Charles Daly

Writer

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5 True Crime Podcasts

I’ve been obsessed with true crime podcasts lately. Because they’re so much fun, because serial killer stories are more uplifting than current events, because I’m doing research for a top secret fiction project I can’t talk about yet.

 

These are my favorites.

A Killing on the Cape

“You’re sure to fall in love with old Cape Cod.”

ABC (20/20)’s investigation of the murder for which every man in the small town of Truro, MA was a suspect at one point. Look no further for your Serial fix.

 

This one’s fun for me because it takes place in my backyard.

 

True Crime Garage

“Be Kind, and Don’t litter.”

Just a couple of guys drinking beer in a garage and talking about crime. The depth of their research is unreal. They’ll devote six, seven hours, over three parts, to a case if that’s what it requires. They revisit cold cases with new developments and bring in the occasional expert from the online amateur detective community.

 

My Favorite Murder

“Stay sexy. Don’t get murdered.”

The Pumpkin Spiced Latte of crime podcasts, this one will make you feel a little less weird about listening to serial killer stories for entertainment.  Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark break up the gory details of the case at hand with basic AF interjections like “what the actual fuck?”

If you’re already up on the killers they discuss, it’s not likely you’ll learn anything new, but it’s worth tuning in for the banter.

All Killa No Filla 

“Dead Funny.”

The U.K’s contribution to the all female true crime podcast sub-genre–for which the audience is huge apparently. Rachel and Kiri deliver the same mood-lightening tangents as their sisters across the pond at My Favorite Murder but with a bit more research.

It’s super charming and adorable when they correct their various Britishisms for a global audience. Like in the John Wayne Gacey episode when they say Gacey was “leathered, I mean drunk, I mean hammered.”

Dirty John

“Where other people saw red flags, she saw a parade.”

Hailed as “the best true crime podcast since serial,” by NME, Dirty John tells the story of the scumbag of the century and the woman he duped.

This is a production of the L.A times. Like NPR’s Serial and ABC’s  A Killing on the Cape, this one benefits from serious journalism and the resources of a major media company.

 

Artists Celebrate Leonard Cohen in Montréal

“There is a crack in everything, 
      that’s how the light gets in.”

             –Leonard Cohen

 

Leonard Cohen : Une brèche en toute chose/A Crack in Everything (at Montréal’s Museum of Contemporary art) features art and multimedia installations celebrating the life and work of Montréal’s late troubadour.

leonard cohen a crack in everything

 

The exhibit opens with “the Depression Chamber” an installation, by Israeli artist, Ari Folman, where you lay on a bed in a small “sarcophagus like” room listening to “Famous Blue Raincoat” while drawings are projected on the walls and ceiling. Since the Chamber had to be experienced alone and the song is five minutes long, the queue to enter–separate from the entrance to the rest of the exhibit–was over an hour long. The people in line talked the things you’d expect a bunch of Cohen fans to talk about:

 

A teenage girl tells her parents about her newfound meditation practice.

 

A tourist visiting from Australia says she’s never heard Cohen’s music, and when someone else in line hums “Hallelujah” she realizes she has.

 

The woman behind me remembers seeing Cohen around Montréal and serving him while he wrote in the coffee shop where she worked in high school. I asked her, “Have you always been a fan?”

 

“Oh yeah,” she says, “My boyfriend and I used to put him on in the morning when I slept over–back in the 60s.” She recommends that I check out the illustrated guide  to Cohen’s Montréal accompanied by a narration by Martha Wainwright.

depression chamber leonard cohen Ari Folmanleonard cohen a crack in everything

 

Visitors weave through a maze of Cohen-themed installations. There’s an esoteric 16mm film remixing his poetry readings on the CBC into a sort of spoken word Canadian hip hop thing, a 3 minute video of a bird on a wire (not the song but a bird perched on a wire,) and, for those who don’t know Cohen’s story, there’s a 35 minute supercut of a lifetime of interviews and documentary footage.

 

If the Depression Chamber is the weirdest first date imaginable, the interviews and concert footage have a different effect. The videos play on wall-sized screens and the viewers sit on low stools, not unlike the audience of a folk concert. The visitors were mostly women, bookish-looking with nice scarves. More than a few of them carry cameras  of the artsy sort. The guys seemed to all be with dates. Silhouettes get close to one another in front of the screen while “Suzanne” plays.

 

Like Cohen’s opus, the archival footage always returned to the subject of love and women. Cohen quotes his Zen teacher to one interviewer,

 

“The older you get, the lonelier you become and the deeper love you need.”

 

Of love he says,

 

“It’s the only game in town.. that’s what we’re here for.”

