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Alter Egos - I Am Done Watching This

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

AuthorHouse - Tell Us About Your Book

Tell Us About Your Book

What type of book do you want to publish?

-- Choose One -- Romance Mystery/Thriller Sci-Fi/Fantasy Adventure Children's Book Religious/Inspirational Historical Poetry Health/Mind/Body Religious/Inspirational Self-Help/How-To Biography/Memoir Art/Photography Sports/Recreation Hobby/General Interest Business/Personal Finance History Travel Other Non-Fiction Other Fiction
I am ready to publish:

-- Choose One -- Now 1 - 3 months 4 - 6 months 6+ months I do not have a work to publish yet.
In addition to publishing with AuthorHouse, which of the following have you published? (check all that apply)

Magazine Articles
Newspaper Articles
Other Books

How many titles have you published?

How was your book(s) published? (check all that apply)
Vanity Press
University Press

How many copies have you sold of your most successful book? 100 to 500 501 to 2,000 2,001 to 5,000 5,001 to 10,000 10,000 +

Tell Us About You
Which is the most important reason you want to publish your book?
-- Choose One -- I have something to say that can help people I want to earn extra income I make my living by writing I really enjoy it I have a title that is out-of-print and want to re-publish I have a story that needs to be told I want to support my business I want to support my ministry Other

What is your current occupation or career field?
-- Choose One -- Author/Writer/Poet Business Owner/Self-Employed Clergy/Religious Counseling Engineering/Architechture Finance/Insurance/Real Estate Health Care/Medicine/Science Law Enforcement/Fire Fighting Legal Management Manufacturing/Agriculture Office/Administrative Work Retired Sales Speaker/Consultant Student Teacher/Professor Trade/Construction Work

What question can we answer that would be most helpful to you?

-- Choose One -- How does the publishing process at AuthorHouse work? How do I market my book once it is published? Do you provide editing and proofreading assistance? Can you publish my book in 30 days? Can you create illustrations for my book? Other

Request Your Free Publishing Guide

USA & CanadaInternational
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-- Choose One -- Alabama Alaska American Samoa Arizona Arkansas Armed Forces Americas Armed Forces Euro/mid East/afr/can Armed Forces Pacific California Colorado Connecticut Delaware District Of Columbia Florida Georgia Guam Hawaii Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Missouri Montana Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico New York North Carolina North Dakota Northern Mariana Islands Ohio Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Puerto Rico Rhode Island South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Texas Unknown (bc) Utah Vermont Virgin Islands Virginia Washington West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming
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(Required Fields in Red)


Dead Beat has discovered AuthorHouse. It is a tonic - listen: Your Search for a Poetry Publisher is Over.
Since 1997, AuthorHouse has helped more poets reach their publishing goals than any other company in the world. Publishing your poetry book with AuthorHouse means you'll have all the services and support you need to publish, promote and sell your poetry book.
Publish!Choosing AuthorHouse to be your poetry book publisher means you retain all rights, control decisions regarding the design, distribution, promotion, royalty amount and sales of your book
Promote!No other book publisher offers you more services to help you promote your book in newspapers, book stores and on the internet.
Sell!When your book is finished, it’s available for order at more than 25,000 retail outlets worldwide, on the Internet at,, and through the AuthorHouse online publishing company book store.
To learn more, request a free copy of our Publishing Guide by completing the form on this page. Let us help you get your poetry in print today. Get started now!

Dead Beat is over the moon. He is requesting and completing - stay with me...

A Fully Developed Sense of Humor

End of the year - and everyone is counting up the best of the year. Best Book, Best Film, Best Concert, Best Album, Best Absentee Underwear... Best Who Cares?

Dead Beat is Stuck in Stuckism. Tracy Emin, Damien Hirst, Billy Childish - Ow, they all exclaim. I'm not a Medway Poet. I did not sleep in Tracy's tent (well what the heck, who did sleep - nudge nudge!) Fact is everyone slept. Hirst should be dropped in formaldehyde and exhibited. Emin should be poured over a Christmas Pudding and lit. And as for Billy Childish... let's just expel him from college and admit the Brit Pack is lack-ing. When Kylie Minogue name checks you in her ...album's time to knit yourself out of a relationship...

One purl, one plain, one purl, one plain.

Drink To Your Heart's Desiring

Ceremonies for Christmas
Robert Herrick (1648)

Come, bring with a noise,

My merry, merry boys,

The Christmas log to the firing,

While my good dame, she

Bids ye all be free,

And drink to your heart’s desiring.

With the last year’s brand

Light the new block, and

For good success in his spending,

On your psalteries play,

That sweet luck may

Come while the log is a-teending.

Drink now the strong beer,

Cut the white loaf here,

The while the meat is a-shredding;

For the rare mince-pie,

And the plums stand by,

To fill the paste that’s a kneading.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Word He Won't Use

Ireland's latest that's the word... it turns out has a lesser well known Daddy - Patrick Bartholomew who is the Managing Director of the increasingly aging CelticTigerLand. Who would have guessed?

Honest Bert that he is dons his anorak and crocodile tears and wants you to listen: "One of Bertie Ahern's dig-out pals handed him IR£16,500 in cash as he was having a quiet midweek pint in their local pub. Mr Carew told the tribunal yesterday about Mr Ahern's second dig-out, describing the sum as "a few pound".

Mr Carew described how he went to the safe at his pub and produced the folder of cash for Mr Ahern which he said had been gathered in different amounts over a week. "I said to him, 'Bert, the boys and myself want you to have this, a few pound towards a house',"

Mr Carew told the tribunal. He (Mr Ahern) said 'No,' I won't use the word he used and I said to him, 'the boys won't take it back, no feckin' way'," Mr Carew added.

Mr Ahern, he said, put the folder full of cash on the seat beside him and covered it with his coat.

"I said it to Bert a few times that he should get a feckin' house, and he said that he was in the process of saving for it. We decided to throw in a few quid each."

Mr Ahern offered to repay the money on numerous occasions. "He said something like, 'Dermot, I must fix up that few quid with you', but I told him I didn't want it."

Good Old Honest Bert. A few quid. We'll fix it up.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard and Other Great Fatalities

It's got to annoy you:

"LONDON (AFP) - A hand-written book of stories by J.K. Rowling -- the British author's first since the blockbuster Harry Potter series -- sold for 1.95 million pounds (2.71 million euros, 3.97 million dollars) at auction Thursday.


Auctioneers Sotheby's had thought "The Tales of Beedle the Bard" would fetch up to 50,000 pounds, but amid frantic bidding between a handful of buyers in London, it eventually sold for around 40 times that amount.

"The price achieved today stands as the highest price ever achieved at auction for a modern literary manuscript, an auction record for a work by J.K. Rowling, and an auction record for a children's book," a Sotheby's spokeswoman said in a statement...."

Dead Beat keels over, gasps out his last literary breath, but oh wait...

"...Rowling, 42, watched the auction on the Web from her home in Edinburgh, Scotland, and said she was ecstatic. "This will mean so much to children in desperate need of help," she said in a statement. "It means Christmas has come early to me."

Meanwhile the world of books dies page by page...

Oh and by the way who bought it... that other great literary inspiration... Amazon.Com

Yeah hey, the world is saved.

Friday, December 07, 2007

It's My Death Not Yours

James, your wish is my command.

The Natural Burial Ground of Literature

So your book has died a natural death. You have considered embalming but feel it is environmentally unsound. Let Dead Beat recommend an eco-cemetery. In this natural burial ground the body of your work returns to nature in a biodegradeable fashion. A memorial tree is planted above the grave. The decomposition of the body provides the nutrients the tree needs to survive.
This then is the secret to great writing: writing which participates in the natural cycle of life. Watch it live, guide it to its death, and encourage its decomposition.
Write on fellow Dead Beaters. There is nothing to fear from death.
Posted by Dead Beat at 10:37 PM

James said...
Hi Gerard - I love this photo - I remember taking it two years ago at Usk Castle Chase natural burial ground - we would appreciate a credit for your use of the photo and a link to our website ThanksJames

Best Comment Ever

Biggest Little Dead Beat said...
Mmmmmmm... Pie

Fascinated By Your Blog- Haven't A Clue What You Are Talking About

Dear Dead Beat:I am fascinated by your blog. I haven't a clue what you are talking about most of the time. Actually, I don't know at all what you are talking about any of the time. Maybe it is a language problem, or maybe it is a class discrepancy, a cultural dissimilarity, or just intellectual poverty on my part, but I do love Leonard Cohen. So, I come back to Dead Beat again and again always hoping there will be a breakthrough for me. Well, not today, but Leonard was lovely as usual. Where are you?

janala said...
Thank you so much for this wonderful visit with Leonard Cohen. Sorry to say, I've only discovered him lately, thanks to the DVD "I'm your man." But now I listen to him all the time, and slowly making my way though the Book of Mercies, day by day, each page a kind of prayer.I am very glad to know that he is a happy man now. (in his own way of course)Thank you again for letting me feel as if I were there too, being welcomed in his little house. He seems to be just the way I have imagined him.

