Anaranjado Hombre

•September 22, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Los Angeles: where art and poverty coordinate their color palettes.

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Up And Over

•September 22, 2017 • Leave a Comment

By means unknown, the pop-up canopy that we’d staged on our side patio found its way into the front yard, two legs bent so badly that it was easier to break them off than to try to bend them back into shape. Whether this was accomplished by natural phenomenon or by human effort remains unclear, but really the only way for a canopy of that size and unweildiness (is that a word? It is now.) to get into the front yard would be to go up and over the house. 
I suppose we will probably never know the truth. If it was the result of human mischief, there didn’t seem to be evidence of any other trouble- nothing stolen, damaged, or otherwise disrupted. We set up a motion sensor camera just to be safe. And if it was the wind, then it was a very selective wind that choose one single article of patio furniture to muck about with, ignoring the patio umbrella and the bags of recycling entirely. 

We’ve become much more sensitive to unfamiliar sounds since the incident. In the morning, we spent ten valuable morning minutes trying to determine where that cat sound was coming from. We never did find it- presumably it was a cat somewhere in the neighbor’s yard on the other side of a tall wall. And even a feral cat doesn’t quite explain the strange booming sound that we both heard and each blamed the other for making. 

Strange things afoot…

Small Season

•September 21, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Looks like Halloween, smells like Christmas.

The tangerines were not, strictly speaking, for the office. They were leftover from a new client meeting, as if healthy snacks would be the deciding factor in the decision-making process of choosing a payroll company. Who knows, maybe it made all the difference. 

The bottom line, was that there were cuties leftover and a bowl full of them appeared in the lunchroom to signify that they were up for grabs. They looked very scenic there- glossy orange fruits in a blue bowl on a yellow table. The one on the very top looked so much like a tiny pumpkin that I took it, even though I didn’t plan to eat it. 

At present, I’m making an effort to mind what I eat. I’ve put on weight that I’m not happy with (although, admittedly, I couldn’t tell you where this new weight is to be found except on the bathroom scale- my clothes still seem to fit just fine). So I’ve resorted to the dreadful task of counting my calories. I hate counting calories- what a way to take all the fun out of the delight of eating. But when I do it, I quickly realize where the weight is creeping in from: I just eat too darn much. If I’m supposed to be keeping myself to two thousand calories then even my modest breakfast-and-lunch routine puts me more than halfway to my limit. And dinner is easily the biggest meal of the day: I married a man with an Italian philosophy of cooking and portion sizes that regrettably does not correspond to my daily activity level in a way that is likely to keep me svelt.

Anyway, so it’s a tangerine. I’ll probably be ok. The trick isn’t to say ‘no’ it’s to say ‘not right now’ so I set it aside for tomorrow. It’ll be a nice treat for the end of the week.

Buildmind

•September 20, 2017 • Leave a Comment

It’s not a construction site until there’s a crane- otherwise it’s just a hole in the ground.


I’ve tried several times to sit down and write this post; and obviously failed to build enough momentum to gain any traction. It’s not just writing either: it took me a long time to wrench my mind around to the task of cutting payroll- a task that requires zero inspiration, but which does require a certain singlemindedness. 

If I’m continuing to map my mental states, then today’s mind was rather flighty and distractable. I didn’t find myself going deep into interludes of daydream, but rather flipping through the loose and ruffled pieces of my memory just to see what shook loose. Most of the afternoon involved having the second chorus and bridge of a song stuck in my head on endless loop. 

If I’m honest with myself, this even began before I got out of bed: somehow my internal clock set itself backwards by about two hours and woke me in the wee hours with absolute certainty that the alarm would be going off at any minute.

Any minute. 

Seriously, like right now.

Now.

Now it’ll go off…

Now.

After about forty minutes of this game I went ahead and looked at the display on my phone. I had nearly an hour to go. I tried to go back to sleep but my mind was neither sleepy nor tired and was not prepared to pretend for my benefit. So I just lay there with my eyes closed waiting for time to pass. 

It’s hard for me to tell what my mind is accomplishing with this mindset. I get the sense that it is hard at work rewiring itself, but on the surface I don’t really seem to be very productive. Maybe the reason for this mental distraction will become clear down the line. It’s the mental equivalent of a construction site: For now, it’s just a lot of earth moving, but eventually a building will spring out of the earth like it was the plan all along. 

Found, Not Finished

•September 19, 2017 • 1 Comment

Hey, where you been?

The story of my life: finding my own unfinished works. 

The good news is that I found the sketchbook that I was looking for; the one with a half finished graphic novelette in it that I’d packed away in 2012 without giving it a second thought. It crossed my mind a few weeks ago when I was rifling through my memories in search of useful characters for a new story that I’m working on. 
Meet Lou:

Hi, Lou.

Lou owns a gas station in the middle of nowhere. I needed a character stationed in the middle of nowhere who could fix a flat tire, so I dredged Lou out of my memory and wrote him into the new story where he fit just about perfectly (the new story takes place in Colorado and Lou was originally from Wyoming, but… You know, details). In this new story, Lou was a minor character- walking on and walking off in a single chapter, but having brought him back to the surface of my mind I was suddenly overcome with the impulse re-read that unfinished story in which Lou was the hero. 
It was a week or two before I unearthed the box of old sketchbooks where the story lived, but I finally managed to haul it to the surface:

Yes, the last time I worked on this MySpace was still a thing.

The good news is: the work stands up pretty well to the test of time- I like how the story builds and the artwork still stands up in layout and execution. I only winced once or twice reading it, which for an artist is pretty good since we tend to be our own worst critic. The bad news is the story cuts out abruptly just as it is approaching the crisis. In other words, I’ve done all the heavy lifting of building a world and introducing characters then quit before actually telling a story. Worse still, I have only the faintest memory of where I was going with it. 

