3 Thoughts in November

Thought 1: In Paris

Eiffel TowerI was in Paris for only two days. This was at the end of my six-week European adventure, the stereotypical college graduate trying to discover himself and the world.

My trip had begun in London and I spent a majority of my time in England, but my flight to return to the states was from Paris. So (possibly because of bad planning) I ended up in the City of Love exhausted and broke.

I didn’t drink little coffees by the apartment of Hemingway, I didn’t travel the same paths of Fitzgerald. I may have visited the Notre Dame and the Louvre, but today I can’t be certain. For my memories might be nothing more than a picture I saw in a magazine or something from a show or movie. Yes, I might have stolen my memory of the city. I can say with certainty I didn’t go to the top of the Eiffel Tower. I walked past it, took a picture, and felt that was enough. It was like a box was checked in my head.

Honestly, I should have cared more. There is a lot of family lore connecting me to France. I can’t verify any of this but as the story goes through my family, on my mother’s side, I have French nobility in my blood. We were the ones that were smart enough to figure out that it wasn’t worth it to stick around during the French Revolution, scampering away to Ireland. Those very streets might have been walked by my ancestors! Of course, if they were nobility they were probably driven around in carriages and didn’t peer out of the windows at the riff-raff (which is exactly what I was as I stumbled around those streets poor and alone).

Instead, I spent most of my time sleeping on the bumpy bed (the bumps I remember) of the cheap hotel I had a room in. When I got up, after sleeping for 12 hours, I was starving. I was so financially spent by this point in my trip I was almost dreading my return to the States. My parents might be waiting for me at the airport, but I imagined also the credit card companies there as well with something the opposite of a hug. So when I wandered to the little restaurant under the hotel my choices were very limited.

Of course, everything on the menu was in French. And since France was not the big focus of my trip (England! Shakespeare! Authors! Venice!) I didn’t bring a French dictionary with me. I was, sadly, the typical dumb American tourist. I admit it. I ended up pointing at the one thing on the menu that had a word in it that I could translate: Ham. Continue reading

NEW WKAR Book Review: John Irving’s Avenue of Mysteries

Current StateI got a really big kick out of getting this book in the mail for review. I always enjoy John Irving and today on WKAR’s Current State I reviewed his latest, Avenue of Mysteries.

You can listen to my review here: http://wkar.org/post/book-review-john-irvings-avenue-mysteries

If you would rather read my review, you can do so below.

Hey, did you know Current State has a podcast? If you subscribe, you can download episodes and segments (and you can find me every other Thursday). Here is a link to find it on iTunes- https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/wkar-fm-current-state/id594609653?mt=2

You can snag a copy of Irving’s latest novel here on Amazon.com If you want to check out my other book reviews for WKAR’s Current State, you can do so via links on this page. Continue reading

A Portrait of the Author at Age 42

This dudeThis photo was taken by a 4-year old girl
Who ate dad’s b-day cake
Dressed like a Supergirl-

Who has changed her attire
At least twice an hour
Dad almost had to use the washer & dryer-

Who stole yogurt, chips and pretzels too
And said she was too full for lunch
(Even at a quarter past 2)-

Who asked to watch Barbie
And princesses and heroes
But fell asleep twice (by her aged daddy)-

Who made a toy mess that looked like a bomb
The Dad had scratched his head
Wondering how to clean it before mom-

Who danced, kicked and spun
In a pink tutu and tights
To the tunes of Belafonte and Fun.-

…and all before her brother got home from school.

“Any Love (Cassandra Et Lune)” by Ken Stringfellow

Wow, I can’t believe I am already up to eight in my series “With Music.”   In each post I write about a time in my life, using a song that impacted me or reminds me of a moment.  The earlier seven entries included Ben Folds Five, Sheryl Crow, Beth Orton, Dean Martin, The Verve, Barenaked Ladies, and Tori Amos. This time I write about finding inspiration in Los Angeles.

I am haunted by a song.

I sometimes hear it in my dreams, it is the one I might start humming when I am running an errand or absentmindedly finishing a chore. I’ve even been known to sing it to my children as they fall asleep.

This song has followed me for almost a decade and I believe it will be with me until I let one special book go.

I was sick of being a number.

There were a lot of students in the master’s program in writing at the University of Southern California and I felt like I always had to prove myself. Every class was the same, an introduction to the others in the room and then a slow stomp up the literary stairs to the top of the class. Maybe I would have had an easier time being in competitive classrooms like these if I went to a bigger college for my undergrad. Then I was a big fish in a small pond. I was the writer of the entire class of English majors. It may sound egotistic to say I ruled the school, but it felt like that as I went from writing workshop to workshop then.

