Claire Wrote in My Planner

My friend, Claire, stole my planner and filled it with activities to perform throughout the year.

To prove I followed her instructions, I took pictures.

(more…)

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Published in: on March 24, 2013 at 10:16 am  Leave a Comment  

My grandma thinks I’m handsome.

She tells me often.

But she can’t just give me a compliment. For years, I had low self-esteem, and refused to believe compliments. So she learned that she had to convince me.

“You are so handsome,” she’d insist. “You are so handsome, you couldn’t even hide it with all the ugly haircuts you’ve had.”

‘Ugly haircuts?’ I have no idea what she’s talking about. (more…)

Published in: on March 19, 2013 at 7:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

Dormant Protagonists

Every story, Frank Daniel theorizes, is about someone who wants something badly, but has trouble getting it.

That “someone” is called a protagonist, and what he wants is called an objective. The story ends when the protagonist either succeeds or fails to achieve the objective, and we’re satisfied with the result.

David Howard and Edward Mabley add that “protagonist and objective are so closely identified in our minds that it is impossible to consider one without the other.”

Their relationship is symbiotic because of us. We know Dorothy Gale because, in the Wizard of Oz, she wants to return to Kansas.

Can you blame her?

Who could blame her?

From her perspective, sure, returning to Kansas is important, but it’s only one of a billion goals she’ll have in her lifetime. Maybe she aspires to overturn Roe v. Wade. It’s not impossible–she’s from a red state. But if it’s true, we wouldn’t know it, because it doesn’t affect her objective, so we don’t even think to ask.

That’s how important the bond between the protagonist and the objective is. We like watching someone rise to a challenge so much that we’re willing to ignore everything else. The more ardently a protagonist pursues her objective, the more invested we are in the story.

In the Wizard of Oz, the protagonist and her objective are inextricable. If Dorothy isn’t in the story, we can’t root for her to get back to Kansas, and if Dorothy doesn’t care about getting back to Kansas, then we don’t care either, and there’s no reason to watch the movie.

But the link between a protagonist and his objective doesn’t have to be so straightforward. While a protagonist cannot exist without an objective, an objective can exist without its protagonist.

Not for too long, of course. If the protagonist is missing for most of the story, then he doesn’t really care about achieving his objective, and we’re likely to get bored. But if a protagonist goes dormant, another character can pursue the objective in his place.

There are three effective ways of transferring the objective between a dormant protagonist and his surrogate. (more…)

Published in: on March 19, 2013 at 5:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Pop on Hop

The pudgy pickle chopper
pulled the chain of his bath stopper
and let the water whimper down the drain.

In popped an old grasshopper,
run away from a field cropper,
and croaked a crick that crook’d the chopper’s brain.

With the pudgy chopper piqued–
in the full of his physique–
the ‘hopper hoped he’d hamper his attack…

…but the chopper popped a wallop,
so the ‘hopper was a dollop
on the spot the chopper thought he might lean back.

Published in: on March 19, 2013 at 5:08 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Damn it.

I’d write a haiku, but that isn’t possible:  my ‘Enter’ key broke!

Published in: on March 19, 2013 at 4:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A Reason for Fingers

Without our fingers,
it would be harder to count
haiku syllables.

Published in: on March 19, 2013 at 4:52 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Binary Haiku

01100
0001010
11010

(I’m especially proud of the rhyme scheme.)

Published in: on March 19, 2013 at 4:51 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Haiku

I don’t understand
why people read poetry
if it doesn’t rhyme.

Published in: on March 19, 2013 at 4:47 pm  Leave a Comment  
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How I Became a Critic

In September of 1990, I was five, and my nurturing, lovely grandma was babysitting me.

To pass the time, we decided to see a movie. The Witches was playing, and according to the newspaper, it was a children’s movie starring Anjelica Huston. There was something for both of us!  Everyone would go home happy!

LUKE WITCHES MOUSE

In the first scene of the film, a witch kidnaps a little girl and traps her in a painting in her own living room. The little girl spends the rest of her life in the painting, unable to move or speak, and then she dies.

So I walked out. (more…)

Published in: on March 19, 2013 at 4:31 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Purpose of Art

We are weird.

You can’t blame us. We grew up in the Universe—a physical place with nearly nothing physical in it, and no physical boundaries to contain what little there is. It’s a sanctuary for life and love, whose doors are also open to death and suffering. It is interwoven with equal amounts of meaning and futility.

In short, the Universe is no place for small children. Unfortunately, it’s our home, and although we’ve tried our best, it was only a matter of time before we started acting out.

In a Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson observes some of the mixed messages we’ve learned from our upbringing.

“We don’t know which arrived first, a world that contained [Sir Isaac Newton’s] Principia or one that had no dodos, but we do know that they happened at more or less the same time. You would be hard pressed, I would submit, to find a better pairing of occurrences to illustrate the divine and felonious nature of the human being—a species of organism that is capable of unpicking the deepest secrets of the heavens while at the same time pounding into extinction, for no purpose at all, a creature that never did any of us any harm and wasn’t even remotely capable of understanding what we were doing to it as we did it.”

Like I said, we’re weird.

But we do have one thing common to our nature:  self-interest.  We see ourselves in inanimate objects. We model our supernatural characters, like aliens and monsters and gods, after us.  We’re so offended to have apes in our family tree that we’re actually debating whether to willfully miseducate our children.

We’re obsessed with ourselves.  And that is why we have art. (more…)

Published in: on March 19, 2013 at 3:57 pm  Leave a Comment