The Legacy of Light

Son #2 just finished a new song called Legacy. It’s available at most of the usual places. In terms of light and darkness, his music is full of light and shadows. You can’t avoid the shadows down here on Earth if you really want to see how bright the light is.

Contrasts are necessary for context.

In writing news, I’m about 90% done with a new epic fantasy. It’s currently around 170,000 words. Once the draft is finished, I’ll go back through it to adjust things–(probably) mostly character arcs and sub plots.

I find the revision process more enjoyable than the first draft process. Polishing, nudging, refining, deepening, adding in narrator perspective, all that sort of thing. The danger for me in the revision process is allowing perfection and good to get in a protracted battle. Those can be lengthy battles, kind of similar to the Hundred Years War between England and France in the Middle Ages. Edward III should not be allowed a hand in any writing.

The new fantasy is about halfway in between the Tormay trilogy and the Fury Clock in terms of the mix of seriousness versus humor. Maybe an inch or two closer to the South Pole of humor. It contains all of the necessary characters: a semi-delusional farmboy, a dwarf (see photo–yes, I took a photo of him), a wizard, a bad-tempered (but pretty) elf girl, a unflappable swordsman, a stolen map to an Ancient Place You Should Not Visit Unless You’re Fine With a Horrible Death, an extravagant amount of treasure, the Darkness (definitely with a capital D), several psychotic aristocrats, cold ale, and lots of roast boar (in honor of Asterix and Obelix–if you have not read Asterix and Obelix books, you need to get some immediately, as they are pretty much the pinnacle of comic literature).

Speaking of Darkness, the world seems a darker place these days. All the more reason to curl up on the sofa with a good book and an endless supply of snacks. And hopefully not a psycho cat strolling by at random moments to sink her claws into your leg. We just acquired a new kitten who still has not learned when it is appropriate to use claws and when it is not to appropriate to use those same claws. Her name is Pepper and she’s proving to be in the Ghost Pepper-Carolina Reaper category for now. We assume she will mature and make wiser choices sooner than later.

 

The World is Full of Beautiful Things

The world is full of beautiful things, such as butterfly wings and fairytale kings, queens, princesses and ogres. At least, so says Dr. Doolittle–the Rex Harrison version from back when most people were mostly sane.

One of those beautiful things is the newest song from Son #2, the 14-year-old. He’s definitely veering in the cinematic direction, with a touch of introspection and melancholy. This one is called Moonlight, available at and in all places where fine music is sold (also, here it is on Youtube).

I’m trying to recall what I was doing creatively at the same age. I was writing stories, but they were pretty mediocre at best. I remember writing one around that time about a talking avocado and a blender and, perhaps, some kind of extra-terrestrial intrigue. At any rate, I think my teacher recommended to my parents that I get counseling. I don’t know if she said that purely on the basis of that story, or if that story was the straw that broke the proverbial academic camel’s back. By the way, I didn’t go in for counseling and have managed quite a few decades without any homicidal outbursts, kleptomania, hypochondria, multiple personalities, or even extreme paranoia. Though, I will admit to mild paranoia.

Anyway, my creative excellence at 14 does not measure up to Son #2’s composition and recording. He amazes me, but children do that? Don’t they? They amaze their poor, befuddled parents in big and small ways all through life. Such as, how did that toddler get out of his crib and onto the kitchen counter at 3 in the morning?

Another beautiful thing is the gymnastic ability of our 4-month-old kitten Pepper. She leaps in random ways, in sudden contortions of muscle and bone that defy gravity and also choice. Unless, of course, the leaps are caused by her spying the appearance of some invisible creature: angel, demon, leprechaun, honest lawyer, etc. Then, her leaps make sense.

Another beautiful thing is a good steak.

Another beautiful thing is the _____ project I was recently hired to work on by ______. Getting paid to write a _______ for ________ has always been a dream of mine that I gave up a long time ago. For an opportunity like _______ to suddenly materialize out of thin air is shocking, gratifying and pretty darn exciting. Once the ______ is ______, I’ll post all the details. Until then, I can only say _______, __________ , and __________.

This is starting to look one of those subpoenaed FBI documents the House spends years chasing after, only to be given pages of redacted information.

VeggieTales and Everyday Kindness

I recently had the pleasure to write some scripts for the VeggieTales podcast, and the first of those scripts just went live on the official VeggieTales site. Rather exciting to hear one’s words come to life via someone else’s direction and interpretation!

Even though I use to work in production television a long, long time ago, I find it much more enjoyable to stick to the writing and let someone else worry about the actual production. Maybe that’s because I’m getting old and decrepit.

NBC Universal owns VeggieTales and, every year, they release podcast episodes starring Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber. The episodes are fashioned along the lines of an old-style radio variety show. Each episode has a theme such as Joy, Forgiveness, Telling the Truth, etc. And, just as in a variety show, Bob and Larry interview different guests on the show. Sound effects and music are interwoven throughout.

