Monday, July 13, 2020

July Sweeps - Day 164

Happy Harrison Ford's birthday!

I was filling in my work on the Magic Spreadsheet Big and I share, and I've fallen so far behind him--over ten thousand words--that if we included February on there, I might still only be a dozen words ahead.  But who's counting?*

Well, the Magic Spreadsheet, apparently.  And when I only got 101 words the other day, it considered my writing streak over.  I might as well have written zero words that day, because it started me over the next day, and there's nothing I can do about that except with a rigged-out DeLorean.  But I can continue to work each day in the future, as best I can.

Today, I have seven words so far.

Despite that, I rewarded myself with one of those blue Mountain Dew sodas (Voltage, I believe it's called), which are so delicious . . . I guess I'll drink three.

Well, I only ended up drinking one.  But tomorrow, I will strive to do better.

Sit-ups Today: 111
Sit-ups In July: 2038

As far as writing goes, another piss-poor showing.  We're getting to the point where there are more of those than there are impressive days anymore.  Part of it is just writing fatigue, but it's also having finished two stories in a week, I either have to work on one of my abandoned projects (which, I suppose, now includes my novel), or start on something new.  Daunting, isn't it?

Words Today: 323
Words In July: 10,659

*I was thinking, just the other day, that if I could count all this daily blogging as writing, I'd be at a million words by now.  Heck, I may have put that in my blog before, since I'm better at it than I am at the other kind of writing, or even sit-ups.

Video - "Rest Stop"

I had been talking to Big about doing a couple of video readings of my stories, maybe for a Dunesteef episode, so I dug out two--one I could do myself and one that we could do together.

The first time I went up to the family cabin this year, I sat down next to the pile of the last of the winter snow (except it ended up snowing again the next week and the pile got way bigger) and did this reading of my short story "Rest Stop."  Of course, my intention was to film the whole thing, rather than only a couple of minutes, but my phone is consistent, if not reliable.

It was a learning experience:
1.  The wind affects a phone way more than a microphone.
2.  Next time (if there is one), I'll have a phone with a lot more recording time. 
3.  And hey, try not to sit down in the snow for a half an hour.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

July Sweeps - Day 163

Because of my piss-poor word count the last two days, when the sun woke me up this morning, I told myself to turn on my computer and write, and any words I got in before my alarm would count as part of yesterday's total.  Pretty good idea, no?

Well, in theory.  I wrote a sentence, then briefly checked my email.  Then I followed a link from one of those emails . . . and then my alarm went off.  Sigh.  I got seven words in before it was time to get up.

Mama, oooooh, didn't mean to make you cry.

Sit-ups Today: 166
Sit-ups In July: 1927

So, I dunno what to say about today, except, well, I did better today than the last few.

I went into this weekend with a bunch of unanswered questions in my mind about my Halloween decoration story.  For example, Should their mother be away at work on Halloween night, or should she be at home with them?  What happens to the boy who tried to warn Katy about breaking the rules?  What happens to the little brother?  Whoops, I have one character named Tristan and one character named Tevin: should I change one of them?  Is it stronger if Katy sticks to her guns or changes her mind at the last moment...but it's too late?

Well, somehow, I just gave arbitrary answers to those questions and wrote the story through to the end.  Yep, I got to type those happiest of words, and that means I've finished two stories in less than a week.  So, as a reward, I think I'll make tomorrow all about me.  Maybe I'll eat a donut, maybe I'll eat some chili fries.  Maybe I'll get up early, or maybe I'll sleep through my alarm (doubtful).  Maybe I'll have a bunch of people on Facebook send me greetings.

Heck, in preparation, I think I'll go do fifty more sit-ups.

Words Today: 1396
Words In July: 10,336

Saturday, July 11, 2020

July Sweeps - Day 162

So, it was a big hiking day today.  Busy before, busy during, and busy after.  But I like busy, because it makes me feel social, and alive, at least a little.

When I went hiking, what, a month ago, with my high school buddy Rhett and his son, he asked me about the various places around here that one would go on fun and/or arduous hikes.  One of them (with a waterfall at the top of a mountain) was one of his favorites, and I told him I'd been planning to hit it before too long.  Well, he told me we'd get together and do that hike, and not to go without him.  He was pretty adamant about it, otherwise, I think I would've hit it by now.  He even called my old friend Dennis, who lives about a half hour from the mountain Rhett wanted us to climb, and arranged a day when the three of us could go climb it together.

I hadn't seen or heard from Dennis since 2017, which is kind of sad, but I understand.  He remarried and moved away to a new town, with a new family and, in a way, a fresh start in life.  I can't blame him for leaving the old one behind (which, I'll be honest, he did a long, long time ago, first moving up to Alaska--about as far removed from the rest of America as you can get, and then marrying a woman with young children that he could look at as his own).  Although I'm just guessing.

Dennis was coming from the north, while Rhett and I were coming from the south.  Because Rhett is fundamentally incapable of getting anywhere on time, and even though I myself was ten minutes late, I still had twenty minutes to sit in the car and write.  Little did I know that that was all the writing I would get in for the day.

It was an extraordinarily warm day to go on a hike--over a hundred here in town, and probably close to that at the start of our hike.  But I guess these months of running and hiking have conditioned me, because I survived just fine.

Rhett brought his teenaged son along again, and he was exactly the same as he was the last time--the opposite of introverted, and very eager to listen to and be part of the conversation the adults were having.  Dennis had brought his young step-son, who I had no memory of meeting, although he would've been much smaller the last time I saw him.  Dennis, in actuality, was absolutely unrecognizable.  He had a long greying beard and wore a floppy hat, and if he hadn't waved at me when I was walking around the parking lot, I'd not have known it was him.

He said it was his pandemic beard, and was the first one he'd grown.  I find that kind of interesting, since the only time I don't have a beard is when I have to shave mine for a part.  I remember the last time I shaved it, I wasn't able to recognize myself in the mirror.  I imagine it'd be even stranger now, since I'm nearly twenty pounds lighter than the time I shaved it for a Joker costume.

There was practically no place to park, due to the abnormal number of visitors to the mountain, but Dennis (who drove all of us in his little car from a lower parking lot) simply parked alongside the road, and we walked three quarters of a mile to the trail head (which was fine when we started, but miserably hot and distant by the end of the outing.

I've been on a dozen or more hikes in this plague year of 2020, and this was easily the busiest and most overflowing with people I've been on.  In the past, I've shied away from people because of fear of contamination, but the path up the mountain was so narrow and so jammed with hikers, that we might as well all have been in an elevator together.  A sweaty elevator.

There WERE a few people hiking with masks on, and while I admire their dedication, I couldn't have done that.  I'd have just stayed home.

Both Rhett and Dennis had been there before (and Rhett goes often), so I kept asking them if now would be a good time for a picture, or if it was going to get better.  I'm just too old school to remember that with a digital camera, you can take a hundred pictures, and if they're not special, you can always delete them.

It was an intense climb up a mountain, where there was a quite spectacular waterfall waiting, and a huge crowd lounging around by it, or actually standing under it in various stages of undress.  Because it was so hot out, the nearly-ice cold water felt pretty refreshing, but there were a lot of girls and children screaming because of how cold and (ironically) wet it was in the splash zone of the falls.

