The Write Stuff: George Albon on Being Willing to Sound like the Crankiest Crank

The Write Stuff is a series of interview profiles conducted by Litseen, where authors give exclusive readings from their work.

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Dennis Moribe
A San Francisco resident, George Albon's most recent books are Fire Break (Nightboat Books, winner of the NCIBA Award for Best Poetry book of 2013) and Aspiration (Omnidawn), both from 2013. Earlier books include Brief Capital of Disturbances (Omnidawn, 2003), Step (Post-Apollo, 2006), and Momentary Songs: They That Are Delivered From the Noise of the Archers (Krupskaya, 2008). He's had work in Hambone, Zyzzyva, New American Writing, Talisman, Try, and elsewhere. His essay "The Paradise of Meaning" was the George Oppen Memorial Lecture for 2002.

When people ask what do you do, you tell them... ?

I usually just mention my day job.

What's your biggest struggle -- work or otherwise?

Finding days to write.

If someone said I want to do what you do, what advice would you have for them?

Never stop learning and questioning. It's an endless discipline. Also, chuck the TV.

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Smells Like Teen Spirit: Q&A with Teenage Director Matt Wolf

Categories: Film, Interview

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Courtesy of Oscilloscope Laboratories
Still image from Teenage

It's hard to imagine that there was ever a time when teenagers weren't the center of the universe.

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"The Sandman" Speaks: Neil Gaiman and Mike Dringenberg on the Glories of Their Graphic Novel

Categories: Art, Interview

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Courtesy of the Cartoon Art Museum
The Cartoon Art Museum's exhibit, "Grains of Sand: 25 Years of The Sandman," celebrates Neil Gaiman's comic-book series like never before. For the first time, original proofs of pre-publication pages are on display alongside original art from the series, which is considered one of the most important graphic novels ever published.

The exhibit runs through April 27, and when it opened, SF Weekly spoke face-to-face with Gaiman and, by email, with artist Mike Dringenberg, who drew many of the early Sandman issues. Here are excerpts from those interviews:

Q for Neil Gaiman: As you look back at the series, how does it stand out for you in terms of innovation, style of art, and other ways?

A: What really stands out for me is just the fact that, somehow, we managed to hit a level of quality that, with some ups and downs, we maintained over seven-and-a-half years. And we never did what people expected. It's amazing just walking through here, it's like traveling in time -- seeing the original art, which I had never really seen. For Sandman 1, watching what that evolved into. Watching Mike Dringenberg come into his own. By the time we get over here, we're into Stan Woch, and ink by Dick Giordano. We're into Bryan Talbot, ink by Stan Woch. And it's so interesting. Sometimes a rather wonderful thing that happens with original art -- it wasn't actually created to last through time. He was using essentially a marker. It's 20 years, and it's faded. Twenty-two years ago. It adds a strange color to it that was not there in the original.


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Shake Your Groove Thing: Q&A with the GodFather of Skate, Church of 8 Wheels Founder

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Shutterstock/Carlos Caetano

Fact: Heaven is a place on earth and it's conveniently located at the corner of Fillmore and Fell Streets at the Church of 8 Wheels.

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The Write Stuff: Rob Rosen on Falling in Love Repeatedly and Often

The Write Stuff is a series of interview profiles conducted by Litseen, where authors give exclusive readings from their work.

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Ken Blackwell
Rob Rosen, award-winning author of the novels Sparkle: The Queerest Book You'll Ever Love, Divas Las Vegas, Hot Lava, Southern Fried, Queerwolf, Vamp, and Queens of the Apocalypse, and editor of the anthologies Lust in Time, Men of the Manor, and Best Gay Erotica 2015, has had short stories featured in more than 200 anthologies.

When people ask what do you do, you tell them... ?

I'm a writer, I answer, proudly and with a broad smile on my face.

What's your biggest struggle -- work or otherwise?

I have a 9-5 job, and a 5-9 job as well, my writing being the latter. I wish there were more hours in the day to be able to get on paper all the stories swirling around inside my twisted, little brain.

