Tuesday, November 17, 2009

the prisoner

Good stuff. Stylish, clever, fun, a worthwhile new take on the original television series, and a bit dreamlike. Great actors in the leading roles. And a good score.

Vanilla Sky + Dark City + Matrix + Minority Report + The Prisoner (old TV series) = The [new] Prisoner.

And while I'm in the conceptual neighborhood, Dark City was really the same movie as Beautiful Dreamer, which isn't a bad thing. Watch both, and see if you don't agree.

Discussion about The Prisoner will follow, eventually. It really was quite good.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

best client letter ever

This fabulous letter, along with his irreplacable blog post title, comes courtesy of:


and was brought to my attention just now via the great Mark McGuinness:


To enlarge the photo of the letter, simply click on it.


* * *

Monday, August 24, 2009

encyclopedia entry as poetry

* * *


A cloud is nothing more
than a collection of water particles or
ice crystals floating in the

There are ten different types of clouds.

Five of the ten types of clouds
can be found at
low altitudes.

They are called stratus,
nimbostratus, and

Stratus clouds are spread out, dull clouds
usually found at
ground level.

Stratus clouds are so close to the ground
they are
as fog.

Cumulonimbus clouds are piled up high like
scoops of dark ice cream.
These clouds usually bring rain showers.

Cumulus clouds are white and fluffy and
look like giant heads of cauliflower.

Dark, flat nimbostratus clouds often produce rain or snow.

Stratocumulus clouds are spread out heaps of dense cover
that rise higher in the atmosphere.

Altocumulus and altostratus are middle-altitude clouds.
Even though the word alto means "height" in Latin,
these are not the highest clouds.

Altocumulus clouds look fleecy
and have dark, shadowed sides.

Altostratus clouds are flat and
make the sun look as if it is being seen
through a misty glass.

Clouds forming in high altitudes are called cirrus,
cirrostratus, and

It is so cold in the upper atmosphere
that high altitude clouds contain
ice crystals instead of
water particles.

Cirrocumulus clouds look like upside down waves
rolling across
the sky.

High, thin cirrostratus clouds look much like stratus clouds,
but cirrostratus clouds contain ice crystals and are much higher.

Cirrus clouds form
when the wind blows these ice crystals into wispy streaks
that look like thin horse tails.

* * *

Monday, August 3, 2009

when art surprises us from nowhere

* * *

Years ago, I awoke somewhere in the still-dark hours of a summer night to find a brilliant full moon shining into the bedroom. At the time I had four cats, and one of them was a couple of feet away on top of the bedcovers, scratching at an area where the light was falling. The sound or movement of the cat's paws on the blanket might even have been what stirred me to open my eyes.

Then the most fascinating thing happened. In my dreamy, half-asleep state, a small poem emerged instantaneously and fully formed... a haiku with the famous 5-7-5 syllable scheme.

Fortunately I wrote it down, not giving in to that all-too-common delusion that I'd remember it later.

It's still one of my favorite little creations, in no small part because it's genesis took place somewhere completely removed from conscious thought:

my cat scratches at
bright white patches of moonlight
on the night blanket

* * *

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

apollo 11 week continues

* * *

Reading list, fiction

Found by chance today in second-hand book shop

Discussion will follow

* * *

Update, January 22, 2010: This book proved to be too much of a committment for my present frame of mind. I was (and am) intrigued by it, but it proved too formidable for now... too many characters (there is a complete list to help the reader, which should tell you something); too much exhaustively detailed real science (even for a science buff such as myself).

When I finally decided to set down the book for a while, maybe even forever, it gave me pause. Has my attention span shortened from when I was a much younger person making her way through Michener? Have I shifted into preferring breezier forms of entertainment? Am I a literary wimp? None of that is quite right, but one of the ideas that occurs to me is, now that I am well over 50 years old-- egads!-- I have the nagging awareness of the So Many Books, So Little Time perspective.

No, it's not that I want fluff. But sometimes, you just have to pull the plug and move on if it's feeling like a chore.

