Entries Tagged as 'books & writing'

art & entertainmentbooks & writing

Book Review: Retroworld (plus, why I hate Star Trek)

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I’ve never been much of a Star Trek fan. It’s not because I don’t like Science Fiction-Star Wars and alien invasion B-movies were a big part of my childhood, I grew up reading the British comic 2000AD, and I wrote my thesis on Philip K. Dick before it was fashionable to do such things. No, I hate Star Trek because it’s so utterly dishonest about human nature and the universe we live in.

Star Trek: The Next Generation is especially egregious. It’s essentially a soap opera about UN diplomats in space, only instead of standing by impotently while alien races are massacred by enemy species, or dispatching squads of blue space-helmeted peacekeepers on alien rape missions, the dull inhabitants of the Starship Enterprise  [Read more →]

books & writingThe Emperor decrees

The Emperor decrees that tripping and falling can no longer be used to enhance a story’s plot

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I have been declared Emperor of the World. Let us not waste time explaining why or how; let’s all simply accept the fact that we are better off, as a result; hence, my next decree:

Emperor’s Decree 4815162342: We’ll have no more of it. Figure something else out. Life’s suspense and life’s problems come from myriad places. Tripping and twisting one’s ankle is not the only way find oneself in danger. It is not the only way for the pursuing ax-murderer to gain ground. Mine the depths, writers.  Oh, and while we are at it, no more using “cuts like knife” and “what is this place?” How about “cuts like a father’s disappointment” or a simple but much more effective: “where the hell are we?” We can’t take it anymore. It will cease, or there will be no more writing. You hear us? Don’t ruin it for the rest of the minions.

The Punishment: Anyone guilty of these writing infractions will be placed on a treadmill and forced to run at 7 miles per hour. The Imperial Exercise Minister will sit with a remote control and he will press the DEAD STOP button, again and again, while the offender is running at speed.  When the runner can no longer calculate simple addition  problems, he or she will be released.

Now, go forth and obey.

The Emperor will grace the world with a new decree each Tuesday morning, unless he decides not to, because, after all, he is the Emperor and can do whatever he wants.

Bob Sullivan's top ten everythingliving poetry

Top ten favorite lines for a Valentine’s Day poem

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10. I pray your Valentine’s Day is the best.

9. I know mine will be, if I am with you.

8. Since first we met, I know that I’ve been blessed!
[Read more →]

books & writingcreative writing

Cartilage and Skin: An Interview With Michael James Rizza

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Michael James Rizza’s debut novel Cartilage and Skin won the ninth annual Starcherone Prize for Innovative Fiction. It’s a fascinating, fast-paced narrative that also offers its share of ambiguity, and I knew I wanted to interview him as soon as I put the book down. Here are my questions along with the author’s responses.

AK: How did you write the book? Did you outline first or write a substantial draft and allow a plot to come to you? How much writing did you have before you “saw” the plot of the entire book? Are there any twists of plot or turns of phrase that came up remarkably late in the process? [Read more →]

all workbooks & writing

Of Time and the Park

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Today was a singularly beautiful day in New York – a sparkling October day in mid-November, sunny, warm, a light breeze – and perfect for a two-hour walk  around the Drive in Central Park. (I used to run it in under an hour, but what the hell.) [Read more →]

art & entertainmentbooks & writing

The secret rituals of history’s most creative minds

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On a recent flight from Texas to London I sat behind a woman who was editing a manuscript. Being very nosy I strained to read the title, and this is what I saw:

The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs

Wow, I thought. What a load of crap. Clearly the primary “presentation secrets” of Steve Jobs were 1) his conviction that he was totally awesome and 2) his understanding that people are always interested in what highly successful people have to say.

This manuscript was obviously a snake oil salesman’s pitch, yet another example of that tiresome but popular  genre in which some not especially successful person reveals [Read more →]
books & writingtravel & foreign lands

Vasily Grossman: from Stalingrad to toilet trouble

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In 1998 I stumbled upon a Russian novel called “Life and Fate.” I was surprised because I had never heard of it or its author Vasily Grossman, yet by its size, Tolstoy-echoing title and subject matter (the book was about Stalingrad) it was obviously supposed to be important.

