Oct 3, 2008

Fun Friday - Comic Books (AGAIN)

Comic Book Tattoo is a collection of fifty-some stories, each connected with one of Tori Amos’s songs, and sometimes only tangentially. Each story is prefaced with the lyrics by which it was inspired, and though the book itself is 480 pages, each story is short, coming in under fifteen pages. They’re not exactly novel-length, then, but many of the artists have done incredible things in creating worlds within those confines.

“They were stories packed dense and twisted tight, all gears and curls and knots and fragments. I would listen to her songs and I would want to imagine. She made me dream. I listened to her songs and I created stories,” writes Neil Gaiman in his introduction. That sentiment is precisely what Comic Book Tattoo is about -- the songs, and the stories they create. Of course, it’s one of the points of stories, too -- the places that might otherwise go unseen, the moods and dreamworlds sometimes forgotten. (Above excerpted from Bookslut)

Dave Navarro's Spread TV: Rantz Hoseley: Spread TV Interview: EP 11

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Tori Amos talks about Comic Book Tattoo!


Oct 2, 2008

Thursday Thirteen - 13 Writing Tips

We look to the minds of the masters to get you the top 13 writing tips you need (or maybe not) to know!

1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted. (Vonnegut)
Never use a long word where a short one will do. (Orwell)
3. Use the active voice. (Strunk & White)
4. Know where you’re going. (Billy Wilder)
5. Something that you feel will find its own form (Kerouac)
6. Never use the words "suddenly" or "all hell broke loose." (Elmore Leonard)
7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia. (Vonnegut)
8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages. (Vonnegut)
9. Keep related words together. (Strunk & White)
10. Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip. (Elmore Leonard)
11. Place the emphatic words of a sentence at the end. (Strunk & White)
12. In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you (Kerouac)
13. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition (Kerouac)

How does the list hold up? When you go to the source pages the numbers in my list correspond with the matching number in each individual list. Does that even make any sense? Now that everything is as clear as mud... What tip is your favorite? Which tip from the original lists would you have included?

Oct 1, 2008

Writing Wednesday - Writing Poetry

On this Writing Wednesday, it also happens that I am launching a new blog. Why in the world do I need a new blog? Well that's easy! I for the next 30 days I will be writing a poem a day and recording the experience. I would love it if you stop by and see my creations.

So why did I decide to do this? In part, I have no idea. The other night I found this page about the 30 poems in 30 days and decided that I just needed to do it and share the experience with others. I decided to start a new blog because it would be too much posting all the poems on top of all my normal posts (well, when I am actually posting.) I didn't want to spam you.

Writing Wedneday - Writing Your Own Story

"I would like to believe this is a story I'm telling. I need to believe it. I must believe it. Those who can believe that such stories are only stories have a better chance.

If it's only a story I'm telling, then I have control over the ending. Then there will be an ending, to the story, and real life will come after it. I can pick up where I left off."
-- The Handmaid's Tale

Sep 30, 2008

Short Story Not Saturday - The Machine Stops Part 2

Once again I would like to revisit "The Machine Stops" for my second part in a theoretical three part series exploring this story. You can read Part 1 here. This story was written in 1909 by E. M. Forster.

Part 2: Kuno's Story and Direct Experience
"I have been threatened with Homelessness" said Kuno.

Chapter 2: The Mending Apparatus

Chapter 1 of "The Machine Stops" was focused on the world through Vashti's eyes. Showing use the reverence she has for the machine and acceptance of their underground existence. Chapter 2 focuses on Kuno and his experience and the exploration of his hope for more out of life than sitting in a room having every desire met by a push of a button and a movement inside the Machine.

No one really knew what Homelessness was. To Vashti all she knew was, "Homelessness means death. The victim is exposed to the air, which kills him."

Her son had been threatened with death and she wanted to know why. The simple answer, the one she couldn't understand was her desire for direct experience. The world, the propaganda had brough about the vilification of the direct experience. One should not go out into the world and experience something, but simply sit in their cell, and have the Machine tell her what the world was like.

Kuno's desires of hope brought him to the surface. The surface was open to visitation when the correct paperwork was filled out, which of course Kuno did not fill. He found his own way out above the Machine.
"You think it irreligious of me to have found out a way of my own. It was just what the Committee thought, when they threatened me with Homelessness."

At this she grew angry. "I worship nothing!" she cried. "I am most advanced. I don"t think you irreligious, for there is no such thing as religion left. All the fear and the superstition that existed once have been destroyed by the Machine."
Yet Vashti does worship something. As much as she denies it, we the reader knows that she is worshipping the Machine. What does Vashti gain from this worship? And what does the Machine gain from the abolition of worshopping anything else?

