Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Music Review: Mathew Pope's "On The Countryside"

I had the ability to listen to Mat's album Sunshine In The Horizon when it came out in 2009 and samples of Travelin' The Highway when it came out last year. His newest project is On The Countryside, with the main song of the album being of the same name. Objectively speaking, this is on its way to being his best CD yet, as his latest single is his best song yet, lyrically and vocally. At the moment, this has been the only song I have been able to listen to, but I can surely analyze it as much as I could to a song.

If you have yet to read my previous pieces about Mat Pope, Mat writes all of his music. He performs covers at select gigs, but his albums are exclusively his original material. This album is no different. "On The Countryside," his main song on the album, is a song that is about dreaming about being back on the countryside, the narrator's home and where his wife and children live. This is a common theme when it comes to country music, hence the reason why it fits the genre. A hip hop singer wouldn't be singing about his Texas ranch, nor would a country singer be singing about the streets of New York, thus all is well.

"On The Countryside" gives the kind of feel that John Denver did with "Country Roads, Take Me Home" did during his genre. The only difference is that Denver was singing about West Virginia. He has also referred to Colorado as his home in "Rocky Mountain High." What Mat Pope did with this song was capture the longing of being on the countryside and used powerful lyrics to put you in his place as to longing for the open land, and the empty environment.

If the music from this album continues to have the lyrics and instrumental arrangement that the select song did, this will be Mat's hottest album yet. It will show that Mat has grown through the years as a country artist and is chasing his dream even more toward recognition and being among the elite. There is an opportunity for artists like Mat to make a mark and bring out the throwback that country music has to offer. If Mat Pope remains Mat Pope and writes the music that Mat Pope is good at performing, then Mat Pope will be magnificent!

I definitely look forward to listening to what the rest of the album has to offer. If there isn't many skippers, like on plenty of the albums I purchase in stores, this will be something I will strongly recommend.

Verdict: 10/10

Saturday, June 23, 2012

My Fiction Writing Expeditions: Summer 2012

This summer, I told myself that I would use the time to get myself a job that brings in consistent income. With the rest of the time, I would use it to continue going forth with my writing. Unfortunately for us in the blogging world and the writing world, we are part of a craft known as starving artistry and even if we have the credit of creating a degree related to our goals, it takes being discovered until we could make it big. We're not like math, science, and technology majors that have to put in a lot of time and effort, but have something that continues to await them, especially in the medical field. For us writers, we have to find a job that could provide for us until we get something better. First it's the typical, everyday job, then possibly a teaching, editing, reporting, or job that needs to get done in these specific fields IF you get hired. However, I remain an optimist with my work and continue to build upon my thoughts and ideas.

As mentioned in my profile, I dream of becoming a successful horror fiction writer. This is a genre that doesn't get a lot of attention in its authentic state. People who read Stephen King don't read much other horror, even though his horror fiction is known, respected, and really good. Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft are known for their works of horror, but they could very well be considered classic. On the contemporary side, excluding Stephen King, not too many authors have made it beyond huge. Dean Koontz and Anne Rice have been successful, but the former not as much as King and the latter for the Interview With A Vampire series.

My approach tends to be like that of Ray Bradbury and Richard Matheson in the way that I write in order to make an impact, regardless which genre I'm using. If anything, I would consider myself an author of impact horror or impact fiction, perhaps psychological horror. My goal is to make the reader think about the story long after it's done and make it so it leaves that necessary impact. It doesn't matter how it ends, if you make the reader think, you win. However, if I want to be the next anything, I want to be the next Josh Caporale. In the horror field, I constantly hear, "You're writing horror? Are you going to be the next Stephen King?" I hope that someday, I make a mark to literature and the horror fiction genre like Stephen King did, and I really enjoy his work (which could be explained by the fact I own just about all of his books), but I really don't want to be a new version of him. I want to be my own author.

As for the work in itself, I completed a horror novel (though it may be more so a novella), a science fiction story I'm looking to enter into a contest, a children's book for children in the preschool/kindergarten/first grade range, and I'm currently working on a short story collection. For the horror novel, I'm looking to take the necessary steps in order to get it ready to publish. I edited it myself, am having an aspiring editor look over it, and hope to get some professional editing before looking for a publisher. It'll be a long road, but that's my major goal.

