Friday, May 30, 2008

Actual Fortune Received This Week

I'm not a believer in fortunes or horoscopes—but the slip of paper in this week’s Fortune Cookie amused me, given the Spontaneous Poetry project I’ve been doing on Fridays.

Friday Spontaneous Poem

My friend Brad apparently wanted to make sure that his prompt was the first received this week, since he sent it on Monday. Honestly, I did not dwell on the prompt this week or have any extra time to think about it, since I was so busy with life in general. And, you may be interested to know that Brad's was the only prompt I received this week. (I still have a backlog of two prompts from last week though. So there might be a couple bonus Spontaneous Poems in store for this blog.)

From: Brad Tree
Sent: Mon 5/26/08 9:38 PM
To: Keith Badowski

wind hair 20 years 30 pounds

Brad Tree

I must continuously remind myself of the purpose of this Spontaneous Poetry exercise. It is to keep loose, to starve my inner critic, and to practice generosity and freely giving. It is a battle though. Whenever I finish one of these, part me of feels on edge, knowing it should be revised before it goes out to the world. That inner critic is screaming, "It's not done! It's not good enough!" I must reply, "It's not ours! We disown it! We are giving it away!"

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Manaties Watercolor

Some of my long-time friends know that my childhood dream was to be a cartoonist or comic book artist. You know how adults are always asking kids, "What do you want to be when you grow-up?" Well, my earliest answer was "Charles M. Schulz!" Yeah, that's right! I wanted to take over writing and drawing Peanuts when Schulz got too old to do it anymore. Good thing I gave up on that dream, since Schulz refused (wisely) to allow anyone else to continue the strip after his retirement and death. Anyway, I have retained the germ of the drawing bug over the years. Rarely I pull out my sketchbook and simply draw. Recently, Christi's elementary school had an art exhibit as a fund-raiser. The theme was "Underwater Creatures". I decided to contribute, and here is the result.

If anyone reading this likes this illustration enough to want it for a wall decoration, I'm willing to gift it. It's yours for the asking! Note: It is unframed and would need to be matted.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Glut Tuesday Spontaneous Poem

Last week, I recieved a few extra prompts for Spontaneous Poems.
Here's the results from one of those extras.

The prompt:

In case you don't have one already, here's my prompt: found snakeskin


Monday, May 26, 2008

A Non-Spoiler Review of Indiana Jones and Kingdom of the Cyrstal Skull

I enjoyed this latest Indy romp very much. However, some of the cartoony action just went way too far. The sort of thing that makes you go, "AWwww that's ridiculous!" I much more preferred the quieter moments where Indy uses his intellect and the energy of his personality. I found none of it boring and laughed outloud several times. That’s exactly what you want in a Summer Blockbuster. The explanations of who, what, why all seem like they were handed down from on-high—-not by God, but by George Lucas!! All the artifacts in the Indy series have been fantastical, but this one takes the cake. The object of interest is given the wackiest backstory. And the climax is pure nonsensical spectacle. Thankfully the characters remain charming and their own lovable selves. I'm very pleased at the return of Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood. This movie was worth it just to have that Indy & Marion relationship revisited and developed further. I was happy with it overall. It compares well with The Last Crusade.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Friday Spontaneous Poem

I just opened a letter from an insurance company. The first line began: "We are pleased to announce..." Try that for a spontaneous poem
Ron Self

Letter from Insurance Company

We are pleased to announce
you are able to read this letter
thus must have at least an ounce
of life left in your ugly leather.
Therefore we aim to advertize
the importance of insurance
which many Joes fail to realize
improves your body’s permanence.
See the quality of the box matters
as does the carving of the stone
and to afford makeup that flatters
you ought now pick up that phone.
Don’t try to claim you’re too feeble—
receivers barely outweigh paper
and we’re trained to know people
how to reap a chunk of their labor.
But we’re not in it for the cash—
you must believe that it’s true.
We're pleased to take out your trash
when your sack filling days are through.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Looking for a Prompt for Tomorrow's Spontaneous Poem

