Dog Ear
Deadline (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 15 December 2016 00:00

have to admit that I’m rather surprised at some of the web-efforts I follow, and how prompt they often arn’t. Specifically, the well-known XKCD and lesser-known Two Guys and a Guy – I love both strips, but recently they’ve been a little… off… in their publishing schedules. Others (Penny Arcade as well as anything “officially” syndicated) are always there.

And that got me to thinking about my own blogging.

I always blog – maybe nobody reads them (actually I just checked – most of them get about 500 hits or so. Whether that’s actual readers around the world or creepy web crawlers, I have no way of knowing). After every model railroad session (sometimes after an hour or two drive home, or sitting in a hotel room) I’m blogging. After every telescope session (no matter how frozen I am) I’m blogging. And certainly every week I produce a book review and a DOG EAR piece. Think of that – the first DOG EAR went in on June 11th, 2012 and have been popping up every week like clockwork. And it’s tough to do.

I suppose it’s good practice. If you are going to produce whatever art you are going to produce, you do so, no matter how tired or uninspired you are. This weeks’ DOG EAR, I was really looking for something to write about (after 241 of these things, finding new thoughts about writing, its difficulties and my various observations of such) can be a little problematic. Sometimes I’ll get into a rush and have a half-dozen of these things out in front of me, all scheduled out for every Thursday for the next month and a half. Other times (like now, sigh) I’m writing under the looming edge of my own deadline.

But that, in itself, is the lesson here. If you are writing that novel at home, you need to force yourself to write. If you think you write because it’s fun or fulfilling, yes, it can be those things. But it’s also disciplined. And that’s why you should approach it as such. Because I know what I feel, deep down, when I click on XKCD on a Monday morning and nothing is there.

And I don’t want people to think that way about my own efforts.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 December 2016 05:33
New Media 2 (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 08 December 2016 00:00

nteresting discussion this Thanksgiving after a couple of Go cage-fights with my sister. Of course, what else can siblings and the nieces and associated boyfriend talk about? What do we have in common?


Everyone connected through their Hulu and Netflix viewings. My brother was watching The Musketeers (didn’t know that). My niece's boyfriend and I shared a laugh over One Punch Man. Some people had watched Chance. There was a difference of taste about Jessica Jones. And the women tittered over the coming revisiting of the Gilmore Girls.

It’s the “New Media”, my sister explained.

Yes, but (and sometimes, it’s my purpose in life to add the “but”, it seems)…

It’s great that there is a new media. When The Mindy Project got cancelled, it was quickly picked up by Hulu. Had this sort of thing been around a decade ago I’m sure my beloved Firefly would have continued. Now, just about any weird comedy or surprise-ending drama can (and likely has) been made. In a sense, this is the same moment book publishing went through when self-publishing took off. Now anyone at all can get into the game. No more corporate committees and agents and such. Good things, bad things, rotten things, ill-conceived and directionless things could all be pushed out into the media sphere.

And that’s good. But I must point out that I watched 75 episodes of Hikuro No Go. And likewise in Space Brothers. I watched all three seasons of The Musketeer and both seasons (several times) of Rick and Morty. It’s rather like that time I spent playing the video game Spelunky, only to glance at the game stats and see that I had 2500 games (at about 10 minutes apiece) out there.

All that time comes from somewhere.

For me, I haven’t been writing much (professionally). Oh, I have a collection of erotica for an on-line publisher who has commissioned me in the past. But Jurassic is gone now. And besides being the president of an always-struggling model railroad club and astronomy events and Go and that goddamn Roku box, I don’t have a lot of time. It would seem that we’re swimming in New Media, that everything is available, that DVD collections are as relevant as the VHS libraries they replaced. And that what little time we had, time for writing, for loving, for communicating, for visiting, for walks and chats and friendships, is all going into entertainment.

Remember, time is the one thing you can’t buy more of, and there isn’t any way of winning another life (like some Spelunky powerup). Sure, it’s great to have a century of entertainment at the click of your remote. But is it a good thing? Is will this end up as just a new version of The Matrix.

Be well. Be wary. And be conscious. For you writers – write!


P.S. Interesting point. I went to enter this into my Dog Ear archives and found I already had commented on New Media earlier this year. Might as well repurpose an old entry, so here it is, RIGHT HERE!

Last Updated on Thursday, 08 December 2016 08:10
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

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