Poem: Collision

New poem to compete with at a certain poetry slam competition. Thoughts?

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Poem: Bare Knuckle Chalkboard Punches

This poem is for anyone who has ever been a teacher or been taught, who has ever been through the American education system and emerged alive. This poem is for you. Enjoy.

I read this poem last Wednesday at Sit-a-Spell Cafe which is located on Broad Street in Augusta. They hold an open mic every other Wednesday. and soon, I’ll be MC-ing. More on that later! For now, I hope you enjoy my work. Still working on getting an agent for my novel and publishing that book of poetry.

All of that news is uber exciting! I hope you enjoy the poem; please comment below.

Sometimes, I get very passionate while reading.

How Hollywood Killed Cool

Hollywood killed cool. Things that used to be cool are now considered “cliche” or even by some playground bullies “gay.” What used to be very manly is now considered a joke. So, this blog is a memorial to what used to be cool, what used to make people wonder and now makes people gag.

Cowboys: Take the prime example of this: cowboys. Cowboys used to be awesome, riding along out in the Wild West, gun-slinging, and fighting bad guys. But then movies like The Wild Wild West came out starring Will Smith, turning cowboys into a huge joke. And after Brokeback Mountain, being a cowboy has become synonymous with having sex with the same sex. Sure, maybe it was more realistic to look at how lonely it could be out there on a ranch with loads of guys, but what about The Lone Ranger? What about The Man Without a Name? We should think back to the days when Clint Eastwood ruled the West, not Jake Gyllenhaal.

Astronauts: NASA just stopped sending bottle rockets with people inside into space. Why? Because no one wants to be an astronaut after hearing the truth. The problem with Hollywood is that it destroys the veneer of glamour in the lives of the glamorous, like cowboys and movie stars.

Knights: They were chivalrous and cool guys, saving damsels and slaying dragons. I blame this downgrade from cool completely on Mark Twain and Monty Python. King Arthur is now a joke- I mean, there’s a Sonic video game based off of him and his knights.

Movie Stars/Celebrity: There’s no telling how many films are produced boo-hooing the pitfalls of fame. Look, if you’re multi-billionaire and you’re lonely, you’ve got serious problems. It used to be, if you were cool and famous… you were cool and famous. Now Hollywood must catalog the problems of celebrities as if we care. Oh, should I feel sorry for you because you wreck cars and do heroin? No, not really, when you’re only job is to get naked for cameras. Really, famous people have it really hard, don’t they? If there’s one thing I don’t want to be ruined, it’s that the American Dream is to get rich and alienate yourself from everybody with your riches.

CIA/assassins: Being in the CIA is cool, no matter what. I do not want any more films depicting the hardships of broken-up assassins. Or of the family problems of super spies. What I want to see if James Bond kick Russian butt. I want being an assassin to be cool, not something morally conflicting.

Drug Dealers: I’m talking to you, Darenn Aronosky. With movies like Reqieum For a Dream, we found out that dealing drugs can send you to jail. And you’ll feel bad for it. What would Scarface say?

What else has Hollywood ruined? What used to be romanticized has become miniaturized. People who used to seem like heroes are now just normal people. We’ve ruined the hope to be hopelessly cool in the future. Even if we become cowboys.

Review: A Deeper Look Into Wilfred

Wilfred is like a crash course in philosophy if your professor happened to be a stoner dog. The FX remake of the Australian show has already acheived something great: staying interesting after just one episode with such a strange premise.

I thought maybe the writers might run out of dog jokes after the first episode, but on its fourth episode, Wilfred still proves to be insanely hilarious. So, I’d like to take a deeper look into why I enjoy this show so thoroughly and why you should be watching it too.

I’m the target audience: teenage boy with a dirty mind and a broad sense of humor, appreciative of crudeness and intelligence. This show was basically made for me, tailored for my exact entertainment needs. Imagine Family Guy if the only two characters were Brian and Frodo.

I’m glad though for Wilfred to continue. As you’ve probably noticed from my review of Misfits, I really love crude humor. It’s honest and very funny. Having grown up with brothers, no sisters, we tend to lean on crude humor, so the more, the better. But it’s not the sort of South Park humor that just combines a pop culture reference with an expletive. It’s crude, but it’s smart. My favorite:

“Why is the sky gray? Why is the grass gray? Why is a rainbow gray, gray, gray, gray, gray, and infragray?”- Wilfred

Now, this dog was based off an Australian show of the same name. I haven’t been able to find any episodes online, but I’m still looking. If you’d like to think deeply, laugh loudly, and learn life through the perspective of a dog, Wilfred comes on FX every Thursday at 10.

I Want To Grow Up to Be Ryan Gosling (Or a Pirate)

Every male thinks that maybe they can at times be  very romantic creatures as in, Ryan-Gosling-from-The Notebook-romantic. That sort of expectation is just not justified by the sad reality of almost imminent obesity and male pattern baldness. As kids, we want to grow up to be a lot of things.

