Topic: Scribbles

Scribble, May 16, 2017 0

I toured the Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum and left thinking Poe hit his head a lot and this caused melancholia and stress. Seriously, if a guy standing 5’10” fails to avoid the door head, and then hits his own head, I must surmise The Raven came out of this constant impact on Poe’s noggin. And let’s not forget the stairs; narrower, and narrower, they squeezed as I climbed close enough to hear my heartbeat. I enjoyed myself.

***

My wanderings through Washington, D.C. also took my to the Library of Congress where I received a library card. This probably was the best souvenir of the trip. I can now wander around the stacks and read books from the library’s shelves.

***

I worked out some plotting for my short story, He Speaks in Moonlight, which was a good thing. I also thought about The Farmer’s Cop, even figuring out how to move the setting away from downtown Los Angeles.

***

I returned to a water bottle smelling much like dirty sweat socks.

***

A SPACE.com Onesignal popped up telling me the God’s Particle probably isn’t what I think it is. Must click on link!

***

Interesting. So, in all fairness the teaser caused me to ponder the beginning of the universe and I figured the article would tell me where to find God. Fire up the rocket ship; we’re headed for the Eagle Nebula! The article ended up telling me the mass of an electron is the interaction between an electron and the Higgs boson field. All this time I thought the Higgs boson created mass. Good thing I clicked. (Hat tip to the tease writer).

***

A group of hackers in Kuala Lumpur continue to try to breach the firewall using weird logins. They clearly misplaced the memo on how to make money hacking websites. (This will probably spur them on.) Anyway, I keep blocking them in the hopes they will run out of IP numbers. If this website becomes a black screen with a red skull and crossbones, call Elliot Alderson.

 

Scribble, May 1, 2017 0

Another rejection arrived in the email. Of course, writing is not something I jumped into because it would make me rich and famous. Well, perhaps famous. But I never had the idea my writing would generate an income. I write because I feel like it.

***

A Conversation

“I saw these buildings as more pumpkin-like.”

“They are orange.”

“Yes, but they are square. You called it the pumpkin patch.”

“Well, yeah.”

“I saw buildings a bit more rounded with green roofs.”

“True, they are not very pumpkin-like.”

“Then why call it the pumpkin patch?”

“So people know how to find us.”

***

 

Scribble, April 28, 2017 0

I tossed Snoopy off the edge. He went flying out in the darkness on top of his dog house like the World War I Flying Ace. He continued to pound out the latest Once Upon a Time on his typewriter seemingly unconcerned about the pending thwack on the floor. Of course, I ran around the desk to scrutinize the fall. He had one missing paw and the calendar blocks scattered around him. The dog nearly decapitated in the crash. I’m off to Hallmark to find a replacement desk calendar; one with Snoopy, in one piece, tapping away on the keys.

***

Spring has sprung and summer is edging closer. After crossing in front of the federal building, the sun already seemed to burn my scalp. The bald spot felt exposed. I suppose it could be worse; I could be walking across a field of frozen snow wondering when the sun will warm up enough to melt it all.

***

Lavender flowers now wilted
The hose twisted kinked
The gardener saves the plant
With water from his flask
A swallow tumbles over stalk
Greedily gathered in dust
The flower recovers its shine.

***

A Conversation

“Why do you want this job?”

“For the challenge and to make a difference.”

“And you think you’re that person?”

“I enjoy new experiences.”

“What makes you think we want you?”

“My reputation drew your interest? I’m a team player? I want to explore new methods and ideas?”

“Are you asking the questions now?”

“I’m just trying to make a good impression.”

“We may call you later.”

***

The muse speaks in my ear whispering ideas, challenges, and dreams. Sometimes she demands I write. Other times, she sits on my shoulder just whispering variations on the same theme. Writers block never seems to affect her. Although, she does get a bit testy when I ignore her.

***

Inspiration is our quill of various arrows gathered for the eventual fight. I don’t think any experience goes to waste. Even the obstacles and failures can lead to a good story. Bad ill strengthens our character as much as goodwill. The magic comes in realizing every experience builds the writer’s arsenal and allows him to write characters with life.

