Saturday, December 15, 2018

A Blimp Is Born

As some of you may know, I am a fan of the movie Blade Runner, and have written a number of pieces (articles, fanfiction, and lyrics) and contributed to fansites, (BladeZone, KippleZone, and the Off-world News) over the years. 

This month, I've been researching about the Blade Runner blimp. And in this article, I focus on the dirigible billboard––also referred to as the Blade Runner blimp, advertising blimp, Off-world blimp, mother-blimp, or simply, the blimp––from concept to construction. And I discuss its message and what it says about the portrayal of humanity in the dystopian vision of Blade Runner. And show how its influence was translated by the fans of this film through their art, words, and music.

"A new life awaits you in the Off-world colonies! The chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure!"

The blimp is just one of the many things that come to mind when we think of Blade Runner. And, depending on which version of the film that we're familiar with, its message is open to speculation––but that's nothing new to the Blade Runner fandom.

The blimp represents corporate power and a capitalist commercial presence through its intrusive and inescapable adverts. And it also represents oppressive surveillance as witnessed by its spotlights as they probe into buildings and over streets and alleyways.

The blimp has been associated with the devil that comes to tempt and torment the poor souls of those left on Earth––or as angels descending into Hell to promise the chance to begin again in a new world, a chance of redemption in a place that may be considered Purgatory, in Dante's Divine Comedy.

It is futuristic, yet old; retrofitted like much of the technology and architecture in Blade Runner.

An alien life-form, programming our minds and contaminating our souls.

The promise of a new life––to begin again. Could there be such a paradise?

An advertisement for hope––for those who meet their stringent qualifications. Or an advertisement of despair––keeping those who don't qualify in their place.

However you care to interpret the blimp, I cannot imagine the dystopian world of Blade Runner without the blimp's looming presence.

A Blimp Is Born: From Concept to Screen to Fandom ~ The Blade Runner BlimpResearched, compiled, and edited by C.A. Chicoine

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Benjamin Simonds

Portrait of Col. Benjamin Simonds, by William Jennys in 1796.

Throughout the month of October, I've been researching and compiling material about Benjamin Simonds. Between field trips to Williamstown, Massachusetts, Bennington, Vermont, and Walloomsac, New York, it was like I was walking in the shadows of his footsteps. I researched through the material of my own personal library, the Williams College Sawyer Library, and, of course, online. Some of the details were conflicting, based on conjectures to fill in the blanks; they could only use what information they had available to them at the time. I am confident that, through the new data that had been shared and revealed since the publications of some of the older sources used, that I have assembled an accurate and telling portrait of Mr. Simonds. 

He was certainly someone whom I would have loved to have met and chatted with. The stories he must have had of his many adventures. As far as I know, he kept no diary. So we don't know what his daily routine was on a given day, or what he thought about this or that.

Benjamin Simonds (sometimes written Simons, Symons, and Symonds) was among the thirty captives from the siege of Fort Massachusetts in 1746. He was left ill in a hospital in Quebec at the time the surviving captives returned to Boston. He returned later in October of 1747 and was the only former captive to settle in West Hoosac (now Williamstown, MA).

He served in King George's War, the French and Indian War, and the American Revolutionary War. And he was an important figure in the original settlement and early history of Williamstown, Massachusetts.

Benjamin Simonds was assuredly a man of sound judgment and executive ability, as demonstrated through both his military service and community involvement. And, like his great-grandfather, William Simonds, and his grandfather, Joseph Simonds Sr., and his father, Joseph Simonds Jr., before him, he too was a pioneer.

Benjamin Simonds: A Colonial Pioneer, researched, compiled, and edited by C.A. Chicoine.

At the bas-relief of the Battle of Bennington, at the Bennington Battleground Historic Site in Walloomsac, New York, commemorating Col. Benjamin Simonds. 

Saturday, September 1, 2018

The Origin of Our Community, Revisited

In this article, I revisit a speech that I gave at the Commemoration of the 270th Anniversary of the Siege of Fort Massachusetts, on August 20, 2016—at Indian Ledge, in North Adams, Massachusetts—and expand upon it. 

