Category Archives: Uncategorized

Spoiler-free review of Jurassic World

jurassic world

Plus:

1. Jurassic World cost Universal $150 million to make (or so I’ve read), which is relatively cheap for a big summer blockbuster, and every last penny is on the screen. Almost non-stop visual splendor (thanks to a seamless blend of ultra-realistic dinosaur effects and striking cinematography), which is more than I can say for recent productions like Godzilla and Skyfall, both of which had much larger budgets and far less to show for it.

2. I don’t know much about graphic design, but that logo up top is flat-out brilliant. The design, the colors, the textures, the font, the blue tracing inside the lettering. You could teach an entire course using this graphic alone.

3. Dinosaurs.

4. If you’re a crankypants who is too sophisticated to acknowledge popular entertainment, why are you reading this?

Minus:

1. The screenplay appears to have been written by an eight-year-old with ADHD.

2. This plot has more dropped threads than a yarn store after an earthquake.

3. All the 3D glasses in the world won’t give these cardboard cut-out characters depth.

4. And since when does an “embedded dinosaur tracking device” look like a vacuum tube from a Marshall guitar amp?

marshall tubes

Overall: You really have to love dinosaurs or you will get absolutely nothing from this movie. I guess if you think Chris Pratt is hot…


3 words every insecure writer needs to understand:

[that’s just about all of us, last I checked]

its not personal

Today’s post inspired by this story from editor Lynn Price.


Writing Tip: Dashes vs. Hyphens

For those who requested a post on dash v hyphen, here’s an excellent, straightforward explanation from writer and fellow corporate lackey Michelle Proulx. Did I just say “corporate lackey” out loud?

Michelle Proulx - Author

In today’s Writing Tip, we’re going to talk about dashes (—) and hyphens (-). This is a pretty intense topic, so buckle up and prepare yourself for some extreme learning.

Dashes

These cute little guys come in two varieties: em dashes (—) and en dashes (–). Can’t tell the difference? Em dashes are slightly longer. I know it doesn’t look like it, but trust me! I’m a professional. (God help us all.)

So these are the ones you use in lieu of brackets and commas to separate out phrases in a sentence (presumably there are other uses as well). I’ve seen em and en dashes used interchangeably (apparently en dashes are often used in date ranges, i.e. 1994–1998), but I favor em dashes, mostly because I like how they look. Anyway, here’s an example of dashes in action:

The awesome thing about dashes—and here I’m going to get technical, so…

View original post 272 more words


In Memoriam: WordPress Blogger Bryan Edmondson

Bryan21965-2013

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

With great sadness I report that fellow writer, WordPress blogger, and friend Bryan S. Edmondson has died after a 6-year battle with cancer. Bryan created content for several blogs over the years, including “Weird Dude,” “Noodle Toes,” and “Monkey Wrench,” and he was becoming quite involved in video production when the final, terminal phase of his sickness struck several months ago.

His sense of humor was unique, bizarre, and not-at-all appropriate for those easily offended… which means he cracked me up more times than I can count. Even in the grip of stage-4 melanoma and the grueling medical treatments that go with it, Bryan never stopped sending me hysterical, off-color emails. Every time one of his messages appeared ready to drift into sentimentality, he’d yank the chair away with a shocking punchline and make me fall on my butt, laughing.

Bryan was one of my select beta readers as well, as I was for him, and we frequently exchanged ideas and suggestions about the craft. His writing style leaned toward the Gothic imagery of Poe and Lovecraft, and, for such a funny guy, he could create some pretty dark, hellish settings and scenes. He disparaged his own writing as detail heavy and old fashioned, but he created such vivid images in ways I could never imagine. I’m sure, if not for his long illness, he would have been prolific and found an eager audience ready to explore his dark labyrinths full of demons, shadows, and mystery.

The last thing Bryan would want is a mushy send-off, so, in that spirit…

Cheers, my friend. You will be missed.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Libraries vs. Criminals

Look. I'm one of those bloggers who decorates his posts with generic book stack images!

Look. I’m one of those bloggers who decorates his posts with generic book stack images!

How to tell if you live in a good neighborhood: Type the name of your county into the Google search box and see what autofills.

The very first autofill for my county is “… library system.” I’m gratified by that result, which is a preferable one to “… crime statistics” or “… murder rate” or “… piranha attacks on land.” Our county has 10 libraries, which sounds like a lot, but with a population of 325,000, that’s over 30,000 people per library. Still, it’s the number one thing on people’s minds when they do a Google search. Either our serial killers are remarkably discrete and our land piranhas travel out of the area to feed, or the people around here a generally good lot who would rather read books than steal cars.

See, libraries fight crime.

No one but the dumbest of criminals would try to rob a library, because there’s no cash on hand (unless you consider not paying late fees to be a form of backhanded robbery). Not a single library in the United States or Canada has ever lowered nearby property values. And I’ve never heard of a kid who didn’t enjoy going to a public library. In the kids’ section of my local branch, you’ll always find at least one starry-eyed child wandering up and down the rows, dazzled by all the choices.

You know where there are not a lot of libraries? Crime-ridden towns. People and governments give up on crime-ridden towns because giving up is easier than fixing. Libraries in poor towns are amongst the first things to be chopped in budget-cutting sessions. Those kids don’t get to wander up and down the free (!) library, gazing in wonder anymore. Maybe they can hang out on the street corner instead.

You know, if everyone in my county tossed in 20 bucks, we’d have 6.5 million dollars. Surely that’s enough to keep one library in one rough town somewhere opened for at least a year or two. Is that so appalling, giving up 20 dollars to invest in someone else’s future?

