Story Prompt

They drained a canal in Paris and this is one of the things they found.

A boombox, in the water, ruined for now but could it be restored? Could someone with a pair of fifty pound bags of rice dry out the components, flush out the mud, and wipe away the neglect? Could this thing be saved?

It wouldn't be practical (that's a lot of rice to use on an electronic device. That much rice could feed a lot of hungry people. But so could break dancing.

Break dancers feed the soul. They take the performance aspect of the Humanities into the streets and they move around, they take the music that works for their routine and they create something new. A breakdance team with the ability to draw people in can perform on the street for a few hours and make some cash. People can't help but throw money at breakdancers nowadays because it's so rare to see artistry like that. Instead of dressing up like a superhero, a select few of the elite breakdancers can turn everything you know on its ear and make a sheet of cardboard look like a glass floor.

Was there a rivalry that put this boombox at the bottom of the canal? Which faction and which group went to war and accomplished this battle task? Above all else, the boombox goes in the water or we don't win, they said. War is over if boombox goes in the drink, and you have to want it to make it happen. That's cold. Throwing someone's boombox in a canal is like cutting off an arm by accident.

I can imagine a jealous lover throwing the boombox in the canal. Love me, or lose me forever. If you're going to choose the boombox over me, guess what? It's already on the bottom of the canal.

Was there regret for throwing this thing into the water? There's little chance for regret after a prank like this. Waste of a good boombox, man. Waste of a good boombox.

Of course, they're going to pop this thing open and it'll have an Electric Light Orchestra cassette in it. Goddamn, I'd have thrown that thing into the water. Maybe I did when I was in Paris years ago and forgot. I hope they don't find my fingerprints. This is exactly the sort of crime that can be pinned to me because I've never been saintly about such things.

How Could This Show Have Failed?

The only thing Americans want to see on television involves New York City, young people, and quirky relationships. You can take that to the bank. Except when shows like this tank and get cancelled, of course.

I don't care about super heroes and I don't care about people from New York. Is that the most awful thing ever? Absolutely.

The BBC Makes a Commitment to the Arts

This is admirable, but if you were to ask an American what has been the BBC's most successful export in terms of the arts, many might say Downton Abbey.

And, they would be wrong. Downton is a product of ITV, not the BBC.

Nevertheless, the appeal of the arts has never been greater. If you look at the quality of the television that has been produced in the United States over the last decade--True Detective, Breaking Bad, Louie, Mad Men, The Walking Dead, The Wire--the Brits have nothing to compare them with, save Sherlock and Downton (and how long will that last, given how much everyone hated Season Four?). Television programs produced for commercial gain really do much better as artistic achievements.

That's not a knock against what the BBC is trying to do--it's just a realization that if you have a great idea and if you want to do something of extremely high quality that will have a lasting cultural and artistic impact, your ass ought to be in front of an executive working for AMC, FX, HBO or Showtime--someone like that. They're going to have some deeper pockets than the BBC. It's just that simple.

No One Cared About Dexter

The cable series Dexter just ended and you would think people would have noticed. My impression is that no one gives a crap.

Breaking Bad is sucking up all of the TV oxygen right now. The next couple of days are going to be unbearable. The motif, the themes, the tie-ins, and all of that are overwhelming. There is nothing else happening in entertainment right now, literally.

Before Breaking Bad even started, Dexter was a hot show. It was dangerous, it made you think, and it took a startling look at ethics and ethical situations. It was groundbreaking.

Unfortunately, it also ran out of gas. If it had ended sooner, would that have mattered? And whose idea was it to end it right when Breaking Bad was happening the way that it is?

Someone did this show wrong, and Dexter will go down as a great also-ran in the history of television.

Tourists Have Always Been Hard on the Valuables

It would be easy to generate a wave of phony outrage about this incident, and I'm not going to do that.

No, the poor dummy should not have touched the statue. Never touch anything older than the United States of America. Yes, he's going to have to pay a restoration fee. The Italians have no money to maintain and restore their rapidly aging and deteriorating treasures.

