Peggy Bechko’s World of Stand-up (Sit Down?) Writing

by Peggy Bechko

Sitting or Standing – oh, what the *&^%!

We’re writers. We end up sitting a lot.

We’re no doubt aware of the fact that sitting a lot isn’t really good for us. There are studies that claim to show how very, very bad it is by informing us all that it increases the risk of type 2 diabetes and of course cardiovascular disease. It also leads to obesity and back pain. In fact it could be killing us (duh – look at what sitting all day causes).

But wait. Now there’s a new study by researchers in the UK that comes at it from another angle and says long days of sitting doesn’t seem to be killing us after all. At least no faster than standing.

What? Oh, for crying out loud.

So what’s the basis for this?

Well, here’s a quote: “Our study overturns current thinking on the health risks of sitting and indicates that the problem lies in the absence of movement rather than the time spent sitting itself,” said researcher Melvyn Hillsdon from the University of Exeter. “Any stationary posture where energy expenditure is low may be detrimental to health, be it sitting or standing.”

Hmmm. Okay, writer, now what do we do?

I mean I got a standing desk and everything.

There’s a key here, right? Umm, yeah. It hinges on our daily activity according to these researchers (who, by the way, spent 16 years on their project). The extrapolation is apparently activity, every kind of activity.

Define activity I said to myself.

In general, it’s any sort of movement.

For example, the study took place in London which is a city that requires a lot of walking to and standing on public transportation to get places. So, the folks in this study had double the average daily walking time that most other folks there in the UK and I’m assuming in the US.

So, despite the fact that remaining seated for long periods is bad for your health, no matter how often you hit the gym, simple movement is big for health.

What is needed apparently is a bigger expenditure of energy in some form. Even fidgeting counts.

The take-away?

Well, I’m not getting rid of my standing desk. I like it and I actually think it causes me, personally, to focus better. If you want to see it you can check mine out at http://amzn.to/2mQU9NS – it’s a Varidesk.

I split my day between sitting and standing (standing with a lot of fidgeting). Now I’m adding to that a new focus on increasing physical activity. The fact is my standup desk does encourage more movement than sitting. I do fidget and I do move back and forth on my feet and I do tend to step away more often. So now when I step away, I walk up and down the stairs.

All that walking is good, and easy to arrange. My suggestion is that you make the commitment to walk more, to fidget at your desk more and to generally keep spending your energy.

After all, who needs the stress of worrying about the hours we spend at our computers, a situation that no matter how good our intentions we can’t change?

Now, get up, stretch, move around, then go on and write that award-winner. Your body may not be able to give an acceptance speech for your conscious contribution to a healthier life, but your life will speak for it, every moment of every day.


Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. Learn more about her sensational career HERE. Peggy’s new comic series, Planet of the Eggs, written and illustrated with Charlene Brash-Sorensen is available on Kindle. And, while you’re at it, visit the Planet of the Eggs Facebook page and her terrific blog.

Larry Brody’s Poetry: ‘The Navajo Dog Walks Her Talk

by Larry Brody

NOTE FROM LB:

The Navajo Dog is back today, and while I don’t think anyone could be as happy about that as I am, she definitely is worth keeping company with. Oh, and yes, this is a true story, every word. To let it be otherwise would betray everything she has lived for.


The Navajo Dog Walks Her Talk

The Navajo dog walks her talk, has been for at least

A thousand years. Lost items are a specialty. She

Has found a hidden concho belt, the skull of a vanished

Cat, and several renewed friends. Money she isn’t

That good at, but opportunities abound at her call.

The problem is, she drives me crazy, demanding a

Quid pro quo. “What have you done for me?” she

Will say. “You trade with the medicine men. What

Will you give your medicine dog?”

For awhile, rides in the truck were enough, her

Nomadic origins satisfied by the bumping of

The bed. Locking up the Navajo dog was impossible

Anyway. I would close the garage door on her,

Turn around, and there she would be, laughing.

Food as a thank you is hopeless. Anything she wants

She can take for herself. Once, I buried a sack of

Dog food beneath half a ton of oil drums, just as a

Test. The Navajo dog didn’t flinch, just waited until

I turned away. Then—wham!—a rumble, a crash, and

A dog munching contentedly, while the drums shivered

And swayed.

