When fiction is more.

Sometimes inspiration is nowhere to be found and the idea of a challenge is just not appealing.

You might still want to think, but maybe not feel…not care…

Meet Bret Easton Ellis

Easily my favorite author, he deals with a far too familiar voice in the depths of depravity, insolence, excess, addiction and downright immorality. How he writes it so well makes one wonder.

Part of the beauty in his work is the ability to show us how simply rotten life can be, how it goes on beyond each of his stories he presents and is ultimately the main character in every book.

The world is not always a pretty place, and he doesn’t shy away from that idea. However, it isn’t always ugly, but to truly understand and appreciate this he feels that you must acknowledge the other side.

Like everyday life, if you actually sit back and survey the situation the common threads he plays with of what is “good” and what decides ”worth” you can find humanity and positivity behind even his most repulsive characters.

His most infamous creation, Patrick Bateman, the sociopathic, misogynistic, serial killer in American Psycho, even displays a semblance of humanity when he spares the life of his secretary, Jean.

To understand Jean and the relationship she shares with Bateman that differs from just about everyone else she      meets is to be able to recognize purity and positivity.

Jean is a glimmering hope that Easton Ellis writes so well. There is good in the world. She is the least shallow person the Bateman character has ever encountered, hope exists.

When you’re done with his work you’re not really done. Typically, like any good piece of work, you’re left changed in some way or another.

Introspection occurs and you find yourself either worse off than you were going in, or maybe you find many more redeeming things about yourself that you just hadn’t looked towards before.

…or maybe, to you, his work is just literature…

Easton Ellis’s works include: Less Than Zero, the Rules of Attraction, American Psycho, the Informers, Glamorama, Lunar Park and Imperial Bedrooms.

Turning the Page

As an avid reader of many different literary mediums I find myself commonly engaged with many different types of audiences in discussions and debates on all kinds of issues.

It is not uncommon for me to discuss articles from political magazines with friends, find myself marveling over new comics with fellow nerds at a comic shop, or occasionally pouring over ideas about a book I’ve just read as part of a reading club.

Each of these used to be done completely in the presence of others. I had to leave the house and there was true effort involved. Time and technology are changing the format for our discussion.

The efficiency and crossover use of the media makes plenty of sense in a technological front, the logical finish to our bevy of smart phones, tablets, E-readers, etc…is one device which takes care of all of those devices.

The cost, however, seems to be far more than just the hundreds of dollars you’ll be shelling out in order to afford the technology. There is an added cost that is the loss of face-to-face social contact.

All kinds of media are quickly growing in the amount consumed in their digital forms. E-book sales have been trending upwards and are a major force in publishing.

This story about DC Comics digital effort, by Mashable, highlights the rise of comics being in the form of digital media. The digital frontier is working with many different forms of the literary medium.

Just this morning the Barnes and Noble franchise (which in an effort of transparency, I do work part-time for) released information of their new product the Nook Tablet. It brings the user not just the ability to consume the literature that the company is known for as streaming services like Netflix and Hulu are integral parts of their marketing pitch. 

Amazon, currently the top of the bookseller ruling through the online market, has their own line of digital devices that are increasingly taking chunks of the actual physical market and pushing them toward the digital side.

The Kindle line of E-readers has been a major force in what could be over 11 million E-readers in readers hands by the end of 2011.

Ultimately, where does this leave us? Will this truly be a detriment to our society and contact with each other? Also, as far as printed forms of media go, how long will they continue?

Will turning the page be nothing more than a saying in the future?

Sometimes You Just Have to Rock!

A big part of what makes me tick is a huge appreciation of loud and in your face music. So it may not surprise you to learn that connected to some of my favorite musicians I’ve also become a big fan of reading loud and in your face biographies.

I basically justify my love of the rock bio as the only thing, other than cutting the sleeves off of my t-shirts and standing a few rows away from a
stage, that might help me experience the life of another medium that I hold dear.

The best examples I have run across to fill my hunger for this subject matter are typically those who thrived during a couple decades that can bedefined partially by the ideas of excessive consumption and an atmosphere that had musicians competing to see who most embodied that spirit.

It’s with a sense of excitement, but also an undertaking of dread, disgust and disbelief that I found my way through and ultimately in love with works defining Megadeth front man Dave Mustaine, Guns’N’Roses lead guitarist Slash, and the masters of debauchery,Vince Neil, Nikki Sixx, Mick Mars and Tommy Lee. The last four are commonly known as Motley Crüe.

The stories told are much the same as they feature the same depraved (yet all too interesting) themes involving the cliched “sex, drugs and rock’n’roll”, framed by the obviously skewed viewpoint of the subjects involved.

The stand-out being the Motley Crüe bio, The Dirt. Where Slash and Dave Mustaine find ways to marginalize their addictions based on outside factors the members of the Crüe take ownership of their demons. It’s a refreshing change on the biographical genre in general that subjects typically have excuses for their troubles.

At once they allow you to see the lifestyle while keeping a safe distance and firmly (hopefully) in the grip of sanity.

Mustaine, Slash and the Dirt are all wonderful glimpses into the mind of musicians (depending how you look at it) on top of their game.

Familiar Friends

What are some of your fondest memories from being read to as a child? What if you found out recently they have experienced a re-imagining and grown in a way that would make them relevant as ever? Would it interest you?

In the early 2000s DC Comics introduced a title that incorporated everyone’s favorite childhood nursery rhymes, folklore and mythological figures into a book called Fables.

The abundance of these figures existing in the public domain give the writer, Bill Willingham, not only a bevy of properties to choose from but also the freedom to use them as he likes.

