Thursday, August 9, 2012

Give us a kiss

The other day I re-watched the TED video featuring J.J. Abrams. It's one that I find particularly inspiring. J.J. is a little all-over-the-place, but that's ok, he covers a lot of material and is engaging.
I was particularly re-watching this video for his talk about Jaws. In it he explains that the movie isn't about a shark, it's about a man, struggling with his life. J.J. shows a scene from the movie where Chief Brody is sitting at the table, deep in thought, while his son mimics him.
Eventually he says, "Give us a kiss."
"Because I need it."
It's amazingly touching and it says more about the character than anything else in the movie.

It reminded me of the Scottish Games this summer, I told the story: The Woman Who Flummoxed the Fairies. It's a good story, there're lots of opportunities for vocal sound effects and anachronistic humor: "The wedding cake had one of those novelty cake-toppers. You know, where the Prince is trying to run away and the Princess is grabbing his coat-tails." But, in the denouement: "He wrapped his arms around her waist and give her a kiss. The kind of kiss between two people who have been married for what seems like a lifetime and they love each other more and more everyday."

I delivered that story three times over the weekend, and for all the laughs and fun people had through out the entire twelve minutes, when it came to that part, suddenly the walls came down - in just a few seconds the whole audience, even the teen-aged boys, sighed.

That's the secret sauce, isn't it? Art is best when it is emotionally impactful. Whether it's laughter, fear, courage or love, it's the human factor that really hits 'em where they live. Heroes should have weaknesses, lovers should sacrifice and villians should be passionate about their motives. It's that thing that everyone talks about, that being "genuine". I think that's what makes a great artist, the ability to deliver genuine emotion.

This, more than anything, is my over-arching "what I'm working on".

There's a short-short story that's commonly attributed to Ernest Hemmingway, "For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn."
Talk about pathos!

Friday, August 3, 2012

it's a giant

This week I'm in Columbus, OH.
Whenever I visit a new city I study up on the things that I like to visit - tourist traps mostly. While so much of the travel media spouts "be a traveler, not a tourist" I wear my tourist badge (it's actually an iron-on patch) with pride, ambling through the streets like a rube, ogling at giant balls of string and waiting for the local toughs to take the big camera from around my neck. I have noticed the travel media seems to prefer you sit in the living room glued to the set rather than actually being a tourist, or a traveller. But that's a different blog.
Today I visited some sites I was most looking forward to - I visited a faithful reproduction of Christopher Columbus's Santa Maria and the local science musem - COSI, the Center for Science and Industry.
I like visiting science museums when I travel, and COSI is one of the best I've been to. To begin with the place is freaking huge, and there're so many high-quality attractions, some I would consider theme-park quality. But that's a different blog.
The reason I'm writing about COSI on a blog about music and storytelling is because of this:

That, is the skeleton of a one-hundred foot tall giant, named Gigantic, it was scultped from fencing material by artist Tim Reitenbach.
As someone who talks about giants for a living, it was incredibly cool to see this beast, hunched over in a three level mezzanine, glowering at me.
A hundred feet tall didn't seem like so much, particularly hunched up under the ceiling. I think that's because he's so separated from people - it's kind of like when someone places a soda can in a walk/don't walk light suddenly you realize just how big they are because you have some context.
That's a difficult thing isn't it, context. I've been trying to figure out a way to describe comparitive sizes of various things for years. It has to be something the listener is familiar with, but you don't want it to be so out of place that it's jarring.
Recently I told the goblin spider, and I described the spider as being "as big as a moving van" with legs that spread out a dozen feet from its body in all directions. I don't know if that worked, I know that a moving van is pretty big, particularly when you think about it in the conext of a giant spider, but again it's all relative, if the listener pictures a moving van driving down the road, it's not so big, but if somehow thay're able to conjure the image of a moving van supported by eight legs, spinning about and lunging towards you, well then maybe I'm doing a good job.
As coyote said, wandering through the desert,I shall have to think about this.