Can’t We Tell Stories Anymore?

117 Family Campfire Camping Storytelling Stock Photos, Pictures &  Royalty-Free Images - iStock

The stories we heard around the campfire at Y Camp in the 60s were better than today’s movie scripts.

The art of storytelling is as old as humanity itself. So what gives with all these current movies in which the story just totally falls apart in the last 30 minutes of the film? Like the writers have no idea how to end it?

How do you learn to tell a story? You listen to stories, you read as many as you can, and you imitate the ones you like. But if hardly anyone is reading anymore, who’s left who knows how to tell a story?

I’m tired of movies that promise much and wind up delivering nothing. We watched a film called A Cure for Wellness (2016), supposedly a psychological thriller about goings-on at a pricey, innovative wellness center somewhere in the Swiss Alps. Exquisitely filmed, well-acted… and we aborted the final 15 or 20 minutes of it because the writers had thoroughly lost the thread of the story and tried to make up for it with graphic sex scenes. And it was a long movie, too: we’ll never get those hours back.

The same thing happens with a lot of new movies: they just can’t wrap up the story. It’s like it only ends because they couldn’t buy more film. I have already deleted most of the titles from my mind. Not worth remembering!

I put it down to a shortage of reading. Nobody’s reading cogent stories anymore, so no one knows how to write one. And I suspect it’s going to get worse before it gets better–if it ever does get better. Can we only watch old movies anymore? Is there any way we can force today’s screenwriters to watch them?

We used to know how to tell a story. Now it seems we don’t. What a loss that is! And dumbing down the public is no way to keep a country running.

Back to Jurassic Park!

So there’s a new Jurassic Park movie coming out, I’ve seen the trailer–and I’m hooked! But really the hook was set in 1993 (good grief, 30 years ago!) with the first Jurassic Park–which we’re going to watch again this afternoon.
I have just blown 20 minutes trying to turn my computer back on–which is one of the lessons Michael Crichton tried to teach when he wrote Jurassic Park. All those high-tech safety and security systems aren’t worth a damn when they rely on human beings never to forget anything, never to click the wrong key, never to try something cute. God made us fallible. Did He ever make us fallible! You’d think that would breed humility. But then Jurassic Park is about hubris, not humility. Homer would’ve understood it instantly.

How wonderful would it be to see a dinosaur? I’ve been fascinated by dinosaurs since I first learned how to read. Of all God’s creations, these speak most powerfully to me. Imagine the size and strength! Try–in vain, probably–to imagine what it must have been like to be a dinosaur.

I know, I know. I’m old enough now to forget dinosaurs and just watch movies about failing relationships and sinks full of dirty dishes.

Not a chance, kimosabe! Not a chance.

How They Almost Lost Chumley (‘Oy, Rodney’)

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Chapter CDLXXXXIII of Violet Crepuscular’s epic romance, Oy, Rodney, finds Constable Chumley clinging by his rapidly-weakening fingertips to the brink of a cliff with a hundred-foot drop while Lord Jeremy and the constable’s mother–you will remember she was disguised as Thir Lanthelot the lisping knight–discussing how they might save the poor chap from falling onto the jagged rocks below.

What a sentence! I dare anyone to diagram it.

The constable pleads, “Mum! M’lord! Ith woogen ye minndle!” Meanwhile the constable’s mother asks, “What tipped ya off I was a dame, big boy?”

(Oh, now, just a cotton-pickin’ minute! I refuse to sit here and edit and publish such twollop. If the characters are going to start talking like a 1930s gangster movie, I’m out of here.)

“Some of you have complained about the constable’s mother’s choice of words,” writes Ms. Crepuscular. “In fact, I have received death threats–as if those could scare me! Obviously the readers are ignorant of the art of stymphalianism, which allows fictional characters in any genre to talk like a 1930s gangster movie. Edward G. Robinson isn’t the only one allowed to talk like Edward G. Robinson! But in deference to my readers’ philistine tastes in literature, I’ll give this a twenty-three skiddoo from now on.”

How much longer can she keep poor Chumley hanging?

Ugh! Giant Monster Bacteria

A picture shows Thiomargarita magnifica next to a dime,

Nature always has surprises in store for us, and not all of them are nice.

Giant bacteria big enough to be seen by the naked eye, for instance. They’re 5,000 times the size of regular bacteria.

These monster bacteria live in the mangrove swamps of Gaudeloupe Island, in the Caribbean, and were only discovered in 2009. Now they’re being studied in a lab somewhere. “Oh, boy, Dr. Frankenstein! If bacteria can get this big, why not bigger? Why not as big as boxcars? Our friends in China have a nice lab in Wuhan where we can work on that without Rand Paul breathing down our necks!”

It would never occur to anyone just to leave stuff like this alone. They never just leave it alone: that’s how they brought us King COVID.

A mangrove swamp seems like a very good place to avoid.


‘Did Jesus “Hate”?’ (2019)

82 Jesus in the Temple ideas | jesus in the temple, jesus, biblical art

He didn’t want the moneychangers in His Father’s temple, and he didn’t want the Nicolaitanes in His churches: Jesus Christ Our Lord did NOT “accept,” “affirm,” or even tolerate everyone and everything.

Did Jesus ‘Hate’?

Time has erased the memory of what, exactly, the Nicolaitanes said or did that earned Christ’s condemnation: but the condemnation is in no uncertain terms, and He does use the word “hate” to describe how He feels about them and their teachings.

Maybe we’re better off not knowing what those were.

By Request, ‘In His Time’

All those butterflies and flowers! God’s hand formed them all… and then pronounced it good.

