NOO SHOOS/AULD FEATS

Shoe shopping is probably my least favorite activity. I’m a casual sneaker-type guy and in the old days my only decision was black or white. Now they have shoes for walking, running, climbing, gardening, cooking chili, washing dogs…but I have already digressed. That’s the problem with not writing a blog for months. I’ve been on a bit of a sabbatical although I’m not really sure why. Life is good, cluttered and confusing but good. Maybe I just needed to step back and appreciate the clutter and confusion. That’s as good an excuse as any I suppose. Yup…I’ll go with that.

Back to my shoes. When I needed to replace my usually beaten-to-a-pulp footwear I’d go and stand in front of the racks hoping that a pair would jump out at me (yes they have jumping shoes too). The type of shoe that has never jumped out at me is the kind I bought a few weeks ago. Whenever I saw this style I used to think ‘oh, old guy shoes’ and passed them over but this time I thought ‘gee, they’re neat’ and bought them. The fact that I thought they were ‘neat’ kind of spells out where I’m going with this.

I bought ‘old guy’ shoes because I’m ringing the doorbell on 70 Sunset Lane. I’m an old guy.

I still don’t put a lot of stock in age although lately it’s been on my mind a little more. The underlying theme of ‘White Wolf Moon’ was a man trying to rekindle his youth on the premise that within his sixty-plus body lived every age from birth until now. I still believe that’s true although some of my teen years have thankfully found a good hiding spot (down by my spleen I think…but I shan’t go looking). It’s all about attitude. ‘You’re as young as you feel’ comes to mind but it’s more than that.

Physically there’s no going back. Too much water under the bridge or, in my case, beer under the belt. Lines of life, scars of experience, and pounds of Papa burgers gift wrap the essence of my being.

Mentally, however, one can take a break and look at life the way one looked at life ‘back then’. It’s not all that difficult but it’s also a bit of an education. Remembering times before computers and zillion channel television packages can be both funny and frightening but with the right outlook you can put things into perspective. Looking at today through the same eyes I had as a twenty-year-old I realize I haven’t really changed but everything around me has. Technology is a long, straight endless highway but life is a traffic circle.

The most damning evidence of my circle? Yup…the shoes.

At twenty I wore moccasins a lot. Leather moccasins laced together with a bow on top.

What goes around….

Mike Grant has two published books: White Wolf Moon and Barking at Yesterday’s Moon. Both available on Amazon.

 

COVER UP…..

….actually the insides are up too…finally! ‘Barking at Yesterday’s Moon’ is now available on Amazon as a trade paperback.

It’s been a learning experience but I’ve figured out what NOT to do the next time around. I’ve learned that the most important three words in writing are proof, proof, proof. When I got the initial download I immediately checked for those nagging formatting errors and found quite a few. Pages containing only two words, justified lines with far too much space between the words or blank pages where the ‘page-breaks’ were too close to the bottom of the previous page…fun stuff like that. While going through this process I discovered a few errors not related to the formatting and changed those. The second time through I was looking for those little mistakes and found three, one of which made me shudder. It was the use of “your” instead of “you’re” which is one of those things that drive me nuts, like “their” and “they’re”. Such simple mistakes but such unallowable mistakes. I found nothing on the third proofing but did a fourth anyway. The lesson to me was to do the proofing in a different format than the full page Word document. Switching the text to the format in which it will appear gives a different perspective and it’s surprising what it reveals. While I still have to select a portion of ‘Barking at Yesterday’s Moon’ to use as a preview I consider the final upload to Amazon a bit of an accomplishment.

With this part behind me I’ve returned to a manuscript I worked with for a few months, one I really wasn’t fussy about originally. Perhaps it was the time I spent away from it while putting this one to bed but I’m feeling better about it now. I can see so many possibilities and directions and I’m looking forward to diving back into it.

For now though I’m getting caught up on blogs and facebook…and maybe a little yardwork.

STOP THE WORLD….

