For over a year I have had trouble falling asleep.
There are many things I can point to as possible blames for my restless evenings. Three jump quickly to mind.
The obvious one, and the one we probably all share, is the 2016 election and what happened afterwards. For more information on that, tune in to NPR on any day (or hour).
The second is more personal. With my writing, I’m still trying to figure out what to do with my latest book (which I believe is probably the best original fiction I will ever create). It’s a very unique position, where each reader (agent or publisher) says it is important, some even say they love it, but it has yet to find a home. It’s like being the nice guy in high school; everyone wants to be its friend, but no one wants to date it.
The third one is I changed jobs last year. While I am very happy with the results of that experience (and it turned out to be a very good thing for me), everything around those stressful months still wears on me.
I wouldn’t say all of this is dramatic enough to call it PTSD, but it does linger in the gut sometimes at around 11 o’clock when my entire family is asleep and a part of me feels like I need to stay awake to keep an eye on all of them. I don’t have time to sleep. It feels like a luxury I don’t get right now.
I’ve tried a few tricks to fall asleep. The first was I got a sound machine, one of those devices that can do the sound of rain or thunderstorm, etc. (Strangely many of them just make me feel like I have to use the bathroom.)
The sounds did work for about a month and then my nine-year-old son discovered it, and I have not seen it since. It lives in his bedroom now, and while I am struggling to fall asleep he is experiencing a peaceful summer night with crickets.
Analyzing myself (which I love to do), overall, I need to put my mind in a sense of peace and harmony. Give myself the “okay” to fall asleep. Just lying in silence doesn’t do that for me. Reality bears down too much in the quiet moments.
…Strangely what has been working has been solving mysteries with literature’s greatest detective. Continue reading →
“…a cross between Monty Python, the Marx Brothers, and the Airplane movies.” — Bennet Pomerantz, AudioWorld, January 2002
My comedy radio series The Dante Experience is now available to listen to directly via my site! Actually, the buttons right below. (I know you see them.) How cool is that?
Inspired by Monty Python and Douglas Adams, The Dante Experience (winner of the Golden Headset, and many other radio competitions) was produced by Mind’s Ear Audio Productions. I am really proud of this mad little series. I hope you will press play. (You know you want to.)
You can learn more about my series on The Dante 3page. If you would like to order a copy of the series, you can do so via the catalog for Mind’s Ear (here).
Yesterday, my subscription list passed the 1200 mark!
So very cool! I hope each of you visiting this site continue to enjoy my writing. And I have a lot planned over the next few months, including a new book I hope to share over the summer.
I decided I wanted to do something different to celebrate this new milestone for my site. As some of my older followers know I used to do a lot of writing around radio drama. I’ve had quite a few radio comedy plays performed by different radio companies and I have even had a 10-episode radio comedy series produced. It was called The Dante Experience and was heard on a few NPR stations around this country. (You can learn more about the series and listen to all of the episodes on this page.)
One of my favorite comedies I have written for radio though has never been performed. It is called “The Classic Geography Club” and, as you will see, is VERY influenced by the work of Monty Python and Firesign Theatre. You can check it out exclusively below!
I hope you enjoy “The Classic Geography Club” and thank you for following my site!
A few months ago the CD player in my car stopped working. I put a disc in, it shoots it back out.
Yes? No! Yes? No! Yes? No!
It is like arguing with a two-year old and losing each and every freaking time.
Now, I’m not a car dude. I’m one of those kind of people that don’t see a vehicle as some kind of a mark of success, it is a tool, and, if given the option, I would drive a car until the last wheel fell off. Honestly, I just don’t care. I think the only time I have ever drooled over an automobile was when I saw an ad for the new Honda Odyssey. Not because it looked smart. No, I liked it because it came with a vacuum cleaner. With two little kids that sounded awesome! Goodbye to all those fruit snacks! I could vacuum anytime I wanted!
Every day I need to drive my son to his school, which is about a 25-minute drive. And while I would love to just listen to NPR the entire way there and back, I can’t. My six-year old hears everything and there is a lot on that I just don’t want to explain to him. For example, yesterday while getting out of the car he said, “Boy, there are a lot of wars going on, isn’t there?”
Ah… yeah… there certainly are… damn…
So, for those moments when NPR goes a little “bleak,” I’ve begun exploring the dial, switching to the local music stations. What I’ve discovered though is something akin to a time capsule.
Yes, these stations are glimpses of some other time, but where exactly those other times took place, I can’t say. Continue reading →
I can quote John Keats, I have good chunks of Hamlet memorized, and I once wrote a fictional book about Jane Austen (really I did, check it out). Seriously, they rarely get more English Majorally than me.
I get that there is little a person can do with such a degree. With my added MFA in Creative Writing, I live it. We teach (creating more English Majors and creative writers in the process) or we attempt to write or we edit the work of others, possibly those more successful. That’s pretty much it. We are part of an ever-growing cycle that doesn’t fit in the business world at large. No one in a financial board room has ever shouted “Quick! Get me an English Major! This report is missing symbolism!”
Yet, each week, Garrison Keillor on A Prairie Home Companion brings forward the “lunacy” of the idea of being an English Major and mocks it. Just listen to the audience laugh each time Garrison steps forward to help someone in a skit or woo by saying he is an “English Major.” Laugh, audience, laugh.