I put a lot of effort into researching and creating the Friends of Fort Massachusetts website content, and I didn't want it all to be in vain. The creation of the website––to educate the visitor about this historic site, while stressing its importance to its surrounding communities––was the catalyst for the formation of the Friends of Fort Massachusetts, an all-volunteer organization, founded in 2016 by Craig A. Chicoine, Wendy Champney, and Susan Watson; seeking to preserve, improve and help maintain the historic Fort Massachusetts site. However, I had severed ties with the other founding members because of fundamental differences. It is my belief that the community at large should be informed of the options offered by the former owners of this historic site and involved in the decisions; not a select few. And although we did not lack in our vision and mission statements, I feel that there was a lack of cohesion when it came to our vision. And I believe that we needed a better-qualified president (a position I held until my resignation) to move us forward to help reach our goal. The group would later evolve, under new direction, into Save Fort Massachusetts Memorial, Inc., under the umbrella of the North Adams Historical Society. In 2017, the Golub Corporation donated the site to the City of North Adams. 

In this revisit, I wanted to present the ideas that I presented at the meetings we had during its formation, along with other ideas that I have had since. There are just as many opportunities as there are challenges for this park to receive the care and attention that it deserves. I present some of the challenges along with some suggestions and ideas for consideration and discussion.

Every historical site has an important story to tell. The story of Fort Massachusetts is a compelling, suspenseful, and inspiring story. It speaks of hope, and courage, and maintaining one's integrity in the face of adversity. It's a story of life and death and the human spirit. And it was a safe haven for the early settlers of East and West Hoosac. Despite the sickness, skirmishes, and the siege, capture and, ultimately, destruction of the first fort, they did not give up. They rebuilt. And they settled the land.

European settlement into the northern Berkshires––the western frontier––was inevitable. Where Fort Massachusetts was built is where it all began for us. The communities of Williamstown, North Adams, and Adams owe their origin to the erection of this fort.

Now that this historic site is back in public hands––the City of North Adams––it can be revitalized and a renewed interest developed. And, just as important, it will take the community, working along with the City, to give the site the attention and care that it deserves.

We must strive to preserve our historic sites, for they are some of our most tangible, authentic links to our past. There is no other historic site in the northern Berkshires more worthy of preservation than that of the site of Fort Massachusetts––the origin of our community.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Revitalizing My Online Presence

Since I've taken to the World Wide Web back in 1998, I have embraced the internet wholeheartedly. The computer has made it possible to produce and present content that would otherwise have been very difficult, if not, nearly impossible for me otherwise.

I have created websites on subject matter that I feel very passionate about. However, when it came to the Gray Locke website, and my personal website, I just never felt satisfied with the way that they were presented. And these are two very important websites for me. I consider the Gray Locke series to be my legacy to the world. And as far as my personal website, well, it should be the hub of my interweb wheel. But it was pathetically bland and uninteresting.

So, I am revitalizing my online presence. I decided to return to this blog and use it as the hub. Everything you need to know about my creative work, you'll find a link to it here. I am happy with the new layout and design. Finally. Just got a few more tweaks to make.

As for the Gray Locke website ... well, that's a project for another time.



Thursday, November 23, 2017

New England's Natural Bridge

Back in May of 2016, I created a website about another local historic site -- Natural Bridge. In June, I had put together a brief history of the site. Then, in October of this year, I revised it and added much more material that I had come upon while working on another article for the site. The other article, where the visitor can learn a little more about the history of Natural Bridge, and of some of the documented accidents that have occurred here over the last couple of centuries, was completed in November.

Links are provided below.

The New England's Natural Bridge website was created out of my love for this park, and for local history, with the goal to help educate the visitor of New England's Natural Bridge's extraordinary history. The community as a whole must understand, appreciate, respect, and know its history. When you visit a historic site, such as this one, you learn from their stories and help keep its history alive.

Stay marbleous!

~C.A. Chicoine

Friday, September 1, 2017

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

~Heart Thoughts~

"Why are you so scared?"

"You led me astray once before."

"Have you not loved?"

"Yes, of course, I have. But, my love was forsaken."

"Love, in this way, takes two hearts. And I beat for only one."

~C.A. Chicoine

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

When Darkness Closes In

When black tides beckoned her from her coastal reverie, it was all she could do to set sail before the darkness came on. These kinds of journeys weren't planned; they never are. But she learned to prepare for them. She had always kept a sailboat moored at the wharf near the upper end of Sanity Point. And it was well stocked with provisions––not knowing how long she'd be gone.

She often visited that place where others had warned her not to go. Her friends were afraid that she'd never return, and if she did, she would not be the same; for, when navigating the ocean of shadows, one can, at any time, be swallowed up by waves of despair. And many––too many––have been lost at sea, never to return.

But she would always come back, sometimes stronger than before.

