Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christmas. Show all posts

27 December, 2017

Every day is a title fight, Part 2: down in round two

Endurance is patience concentrated. ~ Thomas Carlyle

A man on a thousand mile walk has to forget his goal and say to himself every morning, 'Today I'm going to cover twenty-five miles and then rest up and sleep. ~ Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
 


Mick Parsons, Vicki Aubry Welch, Louisville, Kentucky, winter flu
Seven days before Christmas I was knocked on my ass by some version or another of the annual winter crud. And I'm sure I've written about it before... and I'm I sure I will write about it again.... but I don't do sick well. I'm a lousy patient. All I want to do is wallow and wait for the sickness to pass and that's pretty much what I end up doing.

What happens then, though, is the part of me that can't bare to sit around -- call it my shark brain -- realizes that all I'm doing is sitting around and proceeds to annoy the shit out of me with all the stuff I could be doing, all the stuff I should be doing, and all the stuff I probably would want to do if I wasn't stuck with a low grade fever, uncontrollable chills, and a nasal cavity leaking like a Louisville water main break.

Someone reminded me today that I almost always get sick this time of year. Back when I was teaching, and I managed to get sick between semesters, I considered it good luck -- even though it usually meant I was sick over the holidays. At least I wasn't sick while class was session.  Now here I am, it's three days before Christmas, and I'm once again trying to convince my body that I am not on an academic schedule anymore.

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that being on an academic schedule or not has nothing to do with whether or not I get sick. It's the seasonal change, or the fact that I still need to get a flu shot. It's the fact that everyone and their brother seems to be falling ill to some variation of the same crud and that this time last year, it was some other variety of some other super crud that was going around that no medical means could cure or alleviate.

That's not the way it really works, though. The human body has a sense memory, like animals have
instinct. We use it everyday, for things as simple as making a cup of coffee to driving a car.  Our bodies learn things and remember them for us.

And my body learned a long time ago that it was ok to get sick at Christmas. Whatever else is going
Mick Parsons, winter flu, Ohio River, Shark
on, maintain until mid-December. After that, it's perfectly fine to fall into a snot-dripping, fever chilled mess in the den binge watching old episodes of Monk on Amazon Prime.

Luckily, because I'm used to being sick the week before Christmas, I attacked it with an aggressive treatment of vitamins, cold and flu medicine, and a lot of frustrating laying about.  You'd think that level of commitment would help my body relearn NOT TO GET SICK near a major holiday.

But... no.

No, I don't have gout. But I do understand the artist's POV.
Because in addition to an annoying susceptibility to various ol'factory and respiratory, I am also perennially at war with my own feet.

Which is why, when my right heel decided to balloon up for no reason at all and make it impossible for me to walk without brain splitting pain, I didn't panic. It's usually my left foot that gives me that kind of problem. I mean, I've become accustomed to nearly perpetual low level pain when I walk, which is made tolerable by inserts and accepting that it's not worth the savings for me to buy cheaply made shoes.

I didn't panic. But I did recall that around this time last year, when I was working in catering, my right foot decided to take me out for about a week during the busy season.

Sense memory can be a bitch.

And, Dear Readers, let me tell you... it can also hurt.


Please check out my work available for purchase in the store (see the tab) or for sale on Amazon. 
 
 You can also throw a little in the tip jar:

21 December, 2016

The Saturday night special: 3 movies writers should watch

Writing can be a lonely business. You spend a lot of time by yourself. You struggle with digital age distractions. You count words, you count line lines. You spend time lost in thought, hunched over a keyboard or with pen in hand over the bottomless pit of a blank piece of paper.

But at some point, you have to pull yourself away and do something else. It's good to have other interests. My brother, who earns his nut in the as one of the architects of the digital world, calls these kinds of activities "analog." He says it's important to unplug and do something else. It helps him relax, and helps keep him fresh for his work.

The same is true for writers. Although you may always be in some stage of the writing process -- even when you're not sitting at your desk working in words* -- it's important to pull away. Take a walk. Read a book. Go have a drink.

I like to watch movies. Sometimes I watch movies for pure entertainment value; movies I have some sentimental attachment to, or movies that fall under the category my wife calls "boy-man movies."** I also like watching movies that help me think about writing in different ways. I'm going to list three here and explain why

Pulp Fiction (1994)
 
Either you love Tarantino movies or you hate them; this one was his second movie after he made a critical and cult sensation splash with Reservoir Dogs (1992).   One of the biggest mistakes that inexperienced writers make is in how they approach time. A good story doesn't have to operate on strictly realistic chronological line. Sometimes a story benefits from not unfolding how an objective narrator might recount, but in a way that the writer can play with ideas and concepts. For all of the critics that railed against this movie's themes (drug abuse, violence, rape, murder), there is a moral core at its center. Jewels gets to live because he changed paths at a pivotal moment. Vincent pays the price for not changing his life in that same moment. Butch and Marcellus both pay for their violence in varying degrees.

This isn't to say that there's a great "a-ha" moment. There isn't. After all, it's pulp***, not a Minnie Driver movie.


Back to the Future Trilogy (1985, 1989, 1990)

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking why do I include all three when II and III were clearly not as good as the first one?  I used to think that, too. The problem with that way of thinking about any movie franchise is that it rests on an instant gratification function. Sequels rarely measure up on that front. But the entire trilogy, from beginning to end, maintains a tight fictional structure. The world Robert Zemeckis creates is fully encapsulated. Of course it's improbable. It's improbable that Marty's mother, as a younger high school girl, would develop a crush on him. It's improbable that Biff could haunt the McFly family for generations. It's all improbable. Then again, time travel is improbable. 

At some point in any piece of fiction, you have to give yourself over to the story. In theater they call this suspension of disbelief. We are pretty good at accepting that. But as a writer, this trilogy represents as tight a structure as you'll find in any piece of writing. It leaves no holes and manages to work over three movies made over 5 years. 
Northfork (2003)

This one is easy to get fooled by. The story itself is simple -- in 1955, a small Montana town is being bought out in order to be make room for a new damn. The modern world is overtaking the old. But there's a whole other story here... a story about a boy who might be an angel, odd divine messengers who are searching for him and who would have found him sooner if not for Nick Nolte's bedraggled and world-worn Father Harlan ability to hide in a small church that the last thing to fall in front of the wave of cold modernity.

This film is probably best example of magical realism that I've seen in English, without subtitles. The worlds merge so perfectly together and create such a masterpiece of problems and themes that every time I watch it, I find something new. Magical realism is difficult to pull off well. It's worth the watch.

If there's a writer on your holiday list, you could do worse than buy them one of these.
_________________________________________________________________________
* I have written before under other blog headings that writers are almost always writing, even when they are not engaged in the physical act of working with words. While I believe that's true, I also think it's important to stand up and move around. I always think about reading in Henry Miller's work where the first thing he would do when he felt inspired was to take a walk.
** I have no excuse. I'm a man of a certain age, having grown up in an increasingly violent age. Sometimes I just like watching things blow up in a fictional realm. It's safer than the news, anyway.
*** Fiction dealing with lurid or sensational subjects, often printed on rough, low-quality paper manufactured from wood pulp.(dictionary.com)

If you like what you're reading here, I have work for sale on my amazon author page:
www.amazon.com/author/mickparsons