Something for Halloween... sort of.

He was a complicated man who wanted to be simple, and by "simple" he meant complicated, because everyone else around him had simple wants, and simple needs, and tunnel vision, and that only ever complicated things. Yes, he was a man of two minds about everything, which was great and fine, unless, of course, he had to make a decision.

Usually, that meant knowing nothing -- not specifically about anything, because in fact, he wanted to know everything; except the opinions of others. Those were what he wanted nothing of, because they could, probably, influence his decision unnecessarily, and make him act on information that was not his own. That was what others did -- the simple, the complicated, they let peer pressure unduly influence them, they let what others thought color the way they would think. And he was not a man like that, oh no, and he would not dare become that way, even fleetingly. And so strong was this influence in him that, when faced with a decision about something [or to do something], that he already knew of some general opinion about, and then he would go immediately against that inclination.

All of this was directly affecting the dilemma he was in. It was Halloween, and at the last minute and old friend had decided to stop by. He hadn't expected this, of course, and knew he had to come up with some activity for them to partake in, and for lack of a better idea [and indeed, knowing anyone else might torture themselves over coming up with a better idea], he had ambled down to his local video store, with the intent of securing them a horror film to partake in. This, coupled with a pizza and the bag of candy corn he'd acquired in case the trick-or-treaters who never came had come, would have been a fine, acceptable sort of night.

Two problems had arisen. The first was annoying, but entirely out of his hands. The short notice his friend had given him for their evening together was problematic, since, as it was Halloween, the video store was not surprisingly under stocked, no doubt because the majority of horror enthusiasts had made it out earlier on, content in the knowledge that they had their perfect October evening already planned out, well in advance. And he decided that really, to be one of these nonspontaneous persons was better, because everyone was always making these plans, and if things didn't work out they could get, well... complicated.

The other problem was what had been left over. There were two movies left in their plastic slip cases on the shelves, and choosing was going to be difficult. Oh, yes, he had ways he could compare them, the information, for instance, on their tapes [as he thought horror films were best watched on VHS, and had yet to hear anyone agree with him] was there in front of him, readily available. The titles, both innocuous, "The" something, that something being an object that was only vaguely threatening, coupled with the studios under which they were made. The running times for both were the same, and both had come out in the same year. There was, he thought, no way to arbitrarily select one over the other, and as he held them one in each hand, at eye level, he cursed that even their weight, and the color of their cases, were the same.

Which meant he would have to weigh them on their merits, an annoying conclusion he'd actually come to right away. The problem was, he'd seen neither, but heard much about both. And this had frozen him, completely disabled him from making any sort of decision.

The first was, of course, well thought of. Its director was popular, outspoken, and old-school -- he'd plied his craft making low-budget films with his friends, and had worked his way up from nothing. He was self-made, and his films could be enjoyed on many levels, specifically as pop corn films, for fun, but with symbolist undertones about life, society, and the evils inherent to man. This film was, for all intents and purposes, his magnum opus, and in all circles of theory was above reproach, so much so that even those who refused to demean themselves by partaking in horror held the film high, and classified it as one of those rare moments when a movie had managed to prevail upon the shortcomings of its genre. And to him, no such pretension could sound more stomach turning.

The other had a reputation as well -- one of complete and utter schlock. The acting was bad, the director was drunk, and the writing abysmal, and universally it was said that the budget was simply too low to save it, and too high for what the film had turned out as. It was derided regularly, and often listed as the worst of the craft, to the point that in trivia its title had become synonymous with "garbage." And this dissent, normally, would be enough for him to take up the film, and proclaim it as brilliant, if not for the regrettable fact that many "fans" had yet beat him to it, and raised the movie to cult status, proclaiming it so incompetent as to be hilarious, so awful that it actually strikes of genius. Some radical element even dared to call the film enjoyable in more than just the ironic sense, that somewhere in this disaster was a glimmer of intent, a commentary on film, and quality, and the genre itself. And in the face of this, he could not bring himself to that place where he might be, if all that was thought of it had been bad.

So he stood there, unsure and unmoving, both tapes sitting in his outstretched arms, like some balanced scale which would occasionally tip, but always level out. And over an hour had past, and the attendant had came by and told him the store would soon be closing, but still he could not choose. Even when he was nearly sure that his friend had arrived, even knowing that he was uncharacteristically late, he was compelled to stay, to weigh his options. He felt he needed the time, that he had to decide.

It was a simple decision, after all.

Video Games and Panic Attacks

I've actually tried to make this post a couple of times. Giving it another shot. Maybe third's the charm, right?

Story time.

This has not been a good couple of days. Actually, they've been down right bad, and explaining why involves also explaining why the days the preceded it were good.

After Dad died [not that it's been all that long yet], I gave up video games. Specifically, console/hand held games, basically shutting my DS and the PS2 [yes, I'm behind] up in the cupboard, while I would still occasionally play a game of Plants vs Zombies. It wasn't targeted, and was hardly intentionally, I just have this habit that when bad things happens, I deprive myself of something, usually something that brings me joy. I doubt it's particularly healthy, and I've only ever really met one other person who did it, and they were way more comfortable with it than I am. Actually just mentioning it here is making me bristle a bit.

I guess you could compare it a little bit to Lent. I'm sort of the opposite of religious, more superstitious really, so it goes along in that same vein. Sometimes it happens naturally -- when Mom and Doug split up, and I lost the house, just moving into my grandmother's spare room and giving up a lot of privacy was enough. I'm not even sure why gaming was what I decided to offer up this time. If I had to take a stab in the dark, I'd say it was just me being pragmatic; before Dad died, I'd just downloaded all these different television shows, some to watch with him. I was writing anything that I could particularly afford to put away, so that was out. And as many mixed feelings as I have when I get a new stack of comic books, a pull-list is like a binding contract... and anyway, a bunch of comics were still coming in the mail. It even crossed my mind to give up the blog, but as glad as I am to have this space, I don't always consider it a "fun" hobby. A lot of it is to keep me writing, keep me working, and keep me... well, for lack of a better word, sane.

And those who know me can attest, I don't really have a whole lot of fun anymore. So video games it was.

Lately I've been on a minor self-improvement kick, so I've been thinking back a lot to times when I was happy. Some of things I've come up with have surprised me, some less so, and few are really things I've been able to duplicate. But one time in particular did keep coming back to me, and that was during my second year at Bennington, when Ian and I still shared a room, and thanks to a sort of awkward situation next door, Sam was basically staying with us too. For Sam and Ian, it was kind of awful -- it put Ian out, and Sam really wanted her own space, but for me, at the time, I really enjoyed that, having one of my best friends and my girlfriend so close to me. Yes, there were little problems, and I don't want those who were around for those times to think I'm looking back with stars in my eyes, but I really felt at home then. Ian on his bed, Sam on mine, and me in Ian's chair, playing my Pokemon on my Game Boy.

