameson First Shot - Short Film Competition.
The extra spiffy thing is Willam Dafoe will be one of the judges and will star in the short film, and the writer of the winning script gets to direct it. How cool would that be? Saying 'Action!' and witnessing Willam Dafoe bring my character to life. Oh joy, oh rapture!They have three categories: Legendary, Humorous, and Tall Tale.
I opted for the middle option - Humorous. Then I realized my script for GREETINGS FROM HELL! previously adapted from my novella was too long and I doubted I could condense it to 5-7 pages. My brilliant daughter Kate suggested PINKIE a humorous 4-page short story I'd written a number of years back and was published in the now defunct Improper Hamptonian.
I always find it a challenge to adapt a work of fiction of mine to script format. All those lovely thoughts, musings, ponderings have to take a hike if they can't be reformatted to an action or dialogue. It turned out well and after a few more tweakings, edits, and beta readings, I'll submit it. *fingers crossed*
At the suggestion of a literary agent to increase the word count of my contemporary, multicultural suspense novel, The Story of Laurel Blue Stone, I revisited the story and did just that. But this was no Little Britain sketch spoofing Barbara Cartland dictating her novels to a secretary and including lots of sound effects [Wheeeeeeee!] to fill space.
Previously, I had had my main character Laurel being deposited at her new dorm room by her parents and beau Cal to begin her freshman semester . A sentence of 'pleasantries were exchanged with her new [nameless] roommate morphed into a new character presenting herself in a rather flashy yet lovable way. She makes the book even more multicultural by being a Chinese National who has been educated up till this point in Paris, France. She is wonderful. and takes to Laurel's naivety and agrees to teach her new roomie from the rez how to walk in 5" Christian Louboutin heels and brings some chic elegance to the Native American who is more comfortable in cutoff jeans and T-shirts and has never felt a cashmere sweater.
New chapters were created and others were added to. Existing characters were fleshed out. The request to add 12K words wound up adding 19K. I am delighted with the finished product and hope the agent does too.
Have been very busy writing my WIP – Nooks & Grannies – the story of two young misfits (Amelia & Keegan), best friends since kindergarten, who shed the late-bloomer-coming-of-age cloak when they move into Keegan’s late grandmother’s house together and begin to grow up. Despite their separate emotional baggage (Amelia doesn’t know who her father is and her mother’s been in jail since Amelia was 14, and Keegan’s father deserted the family when he discovered his son was gay. Keegan’s mother summarily took off, leaving him to be raised by his grandparents.) These two have always been there for each other, protecting and defending one another against taunts and ridicule from classmates and even some teachers. Using humor to deflect their hurt, they scrape together what wisdom they can muster to make their way in this often harsh world for the non-pretty outsiders. Amelia’s personal quirkiness falls over into her professional life and she opens her own small shop catering to the film students at the local university. Keegan, while entertaining the fantasy of being the next Leonard Bernstein, discovers he has another hidden talent.
P.S. Nana’s house is haunted.
Got some interest from an agent who likes the concept and voice of The Story of Laurel Blue Stone – which I think should be retitled to: This Ain’t The OK Corral - a contemporary, multicultural, dark, edgy, suspense YA of a young Zuni girl in love with a white park ranger but who is forced to date a crazy Navajo through deceit. She’s asked for an additional 12K words and I’ve been happily revising. I love spending time with these characters that are so real and true to life to me. Despite its dark edginess, there’s also humor.
Decided to go the self-publishing route after much debate and I'm glad I did. Not being a hi-tech savvy person, it felt like jumping through hoops (and with my knees that wasn't pleasant) and I'm glad to report that any glitches were my doing (or not doing). It's like my birthday all over again - getting the happy, positive, congratulatory calls and emails.
I truly love Billie Jenkins, the book's main character, despite her curmudgeonly, sometimes cantankerous, ways. And I'm delighted that other people will get to share her experiences and hopefully enjoy and relate. You don't have to be a baby boomer to like the book but it couldn't hurt.
Heard this a.m. that a kindergarten class in Brooklyn will not be permitted to sing Lee Greenwood's Proud To Be An American at their graduation. Why? Allegedly the school principal thinks it may be offensive to non-Americans. And the newsman said NYC's Mayor Bloomberg's in agreement. Now, whether you're a flag-burning crazy-ass survivalist or the sort who gets goosebumps singing America the Beautiful, and all variations in between, this has to be labeled a dopey move. I Googled the lyrics and found nothing offensive there. It's about being proud to be an American (hence the title) and thankful for freedom, and being willing to stand up and fight to keep it. No other nationality is put down or even mentioned. Why would people come to this country but to hope for a better life - with freedom? Oodles of freedom. Freedom as big as your head. And freedom for their kids.
If I moved to the UK and God Save The Queen was to be played at a kindergarten graduation I wouldn't be offended. I'd think, right, I'm in the UK, they're a bit chuffed with their queen. OK, stand up and either try to sing along or just stand here respectfully quiet.
I don't know the origin of the complaint regarding this song being sung or why. Does this mean that these little kids who will become first graders come September (yep, even the dumb ones who should've been left back for a kindergarten do-over - don't get me started on the No Child Left Behind crap - 'cause I've seen the results of some of that - they can't figure out whether to PUSH or PULL on a door, how to give the correct change, or how to form a complete, intelligent sentence) will be exempt from saying the Pledge of Allegiance because it might offend them? I guess these kids won't be allowed to participate in any sporting events - whether amateur or professional - for fear the National Anthem will be played, thereby possibly offending them.
How very sad to use these children as pawns in some twisted adult world of ill-placed righteous indignation and to potentially mar an otherwise proud and happy time - hopefully one of many milestones to be celebrated.
