Mental Flotsam, Mental Jetsam

Because the only thing that beats going crazy is going crazy with somebody else

Monday, April 28, 2008

A Strange Source For Relevant Insight

With a smidge of spare time this weekend (between social obligations, trying to write and spending time w/ Shawna) I finished off The Tick live-action series, courtesy of Hulu. The show is silly, very pointless, and fun. I maintain that the cartoon was better, but the live-action show has its merits.

One of them came the 3rd-to-final episode. Arthur and the Tick are in court prosecuting Destroyo, an iron-clad supervillain they apprehended in a parking lot after accidentally rear-ending him w/ the Batmanuelle-mobile. (That's a mouthful.)

The case doesn't start well. Destroyo is his own legal counsel and quickly invalidates the nuclear weapons found in his trunk as inadmissable; as they were found without a proper warrant. Slick guy, Destroyo.

The Tick is rapidly found in contempt of court until it occurs to him to break out: Being super-strong, the prison bars give way to the Tick like wet Kleenex.

Anyway. The reason this exercise in court farce is being mentioned is the following: Arthur, ever level-headed, does some digging into Destroyo's past and finds his Achilles' heel. He gives the following speech on the stand.

"Have I led a full life... That's a good question. I've tried to, but we can't do everything, can we. An old man told me a story once, about a little boy that loved nothing more than to dance. Well-- except maybe between-meal snacks. That little boy had a choice, like we all do. Follow our dreams, or indulge the bad habits that make those dreams impossible?"

That speech cut me to the quick. Not for Destroyo's indulgence in sweets. My own sweet-tooth only occasionally rears its ugly... tooth. But bad habits? Making one's dreams impossible?

New York is an expensive city in which to live. That has been one of the most sobering lessons I've learned in my short tenure here. And while I've been spendthrift in the past, Manhattan and its surrounding burroughs have frankly bled me dry and then some.

My best friend, Chris aka Pedro; is very much like the Ant. He's smart, he's frugal and he has a plan. Compared to him I am very much the Grasshopper.

I'm trying to do better. Truly. Nevertheless you would be amazed at how easy it is to forget yourself, come payday. So; that's the bad habit. The dream? Putting my shows up in New York.

Oh, certainly I still have ambitions of being on stage again; but that particular fate is at the whim of casting agents and directors. Putting a show on (again) would be in my control. Sort of. One of the things keeping that from happening would be a complete lack of funds. I'm working on it, and likewise tracking down non-personal funding of a non-loan variety, this time. Being a bit smarter about it. Thank goodness for networking.

However, to be frank, putting my shows up is scarcely the only ambition hindranced by a lack of funds. There are classes I'd like to take, for which I am on waiting lists; that I presently cannot afford. The comic book I'm writing and producing will also require money. Discipline. That iron-spined word that seems so damned elusive, sometimes. Getting these things is going to require discipline.

I'm reading a book on loan from Shawna. I, Lucifer, by Glen Duncan. Striking concept;
the Devil tells his side of the story and gets a movie deal out of it. (The actual film, starring Daniel Craig, is in the pipeline.) I'm a good bit into the book so far; and the one accomplishment of which Old Scratch is proudest is this: Establishing the bond between bad behavior and pleasure. Instant gratification, breaking the rules; doing what you shouldn't feels good. And thus was born Sin. Jerk.

Would I be so very deep in the red if it wasn't a fun trip down? Would ice cream be so popular (despite its fatty content) if it didn't taste so good? Foolish questions posed by a fool parted from his money.

So. There that is.


Friday, April 25, 2008

You're Killin' Me, Here

***Spoilers Below for Lost and Battlestar Galactica. You've been warned.***

I caught drift of last night's Lost. In it, the comely young woman, Alex, is held at gunpoint in an attempt to gain leverage over Ben, whom I'm going to start calling the Father of Lies. The guy's a total bastard. Anyway. Bluffing (or one hopes he's bluffing, if he has a shred of humanity to him), he berates Alex as meaning nothing to him; she was little more than a pawn.

Heartbreaking words to hear from your adoptive dad, especially if they're the last thing you ever hear. Alex dies on her knees with a bullet in her skull.

And with that, a supporting female character whose usefulness has come to its apex is brusquely shown the door.

In comics, we call this Women in Refrigerators Syndrome. The character is killed for very little reason; other than to incite the corpse's loved one (aka the protagonist) into action. Their headstone becomes a stepping stone for the plot.

This sort of writing bothers me. It seems unnecessary-- for one thing, there are so many more interesting ways to hurt a character than merely knocking them off-- and an easy way out of having to write for them any longer. I don't like it.

