Why I Want To Become a Writer.

Sounds like a silly thing an adult to write about. You would imagine that this sort of a subject belongs in some sixth grade English class. But after reading some of the comments in writing groups on social media I find a lot of people don’t have a clue why they want to write. Some said it is because they can’t find a story interesting enough so they think they can come up with one of their own that is better. Others think it is an easy way to fame and fortune and good marketing. And then, there are the ones who think, “Well, gosh, I have a really good story and people will think so too”.

I have to admit I fall into that last group. But, even though I’m a realist, I still believe people will enjoy what I create. Why?

Because storytelling is part of what makes us human beings. It’s in our nature and has been part of us since the time we gathered around the fire back in our hunter-gatherer days. Some of us like it and get better at it than others. For example, I see a pile of snow after a snowplow had come through and I imagine mountains and a valley and the people who live there. I see a forest and imagine what forest would be like on other worlds, what creatures live within it, who would visit it and why? I see the advancements in science and I imagine not a dystopian, post-apocalyptic world but one open to numerous, promising possibilities. Most of all, I see a good story and I imagine what it would be like to share it with an interested audience.

That is why I want to be a writer, to find my audience, to tell stories, and if on the way I become wealthy and famous, well…

The 4 Categories of Star Wars Fans

All 9 of the “Skywalker” saga not including the side “Star Wars” story movies.

I love all sci-fi from books to movies to tv series so there are times like these where I can step back and watch what makes a “true fan” of a particular franchise.
As an observer, I find that ‘Star Wars’ fans fall into 4 categories that have a similarity to religious divisions.

They are as follows,


1. Those that love the original 3 (as shown in the theater) movies and read the books as canon. They don’t like the later movies (especially the ‘Phantom Menace’ and ‘The Last Jedi’) and had a stroke when “The Mouse” took over.

2. Those that love all 6 movies from Lucas (including the digitally remastered), read the books as canon. They feel a little weird about ‘The Phantom Menace’ and hate ‘The Last Jedi’. They feel apprehensive about “The Mouse”.

3. Those that love all 9 movies plus the side stories (‘Rogue Squadron’ ‘Solo’), love ‘The Mandalorian’, have never read any of the books, feel J. J. Abrams has done okay, and are open to see what “The Mouse” does as long as they don’t ruin it (whatever that means).

4. And those that love all things ‘Star Wars’ -the movies, the t.v.shows, the games, the merch, EVERYTHING. They have even gone to Disney World to see Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.


Of course, there are those that overlap and just like religious fanatics, the most conservative of zealots are the most vocal.

And don’t get me started on the ‘Star Trek’ fans and their Paramount/Bad Robot/CBS divisions.

Star Trek: Discovery First Episode, ‘Brother’

Who needs movies when Disco with its special effects and script are going to be this good! Glad to see more of the bridge crew and development of Saru and Tilly. After the seriousness of the 1st season, it’s good to see some lightheartedness (“cry like a baby tribble in a kill zone” 🤣 ). Anson Mount as Captain Chris Pike-👍Good job overall! 👏 We’re looking forward to the rest of the season.

Scoobynatural!

scoobynatural

 (Image courtesy of Entertainment Weekly and The CW)

 

Tonight on the CW at 8 pm/ 7pm central is the crossover episode I’ve been waiting for since I first there was the possibility it could happen. ‘Scoobynatural’! Yep, that’s right folks. The venerated cartoon classic from the 70’s will be coupled together with the series ‘Supernatural’ in some freakish impossible way that can only happen to the Winchester brothers. Dean (Jenssen Ackles @JensenAckles), Sam (Jared Padalecki @jarpad) and Castiel (Misha Collins @mishacollins) all star in the show along with Scooby, Shaggy, Freddy, Daphne, and Velma. I’m as giddy and excited as a little school girl waiting for her parents to bring home the puppy she saw at the pet store and wanted it so bad. Yeah, like that.