As I was waking up this morning I realized I was dreaming. I watched myself doing stand-up. And I was bombing. Flop sweat, cotton mouth and all. It was horrid. I was wishing there was a teleprompter 'cause I couldn't remember my jokes/routine. Then I was nearly fully awake but still drowsing and I imagined me saying to the audience:
"Well, summer's here." and there was just the tiniest hint of a female chuckle from the back of the room. So the me doing stand-up says, addressing that woman: "Sure, you like the hot weather. You're skinny, you don't have to worry about chafing." That got a laugh and I felt I was starting to win over the audience (whom I couldn't see - it was a dark and smokey room.
Now I'm awake and just riffing with the stand-up idea and I've magically made a white screen appear behind me to project images on. And I say:
"Yeah, everybody's gonna be out on their boats soon. You got a boat?" [I vaguely address audience members - I generally abhor audience participation when I'm in the audience, but I think it works well (sometimes) when you're the one onstage - ala Woody Allen.]
"Well, you know everybody out here in the Hamptons has a boat. Billy Joel, Diddy, Jay-Z. You have to. It's expected. You ever see Jay-Z out here on his big fancy yacht? The thing is huge. What would you say that was, about a thirty, thirty-five footer?" (audience laughs)
"Last summer I saw him getting it in the water. It's a pretty big production as you would imagine. He's got it on one of those boat trailers on the back of his Maybach, backing it down the ramp. And Beyonce's off to the side directing him: 'To the left, to the left, baby. A little more.' (howls of appreciative laughter)
I live near a marina. No, it's true, I do. You see how they shrink wrap the boats in that white shrink wrap stuff? It makes me crazy though. They don't want you to carry your corn on the cob home from the supermarket in a plastic bag, but it's OK to wrap an entire yacht in plastic. [laughter]
Please, don't get me started. So, anyway, yeah, you have to shrink wrap your boat. It protects the paint job from the snow and ice, and hopefully keeps the little creatures out. And, yes, I'm talking about the Mexicans." (Loud laughter with a couple of 'Ooohs' mixed in.] "Hey, I'm kidding. [makes a 'not really' face]
"Yeah, so, I took my boat there, had it done. It's expensive, though. About $12 a linear foot. [picture of shrink-wrapped 6' dinghy appears on screen] This baby set me back about $72."
No, not the Terry Gilliam/partial Python film. I'm referring to those people - and you know who you are - who spend WAY too much time frittering away their days Twittering and Facebooking, etc., instead of getting done what needs to get done. Then they tweet about how they're behind on deadlines and freak out over the pressures they've put on themselves to accomplish their goals in a timely manner.
Oh, don't worry, I won't be a hypocrite. I am pointing a finger at self (making it difficult to type), for being guilty of same. But I've learned the art of popping in and out like an obscenely overpaid CEO of a major corporation - give the queenly/popely wave and scram.
However, some of these time bandit enablers fall under the heading of 'celebrity' and post their sometimes inane comments whilst being driven to their destination, or whilst in makeup, etc. Still, we don't need to know every little thought that enters their noggins. Some believe if they post 18 play-by-play comments pertaining to a sporting event they are currently viewing that we will be entranced and forever in their debt for sharing said future glowing memory. Yeah, no.
These social networking sites were created, well, to make oodles and oodles of money for their creators, but play along with me and we'll say they were created to bring people together. Many people use these sites to 'build their platform' (euphemism for fan base/potential customers), including writers, actors to entice you to watch their TV show/movie, Off-Broadway show, etc., musicians, even used car salesmen.
OK. Unfortunately, some of us crave that 'togetherness' a lot more than others and permit these Internet time bandits to steal our precious minutes.
So, moving forward (see blog on annoying overused phrases), be brief. Brevity is the soul of something or other. Do not kick off your shoes and get comfy. We won't lose any sleep tonight if you don't post that photo of what you made for dinner, or a picture of your cat wearing a dog costume, or sharing the fact you've got IBS, or inform us that you can see in your neighbor's window and while the teddy and stilettos look good, perhaps he should have waxed his back. Yeah, no. Don't share that kind of stuff.
We really don't need to know that your dog just ate your favorite thong or that you will simply perish without chocolate, or that your toddler just made some wall art with the contents of his diaper.
So, as the beat cop always says in 1940s B movies, "Come on, Johnny, show's over. Go home." Everybody: Get back to work! Be productive!
It's Halloween but this isn't scary:Rain Laaman (Fellow QueryTracker) is having a Book Giveway on her blog. If you win you get a pick a Middle Grade or YA book (up to $20) of your choice! Woo hoo! Go check it out:http://rainlaaman.blogspot.com/2011/10/book-giveaway-book-of-your-choice.html
You'd think by the title it would be an oxymoron, right? I've always thought of the Amish, as a people, to perhaps be lacking in the humor department, but to be peaceful, hard-working, church-going, barn-building chill folks. Then I read about a splinter group (who ever thought there would be a splinter group amongst the Amish?) involved in home invasions in 4 separate counties in Ohio, of other Amish people and forcibly cut off their beards. And the man behind the beard-cutting's name is Mullet. Not kidding. He claims he didn't give the order to do this but says it's retribution for those who didn't follow some religious rules.
I'm sorry, I just find this fascinating in a comical way and can picture it as an SNL sketch - one group of Amish men on the left in traditional Amish attire: black trousers, white shirts, black suspenders, black flat hats - another group of Amish men on the right similarly dressed - doing that semi-bent forward move and snapping their fingers like Russ Tamblyn and George Chakiris in Westside Story, then one group whips out scissors instead of switchblades and goes for the beards.
Why is Lorne Michaels not calling me?!