As you may or may not know, I have begun a project where I write a "Spontaneous Poem" every Friday, inspired by the prompt of the first person who sends me something that week.
I am only taking prompts starting Wednesday evenings, since I don't want too much time to think about the poem ahead of writing it.
Prompts can be anything:
random words
line(s) by another poet
poetry assignments, such as writing a Sonnet which mentions African Violets
Currently I do not have a prompt for this week. So send me something soon. Use this email address which should be written without any spaces: the bearded poet AT hot mail DOT com (I'm writing it this way to subvert spammers!)
I guarantee to write based on the first prompt received.  If time permits, I will attempt to do others.
You can view the results every Friday on my Blog. (See the link below.)
By the way, "Spontaneous Poems" are given away. In other words, I will not revise them or claim ownership of them. This is an exercise in being free and giving freely. The concept is designed to help you break away from own inner critic, who sometimes suppresses your creativity. The poems you write are not YOURS. They belong to the world! We sometimes get cramped about this.
Thanks in advance for your participation.
For reviews, poetry commentary, and creative nonsense, visit my blog There Goes the Top of My Head.

Give to a good cause with every e-mail. Join the i'm Initiative from Microsoft.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Star Trek (TOS) Book Review: Enterprise: The First Adventure by Vonda N. McIntyre

Part of the reason I’ve gotten back on a Star Trek kick after about a 10 year hiatus is anticipation of the new movie coming in about one year. The premise of the new movie is an origin story of sorts, showing how the crew from the original television show came together, the story of their first adventure together. The crew has been recast, of course. And on top of that the producers, director, and writers are saying things like, ‘The new movie will be unlike anything you’ve ever seen in Star Trek, but entirely faithful to what has come before.’ Sounds like a lofty goal. I hope it is actually true. No doubt, not all Trekkies will be pleased with the finally result.

Most Trekkies (“The Original Series” Trekkies anyway), however, would be quite pleased I think with the “first adventure” as envisioned by Vonda N. McIntyre in her 1986 novel. From the standpoint of character driven fiction, where the hopes, desires, self-doubts, strengths, and weaknesses of the players are the pivotal ingredients for the story, Enterprise: The First Adventure is without a doubt one of the best Star Trek novels ever written. Case in point, this is the only Trek novel I’ve read that succeeded in making Yeoman Rand an endearing and fully-fleshed out person.

McIntyre actually creates a full-blown back-story for Rand that fits completely with what little we see of her in the original series. Yet the story is completely unexpected and surprising. It involves her having been enslaved and making a daring escape prior to joining Starfleet. Rand is shown to be meek and nervous due to her horrific past experiences. Uhura takes the timid Rand under her wing and helps to build her confidence. In the course of the novel, we get to see her grow not only in her demeanor but also her decision to grow out her hair. It’s these small details that make this novel extraordinary.

The scenes where McIntyre portrays the main characters first impressions of each other are delightful, believable, and (at times) shocking. For instance here’s Kirk’s first impression of Spock:

Jim had little use for science officers. They always wanted to impart far more unsolicited information than he needed at any given moment about any given problem. And every time he had made the mistake of actually asking a science officer a question, he had ended up feeling that he might as well be back in an Academy lecture hall.

Jim probably would not have much interaction with Commander Spock. With any luck, the Vulcan would be one of those withdrawn intellectual types who preferred to remain secluded with experiments somewhere in the depths of the ship’s laboratories.
(p. 40)

On the facing page, we get Spock’s first appraisal of Kirk:

Commander Spock had little use for heroes. Whatever the self-sacrifice required for heroism, however commendable or admirable the actions might be, a person could only become a hero within an environment of chaos and destruction. In Commander Spock’s view, foresight and rationality should prevent the evolution of any such environment. He wondered if James Kirk, facing a crisis, would choose rationality, or succumb to the lure of heroism. (p. 41)

McIntyre is writer who understands that no character, no matter how short their appearance in the story, should be left standing around like window-dressing. The most minor characters in the novel have significant and meaningful roles to play. Sam Kirk, Jim’s brother, is not only present to support and cheer the youngest Captain in Starfleet, but also he serves as the conduit between Jim and Sulu. Sulu is especially uncomfortable coming aboard the Enterprise because his ship assignment was changed at the last minute, against his wishes. Sam, it turns out, is an old friend of Sulu’s family from when Hikaru was a child. Sam immediately helps to break the ice by personally introducing Sulu to his brother Jim.

