Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I got better...

Heya! Back from a bout of blogdeath. Hopefully I can do a little better moving forward here. I don't want to get bogged down in the whole "Sorry I haven't updated in a while" thing, but I did want to mention it for a very specific reason. In the last week and a half, about three of you have approached me, either directly or inderectly, and asked very non-pushily what was up with the blog. This surprised me, so I decided to buzz by and check the stat counter. It had gone up. fairly substantially. This means that people continue to stop by here, of their own volition, to check and see if I had anything to say. That made me feel good. So, I guess as long as you all show up, I should too. Thanks y'all.

So, it has been a while. A lot has been going on (and not, of course...I guess that is a pretty relative term.) Of course, I never have any idea what I am going to write about on this thing, so I guess the old tried and true "talk until you're bored" model will apply.

I bought a couple of mice about 6 months ago, needing animal companionship at a low rate of maintenance. I bought one white mouse (Yang) and one greyish/brownish mouse (Yin) from the rodent pet/snake feeder case at my local PetCo. They turned out to be pretty hands off pets, and while I didn't necessarily fall in love with them (they are mice, after all. It's not like they have the capacity for loyalty of a dog or the personality of a cat...), I did find that I enjoyed having them around. They are cute, fuzzy, and occasionally hang out on the couch with me, and they did begin to develop personalities which, oddly enough, fit their names pretty well. Yin is docile and passive, a little skittish, and cautiously inquisitive. Yang became incresingly aggressive, both with me and Yin. He also showed a growing fearlessness that often found him in places he shouldn't be and needing constant supervision. He and I went round a bit, but for the most part we just let each other do our own thing. He would let me pet him occasionally and I would put up with him chewing on the cage at 2:00 am. Then, two nights ago, I came home and grabbed a handful of food to toss in their cage. Yang was under the plastic igloo that serves as a home base for their little pack. He was hunched over and twisted into an odd shape. He didn't move. He twitched a couple of times and I covered him up to try and make him as comfortable as possible. I went to bed and woke up in the morning knowing Yin was curled up in the igloo with his dead buddy, sleeping like they did every night. I Tweeted about it a bit and was reminded of a great Rudyard Kipling poem by my friend Todd. So, on the way home from work, I grabbed a print out of the poem, stole some flowers from the scientologists on the corner, and laid it all in an empty ziplock bag box. I added the little corpse and took him out to his final resting place. Yin is now a lone mouse, unbalenced by the loss of his white half-brother. As for me, I am wracked with guilt over the untimely death of that shitheaded little mouse, thus proving that I have no business owning a pet right now. C'est la vie. I will eventually get another pet, but I think I am done with mice. Until then, I can only hope Yin enjoys the rest of his rodenty little life and I can quell the guilt pangs with the fact that I couldn't have killed Yang through sheer negligence, as the other one is perfectly fine. Small comfort for small wounds.

In less depressing news, can we please talk about this a little bit? Anyone around my age knows and loves this book. The production of this movie marks another instance of something I remember from my childhood becoming a massive pop culture event in its redistribution/readaptation. It is an odd phenomenon, and I think that while it is not at all exclusive to my generation, I do think that the scale of the thing begs a little analysis. Transformers, G.I Joe, the slew of Comic movies, a remake of Willie Wonka, books like The Polar Express and now WtWTA, all of these things speak to a sort of pop culture post modernism that is an aboslute hallmark of the past 10 - 15 years of entertainment, and which seems to be reaching a fevered pitch in the latter half of this decade. If you think that I am reading too much into this, then well and good. However, if you agree that this is a phenomenon that is at least dominant in our generation, I would really love you to leave a comment discussing it a bit. wh do you think this is so prevalent? Do you think it is a hinderance to the creative atmosphere to constantly "reimagine" previously created material, or is it just as viable creativly to adapt these things? If it is a negative thing, do you still get excited when you hear about a new project? Are they held to the same standards as other projects with original scripts? Let me know what you think. I would love to get a discussion going on this one.

I am going to the Chinese Theater tonight to see an advance screening. It looks delightfully cheesy. I hope it holds up to what I think it is going to be. I will let you know.