Briefly, because that’s all we have, after Dean purchases a tv for his “Man Cave” at the Men of Letters bunker he, Sam and Castiel are transported into the animated world of ‘Scooby-Doo’. The Winchesters figure that this is a scheme by the Trickster to torment them (if you don’t follow the show just trust me when I say that, yeah, this something he would do) and believe that the only way out is to finish the storyline of the cartoon episode. Dean, the ‘Scooby-Doo’ aficionado takes lead thinking he recognizes the mystery to be solved. So, the three of them meet up with the Scooby Gang (Dean writing off the bucket list by finally meeting his lifelong dream girl, Daphne) and they help along trying to solve the mystery. Except, as if things can’t get any weirder, this is not that Dean, or anyone, remembers and now they are as clueless as the local law enforcer. 

The others starring in the show as voices are Grey (DeLisle) Griffin as Daphne, Kate Micucci as Velma, Frank Welker as Scooby and Freddy, and (drum roll please) Mathew Lillard doing what he has been done very well for years, Shaggy. It is written by ‘Supernatural’ seasoned writers Eric Kripke (creator/producer of the show), James Krieg and Jeremy Adams. It is directed by another ‘Supernatural’ veteran, writer, producer, director Robert Singer.

As of this posting, the show premieres in a little less than two hours. I’m already silencing my phone, getting dinner ready, and making sure, for the fifth time today, that the DVR is set to record so I can see it again. And again, and again. I also warned my friends, children, and ex-wife I’m running in ‘silent mode’ so “no one visits, calls, messaging unless someone is bleeding profusely and at the ER and even then, be near death”.  A little over the top? Well, at least I’m not locking my wife out -she’s a fan.

-A. M. Holmes

‘The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat’ X-Files Season 11, Episode 4 Review

The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat - YouTube (1)

I love the X-Files. I have been a fan of Chris Carter’s show since it first introduced us to Fox Mulder and Dana Scully back in the 90’s. So, when Carter decided to do a limited run I was more than enthusiastic about it. Now we’re into the second season of this limited run and I’ve yet to be disappointed. To me, some of best episodes are when the show doesn’t take itself seriously. ‘Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space’’, ‘The Post-Modern Prometheus’ and ‘Dreamland’ are my favorites because here is where you see Carter’s scriptwriting and direction of David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson at their best. ‘The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat’ X-Files Season 11, Episode 4 Review I think will join the ranks of Classic X-File Episode.

I won’t give up too much because it’s best when you don’t expect it. It starts with Mulder returning from a relaxing session of “Sasquatching” to find someone signaling him for a meeting a la Deepthroat. Mulder intrigued as to who would have signaled him this way meets Reggie Something in the FBI’s underground parking lot. Reggie then begins to explain that there is a conspiracy being perpetrated by the sinister “They” to erase objects and him from history. As proof, he asks Mulder about The Twilight Zone “Martian” episode. Reggie then approaches Scully with the same concern and citing a gelatin confection from her childhood as proof. What follows is an exposition involving the Mandela Effect (or is that the “Mengele Effect”?). On the way, we discover the origins of the X-Files, the possible existence of alternate universes (or not), who They are (actually more like ‘is’) and are given the definitive proof of extraterrestrial life (including the answers to everything) done in a way that comments on our society today.

There, I gave very little away. You can see it on Xfinity, YouTube or Hulu. Now, go watch before it disappears and all that remains is this review of what was actually a ‘Fringe’ episode.

-A. M. Holmes

“It Was a Dark and Stormy Night…”

1

Author note: Some beginnings just start badly.

“It was a dark and stormy night…”, so began Niles Steinberger’s latest literary effort making it the fifty-eighth time he produced a piece to submit for publication that would most likely end up becoming his fifty-eighth rejection. This, along with the one hundred and sixteen short stories he had submitted to various periodicals, all returned, and the twenty-two thousand posted blogs he had on eighteen different online writer’s groups, none commented on, made Niles the unrecognized most prolific literary failure of all times. It wasn’t that his writing was bad, it was that he wrote badly. None of this, though, discouraged Niles from continuing to pen unexceptional prose. He was like the ant who was stuck at the bottom of a deep cup going around in circles and not realizing he wasn’t getting anywhere. Surprisingly, he was optimistic that someday he would produce a winner, a story that will resonate with readers and finally give him his first break.

