Thursday, June 28, 2007

Dichotomy of Writing

A strange thing just occured to me as I sift through myself and try to figure out why I can write sometimes, and why I can't write other times. The realization, to say the last, is a bit odd, a bit contradictory, while totally expected and not much of a suprise. In order to write, a writer must be mentally uncomfortable, but physically comfortable.

Of course, this certainly isn't the case for all writers, but I'm willing to bet it applies to 90% or more of them. And it certainly applies to myself, as well as every true writer that I personally know. That being said, since I'm not biographically proficient in any of them, I'm going to use myself as an example.

Case in point: 2006 was clearly the worst year of my life, for a variety of reasons. However, closer scrutiny of that particular year reveals that 2006 was merely the worst year of my life mentally (I use merely in a wholly sarcastic manner). Physically, 2006 was probably one of the best years of my life. I lost 40 pounds, I wasn't smoking, I was eating balanced and beneficial meals, I reacquired my long-lost healthy tan, I was exercising six days a week, and all in all was in the best physical shape of my life. In better shape, even, than my nine total years in the Army.

And I managed to finish, polish, and/or draft three complete scripts. On top of that, I managed to start at least three more.

In short, I was mentally upset, while physically happy.

2007, so far, has been a relatively good (though quiet and boring) year. Early in the year, my writing had slowed, but it was still relatively consistent, and I had delved into projects that weren't necessarily my own. For a while this year, I was able to play with other people's uncomfortable mental states.

And then I went back to North Carolina for a while. Result: quit exercising (although this will hopefully change), picked up smoking again (naturally breaking a New Year's Resolution), started eating worse, and began losing my tan. Physically, I'm back in my pre-return-to-the-West-Coast mode, and I haven't been able to write a damned thing in the last two months. The writing bug just wouldn't hit. Why? Well, because I became mentally AND physically uncomfortable.

This physical discomfort came from a variety of sources. One, no doubt, is the overbearing humidity found in the Southeast. Another is my less-than-satisfying living arrangements. There are more, to be sure, and while I can change some of them, a few of them are permanently etched into the ecosystem of the East Coast.

Currently, at this very moment, I have returned to the West Coast in order to attend a wedding, and for no apparent reason, the writing bug hit me. Not only that, the exercise bug did, too. And though I'm still puffing away at those cancer sticks, I feel no true desire to smoke.

Long story short, I'm guessing that I should try to knock out as much writing as I possibly can while I'm back in the Pacific Time Zone, for a I have a strange feeling that upon my return to North Carolina next Monday, I'm not going to feel like much of a writer.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Dispelling a Rumor

Hmm... apparently, certain aspects in my life (aspects being people) are getting a little sloppy, so I need to tighten things up a bit. There is, quite dishearteningly, a popular rumor that is making its rounds through the circles I travel and hang out in. This particular rumor involves the subject (me) being involved in some sort of clandestine government operation or operations. This is not, I repeat, this is not the case.

I am not, have never been, nor (likely) ever will be involved with any intelligence or clandestine service, be it military, government, corporate, or private-oriented. Yes, there's the small matter of DP Investigations out of Dallas, TX, but that is a private investigations firm, and not an intelligence agency of any kind.

I am not in the CIA, DIA, NSA, FBI, Special Forces, SOF-D, MI-6, Mossad, Metsada, ISA (which doesn't even exist anymore... I don't know who brought that one up), or any other super-secret-squirrel spy organization.

My time in the military was spent solely as a Combat Engineer, and that's it. Anything else you've heard is complete and utter bullshit. I never finagled my way into anything "cool" (in the Hollywood sense of the word), and I never finagled my way out of anything crappy. I swept motor pools, cleaned toilets, blew up bridges, and jumped out of airplanes like the other 500 people that were assigned to my battalion.

So please quit calling and asking me questions, sending me emails, and offering to pay me to find someone and break his or her kneecaps. That's not me. You've got the wrong guy.

Those who know me best can tell you: I'm too fucking lazy to have done anything like that.

Have a nice day... and vote Clint Eastwood for President.

Things I Did Today

I usually don't do lists, but today just seemed full of little profound moments that deserve to be listed.

I sat next to two ferrets on a flight from Atlanta, GA, to Reno, NV. This is not something I recommend for anyone else to do. Ferrets smell like piss. At altitude, ferrets smell worse than piss. And shoving your mouth full of sweettarts doesn't help you ignore the stench.

For the second time this year, I got a "bad vibe" from returning to a place that I had recently left.

I read about 400 or so pages of Dan Simmons' Ilium. Simmons is the author of my favorite science fiction novel of all time, Hyperion, and he certainly isn't disappointing this go around.

