Five Things I Am Into Right Now, August 2015

OpusThis is an odd time we live in, especially for us old-school nerds. Star Wars is back (and maybe without too much CGI), a new Ghostbusters film is being made, dinosaurs and terminators are in the movie theaters (not always a good thing, from what I hear). Beloved comic Bloom County is back and looking EXACTLY as it did during its heyday of the 1980s (even mocking Donald Trump who is probably going to win the Republican nomination). Then there is Harper Lee…

Harper Lee…

I reviewed Go Set a Watchman on WKAR (which you can read and hear here), and everyday I get more and more annoyed that it was ever published. I’ve even taken to reading reviews of people that give it good reviews to try and find some way to justify it beside the money. They all take the same tact to their argument- Well, if you consider the time she was writing and this is only an early draft and, my favorite, if you look at it as a piece of history. No, it’s not a piece of history! It was released by the publisher as a sequel (!) to To Kill a Mockingbird. And they did not push it as a “growth” piece, a chance to see the evolution of Lee as a writer. Everything they did was to present it as a follow-up, the continuing story of Scout and Atticus. Heck, even Reese Witherspoon did the audiobook! You don’t call a major actress in to do an audiobook of some kind of little historical literary oddity.

I don’t want to join the speculation on whether Harper Lee wanted this book published or not. But there are two points that always seem to come up for me. 1., If she wanted this published, why didn’t she try to find it in the 60s, the 70s, or the 80s. Why now? 2. As an author, I have many things I have worked on that I wouldn’t want published. Yes, they have a beginning, middle, and  end, but that doesn’t mean they are publishable.

Frankly, Go Set a Watchman destroyed an American classic and if I was the editor I would have burned that copy before releasing it. Yeah, I would’ve taken the bullet and gone down in history as the guy who destroyed a Lee manuscript. And I would have done it proudly. The ironic thing about this is, yes, the publisher and Lee (well, her lawyer who oversees her finances) are making truckloads of money, they have destroyed a cash cow. Mark my words, in ten years To Kill a Mockingbird will no longer be a bestseller or even taught in schools. Go Set a Watchman will destroy the yearly flow they expect from Mockingbird. It won’t happen right away, but it will happen.

Okay, that is all very doom and gloom of me. Let’s talk about happier things, because it is August and summer. Here’s one…

Window to the Magic

Window to the MagicAnyone that follows my site, knows that I am a Disneyland fan. I’ve written posts about it quite a few times. Heck, one of my favorite blogposts ever on this site was about my last trip to the park (which you can read here). Well, recently, I’ve discovered a podcast of fans that make me feel like a newbie.

Window to the Magic (here)  has been making episodes for over 10 years and in each episode they basically go to the park. They walk around, they take the occasional ride, they bump into other DL fans, and they make audio recordings as they do it.. Basically, they live the dream once a week. And with headphones on, we join them.

As a fan of the park, the show is almost hypnotic, I can lose hours listening to the podcast, closing my eyes and imagining myself there. Wondering about the snippets of conversations I hear from the park guests, listening for the sounds of the different rides as Paul Barrie (who is the main guru) and his friends walk past. And, man, do Paul (who sounds like possibly the nicest guy in the world) and his friends know everything. They even pointed me to a book I’ve been loving about the park (Sam Gennawey’s The Disneyland Story which seems to do everything I wished a book on the park would do). So if you are a DL fan like me, I highly recommend the podcast. You can find them on their site or on iTunes.

Now, if I could put in a request, I would love to hear Toy Story Midway Mania! (My kids favorite ride when we last went), and the Indiana Jones ride (which was sadly down during my last visit, and my favorite)… Oh, and you could also throw Pirates in. Pirates is amazing! Or Haunted Mansion! I have a Hatbox Ghost shirt and he is back in the park and…

Broadchurch, Season Two

BroadchurchOkay, I know most of the world has seen the second season of this show, but don’t tell me! I’m on episode four and I’m really intrigued to see where this season is going. It definitely feel very different. In the first season, the town was just as much a character as the people in it, but this time there is so much going on, we really aren’t along those same streets and shores very often. This is new.

Now how do I recap this? The first season of Broadchurch (the English version) followed one murder and the impact it had on a community. This second season is the aftermath, with a trial in full swing and another murder case from the past rearing its ugly head.

