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1. Planet Waves Considered

“In this age of fibreglass I’m searching for a gem” Planet Waves B. Dylan I don’t know who started it or how it started but it became a tradition and a ritual. We (Dave, Robin, Frank, Norm, Paul, Al and Mike to name some of the main participants) lived in a house on the corner of 4TH Ave and Balaclava in the Kitsilano neighbourhood of Vancouver. They say it has become very exclusive and expensive there now. Then we had a single mother with an almost teenage daughter living next door to us. She was convinced that the RCMP (she called them “The Horsemen”) had killed her husband who had been a heroin dealer. The tradition was turning a Saturday (if we were working or any afternoon if we weren’t) into a Tequila Sunrise or Bloody Caesar or Harvey Wallbanger day. We all supplied the ingredients if we could plus whatever beer and smoke were available, threw open the doors and windows and cranked up the stereo. It is incumbent upon residents of Vancouver to take advantage of every sunny day there. Even the British climate doesn’t seem as depressing as the long, grey, cold, wet stretches of days and weeks which occur in Vancouver winters. Maybe it’s not so bad for natives but we weren’t natives and knew very few. Everyone was from somewhere else. I remember Meddle and Band on the Run and Peaceful Easy Feeling blaring out across the postage stamp lawn as we played frisbee or catch with a football. The one which was played the most on those days was Planet Waves. It was the last time Dylan recorded in a studio with The Band. They had already toured with him as The Hawks and they toured again in support of Planet Waves. Not a bad backup band. They honed their chops in Toronto backing up Rompin Ronnie Hawkins, The Hawk. In The Last Waltz (1978) Robbie Robertson describes Ronnie Hawkin’s pitch upon hiring the talented teenagers as something like, “the money ain’t great, but you’ll get more pussy than Frank Sinatry”. The Hawk was from the southern US and had plenty of experience in small bars there where the band onstage was separated from the audience by chicken wire to protect them from missiles like beer bottles thrown their way. He says he was a hard taskmaster. He didn’t want a backup band which learned songs on stage or made a lot of mistakes. He made them practice and practice hard. The Hawk was recently interviewed by George Stroumboulopoulis on Canadian tv about his miraculous recovery from pancreatic cancer. A young healer (an underground healer, one not recognized by the established system) heard of his plight and helped him recover. Now he’s still laughing about the miracle and, as he tours, sharing his joy. The best known song on Planet Waves is Forever Young. It’s obvious when you listen to the lyrics why Rod Stewart covered it. I don’t know whether he added some words of his own, but every parent, rock star or not, can understand the sentiment behind the lyrics of the song. On side 2 of Planet Waves The Band whipped up one fast version with their electric jug band style, but the slow version on side 1 with Robbie Robertson’s tasty licks is one of the best rock songs ever written in my opinion. I know some people can’t stand Dylan’s music and his voice even though it’s in key and timed properly, but anyone who admires the power of the English language has to, at least, respect him as a writer. “Twilight on the frozen lake, North wind about to break...” are ten words which open Never say Goodbye and an instant image is conjured up in the listener’s mind. Planet Waves also contains Going, Going, Gone which is another song created with great lyrics and the collaboration of musicians which doesn’t overpower the lyric content. It is a good example for all bands who have realized that the most beautiful music is created by individuals contributing to the song, not trying to stand out from everyone else. There were a lot of women around that house but, unfortunately, one look at the state of the kitchen and bathroom discouraged most from living there. I have to admit that someone only making it to the kitchen sink before they threw up on a Tequila Sunrise Day was a little much. Naturally, none of us had washed any dishes for a long time and that made it worse. The sunny days got fewer when Fall hit and gradually petered out. The occupants reached a low point in January when we watched the Superbowl on acid with no food and the sound turned up to drown out the sound of the wind and rain lashing the street outside. Then someone got out of jail and landed there, bringing quick visits from cops when he ran outside and threw beer bottles at motorists passing by on 4th Ave. The carefree, sunny days of Planet Waves were gone. “My dreams are made of iron and steel, with a big bouquet of roses hanging down, from the heavens to the ground” Planet Waves B. Dylan

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2. Marciarose Shestack, broadcast pioneer, will join me at the Free Library, to launch Love: A Philadelphia Affair

This, up there—the gorgeous woman seated beside Tom Snyder—is Marciarose Shestack.