I saw someone I thought I knew for a split second. It was weird... it was like an electrical shock was sent through my sinuses and my awareness felt almost omniscient... but only for a second. I regret not taking a second look (I would have, but my origin flight was 2 hours late, and I only had 20 minutes to get to my connecting flight) .

I think I finally realized that I'm afraid of flying. Odd thing for a paratrooper to be afraid of.

I like my cats more than I thought I did. Strangely, I starting missing them before I even left Wilmington.

I had to turn in a cigarette lighter at a security checkpoint. Naturally, I didn't object and handed it over. Later, I realized that the particular lighter (a red Bic) had been with me in Arizona, Arkansas, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and probably California, New York, Oklahoma, and Washington. I know it's just a lighter, but throwing away such a loyal travel companion seems wrong somehow.

Money has officially become the most important thing in life to me. This is temporary, of course, but circumstance has prompted money's ascent up the "what matters to me" ladder.

I wrote this silly blog.

I'm going to sleep.

And that's today in a nutshell.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Hurricanes, Shmurricanes

Having recently returned to North Carolina, I am somewhat inundated with the worry that accompanies the one major natural phenomenon that Carolinians tend to worry about: hurricanes.

Supposedly, this year is going to be one helluva hurricane season. To this I say, "bullshit."

Let's back up a bit. As everyone who undoutedly watches the NFL knows (specifically, New Orleans Saints games), in 2005, Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast, fucking a whole lotta shit up and displacing a whole lotta people. There were one or two other slightly damaging hurricanes that year (Rita, I think, was one of them), and Al Gore pundits the world over hailed these storms as strong evidence that Global Warming is real and here to stay.

So, as fans of An Inconvenient Truth, hurricane experts in 2006 predicted that 2006 would be an even worse hurricane season than 2005. You know, since hurricanes are essentially created by heat energy stored in the Atlantic Ocean, and since Global Warming was undoubtedly a fact, 2006 would kick the East Coast's ass.

To that I said, "bullshit." Yeah, I can't prove I said that, but everyone who knows me well knows I said it, so fuck off. At any rate, historically speaking, back-to-back whopper hurricane seasons are a rarity, so I was just going off of that fact. To that end, I was right. 2006 was pretty wimpy.

So, the Global Warming hurricane experts are claiming that 2007 is going to be that "Global Warming Proving" hurricane season. As evidence, they are pointing to that early storm that occured prior to the official start of hurricane season, as well as that second storm that happened almost immediately after the officail start.

To that I say, "bullshit." See, I'm of the opinion that the Earth knows how to take care of itself, despite the damage that we are causing to it, and I'm of the opinion that the early storm was a way to dump the excess heat energy in order to AVOID a kick-ass hurricane season.

Of course, I could be proven wrong in a matter of months, but I doubt I will be. Yes, we're undoubtedly going to have some strong hurricanes... I'm not claiming that... but I'm fairly certain that we're not going to have the "hurricane season to end all hurricane seasons" just yet.

And for those of you liberal environmentalists cursing my writing right about now, I'm not claiming that we're not damaging the environment. In fact, I KNOW we're fucking up our planet, and we need to "go green" in order to help preserve it. I'm just not sold on Global Warming just yet.

Lick me... and vote Clint Eastwood for President.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Clint Eastwood for President

Okay, given that the "blogosphere" is rife with a bunch of morons touting political omniscience, I figured I'd add my two worthless cents.

Yes, you read the title of the blog correctly: I nominate Clint Eastwood for President.

Seriously, think about it. He's been a Mayor, so he has some political experience. He owns or partially-owns several businesses (many non-film-related), so he has corporate experience. He's been in the Army (as an E-6, I believe), so he has military experience. He's a self-proclaimed "libertarian," but acts more as either a moderate conservative or a moderate liberal, depending on the issue at hand. He even speaks Italian, and is certainly more knowledgeable about the rest of the world than our current President was when he first took office.

And besides, what ignorant anti-American terrorist would even think once about attacking us if Dirty Harry was our leader?

Hmm...

Monday, June 18, 2007

Randomly Random Randomness (it's June)

So, now that the Anaheim Ducks are NHL champions, everyone is offering their suggestions concerning how to fix hockey's "problems." I was going to do the same, but I don't want to seem like a biter, so I'll wait a week or two.

I bought the book, Thermopylae. I guess 300 wasn't enough carnage for me.

My ankle is killing me. So are some of my toes. Don't ask.

The San Diego Padres are hanging on to first place... somehow.

The Silent Hill series of video games has always been pretty effective at scaring me. The Silent Hill movie was extremely effective at putting me to sleep.

