Wednesday, October 17, 2012

THE RECORD KEEPER, 4,100 words

I'm very sorry if you're here expecting to read the short story, "The Record Keeper." I have indeed removed it from this blog, as I am seeking publishing opportunities for it!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Then and now, continued: a comparative look at exposition over the years

I'm about halfway done with my short story assignment for class, and I'm having a fantastic time. It feels so good to write.

The first part I posted has been altered a bit based on some invaluable feedback; if you were among the ones who commented on the last post (either on deviantART or here), let me say thank you. I learn so much from you all; your input makes me a better writer overall. The fact that anyone is willing to take time out of their busy schedules to help me grow as a writer is one of the biggest compliments I could ever receive. Every word means the world to me. So thank you.

This will be in the same vein as last post. I'm going to take the second half of the introduction I wrote in 2009 and post it, with the rewrite beneath it. As always, any and all feedback is appreciated!

****

Original, dated January 2009:

The receiver clicked and the sound of static silence rippled from the earpiece. I hung the phone up and wiped my fingers on my pants, still unsure if the funeral was in the morning or the evening. Seven o'clock is uncommitted. It goes both ways.

I hate phone booths. This one was like every other one I had been in: the clammy, stale air that ruminated inside the booth reeked, though instead of donning the common dirty hobo odor, this one was much more reminiscent of two dollar hooker and nauseating perfume. An uneven layer of condensation clung to the walls and if I were feeling a bit more festive, I would have written all over them with the tip of my finger. But my mom had just died (four days ago, I kept telling myself) so I let them be. Besides, this particular phone booth already had its share of defilement. Each side of glass was riddled with amateur graffiti and crude drawings: a penis, random names looping in bastardized cursive, 'Mike wuz here.' Mike is everywhere. In the corner, the words 'Fuck me,' were written in bold black marker, with the latter word crossed out and replaced with 'you,' which was also crossed out and replaced with 'God.'

I shrugged the accordion door to the side and stepped out, pulling gloves from the back pocket of my pants and thrusting them on in a single, practiced motion. I've never cared much for the cold, but then again, my fingers and toes are always cold no matter what the season. Bad circulation. It's in my genes.

****

Rewrite, dated October 13, 2012:

The crack of his phone slamming against the switch hook is the last thing I hear before silence ripples into the earpiece. I hang up the pay phone and wipe my sweaty palms on my pants. My hands are shaking. I stand in the phone booth and stare at the bright yellow handset, replaying the conversation in my head over and over.

The dim halo of light above me flickers like it’s straight out of some cheesy horror flick. Stale air trapped inside the glass walls of the phone booth reeks of cheap hooker perfume. One side of glass has a crude drawing of a penis and the words, “Mike wuz here.” Mike is everywhere. In the bottom corner of the accordion door, the words “fuck you” are written in bold black marker; the latter word is crossed out and replaced with “me” and an accompanying phone number, which is also crossed out and replaced with “God.”

Before I leave, I make sure to check the return coin slot; when I was seven, I found three quarters at a subway station, which has always served as a personal justification for my habit since—even thirteen years later. But I don’t give a shit about quarters now, and I fully expect the slot to be empty. To my surprise, my forefinger stumbles over something that is decidedly not change. It’s smooth but textured, like dense paper. I feel around its oddly shaped edges for a couple seconds, unable to identify the object simply from touch. Then I pluck out my prize. A white puzzle piece.

As a child I’d made a pastime of watching my dad sort puzzle pieces on the cleared dining room table according to size, shape, and color, slowly working his way from the inside, out. Using the border was cheating. When he wasn’t looking I would steal important pieces and hide them in my pockets to see if he’d notice. I wanted him to scour the house looking for the pieces he couldn’t do without: a heavily made-up woman’s eye; the hour hand on the face of a melting Dali clock; New York City on a map of the United States. I’d had it all planned out: he would ask me to help him find it, I would save the day, and we would work on the rest of the puzzle together. But he’d never even so much as asked me when a piece went missing. Not a word. All of his puzzles remained incomplete, and I was left with a box full of important pieces that meant nothing without the others.

Unlike the ones I stole, the evenly white piece I turn over in my hand is underwhelming. Maybe it’s snow at the top of the Himalayan Mountains or the bottom right-hand corner of the Beatles’ White Album. Nothing special. I slip it into my jeans pocket, shrug the accordion door to the side, and step out.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Then and now: a comparative look at my writing over the years


For my next creative writing assignment, my classmates and I will be writing longer short stories--upwards of 15 pages, double-spaced (approx 3,500-4,000 words). Mine is due next Wednesday. Disappointed in my inexplicable lack of ideas over the past few weeks, I started to sift through some old work I'd posted years ago on my now mostly inactive deviantART account. There, I found an unfinished introduction of a piece I'd written from January 2009 called "It Goes Both Ways" and fell in love with it all over again. But as I read it, I wanted to make changes to it--and I wanted to finish it.

