Sunday, December 16, 2007

Holiday Break, Day IV

Writing was absolute shit tonight.

It's the first time I've put pen to the page, or fingers to the keyboard in this case, in like three weeks. Everything is feeling truncated and abridged. I'm hoping the mere act of starting will be enough to get the ball rolling again. If this is what it's going to be like over the next month or so, than it's going to be a long long slog to the finish line. But reaching the finish line is what's important. For a first novel I can definitely do some serious editing and re-editing.

I only got about a thousand words and everything felt flat. I want to watch noir murder mysteries to get inspired, but I'm afraid that if I do than I'm going to be just rehashing what was already done.


We got hit with a nice blizzard last night. Not as bad as what you'd imagine a blizzard to be, but at least I'm going to be getting my white christmas! There are about 6-8 inches on the ground, hopefully more is on it's way this week. My dad got out and used his snow blower. I was hoping he'd let me shovel. I need the exercise.

I took my dog for a walk today, and she enjoyed the cold weather. We'd bound through the unshoveled sidewalks and she would grin and then bury her head in the drifts, bringing it up again covered in white.


I saw a cart in a parking lot on Friday that said "Do not Oogle someone else's cart."


I'm still waiting to hear if my friend can go to my cottage for the week to be all writerly. If he can't than I'll probably head back to Chicago earlier. We'll see.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Holiday Break, Day I

I'm home.

I did a little update to the blog, changed the name, added a section. Made it feel a little more homey, I think. I had pictures I was going to upload into this entry, but the plug is down on the main floor and I'm feeling far too lazy to go and get it.

It's been a while since I've done a real entry, so this is gonna be one of those rambling posts that go all over the place. The others won't be as bad. Here we go.


I've kinda stalled out on The Long Goodnight. It was going really good for the past few months, and I went blitzing through the 20,000 word mark and just hit a wall. I'm still hoping to finish it by January 1st, but I'm being realistic enough to say that getting 60-80,000 words in 2.5 weeks is a little ridiculous and intense. That's not to say I'm not going to try.

In terms of story it is still barreling forward and I'm still wholly invested in what it's trying to do. The reason that it came up flat is that I've been buried in a swamp of school and grad school application work. And I bought Mass Effect for my Xbox 360. Dumb move. Avoid at all costs. It will swallow your soul.


The semester is over.

I took the GRE a week ago and it was exhausting, but I'm glad that it came out alright. Now I've got to finish the rest of the application process and cross my fingers. The thing that made it interesting is that all the math is made to be complicated but also really easy to solve in a totally out of the box manner. This balances the engineering majors taking it with the English majors. They suggest six months of studying to fully prepare. I crammed a twelve hour session the day before and did alright.

This semester has been all sorts of grueling, for really no reason whatsoever. People I've talked to agree completely with me. The weight of it all. Just the mindset. People are tired, and now it is break. I've got one more semester left and I'm counting the days.


I'm home, but for the first time I'm not sure it's where I want to be.

Things are changing. In Chicago I'm finally getting a small group of friends that I actually want to hang out with, and who I (in the month I've known them) hung out with from time to time. It's making city more than bearable and actually somewhat desirable. I don't know quite how to comprehend my feelings on that. I was so determined to be done and be gone and never return to that city, but if I have friends there it's not so bad. And suddenly I'm kicking myself (only somewhat) for living like a hermit for so long. I had no excuse (that made sense), and now I'm kind of paying the price. We'll see what next semester holds.

I started writing music again. When my muse shut up for a while life became really strenuous. I mean there is only so many times you can leave prayers and burnt offerings to that wonderful person living in the basement of your brain before you start to wonder if they ever plan on unlocking the door and chatting with you again. It's not a lot of song. Only a repetitive chorus and a verse. I really like it though. My friend Ryan has been rubbing off on my writing style a bit. I can feel myself reaching for hooks and trying to find something more poppy. Doing that has always come very tough to me. I can point out good ones in other songs but I am terrible about doing it myself.


I want a cat.


here are those lyrics:

If I let you through this door
than you'll be wanting more and more
but all that's left is me
my old house you blew away
and I thought that would sate your hunger
no, what will it be?

come and knock knock on my door
what are you waiting for

I promise that I'll actually finish that song.

To bed I go. Tomorrow there will be pictures and stories with less ambiguous rambling.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Another damn idea

So I need some input. I'm starting to do some early preliminary research for a novel idea I'm mulling over. It involves a record company, and I need to find a name for that record company.

So far brainstorms include:

Duophone Records
Polyphone Records

more to come. Leave your ideas

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Needed Update

I swear to god a good update is coming soon. I just finished the last of my homework and I'm about to go home for break. So instead I leave you with the lyrics of a song I wrote a while ago.

"Hollow Holiday"

Woke up early
turned the lights on the christmas tree
checked the box once more
for a letter sent to me
family's here
but I feel alone
that's my bed
but i'm not home
like an unsigned card
so full of cheer

take out your pocket calendar
is this the right time now to fall
i've spent my best years waiting
for your call
pencil me in
do it in pen
that way i won't be
forgotten again
all these words
all the wrong ways
leave me with hollow holidays

it's my time
if i leave now i'll get away
i'll be fine
i just can't bear
another holiday
without all the cheer
the wounds that bring us here
and i will be there for you

take out your pocket calendar
is this the right time now to fall
i've spent my best years waiting
for your call
pencil me in
do it in pen
that way i won't be
forgotten again
all these words
all the wrong ways
leave me with hollow holidays

the car won't start again
the weather's creeping in
what will it take to get away
i know it's not fair
but i'll try to care
and i'll be back another day

take out your pocket calendar
is this the right time now to fall
i've spent my best years waiting
for your call
pencil me in
do it in pen
that way i won't be
forgotten again
all these words
all the wrong ways
leave me with hollow holidays

Friday, November 23, 2007

Laws to Live By

I'm going to take a little break from "typical" blogging and do one that gathers together all these awesome "Laws" I've discovered on wikipedia (the hitchhikers guide to humanity). These made me giggle, and I hope they will make YOU giggle too.

Hanlon's Razor

  • Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.
Godwin's Law:
  • As online discussions grow longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.
The Three Laws of Infernal Dynamics:
  1. An object in motion will be moving in the wrong direction.
  2. An object at rest will be in the wrong place.
  3. The energy required to move an object in the correct direction, or put it in the right place, will be more than you wish to expend but not so much as to make the task impossible.
Clark's Law:
  • Sufficiently advanced cluelessness (or incompetence) is indistinguishable from malice.
Murphy's Law:
Hutber's Law:
  • Improvement means deterioration.
Segal's Law:
  • A man with a watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never sure.
The Peter Principle:
  • In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.
Sturgeon's Law:
  1. Nothing is always absolutely so.
  2. Ninety percent of everything is crud.
Hurst's Law:
  • Complexity can neither be created or destroyed; it can only be displaced.
Parkinson's Law:
  • Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.
The Principle of Evil Marksmanship (or the Stormtrooper Syndrome):
  • The bad guys are always lousy shots in the movies.
Anywhoo, I was feeling random this morning and figured everyone can use a good laugh. Wikipedia is so full of absurdity. A real entry to come.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Because One Idea Is Never Enough


He pushes it open with his left hand. Its squeak is so familiar now. In his right is the empty cradle. He wears a blue jacket that is only half zipped up. In the driveway snow, lingering far past its time, stains the gravel a dark gray. He squeezes close against the black wrought iron railing bordering the small landing they call a porch. Water drips from the corner of the awning. Dark patches of rust show in the corners amidst the threads of spiderweb.

His wife, now with flat belly, moves past him in silence. The maternity shirt she wore to the hospital billows empty before her. She carries a cradle hung on one arm like a shopping basket. The baby inside moves his limbs in short spasms, looking around with wide, gray eyes.


This is the first in an idea I've been dancing around for about a year now.

