"I am at a loss to conceive how a man should permit himself to write anything that would be truly disgraceful to a woman, or why a woman should be censured for writing anything that would be proper and becoming for a man."

17 November 2011

Midway-ish

Lack of updates generally point to one of the following:
- Inability to write, guilt over thus, and fleeing from any chance at flexing the writing muscles
- Lack of time to write due to insanity of life and/or work
- Illness
- Extreme apathy toward life in general and feeling like there's nothing worthy of writing about

Combine issues two and three, and that's basically the reason this time. I'm trying to be a dedicated mentor, passable worker, powerhouse novelist, and quasi-decent friend... and it's exhausting. It's just that time of year.

However, I wanted to take a moment to say that, while stressful, this has been one of my most fulfilling NaNoWriMo years yet. Why? I have an amazing collection of writers around me. In inspiring and encouraging them, I inflict the same wisdom on myself. When I feel like throwing in the towel just to focus on other things (including helping them make it through the month), I get energized by their passion. I'm finally getting a bit of the teaching bug, if you will, though I definitely do not have enough patience for that...
Mentoring, though, is damn satisfying. If I had more time to dedicate to it, I know there'd be even more worth sharing, even more rewards to give, even more encouragement to dole out, even more emails spewing variations of 'don't give up -- you can do it!'
I've always volunteered and given back to causes I'm passionate about in some way, but never with writing. It's such a (generally) solitary and isolating line, but it doesn't always need to be. Crawling out of our dark little writing cozies and chatting with each other, even consoling ourselves when nothing seems to be going right, is great motivation for retreating back into our own little worlds and continuing our journeys.

Also, it's great to be around literate people. Just, you know, for life in general.



Required link to fundraising page for NaNoWriMo for those who like writers and kids and books and reading (it's all tax deductible and I have swanky broke!writer rewards for any size donation. Any.Size.): Click here and show some love.

02 November 2011

NaNoWriMo Year Five: The NSFPureMinds Version

Or: What in the name of all that is sacred or profane am I doing?

There's something participating in National Novel Writing Month does to you, year after year: makes you fear for your own sanity.
Much as I love it, and proudly wear my writing geekdom with pride, and encourage (faithfully and truly) other people to participate, I acknowledge the mind-shattering marathon that is attempting to write a novel in a month. It is a crazy idea.
It's also a fantastic one.
It's magical.

(Yeah, I got caught up in the leprechaun nonsense of GLEE last night. I'm a sucker for blue eyes, a cute brogue, and a stunning voice. No apologies for it.)

Every year within the first few days I experience the trauma of the OMGWTFs. It can paralyze a writer to start contemplating the 'what ifs' and the 'why the hell am I doing this-es' and the 'everything I write is crap so why bothers' of it all. It can paralyze you at any time. The added pressure of thinking you have to complete something as massive as an entire novel in one month can daunt you into a fear spiral so dark it causes the worst possible black hole: the 'I can't do it so why even bother' hole.

You know what?
Fuck that hole.
Take a giant phallus of words and plug that hole up good. Show that hole the plot it's been missing. Use that hole up with great big sentences inspired by writing prompt, plot bunnies, song lyrics, and everyday objects like carrots and long glass tubes and staplers.
Screw that hole good by showing it you know best.
Then walk away from that hole, satisfied in the knowledge that you fucked it so well it exploded into the brilliant light of inspiration.
Then keep writing. All month long.

And THAT is your pornographic NaNoWriMo analogy of the week.

It's also about 300 words. That's a powerful amount of foreplay for starting work on your novel today.

Just to complete the inspirational mental screwing, here's a picture of Arthur Pendragon, wet, in front of a waterfall.



Yeah, you KNOW you can write something about that.

18 October 2011

Writing for More Than Myself

As if completing a first draft of a novel weren't accomplishment enough (or proof enough of my insanity), I have decided to once again participate in National Novel Writing Month.
For those unaware, the probability of my having a first draft without NaNo is... well, zero. Thus, as it's the primary reason for my current ability to tell people, "Yeah, I'm an anti-social mope who spends more time with books and writing implements than other human beings. Well, I've written a novel. What have you done lately?" I've decided this year shouldn't just be about me attempting to scribble another sequel to my ever-expanding series of novels. This year requires a little 'thank you' to the amazing construct that is NaNoWriMo... and maybe a little pat on the back for me.
Ergo, my 2011 NaNoWriMo Sponsorship / Thank-You / Encouragement Program

Here's the scoop:
Me - Five-time NaNoWriMo participant, three-time winner. First draft completed October 2011, with submission attempts by January 2012. Dedicated this year not only to writing another novel, but encouraging/supporting/mentoring a handful of participants. In need of caffeine and writing accouterments.

NaNoWriMo - Non-profit organization started online in 2000, which challenges participants to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Supportive, worldwide community which encourages writers to do what many say they want and few accomplish: write a novel. Also created a Young Writer's Program for students and classes, Script Frenzy (like NaNo, but with scripts), and the new Camp NaNoWriMo.

You - A citizen of the world who wants to support writers, creative types, non-profits, bloggers, arts education programs, and/or show some love for me.

How to Help:
Sponsor my writing efforts by donating to NaNoWriMo at this link. It's tax deductible and the money goes to help NaNoWriMo and their Young Writers' Program (it's for the kids!)

If you don't want a tax write-off, or to help kids (or have already done such and just want to encourage me), you can gift me one of these items to help get me through my fifth year of spending the month of November eschewing all social activity that does not involve writing in order to (hopefully) draft another book.
NaNo Survival Wishlist (leave a comment with your email/site for shipping deets):
Schuil Coffee Full Moon Mocha (auto drip)
Chateau Blanc White Tea
Gift Card to Espresso Profeta
Republic of Tea Wild Blueberry Black Tea
Ashby's Cinnamon Plum Tea


Now is probably the moment where you ponder: What do I get out of this?
Well, I'm a poor person (starving artist and all that), however there are some things I can give you as appreciation for your support. I've even tiered it for people who want to feel special by donating more.
All donations. Even a dollar. Really.
- Timely thank you for your donation on Twitter & facebook.
- End of November email report to wrap-up the successes of the month, as well as that of those I'm mentoring (for those desire it)
- NaNo Wrap-up blog post shout-out

$20 - $40
- All the above
- Dedicated blog entry during November on you and your awesome support (with pimping of personal site / work / project / etc.)

$41 - $99
- All the above
- A handmade thank-you gift of your choosing from the following: necklace, bracelet, key chain, hand-printed set of notecards/envelopes

$100+
- All of the above
- Specialized thank you in vlog post come December. There may be a song. We'll see.
- When published (which it will be, either through self-publishing or other means), a signed copy of Novel the First with personalized message

Donate now!

13 October 2011

I Wrote a Book!

I wrote a book! I wrote a book!
Take a good, hard look -- I wrote a motherfucking book!

No, really. I did.

*whew*

It took about three years to get a draft in a place where I felt it could be viewed by others for eventual submission to agents. A little over my original nine month plan, but hey, I'd never written a book before. I was young and optimistic.
Still, for anyone out there struggling with a creative project, completion negates any whining about how log it takes to get there. Stay the course (or "Stay on target."). Distractions will always arise. Life will always be complicated and seem to block you at times (or oftentimes). However, if you work your ass off and try... really, really try, you can do it.
Don't listen to Yoda. There is a wasteland of try on the way to 'do,' and that journey makes it all the more worth the satisfaction when you reach what you're trying for -- I can now say this from experience. Like a boss.

Now to scan through the very drafty sequels to prep for NaNo. And start looking for agents.
Yipes.

Perhaps also take my own advice and have a look at the screenplay baby I've neglected for far too long.



I wrote a book.

06 October 2011

American Horror Story: Needs More Crybation?

Courtesy of Urban Dictionary, for those unaware...
Crybate: Simultaneously crying and masturbating; the most pathetic act a human being can engage in alone.

