Monday, July 23, 2007

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Conviction, or Octopus Prime

The experiment continues.

I still don't like the idea of train of thought for a fiction writer. Instead, I am playing with rough structures of form, like and artist's sketch. That is why these efforts are an experiment!

Transformers came out. The movie, not the toys, which have been out forever. Jason, almost four, is YouTube's newest convert.
"Can we watch Transformers again?" he'll say, his eyes gleaming.
"Yes, which one, or all of them?" i ask. Does he understand that the bootlegged previews aren't the movie itself? Of course. But when your attention span doesn't last long enough for a two and a half hour movie what difference do categories make?
"80 miles per hour," I tell my dad. "That is how fast they transform from vehicle to robot." Is it to robot? I haven't seen the movie. Like Jason i have kept my consumption limited to YouTube and the toys. The latter, i feel confident in saying, are taking over the house.
My dad rolls his eyes, careful not to say anything since Jason is in earshot.
"No, i shouldn't know that fact." I don't work in the entertainment industry. I am an adult. I have a graduate degree. 80 miles per hour is still impressive, don't you think?
My dad humors me and Jason both. He didn't humor me so much as a child. I would have heard that the movie was a waste of time. I don't agree. Fiction can be so much more important than fact. Facts change.
Jason is sitting in the middle of the rug. My bedroom is bright from the mid-day sun. His brown eyes are round and focused. Jason is a serious player.
"Jason, we need to go."
"No, play with me. Play Transformers." That means i transform them, he waits. Then i get to be the bad guys, he gets to be the good. Always. Why doesn't mom ever get to be the hero?
I will point out, however, that the bad guys and good guys share the same cardboard house and fill up on the same plastic ice cream. Jason does have a democratic heart.
"You get to be Octopus Prime," he says.
And i wonder what to do. I don't care if Optimus Prime is a bad guy or a good guy in the movie. I wonder instead about the fights he will have once he starts preschool camp next week. The other boys, the tougher ones who have older brothers, know that it is Optimus Prime not Octopus Prime. But will Jason believe me?
"Jason," i say gently, "It is Optimus Prime, not Octopus Prime." He laughs at me.
"You are silly," he says, the giggles unabated.
"No, really. It is Optimus Prime."
"You be the bad guys," he says. "Make this into a gun." He hands me a transformer to be transformed.
"Jason?" I say, wondering if i still have his attention. He ignores me, an indicator of the man he will become. No, that statement isn't an exaggeration. He always ignores me when he doesn't want to hear what i say. Occasionally, he will still argue, but mostly he just continues along his own path. Most of us do. We have learned to courteously reply oftentimes to advice or insights. Primarily, we ignore the message, even as we allow the messenger to deliver it.
I hand him the gun. "Like this?"
"Yes, thank you." Jason is very polite, even for a three year old wielding a gun. He doesn't shoot me, even though i am the bad guy. Instead, he feeds the gun a plastic strawberry.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Writing is inherently political. Writers portray the world as they see it. Anyone who feels strongly about something is likely to feel compelled to write about it - either to share their thoughts or to convince others.

What can be more annoying than hearing someone wax long and hard on their own political views? And why do writers, merely because they like to communicate, have anything special to offer with respect to political events?


His eyelashes fring his eyes and flutter when he blinks. His mouth moves, neither compactly nor expressively. It flaps, yet stays within his control. The skin around his cheeks forms in jowels, like a bloodhound. He sniffs, yet he looks for nothing. The skin is clear, but pasty. What do politicians eat that make them look so middle aged and pale? Don't they spend time outside, exercising and getting healthy? That is why Bush won - his face has color.

The clothes always work, the handshake and the smile.

When they get elected they all look alike, don't they? The lines around the eyes, the soft creases at the lips. The smiles, the frown, the tears.

None of it reflects the man inside. Or, indeed, the woman. Time builds a record. But is it real when they create in anticipation of playing their legacy on the evening news? That is why i like Guiliani - he was a man, before he was a polititian. A man = a what?

Yes, i vote. No, i won't disclose for whom. But they all talk, expecting to be heard. How can the heart survive that? Publicity. Designed to win.

The world is full of clutter. Can a single, simple message break through? Do we want it to?

Sometimes i like the illusion better than the reality.

And all of this is fun and games. Writing can be powerful. Sometimes it is scribbles on a page and nothing more.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


I am still struggling with this issue. I am also grasping the implications of just writing something and losing control of it - in all senses. Normally, I write and revise over months. Now I write skim and post. Then send.
The post is like sending an astronaut into space - we don't really understand the implications.
For now I resolve the issues by telling almost no one that I am writing a blog - which is fitting. This is a new way of sharing thoughts. Some people just write. I can't do that. Words are too important to me. I can get an emotional release just by writing them - I don't need to share. My way is likely in the minority.
What we see on the page is different from a screen. I need to learn how to tell stories, not just journal.
An online journal - for me - doesn't fully touch at the posibilities of the communication medium.

So, let's try. A different meaning of anonymity.

The boys fell, right in the middle of the street. He seemed too young to cross alone, yet no one ran to help so i did. A car had stoped a few feet in front of him, respecting the crosswalk. As i approached the fallen child i glared at the impatient woman behind the wheel. She glowered back at me, chirping into a cell phone, her windows firmly shut.
I leaned down, towering over the child. Closer now, i realized that he was smaller than my initial impression. His brown eyes were fringed with tears and he had torn both pant legs at the knees. Blood beaded on each scrapped leg.
I sheltered him with my arm. "Are you all right?" I asked, trying to speak gently, as one should to a wounded child. "Let's get out of the street," I continued, willing him to respond with more than a blink.
He stood, stable, even strong.
"Mommy," he cried, as his tears cranked up in intensity. He ran from me, toward a woman now exiting a shop. Her light pink dress waved in a breeze i hadn't noticed.
"Brian," she cried, seeking her young. As he grabbed her legs she spoke to me. "Thank you."
"It was nothing," I replied and walked away.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Privacy and copyright

I want to think about privacy and copyright. Now, i can write this for me - the blog is really just for me. I am keeping it that way, for now, perhaps forever.
Writing is deeply personal - fiction more than any other form. Even in poetry you hide. Yet i can't post my poems here - not without copyrighting them first. And, isn't that wrong? Once you decide to write you agree - if you will let anyone read it - that you open up the inner thoughts that float through your mind. But not so that they can run away with it.
Then what? You try to sell it. If it is worth nothing you can then post it online and hope someone reads it (in which case later on, perhaps, something you write might be worth something. Yet if you post that online someone may steal it.)
I finished a book - and am waiting for comments from friends. Then i try to sell it. I have started a new book. It is coming along quite nicely, thanks.
Sometimes i don't want to hide behind a fictional character - i just have something i want to say. But i don't really want to copyright it first. If i say it so someone will hear it then it has to be worth nothing. Where does that logic lead?
I can write thoughts in a notebook, hide that in a drawer and feel heard. But my expression is illusory.
So i will do this blog instead - and tell no one. Then, i can pretend that perhaps someone, somewhere read it and thought for a second about what i had to say.
It is all just fiction isn't it?
That is the beauty of writing. The words fall on a page, and sit there. One day perhaps someone else will find them and think they understand.

Friday, May 18, 2007

To be continued

Will post later. Advised to yank old post.