The State of the Jim, 5/15/11

i’m having flashbacks to college years that i didn’t have – yeah, need more caffeine to make that coherent… i didn’t discover the joys of cheeseless pizza until my second marriage, so mid-eighties, but i’m sitting here having left-over pizza for breakfast and getting a strong ‘college days’ vibe…

okay, it’s official, my lazy ass is so far behind on so many different projects at once that i am officially granting myself amnesty, declaring myself ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary from the kingdom of procrastination, representing someone we’ll get around to electing when we finally break down and admit we need to get started on that whole governmental organization thing… until then we won’t worry about it too much.

i realized yesterday that i am extraordinarily blessed with friends and acquaintances who are writers, from Rie to Rachel, from Matt to Mike to Mark to Mikey, from Tino to Traci to Tom, and Sherry, Jason, Henry, Carlos and Aaron… folks, i appreciate you all. i spent part of last night, as i was drifting off to sleep, just being thankful. it was a good feeling, and a lovely way to go to sleep.

in the ongoing saga of things that don’t work right anymore, my sound, and possibly my soundcard, are still AWOL.
my machine is rebooting after getting a “Generic Host Process for Win32 Services has encountered a problem and needed to close” error message, shortly followed by another message that i’ve written down twice and cannot find anywhere after the great cleaning/reorganization of the desk in preparation for either hauling the computer off somewhere to be looked at or having someone come in to look at it.
replacement parts to correct the issues my new desk chair is having are on their way.
the xbox 360, which we’ve had since ’05 or ’06, has been showing signs of its age (and the metric fuckton of use it gets). when the $50 network adapter went belly up, Dorris and i decided to go ahead and replace our old unit with the new Xbox 360 250GB S console, which has its own built in wifi hookup. as it’s smaller, sleeker, and all black, i am referring to it as the ‘slick black Cadillac’ and touching myself in an impure manner at the thought of it.

work on my blog post concerning Mother’s Day, a Lovecraftian pastiche starring Shub-Mommerath, is one of those projects i haven’t finished yet.

well, a supper of Tex-Mex comfort food, and i’m a-gonna close this. all-in-all, the state of the Jim is pretty good, considering…

Listening to: my wife play Civ V because my sound is AWOL
Mood: passable… optimistic… at peace, for the moment

Unwelcome Buried Treasure

Going through your stuff, you ever find that composition book with page after page of really pretentious and really bad stuff that you wrote when you were Much Younger and so incredibly full of yourself that you should have been taken out behind the shed and beaten senseless?
Insomnia – irritating beyond belief.
Demo for Lego Pirates of the Caribbean – way coolacious.
Finding composition book and actually reading that shit – nauseating.
So, it’s fuck near 3:30, I’ve taken ‘make me dumb’ & ‘help me breathe’ drugs and I’m about to try that whole sleeping thing again.

One thing I did find, not mine originally which explains why it’s not shit…
“The Neolithic Ethic”
“You stay in your village and we will stay in ours. If your sheep come to eat our grass, we will kill you. We may kill you anyway if we are in need of your grass for our sheep. Anybody who tries to make us change our ways is a witch, and we will kill them. Stay out of our village.”
It amazes me sometimes how little we’ve evolved.

okay, three hours of sleep later, i’m back – think of it as a scene from pretty much any version of ‘Frankenstein’… “uuuuunnnnnnnnhhh…” – either that or a mental version of Elsa Lancaster’s scream. (I need to watch that again sometime soon – “Bride of Frankenstein” remains one of my all time faves…)

Back to that whole issue that started this post… what do you do when you find crap like that, stuff so atrocious that even if the world was offering you truly obscene amounts of money for anything you’d ever written, you’d never let them see the light of day? I mean, they’re archival – they help define for me a time and place and headspace I don’t remember all that well (we were doing a lot of drugs in those days) so i’m rather loathe to destroy them, but by the same token, i’d really like to forget these pieces… not what they represent so much as the awful, bottom-of-a-septic-tank excrement that they are, as far as writing goes.
Anyone… anyone… Bueller?