The first woman to anchor a prime time daily news show in a major market (famously rivaling Walter Cronkite in the ratings). The face of ABC, KYW, Noon News, and her own "Marciarose Show." A film and theater critic. A woman who regularly sat with presidents. A credible and beloved analyst of culture, history, and politics.

Marciarose—still gorgeous. Once my mother's friend, and, today, my own.

How grateful I am to her, then, that she has accepted my invitation to join me on the Free Library of Philadelphia stage as I launch Love: A Philadelphia Affair (Temple University Press) on October 7, at 7:30.

I hope that you will join us—and take this opportunity to meet this Philadelphia legend on a night dedicated to Philadelphia love.

With thanks to Andy Kahan, always, for opening the door.

Love will go on sale on September 7.

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3. elements of choice for how to start the writing

Begin -- and find the personality
Last week one of our leading authors of fiction died--E. L. Doctorow.  He was noted for creating fiction in a historical setting and mingling real persons of the period along with his fictional characters.  For example, in his novel, Ragtime, he has a fictional episode with Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, sharing a ride at Coney Island.  NPR aired an earlier radio interview with Doctorow in which he said he preferred to think of such writing as 'national' fiction, instead of historical fiction.  Perhaps because he veers more widely from the known historical script for the characters and period, though he captures the true characters and place settings of the era all the same.

In the radio interview, Doctorow discussed his writing of Billy Bathgate.  He had spent a lot of time thinking out the character of Billy and the elements of plot and motif, but was having a difficult time getting started with the actual writing.  It wasn't until he wrote out the first line of Billy himself telling us who he was, that Doctorow knew where he was heading and what Billy was to be about.  From there on it was a process of learning from his characters what had to follow, and how best to get there.  The method strongly suggests a process of listening to some inner muse, or the author's subconscious, to commune with the characters in writing the most authentic, compelling fiction.

This process is at the other end of a writing spectrum for starting a work of fiction, wherein it has been suggested to first develop a written outline of the novel before beginning to write, and maybe even a preliminary storyboard (a graphic, sequential display of the principal plot elements, as was discussed in an earlier post.)

The hazard of starting a new work without a well developed outline can lead beginning writers to "spaghetti-ing,"  a term coined by Jon Franklin, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, in his book, Writing for Story.  Franklin's book is honed toward creative non-fiction writers, but he stresses his advice is meant as well for fiction writers, too.  His point being that as any story moves along, more and more complications can arise; precedents that have been established seem to be falling by the wayside; motivations seem to be clashing; and so, the flow "is taking on the consistency of horse-hoof glue."  Seems like an apt description for a manuscript in trouble, nonetheless, one can allow that a writer as gifted as Doctorow may avoid such calamities, even without an outline, by being truly in communion with the characters, and practiced enough to consult his muse at key points about where the ongoing plot may be leading.  I've usually been a follower of Franklin's advice, but I think I might have written enough over the years to dare taking Doctorow's approach, even if just occasionally.  It certainly seems a bit more exciting and perhaps more creative--in skilled hands.

So, we have Doctorow's concrete example of how he began a specific, highly acclaimed novel (which led to a movie of the same name, featuring Dustin Hoffman); Doctorow had his character tell us who he was and what he was about.  This also presented an early opportunity to establish a unique voice for Billy, an eventual 'must' for any character in a compelling piece of literature.

  Another often used competing motif is to start with a description of time and place setting for the story.  The thought being these are principal screening criteria for many readers trying to decide whether to go any further before choosing a book.  Recalling another frequent advisory, there are arguably only three to five pages to capture a reader, agent, or editor.  Although place can indeed be an important element in a story, almost as compelling in stature so as to be a 'character' in itself, this choice might also easily devolve into some static, overly wrought descriptive language for opening a story.

 A closing thought on choosing a beginning motif is to consider the use of in medias res (into the middle of a narrative, into the midst of things.)  It might also provide a good opportunity for incorporating voice and place setting together, and right up front.  Select some dramatic scene that was visualized for later in the story and bring it forward, perhaps a scene that shows the principal character in action and speaking in his own, unique voice.  Keep in mind, three-to-five pages, at most, before your reader might, perchance, add the book to his cart and proceed to checkout. 

