What’s The Truth About These Digital Dangers?
Time Magazine called it one of the 50 worst inventions while others have compared it to body modifications and plastic surgery. Some artists have protested, too, like Jay Z, who released an “anti-Auto-Tune” album and a song called “D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune).”
But mostly, audiences have been happy to settle into ignorant bliss about how much our favorite songs, like women on magazine covers, are digitally enhanced. That’s why people acted shocked, outraged, and disdainful when unedited tracks of Britney Spears awful singing recently leaked to the internet…
But was any one really surprised that Britney sounded so bad? And will this actually hurt her career? Nah, lets just sit back and enjoy the wonders of Auto-Tune.
Trailers for two dystopian views of the future. The new Mad Max looks like it captures the look and feel of my favorite Mad Max: The Road Warrior. Looking forward to seeing it. Hopefully it won’t be another Thunder Dome.
The trailer for Air looks much more intriguing,
That said, if it came down to which one I would want to see on the big screen, Mad Max would get my popcorn money.
Genre tells us nothing about the quality of the story, but does “Random House” and “Harper Collins” give us any idea as to the caliber of the writing? Are you aware of the “Brand” book you are buying?
The decades of invisibility have left publishers at a real and distinct disadvantage in the modern landscape. Nearly every other company—in every other industry—has spent those same decades working tirelessly to make sure every person on Earth was aware of their name, logo and products. The Nike swoosh “means” something: quality, fitness, health. The Apple logo “means” something: quality, beauty, power. The New York Times logo “means” something: quality, investigation, information. All of these companies have fought to make sure their brand was synonymous with quality… and a few other things.
To date, very few publishers have been able to successfully create a brand that “means” anything to readers. Most publishers have never spent much time on brand-building beyond stamping their logo on a book’s spine, and therefore their names and logos connote nothing to their products’ end users other than, perhaps, “book.” Right now—during this digital avalanche of self-published content that’s falling on our heads—is when readers most need to see established symbols of expert, edited, quality content. Readers are looking for clues that will help them to separate wheat from chaff—both online and on the shelves. Publishers have an opportunity, now, to build brands that fill that need.
The best line not in Independence Day, but should have been.
It’s a f&^%&ing PowerBook 5300 you idiot! We’re all going to die!
Crime novelist Leonard claims prestigious award
- Enlarge Photo
Novelist Elmore Leonard, 86, will be presented the National Book Foundation’s Medal … more >
BLOOMFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. — For a man who built his career on word economy, the title is pretty darned long — the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.
Still, Elmore Leonard says he’s thrilled to receive one of the literary world’s highest honors.
The 86-year-old crime novelist will be presented with the medal in New York on Nov. 14, the same evening this year’s National Book Awards are announced.
“I was very surprised. I didn’t ever count on winning this kind of an award,” Mr. Leonard, with one of his trademark Virginia Slims between his fingers, said in an interview at his home in suburban Detroit. “I’ve won a lot of awards, but not like this one.”
He’ll be introduced by British novelist Martin Amis and deliver remarks that organizers have requested he limit to six minutes.
Asked if he’d abide by that request, Mr. Leonard took a drag from his cigarette and said: “Oh yeah.”
In taking home the National Book Foundation’s lifetime achievement award, Mr. Leonard joins a list of past recipients that includes Ray Bradbury, Norman Mailer, Arthur Miller, Toni Morrison, Philip Roth, John Updike, Gore Vidal and Tom Wolfe.
“These names, these are all finished writers,” Mr. Leonard said. “They know what they’re doing.”
And so does Mr. Leonard, says Mr. Amis, who remembers first reading him and being impressed by his “faultless ear.” He loves “Get Shorty” and “Be Cool” among others and says Mr. Leonard’s books have “incredible dialogue” and “incredible structure.”
“You read page after page and there’s no sense of false quantities, in the sense of repetition,” Mr. Amis said, noting that Mr. Leonard transcends being labeled a crime writer, citing an old axiom: Literary writers covet sales, and successful writers covet respect.
