Old Dog, New… Whatever

newtricksolddogs

by Robert Gregory Browne

This post isn’t about writing books, but it is about writing—a couple different kinds of writing, in fact.

That said, it has less to do with writing than it does with our willingness to adapt and change and never being afraid to chase our dreams.

When I was thirteen, I read my first “adult” book, which was serialized in a magazine, called SOMEBODY OWES ME MONEY by Donald Westlake. Reading that book, a comedy murder mystery about a cab driver named Chet who simply wants to collect his nine hundred dollar bet, only to find his bookie stabbed to death, was a revelation to me. And I can say with certainty that it is the reason I became a novelist.

But I wasn’t always a novelist. In fact, I didn’t even start writing my real first novel until I was in my late forties (a considerable distance from thirteen), although I had written and published a handful of short stories. Before that, I was a screenwriter, and not a particularly successful one at that. I won the Nicholl award with my first script and turned around and sold it to Showtime shortly thereafter, but it was the first and last movie script I sold and I wound up writing for animated shows like Spider-Man Unlimited.

All of that started when I was well into adulthood, at the age of thirty-five. Before that I had been struggling to make it as a musician, first as a performer—I suffered too much from stage fright to make that happen—and then as a songwriter. I came very close to selling a few songs, was often praised for my music, but never was able to quite get over the hump. And then I felt I was too old to make it in the biz, so I fell back on my second love, writing, and wrote that first script I mentioned above.

I’m now approaching sixy-one, and can happily say that I’ve become a semi-successful novelist who has made some decent money and even seen one of his books make it to the small screen. I’ve talked about that before, I’m sure, so I won’t bore you with it now.

But at nearly sixty-one, despite my “success,” I’ve found myself feeling unfulfilled by only writing novels, and the lifelong musician (and screenwriter) in me has been yearning to do something different. Something I’ve never done before, but have been thinking about for many, many years.

So for the past several months I’ve chased an old dream. What, you might ask is that?

I’ve written a musical.

Yes, that’s right. It’s an “intimate” musical called Cradle Song, centering around a fractured family that desperately needs to heal.

And I went crazy and not only wrote the “book” (play script), but also the music and lyrics for the thing.

I’m told that this isn’t often done by one person, but, hey, I’m always up for a challenge. So I did it and it’s done and I can go to my grave knowing that I have fulfilled at least part of a dream. The other part, of course, would be seeing the play get produced. But that’s pretty much out of my hands.

So why am I telling you this, you ask?

All of this rambling is merely my way of saying that no matter how old you are, you should never deny yourself of the chance to fulfill a dream. To turn in a different direction and fly.

And if you want to be a writer (or a singer or a painter or a fill-in-the-blank) at eighty-seven but have never gotten around to doing it, don’t for godsakes let your age stop you. Don’t let anything stop you.

The world is full of people who love to tell us no. “You can’t do that. You’re too old. Too young. Too white. Too black. Too fat. Too thin. Too female. Too…” whatever.

Don’t listen to them. If you have a passion, follow it. And don’t worry about the naysayers and the rules. Just do it, as they say in the TV commercial.

Nothing and no one can stop you if you let your passion be your guide.

If anyone is interested in what I’ve been doing to fulfill my passion for the last few months, check out http://cradlesongmusical.com. And, of course, if any of you are play producers, feel free to use the contact page… ?

Question: what dream would you like to fulfill that you haven’t yet chased after?


Larry Brody has been the proud friend of Robert Gregory Browne since they partnered in the writing of about a trillion scripts back in LB’s animation writing days. And RGB has, in fact, been a bestselling mystery writer since those days ended. You can find out all about that HERE and find some of the best reading material available in any genre HERE

CARGO 3120 Chapter Six

More CARGO 3120.

If you’re not up to speed on this fine s-f novella and the series it’s designed to introduce, please start from the beginning HERE

by Aaron Walker Sr.

Just before descending a steep hill leading away from Outpost Alpha, Skye turned upon hearing the shot. She witnessed Marcus stumbling to the ground. “Marcus,” she screamed, while starting to run toward her fallen comrade. But Daren, grabbed her by the arm.

“There’s nothin’ we can do,” he shouted.  “He wanted us to…”

But before Daren could finish his statement, Skye wrenched her arm free of his grasp and nailed him with a left hook that nearly knocked his head off. He didn’t respond. All Daren could do was look away while wiping blood from the corner of his mouth.

“I hope it was worth it.” Skye snarled at Daren.

Skye took one last look toward Marcus, then moved to the rest of the team who were all staring in shock at what happened to their friend and leader. Max put her arm around Skye as they both wept for Marcus. Even Tony who seldom showed any emotion was saddened for his fellow warrior. He put his hand on Skye’s shoulder.

