Wednesday, July 1, 2015

At My Writing Desk

Ramblings Post #292
This blog, after coming off a break, came back a little more political than I like it. But I had a few things to say and waiting wouldn't have made them any better, so I took a moment and did what needed to be done. Now, for something a little lighter. My writing prospects are looking up a little as ideas are starting to percolate and I thought I would bring you kids up to speed. And maybe even update my website. If I can remember the password. What was first pet's name?  

So I'm working on this story, right?

To keep it simple, I'm writing bits and pieces of it in Windows notepad, so I don't get bogged down and can just get the parts out that keep popping into my head. A blurb here. A paragraph there. Sometimes two or three pages at a time once I've copied it over. I've tried writing it in other formats, but then I immediately want to go to editing mode, so that what shows up there is the final product. This when I KNOW it's going to need even more editing later, but I can't help myself.

Oh, I know what you're thinking. When are you not working on a story? You know what would be different? Finishing one of these epics you keep going on about! You're a starter, not a finisher. You need to buckle down and write something and finish it. Not an treatment, not just see it all in your head but work out all the details and put them down on paper. How about it?

All that out of your system? Good, because I'm working on this story, right? It's huge, epic, lots of world building and character development, figuring out protagonists and antagonists and...

Um, okay, see, what had happened was....

That first part was from a post last year when I was working on, let's call it story A. Then I went on Reddit and joining writing prompts, and what started as a blurb, is now ANOTHER story, which is story B, that I just can't stop writing. It's not that great, but it's just flowing right now. Now, story B is kinda science-fictiony as well, but more grounded, and involves a mix of government, politics and conspiracies and secret agencies and other stuff I'm just throwing at the word processor to see what happens. I even have the whole thing mapped out. Well, most of it. I have a calender with dates and actions up through what I guess is seventy five percent of it. 

So like two stories. I might not finish.

I have recently realized that I have this problem, where I get an idea and just start writing...and then the story just kinda stalls after a while. I once wrote a hundred and seventy fives pages, and realized that for some reason I was still introducing characters in the second half of the book. Okay, Skipper and the Doc weren't really main characters, but as I writing out their dialogue it struck me that they only existed to get one of the protagonists from one place to another in the story. They didn't really need to exist or have back stories. It seemed like such a waste, as they were shaping up to be good characters. And that story, Bohemian Cooker, I've also never really figured out where the story was ultimately going. So it sits, and I'm thinking about picking it back up if I ever finish these.

Now I have both of them mapped out. Story A completely, although new little pieces and ideas just keep bubbling up in my head, on my back brain. Story B I try to work on every day. Well, not more than two days off. It's coming along.  

I'm a writer. Even if it's only just for me. I feel like I must create.

Barkeep. I need whatever Hemingway drank. No, Faulkner. No, wait, Ralph Ellison. His beverage. I need some inspiration.

Monday, June 29, 2015

What Year Is This?

This is a political post. 

In the last thirty days racist people have killed nine people at an historically black church and now six other churches have "caught fire".

The last part, the other churches burning to the ground, doesn't appear to be heavily covered in the national media, and I'm certain not on Fox News who still think the confessed Charleston shooter might have had "other" motives. Since the Charleston shooting, College Hills Seventh Day Adventist Church in Knoxville, God’s Power Church of Christ in Macon, and Briar Creek Baptist Church in Charlotte all burned in consecutive days. Another church, Fruitland Presbyterian Church, in Gibson County, Tennessee also burned but the investigators haven't made a ruling regarding the cause as of yet.

The term coincidence doesn't even begin to cover this.

Then, after a skipping a day, Glover Grover Baptist Church, in Warrenville, S.C and The Greater Miracle Apostolic Holiness Church in Tallahassee, Fla both caught fire on June 26th.

Is this 1959? We have the internet and and can make video phone calls, we've landed men on the moon and can convincingly change a person's sex, but racial progress stopped with Kennedy? And I say racial because only church's that are predominantly attended by black people appear to have been the targets, so it doesn't look like Christianity is under attack, just the black section. Even those of us who don't attend church regularly understand it's importance in a community, so the act of arson against a church resonates. Isn't a house of God still a house of God no matter the race of those who gather there? What kind of mental gymnastics makes this okay?

Some like to entertain the notion that racism was over since we all got together and elected a black president. But what it really did was strip the veneer of civility and expose that we aren't quite who we think we are. What we have found is that a lot of the ideas and notions, stereotypes and cultural blindness that should have gradually faded away in the past fifty years are still very much here, and not just in the small change resistant pockets we thought they might be. Activists have been working on this for fifty years without pause for racial equality, and now we find that at best all we've done is maintain the social status quo from before the federal highway system was even a thing. We may have even lost a rung or two. Considering just how much time has passed, that's just scary.

I'm not sure where we go from here.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Can We Talk?

This is a political post. 