Time to clear the air….
I’m not responding to a lot of facebook posts anymore. Simply because…
I’m tired of conspiracy theorists.
I’m tired of hearing how Canada as we know it is doomed under Trudeau. Let’s get real here. It wouldn’t have mattered who got elected the gloom and doom crowd would have been tossing their uneducated prophecies ad nauseum anyway.
I’m tired of fifteen year old photographs/stories showing up as current fact even though they have been proven to be hoaxes for at least a decade. Check the facts before you post.
I’m tired of the assumption that if I respond negatively to a story then I’m anti-something. Other than Macaulay Culkin and aforementioned conspiracy theorists I don’t dislike anyone. If I choose to not ‘like’ your comments it has nothing to do with your religion, social status, sexual preferences or race. It’s simply because I don’t agree with your comment. If you have a problem with me not falling in line behind you then…like I said, it’s your problem.
I recently ‘unfriended’ someone because of our different views regarding one of his posts. It was regarding recruitment to form a march on the Alberta Legislature to protest the NDP Government. Let me tell you up front I’m a child of the Sixties and I am all for peaceful protest and, if I felt strongly enough about an issue, I would join the sit-in, signs and all. In this case, for me, there was a lot to be wary of. First the photograph of a flag-waving man atop an excavator posed rebelliously against a bright blue sky. Then comes the text containing a list of “I love my:”s…everything from oil sands to farming, guns to freedom. The way I see it trying to encourage a ‘peaceful’ demonstration yet feeling the need to throw ‘guns’ in there is somewhat counter-productive but it is the ‘freedom’ part that really sticks with me. The fact that we have the freedom to gather on the government’s doorstep and protest is a freedom not granted in many countries around this world. You HAVE your freedom and it was that freedom you expressed when you voted that party into office. You also have the freedom to vote them out and if you want to peacefully protest everything they do until you can kick them to the curb then go for it. When I read the original post I went back through the comments from the Bundy camp in Oregon and everything from content to presentation was eerily similar and I stated that in my response. I did receive the expected pro-Bundy style responses but then my comment was deleted. It appears the poster didn’t like being compared to the home grown terrorists on the other side of the border. The original post remained however so I have to assume he supports this type of thing. I don’t support it so I ‘unfriended’ someone for the first time in all the years I have been on facebook.
In the old days (yes I hate those words too but in this case it fits) if anyone managed to get a public forum it was through recognized media and they were required to adhere to certain standards but thanks to the internet anyone can now have their moment in the spotlight. Generally this is a good thing but as this forum also provides a stage for the wack-a-doos it is up to the reader to investigate what you see and read.
A couple of years back a fellow by the name of Bill Schoel posted on a wildlife site regarding the BC government’s policy of aerial-gunning down wolves and how it was a necessity because (according to the writer) a friend of his had seen his dogs torn apart by a pack of wolves in downtown Kamloops, BC. Coincidentally I live in Kamloops and I’m pretty sure I would have heard about this incident. Further investigation revealed that Bill lives in Maryland and continually posts idiotic comments to stir the flames. There are a lot of people like Bill who post under false names or simply anonymously to fill some sort of void in their lives but it’s when you see the responses these posts get you realize how easily unthinking people get wrapped up in stuff like this. If I remember correctly a dozen or so hunters responded that they were ready to camp out in Kamloops to gun down those vermin. A simple search of the local news outlets online would have proven the story false and they wouldn’t have looked like the idiots they most certainly are.
Memes falsely accredited to famous people, altered photographs, misleading headlines, totally laughable conspiracy theories, sponsored comments, and outright fiction is flooding social media and it now becomes the responsibility of the reader to validate everything before accepting anything these days.
If you believe that the government is spraying chemicals in the air to ‘dumb-down’ the public then fine. I think it’s simply that through social media the dumbed-down segment of the public that has always been there now has an unfiltered voice and a built-in audience that, back in the days of responsible journalism, would have remained silent.
Off my soapbox now.
I have been scarce on both this blog and the facebook pages lately due to a few things but mostly I’m working on a third book (which isn’t going as well as the first two) and the finalizing of the second book. I’m on the third read-through of the print-proof of ‘Barking at Yesterday’s Moon’ and it should be uploaded in a few days. It is available as an ebook on Amazon.
To those whose blogs I usually follow on a regular basis I apologize for my absence but hopefully I can get back into the rhythm soon…although as Evan Morris says in “Barking at Yesterday’s Moon”:
“Things change and the sooner you realize that life isn’t perfect…that everything isn’t going to magically fall into place when you get all those ducks in a row the better off you’ll be. Every step we take in life has its own trials and tribulations. After we get those sorted out we take that next step and…more wandering ducks.”

