Monthly Archives: November 2013
Jennifer and I have always been voracious connoisseurs of all Pop Culture. From movies to TV to music to books, and even video games, we’ve dabbled.
Since this is our premiere Pop Talk post, I would like to share our thoughts about how we plan to offer our latest interests and obsessions. We’ll hit the big five genres, mentioned above, and we’ll even have a key at the top of each monthly post so you can get a quick look at what we cover. Mostly, they will be new arrivals in the collective, but other times we will cover something we’re just discovering.
WARNING: Some of these segments will be very guy orientated as Jennifer is around and aware but doesn’t DVR the shit out the world like I do. I will play to my current delights and despite my fan fiction writing proclivities, I am drawn to largely male demographic expectations.
This Month in Pop Talk:
Chapter 1: Outlander
Channel 2: Almost Human
Verse 3: Pearl Jam, Panic! At the Disco, Cage The Elephant
Level 4: Grand Theft Auto 5
Reel 5: Hunger Games: Catching Fire
Since we have dedicated an entire blog segment to books (Locklear Library posts every month), I will often be using this segment to pick random good books that fall well below the radar. Outlander is not one of these books. It’s a Time Travel series that Jennifer started at the behest of nearly ALL her online friends and tells me that it is on its way to becoming her favorite book franchise to date.
I have watched her fly through two 900 plus page books since the beginning of the month and I have never heard her laugh so loud while reading. She keeps telling me how this is my kind of book. She likens it to seeing some kind of specialty crispy chicken sandwich on a menu before I do and knowing already that’s what I’m going to order. Frankly, if I wasn’t in the middle of writing a book for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and reading a book for an upcoming Locklear Library post, I would be all over this series like butter on a pancake.
It would not surprise me if we post more about this series (soon to start as a TV show) in the future.
While we never miss an episode of The Big Bang Theory or How I Met Your Mother, it’s truly good dramas that can make TV such a fantastic medium. We love the mini-series over movies because we’re greedy bastards and want twelve plus hours of indulgence as opposed to an hour and a half.
To that end, there is a new show on FOX called Almost Human that I’m grateful is on every week, and hopeful that it’s popular enough to stick around.
Almost Human is a cop drama that takes place in the 2048. As a society, we have not solved any of today’s problems and as a result, everything from poverty to crime has skyrocketed while technology continues to grow at an alarming rate.
The police is militarized, mostly by cool and efficient synthetic officers that are partnered with human detectives. One such detective doesn’t trust the machines and has been allowed to use an older model, a synthetic that was made to feel.
He is intuition based and therefore unpredictable. This was deemed undesirable by the force and they were replaced with the more compliant and silent models.
The characters are rich and the actors breathe passion and poignancy into every situation. The humor is top notch, which was an unexpected bonus, and the cool special effects didn’t disappoint this nerd who is still stinging from the loss of the awesome SyFy Original show, Eureka.
I’m a Pearl Jam fan from way back. Their sophomore album Vs. is still one of my favorite records of all time. But somewhere around No Code, they lost me. Eddie has never been a soothing vocalist but I had previously counted on melodic discipline.
A few weeks ago they released Lightning Bolt, one of the finest rock-n-roll albums I own and a welcome return to their vulnerable and coherent work. Over half of the songs on this record are sweet and sorrowful at the same time while others blister with originality as well as drive. The album begins with three such scorchers but the best is yet to come. Particular gems include: Infallible, Pendulum, and Swallowed Whole where Eddie sings, “I can feel the dawn, I can feel the Earth, I can feel the living all around.” I rather like my Pearl Jam’s pensiveness mixed with reflectiveness but they have two particularly fun songs as well, Let the Records Play and Sleeping By Myself. Both have an almost rock-a-billy feel which would normally turn me off but are among my favorites in an album full of favorites. I can’t find it on vinyl by the way so everybody keep your eyes open for me.
