Archive for July, 2008

Rush… The Colbert Outtake

In keeping with the Colbert Report clip…

There was a posting of some out-take material prior to the show. They sat the guys down with a “Rock Band” set-up, and had them try to play Tom Sawyer in the video game. If they mentioned the difficulty setting, I didn’t catch it. I thought it rather funny to watch, more for the outcome (**spoiler, they “fail” at their own song), than watching them sit around playing the game.

The editing is actually done very well, and I think I caught Alex with a little of the, “WTF? How does this work?” expression as he was watching the on-screen frets roll by… much like I have the first time I try playing through songs in Guitar Hero…

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In keeping with the previous post, I do want to say this, but it’s more “broad” than tying it into the writing prompt…

I think that is one of the neatest things to see/read, is the picking of the minds of people and finding out what their influences have been, or what styles they may enjoy.
Neil Peart has a section on his website titled “Bubba’s Book Club”, where he recaps some of the books that he has read, commenting/suggesting the ones that he especially likes. Stephen King has mentioned the authors that he enjoyed growing up. Musicians are well documented for saying where they were influenced “when they were coming up” and learning how to play… the styles, the sounds, the techniques or the showmanship.
It has also been surprising for me to “do my homework”, and uncover some great things that I otherwise may never have found. I will admit, the exact opposite could easily be said, that I may not like “the influence”… but it is still a discovery that I am grateful for making…

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le Tour de France

For someone who has been so enthused over the tour for the last several years, it took an email announcing this year’s winner to remind me that it had happened. To be fair, I had looked at some of the standing in the early days, even managing to see some highlights when staying at the hotel before going to the concert last weekend.

But my attention was unfocused, like a fan whose favorite team missed the playoffs. Postal/Discovery doesn’t exist anymore. Astana, the team where most of the key players from Dicovery went to (including the 2007 Tour winner), was unable to compete this year, due to issues from the team’s former staff.

There was Team Columbia, based out of the US, sponsored by the outdoor company, but I didn’t register to much with them. There was very little name recognition for me to follow this year, since cycling is not as ardently followed as it is around the rest of the world. And the publicity seemed to be very slight (not that I was in a position to be seeing a lot of it), but it just seemed like this was an off year to try and follow it.

I’m happy that the 2008 Tour has concluded, and my congratulations go out to the jersey winners. I just hope that a lot of the circling issues (the various governing bodies, “conference”/league issues, etc.) can be resolved to make next year’s tour better…

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Writer’s Inspiration

It is the inevitable question that is asked of “great” (read: consistent, best-selling authors… or the writing instructor)… “Where do you get your ideas from?” I think it is to simple of a question, and too broad of a canvas to ask to be painted.

Writers get ideas from the world around them… from life stories that have been lived, and places that have been travelled. I’ve heard it said that the key question a writer would consider is, “What if…?” and see where that takes them.
However, another interpretation of this “classic” (and, I agree, annoying-at-times question) should be, “What have been your influences, and your interests?” A writer is somehow going to incorporate elements (some overtly, others subconsciously) of the writer’s they have read, and the styles that they like. Stephen King read a lot of noir/pulp fiction and ghost stories growing up, and it comes out in his writing. Tolkien was into mythology, and created the Rings series.
Writers get their ideas by paying attention to what is happening around them, and filtering those events through their influences. And if they arrive at a story they would like to read, then it will come out of them, like rain from the clouds, allowing the imaginations of others to be nourished from their experiences…

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About Writing…

“Wil’s Wisdom” from Comic-Con…

This is an interview piece that Wil Wheaton had posted on his site, of an interview that was done at the 2008 Comic-Con. Overall, the interview is an interview, held in a large hall… (I only sort of listened through it when I was at work earlier today, with the volume low) but I’m sure it was a good interview…)

However, in the last two minutes, he recaps some of the best, simplest advice about writing, that a lot of us still need to fully grasp (one that I think I’ve pretty well come to terms with)… “Don’t be afraid to suck, and you’re going to suck.” He elaborates more, but that’s the fundamental point.
I don’t mind sucking (at a writer, at the moment), since I know it’s part of the process. The writing process requires a lot of exercise – practice, and pages of experimentation – to get past the suck. And even the best writers are going to have things that suck. But they write, and write through it, and beyond it… and that is more the mountain I face… logging the pages… but I am on that journey…

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Script Update

I’ve been working on a script… a shorter work (as I’m thinking about it, it could work about like Jon Bon Jovi’s Destination Anywhere – yes, I actually saw it when it aired, and had the CD). I’m shooting for about 60-ish pages (that’s where I think it will end up), and I’m wanting to finish it by the end of the month – July. But it’s something based on a song…. and that’s all I’m going to say about it right now…

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Weekend Update: Concert (part 2)

We arrived at the hotel by 4 o’clock, still a little full from lunch at MC’s parents, so we just hung out at the hotel, setting up the fold-out couch, and getting ready for the concert. The room was nice enough – two queen beds and a pull-out sofa, but I was thinking it might actually be two seperate bedroom spaces (like I have had at some other hotels)… oh well…

My sister had not told her boys what the grand plan was for the weekend, but they had picked up that we were going to a concert. The youngest asked, “Mom, are we going to a concert?”