 

RENOVATIONS….

I had decided that it was time to make some changes in this blog, beginning with a new name. This was the worst place to start. I’ve spent hours playing with ideas and trying to come up with that ‘just right’ title but “White Wolf Moon” has been a part of me for so long I feel like a traitor even considering anything else. It has meant so much to me over the last four years. So many highlights of my life have been rooted in this book and so many fond memories. Book signings and media interviews fed this aging ego somewhat as did the first time I googled the title and my name then found both mentioned all across the globe. The arrival of those hard copies and the excitement of opening that first box was another highlight. Add to this the fact that the book was a semi-biographical novel based on real people and some real events of my earlier days and the decision became easy. So many warm memories live on those pages and so much pleasure has been brought to me by the book itself that I just can’t bring myself to replace it as the title for this blog. So I won’t.

I’m approaching this as if I was renovating an old house. The exterior is fine and simply needs a tweak or two but the interior will be upgraded and changed to suit my needs.

Originally this page was meant only to promote my books and it has served me well in that regard. As time goes by it becomes more difficult to come up with posts about these books and I want to expand the content. As you probably know I occasionally write about the wolf issue or just ramble on about odds and ends, mostly because I feel the need to post something after an extended absence. I intend to broaden the scope to include a more diverse content and share the ideas of the people I follow. So many writers, artists, photographers, wildlife supporters, collectors…the list goes on. I have also been remiss in supporting those that follow and support me and for that I apologize.

Some have been with me since the beginning, others only recently. These people have encouraged me and taught me so much and I am grateful. Some have re-blogged my posts and promoted my work or offered much needed advice and understanding when things weren’t going quite the way they should. Again, I am grateful.

I have never really explored the power of the blog and it may take some time to get all of this worked out but then what’s life without a challenge or two?

This time around I’d like to introduce you to a couple of special ladies who have encouraged and supported me from the start…

https://jpmclean1.wordpress.com/

https://redclayandroses1.wordpress.com/

blogsign

BARKING AT YESTERDAY’S MOON

We all do it. In moments of quiet reflection our thoughts drift to a time when life wasn’t quite so complicated and we were younger. It doesn’t take much to rekindle the flame. An old song or perhaps something as subtle as a scent can send the mind wandering. Sometimes it’s just a flash thought, an image of someone we used to know. They appear in our mind then just as quickly disappear leaving us to wonder “whatever became of…”. Our wondering returns us to that place so long away and so far ago. We can visit and view through rose-colored specs but that’s about all. We can wonder “what if” until the proverbial cows come home but we can’t do anything about it. Besides “what is” will trump “what if” all life long and with all its ups and downs “what is” is always going to be what will be.

“The sooner we realize that life isn’t perfect…that everything isn’t going to magically fall into place after we get all those ducks in a row the better off we are. Every step we take in life has its own trials and tribulations. When we’ve finally sorted them through we take that next step and…more scattered ducks.”

The above is a quote from the sequel to “White Wolf Moon”, a sequel that finally has a title and a rough cover design:

sbarkingcvr2

Like “White Wolf Moon” the title for the sequel jumped out at me while reading something I had already written. I’d included the line in a conversation between two of the characters months ago:

Danny put his hands behind his head, stretched his legs over Ginn and stared into the darkness. “You remember when we used to do this up at the ranch?”

“No more Danny, I’ve wasted far too much time barking at yesterday’s moon.”

“That sounds like the start of a great lyric.”

“It does doesn’t it?” Evan took a deliberate, thoughtful draw on the pipe then let the smoke drift lazily from his lips. “Although I think Ozzy might have something to say about it.”