 

Scribble, April 26, 2017 0

I’ve been listening to writing podcasts lately. The ones I really like are Seated at the Writer’s Table and Helping Writers Become Authors. These podcasts offer advice on writing and selling. Good stuff. For fun, I like The Disney Story Origins Podcast, Myths and Legends, and Rabbits.

***

I created a Patreon page as a way to keep myself on track toward my bigger writing projects. One of the first things I have learned about myself is I don’t do very well if I don’t have accountability partners. Believe it or not, I need someone to support me. I know, strange stuff coming from a creative person. Anyway, I plan to keep supporters posted on my progress of writing The Farmers Cop, a cozy mystery I have been thinking about but not writing. I appreciate anyone who wants to learn with me or follow my progress.

***

Bill O’Reilly received a $25 million dollar exit package to start a podcast. I wish I had that kind of money to support my creative juices.

***

Hackers from China, Russia, India, Malaysia, Brazil, and United Kingdom are causing me problems on one of the websites I manage. Where do these idiots come from? And all using stupid logins in their attempts to get into the site. I must be on some kind of stupid-person mailing list. United Kingdom, really?

***

At my bagel breakfast place, I managed to sit next to a guy who spent the next 20-minutes preaching about how the Fibonacci code and sound vibrations prove the existence of miracles. He was really loud and kept interrupting; one of those “listen to me” guys. I eavesdropped because I like paranormal. However, everyone started looking our way because he was so loud. I was grateful when the little league team sat down between us, giggling with horseplay, while covered in cream cheese.

***

A television station in Alaska now powers the evening newscast with citizen journalists. I wonder how this will turn out? In my experience citizen journalists are a fickle lot. And writers are rapidly becoming tired of doing everything for free. So how do you convince creators to keep on creating for the local newscast if they are never paid? And how to do you keep the same people from talking for more than two minutes each night about their toenail fungus? I don’t see this lasting too long. Sure, the station saves money by not employing journalists, but the local furniture shop will not advertise on a show that only features toenail fungus updates. Or, maybe they will.

***

There are two sides to every story with opponents and advocates each having  their viewpoints. So why do we spend all of our time looking for just one side of the story? News reporters irritate me sometimes. And they never see the whole picture. Take umbrage at a story and they defend it. No, we’re trying to get you to look at the other side. All of the grammar and the punctuation was there; we need the other side too.

 

Scribble April 17, 2017 0

“You had me at the lede.” In my past, a story would jump off the page and I immediately knew I wanted to read it. Today, the story often assumes I already care. Where is the passion? Why does the lede seem to fall flat? I’m finally figuring out why I no longer eagerly anticipate the newspaper; none of the ledes grab me.

***

A Conversation

“There’s blood on the sidewalk.”

“A homeless guy got beat up.”

“Shouldn’t that be washed off?”

“Probably.”

“Do we have anyone who cleans it up?”

“He comes on Fridays.”

“It’s been there two weeks.”

“He must have taken the week off.”

“It should be cleaned up. Should we call him?”

“I was on vacation last week.”

“But it looks bad.”

“I can’t be here for everything.”

“Listen, are we going to have to have a fight?”

“There’s no need to get hostile.”

“Keep it up and there’s going to be more blood on the sidewalk.”

***

Notes from a webinar on plotting a story

Plotting Mnemonic (Annie Lamott)

  • Action
  • Background
  • Conflict
  • Development
  • End
    • Crisis
    • Climax
    • Consequences

Needed Items

  • If you plot feels too thin, it does not need more events or back story or characters – it needs layers and complexity.
  • Every chapter and scene must keep things changing for your character.
  • What does the character want? Who or what is keeping them from it?
  • Exploit character flaws and physical obstacles.
  • The stakes must increase for your character – the goal must be solved at all costs.
  • Your character must have a clear, consistent motivation. The goal should be clear early on in your novel – even though the way the goal looks can change.
  • Describe the story you plan to write in one sentence.
  • Characters must grow and learn. They must develop their external and internal goals and motivations.
  • Plot is about entertaining your readers.

