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What’s going on, everyone!
By the time you’re reading this, I would have been about a week removed from my west coast debut stand up comedy appearance at the World Famous Comedy Store! It was a crazy road to get there, that’s for sure.
I was part of a showcase called “Whores On Sunday.” That alone would probably get your attention, right? It was the “final” of a comedy course I had been taking over the summer. Though I had microphone experience, I had to relearn not being afraid of it when performing all over again. The six Wednesdays of prep for the show was intense. I tried to bring new material into class every week in order to “feel it out” or to see how I would like sharing it with others. Students in my class was supportive, and I rarely felt “silly” for throwing up a joke that didn’t work.
Writing jokes is a lot like writing material for the page. It’s essentially storytelling: There has to be a beginning, middle and end. When you think you have it down pat, one read through makes you realize you were way off. However, if you are firing on all cylinders, you feel it. And feel it I did.
Though the stage area was cool, the holding area for the talent was hovering over 90 degrees. Between being nervous of forgetting my material on stage, the heat, and not wanting to sweat through my dress shirt, I was a bit of a wreck. I paced back and forth, reciting my material. I purposefully had about seven minutes of stuff prepared for my three minute showcase (just in case I forgot something.) There were about sixteen (!) of my friends in the audience, and I didn’t want to disappoint.
I watched some of my classmates from the backstage area. Though I was listening, my mind was still on making sure I didn’t bomb my first time out. But something happened. When they called my name, I shot out of the backstage area like a bullet. My mind thought of that scene in “Man On Fire” when Denzel Washington’s character is training Dakota Fanning’s character how to be a better swimmer.
Set me free! Also loves how Denzel says “Trained or Untrained?” Haha, classic!
So anyway, I powerwalk from the backstage area and through a small aisle of table and chairs, a canyon of comedy. I walked on the stage’s red carpet, shook the hand of my comedy instructor and emcee for the night, and grabbed the mic. The spotlights were on me, which made seeing the audience pretty difficult. So I let it rip into the darkness in front of me.
Man, What. A. Rush.
The response was overwhelmingly positive, and I don’t think it was because so many of my friends were in attendance. Something clicked, and that fantasy of being that legendary comic doing a sold out show in the garden seemed that much closer to grasp. I’m trying to tell myself it was “just one show,” it was “beginner’s luck,” and “everyone eventually bombs” but it’s hard not to be proud of myself.
As a writer, they say the best work is the one that’s performed. Today, I had the chance to do. No editors, no thinking by committee, just little ‘ol me and that’s beautiful…
Not sure where I go from here, but I was on a high for days.
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Hey people, Flobo here.
Well, as noted on my Instagram feed a couple of weeks ago, I FINISHED the first draft!
Well now what? As the above picture suggests, I usually write the first drafts of my long form work by hand. Why? Well, I normally say it’s to help facilitate the second draft. The wisdom goes that the book has to be printed at some point; might as well make sure to make your first printed manuscript an improvement over the first. The draft took me (a long-for-me) nine months to complete. In fact, I’m so drained by the process that I’m debating whether or not I should continue the handwriting strategy.
It’s probably the fatigue talking.
Well, I still believe that it is possible for this novel to hit the shelves (and e-shelves) by the end of the year. It’s going to take some work though. They say to write is to rewrite and that’s something I simultaneously look forward to and dread. Sort of like Christmas shopping.
The most important thing to take from this is that I have to keep going. The writer’s road is full of people who never finished their manuscripts. It’s okay to walk if you can’t sprint, but the key is to finish. My mind is already swirling with other writing ideas, so I guess my next biggest challenge is not to become distracted with other potential projects.
The journey continues…
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I usually like to keep this as a writing/media commentary blog, but I figured I do something a bit different. In fact, this post was on my original Livejournal (now defunct) as it was originally typed in anticipation for the Green Lantern Movie. But without any further ado…
I remember when I weighed just about 375 lbs (170 kg, 26stone). I was 24 years old, and I SHOULD have been in the prime of my life. Truthfully, it was one of the lowest. Bad diet decisions, mixed next to little activity and denial (“I’m not heavy, I’m active!” or “I wear it well”) turned me into a recluse. I had friends, but I took comfort in solitude. I could eat what I want, I didn’t have to worry about how clothes fit, and I could ignore the prospect of dating along with it.
