One of the problems with looking for historical analogies is that history doesn’t repeat itself (it only rhymes, according to Samuel Clements).

And, one of the problems with looking for literary historical analogies is that you have to have a profound knowledge of both history and literature or you’re going to wind up merely representing the limits of your own present. Why? Because literary history is a tangled mess of conflicting representations, their multiple interpretations, and their disputed historical location.

That’s why I was disappointed to see this from the otherwise excellent writers at io9.com. The article demonstrates a lack of knowledge of history, fiction, and science fiction.

An omnislash is in order, though it may seem rude.

Fasten Your Seatbelts

We could be headed for a great adventure. Or apocalypse. Either way, we’re in for a wild ride.

By Annalee Newitz
Sunday, January 4, 2009; B01

When the present promises only economic hardship and political upheaval, what does the future look like?

In 2009, it looks like a world of gleaming spaceships filled with enlightened people who have emerged with their humanity intact after a terrible war. They have entered the 23rd century, shed racism, no longer use money, possess seemingly magical technologies and are devoted to peaceful exploration. I refer of course to “Star Trek” and its powerful story of a better tomorrow, which has been mesmerizing audiences for almost half a century and returns to movie theaters this coming May with an eagerly anticipated 11th full-length feature.

But that gleaming future has absolutely nothing to do with the present and how we view our immediate prospects. Instead, it’s a bit of mid-60’s utopianism which is still being marketed today, a task so difficult that it has to undergo a “reboot,” which is a word I hope I never hear again. If that world weren’t 45 years out of date, it wouldn’t need such a face-lift.

But wait. The future also looks like this: a dark, violent world where a horrific war between humans and cyborgs leads to the near-extermination of humanity. This vision, in the latest “Terminator” movie, is also arriving at your nearest mutiplex in May.

Uh, no. That represents a re-packaging of late-cold-war paranoia: that a nuclear holocaust would wipe us all out and we’d have no notice and little chance of survival. The only twist is that defense systems take over for themselves, so the joke’s on the US and USSR. That’s the world I grew up in and I recognize it, but it’s 20 years out of date.

We imagine the future in places other than the movie theater, of course. Still, these two familiar franchises underscore the conflicting stories we tell ourselves in uncertain times about what lies ahead: Either we’re bound for a techno-utopia of adventure, or a grim, Orwellian dystopia where humanity is on the brink of implosion.

I cannot disagree more. The only reason these franchises persist is because American media companies are scared shitless and will only put money into things they know, which they assume are sure things. These two franchises stumble forward like freshly decapitated corpses. They do not speak for us. They cannot. (more…)

If country people are such big NASCAR fans, why are they such shitty drivers?

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It is important that we learn from our mistakes

It is important that we learn from our mistakes

It seems I have made the rookie mistake of trying to write a shooting script. This is because, when I cribbed the formatting standards from other scripts, I was looking at relatively late revisions of Drive and Firefly (I try to emulate success!), so all the SHOTS and CONTINUEDS and SCENE NUMBERS and things like MUSIC CUES were already written in.

In Microsoft Word. That’s right: I was actually inserting SCENE NUMBERS with manual margins, two-hundred and forty pages worth of finished copy, with another two scripts in pieces, another series’ two-hour pilot, and pieces of a movie script.

Uh-uh. Nope. Bad idea. All wasted effort, except that each time you touch your material you wind up improving it. And, after years of formatting footnotes in both Latin and English, it’s not nearly as tedious for me as it might be for a sane individual. But, lesson learned.

If you’re writing a script on spec (or, in my stupid case, three whole fucking series on spec), your sole consideration should be making your story idea and characters clear. The previous advice I’d had was to avoid too much direction. Now, as I understand it, if your vision is not transparently obvious from your ACTION and dialog, you just might be wasting your time with all those other details.

So, I got this open source project software called CELTX, which has a pretty decent script editor. Apparently, movie format and TV-2 have pretty much merged, which may be due to the creeping 16:9-itis I was talking about. You can enter your existing script text in the SCRATCHPAD mode, edit it in SCRIPT, and then count your pages and check formatting in TYPESET mode.

Very gratifying.

So I immediately banged out a teaser for the pilot of that cold war series that I really need to set aside right now, a simple scenario with a really creepy twist, and my wife actually liked it.

Success!

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FAIL.  Oh, well:  fuck WordPress’ weird code.  Embed this in your own blog and ENJOY!

There will likely be nothing here for either of my readers to read today, because I am proofreading a short-story for its first round of rejection letters.

One note:  just as writing poetry is not a waste of time for non-poets, since it exercises the ability to pick the right word for a narrow application, I have to say that writing screen plays that will likely never see the flickering light of production is similarly useful.  It develops your sense of voice.

If I hadn’t “wasted” time on these half-dozen scripts, I’d still suck as much as I did when I wrote this short story.  As it is, I suck slightly less.

And so I rejoice, then move another comma.

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If I were an alien and I thought Keanu Reeves represented humanity, I would invade your ass before some other opportunistic species did.

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watching. New stuff.

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