Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Friday, October 8, 2010
Since I am an Elliott, I find the story intriguing.I was brought up watching the Addams family and the Munsters on television. In fact, my siblings and I seemed to be able to relate to these weird, yet loving families who were different by all of society's norms. We, too, felt as if society saw us as "strange". At the same time, we saw this as a good thing. We loved being the "black sheep" who loved monsters and unusual books and movies. Maybe we used our unique outlook to life as coping mechanisms. Maybe we had an artist mentality. It was probably a little of both. Yet, we were different in a good way. It became who we were.
Bradbury seemed to be coming from the same type of mentality. He saw the world from an artistic, yet darker slant. Bradbury had an intelligent imagination. He could not only see the world in different ways, he could make the reader see it too.
A name with neither love nor grace
Was Waukegan, there I came from
And not, good friends, Byzantium….
Pretending there beneath our sky
That it was Aphrodite’s thigh….
And uncles, gathered with their smokes
Emitted wisdoms masked as jokes,
And aunts as wise as Delphic maids
Dispensed prophetic lemonades
To boys knelt there as acolytes
To Grecian porch on summer nights
of the “Science Fiction Society,” a local group where he met
Robert Heinlein and other writers, both established and
aspiring. Heinlein helped Bradbury publish an early story, and
by the early 1940s the boy from Waukegan was selling material
regularly to pulp fiction periodicals.
Almost from the start, Bradbury aspired to something higher
than the formulas of genre fiction. When his story Homecoming was turned down by Weird Tales, Bradbury
published it instead in Mademoiselle, where it was championed by
Truman Capote. Soon afterwards, it was chosen for inclusion in
The O Henry Prize Stories of 1947. Around this same time,
Bradbury’s work was accepted by Harper’s and The New Yorker.
By the early 1950s, when he began publishing the novels and
short story collections for which he is best known—including
The Martian Chronicles (1950), The Illustrated Man (1951), Fahrenheit
451 (1953)—Ray Bradbury had evolved into a fantasy writer, evolving into a Science Fiction author. He had the wit of a poet and the flair of an actor who could immerse himself in the tale as if he were living it.
Bradbury’s generation would have written: “The rocket ship
landed.” Instead, this is what we get with Bradbury:
- The ship came down from space. It came from the stars and the black velocities, and the shining movements, and the silent gulfs of space. It was a new ship; it had fire in its body and men in its metal cells, and it moved with a clean silence, fiery and warm . . . It was a thing of beauty and strength. It had moved in the midnight waters of space like a pale sea leviathan; it had passed the ancient moon and thrown itself onward into one nothingness following another. (from The Martian Chronicles)
- Science did not prevail in Bradbury's Sci-fi tales. He chose to envelope the reader into another world without the nuances of technicalities.He used interpersonal relationships between the characters and their environment. He chose to delve into the underlying human and political aspects of the tale. He used common dilemmas society faced and placed them delicately into a science fiction setting.In the book Dandelion Wine, he takes the idea of a boy wanting a pair of "tennis shoes" or sneakers and makes it a wonderful thing. Here is an excerpt:
knew what boys needed and wanted. They
put marshmallows and coiled springs in the
soles and they wove the rest out of grasses
bleached and fired in the wilderness.
Somewhere deep in the soft loam of the
shoes the thin hard sinews of the buck deer
were hidden. The people that made the shoes
must have watched a lot of winds blow the
trees and a lot of rivers going down to the
lake. Whatever it was, it was in the shoes,
and it was summer
- When I was in high school, I was fortunate to have been offered a class in science fiction. In this class we read and discussed science fiction books. From Bradbury to Asimov, the class was propelled into a fantasy world that faced issues that were not so different to what we faced in our world. The wonderful twists of fate and ultimate ethical questions sparked my young mind. Bradbury deserves our gratitude. He gave us a way to escape the mundane while offering us an alternative view of the world in which we live. He presents us with thought provoking ideas and ideologies which, ultimately, give birth to our limitless imaginations. It is a gift we all have. How we use it is up to us.