“We have to keep moving,” Tony said. “For Marcus…”

They silently agreed, and pressed forward with the crates toward rendezvous point bravo, where Jason was no doubt awaiting their arrival. But Daren stayed behind for a short time, watching as Saber Team descended on Marcus like feral predators, swarming a rotting carcass. It was all his fault, and he dreaded facing the crew back at the ship. He watched his brother in the distance for a few moments then he closed his eyes and turned away. I messed up, were the words that kept echoing in his mind as he ran to catch up with the team.

###

At rendezvous point bravo, on a distant rocky hill, The Indicator quietly sat awaiting its approaching passengers. Jason was hard at work repairing the damage from the recent skirmish. He wasn’t quite the skilled mechanic as Tony, but he could handle most minor repairs well enough. Sparks continued to fly as he stood beneath The Indicator’s underbelly with protective mask on, welding a marred section of the ship’s hull. A short time later the team arrived carting a train of beat-up crates. Jason turned to see his teammates looking as worn as the cargo they were lugging. He halted his work and ran to meet them.

“Now that was crazy,” Jason said, as if still struggling to come down from his adrenaline rush. “It wasn’t the motherlode we were expectin’, but at least we have…” Jason trailed off as he noticed the dark vibe coming from the team.

Max, with tears still in her eyes, assisted Tony with loading the crates onto The Indicator’s aft cargo ramp. Jason noticed Skye marching toward him with Daren moving slowly behind.

“Okay… Am I missin’ something here?” Jason asked, completely clueless as to what had just transpired.  He looked down the muddy path upon which his friends had just traversed, when he noticed the problem. “And where’s Marcus?” He demanded. But there was no response. Skye stormed past Jason toward the ship’s ramp without saying a word. He knew that look in his sister’s face, so he turned to Daren for answers.

“What’s goin’ on, man?” Jason asked, but was met with more icy silence. “What happened to Marcus?” He shouted, but one look in Daren’s eyes and Jason knew Marcus wasn’t coming. But Daren interrupted before the hard inquiry began.

“Start her up, Jay,” Daren said in a somber tone. “We need to move.”

The breath was taken out of Jason, and all he could do was silently comply with the orders of Raven Squad’s new leader. After loading their ill-gotten cargo, Jason launched The Indicator from the surface of Titan, punching through the uninviting clouds above. As the ship rocketed toward space, there was no laughing… no tales of heroics being shared among the crew, as was so often the case following such a mission. All that could be heard was the soft hum of The Indicator’s engines. Everyone, except Jason who remained on the bridge, had retreated to their individual living quarters.

Inside his room, Daren sat on the edge of his bunk agonizing over the fate of Marcus. Was he dead? Was he locked away in the bowels of some ship being tortured? He did the best he could to dismiss the thoughts racing through his mind. With shaking hands, he frantically reached within the makeshift compartment near his bunk, where he grabbed a small canister of zeth he kept hidden from prying eyes. It was a cylindrical device filled with an inhalant, delivered through a thin tube connected to a small nose mask.  With the press of a button, he breathed deeply, allowing the narcotic’s vapors to travel through the mask into his nose, and straight to his brain. He then activated his small rectangular shaped holo-player, causing it to float in the air, projecting a holographic playlist above its smooth surface. He selected a track, leaned back on his bunk, and closed his eyes. As the soft tunes emanated from his holographic music player, he quickly realized that nothing… not even his precious zeth, could dampen the anguish within.

They completed a mission, but failed a friend. And as they began the long, bitterly silent ride home, all Daren and his team could do was hope against all odds that Marcus had somehow survived, and that one day, they would be reunited with Raven Squad’s true leader.


Originally published on the CARGO 3120 Blog

South African Writers Call for Workplace Justice

Think TV writers here in the US of A have it bad? Thank your lucky stars and garters that you aren’t working in South Africa!

Ah, the joy of the need for anonymity - not
Ah, the joy of the need for anonymity – not

An open letter to SABC chief Hlaudi Motsoeneng
by Ben Trovato

Dear Comrade Oberstgruppenfuhrer Hlaudi Motsoeneng the First, Commander of the SABC in General and the Airwaves in Particular, Guardian of Local Content, Master of Invention, Supreme Defender of the Truth, I kneel before you in greeting.

Congratulations on taking the public broadcaster to new heights. There are those who say you have dragged it to new depths. Pay no heed to these counter-revolutionary quislings. Depths, as you know, are nothing more than heights in reverse. It all depends on how you look at things. And you, sir, are able to look at things in a way that beggars belief. Speaking of beggars, please issue a decree banning the depiction or mention of beggars on your television and radio stations. People exposed to beggars will want to become beggars themselves and soon there will be nobody left to pay your handsome salary.

