"You're Chasing Amy."

You ever ask yourself why you do whatever it is that you do?

In 1997, director Kevin Smith released "Chasing Amy." I didn't see it in theaters -- I was barely aware of Smith in 1997, and I certainly wasn't in place where I could be sneaking out and catching R-rated art house flicks on my own. When I did eventually see it, it was at my Dad's house, as he had rented it and I had decided to sit in. I was a Sci Fi nut at the time, though, and really didn't pay the movie the attention it deserved, though I did see this aesthetic that I liked, this twenty-something, mid-'90s touch that was charming to me even back then, in the same way a Gin Blossoms song was. But I didn't know about Smith, I didn't know about the larger narrative, hell, as a rabid reader of Wizard magazine and a burgeoning comic geek, I didn't even recognize the comic book personalities [and their artwork] that litter the film.

All of that is probably surprising to people. I think "Kevin Smith fan" and "Randall Nichols" were used interchangeably for a while -- and rightfully so, I encouraged it, and even today, while I don't necessarily like describing myself just as "that guy," the "Kevin Smith fan," I think that's a way people think of me. And I'm not embarrassed, even though I think there's some part of me that would like to be thought of as more than that, that doesn't want to be reduced to just an obvious stereotype, because I think at some point all creative people want to be thought of as their own artist, with their own voice. But I don't have a problem with people looking at what I do and saying "This is a Kevin Smith fan's work." It's flattering.

"Amy's" the odd duck of his films. Of all of Smith's movies, it feels like the only one that's aged -- there's something especially '90s, especially dated about the way it looks. "Clerks" stand out because of it's breakout status and indie-level visuals, while "Mallrats," "Dogma," "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back," even "Clerks II" are in this sort of four color, comic book-like world, which seems beholden to no particular time-period [ironic, when you think of how much "Amy" is about comics]. And "Amy" exists in there, it is a part of that View Askewniverse in its own way, but it also doesn't quite fit.

And despite being considered one of Smith's best, it certainly has it's detractors. I think there are always going to be people who don't want to go to the dick-and-fart joke director for such an honest love story, people who come to Smith for stoner comedy and can't find that as much in "Amy," or at the very least don't find it with the same lightheartedness as his other films. I also run into a lot of people who identify LGBT, and are uncomfortable with the film, or find it insulting. I don't think there's anything objectionable in the movie, or at least not anything anymore objectionable than is normal for a Smith movie, which I've always felt was part of the charm about the style -- when you can say anything, and do, you really strip things down between characters, and can sometimes get to things you normally wouldn't be able to. But... I digress. It's not for everyone, a sentiment true for a lot of Smith movies, and especially true for this one.

There's a particular scene in "Amy" that I think about a lot when I'm writing, or when I'm trying to write, or sometimes when I think I may never write again. And it's an odd scene to think about, especially in the context of writing, because in my very first screenwriting class at Bennington I learned that a scene like that should probably never be written, or at the very least never be allowed to
make it to a final draft. But Smith left it in, either because he thought it was more realistic this way, or because he never had all these rules about monologues and characters saying more than they're doing, or because this is just how he thought it was supposed to happen, and be damned what anyone else thinks about it.

Here's the bulk of the scene, for reference:


Holden throws the car into park.

Why are we stopping?

Because I can't take it.

Can't take what?

I love you.

You love me.

I love you. And not in a friendly way, although I think we're great friends. And not in a misplaced affection, puppy-dog way, although I'm sure that's what you'll call it. And it's not because you're unattainable. I love you. Very simple, very truly. You're the epitome of every attribute and quality I've ever looked for in another person. I know you think of me as just a friend and crossing that line is the furthest thing from an option you'd ever consider. But I can't do this any longer. I can't stand next to you without wanting to hold you. I can't look into your eyes without feeling that longing you only read about in trashy romance novels. I can't talk to you without wanting to express my love for everything you are. I know this will probably queer our friendship - no pun intended - but I had to say it, because I've never felt this before, and I like who I am because of it. And if bringing it to light means we can't hang out anymore, then that hurts me. But I couldn't allow another day to go by without getting it out there, regardless of the outcome, which by the look on your face is to be the inevitable shoot-down. And I'll accept that. But I know some part of you is hesitating for a moment, and if there is a moment of hesitation, that means you feel something too. All I ask is that you not suppress that - at least for ten minutes - and try to dwell in it before you dismiss it. There isn't another soul on this fucking planet who's ever made me the person I am when I'm with you, and I would risk this friendship for the chance to take it to the next plateau. Because it's there between you and me. You can't deny that. And even if we never speak again after tonight, please know that I'm forever changed because of you and what you've meant to me, which - while I do appreciate it - I'd never need a painting of birds bought at a diner to remind me of.

Holden stares at Alyssa. She stares back. Then she gets out of the car.

Was it something I said?

And there it is, that big block of text that I was told to never, ever do, the big excited outburst by Holden "Fucking" McNeil professing his love for a woman he's not supposed to have, who should not love him back, a woman who's only response to all that could only be anger and horror at her friend's selfishness. And that happens, after Alyssa leaves the car, and Holden gives chase, as she screams at him in a darkly lit scene as it rain [more like fucking pours], yells at him to get back in the car, to just leave her there. He's done what so many of us have either wanted to do, or have done, been about as verbose about it as anyone could hope for, and gotten the usual, and most often expected response: "it's unfortunate that you're in love with me. It's unfair that you felt the need to unburden your fucking soul about it!"

She's right. And Alyssa stomps away, leaving Holden to stand there in the rain, completely rebuked and utterly dejected.
But that's not why it's great.

There's a beat. Not in the script, but in the movie itself, just natural pacing which Smith didn't put in the screenplay proper, with Affleck walking back to the car in the rain. And suddenly Adams comes rushing back, and leaps into his arms with this guttural cry, and they kiss. It's probably the only kiss in the rain I've ever been able to stand.

But it's a great moment, that one second, where Adams isn't even on screen, but there's a thought process there, a response or a cue that isn't shown, and it's not said [and it's a Kevin Smith movie, remember?], but it brings her character back, with all the weight of the two character's time together. I don't even have a word for that moment, "transcendental" comes close, but isn't quite right just a little too specific and not specific enough. But it's a moment to aspired to by any writer, and it's something that doing the most Kevin Smith-esque, single-frame talking-head scene isn't going to get you. It's like the look between Tatum O'Neil and Madeline Kahn on the side of the road in "Paper Moon," or that slight sag in posture of Orson Welles, standing lonely in Xanadu in "Citizen Kane."

You don't really write these moments down -- some people even say the actors make them happen, or the illustrator is the one who puts them in the panel. In some cases that's probably true. But I also think that sometime what's not written down is very much put there by the writer, and of all the things I try to do, I think these are the moments I reach for, that I hope I can pull off.