There are a number of scenes that will cause any veteran Trek fan to chuckle. Kirk keeps thinking how he hopes Gary Mitchell can be his First Officer instead of Spock, once Mitchell recovers from an injury. Knowing the one television episode where Mitchell appears, in which he becomes corrupted by absolute power, this Trek fan just had to laugh, knowing Mitchell’s destiny in advance.

Additional pleasure comes from scenes that illustrate the inner core of these characters we know like old friends. McCoy’s Grand Canyon vacation is just so HIM. It’s completely anti-technology and just down-right earthy. Interestingly McIntyre uses McCoy’s incommunicado status to reveal more of the good Doctor’s back-story. Kirk calls McCoy’s ex in search of him.

The incidental humor is strong. There’s a funny problem with the food synthesizer where veggies are produced in the shape and texture of steak. On the other hand, the item looking like an avocado is actually beef. Some of the crew are shocked to see vegetarian Spock shoving a bloody hunk of meat into his mouth, not knowing that he’s determined it’s the best way to get the amount of chlorophyll he prefers.

The first Spock vs. McCoy argument/debate is a doosey. I won’t ruin it for you. All I’ll say is that it is absolutely perfect. As is Kirk’s initial impression that Scotty has a problem with orders. In the series, how many times is Scotty shown to question, complain, and otherwise gripe about what the Captain wants his engines to do? McIntyre addresses this dynamic beautifully. Kirk even asks for Scotty’s resignation.

You may notice, if you’ve even read this far, that I haven’t mentioned any kind of “adventure”. Well, that’s because the “first adventure” doesn’t actually kick off until well past the halfway point in the novel. This is no detriment though. I was so pleased with the subtle ways in which McIntyre developed and revealed the characters, I didn’t sense any lack of anything. And when the adventure arrives, it’s fairly lightweight. For that matter, the ‘guest star’ characters Ms. Lukarian of the vaudeville company and an emotional Vulcan named Stephen, are lightweight characters as well. Thankfully the aliens encountered are fresh and intriguing, but there’s never any real sense of threat or danger. (Well, maybe ‘never’ is an exaggeration.)

The main point is McIntyre delivers on her portrayal of the main Star Trek character much more so than on plot or on her own original elements. For most Trekkies, character is the main point anyway. If we didn’t love that crew and think of them as dear old friends, we wouldn’t have trekked with them this far and this long. All I can say is that the characters we love are alive in this novel. To me that’s a remarkable achievement.

P.S. For a contrary review that characterizes McIntyre’s novel as “juvenile”, see:
I’m not sure we read the same book. And anyway wouldn’t you expect these characters to seem a bit younger in their attitudes and actions at this point in the chronology?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Ever Heard of Tanka?

Nope, it's not a decaffeinated coffee!

Even if you have heard of “tanka,” you might not know that they are five line poems that are similar to haiku in that they conjure succinct moments with a bare minimum of words.

Those who are fond of rules might ask about the syllable count for such poems. In answer, I must first caution you that tanka is a Japanese form; so we’re talking quite a big language difference here between English and Japanese. For hardcore rule followers, let’s say 31 syllables per tanka with the lines divided into five syllabic units: 5-7-5-7-7. However, in English many writers of tanka use fewer than 31 syllables and don’t rigidly follow the line length pattern. In other words, don’t have a nervous breakdown if the syllable count doesn’t match the pattern described above. Simply put: chill out!

Recently I’ve been in love with a small anthology of tanka, entitled The Tanka Anthology edited by Michael McClintock, Pamela Miller Ness & Jim Kacain. The book is published by Red Moon Press.

As the introduction states, “In these poems, we may learn to pay attention in a different way, and receive our news of the world with unexpected delight.” For those who wish to delve deeper into the structure and craft of making tanka poems, the introduction offers a decent amount of detail. For me, the proof is in the poetry.

Here are few samples of some of my favorites:

my friends tell me
that they are breaking up
I stand at the sink
--rinse the cloudy rice over
and over again.