The book is potentially going to be called "A Thousand Little Things." It'll be made up of viginettes, some a whole chapter's length, some only that of a sentence. Each based around its own individual object. The book will be divided into sections or "rooms" with each of the objects and their viginettes pertaining to that room all building a house. They won't be organized chronologically, but by some manner that seems to make sense once it is done.

The idea comes from this buddhist expression I heard a while ago about "Ten Thousand Things". The idea has to do with the interconnectivity of everything. The book itself is aimed at expressing the beauty in the simplicity of life, and the way things exist not at the forefront, but are still integral.

This is going to be an ongoing one because scenes just are hard to write..

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ramble On...

No blacking out today.

As interesting and amusing and bizarre as that was, it left me with a really haunted after taste. The sense that my body rebelled against me. It's sort of humbling.

Today was my eight-hour shift at the library. Long shifts like that are nice because you tend to just settle in and understand that this is your whole day. It makes me start to pine for the whole not being a student thing. Being able to have that library job where I can help people all day, and then have the evenings to myself to write, or just hang out. It's kinda depressing to think that two years ago I would be saying the opposite, swearing that I could never have a nine-to-five desk job. And here I am now pining for it. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

I am coming home for Thanksgiving in a little under a week. I can't wait. It seems that life has been reduced to writing, class, work, riding the train, and counting the days between when I can disappear from Chicago. I have 180 days and 20 hours until my last class is over, unless of course I drop my last class, which means I will only have 180 Days and 16 hours. It's really tempting. The GRE is coming in 18 days and I haven't even cracked a book. This should have me far more worried than I am. Especially the math. *shudder*....

Thank god for audio books. I do 4 hours of "lost missing," which involves going shelf by shelf through the library with a list looking for books that are on the list and are on the shelf, so they can be removed from the list for the next time I go through the library shelf by shelf with the list. I get to listen to large portions of audio books because Lost Missing is a very mindless job, which only requires one out of ever 4 seconds of actual attention. The other three I can listen to audio books, and get twice as much reading done as I normally would. I'm listening to Stephen King's "The Shining" right now.

I shocked my tutor when I told her that I started a book a month ago, and I was planning on tearing a first draft out by New Years. She looked at me like I was ambitious, and maybe a little stupid. Raised eyebrows, briefly slack-jawed "o face." After reading King's "On Writing" I realized that he was right, that what I was doing wrong was letting projects take too long. A book should only take a few months to hammer out a first draft. Any longer and I've spent too much time thinking on. Here's my process theory in a nutshell. First Draft: Get it out. Second Draft: Fill in the weak spots. Third Draft: Now I have a large block. Now I have to chip away at the block, cleaning off the fat and excess.

I'll be back to finish this soon...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Blacking out the Fiction

I came within moments of passing out today in my Oral Expression Class.

Today was the ever dreaded "speech day." The goal for this one was to get experience in giving an "informational speech" to the class lasting five to seven minutes. We are always instructed to pick a topic that is near and dear to our hearts. I decided to do mine on the rank of Eagle Scout, and the trappings involved in obtaining that honor.

I woke up this morning feeling very rested after a night of heavy homeworking. I showered, dressed, poured over my speech one last time, and then boarded the train to school. No problems. I got a quick bite to eat at Panera, and a cup of coffee hoping to settle my nerves. Then I went to class.

When I got up to give the speech I was, as I always am, nervous, with a tremor in my hand which I swear you could see from the moon, but no one ever claims to see. Heart racing from the adrenaline of nerves, and a bit of caffeine in my system. The first line, a quote from Gerald Ford concerning his Eagle, I felt was great.

Then a few moments in it starts to hit. This sudden sense of a large burden, or maybe more of a dropping sensation. My extremities go numb, though I mostly notice it in my fingers and hands. It's like all the blood suddenly evacuated my limbs in an emergency retreat to bolster around my heart or something. I forget a line or two. Keeping thoughts in order becomes hard, and anything witty has long since been tossed out the window. Then starts the blacking out.

It begins as an inaudible squeal coming from just inside your ears. It feels like someone is ramming chopsticks through your eardrum into your brain. A gathering pressure between the eyebrows that makes my head feel like a massive zit that would just feel better if I could pop it and release some of the pressure. A squeezing sensation in both my temples. Then on the edges of my vision this blackness appears. You don't realize it until later. It creeps in. Insidious. You start blinking a lot, thinking that maybe it's just your eyes playing tricks on you. Vision starts to go blurry. All the while the blackness is creeping forward. The pressure is building. Your thoughts are becoming nearly impossible to push out, but the one thought that rings true is just to barrel on dammit, barrel on. I remember thinking that I've heard of this happening to other kids, with nerves, but I don't have those kind of nerves. I was buffallo bill for god's sake.

And then the teacher appeared at my back. I don't remember seeing her get out of her chair, or cross the room, or the surprised look of the students that I now notice. I can't help but think, "oh boy, now I'm forever reduced to 'that kid who almost passed out in speech class.'" She led me to my seat and then somebody, a guardian angel sets a bottle of water before me. I think she asked if I was ok, but my only thought is still "I have to finish my speech, I can't take this bad grade."

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Am I Pretentious?

I've been reading a ton lately.

I finished the Dark Tower series, the new Dinotopia, the Book of Joby, On Writing, and a drove of comics since September. Being immersed in stories this often has had a huge benefit on my writing. I'm starting to get to the point where I can analyze how books are written without it getting in the way of the story, which is something they've been trying to teach me at Columbia.

Two days ago I started reading Jack Kerouac's book "On The Road." And this morning I put it down. It's the first book I've put down in a while (that's not school related). It makes me feel pretentious to look at what is hailed as a Great American Novel, and by many THE Great American Novel, and just go "meh, it's nothing special." The writing seems amateurish, the story nothing to grab. He does everything that we've been taught against. There are very few actual scenes. He tells us things happen instead of letting the story show it. This means that instead of Character saying, "blah blah blah," we get: and the character told me that "blah blah blah." Maybe I am just pretentious bastard. He even uses the completely unnecessary tag at the end of a story telling us that "it was funny." If it was funny, then you wouldn't have to tell us...

So instead of finishing it (I'll get back to it eventually, I think) I put it down and picked up a "comfort read" in the form of one of my favorite series, the Warlord Chronicles by Bernard Cornwell. This series tells a historically rendered tale of the Arthurian legend. These are some of my favorite books. Check em out.

Stay strong WGA!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

This is awesome.

fairy tale love does happen, and whoever disagrees can kiss my ass.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

WGA Strike

The Writers Guild has gone on strike!

As a writing student and hopefully future writer for TV and/or movies (among other things) I am totally in support of the actions undertaken by the WGA.

More information can be found at these websites. Please give them your support.

this will give a basic overview of why they are striking:

constant updates here:

sign the petition to show support here:

for facebooker's show support here:

how else can you help?

If you're near a picket, bring em food, or drinks, or shouting support, or anything you can think of!

With contract talks between the SAG (Screen Actors Guild) and the AMPTP (Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers) and the DGA (Directors Guild of America) and the AMPTP looming things are going to get tight. The DGA and SAG faces the same problems that the WGA is facing, and all three unions (DGA SAG and WGA) are showing a likelihood of solidarity agains the AMPTP concerning DVD costs and New Media outlets. We're talking a potential cessation of anything in Hollywood. That means no new TV Shows, no new Movies (if it gets REALLY serious). But even worse it means all those people unemployed and not getting the income needed to take care of their family. Because that is what it's all about.

Show support! Support the WGA

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

194 days (and I'm not counting)

I'm here!

Still plugging away at The Long Goodnight (broke 17,000 words).

I've found it particularly challenging doing research for the ridiculous concept of Goodnight. Every time I google "what if the sun went out" I find unhelpful pages talking about super novas, radiation, and everyone saying that "the sun can't just go out." The closest to interesting fact I can glean is that humanity would only have a few weeks (far shorter than the original three months I had figured (which makes me wonder which website I found the three month fact on)). I've yet to hit that turning point in the story, but it's coming soon.


