My Favorite Films of the 1970’s

 

I don’t care if some of these films did not win a string of Academy Awards or even if they were nominated. They are the ones that I keep going back to when I want to relax as if I’m seeing an old friend. All films not produced in the USA are marked.

movies

I Go to the Movies Alone… by Betsssssy used under CC License

50. The Last Picture Show – d. Peter Bogdonovich

49. Black & White in Color – d. Jean-Jacques Annaud (Ivory Coast)

48. The Bird with the Crystal Plumage – d. Dario Argento (Italy)

47. Norma Rae – d. Martin Ritt

46. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie – d. Luis Buñuel (France)

45. All The President’s Men – d. Alan J. Pakula

44. The Conversation – d. Francis Ford Coppola

43. Dog Day Afternoon – d. Sidney Lumet

42. The Man Who Fell to Earth – d. Nicolas Roeg (UK)

41. 1776 – d. Peter H. Hunt

40. Animal Housed. John Landis

39. Magnum Force – d. Ted Post

38. Barry Lyndon – d. Stanley Kubrick (UK / USA)

37. Last Tango in Paris – d. Bernardo Bertolucci (France / Italy)

36. Woodstock – d. Michael Wadleigh

35. Rocky – d. John G. Avildsen

34. The Outlaw Josey Wales – d. Clint Eastwood

33. The Seven-Ups – d. Phillip D’Antoni

32. Vanishing Point – d. Richard C. Sarafian

31. Alien – d. Ridley Scott

30. Close Encounters of the Third Kind – d. Stephen Spielberg

29. Jaws – d. Stephen Spielberg

28. Soylent Green – d. Richard Fleischer

27. The Song Remains the Same – d. Peter Clifton / Joe Massot

26. Mean Streets – d. Martin Scorsese

25. High Plains Drifter – d. Clint Eastwood

24. Murder on the Orient Express – d. Sidney Lumet

23. The Last Waltz – d. Martin Scorsese

22. The Stingd. George Roy Hill

21. Smokey and the Bandit – d. Hal Needham

20. Superman – d. Richard Donner

19. Nosferatu the Vampyre – d. Werner Herzog (West Ger. / France)

18. Macbeth – d. Roman Polanski (UK / USA)

17. Monty Python and the Holy Grail – d. Terry Gillian / Terry Jones (UK)

16. Star Wars – d. George Lucas

15. Blazing Saddles – d. Mel Brooks

14. Patton – d. Franklin J. Schaffner

13. Serpico – d. Sidney Lumet

12. Young Frankenstein – d. Mel Brooks

11. Scrooge – d. Ronald Neame (UK)

10. Apocalypse Now – d. Francis Ford Coppola

09. Taxi Driver – d. Martin Scorsese

08. The French Connection – d. William Friedkin

07. The Day of the Jackald. Fred Zinneman

06. Swept Away – d. Lina Wertmuller (Italy)

05. Day For Nightd. Francois Truffaut (France)

04. Jeremiah Johnson – d. Sydney Pollack

03. Let It Be – d. Michael Lindsay-Hogg (UK)

02. The Godfather Pt. II – d. Francis Ford Coppola

01. The Godfather – d. Francis Ford Coppola

Are any of your favorites here? Feel free to comment 🙂

 

The Queen and I (Part II): Let the Editing Process Begin

I’ve only published short stories; editing them was something of an easy task.  Because they are short, everything from proofreading to substantive editing can be done with each pass. After all, I was only dealing with 8-20 page stories.

A common rule of thumb I’ve read says to wait at least two months before picking up your manuscript to start editing. Well…NaNoWriMo ended two months ago, so the time has come for the grueling process to begin.

edit30

Editing a Paper by Nic McPhee used under CC License

The first two editing passes will be a Substantive Edit. “The Queen” (editor, wife, p.i.t.a.) has never read the manuscript, and she wants to do a complete reading with her notes to me. Those tiny plot holes, character motivations, vagueness, passages that slow down too much, or dialog that doesn’t fit a character need to be addressed first. Essentially it’s a “big picture” edit.

It can be a bit overwhelming at first, but after looking over The Queen’s notes for the first eight chapters, the proverbial light bulb is on. I understand the issues being addressed and it didn’t take much “mental juice” to develop a solution for all of the little problems. Of course what helps me out the most is her ability to write specific notes.

Instead of something like “This is vague,” she’ll write “Seems like he (my MC) gave in too quickly here. Consider more of a discussion or explanation that…” The Queen’s detailed notes readily facilitate a solution. Also, numbering her notes helps. Her first note in chapter 2 will be called (2.1) and so forth.