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4. Aula com Antônio Pedro sobre o ECA – Estatuto da Criança e do Adolescente

Anotações feitas durante a aula dada por Antônio Pedro Soares, da Comissão de Direitos Humanos e Cidadania da ALERJ aos membros do DDH.
Rio de Janeiro, julho de 2015.















Foto da Laíze Benevides (?):


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5. Hamilton, the Play

All the buzz is justified;
If I’d said different, I’d’a lied.
A slice of history unfurled
Like nothing else that’s in the world.

Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote
The lyrics, book and every note
Of music, all in hip-hop time
With such creative, perfect rhyme.

For everyone who has the chance,
Go see it, for it will enhance
Your theater props, with bragging rights
(And more if you’ve seen “In the Heights”*).

*Lin-Manuel Miranda’s previous play

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6. Monsters In My Pocket -and that is NOT a euphemism it is a request!

Anyone know of -non-rip off- sellers of the Gen2 Monsters In My Pocket playing cards?  Let me know -THANKS!

That's THIS series:

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7. Oculus Debuts ‘Henry,’ An Immersive Virtual Reality Short

Interactive, immersive animation experiences are now a reality.

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8. New Photos Released of Emma Watson in ‘Colonia’

Earlier this week, Toronto International Film Festival website announced a large portion of its official line-up for the festival starting on September 10. Included in the line up is Colonia, a thriller directed by Florian Gallenberger, starring Emma Watson and Daniel Brühl.

Playlist writes that Colonia:

“tells the story of Lena and Daniel, a young couple, who become entangled in the Chilean military coup of 1973. Daniel is abducted by Pinochet’s secret police and Lena tracks him to a sealed off area in the South of the country, called Colonia Dignidad. The Colonia presents itself as a charitable mission run by lay preacher Paul Schäfer but, in fact, is a place nobody ever escaped from. Lena decides to join the cult in order to find Daniel. “

The script for Colonia is co-written by Gallenberger and Torsten Wenzel. The film is produced by Benjamin Herrmann and Nicholas Steil. Colonia will premiere as part of the TIFF Special Presentations Program.

Both Playlist and Firstshowing.net have released three first look photos from the film.

colonia1 colonia2 colonia3

 

Earlier this year, we reported that Emma Watson shared her experience of playing this role in Colonia. She talked of how the role challenged her as an actress. For more information on Colonia, visit the official TIFF page designated for it.

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9. Book Titles

Though your publisher will likely change it, it's still worthwhile to choose the best title you can.

http://annerallen.blogspot.com/2015/05/10-tips-for-choosing-right-book-title.html

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10. 48 days, day 44-46: almost time

{{ I am chronicling 48 days of writing before my July 31 travel. If you are chronicling your summer writing/days and would like to share, please link or comment so we can all cheer one another through. Strength to your sword arm!}}

The Year of Exploration is here.
On Being a Late Bloomer is here.
My speech at Vermont College (moments, memories, meaning) is here.

It's that no-man's place where I've got one foot in the work I'm trying to do, and one foot in my suitcase, trying to make sure I remember to pack everything I'll need in California this weekend... not very effective for doing anything requiring concentration, but it is always like this before travel. We leave Friday morning and return late Monday night. Then it is August. How did that happen?

I took 7 weeks this summer to write, just write, and to see what it might bring me to have no outside obligations or travel. I haven't read back through these entries, but I will at some point, and I bet I'll see a trajectory of some sort.. something that happens when we give ourselves the time it takes and aren't pushed by deadlines of any sort.

Life still happens, of course. This last few days it has been hard to concentrate on anything for long, so I sat with my work -- all these stories I've dragged out in this seven weeks -- and said, "what would just plain make me happy?"

A story about a little girl who is full of the joy of living -- that's what grabbed me. And so I began playing with her story. One morning when I woke at three, wide awake, I went through old mss and found her. It's been so long that I've been writing about her -- let's call her Cambria -- that I'd forgotten all the little vignettes and all the beginnings and all the possibilities I'd sketched out for her over the years.

I still love her. So much! And so she has been keeping me company today, while I write a while, pop up to put in a load of laundry; write a while, go get the dry cleaning; write a while, clean up this section of my office; write a while, go water the tomatoes.

The days are also somehow filled with Vaporwave music, bathing caps, goggles, and ear muffs and laughter. It's all good. We have beans, sweet peppers, tiny tomatoes, and new haircuts.

It's almost time to go. Almost. Almost...