I'm currently reading The Book of Joby, which is something that everyone should go and do if they get a chance. It's a whopper of a book, and will require some serious attention in order to get through, but if the conclusion is as good as the first 2/3s than you're in for a treat. A better review of that is on the way.


I've registered for the last of my classes at Columbia College. It's an odd sensation. Part of me is so ready to graduate that I am floundering in senioritis. The other part of me still is set in disbelief.

On that same note I've started chipping away at the application process for UW:Madison, and UMich. The process is very slow going, and I get the feeling that it is going to continue to feel daunting until one day I'm going to sit down to work on it and realize that "oh my goodness! I'm done!" Then I'm not going to know what to do with my time. Maybe I'll finish The Long Goodnight.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Larry The Mouth Of God

Every time I open my writing notebook to start something else, or to flip through the pages and see what I was thinking I always happen upon this one page that is completely blank except for a line written at the top which reads "Larry the mouth of God." I've spent months pondering over when I wrote it, or even what I was thinking. I can't remember when, but I think I figured out what I was thinking.

Today while at the Reference desk I was working with one of the full time librarians, Larry, who is a man so bizarre and hilarious that no description I give here will ever quite do him justice. He's a larger guy (from years of drinking), he has a big beard and is completely gray, and a laugh that comes easy. He could drink any two guys under the table, his main hobbies are incense making, conspiracy theories, and trying to weird me out. Over the last month he's taken it on himself to fill me with life lessons, including his 45 minute rule (involving stepping out of the house for 45 minutes in order to allow angry female to cool off). He's convinced that one day I'm going to end up as bizarre as he. He always has a slew of the most off the wall questions to bounce off me. Today's question involved a theory that the world is over populated with humans (obvious) and that the carrying capacity is really like 500,000,000 at most. So, he posed the question "If you had to pick the 5 billion to kill, who would you pick?"

Then it dawned on me while I was walking to the Red Line to come home that it was that Larry I was thinking of when that line mysteriously jumped from my brain to the page. The idea came back in full force. Here is a guy who is a couch potato. A weird solitary dude who sits at home and drinks profuse amounts of beer, and what he spouts is absolute truths, but no one believes him. Larry the mouth of god


I broke the 15,000 word mark yesterday on "The Long Goodnight" and the story is starting to seem a little more fully realized. I'd realized I've been going backwards with most mysteries, trying to know the exact mystery and then plug a story in around it. This time I've not done any thinking and I'm letting the characters drive the story, and the responses. It's been interesting.

A Slavic diner owner (hmm another diner), named Bogdan, has become quite an interesting and bossy character, and he is immense fun to write. This is what being an author is all about. When it feels like dictation you're putting on page, and the creating is just natural.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Still catching up


Yes, I'm still here (for the few readers who actually bother to check this thing anymore).

I'm now twelve days into "The Long Goodnight" and chugging along at a fairly decent pace. Last night I broke the 12,000 word count, and I'm dreaming of hitting the 15,000 mark tonight, and the 20,000 tomorrow. The book is written with very tight chapters, so I'm currently working on chapter 13, and all is going well.

I was really hoping to be able to do NaNoWriMo this year, but in order to work through Goodnight I'm going to have to pass it up... Oh well.

I went home last weekend because my brain was going into overload with my bedroom. It was far too packed with far too much stuff. So I rode the train home Thursday, got the car and drove back to Chicago Friday, picked up a bunch of crap I didn't need, and drove home Friday afternoon. Since then things have been on the up and up. My room appears a lot larger, and writing has been coming a lot easier.

Well, back to the drawing board for today, we'll see how much I can get done.

Monday, October 15, 2007

No excuses...

I have no excuse to not be updating this thing (unless of course my roommate is the only one reading it).

Actually I lie.

I have one excuse.

I've started riffing on another idea that I'm sure to take towards completion... (i keep saying that, but this one is fresh)

It's a hard boiled detective story set during the 1930s with one premise. In the summer of 1937 the sun ceases to generate heat or light. I'd read an article somewhere that explained that if this were to happen (barring the whole lack of gravity thing), humanity would have 3 months, four at the outside to live before things just got too damn cold.

Right now the book is looking like it is going to be one man's obsession with solving one last case while the world around him goes to hell in a handbasket. The story is currently dancing around the name of "The Long Goodnight." I'm 5 chapters in (short short chapters, mind you).

Other than that I've been doing the hermity thing, living in my apartment and not doing much...

So that's my excuse for not blogging, expect it to change.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

A quick relief

Gee wiz!

I realized (when I looked at this) that I fell off the face of the earth for a couple weeks here...

Sorry about that.

A real entry will be coming, probably this evening once I get near a computer. Until then a little "how you doing..."

I'm starting to price out the cost of taking a spring break in LA again this coming year. I'm looking into hopefully taking a train out, and getting to see a bit of the countryside. If anyone reading this knows of promotional codes I can get to save me cash, or other methods, let me know!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Everything is just so damn 19

In a startling turn of events God responds...

Seeing articles like this makes me want to stop writing fiction.

Real life is just so much more bizarre.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Science not-so-Fiction??

I promise you, I am still here!

I'm still getting settled in to my groove of homework and work and life in general. Loans came in yesterday, so food is no longer a problem.

A real post is sure to follow, but until then, check out this article.;_ylt=Ag0lSEIaYCyPXPRlC0lBoNus0NUE

bubbling liquid? Mysterious Illness? end of the planet maybe?

and in other bizarre news:

I'd like to see the cops carry out this subpoena...

That's the senator. Is the halo of the fan on purpose?

Yes this is our crazy world. Slowly spiraling away from what we all thought is believable.
And they are mourning the loss of the Weekly World News...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Feeling checked out, or unshelved

Over the past week since I’ve been back at school, working the reference desk has felt more like a public library, and not the collegiate library that it is. We've been swamped with questions. The majority of which have involved things like "where's the bathroom?" "can I check out books here?" and "why is this (piece of technology) not working the way it is supposed to?"

The answer to the first is "around the corner." The second is "no." And the third is "Not a clue."

From time to time we get more interesting questions, but not usually.

It's endearing to be living this hectic again at work. It makes me miss all the absurdity and hijinx that comes with working my old job.

Problem with collegiate library is the cute girls. (I know. How chauvenistic can I be? Joy of being single). It tends to make me look uneducated, though, when they come up to ask a question (see one of the previous three) and I look at them, smile, and forget my name. And then I realize that no matter how I try, library science is not a good method for picking up women...

Which of course leads me to the next conclusion that "I'm way to busy to pick up women."

I'm working on a sort of essay rant about working at libraries, which examines the different type of people who work at libraries, Reference, Circulation, Acquisitions, etc. It's gonna be funny (at least I think so (but then again I get the sneaking suspicion that no one finds me as funny as I do)). I'll post a bit of that when I get it together.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

School Week 2

I'm starting to wonder if scheduling an 8am shift at the library was such a good idea. In order to make it here on time I've got to leave my apartment (in Roger's Park, on the northern edge of the city) no later than 7am. Really, in order to have time to stop at Dunkin Donuts (which is just around the corner) to fuel up, I have to leave at about 6:45. For me that means waking up at 6 just barely gives me enough time to fly through a shower, shave, pack the bag, finish any last minute homework, and hop on a train. Then I sit for an hour.

We're starting to scout out locations for the diner. On Sunday Mike, Andrew (his director of photography) and I went to this diner near the White Sox's Cominskey Park. It was the closest thing I've seen to the diner I have imagined. Has the counter, and the kitchen divided by a high bar. The corner enterance was perfect, and the exterior (while not the single story trailer I had in mind) was gorgeous. The inside was not quite it. Too much wood, too many soft tones of browns and pinks. The diner both Mike and I imagine is far more sterile. Gritty. Colder bluer tones. And a little smaller. It has to look as though it could be run by only two guys, a waiter and a cook.