My father owned a dry cleaner for a number of years. I learned a lot there: hard work (because my father believed in it), how to deal with irate people (because destroying someone's favorite skirt is a real bummer) and how to tolerate things. Because on more than a few occasions, I handled an Confederate article of clothing. We cleaned it as best we could, pressed it if the fabric could stand it, bagged it up and charged the customer just as if it were there best Sunday go to meeting clothes. Which in a few cases it very well may have been.

(In the interest of full disclosure as a child I was a Dukes of Hazzard fan and as I think I've related here before, I probably pushed my parents tolerance levels to 1000 when I asked for and got a toy "General Lee" as a Christmas present.)

Having a learned a little bit, having gotten a little older, I don't particularly care for the flag, but it is what is.

That is my South Carolina upbringing. You just don't think about it.

There are a lot of conversations we can have in the wake of the horror that happened in Charleston. In a nation that as of late appears rife with racial tensions and clear evidence of systemic racism, and unambiguous act of terrorism might just be the catalyst to get us all talking. Maybe one of those conversations will be about how we still have a huge issue with race even though we have a black president. Maybe one of them will be about the mostly unnecessary and dangerous level of access of weapons we have in this country. Maybe we could get the one about how the media has a tendency to demonize one race. Maybe it will even be about how we handle tragedy...with kindness and forgiveness in the face of concept versus the of pointing fingers and destruction...or even howls of pain directed at the guilty. It is my belief that all we really need is a conversation, one serious honest conversation free from the confines of self induced bias, to get things kicked off.

The question is, will we even get one, just one, before we get sidetracked?

Oh wait, we're talking about the flag.

Sidetracked already.


Sidetrack Image via Tumblr, via Twitter...from CNN

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Odd Quotes

Image by Paul Davey
 "Sometimes you meet someone, and it’s so clear that the two of you, on some level belong together. As lovers, or as friends, or as family, or as something entirely different. You just work, whether you understand one another or you’re in love or you’re partners in crime. You meet these people throughout your life, out of nowhere, under the strangest circumstances, and they help you feel alive. I don’t know if that makes me believe in coincidence, or fate, or sheer blind luck, but it definitely makes me believe in something."
~ Anonymous

I welcome me back...

For my birthday, I had the ribs. From Houston's. They're the most expensive damn ribs in the city probably, and their fries need so much work it's not even funny. But it's my birthday. Oh, I also got a new gig...but that's a whole different story.

Been gone for a minute. I'm back.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Game of Thrones and your modern thinking...

Ramblings Post #291
I've read science fiction/fantasy for years, sometimes seeing the story it originated from and other times missing the point entirely. What I have a problem with now, is that people who don't read it are discovering it because Hollywood finally ran out of other ideas. And they're having a horrible time trying to apply their current outlook on life and modern society to something that would regard them just as much fantasy in return. It's like hearing people discuss why the physics don't work in your favorite comic book. Ugh. That's not why we're here people!

by Fernando Mendonça
For the people upset at the ending of Game of Thrones episode “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” I’m fairly certain that Disney will welcome you back with open arms.

Killing and beheading because a character is a little miffed? Oh sure. Onscreen disemboweling when a quick allusion to the death would suffice?  Yes please. A completely in context story point and character appropriate action that results in an assault on a woman? Oh my god what am I watching, you horrid horrid people! 

Sansa was in a room with Ramsey Bolton. Locked in a room. On her wedding night.  If nothing else, the cultural assumption for the setting, in just the basic the context of the story, was that something had to happen. No ifs, no ands, no buts. I really hope no one thought Sansa would somehow seduce Ramsey and masterfully maintain the fragile bit of agency she’d gained in the past few episodes. And the idea that she’d get the same deal from Ramsey that Tyrion gave her was a fanciful notion at best. By the Seven, her new ‘husband’ neutered the other person in the room, something which received no outcry at all if I remember correctly.  The idea that this ‘event’ wasn’t going to be pleasant shouldn’t have been shocking or even unexpected.

Get a grip people.

I get irked when people who don’t know the genre or the style of story get upset trying to apply modern values or cultural norms. This is a despicable character doing a very despicable thing in a time and place where despicable things were all too commonplace. No, this wasn’t in the book, what was in the book was much, much worse – although it happened to a character Ramsey just thought was a Stark, but it still happened. But this television, or a serial drama, or however you want to characterize it, and things are  condensed. So this happened. Again, Disney is like four channels over. Bye.

By Fernando Mendonça
But since we’re off the books anyway and Brienne is around the corner, might we get a light at the highest window  of the tower? Brienne kidnaps Sansa and the daughter becomes Lady Stoneheart instead of her resurrected mother, due to this trauma? Maybe we’ll get to see Ramsay get his comeuppance, something I now hope to happen like I wanted Joffrey to die. All things are possible.

Seriously people, in an episode all about lies, with Arya learning to to lie, Loras and Margery lying with imperial pomposity, and Tyrion and Jorah lying to save their skins and other parts, the simply idea that Ramsey Bolton wasn’t lying when he gave his word to Littlefinger that he “wouldn’t hurt her” shouldn’t have been a shock at all.

Barkeep, some wine. I don't know, what ever the vintage they drink at King's Landing will do. 

By Fernando Mendonça