Before anyone touts the "worst movie in the world," go rent Invincible (the one with Billy Zane, not Mark Wahlberg), because THAT is the worst movie in the world.

By the way, the secret to having a good "bad movie" night is to make sure that the movies you pick have at least one redeemable quality. But, hey, at least we had somebody who was good at mixing drinks (thanks, Zoe).

Long drives at night kick ass. Therapy in motion. Until you run over a raccoon, anyway.

I am most certainly moving again in 30 days. Where to is still a mystery, but I am most certainly moving again in 30 days.

I'm watching The Queen and I must reiterate something I've stated many times: Helen Mirren is hot.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

College For Everyone Sucks

A year or so ago, I learned of the existence of a post-doctoral program at an internationally-reknown American university. Apparently, PhDs are no longer the measure of who's an expert in a particular field. This phenomenon has happened before, of course. We all know that, decades ago, associate and bachelor degrees amounted to a whole hell of a lot more than they do today.

Now, however, it's the master's degree that usually dictates where in the workplace a recent college grad gets to start working. Thanks to the liberal propensity of wanting "college for everyone," the lower degrees have been devalued, almost to the point of being as almost as worthless as a high school diploma.

Of course, the conservatives/capitalists hold just as much to blame for this evolution of degree valuation as the liberals. After all, it is they that insisted on keeping the American post-secondary education system based on a business. College itself, obviously, is one huge money-making industry.

Still, every time an accomplishment becomes worth just a little bit less than it used to be, it tends to piss me off. Whether it's education, military (oh, boy... look how the military gives away and creates new medals to give away just to make their servicemembers feel better), or sports, devaluing something just plain sucks.

Many, many years ago, colleges were there to separate the intellectually egalitarian from the intellectually elite. Today they're there to continue the educations of people who are obviously underserved by the public primary and secondary education systems. Yes, there are a whole shitload of issues within this issue, and there's no way I'm even going to try to get into them all, but the end result is the same: college degrees continue to lose their value.

I say, "Fuck that."

We have, inarguably, the best college and university system in the world. We have, inarguably, one of the worst public primary and secondary school systems in the world. The catch-22 here is that, if we continue to devalue our degrees in the name of "everyone gets to go to college," we're going to lose our leg-up on the rest of the world.

Fix the public school system. Make college harder to get into. Get rid of some of these ridiculous, bullshit colleges that exist only to make money. Make our degrees worth something. Fucking Hell.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Los Angeles Traffic

Everyone knows that a shitload of new miles of road are about to be planted through California, particularly the headache areas of Los Angeles, San Diego, and the Bay Area. This is, clearly, a good idea intent on alleviate a lot of the fucked up traffic in these metro areas. Unfortunately, I'm thinking it's not going to make much of a difference.

Think about this... other than that really weird disappearance of freeway lanes between Orange County and Los Angeles County, the number of lanes on the 5, the 405, etc., doesn't really seem to be the problem. I'm actually of the opinion that there are plenty enough freeway lanes through Southern California. The bottlenecks (other than the one mentioned above) don't seem to be the interstates at all, it's the fucking exit ramps.

Seriously, how many times have you driven through SoCal and made decent time in the center or far left lanes. Yes, I understand you're still moving way under the speed limit, but take a look at the far right lanes... the ones that lead to off ramps taking you to Pico, Santa Monica, Olympic, whatever. THEY'RE ALL FUCKING BACKED UP.

And why? Well, shit, most of them only have one exit lane. If you're lucky, there might be two. What Los Angeles needs are off ramps that are two to three lanes wide. Yes, this isn't going to solve all the problems, as 3+ million people in one area is going to lead to bad traffic regardless, but damn... instead of worrying about those two or three spaghetti bowl interchanges, start worrying about those smaller bottlenecks called off-ramps. If people can get off the interstates quickly and efficiently, they won't be stuck on the interstate, backing it up, slowing down the other six lanes of traffic.

Of course, I don't really know much about urban or highway planning, but this sure as shit makes sense to me.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Oh, Those Anaheim Ducks...

For the first time ever, all three of my favorite professional sports teams are kicking ass (I don't have an NBA team I root for, though I lean toward the Los Angeles Clippers). The Padres made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time last year (and look to make it again), the Chargers owned the best regular season record in the NFL last year, and the Anaheim Ducks... well, the Ducks are now in possession of the Stanley Cup.

Of course, most of you assholes don't give a shit about hockey, the best team sport in the world, but, hey... the Ducks are NHL champions.