Sorry, Buzz; it's not personal.

* * *


Note: since writing this, I've finally found the diary in question. That post can be found here.

* * *

The old diary with the cracked white vinyl cover is somewhere in my garage; this I know. I've run across it since moving here. It's not something I'd ever throw away, primarily because in it, I wrote about the first moon walk while it was happening.

My hope was to find that diary in time to scan its entry for July 20, 1969 and share it here in Future World.

No such luck, but my searches were hurried. Like so many of us, I guess I've been busy and distracted. We live in strange, rapidly-evolving times with too many earthbound dangers and no moon quest to dazzle us.

Coming to grips with a time span like forty years seems like the first order of business, but it's unnerving to face head on. At first, I try to reason with those memories, hold them up to the light like so many glass cat eye marbles, but instead it all comes at me achingly, and at once. That one night could be refracted into a long meditation, but I'll discipline it into a cluster of fragments.

My sixteenth birthday was two months away.

Summers in my home town were always hot, and my memory of that night merges in that respect with countless others: the barest tease of coolness arriving only well after the last rays of that day’s sun. If it had been any other night and we'd wanted to cool off, we'd drive to get icy mugs of car-hop root beer, or go to the Concord library.

On this particular night we are all at home, of course: Mama, Daddy, my sister, and me. Every person I knew would be in their homes as well, all of us excited and waiting around the curved glass faces of heavy television sets.

The room is dark. I have a can of Shasta soda half finished and warming in my hand, and we’re waiting. In his corner chair, my father has a camera ready to take pictures of the television’s images.

What first strikes me now, beyond the sharp melancholy for that all but forgotten shared sense of pride, and wonder, and endless possibility, is that we could achieve so much with so little, and what that said about us, and how that has changed. Our technology was most certainly crude by today's standards, making a mission to the moon all the more heroic, a collective effort that spoke volumes about who we were, and proof of our rich, vast sense of possibility and even grandeur.

As we sat together that hot July night, the sleeping moon of Aristotle and Shakespeare and a million children's drawings had finally been prodded, transformed into ghostly dust under an astronaut's boot, and a brilliant slice of white on countless cathode ray tubes. The jumble of ideas it seemed to suggest was intoxicating. I couldn’t shake the realization that we’d crawled out of our caves, organized our activities in such a way that it culminated in this breathtaking moment.

After the first footsteps and the moving words I'll always feel proud of, when it felt like the world would never be the same again, I slipped outside, alone. The street, usually filled with summer restlessness, was quieter than I had ever known. I looked up and stared.

Once back in the house, the images were still being transmitted. The acute joy of it made me feel inexplicably sad, and in the midst of all that, I recall wondering how many times I would recall that night in the years ahead.

By the light of the televised moon, I wrote in my diary, It is beyond belief. It still is.

* * *

Monday, June 29, 2009

days are long, weeks fly by...

* * *

Ah, so many activities a writer can immerse themselves in other than writing! Many involve the idea of writing, which isn't too surprising.

I am writing here about writing, but I am not actually Writing. The irony is not lost on me. I am not working on my nearly complete novel again today. I didn't work on it yesterday.

Because it is June, the days are long. The sky is June Gloom Gray, which short of a rainstorm is the perfect ambience, and I am alone at home. The cat is asleep, and I've turned off the phone. I have no children.

There are plenty of daylight hours, fresh brewed coffee, and few excuses for my emerging hesitation; this tidy scenario so rich with potential invites my old friend, Self Criticism, Esq. Why does heaven and earth have to be in flawless harmonic alignment before I sit down to write-- or does it? Why can't the writing come first?

Now and then you hear a writer rather airily announce they aren't going to bother to write until they feel inspired, but truthfully, this self-defeating philosophy is not my problem. I do understand that showing up to write is what it's all about: doing the work. I have no illusion that a writer can justify sitting around indeterminately to await the arrival of some flaky muse.