The truth is, when you’re that heavy your whole mindset changes. If I asked you to join me at an amusement park, most people would think about their spending money and carrying a bottle of water. As for me, I worried about my stamina, being able to fit on rides…heck, to this day I still have a slight aversion to turnstiles because of this time in my life.
I was always a comic-book reader. My childhood mentor/tutor gave me Archie comics as an incentive to finish my work on time. To that I thank him, because comics opened up my world and eventually saved my life. As a 90s kid, I loved superheroes en masse. Batman? Cool. Superman? Even cooler. Iron Man? I wanted to be him. But when it came time for me to make changes in my life (to essentially prolong my life) I turned to one, Green Lantern.
Man, gotta love that theme song.
The “Green Lantern” Diet isn’t just about eating things that are green (although that certainly helps). It about digging deep, understanding that you are in charge of your destiny, and “willing” the change. Ah yes, willpower. Power source for the Green Lantern Corps and a virtue oft-quoted in self-help and weight loss books. Honestly, the concept historically felt vague to me.
“Willpower? Is that like elbow grease?”
Sure people who had “it” did well for themselves, and I was tired of people assuming I didn’t have any because of how I looked. But in the pages of a comic, through the panels of the Green Lantern Corps, the power of will was illustrated to do great things. A Green Lantern is commissioned with a ring. A ring that is the strongest weapon in the universe but it is only as strong as its bearer. As a young adult, the correlation instantly clicked. John Stewart (my personal favorite Lantern) dug deep on a monthly basis, banishing threats to his home planet, galaxy, and universe. The strain on his face was drawn with agonizing detail, but his efforts always came through in the end. Why?
He was tough. He never backed down. He never gave up.
I remember it like it was yesterday. On February 26, 2009 I signed up for an all-night fitness center. It was the kind that never closed, so I had no excuse to not go. I didn’t know much about nutrition, so I started my “healthy-diet” with fast-food sub sandwiches and salads while I continued to learn about my own body. Training sessions were intense, but for the first time in a long time I didn’t quit. That last rep, that last mile, even going back that next day even when I felt “tired” changed the way I looked at life. I was improving my stamina and strength yes, but I was also improving my will.
Once learning how many hours it took on the track to work off a cheesecake, I was less inclined to have that third slice (Haha, I love food–sue me!). The “sensible adult” side of me knows its kind of silly to pull inspiration from a fictional character, but it’s a good thing I don’t listen to that side of me all of the time. That’s what these heroes are: inspirations. Symbols, even.
I’ve lost about 150 pounds since that fateful day at the gym. No word on whether a ring is going to fly in my window. :-)
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It’s been a little over a week since San Diego was overrun with popculture lovers for Comic-Con! Just because I love having the last word, here is a round up of some of my favorite pics!
Also, Check Out my pics from last year!
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Once again, Flobo here.
Today, I want to talk to you about something that doesn’t matter but at the same time totally does. When you’re reading a book (or screenplay, or any non-visual medium) and come across a new character, do you automatically assign them an ethnicity if the author fails to do so?
Recently I completed a screenplay about a professional soccer player. After the subject of race came up when discussing the main character with a colleague, I asked everyone I sent the script to for their opinion. Though I had not confirmed (nor deny) and background, the majority of responses believed my main character was white. Not that it’s a bad thing per se, but it was interesting thing to witness. Is there a “default” race or ethnicity for characters unless otherwise specified? Or does an author subconsciously drop hints about a character’s race or ethnicity in his or her’s characterization?
The other day I was reading a superhero comic about an alien that crash landed to Earth. He grew up on our soil and learned our ways. Realizing he had superhuman powers, he rose above his modest upbringing to become champion of the world. The hero’s name? Icon:
Maybe that was an unfair example (Icon is a twist on the Superman conceit by design) but it does go to show what exactly we have in our mind’s eye at all times. What’s an author to do? Do we go out the way to state our main character’s background when describing them, or do we let the readers decide? This issue doesn’t seem to affect secondary and tertiary characters as much, as there is almost a natural instinct to characterize them as colorfully as possible (no pun intended).