These four works are pretty different from one another in nature, but with the exception of the children's book, these are impact novels in the horror and science fiction fields that I think people will enjoy reading. I just need to do some research as to taking the necessary steps to getting my work out there and then building on top of that. My dream of being a horror fiction writer is something I am really looking to contribute to during this summer and what ever time I have beyond that point.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

More Questions For Caponomics

Hi everyone, I thought I would do another round of a segment I haven't done in awhile. It's the segment where you give me the topic and I briefly give my thoughts about it. In other words, this is "Questions For Caponomics." In this segment, ask me anything that ranges on my field of interests, whether it be politics, books and literature, film, television, sports, music, food, previous posts, or anything and everything in between.

I have seen that those who watch Shark Tank have really been attracted to my blog, as my stats tell me that much of my revenue comes for posts I submitted about the show. I'll be open to questions if any exist. However, I'm not just limited to Shark Tank, I'll answer any questions in that range. Just nothing too personal.

Submit your questions as a comment and I'll submit my answers in my "More Questions For Caponomics" post, which also may be known as "Questions For Caponomics: June 2012."

Friday, June 15, 2012

Let's Be Brutally Honest: What's With Some Of Today's Slang?

First off, I should mention that I have finally made it to my 150th post, which in itself is an accomplishment. This is exactly double what I submitted to my high school newsletter and only twenty-three of those were Caponomics columns. That brings me to the fact that I haven't engaged in a "Let's Be Brutally Honest" segment in awhile, so I thought I would bring it back. Naturally, I'm not much of a complainer. Things are what they are, and you have to make the best out of what you have. However, even I have my pet peeves. This peeve happens to be some of the slang we use today. I can't stand it! I especially can't stand changing a word in order to provide it with a different meaning. Changing something negative into something positive or vice-versa has really made an impact on our language of American English.

If you have no idea what I'm saying just yet, I shall provide you with some examples. Two words that are now being used as compliments include "sick" and "dope." Let's start with sick. Only within the last decade, people that were being deemed as "sick" were people engaging in something disgusting or immoral. By definition, sick means not well, and can pertain to something minor like a cold or something major like a disease. It was probably during the Tony Hawk Pro Skater wave in which the term "sick score" got along the streets and people began using it as a compliment. Pick your side, because I have just about been set with considering something that is "sick" to either be unwell or mentally unwell, and in some occasions makes them immoral. Then you have the term "dope." A "dope" is somebody who is clueless as to their surroundings. Hence, the term "dope" became attached to drugs. Drugs make you dopey, thus the people who take drugs are considered dopes. In this day and age, it has become a compliment, one famous person that uses this compliment is Randy Jackson on American Idol. I don't find it to be a compliment. I find it to be an inappropriate, misused term that if used as a compliment eats away from your level of manners. I do, however, find that the word "mad" could be used is a positive light. Being "mad" initially means to be angry. It also means that you could mentally be mad, like a mad scientist. Thus, if you apply the compliment of "mad" to someone who is eccentric, yet successful, then the term is being used appropriately.

Probably the worst negative term being used in a positive light (forgive the inappropriate language, but I will only write it out once) is the term: "the shit." I absolutely despise it when someone uses this term in order to deliver a compliment. An example of this compliment being exercised is: "Oooh, that Applebee's over in that mall, that place is the s**t!" I must honestly say that anyone who uses that term needs to take every grade of vocabulary and manners class over again until they find the right words that could explain their point a bit better. This term is used as a word of profanity and in an aggressive format. Using it just for the sake of using it is just a waste of time, and shows that you are a disrespectful individual. I have absolutely no issues with profanity, but don't curse because you think it sounds good. In reality, it doesn't really sound good.

There are other words that were meant for one purpose, but switched to another. One of those words is "retard." This word is used to describe someone who is not at the mental capacity of the majority of people. It was originally an appropriate medical term. It became an inappropriate insult when people began to describe things they didn't like as "retarded." They had to eventually change up the term, because it became too insulting even as a medical term. Another inappropriately used term is "gay" in the form of an insult. Originally, "gay" meant happy, then it became the term used to describe a homosexual male. These terms are perfectly fine. The term that isn't fine is using it as an insult. An example would be, "Two piles of Math homework??? This is gay!" First of all, you're insulting homosexual males. Second of all, you're showing that you're not very educated. Third, SUCK IT UP!!! You don't become a success story by eating potato chips and watching cartoons all day. Back to my point, words have meaning. The word "gay" has two meanings, one of which more noticeable than the other, but not three meanings.