The two kids that were with us wanted to play around in the water, and we three adults did not.  But later, when I was feeling particularly hot, I did go stand underneath the falls, and got quite wet taking photos like this:

I took a crazy number of pictures because who knew if I'd ever use my old phone again (I thought I'd give it to my nine year old nephew to take pictures/video with, but now I'm thinking I might keep it just for hikes and the cabin and stuff, because it has fallen to the ground dozens of times and never once cracked or scraped, whereas my new phone has fallen twice and cracked fifty percent of those times*).  I'll put a couple of them up, but it'll probably take me a few days to upload them (I had to de-install Dropbox on my old phone because they don't let you use it on that many accounts . . . unless you pay a premium).

The two boys wanted to climb to the top of the waterfall, but Rhett and Dennis didn't want to. So I said that I would, because I am adventurous, I guess. Or I might have just not wanted to seem old to the kids. Before I went up, Rhett warned me that his son could be "rambunctious," and that he ought to go along too. And this is going to sound strange, but I thought about it, and I have to admit that I didn't know what that word meant. I still don't.

It was a steep climb to get to the top of the waterfall, and only the most foolhardy or physically fit made it up there. It made for some good angles for pictures, I will admit.

Dennis was not feeling great, so Rhett led us on a quicker path through some really dense foliage.  Honestly, it reminded me of Hawaii (where I've never been), specifically JURASSIC PARK, and that's always fun.

We went down the trail for a ways, only the five of us, and only encountered a single teenaged girl walking by herself.**  We let her past, walked about half a mile, and then ran into some kind of resort employee/security guard, who told us the path was one-way only, and we had to turn around and go back to the falls. Rhett absolutely didn't want to (and called the guy a bastard a few times before the day was done), since we'd made it close to the road at the bottom of the mountain, but the guard actually walked with us all the way up the trail again until we were back where we'd started, then announced to someone on his walkie talkie that he'd taken care of the trespassers.

So, we had no choice but to climb up to the top of the mountain again, find the trail we'd taken to get there, and go back down on the other side. It took a while, and we were so high that we could see the path we'd been taking, and how close to the bottom we'd gotten before being stopped. There were these resort guards all over, we discovered, policing the high number of tourists out walking around.

This route was where Dennis started having problems, and we stopped a number of times to rest.  It was very hot, but I had been smart enough to bring two bottles of water I carried around in my backpack.  Three would've been even better.

 Sit-ups Today: 100
Sit-ups In July: 1761 (more than halfway to my goal)

At night, I was lucky enough to get to see the greatest sequel of all time, and the best of the Star Wars movies, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, on the big screen again.  That makes three times I've gone to see it (once in 1997, once in about 2003 at a Q&A screening with Irvin Kershner, and once in Plague Year 2020).  It was more glorious than ever in its fortieth anniversary, and I wish everybody had a chance to see it.

And that everybody had a chance to be loved.  Or fondled by a stranger during a church picnic.  You may choose.

I saw it with my cousin, who has always shared a love for The Trilogy, and with whom I watched "The Mandalorian."  Now, while I'll almost certainly die alone (and soon), I count myself as fortunate to get to go to it again, when a big chunk of the moviegoing public can't go see anything.

You see so much more on the big screen, with zero distractions, and we both laughed when we saw Willrow Hood run by.

Good old Willrow Hood.

I'm sure you get tired of hearing "I didn't feel like writing today," but it's the truth.  I knew I needed to sit down and write before I went to bed, but I laid down and closed my eyes anyway, with the lights still on, figuring I would write in a couple of minutes.  I woke up to find it four am and my brain in shut-down mode, so I got up, put my laptop on the floor, and turned off the lights, not even thinking about writing any more.

Still, I will try to do better tomorrow (Sundays are my hiking days, but because I did that today, I could maybe write instead?).  I'm twenty days away from having written every day for half of a year, so I might as well keep going.

Words Today: 389
Words In July: I dunno, seven?***

*I did order a case for it this weekend, but to quote SATURDAY THE 14TH, it's a little bit like closing the barn door after the horses have eaten your children.

**He said he never saw any teenaged girls along the trail.  Worrisome?


"The Calling: Reunion" Available on Amazon

Well, it looks like it won't be until the end of August or September that my sequel to "The Calling" will be available over on Audible.  Heck, it could fail to pass their QC a third time, and I'd probably miss releasing it in 2020, despite having finished it in January.  And that's sad, but out of my hands.

If you'd like to read it, it is out there AT THIS LINK in text form, as well as a lil bundle with the first story, which is necessary to read to enjoy the sequel, if enjoyment is possible.  I still have a Rish Outcast sitting around announcing it, one recorded before there was a pandemic or so much unemployment or even more political divide than previously.

I'd sure appreciate it, and maybe you'd enjoy it.

Also, the sequel to "Like A Good Neighbor," "You're In Good Hands" is out there on Amazon as well.  It's the second installment in the Lara & The Witch series, despite the several short pieces I wrote about a teenaged Lara Demming.  It's funny, it's been years and years since I saw either of the women I named Lara and Old Widow Holcomb after, and here I am, still name-dropping them.  I'm hoping that the audio passes Audible's requirements the first time through, but it seems kind of unlikely.

In the meantime, you can find the text over at THIS LINK.  Thanks.

Friday, July 10, 2020

July Sweeps - Day 161

Well, practically no words today.  I don't even have any excuses other than that I didn't want to write.  I watched two episodes of "Agents of SHIELD" tonight, which I'm enjoying because, not only are they doing time travel in every episode . . . but the bad guys are Hydra again.  Even so, two episodes of TV watching could've been two thousand words right there.

I was driving down the street today and stopped at a red light at an intersection, I was surprised to see a big crowd standing in the road beside me.  Of course, I looked over, trying to figure out why they were standing there.  I couple of them were squatting down, and that's when I discovered there was somebody lying in the street, and the other people were . . . attending to them?  I dunno what you call it, but as I waited for the light to change, the squatting people carried the lying person onto the sidewalk, which I had always been told you're not supposed to do, but hey, I didn't see what happened to that person, so I can't judge.

A moment later, a police car pulled up, parking in the intersection where the people were standing (they got out of the way).  A moment later, the light turned green ahead of me, but I could hear a siren, and the two cars in front didn't start moving.  An ambulance arrived, and pulled right into my lane, then stopped there.  As soon as the ambulance parked, the other three lanes of traffic started moving . . . but mine could not, since there was an ambulance in the way.  I started to signal left, and the car in front of me did the same.  The line of cars behind me, however, would not let us through. 

Finally, there was another siren, and a fire truck pulled up, causing all traffic to stop.  It moved in next to the police car, and the car ahead of me just drove into the left lane, despite the light, which had now turned red.  I thought, "Man, that's brave, considering there's a cop car right there."  But as that car left unmolested, I realized that the police car, ambulance, and fire engine now blocked the entire opposing lane, and so, maybe, it was okay if I went ahead.  I still didn't dare do it.  What would you have done?

So, the light eventually went back to green again, and as it did, I pulled into the left lane, despite a line of about three thousand cars now behind me.  The car behind me did the same--and the two of us went ahead of everybody else, which was only fair, considering we had been there a couple of minutes longer than all the other vehicles in the left lane.  As I drove past, I saw the paramedics attending to the fallen man . . . and realized it was myself.

Okay, not really.  I don't know who the person was, but I had been typing all this and it occurred to me that I didn't have a good ending to the story, other than, I then went home.  I heartily apologize.