Or as Mr. Leonard puts it, in his succinct style: “I think I’m a good writer. I don’t see any objection to my being on this list.”
The National Book Foundation isn’t the only organization honoring Mr. Leonard. The Library of America, which releases hardcover volumes of the country’s greatest authors, from Herman Melville to Saul Bellow, has added Mr. Leonard to the pantheon. Four of his novels will be published in a bound edition in 2014, and additional volumes are planned.
Mr. Leonard, one of the few writers the library has honored while still living, has been recognized many times over by the general public.
Nearly half of Mr. Leonard’s 45 novels have appeared on the New York Times‘ best-seller list, and he’s hoping to add to that total with his 46th effort — working title: “Blue Dreams” — a tale that involves both a rogue Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent and bull riding. He’s written several dozen pages so far.
- Enlarge Photo
Novelist Elmore Leonard, 86, will be presented the National Book Foundation’s Medal … more >
Despite his advancing age and some recent personal upheaval — he’s divorcing his wife of nearly 20 years — Mr. Leonard is pressing ahead and expects to have “Blue Dreams” finished “certainly by the end of the year.”
Sitting in his home office at a desk covered with papers, photographs and research materials, Mr. Leonard thumbed through the neatly stacked pages of “Blue Dreams,” yanked one out of the pile and began reading.
What came out of his mouth was unmistakable, vintage Mr. Leonard — a crisply written narrative with lines of deadpan dialogue uttered by morally ambiguous characters.
That verbal back-and-forth spoken by fictional people who sound real is what has made Mr. Leonard’s writing so distinctive.
“People always say, ‘Where do you get [your characters’] words?’, and I say, ‘Can’t you remember people talking or think up people talking in your head?’ That’s all it is. I don’t know why that seems such a wonder to people,” he said.
It’s also why his characters have spent so much time on both big and small screens over the years.
Mr. Leonard’s novels and short stories have been turned into 20 feature films, nine TV movies and three series, including the current FX show “Justified,” which stars Timothy Olyphant as one of Mr. Leonard’s signature characters, the cool-under-pressure U.S. marshal Raylan Givens.
George Clooney hung out at Mr. Leonard’s place while filming the big-screen adaptation of “Out of Sight,” and members of Aerosmith — in town for a concert — also visited, taking a dip in Mr. Leonard’s pool.
He’ll be 87 in a few weeks. And while the slender, bespectacled man friends call “Dutch” is far removed from his days of riding along with Detroit homicide cops, he still writes every day in eight-hour shifts that are befitting his hometown’s automotive legacy.
And Mr. Leonard follows the same writing protocols that have served him for decades.
He writes longhand on the 63-page unlined yellow pads that are custom-made for him, and when a page is completed, he transfers the words onto a separate piece of paper using a typewriter.
Mr. Leonard tries to complete a handful of pages by the time his workday ends at 6 p.m.
If the dinosaurs of publishing are truly dying off, is this another sign of the rising of a new species or just an evolutionary adaptation to stave off extinction for a while longer?
Two powerful entertainment moguls, Scott Rudin, the film and theater producer, and Barry Diller, the chairman of IAC/InterActiveCorp, are joining together to enter the turbulent world of book publishing.
They are hoping that a brand new enterprise, without the legacy costs and practices of traditional publishing, can find traction.
How to Write Funny
How to write funny
So you want to know how to write funny?
“People think it’s very hard to be funny but it’s an interesting thing—if you can do it, it’s not hard at all.” (Woody Allen)
Well, excuuuuse me, but most of us can’t do it. Or, if we sometimes do it, we have no idea how we did it. So, I interviewed some comics and here’s what I’ve discovered:
No one knows how to write funny!
Almost no one.
Arthur Black is very funny guy who lives on an island in the Salish Sea, and who claims to know how he does it. He hovers over his keyboard and then…
I imagine I’m in a tavern with a couple of guys I’ve just met, and I’d like a beer but I have no money. That’s it. I try to make whatever I type outrageous or thought-provoking or incongruous enough…to make them want to keep me lubricated.
