Archive for April, 2010

Uncertainty?

Posted in Novel writing, screenwriting, Short Story Writing, story ideas, Story Subjects, Writing with tags on April 28, 2010 by davidburtonwriting

Uncertainty is Life.  I could stop there, but I don’t want to make it too easy on you. We live with uncertainty every day, hour, minute, second. Will that big ass truck coming up fast behind me see the stop light I’m stopped at? Will I get that job? Or more likely these days, will I lose the job I have? (Sigh, Yes) Is that scruffy guy behind you a stone-cold psycho killer cum bank robber, or a sweet, down on his luck homeless guy waiting to cash in the coins he’s collected so he can get a good meal and should you help him out? Will that  hidden aneurism in your brain pop NOW….or Now….or…. maybe…NOW! It  happens.

Religion is all about uncertainty, and passing the collection plate. What happens when you’re dead? Heaven, Hell, nothing, reincarnation, your soul(?) shot into space,  or maybe put in some sort of purgatorial stasis until you can be recycled? Life may be uncertain, but if you believe, HALLELUJAH! hard enough, your afterlife is locked in with all the young virgins or male models you can…well, you get the idea.  But only if you believe in the right God(s) in the right way. Then you’re in. If you don’t, then you’re out, and you’re in BIG trouble when it all comes tumbling down. That’s for certain.

Making the uncertain, certain is a lucrative business. You don’t even have to be right all the time, just ask any TV weather person. If it wasn’t a well-paying gig there wouldn’t be so many stock analysts, financial consultants, horse racing touts, psychics, real estate analysts (your house value is only going to go up, Baby), weather forecasters, and con artists. You can mix and match in that list, at the very least add con artist to any of them. (Apologies to the weather people. You have a hard gig and reap your share of scorn, and get paid well for it.  I am ashamed) “Uncertain of the return on your hard-earned retirement money? I will make certain you will receive an unbelievable return on your investment if you just give all your money to me.” I think that’s how it works. I’ll have to check with  Bernie M when he gets out of jail.  

The only thing for certain, is uncertainty. And if anybody tells you otherwise, especially if money’s involved, make that certain decision to walk away. Death being the exception. But if you figure out how to walk away from that, let me know. For sure!

IDEAS

What if, you were certain you knew what was going to happen in a particular area and unlike those listed above you were right, always. What would you do with that knowledge? Keep it to yourself, make tons of money, then chuckle and wallow in excess while thumbing your nose at that piker Bill Gates? Would you make a little something for yourself then use your certain knowledge to help others? Would use it gain power over others, like that father-in-law who kept telling your spouse that that bum/bumette would never amount to anything? Or over a business or country? And what difference would it make whether you could or couldn’t  change the future you knew was coming?

What if you were a very decisive person always certain of your decisions, sometimes right, sometimes wrong, but you made your choices and stuck to them. But what if you made a decision that inadvertently harmed someone and they, or a hired witch/warlock, put a curse on you and your decisiveness slowly went away. Over days or weeks your certainty withered until which pair of black socks to wear froze you with uncertainty. How would this affect your work, family, life? What if you had a spouse or kid who was as indecisive and wishy-washy as you weren’t. Would they rise to the occasion, push away their uncertainty and go after who or whatever cursed you?

What if you actually understood Heisenburg’s (The physicist not the one on Breaking Bad, one of the BEST TV shows) Uncertainty Principle? What if you, and only you, could accurately determine the position and momentum of a particle at the same time? Would you be able to somehow translate this ability into an interstellar drive that would push us into the Star Trek phase of human development? I haven’t a clue. Do you?

What if you were uncertain if your wife  was cheating so you went to Mystic Sarah to have her look into her crystal ball and find out the truth, which was Yes, she is cheating. But, even worse she’s cheating with Sorcerer Sam, Sarah’s competitor, enemy, ex-husband who has a tendency to work the Dark Side. And even worse, Sarah still has a bit of a thing for Sam. Certainly, hilarity or mayhem or both will ensue.

