Monthly Archives: October 2013

Episode 35: Entropy

This episode kicks off with a discussion of the scientific laws of the  universe–no big deal–including a proposal to defund the third law of  thermodynamics and shut down physics. (FYI, the idea of entropy is a perfect metaphor for a struggling writer’s life.) Then, the WITTScasters convert their energy to discussions of grand-slam books, the benefits of writerly competition, and Lindsay Hunter’s story “Three Things You Should Know About Peggy Paula.” Apologies in advance to the Irish.

Reading Discussed

Episode 34: The MacGuffin

The WITTScasters kick this episode off with the MacGuffin–what is it and how does it work?–which leads them into chatter about wandering books, backstory, aesthetes vs. humanists, novels vs. stories, Walt’s motivation in Breaking Bad, and more. They then take a look at Haruki Murakami’s “On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning.”

Reading Discussed

Episode 33: What Is Art?

The boys discuss the nature of art, and they don’t hold back: fiction, poetry, photography, cave painting, film, basketball, sonatas, flambés, and advertisements… it’s all in here. And there’s no better way to prepare for a cross-genre discussion than James Baldwin’s masterful story “Sonny’s Blues.”

Reading Discussed

  • “Sonny’s Blues” by James Baldwin is in just about every short fiction anthology out there, and you can probably find it on the World Wide Web, too.
  • Before you finish typing “What is art?” Google autocompletes it to “What is twerking?” … no wait, that’s just on Ben’s computer.
  • Plan on sitting in at your local blues club? Better brush up on your twelve bar blues progression.
  • Emily Dickinson’s poems would still be art even if they stayed “in Lady’s Drawer,” right?
  • In Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud proposes a definition of art: anything that is not done for reproduction or survival.
  • It’s that age-old story: we were out walking, and then there was this fucking antelope!
  • Leave it to Jon to go deep. Dude pulled out T.S. Elliot and Hegel (no Brian, not that Hagel).
  • Art as variation on an established form, part I: the sonata.
  • Art as variation on an established form, part II: the sick crossover.
  • Elmore Leonard was unapologetically out to make a buck, writing western stories he could sell to magazines and then crime novels he could sell to Hollywood.
  • Need reassurance that there can be justice in this troubled world? Pulp Fiction out-earned Get Shorty two to one.
  • Can advertisements be art? Whether it was the Fleetwood Mac or the unabashed love a man can only show for a four-legged mammal, the saga of the baby Clydesdale got Brian all verklempt. And Jon almost hopped a plane to Paris mid-Super Bowl after watching Google’s “Parisian Love” ad.
  • We’re all for taking risk in art and advertising, but don’t be that guy.
  • Come across the word “funky” but don’t have a helpful footnote to define it for you? Start here. But don’t get too excited… Wikipedia assures us that Funky Town is only a metaphor. Well, that stinks.

Episode 32: Research

This week, Ben, Brian, and Jon dust off the old card catalog to talk about the role of research in writing fiction. Where do you go to find the details that make writing crackle with life? Does good research give birth to a great story, or does it push an already strong effort across the finish line? Which of Jon’s relatives taught him filthy Southern historical slang? Listen and find out! Then, the boys get their creep on with Sam Nam’s story “Do Something, Anything.”

Reading Discussed