Wednesday, 7 October 2015

timebomb






Sundog Rising!
Reflections on living the life literary by the Urban Sundog




Timebomb





Way back when I was taking Love Poets of the Ancient World in University, our Professor divided us into small groups, gave us a random selection of poems by Ancient Love Poets, and asked us to try to classify them chronologically in the order they were likely written.

I never quite understood the point of the exercise, since all the poems were in modern English translations and not the original Greek and Latin. So essentially in that format, they’d all manifested probably in the last 20 years or so. Nevertheless I and my partner Rob valiantly took a stab at guessing what likely preceded which.





Rob quickly developed a viable strategy for dealing with any poem we weren’t certain of — which to be honest was most of them. He would read the poem over, stare at it blankly, and then dramatically declare that the piece was “Timeless!” Thereby relieving us of any duty to classify it further.





While a thoroughly sensible approach for dealing with annoying academic assignments, I wonder just how legitimate a claim it is to declare any piece of literature truly timeless? The question came more pertinently to my mind a week or so ago when I read another scholarly work on a classic lover: The James Bond Phenomenon.





The book was a collection of essays on both the Ian Fleming novels and the movies up to and including Pierce Brosnan's. As I reread the entire series of Fleming books within the last five years, I was particularly intrigued by the section on the literary Bond.

Every writer started off their essay with a long apologia on how the Fleming books are so terribly dated, in their sexist and imperialist attitudes. And therefore practically pointless to read today. Hardly timeless.





I disagree …

For one thing just about every one of the writers also agreed that Fleming was actually writing a fantasy of how he’d like the world to be, and fantasies never do go out of style. The books read as well to me in the early teens of the 21st Century as they did in the 60s of the 20th, when I first read them.

Sure there’s a pretty misogynistic attitude in the books, and I’m not saying that’s a good thing. But unfortunately it hardly “dates” the work. Listen to any rap lyrics lately?





Obviously James Bond has many selling points beyond certain of Ian Fleming’s personal unpleasant idiosyncrasies, or they wouldn’t still be making movies about him. The man’s an icon, as the essays also pointed out. A fictional giant other characters are compared against.





There may be aspects of the books readers will have problems with, but the overall image carries the day against them. At worst, when read today one might say James Bond novels need to be seen as representing a certain historical period, but there’s nothing indefensible about that. In fact, most writers, while arguing that as much as Bond represents a world of British Imperialism that has passed away, also state he signifies a new era of freedom in behaviour harkening in the swinging Sixties and all that followed from that revolution in social mores.





So if the portrayal of suspect attitudes isn’t necessarily enough to render a book unreadable given the weight of other factors involved in the storytelling, what might genuinely define a book as so dated that it loses credibility?





At one of those great second hand bookstores I like to frequent, I came across a true gem a few years back — the paperback novel issued to accompany the famous 1956 sci-fi movie classic Forbidden Planet. The story tells the tale of a valiant group of spacefaring Earthmen landing on a distant planet in the far-flung future. In the novel, the first thing the Doctor on the expedition does when he gets off the spaceship on this Edenic brave new world is … wait for it … light a cigarette.

Now that’s dated.





Following up on that theme, there is one aspect of the Ian Fleming novels that has to affect our perception of James Bond as a timeless hero. James, as written, when it comes to smokes is easily a two-pack a day man. He never would have made it out of the 20th Century alive with that habit.




*****





Photography by Renee Beaubien, at Beyond the Prism
on Flickr, at:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/128997372@N08/





*****

REALITY FICTION AND BEYOND!

The Big Mosquito continues, with Instalments 18 and 19 of 49 going up Monday October 5th and Friday, October 9th. As always, at:

http://realficone.blogspot.ca/

Mark Spaeth faces financial ruin, and Jason starts really getting to the heart of things. But not where he would have expected to look.

Featuring:

32.   cheque, please
33.   the latest thing



Sink Decomposition Series
by Fandango Moberly
#20 of 50

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

dismal youth






Sundog Rising!
Reflections on living the life literary by the Urban Sundog




My Dismal Youth — Je Vous En Pris





So-o disillusioning!

The apparently apocryphal story I always heard ran Samuel Beckett was out walking the streets of Paris one day when a complete stranger walked up to him and for no reason knifed him in the heart. Fortunately, Sam’s overcoat was so heavy, the blade was turned aside and he wasn’t killed. An archetypical Beckettian incident in a Beckettian universe.