~C.A. Chicoine

Monday, June 26, 2017

"Heart Fantasies"

He gently caressed the side of her face with the back of his fingers, so as not to scratch her delicate skin with the calluses he'd acquired from work. And he couldn't help but smile.

“What,” she asked, slightly bashful in her tone.

“I'm just living in the moment,” he replied with an even bigger smile. “That's something that I can only do with you.”

~C.A. Chicoine

Monday, May 1, 2017

Electric Dreams Revisited

"Electric Dreams Revisited"

Tell me, boy
Do you have room
In your heart
For the computer boom?

Electric dreams
Electric dreams

He was a boy
Who bought a computer
To put him right
Wake him up on time
What an appliance
A matter of science
Taking over was
Its only crime

We interrupt this program for a brief introduction 

Some of us go to see a movie because its trailer looked good. And some of us, because we like a particular actor, director, or writer. And others of us, because of a song. I bought the soundtrack album to Electric Dreams before ever seeing the movie. Think I came upon the advertisement in either the Rolling Stone magazine or Billboard at the time of the album's release. Being a fan of the Electric Light Orchestra (Jeff Lynne) and The Human League (Phil Oakey/Heaven 17), this was a must-have album for me. So, this soundtrack was on the top of my list during one of my pilgrimages to Toonerville Trolley Records.

I had no clue what this movie was about. The only clue was what was written on the back of the album cover.

And, by the time I got the album, the movie was no longer in theatres (at least in my area). So, unfortunately, I did not see it on the big screen. But, I did take a trip to the local video store and purchased it on VHS. And I was not disappointed.

"It's not about words. It's more a feeling." 

We all have our guilty pleasures, and the Electric Dreams movie and its soundtrack are among mine. It's not that it's a bad movie or anything–-it's an all-around feel-good movie. And I found the movie very engaging, between the cinematography, special effects, and the music. And I loved the chemistry between Lenny Von Dohlen and Virginia Madsen in their respective roles as Miles and Madeline. And the humor and innocence of Edgar helped to root, develop and move the story in a direction that you'd never expect it to. These elements helped enliven the traditional romantic plot of the boy-meets-girl scenario.

It's just not one of those mainstream blockbusters that people generally talk about. And I wouldn't even consider Electric Dreams to be classified as a cult film. We'll take the movie Blade Runner, for instance. That movie flopped at the box office too. However, there was already a fanzine created six months after that movie's theatrical release. And once the World Wide Web caught on, there were a number of websites paying tribute to this highly influential box-office-flop-turned-cult-classic film of all time.

I have not come across one fan website about Electric Dreams. Although, I did find one page that is part of this 80's Movies Rewind website -- doing it for the love of the classic 80's movies. It's not bad. But, that was it. That is, until now.

So, whether you've seen Electric Dreams in the theatre when it was first released, or many years ago on VHS or when it was aired on HBO, be sure and make a vigil to watch it again. And if you just discovered this movie for the first time, it makes for a great addition to any stay-at-home date night! You will not be disappointed.

Electric Dreams
Are never what they seem
Electric Dreams
Now I'm electric too
Electric Dreams
This is what I'm tellin you

A link to the website is HERE.

Stay electric!


Friday, December 16, 2016

Fort Massachusetts

In April of 2016, I began research on a local historical site -- Fort Massachusetts. And coincidently, around that same time, a local teacher had just released a book about the exact location of the fort, and of the house she grew up in nearby. The idea that I had was for a website to educate the visitor about this historic site while stressing its importance to its surrounding communities. This was the catalyst for the formation of the Friends of Fort Massachusetts, an all-volunteer organization. It was founded in 2016 by me, Wendy Champney, and Susan Watson; seeking to preserve, improve and help maintain the historic Fort Massachusetts site. However, I had severed ties with the other founding members because of fundamental differences. It is my belief that the community at large should be informed of the options offered by the current owners of this site and involved in the decisions; not a select few. And although we did not lack in our vision and mission statements, there was still a discrepancy between us. I also felt that we were lacking a qualified president (a position I held until my resignation) to move us forward to help reach our goal.

It's a shame that we could not work this through. However, the website will remain a testament to this historic site ~ the origin of our community.

The fort was built during King George's War (1744–1748), in 1745, against the French and their Indian allies. It was also built to prevent Dutch settlers in New York from encroaching upon Massachusetts territory from the west. Fort Massachusetts was the westernmost in a northern line of colonial forts extending from the Connecticut River, over the Hoosac Mountain, to this western frontier. And it remained active throughout much of the French and Indian War (1754–1763), until 1759, when it was decommissioned following the Battle of Quebec.