His takes involve building off of the literary histories of those involved and giving them a modern twist. One interesting usage is the way he has taken all of the “Jack” properties, Sprat, Frost, Horner, etc…and folded them into one figure who has quite an exciting history. Here’s a list of every character to appear in the series. 

Fables

The premise is simple; having escaped from a place outside of reality known as the Homelands by an evil “adversary” many of your favorite make-believe friends are now on the run and living hidden away in New York City.

Over the run of the comic, they have fought to maintain their cover, ultimately won back control of their homelands and now are in a bigger conflict with a villain named Mister Dark, which is a modern interpretation of the boogeyman.

The book serves a bigger purpose than simply telling a story, amalgamating the traditional literary worlds and characters with an interpretation of modern life to give you a unique prism to view the world through. It just so happens you given a great story along with it.

As I’ve grown I have become more socially and politically aware of the world around me. This series loosely deals in adult themes such as alienation, the definition of home (as Willingham is very much pro-Israel, and explores the idea early on with the Fables relocation from their Homelands to New York and a setting that may not be too welcoming to them) and ethical dilemmas.

With 115 single issues collected in 16 graphic novels the series is building quite a novel history itself.

Here is a link to a free download of the first issue. 

The Importance of the Graphic Medium

How many times have you heard that comic books are for kids?

Cover to Watchmen #1

Honestly, the first comics I read were at about the age of 8, when books really weren’t something I cared about. Years later, an avid book reader, I still find solace in the medium and it’s “grown-up” form, graphic novels.

Research that was first done a decade ago found the average reader to be in the ballpark of 29-years-old. This has led to a lot of interest in the properties and a large market for the publishers to cater to. By September of this year comics had made more than $250 million dollars and this isn’t counting the graphic novels or other licensed products.

The graphic novel has become a respected form of media, even critically acclaimed outside of comic-centric circles behind such properties as Watchmen, Bone, Maus and Sandman.

Watchmen is even more significant as it was the first graphic novel to cross over and be recognized as one of Time Magazine’s top 100 english language novels. At this point there are now ten recognized on that list.

Popular culture has also been inundated with comic related properties, especially in the last couple of decades. Many of the highest grossing movies in American history were based off of comics and graphic novels, a number of those having been made since 2000.

The biggest of the bunch was 2009s The Dark Knight. The movie starred such Hollywood heavyweights as Christian Bale, Heath Ledger and Morgan Freeman and grossed over $500 million at the box office. Still think of comics as child’s play?

It doesn’t hurt that Disney and Time Warner own the two major comic and graphic novel publishers, Marvel and DC, respectively. A safe bet is to believe that this is only going to further the integration of graphic storytelling into other mediums.

It has taken time but through acclaimed works and pop-culture assimilation this literary form has finally gained respect and is making an impact in lives of more than just “nerds” and “geeks”.

The Race to Fitness

At one time in my life I was actually a pretty fit runner. Getting up off the couch and hitting the trails for a 10-miler wasn’t out of the ordinary and I actually looked forward to as an integral part of my day.

Of course, things changed drastically as I got older and there’s a definite lack of motivation to find the time to get out and push myself.

Inspiration, as with everything, is a strong ally and like just about anything I can and have easily found a valuable source to be in reading.

Once a Runner is a specific book that has been a great motivator for me. 

Considered by many runners to be one of the greatest books about the love of the sport; it is actually a work of fiction that follows a runner in his attempt to break the vaunted 4-minute mile.

John L. Parker writes with such textual clarity that resonates as strongly for everyone from your most hardcore athlete down to the casual jogger. There are moments, even now after having read it a number of times, which I get chills and my heart starts racing as I work my way through a chapter.

It’s a staple that I can always look back to along with other titles like Running With the Buffaloes, the Perfect Mile, and Pre.

Sometimes the old standby can get stale, however, and of course with the rise of social media there are new outlets to find inspiration and Twitter has become a valuable source of mine.

I follow a number of fitness motivated handles such as @menshealthmag, @runnersworld and @active.

All three keep a pretty active stream of tweets daily, presenting their followers with articles, advice and sometimes products to keep them motivated to maintain a reasonably healthy lifestyle.

They encourage followers to interact, promote dialogue and present a community atmosphere in which you can always find comfort among others who value fitness and can always empathize as well as push you to keep working.

Everyone can use that little push sometimes and there are plenty of place to get it. When we find something that motivates us it can become valuable and something we cherish and it’s comforting to know that there is always more information out there being added.

Where do you find your inspiration?

The Elusiveness of Inspiration

When first trying to decide what I wanted to write a blog about I found myself having a hard time thinking of something I felt passionate enough that I would want to share. So, I started reading things, other blogs specifically to help find some motivation. That’s when the idea hit me, I love to read.

I find the greatest excitement in reading to be the complete lack of boundaries when exploring.

There truly is something for everyone, or everything for someone. From your standard words on paper to the more dynamic graphic novel form ideas are approached in every way. You are sharing in an infinite universe of ideas.

At the least reading affords me a fulfilling use of my time, at best it inspires. I may never have gone to Spain to experience the excitement of the Festival of San Fermín had I never read Ernest Hemingway’s classic, The Sun Also Rises. Being exposed to the latter half of that story as well as other Hemingway works gave me the vision that led to an amazing experience shared with friends as we travelled around Spain, culminating with taking part in the running of the bulls.

Inspiration is a huge part of what I find so appealing in being such an avid reader. My mind is always grasping at different concepts and the nearly unlimited source of ideas that reading provides keeps me motivated and engaged.

Hopefully the inspiration is contagious.

For fun, here’s what kind of crazy, yet absolutely awesome things an idea planted from a book can make you do…