The diner, which appears in many forms, in many of my stories, is fairly similar to the highway one that Edmund stops at. And, here's the creepy part, the waitress we had was the exact waitress I had imagined in my mind at the diner along the highway. It was very creepy.

My friend/mentor, Mort Castle, just got an editors position over at Doorways Magazine, a horror and fantasy journal. They have a winter issue coming out, and are accepting submissions. I'm working on preparing a horror piece based around this constantly perplexing (and very Eastern European pagan) tidbit on a lesser known helper of Santa Claus.

The Krampus is a demonic like helper who comes along with Santa Claus to take care of the kids on the naughty list. According to Austrian tradition, instead of coal, the naughty kids get whipped and even carried away. Krampuses (plural) are depicted as the iconic devil, or sometimes shaggy. I'm going to do a slight take on it, mixing with another of Santa's less jovial helpers, Knecht Ruprecht, or Black Peter. It just seems so perfect for this horrific but very applicable take on the Santa Claus legend.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Fresh Idea...

Had an idea strike me the other day while I was listening to The Ultra Lounge Christmas collection, and trying to explain to a friend the truth about LA. First the truth, and then the idea.

The truth about LA is that it's not a city. Well... It is a city, but not in the same sense that Chicago is a city, and definitely not in the same sense that New York is a city. This got brought up when I was explaining my choices in grad schools (UCLA, UW:Madison, and UofM). It is a well known fact, to those who know it well (10 points to the person who gets this reference), that I am very interested in not living in a city after I finish my bachelors at Columbia. So when talking about my choices for grad school people always cock an eyebrow to hear that I am interested in UCLA.

"Dude, Los Angeles? I thought you wanted to get out of the city," they'll say. And I'll nod and agree. To which they say, "Los Angeles is a city."

To which, I then reply, "kind of."

You see, Los Angeles is in fact only a small city (this always gets interesting looks). LA is in all actuality a sprawling suburb. The suburb. Suburbia. And it is a well known fact, to those who know it well, that I have a special place in my heart for suburbia.

So that is the truth about LA.

Now the idea.

The word suburbia was bouncing fervently around my cranium. And me, being a fan of fantasy, and mythology looked at that name and said to my self, "gee, Suburbia sure sounds like it could be the name of a fantasy world." So there you have it folks. Brand new idea.

The land of the Midwest. divided into 3 areas. Urbana (not like Illinois). Suburbia. Rural (the frontier). More to come

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Beginning Of The End (somewhat..)

Holy cow!

The end of summer break got away from me! I get semi-busy (or just too lazy to log on and post) and then I turn around and here I am already through week one of school! Crazy!!

The rest of the roadtrip was excellent!

We made it up to Wisconsin, went water skiing and minigolfing. We went to dinner at the Olive Garden and watched the Departed. Then we went to Madison for a day, and then the Dave Concerts. For the whole previous week it had been raining torrential downpours on Wisconsin and other portions of the midwest (finally making up for that drought we'd been hit with earlier in the year). The Friday before the concert Alpine played host to a Rage Against The Machine and Queens of the Stoneage concert. Rage Fans+Torrential Downpour+Outdoor venue... You do the math. Suffice it to say that things were muddy... But no worries. James and I managed to stay high and dry.

That sunday at 12am after the concert I had to make a mad cross-country dash from East Troy, Wisconsin all the way back to Haslett, Michigan, in order to get James to class on time. As planned I rolled into home at 7AM on the dot. There was only one brief incident behind the wheel of the car when I woke up as we were plunging off the road into a ditch. I managed to save us, caffinate heavily, and continue onward. (which reminds me that I need to pay a toll that I still owe...)

Now I'm back in Chicago, beginning my last year at Columbia College (YAY ME!). This, in and of itself, proposes a whole new series of problems and questions which I am starting to answer. Namely that of Grad School. Where am I going to go? I'm down to three major choices. UCLA, UW Madison, and UofM. I don't want to elaborate right now on this (seeing as I need to do some more research and soul searching) but the idea is there. Any and all opinions are welcome.

In terms of writing (the major focus of this blog (supposedly)) I'm starting to make some serious headway in the rider's story. I sat down the other day and worked the kinks out of the story (sort of). While I am refusing to tie down any major plot line (instead let it find its own way) I have figured out some major vibe directions that I want it to go to. While at home I debated and chatted with my writerly friend, Duke, the story, and some vague long term goals. He convinced me that I should look into doing it as a trilogy, and, in order to drive the pace of the book, I should figure out the vibe of the book, the mood, and some major storytelling techniques that will be employed. That will allow me the freedom to have the story be its own exciting self, while allowing it to actually have some semblence of direction. So yesterday I sat down with pen in hand and hammered out the major mood direction for each book of the trilogy (thinking trilogy now, debating maybe longer if necessary). Things came together. Now I just have to write the damn things...

Anywhoo I'm back on the reference desk at the library, and I need to look productive

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Summer Break, Day Forty

This is really bad. When I was filling in the title I almost wrote fourty... And i'm paying a boatload to learn how to write...

Day one of the roadtrip is coming to a close. We're in Chicago at my apartment.

Today we went into the city. Ate lunch at the Elevens City Diner, my favorite restaurant in the city. Then we wandered around the city to give James a flavor of my life without the class and work.

He told me about this great tea place in the Water Tower Place called Teavana.

Back when Beaners was still a decent coffee place, before they became this evil corporation, they had a tea called Temple Of Heaven Gunpowder. Or just gunpowder for short. This was the best tea I'd ever had. It tasted great alone, and even better when smoking a pipe with Campbell's 50th Anniversary blend. Then they changed brands, and I was out of luck... Until today. Teavana had Gunpowder, which I bought four ounces of. Yay!

This evening we went for a run. It was cut short by James's need to do some business in the gentlemen's room.

Tomorrow we are going up to Evanston.

It's raining outside right now. Thank god it held off until after we got home from dinner. But at the same time thank god it's raining. It's so bloody humid right now.

Enjoy the pictures.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Summer Break, Day Thirty-Nine

It's the end of summer.

I'm hitting the phase that strikes the last three weeks of every summer. I call it (uncreatively) the "end of summer slump." It's the weird mid-phase where the idea of summer ending and work restarting is still far enough off to be something desirable, and the amount of time spent just sitting, not actually doing anything, but just sitting, has lost its novelty and you want nothing more than to just work, lose yourself in it, and watch the time pass like a rushing stream beneath you. It always happens about three weeks before the end of summer. Usually right after the end of my family vacation. I've spent a week doing nothing in a place that means everything to me, and I come home feeling more exhausted, but my level of activity is still higher than it was at home. I get home, and I sit. Friends are working, some are starting school early, and I just sit. It doesn't matter how many months have preceded the summer. Take this summer for instance. Most people have around 15 weeks to do what they please. I took summer classes and had seven. One of which was spent at the cottage. I've gotten through the first four. Three weeks till school and BAM! the summer slump hit like a ton of bricks.

The problem is that I'm still lazy enough to not do anything to remedy it. Just gripe.

Enter the solution:

My friend James and I have made it an annual tradition now to go to The Alpine Valley Music Theater to see The Dave Matthews Band for a two night concert series.

So here we are. It's Tuesday night. We made a mad 3 hour dash from Haslett Michigan to my apartment on the north side of Chicago, where we will spend the next three days just bumming around and giving him the touristy time he never gets.

We left Haslett at about 5:30, and about twenty minutes later came to the realization that I'd left my apartment keys hanging conveniently on a key hook at my parent's home in Haslett. After a series of worried phone calls I managed to plan and execute a hook up with my roommate, Matt, on the south side of Chicago, where he was going out on a date with his new girlfriend. Then we braved the gauntlet of the Dan Ryan and another 40 minutes wandering the streets trying to find a parking spot...

Only a few pictures tonight, we were too tired to remember, but tomorrow I promise there shall be more of the insanity.