As soon as I read that line I knew it suited the overall content perfectly. It encompasses the ‘feel’ of the story as Evan visits old thoughts and dreams emotionally as well as old neighborhoods and environments physically. The “moon” reference in both titles ties them together and the cover uses the same photograph minus the blue tint that I used on White Wolf Moon. Perfect for a sequel!

There’s also an inherent problem with writing a sequel. For those who have read “White Wolf Moon” there is little need to introduce the characters or their past/current relationships or adventures. These readers would accept references to the first book without confusion but I also have to be mindful that there might be people who assume that “Barking at Yesterday’s Moon” could be a stand-alone. This has been one of the major stumbling blocks as I have had to make many minor changes to ensure that all these references are explained without being repetitive to those who have read the first book.

“Barking at Yesterday’s Moon” wraps up the stories of the characters and ties up a few loose ends but it’s also more fictional than the semi-biographical “White Wolf Moon”. From a rifle-toting backwoods adversary to a light brush with the Edmonton City Police Service, Evan gets himself into a few escapades that were not part of my life. What “Barking at Yesterday’s Moon” does is answer the questions that readers of “White Wolf Moon” have asked me. They wanted to know more about Ginn, the white wolf-cross and her relationship with Evan. They wanted to get to know different characters better and to explore the friendship between Danny and Evan. I believe I have now answered all of their questions.

With all the changes I have had to make recently I am still a little behind but I’m nearly ready to run some hard copies to distribute to a few people that I trust to be upfront and honest about what I have written. Their opinions and critique will be the final step before publication.

Then the adventure begins.

HELLO BLOG….

Well hello Blog…my, it’s been a long, long time.

Me? Not much really. Life has been kinda getting in the way lately but mostly it’s because I haven’t had much to say. Even now I’m waiting for the sun to warm the back garden patch so I can get out there and clean up the weeds and winter residue. It seems there’s always something to be done.

Hillary’s running for Prez. I don’t know why but I feel good about that. Actually I do know why…it’s because I’ve been following some of the Republican candidates and, well, as the old saying goes “if you can’t say nuthin’ nice” y’know? Plus it really isn’t my place to comment on American politics…we’ve got enough on our plate with the Canadian supreme leaders.

Mia got tossed (by public vote) from The Voice. That does bother me but it also indicates the unsavvyness of those who do vote. Yes Blog I am aware there’s no such word as “unsavvyness”…no need to drop the squiggly red under it. Carly Rae Jepsen was “voted” off Canadian Idol a few years back. I wonder if she ever thinks about that. I wonder if she used her dismissal by the Canadian public to inspire her even more…sitting in front of her mirror saying “I’ll show you Canada”. I wonder who actually won that year? Can’t say as I remember the name. Sure I could google it but really, I don’t care. I also wonder how far Bob Dylan would have gone on American Idol…would he have even passed the auditions? I doubt it. In fact of the thirteen American Idol winners how many are household names? Four, perhaps five?

What’s up with all the Zombies? There’s a plethora of them crawling around on my television lately and I don’t know why. Of course I don’t know why a lot of shows are on my television. Obviously some people watch them or they wouldn’t be there. When I bought my big-screen I didn’t realize I was getting a digital version of the National Enquirer. I really don’t care to see how Kim can balance a champagne glass on her derriere but I gather some people do. A television critic surmises that it’s because people like to identify with reality actors. I’m sorry but if you can identify with the Kardashians then what the hell are you doing watching television? I’m also amazed that I didn’t get a spelling squiggly on “Kardashians”. Forget for a moment that “reality actors” is a bit of an oxymoron and consider that there are people out there “identifying” with these well-paid frauds. You’re not peeking into anyone’s secret life…just the life they get paid to show you. Name any reality show, whether “Honey Boo Boo, Duck Dynasty, or Storage Wars…they get paid to act real.

Sorry Blog, I don’t mean to rant. It’s just that when I sat down to write this I had no clear goal in mind, much the same as a lot of the politicians I mentioned earlier. I just wanted to touch bases, to let you know I’m still around.