“Yes,” she replied. “And who would you want to go to a concert to see?”

He contemplated this question, tapping his chin in deep thought. “Rush?!” he said, his voice almost asking a question, as well as giving an answer. He’s seven, and likes to rock. His older brother (10) got in on it, “We’re going to see Rush?” And there was much rejoicing by them.

We stopped off at a Bob Evans, right next to the hotel, for dinner on the way to the show, and finalized the seating arrangements. I would be in the closer group of seats, with the two oldest boys.

We tried to use text messages between the sections, during the course of the show, but there just wasn’t the same immediacy as sitting with MC to point out some of the videos, or items on the stage. Also, since they released a live album from last year’s tour, and there are plans for a live DVD to be released this fall, I wasn’t so worried about trying to track down the setlist (like last year… which, by the way, I realized I was wrong with what I thought some of the songs were…).

The main recognition that MC’s nephew had with Rush was “YYZ” from Guitar Hero 2 (which was the last song they played), but he enjoyed himself. Of course, my nephews had fun (even though the youngest fell asleep during the encore, I was told his head was rocking along during the drum solo. MC was actually quite receptive, overall, for her first substantial exposure to them. “They’re obviously very talented,” she said, “but I couldn’t really understand them. And with everyone standing, I couldn’t really see the screens.”

However, one point of humor that has to be pointed out… you know how most of the time the line at the men’s room is usually very non-existent, or moves quickly, while the ladies room will extend 20-30 people from the entrance? Exact opposite… the ladies room was a breeze through while the guys were stuck waiting to go. “And I’ve never seen so many mullets it one place,” MC mentioned (referring to many of the fans).

Another humor point that my sister and I noticed – a guy, driving a black Ferrari… and having to park in a gravel parking lot. What the hell was he thinking?

We returned to the hotel, blessedly by way of a “back route” (the same way we go to the venue, actually – but it did not involve getting on I-85, which was how virtually all of the rest of the traffic was heading), everyone showered, and collapsed onthe beds for a few hours of sleep.

The next morning, we met up with my friend Ben who lives out there, and we all went to breakfast (at Cracker Barrel, again, as it was too early for the lunch-themed restaurants, and we were all hungry). After breakfast, we all went to Concord Mills mall for a little over an hour, to do a little shopping “since we were there”. After dropping Ben off back at the CB, we reversed the route, going back to Winston-Salem before coming back east, and calling it a trip.

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Weekend Update: Concert (part 1)

What had started as a plan to go to the concert with my sister and my fiancee morphed into something else… a family trip. As previously recounted here, I took my sister and nephews to see the Rush: Snakes & Arrows tour in 2007. When I heard they were doing another leg, extending the tour into 2008, I planned to go. I had only planned for the three tickets, since the nephews could have been with their other parental unit in Texas for most of the summer (didn’t happen, long story, but the ex-bro-in-law has moved back to NC… and I mention this only because it’s relevant to the story) on the anticipated concert date…

But I am a geek in that respect… I had the three tickets, but wondered, “Is there anything closer?” I checked, and there were (by about 15 rows), and I got another three tickets. But I had time to decide what to do with the other tickets, so I didn’t sweat it. I checked with some other friends (and MC’s family), with no takers. Since the ex-BiL was in the vicinity, I did the nice thing and offered to sell them to him – not because I really wanted to see him, but because it would give him a chance to actually, maybe, be a parent and allow him to spend time with his kids. And that fell through.

So we changed tack, and decided to take my nephews, which left us with one ticket – a little easier to deal with. So we tried the adult rounds again, but with no takers. MC had been considering seeing if her nephew (age: 14) could go, and with everyone else in our area declining, she called “out west” to see if he could go. Which, after some discussions out there, it was decided that he could go.

The weekend came for the concert, and my sister and nephews came up on Saturday – and we went out for dinner at Cracker Barrel, and breakfast at a local bagel shop – before leaving kinda early on Sunday. We drove out to Winston-Salem to pick up MC’s nephew, and switch vehicles (into something that would be more comfortable for six people). From there, we rolled down to Charlotte so we could check in to the hotel, relax a little, and get dinner before the concert.

Next: The details…

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On The Colbert Report (Comedy Central)

So, I found out that the group was going to be on the show last night, but it aired after I had gone to bed. So, I watched the segment this morning, online… hehehe

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In Brief…

I have a story to read/comment on for tonight’s group, and some writing of my own that I want to try and get a dent in, but I had a quick comment that I wanted to post…

Rush! This weekend! A slightly modified setlist from last year, and in a different venue (in NC this time, instead of Virginia Beach). I’m stoked, and already thinking about the ’08 tour stuff (to see how different it might be).

Last year was cool, because I got to take my nephews to their first “real” concert… This year, I’m taking them again, and taking MC along as well… She’s not overly thrilled about it, but it’s that trade-off in a relationship – the give-and-take that makes things work for the long-term… if you don’t know what I’m talking about, that’s your issue.

I’m going to a concert this weekend!

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