Sit-ups Today: 120
Sit-ups In July: 1661

I did my run with the new phone, and discovered that it has a Random button on it.  So, it cycles through the songs I have during my run without me having to pick what the next track will be.  That's both cool--since it's always a surprise--and uncool--since sometimes it's a sappy midlife love tune that you can't really run to.  Still, I remember being a teenager wishing I had one of those CD players with a Random setting.  It's about time.*

I wasn't ENTIRELY useless tonight.  I did finish recording the second section (of three) of "Three-Time Visitor," the story I was supposed to put out months ago.  It's been my goal since, I dunno, February, so I'm definitely going to do it this month.  Unless I don't.

Nothing else to say today, that I can think of.

Words Today: 101
Words In July: 8551

*Yes, I've had a Random button on WinAmp and such on my computer, but I've honestly never had one on any of the mp3 players I used before I had a smartphone.  A sheltered life, I know.

Thursday, July 09, 2020

July Sweeps - Day 160

It's still morning, and I've been up for a while, having ate breakfast, edited for an hour, changed my clothes, tried to comb my hair, transferred music to my new phone, and went out on the back deck to watch a deer that was walking by, which didn't run or freak out at seeing me, merely looked over with detached curiosity.

I grabbed my new phone, which I tried to record myself with last night but was too paranoid about it falling and breaking (further) and tried to get a good photo of the animal.  But the camera's too new; by the time I figured out how to take a photo that wasn't a selfie (neat that it'll take clear selfies, though, I ain't complaining there), the deer had gone up the ridge a little way, joined by another one that tossed me a glance that said, "Who was he?  Were you talking to that guy?  How stupid can you be?  Let's go."

I worked on the Halloween story for a few minutes, and am anxious for it to be finished.  Last night, I looked up at the first star I saw (probably was a satellite or space station, though) and wished I could find the perfect ending for it.  But I recognize my limitations: I'm never going to have abs, I'm never going to walk into a room and feel all the ladies' eyes on me, and I'm just not quite good enough a writer to find an ending that's both scary and not entirely unhappy.*

I wrote the scene just now where the mother bawls out her daughter about breaking the law, stressing that they just moved into the house, they'd signed a lease agreement that they'd abide by the rules, and they could get kicked out if the owners wanted to pursue it.  That exchange sort of makes them renters rather than purchasers of the house, and that's probably stronger, since the less money they have, the more relatable they are as protagonists.  But it also gave me pause.

If Katy understands that her family could get evicted because she broke the rules, why would she still break the rules again on Halloween day?  Originally, Katy was a male, a big brother character who sees his little sister crying about the decorations and decides to make his own, just to cheer her up.  It was a brilliant conceit, if you can forgive me saying so (yeah, Mr. No Self-Esteem just referred to something he [almost] wrote as brilliant . . . call a doctor quick!) because it literally forgave ANYTHING that the brother did.  He could kill somebody, and you as a reader would say, "Yeah, I can see that.  I'd probably kill somebody that made my little sister cry."  So, his breaking the rules like that, opening the door for whatever consequences might arrive, is understandable, because boys are angry and impulsive, and they have a protective nature when it comes to their little sisters that defies logic.

Katy, being a girl, is different.  Would a teenaged girl put their whole living situation in jeopardy because her little brother is sad about losing his favorite holiday?  While I imagine girls have a protective streak toward their little brothers, it's not the same thing.  In our society, we're raised to believe that boys are tough and girls need protecting.  And frankly, girls are smarter than boys.  For example, a boy would throw a rock through the window of a teacher that gave his sister (or girlfriend) detention, but rarely would a girl be that stupid.  It's something to think about, whether you agree with me or not.

But I ought to sit here, in this office chair I brought up here myself last year, and make myself write what happens on Halloween night.  Not as punishment, but for the same reason I try to run the last block of my jogging each night, or raise the number of push-ups I'm supposed to do in a month.  Because you're never going to get better unless you push yourself to work harder.

Here's a picture I took by the lake using my old phone, perhaps for the last time:

Please support me over on Patreon, or send me a tip via PayPal, while I'm acting so out of character.

I didn't see another living soul this trip, except once, when I went to the lake to do my recording.  There was an old guy rowing his boat out onto the water just as I got there.  I braced myself for his catcalls and general assholery once I started singing, but it never came.  It may be that there are way fewer of those types out there than I thought.  Either that or they're all out trying to disrupt protests and refusing to wear masks at church get-togethers and gun shows.

So, I went out on the back deck only once this trip.  Yesterday, it was too windy, and today it was super sunny and hot.  I sat down, started reading my book, and immediately fell asleep.  It was one of those times where I feel like I'd been out for one minute, but the worry is that I'd been out there for an hour, roasting myself beet red in the sun, so I went in and sat on the couch, opening the book to find my place . . . and waking up more than an hour later.  Whoops.

But that's what the weekend's for, isn't it?

Anyway, I got some more writing in right before it was time to go.  And I got that old, melancholy feeling again that I hated to have to leave, I wish I could stay one more night, and think of what I'd accomplish.  I've never been on a honeymoon, but dollars to donuts, that's what that's like ("Imagine if I'd had one more night with LaShonda.  I might even have gotten her to take her bra off.  Sigh.").

Sit-ups Today: 277
Sit-ups In July: 1541

I drove home with only a minor incident**, and recorded a podcast on the drive home.  I had listed one of my most valuable action figures for sale on Tuesday night, and I got here to discover it had sold (for a hundred dollars).  That was nice, but online today, somebody boasted about finding one for only $120, when everybody else is selling theirs for $150.  Whoops.

Words Today: 1317
Words In July: 8450

*That reminds me, though, after I talked about this story in my most recent Patreon address, Keith Teklits sent me a message with a suggestion for an ending to the story, trying to help me out.  It touched me that somebody else gave it some thought and took the effort to let me know what he had imagined for it.  I don't think I'll use his suggestion--although it definitely could work, if I set it up earlier in the story--but it's a solid one.  Maybe for another story.

**There was an awful scraping sound underneath the car when I got down the decline from the cabin to the road, and I thought something had lodged itself in the wheel well or worse, something had broken under the car and was dragging.  It turned out that a branch from a tree had jammed itself just perfectly under the car, to the point where I couldn't pull it out.  I had to sit down on the ground and kick at it until it came loose, then I threw it into the woods, hoping that it hadn't done any damage under there.  It was just a minor inconvenience, but it could've been so much worse. 

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

July Sweeps - Day 159

Lately, my relatives have expressed amazement that I go to the family cabin every week.  In this world where people can't get out and socialize, have far fewer appointments than before, and sometimes don't even have their jobs, and a guy who drives into the woods alone every Wednesday surprises them.

It looks like next Wednesday is out, though, so this'll be my last trip up until the end of the month, which--gasp!--will be here in only a day or two.  Make the best of it, folks, hug your loved ones tight, because the sands in Rish's hourglass are spilling out in both directions.

The sit-ups don't seem to be helping either.

Sit-ups Today: 216
Sit-ups In July: 1264

I didn't get to the cabin until three o'clock, but that couldn't be helped.  Well, I suppose it could have--my uncle from Vegas woke me up at about 6:51am when he let his dog out to go to the bathroom, and I could've forced myself to get up then and start my day, so I'd have been finished with everything before eleven--but I had wanted to get lunch with my cousin, so that meant meeting him around one, and heading south after that.