Rich.

Handsome.

Charming.

Intellectual.

Published.

We imagine the future to hold so many things that it so obviously cannot. Like a six pack, maybe. Like billions of dollars and a book deal. I began thinking about this when writing my “Writing Biography” posts this weekend.

In the fifth grade, I had huge plans for my future. I would be on Oprah and parade through the streets while people screamed my name. I was also for the duration of my childhood under the impression that I would die at 16. I would publish a book that would rock the world, change society… and then I’d die.

After publishing something, I could die. That would have been fine with me, just sixteen years of life and one book on the shelves.

Well, I didn’t publish anything. I didn’t gain the romantic suave of Ryan Gosling or his six packs. At sixteen, I didn’t die and maybe although it was just a small premonition, I didn’t know what to do. I hadn’t made real plans for the future, hadn’t really thought beyond what might have been my imminent death.

It’s one of those strange notions sparked during childhood that stick with you: sixteen years seemed like it would be long enough to achieve everything I’ve ever wanted to do. Maybe not.

The problem with growing up is that you have to change your game plan, the older you get. Maybe when you’re young, you can want to be a robot or a ninja. With how many video games I played and episodes of Power Rangers I watched, I thought it was imminent that one day, I’d save the earth from a horde of attacking aliens.

But as we grow older, we cross out things we deem impossible. As William Wilberforce said, “We are too young to realize that certain things are impossible, so we will do them anyways.” But then suddenly becoming a robot seems impossible. We presume we’ll never save the earth from aliens or don a ninja suit.

After this, more realistic dreams crumble. Maybe we can’t be lawyers, can’t be doctors. Can’t woo women with smooth ease. Can’t write stories that make people cry or rejoice or feel anything. And there’s a fine line between impossible and improbable, I think.

There are truths that you have to come to terms with, like the fact that you will never be Ryan Gosling. But there are also hard truths that must come to terms with you.

If you really, really want to become a pirate, you just need a fast ship and an eyepatch. A crew, some cannons, a cutlass, and a criminal record.

If you really want to become a doctor, you’ll need to go the medical school. I think I’d have an easier time becoming a pirate, but don’t let anyone tell you it can’t be done.

If you really want to become Ryan Gosling, you must discover the secret to altering your DNA. Also, get a gym membership.

If you really want to become an author, you first have to write a book.

The Writing History of Derek Berry: Part 2

Derek is telling a wonderful story about how he finally wrote a novel he’s proud of and all about everything he’s ever done in writing. Read part 1 here: https://derekberry.wordpress.com/2011/07/23/the-writing-history-of-derek-berry-part-1/

Read about his book here: https://derekberry.wordpress.com/about-the-book-word-salad/

Last time, I told you about Aurelia, the book I wrote when I was only eleven.

After I put Aurelia away, I ventured onto several tangents. Some time during my freshman year, I ventured into rocky territory. I dropped fantasy, which I always intended to write in my youth. My “younger” youth. Instead, I wanted to write horror. I tried all sorts of projects, too- a learning experience. Dean Koontz rip-offs, Stephen King rip-offs. the most cringe-worthy idea was about a horde of very classy vampires who exploited the vampire craze of the day by sleeping with creepy, nerdy Twihards.

As a sophomore, I began writing for the Hornet Herald, which I credit with my skills at writing funny blog posts! After being subjected to plenty of snooze-inducing news stories, I finally tried my hand at a column. A Valentines Column that I may one day re-post here (probably on Valentines Day). For the past year, I’ve almost exclusively been writing columns for our school newspaper, funny serious, and otherwise. Some might find their way here, some not. I’ll have to dig through the archives of my old computer. Such practice has helped me learn how to write blogs, I’d like to believe.

Last summer, I began writing poetry. It began as angry tirades but became more like this: https://derekberry.wordpress.com/2011/06/11/reading-poetry/ More poetry videos will be coming soon, I promise.

A very captivating poetry reading very late at night

I began writing Word Salad for NANOWRIMO, which is in November when you’re supposed to write 50,000 words in one month. The book was not exactly what it is today, because it was called The Life and Times of a Serial Killer and dealt solely with Sebastian Martinelli. The story I wanted to tell only involved a serial killer and a lot of gory acts of violence: this was before I learned how to better write about, you know, “feelings.”
The story now, is far large in expanse and storytelling. But I do suggest NANOWRIMO to people who want to jump-start ideas. No, the story will not be able to be published right away, and no 50,000 is not the length of a real novel, but it’s a good start. Learn more here: http://www.nanowrimo.org/ Even if you don’t want to be a commercial author, it’s fun and I think it’s great for aspiring writers.

