star wars day

Hello, readers.

This past Saturday, Star Wars Day happened at the BFI at London’s southbank. Here’s a picture of that.

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From 11 in the morning until 8:20 in the evening, me and a shiny, fairly new friend watched the original trilogy flicker past. There was that fantastic opening shot that framed the scale of the struggle; that tiny rebel ship pursued by a rumbling, neverending star destroyer. There was Luke being all dramatic, looking off into the horizon at the twin suns setting, longing for adventure, for anywhere but here. That shot stays with me as much, or more, than most others. Simple. Beautiful. And that score by John Williams welling up in the background.

When Greedo shot first, people in the audience booed. I wasn’t sure what to make of that. There were a few boo’s to go along with the cheers. These were the special editions being screened. I don’t remember now if I was one of those, a long time ago, who felt so cheated by Lucas for tinkering with our childhood. Older, now, different, I don’t care. The movies I watched as a child only exist in my mind anyway, and it’s in my mind that I watch them now, seeing not just the films themselves, understanding again how beautiful they are, how superbly edited, how perfectly orchestrated (such a soundscape!), but seeing more–seeing how they sit in culture, in terms of feminism, in terms of people of color, in terms of the dawning age of computers and automation, the eternal struggle between human and machine, and not just machine in terms of electronics, but machines in terms of our own emotions, our bodies sometimes acting like mechanisms of hate and lust and love and fear. The lessons of Star Wars, of Yoda, as simple as they are, as mythic and profound they seemed to me as a child, still matter. I still watch Yoda lift that X-wing out of the swamp and hear Luke say, “I don’t believe it,” and Yoda say, “That is why you fail,” and I know that those are words worth remembering.

There was, before Empire Strikes Back, an introduction from Billy Dee Williams, clearly speaking about the presence of race in Star Wars, of how for some, the first Star Wars existed as a white-washed future in which the only person of color was Darth Vader, and he, just a fashion and a voice, at that. Also, evil. Williams spoke about Lucas wanting to answer those critics, to include a different perspective. And, what was wild and sad and confusing, was how Williams seemed to be avoiding words like race or black in his introduction. I don’t know why. He said he was a person of the world. Which he is. I was sad when some parts of reality were upset that the first face in the The Force Awakens trailer belonged to John Boyega, a person of color.

I hope that in forty years, we remember his face, and these new stories, as fondly as we remembered those first three. I hope, and this is a lot of hope, is that somehow these new films touch on the old new myth of Star Wars, mixing together fairy tales and science fiction in a way that open up a new chapter in the neverending struggle between humans and the mechanisms they design: philosophies, religions, governments, beliefs. I want a new myth from an old story. It’s what I always want, really. I want a new way to see.

When the evening ended, and there was Luke fighting Vader, and Vader as a ghost (and more boo’s) and there was my friend experiencing ridiculous amounts of joy at the Ewoks, I was left feeling as much like myself as I could feel. Which is a strange thing to say, because, how do people ever not feel like themselves, but they do, and there’s not much you can do about it. It happens with time and space. And, if you’re lucky, there are people and stories that remind you who you were at the same time they let you grow. Every time I see Star Wars, I am older than I was, and different, and the same boy who stared at the setting suns and wanted more. Much as the films themselves.

They’re just stories, of course. But so is everything.

Happy Monday, readers.

ttfn.

sunny spells and cloudy bits

Hello, readers.

One of the things about England is the weather. The weather is one of the things about everything, of course. Even space has weather. Scientist call it space weather. Scientists are brilliant.

The thing about the thing about England that is weather is that it varies quite markedly from street to street, sometimes from shop to shop. Such that one might walk into one side of a shopping mall having exited from a sunny day, and then walk out the other side of the mall, ten minutes later, into fog. Perhaps even some torrential rain. EG says that the way weather forecasts occur in England says a lot about the country, and the necessity of indefiniteness. A man, she says, stands on the screen, waving his hand noncommittedly about the country, proclaiming that here, “We may seen some sunny spells, and over here, a few cloudy bits.”

Occasional weather, readers. OCCASIONAL WEATHER. I will stop shouting now. Yesterday, I shouted STAR WARS at someone in a text and nearly gave them a heart attack. I’m sorry about that.

Here are some things you should be consuming over the weekend:

1) Kenneth: A User’s Manual by Sam J. Miller

2) 25 Invisible Benefits of Gaming While Male

3) South Korea fall scenery by drone.

4) One Gram Short by Etgar Keret

5) Margaret Stackhouse, a fifteen-year-old at the time, gives her thoughts about 2001: A Space Odyssey. Kubrick said of them, at the time:

“Margaret Stackhouse’s speculations on the film are perhaps the most intelligent that I’ve read anywhere, and I am, of course, including all the reviews and the articles that have appeared on the film and the many hundreds of letters that I have received. What a first-rate intelligence!”

