Fish and TARDIS Sauce

DW_Fathers_Day_TARDIS_door_openFish and TARDIS sauce!  Oh, man, I kill me.  It’s a good thing I came ready-made with a martini-dry sense of humor; otherwise I’d never be able to entertain myself!

But the TARDIS part of (my really bad) joke is the main reason for this brief blog post.  One of the things that originally attracted me to Doctor Who —  besides Companions like Romana, Rose, Martha, and Amy  — was the ages-old concept of the building that’s bigger on the inside than the outside.  Or, as one astute observer put it: “It’s smaller on the outside.”

Over the years I’ve noticed that a lot of writers and would-be writers will home-in on a particular trope or meme, and hyper-focus on it without realizing its history.  I think this is true of the hyper-dimensional room. Like Alice’s looking-glass, glass slippers, and time-slips, it’s one of those devices that have persisted throughout fantasy.  So if you want to use something like The Doctor’s TARDIS in one of your own stories or screenplays, I think it’s really important to do some research on the subject.  In fact, doing research is one of the reasons I love being a writer.

A quick trip around the Internet gives you a sense of what I’m talking about with when we ponder rooms that have extra dimensions.  And a quick visualization might help you realize just how WEIRD this concept really is.  Think about it: You go get in your car tomorrow pick up some pizza and beer.  You open the door, drop your car keys, and when you pick them up off the floorboard you look around and realize you’re inside UPS Delivery Truck, with enough space to play a game of football and have a few fans cheering you on from the sideline.  That’s how freaky that experience would be.

So, if you want to include extra-dimensions in your writing, be sure to understand that — like everything else in fiction — it’s been done before:

  • The Hut of Baba Yaga (yes, this was in Dungeons & Dragons, but that’s not where it originated)
  • Tents larger on the inside (yes, Rowling evoked this in Harry Potter, but so did The Beatles in one of their movies, and the concept dates back to at least to 1001 Arabian Nights)
  • The wardrobe from C.S. Lewis’ Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe
  • The “endless forest” of Robert Holdstock’s Mythago Wood
  • The short story “And He Built a Crooked House” by Robert A. Heinlein
  • The human brain
  • A Bag of Holding (which really is from Dungeons & Dragons)
  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  • “Waterfall” by M.C. Escher
  • And the almost unbearably disturbing painting Corpus Hypercubus by Salvador Dali

That’s just one small sampling.  But what a cool sampling it is.  Now, that takes care of the TARDIS part of the title, but what the hell does this have to do with fish?  Nothing, unless I’m paying tribute to Douglas Adams, the incomparable science fiction humorist.

May he rest in peas. I think the dolphins would’ve said that, too :-)

Keith

Copyright © 2013

Credit to these websites for invaluable information:

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/BiggerOnTheInside

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tesseract

Don’t Be a Dumpster Fire

ImageYou don’t write to get rich.  You write because writing is a fundamental part of who you are.  Your odds of becoming Stephen King or Sue Grafton are longer than your odds of winning a multi-state lottery.

The basic idea behind any form of art is to express emotions.  You’ll notice I write a lot about time travel, science fiction, horror, and love.  I write about love and romance because I have a sentimental streak.  I write about horror because of panic attacks, and people are drawn to things that scare them (counterintuitive, but true).  I write about science fiction because I grew up watching the original Star Trek, and it’s like comfort food for me.  And I love time travel for some reason I can’t really explain.  Maybe I have a lot of regrets and want to right some wrongs.  Who the hell knows?  Or maybe I’d just like swap one-liners with Groucho Marx.  “After two days in the hospital I took a turn for the nurse.”

I also dish out writing advice.  You know where I get that wisdom?  Failure … sometimes epic.  Or, as we say on Twitter, #dumpsterfire fiction.  If you try to imitate bestsellers, your novel is going to be a disaster, a dumpster fire in kids’ lingo today.  And you’ll feel like one, too, after spending all that time and effort to produce something no one wants to read.  Believe me, I’ve been there.

Caveat: This does not mean you set your sights low.  No.  Aim to be the very best writer you can  be.  Every sentence you write should be exactly what you want to read.  Anything less and you’re being dishonest.

But if you’re trying to become Dan Brown or Suzanne Collins, forget it.  We already have a Brown and a Collins and a King and a Grafton.  Mimicking them is not going make you rich and famous.

If you want to get rich you need to be flipping houses and bootlegging whiskey.

Writers are artists, and we get paid the same.  Would you like fries with that?

Peace, from Keith

Copyright © 2013

Keith of All Trades

Forgive me if this post is a bit self-conscious, but I have a feeling that, among writers, artists, critics, professors and healers in general; and science fiction, fantasy, and horror enthusiasts in particular, this description of myself may be indicative of a lot of my readers.

