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Living like an Irvanian in a universe filled with Dweasels

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Has it really been two-and-a-half months since my last post? Geez!

August 4, 2007

I know, Iím supposed to blog my thought whenever I have one. Can I help it if itís been two and a half months since I had my last thought?

A few days ago (Aug 1) I finished work on the current round of revisions, re-writes, expurgations, and new material on my first novel. Iím now comfortable enough with it to let it loose into the world, so Iíve begun work on the search for a new agent, which will (hopefully) in turn result in getting the thing published.

With that in mind, Iíd been thinking about my influences, you know, the people and books and TV and radio shows who/that have helped shaped my thinking and my writing. Not that I think anybody out there cares about my influences at this point, but because I wanted to clear all that up in my own mind.

I started writing when I was about nine [major geek alert] and I clearly recall my main ďcreativeĒ influence at that point: Mad Magazine. When youíre a 9-year-old in 1969, a military brat overseas no less, Mad Magazine was one of the major sources of humor.

A little bit later there were the British TV comedies: Benny Hill, Marty Feldman, Morcombe & Wise, and The Goodies. Monty Pythonís Flying Circus was around by then, but I wasnít old enough to watch it at the time. I saw Monty Pythonís Holy Grail in 1979 or so and was hooked for life, although I didnít get to see the Monty Python TV series until 1982. Twenty-five years later, Iím still a big Monty Python fan.

I didnít realize until recently that Gary Owens, the announcer guy on Laugh In with his hand cupped over his ear, has been one of my biggest influences. Gary Owens is one of my heroes. I listened to his radio show on KMPC in the 1970ís, taped his comedy routines, and subconsciously studied his style. Gary is a master of the non sequitur. Fnork. My appreciation for his work was rekindled when I was going through my collection of ancient cassette tapes and found recordings of some of his routines, and then again a few months ago when I discovered the computer adventure games Space Quest IV and Space Quest VI. Gary did the announcer bit for those games and added greatly to the enjoyment therein. ďDonít touch that, we donít know where youíve been.Ē

Then there are the books. Douglas Adams, of course, with his Hitchhikerís Guide to the Galaxy series, has had a big impact on me. From Douglas I learned that itís possible to write something thatís very funny, fun to read, stands up to multiple re-reads over time, and still has something meaningful to say. In 1999 when I decided to start writing fiction myself, I went through and re-read all of Douglasís books, this time studying for style and technique. I learned a great deal.

I also enjoy Terry Pratchett and Kurt Vonnegut, but I canít say theyíve influenced my writing because I didnít start reading either author until very recently. I read one of Terryís books a few years ago and began collecting all his titles but havenít really begun reading the Discworld series yet. I read my first Vonnegut book, Slaughterhouse Five, about the time I was writing the last couple of chapters of my first novel, so it was too late to influence my writing but it made me start collecting all of his books too. I really wish I had discovered Pratchett and Vonnegut in the 1980ís, when I haunted the bookstores waiting for the next Douglas Adams book to come out. At least Iíd be caught up by now.

TV and radio shows that had an impact on my deranged thinking: Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) of course. In addition to being terrifically funny, Iíve learned a lot about how movies and TV shows are (and should be) put together from watching MST3K. My wife and I still watch it regularly. The radio and TV versions of Hitchhikerís Guide to the Galaxy, particularly the former. Iím not sure if the book or radio versions of HHGG had a bigger impact on me.

Thatís all I can think of at the moment. Anybody else out there remember Marty Feldmanís TV show?


Angela left this comment:

YeahÖMarty Feldman is awesome. His sketch shows rock! Good stuff there.


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