 

The confluence of love, sex, death, and longing in his lyrics is depicted in an interpretive dance by  Montréal artist Clara Furey. She performs on the floor–topless in blue jeans–for 90 minutes.

 

leonard cohen typewriter olivetti 22leonard cohen hotel chelsea matchbook

 

My fanboy moment came when I found his Olivetti 22 on display with a letter to Cohen and a book of his matches from the Hotel Chelsea. This is a big deal for a typewriter nerd.

 

Down  the  hall, Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller‘s  Poetry Machine uses an electric organ to play an unabridged reading of The Book of LongingEach key plays a page. The words come out of old tweed speakers around the visitor/organist’s chair.

 

 

In a separate wing of the exhibit, dedicated just to his music, there is a huge, unfinished-looking wooden box with a doorway. It’s an echo chamber that plays a recording of a hundred Montréal-based singers humming his best known song: “Hallelujah.”

 

Microphones, hanging from the ceiling inside the box, invite visitors to hum along, which makes the floor vibrate as their voices are added to the chorus. Meanwhile, an LED counter on the ceiling displays how many people are currently streaming the song on Spotify.

 

I heard there was a secret chord wooden box leonard cohen exhibit

 

This piece manages to cut right through the over-played-ness of the song by making that its subject. To be alone with this particular song is to feel your own part in something greater. If you’re anything like me, this isn’t your favorite Leonard Cohen song, but it’s hard to imagine “Last Year’s Man” or “Chelsea Hotel no. 2” having the same effect.

 

You enter the box and it’s like an emotional sauna. You feel acutely whatever heartbreak or longing you might be carrying. The others in the box seem distant, and looking at their faces feels invasive. If you do look, their expressions will challenge your cynicism. Like a sauna, it all feels good at first and becomes overwhelming.

 

leonard cohen on a train

Leonard Cohen | © Old Ideas, LLC

November 7th, 2017 was the one year anniversary of Cohen’s death. His hometown marked the occasion with a bunch of events, culminating in the MAC exhibit that will be open through April.

 

Biere Vagabond released Leonard, a Kölsch style beer, in his honor. My friends drank it while trying to explain Celine Dion to me.

vagabond beer leonardvagabond beer leonard

 

The city unveiled an 11,000 square foot mural, by artists El Mac, Gene Pendon and the MU collective, on a building downtown.

 

On November 6th, there was a tribute concert featuring Cohen’s music performed by Sting, Elvis Costello, Lana Del Rey, Feist, Adam Cohen (his son,) and others. Comedian Seth Rogan read a poem on stage. He said, “As a Canadian Jewish person, there is no greater honour than reading a Leonard Cohen poem in the middle of a hockey arena.” Prime Minister Trudeau was there and shared his memories of the singer.

 

 

The Why…

Joe Rogan,  absolutely kills it at sharing something every day. His podcast is one of the most popular on iTunes, and at over a thousand episodes is among the most prolific. Part of what makes his output possible is that his show is largely unedited, taking the form of free-flowing conversations that can go on for two to four hours.

 

The Joe Rogan Experience doesn’t have the production value, the narrative structure, or the cool synth interludes of a Serial or This American Life, but it isn’t encumbered by the editorial or production constraints that force those shows to work on seasons like television programs. Rogan has true creative control over his platform and the result is a space where compelling and controversial figures can talk about whatever the hell they want.

 

In my own blog-smithing, I’ve taken a lesson here, because, for the longest, time I was held back by the urge to be a certain way or write a certain kind of post–all authoritative, pseudo journalistic, and, in my worst moments, life-coachy–rather than let this outlet develop organically into whatever it’s going to be.

 

So, today, I set out to write a post about the big “why?” behind all this putting oneself out there stuff. I wanted to reiterate the cliché but very true advice that life’s to short not to make stuff and share it with the world–if that’s what you want to do with your short time here. It should come as no surprise that there’s no shortage of voices online saying just that.

 

I thought about doing a listicle of lesser-known sources advising you to follow your passion–or, in Ryan Holiday’s case, follow your purpose. Instead, I settled on a single clip from episode #972 of the Joe Rogan Experience that makes the simple case for why you might want to stop “wasting your life in the 9 to 5 rat race” and how to do it.

 

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(By the way, if you’re keeping score re: Joe’s output, #972 was released on June 7th, 2017, and he’s now on episode #1037. That’s one episode ever 2.3 days. Imagine how productive he’d be without all those edibles…)

 

“People with Real jobs are so mad at us right now…”

Be a Minimalist

Another loaded milenial word… But Rogan is talking about priorities. Sort out what’s important to you and make it a priority, because you don’t have much time. Quit trading your living hours for “stuff.”

