Stamp My Passport for Lilyhammer!

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Wassup peoples!

Today, I would like to talk to you about one of the most unique television shows (not really) on television. Netflix’s Lilyhammer:

Ice cold to the fingertips

Ice cold to the fingertips

Now in it’s third season, “Lilyhammer” tends to get lost in the shuffle when talking about Netflix’s original programming slate. The show has the honor of being the first of its kind, and it’s one that I’ve stumbled across simply by accident.

You see, for some reason or another, there are a handful of days when I simply can’t sleep. Though the term “insomnia” gets used, I don’t I have the full blown medical condition the world implies. In any event, one fateful night Netflix recommended  “Lilyhammer” when I was searching to find something to lull me back to sleep. I was instantly gripped, and made quick work for the show’s eight episode season. So much for being the “cure” after all.

To say that there’s nothing like it on television would be an understatement. “Lilyhammer” is in fact a comedic-drama that throws elements of thrillers, mob films, westerns (!), romance, and adventure in a blender. On top that, there’s a whole commentary about leaving your past home behind, immigration, assimilation and  cultural norms that is interwoven with the setting.

Ex-wiseguy Frank Tagliano requests his witness protection from New York to be in the snowy land of Lillehammer, Norway. The reason? Because on television, the Olympics made the town look spectacular. (I wonder if this is how immigrants feel when they see a movie featuring the United States?). What happens next is a series of events that’s simply hard to describe. For a while, I didn’t even try. I would say.

“I like it. But I couldn’t recommend it.”

Why? Not because it wasn’t good (it was!), but I didn’t quite know how to describe the show. In many ways, I still don’t but I’ve come to learn that’s okay.

In an age where there are so many television shows to watch, it’s easy to dread picking up a new series. Sometimes I’ll throw up a show and do something else in an effort to be able to say “Yeah I gave your favorite show a show, but I couldn’t get into it.” Well, you really can’t do that with “Lilyhammer” because the show is bilingual. Which by all accounts a genius tactic.

There’s enough English in there for your mind to try to pick up the elements of the story, but enough Norwegian in there to make it impossible to put the show on and then do something else. It makes for gripping television, especially when it’s done for humorous effect.

I love girls too

I love girls too

The one thing I learned from “Lilyhammer,” is that sometimes not being able to be described is okay. Sure that may put you at odds with a bookstore or a video rental site when they try to put your creative work in a category, but if the story is gripping then who cares?  Whether by mixing genres or coming up with complex and unique characters, it’s all good. Go nuts I say!

 

Or you may find yourself in “Muriburiland.”

Project Round Up!

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Hey y’all, Flobo here!

You know, I’ve been blogging for just under 13 years and it’s been a wild ride. First it was a collection of funny stories that happened to me, then it morphed to diaries of my college and film school experiences, to the writing-focused blog you see here today. In the spirit of keeping things writing focused, here’s where I’m at when it comes to my writing projects. Allow me to toot my own horn and all of that, will you?

 

1. Submitted two of my screenplays to the TrackingB feature screenplay competition. Winners will be announced in January and I hope something comes of it. Notice I didn’t say that I wish I won, because winning isn’t everything. Then again, it would be pretty rad to at least get a nod from my peers in a form of an honorable mention. It’s funny how we independent free-thinking artists still strive for recognition on some level.

2. As we speak, I’m currently putting the finishing editorial touches on my upcoming novella, “Pay The Vig.”It’s been thirteen months in the making, and I’m glad to be finally sharing it with you. I’m also relieved that I’m able to close the door on that project for the time being. Who knows, maybe I’ll revisit this world (Which also shares the same universe of my last novel “High Desert Run” and my screenplay “Celeste: The Rhythm of Vengeance“) some other time in the future. Here’s the temp art:

Coming to your favorite eBookstore.

Coming to your favorite eBookstore.

