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Author Archives: Peter Damien

Half of Everything (Novel Update #1)

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Yesterday, went off to see Star Trek Into Darkness (or Star Trekkin To Darkness, depending on where you put your space) for a second time because it was at a 

nearby cheap seats theater, and because I really liked the film and can’t wait for it to appear in a buyable form. I think it’s really clever Star Trek, which is a relief, and I was surprised to find myself declaring it my favorite Star Trek movie of them all, apart from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country which is probably unmovable at this point.

(At the concession stand, buying some popcorn, the nice girl behind the counter sold us Star Trek t-shirts, too. I hope they don’t keep offering T-shirts for films because I am a sucker for black t-shirts with things on ’em)

Anyway, it was good I’d already seen the film because it was kind of a wreck. First thirty minutes of the film, the theater lights were up. The sound was too loud (you would wince every time a high-pitched monster would scream) and the picture 

wasn’t fitted to the screen, so any captions you needed to read were only a bit there. And then it all went horribly wrong halfway through when the picture vanished…and stayed vanished. People grumbled and came and went. We collected our stuff to go and discovered that the theater bulb had exploded, so we got free tickets for a different show (which makes me happy, in that Pacific Rim is coming to the cheap seats quite soon. AND WILL THEY SELL ME A T-SHIRT WITH GIANT ROBOTS AND MONSTERS ON IT? I HOPE THEY WILL)

So we went to the local mall to walk…only to discover that the mall’s ongoing remodeling meant that — inexplicably — they had brought in cranes and bulldozers and physically demolished half the mall. That was a new one by me. So we walked half a mall after seeing half a movie.

I expected, when we went for dinner, that we would get halfway through our food and the restaurant would catch on fire or something, but the theme failed to continue.

“How’s the writing going?” Oh you know. It goes and it goes. Well, it doesn’t really. Very hard to carve writing space out of the day. Hard doesn’t equal impossible, though. I keep writing notes for this novel in my spare time — I’m calling it FUGUE right now, because it fits, but it’s not very descriptive or interesting so it may change.

 

I’m fascinated by the note-taking. I keep writing down situations I want to explore somewhere in the novel, and then they lead to more situations and ideas. If THIS 

happens, then THIS character would react THUSLY and this would change a later portion of the book LIKE SO…

THe book isn’t outlined or particularly plotted. It’s has a plot but mostly a lot of room to explore a couple of people and the world in which they move, which is all I wanted. I have no idea how long a book this is gonna be. I thought it would be pretty short, practically a long-novella, but the more I explore my notes the more I realize I have to unpack and talk about. The trick is how long I can sustain a very quiet narrative about two people mostly failing to interact overtly before it gets boring. 200,000 words of that would have worked for Proust, but Proust I am not. 

I have the first two long scenes full in my head. I know all about them. What happens right after that I actually have no idea, and I’m pleased that I’m not worrying about it at all. I just want to get these two scenes down clearly and then I’ll go from there.

And of course, it’s proving useful that I have BookRiot articles to write and books to read and maybe review. It’s useful to stop and wander off for a bit to kvetch in article form, then come back to the book. I like that a lot. 

Right. Off to scribble some notes and then maybe get this scene moving. 

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Posted by on August 12, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Dusting off the blog

Dusting off the blog

I never blog very much, and I always kind of regret it, because I love blogs.

A good blog is fantastic. Browsing a long and scrupulously updated blog is a pleasure, as you travel not only through the years of a person’s life, but also a recent time period. That’s terrific. So I read them and love them and then look guiltily at my own sadly neglected blog.

Why is mine so neglected? The problem, I guess, is that I have too many outlets for my thinkerings. Things that can become article-shaped do and go live on BookRiot, or somewhere. Things that are story shaped go into stories. Random rants on various topics that cross my fevered brain go onto twitter, where I would probably claim citizenship if I could.

So all of this is to offer a complicated preamble to “I want to use my blog more,” and the bit where I forget about it and FAIL to use my blog more.

I’m working on a novel.

I’m always nervous to even mention in it, in that I’m terrified I’ll jinx it and the whole project will collapse instantly. Mainly because I have so little novelistic confidence, I guess.

I’m not a natural novelist. The easy muscles I have for short stories and articles just don’t seem to exist for novels, and I dunno why. I suppose it’s just not what I’m naturally suited for. Just like I’m a happy long-distance runner, but am terrible at sprints and hate them.

