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 lesson, 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…

Fen Gawinn

I’ve been slowly writing a book that takes place after my Tormay trilogy. Several years after the end of The Wicked Day. Judging from how the plot is going and what the characters are demanding of me, I’d say I’m about 3/4 of the way done with the first draft.

The main character is Fen Gawinn, the adopted daughter of Owain and Sib Gawinn. She’s about seventeen in this story and, as luck would have it, she’s forced to leave the city of Hearne and deal with some rather dark characters. If you remember, there’s a certain individual towards the end of The Wicked Day who ends up… entranced, or perhaps frozen is the right word after picking up a very unusual book. That individual also figures in this story.

Anyway, here’s a concept art piece of Fen. Worried, unsure of herself, but determined. I’m going to do some more concept art for a few of the other characters in the story. Helps to wrap my mind around who they actually are.

Radio Commercials

Radio commercials have a story to tell. And it seems to be the same story for a lot of them.

During the work week, I spend a decent amount of time driving around each day. I have to check on job sites, crews, inspect properties, etc. My driving time is usually occupied in three different ways: silence, talk radio, or listening to music.

Both the music and the talk radio stations have very similar commercials. Off the top of my head, I estimate half of the commercials use fear as the main sales motivator. Precious metals, emergency food, vaccines (so many vaccine commercials), real estate, health products. The list is long and tedious.

As for the commercials that don’t use fear as a motivator, I wonder if they’re missing out on potential sales? There’s a commercial for Babel, the language learning app, that might want to rethink its approach. The current Babel commercial has the usual patter about learning typical tourist phrases, such as “My name is Fred,” “I will order the hamburger,” and “Where is the bathroom?”

A fear-based Babel commercial could tout learning phrases like “There’s no point kidnapping me, as my family is poor,” or “Only a nitwit would want to harvest my kidneys, as I have advanced cirrhosis.” I bet a lot of people planning on overseas travel would appreciate knowing some phrases like that.

Sorry. Sometimes my humor goes a bit dark.