In rewriting the introduction, I am noticing that my style has changed quite a bit in the nearly four years that have passed. My sentences in general have become more concise (what I said in 500 words before is now condensed to half that) and I do feel like I have a firmer grasp on what it means to be a creative writer.

But I'd like to hear other opinions. Below are both versions of the introduction. If you'd like to help me out, here are some questions to think about while you're reading: Which one is more engaging, and why? Which one has more believable dialogue and character voice? Is the newer version too simplistic? Are you more sympathetic toward the narrator in one version over another? Any and all comments are encouraged--even if you prefer the original version! Honesty is the best policy, and believe me when I tell you I have a thick skin; I can take your critiques, and I welcome them. It's the only way I'll improve. Thanks for reading!

****

Original version, dated January 23, 2009:

"Your mother is dead." I could hear him breathing on the other end of the phone like he'd run all the way across Manhattan just to tell me. He hadn't. It happened four days ago. I'd read about it in the newspaper long before my family saw fit to tell me.

"Why did you call me this morning?" I said, chipping at the plum polish on my nail.

"Your mother is dead," he repeated. Each word was pronounced with more space between than was necessary, as if I couldn't understand it otherwise. Though it was admittedly better than having to put up with his screaming.

"I know."

There was a pause. He was piecing something together, like the puzzles he used to assemble when I was young. He would scatter the pieces on the cleared dining room table according to size, shape and color, slowly working his way from the outside, in. I stole one of the center pieces once, knowing with pleasure that his puzzle would never be complete without it.

"The funeral is tomorrow at seven."

"In the morning?"

"Shut your fucking mouth!" Sure as a gun, the screaming. His voice rose though just as quickly shrunk back, and he took to hissing through his teeth like the stray cat I nearly ran over last summer with my car. He still hasn't forgiven me for it, even though I feed him every day as my penance. I pulled the phone away from my ear to dull the noise, confused as to why he would be so upset over such a reasonable question. "You just…" he continued. His voice trailed off and he sighed. "72 East 1st Street. She would have wanted you to come." The last sentence was muffled and rushed and I still don't know if he actually said it but I would like to believe so. Every time I replay it in my mind, the more I'm convinced it's what he said.

The frantic tone in his voice meant that he was scrambling to hang up the phone. "Hey, dad." I didn't even know what I was going to say, but I didn't want him to hang up just yet. "Hey dad," I repeated.

"What?"

"Trevor died. Two months ago."

More heavy breathing on his side of the line. I was starting to wonder if it was interference from his cell phone rather than his breathing. Or maybe he took up smoking again.

The receiver clicked and the sound of static silence rippled from the earpiece. I hung the phone up and wiped my fingers on my pants, still unsure if the funeral was in the morning or the evening. Seven o'clock is uncommitted. It goes both ways.

*****

Re-write, dated October 9, 2012:


“Your mother is dead.” His accusatory tone strikes a nerve.

I clench my teeth. “Why’d you try to get a hold of me this morning?” I say, ignoring him. “My landlady wasn’t exactly thrilled to pass along your message.” I cradle the pay phone between my shoulder and ear so I can pick at my cuticles.

“Your mother is dead,” he repeats, following each word with a condescending pause like I’m too stupid to understand him otherwise.

“I know. Four days ago, right?” He doesn’t confirm or deny it. A small part of me hopes his silence is a manifestation of shame in knowing I’m well aware of how long he waited before contacting me. “When’s the funeral?” I ask.

“Tomorrow at ten sharp,” he says, like he’s setting up a goddamn business meeting.

“On a Tuesday?”

“Don’t you fucking start with me!” he shouts. I flinch and pull the receiver away from my ear; sure as a gun, the screaming. “I’m not dealing with this shit. Not today. For Christ’s sake, not today," he says, his voice shrinking into a sigh. I imagine him shaking his head with a hand resting on his forehead, forever in a state of disappointment. "Moravian Cemetery,” he continues. The reception starts to break up. “She would have wanted her son to come.”

Before I allow him the chance to hang up, I say, “Dad?”

Hesitation. “What?”

Without thinking, I say, “Simon’s dead too. Five months ago.” Shit.

