Tuesday, March 31, 2020

March Sweeps - Day 60

Being a writer is something of a lonely pastime (or profession, I suppose). Unless you're fortunate enough to collaborate with another person (and I have only two or three times ever), it's just you and the blank page or notebook, making your own decisions, thinking your own ways out of predicaments, sharing your minor triumphs just with yourself. So, in that way, nothing for me has changed between the end of March and the end of February (or January, or December).

 Except that I do it in my car instead of the library now.

As I think I mentioned on Monday, I (all-too-briefly) spoke to someone who is going out of her frigging mind being unable to go out and socialize like a bunch of grim grinning ghosts at a midnight spree.  Apparently, seeing her family and her friends who come over and her pals at work is like a genital cuff, and not in a good way, and though I don't necessarily sympathize, I don't want people who are unhappy to be unhappy, so there's that.

As of now, we are not yet on lockdown.  So, there's a blessing to be counted.  My cousin in Las Vegas did get a positive test for Covid-19, and his sister is currently in quarantine.  I offered to try and figure out some way to do a virtual karaoke activity over the internet with her, but I don't think anybody else is as excited about that.

Oh, except for my niece.  I called her today . . . and holy Raquel Welch in a Smilodon thong, she actually answered the phone.  Cathexis is stuck at home alone (or at least today she was, as her boyfriend was at work), and seemed to be going quite stir crazy.  Crazy enough to talk to me for a while.  She said she would be happy to do karaoke with me, and told me that, once movie theaters open again and return to normal, she'd like to go see ROCKY HORROR at the indie theater where I took her to see THE ROOM.  She's still never seen the movie, even though, like me and her mother before her, she knows all the songs (my sister and I saw it at the NuArt Theater in Los Angeles, at a midnight show, where we had giant Vs painted on our faces and were sexually harassed by a bunch of strangers up on stage along with anybody else who had never seen the movie before).

I told Cathexis that, if we ever do karaoke together, we should do There's A Light (Over At The Frankenstein Place) together, and she said we would.  The idea of that brings me right up to the barrier between what I'm feeling now and happiness.

I didn't get much writing done today, but it's only twelve, and maybe I'll do another chapter of the Lara Demming book, and see if that inspires me.  Problem is, I've completely filled up the memory card on my recorder, and the only way to free up space is to delete something.  So, my intention was to edit a chapter, then delete it from the recorder, so I could record a new one.  But I started surfing the net, and you know how it goes--boom, an hour's gone.

Oh, I got to one of those nasty sentences I stole from Stephen King in the book.  In "The Stand," the part Big and I always talk about is when King has Stu and the other survivors go their separate ways as they head to Vegas, and writes, "And none of them ever saw Stu Redman again."  I remember reading that for the first time (1990, it was), and it hitting me like a ton of bricks, that King would give away the ending like that, and so brazenly, so dismissively.  And it cast a shadow over the rest of the book, knowing Stu would not survive . . . it's something I love Stephen King for to this day.*

Well, I did it in Chapter 8, and just edited that bit.  I wonder how well that part works in the story, and I'm reminded of talking to someone who absolutely hates stuff like that in people's writing.  Pretty sure it's Big Anklevich, since he's the only one I would've talked to about books.  It might bother people reading my story, or it might not.  But it unbothers me, if that's a word (and it's not).

I hopped on the microphone for another hour or so, and recorded Chapters 18 and 19.  There was one bit that I felt worked really well--me attempting to turn this quaint little kiddie magic book into a horror story.  I hope that works too.

By the time I finished recording, it was after two-thirty, and I hadn't gotten many words written at all.  Talk about going out like a lamb.  Sigh.

Words Today: 375
Words In March: 39,627

In other words, I wrote just a few words under what the Hugo Awards would qualify as a novel in the month of March, but that's 8,356 words less than what I wrote in February (which, in my defense, was my most productive month ever, and one with an open library in it).

But also, in my sixty days in a row of writing, my grand total is 87,579.  That's almost ninety thousand words--way more than I get in a usual year. 

And it ain't over yet, is it?

Rish Outfield, last day of March

*If you've read the book, then you understand what I mean by that.  It's similar to when I told my friend Jeff that (the great) Christopher Lee was playing the main bad guy in the Lord of the Rings movies.  And Jeff said, "No, he's playing Saruman.  He's a one of the wizards like Gandalf--he's a good guy."  And so, when Saruman turned evil in the movie, I was not prepared for that at all, and I don't know if I ever thanked Jeff for saying that.  Even if I had, there's no way he'd remember that now.

Monday, March 30, 2020

March Sweeps - Day 59

March has lasted longer than February did.  Isn't that odd?

I had a good deal of work to do today (and I didn't finish all of it) before I could think about writing or exercising or entertaining myself.  I talked to Someone for a moment about what social distancing means for them rather than for me, and I guess it's pretty hard to not be able to be out and about with your friends and make new friends and, I dunno, have strangers approach you and want to not be strangers.  I have a fair imagination, but I can't quite picture what that would be like.

All I know is, I have gotten really sick of my nephews running around and breaking things, fighting, screaming, singing, and crying.  I'm reminded of the "And Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again" part of It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas.  I am lucky, I know, that I could go to the park again today, with my laptop, and edit audio for a while, and watch all the people running or jogging or climbing the stairs (and one girl/woman who just laid out a blanket and--I assumed--read there on the grass for a half hour or so).  Many people are not so fortunate.

But it's like that old saying, Every day above ground is a good day.  Although when I did a search to see who said that, the first answer that came up was Pitbull, and I don't want to be above ground in a world where Pitbull originated that saying.  Seriously, that guy sucks so much, he should really hate himself almost as much as I do.

I went to the storage unit again today, just so I could redo the song from Friday (was it Friday?  Maybe Saturday) because the wind pretty much effed that whole recording, despite me doing it over and over and over again (oh, can't you see what I'm trying to say, darling?).  While I was recording, a car pulled up, right there next to my own car.  It was an old man, who had a unit just three over from mine.*

"What is it you're doing?" he asked, and I realized afterward I'd never turned off the recording, so it caught our whole conversation.  "Some kind of photography?"

Well, I thought up a lie and I thought of it quick, I was making a video for a cousin who's sick.  She's in quarantine, I said, as you've probably heard (and my cousin Camy actually is in quarantine right now, so it's not so absurd).

Then the old man told me all about his struggles moving stuff from one storage unit to another, and that he'd had his belongings in one for eight years without ever once going there and getting stuff out.  It reminded me of my mom's storage unit in the next town over.  She's only been there twice since we rented it, back in 2018.  Although, in my defense, I went there the other week, to see if it would be a good place to do Storage Unit Serenades.  It wasn't.

I probably should have spoken to the man for a while, since he seemed to want somebody to talk to, and in this period of social distancing, loneliness can grip us even tighter than before.  But I got the hell out of Dodge, embarrassed at being caught videoing myself (which sounds like I was doing stuff with fresh produce and a lot of KY jelly, but it really was just singing a song), and after I'd driven away, I realized I didn't get the Darth Vader figure out of storage that I'd sold on Sunday night.

Whoops, guess I know where I'll be going tomorrow.  Any song suggestions then?