 

Make Enough Money

Nobody’s advocating starving. It’s about knowing what enough means to you and not busting your ass to earn more than that when you could be spending that time having an experience or working on something meaningful.

 

Rogan’s guest, Ari Shaffir suggests working on a tugboat in Seattle for a few months to save up for an adventure.

 

Take a Gap Year

In Europe, they have the same expectation that college is the next step after high school, but they also have a culture of taking time off. Parents don’t freak out when their kids want to go see Thailand before the show up to University.

 

A too-easy and totally untrue criticism of world travel is that it’s a luxury. Bullshit. You can join the peace corps, you can get a job overseas. My first job out of college was teaching English in Korea. Half the Americans I met there were sending money home to pay off student loans. When I left, I was freaking out, wondering how I could afford to live in the States. It was cheaper to keep traveling, so I moved to Spain.

 

You don’t have to be a child of privilege to travel or quit your job to follow your bliss, but you do have to reevaluate your priorities.

 

Get out of the Nine-to-Five Mindset

Rogan and Shaffir unpack the absurdity of sick days, vacation days, and the 40 hour workweek. Nothing original here, but it’s funny to hear Rogan make the case in his old-timey boss’ accent:

“Nine-to-five, nine-to-five, nine-to-five, morning, Bob; morning, Sam;  nine-to-five…could you imagine?”

 

The clip ends with a transition to a new rant about the tactical virtues of whipping your dick out in a fist fight.

 

 

 

 

Friday Roundup, be here now

“You can’t ask for flowers– know what I mean– you either get’m or you don’t.” 

–Liam Gallagher 

Fall is (finally) here. This is what I’ve been up to for the first week in November:

 

What I’m reading: 

The Killer Inside Me — Jim Thompson: A classic of neo-noir and American Crime with a forward by Stephen King. Thompson’s masterpiece (if you want to call it that) tells of a amiable small town Texas deputy with a homicidal streak. The influence of this disturbing little book is all over American Psycho, Silence of the Lambs, and No Country for Old Men. 

 

Show Your Work! — Austin Kleon: The book that ended my blogging dry-spell. Thank you, Austin!

 

What I’m listening to:

The story of Vice’s humble origins in Montréal on How I Built This.

 

A Killing on the Cape, ABC’s podcast series on the Christa Worthington murder.

 

Liam Gallagher’s solo album. It’s very good… Sounds more Oasis than his brother’s solo work.

 

Also,  Liam’s  Weekly Music Corner for Vice is on point.

Liam Gallagher’s Weekly Music Corner Ep. 1 (HBO)

Our new music critic, Liam Gallagher reviews new music in his debut installment of Music Critic. Today’s songs include: “Cellophane” by Metz, “Fuck Ugly God” by Ugly God, “Lady Powers” by Vera Blue and “Medication” by Damien Marley.

 

What I’m Doing:

Exploring Montréal, including the city’s celebration of Leonard Cohen, which I wrote up.

 

Showing my work

 

Working on a novel, but I can’t talk about it yet.


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5 Documentaries on Showing your Work

For inspiration on how to show your work , or to just get fired-up about the creative process in general, check out these five documentaries that take a look at the journey, the sweat, and the drama behind the finished product.

 

Oasis: Supersonic 

 

Supersonic chronicles the hard work and brilliant musicianship that would catapult Oasis to superstardom and the clash of egos and sibling rivalry that would be their undoing.

 

Depending on how you look at it, this is either a cautionary tale or a study in what you can get away with if your work is absolutely fucking brilliant.

 

For more studio craft and less tabloid buffoonery, check out the hour long Oasis: Definitely Maybe, a generic but interesting rock doc on the making of their debut album.

 

The Making of South Park: 6 Days to Air 

If there ever was a treatise on the power of deadlines to unleash creative productivity, this is it. Each episode of South Park is written, recorded, and animated in just 6 days. Far from a sweatshop, the South Park Studio is full of laughter, and the sort of goofing off that’s vital to creativity no matter how tight a deadline you’re on.

 

South Park’s co-creator, Trey Parker, relates the self-imposed crunch his team finds themselves in every week, “There’s a show on this Wednesday, and we don’t even know what it is.” They put out episodes not in spite of this ambiguity, but because of it. You get the impression that it would be a very different–and probably less special–show if they gave themselves more time. The void is part of the process. Something to keep in mind if you’ve committed to share something every day.

 

This one will make you feel lazy and, hopefully light a fire under your ass.