Like millions of other seemingly ordinary individuals, I engaged in the horror mash-up that was last night's premiere of American Horror Story. The show has balls, coming out of the gate with a slew of disturbing imagery, homages to classic horror, Dylan McDermott crybating while being watched by a creeper standing amongst his family's drying sheets, and the most incoherent, jumbled assembly of timeline and plot ever created for a pilot series.
The show already has numerous reviews addressing the WTF-ery of its existence, as well as some top ten lists associated with the insanity vomited out of Ryan Murphy's GLEE-addled brain. My assessment runs more along the lines of: if this is an "American Horror Story," what makes it such... and does it work?

Ignoring generalizing and/or subjective queries such as: Is it scary? Are the ghosts real? Is anyone real? The biggest question about whether this show lives up to its title is this: What makes a horror story American?
Without getting all near-two-decades of watching, researching and writing about horror on y'all (because that would get far too intellectual for something as ridiculous as this series' pilot), it basically boils down to the following:
American horror wants to shock you. How it goes about achieving this varies depending on the desired shock level, where it hits you psychologically, and the style of its crafter. In this sense, American Horror Story wins in its first episode, if a string of mental WTFs can be considered shocking.
American horror is fascinated with disturbed individuals and their penchant for killing people, often in gruesome ways, with lingering effects. This show has disturbed people all right, and there's already hints and statements that some have already killed.
We like sex in our horror. It's not uncommon for American horror films to contain as much sexual content as violence, or at least the undertones of it. Europeans tend to be more subtle in their portrayal of sexuality as it relates to horror. It's almost non-existent in Japanese horror. Not us, we come out balls-blazing, coupling acts of gore in tandem with college orgies. From McDermott's luscious booty, to the (Ghost?)Gimp sex scene, to the hilarious (if you're me or anyone who works in my office) crybation scene, this series is no exception. In fact, if allowed by the censors, it could take torture-porn to a new level: porn-torture... like elevated crybation.
Many other themes in horror are embraced by the show: isolation, struggling against our desires in a heightened situation, history resurfacing to (possibly literally) bite us in the ass, and a questioning of what reality truly is. These are general constructs of most horror, not necessarily American.

So, the show hits most of the themes set forth in hundreds of years of American horror, along with more than a dash of general horror conventions. Does it work, though?
It could be a bit too soon to tell, but thus far... not entirely. The issue, I think, is that it's combining too many established constructs, coupled with homages, coupled with an incoherent plot and timeline. While it's shocking, disturbing, and full of weirdness (supernatural and otherwise), it fails to provide the audience with an answer to one of the most important questions in successful horror: What makes this horrific, and why tell us this story?
It has a chance to reveal this to us, but as of right now I'm doubtful it can accomplish this given its explicit bombardment of freakshow moments in the very first episode. That type of insanity cannot be maintained and retain the necessary creep-out factor to keep people engaged. yet you need to pull away a bit to provide some actual, coherent storytelling. Backing away from the crazy too soon, though, could expose perhaps the greatest flaw (so far) in this scenario: If all this insanity is happening within weeks(days? hours? who the hell knows right now...) of moving into their new home -- why are these people staying there and why should we care?

27 September 2011

The Ultra-Douche Complex

Or: Why do we allow assholes to have control and squash genuine individuals?

The following reflects my personal worldview and contains some ranting, not intended to be injurious to individuals… except douchebags and dicks… if you don’t know whether or not you fall into one of those classifications, I’m sorry but you probably do.

Inspired by this great interview with actor (and gorgeous human being), Sean Maher, my mind and emotions were stirred to advocate on behalf of the downtrodden. In this instance, ‘downtrodden’ equals ‘someone who is a genuinely decent person who feels forced or pressured into denying their true self while Douchebag McAsshat continues a successful life by being… well, Douchebag McAsshat.’
The entertainment industry exists as a shining example of the Realm in Which Douches Prosper, but if you think it’s only in Hollywood, smack yourself upside the head a few times and take a closer look at the world in which you live.
Everyday the news bombards us with details of politicians getting dumber and douchier. Not only are some of these scumbags and wackos currently in powerful positions of public office, over the next year we’ll be subjected to yet more outlandish displays of ridiculousness in the name of them ‘helping’ our society move forward.
It happens in business all the time. Comic strips like “Dilbert” and shows like The Office don’t have the staggering fanbase they do because they’re farcical reversals of real-life ‘structure.’ By and large, corporate number crunchers, office honchos, and senior management rank among some of the most out-of-touch, useless, narcissistic and douchey people you will ever find. Not necessarily the CEOs and such, though there are high-profile examples of their cockuppery as well – I’m talking about the people between them and the office ‘plebes’ who actually allow the company to function.
What irks my sense of universal hierarchy in all this isn’t just the incompetency of these people. Or their general douchery. Or their entitlement complex (Ever seen a mid-to-high level executive interact with a retail employee? It’s terrifying.). It’s the fact that we, as a society, let these people continue with their selfish, stupid, asshole tendencies and allow them to advance their careers while intelligent, capable, compassionate, stable-minded individuals get ground into the dirt, mentally and emotionally, for refusing to pattern themselves after the behavior of their ‘superiors.’ We promote asshole behavior in this country.

Beyond that, any time an individual is pressured into feeling like they cannot express themselves and who they are as an individual because of a narrow-minded worldview – whether professionally or personally – it’s an abuse of our right, in this country at least, to freedom of expression. The warped view we’ve garnered on freedom of speech is ludicrous. I’m sorry, but your right to express your views and say what you think ends when it callously, or intentionally, injures someone because you think your opinion is above reproach. Basically, when you shoot your mouth of just to be a dick and it hurts someone, you are a dick and if you get your ass kicked (verbally or even sometimes physically) and claim freedom of speech and right to voice your opinion as a defense, you should get your ass kicked again. As many times as it takes for you to realize that treating people like shit, especially unprovoked, is not a justifiable action in a personal or professional context.

Thus, when reading an article like the referenced above, I’m simultaneously proud of an individual who finally feels the comfort and freedom to profess their true nature (when their true nature is nothing to be ashamed of, nor something they should feel an inhibition about expressing), and angered by the fact that this person lived against themselves because of the cultural stigma which exists in our society.

For my part, I don’t care if you’re gay, straight, bi, or a circus performing transvestite who reads to children at local hospitals on the weekend… I only think you should be forced to suppress yourself if you’re a dick. And the easy solution for not needing to suppress your inner dick? Don’t be one.

/rant

26 September 2011

A Report From the Other Side of the Lens

Or: Am I really getting paid to hang out with my friends?

Let me level with you: Acting is a rough career path to choose. Though, like many industries, the amount of work you do in relation to those around you is generally inversely proportional to how much respect, money, and chance for advancement you get. Good acting, solid acting, is difficult… but it’s not brain surgery. You’re not curing cancer. You’re not risking your life to protect other human beings. You’re not educating a future generation of lazy, sugar-high rugrats who have been raised in an ‘I’m entitled to whatever I want because that’s how mommy, daddy, the nanny, and the internet raise me’ generation. You’re not organizing the life of an individual who probably could not tie their shoes or find their way to the nearest Starbucks if not for you. Still, it’s a career I chose a long time ago to abandon because I didn’t want to put up with all the baggage involved. I wasn’t passionate enough to dedicate my life to it, and I don’t think you can seriously expect to make it your true job if you’re not.
This isn’t the post for me to enter into the flawed system of filmmaking and the aforementioned disparity between what you do on a set versus how people treat you (and how you are expected to behave/be treated). Suffice to say it’s one of my eternal grudges against the industry (and really, most industries) that because you hold a certain title in one situation, one job, that either entitles you to special, sometimes over-pampered, treatment OR degrades you to one of the muck-soaked peasants in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. That scene pretty much explains my feelings regarding any type of ridiculous hierarchical structure.

Anywhooos, yesterday I took a turn around the other side of the camera during a well-crewed, enjoyable shoot of an international commercial. The whole situation was quite surreal, mostly because I’m not used to being ‘talent’ when on a set, but also because it took an inordinate amount of internal adjusting to come to terms with the facts that a) I wasn’t just talent, I was principal talent, b) this required allowing myself to not jump in and help the crew and c) I was getting paid to ‘act’ with three of my closest friends.
Granted, it wasn’t all fun and rainbows. During the multiple takes, I got my ‘box’ slammed into a few times… but, you know, I don’t want kids anyway. That’s what happens when you’re the rudder of an office rowing team and you have to stop, and it takes everyone else a few seconds to catch up to you.

