Pavilion Digest: May 2009

A plethora of perplexing pavilion posts. The Pavilion Annex thread, the Pavilion Discussion thread, and monthly digests of all messages from the Pavilion.

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Postby robochrist » Sun May 10, 2009 1:33 pm

Name: Rob
Source: unca20090603.htm
Steve: "I tend to shrug and move on, assuming to myself that I am missing something in the work that others are seeing (or vice versa). But if they didn't "get" it or just don't care enough to be moved, then, to me, it failed."

As you know now, I'm slowly navigating to writing myself, learning the process, the right voice, and so on.

I like your question because it applies to your TARGET audience, the group you assume will grasp whatever subtle references you've airballed in the prose.

I feel that depends in your own intentions: if the story was mostly written for yourself, and you have no passionate need to connect with listeners (or readers), then HOW can it be a failure?

If, on the other hand, you wanted to reach people with something "important", then in my OWN rule book it's a failure.

It depends on your own hopes, aims, and expectations.

My own intuition - virginal and naive like the country girl in wee tight shorts though it may be - tells me not to abandon what I felt was a great idea but RETURN to it and rework it. That is, IF the story itself was important enough to YOU, and it's something you WANT to share with others.

What do filmmakers do when they want to know how their new movie will fare? They pre-screen it to a free audience. When a response falls short of their hopes they take it back to the editing room.

Speaking for myself, I now have files of dynamite story ideas (including many drawn from important recent events in my life). The sentiment behind everyone one of 'em holds firey passion; yet, when the time comes I'm going to first have to seperate what amounts to a dead-end premise (perhaps what might later serve part of another narrative, but cannot stand on its own) and what has clear potential for a solid narrative. As a guy who's come to love the Absurdist theater of Dada, this is a challenging admission!

This means that I want to reach people with something in my heart, that they otherwise may not be able to relate to. The narrative therefore becomes a balancing act: I don't want to "explain" everything; allusion is what gives dimension to art. But if I want the target audience to connect, then I need to gear some of the elements in a way that makes 'em palpable.

If I have a story that felt met these criteria and the intended audience still didn't get it, then I have to either deem the STORY a failure or the AUDIENCE a failure.

That's ME, anyway.

If the story is imporant to you personally, I think you should look at it again and figure out just WHAT you wanted to communicate to your target audience. Who knows? Maybe it's one of those things ahead of its time (hell, Moby Dick was a failure in its day; and in the artworld, the painter Rousseau was LAUGHED out of every exhibit in the 1880's). But if you don't want it to wait till later it has to be retooled.

As for a guy like David Lynch, he actually found a following by using impossibly obscure imagery. Eraserhead alone has its groupies, and Mulholland Drive got critical raves BECAUSE it made no sense! (I'm not sure if any other filmmaker in history ever pulled off THAT coin flip!) But I think even THAT has to be done right in order to find an audience.

Here's what you should do: get stoned, or jump off a building, or take a flight in NASA's shuttle, THEN go back and rewrite the story. YOU'LL find your audience!

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Postby robochrist » Sun May 10, 2009 1:36 pm

Name: Rob
Source: unca20090603.htm
Martha's Grammatical Horsewhip:

Yeah, yeah: "depends ON your intentions" or even, what-the-hell, "upon"......

we don't mean "in"


Bob Homeyer's Query

Postby infomite » Sun May 10, 2009 1:39 pm

Name: infomite
Source: unca20090603.htm

I believe the book you are looking for is titled:

_The Brief History of the Dead_, By Kevin Brockmeier

It came out in 2006, from Pantheon Books

Good luck, I hope you enjoy it.

informationally yours,
the mite

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Quickie Answer

Postby Adam-Troy » Sun May 10, 2009 4:51 pm

Name: Adam-Troy Castro
Source: unca20090603.htm

Michael Mayhew
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Target Audience and a recommendation

Postby Michael Mayhew » Sun May 10, 2009 5:40 pm

Name: Michael Mayhew
Source: unca20090603.htm
From Steve Barber: "When you're creating art, is it successful if the 'target' audience -- the people you WANT to affect with the artistic creation -- doesn't understand or like it? "

A friend of mine once told me that the difference between an artist and an entertainer was that an entertainer cared what the audience thought. I think it's entirely possible for a creative person to move back and forth between those roles, with even some gray area in between, but on the whole it seems a useful definition.