I did a podcast with Big tonight, pretty much instead of writing.  I imagine it will please more people than my writing would, but it's still a bummer that the whole day is gone and I've only written two hundred-something words.

But I drank a Coke Zero at around nine-thirty, so I won't be going to sleep anytime soon.  Maybe I can write just a little bit more before it wears off.

Okay, at 1:45am, I decided to challenge myself to sit down and just start writing a story, from the beginning, and see how far I got by two.

It went pretty well, actually.  At two, though, I had just under five hundred words, and I was enjoying it (is that important, do you think?  Or should it always feel like work?), so I decided to go a little while longer.  At 2:19, I had just under a thousand words, so I wrote another sentence, and stopped at exactly a thousand.  It's what Big Anklevich would've done, I imagine.

So, here we are.  And I'll sign off now.

Words Today: 1223
Words In March: 39,373

*Does that sound weird, me describing some old guy's unit?  Is there a better word I can use?

Sunday, March 29, 2020

February Sweeps - Day 58

This morning, I drove around, recording my Patreon address, indulging in the sinfulness of being able to do something so irresponsible and selfish (which is nonsense, since we're not yet on lockdown, but again, I'm an empathetic person, and there are millions out there who are not allowed/able to go out and do something like that, and I can't help but feel guilty for my activity), and knowing that, chances are, I won't be able to do so next week, or sooner.

I was listening to a song yesterday, and it was just so heart-breakingly beautiful that I felt utterly inadequate as a person.  "If I could write something like that," I said to myself, "then surely I could be loved."  And I listened to the song again* throughout the day.  While I was running tonight, I thought, I'd like to write a Lara and the Witch book where Holcomb discovers that her love for the girl is greater than her love for her own life, and is forced to do something truly heroic for the first time in, well, sixty or seventy years at least.  If I were a better writer, I could--

And then I realized: that's THIS book.  That's what happens in this book, if I chose to see it that way.  I was just so focused on the eleven year old protagonist's viewpoint, and the Horror aspects of the second half of the story, that I never shown any light on the witch's mindset and what was going on in her heart.  I might have to throw a few lines in there, when I get to them, to see if I can't shine some light on Holcomb's attitude and thoughts and fears.

Or maybe that's a third book, though I really didn't want to write another one with a pre-teen Lara, preferring to skip ahead to when she's in high school.  Or maybe I just won't write any more of them after this one.  We'll see.

No writing today.  I could drive out to the park, sit in the car for an hour or so, and pound out some words.  That would be the responsible thing to do (don't let my mother hear me say that, though, since she thinks going out to get something out of the trunk of my car is putting lives in danger).

Well, I didn't do that.  Big had talked about painting some of his action figures, and I was always a peer pressure guy, so I decided to do it as well.  I got one of those huge Hulkbuster Iron Mans at a Goodwill (thrift store) back in September, and always meant to give it a cool paint job, but it has sat in a box in the backyard (probably collecting rainwater and black widow eggs) ever since.  So I grabbed it, and sprayed primer on it before I lost interest.

Like I said last year (or earlier), I find painting to be extraordinarily relaxing, almost like taking a nap in the middle of the day, except I don't lose time doing that.  But whenever I finish a painting project, I always feel sad (and wasteful) because I never do anything with the painted pieces--I don't sell them, I don't give them away, I don't display them.  They just go in a box somewhere, or worse, at the bottom of the closet.  and this one is way too big to display, so maybe I'm foolish there.

As far as words go, I didn't write a great deal tonight, just a bit here and there from "Three-Time Visitor," which will be my audiobook project after the Lara/Holcomb book, and then I added a bit here and there to Chapters 13 and 14.

BUT, I also discovered today that there's a half page of writing in my magic notebook from last Monday, that I didn't end up transcribing, and I didn't count as words Monday, so that, technically, screws up all my numbers for this week.  Maybe I'll type them up quickly and count them for today.

Words Today: 663 (not a lot, but it's not a competition)
Words In March: 38,150

*and again and again and again and again.  Oh, can't you see what I'm trying to say, darling?  I'd rather have my blood sucked out by leeches (leeches), or stick my nostrils together with Krazy Glue...

My Voice On "Elsie At 30,000 Feet" By Tim Pratt

My buddy Marshal Latham was kind enough to send me a story the other day, asking if I would narrate it for his Journey Into... podcast.

When I say "he was kind enough," you may think I'm sounding face--sarcastic*in saying Marshal did me a favor assigning me voicework for no pay.  But no, take it at face value.

Because "Elsie At 30,000 Feet" was such a good story that I felt truly honored that he picked me to narrate it.  I even tracked down Tim Pratt to compliment him on the story (and ask him about it).  It was an homage, of sorts, to "The Twilight Zone," and the kind of story I would write, if I were just a bit more talented than I am.

It tells of a sort of everyman, Gustavo, who gets on an airplane, and a strange woman, Elsie, sits down in the seat next to him.  She seems simply eccentric at first, but later, reveals herself to be something more sinister.

Tim Pratt wrote my favorite episode of EscapePod ever.  And the two Christmas stories I got to perform over on PodCastle (by him) are my two favorites there.  And now, well, here's a story I loved so much I wish I had it to perform for my own show(s).  But I got to voice the main character, and that's quite enough.**

Although, Christmas came early (along with the end of the world) because Marshal also had me come on as a guest on this episode, and we talk about the story and "The Twilight Zone" (specifically, the 2019 pseudo-retelling of "Nightmare At 20,000 Feet").

Check it out at THIS LINK.  Tell 'em I sent you.

*I don't use that other word.  I was told, if I ever said it, then Sean Connery would die.

**Because of the way I do things, I did perform the whole thing and all the characters before I sent it to Marshal.  So I have that version to set aside and break glass in case of emergency.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

March Sweeps - Day 57

It's a mushroom.
If I write even five words today, I beat my record for Most Days Writing In A Row.  And now, I'm devilishly tempted not to, just to say, "Eff it, I'll write tomorrow, but today, I'm going to do anything but."

I was audio editing the first of two identical chapters where Lara's sister walks in while she's performing a magic spell* and I vocally debate over whether I should say, "It was Emma, Lara's older sister, a puzzled look on her pretty face," or just "It was Emma, Lara's older sister, a puzzled look on her face."  See, this is what this critical talk of the Male Gaze I hear in the media all the time has done to me.  That I would worry that I'm male-ing up a story with almost no male characters  in it, (seriously, I've recorded eleven chapters, and the only one with a voiced male character was the first one--and that was a pixie), where the females are protagonists and the antagonist is male . . .where an eleven year old girl is jealous of her older sister being the pretty one. 

Well, I dropped "pretty" this time. 

But this kind of second-guessing is not healthy, kids.  It's hard enough to get these things out there without the spectre of Political Correctness run amok rearing its judgmental, unpretty head.  If I don't have confidence in my writing after thirty years, then it's just not coming.  And how many of you reading this will ever even read YIGH, the second "Lara and the Witch" book?  Maybe me and one other person.

The word "pretty" isn't all that important, except that I'm trying to establish that Lara is the second child, and her older sister is the favored one, the one with tons of friends, the one who everybody's so proud of when she gets a B in Social Studies, whereas Lara always gets As and Bs.  And look, I used to be know some sisters where one of them looked like a fudgin' supermodel and the other one looked like a regular human being, and I would be crazy not to write about how that must feel.

