Sunday, March 30, 2008

Odds and Ends: Strange News

Today over at Murderati, Toni McGee Causey posted a rather interesting response to the question that writer's always seem to get asked: "Where do you get your ideas?" At the end of the post, she came up with some great headlines of weird news. In that vain, allow me to add to the insanity here.

Sex Month Marathon Can Save Marriages, Pastor Tells Parishioners

Really makes you reconsider religion, doesn't it?

Alleged Car Thief Asks for Phone Call

And afterwards he asked a bank to e-mail him when it was ready to be robbed.

Driver Blames Speeding on Bad Oreo Dunk

Remember kids, don't dunk and drive.

Iowa Board OKs Ghost Hunter

Who you gonna call?

Strange News Pic

Boy, this sure gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling.

And that folks as The New York Times says, is all the news that's fit to print.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Quote of the Week

"If you're not failing every now and again, it's a sign you're not doing anything very innovative."

--- Woody Allen

Friday, March 21, 2008

9021....Oh look, another Spin-off

If you grew up in the 90's I'm sure you'll remember this. The show about rich kids living in that prestigious zip code. Who could forget the ever-popular Dylan/Kelly/Brenda love triangle or the on again/off again relationship of David and Donna (who did marry each other in the series finale)? For those who didn't watch the show, here was the basic premise: The Walsh family (Parents Jim and Cindy and kids Brandon and his twin sister Brenda) move from Minnesota to Beverly Hills. I personally thought the show should have ended when the last of the Walsh family left good ol' 90210.

Now, it appears that 90210 is getting a full make-over, so to speak.

Spin-Offs and remakes are really nothing new. Popular shows from before such as Laverne and Shirley (Happy Days), The Jeffersons, (All in the Family), and The Ropers (Three's Company) were all spin-offs. There are now several versions of CSI. Law & Order has two successful spin-offs (I don't count Trial by Jury as part of the L&O franchise). But lately, there has been a resugance in spin-offs and remakes. There is a new Knight Rider series, where the new driver of K.I.T.T. is Michael Knight's son. David Hasselhoff even appears in the pilot episode Sadly, the distinguished voice for K.I.T.T. will not be William Daniels from the original series. Val Kilmer is the new K.I.T.T. The Office is based off the original UK version. There's also the Bionic Woman and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

There are big screen versions of Get Smart and Speed Racer that are set for release sometime later this year. Slated for June of 2009 is The A-Team movie. However, there is no cast at this time. John Singleton (Four Brothers) is set to direct.

So I guess if Rob Thomas (of Veronica Mars fame) and the CW want to give 90210 plastic surgery, more power to them. My only question is will the kids look like they are high school students or will the halls of West Beverly High be filled with twenty-somethings? (Gabrielle Carteris was 29 at the start of the original 90210)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Quote of the Week

"Ambition is a dream with a V8 engine."

--- Elvis Presley

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Odds and Ends: Movies about writing/writers

There are so many movies involving writers out there. Listed below are some of my favorites in no particular order.
  1. Citizen Kane
  2. Deathtrap
  3. Misery
  4. Adaptation
  5. Throw Momma from the Train
  6. Stranger than Fiction
  7. Kafka
  8. Barton Fink
  9. Secret Window
  10. Capote
If you have any favorites, please feel free to add them.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Quote of the Week

"This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force."

--- Dorothy Parker

Monday, March 10, 2008

Method to the Madness

In a creative writing course I took years ago, a student asked, "What's the best way to write?" I don't remember the answer, but I remember the instructor telling us that their particular method was the correct way to do it. I thought that that sounded rather absurd.

Writing can be a very individual thing. Everyone has their own writing habits and routines. I almost always have to write my first draft in long hand (or at least on my typewriter). I think that there's something so satisfying about seeing the words on the page as opposed to a monitor. As far as where, I usually work best in a café, bookstore or anywhere where there is some daily activity going on, although other times I need the peace and quiet.

Here are some of the writing habits of some well known writers:

Stephen King:
  • Writes approximately 10 pages a day
  • Writes first in long-hand
Truman Capote
  • Wrote lying down
  • Drafts were written on yellow paper
Emily Dickinson
  • After she died, most of her work was found on the back of envelopes, grocery bills, or scraps of paper.
Dennis Lehane
  • Said that he sometimes gets his ideas when walking his dogs
  • Writes either early in the morning and/or late at night
Danielle Steele
  • Puts in 18-hour days
  • Uses a 1946 Olympia manual typewriter
As you can see from just the small sampling, everyone has their own method to their madness, so to speak. What writing habits do you have? Do you write with a particular pen? Where and when do you like to write? And remember, despite what that writing teacher said, there is no wrong answer.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Quote of the Week

"Truth is beautiful, without doubt; but so are lies."

--- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Based on a TRUE story

Remember James Frey? He's the author of the memoir "A Million Little Pieces," that became a bestseller as well a selection in Oprah's Book Club. In it Frey tells about his life of addiction and recovery and how he was wanted in three different states. Great story, right? The only problem here is that this memoir was fabricated. Later, Frey went back on Oprah to defend himself in the controversy about his book.

Following in that tradition, this week The Associated Press revealed two more memoirs that turned out to made up.

The first book was Misha Defonseca's “Misha: A Mémoire of the Holocaust Years.” It is a recounting of how, as a young a girl, she lived with a pack of wolves to escape The Nazis, killed a German soldier in self-defense, and traveled 1900 miles across Europe to find her deported parents. It now turns out that Defonseca, now 71, made the events up.

The second fabricated memoir exposed was "Love and Consequences: A Memoir of Hope and Survival," by Margaret B. Jones. Jones shares with the reader her experience of growing as a half-white, half Native American with a black foster mother in a rough Los Angeles neighborhood. Jones also said that she sold drugs for a gang. The truth came out when Jones's sister saw an article on the up-coming memoir in The New York Times. In reality, Margaret B. Jones, a pseudonym for Margaret Seltzer, is white and grew up in a very well off neighborhood in The San Fernando Valley in California. She lived with her biological family and never sold drugs for a gang. She also admitted that the recollections in the book were based on the experiences of people she had met while working at an anti-gang outreach program in Los Angeles. So why did Jones claim the experiences as hers? "For whatever reason, I was really torn, and I thought it was my opportunity to put a voice to people who people don't listen to." That's all good and well, but telling someone else's story as your own is not helping them find a voice.

It is a fact that among readers non-fiction still sells more than fiction and one of the most popular kinds of non-fiction is the memoir. In today's market some of the memoirs that are selling extremely well are written by celebrities, because let's face it: it's a highly voyeuristic society when it comes to the lives of people in the public eye.

The other type of memoir that sells very well are those of people who have interesting stories to tell, particularly if it involves a hardship and the triumph over it, which is the case of Frey, Defonseca, and Jones. The problem with those three though is that their memoirs turned out to be fiction. And their fabrications go beyond the old "I caught a fish at least seven feet long" stories. These stories talked about true hardships and survival in life. In a lot of people's eyes, there is an unwritten understanding between them and the author of the memoir that the events are true and accurate as possible. Now, I concede that it's not easy to remember things exactly as they happened, but it's another thing all together to make up a story and pass it off as fact.

So, I would like to hear from all of you out there. What's your feeling on this whole fake memoir thing? No big deal or something that can be construed as a betrayal of trust between reader and author?