3. Silverstreek: The Comic is in full swing. What? You didn’t know I was making a comic book about  an idea based on a screenplay adapted from a short story (that used to be a novel) based on a comic book concept? What, have you been living under a rock?! Either way, the one-shot (with the potential for a mini, maxi, or ongoing series) will be available for download in the early months of 2015.  Tell a friends, because the high-flyin’, soul searching Silverstreek is coming!

4. I think I’ve been once again been bitten by the screenplay bug. I usually try to write one screenplay a year. Not sure if that’s going to happen, but now that I’m finishing up “Pay The Vig,” the creative juices are flowing once again. I have an idea for a family-drama, so we’ll see where that goes.

 

As I continue to put pen to page, I (as always) urge you to keep creating!

Everybody ‘Loves’ Chris

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Hey everyone, Flobo here! Today, I want to talk to you about perspective.

When I was a kid, the whole world was in love with “The Cosby Show.” It managed to do two things: 1) Save the family sitcom and 2) showed America a new perspective on the African-American household. Don’t believe me?

But growing up, while I watched “The Cosby Show,” I knew something felt “off.” I understood that there needed to be an alternative perspective of the African-American family perspective, and “The Cosby Show” showed that it was “no big deal” that a black lawyer could be married to a black doctor and have multiple children in a upper-middle class home. For me, it was an “ideal to strive towards” (*ahem* Sorry, “Man of Steel”) and while plausible, wasn’t close to my own New York City upbringing. I realize however that to determine the shades of gray, you have to establish the white and black first (no pun intended… but metaphor totally intended)

As a Caribbean-American man (of Scottish and and Barbadian descent), I accepted the perspective of “The Cosby Show” as something that was going to be the closest to my own. That is, until one lazy Saturday afternoon when my other half and I decided to play Hulu Plus roulette. Enter “Everybody Hates Chris.”

tv_everybody_hates_chris01

Based on the life of Chris Rock, “Everybody Hates Chris” took premise of a hard-working (to varying degrees) working class family and the struggles of not only raising multiple kids, but having them thrive in an environment that could easily stifle achievement. Not so much a community that flirts with the threat of violence (although it was a concern) but rather a comfort level that suppresses ambition.

It was like watching a show about my own life.

My dad worked for the city and struggled to put food on the table as a transit worker. My mother, though a registered nurse, encountered change of the guard at her jobs that routinely threatened her livelihood. My brother and I, as “nerdy” as we were, walked that line between doing well in school and being accepted among the neighborhood.  In short, I felt though the title was “Everybody Hates Chris,” it had something for me in there too.

As a sitcom, it has it’s moments of both hilarity and banality (much like any other comedy program ever made).  The balance between the comedy, family moments, morals and character development peak at season 2 (despite a 4th season creative renaissance) but I didn’t care. I wanted to continue living in this fictional Brooklyn world, an alternate dimension to my own. It seemed to different but also so real.

Now the point of this article is not to say that “Everybody Hates Chris” is better than “The Cosby Show,” despite the fact I enjoy the former ten times more than the latter. Rather, this is about perspective. The idea behind both shows is very similar. Family is the primary foundation (if you’re asking my opinion). But these shows approach this in different ways.

A lot of times as authors we’re discouraged to create because we felt that story has “been done before.” A cynical person would say that everything has been done before but why even try. What matters is your perspective. The way you see the world will differ compared to someone else. Perhaps your life experiences would bleed into the page, having something that may be well-worn seem fresh and exciting.

 

Happy writing.

–F

#Comikaze Fallout

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Hey everybody, Flobo here!

But the time you’re reading this, the 2014 edition of Stan Lee’s Comikaze would be in the books! One of the greatest perks about being a working professional is that you usually get discounted tickets to such events, but this year’s Comikaze held a special place in my heart for me:

POW!

POW!

I moderated the “Weekend Warriors: Achieving Your Dreams On Your Own Time” panel.