 

Funky Monks

 

Available in full on YouTube (below,) Funky Monks is a black-and-white fly-on-the-wall view of the making of the Red Hot Chili Pepper’s 1991 album Blood Sugar Sex Magik: the one with “Under the Bridge” and “Give it Away” on it, the one that would make the Chili Peppers a band your grandma has heard of.

 

The band was living in their producer, Rick Rubin’s, mansion/studio at the time. Things get pretty fratty, but you can see the value of living in the same space as your work in progress.

Red Hot Chili Peppers: “Funky Monks” Uncut Full Documentary (1st Edit Uncut with bonus footage)

Use of this video is for “Fair Use” for Educational purposes showing different recording techniques, the creative process and is for comments on Artistic Content. There is a bit of an issue at the beginning of the Video at 0:00:10 – 0:00:36 as it was eaten by my VCR during transfer.

Abstract: the art of design (Netflix series) 

 

Each episode features a designer talking through and demonstrating their craft. It’s filmed in a way that gets inside the voice of its subjects and feels like a creative product all its own, not just a documentary about creatives.

 

The series includes New Yorker cover artist Christopher Niemann, Nike shoe designer Tinker Hatfield, and designers of cars, sets, and buildings.

 

Hearts of Darkness: a Filmmaker’s Apocalypse

hearts of darkness filmmakers apocalypse francis ford copalla

While her husband was shooting Apocalypse Now, Eleanor Coppola kept home videos and audio recordings of his work. This started as a way to keep herself occupied while adjusting to life in the Philippine countryside, where the family had relocated for the duration of the project.

 

Everything that  can go wrong goes wrong: a hurricane wipes out the set, people get malaria, Coppola burns through all his Godfather money and everything he can borrow, Brando throws tantrums over his body image issues, and the Philippine Army Helicopters–hired for the film–fly away in the middle of a shot on orders to go fight actual rebels.

 

Copolla’s private rants, which Eleanore recorded without his knowledge, are cringeworthy yet familiar to anyone who’s ever felt over their head on a creative project.

 

Fiction Abortions

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while and you saw my recent post about starting a novel, you might be thinking: what about the one you were re-writing last year, or the one you drafted in 30 days?

The answer: those are in the bin.

I’ve written and thrown away three short novels:

 

The first was a plotless, soju-drunk travelogue set in Korea and Japan which I put out of its misery after three drafts.

 

The second was a humorless coming-of-age story that I would have called “literary” as a nice way of saying it wasn’t about anything. That one went through 11 or so drafts and some feedback from family and friends (cringe) before it slept with the fishes.

 

I even wrote a spy novel, which took about 21 days. I had just read a bunch of books on plot and screenwriting and decided it would be easy to whip together something sleek and plot-driven set in the places I had traveled. It didn’t work, but I got one scene out of it, I’m going to use elsewhere, that made the whole thing worth it.

 

I’m sharing this so I don’t have to feel doomed going into the novel I’m working on. There’s a persistent voice that tells me that I’m 0-and-4, and asks why this one should be any different. This is my way of silencing that voice.

 

Rather than crossing my fingers, hoping nobody finds my old posts about the writing and rewriting process, I want to own those false starts and abortions. I’m glad I wrote them, and I’m glad I threw them away. I’m glad I didn’t self-publish work I wasn’t proud of, and I’m glad I’m stepping up to the plate again.

 

If I finish the one I’m working on and put it out in the world, it will only be because of all the work I’ve done up to this point: the stuff I put out there and the stuff I binned.

 

*If you’re the sort of person who gets offended by abortion quips, it’s very unlikely you’ll enjoy my writing. Have a nice day. 

Show Your Work!

 Yesterday’s blog post started as a long caption on Instagram, under a photo of my writing tools. I was sharing my stoke over starting a new novel–in the only way I can since I won’t say what it’s about until I have a draft–but I was also answering a prompt from Austin Kleon’s handy little book,  Show Your Work! In this guide to putting your stuff out in the world, Kleon dispenses powerful and simple advice like “share something small every day.”

 

 

Show your Work by Austin Kleon share something small every day

 

Yesterday, I was doing just that—as I am in with this post. Both days I felt like I had nothing to say, and I’m sure I’ll have to slay that dragon again tomorrow. What got me writing was letting go of the need to create from scratch, opting instead to document what’s right in front of me.

 

In the third day of writing a novel, I don’t have any creative writing that’s ready to share. But I can talk about my process, my tools, my creeping insecurities, and the books on my nightstand—including the one that inspired me to write this post in the first place.