All in all, it was an intriguing study in the structure of filmmaking. I have to give a shout out to the crew for their efficiency with set-ups and generally being very easy-going, on top of everyone’s needs, and professional… on top of having a good sense of humor. I hope someday to see the fruits of our labor on YouTube or some such bastion of crazy internet videos.
In the meantime, unless the casting overlords see fit to start placing me in filmic creations with my close compadres, don’t expect me to return to acting as my creative outlet anytime soon… though if I do, I promise to not turn into one of ‘those’ actors.

19 September 2011

L.A. Strangetown

Or: How I learned to start worrying and wonder whether or not this world has any idea who I am...

I'm in the midst of major writer's block. Trying to get the writing brain started after a period of editing is providing soul-crushing levels of difficulty. Part of it is not feeling like I have a good place to write (as in, a physical location conducive to writing). Part of it is exhaustion/my own stupidity. Part of it is having told the writer mind to shut up for so long that it decided to go on an extended vacation and leave me in the arid silence of a wordless desert.
Part of it is a lack of validation for my writing, critically and, to be blunt, financially. I hunt gig postings like a hound for something other than corporate babble, SEO BS, or 'copywriting' (read: do everything related to writing, editing, and publishing our newsletter/blog/magazine/paper without all the benefits and money that go along with it), and find nothing that makes me even want to put together a writing sample. I know my capabilities as a writer. I know I can crank out corporate crap ad nauseum if I'm getting paid for it... I just would really like, for once, to be able to write in my own voice and have people accept that enough to toss a bit of dough my way. And I know anyone who desires writing as a career has these feelings, as do actors, designers, crafters, etc. We all want to put our own little stamp on the world, in our own way. Instead, far too many of us find ourselves trapped in a cubicle, or off on writing assignments which bear no resemblance to our actual interests, or scraping together rent from a myriad of 'creative' gigs -- because we 'chose' this path.
(Note use of quotations. Anyone who accepts and embraces a life in a field which relates to the creative, cultural and/or literary arts should recognize the flaw in stating that those fields were ones we chose of utter free will. Art chooses you. Those of us who know this realize how simple, and painfully dull, life would be if we just settled for accounting...)

Thus, I hold this inward struggle to attempt writing without foreseeable profit. It's need which drives me, and right now the need is not enough because even that itching in my fingers, that throbbing in my head, cannot coerce me into actual creation of material.

Then, the universe comes along in all its mighty cock-uppery and says, "Hey, you need money from a creative endeavor? We can totally give that to you. As an 'actor.'"
What.The.Hell.
Granted, my ass is sore with getting itself kicked in the financial rear so much the past, well, always. Ergo, there's No.Way. I'm turning the opportunity (read: money) down. Yet is it so much to ask that I get a little cash for an endeavor I really care about? I have dozens of actor friends, many of whom would probably kick me for a) getting this opportunity and b) rail me for hours on how unfair this business is when they can't get work doing what they want, and I have the gall to be selected for something I only auditioned for to help out a friend. (Though I'd be willing to bet if they were thrown a desirable, for me, writing gig for this kind of money they'd take it.)

I'm happy about the gig. It'll be fun times with friends doing silly work for awesome money. I'd just feel like less of a tool if my writing garnered me similar work.

23 August 2011

Kicking Brain Puppies

Editing is hard. Just getting that out there for any and all aspiring writers. Slashing words you've grown accustomed to, and in some cases even grown to like (possibly A LOT), does not lead to great joy until you get yourself in a headspace capable of knowing what you do is meant to make your work stronger. Once you wrap your mind around that and accept it, it can make you stronger, too. After a while you begin to feel that just by deleting passages and correcting spelling and grammar issues for clarity, you have done what is necessary to make your work better.
Oh no, sweets.
There's more.
It's called re-writing.
And it's a pain in the ass.

Your editing mind has finally come to terms with its existence and you have a symbiotic relationship. You cut things out, and change some structural issues, and feel better about yourself, the process of editing, and your work as a whole.
Then you must go back and look at the work as a writer again, to fix plot holes, clarify and/or strengthen characters and relationships, add layering details... and your writer brain hides in a corner like a punished child, neglected by time apart from it and weakened and afraid from having the editing mind push it away while Editing Mode trumped all other needs for the work.
It's malnourished, depressed, and confused as to why you're seeking it out again with such joyful energy when three weeks ago you banished it in favor of the bullying Editor Mind.
Editor Mind doesn't care. It's happy to hang around and wait until you need it again (because it knows you'll come crawling back soon enough). Writer Mind, however, looks at you with plaintive eyes and quiet whimpers of sadness. You coax, you bribe, you get down to face it on its level and ask oh so sweetly for it to come back to you. It's wary, though. You wounded it and it hasn't recovered yet. It remembers screaming to you, wanting to be released while you had it locked in a closet when working with Editor Mind, pleading and begging to rewrite passages. You didn't listen. You needed to edit. You didn't want to shut away the Writer Mind, but you exist in a world of deadlines which Writer Mind doesn't understand. Editor Mind does, though, so you needed its help. Editor Mind is damn good at telling Writer Mind to STFU and mind itself. So good that Writer Mind has just been likened to an abused puppy for an entire paragraph in hopes that giving it the treat of extended metaphor might coax it out of hiding.

*le sigh*

This is one of those times I know I need to be a writer. It drives me, feeds me, pulses within me. Without it I am utterly lost. That ain't to say it's easy, though. Easy right now would be to chuck it all aside and turn to something that is... like knitting, or playing piano, or becoming an expert marks-person. I can't do any of those. I have a puppy to coax out of a corner so I can finish my novel, start writing query letters, and then have myself and my puppy kicked an inestimable number of times until someone coaxes us out of a corner...

There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein. ~Walter Wellesley "Red" Smith

22 August 2011

Vacating

August is almost over, for which I am grateful. Yet today is shaping up to be the most Monday-like Monday I've had in quite a while. I'm on edge. My skin is almost tingling. Every time the phone rings I just want to pick it up and yell, "WHAT!?"
I need to write, but Writer Brain is buried under Editor Brain. I can't write so it makes me more stressed. I'm stressed, so I can't write. Cyclical bullshit of the psyche that makes me want to curl up in a ball with a mug of tea and a stack of books and ignore everything for a solid week.

I revert back to this post from last year:

"Adults need summer vacation.
When you're a kid, no matter how long or short your summer vacation is, it provides you with freedom and opportunities to be expressive, creative, social (or not), occasionally spontaneous and more carefree than you ever realize at the time. Once you hit high school (or if you're lucky, college -- in which case you have no idea how lucky you were/are), you get summer jobs and much of that freedom dissipates. It's still there in smaller doses, though. You're also still more free to travel -- even if it's with your family -- and goof off, because your responsibilities and ties are relatively small.
Then, you 'grow up,' get some form of job, and vacation is typically reduced to a couple weeks at most which you have to plan out in scary detail, usually not take all at once, hope that all of your plans work out, and in all that chaos actually find time to relax.
That is wholly inadequate. Pardon my language, but it's just bullshit. 'Maturing' into an adult does not mean you need less time to decompress, to be free in thought and action, to explore the world around you, to express your creativity or lack thereof, to be a social butterfly or a hermit... if anything you need more. I believe the problems with stress so many people experience in adulthood, especially in this country, stem from the de-institutionalized human need for time to deal with ourselves and our problems. Everything must be done faster, better, more efficiently, even coping with our problems and personal inadequacies. Work Harder has replaced Work Smarter and in that we have lost the time, the ability and the PERMISSION to take time when we need it. We steal cigarette breaks and long lunches where we can. We use a vacation day to deal with doctor appointments, bills, family issues and the like. We try not to use sick days (if we are lucky enough to have them) unless we're at deaths door. Why? Because jackasses creating corporate models have instilled in us that this is how we become better workers. It's not. It's also very much not how we become better people.
Even if you have a non-traditional job that is more flexible than most, you still need time off and not scattered for a week here or there. We all need actual breaks -- at least 2 weeks of solid time off, SEVERAL TIMES A YEAR -- to truly be productive, rational, sane individuals."