Well. According to Jacqueline Bograd Weld in her biography of Peggy Guggenheim which I’m presently reading, this is what really happened. Beckett had gone to the movies with some friends one evening, and …

On the way home after the standard stop in a café, Beckett and his two friends, Alan and Belinda Duncan, ran into a pimp named Prudent who worked on the avenue d’Orléans. Prudent fell into step beside Beckett, asking for money, which Beckett insisted quite honestly that he did not have. Prudent persevered, offering the services of one of his poules in return for a small loan. Beckett tried to move away, but Prudent simply grew louder and grabbed him by the arm, whereupon Beckett flung the man away, knocking him to the ground. Enraged, the pimp got up, stabbed Beckett in the chest with a clasp knife, and fled.

The knife did barely miss Beckett’s heart. Skipping ahead a bit, Weld says:

Although Beckett’s injuries were serious enough to keep him hospitalized for quite some time, when he finally recovered and appeared before the magistrate and Prudent the pimp apologized, Beckett was broadminded enough to reply, “Je vous en pris” (“Think nothing of it”).





While I don’t deny that the story as told here still lends a certain flair to Beckett’s behaviour which is rather appealing, it doesn’t have the same gripping effect the apocryphal version always did for me when I was in my late teens and early twenties.

You see, back then, in my dismal youth, I was convinced the three greatest writers of all time were Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Samuel Beckett, and Franz Kafka.





Their united European view of life as nothing better than a complete mistake and malaise suited my same opinion of the phenomenon perfectly. Céline exemplified the point of view the best, of course. I was pleased to read in Weld’s book that Beckett once shared my opinion.





In a nutshell, Louis Ferdinand Céline was a French writer who also worked as a doctor for poverty wages in a poor neighbourhood of France. He was also a condemned collaborationist during the Second World War, a presumed anti-semite, and the writer of such uplifting books as Journey to the End of the Night and Death on the Instalment Plan. I discovered him through his Castle to Castle trilogy, a nonfiction set of three books depicting how at the end of World War Two he set off on foot with his wife and cat to walk across Europe to Denmark looking for sanctuary, and how when he finally arrived, he was immediately wounded in the head and thrown in jail.

Just about summed up growing up in Charleswood perfectly, to my adolescent mind.





I don’t presume to say that my “coming-of-age” experience — God I hate that phrase — reflected the average, but I know I wasn’t alone either. What is there in a society so replete in everything a person might want such as ours that leads our youth into states of alienation so complete only the bleakest depictions of life possible seem to match their emotional states? I shake my head.

I was starting to get over it by the time I left University. The last essay I wrote before getting my degree was “The Humour of Samuel Beckett and Franz Kafka”. Part of the appeal of all three writers for me was that on a certain level, they all got the joke.





But reading Weld’s book today reminds me of the time when I thought Beckett’s pov was the only one that made sense, especially when events unfurl as randomly as I always thought the knife attack Sam suffered was. In fact, that event ended very well for Beckett. A passing nurse, Suzanne Dechevaux-Dumesnil, rushed over to save his life. Beckett and Suzanne spent the rest of their lives together, eventually marrying in the early 60s.

As I read the genuine account of the knifing, it occurred to me that now that I’m older and have been through more than a few genuine wringers in life myself, you’d think I’d be more amenable now to the approach to life Beckett, Céline and Kafka offer so graphically, and that I embraced so eagerly when I was too young to know any better.

But, nah. Now that I’m old and relatively content, I find Sam’s statement in court regarding his attacker more apropos.

Je vous en pris.







*****





Photography by Renee Beaubien, at Beyond the Prism
on Flickr, at:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/128997372@N08/




*****


Artists Worth A Look!

Terrific interview with musician Jill Tracy by Eddie Muller of the Film Noir Foundation:
“Where Shadows Fall: Jill Tracy talks to Noir City Magazine

http://jilltracy.com/jt/uncategorized/where-shadows-fall-jill-tracy-talks-to-noir-city-magazine/






*****

REALITY FICTION AND BEYOND!

The Big Mosquito continues, with Instalments 16 and 17 of 49 going up Monday September 28th and Friday, October 2nd. As always, at:

http://realficone.blogspot.ca/

Kent Wesley returns, Jason defines Morpheus Interruptus, and everyone gets a good night’s sleep. Sort of.

Featuring:

26.   glad I had that drink
27.   the nearest bed
28.   or sofa
29.   
30.   senseless diary
31.   padding



Sink Decomposition Series
by Fandango Moberly
#18 of 50

The mounting tension! The Green Spatula is gone! The whole colour scheme is changing! Red is peeking through! What’s next? What’s next? The Slotted Spoon? The Slotted Spoon?