The outcome of the French and Indian War established British control of North America, and gave birth to the British Empire. And it also triggered the movement towards independence for the British colonists in America.

Every historical site has an important story to tell. The story of Fort Massachusetts is a compelling, suspenseful, and inspiring story. It speaks of hope and courage and maintaining one's integrity in the face of adversity. It's a story of life and death and the human spirit. It is a story worth hearing.

Below is a link to the website. In it, you will find two articles that I put together.

A Brief History of Fort Massachusetts with an Emphasis on the Siege of 1746 -- Compiled, edited, and with an introduction by C.A. Chicoine

Fort Massachusetts Memorialized -- Compiled and edited by C.A. Chicoine



After I just finished delivering a speech at the Commemoration of the 270th Anniversary of the Siege of Fort Massachusetts, on August 20, 2016— at Indian Ledge, North Adams, Massachusetts.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Where Has the Time Gone? Compiling and Editing.

Where HAS the time gone!

The past two years have been full of emotion, and many new projects developing.

Besides either coming up with a new idea or being inspired, part of the fun in writing for me is researching. I become very passionate about a subject that I just can't seem to learn enough about it! But I do what I can with what I have. Compiling and editing research material for a project is like creating a collage. You piece together bits and pieces of the resource material to form a new creature.

In this case, I researched the Chipmunk Phenomenon via the Grasshoppers. In this article, I explore the influence pitch shifting had on commercial music for children. Pitch shifting is a sound recording technique in which the original pitch of a sound is raised or lowered to produce, in this case, distinctive animal voices. Vocal tracks were recorded at slow speeds, then played back at normal speeds, giving us the voice of, say, a chipmunk. The Grasshoppers were basically a Chipmunks knockoff. However, their debut album was a good contender for the Chipmunks.

Growing up with the Grasshoppers

I was introduced to the Grasshoppers by my older brother and sister. Although the first album was released eight years before I was born, it was still in pretty good condition. And this was one of those albums I'd listen to over and over again. Its sound didn't conflict with what I heard in the house either. My father would play Big Band and Swing, so this fit right in! (And he'd also have some of those tribute albums by Eddie Maynard and his Orchestra.)

I remember sitting in the parlor -- at my spot at the end of the couch -- sitting on the armrest and playing the Grasshoppers album on my Arvin phonograph. And I remember when the album cover split into two. I still kept it, with the record album safely in between them. But then, one day, my mother threw it out. Boy, was I upset!

My sister also had some 45's of David Seville and the Chipmunks; "Alvin's Harmonica"/"Mediocre", "The Chipmunk Song"/"Almost Good", and "Witch Doctor"/"Don't Whistle at Me Baby".

Looking back now to when I was a child listening to these records, it didn't seem like anything out of the ordinary having two separate groups -- that had similar voices -- perform some of the same songs, namely "Alvin's Harmonica" and "The Chipmunk Song". After all, many groups do cover songs.

Then I got to thinking, which came first, the Grasshoppers or the Chipmunks? Or had they come at the same time? I got that answer in 1997 when I met Dr. Demento. It was the Chipmunks, of course. the Chipmunks first officially appeared on the scene in a novelty record released in late fall 1958 by Ross Bagdasarian, Sr., (as David Seville). The song, originally listed on the record label (Liberty F-55168) as "The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)", featured the singing skills of the chipmunk trio. The Grasshoppers released their album in 1959, clearly inspired by this novelty.

I'd also look around in used record stores, and later on eBay, for the Grasshoppers. But, for the life of me, I could not remember which album cover we had growing up. Looking at the different cover versions I saw on the internet did not stir my memory either. What I did remember was the grasshoppers' Dixieland straw hats, vests, and bow ties. So I asked my sister. And she said it was the one with the bunnies.

I'd like to point out that I do believe that Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. came up with a very clever idea creating the Chipmunks. And those early songs he wrote were ingenious. I don't like the direction they went after his death. But, that's neither here nor there. If it wasn't for that spark of creativity in 1958, there would have been no Grasshoppers.

Growing up with the Grasshoppers is indeed one of those memories that I will treasure for the rest of my life.

~ C.A. Chicoine

 A link to the article and website is below.