Parts

  • Beginning – This is where the main character makes a decision to act – because of something that’s happened, usually, which has created a goal
  • Middle – The action itself. Keep the reader turning the page. Have a structure plan to decide where action should take place and keep you focused on the plot, i.e. Three Act Structure. Keep the tension rising, with more obstacles and challenges or possibly twists – leading up to “All Is Lost”. Think about the “but” and “so” of the event or scene.
  • End – The climax. Resolve the main conflict of your main character. Ends come about because of the character’s actions. Look at the middle and make sure the end has an impact; make it memorable.

Resources

Plot and Structure – James Scott Bell

 

Scribble April 13, 2017 0

It feels like a Friday the Thirteenth.

***

Water bottle tossing should be an Olympic sport. No, not the 16-ounce bottles of plastic water. I’m talking about the five-gallon bottles men seem to be only able to wrestle to the water cooler. I used to body wrestle the bottle to the top of the cooler. But then, Sheldon taught me how to sling it in a single pass where it would land on the opening. A single Bocce-like underhanded sling using the full range of motion in your arm to lift the bottle onto the cooler. Stepping back from the cooler to watch a water-slinger is ballet crossed with golf.

***

Am I the only one to end up with tiny paper cuts on my tongue after eating a walnut?

***

United Airlines: a man was dragged off a plane resulting in a broken nose and reconstruction surgery; a man was threatened with arrest if he didn’t give up his fully paid first-class ticket for a “more important person”; and on a flight from Mexico to Canada a scorpion fell down from the overhead bin landing in a male passenger’s hair. When he brushed it away, it stung him. The Friendly Skies are not that friendly.

***

Driving through the construction of the Spaghetti Bowl, and the confusing mush of shoulder lines and lane lines, I thought of my Uncle Karl who claimed he suggested to the California Department of Transportation the idea of painting white shoulder lines to keep motorists on the road. This was in the 1930s, I think. I hate to imagine what it must have been like to drive without the shoulder lines. This morning, the drivers, including an 18-wheeler hauling cows, really couldn’t keep between the lines.

***

24 people are stuck on a roller coaster in Maryland. It says they are at a Six Flags but I figure United Airlines probably owns part of the Joker’s Jinx coaster.

***

Just now: a guy pushing a handcart was nearly run over by a city bus advertising a menopause play. This could be a whole story; just saying.

***

I swear to goodness: a second menopause bus just tried to take out the same guy. Definitely a story.

***

Paul Simon is a brilliant writer. Take his Cloudy:

Cloudy
My thoughts are scattered and they’re cloudy
They have no borders, no boundaries
They echo and they swell
From Tolstoy to Tinker Bell
Down from Berkeley to Carmel
Got some pictures in my pocket and a lot of time to kill

You can just see yourself on a bus going nowhere. I always jump to the two-lane road between Sonoma and San Francisco. The grape vine whipping by and the clouds coming up off the bay.

These clouds stick to the sky
Like floating question–why?
And they linger there to die
They don’t know where they’re going, and, my friend, neither do I
Cloudy

In a simple few lines, Simon captures a carefree moment. There is probably a deeper meaning; no matter. A simple day of doing nothing works for me.

 

Scribble April 12, 2017 0

The flag carrier at the front of the parade struggled to keep the Stars and Stripes and the Gadsden Flag from crashing to the ground as the wind whipped at the top of the 30-foot flag pole. He thought perhaps agreeing to carry both flags was a poor choice. Behind him a band of cowboys and their ladies carried various flags. Children wandered away toward the street causing the mothers to pull them back. The flag carrier hesitated slightly as the crowd moved up. He seemed to sense the parade was slowing down; the participants unsure of their route. He pressed on with both flags dipping behind him. At the end of the marchers, a cowboy blew on a sheep horn. A low, mournful cry wafted over the parade. The group marched forward as the man with the sheep’s horn ran to catch up.

***

A Conversation

“I’m just going to take a quick walk to stretch my back.”

“Does your chair tighten you up too?”

“Badly.”

“I heard a rumor we might get new chairs.”

“I heard it too.”

“Either they give us new chairs or they supply us with an unlimited supply of Ibuprofen.”

“Honestly, either option couldn’t hurt.”

