Tag Archives | Scott Holleran

The Blog at Eight

What began as an informal forum for my thoughts on movies, culture and ideas remains so eight years later.

These have been turbulent years. Weeks after the first post on July 20, 2008, the U.S. economy faltered in a historic plunge from which it hasn’t really recovered. The nation has been unceasingly attacked by Islamic terrorists. I lost a friend to suicide—another national trend indicating a downward spiral—following Obama’s re-election in 2012. Posts about coarseness and cynicism, military suicides, top generals being fired, Iraq, Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia’s connection to 9/11 highlighted or reported new information and analysis about the West’s decline, examining the ominous rise of Islamic barbarism and American statism.

Taliesin (C) Scott Holleran 2013 All rights reserved.

Taliesin (C) Scott Holleran 2013 All rights reserved.

I have also written about the good, whether visiting Starbucks on a Monday, seeing sculptures in central Florida, visiting Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin in Wisconsin, Taliesin West in Arizona or his Hollyhock house in Los Angeles and Wright houses in Illinois, posting the first review of Olivia Newton-John’s headlining show in Las Vegas, OCON in Chicago, Christmastime in the Southwest or interviewing top artists about new works. I’ve praised TV shows, apps, movies, products and books and a kiss during a North American riot.

Subjects include everything from discourse on race and religion to Steve Jobs, Ayn Rand and Aristotle. I’ve looked back at Brokeback Mountain, critiqued The Sound of Music, examined ebola virus and I was among the first to herald Edward Snowden as a hero. I’ve denounced Duck Dynasty‘s patriarch, Hillary Clinton and, pointing out his causal relations to today’s sensationalistic media, Donald Trump. I have warned against censorship and dictatorship. I’ve remembered Robin Williams, Lizabeth Scott, David Bowie, Katharine Hepburn and Neil Armstrong.

Mostly, I aim to stimulate the reader to think, whether about the deaths of unarmed Americans, playing football, Johnny Carson, the homeless, creating a new album, making movies or writing a book.

I aspire to objective communication, though I know I make mistakes. I am grateful for the reader’s backup. My blog is my forum; it’s both advertising for my work and activism for realizing the ideal in a troubled world. Exceeding my expectations, posts and archived articles are now cited, referenced or reprinted in forums, books and articles and linked by grade schools, colleges and universities, Wikipedia, Rolling Stone, Salon, Turner Classic Movies and the New York Times. I hear about what I write from businessmen, students, activists, scholars, artists and readers across the world.

As I enter a new phase, I plan to post less frequently, remove older posts and publish an index on site of interviews, articles and citations. Certain posts may be archived and appear in a future format or edition. Even as I clear the way for new posts, I plan to keep adding previously published articles to my writings archive. Readers that typically browse the blog should visit those pages for other articles of interest.

WritingBootcampThe blog is a springboard. Besides my variety of communication roles, including social media management, marketing and branding, I write and edit on assignment and work for hire. Essentially, I write stories. As a freelance writer, on a limited basis, I help in these and other endeavors (read about my method). I investigate or engage enterprises, partnerships and opportunities as well. Some fail, some flourish. Others I am not at liberty to disclose. Besides the blog, I write everything from business plans, social media and startup websites to speeches, screenplays and manuscripts. Projects may stall, restart or slowly make progress. I also teach communication courses and workshops in metropolitan Los Angeles (subscribe to my newsletter for updates). My passion continues to be enlightening the world through stories about man, large and small, real and imagined.

If you read my blog, let me know what you think. I appreciate criticism and correction. I am also happy to help but only if I think I’m qualified and think I can add value (contact me).

Finally, a note about specific requests and readership: I welcome support, whether a note on what you’ve read and appreciate, disagreement or a suggestion. Occasionally, I receive unsolicited invitations, review copies and gifts, whether as an e-book, book, Amazon or iTunes gift card or PayPal donation, which I neither solicit nor expect but, like other commercial-free blogs and independent content sources, appreciate and accept. I’m also grateful for liked, shared and linked posts, especially if rendered with a comment. Each of these are a means of supporting this blog and this writer.

Scott Holleran WriterIf you have something you want me to know about or review—i.e., a book, movie or recording—it is best to inquire and, if I’m able to accept it, please send the item with acceptance of the fact that whether I write about it is at my discretion. Or ask a publicist to contact me to send a review copy. Please know that I give preference to material created and solicited by the individual. Please also know that I am often inundated with material so I am not always able to respond, let alone consider everything. Include a telephone number for faster response. I want readers to know that, while I discriminate, I welcome new material. I take each opportunity to explore work seriously and I strive to find the good in a movie, song or book. With rare exception, I review that which I think I have a reason to like and enjoy.

These have been eight exciting years and I gain value from writing the ‘web log’. So, may you gain value from reading it. Cheers.

Spring Books and Movies and a New Summer Course

Enrollment in my writing course for adults doubled this semester, so I’ve been invited to teach a summer course. The weekly Thursday night class in general writing begins in June and runs through mid-July. I also teach a summer course on social media.

I will add summer registration links. In the meantime, both courses this spring have been enhanced to include new readings, demonstrations and material. In the writing course, I’ve incorporated study of writings by Rudyard Kipling, Shirley Jackson, William Ernest Henley, Ray Bradbury and O. Henry. Students read their work aloud in class this week and next week’s class features a lesson on resources, including books about writing based on lectures by my favorite writer, Ayn Rand, who wrote bestselling fiction and non-fiction for stage, screen, print, broadcasting and literature. Rand additionally wrote for journals, newspapers and for certain editions of books by Leonard Peikoff and Victor Hugo.