2009 will be over soon, and for the last two months of it, I have written almost nothing. Certainly nothing of worth. A friend even called it a crisis of faith. Haven't stopped thinking about "Amy" though.

Happy New Years.

They're going to eat him alive.


The above image is from a collaboration with my friend Zoe Chevat [and that's a link to her blog, AnachroLush]. We were chatting the other day, and came up with the above scene of a poor, pretty hipster boy about to be eaten alive by some of the beautiful denizens of the Big Apple.

I've been thinking about New York a lot lately, probably because of "The Boys;" Derek Robertson is one of my favorite artists, and lately the book has been a little more NY-centric, with a lot of the familiar landmarks and such, particularly the Brooklyn Bridge . I get stuck on images from comic books pretty easily, and had been running scenes through my head with Robertson's city as my background. This particular one was something I had been toying with, but didn't have much for, and Zoe managed to snap it up, and do this sort of Bakshi-esque thing with it that turned out brilliantly. Very sinister, in the best sort of way. She sent it to me a couple days before Christmas, as a nice little holiday treat, and I've been meaning to post it here but the holidays have just kept me pretty busy, and when they haven't, I've been finding myself sort of... too down to be doing blog posts.

Which isn't to say Christmas was bad to me. Actually, things worked out pretty well, with almost all the presents getting to where they were going in time, plenty of Terry's Chocolate Oranges for everyone, and just general good cheer. And even though I'm not really high on getting gifts this Christmas, I got a lot of really great things, even some that I'd figured I'd have to buy for myself after the holiday was over -- like a new hoodie, and a new phone -- but no, I guess my needs were pretty well known, and even got a few fun items, a new bag, way more books than I expected, and a nice scarf. And then something that wasn't a proper gift, but something I was really hoping for more than anything else.

And things with the family weren't weird [or not as weird as they could have been], and tonight I got to see all my friends here at home, which was a rare treat to get everyone together [Ally made it, who I haven't seen in nearly forever, and so was Mark, a really nice guy and friend of Dave's who we watched Wrestlemania with last year], and there are plans to do New Year's at Glen's too. Plus I think on some level my work paid off to bring my Grandmother Christmas, as she went from general apathy towards the holidays to actually going out of her way to get the tree on over the past couple of days. I even whipped up a batch of Ian's eggnog, from the recipe he posted here.

I don't know. The past couple of days have been good, a real reminder as to why this is just a nice time of year. I sort of wish they could all be like this, you know? Or at least a few more of them than usual.

Probably post again in a couple of days, at least get in something to usher in the New Year. I promised someone I'd look at a script they're working on, and my schedule is pretty full this week though, so when is a little up in the air.

Thank you, everyone. And again, thanks to Zoe, for the wonderful image above. I really like working with artists, even on small things, and if anyone else is interested in collaboration, even something small or stupid, e-mail me or catch me on Facebook.

Hometown Boy Makes Good.


I think it's safe to say the above picture has went "viral."

This is Mario's Closet, a t-shirt design for Splitreason designed my friend Glen Brogan. It's apparently blown up huge, popping up on several different gamer/8-bit enthusiast sites, and a lot of Twitter accounts and Tumblrs [including some Bennington people -- I think I realized just how big this had gotten when I saw Nick linking it, and I wasn't the one he'd found it through].

Anyway, the reason for this post is just to pass along how awesome it is to anyone who might not have seen it any where else yet, and to say you can still vote on whether they make it here. I have little doubt with it's popularity that it won't soon be a t-shirt though. It's the least I can do for Glen, who was kind of enough to invite me along to his family's Thanksgiving this year, which was really just a wonderful time, and way better than the cold Chinese food and cable TV I had planned.

Glen's also got a lot of designs already on the site, ready to be ordered for the holidays in t-shirt and print form. So go over and help an artist out, and get something rad for the gamer in your life.

You can see more of Glen's stuff on his own blog, Albino Raven, and the Autumn Society blog as well.

I bring you good cheer, and you bring me your pen.

So I had one last Christmas-related shopping trip, and wound up calling my kid brother to see if he wanted to give me a lift. He was more than happy to [I think he wanted the chance to tell me about his new girlfriend -- and it's always great to hang with him], but he needed a little money for gas, which was fine as I still had some of my Pittsburgh money left over. While I was waiting on him, I phoned telebank to check my balance, not because I really needed to [I keep pretty good track], but because I was curious if a check I'd written a couple days before had cleared. What the feminine drone of the automated teller told me, though, was that my account was overdrawn. Really overdrawn.

That's right. Looks like someone has stolen my debit card number.

It's typical, I guess, for this time of year. That seems to be the reaction I'm getting from people. I can't for the life of me figure out how to put a freeze on my own account, or cancel the card, so sadly I just have to wait until I can go to the bank in a couple of hours and get all this straightened out. It's really hard not to get down about it though, because I've been trying this year to make Christmas work, and then some stranger out there just cuts me off at the knees. Not that I think this is personal, or targeted, because that would just be crazy, but it feels a little like that, like I pushed at the universe, and the universe decided to push back. And I'm pretty vigilante about this sort of thing, good passwords, secure sites only, keep account information out of my e-mail... what a pain.

I mean, admittedly, it could have been a lot worse, and the havoc this looks to wreck is pretty minimal. So, you know, small favors. Much bigger problems in the universe. And I'm sure there are probably other people who this has happened to, who weren't done shopping, who were holding off for that last bonus to buy their kids presents or their wife jewelry or something, and this would be sort of a Christmas killer.

So dick move random stranger. Dick move.

Fear and Loathing on the Road to Christmas, '09 - Letter to Santa

Dear Santa,

I'm really writing too late to ask for anything proper for Christmas. If I had, the list would likely be populated with the same old things, scarves, and flannel, and fingerless gloves, indie comics and novelty t-shirts. There was the Gits hoodie that I had my eye on earlier, which I promptly forgot about until sitting down to write this. Mostly things I want that I have no place for, things I cannot buy myself, things that can wait, and be wanted again next year.

As a kid, I never really thought about what a letter to Santa was. An entitlement, probably. Kind of terrible. Which meant I thought of you as something tangible, someone real, who could be asked for things. And I didn't always write a list, sometimes I would just tell my dad. Because you two worked at same time, you were ships passing in the night, before I knew that could mean something other than it did. "Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus..." All the movies, the books. No visual. Complete faith.

Faith. A letter to Santa is a little like a prayer. A wish. I thought about writing this letter as though it were a wish, and I would say something like "Dear Santa, I don't want any presents this year. I would, however, like to win one for a change." But that's more entitlement. What I think I deserve. It's not a wish.

I have wished before. I sat on the lawn at Bennington in the middle of freezing nights and looked up at a brilliantly clear sky, and wished on the stars I'd see falling. Usually, I'd just wish someone might come along and join me. Once, someone did. I don't know if that means wishing works. I don't think that's what I'm worried about anyway.

