Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Summer Song...for kids

Okay, it's too cutsie. So what?


Be watchful, dear, the bumble bug,
the black and yellow rumble bug;
he whispers warmly with his wings,
and sings.

Be careful of the honey bug,
the browny yellow busy bug;
he hurries on from flower to flower,
each hour.

Be fearful of the waspy bug,
the black and shiny nasty bug;
he whines a warning days and nights,
and bites.

Study now these stingy bugs,
these multicolored pointy bugs;
but see how beautiful they are,
from ’far.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Hard Writing

Hard Writing

When I’m on a roll and I’m working on a story, I can usually write well over a thousand words a day. It just flows. I can see the scenes and the characters and how they interact and the words I need to express everything I see. It’s like watching a movie and writing down what I’m looking at.

That was how it went with my novel, Buck and Tangee: Things That Happened. When I got into the groove the words just seemed to appear on the screen. But that book is done and now comes the hardest writing, the submission cover letter and synopsis.

It should be so easy: “Dear Ms. Agent...” But it’s not. There are particular forms to follow and rites to observe. It’s a book of humor but the letter can’t be funny or clever. It has to be business like. So I write a business-like cover letter and I read it over and I realize that if I were an agent I’d be thinking, “Humor? This guy isn’t very funny.” Then I do a letter with a few neat turns of phrase and I just know that the agent would think, “Who the hell does this guy think he is? He doesn’t even know me and he’s trying to be cute.”

Almost worse is the synopsis. It’s just supposed to be a very straight forward, present tense description of the contents of the chapters. It comes off the same as trying to write a clinical analysis of a joke. “That’s supposed to be funny?”

It’s all like a blind date on paper. I can only hope that the agents in question will somehow get past this forced prose and start reading the first thirty pages of the manuscript that I’m allowed to send.

So let me ask...how do you handle this business of writing?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The King

Just a little fun. Maybe you have to be of a "certain age" to get it, but what the hell.


The Elvitian Monks and the Holy Order of Prestlians are at war again. Mostly the fighting is centered around Memphis but there’s hardly a trailer park in Michigan where you’d feel safe. Tensions are running high since The Comeback is expected any time now. The question is where? The Elvitians look toward the Holy City of Vegas and the Prestlians are holding out for Memphis. There is even a small group of Unaffiliated Faithful camped out near Tupelo. Spray paint has been the weapon of choice, but considering that an acceptable color for an Elvitian cassock-jumpsuit is camouflage, you can’t be too careful.

When it comes to religion, I’m pretty much interdenominational, although I must say, I’ve never had much faith in polka. Probably it was my well-known Ecumenicalism that made me the prime candidate to be named emissary for this mission. The Secretary General—as secular and tone deaf as he may be—thought at first I was a Sinatrist, but when he found that I practice most other Musics, he figured I’d do as good a job as any.

The mission was pretty basic: deliver to each group an invitation from the Secretary General to a joint Concert, the point of which was to find common ground and stop (or at lest slow down) the internecine assault rate. After all, it is hard to hear the Holy Songs over a lot of gunfire.

I approached Memphis in a properly neutral costume. I worn a flowered shirt and lei patterned after the third scene in Blue Hawaii. Both sides accept tasteful adaptations of Elvis’ movie garb as respectful. Prestlians favored worshipping the Early Elvis and dressed more in silk and Banlon shirts and sport coats; the Elvitians went more for jump suits and sequins.

This was one of the finest Prestlian Temples I’d ever seen, and it looked a lot less like a pole barn than most of the others. Of course it was a pole barn, but was still and all a fair approximation of Graceland. A deacon escorted me in.

“Elvis has seen you safely here. I’m glad. I am Elvis John Martin.”

Elvis John wore snug black slacks and a lime green silk shirt open at the throat. I guessed, based on his coloring, he had naturally sandy or even blond hair before he’d died it coal black. His sideburns were patchy at best.

He nodded at my outfit and said, “Blue Hawaii. I preached on that message two weeks ago.”

“I’m sorry I missed it,” I said, and quoted a few lines from the film. He smiled.

“Elvis John, you know why I’m here,” I said. “This combined Concert could be very important. Of course, none of us can know when The Comeback may happen, but every Concert offers the chance, and one as great as this could offer the best chance yet.”

Elvis John fairly glowed, “Wouldn’t it be grand? Just imagine, if He could Comeback at our concert.”

This was becoming an easier sell than I had anticipated.

He asked, “What sort of service is planned?”

I knew this was the turning point. The Prestlians didn’t hold with Incarnations and in fact, still called them “Elvis Impersonators.” While every representation of The King was to be respected, they preferred to worship the Original Canon through recordings, films and the occasional lip-synch.

I said, “The Elvitians have agreed to a single Incarnation, but they insist he perform for at least half of the service.”

Elvis John frowned, but he was clearly in the game. “Not half of the service. Half of the Canon performance, maybe. And we’d have to agree on the songs he would perform. I think we could allow them some input on our choice of recordings. If they can accept those terms, I’m sure we can. But the message? Who will give the message?”

“I am authorized,” I said, “to tell you that if you are willing to accept the Incarnation for half of the service…”

“Half of the Canon,” corrected Elvis John.

“Yes. The Canon. That if you can accept that, they would be ready to share the spoken word. They have even offered you the opening Benediction. They would do the close.”

“It would seem we are cast as merely the opening act. I don’t like that.”

“I think they were quite sincere,” I said. “They felt that since your beliefs focus on The Kings beginnings—his roots—that you would prefer to begin the service.”

He hummed a few bars of Devil in Disguise. Then he looked at me and said, “I don’t believe they think in such generous terms. But, although they may have their own motives, they may have a point.”

I breathed a little easier. Actually that last little bit of BS had been my own creation, but hey, that’s what diplomacy is all about.

Later, after we had worked out some further details and signed documents he walked me out.

“I’m sure,” he said, shaking my hand, “we couldn’t have reached this agreement without the help of the Spirit of Elvis working through you. You’d be a fine addition to our congregation. Would you consider it?”

“Thank you, Elvis John. I’m flattered. But you know I’m an Interdenominationalist.”

“But at least tell me…thee must be one pre-set on your stereo that you favor—one CD you play when you need divine inspiration. Tell me.”

We’d arrived at my car. It may have been a breech of some diplomatic rule, but I couldn’t help it. I whispered in his ear. He smiled and said, “I should have known…of course…the True Prophet. The One and Only. Mr. Excitement.”

As I pulled away I hit that favorite pre-set, cranked the volume up to ten and treated the assembled Prestlians to the wailing strains of my one true god of Music, Jackie Wilson.