Saturday Mornings, Cereal, and Lots of Sugar

Saturday Morning Cartoons – R.I.P.

Felt I needed to do that. For years, this was a ritual for kids. Get up, get hollered at by our parents who were trying to sleep, rustle up some food (mine was Alpha- Bits, milk, plenty of sugar), start things off by turning on the tube, get hollered at again ‘cause the sound was too loud, and settle in for the morning. At some point, either one-half or the whole parent team would throw me outside to play (back when we went outside to play and could actually damage ourselves).

But for a solid three or four hours I sat in front of the magic box and watched, without guilt, some of the finest cartoons ever, not computer-generated. Hand-drawn. And with some of the best voice actors ever. Let’s time hop back to an average Saturday morning in ’64.

On CBS, at 9, we crank things up with The Alvin Show, followed by Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales. Tennessee, a penguin (I love that name, Tennessee Tuxedo), lived in a zoo with his buddy, a walrus named Chumley. The late great Don Addams (Maxwell Smart – “Sorry about that, Chief.”) voiced Tennessee. Then we had Quick Draw McGraw (I’ll do the thinnin’ around here.”), Mighty Mouse Playhouse (“Here I come to save the day…”), and Linus the Lionhearted (this wasn’t one of my faves, so I probably went for more Alpha-Bits and some Nestle’s Quik – 4 tablespoons, not teaspoons). We’re in the home stretch now with the The Jetsons (“Jane! Stop this crazy thing! Jaaannne!”), hit a snag at noon.

Decision time. One channel had Beany and Cecil (Cecil the sea-sick sea serpent – who came up with that? I think drugs were involved), the other channel had Sky King.

That’s when I’d get yelled at again because I’d try watching both at once, spinning the ol’ tuner back and forth (“You’re going to wear out the dial! Go outside and play!” “Aw, Mom… I won’t do it anymore. I promise.”)

We’d wrap things up with The Bugs Bunny Show, and finally Hoppity Hooper. Then it was time to go outside and play for real because the put stupid old adult news stuff on. That just wasn’t right, man.

Those were the days when we got an education from TV. Captain Kangaroo, for example. Our folks would hound us all the time about saying please and thank you, but if the Captain told us to do so, we did. Days of Magic Drawing Board, Grandfather Clock, and picture books read to us. Where the worst thing that would happen was Mister Moose dropping ping pong balls on the Captain.

Granted, the generation that came along right after us got Mister Rogers and Sesame Street, so they still had some calm, insightful, fun, and educational shows. How do I know? Because even going into adulthood I still would watch those shows. I was in my late teens when one of the most memorable, creative, fun, and educational group of cartoons appeared.

Schoolhouse Rock.

Didn’t matter how old you were, Schoolhouse Rock was a hoot, with its great animation and catchy little tunes. And what a great way to remember all those speech parts, huh?

Conjunction junction, what’s your function? Yeah, I still love it.

So, in honor of those, I leave you tonight with this link. Have fun.

Schoolhouse Rock tribute

‘til next time… Adios.

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Where the Heck Did I Leave Those Words?

We have been away from the house for a day, motelling it. Ah, Wendy and I both love motels. A chance to get away from the regular chores, visit bookstores and coffee shops, and write. And also art work. Well, Wen’s doing the art work. I’m writing. The challenge, as always, is keeping my paws off Facebook, and the almost insane desire to check how many hits I have on my blog. Well, at least I haven’t been hitting Angry Birds much.

Sometimes just a change of scenery is enough to get the brain matter working again. I’m keying this while taking a brief break from my novel. I’ve been working on a section that is moving slowly for me. Slowly for me the writer, hopefully not slowly for my eventual readers. I’ve been away from my book for three days and that seemed to get my fingers and brain all sticky. I’ve hit the flow a couple of times this morning, which always feels good.

Productive time this morning, gradually the words return to me. Here, words! Here, words! Come on, that’s a good word. There are times when I hit it right off, other times when the engine’s cold. Now I’m idling okay. RPM’s are back to where they should be.

Well, back at it. All you creatives out there get goin’ and do something, too.