Still, as much as I like reading blogs, I like reading the blogged process of a novel being written. It’s so much fun to reach the point in, say, Neil Gaiman’s blog where he’s writing the first bits of ANANSI BOYS, and then you go on reading through to him finishing the book, it being published, and so on. And since I’m working on this book right now and enjoying it enormously, I thought it light be fun to blog my way through it.

There’s also the practical, mercenary aspect of this which is that if I blog and talk about it, I’m hoping it’ll keep me working when I get discouraged, which is probably inevitable.

So. This is the plan. Next post, maybe I’ll usefully talk about the book? Or running? Or something? See, it’s already losing focus and going off the rails…

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

A Ten-Page Comic

So, this was a small project I started working on with a friend, almost two years ago, for an anthology that is now long-since passed. It was written while I was thinking about the revolutions that were happening in Egypt, at the time, an event that is ALSO now since passed. It’s only ten-pages long, and is me examining revolutions, superheroes, children, and other stuff. 

It’s only script, which may not be of an interest to anyone…but *I* like reading comic script and dammit, I’m kind of proud of what I did here. This was the first comic script where I felt like I did what I was trying to.  So here you are.

It never had a title, I’m afraid.

10 PAGE EGYPTIAN COMIC
(working title)

PAGE ONE

 

PANEL ONE: A shot of a simple, narrow bedroom, in which there is a thin bed with no sheets or pillow on it, a window with the blinds down, but open, the sunlight coming through in slices, and a handful of boxes stacked against one wall. There is one box open, in the foreground, and a boy is standing in front of it. He is upright, a bright red hijab falling unfolded in both hands.

 

CAPTION: Friday, January 28th, 2011

 

CAPTION: The revolution out in the streets of Cairo has led to a little war, right here in the Saqr home, and Darius takes advantage of it to grab his mother’s hijab.

 

PANEL TWO: a close shot of the hijab, tucked under one of Darius’ arms, against his skinny body, mostly folded again but still spilling and drooping around his arm. We can make out the details, the intricate weave on the fabric. More importantly, we also note that it is frayed, loose threads hanging off in spots. This is an old hijab.

 

CAPTION: he’s taken it twice, and both times his grandmother has yelled at him for going through the things she has kept for all of these years.

 

CAPTION: she has kept all the things her daughter left behind in Egypt, including Darius.

 

PANEL THREE: in this one, we are in a simple apartment living room. It is also narrow, like all of the house, and full of more furniture than could be of use. All tables and wall space is covered with photos in frames, family photos. Squashed in among all of the furniture, there is a comouter set up on a small table. It is a desktop PC with an older bulky CRT monitor.  There is a small television set, and angled in front of it is an old chair.

 

Sitting in the chair is an old man, Grandpa Saqr. He is short and squat, a round head on a round body. Balding, with a thick mustache, and bushy eyebrows. All is hair has faded to white except his eyebrows which remain as black as ever. He wears black slacks and a white button down shirt, and an olive green open vest over it, which barely fits. This is a man who was once muscular and worked hard at a job, but whose muscles have now turned to flab and whose clothes, no longer worn out, still seem like the pieces of a uniform.  he is staring listlessly at the tv, slouched low, remote dangling from one hand. Faintly grumpy, like a man enduring something.

 

what he is enduring is standing next to him. His wife is arguing with him, but it’s a one-sided argument, as you can tell from her body posture and his. With one hand she is gesturing toward that PC in the corner of the room, and is not yelling, but is clearly agitated. She is tall and thin, with a gaunt face, and she also has thick eyebrows. She wears a simple dress, cut to past her knee. One gets the sense that, like the house and her husband, she settled years ago and nothing much has changed.

 

CAPTION: brought on by events out in the city, this battle is new…

 

CAPTION:… but the war itself is old and worn-in. Comfortable.

 

PANEL FOUR: an outside shot. We are looking closely at the side of an old and dirty apartment building, of the type that has metal fire escapes up the side of the  building, the metal platforms and ladders-stairs winding up and down. In the center of the panel, on one fire escape, a window is pushed open and Darius is slipping out. One leg and his head out already. One arm bracing against the top of the open window, and the other on the bottom. This is not a big window. He’s holding the hijab in bottom hand. On the fire escape is a potted plant, a big pot with a very small plant in it.

 

CAPTION: no one notices him go out the kitchen window.

 

PANEL FIVE: this panel is just a small one, probably in the corner of panel four. A close shot of Darius, from about stomach level, angled upward. We can see he has draped the hijab around his shoulders, across his back, in classic blanket-cape-style. Across his neck, he is tying it.

 

CAPTION: Grandmother thinks he wants the hijab because it was his mothers, but he wants it because it’s the right size, and it’s red. As a cape should be.

