On Writing (Taking a Really Long Time to Bear Fruit)

Just a quick post to point out a nice long post John Scalzi made re: the dedication/stamina/stubbornness necessarily to write and get published as a novelist. Here’s a choice pull-quote I can relate to:

[Some writers] start writing something that they thought might be a book-length idea, only to find not only did it not qualify as a short story, it was better for everyone involved if the stunted, weird thing was taken behind the tool shed, whacked with a shovel and buried without anyone else knowing it ever existed.

From “Why New Novelists are Kinda Old, or, Hey, Publishing is Slow“.

Wherein Woody Allen Makes a Movie About People Kissing

This trailer is pretty unique in that it doesn’t tell you anything about Vicky Cristina Barcelona other than it’s apparently pretty sexy… which is kinda weird for a Woody Allen movie. Thankfully, he stayed behind the camera. Someone must have finally convinced him he shouldn’t pair himself with girls 40 years younger than him.

A Blogging Software Revolution!

WordPress Button

My “constant readers” have probably noticed that I keep changing the look-and-feel of this blog about once every two weeks. It’s mostly because I get tired of looking at the same theme all the time, and there are plenty of free themes out there to choose from. A bigger change has happened this time, however, but it is (hopefully) fairly seamless and shouldn’t affect how people use this blog – basically I’ve changed blogging software again. I’ve used several different tools over the years – Blogger, Livejournal, Movable Type, and now WordPress. I had considered switching to WordPress before. Where Movable Type is closed-source and based on a payment model (if you want full support), WordPress is free and open source. I mostly didn’t switch for a long time because of inertia. Despite any issues I might have occasionally had with Movable Type, it was pretty stable, and got the job done. Changing things around would have been too much effort, especially since I had configured Movable Type the way I liked it – I wasn’t sure if I could recreate the same features in WordPress.

Then, about a month or so ago, the newest version of Movable Type starting behaving pretty strangely, throwing up weird errors and generally taking forever to build new entries. I also noticed from looking at Beau’s site that my copy of Movable Type was actually missing some of the features I was supposed to have, despite the fact that I had installed the same version on both of our sites. The biggest problem was that the “save post” button had stopped working, and it was driving me crazy.

I finally decided at that point to just do a complete clean install of Movable Type to see if that would fix my problems. I had to export all of my old entries and import them back into a new installation of MT. I also had to track down all of the helpful plugins I was using and re-install them. The whole effort took a good night’s work sitting in front of a computer, but when I was done, MT was running better than ever, and it looked like all of the kinks had been ironed out… except that it still took forever to “rebuild” posts, and every once in a while I’d get a weird server error and have to rebuild again and again. I dealt with it, though, because I had invested too much time into MT and didn’t want to make the change… until this week.

I recently set up a blog for my friend Tony. I installed WordPress on the site because I thought it’d be easier to set up and use for someone non-technical. Movable Type is great, but it’s got quite the learning curve. Part of setting the site up meant that I had to go into the WordPress dashboard and play around with the options, and as I spent more time in there trying to figure out how to configure the blog to Tony’s liking, I found more and more features that seemed really great/useful. The biggest draw is the WYSIWYG editor built into WordPress – on Movable Type, I had been working with a plugin based on Textile for a long time to make it so that I didn’t have to write complicated HTML just to post an image, but WordPress makes thing much easier right out of the box.

So, earlier this week I sat down one night and started looking into what it’d take to make the switch. I tracked down all of the plugins I’d need, I exported all of my entries, and I got cracking. You see the results before you now. There were a few hiccups along the way, and I am still finding the occasional entry that didn’t format correctly, but for the most part, things look pretty good. I’d recommend WordPress to others. It’s a much more elegant blogging system, and It’s much easier to change things around.

The plugins are great, but the best part is that when I needed to reconfigure a few things, I could just jump in and edit the PHP code, no problem – this is one of the biggest differences between WordPress and Movable Type. MT is written in a language that I have no familiarity with, and it’s much more difficult to dive in and start tinkering with the MT code. MT also uses proprietary tags to make the template files, where WordPress just uses PHP code and function calls.