Compiled and Edited by C.A. Chicoine

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Living in the Shadows

I am of the mindset that if you haven't anything positive to say, then just say nothing at all. And though there were many times that I intended to write something in this blog, it just didn't happen – for whatever reason – until now, two years later. My family, my friends, followers, and fans, I apologize. Whether you know me personally, or through my association with the Blade Runner fandom, my various websites, the Gray Locke series, or through my lyrics and music, you'd probably like to know what I've been up to – creatively speaking.

Over the past two years, I have created a couple of websites (Hendricks Head Lighthouse and The Casper Portal), written a fanfiction story (Blade Runner: The Peter Griffin Cut), and copy-edited two books for fellow author and artist, J.B. Chicoine, titled, Portrait of a Girl Running and Portrait of a Protégé. And I have many works-in-progress – all with so much potential.

Other than that, I have organized some of my older projects – transferred handwritten notes into digital files – and continue to add new ones to a flash drive.

The creative juices are still flowing. Only, these days, it comes out in trickles. I find it easier for me to explain things using metaphors and analogies.

Imagine, if you will, that I have a device in my hand that holds the creative juices that flow through my soul. A clepsydra, or water thief. As Carl Sagan described in one of the episodes of his television series, Cosmos, “This is the so-called water thief – a household implement that people had used for centuries. It's a brazen sphere with a neck and a hole at the top, and a set of little holes at the bottom. It was used as a kitchen ladle. You fill it by immersing it in water. If, after it's been in there a little bit, you pull it out with the neck covered, the water is retained. [Then, once you uncover the hole at its neck,] the water trickles out the little holes making a small shower.”

Now, imagine a miniature carousel – as seen from above. And, instead of horses, there are bowls in their place. In the center of this allegorical carousel of dreams lies an extra large bowl. Then, surrounding it, there is a ring of bowls. And, surrounding it, another ring of bowls – yet even smaller. And then the outermost ring is yet smaller still. Each of these bowls represents a project – a story, poem, song, etc. For example, the extra large bowl in the center represents those ideas of which I don't know will work or don't know exactly what to do with at the moment. Those ideas are for another day. Then, the bowls in the innermost ring contain such projects as the Gray Locke series, a comedy, a psychological drama, and a musical. The medium-sized bowls represent a collection of short stories, a collection of poetry, a sci-fi graphic novel series, and a fanfiction story. The many smaller bowls on the outermost rim contain music and lyrics.

As the carousel turns, I hold the clepsydra above the empty bowls and release my thumb from the hole at the top of the neck. And the water trickles out the little holes – the tiny streams of water filling each one of the bowls. But they don't quite fill the bowls, because the carousel is turning, only allowing a smidgen of water to each of them, while the bowl in the center spills over with excess. When the clepsydra is emptied, I dip it once more into the well of my soul and repeat this painstaking process.

So, what's the difference whether I am in a blissful state or not? I am still creating, right? Well, yes, I am still writing. Only, it takes longer and it takes more energy. When I am blissful, it is like I am fully charged – with an endless resource of energy. And there is more energy to invest in each one of the projects. In the state I'm in now, I haven't the energy to put into one project. And I don't believe it's a motivational issue. It is something else. That, I will call energy for now. And the source of this energy is love. Love is a stabilizer. When in love, all the things around you can be a source of inspiration. True love is bliss.

That is what I feel is missing – the stability to slow down the carousel. And to stop it long enough so that I can finish a project. When each project has had enough turns around the carousel, it is time for it to get off so that another can have its turn. But, when it spins out of control, there is nothing that I can do but wait it out. And that is time lost. 

In short, I work whenever I can, and on whatever I am in the mood to work on at the moment. 

Currently, I am copy-editing J.B. Chicoine's latest story, titled, Blind Stitches. After that, I plan on re-writing a screenplay I wrote back in 2011, titled, The Dreamscaper, into a story format. 

Been doing a lot of reading as well, (I'll have to update my Goodreads reading shelf).

Other than that, as I've said here already, I've been writing what I can, when I can. And I do find it excruciatingly frustrating – beyond words.   

In regards to my last blog entry, there has been one change. The Gray Locke story, titled, “Giants in the Vale,” is basically finished. However, I decided not to use that story in the series. It may be resurrected in some other fashion in the future. The third story in the Gray Locke series is yet to be titled and is a work-in-progress. I can tell you this much about it though, it takes place in Maine – at Gray's grandmother's summer home. And it involves a lighthouse. And something very spectacular happens between Gray and Alexandra.

