Tag Archives: movies

Returning from That Summer Place

It’s almost back to school time here in southeastern Pennsylvania, which means the kids will be terminating their summer brain dumps, rushing to catch up on assigned reading and trying to remember how to convert improper fractions to mixed numbers. That usually means time for the grownups to start getting their acts together, too.

I admit that I’ve slacked off this summer in a few areas – writing every day being one of the biggest. But where spring has always been the traditional time of renewal for nature, back to school time is, for kids and adults, typically the start of something fresh. It’s an opportunity to establish new routines and actually stick to them because so many other scheduled events depend on things running smoothly.

Yeah, this summer my word count for Novel #2 has fallen off, but I’ve also gotten the chance to do some things that will help make that book better even though I’ve spent a few weeks not actively banging away at it. One of those weeks was spent at our family’s own summer place, this one deviating from past years by switching the Outer Banks of North Carolina for Folly Beach, S.C.

New places equal new inspiration, so in lots of respects it was a worthwhile trip. I’m hoping it ends up as a salable travel story for the freelance writing side of my work, and there are always little details I can pick up from somewhere new to add into a story. Plus, as someone who sets his books in South Carolina but is based full time in Pennsylvania, it’s good to get back once in a while and get in touch with the people you’re writing about.

It’s also been good to go down some roads in my own reading that I don’t often travel. I tilted more toward the fantasy side of things with Fran Wilde’s Updraft and delved into the world of the Mafia – particularly as it relates to Philadelphia and Wilmington, Del. – in Charles Brandt’s I Heard You Paint Houses (look for an upcoming story on Charles and the forthcoming film version of his book in September’s Out & About magazine).

Novel #2 includes more of a criminal enterprise subplot, so it was great to read Brandt’s book and get a window into mob life beyond that provided in the Mafia film pantheon of The Godfather, Goodfellas, etc. And it’s always interesting to see what styles other writers adapt. Wilde’s is lean and tight, which keeps her sprawling, world-building tale to a reasonable and accessible length. While I’m not creating new universes out of whole cloth this time around, I’m trying to keep things leaner myself, so reading other writers who can do so is a bit like taking a master class in how it’s done.

So, here’s to parlaying my non-writing experiences and unassigned summer reading into some good, solid work on Novel #2 once everyone in the house gets back to their school year schedules. It might not be lounging on the beach or by the pool, but there will be plenty of that again next year.

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Because It’s Monday, Classic ‘Star Trek’ Characters Rendered in Pixar Style

It’s hard to recall that there was ever anything wrong with Pixar, but anyone who watched the short subject Tin Toy, which preceded the release of Toy Story by seven years, knows that the studio’s animators had a LONG way to go with figuring out how to render the faces of anything other than children’s playthings. Honestly, the hyper-realistic baby from that brief bit of animation way back in 1988 still kinda creeps me out, and if I had viewed this first at a much younger age I’m sure the negative effects would still be rattling around in my subconscious. Continue reading

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Breaking: Live Stream of Today’s Big Announcement at Apple

Ah, yes … another gathering of the faithful Disciples of Jobs, raising their voices and rending their garments in preparation of  hearing what wisdom their benevolent overlord will pass down through his earthly intermediaries.

It’s quite sweet, really.

Oh, look. It seems this year’s gadget will be known as the iHeart.

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Entirely Biased and Totally Subjective Movie Review: ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’

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What is it about the beach that makes everyone’s attitude improve?

Think about it. Everything good in life seems a little bit easier when you’re breathing sea air and basking in sunshine all day. Conversations between strangers strike up more easily. People are more attracted to each other. They’ll let you pull into traffic in front of them. And movies … movies at the beach just seem to go down a little easier, make us a little happier and add a special highlight to what’s usually a week away from “real” life. And it doesn’t even matter that the only reason you were at the movies was probably because it was raining that day.

So it was the first day of my family’s annual beach vacation in the Outer Banks of North Carolina a few weeks ago. We arrived on Sunday, and Monday turned out to be a wash as far as sunning and swimming went. And really, it provided the perfect excuse for me to round up my son and assorted other cousins and siblings (along with my 70-something aunt) to see a movie I’d been a little bit more excited about than a 45-year-old dad probably should be. Continue reading

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Power Pop Wednesday: Back From the Capital of Obsfucation and Misdirection, Enjoy Some Smoke and Mirrors

OK Go – The Writing’s On the Wall from 1stAveMachine on Vimeo.

The family and I visited Washington, D.C., earlier this week to do the required introduction of the young ones to Our Nation’s Capital. I might post some pictures if I feel so compelled to share.

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OK, you convinced me with your infernal whining. Here you go.

 

Overall, the city was much nicer than I remember it being during my last trip, when I was my son’s age and it was the 1970 and cities felt it was their duty to be as skanky as possible.

Regardless of the bad rap that D.C. gets from pretty much everyone, I found the people to be exceptionally friendly, and not just in the tourist-centric spots. The streets are quieter, the public transportation cleaner and people just seem generally more polite. It’s a reminder that even though lots of folks in my home state of South Carolina consider it “The North,” the heavy-duty influence of southern Maryland and Virginia made it very much a Southern city. Continue reading

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May the 4th Be With You! Here’s some Star Wars-Themed Disco to Help You Celebrate!

As I constantly remind my children (and pretty much anyone under 30 who will listen) I was fortunate to appreciate the arrival of Star Wars in its perfect, undistilled and most innocent form – in the theater in 1977 when the first film (and A New Hope will always be the first film) hit theaters.

Along with all the other cultural touchstones brought on by the film and its two sequels, it’s often lost on the younger folks of today that Star Wars landed in the cultural consciousness smack in the middle of disco’s surge out of Studio 54 and into the American mainstream. So naturally, we’d have to have a disco version of John Williams’ iconic Star Wars theme music, along with disco-beat hand claps and awesome pew-pew-pew blaster fire sound effects in the background. Continue reading

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Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Office Cubicle By Leaving (or Planning to Leave) Yours

This is how you should be celebrating today, the 50th anniversary of what we today call the office cubicle.

I’m sure the guy who invented this now ubiquitous bit of office furniture never dreamed it would engender such deep and abiding hatred. Instead he probably thought he was doing something good for the workplace, like helping offices maximize their usable space and encouraging collaboration between co-workers.

Who knew that these humble desk/separator combos would come to be seen with same affection as the tiny pens cattle purveyors use to raise veal calves? Who would imagine that the most collaboration they would encourage would be inspiring colleagues to gang up on one of their number (the one with the untenable BO and tendency to eat microwave burritos at his desk) and stab them in the neck with a Bic pen? Continue reading

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Funky Friday Goes to the Movies: A James Brown Biopic is On the Way

James Brown’s story + James Brown’s music + excellent director and a stellar cast = a couple of blissful hours in the cinema for this funkateer sometime soon.

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Funky Friday: Featuring Special Surprise Guest Star Christopher Walken

Musically or thematically, “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” by C+C Music Factory wouldn’t be my first (or even fifth) Funky Friday pick for today, simply because it’s a somewhat generic example of late 1980s-early 1990s dance club rap fusion now more likely to be heard at weddings than anywhere else. It stood out at the time, but you, dear readers, can let me know in the comments how well you think it’s aged. Continue reading

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