BurbankAdultSchoolAyn Rand’s lectures on writing were adapted for two outstanding volumes, The Art of Fiction and The Art of Non-Fiction. For motivation, I suggest reading screenwriter Brian Koppelman’s 202 Practical Writing Tips, which are excellent. Proper writing practices are also addressed in All About Social Media, which offers an essential guide to creating, using and maximizing Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn (contact me if you have any questions). These general courses are for personal enrichment and students represent a range of personal and professional interests. This semester includes the usual mixture of musicians, actors, writers and entrepreneurs and also an engineer, an attorney, a chiropractor and a studio executive, so the environment is relaxed, studious and inclusive. Classrooms have free wifi and courses include my visual presentations. The campus is located near Bob Hope Airport.

This spring’s Festival of Books at University of Southern California’s campus is on my agenda this week and, later this month, I plan to attend an event in Santa Monica featuring Objectivist co-author Don Watkins on his new book. I’m reading a novel by the late John O’Hara that Robert Benton recommended to me and I look forward to reading a new book by Georgetown University scholar Randy Barnett on the Constitution (for HarperCollins with a foreword by George Will). I finished filmmaker Mike Binder‘s exciting first novel, a political thriller set in London (for Macmillan’s Henry Holt and Company). I plan to post a review.

Besides my contract work, I’m entering stories in competitions and studying, developing and exploring new projects, which takes time. I plan to return to Turner Classic Movies’ Classic Film Festival in Hollywood this month for new insights and interviews on motion pictures. I’ve recently enjoyed several movies with good scripts—Zootopia‘s the best film in theaters and I recommend the new movie about Hank Williams, I Saw the Light, Jean-Marc Vallee’s Demolition (expanding soon) and The Weinstein Company’s wonderful musically-themed 80s film Sing Street, opening soon—and I look forward to the new Jungle Book picture by Jon Favreau based on Kipling’s tales. A sneak preview I saw at Disneyland last week looks terrific.

Capitalism on Chicagoland’s North Shore

Spending my youth in the suburbs north of Chicago often made me curious about its origins. There were exotic American Indian names, mysterious trails, woods and tales of corruption, scandal and murder amid the lush, green bluffs and flat, fertile soil, not to mention the lakefront, the railroad and the industry. I know I’m scratching the surface, but I’m enjoying writing about the towns, villages and enclaves north of Chicago in a newspaper history series I conceived and developed with my editor, David Sweet, earlier this year.

The theme is capitalism—the entrepreneurial spirit—on Chicagoland’s North Shore.

Glencoe, Illinois waiting station designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

Talking with local and regional historians, curators and scholars, my research yields new takes on local myths and legends, facts about iconic names, dates and places and, above all, clarity about the men who forged new paths, pioneered Northern Illinois, fought for the Union during the Civil War and settled some of the nation’s most creative, productive and wealthiest towns. These men were largely men of vision and reason and they were farmers, frontiersmen, traders, industrialists and, mostly, individualists. Telling their stories, including notorious facts in the history of these towns, is more rewarding than I had thought possible when I first offered to write the articles.

These front page and cover story articles, which include bits on America’s first recorded serial killer, the only bridge ever designed and built by Frank Lloyd Wright and the invention of Christmas bubble lights, Girl Scout cookies and Frenchmens’, Indians’ and religionists’ plans for the area near and along Lake Michigan north of Chicago, are currently available online for free. Read about Glenview, Wilmette and Glencoe. Know that there are more stories to come.


Related

Murder in Kenilworth

Feature: Teen Depression and Suicide on Chicago’s North Shore

Sheridan Road: My First Intellectual Activism

Sheridan Road: Former State Senator Roger Keats

Sheridan Road: Interview with Kathryn Cameron Porter

Defending Bob Hope

BobHopeAirportAfter I read that the local government is considering removing Bob Hope’s name from Burbank’s Bob Hope Airport, I wrote an op-ed for the local newspaper (read my article here). My theme is that Bob Hope Airport is a name that honors the city, the man and the airport. Citing history, I explain that each has similarly capitalist origins which ought to be properly named, recognized and revered. My article caught the attention of a local news producer for an L.A. NBC News affiliate, who wanted to interview me for the evening telecast, though I was unable to do so. But I’m glad the op-ed was noticed and I hope that my activism helps Bob Hope Airport retain its rightful name.

New Writing Course

I am pleased to announce that I plan to offer a complete, new writing course covering all formats. Students will learn how to prepare for writing as an exercise, how to build, write and edit the piece, and how to write with the audience in mind. Each student will have an opportunity to have his writing evaluated. The 10-session series for general adult education starts this fall in southern California.

In the meantime, I am grateful to receive this endorsement from a movie producer who enrolled in one of my courses and attended several of my workshops:

Scott Holleran is the best instructor in his field in the Southland. He is also incredibly talented as a writer and blogger. He has one of the sharpest minds I have encountered anywhere. He is brilliant and creative and very skilled in all facets of communications, journalism and adult education. His instruction has had a tremendously positive impact on my life.”

All About Social Media is already in progress as a 6-week course covering proper social media management including instruction in creating campaigns. Registration for this course is open (a few seats are available in the class), so feel free to call (818) 558-4611 to attend. The Los Angeles-based course is also offered this fall.

Burbank Public Library

Burbank Public Library

I’m giving a writing workshop this summer sponsored by Burbank Public Library. Admission is free. The one-hour presentation at 7 PM on Thursday, August 6 in downtown Burbank includes visual storytelling slides. It’s part of the library’s Every Hero has a Story series. The storytelling class is open to the public, so feel free to attend.

Private individual and group instruction is also available if you’re not able to attend class in L.A. Contact me for details.