I’m a writer, podcaster, and bookseller whose ultimate goal (besides being a roadie for the E Street Band) is to make reading, writing, and books in general as popular in Texas as high school football. It may take a while.
If I Could Only Take Eight Songs to a Desert Island
When I first saw this prompt, I though at first that it would be a simple task that I could bang out while watching Scooby-Doo reruns on a rainy afternoon; I had just finished a series on my favorite albums for every year I’ve been alive, so eight songs would be simple. Except, not so much.
Southern Rock: My Favorite Songs From an Often Strange Genre
To paraphrase Somerset Maugham, I have never begun an article with more misgiving. In reality, someone from Alabama or Georgia is probably more qualified to speak on the subject of what Southern rock really is than I am, given that I’m a Texan. That’s not me being self-deprecating; Texas never has known where the hell she belongs — West? South? Mexico? — it’s a conundrum.
Three Myths About America’s Founding Fathers
There has been a lot of reexamination of America's Founding Fathers in recent years, with much of it focusing on their flaws. After 200 years of idol worship, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. What is a bad thing is when myths and misconceptions about these towering historical figures are allowed to be presented as fact. Today I want to correct three such myths.
My Ten Favorite Films from Before The Year I was Born
I was looking over my film-watching history recently when I was struck by a realization: far too many of the films I watch (and re-watch) were from after the year I was born (1966). Some of the greatest films ever made came before this pivotal (for me) year, and to correct this oversight I compiled a list of my ten favorite films released before 1966.
Did Rock Music Really Die in 1995? Maybe, and Maybe Not
On several occasions, KISS bassist/singer Gene Simmons (a man who never had an opinion he wouldn’t share with the world), has proclaimed that rock is dead and that the fans killed it. He bases this declaration on the effects of the music streaming industry, and while it’s a compelling argument it is not what I’m focusing on here. Rather, I want to look at whether rock really is dead, or if reports of its demise have been greatly exaggerated.
Why You Need to Stop Calling Yourself an Aspiring Writer
“Literature is strewn with the wreckage of men who have minded beyond reason the opinions of others.” — Virginia Woolf I should admit at the outset that this article was inspired by procrastination. Instead of writing the other night, as I should have been doing, I allowed myself to be pulled into the online time-suck known as Twitter. If you’re a writer, you know that the struggle with procrastination is real.
Before They Were Cowboys From Hell: The Time Pantera Played My Prom
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, when you could still find 8-track tape players in cars, the Internet was science-fiction, and Marvel was only doing comics I experienced one of those moments you don’t recognize at the time but that ultimately stay with you your whole life. To be exact it was early 1983, I was a junior in high school, and for some unknown reason was part of our class activities committee. This meant we planned the dances, which seems stupid now but was big deal then.
Ten Concerts I Want to See in the Afterlife
Recently there was a writing challenge issued on another site I write for, and it caught my attention immediately. It was called “Nine Concerts I Want to See in the Afterlife,” and while I'm not sure it was nine instead of the normal ten, it got me thinking about who I would want to see in concert in the next life that I can't see in this one for any number of reasons.
My Five Favorite John Wayne Films
When I was growing up, if there was one iconic hero who towered over the American landscape it was John Wayne. This was long before we were inundated with social media influencers and billions of hours of “content” on streaming sites and YouTube, when we had only three television channels and film stars were still bigger than musicians or sports figures could ever be. The Beatles were huge and everyone in America knew Jets quarterback Joe Namath, yet even they saw being in movies as the summit of the entertainment mountain.
The Three Most Sympathetic Villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe
We all love a good villain. There is no conflict, and thus no story, if the “good guy” doesn’t have someone formidable to battle against. This has been true since we began telling each other tales around a campfire: David vs. Goliath, Achilles vs. Hector, Sherlock Holmes vs. Moriarty. Hell, take away Darth Vader and what is Luke Skywalker but a whiny kid in Chanel boots?
Four Myths About the Salem Witch Trials
When you hear the word “Salem,” what is the first thing you think of? If you’re a biblical scholar you might think of the book of Genesis. If you’re a horror novel fan you might think of Stephen King’s book “Salem’s Lot.” But for most of us the word “Salem” immediately conjures (pun intended) the Salem Witch Trials.
Five Gangster Movies You Must See Before You Die
While obviously not as uniquely American as the Western, gangster movies have become an American staple because of our century-long fascination with the Mafia, a fascination that has been documented in movies in a way that virtually coincided with the actual rise (and ultimate decline) of the Mob in America. Many of these films have become cultural touchstones, with their best lines becoming part of the national lexicon and even the fictional characters having more staying power than our most famous politicians. My youngest daughter probably couldn’t pick Ronald Reagan out of a three-person lineup, but she knows who Don Corleone is; I am both horrified by this and proud at the same time.