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The Pecman

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Everything posted by The Pecman

  1. I wish I could have that luxury. Unfortunately, when you're standing on the edge of a cliff, you're not that close to a keyboard. And that's where we've been for the last few months.
  2. Hey, serialized stories worked for Dickens. I've always maintained, if you're reading a story for free, then the author is under no pressure to rush or satisfy his or her readers. It's a totally different deal if you write professionally and are being paid for it, and you have to operate under a deadline. When it's free, you get what you get.
  3. The one thing I always come away with, on the rare occasions we go to the West Hollywood Gay Pride Parade, is "hey! Gay people are just as ugly and obnoxious as regular people! It's amazing the broad cross-section of humanity that you encounter at these things. But the parking is such a bitch here in LA, we gave up some years back, after we moved away from that area to the suburbs. West Hollywood has kind of gone to hell, because it's become an enclave of Russian immigrants and some right-wing religious people, kind of undermining the gay population the area used to host from the 1970s through the 1990s. I think the number of bars and nightclubs there is not even half what it used to be.
  4. And the link is here: http://awesomedude.com/nigel_gordon/an-inconvenient-queer/an-inconvenient-queer.htm Very well-written story.
  5. Any story that has an iPad in it is OK by me. A good effort.
  6. Bucket-load would've been good as well.
  7. I agree completely with Graeme -- well-said.
  8. What is this "football" you speak of?
  9. Just saw the recent HBO movie The Normal Heart, which I thought was also gut-wrenching and generally well done. My big problem with it is that it feels like the first 2 acts of a 3-act play... there's no real ending there. The real story about the real-life Larry Kramer is much more interesting, particularly in what happened when he quit the Gay Men's Health Crisis group in NYC and statrted ACT-UP to try to force the city of NY to provide more healthcare for AIDS patients. Here's the trailer: I think it's an extremely well-acted film, but not that satisfying as a complete story. For those of us who remember those early days of the 1980s, it's a flashback to another time that was very different from where we are now. Had I knew then what I know now, I would've been much, much angrier and far more active against Reagan, the very-closeted Mayor Koch, and everybody else who wasn't lifting a finger to investigate the causes and treatment of HIV and AIDS. My partner and I hooked up in 1982, and I was such a workaholic that I completely ignored politics for most of that decade... though I disliked Reagan quite a bit. Now, I know enough to actually hate him for all that he didn't do.
  10. What excited and impressed me is that this is in a mainstream network TV commercial, just a random 2-second shot out of about a hundred images, done very casually. It gives me hope that life for everybody will have more tolerance, and the vast majority of people will start accepting gay relationships with all age groups.
  11. Gaaaaa! I disliked run-on sentences when I was in 4th grade! If I could figure it out at the ripe old age of 10, I think anybody could.
  12. The Pecman


    Oh, the arch-conservative Mormons will not be happy about this...
  13. I just saw this national commercial about high school graduation for Google last night, and fell out of my chair when I saw the gay couple shot at :53 seconds in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CmFV_f-snTY Don't tell me they're best friends -- the two couples on either side of them are boy/girl. I actually got choked up when I saw this, because I thought, "jesus, maybe things really are changing for the better." Here's a frame grab of the shot in question:
  14. You're absolutely right! I only know their hits and vaguely know their names. I think the general opinion is that producers are terrified of having any actors who are younger than 18, because of the time restrictions and on-set schooling needed. What puzzles me is why they can't find any actors who are 18-22 and at least look like they're 16 or 17. Some of the Disney shows -- I'm thinking High School Musical and Teen Beach Movie, to name two -- actually were able to pull this off fairly well. But a lot of the garbage on the CW and Fox are just stunning in their bad casting. And stuff like the Twilight movies make me gag. I would argue, though, that an experienced actor in their 20s is probably more professional and capable of remembering their lines and having the discipline to do what it takes to play the part more than a kid. But it depends on the person, and there certainly are teenaged actors who are very, very professional... but hopefully not to the extent that they lose their innocence and charm.
  15. Here is the video, a suicide letter from a bullied student:
  16. High school? They all look like they're 30! Movies & TV shows drive me crazy when they cast actors much, much older for the parts than they should be. I always roll my eyes when I see a "teenage" show on CW or Fox where 90% of the cast is at least 27 or 28. (I'm reminded of the movie Grease, where Stockard Channing played an 18 year old girl and was 32 at the time.) I think there's a way to make this idea work, but based on the trailer this looks like a cheap, cheap, threadbare production. Movies like this are not cheap or easy to produce, and it's gotta look better than something slightly above the level of a student film. (And by that I would mean college students in their mid-20s.)
  17. The Pecman