No uncertainty here. That’s it for this week. Fer sure, man!

On the Beach

Posted in Novel writing, screenwriting, Short Story Writing, story ideas, Story Subjects, Writing with tags on April 21, 2010 by davidburtonwriting

Everyone likes the beach, with its connotation of warm summer days, romantic moonlight strolls, balmy breezes, tans, and bikini, or dare we hope, thong clad, babes. If you’re a gay male, you’ll have to supply your own appropriate vision. After all, except for sand in your shorts ( or wherever), sunburn, crowds, broken glass, tsunamis, riptides, sharks,  and the total embarrassment of being seen in a bikini, thong or whatever, what’s not to like?

Terrified of the water? No problem. Just because you’re at the beach doesn’t mean you have to actually go in the water. I hate to acknowledge the fact and burst your beach bliss daydream, but not all beaches border warm water.  I know, I was devastated, too.  Every once in a while I wade in the water at my local S. Cal beach to check if maybe a new underwater lava vent had popped up (we’ve been having a lot of earthquakes lately, it could happen) close enough to shore to heat the water another 10 degrees or so. It hasn’t happened yet ( but I’m patient) and therefore I do not go in the water. 75 degrees is my minimum!

Pristine, sparkly white, deserted, reef protected, lazy wave lapped, benign breeze kissed,  palm fringed beaches  are the plus ultra of beaches, in my humble and totally correct opinion. There are plenty of other not so ultra kinds, though. That’s what makes the above beach so sought after. Black sand (sort of cool, actually), filthy sand, just plain filthy, rocky, muddy, shelly, gravely,  hidden by jungle, at the bottom of a cliff (that’s where the secret treasure, magic, world domination laboratory caves are located), washed by freezing ass cold water, big lake beaches, small lake beaches (Those are the ones where the mutant piranhas, alligators, worms, and generally nasty creatures show up), and even river and stream beaches.  But, you have to take your beach where you can get it.

The water makes the beach. Besides the fact that without water it wouldn’t be a beach, it’d be a pile of sand, rocks, or mud, you’d be cussing at as you slogged through it to reach an amusement park or some other artificial amusement. It’s that shhuuuuuu – hiissss relentless rhythm (heartbeat) of the sea that really draws us attuned by millions of years of evolution as we are to our species’ birthplace, no matter those other people say it was 6189 years ago (give or take) on one of Big G’s good (this being a debatable point Clean Earth-wise)  days. 

The beach as homecoming. I can dig it. I once spent a couple weeks on a mostly deserted Mexican beach camped in a makeshift tent against some rocks. I was home for those weeks and leaving was like moving to a new town where you knew nobody and nothing and hadn’t a clue how it would turn out, leaving the familiar. If the sharks visible in the breaking waves had been friendly, and I hadn’t run out of food, I’d have stayed longer. Beach. Water. Home.

Ideas

What if you were living Hermit fashion at a mostly deserted beach, camped up at the edge among the jungle, trees, rocks. You’re enjoying the starry night when three men drag a fourth to low tide water’s edge, dig a hole, put him in it, and walk away. You’re at the beach for a reason, don’t want to get involved. That woman/man you want to forget but know you never will, hurt you so bad you don’t care  what people do to each other. It’s none of your concern….

Until they scream for help. It’s easy to do nothing when it’s just a dark bump in sand. Not so easy when they cry for help. What do you do? Ignore the cries? It’s a bird, it will soon stop. But will the guilt built up and in a few days you have to go after the men responsible?   Try to save them? Maybe you do, but you’re too late. Amazingly,  in that short time you connected with someone. Something  you thought would never happen again. Now it’s anger that forces you to go after the murderers.    Save the woman? Take her to your camp, but you will not connect just to be broken again. A day, maybe two and she has to go.  But she breaks through,  and tells her story and now you have to find the bad guys. Unless,  the bad guys come back and find you and it’s time to run for your life and love. How it turns out is up to you, together.

What if you and your crew were stranded on an alien beach on an alien planet? What wonders, dangers,  and adventures might you experience?

