Brett Matthew Williams

Author & Historian

New Beginnings

A new year, a new chance to make all of the same mistakes from 2016 again, right? Well, if you're like me and a couple of the other billion people walking this Earth then you've managed to trick yourself into believing that 2017 will be better through your own actions. This magical bit of self delusion? The New Years Resolution.

"But BMW, why are you writing about New Years Resolutions on January 31st. Isn't that too late in the month?"

Depends entirely on your perspective. Look, I'm not a perfect guy. Hyper-responsible? Yes (my neurosis manifests itself through knowing most bills are paid months in advance - just in case I am hit by a bus). A consistent writer? You're damn straight! If I don't write at least 2,000 words every day I feel GUILTY for going to sleep at night. But perfect? Hell no.

Yes, dear reader, my faults are just as numerous as your own, but they lay not with 'adult' responsibilities, or with my life's passions. They are, and always have been, with keeping... A BLOG. 

* Cue 1950's drive-in horror music set to the theme of The Blob* 
* Insert sound effect of screaming teenage girl - maybe a mental clip of the Marshmallow man from Ghost-busters destroying New York City* 

See? I'm already off topic; because you see, dear reader, I have a problem with relaxation - mostly that I don't know how to engage with it to get to it's sweet, chocolatey center. High functioning anxiety is terrible in that respect, but it's something I know needs to be worked on, and (coming full circle now) what better time than New Years? 

SO! Here is my proposal. I will do my absolute best to write a blog entry for this site every week. Some will be good, some will be bad (we may even re-visit decade era movies again); but they WILL exist. I've made enough jokes at George RR Marin's expense that his website resembles the original Space Jam website more than a professional author's page. If the man can inspire me to create my own world, be overly kind to wild animals, and wear fisherman's hats while living in the desert (seriously... why...?) then I can take one more lesson from Martin.

In summation, 2017 - I'm ready for you! George RR Martin - I apologize for your fashion sense. Let's go buy clothes together; I know of a great place that sells orange parkas in Colorado. A funny little town called South Peak, or something. =- ) 

Until next time... 

 - The Architect of Eden -

June 2015 - What are YOU reading?

            This month I've got a pretty basic list that follows in-line with book series I began earlier in the year. So, instead of focusing on me, let's hear from some of you. What are YOU reading this month? Rather, what great works am I missing out on?
 
BMW's June 2015 Reading List:
 

Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow

Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

Brian's Return by Gary Paulsen

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

The Radicalism of the American Revolution by Gordon S. Wood - holdover from May, have 70 pages left.
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

1980s Movie May

Unintentionally I have watched a whole slew of 1980s movies this month. Most of these my wife had never seen (as she wasn't around in the decade in question). Being a byproduct of this bygone era I feel a small, if not fortuitous connection to this group of films. So, deciding to lean into it I'm notating my thoughts. Perhaps you too have some thoughts of your own? Sound off in the comments.  

The Breakfast Club - Jon Hughes most iconic film would never work in our current world of cell phones and tablet computers. Yet it was only ten years ago (2005) that High School Musical made it once again socially acceptable for teens to spontaneously dance in public. I've never seen that crap, but I know that Michelle Rodriguez's current girlfriend (Efron) is no Judd Nelson. So, unless his character, again, of which I couldn't name if my life depended on it, shows off a cigar burn and tells an upbeat, Disney inspired interpretive dance about how misunderstood his abusive father is (come to think of it, South Park already did this...) then The Breakfast Club of 1984 takes the teen iconic crown. 

Ghostbusters & Ghostbusters II - Watching these movies as an adult I couldn't help but notice a few things (call them nitpicky if you must). #1 - it felt like Bill Murray was phoning it in during his performance in both films. #2 - Sigourney Weaver had nearly the EXACT same plot in both movies, which is super lame considering she starred in the Alien franchise as an ass-kicking super scientist. #3 - Slimer was SUPER lame and I can't quite fathom how he became such a huge cultural icon. 

Labyrinth - Muppets! Jim Henson called David Bowie and history was made in the form of child abduction, rock-star taunting, and underage mental torture of a future Oscar winning actress. I'm not sure if I'm weird for liking this film, or if others are missing out. Frank Oz is a wizard (pardon the pun) but the real genius was Jim Henson. That baby looked so real! The things that man can do with fabric...

Trading Places - Eddie Murphy and Dan Akroyd manipulate the commodity market. Twist: on r/TodayILearned I read an article about how the scheme used by the duo in the film's climax was technically valid, legal, and used once before being outlawed a year following the film's release. Life imitating art is so much more satisfying that the opposite.Question: When did Eddie Murphy stop being funny? 
 
Blues Brothers - Bunch of musical icons making appearances before a car chase. Rinse, repeat. Great flick.
 