Writing has never been a source of income for me, but at the risk of sounding complacent, my text-generating brain doesn't seem to know that. Thankfully, a blank page, or screen, doesn't cause me to seize up.

My novel's outline is complete, the lion's share is finished, and the end is in sight; the characters are milling around, rolling their eyes, looking at their wristwatches and waiting for marching orders.

Make no mistake, I think about it a great deal. On some especially good days, lines of dialog, descriptive passages, and turns of phrase can pile up faster than pistachio shells or weekend dishes. Like we probably all do, I scribble notes on whatever is handy.

So the answer is no-- I really don't have Writer's Block. Lately, however, I have Sitting-down-to-actually-write Block. The latest wonderful chapter in my mind (118) is probably just a load of laundry away.

This brings me to housework. My husband works full time; I rarely work these days. Logically enough, I roll up my sleeves and assume responsibility for cooking, shopping, cleaning, and a portion of the yard care. This is an equitable arrangement, and anyway, I can't deny I put in some decent postwar childhood years building a reasonably respectable domestic skill set (before the concept became retro). But even taking on these duties, surely I can claim five hours a day as my very own. Maybe even more; I've been known to do that.

Do I have a 'just-finish-the-damn-book-already' phobia? Good question, but my hunch is that's not it. I've already written over 250,000 words, and the copy is quite polished. Who knows if others will like it, but I'm happy with what I've done, and nothing in the storyline has me buggered. And I'm truly anxious to have it finished, to feel that completion, to experience that deep satisfaction.

Granted, getting to this point has taken me a good five years. Tom Wolfe once observed that when our writing project takes us that long, we're not really writing a book-- we're doing a dance around the book. And there has been some dancing, to be sure, but in my defense, the novel's unusual length is such that it's really more like a four-book series all in one.

Another issue I need to mention, undoubtedly more than a small element in the last few months, is the enormous distraction of being worried about a great number of foreign and domestic current events issues I feel are of grave importance. (My calm online writer friends are very patient and gracious about my impassioned forays into that particular realm). But even with as large of a psychological footprint as this truly has, and the time I devote to it, this isn't the entire story.

So... do I truly feel I must have every last dish put away, every weed pulled, have every dustbunny on the run before I walk through the portal and follow a muttering white rabbit and his pocketwatch?

Housework has inherent dignity, but I can't claim to be that noble, and thus I can't pretend that's my bugaboo. To whatever extent that may be true, tougher to admit are non-work distractions.

My husband and I occasionally relax together and watch Red Sox games, but television isn't among my temptations. I don't spend much time out of the house on errands or entertainment. None of these can be blamed for eating into my writing time.

Although I try to take a half hour walk each day, much of the time I am right where I am now: at my computer. Nearly all of my research for my writing is online. This has been of incalculable value to me as I've built up my elaborate work of fiction.

The other side of this-- the side we all know about-- is that to be online is to be seconds away from endless captivating activities: in my case, wandering through endless fiction and non-fiction, moderating hobby clubs, enjoying countless stunning images of art, photography, interiors, collectibles... visiting lively writing groups, looking at a wide array of instructional materials, scientific papers, even old movies. It's enough to make a person hyperventilate.

What is needed, of course, is a non-negotiable schedule, and also some specific self-imposed rules. I'll get back to you with that.

It's not entirely a linguistic coincidence that "Twitter" rhymes with "fritter", as in frittering away the hours. This morning it occurred to me that stepping into Twitter is like being at an enormous mansion with a different party going on in each room. We have an organic gardener in Maine; a brave activist in Israel; a witty antiques dealer in New York! A snarky libertarian firebrand in Texas... dog-walkers, grandmothers, psychologists, artists, angels and malcontents holding forth...

Nobody cares if you wander from one chattering party to the next whenever you feel like it. And it's almost cost-free. And you don't have to fuss over your appearance, become mildly frantic over a conversational lapse, worry about someone spilling a drink on your shoes, or plot an introvert's graceful exit.

* * *

Where was I? The time is now 3:57 PM. I wanted to write about favorite places to write, but I didn't quite make it.