- While your on the computer, go check out 'B.C. Brown Writes, where I am interviewed
Monday, September 27, 2010
Let us remember the wonderful books that were once banned or currently challenged. Education is a wonderful thing as long as the young minds have access to all types of subjects. Obviously, anything that might be a directive for specific harm should be monitored, but generally that is a gray subject. Also, if a book is being touted as non-fiction when it is actually fiction, then it must be brought to light. The debate on what is acceptable and what is not could go on forever. It is important to keep in mind that, just because you disagree with something, doesn't necessarily make it bad. It is just like the parents who refused to let their children listen to a speech on the value of education by President Obama. It is sad when parents withhold information just because they don't agree with the person delivering it or the subject for that matter. They may hide topics they oppose. Eventually, the child will grow up and be exposed to this information. Wouldn't it be better to open a dialogue on the topic so your offspring can be fully informed enough to make up their own mind? A well informed student will become a well informed adult. Educational balance is very important for intelligent, functioning adults. Our leaders need to know about the world they live in....every sordid detail.
Here is a very short list of formerly or currently banned books.
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Carrol
Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Blubber by Judy Blume
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
Carrie by Stephen King
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Christine by Stephen King
Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Cujo by Stephen King
Curses, Hexes, and Spells by Daniel Cohen
Daddy's Roommate by Michael Willhoite
Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
Decameron by Boccaccio
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Fallen Angels by Walter Myers
Fanny Hill (Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure) by John Cleland
Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Forever by Judy Blume
Grendel by John Champlin Gardner
Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
Have to Go by Robert Munsch
Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Impressions edited by Jack Booth
In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
It's Okay if You Don't Love Me by Norma Klein
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
Little Red Riding Hood by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Love is One of the Choices by Norma Klein
Lysistrata by Aristophanes
More Scary Stories in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
My Brother Sam Is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
My House by Nikki Giovanni
My Friend Flicka by Mary O'Hara
Night Chills by Dean Koontz
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
One Day in The Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Ordinary People by Judith Guest
Our Bodies, Ourselves by Boston Women's Health Collective
Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl
Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones by Alvin Schwartz
Scary Stories in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
Separate Peace by John Knowles
Silas Marner by George Eliot
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
The Bastard by John Jakes
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Devil's Alternative by Frederick Forsyth
The Figure in the Shadows by John Bellairs
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Snyder
The Learning Tree by Gordon Parks
The Living Bible by William C. Bower
The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
The New Teenage Body Book by Kathy McCoy and Charles Wibbelsman
The Pigman by Paul Zindel
The Seduction of Peter S. by Lawrence Sanders
The Shining by Stephen King
The Witches by Roald Dahl
The Witches of Worm by Zilpha Snyder
Then Again, Maybe I Won't by Judy Blume
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary by the Merriam-Webster Editorial Staff
Witches, Pumpkins, and Grinning Ghosts: The Story of the Halloween Symbols by Edna Barth
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Now, take a step back and see the world through the eyes of an artist. The artist sees the world through their art.
The writer will see the world in words. They use words to paint a picture and bring it alive. They create emotional dramas or vignettes of serenity.They will use prose to assist a reader in their visualization of a scene.
The painter will see the world in color. They will use the canvas as a scene. Using color, or lack of color, they will fashion a moment in time. A piece of the world as they see it. Color, texture and light combinations can draw the viewer into their world. It can be a realistic depiction of everyday life or a fantasy piece from the artist's imagination.Like the painter, the sketch artist will use their pencil or charcoal as an avenue to recreate a picture from life or imagination. They can use the graphite to form simulated texture and shape.
The photographer sees the world through the lens of a camera. They will use lighting, color, and filters to generate a snapshot of life. The photographer can use various angles and still life in order to offer new perspectives to a subject.
The musician will see the world through pitch, frequency and harmony. The composer will evoke an emotional response utilizing instruments and rhythm. The musician can also use lyrics in order to clarify and define the musical piece. Along the same lines, the vocalist will use pitch and tone in order to portray a mood and accompany a melody. The singer may sing a cappella without the aid of instruments. The vocal resonance will consummate the aria on its own merit.
The fashion designer is also an artist. Clothes are constructed by design using fabric, buttons,thread, color, texture and anything else the designer fancies. The layout and cut of the cloth is just as important as the cloth itself. Some designs are geometric and plain. Yet, they are important parts of an ensemble. People decide how they want to look. What image do they want to project? People will choose their outfits to fit the occasion. A formal or informal party will dictate the style a person will select.
The actor is an artist who transforms the face, hair and voice in order to elicit a mood. A good actor feels the part. The actor becomes one with the scene as if he or she were actually experiencing it. A professional thespian makes it look easy. The viewer will be drawn into the scene as if they were really there.
