#Weeknotes S00 E04

If you’re reading this then I’ve managed to write this for a fourth week in a row and nothing stopped me from clicking “Post.” Something always happens to me when I’m building up a habit and meet with some early success. I almost immediately start stressing about the habit is going to eventually implode. Not today, Satan! Welcome to season 0, episode 4!

It’s going to be a short one, though. If I do manage to pull off 52 of these in 2019, I anticipate that some of these will just be “proof of life” posts, and that’s okay. Again, this is only a test.

PROJECTS. Just… just don’t ask.

READING Still catching up on random LOCUS articles. Just downloaded the December issue, though. But at least the backlog–well, the LOCUS backlog–isn’t that long.

My NEW YORKER backlog, however, is a different story.

WATCHING. I’ll say this, now that I’ve had a chance to think about DOCTOR WHO Series 11: This was the 2005 Series 1 we should’ve had. I think some of the flaws, real or perceived, that some episodes had can easily be chalked up to being “series 1” flaws. I do think the decision to avoid revisiting the past took some things away; I get the “throwing out the baby with the bathwater” argument. But it was a good and much needed reset and I’m ticked that it’s not coming back until New Year’s, and that’s it for 2019.

I could go into lists of what I liked and didn’t like, but I think this tweet from a few weeks ago says it all…

IN THE WILD. Out with the old, in with the new…

#Weeknotes S00 E03

Third week in a row, so I guess it’s a habit now! I’m wrapping up a year that I’d like to be done with now. Maybe not as badly as I wanted 2016 and 2017 done, but pretty close. Changes are afoot–I hope. Welcome to season 0, episode 3!

WORKFLOWS. This has been my third week modifying the way I use my personal devices to write and conduct my text- and tech-related business. Basically, Google Keep and Docs has allowed me to do my non-dayjob related stuff almost exclusively on my tablet while I’m moving on the fly. As light as my ThinkPad X1C is, my dayjob life flies too fast and leaves me so exhausted lately, enough to make it kind of useless to carry it around every second of every day. But for those moments where I, f’rinstance, have a little time while sitting in a cafe to to edit a draft or polish off a blog entry, this setup works just fine.

PROJECTS. Everything writing-related has stalled this week. No excuses but many reasons, including illness and exhaustion.

READING. I finished Cal Newport’s SO GOOD THEY CAN’T IGNORE YOU a month and some change ago, and have been reflecting on it in the context of changes I need to make in my writing life and, more urgently, my dayjob life. I’m about find out if I’ve accumulated enough career capital to start making those changes.

I got to M. Rickert’s story “True Crime” in Issue 72 of NIGHTMARE MAGAZINE. I’m too biased at this point to be objective about her work after all the years I’ve been reading it!

This article’s a year old but somehow came across my transom recently: “From Machen to VanderMeer: The Weird Landscape as the Avatar of Evil”. It’s a nice overview that includes Margaret St. Clair, one of those writers I (re-) discovered before it was cool. I became acquainted with her work about 7 or 8 years ago when I sought out and read some of the Weird short stories that were adapted into episodes of ROD SERLING’S NIGHT GALLERY, namely St. Clair’s “Brenda.” Of course, this led me to pull out my old copy of her best of anthology and re-read “Child of Void.”

WATCHING. I’ve lost track of the things I’ve been mindlessly watching, but as I play catch-up with Series 11 of DOCTOR WHO, I finally have some thoughts. But I’m deliberately taking my time letting those thoughts fully cook before I share them. Like every series since 2005, it has its strengths and weaknesses. I just want to make sure I’m making my comments are as unfiltered by any of my graying middle-aged cismale biases as much as possible.

Who else is watching Hasan Minhaj’s PATRIOT ACT on Netflix? The title sequence itself is worth the price of admission, just for the look that Minhaj has on his face at the end of it. I can relate, my brown brother. I can relate.

IN THE WILD. Somehow, the idea of trying to dress up some underdeveloped bushes with holiday lights during a dreary upstate New York winter resonates with me…

#Weeknotes S00 E02

Hey, 2nd week in a row! I’ll be honest, I didn’t think I could pull it off. Again, the idea is to see if I can build a habit I can sustain next year. So far, so good. Welcome to season 0, episode 2.

This hasn’t been a good week for getting much done. I’ve been sick for most of it; I had to take 2 days off from the day job. I let myself spend hours at a time in bed, but I just had to keep working on the latest IWP MOOC, Stories of Place. Mostly the readings, though. Lots of stuff just filling my brain and churning away. Anyway, what else have I been up to?

NEW WORKFLOWS. Okay, I get why a lot of people throw caution about privacy to the wind and put all their writing in Google Docs. And with the Keep extension for Chrome, I can have my current projects offline on my laptop. It seems more reliable than I remember from even a couple of years ago. Now, I knew I’ve had this capability on my Android tablet. In fact, it’s come in handy by letting me work even on the bus commute to/from work.

