31 August 2009
27 August 2009
Dominick Dunne died Wednesday of bladder cancer. I'll let Lisa Derrick at La Figa give the paens to his literary genius, since I've never actually read his books myself:
The first book I read of his was The Winners, a sequel to Joyce Haber's The Users, which Dunne tossed off as a work-for-hire while recovering from his brutal cocaine addiction and the end of his career as a film producer. After that, I devoured anything of his I could get my hands on. I will always regret seeing him in the lobby of the Chateau Marmont circa 1997 and not screwing up the courage to tell him what an influence he was on me.
Dunne's writing focused on high society and its crimes; and, despite the fear they would appear in one of his books, the wealthy embraced and lionized him--whispering secrets at dinner parties, slipping him their phone numbers so they could spill the tea on their "friends." The murder of Alfred Bloomingdale's mistress, Vicky Morgan, was transformed into the bestseller An Inconvenient Woman; the Ivan Boesky scandal became People Like Us; the same with his other novels, where the foibles and crimes of the rich were laid bare with grace and cutting charm. Based on the murder of teenager Martha Moxely, the novel Murder in Greenwich led to the conviction of Michael Skakel, a Kennedy cousin. Robert Kennedy, Jr. felt that Dunne had a personal vendetta against his family; so it is ironic, or perhaps fitting, that Dunne and Teddy Kennedy died just hours apart. I am sure Heaven's waiting room will be quite lively as they meet in line.
Dunne's facility with words, his ability to get people to reveal themselves, to confide in him--from Adanan Khashoggi to Elizabeth Taylor, socialites and their household help--made him a consummate reporter -- as did his vision, intuition, and insight.
Yes, he made some huge errors because of his single-minded--some would say narrow minded--pro-victim, pro-prosecution ideology (Gary Condit sued Dunne over his writings on the death of intern Chandra Levy), but he chronicled the rich, their crimes, and their victims with verve, passion and lyricism in his articles. And in his novels he demonstrated you can tell a lot more truth with fiction--and not get sued.
He told a lot of truth without fiction, too. I used to regularly watch his Power, Privilege and Justice on CourtTV. He did have a passion for justice, brought on by the murder of his daughter, Dominique. And he had a flair for demystifying the upper crust without diminishing them. Those two things combined made for excellent viewing. In print or on screen, he was a storyteller through and through.
26 August 2009
I've been blogging at The Big Stick for about a year and a half. I used to cover all sorts of topics (mostly national politics) but I've recently changed direction to focus on what I refer to as 'the intersection between urban and rural life' and associated issues like education and agriculture. I have also been known to write about my garden and my Labrador Retriever, Murphy.My educational background includes a BA in History and a BA in Anthropology both from the University of Louisville. I also had a minor in Political Science. I worked for the University of Kentucky for three years as an archeologist and then I did another couple of years as a public educator with several historical sites and museums around town. Now I work in finance with a big Fortune 500 company and spend most of my days buried in spreadsheets and pie charts. It's been a weird career change, though I can't complain about the paychecks.I live in Louisville, KY and am married with two daughters, ages 14 and 10. I have far too many hobbies to list here but cooking seems to always rank near the top.
25 August 2009
- To connect with other people
- To understand my own experiences
- To give voice to characters
- To give voice to myself
- To learn new things
- To teach what I have learned
- To escape reality for a while
- To create something new
- To remember what has happened
- To enact change
24 August 2009
Further excuses? I've got 'em! In celebration of Darwin's 200th birthday and the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species, I'm actually reading the Origin. Put it like this: if you survived Charles Dickens and you like science, the Origin's easy reading. It continually astonishes me how much Darwin was able to figure out even though genetics, plate tectonics, radiometric dating, and all of the other incidental extras that support evolution weren't even a glimmer on the horizon. Those 19th century scientists were no fools. And they wrote beautifully.
Speaking of writing beautifully, I'm also in the midst of Marcia Bjornerud's Reading the Rocks. I didn't intend to be. I was saving it for later, but one night when my elderly laptop was coming online at its usual glacial pace I picked the book up to peruse the introduction - and I am lost inside. She's not only an informative writer whose prose flows like water over Franklin Falls, she's snarky. I am a sucker for snark.
Go to your bookstore. Read the Prologue. We'll see how many of you manage to walk out without buying the book afterward. If you've ever wanted a fun, easy and accurate primer on geology, darlings, this is it.
Those are just a few of my many excuses. But enough about me. Let's talk about you.
Specifically, let's talk about all those times you've wondered if you could make some bucks through blogging. DarkSyde at Daily Kos knows exactly where you're coming from:
You’re returning home from Netroots Nation 2009 all fired up, or maybe you couldn’t afford to go this year, and the thought enters your mind: wouldn’t it be great if I could get paid, just a little, to support or justify my blogging habit? The reality is there are millions of blogs out there, the vast majority receive precious little attention, let alone enough page visits to interest advertisers. But don't let that stop you. The demand for quality online content is growing and the medium is still in its infancy.Okay, so maybe you weren't coming from Netroots Nation or ever planning to go, or have no earthly idea what Netroots Nation is, but it doesn't matter. All of us have had our moments where we've wondered if all this blathering on blogs could really pay off. DarkSyde has some good suggestions that any blogger can use, even those who haven't got a political bone in their bodies.