The receiver clicks and static silence ripples into the earpiece. I hang the phone up and wipe my damp fingers on my pants. My hands are shaking.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Roundhouse, 750 words

I enrolled myself in an introductory fiction writing class this semester, and our first project is to write a "flash fiction" story (under 1,000 words) to workshop in the class.

This is the first concept that came to mind, so I went with it.

"Roundhouse" is a flash fiction story about a high school drop-out struggling to break life-changing news to his beloved little brother: he's skipping town and has to leave him behind.

I'd love any and all feedback; critique is much appreciated! Enjoy!


ROUNDHOUSE


The roundhouse has been abandoned for fifty years. Remnants of old, broken steam engines litter the floor of the dome-shaped building: wheels, smashed headlights, pistons, smokeboxes. Jumbled balloon letter graffiti on the walls are the only noticeable changes since the last time I've been here. Since the last time either of us have been here.

My little brother trails in behind me, loitering just outside the door as long as he can before finally taking the plunge inside. He shoves his hands in the pockets of an oversized sweatshirt that used to be mine and stares at the far wall across from us. A mound of broken green and brown glass extends along where the floor and wall meet.

I nudge Abby with my elbow, interrupting his trance.

"What's going on, Noel?" he says, glancing sidelong at me. Maybe he already knows. The kid's always been the smarter brother, thank God.

I don't respond and Abby doesn't nag me for an answer.

I kick a rusted tin can lying at my feet. It crashes into a smoke stack nearby, the metallic clang of the collision echoing all around us. A raven fusses at us from a rafter, fanning her wings and jerking her head back and forth atop a nest made of dead grass. When the noise subsides I hear her hatchlings chirruping.

I walk toward the center of the roundhouse and hoist myself up onto the circular turntable, a raised platform with a single railroad track spanning the center. I sit down on the piece of track. "I dropped out," I finally say.

Abby is staring at the glass on the floor again. He looks down, scuffing the tip of his sneaker on the floor. "I know."

"Yeah? Well, so much for the grand reveal."

"No—I mean, I didn't know. But I kinda figured, eventually." He shrugs. "You know, we haven't been here since the day dad left."

That day, Abby and I had filled our coats with all his empty beer bottles piled on the back porch and weedy lawn. We ran here without a second thought and threw them—one after the other—against the far wall until neither of us could breathe. We fell asleep on the turntable, exhausted. When we woke up the next morning we looked at each other and, without words, walked back to the house together. Mom didn't even know we were gone.
I still don't know why we came here that night. Maybe because we knew we could get away with it.

Abby starts to walk toward me. "You're leaving, aren't you?" he says.

Shit. He really is too smart. "Hey, that's not what I—"

"But you are, right?" His voice trembles.

I look away. "Mom's gonna kick me out anyway."

"Bullshit!"

"Abby, what do you want me to do? I can't stay here!"

When I look up again, Abby is right in front of me. His eyes are glassy and his fists are clenched. Without warning, he lunges at me. Swinging his arm, he punches me square in the jaw. Hard.  He hits me again in the same spot. I fall back onto the turntable in shock and, before I know it, Abby is on top of me, landing sharp blows on my face. I let him. But he doesn't let up and his hits get harder and harder. I try to throw him off me but his knees have my shoulders pinned.

Somewhere above us, the raven is screeching.

Abby loses steam quickly, as if just now realizing what he's done. He sits up and I shove him off me and onto the turntable.

"What the fuck, Abby!" I shout, touching my jaw.

He backs away from me. "God dammit!" he says to himself, his voice cracking. He curls into himself and clutches at his blond hair.

He doesn't speak for a long time. Neither of us moves. My head starts to throb and my jaw is already swelling. Blood drips from my nose and bottom lip. Finally, Abby mumbles, "I know you can't stay here, Noel. I know."

I wrap my arms around him and hold him as he chokes back sobs.

"I'm sorry," I say.

Later, we fall asleep in the roundhouse.

I wake up before the sunrise. Abby is still asleep. I lean down to kiss him on the forehead but stop myself. Not now. Shrugging off my coat, I drape it over him as gently as I can so I don't wake him. Without a word, I leave.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Everyone loves EMO-SHUNAL poetry, right? Wrong.

