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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Five Things You Probably Don't Know About Me 

My friend Paul Conley has tagged me as "it" in a little blogosphere game: post five things most people probably don't know about you, and then tag five other bloggers to do the same. While I'm no fan of chain letters, I'll give it a shot.

(If nothing else, as I'm sure Paul is aware, the game gives a great excuse to post something, since all of my regular readers do know one thing about me, which is that I've been a very lax blogger of late).

So here goes:

1) I can't remember ever wanting to do anything other than to be in media. Maybe other kids dreamed of being firemen, or astronauts, or scientists. I wanted to be a writer...actually, more than that. When I was a kid, my parents gave me a small, difficult-to-use printing press which used rubber type that had to be tweezered into little racks. It was a pain, but I managed to produce and publish a little neighborhood newspaper. I wrote and drew comic books (in the style of MAD Magazine, which was my first love in the periodical world). I wrote parody film and television scripts (again, inspired by MAD). I made movies with friends on Super-8 film. I "sold" my first ever freelance piece when I was 14 years old. (It was a book review of an Edward G. Robinson biography for a small film collector's magazine, and I earned two copies of the magazine for my efforts). In my last two years in college, I paid my way by writing two 3,000 word articles (those were the days) a month for a pair of travel trade magazines. I got paid by the word, and was rolling (relatively) in cash. I also co-founded and co-edited my college literary magazine. (Interestingly, my 9 year son may be on the same path here. He likes to write and assemble books, mostly about dragons and Star Wars). I fell for the Internet before there was a world wide web or browsers, and managed to navigate my way using Unix commands. And so on.

2) I also nurtured aspirations to be a great American novelist. One summer in high school, I got the chance to attend a creative writing summer camp led by radio legend Norman Corwin, who was a wonderful guy. In college, I split my english major between two emphases: literary criticism and creative writing, and my advisor was novelist Oakley Hall, also a wonderful guy, and nowadays a cult figure and favorite of authors like Pynchon. I spat out a lot of precious and experimental prose, and even managed to expel a 675 page manuscript when I was 25. Sadly, my aspirations were greater than my talents.

3) My first wife and I spent a year in Europe in our mid-20s (I writing said 675 page opus, she painting). The first part of the year, we lived in and watched over a cottage in western Ireland owned by an actor named Hurd Hatfield, who played the lead role in The Picture of Dorian Gray. Hurd was a flamboyant Russophile who owned two houses in Ireland that he could barely afford to keep up, and who was acting in American TV shows to pay his bills. His great friend Angela Lansbury (whom he met while doing Dorian Gray) kept him in the money with parts on her Murder She Wrote series. The second part of the year was spent living in a small apartment in Barcelona, one of my favorite cities.

4) I once briefly dated an heiress to the Pillsbury fortune, whom I still lovingly think of as "the dough girl." She was absolutely and positively insane. When I broke it off, it took months to shake her, during which period she actually lived briefly with my mother. With the wisdom of age and experience, I sometimes wonder what might happened if I had been able to overlook her "issues."

5) I produced a training video for video retailers which starred two friends of mine, one of whom was Julia Sweeney, who went on to fame on Saturday Night Live (remember the Pat character?) I'm sure that video shows up nowhere in her resume, but I've got a copy, and it's funny.

So there it is. Now, on to tagging other hapless bloggers to do the same. So, let's hear five things we don't know from:

Hugo Martin
Paul Woodward
Dave Jung
Sue Pelletier
Russell Perkins

Sorry guys!


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