Let's have a bit of perspective, however. This is not as bad as World War II, which destroyed countless treasures. This is not as bad as merely carting the thing off (the English, for example, have taken possession of almost everyone's treasures and have no intention of returning them). This is not as bad as letting an old lady "fix" the thing. This is not as bad as renting a hammer and a chisel in order to break off a few loose pieces (Stonehenge, to name an example). And it's not as bad as deliberately attacking the statue with the intent of destroying it (vandalism, throwing paint on things, hitting them with hammers, etc.)

So, as bad as this seems, it's not that bad. Give the guy a break.

What Were You Expecting From The Great Gatsby?

I have not had much of an interest in seeing The Great Gatsby, primarily because I know that any Baz Luhrmann film is going to be a sickening, turgid mess from the get go, but also because I can't really understand why you would take a work of literature and shovel it through the ass end of current popular culture.

What we have now, as far as pop music and cinematic stylings are concerned, is trash. We have elevated a rapper to the level of genius? Is JayZ the music vehicle on which to base such a film? Is the use of whatever works a better replacement for period accuracy (which is sometimes overrated, but still)?

If it succeeds, all well and good, but I still can't figure out who would really want to see this film.

Where Are You Going With This?

I'm not sure where she's going with this; the story seems to be about chocolate eggs and less about the marketing aspect of creating something that will deliver for the various companies that have a vested interest in profiting from the Easter bunny phenomenon.

There aren't many side stories as to the day-to-day operations of the Easter bunny. Things happen. People fall into production machinery. There are labor unions to deal with. There was one time that the Easter bunny had to deal with a trucking union strike and his solution was to hire scabs and have the striking truckers driven out of town by hired goons, also known as Pinkertons, and then charge the government a surcharge on several contracts in order to make up the difference. It was a pretty rough situation, and, when all was said and done, a couple of the guys from the union ended up wearing a wire so that the Feds could indict someone--anyone--on a racketeering charge that ended up being thrown out on appeal.

He's a rough bastard, and he doesn't mind telling you that.

HyperCard Remembered

HyperCard was a program for the Macintosh computers that I used in the 1990s. I was not a huge fan of the application, but I created my stacks and did what I could with it. My use of HyperCard was for storytelling, if I recall correctly.

Matthew Lasar has a more in-depth review of what HyperCard was and how it was used graphically. I never used it for graphic tasks, although I did do a fair amount of work with MacDraw back in the day.

So, if this were 1995 and if I was using my Macintosh Classic II or if this was 1998 and I was using my Mac Color (mine were a bit behind the times), then I would have HyperCard open and I would be making character notes and using the application to create stacks. One stack for the chapters, as an outline, and one stack for the characters. If I were using this system for the Easter Wolf story, I'd have all of that stuff prepared and set aside.

By the time 1999 rolled around, I left my Macs and went with PCs. It was not until 2009 that we acquired a new Mac Powerbook and returned, as it were, to the fold.

The Easter Wolf Writing Project

There are four writing projects that I am planning on completing this year. I would like to get them planned out and written well before the end of the year, but things do come up. However, I don't see any reason why they can't be finished up and ready to go for next Christmas.

I don't have any set order for completing them, although I am hoping to get The Easter Wolf up and running by Easter in order to give people an alternative history of the celebration of Easter from an American marketing perspective. Living in Germany has made me aware of the fact that not everyone celebrates the same holiday the same way. It's a much bigger deal here than it is in the United States. I have found a great vehicle for a new telling of the behind the scenes machinations of Easter that I thought was worthy of getting out there.

The oldest projects are the ones that center around Norman Rogers and his self-deluding trip through the popular culture. The two best stories I have are set in different times. I have a lot of source material for these projects.

The Chasseurs is at the full writing stage. There isn't much research left to do. I have enough source material to complete the project. All I need now is time. Because these portals exist as blogs, I have to keep adding material in order to maintain interest. Which is no problem--I have the chance to do this. But, really, these sites should be fully-realized websites, and not blogs. For now, Scribd is the preferred method of publication. I would expect that this will change in the future, although I would think that this would be because Scribd doesn't give me the flexibility to fully self-publish material as of yet.

Consider this the January update for these projects. More to follow.