What if you were shipwrecked on a lonely beach and when you woke up FRIDAY was watching you. He’s maybe not quite human, a little shabby, a bit geeky, casual, helpful. He warns you to not try to leave the beach into the jungle/trees. You do try, of course, and that’s when you find out Friday is the Guardian and will kill you to stop you from entering the jungle that he readily admits will lead you to safety. How do you save yourself,  especially as Friday is so darn friendly?

What if you took a backpack and walked some of the worlds longest beaches?  Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh is supposedly the longest “natural” and beach at about a 120 K, or 150 miles, depending on who you ask. Don’t ask the people around Praiado Cassino in Brazil. Their beach is 156 miles with, they say, a longer one next to it. But there are others. 90-100 miles of beach should make for a good walk. I’d choose that beach with the lions they showed in the Spencer Tracy film “The Old Man and The Sea.” If you know where that is, let me know.

Summer’s coming. Grab your towel, sunblock, shark/monster repellant and hit the beach, running.

Space is the Place 1

Posted in Novel writing, screenwriting, Short Story Writing, story ideas, Story Subjects, Writing with tags , , , , , , , on April 15, 2010 by davidburtonwriting

Space,  the final frontier and all that jazz.  I’m talking outer space here, though the inner space, and workings,  of the human brain are as, or more, complex than getting out into outer space. And likely to get more complex (read fucked up) once we get out there and experience the unique problems and minor  challenges, like vast distances, no air, and new species, waiting for us.

But first, assuming the political enlightenment to work together for mankind, (I know, Science Fiction at its most unbelievable) we have to get up there.  I like the Space Elevator idea. A tether from the equator to a Station in geosynchronous orbit balanced by a counterweight at the far end. You step in at the Earth end, push the Lobby  button and zip, there you are in space. Get your transfer punched and board the shuttle bus to the Moon. The tether would have to be pretty strong, probably made of Jupitureon Cloud Spider silk mixed in with Kevlar and  Bucky Balls all wrapped up with duct tape.  I’ve mentioned this before, but Diet Smith had it all figured out back in the 50s with his transports propelled by magnetic fields. Maybe we’ll have robot Scotties. You step on a pad, say the magic words, “Beam me up, Scotty,” and he will.

Magic might work.  Might be a well-paying gig to be a Transport Sorcerer. They might cast a protective spell on you, using eye of Martian Newt,  hair of Uranian dog, and crushed petals from the sunny side of a Venusian equatorial *^#@$^& flower.  A few indecipherable words and zip, you’re in space. Hopefully the Sorcerer didn’t drink too much of his own brew the night before. You want to materialize on a space station or ship, not, you know, anywhere else.

Once you’re in Space it’s a long way to ANYWHERE.  There are plenty of ways to get around. The old reliable FTL, Wormholes, Jumping across folded space, Jumping through Dimensional Space, Hyperspace, Powered by rare Crystals found only on a single uncharted planet owned by a greedy, power-mad Industrialist, or Colony Sleeper ships, among others. I have an idea about those later. Don’t forget those magnetic fields.

Magic might be your ticket to a bright future. Take a certified Online class and in only a few short months you could make good money as a Sorcerer Power Engineer, if you were strong enough to command the power of the universe to scoot your ship through space.  Of course that wouldn’t do any good without a Sorcerer (or Witch) Navigator to scry for your position and final (?) destination. See the class schedule on our website.

Speaking of final destinations, there are lots of ways to die in space. But with all that vastness, there’s plenty of room for weirdness. Sure, plenty of death will be plain old Death, unfortunately, not always pleasant. We’ll have to live with it.  Surely, other types of Death, and Life, will be found, both horrifying and enlightening, action packed or boring, tragic or happy.

