GOTTA LOVE FOLKS!

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I love dialogue. To me it’s the driving force in every story. Unfortunately page after page of characters chatting, regardless of how humorous or informative it is, gets old soon. Most often my characters seem to be hanging around a back porch or kicking back in a kitchen or living room. Narrative and some internal dialogue work well to break up the conversation but my new pet trick is transitional scenes. Usually they’re about a page in length where I take one or more of the characters and put them into a totally unrelated environment to the rest of the story…shopping for groceries, visiting the Wildlife Park, whatever…just as long as it’s a change of scene.

I had completed one of these scenes when something happened that changed the whole approach. I needed something to break the scenes between a Saturday night and a Sunday evening as the same characters are involved at both times. My lead character, Evan, is a collector of everything and one of his favorite haunts is the Sunday morning flea market in Kamloops, British Columbia and this felt like it would be a good transition that could also add background to his character. The original scene was 1,038 words in length. It had Evan checking out a few tables but mostly spending the time internally dissecting a situation that had just occurred in his life. Last Sunday I went to this flea market and came away with a virtual chapter of incredibly funny events and dialogue and it’s all real. I sat down this morning with my original transitional scene and by the end of the session it had become a 3,875 word piece and it still needs work.

Instead of just Evan, four of the central characters now hit the market and run into the same real people and situations that I ran into. It’s a breath of fresh air for all of them and especially for me.

When I take the laptop out into my backyard or to my spot along the riverbank, the change of scene works wonders for all concerned. I see things in a new light and as I see these things, so do the characters.

I know a lot of people have their “writing spot” and normally so do I but I find, even if you just utilize a digital recorder or notepad, getting “out there” refreshes the process and brings the fun back into it.

Besides, nothing beats that certain touch you get from observing real people in real situations and bringing it into your fictional world.

 

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REALITY TELEVISION?

I’m sort of off-topic again but I know me…it happens. I ran into Alan, one of the older fellas that bought my book. He asked how the second one was coming along. I told him that I was doing a bit more research into the wolf and wolf-dogs so that I might be accurate in my portrayal of the lead character. He suggested if I really wanted to study wolves and wildlife I should watch “Yukon Men” on the Discovery Channel. Then he smiled and said it was pretty sensationalized.

I’d never heard of this show and now I truly wish it had remained that way. I have just finished watching “highlights” on the website and I find myself totally disgusted with the representation of both the humans and animals in this program.

If you haven’t seen it…good on ya. In my opinion it is one of the biggest piles of fertilizer in this genre they call “Reality Television”.

It centers on the town of Tanana, Alaska where (actual quotes from the site) “you live 24 hours a day surrounded by carnivorous predators” and you have to “kill or be killed”. One man claims he’s “constantly worried that a wolf might eat some of the kids” while a woman is under constant daily stress that “if I turned my head for a couple of minutes my baby would be gone”. If I was in that situation and they were making a TV series about me it wouldn’t get past the first episode. The sight of a moving truck backing up to my door while I get the hell out of there isn’t profitable television I’m afraid.  Aside from turning a Volkswagen bug into a dog sled the mainstay of this show seems to be claims of bear, wolverine, and wolf attacks. At one point the commentator dramatically announces that “there have been 20 fatal wolf attacks in the last 10 years”. Oddly enough after close to an hour on-line I can’t find a documented case of a wolverine attacking a human. As for the maligned wolf there are only two cases of a ‘supposed’ unprovoked attack by a wolf causing death, one in Saskatchewan (which scientists insist was a bear even though wolves were spotted in the area) and one in Alaska in 2010. So Mister Commentator (or Mr. Writer)…get your facts straight before you present them as, well, fact. And the people of Tanana…well, no comment. They’re pretty much the same as the hog chasers, duck hunters, and gator dudes of those other “reality” shows…the clowns in the circus of life. I probably should have watched more but I prefer my fantasy in outer space.

Alien

But what it did do was get me thinking about “reality television” and how these shows define the greater population. To a traveler from a distant galaxy who is studying Earth through our television waves it must create quite an impression (as it probably does to those in Europe, Asia, or Australia). Okay, it’s ‘reality’ so this must be what it’s really like. Foul-mouthed four-year-old beauty queens tearing a strip off Mum because she forgot to bring the gold tiara to the contest, guys that sit around chewing baccy and handcuffing themselves to chairs while questioning the whole second-cousin thing (is she really related?), over-sexed and under-challenged boys and girls living in a mansion trying to decide who’s the better lover and who to boot to the curb, extremely under-challenged dolts hanging out at the beach trying to find their toes, family dinners comprised of crushed glass and razor blades, people who eat rocks and drink their own…never mind, over-armed half-wits in the swamps killing alligators…the list goes on. Unfortunately it doesn’t end with these fictionalized realities.