Of course, there was no way to get those people back, not like that [nor do I really want that], but if there was anything out of that situation that could be duplicated, any part of it that might be a bit of obtainable joy, what would it be?

Why hello there.

I've always gotten a lot of flak for the Pokemon thing. It inhabits that weird place in the video game hierarchy -- the old school, Pac Man and NES Mario crowd aren't fans, and the more mainstream Wii/Guitar Band/Halo/FPS crowd find it childish. Even the hardcore RPG players like to give me shit for my habit, and these are the World of Warcraft types I'm talking about, so it's not a very popular hobby. Then again, I like Shakespeare and pro-wrestling [not together], so I guess I'm kind of used to that.

Occasionally, I'll get defensive. But I've never really cared.

Anyway, not long before everything fell apart, I'd bought the Platinum Version of Pokemon for DS. I'd gotten about half-way through before my self-imposed embargo, and when I picked it up again and started playing, I can't even describe how helpful it was. I shut off. Not completely, not emotionally, but my head, all the buzzing and screaming, all the ideas and the all the self-doubt, it shut up for a little bit. I felt like I'd finally switched off, a rare thing, even more so lately. I felt good.

And I think it translated a bit. For a few days I started sleeping normally. All these fun sort of ideas started popping up in my head -- nothing particularly cheery, that's not really me, but I got to that place where the ideas were flowing freely, sometimes faster than I could get them down on paper. And I was enjoying writing on paper again, even sort of fascinated with looking at my handwriting, how the marks of the pen dried on the page. It sounds a little ridiculous, I'm sure, but everything was a little like a movie. Close-ups in all the right places, a sound track that wasn't meant to drown things out, but to compliment the scene.

There were other things that could have been causing it too. It was cooler out, my sinuses had finally let up, I could breath for a change, and Grandma had just come home from the hospital without needing 24/7 oxygen. Also wrote an e-mail I'd been working up to. It had been a week for the small victories. I didn't feel anymore hopeful, life didn't seem brighter, I doubt I was even in what you'd call a "good mood," yet life seemed a little easier. No anxiety attacks. And I don't know if it was the weather or picking up the DS again and putting some time towards getting a Milotic, but things didn't suck.

Couple days ago, things started going back towards normal.

It's almost funny. I woke up sneezing, and way too warm. Added that extra blanket to the bed just a little too soon. And before I even got up, in the back of my head there was this Hunter voice, saying "there's nothing out there for you, and you goddamn know it. Shore up your defenses, and wait the bastards out." Those were the exact words. I thought it was funny, and put it up as my Facebook status. I should have listened to myself.

I spent the morning writing. Had some good ideas, actually had a really good opener to go along with what I posted the other day, but I couldn't seem to get motivated enough to get off the paper, and start typing. I felt irritable -- mostly about stupid things, for instance, several of my friends on Facebook, and a few of the writers I follow on Twitter all were making remarks about prescriptivism, preaching about grammar, antiquated phrases, slang, and colloquialisms. Rather than be argumentative, I thought I'd sit down and write up my own thoughts on the subject, for solidarity [it's not as obsessive as it sounds. I recently found some of my old writing from high school, and I figured if my views now seemed as unintentionally hilarious to me in five years as those did today, it'd be a nice a little thing to have posted, to look back on]. This blog is supposed to be about writing, after all.

But again, I couldn't seem to get it going. I got half-way through a draft that seemed forced, and then started feeling nervous. I suddenly wanted out of the house and away from the computer -- not odd, so I grabbed my jacket and headed outside. While I was walking, I noticed something about the jacket that hadn't bothered me before -- there was a flap, on the inside seam, that was white on the opposite side, and had folded over. On a black jacket, I thought it looked like crap, and after once around the block I realized I really wanted a much longer trip out. So I decided I'd take the long walk out to the block of stores [a couple of miles, at least] -- where Smith's and Rite Aid was, and pick up some safety pins. If they were black, I could pin the seam back in place, punk-rock style, and maybe I wouldn't feel so useless.

It's hard to describe a panic attack. A friend of mine has been toying with putting them in something he's working on, and because of that I've been thinking about how hard they are to really explain properly. Especially since I think they're a different sort of thing for different people -- just thinking about how I've seen them in movies: Sean Connery freaking out in "Finding Forrester" with all the deep, echo-y breathing and the quit cuts to the crowds, or Jack Nicholson's fake heart attack near the end of "Something's Gotta Give" [please go back to making fun of me for Pokemon]. Mine have never even been remotely like that; usually they're focused on pushing through, functioning, hiding that I'm even having one. And naturally, the lack of sympathy for the thing that I'm not letting anyone know I'm having starts to make me irritable.

Sound familiar?

Later that evening, I had to go grocery shopping. I wasn't feeling much better, but I had at least exhausted myself a little with the long walk, and having acquired my mundane little trophy in the form of black safety pins [which I still haven't used]. Still, when I got into the store, country music was blaring loudly over the speakers, and in way too much of hurry I wound up tangling the headphones of my iPod badly. As I tried to pull them free from themselves, I only made the knot worse, and as I'd already taken a shopping cart, I felt like a pretty big obstacle in the empty aisle of the store. I panicked more because that, absolutely sure some unseen shopper was going to start sighing impatiently behind me, and my hands started shaking which just made it take longer. In my head, I had to keep telling myself that I was there shopping, and that there was no rule that said I wasn't allowed to take five or six minutes and untangle my headphones so I didn't have to listen to the prattling of Taylor Swift or Toby Keith. I felt sure someone was going to say something to hurry me along. And I really, really didn't want that to happen, for some reason.

I finally got everything back in order, but it never really let up. I don't know if it's possible to have "rolling panic attacks," but that's certainly what these have felt like. I've done my best to keep from snapping at people, but my fuse has been a lot shorter, and any time I seem to get a break, I just feel absolutely exhausted. I only spent about an hour today writing, even on paper, which feels like a shame since even without much in the way of new ideas, the past few days have given me a lot I could be working from. I feel like I could be getting some things done.

Highs and lows. I sort of hope that today is the end of it, but not sleeping tonight has not made me optimistic. Hopefully I'll get out this weekend, maybe see some people, and just generally get my mind off things. I'd probably feel more sure about that if I knew where all this came from, but for the time being I'll be happy enough if it just goes away.

More later. Might have an important post next week.

All I wanted was an Anarchical Aviary and to have a little fun. But fun’s just not cool anymore.

