I have not been writing. Instead, I have been “researching” wuxia fiction and TV shows for the past several weeks — that’s my official excuse.
I’ve always wanted to write a Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon style story — possibly a whole epic fantasy trilogy — and, for some reason, I decided to start researching it now.
That said, I still have not finished the Dark Sequel. Instead, I’ve been watching a Wuxia TV series. Bad me! I know! But now that series is done, and I have my life back — I believe it is time to start back on the Dark Sequel and knock the rough draft out of the way so I can start writing other stuff.
Monty Python Speaks! by David Morgan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
How satisfied you are in reading books about the history of Monty Python will be reflected in which order you read them in — most of them regurgitate the same quotes over and over, with just a little bit more spin.
This is the first of several history of Python books that I finished, and, most of the information being new, I enjoyed it. If you’ve listened to the Python Autobiography or read some of the other books about them, you may not have the same opinion.
That said, one of the unique things about this book is that it is basically a series of interviews, all interwoven. Getting these guys in the same room is, at best, difficult, and, at worst, could cause a major land war in Asia, so the writer has split the difference and interviewed them all separately. The interviews were then sifted for commonalities, torn apart, and you get all of the Pythons discussing their own personal perspective on a whole range of topics — which I found VERY insightful.
One of the funniest things in the book is when John Cleese describes how he and Terry Jones went at it for two hours, screaming at each other, about whether or not the chandelier in the World War 1 scene should be a stuffed goat or a stuffed yak. These, my friends, are the types of creative battles they had that resulted in near murder.
Really, the book is a great ride, and I could only wish there was more of it. It does, however, bear several strong similarities to the audio book of the Autobiography of Python — so it may also bear similarities to the book.
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American Scream: The Bill Hicks Story by Cynthia True
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I’ve been playing around with stand-up comedy for a VERY short period of time, and one of the first things I ran into is this — if I did a bit on religion or politics or advertising, I’d be told, “Bill Hicks did something similar, cut it.”
And, yes, Bill Hicks has done just about everything. If you want to learn about the origins of political satire here in America, it all goes back, almost in a straight line, to Bill Hicks (and then to Lenny Bruce).
This book traces Hicks from his childhood through the straight-edge days of his early comedy, through the psilocybin days, all the way through the last days of him alive, with cancer. It’s an amazingly detailed book, very moving, and — as with the life of any great stand-up comic — it has a great punchline.
I highly recommend going through all of hick’s audio and video pieces as well, but this book will give you a sense of the overall story and where Hicks developed his material from.
For a comedian, or anyone interested in American political satire (especially on the RAUNCHY side — Hicks NEVER stops cursing or pushing taboo boundaries) — this is a must.
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