--Margaret Chula

this morning
the cold of your absence
a presence now
shall I dress it like scarecrows
standing in an empty field

--Marjorie Buettner

On the night train
through that foreign land
I waver once
a lit farm kitchen

--Marianne Bluger

Lit every night
the screened porch
remains unoccupied.
A stage prepared for actors.
The script in development.

--Keith Badowski

P.S. I’m not really included in the anthology, but I thought I’d slip in a tanka of my own just for the heck of it.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Special Saturday Spontaneous Poem

Here’s the extra spontaneous poem, followed by the assignment (for your inspection).

Your assignment, should you decide to accept it:

The dwarf slides home, safe!

Brad Tree

Friday, May 16, 2008

Friday Spontaneous Poem

Normally I will post the Friday Spontaneous Poem as a scan of my handwritten 1st draft. However, I am on the road today and have no scanner available, so you’ll just have to imagine the handwritten document. And trust me that I’ve not revised this poem.

Today’s assignment came from Linda Ames, who will be the featured poet in June at our Poetry Open Mic in Columbus, GA. Linda wrote:

hmmm… three words.
1. handicap
2. field
3. ancestor

Linda Ames
GPS Newsletter Editor (
CVWC Publicity/Webmaster/Graphic Art (

Eskimo Allergies

By the end of the shift, her sneeze was brutal;
   co-workers quit saying God-bless-you!
ignored here excessive mucus like any other
   handicap that might earn a parking badge.
She emerged from the bunker of cubicles at dawn,
   drips splashing on the tarmac of the parking lot
out beside the vibrant field of goldenrod.
   Scrambling in her pocket for a jumble of keys,
she casts her thoughts back before immigration
   when her ancestors chipped holes in ice to fish.
Back then her people were hardy
   in a climate free of pollen and dust-mites.
Driving away she remembers the square
   of frozen white fish in her freezer at home.
Ha-choo! She thinks polar. Ha-choo!
   She could emigrate to blubber, to fur-pelts
to a past when her people were hardy.

Note: I did receive one other assignment from my friend Brad Tree. I will write a spontaneous poem for him today and post in a special Saturday Spontaneous Poetry blog entry.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Writing Toolbox: Spring Boards

Ever since I was introduced to the concept of freewriting, early in my undergrad college days, I have been a big believer in keeping loose, especially in the early drafts of any piece of writing. In the last few years, I have found a few specific techniques that help me to keep writing and, in some cases, lead to poems.

One such method has been spring boarding off a line in some other poet’s works. My favorite resource has been Carolyn Forche’s collection The Blue Hour, in particular her poem "On Earth", a forty-six page chant of images and phrases which are alphabetically arranged. I copy a single phrase from the poem on the top of the page in my notebook. Then I free-associate as I write, thinking about what the line evokes for me.

Sometimes I write about memories from my own life. Other times, I imagine a persona who has spoken the Forche line and write a monologue in that voice. I might write down a series of related images or ideas. Occasionally I write down the road of whimsy imagining a surreal universe where anything can happen, as in dreams.

To give you the flavor of Forche’s lines (my favorite prompts), here’s a sample:

as for children, so for the dead
as gloves into a grave
as God withdrawing so as to open an absence
as he appears and reappears in the unknown
as if a flock of geese were following
as if there were no other source of food
as if to say goodbye to his own mind
as if we had only one more hour
as if with the future we could replace the past
as in the childhood of terror and holiness

I have used all the above lines as prompts to keep me writing for hours and hours. Why not give it a try yourself? Even if you use only the 10 lines I have given above and write for only 15 minutes in response to each prompt, you will write blissfully for 2.5 hours.

This strategy for writing typically works best for me if I don’t worry too much about the results. In other words, I don’t start with any expectation of producing a poem. Often I leave whatever writing that results from this in my notebook for a year or more. Then whenever I finally get around to it, I open up my notebook to discover pages and pages of writing that I know I wrote, but I don’t remember actually writing. That is to say, I have given myself enough distance on the writing that it is as if someone else wrote it. At that point, I have the correct perspective to discover whether any of these bursts of freewriting have any potential to become poems. To my delight and surprise, many poems have resulted from this process. Of course, there are also many pages of writing that are hopelessly terrible and deserve only to be burned. But the process must be endured for that wonderful result of a few good poems.

