Random scribbling before dawn, Part III

Why do I love Godzilla? And specifically, why is the first Godzilla movie (both Gojira, the magnificent Japanese cut, and Godzilla King of the Monsters, the American re-edit with Raymond Burr) one of my favorite films of all?

I suppose it has something to do with fire and explosions and all those things that kids like — I did first encounter the movie before I was 10 — but I always liked the small stories underneath the big one, featuring the characters of Emiko and Professor Tamani and the mysterious scientist Serazawa.

I even liked the soap opera of Peter Parker’s life more than (or at least as much as) Spider-Man’s fights. Sure, I was fascinated by his clashes with the Sandman and Doctor Doom and the Lizard and the Vulture and all that, but I think it was Pete who kept me coming back — would he triumph over the bully Flash Thompson and maybe get to know Betty Brandt a little better?

The big action stories have lots of bells and whistles and spectacular stuff, but if we don’t care about the people caught in the middle, it’s just an Independence Day fireworks display or a roller coaster ride, enjoyed for a few minutes and forgotten.

Stories need heart. The best Godzilla movies have heart. Marvel Comics prevailed because they had heart. When we care about the people first, we care more about the monsters and supervillains and dangerous explosions and bells and whistles.

Random scribbling before dawn, Part II

Ten minutes. That’s all it took — a short burst of effort, a little bit of time — to write the blog post I put up Wednesday. That’s how 272-day writing streaks happen.

“Can you meet this goal for this moment in time?”

“Sure, I guess I can.”

“Good. How about now? Can you do it for now?”

“Well, the pen is moving across the page, isn’t it?”

“How about for this moment?”

“Yes! And now you’re getting annoying.”

That’s an old anecdote and not original with me, and your eyes might glaze over reading it, but as I wrote in a song lyric a long time ago, there’s a reason a cliche’s a cliche. There’s a reason anecdotes get shared and retold:

There’s a truth in those old nuggets, if your un-glaze your eyes and give them a bit of thought for, well, a moment.

Random scribbling before dawn, Part I

I have nothing this morning, except a streak of 271 days, a habit that has become an expectation, and even if I am the only one in the world who expects it (notice I avoided the word “obligation”), it has become important, and that is progress.

All of my life I have worked to meet other people’s deadlines and neglected the ones I set for myself. “I’m going to finish this book by June 11” or “I’m going to meet this financial goal by my birthday in 2019” or “I’m going to lose this weight by Dec. 31.”

The establishment of this daily blog post represents a triumph over my self, and so, even if no one reads it or pushes the Like button, it moves me forward. Have a lovely day, and see you tomorrow.

Each of them a universe

Technology is freedom. The electric toaster changed the universe. The boat opened worlds. Clumping kitty litter saved continents. Paper handkerchiefs saved lives.

Every picture tells a story, a picture worth 1,000 words, they say. But words expand the picture.

Every person who encounters the words hears a different story. How many novels did Harper Lee write? One — and several million.

A closet is full of universes, a shelf is packed with lifetimes, collections of rare gifts waiting to be unwrapped. We each pass this way just once, and forever. What miracles will we unwrap today?

The joy of discovery is endless when we open ourselves to joy; the pain is endless when we focus on the pain. Choose the joy, overcome the pain — open the closet and discover yet another universe.

What’s the point

We spend a lot of time trying to figure out what is our purpose in life. What’s the meaning of “all this”?

You work your way through something day by day and sometimes try to conjure what all the somethings mean: To find a purpose, to find a story, to find a point behind it all — because we all go through life wondering what’s the point? and perhaps not knowing exactly why until the story ends — At the end you tally up whether you served your purpose, or you tally up what the meaning of your life was, based on where life took you.

Who says your purpose has to be singular? An old friend of mine once said, “We each live many lifetimes within the one we live.” Rather than think of it as a frustrating search for our One Big Purpose in Life, maybe we should think of it as a series of adventures trying different purposes out for size.

And maybe someday will say “Yes, this is it, this is The Thing I Was Meant To Do.” When that happens, there’s no point in saying, “Oh, I’m 25 or 43 or 62 or 87 and wasted so much time getting to the point.” The point is you got to the point and you’re here now.

And while trying all that other stuff, surely you made an impact, and certainly that time was not wasted.

Blue Guitar is 1; what’s next


So this weekend is the anniversary of the day I woke up in the morning not intending to publish my next book yet, and it was posted to various bookstores by nightfall.

How To Play a Blue Guitar was a work in progress, and I sat down to proofread what I’d done so far and decided it was a completed book.

I have not made a similar decision about Full, but I have a) a cover and b) an announcement: My next collection is called Full and it ought to appear soon, this spring. Either I’ll give you a date later or it’ll just appear, soft opening style, and then I’ll mention it’s arrived.

How to Play a Blue Guitar

Full is along the lines of A Bridge at Crossroads, Blue Guitar, and Gladness is Infectious, that is to say, a collection of rockets, bells and poetry, most of it drawn from this blog. I am organizing it into three “books” within the book, tentatively titled Creative, Live Free or Die, and Encourage, but now that I have a subtitle (”Rockets, Bells & Poetry”), it’s entirely possible that I will throw that out and retitle the sections Rockets, Bells, and Poetry. What do you think?

A year later, I think How to Play a Blue Guitar holds up pretty well, as a little collection of stories, poems and reflections that somehow gelled into a finished book I didn’t see coming, at least not that quickly.

What’s that? “I thought you were working on a novel called Jeep Thompson and something or other.” Glad you asked. I have covers for the first three books in the series, but I only have words for one-third of a book. On the other hand, from what I’ve got so far, it’s going to be a doozy. Do people still say “doozy”?

Opening scene in a story to be named later

This is why I came: to see if what they were saying was actually true, that there was an alien being up a tree. And well, yes, yes it was.

Perched on a branch was a vaguely human, vaguely insectoid little girl — it may have been a boy, but the long hairlike extensions from her head reminded me of a girl — the legs bent outward from the knees the opposite way from ours, so that the thighs were tucked under the feet stuck out in our direction. The face was fly-like, so it was like looking at someone wearing sunglasses even though the being could probably see us hundreds of times over.

“What do you suppose it wants?”

“What do you think it’s doing here?”

“Has anyone asked it?”

“What do you think we’ve been doing? It just chitters like a chipmunk. It’s scary.”

“Chipmunks aren’t scary.”

“They are when they look like a giant cricket.”

I wasn’t saying any of this, just listening and watching. Everybody was watching the alien girl-thing in the tree, which as far as anyone knew was watching everybody back. Then the media showed up.

Harry Connelly had drawn check-out-the-alien-sighting short straw at the news mosh, and he looked like he had to admit this was better than he deserved. The thing, or the being, certainly was alien, perhaps even out of this world, compared to what he anticipated, which was a quick drive to the park, a little rain in his hair, and a quick drive back to the mosh with nothing to write about and I-told-you-so.

“What is it?” he asked the air.

“What do you think we’ve been wondering?” asked one of the talkers, a woman a little beyond middle age with a purse that dangled on the crook of her arm while she pointed her camera awkwardly at the tree. “I’m getting a video. I figure someone might recognize what it is if I post it.”