Rodrigo said...
Oi, achei teu blog pelo google tá bem interessante gostei desse post. Quando der dá uma passada pelo meu blog, é sobre camisetas personalizadas, mostra passo a passo como criar uma camiseta personalizada bem maneira. Se você quiser linkar meu blog no seu eu ficaria agradecido, até mais e sucesso. (If you speak English can see the version in English of the Camiseta Personalizada. If he will be possible add my blog in your blogroll I thankful, bye friend).

Kelly Joyce Neff said...
Graham Irving took pupils to the Alps, beginning with George, Guy Bullock and Eddie Marsh, because his climbing partner had died.Have you read George's book 'Boswell the Biographer'? (1912) It's wonderful, as is his MS 'Geoffrey'- various climbing articles and the Expedition books go without saying.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Dead Beat Meets The Lemon Drop Kid

Let me take you back to the 23rd of the 1st 1949 when I find myself at the race track and who should I bump into, well settle back and listen as I tell you how I met The Lemon Drop Kid

Cider in your Ear

Early on, the great D.R. took Dead Beat aside, gave him these words of advice:

“One of these days. D. B., in your travels, a guy is going to come up to you and show you a nice brand-new deck of cards on which the seal is not yet broken, and this guy is going to offer to bet you that he can make the Jack of Spades jump out of the deck and squirt cider in your ear. But, son, do not bet this man, for as sure as you are standing there, you are going to end up with an earful of cider.”

"I hear you, Damon," Dead Beat might have replied if he didn't have cider in his ears at the time.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Dancing Dan's Christmas

Dead Beat learned just about everything he knows from Damon Runyon (and maybe even a little more...) So seeing as it is Christmas almost, how better to start the season than the opening to Dancing Dan's Christmas. Word to the wise. Get your hands on everything D.R. ever wrote, read and then re-read.

"NOW one time it comes on Christmas, and in fact it is the evening before Christmas, and I am in Good Time Charley Bernstein's little speakeasy in West Forty-seventh Street, wishing Charley a Merry Christmas and having a few hot Tom and Jerrys with him. This hot Tom and Jerry is an old time drink that is once used by one and all in this country to celebrate Christmas with, and in fact it is once so popular that many people think Christmas is invented only to furnish an excuse for hot Tom and Jerry, although of course this is by no means true. But anybody will tell you that there is nothing that brings out the true holiday spirit like hot Tom and Jerry, and I hear that since Tom and Jerry goes out of style in the United States, the holiday spirit is never quite the same. The reason hot Tom and Jerry goes out of style is because it is necessary to use rum and one thing and another in making Tom and Jerry, and naturally when rum becomes illegal in this country Tom and Jerry is also against the law, because rum is something that is very hard to get around town these days. For a while some people try making Tom and Jerry without putting rum in it, but somehow it never has the same old holiday spirit, so nearly everybody finally gives up in disgust, and this is not suprising, as making Tom and Jerry is by no means child's play. In fact, it takes quite an expert to make good Tom and Jerry, and in the days when it is not illegal a good hot Tom and Jerry maker commands good wages and many friends. Now of course Good Time Charley and I are not using rum in the Tom and Jerry we are making, as we do not wish to do anything illegal. What we are using is rye whisky that Good Time Charley gets on a doctor's prescription from a drug store, as we are personally drinking this hot Tom and Jerry and naturally we are not foolish enough to use any of Good Time Charley's own rye in it. The prescription for the rye whisky comes from old Doc Moggs, who prescribes it for Good Time Charley's rheumatism in case Charley happens to get rheumatism, as Doc Moggs says there is nothing better for rheumatism than rye whisky, especially if it is made up in a hot Tom and Jerry. In fact, old Doc Moggs comes around and has a few seidels of hot Tom and Jerry with us for his own rheumatism...

Do Not Know - A New Technical Term

Dead Beat has an interest in American foreign policy. You knew that. Now take heed:

The starkly different view of Iran's nuclear program that emerged from U.S. spy agencies this week was the product of a surge in clandestine intelligence-gathering in Iran as well as radical changes in the way the intelligence community analyzes information. Drawing lessons from the intelligence debacle over supposed Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, Director of National Intelligence required agencies to consult more sources and to say to a larger intelligence community audience precisely what they know and how they know it -- and to acknowledge, to a degree previously unheard of, what they do not know.
" 'Do not know' is a new technical term for an NIE."

"It's not getting it wrong, it's that [the intelligence] collection may have been insufficient," said Laipson, now president of the Henry L. Stimson Center, a defense think tank. "It takes years to know the truth."

Writers. DNK.

It takes years to know the truth.

Put Your Hook Into the Atlantic Ocean

Claire Keegan. Irish writer. Richard Ford's pick for book of the year. It doesn't get any better than that.

Anyway D.B. remembers Claire swanning around Waterstones in Dublin when D.B. and C.K. were both included in the Phoenix Book of Irish Short Stories AllThoseYearsAgo.

"I grew up on a farm, the youngest of six children. Three boys and three girls on a mixed farm. We had tillage and cattle and horses and sheep and pigs and fowl. I was raised on fowl money when I was young."

Well the world moved on, the earth tried to shift on its axis. Listen to this. Words of advice from Ms. Keegan.

"If you're a writer you write. If you're a fisherman, you put your hook into the Atlantic Ocean."

Monday, December 03, 2007

That Great Canyon in the Sky

Dead Beat has moments when he thinks he may well be Evel Kneivel. In fact he knows he is. I did not die this week. I simply put my respiratory system on hold.

Evel, you brought me through a doubtful filled childhood.


You have ridden over that Great Canyon In The Sky

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Literature - It's Just Rock'N'Roll

It has been a while since The Man With the Goatee and Dead Beat shared accommodation, but every once and a while they like to chew the fat.

"Say what you been thinking about T.C.?"

"I've thought about the domination of the literary arts by theory over the past 25 years -- which I detest -- and it's as if you have to be a critic to mediate between the author and the reader and that's utter crap. Literature can be great in all ways, but it's just entertainment like rock'n'roll or a film. It is entertainment. If it doesn't capture you on that level, as entertainment, movement of plot, then it doesn't work. Nothing else will come out of it. The beauty of the language, the characterisation, the structure, all that's irrelevant if you're not getting the reader on that level -- moving a story. If that's friendly to readers, I cop to it."

"Didn't we have this conversation before, T.C.?"

"A million times, D.B.."

"Didn't I always agree with you. T.C.?"

"Doesn't everyone forget, D.B.?"

"Joyce forgot towards the end, T.C."

"Maybe we should have let him room with us, D.B."

"I thought he was the one in the corner singing to himself while writing dirty letters to his girlfriend, T.C. and never changed his socks."

"Wasn't that you, D.B.?"

"It's like you say, T.C. Doesn't everyone forget?"

Monday, November 19, 2007

Rolling Podcast: Richard Ford Reunites with John Cheever

So Dead Beat is on a roll with podcasts. Listen to this:

Richard Ford Reads John Cheever’s Reunion

Grammar Girl

Okay, Dead Beat is in Pod Cast Heaven.

Listen up: Grammar Girl

Go to her deal on prepositions.