I don't know how into detail I went about the phone yesterday, except that I didn't spend forty dollars for a case for it.  I did spend forty for one of those glass screen covers, which, come on, should cost ten dollars at the outset, but I told the salesgirl that I've never cracked a phone in all the years that I've had them, so I'd be okay.  I meant to order me a case off of Amazon or eBay, and just be careful with the phone until it came.  But whoops, when I got to the cabin and I opened the back door, the bag of groceries I'd brought up spilled out, and as I leaned over to pick them up, my phone fell out of my pocket and--bap!--cracked on the side.  I can't help but feel that they're overly fragile by design, but that doesn't make me feel any better about it.

It did upset me, and the thought of taking the new phone out there to take pictures and try to take video this evening is kind of terrifying to me now (my old phone took many tumbles, even a couple during recordings, and the case always protected it--but it never fell into the water or anything, which this new one could easily do, since it's so big and appeared to have been constructed of eggshell and tissue paper.  But I've got an idea:

I'll simply take my old phone and use it to record today.  Yeah, I recognize that I got a new phone specifically so I could make videos and take pretty pictures with it--but I can wait a week or two until a case comes, and just live with the crack in it until either it dies or I do.  Besides, I think my old phone would appreciate not being retired just yet, kinda like one of those movies where the old guy is able to beat the young guy, because the old guy is smarter.

Words Today: 1059
Words In July: 7133

My daily word count is lagging way behind Big Anklevich's (every ten days or so, I enter my numbers on our shared spreadsheet on Google Docs, and he's almost ten thousand ahead of me, quite an upset from when we started and I'd double his numbers each day), but I have to constantly remind myself that my goal isn't to write a thousand words a day or to beat the numbers from last month, it's just to keep going.  And keep going I am (and I call myself a writer?).

Point in fact: I finished "Podcatcher" before the sun even went down.  I mean, of course I finished it before the sun went down, since I was always scared to write it at night (was that it?  Was it fear?  Why didn't I just finish it in November or December?--I was writing then, and far more connected to it than I am now--and why did I impose that dumb rule of only writing it in the cabin?  It would be out there, and probably an episode of the Outcast by now otherwise.  I really don't get it).

This year (Plague Year 2020) has not been one for letting my imagination get away with me and freaking out at night out here, even a little.  It's weird because, a couple of weeks ago, I actually had a nightmare that took place here in the cabin, with me in the couch (though of course, it was an alternate universe version of the cabin, where everything was in a slightly different place, and I was confused about how I had gotten here), and even that didn't get me really spooked.  I suspect it's that having a mid-life crisis, which could go one and on, I suppose, is scarier than imagining boogeymen or witches standing outside the window.

But back to "Podcatcher."  It's about nine thousand words long and might expand just a little, but I don't think so.  When I came up with it, back in October or so, it was meant to end with a cliffhanger, just one of those "Oh shit" moments at about the five thousand word mark.  But I got some criticism of a story I wrote right before that one, and decided to try and actually come up with an ending for it . . . which also made it easy to just abandon the sucker.

But it's done now, and that means I can move on.  In a way, "Podcatcher*" is awfully similar to my Halloween decoration story, which I mean to work on in an hour or so.  Both deal with otherworldly, supernatural threats, that remain entirely undefined, which in my experience, is supposed to make them scarier.  At the same time, I wrote a story years ago, where there was one of these otherworldly, supernatural threats, and what it wanted was to impregnate unwary teenage girls . . . and isn't that way more terrifying than something that wants an undefined thing?  Well, your mileage may vary.

It's totally possible that the story doesn't work at all.  I've run into that with my writing over and over--stuff that I feel strongly about while I'm writing it doesn't necessarily come out the way I thought it was coming out in my head.  Or, conversely, take a story like "Try Your Luck," which I've spent twenty years thinking was goofy and laughable, turned out way better in 2020 than I'd ever given it credit for.  While something like "Round and Round," proclaimed by friends of mine to be the Best Thing You've Ever Written, didn't really grab me so much in 2020.  And I might as well mention the third of those stories, "Father's Day In August," which I recognized in 2005 had some problematic areas, then revisited in 2020 with the discovery that it wasn't good at all . . . well, somebody wrote me the other day to tell me how much they liked that story, and called it one of my best.


Since I've got nothing better to do, I figured I'd check out my total number of words since I started on February 1st . . . 190,732 words.  Take that.

I went for my usual walk around the lake as the sun was setting, and took the first pictures with the new phone.  I was afraid to do video with it, though, because I didn't figure out a way to perch it on my tripod without it falling off (actually, I do have video footage of it falling off and me catching it, but nobody wants to see that).

The lake:

The field behind the lake:

The pond that used to be part of the lake:

*Which, as I've recognized, is a terrible title (the document itself is titled "Comes the Podcatcher," which may actually be worse), and I toyed with calling it "There Are Such Things," from the deleted ending to 1931's DRACULA, but decided that that would make a much better title for a short story collection someday, one with stories about monsters and ghosts and vampires and whatever the deuce a podcatcher is.  I'll keep thinking.

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

June Sweeps - Day 158 (sorry, July)

Can you believe that this is one hundred and fifty-eight days straight of blogging?  Of course, you probably gave up long ago, and I can hardly blame you.

But I'm going to write today, regardless.  At least two hundred words.  That's doable, isn't it?

Plans got canceled for mid-day today, so I went with my sister to the mall to see if they could repair or replace her cracked phone (a stuffed animal actually cracked the screen--which doesn't seem possible, except they have hard buttons for eyes).

Despite calling my phone a piece of crap every single day for the last two months or so (odd, since I only got it in February), I think I'm going to miss it.  Familiarity in a device as omnipresent as a cellphone does not breed contempt--you know how to make it do what you want it to do, and the last one I had--which only died back in February--I could turn on in the dark and use with my eyes closed.  There will be a learning curve on the new one, and I don't really enjoy that prospect.

The girl at T-Mobile was showing me my options, but they were all much, much bigger than the phone I've been using.  It was only two weeks ago (maybe three) that my nephew and I had gone in there, and looked at phones, and found one that I was happy with, but that model was sold out.  The boy was drawn to a big phone with a very nice camera--it has three different lenses, for some reason--which I would've picked, if it hadn't been so darn big (it's maybe 2.5 times the size of the one I've been carrying around for the last four years).  But there was a smaller version of that (albeit with a significantly worse camera), and I said I'd take it.  But the store didn't have that small model in either* so I went ahead and let them upsell me to the larger one. 

My nephew really wanted that same phone, so we both got the same model, and I plan to order either a Star Wars case or just a red one for it, so we'll be able to tell them apart.  That seems like a good plan.**  As long as it takes good pictures and video, I shouldn't regret the purchase.

The Halloween story is up over six thousand words, and boy, I'm so close to the end, I hope I can come up with an ending for it.  It's getting to the point in the story where all I'll have left to write is the end, and then what do I do?  I'm reminded of an anecdote from when James Cameron was making TITANIC, and it was so over budget and overschedule that summer of 1997 had arrived, and one of the crewmembers down in Mexico was quoted as saying, "I wonder if Jim will let us take a day off from making the movie to go see the movie."

Maybe I'm misremembering the exact words, but certainly not the feeling.

Sit-ups Today: 100
Sit-ups In July: 1048
Sit-ups Total: 6883

I go to my cousin's house on Tuesdays (we finished "What We Do In The Shadows" last week and have to move on to something new), so I have to do my nightly run when the sun is out.  I was running out of time, so I grabbed the new phone (I'd had to uncouple my headphones from the old phone to connect them to the new one) and only had time to put one single song on it, since I was already going to be late.