Happy Friday, readers.

Be well. Do good work. Keep in touch.

If nothing else, at least occasionally.

ttfn.

occasionally

Hello, readers.

Occasionally, one has lunch in the gardens of Gray’s Inn, sitting on a bench, resting your styrofoam-held tempeh curry precariously on one knee, and you listen to EG discuss how, once upon a time, this area was full of barristers and solicitors–all those hopes and frustrations discussed and written and argued within chambers around the square–and the trees stand watch along the lane, other people having other lunches beneath, leaves flashing gold and tumbling in their own occasional space and time the way, sometimes, EG says that she imagines me walking along the streets of London, duffel coat tucked tight, scarf snaking loose along one shoulder, occasionally pulling a hand from my pocket to let the emotions tumble free like leaves along the pavement, waiting.

Occasionally, these things happen.

Happy today, readers.

ttfn.

remember, remember

Hello, readers.

image
from Mirror (UK)

The Southwark Fireworks Display includes music, circuses of fire and light, food and drink stalls, and, so far as I can see, very little mention of what Bonfire Night in the UK (apparently it’s celebrated on different days for different reasons in different countries) actually refers to, which was remembering and remembering how on the fifth of November, erm, ing, during the gunpowder, treason, and plot, the King and Parliament survived being blown up and so celebrated by setting things on fire.

In the olden days, apparently, it was known as Gunpowder Treason Day and somehow or other attracted a very anti-Catholic sentiment during which, as Wikipedia puts it, Puritans gave sermons on the ‘dangers of popery’. Followed by children begging about town with effigies of Guy Fawkes (did they carry them like torches?) and so the day became known as Guy Fawkes day. Also, there were class riots.

Most of these things, readers, I’m not sure anyone remembers.

Now, it’s all about fireworks and things going boom.

The other night, at BFI Southbank, there was a showing of Brazil (introduced by Paul McAuley). In the film there was a scene in a restaurant in which a bomb goes off and there is much blood and horror, but everyone not directly affected goes on about their day doing their very best to ignore the bombs and the blood, the waiter even pulling a bamboo screen across the carnage so as to better allow his diners to ignore what was happening on the other side.

It felt very apropos to most of life, and I was scared that my life was mostly spent eating food at a table with a veil drawn across what I didn’t want to see. I would prefer to see, rather than not see, or so I tell myself, but I imagine this is what everyone tells themselves all the while some secret waiter, in some secret part of their mind, draws veils and curtains and shuts doors and whispers, “Oh, no, nothing to see, here, nothing worth remembering anyway.”

I will be at Southwark tonight, at the festival of fire and memory, and will report back on whether anything of note (anything worth remembering, that is) burns or explodes or otherwise adds a bit of dark magic to an evening.

Happy 5th of November, readers. Happy remembering.

ttfn.

On London, Vlogs, and Everything

On London, Vlogs, and Everything

Hello, readers.

A few things of note.

1) The Red Volume, the anthology created by me and my fellow Awkward Robots of Clarion 2012, is go! 17 awesome stories of weirdness, wonder, and terror (also, possibly, love) written by 17 awesome people who are also, by turns, full of weirdness, wonder, terror, and love. One of these stories is mine. And it’s a musical with rodeo clowns, cowboys, and a ghost.

We put this thing together to support the Clarion foundation which is a great bunch of people who put together, every year, a great bunch of professional writers and soon-to-be professional writers and let them go at each other on the campus of UCSD. It was absolutely one of the greatest experiences of my life and I’ve come out of it with a family of awesome that will go forth and be awesome and we wanted to give back so that more awesome could happen for more awesome people.

Enough awesome.

Go here: https://gumroad.com/l/awkbotsred

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Give what you want. If you want the thing for free, take it for free. If you want to pay, know that the proceeds (after Gumroad fees) will go to the Clarion foundation and that you are awesome.

One last awesome in there.

2) I’ve started vlogging. I love it. I get to yell at the world about all the things what I love, fear, and wonder about.

Here’s my latest video:

 

 

3) A few weeks ago, I arrived in London, but did not stay there for very long. With EG driving a car hire (or hired car)–which is how Brits refer to rental cars–we drove west to Oxford for the 80th birthday celebration of EG’s aunt. Oxford is a gorgeous city wherein there was more greenery than I imagined. There is the university, yes, and the walls are bricked with narratives of time and whatnot, and there are the cobblestone streets where Tolkien and Lewis walked, but there is also so much countryside surrounding the areas that it’s easy to imagine Tolkien and Lewis walking as much, or more, out here in the green lanes.

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My first vlog covers a bit of the journey to London, but as far as Oxford, I’ve not put that together yet into a video that is watchable. We’ll see if it happens. Something always happens.

 

 

Happy Monday, readers.

Go read some stories:

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ttfn.