RELEVANT'S BEST BOOKS OF 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
MY LIST OF SHAME
Friday, July 17, 2009
The book is an edge of your seat thriller. I couldn't even pick it up during the day time because once I started reading I could. not. put. it. down. One night after having devoured a third of the book in one sitting, I had to throw it down on the table and run away so I wouldn't stay up all night reading. Some of the descriptions of the events in the story were so vivid and powerful that I got goosebumps.
One more important thing: I don't think you need to be a Christian to love this book. The book is definitely written from a Theistic viewpoint, but it doesn't preach or force any particular view. I don't know if Rob Stennett actually believes in the Rapture or not. All I know is that his writing didn't insist either way, and that's a pretty remarkable accomplishment.
So, in conclusion, read this book. Better yet, buy 20 copies and pass them on to everyone who you love so that they can be so blessed as well! Then come back and find me and we'll form a Rob Stennett fan club. What are you waiting for?? Go!!
Monday, July 06, 2009
Well, I for one miss it. I miss ballads that are sung over a montage of clips. So in honor I’ve decided to make a list of the top TV themes of all time. And I've decided to only include sit coms for the purpose of this list. I didn't want a list filled with the themes from MASH and ER. Where's the fun in that?
Just to be clear, I am not judging the show. This is purely a list based on the music that plays in the 60 seconds before the show begins. So now, in order, once and for all, the list of the top 5 greatest sit com themes of all time.
This probably should be higher on the list. But this show was before my time. Still, this song gives the whole premise to the show, introduces and gives the occupations of the entire cast. Pretty impressive way to spend 60 seconds.
This song is epic. “According to our new arrival, life is more then their survival.” This song not only gives the premise to the show but also the theme of the show.
Monday, June 01, 2009
RETURN POLICY a Michael Snyder Novel
Nick Hornby convinced me to get married.
Now, I’ve never met Nick Hornby. I probably never will. But High Fidelity was such a spot on exploration of the endless cycle of “get to know you,” “love you,” and then “hate you in explosive breakup” types of relationships that at the end of the book Rob (great name for a character) decides that he wants to experience something deeper. That there has to be something more to a relationship then what he’s experienced, and maybe, just maybe, it’s time to take the plunge.
I had always subscribed to Paul’s theory that it is best not to marry (assuming that I wouldn’t burn) until I read Hornby. He challenged me. Changed my views on marriage. And I also happened to meet the most incredible girl in the history of girls. But that’s another blog.
Hornby also changed my views on literature. Before Hornby, I either read classics like Twain, Dickens, and Hemmingway or I read contemporary greats like Kurt Vonnegut, Tim O’Brien, Stephen King, and Phillip Roth. It did not occur to me that simple stories of normal people had inherent value until I met Nick Hornby.
Well, there is now a novelist that reminds me of Hornby. He has his own voice to be sure, but for me pop culture discovery has always been one thing linked to another: Star Wars to Star Trek, Wes Anderson to The Coen Brothers, Nirvana to Pearl Jam, and so on…
Michael Snyder’s new novel hits the shelves today. You’ve got to read it. It’s the seemingly simple story of three characters whose lives intertwine in the most unique of ways, but it’s literate, funny, thoughtful, a great read and a redemptive story.
I won’t spoil the plot, or give you a synopsis, the promotional copy does a much better job of that then I ever could. But I will say, that like Hornby, Snyder is interested in coming of age stories. This story involves three characters who came of age, were struck by tragedy, and now seem lost and incapable of a second chance. Mike writes each character in the first person (and as I writer myself, I can say writing so confidently in the first person takes a lot of talent, yet Snyder seems to do it effortlessly) as they tell their stories, explain their pasts, and get involved in a Robert Altman like journey of intertwining paths.
Return Policy is fun ride, the dialogue snaps, and the characters jump off the page. Get a copy of this book, it’s great for the beach or a rainy summer afternoon with a hot cup of coffee. Just don’t drink the hot coffee to fast and remember to wear sunblock SPF 15 or higher before you get sucked into the story.
Want to get the book. Get it here: http://www.amazon.com/Return-Policy-Michael-Snyder/dp/0310277280/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1243911673&sr=1-1
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
IN DEFENSE OF LOST
Let me tell you about the conversation that I’ve had at least six times today.
ROB: So excited for the LOST season finale tonight.
SOMEONE: (response #1) I know. I can’t wait.
SOMEONE: (response #2) You still watch that?
So first, here is why you should be watching LOST. It is a show that loves it’s characters. It’s a show centered around providence, faith, philosophy, literature, and it is a show that is redefining the very nature of what television and storytelling can be. And that just doesn’t come around very often.
Still, there are reasons that so many people are frustrated with LOST and they are good reasons. Or at least understandable reasons. But those need to be defused so you can go watch this great show. It’s not for everyone, but there are really smart people who I respect who should be watching this show. So this is my attempt to debunk all of your excuses.
