Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Seize life by the quote

Posted By on Wed, Apr 1, 2020 at 6:00 PM

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When I first stood on the periphery of what we could call my screenwriting career, some Hollywood wag asked me “What’s your quote?” He meant “what’s your rate, your fee, your market value?” But I thought he meant my favorite movie quote—like, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,” which I wish I’d said. Years later, I found a writerly quote that I love and HATE because ... it’s a meme.

With an image of a sunset … words hovering there, in all caps, over a shimmering sea like some Wayne White word painting. It reads: “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”

Who would say such soothing sophistry? Insert Internet wormhole here. The quote is most often attributed to George Eliot, of whom everything I know fits in two data points:

A) He was a she. Or, rather, she used a male nom de plume because women writers weren’t taken seriously in the 19th century.

B) She was not George Sand, who was also a 19th-century writer and used her pseudonym for the same reasons.

Also, names were just plain complicated for her, as she once wrote: “My name is not Marie-Aurore de Saxe, Marquise of Dudevant, as several of my biographers have asserted, but Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin.” And then she probably added, “Screw it, just call me ‘George.’”

So, George Eliot allegedly writes, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been,” and a century-and-a-half later, Rebecca Mead, in her New Yorker essay “Middlemarch and Me,” tries to find the origin of the quotation, which she first read on a refrigerator magnet. Then Mead observes, “the sentence didn’t sound to me like anything George Eliot would say” and some literary sleuthing ensues. Spoiler alert—it’s made up.

But it begs the question—what did you want to be? Did you want to be a writer too? I wanted to be many things. Too many things. But the unified field theory of my life has always included writing in the equation. And though writing can sometimes feel very far away, let me assure you, there’s always a way back. If you’re the writing type, this is what you do: Write a word. Then another. And another. And so forth.

At some point, maybe change your name to George. But do the work—it’s okay to start now—because, frankly, my dear, it’s never too late to be what you might have been.

Download Daedalus Howell’s books for free this month at DaedalusHowell.com.
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Wednesday, March 25, 2020

M-M-M-My Corona

Posted By on Wed, Mar 25, 2020 at 4:37 PM

BAT MAN Papa Bakes frontman Eric W. Baker sings ‘My Corona’ in bat drag. - YOUTUBE
  • YOUTUBE
  • BAT MAN Papa Bakes frontman Eric W. Baker sings ‘My Corona’ in bat drag.
It was inevitable that the Knack’s 1979 classic track, “My Sharona,” would catch corona and go viral as a song satire. Though pop-parody godfather Weird Al scrupulously avoided the notion (“Yeah, no, sorry. Not gonna do ‘My Corona,’” he tweeted when petitioned by fans to cover the song), others have risen (or sunk?) to the occasion.

Eric W. Baker of Papa Bakes currently leads the YouTube charts with his band’s take, which features the revised lyric, “Ooh my little deadly one, my deadly one, symptoms don’t show up for some time, Corona … M-M-M-My Corona!” It’s worth a spin, not least of which for the video’s classic ’80s white cyclorama set (which sounds much fancier when written than it actually is). Good or bad taste? Probably no more unpalatable than the Mexican lager the band sips throughout the vid. I’ll let you guess which one.

• • •

While we’re kicking around pandemic puns consider this: Though National Novel Writing Month (a.k.a NaNoWriMo) isn’t until November, it’s probably high time to dust of the manuscript moldering in your desk drawer and hunker down for CoroNaNoWriMo. Instead of taking a month to write 50,000 words, you can use your Corona-enforced downtime to write your own version of the Never Ending Story.

• • •

When solo, I’m the alpha male in the movie unspooling in my own mind. But amongst the urban canyons of our empty streets, I am now the Omega Man. In other words, I’m the last man on earth until I have to get six feet away from the other last men on earth in the grocery store.