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11. Ways of Giving Your Readers Information

MQR - winter 2007Reading the short story "Missionaries" by Jeremiah Chamberlin (truly a great story, very hard to believe the Author Notes that it was his first nationally published story) in the Winter 2007 issue of Michigan Quarterly Review, the first page alone had me realizing there are different means of offering information to your reader and Chamberlin had used a couple quite well already.

There's the simple idea of what is currently going on given to us by the narrator's thoughts:

"I'm pumping the gas. My brother-in-law, Chris, is washing the windshield."

There's information from the past given, again, through the thoughts of the narrator:

"Chris was born again in high school, though he isn't any more."

There's observation of what others are doing and possibly thinking, again, through the thoughts of the narrator:

"Then she turns to her blonde friend and they laugh, as if we'd taken some kind of bait."

And there's also via dialogue, which can also be used to give some information from the past, though more in the line of the action, as opposed to from somebody's recollection:

"'Holy shit,' he says. '1979 Pontiac Phoenix. This was my first ride.'" (from Chris).

Each of these, and there are others, just not from the first page of this short story, have their reasons for being used. The current through the narrator's thoughts is a simple and easy way to catch the reader up to what is going on and get the story started. Some of that information from the past can be filled in through the current action (Chris pointing out the girls are driving in the same model as his original car) and other material from the past, if it's necessary for the reader to know, might need to be dropped in through the narrator's thoughts if there's no clean way of doing so in the current action. It seems most frequently this type of information will be useful as a bit of foreshadowing that maybe could have been slipped in through current action later in the work, but then it might seem almost too conveniently brought up.

I think Chamberlin has made great choices with all of these examples and again, hope to see this story in a full collection in the future if this, again, his FIRST, is any indication of what other stories he's written might be like.

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12. Europa Editions to Publish Novella by the Grandson of Che Guevara

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13. Vanishing Games

The Ghostman returns in this thrilling, page-turning, whip-smart read. Hobbs has nailed it again with a story of jewel theft gone wrong set in the glittering casinos and crumbling slums of the gambling city of Macao. Books mentioned in this post Vanishing Games Roger Hobbs Used Hardcover $17.95

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14. Three chances to win a signed copy of Green Valentine!

IMG_9738

To celebrate the release of #GreenValentine I am giving away three SIGNED copies – one each on Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter!

Official publication page.

In Melbourne? Come to the launch and get a signed book and free organic vegetable seedlings!

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15. Paradise Falls Holds Top Slot on Self-Published Bestsellers List

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16. for Brian Tappin ~ joy and sparrows, seagulls and sky and hope and… ~ part one

Sometimes we’re lucky enough to fleetingly meet a someone who changes us, bursts heart open, adds three feet to your height and shows you where your forgotten wings are buried. And it’s mutual. The following (and the rest of the song which I need to illustrate) are for you Brian Tappin ~ roaring lion, gentle angel, boy I miss you right now, dude! xx

for brian - july 29 2015


Filed under: Brian Tappin, flying, journeys, love, sea, songs

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17. The Last Ever After

In the third and final volume of the School of Good and Evil series, Sophie and Agatha find themselves separated, only to face each other once again when Evil threatens to take over. The thrilling, twisting conclusion to this epic tale is one not to be missed. Books mentioned in this post School for Good [...]

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18. Oculus TD Max Planck: “We Want to Inspire the Virtual Reality ‘Citizen Kane’”

Challenges and lessons learned from interactive animation storytelling.

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19. ‘Seer 5: Rise of Thunder’ Is Another Animated Feature from China

It's the fifth feature in a cartoon series that you probably haven't heard about in the West.

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20. How I lost over 20 pounds without going on a diet or going to the gym (more)


Me, a year ago (left) and me now (right)

A year ago, a reader at an event asked to take a picture with me and posted it on Facebook. When I saw it, I didn’t look at our happy faces. I focused on the roll of fat around my waist.

I hadn’t been happy with my weight for a long time, but that really struck home.

Things I had tried to lose weight


  • Weight Watchers. This actually mostly worked, but I was always hungry and I got tired of constantly counting points. Due to some quirks of the time period I attended, I cooked atrocious things like Black Bean Brownies (just because they are the same color doesn’t mean they taste like brownies - but WW used to give you lots of credit for fiber). Once at a family reunion we all got food poisoning and took turns hurrying to the bathroom. But the next day I had my lowest weigh-in ever at WW, so food poisoning FTW!

