I must lead the creative life: my correspondence with Ray Bradbury

“Tom! Come see the play next Sat night. -Ray” Bradbury thought I was a guy named Tom which was perfectly all right with me.

Ray Bradbury died this week. and his death couldn’t have been timed more perfectly.  I had been out of the routine of writing every day because as most insecure writers feel, I did not know if what I think means anything new or important.

A quote by Bradbury flashed through my mind a few days ago.  Sometimes that happens before I learn of someone dying.  I don’t think it’s a sixth sense, it’s more kismet.  The quote is from Zen in the Art of Writing:

“Every morning I jump out of bed and step on a landmine. The landmine is me. After the explosion, I spend the rest of the day putting the pieces together. Now, it’s your turn. Jump!”

His routine was to write a thousand words in the morning (the landmine) then spend the rest of the day editing (putting the pieces together).

About 3 years ago I was mesmerized by an English teacher friend who had been corresponding with Bradbury for years.  I thought I’d give it a try and send him two of my poems.  He sent them back to me with this note scrawled:

“Tom!” AI (I think) Thanks! – Ray” I guess my handwritten name might have looked liked Tom to the 89-year-old Bradbury.

He included the next item which is my favorite piece.  It’s a brochure about Fahrenheit 451 in Spanish.  You can see the ragged edges, where he cut it to fit into the envelope I included with my poems:

“Tom! Love!”

Here is the play he invited me to, Falling Upward:

Although I included an envelope, I mistakenly forgot to include a stamp.  Luckily Bradbury had a stamp of Edgar Allan Poe, whom he referred to as “Ray’s Papa.”

In a story he tells on his website about how he became a writer, he talks about meeting a magician named Mr. Electrico at a carnival:

Mr. Electrico was a fantastic creator of marvels. He sat in his electric chair every night and was electrocuted in front of all the people, young and old, of Waukegan, Illinois. When the electricity surged through his body he raised a sword and knighted all the kids sitting in the front row below his platform. I had been to see Mr. Electrico the night before. When he reached me, he pointed his sword at my head and touched my brow. The electricity rushed down the sword, inside my skull, made my hair stand up and sparks fly out of my ears. He then shouted at me, “Live forever!”

It was then, Bradbury said, that he knew he must lead the creative life.  And through that creative life, he did exactly as Mr. Electrico commanded him.

Advertisements

retyping the classics with hunter thompson

Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

Image via Wikipedia

I watched the Gonzo documentary before going to bed so naturally I dreamed of Hunter Thompson. He was with me at a party with all the young dudes as the David Bowie song goes.

I convinced these young men that Hunter was alive and well and within these 4 walls. They all got up to talk to him like teen girls with the Beatles in 1964.

I learned from the documentary that he had a sweet side which you can see in the way he touches his chin in an episode of To Tell the Truth. Both of his wives said he had a vicious side, like when he screams at one of them to find his g–damn medicine.

I also learned that Ralph Steadman, Hunter’s illustrator, is not a crazy person. I mistakenly thought so based on his work as you can see here:

image via signatureillustration.org

He appears normal and well-spoken, like a nice gentleman you pass in the supermarket as shown here:

British cartoonist and caricaturist Ralph Stea...

Image via Wikipedia

In the film Hunter said he typed the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald (Great Gatsby) over and over just to get the flow. Did it work for him? Obviously.

So to get over the dreaded writers block that possessed me over the holidays I’ll do what Hunter did with the Gatsby.

Instead of writing I rewrite.

I checked out classics from the library by authors like Bradbury, Faulkner, Conan Doyle, and Fenimore Cooper. What a way to feel like the author to retype their words, to see what they saw and what made them get it all down on paper. You don’t get that by just copy/pasting.

So because of Hunter sneaking into my dreams I remembered the most vital part of writing: rewriting. I’m ready for more trips into the subconscious as long as the Steadman drawings stay at home.

midnight in paris: on a whim movie review

Salvador Dali with ocelot and cane.

Image via Wikipedia

I was in the mood for an artist’s date yesterday and in true form, I planned nothing ahead except for bring with me a free movie pass I won in a raffle.

Without checking to see what was playing, I went to the theater to see what movie was starting next.  One couple bought tickets to Midnight in Paris.  I’m not a movie goer so I’m not familiar with anything on the silver screen that doesn’t involve Harry Potter. The couple said it was a Woody Allen film.  I’ve loved his movies for many years but got creeped out with him marrying Mia Farrow’s daughter, but I thought I’ll give it a shot.

And what a shot it was.  We hear but not see Owen Wilson as Gil Pender talking to his fiancée (Rachel McAdams) about how tired he is of being a hollywood hack and how he wants to live in Paris to write a novel but she wants to stay in Malibu. They are in France on business with her parents so they take in the sights.