But at USC it was different. It also didn’t help that I started the program in the middle of the year. Everything was settled by the students on their own personal rankings by then. You would see in the classrooms which students were worth listening to and which created the most eye rolling (and there were a lot of eye rolling). I was the odd man out, the question mark in the class, and I could sense it.

Those writing classes could also be stressful and aggressive. Students would argue about each others’ works, some teachers would spur it on (maybe even weirdly enjoying it) while others did their best to try and keep some control over their classrooms. I wish I could say I played it smart in the early months, biding my time and getting the lay of the land.

That would be a lie though if I said that. Continue reading

Monsters, Vampires and Chewbacca: Some Halloween Posts

The author as Chewbecca... I'm behind Pac Man.So when I was a kid, my mom used to make me Halloween costumes (I’m the Chewbacca behind the Pac Man). They were really quite impressive. Sadly, I don’t have that skill, nor do I even try to pull something like that off. And it’s gotten to such a point that if I brought up the idea of a homemade Halloween costume, my kids would probably revolt.

…And there might be torches and pitchforks.

Which got me wondering, is something lost in not going to that trouble anymore? Yes, all of the kids walking around look exactly like their target, but has a bit of the heart been lost in the endeavor? Of course, if the kids have no idea of what I am talking about, maybe this is me just being grumpy.

Yeah, I’m probably just being grumpy.

HalloweenI mean, look at pumpkin carving these days. I like to do a simple face, but when you see all the tools and skills out there, well, I look lame. And telling the kids this was fine a few decades ago doesn’t cut it.

Okay, where was I? Halloween posts!

I’ve had the pleasure of being on WKAR’s Current State for three Halloween episodes now.  I’ve reviewed and talked about (with links):

Here are some other posts (with links too) I have written about one of my favorite holidays:

I hope you have a great holiday (with or without a handmade costume).


New WKAR Book Review: Dracula by Bram Stoker

Current StateThis is my third Halloween on WKAR’s Current State, and I decided to sink my teeth into Dracula by Bram Stoker. (I know… I know… bad joke. Sometimes I can’t help myself.)

You can listen to my review here: http://wkar.org/post/book-review-bram-stokers-dracula

If you would rather read my review, you can do so below.

Hey, did you know Current State has a podcast? If you subscribe, you can download episodes and segments (and you can find me every other Thursday). Here is a link to find it on iTunes- https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/wkar-fm-current-state/id594609653?mt=2

If you want to check out my other book reviews for WKAR’s Current State, you can do so via links on this page. Continue reading

Only a few days left to win the new novel, Permanent Spring Showers!

Mood-Paint-BrushTwo will win an AUTOGRAPHED copy!

“What a ride this book was! I can honestly say it was an inspiring novel, and very unique! With a cast of lively, artistic characters and a spin so hard it will leave your eyes wide and jaw hanging until the very last word.” -The Booknatics

“A tour de force.” -BooksChatter

Funny, Smart, Sexy, and very surprising, Permanent Spring Showers is my new work of literary fiction. Here is the back cover description:

Professor Rebecca Stanley-Wilson is having a very bad season. Her husband has just admitted to having an affair. And it was with one of her students.

Blame it on a desire for revenge (or way too much alcohol), she then has had one of her own. Unfortunately for her, her affair was with one of the great upcoming painters of his generation. The ramifications of that one torrid evening will not only be felt across her life but over the entire art world.

Permanent Spring Showers is the tale of one very memorable springtime and how it impacts a group of unique artists and dreamers. From the writer who is creating a new literary movement (through outright manipulation), to the hopeful Olympian with the failing marriage, to the romantic wondering what he did wrong to drive his love from him, each tale walks the line between reality and fantasy. And waiting at the end of the line is a very important painting… and possibly the revolver used in the Lincoln Assassination.

You can enter to win a copy via Goodreads by clicking below. The giveaway ends on October 28. Enter today!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Permanent Spring Showers by Scott D. Southard

Permanent Spring Showers

by Scott D. Southard

Giveaway ends October 28, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway


Five Things I Am Into Right Now, October 2015

Downton Abbey Season 3You always got the feeling that Julian Fellowes was winging it with Downton Abbey.

