Kenneth Darter

Writing, Music, and Life

Archive for the category “Random Thoughts”

The Dawn Treader

My wife and I finally got to see the Dawn Treader in the movie theater.  I was a little nervous about how the movie producers were going to handle this book; if I had to pick one book that is my favorite in the Narnia series (and that’s a very hard thing to do for me) then it’s the wonderful Voyage of the “Dawn Treader”.

For those of you who don’t know me, I literally cut my teeth on the Narnia books and I can’t count how many times I’ve read them (I wish I had read the Bible as much as I read Lewis’ books).

All that being said, I thoroughly enjoyed the movie.  Many critics have pointed out the shortcomings, but overall the movie succeeds (and my wife didn’t mind watching it at all because Ben Barnes – Prince Caspian is in it again).  While I’m a purist of the books and I would have enjoyed it very much if they had followed the book literally, I did not mind the changes and I can see that some of the changes made for a better movie.  A few praises and quibbles:

  • The world of Narnia is wonderfully created on the screen.  The film pushes you into the fantasy world and adventure and never lets you go until the ending.
  • The dufflepuds got the short shrift.  Read the book to get the true flavor of these crazy fellows.
  • The actor playing Eustace was superb and the animators creating the dragon were almost as good.
  • Reepicheep was everything he should have been, I just missed seeing him and Lucy playing chess.
  • Where were the mermaids?
  • Why didn’t they follow Caspian’s storyline in Narnia and show him hooking up with the star?

I hope that the filmmakers continue with the excellent work they are doing and look forward to the next installment featuring Eustace.  My wife, however, was disappointed to find out that in the next book, Caspian is a very old man!

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Merry Christmas and a Random Blog Post

Please allow me to wish you a very merry Christmas.  I hope that your holiday season is sick-free as me and my house have thoughtfully soaked up all the germs floating around in Georgia.  Everyone of us is sick or has been sick or is working on their third or fourth round of being sick.

But what’s a holiday without an antibiotic cocktail right?

I had planned on a nice Christmas/New Year themed blog post but since I’m running a fever today, I’m just going to give you some random tidbits as me and mine prepare for 2011.  Hopefully, this won’t be quite as random and pointless as the last time I tried this:  The Meaning of Life.

Honestly, I tried putting off writing this post until I felt better but I ran out of things I could do while sitting in my chair today.  So here are my random thoughts for finishing up 2010 and opening up 2011:

  • Christmas time is wonderful, even when you’re sick.  I especially enjoyed my children watching the current crop of Christmas specials on TV and trying to tell Dora and the Wonder Pets that the true meaning of Christmas is Jesus Christ and not just being on Santa’s nice list.

Dora's meaning of Christmas - Reform Swiper

My kid's meaning of Christmas - Happy Birthday Jesus!

 

  • We let the kids pick out toys to give to Toys for Tots, but my youngest still thinks that it’s better to get presents than to give presents.
  • My wife tried to tell the kids that there might be something interesting under the tree after we wrapped their presents, but even though their presents were pulled out front, they still didn’t notice them and couldn’t figure out what she was talking about.  I don’t understand this because I was always a peeker when I was a kid.  To this day, my wife is astounded by my ability to immediately notice when something new appears under the tree.  To me the anticipation and guessing is the best part of gift giving and receiving.  I always try to give something that won’t be expected.
  • I just realized why my laptop wasn’t charging, the plug into the adapter had pulled out.  This may not concern you but it’s been bugging me for the past hour.

I’m working on a lot of resolutions for next year, but I’m fully aware that my track record for keeping resolutions is not good.  So why should I post them here  just to come back later and eat crow at the end of 2011?  Instead, let me tell you what’s not on my list of resolutions!

  • I have not resolved to post regularly here on this website; if it becomes a chore instead of fun, I will quit doing it altogether.
  • I have not resolved to change they way I think; I will go on being who I am, even more so if possible.
  • I have not resolved to work harder, I may work smarter and work more but I REFUSE to work any harder than I already do.
  • I have not resolved to keep an immaculate house – I like my house clean but lived in with a touch of chaos.
  • I have not resolved to quit drinking sweet tea.  I think I will drink it until the day I die,  I may cut out a lot of other foods or drinks, but never sweet tea.
  • Lastly, I have not resolved to quit my resolutions.  I have also not resolved to not quit my resolutions.  I may quit or I may not, either way – HAPPY NEW YEAR! and here’s to a 2011 that will be productive and unpredictable in every way.

