All is True.

• Saturday, October 30, 2010 2 comments
I've spent the past several days busy, and easily annoyed. The reason this post isn't titled "Jesus Tap-Dancing Christ" or "Sweet Merciful God in Heaven" is because I took a day from when I originally wanted to write it. It was a good choice.

On the upswing, things seem to be settling down on my end. The book that I just had to review was something of a monster, and I mean that not as a negative, just that as actual length goes it was a Godzilla of novels [or at least a Gamera], assuming you're measuring said monster from the tip of his nose to the end of his tail [my parentheticals are fucked if Gamera was a girl. John?]. There was also a small snafu a few books back that sort of knocked me off the schedule I've had for getting them done quickly. Trying to get back to that pace is difficult, as I find it hard to get back into a groove after falling out of one, no matter how well everything else has worked out. If there's any part of my personality that is particularly unpleasant, it's how react to having something upset my apple cart. It throws me. Sometimes I can be a little childish about it. I wasn't this time, which I suppose I should be proud of, but come on now, if other people can handle things not going exactly to plan with some grace and dignity, there's really no reason to pay myself on the back for the same thing.

Anyway, that was finished, quite spectacularly if I do say so myself, though mark my words, if I ever get fired from this job I'll have no one to blame but Stan "The Man" Lee. For some reason I just haven't been able to deny myself the antiquated words and the occasional alliteration in my reviews. I'm mostly joking about the firing thing too [the outfit I work for is great -- way professional, very trusting], though I wouldn't be surprised if a reprimand, or a gently worded suggestion to tone it back a little found it's way into my inbox. As a matter of fact, I'm going to try and pull it back on my next one. It just might take a little time.

Speaking of books, I just finished Foley's, a quick read that made me feel a lot better about being a writer at the end -- and in this post-Twain world, I'd just like to clarify that I do mean that as a compliment to him. I really didn't have time to be reading it, but I would just squeeze a chapter in here, or there, and when I polished it off this morning I found myself really... just satisfied, and not only with the writer, and the way the book had ended. Sort of satisfied with myself, if that makes sense.

It's a weird way to leave a book -- self-satisfaction. I'm not sure if I could actually explain it. I pay a lot of attention to the way books hit me, influence me. I've left a lot of books just plain pissed off -- I think that's what people can relate to, the "this is wasting my time," or "this is just like Choke, which was just like Fight Club," or "goddammit, who describes night as dark any goddamn more?!" and even the most simple, "well, that was stupid." But there are other cases, non-negative ones, the good ones if you will, that go beyond the visceral reactions of bad, and even further beyond "oh, that was clever," or "Well! I enjoyed that."

When I'm reading Thompson, for instance, as long as I am actively reading his work, I write more. I also rip off his style shamelessly, as more than a few people who've gotten some odd-toned, swear-ridden [even for me] e-mails can attest to, and in more than a few cases I've had to just put down The Rum Diaries in order focus, and sound like myself again. When I finished Watchmen for the first time, I remember being in awe, and when I finished Gatsby for the first time, I felt sort of encouraged [which in and of itself is odd, because something so damn good, and so damn concise, and nigh-on perfect? Usually something that artful discourages me like making it to the top of Mt. Everest and finding them shooting a Dos Equis commercial up there]. Cornball as it sounds, I remember finishing The Hobbit, and just looking at my copy as though, had it been a woman, I might marry it, so sure that we'd be happy together for the rest of our lives together [15 years so far... send presents]. And Tristram Shandy literally changed the way I looked at the world around me and the people in it, one of the most significant changes in my perception of things in my entire life.

I'm not saying Countdown to Lockdown brought me anything nearly so profound. But I didn't finish it and just say "Well! I enjoyed that" either. Instead, I felt kind of glad to be a writer, felt sort of optimistic about it, which is odd because any profession/calling/hobby [God I hope it's not just a hobby]/obsession where the word "perfection" so often pops up does have a habit of being a tad discouraging at times. Especially since "pragmatism" seems to be the posh, embroidered banner so many writers writing about writing on the internet wave these days.

Pragmatism? I'm pretty sure that was not why I started this.