Niles imagined himself doing massive book signings and guest appearances on popular talk shows. He had even gone so far as to practice imaginary interviews with his cat, Mister Muggles, playing the part of the host. In Niles’ dreams, the host would encourage their ongoing banter as the audience laughed at his lame jokes. He fantasized about his likeness not only featured in literary magazines but in popular publications like The New Yorker, Variety, the New York Times Sunday edition, and the cover of Entertainment Weekly. He envisioned the movies deals, the script consultations (he would write those too!), the film versions of his stories, and maybe even an Oscar for best picture, screenwriting, and book adaptation. He knew he would become famous AND RICH! All he had to do was to do something with those seven little words on his computer monitor. Unfortunately, the difficult part for Niles wasn’t that he didn’t know where to go beyond those seven words. His problem was that he just could not express it in a way that was… interesting.

Writing “uninterestingly” didn’t fully described his shortcomings. Nor did “unimaginatively” or “incoherently”. One way to describe the effect of Niles’ work would be that if given the choice between listening to a reading of one of his masterpieces of mediocrity or be waterboarded one would be inclined to choose the latter as the least painful method of torture. Another way to put it would be that if there was such a thing as intelligent design and God knew of Niles beforehand, He would have scrapped the entire idea of Creation, gone home, write a letter on why He had given up, entirely blaming Niles, of course, take out the .45 caliber He had hidden in a shoebox on the top shelf of His bedroom closet, and then proceed to blow His Divine Brains away. For example, “Fatima’s Fabulous Fancy- A Taliban Tale”, one of Niles’ most infamously tasteless and obnoxious submissions, would have been enough to justify the call for a jihad on Western civilization.

Yes, he was that bad.

“It was a dark and stormy night…”, he read it again to himself contemplating on what to say next. Finally, feeling an idea stirring in his mind he typed, “and the rain made a sound on the roof like the beat of a crazed heroin-addicted negro jazz drummer.” He stared at his computer monitor for a minute feeling quite satisfied with himself. He wasn’t sure what a “crazed heroin-addicted negro jazz drummer” sounded like but he was quite sure it probably sounded like rain falling on a roof. He leaned back on the wooden chair to stretch his legs and looked around the cluttered living room of his small home for more inspiration.

He once heard that Ray Bradbury had drawn inspiration for his stories in this manner so he tried to do the same. Scattered among the trash and stacks of magazines were pulp novels written by his favorite author and literary mentor Lance Kilright. The pulp novels had titles like ‘A Grape in the Shade’, ‘Of Moses and Hombres’, and, Niles’ personal favorite, ‘The Wasp Queen of Neptune’. ‘The Wasp Queen of Neptune’ was dear to him because it had the what he thought made a great story, adventure and sex. That the story lacked a coherent plot, was a grammatical nightmare, and plagued with many misspelled words didn’t trouble him at all because Niles believed it was just Kilright’s distinctive style. Most of Kilright’s critics had concluded that the book must have been written by a twelve-year-old, mentally retarded child. The rest never got past the acknowledgments.

Before his untimely death from a virulent venereal infection (he was in Thailand doing research for his next book, ‘The Yellow Slave Girl of Neptune’), Kilright had managed to publish 26 “Neptune” novels at a rate of three a year. His last novel, ‘The Yellow Slave Girl of Neptune’, was rushed into publication by Kilright’s publisher, Amalgamated Ace, so soon after his death that it wasn’t until the first, and only, edition that it was realized it was unfinished. ‘The Yellow Slave Girl of Neptune’ has the double distinction of being the only novel ever written to abruptly end in the middle of the story, as well as, going from “New Book” to “50% discount” to “Free Used Book” status in just under twenty-four hours.

The rest of the room was littered with empty food boxes, old yellow newspapers, and odd and ends of miscellaneous useless or broken objects stacked precariously on top of each other like a trash version of the stone formations found in the southwestern United States. It was the general flotsam of a lazy and disorganized mind and nothing there offered much inspiration. There was also an ashtray placed in a strategically by his mouse. It was filled with cigarette butts packed so closely it resembled a nicotine artichoke.

