Conversations: Nathan Sage

When you first meet Nathan Sage, you’re likely to forget which decade you live in. Wearing a crisp suit, perfectly enunciating his words, and expressing thoughts that are so well formed you’d swear he was scripted, his personality is more like that of a character in a Hemingway novel set in 1920’s Paris, than a 20-something living in 2013 Los Angeles.

Mr. Sage leaves you wondering: Is this guy for real?¹

He absolutely is.

And the only reason you’re uncomfortable with it is because, well, you’ve likely never met somebody who seems so comfortable in their own skin. Nathan has a charm and confidence about his personality that seems effortless. His ability to capture a story, whether through word, photo, film or—now—comic book, is uncanny. Whether you’re reading a Facebook post about his very eclectic beagle, Doolittle, watching one of his films, or anticipating the release of his first comic book, The Shepherd, his method of communication always seems to cut through the noise with a truth about life that hits you right in the gut.

I met Nathan Sage at Creative Mornings in, I believe, 2011. Since then, Mr. Sage has become not only a person I respect for his talents and his heart, but a close friend as well—not to mention one of my favorite drunk people (which is saying a lot).

To kick off 2014, I decided that, instead of writing about people on the Internet you’ve already heard of, I’d like to highlight the people that mean the most to me, and ask them questions about what they do, why they do it, and, most importantly, who they are.

So. Nathan Sage, everybody.

What makes a story effective? (Not “good”—effective.)

I’ve considered this question endlessly since you asked it, holding it up to this story and that, because frankly it’s something I’ve never quite put into words myself. When I tell a story, I’m often looking to emphasize the conflict, so that the resolution really feels like a resolution; but there’s conflict in every story–I mean, it’s right there in the Hollywood formula. I think my answer would be something like “shoe-fit-ability.” You know, like how a song you can hum sticks in your heart like a foxtail. Perhaps if the audience can reach out and feel the story, fit their foot in it, that ought to do it.

Who are some of your favorite storytellers, and what makes you appreciate them so much?

Victor Hugo had this ability to tell stories that showed you the grime in people–he wanted you to see their cruelty, their rabid fear, their impossibility for redemption, and then he wanted you to love them. He painted a picture of the world that included the reality of all of its hate and greed, and yet he could poke a little hole in the darkness to let in just enough light.

What makes a fictional character believable? How much did you have to dig into yourself to make Astrid believable in The Shepherd?

You know, my artist Ron pointed out one day that the letters of “Thanacht,” the name of the mythical monster in the story, could easily be rearranged into something very close to “Nathan.” He asked me if there was something about the Thanacht that I related to myself. And I thought “maybe.” But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I associated with the villain of the story, Rul–a man whose singular obsession is his hunt for the Thanacht–who seems to believe that capturing the beast will somehow give his life meaning, or at least confirm what he believes about the world. I think I can understand that delirium. Continue reading “Conversations: Nathan Sage”

Whack-job Du Jour: Obama Talks to Aliens Edition

A birther conspiracy theorist who inaccurately predicted that President Barack Obama would order nuclear attacks on U.S. cities has improbably found a way to top that wild claim. Conservative activist Jim Garrow appeared Monday on Fox News contributor Erik Rush’s radio program, where he claimed that Obama would try to boost his tanking poll numbers by claiming … Continue reading Whack-job Du Jour: Obama Talks to Aliens Edition

Today Life & Thyme released a new film documenting the winemaking process at The Grade Cellars in Napa Valley. As usual, Ben and Antonio knocked it out of the park. Oh, and I tried Grade’s ’09 Cab Sauvignon with Thanksgiving dinner this year. It’s a bit on the pricey side, but absolutely worth it. Click … Continue reading

A person who believes that society should be governed only by laws consistent with his religious faith is not a theocrat if he merely tries to persuade majorities of his case, and restricts himself to constitutional, legal, and nonviolent activity. But this much can nevertheless be said of the new American fundamentalists: they deny the … Continue reading

2013: Read All The Books

“I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.”

—Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’ve always been a reader. For as long as I can remember, I’ve read whatever I can get my hands on. Magazines in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, instruction manuals for new computers, beer and wine labels, dust jackets and, of course, the books themselves. To be honest though, my track record is mixed. Sure, I “read” books but, in the past, it’s been pretty rare that I actually finish them.

You know how it goes: work gets busy, life gets crazy, date nights, friends, and all 25 seasons of The Simpsons are on Hulu, so… you know, d’oh!

Anyway, this year I decided to buck that trend and read two books a month—start to finish. In case you’re bad at math (like me), that’s 24 books total in 2013. As of today, I’ve read 36.

Reading more than my original goal wasn’t intentional. It wasn’t because of some highly regimented schedule or diet (“I only ate organic paper at 5am every morning, and suddenly I was able to focus all the time and I lost weight, ask me how!”), but I was somehow able to make reading an integral part of my daily routine. Part of what made it work, I think, is the fact that I only read certain topics while doing certain things.

For example, in the morning over coffee, I read something spiritual to take my mind off of the immediate and focus on something a bit deeper before I dive into the madness of the day. At the gym, I read business, politics, or psychology on my iPad to focus myself on the work I have to do during the day. And when I’m getting ready for bed on weekdays I usually read history or biography. Fiction is for weekends.

So, it seems my mind somehow subconsciously broke down the kinds of books I read based on the type of thinking I would need to be doing next. Since that was the case, I ended up reading three to four different books per day in addition to anything I read online (I also follow a number of blogs and publications, in addition to subscribing to a few magazines).

It’s exhausting just typing the “schedule” out, but it seems to work pretty well for me, and I know it’s a habit I’ll be carrying into 2014.

Before we jump into the New Year, though—and even if you decide not to follow along—I’d like to walk you through everything I read this year, broken out by genre. I read a lot of good stuff, and I’m sure you’ll be able to find something of interest for yourself in this list.

Full list (along with some brief notes and links to buy—most are Amazon Affiliate, for your information—from me) after the jump.

Happy reading.

Continue reading “2013: Read All The Books”