Troy Blackford is an author of short stories – Strange Way Out, medium stories – Critical Incident, long stories – Through the Woods, and blogs regularly at TroyBlackford.com, these are his good things.
Good things to read.
The Drawing of the Three by Stephen King. If we’re choosing three things, then this is a good place to start. My favorite of Stephen King’s ‘Dark Tower’ novels, this story combines all the madcap culture clash of “Star Trek IV’ with all the dark, twisted insanity of… well, Stephen King. The second book in a series of seven, people who enjoy awesomeness should surely read this book.
The Stuff of Thought by Steven Pinker. The Ste(ph/v)ens keep the brilliance coming with my second book pick. This is a non-fiction work by a master linguist and cognitive psychologist, delving into the mental aspects of language: how we use it, how we are able to use it, and what the way we use it tells us about our minds and ourselves. More than a little of this information can be useful to writers, but all of it is interesting and relevant to anybody who has the power to speak.
The A.B.C. Murders by Agatha Christie. So hard to choose just three books to recommend, but that is the name of this particular game. If you haven’t given Ms. Christie’s books a try, you’re really missing out. I strongly recommend this tale, of a murder spree and a killer taunting a world-class detective as the bodies pile up. It’s incredibly well-crafted, surprising, and above all – awesome.
Good things to watch.
The YouTube Channel of ‘The Lonely Island’ – These three ‘Dudes’ are famous for putting something into a box and doing something else in their pants, but they have so much more on offer. Videos the trio made back in 2001, years before they got hired at SNL and when they were just youngsters living together, doing what they love are still to be found online. Classics like ‘Stork Patrol’ and ‘Ka-Blammo!’ never fail to disappoint, and you can’t go wrong with their newer stuff either. Fun extras like Jorma’s ‘Spin the Globe’ song (done for a travel magazine article) and others lurk inside the nougaty wad of digital shorts and music videos you can find there.
Star Trek: The Next Generation. Why should I have to explain this? I was three when it came out, but unlike many other series of its time, this show gets played regularly on television on a daily basis still. Like ‘M*A*S*H,’ there is a timelessness to this show that transcends many of its televised peers as it was depicting a time period other than the one that produced it. Unlike M*A*S*H, this show is set well in the future from its production, and the optimistic outlook on the future of human nature is a great, uplifting thing, right when you need it. Also, some of the episodes have premises that are downright creepy. Always a good thing.
Rejected Pitches on Above Average Productions YouTube Channel. Who the hell would ever agree to make ‘Look Who’s Talking,’ ‘Back to the Future,’ ‘The Lord of the Rings,’ or ‘Jurassic Park?’ That’s the premise of this witty, original web series, created by Dan Klein. ‘Home Alone’ is ‘house torture porn.’ ‘Look Who’s Talking’ is assumed to be a horror movie. Three smarmy film executives sit across from people like Steven Spielberg, wrinkle up their smarmy noses, and question the intelligence of award winning director after award winning director. Not to be missed.
Good things to use.
Asus/Google Nexus 7. This fancy little seven-inch tablet runs the latest version of Android, and lets you do everything you need to do and more. In fact, for the last few months I’ve been writing my books on the little bugger, using a $25 bluetooth keyboard the size of a DVD case. Maybe that’s not the best use for the thing, but if you want to invest in an eReader, this would be great for that purpose alone, let alone all the other things you can do with it.
Audible.com. Audiobooks are great for times when you can’t be physically holding a book, but your mind is free and clear to be filled with stories or ideas. Audible lets you run an app on your smartphone that allows you to speed up the narrator, as well. I pump books directly into my brain at triple speed with this whenever I’m working on a dull task, doing dishes, or cooking – and it makes me a better person.
Coffee. Use a crapton of coffee at all times. I would be asleep right now if it weren’t for this socially-acceptable stimulant.
Connect with Troy on Twitter, @TBlackford3.