Tag Archives: newspapers

Fifty Years of the Final Frontier

Is there a Klingon word for “idiot”?

Back in September, Star Trek celebrated the 50th anniversary of its premiere on NBC.  I made a small contribution to this auspicious occasion with this article from The Villages Daily Sun.

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I meant to post this on Sept. 8 or thereabouts, but apparently my calculations to reach Ceti Alpha V weren’t quite right. I’ll let Mr. Scott know immediately to get it right next time.

I hope you enjoy the article, and may Star Trek continue to live long and prosper.

Gotta get back in time

Growing up, I was fascinated with cars.

But not just any cars. These had to be the most sophisticated pieces of machinery ever assembled. Like a talking car that could jump over chasms and banter with David Hasselhoff (Knight Rider). Or robots that could turn into vehicles (The Transformers). Or vehicles that could make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs (the Millennium Falcon).

So in 1985 (or maybe it was a year or two later, the memory is fluctuating), I discovered a little movie called Back to the Future. I think our family had first watched the movie when it came out on VHS. Being 9-10 years old, a lot of the plot probably flew past my head, but I was intrigued by Doctor Emmett Brown’s time machine: a DeLorean.

It had gull-wing doors! It could travel through the space-time continuum by reaching 88 mph, thus activating the flux capacitor! It got cold whenever it got back from its time trip! It sounded like Luke’s landspeeder from Star Wars! It had a clicking sound like the turn signal from my parents’ car!

Anyway, I had found my new favorite cool car.

Jump ahead in time to 2004. At my job, I spent a few years writing about classic cars and their owners. One day, when looking at a list of potential cars to write about, I spotted a familiar name. DeLorean.

Could it be?

It was!

After all these years, I finally got to be next to a real DeLorean. This was heavy.

Jump ahead once more to 2009, when lightning struck the clock tower twice. Someone else had a DeLorean! I could dust off my cheesy Back to the Future references once more.

In honor of the movie’s 30th anniversary (30 years? it is a nice round number), after the time jump (ahem), you can read those articles from the recent past. Feel free to cue up some Huey Lewis and the News or Marvin Berry.

Continue reading Gotta get back in time

Saluting Satchmo

Through a strange set of circumstances and serendipity, I discovered that July 31-Aug. 3 is the Satchmo SummerFest in New Orleans’ French Quarter. This festival celebrates the genius of jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong through numerous live performances, seminars, and food.

Louis Armstrong banner at the 2002 Satchmo Summerfest in New Orleans.
Louis Armstrong banner at the 2002 Satchmo Summerfest in New Orleans. (photo by Michael Fortuna)

I had gone to the 2002 edition to write some stories for the Daily Sun (there is a big club in The Villages devoted to jazz, so I figured they’d get a kick out of it). Not only was this my first attempt at covering an event like this on deadline (writing and taking photos), but it was my first opportunity to fly in an airplane. I said quite a few prayers from Jacksonville to Atlanta to New Orleans (yeah, that flight plan didn’t make sense to me either). Thankfully, all flights went off without a hitch.

I’ve been a fan of jazz for years, and the opportunity to go to the birthplace of the genre was too good to pass up. Throughout the three-day event, I heard some amazing local performers, tried some jambalaya, and walked around the French Quarter to soak in the atmosphere.

I came back with a few souvenirs: I bought Armstrong’s autobiography, as well as the massive anthology “Reading Jazz.” From the CD department, I picked up one of drummer Jason Marsalis’ albums. Drummers gotta represent.

Anywho, I had a great time. One of these days I need to go back.

Below the jump, you can read the three articles I wrote, as well as see some photos I took (please excuse the graininess; I took pictures of the pictures). I think the articles still hold up OK. Enjoy!

Continue reading Saluting Satchmo

Writer’s gonna write, right?

As you may have surmised from looking around this website, I’m a writer, whether it’s for local metropolitan newspaper or creating new worlds out of my brain and turning them into fiction.

My earliest recollection of writing a story was when I got a school-bus-yellow Sears typewriter from my grandfather. I typed out this one page, single-spaced story featuring the Transformers (for those continuity freaks, it took place some time after Transformers: The Movie, maybe the third or fourth season of the show). I still have that sheet of paper somewhere, but I’m sure if I read it now, I would cringe.

But that’s OK. You learn to write by writing.

The calendar pages flip past. I’m a senior in high school, and everyone wants to know what you’re going to do with the rest of your life. At this point, I was writing a few things here and there, English teachers were positive about my work. So I thought, hey! I’ll be a professional writer! My first inclination was to write fiction, but I told myself that I couldn’t make a living doing that. I wasn’t Stephen King or John Grisham. (That was probably a dumb thing to think, but I did) So I went with the option of writing and getting a steady paycheck: journalism!

I went to the University of Florida in 1996 to learn the ins and outs of journalism, thinking I could write about music, another love of mine. After graduating, I wrote for The Gainesville Sun and the Lake City Reporter before landing my first full-time job at The Villages Daily Sun, where I’ve been writing away to this day. While I didn’t quite land a gig at Rolling Stone, I have written a bit of everything, which is always a good thing. I’ve also learned to write on deadline and have the story make sense, another good quality.

All the while, I wrote short stories. I sent them out to magazines and contests and got kind rejections. During high school, I had created this science fiction/fantasy universe and had written this epic novel (maybe it was a novella, who knows). I even started up a contemporary story featuring two star-crossed high school kids who fall in love. The latter story got me into Harry Crews’ creative writing class at UF, which turned out to be the last semester he taught. It was there that the story got ripped to shreds by the other students (They had said high school kids don’t hang out at the mall. REALLY?!?). It forced myself to scrap it and rewrite what turned out to be a better version.

Jump ahead to when my first daughter was born (around 2008), and I decided I was going to write my first novel, which featured the star-crossed high school kids. I wrote it in about half a year, then put it away.

That science fiction world from high school wanted a new (read: better) novel, so in 2011 (when daughter No. 2 had arrived) I started that tome. Two years later, I finished it, then put it away.

Last November, I started another science fiction novel, with about 20,000 words added so far. As with the first two stories, some days the words fly out of my brain like water out of a fire hydrant. Other days, the water is dripping every three seconds. But I try to get something down.

I hope to get these novels polished enough to see if a publisher might want to bring them to the masses. Or I may go the self-published route. Or I could just BEAM THEM DIRECTLY TO YOUR BRAINS. (is handed a piece of paper) Oh. They don’t have that technology yet. Ahem.

Oh. I forgot that I’m also trying my hand at writing comic books, a medium that’s near and dear to my heart. It’s just like writing novels, in that you’re putting words together to make a sentence. Other than that, it’s completely different.

Needless to say that I love writing. And I hope that whenever the novels do make it to the public, they will be received positively, although it would be neat to read a really bad one-star Amazon review.