Thursday, June 29, 2023

Grab some southern noir, Beau says


This week, Beau Johnson takes a look at Mark Westmoreland's A Violent Gospel.


If there’s a bad idea in Tugalo County, chances are that Mack and Marshall Dooley are behind it. When the brothers heist a snake-handling church’s money-laundering operation, things go south in a hurry.

This part of the north Georgia hills ain’t much, just hardscrabble folks trying to get by. It’s the perfect place to wash a load of cash — and an even better place to make your enemies disappear.

When Mack goes missing, Marshall cuts a deal with a local crime boss to rescue his brother. Navigating a storm of wild women and a literal nest of vipers, the Dooleys can’t trust anyone other than themselves to get out of the mess they’ve made.


“Let me be the first to sing A Violent Gospel‘s praises. Mark Westmoreland’s debut is the literary equivalent of The Dukes of Hazzard driving onto the set of Elmore Leonard’s Justified. This book is filled with folks who know right from wrong but don’t like boring.”
—David Tromblay, author of As You Were and Sangre Road

“Mark Westmoreland’s A Violent Gospel is a down-n-dirty, rough-n-tumble romp where no punches are pulled and Old Testament justice is the law of the land.”
—Steph Post, author of Lightwood and Miraculum

“In A Violent Gospel, Mark Westmoreland stakes his claim as a powerful voice in the Neo-Southern Gothic Movement. Equal parts Flannery O’Connor, Harry Crews with a smidge of Gator era Burt Reynolds, A Violent Gospel is a visceral slice of existential cornbread.”
—New York Times bestseller S.A. Cosby, author of Blacktop Wasteland and Razorblade Tears

“This book is rural crime fiction at its best. A bullet read that gets right down to the dark and dirty point. Westmoreland’s ability to play in the gray area between darkness and light is spot on word candy that is perfectly suited to the title of A Violent Gospel. Look out for this guy. He’s going to listed with Daniel Woodrell and Tom Franklin in no time.”
—Brian Panowich, author of Bull Mountain and Hard Cash Valley

“A Violent Gospel is one rollicking old testament ass whoopin’ of a debut. Westmoreland is an exciting new voice in southern noir, delivering 100 Proof Hellbilly Pulp and I can’t wait for more.”
—Peter Farris, author of Last Call for the Living and The Clay Eaters

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Stop Comparing Your Writing

Scott D. Parker

You ever compare your writing with other writers? Of course you do. We all do. It’s human nature to compare, but it can only lead downhill.

I caught myself this week comparing my writing with the writing of other authors and I had to slam that door.

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned I’m listening to T.J. Newman’s Drowning and its harrowing story of a plane that ditched in the Pacific just after takeoff and the desperate attempts to rescue the people trapped inside. (Yeah, it was weird this week to be reading this book while following the tragic news of the Titan sub.) Newman has a way of just barreling you through the story that I love.

Meanwhile, a new-to-me author’s new book, Charm City Rocks, landed in my inbox from the public library. It is the latest by Matthew Norman and its premise intrigued me. A single dad of a record store meets his former rock star crush as accidentally arranged by his teenaged son.

At lunch on Wednesday, after I had done my own writing, I opened the book to see what it was like. One chapter in, I was hooked. By Friday, I was up to chapter 13. The prose flowed so well, it felt effortless. Heck, I even laughed out loud at a few spots.

And then I read my own stuff again, picking back up where I left off. It just didn’t have that same flow. It was MY flow and it’s MY style, but I started doubting myself, so much so that I opted to write less on Thursday and read more.

Big mistake.

I slapped my own knuckles when these thoughts started injecting themselves in my brain. Every writer is different. Every artist is different. Everyone has their own style. Similar styles can exist, but we’re all still individuals.

Comparisonitis. It’s a dangerous thing.

How do you combat it?

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Beau returns

This week, Beau recommends The Devil Takes You Home by Gabino Iglesias, which just won the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Novel.