I’m still writing my second book. I thought I was almost done but I’ve uncovered so many things I want to change and some more I want to add. Maybe it’s just a general funk I’m in right now but I actually considered scrapping the whole thing at one point. I can’t do that…my characters need me to resolve some issues. On my re-read I realized I left room to expand a particular scene and I hadn’t returned to fill out the details. I’m finishing that up now and it has become more of a pivotal part than I thought it would be and I’m really pleased with how it developed. Maybe taking a break was the solution to my frustration. It might just be a coincidence that prior to writing the new material I finally came up with a title I’m pleased with. After calling it “the sequel” for so long it now has an identity of its own. With that pressure off things seem much better now.

Okay Blog, side note: I decided to warm up a slice of left-over pizza to enjoy while I re-read this entry. Long story short…the plate was hot and slippery. Result: one piece of pizza and forty pieces of plate on the tiled kitchen floor.

Life happens.

WRITEs

TIME TRAVEL & TRUTHS

“No…I wouldn’t want to go back. You can’t change just one thing, it’s all intertwined…one thing causes another and so on. Take away that first thing and a whole branch of your life tree could disappear and who knows where I’d have ended up. I probably wouldn’t be sitting here talking with you if I could’ve gone back and changed something.”

So says Danny in a deleted scene from my current manuscript. It is the obvious theory of time travel and actually makes a lot of sense.

Time travel is easy when writing a manuscript but the same theory applies. When I began this story I decided to keep writing as the ideas flowed and I’d go back and organize it later. At one point I was reading what I had written and decided one scene would work better in a later part of the story so I used a bit of fictional time travel and relocated it. It was only during what I hoped would be my final read-through that I realized what I had done.

As this is a sequel to “White Wolf Moon” I have to keep in mind the people that might not have read the original story so all the little “in” references have to be introduced. One of the major references was to the place that all the characters gathered on weekends simply called “The Ranch”. Using internal narrative I had Evan (the main character) reminisce about the pioneer property with an introductory description of the geography and the activities they had experienced back in the 60s. That narrative (and a few other mentions) was in the scene that I had moved. Anyone who hadn’t read “White Wolf Moon” would have had no idea what the characters were talking about in the current manuscript.

Another flaw in the time travel was a new character calling an original character by her first name. Their introduction was also in the scene that I had moved so there was no way he would have known this woman’s name as he hadn’t met her yet. That might work for a psychological horror story but not in mine.

Lack of continuity aside I’m surprised at the number of little things I’m finding that need to be tweaked or totally redone. It tends to make me wonder what kind of head space I was in when I wrote it.

Another topic, still in keeping with the fictional flow of this blog…truth on the internet. If I’m to believe everything I’ve read then Shania Twain has died not once but twice over the past few years; Michelle Obama is really a man; Sandy Hook was a Government plot to outlaw assault-type weapons (no children were harmed apparently, they were just “actors”); Malaysia Flight 370 was hijacked by ISIS and is buried in the sand in Syria awaiting another 911 fiasco; President Obama doesn’t know what a cattle guard is, and of course the re-occurring chestnut…Paul is dead.

What got me started on this was a post to a BC Wolf Hunt petition by a man named Bill Schoel whom I don’t mind mentioning because I apparently embarrassed him into hiding. He claimed that a “friend” of his had his dog killed by a pack of wolves that frequent downtown Kamloops, British Columbia. I’m not sure why he chose to name Kamloops as the setting for this piece of fiction but I’m glad he did. I have lived in the city for many years now and I don’t recall any wolf sightings…bears and cougars yes, but no wolves. I’m pretty sure a wolf pack patrolling downtown would make the news. I took him to task and he withdrew into wherever people like that go but not before he had multiple “likes” and confirming comments about his post. It is those people I question. Do they not check out these comments to ascertain the validity before jumping on the Fool Express? I find it amazing that in this easily accessed information age so many people are so misinformed. Perhaps they’re just lazy and would rather mindlessly buy into the flavor of the day than expend what minimal energy it takes to check the facts. Bill should have googled his ludicrous story prior to writing his comment and he wouldn’t look like an idiot trying to spread something that wasn’t true.

