#Weeknotes S02E02

I didn’t slack this week. I got sick. And up until very recently, I didn’t see a practical difference between the two. The voices in my head say, (a) okay fine, “sick” is a reason but you’re still as behind as you would be if you just fucked off and (b) no one wants to hear you whinging.

Luckily, therapy has been good for me. So yes, I can acknowledge that I didn’t keep up with my daily diary (a la Barry) or drawing exercises (a la Brunetti). But I did take care of myself, and that was the important thing. Staying home from work, seeing a doctor, getting my back adjusted — all important things. Right? Right.

(And if repeating that to myself over and over really keeps the demons at bay, well that’s fine too.)

WRITING PROGRESS. So, then how’d my first week of 2020 go?

Longest Writing Chain This Week: 2 days. But I did have 3 writing days altogether.

I suck at coming up with interesting code names, so I’ll continue calling what I’m working on right now Short Story 01. Same “Short Story 01” I was working on this time last year, but I made some decent progress on its rewrite by experimenting with Oblique Strategies (I have an app) to get me through problem areas. The results are interesting, even if I decide not to keep them.

ROTTING MY BRAIN. Still working my way through THE EXPANSE but I’ve been seeing what the animated HARLEY QUINN is all about. Well, it’s now overtaken AGGRETSUKO as my favorite cartoon. HARLEY feels like it has everything I love about old Adult Swim shows but without the “Jokes for you and your stoner buds who’re up too late” vibe.

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

Seriously, printing and scanning over WiFi with my tablet has actually made my life better twice this week.

IN THE WILD. Trying to address just one of the various and sundry ways I’ve neglected myself lately.

I know, but it helps my back, shut up. And, no jokes about “Now, why don’t you get your attitude adjusted?” My inner voices beat you to it!

#Weeknotes S02 E01

In 2019 I put a lot of work primarily into my personal life: my mental/emotional/physical health, family, friends. That work goes on, but in 2020 it’s time to invest some of the energy I got back last year into getting more words out into the world.

I’m taking my time deciding what projects I want to continue with or whether I want to start fresh with something new. Both routes appeal to me. I’m bound to pick something in the next couple of days and will go back to tracking and posting about how well I did or didn’t generate a writing chain this week.

I also plan to get through my reading backlog with three things in mind this year:

  • If I’m ever going to conquer my reading backlog, I need to do it in a systematic manner.
  • It might help if I read with an eye toward blogging my thoughts whenever I come across something that especially strikes me. I’m told people actually like my Quickie Reviews.
  • If I find myself slogging through a book, then I just need to just give it the fuck up and move on to the next thing.

Welcome to Donfoolery in 2020!

FEEDING MY EYES. Lynda Barry never disappoints. I’ve occasionally had to stop and put down MAKING COMICS because it’s so dense and full of more good stuff to absorb into my writing practice than I can ever try in a year, I think.

That’s not going to stop me from trying, though!

I’ve also pulled out something I bought but shelved last March, Ivan Brunetti’s CARTOONING: PHILOSOPHY AND PRACTICE, a book Barry mentions all the time. I know it was March when I opened it up last because I dug up a sketchbook I bought myself at the time dated “March 2019” before abandoning it. There was a lot going on at that time. Anyway, I’m not out to be any kind of cartoonist as a goal, but I’ve looked to exercises and ideas from both these books to keep the artistic juices flowing.

ROTTING MY BRAIN. Another item on this year’s to do list is re-establishing my geek cred. I’m a little out of touch with some things, but I’m catching up!

I don’t know how my geek card didn’t get revoked having missed the boat on THE EXPANSE. I can tell it’s leaving an impression on me, because things that do tend to keep my subconscious mind on the lookout for anything even tangentially related…

Getting through Season 1, I realized I’d actually seen a couple of episodes here and there. Guess it just got lost in the shuffle. Anyway, I’m on it now and yes, it’s every bit as good as everyone says it is. The main draw for me so far is Shohreh Aghdashloo, better known to me as Lakshmi-2 of the Future War Cult. I have to say, I can’t remember the last time I saw as compelling a character on sci-fi TV as Chrisjen Avasarala.

What impresses me most of all is how smoothly all the moving parts of the narrative revolve around each other in almost perfect, overlapping orbits. I’m through the first few episodes of Season 2. I’m sure I’ll be back with more to say!

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

But you’re doing well
I mean, you’re not dead
So let’s celebrate while we still can

GTFO Here with this “Real Fan” BS

I’ve been meaning to post more besides Weeknotes, and I’m in a mood. So, why not let the two impulses dovetail?

