I always enjoy stuff like this. Also  always, I take the “you musts” of the interwebs with a pound of salt, because I firmly believe that every writer has their own unique way of doing their thing. If every person out in the wide, wide world with an insatiable itch to write tried to do every single aspect according to what someone says they must do, they’d likely lose their creative drives, along with portions great and small of their minds.

There’s an awesome infographic with daily word counts of famous authors, along with quotes about their process. Some of the low numbers are encouraging to less prolific writerly souls, while a couple are alarmingly over 10k. I’m not sure how anybody short of Superman could maintain 10k daily writathons long term. There’s not that much coffee or chocolate available to the average consumer to force a human body to keep pace with that schedule. Maybe human alien hybri– (Sorry. Loving the X-Files Revival a little too much.)

Still, it’s interesting to ponder the whys and hows and just how manys of such a diverse group of writers. I really like that the numbers are so diverse too. It’s obvious that each writing at their own pace worked out pretty well for these authors, with their instantly recognizable names.

http://writerswrite.co.za/the-daily-word-counts-of-39-famous-authors-1

Check out @CartBlanch’s Tweet: https://twitter.com/CartBlanch/status/689509958577065984

This tweeted pic contains some shocking rejection numbers of books by famous authors. As painful as it had to have been to keep going in the face of such disheartening discouragement, it’s incredibly encouraging to see it spelled out so starkly that perseverance really does mean something. These are authors we know through their books and love for the life they gave to unforgettable characters and stories. I’m keeping this where I can easily see it, so the inevitable days of rejection and the stress it can bring won’t sting so badly or so long as they would without the reminder of the amazing company all serious writers keep in the struggle to be seen and heard and thrilled to and cherished.

@CartBlanch’s Tweet

I am past weary of endless tamperi–er, tinkering with old movies and TV shows. The ones I never liked to start with, I don’t care about now. At all. Anything I loved, I like to remember as if it’s been caught in amber, not rebooted, remade, or just plain ruined. As someone who loves writing feature length original screenplays, in a reboot everything old world, I mourn the dearth of original anything anymore and get irritated when Twitter blows up with excitement and raving over whatever’s old is new again…again.

So it was when Terminator Genisys reared its probably ugly head. Oh. No. Not. Again.

I actually love the Terminator franchise…s so much that I watch it all. I find something to love about whatever they do to it, but I’m pretty sure by now that I’ll never really get over the death of Linda Hamilton’s iconic, ripped, half (only half?) crazy, one handed shotgun wielding Sarah Connor, when she was a mere memory in Terminator 3. Sure it was fun watching Doctor Silberman jibbering over a Terminator again, but not as much as it would have been if he’d spotted the preapocalyptic warrior woman stalking toward him with the future in her haunted gaze. I tolerated Lena Headey, who actually did bring her own take to Sarah Connor that wasn’t bad at all. She just wasn’t the Sarah Connor I wanted to watch. Terminator Salvation wisely had no Sarah Connor at all, except as a memory briefly, and was better for it. Then Genisys comes roaring in, with a new, new Sarah Connor, who thankfully looks nothing like a certain dragon mother. Too much confusion is a bad thing, you know. Usually.

One thing Genisys accomplished right away was proving what a talented actress Emilia Clarke is. I still didn’t like there being yet another incarnation of Sarah Connor. In fact, I hated the first half hour of Terminator Genisys. It was seeming like a weird rehash mishmash of everything that had come before. I couldn’t understand why they were covering such familiar ground and in such a bizarre way.

Slowly…and I do mean slowly…I started to get it. Ideas and imagery and people started to emerge from the mishmash. Things started to coalesce from a whirlpool of confusion. Hey, this thing is a whole new movie!

And then Pops came on the scene and I started to fall in love with Terminator Genisys. I’ve always loved Schwarzenegger in all his Terminator versions, and Pops was no exception. He revealed himself to be the perfect bookend to his original relentless hunter killer cyborg. Extrapolated from the kinder, gentler, funnier fatherly version who shepherded John Connor through many a crisis, Pops was the grandpa terminator of every little girl’s dreams.

Well, maybe not, but he was a fine protector and family substitute for an orphaned child Sarah. Her fierce devotion to and faith in him was touching, in a sea of deceit and violence and pain.

Having Genisys be an operating system serving as a Trojan Horse for Skynet’s inception of a foothold toward world domination was chilling genius. Our uber connected, on all the time relationship with our beloved technology made it a creepily realistic possibility. Possibly even a probability. I just read a collection of Elon Musk’s concerns about how fast AI can learn and the dangers that may lurk within our thirst for knowledge, invention, and whiz bang coolness. The real life potential of what ifs when it comes to technology makes the premise of Skynet bursting forth from a decision to connect too many things at once downright scary. Something like that turns science fiction onto a science/science fiction/horror hybrid. In some small way it’s a new kind of movie, in keeping with new kinds of thoughts and things we can hardly keep up with.

Something the Terminator movies have always done is pit the minds and hearts and souls of ordinary human beings against the heartless soulless minds of machines that always have the fatal flaw that they are not us. Will they ever be? That’s the question that haunts the thinking person into his dreams and entertainment. Terminator Genisys turned out to be an exciting, terrifying and ultimately satisfying venture into territory both familiar and alien in its own particular brand of what ifs.