Today I accidentally stumbled upon an array of saved Google Docs from an old email account. Skimming the titles, one in particular named "antithesis" caught my eye. I clicked on it and found a poem I'd written in there about a year and a half ago. I only vaguely remember writing it. The poem is pretty poorly written, nonsensical, and overall a flop (read: emo-tastic), but I thought I'd share it just because.

antithesis


coat-hanger wires dangle from the ceiling
we watch them spin idly, synchronized
and the rain outside is dry
and empty
and perfect

the truth is that I love the trace of malaise
flickering at the base of my spine
when you’re with me
always with me
a simple complacency of mine
walking on sand made of sugar and eggshells
and crushed sleigh bells

I miss you (even though)
you make me so goddamn sad (even though)
I love you more than you know (even though)

you’re my antithesis
a truth I must have missed when you won me with your charm
and your love for everything but yourself
don’t get me wrong
you’ve done no wrong

but please don’t leave me (even though)
you should just leave me (even though)
you love me too, don’t you?

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Lindsey's got a gun: your thoughts?

Upon rewriting this chapter (in which, SPOILERS, the train Lindsey is on is derailed and he meets legendary Finch and his gang) I'm contemplating giving Linds a gun to defend himself. Originally all he has is a incision knife from his suitcase full of medical instruments--he's a med. student, afterall. But perhaps his sister shoved a gun into his hands before he ran away... Or perhaps he pilfers it from a dead body on the train after the derail. No, he doesn't know how to use it, but at the very least it could be amusing for Finch or a moment of "OH SHIT" as Finch swats it out of his hands or something, keeps it, and the gang later teaches Linds how to use it properly throughout the story. Something along those lines. Or is that too cliche?

Feel free to weigh in on this! I'd like to know opinions. Would it be more effective for Linds to be with only an incision knife? Or should he try to take matters into his own hands with something he's inexperienced with? Is a knife and a gun too much?

TL; DR: GUN OR NO GUN?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Chapter Two, first two-hundred words

Without further ado, here are the (rough) first two-hundred words of chapter two, and the first words from our main protagonist, Lindsey Madoc.

The Doctor
2nd Year of the Wren, 577

If I’m alive by the end of the day it’ll be by someone’s graces not my own. Despite all the lies I’ve been telling myself lately, I know it’s the truth—and honestly, the truth scares the shit out of me.

It’s intolerably hot in this rickety shambles of a train car, but the heat isn’t why I’m sweating. I can’t stop trembling. My bounty might as well be scrawled on my forehead; some no-good do-gooder must be waiting for the right moment to reap his reward. Any minute now.

I don’t know what I was thinking when I ran away this morning, but I do know cowardice played a part. It always does. Valdove may have had something to do with it too. I imagine her rotting in some prison cell beneath the Capital or being tortured for information of my whereabouts, and I hate her for what she’s done—for taking my place when I never asked her to. She has burdened me with guilt I can hardly bear. Dammit Val. God dammit.

If I can somehow live through this day, I swear to any living gods left I will do everything I can to get my sister back.

But for now—first things first—I run.

***

Thoughts? Opinions?  What do you think of Lindsey's voice? Any and all comments would be absolutely wonderful. :)

If you are interested in reading chapter one of Boot Hill in its entirety, feel free to do so here.

Guess who is officially writing again?

As of 4:30 PM on June 23, 2012, Boot Hill is officially in the process of being re-written.

I wrote a little over 800 words of totally new content today, which is the most I've done in god knows how long. Baby steps!

ALSO. TARRLOK AND NOATAK. Best ever. That is all.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

My thoughts on Avatar: The Legend of Korra thus far


Warning: TL;DR, spoilers and super nerdy rant.

Note: What I have written below is all personal opinion, and you're welcome to discuss/argue with me. Try to change my mind if you'd like. I'm open to other interpretations and justifications, because the way I'm seeing Korra isn't how I wanted to see it after I saw the first episode in April. :( I'm also not trying to make anyone feel bad who happens to love this show! I love(d) it too, and I'm trying to see past its flaws myself.

Let me preface this post by saying that I have really enjoyed most of Avatar: The Legend of Korra thus far. I still consider it one of the best animated shows being aired right now, even despite my criticisms. The world in which the story takes place is well-designed, gorgeous, and believable in an Earth-paralleled fantasy setting. I adore the steampunk vibe, and the technological achievements between the original series and Korra are awesome. The Avatar franchise as a whole sets the bar for intelligent, family-oriented, animated series, and I hope other studios look to it for future inspiration.

With that said and having just watched episode ten, I have to say that I'm starting to feel like the show simply isn't holding my interest like the original series did. Here is why.

