What About Good Stories ….

1992-5 Rumours-Cast1Today, I read an blog-post by a movie critic Devin Faraci bemoaning the decline of good storytelling in movies and film. It got me thinking. I posted a comment. Thought I’d expand on it and share here:

Like you (Mr. Faraci), I want more movies that provide at least a medium standard of storytelling skill.  I feel insulted by a poorly told story that I’ve been asked to spend money on. Most of my friends believe that a poor story, no matter how well told, is a waste of money. We are more content than ever to wait for movies to show up on cheap or free TV. It’s not about the ticket price. We’ll spend ‘theater money’ on a good story.

I also am discouraged by a year’s offerings that have so little to do with life as I know it – diverse, complex, challenging, goofy, unexpected, heartbreaking, thrilling, real, alive.  I don’t see much of this in the predictable or formulaic visions (dark, heroic, fantasy, or romantic) that become more boring with every copy or repetition. Yes, sometimes I go to movies to ‘escape’, but even then I hope for a solid, somewhat original story.

That brings up the issue that as you age beyond teendom, you become more experienced, more discerning. You become more capable of recognizing and, with writer’s skills, of telling a good story. A fallout of age-ism in Hollywood:  tho there are plenty of great young storytellers, age-ism significantly reduces the number of great stories overall coming out of Hollywood and, with the decline of audiences older than 30, reduces aggregate annual box office tallies.

Some think that abandoning ‘what works now’ means no ticket sales. I think the issue isn’t quality of story, but how accessibly that story is told. People seem to crave good stories that are well and accessibly told through point of view, pace, character, etc.

Spielberg filled movie theaters with a patently fake shark and a good story. Lucas filled movie theaters with fake other-worlds, melodrama, pretty good actors, and good story. The Notebook may be schmaltzy, but the story was good and it sold tons of tickets. Biographical movies that told good stories and sold tons of tickets: Braveheart, Lincoln, Erin Brockovitch, Amadeus, Roots, American Hustle, and too many more to name.   Good mystery movies with solid stories: Sixth Sense, Psycho, Silence of the Lambs, Inception. Sure, I, like many, wish for more diversity in theme and characters. And, that would just add to the pot of more great, diverse, interesting stories to draw from.

I could go on, but …
I see another risk in poor storytelling. We learn from stories, whether from movies, books, TV, or our next-door neighbor. We learn bits about how the world might work, skills, manners of speech, how different people might think-feel-act, exposure to different problems and solutions, and, sometimes, how to treat each other. The specter of living in a society of people who’ve been casually educated by stupid stories, stupid choices (like that Mr. Faraci describes in the Jurassic Park premise) frightens me. Now more than ever we need good stories accessibly told to help us navigate, with brains and humor, the social/science/tech/political life we find ourselves in and to help us envision a world we want to live in.

What do you think?

Celebrating 10 Years of WordPress.com & Automattic

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Congrats WordPress!! Happy Birthday to you 🎂🎁

Originally posted on WordPress.com News:

This year marks the 10th birthday of WordPress.com and our parent company, Automattic. We are proud to have served this community of millions: from writers, photographers, artists, and small and large publishers, to business owners and entrepreneurs.

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It’s never too late.

Charleston - Corrine

It’s never too late,

Or in my case, too early,

To be whoever you want to be.

There’s no time limit.
Start whenever you want.
You can change or stay the same.
There are no rules to this thing.
We can make the best or the worst of it.

I hope you make the best of It.

I hope you see things that startle you.
I hope you feel things you never felt before.
I hope you meet people who have a different point of view.

I hope you live a life you’re proud of.

And if you’re not,
I hope you have the courage to start all over again.

Eric Roth

Storytime 7: Pea or Oleander?


The girl and her pink pig walked away.
Wrapped in weeks of invisibility,
She followed.

Nourishment comes in many forms.
She craved the food of human contact.
Her eyes hungered to meet their own.
Her ears wanted for linguistic spice.
And, if truth be told,
her bones longed for tender embrace.

This promise of sustenance –
Was it pea or oleander?
Nourishment or poison?

She watched.
She would see.

2015 copyright

 Storytime is a series of entries that, together,
form an unfolding story.
Read each as an individual piece
or, start at the beginning (bottom)
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Picture of wild peas is from LaPalma Island blog.