I am currently re-reading the Chronicles of Narnia and The Jungle Book. It has been well over 15 years since I have read either one of these things and I am really excited about it. I am only 2 chapters into Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe, and probably 5 into The Jungle Book. I am just now getting into the non-Mowgli parts of the book and had completly forgotten how little a part he plays in the book in total. It is amazing how we grasp nto one part of a story, especially in a situation like this, where there are so many varied things to take away from the book. I wonder why Mowgli was picked by Disney to be focus on and why his story resonates so much more than other parts of the book, even though they are almost equally well known? At any rate, I am really happy to be re-reading them. Challenge for this week: Dust off an old favorite and try it on again.

It is baseball season again. If I ever get back on track with this thing, I may start a second baseball blog that I can hop on and vent my baseball excitement. I want take up the space here, cause I am not convinced that anyone who comes here wants to hear about my near obsessive following of the best baseball team ever. So If you want to know, ask me. Otherwise, I will be keeping my mouth shut. Mostly.

Project news is scarce. LFM is in limbo til Darrell gets out of video game developer hell. So, I keep writing and he keeps squeaking in work where he can. I think we are hoping for an Octoberish launch, but nothing firm yet. Still, exciting stuff. Ranchero is out in the ether of editor submissions and slush piles. So, nothing to report there.

I think that'll about do it for now. Thanks for showing up. I will be back again this week, likely Friday. Til then...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Blogging is hard...

I have never been good with structured activity. Major weakness of mine. That said, I have nothing clever to offer in ways of an apology for missing the last blog, so we will just move on. I am actually really excited to see that, although the subscription level has remained unchanged, my little counter proves that people are actually checking this thing out. That is kind of cool. Thanks, ya'll.

So, local news first this time. The edit of Ranchero is nearly done, and just in time, as the end of February has been my goal from the beginning as the time for submissions. I think that with the next couple days off work, I am going to get there. This is a very exciting prospect, because it means that I can move on to trying to write a couple other things in my head. Eventually, I hope to be able to do two, possibly even three things at the same time, but baby steps. I will just feel really good to get something done.

LFM is back in production. Website production is the next major hurdle, both monetarily and learning curve-wise. I need to find the best way to get what I want out of a design, a magic money tree to pay for it, and then learn how to upkeep it well enough that I don't have to ask anyone else's help. Luckily, I have a couple of options here, and am nerdy enough to be able to figure it out. Other than that, it is just arc plotting and script writing. I am hoping to see some new art soon, and am really looking forward to sharing one particular piece with you all.

I will talk briefly here about Watchmen, which I was lucky enough to see a sneak preview of last Wednesday. After hearing multiple interviews with Zack Snyder, a couple of years of anticipation, and countless nerd debates, I feel like I can say this without qualification. They have made the best Watchmen movie possible. The tone is right on. The acting is fucking phenomenal. The effects are brilliant. At no point did I come out of the movie thinking, "Well, that isn't really right." True to the source material and (more importantly) the intention of the story, Watchmen is exactly what the fanboys expect to see. THAT BEING SAID...

I am just not sure how far that goes in a story like Watchmen. The movie is slow, sometimes deadly so, juxtaposed with truly brutal action sequences that seem less necessary than they do desperate attempts to inject some adrenaline into a very philosophical and dialogue-heavy story. I am not going to get into specifics (leave a question in the comments if you want to know something, and I will answer it with a spoiler tag), but I don't think that any of these instances are through the fault of the filmmaker. The fact of the matter is, Watchmen is, as a graphic novel, very slowly paced. You can do that in that medium. At the core of the issue here is that there is no main character in Watchmen. Each "costume" is an aspect of the figure we have come to call the superhero. Rorschach is hard line, unwavering drive; a code of ethics that has no room for shades of grey. Dr. Manhattan is the detachment that comes from realizing he has come so far from humanity, he has nothing left to relate to. The Comedian is the grotesque pleasure/desensitization the hero finds in the sometimes barbaric nature of the work. Nightowl is the impotence of never being able to do enough. Ozymandias is the self-righteous judge of humanity's fate. And so on, and so on. This makes for a brilliant story, full of texture and questions and psychology, culminating in this question; if we give these people, ANY people that kind of power, who is ultimately responsible when it all comes apart? What happens when those who we empower to make the terrible, world altering decisions do just that? Pardon the fanboy reference here, but who watches the watchmen?