Buried in debt due to his young daughter’s illness, his marriage at the brink, Mario reluctantly takes a job as a hitman, surprising himself with his proclivity for violence. After tragedy destroys the life he knew, Mario agrees to one final job: hijack a cartel’s cash shipment before it reaches Mexico. Along with an old friend and a cartel-insider named Juanca, Mario sets off on the near-suicidal mission, which will leave him with either a cool $200,000 or a bullet in the skull. But the path to reward or ruin is never as straight as it seems. As the three complicated men travel through the endless landscape of Texas, across the border and back, their hidden motivations are laid bare alongside nightmarish encounters that defy explanation. One thing is certain: even if Mario makes it out alive, he won’t return the same. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

STEALING PARADISE - A Cover Reveal and Conversation with Curtis Ippolito

The Grifter's Song series is awesome. 

The recipe, taking some of the best crime writers working today, from up and comers to heavyweight stars, give them a word count range that could go between a long short story to a full on short novel, set each in a different place, and then let the writers go with two of the most interesting, complicated, ripoff-artists the genre has ever seen, as they pull a new con in each entry; whats not to love? 

I've been blessed to have my own work featured in the series, in my short novel, THE LOW WHITE PLAIN, but I've been even more blessed to read so many entries written by my friends. S.A. Cosby (you might have heard of him, James D.F. Hannah, Holly West, Nick, Nick Kolakowski, and now, Curtis Ippolito. 

Curtis, the writer of BURYING THE NEWSPAPER MAN, and an Anthony Nominated Short Story writer, joins The Grifters Song saga with a fantastic entry, STEALING PARADISE. I read it in a single sitting, and I am not kidding you when I tell you that it's exactly what you're gonna be craving when it drops in the dead of summer. It's perfect pool-side reading. You can hear the waves in the pages. 

Always cool, Curtis and I stayed up late last night, texting about the book, the responsibility of taking on an entry in the Grifters Song series, and San Diego. We'll get to that below, but first, let's check out the back cover copy of STEALING PARADISE, and then the cover! 

Sam and Rachel are taking a much-needed and deserved break in America's Finest City—San Diego. Staying at the legendary Hotel Del on Coronado Island, the couple hack their way into a free suite, swanky spas, and numerous other luxuries. But that's where the scams cease. Rachel has enacted a mantra of "observe but don't act," intended to allow Sam time to decompress and recover—and it's working. But true to their nature, when a con too easy to pass up comes along, all other intentions are quickly discarded. Once a young businessman brags about increasing his net worth over the pandemic through the windfall of small business loans from the Federal government he had forgiven, the couple hatch a simple con to lighten his load some. After some cozying up and planning an "investor presentation," they seem poised to net an easy payday of six figures. The only hitch? A disgruntled former employer also has Sam and Rachel's mark in his sights, unknown to them. Will his unwelcome presence not only kill the con but spell doom for them all?

Yeah. That sounds awesome. Now. The cover! 

STEALING PARADISE will be available on August 15th. Make sure you preorder it now. And when you're done, check out my conversation with Curtis, below: 

PAUL: You’re one of the final entries in A Grifters Song, and you’ve delivered a banger. How did it feel to step into this world so many of our genres best writers have played in? 

CURTIS: Man, at first it was so intimidating following the likes of S.A. Cosby, Gary Phillips, Holly West, James D.F. Hannah, and so many others including YOU! Have to admit, Paul, after I read your entry I was petrified of writing one. Yours raised the bar so damn high. But once I finally got over that anxiety and gave myself the freedom to write a story with my voice, in the setting I love, and with a scenario that I was confident with, I really loved it. I will be forever grateful to Frank for the invite to play the world he created with these epic characters.

PAUL: And you delivered a great one! 

