S – Town (*a cast for Serial fans) NO SPOILERS

If you’re a podcast person, you may want to check this one out.

Let’s start that one over. If you’re a podcast fan and you enjoyed the podcast called Serial (click here for link) (made by Sarah Koenig last year), you will enjoy this new podcast called S-Town (or Shittown), done by Brian Reed along with This American Life.

I’m not going to ruin any of it for you because I just don’t like spoilers. I’m not into making deadlines for something. For example, if a show has been out for 12 years and now the fans just want to start talking openly about it, I think that’s shitty. I don’t care if it’s been out for five minutes or five decades. If I haven’t seen it, don’t talk about it. This is the logically courteous way to treat something that not everyone has seen/ready/experienced. Another example – Star Wars. I haven’t watched any Star Wars movie since the originals (Episode 4, 5, and 6). But when The Force Awakens was released, Harrison Ford went on the the talk show with Jimmy Falon (The Late Show?) and spoiled something HUGE.

Not a fan.

So, no. No spoilers. But I will be giving a quick couple lines of gist. If you’re not into that, please do not read below.

Here’s the gist (super fast)

Brian Reed, a reporter for This American Life, goes to a small town in Alabama to find out more about the lives of some of the people down there, and how they all revolve around one particular man, John B. McLemore, a highly-intelligent clockmaker.

That’s it. That’s the basics of it. But, if you liked Serial, you may very much enjoy this story. It’s not so much …nah, I won’t go there.

It’s called S-Town (click here). Just check it out. You really might like it.



Prepping for IT

And I just watched the trailer for It, and damn, that looks pretty good. I have a certain way of seeing things when it comes to horror films (*and really it’s that I just have standards. Can you blame me?) It doesn’t count if the movie uses sudden movements and loud sudden sounds to freak out the watcher.

No, I’m sorry, that’s not scary; it’s annoying.

Anyone will jump at that kind of stuff. Ridiculous. So yeah, if you want to make a real horror movie (not a “jumper”), it is my personal opinion that you need to really build something scary as opposed to zipping a sudden jump-out-at-you scene. Session 9 does this well. This one looks pretty good. I’ve always been a Stephen King fan, especially after reading his memoir on his craft, On Writing. When I was a kid, there was a period of time in which I was on a King kick, reading several of his strong novels one by one because I couldn’t get enough. The first one I read was Misery, then Cujo, I read Skeleton Crew and one or two others. I remember one of my favorites was Needful Things.

Anyhow, back to the film. It was a book I had always heard about and have wanted to read. I think back then it seemed like just too big. The size was something that, at the time, turned me off since I wasn’t ready for something like that yet. But here and now, many years later, I would very much like to take on that challenge.

And, if you haven’t seen the trailer, you should. In fact, here.

As you know I’ve been reading the entire Wheel of Time with my brother. We just finished Book Three; incredible thus far. I know I’ve dropped the link before, but since I’m already in the habit, HERE IT IS again. You can go here to follow our progress as we roll through the entire Wheel.

Other than that, life is dandy. I finished the first draft of a short story I had worked on for a couple of weeks and it was a relief to get it done. I also had some great writerly friends of mine give me some great feedback on that story. One of those even sent me some of her stuff back so I could get a look at it. I’m slowly getting my way through it, though, good stuff.

Finally I’m listening to the serial podcast S-Town by This American Life. My wife and I got into Serial when that came out last year, and it was really good. But, you had to wait for a week for each episode to come out. In S-Town, all of the episodes are already out. You can, if you’re so inclined, “binge watch them.” I must admit, whatever little skepticism I had about this cast was dusted and washed away after the first (maybe two) episodes you watch. I can’t say any more that that. Here’s the CAST if you want to go ahead and try your chances.

Other than that, folks. It’s back to writing.

Keep at it. No complaints.




There’s this serial podcast that we’ve started listening to. The name is original enough – Serial. It’s good. It’s about a murder case told over the course of maybe eight or nine messages. This is the first one. I’m not sure if there will be more or not, but I hope so. It was a recommendation of a friend, and it’s something we’re grateful to have. Thanks, Grimey.

As of this writing, we just finished Episode 7. Pretty entertaining. My friend asked me today what kind of serial podcast it was, seeming to think it was something similar to those which were broadcasted all over the nation in the 1940s and 50s. No, it’s nothing like that. This is delivered in documentary fashion, that is, taking a real case from the 1990s and cracking it open again – going back over it, first as a favor, and later as a full-time job.

If it’s not something you think you’d be interested in, but you still want to keep reading what I have to write about here, then please look away for ONE PARAGRAPH so I can give the others a nice little intro. ** I’ll try not to give anything huge away, but I will be giving some background and just some insight into the case and how the case is portrayed here.

The reporter here, whose name is Sarah….something, begins work on the case as a favor to a friend. It develops into something a bit more and then, by the time you reach Episode 3 or 4, I’m going to guess you’re really into it. It goes over a murder case which happened in Maryland in 1999. The victim was a high school girl named Hae Lee (I believe), and the convicted was her then boyfriend – a guy named Adnan Sayed (again, spelling is something I’m not going to worry heavily about here – yes, I realize can just go to the Internet and look up the information, but I’m not going to do that because I’m not feeling particularly excited about doing something like that). ANYWAY. The deal is that after school on February 13th, 1999, this girl, Hae, was murdered. She was found in a local park, several miles from the high school. There is a handful of suspects, but after a long trial and lack of evidence to point to the other side of things, Adnan is convicted and given a life sentence at, I think, the Maryland Correctional Facility. Now, this reporter has spent more than a few hours to try and see, if she can, what really happened that day, and if Adnan really did it, or, if not, who the real killer was. The thing is that nothing’s really going well for Adnan. Some days we think that he was totally the one who did it, and other days we’re just not sure. There’s something going on with his friend (who wasn’t really a friend, but more like an acquaintance), Jay, but neither of us know what that is.

