I am suffering the case of the blahs. Oh, this is not a bad thing related to my life or anything, this is related to books. I’ve done the book reviews for my local NPR station now for over a year and half. That is over 30 books. (You can listen and read my reviews via the links on this page of my site.)
See, I’m struggling through a book review by a very popular author. Some people will love the book, I am certain; others will hate it. Me, I’m just mildly disappointed and that is what gives me the blahs.
Let me start this over… I love writing a good book review. There is nothing more fun for me as a reviewer than breaking down a good book, introducing it to a listener/reader and discussing why the high points are the high points. Talking about good books is my soapbox and I like being on it, thank you very much!
I am not Dorothy Parker. She used to take a glee in writing a bad review. Me, I find it disappointing. I can do it certainly, and they are easy to do, but they do not give me pleasure. Also, I like to say more than simply “I don’t like it.” I go out of my way to explain why something doesn’t work. Okay, this could be argued as a second soapbox, but not as big or important as the other one.
But there are no soapboxes when the book is a blah, middle-of-the road, half-a-shoulder-shrug. In a way, I see this blah around me in the environment too, as all the days are gray and getting colder. Of course, the review will be written in a week or so and my life will go on. I can’t guarantee anything regarding the weather.
Let’s move on to happier thoughts! Here are the five things I think are awesome right now. Continue reading
Okay, let’s get this out of the way first. I’m not sure what I think about the new Doctor on Doctor Who.
Yes, I get why they cast Peter Capaldi, he is in an interesting choice with a vibe very different from Matt Smith and David Tennant. It’s a fresh choice. (I’m still not a fan of Clara, but really it would be hard for anyone to follow Amy, Rory, and River. It’s a pretty high bar.)
This maybe all because I thought the direction of the first two episodes felt off. A lot of people were excited to have Ben Wheatley direct the first two episodes (again a fresh choice), but there is a certain “buy in” that I didn’t feel in those two episodes. It almost (and this may seem cruel) felt like a fan’s version of Doctor Who, not truly capturing the spirit and energy of the show.
It was Doctor Who, it just didn’t feel like Doctor Who.
Oh, who knows? Maybe I am just bitter since Matt Smith is off the show and he was in many ways my Doctor. In a few episodes I might be singing a different tune (and I have no problem admitting when I am wrong).
You know, whatever happens, even if I get so out of it that I walk away from the show for a few seasons, it doesn’t mean I stop being a Doctor Who fan. I will still rewatch the seasons I love. For example, I still consider myself a Star Trek fan, even though I didn’t watch a single episode of Enterprise (did you hear that theme song?) and I thought the last film contradicted a lot of Star Trek norms (like, for example, remember when it was a big deal when Voyager could land on a planet? I guess the Enterprise could do that decades earlier.).
Let’s move on to more pleasant stuff than my possible science-fiction nerd disappointment. Here are five things for September. Continue reading
Talking to a mechanic or a car dealer is like talking to a Dr. Seuss character for me. Seriously, they could say anything and I would believe it.
The fop-whistle on the groaning plate is off by three particles.
Sure, I reply and nod.
Apparently, the peanut butter cup pancakes at Denny’s are only good in theory.
Who designs their menu? Is it just a bunch of guys debating over beers? This is how I imagine the discussion of their “master chefs” in the corporate offices:
“Should we add more chocolate chips?”
“Good idea, people love chocolate (Burp).”
It’s been over 20 years since I have been in a marching band, so why is it that I still walk in tempo?
AND when I try not to walk in tempo a part of my brain seems to revolt in disgust. I just can’t do it. It feels like a success and a failure all at the same time. Continue reading
Every year, I like to stop and take a look at my life and the year that just was. And one of the great things about having a blog is it makes it quite easy to do just that! I get all of the highs and the lows, they are all there in easy to read formatting… sometimes even with cute pictures.
How did I feel about being a parent or on a child’s birthday, it is there. It’s like a personal photo album, but it is available for all to share. I just hope I am not that annoying friend who is showing you slides of their last family outing. That is the blogger nightmare, I guess.
Looking back, 2013 has been a great year for me. I finished writing a new novel (Permanent Spring Showers), I had two very well-reviewed books published (A Jane Austen Daydream and Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare), and I continued to watch this blog and my writing grow. Over the course of the year, my blog gained 600 new subscribers (now having over 1000) and my digits are higher on all of my other social media platforms. It all almost calls for champagne.
Okay, I don’t like champagne. Seriously, I’m a light drinker. It is almost embarrassing. It makes my patient wife laugh how little I can handle. And when I do order drinks they come with funny straws and too much chocolate. I’m not James Bond, but I wish I was. I also threw up once in college after drinking goldschalger. You remember a moment like that, trust me. I kept drunkenly thinking, “There is gold everywhere! Look at all the money!”
For those new to my blog, or those who are catching up, here are my six favorite posts from the last year. If you have already read the articles, I have included a new afterthought to each. Something for everyone… about me. Enjoy! Continue reading
Thanksgiving bothers me.
Last year, I wrote a post on the holiday where I summed up all of my feelings around it (You can find that piece here). I wrote about how odd it is to see Woodstock eat another bird in the Charlie Brown special for the holiday and I did this deep thing about how maybe we should reconsider the holiday; as compared to the starting mark for Black Friday. In other words, a typical Southard post.