“We have a policy here. First meeting, you have to speak.”

“Right. Yeah. Okay.”

“Is now okay?”

“Sure. Um, well, I called myself the Unyielding –“

“Oh, no names. If you can.”

“Right. Well, anyway, my costume – I wore this black trench coat with a pentagram on the front. Wanted them to think I was magic, but, ah, obviously, I wasn’t.”

“What was your ability?”



“Just like that.”

“Come on. There’s no reason to hide now.”

“No. No, I guess not. Old habits though, you know? Mine was… hypnotism. My grandpa, he was this stage performer back in the day, “World’s Fastest Hypnotist” was what they billed him as. It’s not… it’s funny, it’s all just hand gestures, eye movements, voice modulation. Which is why I never wore an eye mask, just the scarf and the fedora, like the Shadow.”

“So your grandfather taught you this skill.”

“That, and a lot of other things too, how to mimic sounds, movements. Stage tricks, sleight of hand, throwing your voice. I know it sounds ridiculous, but it all works. Really well, actually. My whole “career,” I might of had to throw two punches.”

“So you felt that you were good at what you did?”

“I was. Yeah, I think so. I mean, sure, some were just burglars and purse snatchers, small time stuff. But I got a big write-up in all the papers after taking out this drug ring, and I did a lot of hostage situations, like negotiations. Those were just… walk in, the bad guys would hand me their guns, and we’d walk out. Easy. And I had a few real villains too, there was this bird nut I used to fight sometimes, and a blind guy, who had eyeballs tattooed on his hands, and fingers. And this guy, this cyber terrorist or social activist – “Don’t Blink” – he was one of mine. Gave me the slip once with a flash mob. So I guess I kind of knew him when.”

“And you’re proud of that?”

“Well, yeah. He’s big time now. And I was his first. I mean, I wasn’t bad at this. I was actually really good.”

“But then what happened?”

“What else? I was out all night. Patrol. I’d sleep through alarms, I’d miss work. Couldn’t keep a job at all. Had to lie to pretty much everyone, which with my powers wasn’t hard, but it’s not like my whammy was permanent. And after awhile, I couldn't keep what I told who straight, so I wouldn’t even bother. I guess it all caught up. That I wasn’t proud of.”

“I imagine it was hard.”

“Sure. And sad too. Because like I said, the costumes and stuff – I was great at all that. Real life though… never quite got it down.”

Outer Gods, Other Gods, Elder Ones, Great Old Ones... wait, how are there plurals of "one?"

Today was productive, in its way.

Anyone who's read my stuff might notice I tend to work within my means. If I write a script, it's usually something that can be shot simply [framed, Clerks-style], with one or two people, and nothing too fantastical, that would take a great deal of makeup or special effects. Even "Nova" is pretty light on the crazy stuff, and what there is we'll probably be able to do pretty cheaply on a indie budget.

But lately I've had a sort of elaborate and complicated bunch of ideas in my head, and despite trying to push them back and ignore them, today I sat down with pen and paper and put together several pages of really good notes, and a sorta-outline that I could probably easily do up a script for. The idea itself is currently titled "PsyOps," which is really cheesy and will no doubt change eventually, and if I'm honest with myself [and if I take the advice of the few people I've talked about it with], then it would probably be far better served as a super-hero comic or graphic novel. But with the dearth of artistic-types in my life currently. I figured I'd take the MarkMillar route [God help me], and try to set it up as a screenplay instead.

The content is a little all over the place. On the surface, it's pretty much a horror film, with a bunch of crazy monsters modeled after some of what I call "neglected favorites" -- some Lovecraftian creatures I always thought didn't get enough play, winter-weather monsters like the werewolf and the wendigo, and a personal [and semi-local] fav, the Mothman. I've always found these creatures the scariest because of their vague connections to humanity itself, and as corny as it seems the Rod Serling-like indictments of humanity are always something I've gotten off on a little bit. It also felt really natural to go gruesome with them -- something that's been important to me as of late. I recently picked up the notes and pages to the project Casey and I were working on, a zombie movie called "Floaters," and have noticed that while what we had a good amount of humor in it for the genre, I sort of wanted to take another run at the script and just try and be as scary, depraved, and horrific with the subject matter as I could be, and then maybe have Casey or I do a rewrite later that puts the levity back into it. And while that's still in my plans, it occurred to me that the same sort of method could be used with this project too.

It hasn't helped that I've been sleeping a bit more. That always comes with nightmares, and while I thought I was used to it I've been surprised by how much they have shaken me up lately.Transferring some of that to paper hasn't been cathartic yet, but I've barely scratched the surface. I'm hoping maybe I can make use it, of maybe come up with a few good scares for others. This time of year always reminds me how much people like that.

The other aspect of this project is how much I've been thinking about inheritance since dad died. Not in the traditional sense; I've written before how Dad didn't have much to leave, and yet I feel sometimes like a great many things have come to rest upon my shoulders since he left. Simple or even silly things that I now have -- his comic books which have come trickling in to me, the fact that I share his name, or the handful of stories I am relatively sure he told me and no one else -- take on great importance, and feel like they come with not necessarily a burden, but at least a heavy responsibility [which is also funny, because Dad was not so big on the responsibility end]. These ideas of legacy and inheritance have become pretty pervasive with me, more so than anything has in a long while, at least since college, when I read "Tristram Shandy" and Sterne basically introduced me to Locke.

I've come to realize how much of this is all around us -- that there are so many things our parents, and their parents, all the generations before us have left, for better or worse. Sticking just to my interests lately, I've been reading a lot about the Cold War, and legacy of it, and just the general thinking of that time, and how all of that was based on the thinking of the generation before it. And many of these attitudes have shaped how the world we live in [and supposedly have control of, to a degree] functions today, which is as fascinating as it is depressing. But it's also staggeringly massive and broad, and getting a good handle on it has been hard. So I thought maybe simplifying the concept of legacy a bit, making it a little more one-to-one, and working it out on scale which I'm comfortable with [involving things like monsters and such] might help me get a better handle on it. So there's a lot of that in there, the idea of inheritance, and leaving things behind, and in the more literal sense some of those Cold War remnants as well.

There's also "Aliens" to consider. I love that movie [my second "R" rated film], and have wanted to do a homage to it for some time. Freaks and guys with guns? If it made me love "Pitch Black," I will never apologize for it.