    I'm tired, too! It's 3AM here in LA. I still think run-on sentences are lazy and fixable, plus they're just not necessary. Anything that can help the reader digest and understand the story better is a good thing. I was appalled when the last few Harry Potter books had quite a few run-on sentences (as one recent example). This kind of thing never used to happen in the world of major-publisher best sellers. To me, it's just sloppy writing, especially if you can fix it with a semi-colon, an ellipse, or just starting a new sentence. It takes very little time, effort, or skill to spot stuff like that.
  18. The Pecman


    I've always felt this way, and I believe this was the final sentence of my 2001/2002 essay on "How to Write Gay Fiction": that the only rule that's absolutely etched in stone is don't bore the reader. (I would add to that, "the story should make sense and the characters should be ones with which you can empathize," but that's about it for iron-clad rules.) I spoke to a pal of mine on the phone today who's been a professional writer and editor for 40 years, and I said, "hey, what would you do if you were editing a novel or short story where the characters were speaking in continuous unbroken sentences that had more than 30 or 40 words," and he laughed and said that he'd send it back as being unreadable or way too self-indulgent. Before I could even bring it up, he immediately did say, "of course, that was the convention in the 1800's" and brought up the examples of Dickens as well as adding Edgar Allan Poe, Louisa May Alcott, Herman Melville, and a few other classics. I don't think modern literature does this, not if you look at novels of the past 30-40 years. I brought up the issue of commas, and he replied that he's confronted with writers who either don't use nearly enough commas, or use far too many. It's a good question as to which is "just right," and I don't doubt you could make very good arguments on several different criteria. He also pointed out that the modern trend for young people is going in the opposite direction of long sentences, probably brought on by Text messages, IM messages, Twitter, and stuff like that where you're reduced to a short number of characters and a lot of hip abbreviations. I hadn't even considered that, but I'm generally opposed to reproducing text messages in stories because I think it's too "showy" and flashy. I don't mind somebody writing, "I immediately shot back a text telling him to get stuffed, and we agreed to meet up later on." That at least doesn't go back and forth and back and forth and back and forth, which I think takes up too much time.
  19. I don't mind somebody who wants to get the law changed, but the law on driver's license photographs is pretty clear. There's only so many exceptions they can make. I once almost got cited because my own driver's license noted I needed glasses, but since I got the license (and photo) I got Lasik eye surgery, so I now had almost 20/20 vision for driving. They wrote me an interim ticket, and I had to go in and get a new license reflecting the fact that I no longer needed eyeglasses, and shot a new photo of me without glasses. Problem solved, ticket torn up. Let's take this to an extreme: If I wanted to get a driver's license photograph while I was wearing a Frankenstein mask, should that be allowed? How much makeup is too much? What if I insisted on wearing a hat? The state of South Carolina made this statement: The rule against disguises is ostensibly one to suppress criminal activity. The DMV makes exceptions for “religious” and “medical” reasons. A DMV spokesman cited this 2009 policy: “At no time will an applicant be photographed when it appears that he or she is purposely altering his or her appearance so that the photo would misrepresent his or her identity.” The Transgender Legal & Educational Defense fund made this statement: Chase’s freedom to express his gender should not be restricted by DMV staff. He is entitled to be who he is and to express that without interference from government actors. Forcing Chase to remove his makeup prior to taking his driver’s license photo restricts his free speech rights in violation of state and federal constitutional protections. It's an interesting legal problem. But I think at some point, people are just rattling cages and trying to cause trouble. I've always had a big problem with people who make drastic changes in their public appearances, because my initial response is invariably, "this is somebody who is desperately trying to get attention." I have this problem with somebody who has a green mohawk and piercings all over their face, nose, and ears, wears loud, obnoxious clothes, chains and body armor, comic book outfits, weird shoes, stuff like that. I get that to some extent, people have the right to express themselves, but I think there's a line that crosses where they go right into Bizarroville. Rock & roll clothes I can understand (though it's not my thing), and I get there are people who enjoy dressing up in wild clothes when they go out. But a whole 24/7 thing just seems to me like somebody is spending a huge amount of time at making a very loud statement in order to get noticed. Here's a shot of the kid in question: If I looked like this, I would not want to be put in the Men's jail at 2AM on a Saturday night on drunk driving charges. But I think this is a risk anybody who goes in for a TG lifestyle is going to risk.
  20. My partner and I talked about this yesterday, and I see the cop's point: if the kid was born male, but is wearing makeup and a hair style that makes them look female, this is going to confuse and annoy police dealing with the scene of an accident or a major crime. I'm not in favor of people wearing headdresses, hiding under shawls, or otherwise covering their real face when it comes to a legal document like a driver's license. If the kid got a sex change operation and decided to identify as female, then I'd have no problem with it. I concede that gender identity is a personal choice, but there's a line that gets crossed when you start dealing with law and legal IDs. There are similar cases going on in areas with large Muslim populations where the women where burkas due to religious decrees. Would this suffice for a driver's license photo? I'm all for religious freedom, but there's a point where freedom of expression infringes on other people's rights and the existing laws we have in the country. In other words: wear what you want in your personal life, but when it comes to a driver's license, you gotta toe the line. If you don't like the law, get it changed.
  21. The Pecman