PROJECTS. I added another page to the comic scripts. But I spent most of my writing time pushing through about 8 pages of edits on a short story. I’m reaching that point where I can see all the holes. But I can’t stress out about it until after I’ve finished this pass.

READING

  • The October and November issues of LOCUS. I’m way behind, and I figured I’d have to start catching up somewhere.
  • Still chipping away at DEAR AMERICA by Jose Antonio Vargas
  • On tap: the September 2018 issue of NIGHTMARE MAGAZINE, because I can never let a new story from M. Rickert go by without reading it.

THIS WEEK I LEARNED…

  • Jerry Springer’s old show is done but a new one rises from its ashes: JUDGE JERRY. Hey, at least Jerry’s got real legal experience, not to mention local government experience. Makes me wonder how he’s going to announce child support decisions, though.
  • The Lordstown GM plant is closing. I imagine that anyone with roots in Ohio understands the deeper meanings of that.
  • There was a talk by 2 Cornell emeritus professors on the history of American atheism that I might’ve attended if I’d been in town that particular weekend and known BookTV was going to be there filming it.

IN THE WILD. The perfect illustration of my day job lunchtimes…

Quickie Review: THE ENDLESS (2017)

I knew nothing about this film when it was recommended to me with the explicit instruction not to Google anything about it beforehand. Not even information about the directors/stars Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead. Okay, fine.

Within the first five minutes of it, I knew this was something right up my alley, even when I saw some shots that seemed to have that stereotypical “first year film student” vibe. It was a mistake to think that. It had all the earmarks of exactly the kind of stories I’ve been striving to write.

I’m reluctant to write much more for fear of spoiling it. There’s very little extraneous information about THE ENDLESS that couldn’t give something away to the literate speculative fiction film-goer once they were actually watching it. Okay, at the risk of doing that, I’ll say this is hands down the best film of a certain particular pulp sci-fi/horror genre I’ve ever seen, with some fresh ideas thrown in. And if you want to know why (god dammit, I’m really biting my tongue here), you’ll just have to see it.

Weeknotes – post-Thanksgiving edition

Going to try this weeknotes thing, at least on a trial basis, for the rest of 2018. Let’s just dive in and see how it goes. It’s longer than I wanted it to be, but despite the holiday it was a busy week last week.

NEW WORKFLOWS. Now’s about the time of year when I start playing with changes to various workflows, testing them before I bring them into the New Year. I do it to fight my tendency to cling to ways of working that have started to create more problems than were solved. And so for a month or two, I run short PDSA cycles. This year, it’s about how I sync my stuff.

Since I don’t pay for Dropbox I can’t really kvetch much about how their decision to stop supporting any Linux system not run on a clean ext4 drive (my Ubuntu partition on my ThinkPad is encrypted with ecryptfs, which is a no go now) has really fucked up my work. See, I’ve prided myself on being software and OS agnostic when it comes to my daily computing. Plain text files written with text editors, and synced to Dropbox. And if that text needs to go somewhere–Wordpress, an email, LibreOffice, whatever–copy/paste is my friend. But it offered me more or less the ultimate distraction free writing environment, or a platform where I could take quick notes.

This week, I’ve been running experiments to see how far I manage going all in on teh Googles–Keep and Docs, mostly–for writing and life management. And after that, I’m going to follow up on a recommendation to try the AWS Free Tier. In the meantime, though, it’s been going really well. I’ve been finding how it’s made me leverage my tablet more effectively, with the help of a portable Bluetooth keyboard. Of course, this new workflow slightly intensifies the pain of being without internet, but I’m really at no more risk than I was before.

PROJECTS. I migrated two projects in particular from my Dropbox folder into Google Drive: a comic script I’ve been tinkering with and a short story edit.

READING. Once again, a couple of books have managed to jump their place in my backlog queue.

  • DEAR AMERICA: NOTES FROM AN UNDOCUMENTED CITIZEN by Jose Antonio Vargas. I got about a quarter of the way through it when by chance I happened to notice an interview on BookTV’s AFTER WORDS the other night.
  • THE COLLECTED STORIES OF DIANE WILLIAMS. Yeah, I had no clue this was coming out. So much for my so-called friends who should’ve told me. C’mon now, you all know better!

VIEWING

  • CASTLEVANIA. I binged all of Season 2 on Netflix over a couple of days. I loves me some Warren Ellis.
  • THE ENDLESS (2017). I’m writing up a review. Loved it!
  • KIM’S CONVENIENCE. I have thoughts about this I need to write up, too!

IN THE WILD. I’m not sure how a mailbox ends up at a bus stop, but…

Quickie Review: LEAVE NO TRACE (2018)

This is a film I could write two reviews for, depending on my point of view:

One would talk about how the film shows not a single person of color. I feel like it bothered me less than it should have. Maybe because the film’s focus was, for all its Whiteness and White privilege, on a segment of people that are truly marginalized. But even when you look at the father’s problems, you can look at his circumstances and it’s obvious how much worse they would be if he was a person of color. He probably wouldn’t have lived past the first act.