While we're still on the subject of books, the next thing in my queue [not work reading, what I'm trying to get in myself] is Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution. I don't know how much I've talked about it on this, but I'm a big fan of female fronted rock music, and the Riot Grrrl genre continues to bring me gem after gem of great, DIY chick punk. Plus, the genre never really leans New Wave, which is a big plus in my opinion. Looking forward to it, as I've been curious about the subculture surrounding genre [more or less gone now], and in high school I was actually a huge rock history buff, just one with a bad mind for remembering names, dates, and the like. But ask me about the time the band I don't remember blew up the hotel toilet to get out of the war they were about to be drafted too. Or something.

Conveniently enough [as though I planned it this way], one of my major sources for Riot Grrrl info -- Brit Journalist Jenny Woolworth -- did an interview with Marcus about the book, which you can check out here, and I have to highly recommend if you're on the fence about getting the book yourself. Yeah, I'm breaking the cardinal rule and recommending something before even I've dived in yet, but I feel pretty confidant here.

Nerdy sidenote about me and Woolworth -- after my post on the BOOM! Studios CBGBs comic she started following me on Twitter, which, even as a small gesture, flattered me to no end. In some of my darker periods in the past few years, a lot of the music I've discovered through Woolworth's blog has kept my spirits up, made me feel -- hokey, yes -- less on my own [plus, I think she turned me on to Team Dresch, whose album "Captain My Captain" I still regularly mine for ideas].

On to work. I need to get "New Hooverville" ready for Eric's zine. I've only heard from one person about it really, so I guess I'm on my own with polishing it, which is... fine. I will admit, I like getting feedback, being engaged about my ideas tends to change how I think about them, critically speaking, but I also just seem to get better ideas when I have people to bounce things off of others. I think it's a nice way of saying I enjoying talking about myself. Sometimes you just have to stand on your own, I guess.

I was also pretty pleased with the thing I posted on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. I don't know why, I just liked getting that out there, and for piece that's part of something much bigger, I think it works okay on its own too. A few people have told they thought so too, which was encouraging, as it was just something little that was on my mind, and I put out there mostly on a whim, and wound up feeling good about it. I'm going to dig up something that's a little older for next week, because I thought of it the other day and wanted to dig into it again. It should be interesting to some people, as I once fondly referred to it as "the thing that no one will ever want to film or draw for me."

Look for that around Wednesday. I'd really like to post more fiction here, and I'm going to try and move towards doing that, even if it's just more dialogue like before. It's hard right now, because the fiction comes intermittent, and most of what's on this blog is about my life, what I'm working on, what I'm writing, as opposed to a lot of actual writing, and that factual nature I think screws over the fiction that I post sometimes. More fiction might help with that.

But again, this might make the fifth or sixth time I've made that pledge.

Not the first conversation they shouldn't of had.

• Wednesday, October 27, 2010 4 comments
[******* and **** lay in bed, post coital.]

"Tell me something."


"About?"

"About you."

"You know everything about me."

"Oh, come on. No one knows everything about anybody."

"You do."

"You can't just tell me I'm brilliant and think that's the end of it. That doesn't work on me."

"That always works on you."

"..."

"See?"

"...fine. Then tell me about her."

"Who?"

"You know who. ****. Tell me why you loved her."

"You don't want to hear that..."

"I asked."

"..."

"Out with it, mister."

"All right. I had just started puberty."

"How romantic." [eye roll]

"Hey, fine. You asked."

"No, no. Sorry. Go on."

"It wasn't anything... big. Like at 10 or 12 my voice didn't just start out squeaking, I wasn't like, hiding surprise boners or anything. All that Degrassi stuff didn't start until later. Didn't even really get zits right out of the gate. But I started to... on my nose, they were small, and like..."

"Blackheads?"

"Is that okay? Mom called them that, but I thought it might be..."

"Oh, poor sheltered white boy. I think you're okay."

"Well. Anyway. I didn't care. I didn't even see them. But they drove my mom crazy. I mean, she really hated them, would like, corner me, hold me down if she had to, and dig her nails into the end of my nose until she'd gotten them all. It hurt like you wouldn't believe."

"Again. Such romantic imagery."

"Do you have any patience? At all?"

"No." [giggles]

"Fine. Fast forward, It was... we hadn't been going out very long. Puberty was long gone, but I still sometimes get, you know, the blackheads. Paranoid about it, self-conscious, I guess. And we're... me and ****, we're kind of close, not making out, but you know, maybe getting there, and all of sudden she's like 'you've got this thing' and starts after my nose. And all I can think is 'Oh my God, this is going to suck,' and I tense all up, eyes squeezed shut, and start going to that mother place, which is not a place you want to go with a new girlfriend."

