Monday, September 6, 2010

The hot's for summer is cooling fast

Write? bake? both. Add caption
Those last sweltering days of August that baked my garden dry, had me longing for a cool dip in the pool at Forrest Village, or frosty Margarita or both. Then fall cooly drops in the first week of September and the cookbooks are hauled out. Time to put on a crock pot of soup, stew or spaghetti sauce. 

Baking a cheese cake is time consuming but worth it when the weather cools and appetites for all things delicious increases. So is the compulsion to clean, can or stock up on supplies. 

Instinct rules the writer too. The calender page turns and so does the impetus to work. Time to get down to business even if you're a writer whose been beavering away all summer. 

Perhaps it's just the years of schooling kicking in like a familiar habit that drops off when the temperature climbs.  Inspiration pours out onto the blank screen almost effortlessly. 

Are the words steller? will they win any prizes? perhaps not, let them come anyway. Write because it's the season for gathering chestnuts, those that drop from the tree and those that are harvested from a hundred lazy summer days and nights reading books; swimming laps under the stars or listening to the buzzing of the feilds alive with the serenade of cicadas.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Dining on Death

Dining on Death.

A few years ago when my children were smaller and tucked safely into bed I decided to while away the luxury of free time one evening by settling into the sofa to watch some television; my shows, uninterrupted by spouse or kids.
I flipped threw the evenings offerings: Two, a show about twin brothers; one a serial killer, the other twin running from place to place trying to avoid being blamed for crimes he didn’t commit. Another station featured Millennium a show about a rogue psychic FBI agent who also tracked serial killers. Yet another station featured the stories of real serial killers, from the past and those who still kill among us.
I continued to flip the channels. There was a show about the sex crimes unit of a police station. Several police procedurals shows actually dominated the dial. I had little to choose from that didn’t involve the violent death or abuse as the plot of every story.
Oh there were the mindless sitcom fare; but mostly I noticed that if you include the evening news hour, we are literally dining on death for entertainments sake. Gnawing on the bones of life, filling our minds with the stories littered with mutilation and murder, simply to while away our leisure time.
With that realization, something in me had shifted. At first I thought it was the hormone prolactin that had softened my brain. Nursing mothers have these prolactins coursing through their veins triggering the letdown sensation in the breasts when the milk flows. So I wonder if the chemicals in my mother’s brain soften my thinking so that images of death, the abuse of men, women, and children being used to drive the plot of a story became repugnant? Is it the programming or biology at work?
My loathing for the blood soaked path that leisure entertainment was taking me culminated in the episode of a police procedural where the detectives were to solve the murder of a young pregnant woman whose fetus was cut out of her. I didn’t watch. I decided that we have collectively lost our minds and that 15th century painter; Hieronymus Bosh was running the asylum from the astral realm.
Our fascination with the dark side has always been with us from Beowulf to Bram Stoker’s Dracula. But these works and films made from horror were meant to educate us. It didn’t take long for the blood letting in film to begin to stimulate and fascinate the viewer. That rush of fear, adrenaline coursing through the body, is addictive.  It appealed to the same part of our brain that causes us to slow down as we pass an accident; our come out of our house when we hear a fire engine siren wailing as the truck roars down our block
Thinking back to that nights dismal choice of television shows I thought I could trace it’s crass beginnings to the 70’s, a decade that spawned slasher films.
I couldn’t bring myself to sit through one at the movies. It wasn’t just the blood, the screaming all contrived for entertainments sake; most of the story was stupid and the acting wretched.  Much of the movies were the same. A group of teenagers with the occasional movie about a disparate group of adults being terrorized and picked off one by one until a hero and possibly a heroine is left. The audiences that fed on these films were mostly teenagers. But they grew up. I suspect the audience craved more and bigger thrills and chills as they aged.
This escalation of gore plateaued in the 80’s and 90’s with movies that kept reinventing ways to kill, with chainsaws, nail guns, and many, many rounds of ammunitions. On TV or in the movies you can see people die or be tortured to death in as many ways and many times as there are writers and directors. Immolation anyone? Not only did the audience love it, but the characters in the stories did too, homicide made justifiable through revenge.
The other popular police procedural that spawned clones is the CSI series. If the viewing public is bored with watching crimes being committed it can now teleport virtually into the body as it’s being destroyed. Through the miracle of computer generated special effects. No longer satisfied with externals we can now travel the course of a fatal gun shot as the bullet penetrates the body, In living color though tissue, vessels and organs.
We are also treated to endless laboratory scenes where evidence is processed, both fibers metals and flesh and all the residue of flesh, particularly sperm and vaginal secretions where they look for sperm.
These clinical scenes serve to distance the viewer from the dead person who served as the plotline of the story. How they died and who raped, tortured and or killed them is turned into a test tube investigation. The viewer can watch as the technicians make practical use of the blood and guts and prints to solve the crime. 