For now here are the comments:

Amy Says:11/2/2007 5:11:58 PM We have a joke here in Boston about this: Harvard freshman: Where's the Library at? Harvard senior: Here at Hahvahd we don't end our sentences with a preposition. Harvard freshman: OK, then, where's the library at, asshole?
richard Says:11/2/2007 3:23:04 PM i like double negatives i noticed that there are no comments with no responces!! there one ha ! ha! see ya
John Says:11/2/2007 3:00:50 PM That is the sort of English up with which I shall not put!
Paul Says:11/1/2007 6:58:12 PM Great show -- I just started listening. To prove I was paying attention, I spotted your illicit use of "so" (which you critique in another episode) in this episode, as in "I'm so sorry—the horror—because that is one of the instances where it's not OK to end a sentence with a preposition!" :)
Lauren Hightower Says:10/16/2007 9:34:13 AM Great episode!
Mark Says:9/25/2007 2:50:39 PM The important point here is that grammarians are pretty much irrelevant to everyday life - they're pretty much like archaeologists, they like to think they're doing something important but really they're only commenting on things which have already passed their sell by date.
William Says:9/21/2007 8:36:14 PM `Grammatical' is improper English. The correct adjective form of `grammar' is `grammatic'. `Grammatically' is the correct adjective form.
ligneus Says:9/20/2007 8:22:29 AM "What did you bring that book I didn't want to be read to out of up for?"
Doug Rosbury Says:9/18/2007 9:50:19 PM grammatical rules Are only a guide. In my opinion, people should not be held responsible for carrying the torch of grammatical correctness. There is a certain charm in colloquialisms which Give the language color and humor. Don't put me in a prison of correctness. Doug Rosbury
B_allW@yz_unKn0wn Says:9/18/2007 2:51:04 PM i understand what everyone else is saying but i didnt even read it but if i did i would leave you saying its always important to read what you talk about...

My old friend Douglas Hofstadter is chuckling away.

The Well-Suitedness of the Book

Dead Beat, as you know, has that old streak of engineering in him, and so has for years wondered how e-books or e-magazines or e-papers should work. About eight years ago he decided that it would require a flexible screen. Imagine the cover of a magazine - two sheets/four pages. Each page would be an individual screen which could download a single page of the book/mag/paper. In this way the reader could still turn pages, have the flexibility of paper, in other words the emotional expreience. Then he wondered would a single flexible sheet do: one leaf/two pages. Then he wondered would one page do AS LONG AS IT WAS FLEXIBLE.

So what's with the flexible?

Well, he knows reading a newspaer off a screen while you are sitting at a desk is not a relaxing experience always. Nor is it necessary relaxing to read it from a laptop. Hence the flexibility. Well, like all Dead Beat's great inventions (e.g. French Fry vending machine) someone else got up off their ar#e and created it.

But now let us add this into the frey: , the world's largest Web retailer, said Monday it will begin selling an electronic book reader with wireless access, the latest attempt to build consumer interest in portable reading devices.

Wireless access, based on the cellphone broadband technology EVDO, is built into the 10-ounce, thin white device. Downloading content does not require a computer and takes less than a minute for a full-length book. The $399 electronic book device will allow downloads of more than 90,000 book titles, blogs, magazines and newspapers.

"The question is, can you improve upon something as highly evolved and well-suited to its task as the book? And if so, how?," Chief Executive Jeff Bezos said at a press conference in New York.

There it is. That's Dead Beat's point, thank you J.B.

The question is, can you improve upon something as highly evolved and well-suited to its task as the book?

The 4th Annual World's Most Disorganised Poetry Festival

Dead Beat took part recently in The 4th Annual World's Most Disorganised Poetry Festival (their words not mine). This all happened in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Dead Beat extends his gratitude to the chief Disorganiser and very fine poet to boot, Ross Leckie.

Dead Beat knows you all wish you were there to have cheered him on. Well all is not lost. Thanks to Zach Wells there is a recording of the Saturday night program featuring that well known scoundral D.B. himself. Feel free to take a listen, D.B. is second up. Your cheers and applause precede you.

Click for chaos and mayhem

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Weird Guy Tells The Truth

So The Weird Guy gets onto Dead Beat.

"Thanks for the plug yesterday."
"No prob, Denny boy, you need all the help you can get. So what's with the sprawling book?"
"My opus, you know."
"That's where fiction leads you."
"Tell me more."
"You're working with facts in journalism, but you're under all kinds of formal constraints; there are expectations. Their influence is subtle, but it's there; it's perpetual. Imagine the reader, imagine the readership. That's the pressure I always felt. When I'm writing for Esquire, my conscious thought is, I'm not writing for American Scholar. Because you're always allowing something to go to work on material that is factual, you're going to end up with a lie, it seems to me. Now if you take a lie and allow your desire for the truth, your duty to work on it, you'll end up with some truth—not fact, but something that gets you closer to the truth."
"So one big fat lie."
"You got it."
"So how come I haven't written my opus? I've told a few lies in my lifetime."
"Who would have believed it."

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Weird Guy

So Denis Johnson won the National Book Award for Tree of Smoke, a 600-page journey through the physical, moral and spiritual extremes of the Vietnam War. D.B. hasn't read it yet but has long admired Johnson's swagger and swarth.

Good to see Sherman Alexie making the grade too for The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

D.B. remembers Alexie well from his days in Spokane.

Anyway let us leave the last words to Jonathan Franzen, who won the National Book award six years ago for The Corrections and has been extolling Johnson for years:

"He's a weird guy. His fiction is great, but it's weird, and I was simply awestruck at the way he stepped up to write a Big American Novel about ordinary people. It's as if Paul Bowles started writing like Norman Mailer."

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Arrogance of Writing

Dead Beat mourns the passing of Norman Mailer.

Nevertheless he is reminded how much they have in common.

For a start, Mailer like Dead Beat completed his degree in Engineering. "I studied it for the first couple of years and realized I didn't want to be an engineer and I wasn't going to be a good one. But I stayed on and got my degree in engineering."

See, you could never tell if it was Dead Beat or Mailer speaking here. And what about here:

"You almost can't become a serious professional writer unless there is a built-in arrogance in yourself that you have something special about yourself. It's a vanity, and when the vanity is misplaced, as it usually is, it's sad, if not tragic. But once in a while you're up to your own idea of yourself. "

Friday, November 09, 2007

What Al Said

Dead Beat, as you know, always listen keenly to Al. But Dead Beat upped and left and forgot to tell his Al his whereabouts. So when Al finally tracks him down Dead Beat is all ears.

"Hey Dead Beat,

let me tell ya a story; a friend of mine calls me up and says "Al I've started back at writing poetry and I'm on a tear, I need a little advice, can you help me out?" I says "Digger (his last job before retiring was cemetery attendent) I don't read or write poetry, but the Guild should be able to assist you. Are you still writing using a rhyming scheme?" He says "Ya, you know I read some verse libre, but I found it vague, lacking substance, more metiphor than meat." I says "Digger, I think there is someone who can help, he says what he means and means what he says. Where you grew up in Northern Ontario and toiled in the shield as a hard rock-miner, this guy worked the mills of the Northwest Pacific." So I gave Digger a couple of books, one of prose,poetry and essays; the other a collection of stories that a friend gave me. It's been a while since Digger called and I made some inquiries into his whereabouts. I hear he loaded up his pack and left to camp out in Carver Country. `Tis a beautiful thing."

Dead Beat says to Al, "There could be worse places. There are no better."

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Late Nights On Air - Elizabeth Hay

So last Thursday Dead Beat is sharing a bevvie with Elizabeth Hay and talking about the north. This Thursday Elizabeth Hay is the winner of the Giller Prize and Dead Beat is getting no share.

Story of his life.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Dead Beat Does Bliss With David Lynch

While Peter Greenaways's away, David Lynch comes to play.

Sorry Dead Beaters, I couldn't stop him.

Well okay. I did put my hand up and say, 'halt.' But maybe I was too meek.

"Dead Beat," he says, "don't get so stressed out. Greenaway's my pal. He likes my work - no story - you know how it goes."

"I'm just edgy these days, D.L. You know how that goes."

"T.M. D.B."


"Me and Donovan both."

"Isn't he dead?"

"Just mellow."

"So what's the deal?"

"We've been traipsing around Ireland promoting consciousness-based education and world peace. We aim to bring transcendental meditation to millions of pupils."


"Why not? You've got peace on your mind."

"Oh yeah, that. They haven't gone away you know."

"Tsk, tsk."

"So T.M. for kids?"

"Yeah. There is a treasury inside each one of us human beings... it's pure bliss, pure consciousness. It's a simple, easy, effortless technique. A 10-year-old child could do it. Dive within, transcend and ... experience this pure bliss, pure creativity, infinite intelligence, love, energy, power ... the engine that runs the universe."

"Er, we don't really do 'bliss' here very often I'm afraid".

"You should do bliss D.B., you should do bliss. It will change your life, man."