The Princess Bride - In my humble opinion this is THE best movie that was produced in the 1980s. Recently I finished reading Cary Elwes' book As You Wish, which chronicles the making of The Princess Bride film from its early adaptation of William Goldman's novel to the fateful day Elwes got the tragic news of Andre the Giant's death. Fun facts - Elwes stole a four-wheeler on the set of the film and broke his toe. Several of scenes feature a hobbling Wesley. Also, the scene where the six fingered man bops Wesley over the head? Yeah, Elwes woke up in the hospital for the second time in as many weeks (the first being his broken toe). When I grow up, I want to party like a 1980s actor.
 
Plan to watch:
Ferris Bueller's Day Off - Who doesn't smile while watching this movie? I mean, honestly.


TBD - Suggestions are welcome to finish out the month. I was probably thinking Caddyshack or Adventures in Babysitting.

Thank You, Dave

            I was raised by my great-grandparents, meaning that they were in their mid to late seventies when I was in the single digits. Because of this I have certain unique traits that normally only come to those who have gained experience and wisdom enough to justify their existence. Except this one.

            The Late Show with David Letterman shoots its final taping tomorrow, May 20, 2015. Aside from being an iconic comedian that brought absurd insights into our homes for the last thirty years, Letterman's character remains a topic of hot debate. This post isn't about that. This post is about how much I appreciate David Letterman for what he is, and what The Late Show has meant to me since I began watching it with my great-grandparents in 1994 - the last link of a current running entity that brought us together. A link to the past. Today I am an adult working for both the United States federal government, and as a fantasy fiction author; yet every time I see David Letterman's face I am reminded of both my childhood, and my late great-grandparents love. I remember Larry 'Bud' Melmon and Biff Henderson being sent to the Super Bowl to ask absurd questions to coaching assistants. Gags at the Hello Deli, the drive-thru taco incident (in which Dave filled his entire convertible with taco bell tacos), and stupid human/pet tricks were nightly events that my unconventional family looked forward to together. I was probably the only kid in first grade allowed to stay up until the top ten list every night. Looking back, I guess I was a pretty lucky kid. But like all good things, The Late Show with David Letterman must also come to an end.

            So, with a head held high and a heavy heart I salute the career and legacy of David Letterman, the Late Show cast and crew, and thank all of them for giving me so many memories that transcend this illusion called time.

The Kids are Alright

            Went to speak to Mrs. Debbie Steiniger's 6th grade English class at Harmony Magnet school last month.


            As you can see they were a great group of kids. What I really appreciated was how engaged they all were to participating in class. When I asked what most of them were currently reading (a question that often stymies adults) nearly every one of them had an immediate and different response than their peers.

            I know what you are thinking, and yes... the little ginger kid with the afro was the trouble maker of the group.

            The little girl in the picture was doing her 6th grade Pre-AP project over the writing process. Because of this she asked to interview me in front of her class. Somewhere out there, within the confines of academia, the interview is recorded for posterity. I think I did alright considering my biggest worry was (literally) not cursing in front of nearly thirty eleven year-old kids. We covered all sorts of topics including what it means to be a writer, in which I shared my two rules for writing:

            Rule #1: Writer's write. They don't wait until they 'have time' or for 'inspiration' to strike. It won't and you are NOT a writer unless you physically engage in the act of writing.

            Rule #2: Writer's finish what they begin. No matter how much you might hate your current project it deserves an ending.

  A lot of them asked for my autograph afterward - a concept I'm still trying to wrap my head around. In life we are asked to sign many things, often these are of the negative variety (traffic citations, taxes, etc); but seldom are we asked to add our signature to something grand - something beautiful.

            My favorite part of the day was after the interview when each tween asked me to sign their respective copies of the first Time is Relative, or notepads for their language arts class - not because of any vanity that comes from a chorus of approval from one's creation; but because it gave me the opportunity to engage each child individually and hear their thoughts on my lecture.

"Mr. Williams, have you cut your hair since your book came out?"

"Are you rich?" 

"How long did this take you to write? Was it hard?"

"My dad writes numbers in crosswords." - believe this kid was referring to Sudoku. 

"Do you have a car? Is it big? Could I write in a car? I like trains. Trains are big. Muffins!" -But there were no muffins. Nor baked goods of any sort. The child just sort of wandered off, leaving me to hold their assignment book. Full disclosure, I didn't understand this kid's nonsense at all. The teacher assured me that he/she was quite brilliant despite their ramblings of theoretical locomotives and invisible baked goods. Makes me think I'll see him/her in a uni-bomber type situation on the news someday. Hopefully not.

Here's a fun game - from the pictures, guess which person asked/said what to me. Results in the next post. Until then remember...

Time is Relative

Brett Matthew Williams
The Architect of Eden

Background photo courtesy Tiago Gerken