Well, that post did some good numbers on the site, so I thought it might be fun to take it on again… So I thought… and thought… and then banged my head on my keyboard. Seriously, I have nothing else to say about the holiday. Nothing. Nada. Zip. I then considered just reblogging that post, but I already did that once before. As Charlie Brown would scream “Argh!”
This year my wife is making the turkey for the first time. I’ll probably attempt to watch some of the Macy parade with my kids (which always seems to have more commercials than floats). I’m not a football dude, never have been. I think that goes back to a memory I have of one of my cousins tackling me which knocked the air out of me. After that I rarely showed interest in the sport. I was done. So I’ll watch the kids, help my wife when I can in the kitchen, and countdown the days until I can write about Christmas.
I always have something to say about that holiday.
Here are my five things that interest me this November. Continue reading
As an adult, it takes a certain amount of courage to put on a costume. Let me correct that… it takes a certain amount of courage and alcohol to put on a costume.
A costume draws people’s eyes towards you almost like being on a stage except it’s more personable. There isn’t the protective separation because of spotlight and distance. It’s real, you are a dude dressed up and they can see you… and talk to you.
I have always been impressed with people that have the strength to put on a costume. I look at them with a certain amount of awe, even those that attempt the cheaper creations. Of course, there is nothing like a great one though. For example, there is a woman down the street that on Halloween will dress-up as the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz and she has the look and cackle down perfectly. It can take a fan’s breath away… and also instinctively take two steps back in fright.
For me, I never feel more like an introvert than at this time of the year. I go into my shell as I hand out candies; always being sure to give a little bit more to the kids who look truly great.
Oh wait, does that make me a bad person? The fact I judge a kid’s costumes and award accordingly?
Actually the more I think about it, the more I am embarrassed I admitted that. Because even those in a bad costume are braver than me at that moment. But if I was to dress up… Continue reading
One of the films I loved growing up was Back to the Future. I’ve owned the trilogy a few different times now, and have the current version on Blu-Ray. I believe I bought it that opening week when it came out. Yeah, I’m one of those kind of collectors. I like things fresh off the shelves like fruits and vegetables.
Well, a few years ago I was reading an interview with one of the creators. To be honest, I can’t remember if it was Robert Zemeckis or one or the producers or writers, but the speaker complained about the importance of greed in the film. If he had a chance to go back, he argued, he would have made it more about family as compared to the acquisition of possessions at the end.
In other words, Marty’s family didn’t have to be rich and successful and Marty didn’t need the sweet new truck. Just getting his family back together should have been enough.
Being a child of the 80’s, this idea kind of blew my mind. And between you and me, I feel like Marty had earned that truck… but now as a dad trying to imagine a better world for my kids, I side with that speaker. I would like my kids to see it that way. Marty won without the truck.
Yet, with 40 fast approaching, I seem to be finding comfort in some of my possessions. They help me turn off my brain, focus my thoughts. And, in a way, define my journey up to this point and where I would like to see myself go. Of course, being the blogger I am, I have written about most of these things before. So I will link to an original post and then give you an update on where I am now. Therapy? Partially. Helpful? Definitely. These are my sanity as I step slowly towards this halfway mark… Continue reading
Recently, I had the pleasure to be interviewed by The Booknatics about my new book A Jane Austen Daydream. They also shared some of their thoughts on the work, which I found very flattering. You can read the interview and their thoughts on my latest novel here.
Here is part of my reply to a question about the process of creating the book:
Honestly, it took many years before I even had the courage to write the book! For a long time, A Jane Austen Daydream was my Mount Everest, and I would jump to any other project than take it on. It was my wife that argued for me to get on with it, believing wholeheartedly in the project and idea. She definitely earned the dedication in it! I read a few biographies, of course, but I wanted Jane’s own stories and words to direct the plot and the characters and the dialogue. So while I have people from her actual life in it, when it came to mapping the book out, it was definitely more fiction than fact in the end. And then I had to put some of my own plot points in so even the Austenites would be surprised.
(On a side note, one of the fun questions I had to answer was who I would cast to play Jane Austen if the book was ever made into a TV mini-series or a movie. While I am still happy with the two actresses I reference in the article, I want to add a new name; my new first choice for Jane- Catrin Stewart. For those that watch Doctor Who, she plays Jenny Flint and definitely would make a phenomenal Miss Austen.)
You can read the interview here. If you would like to learn more about A Jane Austen Daydream, you can do so on this page for the book (here). A Jane Austen Daydream is available via Amazon (here), where you can find it for the low price of $3.99 for eBook and $13.46 for print.
I’m not going to write about Star Trek and Doctor Who.
No I am serious. I am not. Frankly, I have written enough about those two shows. And even though I am happily watching a Doctor Who episode each night with my wife (which I wrote about here) and rediscovering Star Trek from the 90’s (which I discussed in these two pieces- here and here). The fact is I have said enough.
A blog needs to move forward, I need to move forward…
But what the heck am I also into right now when I am not at the beach with the family, getting sun burned, or avoiding lawn work?
Think, Southard, think! Continue reading