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Translation, Best Friends, Greek Politics and Free Wine and Beer

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Open Letters Books. Credit: Nathan Furl.
How I Killed My Best Friend

Amanda Michalopoulou, one of Greece's leading authors, has written short stories, a children's series, and five other novels, along with her latest, How I Killed My Best Friend. And she'll be at The Book Club of California this Friday, doing a reading followed by a conversation with her translator, Karen Emmerich about this latest book, which Gary Shteyngart (author of Super Sad True Love Story and the memoir Little Failure,) called " flawlessly translated." He went on to say she uses the backdrop of "Greek politics, radical protests, and the art world to explore the dangers and joys that come with BFFs. Or, as the narrator puts it, 'odiodsamato,' which translates roughly as 'frienemies.'"

In How I Killed My Best Friend, Michalopoulou writes about, Maria, an African immigrant to Greece, who becomes friends with Anna, a transplant from Paris. The two girls navigate grade school in the '70s, in post-dictatorship Greece.

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The Write Stuff: Matthew Zapruder on Language When It Starts to Get Liberated

The Write Stuff is a series of interview profiles conducted by Litseen, where authors give exclusive readings from their work.

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Meghan Dewar
Matthew Zapruder is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Come On All You Ghosts (Copper Canyon 2010), a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and Sun Bear (Copper Canyon 2014). An assistant professor in the St. Mary's College of California MFA program and English department, he is also an editor at Wave Books. He lives in Oakland. See him read at City Lights Bookstore on Tuesday, April 15.

When people ask what do you do, you tell them... ?

If in their eyes I detect the usual understandable flicker of disinterest about the conversation, in order to let us both go on our peaceful separate ways, I say "English professor." If for some reason they seem to really want to talk, I will say "poet." More often than not something weird happens after that.

What's your biggest struggle -- work or otherwise?

My own distraction.

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The Write Stuff: SB Stokes on Re-testing Desire Through the Work You Produce

The Write Stuff is a series of interview profiles conducted by Litseen, where authors give exclusive readings from their work.

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Ian Tuttle
SB Stokes' first book of poetry, A History of Broken Love Things, is out now from Punk Hostage Press. He has produced the blog MASS COMMUNICATIONS since 2004 and also can be found on YouTube and Tumblr. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University and is a founder, event producer and art director for Oakland's free, annual literary event, Beast Crawl, which happens Saturday, July 12 this year.

When people ask what do you do, you tell them... ?

"I'm a bouncer" is my first answer normally, but it depends on the environment and who is asking. If they care about literature or poetry, I'll tell them I write poems and tell them about my book, ask them if they've heard of Beast Crawl. If they're looking for design help, I'll tell them about my editing and designing and art directing skills. Sometimes I'll offer to read them a poem or two, but it really depends on who's asking and where we are at that time.

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The Write Stuff: Shannon Bowen on Taking Charge of Your Story

The Write Stuff is a series of interview profiles conducted by Litseen, where authors give exclusive readings from their work.

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Nathaneal Trimboli
Shannon Bowen is a screenwriter inspired to write strong female characters who (shockingly) have loyal lady friends, because she has been lucky enough to be surrounded by badass women all of her life. You can watch the first two episodes of her web series Cost of Living (about struggling to afford a city that no one can afford) and join the Kickstarter to help film the remaining episodes. She is the co-author of two feature-length scripts, and she analyzes "Downton Abbey" from a funny, feminist, foul-mouthed perspective on her podcast Downton Gabby. Follow all of her crazy adventures on Twitter @LittleLadyBrain

When people ask what do you do, you tell them... ?

I write a fictionalized version of the truth. There are real stories from my life incorporated into each script that I write. Yes, I did accidentally throw away all of my clothes in a dumpster once.

What's your biggest struggle -- work or otherwise?

Balance. Time. Not freaking out about my horoscope.

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Cesar Chavez Film from Diego Luna Hits Theaters Just in Time for Cesar Chavez Day

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Pantelion Films
Diego Luna directs "Cesar Chavez"

Actor and director Diego Luna's first introduction to Cesar Chavez was seeing the union activist's funeral on T.V. The 13-year-old Luna was impressed by all the people walking with his body and that Chavez was being buried in a wooden box. Then while working in California, Luna started seeing Chavez's image on murals and his name on streets and got curious about what Chavez had done. When Luna's son was born in Los Angeles, that really made him want to tell the story of Chavez, a Mexican American born in Arizona. Luna says he remembers when he got to be 9 or 10, noticing the income inequality in Mexico and struggling to make sense of things.

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