But hey, at this rate, that book's never going to come out anyway, so why am I stressing?

In my (further) defense, I did look up pictures of mushrooms this week, so I could have at least a temporary cover art for this book if I put it out.  I liked this one:

Because it is two mushrooms, one big and one small, representing Old Widow Holcomb and Lara Demming.  I dunno, though--there are no mushrooms in this story, that I recall.  And it's an awfully small image.  But shrooms are cool, guys.  Cooler than all of us.

I went for another good run tonight, and this was literally the first time I've ever encountered another jogger while I was doing it.  The dude was way faster than me, and he had a flashlight bouncing around his waist,** so he seemed more like a spaceship (or one of those glowing deep-sea fish you see in documentaries).  He passed me by quite easily, and for a minute or two, I imagined being given a proposition of some kind of reward if I could keep up with him (don't worry, they weren't all sexual), causing me to run faster than I normally would have. 

But there was no reward, and soon, he was a block away, and then so far off I could no longer see his light.  And as soon as he was gone, I wondered why I'd felt pressure to go harder than I was able, just because of a little competition.  Still don't know, but I'm sure I got my mile and a half in faster than I otherwise would, and now the sweat is running down my face and neck as I type this.  Swell.

So, I didn't actually sit down and write anything until after midnight, and when I did, it was on the above story.  I had a scene I had intended to write where Lara points out the aforementioned male character to her aforementioned sister, and Emma doesn't see him there.  I never actually wrote the scene, and later, when I got to the part where Lara tells the witch about it, I figured it didn't matter, it could've happened offscreen.

But no, it was just something I forgot to write.  So I wrote it and narrated it and we'll be sticking it in Chapter 9 or so.  You're welcome.

Words Today: 1091
Words In March: 37,487

P.S. I looked at where I was a month ago, and I'm around nine thousand words behind my total in February at this point.  I was more dismayed, however, to discover that I worked on my pizza place story on Feburary 28th, and still haven't finished it.  Well, some habits die hard.

*I must've just loved the concept, because there are literally two chapters where the exact same fronging thing happens.  And the same devilish voice that wants me not to write today tells me not to do a goddamn thing about it . . . "Hell, write a third chapter where that happens," it says, ". . . but not today.  Do it tomorrow."

**At least I think it was his waist.  Eeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaugh!!

Rish Outcast 167: Writers Conference Call (Part I)

As is tradition, Rish talks to Big Anklevich about his annual writers conference.  But this is only the first half of the conversation.  Stay tuned.

To download the show directly Right-Click HERE.

To support me on Patreon, kindly Left-Click HERE.

Logo by Gino "Call Me Anytime" Moretto.

Friday, March 27, 2020

March Sweeps - Day 56

Can I keep this writing thing up for one more day?

Can I go a single day without feeling sorry for myself?

Yes, and no.

So, one of the nearby counties went on lock-down today, the one where, I assume, they had the most cases of Coronavirus.  I think my childhood friend Dennis lives over there, but I may be dead to him, so I'd never know if he's locked-down or not.

Last night, I was worried that I might have caught it.  My chest burned and I was in discomfort, so of course I assumed the worst.  If I had it, then everyone in my family would get it, and . . . well, it was inevitable anyway.  But I looked at the symptoms, and they didn't match.  But eating homemade chili dogs did match . . . with heartburn, anyway.

But I hope I can be forgiven for being paranoid about every sneeze or body ache, or looking nervously toward anybody I see coughing or wiping their nose on their sleeve.  I imagine other people are feeling something similar, hence the dirty looks I get whenever I am caught picking my nose in public.

Let's see, what else do I talk about?

I recently had some arsehead buy a figure from me, then email me claiming (in broken English) it was the wrong size.  I emailed him back pointing out the three--count 'em, THREE--times I described the size in my listing, including the fudgin' title.  He then issued a dispute, and eBay gave me the choice of paying to have him return the figure for a refund, or just give him a refund.  There wasn't even a forum to plead my case this time around.
(Comelón was a really filthy thing to call someone in Argentina)
Well, the figure arrived back on Monday, and immediately, eBay was emailing me to give this guy a refund.*  I did nothing.  It was the only protest I was capable of.  They emailed on Tuesday, I did nothing.  They emailed on Wednesday, I did nothing.  Finally today, eBay just went ahead and took the money out of my account to give back to this dirtbag.  This isn't a Tale of eBay Horror or anything, because it's not very interesting, but it's endlessly fascinating that a buyer can just lie, and get his money back, and they've made it even easier than it used to be.

But nobody makes me sell on eBay, do they?  Just like nobody makes YOU read this awful thing each and every day.

What's that?  You don't?  Oh, okay, never mind then.

I went to both the storage unit and the park today (neither of which will be allowed soon, right?), and I actually got more writing done than exercise (at the latter--at the former, I didn't do nothin' except try to get a song recorded**).  Although the Meechelle story is not done (it needs one more beat at the 75% mark), I did write that one through to the end, which is nice, though I wonder if it's any good.  This was the one I was trying to make scary, and once I decided what the threat was going to be (big surprise: it's a ghost), it was easier to steer it in the direction home.

I like Meechelle.  It's a pity about her name.

I didn't get a lot of blogging done today, but that's fine.  I got our latest "Delusions of Grandeur" episode edited--even though it took me so long, it's hopelessly out of date now.  But ah well: not every day has to be a marathon.

Whoops.  Wrong analogy.  Too soon?

Words Today: 1609
Words In March: 36,396

*In his defense, he at least returned (paid for by me) the same figure I sold him, instead of mailing me back something else, which I'm absolutely certain eBay would've let him get away with.  It's like they're always saying: they need him more than they need me.

**It took so many takes that I started to question the whole affair.  One of the times the video was out of focus, once the wind blew the camera over (and if the wind is blowing that hard, why haven't I learned that the sound will be ruined by now?), one of the times I sort of stumbled and then tried not to laugh for half a version, two or three times I couldn't remember the "sits on the porch swing watching them fly" line, and twice the video just turned off before the end.  On the second-to-last take, a truck drove by, and someone in it whooped and hollered in what was surely a loud voice of encouragement, but I interpreted as them mocking me.
Come on, you know they were mocking me.  I would too, if I rode in a truck.  And so would you.

Storage Unit Serenade 3 (Redux)

Since I have one I'd like to drop on the first of April, and they have completely filled up my Dropbox (honestly, I could post one of these I've already recorded a week and it would get us through summer without having to do any more), I'm going to post my full version of Sting's "I'm So Happy (I Can't Stop Crying)," which was the first song I ever Storage Unit Serenaded.

Once I got my new(ish) phone, I realized I could do whole songs instead of just a minute or so from a song.

Stats don't apply on this one (a redo), though it's in the Nineties category.

Don't forget, you're under no obligation to watch these, though I AM obliged to do them whenever I go to the storage unit.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

March Sweeps - Day 55

Two more days, and I've beaten my record.  Wouldn't it be delightful if I didn't write tomorrow, or the next day?  I'm almost tempted to not write, just as a . . .

No, that doesn't hurt anybody but myself.  And what kind of point would that even make?