In the end it’s all rendered digestible. If you watch enough of these stories they become the only stories being told. The only way to tell any kind of story in fact has to be through some kind of death, tragic, accidental or criminal.
When a new show debuts, say Criminal minds, a series about the Behavioral Science section of the FBI, the feature often focuses on the mind of the criminal. The creators of these kinds of show treat serial killers like rock stars. What makes them tick is now an interesting piece of entertainment. Is it know wonder these aberrant human beings love attention? They certainly obtain just that by being featured weekly on television.
I was in the gym recently eves dropping on a conversation between two 30 something soccer moms. Their conversation revolved around kids, house, husband just as I was about to climb onto to the elliptical trainer I over heard one woman say to the other, “I’m not going anywhere tonight, the new season of Dexter starts” where by her companion queries: “Isn’t that the show about a serial killer who kills bad guys?” “Yeah, and he usually cuts off their limbs, you know while there still alive, so they can suffer…” I was horrified that these two young mothers were dining on death, cheering the creative talents of a serial killer; hero or anti-hero who relishes his job.
We are not sparing our children but cultivating in them, through cartoons, the taste for blood and righteous violence.  I remember seeing the Jungle Book, a Disney cartoon in the theater when I was a child. During the climax of the the man eating Tiger,  Shere Kan is chased away by Mowgli , the boy hero of the cartoon. In subsequent Disney stories. Lion King, for example, fratricide is introduced when Scar kills Mufasa, driving away his son and nephew cub, Simba. A grown up Simba later returns to kill his uncle Scar. This is not Hamlet for children..
Ironically much adult backlash resounded with the introduction of a cheaply produced children’s show called Barney featuring the ubiquitous purple dinosaur of that name. Preschoolers loved the show and the simple theme song. Adults and almost everyone over the age of 8 wanted him dead. Why such a violent hatred for a creature singing about love and friendship?
How does it serve children to whose brains are not fully developed enough to process complex action and it’s consequences, to watch endless stories laced with cruelty and murder
“I love you, you love me, we’re a happy family…” is the entire emotional and psychological world for children 4 and under.
In this the age of remade movies I think of one film whose moral message stays with me still. Cape Fear, staring Gregory Peck in the old version and Nick Nolte. The movie is about a lawyer (played by Peck and Nolte respectively), who’s being stalked by an ex con he defended when the con is released from prison.
The confrontation between the two ends differently in each film. Gregory Peck’s character has the ex con played by Robert Mitchem  on the ground, his hands around the man’s throat (or is it a gun to his head) The ex con is goading him; “do it, go ahead, do it.” Gregory Peck’s character hesitates. No he says if I do this, then I’ll become like you or no better than you”
             In the Nolte updated story, the convict is threatening both the wife and the daughter with emotional and psychological violence. This causes lawyer Nolte’s character to respond with equal violence, killing the convict.
The first version of the story had greater impact on me than the second. Perhaps it’s because I don’t want to become like them. I don’t want to feel jazzed up from killing or punching out someone no matter how loathsome they appear.
A while back, actress Kim Bassinger lost a lawsuit for pulling out of the film, Boxing Helena, breaking her contract. She objected to the story she was to star in. The story was subsequently made staring some other actress. But the loathsome plotline that offended her sensibilities was maintained. On the video box cover, the film is said to be about a doctor so obsessed with a woman that he amputates her limbs and keeps her in a box. I can barely type this idea much less pay to see such a thing in the theatre or rent it from the video store.
Follow that movie with the slew of Quentin Tarentino movies that feature so called hi brow intellectual violent satire or Sin City, a movie about an imaginary world/ underworld taken from the comic book of the same name, where the colors came from the blood spilled through out as the characters massacre each other and the conclusion I’ve come to is this: our diet of depravity is numbing our minds and hearts to the real life atrocity that goes on in the world.
Why do we watch? The Greeks had actors in plays so that the audience could empathize with the emotions being expressed, acted out. Who today wants to empathize again and again with fear and horror? What happens to the body/ mind neural pathways hard wired to receive these emotions in their chemical form? Do we burn out our neurons or build more to receive bigger and bigger charges? What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger; Eleanor Roosevelt’s haunting reminder is now a warning. Are we in fact creating areas of the brain that craves depravity in all its escalating gore, for mere amusement?
Now I think I understand why the Roman’s built the coliseum.
What would I like to see instead? Well, first of all I’d like to see television shows where building something, creating a new civilization or discovering one is the main thrust of the story. There’s plenty of drama to be had with out dropping a corpse into the midst. Instead, try creating anything from nothing as every author staring at a blank screen or every artist staring at a blank canvas or block of clay does and you discover quite quickly how much blood sweat and tears go into a project. I’d rather let my mind feast on that.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Hot Writes