School is now only two weeks away.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Summer Break, Day Thirty Four

I got a massage today. While not the first back rub I've ever gotten, it's the first "real" massage from a masseuse. Well, ok, so she's not technically a masseuse, but more a masseuse-in-training.

Noble's roommate, Corey, is an opera student who realized that she wants to be able to make a living and eat more than once a week. So she took a year off school and is in the middle of earning her masseuse certification (or whatever it is called). And for a great price she is giving massages. It's part of her certification (not the prices, but the training massages), and I was more than happy to help her.

Noble is a friend from high school who lived with me for about six months to save himself an hour commute from Alma (where his parents moved) to Haslett five days a week. He's one of the guys who I would call brother. Now he's a music major at Michigan State living in a duplex out in Lansing. We still get together from time to time to make music, play Risk/Axis and Allies, or just burn time.

The massage couldn't have been better timed. I had to take care of getting loan information figured out this morning. And nothing is more stress inducing for me than working on student loans. By the time I was in the car on my way to Lansing I was stressed to the point of snipping and cussing at every little thing.

Corey told me as I was stripping to my boxers that she has had people propose to her while on the massage table. I laughed. Then when she finally got to massaging my head and neck I damn near rushed out to buy a ring.

Take note girls: massaging my head is crack cocaine. It's kryptonite. I will melt like putty.

Then I came home and had to go right to work finishing painting my sister's old room. That's been the biggest reason that I haven't been on to update my blog. Instead of rebuilding my collages in a new room I've decided to take a little more conservative approach. I painted two of my walls, one a dark blue, one a sky blue. The other two I left white. Then I'm going to get some nice art deco prints and some cheap frames and create a more professional room. It'll be a little more welcoming for guests, which is a smart move because I'm not spending as much time in my room any more.

So tomorrow is the big day. Tomorrow I get all of my stuff out of my old room and unpack it in my new room.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Summer Break, Day Thirty One (Quick Aside)

Alex Ross Mystery Project

Yay for Ross going back to Marvel.

Boo for Marvel not having a strong enough will to keep the man dead.

Real post later.

Summer Break Day Thirty

I went to my family reunion today, and it was like watching a rerun of the Sopranos.

Here's a quick history. My dad is the middle child of thirteen, and that is just one generation back. He's apart of this epic clan from the Italian town of St Ipolito. The family name is Spagnuolo. They cover a whole ton of other families including the Carusos, and the De Lucas. My family reunion involves a few thousand people and takes over this Catholic church and the surrounding church grounds.

There are rows of picnic tables and coolers as far as the eye can see. I can't name even a tenth of the people who are there (I have trouble keeping the names of my dad's siblings straight). The patriarchs of the family sit in groups under the large oaks and maples in recliners that are old and frayed in the corners. People stream past them like they are godfathers and everyone leans in, gives them a handshake and a kiss on the cheek (very European). Half the adults are overweight, and nearly 2/3 are in Italian soccer jerseys or some piece of clothing with Adidas logos. And the kids are running around playing soccer or throwing baseballs.

That's my family reunion. I should've brought my camera and taken pictures, but I am terrible about remembering that.

This weekend was also the Great Lakes Folk Festival. I spent two days at that wandering around, listening to music and people watching.

Saturday night there was a band called Grupo Fantasma playing at the Dance Stage, and I ended up dancing with a group of friends I hadn't seen in years for almost two hours.

I'm playing golf again tomorrow with my dad (third time this year, which is beyond rare for me).

Friday, August 10, 2007

Summer Break, Day Twenty Eight Part Deux

I feel like a king stuck on the throne of the innermost sanctuary of his keep. While all around barbarian invaders are closing in. The walls rumble with their slapping feet, and the pounding of spear on shield. And I am alone. And I can feel the inevitable crawl of time, and the inevitable failure of my defenses.

It's funny, looking at the preceding post. I wasn't planning on doing a second one today, but seeing the topic of the first, and the events that ensued it seems only right.

My sister has finally claimed victory in forcing me from my bedroom.

I'm packing slowly, cleaning reluctantly, and watching as she cheerfully moves in. It was inevitable, I know, but it still sucks.

The major part was the disassembling of my walls.

Over the past six years I slowly covered my walls with random clippings, pictures, posters, bumper stickers, other stickers, and anything that I could get a ring of tape on. Soon the wall itself was masked under this amoebic explosion of me, my psyche, my soul, and my life. Intricate patterns of senior pictures, movie tickets, quarter sheets from concerts I went to or played in with my band, Anomaly. All that came down today in a solemn disassembling.

My dresser was emptied, my shelves were cleaned, and my closet gutted. All the while my sister sat greedily at the threshold, arms crossed, face a mask of cold joy. Death Cab played quietly in the background.

I've yet to be fully ousted. My pile of stuff is still in there. But the end is coming quick. The end is on the horizon and will be reached in a matter of miles.

I'm going to take the pile of pictures and miscellanea that I salvaged from my wall and create a scrapbook. It's not something I would usually do. The wall was my scrapbook. My ex used to enjoy coming over and just staring at the walls. It was like a giant "where's waldo?" Hidden pictures, surprising finds. Now that I've lost the wall I'm going to condense it into an actual book.

Alright I'm done being sentimental. Now I'm off to play FIFA 07 and enjoy some brewskies with the Duke.

Summer Break, Day Twenty Eight

I need to clean my room.

Sure it's one of those things that my parents repeat like some mantra every time I'm home. Sure it just seems like a common courtesy to do so. But it has nothing to do with the traditional reasons why cleaning my room should be important.

Like every day I've been home thus far, this morning I was cheerfully awoken by the dog at an hour far earlier than I should be. I lie on the couch covered up in a blanket minding my own business, and what does she do? Walks up. Sticks her nose in my face. And then she starts barking until I get up. And how do I stop it? Walk into the living room and sit down. Not let her out. Not feed her. Not even pay attention to her. Just climb out of bed and walk into the other room grumbling and swearing the whole way. And to think that I usually tell people that I miss my dog while I'm away at college... Right.

Stardust was phenomenal. I found a place that was actually having a midnight showing.

I know. Surprised me too.

Maybe I'm just partial to Gaiman. Maybe you can just put his name on anything, and like any of his fans I'll gobble it up with the ferocity unmatched. Either way I had a helluva time for as late as it was. Didn't nod off once (and I did at The Return Of The King, so eat that). Everyone who reads it should go and enjoy this movie as much as I did.

Other than that life has been a whole lot of quiet.

Sorry no clickies or pickies. More to come, when stuff happens

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Summer Break, Day Twenty Six

All is quiet on the western front.

I've been mostly laying low for the past few days. Sleeping occasionally. Seeing friends occasionally. On the whole it has been mostly nothing.

And then it hit me that I'm already hitting that point of summer break where everything is just a bland day-to-day nothing. It never used to happen until about High School. Now, approaching my final year of my undergrad, I've had the shortest summer yet. Seven weeks off to do whatever I want. Usually it is almost double or more and I am hitting this point after seven weeks of doing nothing. Now, three weeks in, I'm stagnating, and can't wait to get back to the daily grind. I miss the feel of productivity. The crunch time. The caffeine induced marathons of homework.

I got plugged into this unique use of new media, called lonelygirl15. I know that by the name it sounds like porn, and if you watch the first couple of video blog entries of it, it may seem that way too, but trust me, stick with it, and it's worth the payoff.

This is a terrible excuse for a blog entry. I need to start writing. I need to start finding more amusing prompts to blog about. I need school, or at least this Dave Matthews Band road trip to come quicker. I also need to get my camera out of the dashboard of my jeep and start taking actual pictures.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Summer Break, Day Twenty Three

I'm home.

I'm both exhausted and recharged. Going to Houghton Lake always has a tendency to do that to me. I go up with the intention of coming home feeling recharged and ready to take on the world. This never happens. I come home and I'm more exhausted and in need of a vacation from my vacation.