So, while I commend Snyder and co. for making such a true representation of the story of Watchmen, again I ask, how far does that go? A movie without a single sympathetic character does not work. It is disjointed and tedious and long. That's just the difference in media between books and movies. In not changing the story, Snyder has set himself up for a lot of criticism. And I am awfully thankful for it, because while we didn't get a blockbuster movie out of it, what we did get is a legitimate attempt at a Watchmen movie that tries to tackle the questions the original story brings up. Not a superhero movie, not a PG-13 X-men meets Fantastic Four meets the Avengers in a post 9-11 terrorist war (the original script. Swear to God.) It's Watchmen. At the end of the day, I don't really care that it doesn't work perfectly. I am just happy that this is the movie we got. I will see it again (in IMAX, no less). I strongly recommend it. Know what you are getting into and go anyway. It's worth it to see.

That was vague, I know, but it's the best I can do for now.

I also want to address this issue briefly. To the nerds of the world:

Stop it. I mean it. Now. On Wednesday, I sat in that theater waiting for the Watchmen movie like a kid getting a sneak peak at Christmas presents in the living room closet. I was happy to be there. I am sure you were too. Here is the problem though. I don't care that you are clever. I don't care that you know more about the obscure origins of pop culture/comic figures than the 38 year old Mtv A.D. trying to keep you entertained while things are being set up. I don't care that you have a snarky little quip to everygoddamnthing that is said. Shut up. It is not clever, it is sad. Sad that you have to garner attention by acting out in public. It is sad that your friends support the behavior by laughing and congratulating you on every stupid interruption you throw out. It is sad that you think being on the fringe of society at large entitles you to voice every opinion that flows through your bespectacled, self-important, high-school-bullied-to-the-point-of-bitterness mind. KEEP IT TO YOURSELF. Please. Look, I am one of you. I read comics. I memorize lines from movies and use them in daily conversation. I know that Gambit first appeared in Uncanny #266. I have been to Comic-Con. I have read everything Neil Gaiman ever wrote. I LOVE Jonathan Coulton. I took a picture of David Tennant into my last hair cut so I could look like Doctor Who. I AM A NERD. The difference here is that I am not deluded into thinking that just because society at large doesn't value the things that I value, I am entitled to some sick sense of superiority. You are not doing anything but perpetuating the impression that all nerds are man-child, anti-social, Comic Book Guy clones. I refuse to be a part of that, and I cannot allow you to continue along that path. So I am blogging about it. CAUSE I AM A NERD. And proud of it. I would like to keep it that way. Thank you.

Lastly, tomorrow is Spring Opening for the MLB. St. Louis is playing the Florida Marlins. I am like a dog hearing the gate open, waiting for someone, anyone to come in and pet me. The need is palpable. Go Cards.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

So much time, so little to do...

Happy day after Monday! So, I am obviously a day behind my original schedule of blogs, now apparently writing on Tuesdays and Saturdays. What a wild ride this must be for you, my 5 subscribers. What twists and turns await us? Assured that there will be two posts a week, do you fear irregularity in the calender or do you embrace the terrifying unknown. Who can say, dear friends? Who can say? Well, I suppose you could. Also, I am nearly 70% sure that there are more than just those that subscribe that come to check this little page out. To those tragic figures, those Ronin Readers standing on the fringe of the blogosphere, glancing in from time to time with eyes wide with innocent possibility and appetites whetted for trivial, random, and often uninterestingly personal information, to you poor wandering souls I say this: Come, join us. Subscribe and get easily clickable updates. Also, subscribe and drive my readership up so I can look impressive to the nice gentlemen and ladies on craigslist to whom I will eventually send this blog in hopes of compensation. But mostly, you know, do it for yourself. You're the best.

So, I am pulling skyward from this weekend's down in the dumpsery. As such, I will not default and bore you with another treatise on ultimately unimportant baseball junk. I will briefly state that it is one week till the first Spring Training game, and I am excited. Not just excited, but twitchy. Anxious. Slightly engorged. Pujols had a really great press conference this weekend in which he talked about playing in St. Louis and stating how much he hopes to play his entire career there. I only own one baseball jersey, and I take a little bit of pride in wearing that number 5 around, not just because of the Birds on the Bat, but because the character of the man who owns that number is the stuff of legends: Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Cal Ripkin Jr., George Brett. These are all men who not only embodied athleticism and the competitive spirit of the game, but who also respected the fans and the legacy of baseball as an institution. Albert Pujols belongs in the discussion alongside these icons, and even a passing fan of the game should feel privelged to be able to watch him play the game. Idol worship end. Yay baseball.