"True story."

"Right? It's awful. But then I just hear 'got it.' And there it was, this little black... thing, on the end of her nail. No pain, not even an 'ew, gross.' She just flicked it off. And we went right back to... we kissed."

"And that's why you loved her?"

"It's how I knew I did."

"Huh."

[BEAT. **** straddles him, and makes a move towards his nose. Instinctively, he cringes away.]

"Wait, ****..."

[**** playfully touches the end of his nose.]

"It's okay. I know."

"It's just... you're not her."

"Like I said, *******. I know."

"But that's good. That you're not."

"Good save."

[They kiss.]

So, I totally met Mick Foley

• Friday, October 22, 2010 4 comments
This is sort of unique picture of me. No glasses, big, legitimate smile. Oh, and one more thing... what was it...hm...


Oh, yeah. I'm kneeling next to the Hardcore Legend and New York Times Best Selling Author, Mick "Bah Gawd" Foley.

Once again, thanks to my friend Dave, I got to meet one of my wrestling heroes. But actually, and no offense to Chris Jericho, I'd go so far as to call Foley one of the few people I admire, as far as celebrities and famous people go. Normally, I'd have prefaced this post with "reader beware! I'm going to talk about sweaty men pretending to hit each other," but a few years back, Foley stepped out of the ring, and wrote an absolutely amazing autobiography called "Have a Nice Day: A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks," which despite being almost bible-sized even as a paperback, was one of the few books in my "carry around" bullpen in high school and early college, an "honor" reserved for... Kerouac, a handful of poets, Fitzgerald, Thompson, and Tolkien.

Foley turning out to be such an amazing [and unassisted - no ghosts here] writer was always very encouraging to me. I guess I'd compare it to someone who was a Michael Jordan and a baseball fan, only instead of ole MJ choking he wound up leading the White Sox to a World Series.

Or something. I've never been much of a sports guy. And I don't think anyone's mentioned His Airness trying to play baseball in quite some time.

Anyway. This was a fairly big deal to me, and though I hate speaking ill of my fellow wrestling fans, since it was Foley on tour for his newest book, "Countdown to Lockdown," as opposed to appearing for TNA, or at some indie show or comic convention, a short reading actually took place, and he even took questions, which meant thanks to yours truly I got the former World Heavyweight Champion to ruminate on Martin Luther King Jr. and Ghandi. And I will admit, even though I had met him before, actually talking to him for a short while as he signed my book was nice, even if what I mostly wanted to do was just thank him for the amazing showing he had with Ric Flair a few weeks back on Impact! which, as a kid who grew up on southern wrestling, really meant a lot to me, in a way that someone not raised on grown men making each other bleed probably wouldn't be able to understand. And it was all in a rather nice, apparently recently renovated lecture room at Marshall University, which, from what little I've seen of it, seems to be a rather pleasant campus.

But I'll save my recently returned collegiate pangs for another post.

Anyway, Foley was a wonderful, charming guy, and it was nice to meet him in a forum I was a bit more comfortable with. Which feels odd to say, since generally I consider things like wrestling events and comic book conventions my stomping ground, but I guess to no one's surprise our old buddy Randall feels just a little more at home some place that panders to his intellectual side.

Good times. And thanks to Dave for telling me about it. It was a very spur of the moment kind of trip, but that really made it all the better. And along with the picture, I also got him to sign his new book, which, if you can't see up there, here's a nice little close-up for your trouble:

Yep. Still a nerd.

And in case someone is wondering, yes, I sort of struggled with whether or not to take my shades off for the picture. Considering even a little fluorescent lighting is all it takes to give me a migraine [though not always... funny, that], I tend to keep them on no matter what the occasion. But this just felt sort of special to me, like something I'd want my eyes in, and also a way to show the man a little extra respect [which is also why I took a knee -- I didn't want a picture where I looked taller than Mick]. So Foley joins the ranks of my mother and one girlfriend for catching me out of my specs for a picture.

Who knew?

In work related news, I polished off another book review, but there's always another on the way. The website I did copy for should be going live in the next week or so too, so I might show that off when I get it. All and all, I was pretty pleased with how much I was able to do for the client in such a short amount of time, even if it has knocked my sleep schedule for a loop again.

