The Santa Barbara Independent has a wonderful section that allows people to write memorials. I always find the writing to be heartfelt and original. This is my effort for my mother. There is more about her on the WordPress site I put up for her including an oral history.
Reflections on 1964 Democratic Convention
The PBS Newshour interview with me on the my memories of the signing of the Voting Rights Act led to another interview with the local Santa Barbara paper, the Independent by the august Barney Brantingham.
A few weeks ago I was listening to the Newshour on PBS and heard a call for remembrances of the Voting Rights Act. I called up and left a short recorded remembrance of being a page in the U.S. House of Representatives when the Voting Rights Act was signed in 1965 and of segregated life in Northern Virginia. I didn’t expect to hear back and was surprised when they wanted to use my piece, which appeared on February 26, 2013. I suppose if I’d thought about it and planned it, and written something down, it might not have turned out so well.
Here’s the interview.
Death by Water
By Martha Sadler
Novel 12 Tells of the Coming Floods
Thursday, December 20, 2012
If you’ve wondered in what manner the world is going to end on December 21, 2012, author Jeff Oshins has an answer for you: flooding. In his novel 12: A Novel About the End of the Mayan Calendar, Oshins describes the prophesied time when the celestial and temporal realms touch, allowing the ancient gods to enter the physical plane where they go to war over who will dominate the next age of Earth. The fire gods have been ruling the roost recently, but the water gods think it is time for a change.
The reader wants to root for the water gods — partly because they represent the flowing ways of indigenous culture before the fiery Europeans came along, bringing guns and the industrial revolution. The other reason we like them is the novel’s protagonist, the frog-god Tatya Masi, whose birth heralds the coming of the age of water.
Tatya Masi is a very reluctant — whiny and cowardly, in fact — messiah in the form of a teenaged amphibian with bad hair.
His superpower is empathy, which allows him to assume virtually any form. On the other hand, our hero’s prescribed role is to perform the deed that will usher in the unceasing rains that will flood the age of man into oblivion. (Hey, wait a minute, that’s us!) The only survivors will be the La’ku, a small Latin American Indian tribe whose mythologies and calendar closely parallel those of the better-known Mayas.
It gets complicated. No one is wholly good or bad. Not only do loving friends and family members turn out to be foes in the spiritual realm — and vice versa — but even gods on the same side have different agendas. For example, the beautiful and manipulative fire spirit Quetzal (currently forced to operate in the body of a 9-year-old boy who happened to get lost in the damp cave where Quetzal has been imprisoned by a water god’s curse for what seems like forever) cannot be freed except by the very deed that will bring on the age of water. But Quetzal’s natural allies, the other fire spirits, and their vicious minions are trying to kill our hero before that happens, to prevent the deluge.
The novel 12 is filled with magic, fantastic visions, invented words, chase scenes through mountain lakes in the Sierras and school campuses in the American Midwest, and even music: A CD by Oshin’s band Apokaful, which is also the name of the band playing at a nightclub in the novel, can be ordered separately. (Apokaful is an adjective describing someone who is preoccupied with thoughts of the end of the world.)
In case you’re thinking it’s too late for this book, because doom is already upon us, the end of the world in Oshins’s rich fantasy is not a sudden and definitive cataclysm. In fact, the sequel to 12, titled And We Shall Perish, is already available.
Death by Water The Santa Barbara Independent http://www.independent.com/news/2012/dec/20/death-water/
Confessions of an Unbeliever
What are the arguments for the destruction of mankind? Why will it happen quickly? And why is there so much sympathy for the idea that we somehow deserve this apocalyptic fate?
As a member of a band called Apokaful and the author of a series of novels based on the notion that the world (modern civilization) will end in a great flood, I often find myself in a conversation where I make the argument for an apocalyptic end to mankind.
Those who believe in the words of the Old Testament say that God promised He would never again destroy the Earth with a flood. To this I respond, maybe Noah got it wrong. What God was saying was He would not destroy the world. He didn’t mean that He might not again go after our modern Sodom and Gomorrah where a species goes extinct every 20 minutes due mostly to the impact of industrial civilization (see Slow-motion v. rapid apocalypse below).
It is not only the bible that mentions a great flood. Myths and folklore around the globe and throughout history contain accounts of apocalyptic floods. Just because we are all interconnected into a global civilization like never before does not mean a flood could not wash away the whole deal. Look what happens when it rains for a couple of days or a hurricane hits. What would happen in there was an unending string of hurricanes and nonstop rain? But you say that is scientifically impossible. That is where the modern mind no longer has room for the gods and spirits who previous cultures knew so well. That is the arrogance that says we are our own gods.
In the 12 series, it is not biblical figures who are messing with the weather. The battle for the Sixth and Final World is between the nine gods mentioned in the inscription on Monument 6 of the Mayan Site of Totuguero.
Party-At-Ground-Zero: If you add up the total number of human beings who have ever lived that is approximately the size of the human population alive today. Say that reincarnation is real. That means that all the souls who have ever lived in the history of the world are on the planet right now. It’s as if we’ve all come back for one more sip of Nature’s nectar. And when Nature has had enough of our voracious appetite for her bounty she’ll say, “That’s enough of that, leave some for the rest of my creations. Bye-bye humans.”
