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    My daily writing--emails, journal entries, marginalia, more emails, blog posts, and tweets--shapes me as a writer, helping and hindering the big stuff I'm trying to accomplish. Every word counts.

    My name is James Black. I'm on Facebook and Twitter. Friend and/or follow me if you like.

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    Elisse on The First Year of Grief Is as…
    The First Year of Gr… on Postmortem
    The First Year of Gr… on A Eulogy for My Father
    The First Year of Gr… on Keep on Truckin’
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Starts with a Queue

We killed our satellite TV. A few weeks ago, we realized that most of the stuff we watch is available on Netflix or DVD. We even own the entire series of The Golden Girls (duh), but we’ve usually watched it when it’s on one of the networks that syndicates it, an old habit that we can break now. Actually, we have no choice now. The subscription was canceled as of Tuesday, and the signal has turned to (a subtler) noise.

In recent years, I haven’t watched much TV on my own. When I travel for work, I rarely turn on the obligatory television in my hotel room. At home, I watch what Doug watches, and when he’s out of town, I might turn it on for background noise, but I usually haven’t bothered.

After 28 years with either cable or satellite TV, I no longer have that connection with the wider world. Continue reading

Straight Acting

I’m already tired of the self-congratulating heterosexuals involved with the film Milk. Last night I watched a promo on Logo. One of the actors seemed particularly reluctant to celebrate his accomplishment, admitting that he had to have a few drinks before performing a kiss with another guy.

Oh, please, mary. Queer actors have been convincingly acting out their straight characters’ romantic lives for a long damn time now. Here’s some free advice for him and his brethren: take some acting lessons.

I understand that for them kissing another guy might be a big deal, and some handle it better than others. Sean Penn was apparently so excited about his first kiss with another guy that he texted Madonna to brag about it. Challenging cultural norms is a big deal–yeah, I get that. And excited texting beats drunken dread. Continue reading

What the Story Needs

I saw the film Doubt and liked it. Some critics have complained that the filmmaker attempts to get away with something by not revealing the truth about whether or not wrongdoing occurred. They apparently miss the point and, more important, don’t understand what story is being told.

The characters know what they know, but there is no one to confirm for the viewer what “really” happened. The story is “about” the tension among the characters’ various versions of the story and the lack of a definitive answer. Everything learned about the characters and the situation is revealed through talk and action that takes place in the present. Whether the lack of omniscience in a religious setting is poignant or heavy-handed, it is, likely, intentional.

Viewers who believe it’s the writer’s job to play god probably won’t like this film. (Since I don’t, I did.) As a writer, I get peeved out when readers expect me to completely satisfy their curiosity. Writing effectively isn’t always about closure. It’s impossible to fill in every detail that every reader wants; it’s challenging enough to provide sufficient information. Continue reading

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