I picked the longest song I know: American Pie by Don McLean.  I put the big new phone in my pocket (one that zips closed) and did my run.  I remember the last time I played that song first out of the gate, I got just over half a mile before it ended (the first half is always the hardest, when my legs bother me the most, when my breath refuses to catch, and when my body urges me to stop).  This time, I made it farther, and I actually got my whole run finished in two American Pies.  That's going to be a unit of measurement from now on for me.

It shouldn't take more than an American Pie to get the back seat cleared out.

You leave that pizza in, young man, for two whole American Pies, and you'll burn the crap out of it!

I'm pretty sure I could fall in love with her in less than three American Pies.

Words Today: 783 (which seems low for the time I spent writing, but these things are never predictable)
Words In July: 6074

*Heck, they didn't even have the large version I wanted less, but had to settle for.  They had to run across town to grab one for me.

**See tomorrow's post for the punchline on that particular dumb decision, won't you?

Twilight Zone 8: Perchance To Dream

Rish and Cathexis talk about the season one episode that most scared him, 1959's "Perchance To Dream."  Try to stay awake, now.

To download the episode, Right-Click HERE.

To support Rish on Patreon, Left-Click HERE.

Note: Kevin McCarthy would've been ninety when Rish met him, not ninety-six.

Next up: Season One's "Mirror Image."

Monday, July 06, 2020

July Sweeps - Day 157

Last night, having not gone on a hike, I did my nightly run, and I was surprised to see the brightest full moon of my entire life.  It was huge and yellow in the sky, and of course the picture I took of it was terrible.  But I watched it rise over the mountains as I jogged, and I'd like to think that you were there with me, just for a second or two, which was probably confusing for you.  Sorry about that.

I wanted to capture its size and beauty, but instead, my phone captured this:

I'd apologize, if I thought that it would make a difference.

I hadn't taken my nephews to the park in a month or more, and for some crazy reason, I told them I would today.  What I'd done the last two or three times was take my laptop and try to write while they tried to catch fish in the little pond there. 

This time, I sat down, and tried to focus on my decoration story, and when I got to the part where someone calls the police on Katy and her brother, well, the story started to really interest me.  How would the sheriff behave, when the town ordinance of no Halloween decorations was that ridiculous and nobody's allowed to explain what the reasoning is? 

Well, the policeman character I introduced in "Podcatcher" ended up being a paragon of all that is decent and good in humanity (in fact, once he's introduced, the main character of Patrick recedes into the background quite a bit, and it becomes Detective Harrell's story, though I certainly didn't plan it that way*), so I kinda went the opposite on this one.  He's not a bad man, but he's certainly less touchy-feely than Harrell, and not only makes no apologies for ripping down a couple of kids' Halloween ornaments, but he leans into it.

It works for the story because it angers Katy enough that she's going to make her own decorations, and we'll find out how that goes the next time I write on it.

So, my sister called me at the park to ask when we were coming home, and I realized I'd been writing for a good long time.  The kids had caught a couple of fish, but I had managed over a thousand words.  Best day of the month so far.

When I got home, my nephew challenged me to do sit-ups with him.  Last time, he forced me to do a hundred in a row.  This time, he wanted to see if I could do one-fifty.

Well, it was not easy, but that competitive nature came right out as he tried to do them with me, and I managed to pull it off.  Record for this month as well.

Sit-ups Today: 200
Sit-ups In July: 948

Today would've been a good day to sit down and record a little bit on "Three-Time Visitor," which is one of my continuing goals for Jul . . . shoot, I could still do it.  It's only 12:39am.  Except that that lasted only one minute, and then it was one, and now it's nearly one-thirty.  At least I got my words in.

Words Today: 1495
Words In July: 5291

*That was absolutely due to the race protests and George Floyd outrage that were happening just as I first returned to the family cabin the last couple of days of May and early June.  I decided to make him a black cop, and give him reasons for having become one that were awfully topical.

I Narrate "Sandy" on Drabblecast

It had been a loooooong time since the lovely Norm Sherman had asked me to lend my voice to his grand podcast, the Drabblecast.  Somehow, I missed that this episode had dropped.

It was part of a Drabblecast trifecta (all about keeping your friends close and your enemies closer), so I missed that my reading of "Sandy" by Bruce McCallister was part of it.  This story is about a human boy who befriends an alien girl that goes to his school, and was so similar (in concept, if not execution) to the story I wrote with Big a few years back, "Last Contact," that I feel like that's the reason I got picked to do the narration.  Check it out at this link and decide for yourself.

Sunday, July 05, 2020

July Sweeps - Day 156

I woke up before my alarm again today.  Instead of going back to sleep, which I do 70% of the time, I got up and showered, turned on my laptop, and actually wrote some words before nine am.  Neat. 

Well, maybe not so neat.  I just checked, and it was only seventy-four words. 

If you're anything like me, you're sick to death of this blog.  No, that was a joke--I'm actually much more passionate about this blog than I am about writing.  And that's the problem.  What I'm sick to death of is starting stories and not finishing them.  A month ago, I was all excited about what I was calling The Egg Story,* and I haven't worked on it in weeks.  In October or November, I came up with that story "Podcatcher," which should've been short and simple . . . and it still isn't finished (just checked, and it's at 9,369 words).  And just last week, I started the Halloween decoration story, and there's no way in hell or Little Rock, Arkansas I'm going to finish that one.

More on that later.

I went for a long drive today, listening to an audiobook and talking to Big A. on the phone for way longer than he was comfortable with.  I usually (sometimes always never) go on hikes on Sundays, but I thought I'd check out the lake this afternoon because I was in the car and it was 94 degrees out.  I had read that there were places--marinas--where you could drive up to the lake and not have to pay the ten dollar fee that they started charging a couple of years ago (I only paid once and then never went again).  So I drove to the next town over (well, two towns over), just to look.  But they seemed to have a tollbooth at this one as well, so I parked on the street with a bunch of other cars and walked in.  To my surprise, even people on foot have to pay to go in there, and the girl running the tollbooth looked to be about fourteen to me.

But in for a penny, in for a couple of bucks, I was already there, so I gave her the money and walked around, checking things out.  And, well, there wasn't much to see.  It was a marina, with a little beach area where a handful of people were swimming and boating.  On the other side was a section where people could tether their boats or . . . I don't know, get attacked by sharks or 1998 Godzillas?  I walked around for an hour or so, soaking up sunlight and listening to a Drabblecast episode.

I enjoyed listening to the short story as I tried to make the most of my little visit to the water's edge, but I couldn't help but wonder, as the story came to a close, if my own stories are better or worse than that one.  It wasn't a remarkable one--and really, how can all of them possibly be?--but it was finished, put out there, sold, and sold again to Drabblecast to be produced for thousands of listeners to enjoy.  And I can't finish a story to save my life.**

Still, I have a couple of listeners that seem to really like the stuff I write, so I guess I have to decide whether that is reason enough to keep going.  Maybe it's something I have to decide day by day.

The water seemed really, really dirty, and there were dead fish floating along the shore.  The only living fish I saw was a huge carp, big enough to swallow a man's arm.

There were swarms of thousands of what I thought were mosquitos, but turned out to be midges, which are annoying, but don't bite or spread diseases.