Well, it took about two years after that of revisions. In fact, I think I just decided to change the ending… again. Because as long as I haven’t published the book yet, I can do that. The problem arose because of a beta reader’s comments who found that the ending was very unfair to the consistency of one character.

I’ve shaped the story, though, to a place where I’m very proud to show it off, to market it via a blog. To send query letters, though I should stop until I rework the ending. Otherwise, I’m very excited to share it with the world as soon as possible. What path I know shall take is unknown. We will one day see. Also, I’m planning on printing and publishing a book of poetry. Merely a chapbook to hawk off at poetry readings. But… I’ve reconsidered and now I believe I shall also sell an e-book copy of the book (once I put all the poems together and write an introduction and put together a chapbook.) But hopefully, the poetry book which has yet to be named will be coming to an Amazon website near you!

That is the entire and exhaustive history of my writing. I hope you have enjoyed reading about the misadventures of Derek Berry!

The Writing History of Derek Berry: Part 1

I think it would be fun to recount the writing misadventures of my own short life, so read about them here.

Derek began writing stories at the age of five. His first story was called “The Night Before Christmas” in which Santa Claus fell down the chimney and died in a fire, sort of like a rip-off of “The Santa Claus” sans Tim Allen.

Now he’s written something he’s more proud of, a novel called Word Salad. Read about it here: https://derekberry.wordpress.com/about-the-book-word-salad/

In the fifth grade, I wrote a twelve-part story about a kid who tracks down magical amulets and saves the world and whatnot. This was the first time I wrote anything especially gory. Unnecessarily gory. I think the villain (Mr. Paradox) was stabbed through his Achilles tendon and shot in the face. Other character met similarly grisly ends: pushed off cliffs, burned alive, eaten by flesh-eating bugs.

This first foray into the nitty gritty may foreshadow some of my gory/strange story choices nowadays.

At that age, writing helped me express myself; I was not the social animal I am today. I wasn’t even any sort of animal, per se. I could not speak very well for the first eleven years of my life, so I wrote. I read. Maybe having spent eleven years nearly silent, I feel like I should make up for it now. But writing, cliche enough, became an escape for me. I never questioned that deep down, I wanted to tell stories. Before wanting to become a writer, I thought I’d love to be a film director until I learned that they were usually not responsible with WRITING the story. I wanted to make up stories for people to enjoy.

In the fifth grade, I decided I wanted to write professionally. How hard could it be? At eleven, I could simply type up a book and send it to a big publisher. They’d fall in love and give lots and lots of money so I could continue to write books for the rest of my life in the safety of a lake house. Well, it’s been six years since that dream was first inspired, and sadly, no lake house. No published works.

Of course when Random House did not mail me back, I did not lose faith. Instead, I started writing something new. What you’ll notice about my writing life is that I’ve never stopped writing. I don’t expect to not publish Word Salad, but if it fails to garner any sort of attention, I shan’t stop writing. That’s just not what I do. Even in the sixth grade, I understood that. So, at twelve, I began to write what I like to think as “my first real novel.”

It was horrible. I was twelve. But I’m still damn proud out it, because I wrote it. Like I said, I was TWELVE. I finished the first and even penned a sequel, planning out a whole series before tiring out of the story. But still, this novel I wrote was even longer than the one I’m pushing right now. And it’s not THAT bad, even, especially considering a sixth grader wrote it. It took about a year and a half to write and was called Aurelia.

The basic premise was that there is an eighth continent floating around in the sky where magical stuff happens, the place where our myths come from. Because an evil sorcerer vanquished years ago threatens to return (his name was Zinnebarr, which mind you, is an awesome name), the Aurelians seek the help of “the chosen one.” The said chosen one was Declin Furthermore who is kidnapped by a giant rainbow-colored bird named Tropez and taken to the capitol. There, Declin learns it is his duty and destiny to find Zinnebarr’s spirit and destroy his source of power, The Shadow Orb.

Well, it’s not exactly original, but I think writing something like this was a great step in the right direction. No one takes you seriously at twelve, so I did get kindly replies from agents. “I can’t help you publish this, but keep on writing” became the ultimate sentiment. What I’m most proud of is what issues I tackled. I continued to rewrite and rewrite the story I’d written until I was about 14. And the story, therefore, became more imaginative, more complicated. The fictional continent was mostly vacant grasslands for some reason with only about 17 real cities, but each city was important. The rest of the continent, I remember, was covered by either desert or a really creepy forest. One of the cities was the industrial center of the otherwise pollution-free land, so a magical dome was placed over it to keep in all the nasty smog. Things like that, I’m proud of.

I may blog another day about the ingenuity of Aurelia, of which I still have a copy of in my room, but unfortunately, no digital copies. I might try to find a copy of it on a flashdrive somewhere and share its juvenile awesomeness gratis to the world.