One comment I received was questioning whether I thought I was smarter than the rest of the world. My response was “It has nothing to do with being “smarter” it’s simply using your head and presenting verifiable facts (preferably with links). You don’t have to be a genius…just someone who wants to do a little digging and get it right before you comment.”

Alas I fear it’s easier to look the fool.

blogsign

BIRTHDAY

As of February 26 I am 24,820 days old…or about 595,680 hours if you prefer. That’s approximately 35,740,800 minutes or 2,144,448,000 seconds. Suddenly 68 years doesn’t seem so bad. My heart has beaten 3,800,000,000 times (give or take a million or two) and I`ve inhaled/exhaled roughly 714,816,000 times. No wonder I’m tired.

I touch on age often in my books. In White Wolf Moon Evan is explaining to Jenn how the years don’t disappear…they remain inside you:

“Sure I’m physically sixty.” He touched his chest. “But in here it doesn’t count for much. When I turned sixty, fifty-nine didn’t disappear. It’ll always be part of who I am. Every year I’ve lived is buried somewhere in this battered old body which means I’m still fifty-nine, and forty and thirty and twenty…”

Yes that svelte and dapper young man still abides in some secret hidden part of this old body. Occasionally he manages to crawl up and out but he finds that the landscape has changed. The lines and weight that 68 years have wrought is alien terrain. Jeans that once required that fashionable Carnaby Street belt now hang in there without any support whatsoever. There’s nothing in the world that can bring back the percentage of human dignity surrendered when your wife tells you to tuck it in and you’ve already tucked. Time is a cruel master.

In the sequel to White Wolf Moon I describe it this way:

Evan leaned against the bathroom sink, listening as the mirror told his tale. The problem is that mirrors don’t write fiction. He could easily forgive the mirror a smidgeon of artistic license; perhaps a little fib or two, even an outright lie…but mirrors don’t do fiction. He stared silently into the realization that the disheveled sixty-something creature staring back at him was indeed sixty-something. His eyes were dark, the laugh-lines of yesterday were annoyingly apparent today, and his hair had become most unreliable. He ran his fingers through the grey shock, placed it carefully then softly sighed as it slipped back down over his forehead.

“Nowadays when I wake up feeling like crap,” he said, “I stare into the mirror and I look like crap. In the old days it didn’t matter how I felt I at least looked good. Sure, I can psyche myself up…tell myself I’m feeling great and do a little yahoo dance on the way to the bathroom but the mirror always shows and tells. It could lie but does it? Oh no…whatcha see is whatcha get Morris. Damn mirrors.”

And he explains it to his wife Marie this way:

“It took sixty years to get this way and it’ll take sixty more to fix it. Hardly seems worth the effort.”

A lot has happened in the last 6.8 decades and I was there. More importantly I paid attention. Through simple osmosis I’ve sucked up a wealth of seemingly unimportant trivia, from housecleaning to simple mechanics to…whatever. I suppose that makes me wise in an offhanded kind of way…the senior. The last time I held this title I was in high school and I really wasn’t very good at it. I didn’t ask to be a senior…it just sort of happened. All of a sudden I had this responsibility to set a good example for all those junior kids, some of which were older than I but obviously not wiser.

That’s how you get to be a senior in high school. Passing. That’s all there is to it. All you have to do to be a senior in life is survive. It’s pretty simple actually.

There’s only one problem with this system of seniority by age. For every wise village elder there is a village idiot. Through the simple act of survival the village idiot could eventually become the village elder. Throughout history many societies have fallen due to an old village idiot.

But I digress and I’m running out of space.