It was the hottest day of the year so far (or close to it), and before long, the fun of walking around the bad-smelling water and getting awful sticker weeds in the bottom of my shoes ran out along with the podcast episode.  I would have turned tail and gotten the heck out of there earlier, but I'd paid to get in, so I forced myself to stay an hour, for the principle's sake.  As I was walking out through the gate, I saw a little culver and stream off beside the road, and approached it for a photo.

It was actually a pretty neat-looking place.  Good for a book cover or a music video.

Or I could've gone there to sing a Storage Unit Serenade, I suppose (he realizes a day later).

Sit-ups Today: 100 (I could do better, though.  And I will)
Sit-ups In July: 748

I'm definitely at the end of the line as far as the daily writing goes.  I might have to amend my goals from here on out. 

Words Today: 598 (and even that was a cheat, as I forced myself to write three hundred or so words when I woke up early the next morning)
Words In July: 3796

*This was me trying to write in prose the idea I didn't have the guts to pitch to the producers that asked me for story ideas for their anthology show.  Don't think I ever mentioned that, but I was pretty impressed with myself by turning it into a short story . . . at least until I stopped working on it.  What's the opposite of impressed with myself?  "Depressed with myself?"

**Didn't I mention just last week that "Podcatcher" was close enough to done that I could sit myself down and just work on it for a solid hour or two, and it would be finished?  And yet . . . 9,369 words sit there uselessly, when it's possible that at 10,000, it would be complete.

Storage Unit Serenade 22

Here's the second of those extended installments where I explain why a song is significant to me.  I think these are my favorite ones to do, but if you don't like them, don't worry, I haven't done another one in weeks.

Pre-Eighties Songs: 7
Eighties Songs: 6
Nineties Songs: 5
Aughts Songs: 0
Teens Songs: 4

Logo by Gino "I Lost A Fiend" Moretto.

Saturday, July 04, 2020

July Sweeps - Day 155

I've heard people use the old saw "Every day above ground is a good day."  I suppose I must quote Ellen Ripley here:

It seems that everyone in the world is out celebrating or partying or watching fireworks or socializing.  But here I sit, by myself, not doing anything even remotely productive.  Not even writing.

It's Independence Day today, and the fireworks are going wild outside.  Last night, I did my run among them, and tonight I'm thinking I should run before it gets too dark, since there will be tons of people out and about (despite the fact that we're not supposed to).  That reminds me, a person I know went down with a bunch of friends to Southern California this weekend, to sun and play on the beach.  But how can you be alive in July 2020 and not know that in California you're not supposed to be at the beaches this Fourth, or mingling with strangers, semi-strangers, or lovers you just met that day?

Gosh, when I first started this daily blogging thing, I posted some picture of me looking at a bunch of grapes and thinking them sour.  I should find that picture.

The thing is: I can't change who I am or how alone I am . . . I can only change my attitude about it.  Guess I'll do my run now, since that always makes me feel either good or sweaty, sometimes both.

Sit-ups Today: 100
Sit-ups In July: 648

I did my run, and the city was alive with activity unlike any I've seen this whole year.  If any social distancing rules were in force tonight, nobody was paying them any mind.  Which probably applies to us, since we had a barbecue at my mom's house, with my sister and her kids, me, my mom and other sister, Uncle Ali, my uncle John's family, and Cathexis and her boyfriend's little sister.  I grilled all the meat, and tried to take a selfie of me doing it, but it did not come out:

Everyone seemed to get along, and I tried Cherry Pepsi: Zero Sugar for the first time (it tasted like diet soda chemicals)

There are so many kids running around, and once the fireworks started, they felt the need to get louder and louder, shrieking and running and jumping around and whooping and wrestling and kicking each other in the Jujyfruits.  So, I thought I'd go on my run before it got dark.

Too late.  As I was reaching the one mile mark, I saw a huge full moon rising in the distance, with fireworks going on around it and I pulled out my phone and took this picture:

Sigh.  I'm going to HAVE to get a new phone this week.  Not that most of the photos I take are terrible, but I kept trying to get one where you could actually see the moon and know it was the moon, and no go.  By the time I gave up, it was full-on dark, and brilliant creative genius that I am, I was dressed all in black on a night where everybody's watching the sky as they drive.  Sigh again.

After I got back from my run--yes, I made it back alive, unfortunately--several members of my family were going to walk to the park and watch fireworks, so I went with them (probably smelling even sweatier and fouler than usual).  And the park, while it had little groups of people in it, wasn't nearly as packed as the sidewalks had been, and it was actually pretty neat to sit there on the grass and feel sorry for myse--I mean, watch the fireworks displays going on in all directions.

I tired of the explosions quickly, and resorted to texting and Instagram stalking while the adults watched the skies and the kids went nuts running around in the dark, but still, it was better than sitting alone on my bed writing or editing or blogging . . . which is what I'm doing now.

Oh, and I grabbed my regular camera (the one I use to take pictures of action figures) and got a few pics of the moon with it.  They came out way better.

And that's about it.

In 2000 (twenty years ago now, though it feels like three), I wrote my short story "Round and Round," in which I declared that the most beautiful lyrics in music history were
"I may not always love you,
But sure as there are stars above you
You never need to doubt it
I'll make you so sure about it
And God only knows what I'd be without you."

Well, I've changed in a lot of ways in the years since writing that--I got fat, then I lost some of that weight, then I got fatter, then I lost a lot of it again, I grew a beard, my hairline receded an inch, I got glasses, then I lost my glasses, I made new friends, then I lost my friends, I tried to be brave, then embraced cowardice, I've written novels and recorded audiobooks, I found the first white hair in my beard, I got a new philosophy on life, I found the hundredth white hair in my beard, I made a bunch of money, then I lost my money, I smiled, I laughed, I despaired, I ached--but you know, I think I gotta still agree with my year 2000 self.

I can't think of a better one, not even the Radiohead one about wanting you to notice when he's not around, because she's so very special, and he wishes he was special.  Either that or,
"Everybody have fun tonight
Everybody Wang Chung tonight."

Maybe let's let Ripley have the last word:

Words Today: 932
Words In July: 3198

Rish Outcast 175: Writing To Please

In this episode, I go into (some) detail about being paid to write a screenplay in 2020, and how it went, from idea to table-read.

Also, Fake Sean would prefer that you don't start now.

To download this episode directly, just Right-Click HERE.

To support me on Patreon, go to THIS LINK.

Logo by Gino "Pleasing To Write To" Moretto.

Friday, July 03, 2020

July Sweeps - Day 154

After my extremely pitiful writing performance of the last two days, I wonder how much harder I should work today to get my numbers up.*  I wonder . . . but I'm not going to do it.  Sorry, I just don't care anymore.

As I typed that, I just realized I hadn't done any sit-ups today . . . and that I care about.  Crazy, isn't it?

So, I did my sit-ups and I did my running,

Sit-ups Today: 100
Sit-ups In July: 548

My brother-in-law's kid told me the other day that there were a handful of "Rick & Morty" episodes that I had missed, so I went in to watch all of those, but after a particularly bad one (it was one where Rick is informed that he's knocked up some alien lady, and she turns out to be an entire planet), I decided I needed to stop watching and get some darn writing done.**

I wrote a bit on my Halloween story, and actually managed to get a few pages of my audio work done, but once the fireworks started, I knew I was done.  It's hard enough to record when there are cars driving around or phones ringing, but fireworks?