It's Oscar time, and as such, my neighborhood is a ridiculous mess. Hollywood blvd. shuts down for 2 weeks, and let me tell you, if you think L.A. is gridlocked normally, the state of downtown Hollywood from Feb. 16 - 22 can only be described as a cluster fuck of mythic proportions. To give you an idea, I live here (I know, stalkers, you are welcome). If you look at the map, my clearest access to the 101 freeway is Highland ave. by way of Franklin. This leg of my travels is, at most, about 1/4 mile. With Hollywood Blvd. closed, this poor little road gets so clogged, it takes me easily 20 minutes to get to the intersection. C'est la vie, I also walk by numerous incredibly cool things every day, so I have no real complaints. Still, another reason to hate the Oscars.

Speaking of perks one enjoys living in Los Angeles, I will now brag. Ahem. ::knucklescrack:: I will be seeing Watchmen, not on opening night 03/06/09, but tomorrow. Wednesday. February 18, a full 2 1/2 weeks before the rest of the poor, pitiful world. Thanks go to Stephen Cross here, who picked me as his +1 for an Mtv event that will include the screening followed by a Q & A with Zack Snyder and a handful of the cast. This program will then be edited and shown on Mtv, which my generation remembers as a haven for music and cartoons. It is now known for slightly less stellar entertainment options. None the less, if having to appear on Mtv could be construed as a means of paying for the event I will attend, I feel the price is adequately fair.

In local news, Grandma Rhoads is back home and doing as well as one can expect. If you wouldn't mind, I would like to ask you now to shift the mighty powers of all the positive vibes you sent her over to my Grandpa, who is charged with caring for her. If you don't know me all that well, you may not have heard me talk that much about him. I will say without hyperbole that in my eyes, he is the most genuinely remarkable person to ever live. He is the embodiment of ideals and a lifestyle that has been all but forgotten in the modern world, and I firmly believe that every person in the world would benefit from sitting with him for one hour. I am lucky to have been given a life time with him, and I worry about him being able to carry another load on his 81 year old shoulders, so give a little thought to him when you can. I'm not sure what sort of metaphysics actually exist, but it can never hurt to try a little of everything.

Short story is moving forward. I will have the edit done by the beginning of next week, and then the long awaited submissions. I have played around with posting an excerpt here or some such thing, but I don't want to mess with the exclusivity of digital rights. That is to say, I don't want The Missouri Review to write me back saying, "Well, we love the story, but it is technically already publish on some shitty little blog, so no thanks." So, with that in mind, I will just keep it off the intertubes for now.

I lieu of that, I do have a treat. I can see you salivating there, starving for a little taste of exclusive material from your favorite unpublished, yet-to-complete-a-project, procrastinatory creative mind. Calm yourself. I am benevolent. Feast your eyes on this. A little free preview and a sneak peak into how Darrell and I communicate all rolled up into one barely legible tidbit. Be sure to zoom in.

That's a good bit for today. I will talk to you all at the end of the week with a very vague review of Watchmen. Spoilers will be hidden, so do not fear coming by for the rest of the info. Have a great Tuesday all. I am off to find a second cup of coffee.

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Not feeling up to the usual lighthearted bloggery today, intertubes. I had kind of a rough week here and am just trying to keep it on cruise control as much as possible. I won't bore you with the laundry list (::whinewhinewhine::), but I will ask you to keep my Grandmother Rhoads in your thoughts. She is having some health troubles, so any positive vibes are definitely appreciated.

What else. I had planned on talking about Dr. Who, but I think I will hold off on that till next week. I want to get a good little review together and am just not feeling it today. Be prepared though. The awesomeness that it will contain may be debilitating.

Baseball officially starts today. I could not be more excited. My St. Louis Cardinals have an awful lot of work to do this Spring, and it should be a great time watching these guys competing for a spot on the team. Major points of contention for the team:

  1. Second Base - The Cards just gave Adam Kennedy an unconditional release, obligating themselves pay the remainder of his $4 mil. salary. My understanding is that they tried to hold onto him as long as possible trying to work a trade, but no one was biting. It is a risky move, seeing that we didn't re-sign Felix Lopez or Aaron Miles. Those were both tough calls, especially regarding fan favorite Miles. "Stump" had a career year in '08, batting .317 with a .335 OBP and 31 RBIs. The problem with Miles is that he is shaky as an everyday 2B, and although he is great to have in the clubhouse, the Cards really need a solid option at the Keystone Corner. I don't know. I wouldn't have minded seeing him on the team this year, but done is done. So, what are we left with? Brian Barden has played a little bit of 2B, and is reaching a pretty critical year career-wise. He had some success with the 2008 Olympic team last year, but the 28 year-old infielder has never had a stellar big league showing. It is make or break time for him, and I personally think that if he can show a little improvement in batting, he makes the team as a bench/utility guy. Jared Hoffpauir will compete, but he is uninspiring, with marginal speed, power, and range. Tyler Greene has a chance, but his record at any level above AA ball is pretty weak. Brendan Ryan is an exciting prospect, but he butts heads with LaRussa a bit. It could be argued that he was given his shot last year and came up short (.244 BA, .307 OBP), but he is a scrappy, rangy player, and he may fare better as a 2B than a SS. The most interesting prospect here is CF Skip Schumaker. Skippy played IF in college ball and has been quoted as saying, "There is a reason I moved to the OF," but if he can re-grasp the skill set, he is by far the best option for the Redbirds. Schu is a legitimate lead off hitter, batting .302 last year with a .359 OBP. Not a lot of pop (8 HR), but he hit 22 doubles and stole 8 bases. He is a little weak vs. lefties, but I think if he can get his defense up to Adequate, he is the go to guy here.

  2. Starting Pitching - The major story here is the return of 2005 Cy Young winner Chris Carpenter. A lot has been said about this, so I will boil it down to the essentials. Carp rushed back from TJ surgery in 2008 and was hit with a fairly common post-surgery nerve flare up. He looked great out of the pen until the nerve flare up, and he underwent routine ulnar nerve relocation surgery this offseason. Bottom line: a healthy Chris Carpenter = a dangerous Cardinals team. Without him, they will have to get creative. Waino is a lock, as are darkhorses Kyle Lohse and Todd Wellemeyer. Joel Piniero has the 5 spot currently, but rookie Kyle McClellan is hot on his heels. Piniero failed to show up for the first day of conditioning in Jupiter today, opting instead to pitch in the World Baseball Classic. Not the best move when you are trying to tenuously hold onto a #5 spot after a sub-par year.

  3. Third Base - Third base was a lock up until about two weeks ago. Troy Glaus was coming of a great 2008 into a pre-free agency year, and I was expecting big things from him. The bad news is he will be out at least a month of the regular season after undergoing shoulder surgery. The good news is that the Redbirds are stacked at 3B. First round draft pick Brett Wallace has been tearing his way through minor league pitchers and the only question mark is if his defence is up to major league snuff. If he shows any progress at all, expect to see him in Busch III this year. Brian Barden (see above) is another prospect at the Hot Corner, albeit more of a long shot. David Freese was apparently a salary dump in the move that took Jim Edmonds to the Padres, but last year in 131 AAA ABs, he hit .306 with 29 HRs and a .550 SLG. I cannot wait to see Wallace and him slug it out for a shot at the Big Show.

  4. Closer - This is probably the biggest question mark on the team right now. Izzy is gone (one could argue he has been gone since 2005). The Cards failed to sign a closer from free agency, much to the chagrin of the Cardinal Nation. So, We are left with in-house youngsters vying for the coveted ninth inning spot. Widely heralded as the closer of the future, 2006 first rounder Chris Perez is a likely favorite moving into Spring Training. He had marginal success in the position last season. Perez has cut some weight in the off season and seems very focused on winning the job. His stuff is filthy, with a hard-breaking slider and a fastball that tops out around 95 mph consistently. Chris also closed in college and is utterly unafraid to go after hitters. His only weakness, and it is a big one, is his control. He walks way too many batters for a major league closer. If he can calm it down and really lock into the strike zone, Perez will be a major asset to the club. His main competition is rookie Jason Motte, a converted catcher who has been lighting up minor league batters. He posted a 2.90 era last year with an even more impressive 1.27 WHIP. He is awfully green, but if he is even close to those numbers this Spring, he will give Perez a run for his money. Last but not least is veteran Ryan Franklin. Franklin had the second largest number of saves last year, and is generally well liked in the system. However, his ERA as a closer is a unacceptable (4.15 and 6.49 in June and July), and the Front Office seems to think he is better suited for a set-up role in the eighth. Regardless of how much he dislikes the idea, it looks like LaRussa is handcuffed to letting the youngsters take over the final inning. Let's hope they are ready.