One thing I was curious about while reading your entry - you handle the history of the Sam and Rachel, and their future, so so well. I don't think it’s a secret your entry is one of the final entries in A Grifters Song before Frank wraps it all up. Did knowing your entry would be that close to the end increase the pressure you felt? Did Frank give any special instructions, or present any kind of path he hoped you’d take? 

CURTIS: Thanks! I think knowing my mine was the penultimate episode really helped me with their background and hinting at the future. Frank was great and said to go for whatever I wanted to do. If I went too far, he’d let me know, but other than that there were no guardrails. So I made it a point to focus on teeing up Frank for his last episode. I also felt I needed Sam and Rachel to be doing some reflecting, feeling the weight of those 33 previous adventures and all the ones in between not put on the page. That’s part of the reason I decided to start them off on vacation. This season of A Grifter’s Song has punched the piss out them. They needed a break, but of course, master con artists can’t stay out of the game too long. 

PAUL: And what better place to take a break than San Diego? One of my favorite parts of the series is that the location is different for every single one, and that the location is always reflective of the author. And, knowing you, and how you travel, how you’re in town one day and the desert the next, and then the mountains after, I really wasn’t sure what you were going to do. As you were writing about San Diego again, was there anything in particular you wanted to show about the city? Anything in particular you felt like you hadn’t covered in your writing before?  

CURTIS: Deciding where in San Diego to set the story really started with wanting to drop Sam and Rachel at a resort location. A place they’d have “free” access to pampering. And the most recognizable spot here for that is the Hotel Del. It’s iconic. Marylyn Monroe shot a movie there. They set up an ice rink out back in the winter. I meant, how fucking arrogant. An ice rink on the beach, in 60 degree weather. Palms swaying, the best surf of the year rolling… The Del oozes opulence. And I wanted those two Great Whites there in the middle of it all, trying to take a break from the life, but smelling a constant fresh supply of chum in the water. 

Also, the location—Coronado Island—I have not written about it any of my other work. So yeah, that was a motivator too. And I have a lot more to say about that part of town at some point in the future.

PAUL: Speaking of the future, what’s next after A Grifters Song? I know you’ve got a novel you’ve been working on. Can you tell us a little bit about it? 

CURTIS: So, I’m querying a novel right now that I really love called Waves of Burden. It’s about a reluctant father-to-be who must track down his nomadic foster brother before the ruthless criminal he stole from kills them both. It’s set in San Diego, and it’s really my love letter to the area. It’s got brother dynamics, #vanlife culture, issues with housing markets and livability, and is what I believe just a dope ride. 

Apart from that, I’m workshopping ideas for my next novel. 

PAUL: I can’t wait to read it. And I have no doubt the book will get some attention after Bouchercon this year, where you’re nominated for a Best Short Story Anthony Award! Tell us about finding out you were nominated, what it would mean to win in front of the hometown crowd, and also about the story.

CURTIS: Oh, man. It’s been the most elating point of my career so far. I got the email notifying me the night before the public announcement, and I was just in shock. We were watching tv, and I saw the email and had to read it a couple times to make sure it was true.

So, the story is “The Estate Sale,” about a wife-husband couple who need to make their latest Estate Sale a huge success, cause their lives may depend on it, but when a sales boy shows up before opening, alarms go off and the couple respond with violence. This story was published in Vautrin Magazine, and I owe the editor Todd Robins so much for seeing what was special in this story. I don’t mean that arrogantly. I believed I had a quality story on my hands but it took more than 22 submissions over two and a half years for “The Estate Sale” to find a home. I went seven months without subbing it anywhere because I was so down by the rejection it had received. I considered trunking it several times. Now it’s a nominee for a freaking Anthony Award. And at my hometown San Diego Bouchercon. It’s such a reaffirming feeling to be honored in this way at home. I can’t wait to share this wonderful city with everyone come late August. You’ll see. America’s Finest City. And if I win? Things could get wild.