One of the skills the Navajo dog has taught me

Is the making of spirit staffs. It began when I

Wanted a stick to guide me over some rough

Paths. She told me where to find a good strong one,

Then guided me to some turkey feathers, and corn.

I stained the kernels with vegetable dye,

Strung them as beads, and attached them to

Both the feathers and the wood. Still, the

Navajo dog felt it wasn’t

Enough, took me out again. This time, we found

The skeleton of a cow, and the dog went directly to the

Spine. “Pick a backbone, any backbone,” she said

In stage patter. “You need a reminder to be brave.”

“I am brave,” I said.

“Sometimes,” she said, “you forget.

I attached the vertebra to the staff, using the

Corn beads. Still, the Navajo dog felt it wasn’t

Enough, took me out once more. This time, we

Made a fire, and kept the ashes, and at her

Instruction I used them to paint a black spiral

The length of the wood. “Black is a sacred

Color,” she said. “Where I come from,” I told her,

“Black means death.”

“Where I come from,” she told me, “everything

Means death.

And life as well.

With the black, and the corn,” she said,

“And the feathers, and the bone,

Your new staff will carry you

Straight to heaven, or maybe hell.”

I have walked many miles with my spirit staff,

And climbed the steepest slopes. I have fallen,

And gotten up,

And fallen again,

But never has the staff failed. It carries turquoise

Now, set into the wood. “So you can fly freely

Where you need to,” said the Navajo dog,

And I’ve flown fast and free. Now, though, she

Wants a staff of her own, with no instructions,

No hints, no clues of what it should be. I figure

To pull out all the stops, and give her what she

Deserves.

After all, in a realm

Where all things mean death

And life

I’ll never be able to find what she needs.


Larry Brody is the head dood at TVWriter™. He is posting at least one poem a week here at TVWriter™ because, as the Navajo Dog herself once pointed out, “Art has to be free. If you create it for money, you lose your vision, and yourself.” She said it shorter, though, with just a snort.

TVWriter™ Don’t-Miss Posts of the Week – March 27, 2017

Time for TVWriter™’s  Monday look at our 5 most popular blog posts of the week ending yesterday. They are, in order:

Looking for TV Pilot Scripts?

8 Tips for Writing for Children’s TV Shows

More Aliens than Asians on Screen: White-Washing Ghost in the Shell

LB: 3 Shows I Just Can’t Watch Anymore

Ethics in TV Storytelling from ClexaCon

And our 5 most visited permanent resource pages are, also in order:

Writing the Dreaded Outline

The Logline

SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED SECOND SEASON ARC

THE PEOPLE’S PILOT

The Outline/Story

Major thanks to everyone for making this another great week at TVWriter™. Don’t forget to click above and read what you missed and re-read what you loved!

The Fiction Writer’s Character Chart

image by The-Happy-Thought

Know how all the writing books (including LB’s own) tell you to create autobiographies for your characters so you know them inside and out before you start writing?

It’s a bitch, right? But here’s something that’ll help you. Writer Rebecca Sinclair has created a brilliant template that homes in on exactly what character aspects you need to know, and the good peeps at Eclectics have published it on their site.

We aren’t publishing it here out of consideration for Ms. Sinclair’s wishes, but we guarantee you that it’s worth a click. So, hey, you know what to do, CLICK HERE!

The 100 Jokes That Shaped Modern Comedy

Our hats are off to the good folks at Vulture for putting together this most informative  – and funny as hell – look into the humor of today!

pic by Giacomo Gambineri

by Jesse David Fox

The oldest joke on record, a Sumerian proverb, was first told all the way back in 1900 B.C. Yes, it was a fart joke: “Something which has never occurred since time immemorial; a young woman did not fart in her husband’s lap.” Don’t feel bad if you don’t get it — something was definitely lost in time and translation (you have to imagine it was the Mesopotamian equivalent of “Women be shopping”), but not before the joke helped pave the way for almost 4,000 years of toilet humor. It’s just a shame we’ll never know the name of the Sumerian genius to whom we owe Blazing Saddles. But with the rise of comedy as a commercial art form in the 20th century, and with advances in modern bookkeeping, it’s now much easier to assign credit for innovations in joke-telling, which is exactly what Vulture set out to do with this list of the 100 Jokes That Shaped Modern Comedy.

