Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ban Book Banning

Top YA authors like Maureen Johnson and Laurie Halse Anderson continue to face attempts to ban their books. Read Laurie Halse Anderson's response from her blog here.

I think the emails and letters from kids whose lives were changed by her books say it all.

Censorship is wrong and un-American. And when you ban books that deal with tough subjects for teens, people can get hurt. Teens need to know that if they make a mistake or suffer a tragedy, all is not lost, that they are still valuable, that others have been through similar experiences and come out stronger on the other side. If that resource is taken from them, they may suffer irreperable damage.

Thank goodness for organizations like Kids' Right to Read, which confronts challenges to books all over the country.

Banning books makes me want to go out and buy tons of the banned books and distribute them for free to every teen I see. Instead, I might reread Halse Anderson's brilliant, award-winning Speak.

Next week is Banned Books week. What banned book will you be reading?

Sufficiently Cracked

As I posted a little while ago, Larry Gelbart was one of my favorite writers. Since then I found this previously unpublished essay from him about what it is to be a writer. You can find it here.

It's full of gems like:

"If even one short sentence of anything I’ve ever written in anyway reflects this dream-like passage called life, I can only hope that the mirror I’ve held up to it has been sufficiently cracked."

If you're a writer, it'll resonate. If you're not a writer, it'll give you a bit more insight into how we nutballs think.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Old Teen Dreams

And... just because I love The Beatles and because we need to remember that everyone was once a teen, here's another great teen song, written in 1963. It too, captures that youthful energy, that desire to date, that sense of endless possibility you feel at that age.

Remember, your parents and their parents DO have an idea of how you feel. They were young once too.

I Saw Her Standing There - The Beatles

Teenage Dreams

Heard Mika sing on Jonathan Ross's talk show on BBC America (my latest crush in TV stations) and instantly felt like a teen.

"Who gives a damn about the family you come from
No giving up when you're young and you want some."

I remember those days, when anthem-like songs about how "We are Golden" made me feel young and alive. Go, Mika!

Warning: not for the elderly or cynical.

We Are Golden (Full/Official) - Mika

Friday, September 11, 2009

Goodbye, Farewell, Amen - Larry Gelbart

Larry Gelbart passed away today of cancer. He was 81, and he lived a good life - a life any writer could envy. He developed the movie MASH into a famous TV show and wrote on that series for four years. He wrote the book for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, the script for Tootsie, and HBO's Barbarians at the Gate. He won many awards and earned millions for his work. You can read the LA Times obituary here, where many very funny people attest to his geniality and comedic gift.

When I met him, we were working on a short-lived TV show. He came in as a consultant to try and save the thing, although even his magic powers couldn't do that. Nonetheless, Larry was a wonderful person for an aspiring writer to be around. I didn't know him well, but I did get to see how hard he worked, how razor sharp his mind and wit were, and the integrity with which he carried himself. Not only was Larry hilarious, he was honest and unafraid. He didn't blink at disagreeing with Hollywood's major bigwigs. He'd call a jerk a jerk, and right to the jerk's face. This is a town where executives who fail horribly are paid millions, complimented, and given production deals.

He'd also call you sweetheart if you were one. And he had the worst luck with technology - cars, toasters, computers, all seemed to implode if he came near them. I'm grateful I wasn't responsible for fixing all the machines he somehow managed to mangle. The rumors said he made a million dollars a week on the MASH residuals from all over the world. I don't know about that, but I do know he had a mansion in Beverly Hills and a house in Capri, Italy, where he'd retreat when he needed a break from Hollywood's hollowness. He deserved every penny, every golden reward. He put his heart, soul, and back into his writing. He was confident of his talent, but never arrogant.

MASH was one of my favorite TV shows when I was a kid, and I told him so. I'm really glad I got the chance to do that. I searched for a MASH clip to share with you here, but none seem to be available. So here's a very funny scene from Tootsie to remind you of his wit, his insight, and his talent.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Beatles Ahoy!

The box sets of the remastered Beatles albums come out tomorrow and it's not unreasonable to say that I'm WIGGING OUT!

I'm a Beatles nut, and to celebrate the fact that the albums will finally be presented in proper sonic glory, here are a few links of interest to Beatles fans...

Take 37 of Something, which turns the song into a sort of bluesy jam.

And unplugged If I Fell, from tapes kept by the Beatles' chauffeur.

A cover of Buddy Holly's Maybe Baby from the Let It Be days.

For true devotees - 20 minutes of studio chat as they work out Think for Yourself, goof off, add X-rated lyrics, and occasional show off their virtuousity.

Amazon says my discs should be here on Friday. I can't wait!!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Holiday Weekend = Writing

Oh, and a Dodger game. And a dinner party/BBQ with friends. And probably a brunch and maybe a movie.

But seriously, I must write this weekend. I've given myself a deadline. I want to finish the first draft of my current WIP (work in progress) by Oct. 15. I'm going to shoot for Sept. 30, just for giggles. I'm probably a little more than halfway through the manuscript now, but that's still a lot of words to churn out.

With the weather here in LA due to cool by five degrees (huzzah!) and a bit less smoke from the evil Station fire in the air (go, firefighters!), it should be excellent conditions for writing. No excuses! I hope that by putting this out there, I'll be too ashamed not to write. I'll report in as needed.

Have a fabulous weekend!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Kindle versus Book

Amazon's ereader the Kindle is getting more and more popular these days. I don't own one because a) the initial cost, b) I don't travel that much, and when I do I don't need more than a couple of books, and c) I like the way print looks on a page much better than pixels on a screen.

However, I think the Kindle has its place, and I don't see why we can't have both books and ereaders in this world. There's room enough for both!

That said, I must share a slightly slanted video series called "The Book vs. Kindle" by Green Apple Books on youtube (you can see the full list of them here) which is pretty funny. One of my faves, "Storytime," below: