Saturday, February 16, 2013

Chapter 99: In Which I Discuss an Atlanta Non-reading

I am just noticing how many typos are in this blog. That last post? Embarrassing. But I will not edit them. Those words are the raw, unfiltered thoughts of an award-nominated, semi-coherent author. When my biographers quote these posts they can add [sic]s on their own time.

Random anti-capitalist thought of the day: people call the Black Bloc cowardly because they wear masks, ignoring the fact that the Boston Tea Party was some dudes dressed as Indians. Because only an idiot does illegal acts in public while showing their face. The Tea Party (ugh, that term has been so sullied) was a Black Bloc, plain and simple.
Happy news! I have to extend my congrats to my friend Maddy Barnes, who is publishing her first chapbook this year. I can't wait to read it. I believe she is currently in Europe, busy being young, talented, successful, and other obnoxious things. It's always great to see friends of mine get their work out there, which is becoming a common occurrence.

December tour. Memories. I dragged my sick body out of bed to see The Hobbit and do our Atlanta reading, which was booked at the last minute. Our friend's wife was kind enough to drive us in the torrential rain. The drive felt a lot more leisurely than the drive to Athens, where we were late, and lost, and Dzig's smartphone GPS got a temporary case of dumb. There's something intrinsically uncomfortable about being stuck in the car, in the rain, with a bunch of people. Cause it's a whole crowd being bummed and sullen...ALL TOGETHER!

We got to  the spot in Atlanta, where nobody was there, so we went to get pizza. We found a pretty fun hipster bar up the road, where the waiters had tattoos and stuff. We discussed The Hobbit, and how the kazillion trailers before it were so uniform. STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS! JACK THE GIANT KILLER! THAT TOM CRUISE MOVIE! The only one I felt interested in was the Guillermo del Toro Evangelion rip-off, but all they had to say to get me excited was "Guillermo del Toro." They could have skipped the scenes of Idris Elba yelling entirely.

BEN: There was a part in The Hobbit where the rock giants were fighting, and there were doing anatomically correct boxing. If they're so sentient, how do they feel when they get their heads knocked off? How come nobody looks at their perspective?

ME: Wasn't that in The Neverending Story?

Ben went to check on the space. Two ladies showed up for the reading, but they seemed pretty disgusted when he said he did comics, so bollocks to that. We went home. Those two people did keep Atlanta from being the least-attended reading I've done, so that's cool.  We concluded that, for the future, we should embrace it when we get a rest day, and actually rest. There were ultimately three cancelled shows on the tour: Atlanta (no crowd), Boone (flaky booking), and Memphis (straight up fatigue).

On the way from Athens we stopped to get gas. Dzig took a picture of me standing on the car in a manner he described as "badass merkat." You know, something like this.

That's how I was standing. In my time, I have born resemblance to many African savannah creatures. Ben stipulated that we were NOT stopping in South Carolina. We drove straight through. And obeyed the speed limit.

Present day. I'm chillin' in New Orleans. Tomorrow I'm going to the WWE Elimination Chamber PPV. I'm excited. This is the first WWE show I've been to since King of the Ring 1998 (the one where Undertaker threw Mankind off the cage). The WWE's product is...not as great as it used to be. But the good thing about going to a PPV is that there is guaranteed to be wrestling. Unlike Monday Night Raw, which is three hours of talking and bad comedy skits. Thanks, but no thanks. Anyway, I'm hyped to see CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, the Shield, the Rock, Chris MF'in Jericho, Cesaro, the list goes on. I pretty much like everyone on the card except Cena, who's boring, and Randy Orton, who is apocalyptically boring. Should be a good show. As I said, it'll be nice to see them wrestle, and not cut 20-minute rambling promos or get beat up by dwarves.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Chapter 98: In Which I Discuss Too Much Time on my Hands

Chickens Coming Home to Roost
America is built on violence, and now it's coming back to bite the perpetrators. Dorner, who the LAPD just burned alive, has already become a martyr and folk hero. While I would not personalize aggrandize him, as he was obviously disturbed and not a radical, I cannot help but note this irony. The LAPD is so corrupt that their evils caused a full scale insurrection in the 1990s, and it finally results in one of their own going First Blood on them. Like the ex-military he was, he practiced shock and awe by targeting civilians. The police responded with predictable brutality, bringing terror everywhere they went in order to get their payback, but you know none of those cops are gong to be able to sleep easy. It is not negligible that he was black. Dorner was the proverbial negro overseer raising his status by keeping his own kind in line, and now the LAPD's whole racist notion of meritocracy has shown it's cracks. They're going to be seeing a possible Dorner in every brown face to come through their academy.

