"The Comic's Finished." "Surely you can't be serious." "I am serious. And don't call me Shirley."

• Monday, November 29, 2010 3 comments
Yesterday I received an e-mail from Ander with final pages for our short comic, "A Change is Gonna Come." They look absolutely amazing, Ander has really went above and beyond the call of duty, and not patting myself too hard on the back either, but we got a five page comic done in just a little over a week. That's... unbelievable turnover, and really had a lot to do with everything hitting just right, and me having an idea that was just waiting for something like this to come along, and Ander being so unbelievably talented and professional and, without speaking for my partner in this, getting what I was going for so quickly that everything could just be finished with ease, and really look just outstanding.

No clips, thumbnails, or pages yet, though. Going to keep this on the down-low for a bit. It's such a small story that even letting a little out would feel a little spoiler-y -- even though there's not much to spoil, story-wise.

Just want to take a moment, and do a big public "thank you" to Ander. For e-mailing me, for being so receptive to my script, to my changes, to improving upon the layouts and making the changes you did, for not having a problem with the script going from a requested three pages, to a delivered four pages, to an actual five. I'm really happy with what we did together, and I hope there's more work in our future.

And another thank you for Eric. His decision to put "Normal" together was the impetus to this collaboration. Wouldn't have happened without you, and I really appreciate that.

Another thing that's kind of crazy to think about when it comes to this comic? It was basically a collaboration with a perfect stranger, someone across an ocean from me. Without this blog, without Twitter, etc, this kind of project wouldn't have happened. Nice reminder that the world is a lot smaller, and what that can open up.

Now, on a more somber note, as I'm sure probably everyone's heard by now, Leslie Nielsen passed away yesterday. My first memory of any exposure to Nielsen was going to the video store with my Dad, and seeing the comedy section on the far wall, where it seemed like every other tape case had his face on it. I'd eventually watch all those movies, and even run into Nielsen, probably my only casual celebrity run-in [you know, in a setting where I didn't except to see one -- as opposed to them being someone I know's dad, or at a convention]. But when I think back to those VHS tapes on the wall, it really becomes clear why this feels so surprising, because Nielsen was really kind of a comedic institution, and he'd changed so little over the years, and never appeared off his game, even in some of the lesser roles he'd taken recently... it's really sad. And the man was just so talented, and he was in so much, even thinking about him not being here seems weird to me -- like when Jerry Orbach died, there's just so much of their work out there, so easily accessible, it's hard to believe either are gone.


Oh, and if you've only ever seen Nielsen do comedy? Go rent Romero's original Creepshow. He made a pretty good heavy, too.

Anyway, I won't go on and on about it. A lot of other people will, and then a lot of people will probably bitch about little one-off tweets and Facebook notes about his passing. I hope not, really, and hey, if you don't care, if you do find those things annoying... just realize, some of us very much grew up as part of the TV generation, and I know, especially for me, these celebrity deaths do sometimes strike a chord, because these people were like institutions in our homes, feel good movies, or things you could always count on being on cable each Sunday, or on HBO after midnight.

Maybe that does seem sad to some of you, that our third, or fourth parent was the idiot box, but I'm beyond lamenting it, even sort of glad for it, at times [I can hear heads shaking in disgust]. And since we now live in a time where we can live-tweet a bowel movement or dissect a Saturday morning cartoon rerun we downloaded, there are worse ways to use the platform the internet affords each of us than to remember a funny, great man.

Plus Sam, Hannah, and Julia... you girls really made me appreciate Airplane! all over again.

Oh, and one last thing before I go -- Justin has a new post up over on his blog, of another actor I'm a big fan of, in my favorite role they played. Presenting Justin's "Charles Bronson with a Sock Full of Quarters."

Thanksgiving - The Day After [If only there was a retail-related buzz phrase we could call today...]

• Friday, November 26, 2010 2 comments
Day late. Sorry, all I can say is that I wasn't really up to this last night, try though I might.

Some of the things I'm thankful for this year are insanely stupid. The internet, for instance. It's hard for me, you know, to admit this, but in a lot of ways my social life isn't all that different from your run-of-the-mill basement-dweller. I don't see a lot of people in real life, and a lot of my conversations take place in instant messages, or over the phone. It's not all my fault, of course -- this place, this whole state, is starved for counter-culture, starved for regular culture, and if you're not in the shadow of a college town, the internet is really your best bet. Without it, I wouldn't have stumbled on Cobain's K Records Tattoo, I wouldn't have read about The Gits, I wouldn't have this blog.

Without those things, there wouldn't have been the top ten horror lists, the Indie Pop and the Riot Grrrl music, the past couple of weeks absorbed into Sara Marcus's book, Caitlin's friendship, the hours spent with music videos, actual music videos on YouTube, all the little things that have brought me some modicum of joy this past year, and more importantly, the inspiration. Also wouldn't have found Eric and Dave, the Mod Myth guys, which brought Ander to me for this recent project, and got me working on "New Hooverville" again. The list goes on and on, there's so many things I wouldn't have been exposed to, if not for all of this.

And Twitter. Just the privilege, the opportunity, to link so much good work for others, to promote all of the talented individuals I've come to know either in real life or on the internet. And the accessibility, the chance to talk to journalists, and comic people, and fellow bloggers, folks who I'm just so glad to have that line to now.

Plus the opportunity to reconnect, with J'aime, with Amelia, with so many others, while being able to stay in touch with Ian on Skype, and John on Gchat. John, for the company, the proofreading, and being committed to us having at least one hour of quality pro wrestling to watch every week, can't thank you for any of it enough. And to everyone else, who I went to school with, who have been scattered to the far winds, who I've been able to keep in touch with, talk with, not feel like I've lost as a friend. Even if I haven't sat down with them in ages.

