The Inspiration for Pizza by Candlelight – Sightseeing “Unending Wonders”


Inspiration for Pizza by Candlelight 1 – Sightseeing “Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World or In Search of the Great Penguin” – Google Maps Redux


Inspiration for Pizza by Candlelight 2 – Sightseeing “Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World or In Search of the Great Penguin” – Google Maps Redux

Is it bad form and considered demythologizing fiction for a writer to point to inspirations even when they are only fragmentary, which most inspirations are?

The above two images document the inspirations for Pizza by Candlelight, the restaurant at which working homeless Chance Hope is employed at the beginning of Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World. How many years ago did I come up with the kernel of the idea for this working homeless woman, and, sadly, she is no less relevant today. Even more so. Which I’d anticipated she might be and hoped that she wouldn’t. But people weren’t talking much about the working homeless when I first conceived of Chance in her working homeless predicament, she was still past the fringe edge of public consciousness. I bunked with her in her home of a car using all that I knew about living on the road in music as resource, plus my imagination for having no home, having been in a situation like that when I was very young where had nothing to call my own but the clothes on my back. She had to be resourceful and adaptable, but strength may only be as fragile as a coffee cup on which one pins their idea of “home”. As long as I have this familiar friend of a coffee cup, I have “home”.

And then she loses everything in an instant.

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The Depression Cathedral of Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam - Google Maps Redux
Hoover Dam – Google Maps Redux
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I realize that though I wrote about Hoover Dam in Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World, the event was streamlined, couched in comedy taking advantage of Hope and Chance wrangling life on The Road. Your experience probably won’t be like mine because we all parse things a bit differently and circumstance is uneven, but I’d like to try to impart a little of what my virgin experience of Hoover Dam was like.

One grows up hearing about the Hoover Dam, a little photo blip in the history books at school. One grows up hearing about Hoover Dam as a monumental technological achievement that grew out of the Depression. Accompanying stock photos never quite express the size of it, but even if they did they are so bled dry and sterile that, years later, if one is traveling toward the dam one expects that same school page experience with the black and white text surrounding. Flat. No peril. No magic. No taste of the awe that is supposed to be inspired by one of the so-called wonders of the world. With a photo of a daredevil artist balancing on one hand on a teeter-totter chair propped on one leg on a fifty story high girder, their life an unexpected hiccup of indiscriminate wind away from a death tumble into the abyss of the city streets far below, one’s balance falters and woozily swims with the knowledge of how thin is the thread that holds us to the here and now solid ground. Out of balance, the watcher falls into the pit and is gone, even as the daredevil artist, in the next never seen photo, ably cheats death and steps aside. But photos of the Hoover Dam, despite all the power generated by it, are about as thrilling as white, orthopedic shoes.

Hoover Dam - Google Maps Redux
Hoover Dam – Google Maps Redux
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Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World (or) In Search of the Great Penguin

In those days, there was a penguin in the desert…

To read a question and answer FAQ on the book and learn a lot more on it (and see videos), visit the Unending Wonders page. There are excerpts there as well. Click here to purchase.

UNENDING WONDERS OF A SUBATOMIC WORLD is an angst-ridden, slap-happy, run if you can’t leave ’em laughing inquiry on the enigmas of mad coincidence and improbable meanings that spin off the Great Wheel as it bumps along toward whatever end has captured its fancy. And while along for the ride, let’s at least have what fun we can before one is rolled over and under, though how and when that may happen is relatively illusory as there is no up or down absolutely.

Via outrageously hilarious characters and situations, “Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World or In Search of the Great Penguin” takes the reader on a journey into a magical and sometimes alarming level of reality where all is truly connected and no one, nothing, is inconsequential, not even the most seeming minor character. Historical exposition, social commentary, and psychological and spiritual reflection enrich and illuminate the free flowing complexity of the basic plot line which includes the search for the great penguin, a struggling touring band, and a woman fleeing her impending wedding with all the wedding gifts. “Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World or In Search of the Great Penguin” is not a novel to skim lightly. It is an experience that may change the way you view the universe.[clear]

What’s in a name

Funny, fun coincidence. What I’ve been working on, a character’s name is Virginia. I’d not expected her to be a significant character but she grew into one.