 

PAGE TWO

 

PANEL ONE: A long panel across the top of the page, showing us a panoramic view of the top of the apartment building. It’s a flat roof area, a small two-foot-wall running around the edge. There are some potted plants up here, and a few trash bags here and there. It’s just generally unkempt, but not badly. There are  big air condition units, long rectangular things — the sorts that have two or three big fans blowing up out of them — and this is close to one edge of the building. Maybe two feet separate the air conditioning unit from the edge of the building.

 

In this panel, we see Darius just beginning to climb up onto the air conditioning unit. His red hajib-cape is fluttering to one side.

 

No dialog.

 

PANEL TWO: A shot of Darius, from about the waist-up. Standing on top of the air conditioning unit, with his arms planted squarely on his hips, he’s looking out across Cairo. The cape snaps back away from him in the wind. His messy hair is blown up and away from his face. He has a wide, contented smile on his face.

 

CAPTION: This is his favorite spot, right here. It’s not just because of the hot, dry wind snapping his cape, threatening to push him over.

 

CAPTION: Or the quiet and lack of arguments…

 

PANEL THREE: This shot is from behind Darius.  We are looking over his left shoulder, out at Cairo, which sprawls away past him. It’s a fairly tall apartment building. He’s in the same pose as before.

 

CAPTION: …it’s the view.

e

CAPTION: Up here, it’s not hard to feel like a super-hero.

 

PANEL FOUR: A frontal shot, again, pretty much the same as panel two. The difference is that now, it’s not Darius we’re seeing — scrawny kid with too much hair and a hajib knotted around his neck — it’s a super-hero. Tall and broad-shouldered, long cape flowing behind him.

 

CAPTION: In fact, it takes no effort at all.

 

PANEL FIVE: The edge of the building is just in view, but we’re looking up toward the sky now. Darius is no longer present. Up in the sky, distant but still recognizable to us, is the Adult Superhero, flying away.

 

CAPTION: In Al Tahrir Square, the crowd roars. Perhaps they roar for him.

 

PAGE THREE:

 

PANEL ONE: We are high up in the sky, with the Adult Superhero in view, swooping past us, arms extended, classic super-hero-in-flight posture. If his cape is at all visible, we can see that it still has the intricate design-work that was present on the hajib.

 

CAPTION: Darius’ grandfather is the one who gave him the comic books

 

CAPTION: They’re old and ragged. They were used, decades earlier, as ballasts on cargo ships  coming from the United States, grandfather says.

 

PANEL TWO: We are above Adult Super-hero, who is landing amidst a crowd. The crowd is huge. We may not be able to tell, but we’re in Al Tahrir square, where the massive crowds have gathered, spilling over into the streets. All are looking up at him. A huge circle is cleared as people get out of the way of him landing.

 

CAPTION: Grandmother disapproves of them, but Darius hides them, and she can do nothing.

 

PANEL THREE: All of the people in the crowd are clustered around Adult Superhero, pushing up close to him, touching him, cheering around him. He is smiling broadly at them all. He is taller than everyone by at least a foot.

 

PANEL FOUR: A close-up shot of Darius’s head and shoulders. We see his eyes are shut. The hajib still flaps out behind him, and his hair is still being blown by the wind. He has a satisfied smile on his face. It’s a good fantasy.

 

GRANDFATHER: Where are you, boy?

 

PANEL FIVE: A shot from back, closer to the fire escape. In one corner of the panel, we see just a hint of Grandfather Saqr, since we’re right by his shoulder. Darius is a little ways off, on the air conditioner. He has turned around, eyes open, probably looking a bit surprised.

 

DARIUS: I’m right here, grandfather.

 

PANEL SIX: A frontal shot of Grandfather Saqr, who has an amiable look on his face, and one hand tucked into his pants pocket. With the other hand, he is tapping one temple with his index finger.

 

GRANDFATHER: I meant up here. You were a million miles away, I think.

 

PAGE FOUR:

 

PANEL ONE: Grandfather Saqr leverages himself into a sitting position on the edge of the air conditioner, next to where Darius is standing. Classic old-man-leveraging posture, one hand on his knee, and one hand on the air conditioner, lowering himself. We can see Darius from about midriff down, but he’s still standing upright, so we can’t see his top half.

 

DARIUS: Nothing. Just stuff.

 

GRANDFATHER: What kind of stuff?

 

PANEL TWO: This is a long panel. Most of it is a shot of Adult Superhero lifting a car to throw at men who are firing guns at him. The bullets are bouncing off his chest. A handful of nearby civilians are looking on in amazement. (Strongly reminiscent of Action Comics #1 cover).

