This is perhaps the single best, or at least most memorable piece of writing I have recieved online to date. A tad dated now, but still resonates when I read it.
Archive for June, 2002
Posted by shannonclark on June 28, 2002
Posted by shannonclark on June 28, 2002
I have been online and active for a very long time. Here is a link back into my distant past. The FutureCulture mailing list was founded in 1991 or so (I was one of the early members) and morphed many times. Here is one of the remaining archives.
Not sure how many of my posts survive in the archives – I will try to find them one of these days.
Posted by shannonclark on June 28, 2002
Fireworks part 1
Nope not that type of fireworks… I just sent out an invitation to bunch of my friends here in Chicago (and to a few who live nearby and might be lured to Chicago for a fun event) to join me in watching the July 3rd fireworks in Grant Park. Hopefully a number of people will be able to make it and join me in picnic, concert viewing, and fireworks gazing – along with about a million of our closest friends and neighbors.
Yes, it is a large crowd, but with a group it is a very fun experience.
I hope, however that it is not a repeat of one similar outing I planned the summer after my senior year in high school. A very large group of us made plans to go to the fireworks together, all told I think almost 30 peopel were expected. Would have been a great time and one of the last times the group of us from high school would do something together.
Would have that is… I did not make it, nor did a couple of my friends who also planned on going. We were all working as summer research interns at Argonne National labs (which was overall a very cool experience, I disassembled a particle accellerator, I helped with an accellerator run, and saw the famous white deer who live at Argonne).
Anyway, it was July 3rd and we were driving home from work, and Chad (the driver) ran a red light. In his defence, it was the second of two lights that were positioned immediately after each other in a rather odd location. We started what became a four car pile up. Miraculously other than Chad’s Ford Escort, no one was hurt.
It did make me a firm believer in wearing seatbelts, as without the seatbelt I would have flown into the windshield (and perhaps through it).
Needless to say, but I will say it anyway, we missed the group outing as we were stuck in the police station waiting for Chad’s parents to pick us up. His car was completely totaled.
So, heres to hoping that history does not in the least repeat itself, rather, this time I am planning on a fun evening with friends in the park. Will be meeting the first group (early crowd) at 5:30 across from the old Goodman theater, we will then carve out a space in the field by the music shell and enjoy a picnic, the summer evening, and music and fireworks. I may, if I am brave and have brave companions, try to get some food from the surrounding Taste of Chicago, but may well forgo that “pleasure” if the crowds are as insane as they often are.
Posted by shannonclark on June 27, 2002
Sailing the night away
Last night a business partner of mine invited me to join him on his son’s boat. He invited me at just after 5, we were to meet at his condo building and then drive up to the harbor. I left work early, and managed to join him only a few minutes late (as it turned out this was not a problem). I ate a not-so-good hamburger from Burger King so as to have had at least some food, my lunch was small.
We drove up to the harbor and met up with his sons, they told us to go get a drink and they would call us when the boat was ready, they had stuff to clean up before we could launch.
So we went the “Yacht Club” and got a drink and talked for a while about business. The “club” was not what I had envisioned, looked more like a community center than a fancy club, fake leather couchs, flimsy tables and stacking chairs, a bar out of the 1970’s and a food serving area from the same era (they have food available apparently, not very appetizing looking however). Somewhat strange environment, with the photos of old greying men on the walls (the “commondantes” I think).
However it was a productive business meeting, as I suspected that it would be.
Finally we got on the boat – after a small scare when my cell phone came tumbling down as I was getting on, luckily it landed on the boat and not in Lake Michigan.
The boat itself was very impressive, it was over 30 feet long, sleeps 5, with a cabin area big enough to stand up in, and tons of little nooks and crannies to store stuff. In fact, on of my business partner’s sons who owns the boat will be taking it on his honeymoon – he and his wife will sail it down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico and then on to Florida, they plan on living and working in Florida for a while (living on the boat) and then plan in about a year or so on sailing up the coast, through the St. Lawerence river and then down the Great Lakes back to Chicago (assuming that they don’t just find someplace to stay and live).
Sailing was very cool, and very fun. Especially since as I was in the company of three experienced sailors, all I did was sit and look back at the Chicago Skyline, or at the many other boats out on the lake enjoying the weather and the evening.