However, “Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World” also has a Virginia which is a prime character. She’s a rather abrasive character and so is this Virginia in this other work. I had carried over the name Virginia, knowing this one would be not very pleasant, just thinking it would be a fun thing to do, but she was supposed to be fleeting and minor, I’d not expected her to end up occupying so much acreage.

Tonight, I decided it would be best to change this character’s name.

I went through my document and did an individual search and replace rather than a global just to see how the new name played, which took a while. And then I had to change the name of another character as hers was an intentional variation on Virginia.

The second I was done and sat back to rather admire the new name, liking it a good bit, the computer beeped at me, letting me know new mail had arrived. I opened my email client and there was one new message from AlterNet. The email’s headline read “Virginity Movement on the Defensive, Scrambling to Rebrand.”

The small ways in which art imitates life – Sightseeing “Unending Wonders”

Fireworks Emporium, Tennessee
Fireworks Emporium, Tennessee

Fireworks Emporium, Tennessee - Google Maps Redux
Fireworks Emporium Revisited, Tennessee – Google Maps Redux

The thrill and explosive, thunderous pizazz of colorful fireworks, which we Americans so closely associate with the clarion call of freedom and the 4th of July, but instead of a celebration of peace were probably more intended to recall and celebrate the “rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air” of war. The first fireworks display I remember as a child was a 4th of July celebration in Seattle, the lights mirrored by the water beside which the show took place. My family considered fireworks to be dangerous and best overseen by professionals, perhaps partly due a great-grandfather of mine having lost an eye as a child to a fireworks accident (I never heard the whole story, only that it had happened and that he would baffle, amuse and frighten children by taking out his glass eye, this man who didn’t sound very funny but instead was a rather severe seeming patriarch). We only ever tried out sparklers a couple of times and I disliked them. The little beauty and excitement they provided wasn’t enough to make up for the smell and the undependable froth of sparks biting my hand. As soon as a sparkler was placed in my fingers I wanted to get rid of it. When I later met people for whom these state-line fireworks emporiums existed, who would stuff bags of them into their cars and carry them back to their homes, where they were illegal, I didn’t get it. To me, they were just an accident waiting to happen. What was the great thrill in the boom and the bang?

That eye of my great-grandfather, the glass one he would scoop out and with which he would terrorize children, I used to wonder what happened to it. Was he buried with that eye in its partner socket? Did someone in the family keep it as a reminder, and if so then to whom did it now belong? What color was its iris, blue or brown or hazel?

It seemed to me, writing Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World, that the novelty of a personal fireworks display was the kind of foundling, initiatory adventure Faith and Chance must have, celebrating their new freedom, escaping their lives and Georgia. I based the emporium on this one. Where nothing happened when Marty and I stopped at it once for gas. We had no adventure. But we stopped there because I knew that, eventually, Faith and Chance, hunting the Great Penguin, would stop there as well. But just because they would set off fireworks didn’t mean that I had to do so. My great-grandfather had lost his stereo vision because of fireworks, and that seemed like the kind of genetic history lesson that one minds. A kind of oracle. “Descendants. Do not tempt fate by doing as I did.” And I’m not into risking digits either.

Risk. I felt there was an element of risk basing a story around two young women running off to look for something as preposterous as a Great Penguin. Or at least that seeming the stapled on, purported goal of one of them. I didn’t worry about the scheme of the wanderers and their road trip being too hackneyed. I knew it wasn’t. That my story and the writing of it was original. But I was concerned that in a first blush brief scenario of a few sentences, it might appear hackneyed. “Two women undertake a road trip…”

“Oh, a road trip.”

“Yes, a road trip.”

It don’t worry me

Lance Mannion last week compared Kelly’s Heroes and MASH in a post at American Street, Kelly’s Heroes are my Heroes. Which also got some commentary here.

I ended up bringing up Nashville and thus got a pointer over to an Altman Blogfest that was occurring this past weekend. I didn’t participate as it’s difficult for me to break Altman down into nuggets, though the bits and pieces are what Altman excels at spying and draping threads between. If Nashville was geomtry only, all its threads and hubs would look like a Red Skelton stage after he was done with a wallpapering skit…

Continue reading It don’t worry me