Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Books/Stories/Plays: A trip worth remembering pt 1

After such a long title, how should I start? As I was reading the "O" magazine I ran across the part where well known people talk about what is on their bookshelves. I found the concept fascinating. Then I got to thinking about how various works had left impressions over the years. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I wanted to take a trip down memory lane. In this, the first in a series of the works that had an impression on me, I intend to look at the early years of my life.

According to the stories my mother tells, even as a very small child I demanded to be read to. That may be the reason that my primary way of learning is auditory. She says by the age of three I could recite most of stories in the "Childcraft" books, to the point where I was turning the pages at the appropriate point. By the time I started school I was more than ready to read. Fate however stepped in and I spent most of my first year of school, sick at home or in the hospital. The school was a three room schoolhouse and the early grades had three grades per room. The teacher passed me that year and I joined my classmates in second grade and caught up with the first grade lessons at the same time. I bring this up for the teacher also read to us each day. I remember Edgar Rice Burroughs "Tarzan" books as she read a chapter each day. She may have read others, but those have stayed with me all these years.

In the later grades of elementary I started reading the "Black Stallion" series by Walter Farley. In that same time period I also read the poem "The Highwayman" by Alfred Noyes. Both works allowed my imagination to roam and I do believe it was then that I started writing. The Alfred Noyes poem was especially important to me. The story of love, sacrifice, jealousy and death made a great impression. I know I wrote poems for I found some a few years back. I also remember writing plays and attempting to put them on with my brother and neighbors. Unfortunately none of those survived. Still it was a time of learning to read and having the world open up for me.

I shall follow up next time with middle and high school.

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Cheyenne Again

This past week I was on the road again to Cheyenne for another murder mystery with Red Herring Productions. This time we were at Little America for the Wyoming Truckers Assoc. Since I was the 'victim' I had some time to wander around before the end of the mystery. The picture to the right was taken outside the hotel. While out there I met one of the attendees of the event. She was telling me of her son, in the Midwest, who was attending school and taking an impov class. She felt he would enjoy doing what we were doing. At the end of her conversation she gave me a hug, then told me," Well I need to get back in there and find out who killed you ass." I immediately fell in love with her. She was just who she was and so real. I know I will remember her and she may end up in one of my stories or books.
That is the joy of doing some of the things I do. I get to meet so many wonderful and interesting people. Later I found that a relative of a friend here in town used to own the land and part of Little America. The older I get the more I find that the world is really not that large and people are not that different. Much like the picture, we see only a portion of what is really there.
For those who are following, I will be doing a series on the books that impacted me over the years. I hope you will enjoy and think of your own list of books.
For those who would like to read more about writing and history check out:

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Stories and Star Trek

You can tell summer season is upon us. In the last two weeks the 'blockbuster' movies season has been out in full force and it shows no sign of letting up anytime soon. For me it is a time of seeing how good a story you can tell and still have the 'visual effects' that seem so much a part of the genre. So far I've seen: 'X-Men Origins' and 'Star Trek'. Both had good stories, but I have to say neither hold up to 'The Soloist'. Still I am comparing apples to lemons or should I say oranges. (Wanted to see if anyone was reading this.)

All of this leads up to telling a good story. No matter what venue you choose to use: books, short stories, movies or TV the basics are still the same. You must tell a good story. I have a friend and whenever we talk movies he always harks back to McKee and the importance of telling a good story. Now we have worked together on films ( not prize winners)that tried to tell a good story. To tell a good story you have to get started. Not every story will be enjoyed by everyone. I would have to say to be 'wildly' successful you need to have at least a cross section of the reading and movie going public enjoy what you have done. To me the success of any story is the 'shelf' life. How many times can you see a story, read a story and still enjoy it.

When I am writing my murder mystery scripts I try to write them in such a way the no matter who the actor is the story can morph into something different with each telling. The same goes for any other story I write. I want the reader, or in the case of theatre/movies, to be able to take something special away with them. My goal is to have the story affect the readers in a special way that is unique to them. To have the story remembered over time. That is the goal of a good story. Will the summer season have such stories told at the movies. I truly hope so.

For those who would like to read more about writing/stories and history check out:

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Soloist and other thoughts

This posting is running a bit late. I had gone to see 'The Soloist' this past Sunday and wanted to take some time to think about the film. First let me say that I truly enjoyed the performances of the main characters. The way they came across was amazing. Both Jamie Fox and Robert Downey Jr. are incredible talents. The subject matter however was one that does not allow easy answers.

Having worked with challenging people I found myself back to the time before I retired. I remembered all the co-workers who were going to change the world and the people in it. When that didn't happen they burnt out, became disillusioned and stopped trying. In many ways that was a sad occurrence. Much like the main characters they and myself played out our stories against the backdrop of challenges and disappointments.

I made it through twenty years and still have fond memories of those times. I also know that I never took the lack of success personally. I found out very early in life that you cannot control another human and when you try you simply hurt yourself. Now that does not mean that I didn't pass on information or offer to help. I am a firm believer in education and learning so that you can make informed choices. Sometimes people simply were not ready for a life change. Did it hurt to see people fail? Perhaps, but what is failure. My failure is not the same as that of others.

I recommend the movie for those who can watch not only great performances, but also for those who want to save the world. To me the film has a great message about that. What is it? See the movie and find out.