In reality, we live in a country where we have a freedom of speech. So if you want to speak with this form of slang, have a ball and speak with this form of speech. I absolutely respect that right that we have. I cherish my freedom of speech, too, and these words in the mentioned matters will not be spoken. I don't feel that it does anything to boost your impression. I would also begin to feel sick (based off of the original definition) if these forms of spoken words make their appearance into Webster's Dictionary. We don't need to speak like we're the most educated English majors and use big, fanciful words in which a dictionary would be needed in order to understand the main point in the conversation. Just speak like you care about how you speak, and others will begin to care for you in that matter.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

He Packed His Bags Last Night: RIP Ray Bradbury

One of the greatest fictional writers of all time was Ray Bradbury, and his death yesterday at the age of 91 comes as being highly unfortunate for the fact that literature has lost one of its greatest. Bradbury did plenty to shape science fiction, fantasy, horror, and mystery during his life and writing career and he's provided with so many good works. Many of which we know, many of which we don't, and many of which we overlook as not being work by Ray Bradbury. 2012 has become a year of plenty of notable, legendary deaths, but this one has to be a huge one for me being an aspiring writer, a book collector, and a president for a literature club.

Ray Bradbury was born on August 22, 1920 in Waukegan, Illinois. He graduated high school, but that's as far as he went when it came to professional education. Bradbury never went to college, but was very deep into going to libraries and reading from there. He began his writing career as a short story writer and submitting them to magazines. Throughout his life, he has written plenty of notable works. One of his most memorable was "A Sound Of Thunder," which delivers the message and belief that if you go back in time and change ONE element, then everything else that follows changes in the process. He truly put a spin to the way we see time travel. To me, one of his most memorable works is "The Night," the one thing I remember most is how he was able to do something most authors are unable to do, and that is write in second person. He took a story, wrote it referring to "you" as a crucial character, and did it extraordinarily well. In another, titled "The Pedestrian," a man becomes questioned and deemed insane in the year 2053 for taking an ordinary stroll around his neighborhood.

While short stories made a huge portion as to what his writing career was made up of, he could be remembered most for his novels. His most memorable novel happens to be Fahrenheit 451, which is about a future utopia in which firemen don't put out fires, but start them in order to burn books. Book burning was the solution to engaging in government control and the use of censorship. People in this day would have more interaction with their television. In Dandelion Wine, and its sequel, Farewell Summer, Bradbury embraces his summers during childhood and the essence of how it feels. Using different characters and different situations, he created a mesmerizing pair of novels. In actuality, both novels were written at the same time, but only the first part was accepted at the current time period. It would be close to fifty years later until the latter would be produced. Bradbury also questioned the "what-ifs" in life. One of the prime examples was in another famous novel of his, The Martian Chronicles, which questioned what life would be like if we ventured out to Mars and what  kind of life form existed.

Bradbury also made his mark in converting his work to television and more modern entertainment. On the popular TV show The Twilight Zone, his story, "I Sing The Body Electric," appeared. In this story and episode, people are able to create a robotic grandmother. Bradbury created a similar show titled "The Ray Bradbury Theatre." He also created the story that would inspire Elton John's song "Rocket Man." Bradbury would remain active until recent.

Ray Bradbury received plenty of honors, including a crater that was named for Dandelion Wine, a National Medal Of Arts Award in 2004, which was awarded by George W. and Laura Bush, and plenty of other recognition for his commitment to excellent literature.

Another random tidbit about Bradbury is that during his 91 years of living, he has never obtained his driver's license.

I myself want to become a writer that wants to make an impact on people and this is what Bradbury did for a living. Only I will never be like Bradbury and I never want to be identical to him, because he's just incredible. Incredible in a way that nobody could ever match up to. I do, however, have to thank him for proving that there are no limits to writing. There are no technical writing limits and there are no idea limits. You can reach for the stars as long as your imagination is able to take you to such a place.