The family vacation has always been a special time that many people cannot wrap their head around. When told that I'm going to spend a week with my family most people would expect that to be followed up by groans, sly remarks about my potential suicide, or the loss of my sanity. For most people my age that would seem to be the truth. The idea of spending time with family is (for many) a necessary evil that should be dealt with quickly. For me the family vacation is a highlight of my summer.

We go to our cottage at Houghton Lake with family friends who we only see one week out of the year because they live in Wisconsin, a whole Great Lake away.

One of the centric events (and now in its second year, a tradition) is the volleyball games we play. This year it spanned three days. One match of three games each day. Best of three games takes the match, best of three matches takes bragging rights for the next year. Last year my team got skunked. And were forced to deal with the ridiculous bragging of "What it be," the slogan Keith, the dad of our Wisconsin friends, had said in a vain attempt to be "hip." Well this year "what it be" has become "what it was." We smoked them in the first two matches, going completely undefeated.

We tubed nearly every day, and went water skiing once. The first time we took the boat out with the intent of water skiing we managed to get one person around, and then when we were getting ready to run my mom we were faced with the most bizarre mechanical failure I'd ever seen. The motor on the pontoon stopped kicking water, felt like it wouldn't engage, and then after a further inspection we found that it had lost its motor. How that happened is still a mystery to us. We were forced to swim the pontoon in to shore, which proved a grueling task that was averted after a few hundred yards of swimming by a nice couple in another pontoon who towed us back to the cottage.

This year we also managed to get the jet skis out and run them around the lake. I managed to secure a series of awesome blisters and scabs on my thumbs from the handle bars.

The past few years our family vacation has been marked by mild weather, storms, and a whole lot more inside. This year we were hit with 90s and sunny every day.
I unplugged for the whole week. Sent a couple texts and made a couple phone calls and then turned my phone off. My laptop came out once on the last Friday long enough to download some of the pictures, but for the most part stayed tucked away. The lack of technology has been a wonderful time. I wrote a bit in long hand (like seven pages of quick snippets of scenes). I started a new short story I'm thinking about for the Rosebud competition that involves soldiers in Baghdad and a conversation with an Ifrit. I'm not entirely sure what to do with it, but we'll see if it manages to amount to something more than a couple pages of amusing writing. I read a whole lot, finished the 7th Harry Potter (which wasn't entirely what I expected, but was a very good and very grand conclusion to a really good series), nearly finished the 4th Dark Tower: The Wizard and Glass (probably my favorite of the series yet), and played a whole lot of crossword puzzles.

I also played the best game of golf I'd ever played. My friends and I are talking about actually going out and playing golf around here, which has me excited.

When I got home earlier today I went and spent some time with my friend, Zach, and ended up playing some pick up Ultimate Frisbee with friends at a park around the corner from my friends house.

I got my hands on a stack of new music that you all should check out.

St. Vincent - "Marry Me"
Imogen Heap - "Speak For Yourself"
A Fine Frenzy - "One Cell In The Sea"

Now that this long entry is done, I'm off to go lift weights and read and sleep because tomorrow I need to go to my aunt's house and work.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Summer Break, Day Fourteen

Last post before I disappear for ten days.

I'm going up to my cottage at Houghton Lake for a little over a week. I'll be without internet while I'm up there, but this is probably a good thing. I'll get time to really focus on writing, and relaxing, maybe get a bit of a tan.

I finished draft one of the Interlude script a few days ago and sent it to Mike, my director. We've been wooing a producer, and Mike just sent the script over to him. He picked up on the fact that there is a heavy subtext, but not quite what it was about. It makes me a little nervous if they can't pick up what it's about from the dialog. Mike assures me that the visuals (which I kept slim in the script) will reinforce the dialog. He's going to send an email illustrating the subtext to the producer. Hopefully it'll be enough to hook him.

Got all caught up with the Sinestro Corps War. Of the two big summer events (World War Hulk and Sinestro Corps War) Sinestro has been a spectacular story, and probably more memorable in the long run.

I can't think of much else. Check out Vyvienne Long's EP Birdtalk. It's been rocking my world. Her voice is so dang beautiful.

See you in a week.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Summer Break, Day Twelve

I have a problem finishing stories. And songs. And journal entries. Lots of things really. My problem is that I'll get into the story, crank on it for some time, and then I'll hit a snag. The characters have been speaking to me up to this point. And like a dog, I've been dumbly trailing along behind. Led by their leash. Watching where they go. Writing it down. Suddenly they stop talking. They stop moving. They stare out from the page and say "ok what now, Mr. Writer?" And I end up shrugging because I'm nowhere near ready to carry on with them. I've tried to avoid this with the rider. Anything he does has opened new doors. Those doors have raised questions, and I just nod and say, "what about this?" and he does the rest. I've hit a dull spot with him, and haven't added to his story in weeks now. Instead I've picked up a fresh story and I'm trying some new ideas. Getting myself bogged down further.

While being a writer is fun, sitting in front of blank pieces of paper and declaring loudly that "I know you're in there, story, so come on out!" It also helps to be able to have something to show for all my hours of play. Be able to take something tangible that's 8.5x11 and fits into an envelope with stamps. This is usually a good thing, because this is what publishers are looking for. This is what they like to then copy into magazines. For which they will send you copies of said magazine, and sometimes (hopefully) little slips of paper that can be exchanged for other little slips of paper that can then be exchanged for edibles.
With all that preamble said, I have a new idea. Another short story that is speaking really loudly to me. It's starting to look like a very likely entrant to the Rosebud Mary Shelley competition I've been hotlinking here for the past few weeks. The current working title is "Bern and the Society of Miracle Workers." While the connotations are right, and that is, more or less, what the story is about, it's not the title I want to send it in under.

It's been almost two weeks since school ended for the Summer Holiday. I've not written much more than ten pages in those two weeks. Many of my non-writing friends would choke at the mention of that many pages written for pleasure. As I writer I choke at that many pages for a wholly different reason. I'm sinking cash on this program. Or, in all actuality, I will be sinking cash on this program for the next thirty years (hopefully less if I manage to make money (see end of paragraph two)). I should start to see some return. With that said, it is time that I start writing again. I want to start actually showing product. And, dear reader, I am going to set myself a goal of 100 pages by the 31st of August. That should give me enough time to be amply productive, and amply lazy. Anyone who reads this should feel entirely comfortable harassing me via email, facebook, myspace, or any other medium of communication. Harassment is a perfect way to make me feel guilty.
I found a really interesting blog the other day. Its title is "Geoffrey Chaucer Hath A Blog," and it can be found here:

For the most part life has been on the quiet side. I've been running the past couple days. I took today off and walked the dog instead. It's a very enjoyable mode of exercise. I went and saw the new Harry Potter film (nothing to write home about, but nothing to shake a stick at either). Last week my dad won tickets to see Blues Traveler at Meadowbrook Music Festival in Rochester Hills. That was this evening. My friend Zach and his brother and I went to see them. They were good, but a little too long and repetitive by the end. At the very least it is getting me stoked for the Dave Matthews Band two night concert at Alpine Valley that my friend James and I are going to see at the end of August.
Now I'm going to write, and enjoy my pint of Monty Python's Holy Grail Ale.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Summer Break, Day Ten

I'm becoming terrible about remembering to update this. I open a new word document. Type a few lines. Wander off to use the restroom. Mix a beverage. Read a page of The Wizard and Glass. Come back. Close the document. Call all of my friends until I realize that they are all, in fact, at work, making a living, and I'm at home slacking. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. I have the attention span shorter than a gnat's life expectancy. So now I'm forcing myself to sit down and actually make a proper update.

I've not been running consistently. This week I promise that I'm actually going to get out and start doing that. Starting tomorrow morning. I promise.

I went to the new Die Hard with my Dad last night. That movie is something else, let me tell you. He takes out a chopper with a car. I mean wow. Ridiculous is a good word I think.