1. Lack of satisfactory development from almost every character--Tarrlok, Tenzin, and Lin aside. After discussing this troubling realization with concurrent friends and fans, the only explanation we could come up with (barring poor writing, which I refuse to consider) is the pacing and comparatively short series length to the original. While the original Avatar series had plenty of "filler" material (especially in season one, yeesh), the series overall felt more complete. The occasional downtime allowed viewers to delve into the desires, needs, and fears of the characters--uninhibited by the shadow of a plot ready to swallow them up at any given moment. With Korra, the plot is constantly being shoved in our faces every second of each 23-minute installation, with little to no time for viewers to develop a bond with the characters. In this case, because of the two-season cap on this series, it would appear as though the writers had to make a choice: sacrifice the plot for character, or sacrifice the characters for plot--in which they clearly chose the latter. And it frustrates me like you wouldn't believe.

I'm especially disappointed with Bolin and Mako's lack of development. Ten episodes in and I still have no idea what Bolin or Mako want (other than to be pro-bending champions, which is fairly shallow and now totally irrelevant considering where the plot has taken them). This past episode had only a couple uninspired lines by Bolin. Hell, even the loathed Meelo had more screen time than Bolin, which is just plain enraging. More on my hatred for Meelo later.

2. Korra just isn't very engaging as a main character. To be fair, I didn't find Aang to be very engaging until well into season two, but there were other characters (such as Zuko, arguably the second main character of the series) who easily made it up for Aang's slow development. Don't get me wrong; I like Korra. I love her design and her tomboyish personality. Again, after ten episodes she hasn't made much progress. Next to none, really. She's weak, easily defeated, caught up in a laughable love triangle I couldn't give two shits about, and constantly causing more problems than solving them by her presence alone. In fact, at this point there is no reason she should even be in Republic City--she's currently not even being trained by Tenzin which was why she moved there in the first place. Realistically, she would have been sent away to a safe place as soon as her first interaction with Amon went awry, and surely after being kidnapped by Tarrlok. As an Avatar-in-training, the danger and risks are way too high for her to stay there. She can't defeat Amon; she has tried to stand up against him but has failed multiple times. She can't access the spirit world or the Avatar state yet. What can she do? She may as well be considered three regular benders in the body of one person as opposed to the Avatar, master of all four elements. Which makes her about as useless as a team of pro-benders in the face of extremely overpowered adversaries.

And as an obligatory side-note, I'll come out and say that Lin is way more interesting than all of the characters in Korra combined, excluding maybe Tarrlok or Amon. Though impossible for what the writers wanted with this series, I would have much rather seen a series with Lin as the main character. Alas.

3. The love triangle in this show is being dealt with poorly. I'll preface this statement by saying that I absolutely loathe love triangles for many reasons, the most relevant reason being that, more often than not, they are executed poorly. I can't really think of a true love triangle that left me satisfied. The Mako/Korra/Asami triangle is yet another unsatisfying love triangle. Because believe it or not, I actually really like Asami as a character, and I feel like she's been given way more development in comparison to even a main side-character like Bolin. Simply put, Mako deserves neither Korra nor Asami. Mako is so underwhelming as a character that I honestly couldn't care less about him. His personality is flat and derivative. And as the icing on the cake, the neglectful way Mako has been treating Asami in these more recent episodes has been cringe-worthy at best, lowering my already dwindling respect for him.

I guess I should admit here that I found Bolin and Korra as a much cuter couple with a lot more chemistry. But it seems as though the writers are bent on making Bolin fade into the background and forcing chemistry on two characters who I personally don't think have any. Ah well.

4. Meelo. The fact that a character so obnoxious and un-charming exists in any Avatar world makes me clench my fists and desperately wonder what went wrong. It's really not just the fact that he is hideously designed or that almost everything that comes out of his mouth is unfunny, plain stupid, and/or playing to the lowest common denominator of humor; I'm more concerned with the fact that he's inexplicably in the show way too much. In this past episode, he had more screen time than Bolin. And I have no idea why. If I hear or see one more air-bending/fart joke I fear the series will be beyond saving as far as I'm concerned. Do even children find this funny? Every time Meelo comes on screen, I regret telling people how great this show is, and I mean it.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Diversion #2, Summer Vacation, part 2

In part two of Jake's and my adventures, I will discuss and ponder:
  • art and museums
  • getting lost in downtown Los Angeles/Skid Row
  • the most amazing party known to mankind that we had the privilege to attend
So let us begin!

Taken from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Ducreux
The next day happened to be Mother's Day (and I was feeling much better), so all four of us went to the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles together, which was absolutely stunning. Just the architecture of the museum buildings alone was a work of art. There was so much to see that we didn't even try to tackle it all: we only managed to make it through a single wing of the museum--paintings, sculpture and photography. One of my favorite paintings there was from Joseph Ducreux, pictured on the left; I loved it mostly because of the "archaic rap" Internet meme with one of his self-portraits, but also because his paintings are hilarious and beautifully painted. I mean, who paints a portrait of themselves yawning? It killed me, to say the least.

