Tuesday, August 20, 2013

10 Facts About Elmore Leonard

Elmore Leonard (October 11, 1925 – August 20, 2013) was a prolific writer who lived a life spanning all of eighty-seven years and has achieved several notable feats. Here are 10 facts about this genius to honor his memory and his legacy which will live on in and among us.

1. Elmore Leonard published his first novel “The Bounty Hunters” in 1953.

2. Leonard’s interest in literature was aroused when, in his fifth grade he read a serialization of “All Quiet on the Western Front” in a Detroit newspaper.

3. Leonard’s influences included the great Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck and Raymond Chandler.

4. Over 28 of his novels and short story have been adapted to movies and television series.

5. Elmore Leonard was born in New Orleans on October 1925 and passed on in Detroit on August 2013 at age 87.

6. At age 9, Leonard’s dad, a General Motors executive moved his family to Detroit. Leonard lived there until his death in 2013.

7. Elmore Leonard started out penning Westerns. The first story he sold was “Trail of the Apaches” in 1951 to Argosy magazine.

8. Leonard picked the nickname “Dutch” because of the similarity between his name and the baseball pitcher’s “Emil Dutch Leonard.

9. Leonard published over 40 novels in his lifetime including “Get Shorty,” “Raylan,” “Up in Honey’s Room,” “Tishomingo Blues.He claimed the movie adaptation of “Get Shorty” made his a household name.

10. Leonard published his last novel “Raylan” in 2012.

He received several Lifetime Achievement Awards from various writer’s organizations during his lifetime and sold film rights to most of his books. As a Guardian article in honor of Elmore Leonard said, it is sad that it “took the critics 30 years to catch up with him.”

RIP Elmore Leonard.


Monday, August 19, 2013


Courtesy: layoutlocator.com

                                It’s not my fault
                                That when I exhale
                                It’s a death sentence on pain.
                                It’s not my fault
                                The sun beams down its shine
                                Into my corner when it’s pitch dark like a mine.
                                It’s not my fault
                                I can put my feet up in the heat and find peace
                                Even when prospects are no longer at ease.
                                It’s not my fault
                                That every time I shut my eyes and squelch a tear
                                I’m compensated for my loss by angels hovering near.
                                It’s not my fault
                                I got my life on point;
                                That I always seem to end up on the right side of the coin.
                                It’s not my fault
                                I rise constantly,
                                That somebody up there’s looking out for me.
                                It’s not my fault my rain turns to change,
                                That I play hard but don’t talk a good game.
                                And dudes best know where to point the blame.


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Reading Poems: Fodder For Poetry

Read scores of poetry = Write scores of poetry. Reading poems discharges a creative brand of influence that fosters the seed of the craft inside of you. A well-written verse is catching especially, when you read one that warms into your private spot.

Pick up a poetry collection, the type that appeals fiercely to your taste, crawl in between a complex web work of metaphors and put thoughts of you out of your mind for a minute. Live in the moment. You’ll experience the crush of inspiration pushing up through your blood vessels, the deeper you dig beneath the flesh for the bones, the greater the pressure that engulfs you.
Courtesy: poetryfoundation.org

“None of us ever wants to write a poem in the first place unless we have read a poem that truly takes us.” — Robert Wallace.

Our appreciation of poetry—admiration for poetic vernacular—is sharpened by the poems we read. By the by, it is the magic pumped into our souls by these poems we take a crack at reinventing at what time we recollect personal emotions in tranquility. The metric flow we conjure up are modeled after the poems we read and the multiverse created by those poets boil over into our own craft generating a rich and textured commonwealth of the imaginative variety.

Ultimately, “the undisguised admiration ‘I can do that’ is the seed from which every poet sprouts and grows. — Robert Wallace.

Most great poems are made up of honey-sweet and simple vocabulary that surprises phrases like, “Why didn’t I think of that?” out of us. And the answer is just as simple, we haven’t been doing too much reading.
                Immerse yourself in poems. There is no other approach to navigate an ocean of words with the skill of a master.


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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Did Stephen King Get the Idea for His book Under The Dome from His Tommyknockers Novel?

It’s pretty much likely I’ve stumbled on the origin of Stephen King’s Under The Dome (UTD)… and it’s absolutely not The Simpsons Movie. The book with a goodish length, which only recently got adapted to a miniseries on CBS has been quite the source of controversial stint since its release into the fiction market in 2009. Stephen king has defended the originality of his idea for the book on his website by posting a 61-page facsimile excerpt from his original novel The Cannibals, an unpublished unfinished 450-page handwritten novel written in 1982, while King was filming Creepshow.

All comparisons from The Tommyknockers novel were retrieved from only the last three chapters of the book.

The Year 1982
With what I have, I’m probably a little more apt to hit the bull’s eye than earlier speculations. Did you see the figures in red above? What’s so special about them? Draft for The Cannibals, which eventually, became Under The Dome (UTD) was written that year. The same holds for The Tommyknockers (TK) draft if the date at the bottom of the page (August 19th, 1982) after the Epilogue is anything to go by. It’s a possibility that one complex story idea spilled over into another story, eh? Most Stephen King fans (and we run into millions) would agree it’s one of his quirks.

