Take Flight: Life After 50

IMG_2965I saw an old friend for lunch yesterday. She’s young, nearing 30, but I’ve known her most of the time I’ve lived in Seattle through work. She took care of my dog, Tucker, and helped me enormously when my mom was passing away. She is a wonderful person!

She reminded me of when I was turning 50 and what a rough time it was. 2010 was not a good year for me, but I look back on it now and realize the gains I’ve reaped from it. I wrote some of the best stuff I’ve ever written. I changed tacks on my career. I shed people who were bringing me down. It was like I was going through a year long cleanse without the nasty tasting drinks.

It opened me up to new things – like a relationship, new business ventures, new people, and certainly the idea that there is no need to wait to start putting your most personal work out there, which is the reason for this post.

Don’t wait until your 50 to share your best work. If you think it isn’t good enough, it isn’t, but that’s the thing that keeps you producing even better work, and keeps the creative spark lit. Let others follow your journey to your greatest achievements.

So, lunch friend, former students, personal friends and colleagues, don’t wait like I did. It will only fester, cause anger, debilitation and hurt.

Put your work, your creative self out for the world to see. Now. It will change you, I guarantee it. Take flight!

 

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Thoughts on the Oscars

oscars-620x349Jokes about Presidential assassinations are never funny, ever. Blithely asking after a crass, inept joke, “Too soon?” makes a tasteless joke even worse.

Seth McFarlane was mediocre at best. The Oscars are for people who love film, not to garner ratings. Let’s be honest about that for a change. If you want ratings, watch “Two and a Half Men.” There are far more boob jokes there if that’s what people need. The show should be a celebration of film and all who toil in it – everyone. And it should be a class act.

The Oscars set was beautiful. Whoever designed it did a masterful job of making it nearly 3-D in some moments on our 2-D set we were watching. Unbelievable.

Ang Lee’s win seemed like a default because Ben Affleck wasn’t nominated. In some respects, maybe they should have just left this category unrewarded if they’re not going to nominate the director of the Best Picture winner.

I liked Life of Pi, I really, really liked it, but it was a film more about the amazing use of CGI and the brilliance of those artists and storytellers than that of narrative film, which Ang Lee dropped the boat on (pun intended) when he decided to bookend Life of Pi with where the main character is today.

Best Cinematography should have gone to Roger Deakins for Skyfall. Life of Pi was all about CGI, Skyfall was all about marrying beautiful and thoughtful imagery from what was placed before the camera when shooting to match the storyline.

While we’re on this subject, drowning out the Visual Effects winners with the Jaws theme was really dumb. Maybe the orchestra shouldn’t have been down the street in the Capitol building with just their headphones on.

Emmanuelle Riva should have walked off with Best Actress. She was brilliant in Amour.

Best Supporting Actor should have gone to Phillip Seymour Hoffman who gave a master class in acting in The Master (again, pun intended).

Adapted Screenplay should have gone to Lincoln. There was no more literate and poetic script written this year and Tony Kushner was robbed. Argo was good, but it was no Lincoln. However, it was a great year for writers and that just makes my heart sing.

A salute to the losers at the end of the telecast was wrong-headed and tasteless. Why not beat them with a stick on their way out as well? Extremely unfunny.

It was nice to see the entire cast and chorus from Les Miserables sing so we didn’t have to listen to many of the actors from the film try to sing again for very long.

Finally, The Oscars are NOT The Tonys. I have a special place in my heart for both shows – I just don’t like to see them blended together into a bad stew.

This year, I’m going to let my hair grow out and then color it blonde. I may have a chance at winning next year!

Tom Schabarum | Writer

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My friend, Paul, shared with me the new look for Windows 8’s Nook Application. If you have read The Palisades or Airstreaming on Nook, please go and rate it. Only rate it as you feel it deserves, though. I love the look of the new application for the synopsis and showcasing the other books by the author. It’s also clean, simple to use and informative! Nice work Microsoft! Nice work on Windows 8!

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Best Films of the Year: 2012

hr_The_Perks_of_Being_a_Wallflower_8-560x827Here’s my movie round up for 2012, which was a far better year for film than last year.

1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Total surprise here, but this was a movie that was filled with memorable performances from a young cast including Emily Watson, Ezra Miller, and in particular, Logan Lerman. This movie was unsettling, incredibly moving, and will sadly be left in the dust during Oscar time.

2. Lincoln – I saw Lincoln twice in a weekend just to listen to the words from Tony Kushner’s literate screenplay and the extraordinary actors who gave them their due. Not too often do we get to revel in language on screen, and Spielberg managed to get himself out of the way and keep the camera still.