Later on, I was thinking about reading about this British ruffian with a massive chip on his shoulder. He smacks women around, kills in cold blood, and destroys property at a drop of a hat. He does this so matter of factly, it’s surprising he’s celebrated as a hero rather than being tossed in jail for his crimes and collateral damage…
Just food for thought,
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Today I want to talk to you about interjections. More specifically, I want to talk to you about the post modern interjections we seemingly use every day. But first (from Merriam-Webster):
Interjection (n): an ejaculatory utterance usually lacking grammatical connection…
Sure I know there’s something in grammar that’s called an ejaculation but I’m not gonna say what I was thinking at first.
So yeah. Awesome! Cool Beans! Cray Cray! Amazeballs! These few words are creeping into more of our everyday speech. If you’re like me, you would shake your head at that last sentence. “Surely Flobo, there’s no way words like that would run amok in my vernacular.”
First, I say get that monocle off your face. Secondly, thanks to the Internet, some words that seem to be regional or community-specific are mixing with our everyday speech. Twenty years ago I, or a younger more attractive version of I, noticed there was only one type of person that would say things like “Like, Totally!,” “Gnarly,” and “Whatever!” in a sentence: Characters that were Southern California stereotypes. And for those of you who were more familiar with Southern California, the term “Valley Girl” (or Guy) made more sense. What about today?
Here’s an experiment. Head to a coffee shop (or library, or park, or what have you) and eavesdrop on a conversation. Take note as to how many times people use “like” as a hedge word. That is, how many times they say like to stall as they think to complete their next thought. It truly is fascinating.
But I digress. This is about interjections. More importantly, this is about why we use the kinds of interjections that we do.
It seems when someone is ecstatic the word “Amazing!” is used over others. When something is really appealing or interesting it’s “Awesome” as opposed to “Keen” “Far Out” and “Superlative.” As you can see interjections vary on time period and the background of the person speaking. The problem that arises is one of overuse, “awesome” in particular. What was once a mammoth word to describe something just on this side of comprehension (i.e. an “awesome God”) has become a word that is used when someone finishes an uninteresting story (i.e. “That’s awesome. So what’s for lunch?”)
That’s definitely something to consider when drafting your characters. Everyone remembers Doc Brown’s exclamation of “Great Scott!” from the “Back To The Future” movies because it was different, and actor Christopher Lloyd said it with such conviction. Take a moment to think how the characters you create would act when something surprises them. A character that says “Holy Sh!t!” brings a different set of personality traits to the table than a character that would say, “Egad!”
Just CRAYCRAY food for AWESOME thought!
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Hello y’all. Today’s blog is sponsored by 80s band The Fixx:
Haha, just kidding. I do want to talk about the things that inspires us to write (or create or perform). Conventional wisdom states that inspiration should be linear. You know, like a straight line. For example:
Reads “Twilight” —> Decides on making the characters more kinky —> Changes character’s name to avoid a cease and desist letter –> Releases “Fifty Shades Of Grey”
Okay, that was cynical. But true
Conventional wisdom isn’t “wrong,” but many times it doesn’t paint the complete picture. What I’ve learned in my experience is that inspiration is a lot of time interconnected from seemingly disparate parts. Like a spider web.
Music plays an instrumental role in my writing process. I’ve mentioned on this space before that my first book, “By The Ounce And Other Tales” was inspired by the sweet sounds of Celtic Woman. Beyond that, I’m a big advocate of using architecture as a jumping off point for my work. When the topic comes up, I’m not shy in proclaiming my love for the period of time where Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and Streamline Moderne were in their prime.
Not only have I used them as a guide for story (e.g. What kind of situation would a character living in that time period go through?), I’ve also used the visual cues for my writing structure (e.g. A storytelling style that matches the smooth edges and elegance of Streamline Moderne)
I encourage you to explore your own personal web of influences. Who knows, “one thing may lead to another!”
I get bonus points for working in the title, right? Right?!
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Independence Day is this Friday and I can’t be any more excited for one of the USA’s most patriotic holidays. I mean, look at that picture above. Any bet that eagle is going to land in a baseball stadium on the hunt for apple pie it’s so American!
Happy Holiday and keep creating!