Saturday, April 12, 2014

A To Z Day Eleven: Charlie Brown and the Kite Eating Tree

Most everyone knows who Charlie Brown is. The comic strip "Peanuts" and it's characters are known, I think, around the world. As with any great art, it works on two levels- a tale about a kid trying to fly a kite, and a kind of Sisyphean labor. Charlie Brown bargains with the tree, begs it, defies it, dares it, but still it sits there, implacable, endlessly hungry, ruining his day over and over again, heartless and cruel. I don't know what the late Mr. Schulz intended the tree to "represent", but I think everyone can appreciate a foe that just won't let you have a good time, no matter how hard you try to avoid it.

Friday, April 11, 2014

A To Z Day Ten: Jokes

A termite walks into a bar and asks, "is the bar tender here?"
What did one hat say to the other?

"You stay here, I'll go on a head."
Why couldn't Dracula's wife get to sleep?

Because of his coffin.
What do you do when you see a spaceman?

Park your car, man.
What did the big bucket say to the little bucket?

You look a little pail!
Why is there no gambling in Africa?

All the cheetahs.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A To Z Day Nine: You And I

"You and I", from the tragically forgotten musical "Chess", here beautifully sung by Elaine Paige and Michael Ball. It contains what might be the saddest lyric I have ever heard- "But we go on pretending/Stories like ours/Have happy endings."

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

A To Z Day Seven: A Gander At Gender

Blatantly stealing from my sister from another mother Giulie, today we talk about gender, and specifically gender in regards to my stories in the indisputably marvelous "2014" books, available here and at reputable book stores everywhere. And even some of the disreputable ones.

Gender is more complicated than it appeared to me previously, a phenomenon which is rapidly becoming a theme of my 42nd year on Earth. It's not simply your chromosomal layout or the appearance of your block and tackle, it's a social construct, who you feel you are as well as how you decide to present yourself to others. (This makes me think of the birth scene from Monty Python's "The Meaning of Life", where the mother asks if she has had a boy or a girl, and Graham Chapman responds, "it's a bit early to start imposing roles on it!")

In my 2014 story cycle, Mark Hamilton is a man caught in a vise- he is making tremendous sums of money at his job, but he is starting to hate the things his job is doing to him. His work world, professional baseball, is male dominated, while his home life is dominated by his wife Angela and his distant daughter Madison. He has trouble reconciling who he feels he has to pretend to be to keep his job and his paycheck, with who he really is, which seems to me to be the central thrust of the concept of gender.

To quote the late great Mr. Vonnegut, we are who we pretend to be. So we must be careful who we pretend to be.

Monday, April 07, 2014

A to Z Day Six: Flash Fiction

Flash Fiction, as you probably know by now, is simply short fiction, but focused and direct, even shorter than short, typically less than 2000 words. Basically anything longer than Hemingway's famous "for sale, baby shoes, never worn" is probably flash fiction, up until maybe 1500 words, at which point it becomes a regular 'ol short story, which has, I was once told, an upper limit of James Joyce's "The Dead". That seems as good a place as any.

Flash fiction is just like regular fiction- it needs to have a unity of effect, as Mr. Poe taught us, and have a beginning, a middle, and an end. It's just shorter.

This Blog has practiced Flash Fiction in this space from time to time, with varying degrees of success. This Blog is most proud of, at present, the fact that It has not murdered Its teenage son, as well as the works of flash fiction it has propagated in the marvelous 2014 series, now available in your favorite electronic or dead tree format.