Granted, I’m only on episode four, but I think there is a chance that David Tennant’s detective Alec Hardy might be one of the worst out there. Oh, we want to believe he is a great detective because Mr. Tennant was once Doctor Who, but, man, he seems to make a lot of mistakes.

It’s just really fun to be watching a story unfold and not really be certain where the writer is going. This is very rare for me, since usually I can see things coming a mile away. Also, I love the way the writer is able to sneak humor in, especially at the wrong moments between the wrong characters. If you haven’t experienced Broadchurch, I highly recommend the experience. Just be prepared to lose a lot of evenings watching it.

Phineas and Ferb

Phineas and FerbForget the hype. Forget the shirts, toys, CDs and DVDs. Forget it all.

At its heart, Phineas and Ferb was a carefully written, very witty, fast-paced TV show and one of the few things that could consistently make me laugh out loud. The show felt spontaneous (even though I’m sure it was anything but that to create), always packing a lot (including a musical number) into a little space of time.

I want to back up here and say I’m a comedy snob. So don’t think this is some Disney fanboy thing (really, I’m more about some of the classic films and definitely the park- see above). When I say a comedy show has earned my respect, that means they really earned it. This is not being said lightly. From musical numbers about squirrels in the pants to being controlled by a platypus under the table, this show could always bring a smile on my face.

When I first heard the creators were ending the series, I did grieve. Yet, it was the right decision of the show and fit perfectly with the theme of it, which is claim this time, seize the day while it is here. So many episodes are about how fast summer comes and goes (including our youth), and like that season even a great show like this has to come to an end.

The last episode aired a few months ago and it was a wonderful heartfelt way to go out (and a fun send-up of the classic film Groundhog’s Day). I’m going to miss this show, but especially Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz. Characters like him don’t come around that often. (Honestly, I almost quoted Antony’s speech from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar right here, but stopped myself at the last minute.)

Final Fantasy X/X-2 HR Remaster

Final Fantasy XThis was my reward. Recently, I finished writing a new novel and I promised myself after I completed it I would unwind with a game. Instead of jumping into the new Batman game, I turned to one of my all-time favorites.

Final Fantasy X was released as a remastered version with beautiful new graphics and a new soundtrack. It is pretty much the game we all played over a decade ago but now just so much more shiny. I think I’ve beaten this game over three times, easily that. The tale of the doomed hero Tidus, and the land of Spira, haunted by a giant creature named Sin is a great fantasy tale. It is rich in mythology. There is nothing ordinary in this adventure. If this was a book, it would be analyzed and broken down in high school English classroom as students debate motives and symbolism. It is that good a tale.

This game is one of the reasons I would love to write a video game someday.  It is like a new toybox full of toys was just discovered for us storytellers and I’m itching to get in there.

The game also comes with the sequel (X-2), which is a lighter work as compared to the first. It’s an okay game, but struggles to live up to the standard of the first. In many ways, I wish the sequel wasn’t made, but there you go.

Now, if we can get Square Enix to remake Final Fantasy VIII my video game life would be complete.

Yoga With Tim

Yoga with TimMy wife and I have begun to do yoga together in the evenings when we get a chance (usually this is dictated to us by our little children’s sleeping habits). Our current favorite to turn to is Yoga With Tim via youtube. You can check out his sessions here-

We went through a few different instructors before we found Tim Senesi (his official website). His workouts go from 30 minutes to almost an hour and many times he is outside (which is always fun with a passerby enters the screen). What I particularly like is how rich each video is (even those he creates to pinpoint different problem spots). Yes, there are the standard poses, but there are also moments that challenge me (Man, I can’t stand on my head) and definitely things to work for, wanting to turn and reach just that extra inch. He just has a nice pace to his workouts, building up and then slowing down. In the end, when we are calming down afterwards, it feels so fulfilling. You earn it with Tim.

It is all very soul enriching stuff and free through the generosity of Tim. You should check him out on Youtube.

New book! New book! New book!Permanent Spring Showers

My latest novel Permanent Spring Showers was just published by 5 Prince Books. You can find out more about my novel as well as my other books (including A Jane Austen Daydream and My Problem With Doors) and grab a copy via my author page on here.

Need an editor? Dream of finishing that book but need some help? Learn about my editing services by visiting this page on my site. Or you can contact Rebecca T. Dickson and request to work with me by clicking the image below.

Rebecca T. Dickson, Editor

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