Reason #1 What up with the polar bears and black smoke?
When LOST premiered people expected a show about beautiful people running around on beach. It would be a hybrid between Survivor and Baywatch. But then something went wrong. It started with the dinosaur sound in the pilot. Soon there were polar bears, the black smoke which sounded like a printer circa 1986 when it moved around, and a hatch with a button that had to be pressed everyone 108 minutes. All the sudden everyone wanted to know what’s going on here? Are we watching a Sci-Fi? This isn’t what I signed up for.
People felt like there was a bait and switch.
But the reality is LOST always has been a human story. But it’s also an allegory, a fantasy, a mythic and an epic. It the 2000’s Star Wars or The Lord of The Rings. The elements of the supernatural and science make the show much more than just an adventure show about people hunting for pigs and trying to stay alive by the fire. And like I said, you just don’t see these types of shows on Network TV.
Reason #2 I don’t have time
Come on. You’re reading my blog. You spend half the day on twitter and facebook. You can watch LOST.
Reason #3 It’s just one big confusing soap opera.
Wrong again. A Soap Opera equals lame writing, acting, music, sets, and just all around badness. 10 years from now Soap Operas won’t exist. Whereas LOST has the most compelling storytelling this side of HBO, the effects (minus the lame CGI sub last week), the performances, the writing are all the best on Network television.
Reason #4 It’s too geeky
Greatness inspires geekyness. People are geeks for The Rolling Stones, Elvis, Star Trek, Star Wars, and DC Talk. None of these people, movies, or bands can be held responsible for the lame keychains and geeky tee-shirts that spring up as a result of fandom. It just comes with the territory.
Anyway, there are lots of other reasons to be frustrated with LOST that I just don’t have time for. If there are more reasons you can’t stand LOST leave them in the comment section and I will tell you where you are misguided.
And to all the Losties I can’t wait for the finale tonight. I got money that Charlie is going to show up somewhere.
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
THE END IS NEAR
The swine virus is here. And it’s frightening. In apocalyptic stories this is probably the number one thing that causes the world to come to the end. I know this because in my research for my upcoming novel The End Is Now I tried to read as many apocalyptic stories as I could. I’m not an expert, I just wanted to know the structure. So, I read The Stand, Alas Babylon, Good Omens, Left Behind, The Postman, as well as watched quite a few movies with apocalyptic story lines. What I discovered was there are about five primary things that bring on the apocalypse.
In no particular order:
1) The Rapture (Left Behind series, A Thief In The Night)
2) A Superflu Virus (I Am Legend, The Stand, Outbreak, 12 Monkeys)
3) Aliens (The Day The Earth Stood Still, Independence Day)
4) Nuclear War (Alas Babylon, Terminator Series)
5) Uncontrollable Force Of Nature (The Day After Tomorrow, Armageddon)
These fears can and have caused panic and predictions of "The End Of The World." This panic is one of the themes that I explore when in my new novel. Once you read the novel I’d love to hear what you think about this.
Still, this morning, I was getting a cup of coffee from Starbucks and I saw the USA Today headline about the virus. I thought this is how it begins. And my guess is I thought this only because this is how the end would begin in a movie or a novel. But are things really coming to an end? When something like this happens do you fear the end or just keep on doing what you’re doing?
I’m just curious.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
WHO IS THE GREATEST AMERICAN ROCK BAND?
First of all this is a trick question. There are no great American rock bands. They’re all from the UK. In no particular order: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, U2, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, any of these groups are arguably better then the best America has to offer. So what is America great at? Solo acts: Elvis, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Michael Jackson (I know Michael is not even close to a rock band, but he is greatest pop star ever so he must be mentioned and for that fact Madonna should probably be mentioned as well because she is the second greatest pop star ever).
Many people (my friend John Conrad included) would say that the greatest American rock band ever is Aerosmith. But that is wrong. They are arguably the most American rock band ever. They’ve starred in Superbowl halftime shows with Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake; not to mention Wayne’s World 2; they’ve made the soundtrack to a movie with Ben Affleck, Bruce Willis, and Steve Buscemi; Aerosmith even has their own Guitar Hero video game. What’s more American then that?
But are they great? They were good for a long time. They are the Karl Malone of rock bands. They have all the stats but they’re too easy to forget.
Which is why the answer to this question is Nirvana. I’m not stating that you should or shouldn’t listen to them, I’m just giving you a cultural fact. And you can’t even really debate this (what are you going to tell me Journey was a greater band?). And there are three primary reasons for their greatness.
1) They Defined An Entire Music Movement
Grunge, alternative, call it whatever you want, but when Smells Like Teen Spirit showed up in 1991 it changed everything. From the music video in that old musty gym, to their appearance on SNL, to all of the alternative bands from Seattle that followed—Kurt, Dave, and the funky looking bass guitar player changed the face of music.