One of my local libraries. It looks dangerous, but it's kinda nice on the inside.

One of my local libraries. It looks dangerous, but it’s kinda nice on the inside.

Note: The median household income in my town (a postage stamp on the large envelope that is my county) is $120,000. If you took my 510-unit apartment complex out of the mix, you’d probably see that figure rise to 200K or more. I know the property tax burden is high. It’s expensive to live here. I also see as many late-model Audis, BMWs, and Benzes crowding the streets as I do Hyundais and Chevys. How about it, folks? Why the outrage over helping feed poor kids?


A Real-Life Editing Demonstration

A few days ago I threw out a challenge: Who was brave enough submit a short piece of writing for me to publicly edit? Many quickly volunteered… to buy popcorn and watch.

One fearless soul sent me an e-mail with an attachment.

That fearless – and talented – soul is Aisha of Aisha’s Writings, who has permitted me to do a line edit on her roughly 200-word story below. It’s just what I was hoping for… a well-written piece that only needs what every good story or essay needs. A once-over by an editor.

A line edit is what it sounds like: The editor goes line by line through a body of text to eliminate extraneous words and tighten prose. Maybe flip a sentence or two. It happens after you complete the revisions your beta readers or agent suggested but before a copy editor scrubs for typos and punctuation.  A good line editor not only preserves the writer’s voice and message but removes obstacles to finding them. We are an invisible liaison between writer and reader.

Below is Aisha’s original piece, a moving and poignant narrative essay about humans’ innate ability to connect with other humans, no matter the barriers, followed by the edit demonstration.

Aisha’s story:

It was in Year 7, my first day at The Westminster School. I walked with slow steps towards my class. Searching my name in every class list, I was feeling nervous and shy. Talking to people instantly wasn’t my nature. I finally found my class and as I entered I saw new faces everywhere. There were Lebanese, Indian, Syrian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Philippines, Japanese, Turkish, Egyptian, Moroccan, and so on. I felt my stomach ache with tension because I knew it won’t be easy making friends.

As time flew I had not one or two but a whole bunch of friends. To name a few very close and good ones, Saba, Fajr, Maryam, Raeya, Hifza, Saba, Bushra, Arwa, Fatima, Amna, Ayesha, Samima, Faiza, Naima, and I could just go on writing down the names till forever. Years passed and my family of friends kept growing. There was no question of leaving anyone behind but rather walking side by side. We were truly a ‘One Big Family’.

And then the day came, it was the last day of our examination and it was time to say good bye. With a heavy heart and tears in my tears I hugged each one of the people I had ever met in TWS and left to face another challenging world all by myself.

With edits visible:

It was in Year 7., < It was my first day at The Westminster School. <<I walked with slow steps towards my class with hesitant steps. Searching my name in every class list, I was feeling felt nervous and shy. Talking to strangers people instantly wasn’t my nature. I finally found my class and, as I entered, I saw new faces everywhere. There were Lebanese, Indian, Syrian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Philippines Filipino, Japanese, Turkish, Egyptian, Moroccan, and so on. I felt m My stomach ached with tension. because I knew I It won’t wouldn’t be easy making friends.

As t Time flew, and soon I had not one or two but a whole bunch of friends. To name a few very close and good ones:, Saba, Fajr, Maryam, Raeya, Hifza, Saba, Bushra, Arwa, Fatima, Amna, Ayesha, Samima, Faiza, Naima, . and I could just go on writing down the names till ‘til forever. Years passed and my family of friends kept growing. There was n No question of leaving anyone one was left behind but, rather, we all walked ing side by side. We were truly a ‘One Big Family.

And then the day came., it was t The last day of our examinations, and it was time to say goodbye. With a heavy heart and tears in my tears eyes, I hugged each one of them people I had ever met in TWS and left to face another challenging world all by myself.

Edited version:

I walked toward class with hesitant steps. It was my first day at The Westminster School. Year 7. Searching my name in every class list, I felt nervous and shy. Talking to strangers wasn’t my nature. I finally found my class and, as I entered, I saw new faces everywhere. Lebanese, Indian, Syrian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Filipino, Japanese, Turkish, Egyptian, Moroccan. My stomach ached with tension. It wouldn’t be easy making friends.

Time flew, and soon I had not one or two but a whole bunch of friends. To name a few very close and good ones: Saba, Fajr, Maryam, Raeya, Hifza, Saba, Bushra, Arwa, Fatima, Amna, Ayesha, Samima, Faiza, Naima. I could go on writing names ‘til forever. Years passed and my family of friends kept growing. No one was left behind but, rather, we walked side by side. We were truly One Big Family.

And then the day came. The last day of examinations, and it was time to say good-bye. With heavy heart and tears in my eyes, I hugged each of them and left to face another challenging world by myself.

***

Outside of a demonstration like this one, I would only recommend these changes to Aisha, not implement them. You’ll note I did not make much effort to correct grammar. In fact, I introduced “errors” in spots, because doing so sharpened the emotional edge. In prose and narrative non-fiction, grammar is subservient to art. It’s not a textbook, so I didn’t edit as such.

Let’s give a big round of applause to Aisha for volunteering and for donating her talents to this exercise!

Image source: I can't remember. Sorry.

Image source: I can’t remember. Sorry.


Goodbye, Richard Matheson

I don’t know if another writer influenced my storytelling style more than Richard Matheson, author of I Am Legend, The Shrinking Man, and dozens of unforgettable Twilight Zone episodes. It was reported just hours ago that he died yesterday at age 87.

Richard, enjoy your  journey into a wondrous land, where boundaries are that of imagination…

Space