You know, I used to have more patience for people who protect and defend their fandoms. Back in the day, there was a line to be held with the people who point and laugh for loving STAR WARS, or DOCTOR WHO, or any comic book. There was a good fight to be fought.

But now, I see “real fans” doing the pointing and laughing, targeting poeple with the gall to love what we love, except a little bit differently than how we do? Really?

And if you’re within spitting distance of my age and doing that (Yeah, I see you.), what the hell’s the matter with you? Try aging gracefully, FFS.

#Weeknotes S01 Extras

Some end-of-the-year website cleaning prompted me to do something about two post drafts from months ago that I never finished. Yes, I’d see them every time I log on, but I put mental orange construction barrels around them. Until today!

DELETED SCENE: 4TH STREET. This was a post that for some reason never got past the draft stage. But I thought it’d be a shame to waste this picture a friend of mine took at the 2019 4th Street Fantasy convention.

The panel was “Fantasy About Everyday People.” Probably the most fun I’ve had on a con panel!

DELETED SCENE: CHANNELING MY INNER ERIC BOGOSIAN. This was a post I was preparing ahead of a scheduled appearance at last year’s Boskone that I had to back out from unfortunately. I’d signed up for the third time in a row for their annual Open Mike.

I’d decided to post the piece I did for the second open mic in 2018, complete with pictures that represented actual props I used.

++

“Custodial Interference”

Hey, you found us! Craigslist, huh? Gotta love it, right?

Uh, so look, I’m sorry you missed out on the cauldron and the curved knives. And most of the candles, but there’s still a LOT OF STUFF left. In fact, I saved some the best stuff JUST FOR YOU! Because I can tell from your emails that you’re a SERIOUS collector. You want real super-villain memorabilia? I got some right here, in the back of my Dad’s van!!

That’s right — MY DAD, also known as The Satanic Panic!

Look, just please tell me you’re not some kind of reporter or writer, trying to cash in. This stuff is personal to me. These are MEMORIES.

I remember him reading me his manifesto when I was 10. At bedtime. I didn’t really understand it at the time. But I was going through his stuff after he died, and I saw where bits and pieces of it came from. Check this out…

I know, I know, “It’s just a game.” But to my dad, this was a BIBLE. And I’ll tell you, you go through this and see all the highlights and with notes in the margins… it’s just like Mom’s actual Bible.

And there’s more — see all those boxes? Books. Files, too. He kept FILES on his enemies, you know — “heroes.” You got names. Statistics: how strong they were, how smart they were, how wise they were, how dexterous they were.

And, MAPS — just keep digging they’re all in there. Hideouts he had in different cities like Detroit and Los Angeles. Different ISLANDS. All sketched on graph paper, and you can even see where all the booby traps were.

He’d make me learn them every other weekend after the divorce, when he had visitation. And even in-between… he’d show up randomly at school and sign me out. Mom would get SO PISSED. But it was bonding time, you know? Father and son.

He had a lot of stories about his exploits: Fires on Devil’s Nights? That was him. Tainted Halloween candy? All him. Inspiring kids to express themselves however they needed to, wherever they needed to — in the woods, sewers, tunnels, with makeshift swords and armor…

I know people wanna judge, but in his mind he was fighting the system. The system that gave him Vietnam, Watergate, high gas prices, got him divorced, all that stuff. He really was the hero of his own story.

He was to me, at least. I know; what do you want, I was 10.

Actually — you wanna talk about MEMORIES? Let me tell you about this… this is a TREASURE, I don’t care what my mom and her Pastor says…

EH?? A lot of things made sense when I found this.

After the divorce and the restraining order, mom said I needed help. She tried her church first of course, but that was just people touching Bibles to my forehead. Then I got in trouble a little bit, and Social Services came in, and made her take me to see a bunch of kid shrinks. One time, I got HYPNOTIZED and a bunch of things came FLOODING BACK that I’d totally forgotten!

Flashes, really. My Dad, and some of his friends in costumes — ROBES and GOAT MASKS. I didn’t get one — I guess I was naked? I’m not sure, but the THERAPIST SAID I was, so okay. I guess there was some blood and chanting and… well, I dunno, it kinda fades after that.

Funny thing is, when I wrote Dad asking about it (which technically violated the restraining order — OOPS.), he swore up and down he had no idea what I was talking about.

Anyway, flash forward 33 years later. Dad dies and his OLD VAN gets towed to our driveway with all his stuff. Mom sees it and FREAKS. “I want this stuff out of here. You ain’t keeping it. Not under MY ROOF…” blah blah blah, I mean, Jesus, I’m 43 years old, I’m a certified goddamn accountant, and I live here too… I’m keeping the van, though, I don’t give a shit what she says.