I don't claim to have much sanity to begin with, but what little I possess is currently on its own vacation with my mental equilibrium, patience, and ability to process information and daily life occurrences without wanting to scream.

19 August 2011

Welcome to Fright Night, Guy...

Let's get this out in the open right away: this is not your dad's (or cousin's or older brother's or your childhood) Fright Night. Yet it is still Fright Night.

It's fun and scary and over-the-top juuuuuuust enough to balance the serious moments. Yes, there are some flaws, sometimes in character logic, but it's a horror movie. Such is the world those people inhabit. Inevitably you make one distracted decision which throws someone you care about into potential danger and you don't realize it. And one over the top scene contains the least subtle acting I've seen in... a long time, and yet it sort of works. Don't want to spoil too much, but my crew deemed it the Hey Guy Can I Get a Few Beers Predator Check scene.

The writing is sharp, smart, sardonic, and even bittersweet when it needs to be. The setting (Vegas and its suburbs) is perfect for what they're trying to accomplish with plot, tone, and style.
The performances and direction cater to the writing and the actors. Yelchin balances former-geek-into-wannabe-popular-dick very well. Mintz-Plasse makes a strong argument for why listening even to your former friends when they tell you someone is a vampire is a good idea (and his post-transformation shtick is equal parts saddening and hilarious). Poots and Collette handle typical chick roles in horror with wit, charm, and grace. Farrell is the Stanley Kowalski of vampires -- a role which is crafted well with his abilities: hot, alpha male, douchebag who knows he's the shit. He's pure predator with an arrogance carried from hundreds of years knowing other men pale in comparison to his prowess and his pecs. Tennant is... magical. Yes, I'm a fan, but there are reasons and several of those are prevalent in this flick. Timing. Chemistry. Ability to switch from drunk wimp to drunk bad-ass in seconds. Multiple creative uses of the word 'fuck.'
It even has a few good surprises... and Chris Sarandon in a great little cameo.

It ain't perfect. It is very different from the original, but it succeeds on its own merits. It's one of the few movies since Scream to hit the balance between comedy and real horror right on target.
Also, it's just freaking FUN.

Now, if you want your horror films all scary and intense, I recommend you wait for The Woman in Black. As several sites have pointed out, the latest trailer manages to combine a myriad of ghost story cliches and yet still be tense and creepy. See for yourself.

17 August 2011

Poots-a-rific!

This is not a post referencing bodily functions... unless, like in my world, geeking out is considered a natural physical reaction to something awesome.
Or, as deemed yesterday, Poots!ing.
The reference relates to the very pretty and talented Imogen Poots and her presence in the upcoming Fright Night movie. One of my male friends needed some reason to have the same swoony, geek out feelings toward the film as I do... and I offered him Imogen Poots. Not only was this acceptable, but this fine young woman's name is now interchangeable as a verb (as in: I'd totally Poots that!) and an exclamation of awesome (see title).
Fun times with Poots!ing aside, one may ponder why this movie excites me so... well, sit a spell and I'll tell ya, Sal. (Not sure where that came from. I'm going to blame the Bonanza concrete truck spied this morning on the commute to work -- a red and yellow cement spinner with cowboy hats painted on it. It inspired a conversation of treating cement mixer trucks like cattle on the prairie and bucking broncos; we all must do something to stay awake before our morning caffeine fix.)

A full rundown/review of the movie will post on Friday after basking in the glow of the Thursday night screening, however, in anticipation of the release I feel it my duty to express why I am more excited for this movie than just about any film this year.

1. It's a real vampire movie -- with real vampires vampiring. None of this wussy Cullen sparkly mopey Anne Rice crap. Alternately, none of this utter predatory, near-wholly animalistic creatures with more resemblance to Gollum than to human. One of the previews contains a perfect assessment of what Jerry is, and what vampires were created to be: he's not brooding, or love sick. He's the shark from Jaws. That assessment alone excites me.

2. As I duck objects being hurtled at me, the original Fright Night isn't all that. It's fun. It's got some great moments. The cast is good. The writing's solid. However, if you're going to remake an 80s horror movie, this is one that, in the right hands, could use some TLC -- especially in our current climate of aforementioned lack of 'real' vampires in vampire movies. Put it this way: the original is good, but it's not The Lost Boys. And if anyone goes after that (again), I may have an aneurysm.

3. The cast. One of the aspects that first excited me about this film is the cast. All solid actors: and only one of them American. It does amuse me that a story about a suburban kid in suburban America fills itself with a wordly cast.

4. Marti Noxon. One of my favorite BtVS writers, who already in the previews has given a couple nods to Buffy-isms in the crafting of the script. Mostly in Peter Vincent's lines.

5. Peter Vincent. OK, the Vegas magician thing may seem like a Hollywood ploy to get more business into Vegas. Or just some cheap gimmick. And yet... we don't have the late night horror fests on telly anymore, especially ones hosted by has-been horror actors. We don't really have anything similar to it on TV, unless you count nostalgia clip shows which don't usually have hosts, only a series of semi-has-beens talking about said items in the clipfest. We do, however, have Vegas: the place where good, decent, and terrible-yet-popular acts go to die a long and slow death, possibly over the course of years. And let's face it, Celine Dion isn't likely to have great knowledge of the undead, and those Cirque people may be able to kick some ass but their mind-bending acrobatics are almost as creepy as a guy who wants to seduce you just so he can murder you via exsanguination before the morning. Magicians, though... those are the kind of buggers you can see having a dark past and perhaps just a little too much insight into the realm of the paranormal -- at least as much as any washed-up horror movie actor. I mean, any guy who drinks Midori straight is either a nineteen year old girl, or has some serious early adult life issues he's working through...
And, yeah, OK... it's David "My Doctor" Tennant. I would be going for this fact alone, but thankfully every article I've read and preview or interview I've seen has given me plentiful reasons for wanting to see this movie besides Shirtless!Doctor in 3D.

15 August 2011

Break Day

*deep breath*

Taking a break from the editing today. Partially because this friggin' day job demanded my attention for about six hours. Ugh. Partially because while I managed to accomplish week two's goal for editing last night, that means today my brain is pretty mushy. Two solid days of playing Look at the Screen, Look at the Page, Look at the Screen, Look at the Page, Look at the Screen, Look at the Page... yeah. Easy way to create brain mush, that.

However, I see it as a good sign that while taking a break today to gather my energy and thoughts, my brain itches to continue. That's quite a switch from "OMG HOLY HELL HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO EDIT ALL THE THINGS IN THREE WEEKS!"
Perspective. Dig it.

11 August 2011

Meanwhile, in the Depths of Editing...

As previously mentioned, I (perhaps foolishly, perhaps brilliantly) agreed to have a readable first draft of Novel the First completed in a couple weeks. After the initial shock of it all, I planned out a rough timeline of how to accomplish said goal.

Week one (now): Scan through binary (i.e. computer-stored) draft, seeking out obvious spelling and grammar issues, major plots holes, items that still need explaining, and logistical problems. If a solution cannot be found to one of the non spelling/grammar issues, mark it, describe the issue, and move on for now.

Week two (next week): Compare edits made on printed draft to those done above. Correct further grammar issues. Hopefully find solution to a few of the other problems.

Week three (oh, lord...): Fix all the things. All the things? Yes. Fix all the things like a mother-effing adult! All the things... or at least as many as I can.



Week four (I predict): Send this wicked child out to be viewed by other eyes. Panic. Begin work on query letters. Panic more. Drink. A lot.

