Thursday, July 28, 2011

The future of 2001

The year came and went without much deep space travel, computers going mad or giant monoliths. We did get the Segway – something science fiction writers didn’t quite expect. (Too much focus on jet packs.) The two-wheeled gyro scooter is actually much closer to vehicles Dr. Seuss envisioned.

I finally got to ride one. Indoors. I didn’t kill myself because the thing is too damn easy to use. You can’t show off skill, like on a skateboard. They don’t have the history and sport of the bicycle. For six large, you can pick up a used Miata and share the fun.

Segways will never be as cool as they are fun. The dorky position, the handle – does a surfboard have a handle? – and the battery life will keep it as far from the hip crowd as a hip replacement. The technology is amazing and Segways have all kinds of interesting, practical uses.

But they’re still great examples of a future that just doesn’t fit. Rolling alongside manned space flights to the edge of the solar system, and huge slabs of humming stone.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Fun to frustration ratio

I gave up playing golf 15 years ago. I can blame the house, kids, costs but the real reason was – and is – skill level. There are kangaroos hitting the ball farther and straighter than I ever could. There comes a point at which the frustration outweighs the fun. It’s no longer worth it. You’re faced with a choice – go all in (lessons, play three times a week, video tape yourself, read the magazines, buy new clubs) or get out (everything else in life). Hanging up the putter was easy. It would allow me to write more, while still staying in touch with my family.

So, when a rejection letter comes in from some Podunk anthology for a story I tossed them out of the goodness of my heart, because I feel like slumming sometimes, and because other times, if you’re as sweet as I am on the inside, you need to show it outside. You toss a nice piece of writing to little publications that can use it.

Not to have it tossed back like I’m some kind of towel boy at the club. What’s that? I have half a mind to go back to playing golf, where my fate becomes my own. Paring a hole is not subject to someone else’s whims. It’s just me. And the wind. And the greenskeeper’s got to do his job, right?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

What was she thinking?

I don’t want churn national news, but when it comes to the Casey Anthony verdict, I can’t help thinking, a little bit, about “Cinco de Mayo” – the novel, not the holiday. For those who aren’t familiar with the premise, go get a copy and read it. No, seriously, it’s a good book. It starts like this: Everyone around the world suddenly shares complete memories with someone else. Names, languages, first kisses and what you had for dinner the previous night. Everyone gets an “Other”, an ultimate pen pal.

And I really wish Casey Anthony had an Other, like in the book. I can’t stand the vagaries of her story. It’s incomplete and I’m fearing it will remain that way, along side Jon BenĂ©t Ramsey’s tale, for ever. Were this a novel, it couldn’t be published. Too infuriating. It wouldn’t even make a good cautionary episode of “Law and Order”. People like stories. That’s why everyone made up his or her own as the trial proceeded. And why everyone’s so frustrated now. The story didn’t work.

It’s too bad we don’t have an Other – or an author – to provide more insight, to sew this all up into a package. Not a nice one - that was never going to happen – but at least something tight. Something done. Sometimes, sadly, fiction is better than real life.