As you can tell, I’m pretty happy with the switch so far, although I’m still working on changing around a few things.

great-o party

so… for some reason or other, i finally seem to be coming out of my hermit shell. i actually drove all the way to georgetown tonight to go to a party at my friend katie’s house, even though it was likely that i wouldn’t know many people there. and, to top it off, i had a good time. it wasn’t weird or awkward at all.

equaly weird was the fact that i talk to several cute girls for a while, but didn’t let myself get all caught up in worrying about it. i was just there to have some conversations…

it was the sort of thing that was shooting for last weekend but didn’t quite manage.

my new goal, is to find ways to make my life less boring. this will most likely involve leaving the house more often, for starters.

it also helps that i’ve kind of overloaded myself with tv-on-dvd. the habit isn’t going away, but i’m definitely starting to understand that it can no longer be my *only* hobby.

now, to bed.

some weird sin

i am wide awake at 3:00 in the morning. this is not a good sign for my impending day of work tomorrow. i occasionally toy with the thought of calling in just because i don’t want to go, but i’d rather save my days out for when i’m actually sick and really need them (rather than just tired from lack of sleep), and besides, i’d like to keep this job, as much as that scares me at the same time.

on tuesday there was a going away party/baby shower for a woman who is so pregnant she looks like she might just about pop. besides her, there are something like three other pregnant women in the department, and one guy who has a pregnant wife. everyone in the room at this little party was well into their thirties, and the only subject of conversation was babies, and what babies do, and all of the little things you need to know when you’re about to have a baby.

it had never occurred to me before that such a thing could give me the willies, but all of a sudden it did. appropriately enough, later that night i watched an episode of sex and the city about a former wild-woman that the girls knew from years back who was now settled down and about to have a baby herself. somewhere along the line, this woman had transformed from a sex-maniac that liked to take her clothes off at parties to a housewife in connecticut.

(and then there’s the third season of six feet under, which finds nate settled down and married to a woman he may not really love because she’s had his child.)

i don’t know why the thought of women having babies should disturb me. i’ve never been in a relationship serious enough to imagine that in some distant future i might think about possibly marrying the girl, so why should babies be all that weird?

in fact, it kinda weirds me out that it surprised one of my co-workers that i had never been in a relationship “serious” enough to consider marriage. she also didn’t understand how i could call my last relationship serious without having considered marriage at any point. my mind splutters impotently at the thought.

the reason i’m still awake at this hour is that we went and saw batman begins at the latest showing possible, which is what i get for wanting to see the movie with all my friends who stay up until 8 in the morning instead of starting work then.

it was, not surprisingly, as good as i hoped. i really liked it a lot, actually, and i hope it does as well as i’m sure it will, so that the batman series can be seriously rebooted and done well.

as we were walking out of the theatre, i was talking to my friend mcphail about when we could possibly hang out, since he comes up to austin tuesdays and thursdays for his internship. i found myself saying “well, not this week or next, because i’ve got *mandatory overtime* because of *quarter-end*.”

at this point i had a bit of an out-of-body experience. was i that guy? did i just say “quarter-end”? the fact that i uttered these words in the middle of a crowd of college students only made it that much worse.

luckily, i’m going out drinking friday afternoon. it’s with the people from work, though. i’m not sure how i feel about having a dwindling group of friends close to my own age…

one final note: nothing like watching a good movie to get your storytelling muscles itching to work again. at the moment, i don’t feel guilty or inadequate because i haven’t written anything in so long. i just feel it there, and i know that before long i’ll be writing again. i don’t know what i’ll write, or how my inspiration will ultimately come, but… for right now… i feel secure again in the knowledge that it isn’t broken, or gone, it’s just resting. resting and getting strong for another trip out into the world.

i mean, look at this… this is the longest entry i’ve written in two months. that, surely, is a good sign. wanting to write something, anything at all, sitting down here and tapping out my thoughts… it’s making me feel just a little bit more alive right now.

luckily, it’s also made me tired enough to lie down and go to sleep.

aaargh

i think i fell asleep at 8 o’clock last night. i woke up twice, once at 11:30 when i thought “Hmm, i should get up” right before i rolled over and fell back asleep, and then a second time, at 1am, when i realized that the cat was still outside and that i had been sleeping with the light on. i rescued the cat, turned off the light, and conked out for the night.

and yet i still feel like i could sleep some more. or maybe i’m just groggy. anyways, it’s ridiculous. i mean… maybe i was behind on some sleep, but still!