Well, that’s the end of part 1 of this awesome story. Tune in tomorrow or Monday for Part 2 of The Writing History of Derek Berry.

Writer’s Angst: Self-Published E-books

Here’s another common ailment of writers which I currently suffer under. ANGST! Toward publishers, the reading public, and indeed, agents. Why?

Well, this sort of angst forms in the hearts of every writer who is again and again rejected. Publishing is certainly a wonky battleground right now- bullets zip through manuscript pages and query letters flutter into pools of dirty blood.

Here’s the thing: I’m starting to get the hang of marketing. I think I might understand a wee bit about it, because I’ve been blogging. And my view count approaches 1000, and every day this blog receives more views. Exciting, right?

So in the midst of writing query letters, reading back through my novel to edit more for the hell of it… some people (my family, mostly) have the gall to ask, “Why not self publish?”

Of course, I am born-bred to believe that self-published books, uploaded e-books are invariably horrible. There is such a terrible stigma behind these sorts of books that I cringe every time someone suggests I do it.

Then, I considered it. Wait! Derek, you’re a product of the 21st century, fairly apt at social networking. Hell, you spend most of your time “social networking.” Well, Derek, what if we DO self-publish? As an e-book on Amazon? You wouldn’t need an agent, you could do whatever you’d like to do with your novel. Total control. You know plenty of talented artists. Enlist their help for cover design. Derek, we may have stumbled upon a small miracle.

And the truth is… when I first started writing, I would never have considered self-publishing. But now, e-books seem like the future. It seems that perhaps for a new, unknown author, it could be cheapest way to get published, to get my name out there, make money. Because of the really dark and taboo subject material of Word Salad, it may be better if I do. Every agent says: “Writing is great. Don’t think I can sell something this… um… extreme.”

And well, where does something extreme belong? Maybe… the internet!

Tell me what you think of self-publishing, then go read the synopsis of my book: https://derekberry.wordpress.com/about-the-book-word-salad/

For say, $3.99, would you buy it for your e-reader? Or for your computer or Ipod? What would you do?

Self-publishing used to seem like it would be a defeat, but maybe in it’s own way, it could be an actual victory.

Review: The Deathly Hallows Part 2

 

Heartbreaking.

Thrilling.

Gut Busting.

Satisfactory.

The final installment does not let down, and yes, I saw it in 3-D, and yes it was worth it to be completely blown away. Everything turned out absolutely perfect.

And I know already someone will complain that because they didn’t read the books, they didn’t understand the movie. Well, go watch Transformers then.

It was depressing in a way. Pandemonium in the theatre with the realization that it’s over. And everyone gave this final movie every bit of love Harry Potter deserves.

Is it worth your 7 dollars?

Well, I think it was worth waiting five hours in line for.

Harry Potter: And the Satanic Controversy

Harry Potter is a widely accepted allegory, right up there with fantasy books such as Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia. Harry Potter, however, is also known to encourage children who read the books to worship Satan and get tattoos and pierce their nipples and whatever else Satan-worshippers apparently do.

It is strange to believe that a book written for children might spark controversy, but then again, any really good book aimed at the young ignites new fires: The Catcher in the Rye, Huckleberry Finn, and nearly any
by Judy Bloom,
for example.

Harry Potter smells of Satanism, say some conservative Christians. Others claim it is a harmless children’s story at heart, with Christian morals in fact. See what’s so satanic about Harry Potter here: http://www.exposingsatanism.org/harrypotter.htm

Now, I could argue in defense of a book beloved by myself and many others, but maybe we can take a different route. Instead of analyzing what is Christian and moral and awesome about Harry Potter (namely, Harry dying to save everyone else), let’s explore the occult.

Harry Potter practices magic, a form of power usually associated with the Devil. In Divination, students strive to learn how to foresee the future, though Harry mostly just slacks off or passes out in the middle of class. With ghosts and crystal balls and objects that you can store your soul in, what isn’t a bit occult in Harry Potter?

What about Inferi, which are reanimated bodies- inspired into motion by dark magic? Or the idea of a chamber where a huge Basalisk with killer eyes lives?

My point is, if someone says that Harry Potter has traces of the occult, they’re actually right. I’m sure reading these books won’t turn kids toward witchcraft, but I must say that I did really want to become a wizard while reading them. In the fifth grade, I printed up a fake acceptance letter on parchment paper and showed it to all of my friends. No, I wouldn’t be joining them at pathetic middle school, but instead be learning how to “put a stopper in death” in Potions class. Snape sure seems nicer than some of my past teachers.

If you’d like to see what all the Demon-related fuss is about, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 premieres July 15th.

I for one have been dragged down into the desires of wanting to become a wizard, and I shall don my Hogwarts robe tonight to wait outside a crowded cinema for the final adventure to begin. I hope you’ll join me.