Poem: One River One Boat by Marjory Wentworth

M Wentworth

South Carolina’s Poet Laureate, Marjory Wentworth, wrote the poem “One River One Boat” exclusively to be read yesterday at our state governor’s inauguration. Unlike previous years, this year the inauguration committee decided not to include the poem citing time as the issue.

One River One Boat” deserves to be heard.  South Carolina’s US Congressman Jim Clyburn read it on the House floor yesterday and admitted it into congressional record. See a video of his comments and his reading of the poem here.

Another of my state’s citizens was moved to do her own reading of the poem. Brenda Peart. I hope you don’t mind my including a link to your reading here. 

Thank you Brenda, Thank you Rep. Clyburn. Thank you, Marjory.

I will get you started … please link and read through to the end:

One River, One Boat

I know there’s something better down the road.
— Elizabeth Alexander

Because our history is a knot
we try to unravel, while others
try to tighten it, we tire easily
and fray the cords that bind us.
The cord is a slow moving river,
spiraling across the land
in a succession of S’s,
splintering near the sea.

read on ….

My favorite poem of hers is Dancing Barefoot in Atlanta. You’ll find it, and others, on page 49 of UNdefined Magazine. There’s an article about her on page 43.

Find Marjory’s website here, with additional poetry, her blog, and her writing about being a writer.

Creating: Creating Machines


“The lightning spark of thought generated in the solitary mind awakens its likeness in another mind.” — Thomas Carlyle

Sometimes, creating is an individual thing. A flash of inspiration hits us and we go with it. We call it ours. We take individual responsibility to grow it.

Sometimes, we create as a group. Together, we learn a subject, set goals, probe issues, work through personal differences. Ideally, we learn to respect each other’s gifts and work-styles. Inspiration may come to one or several of us. We begin to ‘spark’ each other in unique ways that don’t happen outside of the group.

When this happens, we are creating something more than solutions. We are bringing to life a creating ‘machine’.

In this case, the machine is a team of people who make up a uniquely creative, ‘creating’ relationship. The mix of team qualities includes an ability to juice each other creatively, to play well together, to spark each other’s imaginations. The team combines curiosity, insight and inspiration for a unique whole that is much more than the sum of its parts. Camaraderie may be part of the mix, but sometimes, conflict and conflict resolution become de facto creative tools.

These teams’ strengths come in different forms, depending on the skills and qualities of the team members. One team may be particularly good at analysis, another at synthesis, or idea generation, or implementation … or some combination these or other skills and qualities.

If you’ve participated in several group creating projects, you may find that the chemistry of one team brings out one set of qualities in you, while a different team may bring out different qualities. In fact, you may find it hard to be productive in one team, but amazingly prolific in another. Of course, your ability to contribute can also depend on how passionate you are about a project, your background knowledge, and your sense of freedom to solve the problem or reach the goal at hand – your belief in the environmental support. Balancing the elements can be tricky, which is why it is such a special thing when a creating group comes together to form a a uniquely, reliably productive unit.

Advertising agencies and other creative groups consciously try to foster these teams. From an organizational standpoint, a ‘creating machine’ can be a very profitable entity. Pay attention if such a team should evolve in your organization. Treasure and protect it.

How to do that? Just like you would your favorite plant: recognize it’s presence, acknowledge it, feed it. Give it the room it needs to evolve and grow, the air it needs to breathe. At times, it may require a little water, fertilizer, or pruning. And, when the time comes to reap the rewards, hold your personal celebration of Thanksgiving, because nothing feeds the next crop quite like gratitude for the current crop.

Gentle-people, start your engines! Let the creating begin.

2015 copyright

Boat Full Of Joy


Silver haired girl
Copper headed boy
Sliding down the river in a boat full of joy.
She’s a little lunar,
He’s a bit’a sun,
They shone so bright you’d think they were one.

Lots of little fishies swimming round their feet.
Lots of pretty dragonflies stirring in the heat.
Lightning bugs all danced along
to the tunes they sang as they rambled on.

Silver haired girl
Copper headed boy
Said they’d never, ever leave their little boat full of joy.
Each a little gentle,
Each a little strong,
They laughed and sang the whole day long.