The hairdresser uses the hair as her canvas. Using scissors, color and ingenuity, she fashions the style to portray a person's individuality. Hair is an important part of a person's essence. The stylist plays an essential role in an individual's self confidence.
The culinary artist uses the taste buds in order to create a delectable meal. Using a recipe, the cook will combine any number of spices, condiments and foodstuff together to make a culinary masterpiece. There is a difference between eating to live and living to eat. Savoring a great meal is a wonderful way to unwind after a hard day. The chef, not only uses food, but also compliments the meal with creative beverages. Wine, coffee and deserts are an important part of a well planned cuisine.
An architect is also an artist. Look at the classic architecture in Italy, France and Greece. There are many architectural styles of past and present. Some people love the old Gothic styles used during the renaissance (myself included). Some love the modern, Frank Lloyd Wright styles.The architect must combine style with function in order to add to the aesthetics and utilitarian layout of a well planned city.
Now, take the filmographer. This person will combine all the creative avenues together. Movies use music, cinematography, artistic set design, costume design and human emotion. The success of a film is dependent on all creative avenues. An actor is only as good as the script. The script cannot stand alone without the successful backdrop and so on.
The common denominator that all artists use is the ability to evoke emotion. Using their art, they draw out an emotional response from the audience. If they cannot do this, they are not fully utilizing their art. It does not matter what the emotion is. It could even be apathy. If an individual is sparked in some way by art, then the art has, at the very least, did its job. Even if you are not a creative person, you can surely appreciate the artist. How boring the world would be without the artist's input. Using our senses, we absorb the world around us. The artist uses the senses in order to make our world a bit more interesting. They make us more aware of the world around and inside us.
Here's a wonderful example of how an artist used junk in order to create fascinating shadow art.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
The creator of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn left behind 5,000 unedited pages of memoirs when he died in 1910, together with handwritten notes saying that he did not want them to hit the book stores for at least a century.
In order to honor Mark Twain, support your local independent bookshop Twain wrote about common folk who made their own adventures, off the beaten path. With the major chain stores, electronic books and the like, the independent shops of all types are being squeezed out.However, it is the locally owned, self-reliant shops that exists for the community. The corporate run stores care about the bottom line, first and foremost. They are motivated by manufacturer kick-backs and popular genres over intelligent, high quality merchandise. The chains are homogenizing the world, one community at a time.Patronizing the local shops is a way of reclaiming individuality and art for the sake of art. The local shop is going up against the corporate giant armed only with a knowledgeable passion for success. They truly care about what they do. So, keep this in mind when you decide your next purchase. Check out the local shops first and support your community. Ever wonder where a local shop is when traveling? Check this out! If you find a great local shop, you can add it for free!
Monday, August 23, 2010
Here's someone who is using books for a house. Electronic books are not going to go away. We might as well accept this. Yet, I am reminded of H.G. Well's story The Time Machine, where the main character goes to the future only to discover the demise of books. He is shocked at the sight of books which crumble to his touch. Then there is Fahrenheit 451 where individuals memorize books in order to preserve them in a world of book destruction. I understand that e-books preserve information. However, they can be erased. They can be unreadable during a power outage when the batteries have died. They cannot be touched, shelved or admired as a creative object. I believe the physical book is an art form which deserves to be preserved. I remember a time when people were aghast at the ideal of vinyl albums disappearing. They said it would never happen. Alas, despite the opposition, it did, indeed happen. There was a time when those in the radio business were convinced that television would never last. Again, it lasted and over took the radio shows of the day. This is the way civilization evolves. Someday, we will no longer have CD's with music. Eventually, all music will be digital only. It seems hard to believe to those who have yet to cross over to the digital music age. There will always be impoverished individuals who would have no access to technological advances. The physical book can be found in libraries, in second hand shops and be given out to the needy. Technology needs to be maintained, which some people simply cannot do. I truly hope, for the sake of future generations, that civilization leaves room for both types of books.
Monday, August 16, 2010
It has been said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step. I see people who love to begin a sentence with "if only" or "yeah, but". They infer that their dreams are impossible. Then, of course, they are. Then there are those who walk toward their dreams. If they fall down, they get back up and walk again, even if it is in a different direction. They savor the journey and realize their goals. Once realized they create new journeys and new goals. They are happier than those who savor the worst case scenarios. They may even experience similar situations. However, they know it isn't the situation but how you react to it.