Progress is... progressing. Not at the present moment, obviously. This is in part due to the fact that I have entered the repeated 'shit hitting the fan' section of the book (i.e. the last third) and even in Editor Mode there's a lot of emotional turmoil happening to the characters and it's difficult to look at that with a completely disconnected eye. It's the first time I've really done that to characters I created, so I'm quite new to this feeling.
Still, I continue to press on... or did until I decided to pick up A Feast for Crows and finally finish it. Getting my head out of Westeros is proving difficult. But hey, if I want throngs of readers to one day have themselves sucked into worlds I create because I nurtured those worlds, and my writing, then by the seven I shall find a way to exist in both realms.

After all, when your mind races with thoughts of your own writings along with thoughts of a master's, sleep is irrelevant, right?

Edit all the things!
Fix all the things!
Defend the Wall... erm, all the things!


08 August 2011

Inspire Me

The previous post made a to-do of my summer playlist, or at least a sampling of it. However, it focused on the music I listen to while driving, working, jamming… my writing music tends to central around only a handful of styles.
Sure, I’ll listen to a little stylistic music to get the emotional tone for some writings, but typically my genres for writing ‘seriously’* are limited. And since a not small number of posts here relate to writing and creating, I thought it about time to provide some of my most inspirational writing tunes. And by ‘some’ I mean enough to make a full length album.
It’s pretty soundtrack heavy due to my being a very visual writer and since music, good music, can drive a show or film with expert precision into a certain mood or emotional state it works very well for someone who sees pictures in their head as they write. Sometimes those pictures need coaxing from the right music to transform into words.
I have an extensive mix (actually several) of music to listen to while writing, as a good sprint can go on for hours and the more fuel provided for that sprint, the better. This list represents not necessarily the most outstanding or emotionally driving pieces, but ones I do turn to time and time again to get the creative juices flowing and the fingers working in time with the brain to transfigure mind pictures into fleshed out scenes.

The Kiss – Trevor Jones (The Last of the Mohicans): A great film score overall, yet despite the cheesy dialogue that accompanies this music in the film as a standalone musical work, this selection engages my synapses to fire in rhythm with my pulse every time.

A Game of Cricket - Adrian Johnston (Becoming Jane): Another score which stands out as a captivating work on its own. Anything that requires romance, a period feel, and/or a bit of cheek mixed with splendour is served by listening to this song and the score as a whole. Honourable mentions for: Selbourne Wood and Rose Garden

Marco Polo – Loreena McKennitt (The Book of Secrets): Instrumental with vocals is tricky because if the vocals don’t fit with the tune, or overpower it, it becomes too distracting. However, McKennitt has an extraordinary gift in blending her voice with the music she composes so when a song is instrumentally based and lacks lyrics her voice always compliments what the rest of the song already carries. While the album version is solid, I have a deep, visceral reaction and connection to the live version from Live in Paris & Toronto.

Loneliness of Six – Christophe Beck (Buffy the Vampire Slayer): One of the most overlooked series compositions ever. The music in Buffy (at least during Christophe’s main run in seasons 1-5) is some of the best television composing ever done. I listen to this cut most often because of the sweet melancholia it brings out, especially when the solo guitar comes in 2/3 through. Honourable mentions for: Remembering Jenny (with a haunting vocal by Anthony Head), Close Your Eyes, and Waking Willow

Madame De Pompadour – Murray Gold (Doctor Who, series 2): All right, let me be frank, there will be an entire post at some point dedicated to the incredible music composed for Doctor Who and Torchwood, and how each piece affects my writing. I truly cannot express how deeply invested I am in this music. However, if I have to choose one piece that succinctly captures all the sweetness, majesty, heartbreak, and hope that Gold’s music inspires, it is this one selection. Some days it gives me hope. Some days it inspires romance. Some days it causes me to break down into uncontrollable sobs. Yet I value each of those experiences equally and they always fuel some good writing. Honorable mentions: too many to name. Seriously. I’ll be doing a post just on Whoniverse music.

Sarabande Suite (Aeternae) – Globus (Epicon): One of very few tracks included on my epic writing playlist with actual words. However, at nearly eight minutes the lyrics make up a very small portion of the tune. I have a (no longer) secret goal to one day raise enough funds to make a trailer (to raise more funds) for my #1 pet film project. The trailer will be set to this song. And it will.be.epic.

The Funeral – Greg Edmonson (Firefly): Whedon shows take very specific stances with their music, and I love that about them. This piece came out of the composer after hearing the show had been cancelled. It’s the requiem for the series and never ceases to give me chills.

A Window to the Past – John Williams (Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban): While Williams’ composition for the first film stands as one of his best works, the second offered little in terms of new material to expand that standout effort. Yet when the tone of films changed with PoA and its new director, so did Williams’ music and the transformation took what was great about the first film’s score and amplified it (which is more than any subsequent HP score managed). This track is beautiful, haunting, bittersweet and emotionally complex as anything Williams has written since "Binary Sunset" for the first Star Wars film.

Maestro – Hans Zimmer (The Holiday): I’m a sucker for Zimmer (and his band of acolytes), I’ll just get that out there now. His compositions have a way of smacking me in the chest with powerful emotion and not letting go. If ever a romantic comedy deserved critical recognition for its score, my vote would be for The Holiday (appropriate as well as Jack Black’s character is a film composer). This selection opens the film, and when coupled with Kate Winslet’s incredibly opening VO sets the tone for what is a magical little movie with an amazing score. Honourable mentions for: Cry and Gumption

Jugglers – Javier Navarrete (Inkheart): Never underestimate the score of a ‘kids’ movie. A surprising number have incredible scores to accompany them. Inkheart is a strong example of this. The music overall is well done, but it’s obvious that (as with readers) the composer’s favorite character to write for is Dustfinger. Whenever I need a little boost in magic, I listen to this. Honourable mentions for: Dustfinger Disappointment and Meadows (also Dustfinger tracks)

My Name is Lincoln – Steve Jablonsky (The Island): Crap movie. Not outstanding score overall. This one piece? Incredible. (And it fits into the score of Elizabeth: The Golden Age almost better than that film’s real score)

Letter That Never Came – Thomas Newman (A Series of Unfortunate Events): See above re: scores to kid-oriented films. The music for this hits the tone of the film (and really, the books) directly on target. Newman knows how to pull at the heartstrings while still keeping a touch of hope and magic alive.

Samwise the Brave – Howard Shore (The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers): Choosing a single track from these scores made my heart ache. The music of these films is intrinsically tied to the emotion and journey of the films. When they use bits of the score during the production diaries for The Hobbit, I get choked up. Yes, really. The epic efforts used in creating these films is felt in every piece of music and no matter what track I listen to, I can feel the fueling emotion of the entire trilogy within it. Honourable mentions for: The Council of Elrond, The Breaking of the Fellowship and The Grey Havens

PMs Love Theme – Craig Armstrong (Love Actually): I love this movie. Suck it. All the major score themes resonate with the tone of the film, making me feel equally hopeful and bittersweet with every track. When I need to press on to some great moment in my writing, this track always pushes me to the light as I picture little Sam tearing his way through Heathrow to have an epic tribute to The Graduate -- except The Graduate didn’t include Bill Nighy stripping on telly in the background.

Injection – Hans Zimmer (Missions Impossible: II): Yes, another Zimmer track. Yes, from the Notorious rip-off that is MI:II. Yet fresh off his epic achievement in scoring for Gladiator (with Zimmerite Lisa Gerrard), this soundtrack soars far above the provided film material.

The Moon Beckons – Nick Glennie-Smith (The Man in the Iron Mask): This score pretty much began my obsession with soundtrack music (well, this and The Lion King). An instance where the music fuels the film when it could have destroyed it, but the quality of the score helps me overlook the UN Committee style accents scattered through the film.

