I’ve been reading some Dick…

As in Philip K. Dick, the sci-fi  author. The book is Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep which is the book that the movie Blade Runner is based on. Yes, that book. Yes that movie.

What I’m finding is interesting. For one thing Dick is not all that smooth a writer. His copy is disjoined at times, his characters talk past each other, his worlds are put together with glue and despair, and not much else. But oh can this man write. Its the little quirks he gives, little throw away lines, that say so much. One character says, “Hey, I think this dead cat is going to decay” and then he smiles (for a completely different reason). But still the juxtaposition is perfect. So you have to ignore the bumpy parts of the prose and the plotting, and then you get these wonderful little gems of character development. Crazy, yes. But still gems.

The Jesus Parade

Coming off the subway today around noon (Hey, its when they called me in), I climbed the stairs to wait for my normal bus, and instead wandered into a surreal scene on the Hollywood sidewalks. The bus stop is right at Hollywood and Highland, and for those of you who are not native to the area, it is a very large tourist attraction. Madam Tossuad’s is there, along with Ripply’s museum, the stars on the sidewalk and the hand/foot prints at the Chinese Theater. All of this is right in this area, so it is always abounding with tourists.

So today when I came up the stairs, I heard this large commotion. It was the sound of a large group of people talking. When I got to street level I was just in time to catch a parade going past on the sidewalk. And what a parade it was. There was about 40-50 people, all with matching white shirts, marching together in a group. One guy lead the procession with a very large cross that read “Jesus Saves”. He was followed by a guy with a huge banner (4′ wide, and probably 8′ tall) that said something about Jesus and had korean symbols on it (I think, I don’t read Korean). Then the main group came. In their midst was a guy with a microphone, and as they passed he was leading them in some kind of chant “Jesus loves you. Jesus saves.” Over and over. Trailing the group was another man with a large cross like the first guy. Each and every one of the people was asian, and as near as I could tell, not American’s but foreigners.

Right before my bus arrived, they came back up the opposed side of the street so I got to see them twice. The group was pretty interesting. They marched along all happy, and enthusiastic about Jesus. They made a lot of noise. Everyone else on the sidewalk got out of their way. Beyond the irony of foreigners coming to America to preach about Jesus, the whole experience was just plain weird. It was as if they has no sense of stage craft. Did they think they could simply march by, and people would suddenly be converted to Christianity? Why did they feel the need to talk about Jesus there, and in that bizarre manner? I mean, marching? Yelling?

You’ll notice I’m not complaining about them. There’s a reason for this. You see I myself have done something similar, back when I was a board-again. So I have some sympathy for them, or at least feel like I can’t say shit without coming off as the world’s biggest hypocrite. Still it makes me wonder why a group of people would take the time and energy to get all organized, come down to LA, and then act stupid. This wasn’t about “us” getting saved. It was about “them” bragging about how religious they are. So why can’t they do that at home, and save themselves the money, and me the spectacle of watching a group perform without the the least bit of understanding of how a performance works.

But I’m pretty sure Jesus loves me now.

Dream within a dream

Last night I woke up around 1:30 in the morning. In my dream I was flying in a plane. It was a huge plane, large enough that one could stand inside the hollow wings. The plane was made of thin sheets of foam, layered and layered on each other, with carbon fiber reinforcement.  As it was flying I could hear the wing creak as it flexed, I could see the light coming though the foam, I could hear the electric motors humming. It was all very cool.

When I woke, it came to me what I was doing in the plane, and why. It was a story idea, a good one. a nice Heinleinesque beginning with a made-up close call to get the reader in the action, and then a quasi informative, quasi love-story unfolds afterwards.

So I sat there, with all of this running through my head, and I groaned. I couldn’t let this pass. It was too good. I knew it. So I got up, and stumbled into the office. turned on the new computer, and starting typing. About an hour later I had churned out a bit over 1000 words, and had written most of the opening scene. So I got up, and climbed back into bed.

The only problem was how I had ended the scene. After I had laid out everything I had gone over in my head (while laying in bed wondering if it was worth it to get up) I had added a throw away line about how the main character almost died later that week. My mind was thinking WTF, but it was very late, and I’ve learned not to question my subconscious. So I banged it out, and went to bed.

The thing is, as I was trying to go back to sleep, that line kept bugging me. What was it he did that almost killed him? Before I knew it, the rest of the story clicked in place. This happens often to me on short stories. I’ll start to write the story, and once I get into it long enough to nail the tone, then the rest of the story sort of falls into place.

So now I was sitting there knowing what else is going to happen, and wondering if I will forget it if I don’t write it down. After a long while I got back up, stumbled back into the office, and starting fleshing out the rest of the story. An hour later, I finally ran out of steam.

So its back to bed. Again. And wouldn’t you know it, the muse is still full of ideas. OMG, I’m thinking. It’s fricken 3:30 in the morning, and you still want me to write? Well this time I decided to try to memorize the important parts and then drop off to sleep. It took me forever, but finally I did sleep, although my feet never did get warm after that second session. I kept having to rearrange the blankets to try and stop the occasional draft.

When I got up this morning, the ideas were still fresh. So after helping Trevor with some homework, and getting a light breakfast in, I wandered into the office, and fleshed out the story outline. And it all came back. Cool.

The story is called “Take Off”. Look for more comments about it here.

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