I timed my evening run just right when there were lots of fireworks going off in every direction.  There was even a moment when I had to stop running and just look out over the hill to the sky with a full (or nearly-full) moon and multiple fireworks displays going on.  Cool.

I read an interview with George R.R. Martin the other day where he said that "The Winds of Winter" will be released in 2021.  I can't imagine anybody was excited to hear that.  Honestly, when that book finally comes out, I fear only Betty White will be around to read it.

Words Today: 1105
Words In July: 2266

*I even considered cheating on my only writing "Podcatcher" at the cabin rule, and making myself finish it today.  Hey, nobody would know but me . . . and after a couple of months, I wouldn't remember either.  Heck, I can see me in 2024 (if I'm still alive then) looking through my files and saying, "Podcatcher?  Isn't that the name of a program that saves your podcasts?  What an awful name for a story!"  And then I'd look at it and realize I had written it, back in 2019 and '20.  Sigh.

**Honestly, that episode was so ugly and unpleasant, if it were the first episode of the show I saw, I'd never have gone back.  And it makes the Season 2 dimensional cable episode, which I proclaimed then to be "the first-ever bad Rick & Morty episode" look like one of the perfect Season 1 episodes.

12 Goals For 2020 - June

You know, I didn't do one of these last month.  Guess I forgot.  Hopefully, that means I got two months' worth done.

1.  Publish "The Calling: Reunion."
    The text file is still out there.  I heard back from Audible that it failed again, and submitted again.  If it fails a third time, I have no idea what I'll do (go to a competitor, I guess . . . although I ought to do that anyway). 
2.  Do Dunesteef Patreon with Big.
3. Put Out "Tales of eBay Horror" Episodes.
   I don't think this is going to happen, although I did print out a hate email I received about one of my sales (and it wasn't even the buyer that sent it), so I could read that in a short episode, maybe at the cabin again?
4.  Finish "Balms & Sears" Novella.
    I want to do this, I really do.  But I haven't.
5.  Publish EITHER "A Sidekick To Miracles" or "You're In Good Hands."
   YIGH (Lara and the Witch 2) is available at this link, and I still haven't heard back from Audible yet.  I imagine it will (also) fail, but until the world stops spinning, I'm going to continue to act as though it will.  I still have an edited Outcast episode ready for this (and for "The Calling 2"), just sitting.
6.  Finish "Podcatcher" short story.
    I am close on this one.  I worked on it yesterday, and if I really apply myself, I can finish it the next time I go to the cabin.  I'll make it a priority.
7.  Do BOTH "Empire Strikes Back" and "Death Star Day" Episodes of "Delusions of Grandeur." 
   "Death Star Day" is already out there (at this link).  The ESB episode(s) I finished recording . . . whoa, today.  Now I just have to edit them.
8.   Publish EITHER "My Friend of Misery" or audio version of "A Lovely Singing Voice."
    Gosh, I'd like to get to these soon.  Maybe as soon as "Three Time Visitor" is done.
9.  Do "Till Death Do Us Meet" Episode With Marshal Latham.
    This is also done, over on the Journey Into... podcast.  Plus, I chatted with him on my own show, so twice the success!
10.  Put Out Christmas Story Collection.
    I edited the audio and published "The Many Faces of Christmas Eve," which I'm sure will be included in the collection, as well as the one I wrote this year ("That's The Spirit!") and "The Twel--Five Wishes of Christmas," which I just discovered and revised this week.  That's not achieving the goal, but it's something.
11.  Put Out Audio Collection 4.
     No progress on this one.  Darn.
12.  Put Out TWO New "Dead & Breakfast" Stories.
     Yes, "The Old Man & Me" and "Fatherless Child."  As soon as I get "Three-Time Visitor" done, I can work on publishing the next story, "Never Let Him Go."

Let's look at what I have accomplished, writing-wise, in 2020 so far:
1.  Three-Time Visitor (D&B)
2.   Fisher & Florence (follow-up to "A Mark on the Sky")
3.   Comics Trip (Fantasy)
4.   Troubled Child (Fantasy)
5.   Fatherless Child (D&B)
6.   Never Let Him Go (D&B)
7.   The Last Friday In December (D&B)
8.   A Sidekick's Errand (Western)
9.   Comics Trip (screenplay version)
10.  A Sucker For Mystery (D&B, formerly known as "Who You Gonna Call?")
11.  Untitled meteorite story  (Horror)
12.  Meet the New Clerk, Same As the Old Clerk (D&B)
13.  Pizza Place Story (formerly Little Caesars story)
14.  That's The Spirit! (Christmas Fantasy)

15.  Turn Around, Jedi (Star Wars sketch)
16.  Bryan Adams sketch (redux)
17.  Comics Trip, The (screenplay - second draft)
18.  Tell Me Once Again, Who's Bad (Star Wars sketch)
19.  Ticking and Talking (sketch)
20.  The Comics Trip (screenplay - third draft)

Not terrible, but if you look at all the stories I've started in 2020 and not finished, this list is woefully lacking.  Luckily, the year ain't over yet.

Thursday, July 02, 2020

July Sweeps - Day 153

It was much warmer at the cabin this trip than the other times I've been here.  I still put on my jacket when the sun was going down, but even that wasn't strictly necessary.  I also built a small fire to cook some soup on, and for once, it started right away, on the first match, and didn't go out until I was already eating.  Last time I was here, I went out and gathered two buckets full of kindling, and there was still one bucket left (it's possible nobody else has built a fire in the stove when they've been here), but if building a fire were that easy, I wouldn't have struggled with it the last visits.

I went to sleep quite early for me, and woke up quite early for . . . well, anybody.  I got up when it was still dark out, turned on my computer, and blogged a little bit, then laid back down, and fell back asleep.  When I woke up again, it was six-something and the sun was just coming up behind the hills, so this time I got up and edited my Patreon address all the way through to the end.  Then I laid down again for a few more minutes, kind of like a reward, but mostly because of laziness. 

When I got here yesterday, I went into one of the bedrooms (I just sleep on the couch now, since the last ten visits or so have all required me to build a fire) and saw a sleeping bag in the shape of a person on the floor.  I'll run over and take a quick picture of it.

Anyway, it gave me pause because of my imagination, but I must be becoming braver, because the first thing I did was reach down and feel to see if there was a dead (or faking dead) body under it. 

And no such luck. 

I still do get flashes of disturbing possibilities of seeing someone upstairs or staring through the window at me (this morning, the first time I woke up, I had to turn on a light to even make my way around, and as I flipped it on, I imagined seeing a pasty white Count Orlok face drifting back into the blackness . . . but again, no such luck).  And I didn't dwell on these thoughts as I have been known to--I just shrugged at the possibility, and tried to get on with my day.*

I got a lot of editing done today.  It was a lovely, sunny day, but only about seventy or seventy-five out, which only my cousin could complain about being too hot.  I sat down to write a couple of times, but always preferred to do something else (got another Outcast episode edited, as well as my Patreon Address).  I had brought some donuts up, as is my wont, and I told myself I could have one if I wrote a hundred words . . . and I chose to do sit-ups instead.

I'm sick, doc, sick in the head.

Sit-ups Today: 333 (that's GOTTA be a record!)
Sit-ups In July: 448

The last three times I've gone up there, I've planned on taking a walk down by where I heard all the frogs singing the first time I came up in May (I edited the podcast I did that day, and the frogs were almost deafening in one part--I cut out about two minutes of it in case it irritated listeners).  Since I had extra hours in the day, I drove down to the end of the road, parked the car, and walked down to the little ponds at the bottom of the hill.