I was introduced to Bradbury from reading Fahrenheit 451 in my sophomore year of high school, reintroduced during a reading of Dandelion Wine, realized he wrote The Pedestrian, which I read a few years earlier, but didn't connect the pieces at that time, and did my research paper on him during my junior year of high school. My interest for his work went beyond the classroom. I have been collecting his work and intend to read more of his work as time goes by. He's that much of a legend.

The greatest authors ever could probably fit in one room if we want to categorize them in such a term, because not too many authors could be declared "the greatest." Ray Bradbury can definitely be coined as being one of "the greatest" and he will definitely be missed. If only I had the opportunity to meet him, because he was high up on the list. Rest in peace, Mr. Bradbury.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Book Review: "Timequake" by Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut is one of America's finest authors, with memorable satirical works such as Slaughterhouse-Five. Unfortunately, Timequake is not a novel that could follow his legacy in such a memorable way. Timequake is one of those novels that could have been, but wasn't, and it missed the mark by a massive amount. While it is portrayed as being a work of fiction, it would be better categorized as an autobiography. An autobiography with scattered memories.

The concept of the novel was excellent. In the year 2001, a timequake occurs and causes everyone to relive the years of 1991 to 2001 over again. The twist is that you have to relive them just as you did before. This means you are not able to fix your mistakes, you simply just relive what you did. For those who previously made mistakes, this would be a living hell for them.

This is what the premise of the novel is SUPPOSED to be about. It turns out to simply be about Kurt Vonnegut's many adventures and an idea about such a novel. He mentions how his alter ego, Kilgore Trout, went through such a series of events and came up with such a work. He mentions that there were two novels, and one of them was from this alter ego of his. He puts the novel on Trout and uses this book to talk about experiences, people, previous novels, and what the white stuff is in bird feces. Oh, and he makes the few mentions about a timequake occurring and pushing people back ten years.

I have been an enthusiast for collecting and reading novels since my sophomore year of high school. I have been collecting and reading books in general for even longer. I have NEVER been more lead on with the plot than I was with Timequake. It was a complete waste of time. One of the cardinal rules that was broken was that it was stated that the plot was going to be about one thing and how it was a novel, but then I get something else.

If I was a college instructor, I would give F's on three occasions: The first was if the paper was never turned in. The second was if the paper had absolutely nothing to do with the topic or featured information that was so bizarre that it made absolutely no sense. The third was if the grammar was beyond atrocious that it affected the paper. The third could always be fixed with some extra help at a writing center. The second is what this novel falls under. Supposed to be about one thing, but turned out to be about something else. Kind of like asking for a pasta dish, but getting a rice dish instead. Sometimes plot twists are good, but this isn't one of them.

I highly suggest skipping Timequake. There are plenty of other exciting works that exist that are either well known or are waiting to be discovered. This is just Kurt Vonnegut writing about memories or his in a jumbled format, switching from fiction to nonfiction, and giving little support to the original concept. Writers have their bad works, too, and this just happens to be Vonnegut's.

Verdict: 0/10

A Tribute To Richard Dawson

If there was any game show host that I admired for their laid back personality, but at the same time be able to attract an audience and stick out in the crowd, it would be Richard Dawson. Unfortunately, he lost his battle to cancer of the esophagus on Saturday, leaving us at the age of 79. Dawson had a very eventful career that spanned from the 60s to the 90s and that will be what he's remembered for the most. While he was very active during his life in the world of entertainment, he will be remembered most for four things. His role as Corporal Peter Newkirk on Hogan's Heroes, as a regular panelist on Match Game, as host of the original Family Feud, and for his role of game show host Damon Killian in The Running Man.

Richard Dawson was born Colin Emm in England on November 20, 1932. Changing his name to Dickie Dawson during his boxing career, he became Richard Dawson when he began acting. He made his first appearance on The Dick Van Dyke Show, but made his first huge role as Corporal Peter Newkirk on Hogan's Heroes. He was originally offered the role of Hogan, but was then denied the role, because of his British accent. Ultimately, the role of Hogan was given to Bob Crane. The show ran from 1965 to 1971 and garnered mixed reviews. While it had a following that it continues to garner, the take on a comedic approach to such a serious time period has turned people off. TV Guide named it the fifth worst show of all time. 

