Monday, May 23, 2011

Versatile Writer Award 2: I’ll stab you if you make a Breakin’ reference

Last week Mr. FAR gave me this Versatile Writer award. I’d previously received it from Mari Juniper last year, but it’s very affirming to know a year later I’m still dexterous at the keyboard. The game requires seven seldom-known facts about the recipient, and for it to be passed on to someone else. It’s a little like visiting an unlicensed brothel.

1. When I was very little my uncle would hold me over the edge of his apartment building by my feet. I was probably annoying enough to warrant it, but it instilled a decades-long fear of heights.

2. In high school I seldom swore, disdained any sort of misbehavior, and was generally grumpy. In my Business class they called me "Grandpa." They'd mockingly ask me to tell them about the war. My stock response was to ask, "Which one?"

3. Last Tuesday I listened to Beethoven's symphonies for six straight hours. It helped me knock out a troublesome scene. There’s probably a blog post coming soon about listening to music while writing. I’ve joked about sending Hans Zimmer a royalty check for all the help summoning emotion his scores have given me.

4. I watched and read through nine of William Shakespeare’s plays, desperate to find one I actually liked. I feared disliking so much of Shakespeare would invalidate some useless but socially desirable part of me. Thank God Hamlet was good.

5. I enjoy 24-hour super markets because I like to dance with the cart in the empty aisles after midnight.

6. I have the terribly offensive habit of seeing humor in sickness and death. Meeting a fibromyalgia patient, I told her we should get our medical records and compare, because, “It’ll be like a game of Yu-Gi-Oh, only with decks of shitty lives.” It’s taken years, but now I’m quiet during most tragedies and funerals, not because I’m mourning, but because I’ve tired of being chastised for going against the accepted mood.

7. I watch way more Japanese professional wrestling than you think. That might actually be “any Japanese professional wrestling.” Kenta Kobashi is my all-time favorite striker. Once per week I hook up with a fellow writer Randall Nichols online to watch a simulcast of Dragon Gate Infinity. When Dragon toured the U.S. and hit Boston, I sat in the second row. Shingo Takagi and I had a moment where he was about to destroy a dude and I gave him the double thumbs-up. He looked down at me like he wanted to eat me alive. It was a highlight of my year.

So now that I’ve admitted those things, I’m sure you’re highly interested in my list of versatile writers. Here are five:

1. Stephen Book has to be first. He attempts a new style or genre for nearly every #fridayflash. Despite shifting so much, he has a routine standard of quality in the upper class of the community. More people should be reading his blog.

2. Chuck Allen, whose blog includes arguments against auto-flushing toilets, activism against slave trafficking, and sometimes Westerns. Diversity! Versatility.

3. Danielle La Paglia was tinkering with some ideas, but decided to do a YA project just for her daughter. Think about that – could have written other stuff, went into this for her daughter. That’s pretty cool. Also demonstrates versatile. Her thematic serials also span an impressive range of emotions. Well worth checking out, especially since they pop like candy.

4. Tony Noland, the first writer I met through Twitter who actually conversed with me about versatility. He also blogged about the importance of experimenting, and fears of losing his audience for writing different sorts of things. As someone who has proudly lost plenty of people because he wrote one thing instead of another, I endorse this fella.

5. Now I mentioned Randall Nichols in the previous list, so he precedes everyone listed here, but he’s also last on this list. What does that mean? As Lex Luger would say, “I don’t know.” Based just on the scripts I’ve critiqued for him, Nichols has done modern kung fu, backwoods vampires, checkout clerk angst and nudie bar suicides. You should go talk to all of these people, but when you talk to Randall, ask him about his love for Clash of the Titans.


  1. Thanks, John. I appreciate being mentioned among such good company and by one of my favorite writers. #versatilehappyface

  2. Wow! Thanks, John! I am extremely honored to be included here.

    I love the seven facts you presented. I can't see you being called "Grandpa". That was funny. I was also surprised about the Shakespeare comment. I would have guessed there was some influence from his work in yours. I think I was fortunate in that Hamlet and A Midsummer Nights Dream were the first of his plays I saw - enjoyed both of them.

    #6 is good to know. Maybe I can have you speak at my funeral, 'cause I sure don't want it to be a somber time. (I don't have a date on that yet, but I'll get back with you.)

    Thanks again for the award. *dances through the house singing "We are the Champions"*

  3. Hai! Fan of the Puro here John too! Never had the pleasure of being able to watch it regularly - we had a Wrestling Channel in the UK for a while which was cool for my NJPW, NOAH fix. I think there's something worthwhile in a consideration and comparison of the story telling in puro, English and 'modern' American styles. Its like three different languages. Dont get me started on lucha.

  4. I still remember the poisonous looks our table got at the Bennington cafeteria because we didn't maintain an adequate level of somber brooding after the numerous tragedies that befell the school. The first time, I was amazed at your audacity; when the last time rolled around, I had become merely envious of your confident nonchalance!

    Glad to see you getting lauded. But, do I have to address you as "His Lord Writership John Godzilla Wiswell III 4th Esq., M.D." for the next six weeks, like the last time you got this one? That got old really fast.

  5. That's one great list, John! I love your confessions too, and I wouldn't respect you any less because you dislike Shakespeare. But then, there's Hamlet... lol

    Many congrats to everyone! (including John, of course)

  6. Danni, you're quite welcome. I still think you're very good to your daughter.

    Chuck, pretty much all writers in the English language since Shakespeare's death have been influenced by him. John Steinbeck was a serious influence on me, and he was keenly interested in Shakespeare. It trickles down, even if I don't appreciate the bulk of his plays. Lucky me, Hamlet is the great piece of work so many professors insisted it was.

    Chris, what I wouldn't give for a proper Wrestling Channel that covered the likes of NOAH and NJPW.

    Max, you can just call me Godzilla. I'll settle for that. I stomp on the feelings of obnoxious I-never-met-her mourners.

    Mari, you disrespect me for like Hamlet?

  7. I just want to say thank you again. To be called "versatile" by someone with your body of work is such an honor I can't even properly intimate it here. I don't think a high five delivered while passing each other in monster trucks could even show my appreciation. Thank you, John.

  8. I laughed out loud John at the Shakespeare one!

    and the dancing with the cart at midnight. LOL

    You are a much braver man than I sharing you 7 random things - come to think of it I'm not a man at all and that's my excuse for not giving too much away.:)

    PS Because of what you wrote about Steven Book I went along and read his post, and I'm very pleased that I did!

  9. Trying again to say thank you, John. This is a great group of people to be listed with. Versatility is one of those skills that serves you well, even if you decide to focus your energies in a single genre.

    Also, try Shakespeare's "Henry V". The movie version is great, but in the text of the play there's a long extended scene before the battle where the French nobles have to listen to the Dauphin brag about his battle prowess, and then rip him apart for being a rookie who doesn't know anything about war. It's really funny.

  10. Congrats, you're very deserving of the award, John!

    And my favorite is no.6 - I think that's the best attitude even if some people don't always 'get it'!

  11. No, no! I obviously need to study more the English language. Re-reading my comment (only now) I noticed that the result of my sentence was the exact opposite of what I wanted to say. *head desk*

  12. Hey, thanks for the compliment, John. I am deeply honored to be included with such great company.


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