So stars, and eyelashes. A wishbone, once [and if I had a kid, I'd tell them to double that up at Thanksgiving with their Christmas list -- you've gotta work the odds]. Birthday candles, but I'd always get performance anxiety there. I think I once just wished they'd go out. Probably doesn't count.

There's a song, by this New Haven band called Miracle Legion, who did the music for "The Adventures of Pete and Pete" under the name "Polaris" [sans one member, though, hence the moniker]. "I could have you, with a wish/but what am I supposed to do, with a wish that won't come true?" I think Ian burned me the CD. Before all that other stuff, about stars and eyelashes, that song is what I think about when I think about a wish. Not the greatest vote of confidence for wishing there, but that's just me. That's the sort of thing I'd probably wish for. I certainly could, but again, according to Mark Mulcahy, that might be sort of futile.

I'm rambling. So much of what I want for Christmas, or rather want out of Christmas, are things that I don't have anymore, and probably can't get back, at least not now. All these romantic notions in my head about big families and big meals, caroling, lights, horse-drawn carriages and really sentimental reasons to get all bundled up and go out into the nightly cold. Plus kicking-and-screaming shopping trips, brutally awkward conversations, and mad dashes to get every last minute thing done. Not to mention a lot of other stuff that is vaguely lame, and sometimes terrible, but absolutely brilliant if you have the right people, or right person, willing to indulge with you.

Of course, these things don't come as gifts. They're more the reason I want to give gifts every year. So I guess instead of asking for them, I'll just wish that the holidays find those I care about well, that the few parcels I sent out today arrive safely on time, and that any letters I manage to write are not unwanted by their recipients. They're small favors, Santa, but also the things I can't quite do on my own.

Merry Christmas,

Fear and Loathing on the Road to Christmas, '86-'88

I haven't been feeling very well the past few days, but I wanted to do something nice for the up-coming holidays.

It's no secret that I'm not a big fan of pictures. But when Justin and I were going through comic books a few weeks back, I'd found a cache of older snapshots I hadn't seen in awhile. I'm not entirely sure where they came from -- mom would periodically hand me pictures, and Dad gave me a lot of them a few months before he died, ones that were probably assumed lost in the divorce shuffle.

Most of these are from Christmas in the late 1980s. The scans aren't the best. And not all are entirely flattering pictures of yours truly, but I share them because this is the time of year when things should be shared. Even things we'd normally consider private.

One of the reasons that I like Christmas so well is that it's really the sort of holiday that's just for everybody. No matter which of the various religious or non-religious traditions you recognize, there's something there for you, and unlike Halloween it isn't just for the children, or like Thanksgiving which is just a family affair. And there's even an argument for it being a parent's holiday, in that so much of the leg work is done by parents, to make the season so magical for their children. It's really a time of year that's for everyone.

Save, perhaps, for the lonely.

This last one is a little before my time. December of '82, the back of the photo reads. My mom and dad, looking so young, and my Grandpa Cole. Two of these people are no longer with us.

I miss you, dad. You always worked so hard around this time of year to convince me you knew Santa. It's funny how when you're six, that's not such a stretch, especially since both of you worked nights, right?

Merry Christmas, everyone.

"No one can help you but yourself -- in other words, you're fucked."

I've been thinking about writing this for the past four weeks. Maybe a little bit longer.

The past few weeks I've been trying to find some kind of order in my life. Or not even that, I guess you could probably call it just taking inventory, trying to say this is this, and this is that, and this is what I have. Which I guess isn't odd -- I'm always self-analyzing, that's even what this blog is about in a way, and I imagine there are at least a few people who will read this and chuckle when I say "but this feels different from that." But this does feel different from that, and if only because I'm feeling so reluctant to try and get a handle on it all.

Even now, I'm sort of dancing around it.

I recently had a pretty big opportunity fall through -- not even "fall through" in the traditional sense, but just the parties involved in said opportunity stopped returning my calls, and I found myself without the thing that I thought would be my major focus for most of next year, and perhaps the greater part of my near-future. I didn't talk about this job here, because I was asked not to, and I'm still not going to get into it because, well, I just don't think this is the place. The main point is that it's not something I feel comfortable depending on anymore, and that changes a lot of things.

It particularly calls into question my living situation. Staying with my grandmother was never supposed to be a long term solution to getting kicked out of my house. It's certainly true that being here has afforded me a lot of luxuries -- I've had plenty of time to write, and probably wouldn't have been able to crank out the work I have on "Unfilmable," "Nova," and the still unfinished "Trendsetter" [not to mention a handful of smaller works] if I'd had to get a real job to support a rent check. I got almost a year with Dad, which let us work a lot of things out, something I'm really thankful for considering how suddenly and unexpectedly he died. And when he died, I was glad to be here for my grandmother, who had to bury her eldest son, and didn't need to go through that alone.

And I've been useful here. I would never say my grandmother depends on me, because I really can't think of anyone more capable, but chores, shopping, various things around the house -- these are things I've been able to do for her to make her life easier, and earn my place here, and the fact that I'm probably a big, temperamental inconvenience of a house guest. And that's good. I think there are some things about my personality that keeps me from being fully satisfied by the good I have done here, and yet without being arrogant I know I have done some good, and that has been a lot more important than some of the more selfish things that I've committed my time to.

So, I've been privileged, privileged to not have needed a job, to have a roof over my head, to be of use to someone, and to have been able to write, and by proxy, write about my writing here. And that's been okay, that's worked for the past year or so, and it's not that it isn't working now, either, but it's just... not a good idea anymore. I'm not waiting on anything, I'm not really building towards anything, and that makes all this sitting around, all this house work, all these sleepless nights seem sort of pointless.

And the writing. I keep asking myself what I expect to do with this now. Writing a screenplay seems more than a little pointless when I know I have no connections, no crew, and no interest in my work. And I don't really have the skills, equipment, or money to pursue these things on my own, and honestly I don't think there's anything in me that wants to be a filmmaker anyway. Handle the creative end, as a producer, or something like that? Sounds great. Write a story? I mean, that's why I'm here, that's what I love. But get behind a camera? That has never really sounded appealing to me, except in the most extreme cases.

If I'm honest with myself, it's not even the kind of writing I want to be involved in. My interests there came from the fact that I love movies, and that I wanted to get into comics -- and the only way a lone writer seems to get into comic books anymore is by way of film. And comics, that's what this has almost always been about, that's what I've always enjoy the most, that was one of my defining moments, when I cracked open that box with Sam and mine's SULK: The Morning After on that cold night in Bennington. Or when a certain redhead approached me in the dining hall to tell me she liked what we'd done in Murmur. Or when I'm getting new pages in my e-mail from Justin. That's what I get the charge from, and if I've enjoyed writing anything this past year, it was probably the script for "Real Quality Comics," where I went back to basics and just... wrote the book like I'd want to see it.