Anyway, when I saw this, I got a flash of something. I’m back in that room, and I SWEAR, now I remember a voice saying, “This is your legacy! You are the son of The Satanic Panic.” You are the Son of Satanic Panic… I am the Son of Satanic Panic…

So… anyway… Actually I have MORE stuff, if you’re interested. Just down the way, at the storage place. I can show you. C’mon, hop in the van… what, you just got here, you got time.

Oh, c’mon… wait, look, hey…

I got candy.

(c) 2018

#Weeknotes: Please Stand By

I wrapped up this year’s Weeknotes last week, but I did promise a follow-up if I had news. That job I applied for? Didn’t get it. It was the theme of the year, the standard “You were very competitive, we just decided to go in another direction but if another opening comes up, you will be the first person I call.” 0 for 3 this year. Yeah, I’m down but not out. This hasn’t ruined my holidays or anything; I’ve never been much of a holiday person to begin with.

In fact, all in all, this is the most relaxed I’ve felt heading into a holiday in years. Which is good, because I’m just as exhausted. But at least there’s some hope that while things have burned down, other things are getting rebuilt simultaneously, just like this portion of my apartment complex.

What things? I’ll put a list together between now and New Year’s!

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK. It’s all in your perspective…

#Weeknotes S01 E12

I’ve managed 12 of these Weeknotes entries this year. 3 months’ worth — roughly 25% of the amount I’d planned to do. But I’ll take it!

My 2019 didn’t start the way I’d hoped; more accurately, the last part of 2018 messed me up. In the end, it was all in the name of changes I needed to make, even if I hadn’t planned on making them. Some changes even panned out over the last year! Whatever happens, I know I’m heading into 2020 in a much better state than this time a year ago.

I think I’m going to take a Weeknotes hiatus until after the New Year. But expect an occasional post or two, year end rants and raves and such. And hopefully some news about that last iron in the fire.

IRON IN THE FIRE. I should know next week, just in time to either make my holidays or put a crimp in them. I’m good no matter what happens, though.

MOOC PROGRESS. Don’t talk to me about MOOC progress…

FEEDING MY EYES. I’m taking a “one bite of the elephant at a time” approach to my backlog. I’ve upgraded my tablet to something more suited to my aging eyes: a Lenovo Tab M10… as in 10″. Man, I just didn’t appreciate how sub-optimal reading comics on my smaller tablet was.

Anyway, the titles will look familiar:

  • MAKING COMICS by Lynda Barry
  • THE SITUATION AND THE STORY by Vivian Gornick
  • ESSAYS ONE by Lydia Davis
  • EMBRACE YOUR WEIRD by Felicia Day
  • IMPROV FOR WRITERS by Jorjeanna Marie

One bite at a time…

ROTTING MY BRAIN. I’ve been keeping up with the newest season of the anime ONE PUNCH MAN. I haven’t related harder to a character since THE IRRESPONSIBLE CAPTAIN TYLOR. It’s taking me awhile to get into this new season though. Man, is it slow-burning. Makes a Brian Michael Bendis comic feel like a flash fiction piece.

This season definitely focuses more on the OPM world, than on Saitama himself. But somehow just as I think I could be losing interest, Caped Baldy manages to show up at just the right time and for just long enough to keep me interested. Well, now I have to know what happens in the rest of the season.

IN THE WILD. Asher watching ONE PUNCH MAN with me last night…

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

#Weeknotes S01 E11

Relatively short one this week, only because things have been busy at the dayjob since the holidays. It’s always a busy time of the year right as people are scrambling to get everything wrapped up between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I spent most of this weekend just taking it as easy as possible and fighting my tendency to make every second of it productive, at least this once.

But you know, just thinking about it now tickles my anxiety a little; like, “You still got time between now and Monday, get on the stick!” Especially since I’ve really let my progress slip on the MOOC I’m doing. And it doesn’t help that I learned that being a professional dungeon master is a thing. Makes me feel like I missed a calling in life.

I just need to get comfortable with just chilling the fuck out between things. I think that’s a 2020 goal.

IRON IN THE FIRE. So yesterday I had an interview for a new position at my dayjob. Things look good; then again, I’ve thought that before. But I’m one of two final candidates so my odds are 50/50 at this point. I should hear in the next couple of weeks, so I’m either going to have an awesome holiday or, well, an okay one. Y’all will know as soon as I do!

FEEDING MY EYES. Would you believe that yesterday I came across another episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE — “The Fear” — that I’ve never seen before?

FEEDING MY EARS. It only took me 30 years to figure this out…

IN THE WILD. This was the week that Asher finally ventured out of the bedroom (under his sister’s watchful eye, of course). Monday, he made it out of the hallway, and spends longer and longer out in the living room before being startled by something and scurrying back to his hidey hole. And just now, for the first time, he jumped up onto the living room furniture. He’s come a long way!!

