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.