Obscenely busy week. In its way.

• Sunday, October 30, 2011 0 comments
Actually, that's only half true. I think at least one day was left solely to dicking around.

No progress has been made on the clutter, and I have failed - failed! - to type up that thing I said might show up... day before yesterday. I am remarkably ashamed of myself, almost as much as I am unmotivated. But if you pile on the unmotivated shame, it I think general pity and self-doubt win the day.

Or as the Randall Nichols status quo is concerned: "God's in his heaven, all's right with the world."

This week has been all about the nut orders - I may have mentioned this before, but my grandmother sells bulk nuts seasonally - peanuts, cashews, mixed nuts, and various other dry goods, your gummy bears, Bridge Mix, granola, lots of other stuff covered in chocolate. The sort of things you might have sold for fund-raising in school, but she actually turns a small profit on it, and has a pretty dedicated clientèle. Dedicated enough that despite claiming each year was her last, she still manages to clear about the same number of orders.

And all told, I don't mind the work. There's something about playing the collection agent and the delivery boy, there's something... I wouldn't call it satisfying, but it's not like other work I've done. It's like the book reviews - it's tolerable, sometimes even enjoyable. Strange, and not how I typically think of work. But I can't hate everything, I guess, right?

I also have a cat, now. A three year old rescue, named Loki. Well, it was just "Ki" but that was because it was the only sound he'd respond to [I'm guessing because of "kitty"], but a one syllable pet name, that just can't stand. He's a long hair, black and gray... a real sweetheart, though a little jittery, as you'd expect for cat who has been uprooted and kept at a vet's around dogs for so long. It's only day four with him, but I think he's settling in well.

It's weird. I have... a part time job [nothing extravagant, or even enough of anything to hold anything in the way of finances up], a cat, a new, amazing woman in my life. Of course, there are other things that can improve, and will. Even though I'd rather not, I'm going to try and pick up driving this fall, and even though I'm not putting a lot of money back, I'm holding at a comfortable place, for the first time in my life. Not "oh god, oh god, I need an operation or I'm gonna die" comfortable, but... ah, I don't worry about it quite like I did. And yeah, I really wish that I could catch up on some of these correspondences that I've fallen so far behind on, and I want to thank everyone who has written, who has been in touch, and who hasn't been able to get a hold of me. I haven't forgotten any of them, and they're all amazing, and writing, talking to them, it makes everything better, but I'm just playing catch up. I wish I had more time, too, to maybe get a little more involved in the Occupy movement - if, for no other reason, than to sit and talk with some of the people, students, ex-students, non-students, workers, citizens, consumers, activists - all thinkers, in their way, in different ways. Missing that bothers me. But all of that stuff, all of that stuff that I feel like I'm missing, or isn't there, I feel like it will be. If it can be. I feel confident in that.

About all that's left is the writing. I just... dammit, I'm just not getting the work out like I want to. And I don't know if it's just because there's been other stuff to do, or if I just haven't had it there. I've worked on stuff, but not every day. The consistency, the regularity, the output... it's just not there right now. I'm just frustrated, and tired. Maybe there's something I'm missing, or maybe I'm still fighting my rut. I don't know.

More's the pressure. That I'm at that age that I'm supposed to be doing everything. Impressing everyone, or at least anyone I can get to look at me. Maybe not success, but inklings, indicators, support systems. I might be inventing all this. Writers hit their strides, become big in their 30s, 40s, 50s mostly. Right? Just seems like all my heroes, were doing... not their best work, but some of their most interesting now, at my age.

I should just, you know, kick into gear, right? Stop bitching, and just do it. There's really no excuse, not even the usual "no inspiration" - I have literally pages of work, handwritten, just needing transcribed, and edited. We're talking outlines, short-stories, complete comic scripts, short scenes... that would be enough to get me working again.

Lighter note. Pictures went up of my kid brother's graduation at Ft. Benning. Occurs to me we never got one with just the two of us. Bummer, about that. But these two, with our mom, they're quite good, and something small gave me a chuckle.

Unseasonably brisk, that day. So, here we are, and then...

We pass dour expressions and slight looks of disgust like most brothers pass footballs. I guess some people would see the switch as a negative, but it made me, strangely enough, happy. It's... remarkably easy to forget our similarities, and there's something about just... having a nice reminder that we may not share fathers, but we still share something.

