26 April 2010

"...snatching laughs and love between amputations and penicillin."

My Sunday started out with brunch with some friends and mimosas! I think I've found something to replace my love of riesling.  But that wasn't why I made a two-hour drive.

As part of a benefit for the JCC of Greater Rochester, actor Elliott Gould was in the region for a 40th Anniversary Screening of the film MASH, one of my all-time favorite films.  Seemed like a good reason for a roadtrip.  One of my friends from overseas even (jokingly) threatened me with death if I squandered the opportunity and didn't go.

Gould did a brief introduction before the screening.  His presence was definitely worth the price of admission.  I'd have paid double if Donald Sutherland would've been there, too.  After all, my favorite line in the film was about his Hawkeye Pierce.
Hot Lips O'Houlihan: "I wonder how a degenerated  person like that could've reached a position of responsibility in the Army Medical Corps."

Father Mulcahy: "He was drafted."

During the Q&A afterward, Gould (justifiably) credited the series for keeping Altman's film alive. Now, if I wasn't so tired, I'd go on about how much more I like the film than I ever liked the TV series. I understand that film and TV are two completely different animals, and how some of what I liked about film just wouldn't translate.  Still, the film's tone was more my speed.

I'd made jokes beforehand about how I was going to ask lame questions like, "Gee, did you realize 40 years ago that you were making a classic?"  Or the sort of stuff Chris Farley would ask: "Remember... that scene... when you punched out Robert Duvall?  Remember?  'Cos he made that kid cry.  Remember that?

"That was awesome."

I think that by making those jokes, I'd realized, at least on a subconscious level, that those are the sorts of questions that always get asked whenever you open a forum up to "the general public."  It happened when I saw writer Joyce Carol Oates speak last year.  She was there to talk about a non-fiction project she was doing at the time.  Now, as disappointing as that was--I'd wanted to her about her fiction, of course--it would never occur to me to ask the question most writers dread hearing, "Where do you get your ideas from?" 

Now, not every question Gould was asked was at that level, but it was pretty close.  As a result, I didn't hear Gould say anything I didn't already know from watching the MASH DVD extras--except for the fact that apparently director Martin Scorsese didn't understand the game of football until he watched the football scene in MASH.  

I know that must make me sound like a total snob.

Still, the opportunity just to be present at an event like this, honoring a piece of art with one of the people involved in making it was pretty breathtaking.  Just the thing to get my creative juices flowing....

18 April 2010

Sunday Brain Dump

Last night, I went to the season opener double-header for the Ithaca League of Women Rollers, i.e. our two local derby teams, the SufferJets and the Bluestockings.  Great bout!!  A comment was made by one of the announcers, giving me an idea for a short story.

Came up with another idea for a short story a couple of days ago.  I think it's a killer idea.  I don't have a character in mind for it.  Which means, I don't have any scenes in mind.  It's frustrating, because until I come up with one or the other, the idea's useless to me.

I used to keep a monthly scorecard of my short-story submissions, but explaining why I didn't submit any stories for a given month got old.  I got back on a submissions kick this month, putting out 5 previously rejected stories and 3 new ones.  I've already gotten 3 rejections back.  *sigh*

Gotta keep pushing!

It's taken me two years for me to follow my own advice and start reading Ben Tanzer's book Most Likely You Go Your Way and I'll Go Mine.  You know how it is.  You intend to order something that's not available at your local bookstore, and you just put off doing it.  And then, it does appear at your local bookstore.

Yo, Ben -- I started it and I'm liking what I'm reading so far.  Sorry it took me so long!

Ben Tanzer, Most Likely You Go Your Way And I'll Go Mine

This is part of a push on my part to read more novels in 2010.  How else am I ever going to learn to write one...?

It has its flaws (which I understand are soon to be remedied), but I'm still in love with mint.com.  It's given me something I've needed for a long time, namely a way of GTD-ing my money management.

I cannot tell you how much I'm enjoying the 2010 series of Doctor Who.  I wasn't up in arms about David Tennant leaving the role, because I'd learned my lesson.  I remember ranting in 2005, "What do you mean Christopher Eccleston's leaving?"  I had no idea how good Tennant was going to be.  Well, I looked forward to Matt Smith's performance, and so far, so good.  And I admit that he rocks the tweed jacket better than I do.