But there were no frogs.  Not a single one. 

There was lovely almost-clear water in several little ponds that seemed almost professionally-dammed up along the edges, but there was nothing living in them (I think I saw a couple of bugs, but that was it).  I did take a couple of pictures, and get pretty muddy, trying to navigate the thick grass and treacherous pathways, but unless you really like the pictures I took, it was a bit of a bust.

But it's not really wasted time if it's being out among nature and it counts as exercise.

So, this was an extremely nice trip to the cabin.  I didn't get much writing done, but everything else was excellent.  Just like the first two times I came here this year, I wanted to stay an extra day, because when it was time to do, I wasn't nearly ready to leave.  Maybe that makes the last trip an anomaly.  But I do wish I had just stayed, kept writing, reading, working, and sit-upping.  Yes, there was plenty of work waiting for me when I got home on Thursday night, but Saturday's a holiday, so I could've gotten away with one more day away.

I'll definitely try to head over again next week, though it was a little bit less peaceful this time than before (the cabin directly above ours on the hill had children running around it, and at one point, when I went out on the back porch to dry out my shoes and socks . . . one of the little bastards exclaimed, "Don't look!  That guy doesn't have a shirt on!" and I quickly retreated back inside).  Those kids made all sorts of noise, as well as the construction team down below, beeping and chainsawing and rumbling and hammering.

But it could be worse.  Could've been a nosferatu making all that noise.

Words Today: 650
Words In July: 1161

*I remember, years ago, seeing an old (Seventies) horror movie called LET'S SCARE JESSICA TO DEATH.  At the time, I thought, "Wow, what a perfect title: it tells you everything you need to know about the movie!"  Obviously, it was about Jessica, a wealthy woman with a heart condition or other such ailment who couldn't get too excited or she'd probably die, and the would-be beneficiaries scheming to give her such a start that she'd die "of natural causes."  It sounded delightful.  But the movie turned out to not be anything even remotely like that (although, to be fair, one of the characters WAS named Jessica), and I ended up disappointed.

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

July Sweeps - Day 152

Happy first of July, kids!

I was up pretty late last night, for how tired I was (I started dozing around eleven, while we were watching a movie, but drank an extra Cherry Coke to wake up), then I forced myself to stay up until after three to get my stuff packed for the next morning.

At seven-fifteen this morning, the workers arrived and started pounding on the roof above my head.  It was the kind of pounding you do when you're trying to break down a door, rather than get someone to open it for you.  It was hellish, but hey, mornings always are.

So I got up, finished up my work (well ahead of time), packed up my suitcase (which was already packed from two weeks ago, so that's easy), and went to the cabin.  I nearly got out the door before my alarm went off to wake me up.

It's a new month, so I have this tradition of setting some goals, and telling my Patreon supporters about them, then looking back on last month's goals and seeing how well/poorly I did.  It amazes me how fast the months go by (you too?), and there will be projects I feel like I just worked on, that I haven't touched since April or March.  In July, I will continue to write everyday, but I'm not even going to try for a thousand words a day anymore.  If I get them, great, if not, no tears will be shed.  I HAVE to get "Three-Time Visitor" published, though, and then I'll move on to one of the two big projects that were part of my goal for the year.

I'm also going to exercise every day, and that has been quite easy for me lately.  I did a pretty impressive amount of sit-ups in June, and instead of raising my goal to an unreachable number, I'm setting the goal for 3333 sit-ups in July (my goal for June was 3000).

In July, I'm going to finish either "Podcatcher" or the Halloween decoration story . . . or preferably both.*

But as far as writing goes, I was not very productive.  I was just too tired, I fear, and one of the first things I did after unloading the car was to lay down on the couch . . . and then, hours evaporated.  I had recorded a podcast during the drive up, and I spent a couple of hours editing it, and I really needed my sleep, because there were bits of me just drifting off while recording behind the wheel, then saying, "Oh, I think I might have been sleeping just now.  Whoops."

Even now, I'm tempted to get another nap in, which is probably terrible, but what can you do?

Gosh, the mountains are pretty right now.  It was about sixty-five degrees on Wednesday, and seventy-two the next day, and everything is green and alive . . . although the waterline at the lake is already way below where it was in August last year.

Something I thought would be fun to do last time I went to the cabin was make a checklist of activities, and then mark them off each time I did them.  For example, I put stuff like Write, Edit, Sleep, Blog, Record, Read, and Sit-ups on the list, and while it's not going to entertain you to hear that I did Sit-ups the most (at 9 sessions) and Read the least (at 3 sessions), it was fun to see the results.

One of my traditions (well, three times in a row now) has been to go to the lake during the magic hour and record myself singing a song.  It went spectacularly well the first time, was stunningly beautiful the second, and I forgot the words on a third song (so I did it again the next week, but the two takes may not edit together).  This time, I went out in the muddy grass that had been completely submerged when I was there two weeks ago, and thought I'd found an interesting angle.

However, there were two people in a boat out on the lake fishing, and I worried that they would start making noise/fun of me.  They didn't say a word, but in the middle of my song, a white truck pulled up right alongside the water, and the two people inside it (who I fully believe were there to watch the sun set and make out, but when they saw some dorky skinnyfat guy singing at the water's edge, decided to watch him instead, culminating in a spectacular break-up).  It made me nervous, and I wasn't willing to sing quite as hard as I had the last two times I was out there (three, technically).

I only did the one take**, because it's a song I've known all the words to since 1991, and then took my tripod up on the dam again to take some still pictures.  I love the sunset, and I love taking pictures, and just today (7-2), along the side of the road, I saw some dude taking photos of a pretty young thing
as the sun was setting.  That guy's living the dream, kids.

I managed to include myself in a picture or two, and like noticing how bad my hair was two weeks ago (not that I got it cut), I discovered just how awful the back of my pants looked when I saw the picture.  Now, it could well be that I damaged my butt in a threshing machine accident when I was younger (and have no memory of it), or it could be time to throw out that pair of pants and start wearing a new one.

There was an unbelievable number of fish jumping as I recorded and took pictures.  You can see the ripples of one in this pic taken of the dam (see how the rocks are all piled up on the right there?):

And in this one I took of the little boat in the water, you can actually see three splashes in a row.

I also took a couple of the sun going down, but it wasn't spectacular or anything.  Except it is the sun, and that's pretty spectacular.

I finally found a picture of me I can look at without pain!
I took two pictures in a row, one with the sun in the distance and one with me in front of the sun.  I vaguely remembered how to turn them into an animated gif, though the image of me appearing and disappearing wasn't as neat as I wanted it to be (too seizure-inducing).

But then I remembered that you could make one image fade into the next, so I did that, and now . . .

"Erased . . . from existence!"
Much better.

In looking over my June Goals, the only didn't achieve were publishing "Three Time Visitor" and finishing writing "Podcatcher."  But the rest I managed well (including the 3000 sit-ups I had vowed to do), and hey, there's always next week.

Sit-ups Today: 115

Words Today: 511 (which, creepily, is a reverse of the sit-up number).

*Of course, if these goals interest you and you'd like to hear me talk about them, along with meandering stories, feel more-than-free to support me on Patreon AT THIS LINK.  It's greatly appreciated.

**This was not at all wise, for part of the song includes my head going out of frame, since I didn't rewatch it to make sure everything was okay.