Lancelot Theme – Rohan Stevenson (Merlin: Series 1): Merlin’s score themes are limited, but the ones that are used time and again never grow stale. The music for the show covers playful and epic, romantic and dramatic, with its own stylish flare. It’s more subdued and grounded than a lot of fantasy TV series’ scores. The Lancelot theme is the main romantic theme in the show, and it’s haunting beauty is both inspiring and swoon-worthy. Honourable mentions for: The First Code, Merlin Rides Out and Lancelot Leaves

The Caravan – Jerry Goldsmith(The Mummy): Take the score of The Omen and do a mash-up with the score of The Wind and The Lion, and you have the score for The Mummy. The score perfectly captures the feel and tone of one of my favorite flicks. Equal parts epic adventure-comedy-romance and old-fashioned-horror. This piece always makes me want to go ride camels through the desert – and I hate sand. And heat. Honourable mentions for: Camel Race and Giza Port

Wolsey Commits Suicide / Finale – Trevor Morris (The Tudors: Series 1): Period-style scores in TV dramas are tricky to get right, and Morris not only got it right, he excelled at it. Any montage done in this series set to his music wields as much power as any of the best written scenes in the show. This piece in particular. Honourable Mentions for: Henry Meets Anne Boleyn, More’s Love of a King, and the title theme

Gabriel’s Oboe – Ennio Moricone (The Mission): I may have my own preferences and leanings when it comes to film scores, but that doesn’t mean I shy away from greatness even when it doesn’t fit my usual style. The score for The Mission is one of the most haunting, beautiful, accomplished works of film music ever created. This oboe-driven piece never ceases to inspire depth in my writing. (And how often do you get to use the phrase ‘oboe-driven’ in scores? It’s rare.)

Barbossa is Hungry – Klaus Badelt (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of The Black Pearl): Again, Zimmerphile here, but the scores to the first and third Pirates films are, like The Mummy score, perfect matches with the film material. While I love all the music, this track holds special significance for me. When I want power and speed, I use this. Also, play this track through your best sound system at about ¾ full volume – you’ll shake walls. Promise.
Honourable mentions for: Will and Elizabeth, One Last Shot, and One Day (by Zimmer, from At World’s End)

So there you have it. Twenty-one tracks (off a playlist of about 650) that inspire me to write more, better, and often.
What music inspires you to create?

*'seriously' equates to writing with intent of creating something that may someday be viewed by others for critical and/or commercial use… or anything I write that I want to pour myself into fully.

07 August 2011

I'm a Writer!

Yeah... still coming to terms with that phrase. Despite encouragement from teachers over the years, including a college professor who once stated that everyone in our creative short fiction course WAS a writer already, just by being in the class. Despite all my in-progress works, years of blogging, completed projects of which I have evidence... saying I'm a writer with emphatic assurance makes me squirm inside.

Well, I have three weeks to get over that as yesterday I agreed to have a readable first draft of Novel the First done. Then I shall embark on the arduous journey of creating query letters for agents while allowing a privileged few friends take a gander at the book.
Nervous? Panicked? Freaked? Self-doubting? Wanting a time machine so I can return to yesterday and say, "NO! No way. That is way too soon, and I have life and stuff (do you know how much laundry I DESPERATELY need to do?)... and besides the book isn't perfect yet!!!"? Yep. All of those are happening right now.
Know what else is happening?
Excitement. Empowerment. Hope.
And a bit of fear-driven motivation... with a dash of screw you, Universe, I'm going to be a WRITER!

Deep breaths.

I.am.a.writer.

05 August 2011

Summertime Tunes

It’s once again time to shortlist some songs that currently have me keeping a grasp on sanity, and keep me from pushing people off Mullholland Drive who have no idea how to navigate a winding road and therefore have no business driving on it. These songs also keep my brain from dribbling out my ears due to the mind-numbing day job which takes away pieces of my soul everyday. (It’s like I’m creating horcruxes out of coffee mugs, envelopes, staplers and sticky notes, without the cool street cred of having killed people for them.)


Annabelle Lee & Come On Up to the House – Sarah Jarosz: Incredibly talented, sickeningly young bluegrass doll (yeah, I said bluegrass) creates haunting song with one of Poe’s most famous poems and mellows out a Tom Waits tune with some Appalachian soul.

Make It Out Alive – Hanson: More than a year after the release of Shout It Out, and I’m still finding gems on this album. Right now the horn and piano driven bounces of this song, coupled with Taylor’s always melt-worthy vocals make a song about how we’re all going to die eventually one of the most fun compositions to bop along with in the car.

Smotherin’ Me – Imelda May: One of several cute, pixie-like, Brit chicks I’ve come to adore after appearing on The Graham Norton Show. Rockabilly swings with the voice of a long-time smoking jazz musician who’s done one too many wails.

Summerboy – Lady Gaga: Sorry, Born This Way, but you’re really not up to par with The Fame (or The Fame Monster). I can actually hear GaGa’s real voice in this song, not the auto-tuned, over processed product in, say, “Judas.”

Vigilante – Lucas Grabeel: This is one of those tunes I am so addicted to yet have no idea why. It was stuck in my head for three days this week. Not complaining as I love Lucas’ sweet tenor voice, especially when it dips into the lower register, but this is just one piece of ear candy that inexplicably makes me really happy.

Latest Mistake – Mandy Moore: Much as I like Amanda Leigh, I still stand by Wild Hope as the most accomplished of her albums, and whenever I go back to it, I come away with a new (temporary) favorite tune from the album. The emotional push behind the lyrics adds true depth to this folk-pop-rock gem.

Anchored – Tony Lucca: A bit out of place seasonally with lyrics that begin Smells like Los Angeles, middle of winter, but the emotion which carries this ballad transforms even the hottest day into a cool, romantic, bittersweet evening.

When I Stop Running (Album) – TFDI: The grouping of Jay Nash, Matt Duke and (the incomparable) Tony Lucca is inspired. The album plays off their strengths as artists, yet even when singing their own solo tunes the depth added from backing vocals by the other two outshines individual performance. And the group efforts combine the trio’s folk-rock aspects in harmonious unity.
Best tracks: When I Stop Running, If I Was a Ghost, Sweet Talking Liar, Hurtin’ Kind (And it's only $1.99 for the whole mp3 album on Amazon...)


Honorable Mention:
Anything Darren Criss sings. No, Really. Seriously. Anything.

04 August 2011

Boyness

Fear not, this will not be a post about boys in relation to my personal life (nothing to speak of in that area, which is another issue in itself, so we'll just pretend your mind never went there and just get on with our day, shall we? Good.).

This is about re-embracing the non-gender-specific empowerment in all of us. (Inspired, partially, by a post yesterday by Luv & Kiwi)

I'm pretty laid back when it comes to fashion. I like to be comfortable. Jeans and tees kind of gal, kicking it in flip-flops or chucks. I do like cute, girly tops, love corsets, and even a good flowy dress or skirt can make me feel like my feminine powers have increased. Yet I experience a different kind of empowerment when I don a pageboy cap, or a snappy vest. Don't even get me started on what kind of empowered mischief I could get up to if I owned a bow tie...

When I get girlied up, even if it's in slacks and a barely-breathable corset with a snazzy necklace that drops down almost into my cleavage, I feel womanly. I feel as though I could walk up to some good-looking bloke, plant one right on his lips, and he'd be dazzled by my awesomeness (rare is the occasion I do something like this, but I FEEL that I could, without consequence). It's a pretty great feeling, don't get me wrong.

However, when I embrace my dapper don side, pulling on the pinstripes, capping my head with a cap, aligning some cute tee or collared shirt with a vest I feel like... like I could take on members of either sex in a bar fight whilst giving redecorating advice to the owner between blows and singing a jaunty tune the whole time. It's like I grew phantom balls that come equipped with a power of fearlessness, attitude, and not giving a toss. All the female insecurities about opinions, looks, emotions, selfish behaviour, stepping out of a comfortable situation... it all just melts away.

Now, I'm not saying I'm trading in my beloved AE jeans or flip-flops or (heavens forbid) corsets for suspenders, ties, vests and a fedora. I wore a skirt and flip flops with the magical hat yesterday, and was comfy and cute all day. Still, it's an interesting realization that a bit of man-flare makes me feel powerful in ways no frilly skirt, deftly-tied scarf, or stiletto heels ever could.

What about y'all? Do you find a difference in how you think and feel when you add a bit of the 'traditionally opposite' sex's garb to your dress?



(It may be a kiss-o-gram outfit, but Amy Pond is totes bad-ass in her collared shirt, tie, and bowler)

03 August 2011

Un-Wall Me...