Which is another problem with my living situation; I'm not meeting new people, let alone new artists, and I'm not in a place where I'm finding a lot of folks excited about doing comic books. Illustrators are not as plentiful as one may think, and I'm certainly not finding them when most of my days are spent at home, or in the local Kroger's. Harder still is finding someone willing and able to work with me, which, hey, I'm trying to make easier too, but there's really no way to know if I'm making any progress until I actually get to work with someone new.

And I have been so lucky to have Justin, but I've also given him a huge job, and he's got other project's after "Calamity Cash and the Town with No Name" has finished. When we're done, who knows how long until he'll want to do another with me, and I think between the two of us we've pretty much decided this book is going to fall under the header of "practice." So again we hit this question of what, and who, is next for me. I know what I wanted to be doing by this time, writing books, working with one or two artists who just "get" me, and want to do what I do, all the while selling my wares at various conventions and churning out wonderfully depressing things like what they do over at Modern Mythology.

There's also the elephant in the room, the prospect of me trying to write a novel. I keep going back and forth, yes I will, no I won't, it's too big a job, it's not something I can do, but maybe if, etc, etc. But again I come to the same problems as the screenplays, the lack of connections, I don't know any publishers, and I certainly don't have an agent. Writing just to be writing is how I stay sane, but there is this question that keeps coming up -- is this a hobby, or is this something I can realistically turn into a job?

Other things. I'm certainly past the threshold of being discovered as some sort of savant. This little voice in the back of my head which keeps saying "If it was going to happen like that, it would have happened already" is very persuasive, and if I am playing the long game at this, then I need to start figuring out a way to balance that with the things real people do, like rent, and bills, and work. And historically anything resembling an occupation tends to put a dead stop on my creative drive... which is really a whole other fear, and probably not something I should obsess over as much as I do. But I'm terrified of winding up back in that place I was in when I worked at the book store, where I couldn't bring myself to write with the few hours I had to myself at home [and to this day, I don't know I'd have survived that whole time had Anna not been supporting me].

I look around, and I see the success of my peers, too, and while I'm thrilled for them, it is a good reminder of how little I've done. I'm not going to grad school, I don't have some wonderful job, I don't live in some commune-like township where everyone knows everyone and there's a wicked two-kegger every Saturday night. My friends like John and Glen are selling things, and growing in notoriety, you might even say popularity. Justin and Staci are getting into galleries, so are a lot of folks from school. I know many of the writers I had class with at Bennington are getting published. Ian and Heke are in Japan. And that's not even counting all of my friends who have found some place new to live, or someone to marry, or are starting to become actors, or directors, or kick-ass music producers. Other have found directors, or are starting shows. And I'm at home, with my biggest claim to fame being... this blog.

And not all of those things are things I want, but all of those things are success, which I've seen precious few of. I miss a lot of those things, those comforts, hell, even the discomforts, of which I'm sure there are [things are as never as rosy for our loved ones as we believe they are]. And there are things, selfish things, that I have begun to want as time goes on, that aren't afforded to me because of the way I've decided to live and conduct my life. Some of them people would probably thing of as stupid, material things, like comics [re: indie books, and graphic novels] or clothing, and a digital camera, for this space, because I think some pictures might liven things up a little. And some of the things I want are way more important, especially to my sanity, like friends I actually see, relationships that don't exist solely on the internet or in letters [not that I take any of those relationships for granted -- they, like the people I have them with, are brilliant], a social life, maybe a girlfriend or something like a girlfriend again. This is all stuff I feel like I've sacrificed, to do what I've done, to still be here. I was more okay with it a year ago. I'm less okay with it now.

More than any of that, and I know most people who know me won't believe this, but there's also a part of me that's felt this need lately to just... get involved, and maybe take on some public service. Like, if I need to get a job, if I need to do something with my life, that I should actually do something, something charitable, something helpful. Like teaching, or social work, or just... anything, where I can actual give back, where I could help someone, or at least try. To make my life feel like it was worth something. To make it feel like I've done something. And I'm looking into that, and trying to find something in that vein.

There are other things I want from life too. I'd like to go back to school, eventually, though not today, both because I don't think I have the money, and because I worry I'm not ready yet, that I don't have the focus, that the slacker sensibility that just let me... slide by mostly on being clever in high school and a lot of college isn't out of my system enough to really get from that what I'd want. And if I did go, I can't help but think I'd want to wind up someplace prestigious, which might be a bit of pipe dream, but... after Bennington, I just can't think about taking a step backwards, academically. And I'd like to travel, and I'd like to not do that traveling alone, if at all possible, and I'd like so many other things which just don't seem possible now. And some therapy. I'm starting to think a little of that would be good for me.

Staying here though, I know none of that will happen. Money, and insurance, and such.

I don't know what any of this means for me, either. I doubt this entry is some first step, and it's certainly not a grand gesture to show everyone I'm sorting my life out. This year has been awful, and I've fucked up getting a new job and moving away so many times even before things turned into one giant shit storm. So I don't know. I just feel like some things need to be done differently.

Which brings me to another point, one that's probably been apparent from my posts lately; I haven't really written anything of note in the past month. It's not writer's block, not really, because the ideas have been there, but the motivation hasn't. I've been down. I haven't seen the point. And I'm worried again, like I was after Dad died, that if I can't write when I'm at my worst, do I really have any business writing at all? If this is what I want to do, if "a writer" is really what I am, shouldn't I be able to just man up, and work anyway? Or is that unrealistic? [Feels like I'm wrong just for wanting to give myself that sort of pass...]

I don't know what any of this means for the blog. I'm not stopping now, at any rate, though I do feel like all these things threaten this part of my life somehow. I'm still working that out in my head, though.

But this space is clearly still useful to me. And that's something to consider.

I don't know. All of these possibilities sound fine laid out like this, but actually making any of it happen seems so foreign and unlikely, and makes me feel bad that these things which come so naturally to my peers are such a struggle for me. I don't know what's next, and even the baby steps towards them take up a lot of time and energy that usually goes towards the creative side of things. And that does affect the Mojo Wire.

Anyway. Brain dump. Here's to starting over.

Fear and Loathing on the Road to Christmas, '09.

Something oddly familiar about typing this.

Why? Well, right now I'm sitting at my grandmother's computer, as we recently switched to Suddenlink for our internet/phone/cable/plumbing, and I let it slip my mind to pick up a wireless router for our new cable modem. It's sort of...ridiculous how completely that can cripple my online activity, but the choppy crawl that this five-year-old PC calls performance makes it near impossible to run more than one program at a time. I actually had to reinstall Firefox just to keep the computer from freezing when someone talks to me on Facebook chat, or when Blogger auto-saves something, with background amenities like AIM of Google Talk absolutely out of the question. Hell, there's not even a working media player on this machine. Anyway, it's very similar to the situation I was in last December, where I was pretty much living off someone else's computer.