And the work -- the work! Every job, every freelance gig I've gotten in the past year, and beyond, has come from Facebook, including my current, semi-regular gig, and as crazy as some of it makes me sometime, I'm glad for that, to have the little bit of income, but more importantly, to have the samples, to be putting in a little work, work I'm able to do with all the other things I have to do. I'll never be the person who says "Being employed makes you a better human being" -- in my case, I think it might actually make me more neurotic, but still. There is something to be said for feeling capable, when a lot of the things you do make you feel lucky to just come up short.

So yeah, it may sound kind of sad to some people to say, but I'm thankful to have this resource. I'm thankful for the wifi. Feel free to call me bourgeois. For this, I'll shoulder that.

Other stupid things... I'm thankful that my hair, as it's grown out, hasn't done that mullet thing. Sure, for now, it looks like I'm shooting to one day rock a Takuya Sugawara-cut, but the honest fact is I'm just glad I haven't had to think about it. Thankful to find all that plaid at Penny's -- your trends are my life. I'm thankful to see "The Walking Dead" on the cover of Entertainment Weekly today -- hopefully, that'll mean I'll have at least a couple seasons of television I actually get excited to watch. I'm thankful Savannah got a chance to get her show, "Huge" on TV, even though it didn't get nearly the life it deserved, because just seeing one of us reach that level of success, that means the world. That's hope. And Savannah getting it proves that some people who have the talent, have the skill, who deserve it, can get that chance. I'm thankful for that.

I said it already, but I'm thankful I got back to working on "New Hooverville" even if it did make me a little crazy. I'm glad I took the time, and dug up the peep show script, thankful a whim turned so quickly into a project. "Nova"... the day the angels fell has become such a big part of my life, and there are nights I don't know what I would have done without the chance to get lost in working on that. And I'm thankful for the people who reached out, or who were receptive when I reached out to them, and took a look at all of it for me -- I'm really thankful for the feedback.

And then there's the important stuff. Our health. I've had less panic attacks this past year than I used to have in a week. Is there more work to be done? Sure, but I'm okay being this okay, at least for right now. And my grandmother's went longer between hospital visits than she has in a long time and, knock on wood, she'll go longer still.

I want to thank those who have been kind to me in the past year, too, including Julia and Hannah [it was so nice to see you guys again], and Julia's family, her mom, her dad, and her sister Anna [her brother too, though just for the one night... busy guy], who put me up in Hull, and let me have one of the best weekends I'd had in... well, a very long time. To Sam, and her parents, Lauri and Ruben, who even after so long still treat me like family. And speaking of families, my friend Ben, who is starting his own, and I am so happy he's starting it with someone like Sarah. I miss you Ben.

While I'm talking about families, I'm so glad Dave and Carrie's wedding went off without a hitch. And I'm so thankful Justin and Staci have each other, especially as they're two people who I think really need each other in some ways, in good ways of course. They're engagement was a surprise, but a pleasant one. For their happiness, I'm thankful. For all my friends' happiness.

Family. You know, it's hard for me, to talk about this. I was really... I was one of those naive kids who bought into this whole togetherness around the holidays thing. And it was hard for me, growing up, seeing things pull apart like they did, through divorce, through people just growing apart, through just the natural isolation-focused mindset of those in my family, to not see those Thanksgivings with loads of people and tons of food, and laughter, and stories, and a slight undercut of annoyance that makes us glad that we have a whole month until Christmas gets here, and we have to do it again. That's not my life, that's not for me, and I don't know if it ever will be. I think the likelihood is pretty slim, especially when you consider how little it matters when it really comes down to one day having a family of your own.

And pity knows if I'll even have that, right?

But it was still difficult. And I think, over time, especially now, especially after college, and giving up the house, and knowing that Thanksgiving wasn't going to be an "event" anymore, and after losing Dad, though I'd be lying if I said I didn't start this before then -- I tried to make this holiday something that didn't matter. Because the honest fact is that if you make something not matter as much, then when it comes it can't let you down.

Thanksgiving snuck up on me this year. I hardly thought of it as it came, and as I sat there in Shoney's, eating some weird turkey-gravy combination and listening to my Grandmother and her friend talk about... well, not much at all, I realized I'd more or less succeeded. That this meal could have been anything, anywhere, and even with anyone, and it didn't really matter anymore.

I still felt let down... but this time, not because the holiday hadn't turned out like I wanted it to. It was because I succeeded. Made the day not matter at all. What an accomplishment, eh? What a great thing to be proud of. I was wrong, you know? Better to be let down by falling short of your expectations, than to be let down by achieving them.

Thankful to find that out this year. Maybe I can't fix it. But I can make Christmas count. Or at least try. And maybe next year, nothing will change, but... fuck it. I'll come back here and mope about it. At least then, I'll have known it will matter.

I hate post like these. Feels like amateur hour. But they're important, I think.

Finally, I want to say how thankful I am to everyone who reached out yesterday, who sent texts, who sent me messages on Facebook, @s on Twitter, who just said hello, and "Happy Thanksgiving." That was really appreciated, more than I can begin to describe, and I just want to say thank you. Some of you, it'd even be nice to say a lot more. And I probably will. But here is not the forum.

Back to business as usual soon. I have a small deadline this weekend, 1/4 of a gallon of apple cider, and couple of things coming up at the end of the month.

Best to all.