When it comes to family, it's always complicated. But I hope no one would begrudge me this.

Best.

Clutter.

• Monday, October 24, 2011 0 comments
As expected, I crashed pretty hard after my "trip." Slept something like... 18 hours, I guess.

The graduation was good... I find myself more and more impressed with my kid brother each day. I don't think I'll go into it here, but there are things, maybe things I only worry about because I'm a deluded, communist hippie, but there are things about the military that worry me, even more than the risk he was undertaking. I'm not really worried about those things now.

The ceremony was nice - hard to really describe, a bit like a football game half-time show high school, except everyone on the field had the same haircut, and there was live artillery. Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if that described someone's high school experience. Still, it was fun. It all felt fairly sophisticated, and epic. Naturally, Aaron was very busy during this time, and since I road along with mom and her boyfriend, I spent a lot of the three days by myself - maybe not physically by myself, but definitely a lot of stuff was going on solely in my own head.

Despite the extra time, I didn't get to read as much as I wanted, nor was there any great wellspring of writing done. Came up with another little prose thing that I might try and have ready by Friday. It is a tough squeeze - I have a book review deadline on Wednesday, and then... I have yet another book already in hand, though I believe I have until around the 15th to get it finished. Maybe not Friday with that prose piece. But soon.

Also saw a couple movies while I was gone. Skipped out on Hugh Jackman and giant fighting robots twice, to see "Moneyball" and "50/50." Moneyball was a no brainer for me - yes, I'm far from any kind of sports fan, but this thing is a sports movie penned [at least in part] by Aaron Sorkin. And yeah, I, who knows next to nothing about sports, was a pretty big fan of Sports Night at the end of the 90s [I think most people who liked that show weren't that into sports, actually], so I was pretty anxious to get Sports Night guy back writing about sports again. And you know, I think also I've sort of been hung up, since my Bennington days, since the Red Sox/Yankees arguments, about just how money plays into what looks to me to be a competitive sport, where skill and such should be the major thing. I don't think I ever really was able to draw a line to what the extra greenbacks some teams got meant for those teams, or even that winning a game could have anything to do with the size of your wallet at all, until I started hearing about rich teams buying all the good players, and even then... Oy. It all seems fairly obvious now, and I suppose it seemed fairly obvious then, but now I just feel like I have a grasp on it.

I dig teaching through drama. It's about all I've got. Ending of the movie has been surprisingly haunting to me as well. Weird way to go out, and one of those cases where one flick had a lot more going on in it that it's advertised as having. Maybe as it can handle having. Would need to see it again. Still, enjoyed it. Rarely do I get to see these things as they come out. And I like Jonah Hill.

"50/50" I liked too. Lot of trepidation going into that, I think getting to scope Rotten Tomatoes before deciding helped a lot [actually, both things I saw were the only chart grossers that were in the 90+ place]. Couple of parts were far from perfect, but I've always dug the adult comedy genre - the "Punch Drunk Love" types, uh... "Bandits" springs to mind. "A Serious Man." We're talking a wide array here. Stuff that's funny, but you might not be laughing out loud the entire time. Maybe not at all, but that doesn't mean it's not funny [It's weird that we have designated only certain actions as appropriate indications as to how we feel]. I don't know, I also have a lot of respect for comedies who dive in and do drama. You see that a lot the other way around, a drama throwing you some comedy, but this is a different way in. Levitt has a bright future, still... weird, thinking how long I've actually been watching him, and Anna Kendrick - I just find something about her to be charming. Also, something about her, surprises me she gets work. I am not sure why on either of those. Rogen, meanwhile, is just still damn good at what he does. I think over-saturation is making people a little sick of the guy, but I think just taken work to work, he's actually pretty impressive.

Plus, some stuff in it just hit kind of close to home. I was a little surprised.

Still, came out with some of the same questions, mostly why there isn't a market of 20-something movies with female leads, more women roles, more women cast. Certainly if there are omega males, there must be omega females. I feel sure of that.

Anyway. Cancer comedy. Can be done. And I'm glad for that.

I read a neat comic book called "That Salty Air." From Top Shelf, by Tim Sievert, would recommend it, especially if you just enjoy marveling at art work. Not that the story isn't there, it very much is, there's just some exceptional layouts, paneling, stunning art, surprising because from the style you expect it to be sort of minimalistic.