At some point soon, I’ll share some other techniques along these lines.

Oh, and by the way, I am anxiously awaiting your challenges and/or assignments for my Spontaneous Poetry Friday. Please do send me something. I will guarantee use of the first one I receive (and will allow the possibility of using some of the others.)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Dream: My Lost Papers

Last night I dreamed of walking in a museum in Birmingham. The exhibit theme was “letters, notes, and scraps of paper found in circulated library books.” The display items, various slips of paper, were placed in rows and rows of cubbyhole boxes which were open for anyone to reach inside. I picked up several pieces of paper and skimmed the writing there. I was strangely pleased that four of the items I picked up were in my own loose handwriting from different eras of my life. Among my lost papers were poems partially written, notes written to pass among friends in grade school, letters I’d folded and attempted to preserve with Scotch tape plastered to the creases, research notes from reference books, and grocery/to do lists. I experienced a sense of pride at finding my own writing displayed among this collection, as if my writings were as important as the manuscripts of John Lennon, T.S. Eliot, or Jerry Seinfeld. Perhaps this dream originated from my recent experiences at the Emory University research library where they have in their collections significant batches of manuscripts by such poetic greats as Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney. Also my parents who are preparing to sell their house in New York called me the other day to tell me that they found boxes I’d stashed away in the attic. Among the items they found were my high school yearbooks (which I’d given up for lost), Star Wars action figures, and my set of Hardy Boys books.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Spontaneous Poetry

“Do not feel left out when your school, church, Zen center, daycare center has a bazaar, carnival, rummage sale. Don’t think you have nothing to contribute. Simply set up a spontaneous writing booth. All you need is a pile of blank paper, some fast-writing pens, a table, a chair, and a sign saying, ‘Poems on Demand’ or ‘Poems in the Moment’ or ‘You name the subject, I’ll write on it.’”

“You must be fearless and willing to lose everything at any moment. With the writing booth there is the opportunity to be a great warrior: you must let go of everything as you write and then in handing it over to the customer.”

Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones (1986)

While an undergraduate student in English at S.U.N.Y. New Paltz (1987-1991), I had the thrill of being excessively involved in the English Club and the literary mag they produced, The Accordion Flyer. (I’m reading an issue of Accordion Flyer in the picture.) When I arrived at New Paltz, current English Club President was Gail Vorbach. Gail had read Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones and suggested we set up a writing booth in the Student Center and offer Spontaneous Poetry for 25 cents a pop. Several folks participated in the writing end of things, and numerous customers plucked down their quarter for a poem. We kept no copies of our poems, just gave them over to the customers. It was a freeing experience, and a rare writing experience for me—as I always revise my writing (sometimes as much as fifty rewrites!)

So I’m feeling nostalgic. Here’s the concept. Each Friday (or at least once a week) I’m going to write a Spontaneous Poem for this blog. I will post it as a scan of the handwritten page. The poem will never be revised further. And I am inviting my readers and friends to command the assignment. Give me a topic or challenge. Anything goes. Email your assignment to me any time between Wednesday and Friday. I might do more than one per week if I have time. But I’ll start with the first one that arrives that week. I don’t want to have much time to think about the assignment, so don’t send it earlier than Wednesday. Any questions? Email me at thebeardedpoet at hot mail dot com!

For today’s Spontaneous Poem, I simply randomly selected three words from my word envelopes (one noun, one verb, one adjective).

Swipe Judicious Violet

I give this poem away! If any of you finds anything of interest here, feel free to take it, claim it as your own. Also feel free to steal the idea of Spontaneous Poetry. I hope to see your booth at the next craft fair!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

How the Dwarves of Yore Rang My Bell By Keith Badowski

This article originally appeared in the Georgia Poetry Society newsletter, December 2007.

I suppose every poet can point to a few formative experiences with poetic works that inspired attentiveness to poetry and stirred up the desire to make more poetry. In my case, the earliest poem imprinted on my consciousness was J.R.R. Tolkien’s song/ballad that begins “Far over the Misty Mountains cold” from The Hobbit.