Major news has become big business and, as much as I feel for people in disastrous situations, I see no need to play the same footage of grieving parents over and over again. It’s all about getting more viewers which gets more commercials which gets more money, usually at the expense of someone who just wants to get on with their lives. It’s all about sensationalism at any cost to make money.

I mentioned “de-thatching my brain” in the last post. This is part of the process. I am trying not to clutter my mind by coming up with a single rational, logical reason why 2,000,000 people consistently watch “Yukon Men” each week and in all honesty, I can’t (“I watch it for entertainment” doesn’t count…that’s like the old “I read Playboy for the articles” cop-out).

To Alan…next time we meet you’re buying the coffee.

DE-THATCHED

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One of the 12 bags removed from my lawns….

I spent two days de-thatching my lawns. Well, eleven hours over two days to be more precise. I’ve never de-thatched and I realized on Monday that hours of sprinkling resulted in little pools and streams all over my semi-hilly back yard. When I dug down into the grass and under the damp thatch I discovered pretty much dust. I knew what had to be done. The machine did the de-thatching, probably in two hours…the rest of the time was spent raking and cramming thatch into 12 large orange trash bags. Aside from feeling incredibly proud that I managed to get said 12 bags into my Ford Focus to take them to the compost site I feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment every time I look over either of the yards and see the positive results of my labor (and many aching muscles). The thing about de-thatching is that it’s the kind of job that leaves you plenty of time to think.

As I was raking up the nasty stuff that was preventing the good stuff from getting to the roots of the grass I realized something. I’ve been having trouble concentrating on my sequel to White Wolf Moon. I have a lot of ideas and I have plenty of notes but finding the brain-space to get it all together and onto the laptop is difficult. I have far too much other stuff going through my mind and it has settled in all those little wrinkles, corners, and crevices which (aside from being a rather disgusting image) is preventing me from accomplishing what I want to accomplish.

Perhaps I need a bit of de-thatching myself.

Wolf Humper? That’s the best you got???

In one of my more lucid moments I decided it was time to grow up.

Of course during another somewhat lucid moment I voted for a city councilor based on her hair length and bra size.

Lucidity is much over-rated.

So now, fifty years later, I have finally completed my grade nine English assignment (which was to use the word ‘lucid’ in a sentence). I should get extra marks and a fast-food fry voucher for ‘lucidity’.

Not that I’m a proponent of fog-based realizations either, never have been really.

There has to be a middle ground between fracked-out ignorance and harsh reality where degrees of awareness are tempered with furry kittens, warm summer nights and sipping whiskey.

I haven’t found it yet.

This was the original beginning to this post. I was actually winding my way towards telling you about my favorite guitar chord but since I started writing this I have had some comments made about me personally and generally on a few of the Anti-Wolf sites. It is no secret that I am Pro-Wolf and when I make a comment on any of these sites I like to think I present a logical, well thought out and, above all, educated point.

Every so often I make the mistake of giving some people credit for intelligence. I believe in letting anyone have their say and even if I don’t agree I try to understand their point of view. Before getting into a dissertation I like to research the subject so that I have at least an inkling of what I’m talking about. I try to leave emotions in my back pocket and approach the subject at hand in a reasonable, non-confrontational manner without resorting to name-calling and profanity. I have come to the conclusion that it has all been a waste of time, that trying to approach such an emotional subject with those “on the other side” is basically a futile effort.

In the last week I have been called, among other less-civil things, a “wolf-humper”, a “hunter-hater”, a “perpetrator of myth” and an “inogrent city-dweller”. I choose to remain neutral on the last one as I have no idea what “inogrent” means although I suspect the writer still hasn’t figured out spell-check (the defense rests your honor). While I have a few names I could fire back at these people, I choose not to. Every time one of them opens his mouth, every time they show a video of proud “real” men skinning a wolf alive, every time they brag about shooting one more wolf from behind they accomplish more for the Pro-Wolf side than we ever could. They hold people like Bill Hoppe, who baited and killed 831F (a Yellowstone radio-collared wolf) as some kind of saint rather than the cowardly low-life that he is. Good ol’ Bill’s story in all its unbelievable and twisted gory detail is far too long and sordid to get into here. Suffice to say that commerce has once again taken precedent over the environment.

The cry on the Wolf Hunt page is “Kill a wolf, save an elk”. I don’t know…it seems incomplete to me. How about “Kill a wolf, save an elk, so I can kill an elk”. Ah yes, much better.

