Dog Ear
Extinction (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 01 December 2016 00:00

ated to see this one occur.

TheJurassic publishing house has finally announced its closing. Got an email concerning this and ordered their last anthology.

I first became aware of Jurassic when my wife and I visited The Tate Gallery in London and viewed apocalyptic biblical paintings by George Martin. In the gift shop I found a collection of books with short stories written by unknown writers, each picking a painting and telling a tale behind them. Of course, some were bad but some were really, really good. And I found that my copy was one of a series, with a number stamped inside it and everything.

I went on to buy several books from them. Some of them weren’t to my taste but really, I liked the concept – a small publishing house that put out the word to lessor writers (i.e. those nibbling around the edge of real publishing but not mucking about in self publishing) to submit. And I’ll admit that I wrote my heart out for them and hoped (like some lusty literary gigolo) to get between their covers.

One story (for a western anthology that had to have some connection to hell) I wrote the Pandemonium and Southern, a tale of a western town desperate for rail service that signs with a questionable railroad, one that will bring them anything, and only asks for one export – souls. I really liked that one. Didn’t get in.

Another, a very short story for Christmas, told of a spaceship (filled, it turns out, with very small travelers), that beams down an ambassador to the trainset town around a Christmas tree. So incensed is he at the inhabitant’s stoic reaction to his presence, he orders a small plasma charge detonated over their town. Of course, all this comes to light when the fire brigade arrives to put out an electrical fire, and suddenly the scale and all that is explained. Ho ho ho.

Wrote for a contest where you had two days to get in 750 words about a world-changing event in 1913. I had a nifty little story about the historical founder of the Saud house, and how he realizes that the coming war in Europe will be a mechanized one, and that he’d need to drill for oil (years before they actually did). Turns out that his drillbit is chewing its way closer and closer to an ancient lamp with an angry genie inside it – I’d just finished Arabian Knights and knew how explosively pissy genies could be. It was a fun little tale that I worked hard under word count and deadline to get out. But no, didn’t make the cut.

And the one I was proudest of was to meet a requirement to write of old world explorers who pushed the bounds of chaos back. I chose the French Montgolfier brothers who launched the first hot air balloon into the skies of the 1780’s. Turns out that there are gargoyles up there, creatures who (like apaches) fight against every inch of human encroachment. They fought against those building belltowers, and their likeness was captured by those who built the great cathedrals. And now they would fight balloonists. This one, I really loved. The brothers were well-defined (one was coarse, one prissy). Their manservant as stout and dependable. The muzzle-loaders were fun to write about. The balloon was researched. The story just fit together in a way I was particularly proud of. And no, it didn’t get selected.

But in all of these attempts, the editor (Jason) was very diplomatic and sympathetic. Jurassic did not rely on form letter rejections – in each of them, Jason took the time to tell me what he liked and explain why it didn’t make it (either from the writing, or the number of submissions, or whatever). But even though I was getting rejected, I really enjoyed the challenge. It was a great house to write for.

And now they are gone. That saddens me, as to me they represent the concept of what a publishing house should be.


Last Updated on Thursday, 01 December 2016 07:51
Career Stories (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 24 November 2016 00:00

've fallen into a storytelling genre I didn't know about. I have no idea what they are called, but me, I'll call them Career Stories.

My Roku box on my TV has given me access to a lot of series I didn't have originally. And everyone knows about my love of Japanese Anime, those great vibrant, bouncy, elastic stories the Japanese love. Oh, they are crazy and stupid and childish and deep - all these things. They cover a wide range of emotions and intellects. Their entire society loves them, and here in the States, millennials and hipsters love them too.

But the ones I've really fallen for at the Career Stories. These are long tales, often multi-seasonal. They involve a protagonist who, at a young age, latches onto a career. And in the story, we follow his path, anticipating every obstacle, moaning at every defeat, cheering every victory. And these are not meteoric rises to the top - two of the series I've completed ran seventy-five episodes apiece. That's something like twenty-five hours of solid watching to complete.

And here's a list of the ones I've enjoyed:

Space Brothers - this one was the first for me, the story of an older brother who was fired out of his corporate job, while his younger brother completes the dream they both had and readies himself for a trip to the moon via a Nasa-Japan partnership. I really liked this - the main character was geeky, not-handsome, not especially smart yet clever in ways that endeared him to the audience. And their astronomer aunt was getting old, and their parents were crazy-supportive, and it was a joy to watch. Seeing the places I've worked on a show was also a lot of fun, and when his brother nearly died on the moon, I was shotgunning through the episodes, edge-of-my-seat watching. Sadly, this one seems to have paused - my hero's passions are still unresolved.

Hikaru No Go - Followers of this site will be aware of my stories about this series HERE. In a nutshell, this is about a boy who unlocks a spirit of a Go instructor a thousand years dead from a game board. Now locked in a lifetime pursuit of his nemesis, we follow Hikaru as he struggles to take his place in the pros. While I was watching this series, I was actually learning to play the game so the gasp-moments even made me gasp. You played there? You fool!

Yowamushi Pedal - My next series, a story about a geeky little manga-following kid who rides a "mommie bike" to a distant town once a week to get his comics. And this has turned into him a great racer. Now he's making his way onto the team, just struggling against sweat, wind, and those two pedals to become a road racer. And this pissed me off - Hulu removed this one from the lineup while I was still getting into it. That doesn't happen with books.

Bakuman - Another career series I've just started tonight, a tale about two likely lads (and a romantic-interest girl) who want to make it in the tough world of manga stories. One can draw, one can write, and the girl, she dreams of vocal work. Will they make it to the big time? Hope so, since I have a lot of episodes to go.