Gil goes for a walk at midnight and on a whim he gets picked up in a cab from the 1920s with some partygoers. At the party he meets Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, while Cole Porter entertains on the piano.  The Fitzgeralds take Gil to a bar where they meet Hemingway then see Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates) where he gives her his novel to critique.  By the way, Picasso is with Stein analyzing a painting I swear looks like something my 7-year-old concocted, but hey, it’s Picasso.

Other artists from the 1920s make appearances such as Adrian Brody as Salvador Dali.  I never knew Dali could be so sexy and crazy at the same time especially since he only spoke of rhinoceroses.

This is the kind of movie I’d write.  Or it would at least be in my dream journal.  It was like walking through all of my lit and art courses in college.  If this movie existed back then, I’d have straight A’s, no problem.  We want to see the people we study come to life.

After the movie I felt inspired as an artist so on a whim I walked to Michael’s.  I still felt like I was in the movie as I walked by an Italian restaurant as a street performer sang, “It’s a wonderful night for a moon dance.”  I walked straight to the artist supplies and saw sketchbooks on sale, so I picked one up with some charcoal pencils.  I plan on using these at the beach today like Reginald Marsh as he sketched by the ocean.

What a terrific unplanned artist’s date’ it’s something we all need to unblock our creativity.  I give this movie a rating of all the stars Vincent Van Gogh ever painted.

vote slim paley for a homie!

Slim Paley Photo

Do me a rockin’ favor and vote for Slim Paley for a “Homie” for Best Home Design Blog at Apartment Therapy.  Here’s the link:  http://bit.ly/edYKZo

First check out the site – it’s chock full of pictures of the author’s homes and gardens, vacation pictures from around the world, and incredibly high-heeled shoes.  What sets Slim apart from the other home design blogs is her witty commentary and soundtracks.  Think if Martha Stewart, Elaine May and Vivienne Westwood had a baby.  That’s Slim.

Then go to Apartment Therapy’s site here to vote.   Scroll down to vote in the poll, then scroll down to the bottom and input this info into the comment field:

Name: Slim Paley
URL: http://slimpaley.com

It requires registration to vote, which might be quick or a little finicky, but please be patient.  It’s worth it.

3 dead people I want to meet

The book My Listography: My Amazing Life in Lists asks me to “List people you would like to meet.” No one comes to mind because I’ve met all the people I want to.  So I changed the title to “List DEAD people you would like to meet.”  Here we go:

1.  Hunter S. Thompson, because I’m p.o.’d at him.  He went too early and I’d love to know what he thinks of the current administration.  I’d love to read more road stories, more campaign stories, more just-anything stories.  But the main reason I’m mad?  He never met ME.  So you blew it, Hunter.  Because I know as hard and crotchety you are, I could have made you laugh.

So, if I were to meet him, I’d run up and tell him off.  Then I’d give him a great big bear hug and run gleefully away as he tells me to get the hell away from him.  Pure bliss.

2.  Waylon Jennings, because I never introduced him to my daughter Holly.  He has a son named Buddy.  Since Waylon was with Buddy Holly the night he died, I always thought the names of our children were bits of pure planned coincidence.  If one was to open the dictionary to MAN, you’d see Waylon’s picture.

The only question I’d ask:  “How come you quit drugs and clocked out early when Willie Nelson is alive and higher than the Mir space station?”

3.  George Harrison, just so I could ask God why he took away this quiet soul so early.  When George left, he still left a spirit around in the air, like when you shake talcum powder and some of it still floats and lingers before it silently falls to the ground.

I’d ask, “What impression would you most want us to remember?”  And I’d leave it at that, because I can’t begin to answer.

life is good: more dennis miller

Here’s a clip from Friday night at Fox Performing Arts Center in Riverside.  This was before the show as Dennis Miller has photos taken for the Riverside Arts Center Foundation.

You hear my goofy laugh while a man across the room talks about Wisconsin.  Later I spoke with him to find out he’s from Delafield and he’s made fun of because of his accent.   People from our parts say WisCAAAAHHHHHNsin.   What accent?

Dennis walks toward me for a hug and I forget to turn the camera off – do you like the close up of the grid-like pattern of his shirt?  Then we get a lovely view of my hand on the lens as he asks me, “Is life good?” And I reply, “Everything’s good.”

Definitely.

I’m still flitting: meeting dennis miller

I had the pleasure to see Dennis Miller (with opening act Julia Lillis) at the Fox Performing Arts Center in Riverside tonight.  He told a sweet story about his 69-year-old mother who got to have dinner with her son and Frank Sinatra 6 months before her death.

She told Sinatra, “I saw you in 1952 at the Stanley Theater in Pittsburgh.”

Sinatra replied, “1952, Stanley Theater?  I remember you. You were on the left.  You looked GOOD.”

Dennis said his mom “flitted” away.

Tonight, I got to meet Dennis backstage before the show.  The way his mom felt when she met Sinatra?  Yeah, that’s how I feel right now. I’m still flitting.