My life has felt very cluttered lately. Might need to do some cleaning... even Twitter, Facebook, my blog roll and RSS, it all just seems awful and cramped and too much. Same with the room, same with... most things. I should probably look to that soon.

I feel weird, bad for not talking more about the graduation. My priorities always seem askew. Just proud - probably not in a way I could make anyone understand, probably not like those mothers, or my mother, or anyone else there that day. Well, not anyone else. And the only thing else I can think to add is that it was fucking cold in Georgia, and I didn't bring a proper coat, so I couldn't enjoy it nearly as much as I wanted to. I gotta start trusting myself more, so as to avoid things like three days spent in a suit jacket.

To the grad from Bennington, and his brother, the grad from Ft. Benning.

Out 'till Friday

• Wednesday, October 19, 2011 0 comments
Writing this in a bit of a rush.

I'll be gone until late Friday night, and you might well hear from me when I get in then, or I could be so wiped out from the trip that you may not see dazzling words about other words until several days after then. My kid brother [can't say little anymore] Aaron is graduating from boot camp at Ft. Benning, so I'm taking a long, promised-myself-I'd-never-take-a-car-anywhere-under-these-conditions long, 10 hour trip to see him off. It's an ordeal, but like most ordeals, it is well worth it to be there for his big day. Or perhaps just the start of his big days.

So here I am, but only momentarily, and then off I go. For now, trying to work out some final packing things, scratching my head over why a suitcase isn't made to hold suit without wrinkling it. Someone look to that for me, if you would.

I will probably be sans internet for the next three days. If for some reason you need to reach me, text messages and my phone number will serve you the best, and if that's not information you're privy to, and Direct Message on Twitter with some way I can get in contact with you will go straight to my phone. I will miss you all.


Best.

Warren Ellis and good readin'.

• Thursday, October 13, 2011 0 comments
So, Warren Ellis put this up on his blog, and I just think it really deserves a read if you care about comics, print, digital, web or serialized, or otherwise:

"The Broadcast of Comics."

Sometimes you just need to hear things, or maybe some things just sound enough like good news, to inspire just a little bit of hope. And I've been so... frustrated lately, with my own work, mostly, that this just hit me right, hit me at a good time. I feel so much like web comics are treated as a passing fad, and in weird sort of way it was actually the for-free comics on the internet that got me through the doldrums of my last year of high school more than their paper-based alternatives. And while I won't claim to be as... forward thinking as Ellis is about these things, but I do think part of my weird... stand-offishness when it comes to digital comics might have root in some of the things Ellis talks about.

But that can't, of course, be all. I'm just not sure, and I keep reading it, and thinking about it. I don't know.

Justin and I talked recently. As you know, we've been on a long adventure with our 52 page comic book "Calamity Cash and the Town with No Name." To speak for Justin as much as I'm comfortable doing, I feel like working on the book has been a pretty present thing in his really busy life, and yet in our weekly get-together he said he was looking realistically at reaching the end soon. That is a strange thought, that it might actually be finished soon, and what the world will look like without it as a finished project seems kind of mystifying to me, as I imagine it must to Justin. The honest fact is, sometimes comics happen fast, and sometimes they don't, and I don't feel like a lot of excuses are necessary.

A lot has happened over the past couple years, and I find myself wondering what would have happened had we taken the web comic approach. I'm fairly sure Justin wouldn't have cared for the idea, but I wonder if a page going up on the web, for free, even intermittently over that time, might have generated some interest in the thing we'll finally end up printing. Thinking about it, that might not have been the best idea for a project like this one - especially as Justin has looked at so much of the work as practice, and especially since so much of that script was such a mess [and I am still glad I got to take a second run at the last half].

I suppose it would depend on who I'm collaborating with, but I think if I was going to do anything quite so long with someone, I might at least float the idea of putting it up free, a page at a time, on the internet. I wouldn't be disappointed if whoever I'm working with turned this down, I just can't help but wonder, as an experiment, if that might be workable, and interesting for people. I think the general wisdom with web comics is that two years is about how long it takes to get rudimentary exposure [thanks Cheri], barring some amazing act of god or Penny Arcade. So for a longer piece, even if it was something you were just going to take down once you committed to actually selling it - starting as a web comic might be an interesting tactic.

There are also many intangibles. The mind boggles.