I’ve never really put a lot of thought into the idea of murder. Not that I’ve

The big fat POINT is that it’s a podcast that’s interesting and one that I think you all would enjoy.

Not that I’m saying it gives you any insight into the mind of a psychopath, but it’s interesting all the same. I think it helps me look a bit more at how murder cases work, how interesting the clues can be and how the unlikeliest of things can really turn out to be something pretty interesting.

Okay, so really that’s all I have for you. Go out to your favorite web browser and type in the words ‘serial podcast,’ and click in the first link. You’ll realize that all you had to do was type in serialpodcast.com and you would have been home free.

Enjoy the episodes. It’s not like your life isn’t already full of distractions. But, at least this one’s educational.

Off you go, then. Go learn about murder.

Books with Batteries

The new and the old

Readers –

This one’s for you.

Kindles, Nooks, online books, reading on iPods and Pads and such, what do you make of it all?

There’s a Podcast I listen to with a certain degree of regularity; it’s called Writing Excuses. It discusses, as you can probably surmise, writing, and all of the ins and outs of it. The particular episode I listened to today discussed the future of publishing. The panel opined that the publishing industry’s future would be almost entirely digital.
I’m not sure if I listened to the episode twice to ensure I heard them correctly or because I wanted to see if there was anything I had missed. Maybe it was a bit of both. Anyhow, since then my curiosity’s been sufficiently piqued and I’m now wondering how those around me prefer to read.
History takes digital ‘leisure’ reading back to somewhere around the ‘70s, but I wouldn’t say it blew up until Amazon came out with the Kindle in 2007. Barnes & Noble came out with the Nook shortly after and since then it’s been a predictable battle to see who’s palm will cover the baseball bat. As an observer watching the technological race for the blue ribbon in this field, it’s been madness. It’s all moving so quickly. I mean, I’m not the worlds most avid reader, but I never really saw a point for any other medium on which to read. That is to say, I never thought there was anything wrong with the regular old book. I mean, the average book that one sees in any bookstore takes up little space on one’s person and can most often be stuffed in a pocket or a bag, making it reasonably portable. You start with page one and carry it around until you get to the end. That’s it.
With electronic readers (e-readers), isn’t it just a technological replica of the same idea? I mean, it takes up a little space, you start at page one and take it with you until you get to the end <<shrugs>>. Where’s the alluring advantage there?
Okay, okay, I can all but hear the techy e-reader fans from the other side of this screen yelling at me.

Raucous Screen Crowd: “It can hold more! It’s cheaper! I has wireless Internet! It’s worth more if you steal it!”

I’ll disregard that last one. It was just a few weeks ago when I was speaking to a friend of mine who was going to be taking a long trip the following day. I asked her (for the sake of anonymity, let’s call her ‘Julie’) if she was prepared for her trip (i.e. did she have enough reading material, movies, games… you know? Distractions). She said that she had her Kindle which had (and I paraphrase) something like 120 books on it. Okay, in response to your first exclamation, you’re clearly correct. I wouldn’t ever be able to take 120 books on my person on a plane ride…comfortably. However, why in tarnation do you need to have 120 books right then and there?

Answer from the raucous crowd: You don’t need it then and there necessarily, but you don’t have to buy it, but you have it if, perchance, you somehow need or want it.
I think that’s a fantastic argument. I’ve never really thought of it like that. I mean I could argue all day that people won’t need that many books, but I’m not everyone and everyone’s not me. Let’s face it, people want to have things sometimes, just to feel happy and comfortable that they have them. These people know that if, for whatever reason (say, Alex Trebek calls up and asks them who the first character mentioned in Act I, Scene II of Shakespeare’s Othello is), they have it and they can get to it.

But, I don’t need all 120 titles with me at all times, nor do I mind spending a few extra dollars to have the book itself. It may just be me, but you really can’t beat the book.

There’s something about a book that appeals to the senses. It’s the scent, the feel of the cover’s texture and the subtle breath of the pages as your thumb fans across them. It’s hearing the page as it turns from the unread to the read and the sound of the entire unit as it closes on the wedged bookmark. It’s all there – the tactile, the scent, the visual, and the audible…all but the taste…and if done right, it can be almost as good as the real thing. Its the sensuousness that gives me pleasure.

I’m not writing this to vilify e-readers. On the contrary, I can see why, for some people, it may be the better choice. If you’re a traveller and you have to switch between different books, newspapers, magazines, professional journals and anything else, heck yeah; e-reader is the way to go. But, if you just read one thing at a time, want to enjoy just the experience of reading, then why not go out to a local bookstore and let your mind off the leash for a bit?
With regard to reading, the future in my mind is as it has been, the real deal – a book. I’m not saying I’ll never use an e-reader (I may even read a whole book on one), but nothing gives you the experience of it all like holding the book in your hands, finding your reading nook with a snack and a drink, and letting the pages do the rest.