That reminds me of something I said this week on here: I made a sort of joking reference to running a marathon, after my nightly jog.  It's because last month somebody was talking about training for a marathon in September, and I felt super inadequate because I would never be able to do something like that.  Driving home today, I saw a sign for a marathon in June and suddenly, it struck me: a marathon is twenty-six miles.  Twenty-six miles.

In other words, let's say I ran a mile every day in February except for on the Jewish sabbath.  All that together would not equal what a marathon is.

Even half a marathon is thirteen miles, and dude, unless you're Bria Burton that's just some bullshit right there.  I hate myself more than anybody else I know hates themselves, and I would never do that to myself.  I had a friend who once stuck a safety pin in his . . . his, uh, rutabaga, just so he could say that he knew what that felt like, and that seems more normal and more healthy than punishing your body for twenty-six miles.  So, no, I apologize for making that joke.  It was in poor taste.  There's not enough hate in my body for me to wish that on someone.

And sorry about your rutabaga.

I published another episode of "The Twilight Groan" last night.  I believe there are nine episodes 'Thex and I have done together.  I wonder if I should create a webpage for that show, the same way Big Anklevich created a page for the Rish Outcast, many years ago.  Big, what was that site for, again, so that a feed would link to it?

In other news, the whole state of Texas (where Big lives and is an essential employee) went on lock-down, or house-arrest, or whatever the schlontz they call it today.  I guess we'll be locked down soon.  In anticipation of that, I drove up to the canyon again today.  It was the same road I took to visit the frozen waterfall a month ago, but everything has melted since then (when I woke up this morning there was snow on the ground, so I thought it might be a pretty time to visit it again), so I took the next exit after the falls and thought I'd walk down to them instead of up like I did last time.

But to my surprise, the hiking trail is now open, and I decided to explore that first/instead.  There were a few people up there, here and there, but I get the impression they are like me, and are hesitant to gather or be where others are congregating.  I don't want to get sick or get anybody sick, or even look like I'm cavalier about it (although time will tell if I look back at going up to the canyon during a pandemic as dangerously irresponsible or unarguably harmless.

It was unbelievably overcast and grey, with low clouds that made everything look almost black and white.

The hiking trail split in both directions, and I chose the road less traveled (by which I mean, there was a big paved trail/road where you could ride a bike or jog side-by-side with your best gal, and another meandering dirt track that BARELY fit a single person walking by themselves), which would have made all the difference if I had slipped and fallen at some point.  Like I said, there were people around, but not enough to mock me for setting up my camera and singing a Storage Unit song, or coming to my rescue if I were injured and calling for help.

But it was kind of a beautiful trail, that went up on the mountain, and might have eventually come out alongside the waterfall, where climbers meet their demise pretty much every single year up there.  I didn't find out how far it went, because I found a handy spot that overlooked the canyon road and watched cars (and a dubious amount of semi trucks) whiz by, and tried to sing a song to post on this blog, in a month or so from now, when we're hopefully all recovering from the Coronavirus epidemic.

I also took this one, in case you think I'm not geeky enough.

I often hear songs on the radio and think, "Oh, I should do that one," but when I actually go to the storage unit, I can't remember what they are, or if I do, I can't remember all the words.  It's really quite embarrassing to not be able to sing as well as I thought I could.  What I need to do is make a list of songs that I have in my car, and print out the lyrics to a couple, so I can at least go over them before I look so foolish and/or have to do a bunch of takes because I can't remember how the song goes.

But hey, like Sarah's coworker in THE TERMINATOR told her, "In a hundred years, who's gonna care?"

I did get some writing and editing done today, most of it after I'd come down from my mountain walk.  The snow had melted into rain, and there was some mud, but for the most part, the weather was fine (low forties, but I had a coat).  I sat in the car for a half an hour and wrote a bit more on "Meet the New Clerk," but I just haven't reached the confrontation point yet.  If I'd just sit down and force myself to do it, we'd find out what's the deal with this particularly mean-spirited spirit.

I like the shadows here.  It's how I look best.
I also wrote some on the Little Caesar's story I'd been planning to write for over a decade now.  It's been so long, I'm considering changing it from Little Caesar's (the first job I was ever fired from) to my fictional pizza franchise, Fat Ian's Pizza.  I mentioned Fat Ian's in "Sucker For Mystery," (as well as a dozen other stories, going back to "Chance Encounter" in 1997, where I thought my classmate Ian would be flattered other than offended) and I'm probably getting the details wrong for LC, even in 1992, when the story takes place.  It doesn't matter, though, since that story will probably not see the light of day.  Another one for the "In a hundred years, who's gonna care?" file.

Words Today: 1764
March Words: 34,787

Twilight Groan 4: Nightmare At 30,000 Feet (1983)

Rish and Cathexis depart from the Original Series and check out the remade segment "A Nightmare At 20,000 Feet" from the 1983 TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE.

While this will not be typical, from time to time (if the show continues), it might be fun to see remakes and updates from the non-classic show.

If you wanna download this directly, just Right-Click HERE.

If you wanna be my lover, you've got to get with my friends.

If you care to support me/us on Patreon, go to THIS LINK.

Next up: Anne Francis sticks around . . . after hours.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

March Sweeps - Day 54

(they're sunglasses, not a bikini top)
Not much new to report today.

Oh, except that Marshal Latham texted me to let me know his state went on lock-down.  I don't know if there's a statistic somewhere that says which states are at what level of quarantine, but I figured, with Idaho closing its doors, it won't be long before I'm not allowed to go to the park or pick up a pizza myself.*  So, I made it a point to get together with my cousin (for the first time since this started) to have lunch, in case tomorrow or the next day, we're no longer able to do that.

Actually (two in this post . . . so far), I felt a little bit guilty about it, in case it was irresponsible of me to hang out with him during his lunch hour at work, sit in a car with him, eat food in the deserted breakroom at his job.  Still, he's the only person I see socially anymore, and if it's our last time going out, well, we talked about the stuff we always talk about, and that never gets old.

I started editing our newest "Delusions of Grandeur" episode today, but it's slow-going.  I'm currently at the thirteen minute mark, and I think I'll do a couple more minutes and pause at fifteen.  I also edited a chapter of the Lara/Holcomb story (only Chapter 2, so it'll be a while), but was starting to fall asleep there, so I might stop and do my run a bit early.

Oh yes, I also wrote today.  I went to the park, did the stairs, yadda yadda yadda.  I feel like, if the library were open, I'd be finished with this story and on to the next one (and maybe the next after that).  I believe there is something to that dictum that you should find a place where you only go to write, until your brain gets used to writing when you go there, otherwise why is it so much harder for me to sit in the car or on my bed and write for more than a few minutes at a time?

I did my run, and it wasn't as easy as it had been the last two or three days.  But I had gone up and down those darn stairs this afternoon until I thought my legs might collapse out from under me, so I don't feel like I was slacking off.

After that, I sat down and re-recorded Chapter 3 (for some reason, the sound was messed up on it--which I believe happened a bunch of times on "Calling 2"), and then Chapter 12.  I looked at Chapter 13, and it took place later in the story.  I guess I should've checked 14 and 15, in case one of those was out of order, but instead, I just wrote up a mini-chapter to put between them, that explained why the new Chapter 14 took place later.  And I recorded that.