Panic! At the Disco! released their third album within the last few weeks as well and it is the best thing they’ve ever done. They broke out of Vegas with their first busy but beautiful album and followed it up with a thunker that I only keep for a throwaway song called Folkin’ Around that I simply adore. To Weird To Live, To Rare To Die doesn’t have a single stinker on the whole album and I think some songs on it are among the best produced this year. Miss Jackson is a nod to Janet Jackson’s reminder that her “name ain’t Baby, it’s Janet, Miss Jackson if you’re Nasty.” It’s one of a few clever additions to this rock/electric/vocal spectacle. Nicotine and Casual Affair are not to be missed.
It should also be noted that Toad the Wet Sprocket has released their first album in a decade and it’s great. Cage the Elephant (famous for a song called Ain’t No Rest For the Wicked) has also wowed me with a bold but singable new CD called Melophobia. You will know it by the fact that it will be the ugliest album cover you’re likely to have seen since Technotronic’s album. The song It’s Just Forever is a standout featuring Alison Mosshart.
Lastly, check out a song by Great Big World called Say Something. There is a version on iTunes where they employ the harmonies of Christina Aguilera and while I’m not a big fan of hers, her haunting vocals make this song one of the best break-up singles I know. It sounds like a duet between her and Ben Folds. Awesome.
You don’t have to kill people and steal cars in Grand Theft Auto 5, but it sure is a lot more fun if you do. Either way. there has never been a game with a bigger “map” ever released. It is positively astounding how big the world is and you can traverse it in a helicopter, car, motorcycle, train, subway, bicycle, crop dusting plane, golf cart, donkey, blimp, dump truck, city bus, and stolen emergency vehicles.
It’s a heist game where you switch back and forth between three characters, each with special skills but the free play is what keeps people coming back. It’s what Sims was trying for, I think.
I like to hop the train and tour the city as well as the countryside and up into the hills while shooting down police helicopters who shout things to me over megaphones like: “You’re going down!” and “Ouch!”
Normally, I play kids games like MarioKart because I can’t see well enough to do well at super realistic games and this is one of them. I don’t do any of the missions, I just have my son bring his xbox into the living room so I can thrash around on a 4 wheeler or drive up the LA river in a semi truck like the bad guy in Terminator 2.
We haven’t seen Catching Fire yet so this, unfortunately isn’t a review of the film. However, Jennifer has read the series and I haven’t. And this has her very interested in my opinion of the shenanigans Donald Sutherland is up to.
We both enjoyed the first film and I became quite a fan of the T-Bone Burnett produced soundtrack that was designed to be music from that future era. The new soundtrack came out just last week and I hear that it’s Christina Aguilera again, wowing people with her contribution. (Huh, I never would have thought her name would ever appear so big in a cloud of this post as it will today).
This would be a great place for anyone to comment and let us and our blog readers know what you thought of the second film.
I hope you find great deals or books and DVDs at the holiday store sales.
For our first post in the Locklear Library, I have challenged Jennifer to read a book that greatly influenced my current writing style. Since we collaborate on writing projects, I thought she would be particularly interested in what was shaking my monkey tree so hard.
The book I’m speaking of is The Shadow Year by Jeffrey Ford.
It’s a simple story really about a simpler time, but the way the narrative paints scenery as well as inner emotion was exceptionally focused. I became a fan of Mr. Ford’s writings upon reading this book, and have since read several of his other novels with a few more waiting patiently on my library shelf.
So, Jennifer, what did you think of the writing? The story? Can you tell why I love this guy?
Jennifer: Let me begin by saying not only did you ask me to read this book, but you’ve asked me repeatedly over the last two years to do so. I remembered your enthusiasm for the novel as you read it over the course of a one week vacation, and that excitement still shows through today. I can’t say there was any particular reason why I kept putting off reading The Shadow Year, but once I finally pulled it off the shelf and peeked at the opening sentence, I understood immediately why it connects with you.
“It began in the last days of August, when the leaves of the elm in the front yard had curled into crisp brown tubes and fallen away to litter the lawn.”
The description of the leaves as crisp brown tubes is exactly the kind of thing I would expect to see in your writing, and this book is full of amazing descriptors like that one.