Listening to: Lay Lady Lay – Ministry
Mood: surprisingly upbeat, given the abortion that last night was…

I Feel Kinda Guilty…

Got a very nice email this evening from a reader of my Soap Opera From Hell, he discovered the story after Thanksgiving and really hoped I was going to continue it – I last updated it at Christmas, 2010. It’s been a third of a year since any new material got posted… yet still readers are interested.
Nice to know… makes for the guilt though… just a bit.
From past experience I know that when I post Chapter 60, it’ll hit high in the downloads stats, as well as the score stats for recent downloads. That’s really kind of humbling, given Sturgeon’s Law and how it applies to my SOFH.
If only it were a nice, small story and not the daunting monster it’s become. I mean, yeah, I have to be in a certain headspace to enjoy writing my form of erotica, otherwise it’s a horrible exercise in “variations on insert tab A into slot B, lubricate when required, repeat as necessary” and that’s about as much fun to write as I imagine being a resume doctor is. But the other issue with just picking up and working a little on “Oil” is that even with all my notes and charts and such, it’s 750k words, metric mega-fuck-tons of characters and plot lines – keeping all that straight without a lot of rereading and such is a nightmare I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

Elsewhere in the writing part of my life, I finally finished the manual archiving of my LiveJournal, I’m in the process of repairing the damage done to the sole surviving copy of my NaNoWriMo project…
Okay, a bit of an explanation, so you’ll understand just what a technobarbarian you’re dealing with here. I composed the vast majority of the project in Scrivener. When I was very close to the end of my labors in November, I submitted what I’d completed to the NaNoWriMo site for a word count. They turned it into some kind of file, I can’t remember what type.
In the meantime, hooting and grunting at the shadows dancing on the walls, probably flinging poo at them as well, I erased the Scrivener files – all of them. That took extra-special effort on my part. I did it so well that Dorris couldn’t find a ghost of them anywhere, on any computer, in any format. They were gone.
But I had this copy in the I-can’t-remember format from NaNo… so I found a way to translate it into a Word doc… but the process left the file messed up – lots of trash to be cleaned up.
Now, any time I start feeling too bitchy about it, I remember just how close I came to losing 80% of my work, and how it felt when I thought I had, and all of a sudden, I stop bitchin’… for a while. It’s deadly dull, repetitive work and I hate it only slightly less than doing punctuation revisions.
But it isn’t lost, so I can cope.
Submitted a story to a website that publishes a story a week, and at the end of the year will publish them all in an anthology… haven’t heard back yet.
The Oz story is still sitting with the editor – I haven’t heard anything negative, nor positive, so I’m real unsure what’s going to happen with that one.

Wow, that’s enough damn words for this time of night…

Listening to: Dragula – Rob Zombie
Mood: generally okay

Y’Know, Maybe More Writers Should Take Up Editing Professionally

So I’m looking at the “low prices just so as to be affordable to Indie Authors” rates from the woman who’s behind Red Adept Reviews, and the average is 0.0065 cents per word. Now, being mathematically challenged in that way that requires me to actually do the math before forming an opinion, I ran the numbers for “On A Road Going Nowhere”… twice…
$708.19 for spelling, grammar, composition, two sets of eyes looking it over and perhaps some feedback on flow and such.
Now I ain’t sayin’ it wouldn’t be worth it – hell, their editing pass might be just the thing any Indie novel needs to make it shine, and I totally agree that the more professional-appearing a book is, the more likely I am to not hurl it across the room/delete it from the Kindle. But for that kind of money, from where I’m sitting right now – on any project I’m working on – there’s no way in hell… not even with copious amounts of wanton sex thrown in with the lust object of my choice.
Not to mention “Yog’s Law” (“Money flows toward the author.”), I keep hearing in the back of my head the old sales pitch from vanity presses – “You have to have enough faith to invest in yourself!
So, y’all get out those books on English Composition and the rules of punctuation, grammar, spelling and such and hang out our shingles. I’m thinking you can undercut the hell out of that price… hell, Shandy (a fellow writer at Cen-Tex) could probably charge more than that and deliver results well worth it.
It could well be raining soup… perhaps some of the more educated and learned among my writer friends should get a bucket and go into professional editing. Indie publishing isn’t going anywhere except up…