    Read my stuff and tell me if I do that. I practice what I preach, and I read an awful lot of published fiction. As I've often said, the only real rule is to keep the story interesting and not bore the reader. The rest is just window dressing, and I think as long as you use taste and good instincts, a lot of different approaches will work. But I do wince whenever I come upon a long, long, long sentence in a dialogue scene, because I don't believe this is the way people really speak in real life. There are some literary giants who did this; it's been pointed out that no less than Dickens and Conan-Doyle would routinely write sentences of 30 or 40 words, because that was sometimes the literary style of the late 1800s. I personally lean more towards Ernest Hemingway, who has a much more punchy, short-sentence style (and he also started out as a journalist). I don't mind long sentences for description -- in fact, I think that's very necessary to establish certain kinds of mood -- but for dialogue, to me it winds up coming out as being long-winded. My take is: just get to the friggin' point. I also agree 100% with everything Graeme says above. The key is really to feel real, rather than to be real. I think there's a way to do this with heart, with feeling, and with real emotion, and that can push the dialogue a long way. But the key is that the characters have to get into something real, and not just dilly-dally about superficial bullshit. I'm not saying every scene has to be about some life-threatening issue, but I think (getting back to the core topic), commas alone are the least of our worries. Just making the dialogue readable is a challenge, and I continue to believe that if the writer speaks it out loud, he or she will know very quickly if it works or not. I'm reminded of a famous quip from actor Harrison Ford, who complained to writer/director George Lucas about some of the impenetrable dialogue in Star Wars: "George, you can type this shit, but you sure as hell can't say it." I think Ford makes a very good point. Look at any movie script, and you'll see that nobody speaks in long sentences, because they're trying to be very true-to-life. (Generally speaking.) http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2012/08/you-can-type-shit-you-sure-cant-say-it
  22. Sometimes, nothing beats just an ordinary sentence that gets to the point, has a subject and a verb, makes sense, and ends with a period. I've read at least 25 or 30 books on writing, and many of them have also said, "writers often struggle to find some unique way of expressing dialogue, like 'he exploded' or 'she shrieked,' but sometimes, a simple he said works very well." Simple structure can often benefit good storytelling, and that doesn't mean having a single sentence with 79 words. This is a good case where if the author had just tried to read this out loud, he or she would immediately see, "oh! I need to pause there to catch my breath. Perhaps this would be a good place for a period." I often give my characters voices in my own head, and (assuming it's a 1st-person story) I try to imagine what the story would sound like being told through that character's mouth. I don't think it takes any special talent to do this, but sometimes you do have to work on making the story not sound like you're telling it, but instead that your character is telling it. I'm guilty on occasion of giving my teenage characters a larger vocabulary than they probably would have in real life, but that's a little artist's license that I think can be forgiven.
  23. The Pecman


    Not necessarily. I think the truth about how people speak in real life is that there's a lot of awkward pauses, sentences that go nowhere, people overlapping and interrupting each other, a lot of clumsy phrasing... and I think if you wrote it all down, it'd be a huge mess as literature. I like to think writing can be similar to life, but (as more than one observer has noted) "with all the dull parts cut out." And that includes cleaning up grammar and sentence structure. I think as long as you capture the flavor and intent of what's being said, the reader will buy it. If you go by how kids speak on TV, then you'd take 9 sentences and string them together with long pauses, "uh's," and "like's" connecting every sentence without a period, except at the very end. And usually it would end with a "ya know?"
  24. I agree: this is very good writing. And the link is here... http://awesomedude.com/nigel_gordon/miss-jenkins-work/miss-jenkins-work.htm
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