Dog Ear
Offstage epic (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 15 September 2016 00:00

eah, Hikaru. You might have recalled him when I talked about him and the game of Go a few weeks ago HERE. So I'm still playing (had an epic win last week that left me walking on clouds, but today, the computer just beat me like a rug). But it's life.

So Hikaru is up for the pro exam. He's got to get through this if he's going to face off against his rival. But the snot-nosed kid who has been obnoxious to the point of becoming a temporary nemesis will be his final game. Only three of the roomful of go players will go on to be pros. And thus the series grinds on, match after match, with main characters bowing out and walking home weeping. Yeah, it's that powerful of a defeat to them.

But Hikaru is hanging in there, and the brat is to face him in the final game. Yet if Hikaru loses then his friends will still be in the running and there will be a faceoff game, a final chance to get in. So a lot is riding on this. Will Hikaru win and beat the brat, coming one step close to finally facing his rival? Or will he lose and we'll see him fight against his friends (whom he has already defeated once with shovelfuls of drama (including one guy who cheated a move under pressure, and everyone knew, but Hikaru didn't dare say anything, but he needed the win, but his friend just sat there, eyes burning, and...)

Well, watch it to find out how that got resolved. And need I mention that the spoiler light is now lit? It is. Spoilers ahead.

So Hikaru is fighting for his life against the punk. Then he reverses it. Then the kid counters. And now the board is up for grabs - anyone might win. Nail biter time (not helped by stupid Jeep commercials). And then, a flurry of images of pieces going down.

Cut the scene to one loser walking home, coming to grips with failure. Then the other guy, the one who might still eke out a win if Hikaru loses. He's in the break room. Suddenly people are rushing down the hall to see the climaxes of the final game. Hikaru vs. the punk. But the camera isn't following them. We're in the break room with the guy, and in nervousness, he's just spilled his tea. Image of the stain on the table, his tense expression in the reflection. He's half-way through wiping it up, the cloth stained like blood. Dead silence outside. He stands motionless, not sure who has won (for clearly, someone has). And we, stuck in our break-room POV, can't tell.

And this is a very clever way to show this resolution. Sure, we've seen Hikaru going "gasp" and "arg" and all that. We've seen that a couple of times in the lesser battles. But I think the director knew this, that the repetition of gasps and sweating go players and everything else would be anticlimactic. We've seen it. What better way than to string us (as the poor guy in the break room was strung), standing, holding our breath, watching the tea slowly be soaked into the cloth.

So there is a lesson here - always look for a unique way of telling a story. Change the POV. Tell it years in the future. Or back up into the past. Delay breaking the news. Do something different. We don't need to be there when the final stone goes down and the score is calculated. A climax might be more telling and powerful if indirectly done.

So that's the lesson here.

Oh, and as for Hikaru and the brat?

I'm gently smiling now.

I've just done the same thing to you.

Who won?!?

>>>YOU CAN SEE THE SAME TRICK IN FIRE AND BRONZE, WHERE I HAVE COLONISTS FIGHTING FOR THEIR LIVES AGAINST NATIVE LIBYANS. WHO WILL WIN? AND THEN WE BREAK TO THE ENTIRE BOOK TO BEFORE RESOLVING THE BATTLE. SEE FOR YOURSELF. YOU CAN BUY IT HERE!<<<

Last Updated on Saturday, 03 September 2016 14:08
 
Government Lab (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 08 September 2016 00:00

ust a quick observation tonight. Was sitting on the couch in the splash screen for Stranger Things on Netflix. Okay, so everyone is raving about it and the boss said watching this will be part of my review. I'd watched five minutes a week or so back and had been unimpressed. But with everyone pushing I decided to give it another look.

But we're not going to talk about the show. No. This is a writing (and sometimes storytelling) blog. We're going to talk about words. And images.

There on the screen, in the series description, two words.

Government Lab.