"Are you promoting a book or something?"

"Eh, seen any good films recently?"

"You are. You're promoting a book."

"Greenaway's working on a good project."

"You're promoting a book. What's it called Lynch?"

"Greenaway's project?"

"The book, what's it called?"

"Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness and Creativity."

"Donovan fell for that? Mellow Yellow."

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Indivisibility Between Text and Image

Knock knock.

Who's there?

Greenaway who?

You're an imbicile Dead Beat.

Tell me something I don't know.

So begins Beat and Pete.

"Like I was saying: you have got to go very slowly. John Cage, composer, painter, and all-round thinker and cultural catalyst, said that if you introduce twenty percent of novelty into any artwork, watch out-you are going to lose eighty percent of your audience at once. He said you would lose them for fifteen years. Cage was interested in fifteen-year cycles. But he was hopelessly optimistic. The general appreciation, for example, of Western painting has got stuck around Impressionism, and that was 130 years ago, not fifteen years ago."

"So what to do?"

"Japanese hieroglyphs may be a good model for reinventing the desperately-in-need-of-being-reinvented cinema. The history of Japanese painting, the history of Japanese calligraphy, and the history of Japanese literature are the same-all grow and have grown together; what you see as an image you read as a text. What you read as a text, you perceive as an image. This was certainly my major aim and model in the film The Pillow Book. Get the Titanic sailing correctly before you worry about the deck chairs. Indivisibility between text and image. Eisenstein saw the possibilities back in the 1920s. His theories of montage assimilated the dual image-text role of the Oriental ideogram. No middlemen. Image and text come together hand in hand. Cinema does not seem to have wanted to learn from such an encouragement. We have encouraged ourselves to need perhaps too many middlemen, too many translators. Most of them lazy. My fictitious Japanese lover's less-than-great calligrapher is Ewan McGregor's Jerome, a translator. St. Jerome was the first major translator of text for the modern world-though his business was to convince us about Christianity. What is it that cinema is trying to convince us of? Christianity and the cinema both desire happy endings. Heaven and a golden sunset. Perhaps, sadly, in the end, cinema is only a translator's art, and you know what they say about translators: traitors all."

The Narrative Is the Glue

Greenaway swings by. "A few more things to say about text."
"I like text."
"I know you do. That's why you are a writer and I am a film maker. We all know that literature is superior to cinema as a form of storytelling. It empowers the imagination like no other. If you want to be a storyteller, be an author, be a novelist, be a writer, don't be a film director."
"We all do know that, don't we?"
" Cinema is not the greatest medium for telling stories. It is too specific, leaves so little room for the imagination to take wing other than in the strict directions indicated by the director. Read "he entered the room" and imagine a thousand scenarios. See "he entered the room" in cinema-as-we-know-it, and you are going to be limited to one scenario only. The cinema is about other things than storytelling."
"I think I'm getting the point now."
"What you remember from a good film-and let's only talk about good films-is not the story, but a particular and hopefully unique experience that is about atmosphere, ambience, performance, style, an emotional attitude, gestures, singular events, a particular audio-visual experience that does not rely on the story. Besides, nine times out of ten, you will not remember the story. And if you do, and you tell it, and you are talking in words, then you are back to literature, and the cinematic experience is not communicated that way. "
"You're right. You're right."
"For the moment we have not found anything better, and because we are lazy, the narrative is the glue we use to hold the whole apparatus of cinema together. There is much to say that D.W. Griffith, proud manufacturer of Intolerance, took us all in the wrong direction. He enslaved cinema to the nineteenth-century novel. And it is going to take a hell of a lot of convincing to go back, right the wrong, and then go forward again. But I have hopes. I do really believe that we are now developing the new tools to make that happen. Tools, as Picasso said of painting, that will allow you to make images of what you think, not merely of what you see, and certainly not of what you read."

So Greenaway makes his departure - exit stage left. And Dead Beat is left with his words. So too are you.

The distinction between cinema and writing. He has a lot to teach us, listen well.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Dead Beat is fuming at the mouth. So Dr Watson has upset many people with his "racist" views. I am sorry. I am sorry. Let me bring my old pal Dickie into the arguement:

"If Dr Watson is wrong he will be wrong scientifically, not ethically, and it is a scientific argument, not an ethical one, that will demonstrate his error. What is ethically wrong is the hounding, by what can only be described as an illiberal and intolerant 'thought police', of one of the most distinguished scientists of our time, out of the Science Museum, and maybe even out of the laboratory that [he] has devoted much of his life to building up a world-class reputation."

Yes Prof. Old Dr W. has been known for the odd gaffe, the unwelcomed comment, but let us look at this in a scientific way. Let the head rule the heart for once.

"The overwhelming desire of society today is to assume that equal powers of reason are a universal heritage of humanity," Watson tells us. "It may well be. But simply wanting this to be the case is not enough. This is not science. To question this," he added, "is not to give in to racism."

"Science is not here to make us feel good. It is to answer questions in the service of knowledge and greater understanding."

I know, I know, Dead Beat you're missing the point. Watson is a loose cannon, he is not scientifically supported...

The earth is round, the earth is flat.

Maybe he is off the wall, but let us leave the vitriol behind, let us return to the realm of science. Let Dr. Watson offer his evidence, let the rest of us offer ours.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Don't Forget Your Shovel If You Want To Go To Work

Christy Moore was crooning away to Dead Beat the other night, and Dead Beat swooned:

"Don't forget your shovel if you want to go to work.

Oh don't forget your shovel if you want to go to work.

Don't forget your shovel if you want to go to work

Or you'll end up where you came from like the rest of us

Diggin', diggin', diggin'...

And don't forget your shoes and socks and shirt and tie and all.

Don't forget your shoes and socks and shirt and tie and all.

Mr murphy's afraid you'll make a claim if you take a fall.

("how's it goin'" "not too bad")

And we want to go to heaven but we're always diggin' holes.

We want to go to heaven but we're always diggin' holes.

Yeah we want to go to heaven but we're always diggin' holes.

Well there's one thing you can say...we know where we are goin'...

("any chance of a start?" "no" "okay")

And if you want to do it...don't you do it against the wall.

If you want to do it...don't you do it against the wall.

Never seen a toilet on a building site at all.

There's a shed up in the corner where they won't see you at all.

("mind your sandwiches")

Enoch powell will give us a job, diggin' our way to annascaul.

Enoch Powell will give us a job, diggin' our way to annascaul.

Enoch Powell will give us a job, diggin' our way to annascaul.

And when we're finished diggin' there they'll close the hole and all.

Now there's six thousand five hundred and fifty-nine paddies

Over there in london all trying to dig their way back to annascaul

And very few of them boys is going to get back at all...

I think that's terrible.

Don't forget your shovel if you want to go to work.

Don't forget your shovel if you want to go to work.

Oh, don't forget your shovel if you want to go to work.

Or you'll end up where you came from like the rest of us

Diggin', diggin', diggin."

The Last of the Rat Pack - Joey Bishop Remembered

Dead Beat remembers well his days hanging out in Vegas with the Rat Pack. Drinking and chasing broads with Lawford, Sinatra, Martin and Sammy D. Jr.

Dead Beat was therefore saddened to hear of the passing of the last of the Rat Pack members, comedian Joey Bishop.

"All I know is that if it's in good taste, if it's funny and stems from honesty, that's the best I can do. My rule is: To thine own self be true."

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Not The Prize But The Offering

Okay, you know the D.B.'s thoughts on prizes, but he is nevertheless delighted for Anne Enright on her Man Booker win for The Gathering. A long time admirer of her work, D.B. salutes not the prize but the offering.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet

It doesn't have to be a Sunday morning to listen to this.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Best Place For Text Is Back On The Body - Dead Beat and Peter Greenaway Talk About Sex

"......I'd like to believe with Godard, once you've written the text and you've found the money and you've got your stranglehold over the producer, you throw the text away.
Unfortunately, circumstances as they are at this present time don't allow us to do that, and I proselytize for an autonomous cinema, which is essentially image-based, not text-based. So my search all the time, and not just for this film, but other films as well, is to find alternative systems for organizing the material."

"Okay, let's calm ourselves down, hush, hush, Peter. Let's talk about sex."