I have a couple of ideas I want to work on, and I recently saw Justin and he now has a new drawing bench [and a fiancée! Congratulations Staci! I contemplated gushing here like I did for Dave and Carrie back in the day, but I thought since I see you guys so often I'd just save it for all in person], so I imagine you'll be seeing new Calamity Cash pages soon. There's only a handful left until the book's finished, and then I'm not sure what we're going to do.

The oft-linked Eric M. Esquivel of Modern Mythology fame is putting together a zine, entitled "Normal" and my current plan is to get something submitted for that. Right now he's got a deadline set for content by the end of November, which is making me think I might re-work "New Hooverville" and try and get that in there. My first thought was to put a mini-comic together, but between writing the script, finding an illustrator who'd want to work with me, and making sure the artist has the time they need to get the job finished, November just seemed like too tight of a deadline to swing. Which is fine, actually, because "New Hooverville" is really something I consider to be like an artist's statement about my own work, and a manifesto about a lot of my frustrations with the world and how it treats creative-types, which from Eric's description would probably fit well with his theme.

There's also a part of me that just feels like... there's something in that story that's a little bit bigger than me, that I want more people to see. I have... a limited reach here, there are people who come to this pulpit or soapbox, and take in the things I do, but for that piece, not as many as I'd like. Certainly not buried back, forever in my archives. And I think there's something in "New Hooverville" that will resonate with people, and I just want to get it into as many people's hands as possible, warts and all.

...though if some of you have read it, and seen a few warts, and maybe have some suggestions about excising them, or just tightening some other stuff up, it'd be appreciated. I certainly don't want to offer Eric something that's exactly like what's on the internet, and more than that, I just imagine the story is a bit long for a zine. So if you get a chance, and have any suggestions, just e-mail me, or hit me up on Facebook or Twitter. I'd appreciate it.

And since I have until the end of November, I reserve the right to change my mind. In which case, you'll just have helped make something that really matters to me a lot better. So no wasted motion there.

Have a nice day.

PSA: "Should I tell my child panic attacks come from the devil?"

• Wednesday, October 20, 2010 3 comments
Not long after I started this blog, my friend John Wiswell pointed me towards Sitemeter.com. It's a free [re: no technical support], functional way to keep up with your website's traffic, and with a little detective work or a copious amount of free "thinkin' time" you can tell a lot about the kind of people who are checking out your site.

It also, with some regularity, tells you what was searched when people locate your website from a search engine. Over the years, I've gotten some odd visitors looking for odder things [Tandoori to go, Monique Powell's Save Ferris spin-off band, etc], but I recently had a referral that I felt warranted mentioning.

"Should I tell my child panic attacks come from the devil?"

Now, obviously all they discovered here on my blog was the entry "Video Games and Panic Attacks" -- which is mostly me talking about how I self-medicated my unquieted mind with hours of the video game equivalent to super-powered cock fighting [re: Pokemon]. But I'd just like to say, to the person who searched that, if they search it again and find this entry, or if you're searching for an answer to that question on the internet for the first time:

No. No, you shouldn't tell your child that.

Look, I know how it is. You're young. I bet you probably haven't hit thirty yet. You work a couple of eight or nine hour shifts, because the same religion that won't let you go out and get your kid a prescription for Xanax probably didn't want you using birth control. And you come home, and you're tired. Exhausted even. And the last thing you want in that time period you've set aside between beating the living incarnation of your broken dreams and watching "Two and A Half Men" is the little bastard freaking out because our culture dictates that anytime someone unclenches their sphincter for a minute the evening news needs to replay footage of planes crashing into the World Trade Center. It's hard. But deep down, I think we both know, you're just looking for someone to blame.

But trust me. It's not the devil. And all you're doing by telling your child that, other than scaring the holy bejeezus out of them, is investing in those first four years of life-long therapy they'll need under your insurance plan, while at the same time guaranteeing yourself an extended stay in the most sub-standard of nursing home facilities come your twilight years.

And now you know.

I have friends... [Not trying to convince myself, this is more about idealism. Probably.]

• Friday, October 15, 2010 0 comments
It is sort of strange for me to go this long without blogging. It is stranger that yesterday I didn't get my links up on Twitter.

I don't know if I ever properly described why I do that. In the sidebar there you'll notice two widgets, one that is supposed to have nothing to do with me [the blog roll], and one that is supposed to have... well, at least 1/3, maybe half of nothing to do with me -- Twitter. The blog roll does its thing without me, but because of space restrictions, and because of how many avid bloggers I like to call attention to, there's a chance you might not see what I consider the really good stuff that I've read that day, unless you use the drop down menu, and I don't think many people do. So Twitter is sort of the back-up to that, if someone publishes something on their blog at nine one morning, and by six that evening there's been twenty or thirty other blog posts, then at least you can see there, on the right side, that thing which was posted at nine, and which was particularly awesome or interesting to me.