  • Being mindful of every bite, taste, sensation. I actually think this is a good thing, but I usually read when I eat, so my concentration is fragmented.

  • Eating 35 grams of carbs a day, two days a week. I remember sitting with my friend Amy every Thursday for 17 weeks when she did her chemo treatment and glumly regarding my turkey breast and hard boiled eggs. It turns out all kinds of high protein or high fat things have some carbs in them - and they add up fast.

  • Living on 600 calories two days a week. A friend did this and lost eight pounds. I would pour over the menus and wonder how I could possibly do it since I am so active.

And that’s the thing. Even though writing is a sedentary occupation, I have always been otherwise active. I was fit AND fat, or mostly fit and fat. Last fall I had had to switch to walking instead of running, after having been diagnosed with moderate to severe arthritis in both knees. I asked my doctor if I could run again if I lost 20 pounds. You could practically see the thought bubble over his head: Like that will ever happen. Despite my knees, I was still active: walking, jiujitsu, kung fu, and weight lifting. However, study after study will tell you that you can’t lose weight through exercise.

But….

I had heard of friends of friends who lost a lot of weight once they started using a treadmill desk. And last fall I unexpectedly got some German money for Shock Point, which nearly ten years later still sells well over there.


So I bought a LIfeSpan treadmill desk, found an old computer (from 2008, but still runs what I need) and started using it when I wrote (and sometimes when I watched Netflix). I wear a Fitbit and went from putting in 12K steps a day to 25—30K. In the first eleven weeks, I lost eight pounds.

The pace has slowed now, but I’m still losing a pound every couple of weeks. Not that much different from Weight Watchers, but I am eating whatever I want! (Caveat: I mostly eat healthy.) I’m running again, and my knees feel fine. Every pound less is 3-4 pounds less on the knees.

And this morning I was down 22 pounds!

How to replicate this yourself

  • Get a Lifespan desk

  • Or try making one yourself (google DIY Treadmill Desk)

  • Or try housewalking.

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21. A Literary Map of Paris’ Left Bank

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22. Oculus Creative Director Saschka Unseld: “It Feels Like We’re in Film School Again”

After directing Pixar's "Blue Umbrella," Saschka Unseld has moved into the world of VR filmmaking.

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23. New Beginning 1048



Sir Lancelot Knights Academy, New Camelot. Final examination for junior level of knighthood. Please, answer the following questions with clear and short sentences. You have two hours to complete the test.

Cedric took a deep breath and looked at the parchment with the academy’s emblem, a golden dragon wielding a sword.

This is it.

His last written exam as a cadet. If everything went fine, he’d be a knight in a few days. Well, not exactly a knight but a junior one, which meant more years of training. Not that he would complain. He looked forward to it.

He dipped the quill into the ink bottle and wrote in big, bold letters:

Name: Cedric William of Locksbay.

He skimmed through the long parchment. It contained sixty-three questions about every subject he’d studied at Sir Lancelot’s in the past five years. A test easy only for those cadets who had spent the last few weeks cramming. Not Cedric. He’d had other things to take care of.

The first question was about weapon-keeping. Good. Not a problem.

1. Weapon-keeping: The sword of a knight is his most precious ally.

Yes, true enough. Except that for now Cedric used one of the standard blades of the academy. Not a proper one. Anyway. Question number one…

A princess is trapped in a gaping cavern, beset by filthy orcettes, demon women, and dragon ladies 45 miles away. You and your horse can travel eighteen miles per hour. How long before you thrust your sword into hot, throbbing flesh? Show your work. 


Opening: BA.....Continuation: khazar-khum

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24. a most incredible Bank Street Book Fest

How lucky am I?

What an incredible line-up.

I will learn so much.

I am grateful.

Thank you, Jennifer Brown, Bank Street, and all those writers, reviewers, librarians, teachers, thinkers that I will learn from soon.

You can register at Bank Street College. And I hope you will.

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25. Abnett and Ross give Marvel’s Hercules “consideration” and a New Costume

Dan Abnett and Luke Ross are bringing Hercules back to the Marvel Universe with a new title named after the titular hero. The series will be available for purchase in local comic book shops in November and will feature the Olympian attempting to atone for some of his previous mistakes. Hercules, a key ’70s Marvel […]

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