We are all residents on this planet which resides within the Milky Way Galaxy. Standing back and looking at the whole picture can make all the difference in the world. I used to think all of my problems were caused by others or circumstances beyond my control. Now I realize, in hindsight, I was the creator of my life. I made choices that I didn't have to make. I despaired over situations instead of looking for better scenarios. I made my life choices. At the same time, I am a product of those choices. Sometimes it takes something negative in order to help you see something positive. Opposites can teach and can give you perspective. I applaud those who can stand up, brush themselves off, and move on...with a smile on their face. Life doesn't have to be as difficult as we make it out to be. Here's to perspective. Live it, write about it and get to know it.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
If I apologized
it wouldn’t make it all unhappen
wouldn’t make the darkness go away
If I apologized
it wouldn’t mean I was forgiven
wouldn’t mean you wanted me to stay
it’s a dream
when you seem
to be walking into the sun
we’re on first
and we still don’t know what we've done
so we don’t say anything.
If I apologized
I don’t suppose you’d even notice
even though I’d whisper it inside
If I apologized
we could be the perfect couple
Well we could, but only in my mind
if you ask
for the mask
then we’re stumbling on through the dark
But we wait
it’s too late
And we only had to be asked
so we don’t say anything.
It couldn’t hurt to try it
It couldn’t hurt too much to try
It’s there beyond the quiet
it couldn’t hurt too much to fly…
Here's a link to the song's author discussing it.
Here's another link to songs which were inspired by the classics.
Friday, July 30, 2010
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
So, the news media has decided that libraries are a waste of money. OR, maybe not, they wonder aloud...
Yeah, lets save money by shutting down libraries. Why provide literature to the masses? Surely we could find other ways to save money. For example, maybe we could cut back on excess baseball fields in cities where the current fields are not used to capacity. Many cities have built stadiums that weren't necessarily needed. Its all debatable, of course. However, I cannot see how libraries can be debated. Call me crazy, but free literature should be made available to all. It is the responsibility of modern society to educate and inform. Do we really want society to be populated with a majority of mindless followers? Maybe the politicians do, I don't know. People should use libraries and make it clear to those in power that knowledge and books are something they cannot withhold. Here's a link to make your view known by July 2nd. How could anyone even debate a library's validity? I guess those who can't read, but there are audio books there. It causes me to take pause. Its not quite as drastic as Fahrenheit 451 but its a step in the wrong direction.
Monday, June 21, 2010
I saw a similar list about life, however, I had a bit of a different slant on the whole thing. I thought I would put my two cents worth in.
- No one cares about you as much as you do.
- Life isn't fair. Fair to one person, isn't always fair to another. Also, whining about it won't help. Rarely will anyone ask you how you feel about what happened.So what? Your self-esteem belongs to you, build it from within. Be the kind of person that you admire.
- Success is dependent on you and thousands of other people. In this reference I'm talking about career success.To be on top, others have to follow you.At the very least, others have to care about what you are doing.
- No matter how shy you are, you have to connect to the real world. It is next to impossible to function without connecting with someone. To really operate in society, you must connect to many.
- Life can be tough. Teachers are only the beginning. Wait till you get a boss who dangles that paycheck over your head in return for menial tasks. You have to perform for less than likable people, deal with it. Of course, always know it is only a step in the process. Remember, you don't drown by being under the water, you drown by staying there.
- Don't be humiliated when you have to do something you consider beneath you in order to eat. All work is valid and can lead to other opportunities. The CEO isn't necessarily a better or smarter person than the burger flipper at McDonald's. Actor Jack Nicholson was "discovered" while working in the mail room at MGM
- Stop blaming your boss, job, spouses, etc. for everything that's wrong in your life. You can see your experiences as anchors or the clay that made you who you are today. You have the choice to be what you want to be. Hating someone is like taking poison, expecting the other person to die. Spinning your wheels in the mud of self pity won't help you move forward. You can either accept the person in your life who holds you back, move on or deal with it. If you have been walked over, get back up and walk on. You can also try showering the oppressor with love and overwhelm him/her. At the very least, they will be confused enough to stop, if only for a little while. Doors are there for a reason when the heat is too great.
- Stop blaming your parents. Your parents are individuals too. There's a good chance that they were learning right along side you as you grew up. They have dreams, ideas and opinions independent of you. They may be older but they are not always as senile as you might think.
- Life goes on and on and on until it doesn't. Savor it. Yes, life can be depressing. People can be a pain. Remember, someday, if you're lucky, you will realize how great it was to be younger or where you are right now.