More later.



PS It just started raining. I love to write on rainy days. Maybe just a quick check of my emails first, and see how my friends are doing.

* * *

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Friday, May 8, 2009

Sunday, May 3, 2009

what I've finally managed to figure out about fiction writing

Three years ago, I had just made the decision to completely rework an unfinished piece of light fiction into a more serious work. I knew I needed to formalize this decision in some useful way.

What I chose to do was prepare an article about fiction writing, working out certain ideas I had held for some time without having consciously iterated them. I did no reading to prepare for the project; instead, I just began writing everything I could think of that I found important, almost without stopping. I left the article as-is, and made no later attempt to rearrange the points into a more formal sequence.

Nobody saw this article but me, but that wasn't the point. Placing myself in the role of teacher, which is essentially what I did, proved to be a good vehicle for coalescing various bits and pieces of unspoken wisdom rattling around in my brain. It also helped me muster the necessary mindset to approach the ambitious novel with confidence. (A second, similarly-structured piece addressed other elements such as style, themes, atmosphere, dialog, and story arc).

In other words, for reasons ranging from practical to psychological, organizing these thoughts about the art and craft of fiction writing was an extremely important process for me.

Here is what I wrote:

* * *

· Good fiction writing involves balancing many elements. When everything comes together as it should, the finished piece is a joy for the reader, and a source of great satisfaction to the writer.

· Engage all the senses in your descriptions, as appropriate. After all, we don’t merely see things.

· Vary your sentence length. One long, complex sentence after another can be exhausting to read, particularly if they are clumsy, incorrectly punctuated, or lack fluidity. Conversely, one short sentence after another can feel like a plodding, mind-numbing series of drumbeats. Don’t make sentence length choices arbitrarily, but relevant to your content. For example, a few short sentences in succession can suggest simplicity or urgency. It also gives the reader room to breathe. Yes, this does work. Longer sentences can be employed for more complex, leisurely, or nuanced thoughts or descriptions.

· Think about the sounds of words against each other, the music and rhythms of language. Relate these choices to your story’s content, characters, settings, plot, moods, and themes. Authors place varying levels of importance on this, but in my view it should never be ignored.

· Show instead of tell, if possible. This becomes a key element when assigning weight to the various elements of your work. Telling is appropriate when you are condensing or streamlining certain parts, but showing expands the moment and creates all-important reader immersion.

· Don’t presume that, just because you’re feeling or seeing something as you write, your finished writing will necessarily reflect these things.

· Don’t insult the intelligence of your reader and over-explain what is better inferred. Allow readers a depth of experience through the joy of discovery.

· On the other hand, don’t unintentionally leave puzzling gaps and questions. Proofreading and re-writing sometimes requires a waiting period in the interest of objectivity. Go away and come back fresh.

· Watch for over-used or pet words, devices, and phrases.

· Pay attention to paragraphs. Start and end them with effective sentences. Make your paragraph breaks logical. Paragraphs, like sentences, are a key element of pace. Bring pace under your control to the advantage of your story.

· Learn the basics, either directly or indirectly. There’s a lot of carpentry in writing. If you’re serious about writing, you’ll need to log some study hours on a regular basis. And if you’re interested in experimental or unusual writing styles, you’ll still need the basics under your belt. The only way to effectively bend or break rules is to first understand why those rules are there to begin with.

· Don’t use big or obscure words just for their own sake. This kind of showing off works against the accessibility and dignity of your work, and is a mark of insecurity. On the other hand, there are virtually endless words and phrases at your service to express subtle shades of meaning, so a sound vocabulary is invaluable. Audience must be considered, but even so, be aware of your motives in word selection.