I've also got some ideas to recycle for this. I wrote a treatment a while back for a "Doom" movie, mostly because of how royally they cocked up the "Doom" that came out in 2005. As an aside, while I was never a huge "Doom" player, or even a big fan, I always loved the novelty of the story idea -- that here are human beings, just starting to touch the heavens and strip mine it for fun and profit, and in order to do that more efficiently, we invent teleporters that shift things back and forth to Earth for us. And then our shining tools of commerce and progress, well, one of them malfunctions and boom: we accidentally open a gate to Hell on Mars. Seriously, how the guy who wrote "Cape Fear" and "The Glass House" wound up getting that wrong [and with the Rock in it as Sarge, no less] I'll never understand, but I guess we all make mistakes [Strick also did "Arachnophobia," which while cliche still managed to be entertaining]. So there's a little of that in there too.

Anyway, that was my day. A good one, really, when I can't get the pen moving as fast on page as the ideas are coming out of my head, and the only downer to it was when I hit the late evening and started running out of steam. I got dangerously close to a "I don't feel like working, what if I never feel like working?" anxiety attack, but luckily I was able to whip out those pages and read over what I had, and push a lot of that sort of thinking out of my head.

Doesn't always work out like that. But today it did.

Another song we won't be able to get for "Nova"

The song is "Angel Gone," by Beat Happening.

Go ahead, download it and have a listen [please don't sue me, K Records].

There's something obviously sad about this song, but at the same time lighthearted, and almost funny -- a weird side-effect of Beat Happening's odd vocal sound -- which fits with the feeling I was going for with "Nova" almost perfectly. Plus, the song actually has "Angel" in the title, how cool is that? Even more than the Mountain Goats song I posted earlier, there's something about the simple, and almost monotone effect the lo-fi has in this song, that makes me think it'd be perfect to open the film with, flashing titles over shots of Huntington in the bright mid-morning, with a possible reprieve near the end over a shot of the starless sky.

Of course, much like the John Darnielle song, the odds of Kyle and I actually being able to afford a song like this for the movie is a bit of pipe dream -- but it hit me as stunningly fitting that I've been meaning to post it here for days.

Honestly there's something about this whole Olympia, Washington sound that stirs a lot of the same feelings up in me that I wanted "Nova" to stir up in others. In my mind, "Nova" existed in a simple world where something complicated happened, and even though I think the ending has wound up taking on something a little darker than I originally intended, the final scene on the roof is meant to be kind of cute and [interpretively] idealized.

Which is funny, because I've really only come into this whole twee thing since "Nova" has been finished. I knew about the genre, though not by name, but it would be hard to have missed entirely. My near-constant Kurt Cobain/Nirvana obsession meant I knew about K Records from his tattoos [hardly the same as knowing any songs], and the few covers the band did. I listened to the Vaselines in high school and college, but never enough to consider myself a real fan. The closest I might have gotten until recently was Donna Dresch -- who when reading about her I'd see the names of a lot 80s/90s twee bands, but rarely would any collaborations sound much like what they were individually known for.

A friend recommended I check out Rose Melberg -- and while reading about her it became clear that Tiger Trap and the Softies might be bands I could get interested in. A Wikipedia search later, and I started learning the terminology -- "twee" meaning "cute" in the derogatory, but taken back by the genre or, on occasion, rejected by it completely. Some of it was awful -- too New Wave for my taste [the bastard cousin of punk, as far I'm concerned], while other things were punk-based or sort of what's called "indie rock" now. Lo-fi, garage stuff, basically, and right up my alley. Through Twitter, my friend Lena hooked me up an article over on which was helpful, and I was off and running, and I've been sort of up to my elbows in bands like Tulleycraft, Black Tambourine, and even the Magnetic Fields lately.

Again, with this song it's a shame it's so unlikely we could use it. By the time I'm done, I'll likely have the first ever unauthorized soundtrack/mixtape for a 25 minute film.

R.I.P. Cap'n Lou, New Beginning for the Familiar, that other thing I do in the shower...

I'd like to start by saying thank you to Heke and Zoe for their feedback regarding the new setup around here. I was hoping for a bit more of a response to such a jarring change, but I guess it's one of those things that felt like a bigger deal to me. Still, thanks girls. I really appreciate you weighing in.

More than a few people know I'm a wrestling fan -- I've posted about it here once or twice, and I feel like it's only fair to pause and mention the passing of Captain Lou Albano. Albano's career in wrestling was just slightly before my time [or at the very least, before the time I got interested], and even for the little crossover there might have been, I was a southern wrestling fan, high on Ric Flair and WCW and guys with shin covers that looked like cowboy boots. So a lot of my exposure to the Captain was through Saturday morning cartoons, where he portrayed the live action Super Mario, and on MTV, most famously in replays of a certain Cyndi Lauper music video.

Still, Captain Lou was a rad guy, and definitely a pop culture icon [and I love those] who deserves some high praise and fond remembrance. So that's why when my friend John told me this funny but still sort of touching story about meeting him, I told him he should post it over on his site, the Bathroom Monologues, and if he did I would [quoting] "link the shit out of it." As a man of my word, and because I do think this is a really sweet story, I encourage everyone to check out "The Time I Met Captain Lou Albano." And yes, John's Bathroom Monologues are usually fiction, but this one is quite true, and as good of a remembrance of the man as most I've heard lately.

As for writing, I've been doing some work on "The Familiar" this week, specifically trying to take all the stuff out that doesn't fit with the overall tone, and sort of make the things that do work better. In this case, all that really means is working out a new outline, and replacing some of the characters with some that are a bit more down to to earth. A lot of the decisions/questions/changes I've been grappling with are old ones -- stuff that's been on my mind since not long after I finished it the script the first time. Naturally, the solution came to me in the shower, while I was washing my hair, dreading but resigned to the fact that I was about to spend another night torturing myself over the same handful of problems when, like a flash, the answer hit me, and I got to feel very, very stupid for not seeing it before.

I can't go into it as much as I'd like [since I'm still working on it], but this is all a good reminder that no matter how daunting something seems, sometimes the simplest solution is really the best. Sometimes, that subplot you're trying to thread/force through your story is actually a much better place to start everything.

Still a lot left to do, of course. The whole script needs a re-write and a polish, and the new stuff that I need to write is a mixed bag. I feel like I have most of my new characters down, but since most of the scenes will be exposition scenes, where this or that is getting explained, I'm already worried about them coming off as dry, boring, or far-fetched. My hope is the better the job I do with it, the easier it'll be to fix the last, big problem with "Familiar" -- namely the ending, which either needs changed, or what I have needs to be made to work. I'm leaning more towards the latter, but given how things have been coming together lately, I've been trying to think outside of the box and consider some alternatives.

Not that this will mean anything to anyone who hasn't at least read a draft of "The Familiar" but I figured I passed it around enough anyone reading this probably has.

Oh, and did I mention my friend John wrote this really great thing about the time he met Captain Lou Albano? I'm really glad someone talked him into posting it.