PAUL: I know you, so if you’re promising things could get wild, I believe you. And I truly hope everyone votes for The Estate Sale when it comes time. 

Okay, I think that’s all for us, Curtis. Thanks for swinging by Do Some Damage tonight. We can’t wait for Stealing Paradise, and I hope everyone who has read this snags a copy.

CURTIS: Thanks so much, man! Really appreciate the love. And seriously, this is not some cross-promotional JO session, if you haven’t read Paul’s Grifter’s Song episode—THE LOW WHITE PLAIN—buy it! Just maybe read mine first before you read quite possibly the best one in the series. 

Thanks again to Curtis for chatting with me, for his kind words on my entry in the amazing Grifters Song series, as well the inspiration he brings when talking about San Diego and the writing he does there. If you'll give me a moment to get a little maudlin, I mean it when I say Curtis is one of the best people I've met in the Writing Life, and I'm proud to call him a friend. The dude works hard, and he delivers the goods. Now, make sure you pick up STEALING PARADISE. Preorder it today. And when you're done, share it. More people need to read his words, and I am truly, truly hoping he brings home the Anthony from Bouchercon this year.

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Nothing to Fear

I love film books, and an interesting one I read recently is Nothing to Fear by Jason Isralowitz. It's the first book Isralowitz has written, and its subject is the Alfred Hitchcock film The Wrong Man (1956), starring Henry Fonda. This is the film, made in black and white, in which Hitchcock eschews nearly all his usual twists and pyrotechnics to tell the true story of Queens, New York musician Christopher "Manny" Balestrero, who in the mid-50s was arrested and went to trial for two robberies he did not commit. What was it that drew Hitchcock to the story? Perhaps it's the "wrong man" theme that Manny's story had, a theme Hitchcock explored over and over during his career, in films such as The 39 Steps, Saboteur, and North by Northwest. The Wrong Man was a real-life case involving mistaken identity, and Isralowitz details quite well what happened in the case and how Hitchcock, in almost documentary style, told the story. Isralowitz is an attorney who has been practicing law for nearly three decades, and he is also, quite obviously, a huge film buff who above all else loves Hitchcock. It's clear that he has spent a lot of time watching the director's work and thinking about it, and he understands that to "read" Hitchcock, you don't just analyze his films thematically like you might with a book (and as some do when discussing movies). He appreciates film grammar and how Hitchcock, as visual a filmmaker who ever lived, uses the camera and shot selection and editing and his compositions within the frame, and everything else within his non-verbal arsenal, to convey meaning and emotion. He also happens to write well, with a straightforward and concise style.  

But Nothing to Fear is about more than just the Hitchcock film and the criminal case it derives from. Isralowitz doesn't focus on the Balestrero case or the Hitchcock film until about a third of the way through his book. In the first third, he tells the stories of other people, primarily in New York, who were arrested and convicted, and who then did substantial jail time, on the basis of wrong identifications. In each case, it was eyewitness testimony that led to a person's arrest, and Isralowitz explores the reasons why eyewitness identification is so unreliable. How many people over time have been jailed for what the police and prosecutors called "honest mistakes" in identification? Too many to count. Combine this with sometimes mind-boggling line-up practices the police often used, and procedures like "show-ups", where a suspect would be asked to return to a robbery scene so that a witness could look at the person and decide whether the suspect was, in their eyes, the actual culprit (power of suggestion being very strong for a witness to say "yes" here), and prosecutorial methods that would essentially rule out exploring other possible suspects once an "identified" suspect was in custody; and you get an idea of what a wrongly accused person in the era before DNA evidence might be going up against. Isralowitz's book makes it clear how the Balestrero case, and, by extension, Hitchcock's film, even in the DNA era, remain relevant. The problem of wrongful incarceration certainly hasn't gone away. 

Balestrero died at the age of 88 in 1998. A corner in Queens, New York has been named "Manny 'The Wrong Man' Balestrero Way". In telling his story and the movie about it, Jason Isralowitz combines true crime, legal history, and film -- three topics I find endlessly interesting -- and he is the right person for the job. 