 

CAPTION (Darius): I kinda wish I could swoop down there, where all those people are. Like in comics.

 

CAPTION (Darius): Tear the doors off their hinges and walk into his office and arrest the bad guy.

 

CAPTION (Darius): I could just pick him up and fly to jail. Nothing could hurt me.

 

PANEL THREE: Similar to panel one. Darius is still standing up and only half-visible to us in the panel. Grandfather Saqr is huching over, a cigarette in one corner of his mouth, cupping it with his hands as he tries to light it against the wind.

 

GRANDFATHER: Hmn….

 

PANEL FOUR: Darius squats down, balancing on his toes, his arms resting on his knees. His hajib-cape is fluttering to the right, going behind his grandfather. He has his head tilted, looking at Grandfather Saqr. Grandfather has one hand tucking something into a pocket on his shirt, inside his vest. The cigarette is held between two fingers in his other hand, which rests on his knee. A little trail of smoke comes off it, and a little puff of smoke is just above his head.

DARIUS: You don’t think it sounds cool?

GRANDFATHER: How am I to know cool? It is a very fine idea, in comics. In real life, not so simple.

 

GRANDFATHER: That is your mother’s hajib.

 

PANEL FIVE: Now Darius sits down next to Grandfather Saqr. He is looking down at his hands, which are resting in his lap. Grandfather Saqr holds the cigarette pinched between two fingers and takes a puff.

 

DARIUS: Are you gonna tell?

GRANDFATHER: Hmn. I think she has enough things to be upset about without this too. Besides, it is either a cape, or sitting in a box being eaten by mice.

 

GRANDFATHER: And I think it is a fine cape.

 

PAGE FIVE:

 

PANEL ONE: A different angle of the two men sitting. Darius has his head tilted toward his grandfather, and is leaning quite close to him. His grandfather is blowing smoke. The wind blows not only Darius’ overly long hair around, but it fluffs up the wisps of his grandfather’s hair too.

 

DARIUS: What were you and her fighting about?

 

PANEL TWO: Inside the Saqr apartment, full of clutter and gloom and dust. In the foreground of the panel is the desktop computer’s shape, and we are looking overtop it, past it, to Grandma Saqr, who is standing a little ways back, clenched up and nervous. One arm across her midsection, the other arm braced against it, hand on her mouth, she is biting at her nails. Nervous and distraught.

 

CAPTION (Grandfather): When your tetta is upset, she fights. It is her way.

 

CAPTION (grandfather): Yesterday, all the internet went down. She tells me this, and the television agrees with her.

 

PANEL THREE: Inside the living room, Grandmother and Grandfather are fighting. Grandmother is clearly irate and yelling, furious at Grandfather (mostly, though, just upset and scared) and Grandfather appears less concerned and mostly defensive and put-upon. In the background, we can see the window that leads out onto the fire escape, which is open from Darius having slipped out.

 

CAPTION (grandfather): Grandmother says, if the internet is down, how will your mother talk to us?

 

CAPTION (grandfather): I say, well, she never does anyway, why will she start now?

CAPTION (grandfather): …this was a poor thing to say.

 

PANEL FOUR: Back on the roof, Darius and Grandfather Saqr sitting side by side. Grandfather is examining his cigarette, held pinched between two fingertips. Darius is leaning back, looking at an upward angle at the world around them.

 

GRANDFATHER: So it seems a good idea to come out here and have a smoke. Wait for her to calm down.

 

GRANDFATHER: …but do not tell her I am smoking a cigarette.

 

DARIUS: I won’t.

 

DARIUS: Grandfather?

 

PANEL FIVE: From inside of what is presumably a government building, we are looking toward the main entrance, a pair of large, metal double-doors. They have been crumpled and pried open by Adult Superhero, cheering civilians behind him.

 

CAPTION (Darius): How come they’re all just standing there? How come they don’t go get him?

 

PAGE SIX

 

PANEL ONE: Them sitting on the air conditioner again. Darius is looking at his Grandfather, who is gesturing as he talks, the cigarette hanging from one corner of his mouth.

GRANDFATHER: Because it would be violent, and so much of the time, violence only makes things worse.

 

DARIUS: Not in comics.

 

PANEL TWO: Grandfather Saqr has his hands extended, as if he is trying to sculpt his thoughts in the air in front of him, forming them into words.

 

GRANDFATHER: Even in comics. It is fantasy, like how they can fly, or shoot laser beams.

 

DARIUS: But it does work in comics! Burst through a wall and punch out the bad guy, then take him to the police. That always works!