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

#Weeknotes S01 E10

I remember a time when a winter storm warning wouldn’t be enough to keep me inside if I didn’t want to be. As long as at least the cafe within walking distance was open, I’d always have a Third Space to take advantage of. But in my old age, I’m starting to like my First Space a little more. Plus, I just got word that the Barnes and Noble that usually hosts my writing group on Sundays is closing up early today.

IRON IN THE FIRE. Given that the next step in the process is on Friday, I probably won’t have anything substantive to report by next Sunday. I’ll keep you all posted, though!

FEEDING MY EYES

FEEDING MY EARS. With another episode of the Ezra Klein Show podcast that was so dense, I had to listen to it twice: “How Whole Foods, yoga, and NPR became hallmarks of the elite.”

IN THE WILD. It’s been a month since our little buddy passed away. He left behind a pretty lonely sister, so we decided to get another friend a couple of weeks ago.

Say hi to Asher, formerly known as “Chomp Nomz,” which is the name he earned in lockup (i.e. at the local SPCA). They say his first act after rescue was to lightly bite on someone’s finger, probably because he thought it was food and he was even smaller than he is now. But we believe in second chances in this household! He also answers to “Lil’ Guy,” “Criminal Kitten,” “Meatball,” and “Lil’ Purr Monster.” Seriously, his purrs sound like he’s got a little plastic toy motor in him!

He and Mazikeen have been slowly (like, very slowly) getting acclimated to each other, but things are moving in the right direction!

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

#Weeknotes S01 E09

This may be the very first time in over 10 years when I didn’t face a Thanksgiving holiday feeling so exhausted that the thought of the holidays would fill me with dread and the indignation of, “More shit to do when I really need a fucking break.” I guess that’s what happens when I actually get the help I need. Not that I don’t need a break, though.

IRON IN THE FIRE. Still waiting on the one remaining prospect. Signs are positive but we all know we can’t count our chickens, &c. And then you know what, I’m going to ride out 2019 on a relatively high note compared to this time last year.

FEEDING MY HEAD. I mentioned last week starting another Iowa Writing Program MOOC, “Hidden Meanings: Creative Fiction, Non-fiction, and Facts.” I’m already behind, but that’s pretty par for the course. But already in the first module, I came away with a tool I know I can use in the future, which led me to the Vivian Gornick book I got…

FEEDING MY EYES. Yes, I know I have a backlog, but Comixology was having a sale on Humanoids books, so I picked up a Metal Hurlant Collection AND I REGRET NOTHING!

I’m glad I didn’t completely miss the party on another Humanoids book, The Twilight Man, a graphic biography of Rod Serling. And we all know how I loves me some Serling! Again, I regret nothing.

The purchase of the week though is Gornick’s THE SITUATION AND THE STORY: THE ART OF PERSONAL NARRATIVE.

IN THE WILD. “Good… goooooood!”

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

#Weeknotes S01 E08

I’m writing this from one of my usual haunts, a deli/cafe within walking distance of my place. My heart jumped when I saw my favorite soup was being served today, and was immediately crushed a moment later when I saw the empty pot indicating it was all gone. But my second-favorite soup was available and it was tasty! That’s just a perfect metaphor for this past week. Why?

IRON IN THE FIRE. Because as I found out, the irons I had in the fire aren’t plural anymore. One of them, an application to a grad school program, was rejected. Disappointing to be sure, but if there was one thing that came out of it, it was the outpouring of support from people who believed along with me that I at least deserved the shot.

The other iron, though? Well, the needle’s still moving in the right direction so we’ll just have to see. Not that it’s somehow a second, or lesser choice! No, the truth is if I’d scored even one of these things, it would make life better in the long run. This iron working out wouldn’t be a consolation prize, but a key step! It does mean I’m down to my last bet, though. If this other prospect doesn’t pan out… well, then I’m certainly no worse off than I am today. Would just have to look for the next thing, is all.

MOOC. In the meantime, I need to jump start my creativity a bit. Luckily, another University of Iowa writing MOOC has opened up on the topic of “Hidden Meanings: Creative Fiction, Non-fiction, and Facts.” I don’t always finish them, but I almost always come away with a useful tidbit or ten.

FEEDING MY EYES. I keep telling myself I need to increase my fiction consumption to balance off the non-fic. And then something like this essay collection by Lydia Davis comes along, and blows my resolve out of the water.

IN THE WILD. Who’s daddy’s little girl? You are, Mazikeen! Yes, you are!!

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK…

Here’s hoping I have something good to report in the next Weeknotes!