Christmas Guilty Pleasures

For many years (more than I care to think of), I’ve enjoyed Michael W. Smith’s Christmas album during the holiday season.  I’m  surprised my CD hasn’t just completely worn out.  I generally enjoy this CD in the privacy of my car when I’m driving alone or on my ear buds when I get a chance.  I like to listen to it in my car though because in many ways the music is just bigger than ear buds.

Before I got married, I listened to it all the time during the holidays, preferably as loud as possible so that I could sign along.  I did the same after I got married, and after a few years my wife was quite sick of hearing it (and sick of hearing me attempt to sing it).  It’s not that she didn’t appreciate the music, she just didn’t enjoy hearing it over and over and over like I do (few people would).  So Micheal W. Smith’s masterpiece became my guilty little Christmas pleasure.

This year, I purchased a new Christmas album – Bob Dylan’s Christmas in the Heart.  Now, I never expected my wife to enjoy this CD; Dylan’s voice is an acquired taste after all.  A casual listener of the songs on this album might think that the troubadour is being ironic.  I believe quite the opposite though – he is paying homage to the holiday and the music in the best way that he knows and to my ears it comes off as a sincere tribute to the true meaning of Christmas and the traditions around it (to some people though, it comes across as the Grinch singing Christmas songs).

So one day last week when my 3-year old daughter was too sick to go to school, I told her we were going to listen to Christmas music; she was very excited about this, she loves music.  I thought surely a 3 year old would appreciate Dylan’s work (after all she enjoys hearing me try to sing at bedtime, how could she not like the bard?)  But no, one song in, she declared she didn’t want to listen anymore.  I guess everyone has to come to Dylan’s music in their own time.  Dylan’s Christmas album will be added to my Christmas Guilty Pleasure playlist while my daughter enjoys Burl Ives singing Rudolph over and over and over.

The first song on Dylan’s album is “Here Comes Santa Claus”.  As I listened to it (on a day when no one else was in the house), I heard two verses that I don’t remember hearing before (and you probably won’t hear them on the latest pop/rock/r&b/rap offering of butchered Christmas songs that show up in the book store every year):

Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus
Right down Santa Claus lane
He doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor
He loves you just the same
Santa Claus knows we’re all God’s children
That makes everything right
So fill your hearts with Christmas cheer
Cause  Santa Claus comes tonight

Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus
Right down Santa Claus lane
He’ll come around when the chimes ring out
That it’s Christmas morn again
Peace on earth will come to all
If we just follow the light
So let’s give thanks to the Lord above
That  Santa Claus comes tonight

Absence, Reflections, and Savannah

You may have noticed that I haven’t posted very much in the past month (or at least the two people who read this blog might have noticed, the rest of you aren’t reading this anyhow).

This absence has been partially intentional (but mostly laziness).  This blog is intended to be about the music and stories that I work on (with the occasional randomness thrown in for fun).  Since I haven’t been working too much on anything in the past few months I haven’t felt a need to post.

I’m trying to get back to writing and that includes posting every week (or every other week) on this blog.  Given the last few months of my life though, I think a few moments of reflection are necessary before I start moving forward again.  So here are some highlights in no particular order:

  • I quit my job – had no idea where I was going next but had to have something different that would let me be home with my kids.
  • I found a job – that let me be home with my kids.
  • I quit working on one novel – I had written a first draft of the first half but wasn’t sure where to go from there.  When I tried to re-read what I had written to see where I wanted to go, I kept falling asleep.
  • Both kids have been sick on and off for almost a month, so it’s a darn good thing I’m working at home now.
  • I sold a bunch of music equipment on ebay.
  • I bought a bunch of music equipment on ebay.
  • I missed a month of church because the kids were sick.  (Apparently, one of the sermons I missed was on not quiting, maybe I should download and listen to that one)
  • I went to Savannah for a long weekend with no kids.
  • In Savannah, I started jotting down notes for a new novel (I’m calling it the 2011 novel because I’m praying that 2011 will be the year I finally finish one).
  • I’ve been using these wonderful steps to flesh out my idea for a novel (but is it a novel idea?) – http://darksculptures.wordpress.com/10-step-novel-plan/

Once the kids get over being sick, then I’m going to sit down and do some planning for next year to see what I want to get accomplished (which will be way too much) and how I will get there without quiting in the middle!  I will leave you with some pictures from Savannah – these are just some of the images that are helping inspire and inform the novel I’m planning.  (I’m no photographer, but I thought some of these were pretty good considering I was only using my phone).

