douglas-watson

Joseph Scapellato Interviews Douglas Watson, author of A MOODY FELLOW FINDS LOVE AND THEN DIES (Outpost19), for HFR

“But on the other hand, if the novel is going to be true to life, it has to retain some of that sense of things not quite adding up—or even not really mattering. Because, again, how important is any one individual’s life story really? It’s very important to that person, and it’s very important to any novel it may be at the center of—but to life in general? To the world? It barely matters at all. In my book, the narrators feel free to remind Moody of that fact. And Moody dies in the prime of life, which is a thing that does happen in the world. Maybe he would have gotten to make his big defining choice if he’d lived into his forties. A fictional story is expected to have a certain kind of arc, but in real life people’s stories get cut short all the time. There is no age at which people don’t die. That is how the world is, and I wanted to put that in the novel. It makes me angry, actually, but what can one do about such things?”

Read the full interview here.

That’s one of the main reasons I write, by the way: to play, to have fun. You’re not really supposed to have fun as an adult, but if you say, “I’m working on a novel,” people furrow their brows and nod and imagine you scaling some great height, without a rope, under a baking sun. And, sure, writing is a little bit like that, but it can also be a little bit like playtime when you were a kid. Kids love to make things up, after all; they’re natural fiction writers. But we can’t pay them to write stories. Child-labor laws forbid it. That’s where adult fiction writers come in.
There was a messenger who was stuck working for a no-good king. That the king was no good had been proved by numerous studies. His intentions may have been good, but results-wise, he was not good. The delivery of kingly services to subject/consumers had grown markedly less efficient since the death of the old king. Also, the new king was not really handsome enough to be a king. He was duke material at best, according to the studies.
—  Douglas Watson, “The Messenger Who Did Not Become a Hero.” I’ve subscribed to One Story for a year, and the latest issue might be my favorite one so far.
Shakespeare Reviews: Julius Caesar (1953)

Besides the Detentionaire Altcasting this is another thing I’m going to be doing. Reviewing Shakespeare movies I have, and I might even review Shakespeare: the Animated Tales. First up is the 1953 film adaptation of Julius Caesar. It stars Louis Calhern from the Marx Brothers’ “Duck Soup” (a comedy musical) as Julius Caesar, Douglas Watson from “Sayonara” (A romantic drama) as Octavius but this was before he reached star status, Marlon Brando as Mark Antony a year before he reached star status in “On the Waterfront” (a crime drama), James Mason as Brutus a year before he reached star status in “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” (A movie that fits under the adventure, drama, fantasy and sci-fi genres) and John Gielgud from the 1936 movie Secret Agent (A movie that fits under comedy, drama mystery, romance and thriller).

We all know the story so I’m not going to bother talking about it. Seeing this movie is like going back to the golden age of movies, it is simply an incredible work of drama and historical fiction and follows Shakespeare to the letter even though it leaves some parts out. The black and white look of the movie is really great and it looks like a work of art like you’re looking at illustrations from a first edition of one of Victor Hugo’s novels. Sure there are some goofs like a bust of Emperor Hadrian in one scene, a person wearing glasses in one scene and there being a chess set in the home of Julius Caesar but besides that the movie is a great epic.

Now lets talk about the stars!

American actor Louis Calhern with his, erect carriage and upturned nose actually does seem to tower like colossus. In fact he’s the tallest of the stars and the fact that he was always playing snobbish and excessively powerful characters helped. Julius Caesar was Consul and Dictator so a life time of playing characters like that really helped. Perhaps the most memorable part of Calherm’s performance is Caesar’s death. After being stabbed to the point that he can just barely walk, he walks over to Brutus, into Brutus’ dagger, and half-whispering, half-breathing says the character’s final lines as a person and not as a ghost. It’s spooky, sad and very powerful.

American actor Douglas Watson is alright as Octavius. There is not much to say about the character because in Shakespeare Octavius doesn’t really shine until “Antony and Cleopatra” but because Watson had fought in WWII seeing him leader Roman soldiers is really interesting. While he’s not the most memorable of the stars Watson gives a good performance.

Marlon Brando as Marc Antony is a real treat. Before this film he had been nicknamed “The Mumbler” because of his bizarrely unique voice with an extreme nasal tonality spoken in mumbles. Well, there was no mumbling here! The funeral speech is mumble free and that scene really proved that Brando was an actor who wasn’t misplaced, that he didn’t belong in b-movies and that this was the right place for an actor like him.