Last night Denise and I watched Mike Leigh's terrific film Happy Go Lucky. Definitely worth your time. Full of great performances, funny moments and sad moments, and some astonishing work my Eddie Marsden (recently in Little Dorrit, as Panks) who is quickly becoming one of my very favorite actors.


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Postby Chuck Messer » Sun May 10, 2009 10:10 pm

Name: Chuck Messer
Source: unca20090603.htm

I was catching up on the Pavilion, while having my Glass O' Wine (a glass a day keeps the pink elephants away) when I read your posting. Good thing I didn't take a sip then or my keyboard would have looked like Dracula spewed all over it.


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File Under Gumbo

Postby KOS » Mon May 11, 2009 12:36 am

Name: KOS
Source: unca20090603.htm
I made chili today. I'm no Harlan, but I have some skill. A little powder, a little garlic. Just the right touch of cumin, a scintialla of salt and a heady whiff of my own favorite spice: Gumbo File.

To me it is the "secret ingredient" that gives my chili that undercutting slide trombone note of "I am chili, and I will not be denied".

Betimes, when in the mood, I open the twelve years and aging bottle of Habanero peppers.

Nut not today.

Today was a simple black bean, with thick roux undertone and mild burn as a final note.

There was even a hint of smoke from some of the beans. Not sure which of the ingredients did that, but it was interesting.

Good chili never makes you fart.

That's my story, and I am sticking to it.

I am refreshing my memory of Zydeco, a musical style from Louisiana. Professor Longhair was one of the practitioners in painoforte of Zydeco. Man, I loves me some Longhair. I loves me some Deep Blue Bayou notes and that slip-slide manic rhythm.

Y'all needs to check out Clarence Gatemouth Brown. His "Sister, Sister" is the Real Thing. Blues, that is.

"Bleed Your Cedar" by ELysian Fields. Strange N'Awlins atmosphere mood wendigo pookah sound.

Come back down with a little Indigo Girls, maybe "Swamp Ophelia" and a chaser of Patti Smith so you don't fall completely back in your rut. I suggest "Gloria".

I hate flossing. It ought to be automated, done in our sleep by tiny robotic elves. But then they'd go crazy, because no one likes flossing, and would build huge evil robot elves that would become overlords of the human race, making everyone floss three times a day.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.


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Newspapers and

Postby FinderDoug » Mon May 11, 2009 3:33 am

Name: FinderDoug
Source: unca20090603.htm
MICHAEL Ive been in grad school for two years pursuing a Masters in Journalism, and your post is the most concise assessment of the hollowing out of the newspaper industrys gourd that Ive come across yet. Thank you. While theyre putting together all manner of new media-centric classes for those seeking to move into journalism, no one is discussing with the next generation the main problem: how do you create a new business model for newspapers now that a) the financial genie is long out of the bottle and b) people are accustomed to turning to aggregators instead of the news gatherers themselves. I suspect in their hearts, no one wants to accept that the answer may very well be, You cant. Too late. (They stopped trying to sell us Print isnt dying about 18 months ago about the time we turned the volume on our incredulous gazes to 11.) Me? Well, two years and a gob of money later, the marketing writing position I currently inhabit is a more ripe plum than it used to be.

STEVE This will be the most unhelpful response you get all week: *shrugs* I dunno.

I find I dont wade with a thought of a target audience beyond myself (except when there are specific requirements set forth in creating the piece, for example, for an anthology; and then thats more a case of writing within an established framework and considering an audience of one: the editor). I know the story I want to tell and what I want to convey in that telling (be it simple amusement or VAST, DEEP CONCEPT), and I write it until I have it to my satisfaction. I WILL run it past two or three exacting readers who I know will call bullshit on me if I have been lazy, boneheaded, or simply dull. I use these people because they wont give me banalities like That was good. They will turn screws into my flesh if they feel the work warrants it. Theyre the buffer that helps move me back to look at the story objectively again after being with it at the genetic level. If they miss my point, I'll know I may not have made it well. Likewise, they will tell me if I've cudgeled them with it. If I satisfy myself AND please a simple majority of them, my confidence in hurling my child out the door and into the pit of spikes to Fly or Die goes up.