So this is my passion, this life-following teledrama about young people just making their way in the world. Great fun and vicarious pleasure. If you have a Roku account, check some of these series out. You might get hooked.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 November 2016 14:12
Shared (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 17 November 2016 00:00

he election.

Yeah, fuck, the election.

Nothing more depressing than waking up in a world where the efforts and victories of the past eight years are swept away. The same-sex couple down the street? Their marriage is in real danger now. The freelance writer I know at NationalGeo? Her heathcare will likely be ripped away (leaving her with a pre-existing and no insurance). My Muslim friends are concerned; who wouldn’t be in this sea of rising rage.

I mean, fuck.

So that Wednesday was pretty gray for me. On the bus-link to work, the black riders and driver talked about it, very subdued, almost funeral. Yeah, I can see that too. At work, I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do. I had no focus. I don’t want to say that I no longer recognized my own country, but, well, yes, that was pretty much it.

At work, one righty-tightie smirkingly offered me a conciliatory pop-tart. On Facebook, it was either outrage or gloating. No succor there. Then I followed a link down to the New Yorker and read a number of articles by staff writers observing the right’s sweep.

Oh, there were some angry ones, of course. But there were also hopeful ones. And insightful ones. Instead of the social media hash and the office opinions, their comments were true conversations, as comforting as sitting in an Amsterdam coffee shop, looking out at the passing cyclists and chatting about the ramifications of far-away events. Unlike every other positioning dialog washing over us this day, here were a series of thoughtful pieces that could speak to me in the way only written language can. It was comforting. And internal. In the blare of the geopolitical world, it was a quiet refuge of understanding and thought.

Really, they were good pieces – I wish I could link to them but they’ve washed away in the torrent that is Facebook – can’t find them. But that’s the thing. The written word can provoke a rise to action. It can even be the tool of demigods (though, with its more deliberate pace, sound-bites are better suited). But on the positive, it can offer the thinking man a place to reflect, to internalize and digest. And from these pieces I found my own opinions of what I would do and how I would face this new world.

And so, yes, if you are reading this and you are sympathetic, you are not alone. Those who read and think, those who enjoy stores of men standing on principles and fighting injustice, you have a silent yet understanding multitude at your back. We might not be able to effect positive change over the coming years. We might see our progressive efforts and liberal gains pushed back. But there is still a spirit of good and purpose in writing. There is a home there for us.

Tip your head back and stand against the wind!


Life and Art (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 09 November 2016 05:35

alking under cloudy pre-dawn skies (Mordor skies) to the train station. Was thinking about what had happened the night before, the breaking of the line, the loss of the field, the fall of our future. Amid these morose thoughts, I noticed a Hillary sign hanging like a defeated frigate's sail in the sweeping lights of passing suburban FUVs.

And it made me think of who I am, what has made me, and the changes before us.

My thoughts went to Winds of War and War and Remembrance which I can still largely remember reading while I was in my teens, some forty years ago. I remember Aaron Jastro ignoring the rise of Fascism in France and Italy, of stalling and pooh-poohing any departure, of dooming himself and Natalie. While details fall away as get older, I still remember feeling that sense of foreboding and dread as society rises to consume those it should serve. This book was so chilling that my little Nazi fixation (the adulation of German organization and drive) was placed on the back shelf of my mind, a thing of childhood, not in keeping with the organized thought and careful deliberation of a thinking man.

Closely related to this, The diary of Anne Frank. Again, here is a young girl demonized by hatreds of a jingoistic movement. In the pages of her doomed diary, we see her clutch at the potential of the life she might have had, a writer's life. And we watch as the routine housebound days pass, until the diary suddenly ends. Frank ends her days withering in a concentration camp, the final solution of a society so blithely able to cast off those it is discomforted by.

Weary of Nazis, I picked up the thought train after crossing a busy boulevard in a city that kills more pedestrians than any other in the United States, where an FUV might strike you, drag you, and leave you crumpled in the darkness (happens every news cycle). On the relative safety of the opposite pavement, I resumed my musings. In this, I remembered The Tale of Two Cities, and also Scaramouche, for the same reason. Here we see, from the ground level, the results of the poor rising in bellowing blind anger, the committees, the rumble of the guillotine, the roar of the crowd. And here we see what happens when societies and bureaucracies become feral, running wild in the streets, snarling and snapping, killing for the lust of it. The heroes in these book are caught up in it, usually presenting forged passes to officials (former stable hands lifted from their mud) who now feel power pump in their veins.

In all these stories, we see the world gone mad. We see the pain and bloodshed of bottled (and stoked) vengeance. We see the terror and pain and termination that comes from a civilization that fuels itself, not on economic regulation and a defended borders, but on the persecution of the citizenry and the passion of the mob.

As readers, we've seen these things. We can see a possible end for toppling order and rule of law.

And that's what makes us aware of the risks, this foreshadowing provided by literature. In books, we are empathetic to the main character. We live in his skin, we feel the damp perspiration before the checkpoint, the dread of discovery. But in movies, it's all action heroes, thrills and scenery and in the end, a witty line as the villain is dispatched. In movies, the medals are ceremoniously handed out, the music swells, the credits roll. There is no aftermath, no fearful accounting. We don't see the results of societal destruction, just a celluliod lie. 

Make America great again? I'm just trying to escape the fates of Nineveh and Berlin.

There is only one out. We must be like mid-book heroes. We must stand tall against the winds of adversity.


Last Updated on Thursday, 10 November 2016 09:17

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