  5. Outfield - What a great problem to have. There is a serious logjam in the OF, with a couple of great bats and a couple of really exciting youngsters. Colby Rasmus has spent the last couple years as the "Future of the Franchise". He is a 22 year old 5 tool player that was top of his 2005 Draft class. He has been eagerly anticipated by the Cardinal faithful, and barring any major setback will be the starting CF for the '09 Birds. This will move Ricky Ankiel into RF. Ankiel is one of the most dangerous OFs in the league, not because of his fielding ability, but rather his cannon of an arm. I still watch this clip on days when I need a quick pick me up. He had some health troubles last year, and he strikes out a lot, but for a converted pitcher, he is one hell of an OF. Ricky only looks to improve as his career goes on, and he is a much more natural fit to RF. Ryan Ludwick rounds out the likely starters in LF. Ludstick had a career year providing legitimate protection for Albert Pujols last year and took a trip to the All-Star Game for his efforts. Maybe he repeats, maybe he doesn't. Either way, the four spot in the lineup undoubtedly belongs to this journeyman OF. The rest of the field vying for a starting role includes a rehabbed Chris Duncan (major slugging potential, but a liability both health-wise and in the field), Skip Schumaker (hopefully our everyday 2B), and sophomore Joe Mather (.261, 8 HRs, and 18 RBI in 133 ABs in 2008).

So, it is a great time to be a fan of the Birds on the Bat. Sure, there is potential for everything to come crashing down. The prospect of moving into the regular season without a solid closer or a 2B is terrifying. However, this is what baseball is all about. One guy, trying to push his individual ability to the limit to better his team. The competition is fierce. The fans are restless. There is that feeling in your gut, as stats and likelihoods fly through your head, that regardless of what the numbers say, anything can happen. Welcome back baseball. You have been missed.

P.S. I promised Blogger only material this week, but I think it will have to wait til next week. I am having trouble with my Adobe right now and con't convert the .doc files I want into .pdfs. So, Monday prepare for some good stuff!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Back on track...

So, I would like to say I have a very good excuse for not blogging on Friday. The story I would tell you would inspire you. You would laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time, and at the end of it all, your life would gain a new perspective. It wouldn't be life altering, but it would supplement you, not necessarily making you better than before, but somehow more. You would have no recourse but to understand and forgive.

The truth is, I am lazy and had a big day of playing around on Friday and decided I would duck all responsibility. This included the blog. So, to those of you who actually were looking forward to it for some strange reason, all I can say is sorry. I am a schmuck. Chances are good that you already know this.

Let's start off with a Coraline review. Simple enough. You must see this movie, and you must see it in 3-D. Henry Selick has woven a visual masterpiece around the bare bones of Neil Gaiman's slightly askew young adult novel of the same name, and the result is a genre-bending, contemporary, artistic film. Selick has cemented himself as the modern master of stop-motion animation and, more importantly, has proven once again that there is a place in present-day film for the antiquated technique. It was almost a clinic in the form, like a more accessable, mainstream Brothers Quay film. It managed to be legitimately terrifying at places while retaining the chram and adventure that marks it as a children's story. In short, the movie captured all the neccessary emotions to truthfully depict a girl growing up and discovering the world around her. While there are significant differences to Gaiman's novel, I think the fact that it encompasses this last aspect so fully, there can be no doubt that the heart of the story shines through in the film adaptation. I would love to go into more detail, but I want to leave it to you to see and discover, so no spoilers here as of yet. Maybe we can discuss specifics after it has been out a couple weeks. Suffice it to say, I will definitely see it again. Let me know if you want to go.

I may leave this as a larger topic for Friday's blog, but I want to briefly mention that the Doctor Who Series 4 finale was broadcast on BBC America last night. Wow. I am obsessed with the Doctor and was not disappointed by the end of Tennant's regular series run. He has taken the Doctor in a very Sherlock Holmesian, manic, cocky, darkly troubled direction, and (I think) will be remembered as the essential Doctor when (if) the series is finally laid to rest. This final episode once again strips the happy-go-lucky facade of the rouge time-lord away to reveal a man (Gallifreyan or otherwise) haunted by the decsions he has had to make. The Doctor is often seen as difficult to relate to (which is the reason companions like Donna or Sarah Jane Smith are so neccessary), but it is at the moments when he is rendered absolutely alone that we see the very human vulnerability in his character peek its ugly head out. We are reminded why we care for him. This last episode did that as well as I have ever seen it done. Hopefully Matt Smith is as stellar as the reports of his readings suggest. He has some big red trainers to fill.