So that, plus what little I wrote at the park, equaled 1,153 words.  I might sit down and write more, but for now, I'm publishing this.

Words Today: 1277
Words In March: 33,023

*Actually, the other day, I did go by the pizza place, figuring I'd pick one up, and the line went out the door, even with social distancing, so I just drove home and made myself some soup.  Not due to fear of Covid-19, but due to laziness.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

March Sweeps - Day 53

I thought maybe I could finish the story today, but I podcasted and drove around instead.  It was indulgent and probably a waste of a couple of hours, but I don't know how much longer I'll be free to just go where I want to go when I want to do it, so I took the opportunity when I had it.  Big told me his city (Houston) got put on lockdown today (or whatever they're calling it, where people are supposed to stay home unless doing vital business, you know?), though he has a press pass in his car that lets the powers that be know that he's essential personnel.

We're not quite there yet, but I imagine it's coming.  That treadmill I bought in 2005 is going to become awfully exciting in a week or so.

In other news, I got my audiobook of "The Calling: Reunion" back today, a mere fifty-three days after submitting it to them (honestly, I thought they'd approved it and never gotten back to me and checked three times in the past month, never finding it), saying that every single file is too quiet and has too much noise in it.  I don't know if that's an amusing contradiction or not, I only know that it ain't good news.  That surprised me, and makes me not want to bother trying to fix it.

We'll see, though.  Seems like some of the recent files I've been editing do have a bit of a hiss to them.

I went to the park again and did the stairs--there were a bunch of people in the park exercising and running around with their dogs, and a couple of them were quite attractive--and I wrote a little bit on my story.  Then, when it got dark, I did my jogging thing again.  It was nice.  Like yesterday, I didn't feel like I was going to die at any part of the run, and I felt pretty proud of myself when it was done.  Maybe that's how normal people feel all the time.

I think I'd rather sit down and record tonight instead of writing or editing, but that's just me.  And just now.  Who knows how I'll feel in three hours.

I have recorded the first nine segments (chapters) of my Lara Demming* sequel, and I checked and it's at just under 28,000 words, so I assume it'll lay around 30,000-32,000 when it's done.  That's not quite a novel, but it's still pretty good for me.  At this rate, its audio will be out before "The Calling 2" is.  I think I'll sit down right now and record Chapter 10.

Words Today: 1527
Words In March: 31,746

*I just remembered that I named Lara after some lady I knew who was nice to me circa 2012/13, but I can't remember what her first name was anymore.  I guess that's what happens when I "honor" folks with character names . . . sometimes the characters live on long past my interaction with the people do.

Storage Unit Serenade 8

I screwed this up enough that I thought I'd record a second take, with more of the song. But that one I screwed up even more.*   Not sure if it will see the light of day.

I believe this is the last one I did vertically, preferring the horizontal format on the ones after this.  And remember, you don't HAVE to watch this thing.

Okay, here's my favorite part: the stats!
Pre-Eighties Songs: 2
Eighties Songs: 3
Nineties Songs: 1
Aughts Songs: 0
Teens Songs: 2

*I've never edited one of these before.  I could certainly try, but I don't know what the result would be.

Monday, March 23, 2020

February Sweeps - Day 52

I wonder if, a year from now, or ten, I will be much more curious about the Covid-19 virus scare/plague than in what stories I'm working on, how much exercise I'm getting, or if that long-forgotten-by-then girl said hi to me or not.*  This is truly, as the Chinese curse goes, an interesting time.

Someone today said that school is closed until May 1st, as opposed to mid-April as it stood Friday.  If that's true, I am going to dance about in joy and relief come the First of May (any takers on what song I'll be singing that day?).  The kids have been home all day, and they're just out of control, screaming and running around from the break of day until the sun sets in the west.  Tensions run high, and even though it's the children that are draining our vitality, my sister and I have been butting heads more than usual these days.

I hear people complain about not being able to go to clubs and concerts and basketball games and public stonings and bars, and I feel for you, I really do.  When you get those things back, take me with you, would you?

I may have told this story already, but I'll tell it again: my mother is very much opposed to me going out to stores, as I am wont to do.  I hadn't been to Walmart since last Monday, when I only looked for groceries, but she's got it into her head that I keep toy-hunting at the dozen or so stores that have been on my rotation every week for, what?, four or five years now?  On Friday, I was going to go to GameStop to pick up a two-player Minecraft for the kids, but my mom's worries that I would get infected and then infect her made me stay home.  I thought about going on Saturday and Sunday, but both days, went to the park and the storage unit instead.**

Today, she asked me about Walmart, and how irresponsible I am to keep going there, and I told her I hadn't been to any of them in a week.  "Oh," she said, "well, if you go, here's a list of stuff you can pick up for me."

That seemed amusing to me, in a sad way.  Honestly, I'm not trying to be cavalier about this disaster (does it qualify as a disaster yet?  Abigail Hilton is out of work, hanging out in her house all day writing novels about murderous/horny pan-sexual rodents, so I'd label that as at least close to a disaster), but I go to the grocery store and there's no rice, there's no wipes, there's no pasta, there's no soup, and there's no bread . . . so why would I be done with shopping?

So, I did go to the grocery store, stand outside GameStop, hit Walgreens, and the one Walmart of the week.  It felt like the old routine, which I appreciated.

I did my running today, and it was the best I've ever done.  I won't go as far as to say that I enjoyed it, but I never stopped, and after the first few blocks, I got that second wind Billy Joel wrote a song about (honestly, it was my first exposure to that concept), and during the last song that played ("Burn Down the Mission), I actually sped up instead of slowed down.  Oh, I'm still fat, don't get me wrong, but maybe I'll run a marathon in September as well, just to be rid of her.

Hey, so I did find toilet paper at Walmart today.  There were only six or seven packages of it left (the employee had just moved on to putting out paper towels), and it was the insanely overpriced most famous name brand--probably what Jennifer Lawrence wipes with (if she even has to wipe, I'm not really sure how that works with her)--but I bought a pack, because my big sister's house is apparently running out.  One day, whether we survive this or not, we'll all talk about the toilet paper the way people talk about burning draft cards during the late Sixties or businessmen jumping out of buildings in 1929.

Afterward, I went to the little park where I used to take my nephews to catch fish, and told myself I would write for a half an hour.  I nearly set a timer, but thought I could trust myself to actually do what I set out to do.  And I got nearly two thousand words done (took an hour, but that's what you get when you don't set a timer).

I am actually closing in on the end of this D&B story, "Meet the New Clerk, Same as the Old Clerk."  It tells of Meechelle, who quit working there years ago after something unexplained happened, and now is working there again, but is afraid of something unexplained.  I called up Big today to talk to him about my idea of what it is that she's afraid of.  He didn't tell me it was a sandbox pail full of crap, so I guess that's what I'm going with.  I'm also experimenting with her relationship with her coworkers, going from disdaining to liking Natalie Whitmore, then back to disliking her.  And she occasionally looks at Mason like an awkward geek, then like a little brother, and then like someone she's attracted to.

I don't know if that works in the story or not, but I certainly know people that I waver in how I feel about them.  That guy Tanner, for example, I go from really admiring him to wishing he were my best friend to, "Hey, where did Tanner go?"  "Oh, he's on vacation in Montana this week."  "Folks do that?  Go to Montana?"  People are complicated.