Comics in my Inbox

• Wednesday, November 24, 2010 0 comments
Big movement on the comic with Ander. Had a bunch of sketches and layouts in my inbox this morning, and just couldn't stop smiling for the rest of the day.

First of all, cannot begin to express how impressed I am with the artist. Ander is incredibly talented, really professional, and savvy enough to point out some of the problems with the proposed layouts in my script. Which, though it may sound surprising, I'm really glad he felt comfortable doing. It's actually why I script the way I do -- the whole simple 4-5 panels per page thing was a trick I picked up reading about how Dan Jolley and James Robinson liked to script for Tony Harris [no idea if Vaughn also employed this with Ex Machina... but damn, that would be cool]. It's fairly useful, as I'm sure Justin can probably attest, as it gives the artist as much leeway as they need to layout the page -- if it can get done in four panels, wonderful, if you need as many as the Gibbons Nine, go nuts.

Number of pages have swelled a bit too, which I also think is a good sign. Ander asked for three, I did up four, and in the end my four page script looked a whole lot better as five. And the only reason I shoved as much as I did into only four pages was because of the time crunch, which from the level of completion Ander's layouts have, I don't think will be a problem at all.

Without gushing too much, this has been great. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad to have gotten back to doing more prose, I love blogging, and screenwriting might well be my go-to medium. But I love comics. I grew up with comics, and no matter what I'm writing, while I may not be picturing a page, I am most definitely picturing that moment frozen in a panel. It is as much a part of me, as much a part of my passion as that weird, rhythmic dialogue I'm always chasing. And just like when Justin sends me pages from Calamity Cash, it was so good to have this e-mail, with these .jpgs with my words in comic form, and these characters, Mia and Ben, that I saw in my head just on the page [and I didn't even give much description for the characters to Ander, and still, it was like "Yes! Yes, that is exactly what they should look like!"].

It don't get to do comics as often as I'd like, because it is really hard pinning down an artist to that sort of commitment. But every time I do, there is just this freshman rush of excitement. I don't know if that will ever go away. Twain tells me it will. Don't see a lot of blog posts from Grant Morrison or interviews with Alan Moore where they rave like this.

I've gained a lot of ground when it comes to being jaded. But I'm young yet, nothing wrong with enjoying this feeling while I still can.

And big thanks to the Modern Mythology guys. If not for Eric's zine, I doubt Ander would have even contacted me in the first place.

It's been Thanksgiving for about 30 minutes now, though if you were on the internet at all today, you might think everyone is having it Wednesday instead. At least if felt that way to me. Very disturbing for someone who felt like it came on too fast... and I don't even really have plans.

Probably be another entry tomorrow. Thanksgiving day posts have happened before, after all, and it seems a shame to break with tradition.

For the love of the first draft.

• Tuesday, November 23, 2010 0 comments
Work marches steadily along. Finished up "New Hooverville," at least for now.

Mixed feelings from that. There's a spontaneity, a magic to any first draft. I don't mean to imply there's some great quality to them -- there usually isn't, and they tend to be messy, clumsy, and riddled with typos. But nevertheless, when I hit that stride, when I get into that "zone" I've mentioned before, and actually get everything in my head that wants out and on the page
out and on the page, there's a satisfaction in it that goes far beyond just the feeling of being finished, or the feeling like you got something temporary into a steadier, more permanent place.

Hard to pin down, and I imagine most writers would probably chock it up to laziness. Not wanting to proofread, not wanting to acknowledge mistakes that have been made. Maybe. I always thought of it more like a live concert -- seeing that band you love play, on that one night where they play the new song that they just wrote, that will be on the next album, and the lead was sick, and the drum set was borrowed, and everything sounded a little more raw, a little more real than it does six months later when that CD drops, and you play the pre-recorded version in the comfort of your own home. It's sloppy, not what the artist would probably want to be remembered for, and far from that artistic perfection that the bulk of us chase. But it's special.

First drafts feel like that to me sometimes, and some of them, especially the ones that I really liked writing the first time around, when it felt like everything was firing right, even though it wasn't....those are hard to get back into. Tear stuff out of, delete stuff, rephrase stuff, rearrange, and make... well, sensible. Good. Or, if you're really lucky, just better. And I've spent entirely too much time on this blog, with my exercises, etc, trying to chase down that perfect first draft, where in one setting I can just go "and... done!" and then present the world with this thing that has been pulled out of my ear like Athena, perfect and beautiful and fully formed. It's a dream, but still I sleep.

Metaphorically speaking, of course.

"New Hooverville" held the distinction of being something I was very proud of right away, because it said something, and it was in a voice that made what I was saying palatable. A couple of people, whose opinions I value very highly, spoke well of it early on after my posting it here, and did so often. And that also meant a lot. Getting back into these past few weeks has been unpleasant... every "improvement" felt like the opposite of improvement, like I was losing the voice, the style, the message. And to some degree I probably did. To get back to the music reference, I've never heard a Peel Session that was better than the artist's first album [actually, most Peel Sessions are live-to-tape, which would contradict my earlier statement, but let's stick to the "first time's magic" train of thought for the sake of argument and to keep me from looking like a total jackass]. That first time, you just have "it," and then later, you sacrifice that "it" feeling for technical proficiency, with time, experience, and better polish.

And for writing, there's no underselling the importance of that. Also, making sure you use the right who's or whose. But, since most writers are already drilled with "revision, revision, revision," allow me to be the dissenting voice for just a minute, and say revising to the point that whatever you're working on doesn't have the magic of that first draft, well that's insane, and is going to show just as bad as any typo.