"Lacanne in his famous French essay from 1953 talks about how the body makes the text. And I would facetiously answer in this film if the body makes the text then the best place for that text is back on the body. I'm not serious in that, it's metaphorical. But what he does argue is how the mind is influencing the arm and the arm is influencing the hand and the hand the pen and paper. So the body makes the text, very, very physically. Now, in the 20th century, although you have written text here, ultimately your product will be typed up on keyboards, so we've broken that magic connection by this mechanical reproduction between the notion of physically making a mark that signifies. "

"I taught we were going to talk about sex."

"We are talking about sex."

"So what did you think of Deep Throat?"

Dead Beat and Peter Greenaway's Love-In

"Peter, Peter, Peter!"

"What's the matter, Dead Beat? Something I said?"

"It's always something you said."

"What did I say?"

"The death of cinema."

"Well you know that is correct. Cinema's death date was in 1983, when the remote control was introduced to the living room. Every medium has to be redeveloped, otherwise we would still be looking at cave paintings."

"Okay, then, the Scorcese thing."

"Scorsese is old-fashioned and is making the same films that D.W. Griffith was making early last century."

"Yeah, that thing."

"What's wrong with that?"

"Oh come on. He only just got his Oscar."

"Don't get me started."

"Peter, you are always started."

"Cinema is predicated on the 19th-century novel. We're still illustrating Jane Austen novels -- there are 41 films of Jane Austen novels in the world -- what a waste of time."

"See what I mean. Not even Jane Austen is sacred."

" 'Lord of the Rings' and 'Harry Potter' were not films, but illustrated books."

"Oh no, not Tolkien, J.K. Rowlings."

"Thirty-five years of silent cinema is gone, no one looks at it anymore. This will happen to the rest of cinema. If you shoot a dinosaur in the brain on Monday, its tail is still waggling on Friday. Cinema is brain-dead."

"Dinosaurs, you're now shooting dinosaurs in the head! I mean Jurassic Park. Surley you liked Jurassic Park?"

"Why do people spent thousands of millions of pounds trying to create artifical dinosaurs for 'Jurassic Park', that seems to be a total waste of time to me. These sort of things are just heading conventional text story lines with conventional attitude, it has nothing to do with changing the media, it just means to create robotic equivalents, which exist in the frame anyway, I don't see any point, you know, a real 'Jurassic Park' can be much more exciting than any robotic invention anybody invents inside a frame."

"No, no, Peter, no, no..."

"I suppose, my general sense of anxiety and disquiet about the cinema we've got after 100 years -- a cinema which is predicated on text. So whether your name is Spielberg or Scorsese or Godard, there's always a necessity to start with text and finish with image."

"NOT Godard. No, not Godard."

"I don't think that's particularly where we should organize an autonomous art form. That's why I think that, in a way, we haven't seen the cinema yet, all we've seen is 100 years of illustrated text."

"TEXT. What's wrong with text?"

"A supreme example is The English Patient. Why would anybody spend so much time and energy and money to make a product like that which is just perfectly well in a book? That makes it highly questionable in regards to, "do we really feel confident that cinema is an autonomous medium that can create its own product?" Why do we have to keep running off to the bookshelf all the time? But that's an extreme example. Whether your name is Godard or Woody Allen, there's still a way we have to start the text...."

"AAAHHH, Allen............................................................."

Friday, October 05, 2007

The Domesticated Human

Ed Russell's back. I have the kettle boiling.

"Pull up a chair, Ed, green tea brewskies on the way."

"Something I forgot to say: Most of the literature on domestication implies that humans have sat in the driver's seat while other species rode in the back of the truck. The first word in the title of anthropologist Yi Fu-Tuan's analysis of pets, Dominance and Affection, reflects this view. For Perkins, who described the Green Revolution as one stage in a long evolutionary process, this unidirectional view is inadequate. "Wheat and people coevolved in ways that left neither much ability to prosper without the other," he argues. This bi-directional view opens the possibility that organisms domesticated humans as well as vice versa. Biologist Raymond P. Coppinger and English professor Charles Kay Smith have argued that since the last ice age, some 10,000 years ago, much of the most important evolution has taken place within the arena of human activity. Teaming up with humans was a good strategy for organisms faced with a rapidly changing environment."

"Domesticated humans. I like this alot Ed."

"Dead Beat, don't you think the time has come for us to understand such histories in a coherent way. Scholars in a variety of disciplines and fields have built the foundation for such an inquiry, with biology and history leading the way along parallel, but too rarely intersecting, paths. Evolutionary history offers a way to link these endeavors. To biology, history offers understanding of the social forces that create selective pressures. To history, biology offers understanding of the ways organisms respond to such pressures. Together, as evolutionary history, they offer understanding of the ever-changing dance between humans and nature. The resulting synthesis just might lead us to new understanding of historical episodes as disparate as state building, capital accumulation, geopolitics, industrialization, and domestication. If we are to understand how genetic engineering shapes human experience today and in the future, it behooves us to examine ways in which anthropogenic evolution has shaped us in the past."

To put it another way, dear readers, if we are to write about the human experience as we all claim to do, it behooves us to examine ways in which anthropogenic evolution has shaped us in the past.

Bearing the Mark of Anthropogenic Selection

Edmund Russell, associate professor of technology, culture, and communication and history at the University of Virginia, drops in for tea.

"It's got to be green," he tells me.

"None greener."

"Anyway," he goes on in between sips, "I like what you have been saying about evolutionary historians. You see Dead Beat humans have been shaping the evolution of so many other species, for so long, in so many ways, and for so many reasons that this process often has hidden in plain sight. In one morning, even before making it out the door, we might wake in bed sheets made of cotton, dress in clothes made of wool, put on shoes made of leather, eat a breakfast made of wheat, butter, oranges, and eggs, read a newspaper made of wood pulp and soy ink, pat a dog, and admire flowers on the table. Every one of these materials and creatures bears the mark of anthropogenic selection, from cotton bred for large bolls to flowers selected for their showy display. Every one of them has a history. Every one of these histories has resulted from social and biological forces. And every one of these histories tells us about ourselves as well as other species."

"Thanks for that, Ed. Insightful. The stuff my readers need to know."

"Glad to be of help. By the way, nice tea."

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Writer As Paleoanthropologist

It comes as no surprise to Dead Beat, amateur paleoanthropologist that he is, that Neanderthal skeletal remains have been found further east than previously known - in Southern Siberia and Uzbekistan.

Neanderthals as you know are our closest relatives - remains date back 400,000 years and they are believed to have died out about 30,000 years ago as modern humans spread around the world - yes, it's an old story.

Still and all, these nomadic traits are ever increasingly more important to the writer wishing to understand the human condition. Russell Banks got it right in Continental Drift and that was back in the mid-Eighties. Who can ever forget Bob Dubois?

Anyway, the thing that Dead Beat is urging here is that all of us who would lean towards the writing line of business should understand that we are evolutionary historians. There are no two ways about this, and no way around it.

Paleonthology. Physical Anthropology. That's the real business we are in.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

On The Road - John Updike

"Okay, okay. I won't let them forget about your poetry. Really..."

On The Road

Those dutiful dogtrots down airport corridors
while gnawing at a Dunkin' Donuts cruller,
those hotel rooms where the TV remote
waits by the bed like a suicide pistol,
those hours in the air amid white shirts
whose wearers sleep-read through thick staid thrillers,
those breakfast buffets in prairie Marriotts—
such venues of transit grow dearer than home.

The tricycle in the hall, the wife's hasty kiss,
the dripping faucet and uncut lawn—this is life?
No, vita thrives via the road, in the laptop
whose silky screen shimmers like a dark queen's mirror,
in the polished shoe that signifies killer intent,
and in the solitary mission, a bumpy glide
down through the cloud cover to a single runway
at whose end a man just like you guards the Grail.