 

PANEL THREE: Grandfather Saqr whacks Darius upside the back of the head, and Darius makes a face at the hard, but not painful blow.

 

No dialog.

 

PANEL FOUR: Darius rubs the back of his head, frowning. Grandfather Saqr bends over to one side, stubbing the remnant of his cigarette out on the ground.

 

GRANDFATHER: You understand?

 

DARIUS: No! That really hurt!

 

GRANDFATHER: Maybe violence does not always work, hm?

 

GRANDFATHER: Of course they could go in, throw punches, take away whomever they want. But that is what he would have done, and they do not wish to be like him.

 

PANEL FIVE: Grandfather Saqr gestures again. He is a man who speaks with his hands, cannot help but to do so. Darius again has his hands resting in his lap. They are clenched into fists, palms-upward, and he is looking not at his hands, but out and away from himself and Grandfather, out toward Al Tahrir Square, off in the distance.

 

GRANDFATHER: Besides, they must deal with the idea of the man. That is much harder to defeat than one man in an office with a title. The idea of a man can be so much bigger and more powerful. You understand?

 

PANEL SIX: Grandfather is still sitting there, looking about the same as the last panel. But next to him is not Darius, but Adult Superhero, sitting with his arms resting on his legs, his long cape flowing out behind him. He is much larger than Grandfather. He is looking down at his open hands.

 

DARIUS: Yeah…

 

PAGE SEVEN

 

PANEL ONE: A shot from behind, and just above Darius and Grandfather Saqr. We can see that Darius sits pretty straight, the great posture of the young and still-mostly-boneless, where Grandfather Saqr is hunched and rounded. Darius’ hajib-cape blows out and away from him a little, to the left, toward his grandfather’s back. Grandfather Saqr’s vest’s hem is also blowing a little as the wind gets under it, and it blows to the left too. Where the hajib is red and has a pattern woven into it, the vest is plain brown, drab, old. Nevertheless, they both blow to the side.

 

GRANDFATHER: I met him once, you know.

DARIUS: Huh?

 

GRANDFATHER: The president.

 

PANEL TWO: A shot from the side, very close to Grandfather’s Saqr’s face, so that he is not only in the foreground of the panel, on the right side, but his eyes are the main focus. He has a faraway look. Behind him, in the background, we can see Darius looking frontal toward us, facing his grandfather.

 

DARIUS: Really? When?

 

GRANDFATHER:  I have no head for time. I wore my best suit. The one I married in.

 

PANEL THREE: This is a wide panel, beneath the other two. Now we are sometime in the past, and because we are in memory, the world around us is a bit sketchy and hazy. A younger Grandfather Saqr stands in the middle of a line of other men. He has thick black hair, a thicker mustache, is a little more muscular in his stocky build. He wears a brown suit which looks a lot like the vest he’s wearing while sitting on the air conditioner. In his hands, he clutches a cap with two hands, as if at any moment, someone will take it away.

 

GRANDFATHER: Some ceremony. Some event. He would come down the line, shake our hands, say thank you, good of you to come, have a nice time, that sort of thing.

 

GRANDFATHER: I was very scared.

 

PANEL FOUR: Again in the present, Darius and Grandfather Saqr talking. Grandfather Saqr is leaning in close to Darius, as if confiding a secret.

 

GRANDFATHER: Would you like to know a strange thing?

DARIUS: What is it?

PANEL FIVE: Back in sketchy memory again. Two black-shaped bodyguards are standing beside the form of the President Of Egypt, who has stopped in front of Young Grandfather Saqr, and they are shaking hands. Grandfather Saqr is about five-foot-eleven-inches, and is thus about six inches TALLER than the President of Egypt.

 

GRANDFATHER: I was stunned to discover that I was taller than the President.

 

PRESIDENT: What?

GRANDFATHER: Nothing.

 

PANEL SIX: Back in the present, but this time it is the younger Grandfather Saqr, his hat still in hand, who is sitting on the air conditioner and leaning in toward Darius.

 

GRANDFATHER: I see the powerful and famous on the television, photo in the paper…I assume they are taller than me. Bigger than me.

 

DARIUS: Well sure.

 

GRANDFATHER:  I have met three famous people, and each time, it was a shock that they were human sized. Twice, I was taller. Each time, it felt like a mistake. It should have been —

 

PANEL SEVEN: A bigger panel, if there’s room, in which the BIG shape of the President is looming over a small, terrified, child-like Grandfather Saqr. Everything about the President is too big. Huge booming, roaring mouth. Fe-fi-fo-fum.

