VV Journal by Q.V. Hough

Vague Visages Journal

VV Journal is a free-to-read creative space by Q.V. Hough.

Fargo AirSho, New Comedy Columns and Recommended Reading 

Fargo AirSho

July 23,  2021

Fargo, North Dakota

8:05 PM CST

Tomorrow, I’ll be attending the Fargo AirSho with my father, a Cessna pilot who has flown me around Minnesota over the past 15 years. We’ve traveled from Duluth to Moorhead during the bitter cold, and we’ve landed on numerous bodies of water in the lake country. It’s been a couple years since my last AirSho experience, so it will be fun to hang with the fam and visit with some high school/college pals. Here’s a photo of my dad and his plane:

In the near future, I’ll be introducing two comedy-themed columns at Vague Visages. “RetroSet” will focus on 20th century stand-up comedy acts, with the first title being George Carlin: You Are All Diseased. I’ll break down the overall subject material but won’t be looking to cancel anybody for zingers from decades past. Instead, I’ll be looking for insight about stage polish and joke execution. The second comedy-themed column (title TBA) will be dedicated entirely to Saturday Night Live sketches. To begin, I’ll provide some observations on “Breaking Into the Central Park Zoo Polar Bear Cage” and “Massive Head Wound Harry.” Watch the clips below:

Lastly, before I dive back into The Sopranos season 4, here’s some recommended reading for July 23, 2021 — an essay about the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, who would’ve been 54 years old today.

Stay, little Valentine: Philip Seymour Hoffman, 1967-2014 (via RogerEbert.com)

“The compassion that appeared in a Hoffman character’s eyes when some other character was pissing on him: was it an authentic if counterintuitive emotional reaction, or a strategic ruse setting the aggressor up for retaliation, or the byproduct of some mysterious self-hatred? You could never be sure, just as you can never be sure why your complicated, infuriating friends say or do things, or why you do or say things.” — Matt Zoller Seitz

Q.V. Hough
Founding Editor, Vague Visages
@QVHough (Twitter/Instagram)
@vaguevisages (Twitter/Instagram)
qvh@vaguevisages.com

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Western Writing, Italian Experiences and Zane Grey Phrasing to Avoid

Q.V. Hough

July 19,  2021

Fargo, North Dakota

6:21 PM CST

Between May and June 2021, I bought approximately 30 Western-themed novels at a Detroit Lakes, Minnesota thrift store. The goal: to better understand the narrative structures and styles of genre writers from the past. For example, Louis L’Amour’s Kilrone (1966) tells me that the author understood how to communicate the logistics of military operations, but also that he didn’t necessarily prioritize character development. In the opening chapters of Zane Grey’s Wyoming (1932), I can tell that the author values the inner spirit of his characters — where they came from and what makes them especially unique — but also that he frequently uses the term “ejaculated” in place of the more traditional “said” or “stated.” To paraphrase as an example: “Sally ejaculated that she’s trying to get to her uncle’s farm in Belle Fourche.” No, Zane, no. Of course, I need to get through several more tales before making a definite judgment about the respective authors and their creative approaches.

I have several creative concepts outlined for a Western-themed book or novel series. There’s a lead protagonist in place, a Spaghetti Western figure who was inspired by my experiences traveling Southern Italy. In October 2009, I visited the hometowns of my ancestors outside Naples (Solofra and Avellino) but didn’t quite accomplish my mission (a long story to be written about later). By June 2012, I returned to the region (for a months-long experience) and helped a woman from Northern Ireland find her ancestors, just down the road from Solofra and Avellino (another long and complicated story). In my mind, there’s a potential novel character who grew up in Southern Italy and eventually traveled to North Dakota. When and why? That’s what I’m trying to figure out by reading through several Western books.

