The Street Where you Live

A friend and I were talking about the movie version of MY FAIR LADY earlier today. He was a school teacher and used to show the film to the kids in his class to teach them about the English class system.

Adapted from George Bernard Shaw’s play PYGMALIAN, MY FAIR LADY was released in 1964 and starred Rex Harrison and Audrey Hepburn as Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle. It had a marvelous supporting cast as well, though one of the cast who gets very few mentions is the actor who played young Freddy.

Freddy meets Eliza at the races and is completely taken by her. Later on in the film he tries to see her, only to be rebuffed. Undaunted he delivers her flowers and wanders up and down the street where she lives, hoping to run into her. While he does this he sings probably my favorite song from the movie “On the Street Where You Live”

My wife loves My Fair Lady. We’ve had it on VHS and DVD and we’ve watched it many, many times. This scene is one of our favourites, even though my wife calls it a “stalker’s love song”.

The best part, however is that the actor playing young Freddy is none other than the late Jeremy Brett who later on, in the 1980’s became much better known for playing one of the absolute best Sherlock Holmes in a series from Granada Television.

And… that’s all I got for today.

I haven’t written anything on here since my birthday which is dreadfully remiss of me. I need to get back to posting here regularly.

So, I’ll leave you with a question: Do you like Brett better as Freddy or as Sherlock Holmes? Leave me a comment.

So What’s Your Point?

Here’s a question directed at my fellow writers:

Have you ever written a book to prove a point?

Because I have. I didn’t really know that was what I was doing. Like most writing a lot of the work is done in the subconscious. Patterns are not evident until a draft is completed. Sometimes they aren’t clear until after the book is published.

Many years ago when I was in my twenties I would go to a lot of Science Fiction conventions in the Lower Mainland of BC and the Pacific Northwest of the US. At one of these conventions a panel discussion was taking place and someone brought up the topic of paradigms.

While I was listening I was struck by an idea about paradigms and how society moves from one paradigm to another. How a paradigm shift can leave some people behind because they don’t recognize the new paradigm supplanting the old one. I remember trying to make my point from the audience and not being very successful at getting my thoughts across. The panel members did not follow what I was trying to say and at the time I did not have the ability to make my ideas any clearer.

I did not make my point because I didn’t really fully understand it and even if I did I did not know how.

Flash forward to a few years later. I had the opportunity to write for a fanzine that published Star Trek fan fiction. I wrote a Next Generation story about a planetary transporter and fractal geometry. The whole thing didn’t gel. None of my ideas seemed to come together. I told an interesting enough story but it didn’t have that extra dimension that I was hoping it would.

Eventually I took the story and transformed it into something else for a unique new market which was looking for shorter, exciting, fast-paced stories. I got rid of all the Star Trek elements and the story began to evolve. Unfortunately the market folded before I could submit.

Undaunted I pressed on. I began to write a novel. I was doing a lot of world building and, without realizing it, I was coming up with a very good point about paradigms and how some societies can embrace the new paradigm and others get left behind because they don’t recognize that the paradigm shift is happening.

It wasn’t until I was into my second draft that I realized what I was doing, after so many years, was making the point that I had unsuccessfully tried to make before.

I called the book THE PARADIGM TRAP and I was pretty pleased with it right up until 1991 when Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country was released into theaters. That film had made exactly the same points and had several of the same plot points.

I was pretty crushed. Everybody had seen it and nobody who would ever read my book (if anybody) would not believe that I had simply ripped off the last Star Trek movie.

So… what’s my point?

My point is that I wrote an entire novel just to prove a point. Even if it was just to myself. I wrote THE PARADIGM TRAP to solidify my idea that when paradigms change, as they are wont to do, those who do not see that change will still keep fighting trying to make headway using the old ways that worked under the old paradigm. But it doesn’t matter how proficient you were at making things happen under the old paradigm, once it has been supplanted by a new one, your best efforts are impotent.

Of course, none of this is relevant to any situation that is going on at this moment… is it?

THE PARADIGM TRAP can be purchased in e-book or paperback here.

Jesus’ Blood Never Failed me Yet

This is a difficult piece, but it’s one that has interested me for a long while. When I first heard it I was confused and annoyed but as I listened the emotional power of the simple loop of tape and the accompanying orchestra moved me to tears.

Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet is a 1971 composition by Gavin Bryars, an English experimental composer. The basis of this piece is a recording of an old vagrant singing a song that he improvised. On top of that simple loop rich harmonies are built up by an orchestra, increasing in density before the whole thing gradually plays out.

“In 1971, when I lived in London,” Bryars says, “I was working with a friend, Alan Power, on a film about people living rough in the area around Elephant and Castle and Waterloo Station. In the course of being filmed, some people broke into drunken song – sometimes bits of opera, sometimes sentimental ballads – and one, who in fact did not drink, sang a religious song “Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet”. This was not ultimately used in the film and I was given all the unused sections of tape, including this one.