I've spent the last week earning a small living (or at least spending cash) from my aunt. Her mother-in-law is coming to stay with them for a holiday, and she is basically using it as an excuse to renovate the house. I, being the awesome (and only) nephew volunteered to do most of the grunt work. Stripping sanding and repainting cupboard doors, weeding gardens, painting the urine yellow entryway.

We got hit with storms this week. It was more of a tease than a balls to the wall monsoon that we occasionally get in Michigan. There was about a twenty minute blast that looked like something out of the movie, Twister. It cleared soon after and I was able to come home. When I got there I found half a tree from the neighbor's yard torn out and dumped in our lawn. So today I helped my dad hack it down to size and shred it.
I went to my friend's concert. His band, the Sidestreet Getaway, is pretty good. Rumor is they are going down to Nashville in August to record an EP. Good luck.


The new Harry Potter came out. As I am sure you're all aware. I got a cheap copy from Duke and I'm itching to sit down and read it before people ruin it for me. So I think I'll go do that.

Expect an excerpt from the novella I'm working on tomorrow.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Summer Break, Day Four

Summer is a good thing.

I just got back from a run. The first in far too long. I'm hoping to start getting out every day now. When I moved from my dorm at 2 East 8th I lost my premium running area. The lake front and museum campus were some of the best spots to go out and rack up the miles. Up north in Rogers Park it is harder to find long stretches that aren't hindered by lights. So instead I've taken to biking the lake front trail. It's a 40 mile ride that I was doing once a week before I came home. Tonight I did about 3.5-4 miles. I want to be up to 11 before school.

Got together with James and Zach on Saturday. We were once in a band called Anomaly. Most everything is gone now. Recordings hidden in boxes never to be heard again. T shirts handed out (except for the baby T's (call me if you want one)). Website long since canceled. But the message boards can be reached here. We jammed a few songs around. Started writing a new one. Are thinking about actually recording (at least I sound interested, and I bet Zach is too. You can never be to sure about James on anything anymore). Things just aren't the same as they once were, and the saying about how you can never go home again seems to be very true.

Sunday I had a 5 hour talk with my friend, Duke (see picture of goofy kid in previous post). He's been my longest lasting and closest friend and compatriot. We finally were able to catch up on all the crap in life. We went out to Crunchy's in East Lansing. This bar is very much the quintessential "college bar." It's cramped. Smokey. Full of kids who want nothing more than to get shit faced. Usually this is not the place that I would choose to do my casual drinking at. The thing that this bar has going for it is the fact that it's tap selection is RIDICULOUS. I was actually able to get my favorite beer, Bell's Special Double Cream Stout, on tap. We shared an Imperial Pint of that, and a smoke on our Campbell's 50th Anniversary Blend Pipe Tobacco.

I've taken a few days off of writing. Read some stuff to friends, talked about some ideas for stories under construction, and I'm thinking that this week I am going to start writing again. I've got stacks of ideas just brewing. As Mort would say, "I'm a writer. Do what writers do."

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Summer Break, Day One

I am home. It is good. It is very, very good.

I pulled in last night at like 4 in the morning. I had a hair cut bright and early at 10:30 that morning. So I've been trucking on like 4 hours of sleep all day.

Tom is my barber. He's been my barber since I had hair. Most people, when I phrase it that way, look at me like I'm funny. "Since you had hair? What's that supposed to mean?" Many people are born with hair. Many start showing signs of growth after a few months. A year or so, and they are ready to get their first cut. Not me. I was bald. Cue ball smooth until I was four. Tom has been my barber since I had hair. I've had no other barber. He's talking about retiring. It scares me, because that means I'm going to have to look for a barber. Or grow my hair out. Now with a cut bordering on military-worthy, I'm starting to think the latter option, the one involving much shag, is starting to sound very appealing. Until then I'll look like a nice little conservative.

Duke met me late for breakfast at Sip n Snack. For those of you who don't know the glory of Sip n Snack, let me tell you. It is as close to heaven as I think it is legally possible to be (in terms of heavenly laws or something). It's this little hole-in-the-wall diner in the neighboring town of Okemos, Michigan. Val Korrey has run it since 1949. He's old now. The food is still cheap. Still cooked on one large griddle. This is great. Duke orders hamburgers, I order pancakes and bacon. His burgers have a hint of pork, and a hint of batter. My pancakes have a hint of bacon and beef. Val cooks with lard. The pancakes come prebuttered to the table. The coffee is the best coffee I've ever tasted. The walls are decorated with countless framed pictures of the Sip n Snack regulars. I'm a regular. I hope one day to have my picture on that wall. The other decor are these great Camels. Above the griddle there is a sign that says:

This is not
You don't get it your way
You have it our way
or you don't get the damned thing
We come in to this place almost daily when I'm in town. Val knows me as the "Pancake man." I'll let you guess what sumptuous delectables I get every time I visit. They are that good.

Afterwards we went to Flat Black and Circular. It's this great hole-in-the-wall used record store that has a selection that is just staggering. I raided the cheap bins. This is what I got:
  • The Beatles - Double White (numbered)
  • The Beatles - Hey Jude
  • Bob and Doug Mackenzie
  • A compilation of songs from The Good The Bad and The Ugly, and Fistful of Dollars, and For a Few Dollars More
  • Elton John's Greatest Hits
  • Blood Sweat and Tears Greatest Hits
It was a good load and only cost me 10 bucks.

Then we came back to my house and played with my new Baritone Ukulele. I've figured out the mechanics of it right quick. It's just the top four strings of a guitar: DGBE. Within an hour of owning it, I managed to start writing songs on it.

Went to dinner with the parents at one of their favorite stops, the local Asian Buffet. I eat way too much when I go there. I want to go running in the morning.

James, Duke, and I went to Dublin Irish Square. It's a pub that's part of a National chain. We sat on the porch, had a pint each and some food. The one thing that I really like about Chicago is the bar scene. There is a wide variety of different types of bars. I'm more of a smaller pub guy. Less people. Old friends. Celtic Music. Smoking my pipe, and having a pint of Smithwicks or Guinness.
Duke being himself..

Mighty successful for a first day. Lets hope that to each succeeding day they continue to be as full and as joyous.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

This is it.

I'm standing on the threshold of the end of my summer semester. It's been a long time coming. I've finished typing the second draft of my personal essay. I've sweated through the compiling of my 32 page Instance collection (a mere whiff when compared to the 60-100 page collections turned in by some of my classmates). I've cussed, swore, sweated, bled (proverbially), and have made it to the finish line. A week ago I was at the point where I didn't care if I ever wrote again. Now, with the light at the end of the tunnel actually showing the blue of open sky and no longer just a pinprick on the horizon, I feel refreshed. Ready to tackle an adaptation of my short story, Interlude, into a screenplay. Ready to see where the rider is going to take me next (so far it sounds like he is going to have a conversation with the Buddha, and the unexpected boyfriend of one of his victims is yelling at me to let him get his own taste of revenge (another rider perhaps?)). Ready to see what other short stories I have in store.

There are a plethora of contests that are stacking up. Time is starting to run a little short on a few. And I, wanting to be a real author, am preparing what short stories I can to send out. The first is one that is judged by my mentor and friend, Mort Castle. It's a short story contest interested in Magical Realism and it's being put on by the literary magazine, Rosebud. You can look up the details on the Rosebud Mary Shelley contest here

While I'm at it, Mort gave me a link to a blog that he is a member of. You can catch him and 29 other writers who each toss a daily entry over at Storytellers Unplugged.

It's been about a week since my last entry.

The Bike trip was great. That makes the fifth time that I've done it. We had some mechanical difficulties the first day with one of the boy's bikes. Once we reached basecamp at Henderson Park we were able to get the bike fixed, and he rode strong the next two days. So now I've done the ride, legs are sore, butt is VERY sore, and I have an awesome bike tan. That consists of a nice brown/red ending at the sock line and also my arms up to the shoulder. Oh well.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Just popping in for a moment to say hello!!