Good Saturday morning. Soon to come my experience on trying to update my brain to accept this new technology. Must admit that procrastination does have it's merits. Look at my first posting, created 3 years ago.
Now though the tweaks made to google blogger have allowed me to seamlessly cut and paste from my word documents in to this space.
Blogging is shifting from being less important as a social tool and more of an online journal.
Ask yourself this, after a decade of LOOK AT ME writing on the net, do you really want every thought, feeling or discontent in the public domain?
Summer time, and the living is easy as the Gershwin song goes, take a line from it and slow down to think about what you publish before it goes out there into the wide, world web.
Take a swim, bake some cookies, (when the sun goes down or before it comes up) and pull out that journal. Write by hand. See what falls onto the page. Put the garbage there. Save your finest thoughts, feelings for the hungry public. Or not.
In the last days of my workshops some people showed up sans laptop forcing them to borrow pen, paper and remember how to scribble things down when the prompts were tossed out.
What a revelation. Writing by hand actually slowed me down, I had to of the participants offered. Try taking your coffee and your journal out back for a few minutes in the morning and wake up to the birds an squirrels squabbling over the feeders while you sip your brew and have a go at the blank page. Peace

Saturday, March 6, 2010

From: >Yo, what are you lot doing with my money? Put the people who do the work, do it well, back on air. Stop wasting my tax dollars on interviewing new people. I've cleaned up the language for this text. I'm from Detroit and would love to tell you all what I really think but who would that serve? Give Nancy back her job. Il n'as pas logic. And you owe people an explanation of what went wrong. This is not kosher. I'm not buying the ratings story.

I list many CBC radio programs on my blog and face book page that spark creative thinking and writing. Spark; The Next Chapter; Writer's and Co; Ideas; The Current; and Gian Gomeshis' program. I need my news hour. Climb out of your limited thinking, leave the box behind. Rethink this decision.

Peace, Trudy Kerman

CEO Freelancer's Ink

Friday, March 5, 2010

Oscar bunk

I'm ready for my close up Mr. DeMill. Why all the hype? I don't get it. Why would I sacrifice 3 hours of my life I will never get back, in front of my TV, watching people weep and blather and run off to a drunken Bacchanal which I'm not invited to. Nobody sending me a limo, or lending me finery or giving me free swag, which is another word for expensive junk that 99.9% of the world's population is doing without, some just fine. Isn't it enough I'm shelling out $10. of my blood sweat and tears, earned income to keep these guys in designer duds and luxury homes? Truth be told I was one of the slaves of Oscar night back in the day when my friend and movie buff, Marlene, lived a couple of doors down. She'd brew a pot of coffee and we'd smoke cigarettes and sup java, commenting on the speeches; clothes movies good and bad we've seen. That was fun. My favorite Oscar show when Ben Aflick and Mat Damon won for best original screenplay. Writers everywhere rose up and cheered from their couches. Plus they took their mom's to the after parties. Love them then still an fan now. But since Marlene's decamped for Toronto, and we've moved to a bungalow, I don't have time to watch. Unless there's laundry to fold. Now my son, on the other hand will be glued to the set. He's an actor and someday, perhaps maybe there, in the audiance holding his breath while the ballot is being read. I hope I'm in the seat next to him. I'll even buy my own dress.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Slogging through blogging