When I played it at home, I found that his singing was in tune with my piano, and I improvised a simple accompaniment. I noticed, too, that the first section of the song – 13 bars in length – formed an effective loop which repeated in a slightly unpredictable way. I took the tape loop to Leicester, where I was working in the Fine Art Department, and copied the loop onto a continuous reel of tape, thinking about perhaps adding an orchestrated accompaniment to this. The door of the recording room opened on to one of the large painting studios and I left the tape copying, with the door open, while I went to have a cup of coffee. When I came back I found the normally lively room unnaturally subdued. People were moving about much more slowly than usual and a few were sitting alone, quietly weeping.

I was puzzled until I realised that the tape was still playing and that they had been overcome by the old man’s singing. This convinced me of the emotional power of the music and of the possibilities offered by adding a simple, though gradually evolving, orchestral accompaniment that respected the tramp’s nobility and simple faith. Although he died before he could hear what I had done with his singing, the piece remains as an eloquent, but understated testimony to his spirit and optimism.”

For the first LP recording, Bryars was limited to a duration of 25 minutes; with the invention of the cassette tape, Bryars was able to complete a 60-minute version of the piece; and later, with the advent of the CD, a 74-minute version. In 1993 Bryars teamed up with Tom Waits to release a new version with Waits singing along. There are a couple of versions of that recording, the longest of which lasts for one hour and fifteen minutes.

It’s not for everyone. Listening to the recording (any version) is not an easy experience and if you have any kind of attention deficit disorder you will find this impossible to sit through. If you do manage to listen to the whole thing you will find it a powerful and cathartic experience

No writing done today

You can probably guess why. Shocked, dismayed, disgusted with the events that happened in the US today. As a Canadian I want to be a good neighbour and encourage my American friends to stay strong.

But honestly I just want Trump and his motherfucker cronies to die. Burst into flames, swallowed up by the earth, hail of gunfire, guillotine? Any method is fine with me.

I’m not a nice person in that respect.

I’ll try to be a good neighbour, though, because that’s what we’re told we do best. So, as one of my country’s more revered philosophers is wont to say: “Keep your stick on the ice.”

Sugar Cookies

I started writing a blog post but it’s going on way too long and I haven’t even come near to making my point yet and I really want to get back to the story because I’m about to introduce two brand new characters and I’m anxious to find out who they are so…

Here’s a picture of some sugar cookies I baked up on Boxing Day. They’re all gone now, but they were delicious while they existed on this good Earth.

More tomorrow.

Writing Report

I had a goal today to write 1000 words. After much thought, deliberation, hemming and hawing, I have written the words: CHAPTER TWO.

And, after reading a lot of articles about Old English village names and consulting some Old Norse dictionaries online, I decided on the name of the village: Beyargmunn.

I’ll keep writing, but it’s 9:30 and I have an early morning tomorrow.

*sigh*

Some days you get the bear. Some days the bear gets you.

UPDATE: It’s just past 11:00 and I have laid down 1,444 words. By, god, I may yet finish this tale! But now; for bed!

National Science Fiction Day

Isaac Asimov

So today, January 2nd, is apparently National Science Fiction Day.

National Science Fiction Day is an unofficial holiday celebrated by many science fiction fans in the US. It’s held on January 2 because that is also the official birthdate of science fiction writer Isaac Asimov.

While not an official holiday of any sort, in the sense that it is not recognized or declared by any government, National Science Fiction Day is given some degree of credence by its recognition by organizations such as the Hallmark Channel and by the Scholastic Corporation. It is also listed in the National Day Calendar.

Which is all well and good, but, honestly, to me it is just a day like any other because around here everyday is Science Fiction day!

This is the Beginning

It’s the beginning of a brand new year and it is also a time to reflect on the things that didn’t work in the last year, to do an accounting of the things that didn’t get done and make a plan to do things differently in the year to come.

I’m not going to get so formal as to make any resolutions, but I know that I have written posts to my blog here fewer times than I would have liked, despite having the best of intentions. I have also written fewer words of fiction than I would have liked to. I’m frankly embarrassed at how little fiction actually got written down in the last twelve months. There were lots of ideas and plans swirling around in my brain, but very little tangible work. That needs to change.

Some attempts at self promotion worked, but much of it fell flat, so I think is the year when I will concentrate on creating more product rather than selling the stale old pieces that I already have.

Like just now when I stopped writing to select a category for this post and got sidetracked into creating a new subcategory. It’s the electronic equivalent of tidying one’s desk instead of writing. In the end all it does is create more clutter. I think it’s best to concentrate on the basics.

What are the basics? Well, as Neil Gaiman says about it: “Write. Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.”

So here’s to me, in 2021, finding the right words and putting them down, one after another.

Finis.