I have been writing a little bit, playing with a character from VHS Generation, the short comic Ander Sarabia and I are going to do. But my output is still not consistent, and I already have several book reviews I need to get through. I just... really want to get back to creating, to writing creative things, and telling stories, and do so with some regularity. I am unsure how to whip myself into shape, and I still feel, physically, run down from these allergies. Still, I remember when that wouldn't stop me, not even slightly slow me down. I know it's not age, so it must be laziness. And I kind of find this unacceptable of me.

Speaking of Ander, the Blackest Terror book he's working on with the talented Eric Esquivel for Moonstone continues to get press, excitingly enough on Newsarama this time, where Eric gave an interview about the project and the string of other comics to follow it. It's very exciting - I always looked at being interviewed for anything as a sign that you'd really made it [after all, I grew up in Wizard's heyday], and I just wanted to give it a proper plug, as it's not too late to order a copy at your local comic shop.

While I'm plugging things, oft-linked friend John Wiswell has two of his best - "Sologamous" and "Kill Mommy" on Untied Shoelaces with audio readings added to them. [Also on the Randall Nichols list of signs that you've really made it is having someone else read your work aloud, something that to me screams the same thing that having your work read aloud in class meant in our pre-teen years - that you've done something truly exceptional.] What's great is, if you've been unwilling to try out John's Bathroom Monologues out of fear that driving while reading might cause you to smear your lipstick or spill piping hot Egg McMuffin all over yourself, you can now just download the audio to your mobile device. No excuse now.

Best.

With apologies to Chris Rock. And everyone else.

• Friday, October 7, 2011 6 comments
"Look, it was the last, best advice most people got in the 1990s, and I'm just saying that's not the kind of thing you tack a last minute addendum onto. It's a shame, but something like that, it can lessen it's impact, make it hard to reach out to the young people, the folks who really needed to hear it.

But yeah, I'll concede, it's not that there's never, ever been any sex in the champagne room. I mean, it's a strip club, there are, well, strippers, and most of the guys there are customers, yeah, but that's not everyone, that neglects a whole cross-section like the DJ, the bartenders, the bouncers... I mean, just the bouncers - two guys, working side-by-side, probably for years, in a keyed up, often violent position. And they've got to be there for each other - they got to have each other's backs. It's Spartan stuff.


So no question, after closing, maybe they're back there, sweeping divorce dust off of the couch. And it's couch, so naturally, they're moving cushions, looking for spare change - job doesn't pay that well - and they brush hands. It's a little surprising, so to break the tension one compliments the other on his AC/DC shirt, he in turn asks how he gets such straight hems when he cuts off the sleeves, and... well, the next thing you know, you have two handle bar mustaches pressed up against each other, and all sorts of new doors opening."

Sustainable consistency. Or something.

• Wednesday, October 5, 2011 6 comments
Tuesday was a shockingly productive day for writing. Probably one of my most since getting back into the swing of things.

Spent several hours with a new screenplay [re: "Dodged a Bullet]. Wound up with a five page opener that's pretty solid if you don't look at it too hard, and a six to ten page conversation that I actually worked out when I supposedly on "a break" from writing. The concept is one I've wanted to tackle for a long time, and I actually talked about it once here, but I'm going to avoid mentioning it directly because I don't want what happened last time to happen again, and end up having to police some proxy-using crazy who thinks he's going to use wingnut theories to one-up me on my own blog.

Anyway. I'm pleased with that kind of page count for a day's worth of work. Now all I really need to strive for is a little more consistency. With fall starting, and it cooling off, I am feeling a little more clear headed, but perhaps more important than that particular real or imagined impediment, is that I've been trying to get out more, get some pavement under my feet, just walk, even if that means I have to squeeze in said walk at the inopportune times. In the half of week since I've started again, I've had a couple reminders as to why I stopped in the first place - a discarded diaper was... less than pleasant, in a check-to-see-if-there's-an-indian-crying sort of way, and then there was the woman who just... stood and stared. If we're going through the greatest hits of bad walks, I expect to either be verbally accosted or run over tomorrow.

Courage.

Anyway, the point is, today was awesome, but I'd like to get to a place where I crank out five pages a day, or even less than that, as long as I was regularly producing the same amount. I want something... not structured, but regular, sustainable. I enjoy, and won't lie, prefer spring-writing like I'm more prone to, but the downside is, when I'm not in the sprint, I feel bad that I'm not working on something. That I'm creating something. I forgot how even the exercises I was doing before was giving me that a little bit - and it was helping fight a lot of discouragement I could stir up in myself.