I don’t have a problem with being nearly 10 in dog years, in fact I don’t normally think about it. I can watch quiz shows and answer the history questions not because I studied but because I was there when these things were happening. I’ve gone from one channel on a fuzzy b&w television to a kazillion choices on a big flat screen. I’ve been to drive-in movies perched in the bed of a pickup truck and I’ve watched some of the same movies on Blue Ray whilst parked on my couch. I’ve marveled at so many changes over the years with a sense of wonderment and appreciation that people born in the past twenty years can’t understand. They’ve grown up with the technology and gadgets designed to make life easier. They have no idea what it’s like to head out to the pump to bring in a bucket of water and heat it on the wood stove to take a bath. Times have changed and will forever change but the learning stays the same. Not just book learning but good old fashioned life learning. It’s that basic knowledge and common sense that surrounds us all but so few seem to grasp yet, according to Evan in the sequel to White Wolf Moon, it really isn’t all that difficult:

“It’s no big secret…just pay attention. Eyes, ears, and mind open…mouth shut. Nobody ever learned anything by talking.” Evan squinted and shook his index finger at her. “Listening…that’s the teacher.”

Me2a s

 

PICKLES & STICKLERS

I’m not sure where the saying “I got myself into a real pickle” came from but it describes the first major stumbling block on my read-through/edit of the manuscript. I haven’t read some parts since I wrote them and I’m quite surprised at the number of things I’m finding that just don’t feel right. As individual pieces they seemed fine but reading them within the context of the overall story they just don’t flow as well as they should. The changes are mostly minor, a word here and a word there and eliminating words repeated in the same paragraph, you know…all those little things you ignore on a first draft. It was relaxing at first and I found myself thinking that this was going to be easier than I had anticipated.

Then came the pickle.

It was a scene of nothing but dialogue between two characters. The first part flowed beautifully and I found myself giggling at lines I didn’t remember writing but then, like an unseen speedbump in the supermarket parking lot, I hit that one line with a jarring thud.

I wanted to get into some old-age philosophy with a character that I’ve always used as comedic and I felt that bringing out his previously unrecognized wisdom was important to the storyline. I realized the problem instantly but correcting it was far from instant. One issue was that I wanted to keep most of his thoughts as they tie in with later dialogue but the bigger problem was in the setup leading up to his words of wisdom. It was something the other character wouldn’t say in casual conversation. The line was forced, obvious, and clearly out of context with the rest of the dialogue.

Over three days I attacked this stickler, trying all my tricks to get past it. I worked on other scenes and came back to that one, getting more frustrated each time. I tried staring at the screen and strumming guitar chords (which always works). I recorded the dialogue on my digital recorder (which usually works). I took a walk around the block and mulled over different angles but that didn’t work either. By the way my block is comparable to three or so regular city blocks so circumnavigating it takes time and about half of it is along riverbank. Watching television, doing laundry, cleaning the basement or taking down the outdoor Christmas lights…it didn’t matter what I was doing that damn scene was the only thing I could think about.

I was working on another scene, this one where Evan (my main character) was sitting on the porch and puffing on his pipe. I included his minor vice because it was something I could identify with. I used to smoke a pipe and had quite a few of them lying around. My son from Alberta is a pipe smoker/collector so last summer I gave him all my old pipes except for three that were special to me, one of them being the first pipe that I bought with my first paycheque back in the early Sixties. I watched him sit across from me on my deck puffing away and remembered how much I enjoyed this activity back then so last July I bought a pouch of tobacco. The fact that I am still only about halfway through that pouch is testament to the number of times I have lit up, the last time being Christmas. Another determining factor was the $35 price tag for a pouch. The previous tobacco I bought was, I believe, about $4.00 (which shows how long ago that was).

Yesterday the sun was shining, the birds were singing, and a fresh new season was in the air. I decided to take my coffee along with a pipeful out to the deck and grind out my dialogue dilemma.

There are some who might say it’s purely psychological and they would probably be right but within ten minutes of going over that scene in my head…it came together. It was so obvious and so minor that I feel embarrassed that I didn’t see it days earlier. The line I was stumbling over wasn’t the only problem…so was the line leading into it. I changed that one and a new segue line naturally followed. Lesson learned? Look at the big picture and don’t get hung up on one element. It all ties together and sometimes what you’re looking at isn’t all there is to see.

I’ve dropped the pickle back in the jar and tightened the top…until next time.