‘til next time… Adios.

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Actually Un-actual

Just a short one tonight, folks.

Saw an ad on one of those huge 2 liter bottles of Doc Pepper where some college students won something or other. It’s got a photo of three of them on the bottle. The caption says, “Actual Winners”. So, what about the virtual winners? Un-actual winners? One meaning of ‘actual’ is ‘real’, so could there be unreal winners? And if there are no unreal winners, are they being left out somehow? Just wondering…

‘til next time… Adios.

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If White Space is White is it Really There?

I started thinking about white space today. Probably the first time I heard of it was way back in the 70’s, taking an art class (which I dropped because they didn’t challenge me enough – actually I just didn’t push myself), then later in a black-and-white photography class. Empty space. What isn’t there.

That idea never made sense to me for the longest time, I guess because I was stuck on the idea that you draw something that’s ‘there’ or take a photo of something else that’s ‘there’. Why else would you do art? You’re representing things. Stuff. Objects that you see.

Then, something happened. My photography instructor had a huge photo of an arch in an old building, and most of the photo was the opening. Just a small portion of it was arch. Aha! Light bulb time! I finally got it. White space.

Now I see it in writing. Still working on using it, but I’m studying it in other writers. Learning. I’m finding, in teeny tiny steps, where it is, where it isn’t. Words are our play, our passion, our work. And sometimes it’s knowing when to stop.

‘til next time… Adios.

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Adverbs, Reverbs, Prejucates, and Other Word Critters

Happy Word Play Day, everyone!

Okay, ya got me. There really isn’t such a day, that I know of. How do I know? Because Hallmark doesn’t have a card for it. But besides all that, there really should be a Word Play Day. For us as writers, as creatives, or any of us, word play is fun. So, let’s have a little fun!

New words. I’d read somewhere that a language, in order to not just survive, but to thrive, needs a little stirring of the word pot occasionally. Bring to low simmer for 15 minutes… Change. Fresh words thrown in. We need to make new ones, bend, stretch, distort existing ones, even if we don’t like the results.

There are some words, mostly created by advertisers, that just really need to go away. You’ve heard me harp on some of these before. Words like ‘melty’ and ‘pre-owned’. Sometimes they take a perfectly good word (like ‘epic’) and Dr. Frankenstein it until we’re ready to torch the poor creature. Please, no more ‘epic’ movies. Unless it’s epic-alicious. Or an epic-alooza. Okay, I’ll stop now…

But there are some words, made-up words, that are just for fun. Take supercalifragilisticexpialidocious from Mary Poppins. Great word. Fun word. As far as I know, it’s not been part of anyone’s ad campaign. In the movie, they say it’s “something to say when you have nothing to say”. Some would call it a nonsense word. Okay, it’s a nonsense word. Then others want to extract the meaning from it as though it’s an infected tooth. They look at each root, dissecting like surgeons, looking at the ‘super-‘, the ‘cali-‘, etc., trying to force a meaning on it. Stop that! It just is. Leave the poor word alone and have fun with it.

I read something once by one of those rootin’-tootin’ word critics once, and they were talking about someone using the word “Yay!” in a children’s book, that the correct word is “Hooray!” Hellooo… they’re both in the dictionary. And even if “Yay!” had not been in the dictionary, leave it alone, please. It has as much right to exist as “Hooray!”

Okay, enough preaching, more fun. I love taking words and twisting them around. Parts of speech, for example. I kicked around this riff the other day, and I’m back at it (stifle groans, please), thinking about all those things they tried teaching us back in English classes. About critters like adverbs. Those are wanna-be verbs. They’re advertising verbs, that’s why they’re called adverbs. And they do stuff to verbs whether the verbs want them to or not. Here’s an example:

Let’s say there’s a squirrel. It’s just doing squirrel stuff, minding its own business, then a dog comes along. So, the squirrel, having dealt with dogs before, decides to climb the tree to get away from the dog. Okay, that’s all fine. Now if we want the squirrel to get away from the dog really fast and have some breathing room, we’ll have the squirrel quickly climb the tree. Or rapidly climb the tree. Fine. But what if a different adverb gets in the way. Say, an adverb like slowly. Well, we now have the squirrel slowly climb the tree. And if the dog has a fast adverb, well, it’s just not gonna end well for the squirrel.

