Look around you! See the amazing!

see-the-amazing

Why am I writing this down? To share my awe.

Every object in this cluttered room is an end product of a person’s vision, of collaborators’ efforts, of painstaking hours and years. Here in this room are centuries of human achievement – and this is a modest-sized room. Multiply by billions and see what we have made, what we have done – what you and I are capable of, should we choose to do so.

A fine cabinet that houses a miraculous device that pulls voices from the air – why did we stop encasing our electronic devices in fine furniture? A handle that pulls water from under the ground to sustain or clean us. A machine that cools or freezes the air to preserve perishable food – a machine that heats the air to preserve perishable living beings.

A tube that fits in my hand and discharges ink evenly so I can share these thoughts and ramblings. Devices and gadgets that allow me to attach related pieces of paper to one another. A well pump or a paper clip – works of genius.

Perhaps that is why I write – why Bradbury writes – why writers write – to share amazement. To wake you up. To shake your soul and say, “Look around you! See the amazing!”

In the palm of your hand is a passport to the universe, a portal to collections of all human knowledge and achievement – all right there for your convenience. Of course now I’m specifically talking about a smartphone, but in a real sense every object made by human hands is such a portal.

Every shoe, every bottle, every souvenir knickknack – all are souvenirs from a moment of time, from centuries of learning and achievement, every cardboard box a solution to a problem – what an amazing pack of creators we are, and how sad that we waste so much time tearing things down.

“I made this!” cries the child. See what she has made. Cherish her creation and her creativity. Celebrate the builder – and understand that we are all builders. We are here to create, to reach across rivers and plains and mountains and oceans, to create a bridge to the stars.

We can do these things. We can find the path to understanding it all. What shall we create today: harmony or dissonance?

Choose the awesome.

Advertisements

The WKRP turkey drop: Great radio

The WKRP Thanksgiving turkey drop is remembered around this time of year as one of the great moments in TV comedy history. But it’s not, exactly.

Hapless station manager Arthur Carlson comes up with what he thinks is a terrific promotion that will get people talking about his little radio station, WKRP in Cincinnati. He hires a helicopter and drops live turkeys into a crowd of people gathered in a mall parking lot for the mysterious promotion.

Because no turkeys were actually harmed during the filming of this episode, the action all happens off-camera.

Unsuspecting news reporter Les Nessman does a live broadcast from the scene in a stint that deliberately recalls the famous live broadcast of the Hindenberg disaster, describing in emotional detail the hideous sight as turkeys plummet to the ground “falling like wet cement.” Les’ horror is reflected with stupefied inevitability in the faces of the radio station staff listening in the studio as they realize their boss, Mr. Carlson, has messed up again.

In his dumb, well-meaning way, and with words etched in TV history, the Big Guy stumbles back into the station, disheveled and covered with turkey feathers, and declares, “As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.”

It’s a hilarious moment, but it’s not just great television. Remember the part where all the action happens off-camera?

In a very real sense, the great WKRP turkey drop is an example of the power of RADIO. Remember, no turkeys were actually harmed. All of the carnage is depicted via the news guy’s horrified voice (and, OK, I’ll grant you, by the staff’s reactions in the studio) – but the actual scene occurs between your ears. The action is built through the magical connection of words and sounds and your imagination, and no special visual effects in the world can match the power of your mind when it’s tickled.

Words and imagination can do that. That’s why I’m excited to announce one of my new projects: The Myke Phoenix Podcast.

A key part of the reboot of my superhero adventure series will be dramatic readings of the revised stories – you will be able to subscribe for free and listen, and/or buy the book or ebook and read along with me.

Details to come; watch this space.

When I tap my inner Bradbury

inner-bradbury-jpg

I am not coy and make no apologies about the influence of Ray Bradbury on my writing. Obviously I am no Bradbury, but he is the kind of writer I aspire to be. His phrases sing, his joy and enthusiasm are infectious, and at his best he transports me to another place.

When I tap my inner Bradbury, I fly across fields – tramp through ravines and deep woods – jump on rickety old summer porches that creak underfoot but are somehow rock solid – I launch into space feeling the pressure of G-forces, or I watch with hands clenched tight to chain link as the rocket sparkles into the night with a roar – I land on a distant shore and plant the flag of Tomorrowland – I hear the whisper of the long dead (or recently dead) just beyond my range of hearing – I jam with words as my notes and the pen as my musical instrument, a symphony of syllables, a ballad old as life – a butterfly’s wings beat down a lighthouse thousands of miles and millions of years away.

Do I still know who you are today, after I go back in time and comb my hair the other way on a certain day? Does yesterday happen if I change the day before?

Turn around, turn around, turn around and it’s 60 years later, and who would ever guess this is what would have become of that child? Flash and it’s 50 years later, and the stories I was reading on paper are up on the big screen. Boom and it’s 40 years later, and the arrogant young man finally understands why he was alone for so long.

Thirty years gone and the colleagues have been scattered but still love those times and each other. Twenty years ago I was in this same place, not knowing how much better it would become after a few wrong steps. Ten years ago I knew I would do what I was doing forever, never guessing exactly when forever would arrive.

And now, here and now, sitting in a place called Crossroads, I stare into the blue sky and look around at the trees, and hear the traffic of cars and trucks not far away on their way to myriad destinations, and I feel a spark of fear over what may come next – but it turns into a grin.

Life – it’s life that comes next. Where there’s life there’s hope, Samwise Gamgee once said – a statement that has resonated and buoyed me through the years.

To be a witness

to-be-a-witness

Look – see what I have found – see what I have seen and heard – isn’t it amazing? Isn’t it wonderful?

Understand its uniqueness – enjoy it for what it is – Taste a sample of what I have seen and heard so that you can share the wonder and perhaps, someday, seek it out, but at least know that this existed, this happened, and has value.

This is why I write, perhaps – to share what I have witnessed – to be a witness in this ever swarming, ever quiet, ever lonesome, ever loud parade of life I pass through.

Embrace a better future

dejah-and-willow-fall-20-16

“Do something good, someone may imitate it.” — Ray Bradbury

End of the world, doom of the planet? Fah.

Hordes of invaders, crisis to our way of life? Meh.

Enough with the purveyors of “There’s bad news tonight.”

Someone died? was killed? A universe ended, yes, but let us pause to reflect and see the infinite universes left behind to learn and grow and build.

A child born today will create the next inspiration to millions that will lead innumerable people to consider setting down weapons to embrace a better future.

Take up tools, preserve the wild but tame the beast –

The sun sets every night, then rises in the east –

There are two wolves – which shall we feed?

The one that blinds and devours, or one that sows the seed –

Only two?

Thousands – millions – of minds have released their thoughts, set their thoughts and creations free for the universe to absorb on paper – film – digitation – shouting love to the heart of the universe, which does not care, specifically, about them.

We need to create, having been built in God’s image – but we have two ears and one mouth, and so we are equipped to hear, to listen, to reason and conjure.

We solve puzzles, we play games, while we work. And here is a puzzle:

In the face of hatred and doom and inevitable death, how do we forge a bright future of promise and love and everlasting life? These mortal vessels cannot live forever, but the words – the love – those live on and on. The power of an idea … oh, my.