Not that any of this is the end of the world. We'll just file it under "pleasant reminders of how privileged I usually am," and move onward. It's not like I haven't been busy.

Lot of moving around going on. What I didn't mention last time was that even with all the comic books I'd moved into my room, there were several Rubbermaid tubs still full that needed transferring to long boxes I didn't have. BCW Supplies came through like no body's business, though, and when I woke up this morning UPS had dropped off my new boxes. Getting the books out of those rubber containers and into long boxes took a little longer than I expected, mostly because the new cable package has a couple of movie channels, and Empire Records had just come on. I'd recently suffered through the extended cut [I'm being unfair, but I just really prefer the original, and the director's edition makes me miss it], and the menial task being accompanied by the good movie made it feel like kismet.

Plus it kept me from stopping to re-read comics, which can easily turn the job into an all day affair.

I also put up the Christmas tree. It felt like time, and I was worried that if I put it off until later in the month, I wouldn't get done. I could really tell my grandma was pretty ambivalent over whether or not we decorated -- which I can understand perfectly, especially considering what a job it is, and how this is going to be the first Christmas since Dad died. I've been trying not to look at it like that [which, I know, I know, usually I'm up for any reason to be miserable], and even though some of the Christmas stuff was in rough shape, I think I did a good job. One of those times I sort of wish I had a digital camera, so I could take a picture, and share it here. Technically, this is the first tree I've ever trimmed wholly on my own, and I think it came out well.

Had plans to clean out the storage room today too, but I just didn't get to it. One of the chores that has been on the list for a little while, but I've been so busy that I keep pushing it back. Not that I'm complaining -- everything that's been getting done is necessary stuff, and I've even knocked out some Christmas shopping, which I'm trying to do this year with the money I had for the Pittsburgh trip that didn't happen. Plus all the regular week-to-week errands have doubled, which I'm sure is because of the Holiday Season.

I guess it doesn't sound like so much when I lay it all out like that. I did a little writing the other day, this thing I've been toying with about peeping toms, and incest, and meth heads, but there's some part of it that just feels a little too low brow, a little too blue, and I don't know if it's a worthwhile use of my time or not. There's something about that kind of subject matter that I feel weird approaching casually -- like if I'm going to write about it, half-assing it isn't an option, anymore than pulling a Chuck Palahniuk and treating it like a sideshow would be. A classy way to be classless? I think that might be what I'm shooting for.

Have to see. Anyone trying to get in touch with me, e-mail or Facebook is the best way. Or a direct message on Twitter.

Lack of Updates, Post-Thanksgiving

Okay, updates have been sparse lately. This time last year I was posting almost every day, as I was elbow deep in "Trendsetter" work, pulling all-nighters right and left, flipping my shit at every roadblock, and cranking out pages like nobody's business. There's really not as much focus this year, because I really don't have one, over-arching project I've been working on. Honestly, with the exception of what little I've talked about here, I haven't been writing much at all since my trip fell through at the beginning of the month.

Not that I've actually had time. This week in particular I've had one free day, most of which I was asleep for. Holiday errands have started early, or maybe with Thanksgiving right on time, and I've been swamped. Today was spent helping my mom with some moving which... was what it was, and by the end of it I wound up with a lot of my stuff out of storage and stacked to the ceiling in my room here. Things now are a bit of mess, and it looks like I live in storage room of a comic book store or a library's magazine stacks.

Looking at my schedule, I don't expect this busy thing to end until closer to Christmas, either right before, and maybe right after [I'm not sure which would be preferable]. Coupled with the lack of inspiration, I can't promise that my postings will get any more regular, which is a shame because I've seen an upswing in traffic in recent months, and folks are actually commenting on things, both of which makes me think letting up any is probably not a great idea. Then again, I never exactly expected to get marvelously famous from this, so I'm probably worried about nothing. Anyway, it's just the way of things -- if I'm not writing, I'm not going to be talking about writing as much.

I have a couple things I do want to write about here, though, and will try and get both in this week. Tonight, I'm too exhausted from packing and unpacking boxes, and just generally handling precious memories and mementos with a bit less care than I prefer. I'm glad to have it done [the parts of it that are done], and now I'm going to vegetate for the rest of the evening.

Before I go, I'd like to thank Glen for giving me someplace to go on Thanksgiving. It was a real pleasure sharing the holiday with his family, and seeing Hillary again too, which was a nice surprise. His parents are especially charming, and I was glad they let me impose.

I'd also like to thank Sam's parents for their kind Thanksgiving wishes on Facebook. I've spent three Thanksgivings with Lauri and Ruben, and I miss joining them for the tradition dearly. I can only hope one day I'll be able to see them again. It's been too long.

I need some Pym Particles.

Today was sort of a fun day.

Convinced Justin to help me run some errands today. We started way early, like around eight thirty. I was worried about this, actually, as I'd been up late the night before [re: shocker], and figured I'd only get a few hours sleep anyway -- which usually makes me feel like garbage. I've never been good with nap-style sleep, and usually if I'm looking at an early morning these days, it's easier to just push on through until morning.

Woke up surprisingly fresh, alert, and not sick to my stomach. First time for everything, I guess.

Anyway. We had breakfast, hit the thrift stores in Charleston, and when that didn't turn up much more than a particularly hilarious exchange between the two of us ["We should buy cheap chairs. And then put them some place chairs wouldn't normally be." "Like train tracks!" "...YEAH!."], I decided to hit the mall while he ran lunch over to his girlfriend. I haven't been in the mall in a while, and was surprised all the Christmas regalia was up, trees and and lights and music and all. No crowds yet, I guess those will wait until after tomorrow, so it wasn't an unpleasant trip, though there were all sorts of fun flashbacks now that my old calendar kiosk has reclaimed its spot near center court.

"Flashbacks" might be pushing it. Maybe. I was seeing some things, though. Some things and some stuff.

Wound up getting a shirt and a tie, paying a little more than I wanted. I had heard vintage ties were coming back into style, but not here, apparently. Was hoping for a square end, or at least one of those early 90s ska skinny-ties. I don't understand this silk tie thing -- sure, for a wedding, a funeral, they're brilliant, but for a job-interview, or a semi-formal/casual-formal dinner, I'd rather not blind the others with the casual glean off my shiny tie. Sort of bugs me, because these aren't really clothes I like or enjoy wearing, and I'd much rather put the money into a new hoodie, a new pair of Chucks, or maybe some t-shirts [which I am running surprisingly short on, for me], or something I know I'll need and actually get a lot of use out of. But I'm getting the feeling I'm going to need this shirt and non-ostentation tie soon.

I'll talk more about that later. Not tonight, not now.