The primary means of transmission was the animated version of The Hobbit which aired on television in 1977—when I was nine years old. In heavy rotation on my turntable was the vinyl record album of the soundtrack, and to this day, I can still hear the dwarves singing their history for Bilbo Baggins:

Far over the Misty Mountains cold,
To dungeons deep and caverns old,
We must away, ere break of day,
To seek our pale enchanted gold.

The dwarves of yore made mighty spells,
While hammers fell like ringing bells,
In places deep, where dark things sleep,
In hollow halls beneath the fells.

I’m sure, at the time, I thought of this poem mainly as a song, one I could sing along with as I memorized the entire soundtrack through repeated listening. The other thing that the animated show inspired in me back then was an interest in writing and reading. As I realized that The Hobbit was based on Tolkien’s book, I wanted to read it and Tolkien’s other books—The Lord of the Rings series. Also I began to have the desire to make books, after Tolkien’s model. My earliest writing attempts were fantasy stories, featuring far off lands, sword-wielding heroes, and strange monsters.

I became more aware of Tolkien as a poet while studying a unit on Poetry in middle school. When asked to memorize a poem to recite in class, I chose “Over the Misty Mountains”, probably because it was still rattling around in my head from my earlier overdose.

While Tolkien’s song did not immediately inspire me to write poetry, it has had a lingering influence on poetry writing—which began in earnest during high school. My very first published poems appeared in the high school literary magazine, Everness, in 1984, including a fantasy adventure ballad, entitled “The Ivory Bear”, loosely modeled on the style of Tolkien’s “Over the Misty Mountains”.

Hither came he to the Mount of Fate;
He came with a purpose from the Land of Hate.
The tale he had heard had brought him there;
The tale he had heard of an ivory bear.

The bear of gems and ivory forged
Placed on an altar with gold they gorged.
His plan was such to claim it all
For the race who had made it had taken a fall.

Yes, I admit it’s not very good, but I think the influence is obvious. I remember having so much fun writing it too, with all those rhyming couplets.

In college English Lit classes, I was exposed to Tolkien’s influences, Anglo Saxon poetic narratives, such as Beowulf, and Middle English alliterative poems, such as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Tolkien’s use of alliteration sank very, very deep hooks into my poetic tastes. How I still adore the sounds of phrases such as “Misty Mountains”, “dungeons deep”, and “hollow halls”.

To this day my own poems often slip into alliterative phrases. I must go back through in the revision process to cut some of these, because otherwise an excess of alliteration would give a funny, archaic feel to what I’d prefer to be contemporary sounding poems. Yet I never cut the alliteration entirely, because those sounds are what first won me over to poetry. For me that stylistic tool still contains a bit of magic.

It’s not only fun to reminisce about a formative poetry-related experience; it’s also informative to your current writing to be aware of it. Perhaps by looking back at influential poems you can become more conscious about the stylistic and thematic choices you now make as a poet. Try to identify and revisit the poems that made the earliest imprint on you. You might just rediscover a “mighty spell”.

Keith Badowski is employed by a Methodist church in Phenix City, AL. His poems have appeared sporadically over the years in publications such as Oxalis, Monkey, and Rambunctious Review. To learn just how big a geek he is, visit his blog, entitled “There Goes the Top of My Head” which is found at

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Star Trek (TOS) Book Review: Heart of the Sun (1997) by Pamela Sargent and George Zebrowski

Heart of the Sun is a Star Trek novel that takes place during Kirk, Spock, and McCoy’s initial five year mission with the Enterprise. The main theme here is isolationism as a societal principal with two cultures as examples. The first is a human colony that wishes non-interference from the Federation. The other is an alien race that has sealed itself in its own virtual reality and wants nothing whatsoever to do with the real universe outside.

The characterization for Spock and McCoy is spot on. However, Kirk seems not entirely himself. The captain is cast in a diplomatic role here and not allowed to be his usual ladies man. Still his command decisions are at times bold as in “boldly going.” I just got the sense that Kirk was far too concerned with the threats of consequences should this mission not wrap up smoothly.

