Quote of the Day #6

The Gaslight Anthem is one of the best new bands I’ve heard in a long, long time. They’ve put out two full lengths and one EP and they’re all incredible. This is the song you’ve most likely heard if you’ve heard them. Great stuff.

Well, I wonder which song they’re gonna play when we go.
I hope it’s something quiet and minor and peaceful and slow.
When we float out into the ether, into the Everlasting Arms,
I hope we don’t hear Marley’s chains we forged in life.
‘Cause the chains I been hearing now for most of my life.

Did you hear the ’59 Sound coming through on Grandmama’s radio?
Did you hear the rattling chains in the hospital walls?
Did you hear the old gospel choir when they came to carry you over?
Did you hear your favorite song one last time?


Quote of the Day #5

Great song from a great artist. On the Radio by Regina Spektor. The video is also a lot of fun, and has some cool stop-motion animation in it.

No, this is how it works
You peer inside yourself
You take the things you like
And try to love the things you took

And then you take that love you made
And stick it into some
Someone else’s heart
Pumping someone else’s blood

And walking arm in arm
You hope it don’t get harmed
But even if it does
You’ll just do it all again

Short Story Exercise Week #3

I have no idea where I’m going to go with this week’s painting. It’s by George Catlin and is called Buffalo Bull’s Back Fat, Head Chief, Blood Tribe. I didn’t want to research these paintings at all, so I could just let the creativity flow. But since this is a real person from a real tribe I know nothing about, I might end up looking into things a bit so I can get the facts right. I don’t know. Guess I’ll see how it goes.

Quote of the Day #4

Since I’m on the computer most of my day at work, I try not to do much on the weekends. So I guess this should be titled Quote of the (Week)day. Anyway, it’s hard to follow up Johnny Cash, but a guy named Willie Nelson does a pretty good job. The video isn’t much to look at, but the song is a classic.

On the road again
Just can’t wait to get on the road again
The life I love is making music with my friends
And I can’t wait to get on the road again

Short Story Exercise Week #2

Yeah, this is way late in the day. That’s what I get for procrastinating. Hope you enjoy this though. Feel free to let me know what you think! (723 words)

The wind beats against the brittle wood. The walls of the boat groan in protest as they shudder. The storm let up hours ago, but the driving wind never did. Now it slices though the cracks in the stern, fights its way through my tattered blanket, and keeps my spine constantly chilled. I look around at the other men. Some are dead already. Some have a breath or two left in them. Then there’s me. I don’t know why I’m holding up better than the rest. I certainly don’t come from a cold place. But somehow it doesn’t hurt so bad. Each breath is a sharp stab of ice to my lungs, but that’s the worst it, and I can ignore it. At least I’m still breathing.

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Quote of the Day #3

Bit of a late start today. Short story will be up soon. I’d be remiss if I didn’t included some Johnny Cash this first week, so here he is.

I have been ungrateful
And I have been unwise
Restless from the cradle
But now I realize
It’s so hard to see the rainbow
Through glasses dark as these
Maybe I’ll be able
From now on, on my knees

Quote of the Day

Music is a huge part of my life. Always has been, always will.  Most of my waking hours are spent listening to music, either during my commute or at work. As I was listening this morning, I had an idea to post a lyric of the day here.  Then I thought of reading, another love of mine, and realized I didn’t want to limit this to songs, seeing as how there’s a bunch of good quotes out there as well.  So basically every day there’s going to be a little nugget of quotability here. Might be a lyric, a book excerpt, or just something I overhear. It could be something funny or interesting or poignant. To start things off, here’s a little gem from Anchors Aweigh by The Bouncing Souls. I know, I know, another Bouncing Souls reference. What can I say? These guys are great.

Anchors Aweigh my friends
Everybody understands that good times,
that good times come and they go
and together we will always flow
back into our dreams
back into our dreams

And our troubles, we can’t leave them behind
but the wind blows, and blows them all away
and the road goes… and takes them all away
..back into our dreams

And for good measure, here’s the song itself.