British actor James Mason as Brutus is as always awesome. Mason is simply an awesome actor. His deep, raspy voice really suits Brutus and looked perfectly fine. Why? Because this if for you make-up lovers out there, he REFUSED to where make-up! That was all him, nothing fake about his appearance and his performance is simply the most powerful in the entire movie and when you’re playing the protagonist that is required. All the depth that he would later bring to Captain Nemo, it’s all there! Until Shakespeare, Brutus had been treated as a villain and sometimes still is but Mason portrayed Brutus as the tragic hero who had lost it all and only took his own life so he could avenge the man he killed and to be with his wife and friends once more as well as to avoid being dishonoured as a prisoner. James Mason is one of the all time greats and seeing him go up against Brando, both of them before they were stars is quite a treat.

And now here is the actor who played Cassius: British actor John Gielgud. Gielgud is always a great actor. His career began in 1924 at the age of ten and ended in 2000 when he died. There is nothing I can say about him besides what has already been said by others. Sure he preferred stage acting finding it to be more riveting but he was still an awesome actor either on stage or film he was great. My suggestions are to seem him in action, he was great and should not be forgotten. He’s just one of the greats.

Now what do I think of this movie? Well, it’s not my favourite film adaptation of Julius Caesar but between the two that came out in the 50’s I really like this one better simply because it is has a lot more from the play in here. 

My rating? 8/10. Check it out.

  • "What are you reading?"
  • me:"A Moody Fellow Finds Love And Then Dies. Its about a moody fellow named Moody Fellow who finds love then apparently dies. I haven't gotten that far yet though."
  • "Don't take this the wrong way but that's exactly the kind of book I'd imagine you reading"
  • me:"no, I totally understand."
House Guest with Douglas Watson: Why I Make Fun of Philosophers

In House Guest, we invite Ecotone and Lookout authors, cover artists, and editors from peer presses and magazines to tell us what they’re working on, to discuss themes in their writing or unique publishing challenges, to answer the burning questions they always hoped a reader would ask.

Douglas Watson’s story “New Animal” is reprinted in Astoria to Zion: Twenty-Six Stories of Risk and Abandon from Ecotone’s First Decade

______________________________

I don’t know that much about philosophy, but that doesn’t stop me from poking fun at philosophers in my fiction. Really, though, it’s my younger self I’m making fun of. In 1990 I went off to college figuring I would major in philosophy. What could be better than staying up half the night thinking in a rigorous way about the most important questions? Wasn’t time spent doing anything else—like getting a haircut—ultimately just wasted time? In high school I’d been taken with Plato and the kind of existentialism found in Herman Hesse novels. Throw in a bit of Thoreau and maybe spin “All You Need Is Love” on the turntable and you’ve got the picture.

But a funny thing happened in Philosophy 101, a thing that probably happens to a lot of freshmen who think they’re going to be philosophy majors: I fell out of love with philosophy. Philosophy, it turned out, was difficult and rather dry and quite possibly beside the point. Sure, my new college friends and I stayed up all night talking about the meaning of life, but we weren’t talking about Aristotle. Life, we decided, took place in the world, not just inside our skulls, and the world needed our help right now! The Gulf War was brewing, global warming was happening, and whole societal systems needed to be restructured ASAP if there was to be any chance of something-or-other. Trading the romantic image of myself in a scholar’s study for the romantic image of myself on a barricade, I began skipping classes and protesting the war and listening to the Doors. What I wanted was peace, and when I wanted it was right then.

At length I graduated and got a job. And a haircut.

I devoted myself to other things: environmentalism, the piano, history, fiction, rock ’n’ roll, tennis. Some of these things I have stuck with. Some I have dropped like so many hot potatoes. My having given philosophy the hot-potato treatment must bother me at some level, because philosophy keeps showing up in my fiction—but only so I can take cheap shots at it. David Hume, whose arid reasoning helped drive me away from philosophy, is a favorite target. Van Roost, the protagonist in my story “New Animal,” encounters Hume’s famous proof that it can’t be proved that the sun will rise tomorrow and thinks, “What nonsense!” Kierkegaard, too, ultimately lets Van Roost down. The story closes with Van Roost sitting alone, up half the night, troubled by the vague sense that he is “waiting for something”—a feeling I know quite well.

But perhaps a restless sense that one is forever waiting for something is a good cast of mind for a fiction writer. Like philosophy, fiction writing is a form of thinking. John Gardner would tell me it is the form I trust the most. I can’t make myself believe in some grand search for meaning anymore—as though the mind were Napoleon and truth were there to be won on the battlefield. If Plato was right about the unexamined life, well, okay, then let’s actually examine life, the messy stuff of experience. That messy stuff is what fiction is all about. And—surprise, surprise—the mess looks very different depending on your point of view. Every character has a different take on things, a different set of questions and answers. No one answer is definitively right. That is how life actually is, and that is why fiction is good at understanding life.

