‘Roll Your Role’ is Now on YouTube!

So, the turnout wasn’t the best, but there was a lot going on that day. There was a last-minute post-election discussion in the auditorium and a union meeting, both at the same exact time as my talk. It went pretty well, though. I was way less nervous once I got started, and I even got a few laughs during the talk portion (it’s not all that easy to hear in the video).

The first 15 minutes of the video are me reading a prepared speech that includes a story from my childhood and a plea for everyone to stay creative and flex their imaginations often. This is the more entertaining part and could be enjoyed by anyone. The last 35-40mins apply more to teachers and writers, but I’d recommend anything I talk about to anyone interested in storytelling.

After the prepared speech, I demonstrate a few creative writing techniques and exercises. I walk the audience through my evolution from basic character building exercises to using Rory’s Story Cubes in the classroom to my own narrative building cards (which I call CopyWrite). I end with a quick demonstration of the pen-and-paper role-playing game Fiasco.

Please feel free to share. I hope you like it!

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‘Roll Your Role: Writing With Cards & Dice’ Lecture

fiasco

fiasco

Hello, world. It’s been a really long time since I updated my own personal blog. I’ve been writing for Nerd Much?, Pop Culture Beast, and BuddyTV a lot as well as teaching 3 classes and a weekly writing workshop, so I’ve been very busy. Anyway, the reason I’m writing this blog post today is to share the news that I will be presenting a TED talk-esque lecture on the SUNY Adirondack campus called “Roll Your Role: Writing With Cards & Dice.”

The lecture will be in the Miller Auditorium at 12pm on November 16, and I would really appreciate anybody coming. I’ve just recently been told that refreshments (including wine, I believe) will be served. I’m really hoping to not have to look out into the crowd and just see my fiancée, Loreal, and my mom sitting there—and nobody else. Well, I’m bribing my students with extra credit if they go, so maybe that will help. Also, I’ve bugged Loreal into recording the event with the brand new HD camera she won. I plan to upload a video of the talk to my website, and anywhere else that will have it, after the event.

Lastly, I just want to give a little info on what I will be talking about in case anybody is interested. “Roll Your Role” is a name I came up with that is inspired by pen & paper RPGs, specifically one called Fiasco. These games are great interactive tools for writing and teaching how to write. I use several different types of interactive writing games from Rory’s Story Cubes to the aforementioned Fiasco to my own 5 deck system of cards that I created. I’ve made over 100 cards with creative writing elements that fall into categories such as plot, setting, character, etc. I will demo the story cubes, Fiasco, and my own writing game—which I call “CopyWrite”—as well as talk about how these things can be used to generate ideas for one’s own writing or to teach otherwise disinterested students how to love creative writing.

Wish me luck. And please feel free to contact me with any questions and let me know if you’ll be attending. I’d love to see you there!

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Contributing to PopCultureBeast.com

PCB

PCB

I just wanted to make an official post to my blog to announce that I will be writing articles & reviews covering all aspects of pop culture for popculturebeast.com. Everybody has been very cool welcoming me in, especially Editor Garon Cockrell. I will still be posting some content here (mostly about writing/teaching), some just on PCB, and some shared between both sites. This is a pretty great opportunity and I can’t wait to write some more stuff!

Thank you everybody who has been following my blog, liking my posts, reading what I’ve been writing, and so on and so forth. All of a sudden I go from listening to Garon Cockrell on Never Not Funny to writing for his site to interviewing Jensen Karp, host of Get Up On This, for his site all in a matter of days. Stay posted for all the new stuff!

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The 8 Comedy Podcasts You Should Be Listening To

BestPodcasts

First, a little bit about why you should listen to my recommendations. I have listened to nearly every episode of every podcast on this list. There may be a few that I’m missing, but I’m sure I’ve heard 95% of everything these shows have put out. I currently listen to about 10 different shows weekly, and have gone back and forth between roughly 25 different shows altogether over the past five years. These are my 8 favorite comedy podcasts (note: only comedy is listed here) of all time though, and they are the ones I currently listen to as well. I am a diehard comedy fan and love podcasts with a passion. You can trust me on this one — I won’t steer you wrong.