John Updike

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Modelling Languages Demise

Dead Beat was recently bemoaning the death of language. His buddies meanwhile over at the Department of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, Cornell University, got on the blower.
"All is not lost, Dead Beat."
"How so?"
"Mathematical modelling."
"Oh, now you're talking my language."
"See we developed a simple model of language competition that explains historical data on the
decline of Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, Quechua (the most common surviving indigenous
language in the Americas) and other endangered languages. A linguistic parameter that
quantifies the threat of language extinction can be derived from the model and may
be useful in the design and evaluation of language-preservation programmes."
"More, more."
"Previous models of language dynamics have focused on the transmission and evolution
of syntax, grammar or other structural properties of a language itself. In contrast,
the model we describe here idealizes languages as fixed, and as competing with each
other for speakers."
"Don't stop."
"Consider a system of two competing languages, X and Y,in which the attractiveness of
a language increases with both its number of speakers and its perceived status (a parameter
that reflects the social or economic opportunities afforded to its speakers). Suppose
an individual converts from Y to X with a probability, per unit of time, of Pyx(x,s),
where x is the fraction of the population speaking X, and 0 less than or equal to 1 is a measure of X’s relative status. A minimal model for language change is therefore dx/dt=yPyx(x,s)-xPxy(x,s)."
"Gosh darn, of course it is."
"Contrary to the model’s stark prediction, bilingual societies do, in fact, exist. But the
histories of countries where two languages coexist today generally involve split populations
that lived without significant interaction, effectively in separate, monolingual
societies. Only recently have these communities begun to mix, allowing language
competition to begin. So what can be done to prevent the rapid
disintegration of our world’s linguistic heritage? The example of Quebec French
demonstrates that language decline can be slowed by strategies such as policy-making,
education and advertising, in essence increasing an endangered language’s status."
"Speaking of Bingo Dead Beat. I did a mathematical analysis........

The Gestalt Approach Of A Real Writer

"Hey Daniel Berkeley."

"Dead Beat."

"So what's on your mind today. More deconstruction of the craft of narrative?"

"God forbid."

"What, don't you like teaching all those Dead Beaters out there a thing or two about the business?"

" This effort of approaching a piece of fiction as though there's something slightly wrong with it that can be fixed is maybe not the gestalt approach that a real writer ought to have. "

"Shoot, there goes my livelihood."

"Why don't you write for a livelihood?"

"Hah hah, very funny. We can't all be Updikes."

"Most of the writing world aspires to be. But really Dead Beat I did write a lot of light verse, and even some verse that wasn't too light. Even I knew there was no living in being a poet, so fiction was the game."

"Game, Daniel Berkeley?"

"Yes of course Dead Beat, what else could you call it? I found when I attempted fiction it's like sort of a horse you don't know is there, but if you jump on the back there is something under you that begins to move and gallop."

"A sort of horse game then?"

"The trick about fiction, Dead Beat, as I see it, is to make an unadventurous circumstance seem adventurous, to make it excite the reader, either with its truth or with the fact that there's always a little more that goes on, and there's multiple levels of reality."

So there you have it. Writing is but a game, and there is a trick to it which you all now know. So what are you waiting for, you aspiring Updikes, go to it!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Too Much BS

Dead Beat has a question - just who is Britney Spears.?

Dead Beat has been around the block a few times, but who is B.S?

What she write?

No Way


Friday, September 21, 2007

New Room For Shapelessness

So Updike returns. "Hey Dead Beat."

"Hey Daniel Berkeley."

"What I was saying about Salinger."

"Weaving fiction from seemingly unconnected events."

"Yeah. Well I got to thinking. You see like most innovative writers he made new room for shapelessness, for life as it is lived. I'm thinking of a story like "Just Before The War With The Eskimos.""

"Don't you forget it. There's been times you haven't been so kind to Mr. Sal."

"Goddamn Glass family!"

'Life as it is lived."

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Loss of the Unknown and the Everyday

Dead Beat notes that the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages and the National Geographic Society have reported that while there are an estimated 7,000 languages spoken around the world today, one of them dies out about every two weeks.

"In addition to northern Australia, eastern Siberia and Oklahoma and the U.S. Southwest, many native languages are endangered in South America — Ecuador, Colombia, Peru, Brazil and Bolivia — as well as the area including British Columbia, and the states of Washington and Oregon."

K. David Harrison, an assistant professor of linguistics at Swarthmore College and associate director of the Living Tongues Institute stated: "When we lose a language, we lose centuries of human thinking about time, seasons, sea creatures, reindeer, edible flowers, mathematics, landscapes, myths, music, the unknown and the everyday."

"As many as half of the current languages have never been written down," he estimated.
That means, if the last speaker of many of these vanished tomorrow, the language would be lost because there is no dictionary, no literature, no text of any kind."

Dead Beat remembers well the chant when he was learning Latin - "Latin is a language as dead as dead can be. It killed the ancient Romans, and now it's killing me."

Well we got it right in a manner of speaking. Allowing a language to die is a sure way of killing ourselves.

Centuries of human thinking about time... the unknown and the everyday...

Monday, September 17, 2007

Updike Has His Eyes Opened

"Dead Beat?"


"Updike here."



"Sorry, I think you got a wrong number."

"I need to tell you something."

"Daniel Berkeley Updike: American printer and scholar, founder in 1893 of the distinguished Merrymount Press?"

"John Updike."

"John....John... Name rings a bell. Merchant banker?"

"World famous prose writer."

"Why thank you, I am."

"Not you Dead Beat, me, John Updike. All those Rabbit books."

"Oh, now I got you. Wrote one on Golden Retrievers too. Hudson seemed to like that."

"Not those sort of rabbits, human ones."

"Oh like science fiction."

"Can it, Dead Beat. I got something to tell you. It's about Sal."


"The short stories of J.D. Salinger really opened my eyes as to how you can weave fiction out of a set of events that seem almost unconnected, or very lightly connected."

"So what are you saying, that all writers of fiction would be well advised to read his stories?"

"I'm saying they really opened my eyes."

"So all writers of fiction should have their eyes opened?"

"I'm saying my eyes were opened."

"Got you, Daniel Berkeley. I'll pass that advice on."

So from one D.B. to another D.B. to all you writers out there. Read Salinger, have your eyes opened.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Constants, Units and Uncertainties

Dead Beat, as you know, considers an appreciation of science a necessary prerequisite for any writer worth their NaCl. He has a particular interest in constants.

Indeed he will never forget his Grade 8 science teacher trying to catch a gormless student unawares by asking if the constant k ever changed. The boy nodded silently that it did amid the guffaws of all. Even then Dead Beat felt angered, not so much by the unnecessary teasing but by the notion of a fixed unspecified value. The teacher being a priest, Dead Beat thought, should have known better in every regard.

But now it seems that the nodding boy may have the last laugh.

Dead Beat reads that the international prototype for the kilogram, kept tightly under lock and key in Sevres, outside Paris is losing weight. While the rest of the world is gaining weight and turning obese, the little kilogram does it's best to lose weight as some sort of counterbalance.

A little bit of history: At the end of the 18th century, a kilogram was the mass of a cubic decimeter of water. In 1889, the 1st CGPM sanctioned the international prototype of the kilogram, made of platinum-iridium, and declared: This prototype shall henceforth be considered to be the unit of mass.

The 3d CGPM (1901), in a declaration intended to end the ambiguity in popular usage concerning the word "weight," confirmed that: The kilogram is the unit of mass; it is equal to the mass of the international prototype of the kilogram.

Along with the prototype were dozens of copies - the reference kilogram has lost 50 micrograms
compared with the average of the copies.

Has the prototype got lighter or have the copies got heavier?

And so a better difinition if needed. Something more precise than the platinum-iridium cylinder. - just as the meter which was once defined as the distance between scratches on a bar, now involves the distance that light travels in a vacuum.

The ever varying constant. The writer and his search for a measure.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A Perfect Day For Bananafish

So Dead Beat's old croony J.D wants in on the discussion of legend and myth.

"What's up Sal?"

"It's this distinction you draw between legend and myth D.B."

"What are you saying?"

"I'm saying, it doesn't have to be an either or. Look at me for crying out loud, part legend, part myth."

"So a story could be both."

"Haven't you read A Perfect Day For Bananafish."

"Read it J.D.? I live it out each and every day."

"That's all I wanted to say."

"Much appreciated. Now tell me, what are you doing tonight? Want to paint the town red?"

Monday, September 10, 2007

Dead Beat - A Myth or a Legend?

So myth and legend.

The main thing to remember is that in myth the story is timeless and the events are symbolic.

In a legend the story is told as though it were a historical event and does not have a symbolic narrative.

Myths it has been said are stories shared by a group which are a part of their cultural identity.

And so as writers, creators of stories, we need to keep this in mind.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Dead Beat Hands Out Homework

Now, nothing particularly nice about this legend, I suppose.

Black Jack Ketchum.

A legend, nevertheless.

Before becoming Black Jack Ketchum of course, he was simply Thomas Edward Ketchum.

For us writers, all of this is paramount.

Homework for today: What is the difference between a myth and a legend?