I posted the below in my more personal 'blog,' but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it's not just applicable to personal events and emotions -- because whatever crap you deal with (or avoid dealing with, more typically in my case) affects your creativity and the productivity of all creations. I'd like to believe that hermiting away to shun external (and internal) issues helps fuel my passions, but that's just another mask I put on to fool myself into thinking I can be really and truly depressed and still be productive.

I'm tired all the time, and while I think part of it is not taking care of myself I'm really coming to think it's more not listening to myself and trying to hard to be the best I can be in front of other people and in so doing feeling like I'm failing myself. Yeah, it's all emo up in here, and by the seven do I hate that... I hate being a shell. It's just hard to break out of the shell when you've built it around yourself to keep the bad from getting out. You don't realize you're walling in the good as well.


Interesting thing I've learned about myself just writing some of this out: I don't do well with other people trying to help me come upon revelations. It's just not how I'm constructed. Once I hit a revelation, though, I love help. But I won't directly ask for it (this is true of just about everything important to me). I like rowing the boat on my own, and if you climb in to help me you better strap yourself in and lash your hands to the oars because I'm liable to push you off after a bit. I just won't believe you're really in it with me until... well, you're really in it with me. As in, I fall overboard and almost drown; you pull me out, drag me to the shore, give me CPR and put us both back on the boat to continue rowing. Great strategy for entirely self-sufficient hermits. Horrible for anyone who even occasionally wants real, deep, meaningful interactions with other humans.

We all have ways of blocking other from helping us, and in turn ways of blocking ourselves from being receptive to help from any source. When the walls go up, even if it's to block others from seeing the bad, those walls create a divider of all energy and emotion. The longer they stay up, the harder it becomes to access the good, the desire, the passion, and even the necessity.





I am woman... hear me SMASH!







So there's your personal insight moment for the week...

01 August 2011

It's a new dawn...

It's a new day... it's a new mother-effing-August.

I could rattle off a litany of reasons why this month and I get along about as well as Severus Snape and Harry Potter in books one through six, but I'll just stick to the basics: August hates me, and in its (so far) ten year history of making my life hell, I have come to hate it.
It sucks a bit because two of my best friends were born in August, as were several members of my family. Still, this month more than any other (even March, which I have grudge matches with almost every year as well) seems to save up all the crap that could be hurled at me during the course of a year and dump it on me all at once. Like the manure truck that Biff drives into in Back to the Future. Only on a daily basis -- or at least that's how it typically feels.

Thus, like several other years, I look at the date on the calendar today and whilst pondering what horrible events might await me in the next thirty one days, I also start to ponder what I can do to cope with a life destined to be made of fail over that period of time. Unfortunately, due to recent spinal issues and a raging migraine, my mental capacity is sorely reduced right now.
I am open to any and all suggestions.

14 July 2011

A Lannister Always (verb)s His (noun)s

Winter is coming to my office... well, really it's already here. Three of us fell victim to the siren song of Game of Thrones when it began airing on HBO. One more joined our clan out of a desire to understand what the hell the three of us were talking about all the time.
Now, the three have undertaken the task of making our way through all the novels as our patience will not allow waiting for the series to complete production and air in the spring. We want winter to come. We welcome it and all the tales it brings.
We also make ridiculous in-jokes (see title), geek out about casting rumours (I'm starting to chant a list of actors I want in the series each night the way Arya chants her list of those she wishes to die), and drool over Game of Thrones foodies offering delicious recipes inspired by the books.

And we feel Peter Dinklage not only deserves the Emmy nomination he received, he deserves to win.

Also, the books series is as enrapturing as the show. I cannot remember the last time I plowed through a 1000+ page novel in three days.
Can you?

Pin Me!

A couple weeks ago I got sucked into a new online world.
No, not Google+ (still working out how worthwhile it will be vs. how worthwhile it could be).
Pinterest.
Explaining Pinterest to the uninitiaed is rather difficult. You can't really explore it until you join, and once you join you can't really understand it until you explore. A lot. It's a very experiential site -- the more you dive into it, the more you become one with it. It may sound very zen, and a tad creepy, but I have never found a 'fluff' (or as professionals call them 'social networking') site that makes wasting hours of time on it feel so useful. There's not much in the way of creating connections beyond a very surface level. There's no witty banter about life, politics, the weather, or CARMAGEDDON! There's no constant stream of outside links to click, videos to watch, or Farm games to play. It is, simply, a giant bulletin board of awesome/inspiring/pretty things. The users are a collective of people who like to create, express, explore, design, craft, inspire... and gaze at pretty things.

I'm a quote whore, and the number of amazing quotes I have found in exploring Pinterest astound me.
For example, I found this one this morning.



Remind you of anything?
"Sometimes I get nostalgic for the time when this massive universe called The Internet did not exist, nor was it so easy to create a stream of words, thoughts and ideas and then delete them in a flash.
Sometimes I want a physical record of my creations, not just a glorified collection of electric pulses and digital code translated to 'my work.'"

That, in a pin, is why I love Pinterest.

13 July 2011

I'm Baaaaa-aaaack

Trying this new concept of typing an entry in Blogger's post field, as opposed to whipping something up in Word or Google Docs, because, well, neither of those have been inspiring to me as of late.

What has been inspiring is writing.

No, not this. This action of pressing keys with my fingers and having electric signals travel through the keyboard to the PC hard drive to this site and onto the screen -- this is not inspiring as of late. It's annoying. It's a blank canvas with the ability to erase whatever is composed too easily. It allows me to be fickle, to procrastinate, to delete thoughts before they truly form.

Which is why what I've written lately has been actually written. Physically. By placing a pen or pencil to a sheet of paper in a book and watching as my own hand creates words as they flow from my mind, directing myself in a physical action to create something that cannot be so easily destroyed as type on a screen.
I'm not about to get all high-horse and say that the physical act of writing is better than typing on a computer (or a typewriter if you're lucky enough to own such a device). Technology has afforded us a grand new method of creating and spreading ideas (and far be it for me to get snobby about writing). Still, sometimes I get nostalgic for the time when this massive universe called The Internet did not exist, nor was it so easy to create a stream of words, thoughts and ideas and then delete them in a flash.

Sometimes I want a physical record of my creations, not just a glorified collection of electric pulses and digital code translated to 'my work.'

Still, I feel the pull to write more and the readiness of this method, along with the ease of sharing, calls on me to return to the technological front...
Doesn't mean I won't occasionally run back to the physical creation.

10 June 2011

Life Finds a Way

I haven't written here in a while. Until earlier this week I hadn't really written anything, anywhere in a while. I could chalk it up to stress and busyness, to overwhelming amounts of work while trying to get my life together, but that stuff happens all too frequently and I still find the time and energy to write a bit here and there.

Admission: it was fear.

I began fearing that I could no longer write. Then I began questioning my ability to write at all. Dark, heady thoughts overwhelmed me. My writer's block became an avalanche of negativity collapsing in on my writer's mind and suffocating any spark or glimmer within me to write.
Yet I knew through all of this that I wanted to write. I needed it. It's as vital to me as breathing, which may sound hyperbolic but anyone who writes knows the feeling. To lose belief in your ability to write starts to affect any belief in your being.
I'm not sharing the secret of what dug me out of this pit (though it didn't dig me out so much as pierce through with a brilliant blue light and haul me out), because it’s not what gets you out so much as the realization once it happens that you can and are meant to write. In one day I wrote (physically wrote, you know, with a pencil… on paper… in a book… like the olden days) twenty-five pages of material. My brain has been afire with the writing twitch all week, and while it isn’t for projects already in existence or new projects I believe will go anywhere, the mere act of writing again – and profusely – is overwhelming in the best possible way.









Whether you’re plugging away at a project you feel had stagnated, are stuck in the depths of writer’s block, or write everyday without fail and yet feel unsatisfied: I know it’s rough. If you need encouragement, I will be happy to cheerlead, or chastise, or help in any way I can.