Think about what you are feeling right now. Government Lab. What does that imply? Things deep and secret. Things hidden and unholy. Weaponized things (meaning to take bad things and make them worse). And things ruled by a huge bureaucracy, one that is inept enough to lose track of these things, yet efficient enough to completely cauterize any and all leaks about these things with ruthless killing (with silencers - piff piff).

All these images, all generate by two words.

Government Lab.

What's funny is how things change. Back in the fifties, when science was small enough to be conducted by mom-and-pop basements and back rooms, you had Mad Scientist Laboratories. Back then it could imply crackling Jacob's ladders and boxes with scissor switches and dials all over them (if there were Government Labs, they were the ones with blinky-light computers). But all these phrases carry power with their audiences - the same as the characters of Scaramouche and Harlequin would back in the 1700's across Italy and France. As soon as you see a Government Lab, even if its only a gate with a sign: Government Lab. Keep Out, you know something sinister is going on and our vast evil government will kill you if you find out what it is.

For all you writers getting ready to open a novel with: There was a rusty sign on the gate across the dead-end road, reading Government Lab. Keep Out, I beg you to reconsider. Maybe it's just me but I think that whole cliché is about to come down. How many Government Labs can there be with secrets and silences and hard-faced investigators? It's old. It's way overdone. I'm not sure where change in future stories will come from - hackers? Political parties? Corporate labs? Think tanks? I don't know. But please, don't be the writer left standing when the music from the musical chairs of public tastes stops. Come up with a better dark citadel.

Piff Piff.

Really, that's so overdone.

>>>BACK IN ANCIENT PHOENICIA, MY HERO MASON INVENTS A WORKING BRONZE-AGE COMPUTER IN HIS ESTATE'S WORKSHOP. HE DOES IT WITH HIS SERVANT AND A FEW OTHER NOTABLES HE COLLECTS. ENJOY THE FUN OF EARLY RETYREMENT, ON SALE HERE<<<

Last Updated on Thursday, 08 September 2016 07:03
 
Scooby Snacks (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 01 September 2016 00:00

kay, so it’s a bit of a misuse of the phrase. Scooby Snacks were given to Scooby Doo, the dog, and Shaggy, the late-bloomer cowardly hippy, as rewards and courage-enhancers. The term I’m looking for here are the more traditional doggie snacks in cartoons that would make the hound vault straight up into the air, then come leafing down in a state to total bliss, they were so good. But “Doggie Snacks” wouldn’t get you in here, but a reference to “Scooby Doo” would. And here you are.

So, what was the point of this?

The point is writers' bliss, that moment when something you do makes you fly into the air and then come drifting down, smiling a goofy smile, totally coked on stoke in a way that would make conservatives enact even more laws. Yeah. Ahhhhhhh!

All I can saw was that Monday at work was bad. I had a bunch of stuff going. People quibbled about the smallest things. They just sat at their desk like petulant children refusing to eat strained peas, arms crossed, harrumph. And I was mayflying about from place to place, getting things moving forward, shouldering through the shitstorm of insults (directed or otherwise). Nothing like standing in an office and having someone gush about how well my nemesis is doing with an effort he corncobbed me out of. I actually openly winched at that – the guy saw it and asked if I was having problems with another kidney stone. Well, metaphysically, yes.

It was a day to test men’s souls, and to make them reconsidered their own early retirements.

Yeah, Early Retyrement – just as we were reaching shit-summit, just as the nonsense was at a crescendo of stupidity, I ducked into Facebook just to sip the idiocy of politics and theology (rather than that of corporate compliance). And that’s when I got the message from my niece. She’d finally gotten around to reading my novel and really liked it. She had started sniffing through it and ended up plowing through in two days. The fact that a young person (relationship or otherwise) would take time to press through three hundred or so pages is pretty extraordinary. Non-writers would assume that your friends, family and coworkers would happily read your books. Turns out its never quite true – I can still see a dusty copy of my book on someone’s desk at work, tucked in between Excel 2003 and The Fortran Toolkit.