Niles didn’t really like smoking. He had heard that Lance Kilright was a connoisseur of cheap tobacco and wanted to emulate his hero. Kilright was also a heavy drinker, but anything stronger then soda-pop made Niles queasy. Niles suspected that even if Lance Kilright had been a bit more careful with his sexual escapades he would have eventually succumbed to lung cancer and cirrhosis of the liver. Stumped at not finding anything interesting he reached for his copy of ‘The Little Blue Book for Writers’.

Although it was blue, the reference book was neither little nor actually very helpful in writing. Anyone who hopelessly tried to decipher its 4224 pages of complicated cross references would soon be driven mad by the poor editing and the many typos. Even if you could understand how to navigate the complex key system it still wouldn’t help because it was not written in grammatically correct English. This was because it’s publishing house, Amalgamated Ace, used non-English speaking Malaysian editors in its publications. After one attempt, most of its users either would utilize it as a doorstop or a paperweight. Niles used it frequently for Kilright had endorsed it. Kilright was also a co-editor of the book and he frequently used it as a doorstop. Most of the time Niles couldn’t understand the intricate way the book was put together so he would open it to a random page and start reading.

This time he opened it to page 1153. It said, “write something of you familiar with.” Niles thought about it and even though he was familiar with a lot of things none of them were particularly interesting. He tried again, this time a bit closer to the end of the book on page 3212. “Right about something unexpected”. Niles pondered this. He wasn’t quite sure what this meant or how he could write about something unexpected he could be “right” about.

It was at this moment, right as he was developing one of those migraines he usually got whenever he used the massive tome, that he heard a knock on his front door. Startled out of his momentary state of torpor he got up from his chair and threaded his way through a path in the clutter. Another knock, a bit louder this time, shook the flimsy door. He opened the door and was greeted by two strangely dressed individuals on the other side. It had been raining heavily that night and the two short, gnome-like men dressed in what seemed like clown outfits were soaking wet. Despite their condition, both creatures bore the two biggest and most foolish grins that Niles had ever seen. His first thought was that they were lost Little People from a passing circus. Then he remembered that the circus hadn’t been through locally for several months.

There followed an awkward moment where the greeter and his guest weren’t sure what to say. Finally, the one on Niles’ right, in the red jacket with green ruffled shirt and yellow pantaloons said, “Greetings! Are we to assume that we are speaking to the owner of this humble, yet honorable home?”

“Ah… yes, yes you are,” answered Niles.

The two little men stared at each other and started to giggle like a pair of Catholic school girls.

The one on the left in the blue paisley blazer, pale green shirt and purple polka dotted pants then asked, “And may we also assume that you are the Niles Steinberger whose very house this is?”

“Ye-yes” answered Niles once again.

The two ridiculous creatures turned to each once more and giggled.

Niles, very confused over the whole thing then asked, “Um, okay, eh. So, who are you exactly and what do you want? If you’re here to sell something-”

“OH NO! Dear Sir, please, nothing of the kind,” said the one in the red jacket.

“No, really, we don’t mean to intrude, kind Sir,” said the other before continuing. “Let us introduce ourselves. My name is Toby Mackwire and this is my associate, Asher Kutchton and we represent the League of Terran Righters. LOTR for short.”

“WRITERS!”, said Niles with sudden surprise and enthusiasm. He supposed now that these two were part of some nearby convention, the kind he had heard about, a Something or Other-Con and that they had somehow heard of him. He remembered the blogs and postings and guessed that they must have read his stories. FANS! He thought. I have an online following! With a sudden renewed sense of excitement, he stepped aside and hurriedly invited his guest in from the cold rain. “Come in, come in!”

His two-diminutive guest entered still looking at Niles with their huge wide grins.