After Hogan's Heroes, Richard Dawson went on to star in Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In during the last season. His main role was as a butler. During the early seventies, Dawson was a panelist on several game shows, such as the reincarnation of I've Got A Secret. He made his big break as a panelist on Match Game, starring host Gene Rayburn and featuring other regular panelists such as Brett Somers and Charles Nelson Reilly. Dawson became the show's most popular panelist and the one that the majority of contestants went to first for the Super Match and ultimately for the Head-To-Head Match. 

In 1976, Richard Dawson was given his own show to host, also produced by Mark Goodson. This show was Family Feud. He began to host the Feud and serve as a panelist on Match Game, but began to grow bored and uninterested in the latter. There were shows in which he wouldn't smile, one in which Gene Rayburn forced him to do so. In 1978, the Star Wheel was introduced, in which the contestant's head-to-head match decision would be based on the spin of the wheel. This took away attention from Dawson. He would eventually leave the show and stick with the Family Feud, which at this point was the game show in which he paid the most attention to, not making appearances on many others.

On the Feud, Richard Dawson was known for plenty of trademarks. He made "Survey Says!" a catchphrase repeated by many, he had a cool, sharp, and quick personality, but most famously, he kissed the ladies and he kissed them on the lips. This began on a show where a woman became nervous and wished she didn't come on. Dawson mentioned that he'll do something his mother did in such a situation, which was give a kiss on the lips. She quickly came up with a good answer and the trend continued from there. He would later mention that he did it for "luck and love," after facing much controversy. He kissed any woman, regardless of race, color, creed, or circumstance.

Plenty of memories came about on the show from 1976 to 1985. Dawson celebrated his 50th birthday on the show, Sammy Davis Jr. made an appearance and even hosted a round of the show, and Dawson even showed his passport to the audience when he became an American citizen in 1984.

The show came to an end in 1985, which proved to be an emotional finale. Dawson showed clear emotion throughout the episode and at the end of the show, gave a final speech to the audience. He gave mention to Howard Felcher, an executive producer that he previously clashed with, his mother, how he was who he was, and the girl that he signed to at the end of each episode. In footage that wasn't shown, he also wanted to mention a girl that died from illness when she was only eleven.

In 1987, Richard Dawson got a gig as game show host Damon Killian in The Running Man, a film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and based off of the Stephen King (writing as Richard Bachman) novel, but only by name and basic concept. Killian was a cynical, villainous game show host that made up the heart of the film. It shows the structure of how a host could be a much different person once the cameras stop rolling. Much has been said that this was how Dawson was and that he very well could have been playing himself in this film.

He went on to host an unsold pilot of You Bet Your Life, but from there went into somewhat of a retirement. He married a former contestant on the show and the two of them had a daughter. He began to commit his life to them.

However, Dawson was then asked to return to the Family Feud after the show began to slip with Ray Combs in the hosting spot. Combs hosted the show from 1988 to 1993. When Dawson returned to the show in 1994, he got a long standing ovation. Unfortunately, the show didn't last and came to an end one year later. The show would return in 1999 and has since garnered hosts in Louie Anderson, Richard Karn, John O'Hurley, and Steve Harvey. This reboot of the show was Dawson's final appearance and he went into a complete retirement, only make archive appearances, as well as those in brief interviews.

What I will remember most about Richard Dawson is clearly his personality. Not many people could captivate a stage with the wit that he did. He may have not been the nicest person you've ever want to meet, but he was somebody who did what he needed to do in order to get the job done. That clearly could be seen during his healthy tenure on the Feud, given that he was the only host of that show to put more than five years into the show. 

His final speech to the audience when he ended his show in 1985 showed raw emotion as to how he felt about certain circumstances. To him, people were people, and he was going to treat them equally and encourage others to do the same. He accepted anybody on the show, whether they were in a wheelchair, blind, or came from a different background. To this day, if I were to go out in any way, that would be the way I'd want to go out, on a really strong note.

Richard Dawson will definitely be missed for what he has given to the world of entertainment. Rest in peace!