As far as the story goes, I have to admit that at first I struggled. The writing itself was very good, but I was having trouble finding the same kind of connection you experienced. In the beginning I could only read a chapter at a time (and the chapters are fairly concise). But then after about thirty or forty pages, I began to realize all the seemingly separated characters and moments I’d been reading about were beginning to meld together into a bigger story. Once I hit that point, I really became invested in the book.
One of the questions I’ve wanted to ask you about Jeffrey Ford’s writing is how you think it compares to Stephen King’s? I’m particularly referring to King’s novels that focus on the world of children in mid-twentieth century America. Personally, I found myself thinking a lot about stories such as It and Stand By Me as I read The Shadow Year.
Morgan: YES! Now that you mention it, it reminds me of the very first book we read together, SK’s gigantic awesome and super scary, It. The Shadow Year has that kind of vibe only a bit more edited. It was sweet and creepy at the same time. Since it was you who got me into Stephen King, (and the Seattle Seahawks) I knew you would appreciate a passage like this:
“The days sank deeper into autumn, rotten to their core with twilight. The bright warmth of the sun only lasted about as long as we were in school, and then once we were home, an hour later, the world was briefly submerged in a rich honey glow, gilding everything from the barren branches of willows to the old wreck of a Pontiac parked alongside the Hortons’ garage.”
Do you find that there is a fine line between poetic and distracting? I think Ford nails it, but SK sometimes has diarrhea of the word processor. (I mean that in the nicest possible way, Stephen).
Jennifer: Absolutely. Some of the books that end up losing me are ones where the author is so focused on the poetic narrative that other elements of the story suffer. As a result, the intended message can be lost in the overly flowery language or the character development is neglected or the dialogue exchanges are rushed or forced. There’s always a balance that needs to be maintained in all facets of storytelling. In my opinion, the best authors are the ones who not only maintain this balance, but also make the writing appear effortless (which I doubt it rarely is).
Who was your favorite character in The Shadow Year and why?
Morgan: I like Mary, the little sister. She had a Wednesday Addams quality that I rather enjoyed. She was wise, mostly quiet but usually had the solutions to problems. I liked her relationship with her brothers too. They treated her like a girl, but still one of them. I remember being scared along with those kids while they waited for a big white car to turn around in their direction, or for an eerie noise in the backyard to be just their dog, George.
Would you ever consider reading another Jeffrey Ford book? I have several that are actually short story collections. (His claim to fame is short fiction, actually).
Jennifer: Now that you say that about short fiction, I can see that. The Shadow Year is a small novel (less than 300 pages) compared to most of the books I read, but he managed to put a lot of story into it. So yes, I would definitely read other works by Jeffrey Ford. Thanks so much for your persistence in getting me to read this one. Your determination paid off.
If you’ve enjoyed our post today and would like to look up Jeffrey Ford and his works, here is the goodreads link for you to check out.
Please also feel free to friend us on goodreads to see what else we’re reading and to share your recommendations with us.
You are an echo I thought I’d never hear
You are the truth that can simply appear
You hold my favor in a passionate grin
Like a droplet of water it melts on my skin
I don’t mean to stare
so much that I go blind
It’s just sometimes I dare
to occupy my mind
With all the things you are
and all the things you’ve been
It’s like staring at a star
and I’m doing it again
You have a melody the whole world wants to sing
My life is filled up with the happiness you bring
I was just wandering with no hope or direction
You gave my life back with effortless affection
Revolving with the words and poetry within
Twirling into music and an unexpected spin
Then stopping for a moment to let me catch my breath
And starting up again so fast it frightens me to death
I don’t mean to stare
so much that I go blind
It’s just sometimes I dare
to occupy my mind
With all the things you are
and all the things you’ve been
It’s like staring at a star
and I’m doing it again
Copyright Morgan Locklear 2013
American Diabetes Association
Mission Statement: We lead the fight against the deadly consequences of diabetes and fight for those affected—by diabetes.
We fund research to prevent, cure and manage diabetes.
We deliver services to hundreds of communities.
We provide objective and credible information.
We give voice to those denied their rights because of diabetes.