The more things change...

What, is something different?

The new layout is a slightly modified template by Brian Veloso, with the code posted by Quite Random, both of who's links now join the bottom of this page. Credit where credit is due, after all. The "slightly modified" was my doing, and the image was provided by user wildhood114's Flickr account. If by chance Mr. Hood swings by here and doesn't want me to use his images, he can e-mail me at, and I'll be happy to oblige him. I hope not though.

I've been going back and forth on whether or not to make this change for a while now, but for various reasons kept putting it off. I really like the Blogspot interface, but the provided templates are simple, generic, and boring, especially in comparison to how smart and crisp my friend Heke's Wordpress blog looks. I didn't want to switch, especially after having this one for a year, so avoiding the default designs and making my own was another option I had. But while I'm knowledgeable enough to tweak html coding in a pinch, I'm really not good enough to do things like my friends Justin or Zoe did to spice up their sites. I knew there were places to find templates online, but a lot of those tended to either look like strict business blogs or glittery myspace pages, neither of which I wanted for this.

I also wasn't sure if it was something I should be worried about. I'm a writer, and I don't have the skills or the design savvy to make something like Glen has, which is so obviously indicative of his work, art, and personality [maybe if Sam and I were still working together, of if Justin and I had worked more together]. Plus, just the nature of what I do, the writing, doesn't lend itself to be too visual. And since I am a writer, why should I care if the page is generic looking or not? It should be about the words, right? John's page rocks the same white Blogspot template that a lot of blogs have, but the nature and the content of his Bathroom Monologues makes the page stand out. Still, mine has yet to solely be about writing, and also has a lot to do with where my head's at and even about blogging itself, so I think this might be a reflection of me feeling a little vain. Maybe wanting to shake things up a bit.

Besides, as much as I like black, I always thought I was a little more gray [re: Mrs. Jones].

So here it is. I'd very much like to know what people think about the change [all four of you], whether it's an improvement or not, if there's anything I didn't think of or might have missed, etc. I haven't even made up my mind about it yet, so don't worry about hurting my feelings.

Oh, and the one thing I'm having trouble with is integrating the "Following" box. I'm working on it, but it tends to break margins or make things disappear when I add it, so in the meantime it won't be there. I really appreciate those who do publicly follow the blog though, and I like that being there. since it means they have links to their profile on the page. If I can't figure out something that looks nice, I'll just put in another link bar... but until then, apologies, all around.

I may not believe in god, but how about some absolution over here?

As writing goes lately, I've felt like I can do a bit better.

I've been pretty busy the past couple of weeks, especially for how much I ever do [re: very little], and haven't had the time to just sit down and pound out a page or two a night like I usually do. Instead, I've been getting a lot of personal errands done as I prepare for an upcoming trip, which I will talk both more and less about in a later entry. Add to that Grandma's monthly nut orders [the nuts and candies she sells to friends and people in the neighborhood] recently arrived, which has left me as an unofficial stock boy again, knocking around boxes that make me smell like cashews along with other physical labor I'm not all that used to. This isn't such a terrible thing -- shopping trips and a little house cleaning are pretty standard fare considering my living situation, and I never mind, but when I factor in things to do for myself time seems to get a lot less available for work.

It's not a huge problem really, but I do try to put some time every day into writing something, even if it just winds up in the recycle bin, and when I don't get to I always feel a bit like I wasted the day. Worse yet, as I mentioned a littler earlier last week, if the whatever I'm tooling with creatively seems silly to me -- a treatment for episode of some TV show I'll never write for, or a comic book idea, I don't tend to count that either, which means in the past couple weeks I haven't actually worked near enough for my own standards, and it's been making me feel awfully guilty.

A lot of this comes from a personal satisfaction place. I don't write for anyone else, or any reason else, so if what I'm doing is not particularly pleasing to me, I rarely feel like I accomplished anything. The same goes with other kinds of achievements -- a friend of mine recently asked me why, despite not writing, I couldn't garner some satisfaction from all the chores and errands I was completing. The short answer, of course, is because it's boring -- there's no particular skill in getting these things done, though I do enjoy shopping, even for groceries, as there's something sort of posh and adult about it for me, and it gives me plenty of time in a Randall-hospitable climate with a good excuse to listen to music. But there's no after buzz for that, no accomplishment haze after getting finished, it's a task.

Same is true for a lot of writing I'm doing right now. I feel sort of lazy and uninspired, and I feel like I haven't gotten anything done -- but that's not entirely true. Nearly all of last Friday went into working on "Social Shuffle," and the days before that went to gathering notes and ideas for it and several other short pieces I had in mind to do [boy, I wish I'd picked differently on which to follow up on]. That's no different from the satisfying work I do, the only difference being "Shuffle" didn't turn out like I wanted it to at all. As I aimed for this sort of fun, "Modest Proposal" kind of essay, I fell really short, coming out with the greasy, fast food burger equivalent of Nabokov, which doesn't even deserve to have his name attached to it, much like "cheeseburger" feels blasphemous when paired with "McDonald's."

"Social Shuffle" doesn't work on a lot of levels, and if not for the amount of grief it caused me to finish [and the feeling of guilt I had for thinking it was good for any length of time], I probably would have just deleted it and never mentioned it here. There's very little in it worth saving, and I don't see future drafts improving upon it -- the idea is a bad one, the execution is bad, and I'm trying to fit one of my logical leaps "that thing x can be related to thing y, even though they're actually not even in the same alphabet" in without fully understanding why I relate the two things in my head. As an exercise, it's forgivable, but for the headache it gave me and the short amount of time that I thought I was writing an acceptable sequel to "New Hooverville" it's sad to me that I thought it was worth my time.

And since there's no success, there's no satisfaction either, and even though I'm clearly writing, it really doesn't feel like it.

Upon hearing all this, a friend of mine put it best, and I'll try to paraphrase: "It's the other downside to working for yourself. If you worked in an office, and did a bad job on something, you'd still get paid. There'd still be a reward for finishing." And I think that's absolutely right, that since my only reward is personal satisfaction, working hard and getting something done isn't always going to be enough -- sometimes I will do both of those things and reap no benefits from it [save perhaps the lessons I learn from failing so miserably, but that's a blog in and of itself].

This also raises a lot of really strange questions. When I finished drafts for both "Familiar" and "Trendsetter," I didn't look favorably on either of those at the time, in fact immediately after I felt burned out and hated them. Yet I still felt like I had accomplished something. And later, when I came back to them, I realized a lot of that "hate" was just me being very inside the story, very intent to get it finished, and very worried it wasn't going to be as good as I thought it would be. I felt a similar disdain for "Shuffle," with the difference being "Shuffle" is actually awful, while "Familiar" and "Trendsetter" had stuff in them that was worthwhile.