WRITEs

MORE FRAGMENTS OF A RECEDING MINDLINE…

Fragment One: Jeff Bridges. I’ve always liked Jeff Bridges and he is, without question, that one living famous person I’d love to have a beer with. As well as being a great actor, a pretty good songwriter/musician/singer, and devout family man he dedicates much of his life to giving back. His primary cause is No Kid Hungry! It’s a program designed to put food in front of the estimated 16,000,000 children who live in American households that are unable to provide the necessary food these kids need. That’s one in five kids. He has been the spokesman at charity events for this cause for some time but not only does he speak out he does something about it. ALL proceeds from his new cd “Sleeping Tapes” go toward No Kid Hungry! and in a few short weeks he has raised over a million meals.

Fragment Two: Matthew McConaughey and “Canned Hunting” debacle. For those who don’t know the story Mr. McConaughey has been linked (as an owner) to a ranch in Texas that offers hunters the opportunity to “harvest” deer that are fenced in on their property. I could write a wordy blog on how I feel about this practice but I’ll leave that for another time. Since this story broke the public outcry in the form of blogs and petitions has spread like the proverbial Texas wildfire. Now his photograph and all references to him have been removed from the ranch’s website and Matthew’s camp is in damage control mode, saying that he is not an owner and hasn’t been associated with the ranch since 2011. A quick search of his bios on line still reveals he owns a ranch in Texas although they don’t disclose the name of this ranch. I’m prepared to give anybody the benefit of the doubt so I’ll remain neutral on this but those that are inferring that, if true, this will destroy his career better think again. He’s a big player and the world loves big players. The list of actors, recording artists, and politicians that have had their indiscretions buried by money and influence is long and will only get longer.

Fragment Three: No Comment. I’ve had a few of my on-line wolf friends question my absence on those “anti-wolf” comment pages since last year. Other than a few of the media public comment sites I no longer get involved with the anti-wolf crowd. I set out some ground rules for myself when it came to responding to their idiocy. One…I would no longer deal with anyone who uses a fake name/facebook page. Two…I would not respond to anyone who hasn’t a basic grasp of spelling and grammar. Three…I wouldn’t respond to anyone who starts out a comment with name-calling or threats and four…I’d refrain from commenting on any post that didn’t contain proven facts with appropriate links. These self-imposed rules pretty much meant I could no longer comment period. It also makes it much easier to “leave the kiddies alone” when they won’t let me play by banning me from most, if not all, of their pages.

Fragment Four: Politically Correct. First, and this is something I never do, I wish to apologize to anyone who might be offended by what you’re about to read. Recently, in an off-hand conversation, I referred to our native people as “Indians” and I was told that it was wrong. They are “First Nations”. As most of you know I worked for At Second Glance Books here in Kamloops and while books about First Nations people were shelved under “Indigenous Peoples” some of the titles of those books contained the word “Indian” and a lot of these books were written by talented First Nation authors. I had many customers come in and ask me where the books on Indians were and many of them were First Nations people, one building a library of First Nations literature for a tourist center. They weren’t offended by a book on “The Western Plains Indians” and really, why should they be? One of my customers went by the name of “Ace” and he was one that asked where the Indian books were. I showed him a lot and sold him a few. We actually became casually close and tossed jibes back and forth on many occasions. One day he came into the store with a couple of friends, also First Nations, and leaned on the counter. He asked if I served Indians here. My glib response was “Sure…you want fries with that?” He and his friends broke into hysterics. After I had a chance to think about what I said I felt I should apologize. “Hell no man,” Ace said, “that was funny. You white people take everything far too seriously.” With that I bit the bullet and asked if he was offended by the term “Indian” and all three of them said no, that they were proud of their Indian heritage (yes, they used the word). I’m not sure if Ace and the boys are indicative of the general feelings amongst First Nations people and certainly I find myself using “First Nations” just in case, but I have to wonder how much of an issue it is. I also wonder who decided that it was politically incorrect to begin with. Really, it’s just a word. I would think the manner or the environment in which it’s used would have a bearing on how it’s taken but then it really isn’t the word that becomes offensive is it? It’s the person using it.

blogsign