Although I am in a dark place right now – where love is nonexistent – I will continue to dip the clepsydra into the well of my soul and sprinkle the pages of my copious work with my creative juices, with the hope that, given time, my projects will see the light of day.

Illustration by Dawn Schreiner 


Sunday, May 6, 2012

In A World Full of Words

I always liked the month of May here in New England. It's when, outside, everything really begins to flourish. The hedges begin to fill in. The lilacs come to full bloom. And, typically, it's not too hot or too cold. And it noticeably gets lighter earlier and gets darker later. Spring has sprung.

I have also found that my creativity flows pretty well at this time of year as well. Although, the flow has not followed any routine these past years. Still, it offers me hope.

I finally finished reading Haruki Murakami's book, 1Q84. I began reading this novel -- sometimes at only sections at a time -- in January|2012 and finished it April 23, 2012. Despite the span of time, I had not lost interest in the story nor the characters whatsoever. I looked forward to my evening read before bed. And, depending on how my day went, I'd read a chapter each night, or -- if too tired -- at least a section within a chapter, and there are many to choose from where to bookmark.

But, I must admit, I read the last 36% of the novel the last weekend of April. I just couldn't put it down. I wanted to know ... I needed to know how this story was going to be resolved. It was, certainly for me, unpredictable -- as hard as I tried to.

And, to my amazement, just as I finished the last page, I got up out of bed, went to the other room, and there on the telephone wire outside the window, was a large crow! (If you read the book, as I highly do recommend, you'll get the reference.)

There are certainly some questions not fully answered that flow through my mind after reading this novel. But, that leaves it open for the mind to resolve on one's own. And, the way it ended, it seems to me that it was left open for a sequel, (1Q84-Book Four?).

I am glad to have finally finished this novel. But, on the other hand, I'll also miss being enthralled in the world of 1Q84 and its characters. (Pardon my informal review.)

I also just finished reading Harper Lee's book, To Kill A Mockingbird. It was an amazing story. It is such a perfect story ... well written and cleverly structured.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the film, "To Kill A Mockingbird", starring Gregory Peck. And I must say, having seen the movie before reading the book, the screenplay was very faithful to this book. Many of the actual lines from the book were used in the screenplay.

The only thing that comes to mind that I feel would have been a better casting choice was with the character Mr. Gilmer, the District Attorney. I believe the actor Pat Buttram would have been a perfect match for this role. Not only because he fits the description, in particular, his eyes, "Although his back was to us, we knew he had a slight cast in one of his eyes which he used to his advantage: he seemed to be looking at a person when he was actually doing nothing of the kind, thus he was hell on juries and witnesses." And the fact that he was from Alabama, his accent would have been natural. But, I'm nit-picking. He was who came to mind when I read this story.

I can't say enough about this story. It wasn't too long. It wasn't too short. It was simply perfect.

I've returned to writing the Gray Locke series. Some major changes were made to the fourth book's story. And I'm still struggling with the third book with its changes.

The third book, titled Giants of the Vale, starts out; "Gray Locke looked through the mirror at his reflection, but there was something missing." Good? Bad? That opening sentence, I believe, was the better of the lot. We'll see.

I go through self-doubt when it comes to my writing. I have ideas but struggle with finding the right words -- the words that make you want to read the story.

In a world full of words, your words must capture the attention of the reader and keep them turning the pages and wanting more.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Write Away

"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer."

- Letter Four from Letters to a Young Poet by Ranier Maria Rilke

It has been a productive March this year. Among the highlights was the website rebuilding. The following websites had a major overhaul; Thomas Shields Clarke, Monument Square, and KippleZone. I also worked on the TurtleZone website, but I'm still not one-hundred percent happy with it. Also, the Gray Locke website needs a lot of help as well. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with that one.

I've also been releasing a song each month this year from the MEMORIA Blade Runner Rock archives, (to mark the 30th Anniversary of the release of the movie Blade Runner). And it appears that the month of May will be the last month a track will be released. There are a few other songs, but they need re-tweaking. And, unfortunately, that is out of my hands. 

I finished the second installment of the DADoES/Blade Runner fanfiction story, titled Awaiting Dawn. I am very happy how the story turned out. More time and effort could have been spent on it -- it could have become a novel, I have so much more of the story unpublished. But, being fanfiction, I really can't invest any more time than I already have with it.

As I wound down from the world of DADoES/Blade Runner, I put those notes away and pulled out the next project.

Work has begun on the next project -- the third book of the Gray Locke series. And, at the same time, I'm taking notes and so forth for the fourth. The past couple weeks has been a bit of a struggle for me ... writing, but we'll make it through.    

