Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Writers mine their own lives for material -- they have to -- in a world with only three plots, what makes my story different than yours is that I am telling it. My spin is what makes it unique. (And not "more unique" or "less unique." The word brooks no qualifier. It's like the term "complete stop." Silly -- either you stop or you don't; a thing is unique or it isn't.)
Mm. Anyway, finding old recollections among the ruins of my dwindling mind and putting them down here is one of the ways to save them against the day when I'll be competely overdrawn at the memory bank.
If I can recall where I put the files ...
Great thing about getting older is that you can finally sing all the bass parts of the old rock songs. Bad thing is, you can't remember the words to the songs ...
An aid to this self-exploration is the great, free program, Google Earth. You download this, install it, and then you have access to real-view maps of the world, and can zoom in from thousands of miles up to, in some cases, close enough to see what kind of car is parked in somebody's driveway. Big Brother is watching us all. There are spysats that are a lot sharper -- they can tell which newspaper you are reading out back in the lawn chair, see the glow of a cigarette tip when you sneak out for a smoke late at night.
Want to see what the house you grew up in looks like today? Plug in the address and go see.
One rainy afternoon when I should have been working on a book, I went instead into map-land and found all the places I have lived, from the time I was born until now. Some of them are long gone -- torn down for freeway overpasses or department stores, or in some cases, just burned, leveled, the ashes scattered and the earth salted.
It is pretty amazing to be able to fly across a virtual county and get an overhead view of the house my grandma owned on River Road in Lafayette, Louisiana in 1957, where my little brother and I took our BB guns to the bayou (the Vermilion River) and shot snakes and caught catfish and gar, as fresh-faced lads. We slept in a room with French doors, through which you could see the moonlight glint off the oily, muddy-brown water, Daisy air rifles next to us in case the Creature from the Black Lagoon decided to drop round. I used to believe that a well-placed BB from ole Betsy would actually stop the thing.
In fact, that house is the setting for a short story I once wrote about exactly that, a late night visit by the creature to a pair of young brothers: "A Few Minutes in Granddaddy's Old House on Black Bottom Bayou ..."
My tribute to Goldman's Princess Bride.
Hmm. I think I have softcopy of that somewhere. Maybe I'll put it up on the blog. It was kinda funny.