Some boats were racing, forming lines of sailboats, all of the same size and basic shape, moving across the horizon.
All in all, not a bad way to spend an evening at all – not very “productive” as such, but certainly a lot of fun, relaxing, enjoyable, and freeing. I hope I get invited back before the long journey begins (though my partner’s other son also has another boat, albiet a slightly smaller one, which is currently docked on land – so even when this big boat leaves town they will probably have a boat in the water.
My life is picking up speed it seems – more stuff to do, more people to do it with, and more interesting stuff at that. Bodes well for the rest of the summer. My next big “thing” is getting a group together to watch the fireworks here in Chicago on the 3rd, and probably to first listen to the free concerts in the park and partake in the massive amounts of food available at the Taste of Chicago. All activities much more enjoyable with a big group – my current plan is to meet up with one group of people and grab space on the lawn – then people can go get food and drink in smaller groups and reassemble, as well, people who arrive late can phone somoene’s cell (probably mine) and learn where we are camped out – should be fun whether I get a few friends or dozens of friends and friends of friends.
Posted by shannonclark on June 25, 2002
Late nights, random thoughts
Well I am here at the office til too late once again. Not a great habit that I am, certainly not getting much written of my own since after I leave here in a few minutes, I will have to get dinner and get home (walking). I have food at home, but at this hour I am so hungry I will probably stop somewhere on the way so as to eat that much sooner, with this late hour (almost 10:00pm) that means that I will probably be eating so-so take out chinese, not the healthiest food around.
Why do I do this?
For one, it is quiet here at night, and I get a fair amount done (though tonight that meant playing games – but it was all in the name of research, really). I am serious about that, I am helping a friend who may be starting an gaming company, so tonight I was researching an online game site (well a couple of them) – I even wrote up my analysis for him in a long email.
One reason I stay late is that I arrive late.
I arrive late because I wake up late.
I wake up late because I go to sleep late (okay, early in the morning).
I go to sleep late because I was not tired, often because I had too much food and coffee too late at night.
I eat so late at night because I don’t get out of the office until late – and so the cycle has started.
Last night I did, in fact a lot of stuff – I read hundreds of pages of government documents (okay, skimmed most of them). This I did at a local cafe (and yes, I drank coffee). I left there at around 2:00am, I then did my laundry at home and did not get to bed until around 4:00am.
This is a pattern I have often fallen into. I tend to stay up very late because I am in fact quite productive, especially from about 11:00pm until about 3:00am or so (less productive in the early evening for some reason). This means however, that I am usually not up very early in the morning.
On the otherhand, the earlier in the morning that I get up (and I mean actually out of my bed, showered, and out of the house) the more productive I tend to be – and the better I usually feel. My best days typically are days when I am up around dawn, actually eat breakfast, and get on with my day.
Clearly this does not work well when staying up and not getting to sleep until 2 or 3 in the morning.
Probably there is a schedule for me that involves strategic napping which would work very well, but so far I have not found it.
When I do, I will share the secret…
Posted by shannonclark on June 25, 2002
Well last night I read an interesting story by Nancy Kress which I got from SciFiction. On the website it is spread over two pages, so I printed it out and read it over my late night dinner.
In printing it, I printed the first page, then the second page (which were each many paper pages long). Because of this the second page came off the printer on top of the first. Not noticing this, I stapled it and left my office.
I mention all of this because the second half of the story was better, I think, than reading the first and second parts together. What was eluded to and hinted at, ver well I thnk, in the second half, was in fact covered in great detail in the first half.
It is an interesting observation for me – may tell something about my changing tastes, but the second page worked extremely well for me because it just lept right into the middle of the story and then pulled you along (with some minor rough patches), there was much to “figure out” but it was all clear in the end, and then final end hinted (but did not reveal) at some very neat ideas about Alien/Human contact.
It makes me wonder whether I should do something similar myself, take a story that I think is complete and look to lop off the beginning – or at least consider starting the tale later in the story.
