Philosophy, Psychology, Nerdisms, Writing from the Trenches

Generalities

A Word on Oversharing or Step Away from the Playlist

Today, someone started following one of my playlists on Spotify. I’m not sure if there is an established standard reaction to this. Should I be honored? Is it an honor? Should I be insulted that so few people are following my playlist?

Regardless of how I’m supposed to feel, I’ll share how I did feel.

Slightly horrified.

Someone is following one of my playlists. MY playlist. My PLAYLIST.

MY.

PLAYLIST.

Do you know how long it has taken me to cultivate this playlist?

Years.

Eons of listening to Pandora, days of hunting through Spotify playlists, hours of sifting through b-sides and YouTube bootlegs to find that which I desire most: a playlist that encompasses everything I want to listen to at any given time. This is mixtape gold, my friends. Mixtape gold without the need to limit the time to some arbitrary cassette tape length. A mixtape with a shuffle button. Every song ready to be played at maximum volume and belted out into the void.

And someone else can just…listen to it.

And, while I don’t take umbrage at this person and her clearly impeccable taste, there’s something about it that feels like such a violation.

This list is full of music I listen to when writing. It’s full of guilty pleasures and contemplative musings. It’s a look into my inner psyche that I’m not sure I want the world knowing about. When someone follows my playlist, I can’t explain myself. I can’t tell you why this song made it over another. I need to be able to tell you why!

It’s a lost art, the mixtape. It’s too bad it’s a lost art, because nowadays, our brushes are so much more sophisticated. Now everyone can see this thing that you poured a little bit of your soul into. In a world of oversharing, my playlist must be mine and mine alone.

After all, the mixtape can define you.


Just say “no” to snow cones

Snow cones are a southern thing. Should that be a capital? A Southern thing? Yes. That looks more Paula Deen-ee.

When I first moved to Texas, the kids in class with me talked about snow cone stands. Which one was the best, which one was adequate, and which ones to avoid all together.

My Yankee brain didn’t understand this. What’s the big whup with snow cones? Any Northerner who has left a can of pop in the garage in January…homemade snow cone.

Now, ice cream. Ice cream I get and ice cream is something the North does right. I don’t care what your personal Southern ice creamery is, but I put it up against Sherman’s in South Haven, MI any day of the year.

Well, that’s my rant about snow cones. And that’s why I drew this picture (which is mostly traced from the Internet) for ice cream, not snow cones.

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Bobby is Bobby Drake AKA Iceman from the X-men. I wish this was a t-shirt.


TMI Minute Episode 7 | Hunger Games Theme Park

It’s Tuesday and time for a new episode of the TMI Minute.

Written by Joe Neuburger and I.
Performed by Afton Quast, Anthony Fanelli, and Rachel Butera


Remembering NaNoWriMo and Trying to Inspire Others

A friend of mine, Briana Hansen, is vlogging her National Novel Writing Month journey. I’m being supportive, as you should be ifRemembering NaNoWriMo and Trying to Inspire Others someone you know is doing it. It’s tough. It’s hard. You need a support structure.

I have the added benefit of having done it myself.

My journey is atypical. The way I write is different from others (everyone’s writing is different). I write novels by hand and I don’t set pen to paper unless I know what the story is, who the characters are, and where it’s going. I spend most of my waking moments planning.

So, when someone says, write a novel in a month, it’s easy. If I have one ready.

My NaNoWriMo experience was a class assignment in college. I finished in 8 days. The whole class hated me. Everyone finished by the end of the month. So, from someone who wrote 55,000 words in 8 days, let me tell you how I did it.

1. Stop worrying

55,000 words is not a novel. These days, a novel is between 75,000 and 100,000. So, writing the NaNoWriMo’s requisite 50,000 is not a whole novel: it’s the bones and muscles without the flesh and clothing. Don’t worry so much about what it looks like. When you reach your goal, set it aside. You can always come back to it later, flesh it out, and dress it up. This is not a polished product. That’s what revision is for.

2. Just go.

Don’t check your word count every ten minutes. Don’t look at the clock every hour. This is a marathon. It’s going to take time. If you’re on a roll, but you’ve already written for your two hours, keep going. Why stop? When you do stop, stop in the middle so you can pick up where you left off and get right back into your flow.

3. There’s no such thing as writer’s block. Unless there is.

There will be a time (maybe more than once) when you sit down with your hands over the keys and you have no idea what comes next. The truth behind writer’s block is that it’s self-doubt rearing it’s ugly head. If you want to do it in 8 days, you turn off your inner editor and squash self-doubt with the power of will (not really; you squash it with the power of blind, speeding momentum). When self-doubt threatens your word count, sit it down and give it a talking to.

Trust your characters. Trust your plot. Trust everything.

Trust that you can always change it later.

4. Ride the wave

Coming from someone who’s written five of them and knowing people who have written more, writing a novel is an emotional roller coaster. Briana is still in the honeymoon period. She’s in love with the idea, she’s in love with the process, she’s in love with everything around it.

There will come a time when you hate it with such utter contempt you can remember why you decided to do it in the first place.