IDEAS

What if instead of packing a zillion people into a colony sleeper ship en route to Planet Delta 6 and hoping they all slept in their pods through the ____ year journey and that the computers actually woke them up like they planned, they had vampires as caretakers.  They’d be awake all the time to take care of the minor maintenance  problems that would inevitably pop up. They could sample  cups of blood from each colonist to survive. Maybe Master Blood blenders would emerge, producing prize-winning vintages. Maybe a vampire or two would become jealous and murder one of the colonists who provided a unique blood type. Would the vampires waken a human detective to solve the crime with a hot vampire (male or female) assistant?

What if you woke up in a non-vampire attended Colony Ship and you couldn’t wake up any other sleeper? You’d definitely be a candidate for the Lonely Hearts Club.  OR, what if the only person you could wake up to help fix the looming disaster threatening not only the colonist’s  lives but the very survival of all mankind, was an unrepentant serial killer you had helped capture. Anybody know where Hannibal Lecter is?

What if in order to anchor the Space Elevator you had to dig so deep you inadvertently broke into a  passage to Hell, and didn’t know it? But the Demons did?  Would they inhabit the elevator? Use it to commandeer the Space Station? For what purpose? Would it take Magic or Science to take back the Station? Maybe the Station is damaged and can’t hold air so the humans make a deal with the demons, vampires or aliens to run the place for us.

What If you lived on a huge Space Station. Like any place there are the people who live in the upper neighborhoods and the ones who drop out for one reason or another and live in the lower rent regions. What if someone up there lost something valuable, station survival related, or incriminating, and somehow it ended up down where you live. And you found it. And then the one who lost it comes looking. And then others who would like/need to find it first came looking. What would you do? Who would you give it to? Or would you use it for your own nefarious/ virtuous ends? A rent free apartment with a view, save a loved one, justice, revenge?

No matter where you go, beyond Earth, beyond the Galaxy, past the Rim or the edge of the known/unknown Universe, there’ll always be heroes and villans and people to tell their stories. I’m going there now.

The Lonely Hearts Cafe

Posted in loneliness, Novel writing, screenwriting, Short Story Writing, story ideas, Story Subjects, Writing with tags , on April 6, 2010 by davidburtonwriting

There are two kinds of loneliness. The obvious physical one of living on a deserted island, or being lost in the mountains, or in a shack in the desert, or in a boat in the middle of the ocean.  Nobody around, that’s not so bad, it’s the idea that nobody is going to be around that gets you. You are on your own and that’s it, baby.

Loneliness in the middle of a big city, or a small town,  is the kind that drives people to eye their razor blades, count their pills, or climb to a rooftop. There’s nothing worse than hearing the laughter from a party you weren’t invited to. 

Loneliness and alone are not the same thing. I mentioned Abby Sunderland in my last post. She’s the 16-year-old sailing singlehanded around the world. In a recent post of her blog,  http://soloround.blogspot.com , after rounding Cape Horn, she wrote about  seeing land for the first time in two months, “It made me miss being on land a little bit… but not that much. I’m still very happy out here!” About as alone as you can get, but definitely not lonely.

At the other extreme, though it’s impossible to know for sure, was Donald Crowhurst. He participated in a singlehanded round the world sailing race in 1969. Instead of sailing round, he reported false positions and waited in the S Atlantic until the other contestants came round. The consensus seems to be he realized his deception would be found out and  guilt and insanity cause him to  step overboard and vanish. How lonely must he have been during those last days?

Obviously, loneliness is a state of mind. Two people in the same situation may have totally different feelings about it. One may be thinking, “Thank God none of those bazillion, yapping, nosey  busybodies are anywhere around me. The other may be thinking, ” God, I wish somebody would talk to me even if it’s that old curmudgeon on the other side of the valley who wants nothing to do with people.”

Isolation can happen anywhere. Just ask any shy person. There’s nothing worse than being a shy introvert in a room full of extroverts. Especially when the extroverts haven’t a clue  what the introvert is feeling. Not that all introverts are shy.  Some simply prefer their own company to others. The conversation is always more interesting.

Loneliness should not be confused with aloneness. Aloneness is a choice. Loneliness is not. It might be caused by the sufferers own shyness or fear. Or by circumstances beyond their control;  shipwrecked, lost, not knowing the language, all your friends are dying faster than you can make new ones, criminal intent to isolate you and pretend to be your friend so as to con you out of your money or murder you with nobody noticing, or both.