Thanks, Lou, you’re a mensch.

The back of the sketchbook offers a few notes, which may be enough for me to recreate my thought process, but I may have to just feel my way through the remainder of the story page by page. There are worse ways to work: after all, the project began when I decided that I was going to draw one page each day on my commute home on the bus. And here I am, one again commuting by bus. Maybe this is where the muse lives. 

So I’m considering finishing the story as best as I can. Once I have a complete arc I’ll share the whole thing here… But at the rate I work, it might be another ten years…

Sorry to keep you waiting, Lou.

Storage Schlep

•September 18, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Out of curiosity, I tried- and failed- to do a bridge. A bridge is like a backbend, but instead of doing it from a standing position and bending over backwards, you lie on the floor on your back and push yourself up on your hands and feet. Or try to. Turns out that I’m both too stiff and too weak in upper body strength to accomplish this.
I’m a little bit disappointed in myself about this: I was never very bendy, but I could generally manage a bridge pretty handily. So the loss of even this minimal bit of flexibility is disappointing. I really need to limber up. And build some strength. As it is, though, I’m lucky to just go running once a week. Doubly lucky this weekend since I got to go running twice- and the weather was beautiful for it instead of being scorchingly hot. But mostly my life is very sedentary and it’s starting to catch up with me. 

This weekend, at least, was quite physically active. The goal of Sunday was to begin moving stuff into our new storage shed. At present, much of our ‘storage’ (i.e. junk too good too get rid of) is warehoused in the Curmudgeonly Lion’s workshop. Considering that he has recently discovered the delights of OfferUp, Letgo, and Facebook marketplace, He has been happily outfitting himself with secondhand tools of all kinds, and the workshop has also been packed wall to wall with toys that he doesn’t have space to play with. 

So the goal of the day was to get one shelving unit extracted from the workshop and assembled in the shed. This involved unloading it, box by box, disassembling it down to the rails, dusting everything, reassembling the shelves in the shed, and then moving all the boxes a second time. We succeeded in getting everything into the shed, and the shelves assembled, but nothing is yet organized. Or on the shelves, for that matter, since we decided we wanted to stabilize things against earthquakes before loading the shelves again. But progress was made. There is now an empty spot that I can point to and say: that’s what I accomplished this weekend. 

I had an ulterior motivation to get those boxes moved: a week or so ago I remembered a sketchbook in which I’d started writing a graphic novelette that suddenly I had to look at again. I’m not sure why it came to mind, or what I expected to find in it, but I felt compelled to seek it out and it had to be in one of the boxes deeply entrenched in storage. I haven’t found it yet, but I was able to extract a few likely boxes where I might find it. Looks like I’ll have my work cut out for me tonight. 

Monster Chapter

•September 15, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Under construction.
It would be a lie to say that I haven’t done much writing this week; I just haven’t written much that I can post. Against my better judgement, I volunteered to submit pages to my writer’s group this week. Pages that were not already written. Pages that were proving to be extremely recalcitrant to put down on paper. Pages which I’d been laboring over for two weeks already. 

I was hoping that having a deadline would help prevent me from being too precious about it and just get it written. I think it has helped but I’m still grinding away at getting the words in order. 

I’m currently working on a novel, which is a change of pace from my recent screenwriting endeavors. I keep having to remind myself that this is a character driven piece, not a plot driven piece, and that I’m not limited to one hundred and twenty pages, but it’s a struggle to overcome those instincts that I’ve worked hard to cultivate. The present chapter is a bit of a stand alone episode in the larger narrative: it takes place in a town that the characters will leave behind with a number of walk-on characters that we will likewise never see again. But they’re important characters for this chapter and have to be set up and torn down in record time and with enough closure that readers don’t find themselves asking what happened to them. 

All in all, this particular chapter has been among the most frustrating bits of writing that I’ve worked on in a long time. I already had the beginning: a phone conversation to follow up on a story thread that was already introduced, and to set the scene in a new location: a lonely, small town on the edge of nowhere. The characters arrive because of a flat tire, and are just passing through, but are trapped there for the night because it is the Fourth of July and the mechanic can’t get the parts he needs until someone goes into the city to get them. That much of the setup was easy and obvious. 

The end of the chapter came out next in one big rush: the characters flee town in the dead of night after clashing with a local evangelist preacher and riling up the townsfolk. And they are also at each other’s throats: one character sells off another’s possessions in order to get enough cash to get all of them to Chicago, setting up a dynamic of codependence and betrayal and petty revenge that is going to play out for a lot of the story. So there’s a lot of important setup that needs to happen in a short amount of time. 

It’s turning into a monster chapter, but it’s not a sequence that would work if it were broken up into two. It’s a single, heavy, volatile unit. The chapter equivalent of a plutonium molecule. So I’ve fallen into the trap of writing with my editor brain on. The story is only coming out in frustrating, dis-ordered pieces that have to be assembled and reassembled as each new bit of information comes to light. I’ve second guessed every choice, then second guessed every second guess. I’m not sure if what I have works, or if I’m writing myself into a swivet. 

I’m hoping that some fresh eyes can give me new perspective. I got the pages as far as I could, and sketched in the goals of the missing scene (ex: we find out that character A has the hots for character B, meanwhile character C gets into a fight with character D) and sent the pages off to the writing group.  Maybe I just need to take a step back in order to move forward. 

So anyway, that’s my excuse for being radio silent all week. 

 
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