I also worked on the bible for my little fantasy story today, found a neat idea for the third act, I think. Couple pages, hand written. I've been surprised that I haven't been getting hand cramps like I used to.

Catching up on email too, slowly but sure. And I voted. Always sad to me they don't give out stickers or something for that - democracy as we do it now really isn't that different from giving blood, is it? And I have something short I might post Friday, if I don't chicken out. We'll see.

Still fighting this sinus infection. Will be glad to get it behind me.

Find someone to carry you.

• Sunday, October 2, 2011 0 comments
Haven't been feeling well. Fighting a sinus infection, trying to get my rest. "Trying" being the key word.

Bulk of this weekend has actually went to fixing my grandmother computer. The machine's nothing particularly special, a Dell 2400, really an out of the box budget model whichever way you slice it [not unlike my current laptop], that's been floating somewhere between needing a back to factory settings reformat/restart or just a merciful bullet to the brain. Purchased in '04 or '05, it's probably shouldn't be as shocking to me as it that the thing still runs - especially since the only hard workout I can even think of it having was my short MAME-fueled King of Fighters/Samurai Showdown obsession. Still, I'm not used to seeing computers last this long, especially with only the nominal upkeep I've ever bothered to get it.

Which in retrospect was kind of shitty of me. For a short time that 2400 was my go-to computer, in that particularly uncertain period between my Toshiba Satellite dying and selling the house so I could buy this winner I'm writing this on today. As personal milestones go, I had quite a few on that particular machine, from starting this blog, to finishing "Unfilmable," to even doing the bulk of "Trendsetter," not mention a bunch of smaller, probably to most people less noteworthy things, such as the "Before Hulu was Awful" "Death Note" marathons, or getting started on "Breaking Bad" [thanks, Justin]. Sitting at that computer I read a script by my friend Glen, setting up years of future "I knew him when..." stories. It was there that I finally got back in touch with Lex, and it was there that I finally, actually got to talk to her at length - one of those rare instances where a missed opportunity to get to know someone wasn't. Perched on that air-filled office chair in front of that monster of a monitor, I dissected so many things, from "The Dark Knight," to how I spent and organized my days, to how I was treating and taking care of myself, while in the midst of some pretty serious heartbreak.

And though I was partly joking before, it really was quite shameful that I let the computer deteriorate into such unusable shape, especially since it isn't even there for me, really - it's my grandmother's, it's what she plays games on, what she checks her email on. And with a little bit of regular attention and care, there's no reason it can't keep doing that. Selfish of me to let that go to hell like I did.

And as with anything put off far too long, "fixing" it wound up being quite the ordeal. How much of that was actually my fault is up for debate, of course - yes, I probably should have read up on the model and noticed that it was going to give me a bit of a run-around, what with it's notable [though not universal] penchant for not loading all its necessary drivers on the first installation, but that doesn't change the headache of its backup disk being pre-Service Pack 2. Thankfully, my new external hard drive, which was so perfect for backing up what little was on the computer in the first place, was just as perfect for downloading all the necessary BIOS, drivers, and updates that were needed. Especially since accessing the internet on its own was nearly the last thing the it wanted to do.

Actually, it's quite surprising how smoothly it runs now, even with limited memory and hard drive space. I'm really thankful for free virus-scouting programs like avast! and Ad-aware, and less memory-intensive browsers like Google Chrome, and hell, compared to IE, even Firefox, which make running an older machine feel a lot more do-able. The best part, of course, is that while digging through piles and piles of unorganized CD-ROMs for the reboot, I was also able to find the discs for the weird third party games that my grandmother has come to love so well over the years.

I honestly think if I hadn't found those, I would have been better off just shooting it.

Still. It felt odd to be in front of that computer again. Sense memory, the sounds, the texture of the mouse and keyboard and chair, even the smell [all right, I might be off my nut, but I swear when they get going, those old box monitors have a smell] made it feel like it hadn't been that long. Certainly not like it had been 3 years.

...huh. I guess Wednesday was the 26. Weird.

I guess we shared lots of sleepless nights back then. Giving it one more seemed like the least I could do.

And for the Mojo Wire - here's to the end of the first three years.