All the reasons the make people lonely can be mitigated by a caring, concerned, observant extrovert willing and able to help a shy person out. Unless the person is shipwrecked, then your name has to be Friday.

IDEAS

What if you were new to a city where you didn’t speak the language, and didn’t know anybody, and you were lonely and afraid and needed a friend. And you found the one you needed; kind, smart, attractive, and needing you as much as you needed him/her. And you nurtured and loved each other so much you had to start a restaurant called the Lonely Hearts Cafe to help those that, like you, needed a friend. And the happiness and tragedy that came from that cafe was legendary. What characters might you meet, what stories might they tell, in the back room after closing, maybe to a new employee who needed just such a place?

What if  you were new to a city where you didn’t speak the language, and didn’t know anybody, and you were lonely and afraid and needed a friend? And you found the one you needed; kind, smart, attractive, and needing you as much as you needed him/her–and someone took that person you loved–away? What would you do with your grief and anger? How would you use the loneliness that cloaked you like a gray fog. Maybe to remove yourself  from the restraints of society, to do as you will, with no thoughts to consequences. Maybe you can think only of escape, leaving the city, wandering the world, trailing the contagion of your despair like a typhoid Mary of loneliness, until you find yourself deep in a jungle or high in bleak mountains where you find the  solitude you’ve been unconsciously seeking. That place where you can let go of breath and be free of  the exquisite loneliness you’ve come to embrace as the manner of your life.  And What If as you exhaled that last painful breath, and that gray cloak rose into the heights, it was that cloak that guided the one you thought lost, one who at that moment, knowing of the incredible pain you carried, was climbing up to you with the sole intent of reaching into you and removing the grief that had hardened your heart for so long.  Would they reach you in time to replace that last breath, or would the two of you be together forever high up on that mountain or in that deep jungle hideaway.

Or What If that person above turned their grief and anger to revenge.  Maybe the ones who took away your happiness were cops, corrupt or not. Maybe you’d turn your loneliness not to the actual perpetrators, but to the ones they love. One by one you take a family member, a friend, a pet, always leaving a clear message — As long as you live, your loved ones are not safe.  How would those people, whether cops or criminals, react? Run, fight, hide? Which of them would take their own life to save their families, which would save themselves. How far would they go to stop an implacable heartbroken killer. And you, would the possibility of new love, maybe from a potential victim, be enough to stop your mission of revenge?

What if  you lost your spouse.  What if you had money, but had lost your way.  You were drifting, drinking, screwing around, not giving a damn, lonely. Maybe you felt that your pet was your only friend. Then it dies. Through your tears, you see a TV program about African, South American, Asian wildlife conservation and the next thing  you know you’re there,  helping out.  Something happens, and you’re alone in the bush. That’s okay with you, the animals are your friends, until the poachers arrive. You fight them alone, they come after you. That’s when the loneliness kicks in. You’re wounded, scared,  searching for help. Then, through your own efforts, no Deux ex Machina allowed, you meet the man or woman you needed to meet, not only for your present situation, but for your life.  Is that caring, observant person you?

What if you were the only immortal? How familiar with loneliness would you be, watching the ones you love grow old and die. How many marriages and births would you be responsible for? How many funerals of loved ones could you stand to attend? Especially if your one true love was long dead and your long life was dedicated to reuniting with him/her, through either scientific or magical means.

What if you were an immortal, aware dog? What of history would you have seen and experienced that a human could not possibly imagine. How many masters would you have grieved for? How much time spent alone, abandoned, with no pack to belong to? Would you be able to communicate with other dogs? What depths of loneliness would you experience, aware, yet cut off from your own kind and unable to communicate with humans. Would you recognize an immortal human if you were lucky enough to meet one?

Question— Do you think an ordinary dog, born immortal, would over hundreds of years, become self-aware?

 Help an introvert, immortal or not, today.

 

 

 

 

 

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