So is this my litmus test for knowing when something's worth pursuing -- feeling like I actually got something done? Is there some subconscious element to this I don't know?

All good questions. Right now, all of them are pretty unanswerable. But definitely something to think about.

Tomorrow is another day full of errands, as my retainer broke [I sleep in it, post-braces... lots of people do, well into their older years, yet for some reason saying "my retainer broke" makes me feel like I'm back in middle school], and I still need to get a few other things before October ends. Justin also mentioned hanging out tomorrow, though I don't know if it's comic-related or just social -- either sounds great, really.

I also have several ideas for entries here that I haven't gotten around to yet. Most are actually sitting in the drafts section of my blog, half finished, though it seems my blogging has been effected by this weirdness in the same way my writing has. Working on fixing that.

More soon.

The Social Shuffle

This is actually a bit of a mess, but I've written so little lately and posted even less here that I thought I'd share it just to show that I have been working. As always, I welcome comments and feedback, though I don't really feel like there's much point in working on this any further [there's really not much salvageable here]. Maybe I'll feel different in the next couple days, but I've already spent most of the past twelve hours on it, and boy, do I wish is showed.

"The Social Shuffle"
or: "This had a much better title it wound up not deserving."

The author would like to preface this article by reminding his readers that he actually has no idea how Apple’s iPod Shuffle technology works, and his assumptions on the programs involved are merely conjecture. He is more than willing to believe that it’s far more or less complicated than he’s made it out to be, and for the purposes of this article, doesn’t care.

It is unlikely that there is a greater challenge in the post-college but pre-real life time period [known to last as short as three months or as long as nine years, depending on the state of the individual’s financial aid debt, standing relationship with family figures, pursuance of higher education, and general area of occupation] than finding a healthy social routine. Without the classes and the extra-circulars that propagate around a scholastic setting, one may find it difficult to meet like-minded thinkers and those with common interests. Those who have found employment, whether temporary or long term, will often deem their co-workers an imperfect fit for these needs; entry level jobs attract a wide-range of people from all walks, and the universal shared life-experience combined with the ability to ingest tequila slammers during daily happy hours do not necessarily lasting relationships make.

So what is a lonely twenty-something to do when faced with such inhospitable conditions for finding companionship? Solutions are available, but most are far from ideal and none can be applied across the board to all individual situations. Some quarter-lifers may be proficient in public socialization, and possess enough of the attribute known as “charm” that they will find company in any crowd, while lesser peers will find companionship by benefit of being sought out by these same charismatic personalities. Others may have carry-over friends or acquaintances from college or high school, and will utilize these connections to bring new people into their lives, often permanently. There are also a slew of often looked down upon options, like online personals, church mixers, and the ever dreadful “friend hook-up,” which will at the very least provide the necessary romantic partnership, and with any luck said new partner will bring enough to the table socially to cover for any existing deficiencies.

Even taking all these things into consideration, and assuming those with such prospects available take full advantage of them and find success, there is still a small percentage of quarter-lifers left out. Many wrongly assume these oddments are just that – odd; social lepers who couldn’t string together a “hello, my name is blank,” if the first four words were already placed on a name tag for them, who bristle at the thought of eye contact and choke when faced with simple questions such as “Why are you staring?” This is all, of course, categorically unfair, and the supposed worst of these non-social people [not “anti-social,” an unnecessary and often crippling negative title] could only be accused of a natural shyness, a trait which is largely acknowledged today to be an attractive quality in both males and females, often considered endearing, if not “cute,” in a strictly non-pejorative sense. These quarter-lifers are no less interesting than their peers, and are only guilty of having just, thus far, been unlucky enough to find no one intuitive enough to notice their personal potential and put forth the effort to bring them out of their shell. The selfishness of others should not be a slight against the shy, but alas, this is just another too-soon-learned inequity of adulthood.

Timidity is only a minority of this minority, though much like their shy counterparts, their peers who inhabit it do so for equally respectable reasons. Many are especially bold, pursuing new lives or niche jobs that require leaving their established social comfort zones. Others are exceptionally driven, to perhaps the point of distraction, and upon achieving certain goals have decided to return to social life only to find their time away has alienated them from the masses. Both should be seen as ambitious dreamers, who have chosen to strike out on their own and in doing so have lost [or at least distanced themselves] from friends and family, becoming the prodigal figures “brought into a world they never made.” Adjustment is difficult; and without the qualities previously mentioned here, they will find both romantic and platonic relationships difficult to attain.

Naturally, our shared human condition, with its pervasive need to find safety in the interpersonal bonds of companionship, demands us to solve this problem, even if we are not one of the few it afflicts. Indeed, too much time has already been lost in the treatment of the majority’s social diseases, and as is often the case, this has caused the remainder’s ills to fester and swell. It is now our calling, nay our responsibility, to put forward thought to solving the suffering minority’s query and find solutions, starting with theoretical ones.

Like all great thinkers, we first turn to what is present at hand. Technological wonders abound in this world, and the same ingenuity which brings us convenience in our ever day lives may present us with the answers we are seeking. Take Apple’s iPod MP3 player, truly a marvel in entertainment, both small in size and light in weight, but within it we can store gigabytes upon gigabytes of information; images, movies, audio books, and most famously, music. And the options provided for listening to said music are just as great in number. With a press of a button, we can listen to the same song numerous times, play albums of a single artist in the order of their release, create customized playlists, or even have the device randomly select songs from our collection to play for us. This last feature even predates the device itself, as an option on home, CD-based entertainment systems where it was first called “Shuffle.”

One needs only to regularly play songs on “Shuffle” to recognize a pattern that the iPod seems to rely on while playing these songs. Though randomized, an individual listener may notice the program’s proclivity to play certain songs the listener is especially fond of, and has frequently played on the device in the past. This is even more apparent when a new song or album is introduced to the playlist – the MP3 player will continue to favor selected tracks which are popular with the listener, but will gradually but randomly seed songs into the shuffled playlist. This allows the listener to acclimate themselves to new music while never straying too far from their comfort zone. As time progresses, unfavorable songs will be weeded out manually by the user, while new favorites will come to reflect that status by the program regularly introducing them into future shuffled playlists.

