To read more Mr. Grieves comic strips, go here.
My Thoughts on Harper Lee's New Book Go Set a Watchman, a Writer's Legacy, and Their Wishes for Their Creative Work
On February 3, 2015, it was announced that Harper Lee, the author of the young adult classic To Kill a Mockingbird, approved the publication of a sequel 55 years after her much-beloved, award-winning, singular novel was published. According to a press release from Harpers (who only communicated through Lee's lawyer and literary agent, not with Lee herself), a manuscript was "discovered" titled Go Set a Watchman attached to an original typed manuscript of To Kill a Mockingbird in storage. Then the frenzy began! "Another book by Harper Lee?!" they mostly said. "I can't wait!" There were also dissenters who said, "Uh, this sounds fishy. Why now?" And I agree. Why now? For one reason only: Money.
You can Google the history of To Kill a Mockingbird and the behavior and quotes attributed to Harper Lee in dealing with the staggering success of her novel in the decades following the initial publication of the book. She never wanted to publish another book and was also attributed in saying that everything she wanted to say--as a writer--was in To Kill a Mockingbird. She was reticent to talk about the themes of the book, claiming everything you needed to know was in the book. In the years following the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird the book as well the release of the award-winning and beloved movie version starring Gregory Peck, Lee certainly could have gone to her publisher and said, "I have another book! It's about Scout and Atticus 20 years later. It'll be a bestseller. I'll rule the literary world!" But she didn't and the reasons she didn't make complete sense to me as a writer.
It easy for me to understand the excitement from readers who love To Kill a Mockingbird and their desire to want to read this newly "discovered" novel. It's an American classic. People love this book. Practically every student in middle school or high school has read this book. It's still in-print and sells over a million copies a year. People wanted more back in the 60s and people still want more now. But as it states here, "Ms. Lee abandoned the manuscript [of Go Set a Watchman] after her editor, who was captivated by the flashbacks to Scout’s childhood, told her to write a new book from the young heroine’s perspective and to set it during her childhood." Lee pulled out the best parts of this manuscript, abandoned it, and wrote another novel. Lee knew it wasn't good enough then and in the years after To Kill a Mockingbird was published.
My Favorite Music, Movies, Books, and More
I love reading positive reviews of music and movies and books and stuff. Since I am a creative person, I find that I have an insatiable appetite for other people's creative work. I'm a music nerd, a movie nerd, a book nerd, an internet nerd, a cooking nerd--I think you get the picture. So, I thought I would recap my favorite things from 2014, things that I loved so much that I plopped down good ol' fashion dollars (and that means a lot considering you can find a lot of this stuff for FREE in the dark corners of the interwebs) or were given as gifts because a loved one plopped their hard-earned money down. Nothing says I love you more to an artist or musician or writer or company than paying for their stuff. There are a ton of "Best of 2014" lists but here's mine and, without further ado, here's all (well, most anyway) the stuff I loved in 2014.
Run the Jewels
Without a doubt, Run the Jewels 2 was my favorite hip hop of 2014, if not my favorite music of all. Endlessly repeatable and fun with great beats, this album pickups immediately where the first Run the Jewels album left off but with better production, better songs, just as skilled rapping, and a fully-formed group identity and persona. El-P and Killer Mike were good rappers before they joined forces but their collaboration brings out the best in both, more swagger and bravado, more humor, more of everything. Killer Mike even knows the power they possess when he says "The gates of hell I'm pugnaciously pacin' / Waitin' / I give a fuck if I'm late, tell Satan be patient / But I ain't here for durations, I'm just taking vacations / And tell him fuck him, I never loved him and salutations." A biblical throw down. Fuck boys, be warned.
My thoughts on suicide, assisted suicide, dignity with death, Robin Williams, Brittany Maynard, and my dad Michael Semegran
I have been thinking about my father a lot lately, more than usual, because of two controversial topics I have read about in the media this past year: suicide and assisted suicide. What initially prompted me to think more about my dad was Robin Williams' suicide on August 11, 2014. Having such a high profile person commit suicide definitely put the spotlight on this topic even though suicides claim the lives of tens of thousands of people every year and is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. (CDC). My father, Michael Semegran, committed suicide on December 4, 2002. He was not a famous person, he was just my dad. Robin Williams and my dad had a LOT in common which was what got me thinking about my dad so much. I'll get to that in a bit; now to assisted suicide. Brittany Maynard committed assisted suicide on November 1, 2014. Maynard was diagnosed with a stage 4 malignant brain tumor. She moved with her family to Oregon so she could legally kill herself with lethal medication prescribed under the Oregon Death with Dignity Act. She definitely put a new face on this topic since she was young and attractive and very vocal on social media about her path to death with dignity. What is the difference between a family member who commits suicide and a family member who commits assisted suicide? There is a very fine line between dignity and shame on the way to the same end, apparently. I find that to be very strange and perplexing and hurtful.
When Robin Williams committed suicide, I was shocked--if only for a few minutes--and it seemed the world was shocked as well. How could someone so universally loved and admired do such a thing as commit suicide? By all accounts, he was a very successful and brilliant man, actor, and comedian. He starred in several universally acclaimed movies such as Good Morning, Vietnam, Dead Poets Society, Awakenings, The Fisher King, Aladdin, and Good Will Hunting. He was a unique stand-up comedian who intimidated his contemporaries, many considered great in their own right. He earned an Oscar, two Emmy Awards, six Golden Globe Awards, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and five Grammy Awards. And he made millions of dollars doing all of this. My father was also brilliant and successful although on a different, more down-to-earth scale. He earned both Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Industrial Engineering. He had a decorated, 25-year career in the Air Force leading a team programming computer software. He was called a genius by his commanders and way ahead of his time. He retired from the Air Force and made six figures working as the Director of Tech Support at Ashton-Tate, one of the "Big Three" software companies of the 1980s, which included Microsoft and Lotus. By all measures, both my dad and Robin Williams were successful men and geniuses.
My name is Scott Semegran and I live in Austin, Texas. I graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in English. I'm a writer, a cartoonist, and a webmaster. I am a Kindle bestselling author. I can also bend metal with my mind and run really fast, if chased by a pack of wolves. This web site is here to entertain you with my fiction work, blog, comic strips, and cartoons. I hope you enjoy my creative work.
If you like novels, then look for The Meteoric Rise of Simon Burchwood. On his way to New York to celebrate his impending literary success, Simon Burchwood is the prototypical American careerist. But a quick detour to Montgomery, Alabama to visit a childhood friend sends Simon on a bizarre journey, challenging his hopes and dreams of becoming a famous writer. This is a character study that delves into the psyche of a man who desperately tries to redefine himself. Is Simon pompous? Yes. A jerk? Yes. Will you like him? Absolutely! "The book is told entirely from Simon’s viewpoint. Simon is not a very likable guy; as a matter of fact, he is a self-centered, pompous jerk. But for some reason, it’s pretty fun to be inside his head, mainly because he is an inadvertent, oblivious jerk... you will learn Simon’s views on smoking, cleanliness and going to the bathroom, just to name a few. There were times that I laughed out loud... A very good novel that was humorous throughout." 4 and 1/2 Stars - Red Adept Reviews. The Meteoric Rise of Simon Burchwood is available through Lulu.com and Amazon.com in paperback, as well as various eBook retailers. Check out my Books page for links to buy and download my novel or search for it in your eReader's book store. This novel was inducted into the Indie eBook Hall of Fame and also named one of the "5 Best Summer Indie Beach Reads" by the Huffington Post.