Tuesday, August 4, 2009

"Smash my head to make it spin"

Starting it off with a title taken from “Thrashing Days” by The Notwist, what might be apparent from the tag I’ve put on today’s post is that I see this one as little snippets, clips, like a news update, bite-sized little morsels. Think of each new title as a headline or better yet, as the cards they show before the scenes in episodes of Frasier.

“Print as the Phoenix”

There’s been much debate about how much longer paper publishing is going to be able to hold on and not enough insight into which way it is really heading. We are not approaching so much an end to books, but a specialization of them. As Jay Leno talks about how electric cars will allow gasoline vehicles to become niche items, the same is going to grow true for paper. When it comes down to it, people are going to have to want to read books, and not screens that replicate books to near exactness (and believe me, they aren’t that far away from getting there).

The great thing about paper, though, is its versatility. The free newspaper is generally well received and considered unmenacing, has an approval rating leaps and bounds above junk email. Warren Ellis has an idea of a company that takes a set number of blogs that you like, collects a word count or an entry count, page count, whatever would work best in this case, and spits you out a paper every now and then. I’m not sure how developed his idea is, and I don’t have his blog post handy at the moment (I know, I know, I’m playing this one close to the chest), so I guess I’ll just have to assume that I’m adding to his thoughts, but if not, his idea is brilliant enough in its own to be spread. How I would tweak this is through mail delivery and ad space. Suddenly you have regionalized ads floating around, perhaps even better than TV. You have a publishing company making a newspaper out of individual blogs that all they have to do is get a minor profile on, and I would expect advertisers to go wild. The best kind of commercial is the one that’s selling something the customer is likely to want, doncha know?

So I’m also thinking, how hard would it be to take this and streamline it a little bit, make the paper something you just write off, send out to everyone in a certain area, perhaps collect profile posts of different bloggers, the like, would this sort of thing have a market? And if so, suddenly money and advertising can come from all sides. Bloggers hoping to boost their credit to companies and thus sell more ad space could pay this company to publish them and then you have the same process. Or you can piggyback this into the first idea; add a new blogger to each copy sent to a perspective reader, sort of like TiVo suggesting new shows I might like.

The reason that the newspaper is going out of style definitely has nothing to do with the newsprint itself, but with the fact that television news and the internet make your regular newspaper obsolete. But think about a collection of different people’s minds, made manifest in your hands to open and read their thoughts. And whether or not this is a group that you have chosen for yourself, I seriously doubt that there’s anyway that clicking between tabs is going to be seen as a cooler thing than just turning pages.

“Baseball as the Human Sport”

In Futurama, of course, if I remember correctly, there is some humor poked at baseball’s history. As America’s pastime, it is easy to foresee that most of the problems that the country might face would be mirrored in its ballgame, its relaxing night on the couch with a beer and the son watching the country stage little city versus city or league versus league rivalries. From 9/11’s delaying the season into October (its notorious play off month) and pushing the World Series into November, baseball and the country have sure come a long way. But when we go back, we have a time when baseball would actually make the first move, like watching your mirror reflection part your hair a different way, before you begin to do so yourself. What I am talking about is the story of Jackie Robinson, which is one I’ll assume you know moderately well. Although conditions were not as they should’ve been, baseball did take steps towards integration before the country, as a whole, under Johnson, would begin to resolve this growing problem of second-class citizenry. Tracing back from number 42’s unprecedented career, we are led to the silver lining of baseball’s segregation: the Negro Leagues. Supplying a new think tank on baseball and a new experimentation process, these independent baseball leagues would help form some of today’s endearing concepts in the majors—fan voting in the All-Star Game, inter-league play, etc. And it is this era that Futurama parodies. Bender is of course a fan of the robot blernsball (an evolved form of baseball played in the 3000s) players who are not allowed to play in the big leagues. This paragraph thus serves as a caution that I do not mean to point out that baseball is a sport without robots with the title to this section.

What I do mean to portray here is that baseball is a sport that will always come down to someone calling the game. Replays should not ever be allowed outside of their current use in home run calls, and balls and strikes should vary from umpire to umpire. This is an idea that baseball itself even upholds in its uneven ball parks, that once they stretch past the infield diamond, can become completely different affairs, perhaps built to suit particular stars of the team playing there at the time or only incidentally brought up to cause certain peculiarities and differences. From turf to grass, even, baseball fields have their own characteristics, like people in their own ways. From the baggie in right field of the Metrodome to Tal’s Hill in deep center of Minute Maid Park in Houston, baseball presents its venues as each a little different, each needing a little time to get used to.

And that’s really what makes the game what it is. Because everything is a little bit different, a little bit more left to chance, in a baseball game. And with 162 games per team per year for the regular season, each game is like meeting someone new.

“My Novel as a Movie Franchise”

The book that I have mainly in my head right now is growing in its own way, little bits of plot, tiny shards of knowledge forming in my mind that will hopefully be able to be pieced back together into a worthwhile mirror once again at the end of the day. It’s an odd thing, because I think I’m so used to short stories, things that have beginnings, middles, and ends, whereas a book can obviously have those as well, but the middle generally becomes its own set of crests and troughs, that are, in their own right, new beginnings, and new ends.

What is interesting to me at the moment is how I’ve been basing all my stories in the same sort of universe for a while now, basically our own, but with a hazy illustrator who leaves key differences here and there, as well as major ones that could in themselves be written of in stories (one of which I have begun writing), and now this book has somewhat spiraled forward and planted itself into this world that I had already begun to create.

This is what Tolkien did, definitely, and what Alan Moore suggests. Sort of like starting with the setting of a picture before you paint any people in it. And, even though this isn’t generally the way I write things, I like the way my mind is thinking right now.

The original Casino Royale film was actually a satirical James Bond film in 1967, and even though this film may not have been greatly well received, I think it does go somewhere we rarely see, which is a film franchise that not only switches leads or minor characters or canon, but actually genre as well. My novel I see as something along the same lines as this. Mayhap in three parts, the first presenting one genre and then perhaps even an interlude allowing time for our actors to get backstage to change their clothes into the costumes for the next part, making sure that this time they have the right mask. And even if that might seem more like a play than a movie to you, I just say that the way I see my novel now is like waves lapping the beach, one comes in and has a certain majesty to it, something that can’t be truly replicated, and then the next comes down on us, and no matter if the water looks exactly the same in either image, both waves hit in completely different styles. Equally original, and equally as hard to surf.

And that’s the only three of any value in writing that I can pluck off the top of my head at the moment. (Value in my opinion, as self-evaluation, or as Vonnegut put it, comparing “myself with myself.”) Another idea I may try out on another Tuesday could actually be a form of non-fiction symmetrina, but for now I’m quite whipped.

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