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The Meaning of Life

In chaos theory, there are systems where all variables are fully determined and yet the outcome is completely random.  This explains why we can only predict the weather about one week ahead of time.  I think it also explains a lot of things about my life and I know for certain that it explains a lot about some of the people who live in my house (not naming any names).


Read more…

A Father’s Love

If you know me, you know I love being a Father.  There’s nothing about it that’s not interesting – emotionally, intellectually, physically, there’s always something new.  There are days when it’s easy and days when it’s not, and I have trouble remembering what I did with my time before I was a Father.

When my children were babies, it was my job to make sure they didn’t hurt themselves.  If they got too close to fire it was up to me to protect them.  As they grew, it was my job to teach them what would hurt them so they would stay safe without my interference.

Read more…

DragonCon (Part 2)

Despite the troubles getting into DragonCon this year, I was able to catch several music groups playing there this year.  I particularly enjoyed Emerald Rose, a celtic folk rock band from Georgia.  They play a variety of music, including traditional celtic tunes and original songs (some of them in the so-called filk tradition, and if you don’t know what that is, you’ll have to look it up because it’s new to me too).

Read more…

DragonCon (part 1)

This year, I made the long trek from the suburbs of Atlanta to downtown Atlanta to go to DragonCon.  This is not much of a trek for me since I do it 4-5 times a week anyway, but I wanted to put the word trek into this post as much as possible.

I’ve wanted to go for a while and was finally able to talk myself (and my wife) into spending the money and giving up most of a holiday weekend because of the Writer’s Workshop that A.C. Crispin holds there every year. Read more…

Painting

This is a painting of our house by my son who’s 5. I was pretty impressed with it because it really does look just like our house. He hasn’t worked out how to draw perspective and dimensions yet but I think it’s pretty good (of course, I’m exceedingly biased, he’s my son after all).  I’m also interested in anything he draws because he has declared for some time now that he wants to be a painter when he grows up.

My wife and I asked him to tell us about the picture.
My son: “This is our house and these are the clouds and the sun. And this is the sock.” (see circle #1 below).
Me: “Why is there a sock in the air.”
My son (looking at me like I’m a total dunce): “Because the wind blew it up there.”
Me: “Ah, of course. I knew that.”
My son: “And this is the grass.  Daddy hasn’t mowed all of the grass so it’s very tall right here.” (see circle #2 below)
Me: “Ummm.”
My Son: “And these are extra stairs that are under the other stairs.  You can use them when its raining to not get wet.  They also go to the secret door that goes underground.”  (see circle #3 below)
Me: “Ummm.”

Now I took art appreciation in college so I know that some famous painters did hide things and put messages into their paintings (I also read The DaVinci Code but haven’t been able to bring myself to watch the movie – it’s the haircut, I just don’t know if I want to look at that for two hours).

So I’m wondering, is my son hiding messages in his pictures?  Is he trying to tell me to cut the grass or is he directing us to think about the laziness of society.  Maybe the sock is a commentary on global warming?  I didn’t know what to make of the extra stairs and the underground room.

But then later I asked him if he still wanted to be a painter when he grew up.  “No,” he said, “I’m going to be a spy.”

Now the secret underground room makes a lot more sense!

Shot Down

PLEASE NOTE: This blog includes excessive use of Bad Sarcasm and is thus rated BS.

It happens to all writers, but being shot down by magazine editors hurts.  Especially when it happens so quickly.  Last weekend, I sent out two stories and expected to take a metaphorical breath and work on something else for a few weeks whilst happily daydreaming about getting acceptance emails like “Love the story, don’t change a thing and send me ten more just like it; I’ll publish them sight unseen, in fact, I’ll just turn over the whole magazine to your writing . . . ”

Instead, I get an email on Monday  Read more…

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