 

PRESIDENT: THANK YOU FOR COMING!!! ENJOY YOURSELF!!!

GRANDFATHER (tiny text): yes! yes!

 

PAGE EIGHT:

 

PANEL ONE: Back on the roof. We are a distance away from the air conditioner. It is Adult Superhero, who has stood up and walked forward, to the edge of the roof. He is looking out, toward us. In the background, standing front of the air conditioner, is Young Grandfather Saqr. He is looking a little upward.

 

DARIUS: We should be down there, shouldn’t we? With all the people, doing what we can, right?

 

DARIUS: How come you aren’t down there, grandpa?

 

PANEL TWO: Same angle. Darius is still Adult Superhero, looking out at the world. But behind him, by the air conditioner, Grandfather Saqr is just his old, normal self. Nothing young about him anymore. Now he’s looking a little downward.

 

GRANDFATHER: You are too young. And I am too old.

 

PANEL THREE: He is now Darius and not Adult Superhero and is turned away from the edge of the roof and toward Grandfather Saqr. A close-up shot on just Darius.

 

DARIUS: Maybe, but…David, the butcher, grandmother was talking to him on the phone, and he is down there. And he’s your age.

 

PANEL FOUR: At a side angle, so that we can see Darius on one side of the panel, facing Grandfather Saqr who is on the other side of the panel.

 

GRANDFATHER: David is fifteen years younger than I am.

 

DARIUS: He’s still old, though.

 

PANEL FIVE: Grandfather Saqr standing there, hands in his pockets, facing us, looking disgruntled.

 

GRANDFATHER: Hmph.

 

GRANDFATHER: Come. It’s time we went back inside. If matters become violent, we should be in.

 

PANEL SIX: Darius and Grandfather Saqr walking toward the fire escape, some distance away from us, their backs toward us. Grandfather Saqr has his arm draped across Darius’ shoulders. We can see that Darius is looking sideways and up at Grandfather Saqr.

 

DARIUS: I thought violence wouldn’t work?

GRANDFATHER: No. But it happens, sometimes. We will pray it doesn’t.

PAGE NINE

 

PANEL ONE: Grandfather Saqr is standing on the top platform of the fire escape, looking down at Darius, who is heading downward, but has paused to look up at Grandfather Saqr and at us. Darius looks very young, and a bit frightened.

 

DARIUS: If things do get violent…you won’t let anything happen to me. Right?

 

PANEL TWO: A side shot of Grandfather Saqr looking down at Darius. We can see his face, the reassuring smile and expression on it.

 

GRANDFATHER: Never. Not a single thing.

 

GRANDFATHER: Go on down now.

 

PANEL THREE: This is a frontal shot of Grandpa Saqr, who is for just a moment looking out at the city, his hands still tucked in his pockets, a small smile on his face. Tied around his neck with a simple knot is a bright red hajib, which is fluttering in the wind out from behind him.

 

GRANDFATHER: All is well, and all shall be well.

 

PANEL FOUR: A long panel, inside of the Saqr apartment. In the foreground, Darius is moving toward us, down the thin hall and toward his room. in his arms is clutched the red hajib, the knot still in one part of it. In the background, in the living room, his irate grandmother has her hand up and her mouth open, about to say something.

 

CAPTION: In Al Tahrir Square, the crowd roars…

 

PANEL FIVE: The same long panel, same shot, but now Darius is gone from the frame, in his room, and we see Grandfather Saqr has just leaned in and kissed Grandmother Saqr on the cheek. She looked surprised, but has at least closed her mouth and lowered her hand.

 

CAPTION: …but perhaps not for him.

 

PAGE TEN

 

PANEL ONE: A small shot, looking down at Darius, who is lying sprawled on his bed, looking up toward us, and the ceiling. He has his hands tucked behind his head. On his chest is his mother’s hajib, and on top of that is an old super-hero comic.

 

No dialog.

 

PANEL TWO: Adult Superhero is flying high up, near the clouds, over Cairo. He is looking down, and we are looking over his shoulder. Below, we can make out the shape of Al Tahrir Square.

 

CAPTION: Perhaps they roar for themselves, for the future.

 

CAPTION: They are taller than the man they are angry at, and, Darius thinks, he probably knows it.

 

PANEL THREE: A close up shot, from the chest-up, of Adult Superhero, who is looking to the left, out of frame, with a look of surprise and Heroic Determination on his face.

 

CAPTION: There is no need for super-heroes down there, and that’s fine.