The exact same thing happened to Cally Tyrol last week on Battlestar Galactica. Wife of a recently-realized Cylon; Cally has been sleeping badly and has been growing more paranoid by the day. She ultimately decides to take a walk in space with her hybrid child Nicky. She is stopped at the threshold by another Cylon-in-hiding; and lulled into giving up her child. She does this. It's a poignant, emotionally significant moment that could show Cally still has some marbles and lights a candle of hope that the cylons aren't all bastards.

You literally could not say that sentence out loud (for lack of time) between the moment the baby is safe and the bitchsmack that sends Cally flying. Dazed and confused, she only gathers her wits in time to realize she's doomed and blown out an airlock.

What's this teach us? That some characters are doomed to abuse? In her fictional history, Cally was almost sexually assaulted, placed under arrest, beaten savagely by accident, and exposed to naked, empty space. Twice.

Back to Alex for a minute? Sure thing. The poor girl's death was textbook for unnecessary. If we were looking for an excessively violent gesture to show the mercenaries meant business, they demonstrated that at the end of the episode prior when they wiped out some other characters that had outlived their usefulness (but not by much).

There are other less timely examples, but why belabor the point. I will, however, offer a counterpoint.

I'm writing a comic book miniseries in which some truly awful things happen to the undeserving: namely, superheroes. I was telling Shawna about one such character and her trials; and Shawna said something fascinating. "Wow. You really love your characters." It was meant without sarcasm. I realized she was right.

I do have a great fondness for my characters. If I didn't, I wouldn't be able to inflict such exacting torment; let alone stick around in the narrative to watch them get better.

I don't know. I'm not claiming to have any great point, here.

I just hate to see good material go to waste.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Missed Opportunities

As it's been previously mentioned, I have a twin. His name is Jordan and he lives on the west coast. We walk alike, we talk alike: You could lose your mind. My improv team, Start Trekkin' (aka the friends we have in common), is soon taking a trip to California. In the course of their trip they will no doubt run into my doppelganger.

Finances being what they are; I cannot afford to join them. I feel this is something of a mixed blessing. At least from a selfish point of view. Think about it. This way they get to have time w/ Jordan and re-affirm the whole "OMG we know someone exactly like you in New York" thing. Also, I can milk the gag that they've never seen the two of us in the same place simultaneously; thus sustaining the half-baked notion that we could be the same person. Heh heh.

Also, this allows me to retain my illusions a bit longer. For the same reason that one should never meet their heroes; I know that an actual encounter w/ my counterpart couldn't live up to the hype. The anticipation is greater than the event itself could possibly be. This is the truth.

Don't get me wrong, it'd be a total kick to shake hands w/ the guy and size each other up. Still-- the notion of such an unholy rendezvous still outshines the reality of it.

At least that's what I tell myself. The more fanciful portion of my brain can't help but thank my lucky stars that I'm not going, just in case. I wouldn't want to end up:

A) ceasing to exist. Come on, did you see Timecop??
B) beheading him in righteous combat w/ swords and a lightshow; during which I absorb his life-essence. There can be only one.

C) identifying one of us as a clone of the other, thereby delegating one of us to secondary citizen status forever.
D) tipping the scales of the world and causing untold destruction. The saying "This town isn't big enough for the two of us" came from somewhere, after all.
E) popping into whatever sucky alternate universe one of us escaped in order to get to this one.

I don't find any of those particularly appealing. Besides-- there's no way to guarantee he has the other half of this mystical golden amulet...

Anyway. Some food for thought. Ciao for now, folks.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Love & Circumstance

I recently found out that two good friends of mine, a couple; have broken up. It wasn't over any fight, infidelity or strong disagreement. Simply put, their lives are taking separate paths. One person wishes to leave New York, the other wants to stay. It's as gentle and (for lack of a better word) friendy a break-up as I've ever heard of.

Never the less: Shit.

I find myself thinking about what they're going through. What they're feeling. I've been in remarkably similar circumstances, myself. It was college, and we were very much in love. I was graduating, she had a few years left; and she didn't want me to stay bound to a college town when my life was leading me elsewhere. Also an agreeable, 'friendly' break-up. It hurt like hell.

So, ultimately, what's more important? What we do in life, or who we do it with? The couple in question was one of the happiest I've ever seen, or been lucky enough to know. It didn't stop them from wisely acknowledging that happy as their love life was, career-wise the situation was unfulfilling.

I don't know. I'll be the first to get on a soapbox and proclaim that what you do, your passion in life, is important. Your happiness is dependant on it. Across the street is another soapbox I'll happily mount to shout that a life enhanced by a successful career can seem quite empty without the right person to share it with.

It was hard enough leaving Maryland and loved ones behind to come up to New York. I couldn't imagine how difficult it would have been if I'd been romantically involved with someone at the time; someone that didn't also have plans in the Big Apple.