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Wednesday Wednesday Wednesday





Sundog Rising!
Reflections on living the life literary by the Urban Sundog





Wednesday Got Moves!





It only seems natural that as I always post these blogs on Wednesday that I would eventually get around to writing a piece on that wonderful example of style and innocence that I would love to have as a role model for my own daughter if I ever had one.



Wednesday Addams.


Wednesday has been portrayed by many actors, many ways, in many formats in popular media, but I always return to three main depictions as my favourites. The original Charles Addams cartoons — Wednesday’s a product of Chas’s mind, after all! — Christina Ricci in the 2 Addams Family movies from the early 90s, and, of course, the immortal Lisa Loring in the original black and white Addams Family television show from the sixties.





When the show originally ran I was actually the same age as Wednesday, and I admit to having a bit of a crush on her. Why couldn’t the girls in my school be more like her? Life would have made so much more sense … Now that I’m old enough to be her grandfather, my feelings are of course, more paternal. Or even avuncular. After all, Wednesday always had such a special relationship with her uncles.

“Hello, Uncle Fester. You still alive?” (TV show — 1965)





Let’s take a look at how Wednesday’s creator thought of her. In the words of the immortal Charles Addams, Wednesday is the “Child of woe … wan and delicate … sensitive and on the quiet side, she loves the picnics and outings to the underground caverns … a solemn child, prim in dress and, on the whole, pretty lost … secretive and imaginative, poetic, seems underprivileged and given to occasional tantrums … has six toes on one foot”.





Ah, yes. Recall the heartwarming Chas Addams cartoon from July 21st, 1945, set in Wednesday’s bedroom. Morticia is leaning in the doorway as only Morticia can lean, looking on approvingly as father Gomez performs the age-old rhyming ritual with sweet daughter Wednesday on her bed: “This little piggy went to market, this little piggy stayed home, This little piggy had roast beef, this little piggy had none, This little piggy went wee wee wee all the way home, And this little piggy …





Wednesday always had that sibling rivalry thing going with her brother Pugsley as well. In the Christina Ricci movies, Wednesday is much more the aggressor, of which I approve. In the Charles Addams’s originals, she was much more the oppressed, and occasionally needed a stern word from her mother to prompt her to stand up for herself.

Morticia: Well, don’t come whining to me. Go tell him you’ll poison him right back.





Charles describes Wednesday as “secretive and imaginative”, qualities which of course are both highly appealing. But what I admire most in Wednesday is her innate introspective quiet. Such a well mannered obedient child, when not suffering one of her tantrums concerning feeling lost.





It is probably Wednesday’s creative side that I love best, however. Addams described Wednesday as “poetic”, but it took Lisa Loring to bring that facet of her character to life on television in 1966.


I have a gloomy little spider;
I love to sit down close beside her.
She never knows where she has been
'cause all she does is spin and spin.
My spider's quite a busy roamer,
which is why I called her Homer.
She loves to work and spin all day,
and then at night she likes to play.
Her web is like my mother's hair;
her eyes have got my father's stare.
She may not jump or twist or bend
but a spider's a girl's best friend.


Wednesday may be one of the great outsiders in life, but she knows where her heart lies, and is ever loyal to those who love her best in return. Such as the Addams’s butler, Lurch. Wednesday is always open to looking out for Lurch’s best interests.

Wednesday: (finds Lurch hiding) Just because we want you to go to The Butlers' Ball? It'll be fun.
Lurch: I like being miserable.
Wednesday: You might find a nice girl to be miserable with.
(TV show — 1964: “Lurch Learns to Dance”)

Ever the true artiste in the family, Wednesday does take it upon herself to teach the forlorn Frankenstein’s Monster-like Lurch how to dance.





As it turns out, Lurch is no slouch at the old not-so-soft-shoe. But watch carefully. Because on top of all her other seemingly endless charming qualities, Wednesday Addams got moves. (She’d probably come up with some way to remove the commercial on this video beforehand too. Or replace Mr. Clean with Uncle Fester. Endure. The wait’s worth it.)




https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KZYiB7a3YU


Ah, yes. And one can only imagine what Wednesday might have been like when she finally hit adolescence …







*****





Photography by Renee Beaubien, at Beyond the Prism
on Flickr, at:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/128997372@N08/




*****

REALITY FICTION AND BEYOND!

The Big Mosquito continues, getting thoroughly back on the wagon after my holiday break with 3 postings this week. Numbers 13, 14 and 15 of 49 go up Monday September 21st, Wednesday September 23rd, and Friday, September 25th. Back to 2 a week through to the end next week. As always, at:

http://realficone.blogspot.ca/

Events in the dream lab take a surprisingly bloodless turn, Edward MacNiece tries to save the Kent Wesley mega-production, and Jason goes totally King Lear for Conrad Moberly.