Okay, not just as bad. Idiocy will always be attacked more readily when there's a resource to back it up, and Strunk and White never did a book on keeping the magic in a piece, and there's not an AP resource for maintaining the spirit of your first draft. And there's a good likelihood that what you start with is not going to be what you end up with, so you never want to be so beholden to your first words on the page that you can't get your piece to that better place. But still.

I felt a lot like I was gutting myself trying to revise "New Hooverville." It's not a new feeling, but it is a slightly less common one for me these days. During the process, I felt a little sick, like I was ruining it. Now, with some distance, I think it's in a good place -- it's better than the original, and a little more approachable, a lot cleaner, but I don't believe it's lost anything that made me get so attached in the first place. I mean, I hope.

Anyway, apologies for the rambling sentimentality. Just how I cope with finishing something, no matter how small. I've also made a few fixes to some problem spots in the peep show script -- few post-modern influenced lines of dialogue really needed to go. Still, I'd like to get it down to ten pages or under [it's at ten and a half now], and there's a bit at the end I haven't found the best way to make work. But a few copies are in people's hands already [Adria, Laurenne], so we'll call that a work in progress.

And I should have a little more news about the collaboration with Ander in the next couple of days.

More soon.

Trust.

• Friday, November 19, 2010 2 comments
This has been a day.

Few quick things.

Last night, around the middle of the evening, I got an e-mail from an Illustrator in Spain, interested in doing a short comic for Eric's zine, and worried his English wouldn't be quite strong enough for an American audience. Deadline for Eric's zine is only a few weeks away, but the illustrator [named Ander Sarabia -- website here], said they could work fast if I could get together a two-to-three page script quickly enough. I didn't have anything nearly that short, but have had a few ideas kicking around in the margins of my moleskin [boy, that sounds dirty], and I figured I'd take today, take some of my notes and make something coherent out of them, and if Ander was still interested, give it a go. I couldn't see any reason not to take a leap of faith on it, and since I always have a lot of raw stuff to work from, I figured I could come up with a three page comic script pretty easy.

Of course, my grandmother's nuts also arrived today.

Quick background, because I've only explained this a few hundred times. My grandmother sells bulk nuts, candies, and various trail mixes through a program not unlike some fund-raiser you probably participated in during high school. It takes very little overhead, and enough people around here need the nuts for ingredients, or the candies and mixes for Christmas gifts, so it's a pretty profitable gig, even when you figure that my grandmother sells her for not much more than cost. Nevertheless, it is a very big job on the day they arrive, with lots of stockroom-like duties, from stacking boxes and opening boxes, to organizing orders, and though not always on the same day [today on the same day], to delivering said orders to local patrons.

Allow me to take a moment and be the first person on the internet ever to pat himself on the back; nuts and script delivered, all in the same day. I am officially the strangest specialized business on earth. Randall's Peanuts and Comics -- franchising soon.

Put some work into the peep show script. Somewhere, there is a very good re-write to a least a couple of places of problem dialogue. I really need to get a better filing system than "paper I have on my person at any given time." Until I find my rewrites, there is a moratorium on washing any clothing with pockets.

I consider this incentive.

Ian also sent me some feedback, for which I am very grateful. At this point, I'm just keenly interested in seeing what people get out of reading the script, what they expect, what they don't, what they feel, and just how and who they relate to in it. Of the three people I've talked to, I've gotten some good insight, but no one has been so forthright as to tell me they liked it or they didn't. I might yet need to show it to more people, but honestly, there's still time, and I'm so close to getting a draft of this thing that I'm pleased with, I may just wait. Still, if you're interested, let me know. I'm not going to turn you down.

"New Hooverville" is almost finished. My friend Ally took a look at it, mostly taking care of the grammatical errors which I find I overlook too easily because of the manic, Thompson-esque voice I used to write it. One of my professors at Bennington, who edited for Thompson, said a lot of his work was sort of reassembled by editors after the fact, so I have no qualms about someone with a better handle on the style guide taking a run at it. It was a lot of help, and now "Hooverville" is pretty much done, save for one paragraph that I just can't seem to get right. I'm going to take another run at it tomorrow, but I want it done and sent off by Saturday. Because self-imposed deadlines are always healthy, and in no way, shape, or form early warning signs of OCD.

To the few of my readers who are likely more qualified for this than me. Savannah [of "Huge" fame] posted this link on her Facebook page, to the blog Style Rookie. I was aware of the blog, but not a regular reader, but this call for submissions for a new-age version of Sassy intrigued me. Why? I can't give a solid reason, other than the fact that despite being a female-driven publication, Sassy has come up a lot in things I've been reading lately, and the superstitious side of me decided to take this a sign. They're taking submissions until tomorrow [oops], and perhaps because it feels like a publication I wouldn't quite fit in with, I decided to send them some writing samples. I'm really not expecting anything from it, but I do want to keep an eye on the project.

I'd be lying if I said some of it didn't have to do with my currently reading Girls to the Front by Sara Marcus. I'm going to admit, I'm really using the book, and the Riot Grrrl movement in general to try and give myself a fighting chance of finally, really getting into a good place with feminism. The past few years I've been calling myself a feminist, I've been doing the reading about feminism, but the honest fact is I'm self-teaching, and not really "getting it." The recent reissue of "The Second Sex" thoroughly kicked my ass before I had a chance to even get an inkling of what was going on in it. But I want to be better. I want to learn. More importantly, I have the time to learn, and I think with good note-taking and close reading, I might be able to turn a few hours in my day into a chance to be more than an arm-chair enthusiast as it concerns certain topics, not just limited to feminism. Gender, as a topic, interests me. But so does music. And I've forgotten way too many things from my film history class.