…in a side note, early this morning i was having a weird dream and i’m reasonably certain that i could hear myself snoring from within the dream. as in, i was snoring distinctly enough that my unconscious mind could hear it. damn, that’s some loud snoring.

alright, it’s done.

so, last night as i was editing this odd little movie, i thought to myself “man, i remember when i edited those other movies i got all caught up in it and 10 hours passed like nothing. it’s not happening this time!” – and on top of that, i just wasn’t getting stuff to go together as well. i wasn’t in the groove. this was at, maybe… 11 o’clock. i hadn’t been working on it too long, only a few hours.

and then i looked up and it was five o’clock. somewhere in there, the gears got oiled and i remembered how to do it, and time disappeared like nothing.

anyways, i hope you like it, although i’m not sure if it’s as funny if you don’t know these people. but i hope it is anyways.

Crumenders!

*EDIT:* for those of you who might not know, this footage was shot in the fall of 2003 and has sat unedited on my camcorder since then. most of the plot turns and dialogue were improvised on the spot by tony and beau, and then i’d tell them where to stand so i could film it. personally, i was completely sober. beau and tony get more drunk as the movie goes on, but compared to a lot of people in the house that night, they were pretty sober. if you knew tony, though, you’d definitely understand where this movie is coming from…

*SECOND EDIT:* hoo boy! man, i didn’t realize how little this movie would translate outside the circle of the sig house. everybody who has watched it that didn’t go to southwestern has basically said “well… er… it was weird.” and left it at that. yeesh. good thing i wasn’t planning on including this on my demo reel. (i really wasn’t. it’s entertaining – to _some_ of my friends – but it’s sloppier than i’d want to present around town. also i used a good dozen songs that i don’t have the rights to.)

*THIRD EDIT:* Oh, and if you guys had seen “Hepatitis Pie”, you would never have talked to me ever again. Probably good that one got fried when my computer crashed a few years ago.

i have just experienced a weird moment of convergence

yesterday i read an article in the onion av club, “an intervew with Mitchell Hurwitz”:http://www.theonionavclub.com/feature/index.php?issue=4106&f=1&page=2, creator of Arrested development. here’s the important bit:

In The Beatles, you can kind of see it the clearest. You know, Paul is the matriarch, John is the patriarch, the craftsman is George and the clown is Ringo. So I wanted to get that in there, and I thought, “Maybe that will be the four kids. I’ll do a show about four kids.” As it turns out, Michael and Lindsay would be the matriarch and patriarch. The craftsman, to me, is Buster, because he’s a scholar and he’s serious, and the clown is Gob, because he’s a magician, and clowns literally are magicians.

just now, on page 261 of “The Fortress of Solitude”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0385500696/qid=1108030684/sr=2-1/ref=pd_ka_b_2_1/002-2059164-5768831 by Jonathan Lethem, which i have been sorely neglecting for a good two weeks now, i read the following:

‘…The Beatle thing is an archetype, it’s like the basic human formation. Everything naturally forms into a Beatles, people can’t help it.’
‘Say the types again.’
‘Responsible-parent genius-parent genius-child clown-child’
‘Okay, do Star Wars.’
‘Luke _Paul_, Han Solo _John_, Chewbacca _George_, the robots _Ringo_.’

something told me the first time i read the first quote that i needed to write it down. and here it is again. is it too superstitious for me to think that my moment of inspiration is creeping closer and closer?

i was going to post this on omni-fan, but…

…apparently the sql is fucked somehow. anyways, i spent some time thinking about my “best” albums of 2004. the top 3 are easy. they go:

