The Lasting Power of Stories vis-a-vis “Flash Gordon”

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Today we had the best family laugh session in a while, thanks to Hulu.

Did you know that before the Flash Gordon of 1960s fame, there was Flash Gordon, the 1936 theatrical serial?

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Not only is it hysterically bad, it is awesomely important.

A Great and Noble Legacy

For instance, just by watching the first episode, “Planet of Peril”, you know that Gene Roddenberry and George Lucas both saw it and were impressed. So many classic points of the Star Trek and Star Wars systems are present: the necessary torn shirt in the battle scenes, the laughable monsters, the actors leaping hither and yon as their craft encounters turbulence, the scale models, the ray guns, the trap-door-accessed “Pit”.

And you hear some really decent screaming. Heroines hardly scream anymore, and when they do, it’s more of a shriek.

Perhaps even more enlightening than the clues pointing towards the sci-fi boom of the 1960s-80s (which, huh, kind of coincides with NASA developments…what a coinkydink!) was the sudden realization that there is a great chance that my grandparents went to see this in theaters. More


10 Things Every Author Can Learn from Watching “Throw Momma From the Train”


Another NaNoWriMo encouragement post!

It has been my happy lot in life to be fairly “well-connected.” Among my most prized connections is that my mother’s former college roommate is a very successful author and happens to be married to another very successful author. I had the privilege of visiting with them over a long weekend in high school and of the many things we did and talked about, one was watch the 1987 blockbuster smash Throw Momma From the Train.

This, I was told, is a must-see movie for every aspiring author. It has fundamental truths presented in both the positive imperative and the exemplary negative. I now pass on to you, from the notes I found from years ago, the top ten things every author should know after watching this film.

  1. A writer writes. Always.
  2. Write about what you know.
  3. If you don’t know, learn.
  4. You have to have a motive.
  5. Never, ever worry about finding “the perfect word.” You can use a thesaurus later. Just write.
  6. Never leave your car lights on if you’re drinking on a beach at night. (Actually, that’s a good rule for just about anyone.)
  7. Even if your (one) book is a bestseller, you’re not going to afford a beach house in Hawai’i and diamond earrings.
  8. The same situation told by different authors often turns into completely different stories.
  9. Never, ever read classic picture books as part of foreplay. Ever.
  10. A writer writes, always. Ergo, if you’re not writing, you’re not a writer. (Yes, I did use that one twice, but it’s the important message of the film.)

Our Punk Got Skunked: The Many Uses of Hydrogen Peroxide

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What with the house remodel and all, my bed has been set up on the lawn, quaintly made up in full form. At approximately 9:45 p.m. last night, my mother and I were repositioning it to my preferred location. A rustle in the bushes; a barking dog; a raised tail. Is there any other ending possible? But hark! Before you entertain visions of a tub full of tomato juice (who has more than 16 oz. of tomato juice on hand, anyway?), let me explain the many merits of hydrogen peroxide.


The Chief Justice and the Supremes

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One of the areas of our government shrouded in secrecy – or at least undistributed knowledge – is that august branch, the Supreme Court.

I wonder why the Justices aren’t called the Supremes.

Here are the things I know about the Justices:

  1. There are nine justices.
  2. They are appointed for life, or until they retire, which is much different than being appointed for life. It would be better to say they are placed in a position of unfireability. Is there no circumstance under which a justice can be fired?
  3. They decide whether certain laws or legally acceptable circumstances are discordant with the aims and declarations of the constitution.
  4. They wear black robes.

It turns out that there is a whole lot of protocol that has to be fulfilled in order for a case to be eligible to be heard by the Honorable Supremes. Even then, they get to choose which cases they want to hear. They listen and make witty and resounding rebuttals to lawyers’ nervous ramblings from Monday to Thursday, and on Friday they meet together in über-secrecy to discuss their voting, and they get a three month summer vacation. Sounds like a kooshy job.


The Power of Breathing

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In honor and recognition of the 365 days that have passed since I needed to take my high-powered anxiety attack meds (with many “huzzah!”s and much rejoicing), I thought I would elaborate to you the simple and yet highly complex function of breathing.

It is one of my traits that I require a context for everything, and so it was rational – for me, at least – to pooh-pooh the general suggestion of friends (and doctors) to “breathe” when I felt anxious, because they never gave me a reason.

What,” asked I, “could breathing possibly do to help solve this problem?”

Alas, I tell myself now, how foolish are the follies of the uneducated!