Saturday, June 17, 2023

How Do You Keep Track of What You Read?


Scott D. Parker

On New Year’s Day 2023, I decided to try something new.

I have long kept scattered notes about the things I consume. This includes books, movies, TV shows, music, and various other things. But these lists and such remain, well, scattered.

Over the past couple of years, the writer Ryan Holiday landed on my radar. He is the bookstore owner who writes about the Stoics and their philosophy and how it is still relevant in the 21st Century. In my reading about how Holiday researches and studies his subjects, I learned he keeps an extensive notecard system. His research assistant, Billy Oppenheimer, also keeps an extensive set of notecards. He wrote about his process here.

Being inspired by the two of them, I wondered what it would be like to start and maintain a notecard system of the things I read and watch.

And it’s been a blast.

As you can see from the picture, each card gets a title on top. The lower right corner is the date(s) where I read or watched the thing. Then, in the space of a 4x6 notecard, I write my thoughts. There’s a nice discipline about keeping your handwritten thoughts to a few lines that fit on a notecard. It’s wonderfully tangible to have the notecard you can hold and review.

You’ll also note that I have weekly and monthly assessments. Those I’ve found quite valuable at seeing personal trends, the wins, and the things I need to work on.

Since I’ve decided to read a comic book a day for Summer 2023, I’m also writing at least one notecard a day. Again, the discipline of doing this is proving very rewarding.

Oh, and yeah, I’m just using a binder clip right now. I graduated from the smallest to the middle and now a giant clip. And I just opened my second package of notecards this week. Maybe as a present to myself, when I get a couple hundred notecards, I’ll buy a box. A long-term goal.

How do you keep track of the books you read and the stuff you watch?

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Orphan Road by Andrew Nette

Scott's Note: Andrew Nette writes a lot of pieces (and they are very good ones) for places like CrimeReads, but it has been some years since he released a new book. Now, with Orphan Road, he has brought out a new novel, and he's here to tell us something about it. 

Take it away, Andrew...

Orphan Road

It has been a long time between novels for me. Over six years to be precise since the publication of Gunshine State, the first book to feature my character, Gary Chance.

Chance is a former Australian army driver, ex-bouncer, and professional thief. In Gunshine State, he was part of a crew on a heist being organised by an aging standover man in Surfers Paradise, a city in the tropical northern Australian state of Queensland. As is nearly always the case, the heist goes wrong, and Chance ends up in Thailand, where he has no choice but to avail himself of an aspect of the country’s world-famous medical tourism services – plastic surgery. With a new, but not so wonderful, face, he returns to Australia to settle scores with the individual responsible for the botched Queensland job.

Orphan Road sees Chance drifting and in need of work. An offer comes from a former employer, once notorious Melbourne social identity, now aging owner of a failing S&M club, Vera Leigh (who appeared in Gunshine State). A shadowy real estate developer is trying to squeeze Leigh out of a rapidly gentrifying Melbourne. But she has a rescue plan involving what was one of Australia’s biggest heists, Melbourne’s Great Bookie Robbery.

On April 21, 1976, a well-organised gang stole as much as three million dollars, a fortune at the time, from bookmakers at the Victoria Club in the city’s CBD. It is unclear how much was really stolen, but it was certainly far more than was officially reported. Whatever the case, the money was never recovered, no one was ever arrested, and technically the case remains unsolved.

But while the gang got away with the crime, they soon fell out over the distribution of its proceeds, leaving a trail of killings. Everyone associated with the crime has since died, either by natural causes or violently.

In Orphan Road I wanted to build on this notorious real-life story by having Vera Leigh maintain that money was not the only thing stolen that day in April 1976. So was a stash of uncut South African diamonds, and she wants Chance’s help to locate them. The problem is that Chance and Leigh are not the only ones who are looking.