But everyone out there is going to bring their own baggage through the door anyway, their own filters of experience, their tastes, their biases, their levels of comprehension. I cant predict how its going to fly, and I think Id go crazy trying. Will I be disappointed if something I think is nifty-swell instead goes over like a fart in church? Probably. But is it an artistic failure? Tricky word, artistic very subjective. My art is nor yours is not Joe the Rag Mans. At the end of the day, you can find failure in the mechanics, or the execution, or the tone but you also have to consider that you can do every single thing right and well and have it sail right over the heads of the people you think may grasp it; or realize a critical flaw in your own execution on the back end and yet have them love it so much en toto that youre then stuck with this thing you can now only see as a shambling, crippled mess.

THAT SAID: Tales of the Unanticipated sent word Friday that theyve accepted my story Lorem Ipsum Donald for Issue #31; that puts one of my stories in each of their next two issues (this September / next August). Mayhap there will be brickbats for both stories when they arrive between glossy covers from people who think Im a burbling asshole whose fingers should be cut off, lest I sin again. But on a Monday morning, metaphorically speaking, Im less concerned with what the psych professor and the guidance counselor and the lunch lady think the Dean of Admissions likes my kid just fine.

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Postby Bob Homeyer » Mon May 11, 2009 4:15 am

Name: Bob Homeyer
Source: unca20090603.htm
To infomite for the information and ATC for the

Bob Homeyer
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Postby Bob Homeyer » Mon May 11, 2009 4:17 am

Name: Bob Homeyer
Source: unca20090603.htm
...quickie review (sorry, hit return accidentally). Having violated the one post a day rule, I shall absent myself for 24 hours. Isolation shall be my salvation.

Alan Coil
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Postby Alan Coil » Mon May 11, 2009 8:10 am

Name: Alan Coil
Source: unca20090603.htm

Keep the populace as ignorant as sheep, and you can get away with whatever you wish.

Best way to keep the populace ignorant is to destroy the newspapers.

Best way to destroy the newspapers is to sell them to the ultra-rich conservatives who wish to rule the country.

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Postby FrankChurch » Mon May 11, 2009 8:36 am

Name: Frank Church
Source: unca20090603.htm
Kudos to Paul Kurtz in Skeptical Enquirer magazine, for admitting that atheists have been lax in dealing with personal moral issues, letting the religious right run in front on that issue, while secularists mostly dealt with Church/State separation, civil liberties, etc.

You atheists let us believers control the debate. Balls in your court guys.

Another good article in that magazine dealt with the fact that there are also female atheists, suggesting that the new atheism is pretty male centered.

Susan Jacoby is one of the many good secular women, who also had a big best seller. But, is she lionized like Dawkins or Hitchens?

Food for thought.


I am amazed that they never made a sequel to Who Framed Roger Rabbit. It may be too late.

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Postby markabaddon » Mon May 11, 2009 10:42 am

Name: Mark Goldberg
Source: unca20090603.htm

I worked at a newspaper for 3 years, and I agree with many of your comments. No one has any idea what the future holds for newspapers or media in general. Newspapers receive more attention because so many of them are being shut down or are in the verge of being closed, but both radio and television stations are struggling mightily also.

You are correct in the assertion that newspapers missed the boat back in the 1990s by allowing their content to be accessed free of charge but something will have to change in terms of payment structure in the very near future if newspapers hope to survive. Some options that I have seen floated include a micro-payment type system that would allow users to pay for only the content that they access on the Internet and greater sharing or collaboration between local media outlets (TV, radio, etc.).

This will help in coverage of local events but in terms of more national or international coverage there ain't no easy answers because you are correct Internet sites cannot send people to Pakistan or Iraq. Some of them might form relationships with local bloggers or news sources, but those partnerships are also ephemeral at best.

Also, and many of my friends who are bloggers will admit this, they are not reporters. They can provide an interesting perspective on a story, or spark some excellent discussion, but if they do report on a story (such as Joshua Micah Marshall's excellent work on the firing of Attorney Generals during the Bush administration) their bandwidth is incredibly narrow. Simply put, they cannot step into the breach and replace newspapers.

One option that is being considered right now is to have newspapers become non-profit organizations. Under that scenario, subscriptions would become tax deductible donations and the tax structure would be radically different. That would help but would not be a panacea because many newspapers face two hurdles that will not be addressed by that change in status: too much debt and plummeting revenues.

My former employer, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, is an example of the problem with debt. They were purchased by a private equity firm that put up only about 15-20% of the capital necessary to purchase the paper and leveraged the rest. The paper now actually does make a profit (after slashing the workforce dramatically and re-negotiating a ton of contracts), but because of the crushing amount of debt held by their owners they are bleeding red ink.