I think what ultimately saved Genisys for me was that it reinvented itself so thoroughly that it really was a new movie, but a new movie with an old friend in the form of Pops to tie it into what I wanted to at least be reminded of. Overall it really is a good reminder that a reboot can be a good thing, with the right mix of old and new.

Terminator Genisys Official International Trailer #1

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St. Augustine is another place I wanted to see because of books. Eugenia Price wrote historical novels that brought times and places to vivid life. Reading one of her novels was like giving her permission to invade your mind and show you a movie there. I’ve been to locations from several of her novel series and thrilled to every sighting of something familiar.

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In St. Augustine it was this house that I desperately wanted to see. It was featured in the novel Maria and looks just as I’d imagined as I read. The real life woman who inspired this novel lived in what is known as “The Oldest House”. I stood in her bedroom, and stared at the huge bed decorated with carvings of banana leaves until I had it memorized. What an amazing experience for a lover of books.

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The old fort known as the Castillo de San Marcos also figured in Price’s writing. Its beautiful seaside setting is enough to draw visitors, but that beauty is greatly enhanced by a reader’s thoughts while touring it.

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Palm trees, the ocean, history around every corner, and the opportunity to walk where favorite characters who were also real people walked make St. Augustine a place of wonder on many levels.It shines like a Spanish treasure on the shore of so many peoples’ dreams.

I thought Tomorrowland looked intriguing from the trailer, but had no solid idea what it was actually like. Obviously, there was a super cool futuristic world called Tomorrowland that George Clooney knew way more about that he was letting on…until he launched his bathtub…. That was  pretty much all I had to go on. Oh, and a teenage girl kept going there in flashes that eventually led her to the traveling bathtub. Okay, so I like the combination of cool and quirky!

From these images I had a vague idea that it was light and frothy and fun. And it was in part. Until it started getting dark and still and thought provoking. I had read somewhere that some people didn’t like the message of the movie. For quite some time I forgot all about that. Then the message kicked in, and I was a tiny bit annoyed that my frothiness had suddenly become heavy and deep.

As the movie played out, though, I became absorbed in its depth and the clever way it made me think so much, right in the middle of my presumed popcorn movie. The thing that rose above all else was that I found myself agreeing with the message. It seems all too heart breakingly, disturbingly plausible that humanity as a lumped together whole would be vulnerable to the power of suggestion, all wrapped up in technology and fun and disguised portents of doom. The more plausible something is, the more thinking about it can make you squirm. So gee, thanks, Mouse House, for interrupting my fun, futuristic adventure with…gasp!…you know…thinking! How dare you? How dare you not?

The weird little kid I used to be, who dreamed of the stars and the whole wide world and the future, never outgrew all of that. I’m one of those bizarre people who actually enjoys thinking. Call it a hobby of mine. Movies like Tomorrowland hit me right where I live, turning my head inside out when I’m not paying attention and then leaving me long after the credits roll to fix that…by thinking until my brain hurts.

In the meantime, while I’m trying to absorb what I’ve been watching, they slip a feelgood ending in there. It doesn’t get any better than that, for my movie watching sweet spot.

So, yes, thank you, dear Mouse House. For the deep thoughts, the hopeful finale…and the pleasure of watching George Clooney drudge through his own unfulfilled life, then navigate from the mundane through dystopia, and on into an interdimensional dreamscape of what just might be to come.

Tomorrowland turned out to be a good movie to watch Christmas weekend, with Doctor House, sans cane, Grinching his way out of our hearts. It even had a little girl not unlike Tiny Tim, learning hard truths a child should not be forced to face…if they were really a child….

If you’ll excuse me now, I feel a sudden urge to binge watch The Walking Dead, Terminator movies in all their incarnations….

Tomorrowland Official Trailer # 1

Wanted to share a beautiful moment from my favorite Christmas movie. Holiday Inn has humor and love, heartache and joy, Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire….and this classic Christmas song that manages to be even more beautiful in the context of this scene. My favorite part is when he plays the notes on the little bells with his pipe. It makes me smile just thinking about it.

Merry Christmas.

Bing Crosby and Marjorie Reynolds sing White Christmas in Holiday Inn

As the year winds down, I wrestle with a science fiction short story I started writing on a whim. Two words popped into my head, and I thought it would be fun to write a spontaneous story around them. It was fun at first. Then it became somewhat interesting. At that point I started losing interest and sort of tried to ignore it. Note to self:  Ignoring a story is like the proverbial red cape fluttering anywhere in a bull’s field of vision. Said story immediately paws the ground, raises a cloud of impossible to ignore dust…and charges.

I tend to think of my writer’s brain as an autonomous corner of my regular, everyday brain. The autonomous corner awakens from a half alert doze upon the slightest provocation, shoves the sprawling ponderings of movies, music, and the latest irresistible ice cream flavor back into their proper places. It then proceeds to go about its devious plotting. 

At the moment it’s still plotting away. Those two words that inspired what I thought would be a simple story have tangented themselves into a complex existential exploration of the nature of humanity, and what similarities and differences may lie along the bridge between naturally born people, those grown in an artificial environment, and entirely artificial intelligence.

Sometimes, when I look as if I’m doing nothing connected with writing at all, I’m actually working on something complex that takes time and thought and staring into space. Good thing I have that autonomous brain corner to do the heavy lifting, while the rest of me is busy with holiday stuff.

Hopefully, it’ll be ready to be finished soon. Having it make the leap from brain to fingertips to computer screen would be a great way to start the new year.

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