Once inside Niles embarrassingly looked at his messy living room and cleared a spot on a forlorn loveseat in a vain attempt to find a place in which to seat his guests. He decided to stack the papers and empty frozen meal boxes higher on a pile of trash that was already leaning too far to remain standing. For himself, Niles sat atop of where his coffee table had once had been. Something underneath let out a dying rasped sigh of relief as it settled. Once they all were seated there followed yet another awkward moment of silence.

Finally, the one who called himself Toby Mackwire broke the silence. “As I was saying, we are representatives of the LOTR and are here to address a long-neglected list of grievances concerning you.”

“Yes,” said the one called Asher Kutchton. “You see, it has come to our attention that your writing has had much influence in current events and that it’s time to attend to it properly.”

Could it be, Niles thought, that he was finally getting the recognition he was due?

“Wow,” said Niles, “I am truly surprised- honored that your League of…”

“Terran Righters.”

“…yes, writers, you believe I have that effect? Wow, I don’t know what to say.” He came up with an idea he thought was brilliant. “Maybe you can introduce me to your group? Can I give a little speech? Maybe an award can be presented?”

The two creatures looked at each other conspiratorially and giggled once more before the one called Asher pulled out what appeared to be a rather authentic looking and nasty alien pistol from the inside of his coat. He as pointing it at Niles.

“I don’t think you understand us, Mister Steinberger, we are not here to honor you. You see, we are from the future and here to kill you.”

Niles laughed nervously. Then he saw that they had stopped giggling and were dead serious.

Frightened, Niles jumped up and yelled, “THE FUTURE! TO KILL ME!”

“Yes, Mister Steinberger,” said Toby, “we are from the future and here to kill you.”

“But, but why?”

“You’re a danger and a menace,” said Asher. “You see, although you never published-”

“Never?”

“Never! Never published. But, enough of your works survived after the Great Holocaust of ‘63 that, after three hundred years had gone past, we were plagued with a rebellion insurgency inspired by your writings.”

“I’m an inspiration to a rebel movement?” Niles strangely heartened by the thought.

“It was their hatred of you that bound them together and inspired a two hundred years long bloody jihad …”

“Oh.”

“that plunged the entire human civilization into a thousand year long Dark Age …”

“Oh.”

“where billions died of war, famine, pestilence, and disease.”

“Oh.”

“So,” Toby continued, “we invented the time machine to go back and right that which had wronged us for, so long. We, League of Terran Righters, took an oath to remove this scourge from history and to end all the suffering before it begins!”

“I hope you understand it’s nothing personal,” added Asher.

Niles wasn’t sure what to make of all this.

“So, if you would please, Mister Steinberger,” said Asher as he still pointed his ugly gun at Niles, “stand over in that clear area by that bookcase and we can get this over.”

Niles got up not sure what else he could do. As he did so he accidentally bumped over a golf club that had been set into place to hold up a tall trash pile of dubious construction. What followed could only have been described as the most spectacular display of a chain reaction ever to be a witnessed. The tall pile of trash spilled over a pile of garbage which knocked over a stack of books that, in turn, spilled over on to a makeshift shelf of cinderblocks and planked wood which catapulted a jar full of golf balls across the room. One ball hit Asher square in the head and he fell along with his gun to the ground in front of a heavily jam-packed bookcase. Another ball hit Toby on the side of his head and he fell next to his partner. Yet another ball hit a stack of empty pizza boxes which once dislodged from their job of holding up several boxes of rejected manuscripts fell over in a crescendo of catastrophic proportion as it struck the heavy bookcase causing it to fall. When the dust finally cleared, Niles saw that the two diminutive men had been crushed to death.

When Niles finally recovered his senses his first thought was surprisingly not of panic. Instead, with the help of a shovel that he had kept around much like the golf club, he made a quick job of his two little problems. With the broken bodies buried safely in the garden, for he knew nobody in the present would miss them, he went to the kitchen to clean himself up and had a bite to eat out of a day-old, and rather dubious, Chinese food container.

He once again sat in front of his computer. This time, though, he had a clear idea of what he was going to write about. This time he knew what to say and how to express it. After all, he thought, didn’t ‘The Little Blue Help Book for Writers’ say, “Right about something unexpected”?

-A. M. Holmes