Archive for March, 2009

The Tweet Back

Friday, March 27th, 2009

To date, I haven’t exactly been the model Twitter user.  I have it set to automatically send tweets whenever this blog or LB-DG.com are updated (via twitterfeed), but aside from that I’ve rarely touched it.

But that’s going to change this weekend.

As my Twitter trial by fire, I’m going to post periodic thoughts and updates from The Leap Back Quantum Leap convention today, tomorrow, and Sunday.

You can follow me at twitter.com/LBDG.

Stay tuned…

20 Albums

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

Cross-posting this from Facebook since it seemed to have some relevance here.  Props to Scott Schnaars for inviting me to participate.

Think of 20 albums that had such a profound effect on you that they changed your life or the way you looked at it. They sucked you in and took you over for days, weeks, months, years. These are the albums that you can use to identify time, places, people, emotions. These are the albums that, no matter what they were thought of musically, shaped your world. When you finish, tag 20 others, including me. Make sure you copy and paste this part so they know the drill. Get the idea now? Good.

This is in the rough order that these records came into my life (which isn’t necessarily the same as when they were released).

1. Various Artists – Back To The Future: Music From The Motion Picture Soundtrack
The first album I ever owned — on vinyl…

2. Nirvana – Nevermind
A dubbed cassette that Brian Boyden copied for Jon Mack who then copied it for me. Somewhat cliche, but this was the record that started me off on my musical journey and helped to make me what I am today.

3. Various Artists – Singles: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
One of the first CDs Jon Mack ever bought. We played the heck out of it and always wondered why it didn’t include a Nirvana song. This probably kicked off my fascination with compilations, soundtracks, and tribute albums.

4. Pavement – Slanted and Enchanted
The exact moment I started to deviate from “grunge” and expand my horizons was when I read a review of this record that started with the words “Mmmm….pop music.” Went out and bought it and never turned back.

5. Brad – Shame
I sought this out since it was a Stone Gossard side project, but now I consider it my gateway to Shawn Smith. They call him “Seattle’s Best Kept Secret” and I’ve been along for the ride ever since. Plus it has the most awesome title origin story of any album: They wanted to name the band “Shame,” but another band with that name threatened to sue unless they paid big money for the rights. The leader of that band was named Brad, so they decided to name the band “Brad” and the album “Shame” as a royalty-free workaround. Brilliant…

6. Carter USM – Post Historic Monsters
Carter became my favorite band on April 1 1994 when I saw them live even though I never heard a single song by them before. I bought this album the next day, and the rest of their back catalogue days later.

7. 311 – Music
The band I caught before their prime, followed religiously, and a couple albums later dropped almost cold turkey. But Music/Grassroots/311 are the soundtracks of late high school and early college.

8. The Beatles – Past Masters Volume Two
I know this is an odd choice. Under the influence of my parents I always knew a lot about the Beatles and probably had their entire discography memorized at a younger age than I can even recall. When it came time to actually “buy” my own Beatles album this was the one I got first. Sort of a “best of the Beatle B-Sides,” though I don’t think you can really classify any Beatles tune as true “B-Side” material. Both the rocked out version of “Revolution” and “Old Brown Shoe” have held the title of my favorite Beatles song (if not favorite song overall) at certain points in my life.

9. Backbeat – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Brilliant idea of forming an alt-rock all star band to do traditional, straight up, rockin’ covers of the covers the Beatles played in the German clubs in their early days. The Backbeat Band — Dave Pirner from Soul Asylum, Greg Dulli from The Afghan Whigs, Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth, Don Fleming from Gumball (how’d he get this gig?), Mike Mills from R.E.M.and Dave Grohl from Nirvana (pre-Foo Fighters) — put together 27 blazing minutes that introduced me to the concept of the “Supergroup” and still puts a smile on my face to this day.

10. R.E.M. – Monster
The first record I ever stood in line outside a record store at midnight to buy, and probably still my favorite R.E.M. disc to this day.