If I can't be a student right now, I'm going to try to be one hell of a non-student.

Speaking of Sara Marcus, I recently started following her on Twitter, something that just didn't occur to me to do despite the giant lower-case "t" on the Girls to the Front website page. I was pleasantly surprised when Marcus opted to follow me back. I realize, of course, it's just Twitter, and "it doesn't really matter," but that book is a big part of my life these past several weeks, and the music it's about has been one of the things that's kept me going in... I'm hesitant to give a proper name to this shit-storm of a period in my life until it's over, but the point stands when I got that e-mail about being followed by her on Twitter I geeked out pretty hard.

You should do her a solid for giving yours truly a chance, and go buy her book. It's pretty awesome, and I'm going through it with a fine tooth comb, so I'd know.

On the subject of books, after one of the longer hiatuses I've had, I've finally gotten a new book in the mail to review. Kind of worked out perfectly, just as I'm getting so close to polishing off all this writing, I get a little paying work again. Small favors.

End of November is shaping up to be interesting. Final deadline for Eric's zine is then, plus I'll hear back about that contest I entered "Nova" in. And who knows what else? I guess Thanksgiving's in there somewhere.

I haven't even had time to shower. I feel gross.

Postcards from Arizona, Ink Stains, New SMAF...

• Monday, November 15, 2010 0 comments
I got this in the mail from my friend J'aime Chatfield just before the weekend:

The picture on the front is the Camelback Inn in Scottsdale, Arizona. J'aime has recently landed a sweet gig which provides for plenty of travel, and she was sweet enough to think of me and drop me a postcard from the state which spawned my favorite early-90s alternative bands, along with two of my favorite mad up-and-coming comic book geniuses, and a certain cake shop waitress who is way too willing to listen to me wax philosophically about Law and Order from time to time.

Not satisfied being just an extremely talented photographer and high-powered career woman, J'aime opted to give me a run for my money as master word-smith and world-class flatterer:

"Hi Pal, I hope everything is going very well with you in WV and I hope to hear from you soon (though I know you're bizzee). As you know, I'm in the west, talking to cacti and getting parties planned by the pool. When my life finally gets (rightfully) televised - I'll have you on team writing new, impossible scenarios. In between writing your own memoirs, bien sur! Affectionately, j'aime."

Man, if this was Earth-2, I would have some mad favors banked. Owlman would also be trying to kill me, though, so I guess I'm okay where I am now.

It was a really nice of J'aime to send me this -- I've been feeling disconnected lately, not getting much in the way of mail, not a lot of phone calls, bulk of my time has been spent writing or running errands. Most of my communications have been almost entirely online, which I am not complaining about at all, as I'm glad for the company no matter what the venue, but it's certainly nice to get a small reminder you exist outside of cyberspace.

Seriously, I heard someone say "mojo" in the grocery store checkout the other day, and turned my head as if I'd just been called by name.

And since I've already spoken to her, and thanked her as much in person as I can from here to Maine, I thought I might pass along some links. In the past, I'm sure you've all seen me name check her travel blog, in transito, in the past, but I also would be remiss if I didn't show off her tumblr delle altre cose [spell check is flipping out at this sentence], along with her online photography portfolio. It's all amazing stuff, can't recommend it enough.

I'm still writing, working on both the peep show script, and "New Hooverville." My grandmother's bulk nut orders weren't delivered today, so what looked like a busy Monday on paper wound up being a lot of "will-they-or-won't-they-show-up" sitting around. Which was just fine by me, as it gave me time to actually print off a copy of "Hooverville" and make some changes the old fashioned way -- with a Bic pen and a clipboard.

Honestly, this is how I prefer to edit, but I've been trying to go paper-free [or, I guess, "paper lite"] for some time now. With scriptwriting, a few drafts of a feature can easily blow through a ream of paper and a lot of printer ink, both of which are very expensive and not so great for the environment. Still, old habits, and three pages isn't so damaging. Hilariously, even with some of the tweaking I've been doing on the short before printing off, I still wound up with pages that look like this:

Click to enlarge. Not the best quality, but as you can tell, lot of fresh ink on those pages -- almost as much as I ended up with on my hands. Seriously, it looks like I got to second base with a printmaker's daughter.

Moving on before you realize that simile doesn't really make sense, while I've been sort of sequestered to my own projects, I've missed a couple of the Brainwrap crew's newest "Seth Martin and Friends" shorts. The first is "The Piano Lesson," where Norman gives the neighborhood kids some musical pointers. Norman's one of my favorite characters of the show, so I highly recommend this one:



The second is "Game Day," which has the eponymous Seth and his equally eponymous friends engaging in some good old sandlot football. According to the official SMAF Facebook page this is actually an older short which needed some last minute post work that was delayed, but I think it holds up just as well as its newer peers.




If you enjoy these, make sure you you add "Seth Martin and Friends" on Facebook, and subscribe to their YouTube Channel.

According to Kyle they still have several scripts in the works, so I haven't gotten any notes on the screenplay I did for them, and imagine it'll still be a little bit. I actually wrote a second for them recently, just scrawled out while I was running errands one day, that was a little Sesame Street-esque with Norman as a Sherlock Holmes-style detective and Seth as his Watson. The problem is, I've since misplaced it, another reason going paperless isn't exactly the worst policy. I've even tried taking a run at writing it over, but it's really hard to recreate the magic. Hopefully, it'll turn up on its own, even though I'm not sure it'd fit anymore, having seen some more Norman since writing it.