Some people do stuff worth posting every day -- John and Sarah both come to mind. Other people post more sporadically, like Ian, Hannah, Lauren, Eric, Dave, Zoe, CheriAnn, etc, etc, etc [I am only leaving people out because if I don't stop myself I'd list you all]. The list goes on and on. Hell, Glen's following is huge, he doesn't even need my publicity, and I pimp for him on Twitter. I don't do this for thanks, or for recognition [though I have at times been paid back with linkage in kind, which I appreciate], I do it because I like these things I post, I like these people, and I want to support them. I don't have much of a soapbox here... as a matter of fact, I hardly have one at all. But if I can lift one person up, if I can post one thing with the right hash tag to get it noticed by some person who is also going to like it and pass it on, well, that means something to me. Because I think that's how it should work -- mind you, I don't think that's how it does work -- but I think that is how it should work, that those of us who are really good, should raise up the rest of us that are really good too.

And, if I'm mistaken in including myself among those talented people I raise up, that I show off, then that is okay too. Because I honestly have enough ego left in me to believe that even if what I do is not worthwhile, at least what I like is, and that what I like is in some way transcendent, worthy of getting as much attention heaped upon it as possible, even if, in my limited capacity, all I can do is tell one person.

There is also a little more to it, which I hope doesn't offend anyone. Let me start with an anecdote. In college, I tackled my first real screenplay class, my first real shot at a 120 page monster of a script, to be done in one semester. By most industry standards [at least according to our professor, Steven Bach] the idea of finishing a screenplay in 4-5 months is a little ridiculous. Doing it is, in some circles, considered super-human [others scoff]. But with ten pages a week, it was doable. It would not be perfect. But it was achievable.

I was, happily, taking this course with a dear friend, and my roommate at the time. To say me and my roommate had different ways of working would be an understatement. I would consider him, to this day, to be my studious better, someone capable of working out a schedule and following through with it, all the while keeping realistic and achievable goals along the way. Someone with, I would hazard to say, a responsible eye for his deadline. He is to be admired for this, in my mind, because it is a way to work that is, at least partially, beyond me.

Look no further than who I named this blog for to see the truth in my statement. Though I have told friends, I don't believe I ever explicitly pointed out here that calling this site "The Mojo Wire" was not just because of a wealth of hero worship for the late Doctor of Journalism, Hunter S. Thompson. I named it this because of a parallel he and I shared in the manner in which we work; it is, I guess, gonzo legend now, that "The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved," Thompson's breakout piece, was only ever published because of his half-mad dash at his deadline, feeding handwritten pages through the automated telecopier machine [the "mojo wire" he dubbed it], for his editor to cobble together the masterpiece hidden within the fatalist insanity of a writer's 11th hour last gasp to produce, to achieve, to meet his deadline.

That's me. I am a procrastinator. I even take pride, at times, that my best work is done when I am far behind, or staring down the barrel of a 9 am deadline at midnight the day before. And that's how I work, how I really work, on the things that matter, on the things that mean something to me. It is not, luckily, how I handle my freelance work -- but those are paychecks, and while those are important, those are important to the client, and are handled with care for someone else. Those things that mean the most to me are dashed through in a panic. And I love them for that.

So that was the situation for me and my roommate, both with the same deadline, both with the same number of pages to produce, and both in the same room. I did my expected dicking off, at first, watching my roommate plug away at his own script and make progress I saved for babbling all nighters, where after four pages were done I'd dash out into the hall way, to the bathroom, to pace, or piss, or brush my teeth. A strange reward for very little.

But time went by, and in my mind, things got strained. I became paranoid that may was not going to work, that my roommate was ahead of me, that he would finish first, and thus, have more to tweak, to fix, to get closer to that perfection that I only know we both were chasing because I know him so very well. And in my mind, he became the enemy -- not actually, not really; there were never thoughts to burn his manuscript, to wipe his hard drive, to lead him out into the woods and ditch him, and let exposure, or some species of Vermont Grizzly get to him. Still, I began looking at my roommate, my friend, as an adversary. I pushed myself. I attempted to fit myself into his box, his schedule, his routine. I failed at it, rather miserably, and flopped back and forth between his habits and mine. And for all my fear and anxiety, for all my strange hours and failures to work like the well-oiled machine I saw him as, it all came to naught.

