10 Things That Prove I Am Getting Old

Father Time1. Sometimes the movies in the movie theater are just too gosh-darn loud!

2. I don’t like emoji’s. I don’t find them cute or humorous. I find them annoying and I’m always sure the sender could have easily typed words in the amount of time it took them to find the blasted image.

3. I rap along with The Beastie Boys each time they come up on my iPhone.

4. I have The Beastie Boys on my iPhone.

5. The idea of virtual reality scares me. (Not because of the technology, it’s just that it is one more thing that will emphasize to me how little I have done in my life and how unimportant I am.)

6. When I read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, for the first time, I related more to the grownups then the kids. Don’t those blasted kids know they are dealing with powerful dark magic! What were they thinking? No dinner! Go to your room!

7. I still think of YouTube as a new thing.

8. I still think of Twitter as a new thing.

9. I was excited about Bloom County coming back… and then had to explain to everyone exactly what Bloom County was.

10. I have a blog

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Book Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany

Yes, I devoured the new Harry Potter book in less than two hours. Here is my review with only MINOR SPOILERS.

On my book review page, you can find the reviews I have done on WKAR as well as reviews I have done on the site over the last three years. Almost 80 different books, contemporary to classic, genre to literary fiction. I hope you will check them out. 

If you are interested in reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (and you sholud be) you can find it on amazon here

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry PotterWhen the war is over and the last battle has been won, we like our heroes to ride off into the sunset. They have earned the peace.  Of course, the snag with that earned peace is that there is nothing more to say. Plain and simple, you need conflict for a story. A hero without an adventure to back him up is just any old normal dude… even when he has a cool lightning bolt scar on his forehead.

After the epic seven years that span the Harry Potter series, our young hero definitely earned a break. He had lost family, friends, and heroes in his quest to destroy the evil he-who-must-not-be-named, Lord Voldemort.  When we last saw Harry he was older, saying goodbye to his two sons on Platform 9 3/4  and watching as they race off to start their own studies at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. To emphasize the story was done, even his scar was just a scar.

Yet, we can’t let our young boy who grew up under the stairs go. We gave him almost twenty years of peace, it’s time for some wizarding action. Wands out! Just released, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling (with John Tiffany and Jack Thorne) is something a little different and still the same. This is the continuing story of our boy wizard and he is dealing with something many parents deal with, a conflicted and jaded teenager. Continue reading

Catch up on the new online book- Uses of this World

Hamlet Illustrated ClassicGreetings readers!

Why we all wait for the new Harry Potter book and tickets for Hamilton (seriously, I can’t wait to see that show, I’m addicted to the soundtrack), I’ve been working on a brand new novel online.

As I said in this opening discussion about it (here), it is an incredibly snobby enterprise. Prove it? I’m trying to reimagine my own version of Hamlet.

I know, I know…  Hamlet… Shakespeare… there is a chance there might be some eye rolling going on right now over the internet. But if I do this right, it should be a very engaging and interesting book with no prior knowledge of the Bard needed.

Denmark, 1926. The world is on a powder keg, the old world is in conflict with the new, still recovering from World War I. Jazz and flappers. Cocktails and parties. In this tumultuous time, the king of Denmark is found dead… but his spirit is not at rest.

This new book, Uses of this World, will be created here online, and I will be putting up a new chapter each time they are ready. Just this week I shared Chapter 3, finally getting up to the first scene in my favorite play.

Why not take this moment to catch up?

Here are three links to the first entries in this new writing experiment. I hope you will give it a try. I’m really enjoying the work and the process around it.

Please, Make It Stop: A Rant About Game of Thrones

DragonAvast there, me hearties! Here thar be spoilers aplenty! (Wait! It’s not Talk Like a Pirate day? What was I thinking?)

Let’s get this out of the way first. We’ve all been holding off saying this for a while, but it’s time.

Game of Thrones is a soap opera.

I don’t know about you, but I feel a lot better after saying it.

I’ve recently found an interview with George R.R. Martin where he argues his book series is not a soap opera, maybe it was his way of preparing an argument before it came at him from outside his circle, but it is. Both the TV series and his book series… two words… soap opera.

Look, I hate to say it as much as the next person. The idea of someone truly doing something new in a very established (and usually predictable genre) is an awesome idea. He combined the history of the middle ages and fantasy… but the result is a freaking soap opera. With history almost being used as an excuse (or as a resource) for twists that help the soap opera continue.