How does a person assume legendary status?

How does all of this affect your writing?

Twenty lashes of the birch for all who do not complete this assignment.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Myth of Writing

So Casey Jones blows his lonesome whistle in the dark of night outside Dead Beat's window. Dead Beat sits up in bed. A half-moon shines its light through the curtains making the shadow of a train derailing.

"Is that you Case?" I whisper.

"The one and only."

"What you doing up this late?"

"Why Dead Beat I'm here to thank you for keeping the legend alive."

"Gee shucks, C.J. but you're my hero."

"Not everyone agrees anymore."

"Problem Case is that they don't know their myths from their hisses."

"Thanks again D.B. Now I gotta go. I gotta run a No. 638 all the way back to Water Valley."

And with the low call of a whippoorwill Casey was on his way.

Now Old D.B. lay his head back down on his pillow, but he couldn't get back to sleep. You see folks, the low call of Casey's whistle, the pounding of John Henry's hammer, they're too insistent.

There is a notion that myth equates to something that is untrue whereas nothing could be further from the truth.

A myth is but a framework which allows us to interpret, make meaning, from something else. In our case fiction, poetry. The myth itself is not intended to be interpreted. A myth creates a rich array of metaphor. It utilises imagery and symbolism. From these we make meaning of the real world.

Our stories are not in themselves real - however they represent reality. Our characters are as far removed from the the individuals peopling our world as is possible, but when we are successful they are believed in as being real. At that moment in time they are mythologised.

As writers our raw material is the stuff of myth - is indeed myth itself.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Hammer Gonna Be The Death Of Me

"Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, John Henry, Johnny Appleseed... I could go on and on.."

"Well, old D.B. far be it from me to tell you but you do."

"They're myths. Don't you get it. That's what us writers do, create myths. If you don't know a good myth when you see one, you may as well lay down your pen... Let me sing you a song:

One, two, three

Well, John Henry was a little baby

Sittin' on his daddy's knee

He pick up a hammer and a little piece of steel,

And cried, "Hammer's gonna be the death of me, Lord, Lord

Hammer's gonna be the death of me

"Now the captain he said to John Henry,

"I'm gonna bring that steam drill

'roundI'm gonna bring that steam drill out on these tracks

I'm gonna knock that steel on down, God, God

Gonna knock that steel on down"

John Henry told his captain,"Lord, man ain't nothin' but a man

Before I let that steam drill beat me down...."

Thursday, August 30, 2007

It Takes One To Know One

"So D.B. what's with this Casey Jones groove?"

"What's with what groove?" (Indignation).

"You know the train driver dude."


"Yeah - the dude groove - what gives?"

"We're still talking about Casey Jones, right?"

"That's right, the guy who crashed his train, killed himself."

"He sacrificed his life for others, dim wit. Casey's a hero - a universal one at that."

"Yeah, Universal Pictures."

"Watch your mouth, boy."

"What about this from the wreck report: Reports received to date indicate that Engineer Jones of the passenger train, who lost his life in the accident, was alone responsible for the accident as train No. 83 which was obstructing the main track at Vaughan sawing by train No. 26 was properly protected by flagman, who had gone back a distance of 3000 feet, where he had placed torpedoes on the rail; then continued north a further distance of 500 to 800 feet, where he stood and gave signals to train No. l; which signals, however, were apparently not observed by Engineer Jones: nor is it believed he heard the explosion of the torpedoes as his train continued toward the station at a high rate of speed, notwithstanding the fact it was moving up a grade; collision occurring at a point 2l0 feet north of the north passing track switch. It is also stated that Engineer Jones of train No.l failed to sound the whistle for the station when passing the whistle board. "

"Mere speculation."

"What about this then? - Jones entered the service of this company as fireman in March, l888, was promoted to position of engineer in February, l890, since which date his record has been as follows:-
Suspended 10 days February 14, 1891, for collision Water Valley Yard;
Suspended 5 days January 17, 1893, running through switch, Carbondale;
Suspended 5 days for running through switch at Villa Ridge:
Suspended 10 days December 6, 1893, for striking flat car in siding;
Suspended 15 days January 4, 1896, rear end collision extra north and No. 92 at Toone, December 20, 1895;
Suspended 30 days June 16, 1896, for gross carelessness in handling orders at Jackson, Tenn., train 2/52, June 3rd, in violation of rules 509, 509-a and 519;
Suspended 30 days September 3, 1896, sectional collision near Hickory Valley August 27, 1896, train extra north, engine 618;
Suspended 10 days September 22, 1897, for not recognizing flagman who was protecting work train extra, engine 106, as required by train rules;
Suspended 30 days for having left switch open at cross over in north yard, resulting in train No. 21 running in on siding May 22, 1899;

Where's your hero now?"

"The guy's a legend. Take it from Dead Beat. It takes one to know one."

An Irish Heart As Big As Your Body

So Dead beat has been thinking about Casey Jones recently. And why wouldn't he having been riding the rails these last few weeks?
Old D.B. remembers talking to CJ's wife some time back: "My husband's real name was John Luther Jones," she told him. "He was a loveable lad - 6 feet 4 1/2 inches in height, darkhaired and gray-eyed. Always he was in good humor and his Irish heart was as big as his body."
Come all you rounders that want to hear
The story of a brave engineer.
Casey Jones was the rounder's name,
On a six eight wheeler, boys, he won his fame.
Casey Jones mounted to his cabin,
Casey Jones with his orders in his hand
Casey Jones mounted to his cabin,
And he took his farewell trip to that promised land.
The caller call Casey at half past four,
He kissed his wife at the station door,
He mounted to the cabin with the orders in his hand,
And he took his farewell trip to that promised land.
When he pulled up that Reno hill,
He whistled for the crossing with an awful shrill;
The switchman knew by the engine's moan
That the man at the throttle was Casey Jones.
He looked at his water and his water was low;
He looked at his watch and his watch was slow;
He turned to his fireman and this is what he said,
"Boy, we're going to reach Frisco, but we'll all be dead."
"So turn on your water and shovel in your coal,
Stick you head out the window, watch those drivers roll;
I'll drive her till she leaves the rail,
For I'm eight hours late by that Western Mail.
When he was within six miles of the place,
There number four stared him straight in the face.
He turned to his fireman, said "Jim you'd better jump,
For there're two locomotives that are going to bump.
Casey said just before he died,"There're two more roads I would like to ride."
The fireman said, "Which ones can they be?"
"Oh the Northern Pacific and the Santa Fe."
Mrs. Jones sat at her bed a-sighing
Just to hear the news that her Casey was dying.
"Hush up children, and quit your crying',
For you've got another poppa on the Salt Lake Line."

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Thinking The Day - Ross Leckie

Dead Beat has moved into Ross Leckie country - D.B. thinks you would want to read this poem by the man himself - even if you have better things you think you should be doing - because you haven't.


Now is a time of thinness, the treetops
bare like the parts of speech diagrammed.

This the substratum of the way we speak
the keener edges of longer nights,

of livid greens blanched to paler
orange and yellows. The remnants

of a cow in a stockyard drained of blood,
maple leaves holding to the memory.

The way the day was fat with sunlight,
gone like a cloud of summer gnats.

A shriveled pear has leaked its juice
upon a paving stone and the buzz

of a late wasp is below the threshold
of hearing, the wings slower as if its

battery were wearing down. Autumn
rains have settled in to a smother of

low-lying thoughtfulness unmoving
in the sky, the street a matte of charcoal.

When the fire engine scuttled past,
it seemed it could not control the blaze,

the siren screamed of the urgent trees
bursting everywhere with saintliness.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Dead Beat A.K.A. Casey Jones

Dead Beat has been riding the rails - all the way over to New Brunswick where he has taken up residence. So he has been on mute for a while, but he's back in a manner of speaking. Seeing as how he grew up on a healthy dose of Casey Jones, he's been having a good time however.
Now that his internet is up and running I guess he can start riding the cyber rails for a while instead.

Monday, July 23, 2007

In The Lake Of The Woods

So Dead Beat has been to Lake of the Woods. Got him thinking all over again about that amazing work by Tim O'Brien In the Lake of the Woods. A mystery novel exploring the disappearance of Kathy Wade on the surface - beneath it, the book explores the 'disappearance' of John Wade caught up in the My Lai massacre. O'Brien intersperses his narrative with the testimony of real life figures and as ever explores the tension between fact and truth. What allows a human being to engage in the horrors of war? John Wade 'disappeared' during the horrific events he was a part of - who 'reappeared' in his place?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Dead Beat Improves His Skills

I know, I know. You think Dead Beat has upped and left you all - gone onto bigger and better things - deserted his minions. Nothing could be further than the truth (Don't say it, Hudson!). I've been busy - manual labour - painting, wood work, general repairs you name it. No time for words.

