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.