Consider:

  • Soap operas and A Song of Ice and Fire both has multiple POVs of good and questionable individuals.
  • Both end every moment in a cliffhanger (You can almost hear the “stay tuned” at the end of some of the chapters in the books).
  • Both have meandering plots (I feel like I should be capitalizing meandering; no seriously, all caps).
  • Time seems to have its own rules. And both have marriages that seem to last for the same amount of time (and just like in soap operas most are bad matches).
  • And both are not working towards a clean resolution. There is no Mount Doom in sight from what I can see.

Oh, and all of these points is before I even bring up the fact that George R.R. Martin used to work in television and was a writer on a popular fantasy-lite soap opera in the 1980s.

Game of Thrones is a soap opera with people in funny costumes and dragons and we have bought into it.

Heck, I didn’t just buy in, I bought the DVDs, the books, the shirts and even gave them as Birthday presents to people I love. (I was like: “Hi, I love cocaine, I want you to take it too. Here- Happy Birthday!”) Continue reading

Banned Books Week 2014

Books! Everywhere! Books!Wouldn’t it be neat if we had a week to celebrate Shakespeare? A week when everyone was to read Charles Dickens or Mark Twain? A day even when everyone was supposed to talk like a character in a Jane Austen novel (as compared to a pirate)?

Nah, we book lovers get Banned Books Week. Where all of us book readers get to shake our heads collectively and wonder what others are thinking. The funny thing is most people that try to ban a book don’t actually read the book in question. A few years ago there was one protestor who strived to get Harry Potter banned from her school library. It made national news. She was discussed on all the Potter forums. What we discovered later is that she had never read Harry Potter and was worried it would drive kids to Satanism.

I don’t even know where I would start if I was to have an argument with such a perspective.

My grandmother used to be a member of her local library board. The reason she would give for being on the board was to fight people trying to ban books from the shelves. She was the voice of reason in a very conservative community and she kept up her end of the battle long after Parkinson’s made her life difficult. She will always be one of my heroes.

Last year on WKAR, I gave a commentary on their daily radio show Current State about Banned Books Week. Here is an excerpt from the beginning:

The playwright Anton Chekov has this great rule for writing a play. To summarize it, if a gun appears in the first act, it has to go off by the last act.

What Chekov is tapping into is that a gun is threatening, a gun can kill. An audience remembers it is there, and each and every playgoer expects that sooner or later, for better or worse it will be fired. I remember once I saw a production of “Hamlet” by the Royal Shakespeare Company, and they showed Hamlet with a gun in the first act. He carried it in his coat wherever he went on that stage, his concealed weapon, and we always knew it was there, expecting it sooner or later to cause destruction. Because a gun will always be fired, fictional or real, and there are always consequences for one being around.

The funny thing is, there are pockets in our country where people feel more at ease with guns than books.

You can listen to my complete thoughts (or read them) via this link.  I will be appearing on the show again this week, but this time to discuss the importance of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, another fighter in this literary battle. I hope you will check it out.

Well, if this is the only holiday people will give us book lovers, we might as well make the most out of it. Decorate your books shelves with garland, start a book club, pick up that classic you never got around to finishing, turn off the TV, and… most importantly… read, everyone, read.

Happy Holiday!

Five Things I Am Into Right Now, July 2014

Scooby GangThis might as well be called my month of nerd. With the continuously releasing news about Star Wars Episode 7, Doctor Who, The Hobbit, and everyone else fantastical, I’m in many ways in nerd heaven. Heck, I even thought the last season of Game of Thrones was the best one so far (which I wrote about here)! And there have even been rumblings about Indiana Jones!

Now, here is the thing that has been obsessing me more than any other (possibly making me a king of the nerds)- I’ve got an idea for a Scooby-Doo movie.

You know how they seem to release one to two direct-to-video Scooby-Doo cartoon each year? Some are great (and I have seen them all, so I can judge), some are okay and some are frankly bad (for example, when Shaggy sings a love song to his alien girlfriend). Well, I have an idea/plot/synopsis for a Scooby-Doo cartoon movie and it is doozy.

I’m not joking! I have an idea for a Scooby-Doo animated movie and it would be freaking great!

The trick (and it is a big trick) is figuring out how (and who) to throw my synopsis at. You see I would love to write this script (and it wouldn’t take me long), I just need to know if it would be read before I go to the trouble of doing it. So here I sit, twiddling my thumbs trying to figure out exactly how someone gets a message into the world of WB Animation. Seriously, I have no clue.