Not only that, but so far the new head-writer/producer Steven Moffat has delivered, too, AFAIC.  The BBC made the right choice, giving the show to the writer whose episodes have won Hugo awards.  No, the episodes haven't been perfect but I'm very, very impressed with what he's done with the show's tone.  Everything people say about the fairy-tale/fantasy tone is all true.  The first two episodes, especially, seemed like a sci-fi version of Pan's Labyrinth.  The only to make them better would be to have had them directed by Guillermo Del Toro.

I really need to do something about my home office.  I'm fighting the clutter lately, and losing.  The trouble is, the only solution is hard for me to face.  I need a new desk with more tabletop real estate, which means taking the time and trouble to empty out and junk my old desk.  Dammit.


I think that's it for now.

07 April 2010

"These dreams go on when I close my eyes"

Madeleine Is Sleeping (Harvest Book) Madeleine Is Sleeping by Sarah Shun-lien Bynum

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I first read Bynum in Tin House: Fantastic Women. I thought "The Young Wife's Tale" was nice story with nice writing, but it didn't prepare me for what I'd find in this novel.

Bynum's writing style is simply hypnotic. It's as dreamlike as just about every other reviewer says it is, but that shouldn't put you off. Just don't get too tied up in the dream logic of these interconnected vignettes. Don't worry about the line between the real and the dream. Just go with it and be absorbed.

View all my reviews >>

04 April 2010

Practical Magic

Let me tell you something
I've met men in jail who had more style
than the people who hang around colleges
and go to poetry readings
They're bloodsuckers who come to see
if the poet's socks are dirty
or if he smells under the arms
Believe me I won't disappoint em

-Raymond Carver, "You Don't Know What Love Is (An Evening with Charles Bukowski)"

I did not to a poetry reading last Friday night, but I did go to a Paint Off--an annual fundraiser featuring local artists who had one hour to create artpiece which would be auctioned off to benefit a local summer festival.

I wasn't the only one gawking at them and taking pictures, and I admit going with some romanticized delusion about watching a piece of art being conjured out of thin air from nothing but the Muse's direction.  I'm willing to bet I wasn't the only one doing that, either. Then I gave the matter a second's thought and I finally realized that these weren't "artistes" whose socks were dirty or who smell under the arms. They were artists who were working.

I saw people with their sleeves rolled up, sweating, scrambling, and getting their hands dirty.  I saw noses put to the grindstone. 

This is the real magic of art to me, whether it's painting, sculpting, music--or even writing.  This is the level of professionalism I want to attain. 

This inspires me.


03 April 2010

One Good Turn, &c.

So, I may not be sure exactly where I fit into the whole social-writer-networking thing, but I at least know to return a compliment.  I'm a little late, but let me return a shout-out to Medeia, who gave me The Picasso Award last week.

The idea is to post seven truths about myself and invite others to do the same.  Now, in the interest of bandwidth conservation, I don't like pressuring people into playing along.  But by all means, any and all comers are welcome to.

So, here goes.  But, caveat emptor: I share the same views on truth as Obi-Wan Kenobi.

  1. One of my mutant superpowers is the ability to hum along with the horn lines from any Chicago song on any Chicago album.
  2. If an object can cut a person, I can probably use it effectively as a weapon.
  3. I'm a caffeine abuser. Always have been.  And even though I struggle to moderate my use, I really don't have any plans to cut it out completely.  
  4. While I like the idea of turning the other cheek, I don't do it as much as I should. I treat my emotional and verbal battles like physical altercations, i.e. I counterattack while I'm defending myself.  In both cases, that response was developed after years of training.
  5. "Plan Z" (aka "My life plan if all else fails and falls apart") is to take my trumpet and wander the earth like Caine in Kung-Fu, playing and finding adventure.
  6. It's been too long since I've played a table-top role-playing game.
  7. My writing owes as much to jazz musician Chet Baker as it does to Raymond Carver.
Any questions?