In my own news, I have recieved a couple of last minute critiques from some very trusted people on Ranchero. In light of some of the advice given, I have decided that an additional edit is going to be neccessary before submissions can begin. I still want to have 12 submissions out by the end of this month and will thusly be dedicating a lot of time in the next week to revising and adding to the current manuscript. I remain terrified by the proccess and I can only hope to learn enough from this first time round that next time, it is a little less daunting. We shall see. Wish me luck.

I have succomb to the pressure of my geekery and picked up the Batman: Last Rites arc in preperation for the upcoming What Ever Happened to the Caped Crusader arc. Wil Wheaton has already read it, and as such both holds a place of reverence and contempt in the temple of my fanboydom. I also picked up the first volume of the Scott Pilgrim series, so all my nerdy friends can stop feeling sorry for me and welcome me with open arms back into the fold of those who know what's up.

My coffee is gone and I have a hot girl waiting to take me out to a tapas bar, so I think I will cut it off here. See you all on Friday. Leave me a comment with something good to talk about. I could use the direction.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Sometimes I struggle with Titles

Happy Monday, all. I have to say, it's going to be a busy week here in my little corner of the world. Granted, this is a relative sort of busyness. It is busy, i suppose, when you consider that six months ago, I was unemployed and would have likely spent a normal day walking around Hollywood for 5 or 6 hours, popping in and out of cafes/bars, only to be followed by a nap, and then a trip to the Valley to sit on Stephen Cross's couch for an indeterminate amount of time till I went home and prayed for an interview the next day. Rinse and Repeat. So, given that I am coming from that place, it is busy. ::armswideopenforsympathyhug::



So, let's hop to it. I am feeling link-y today, so the first thing you should check is the continuing adventures of Ms. Eve Ning over at Octopus Pie. I love this little webcomic, and there are definitely similarities between it and LFM (soon to be riding your way on the waves of the intertubes). The current story arc is brutally familiar, and today's joke is one of my top 5 all time favorite webcomic punchlines. Oh yes, there is a list. Go ahead and judge.

Speaking of webcomics, GarfieldminusGarfield is awesome today too.

I enjoyed the Super Bowl yesterday. I thought the game was well played, although the officiating was suspect for a bit. I also have to say that I was a little disappointed in the Steelers. Listen, I get it. You are paid millions of dollars to be brutal and strong. The game is physical. You get worked up. Sure, I get it. Having said that, the personal fouls and unsportsman-like conduct during the game last night were far and beyond the normal aggression inherent in the game. It showed poor quality of character. I know, I am just some schmoe sitting on a chair munching on carne asada and passing judgement, but I don't watch football to see some roided out dickhead knock a dude down and hold him there, lording over his conquest. I have seen more friendly, respectful UFC fights. More punishing, maybe, but certainly less brutal. Just an observation.

This is still the best part of the game. Possibly any game.

I have selected the 5 most prestigious literary magazines from my list and will have Ranchero out to them by Friday. I hope it is ready to be seen, but I think the most important thing I can do right now is just keep moving forward. Not to manifest negative energy or whatever, but I am very realistic in my expectations from this first encounter. How cool would it be to get a really competitive paying mag on my first cast though? We can dream.

Coraline comes out Friday. Or Thursday at midnight, if you are as obsessed as I am. I am begging everyone I know to go out on the first day to see it. If my plea is not enough, perhaps these words from the author will sway your hearts.

My buddy Brandon is writing a sports blog, and is applying to work for mlb.com. Hit up his page and check it out. Even if you don't like sports, he is a good writer and every little hit helps (buh-dum-bum).

Finally, I promised a surprise. I was thinking about posting a snippet of the short story or maybe a poem or somesuch. Then, I started working on Looking For More again a little, and I got myself reinspired. In case you don't know, Looking For More (LFM) is a webcomic that I am writing with my friend and longtime collaborator Darrell Claunch. Darrell is a really brilliant artist. He is very versatile and works in a lot of different media. You can see some of his film work here. He is an artist for an very clever independent video game house called Black Lantern Studios. I realize that I am probably more than a little biased, but I think he is really hitting his artistic stride as a cartoonist. So, he is drawing our little comic. I will talk about it quite a bit on here as the weeks go by, and hopefully the launch will happen sometime in Spring.But, as a little treat for ya'll, and as a little catalyst for me, I figured I would post a couple early character designs. So, without further ado, meet some of our friends from LFM.