Date of Publication Puzzle
Another puzzling detail is the publication dates for the two novels. Apparently, they coincide. Although, published in different years, I’d say about twenty two years apart, both books were published on the same date, November 10. The Tommyknockers came out in 1987 while Under The Dome was released into the market in 2009. Am I saying King did that on purpose? Maybe. Do you have a better explanation?

The Dome vs. The Force Field
In both stories, there is a shield of some sort checking movement beyond the borderlines of both towns. The Havenites (in TK) set up a kind of extraterrestrial force field around their town. Composed of odorless toxic gas, the field stops intrusion from the outside world. The dome in UTD performs a similar function and people who got too close to its source risked exposure to radiation.

The Pacemaker Explosions
We find pacemakers detonating when individuals who had one of these gadgets on them made contact with the Dome/Force field. In both cases, the result is instant death. Is it a wonder that both victims are law enforcement officers? In TK, when Henry Amberson a forest ranger from Newport, one of the men sent in to inspect a possible forest came within spitting distance of the field around Haven his pacemaker exploded in Amberson’s chest. And Police Chief Howard "Duke" Perkins is soon killed when his pacemaker explodes after getting too close to the Dome in UTD.

There are two recorded plane crashes influenced by the barrier around the town of Haven in The Tommyknockers novel. In UTD, the coming of the dome was duly publicized when a Seneca V plane crashed into it killing the wife of the town’s first selectman. Later on, a 767-jetliner conveying passengers over the town of Chester’s Mill disintegrates on impact with the invisible barricade. Two plane crashes in two stories both upshots of barriers of alien origin. Coincidence? I think not.

The Alien Gadgets in the Towns’ Back Fields
Bobbi Anderson discovered the flying saucer buried under the ground in her back field in The Tommyknockers and in Under The Dome, a group of curious teens discover the alien generator, the source of the dome, in the town's back fields.

Okay, I’m out of ideas but if what I got here don’t qualify for weird coincidence, I don’t know if anything else does.


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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

On Identity

If you talk to a man in a language he understands that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.

If you don’t define yourself for yourself, you’ll be crushed into other people’s fantasies of you and be eaten alive.
—Audrey Lorde

My childhood home was the twisted variation of a family guesthouse; we always had some member of a distant family crashing with us. They came and went in a randomized fashion ultimately concocting nature’s own nonpareil interludes. Once, a long time ago, when we were just kids, Sir told my brothers and me, “You ought to make something of a habit out of conversing in your native dialect at home. English of course, should come easy enough in school.” Sir always had one such thing or another to say when he was still around. “It’s vital that you preserve your heritage,” he’d say. “And besides, since I don’t want to play your interpreter when you visit at the village, I would recommend you get the hang of your patois.” ‘Sir’ was what we called our father.

To the relatives we bunked, because he wasn’t their father (though old enough to be for some) and to demonstrate their sense of gratitude and respect, my father became Sir. That is typical Ibibio practice. “Sir” is a monosyllable but we somehow managed to override the laws of phonetics and made the word come out in two syllables. I grew up to observe folks around my home call Father that and I got hooked on it like a drug. Sir didn’t do much by way of setting us straight. I guess he figured it didn’t pretty much matter one way or the other what word repped “father” as long as the attitude clicked.

Sir was a big fan of local dialect—“a man ought to master his own language before any other”—and he stood by his belief until his translation to glory in 1995. (“translation to glory” I think that’s a refined way of depicting death, don’t you?) Through the years, I’ve bumped into sizeable opportunity to reeducate myself on its peculiar and dead level candor. And I make no bones about it but Sir’s opinion makes an intrepid kind of sense.
                The kind that feeds its voice into customs trapped beneath the lid of the coffin of a flung way of life and makes them scream out in a sort of energetic shout that shatters the woodwork like a strong morning light piercing the horizon.

I was a Calabar boy in Lagos. I suppose if you were Nigerian, you’d enjoy poking fun at me about how with those seven words you knew my entire story. Yet, you’d be several miles wide. Looking back, I realize I‘ve always been like an actor in a struggle to identify his role in a play filled with casts who shared apparently similar parts. For me, the idea has been, when my turn comes to make an entrance, not to wind up as an archetype or worse, a flat character. Sir was probably trying to save my brothers and me the unease that trucks with the horde of out-of-placeness among people of our own tribe when he had us learn Ibibio. But you see, when you have to climb life’s ladder while trying to dig three make that four, languages at the same time, the heat is tuned up to the nth degree.