In the spring of 2011, our son was winding up his time in middle school. He was nearing the end of eighth grade and was growing non-stop. Over the course of the school year, he’d grown several inches, was eating and drinking everything in sight and became enthusiastic about cross country running. Over a period of weeks, we noticed he was looking taller and leaner, running up our grocery bill and sleeping in every chance he got. We concluded that he was your average fourteen year old boy.
We left home for a week’s vacation and ventured into the mountains of northern Idaho to enjoy some time together at a lakefront resort. While there, our son seemed out of sorts. He slept a lot, and didn’t have energy or interest in suggested family activities. Halfway through the trip, he began feeling ill. We assumed he had contracted food poisoning and began treating it as such. By our final night at the resort, he seemed to be perking up once again. The vacation was a bust as far as he was concerned, so we prepared to leave for home the next morning and called it a night.
At about three o’clock in the morning, our world changed forever. Our son woke up extremely ill and nothing we tried to do for him helped. We watched his condition deteriorate rapidly and by sunrise we knew he needed emergency medical attention. Morgan and I put him in our car and drove sixteen miles to the nearest hospital. Along the way, our son had trouble staying alert and coherent. By the time we reached the ER, we didn’t know what to think, but within minutes the diagnosis was made.
His blood glucose reading was nearly 500, and we were told our son had Type 1 Diabetes. Before we could even process this news, other complications arose. He was transferred by helicopter to a larger hospital and admitted to a pediatric ICU. We saw him taken away, and then made the slower journey by car to join him. Once the urgent need to stabilize his condition receded, our family spent a week at the hospital learning how to take care of our son under this new reality.
We learned how to count carbs in the food he received, and how to calculate the proper dosage of insulin to administer for those carbs. We learned how to give him shots of inulin and glucagon and monitored our son as he learned to do the same. We watched our son carefully as the reality of life as a Type 1 diabetic fully settled into his consciousness. We spoke with doctors, nurses and counselors. We took classes and we received resources from the American Diabetes Association, which we held on to tightly as we learned to navigate along this new path. Without this assistance from the ADA, we would have felt lost and uneasy about what to do.
When our son was able to leave the hospital and we all returned home, it felt a bit like becoming a parent all over again. He needed to put on weight after having lost essential body fat over a period of months leading up to his diagnosis. Our son had to be sure to eat every few hours in order to help regulate his blood sugars. We were all up in the middle of the night to make sure his blood glucose readings were not dropping too low as a result of his insulin dosages. We had to educate our family and friends on exactly what it means to be a Type 1 diabetic and make sure they knew what signs to look for to help identify when his blood sugar might be running too low or too high.
Two and a half years later, we have all found our way again. Our son manages his own care as much as possible and he’s inspired us all with his determination and commitment to live his life and thrive despite the condition. Although some days are better than others, he rarely complains about the constant routine of finger pokes, the numerous daily shots of insulin, the relentless monitoring of his carbs at every meal and snack, and the inevitable moments when his blood glucose falls too low or runs a bit too high, wreaking temporary havoc on his body.
As parents, there is little doubt that the preparation and education we received from the American Diabetes Association and the medical community has played a vital role in this critical time of transition. Now that we have learned how to manage our day to day lives with diabetes, we look to the ADA (and other organizations with the same mission) to develop a cure for our son’s condition. It is generally believed this will happen during his lifetime.
Type 1 diabetes is not an illness caused by eating too much sugar. Our son didn’t become diabetic because of his lifestyle or eating habits. It is a complicated autoimmune condition that renders the pancreas incapable of producing insulin. The condition is partially genetic and partially environmental. Although the medical community is still trying to fully understand the triggers of Type 1 diabetes, it is clear that many factors have to fall into place in order for the immune system to target the beta cells in the pancreas for destruction. In order for our son to stop injecting himself with insulin several times a day for the remainder of his life, doctors and researchers will need to find a way to regenerate the beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin naturally.
In the months since our son’s diagnosis, we have heard some very encouraging news in this field, and feel strongly that continued support of the American Diabetes Association will not only benefit our son in the long run, but will also help the 300 million people worldwide diagnosed with the same condition.