Communication is the key when performing a substantive editing pass of an entire manuscript, and it’s a two-way street.

Of course, any changes that I make to the manuscript will be typed in green. When I pass the MS back to her, she will see how I addressed each suggestion. For the sake of clarification, I always include the number of her note to my correction. This system is very advantageous when a note calls for something in one chapter to be moved into another chapter.

What’s the first thing you do in order to edit a manuscript? Got a special system?

Ernesto San Giacomo is the author of

googlecov2

Click the Pic and go straight to Amazon!

 

The Twilight Zone of Reviews (Part III)

 

I’ve discovered the danger of altering my basic writing style and subject matter. Normally, any short story of mine can be seen as a quirky tale laced with dark humor while delivering a very serious sub textual message concerning the downfall of Western Civilization.

I have one short story that deviates from my other works called Gematria². It’s not part of any collection because it is so different. However, that difference has turned around and bit me in the bum.

Like any other author, I have my favorites. Incredible wordsmiths who can make my jaw drop open and stun me. Two of those authors are Julio Cortázar and Jorge Luís Borges. For me, they are the unchallenged masters of the short story. Therefore it should come as no surprise that I had wanted to emulate them at least once. I couldn’t think of a better way to offer homage to a couple of my literary heroes. Thus, the short story Gematria² was conceived.

Gematriacovblog

When I presented Gematria² to my San Antonio critique group, I was quite proud of the results and feedback. The hairs on the back of my neck tingled, when one member announced to the group, “This is a work of pure literature.” I knew that I had accomplished a very difficult writing goal. I had written a piece that successfully played with the notions of time and space laced together with Jungian synchronicity. All of those ideas and themes were delivered in true Rioplata style in less than five pages. In hindsight, I should’ve put more emphasis on the fact that some members didn’t have an exact opinion. They neither liked it, nor disliked it. However, their non-reaction should not have surprised me. Most North Americans and Europeans are not familiar with the narrative style of magical realism, and would be taken aback by its stark differences from the norms that they’re accustomed to reading.

This short story by Julio Cortázar called The Continuity of Parks is only two long paragraphs and can give you a quick insight as to how the concept of reality and fiction are toyed with in the Rioplata style.

Well, Gematria² has received its first review on Amazon UK…a three-star review. Huh! To add insult to injury, the review was left by one of my biggest fans. Double huh! That’s right, someone who discovered me on Facebook, purchased my works, and has left several glowing reviews was disappointed by this one.

My guess is there were two forces were at work. The first was caused by the same effect that the piece had on some members of my critique group. Gematria² was just too different for him. Second was the expectation factor. He had read all of my other works and was probably expecting more of the same, and was therefore disappointed.

I’m glad that I can laugh, smile, and write happily about these quirky encounters with the reading public.

Gematria² is available for free on Wattpad (no download required) and Smashwords .

Have a quick read and let me know what you think?

And don’t forget to get your copy of Ragged Souls

googlecov2

Click the Pic and go straight to Amazon

 

Short Story Status Report: Stasis & Other Dystopian Tales

I’m hoping to release Stasis & Other Dystopian Tales by March, 2015. Here are the story titles and their current level of completion.

Stasis *extended edition              (Completed)

A Pound of Flesh                              (Ready for Beta Reads)

The Clinic                                             (3rd draft)

Preppers                                             (1st Draft)

Glossies                                               (3rd Draft)

A Most Generous Man                  (Completed)

There is another story that would fit in called Adrift, but I do not think that it will be done in time.

edit30

Editing a Paper by Nic McPhee used under CC License

More short story news items.

I’ve reached a compromise with “The Queen” concerning the #shortstory Little Red Revolution. If it does not get accepted for publication by April, then it will be released as a short story single for e-readers. The Queen and I can see the possibility of some magazine editors shying away from its raucous and raunchy humor.

The first draft of the Sci-Fi / Horror short Night Flights is done. I have to give it at least two more drafts before I have the nerve to bring it to my critique group.

The flash fiction piece entitled Everyone’s a Winner is almost completed. Perhaps I should not refer to it as a flash piece, because it is greater than 1,000 words. Most magazines / e-zines have a strict rule about the word count of a flash fiction story, so I think that submitting it now will be a lost cause. If I can trim it down a bit then I’ll submit it. If I can’t get it under the magic mark of 1,000 words, then I’m going to post it here as a freebie.

Two #StarTrek fan fiction pieces are in the works. The one for TNG is still in its 1st draft (#amwriting). The other which concerns ST original series is ready for a second draft. Both stories are of a humorous nature, because I just can’t resist doing things like that.

What’s your current writing / reading status?

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.