Requested by Erlene–In His Time, performed by Maranatha! It makes me want to go outside and drink in the beauty of the Lord’s creation.

Kittens Searching for Lost Cities

Well, okay, they didn’t find any! Is that my fault? How many lost cities have you found lately?

Ah, it’s been a long time since we had kittens romping around our living room. When Robbie and Peep discovered they could fluff out their tails and run sideways, they couldn’t get enough of it. They grow out of it, though, so enjoy it while you’ve got it.

Oh, The Things I Should (?) Have Done! Master of Life and Death eBook : Silverberg, Robert: Kindle  Store

I read this book while I was still in grade school–Master of Life and Death by Robert Silverberg. Its theme was a harsh government response to “overpopulation.”

Now I’m reading Hell’s Cartographers, autobiographical sketches by prominent science fiction writers who had long careers; and the first essay is by Robert Silverberg.

Fascinating! And it’s a paradox. Silverberg attained financial success as a writer when he was still very young, and yet he was haunted by a conviction that all he’d done was to become a hack who cranked out reams and reams of bilge. And he tells you how he did it! Gee, I never even though of doing most of the things he did to grow his career. And I haven’t yet read how he resolved his inner conflict. All I see is that you can become a big success without doing anything worthwhile.

I suspect that one of the lessons I’ll learn from this book is that each and every published writer must follow his own path to “getting there.” My own path has been long and convoluted: didn’t get a novel published until 1986. If only I’d thought of schmoozing with other individuals in the publishing industry!

But would my own work have been the better or the worse for it?

Once upon a time I wrote a perfectly serviceable thriller that a major magazine would have bought and published–if, and only if, I rewrote it to plug in some sleazy sex scenes. I agonized over this for quite a while; but my wife warned me that if I did it, it would surely come back to haunt me. And how could I ever present such work to my Aunt Betty, the nun, or Uncle Bernie, a Methodist minister? So I didn’t make the changes, and that was that.

Hell’s Cartographers, I think, will be quite an adventure for me.

Byron’s TV Listings, June 25

A Review of the 1973 TV Guide Fall Preview Issue | Cavalcade of Awesome

G’day! Byron the Quokka here–and would you believe it? Next time I’m here, it won’t be June anymore. But in the meantime, Quokka University still brings you shows like these:

7:01 P.M.  Ch. 18   OCD EXPRESS–Crime drama/Game show

The cops at the 55th Precinct all suffer from OCD–so they need the help of you, the viewers, to get out from behind their desks and solve some crimes! The world’s first interactive cop show, you name the crime and you decide whodunnit! Inspector Farrakhan: Dom DeLuise. Sgt. Flabb: Unidentifiable. Officer Perky: Irish McCalla. Lt. Fillibuster: A potted rubber plant.

7:15 P.M.  Ch. 05  WHIMPERING SMITH–Western

Sam Waterston stars as Sheriff Jake Smith, the whiniest lawman in the West. It’s all Deputy Snivel (Yogi Bear) can do to stop him from “annoying people to death!” This week: A psychotic rotifer rustler (Alain Delon) tries to shoot himself rather than listen to any more of Jake’s whining.

7:30 P.M.  Ch. 27  NEWS WITH GNUS–News & commentary

Highest ratings ever for a major news show! A team of wildebeests, backed up by great ventriloquists just out of sight, covers all the news while munching grass, mating, head-butting, and running away from lions. Of course, that’s it for Sports that night, if the lions catch the gnu who happens to be covering it…

Ch. 41  RUIN YOUR HEALTH!–Health & fitness

Uzguck Swaley has been called “the Anti-Jack LaLanne,” but there’s a method to his madness! Unfortunately no one knows what it is. This week Uzguck introduces a new exercise “that hurts like hell and doesn’t accomplish anything at all.” Special guest: the cast of “The View.”

8 P.M.  Ch. 71  MOVIE–Ancient Egyptian fertility tragedy

(Give us a break: we don’t make ’em, we only show ’em!) In My Mommy the Mummy (Norman/Saxon, 1966), the June Taylor Dancers star as oppressed but dismayingly cheerful peasants whom the evil Pharaoh (Reggie Jackson) just can’t control… but maybe Vincent Price (himself) can! Columbo: Peter Falk. Peter Pan: Mary Martin.

Well, folks, have we aroused your appetite for gourmet TV? Sorry, we had a live cooking show planned, but everybody’s laid up with food poisoning. I told them about those mayonnaise!

Quokka (Setonix brachyurus) eating a banana peel that it has stolen from  the bin in accommodation hut, Rottnest Island, Western Stock Photo - Alamy

Byron the Quokka, signing off. Banana peel, anyone?

Abortion as Self-Defense (Are They That Crazy?)

Ezekiel 8:14-18 KJV - Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the  LORD's house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women  weeping for Tammuz.

Tammuz was a pagan deity, an idol, whose worship crept into Jerusalem and reached even into the Temple of Jehovah, as told in Ezekiel 8. In those days in Judah, the right worship of God was corrupted by “going along to get along” with paganism.

We don’t have Tammuz anymore, but we do have plenty of idols. “Science.” The state. Celebrities. And Abortion (!), aka “Women’s Health,” “Reproductive Rights,” and “Choice.” And now that the Supreme Court has knocked it down as law for the whole country, kicking it back to the states, there are plenty of wackos out there literally weeping (and cursing and screaming) for this heathen idol. Just like they used to weep for Tammuz, before the destruction of Jerusalem.

But look at it this way.

If you abort a whole generation of babies, there’ll be no one around to have you euthanized the moment you miss a step.