Larry Brody: Live! From Paradise! #115 “Lawn Tractors!”

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THE USUAL NOTE FROM LB: From the summer of 2002 to  the spring of 2010, Gwen the Beautiful and I were the proud and often exhausted owners of a beautiful Ozarks property we called Cloud Creek Ranch.

In many ways, the ranch was paradise. But it was a paradise with a price that started going up before we even knew it existed. Here’s another Monday musing about our adventure and the lessons we learned.

Oh, and if y’all detect any irony, please believe me when I say it comes straight from the universe and not your kindly Uncle Larry B.


by Larry Brody

Paradise County, where I live and work, learn and teach, and laugh and cry, is a wonderful place. Truly a paradise in many ways.

But it’s also got its dark underbelly. The cruel, painful side spoken of by only the bravest of Paradise citizens, and then only in hushed, frightened whispers.

Today, however, it’s time for me to face the enemy. Yes, yours truly, Larry B, is going to live up to my journalistic responsibility and talk about—

Wait for it.

Keep waiting….

All right:

Riding mowers.

AKA lawn tractors.

AKA demon spawn.

Talk about a “can’t live with ’em, can’t without ’em” situation!

The relationship between any man living in the rural Unite States—even Paradise—and his lawn tractor can only be described by appropriating an all-too well known psychiatric term:

Dysfunctional.

As all get-out.

In fact, on the list of dysfunctional relationships, man and lawn tractor deserves a five-star place of honor right at the top.

Above such classic messes as husband and mother-in-law. Wife and ex-wife. My dog Emmy the Bold and her latest beloved, The Skunk In The Crawl Space.

Yes, it’s that bad.

What brings this up is—as you’ve probably guessed—the trouble I’m having with my current lawn tractor, which last week decided it no longer had a reason to start.

This is far from its first problem of its short, troubled lifetime. Or even of this year.

The first problem of the year showed up in the spring, when the belt that tells the cutting deck that, “Yep, you can slice and dice all this grass now,” decided it preferred to spend its time on the ground instead of in the groove.

hat meant that after every twenty minutes or so of mowing the blades suddenly would stop, and Burl Jr. the New Groundskeeper or I would have to belly down on the grass and put it back in place.

What’s that you say? “Why didn’t you get a new belt?”

I tried. Honest. But Paradise Hardware didn’t have the right one. They ordered it six weeks ago, but it still hasn’t come in.

The second problem of the year also involved the cutting deck. The blades needed to be replaced. But although taking off the first one was a piece of cake, the second blade was frozen in place.

No matter how hard we tried, or what tool we used, not I, not Burl Jr., not even Buck the Ex-Navy Seal could loosen that old boy up.

It wasn’t until Doug the Dog Breeder came over with a classic Winchester shotgun and threatened to blow the whole assembly to Kingdom Come that the second blade gave up and allowed us to unbolt it.

This year’s third problem occurred just a couple of weeks ago. My Murray started cutting unevenly, even with its new blades. Because both of them were bent ‘way out of whack, courtesy of unwanted contact with some big, fine Ozarks rocks.

When the tractor stopped running altogether and Sonny at the hardware store said he couldn’t fix it till Fall because six pages of broken lawn tractors were waiting ahead of me, I did what any red-blooded consumer would and called the manufacturer to “discuss” the situation.

A patient Customer Support Rep heard me out and then replied, “Sir, just what is it you’re mowing with this machine?”

“I’m mowing my clearing, that’s what!”

“Don’t you mean ‘lawn,’ sir?”

“I mean ‘clearing.’ The clearing in the woods surrounding our house.”

“Oh, sir,” said the Rep, “I’m so sorry. Our lawn tractors aren’t made for that kind of use. They’re only for lawns. I’m afraid your warrantee is null and void from misuse.”

“‘Misuse?’ All I’m doing is cutting my grass!”

“The wrong kind of grass, sir. Our product is only intended for smooth, even grass. Like golf courses have.”

So there you have it. The truth behind lawn tractors: They’re not intended to be used by the people who need ’em most.

See what I mean by demon spawn?

A couple of years ago Fiona Apple released a brilliant CD about love affairs gone bad. In one song she sang, “You disappointed me by not letting me down.” The twisty irony of the lyric became my definition of wonderful writing.