Well done on forcing your radio stations to play 90% local music. However, I don’t understand why you never went for the full 100%. I hope you’re not going soft on us. Imagine if Stalin had let some of his critics live? He had to kill all 1.2 million or it wouldn’t be known as the Great Purge. It would’ve been something like the Mediocre Purge and everyone would have laughed at him.

You are Hlaudi the Magnificent and people do not laugh at you. Well, not openly. I saw someone in Woolworths the other day laughing for no apparent reason. Sure, there’s a good chance he was laughing at the prices, but I had to make sure. I pretended to be browsing, then rabbit-punched him in the kidneys and grabbed him in a chokehold. Not an air choke, mind. That’s for amateurs. I went for the blood choke, squeezing his carotid artery until his eyes rolled into the back of his head.

“Are you,” I hissed, “laughing at Comrade Hlaudi Motsoeneng…?”

Read it all at Ben Trovato’s blog

Diana Vacc sees “All the Way”

by Diana Vaccarelli

All_The_Way

*If you haven’t viewed this film yet be warned. This review may contain spoilers!*

With the U.S. Presidential election turning into a bad reality show I decided to take the time to watch the film All the Way. Produced by HBO, this film follows President Johnson after the assassination of Kennedy and the 1964 civil rights bill.  It is great to be reminded of how far our country has come. Not to be too political by any means.

THE GOOD:

  • The performances of both Bryan Cranston as Lyndon Johnson and Anthony Mackie as Martin Luther King Jr. are the best to date in their careers.  They both bring depth and emotion to these historical figures from our past.  I truly felt that I was watching these men that I had learned about in history class.
  • The writing by Robert Schenkkan is brilliant and brings a true life event to the screen that makes you feel as though you are in the room negotiating this legendary policy. Not only is it a serious film, but the writing also brings some humor to break up the drama. For instance, there is a scene where the press is interviewing Johnson and he is playing with his dog, the way any of us would. I found this to be a hilarious way to show us the humanity of the man. (Even though back when this actually happened, the press vilified Johnson as an animal abuser for “pulling” the pooch’s ears.)
  • Jay Roach, the director of this film and others such as Game Change and Recount, presents the subject matter of politics and the civil rights movement with great care and consideration.  His work does more than merely do this script justice as he delivers a film that everyone will enjoy from start to finish even in an upsetting election year.

THE BAD:

  • There is nothing bad about this film.  I highly recommend it.  Go to on-demand and order through HBO and be inspired, as I was, by what you see.

Happy Summer Movie Season!


Diana Vaccarelli is the TVWriter™ Critic-at-Large and, in case you haven’t noticed, a HUGE Outlander fan. Learn more about her HERE

The Dimension of Mind

Twilight-Zone

by Mike Gold

Speaking of Rod Serling, here’s a bit of an intro to the legendary, erm, legend himself for those of you who still don’t know who it is you’re trying to be as you grow up:

he so-called Golden Age of Television, with its two and one-half channels of network programming, produced an astonishing number of great writers, directors and talent. To name but a very, very few: Barbara Bel Geddes, Paddy Chayefsky, George Roy Hill, Ron Howard, Ernest Kinoy, Jack Lemmon, Sidney Lumet, Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Boris Sagal, Rod Serling, Rod Steiger, Gore Vidal, Joanne Woodward… my fingers won’t hold out long enough to type even a “best-of” list.

You’ll never guess which of the above pioneers is my favorite.

When Scottish engineer John Logie Baird first demonstrated television in January 1926 (six years before Philo Farnsworth demonstrated the first electronic television), Rod Serling was just a few days over one year old. Baby boomers think we grew up with television; Mr. Serling actually has that honor. And he did a lot more with the medium than we would.

His worldview was clearly progressive; his 1950s work was not the one for which the Conservative movement longed so desperately. His scripts reflected his philosophy and he was left-of-center, but somehow he avoided being blacklisted. To Serling, his great enemy was censorship. “I’ve found censorship always begins with the network. Then it spreads to the advertising agency. Then the sponsor. Among them, when they get through, there isn’t very much left.”

Rod Serling wrote about, and wrote to, the human condition. Most of us are familiar with his creation The Twilight Zone, a high-water mark in the history of the medium. But I urge you to seek out a few of his previous works, in particular Patterns and Requiem For A Heavyweight. Both were originally done on live television, and each was so successful that theatrical movies were produced later – and both movie versions were written – rewritten – by Serling. Patterns was so successful that the broadcast was restaged live with the original cast about a month later. Remember, Ampex didn’t start marketing video tape recorders until 1956, a year after Patternswas broadcast.

Both plays are about the human condition, sans science fiction and fantasy elements….

Read it all at Comic Mix