After that Jake and I said our temporary goodbyes to his family and headed out into the midst of L.A. to find an elusive "listening party/laser show" put on by The Brian Jonestown Massacre's record label, the Committee to Keep Music Evil. The purpose of the party was to celebrate the release of The Brian Jonestown Massacre's new album, "Aufheben," and it was implied that the band would be there in person--with the band's leader and mastermind, Anton Newcombe, DJing prior to the actual laser show. Being loyal, huge fans of the band and their music (especially Jake, but I'm working my way up there) we were understandably stoked. However, there was little to no information about this event; I happened to stumble upon the Facebook page advertising it about a week before the trip, but the page itself was cryptic and confusing. The address simply said:

"IN DOWNTOWN LA
240 W. 4th St. (at Broadway) - 2nd Floor
Downtown Los Angeles 90013"

Okay, I guess that's pretty specific. But hear me out! Jake and I are anything but Los Angeles locals. Thus, we wandered aimlessly down the one-way streets of downtown L.A. for about an hour, desperately looking for a club or some kind of venue that would host such a party. We passed the venue at least six times. The Facebook page also said that they would stop selling tickets at 6 P.M., so we had rushed out of the Getty around 4:30 to ensure our attendance. Naturally, this did not work as as planned. At one point, we made a wrong turn onto Skid Row... and that was one of the most terrifying experiences of my life. Literally. There were people lying in the street and shuffling down the horrifically dirty gutters. It looked as though not even a street sweeper had been down the street in at least six months, and there were no police officers to be seen. Shopfronts appeared to be occupied, but there were no lights on or people inside. I swear it was like we had driven into the Biblical apocalypse. Needless to say, we jetted out of there as fast as we could, but the images are still burned into the back of my brain. NEVER AGAIN!

Eventually, we decided to park in a parking garage at 4th and Broadway and walk around, knowing that we would have a better chance finding it on foot. We discovered another parking garage across the street with the exact address on the online flyer almost immediately (of course) and started up the stairs to the second floor, as directed. Standing at the top of the staircase was a doppelganger of Ryan Gosling, I shit you not. Down to the hipster glasses and blond, '50s-vibe wave of his hair. And it was at that moment we knew we had found the location of the party!

Even though we arrived around 6 P.M. on the dot, it turned out that we were extremely early--the first ones there, in fact. Pseudo-Ryan Gosling didn't know anything about the ticket sales stopping at 6 and assured us that they hadn't even started selling tickets from the venue yet. And because we were first, we were allowed to park our car on top of the parking garage and tailgate with about 25 others! The venue being on top of a parking garage was actually rather thrilling, to be honest. We were sandwiched between skyscrapers on all sides, in the open air, and in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles. What could possibly be cooler? it was perfect. In addition, we were given these beautiful "Aufheben" wristbands with the BJM logo on them (pictured above), which are so unique and personal. I was expecting some generic colored band. But no. The Committee to Keep Music Evil pulled no punches. Even the wristbands were exclusive. I will never throw them away as long as I live!

Soon after, we met three wonderful people, whose names I'll exclude for privacy reasons. At any rate, they were the next group of people to show up, and they had experienced similar frustrations (such as driving in circles with no idea where they were going). It turned out that they had parked in the wrong parking garage too--right across from our car. They also had an Arizona license plate on their car though they were from Las Vegas. At the end of the night, Jake and I retired to a cheap but awesome hotel about two miles away, and guess who showed up about half an hour later? All of these strange coincidences make me believe that we are kindred spirits of some kind. Or something like that.

Anyway, Anton DJing before the actual laser show was awesome. I didn't recognize the vast majority of the songs he spun for the crowd, but he did play a Burial track right at the end of his session, which was kind of the greatest thing in the world. Actually syncing up as far as music tastes with a musician as incredible as Anton? Greatest feeling in the world. And when he wasn't DJing he was walking back and forth between the "stage" (I use the term loosely because there wasn't even a microphone or platform, just some turntables) and his entourage/fellow band members/wife, often stopping by the crowd of 100-150 people to shake hands or give hugs. I'm still sad that neither Jake nor I mustered up the courage to talk to him, but I firmly believe we'll have another chance some day. In addition, tambourine man (and probably one of my heroes) Joel Gion was standing within ten feet of us for most of the party. Jake went to the washroom on the first floor of the parking garage and saw Matt Hollywood in there. All I'm saying is that the party was ridiculously intimate. We felt like VIPs the whole time.