The “Weekend Warriors” panel was a discussion about being able to work their creative passions while having to deal with “real life” such as paying the bills or raising children. While I’ve considered myself a “warrior” for years, this was really the first time I attempted articulating the struggles any creative person goes through.

Moderating was a trip. It combined all the things I love to do (comedy, share experiences, teach others, and “working the mic”) into a nice package. The turnout exceeded my expectations and the people who did stop by seemed genuinely interested in what the panelists had to say.

If given the chance, I would love the opportunity to moderate future panels (no matter the subject matter). Maybe it’s that pipe dream I have of doing my own talk show that rattles in my brain, but being the valve that mixes information with entertainment with the crowd is nothing short of a rush.

Well after that, how did I celebrate? Well, I followed my lady to one of her favorite pizza joints, Two Boots!

It's not Brooklyn, but having pizza by the slice in Downtown Los Angeles at night felt like at times. Maybe it's a movie set?

It’s not Brooklyn, but having pizza by the slice in Downtown Los Angeles at night felt like at times. Maybe it’s a movie set?

I actually tried a slice of Vegan Pizza (Called the “V for Vegan”), and I was more surprised it didn’t suck!

Who knows? Maybe I’ll bring the “Yakking then Pizza Snacking” panel to the next convention.

 

-F

Hittin’ The Comedy Store

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Hello!

My “fall tour” recently came to a close. It was a fun ride for sure. Check out this vid from my performance at The Comedy Store on 10/5. NSFW and all that. It was my third time on that stage and my sixth show overall. Enjoy and let me know what you think.

 

 

Switchin’ It Up

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Hey everyone, Flobo here!

If you’ve been following my blog (almost three years here at WordPress, 12 years if you count my now defunct LiveJournal) you’d know that I’m a writer. Am I famous? No. Do I have legions of fans? I’m not sure, but if I do I haven’t been made aware of them. Although, that would be a cool conceit to a short story: Writer thinking no one is reading his stuff but has a massive fan club unbeknownst to him.

Anyway, today I want to talk about Switchin’ It Up (aka the title of today’s blog)

When I was an avid fan of the competition show “American Idol,” I would watch week to week as singing hopefuls would try their chance at stardom. Randy Jackson, one of the judges at the time, said something that really sticks with me: “If you’re a great singer, you can sing (dramatic pause) anything.” It was so simple, but it’s a phrase I took to heart.

Being able to write anything is a something that I strive to do. Now obviously, there is going to be varying degrees of success. Me writing a romance novel would seem as out of place as Garth Brooks covering N.W.A., but the idea of doing something so far out of your comfort zone shouldn’t be automatically intimidating.

Sure my ever-gestating novel is still in the works, but on the side I’m realizing my dream of writing a comic book (an adaptation of the short story, “The Indelible Silverstreek“). I say it’s a dream because I realized I wrote it on not one, but two of my “Bucket Lists.” Comics are a different medium altogether from prose (obviously) and it brings some quirks that I’m tackling head on. In fact, it has a lot more in common with screenwriting. There is an emphasis on “showing” rather than “telling” and there’s even less room for dialog to be stilted. Why do you ask? Well my theory is, seeing a real person on the page (or screen) automatically puts our brain on high alert for dialog that doesn’t “ring true.” For example, I’ve read lines of dialog in novels that explicitly says how a character is feeling:

“Johnny, I’m scared. Don’t go.”

But if a line like that is uttered on screen or seen on a visual page, I find myself going:

“Who the hell talks like that?”

It’s a quirk. Also, as our former disparate forms of entertainment begin to converge, it’s a quirk I see less and less often these days. When I was a kid, they called it being a part of the “MTV Generation.” Now, I guess Google is to blame.

In any event, I urge all of you who create to try something else. Tackle another genre if you tend to only write in a few. If you only write radio plays, take a stab a poetry. If you’re a poet, why not try your hand at non-fiction? Learning about the mechanics of each genre or medium can only strengthen your skills and sharpen your instincts. Give it a whirl.