11. Fun Lovin’ Criminals – Come Find Yourself
My mom used to work in the corporate office of Strawberries record stores. She’d always mail me advance copies of new CDs, but most of them were pretty forgettable. This was the only one I ever felt privileged to hear before most people did.

12. Billy Joel – The Stranger
One of the only tapes in my grandmother’s old car that I drove the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college. Only 9 songs, but I fell in love with the utter perfection embodied in this album.

13. Mike Doughty – Skittish
One man and his guitar…and probably the greatest record ever made.

14. James Robert Morrison – J.R.
It sucks when your favorite band breaks up, but it hurts a lot less when one of the members goes on to make a solo record as beautiful as this. (Skittish referenced above would also fall into that category.) In one of the last Carter USM songs Jim Bob sang “I don’t want the honeymoon to last; I just want my future to live up to my past.” On this record, it did.

15. Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
My friend Chris Evjy told me for years that I should check out Wilco and I never got around to it. Then I had an Amazon gift certificate on the verge of expiration and bought this with it a couple weeks after it came out. And then I bought everything else they ever did…

16. Stereo MCs – Deep Down & Dirty
Reminds me of Luxembourg.

17. M. Ward – Transfiguration of Vincent
Heard his cover of “Let My Love Open The Door” on the radio, bought this album on iTunes as soon as I got home, and bought the rest of his back catalogue a few hours later. (I’m starting to detect an obsessive pattern…)

18. Mason Jennings – Mason Jennings
The official soundtrack of doing the dishes, and quite possibly the best 1-2 punch of songs to start a folksy album.

19. James – Laid
I knew this album long before this point, but I never really appreciated it until years later. Jon Mack would probably put this on his top 20 influential records for completely different reasons, but it became the go-to mellow mood background disc for me in my old(er) age. Also one of those interesting cases where the single is the worst song on the album — and that’s not a knock on the song.

20. Local Boy – Local Boy Done Good
The greatest fictional album of all time, and one I hear so vividly in my head it almost makes me want to learn to play the guitar just so I can record it.

“There is no time travel” on LOST

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

With Season 5 firmly entrenched as “the time travel season” of LOST, I keep seeing reference to an old interview where the show’s producers said “there is no time travel” on the show.  People end up calling them liars and claim we can’t trust any hints they give regarding what may or may not be happening, and feel this is proof that they make it up as they go along.

I disagree.

Let’s look at the full quote in proper context:

“We’re still trying to be … firmly ensconced in the world of science fact. I don’t think we’ve shown anything on the show yet … that has no rational explanation in the real world that we all function within. We certainly hint at psychic phenomena, happenstance and … things being in a place where they probably shouldn’t be. But nothing is flat-out impossible. There are no spaceships. There isn’t any time travel.” — Damon Lindelof

This oft-cited quote is from an interview given during the first season.  A few things to pay attention to regarding the wording used:

“We’re still trying to be…”

The words “trying to be” seem important.  By definition, to try is to attempt to do something.  Lindelof is saying they are “still trying” to be grounded in science fact.  But since the answers aren’t all grounded in that world, they have to make a conscious effort — to try — to keep things reasonable in the early going.

This “trying to be” may have been ordered by ABC.  Ex-writer David Fury said in an interview that the first draft of Rousseau’s debut in the episode “Solitary” contained a line where she said her research team was studying “time” but the network asked to have it removed.  That episode predates this “no time travel” interview by 2 months.

“I don’t think we’ve shown anything on the show yet … that has no rational explanation…”

In this sentence he makes it a point to say “yet,” meaning “at the present time.”  To paraphrase: We haven’t shown anything yet (during season 1) with no rational explanation, but in future seasons we might…

Even more curious are the specific examples he gives to support his statement of what they have not yet shown:

“There are no spaceships. There isn’t any time travel.”