#Writing Resolutions for 2015

A new year has just been born, and like most other authors, I’m making a list and checking it twice. Except this list has nothing to do with presents or the holiday season. I’m assessing what #writing projects can be finished and marketed in 2015.

cal2015

2015 Calendar Template by Sheri Oz Used under CC License

Of course I’m checking the list twice because I don’t want to set up a bar that seems impossible to accomplish. After all, there’s no reason to put oneself under unnecessary stress to complete a mountain of work. I made that mistake last year, and I shouldn’t do it again. Currently, my list of goals for the New Year seems quite possible to complete.

My first and most important goal is editing and publishing my #fantasy novel “The First Light.”

Finish and publish my second short story collection called “Stasis and Other Dystopian Tales”

I also have two comedic #StarTrek fanfiction pieces that need to be edited as well.

Lastly, I have several short stories and a few flash fiction pieces that I’d like to try to publish traditionally. These stories can’t be put into a collection because they vary in genre. Therefore, I’ll finish what I can. I consider this part of my list to be the “cherry on the cake” so to speak.

googlecov2

Click the Pic and go directly to Amazon

 

Happy New Year Everyone!

What’s on your list for 2015?

 

The One Thing I Hate About Christmas

I can hear some of the initial reactions to the title of this post.

Most likely you’re thinking, “Bah Humbug to you too, pal,” or… “Is your real name Ebenezer San Giacomo? After all, your initials wouldn’t change.”

To save myself from the holiday madness:

I can avoid crowded stores and traffic by shopping online.

I can avoid spending lots of money by hunting for bargains or doing the shopping earlier.

I can avoid cooking for hours on end by enjoying a simple dinner with my wife and no guests.

I can avoid the anti-religion ad campaigns by Atheist groups by simply ignoring them.

I can avoid (place any other pet peeves about the holidays here).

However, the one thing that I wish I could avoid, but can’t, is going to church.

That’s one incredible thing for a devout follower of Catholicism to say, but it’s true. In fact, you can toss in Palm Sunday and Easter as well.

***If only I had the ability to photograph your wide eyes and gaping jaws at this moment.*** 🙂

But that’s the truth. Palm Sunday, Easter, and Christmas are the three days of the year that I’d like to avoid going to Mass.

Why? Because of all the PECs. “What’s a PEC?” you ask. It’s what regular parishioners call those people who attend Mass three times a year. PECs only go to church on Palm Sunday, Easter, and Christmas. Although I think crediting them with three church attendances per year is being nice. I’m sure the majority of PECs actually score only one or two out of three.

I agree with most clergy on this matter when they say things like “Well…they (PECs) are better off in church than not.” Who knows? Maybe they’ll come back for more and become a regular parishioner. It’s possible, and I’m hopeful for such things.

So it’s not their presence that bothers me. Nobody’s presence bothers me in church; those doors are always open to all. Which naturally begs the question, what bothers me about PECs?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It’s their attitude.

I’m sure at some point, you’ve seen video footage from stores where people get trampled or fight over that toy in short supply. How depressing it is to witness something like that. Well, that’s the same attitude that the PECs bring into church, treating communion like a first-come, first-served “free for all.” The clergy have wised up over the years, and now give out instructions that communion is dispensed row by row. Imagine the PECs’ disappointment over the fact that they got to the church early in order to be the first in line for the communion and “beat the crowd”, only to find out that it’s done in an orderly fashion. It’s as if they are on line at Best Buy for the latest iPhone gadget.

Oops, I almost forgot something important about Catholicism. If you’ve ever missed a Mass, then you can’t receive communion until the sacrament of reconciliation (confession and absolution) has been dispensed to you by a priest. But don’t try to tell that to a PEC.

I don’t mind standing in church; sometimes I actually think it’s a good thing that the pews are full. However, on the three days in question, I know that it is not a good thing. PECs cram into the front pews as if they’re lucky to get a better seat for a concert. Like I said, I really don’t mind standing, but what about the little old lady with the walker and the oxygen tank that shows up faithfully every week? Why  should she have to stand?

I would get up and offer her my seat. PECs don’t.

Next comes the unruly PEC children. Sometimes they play with toys and games. I remember one kid crawling up to the podium with a toy truck imitating engine sounds, while the priest was giving his homily. The PEC parents were smiling and laughing at their adorable child, and made no effort to stop him.

How I just wanted to tell them that not everybody thinks their child is a bundle of joy, especially when said child is interrupting a solemn ceremony.

And then there are the dreaded cell phones. There’s nothing like having a bright light jiggling around in your peripheral vision, or hearing that ring tone during the consecration of the Holy Eucharist, or their chattering.