Featuring:

23.   crisis in the dream machine
24.   miss bunnybloom and the police inspector
25.   who loves ya?



Sink Decomposition Series
by Fandango Moberly
#16 of 50

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

brainshift






Sundog Rising!
Reflections on living the life literary by the Urban Sundog




Brainshift





Some people are really hung up on getting the right shoe on the right foot in the right order every morning. Or left, depending on their inclination. It’s a superstition sort of thing.

I feel the same way about the right and left sides of my brain. Except I can never remember which is which, which can definitely lead to some bad luck.





It always seems to make more sense to me that the left side of the brain should be the more creative side, because the concept of “left” in general is less conforming than “right”. We’re practically all right-handed, right? And creativity should be an act of the unconventional.





But the reason we’re almost all right-handed is because that’s the left side of our brain asserting itself. The left side of the brain controls the right side of the body’s actions, etc.

So really using the left side of your brain is more conformist. Those who prefer the left brain are actually the math whizzes, and the supposedly really imaginative people are predominantly right brained.





But I have a certain routine to my day — a left brain concept to begin with, I wonder? — which involves not only the creation of new writing but the processing and refining of writing I’ve already done. I work on three books at once. I start by editing a chapter of an already completed manuscript of one book. Then I type five new pages of manuscript into the computer from a second book, performing a first edit on the material as I go through it. And when those two jobs are done, I switch to writing a completely new manuscript.

And somewhere in there I think I tend to forget which side of my brain I put on first that morning.





There actually is a clear explanation for this. While the left brain is in charge of logic and precise mathematics, the left hemisphere of your brain is also dominant in language. That side of your brain processes what you hear and handles most of the functions of speaking.

Since writers are primarily hearing voices and talking to themselves all day, that’s a big part of the creative process. I suspect even more so during the editing and processing stages of the raw writing.





The right side of your brain is big on helping us interpret visual imagery. It makes sense of what we see. It also plays a role in language, but in the sense of interpreting a person’s tone and the context of what you’re hearing.

That is writing a new manuscript in a nutshell. The images and the dialogue come flying at you and you’ve got to organize and transcribe those unprocessed concepts somehow onto the page in a manner that not only makes sense but that hopefully offers some flair and panache as well.





That moment when I make the shift from editing and typing to drafting a new story each morning is when my brain tends to stall. If I think — no pun intended — of the move in these terms, it does make sense that I can’t just flow from one process to another. I might be working on writing the whole time, but the first two activities have me primarily accessing my left brain, while creating new material definitely puts me in the realm of the right.

So it’s no surprise my poor old think-box isn’t all that swift at making the shift some days. Especially since I’m never all that certain whether I put on my left or my right brain first that morning.





What surprises me is that I stall at the moment I want to begin something I’m eagerly looking forward to doing — writing a new manuscript. Generally I know precisely where I’m starting, and I’ve got an outline prepared of what I want to write. But that full creative process, man …

In all honesty I must be employing both sides of my brain during all three of these processes, editing, typing and drafting, just with one side more dominant at any particular moment than the other. So sudden brainshift obviously involves a struggle to see which side can maintain control. Not a problem you usually run into putting on your footwear. Your left foot doesn’t suddenly start kicking your right foot. No! I get the sock first! Gimme!





My corpus callosum must be a mess some days! For example, I tried to write that term “corpus callosum” from memory there, with the vague impression that I knew it was the right word. But trying to employ a vague impression is very much right brain activity, while remembering how to spell it correctly is very much left brain activity. So with my right brain leading the way, the first time I typed callosum, I got every single vowel wrong. But then my left brain kicked in and I logically went to check the proper spelling, and …

It’s a miracle anyone ever manages to write anything. But no surprise that all good fiction is based on resolving conflict.






*****





Photography by Renee Beaubien, at Beyond the Prism
on Flickr, at:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/128997372@N08/



*****

Coming Event! Grindcore Madness!
A music documentary by Dylan Baillie





And when he’s not shooting metal mayhem, he shoot food videos with his father.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7--BpmTUF5s
John Baillie



*****

REALITY FICTION AND BEYOND!