I'm really excited to be back at work on the Gray Locke series. I get to flesh out the relationship between Gray and Alexandra as they develop and grow. And I get to introduce them to two new friends who moved in next door at his Grandma and Grandpa Windsor's home in Western Massachusetts. And then there's the fourth story! In that story, the reader is returned back to Gray's hometown, Marlborough, Massachusetts -- returning to Doug and Kevin ... and Mandy?

The best is still yet to come!


~ Craig

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Fertile February

February was a very productive month for me from the get-go.

I completed an online article, titled Keeping the Human in Humanism. Created a webpage for a recipe that I perfected over the years I call Mrs. McFarlane's Coffee Cake. Completed another web article, titled CITYSPEAK Revisited. And I finished the first installment of a DADoES/Blade Runner fanfiction story, titled Tomorrow Started. And created a new webpage for KippleZone, KippleZone's Fanfiction Library.

I am now working on the second installment of my DADoES/Blade Runner fanfiction story, titled Awaiting Dawn. And I'm really having a lot of fun with it.

And as always, I continue to contribute my spare time to TurtleZone and the OFF-WORLD NEWS.

The book I'm reading, 1Q84, by Haruki Murakami, is very good so far.

I've also received some good news today. But, I'll have to leave it at that. :)

That's all for now. :)


~ Craig

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Mrs. McFarlane's Coffee Cake Recipe

I used to collect old newspapers when I was a teenager, and I found this recipe among them -- from a newspaper dated in 1917. I'm afraid I no longer have that newspaper, otherwise, I'd scan it to place on the website for prosperity.

I used to call this cake, 1917 Coffee Cake. But, when I thought of putting it up on the internet to share with everyone, I thought it fitting to name it after the woman who submitted this recipe to that long forgotten newspaper, oh so many years ago -- Mrs. E. McFarlane.

I am by no means a professional baker. As a matter of fact, I actually don't bake all that much. It has been limited to cookies, tea cakes, and this coffee cake.

The image below is of me, proudly holding up my freshly baked coffee cake in 1984–despite it being as hard as a rock, (That's when I learned that the coffee has to be cold before adding it to the batter.). And, yes, I am in my pajamas!

So, for those who like to bake, go visit the website! Mrs. McFarlane's Coffee Cake. Give it a try!


~ Craig

UPDATE: December 2017 -> The recipe was submitted to the Boston Post. She submitted a number of recipes to the newspaper that year. With one of them, she received a cash award.  

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Behind CITYSPEAK Revisited

CITYSPEAK Revisited: The story behind the story of the first Blade Runner fanzine.

This article had been put on hold for quite some time. I initially began research for it in 2007. But, getting information on the fanzine, titled CITYSPEAK, and on its editor, Sara Campbell, had proved to be a challenge.

First released in December of 1982–while the movie was still in theatres–the fanzine would only produce three issues until CITYSPEAK editor Sara Campbell’s untimely death. The last issue–the Special Edition–was published posthumously.

Andrew Pokon, a Blade Runner fan propmaker and collector, sent me a copy of the first CITYSPEAK issue in 2007. And it blew my mind. I then embarked on an investigative journey to learn all that I could about the fanzine and the people behind it.

I was able to contact a number of folks that were involved with the first issue. I contacted Kathy Vergano, who wrote a letter in the first edition. However, she said she’d pass on an interview. She’s not much of a fan anymore, she said. And I also contacted Phil Kaveny and Samuel Tomaino. They attended a discussion on Blade Runner that took place at the 40th World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon), held September 2–6, 1982, at the Hyatt Regency Chicago in Chicago, Illinois. The discussion was made into an article, titled A Chitown Talkathon. The depth of their discussions was incredibly impressive; especially considering that the only source materials they had–besides seeing Blade Runner in the theatre–was reading what materials were released in magazines at the time. There was no internet. And the VHS video wasn't released until the following year. There were things mentioned that I had not thought of. And I used to moderate a Blade Runner fan forum, so I've seen it all–at least, I thought I had. The article was divided between the first two issues of CITYSPEAK. The first half of the article covered such topics as their first impressions of the film, comparing and contrasting the film and the novel, what the film critics overlooked in the movie, the little details–hidden gems–found throughout the scenes, and their assessments of some of the characters–among other things. However, they too declined to be interviewed. Or, maybe it was that they simply couldn't remember much from the discussion since it was so long ago.