1. the arcade fire – funeral
2. sonic youth – sonic nurse
3. mission of burma – onoffon

the rest vaguely go like this, with very little order to them.

elliott smith – from a basement on a hill
interpol – antics (how passe of me! indie-dance is _sooooo_ over!)
nick cave & the bad seeds – abbatoir blues/lyre of orpheus
blur – think tank (it’s weird that i like this, cause i really hated it the first time i heard it…)
four tet – pause
loretta lynn – van lear rose
the kinks – are the village green preservation society (remaster)
of montreal – satanic panic in the attic
wilco – a ghost is born
brian wilson – smile

unabashed “guilty” pleasure:
kylie minogue – body language

selected songs from:
kanye west – college dropout
joanna newsom – whichever weirdness i ran across

older stuff:
sonic youth – daydream nation, murray street, a thousand leaves
mission of burma – s/t
gang of four – entertainment
jim o’rourke – bad timing
morphine – cure for pain

single most played song of 2004:
“sunday” by sonic youth, at a grand total of 35 times.

best advance album illictly downloaded last week:
lou barlow – emoh

Unemployment Sucks

Well, today was my first day of official joblessness. I considered the weekend part of the Thanksgiving holiday, so today was the first day I felt like I should actually be doing something. Accordingly, I woke up at 9am (unintentionally), watched six episodes of Arrested Development, brainstormed some stuff to write, and then visited the Hollywood Video on 41st and Red River.

This Hollywood Video is special – or so claimed the coupon mailer I got – because they’ve got more than 50,000 movies in that one store, the largest film library in Texas (i think that was the claim). I wasn’t sure what to expect, really. I mean, I Luv Video has a hell of a lot of movies, and if you want something weird, foreign, or pornographic, they’re definitely the place to go, but this newly enlarged Hollywood Video managed to trump them by having the most complete collection of Criterion Collection DVDs I have ever seen – maybe close to 200.

You know how most video rental places have the movies turned facing out of the shelf? The bulk of the DVDs in this store were turned so that the spine was sticking out, and there was barely a centimeter of free space on any shelf. And these were shelves taller than my head, mind you. I think each row of shelves probably had as many movies on it as a normal Hollywood Video would have in a whole store. I had to leave before I hyperventilated.

I did, however, rent 8 1/2 and The Lower Depths before i left.

well, when I say comments

well, when I say comments are temporarily gone, what i really mean is that they are not coming back. probably. as sexy as php is, they were sort of a silly feature. oh well. the freakin’ order for the pen drive still hasn’t been confirmed, so i’m thinking about cancelling it and ordering from amazon.co.uk, which will be more expensive. maybe i just need to be patient. or maybe i just need to email their sales department. wot-ever.

i was wandering around on thursday and i found this music store called “fopp,” i kid you not. they claim to be the biggest independent music store in the uk, so i checked them out. they had racks and racks of really good cds for only ?5… and not as a buy 3 for ?15 deal or something. so i got another gomez cd – their b-sides collection. as far as i can tell, it’s terrible, but i haven’t listened all the way through. i also bought “intergalactic sonic 7’s” by ash (not for ?5 though), which is the singles collection for a scottish band who are really big here. they had a song on the angus soundtrack way back in the day. i’d recommend getting it, but it doesn’t seem to be in print in the us yet. i reeeeaaaaaaallly like ash.

on friday we went to “shakespeare’s globe theatre” and saw a midsummer night’s dream. this theatre was actually finished in 1997, but it’s built very close to the site of the original globe and is built to the specifications of the original theatre, with a few compromises to safety and fire codes. it’s the only building in london with a thatched roof, although it has been thoroughly fireproofed.

this performance of AMND was absolutely the best performance of a shakespeare play i have ever seen. I loved it. it was the way shakespeare should be done. it was a contemporary production, but was very restrained. they didn’t try to set it in any weird place or time; instead, all of the characters wore pyjamas the whole show and all of the props were made out of toiletries. yes, toiletries. you just had to see it. compared to this, antony and cleopatra was bollocks. (and to those of you who remember the dulles high school production of AMND… welll… i don’t have to say anything about that).