November is the month of our son’s birth. It is also the international observation of Diabetes Awareness Month. Chances are very good that you know someone in your life that has been diagnosed with diabetes. Take a few moments to think about how there is never a remission from this condition. There are no days off from diabetes, and in the long run complications from this condition take their toll on the body.
Please take the time to remember those in your life who deal with diabetes every day, and honor them this month by supporting your local diabetes association.
Thank you and Take Care,
Jennifer and Morgan
Jennifer was recently interviewed by the SUBCLUBbooks website. The post went live this afternoon and you can read it by clicking on the following link: http://thesubclubbooks.com/?p=16906
If you weren’t aware already, Jennifer is one of the moderators of Argyle Empire, an official fan site for Canadian author Sylvain Reynard (Gabriel’s Inferno; Gabriel’s Rapture). This interview was conducted to highlight that site in anticipation of the release of SR’s latest novel, Gabriel’s Redemption. The book will be available on December 3 and you can follow Argyle Empire on twitter (@Argyle_Empire) for more information regarding one of our favorite authors.
Jennifer was honored to appear on this segment and wishes to thank SUBCLUBbooks as well as her fellow moderators at Argyle Empire for the opportunity.
Enjoy and Take Care,
Morgan and Jennifer
My wife showed me a picture of a happy cartoon book once:
I love this picture.
Reading was actually a great fear for me all through grade school. I hold things very close to my eyes when I read and tend to go slow. When I was called upon to read aloud in class I always feared that it would sound like I was just learning to read.
Books on tape (and I do mean tape) got me hooked on fiction but when I wanted to read the most current books I just muddled through. However, I discovered that exercise was exactly what my eyes needed and soon it came very easily to me. Much later in life, I worked in radio where I read fresh news copy live on the air every day. I still read pretty slowly compared to most and I type much faster than I can follow half the time.
Last month I wrote about how research can lead you into wonderful ideas for your story while adding accuracies and trivia that everyone likes. This month I wish to stress the importance of not losing your appetite for fiction especially as you begin to write stories yourself. Sure, there’s a great argument for not wanting to inadvertently influence your own work. I worry about that myself, but influence is inspiration which only strengthens my point that you want to expose yourself to as much as you can, especially in your own genre.
Another great argument against reading while in the midst of writing is all the time you lose. It feels like you’re cheating on your book. I get that, but there’s a time to write and there’s a time to read. Think of yourself as a well, you have to fill the well with words before you can draw them up to fill your own creations.
I get the feeling that some of you didn’t need convincing of this in the first place. You love to read and couldn’t stop if you tried. That’s why you’re here. In fact, I wonder if next month I shouldn’t just write a post called: Isn’t Pizza Yummy! Or How About That Sex!
But for some, reading while writing is as difficult as trying to eat pizza while having sex. I want to acknowledge that if a more focused approach works for you, don’t bother trying to clutter your style with my new devices.
I still struggle with finding the balance. I only know that the more I read, the better I understand the craft. The better I understand the craft the more I grow as a writer. The more I grow as a writer the better opportunities I’ve received.
But where is the time to fit in all this reading and writing along with a family and a full time job? As a gentleman, I never regarded a bath as an indulgence. Like Jerry Seinfeld, I find it a very dainty affair. I’m no homophobe, (and I get the irony of even making such a statement since I got my start writing Twilight fanfic), but I just had never enjoyed the experience of a bath as much as I was expected to.
However, I’ve lately discovered that a warm bath is a haven for reading. (This was not unlike my great red pepper discovery of 2002). More than anything, a bath is big tub of peace and quiet. Again, I sense that I have merely been stating the obvious today but sometimes it’s nice to just sit around and agree on stuff together isn’t it?
If maintaining a healthy reading habit in the midst of penning your own pulp is only a little out of your comfort zone, try to compromise by reading educational or historical books. (Recipes don’t count). But anything that can turn the flow of words the other way for a little while will benefit you, trust me.
My wife can read four different books at a time while working on two stories and editing another two. I start out with several options but get into one book and follow it all the way to the end without stopping. It’s like contestants row on The Price Is Right. Sometimes the new guy gets to run right up on stage and sometimes it’s someone who’s been there a while but was the only one who didn’t overbid.