Listening to: Comin’ In On A Wing And A Prayer – Ry Cooder
Mood: rather taken aback

Bin Laden Is Dead…

I feel a lot of different ways about this… none of them the “all warm and fuzzy cuz’ I’m an Amurrican an’ this is our whupass” that I think I’m supposed to. 
1) Americans the world over are now bigger targets than we were before… of course, with moron fundies burning copies of the Koran, that ain’t sayin’ much.
2) Our troops in the Middle East are bigger targets than they were before… see above… and that makes me very uneasy – I still don’t believe we should have gone in the first place… I mean, let’s get real. Saddam and his WMD’s were an excuse, we’re pretty much stalled in Afghanistan (feelin’ them ol’ Russian Invasion Blues) – low and behold, we found Osama in Pakistan, where everyone and their grandmother has been saying he was for quite a while… our good ally Pakistan. Not living in a hole, living out in the open… and we’re in Afganistan and Iraq why? 
And as I have an acquaintance headed for Iraq in July, that’s even more unhappy on a personal level.
3) He was a human being… now, I can’t go the whole “the death on any one diminishes us all” route… and if I let my emotions influence me… I remember people holding hands as they leapt from one of the towers – that’s still an emotional kick in the balls anytime I think of it… but Justice is blind, immune to the extremes of emotion and we must strive for Justice.
He was our enemy – but it’s not as if he didn’t have good reason to be. yeah, there are concrete, historically documented reasons we’re hated in that region (world-wide, actually) and how can I completely and totally blame people for hating us when we’ve gone out of our way, as a nation, to give them so many good reasons to?
4) The people who need to know he’s dead will never believe it. A hundred years from now, there will be people who believe he’s still alive, granted immortality by Allah so he can continue the war against the Great Satan.
We have DNA proof. We have photos. Who knows what other proof we have? None of it, not one single shred of it matters. He Is Not Dead.
The burial at sea will only fuel those suspicions. 
And yeah, I’m sure that there are Birthers out there who are convinced it’s all just a ploy to rob them of their thunder… you have no idea how much that depresses me.
5) As a friend of mine, Matt Borgard, said: “Yeah I can’t wait for the magical day that we discover a better fuel source than oil, and the world’s interest in that hellhole of a region just disintegrates.”
Problem is, the fundies will never let that happen since Israel is an integral part of their Map of God’s Final Curtain Call. So we’re going to be involved in that part of the world for the foreseeable future, surrounded by those people we’ve given so many reasons to hate us… hell, at this point, if I was Israel I’d be distancing myself from the U.S. – they’ve already got enough people who want them dead – an issue they exacerbate every chance they get.
But the fundies are going to be so happy at this victory over the Satanic-Cabal-Known-As-Islam that they’re bound to find new stupid things to say and do. This will funnel right back into numbers 1 & 2.

So yeah, we finally got bin Laden, I hope it gives Obama a big boost in the polls, since I still feel he’s better than any alternative the Grand Old Misogynistic-Privileged-Racists can put up, but I’m not getting the whole “My-Crank-Has-Been-Yanked-By-An-Angel” feeling that a lot of people seem to be manifesting.
It’s another day, another man done gone, we’re still in a Recession-That-Feels-Like-It-REALLY-Wants-To-Be-A-Depression-When-It-Grows-Up, the Plutocracy still reigns from on high and really, if you wanna be blunt about it, nothing has changed for the better, quite probably the opposite.