Two weeks before our deadline, maybe more, maybe less, I was finished. Upon announcing this, my roommate looked at me with shock. I had beat him. He still had 10, 15 pages to go.

Ladies and gentleman, your winner...

I gloated a little, like the prick I was then. Like the prick I worry I might still be. But in all honesty, I didn't feel accomplished. I didn't feel good about my "victory." I more hated myself for looking at someone I considered a friend, whose work I respected even then, as a competitor.

And as for my piece? Well, it sucked. In fairness, most people's work in that class sucked, as we were mostly first timers, with flashes of brilliance wrapped up in a rushed sense of fear as we tried to make narrative arcs function in ways that real screenwriters sometimes took years to work out. But that wasn't the only reason I was dissatisfied with what I'd done -- I'd rushed myself even more, I'd tortured myself because I'd turned myself against my peers. Placed myself in an adversarial position where even the thought of another person's triumph cut into me, not just that they were producing, and I wasn't, but that they might be producing, that they might be succeeding, and I knew for sure that I was not.

I suppose some people would look at that as some sort of brilliance. As some sort of motivation.

But I have friends. I have one friend, a writer I respect more than... well, anyone, who produces constantly. Who strives to be published. Who does impeccable, unapproachable work. He will be called prolific one day. I have another friend who manages to do what I have not been the best at, balancing responsibility, and writing, and depression together, to make time to get it all done, or as much as he can, and have as much if not more to show for it than I do, as I stumble along trying to hold everything together. I have another with a television show, who has went the farthest, and got the most recognition of all of us.

I have more friends, some artists, who work constantly, bent over a drawing desk, seeing success for their efforts, being rewarded for not just who they know, but what they do. I have others who have seen success in fields that I would not begin to know how to penetrate, and who have left those successes behind, to find something to make them happier. I know hot-shot kids, younger than me, with my same goals, who have gone farther than I in much less time. I know brilliant bloggers, who have self-financed books, and brilliant journalists, who are going to school and know exactly what their future holds, and are happy in that knowledge [this is rarer than you might think]. And others who are just not setting themselves on paths, with dream jobs they never really dreamed about, or science classes they're not sure they're ready for but they're going to beat down anyway, with paintings or screenplays that they are just sure need finished because dammit, they're artists, and artists finish things.

My friends. My peers. Or, if I flatter myself the least, people whose work I admire. And I know it would be easy for me to be bitter. For me to gnash my teeth, and turn it all inward and say "What about me? Why not me?" It's in there. It's a part of myself I'm not proud of. It sours me, sometimes. And it doesn't even have to be about friends, or people you know. Sometimes, I wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night [when I sleep], with this voice in my head just screaming at me that "JOHN DARNIELLE HAS 17 STUDIO ALBUMS!! WHAT THE FUCK IS YOUR EXCUSE?" It's enough to get you up and staring at the blinking cursor for hours.

But let me pause, and share another anecdote for a minute. About a girl I once knew, whose way of looking at the world I valued greatly. I still do. She had this thing about deformities. They freaked her out, naturally. But she could deal with it, if she could just have a minute, to look at this thing that had gone wrong, that wasn't right. And then, she could deal with it. She could acknowledge it for what it was, and say "there is nothing wrong with what is wrong with this."

I'm not saying that's what this is. I do not show off the achievements of those I love, respect, or admire just so I can have a moment where I can look at the ugly, deformed part of me that gets green-eyed and jealous and come to terms. I'm just saying it crossed my mind. For now, and for some time, or at least most of the time, I feel more like a child, who has found some treasure, and who is content to tug on skirts and hold that treasure up and say "See? This is cool," or perhaps, more maturely "I have friends. Aren't they brilliant?" And I think of this, and I think of the only bad thing I'll ever really say about my college, how were we ever going to raise each other up, when all our insecurities just made us want to cut the other guy off at the knees. It wasn't until late in my education that got up the courage to tell another writer, someone I was in a class with, how much I sincerely enjoyed the work they were doing. They looked at me with surprise. And then they smiled.

I have friends that are amazing at what they do, and that is no reason for me to look at them as adversaries, for me to try and force myself into some box that works for them, but I should really have no reason to think will work for me. It drove me crazy, trying to get just what I wanted -- and you know what? Now, when I'm honest with myself, "just what I wanted" isn't only my success, it's all of theirs too.