Hoping to have some solid final or close-to-final drafts of the peep show script and "Hooverville" in the next couple of days. Of course, a lot of this will depend on whether or not a hundred pounds of cashews are dropped on my door step tomorrow.

Cheers.

Yeah, So. [Venting.]

• Thursday, November 11, 2010 3 comments
"So. Nothing popular is good."

"Yeah."

"So things that are unpopular are good."

"Not necessarily. Some are. Usually, if they're controversial."

"So controversial things are good."

"Yeah, as long as they're not controversial just for the sake of controversy. Anyone can do that."

"So that's bad."

"Right. If anyone can do it, what's the point?"

"So what does that leave?"

"Other than things that are legit controversial? Well, underground things. Things that nobody's heard of. "

"So things that nobody's heard of are good?"

"Yeah."

"So, how do we know?"

"Oh, you know. Some people have heard of them."

"So they're just not popular, but they're not unpopular."

"Yeah. But not everything like that is good. You don't want to get too up your own ass about it. People who only like things no one else has heard of... all of those things can't be good."

"So then there are popular things that... aren't that popular?"

"Well. There are underrated things. Things that are known, but don't get the press they deserve. The unsung things. Under the radar kind of shit."

"So underrated things. Underrated things are good."

"Some of them, yeah. But it's also possible they're underrated for a reason. Maybe they're just average."

"So average is bad?"

"Oh, yeah. I mean, good is good, and at least something bad, something really bad, if it's spectacularly bad, can be impressive. But nothing's worse than average. Then it's just mediocre."

"So... wait. Bad things can be good?"

"Yeah. Especially if they're so bad they're funny. Or if something knows it's bad. Ironically bad -- that can be good."

"So irony is good."

"If it's bad."

"So if it's good, it's bad."

"By very definition."

"So how can you even tell when something is good?"

"Well, some people think you just know. Instinctively. Like, you hear it, you see it -- it hits you, and it's instant. You just know. But others think this is fleeting, that this kind of good can wear off, let you down. Which makes it bad."

"So you need some distance."

"Yeah. Some time to live with it, get to know it. You get perspective on the thing, and then you know if it's good."

"So then, the classics. We can know they're good."

"You mean all that old, unrelatable crap? Yeah, right."

Six hours.

• Wednesday, November 10, 2010 5 comments
So here's a fun sentence: There's a downside to being a depressive.

Dare I say, there might even be more than one.

I'm struggling a lot with the peep show script. My big problem, the one I talked about before, was that I'd ended up with two drafts of the script -- fixing this is universally easy in most cases, and Hollywood does it all the time. You pass the damn thing out to a willing few and find out what they liked better, what they thought worked, and then you decide if what they're saying is what you've known all along and just needed to hear from someone else, you move forward. If you patently disagree, and it strengthens your resolve to the other draft, well -- the process still served it's purpose. And without that test audience?

You guess.

I didn't really want to guess. Even though I haven't been working on this piece very long, I've hit that "zone" on a couple of occasions, that place where you shut out the real world, where what goes on in the real world just doesn't matter, because dammit, you're not living there right now. And while that is zero indication of any sort of quality, it's always a fair nod to me that I actually care about what I'm working on. So it's officially become more important than my best judgment.

Still, I've been really reticent to pass this around, as it's pretty dark, heavy-shit and since I'm already considered something of a downbeat, it would be easy for people to dismiss it out of hand. There's not a lot of my usual padding that lets me get away with the dark, heavy-shit in the script -- the gallows humor, the sarcasm, the deadpanning, very little of any of that. It's left me self-conscious, a kind of self-conscious I've touched on before, has a lot to do with my peers. I'm not the light-hearted writer, I can't get away with breaking from my routine to do a relatively humorless piece about torture, and I'm not the ingenious sexpot who shifts her allure into darker territory. And that's not a knock to anyone, and I'm sure they have their own stumbling blocks.

But me, I'm the downbeat depressive [as much as I can bear to categorize myself], and getting dark, heavy-shit from me could easily wander into "dude in guyliner and a black trench coat reading poetry about death" territory. Or at least I worry it could. Call it blow back from years of getting shit for my sunnier disposition.

Anyway, I sucked it up and showed it to John, hard to do because if there was anyone less tolerant of dark, heavy-shit, it's probably him, but I wasn't ready to spread it around to a bunch of folks yet. And if you have to get just one opinion, John's is, in my experience, usually one of the best ways to go. So with a little feedback I have my one draft now, which is helpful because it means polishing isn't done on two separate scripts, avoiding a minor headache and a huge chance for stupid mistakes to be made, and cool things to be lost.

In contrast, "New Hooverville" has been more like working on Nova, as there's no self-consciousness, maybe because it's already out there, but more likely because I've put so much time into it already. The prospect, even the possibility of getting it a wider audience, getting the piece in more people's hands, is really appealing to me, and a good incentive to look at it. Though making cuts has been harder than I expected. I may be getting too hung up on the rhythm of the piece... one of those cases where you have to decide if what's important to you is really all that important to the story.

Still, it's funny. Only being comfortable when I'm outside my comfort zone.


Something else, tangentially related. Justin has a new blog post up, with an older sketch and some talk about the time he takes with a page, while looking at what one of the bigger names in the industry proper thinks is good time to make. It's a good entry on the creative process, and well worth the look. Plus, it looks like Justin will be relaunching his website soon.