This was not in response to a direct question.  Nobody asked “Is the show about aliens?” or “Is the show about time travel?”  Had that been the case I wouldn’t be surprised if he skirted the issue or told a white lie to protect the secrets.  But here he’s outright volunteering it in what may be a clever hint dropping fashion. Keep in mind that this comes from a guy who called the secret code name for the ending of Season 4 “the frozen donkey wheel” and claimed the code word was needed so nobody would figure it out.  He hid the real answer in plain sight, as nobody suspected an actual frozen donkey wheel!

To paraphrase the original quote again: “We’re trying to stay in the world of science fact this season.  There are no spaceships and there isn’t any time travel…yet.”

If Damon was planting seeds for something that would happen years later, it’s brilliant.  But it does leave one question.

When will the spaceship show up?

One Year Later

Monday, March 2nd, 2009

Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of the release of Timely Persuasion.  (Technically it was released on February 29th, so this pseudo anniversary date will have to do until 2012.)  Crazy how time flies.

Some stats from year one:

  • 24,414 Pageviews from 110 countries
  • 4,116 readers of the online edition
  • 75 blog posts
  • 29 online mentions
  • 5 reviews (4 positive, 1 in progress with a promised update)
  • 2 appearances on Coverville
  • 1 live reading in Hollywood

And a (roughly) chronological list of highlights:

  • LB-DG.com predated the official release as a teaser, with sporadic posts using the narrator’s voice starting in May of 2007.  (Plus one time travel jaunt a little further back…)
  • A Blog of Timely Persuasion debuted on launch day and has turned into a bit of a novel in its own right.  I’m most proud of the chapter by chapter commentaries and the series about the novel Replay by Ken Grimwood.
  • TP earned its first review in April courtesy of Devon Kappa at None May Say, followed just over a week later with a review by Mrs. Giggles.
  • The first TP related Musically Challenged segment on Coverville aired one day after my birthday in May.  A second appearance came a couple of weeks ago in episode 551.  It’s both weird and fun to hear myself unexpectedly on my favorite podcast.
  • June brought us the “Remastered” edition thanks to the generous talents of my college friend Bryan.  He did me proud with a fine looking layout that featured (among other tweaks) Mike Doughty’s handwriting.  I’m still amazed at the difference it makes when you look at the original and the new versions side by side.
  • July had a minor snafu with a printed copy leading to a temporarily shunned reader, but it all worked out in the end and sparked an ongoing conversation with Scott Schnaars.  Scott’s a great guy who heard about the book on Coverville, eventually wrote his own review, and really confirmed why doing this blog and interacting with readers is so worthwhile and fulfilling.
  • The only (partial) negative review thus far came in October and also sparked some healthy author reader interaction in the comments section.  I value all opinions and take them seriously, though I am still waiting for Gavin to give the rest of the book a try to see if it sways his feelings any…
  • November found me confessing to my well-intentioned cybersquatting adventure, catching the attention of cross-media expert Christy Dena.
  • The new year found me reading from TP aloud at the Hotel Cafe with Conrad Romo’s Tongue & Groove.  The fact that I’d been attending the event for years as a spectator plus the knowledge that some of my favorite musicians had stood on the same stage put me oddly at ease during my first public reading.
  • And finally we’ve arrived in the present, where wider distribution finds Timely Persuasion available from numerous fine online retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Powells in addition to Lulu where it got started.  Plus there’s still the free online edition that I hope to keep up in perpetuity.  So if you still haven’t read it yet, you’re running out of excuses. 🙂

I’m sure I’m leaving a lot of events and acquaintances out, so please don’t be offended if you aren’t listed in the above.  (But feel free to remind me to drop your name next time…)

My thanks goes out to everyone who bought, read, reviewed, emailed or otherwise got in touch with me at some point during the last year in regards to Timely Persuasion.  I hope you’ve enjoyed the ride as much as I have, and I invite you to stick around for more musical and/or time travel fun both here on the blog and in my future writing endeavors.

Best,

JL

JL Initials

PS: Guess who I just recently realized I have the same initials as?