3. Beasts of the Southern Wild – An amazing blend of raw acting, locale, story and myth told with such sensitivity that, at the end, was a wonder to watch. I loved the father, the girl, and especially the scene when she reaches the bar and navigates through a maze of people the world has left behind and forgotten. An extraordinary achievement.

4. Zero Dark Thirty – A hard-core piece of film-making for sure and even though you know what happens at the end, you are still on the edge of your seat all the way through. The torture scenes are very difficult to sit through, but I found myself moved by how unjust torture, for any reason, is. Jessica Chastain should win the Oscar for this performance, and the many others she had last year.

5. Magic Mike – What could have been just another sex-ploitation romp through the world of strippers became fun and riveting due to the story, and Matthew McConaughey’s performance in which he just lets it all hang out. You have to hand it to Channing Tatum as well for anchoring the film with an understated performance.

6. Argo – Ben Affleck’s riveting film of the Iran Hostage crises, which manages to be funny, sad and surprising given the storyline. Performances are terrific throughout, but it’s the recreation of the seventies milieu that was a resounding success. This should win for Art Direction in my book.

7. The Master – While the film as a whole was ultimately unsatisfying, the performances, cinematography and compelling story made it highly watchable and engrossing. Unfortunately, I have to find someone to care for in a movie, and in this one, most everyone was a mess on some level and certainly unlikable. You have to hand it to PT Anderson, however, for his sheer nerve and willingness to go there.

8. Silver Linings Playbook – Jennifer Lawrence steals the picture just barely from Robert De Niro who gives his best performance in years. Speaking of messes, everyone is a mess in this movie, but they’re entertaining in their messiness, and the final scenes at the dance contest are terrific. Kudos to David O. Russell for crafting a fine film and turning romantic comedy on its head.

9. Cloud Atlas – A huge disappointment at the box office, but I predict that this film will become a cult classic as people engage with it on a personal level. Very theatrical in its devices, and very much a roller coaster ride through time. I loved the ride.

10. Life of Pi – For one, I want to congratulate the CGI Tiger creators who did amazing work on bringing to life this story for film – and kudos, once again, to Ang Lee for making the unbelievable believable again. I wish he’d left out the bookends because they were superfluous to the film, but everything in the middle was absolutely beautiful to watch.

Biggest disappointments for 2012 for me were Les Miserables, The Hobbit and Brave.

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Narrows Cover 2.5The Best in LGBTQ Fiction for 2012 on Indie Reviews

Last year it was one of the best for Felice Picano on Lambda Literary’s website, this year it’s on the Indie Reviewer’s website for Best LGBTQ fiction. I’m very proud and thank both readers and editors.

The Narrows, Miles Deep: An amazing review to start 2013

I’m starting off 2013 with an amazing review I received yesterday from Indie Reviews. She sent a follow up saying that the novella and stories will be in her Best of 2012 list as well. Thanks for this very thoughtful and lovely review!

Narrows Cover 2.5The Narrows, Miles Deep by Tom Schabarum consists of the title novella and three unrelated short stories: My Kid in FootlightsThe Road to Alaskaand Follow Me Through.

The novella, The Narrows, Miles Deep, is the beautifully written and heartrending story of Eric Morris and Roy Bancroft, lovers who parted ways some four years ago when Eric joined his family’s business as a trucker and relocated from Utah to Las Vegas and Roy remained in Salt Lake City to be near the mountains and continue working in a small engineering firm. Eric and Roy have arranged a reunion camping trip in The Narrows Zion National Park in the hopes of rekindling their relationship.

Set primarily in Salt Lake City and southern Utah the story takes place during the 1980s and both begins and ends in the present but unfolds in a non-linear retrospective fashion. The story is divided into four parts tracing the lives of Eric and Roy, their respective childhood and adolescence, their relationships with family and friends, their first meeting and the evolution of their relationship through the first person narration of several secondary characters, among others, Eric’s parents, Roy’s father and Eric’s best friends. Characterisation in further heightened through Roy’s extremely intimate third person introspection and through Eric’s somewhat more muted thoughts.

Great insight into both Eric and Roy is gained through the alternating narratives and voices of friends, family and old lovers, and complemented by the introspection of the main characters as Eric and Roy are explored from all sides. As the story unfolds the circumstances of both characters’ lives are revealed and the layers of the events and life experiences that have shaped them are slowly peeled away.