If there’s one thing I’ve realized over the past few weeks it’s that wallowing in your frustration alone never produces anything. Even the smallest bit of progress is still progress, and when that moment of inspiration hits, grab it, hang on by the tips of your fingers and go along for the ride. You can make up hours at work, reschedule social obligations, and postpone a great many things in life (I’m looking at you, giant pile of laundry. I swear I’ll get to you soon…), but you can’t reschedule ideas when they hit. When the concept hits, when it overwhelms all your other thoughts, get to the nearest writing implements and just write – it’s not always true but generally speaking, life can wait and inspiration never does.

15 May 2011

Oh, my beautiful idiot...

"Then you stole me... and I stole you."
"I borrowed you."
"Borrowing implies the eventual intention to return the thing that was taken... What makes you think I would ever give you back?"







He calls her “Sexy.” He strokes bits of her and sweet talks her while also banging her parts with relentless and seemingly reckless abandon. He stole her, and she allowed herself to be stolen. They traveled for hundreds of years together and never spoke... until she was ripped from her home and crammed into a fragile female form.
Talk about innovation.

“The Doctor’s Wife” may eventually rank among the best ever Doctor Who episodes for sheer inventiveness alone. That and the brilliance that is Neil Gaiman.

While I am insanely jealous of this literal outside the bigger-on-the-inside box thinking, it is also inspiring. It fires some of those dormant, struggling synapses within my own writer’s mind, begging me to re-examine some of my own projects. They call to me, requesting that I Gaiman it up a bit --- to think of the maddest things imaginable, the seemingly impossible twist, and write it.
I’m not what one would call a true worshipper at the altar of Gaiman, but I may have just become a convert. Any writer who can do something entirely new with the Whoniverse after its nearly fifty year history deserves more than respect. He deserves adoration, accolades, and genuine gratitude for his innovative and inspiring ideas.

The brain is aching. The fingers are twitching. The soul is yearning for something new. I’m ready to leave myself unlocked for the mad thief of inspiration to rush inside and take me for a ride.

10 May 2011

"Weakness is tiring, but strength is exhausting."

"I am tired of being strong."

My life, it seems right now, is a series of snippets mashed together. There is no linear progression from task to task or day to day. I go through the same procedures yet the feeling is one of constant interruption and chaos. Long, novel experiences and thoughts are suppressed beneath layer upon layer of brief interludes. Some thoughts and feelings and experiences are pleasant; some are reflective or inspiring; many are stressful and exhausting. All seem fleeting and inconstant. This does not sit well for someone who, though adaptable and capable of eternal juggling, requires a certain level of consistency and stability. Not a lot, really, just a bit to keep me tethered to a plane that resembles reality.
There’s too much shifting, too much uncertainty. Too many good ideas without a home and too many depressing and/or stagnant thoughts which arise and fester.

To put it succinctly:
I’m in a major funk with no semblance of how to rise out of it. I’m outwardly trying to hold on to the calm while inwardly feeling like a ship being ripped apart by a storm with no break in the weather or rescue boat on the way.

I have brief periods where something inspires me, and then am bombarded with an avalanche of negativity from varied directions and those fleeting moments of possibilities are quashed by the heavy burden of reality. I know it cannot remain like this forever. I know, even now, there is hope left… but I cannot see it. (Yeah, been retreading a little LotR).

I can’t even watch films properly right now as everything only settles in increments of a few minutes. The greater picture is lost while the few moments of true emotion I try to cling to are soon overcome by more confusing and aggravating ‘real life’ occurrences. Not being able to escape blows.

To use a current, popular yet crude, analogy being tossed around my office: I need to get the cock out of my mouth, but I can’t find it right now. I need someone to help find the cock and possibly help get it out.

And this is my life right now…

25 April 2011

Emotastic

And yet not... because it's quasi-hopeful.

Ever find yourself swirling in a never-ending sea of thoughts and emotions, moving at such an intense speed that you can barely keep your head above the water long enough to take a breath before being shoved under again and held against your will? And every time you break free you lose another piece of your soul, which has been desperately clutching to reality, to the swells and crushing black oblivion? Yet you keep treading, keep fighting, even when you don’t understand why you’re fighting anymore -- because you know, somewhere inside you know, the day will come when the swells will break, the storm will cease, and you may once again see light on the horizon?

Yeah, it’s like that right now.

08 April 2011

I had a dream, which was not all a dream.

I had a dream, which was not all a dream.

Yesterday morning ushered in a new era in dream fascination for me. In the darkness of pre-dawn this morning, I awoke with fading visages of a certain actor-come-timelord from an earlier dream. As I clung to these pleasant thoughts, I rose up the ten inches I must strain to gauge illuminated digits on my clock. Realizing I still had over an hour until wakefulness became necessary, I settled back onto my pillow, facing the ‘no serious thoughts’ side of the bed* and drifted back into slumberland.
I dreamt of a rich court in high season, as an observer not a participant, though I felt that I myself was of noble descent. It was a bizarre Inception sort of moment, feeling like I watched a dream within my dream (when my dream itself felt like reality). The occurrences in this lush scene of aristocracy were of great import, emotion and measure, though I could not recall later the specifics.

The palaces of crowned kings--the huts,
The habitations of all things which dwell,
Were burnt for beacons

I ‘awoke’ in this dream to an elaborate funeral procession, capped off by the reigning monarch’s son acting as pallbearer-of-sorts. After the seemingly traditional pyre on the beach, the son raced down the dunes to the water with a torch, heaving it into the water to the applause of the crowd.
My relationship to this young monarch was unclear in absolute specifics yet obvious in emotional attachment – from both sides. After the wake we retired into a library or drawing room or some such large, secluded, grand room like the royals have (or I dream they have). We conversed, I consoled, and he confronted me about his father’s past and life. Apparently in this dream his connection to his father, though his only son and heir, was distant to the point of never really knowing the man. Information had only been disclosed to me since his father’s death, which I had not passed on to the son as of yet, out of want to spare him greater stress during the time of mourning. Especially since the father was a decidedly ignoble ruler, and man. Rather than understand, or even respect, my position (and our relationship), the son went on a tear – a torrent of emotion.

The brows of men by the despairing light
Wore an unearthly aspect, as by fits
The flashes fell upon them;

This is where the dream took on a decidedly Merlin-esque quality as it then became apparent that magic was a very real force in this realm. As the son’s emotions stormed, books came flying off shelves, papers flew about the room, furniture overturned, all with mere gestures from him. He then turned to me, eyes full of despair and pain – not even rage – as he uttered a spell. This spell somehow bound my lifeforce to his father’s spirit so the son could will the father into existence long enough to confront the man.

All earth was but one thought--and that was death

I shit you not readers, I felt this ‘spell’ as I have never felt any dream in my life. I half-woke to feeling as though my essence and half my internal organs were being ripped from my body. Within seconds I was awake, though barely conscious as the pain still reverberated through me. I was actually crying.
And yet… I felt tied to this dream. To the extent that I willed myself back to sleep to find some reconciliation to this physical and mental horror.

The father emerged, detailing his reprehensible exploits to the son and begging not only for forgiveness but for his son to remedy the mistakes made by his father’s rule. He then went on to chide his son for using the magic he did to conjure the father because of the damage it was wreaking on me. When the son finally turned to look at me again, his look immediately released the spell and he began to cry. Rushing to my side, he yelled for the court magician. Once arrived, the son continuously begged the magician to heal me, to save me. The magician explained that the spell used was too powerful to allow anything to heal me at the present. He then also chided the young ruler on the perils of using magic out of anger and pain and the damage it could cause. He warned that because of this damage not only might I never fully recover my former self, but I may never forgive him for exacting such pain on me – his best friend and his betrothed. The last bit that I recall as actual dream was the young man crying, apologizing in the most animated language for his betrayal and professing his true affection for me. The magician then sent him out of the room so I could be tended to, and at that point I was awake yet still continuing the story in my head.

I have never, ever experienced such a physical, visceral reaction to a dream... and damn was it terrifying and exhilarating. What can I say? I'm a dream masochist.



*Yes, recently I have needed to designate that when facing a certain direction while in bed, no serious life thoughts are allowed. This has become slightly successful and led to marginally better sleep patterns. Sometimes. Ish.

More Like This:

none