This may upset a few of the Pro-Wolfers but I am not a “hunter-hater”. There are responsible hunters out there and while I could never hunt, I don’t have an all-out condemnation of hunters. I don’t understand the mentality and I certainly don’t like it but I’m told there are enough measures in place to control and maintain reasonable numbers of game animals so, at least for now, I have to live with it. I also don’t condemn ranchers who are merely protecting their investment by killing a wolf however I have to question why they haven’t explored the non-lethal approaches to wolf/livestock control as so many truly wilderness-conscious cattlemen have.

Then there is the argument about why the Government “planted” a non-native species into Yellowstone Park to begin with. Give your head a shake folks…the wolves were “planted” there before there was a Yellowstone and long before you “planted” yourself. It was some guy deciding that wolves might be dangerous to tourists and the other wildlife that resulted in man “unplanting” them. The subsequent and fairly rapid deterioration of the Park’s eco-system brought about the wise decision to “re-plant” the wolves and the results have not only been positive and surprising but an undeniable testament to the value of this keystone creature in the system at Yellowstone and elsewhere.

One last thing before I end this rant. The term “non-native” animal is threaded through a lot of the posts on the Anti-Wolf sites. Most of the wolves, these people insist, are Canadian wolves. Really? That’s your argument? Honestly I have so much trouble wrapping my head around stuff like this. Wolves were here long before there was a Canada, or America for that matter. They freely roamed across this unnamed continent. All of a sudden we declare borders and we expect the wolf to respect that invisible line between the countries? Grey wolves, as they have been since before we started keeping time, are spread all across the Continent, north and south… how can you tell it’s a Canadian wolf? Besides it’s really not a “Canadian” wolf is it? It’s just a wolf. I won’t even stir the stew by pointing out that anyone in North America whose ancestors came from another country is, technically, a planted non-native species.

Thanks for the time folks, sorry for the rant but I had to get some of this off my chest.

 

EXCERPT

“There has been an inexplicable bond between them from day one. In his mind it was an understanding between two misunderstood creatures. She the wolf, fodder of nightmares and paranoia, the relentless killer. He the man who had been equally unjustly labeled all his life although unlike Ginn he’d brought a lot of it on himself, mostly through his self-imposed exile as someone he wasn’t.”

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Here is a sneak peek at the sequel to “White Wolf Moon” (I really must come up with a title soon). A lot of the comments from the first book were about exploring relationships, not the least of which was Evan’s relationship with Ginn. The story of Evan and the white wolfdog is detailed in various scenes of the sequel and admittedly I have sometimes not-so-subtly stated my feelings on the plight of the wolf in todays world. It isn’t cluttered with dry facts though, just musings and ramblings. I’m still trying to keep it a light and humorous read because I don’t want it to be a blatant ‘cause’ book. Besides, by the time it gets published those facts will probably be outdated.

Evan is at a sidewalk table of his favorite coffee shop and someone has just asked where his ‘hound’ was. Evan answered him and when the passer-by moved on he thought…

“Ginn. He missed her. It wasn’t surprising that Dale was the third person to ask of her whereabouts since he sat down. Normally she’d be stretched out at his feet basking in the ‘oohs and ahhs’ of passers-by but this morning she chose to stay home, unwilling to leave her post on the porch. She is more recognized in this town than he would ever be. She had become an unofficial spokesman for the wolf in these parts. He never grew tired of the reactions when people realized she was a wolf-cross. They’d either quickly step away from her, pulling their children to safety, or they’d quietly move closer then bend down to pet or hug her. They’d ask if she howled like a ‘real’ wolf. Evan would give Ginn the signal and she’d throw her head back and cut loose, her call echoing down the street. To those who took the time to chat she was a ‘sweetie’ and ‘darling’. To the rest she was a concern, a source of mistrust. Tourists and townsfolk alike wanted photographs with her and she loved the attention, especially the children who would wrap their arms around her neck and smile for their giggling parents. They’d want to talk, to learn all they could about her. Evan would dispel the myths about this wonderful creature and do his part to educate people that the wolf didn’t really eat Li’l Red’s grandma. He had the statistics on these predators and their activities regarding humans and livestock and was quick to dismiss inflated claims by those wishing to promote fear of the wolf for their own selfish interests. He would freely discuss environmental studies and scientific facts about the wolf’s importance in the eco-system in an effort to dispel the fiction propagated by haters and hunters who simply want them destroyed or hanging over the fireplace.

But today there was no-one stopping to listen.”