 I haven't done any jogging today, but this'll seem strange: I'm looking forward to it.  (I initially wrote "I'm actually looking forward to it," but I recognize that I overuse the word "actually" in my posts, so I did a search to see how many of my thousand blogposts used that word . . . and it was all of them.  So, I'll try to use a different word from now on.

If one actually exists.

Words Today: 1908
Words In March: 31,746

*She did not.

**And then today, I discovered that GameStop has closed to walk-in customers.  You can order stuff online, and pick it up at the store, but they'll bring it out to you.  I guess the kids didn't really need more video games anyway.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

February Sweeps - Day 51

Today was Sunday, and I burned another hour today watching Letterman reruns.  One day, I'll get in a time machine and go back to 1984, see if I can get a job as a writer or an intern on "Late Night."  Maybe get a drink served by a young Bruce Willis, perhaps date Drew Barrymore for a while.*  I guess that would mean living in New York, though.  Aww, forget it.

After counting up my (few) words yesterday and tabulating my monthly total, I realized I've fallen way farther behind this month than last month, despite being exponentially busier in February.  But then, writing wasn't my chief priority in March (publishing was supposed to be, and how, exactly, has that gone?).

Still, today is Sunday, and I haven't left the house (except to take the trash out).  The sun is shining and kids are being super loud in their backyard (sounding like they're in my own backyard).  I really ought to drive to the park, sit down, and not move until a) I reach a thousand words, or 2) I crap my pants.

Of course, the latter seems more likely right now.

I saw a request for entries for an anthology of stories about wizards the other day, and thought I'd at least see if I could come up with an idea I liked with a wizard in it.  It shouldn't be a priority, since I'm hip-deep in two (or three) other unfinished stories right now, and there's, technically, a wizard in my Lara & the Witch sequel (I got this idea of filming me recording the levitation chapter, and releasing it here, just in case people get a kick out of watching the narration).

I've always liked the stories about villages that shun somebody because they're different, or ugly, or powerful, and then they end up coming to that person to ask for help later.  That could easily be the basis for a wizard story, where they kick the old man out because  . . . well, it's always religion that causes these things, so that's pretty easy.  And then, well, what happens?  A plague comes?  Monsters?  Invading hordes?  A portal to a place where demons dwell?  So they have to go to him, hat in hand, and ask if he'll make the bad stuff go away.  And of course, he does, but not before lecturing them about prejudice and fearing those they don't understand, and making them all grovel just a bit.  And he's able to solve their problems, after which, they welcome him back into the bosom of their village again.

And then it's revealed he opened the portal to begin with, to set the demons on the folks that hurt his feelings with their superstitions.  Seems pretty straightforward, don't it?

So, I did go to the park, sat there, typed a thousand words, then did the damn stairs, and went back to the car and did another thousand words.  I jogged, listed over a hundred items on eBay, finished my edit for StarShipSofa, and recorded two Lara/Holcomb chapters.

Not bad, eh?

Words Today: 2625
Words In March: 29,838

*Whoops, I guess she would've been nine in 1984.  I didn't do the math properly, big shock.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

March Sweeps - Day 50

I don't feel much like writing these days.  I think I enjoy blogging a lot more.

But hey, today marks fifty days in a row I've been writing.  I went to that park I keep going to, wrote a little bit, and was shocked to see how many people were out and about.  We're supposed to keep six feet away from other people, but holy smoke, there were bicyclists, joggers, a bunch of Hispanic futbol enthusiasts, a huge gathering of dogwalkers, fudgin' skateboarders, old folks out for a walk, a shitload of children, and a rollerblader.  It was like a hot air balloon festival, or a church social, or a Mike Bloomberg rally or something.

It actually made ME uncomfortable, and I only did the stairs once before turning tail, crapping my pants, and getting back in the car again.  I did think about how really popular, really social people (okay, one person in particular) are going out of their freaking minds right now without the possibility of hanging out with their twenty-five closest, making human snowmen, or rollin' around in a mosh pit at whatever they call a rave in 2020.  It must be pretty hard not to--

What's a human snowman, you ask?  Well, Seth, it's that thing where you stack three naked midgets on top of each other, and put pieces of coal and a carrot inside them.

Regardless, I have heard people with friends complain about social isolation, and to be honest, my vast storage tanks of empathy are running a little low in that regard.  Let's talk about something else.

I went to the storage unit again, went through a box, and grabbed out the, say, five most valuable figures from it to sell on the internet.  Have I mentioned that people are still buying toys?  It's a little baffling, but I can definitely use the money.*  I am obligated to do a song whenever I go over there (three trips this week means three songs in the can), so I asked Fake Sean if he would do one for me.  As a reward, I discovered that the rear passenger tire on my car was flat.

That ate up a bit more of my Saturday, and I honestly only got a few words of writing in the whole day.  I'm still working on my "Dead & Breakfast" story all about Meechelle, and I am trying to make the ghosts in this one a bit scarier, a bit more malevolent.  It probably makes no sense that the ghosts are willing to help and comfort Mason Bradley, but they seem to want to torment poor Meechelle, whose only crime is having a terrible name.  But ghosts can be like that, right?

And maybe it's not a ghost that's after her.  Maybe it's something else.  Hmm.

I also thought about my story "Who You Gonna Call?" which was the last D&B story I completed, and wondered if maybe I shouldn't call it something else.  That title is a little . . . I dunno, too on the nose, or too trademarked or something.  Later in the day, I heard the Boingo song "Sucker For Mystery," and hadn't heard it in ten years or so.  I love Oingo Boingo as much as you love . . . well, your cat, probably, since everybody but me loves cats.

I read through the lyrics, hoping I could find some inspiration there, but it's quite a dark song ("I've seen children with such angry faces, When you look in their eyes, it makes you want to cry.  Now it doesn't seem fair, But who cares-- they're someone else's, As long as they don't come close to mine?"), and "Who You Gonna Call?" is easily the lightest of the D&B stories.  I guess I don't have to decide till I publish it or podcast it, which, depending on the length of the work-from-home, could be soon.

Better, right?

Oh, so today, I decided to climb the mountain I had intended to hit a couple weeks back.  It was a warmish day (in the upper fifties), with lots of sun, and I drove around, looking for the goshdarn make-out point I couldn't find last time, and managed to find it with lots of time to spare.  I parked and hiked up the mountain trail . . . finding a whole heck of a lot of other people with the same idea (once again, social distancing seems dubious with this many people on the hill, but I imagine they're all relatively healthy because it's a four mile hike).  Is that crazy?

I like the JJ-inspired lens flare in this one.
And wow, I did struggle the first half of the way up the trail.  I had a long-sleeve button-up shirt, and was sweating in it hard enough I wished I had brought something lighter.  Here's my usual photogenic self:

I listened to a few tunes, took a few pictures, and struggled to keep going without stopping.  Eventually, I caught my second wind, and went all the way to the top where, once I sat down and watched the sun fade away, I realized I was cold instead of hot.
I thought this was cute, including my feet in the picture.
I took a couple (fairly spectacular) pictures, but because I was paranoid about infecting someone with my dumbassery virus, I didn't dare ask anybody to take my picture, like I totally would have two weeks ago.  I saw so many people gathered at the top of the trail that, again, I felt nervous, just because the media has tried to make us nervous.*

And then, it was time to make my way back down the mountain.  Because of my experience two weeks back (falling down and not being able to see where I was stepping), I wanted to get down before it got too dark.  Also, the trail is so steep that, two years ago, when I came up with my nephew, he quite literally ran all the way down the trail, and I tried to keep up.  There were moments when my feet (in 2018) barely touched the ground, and I felt like I was flying.