My search for Pat Nussman, who wrote the short fan-fiction titled, La Belle Dame Sans Merci, I am saddened to report, found that she had died in 2003.
I reached Anne Elizabeth Zeek. She assembled the last CITYSPEAK issue–the Special Edition. She shared some details about Sara Campbell, and was very, very glad to find that her name is still remembered. They were roommates in NYC from September of 1982 until her death.

I also reached Rosemary Edghill, who finished the prep of CITYSPEAK for the press after Sara's death. In 1988, she dedicated her book, Two of a Kind: An English Trifle, "To Anne Elizabeth Zeek and Sara Campbell: Jacks or better."

And I had an enlightening, lengthy conversation with Eric Larson. Eric has been in fandom since 1980, attending 3 to 4 conventions a year. But what he is most known for are his panels and talks on film and sci-fi media topics. His knowledge and interest in film marketing and design were always brought on with fun quips and odd little stories that amuse and delight fans. And that has certainly helped with our interview here.

And, there was one more person that I wanted to interview most of all. That was Rose Arnold. Eric Larson knew how to get in touch with her and said he’d contact Rose on my behalf. However, her health was in decline at that time. Then, in April of 2009, she died.

Some folks claimed to have the other CITYSPEAK issues in storage and said they'd get them for me. That's what was really holding up this article from being released. I recorded the interview I had with Eric over the telephone and typed out all the discussions we had. However, after a few more emails to the parties claiming to have the issues, I still had no response. So, rather than sit on what I had, (the interview, Anne Elizabeth's note, and an article by Sara), I decided to present what I had now.

CITYSPEAK, to me, represents more than just a fanzine. Besides it being an integral part of Blade Runner fandom history–spearheading the fandom long before it achieved its cult status–it also represents the history of fanfiction itself. It was an early generation of fanfiction writers before the advent of the World Wide Web. They'd meet in person, talk over the telephone, and send letters via the post. It was an underground fannish activity that produced usually no more than a hundred copies of each issue, and was spread primarily by word of mouth or through a friend of a friend. It was a world I knew nothing about before the internet.

It is tempting to speculate how far Sara Campbell could have gone with her writing career. At present, she is known best for her articles, stories, and poetry on Blade Runner. And I believe that she would have wanted the CITYSPEAK issues to be freely available over the internet.

As she duly noted in the first issue, "CITYSPEAK is an amateur, non-profit publication." It would be of disservice to the Blade Runner fandom–let alone to the writers–if the stories, poems, and articles in this fanzine were to remain in the storage bins of the privileged few. So, I'd like KippleZone to be the CITYSPEAK athenaeum–a bookshelf containing the fanzine issues, the work of its contributors, and a resource free to all to read.

The article features an interview with Eric Larson, and some words from Anne Elizabeth Zeek and Rosemary Edghill.

This CITYSPEAK revisit is far from being complete. I’ve only the first issue to share and discuss at this time. So, consider this a work in progress–CITYSPEAK Revisited 1.0.

This article has raised more questions than answers. But, hopefully, this will spur those in the know to come forth and share the remaining issues of CITYSPEAK–an integral part of Blade Runner fandom history–with the rest of us.

The link to the article -> CITYSPEAK Revisited


~ Craig

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Humanistic Perspective

As a child, I had to know everything about everything. Where did we come from? How did we get here? Why are we here? Of course, I was given answers to those questions–and then some. But I sensed that there was something more than what I was told. So I did what any other child with an unbridled curiosity would do–take it all in with a degree of skepticism and a healthy dose of imagination. And as a result of this, I developed a keen sense of observation about life and the people around me.

Then, in September of 1980, I was introduced to something that would influence my way of thinking and my life.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Gone Writing!

The time has come for me to limit the distractions some. There are a few projects that I need to finish up so that I can get back to work on the Gray Locke series. As much as I love perusing the world wide web, I'm afraid it does prevent me from getting anything accomplished in a timely manner.

For the curious --
  • I am finishing up a screenplay based on a story that a friend and I wrote. (It is for an independent stop-animation flick)
  • I also need to finish an introduction and list of questions for an interview I am conducting on two fellow writers.
  • Then, I have an article that I started a while back for a fan-fiction website that I'd like to go over again and tweak, and hopefully post that up.
Amidst all this hectic activity, I have also been debating whether or not to start work on a book of illustrated poems, or should I get on to the next Gray Locke book -- after I finish the above-mentioned projects. So, stay tuned for my progress!


~ Craig