The real reason for today's outing was going home -- back to the boonies -- to box up comic books with boxes meant for... well, other comic books. I've mentioned before that I was stocking up on long boxes for the comics that would be slowly trickling out to me from Dad's, but recently Mom's decided she needs extra space out in the country, and because of this I need to get my expansive collection out of her hair. Which is a whole thing really, and probably better not discussed here, but the hangup is I don't really have loads of places to put comics in the small room I call home now. So, to save some space, and maybe make transitioning the books from one place to another more easily, I thought I'd use the long boxes I had to gather up my comics and get them tucked away somewhere. Justin was immensely helpful with this, and the whole job didn't take all that long -- I even had a chance to straighten up a bit for... no real reason in particular, but the point was, I got some of my stuff that's in storage better organized, and hopefully, more mobile.

So that's something.

It's still unsettling though, seeing so much of your life just packed up in moldy boxes. And there wasn't even as much as I remember, which is really such a mixed-bag of different feelings.

Safe to say no writing got done, of course, nor did any get done the day before thanks to an impromptu trip to the grocery store [never went grocery shopping so close to Thanksgiving. Practically had to start throwing strong-style elbows to get out of there]. So it's been a slow week, albeit a productive one in its way. It's actually kind of nice, all told. I like being busy for the holidays, because it makes them feel like the holidays, and that hasn't been the case with me for the past couple of years.

Someone really interesting asked to see some of my writing lately, and when I was gathering up things to e-mail them, I found that even with everything that gets deleted or abandoned mid-concept, I still had five or six different things that were actually show-able, and while I really wish it was more, considering the year it's been I felt pretty good to have so many things I wasn't mortified to share.

Uncle Phranc? Mom won't let her come to Thanksgiving because of her haircut.

I've been tooling with "Bourgeois Punk" this week and not really getting anywhere with it. I couldn't really keep it going after the first twenty or so pages of screenplay, so I thought I might try it in some other mediums. Found some success doing it as a comic -- jumping from scene to scene, and leaving out a lot of annoying exposition is satisfying, and I never really felt like I was writing anything just because I had to. Something's not quite clicking though, and I might take another run at it as straightforward prose.

The only thing I'm really worried about there is losing some of the more cinematic elements that cropped up in just the few pages I've written, a common trade-off for the added character perspective that a more novelistic approach provides. I don't want to let any of that go, but [in theory], there's something very appealing about using that medium to better convey the almost casual contempt my protagonist has for the world he's in. Which isn't exactly difficult to add, as a great deal of my revision time is spent taking out the judgmental prickishness that sometimes shines through when I'm writing about my characters or the world they inhabit.

In the context of film, this is a big no-no. If someone has a vague sense of douchebaggery about them, you don't just write that in the script -- you show them acting like a dick, treating people badly, doing the things that make me, as the author, look down on them, in such a way that the audience also get that. The simple term is "showing, not telling," letting the audience figure out for themselves that this character is a bad guy/girl, and not have them think that just because that's what the author thinks.

Perfectly valid. And while I'd never say that "showing, not telling" wasn't a great rule to have when writing a short story or a comic book, what's sort of appealing about those types of writing is that, in their own way, you get to show and tell, and if I want to have some of that contemptuousness shine through, I can. Certainly not always, and certainly not if the subject matter doesn't call for it [it probably says a lot about me that I can't think of an example of something that doesn't deserve a little contempt], but in the case of "Bourgeois Punk," which deals with a bunch of Mercedes Marxists and country club socialists, I think my natural inclination to go a bit negative could add a little flare to a relatively quiet protagonist.

The funny thing about this negative bit -- while I knew I was never Mary-Fucking-Sunshine, I never thought that it came through as bad as it did, until early on in a Steven Bach screenwriting class, when he went through my short page after page and asked me why I was being so hard on my characters. Hilariously, I never noticed I was being so judgmental about the characters I was writing, and even more hilariously [and one of the reasons I feel fortunate to have had Steven Bach as a teacher], Steven didn't discourage this habit, but instead, suggested I point it, and again, let the audience come to the same conclusion I had about the characters in the story. And though he didn't suggest this, I sort of decided right then and there that if I couldn't convey my contempt in a manner that was at least clever and useful, that I was going to do my best to take it out of the narrative.

I guess I'm hoping this is the door to key I keep trying.

I'm also mulling over doing some more shorts pieces. The few I did after Dad died were worthwhile, and I'm pretty sure I only stopped after things got so intense with getting "Nova" just perfect. I'd like to do some in the vein of what I used to write so often, just two or three characters on the screen, having conversations in front of a straight-shot stationary camera, "Clerks"-style. Kyle mentioned that if I did more of these, we might be able to take a weekend here or there to film them, and I think that would be beneficial, if not a lot of fun.

Of course, I just decided I'd like to get back to these, and even though it's only been a week or two since I got the idea in my head, my lack of progress is already annoying me. It's really hard to get any sort of rhythm going in my head, and worse yet, a lot of the deep talk disguised as guy talk or small talk just isn't coming to me like it used to. I'm going to sit down with a few indie films in the next couple of days, and maybe dig through some of my older notes, to see if something doesn't shake loose in the process.

Anything in that vein I finish [using the word loosely] I'll probably post here.

Haven't been sleeping terribly well again [shocker]. Upside is I've actually been getting some rest, though it's mostly been in the evening hours. I've seen more mornings than I have in a while, and frankly, I don't see what all the fuss is about.

I bought a vintage winter coat today on eBay. I think the biggest shocker to most people will be that it's not black. Sort of a rockabilly look to it, and apparently came from someone's estate sale. I've gotten one from a dumpster, and one from the military -- I guess it's way past time that I add a dead man's coat to that list.

Thanksgiving's almost here. Last year I got pretty maudlin about spending it on my own [and hey, I still could], but thinking realistically about how tenuous family has been, right now I'm pretty okay with the idea of an underwhelming dinner at some restaurant with my grandmother and her friends. It's not glamorous, but as tenuous as my family situations is, and uncertain as where I'm going to end up, it seems... pragmatic to get used to the idea of being alone on these family-type holidays.

I don't know. I have so much to say on this subject, and several related ones, but this probably isn't the place to air these grievances. Not that it's ever stopped me before, but it is this time.

Fun side-effect to having this place -- I'm starting to feel accountable.

Breaking blocks, hopelessnes [not mine], and a new Cash panel.

First off, Justin has posted a new panel from the comic [re: Calamity Cash and the Town with No Name]. In a rare switch, it actually has lettering, so even though it's a small panel, it's one of the most finished panels we've posted yet, and it shows off the font I talked about... well, awhile ago, which Sam had a hand in helping us find.

Actually wrote yesterday, which ended a bit of dry spell for me [though an understandable one]. The lack of writing is one of the reasons for the lack of posts here, and it was nice to shake off some of the things that have been happening, and just write something, even if what I did wind up with is a bit ridiculous. What I ended up with was this sort of semi-biblical, Walt Simonson's Thor meets Doctor Who kind of story, or as it would probably better be explained, Conan the Barbarian versus the aliens. I've never been a big Conan fan, though, so I like my first summation better.