Harmontown

Harmontown is my current favorite podcast (it switches all the time) because of the strange and hilarious, brutal honesty Dan Harmon brings to the table. It’s hard to really explain Harmontown; it’s just a show you have to hear. It is, more or less, a round table discussion in front of a live audience, but the audience is often a big part of the show. Dan, along with comptroller Jeff Davis and dungeon master Spencer Crittenden, talk to the crowd about their love lives, their jobs, and anything else that might be on their minds. The show never has any real plan, and that is what makes it so successful. There’s also lots of great (and famous) guests such as Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley), Mitch Hurwitz (Arrested Development), Curtis Armstrong (Revenge of the Nerds), and Norman Lear (All in the Family, The Jeffersons, all-around Sitcom royalty). Harmontown has followed the tumultuous career and personal life of Dan Harmon from the infamous Chevy Chase voice mail (first played on the podcast), to his firing & rehiring at Community, to his marriage & divorce – all with total transparency. Check out the trailer for the documentary about the podcast here and hear the newest episode below:

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The 5 Narrative Mistakes That Make Me Cringe

ShortStory

I was thinking about this the other day when I saw some of these issues in a movie. There are several storytelling mistakes that make me cringe, but I was thinking they must come from somewhere if they are making it into the TV shows and movies we love. If we aren’t taught these lessons as students then we’ll go on to make cliché movies in which these things happen then other people will grow up seeing said movies and make the same mistakes as writers — and the cycle continues.

ShortStory

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Lady Dynamite is What Arrested Development Fans Have Been Craving

LadyD

Maria Bamford’s new Netflix series Lady Dynamite is great. It is what Arrested Development fans have been craving since that show went off the air years ago.  The pilot is a bit all over the map, but once you get past the first episode, the series really takes off. It is funny, surreal, and like nothing you’ve ever seen. Seriously, there’s nothing like this. If I were to attempt to explain it to somebody it would probably go some thing like this: Lady Dynamite is feels like an R-rated version of Arrested Development with a dash of  Tim & Eric’s and a consistently entertaining dark, manic tone.

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The 8 Best Indie Horror Movies of the Last Few Years

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These are, in my opinion, the 8 best indie Horror Movies from the last few years. Some I just watched recently and others have been favorites of mine for quite some time. Several different sub-genres are represented here, but the one thing they all have in common is they’re all very smart movies. And all of them are pretty damn scary — except The Final Girls which is more of a comedy. Note: they aren’t in any particular order.

Hush (2016)

The Invitation (2016)

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Finders Keepers: Custody Battle Over Severed Foot Turned into Documentary

FK Foot

I watched the documentary Finders Keepers on Netflix last night, and it was fantastic. It was funny and heartbreaking. It had a great hero and villain, both of whom went through incredibly transformative story arcs. I was laughing at and wanting to hate the seemingly evil redneck swindler, Shannon Whisnant aka the “foot man,” then minutes later he had me on the verge of tears. Then there’s John Wood who you can’t help but root for despite the terrible things he’s done. This movie has death, addiction, swearing, bickering, insane legal drama, family strife, and plenty of laughs – all centered around the discovery of John’s severed foot inside a meat smoker.

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Reading of “One for the Money, Two for the Show” from 2013

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I figured I would re-share this YouTube video of my reading from 2013. I read this in the Haybarn Theatre at Goddard college as part of my graduating student reading. The story is called “One for the Money, Two for the Show” and is a humorous PG-13 tale with characters based loosely on my parents. The story follows Charlie & Ginny’s (yes, they share my parents’ names) quest to find an Elvis impersonator for their Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation BBQ event in Lake George, New York.

Readings were limited to ~15 minutes so I decided to take little vignette excerpts from throughout to give the audience a full idea of the narrative. You can get a good sense of the whole story based on these excerpts, and I thought that was more beneficial than just taking the first few pages. Notes: 1) The first 30 seconds, including my dedication to my parents, is cut off and 2) there is some mature language and themes. Enjoy!

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