Am I worse off for having abandoned philosophy? I don’t know, and I’m probably not going to find out. I still stay up half the night, but it’s usually because I’m lying awake rehearsing the next day’s list of worries. Somehow a fear that the sun won’t come up in the morning never makes the list. Although—wouldn’t it be interesting if it didn’t come up? Sounds like the beginning of a good short story…

Douglas Watson is the author of a book of stories, The Era of Not Quite, and a novel, A Moody Fellow Finds Love and Then Dies. He lives in New York City.

Author photo by Lee Towndrow

Playground Games and Turn 10 discuss the audio design and social aspects of Forza Horizon 2

Playground Games and Turn 10 Studios have discussed the audio design and social aspects of #ForzaHorizon2.

Playground Games and Turn 10 Studios recently discussed the audio design and social aspects of Forza Horizon 2 in two separate interviews with IGN.

The first was with the game’s Audio Director Douglas Watson who explained that the developer began the audio design process by making multiple recordings of various parts of a vehicle.

“From a perspective point of view we usually position four to five…

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With this ring, I thee wed.

Well, make that 6,925 rings.

Elaine Davidson, the world’s most pierced woman, got hitched this week to her longtime beau, Douglas Watson. So you’d think her hubby has gotta be someone as outlandish as Elaine, right? Think again. Douglas Watson is who you’d expect to see working at a bank, or the post office, or in a laboratory. He’s definitely the last person you’d expect to see marrying a woman with 192 piercings on her face alone (click here to see the lucky guy and more wedding photos). But the retired civil servant looks far beyond the metal. “Elaine looked astonishing,” he commented after their wedding ceremony. “People see the piercings, but I see the amazing personality underneath.”

The two met at a coffee shop in Glasgow fifteen years ago and have been together ever since. Elaine, a native of Brazil, now resides in Edinburgh, Scotland. Guinness World Records crowned her the “Most Pierced Woman” in 2000, when she boasted 462 piercings on and inside of her body. She has since upped that number a bit.

Douglas continued, “I am always amazed by the effect her piercings have on people. She’s an incredible woman. People think it’s unconventional, but that is the woman she is and people love her for it.”

I think it’s safe to say - love is truly blind.

Photo above via: The Daily Mail

Moody Fellow
  • "What are you reading?"
  • me:"A Moody Fellow Finds Love And Then Dies. Its about a moody fellow named Moody Fellow who finds love then apparently dies. I haven't gotten that far yet though."
  • "Don't take this the wrong way but that's exactly the kind of book I'd imagine you reading"
  • me:"no, I totally understand."
Friday Lit News Roundup

First we want to send a huge Thank You to everyone who made the Astoria to Zion launch parties possible. The Center for Fiction and Doyle’s Cafe were gracious hosts, our readers were entertaining and enthralling, and we couldn’t have asked for better attendees. 

image via LilyandVal

While we were busy in Boston and New York, Astoria to Zion authors and Ecotone contributors were also busy. And we’ve got some interesting lit news lined up for you so keep reading!

Rebecca Makkai had us rolling with her Ploughshares piece “Writers You Want to Punch in the Face(book).” I think we all know someone like Todd Manley-Krauss.

Benjamin Percy and Daniel Levine chat about Levine’s new book Hyde, martial arts, sleeve tattoos, and college memories. Don’t skip this Brooklyn Rail Q&A between two old friends. 

Would switching to Garamond save the government millions? Some think it might just be too good to be true

Even though college basketball championships are over with, Powell’s bookstore is keeping Poetry Madness going strong. Since last year’s bracket was dominated by women, this year features only female poets. Round 1 is already closed, but get your vote in for Round 2! #readwomen2014

Watch Douglas Watson’s promo video for his new novel A Moody Fellow Finds Love and then Dies.

The Atlantic also has a belated, but interesting, AWP summary

Speaking of amazing women writers, it’s hard to go a day without hearing about Maggie Shipstead. Here’s just a few outlets where people are praising her new novel Astonish Me

The Brooklyn Eagle says the novel is “gorgeously written.”

Bustle talks with Maggie about Astonish Me, ballet, and “Girls.”

Joan Didion reviews Astonish Me for Electric Literature’s blog The Outlet. She writes: “This is a keepsake about motion and longing. This is the imminent agony of a nail underfoot. This is a story about dreams being realized by the dreamer’s runner up. This is the leaden taste of disappointment, the muscle memory ache of not good enough.”

NPR writes of the novel: “It is full of the kind of prose you want to curl up and nest in like a cat: seamless and full of small elegances.”

And don’t miss The Atlantic’s ByHeart series, in which Maggie writes about Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse and “explores the way novels—and writers themselves—manage time.”

Whew! That’s a lot for one week, but great news makes us happy. Do you know what else puts a smile on our face? It’s Friday. Go enjoy your weekend!