Monday, February 21, 2005

Farwell Hunter

"I do not advocate the use of dangerous drugs, wild amounts of alcohol and violence and weirdness -- but they've always worked for me." – Hunter S. Thompson

There are certain writers that immediately come to mind when one considers substance abuse; Ernest Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald, Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville and Hunter S. Thompson. They are giants and when a giant falls there are aftershocks. Stephen King wrote in his book, “On Writing,” concerning substance abuse, “…put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.” I am truly saddened to hear of this passing. I feel sorry for his family – especially his son, Juan, who was the one who found his father. My prayers and thoughts go out to them.

The unanswerable question of “why?” comes to mind. His end seems so un-Hunterlike. Was it depression exacerbated by years of drug and alcohol use, his perception that the world was going to hell and he wanted to get off, or a release from the pain of his recent back surgery? His death at his own hand leaves the answers to these questions unanswered and lost – perhaps the way his lived his life on the edge of being hopelessly lost from one moment to the next. He coined the term ‘Gonzo Journalism’ and lived out its principals to where ever they would lead. He rode with the Hells Angels, had been shot at in the pursuit of a story (or experience) and was a self proclaimed ‘adrenalin junkie.’ He lived what he wrote. This gave him an uncanny credibility. His skill as a writer allowed him to share his unique view of the world since the nineteen sixties.

He was a 67 year old writer. His feet were made of clay. His name was Hunter S. Thompson and he will be missed.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

How I Learned to Enjoy Broccoli and Battlestar Galactica

“So how are you going to know that you don’t like broccoli if you don’t try it first?” My mother asked.

“We’ve had it before.” I said. A smelly green pile of boiled foliage gave off steam not all that far from where I was sitting.

“I’ve prepared it a different way.” She said.

I looked at the bowl and its contents and shuddered.

The conversation took a different turn and somehow, and I really don’t recall how, I avoided the broccoli.

Years later I tried it and loved it.

This being said, I owe Ronald Moore and the crew responsible for the new Battlestar Galactica an apology. When I first heard that Sci-Fi Channel was going to be producing a new Battlestar Galactica series I got a little fanboy shiver. I loved watching the original back in the day, so to speak, and I thought that it would be a sharp idea to revisit the original and see what sort of changes were in store for that ‘rag-tag fleet’ of starships heading for that ‘shinning planet known as Earth.’

Then I heard of the changes that were going to be made to the show. First of all the Sci-Fi Channel was making it. In the years that they have been in the business of making Sci-Fi originals, Dune has been one of the only projects that was worth watching. I was also concerned that the Cylons were going to look like humans; there were no laser/blaster weapons, Starbuck was going to be a hot young female starlet (as opposed to the male woman chasing swashbuckler from the original) and, what really synched it for me, the entire ‘Chariots of the Gods’ story line was going to be M.I.A. As a child of the seventies, this was very distressing for my nostalgic fanboy heart and I decided that I’d wait to see the mini-series until after it came out on DVD – that way I could avoid all of the commercials and get it all in one dose. Why torture myself with several nights of sitting in front of the TV when it could be a ‘one your done’ sort of experience? My expectations for the ‘reimagining’ (a term has made me cringe ever since the remake of Planet of the Apes) were not high.

I rented the DVD yesterday. What can I say? I was wrong. It was wonderful and certainly a tremendous launch for a new space epic. They have taken a smart turn for the best with this project. The characters are richly written and portrayed. They are treated with respect and dignity. You care about them. There is not a one-dimensional player in the lot and that is a testament to the writing of the script and the telling of the tale. The acting is exemplary and the story is well served. The effects are remarkable and, given the world that they exist in, ‘real.’ The battle scenes are visceral; just as they should be. In fact, the whole project has a hard science quality to it. This is important since the whole shooting match hinges on believability. The viewer must believe that the Cylons are effectively committing genocide against their creators – the human race. The viewer must also believe that the only hope for survival of our species lays in the hands of Commander Adama, the President of the 12 Colonies and the crew of last surviving Battlestar.

This viewer now believes. All apologies to cast and crew. Please just keep doing what you’re doing. I detest network television but I will be watching this series. The story is worth it.

To all my fellow fanboys who have had issues with the new series – try the broccoli; you’ll love it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

So This is Blogger

Ok. I’ve been perusing other peoples Blogs and I’ve been impressed by both the writing (of course) and the amount of information on their pages. I like the polls, links, random thoughts and counters I see on other peoples Blogs. I like them so much that I realize that I’ve got to figure out how to replicate some of them here.

Chances are I’m missing something. I’ve no doubt that it’s something goofy that I’m messing up or not including – but I’ve got to tell ya, gentle reader (if you exist), I ain’t that impressed with the ole Blog thus far. Oh I can put up as much content as I like, that’s not the issue; it’s the wrapping that it all comes it that I desperately need to improve on. As previously stated I’ve seen other people’s Blogs and have liked what I’ve seen. I want to feel the same about my own – right now I don’t.

Until I find the magical FAQ file that explains how to unlock all of the goodies I’m doomed to keep posting on this blah Blog. Perhaps the Blogger fairies will come to my laptop during the night and change the appearance of everything. One never knows. Until that happens I’ll have to draw contentment from editing and finishing my NaNoWriMo novel (yeah it’s over 50K) and polishing up a couple of short stories for potential publication.

Perhaps gentle reader (if you are there) someday I’ll figure out how to make this a better place. A place where we (in the plural - if you're there) and I (singular) will be happy.

We’ll see.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Library Dues

“Hey fella, have you paid your dues? Huh? Have you paid ‘em?”

Yeah. I paid ‘em. $3.60 at the Atlantic County Library. The Librarians had put a price on my head. They turned up the heat. They put the squeeze on the ole Evil Chicken.

At first it was benign, ya know? Phone calls in the middle of the night. Voices asking for somebody named Dewey Decimal.

“He’s not here!” I would cry into the receiver.

“Oh yes. He is.” Was the cool response. A scant moment later there was foreboding laughter and then a dial tone.

I would drive past the library and I could feel their eyes upon me. Somehow they found a way to track my movements. I’m certain of it. I would go places and I was shadowed. The librarians were pulling the strings. I was their plaything.

One day last week a woman approached me while I was on my way to a field visit.

“George,” at the time I didn’t know how she knew who I was. I now know that detailed dossiers are kept on those who stumble and lose their way back to the library doors. “I believe that you have something of ours.”

“I’m sorry?” I asked.

“Is it safe?” She said.

“Is what safe?” I asked. I was bewildered at first and then grabbed me by the lapel and pulled me close to her.

“Is it safe?” She threw me to the ground.

What happened then? Well, I’ll tell you what happened. I did what any red blooded American would have done in the same situation. I got to my feet and I ran. I ran until my side split with pain.

“Go on and run! You know where to find us!” I heard her shout as I fled.

Well, my days of running are over. I paid my dues. I’ll be the first to tell you, I made mistakes. The book should have been returned sooner. I’ll tell you something else - this scenario has changed me. I still shutter when I approach the library. I still check over my shoulder to see if I’m being tailed. I know that if I slip up and forget about the next book, I know that they will be there. Ready to enforce the late fees to the fullest extent of their arcane and unwritten laws.

I now know what the little glint in the librarian’s eye really means; “Go on and run little piggy. Do ya feel lucky, punk? Well, do ya?”

I’ve spun this tale before, gentle reader. I post it now as a warning – they are watching.