Thursday, December 13, 2007

Flash Fiction

I was reading about Ernest Hemingway the other day. There is a story that he bet some friends ten dollars that he could tell a story in six words. Papa turned in this, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” His colleagues paid up.

That would become what is called “ short short fiction” or “flash fiction.”

It seemed that it would be a fun challenge. I decided to give it a go. It’s much more challenging than it seems.

These are some of my “flash fiction.”

Longed to have her. Bad idea.

Ninth inning, two outs, pitch thrown.

We killed Mum. She’s a zombie.

Lottery was won. Money now gone.

At the crossroads, the deal was offered
. (I cheated a bit there, that’s seven words.)

A play happening, Booth lurked behind.

He sent weekly letters to her.

The gun fired, it was accidental.

He tread water as sharks circled.

And my favorite;

After she died, the cats feasted.

Sure, not quite the poetry of Hemingway’s, but to quote the chimney sweep Bert in Mary Poppins, “they’re better than a finger in the eye.”

Well, maybe they are.

Good night and good luck.

Monday, December 3, 2007

I Boycott the Boycotters

Before I get started, a quick item of bidness. I can’t say how much I loved the story of Republican presidential underdog Mike Huckabee scoring a celebrity endorsement from, wait for it, Chuck freakin’ Norris. This is true. You couldn’t make that story up. Huckabee was quoted saying, “My plan to secure the border? Two words: Chuck Norris.” If there wasn’t a writers strike right now, the staffs at Letterman and Conan would be sending Huckabee thank you cards. Now what are the odds that Hillary Clinton will seek the endorsement of Jean Claude Van-Damme? Ten to one? Twenty to one? “Mr. Giuliani, we have Steven Segal on line three!” “Put him through!”

Okay, now to my subject.

There is a holiday movie coming out in the next couple weeks called “The Golden Compass.” It looks awful. Truly awful. The film comes as a result of the studios seeing the success of Harry Potter, Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings and then saying, “Is there any other fantasy books that haven’t been made that we can throw 200 million at and see what happens?” “Golden Compass” had negative buzz, poor pre-reviews, and seemed destined for a box office bomb.

Then the always-in-touch-with-reality Christian right stepped up to the plate, knocked the dirt off their cleats, and announced they are “organizing” a boycott of the film. And all of a sudden, there were countless stories about Compass and miles of free publicity. The panicking studio heads sat in their office twisting their moustache’s and cackling with glee. Once again, the idiots that think it is their duty to tell the lemmings what to watch have fell into the huge pit that Hollywood dug and covered with palm branches. As a result of a boycott, these knuckleheads have assured that this probable financial failure will most likely make it’s money back.

Here’s their beef; the movie is based on the novel Northern Lights by British author Phillip Pullman. Pullman is an outspoken atheist. He allegedly wrote the Compass series as a rebuttal to C.S. Lewis’s (a former atheist, by the way) Narnia books. Mr. Pullman doesn’t believe in God. He firmly says so in interviews and in his books. What the whacko’s are saying is that Pullman has an atheist agenda and spreading his beliefs into the children of the world. And there is nothing we can so do stop it!!!


This is what I find offensive. These groups believe that people are so put-a-metal-fork-in-a-light-socket stupid that they are not able to see a film (or a read a book) with a different point of view from their own and not be brainwashed by it. As if humans are so dumb that they will go see “The Golden Compass” and think themselves, “Man, I was pretty religious when I came into this movie theater, but these imaginary characters on the flickering screen don’t believe in God. Now I don’t believe in God. What choice do I have?”

Why is it that these groups feel that we are too dumb to decide for ourselves to disagree with the viewpoints of a writer or artist? “You can’t watch the West Wing! It’s liberal propaganda! You’ll be bamboozled! Hoodwinked!” Yeah, I actually have the ability to disagree with the imaginary people reciting lines in my idiot box. Just because I read something, doesn’t necessarily mean that I will agree with it.

If you don’t want to support books, TV or films that you disagree with, don’t watch it. It’s not that hard. I find reality TV offensive. Not the content, but because it’s so stupid and contrived. So I turn off the telly and pick up my book. How hard is it not watch or read what you would find offensive? I love and revere Martin Scorsese as a filmmaker. However, I have read enough about The Last Temptation of Christ to know that I would not like the portrayal of Jesus in the film. Then, on my own, all by myself, I made the decision to not watch it. How did I do it? How did I ever muster the strength to choose for myself?

I don’t believe that mass media has a mojo casting spells on the masses that can’t be broken. People are dumb, but not that dumb.

I don’t believe that this is too far a throw from book burning. (My favorite is when they try to ban Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” which is about burning books.)We live in a free society kids, as a result you have to tolerate people that have different viewpoints from yourself. The Christian right shouts about free speech when they want to have prayer in schools, then rails against it when there is a book that denounces God. My friends, that is what we call hypocrisy. Believing in free speech means you have to allow others to express their points of view even if you disagree with them. These are the same morons that try to ban Harry Potter books because they will somehow inspire children to become witch’s. And then we will have to burn those children at the stake. It would be exhausting. The Salem witch trials were in 1692, haven’t we progressed a little since then?

Of course, the majority of the organizers have not seen the film or read the book. They heard it was offensive. The old “we assume it will be offensive.”

This is what the protesters don’t seem to understand; these boycotts have the opposite effect of what they want to happen. They do not result in lesser receipts, they make the film a much bigger success than it would have been. Now we have endless column space filled with stories that say the name “The Golden Compass” over and over and over gain. A boycott equals 10,000 billboards in Times Square. It’s publicity that can’t be bought. Michael Moore banks on the negative pub to put more people in the seats. The studio publicists must be throwing high fives and popping champagne corks when the boycott stories some across the wire.

It’s another example of the Christian right just not getting it. Preaching the virtues of the New Testament without understand the message inside.

I won’t see “The Golden Compass” because it looks terrible. Not because the 700 Club shouts that I shouldn’t. Make the decision on your own. It isn’t that hard.

Good night and good luck.