Among fictional devices, I have always been attracted to the idea that the heist nearly always goes wrong. This can happen because of a complication with the actual robbery itself or when the members of the heist gang fall out amongst themselves afterward. In Orphan Road, I wanted to take the idea a step further, by stretching out the ramifications of the heist going wrong by nearly half a century.

A solid made-for-television series, The Great Bookie Robbery, aired in Australia in 1986 and is easy to track down on DVD. Less easy to find is the Australian film, Robbery, released a year earlier in 1985, and based on the real-life crime. Simon Chilvers is an elite Special Air Services officer who is cashiered from the army after killing a man on a routine training exercise. He pulls together a group of former soldiers to rob a Melbourne bookie club on a major racing day. While the heist goes off without a hitch, problems occur when a criminal boss named Webster gets wind of the crime and wants a share of the money. The film doesn’t quite hold together but is nonetheless worth watching as a cultural curio.

Although it is in no way related to the Great Bookie Robbery, I’d like to think that Orphan Road is also imbued with the spirit of one of my favourite Australian crime movies, Money Movers (1978). The film revolves around two security guards who plan to rob the armoured car service they work for. But things become complicated when an immoral criminal boss discovers the scheme and wants in on the job. The film has some uniquely Australian characteristics, including a strong riff on class relations and big business corruption in the 1970s.

There are several crime fiction influences on Orphan Road and the character of Gary Chance. Donald Westlake’s character of Parker and Australian crime writer Garry Disher’s creation, Wyatt, are two inspirations I’ve discussed previously. Orphan Road was written over Melbourne’s numerous Covid lockdowns, during which I reread Dan G. Marlowe’s gritty as hell 1962 heist gone wrong novel, The Name of the Game is Death. While Gary Chance is not a cold-blooded sociopath who expresses very little remorse in killing, like the central character in Marlowe’s novel, I was attracted by Marlowe’s prose style and how pitiless aspects of his story are.

The main character in The Name of the Game Is Death, who is only known by a series of false names, returned as Earl Drake in One Endless Hour (1969), which I also read while writing Orphan Road. Amongst other things, the story features Drake spending months as a terribly disfigured prisoner and having to engineer a plan to get a new face and escape jail.

Another influence on the character of Gary Chance is Wallace Stroby’s excellent series of books featuring the female criminal, Crissa Stone. While I didn’t re-read it whilst writing Orphan Road, in the back of my mind was Stroby’s 2021 book, Kings of Midnight. In it, Stone gets involved with a retired gangster and one of the few surviving members of the gang behind the infamous real-life Lufthansa heist from Kennedy Airport in 1978 (popularised in the 1990 film, Goodfellas). The gangster recruits Stone to help him retrieve two million dollars from the heist that was hidden by a recently deceased mobster. This was the inspiration for the idea of a story revolving around the idea that money wasn’t the only thing stolen from the Melbourne Bookie Club that day in 1976. 


You can pick up Orphan Road here:


Saturday, June 10, 2023

You Know a Book is Good When…


Scott D. Parker

(The day job on Friday was more like a Monday and it sucked up all my energy. Shrug. It happens. But that means I won’t have a lengthy column today. Just something short, a bit of praise for a brand-new book.)

Fresh off my review of T. J. Newman’s first book, FALLING, I eagerly jumped into her brand-new book, DROWNING, published less than two weeks ago. In the book, a plane suffers mechanical failure two minutes after takeoff from Honolulu and crashes into the ocean.

Unlike those famous airplane disaster movies from the 1970s that takes a quarter of the movie to introduce the characters and get the plane in the air, Newman puts you on the plane just after takeoff from the first sentence. By Chapter 3, the plane is down.

And those three chapters are incredibly harrowing and edge-of-your-seat suspenseful. How suspenseful you might ask? Suspenseful enough to elicit an emotional response. Heart pounding in the chest and a sting of tears in the eyes. 