What I’ve discovered is that I can learn from L’Amour’s knack for logistics when applying my Italian travel experiences to characters. I know about the pros and cons of cheap hostels in the Naples area, specifically by the train station and port. I know what it’s like to randomly travel throughout the Campania countryside and why it’s not a good idea to wait for a Saturday afternoon train in Solofra. I know what’s it’s like to spend a couple months working on organic farms in Southern Italy, from Ischia all the way to Puglia. These experiences will be utilized when writing about my novel protagonist and his experiences, both in Italy and North Dakota. My ancestors came from the Italian country and moved to Philadelphia and Las Vegas. My Italian-American grandmother moved from San Bernardino, California to Barnesville, Minnesota and never knew her father, a native Italian who was deported and seemingly disappeared from our family tree. My brother, the great-grandson of an Italian immigrant, is a real-life Minnesota fur trapper. So, when I put on a Western cowboy hat (see the photo above), a lot of ideas run through my mind. Moving forward, I need to work through the specifics and decide if I want to incorporate other genres, such as science fiction and/or pulp fiction.

Q.V. Hough
Founding Editor, Vague Visages
@QVHough (Twitter/Instagram)
@vaguevisages (Twitter/Instagram)
qvh@vaguevisages.com

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Why Criticism: A Call for Pitches

François Truffaut

July 8, 2021

Fargo, North Dakota

5:15 PM CST

It’s a fascinating time for film criticism. New voices have emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic, and there’s plenty to discuss about the industry. Moving forward, I’d like to publish a couple essays per month for Vague Visages’ “Why Criticism” column, originally started in 2016 by Justine Peres Smith and re-booted in 2020. Over the years, the column pitches from regular contributors have been outstanding. If there’s a film criticism topic that you need to write about, then please let me know and we’ll go from there.

Q.V. Hough
Founding Editor, Vague Visages
@QVHough (Twitter/Instagram)
@vaguevisages (Twitter/Instagram)
qvh@vaguevisages.com

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Athens, Greece and Independence Day

Athens, Greece

Photo by Q.V. Hough (June 25, 2012; Athens, Greece)

July 7, 2021

Fargo, North Dakota

8:07 PM CST

Nine years ago, I stood across from Chandra Morales in a Mediterranean park and stated “I just want to write… and get paid.” We had just visited three Greek islands — Santorini, Paros and Naxos — and would soon return to Athens, specifically Omonia Station, where I had been robbed and knifed one week before.

Independence Day 2012 changed my life forever. On that Wednesday, I decided to forget about what I had lost — a MacBook Pro and a journal detailing my experiences on organic farms during the previous six weeks — and instead focus on the future. What happens next? First of all, I needed a new passport, which I surprisingly acquired in about 90 minutes the following morning at the U.S. Embassy in Athens. I also needed to figure out if I wanted to continue living in Hollywood, California, where I had spent the last six years of my life working as a production assistant and production manager, before suddenly losing my job in February 2012 and then signing up for WWOOF Italia, or World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms in Italy. Lastly, I needed to accept that leaving Los Angeles — a city that had become my home — would be extremely difficult, especially when considering that I would likely be re-locating to the Fargo-Moorhead area, about 25 miles from where I grew up in Barnesville, Minnesota.

In October 2012, after attending AFI Fest in my Hollywood neighborhood, I left my apartment on Sycamore Avenue and drove back to Fargo with my father, John (J.V.) Hough. Of course, I didn’t have my lost writings from the Italian-Greek experience; however, I did have several leather journals that I had been writing in daily since graduating from Concordia College (Moorhead, Minnesota) in May 2004.

For nearly the past decade, I have spent most of my time writing for pay from a South Fargo apartment. I went through a dark period in late 2012/early 2013; a time when I didn’t know how to start anew. I had quit journaling and needed to sort through some feelings about the past. Fortunately, I had family members nearby who provided support and helped me re-imagine the future. By 2014, I envisioned a new creative outlet; a place that reflected a revised outlook during my early thirties — Vague Visages. Now, in July 2021, it’s time to pick up where I left off with my journal writing. In this digital space, I will provide daily (or weekly) thoughts about my life and experiences.

Q.V. Hough
Founding Editor, Vague Visages
@QVHough (Twitter/Instagram)
@vaguevisages (Twitter/Instagram)
qvh@vaguevisages.com

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