All work and no play, etc. etc. So let's have some fun. If you've ever attempted to read The Brothers Karamazov, you'll appreciate the Onion's announcement:
Heh. Kind of makes me want to read Crime and Punishment again...
LOS ANGELES—Executives at Paramount Pictures announced Monday that production had finally wrapped on The Brothers Karamazov, a new film adaptation that concludes at the precise moment most readers give up on the classic Russian novel.
The 83-minute film, which is based on the first 142 or so pages of Fyodor Dostoevsky's acclaimed work, has already garnered attention for its stunning climax, in which the end credits suddenly appear midway through Katerina's tearful speech about an unpaid debt."We are very excited to be able to bring several chapters of this timeless masterpiece to the big screen," Paramount CEO Brad Grey said of the movie, which was shot, on and off, for two years. ...
Right, then, it's out of the cafe and back in to the cantina for me. While I'm tending bar, feel free to share snippets from the books currently occupying your attention. Or share your favorite excuses for avoiding serious work. We've all got 'em!
20 August 2009
19 August 2009
Each guest post will go up on a Wednesday, beginning next week and running until the end of September. I'm excited about the selection of posts to share with you, and I think the authors are excited, too.
18 August 2009
- Move Along by The All-American Rejects
- For You I Will (Confidence) by Teddy Geiger
- Down to the River to Pray by Alison Krauss (O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack)
- I am a Man of Constant Sorrow by The Soggy Bottom Boys (O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack)
- Follow Through by Gavin DeGraw
- Stop and Stare by OneRepublic
- Only Hope by Mandy Moore (A Walk to Remember soundtrack)
- It Ends Tonight by the All-American Rejects
- Colors by Kira Willey
- Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
16 August 2009
- my cousin Joey, who has had a brain tumor return after only three years, will be able to be healed so he can continue to live his life fully.
- my mom's cousin, who was recently sent to Iraq, will stay safe, as will all men and women serving both overseas and at home.
- my brother's new job goes well, and he's able to continue to move forward in life toward his goals.
- my sister-in-law has a safe wilderness trip this week, and is ready for classes to start when she returns.
13 August 2009
In this post, I'll be taking the coward's way out and talk about how I've spent the summer not writing. This may come as some surprise to the poor regulars at my cantina, who are subjected to several posts per day. So let me qualify that: I've spent the summer not writing fiction. I've not even read any fiction. Which is a rather strange thing, considering my central ambition is to become a wildly-successful fiction author.
I can 'splain. Or at least sum up.
There comes a time in many authors' careers when they realize they don't know jack diddly about anything at all. Oh, they know how to turn a phrase, sometimes well enough to give it motion sickness. They know about plot, character, theme, setting, and all those other things Writer's Digest books assure them are so vital to good fiction. They can tell stories that don't leave friends and family members forcing themselves to maintain a pasty grin whilst assuring the anxious author that no, really, it wasn't that bad. And for some, that's enough. They can tell ripping good tales that people enjoy, they get the job done, and everybody goes away happy.
Some writers, on the other hand, are bloody perfectionists. Versimilitude of reality isn't enough. A thrilling tale is only part of the story. We've got to know everything about - well, everything.
Which is why I've spent the summer running all over the Seattle area and most of Arizona poking my nose into various and sundry, absorbing the differences between desert and ocean, small town and large, and playing in the dirt (where available).
It's why I've read nothing but science tomes for months. Biology, evolution, physics, geology, plate tectonics, sociology - everything I could get my hands on. Anything that will help me understand in appreciable depth how worlds work.
It's why I've forced myself to do a ton of things I've never done before, like walk on the rim of a meteor crater and take a ferry ride, paying intimate attention to every single detail.
And it's why I've refused to allow myself to write so much as a paragraph.
This enforced absence is an experiment of sorts. And it's possible it will fail. My worldbuilding may be no better for all that. My stories might have worked just as well without all this effort.
But it's not wasted time. The more you know about the world, the more beauty you find in it. Discovery is a delight. And I'll be returning to fiction a little less miserably ignorant than when I started out.
Most importantly: you'll all get a chance to laugh while I struggle to knock the rust off my poor disused wordcraft. I promise it'll be amusing.
Have any of you ever taken a hiatus? Did you come back refreshed or regretful?
11 August 2009
06 August 2009
03 August 2009
02 August 2009
- my mom continues to heal quickly from her surgery so that she can come down here when Bean is born.
- August mommies (and overdue July mommies) have a safe last few weeks (or less) of pregnancy, and deliver healthy babies easily.