I bought it and was soon drawn into Grossman’s world; I remember standing on crowded trams, unable to put down this imposing brick of a book. “Life and Fate” was excellent, a profound meditation on war, Stalin, and much else – and yet it was also totally obscure. This was bizarre. Was I wrong? Was it actually rubbish? [Read more →]
living poetry

A Sunday on La Grande Jatte (Seurat)

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Jatte

#91

Look long enough and Seurat’s pointillism
Seems letters and punctuation, not dots,
Becomes a narrative, a verbal prism,
Written in a language that can’t be taught.
The hook of cane, umbrella, monkey’s tail,
A stone with a white and orange bonnet,
The pinch of waists and a billowing sail,
All forestall the waning of the day.
Only a running girl, a blown trumpet,
A leaping pup, having anything to say.
The rest is stillness, and while the shadows
Avoid the giantess, elsewhere they grow.
Emotion is atoms frozen and bound,
Letters to paper, and can’t make a sound.

Note: This is one of more than 125 poems after paintings or images, which can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin.

books & writingtrusted media & news

Why Guantanamo Bay inmates are totally hot for ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’

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File:Dyson.cleaner.dc07.arp.jpg

When not reading about boy wizards and bondage, some berserk jihadis like to relax by thinking about how they can improve on the work of James Dyson. Pic: Wikipedia.

Yesterday I learned an interesting fact: When it comes to books, the bearded inmates of Guantanamo Bay are totally hot for “Fifty Shades of Grey,” the first novel of a popular trilogy about the erotic adventures of a young female graduate named Anastasia Steele and an international businessman named Christian Grey. No, really – a US congressman said it, so it must be true.

Indeed, Representative Jim Moran of Virginia told The Huffington Post: “Rather than the Quran, the book that is requested most by the [detainees] is ‘Fifty Shades of Grey.’ They’ve read the entire series.” [Read more →]
living poetry

Hyde Mill (Sandy Ellarson)

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hyde

#111

They moved the river to build the water wheel,
Then built a wooden race to divert the current.
Sluice opened, stones ground raw grain into meal
For a hundred years, until the old mill was spent.
River turning wheel turning gears turning stone,
A devolution of mechanics all to crush a seed.
The sun burns for years to dry an animal’s bones,
And countless gallons of water won’t break a reed.
I’m reluctant to approach the mill too closely
(Its ancient timbers are desiccated, ghostly),
Hear its stoppage rasped by the river’s relentless
Passage over the shattered race’s detritus.
Away from the wreck, a little waterfall churns
Spray, wrack, and spume, and, like time, it burns.

Note: This is one of more than 125 poems after paintings or images, which can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin.

living poetry

Hands and Feet (Alice Bea Guerin)

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hands and feet

#40

I am not the amalgam of my parts.
Not the knuckles, the joints, the palms.
These are merely the hands of my heart.
I am always hot. I’ve never been calm.
Sometimes I am nothing but an eye.
Seen through the circle of sight,
The darkness is all I need to know why.
My grinning makes my knuckles white.
My thoughts are like wiggling fingers
And my emotions are clenched fists.
I am my own twisted harbinger.
Look at me. You can’t resist.
But we’re all skin, sinew and bone,
Running from each other, alone.

Note: This is one of more than 125 poems after paintings or images, which can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin.

living poetry

Cafe Terrace at Night (Van Gogh)

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cafe

#48

For Ruth

Is there just one universe?
There the stars and here the cafe.
Hidden lights illuminate the tables.
The various darknesses immerse
Men and stars in dissolving clay.
Are both god and science fables?
The universes are infinite,
They say, and time does not exist.
But here we are and there the stars.
The air is full of perfume and wit,
And a wine too ancient to resist.
All else is beyond, late and far.
Let’s nibble galaxies and swallow suns.
I’ll count my hours with you by ones.

Note: This is one of more than 120 poems after paintings or images, which can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin.

 

 

living poetry

Winter Landscape (Sesshu)

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sesshu

#9
Black and white, foreground,

Background, horizon and sky—
There is nothing to describe.
No word for it has been found.
Fingers pinch bits of glass,
Mouths blow rings of gas.
Stone spires, numberless grass,
Poise like celebrants at mass.
This is but approximation,
Sounds approaching shape,
Silhouetted imagination,
Not a poem, but its ape.
Inked paper, here, in your hand—
This is what you understand.

Note: This is one of more than 120 poems after paintings or images, which can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin.
living poetry

The Sea Monster (Durer)

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sea monster

#113

Each moon the damned gray sea monster abducts our wives,
Then releases them to us as speechless as fish.
Not one has revealed what happens beneath the waves;
So we wonder, do they endure terrors or bliss?
He has antlers and a merman’s scales, and a shield
Of tortuga shell, and eyes that say, “Ye shall yield.”
Only Annalee, my perfect wife, fought the beast,
Calling to me as I stood helpless on the beach.
After she slapped his bearded face and yanked his mane,
He ripped off her dress and drowned her in shame.
Of all the women taken, only she has not returned,
Those taken since scoff at the possibility
(Each petulant and stiff, like a woman scorned)
That Annalee’s alive, with him, beneath the sea.