Listening to: Hells Bells – AC/DC
Mood: a little dark, it seems

Wakin’ Up On The Wrong Side O’ The Bed…

and then courtesy of music, gettin’ my shit straightened out.
Any time I start to doubt my belief that music, in all its many genres and forms, is literally the Voice of God (yeah, my conception of the Deity has a billion voices, and there’s a lot of ’em I don’t like, but that doesn’t change their holiness), I have an experience like this morning, where I wake up in a mood so foul the dawgs even avoid me (well, besides Conan, who very quietly and gently sits between my feet and lets me know he loves me no matter what) – and then music takes everything I thought was a problem and a pain and puts it in perspective as those Voices of God cradle my soul and lift it up.
In that elevation I’m reminded that nothing stands between me and happiness but myself.
It truly is a Blessed way to start a day, and my thanks to Tim Collier, Larry Hughes and Don Ferree for providing this morning’s grant of Grace.

Listening to: “Desolation Row” – My Chemical Romance
Mood: jubilant

Well, That Was A Nice Time…

Cen-Tex Writers Group meeting today – Read Out, the meeting held on those rare fifth weeks of the month… well, the two new members who were going to attend cancelled out, possibly because nobody would really feel all that comfortable with a first encounter with a group when it’s meeting in a member’s home, so Mike and I were the only two there and had a really nice visit, I scored his duplicate copy of “The Zinn Reader”, Howard Zinn’s writings on disobedience and democracy. What ya had dere was your basic drinkin’ coffee an’ shootin’ o’ de shit…
Next week is Naming the World, our writing exercise meeting – really need to get started on that before the last damn minute.
Today’s music has been an odd mix of Bill Conti’s score to “The Right Stuff” and the “Sucker Punch” soundtrack… possibly the “Watchmen” soundtrack a little later…
Lee’s playing “Section 8: Predjudice” on the XBox, my wife’s out shopping for shirt patterns, I’m catching up on email, there’s a roast in the oven and all is pretty right with the world.
Well, other than that rampaging sinus headache thing that leapt up and laid me low… and my wife will not use the power tools I’ve given her to drill a hole in the side of my head! Can you believe the nerve? The gratitude of some people leaves so much to be desired.

Old and Bad Memories

Last night at ‘Abusing-the-Universe’ writers group, the issue was raised as whether or not an intelligent main character in a story would ‘dumb down’ his conversational style when talking with his friends/squad mates (he’s military). One of our group members was very dismissive of the idea that he would and challenged the author to do better.
I disagree, at least among friends… you find a level of social interaction everyone’s happy with and that’s the level you stay on, for the most part… it’s generally not the height of intelligent discourse. You may go to that height on occasion, but most days, you’re just a bunch of people, hanging with each other.
But the whole thing put me in mind of an experience I had concerning perceived intelligence.
For the first seven-and-a-half years of my academic life (longer, actually, if you count kindergarten) I went to school in the same town I was born in. From 4th grade on, classes were divided into A, B & C groups, and depending on the year, how the wind blew, what the Chinese astrological sign was, either A or C was the ‘Advanced’ group, B was always the average group, and whichever of the two, A or C, wasn’t the advanced group was the ‘Slow’ group. I was always in the advanced group, I never really thought about it, most of my friends were there – it simply was the way things were.
There was bullying – never doubt that for an instant, but it was never based on or related to my intelligence in any way. I was fat, I had a goofy haircut, I was athletically disinclined, I was a mouthy little shit – take your pick.
Then my mother and I moved to Del Valle for about half a year and I received a first-class education in the perils of being different in any way at all… it just so happened that this set of lessons was primarily focused on my intelligence. I was smart, that was different (at least to the bullies – and face it, when you’re getting the shit beaten out of you, it’s the bullies’ opinions that really matter) and so I fixed that problem.
I got dumb – and did so in a right sprightly manner.
It got better… I stopped standing out… new victims raised their heads.
But my perception of myself remained ‘dumb’.
Moved back to Smithville, back to the people I’d grown up around. It was high school, a whole new kettle of fish – no A, B or C bullshit. Course material I wasn’t interested in, I struggled. I know now that I was smart enough to do the work, but it sure as shit didn’t seem so at the time. I gave lip service to repeated exhortations  of “You’re more than smart enough to get this” but deep down I didn’t believe it because if I did I would get hurt – physically beaten – and I never wanted to go back there again.
In a rather unsurprising bit of rationalization, courses that I was interested in, I excelled at – and that’s because they were simple – they had to be, you see, or I couldn’t have done well at them. When friends struggled with them, I had no choice but to believe they were even less intelligent than I was. (By comparing test scores, that theory was to a large part borne out… though how I could simultaneously hold myself as ‘stupid’ and score as high or higher than classmates I knew were damn smart… well, that certainly wasn’t the most fucked-up set of conflicting beliefs I held, but it was close.)
It took a long time – years – for me to get over the “I have to be stupid or I’ll get hurt” issue. It was so much safer, emotionally, to go on believing that. Still run into echoes of it now, and it’s been 30+ years.