But you know Dead Beat - all this labour can only serve to improve his knowledge of writing - the craft of house-painting/the craft of writintg etc. etc. More on this anon.

For now I want to hone my poetic skills, so I am heading out to tend to my garden - all this to ready my home for sale - all this in preparation of a journey East.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Reality TV

Reality TV.

A writer says he will write a novel and share it with a multitude of characters. Then one of the characters has a drug problem and another has a mouth problem. One thinks they are already famous and one dies of exhaustion. The writer meanwhile develops a form of mould on their body and begins to shrink.

He ( and he turns out to be a she) wins an award (not necessarily for writing) and learns how to turn the camera off.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

So Dead Beat goes to Fredericton and meets Ross Leckie and Mark Jarmon. They treat him well. Mark has a book out about Ireland called Ireland's Eye. A memoir of sorts, he says. Mark is married to Sharon a very fine poet. They have gone to Iowa in the past and studied with Barry Hannah, Drool.

Their fellow students included Charlie Smith and Denis Johnson.

Die and drool!

Newspapers to Sell Books

Music retailers have lashed out at musician Prince who is giving away his latest CD in a British newspaper, weeks before its official release on July 24.

"It is an insult to all those record stores who have supported Prince throughout his career," said Paul Quirk of the Entertainment Retailers Association in Britain. "It is yet another example of the damaging … culture which is destroying any perception of value around recorded music."

"They are living in the old days and haven't developed their businesses sufficiently. We can enhance their business. They are being incredibly insular and need to move their business on," Miron told BBC News.

What do you Dead Beater's think? Free books in the neswpapers? That already happened in Ireland over the last few years.

Books to sell newspapers?

CDs to sell newspapers?

Newspapers to sell books?

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Dead Beat Is Not Dead

Contrary to rumours Dead Beat is not dead. He is alive and well and heading for Fredericton.

Yes Dead Beat has been busy readying his house for sale i.e. removing 10,000 books supporting the foundations and roof.

Hudson barks his approval.

So bear with him. All will soon come back to life. Dead Beat will have a resurrection of sorts.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Unbearable Loneliness

So outside of Leonard Cohen what's the loneliest thing you can think of?

I'll tell you: an empty bookshelf. And I'll tell you what's lonelier than that: Dead Beat's library.

If you haven't been in Dead Beat's library, then you have missed out on one of the great treats in the literary world. But tonight the shelves are empty. The books are boxed. Yes my friends, Dead Beat is on the move. Leaving the tranquility of a space sandwiched between the Canadian prairies and the Canadian Shield, the boreal forest. Off to where? Well that's for another day. Today he is contemplative, quiet, not his usual self.

He walks without reason into the empty wood panelled room, surveys the wooden bookshelves devoid of life, drops his head, runs his fingers along the shelves for dust, his own dust, and he walks out again. Later he will return. Leave and return.

While packing them away he was determined to be courageous, heroic, to select those books which would not accompany him on his journey. So in the beginning he took each and every book down singly and held it in his hand, weighing it up: to keep or to pass on. An hour later he was grabbing them a half dozen at a time and storing them away. His pile for passing on non-existent. It doesn't matter that very many of these books will go unread. It doesn't matter that there are often many different copies of the same book. It doesn't matter that there are books there he cannot ever remember acquiring. The acquisition, the possession of books has nothing to do with it, the reading of books has nothing to do with it. These books mark out the passage of Dead Beat's life. The more boxes there are, the closer he is to death.

Book shelves are tombs Dead Beat finally decides. They are empty now. He has risen from the dead.

Hudson Charts Out His Life

So Hudson comes back with his Power Point.

"Watch the screen, Big Boy," he growls. "Dogs and cats age much more quickly in their early life than in their later life relative to humans. For example, the human equivalent of a one-year-old cat or dog is actually between about 10 and 15 years—a one-year-old dog or cat has generally reached its full growth and is sexually mature, although it might still be lanky and need to fill in a more mature musculature, similar to human teenagers. The second year is equivalent to about another 3 to 8 years in terms of physical and mental maturity, and each year thereafter is equivalent to only about 4 or 5 human years.
Because of this, one alternate, more accurate calculation for "dog years" is for the first two years to count as 10 "dog years", and for every year after that to count as 5 "dog years". The average dog life expectancy of about 13 years would translate to 75 under this system (20 + 5*11), as opposed to 91 under the "traditional" system... Got it yet?"

"Hud Pup, yuou're talking to a mathematician here. I understand graphs. I know my Xs from my Ys."

"Not as Ys as you thought though Dad, are you now?"

Monday, June 11, 2007

Hudson Hits the Teenage Years

Hudson's not talking to me anymore. He overheard me reminding Mrs Dead Beat that the pup was turning one on Saturday.

"We ought to get him something special," I told her. "Tick preventative, protection against heartworm disease, one of those rubber bones."

So Hudson interrupts, "Enough of the pup business Dad. I'm eleven of your years. I'm darn near a teenager. If you want to get me any medication, get me some zit control."

"You're still a pup. Besides that's all urban legend."

"You can't treat me like this just cause you're older," he growls.

"Sure I can, Pup."

So he turns on his heels and stomps out of the room.

"Hey Hudson," I call after him..."I am not an animal! I am a human being! man!"

Dead Beat Makes A Deal With Penguin

So what's with penguins today. The world and it's mother has been googling penguins and finding Dead Beat by mistake. I'll admit to a love of ice, a teensy bit prone to waddling, a preference for black and white, but I'll be damned if I'm going to eat squid for the rest of my life.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Impetuous Curves - George Mallory

Dead Beat has a good friend Wayne who likes to climb mountains. He has also been scaling the heights of a novel for many years. Dead beat awaits that particular summit.

Anyway it got him thinking - what with climbers replicating 1920's gear to see if George Mallory might have been the first climber to scale Mount Everest.

Mallory at the age of 14 won a mathematics scholarship to Winchester College, England where iIn his senior year there, he was introduced to rock climbing by a master, R. L. G. Irving, who took a small number of pupils climbing in Wales each year.

Mathematics!! Dead Beat is now enthralled. So mountaineering and mathematics. Writing cannot surely be far behind.

Geoffrey Winthrop Young one of the most accomplished alpine climbers of his day describes his ability: "His movement in climbing was entirely his own. It contradicted all theory. He would set his foot high against any angle of smooth surface, fold his shoulder to his knee, and flow upward and upright again on an impetuous curve. Whatever may have happened unseen the while between him and the cliff... the look, and indeed the result, were always the same – a continuous undulating movement so rapid and so powerful that one felt the rock must yield, or disintegrate."

Yes. Writing.

Yield or disintegrate. Flow against the impetuous curves

Good Poetry Is A Beer Shit

Bukowski Wants To Tell You This

But did you listen?

Dead Beat wants you to listen closely: "Reading the poets has been the dullest of things...many of the great poets of the past, I've read their stuff. I've read it. All I get is a goddamn headache, boredom. I really feel sickness in the pit of my stomach, I say, there's some trick going on here. This is not true, this is not real, it's not good. You see poetry itself contains as much energy as a Hollywood industry, as much energy as a stage play on Broadway. All it needs are practitioners who are alive to bring it alive. Poetry is always said to be a private hidden heart which is not appreciated. The reason it is not appreciated is because it hasn't shown any guts, hasn't shown any dance, hasn't shown any moxy... Those who say the poet is a private and precious person I don't agree with. Generally he is just a dumb feddling asshole writing insecure lines that don't come through, believing he's immortal, waiting for his immortality, which never arrives because the poor fucker just can't write...nothing should ever be done that should be done. It has to come out like a good hot beer shit. A good hot beer shit is glorious man , you get up, you turn around, you look at it, your proud, the fumes, the stink of the turds, you look at it, you say God I did it, I'm good. The you flush it away. Then there's that sense of sadness, and just the water is there. It's like writing a good poem. You just do it. It's a beer shit. It's nothing to analyse. There's nothing to say. It's just done. Got it..."

I got it Buk. I got it.