- Personal success can't be gauged by wealth or career. You are successful if you raised kids who become responsible, contributing adults. You are successful if someone loves you for who you are. You are successful if you are happy and content. Success in the eyes of others doesn't matter because, generally, people are gauging themselves in relation to you in order to feel better (or worse).Do you really need their admiration or scorn as the case may be?
- Be nice to nerds. They are the great thinkers who power the world's infrastructure. Oh, yeah, they may be your boss someday.
- Don't judge people on the surface. Everyone has a story. The cover rarely divulges the novel within. You may be surprised to discover the layers underneath, once you get to know a person.
- Don't wait until your death bed to say I'm sorry or I love you. Also, don't die with regrets. Its never too late, really it isn't. Look at Betty White, she isn't quitting even though she's in her 80's. George Burns contributed well in to his nineties.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Thursday, April 15, 2010
So, honor your library, no matter how small. It exists to serve, even if it isn't always appreciated. The smallest of libraries are even more special as they must live amidst technology. To me, they serve as a reminder of how a group of people, no matter how small, can do great things.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
There have been studies conducted that show people who think more positively are happier than those who think more negatively. On the surface, that makes sense. However, when another study was conducted, it showed that positive thinkers were actually having better "luck" than the negative thinkers. In effect, they were creating their reality from the inside out. Cancer patients with longer survival rates are the ones who are taught positive visualizations and meditation.
The recent HBO movie Temple Grandin is an excellent example of people making up their own minds about what is real and what isn't. Temple is autistic. Because her educated mother refused to follow the doctor's advice and institutionalize her, Temple received an education. Temple is now a grown woman with a doctorate. She now speaks on behalf of autism issues. She is also an animal behaviorist. Because Temple was educated, she learned not to accept the world's vision of her. She saw events as a door which she could open. Society tends to close doors to those with autism and learning disabilities. Temple teaches that everyone learns differently and as such everyone needs to be taught differently. Temple Grandin has several books that should be checked out. Also, here is a video.
Today's schools attempt to teach every child in the same way. As a result, some kids are left on the sidelines.
What does all this tell us? First, it shows that it is up to each individual to decide who they want to be. Second, it shows us that once we decide, we must not stray from our vision. If you want to succeed, you must realize that you do indeed create your reality from the inside out. If you have a disability, you must look beyond it. You can use it as a tool to greater things or move on to a higher purpose. It truly is up to each person. For good or bad we are all on this planet trying to live our lives. No one greater than the other.
So, are you a writer, doctor, speaker, etc? Are you more than one thing? It is up to you. Circumstances can either stop you or be overcome. They can help you or hinder you. It is up to you.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
The AP states: "He had lived for decades in self-imposed isolation in the small, remote house in Cornish, N. H."
I always find media statements like that rather odd. I heard the late Paul Harvey state that Barbara Streisand had agoraphobia. He stated that she hid behind closed doors and was afraid to leave her home. Famous people are stalked, hounded and bothered. Naturally they are going to shy away from the privacy-invading public. It doesn't necessarily make them hermits or agoraphobics. At the same time, Salinger openly admitted that he cherished his privacy. So do I, yet I am not afraid of getting out. So, let's move on.
Salinger's only successful novel, The Catcher in the Rye, was published in 1951 and gradually achieved a status of fame which he chose not to participate in. That book became a coming of age story for many an adolescent and disgruntled youth. The Catcher in the Rye with its immortal teenage protagonist - the twisted, rebellious Holden Caulfield - came out during the time of anxious, Cold War conformity. Salinger wrote for adults, but teenagers all over the world identified with the novel's themes of alienation, innocence and fantasy.
In later years, Salinger become famous for not wanting to be famous, refusing interviews. If you might wonder why he chose solitude, check out a pursuer of the famed author who searched him out. Actually, to his credit, the literary afficiado did not disturb Mr. Salinger. Nonetheless, many before him have. Let us leave Salinger's memory to the ages. His literary contribution stands for itself.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010
2009 has come and gone. We are now in a new decade. As such, we should make up our minds as to what we want to accomplish in the coming months. Now is as good a time as any to make a list. Don't be afraid to dream BIG. If you don't seem to be getting where you want to be, maybe you aren't dreaming big enough. It really does matter how you look at your goals. People tend to get what they expect to get, so expect the impossible! You can't reach the summit if you stop half way. Here's to a wonderful new year full of dreams, joy and accomplishment. Follow your passion and you can't go wrong.