Pseudo-Ryan Gosling handed out holographic glasses to the crowd (pictured above), and then the laser show began. This aspect of the party was fantastic. I saw that even Anton had his glasses on for a portion of the laser show, watching with rest of the attendees. The smell of weed wafted in the air as people hopped between groups of strangers and shared what they had. The handles of alcohol came out. Some took a trip to Wonderland and were swaying and dancing to the music in front of the lasers. Jake and I both felt like we were part of something so special... a once in a lifetime experience, for sure. Everyone seemed joined in fellowship based solely on our love for one band. And honestly, isn't this what music is supposed to be about? This is a call to action for other bands out there: get on the Brian Jonestown Massacre's level. Seriously.
Here is a small clip of the laser show that I captured on my camera. It doesn't do the party justice, I know. But it's still pretty cool :) The song is called "I Want to Hold Your Other Hand." Oh Anton, you're such a post-modernist, down the titles of your songs. Much love. Thank you for sharing this experience with us.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Diversion #2: Summer Vacation, part 1

In celebration of the temporary freedom of academic responsibility that is summer vacation, my boyfriend and I decided to take a much-needed, week-long vacation to California the very day I finished my last final of the semester. (On a side note, I think I am still rocking a 4.0 GPA after my first full year at Northern Arizona University; official grades are posted tomorrow, so fingers crossed!)

The first day in California we went to Six Flags Magic Mountain. Oddly enough, I 'd never had the opportunity to go to any Six Flags amusement parks before this particular trip--which we made a point to do only because my boyfriend's mother gave us tickets for Christmas. At any rate, I wasn't sure what to expect. The roller coasters seemed daunting at first--some are behemoths of wood and metal and shake the ground beneath your feet as you walk by--but in actuality they are beautifully engineered and well made; I didn't get a single bout of nausea during our seven-hour tour of the amusement park, and we went on every roller coaster available to us--some even more than once. Because it's still technically "off-season," we more or less ran to the front of the lines for each coaster, which made the experience all the more enjoyable. I've heard that the lines in the heart of summer are brutal.

The roller coaster called Goliath was my favorite: it actually disturbed my vision for a few seconds after it came to a stop because it's so fast. I had tears and snot streaming down my face when we were done. It was the most attractive thing ever, really! The other roller coaster that stood out is called Tatsu--which, by the dragon design aesthetic, was meant to simulate what riding on the back of a dragon would be like. When you get in to your seat you are sitting upright, but once you take off your back is parallel to the track so that it's like you're soaring through the sky. So cool. At any rate, Magic Mountain did not disappoint one bit!

The next day was a bit of a shitstorm--complete with arguments, frustration, terrible decisions and missed connections. L.A. traffic was driving me crazy. I hadn't eaten for whatever reason for about 20 hours. I was severely dehydrated. I had terrible whiplash and bruises from being thrown around by roller coasters the day before. I had a headache that bordered on a migraine. So what did I do? I decided to drink a shot of whiskey and the equivalent of three beers before heading over to watch a live performance of The Brian Jonestown Massacre, an incredible '60s-revivalist band my boyfriend and I have been more or less following around the past couple of weeks. We saw them in Phoenix on May 1 as well, and they were amazing. But I digress.

If you don't know much about me, let's just say that I have no tolerance for alcohol whatsoever because I rarely drink. Naturally I was feeling really good for about an hour. And then the alcohol and everything mentioned above culminated into something terrible. I couldn't even make it to a bathroom before I threw up in my hands, and then in a trashcan right outside the venue doors. I'm pretty sure I almost got kicked out if it wasn't for my boyfriend assuring one of the bouncers that I wasn't just really messed up on drugs or incredibly wasted. At any rate, what I did hear was awesome, and I love The Brian Jonestown Massacre so much. If you haven't listened to them, I highly recommend it. In fact, here is a song from their new album that I'm currently obsessed with.


And because this is getting long-winded, I'll call it quits for now. I'll finish up my tale of woe (and whoa) in the next post within the next couple of days. :)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Children's Book: Complete! + Other News

As it turns out, the children's book project that I undertook in February was a huge success. Let me tell you about it.

The whole idea for this project began in an Honors class I am taking at Northern Arizona University called "Pay it Forward." Seen the movie? Same kind of deal. If you haven't seen it, don't worry. Our projects were to focus on "paying it forward" through writing. But not just any kind of writing; our overall goal was to 1) write to "change the world" and 2) interact with the world in some way. Yeah, pretty daunting for a Freshman undergraduate student. But with the assistance of my partner in crime, Molly, we devised a way to do just that. Both of us expressed interest in writing a children's book, so we combined forces. We would write and illustrate a children's book together, then present and read it to a class of elementary school children. That way, we would be interacting and sharing our gifts with the world, even if just to a small portion of it.

