Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Sidewalk Ends

Shel Silverstein had it right. Image from his excellent
collection of poetry Where the Sidewalk Ends and swiped
from this website.
Variety is the spice of life, they say, but variety should exist in multiple spaces causing us to travel and interact. Don't you think?

Every time I go to the grocery store I bemoan the machines and displays that clutter up the front six feet of sidewalk. The Redbox, the LP gas tanks, two or more vending machines, pumpkins, flowers, a couple of guys grilling hot dogs and brats or ribs. Other things. Jeez, I mean, really. How much crap can you pack onto a sidewalk?

The grocery store sells new hardback 'bestsellers' in endcap displays, too. And movies. Then in the frozen food aisle they have dump boxes of more movies for 'value' prices. They've always had magazines and paperbacks and back in the old days they had comics, too. The grocery store didn't carry furniture. Jeez.

So when I pass someone browsing the video selection on the sidewalk and there might be two or three people waiting behind him, when I have to detour around them into the parking lot where the drivers are too busy texting to pay attention for pedestrians, I always curse. Not always out loud, but come on.

This is important because everyone around me, around all of us, are engrossed in their own worlds and oblivious to anything else. This is the grocery store for cryin' out loud. I'm not supposed to be able to get everything I need in one stop except for groceries.

I get the convenience on both ends of Redbox: the customer can get a movie 24/7, essentially from the comfort of her car. For the store, they get to offer essentially the same service without the expense of overhead or labor for employees to staff the desk. Plus they get all the floor space back to fill up with - you know, furniture.

And what gets lost in there are the individual stories. I would occasionally overhear or actually talk with with someone about why they were getting a particular film. I would hear from the staff in the video section why they did or didn't like what I was watching. I could get dinner and a movie in the same place and that made sense.

Sorry, but I don't trust buying household appliances or furniture from a grocery store.

Now, that said, I don't just write science fiction. I'm having a fun time writing in other genres as you can see if you visit the new Free Stories page here on the site. I don't pretend that I am better at writing horror than I am SF, but I dabble in horror and fantasy. Usually with a SF bent, but nonetheless...

Does that make me a hypocrite? I suppose if I was hawking furniture or alcohol instead of writing I might be. But writing in different styles or genres is still writing. It's still stories. When you come here looking for a particular kind of story you might just find it.

It's like the different brands and flavors of ice cream. Kind of.

That's me: the Ben & Jerry's of writing.