Not very scientific, Arthur!
Problem is, if you dissect humour, the blood drains out of it. Like a frog in the biology lab, “the thing dies in the process and the innards are discouraging to any but the pure scientific mind.” (E.B. White)
That’s not even meant to be funny. But it highlights the problem with humour—if you study it too closely…
Humour isn’t funny.
“Capital punishment would be more effective as a preventive measure if it were administered prior to the crime.” (Woody Allen)
This is funny until we start poking around in those innards. Here’s what we find:
a) the statement is implausible,
and yet, somehow, yes, come on, don’t deny it…
b) the statement is plausible.
It’s implausible because we don’t string people up for thinking about murder (except maybe in Zimbabwe or Oklahoma). On the other hand, it’s kinda plausible because exterminating the would-be killer would save the victim. No doubt about it!
Please Note: your story must be more implausible than plausible.
Humour is a delicate balance of implausible and plausible.
Mathematically it looks like this: [ T(x) = ½ Be!2×2 ]
T = the god’s Truth;
B = the belief system by which the Truth is made invisible;
e = the existential quotient discovered by Jack Kerouac in a Mexican cantina;
x = is what we don’t know (although Arthur Black claims to know it).
Oh, yeah, and the “!” is a graphic reminder how serious this is.
In other words:
Humour is absurdly logical.
Which, as I warned you, isn’t very funny.
No one lives by this logic of the absurd more than Miami columnist, Dave Barry:
“As a mature adult, I feel an obligation to help the younger generation, just as the mother fish guards her unhatched eggs, keeping her lonely vigil day after day, never leaving her post, not even to go to the bathroom, until her tiny babies emerge and she is able, at last, to eat them.”
Which is hilarious, right? Why? Because Dave connects with three of Arthur Black’s beer-swilling criteria:
It’s thought-provoking—raising kids? are you kidding me?
- It’s incongruous—that a fish should have to go to the bathroom.
- It’s outrageous—thatwe should have babies so that we can…eat them.
Important Note: You don’t want anyone bogging down on the “baby” business. You don’t want your audience to know that “humour isn’t funny”. Just keep drinking and above all…
Keep being real.
Humour is about the bare-assed truth.
No one knows this better than the hero of my latest (unpublished) novel.
Conrad Morris, a would-be comedian, loves to disrupt dinner parties with such pithy and outrageous and incongruous truths as, “All disease is constipation.” To explain why this is funny, here’s Conrad himself:
“Finding a cure for cancer has so far cost…what?…a trillion? And all this time the answer lies…excuse me, where? In the toilet? The idea of all disease reduced to ‘constipation’ is comical because it is absurd yet earnest at the same time. It rings true. The implausible is not impossible.”
The implausible is not impossible.
(Are you taking notes?)
Conrad is absolutely correct. Feeling unwell? Skip to the loo and drop a chalupa. We’ve all been there. The logic in the absurd—as long as you don’t think about it—is funny.
In the following chunk from a Woody Allen short story, please locate the plausible that plops out of the implausible:
“The Walt Disney Company shareholder suit over the severance package paid to departing president Michael Ovitz was jolted today by the testimony of an unexpected witness, who was questioned by counsel for the entertainment giant.
“COUNSEL: Will the witness please state his name.
“WITNESS: Mickey Mouse.”
Please leave a “Comment” with your opinions on the foregoing apocryphal nonsense. You may even have your own half-baked notions about “How to Write Funny”.
At the very least, leave a joke.
About the author:
PJ Reece’s book ‘Story Structure to Die For‘ is a great resource for writers. It has been downloaded over 2,000 times. Please go here to download it for free.
Join the webinar with WTD Chief Editor Mary Jaksch: BUST THROUGH YOUR BLOGGING BARRIERS. Wednesday, 19 September at 8PM Eastern US. Click here to register (it’s FREE)