Ye Gods, is that the time? Jeepers, I should’ve been back hard at work three months ago…
But, fish gotta sing, birds gotta swim, and bills need to get paid…so one review, two comic scripts, three to five blog posts, uncounted e-mails and phone calls, four stories a book and goddamnit a play (a play? I must be out of my mind) have languished on the back burner while I rewrite a commission I already rewrote half a dozen times already, and all too infrequently chase the thing with some shovelling, rock-rolling, and brush-clearing. Oh well, they can’t all be perfect summers…
At least I’ve gotten some songwriting done, in amongst all that.
Really, some weeks I’m just happy if I can remember to floss…much less do the dishes…
But anyway here I sit, avoiding a) work and b) going to bed…so you might as well know what’s on my mind.
1. Tom Strong. I got the first three TPBs today and yesterday…and wow. How does he do it? It is just such a very very carefully intentional thing, it’s a project that totally shouldn’t work at all, but it does. I couldn’t possibly love Top Ten, LOEG, Promethea and Tomorrow Stories more (Jack B. Quick alone would be enough to make me a dedicated ABC-er for life, even if the rest were all crap), but Tom Strong is far and away one of the most insane things I have ever read. How could he possibly have made it work? By the start of the fifth issue, it really does seem like I’ve been reading these things for years and years, for God’s sake you know I think I might be able to get by in Ozu now. Well, it helps that Ozu pretty much functions on English grammar…but even so, what? WHAT?! You talk about a magic trick, well this is my favourite kind: the establishment of an addictively comfortable fictional universe, that reading about verges on participating in. If I weren’t still procrastinating, I might list a few of those uncannily attractive fictional universes from the worlds of publishing and film, for my own edification if not yours — because of course the interesting thing about them is that they don’t really have to be good, to sink their hooks into you, so what is it that special thing that they do, how does their compulsive attraction work? Well, Alan Moore knows, clearly. I thought Top Ten was fun. Top Ten was thrillingly awesome, but it can’t touch Tom Strong for fun. Fun! It’s like people almost forgot how to have it, or something! But damn it, there’s no mystery about this sort of thing, it’s just mainstream pop entertainment, for heaven’s sake we’ve been doing it for ages, surely it ought to be easy by now?
Nope, guess not. But boy, the ABC crew sure make it look that way.
2. I can’t remember what I was going to say for 2., so here’s something else instead: Stanley Kubrick was a master of sound. Full Metal Jacket was on TV tonight, and since I always drop what I’m doing whenever I get a chance to see the thing — you should, too — I had occasion to be stunned once again by the authenticity of the sound in each scene. Of course FMJ can never be a documentary, and hey, it wasn’t intended to be one! But there are moments when double vision sets in, and you can kind of see out of one eye with documentary sight, while the other one takes in pictures of Matthew Modine and Adam Baldwin. The lines sound scripted, and then suddenly they don’t; well, it’s a favourite movie of mine, anyway. But Kubrick managed sound well in his movies, if anybody ever did: and if I had the time to set aside (but obviously I don’t) I’d screen my own SK film-fest and concentrate on the sound of each movie, just to see what he did differently from movie to movie, and what he did that was the same.
3. I really will have to make that list of Absorbo-Universes at some point…
4. I have been stuck on the ending of a short story — perhaps about four pages to go, if that — for two years. I’ve practically forgotten what it feels like to address and mail a manila envelope. In April I woke up one morning and walked straight to the computer, sat down and started bashing out improvements, sighed with pleasure at the success I was having, went and got a coffee, came back, sat down, resumed typing…and then the milkman visited, or something. Somebody called, and made me think about something else. I got hungry. I truly do not remember what happened, but it was just at that precise point when I needed ten minutes of concentration on How To Do It, and didn’t get it. However, having said that: who’s to blame? Recently I put in twelve hours of work on my commission, only to have my computer eat the work…but as I was explaining to my father, this isn’t really all that big a deal. Most of what we write could stand rewriting anyway, and word-selections are just word-selections, they’re not sacred or anything. And who forgets plot points? Just doesn’t happen; if you can forget plot-points, you should not be writing straight onto the page, you should be sitting in a corner with a scratch pad getting that stuff properly nailed-down. At least, that’s how I figure it. No, the dangerous stuff to lose are the tweaks: little changes made on third or sixth re-read, when you suddenly realize that, oh crap, should really not have gone “colon” there, that’s really clunky…and look here, you’ve said “continuously” when you really mean “continually”, which is even more ridiculous because what you should have said was intermittently. Duh! So you make all these changes, like three, four dozen of them. Then you change some of them back. Then you revert them again, then you decide to just kill that troublesome sentence entirely, and merge the ones before and after…and then you hit save, and then the computer explodes like you insulted its mother, and you lose all that stupid fiddly work…
Well. But that’s not really my problem with this story, either. The problem is that I have simply written something that hasn’t got an ending. It’s got everything else. It’s even got, I swear to God, a sequel. But an ending, no. The sequel has an ending, and it’s a dandy one. But not this thing. It just sort of hangs there, frozen in time. Awaiting the diligent application of, like, two hours decent labour.
But then so many other things awaiting just two hours labour as well, and one has to eat sometime.
Anyway that’s my confession. Congratulations! I feel better.
5. The Perseids are here. When I was a kid and used to go to summer camp, we did little two-day camping trips right at their peak, eschewing tents the better to watch the fireworks. I cannot recommend this activity too highly.
6. People seem to be really invested in Harvey Dent’s condition at the end of Dark Knight being permanent. I frankly do not understand this.
7. With all the online lotteries I’m winning, I’ve been thinking of using some of that money to buy up all the discount jewellry that people who can’t spell their own names correctly seem to have for sale. Either that or some viagkra or ciolis. After all I am running a little low.
8. The sun is about to come up. Time, I guess, to knit up the old ravelled sleeve of care; and concede that there will be no vacuuming today after all. Hooray! I hate vacuuming.
But in a way, hasn’t this post been a little bit like vacuuming?
‘Til tomorrow, then, Bloggers!