In all fairness, I do have to say that not all PECs are created equal. The San Antonio PECs are much better than the New York City PECs. I have not yet experienced or witnessed the behavioral pattern of the typical Idaho PEC, but I’ll find that out tomorrow at Midnight Mass. Yes, I now only attend Midnight Mass for Christmas and Easter, because they are fewer PECs.

O Lord, please give me patience…right now!

Fowl Summer Nights by Diane Lynn McGyver

See what happens when empty nest syndrome and retirement are taken to their “Nth degree.” The exchanges between the main character and her neighbors make this work into a light-hearted romp. Diane spins a great humorous tale filled with comic believability laced with a healthy dose of outlandish circumstances.

FSN

Click the cover photo to link to Amazon

Despite the humorous, I think McGyver is also giving us a lesson about aging, family, and society in general without a heavy hand. These more serious matters are delivered via subtext.

McGyver’s professional prose style makes for an easy and enjoyable read. Especially when she uses her language skills to deliver clever wordplay quips. The novella is free of typographical and formatting errors, and is well edited, which is quite a relief in today’s indie market.

A perfect quick read! I’m giving this one five stars *****

Reviews: Stepping into the Twilight Zone Again

I once did an earlier blog post called “The Twilight Zone of Reviews.” I tend to lean toward that old television classic because one of my first reviews referred to me as “Sinclair Lewis meets Rod Serling on Main St.”

I tend to agree with that assessment. However, now I’m in the Twilight Zone of reviews again, because I just can’t figure out why different groups tend to see my work in totally different ways.

I don’t blow a proverbial gasket over a review that has an unfounded criticism. Why? Because I know that the reader/reviewer missed the cues.

Ragged SoulsBlog

In my first short collection Ragged Souls, there’s a story called “Martha’s Kitchen.” When I first wrote that piece it was a big hit among my fellow scribes in the San Antonio Writer’s Guild. They loved it and laughed at the right moments. They even pushed me into reading it during one of their “open-mic” nights.

Therefore, when it was published on Amazon and I received my first reviews, I was eagerly awaiting to see how readers would react to the story. Unfortunately most of the reviewers just “liked” it instead of “loving” it.

Of course, this came as a bit of a shock to me. They didn’t load on a huge pile of praise for the story and they also criticized it because they saw it as a “horror vignette” rather than a story.

Color me surprised!

I intended “Martha’s Kitchen” to read like a wry dark-humored Twilight Zone episode. The difference between the Amazon reviewers and my writers group gave cause for me to scratch my head and try to figure this one out.

After pondering for a long while, the light bulb turned on and I think I had the answer. The story is sown with many subtle seeds. For some, it may take a second reading to turn those seeds into humor. That was the difference, my fellow San Antonio authors had read or heard it a few times.

googlecov2

And…

Those same on-line reviewers also lumped on accolades for the lead story in the collection, “A Purveyor of Odd Things.”

Phew! In my mind, that lead story was the cleverest piece I have ever written.  So what’s the problem? Well…my writing buddies from San Antonio received that story with a rather “ho-hum” demeanor. I haven’t figured this one out yet, but I’ll try.

Your Second Draft: Paragraphing

Now that #NaNoWriMo 2014 is over, many authors, including myself will be scratching our collective heads in the #editing phase of bringing our works to market.

pen&paper

Journal Entry by Joel Montes De Oca used under CC License

What you should look for in your first glance at your manuscript is spelling, grammar, punctuation, and paragraphing. The first three, spelling, grammar, and punctuation are obvious enough, but you’re going to have brush up on their rules.

If I were to go into every rule for those three concerns, then this would be a book rather than a blog post. Try to obtain a copy of the Harbrace College Handbook, or if you’re in a pinch check out the Ask a Grammar Guru page on Facebook.

In the end, paragraphing seems to perplex quite a few #authors out there. After all, your paragraph can be spelled and punctuated properly and yet be considered wrong.

As far as the mechanics go, the general consensus out there for proper paragraphing is as follows…

When the speaker-tag changes, then a new paragraph is needed. If done right, then you can actually avoid the over-use of tags.

The action of one character causes a reaction from another character. The action-reaction dynamic needs to have its own separate paragraphs.

paperball

A Crumpled Paper Ball by Turinboy used under CC License

A character can only think, say, or do something. Therefore, keep it all in the family in the same paragraph. However, this can lead to paragraphs that are just too long.

Keep the length of a paragraph to five or six lines. If your character says and does a lot, then keep any internal dialog separate in order to avoid a lengthy paragraph.

You can go as far as half a page in one paragraph, if your intention is to slow down the pace.

Did you find this helpful? Did I forget to address something?