As for me, I’m so excited that I’m potentially able to cross something off of my list!

 

–F

Halloween Short Story 2014! #amwriting

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Hey everyone!

It’s that time of the year! Halloween! You know, the best candy…the best costumes…the best sales the day after! I mean, how could you NOT like it? Of course, if trick or treats aren’t your thing, you can have pumpkin everything. But what’s All Hallow’s Eve without a little bit of fun? Check out a little flash fiction/short story bit I did to celebrate the holiday for 2014.

Hate Potion Number Nine

 

“I don’t think you heard me,” Marci said as she slammed her fist on the oak counter. “Do what you can to make it happen.”

Marci had taken her lunch break to head downtown on a mission. Entering a small, hole-in-the-wall watch repair shop, she sprinted towards the main counter. On the other side stood a graying, spry man in his fifties wearing a blue baseball cap with yellow stars on it. On the counter between them sat a wooden nameplate that read “Hon. Harvey Tratch, Wizard.”

“I don’t think you understand the kind of establishment I run,” Harvey said, fiddling with his cap. “I specialize in home remedies. Everything else you’ve heard is just that. Hearsay.”

“Don’t waste my time,” Marci said. “I know what goes on in here and before you ask, no I am not a cop. I need one of your potions to get me out of a jam. Am I understanding what you do, now?”

Harvey sighed. There was no used to fighting the bespectacled woman in front of him. He surmised by her dress that she worked in a conservative business field. He determined her forward nature was a product of her personality, mixed with a foolhardy adherence to regimented daily schedule. In short, time was money and he was wasting hers.

“Okay,” Harvey relented. “What do you want?”

“My assistant and I had a…well, you know,” she said. “I need to break it off with him, but he’s completely attached. If I break his heart, he’s one water-cooler conversation away from ousting me at my job. If I play along, someone will find out and I’ll still be in trouble. I need something to erase his memory.”

Harvey shook his head. “Oh, I’m sorry I can’t do that. Memories are something you just cannot alter. Anyone who says that is absolutely lying to you.”

“Well,” Marci said, tapping her heels impatiently. “What can you do for me?”

Harvey stepped away from the counter and opened a cabinet that was on the far side of the shop. The walls were littered with antiques, and he used this to pass off his business as a watch repair shop, but today he once again was dealing in the dark arts. He knew better than to still toil about in his side job, but passion always finds a way of pulling you back in to what you love. He took out a small jar about the size of a saltshaker filled with a blue liquid and returned to the counter.

“This is the best I can do,” he said. “It’s a split up spell. For it to work you have to splash it on both you and your target. I got you the blue one because the split will be amicable. The red one makes the other person hate you.”

“Great,” Marci said. “How much?”

“I’ll give it to you for free if you forget where you got it from,” Harvey said. “I’m not in that business anymore.”

 

Marci drove as fast as she could back to her office. She had about ten minutes to spare until her lunch break was over. She had to act fast. Looking out into the area populated by cubicles, she waved her assistant over. Soon her forbidden lover, tall, lanky, and sporting a gap tooth smile walked through the door.

“I need help with something,” Marci said. “Can you come over here?”

He obliged. When he got close, Marci sprinkled half of the blue potion on his shirt. She then just as quickly doused herself with the rest of the bottle. Marci instantly felt warm, as both she and he fell to their knees, quivering.

Pools of blood instantly formed around them, as patches of their skin, burst open. Their clothes were instantly soaked through, unable to dam the constant blood flow. Marci eyed the dozens of gashes all over her body, each of them getting larger by the second. As her assistant yelled for help, she tried dialing the police from the smart phone that was in her pocket. The screen, now drenched with the deep vermillion of her essence, did not recognize her touch.

“Split up spell,” Marci said, before blacking out.

 

Boooooooooooo! *takes off bed sheet* Happy Halloween everyone!

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