I do tend to work on multiple stories at once, but that’s just to satisfy my multiple personality disorder(s).
I am going to participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) this year and my next post will share my experience with you. I plan to type 50,000 words in 30 days, while completing the book I am currently enjoying (A particularly harrowing offering in a longtime men’s adventure series I follow called Deathlands) and beginning a novel my wife recommended called, Eleanor and Park. It’s going to be a challenge, but back in those fan fiction days I pumped out 40 thousand words a month for two years straight, so I’m up for the task.
I believe that it will be my continued forays into someone else’s pages that will keep me on the right track as I begin a big new project…that and Red’s Strawberry Ale.
Today’s post is a segment we like to call Random Fan and here are the rules:
Once a month Morgan and I will invite one of you to ask us three questions, but be prepared because we get to ask three of our own in return.
If you’d like to opt in, please leave a comment below and your name will be entered into consideration. December’s Random Fan will be chosen by Random.org and will be contacted via email on November 10.
* * * * *
Our very first Random Fan is none other than the Almost Famous Author, Mr. Darwin Blake. Many thanks to Darwin for signing on for this experiment. If you’d like to know more about Mr. Blake and his body of work, be sure to visit his site at http://darwinblake.com/
Darwin Blake: Is it frustrating working as a team on projects?
MOG and Jenn: Quite the opposite. Writing is by nature a solitary endeavor, but in our experience having another person to encourage and enhance the process has only improved the quality of the story. We don’t always write together, but we do always work a story together. Sometimes Morgan writes while Jennifer edits and vice versa. But we always outline together and find that the time spent with one another on writing projects has even strengthened our personal relationship.
MOG and Jenn: What poet would you most like to be compared to?
Darwin Blake: My my what a question…Robert Burns is a huge influence but there are so many to choose from. I like to read a lot of modern poetry especially my friends P.J Bayliss, Tammy Louise-Wilkins, Heavenly Haven and Miss B.L Ronan.
Darwin Blake: When we meet (and we will) how will you greet me? (This is more for Morgan because I want man hugs!)
MOG: I think Tommy Boy said it best when he declared, “Brothers gotta hug!”
MOG and Jenn: What city in America would you most like to visit?
Darwin Blake: Oh lots, New York, Washington..lots! I also want to go to Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland. and of course Seattle.
Darwin Blake: What’s your favourite song?
Jenn: The Swing of Things by a-ha. I’m a lifelong fan and Scoundrel Days is hands down my favorite album of theirs. I still vividly remember the afternoon when I sat in my best friend’s bedroom while we listened to that song for the first time.
MOG: First of all, you must understand how difficult a question this is for me to answer. It would pain me to choose my Top Five favorite songs, let alone just one. You don’t know how hard it was not to pick Sell Me by Eartha Kitt or Indifference by Pearl Jam. But my very favorite song in the whole world is The Friends of Mr. Cairo by Jon and Vangelis. It’s an epic twelve minute song that celebrates Film Noir, sung by the frontman of the legendary rock band, Yes.
MOG and Jenn: Have you ever written songs? Would you like to?
Darwin Blake: Of course, I may try my hand one day, who knows what will come? I believe that anyone who has written a poem or prose is a wordsmith, all we need is the music for the words.
Hello and Welcome!
One summer evening in 2012, Morgan and I were sitting outside, enjoying some quiet time at our fire pit and chatting. The time had come for us to make an important decision in regards to our writing hobby: keep it a hobby or try and take it to the next level?
The chat continued until the fire pit grew dim but by the time we were done our minds were made up about which path to take.
In January we set to work with one goal in mind for 2013.
So, what’s happened for us this past year?
Well … stay tuned and we promise to share more of that story in the months to come.
In the days and weeks ahead, we’ll be launching new social media accounts and modifying existing ones.
With the launch of this site, Morgan and I will be sharing many things that are important to us in our online lives. You can expect frequent and (hopefully) entertaining segments and posts.
We’re both looking forward to the new year and hope you’ll join us for the journey.
Jennifer and Morgan