The other would try to take the film at face value, and look at is as a story of two people in very vulnerable situations, any of which would go very badly for plot purposes in a Hollywood movie. And ultimately, how it’s a story of when even the closest parent and child must eventually separate. And yet, I still see an art-house film espousing the noblest virtues of White America. Of people–independent, everyday folk making their way in the Pac NW who “don’t want no trouble,” who are wounded warriors themselves, who are just trying to do the right by their community and church–moving out of their comfort zones to help a stranger driven by demons, and his daughter.

I really am of two minds about this movie. And that could be a sign that if someone’s privilege can be problematic, it’s my own.

4th Street, Listens, and Reads.

4TH STREET FANTASY. I know I promised a write-up, but there’s still too much stuff in my brain for me to dump here in a reasonably coherent manner. Seriously, I look at my notes and my brain goes into the exact same fog it was in at that point on Sunday where I had to stop taking notes. Suffice it to say it was just as good a time as last year’s, minus “That Thing” that happened last year. Bonus part was that the last conversation at the con was on whether I’d like to be on a panel next year (which, yeah).

LISTENING TO. Because no backlog is big enough to keep me from distracting myself with shiny things, namely 2 episodes of PRI’s STUDIO 360.

First, an interview with underground comics icon Aline Kominsky-Crumb. It doesn’t get too far in before her husband Robert Crumb gets mentioned, but so does Alison Bechdel, Marjane Satrapi, Phoebe Gloeckner, Spain Rodriguez, S. Clay Wilson, et al. I found Kominsky’s narrative about her attitude of general rebellion to oddly resonate with me. Note to self: pick up a copy of the expanded/reissued LOVE THAT BUNCH.

Second was a piece on the “FRONT International Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art”. Yes, I’m biased, and I know there’s so much Rust Belt ruin porn fascination combined with can-do-no-wrong boosterism. But there’s still something that tickles me about the idea of a “‘Second City’ emergence of really creative productivity” happening there.

I’m listing these here so I can find them later…

SHOULD’VE BEEN LISTENING TO. You people are supposed to tell me when rock deities release live albums. And you failed. 😉

CURRENTLY READING/RE-READING:

  • AIRSHIPS by Barry Hannah. Because it’s odd to imagine stories of fucked-up places less fucked up than today’s world.
  • BLOOD, BONES & BUTTER by Gabrielle Hamilton. I’ve been reading this for awhile now, but feel an urge to finish because after Bourdain, I feel like we need to appreciate chefs who can write.
  • ANALOG (JUL/AUG 2018). Because I know someone in it.
  • F&SF (JUL/AUG 2018). Also, because I know someone in it.
  • BENEATH CEASELESS SKIES #256. Again, because I know someone in it.

Chapter XLV

In the last chapter, our man was at the beginning of 12 months of chaotic change, coincidentally book-ended by the 4th Street Fantasy conventions of 2017 and a couple of weeks ago. I need to write about that, soon. Anyway, it was a year with ups and whole lot of downs, and very little writing progress. Hopefully, that ends now, once I get my feet back under me again.

In the meantime, as hip and cool as I am for 45, I hope to age more gracefully than this guy There, but for the grace…

So, what’s ahead for the next year, I wonder?

Don’s Boskone 55 Schedule

I know, I know — this is a really cheap way to do this. Life’s been busy. Not too busy, however, to pass up an opportunity to once again take up space in the program! Here’s where you can find me…

And if you don’t catch me at these panels, I’m sure you’ll catch me at others or roaming the halls or in the con suite. Step up and say hi!

“You gotta try to keep your head above the water / You gotta try to keep a step ahead of time…”

I’m in Cleveland in the house where I grew up, and I dug up that picture of my sixth birthday. It brings to mind a couple of things. First, my mother who we lost before the holidays, which necessitated traveling a week before I’d planned. Second, it’s a pretty funny reminder to myself that the struggle is real. That’s right, Don, raise that fist!

It was a collision of blessings and curses. Things gained, things lost, people lost, opportunities gained, lost, and re-gained. My writing life all but halted this year. It was only because of the connections I have with my friends and allies in the SF/F/H writing community (You all know who you are!) that kept me going.

The first part of 2018 will be finishing up all the old business (mine and my mother’s) from 2017. And then I’ll ease back into my backlog of short stories in preparation for rejoining proper society (read: the SF/F/H community) at Boskone in February. As for the rest of it…? Well, I’m usually further along at this point in formulating a loose idea of what my resolutions will be for the new year than I am right now. What can I tell you, it’s been a busy few weeks. And anyway, I’ve become less and less of a “Resolutions” person over time, and more of a “Here’s a GTD Projects List for the Year” guy.

2017 had its way with us. And if you’re like me and most people I know, we need some get back (metaphorically speaking) in 2018. How? Well, Mom might not have said these exact lyrics to me, but if I boil down everything she’s said to me over the years, it all comes down to the same good advice…

Thanks, Mom.