Well, now that that's out of the way...
It's late December, in case you've been living away from a calendar for the past twenty-five days. And in the style of all entertainment options, I feel that this week's blog should follow a time-honored tradition.
In December--and at other times when they've run out of ideas--television programs especially will provide their viewers with what is termed "a special celebration" of the program, to reward them for being loyal viewers. Sometimes, this is also called "a retrospective."
It's a clip show.
Eschewing "reruns," (remember, kids?) which used to be utterly reviled as cheap programming and cheating by the professionals (and are now sold on DVD and Blu-Ray so that you can program them yourself whenever you feel like it) the clip show provides "highlights" from past episodes, which are meant to recall the best of the best. It also gives the writers, actors and directors a week off. Which, in December, is something pretty much everybody should get. Just because we're about to face another winter, and anything that gives you a break before that is worthwhile.
Don't get me started on "the holiday season."
So here's the first-ever DEAD GUY clip show, which I've borrowed only from my own posts, because I'm in such a lazy mood (closing in on the end of Book #4 in the Copperman series and starting something really out of my comfort zone) that I didn't even ask any of the other DEAD GUYs for their permission. So, enjoy or... come back next week. I promise it'll be all new stuff then. After all, then it'll be 2012 and everything will be way different.
Assume that each of the following entries is in quotes. Here are my personal highlights from 2011:
Reading "said" all the time, even when it's being done by a master like Robert B. Parker, who was addicted to the word, is like being hit lightly over the head with a hammer every few seconds. It's like listening to a story being told by Sgt. Joe Friday. Just the facts, ma'am. Just the facts. If I want to hear just the facts, I can tune in to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
To me, the character IS the book, no two ways around it. I write mystery novels, and I put quite a bit of work into figuring out who did what to whom and why. I look for places to include plot twists and red herrings. I can misdirect with the best of them. The top 46 of them, anyway. And yeah, you might find a joke or two going on in my pages. You'd better.
But without a character I care about, I won't even type the first word.
"Do you realize how hard it would be to move a whole house?" I asked my six-year-old.
Without so much as a giveaway grin, she replied, "Daddy. You call a professional."
I should have considered this years ago. If the one thing that holds a writer back is the financial end of the business--and it is--then there's one way to eliminate the unpredictability of publishing and guarantee artistic freedom and a steady income.
That's right--I'm selling the naming rights to my next book.
Mr. President, I believe in the rejuvenative, therapeutic power of comedy. I think a good laugh does more for you than a ton of briefing memos (but keep reading those--I'm not suggesting you stop!) and "serious" novels. I think an amused mind is one that is more creative, more active, more useful than one burdened with problems both real--and you've got all of ours on top of yours to worry about--and fictional.
If people read my books and come away thinking deep thoughts about the nature of life and how it's all hopeless, complex, depressing and above all, serious, I have badly screwed up the mission with to which I have assigned myself.
Contrary to popular belief, most of us who are without religion are not necessarily trying to strip you of yours. Personally, I think you should believe what you believe, and I'll continue to believe what I believe. As long as you don't try to convince me otherwise, I'll do the same in return.
See, laughter is not an intellectual process. It's emotional and elemental. Nothing in your brain says, "Why, that's quite amusing! I believe I'll make a sound like this--ha, ha, ha!" Laughter is much more reflexive; it's like sneezing. And it is the only emotional response that actually makes you feel better. (Yes, there is a hormone released when one is feeling love, but that's not what I'm talking about.) Laughter really IS the best medicine, except when you need an antibiotic.
Sung to the tune of:
I Am the Walrus
Kindle, e-book, Barnes & Noble, Sony Reader, iBook in an iPad/
Some say that all books' gooses are cooked; I disagree/
Books can be on paper/
Or they can be on a Nook/
Authors write for readers, not for certain formats; read me any way you like and I will shake your hand.
You are the reader/ (Whoo!)
You are the leaders/ (Whoo!)
I'm just the writer!
Goo goog a joob!
Oscars: How soon before the Academy announces a comedian will host next year? (Ed. note: Just so I have it on the record, this was posted last Feb. 28.)
Personally, I resent FTD, Hallmark, 800-FLOWERS and the entire chocolate industry telling me when I should feel romantic. And since, in modern America, Romance=Sex (go ahead, prove me wrong), frankly I think it's my own business. Well, and my wife's.
Dunstan McNichol, an extraordinary investigative reporter covering the New Jersey Statehouse for something like the last 30 years, died last week very suddenly at the age of 54. Those who care about the state of journalism in the Garden State are understandably mourning the loss as one that cripples the free press' first responsibility--keeping government accountable to the people it represents--unexpectedly and severely.
Those of us who knew Dusty are more upset at losing his insights, his wit, his talent and his compassion.
In one book, I had a large number of people crowd into a room that had been described, in three books running, as extremely small. And I was called on it by a reader who believed that the square footage would not hold that many human bodies. I referred the reader to the stateroom scene in A Night At The Opera.
Those are the clips I've chosen from the year 2011. If you had favorites I might have overlooked, feel free. Otherwise, we'll be back next week with an ALL NEW show!