This week has the prospect of being a little odd, busy. Spent yesterday cleaning out the storage room for my grandmother. Not sure if I've mentioned this before, but she sells those bulk nuts and candies that schools sometimes do for fund-raisers -- last year she sort of swore she was done, but I think having me to help get them organized and delivered before made doing it again feel doable to her. It's actually pretty rewarding, but also a fairly big job, so I hope I don't end up in time crunch as the end of the month gets closer. But I'm glad to help... I think most people would be okay working in a stock room from the comfort of their own home.

The inherent glamor that is my life.

• Thursday, November 4, 2010 0 comments
So something died under the house.

I do most of my writing/computer-ing on the couch.

Yes, I realize some of you probably do your computer-ing from other places. Maybe you have desk. Maybe an office. Maybe you write in the bathroom. Maybe you have a paying job, a rent-controlled apartment, no roommate and the self-esteem that comes with knowing that you look rad pantless, thus opening up a whole range of places you could do your typing. But me, I have a couch.

Anyway, said dead thing used to be a live thing, and I think I first became aware of it a few weeks back, when I realized I could hear what sounded like digging and scratching underneath the couch. Usually, this is nothing wrong, as the poodle my grandmother owns -- the one who refuses to let me pet her, even after 2 years here, and takes great pleasure in leaving messes for me on all the rugs in the house when she's bored -- likes to crawl under the sofa, so she's able to keep track of me without me being able to keep track of her. But after a certain time in the evening, the poodle is usually sectioned off to my grandmother's bedroom, to stem her like-clockwork barking cued by me going to the bathroom, the kitchen, or speaking out loud. So whatever was underneath me wasn't her.

Now, I'm a paranoid type. I used to live in a small, well over 100 year old house [more like an Evil Dead-style cabin in the woods] and had my share of creepy crawlies. Not for nothing, but now when I see a rat? The resulting squeal is far from earsplitting. So I was ready, and when I pulled the couch away from the wall, I did half-expect something to go darting across the room.

But no. Nothing.

Ear to the carpet, I figured whatever was under there was really under there, like past the duct work, probably on the ground, and probably not something that would hang around all winter. So I forgot about it. If it could get under there, certainly it could get out from under there.

A lesser man might see this a parable about the downfalls of a "wait-and-see" attitude.

So whatever it was, badger, possum, stray cat, mouse... it's dead now, and still under the house, and in the same place it used to spend its days scurrying about. Which is great for it, but since there's also a vent in that part of the house, from out of the best source of heat and cold for our major living area, billows the foul smell of death. Which, really, is just peachy, isn't it? Somewhere, out there in the universe, some great power looked at the glamor and prestige that is my existence, and decided that along with everything else, I should get the chance to smell like decay.

Scented candles and dryer sheets stretched over the vents do nothing.

That aside, I've kept my schedule from the previous post. Election drivel provided good background noise for writing, and I've finished a couple of new drafts for my so far untitled script. What I actually ended up doing was two different versions of the script, one with more from the female character, and one much closer to the original bit I wrote, which left her a little less fleshed out, but with touch more room for the reader to infer things about her character. I'm not sure which version I prefer yet. It's hard to let go of that magic and flow in the first draft, and there's something about the setting that makes knowing less about her feels like the more realistic way to go. But it's also set in a peep show booth, so short-changing my female protagonist is not something I want to do on purpose.

Another thing I did, today and this evening, was work out ways to make the piece more "filmable" -- just basically bring my setting down into the "affordable zone" if this were filmed. My original setting was based on a sort of "Walmart" of porn that I read about in Cody's book, a really interesting mental image that may have spurred on the writing of the piece in the first place [knowing where characters are going to interact can take you a long way]. I kept my old version of course, because I think, dynamically speaking, the larger and more sterile place I originally chose would look more interesting on a page [though comic script or screenplay, I tend to envision things in panels anyway]. But I like things grungier too, so maybe these changes are for the better.

Eventually, I'm going to have to shift to that Alan Moore part of my brain and decide just what medium I'd prefer this in -- possibly which it would work better in. But I kind of just want to work on something, get it out there, so I may have to go with how I can have it made, as opposed to how I want to have it made. Which is a blow, but let's face it -- if I can't find an interested artist, I can still send a script off to various short writing competitions, something I can't do all paneled-out.

So, staying open minded. Now, after five days on and off focused on this kind of unpleasant thing, I think I'm going to try and put some distance between me and it, maybe see if anyone wants to read it in the meantime.

Oh. Page count is 10, or 12 for the longer version.

God, it smells foul and sour in here.

Well, it won't be called "The Filth and the Fury."

• Tuesday, November 2, 2010 2 comments
Because I just remembered that was the name of a Sex Pistols documentary I saw once.

I'd like to start with a poem.

"Sometimes I want to write, and have nothing to say;
but I'll write something anyway."

It's really obvious I wrote banging poetry in high school, isn't it?

How was everyone's holiday? I'm not much for Halloween, and never really got a solid opportunity to go shopping for the little things I needed to put together my Day of the Dead Scott Pilgrim costume [that's from volume 5, y'all]. Which was fine, even if I had managed to finish it off, I don't think I had any reason to wear it. There was supposed to be a party on Saturday night, but it was a couple hours away from me, and I didn't hear from anyone about it, so I'm not even sure if it went down. I expect my Facebook feed will let me know in the next couple of days.

Saturday was fairly busy anyway -- in my previous post I mentioned an older piece of work I wanted to put together for the blog, like that Trendsetter excerpt I wound up putting up last week. So I resolved to dig that up, transcribe it to a Word file, and fix what would, no doubt, be the multitude of errors present on something I'd probably scribbled out while half awake. I found it at the bottom of a pile of old, slightly moldy [whoops] legal pads, whose cheap binding had sort of... melded together into a kind of super notebook. That refused to open without a straight razor.