 

CAPTION: He’ll defend them against other threats, in the meantime…

 

PANEL FOUR: A big panel, the rest of the page. We are no longer in Cairo, but are out toward the Pyramids and the Sphyinx. they are in the background. Erupting huge out of the sand is a gigantic monster made entirely out of stone, a big roaring, classic 1960’s sort of Jack Kirby monster.  Swooping in toward it, fists extended, is Adult Superhero

 

CAPTION: Darius may be unsure about revolutions, but knows exactly what to do with Boulder Behemoths, after all.

 

 

THE END.

 

 

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Something On My Mind

There is something on my mind, and I have no idea what it is.

This is something that happens to me all the time, which I never understand and which I’m sometimes not aware of: I get hung up on something, without a discernible reason.

This latest instance: two days ago, I remembered I had the BRAVE blu-ray and hadn’t watched the special features on it. I don’t always watch special features, except when it comes to animation and then I watch everything I can glean out of the discs. So I watched the special features over the course of the day. Then, yesterday, I watched BRAVE.

Today, I finished the few special features I found on another disc. The kids want to watch a movie this afternoon, and the ONLY THING I want to watch is BRAVE. Again. Also, my radio stations around the house have gone Celtic and Irish and Scottish. For a bit it was some fiddle. For most of the morning, it’s been the beautiful and elegant music of Cecile Corbel.

I don’t want to watch anything else, but I’m not sure the kids want to see this again, so I’ve proposed we watch…THE SECRET OF THE KELLS, a gorgeous film not entirely related to BRAVE, but not so far removed. 

So. Why?

I dunno. 

This happens all the time. I’ll get completely hung up on an author, or a place, or a piece of art. It can be maddening when I get stuck on a single album or song and it just stays on for ages and ages.

Sometimes, something comes out of it. I’ve had things I’ve been stuck on which have resulted in stories. That doesn’t always happen, though. I can get completely buried in something and nothing ever appears from it.

Eventually, too, the hang-up goes away and suddenly I can’t be bothered to touch the thing, not at gunpoint, for awhile. 

It’s some subconscious part of my brain working something out, and rather than analyze it too thoroughly (I don’t know how to analyze the deeper parts of my brain anyway) I just go with it and trust that maybe it’s doing something useful SOMEwhere.

(At the same time this hang-up started, a short story of mine that’s gone through three busted drafts burbled back to the surface, and I can’t stop thinking about it. I wonder if it’s related, or gonna fix? I guess we’ll find out.)

 

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2013 in Uncategorized

 
Quote

To my mind, Deep Space Nine possesses the ideal balance for most ongoing serialized TV shows: Too little serialization and DS9 would lose its narrative advantages, and too much means risking a lot of “let’s stall for time” style entries that plague stuff like The Walking Dead. For my money, the only effective heavily serialized show on the air right now is Breaking Bad, which has the benefit of Vince Gilligan and his writing staff, and more importantly, a narrative that specifically lends itself to heavy serialization. Content should dictate structure, not the other way around, and too many shows these days see that serialization is the new thing and latch onto it as though the style in and of itself is justification enough. All of which is to say, the balance DS9 has achieved works pretty damn great.

(via an episode review at the AV Club, this summarizes PERFECTLY my problems with some modern TV shows, like the Walking Dead they mention.)

To my mind, Dee…

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Spinning Plates

You’d think the biggest writing problem I’d have as a stay-at-home dad and full time writer is “THE KIDS” and you’d add “OH MY GOD THE KIDS HOW DO YOU STAY SANE WITH ALL THIS NOISE OH MY GOD”

To which I would smile a little and then look up the word “sane” which sounds delicious.

Anyway.

The biggest problem I have is actually that I write three different things more or less all the time. I regularly write articles, primarily for BookRiot, an activity which I have taken unabated pleasure in since I began. I adore writing articles on a range of subjects (well, books.)

I also write short stories pretty much constantly, either for magazines and anthologies or for little collections I’m putting together myself, for fun. I always have a short story on the go. Sometimes two.

And I write novels. These begin with less frequency but go on for a long time as a project. The biggest problem here is that I am not a natural novel-writer. I’m like a walker who is in shape, but is now trying to adjust muscles and breathing to the act of distance running. I love it, but it’s hard.

And the hardest bit of all is balancing all three.

Not the writing itself, but the mental space is my problem. Case in point is that  spent a week or so struggling to get the novel stitched up and off the ground and moving. Bu then I came back to write some articles and realized I had NO IDEAS. i had NOTHING to talk about. Had it finally happened, like I was always worried it would? Had I just abruptly run out of things to talk about?