This is a profile of Kirk, our intrepid hero. He has since changed a bit (a little longer in the face.), but this is definitely a good idea of his look.

This is a very rough frontal from earlier in the conception phase, but you get a great look at his remarkably marketable pong shirt...

This is his buddy Neal. Neal is equal parts Jack Black and Matthew McConaughey (with a dash of Stephen Cross thrown in, if you know him). His blond faux-hawk, though still a work in progress, may be the most beautiful thing ever beheld by the human eye.

There is a lot more where those came from, and more yet to come, but I don't want to give away the farm here, so that should do for a taste. Stay tuned for updates and maybe more little blog exclusive give-aways. Even more importantly, tell everyone you know about this great little comic you heard about and help build readership. so I can get money. And buy you coffee. Cause I will. Desperate? Yes. Pathetic? Yes. Pointless, as the website isn't even functional yet? Yes.

I think that about covers it for today. See you on Friday.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Blog #2, in which we discover uncomfortable things about ourselves and link some junk.

So, I am turning into one of those people. I will try to keep the self referential "what have I become" posts to a minimum here, but I cannot escape the fact that I am sitting in a Hollywood coffee shop, next to a guy carrying around a stand-up bass and a skateboard, a 50 year old woman with a yoga mat and a yogurt cup, and copiously tattooed barristas who could not try harder to remind you that they DO NOT like boys. I am sitting with this tragically chic ensemble, and I am blogging. The film of self loathing will eventually wear off, but one wonders if that is a good thing...

I could not be happier that I see Coraline stuff everywhere. I am a bit nervous, as Stardust ads also dominated the cityscape when it was coming out. The difference here, I think, is that the Coraline ads actually seem to represent the story very well, whereas if you went solely off the Stardust billboards, you probably were expecting a story about a girl, a witch, and a Robert DeNiro in some sort of sky-drama that unfolded to reveal a young, dashing hero coming in to save the day. Which, you know, may have been an interesting story but had very little to do with either the book or the movie. It was almost its own permutation, this odd little movie in posters and 30 second clips. At any rate, they are doing a much better job with Coraline. Here's a great trailer, and another fun little thingummy to whet the appetite, should you not be excited enough.

I have set next week as my first submission week. I will be taking the first short story, Ranchero, and packing into little envelopes with little cover letters and sending it off to various publications, hoping that they will in turn ask to pay me to be the only people allowed to show it off. Chances are slim on this first run, and I am terrified. I am currently reading everything I can about how to get things published and how to navigate that world. I have no idea what I am doing and can only hope that it isn't nearly as complicated as I am making it out to be. I have, by accident, become one of those people who is trying to do something completely outside the realm of their expertise. I equate it to people who decide they want to become actors without going through any of the proper channels of learning technique, business sense, or skill building exercises. I am ignorant in this new world and, as such, feel like I should educate myself as quickly and thoroughly as possible. So, if you know of a good "Idiot's Guide to Creative Writing and Being a Legitimate Contributor to the World of Literature" book, let me know about it. I can't afford go back to school yet, so self education will have to suffice. A workshop would possibly do, but I think one needs to build a little body of work before they allow admission into one of those. At any rate, fun times. Scary. Let me know if you would like to read it. I am always looking for criticism.

I have also decided to keep most of my personal life stuff out of the blog. This is not because I am uncomfortable sharing, nor is it for fear of saying something that will later be referenced in the most inopportune moment to say , "Ha! See? This was said here and so you are now beholden to your idiotic admission." (Although the latter is a bone-chilling thought). I think the truth of it is, some of you reading the blog know what is going on anyway, which would then be redundant and boring, and some of you may be involved with said personal life stuff, and reading about yourself on a blog can be cruel and impersonal. Blech. No, not somewhere I wish to tread. So, unless there are major developments, don't expect to see a lot of that stuff.

So then, goals for next week:

Finally, FINALLY finish the business plan for LFM and get back to being excited about it.

Continue to blog Mon. and Fri., despite overwhelming urge to feel ridiculous about it.

Send out 5 submissions to Short Story publications.

Sleep like a regular person.

More on that last bit later, I think. I have rambled on here enough for one day. Maybe I will do a little sharing next week. I have to talk to another involved party, but it may be fun to show off a bit, and it may rekindle a little fire I had going. In fact, let's go ahead and say that one way or another, there will be a surprise on Monday's blog. So, point your friends this way. Unless your friends are my friends, in which case they may already be here. Either way, it'll be nice to see you.