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
There is a legend around my brother’s beginning that may or may not be true. But really stories like this are best with partial truths, so I would rather not know how right this may be.
I was in preschool and my friend Gabe Gaddy (Yes, that is his name; I may have misspelled it though) brought his little baby sister in for show-and-tell. The reaction from the kids in the room and the teacher hit a nerve with me. Maybe it was jealously, I’m not sure, but when I went up for my turn I announced my mom was pregnant and I was going to have a little brother.
Yeah, I did that. Made up the entire thing.
Here is where things get a little muddy, either the story got back to my grandmother (who was head of curriculum for the school district) or it was the teacher calling my mother to congratulate her (I always like to imagine the story making it to my grandmother and her reaction), whatever the case my parents heard, putting them into a little bit of a pickle. Either they break the heart of their only son and have him announce his mistake in class (something that surely would have been memorable), or…
Less than a year later I had a little brother. Continue reading
What inspired me to write my editorial this week, “The Happy Anglophile,” is that I am in the process of editing two different books- A Jane Austen Daydream (to be published in April by Madison Street Publishing) and Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare (which I am self-publishing and sharing the experience via posts, like this one where I discuss my great new cover artist). They are both very British books; one putting the spotlight on Miss Austen, the other trying to capture the world and vibe of Sherlock Holmes.
Not bad for a kid from Michigan, eh?
And it doesn’t stop there! I’ve been thinking about writing a post on a controversial belief I have on Shakespeare next week, and I have been debating myself for months on writing on my love of PG Wodehouse and Douglas Adams (I should have done the Douglas Adams one nearer his Birthday… damn).
Anyway, looking back over the blog, my anglophile-tendencies have been on display ever since I started writing, from books to movies to television to music. For your reading pleasure this weekend here are links to some of my more popular posts on my favorite second home.
In my post on Wednesday I asked the ultimate question, “Okay, am I a nerd?” I received quite a response from readers via Twitter and in comments; and the overwhelming response was…
Yes… Yes, I am a nerd.
Okay, fine. So be it!
And after a further review of my site over the last year, it is embarrassingly obvious that my readers had caught something before I did. My nerdom has been on display for quite some time here on the site. More than on display, it has been putting on a provocative dance! (Think green skin and Star Trek.)
Here are links to some of my other “nerd” editorials that I didn’t reference in my last post, from movies to TV (I hope you enjoy them): Continue reading
I would sell my soul to come up with an idea like Doctor Who.
Yes, I would take an eternity in damnation, away from loved ones, baking in flames, to create a character like the man with the Sonic Screwdriver. And as I roasted, I would smile. Oh, how I would smile if that was on my resume
To think only three-months ago, I could not tell you the difference between a TARDIS and a Dalek (a TARDIS is bigger on the inside and a Dalek has a weird slimy octopus-like monster in it that likes to “ex-term-in-ate”). As a science-fiction geek, Doctor Who was already in the background for me. I knew who he was, had the basic gist of what it was about, but I never really considered giving it the time of day. I had enough sci-fi geek stuff with Tolkien, Star Trek, Joss Whedon, DC Comics, Harry Potter, Battlestar Galactica (the new one, not the old one), Red Dwarf, Indiana Jones, and Star Wars, thank you very much. My cup was full, please try peddling your fantasy wares and monster costumes with zippers elsewhere.
I can even say I tried one or two episodes a few years ago. I am a fan of the TV writing of Steven Moffat (Coupling is hilarious and I love Sherlock) and when I heard he took over the running of the show (and it was one of his favorites), I decided to give it a shot; but I stopped after the episode of Daleks in WWII and when they emerged in different colors and bigger. I just didn’t understand the threat. They looked (dare I type it) silly… and in different colors? So what? They are white and red now? Whatever.
Oh how naive I was then… Continue reading
One of my big complaints I had when I lived in Los Angeles was that you did not feel the changing of the seasons.
See, for me the changes in the weather around me helps me stay focused, it gives me a sense of urgency from day to day. In other words, I feel time more and I can feel it slipping away as well. This is not a bad thing, it just means I feel like I live life a little more when I feel those differences as compared to when I live in an environment where everything is the same every freaking day.
Of course, where can you go to complain about the weather?
Fall is one of my favorite seasons and this October is living up to that with a lot of favorites falling in my list. (Oh, and the fact my novel A Jane Austen Daydream has been signed to be ePublished sometime in the future doesn’t hurt either). Continue reading
Television is rarely art.
A big part of that is because of how it is made, this is especially true in America.
American television is a business model made out of light entertainment, with the hope of reaching as much of the viewing population as possible. While a creator may start with the spark of an idea, it is in the manufacturing of that idea where the art is lost; and business men take over, hoping to stretch an idea out for as long as possible, generating the highest quota of viewers and advertising sales. And through this process sadly creators can disappear (Consider Dan Harmon and Community, which I wrote about here), walking away (or forced away) from their own creations, their own babies.
To understand what I mean about art, consider one important element that makes a good novel art. It is not merely the initial idea, but the follow through from the beginning to the end, everything coming together to make a wonderful perfected whole, like a present with a bow on top. Television doesn’t have that, especially in America, and it is rare that any writer or even creator know what they are working towards. Don’t believe me? Remember when they gave an end date for the show Lost and everyone thought that was revolutionary?
So while a show might have a few great episodes, a few great seasons, it is rare you can step back and look at a complete package and say that is a well-told story from beginning to end. Continue reading
Yeah, last month I complained about the heat, but I had NO idea what I was talking about when I wrote that. (Naive little man.)
July has been painful here, and besides the heat the weed pollen levels have been off the charts, making my allergies go crazy. Seriously, I awake each morning with red puffy eyes because of it. I look like Rocky Balboa screaming to be cut.
Anyway, through red eyes, here is my list for this month (I apologize in advance for the amount of superheroes in this installment):
This has been a phenomenal summer for blockbusters; the ones that have found success definitely deserve it. From The Avengers to Brave to The Amazing Spider-Man, each of these films are well-written, well-directed, and, well, just plain good. When was the last time we had a summer that knocked it this perfectly out of the ballpark? I keep thinking back to the summer of Batman and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade but that was decades ago. Continue reading
First and foremost, this is not a love letter to a TV show. Sane and mature adults do not write love letters to sitcoms, especially science-fiction ones with campy special effects and a man pretending to be a cat. No, not at all.
Red Dwarf as a concept should not work as a TV sitcom premise; let’s get that point out of the way as well. Sometimes I am floored it ever moved forward to filming in the first place. It could never have sold in America (and for those that know the failed American pilot of it, it didn’t!). I am serious when I state it is probably the darkest, most bleak idea for a series, especially a comedy.
Breaking Bad? Game of Thrones? The Wire? Oz? No, Red Dwarf is darker. They can’t even compete against it. Continue reading