This is natural. Ride the wave. It WILL drag you down, but don’t worry. You’ll get through it. The process of writing a book looks a lot like the hero’s journey. You have a time when the walls are closing in, you have your own dark night of the soul about your project. Remember, at the end, you get to bring your holy grail back to the villagers. And, you’re never the same after you finish.

5. Support

Don’t do this alone. Seriously. Even if it’s just one friend, get a support structure in place. Writing a book is like being in a relationship: sometimes, you need someone you can vent to.

That’s what I got for all you NaNoWriMo kids. I wish I could have joined you this round, but time does not allow me to.

What are your tips for NaNoWriMo? Tell me about your journey in the comments! And, if you are going through it alone, check out Briana’s vlog and comment.


The TMI Minute | Episode 4 – Dogs in the Machine

Here’s a new episode of the show I write and produce with Joe Neuburger and Julian Clark.


Agents of SHIELD Pilot Review? Analysis? Post about me watching it?

I unapologetically have no time to watch TV when it airs. So, it’s rather surprising that I was able to watch Agents of SHIELD last Agents of SHIELD Phil Coulsonnight.

But, if you know me, perhaps not that surprising. Because I love Agent Coulson. I had a small twinge of jealousy during Avengers when he said there was a cellist in Portland. I nearly ripped my theatre seat out of the ground when Loki stabbed him in the back. I hung on through the movie, thinking, “No body, no death,” the reality of action movies, but the movie ended.

And, seemingly, Coulson ended with it.

Now, as anyone knows, Coulson is back and as quippy as ever. And he comes bearing conspiracy.

The pilot episode explains Coulson’s reappearance as Nick Fury faking our favorite agent’s death to get the Avengers to work as a team. This hypothesis is icky. If Coulson’s death was a fake, it’s ultimately meaningless, considering everything that Coulson stands for. However, Maria Hill and Doc Shepard (Firefly guy) hang on Coulson’s resurrection a little too long. So long, in fact, that we know there’s something rotten in the state of Strategic Homeland Initiative, Enforcement and Logistics Division.

The general agreement is that Agent Phil Coulson of Agents of SHIELD is a life model decoy. I’m not placing my bets on that, but it’s certainly possible.

Any way, the thing that I really wanted to talk about was the definition of heroism. io9.com posed this in their biggest unanswered questions about Agents of SHIELD:

Are all superheroes essentially psychotic?

This seems to be one major theme of the episode — Michael gets superpowers and uses them to help people, just like the Avengers. But he resists doing the whole “costumed hero” thing when Skye suggests it… until he starts to go insane due to the tech in his arm. Then he suddenly starts talking about being a hero, and his mean factory foreman being “the bad guy.” And he tells the nice doctor lady that this is his origin story. So… is the whole idea of being called to heroism just a form of psychosis? Is it essentially sociopathic? At the end of the episode, though, Michael says “it matters who I am,” and Agent Coulson turns that around into a thing where Michael’s real chance for heroism is self-sacrifice — saving the people in the train station from his own spontaneous combustion. (And then luckily, it doesn’t come to that, thanks to Fitzsimmons.)

This is an interesting idea and, while I won’t bet on the true nature of the current Phil Coulson, I would wager that Agents of SHIELD will be addressing a lot of the stigma around heroism. The tagline, after all, is “Not all heroes are super.”

Part of my love of Phil Coulson is this weird grey area he exists in. He’s definitely a hero. In Avengers, he’s the hero that the super-powered aspires to be. He faces a “god” because it’s the right thing to do. At the same time, Coulson absolutely loves his job. Is he just following orders?

It’s sort of a Yoda moment. Coulson is a person who DOES. He doesn’t try. He’s gets shit done. And that, above most else, is why I love him so.House Cornell

Anyway, I would purpose some major unanswered questions of my own:

Will Phil Coulson be in the next Avengers movie?

You can’t just ignore the fact that Coulson is back. While the Marvel cinematic universe just got a little bigger, it’s still very insular. Coulson was the go-to guy on ALL the heroes. He was Thor’s contact, the first man on the job when Tony Stark started suiting up, and even saved Pepper a few times in the first Iron Man film. Not to mention JARVIS could have out with the big secret within 20 seconds of half-assed hacking.

How will the heroes react to it? 

They don’t need Coulson anymore. But, if they stick with the cover story that Nick Fury is a liar, well, that’s not real great for team cohesiveness.

Where are the super-powered?

A lot of people wanted the Michael character to be Luke Cage. And, that’s not a bad tactic, introducing Marvel characters less likely to get their own movies into the television universe. However, my thought is that we won’t see any super powers. We’ll be seeing how people in a world with the superpowered deal with not having them. And, that’s pretty much how the series has been billed. Maybe we’ll get these characters later, but I doubt we’ll see supers in the first season outside of artificial ones.

What does this mean for the cinematic universe?

In the comics, all of the Marvel heroes exist in the same universe. X-men, Avengers, Spider-man, they’re all kicking it around in the same world. With 20th Century Fox holding on to X-men and Sony with the iron grip on Spider-man, who knows when these properties will be back together on-screen. Stop celebrating the Batman/Superman movie, give me Spider-man/Human Torch or Wolverine vs. Hulk. One can only hope that competing companies will play nice for the sake of Marvel’s success. But realistically, Coulson might have to die again to make that happen.


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