The newly-released episode I wrote is called Everyday Kindness. While the VT podcasts are aimed at young children, the messages they carry are certainly applicable to all of us. I know I still need to work on my everyday kindness…

Anyway, please click on over and give it a listen, particularly if you have young children.

Unexpected Absences

My apologies for neglecting this site for so long. Writing is a free-time occupation. Sadly, it takes place in the bits and pieces of hours that are not taken by my higher priorities: family, 8-5 job, church, community obligations.

Those priorities don’t leave a lot of time (I tend to get a lot of writing done when I’m spending untold weeks in the hospital or slowly dying at home–very productive!). However, a further complication these days is that I’ve been making mini-plunges back into the entertainment world. Writing for hire. I’m not at this point willing to say what shows, properties I’m writing for, but I’ll post links here, once the episodes go live.

While writing for hire isn’t as satisfying as writing my own stories, it certainly pays a lot better.

In other news, perhaps I’m way behind the eight ball, but I just read that Disney is doing a live action remake of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Except there are no dwarves. They are just…normal people? I’m not sure yet. I’ve read conflicting reports on that, in addition to some choice words from Peter Dinklage on the matter.

I have no real issue with Disney choosing to remake old stories. But…the sheer number of remakes does make me wonder. Is Hollywood running out of ideas? If so, why? And, if it is possible to run out of ideas, what does that say about the nature of the universe in terms of finite vs infinite? If matter is finite, is theoretical scope of creativity also finite?

 

Tolkien Counter-Culture Once Again

Once again, the writing of J.R.R. Tolkien has become counter-culture. Back in the days of hippies and yippies, Tolkien was accorded mythic status by certain elements within the counter-culture movement. After all, a barefoot hobbit smoking his pipe and out picking mushrooms in the forest had some things in common with a hippie living in a yurt in the forest outside of Santa Cruz. At least, that’s one perspective.

Now, however, decades after the hippies have gone grey and taken the reins of industry and politics, and years after Peter Jackson completed the ultimate mainstreaming of Tolkien, the venerable professor is undergoing a new revision. A recent analysis by an obscure British government bureaucracy called the Research Information and Communications Unit (RICU) has concluded that reading Tolkien can be an indication of right-wing extremism.

I myself would conclude that such analysis can be an indication of profound idiocy. But what do I do know? At any rate, the analysis seems to infer that belief in moral absolutes, in a worldview that acknowledges good and evil, is evidence of extremism. Right-wing extremism, mind you.

Tolkien is in Good Company

Of course, the genius report from the morons at RICU also called out C.S. Lewis, George Orwell, Aldous Huxley and others as philosophically dangerous. I imagine they will go after J.K. Rowling next; though, to be fair, she’s already been targeted by elements of revisionist society.

The RICU report, as absurd as it is, takes place alongside the also recent kerfluffle involving the Puffin publishing giant–and not a big, friendly giant either–announcing their plan to edit the works of Roald Dahl in order to make his books more palatable to the thin-skinned readers of today. Dahl, as anyone who has read him knows, was fond of calling things as they actually were. If Augustus Gloop is fat, then Dahl would call him fat. If Aunt Spiker was a nasty, miserable wretch of a woman, then Dahl would point that out. Let the chips of reality fall where they may seemed to be his writing motto.

And all of us children understood accordingly and were not harmed in the reading. That is, until today. Apparently, the children of today are thin-shelled shrinking snails who recoil at even a few grains of brisk salt.

Modern Literary Criticism is the Wicked Witch

I’ve always detested the modern view of literary criticism that says the reader should bring his or her perspectives to a story and make that interpretation more important, more primary, than the author’s original intent. This is just a despicable manifestation of narcissism. Modern literary criticism is the witch holding out the poisoned apple.

A lot of people seem fine with the apple. As long as it is organic.

This inward focus is one of the same motivations fueling Puffin’s decision to sanitize Dahl for the modern reader. They are intent on remaking Dahl in their own image. It’s an absolutely outrageous decision and will contribute further to the overall dumbing down of society. When we decouple books and communication in general from the author’s original intent, we are separating ourselves from a proper understanding of history.

Oh, there are plenty of reasons why rejection of original intent is bad, but the loss of history is particularly troubling. If we forget history, we tend to then… well, you can fill in the rest of the sentence, unless you’ve forgotten your history.

Considering the intersection between RICU’s analysis of Tolkien and Puffin’s contempt of Dahl, I daresay it’s only a matter of time before someone suggest an edit of Tolkien for modern sensibilities.

And where do we go from there?

We cannot reshape reality into our own image. That applies equally to Roald Dahl, as well as the arrogance of the transhumanist movement in both its cyborg branch and its sad gender branch. Be content with making your bed when you consider reshaping reality.

I find it ironic that many of these revisionist nitwitteries going on–whether in academia, entertainment, business or government–are overseen by the aging post-hippies of the 60s and 70s, those admiring fans of Bilbo Baggins and his free-wheeling hobbit ways.

There and back again…