Monthly Archives: March 2011

Susan Henderson on Up From the Blue

Up from the Blue

Sometimes I get lucky. Such was the case, when Susan Henderson emailed me, wondering if I wanted to discuss her 2010 novel, Up From the Blue (the story of “a 1970s bi-polar housewife who goes missing and her daughter who won’t give up the search for her”). As described at her site: “Susan Henderson is the recipient of an Academy of American Poets award, and her work has — twice — been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her debut novel, UP FROM THE BLUE, was published by HarperCollins in 2010 and is now in its fourth printing. Rights have been sold to five other countries, and it’s currently being translated into Norwegian and Dutch. UP FROM THE BLUE has been selected as a Great Group Reads pick (by the Women’s National Book Association), an outstanding softcover release (by NPR), a Best Bets Pick (by BookReporter), Editor’s Pick (by BookMovement), Editor’s Choice (by BookBrowse), a Prime Reads pick (by HarperCollins New Zealand), and a Top 10 of 2010 (by Robert Gray of Shelf Awareness). She blogs at LitPark.com and The Nervous Breakdown. Her husband is a costume designer, filmmaker, and tenured drama professor. They live in NY with their two boys.” (In one of those happy coincidences, this interview is my 500th post for the blog. Seeing as I started the blog [back in late 2007] as an outlet for my pop culture/interview interests, I think it apt that the 500th post would to be an interview.) My thanks to Henderson for her time. Please be sure to read to the very end, as Henderson’s detailing the roads taken by first-time novelists is eye opening.

Tim O’Shea: How challenging is it emotionally/psychologically/physically to write a novel that delves on some level with depression?

Susan Henderson: You know, it’s funny. It’s not hard for me to write emotional material. I find that freeing. And it’s a little backwards from my real life, where I’m fairly guarded. The things that are challenging for me on paper have to do with plot, with trying to take my kind of circular way of seeing the world and make it into something linear, or trying to take intuitions and philosophies and translate them into characters’ actions.

Continue reading Susan Henderson on Up From the Blue

James Burrows on NewsRadio

Seeing Stephen Root in Kevin Smith’s Red State tonight got me thinking about the classic short-lived sitcom, NewsRadio. So when I found the seventh part of this Archive of American Television/James Burrows interview, I was really pleased he discussed directing the series pilot (around the 9:30 minute mark).

Bonus fact, when originally casting the part of Frasier Crane for Cheers, Burrows wanted to use John Lithgow, but Lithgow was busy, leading to Kelsey Grammer‘s lucky break.

Reconsidering Kevin Smith

Years ago, Kevin Smith left a bad impression with me, consistently missing comic book deadlines (though more recently he’s proven he can make comics deadlines). Tonight, my pal Curt Holman invited me to attend an advance screening of Smith’s new film (set to be released in October), Red State, at the Cobb Energy Centre.

As discussed in Holman’s recent interview with Smith: “Smith claims that Red State will be his penultimate film, and that he’ll retire from directing features after his upcoming hockey comedy Hit Somebody…He seems far more excited by the immediacy of social media through his Tweets as @ThatKevinSmith and his popular weekly podcast, the SModcast on Sirius XM Radio. Smith is frustrated with the long lead time to share Clerks-style comedy or the political arguments of Red State through the film medium.”

Smith loves talking to his fans, for example after the film showing, he took questions from the audience. He took more than 30 minutes answering the first two fans’ questions–and was still going strong when I left at 10:30 PM (deadlines and family commitments took priority, Mr. Smith, sorry).

As for the film? Smith cast John Goodman in a major role. For me, any movie with Goodman is a great film.

I may have judged Smith too harshly, clearly it’s time I reconsider his work. The man loves storytelling and comedy through podcasting–and those are three things that appeal to me.

Library of Congress Digital Archives: Cab Calloway (1947)

If you have never visited it before, you might enjoy exploring the digital collections from the Library of Congress. I recently discovered this in the William P. Gottlieb Collection.

William P. Gottlieb's 1947 Portrait of Cab Calloway

You have to love the caption from the publication, Down Beat, where this originally ran. “Down Beat: Dizzy may play be-bop, but Cab Calloway wears it. The king of hi-de-ho poses backstage at the Strand theater in his be-bop suit, much more conservative than his previous zoot costumes. It is blue serge, no drape, no shape, just a belt in the back, pearl buttons and a hunk of watch chain”

Jimmy Fallon Bonus: Kathy Bates Answers Twitter Questions

I really am getting to enjoy the bonus content that Jimmy Fallon’s staff posts on the show’s blog. The latest example is a brief interview with Kathy Bates taking questions submitted via Twitter from Fallon (and Bates) fans.

If nothing else, I appreciate the film for making me aware of Bates’ 2002 film, Unconditional Love.

What Did This Subway Used to Be?

I love exploring the history of Atlanta, particularly in a visual sense.

Edgewood: Present Day (Courtesy of Google Maps/Click on photo to go to original)

So what did this place used to be? Well according to the Coca Cola Company’s blog, Conversations, this was the ninth home of Coca Cola, back in 1898. Then in 1954, the top two floors of the building were knocked off, as shown below.

Same Building: 1954

Caryn A. Tate on Red Plains Going Digital

Red Plains: Ranger War: Chapter 1 Avail. for free download

Back in 2009 I interviewed writer Caryn A. Tate about her webcomic, Red Plains. More recently she has decided to go the digital route with the Red Plains property. She was kind enough to recently do an email interview on the recent creative and logistical decisions she’s made regarding the series. My thanks for her time. Here is how the site is described: “Red Plains is more than a simple ‘shoot-em-up’. Influenced by film noir, the classic pulps, true crime, and, most importantly, the authentic Western lifestyle and history as lived and researched by its author, Red Plains is the real deal.”

Tim O’Shea: What was the final benefit to you that spurred your decision to explore digital distribution as an avenue for Red Plains?

Caryn A. Tate: The main reason I decided to go digital with Red Plains is simple. I love the book and I love its readers, and releasing Red Plains in a wide-spread, easy to access format like this was the best way to get these stories into people’s hands where they can read and enjoy it. The print publishing environment is filled with obstacles to independent work and the market just isn’t a healthy one right now for new titles or creators. I wanted to be sure that fans of the book can continue to read it no matter what device they prefer, and that we can attract new readers to it by offering it at an attractive price. Like, say, free for the first issue of each storyline!

Continue reading Caryn A. Tate on Red Plains Going Digital

Behind the Scenes: Jimmy Fallon as Bob Dylan

This Late Night with Jimmy Fallon “behind the scenes” video is fairly boring (from a behind the scenes perspective) until after the sketch (in which Fallon plays Bob Dylan–singing the theme to old 1980s Scott  Baio/Willie Aames sitcom, Charles in Charge) is over. Then you follow Fallon backstage where he relentlessly grills the folks back to stage as to if the sketch was any good. It never ceases to amaze me how much most of the late night TV show hosts (Letterman included) seem to automatically doubt their talent on a seemingly regular basis.