See what I mean? Adverbs are dangerous. So be careful. How careful? REALLY careful.

Tomorrow’s lesson: reverbs. Those are similar to adverbs but they make verbs go backwards.

‘til next time… Adios.

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Brain Misfirings

Brain is misfiring today. I can feel it up there trying to run, and my fingers are moving, but there’s sludge in the cylinders. Feels sort of like I’m fishing around with my hands into a really funky pond, feeling for the words, and the water’s really cold.

Okay, ‘nuff of that. On with the show.

It’s been happening for some time, but now it’s right out there in the open. Movies as thrill rides. A few years ago Hollywood started firing out movies that were spectacles, emphasis placed on making things go fast or blow up. Plot? Story? Nah.

Which leads me to the new old movie Noah. New because, well, it’s just coming out. Old because it’s been done before in one form or another. Except this time (and here’s the word I hate) it’s EPIC. That’s the one word they use to describe this latest special effects beast. Epic. And seems like there’s one ad describing it as a thrill ride. So, forget about story or character development. Just do everything BIG. Really BIG. Lots of water. And CGI critters. Hey, and the biblical stories are ready-made for this movie trend. Guess they’re gonna do a new Ten Commandments.

Yeah, almost forgot. The movie poster for Noah. We’ve got Russell Crowed standing there in the rain, axe (and I just noticed that my spell-check thinks I should spell ‘axe’ as ‘ax’ — ain’t gonna do it) in one hand, the other clenched into a fist. Noah as action hero.

Had lunch with a good friend of mine today who’s getting ready to take a film-making class. It sounds cool. He’ll get into editing, production, the whole shebang. But the biggest thing I remember from our lunch today is the new word he learned – epigone (I think I’ve also seen it as epigon). No, it’s not Egon from Ghostbusters. Epigone. Means a cheap imitator. As in Ed Wood Jr. has many epigones but they can’t quite master the master’s touch of truly good bad movies.

Hey, can I use it to describe Noah? How about, ‘this movie is an epigonic epic’?

That’s all I got for today.

‘til next time… Adios.

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Stop Playing with the Cat and Write….

Oh, the new word processors are so fancy. Once upon a time I had to think how I’d start a journal entry. Should I do 4/6/14 or Apr. 6th, 2014, etc. Now I just go up to the “Insert” menu tab and there are all kinds of options for me to get lost in. So many distractions.

Distractions. As writers we always try to find ways to avoid distractions (so we can write, right?), but there are so many of our own choosing that lay in wait for us. For myself, I have enough noise in my head to provide me with plenty of distractions. That’s why I write. To tone down my head noise. And to share it with you folks out there.

This morning, at least, I haven’t turned on the TV, which normally I have on as “wallpaper” or “background”. Haven’t even fired up iTunes, Pandora, or anything else for music yet. I will in a few minutes, but I’ll avoid the scream of the black box on the wall as long as I can. For now, I hear birds outside my window. Pleasant. I feel morning sun on the back of my head. One of my cats is asleep, the other is drifting around. Got my fingers moving a little, I’ll find some music, then dive into the deep end.

One big difference between writing on a computer (my preferred method — as it’s the best way to keep up with my thoughts. And I can no longer write cursive — subject for another time) and pen and ink is that I have to go through so many directory levels to get to my document. When I write in one of my notebooks (and yes, I have several) I just turn to a blank page. But, unfortunately, I need the speed of the ‘puter. Just an observation. Which do you folks out there prefer?

Been a good day so far of working on my book. Over 350 words and I’ll do more. I just have to keep myself from getting sidetracked. Like playing with the cats. Then there’s the weather outside that calls me. Upper 50’s and sunny. Aaahhhh!

Well, better post this afore I gets all sidetracked again. Then I’ll have it behind me and can focus on my other writing.

Keep writing weird, friends.

‘til next time… Adios.

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