During the fires last fall, I acquired a fashionably black N-95 mask that matches my sartorial uniform of dark blazers and boots. It pushes my look from “casual sophisticate” to “calculating psychopath” in about three seconds. Needless to say, I’m no longer the one stepping aside in the wine aisle. Thus far, I’ve only been bested for a bottle by a gent dressed as a Plague Doctor—beaky mask, black hat, cloak and all. Dude earned that $8 bottle of pinot so far as I’m concerned. Moreover, his creepy presence suggests it’s time to update our slogan— #SonomaStrong suited the esprit de corps of our community during the fires but this moment is entirely weirder—#SonomaStrange is more apt. Alas, someone is already squatting the domain name (I had to check).

Naturally, #SonomaStrange merch, like “My Corona,” is inevitable. Tag your #SonomaStrange pics on Instagram and I’ll compile a “Corona Casual” virtual fashion show at Bohemian.com. Remember, fellow dystopian fashionistas—you’re not alone. You’re … fabulous.

Interim Editor Daedalus Howell is quarantined online at DaedalusHowell.com.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Sci-Fi Takes Center Stage

'Galatea' launches at Spreckels

Posted By on Wed, Mar 11, 2020 at 7:29 PM

FINAL FRONTIER Androids take the stage in 'Galatea.' - RICK DECKARD
  • Rick Deckard
  • FINAL FRONTIER Androids take the stage in 'Galatea.'

To genre purists, the idea of androids navigating the footlights of a stageplay may lack the obvious Reese's factor ("two great tastes together at last").

There's precedent, however; 2020 marks the 100-year anniversary of the coinage of the word "robot," courtesy of Czech playwright Karel Capek and his play R.U.R.: Rossum's Universal Robots, published in 1920. Here, playwright David Templeton takes the baton and points it deep into outer space to explore the most interior of matters.

Many know of Templeton's contributions to these very pages the past quarter-century or of his various turns as a playwright in the last decade or so (Drumming with Anubis, Wretch Like Me), but now Templeton is boldly going where no Sonoma County theater has gone before in his play, Galatea.

It's 2167 and robot-specialist Dr. Margaret Mailer (Madeleine Ashe) conducts a series of clinical sessions with an android named 71 (Abbey Lee), the sole-surviving member of a "synthetic support crew" assigned to the colony-vessel Galatea. But that's not the weird part—the Galatea disappeared over 100 years ago along with its 2,000 human passengers. As 71's shrink-sessions progress, Dr. Mailer realizes she's hiding something—something potentially horrifying.

Much of Templeton's onstage writing has been autobiographical—heavy stuff like overcoming a teenage bout of Christian fundamentalism. And yet, the genre's trappings and tropes (robots; long, cryogenic naps) opened ways for Templeton to explore his own existential quandaries—as it has with many sci-fi writers.

"In some ways, it's one of the most personal plays I've ever written," says Templeton, who is most-likely human (though his dead-on impression of Donald Sutherland as a pod person from Invasion of the Body Snatchers does raise questions).

Another human aboard this theatrical vessel is director Marty Pistone, whose own science fiction bona fides include appearing on-screen as Controller #2 in Star Trek 4: The Journey Home and performing stunts in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.

"The questions and conundrums that 'Galatea' explores—questions about the meaning of humanity and its value on Earth—are questions I've been thinking about for much of my life," Templeton says.

Indeed, questions loom—namely, how did 71 wind up alone in deep space, and what exactly happened aboard the Galatea? But perhaps the deeper mystery Templeton and his characters hope to solve—and one to which this particular mix of artists, genre and medium are uniquely suited—is: what does it mean to be human?

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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Compare/Contrast

Same difference

Posted By on Wed, Feb 26, 2020 at 5:12 PM

MIRROR MIRROR Andy Warhol's 'Liz #6' and Dr. Frankenfurter&mdash;separated at birth? - COURTESY SFMOMA/20TH CENTURY FOX<
  • Courtesy SFMOMA/20th Century Fox<
  • MIRROR MIRROR Andy Warhol's 'Liz #6' and Dr. Frankenfurter—separated at birth?

On view on floor five as part of the "Pop, Minimal, and Figurative Art" exhibit at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is Andy Warhol's Liz #6, an iconic work that we've all seen.