· When beginning a project, give careful thought to the voice of the work. Should it be written in the first person? Third person, past tense? And is it omniscient (all-knowing) or limited? There are many voices; each has its merits, and any writing project we embark on has its optimal voice. Partly because my novel-in-progress is character-oriented, it is written in the third person past, limited (with brief segments of present tense). The reader is inside the mind of each significant character. The reader has no intrusive awareness of me as the writer (although my persona is indirectly painted by the work as a whole, and is consistent). Instead, I write in the third person from within each character’s knowledge and experience. My novel is a set of interlocking experiences. I would recommend doing a survey of works you’ve enjoyed, and seeing what voice was used for each. Try to deduce why various authors chose the voices they did. This is a fascinating sub-topic with many variations not mentioned here.

· Try further strengthening your characters—and in turn, your writing—by bringing a specifically appropriate nuance to your core writing style for each character’s prose, in turn. For example, a scatterbrained character’s text, even when it’s not a line of their dialog, could be written with a hint of a slightly choppy or erratic style. Or, hints of an arrogant character’s pomposity can be made to come through in that section’s prose. This technique furthers the readers’ immersion into each character without the character actually speaking in the first person. I personally find this nuanced third person voice to be the perfect balance.

· Whenever you employ more than one character’s perspective (usually in lengthier fiction), remain within only one character’s point of view for any given scene—no head-hopping. The choice of whose point of view to use for each scene is important. Often, it will be the most important person in that scene—but not always. For some scenes, I find it can be more useful to employ the point of view of a secondary character, making use of their unique ability to observe the scene’s more important character.

· Read, read, and read some more. It’s just as important to read quality finished works as it is to read books and articles about writing. And of course, a writer writes. Write early, write often, and keep at it. Write even when you don’t feel like it, because in the end, it’s all about showing up and doing the work.

· To write a work of fiction is to create your own universe. The tone and internal logic of your universe should be consistent. Humor (for example) can wander in and out of a story as it does in real life. But if your serious work turns suddenly slapstick, you’re in real trouble.

· Find fresh ways of expressing things rather than relying on cliché. But make sure you don’t try so hard to be unique that it looks belabored or jarringly inappropriate, or evokes the wrong associations. Don’t say someone’s hair is the color of scrambled eggs unless you really want to create such a puzzling (not to mention, unpleasant) train of thought... probably not even in a scene about food!

· It's been suggested that the road to Hell is paved with adverbs, and I tend to agree. Choose just the right verb, or construct the right sentence, and you’ll be able to leave most of those adverbs to beginning writers. Verbs themselves are extremely important.

· Write from your own inner wisdom. You know more than you think you do.

· Readers give themselves over to you. They trust you. Don’t betray their trust if you can help it.

September 24, 2006
San Diego, CA

* * *

Monday, April 27, 2009

the bradbury building

The justifiably famous Bradbury Building in Los Angeles occupies a special niche in my consciousness. Interestingly, as a native Californian I've had my entire life to visit this iconic place, but I never have.

As I write this, I live roughly two hours from Los Angeles. I've worked on commercial motion picture projects in the L.A. area many times. Visited that area on vacations. Passed through on road trips. Somehow I've never managed to see the Bradbury Building for myself, but it always felt like I could, at any time.

* * *
My father, the original film buff in my family both before and after I stumbled into the non-entertainment end of that profession, first called my attention to this building. He spoke fondly of it, pointed it out whenever it appeared on television, which it did with respectable regularity, short of overexposure, through the years. This was in the early 1960s, the decade of my American youth, but the movies we watched were often from previous decades.

I'm writing this purely from memory, now, a love letter to a beautiful and special place that has captured the imaginations of film directors, production designers, and writers for decades.

Ornate iron railings, walkways, balconies, labyrinthine floors, and somehow curious open design. The past dreaming of the future.

I recall it as a location for Outer Limits episodes, and various other television adventures requiring its unique atmopshere.

Perhaps its most famous appearance of all was in Ridley Scott's game-changing science fiction masterwork, Blade Runner, as the location of the hapless J.F. Sebastien's toy and doll-automata-filled apartment.