Our police are getting increasingly militarized, to the pont they are using drones on American citizens. They're always willing to use the latest technology against unarmed protestors or drug dealers. This fetishization of war and oppression has backfired on them, within their own ranks. Contrast this to another recent event, where a guy who got rich bragging about killing Iraqis was shot dead by a Gulf War veteran with PTSD. Most Iraq veterans are not celebrities like that sniper. More of them are his friend, turned into a killer and then forgotten about. Lonely, tormented, doped up on VA pills. It's such a sad, disturbing state of affairs, and speaks directly to our militarized culture. The system creates monsters and now the monsters are turning on their own. And it was absolutely, positively inevitable.

Mardi Gras
So my semester has been pretty leisurely this year. The exact opposite of last semester. Taking two classes, teaching twice a week. I've had lots of down time, which I admit I haven't spent writing.  I need to get back on the wagon, I know. And speaking of falling off wagons, I went to Mardi Gras in New Orleans. I was aware it was one of the world's biggest carnivales, but that wasn't surprising to me. People from all over the world were there, getting straight sloppy. I spent some time on Bourbon Street, where at a few points I was walking several feet on beads. Listened to some kickass jazz and partied with old and new friends until I turned around on the barstool and saw it was daylight outside. Definitely worth the trip. I going down to Nola again for my birthday this weekend. Don't know what I'll do, or if I'll do anything besides hang out. Flogging Molly is playing House of Blues, then there's the Valentine's Day New Jack Swing Reunion.

In case you don't know what a New Jack Swing Reunion is, five acts will come onstage. Toni Tony Tone, SVW, Guy, Dru Hill, and Al B. Sure. Al B. Sure! The crowd will be nothing but 30-something year-old black people. Sisqo is going to break out "Thong Song" and we'll all be like "Ohhhhh" and act like that shit was ever cool to begin with and start grinding like we think we're still at Freaknik. Partying like it's 1992. I don't know if I'll go cause the tickets are super expensive. I'm a big NewJack Swing fan, but I'm thinking I might want to go to the WWE Elimination Chamber instead. That's on Sunday, and it's cheaper, and I haven't been to a live WWE show since King of the Ring 1998. So I might go to one of those, or none of them, and just enjoy a Nola vacation.

J.J. Abrams
J.J. Abrams created one of my favorite shows. It's called Felicity, and is seriously one of the greatest works of art I have seen. A college show that actually focuses on education, a flawed yet likeable heroine, a love triangle where the characters are dynamic and not stereotypes, characers who I actually enjoy spending time with. I first watched Felicity as it aired, starting with the pilot, and stuck with it through some questionable directions, including poorly thought out time travel plots. I related to Felicity as a young adult finding her way in the world. She graduated college the year I graduated high school, and they capped the show at the right time. Four good seasons.

Here's the kicker. J.J. Abrams, the man who gave me Felicity, went on to do esclusively genre work. Cloverfield, Alias, Lost. Now he's battling Joss Whedon for geek supremacy, taking both Star Wars and Star Trek under his umbrella. Yet I have watched none of this genre work, despite the fact that it's right up my alley. I genuinely don't know why, when i heard e was doing a spy show all those years ago, I shrugged. Now he has so many series to catch up on. At some point I'll sit down and watch Lost. Or maybe I'll rewatch Felicity again and be just as happy.

I was talking about the Star Wars thing a little while ago with my editor. We could totally envision Abrams sitting at a table with Whedon and being like, "I'll see your Avengers and raise you a Star Wars." Abrams vs. Whedon is the Cold War of our time, and won't stop until these men have divided up every geek property. And, while it would take a lot to get me ever interested in Star Wars or Star Trek, it is kind of sad that they are literally the same thing now. It used to be, you saw one for adventure and the other for characer and social commmentary. Now they're the same property overseen by the same man, filling them with explosions and Joker/Bane/Silva style domestic terrorists. Eh.

The other day I finished some edits on the "Brother Roy" end of the audiobook. The voices are indeed inconsistent, which is why I did alternate recordings of that particular story. It's going to be irritating to do that editing. I'm not dwelling on it now, moving onto "Assistant." Before, when parceling time in the stories, I made it an even 5/10ths of a second between each line. I was inspired by audiobooks I lisened to that moved at a fast clip. But I started listening to slower ones, like the new recording of George R.R. Martin's Dying of the Light, and decided I liked tht pace better. With "Brother Roy," instead of counting tenths of a second, I listened for when it felt natural to put the next line, slowing down the pace. It worked well. Which means I'll have to go back and slow the pace for the first three stories.

In the next week or so Six Gallery is printing the first ten ARCs for Hard Times Blues. Yay! I'm a happy clam.

And finally, I read this interesting post on author self-promotion at Helen Marshall's blog. I like it, especially the part about being clear on what you want to achieve. Words to live by. Makes me think about my own upcoming marketing campaign.