Ever since he has started this running gag, I’ve had to use fake smiles when people bring it up to me (and they do all the time). Everyone is in on this “joke,” and we that love literature and books are the brunt of it. It is at our expense. So this would be my first negative for Garrison.
Why is it wrong or a joke for people to want to study and spend their lives around something that they love (books)? Yes, business major, for example, would have the best potential for success, but that is if you only define success in financial terms. Most of us that go into the arts don’t do that. Is this counter to the American dream of big houses and multiple cars and that is why people laugh at us as if we are foolish? Whatever the case, as a writer and lover of books, Garrison should be on our side. Not on the side of the other majors, presenting us as foolish.
Oh, and this also goes for librarians too. Since he seems to mock that field just as much and plays off of the stereotypes of them. Yeah, I’m going to give him a second negative for that. (So far he is at negative 2.)
I took Latin when I was in school for three years, between 7th and 9th grade. I was drawn to the classes, not because of it being a gateway to other languages, but more because of its literary history. See, by this point, I was reading everything I could get my hands on, and usually my focus was on the classics, not what typical junior high kids were devouring. “No, thank you. You can keep your Stephen King, I’m re-reading Hemingway this week.”
Latin was a tie to great mythology, it was a connection to those random quotes in a novel that I had no idea what was being said. In a literary sense, it felt like the opportunity to dig around the base of a tree and see the root underneath.
The teacher of the classes was Mr. Black, and looking back over those three years with him I still can’t put my finger really on his personality. He could go up and down pretty quickly, did he like to teach or hate it? Did he even like us or hate us? Now I almost wonder if he was bipolar, and that could explain the oddness of the experience. (He would also show us I, Claudius in class, if you can believe it. He would run up with a big piece of paper to cover up the screen whenever the “naughty bits” would come on; of course, most of the time he didn’t get to the TV in time. Yes, he taught kids like me all about the history of Caligula.)
Mr. Black would have the students recite and speak Latin in class, and while I was basically average in reading Latin on the page, I couldn’t do it aloud. It was too much for my tongue. It is those moments that used to haunt me, standing up, hands sweaty, all of the eyes on me as I tried to recite a passage perfectly. The other students would sometimes hide their laughter, many times they didn’t. And there was Mr. Black in the front shaking his head, frowning, with almost a mocking smirk hiding behind his eyes. Continue reading →
Dan Brown in his latest book, Inferno, thinks he knows Dante’s Divine Comedy.
I. THINK. NOT.
Inspired by Douglas Adams’ The Hithchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series and Monty Python, the entire award-winning unpredictable and bizarre radio comedy series The Dante Experience is available to listen to online via soundcloud. All freaking 10 episodes! If you don’t know this work of mine, you are in for a treat. Listen below!
Produced and directed by Mind’s Ear Audio Productions, The Dante Experience follows a badly-managed attempt to instill a fear of the afterlife in the next generation of man. Robert and his friends were definitely the wrong young adults to choose for the tour, as his girlfriend dumps him for Mephistopheles the devil, his friend Susan forms an army with Julius Caesar to argue for the deads’ rights, and Steve seduces famous women throughout history. The afterlife is never going to be the same.
This morning on NPR’s Morning Edition (I am addicted to this show), they discussed a new book by Maurice Sendak. In many ways, it is his goodbye and is called My Brother’s Book. It’s not often that someone simply reading something on the radio can move me to tears but this did. The book’s illustrations are also gorgeous making me immediately think of William Blake’s work. When Maurice Sendak passed away last year, I wrote this piece in celebration of him. I hope you enjoy it.
There was always an element of darkness in Maurice Sendak’s stories that I found impossible to avoid.
With his passing, we hear and read again about his rough childhood fighting sicknesses, stuck in a room by himself, with only his imagination for company and the fear of death. His family were immigrants, just luckily avoiding the Holocaust; living with the grief that they were not able to save many of the people on his father’s side of the family. Yes, it was a childhood filled with death and the possibility of it around every corner. So it is not surprising that there is that darkness always someplace in his work, lurking and waiting.
In In the Night Kitchen, Mickey is almost baked in a cake by three heavy set individuals with Hitler mustaches. He emerges when he is put in the oven. When I first shared this book with…
I first discovered Jack Benny by chance. I was about 11 and while playing with a cheap little radio in my bedroom, I discovered an AM station that was playing old-time radio shows. With my young imagination, I first imagined that I had somehow tuned into the past.
I was hearing the 1940’s!
Right there, on my radio!
I began to wonder if there was a way I could transport more back to then. (On a side note, if I could go back now I would write the screenplay for Casablanca; bad of me, I know) Could I communicate back? Could this mean something more? Was this the start of a wacky adventure starring me…
Naturally, I then remember the disappointment when the first local radio ad played between some episodes. Yet, reality was not enough to deter me from listening more. I was first fascinated, and then slowly hooked.
I started buying blank tapes, filling them up day after day with anything they were playing. Before I stopped I had almost a hundred tapes with everything from The Lone Ranger to The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes to The Jack Benny Show. Continue reading →