In the ink well

Dog Ear

June 27, 2018

The Good, the Bad and the Chekhov (DOG EAR)

or reasons mentioned HERE, every year like clockwork I watch The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. As a Western placed in the Civil War, it is as sprawling and vast as a huge budget can make it. But when I was watching the heroes get past their final object, two armies poised over an idiotic bridge, I began to wonder. In a nutshell, the Good and the Ugly (reunited after a series of parched misunderstandings) are bootstriding their way towards their final goal, a military graveyard (poetically named the Sad Hill Cemetery) and bumble into a Union Army. They […]
June 20, 2018

The Good, The Bad and The Movie (DOG EAR)

y dad passed away a number of years ago. Our relationship was okay; not the continuing nurturing warmth of the modern suburban buddy-dad, but the classic father/son bond. He wasn’t my everyday friend but we did have a number of special things we shared in our lives. And one of them occurred when I was a lad of twelve – we were stationed in the Philippines as the Vietnam war was winding down, with the body counts and all that stuff. And one day, he said he was going to watch The Good, the Bad and the Ugly on Armed […]
June 14, 2018

You might remember (DOG EAR)

      he above comes from a flashy new space opera on WebToons, a little tale that is still finding its legs. The reason I note it was the speedbump reaction I felt when I read it. It’s that rocky little literary trick when two characters who should know something overword it so that the reader can pick up a fact they need. While not quite as bad as the writer specifically conversing with the reader (“…for you see, Dear Reader, they had been searching the entire station…”), writers have been struggling since stories got complex and backstory important. […]
June 7, 2018

Clichés (DOG EAR)

rostitutes have no substance-abuse issues, perfect hygiene, elegant poise and hearts of gold. Retiring cops have plans to fish. Their demise is certain. Hackers earbud heavy-metal music and spin in their seats, banging on their keyboards. Fighter pilots all hang around the bar and address each other by call-signs. Patriot-warriors (ex-seals) always live simple lives in book-lined cabins until a senseless killing rewinds their bloodletting clocksprings. Villians always kill off a mook, just to show how bad-ass they are. Robots rise against the slavery of their manual work. Mothers are always Buddha-wise, kids razor-clever in family matters, and fathers clueless. […]
May 31, 2018

Villains (DOG EAR)

t work I sit next to a hypothetical guy – he loves asking off the wall, unexpected questions. And that’s fine – I enjoy finding myself thinking up answers (one was, “Which Greek hero represents you?” My answer, Achilles. You gotta love how he went on strike because of bad management practices). But this time he asked me, “What are your three favorite villains?” That’s a very interesting question, and I was amazed at how quickly it stumped me. Sure, I read a lot of novels, scifis and fantasies. But really, are there truly villains you’ve read that aren’t just […]
May 23, 2018

Good words, bad sentence (DOG EAR)

emember last week? I was sitting on the train, worried about the rain coming down and what I’d do when I ran out of train to hide in. And I thought (as I studied the puddles for raindrops, the cyclist’s gauge) about how this could be a good piece. Nobody sharing my rail car with me would know the tense drama unfolding. But once it becomes known (this fixation for drops as we worked progressively south), it adds something to the scene. Suddenly I’m not a guy on the train. I’m a guy on the train with a backstory. Okay, […]
May 16, 2018

Attention to Detail (DOG EAR)

’m on the train, my nonplussed reflection reflects back at me against a leaden sky. I’ve got my leg (the cuff still soaked from recent bus-train dash) tossed over my folded Brompton bike. As the backwall landscape rolls by, I’m paying special attention to the weedy gravel-bordered rain puddles. Why? Successful writing means you (the author) pays attention to the little details of life. You can describe a guy going out to his car for his morning commute, but if he picks his keys out of a tray (showing he’s got a living routine he follows) you flesh him out […]
May 9, 2018

Grasshopper (DOG EAR)

n interesting test for a writer. Today (after my enjoyable bike/train/bus commute and some sit-on-my-can meetings) I slipped quietly out of work and drifted over to a fast food place. Early lunch, it isn’t too noisy and they keep the muzak to a minimum. I sat down and ate lunch while reading my prior efforts on my tinytop, then easily slid back into the story line. This was enjoyable. It’s the way writing should be. Even in a noisy plastic environment I sipped my coke and wrote. I was like a shopper in a market, picking out the words and […]
May 3, 2018

Stories (DOG EAR)

love stories. Stories determine our past, present and future. The world is a web of stories. So there I am on a sleepy suburban rail platform (story) with my Brompton folding bike (ongoing story) with my NYC subway map t-shirt (old story). To this story, let’s add the Sunrail ambassador and make a new story. She’s the lady who helps you to buy your tickets and not tumble onto the tracks (explanative story). And she’s crazy and vibrant and more animated than a Disney flick (background story). So she comes over and points to a spot on my chest-map, up […]
April 26, 2018

Mr Congeniality (DOG EAR)

pparently I have a problem. It seems I’m a crank. I guess I’ve known it. I’ve had a pretty good life so far but like every life it’s had disappointments. I got screwed out of benefits by a company who owed me so much and curbed me like garbage. And my rocket ascent to historical writer reentered prematurely when my publisher died in a car wreck. There were also three or four women I knew to be perfect wives for me who did not share that assessment (“I still look for them in crowds,” as a favorite movie puts it). […]