Halloween Redux

HalloweenI’m one of those nuts who thinks of Autumn as his favorite time of the years. Maybe this is a last gasp of Marching Band nerdness (Go Vikings!), but I look forward to the falling leaves, the smells, and the sheer panic we feel around our political system every two to four years. Ahhh… Fall.

My kids really want to get more Halloween decorations for our house, but I’ve never been impressed by the market. Usually everything seems plastic and loud. And I’m definitely not the type of guy to have anything giant and inflatable on my lawn. My line about this kind of stuff is Wayne Manor. “What would Alfred allow?” I ask.

The answer is usually not much.

Over the years I’ve written a bit about this holiday, which you can check out below in the links. I’ve also had the pleasure of reviewing some Halloween and horror stories on WKAR Current State. I thought I would include them as well if you are looking for something a little spooky to read this year. Also, they are fun to listen to because in a few of them I try (badly) to do a scary voice. Who doesn’t need a good and embarrassing laugh from time to time?

Boo!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

New WKAR Book Review: Stephen King’s Revival

Current StateThis week on WKAR’s Current State I took on Stephen King’s latest horror offering Revival.

You can listen to my review here: http://wkar.org/post/book-review-stephen-kings-revival

You can also read my review below.

If you want to check out Revival for yourself you can find it on Amazon.com here. You can check out my past reviews via this page on my site.

I hope you enjoy my new book review! Continue reading

Drugs and Sex: My Time in a Pharmacy (Part 2)

This is the second part of a post that begins here.

The worst product I have ever seen in my life was a condom key chain.

We used to sell them at the pharmacy and based on the marketing they were obviously targeted to the teenage audience.

When you bought a box of three—which was the same price as buying a dozen not in a keychain—they would each come in their own little see-through keychain case. Each condom was a different bright color. And the idea is that in a moment of passion, a dude just had to take out his keys and break the plastic open to get at it.

Okay… now let’s consider the reasons why this is a bad idea (and why we probably never sold a single box of them while I worked behind that counter):

  • To be the kid to proudly display that you were getting lucky like that by having it on your keychain would take… well… balls. And if that dude did have a girlfriend, would she want it so proudly displayed? Do people like that really exist outside of badly written TV shows and movies?
  • What if his keys fell out when he was visiting his girlfriend’s folks? There they would be, on the couch between you and the dad. Seriously, what do you do? What do you say? What!?!
  • Do you really want a teenage boy reminded of sex every time they touch their keys or, worse, when they are driving and their keys are in their ignition right in front of them! Teenage boys think of the deed enough, did they need the reminder right in front of them… while they are driving!?!
  • What if the keychain broke by mistake? If they could be so easily broken up like they claim on the package, couldn’t it happen when they are simply banged against the other keys?
  • And really… just three?

Stupid, stupid, stupid product. Continue reading

Snapshots of Decades: A Birthday Blogpost

Super BirthdayTurning 41

It’s my birthday and I am reading Stephen King again.

I do the book reviews for my local NPR station and I knew I would have to take on this very popular author at some point. After a year and a half and over 30 reviews the moment had finally arrived. A copy of his newest novel landed on my porch from his publisher (three weeks before its official release). They want my review. So be it.

I had an aunt growing up that was obsessed with Stephen King. My aunt in some ways was a King creation waiting to happen. She had fiery red hair; a loud, almost shrieking voice; and many of us kids were scared of her. When she got mean, she got really mean. I always did my best to avoid her, never spending the night at her house, trying to avoid being in the same room with her for too long. My aunt would spend her days either on the phone (always complaining), chewing gum or drinking Pepsi (she drank a lot of Pepsi), and reading Stephen King. When I was in 7th grade, she, for some reason, noticed me and gave me a pile of her Stephen King books to read.

I was not impressed and told her as much when I returned the pile a few months later. Rude of me? Yeah, probably.

We spoke even less after that.

Yet, here it is, 28 or so years later and I am once again reading King and I feel like it is a time capsule to that old me, right then. Mainly, it’s because King sounds exactly the same. His voice/prose hasn’t matured, even the plot and characters feel the same as those other books. I’m guessing for many of his fans (including my aunt) it feels like returning to a home.

For me, I see the cobwebs and I wonder why no one has done any cleaning… Continue reading

4 Dreams of Little Consequences

dreamingDream #1

Lorne Michaels was mad at me and I had no idea why.

I had two assignments to write for this upcoming episode of Saturday Night Live. Just two, and they were good ideas. So good! When I pitched them at the writing table, everyone laughed. We were already acting out possibilities for the bits right there at the table! It was a good and friendly vibe. So I figured I was safe for the week, sure to have my first draft in the head writer’s hands by Thursday.

Which begs the question, why was Lorne, the great producer of SNL, upset with little ol’ me?

The first skit was such a great idea that there was a strong possibility it might open the show! It was so easy to pitch, so easy to imagine. Basically, the premise was what if the founding fathers of our country were like the political pundits on Fox News.