We had some roadblocks along the way (too many characters, too lengthy, formatting issues, etc.) but overall, I'm incredibly pleased with the results. The story turned out pretty linear--as many children's book tend to, especially under a time constraint--but the illustrations came out quite beautifully, if I do say so myself. It is 40 pages long and fully illustrated. I used Adobe Photoshop CS to draw and color each illustration with an Intuos3 Wacom tablet. Super high-tech, I know. ;)

 After finishing the illustrations and getting each page organized for printing in Adobe Photoshop CS, I went and had it printed and bound at the local OfficeMax--definitely not my choice for future printings, but it worked for the time being. After all, I needed a physical copy (and quick!) in order to complete the second part of the project: interact with the world. Luckily, a fellow classmate had introduced me to the principal of a local elementary school here in Flagstaff, AZ, and we had been in contact for about a month, setting up a date to visit the school and read to the students there. Just yesterday, Molly and I were able to do just that. However, we were able to read our story to, not one, but three Kindergarten classes--around 50 children total. We asked them questions and talked to them about animals and about being kind. It was a beautiful experience.

In other words, TOTAL SUCCESS. Depending on many factors, I may try and publish the book. We'll see how far it goes. I am currently taking two American Literature classes back-to-back this semester, both taught by the same, incredible American Literature professor. Anyway, she has expressed interest in helping me publish the book. I swear that I have an academic crush on this woman. She's intelligent, hilarious, and inspiring; I've never been so encouraged by a professional before in my life. The fact that she's urging me to try and publish makes me feel so validated as a writer and partially as an illustrator. Ahhhhh! I'm not worthy.

For some other huge news unrelated to me personally: yesterday, one of my closest friends since high school was offered representation by a literary agency for a quirky, adorable middle grade series of novels she has written! I'm completely ecstatic for her. Apparently the agent has requested a couple revisions in her manuscript, and I offered to help her polish it up a bit! I hope I can help in some way.

In addition, her success has encouraged me to devote my entire summer to getting Boot Hill written out. Even if it's rough. I want to follow my dreams of being a published novelist too, and the only way to do it is to write it. No agent is going to see a story that isn't even written.

I, M WEAVER, HEREBY PLEDGE TO DO EVERYTHING IN MY POWER TO HAVE THE FIRST BOOK OF BOOT HILL FINISHED BY SEPTEMBER 1, 2012.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Diversion #1: Children's Book

So... somehow I got roped into writing/illustrating a children's book for a class I'm taking called "Pay it Forward." The goal of said class it to interact with a small portion of the world using your "gifts." And while art isn't even close to one of my talents, I figured that a children's book would probably be manageable in a semester's time, and a good way to actually get some kind of story out there to others.

I am also working with another student on the project, so we're going to split the workload as best as we can. We'll see how that goes...

Introducing the main character, Henry. Yes, he's my creation. I was just messing around with ideas and concepts for his character design, and this popped out. Let's hope the design keeps, because I'm a little enamored with how he came out!

The story is going to be about embracing diversity, finding friendship, and being yourself. Can I get a big "Awwww!"?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Renewed Enthusiasm!

I am terribly sorry for my lack of updates--school and work has completely consumed all of my free-time. I am currently two weeks into my second semester at Northern Arizona University, and I am in love. No, not in that way (actually, yes, I am, but that's not what I'm referring to); rather, I have finally started taking real English classes that are actually relevant to my major. Right now I'm enrolled in an American Literature from Colonial Time to 1865 class, as well as American Literature from 1865 to Present class. I have the same professor for both classes, and at first I was nervous to put all of my eggs in one basket. Luckily, my professor is wonderful. I couldn't ask for a better professor to ease me into my major.

So, I've been reading a lot of old short stories and poems by Puritans and naturalists and such. I'm having a total blast. This just in: Jack London is a total bad-ass.

Also, after a few months of hemming and hawing, Boot Hill has had a recent resurgence; with the help of my wonderful roommate and friend Kiel (who is, I shit you not, a contemporary version of Lindsey, mannerism- and personality-wise), Hunter and I were able to come up with the skeleton of a magic system that we will be using for the story. Magic has always been difficult for me to create, so in the past I have glossed over it, promising to return to it at a later date. At this point though, it is the later date; the magic system has become imperative to my telling of story, and it could no longer be ignored.

I'll kind of be vaguely spoilery by saying that it has something to do with spirits of the dead. That is all :)