Posted by shannonclark on June 23, 2002
Writing here, not writing there
Just got back from Mary Anne’s potluck – lots of fun, great food, wonderful conversation, great people – and I am feeling inspired to write – so while this is indeed writing, it is not that productive of writing, so I will try to leave here quickly, take a computer with me (here is my office – have I mentioned I almost never access the web from home these days – not sure if this is a good or a bad habit of mine, at least not access via anything other than my cell phone, which severely limits the usability)
Tonight I want to really write – I promised myself I would write some yesturday, but that did not in fact occur – not for any great reason other than I got distracted on the Internet (hey, it happens).
I want to write a story, not just thoughts or note or ideas, but actually try to write a idea, complete with the building up of tension from the beginning to the end (and with an end, this is very important, many things that I write do not have ends, at least not yet – I tend to write them as if a play, writing the scenes one following the other without knowing precising where it is all leading or where it will end up.
In conversation this afternoon I also mentioned my desire to turn the novel I am working on into a movie script – this may in fact be a highly productive approach for me to start taking – it forces me to cut the scenes to their essenses, and it will force me to resolve the dilemnas that I have set up – and I think that the movie as whole would be both and interesting story, visually attractive, reasonable to actually film, and compelling as a story arc. I mentioned that the trailers would be an element that I would also write – I think that this is, perhaps, where I will start – writing the trailers.
In the course of seeing the movie, the trailers would probably all be shown prior to the start of the film – they would each offer something about what is going on, and would drop hints of what is to come, but they would very importantly all be original scenes and viewpoints, they would not be showing parts of the film before people saw the film itself.
Not because my film will have only a few key scene, or that my film would have “secrets” but rather because I feel this is the way to tell stories – not to let the punchlines (visual and/or verbal) out before telling the story.
Also I believe strongly in the concept of “in situ” scoring, that is, anything that the audiance is hearing corresponds with songs or sounds that the characters are hearing – so rather than be a soundtrack over the story, the music is a crucial part of the tale.
This, in the case of my novel, will allow me to have some very cool combinations of sounds – from techno/alt-rock in my modern sections, to hippie music in the sections in the 60’s, to great bands and other old classics for the scenes in the 1940’s, to live music of various ethnicities in the 1870’s (the fiddler playing while a fire rages is an image I can see),
Well more on that when I have written it – my goal tonight is to write a standalone tale, or at least a self-contained one, possibly as part of something else I am wroking one, but possibly just all by itself.
Posted by shannonclark on June 22, 2002
Dreams and Mosquitoes oh my oh my.
Last night, well to be fully truthful, this morning as I did not get to bed until almost five, I had a very cool dream, one that I hope will come true some day. Now, if only I could remember the full details…
In the dream, I was having a meal with a bunch of people, including a publisher. The publisher had somehow seen some chapters of a book that I was writing and decided to buy a whole series from me, for a very large advance. Okay, so this is truly a dream, but it was so much fun in the dream, and whats more, there was something in there that I do hope to use – and the idea of selling the book(s) well thats a bonus.
I really should be in the habit of keeping a computer or at least a notebook near my bed for nights (or days) such as today. In the dream I went through a very complexly imagined series, not at all like either of the novels I am in fact currently working on. Even the overall tone of what I can recall seeing of my writing in the dream was not the style that I have been using (which may be my subconcious telling me to consider some changes in my writing?)
It was just such a cool dream, and so unlike what my dreams have been for many years – which is why I make note of it.
In part I am sure it because I have been hanging around so many writers, which is a very good thing, but it is also a mental shift for me to dream about myself.
Perhaps this is unique to me, but I do not generally dream about myself (okay, we’re leaving aside waking fantasies for the moment) – rather my dreams tend to be mini-movies with complex stories, often multiple characters and almost always camera angles – that is, my dreams tend not to be from the perspective of one character but tend to be of movies or stories happening to someone else – very rarely at least in the past few years – have I dreamt dreams specifically and clearly about myself.
Also, my dreams do not normally include my friends, but this dream did (I won’t however name names) – my friends were there and offered congrats etc in the course of the dream.
My thoughts have been turning towards not just finding time to write, but actually thinking about what I am writing and why I am writing it. I know that within me there are many stories to tell, that I can string words together (and even sometimes thoughts), that I have perspectives and views that are unique (and hopefully interesting), and that I should be able to distill from the readings that I have done and liked a sense of how to create and tell stories that people will want to read and experience.