We learn of Eric’s struggle with his commitment to his Mormon faith in the face of his religion’s blatant homophobia and overall hypocrisy and his inability to reconcile this with who and what he is, as well as his fear of coming out to his family, leading him to abandon the Mormon Church altogether and distance himself from his family. In many ways this struggle defines Eric and influences his life choices and decisions, which ultimately impact his relationship with Roy, as he is hesitant and fearful of fully revealing himself to his lover.

“When Eric came off his mission he moved to Salt Lake City and began working and going to school up there. He came home from serving the church different. After two years, he was still gentle and sweet, but was unsure of himself where most of the other local boys came back with plans, married old girlfriends, started families. Eric just wanted to get away. I didn’t understand, but I suppose the thing to do was just let him be. I wish I had gone slower when I was his age. I didn’t want him to miss a thing.”

We also come to know and understand Roy’s deep emotional pain caused by the loss of his twin brother, abandonment by his mother and his father’s failings as a parent brought on by his own pain at the loss of his son and wife. These losses have had a seminal impact on Roy and his ability for emotional intimacy. Roy prefers his solitude and is initially quite tentative in his relationship with Eric. And yet by his own admission, his meeting of Eric stopped his world on its very axis and in Eric he finds solace from the loneliness he’s felt his entire life.

“Eric’s touch came back to him. Like his mother’s: lightly on the forehead. He began to think of her, to equate her smell with the smells of the canyon. He’d lost the specifics of her years ago so that now she came to him unfocused. The weight of her shape lingered in his mind, however, and he could remember her warmth when she bent over him before he went to sleep, or came up behind him to see what he was doing at the table. It was her warmth that wouldn’t leave him. Years went by and no matter what he did it still clung to him until last night, when it was replaced by Eric’s. He felt a kind of freedom now, a lightness. He brought his hands together as if in prayer. He smiled, and then wept.”

As the story takes place during the 1980s the spectre of HIV/AIDS hovers and looms throughout as an ominous intruder that will impact the lives of the entire cast of characters.

Mr. Schabarum’s writing style is literary and poetic, but at the same time quite elemental in nature cutting to the heart of Eric and Roy and their hopes and fears as they navigate both their lives and relationships without melodrama or cliché. I was completely immersed in this story from the very first paragraph and read it in one sitting. Far from muting the emotional magnitude and impact of their story, the unassuming and introspective qualities of Mr. Schabarum’s writing achieve the opposite and provide for an extremely powerful reading experience.

The Narrows, Miles Deep is a multi-layered story with several emerging themes. As much as it is a story about the Eric and Roy’s journey and relationship, it is also a story that interweaves such themes as coming out and coming of age, homophobia, religion, parenting and family relationships, life choices, HIV/AIDS, loss and letting go. Ultimately, the overarching theme of this story is about the fragility of love. I truly loved this story and despite its tragic ending, found much beauty in the sadness of Eric and Roy’s journey. While unrelated, the three accompanying short stories are equally well written and carry with them similar themes as the novella.

I am excited at the discovery of Mr. Schabarum’s writing and look forward to reading his debut novel The Palisades. I highly recommend The Narrows, Miles Deep without any hesitation.

The Narrows, Miles Deep by Tom Schabarum is available at Amazon.

Music: Falling Slowly – Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova (Once, 2007)

5,000 Views!

IMG_1268Today, Word Incident hit the 5,000 views mark. Hard to believe it! It’s been a great place to offer poetry, information on my novels, music, and interaction with the public. So – to celebrate I thought I’d put up a poem that I wrote for my mom, remembering her at Christmas several years ago now. She passed in 2008. It’s always a sort of bittersweet time as we remember the people who’ve made an indelible mark on our lives. Regret is not something I dwell on, except when it comes to my mom. This was one of the Creekwalker Poems and it’s called:

Expecting Snow at Christmas

Not known for snow, more for its liquid form,

A pearlescent night street and coalescing hues

Extend Rain City farther into the world beyond.

Expecting snow tonight, every sound is stilled,

Lamplit flakes float into white shale stair steps,

Concrete and earth not yet gone, lightening just now.

Morning news is snow, schools shut, people stay put,

Wind turns clouds away from the city. Away

From colored houses – every window is Christmas.

Electric are the lights. Your body under its

White glow, glistening like streets I’ve traveled

Long to get here, your breath is winter.

Final words for the good son, the one who

Wiped you, brushed teeth, combed hair, held you up.

Lying forges moments: “You were a good mother.”

Expecting snow at Christmas saddles the heart, winches

Its bonds, burns your last words, a vinyl stuck needle

Scraping at truth: “No. No, I wasn’t,” you said.