So, in a situation were everyone isn’t your friend, you either force yourself to fit in or you don’t… fine-tuning the ratio comes later, but as a rule, unless you feel safe and are sure you’re safe, you stay the fuck away from ‘different’… the nail that stands out gets the hammer and getting the hammer is bad.

Odd what you remember, 37 years later – my primary tormentor in Del Valle, can’t remember his name, want to say it was ‘John Davis’, but I’m pretty sure I’m wrong about that, pale yellow hair, effectively translucent skin – got to see a lot of it on his legs while he was kicking the shit out of me in gym class/P.E. – he got expelled after the worst of the beatings I got – not because I ratted him out, but because the dumb cocksucker threatened another student with a knife.
I pray to God there’s a hell and that vicious prick’s in it. I’m not at all comfortable with the amount of hate I still feel for him, but feel it I do.

Listening to: “Glenn’s Flight”, Bill Conti, “The Right Stuff” soundtrack
Mood: it’s been better

General Running-On at the Mouth

somewhat crappy realization – going through my LJ archives and reading posts from the last time i thought “first star” was in its final editing pass. then again, i suppose i really shouldn’t bitch too much – nobody ever said that turning a story written as episodic erotica into a coherent story was going to be easy.
same for “on a road going nowhere”…
’cause if anyone had ever said that, i’d be looking for them, wearing my boots, intending to plant one of said boots in their genitalia with all the force i can muster.

tonight should be an interesting ‘abusing-the-universe’ meeting… or not. i dealt with a perpetual thorn in my side in the critiquing process by simply ignoring said thorn – it really wasn’t worth my time in the first place. being me, that means i’m feeling somewhat guilty about it… being me, i will get over it.

lately, aside from a little Paul Horn, the music seems to be Ry Cooder & V.M. Bhatt’s “A Meeting by the River” on ‘repeat’. restful, beautiful, unobtrusive.

well, time to get ready for ‘abusing-the-universe’… later, kids

Finally Writing Again…

Not writing much, only 1600+ words so far, but it’s more than I’ve written in quite some time. “Funny” scene occurred to me last night in one of the periods when I wasn’t sleeping (there were quite a few of those) and so it’s the opening scene of a story set in an alternate universe to the major universe I write in. (“Oil”, “First Star”, “On a Road Going Nowhere”… all are set in the same universe.)

I’m thinking that as far as major stories/pieces/works (such as they are), this makes three that I write in. Those two and the Steampunk timeline of whatever-the-hell-that-story-ends-up-being-called… short stories aren’t necessarily set in any of the three.

Not that I’m worried about any of that for any reason other than it’s one of those odd little obsessive things I’m occasionally heir to… “what world is this story set in?”