Now before anyone worries, I won’t be changing anything we know about Scooby-Doo if this script is picked up and the beats we all expect in his stories. I don’t want to break the mold; I just want to create a fun adventure in that world. Also, as a parent of two little kids who are obsessed with Scooby-Doo, it would be really great to do something like that for them.

“Hey kids, guess what? Your dad wrote a Scooby-Doo movie. Want to watch it?”

Oh, these are all just dreams, I get that. Without contacts or an agent (who works specifically with writers around this) to go to WB Animation and pitch the idea, it will only be a fun daydream. I just can’t help but dream… dream of Scooby Snacks and pizzas covered in ice cream, anchovies, pickles, hamburgers, and salami, that is.

Now on to my very nerdy list for this month! Continue reading

My Lost Years in Trucking (Part 2)

full moonThis is part 2, part 1 can be found here.

We were the shadow people.

The lost boys and girls. The six of us who worked third shift were not invited to meetings or parties. No one sung Happy Birthday to us or bought us a cake. We were the forgotten souls that haunted the trucking halls after everyone went home. Yes, I know what it is like to be a ghost.

There was a certain level of mad freedom that came with working this late shift. For all of the rules were nonexistent for us. They disappeared in a poof of smoke once the day people left to continue their real lives.

  • No internet? Sure (until the boss left).
  • No music? Of course (until the last car drove away).
  • Scheduled breaks and lunches? Yes (whatever).

Before I began this job I used to consider myself a good worker, trustworthy. But when thrown in an occupation I had no interest in, I seemed to be a lot more questionable than I ever imagined myself to be. It seems I am somewhat a rebel. James Dean. Marlon Brando. Go figure.

We did have a supervisor, but we rarely saw him. There was a good reason for this actually. He was having an affair at the time and checking in with us was one of his excuses for meeting up with his mistress. I never had to answer a call and make an excuse to his wife (who, by the way, was home with a baby), but other employees did. If I did ever get his wife on the phone, I am almost a hundred percent sure I would have told her.

The mistress was a secretary from the day shift, and oddly in that office this affair was not too surprising for me the longer I was there. Right from the first day sitting with Marian I could sense the amount of flirting going on around. In many ways it was like an uninhibited high school. No teachers or parents here to tell you no! And we night owls knew everyone’s secrets. Continue reading

On WKAR: Talking About Banned Books Week

Current StateI did something a little different this week in my appearance on WKAR’s Current State. Instead of sharing a new book review, I decided to take on the idea of Banned Books Week. I try to explain both sides of the issue, and offer my option for tackling “unwanted” books.  I’m pretty proud of this piece, I hope you will check it out.

You can listen to my discussion via this link- http://wkar.org/post/book-review-banned-books-week

If you would rather read my commentary, you can do so below after the jump. And you can learn more about Banned Books Week via a site by the American Library Association (here). Continue reading

Why I Don’t Like Fan Fiction

BooksThere is a beautiful safety in books. In that time, when you are in a great novel, your focus is clear, and reality can gracefully slips away, leaving you to play in the imagination of the author. You walk with the characters, you explore the land, you fall in (and out of) love, and when the book is closed, a bit of you feels lost, returning to the too real world.

The sad thing is that when you return to a book again it is never the same. That initial spark is diminished. This is because the surprises are gone, and with each additional reading it slips more and more; until it is nothing more than words on paper, something to be almost merely analyzed. It is a memory now, a glimmer of that first magical escape.

The fact is I understand the desire to create fan fiction. As a lover of books and an author, I truly do.

It’s hard to let go, move on, especially if you want more than what the author wanted to give to you. It can feel like an early death, especially when there is so much more to live. And maybe it is that book, that author, that inspired you to write yourself! Your inspiration driven from a need for more and more.

The problem is at the heart of every piece of fan fiction there is one bit of truth, one thing the fan fiction author doesn’t want to consider:

It is not their decision whether the story continues or not.

They are not the author and only the original author should make that call. Continue reading

New WKAR Book Review: The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)

Current StateI have a new book review on WKAR’s Current State this week! This time it is for the new J.K. Rowling novel The Cuckoo’s Calling, which she wrote under the pen name of Robert Galbraith.

You can listen to my radio review via this link- http://wkar.org/post/book-review-jk-rowlings-cuckoos-calling

If you would like to purchase a copy of The Cuckoo’s Calling or learn more about it, you can do so on Amazon here.

A transcript of my review is included as well below. Continue reading