Note: This is one of more than 120 poems after paintings or images, which can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin.

living poetry

Magic Mirror (Escher)

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eschermirror

this moment this moment this moment this moment

Dragons on graph paper and images of beasts
March to assembly, an army at war within.
A propped mirror is the instant when time is rent,
What’s done from what’s about to be released,
That instant we neither recall nor contemplate a sin,
(The mirror internally, eternally lit),
Since we’re in the act of committing it.
We are those silver, faceless, and unmoving orbs,
Who, before and after, our reflection absorbs,
While the dragons, a danger, but oblivious,
Circle us endlessly, meshing, silent terrors,
The jailers of the placid, dim, and unconscious.

the mirror mirrors the moment this moment mirrors

Note: This is one of more than 120 poems after paintings or images, which can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin.

books & writingtravel & foreign lands

Kim Jong-un declares admiration for Hitler: what could possibly go wrong?

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The bookstore is that way.”

The North Korean dissident website New Focus International carried an interesting story on Monday. According to insiders, Kim Jong-un is getting into Hitler. In fact, the tubby tyrant digs the Nazi dictator so much that he’s started gifting copies of “Mein Kampf” to his inner circle. Having emulated Stalin for decades, it’s time for the regime to embrace a new villain.

At first glance, this is perplexing. What is there in “Mein Kampf” that has any relevance for the people of the “Hermit Kingdom”? Undoubtedly, Der Führer would have viewed the decidedly non-Aryan Kim as [Read more →]
living poetry

In The Magic Mirror (Klee)

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mirror

#65

The wan shock, not that rare, when the face
Is strange to us, the look of a mirror race,
Lasts only a moment and then dissolves;
Not memory, but confusion soon resolves.
We know the mask of lips and framing hair,
The skin stretched tight from ear to ear.
What startles is that persistent stare
We cannot blink away, but do not fear.
We feel foolish and fooled when it’s over,
Both slightly empty and totally alone,
As though the soul has flown its cover,
Uncertain it will ever find another one.
Even that passes. We’re ourselves again.
A mirror is mere glass with silver stain.

Note: This is one of more than 120 poems after paintings or images, which can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin.

living poetry

The Poor Fisherman (Pierre Puvis De Chavannes)

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poorfisherman

#57

The man’s greatest weapon is patience.
He can stand and wait, perfectly still,
As long as the elements don’t interfere.
He doesn’t believe in anything but chance.
Though he cannot eat what he cannot kill,
An empty net is not his deepest fear.
The boy is still healthy, but he worries Aimee
Has become pale and her milk is gone.
She gathers useless flowers and sings,
“They are not for me, but for my family.”
He thinks the same of the sea and sun.
At times, when the bay is full of nothing,
Exhausted by his empty regrets,
He dreams himself diving into the net.

Note: This is one of more than 120 poems after paintings or images, which can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin.

living poetry

Dark Light (Matta)

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dark

#69

This desert’s a blanket of earth’s exhaustion,
Where all that remains of life is on the surface.
Each creature, like the sun, is a dying furnace,
Slowly fusing bone, sinew, muscle, intestine.
The old structures melt away into essence,
Bypassing decay, desiccation, and putrescence,
Stopping short of the irreducibility of sand.
New life emerges, sparked by a decaying sun,
Ectoplasmic shapes a god wouldn’t understand,
Creatures without breath or senses or reason.
If all worlds are possible, billions like this exist,
Simply because you or I can always imagine it.
We think, therefore, perhaps, we should resist
Creating a world we would never wish to visit.

Note: This is one of more than 115 poems after paintings or images, which can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin.

living poetry

American Vultures (Karen Thompson)

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3americanvultures

#108

The circus train cars abandoned decades ago,
The circuit of America now belongs to vultures,
Who once followed the elephants and clowns
Like starved, yearning runaways, an exiled sideshow.
Now, as then, they only eat the unclean, if pure,
Scraps of disease or murder on the edge of town.
It exasperates them, winging round and round,
With only frowning little girls and unplanted
Trees, shrubs, and ancient sawdust on the ground.
We know that of all fowl we’re the most unwanted,
But those tiny birdbaths are simply insulting.
Tattered flesh, the strength of decay, our putrid breath –
From a vulture’s field of view nothing can be revolting.
We soar, bubbles of gold, spiraling death.

Note: This is one of more than 115 poems after paintings or images, which can be viewed at the blog, Zealotry of Guerin.

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