People choose. Beyond the present and a span of a few years, people choose. They choose their career and throw themselves wholly into its pursuit, its achievment. Do they become successful? Do they harbor regret?

Others choose love, and eventually family. Do they feel the seemingly unanswerable call to do other things?

How lucky they must be that find both. A partner one can share their heart with; and pursue parallel or at least non-opposing dreams. I count my brother as one of the lucky ones. He has a family, he has a career; and the career of his wife, Maggie, in no way opposes his own and vice-versa.

An ex of mine married a man in a profession very similar to her own. So much so that they have been able to even travel and find meaningful work together. Damned lucky.

Learning about my good friends has set my brain bubbling. Re-evaluating. Now I'm here: Beginning something with a girl whose career ambitions in no way resemble my own. I'm keen to see where this goes.

If you're reading this, I'd be delighted to hear your thoughts on the matter. Anyone? Thoughts? Comments? Theories and philosophies?

More to follow.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Fancy That...

I was a member of E-Harmony for a full year; and never got as far as a second date w/ anyone I met through the site. I'm a member of the Onion Personals for ten minutes and someone writes me that I immediately hit it off with. That would be Shawna.

Funny world. After a year of looking for something to have in common w/ the right person, a woman pops up out of the woodwork that could not be a more pleasant surprise. She's smart (smarter than me), she's driven, she has a very cool job in journalism and she's as tall as I am. We like the same author. She's a longtime fan of Buffy, The West Wing and oh yes-- beer.

We've had three dates so far; the last of which consisted of late night sushi in Manhattan. Probably a New York cliche', but if you think I'm complaining... well. Take my word for it that I am not.

I feel inordinately lucky. I also feel pretty calm about the whole thing. In the past, when newly met with someone with real potential, my eagerness to laud her praises was a barometer for over-reaction. Butterflies would plague my stomach. Now?

I don't know where this is going. Neither does she. What we do know is that we enjoy one-another's company. We make each other laugh. That's a damned good start to whatever's going to happen.

On a completely different note, I've burrowed into a Shakespeare-reading group, and am learning that most hallowed of skills: Networking. I had a great chat w/ one of the heads of our little round table, and he's pointed me in a hopeful direction to secure funding for future productions for Maker's Muse. More on that as it develops.

Be well, folks.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

A Little Sensory Input

It's bright and early and I've scarfed down breakfast-- the same breakfast I've had at work for the last few weeks; and I've get to get tired of it. Cantaloupe and coffee. Strong coffee. The flavors compliment one another quite nicely.

Speaking of complimenting flavors, I had Mark and Laura over for dinner last night, and the dish du jour was Thai Steak w/ Peanut Sauce. Mark, who doesn't cook, liked it so much he asked for the recipe.

The peanut sauce is dead simple. Take 2 tablespoons of peanut butter and microwave it for 20 seconds to liquify. Then mix in 2 tablespoons Kikkoman's Teriyaki and stir, adding in red peppers (the kind you can shake onto pizza). A pinch goes a long way.

As for the steak, I brush it w/ the same kikkoman and a healthy slice of onion (also brushed), then broil it for nine to eleven minutes for medium rare. Delicious.

Anyway. Have a good day, folks. Back to the grindstone.


Tuesday, April 01, 2008

What A Day.

I have had quite a damn day. Some good, some long, some just stressful. The important thing is, I'm starting to catch up. FINALLY, I'm starting to catch up.

Work was work; following an absolutely wonderful weekend. Getting to Jersey was ever the hassle, increasedly so by the PATH card issues of getting the damn thing to work. It does now, which is the important thing.

My computer is back in working shape (thank you Trevor for picking it up) and missing only the least important of files. Putting my itunes library back in order will be interesting and boringly time consuming.

Then, something interesting. Something light. A phone call from an old NY friend prompts if I have plans tonight. None. Would I like to play Malvolio in Twelfth Night. Heck yes. It's a random assortment of actors and actresses, and we just read the play. It was a hoot, and a wholly pleasant surprise.

Then back to reality. Slow subway trains, and the return to the apartment; during which I prayed. Earnestly. I begged God for a little slack, a little financial help. Money has been and remains tight-- and likely to remain so.

This week the rent is due and between that and the expenses of computer repair, I am flailing around for a much-needed paddle.

I returned to the house, wondering what I was going to do; and there sitting in the mail slot was a cheque from ToyFare magazine. Payment for an article I wrote three months ago. Payment apparently double what it was arranged to be.

The timing could not be better. Honestly. I am depositing that cheque first thing tomorrow and good lord will the coffers be grateful. My theory for the inflated payment is the extra work required (and multiple interviews) to nail down the material for the article. Who knows? I am NOT complaining.

I'm grateful. Just... grateful. Okay. Off to bed.