A few notes on our methodology: We’ve defined “joke” pretty broadly here. Yes, a joke can be a one-liner built from a setup and a punch line, but it can also be an act of physical comedy. Pretending to stick a needle in your eye, or pooping in the street while wearing a wedding dress: both jokes. A joke, as defined by this list, is a discrete moment of comedy, whether from stand-up, a sketch, an album, a movie, or a TV show.

For clarity’s sake, we’ve established certain ground rules for inclusion. First, we decided early on that these jokes needed to be performed and recorded at some point. Second, with apologies to Monty Python, whose influence on contemporary comedy is tremendous and undeniable, we focused only on American humor. Third, we only included one joke per comedian. And fourth, the list doesn’t include comedy that we ultimately felt was bad, harmful, or retrograde.

The list was put together by Vulture senior editor Jesse David Fox; New York senior editor Christopher Bonanos; comedians Wayne Federman, Phoebe Robinson, Halle Kiefer, and Rebecca O’Neal; comedy historians Yael Kohen (author of We Killed) and Kliph Nesteroff (author of The Comedians); and journalists Elise Czajkowski, Matthew Love, Katla McGlynn, Ramsey Ess, Dan Reilly, Jenny Jaffe, Lucas Kavner, and The Guardian’s Dave Schilling. (Fox, Bonanos, Keifer, O’Neal, Czajkowski, Love, McGlynn, Ess, Reilly, Jaffe, Kavner, and Schilling wrote the blurbs.)

Without further ado, here are the 100 Jokes That Shaped Modern Comedy. They are listed below in chronological order, complete with video or audio. Use the timeline slider to jump to different eras or specific comedians….

Read it all at Vulture

Web Series: ‘Unicornland’

Unicornland is both a funny and serious look at sex. Unlike most web series about anything – especially sex – the show is actually mature. Yes, for reals, about grown ups having, you know, sex.

Truth to tell, Unicornland is more mature than our first paragraph. Definitely something to see here.

Something very good.,

Stareable, our fave website devoted to web series, gives Unicornland 5 stars. But we here at TVWriter™ believe it’s a better series than most of the 5 star shows out there.

Unicornland on Stareable is HERE

The entire series is HERE

Why Adverbs Are The Tequila Of Writing Dialogue

TVWriter™ visitor Marcia Anonymous (not her real name, in case you wondered) recently sent us this article, found at South African writing site WritersWrite. According to Marcia:

When I first saw the title, “Why Adverbs are the Tequila of Writing Dialog,” I got all huffy and immediately barked out, “No! She’s wrong.” But now that I’ve read it I understand and recommend Mia Botha’s point. I’m also kind of embarrassed about what she says about tequila here. Seems like it’s way TMI. Not about writing, but about Ms.Botha. Oh well. It’s nothing a little Tequila Blu Reposado won’t fix. Maybe LB and Ms. Botha will both join me?

LB says to tell you he’s hoisting one…or two…or three right now. Meanwhile, for the rest of us, here’s the article:

by Mia Botha

I have been writing about dialogue these past few weeks.
Today, I want to talk about adverbs and why you should try to avoid them.

Adverbs tell us how something was done. You should rather try to show
us how it was done. When I talk about adverbs I want you to be pay close
attention to the words that end in –ly, namely adverbs of manner. Instead of using these, I want you to try to use
verbs, but not any old verb will do. I want you to use strong verbs, for example, stride instead of walk, sprint or race instead of run.
Knowing which verbs to use will be easier if you know your
character well. Think of the difference between a woman who strides and a woman
who shuffles. Each verb creates a different person or a different scene.
You don’t have to obliterate adverbs, but often they are
redundant or could be replaced by a strong verb. Adverbs are the tequila of writing. There is no such thing
as one tequila and there is no such thing as one adverb. Once you have used
one, more will sneak in. Be careful.
When all is said
That said I want to talk about the word said. Said is
awesome. Use it. Don’t replace it with words like admonished or exclaimed.
Stephen King recommends using them only 10% of the time. It’s good advice. Said
is invisible to a reader.
Below is an example of dialogue with adverbs and verbs other
than said. I used the prompt: ‘Keep your morals away from me’.
“Don’t do it.” Alice demanded angrily.
“Keep your morals away from me.” Janet said snidely as she
stood over John, tightly tied up in the corner.
“You’ve never minded my morals before.” Alice retorted
sarcastically.