Modern Pop Culture References in Fantasy

Call the practice what you will: a shout-out, an homage, or simply a reference. If you’re a fan of pop culture, movies, TV, books, or music, perhaps you’ve seen filmmakers, directors, and writers being cute with this ritual. Recently, my wife and I were watching an episode of “Heroes,” and were pleased at the appearance of George Takei (Mr. Sulu from the original Star Trek). In this new series, he’s a wealthy Japanese business magnate, and the license plate on his limousine read “NCC-1701.” We had a good chuckle over noticing that little shout-out. In “Jersey Boys,” directed by Clint Eastwood, there’s a scene in a TV studio and a wall of monitors. The screens are playing many of the TV shows from that era, including a shot of Rowdy Yates from “Rawhide.”

bullhorn

These allusions are everywhere if you take the time to notice them. But of course, one must be a veritable fountain of useless cultural knowledge (like me) to catch them. Even The Beatles dropped a shout-out to Bob Dylan in the song “Yer Blues” from The White Album.

With all this in mind, I couldn’t resist the temptation to do the same within my own pages. The original manuscript for Storm of Divine Light was replete with Easter Egg type shout-outs. But alas, my wife (The Queen) and some beta readers suggested their removal. They said that my references, although entertaining, were too overt and jolted them out of their reading immersion.

For some odd reason, I figured that including some shout-outs was the right thing to do as a way of adding humor to Storm of Divine Light. After all, I hadn’t played any word games with a reader since my first short story “A Purveyor of Odd Things” from the Ragged Souls collection. No pop culture references in that one, but an assault of palindromes, anagrams, and double-entendres.

I reluctantly agreed and removed most of them during the final edit. Most of them (heh heh heh). The remaining ones are quite veiled, and I doubt if anyone will identify all of them. I confess, one of them is somewhat blatant, but I figured that one would stay as a signal that there are more. Hopefully, you’ve paid strict attention to my favorite movie lists. Although I do have a nagging suspicion that my friend Lynne will catch most or all of them.

Do you know what NCC-1701 signifies? Or what Rowdy Yates has to do with “Jersey Boys”? Or the lyrics from The Beatles “Yer Blues”?

Don’t Go – Comment Below

2020: Writing Goals for the New Year

For the New Year, I think it best to keep working on what I have already written, rather than start a new writing project. The first draft of M&M: The Tales of Tyrennia, Book II, is done and the first ten chapters are ready for beta reading. Therefore, a release of Book II looks rather promising.2020

My short story collection, that has been “on the back burner” for far too long, should be completed. I’ve decided to alternate between Book II and the collection. Edit a chapter, then edit a short story, then back to another chapter and so on. The shorts collection has seven titles, so it will be done relatively quickly and I can shift my undivided attention back to Book II.

I’m sure some minds are saying, “Shouldn’t this be titled ‘editing goals’ rather than ‘writing goals’”? Not in my case. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts long ago, I write bare-boned drafts (mostly dialog) and edit in an additive manner rather than a subtractive one. My first editing pass involves a lot of writing, like detailed descriptions, body language, ambiance, and the five senses.

On another note, I also plan on doing many more reviews this year. Of course I’m going to restrict them to books by Indie Authors.

Yes, I know these aspirations appear thin, but I believe in keeping things simple. I’ve found that when I set too large a goal and fail to reach it, I turn into my own worst critic.

What do you plan on writing about this year? Do you already have a work in progress? Are you already planning for NaNoWriMo 2020 in November or Camp NaNoWriMo in April?

Every Time You Reply Little Patrick Doesn’t Cry

Here’s My 2015 Reading List

An author should also be an avid reader. Upon reading the list below, you may notice that I’m not locked into any particular genre or type of book. You’ll see fiction and non-fiction of various sorts and subjects. Rather than make a long blog post about the value of reading, I prefer to make a note below to each title about why I have chosen each particular work.

books

Photo by Megan and used under CC license

The Joy of the Gospel by Pope Francis

I’m Catholic and he’s the Pope – need I say more? But seriously, I am truly interested in what Pope Francis has to say about the gospels. Some of the stories I’ve heard about Pope Francis while he was the Archbishop of Buenos Aires makes me want some insight from this very special man.

The Science before Science by Dr. Anthony Rizzi

I saw Dr. Rizzi on EWTN Live one night and was fascinated. He sees no conflict between science and the Church. Too often they are portrayed as enemies at each other’s throats. Of course, he also reminds us that it was the Catholic Church that invented the science that we have today.

Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton

Author and columnist, G.K. Chesterton is also known as “The Apostle of Common Sense.” His works vary greatly from novels to non-fiction, but the themes are usually the same. How does the truth of theology clash with modern western society? I’ve seen the series about him on EWTN, and it’s always intriguing. There is also a website for the Chesterton Society.

The Blackguard by Ben Garrido

I find the concept of this book utterly irresistible. Imagine an enclave of people living according to their own rules in modern America. I started reading this book last year and then had to put it down (with the rest of my life) on account of moving across the country. If I were teaching a sociology class, I would assign this book.

Also, Ben Garrido’s blog articles are always an academic and illuminating treat.

Over My Dead Body by Bruce Borders

From what I’ve read about Bruce, he seems like a real Texas Libertarian. Many Libertarian authors (myself included) are making frightening predictions about the iron hand of government. Imagine if the government took away your child without any proper justification. That’s the premise of Bruce’s novel. I also know that this book was released just a month or two before an actual story eerily similar to Bruce’s novel hit the news cycle.

The Spanish Inquisition: A Historical Revision by Henry Kamen

It never ceases to amaze me how many people are just sucked in by the anti-Catholic myths that were generated around the time of Henry VIII and the English “Cold War” with Spain. I plan on writing some historical fiction concerning these myths, so this will be the start of my research. Now I just need to find a few good titles on Galileo and Pope Pius XII (I know that most of the definitive titles about Pope Pius XII are by Sister Marchione; just haven’t decided on which one to buy).

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

I can’t resist a good fantasy novel, and I’ve heard many positive things about this one in particular. Since I’m writing a fantasy novel, it seems like a good idea to read some well-written fantasy. Brandon can describe magic, world-build, and get into character’s minds in a smooth and non-heavy-handed manner.

Writing About Magic by Rayne Hall

I’ve read another title by Rayne Hall called Writing Fight Scenes. Her research is so exhaustive and complete that when I saw this title, I knew I had to have it. I know authors can go a bit wacky with the self-help writing guides, but I do not. This is my fourth book in two years.

I also need to choose a few more books from the Rave Reviews official list. There are so many titles and genres by so many talented authors. Help me out with a suggestion…or two or three.