Slow-motion v. rapid apocalypse: Who can argue that the long-term future of the human race is dicey given the off-the-charts increase in global warming, the rapidly melting ice caps, and the mass chaos that will prevail when large parts of the planet no longer sustain agriculture or are underwater. This is a slow-motion apocalypse as opposed to my fictional rapid extinction.
We deserve it: One in seven (14%) of global citizens believe the end of the world is coming in their lifetimes. If you include the End Time believers that is a healthy portion of mankind thinking it’s coming. But what about the rest of us? Do you deny that there is a prevailing sense that while we know how to live in a harmonious sustainable manner with nature, we don’t know how to halt our cultural suicide? While we know we have to give up our carbon-burning orgy we can’t stop ourselves from burning the rainforests and every hydrocarbon we can suck from the earth.
Those who have full awareness and belief in the dangers of global warming still drive their cars and take their airplane flights to conferences on global warming, build more highways and large single-family houses on agricultural land. These are the ones who look at their children and grandchildren and shudder to think of the world in which they will live. They know their arguments for saving the environment are no match to the need for short-term job maintenance and the power of corporations. Is it no wonder that so many think that somehow we deserve what we’re going to get and that only an apocalyptic event can slow or cure the carbon burning cancer that is modern civilization?
I predict that among the first tenets of enlightenment to fade will be the sanctity of human life and one-world consciousness. If there are too many of us, who needs more? There is only so much that we can be expected to do when famine and destruction ravish countries beyond our borders. And there are only so many who can live in the shrinking habitable portions of the globe.
Now, for my confession – I don’t believe that mankind will perish.
While it sounds as if I hear the four horsemen of the apocalypse approaching on their terrible steeds, and I believe future generations will curse us for our stupidity and lassitude, some form of civilization will survive. I only hope as future generations marvel at coral reefs in aquariums and alpine forests in botanical gardens, they will imagine what it must have been like to live in Eden and find a way to forgive us.
These are some arguments for the apocalypse. I would love to hear — and more to believe — in a science fiction world where genetically-engineered super trees and algae absorb carbon dioxide and we climate engineer our way out of this fix.
Has anyone seen a book trailer , much less bought a book because of a trailer?
I’ve made a bit of a study of them (just query book trailer in YouTube). They range from movie-worthy acting and special effects (see Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters) to, well, mine concocted on my Macbook Pro with I-movie (at least I composed and played the music, oh well…)
I recently joined the affiliated writers group on Linkedin and jumped right into a discussion about book trailers. I was assured that it was worth the price of having a professional ($3,000 or so) make your book trailer. The professional ones sure looked like movie trailers because some of them were.
My thought is that a book is a more personal and individual experience than a movie. When you hear an author interviewed about her book you might get a reading of a passage but most of the interview is about the author and ideas behind the book. You would never see an interview with the poor all-but-forgotten writers of a movie in a movie trailer. No, they are different beasts.
And here lies part of the problem…books trying to be movies.
I doubt that there is an author that doesn’t imagine his words put to action up on a screen with the lighting, music, special effects. You don’t have to describe a facial expression or a mood because the actors are portraying them. But then it’s time to go back to the page and return to the laborious process of painting a scene with words.
So how does this work with book trailers? A bit of a hybrid if you can afford to turn it over to a professional crew who will perform the same type of interpretation as a movie would. Or you can do it yourself and look as clumsy and amateurish as your writing is polished and professional. I mean why don’t you try painting a portrait or conducting a symphony? The point being that it’s a different art form for which you’ve spent no time learning or polishing while what you are trying to portray is the result of countless hours of practice, struggle, and polishing.
What’s an author to do? If you have the bucks or your publisher will pay for it go with the big production – it can’t hurt…just stay out of the way as you would if your work was being made into a movie.
Or do it yourself and try and create a personal expression that matches your book.
But in the end, professional or amateur, you’re left with the same question, is anybody going to read or not read your book because of this trailer? I still doubt it unless you can get Jay-Z to rap in it.
(check out the book trailer)
Perish starts off from the point of view (or as we say in the profession POV) of two children living at the edge of the city dump in a Latin America city (see it just keeps getting more delightful). The first scene is the main characters’ little sister choking on a parasite (better and better). But hey it is supposed to describe how the weakest and most vulnerable are the ones who have to save modern civilization from a great flood.
As in 12 – rain commences to fall all over the world, and believe me it doesn’t take long for things to start to flood and flood and flood. Think about it – if it just rains a couple of days how messed up things get, but non-stop rain everywhere? People in the novel are understandably freaking the f out.
Those of you who read 12 (all 10 of you) will recall that the main character is a reluctant deity, an amphibious teen named Du Moss who is supposed to be the god of a new world of water. But Du, or as he’s known by his Indian name, Tatya-Masi, wants to save the Age of Man if he can. But by not doing what he came to do (drown the planet) he pleases neither the Lordess of Water nor Lord of Fire who doesn’t believe that Du is trying to save the Age of Fire, and think it would just be a lot safer to kill him off.
Du doesn’t appear until the middle of AWSP and by that time he and his friends only have a few days to get back to Latin America and figure out how to stop the rain.
All and all, a simple archetypical journey of the hero, an update of ancient mythology that asks the always pertinent question – what makes us think ancient gods can’t return and raise hell in the modern age?
Opinion piece from the Santa Barbara Independent expressing my mystification at the Tea Party and how we seem to be incapable of understanding or taking each other seriously.