Even though I got a rough outline for what the story would be about, the premise is so ridiculous, and the little bit of dialogue that would be in it [warrior cavemen and aliens? Not my kind of small talk], that I might forgo actually writing it, and just have Justin do a poster of one of the big battle scenes, or something. If he does, the end result will, of course, be posted here. And who knows, maybe visuals will actually spur me to write the whole thing -- they have in the past.

I thought a lot about some of the fantasy-level stuff I grew up with while working on it. Though I certainly have some non-schlock influences in that area, most of what I was thinking about during was "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys" and "Xena." Other than introducing me to the Raimi brothers and Bruce Campbell years before Evil Dead, the Kevin Sorbo and Lucy Lawless-centered television shows held sort of a high place for me, if only because the syndication-only, hour-long camp-fests hit at a very convenient time. My weekends as a kid were notoriously long -- living in the middle of nowhere with no neighbors, especially no neighbors my age, and only ten television channels made a Sunday or a Saturday something to be gotten through, and not enjoyed. The days dragged, and a couple of hours of bare-chested monster punching [oh man, I almost didn't write that] made the time pass a lot faster, and the shows were nothing if not fun. Sometimes I wonder if I wouldn't have gone native if not for that.

So there's a little of that in there too.

Lot of my stuff lately has had a sort of sci-fi bend. Escapism, more than anything else. Probably reasons for that.

This comic went up over at Modern Mythology Press today. I always enjoy their stuff, but today's comic is called "Hopelessness" and plays well with that whole sad/miserable thing I like so well myself.

Spent most of last night defragmenting hard drives and trying to get my laptop and my grandmother's home computer working in top shape again. We're switching internet providers at the end of the month, and it seemed like a good time to get everything working at peak condition again. There's a slim chance in the switch-over that I might be without service for a couple of days [unlikely, but always a possibility], so fair warning. I haven't really been posting enough lately that anyone would notice, anyway. Still, by the end of it, the internet here should not only be faster, but more reliable too, and I'm always glad for the upgrade.

Finally my oft-linked friend John is having surgery soon, and it would mean a lot to me if anyone who can would contribute to his surgery donation drive. I know I don't get a lot of traffic, but if the few people who do visit would just help spread the word, I'd appreciate it. Again, you can read all about it on the account page at Pledgie, or get John's own thoughts here. It's almost Christmas, after all.

Points... Of... Interest!

Justin has a panel for the new page over on his blog [Re: Calamity Cash and the Town with No Name]. I've seen the whole thing, and it looks amazing. I know I say it every time, but each page Justin does impresses me more than the last, and that's really saying something if you were to see just how crowded the pages he's been working on have been. I mentioned it here once before, but there was a pretty heavy rewrite done on my part after Justin had already started, which meant only the last half of the book was changed, and even then I couldn't really add new pages -- so any new content had to work in the number we already had set aside for the book, which means things got kind of... cramped.

It's the reason when I wrote "Real Quality Comics" I stuck much closer to my 4 panels per page rule.

I've also been parodied over at Ian's blog. Ian's doing a series of creative homages to various kinds of blogs and online journals, and the Mojo Wire got to be lampooned this week. I particularly appreciate the Gin Blossoms reference in the title, and feel like with this out there, I can take a break and not write so much today.

Still re-orienting a bit here. Hopefully get back into the swing of things soon.

I don't hate you for disrespecting my nostalgia, though.

I am learning the subtle art of making coffee. And what I'm learning is that I'm not very good at it.

The machine is supposed to do most of the work. My pot at home, or where I used to call home, certainly did. I remember the first time I used it, when I realized, staring blankly at the filters in front of my then girlfriend, that I had no clue what I was doing, that this plastic thing in front of me was demanding attention from someone other than a perky, round-bottom barista, or rather more often, to the Jason Mewes looking guy who was just trying desperately to sling as many espressos as he could across the counter until he could afford to get the hell out of that place, and probably, out of the state. Post-script to the story? I went back to my coffee shop a few months ago, just to check, not to stay, I really couldn't have sat on that couch again. And he was gone, that morning saint who'd memorized my coffee-with-soy, he'd finally gotten out.

I saw him later, working at the coffee place next door.

I was lucky. In that moment without him, that time when I needed to look macho and knowledgeable in front of this girl, to show I had the manhood necessary to operate the coffee maker, I had absolutely no clue as to what I was doing. And that girl let slide. Though I am young, I think that there is rarely a show of love so strong as not pointing out another person's stupidity, save perhaps a few Lloyd Dobler-esque gestures or something involving one parachute.

It was a brilliant moment of triumph for me, and one she let me take complete credit for. I have no idea why, but if anyone here is eyeing sainthood, I'd consider taking notes. And from here on in, I felt I could master any coffee machine, or at least any that relied so heavily on the common three-part construction of maker, filter, and pot.

Post eviction, I found a new challenger. It didn't look any different [okay, so maybe it looked older, though one wonders if even the most posh and modern coffee makers manage to look as though they were made after 1979 -- a trait shared only by the digital clock], but there was something not quite right, one might almost call it contrary, and it had no sympathy for someone careless in its use. Too much coffee, and it's bubble over, beating back the filter from it's inner walls and filling the belly of the pot with grounds, while too little meant brown water that tasted more or less like what came from the tap. Measurements had to be exact, and not exact to any particular, measurably amount, no, it had to be exact to the old, disposable cup someone had once left in the container now holding the grounds. It didn't want to give me coffee; it wanted to give me a hard time, and to leave it the hell alone and let the woman who had cared for it diligently for years to continue to brew everything just right.

I find I hate it, for not respecting my nostalgia.

I spoke to Kyle today about "Nova." He's taken on another side-project, but feels his schedule will be freeing up a bit soon, and work will probably happen then. I've been thinking about some design things, particularly for the wings of the angels, something maybe a little more current to the trends as well as easier and cheaper for us to do. Nothing permanent enough to mention here yet, but maybe in a few days, after Kyle and I have had some time to ruminate on it.

I'm only up now, drinking my weak swill I made myself, because my allergies have hit me pretty hard, and sleeping just wasn't on the agenda last night.Which is a shame, because earlier in the day I finally slept quite a bit, and caught up after the two 36+'ers I pulled in tandem there. I find myself desperately wishing it would freeze outside, just to give me a little relief.

My last post made it sound like I was getting back to work. I really thought I was, but after sitting with several piles of papers all I could think was how I had no idea what I wanted to work on next. Barring 'want' there's nothing that needs my immediate attention, so that's out as well. Something new might be cool, assuming it wasn't a "completely take over my life" sort of something new, but I'm always short on inspiration while trying this hard. A lot of other writers have told me that at times, it's better to "just write" which is, more or less, what this post is, me putting myself at the computer and just trying to produce, even if the end result isn't very good. And anyway, it's my blog, so if I want to turn my mind out and see if it does a trick [that works on so many levels], then that's my prerogative.