I also know that my interests being what they are, that I will probably cross genres and mediums in the course of creating and telling my stories – I tend to think in a very visual manner, though my writings may not always do my visions justice, so I know that I will want to create not just stories or books, but also visual versions of these tales – whether that means plays, tv shows, or movies I am not certain.
In a great conversation I had last night with a friend we talked about writing and many other things. She suggested to me that an advantage of mastering short stories is that they offer a means of getting quick feedback and input – that over time getting multiple feedbacks on many short stories will help point to your blind spots and problem areas on which you should work. This is not something I had considered before, but then I have been writing into a vacumn for the past many years – most of what I have written has been unread by anyone (if you are interested in reading some of it, drop me an email) – this is very much like working without a net.
On the other hand however, there are some large sections of my writings which have been read by many people over the past few years – these are my letter writings, especially to online discussion groups such as Minciu Sodas where I have frequently written three or more long messages in single day. These have been read for content, not for writing quality – so the feedback has been towards my ideas and less towards how I convey them – though I do seem to have had an effect on at least some of my readers which is a very satisfying event indeed.
My impulse also is to write to tell somewhat complex stories, usually stories that I myself do not know until I complete them, that is, I set up the scene and the characters, but then in my writing I am learning what will happen and who the characters are – the times when I have had a plan of what I want to cover I have found my energy for writing much diminished.
Tonight I think that I will write for a few hours at the Starbucks near my house (perhaps also while doing a few loads of laundry – my major weekend chore, though I may do that tomorrow morning while preparing food for the potluck). In my writing tonight I will try to write from the impulse that inspired my dream – that is, write something (perhaps as a part of something I have already begun) that is deliberately intended to be read and sold – this is very different from my other writings which have been frequently inwardly focused and not at all clearly meant for others to read and buy.
We shall see if I can recapture the magic that I sensed in my dream.
Posted by shannonclark on June 21, 2002
The start of a busy weekend, and the continuation of a busy week – a very fun and good but busy week.
Last night I attended a party by a group called EuroCircle – interesting crowd, for future reference, parties with a bunch of Europeans don’t really get started until late at night and many hours after they were scheduled to start – next time, eat first, then go to the party. But I had a good time and ended the evening with a nice dinner and conversation with a friend.
This weekend I will be very busy, which is a good thing – just don’t quite know when I will get various errands I need to complete finished – but better that than nothing to do. What I am enjoying about this fairly sudden shift in my life (from very solitary to not so solitary much of the time) is that I am keeping up with my other tasks, still have time alone, but have been spending more time with friends both old and new than I have in many months – we’ll see how the rest of the summer goes, but it is off to a great start.
I was up very early this morning to watch the US vs. Germany game – sorry to see that the US lost, but it was a fun game and they played well. What’s more, it was a weird experience of watching it alone, but not alone. During the intermission, I went down the street to get coffee and something for breakfast – I was not alone, there was a mini rush at Seatle’s Best as others who were watching the game as well also ventured forth for coffee – it was fun to hear people around me talking about the game and watching it – a communal experience, but still one I spent at home going through my morning routines etc. I bought some Bananna bread from a local bakery, very good – I’ll probably bring it to Mary Anne’s potluck on Sunday if I have not finished it by then.
Off now to try to focus on some work items for the afternoon – have some calls to return, people to track down and catch up with, and some writings I have been promising myself to finish but have not – which I need to get done.
On the writing front, I had an observation recently, one which I may serious explore in a new piece of writing. My generation, that is people born in the early 70’s (using micro-generations i.e. every 5 years or so) is probably the last generation that seriously remembers an assumption that the world would be destroyed in World War III. I remember childhood fantasies of how I would survive a nuclear attack, how to forage and scavenge items, I remember the seeming inevitability of war in the future, war that would blow everything up.
Not really all that positive perhaps, but my observation is that this changed somewhere around the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall etc – we are now living in a very different world, still have plenty of scary elements, but that the nightmares and futures of today’s children are different than those of my generation (or at least specifically me).
I’m not sure how I will incorporate this thought into my writings, but something along these lines may in fact help inform and characterize my primary character in my novel, who is of a similar generation to myself – and who through the time travel in my novel has yet another unique perspective on the changes in popular culture and popular assumptions about the future (and about the past).