A similar process might be applied. Say for instance we sit one of our lonely quarter-lifers in a single room alone. We gather the few personal connections they have available [if any] and send one into the room at a time, alternating them tag-team style every say, fifteen-to-twenty-minutes. After several hours of this [stretched over a period of days, of course, so as not to overwhelm the subject] we will begin to introduce new people, some selected via the subject’s known interests, others with seemingly no similarities whatsoever. They will be seeded in, one at a time, among those our twenty-something feels comfortable with, all the while allowing the subject to make requests to remove certain new individuals, while simultaneously continuing to introduce new people into the rotation. The older support system, meanwhile, will slowly be taken out until only the new [now new no longer] shuffled individuals remain.

This system is a little too ideal, however. Though no one would object to rounding up an entire minority of the population for its own good and benefit, the amount of man hours needed would be quite sizable. Since the lonely few have yet to disrupt the rest of the world [sans the odd suicide], said time would largely have to come from volunteers, and only a certain kind of benevolent person would be likely to get involved. This would remove certainly personality types, and perhaps even certain interests, from the randomized pool, leaving us with yet another minority within a minority, now made up of those who do not respond favorably to certain charitable members of our society. The same problem would present itself if we only included in the shuffle those within our non-social minority, as while may be likely that the non-social could find many friends and loves within the confines of their non-social peers, only intermixing them means those who may find their own social attributes unfavorable, or even detestable [admittedly, the likelihood of this is kind of self-loathing in someone supporting themselves on their own and with no friends is, logically, low].

These will not do. Any solution which can’t be unilaterally applied is no sort of solution at all, as shown by the existing separation of the social and non-social and how the latter have been so far completely neglected. This being the case, one wonders if the larger idea of socialization should be broadened to all twenty-somethings, with our theoretical “room” expanded to some larger ecosystem, and our randomized selections, or possible friends, not hand selected by any biased person or program, but rather truly shuffled as if through some naturally chance-based causality. And in order to simulate hold-over, the subject would have to remain proactive, and seek out those whose company he wishes to revisit out of preference, in person, perhaps over the phone or internet if said preferences were not physically available – which would, of course, expand our already large ecosystem even further.

Still, it would be foolish to give up on the idea entirely, as the more socialization is neglected in these lonesome years, the less likely the symptoms are to improve over time, and the lonely twenty-something may be doomed yet to become the lonely thirty-something and beyond. But much as forward-thinking has evolved enough to bring us an intuitive machine such as the iPod MP3 player, and allowed for continued improvement upon its design, it is ever more likely that similar innovation might minds to the possibility that somewhere out there those non-social, labeled with hurtful terms such as outcasts, introverts, or “the socially retarded,” might yet find acceptance, and more importantly, friends. For now however, they must make do, and we can only hope that we, who are privileged enough to not know their uneasy pain, their ever more confining loneliness, and the unbearable solitary hardship they face, can offer them the slightest solace with our assurance that this problem will no longer goes unnoticed and they, however isolated they may feel, will not be lost in the shuffle.

Dear DC Entertainment; Give me a job, please.

It's occurred to me that there's been a little more comic book talk here in the past couple of months.

I suppose there are a lot reasons for that. The big one is obviously Dad; talking about him as much as I have since his death, it was really inevitable that the one thing we had most in common would come it. It was our thing, or meeting place, our middle ground, and we spent so much time with them, and so much of what I like about superhero comics is wrapped up in my relationship with my dad, that I would be hard pressed to say what I came to enjoy on my own, and what was entirely his influence, and the influence of reading with him. I doubt I'll ever talk or think about one without the other soon joining it, and I'm okay with that. Actually, a little proud.

But there are other reasons, of course. "Blackest Night" springs to mind, which has just been an absolute joy to read, and on the flip side but just as wonderful has been"The Boys." These two series are really the polar opposite of each other in content and execution, but both are so much fun, so absolutely why I haven't given up on mainstream comics amidst the dearth of ideas, that it's hard not to read them and get excited about the genre again. And "Ex Machina" finishes up in just another month or so, a book I've been following since college [I think Heke actually started me at Issue #1], and just can't imagine no longer having on my pull list, if only for how unconventional and original it's always been. I'll miss it -- but I also wonder what sort of project will eventually take it's place in the quirky sleeper category.

And then there was the whole Marvel/Disney thing... which I committed so much time and ink to, and which was so exciting in such a scary way. And still is, really, though the acceptance has already ruined some of the shine, and how militantly outraged people got about it even being brought up after the second day [in the negative, or the positive] has made it far less enjoyable to discuss. The point is, comics feel worth mentioning again. And I've been obliging that.

And why not? While I don't know if this will ever be a "comic book blog" [maybe if one day I get a job in comics], I still enjoying talking about them, yes even those of the non-indie, cape-wearing variety. Which is why even though I should probably be using my little bursts of inspiration in what has otherwise been a dry couple of weeks for my writing to do something...oh, productive, I've been spending a lot of time scribbling out comic book ideas that might never actually see the light of day.

Because let's face it, I grew up with all this stuff, and I still haven't given up on it, and unless I end up destitute it's not likely to happen anytime soon. So yes, my mind tends to spend some time every day on what would be a good idea for a Superman villain [a daunting proposition -- how do you kill the man who can do anything?], or doing up a treatment for a post-apocalyptic Batman, or how to make it less obvious that my Blue Lantern comic isn't a direct rip-off of the things I like most about Dr. Who. And yes, some time should be spent on the classics, but other times it's okay to go through back issues a re-read "Onslaught" [can you believe the beginning of that was the first time Gambit and Bishop fought the Juggernaut?] or give "Spider-Man: Reign" a chance [which you definitely should do -- it's far better than I ever thought it could be]. And not that I think that trying to be a writer somehow gives my idea for the perfect X-Men team any more weight than someone posting fan fiction to Live Journal but... doesn't it?

Maybe that'll depend on whether or not I could ever get paid for it. But I do think about these things, draw up outlines like I would for movie or comic book scripts, and sometimes spend whole mornings [this morning] trying to pull together thematic elements and make a beginning, middle, and end that's not too cheesy, sometimes for relatively cheesy characters. This is the writing I do that I don't cover here, the stuff that gets lumped in when I joke about "logging conceptual hours" or talk about not being productive. Sometimes when I'm dealing with writer's block, I'll try to "revamp" an obscure character, or test myself and see if I'm funny enough to come up with Deadpool dialogue [I'm really not]. It can be helpful. A lot of it gets deleted, or tucked away, while I wonder why I'm not spending more time trying to get back to work on "Trendsetter."

Still, it's difficult for me to not play with these things, and when I do I worry that I'm wasting time. These days it's easier to get into movies than into comics [the former is practically a prerequisite for the latter now], and with those odds my effort might be better spent on my own ideas. On one level, I worry I'm too self-hating, on another, I see a lot of arguments against dabbling with mainstream properties with any sort of seriousness. Alan Moore, a man who's opinion on the subject I hold very dear, has made some find points about the deficiencies of superhero comics, particularly how so many seem to just be "boys' adventure stories" about "an unfair fight" -- either a bully revenge tale, or a might-makes-right sense of morality. Which are excellent points, and ones I'm constantly weighing as I'm trying to map out some comic book fantasy on the back of one of my notepads. And it's discouraging.