Know what, lawn tractor? You’ve inspired me to create my own far less wonderful version of Ms. Apple’s words:

“You never disappoint me because you always let me down.”

Last Week’s Big Moments in TV Series Development Deals

by Larry Brody

Over the years, yours truly AKA LB, has spent more hours than I care to admit looking through the websites of the Big Three of insider showbiz news, AKA Variety.Com, The Hollywood Reporter.Com, and Deadline.Com searching for the latest updates about what the future holds for TV.

Such info is invaluable for writers who are trying to create and sell their own new shows for network, cable, or streaming series because it shows the mind set of the different gatekeepers as well as letting the developing creatives know what’s already been bought so they can stop developing similar ideas. Or, you know, start developing them.

Recently I discovered a site I’ve previously overlooked that has more up-to-date info than all its rivals put together. It’s called TheFutonCritic, and I can’t recommend it enough.

Want proof? Here’s  the breaking news they published last Friday, just the way they published it:

See everything thefutoncritic.com has to offer. Tell ’em TVWriter™ sent you.

10 Most Viewed TVWriter™ Posts of the Week – September 28, 2020

Good morning! Welcome to another new week at TVWriter™, starting with a look at our most popular blog posts and resource pages during the last 7 days.

They are, in order:

Writing the Dreaded Outline

40 TV SHOW BIBLE EXAMPLES TO DOWNLOAD AND STUDY.

8 Tips for Writing for Children’s TV Shows

SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED SECOND SEASON ARC

HOW TO WRITE AN IRRESISTIBLE SYNOPSIS FOR A MOVIE OR TV PILOT

The Logline

What’s the Difference Between a Cartoon & a Meme?

The Silver Surfer

How to Write a Script for an Animated Show

The Outline/Story

Big thanks to everybody for helping us have another terrific week at TVWriter™. Don’t forget to click above and read what you missed and re-read what you loved!

“How I learned to tell stories on purpose” as a video game writer

LB’S NOTE: What? Video games are writen? By writers? And they even have to learn the craft? I thought AI’s did all that. Day-am!


by Jim Stormdancer

In this article, I’ll explain how I went from having basically no idea how to construct a story to making players cry with my story (in a good way this time). There are big spoilers for the Frog Fractions Hat DLC below, so maybe play it first (or keep reading until an explicit warning about spoilers comes up).

When I ran the Kickstarter for Frog Fractions 2, most people probably guessed that I had no idea what I was going to make. I had made Frog Fractions entirely improvisationally and I figured I could just do that again.

The trick is, when you get something right the first time, you haven’t learned anything. You have no idea which elements were due to your innate talent and which were accidental. The most important accident, I discovered much later, was that I built Frog Fractions in chronological order, and I designed each scene to follow naturally from the previous ones.

By contrast, I started work on the sequel before I knew where I’d be hiding it, so there was no previous scene to work from. Instead I started building gameplay vignettes that were individually entertaining. It turned out to be very difficult to fit these together into something that felt cohesive, and I feel like I only partially succeeded.

I had no idea how much of the success of the first game—even to me, a not-particularly-story-focused player—stemmed from it being at heart a buddy comedy, the story of two friends going on an adventure together.

I started work on “Hop’s Iconic Cap” with these intentions:

  • Like Frog Fractions and Glittermitten Grove, I wanted to build it improvisationally. It’s more fun that way, and leaving the design loose means you can reshape it on the fly as you learn more about the game you’re building.
  • Like Frog Fractions and unlike Glittermitten Grove, I wanted the game to flow easily, like watching a movie, which meant all the minigames should be easy and, if possible, they should be recognizable riffs on existing games that the player already knows.
  • Unlike Frog Fractions and Glittermitten Grove, I wanted to figure out how to tell a meaningful story.

With storytelling on the brain, I replayed The Secret of Monkey Island and noticed that it doesn’t have a story so much as it has “there is an antagonist” and “there is a love interest….”

Read it all at arstechnica.com

Check out Jim’s uber-successful Kickstarter page

Cartoon: Against Despair

LB’S NOTE: TVWriter™’s all-time favorite artist/philosopher, Grant Snider, handles what may well be the biggest problem of our time, whether we’re writers or other creatives or accountants or, well, you name it’s. Thank you, dear Mr. Snider, for being so – dare I say it – fucking wise?



See more of Grant Snider’s extraordinary perception of human creativity at Incidental Comics, HERE