I like time traveling, humor, creative writing, college football, frosted flakes, encyclopedias, garbage, history, whiskey, science fiction, gadgets, three-toed sloths, sketching, pleasing people, coffee, slouching, interesting monsters, connecting with people, graves, beer, bungalows, Heinz Doofenschmirtz, Lovecraft, quoting movies, fantasy, classic rock, Poptarts, Gnosticism, bookstores, Christmas, the Internet, drinking wine, Wile E. Coyote, banana pudding, tentacles, pot roast, and any year, make or model of the 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California (ohh, yeah).

I also write run-on sentences. #rebel

I’m a generalist, a Jack-of-all-Trades who happens to be named Keith.  I’m a Keith-of-all-Trades. While it’s true I have a technical degree, that’s not exactly by choice (long story). And while I do have a successful career, it’s not exactly a fun one.  I work with a lot of high-tech types.  Some of them are kind-hearted, thoughtful and witty.  Some are assholes. Such is life. But contrary to what you may read in articles about Myers-Briggs Personality Types, many tend to be “Es” and they tend to be “Js”.  There’s nothing wrong with that … unless you’re stuck in a room with one … all day … every day … while they make assumptions about you … without so much as a “by your leave” … and Father-God-and-Sonny-Jesus are those people tightwads.  There are times I really wanna bitch-slap ’em and say, “Spend the damn money, already!”

But I digress. This isn’t about them, it’s about me. I’m an INFP in the Myers-Briggs minefield (and Indiana Jones in my own mind-field).  That means, via nature and nurture, I should’ve been a minister, writer, or – if the stars had lined up just right  –  a dog-groomer. In other words, I was destined by DNA to be poor.

BradburyI am not poor.  Neither was Ray Bradbury (he was an INFP).

And I’m pretty sure Jennifer Aniston (also one) is doing okay for herself.jennifer

And while I can’t pursue my dream job I can still pursue my passion for writing, science fiction, whiskey … basically all that crap listed above.  And I can also pass along some wisdom.  Maybe you’ve never studied the Myers-Briggs profiles.  If not, no biggie.  Some people hate that kind of thing anyway.  But basically, if you’re an INFP you’re a healer; and if you’re a “healer,” then you might be an INFP.  If you have a friend or loved-one who’s like this, please encourage them to be the person they are instead of the person you want them to be.  If you do, they’ll accomplish more than you can possibly imagine.  Since people like lists here’s a checklist for those who’re burdened blessed with a healer in their life:

  • We work our asses off; don’t micromanage us.
  • We do the right thing; don’t moralize to us.
  • We sit in dimly-lit rooms; don’t turn on the fucking lights.
  • We feed you; don’t bite our hand.
  • We listen to your stories; don’t gossip about ours.
  • We use our hands and eyes to express ourselves; don’t ever tell us we’re melodramatic.
  • We joke; don’t steal our punch lines.
  • We criticize ourselves; we don’t need you to that for us.
  • We are your friend; don’t make us an enemy.
  • We will heal you; don’t betray us.

This last part is crucial. If you betray us we’ll be hurt, but we may not be hurt right away.  It may take a few days for the pain to sink in … unless we have a temper.  Given our penchant for drama, we might haul off and punch you in the teeth.  And that will hurt.  Because, you see, we learn.  We’re jacks-of-all trades.  We’ve learned all about street fighting. And boxing. And Boxing Day (Canada). And maple leafs. And the Maple Leafs. And ice hockey.  And horse hockey.  And commodes.  And plumbing.  And pipes.  And smoking.  And health.  And science.  And history.  And the future.

rocket shipWe’re science fiction fans.

I don’t think there’s a better description of an INFP than that.  We healers are science fiction fans, even if we hate science fiction.  Now as you know, I happen to love the SFFH genre, but I know quite a few who can’t stand it.  But whether they know it or not, healers are fans of science fiction because science fiction implies so much more than spaceships and ray guns and robots named Robbie. Science fiction implies speculation, thinking about what could be.  And INFPs love fiction, because we live fictional lives.  We look at our daily activity – scrambling some eggs, making coffee, taking out the trash – as if we’re watching ourselves through the kitchen window.

Since I’m here in the South, a lot of my readers will get pissed off that I’m going to close with a quote from the late Senator Ted Kennedy.  But what he said in his eulogy for his fallen brother, Robert, captures everything we healers want to be known for.

“My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life, to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it. Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today, pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will some day come to pass for all the world. As he said many times, in many parts of this nation, to those he touched and who sought to touch him: ‘Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not.’”

By the way, did you know Harry Potter is an INFP? HarryPotter

That’s fitting because he doesn’t exist.  Many of us feel like we don’t either, in a good way.  Now, where’s that invisibility cloak?

Until next time …

Peace, from Keith

Copyright © 2012 Alan Keith Parker.  All Rights Reserved.  Images are included under fair use regulations.  Hyperlinks are provided to websites that have their own copyright provisions.