I also don't know that it's an absolute truth. "All-Star Superman" was wonderful, and the title character [that would be Superman, as there is no "All-Star"] rarely ever threw a punch. And as with most of Grant Morrison's work, there was also something fun, and like the Golden Age in this story, so it didn't pander, but it didn't reach. It was moving, and enjoyable, and I have to pause here and thank John for getting it for me.

And comics have managed to move me -- which either means I'm very shallow, or perhaps it's not all boys' adventure stories after all. So I struggle with this a lot, the question as to whether I should even bother trying to grow crops in already over-farmed pastures of the Big Two, or if my effort is better served in other places, with other kinds of stories. I want to believe that I can do both, of course, that I can have my SULKs and my Real Quality Comics, and also do something with what's already there in the mainstream, which I basically cut my teeth on when I found comics, and find my own satisfaction with it [I wonder if I'd even torture myself over this if I actually had the job]. Find that there is something worth pursuing with them, or at the very least, fun to play with, so I don't have to feel so awful if I put the next great American novel [hah, right] on hold, and try to figure out how I'd tell a story that gets Spider-Man sent to a parallel dimension where he has unlimited resources, and fights crime with his daughter out of a secret base called "The Web-Site." Which yes, sounds awful but I think I could make it work.

I'd like to try, anyway.

P.S. Since we're on the topic, I'd also like to plug the webcomic of a new friend of mine. Please go check out "Pictures of Crying Children," written by Ian Borgstrom, and illustrated by CheriAnn Stevens. I found their site through Autumn Society, and just really enjoy their comic, and would like to get them some more attention, if at all possible. It's great stuff.

The past week in review.

I can't sleep, so I thought I'd come here.

I'd consider this a half and half kind of week. On the productive side of things, I not only managed to get my winter coat cleaned [a first for the garment... which is really sad if you know how long I've had it. Let it never be said the grunge thing is totally dead] but I also got a new pair of shoes, desperately needed after I took the curb at the convenience store wrong and blew out the back of the heel. If there was a "Randall's Guide to the Inanities of Everyday Living," then the merits of a good pair of skate shoes would probably be somewhere between the chapters about the versatility of black socks and the importance of breast pockets. I like them because leather or suede water proofs really well, and unlike Chuck's there aren't great big holes in the side of the shoe for ventilation, which means rain, snow... any weather the tend to hold up pretty well. I'd even go so far as to call them "durable" ... or at least I would, if it weren't for my lithe 180 pounds destroying them on the same piece of angled concrete two pairs in a row.

Now, I know what you're thinking -- new shoes and dry cleaning are a little insipid, even for the vast amount of uninteresting things I tend to talk about here. Creatively though, it hasn't been much of a week. The high points of any sort of output on my part are my own entries just talking about this blog, and even then I haven't put as much out as I expected to. But on one level I thought spending a week blogging about my blog would get old pretty fast, and if I'm honest with myself, I think even though it's been a year officially I might still need some time to figure out exactly what that means, and whether this has been all worthwhile. I also promised a "special thanks" post, and I'm still planning on doing that, but I want to put some good work in to it, gather up every one's links [if they have any], and most importantly, not half-ass it.

My head's just not been together this past week, and while I've talked to a few people about it, I've also been trying to keep it from souring my mood, or at least not bring it up every single conversation I have. I'm still losing sleep over it though, and it's been hard to sit down and write without everything just feeling insignificant in some undefinable scheme. It sort of sucks all the inspiration and energy out of me, and I spend a lot of time looking at old work, unfinished outlines, or blank pages. And in a way, it certainly becomes a self-sustaining cycle where I'm already bothered by something, and then I let that interfere with work that might take my mind off of that, and then that bothers me, and gives me something else to worry about, rather than trying to tackle the original problem.

Not that I'm actually looking to tackle anything. Most cases, these funks are just a matter of weathering the storm.

Still, I have had a few ideas the past several days, especially as it concerns doing more work in prose [or that essay/article style]. "New Hooverville" was really satisfying to get out, and some people seemed to like it [or at the very least, have strong feelings about the subject matter], so I've been thinking I might try more in that style. I have a slightly older piece that I wrote back when I was staying with Kyle that I might take another run at, and then a couple of different ideas involving a single narrator, who just a normal guy who can't stop thinking about porn. And not in a Chuck Palahniuk/teenage boy sort of way.

On the upside, I've gotten a lot of reading done.

More Cash Sketches, Page 23.

Justin has three new sketches up for the comic [re: Calamity Cash and The Town with No Name]. Definitely go check them out, its all from the same page as the last sketches, but these are a lot more polished, and probably a good indicator that he'll be working on page 24 soon, which I'm keenly interested in seeing if only for the fact that it's sort of the different and experimental page of the book, in the sense that I didn't really script it to have panels or anything. This will be Justin 100% on his own, and I'm curious what he puts together from my script.

A page without panels is traditionally just a splash, or one big piece of art that takes up the entire page. These were notoriously popular in the 90's thanks to the Image Comics revolution, and because a ton of artists found out they could make a lot of extra money to go along with their commission works if they had a piece which could also be a poster, a print, or a trading card [often all three]. Which is a real shame, because they can actually be kind of cool, and very powerful when used correctly, and probably don't deserve to be the joke they sort of are.

I try to use one in every comic I write, almost as a point of dramatic demarcation, and since "Town with No Name" is almost 3 comics long, a couple managed to make it in, naturally. This is the most important one, though, and hopefully between my vagueness and Justin's imagination, something cool will come out of it.

Though "Calamity Cash and the Town with No Name" is far from finished, Justin's renewed efforts now that he's settling into his new home makes me feel a little like the finish line is in sight again. I'd be remiss not to mention that "Town with No Name" has been around since the start of this blog [and a little before], and is one of the reasons I decided to start it in the first place. I'd never worked with an artist I wasn't living right next door to, and I was worried about coordinating our efforts on the comic when seeing each other might have been a bit erratic.

And not just between the two of us. What's not often mentioned anymore [probably just because I'm not actively writing the comic], is that the characters of Tana Cash and her daughter Calamity were actually created by my friend Laura Phalen. She was gracious enough to let me and Justin do something with them, and though I don't talk to Laura as much as I used to, she's always had this space to refer to whenever she gets curious as to the where the project is.