Short Story Exercise Week #1

Okay, first week’s challenge  is done. It was done pretty quickly, without a lot of revising, but I think it turned out all right. I’d love feedback if you feel like taking a look at it. Thanks! (In case you were wondering, it’s 987 words)

The harsh wind rustled through the brittle weeds. It had been a hot summer. Not the hottest, but still warm enough to keep the kids inside in the afternoon. Jeffrey had been gone for six months now. With the farm dying and the cow drying up, there was no money to be made here.

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

First off, I have to say that I have no Irish in me. I have a little bit of Scottish and a bunch of English, but I won’t pretend to have any real genealogical ties to the Emerald Isle. That being said, I absolutely love Irish music. From traditional stuff to The Pogues to Flogging Molly and The Dropkick Murphys, something about it has always resonated with me.  So, in honor of the day, and Mr. Patrick driving all those snakes out of Ireland, I give you this, the final song from the fantastic film Waking Ned Devine. Enjoy!

Short Story Exercise

With editing my novel, trying to finish an animated short film, and all the regular stuff that comes along with life, I haven’t had time to just sit down and write lately.  We have a pack of American Painting Knowledge Cards, sort of a set of flashcards put out by the Smithsonian, of American painters and their works. A few years ago my wife had an ingenious idea that we should write short stories based on or inspired by these paintings. In cleaning house today, we stumbled upon the cards again, and my wife reiterated the idea. I thought it would be a perfect way to get some creative juices flowing. So I’m going to try to do one of these per week. I’ll post the painting on Monday and hopefully have something by either Friday or the following Monday. The length will be determined by how inspired I am and how much time I’ve got, but regardless I’ll put something together that will hopefully be decent. I’d be really interested in seeing other interpretations of these paintings as well, so please feel free to post your own short stories in the comments. Here’s the first one, by the great Edward Hopper, entitled Cape Cod Morning. Good luck!

Robert McKee on Comedy

I doubt there are any screenwriters or potential screenwriters who don’t know who Robert McKee is. His book Story is considered a screenwriting bible, and his story seminar is an industry standard. So when I found out he was going to be lecturing on comedy here at work for two hours, I jumped at the chance to attend.  The session was as awesome as I thought it would be.  I was scribbling notes furiously the whole time, and ended up with six pages in all, some of them more coherent than others. I wanted to type them up, so I figured this would be a great place to do it. Now I won’t lose them and perhaps someone else might be able to benefit from them.  They’re a bit scattershot, and I don’t necessarily agree with all of them, but he gave a lot of really good info. I spoke to him briefly afterward. He was incredibly nice and even signed my book. (I highly recommend Story to all writers, not just screenwriters. It’s amazing.) If you ever get a chance to listen to him, definitely take it. Check down below for the notes, and let me know what you think. Continue reading

Freaking Crap

For those of you who don’t know, I recently finished my first novel, which I’m revising and editing right now. I just got through an edit and I had struggles with an interesting issue, one which I’m not sure how to tackle.

First, some background. My story is an urban/contemporary fantasy, told from a first-person POV, and the main character is a young cop from Philadelphia. Although it’s not necessarily a young adult novel, I want it to be accessible to younger readers. Therefore, I didn’t use any swear words or language that I feel is really objectionable. So here’s the issue: as I went through the manuscript, I realized I tend to use a few words and phrases fairly often:  Freaked out. Crap. That sucks/sucked/really sucked. I have to admit, my mom gets mad if I use these words around her, but honestly, they’re quite common for my generation. Would my story work without these words? I’m sure it would. But to me it’s a bit of a stretch in the first place to not have any of my characters, some of them pretty bad people, use foul language.

Often I’ll be watching some crime drama on network TV and a hardened thug or gangster will be yelling at the cops, and the language is decidedly PG, or PG-13 at worst. While I understand this and definitely appreciate the fact that swearing is still not allowed on TV, it strikes me as inauthentic. How can it be fixed? I have no idea.  In reality it’s a pretty minor quibble, and if the rest of the show is well-written and acted, I don’t notice it as much.

Honestly, I don’t know if I would have changed much in my story as it relates to these words. But then it was pointed out to me that using these words dates the story. It makes it contemporary but not timeless. Great. Here I am, striving for a certain verisimilitude, while not resorting to obscene language, and now the language I’ve used isn’t timeless. Not only may it alienate older – and perhaps younger – readers, but in fifty years if anybody reads it, it’ll feel stale and old and so 2010.