You see, a funny idea?

Now it was the second idea that I really loved since it was a Game of Thrones parody. What if Cersei Lannister joined the local PTA? So you have all these typical Midwest women dealing with the problem of planning a bake-off and Cersei is drinking wine at the table and threatening all of their children.

Why, why, why was Lorne angry with me?

I first heard he was upset from one of the cast members. I brushed it off initially since his gossip was always unreliable. But when I heard it from another cast member (a much more reliable one) then I began to worry. God, I needed this job. This job was my life. (Being a writer on SNL doesn’t really give you a chance to have a life, so this was it.)

The e-mail from Lorne’s office came to my inbox on Wednesday morning and I slowly trudged down the hall. I sat in the waiting room (which looked strangely liked the waiting room at a hospital; all white, even the secretary looked like a nurse). I hung my head and wondered what, what, what!?!, did I do? Continue reading

The Road More Traveled: Sacrifice and Luck, the Two Paths to Writing Success

The older I become the more I’ve come to believe that there are really only two paths to success with writing. One is a thorny path that is something akin to what Frodo experienced on his way to Mount Doom (and you’ll be lucky if you only lose part of a finger); and the other has rainbows, freshly mowed grass, beautiful pools with jumping fish, and I’m pretty sure I saw a unicorn once. They are simply the roads of sacrifice and luck.

Many writers I know view the path of luck as almost an urban myth. That can’t be! they claim, everyone has to work to land their careers!  No, it does exist, my friend, yes, it does. If you don’t believe me, ask the daughter of Mary Higgins Clark, the son of Stephen King or Anne Rice’s son. You can find all three of them on amazon.com with shiny book deals for their first works. Continue reading

Why This Novelist Likes Video Games

I’m not supposed to admit this.

Many in the snobby writing community pooh-pooh it as frivolous and don’t consider it real storytelling, and I might be shunned for this in the future… Sigh… I’ve got to take a deep breath and say it… I think some of the best new stories I have experienced in the last few years have been in video games.

See, for me as a lover of stories, it was never about the medium someone is writing in (plays, books, movies, radio, etc.), but the story being told.  So I really have a problem comparing the mediums like some do. I don’t, per se, think novels are better than movies all of the time. There are adaptations of books for the silver screen that I think are better than the book (Obviously, The Shawshank Redemption is an easy example). Continue reading

Writer’s Corner: Does Jane Austen Need an Agent?

Whenever a newbie writer has had the misfortune (if that is the right word) to ask for my advice, I will always say the same two things:

1. Enter as many writing contests as possible. It will build up your resume, give you free opinion from someone who isn’t family or a friend if you are actually good or not,  and you never know who a judge might be (For example, my radio series, The Dante Experience, was produced and directed by a judge of a radio script competition I entered).

2. Try to get an agent. An agent’s job is to find you a publisher and help you succeed. They have contacts you don’t have. You need them.

The problem is with number 2; while it is right to say it, it does always leave a little bad taste in my mouth since my experience with working with agents has been lackluster at best. So far I’ve had four agents. Continue reading

The Power of My Now

A new blog post by me is up at greenspotblue.com. Here is a snippet from the entry:

To begin, let me state upfront I’m stealing my idea from my wife.

She writes a dance education blog for a dance Web site and recently wrote an article called “The Power of Now.” While hers focused more on being “present” in the now of a performance, I’m going to take a less creative approach to the word.

For me, now is living in the present, and trying to avoid the “whatifs.” I’ve always hated the whatifs.

What if I did this? What if I did that? What if I made that decision instead?

Each and every day, I have seen people who are drowning in whatifs and I have never wanted to be that person lost in the past. Actually, it was at a very early age that I decided I was going to do my best to avoid their dreaded curse. You only live life right once? So why not see what will happen when you make the leap? So, because of that lifestyle decision, when I do look back, I see an existence full of big decisions, a life of big life-changing choices.

You can read the rest of the article here.

The Road More Traveled: Sacrifice and Luck, the Two Paths to Writing Success

This article appears on http://www.emlynchand.com

The older I become the more I’ve come to believe that there are really only two paths to success with writing. One is a thorny path that is something akin to what Frodo experienced on his way to Mount Doom (and you’ll be lucky if you only lose part of a finger); and the other has rainbows, freshly mowed grass, beautiful pools with jumping fish, and I’m pretty sure I saw a unicorn once. They are simply the roads of sacrifice and luck.

Many writers I know view the path of luck as almost an urban myth. That can’t be! they claim, everyone has to work to land their careers!  No, it does exist, my friend, yes, it does. If you don’t believe me, ask the daughter of Mary Higgins Clark, the son of Stephen King or Anne Rice’s son. You can find all three of them on amazon.com with shiny book deals for their first works.

To read more visit: http://emlynchand.com/2011/01/07/the-road-more-traveled-sacrifice-and-luck-the-two-paths-to-writing-success/