Not that I was about to let that stop me.

What I remembered from writing the piece previously was that it was a fairly simple bit of back and forth dialogue between a stripper and one of her customers. I wish I could say it was some clever conceit, thought up because I was getting sick of the whole Sopranos-esque "talking to the shrink" thing [popular and lazy!] and wanted to put a different spin on it, but I doubt seriously that was my intent. More likely, I think I'd had the idea for a long time before it even got down on paper, going at least as far back as the Hollywood Writer's Strike, maybe just before the Oscars, when I'd purchased Diablo Cody's autobiography as a show of literary solidarity. Plus, Juno was interesting to me, and I was curious about the kind of person who'd written it.

What I found was more or less what I remembered, but with one caveat -- there were a lot more scene descriptions than I recalled putting in it. Actually, that's misleading, since if you actually looked at the page, most people would only see minimal notes around the dialogue that wouldn't seem of any great importance. But two years ago I had less free time, and trusted myself a lot more, and each of these little tics and weird notes I recognized as a kind of subliminal shorthand I used to work in. The idea being that I would see a mention of this thing, or that, coupled with what the characters on the page were saying, and it would act as a kind of cue, something that would remind me of what I meant and make me go "oh, yeah -- this means that, and needs to be that, and this is happening in the background here."

It was a flawed system that I don't really use nowadays, especially since I'd sometimes miss my own cues, and end up scratching my head as to why I'd scrawled the word "Godard" after a particularly long chunk of monologue. And if there's anyone who I'm not trying to out-clever, it's myself. At least, I don't think.

Saturday night eventually turned into Sunday morning/day, and I was still pretty hard at work on something that I'd abandoned originally because "no artist would ever want to draw it -- nobody would ever want to film it." And the script I ended up turning it into just doesn't translate well to being posted here... even though I said I was going to do that, and the general feeling that no one's ever going to want to do anything with this also makes me want to put it somewhere, so that someone might enjoy it. So I'm not entirely sure what I'm going to do.

The piece is also still a little light [re: not finished yet], but it's also fairly distracting subject matter, so I opted to give myself a break. Especially since I wanted to enjoy "The Walking Dead" premiere on Sunday night. But that's done [and awesome], and after voting tomorrow and running a few errands, I'll more than likely get back to looking at it. The promised Wednesday post might not be happening anymore, though. Maybe later in the week if I can figure out some sort of artful way to put something like that on here.

Speaking of last week's story, I've been getting a few visitors from JM Strother's Mad Utopia. "Not the First Conversation They Shouldn't of Had" has shown up on the #fridayflash master list as a romance [I don't disagree... I just get a laugh from associating that word with myself]. I owe this entirely to one of my best friends and most talented peers, John Wiswell -- #fridayflash is one of his passions, something he's heavily involved in, and told me that he'd be putting it up there. I can't even begin to thank you for all the support, John. But I can say thank you. Sincerely, thank you.

And if you're just finding the blog, and only looking for fiction, check out the handful posts labeled "Method and Madness." Those will likely be right up your alley.

Another neat, Twitter-related thing. My friend Glen recently did [and sold] a Halloween-themed piece of artwork featuring local newscasters Tim Irr and Tony Cavalier. After posting it on Twitter, I got an almost immediate response from Irr, praising the work, and saying he wished he could have bought it himself. Big congratulations to Glen.

Also over the weekend was the big "Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear" hosted by the Daily Show and the Colbert Report in Washington, DC. I think I was pretty well in full-on writing mode while it was going on [or possibly sleeping... things are hazy], so I haven't seen or heard much of the rally itself, save of course for the award given to the recently-blogged-about Mick Foley, for his work with the RAINN organization [just... amazing, and well deserved. Kind of great how the heel wrestler who used to scare the hell out of me as a kid is such an honest, nice guy]. But there's been a lot talk, and debate, and I've spent a minute here, and minute there reading various things about the rally, and thought I might share a few of the most interesting [and different] takes on the event: Lucid Despair's "The Rally to Restore Visibility" and Tiger Beatdown's "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Rally." Found these particularly interesting because they're not coming directly from media outlets, nor are they from what most would consider the bread and butter for the Daily Show crew. A warning though, to the few of you who might get a little worked up about someone looking at the rally critically -- both articles are a little contentious.

Oft-linked and very much enjoyed blogger Hannah Miet also attended, and live tweeted from the event all day. I'd suggest going through her archives for some of the high points -- when I would come up for air occasionally, they brought me a great deal of joy.

Finally, everyone, if you vote, if you can vote, vote tomorrow [I guess, technically, today]. I mean, don't get me wrong, I am not one of those people who think not voting somehow robs you of certain rights, even if those are just the rights to bitch about the way things turn out, and I've even skipped an election once since I've been able to vote because up and down the ballot I could easily call all the winners. But this election, at least in my area, isn't one of those.

Me, personally, I'm tossing on my best revolution flannel come sun up and heading out to try and put a wooden stake through the heart of the mad-corporate, almost imperialistic John Raese's bid for Robert C. Byrd's now vacant senate seat. Because as far as I'm concerned, if you're going to even try to follow someone with Byrd's record of public service, you might actually want to get a person whose interest is serving the public.

That's all I'll say. I've been trying to keep the political junkie side of myself under control lately, mostly because it seemed like some kind of sign that my schedule only freed up for that kind of thing mere days before the election. Still a little superstition in me, I guess.

To paraphrase William Trevor: "pass for mad, and be at peace."