Oh, for the first season and the spectacular second season he knew exactly what he was aiming for and doing (I’ve written about the show a few times on this site, like here), but for all the years after that there was this general feeling (at least for me) of someone improving on a world stage. (“Do you like this? No? Maybe this? Okay, we’ll do this for a bit.”) And whenever he hits a roadblock, he jumps forward in time; like a reset button.

I’ve been watching the new season and while I felt everything after the second season was pretty weak, this final year is just… okay, I have to say, boring and lazy.

There. I said it. And I feel so better afterwards. Is Fellows so done with his juggernaut that he just wants it over? There is no real action or point so far to the season. He erases major plot points with a simple conversation (this is where the lazy bit comes in, things just happen and life moves on), and nothing really seems to move forward. Soap operas are not this bad. In a way, the show has almost become a parody of itself.

There are things I will always like about Downton Abbey (some of the characters, the period it is taking part) and things I will never understand (the series has jumped forward about 20 years since it’s beginning and no one has freaking aged!), but at least, for all its faults, it was in the hands of Fellows and he is a really good screenwriter.

Now, I just see him as a good screenwriter who is very tired. A lot of fans are going to be very disappointed. I hate to say it, but it’s true. Maybe the second half of the final season will erase my concerns, but right now I see it going out with something less than a grand whimper- a reluctant shrug.

Okay, onto five things I am actually enjoying right now. Continue reading

NEW WKAR Book Review: A Cure for Suicide by Jesse Ball

Current StateNew book review today on WKAR’s Current State. This time I take on the new literary fiction by Jesse Ball, A Cure for Suicide.

You can listen to my new review here: http://wkar.org/post/book-review-jesse-balls-cure-suicide

If you would rather read my review, you can do so below.

Hey, did you know Current State has a podcast? If you subscribe, you can download episodes and segments (and you can find me every other Thursday). Here is a link to find it on iTunes- https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/wkar-fm-current-state/id594609653?mt=2

If you would like to check out A Cure for Suicide (and you should) you can find it on Amazon here. If you want to check out my other book reviews for WKAR’s Current State, you can do so via links on this page. Continue reading

“Hey Jupiter” by Tori Amos

JupiterThis is the seventh in my “With Music” series, where I look back at a point in my life through a song.  The stories are diverse as the music I reference. The other entries included (with links to the posts) Ben Folds Five, Sheryl Crow, Beth Orton, Dean Martin, The Verve, and Barenaked Ladies.

There is a good chance that Jupiter was hit by lightning.

This happened when I was living in Los Angeles, which makes this story even more strange. For those that don’t know, when any kind of storm happens in LA, everyone freaks out. New stories are abound about car crashes and flooding. Growing up in the Midwest, you couldn’t help but see the overreaction as something rich for comedic possibilities. Heaven forbid, someone has to wear a rain coat. Can you believe it? What next? Snow and a winter jacket?

Cynicism aside, it was after one of those bizarre storms that I first noticed that something was wrong with Jupiter, my black Pontiac Grand Am.

Jupiter was not the first car I had owned on my own, it was my second. My first car was a cute little blue Pontiac that seemed to have a knack for getting in accidents. The first time I got in an accident with it, I was driving home from my job (with a college class scheduled for that night), when I slammed into the car in front of me. I was listening to They Might Be Giants at the time and you can actually hear the car crash on the tape.

It sounds like a hollow screech, almost as if someone with an owl interrupted a TMBG performance.

The accident was outside an Arby’s and I had to run across the street to the restaurant and call the cops (days before everyone had a cellphone). The teenager behind the counter looked put out by the fact they had to call 9-1-1. Personally, I couldn’t have cared less how they felt about it. I felt lucky to be alive. My car folded like a piece of paper and I saw my life flash before my eyes as that much-better made SUV got closer and closer to my face. I’m still alittle surprised I got out of that accident without a scratch or injury.

While waiting for a police car, to my surprise, one of my cousins pulled into the Arby’s and made some casual chit-chat about my very recent near-death experience.

“Hey, Scott, saw your car.”

“You mean the one in the middle of the road, flattened?”

“Yeah, wow. That is just… wow. So I thought I would stop in and see if you are okay.”

“I’m alive.”

“That’s great. Do you want me to tell your folks?”

“That I’m still alive? That would be nice.”

“Okay, see you later. I got to go, running some errands, but I’ll give them a call once I get home.”

Definitely one of the oddest little exchanges I have ever had in my life. Even the worker behind the counter thought it was weird and offered me a free soda.

I took the soda. Continue reading