If this book can get a response like that in three chapters, I can’t wait for the rest of the book.

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Cover reveal for The County Line

The cover for The County Line is now live. The novel is pitched as DEADWOOD meets BOARDWALK EMPIRE, the story of a small town boy who returns home and becomes embroiled in some ill-conceived ransom plans with local scofflaws and ornery characters, set against the unyielding backdrop of the Great Depression.

Nick Kolakowski said the book is William Faulkner meets Elmore Leonard, which I think nails what I was aiming for. 

You can read a chapter from a draft of the book when it had a different name right here.

Publication date for  is set for January 16, 2024, and you can pre-order here.

Saturday, June 3, 2023

FDR, Ted Lasso, and The Value of Kindness


Scott D. Parker

Television this week boiled down to two things: the three-part, six-hour FDR documentary on The History Channel and the series finale of Apple TV’s Ted Lasso. In reflecting on both shows, I realized both programs demonstrated how one man can show those around him the value of kindness.


Based on the works of Doris Kearns Goodwin, “FDR” highlighted the life, career, and presidency of our 32nd president. Privileged from birth, FDR’s life was turned upside down when he contracted polio at age thirty-nine. His incapacitation meant he had to rely on others for nearly everything. It was in the long, slow process of learning to live with polio and paralysis that he deepened his compassion for his fellow Americans. He saw and experienced the toll the disease took on families and he always made sure his fellow polio sufferers were treated with dignity and respect.

It was his compassion that led him to try things on the state government level when he was governor or New York during the early days of the Great Depression and as, as president, he continued the practice. Try something. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, try something else. 

The focus, however, for nearly all that he tried, was the common citizen. He wanted to help people. He felt sympathy for them in their plights—whether an out of work woman in the Depression or a soldier he sent off to war—and he also felt empathy. He could understand because he, too, needed help. It was a trait he literally strived to live up to until his final breath.

Ted Lasso

If you know the show, you know that American football coach Ted Lasso accepts a job coaching an English soccer team. What started out as a fish-out-of-water comedy morphed in a truly unique and special show that had less to do about soccer, er, football, and more to do about, well, helping people.

Ted Lasso the character possesses a wonderfully optimistic view of life. Yes, he hides some of his own personal traumas and mental health issues, but he also seeks help. He finds it not only with a professional therapist but also his group of co-workers, all of whom are guys not used to sharing their feelings. Gradually over the three season, they develop a deep bond of friendship and respect. The players themselves also start to understand there are more important things that just soccer. Even the team owner learns the Ted Lasso lesson.

In a recent podcast interview, Jason Sudeikis, the co-creator and star, said that during the development of the show, one of the themes he wanted the show to have was less snark. There was enough of that in the world and he outwardly wanted to show a different side of humanity. He wanted, in a word, to be kind to viewers. He wanted the various characters to bring out not just sympathy in the viewers but empathy. I happen to think he and the entire crew of the show pulled it off splendidly. 

The Money Quote

It might seem an odd comparison—a real-life president and a fictional TV show—but the themes are common. FDR’s sense of optimism helped guide and comfort the country in a dark time. Ted Lasso’s optimism did so on a weekly basis on TV. I actually kind of laughed when these thoughts merge in my mind late on Wednesday night as I was in the afterglow of Ted Lasso’s series finale.

Ted Lasso is chock full of wonderful quotes. If someone hasn’t already compiled them, it’s something that needs to happen. One in particular really struck me this week. One of Ted Lasso’s group of guys—called the Diamond Dogs—asks if they think people can change. Another character dropped this truth:

“Human beings are never going to be perfect, Roy. But the best we can do is keep asking for help and accepting it when you can. And if you keep on doing that, you’ll always be moving towards better.”

A crucial component to being better is being kind. Not only kind to others, but kind to yourself. It is a lesson that needs to be on an endless repeat in our daily lives.