2020 Writing Exercise Series #286: Erasing Roger Ebert 11 "Easy Come, Easy Go"

The Notebooking Daily 2020 Writing Series is a daily writing exercises for both prose writers and poets to keep your creative mind stretched and ready to go—fresh for your other writing endeavors. The writing prompts take the impetus—that initial crystal of creation—out of your hands (for the most part) and changes your writing creation into creative problem solving. Instead of being preoccupied with the question "What do I write" you are instead pondering "How do I make this work?" And in the process you are producing new writing.

These exercises are not meant to be a standard writing session. They are meant to be productive and to keep your brain thinking about using language to solve simple or complex problems. The worst thing you can do is sit there inactive. It's like taking a 5 minute breather in the middle of a spin class—the point is to push, to produce something, however imperfect. If you don't overthink them, you will be able to complete all of the exercises in under 30 minutes.

Erasing Roger Ebert 11 "Easy Come, Easy Go"

For today's exercise we have split paths for fiction and poetry, though I highly recommend that even fiction writers try the poetry exercise, because erasures can be a blast!

For poetry do an erasure or black-out poem from the following:  Roger Ebert's review of the 1967 Elvis film "Easy Come, Easy Go" (1 star).

Roger Ebert has been the stereotypical film critic for decades, and he's written thousands of reviews. Because of their nature, almost their own bit of ekphrastic art, this series of erasures will be lots of fun!

An Erasure/Blackout is really simple: you take the given text and remove many words to make it your own new piece. One way to go about the erasure that I like to do is to copy the text and paste it twice into your document before you start erasing or blacking out (in MS Word set the text background color to black), that way if you get further into the erasure and decide you want a somewhat different tone or direction, it's easy to go to the unaltered version and make the erasure/black-out piece smoother. Another tip is to look for recurring words, in this example 'bingo' occurs multiple times and could be a good touchstone for your piece.

If you insist on fiction (or just feel like writing a "Title Mania" piece), write a piece with one of these six titles taken from this section:

  1. A Movie by Elvis Presley
  2. Sexier Album Covers
  3. An Elaborate Buildup
  4. A Good Low-Budget Film
  5. The Same Old Slur
  6. Chubby Face, Petulant Smile

Erasure Selection:

Roger Ebert's review of "Easy Come, Easy Go"

Let me confess at once that I have no credentials for reviewing a movie by Elvis Presley. Although I belong to the correct generation, having arrived at age 13 simultaneously with the release of "Heartbreak Hotel," I never went to a single Presley movie and I never, not even once, not even for "Hound Dog," bought a single Presley record. Even then I knew Julie London had a better voice (and she certainly had sexier album covers).

So it was that I went, this weekend, to "Easy Come, Easy Go" with heavy heart and faltering step. What was the use of having avoided Elvis so long if it finally came to this? Why did I stay home when the gang went to "G. I. Blues," only to see a latter-day Elvis in a latter-day version of the same bloody thing?

But I went. It was my duty, and I did it. I went to my neighborhood theater, and I went inside for the Saturday matinee, and I sat down with the kids and the teenage couples, and I saw the movie. And if you think this has all been an elaborate buildup for some unexpected surprise like I liked it, you're wrong. I was miserable from beginning to end.

There is such a thing as a good movie musical. "Singin' in the Rain," maybe, or "West Side Story." And there is such a thing as a good low-budget film exploiting currently popular singers. "A Hard Day's Night," for example, which slipped up and became great instead of merely good.

And then, I suppose, there must be such a thing as Presley movies like this one, obviously produced with a minimum of care and with the sole purpose of contriving a plot, any plot, to fill in between when Elvis sings.

The plot this time is that Elvis is a Navy diver who discovers buried treasure. After his discharge, he teams up with his old buddy, who runs a go-go joint, in order to get the treasure. They form an alliance with a Zen chick (Dodie Marshall) who unwinds from the Lotus position long enough to supply her grandfather's map (He owned the ship.) Then they go out after the treasure and after an underwater struggle with another broad's muscular boyfriend, Elvis wins it. And then -- but I don't want to spoil the suspense.

Elvis looks about the same as he always has, with his chubby face, petulant scowl and absolutely characterless features. Here is one guy the wax museums will have no trouble getting right. He sings a lot, but I won't go into that. What I will say, however is that after two dozen movies he should have learned to talk by now. But it's still the same old slur we heard so many years ago on the Ed Sullivan Show.

If you'd like some background music to write to, try this Midnight lofi Fall Vibes mix.