 

Kleon offers specific advice on how to do this:

 

“Once a day, after you’ve done your days work, go back to your documentation and find one little piece of your process that you can share. Where you are in your process will determine what the piece is. If you’re in the very early stages, share your influences and what’s inspiring you. If you’re in the middle of executing a project, write about your methods or share works in progress. If you’ve just completed a project, show the final product, share scraps from the cutting room floor, or write about what you learned. If you have lots of projects out in the world, you can report on how they’re doing—you can tell stories about how people are interacting with your work.” (Kleon, 48.)

 

He also shares a graphic outlining what to share and what not to share:

 

Austin Kleon show your work share something small every day

And that’s the problem: I sort of conflated sharing with oversharing, as if showing friends and followers where I work is the same thing as a selfie-reel or pictures of my lunch.

 

At first glance, that attitude might seem profound, like a humble stand against the self importance and the vapidity of social media. But really, it’s just control freakery in disguise. Part of sharing one’s stuff is letting it go. I don’t dictate the terms of how others experience my work. I don’t get to micro-mange their response. And that’s a good thing, because the response to my post was better than anything I could have arranged for myself:

 

I connected with some new writers, who must have found me through the hashtags.

 

A buddy of mine asked to be a character in the novel—he doesn’t know he already is.

 

One friend noticed the crime writing hashtags and asked me all about that genre—something she didn’t know I was into. And she, in turn, told me about fantasy writing and world-building, something I didn’t know she was working on.

 

Another friend, who I haven’t talked to in a while shared what he learned about long projects from his marathon training. We ended up talking about his next race. (What up, Pete!)

 

None of this would have happened if I hadn’t gotten over myself and put my scrap of the day out into the world.

 

show your work by austin kleon

 

I’m Writing a Novel, these are my tools.

It begins. I’m starting a novel. These are my tools:

Charles Daly writing desk lamy 2000

4”x6” index cards — For my notes. The plastic box is a dumping ground for scene sketches, setting and character details, and random tidbits I don’t want to lose. I started filling the box before I had time to get real about starting a draft.

I get a lot of card-worthy ideas in the shower, on walks, and when I’m driving. I jot them down as soon as I’m dry or have a place to pull over.

Lamy 2000 fountain pen — Anyone who knows me has heard me rant about this pen to all who will listen. It also happens to be Neil Gaiman’s favorite.

 

Yellow legal pads — I draft everything longhand first. Something about the flimsy yellow paper reminds me that it’s just a draft and anything I put down is subject to change and deletion.

My pace is “two crappy pages per day,” which I borrowed from a conversation between Neil Strauss and Tim Ferriss. If I want to write more, that’s cool. But by setting the bar low, it’s easy to have a “successful” writing day.

13” MacBook Air — The 2013 model. I’m not impressed with Apple’s latest offerings. From what I can tell, the touch-bar is just a better way to pause Spotify… The downside of writing longhand is the drudgery of transcription. Lately I’ve been playing with voice recognition, which is faster and also gives me a chance to hear how the page sounds. Taking words from the legal pad to the screen is like a first round of editing.

Yes, I happen to be starting in November. No, I’m not doing NaNoWriMo. The “two crappy pages per day” rule won’t get me to THE END in a month, and I’m okay with that.

 

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What I’ve Been Reading–one Month into my Book Diet

Last month, I started a “reading diet.” The idea comes from Ray Bradbury who recommended that the aspiring read one short story, one poem, and one essay every day, and one novel per week.

I’m reckoning with something I wish I had known a long time ago, that reading is part of your workday as a writer. It’s not laziness or procrastination, it’s not passive, and it’s not optional. You can read more about my first two weeks of this experiment here.

This is  what I read in the second half of March.

What I’m reading

Stories from:

 

 

 

Essays & Non-Fiction:

 

  • “Heroin/e” –Cheryl Strayed

 

 

 

 

 

Poems From:

Novels:

  • I started Proust’s Swann’s Way but swapped it out for John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces after about 20 pages. The former is much harder to read without the snotty English major zeal I had the first time around.

Writing All Night in Dublin Airport

Note: the following was written, edited, and published in the middle of an all-nighter. All typos and style fails are strictly rhetorical.
(Dec, 2016)

I’m writing this in Terminal 2 at Dublin Airport at four in the morning. I’ve decided to turn an overnight layover into an espresso-fueled writing spree. Here’s what I got up to during my impromptu residence.

I Observed and Took Notes

What was cool about spending a waking night in an airport is that all the people I was people-watching were doing the same thing, but they were all doing it differently.

Some people clutched their luggage while they slept, some knew my leg-hooked-through-the-pack-strap trik. One young lady seemed to be having a staring contest with her upright rolling luggage, totally paranoid. One guy slept with his feet up on a luggage cart.

Other people didn’t seem worried enough about their bags.

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