Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Nothing About Writing

We just arrived back--days early, for various reasons--from a short vacation. At the moment, I'm a little dazed, but I promise a post about something substantive tomorrow.

Meanwhile, take a look at these fine pictures of the annual Fire Arts Festival put on by The Crucible in Oakland, California. Some friends dragged us along (we'd already seen The Crucible's astonishing production of Stravinsky's Firebird earlier this year), and the Festival was a truly mind-altering experience.


All of us like to play with fire, right? Chimps and parrots can use language, any number of animals use tools, but fire...now there's a primal, uniquely human trip.

The Fire Arts Festival covers acres with flaming art pieces, gargantuan Tesla coils, and live performances. The whole affair is right at the edge of danger: a gazillion volts of crackling blue arm-thick lightning shooting from a car-sized discharge coil to a man in a tin-woodsman outfit, a thirty-foot-high flame tornado twisting up into the night sky, or a gout of flame rushing up through a 300-pound block of ice--everything about it feels uneasily out of control yet pulls you closer.

Toward the climax of the evening, some fire artists dragged in an upright jet turbine, and started it whining...whining...whining, the pitch rising until people clamped their hands over their ears, and at last a spout of flame shot skywards and everyone backed away. And then backed away even further, and then sort of stumbled into retreat before the raw intensity of the heat. Even fifty feet away, it was barely tolerable. I've been at an active volcanic eruption where it poured into the sea; this is the only heat I've ever felt that compared to living lava.

Some people, of course, are too mature to amuse themselves by watching people play with matches. For those folks, the amazingly sexy, in-your-face dance troupe The Nekyia are always on hand, en masse or in twos and threes...

Did we have a good time?

Does the Pope wear a hat that looks like the space shuttle?

10 comments:

Matt Curran said...

That sounds bloody impressive. Far from being a pyromaniac I’m always awed by pyrotechnical displays that are either natural or manmade (being struck by lightening on two occasions has not dampened that enthusiasm).

Unfortunately it's doubtful anything like this will be seen over here, at least in Sheffield anyway. It's just too damned moist for that sort of malarkey.

(I'm incredibly immature for my age, by the way!).

Tim Stretton said...

Glad to see that you're a pyromaniac, David: never trust anyone who isn't.

I've never written a novel which doesn't have a fire or explosion in it somewhere!

Creative A said...

Tsk tsk tsk. You didn't take us with you! ;)

That sounded incredible. I'm not a pryo myself, but I do have this affinity for fire...this spring, relatives were burning junk in the garden, right next to this big dead hayfield. And suddenly the field caught on fire. And the wind was blowing. And it was *hot*

Eventually we beat it back, but only after demolishing two rakes, four towels, and pretty much killing my lungs.

You have to respect fire.

-A

David Isaak said...

Did I just hear Matt say he'd been struck by lightning? Twice?

If there is anything I'd include on my author's bio, it would be that!

David Isaak said...

A sound philosophy, Tim.

David Isaak said...

Hey, Creative--

Yeah, fire starting to go out of control is one of the strangest feelings--first disbelief, then mounting panic...

Matt Curran said...

Hi, David

Hadn't thought of that (might be something to include on the bio for book 3), but yeah, struck by lightening twice: once at Echo Point, Katoomba, Blue Mountains, Australia, the second time near a golf course at Sand Banks, Bournemouth, UK. And in both instances my wife was struck at the same time.
We were pretty lucky - we didn't get the full force of the bolt otherwise I wouldn't be typing this - but unlucky too to be hit twice.

(Funnily enough, both have occured after writing The Secret War...)

David Isaak said...

Hi, Matt--

You've BOTH been struck by lightning twice?!? Try getting away with that in a novel.

It may indeed be connected with The Secret War. On the other hand, maybe it's something your wife has been up to.

Either way, it belongs in your bio.

Kristina said...

Glad you enjoyed the show, hope to see you again for the next conflagration. And we are firmly in agreement regarding hyphens.

Smooches,
The Nekyia

David Isaak said...

Wow, Kristina herself!

We're big fans. In fact, we drove all the way up from Huntington Beach to see the production of Stravinsky's "Firebird". Well worth the trip, especially for you and your dancers.