But she read it. And she really liked it.

YOIKE! Ahhhhhhhhhhh!

So there I am at my desk, just smiling as I remember some of the scenes she’d just enjoyed, of Mason creating a place for himself in the ancient world of Phoenicia with his knowledge of fast-food restaurants. And his parrot. And his girlfriend’s warhorse, the big black monster that Mason suspected shat coal. And she’d liked it. I’d made a connection with someone in a way that wasn’t transitory and asinine and bureaucratic  – I’d told my story and someone had gotten it.

And that’s why we are writers, this legion of wannabe hacks who won’t be on Oprah anytime soon. That’s why we self-publish and self-promote and self-fail. Because every so often someone will read our works, enjoy our story and see our worlds. And thus, as I stood at the coffee pot pouring myself a cub of slurry, with some woman sputtering about missing Load Dates, I just looked at her. And smiled.

Ahhhhhhhhhh!

>>>SEE WHAT MY NIECE SAW! ENJOY A STORY OF HISTORY AND ROMANCE AND BATTLE AND BISCUITS! EARLY RETYREMENT, FOR SALE REALLY CHEAP HERE!<<<

Last Updated on Thursday, 01 September 2016 07:01
 
Go! (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 25 August 2016 00:00

here is a power to storytelling. It makes me wonder of all the lives it might change. How many people look at a story (in books, in movies, around a campfire) and can trace a lifechange back to that? Perhaps there are people who found happiness and grace from modeling themselves after positive role models out of the endless worlds of human imagination. Of course, granted, there are also those who hold guns like gangstas, who smoke, and who ruin their lives because of simplistic images presented to them. Who knows – perhaps somewhere in the 1844 a promising doctor put down his surgeon’s tools and took to the Paris streets in the uprising of 1848, simply because of the colorful tales of Porthos, Athos and Aramis.

For me, it seems to the be ancient Oriental game of Go.

Go is a neat little game played with beads of black and white on a wooden grid. Players attempt to capture territory and restrict, deny, and capture their opponents.

So how does a late-middle-aged writer get involved in such a thing (and, indeed, such a thing that my two live games have shown I have no knack for)? Well, apparently because of a Japanese animated series, Hikaru no go.

In this very long yet very entertaining serial, a sixth grader with unlikely hair (blonde wings and black back) attempts to steal his grandfather’s Go board (both to pawn and to impress his girlfriend). However, in doing this, he releases the spirit of Fujiwara-no-Sai, a go instructor from Heian Era. Through Sai, Hikaru learns to play go. His unguided energies are soon channeled into the world of Go, with its schools and tournaments and professional statuses. Think of an intellectual NFL.

In watching the series you get a good understanding of the basics of Go (basics that failed to keep my firm line of defenders from crumbling before my opponent’s merciless encirclements. The game is deeper than I thought). But there is excitement to the series, in watching Hikaru play wildly, of Sai being alternately nurturing and crybabyish (traits actually common with nobles from that era). I especially enjoyed how Sai (who committed suicide when wrongly convicted of cheating) actually defends a child cheater in a Go salon (because, if he hates cheating, he despises bullying) and by directing Hikuro’s piece placement proceeds to vivisect a professional Go gambler (even I, with my limited skills, could see some of what he did).

But that’s one of the important tasks of any writer (or storyteller), to take something as simple of musketeers or a junior Go player and make it so interesting that the audience is hooked. And I gotta say that I have a growing interest in this game – so watch for my review of the Go book I recently purchased on this site. Yeah, here we go – another hobby. Just what I needed.

>>>IF YOU DON’T LIKE GO, MAYBE I’ll GET YOU INTERESTED IN ANCIENT HISTORY. ACTUALLY, A BOOK BY ROBIN LANE FOX INSPIRED TWO BOOKS MY OWN DEEP APPRICIATION FOR THE ERA<<<

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 August 2016 07:05
 
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