I doubt it. No, what I think happened is that my mental gears switched to NOVEL, and because I was so focused there, the ARTICLES plate slowed and slowed and stopped spinning (and fell off, this time). I didn’t think of article ideas because I wasn’t perpetually applying motion to the ARTICLES plate. Does that make sense?

So I lamented my problem on twitter, like I do, and discovered EVERYONE ELSE has this problem too.

SO THAT’S HELPFUL.

So what’s the solution? I don’t really know, but I have ideas.

– Structure: building a structured working schedule for the different forms might be the key. Supposing I KNOW that Monday through Wednesday is NOVEL, Thursday through Saturday is ARTICLES? Or some schedule like that? 

– Notes: I have a hunch that carrying a little notebook with me all the time and writing down novel notes, article notes, story notes, bits of dialog, observations, pieces of articles, might be helpful in maintaining a fluidity in the working process, so it isn’t like I have to stop spinning each plate when the others are going. If I’m writing a novel but making not only novel notes but article notes, might that not keep the matter fresh in my mind, so that when I sit to article (can I use that as a verb?) they’re fresher? Some past days, I wrote two or three articles a day. That’s lovely, but unsustainable (and not always fun, to be honest). 

Other solutions? None yet. I’m really pondering this. It has to be a solvable problem, but I haven’t solved it yet. Probably I won’t ever fully solve it. I’ll get the plates going but then I’ll sneeze or something (whatever the hell that means in this metaphor) and they’ll come crashing to the floor. Here’s hoping not, though. Sheesh, I am optimistic at night, aren’t I?

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Google Glass

Lately, I’ve been following the development of Google Glass with a low-level sort of persistent interest. My technology antenna is tuned pretty specifically to stuff that looks like it comes out of the science fiction I consumed in my youth. People always joke “where’s my jet pack?” but I don’t want one of those. I want to live in Star Trek utterly, okay?

Google Glass – the little piece of eyewear that extends in front of your eye and shows you your smartphone display, sort of — is proper science fiction. I don’t think it’ll show up and take over, and actually I think it’s not going to last thanks to the forces of history more than anything else. I think it’s extremely interesting, though.

First, for people concerned that they’re going to become super invasive, that soon you’ll step outside and everyone will turn and tag you like hipster-dressed Borg…chill. This is the same set of fears when Bluetooth headsets appeared. Mostly what happens is, these things self-regulate over time, due to social pressures. It turns out the person having a bluetooth headset left in all the time, shouting as they walk through the mall…is actually just an asshole. they found a market, a niche, and didn’t pervade like they were supposed to.

I can see some people using Google Glass. I can also see an extremely interesting benefit of them, in that if you synced it with a video game, it could be overlaying interesting information on top of the game. That could be really cool.

What’s most interesting, though, is that Google Glass marks a big public step in interactive technology, which is away from the telephone shape. Smartphones have gotten sharper and cooler and more powerful than ever before. They weigh nothing, they take amazing pictures, and so on…but they all look about the same. They are constrained loosely by size and shape and form. Various pieces of slightly rectangular glass.

I think this is the big change we’re about to face next is not processor power or operating system changes, but is the form itself changing…and becoming less uniform. YOU might opt for the phone-shape smartthing, but your buddy opted for the watch-based on which can holographically project a display onto the tabletop (or something).

I’m being vague because I don’t know what’s coming quite next, although I have lots of non-concrete thoughts on the topic. What I predict, though, is that the Google Glass will wind up being the weird middle-child stepping stone that somehow vanishes.

There were compact discs. Then, there were these really interesting mini-discs that Sony put out for awhile that were small, light, easily rewriteable, and pretty cool (I forgot what they’re called, because if you start keeping track of dead technology names, you will begin to forget the names of your kids). Unfortunately, they came out about ten minutes before MP3 Players themselves took off in a big way, and nobody ever noticed the existence of this weird player that had happened in between.

Likewise here. The Google Glass may wind up being a very cool gadget, but one that won’t hang around. I predict it’ll get stepped over. It may be a shame, and lamentable. I can see fun uses for Google Glass. (climbing a mountain, or deep sea diving, for example. How useful to have the camera and some data right there, without having to fumble around) (in Minnesota, I would’ve loved to have been able to text my wife and talk to her when out walking, middle of a death-winter when it is painful and actually dangerous to take your gloved hands out of your pockets.)

So yeah. I think we’re nearly at the end of the smartphone phase, and we’re heading into something else which’ll seem brilliant and obvious once we know what it is. I don’t think it’s Google glass, though.

(Dear Google. Please send me a Google Glass headset so I can play with it and have opinions better)

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2013 in Uncategorized