Seen through more recent eyes, it occurs to me the feel is what people are now calling steampunk. You would probably choose to spray everything down with water, shooting in the early morning hours. If you're using 35mm film, you could employ the laborious but effective bleach bypass process during post production to impart a steely and mysterious indigo blue.

As a potential location, it looms large in my cinematic imagination. From the very first time the idea crossed my mind even briefly, I've wondered from time to time what it might be like to direct a film there, create a project around it.

This morning, the Bradbury Building came to mind unexpectedly when I gave myself a thought-experiment to find a unique location for a couture fashion show. Once that particular mental lightbulb came on, the project designed itself. Before I'd taken the last sips of my first cup of coffee, I'd fully envisioned it. Who needs a runway?

The idea: a small audience is strategically seated in a cluster within the darkened interior. The stage is set, the anticipation electric.

First, there would be music: haunting, evocative in and of itself, but also offering accoustical description of the space to be revealed.

Instead of models coming down an illuminated runway, this couture show would feature a series of scenes, illuminated in turn, models doll-like and waiting on the several floors' various balconies and walkways. The concept is part movie still, part store window, part Cornell assemblage, and pure poetry.

* * *

This is a brief excerpt from the lovely website of USC Geography:

The Bradbury Building, built in 1893, is one of Southern California's most remarkable architectural achievements. Its plan was commissioned by real estate and mining entrepreneur Louis L. Bradbury who decided to build it just a few blocks from his home on fashionable Bunker Hill and not far from the base of Angels Flight. After rejecting a plan submitted by Sumner P. Hunt, Bradbury approached junior draftsman George Wyman. Wyman is said to have accepted the commission after consulting a ouija board. Wyman was influenced by Edward Bellamy's 1887 book that described a utopian civilization in the year 2000. The typical office building was described as being a "vast hall of light received not alone by the windows, but from a dome overhead." The interior of the court is flooded with natural light. In the true spirit of Los Angeles, it has been featured in many movies, from DOA in 1946 to Blade Runner in 1982.

Images-- a great number of them-- can be easily found online.

Why has it taken me this long to check on the details? Why have I never seen this location for myself? My theory around this has to do with forestalling the end of the dream and the beginning of reality: for instance, I just learned there is a Subway sandwich place on the building's main floor, not exactly consistent with my fantasies. But there's something else, too, at work here. We save certain things as an exercise in immortality. There will always be more time, there will always be a chance. Considering this: the longer I go between phone calls to my father, the longer he'll be around, a finger on the pause button.

Knowing I will someday see the Bradbury Building for myself gives me a reassuring sense of endless time. I've driven past it on countless occasions. For now, it is vivid in my mind, a done deal, a set of ideas, an evocation, a sense of possibility and potential and future memories that exist deep within my aesthetic psyche.

Having envisioned the space I can even see the couture itself. Magical and haunting, heroines of great dreams and stories half-remembered upon awakening. A mashup of dreams of a suburban girl growing up in the late fifties and early sixties. A subject for another day.

Best regards,


* * *

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

sunflowers on a starry night

A worn-looking man sits disconsolately at a café table on a quiet cobblestone street. Behind him is a dazzling starry sky, but the man is peering down into his coffee cup. His reverie is interrupted by the arrival of a man in a dark suit with a dark turtleneck and expensive-looking eyewear. His hair is in a sleek ponytail, and he is sporting a cultivated and near-perfect two-day beard growth. Even in the near-dark, his teeth are gleaming white.

MAN: Excuse me… is your name Vincent? Vincent Van Gogh?

VINCENT: Yes… yes it is. Who are you?

MAN: Name’s Metro… Mark Metro, of Metro Marketing. (extends hand) Can I buy you another coffee, Vincent?

VINCENT: Uh… no. No, I’m fine. Do I know you?

METRO: No, Vincent. But I’m hoping in the next few minutes that will change. (Pauses, looks at chair next to Vincent, then seats himself) What would you say if I told you I have secrets to success… secrets that could turn things around for you? That today could be a new beginning for you? Well, I’m here to tell you, it’s no dream!