But have you seen it side by side with Tim Curry's Dr. Frank N. Furter from The Rocky Horror Picture Show? See above—now you have. The resemblance is uncanny in that "separated at birth" kind of way. Surely, this sixth Liz Taylor was the inspiration for Curry's make-up, right? Happy to debate this with you at a drinking establishment of your choice—just say when, where and the name on your tab. I see you shiver with antici......pation.

• • •

Starting Monday, Petaluma will be the scene of a massive arboreal apocalypse as the city fells trees along Highway 101 between Lakeville Street (Highway 116) and Corona Road (a name that makes you want to wear a face mask). Unless you're a vampire, this shouldn't affect your commute—the tree slaying will close northbound lanes from 10pm to 6am and southbound lanes from 7pm to 4am—for the next seven weeks. Alas, it never occurred to the powers-that-be to instead keep the trees and rip out the highway, as an act of civic healing. This particular leg of 101 has artificially divided Petaluma and fomented an intense East-West rivalry that's led to calls to dam the Petaluma River and create Petaluma Bay to flood the side opposite their own.

Did English 101 teach us nothing? Being the "egg basket of the world" at the time F. Scott Fitzgerald was writing the Great Gatsby, surely Petaluma was the inspiration for East Egg and West Egg (aha!), the tony enclaves that indicated whether you come from old money or new money. I don't know where Petaluma's money is now, let alone its relative youth, but I do know that "mature trees" are showcased on every million-dollar-plus real estate listing (which is to say every listing at this point). Factor that into your nest egg, P-town.

• • •

Someone has vandalized undercover artist Banksy's latest mural in Bristol, England, leading others to ask "Wait, isn't Banksy's art itself technically vandalism?" Armed with spray paint and stencils, the much-lauded Banksy surreptitiously appropriates city walls as his canvases, which can become worth millions—that is, until another artist scrawls "BCC Wankers" across it in an apparent critique of the "Bristol City Council." Sure, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but value in the art world starts with the holder of the spray can. A decade ago Banksy created six pieces during a San Francisco "residency"—surely Sonoma, Napa and Marin are next.

Nominate local targets for Banksy-treatment on our Facebook page (facebook.com/NorthBayBohemian) and we'll pass them along (and, naturally, take a gallerist's commission).

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Cotati Goes Mardi Gras on Feb. 29

Posted By on Wed, Feb 26, 2020 at 4:49 PM

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The Cotati Crawl, through the small downtown’s array of venues and drinking establishments, is a long-running tradition in Sonoma County—especially for Sonoma State students. This weekend, Leap Day offers a chance for a special daylong festival, the Cotati Gras, co-produced by Body Language Productions, in which 30-plus bands, DJs and artists take over spaces like Spancky’s Bar, with participating eateries and special offerings like a silent disco. Join in the festivities on Saturday, Feb. 29, along Old Redwood Highway in downtown Cotati. 2pm to 2am. Free. facebook.com/bodylanguageprod.
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Barbara Baer Launches New Novel in Occidental on Mar. 1

Posted By on Wed, Feb 26, 2020 at 4:45 PM

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Two early-20th century immigrant families, one a group of western pioneers and one a New York–socialite crowd, find their lives suddenly thrown together in Barbara Baer’s new novel, The Ice Palace Waltz. Stanford-educated Baer is the author of three previous novels, and The Ice Palace Waltz is a well-researched and timely tapestry that touches on mining towns and Manhattan speculators. Baer reads from the novel at a book launch event on Sunday, March 1, at Occidental Center for the Arts, 3850 Doris Murphy Court, Occidental. 2pm. Free admission. 707.874.9392.
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Sonoma State Hosts Social Justice Week Mar. 2–7

Posted By on Wed, Feb 26, 2020 at 4:42 PM

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Sonoma State University’s Social Justice Week takes the time to engage SSU students and the public in lectures, films, presentations and activities. The week opens on March 2 with a talk and screening featuring Michael Nagler of Metta Center for Nonviolence, a performance by Ballet Folklorico Netzahualcoyotl and more. March 3 includes talks on veterans opposed to war and low-wage workers rising up, and March 4 continues with topics like public banking and killer drones. March 2–7, at Sonoma State University, 1801 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park. Livestream available. Full schedule is at ssusocialjusticeweek.wordpress.com.
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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

#DeleteFacebook

Anti-social media

Posted By on Wed, Feb 19, 2020 at 5:15 PM

GO ZUCK YOURSELF I'm leaving you, Facebook. - ANNIE SPRATT
  • Annie Spratt
  • GO ZUCK YOURSELF I'm leaving you, Facebook.