This is not easy. Go to the help pages and then to Blogger buzz. Look at the signitures. Google blogging is for software engineers. I say that because a lot of the people posting the anseres in the help section are html experts. And the Bogger buzz reminds me of the neighborhood coffee joint where the tech heads, unwashed artists or other specialty groups of people hung out to speak in code amongst themselves, sounding like another language altogether to the average passer- by. I thought blogging was suppose to be easy, fun and inclusive. Blogging is suppose to be the conduit by which I enter the information highway. I feel like I'm driving around in circles, doubling back trying to find the entry to get on.
Being a visual gal, I wanted an electronic spot that I looked forward to seeing every monring or evening as There are so many problems writing in this little box that are not addressed. For example, I have the font color but not the font. And spell check nicely highlights my misspelled words in yellow. I reach for my handy Collins gem mini dictonary and look up engineer. Publishers take head, at this speed paper backs are going no where.
What is that serenity prayer? something about accepting what I can't change? Note to self, don't blog when the full moon is on the wax or on the wane....Owooo

Monday, February 22, 2010

Of Bloggers and things

I set up a blog last week only to realize I already had a blog out there in cyber space. The inaugual blog is titled TRUDYKPLACE. For no other reason than that’s what popped into my head when I came to the question part on the fool proof, Get Blogging site at Google Blogger. Com, asking, what do you call your blog?

Why am doing this? I thought that as a computer owning, cyber space prowling writer that I should join the 21 centuries Guttenberg revolution and put my opinions, ideas and poetry out there; for the masses. I would thus join in with my compatriots of computed thoughts in a kind of global discussion about anything that struck my fancy.

How wonderful for me. I’m a writer and a blogger. However what it looks like folks is a lot of hot air blown into the web soon to be forgotten not only for those who stumble upon it but for the ubiquitous author who created it.

Just as that old cliché goes; no good deads go unpunished; I thought I’d begin my journy as an electronic columnist by creating a place where I could sit down at the computer; write and perhaps share it with a few readers. I could pass on to the world at large my news and views and get the daily due dillagence of writing off to a productive start. After all wrtiers write; right?

Well, this week past happened to be spring break. I had a whole week to edit my novel or paint the house. Instead my good friend encouraged me to start a blog. “It’s actually the bones of a website. You don’t realy need to know how to build a website to blog and it actully looks like a web page. You’d have a forum for your work.” She was convincing.

I thought about the shelf full of yet unpublished stories and essays that would some how transpose themselves into a book deal once some hungry editor saw my stories gleaming like the holy grail in the eather net. I had visions of JK Rowling like success with literary repartee between me and Oprah, dancing in my head.

So I went to and followed all the steps to create Freelancer’s Ink. That’s the clever name of my company on my business cards. I’m an editor and have business cards to prove it.

Imaging my surprise when Trudykplace popped up alongside my new blog like an abandoned car. Other than the title, it was a blank page in cyber space waiting for content. Oy. I remember creating this blog last year where it’s been languishing for lack of any content whatsoever much less my latest insight on surviving winter’s ninth storm. (stay in the kitchen and bake untill you run out of ingrediants or electicity until the storm ends. Invite friends over to sample your wares and trade snow storm stories)

Now I have two orphan vehichles to fill with content. I’m bogged down by may own bloggs.

To add to my delima, my good friend sent me a link to a vetran blogger who decided to write an essay titled; The 10 Reasons Bloggers Don’t Succeed. I thanked her for the vote of confidence. At least now with this essay, I can add yet another vaccuos personal experience to the cyberworld. I wonder if all this electronic hot air is contributing somehow to global warming. HMM that sounds like a conspiracy theory emerging. Perhaps I should create a blog on that. I could call it Crazy stupid and foolish conclusions I have come to. See you on the net.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Looking back

Regrets By Trudy Kerman

Regrets always begin when I look back, over my shoulder at the might haves, would of should of, crossroads of my life. In 50 some odd years there have be a few places where I think “…I should’ve turned left at Albuquerque,” as the great Bugs Bunny would say.

Yup, plagued about once a week by the once wases and might have beens if only I’d said, done or not, this or that. Stayed in Detroit and finished my degree there for example.

Or moved to Florida with my widowed mother and gone to art school on Sana Belle Island. Me and dozens of silver haired ladies and gents.

What ever happened to that dream of becoming a parapsychologist? And what person in their right mind moves to San Francisco at 18, and then moves back; to Detroit?

Every road not taken, give up fine arts and get a degree in Journalism; marry husband # 1 but not the guy before who haunted my dreams every night for 15 years after we pushed each other away and into the arms of someone seemingly more appropriate rises up behind me and leads to a different horizon, another life for a different me.

