A New Life in Seattle

A New Life in Seattle
August, 2018

Sunday, March 27, 2016

An Exaltation of Ex-Lax--a Parody of Some Reviews: Part 1 of 395

It's not enough to say, of course, that Batman v Superman is the most unpleasant movie to disgrace the screen in thirty years. Others have already said that in the most vitriolic terms. I can't hope to match their rancor, though I would go farther and claim that is the most revolting film that I have never seen. To sit through it, I would imagine, is like watching The Exoricist III while drowning in beet juice and listening to the imbecilic atonalities of Tangerine Dream or Tiny Tim. So do forget about competing with the rancor of my rivals. And let me defeat them in learning and length.

We begin, per Aristotle, in media res. Which is to say not with the Greeks or the Romans, but with the Abyssinians, whose beloved epic Ajxreszia--and that's pronounced the way it's spelled--laid down the very foundation for the plot mechanics of B v S. Well-known in the groves of academe, the strategy is referred to as the Abyssinian Bop: begin with the dreary and the abysmal...proceed in slowly measured steps to the depressing and the revolting...and close to a great blast of trumpets with clashing symbols, gouts of blood, and philosophical folderol.

Now, we're not to meant to actually like either one of the titular monsters. But when has that fact ever stopped a public entertainment? Remember Frankenstein and the Wolf Man...King Kong v Godzilla...George W Bush v John Kerry...The Hateful Eight v The N-Word...Hans Landa v Aldo Raine...

Now, here's the key thing to remember when you hope against hope against hope to enjoy this Marvel-ous monstrosity: it reflects the evolution of the Abyssinian spirit today. B v S leaves us not without hope but with the constructive hope of better enduring such BS again. Furthermore, it offers a new kind of integrity. For, as it picks our pockets, it reloads them with nuggets that glitter though they are utterly useless: carefully planted references to arcane cultural and comic book lore. References that come to mind without having seen a frame of the film: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Apocalypse Now, Moby Dick, The Hollow Men, Cabaret, The Mahabharata, Beowulf, Hiroshima Mon Amour, All in the Family, The Far Side, Doonesbury...

Next up, in part 2, I'll show how smart I really am! I'll give you the critical terms you'll all need for this unending discussion. Alliteration? Anapest?  Anaphora? Asyndeton? Homophones? Have no fear, you'll learn them all--and you'll get the lesson as if in rap from Eminem!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Smiling with the Sharks

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You're less likely to be eaten when you're swimming with the sharks if you smile and stay very calm, very still, and don't flop about in a frenzy.

I'm in a work situation right now--but enough about me, friends. Let's talk about you.

You're stuck in a high-stress but low-paying job where the turnover is fantastically high. You don't want to quit but you do want to shift to a less stressful position. And yet you're blocked at every turn. For the odds are against finding anyone who'll stay as long as you have. It's far easier to gamble on the chance that you'll give up.

Stay calm.

Review your options.

Plan your strategy carefully and then work the plan relentlessly.

But, meanwhile, all the while, smile as if you are clueless and keep the waters about you as still as you can.

Not everyone's in a job quandary like the one outlined above. But sooner or later we all swim with sharks. And the same principles apply. Just pray you never meet a shark that smiles as sweetly as you do.

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Monday, March 7, 2016

I'm an Islander and a City Boy Too

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It's always a strange, sometimes frightening, thing. A story that's going exactly as planned suddenly compels you to write an unexpected scene. And part of you wants to resist because this narrative twist will force you to rewrite a number of earlier scenes. You want to keep it simple and proceed according to plan...but should you?


My two lead characters have been steered to a Seattle security guard who may be able to help them. He's a scarred, broken-down legend who'd once been the terror of thieves. But Elvis has now left the building. The plan: to have my guys show up, present him with a card from a cop he knows and arrange to meet him after his shift. But Boss MacTavin, my hero, is both moved and angered by the sight of the coward the guard has become. My right hand began to move.

And a fierce battle between that hand and my critical side now began. As I wrote, Boss slapped the guard several times to try to awaken his spirit...then DB, Boss' partner, grabs the guard by the shirt front--something no experienced fighter would do--and tells him quietly that he has stolen merchandise under his jacket--the guard should recover it, then throw him out.  So one side of me wanted Boss to play Mike Hammer with the guard, while the other side wanted both men to give the guard a chance to get his old bad feeling back and be seen as a star on the job. I now saw the guard becoming a major player in the book.

Another writer once compared writing to a creative balance between the island and the city:

I like the image and I keep it in mind. At the first draft, I'm an islander and I need to work as one, freely and openly...unburdened by bullying messages from hardheaded city editors: No, no, that'll never work...Boss can't really slap the guy--not that hard, anyway...And won't the guard be fired if he throws the two out?  Etc., etc., etc.

But hey. The city pros can have their day at the second and subsequent drafts. I'm an islander now and I let the words rip without any fear of mistakes.