VINCENT: Well, I wouldn’t mind selling some paintings, actually. And it gets old trying to explain my vision to people when it’s right in front of them to see. But I’m not sure…

METRO: Exactly! Of course you wouldn’t mind selling paintings! What artist wouldn’t? Listen, I’ve been checking around. I know the market… it’s my job to know the market. It’s your job to paint, right? But not just any old painting you feel like. There’s something terribly self-indulgent about that, if you’ll pardon my saying so! How can you possibly succeed if you just take shots in the dark like that?

VINCENT: Well, I was hoping a few more people could learn to appreciate what I’m doing, and then success would follow. I’m actually sort of surprised at the blank looks I get sometimes. It can be pretty depressing. But every now and then, somebody astute says, “Hey, I see exactly what you’re doing here, and it’s exciting, intelligent work… thank you for painting it; keep the faith, man.” Then I’m reminded of what I must believe is true… that there really is something to what I’m doing.

METRO: I see.

VINCENT: Of course, those people are other artists, and usually have even less money than I do.

METRO: (makes clucking sounds and shakes his head) Vincent, Vincent… why make the public work that hard? Why suffer for your sanity? A picture is worth a thousand words, so let’s talk about your last painting, shall we? Then you’ll know what I’m talking about.

VINCENT: Sunflowers? What about it?

METRO: Here’s what my research tells me about sunflowers. Sunflowers… well, they’re just not cutting it. People don’t want to see a picture of something that grows next to a barn. They want something better. They want some glamour hanging over their sofas.

VINCENT: (looks puzzled)

METRO: I’ve got one word for you, Vincent: Roses. Big, beautiful roses in an attractive vase. It works for Hallmark, it can work for you. Of course, you have some leeway with the colors, but if you’d like to further refine your efforts, we’ve done studies on the five most popular colors, broken down by demographics. Warm-up on your coffee, Vincent? (Metro gestures for a waiter, then points to Vincent’s cup, then himself). One fellow I represent, he’s got the dewdrop-on-the-petal thing really working for him. I forget his name right now, but you’ve seen his stuff.

VINCENT: Look, Metro, I don’t have anything against roses. If a patron hired me, I’d probably do some roses for him. But why would somebody look at my work and want roses, when the whole blooming point is that it’s sunflowers… done my way? Don’t you detect any irony here?

METRO: Vincent, there’s no point in being a martyr. Do you want to die without selling anything? What do you think is going to happen? Best-case scenario… a hundred years rolls by, and your sunflower canvas goes up for auction, maybe tastes have changed, maybe somebody thinks you were a genius. So what? Are they going to tap on your casket and toss you a percentage? Give you an award? Maybe somebody will write a song about you. How many potatoes does that put on your table?

VINCENT: I know you’re trying to help, but what you’re saying is pointless to me. It’s every bit as important how I sell my work as whether or not I sell it. I need to find people who can see it, because I think I’m onto something. Sure, maybe there's room for me to perfect things, but… but nothing truly wonderful can come of giving up. No hard feelings, OK?

METRO: (Shrugs) Hey, it’s your choice, man. Let me get your coffee. You know, just between you and me, there really is something about that sunflower painting. It doesn’t make any sense to me, but… oh, forget it. (Stands up, tosses coins onto the café table). Wow; quite a sky tonight. Just look at those stars. Amazing. I bet a sky like that would look pretty incredible in your style. You know… different. But it might be kind of cool.

VINCENT: (Peers at sky in silence a moment). Thanks. Thanks for the coffee.

* * *

Saturday, January 17, 2009

author unknown

* * *

I went to the cinema the other day and in the front row was an old man and with him was his dog. It was a sad funny kind of film, you know the type. In the sad part, the dog cried his eyes out and in the funny part, the dog laughed its head off. This happened all the way through the film. After the film ended, I decided to go and speak to the man. "That's the most amazing thing I've seen," I said. "That dog really seemed to enjoy the film."The man turned to me and said, "Yeah, it is. He hated the book."

* * *