Lot on my mind. Might need to sit, re-organize things up there a little bit before I can get to work again. But there are these panels in my head, like comic books, all drawn by John Romita Jr. [I have no idea why I'm thinking in his style, but it's happened before, in high school, so much so that if I met the man I might ask him to draw Jay Gatsby], of myself and others, of things I watch on TV or read that I've written. And they seem so... clear. It makes me want to get it all out so I can look at it proper.

So there's that.

I wish I had a novel in me. This is national novel writing month or something ridiculous like that, where everyone and their cousin are trying to write one, and I find it offensive for a number of probably unfair, and most certainly elitist reasons. The novel is one of the few formats/genres I still put up on a pedestal, and the idea of attempting to finish one in a month causes me physical pain. To illustrate, people have, usually lovingly, told me that I tend to agonize over whatever I'm working on, and I currently think a novel is too big of a mountain for me to climb. Which on the surface probably doesn't mean anything to anyone but me, yet it seems like a heavy responsibility to shoulder just because an internet holiday tells you to. Think about what you're taking on, is all I'm saying.

Eh. Ignore me. I'll always be uptight when I think folks are being cavalier about writing. Imagine how indignant I'll get if one day someone starts paying me for it.


I know there weren't any posts for the last week, but I had plans to take a trip and that kept me from doing much writing, especially here. Barring drastic changes [again], it doesn't look like I'll be going anywhere for the time being, so I'm going to try and get back into the routine.

It was weird to miss a week, especially with how I've been feeling lately. Everything has seemed very present, like something is right on my heels, and I'm trying to out run whatever it is. It's hard to explain, but it feels like a deadline, or maybe more like a drum beat from an oncoming army. There's no way to guess what's coming, when it will arrive, or if it's even really on its way at all, and I will freely admit it could all be in my head, but I've felt this real urge to just sit and write -- get things out of my head and onto to paper, even if they're just truncated notes scribbled here and there.

What I feel like I need to do is actually finish some things. If it were any other year, it would be ridiculous to me that things like "Trendsetter" and "Familiar" are sitting unfinished; it isn't any other year, of course, but the point stands. Following up a little better would be nice too -- I finished the script for the RCQ script [Re: Real Quality Comics #1] ahead of schedule, and even found a few places where I might find interested artists, but I didn't keep with it, even though I have three or four outlines for new issues. It's all there, the oft-repeated mantra of this blog might as well be "I just need to do it" and these things are no different. Of course, that's also simplifying it a lot. There's something intangible between "this is what I need to write for this scene" or "this is what needs to happen on this page" to what actually goes on the page, and making that leap, at least for me, takes a lot of time.

I don't want this to seem like a "Randall gets his shit together" entry because that would involve me actually getting my shit together, and we're all better off if I don't have to do a "Randall's sorry he didn't fulfill his promise and get his shit together" post later. But the past couple of days have been prime ones for rethinking things, including some of the stuff I was working on before Dad died that I haven't really picked up since. I think there were ideas, even projects that were really present and important to me, that I sort of "gave up" when that happened, not unlike how I gave up video games for that period of time there.

I spent a lot of today reading over "Trendsetter" again, and thinking of some alternatives to putting so much of it in a Walmart. Having the character of Eddie be a flea market pitchman isn't the best idea I've ever had [and Jesus, I'd have to re-write more than half of TS to accommodate that], but it was fun to play with his dialogue, and get the character back in my head.

And it also reminded me how much I've wanted to write something about Evangelical youth ministers...

I'll see tomorrow if it goes anywhere. Cheers.

Found wanting.

Last night I did the first twenty pages of "Bourgeois Punks," before stumbling about where to take the story after I'd already had a coke party and a funeral [the first I put in with great trepidation, especially having read John's recollection of workshop writing at Bennington]. I don't really know if I'm going to follow up with it, as while I already have a strong Act 3 in mind, I really have no clue what the end of Act 1 and the beginning of Act 2 is supposed to look like. I only mention it at all because it's rare that my throw-away writing takes shape like this did -- usually what I end up with is a scene, a conversation, or an outline, but here, there's a beginning, and several scenes, and all the characters slowly hit their mark of who they're supposed to be.

Besides, at 20 pages of a screenplay, it's hard to not start thinking about the math. If it only tops out at 90, then it's entirely plausible that a first draft could be done in around five days. Of course, in this case, that would rely on some flashes of brilliance and inspiration to get me through the next thirty or so until the things start happening that I know I want to have happen, but still. People have been telling me more and more lately not to toss so much out, and though I've always felt my process has worked very well with me, it's hard not to argue with folks who've managed to put together a slightly more robust body of work than I have.

The story for BP is nothing special. Pretty much a straight romance with hipsters, something I keep toying with but putting away as soon as it starts to resemble anything. Ending takes a different turn than what I think most people would expect with the genre, so there's that as a saving grace, along with a denouement I think I could actually sit through if I were watching it. There are a lot of characters [in this first twenty I just barely squeeze in nine], and the pacing is sort of wonky, and would probably have to be reworked heavily if I ever wanted to do anything with this. Not strange for me is knowing where I want to go, but not being very sure as to how to get there, and I think I might have just kept writing tonight if not for the fact that I had no idea what the next scene should be.

This morning, I've been thinking about "Un-filmable" -- specifically, if I'm any closer to getting it made than I was when I finished it over a year ago. The funny thing is, it doesn't seem like such an impossibility now, as it has in the past. Pragmatically speaking, and working from the numbers Kyle and I were using on "Nova," I think it could probably be finished in two-and-a-half weeks for somewhere in the area of 25,000-35,000 dollars. Not that I'm anywhere near being able to get that kind of money, but still, with the few connections I have, if funds were to materialize, I think I could do it easily.

So much is about money, of course. And I'd probably have to take the rain scene out. At least the exterior one.

It's good to get writing done, as I actually hadn't done much of anything since making my Halloween post. Three days isn't really a dry spell, especially for me, but for some reason it felt like one. Not getting any feedback on it was kind of a bummer, but let's face it -- not that many people read this blog, and sometimes replying to comments slips my mind, which I doubt encourages people to do make any.

I'm going to try and do a "PsyOps" outline in the next couple of days. I was looking at how many notes I put together in that one period of time when things were just really flying onto the page, and realized if I ordered these things a bit, I might actually have the story I've been looking for. Not sure yet, though.

In an interesting aside, Julia and Zoe both have blogs up about some of their influences. Both good, interesting reads, especially for my interests. Speaking of my interests, the Lucid Despair blog also has an entry up on "Heart Throb Comics," that though tongue-in-cheek was just fascinating to me, especially considering the "Real Quality Comics" script I did recently.

All for now. It's been nice to write a little, but the past 12 hours or so have been rough.

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.