I have to admit, I was a little miffed when the new owners decided to change the Mighty Ducks to just the Ducks (even though I initially thought "Mighty Ducks" was lame when the team was first created), but keeping Wild Wing as the mascot and getting off to a fast, kick-ass start this season quieted my grumblings. A slow-down in the middle of the season almost started me back up, but as I was in a transitional phase, I didn't really feel like complaining about hockey.

Last night, however, led by the Niedermayer brothers, Chris Pronger, Teemu Selaane, and uber-goal tender Jean-Sebastian Giguere, the Ducks became the first West Coast NHL champions since the pre-NHL Vancouver Millionaires and Seattle Metropolitans.

What can I say? Southern California kicks ass.

P.S. I apologize to those who received drunken text messages and phone calls at rather inconvenient hours. Then again, since my hockey team is clearly better than yours, you deserved it.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Movie Sequels We All Want to See

I was talking to a friend the other day and, as usual, the topic of conversation shifted to comic books (we're both comic dorks) and to movies (also both movie geeks). Given the current slate of movies out there, sequels and trilogies came up. And while we agree that most films should just be left alone (The Matrix), many deserve sequels.

And so, a list of sequels that you know we all want to see (oh, yes, you know it).

DMD2. Think about it... Morgan Freeman going all psycho, digging up Jessica Tandy, and then working out his psychoses by driving around a dead woman. In fact, that could be the title: Driving Miss Daisy 2: Driving Around a Dead Woman. Catchy? Yep. Intriguing? Oh, fuck yeah. Blockbuster hit? Hollywood, you'd better listen.

Star Wars: Episode Seven: Revenge of the Cloned Returned Jedi. Come on, now... only morons (all billion+ of them) were actually satisfied with the prequel trilogy. We need a good movie, not written or directed by George Lucas, to rid the bad taste in the mouths of people who actually have more than half a brain. Besides, now that Harrison Ford has practically disappeared from the big screen (Indiana Jones notwithstanding), what the fuck are any of the original cast doing?

ET2. It's been how many years since that little long-necked fucker went home? Well, come on back, dickhead. I know you're craving some Reese's.

My Big Fat Greek Divorce. Admit it, the original charmed the shit out of you. And, hell, it grossed more than $240 million domestically. How about we add a charming, funny, touching, and totally realistic ending and find out how the two split their estate?

War of the Worlds 2. Not the greatest Spielberg film, but I really want to find out exactly how a space-faring alien race could be so stupid as to not figure in bacteria and viruses in their galaxy-conquering plan.

Gone With the Wind 2. Yeah, I know about that Scarlett TV movie, but we need a proper theater sequel. One in which a pissed off Rhett shows back up, bitch slaps Scarlett, and sues her for half of Tara. Oh, and says the line, "I lied, I do sort of give a damn."

Feel free to post your own suggestions.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

In My Element

As much as I hate to admit it, North Carolina is a rather big part of me. I mean, shit, I've been here on and off since 1996. And while I can't really stand the Fayetteville/Fort Bragg area, I can't deny feeling a small sense of home there. And, yes, it's no secret that I love Wilmington.

All that said, I love Southern California even more, but therein lies the problem. Over the last decade-plus, my operational network has shifted from the West Coast to the East Coast. What am I talking about? Well, let me lay it out in terms of what I like to call "just desserts."

Okay, for those of you that know, I embarked on a bit of revenge late last year. My favorite enemy dealt me a nice one to the junk, and, admittedly, I'm still reeling a little bit from it. It's really not a big deal anymore, however, and as far as I'm concerned, it's water under the bridge. My favorite enemy was smart about things and made sure she didn't deliver a mortal blow until she was all the way across the country.

Regardless, I tried to get back at her anyway. The problem is that, even though my "operational network" was in place, I was not, and money becomes very important when one is not there to oversee something personally. And, as fight would have it, my favorite enemy took care of my "play money" before she took off. Yes, some of you know of the "other funds" I have access to, but I'm really not allowed to use those for personal ventures.

Long story short, she was smart, very smart, and ultimately the desire to end her was replaced by a strange desire to see her again. Weird, I know, but that's what happens when you work for the government for nine years.

So, in summary: operations intact, funding not.

But, here I am back in North Carolina and the subject of another attempt at being put down. Problem here (for the antagonist) is that I'm here, and so is he. My network is here, and so is he. No more cryptic phone calls to my friends and acquaintances... I can go see them in person. On top of that, I can go see "him" in person. And trust me, "he" isn't going to like that.

Ah, the good old days. Off to war with an enemy well within reach. I am, no doubt this time, in my element, and I can't help but smile a little.

Have a nice day.

Irreview, Book Review: The Nutshell Technique

I have, to date, read well over two dozen books on screenwriting and its related mediums (theatre, specifically).  While most - if not all -...