I'm not going to lie... I've been having trouble lately when it comes to focusing inward, which is how I come up with new ideas, or figure out how to finish old ones, or even decide what it is I want to commit to, write, or in the longer term, do. So while I will admit that this started as me trying to explain why it's so important to me to link the things on Twitter the way I do, I guess this is also thank you. To all of you.

For giving me something good on the outside. Until I get back to that place where I'm looking in.

-------

Now I'm going to get really vague for a minute. And what follows has absolutely nothing to do with what I was talking about above. I just need to get it off my chest, and this half-speak is the only way I can think to do it.

I have friends who look at the big picture, and when they see one thing wrong, they fixate on that. That is the part of this that did not work out. Why? How? There is no enjoyment for them, in the things that did work, because of that which did not. I sympathize.

I have also have friends who, lately, have reflected on what being an adult means to them. Life lessons they have now picked up in their 20s, which they believe are somehow indicative of the way life works. I, personally, think anytime something looks that much like a life lesson, it probably isn't. But in this case, I will make an exception.

Sometimes, you have to work awfully hard to get nothing done. Sometimes, just the fact that you worked hard, you did what you were supposed to -- that is the accomplishment. Sometimes there is no reward, sometimes there are just the principles of the thing, and sometimes you only break even. Sometimes, all you do is get back to regular. This is not a failure. In many things, it is achievement, it is the nature of having responsibilities.

And sometimes you have to be okay with that. But you should never be satisfied with it.

Anyway, I have a fairly full weekend coming up, and a review to do. After that, it's my plan to write no less than three letters, put my thinking cap on hard for something awesome to do for Eric's zine, and if the rumblings in my head have anything to say about it, take another crack at an old favorite of mine called "White Trash Nation."

Finishing up one project, looking at old stuff.

• Friday, October 8, 2010 2 comments
My nights and days have inverted again.

Sort of a strange few days. Got a deal on a new phone, slightly larger than my old one, but it's way faster, the screen is clearer, the ringer is louder, and everything loads so much quicker. Still, there were a lot of problems getting my old number transferred over, and I'm starting to see why people with steadier incomes just lock themselves into a phone plan. At least then, I guess, you have a contract you can shake at your provider and say "See? This was promised. I don't care that it's four in the fucking morning, make my phone work."

There was even one strange day where I got to sit with a phone that could not take calls. It could act as a two gigabyte mp3 player, it could take pictures, it could play PacMan... it just couldn't do any of the things you sort of expect a phone to do, like, you know, take calls. If you dwell on it long enough, the crotchety old man instinct can take over, until you're just shaking your head and thinking "Feh. Technology."

Anyway. I sent off what I think will be the final draft of copy for my current website job, which apparently I nailed pretty much on the first go. It was just a matter of making sure it was typo-free and adding a small blurb that hadn't been made available to me in the first go round, and then I shot the new content off to the client late last night, my near vampiric hours once again better serving clients by the promptness in which they find copy in their inbox the next morning.

I always thought we got this whole work hours thing wrong. Yes, I toil away after the sun goes down like some nocturnal madman, racing to get done before the sun comes up. But then for everyone who works during the daylight hours, well, they're always sure to have exactly what they need upon getting up the next morning. Trust me, I know these things, as my dad used to deliver newspapers -- the thing you need in the day, so it must be taken care of the night before -- a profession that proves that divvying up day jobs and night jobs better would solve all sorts of problems for people who work on both sides of dawn.

That, and maybe society could cater to us night owls because of it. I would kill to get pizza or Chinese takeout at four in the morning.

Other than the phone and the work, most of my week has been spent thinking about older, unfinished projects [re: Trendsetter, and The Familiar], including a comic book idea I had back in college that I'm not entirely sure why I never bothered to finish it. Two issues already written, and I just up and forgot about it, save for a bunch of notes I cannibalized back when I was trying to put together that treatment for a pilot [re: Sweet Home]. Paying work has made me not really keen on sitting down and typing at the computer, so all of this work has mostly been scribbled in the moleskin, but it feels nice to be creative again, and even in the case of the narrative problems I'm having trouble solving [Familiar in particular -- every time I think I fixed something, I find new plot holes to obsess over] I'm thinking about characters and stories that haven't been on my mind in a long time. Better writers than I probably won't think much of this, but having those names, those places, those situations on the tip of my tongue or in the back of my mind [because apparently writing is like fellatio, kids!] means that sometimes I step out of the shower or into the soup aisle and suddenly realize how to tie something together better. And its always those eureka moments that seem to get me motivated to get the most done.

