Tag Archives: BBC

007 the Crow solves epic eight-step puzzle using TOOLS

Crows are wicked smart. I’ve watched them pick up nuts, fly, then drop them on the asphalt.

This wild crow, nicknamed 007, solved a crazy complicated puzzle the very first time he saw it.

Brilliant. It’s one thing for smart birds to show off after they’ve been trained for a lifetime to, I don’t know, sing Broadway tunes or tell dirty jokes. It’s another thing for a wild crow to pop in, spot some yummy food in the puzzle and do all this stuff using tools to get at it. I believe octopus (octupi?) can do similar stuff, like unscrewing jars and such, so it’s only a matter of time before the SyFy Channel comes up with CROWTOPUS EATS MANHATTAN and then CROWTOPUS VERSUS SHARKNADO.

007 the Crow, I salute you.

The Red Pen of Doom’s Greatest Hits Collection: 10 Epic Posts

  1. Epic Black Car deserves good owner; are you worthy?
  2. The Mother of All Query Letters
  3. Why every man MUST read a romance – and every woman a thriller
  4. The Red Pen of Doom impales FIFTY SHADES OF GREY
  5. The Twitter, it is NOT for selling books
  6. A BOWL OF WARM MILK AND MURDER
  7. 30 achy breaky Twitter mistakeys
  8. Writing secret: Light as air, strong as whiskey, cheap as dirt
  9. The Red Pen of Doom murders THE FOUNTAINHEAD by Ayn Rand
  10. Quirks and legs matter more than talent and perfection

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This is Guy Bergstrom the writer, not the Guy Bergstrom in Stockholm or the guy in Minnesota who sells real estate or whatever. Separate guys. Kthxbai.

Guy Bergstrom. Photo by Suhyoon Cho.

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award (PNWA 2013). Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

2 Comments

Filed under 5 Random Thursday, Animals, monsters and monstrous animals, Muffin chokers

Dogs driving cars, I kid you not

This isn’t one of those joke photos where somebody puts Spot on their lap as they’re cruising down I-5.

This is a BBC news report from New Zealand, where they’re teaching dogs to truly drive cars.

Related post: Cats who open freezers and dogs who fetch COLD BEER

Three things:

1) Anything said with a British accent is — by definition — 15,923 times more awesome.

2) It is official: New Zealand raaawks.

3) When can I hire a trained Schnauzer  chauffeur from New Zealand, and does he require health benefits and a 401(k)?

Related posts: 

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This is Guy Bergstrom the writer, not the Guy Bergstrom in Stockholm or the guy in Minnesota who sells real estate or whatever. Separate guys. Kthxbai.

Guy Bergstrom. Photo by Suhyoon Cho.

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award (PNWA 2013). Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

3 Comments

Filed under 5 Random Thursday, Animals, monsters and monstrous animals

Difficult doesn’t make it good

While in the Belgium, home of the world’s finest chocolate and 250 types of beer — 250! — I saw something that made me think.

No, it was not the beer. Though the beer was excellent.

This is what made me think: a concert on BBC or PBS or whatever with a violinist doing an insanely difficult piece.

Now, that wasn’t the exact piece. This YouTube video is something close, though it’s far less technically difficult and far more enjoyable. You should’ve heard the crazy thing, and seen her beat that violin like a dirty rug.

Was her technical skill amazing?

Oh yes.

Did she make faces like she was passing a kidney stone?

You have no idea.

Did the music move me at all?

Not one bit. Hated it.

The forest for the trees

Here’s the thing: creative people tend to focus on developing the most difficult technical skills WHILE IGNORING THE BIG STUFF.

  • Journalists learn all about headline counts and press law, but nobody questions whether the inverted pyramid is the right structure for the next 12,023 stories they’ll write.
  • Writers spend months or years cranking on novels, but if you put a 9 mm to their head and counted down from five, they couldn’t boil that novel down into four-word pitch — or logline, tagline or headline.
  • Figure skaters put all this time and effort into triple-axles and whatnot, despite the fact that only professional skaters and judges can tell the difference between a triple toe loop and a triple lux-whatever. The only thing we average people know is  (a) whether the skating is fun to watch and (b) how many times they fall down. Also, (c) how you can consider this a sport when the winner is determined by faceless judges, not who runs the fastest or scores the most points?

Now, I’m not saying that you should ignore your technical skills, whether you’re trying to break into Hollywood with your zombie high school musical or become the next Johnny Rotten.

The point is, technical skills come into play late in the game. Without working on the stuff that nobody teaches you — the short, pithy, publicity side — nobody will see your amazing technical wizardry with words, film or electric guitars hooked to amplifiers that go up to 11.

Here’s little kids playing Metallica, with far less technical skill. (Metallica is secretly easy to play.) Yet I enjoyed the heck out of this and would happily listen to it again, while you would have to deliver suitcases stuffed with purple euros to get me to listen to the violin craziness again.

Related posts:

Quirks and legs matter more than talent and perfection

Build your own writing monster

You can pitch ANYTHING except quality

The lost art of rhetoric and persuasion

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This is Guy Bergstrom the writer, not the Guy Bergstrom in Stockholm or the guy in Minnesota who sells real estate or whatever. Separate guys. Kthxbai.

Guy Bergstrom. Photo by Suhyoon Cho.

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award (PNWA 2013). Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

4 Comments

Filed under 4 Writing Secrets Wednesday, Fiction

Gas costs NOTHING compared to these common liquids

Gas prices are high — though not high compared to historical levels, if you factor in inflation.

But don’t tell people that. You’d deprive them of their outrage. Also, don’t tell them that (a) we are drilling and producing more oil in the U.S. than ever before, (b) oil is a global commodity and (c) the price of oil is affected more by speculators and fear than supply and demand.

However, even gas at $4.23 a gallon ($1.40 a liter in the Canada,  — is cheap compared to some common liquids that you and I buy ALL THE TIME. (OK, fine, I don’t buy nail polish.)

The CBC — nearly as awesome as the BBC, except they say “eh” and “aboot” — ran the numbers.

Note: All prices are in liters and Canadian dollars, which are just like American dollars, except more expensive or whatever. 

Coffee: $4 a liter.

Beer: $5 a liter.

Olive oil: $6 to $40 a liter.

Nail polish: $400 a liter.

Perfume: $1,600 a liter.

Printer ink: $1,750 a liter.

Scotch: $70 to $37,000 a liter.

Yes, that is not a misprint: $37,000 a liter for some scotch.

Note: This kind of story is what journalists call a “muffin choker,” because the reader is happily drinking coffee, eating a blueberry muffin and reading the morning paper when they come across this and choke on the muffin or snort coffee through their nose. Do we call such stories “coffee snorters”? No. Should we? Maybe, but it doesn’t roll off the tongue like “muffin choker.”

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This is Guy Bergstrom the writer, not the Guy Bergstrom in Stockholm or the guy in Minnesota who sells real estate or whatever. Separate guys. Kthxbai.

Guy Bergstrom. Photo by Suhyoon Cho.

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award (PNWA 2013). Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

4 Comments

Filed under 5 Random Thursday, Muffin chokers