The Big Mosquito continues, with 3 postings this week, and only 1 next week. There’ll be no Sunblog at all! Numbers 8, 9 and 10 of 49 go up Monday August 31st, Wednesday September 2nd, and Friday, September 4th. With number 11 next Monday, special Labour Day edition, September 7th. As always, at:

http://realficone.blogspot.ca/

Sylvie gets involved on the dream scene, Jason gets hired to investigate no less than 2 mysteries, and it’s time to Meet the Moberlys! Philip Marlowe never had it so good.

Featuring:

13.   dreaming is true
14.   power lunch
15.   senseless diary
16.   let’s dance
17.   the old man
18.   the girlfriend’s pov



Sink Decomposition Series
by Fandango Moberly
#10 of 50

Holiday Schedule:

8 of 49: Monday, August 31st
9 of 49: Wednesday, September 2nd
10 of 49: Friday, September 4th

11 of 49: Monday, September 7th

12 of 49: Friday, September 18th

13 of 49: Monday, September 21st
14 of 49: Wednesday, September 23rd
15 of 49: Friday, September 25th

then back to two a week until the end of the book.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

deadlines






Sundog Rising!
Reflections on living the life literary by the Urban Sundog




Real and Imaginary Deadlines





One of the great advantages of being dead is that you’re finally existing outside of time. You’re absolutely free of the incredible burden of being conscious of the inevitability of the next moment, and the attendant anxiety concerning being aware something’s expected of you. In other words: no more deadlines, real or imaginary.





So it’s curious that we grant the necessity of having to have something done by a certain time that particular term: deadline. The only time you’re completely free of deadlines is, ironically, when you’re dead.

Makes you wonder about the etymology of the word. Makes me wonder anyway, so I did some research. Seems it comes from a Civil War term — such a rich period for language that was, giving us “sideburns” and “hookers” too — although not necessarily hookers with sideburns — regarding where it was safe for prisoners to walk in a stockade. If a prisoner crossed a certain line, a guard would shoot him dead. This got adapted into American newspaper jargon around 1920, meaning “time limit”. If you didn’t get your work in on time, you were obviously a “dead man”. And thus free of deadlines forevermore, as I originally observed.





So there is a connection. Sort of.

Outside of a job featuring distinct time constrictions, I would argue any deadline as such is essentially arbitrary. For one thing, is anyone really going to shoot you if you don’t get the work done on time? All my deadlines are presently set by only one person — me. And I wouldn’t touch a gun with a ten foot pole, so I think I’m pretty safe to work for.





That doesn’t stop me from setting deadlines for myself, though.

Right now, I’m looking at this list:

Finish drafting Reality Fiction Four by September 4th, finish editing Confucius Takes a Lover by August 27th — coincidentally my wedding anniversary, something else I better not forget — finish plotting The Devil Is In Retail by October 4th, write 4 more Urban Sunblogs by October 1st, start editing Suspicious Pines September 21st, continue typing Reality Fiction Four into the computer September 21st, send Sticks, Stones and Breaking Bones to a new publisher if I don’t hear from the one it’s currently with by the end of the year …





Do I really have to do any of this? No. Do I want to? Yep. Is anyone holding a gun to my head to make sure I do? Nope — but I do perceive benefits to my existence if I follow through on these plans.

It’s good to have something to work towards. Gives shape and meaning to your life. Plus you can look back at the end of it and say, wow, I really accomplished something. And that is something we should do more of in life, rather than always only worrying about what comes next.





Because the deadline is never the true reality in any of these cases. It’s what you actually do to meet the deadline that counts.

That’s living, with someone pointing a gun at you or not.




*****





Photography by Renee Beaubien, at Beyond the Prism
on Flickr, at:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/128997372@N08/



*****

Coming Event! Grindcore Madness!
A music documentary by Dylan Baillie





And when he’s not shooting metal mayhem, he shoot food videos with his father.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7--BpmTUF5s
John Baillie



*****

REALITY FICTION AND BEYOND!

The Big Mosquito continues, with postings number 6 and 7 of 49, Monday August 24th and Friday, August 28th. As always, at:

http://realficone.blogspot.ca/

The morning after the party the night before, and intrigue on the film set.

Featuring:

10.   back at the Marquee
11.   don’t call the cops, they’ll call you
12.   sound and light



Sink Decomposition Series
by Fandango Moberly
#8 of 50

Holiday Schedule:

Next Instalment — 7 of 49: Friday, August 28th

8 of 49: Monday, August 31st
9 of 49: Wednesday, September 2nd
10 of 49: Friday, September 4th

11 of 49: Monday, September 7th

12 of 49: Friday, September 18th

13 of 49: Monday, September 21st
14 of 49: Wednesday, September 23rd
15 of 49: Friday, September 25th

then back to two a week until the end of the book.