Ad revenue, as Michael alluded to, is also hemorrhaging. I know that the Star Trib's revenue saw a drop this past year that they had not seen since the 1930s, and other papers, such as the NY Times have seen ad revenue drops on the order of 30+%. No one has any answer for how to address either of these issues.

If I had to guess, I would say that the future of media would be one where there is one central organization that handles the business side of the paper, while there are small bureaus in major cities that focus on just a couple of key issues relevant to that market and aggregate the data from other areas in a news-feed type of approach. From an online perspective, I would expect newspaper websites to become much more interactive, and allow a greater level of user-derived content to be published in an attempt to become more integrated into the local market and to drive up web page views

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Postby Moderator » Mon May 11, 2009 11:20 am

Name: Steve Barber
Source: unca20090603.htm

I think I should clarify my question, these are all really great answers but dont address what I thought I was asking (not your fault, mine).

I didnt intend to ask whether the artwork was created for a specific audience, but your reactions to the work once created after the audience you elect to share it with (the target audience) doesnt appreciate it the way youd expected.

Whether art is CREATED for an audience, rather than being strictly for the artists needs, is entirely up the artist. (I initially rather liked Michael Mayhews friends definition of entertainer versus artist but later changed my mind. When it comes to certain static art forms it has validity, but it dismisses anyone in the performing arts as solely entertainers and a great many of them are artists by any definition. It also assigns certifiable artists such as Annie Leibowitz, Alan Moore, and Harlan Ellison to entertainer status because in many cases they are hired to make their art. Does Straczynskis spec script for CHANGELING earn the status of art, while his work for-hire writing 80% of Babylon 5 make that work solely entertainment?)

So: the question is whether you consider a work failed because the audience you chose to share it with doesnt like/get it?

(Im ignoring the whole what if you dont show it to anyone argument, since theres no way to evaluate something that isnt seen as a piece/work of art.)

TAR! Yeah team Lawyer! Tammy & Victor!!!

One of the very best seasons ever of this show, and one of the heartbreaking finishes but the right team won.

Starbucks Memories: Part 3 Attack of the Crazed Barrista

(One car in front of me in the drive-through. It takes a good three minutes of waiting for barrista to come on and ask for their order. The lone car pulls forward.)

SBUX: Please hold for a moment, Ill be right with you.
SB: Okay.
(Three minutes. Car in front pulls away.)
SBUX: Thank you for waiting. What can I get for you?
SB: Venti coffee.
SBUX: Im sorry, what?
SB: Venti coffee, please.
SBUX: I didnt catch that. What would you like, please?
SB: (slowly) Ven-tee caw-feee.
SBUX: Coffee??
SB: Yes please.
SBUX: What size?
SB: Venti. Large. The biggest cup you have. BIG!
SBUX: Okay. Uncomfortable pause. Please drive forward.

SBUX: Okay, one venti coffee, right?
SB: Yes, please.
SBOX: Would you like cream or sugar?
SB: Splenda, please. No cream.
SBUX: Not sugar?
SB: No, Splenda please. Or Equal, or whatever you have.
SBUX: Were out of Splenda. We only have Equal or sugar.
SB: Um. Then Equal, please. Three packets.
SBUX: Of Equal.
SB: Yes, Equal.
SBUX: Not sugar. Equal.
SB: Yes, Equal. Three.
(Two very long minutes later she returns with the three packets of Equal in a little bag with a stir stick. Hands it out the window.)
SBUX: Thank you for choosing Starbucks, have good day.
SB: (looks around) Um. The coffee???
SBUX: Didnt I give it to you???
SB: (pointing) No, I think thats it right there.
SBUX: Are you sure I didnt give it to you??? I think I gave it to you.
SB: (gesturing at cars empty cupholder, then at lone cup on counter) No, Im sure THAT is my coffee.
SBUX: (frowns, not believing) Oh, okay, I guess. (Picks it up, goes to hand it to me. Stops)
SBUX: You wanted cream in it, right???

(Sound of gunshot, fade to black.)

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Postby shagin » Mon May 11, 2009 11:31 am

Name: shagin
Source: unca20090603.htm
STEVE - You California coffee weenies. (That would probably have more bite if I actually drank coffee.)


FINDERDOUG - Congrats on your story sale! Glad to hear it, and equally glad that you continue to make the grade in your classes.


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