When I find myself in head swivel mode, I’m usually running smack into some obstacle right here in the present. This path is littered with them.

I’ve not come this far on my own, having chosen companions along the way, a husband, and our children who are now nearly grown up. We are very merry travelers who’ve decided that this year we will have more fun times. We will go to the theater to watch a play, see an opera or a musical.

I think I dive into that swamp of regrets when I look at the landscape of life around me and see only the obstacles.

If I stop for just a minute on this journey and just listen, to the robins singing on my front lawn. The wind whispering the promise summer or a storm; If I just look up and see a new hue of blue or vivacious shades of green sprouting from every bush and tree; then I take a deep breath and savor this, the life I have right here. There is no other time, or place but now.

On Writing

“ Your power lies in recognizing your weaknesses; strength lies in admitting them. Freedom is felt with their acceptance. Courage comes with careful action. Honor lies in doing it all with a pure heart.” Edurtreg Namrekcuz

What kind of writer are you? I’m every kind. I like writing non- fiction; reporting news, current events, social commentary and the frequent opinion piece. (Rant) I enjoy delving into my novel I delight in spurts of poetry and wandering into short story territory. Bur most of all I enjoy being in the mood to produce.

It is a state of being where everything comes together like a laser beam and falls word for word onto the page just as this piece I’m writing now is doing.

The process of writing is in the pleasure. I like the pause put in by the comma, the change of idea signaled by the semi colon; and the full stop to breath, a period provides.

I like the art and craft of writing although I didn’t always. I once dreaded approaching the blank page or screen. In my mind, I built up writing as a Herculean task to avoid.

Then I read a book by Robert Fitz, The Path of Least Resistance, in which he describes in the first chapter the theme of the book. Everything, water, cows and people, seek the path of least resistance when going from one point to another. Well written, Fitz uses both humor and brevity to make his point, as he describes how the roads in Boston were built from existing cow paths, continuing his analogy involving building a structure that allows creativity to flow.

It’s taken me about 25 years, but I think I’ve done, just about that. I’m sitting in my dining room, writing this down, on a piece of loose-leaf paper. I’ve eaten breakfast, washed my vitamins down with coffee. Practiced a bit of yoga and exercised all week. I’ve slept well, and don’t recall any major domestic squabbles with the husband or kids. My week included girlfriend time, where we aired hopes, shared dreams.

Now it seems I’m free to write. I need a lot of different things to be in order, before the writing begins. Sometimes the dishes must be washed, meals made and the bathroom wiped down.

Other times, like this, I begin one such chore and the words from my syllabus, a question I pose, what kind of writer are you, pop into my head as I’m rinsing a mug while keeping in mind that there are plums to be picked from the drooping branches of a decrepit tree in my back yard. Thunk.

My focus is drawn to the words rushing up one bumbling behind the other, higgly piggly jostling for space in my brain. In a trance, I turn off the tap, giving in like a hostage, by a swarm of ideas. I place the mug in the drain board. I cross the threshold of dining room where I lay my hands on a pen and some loose leaf, buried under the week’s worth of publi sac flyers and old newspapers.

The pad is blank except for a line I’d scrawled across the top in a moment of inspiration, some time ago, which had since fled.

A novel approach, it said. Followed by about 50 empty lined pages. I’m charmed for a moment by the word play before that phrase is left to die on the page and the proverbial torrent of this writing pours forth. I try to bridle this wild flow keeping to one idea per sentence, each obeisent paragraph following the next until I’m now winding up what I have to say.

My son Brendan cranks up the music on the computer in my office. The outside world begins to creep into my concentration but like an athlete who’s trained for 25 years I stay on task. Maybe that first sentence or a first word will break the curse of a blank page and it’s endless well of false fears. I don’t know what inspired the phrase a novel approach or if it will go anywhere else besides right here right now.

But I do know that in the beginning was the word. I can stop here or continue, as I am now free, free to create, free to write what ever I want whenever I want because I’m a writer. I’m the decider and I’ve decided. That this is what is. My reality lies here on the page inside what is thought, felt or observed, savored or repelled. Spun into fiction word by word, woven from ideas and then made into worlds. Ripe plums are falling no further than my own back yard. Harvest what is ready, pluck what is near, enjoy what is yours share it.

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What fresh hell is this?

So you think you want to write? well, why not. Take the first step. Put one word on a page. Leave it. Come back. Look. Then, just for fun, write.

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