***

I wonder what archaeologists will say about my trash. Will they question why I needed to eat so many pop-cycles finding only five-inch sticks at the bottom of an eroded bag? Or why I threw out a stack of unopened junk mail promising millions if I just entered the clearinghouse sweepstakes? Does the unopened mail mean something and should I have recycled it?

I never used to worry about my garbage. It would go into a can, the trash man would lift it into the truck, and away it would go to the landfill. Then Earth Day came along and I have wondered if I am doing enough to reduce my trash thumbprint of waste? I threw away my entire collection of Mother Earth News magazines and replaced them with a thumb drive with 40 years worth of magazines in roughly three inches. I now wonder if someone will find the magazines and wonder why I was so wasteful? They will never find the zip drive; I plan on hiding it in my junk drawer. Hopefully, I won’t get the bright idea to empty it.

Too much stuff ending up in an archaeologist’s museum. Here is a stack of battered and torn magazines advocating against too much waste. And over here, is the same pile of magazines in a plastic memory device. At least the paper can degrade; they memory stick will be around for a long, long, time.

 

Scribble April 10, 2017 0

The business of writing never ends. Sometimes, writing requires reading, thought, and daydreaming.

***

Blood covered the sidewalk in front of the doorway. Something had died. But nothing showed up on the tape and the security guards knew nothing about the killing. It happened in the blind space no one talked about. They knew about the limitation of the security camera. It was a fact. The janitor could only imagine the crime as he washed the blood covering the sidewalk. Nearby, a rose bush was wrenched from his pot. A fight? No one knew. Nothing showed up on the tape so it was of no concern.

***

The sun blinded his face so he closed the curtain. Now the office seemed like a coffin. He looked back at the window but the sunlight shining through the eyelets blinded him again. He would have to wait for the sun to rise further up in the sky. The weekend ended too soon; he still could feel Saturday’s party. The light in his eyes made the headache hurt worse. He took a drink of cool water and closed his eyes. He’d better rest before the day gets too hectic.

***

My agent called to say I was up for a par. only, I couldn’t admit I was an actor. I was hired as a real person. So, no prepping for the part. I just needed to show up and pretend to be real. Was this acting? I wasn’t sure I could pass as a guy off the street. What if I fell into my training? I decided to go to the mall and see how real people acted. Of course, they weren’t acting; they were being real.

***

The weeds in the culvert smelled burnt. The smell matched the yellow, dried leaves. A kind of dried, dirty smell with a touch of what burnt toast smelled like in the morning. The rain stopped months ago and the rocks in the dried stream looked hot. A breeze touched some of the dried grass down on the rocks and they seemed to flinch away. A grey lizard darted across the ravine avoiding the rocks. He paused for a second looking back. I tossed a rock at him and he ran away toward the shade.

***

I leaned against the stick bending it outward as my weight pushed it down farther into the stream bed. I pushed at the rocks below. The four of us sat on the bridge dangling our legs over the stream. The girls giggled and shivered as the breeze reminded them of winter. A spring storm blew through the valley pushing white clouds closer to the mountains. They gathered at the summit and threatened to rain.

I pushed the stick down again balancing myself against it. Until it broke and I dropped off the bridge landing on my nose in the stream.  The cold water rushed around my face and I lay in the water surprised by the accident. My father jumped down to pick me up. I started to cry. My mother held me close in her arms and looked at my forehead. She seemed concerned. I understood her worry later when a giant goose egg rose up above my right eye. The bump lasted more than a week. My sisters took turns touching it. The bruise sent a spark of pain every time one of them touched it. I lost the stick. It floated down the stream to tangle up in the bank below the house. I avoided the stream the rest of the summer.

 

March 31, 2017 Scribble 0

March 31, 2017: Clearly a lion day. The wind knocked over two trucks with a gust near 84 mph at St. Rose Parkway.

***

“You should live in Vermont.”

“Why would I want that?”

“Vermont is a nice place for wildness.”

“Nine months of snow, two months of mosquitoes, and only two tolerant months.”

“There’s all the maple syrup you can eat.”

“I don’t even like pancakes.”

“Maybe you should try a stack with some real maple syrup.”