2) Cobain’s Death
Again legendary. It’s been debated, books have been written and movies have been made but it was tragic to loose such a talent. Still, I’ve often wondered what would have happened if he wouldn’t have died so young. I’d like to think great things. But who knows, maybe they would have become Pearl Jam making a string of good albums until they finally scored a Sean Penn movie. After all, Nirvana only had one great album, Nevermind. However, my real guess is Nirvana would have followed a career path closer to Guns N’ Roses.
3) The Foo Fighters
Dave Grohl’s band must be talked about when talking about Nirvana’s legacy. And The Foo cements Nirvana as the greatest American rock band ever. Even though, in so many ways the Foo is a better band but mostly Wayne Campbell sums up the Nirvanna Foo relationship with this brillant Star Trek analogy. “They’re a lot like Star Trek: The Next Generation. In many ways, they’re superior but will never be as recognized as the original.” I cannot believe that’s my second Wayne’s World mention today.
This blog is dedicated to my friend Chris Londino. He’s lives in Dallas and asked me a year and a half ago what the answer to this question was. Now you know Chris. If you have other pop culture questions you want me answer feel free to comment below and let me know.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
-- Glenn Packiam, pastor and author of "Butterfly in Brazil" and "Secondhand Jesus"
-- Jason Boyett, author of Pocket Guide to the Apocalypse and other Pocket Guide titles.
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Friday, April 17, 2009
80’s MOVIES I WAS NOT ALLOWED TO SEE
I grew up in the 1980’s which in many ways is somehow the best and yet worst decade for movies ever. And I loved (still love) movies. But my mother was protective. So was my father. They worked in a church and movies were a slippery slope and the wrong ones would ruin me forever.
They were probably right.
Nonetheless, here are the movies that I missed that everyone else was watching:
This was the coup-de-gras, everyone, everywhere had seen this 1984 gem that had the fingerprints Spielberg and Henson all over it. The playground was buzzing with tales of the Gremlin that mother put in the blender while another was put in the microwave. I was forced to only imagine how cool these scenes actually were, though I didn’t know what a Gremlin looked like. I only knew that they were put together by the same guy who did the Muppets and I could only imagine what it would look like if Kermit The Frog or Gonzo were stuck in a microwave or blender.
Another 1984 masterpiece. Everyone on the playground was saying, “I’ve been slimed,” and I laughed and said it along with everyone. But I had no idea what a Slimer was. Or a proton pack. Or Rick Moranis.
INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM
Also 1984 film (wow, I had no idea that was such a significant year; I do have a book that I want to write that takes place in 1984 because I think it is the most significant year in Pop Culture ever. I mean bigger then the Beatles significant. The stars aligned that year. Also, totally unrelated, but while I’m still in parentheticals, Gremlins and Temple are the movies that inspired the PG-13 rating.)
Anyway, wasn’t allowed to see this one either. And I think mom was right about this one. This movie was awful. It was awful in the grotesque sense (monkey brains; priest that rips hearts out) and in the movie making sense. Sadly, this not even the worst movie in the franchise. Indy 4 may puzzle film students for years to come in its awfulness.
WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT?
Jump ahead 4 years to 1988. I heard of a movie where Daffy and Donald had piano duel. I heard of a movie where Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny pulled a prank on the same guy. A movie with a place called Toon Town where any and every animated character ever created came to life. And I wasn’t allowed to see it. This may have been the toughest one to swallow. It’d be like being told that there was a movie where Captain Kirk and Luke Skywalker went to fight and Darth Vader as his group of Klingons as they tried to take over the galaxy, but sorry you’re to young to see it.
Anyway, those were movies I that were censored from me. There were others but these hurt the worst. What weren’t you allowed to see?
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
SO YOU WANT TO WRITE? (part 1)
Every writer (and even more non-writers) have thoughts and rules about the writing process. Nearly everyone of those rules are right (except for those which are clearly not right). I’m teaching a class on writing today. They are writers interested in writing anything and everything. So I will give them broad, general, notes for writers starting out. If you are just jumping into a genre, or still searching for what’s out there this is for you. Hopefully, sometime soon I’ll post more specific notes pertaining only to novels (this is my specialty). Until then, I’ve dabbled in all sorts of writing and here is what I have learned:
1) Write everyday
2) Characters, not plots, should always drive the action in the story
3) Have a place to write
4) Know your voice (what you want to write about and how you want to write about things)
5) Have heroes (know writers whose careers you admire, read everything they’ve ever written including the story of how they became successful)
6) Read everyday (if writers don’t read who will?)
7) Meet other writers and join a writers group (this is not easy, they hide under rocks and even when you do find them they already have a writers group, but they’re out there, somewhere, if you look hard enough)
I know very little about this. The biggest thing I know is what my undergrad English Advanced Composition teacher told me. He looked like Owl in Winnie The Pooh and is one of the best writing teachers I have ever had. He told me always make an argument. Argue anything. Look at both sides. Play the devils advocate. Then, show how misguided the devil really is.
Tomorrow thoughts on stories...
Tuesday, April 14, 2009