Growing up in Nigeria has not exactly been camping out on Easy Street. I’ve spent a large chunk of my life trying to define who I am in a multi-cultured, multi-layered society. The challenge has not been without its out-of-the-usual-run-of-things type of fun. On the one hand, the Nigerian school system pitched the British English as its official language; on the other hand, I had the American movies, literature and hip-hop that I grew up with. I’m better acquainted with the American version. I even take a sense of pride in the fact that I speak Yoruba to a degree that I make original speakers question my true origin sometimes. But I am the son of my father cause I speak his language; I’ve dipped beneath this black body and fetched up who I am.

A couple of years before, I usually got stuck in a pretty fix when natter shifted to questions regarding my ethnicity. You’d have had to drag the confession out of me with a chainfall. (The unease sprang up from what you’d expect in a society glutted with copious dialects coupled with the reality that my patois was a minority). I’ve had a hard time trying to figure out how exactly I got along way back when I lived in denial—when I’d not yet defined myself for myself to coin a phrase. Then again, another question prays to be tackled. What happened that finally peeled the scales off my eyes and pushed realization, ripe and full across the threshold into where I lived?

Writing happened. You gotta know yourself, know what you stand for to be a writer worth a darn. In my drive to become a better writer, I turned up a knockout identity.
                Yes, writing happened and it introduced me to the sense of who I am, to a sense of place. It’s consumed me with a love for words that’s grown out of a plain desire to express the me of myself to a life-long dream to write anew the details of this macrocosm through the novelty of language.

Keep your pen bleeding.


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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Wooing the Muse

Apocalypse Please
Courtesy: Wikipedia

Have you ever been caught in that fogged up state of mind where you feel an intense need to scribble except within you, right in there, your mind is a full-page blank? Can you feature yourself wedged between such a crazy writing fix where the hunger is not, by any accounts, fed by a necessity like trying to meet a deadline or capping off a project—an appetite for words flanked by dryness beyond compare? I mean, I feel the need right there. I want so much to write but what I have is vacancy—a void that sucks away at the phrases just when one wriggles free of the bottomless pit and swims to the surface of my mind.

Try not to mix this up with writer’s block. This vagueness has nothing in common with that ever so infamous writers’ nightmare because it doesn’t hold sway for an extensive period of time, unless you let it, of course. It’s like feeling the wake of a storm within and being rid of the skill to translate it into words and you still can’t get over the initial itch.

So what do you do? I don’t know about you but what I do is write. What I do write is a bigger piece of cake. But I try. And there’s the point. I write. I may have to scrawl dry, unrelated phrases on paper for a while, struggling to make that connect with the inner mystery. It might take only a minute or it might run into hours, but eventually, I win the muse over by my resolve to write. It’s like the muse is swayed by my seriousness and he says, “There’s my lead.” And he steps in.

A unique quality of transformation attends the entrance of the muse and it puts the shine in my writing. And I sense that my muse has been waiting for me to go out on a limb; holding off until he proves my passion for writing is genuine. It’s good judgment to not wait for the flow but to let our actions unplug the flow.

Make your pen bleed.


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Monday, August 5, 2013

Coincidence: Weird or What?

I’ve been on The Tommyknockers by Stephen King, (I’m still on it, though) for a while now and on Wednesday, July 30th, 2013, I had tumbled through its pages and arrived at Saturday, July 30th of whatever year the events in the story took place. That sort of incident has a name, you know? It’s called coincidence.

Courtesy: pearlsofprofundity.wordpress.com
This minor development kicked up something within. Driven by a need to blog more than by a sense of awe from that flimsy event, I decided to do a piece on the foible of chance events. There are some good happenstances and it’s such fun if you happen on ‘em once in a while. Peel your eyes, look around you, and visualize just how much of the inventions and gadgetry you glimpse would have been around in spite of that inspiration of the goofy variety.

And though we may not always be in a position to churn out masterpieces of the Einstein and Picasso stock from any and every coincidence, fact remains that a good deal of these special events have surprised eureka! out the mouth of many unsuspecting victims. Here, I give you two examples of the entrancing power of coincidence.

Barbary Shore,” a Norman Mailer novel about a Russian spy living in the US turned out to be quite the stuff of fairytales. After the writer completed his novel, US authorities arrested a man living in the same building on a floor above Mailer’s on allegations of being a top Russian spy. How’s that for weird?

There is a story going the rounds about Edgar Allan Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym. In the story, four characters are shipwreck survivors trapped on a boat in the open seas for several days who, instructed by starvation,
Courtesy: jl10ll.wordpress.com 
 decide to cannibalize on the cabin boy named Richard Parker. In 1884, there was an actual incident; a real life-imitating-art gig that had three survivors of a shipwreck gobbling a fourth survivor, a cabin boy named… your guess is as good as mine.

What do you think triggers coincidences?
Maybe, it’s just Nature’s way of catching some fun. When it occurs sometimes, it’s a trifle ordinary it don’t deserve a mention and then it trundles in on a wave of mystic that makes our jaws drop to our chest. And that’s just one of the quirks which this phenomenon sink its teeth into and leaves us hanging, legs flailing, asking questions somehow, we know, we will never get answers to.

Keep your pen bleeding.


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