Monday, May 31, 2010

5/30/10: I Didn't Kill Dennis Hopper

We've all seen the story/TV show/movie about the writer who magically finds that his stories come to life, with chaos ensuing. It's a ubiquitous fantasy of the writing class, it seems. Sure, I've had a couple similar ideas float across my gray matter, though I can't say I've ever tried to tackle the tired old plot. Not only does it break the writer-as-the-protagonist rule, but also the ridiculously-overused-scenario rule. Plus, I just don't like it. It seems like a fifth-rate Bentley Little story, or maybe something from Tales from the Crypt. But now I'm rambling.

Anyway, I wrote a short story in the first weeks of May, one of several. Without going into detail, the story's plot involved Dennis Hopper as being our nation's next actor/President, and that he was assassinated. Don't ask me why I chose Dennis Hopper as the unfortunate victim of my antagonist's machinations, he was just the first guy my mind pulled out of its hat. So I wrote it into the story. Except I didn't -- I referenced "President Hopper" throughout the piece, but I couldn't find a way to work in that it was Dennis Hopper without being expository.

Until last night, the 30th, when I was doing the story's final draft in preparation for submission. I wrote it in as a last-second idea, but I needed to look up a list of Mr. Hopper's movies to do so, which led me to his Wikipedia page. As I scanned the page, however, I by chance noticed that he was, surprisingly, deceased, after which I checked the day: May 29th, 2010. The very day before I cemented his fictional demise.

Some seriously freaky stuff, right there.

Monday, May 24, 2010

5/24/10: What's in a Name?

Everyone seems to have a different take on conjuring names for fictional characters. Some writers take the passive approach, using whatever functional title that comes to mind; others make a science of it, correlating popular baby-names for the time period of their fiction, researching regional trends, commencing Pagan rituals, etc., etc. Me, I'm one of the former. It's not that I'm lazy or don't want to enrich my character with a fitting name, I just have faith in whatever my strange mind barfs up when the time comes. I rarely get a bum name, so I've come to stick with this non-process.

Today was no exception. I was finishing up a short piece I've been working on, and I needed a name. Raymond, the erudite name-creature in my head said, so I put it down. But then I needed a last name, and the creature went suspiciously silent. I pondered this a moment, during which I resorted to feeling around Raymond's character some. He was a doctor, I knew, as required by his role in my narrative, and then it hit me that he was Jewish, so I began swishing these attributes through my mind's mouth, seeing what taste it made -- and that's when his surname came to me, Scheinlind. Very Jewish, kind of doctor -- perfect. However, I wasn't sure if I was spelling it right, so I consulted Google, entering, simply, "scheinlind".

A page of results bearing the name came up, so I knew I'd hit the nail on my head. Before I closed out my browser and went back to work, though, I noticed something about the first hit on Google's list: it opened with an account of someone who'd "recently read a beautiful new translation of the Book of Job by Raymond Scheinlind."

If I happen to meet Raymond Scheinlind when I'm at the post office today, I'm going to run screaming (it's nothing personal, Mr. Scheinlind, you understand).

Thursday, May 6, 2010

5/4-5/5/10: David Lynch

Did I say I'm not a fan of Hollywood? Well, I'm not, and though I typically avoid film and TV like the plague, every now and then I get the inkling to swallow some moving images, much as some people get the urge to severe a limb, or drink shoe polish. I get the itch irregularly, maybe every few months. Earlier this week, though, I got it two days in a row.

It's always magic when it happens, my movie itch, despite the unpleasantry that usually precede it. It goes like this, most of the time: I'll be going along, doing my starving-writer thing, free from the shackles of The Tube; and, suddenly, my inspiration will die. Just gone, yoinked like a plug. So then I'll get up, despondent, do whatever I have to do, and be left with a couple hours to kill. Over time, I've learned to recognize this as a divine cue to take in a film of some sort, and I always heed it, because I never finish the ingested movie without getting something from it (I've ripped of -- errr, come away with many writing ideas after watching these select movies).

Before I go into the pair of films I happened to stumble across, I should go into the book I was reading at the time, Mystery by Peter Straub. It was a decent read, though I'm not much of a mystery buff, but none of that matters: what does are two elements from the book, the blue rose and, much smaller within the story, the tenor sax. The blue rose is a running element in the text, a key part of the "mystery" and something that's never fully explained, symbolically, at least; while the tenor sax is just mentioned in passing, a little one-line scrap of atmosphere thrown in arbitrarily.


Tuesday, May 4th. I woke up, ate, wrote for less than an hour, and -- poof! -- my inspiration farted out and I was left looking for a film to watch. I had no idea what I should watch, I own no movies, so I wracked my head for any possible movie that may serve my purposes, eventually settling on Lost Highway, for reasons I don't remember. I'd seen the Lynch film advertised when it came out in '97, but never watched it, even though I'd bought the soundtrack (seems like buying a leash without owning a dog, in retrospect). So I went out, rented the film, and watched it, and, having never experienced David Lynch, I was blown away, despite its incredibly disjointed and alienating narrative -- but, again, that's another post. What's important is that one of the film's main characters happened to play the tenor sax, as stated by said character near the start of the film. You may be thinking So what? but the thing is, I just happened to read the page of Mystery referencing the tenor sax barely an hour after watching Lost Highway. I can't remember the last time I saw mentioned the words tenor sax, unless you count mondegreening better sex. Neat, huh? Well, that's only half the story, though.

Now comes Wednesday, May 5th, yesterday, as of writing. I woke up, psyched to tear through a short story to make up for Tuesday's non-performance ... and the same thing happened, an hour of warming up then nothing. Soooo ... back to the untapped Lynch library, this time for Twin Peaks Fire Walk With Me. Again, the film blew me away, for its sheer bizarrity and vignette-based narrative, if not its remarkable cinematography, but I'll cut to the chase: near the start of the film, you are introduced to a loose theme that runs through the length of the flick, something never explained or elaborated on -- the blue rose.

It's of note that I finished Mystery, a five-hundred-fifty page novel, on Tuesday afternoon.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Website Open

I've opened my homepage, with a short story, "Big", and the first chapter of The End of Jack Cruz available, as of writing. Check it out.