I was pleased to see that the solution for the alien encounter involved the friendship dynamic of the main three, Kirk, Spock, and McCoy. Star Trek’s primary pleasure for me is the chemistry between these characters, thus I particularly love it when the friendship of this trio is shown as vital to plot.

Probably my biggest complaint in this novel was that throughout the middle, as they are investigate the alien mobile and attempt to divert it from its course toward Tyrtaeus II’s sun, there’s an awful lot of repetition. Over and over the crew try to shift the mobile’s orbit, but time and time again the mobile readjusts it’s course toward the sun. Repeatedly Kirk and Scotty discuss the risks of being unable to retrieve Spock, once he boards the mobile. And numerous times these same worries are described as the thoughts of Kirk or McCoy. Apparently the authors were trying to create tension by stressing these problems. However, the effect on me was tedium. I found myself beginning to skim, reading the dialogue only to follow the story to its end.

So while the prose and dialogue of Heart of the Sun were skillfully written, the slow pace of the action and the repeated worries bogged down the enjoyment factor. As “The Original Series” books go, I’d characterize this one as “Good” but not “Great.”

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Looking for Poets and Poetry Junkies In the Columbus, GA and Phenix City, AL Areas

Press Release Brick Road Poetry Posse May 6, 2008

Event Name: Poetry Workshop
Description: Poets from Phenix City and Columbus are invited to a poetry writing workshop. There is no cost for this event. Dessert and coffee are provided. Participants give each other feedback on their poems with the goal of improving them. The workshop is led by published poets. All styles of poetry are welcome. Please bring copies of your poem to share. We meet every 3rd Thursday of the month.
Sponsor: Brick Road Poetry Posse
Time: 7 pm
Date: Thursday, May 15th, June 19th, July 17th, August 21st --Meets every 3rd Thursday
Location: 513 Broadway Columbus, GA (in the Historic District)
Cost: Free
Call for Info: Ron Self, at (706) 221-4370
Event Name: Open Mic Poetry Reading
Description: Come read aloud your own poems or poems by your favorite poet. There is usually a featured poet.
Sponsor: Brick Road Poetry Posse
Time: 7 pm
Date: Thursday, June 5th, July 3rd, August 7th, Sept. 4th (meets every 1st Thursday of the month)
Location: Columbus Public Library 3000 Macon Road Columbus, Georgia 31906 in one of the meeting rooms near the auditorium
Cost: Free
Call for Info: Keith Badowski (334) 448-4715

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Retro Review: "It Didn't Happen" (1963) by Fredric Brown

On the treadmill this morning I read a story from the collection The Best of Fredric Brown, edited by Robert Bloch. Brown’s stories appeared from the 1940’s thru the 60’s in such publications at The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Weird Tales, GALAXY magazine, and Playboy. “It Didn’t Happen,” the story I consumed this morning, originally appeared in Playboy, October 1963—which perhaps explains perhaps the opening scene set in a strip-joint. A stripper, Queenie Quinn, is murdered by Lorenz Kane because she violently objects to his solicitous approaches. Lorenz is quickly arrested and held for the murder, after all there are witnesses that place him at the joint that evening, including the security guard who admitted him backstage. The gun is found in Lorenz’s possession and the slugs match. An open and shut case. But not so fast. Lorenz tells his lawyer a story of strange perception. His story turns into a treatise on Ontology and solipsism. He claims to have had several odd experiences which convinced him that he was real, while many of the other people he encountered in the world were not. Lorenz doesn’t claim to be the only real person, with the world being his own imaginary creation; he thinks that there are an unknown number of real people sharing the world with those who are imagined constructs. I’ll not reveal the conclusion to the story, but suffice it to say there’s a twist and it wraps up quickly. Most of the tale is told in passable dialogue. As with most stories of this length, there’s not enough space for deep character development. Really the main draw here is the eerie concept. Mainly Fredric Brown is drawing on that old perception of how does one know what is real and what is only one’s perception or imagination. How can anyone prove that life is nothing more than a dream? I found the story to be a fun, quick read in the vein of a Twilight Zone episode.