Pleasant reminders I can still, occasionally, be clever.

Also got some big news concerning some friends of mine. Sort of waiting to see them in person before putting anything here about it, though. Seems more personal that way.

It's my friend Nick's birthday today, too. He's big into tumblr, and for his birthday, you should go check out his blog "Blue-Eyed Devil."

Finally, and not to bury the lead in the least, Savannah's TV show "Huge" was not renewed for a second season. There's currently a petition up to save the show, and whether you were able to watch it or not, whether you were a fan or not, I really would consider it a personal favor if you'd go, and sign. Another one of my friends [Hannah], put it best [and in an especially apt way for this blog, which has always been about writing and creativity]: just think, if you were given an opportunity to tell a story, to make something important to you, and then had your funding yanked out from under you and were unable to continue, let alone finish, the story you were trying to tell. I don't know a creative person that wouldn't be heartbreaking to, so please, sign the petition, spread the news, and just generally get the word out. Realistically, maybe this is a long shot, but with the internet we have seen cult shows saved by fan outcry before, and a show this smart, this funny, this different deserves a second chance.

Or at least some kind of gesture by us, the fans, to show those involved how much their work was appreciated.

I was a teenage pornstar.

• Monday, October 4, 2010 2 comments
Since Tuesday, I put together ten new pages on "The Familiar" -- basically, a new beginning for that old friend, and I more or less mapped out how the new cut should go. I just need to sit down, and actually write it, and will once I hammer out one or two small details that keep cropping up during my readings of it. It's funny, in school, ten pages in a week was really good turnover, something to aspire to, but I look at what I did and feel vaguely bad there isn't more.

And I'm not crazy about what's there, either. Despite being written over a period of several days I had a real feeling the whole time of needing to get it out, needing to get the scene written, needing to make sure all the most important things were said, and nothing else. It's weird, and unlike me, especially since I know my penchant for sitting down, and letting a conversation take its time. Letting everyone say what they would say, how they would say it, at a leisurely pace. It's easier too, to go back, and cull from that the most necessary parts -- at least then you get some character with the lines, and not just exposition.

Patience is my problem. I just haven't been as patient lately as I usually am. A few people have run afoul of it, and for that I apologize. It's a very valuable thing, patience, and it's the one virtue I feel like my generation, the generation before, and yeah, feeling old for a minute, the generation after, has neglected. It doesn't come naturally to me, but I strive for it, and not having it agitates me. And considering an impatient Randall is already a semi-unpleasant experience for most folks, and agitated impatient Randall is bound to be even less fun.

I'm reminded of that issue of X-Factor where Quicksilver tried to explain why he was such an irritable prick: "Tell me… have you ever stood in line at a banking machine behind a person who didn’t know how to use it? Or wanted to buy stamps at the post office, and the fellow in front of you wants to know every single way he can ship his package to Istanbul? Or gotten some counter idiot at Burger King that can’t comprehend ‘Whopper, no pickles? ... Now, imagine... that everyone you work with, everywhere you go… your entire world… is filled with people who can’t work cash machines."

Peter David wrote that. Good stuff. I feel like David never gets his appropriate due. Yes, yes, Mark Millar beat Bryan Hitch with a hose until he started putting black bars around his pages to make it look widescreen, but that... people in tights getting at some aspect of the human condition... that we could use more of.

Speaking of comics, and since October is here with Halloween just around the corner, I highly recommend you go and order Eric and Dave's comic about one of my favorite horror rock outfits, Calabrese. I discovered the Modern Mythology guys and Calabrese separately, so every time I think about this combination a little section of my brain malfunctions and I hear George Costanza screaming "my worlds are colliding!" -- but in a good way. Help all the boys out by getting your name down for a copy today.

And that's two solids you'll be doing -- supporting indie comics and up-and-coming musicians -- in one fell swoop.

I'm not sure what else I'll be getting done this week. I've heard back from my client on the website copy [sort of], and I'm going to have a new book in hand to review either today or tomorrow. But I also have two freshly printed copies of "The Familiar" and "Trendsetter" sitting under my pillow every night. Which if I were actually sleeping on would be very uncomfortable indeed.