“You know what I do with my syrup now?”

“No.”

“I buy a bottle every three years just so I can throw it away.”

“You don’t like maple syrup?”

“Oh, I love it already mixed into my oatmeal.

“So, you do like maple.”

“You can make maple oatmeal even better by pouring maple syrup on it.”

“Sounds like you need to eat more oatmeal.”

***

The voices in my head compete to be heard.

***

The phone alarm directing him to take his medicine went off every two hours. If he forgot, the alarm grew insistent and demanded he satisfy its need. He put the alarm on snooze. Sometimes he couldn’t take care of the plea. The pills sat in a drawer while he sat around a conference table. The alarm made him ashamed; a grown man tethered to a pill bottle. He tapped his phone. It alarmed nine minutes later. A reminder of the reminder of the first alarm. He put it on snooze again. He looked at the speaker then his phone. He could see the dust falling around his wrist. The speaker’s mouth became a painful slow motion movie of round vowels and hard consonants. The clock hand grew larger beating out every deliberate second. It went off again. The medicine would have to wait.

***

A dead pop star on a doubledecker bus

His  ghostly image promising a real experience

Circus performers moon dancing through Pepsi fire

So real you can touch his face

Like visiting Madame Tussauds to touch wax.

***

Tally Ho, the leader seemed to cry as he led his besty and their girls on a forced march of The Strip. The map on his phone showed only two blocks of walking. Two miles later and the girls needed a drink. Bring on the party, we’re finally here.

***

Enough looking at the window watching the mindless tourists; time to get to work.

 

March 29, 2017 Scribble 0

Worse than letting everything I write drop in the wastebasket, the blog deleted some posts. Some really good stuff too!

Reminds me of the time I wrote 2,500 words for a magazine only to have the computer flash and die. All of those thoughtful words were gone. I madly wrote it again and the second time it was better; Less superfluous verbiage and more succinct in style.

This is a space to write, explore, and make mistakes. I just wish the electrons felt as highly about my writing as I do.

***

A cat has 32 muscles in each ear.

To switch and scriggle and unruly wiggle.

For mischief playing or a glancing Lear.

My cat uses those muscles to make me giggle.

***

No owls exist on Antarctica. No snow owls, nor great horned owls. So to find Athene cunicularia, the burrowing owl, on the beach near Palmer Station startled Betsy Granger. The owl looked nearly dead sprinkled among debris from last night’s storm. It must have been caught up in the wind and tossed from Argentina. Betsy chocked up the find up to serendipity. The Gentoos eyed the owl with skeptical glances. For its part, the stranger just sat on the rocky beach as if to ponder it’s new home.

***

The pedicab driver begged the couple to take a ride with him to Fremont Street. Of course, they were uneasy. No pedicabs lined the street and they didn’t know what to think of him. They declined the ride. He turned around on the one-way street and peddled back up the bicycle lane opposite the traffic. Maybe if he got closer to the Container Park he might find a fare.

***

Water leaked out of the cliff forming a irrigation waterfall from the alfalfa and corn fields north of Hagerman. The photographers pushed off from the shore in a long boat headed toward the island in the middle of the Snake River. The mayflies rose up in the spring sun darting around the passengers. A single fly landed on Tom’s cheek. He brushed it away in a casual sweep. He pulled his green hat down as the boat skied across the water. A few yards from the island the boat slowed. On its starboard, a group of nesting grebes rested in the water lilies. The birds dipped below the water in an uncomfortable dance between avoiding the boat and protecting their nests. Tom lined up the birds taking closeups of the water nests with his Nikon. The boat slid across the water with the current. Soon, it reached the island and the passengers climbed onto the shore.

The island covered in cottonwoods seemed primordial. Wisps of grass hung from the bottom of the trees. The air carried a distinctive muddy smell. And then the prize; hidden among the trees hundreds of Great Blue Herons made their nests. Each bird stood stoic among the lower branches hidden as sticks. Their eyes bubbled out from their beaks. But otherwise, they stood still. The photographers took time to capture each bird. They stood silent too. Then the photographers left as the melancholy of the birds was too great. The boat skid back across the water toward the far shore.