I've been recovering from a recent bout of digital marketing. I don't want to go into where or how I got it, just that it's left me itchy in that way that creative types get because we needed the money. This sounds more venereal than intended, but then, courting a certain virality was part of the gig.

The scratch for this itch? Maybe some old school Internetting. Hmm. Remember when blogs were a thing? Did it. Email newsletters? Clicked "here" to unsubscribe. I've been off and on the podcast ride enough to admit it the siren song was really just loving the sound of my own voice all along.

I'm also hastening an end to my tenuous relationship with social media. I ceded my Twitter account to Russian robots months ago and now I'm contemplating further social media decouplings. TikTok? Don't get it, don't care. Instagram? I can barely live my own life let alone curate it to look better than yours

I long ago converted my Facebook profile into a "page," which is the social media equivalent of Kal-El giving up his superpowers in Superman II — sure, you can become mortal but then you can't really do anything and you can't get your powers back unless you find that magic glow stick (and that, my friends, was last seen at a SOMA warehouse in the 90s).

Thereafter, Facebook has merely served me as a "distribution vector," as "infrequent electronic letter"-writer and thinker Craig Mod aptly describes his similar use of social media. Perhaps I'll hire a Russian bot to post for me rather than going all-in on #deletefacebook, which requires an AI to figure out how to do it anyway.

This is the general thinking: If I'm going to scream into a hole on the Internet, I should own it and my personal data with it. That way, I can more effectively market to myself and turn a vicious circle of posting to ZERO readers into a virtuous cycle of affirming the work of Number Fucking ONE.

Also — I'm just gonna say no to SEO. Now Google can't find me and stalk me with ads for every search term I've ever entered. I recently dropped the E when searching for Moleskine notebooks and have been pursued by blister protection products since.

And no more digital sharecropping for the likes of @Jack and Zuck and probably Putin. I could never muster the algorithmic mojo to viably surface on their platforms anyway. In this infowar, I'm not interested in being a hostage. So, I'm going to tend my own online Victory Garden and make it fertile ground — even if that means it's only full of my own manure.

Daedalus Howell lives at daedalushowell.com.

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Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Cloverdale Citrus Fair Heats Up Northern Sonoma County Feb. 14-17

Posted By on Wed, Feb 12, 2020 at 3:42 PM

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It’s not even Spring in Sonoma County, yet the Cloverdale Citrus Fair already has its sights set on summer. This year’s fair theme, “California Dreamin’,” features a veritable boardwalk of entertainment and exhibits. Highlights of the fair include the annual Citrus Fair Queen competitive pageant on Feb. 14, the Citrus Fair Parade that travels through town on Feb. 15 and the Baby Derby (crawlers only) on Feb. 17. The Fair runs Friday through Monday, Feb. 14–17, at the Citrus Fairgrounds, 1 Citrus Fair Dr., Cloverdale. $5–$10 and up. Cloverdalecitrusfair.org.
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Garagiste Wine Fest Exposes Micro-Wineries in Sonoma on Feb. 15

Posted By on Wed, Feb 12, 2020 at 3:39 PM

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Now in its third year, the Garagiste Wine Festival is the North Bay’s best chance to try the region’s small-scale wines from hard-to-find winemakers who often do not have their own tasting rooms. The afternoon tasting also includes artisan food vendors pairing bites with the more than 150 wines on hand, and the VIP all-access experience lets you get in the door before anyone else on Saturday, Feb. 15, at Sonoma Veterans Memorial Hall, 126 First St. W, Sonoma. VIP doors open at noon; grand tasting begins at 2pm. $65 and up. Garagistefestival.com.
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