Tag Archives | Writing

Kurt Vonnegut on the shape of stories

The lecture goes on, but unfortunately the video doesn’t; this is too bad, because then Vonnegut describes Kafka’s The Metamorphosis:

Kurt Vonnegut's sketch of Kafka's The Metamorphosis

Poor old Gregor Samsa. Not only does he start really low on the GI-axis (good fortune, ill fortune), he turns into a cockroach and experiences infinite ill-fortune.

The full text of Vonnegut’s lecture can be found at Lapham’s Quarterly, where he goes on to explain why Hamlet is still regarded as one of the world’s great bits of literature.

Alltop prefers that Scottish play.

Selected Media Fads Through the Ages

Von Willendorf venus statue, circa 24,000 bce

24,000-22,000 BC: chunky fertility goddess statues (pictured at right: notice the prominent and large brains.)

10,000 BC: cave painting

4,000 BC: ziggurat construction

3,000-1,250 BC: pyramid raising (later revived by Mesoamericans and I.M. Pei)

1480-1700: Witch burning

1500s: homoerotic sonnet writing

1600s: pirate singing

1700s: pamphleteering

1760-1762: spreading syphilis

1790s: opera

1800s: novel-writing

1900-1914: being optimistic about the future

1919-1922: cutting up pieces of paper and pulling them out of a hat, also, painting

1925: jazz music

1927: soap-based radio

1933: burning books (mostly in Germany)

1951: find-the-commie (kind of like peek-a-boo, but with Senators)

1964: screaming (usually Beatle-related)

1966: TV

1976: disco

1977: DIY pet rocks

1982-1988: taking odds on Reagan-related nuclear holocaust

1987-1997: making answering machine messages (see below)

1998: web sites about your cat

1999: cappuccino drinking (related to dot-com bubble)

2000: looking forward to the future (this didn’t last as long as the previous fad in this genre)

2003: Friendster

2004-2005: blogging

2006: MySpace

2007: Facebook

April 2008: Twitter

2009 (Jan.-Aug): talking/writing/broadcasting about Twitter in MSM.

2009, Sep. 15: Blogging (again, briefly, but only about Dan Brown’s latest “masterstroke of storytelling”

2010 (Jan.-Feb.):getting really excited about the release of the iPad.

2010 (Mar.): trying to remember what all the fuss about the iPad was all about.

2010: “winning

2011: pretending the British Royal family is important

2012: posting pictures of every frickin’ meal on Instagram

2013: twerking

2014: “binge-watching” TV

2015: laughing about Donald Trump’s presidential run

Jan-May, 2016: crying about Donald Trump’s presidential run

Some old-fashioned media here — satirical novels and flash fiction to keep you from the fads!

And yes, Answering machine messages were the most important creative outlet of the nineties!


Video here if it doesn’t beep.

Alltop and enjoys their Bebo. From my collection, Pirate Therapy and Other Cures. Originally published in 2010, and updated every once in a while.


Robot and sky

Toto the Bio-Sphere Demolition-Bot wondered what it was all about. Did life really mean anything? There had to be more to existence then the senseless destruction of countless inhabited worlds.

Maybe it was time for Toto to settle down. Find a nice Species Eradication-Borg and construct a family of Cybertronic Death-Bots equipped with plasma field generators.

Or maybe he should write a novel.

Maybe you should READ a novel? Got a few from which to choose!

Alltop is also feeling a little blue. Originally published December, 2008.