Thursday, April 24, 2014

If I could write....

...I would write about an older guy who, at his wife’s behest, cleans out his closet of items that can go to Goodwill, but as he takes long un-worn garments off the rack and gazes at them, opening unaccustomed windows of memory, he is overcome with emotion.

…I would write about the same guy doing the same thing with his old clothes a week later and not giving a shit.

…I would write a story about how last week an asteroid struck the earth and destroyed it, but we don’t know because we're an afterglow.

…I would write about a man who suddenly discovers that he has aged.

…I would write about a young man who wishes he were older.

…I would write about a man who wonders what it would be like to be a woman. Would it be easier, more powerful?

…I would write about a woman who wonders what it would be like to be a man. Would it be easier, more powerful?

…I would write about tardigrades, animals the size of pinheads who live everywhere on earth, in space and at the bottom of the oceans, and all over our bodies.

…I would write about what would happen if you tried to kiss a tardigrade (it would eat your face).

…I would write about a man who inherits his son’s dog when his son goes off to college. This man only liked cats, but now he has a dog.

…I would write about the same man with the dog, who realizes that he loves the dog but would rather have a cat. “What are the ethics of this?” the man wonders.

...I would write about a high school English teacher who, for years, wondered, “Is there value to what I teach? Will this 14 year old boy who wiggles in class and dreams of freedom on the bonny green be nurtured and guided by 'Great Expectations'?” “Why not?” the man concludes, “It’s as good as anything else.”

...I would write about the same high school teacher thinking about the earlier years when he taught elementary school. “Am I as useful now as I was then,” he wonders, “I taught kids to read and do arithmetic. Now what do I teach them?” The man answers his own question: “I teach them what it’s like to be 70 years old.”

...I would write about a man who wanted to be a novelist and one day he has an idea about why it never worked out: His thoughts are most comfortable when expressed in short outbursts, rather than ongoing narrative. “I don’t have enough to say to fill a book, “ the man thinks.

…I would write about this same man whose friend told him that in heaven he would be talking forever, because he likes talking so much, this man who does not have enough to say to fill a book.

…I would write about the sister of my friend, a professor of rhetoric, who used to tear out pages of books after reading them. She did this in the front row of her university classes, letting the pages drift down before the professor. I would write that my friend’s sister was a Zen master.

…I would write about enlightenment, without a capital “e," and I would write, “All humanity is waiting for it,” with a capital “A.”

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Introducing Harry the Human!

I'd like to introduce my old friend, Harry the Human, an aging telepath known in the '60's as a coffee shop raconteur in the San Francisco Haight district.  After years of silence, Harry feels like talking again.  You can read his recent essays (including demonstrations of telepathy directed at the 2016 presidential candidates, Silicon Valley moguls, and more) at:

Try this sample:

Free Screenplay!

By Harry the Human

This synopsis gives the basics for a blockbuster screenplay, and I'm giving it away! Just tell me you used it and made the movie happen, and that will be reward enough for me!  Harry

The Day the World Froze in Terror because it looked in a Mirror

A screenplay by (...your name here...)

Synopsis: In a solar system remarkably like our own, a humanoid civilization develops on one of the inner planets, just as ours has on earth. On this planet, the humanoids have evolved external, mechanical abilities much more rapidly than internal mental abilities, especially those related to their subjective quality of existence. In fact, this humanoid culture has so utterly neglected its internalities that their Spellcheck recognizes only "externalities." At the time of the story, the humanoids have suddenly developed god-like external powers, including the ability to genetically recreate themselves in whatever form they wish, except they have no idea what they wish, because they are weak on internalities. Ancient cultures, rich with internalities, dissolve in front of everyone's eyes, with no agreed-upon replacements (cameo of their version of Joseph Campbell on his death bed, crying, "We need new myths; the old myths are dead!"). In laboratories all over this planet scientists report to wealthy patrons and governments on their progress towards a scientific re-creation of humanoids who will, presumably, be happy, since they'll be programmed that way, while the archaic populations destined to be displaced are diverted with scripted "controversies" about ideology, competition between races (soon to be genetically re-written anyway), sexual practices, etc.  In their version of what we might call "Roman circuses," the futureless humanoids are encouraged to distract themselves with fake controversy and war, innovative drugs (illegal, to create the illusion of free will and cover their true purpose) and to watch lots of TV.

In the most powerful nation on this planet, which we'll call Lemon Drop for security reasons, general dysfunction due to overwhelmed and distracted government leads to ever increasing dissatisfaction at all levels of society, such that the government of Lemon Drop- a corporate/state hybrid- gets together with other national governments and plans a fake war, intended both to distract their respective populations from their impending replacement by enhanced humanoids, as well as to, well, kill a lot of them. The leader of Lemon Drop is a liberal icon, something of a ploy because he pushes aggressive military moves harder than anyone. As we encounter this leader, he wants his military to conduct a high-profile attack on a far-away country engaged in a vicious civil war, in which none of the parties is an ally of his country- a sure means of igniting the tinderbox this world has become. To the leader's surprise, and to the surprise of many of his advisors, his proposals for aggression are forcefully rejected even by his core supporters, and he has to withdraw them, for now. The “democratic” process of choosing a new leader approaches and it becomes clear that the centuries old political structures will buckle under the strain of realities their founders did not envision.  To get the war up-and-running in time to distract the population from the political dysfunction, agent provocateurs muddy the waters, giving the lame-duck leader's aggression cover, continuing as cover for the demagogue to follow, and the world devolves into a chaos of fighting. There is no center to the humanoid culture. In their "natural" form, the humanoids do not survive the evolutionary crises that, for instance, the fictional Vulcans of Star Trek famously survive en route to becoming the intellectual, possibly autistic and remarkably moral humanoids we understand them to be. Perhaps there is a sequel where Vulcans discover Lemon Drop and place it in receivership.

Suggested opening and sub-plot: Establishing shot of ivy covered building; push-through upper window into the study of Dr. Owatta Gooh Siam, professor of philology at Dorkchester University, who has discovered an algorithm for processing ongoing news events on his planet which produces remarkably detailed and accurate forecasts. One of these forecasts relays that the forces that want to start a war and general mayhem sufficient to serve as cover for replacing the humanoids are not at all done with their mischief. Dr. Siam realizes that it is up to him, and him alone, to stop the nefarious plot from unfolding. But how? Dr. Siam decides to form an underground movement made up of others who have uncovered the truth. He disguises his findings as a fictional work of sci-fi/horror, not hard to do, and makes a sham offer to give it away so someone can get rich off it and in the process disseminate the truth. As it happens, an enterprising hack picks up on the story and makes a bundle, the humanoids are replaced with the new models anyway, and Dr. Owatta Gooh Siam ends up penniless under a piece of cardboard on skid row.