In 2020, all by myself, I have to admit that I didn't trust the rocky dirt trail like I did following a child.  I let myself run on one straight stretch, and it was exhilarating (the gravity pretty much pushes you faster and faster and, yes, it feels just like you're either flying or being puppeted by that Fantastic Four villain that always makes Sue take her top off [he's underused]).  But I kept thinking about what would happen if I slipped, or hit a loose rock, and what would happen to me if I broke my leg up there, or threw out my back, or go my whole life without ever visiting a gloryhole . . . and I had to stop, force myself to go at a slow, safer pace.

Flight was meant for birds and Brandon S, I suppose.

I made it to the bottom of the stretch in approximately 1/5th the time it took to climb up it, and though I was sweaty (and probably smelled like a Gamorrean Guard's litterbox), I had the energy to jog the rest of the way to my car.  When I got to the parking lot, I discovered that a) it was full of cars, and 2) a lot of those cars had fogged-up windows, just like in the movies.  It made me laugh, and I got in my car and talked to Big Anklevich for a while, listening to him tell me of his many experiences, uh, steaming up windshields.

The car to my immediate left had a couple in it that I could occasionally see the legs of (I nearly typed "sans pants, of course," but that would be a lie, an embellishment to make this town quite a bit sexier), which made me feel like I shouldn't be looking over.  More vehicles arrived while I was sitting there, the one next to me filled with co-eds there to enjoy the rest of the sunset, and hopefully, letting their fingers do the walking for a while.  Must be nice.

Afterward, I started up my engine and, backing out of my spot, I discovered that I had fogged up the windshield of my own car.  So . . . there's that.

And that's it for this blog entry.  I finished a That Gets My Goat episode, which I'll probably post next week (it's a part two of this week's part one), and started editing a story for another podcast.  I also spent over an hour watching old David Letterman clips someone uploaded to the 'Tube.  I love David Letterman almost as much as I love Oingo Boingo.

I meant to publish this last night, but I couldn't get it to work.  I'd try to upload a photo, and the entire program would crash.  So I'd start it again, and it would crash.  Finally, I realized that it's been bugging me for days about a system update, so I closed all my open files (including the audio project files that always sit open, in case someone invokes the name of Brandon Sanderson, or an episode needs some outtakes), and restarted the laptop.

When it started up again, it said "Windows is updating, do not turn off computer," and said it was at 0%.  And ten minutes later, it was at 2%.  So, I retired for the evening, and that's fine, I guess, except for I really should've written a little more, or at least recorded another couple of chapters.  But climbing a mountain tired me out, I guess, and my fiftieth day ended on a fairly weak number.

Words Today: 382 (pretty sad, considering this post is nearly 2000 words)
Words This Month: 27,213
Words Total: 75,165

*Actually, one of them has sold since I started typing this.

**And I have been told, by a person in the know, that I SHOULD be nervous.  That being blase about all this is exactly how entire communities get infected and quarantined.  Dumb and self-centered millennials that think they're immortal aren't the only ones who will doom us all.  I believe the exact quote she sent me was "Are you frightened?  Not nearly frightened enough--I know what hunts you."

Rish Outcast 166: Wish In One Hand...

In this short episode, I share my contest-losing short story "Wish In One Hand..."

Just put up with it, okay?  It's short.

To download it directly, just Right-Click HERE.

Is podcasting no longer important, with all the furor going on around us?  Or is it more important than ever?  If you feel it's the latter, feel free to support me on Patreon HERE.

Logo by Gino "Pissindeothah" Moretto.

Friday, March 20, 2020

February Sweeps - Day 49

No writing today, beotches!!

Well, not so far.

You may be curious if people are buying action figures during this pandemic/Corona virus thing.  And to my surprise, I sold ten figures just today, and a few last night.  My sister seemed dubious that anyone would want to buy toys when outside, it's raining men (halleluiah), but my suspicion is that a lot of people are stuck indoors right now, and are enjoying watching TV and playing video games and worshiping The Goat With A Thousand Young . . . and collecting action figures.

And thank goodness, since I'll inevitably have that costly ticket to pay, for going 97 in an 80 zone.

I went for a good long run tonight, just after sunset.  After a day of accomplishing almost nothing fulfilling today, I thought I would try to run a full mile without stopping or walking.  I surprised myself that I was able to do it, but with no one around to see me, did it really happen?  I tried thinking about writing while I ran, but instead I thought about all the songs I'd like to sing at the storage unit in the next few weeks (went twice this week, and was listening to today's recording, and the damned wind was blowing during half the song!  I might have to go again tomorrow and redo it, loathe as I am to do so*).

I edited a bit today, nearly finishing a "Twilight Groan" (my first one recorded in 2020) and about half done with our next That Gets My Goat.  Since there were no takers on the Dunesteef story I edited, I guess I'll just have Big Anklevich listen to it.  He kind of has to anyway.

I also noticed that my story for the Journey Into... Journey contest is due in about ten days.  I really ought to sit down and read that through tonight, so I have plenty of time to revise if I need to.  I also started editing the Lara and the Witch audiobook, and I'm missing Chapter 2.  I have the Prologue, Chapter 1, 3,4, and 5, but no 2.  I ought to record (or re-record) that tonight.  And then maybe "Three-Time Visitor" should get recorded too.  Not that I'm going to do any of those things: I haven't written yet.

I would've gone to the library today, if it had been open.  I did go to the park to eat my lunch, but didn't write, and only went up and down the stairs a single time.

I got a very nice message today from a fan, saying that she appreciated my stories and though she considered herself a creative person, she could never just "make up stories" like I seem to do.  She told me not to underestimate my abilities.  And that made me feel good.

I sat down and recorded three chapters of that audiobook, and with the little additions that I put in here and there, I probably have clocked less than a hundred words tonight (and it's 1:14am).  That's bad, isn't it?  I'm going to sit down and record one or two more chapters, since I'm not tired.

I looked at myself in the mirror a couple of minutes ago, and though I have one hair on my forehead that keeps coming in white (I always pluck it when I see it), I have been pretty lucky not to age as fast as some of the people around me.**  I've got some lines around my eyes, and white hairs in my beard, but I have been lucky to stay young-looking all these years (my friend Mick, who I haven't seen for nineteen years, claims I look exactly the same as I did then, and I never tire of telling the story of being twenty-six years old and being cast as a Middle Schooler in a TV show when I moved to L.A.--a middle schooler is, apparently, twelve to fourteen years old).