Kuno is strong and physically restless. Like Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron" in this world the strong are punished for being so. But luckily for Kuno he is only slightly above average, otherwise he would be dead. The strong babies are killed at birth to save them from the natural discomfort they will find being confined in a single cell for the entirety of their existence.
"In the dawn of the world our weakly must be exposed on Mount Taygetus, in its twilight our strong will suffer euthanasia, that the Machine may progress, that the Machine may progress, that the Machine may progress eternally."
The thought of this is so striking and so chilling; proclaiming the success of the Machine over the success of humanity. When Kuno says, "We have lost a part of ourselves." We are not shocked, we agree. Who is running this world? With the eternal progression of the Machine as the highest thought, as the only thought. Through his direct experience of the surface, Kuno is able to connect with something. With a truth, with an understanding about the void in humanity, comparing what they once were against what currently is.

Vashti accuses Kuno of "throwing civilization away." That his observations about man will hurt humanity. But they are not spoken against the people, they are spoken against the machine. Kuno says,
"Man is the measure. That was my first lesson. Man's feet are the measure for distance, his hands are the measure for ownership, his body is the measure for all that is lovable and desirable and strong."
Chapter 2 is mostly Kuno's voice and his experience above ground and his thoughts. At first Vashti is scared for her son and the threat of his Homelessness, but by the end, she sees how different from her direct experience has made him. "She knew that he was fated. If he did not die today he would die tomorrow. There was not room for such a person in the world." He transforms from a son to a monster with individual thoughts against and contrary to the Machine. Like the Machine she just hums behind the Kuno's narrative with meaningless proclamations of propaganda.

Kuno says to her something she should reflect upon but it just passes right through Vashti. How does it effect the reader?
"Cannot you see, cannot all you lecturers see, that it is we that are dying, and that down here the only thing that really lives in the Machine? We created the Machine, to do our will, but we cannot make it do our will now. It was robbed us of the sense of space and of the sense of touch, it has blurred every human relation and narrowed down love to a carnal act, it has paralysed our bodies and our wills, and now it compels us to worship it."
Thanks once again to E. M. Forster for creating this wonderful story which continues to astound and overwhelm me with each revisit.

Other works by Forster:
Have you read any of his novels?

Teen Tuesday - Brightly Burning

Kate DiCamillo's The Tiger Rising is a stunning young adult novel. I recently finished it and though it and a quick and easy read, it is also beautiful and intelligent. I love the storytelling of this book and would recommend it to anyone.

Within the story there is mention of the Blake poem, The Tyger, which I chose to explore here.

TIGER, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder and what art
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand and what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? What dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And water'd heaven with their tears,
Did He smile His work to see?
Did He who made the lamb make thee?

Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

Sep 28, 2008

The Sunday Salon - The Late Night Edition

The Sunday Salon.com

I have been exploring a lot of new types of books and different genres for me lately. Not that long ago I read my first graphic novel. I also have been looking at science fiction fairly heavily. I always thought that I was not a fan of science fiction, I think in part because it is always lumped together with fantasy and I see them as one in the same. But I have loved dystopic fiction for years, yet it only occurred to me in the last year or so that most dystopic fiction falls under the category of science fiction.

Last year I decided to read CP's favorite book. It was my first conscious dip into science fiction. While I did not particularly enjoy Battlefield Earth, I do take a certain pride in having read it. It is also the longest book I have ever read.

I started asking for recommendations from friends on science fiction books. Many of the ones they mentioned were names and titles I had heard of. Some of them were even books I own. But I decided to start off on the slow side. Yesterday I posted the first part on my reading of "The Machine Stop." I thoroughly enjoyed my reading of it and cannot wait to explore it more.

Through Wikipedia I was able to better understand the depth of the genre and figure out which classifications of the genre interest me most. Classifications like Artificial Worlds and Robot Stories interest me more than Intelligent Animals.

One of the titles that I hear over and over is Ender's Game. I happen to have this on audio and I started listening to it. I am greatful this was the case because I am not sure I would have gotten into it if I was reading it on my own. In fact I find this with a lot of science ficiton. I struggle in the beginning with the new words and worlds and names.

I am currently reading The Green Book. I am not that far into it but I am enjoying it very much. The first line is, "Father said, 'We can take very little with us.'" Where are they going and why? This young adult novel is very slim and is a quick and easy read yet still highly enjoyable.

In the upcoming weeks I have committed myself to read two science fiction short stories called The Last Question and Paladin of the Lost Hour. Have you read these or would you like to? I invite you to read them with me and share your thoughts.

What is your favorite genre?
What science fiction books do you recommend?
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