I'm off for the 160ish mile bike trip... Should be exciting, and I'll have lots of awesome pictures to post on this thing afterwords.

Family, and the Fourth

I've been without internet for the past few days. That's my current excuse for not updating this thing sooner. I finally paid the bill in full and now I am connected to the internet again.

Monday was nothing special. Work and tutoring. I kept playing with my funny character who was on a crashed plane and has now established his own contested country. The series of short stories I originally had planned to do with this character is quickly becoming a novel or novella. I'm trying to figure out a way to make a satisfying conclusion, or what exactly the story arc is... As of now I think I am just going to keep writing the little scenes.

Tuesday was the third. My mom and my roommate's parent's came in to town to celebrate the Fourth of July with us. We met them at the train station around noon and went to lunch at the Eleven City Diner, which we fondly refer to as Elevenses. The best part about this diner, other than the food, is the awesome wait staff. They're a feisty bunch. My mom ordered a reuben which comes with either just corned beef, or corned beef and pastrami. Mom was debating between the two and decided to go with the straight corned beef. The waitress responded with a curt "why?" and then badgered my mom until she ordered it with pastrami (a homemade recipe). It was all in good fun, but I think only the wait staff at elevenses could get away with such a blunt manner.

After that, stuffed to the gills, we took them to the Taste of Chicago. It was about the same as the last entry. Wall to wall people, and expensive food. Then we went and toured Shedd's Aquarium (my second time this month). It was about the same as the previous time, except for the majorly depressed Sea Lion, which had been replaced with a more peppy and athletic one. For dinner we went to the Berghoff, a local brewery and restaurant, where we tried the beers, and their awesome food.

This was followed by joining what seemed like millions of people along the lake front and Grant Park for the fireworks. Chicago does their major fireworks display on the third. I learned that this was because of the police department. If they were to do it on the fourth it would cost them time and a half for each of the police officers on duty (which is a really big number), and would drive up the costs to the point where it would be almost undoable. The weather held until the very end of the fireworks, and we managed to make it from Grant Park to the car while getting only marginally wet. Watching that mass of people move across Grant Park was like seeing a large riot scene from the movies. There was an innumerable crowd flocking over the hills surrounding the baseball diamonds and across the bridges over the Metra Rails.

The Fourth was spent in and out of grocery stores, filling Matt's and my larder for the first time ever. It was nice actually being able to see a cupboard full of food. And with all the fixin's I'll probably be throwing a spaghetti dinner sometime in the next week to start to break into the load of food.

Afterword we came back and I picked my Mom's brain about the history of our cottage at Houghton Lake for a 10 page paper I had to write. And that was what today was, between work and class. Writing a 10 page paper in two hours. A new accomplishment for me.

Tomorrow I head back to Haslett for the annual bike ride from Haslett Community Church to Northwoods Boy Scout Reservation. I'll have an update with photos that sunday night if I'm not too tired.

I found this great article which has spawned some ideas for a story I started in class. It's about Kumaris, or living goddesses. A practice from Nepal.

The semester ends in a week. And I'm not counting at all...

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Mommy Mommy Look at the Caged Animals!

I went to the zoo today! The Lincoln Park Zoo is free, which is very accommodating when you are a broke student trying not to spend too much of your student loan. For the most part it was everything I had hoped to see. Interesting and exotic animals in cages. Their ape exhibit was far superior to the Potter Park Zoo from my home town. They actually had silver back gorillas.

The most interesting part of the trip was the battling tigers. They got up in eachother's faces and were roaring fit to bust. It's funny going to a zoo when you're older. Watching the tigers was like watching larger versions of house cats.I'm looking at submitting to another contest soon. Just starting to brainstorm some ideas. It's a Mary Shelley short story contest over at Rosebud Magazine. Lucky for me, Mort Castle is the finalist judge. That should give me a bit of an edge (though everything is done blind) because he'll know my writing style and he'll know what they're looking for.

Last night I helped my roommate perform a rescue operation on a can of Ragu sauce. Having come from an Italian oriented family, I grew up with homemade sauce. I've even learned how to make my own. Having it from a can was blasphemy, but with the help of spices, and some hot Italian sausage, we managed to save the majority of it.

And to bed I go...

PS: I noticed that I've been spelling extraordinaire wrong in the title, so I rectified it.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Overly Long Long Overdue Entry

I'm getting really terrible about remembering to update this..

It's been a busy week since last I wrote in this thing.

I used the Lake Front trail to commute in to class on Monday. On the train from the Morse stop to the Harrison stop of the CTA Red Line it's about 50 minutes. On a bike it was about the same. That and the view is far better than the hobo sleeping across the aisle. I get to watch the sunrise over the lake, see some nice parks, Buckingham Fountain, and I get exercise. Only downside is that I get to look like a goof using a bathroom in the library to change into my pants for work.

The Haslett Men's Ensemble, the nationally renowned choral ensemble that came from my High School, and a group that I am an alumni of, sang for the induction ceremony for the new president of the American Medical Association. His son, Evan Davis, is also an alum of the Ensemble, and so to accommodate him the group was opened up as an Alumni Performance. Eight gents (including myself) joined the Mens for their Tuesday night performance, including our staple, "A Hymn To God the Father" and another classic, "Viva Tutti" which translates (according to the sheet music) as "Hail to Women!"

The gig was at the Hilton right on Michigan Ave. in Chicago, which was a very convenient location for me (right across the street, south of Columbia). They put the men up in hotel rooms there. For meals they got to eat in the South wing of the Executive Suite.

After the performance, that Tuesday, we took a tour of the Hancock Building, followed by a quick desert at the Cheesecake Factory.

The next day the gents were given a brief tour of the touristy side of Chicago. I skipped out on Class and tutoring to join them. Sometimes life just gets in the way. The day began with a glorious breakfast again in the Executive Suite, and then a visit to Shedd's Aquarium. Ben Henri, the newest member of the Music Department Faculty at Haslett was telling me about working at Sea World, and we had a few laughs over the hilarity of the Dolphin shows. Then we were witness to the saddest looking Sea Lion I think we'd ever seen. It was half flopped onto the shore of its cage lying catatonic.

The next part of our venture was to Chicago's famous Navy Pier. I split away from most of the Men's guys and stuck close with a few of the Alumni, David Theis and Dan Voegler. There are only so many times you can see Navy Pier before it becomes really really boring. Needless to say, this time was well past one too many. For the last part of their day I hooked back up with Ben Henri's group on the Magnificent Mile. We spent the majority of the time in the Apple Store (no complaints there) playing the I Spy children's games.

Having people visit Chicago is by far my favorite thing about being here.

Thursday was back to the daily grind. Have to write another essay for my Prose Forms class. This one is about the history of my cabin with the slant that I'm interested in the story behind my inheritance. I need to call my Grandma and get the stories from her because she knows the story the most.

This week is the Taste of Chicago Festival. I went down there today and left fairly quickly because of the ridiculously large crowds. I will definitely be returning when my Mom comes down on Tuesday to spend some time with me.

Next weekend is the yearly bike trip from East Lansing, Michigan to West Branch, Michigan. It's about 150ish miles. We do it over three days. We ride from the Haslett Community Church to the Northwoods Boy Scout Reservation. We've been doing it now for about 4 years, and I haven't missed one yet.

Saw 1408 last night and it was good!

My mom sent me this article, and I laughed uproariously. Read it through and you will too...

And in other news my mentor, Mort Castle, has had his story "If You Take My Hand, My Son" performed by the AMFM Theater as part of their horror audio productions: "The Grist Mill." The production was awarded the Gold Ogle Award. The Award will be given at the CONvergence Convention in July. The Ogle was named for the actor who portrayed Frankenstein's Monster in the 1910 film Frankenstein.

Firefox has decided to stop acting up, which is nice. Now all I need to do is find my digital camera...