Just today, there was a pretty delightful lady that I saw--a good social distancing distance away, mind you--grooving out to Ice Ice Baby by Vani--aw, you know who it's by.  Anyway, she caught me looking, and to put her at ease, I too sang along, "Will it ever stop?  Yo, I don't know.  Turn off the lights, and I'll glow," etc.  And she said, "Oh, so you like this song too?  I thought I was the only one who still did."  And I said, "I'm actually old enough to like it unironically."  And she said, "You don't look like you're old enough to have been alive when it came out."

Which is really a (second) very nice thing for someone to say to me today.

We're only as old as we feel, ladies and gentlemen.  Word to your mother.

Words Today: 522 (which is terrible result, after over an hour of recording four chapters)
Words In March: 26,831

*Today's was my most elaborate production to date too, with a sort of costume and everything.

**I'll often watch a black and white movie, where there's a man in his fifties as one of the main characters, and invariably someone will mention that he is thirty-eight.  Or thirty-five.  Or thirty.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

March Sweeps - Day 48

Two more days and I'll have written fifty days in a row.

If you're like me, and you're going a little stir crazy, with extra time on your hands each day (what else you gonna do, watch the news?  That's as aggravating as reading 4Chan posts), you try to keep active, and look for things to do, other that watch TV or sleep.

But I've got a new tradition, it seems, of going to the park and runn--er, trying to run up and down the stairs there, then going back to the car and writing on my laptop until it gets dark.  I've done it three times this week, and it's lonely, but I like it.

Speaking of lonely, I stopped by the mall today when I heard it was still open, and I stepped inside, and froze in my tracks.  The mall was mostly shuttered, and it was the first time I have gone there as an adult that I didn't feel hopelessly unattractive (I guess that's a silver lining, eh?).  I grabbed my phone, to capture the eeriness while I took a look around the mostly-empty building.

GameStop and one other store were still open (that I saw), and there were other customers in the far distance (but not close enough to break any social distancing statutes), but for a minute or so, I was completely alone in the mall.  There was a girl at one of those middle kiosks that sell body wash or perfume or whatever, looking so bored and lonely that I longed to approach her and say, "Now you see, my dearest.  But when this is all over, you will still be attractive.  And maybe you will now have empathy for the rest of us.  Goodbye."

But I didn't.

Now, it wasn't quite deserted enough that I could hear the music of Goblin playing while I walked around*, but boy, it was surreal, and I actually felt guilty walking around there, like I was doing something wrong.  And maybe I was--maybe everybody else was smart enough to not go to a place where hundreds of people normally congregate.  But that's the mall my mother took me to see RETURN OF THE JEDI at in 1983 (and '85), so it will always be a special place for me.

After I turned tail and ran from the tears-thirsty revenants** that roam the empty mall, I got my writing done and, though it was cold out and I had already done the stairs, I went running again.  I didn't experience a repeat of that weird phenomenon from the other night.  But I will say this: the first half mile was harder than the second, or the third.  I'm still fat and I'm still slow, but I'm improving.

Words Today: 1782
Words In March: 26,309

*That's a DAWN OF THE DEAD reference, kids.

**These are the souls of all the shoppers trampled over a Cabbage Patch Doll or stabbed for a Tickle Me Elmo or those that hanged themselves when KB Toys went under, or whose hearts just exploded when teenage girls first started wearing leggings.  A motley assortment of undead beings.

Storage Unit Serenade 7

I don't care whether you like these at this point.  Just gonna keep on doing them.

As always, you don't HAVE to watch it . . .

This one is actually a re-do, since the original (which I still haven't deleted from my Dropbox, despite it claiming it's out of space and for a reasonable fee, it can give me plenty of room) was done in a rainstorm, and that's pretty much all you could hear.

Running Tally
Pre-Eighties Songs: 2
Eighties Songs: 2
Nineties Songs: 1
Aughts Songs: 0
Teens Songs: 2

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

February Sweeps - Day 47

So, there was an earthquake this morning, which is an unusual occurrence around here.*  There was a fairly big earthquake back in 1992, and I remember being freaked out about it (I was reading a Stephen King book at the time--I remember it being a hardcover "The Dark Half," but that came out in 1989, so it might have been "Needful Things"--and the room started swaying around me, leading me to say, "I promise I won't say no more bad swears!  I promise I won't hawk no more dirty books!  I promise I'll eat all my lima beans!"

Well, this one was at seven-something in the morning, and it woke me up.  Honestly, my bed was rocking like Big Anklevich's on a Tuesday, and they said it was a 5.7 on the William Fichtner scale.

While a 5.7 isn't The Big One, it was still the most significant earthquake we've had since . . . wow, 1992.  It still damaged a few old buildings, a few walls came down, and Big's old news station (and mine as well, I suppose) dedicated most of the day to reporting about it.  There was flooding at the airport, a lot of neighborhoods (briefly) lost power, and it was followed by more than fifty palpable aftershocks (we're still feeling them days later).  Well, if that don't get you back to church, nothing wi--

Oh yeah, church is canceled for the foreseeable future.  Whoops.  Sorry, ladies.

My sister, prompted by my mother, who is continually stirred into a panic from the media she consumes, woke me shortly after the earthquake, and asked if I would go to Costco with her, to load up on, you guessed it, toilet paper and such.  I didn't really want to go, but I try to be a good brother, and responsible(ish) and make myself available to those around me.  I drove her to Costco (which is a big warehouse/bulk store, where people buy pallets of items rather than just one or two), and saw something that I usually only see on Black Friday each year: a line of people going around the building and down the street, waiting to get into the store.

Honestly, I've never seen its like.  Even on Force Friday in 2015, when Toys R Us had people lined up down to RC Willey two stores down, it wasn't like this (plus a couple of those guys were dressed as Stormtroopers, so it was a happy queue rather than a terrifying one--come on, you've seen those guys shoot a blaster).  We're supposed to be practicing social distancing (the official handbook says, "Imagine Rish Outfield at a school dance"), but the line of people and carts was such that we got to know everybody in the line around us, asked what people were there for, and if they felt the earthquake or not.  To their credit, none of the people--not a one--were assholes, but I've a feeling that the assholes wouldn't be standing in the line to begin with.

Costco is a store where you have to have a membership to get in, but I found out that some people who are not members get around that by buying Costco gift cards, and being let in to use that.  I didn't know you could do that, but then, I've never had a Costco card, and except for the time I ran into my old would-be girlfriend Patricia in that particular store, I have no affection for the place.

We did stop by at the Walmart around the corner, and there was no rice, no bread, no pasta, no cleaning products, no soup, no canned fruit, and absolutely no women interested in dating me.  Rather vexing, I must say.  For the first time in a decade, I didn't check the toy aisles at all.

The entire morning was eaten up by that, and then my sister had to go to work, but I asked her if she'd like to stop by Burger King (which was fortuitously/mysteriously open) and grab something to eat before she left . . . and she told me she doesn't like Burger King.  So I left her there in the parking lot and drove away, but I regretted it later when I had to unpack all the groceries by myself.

I ended up falling asleep while editing a podcast, and when I woke up, I was groggy and upset that a useful chunk of the afternoon was gone.  So I drove over to the bank of stairs and ran up and down them a couple of--

Okay, it only took one time up those stairs before my body felt at the point of death.  I gasped and choked and couldn't get enough air in my lungs, and did that thing where you try to spit and end up getting it down your chin instead.  And just yesterday, I thought I was getting better.

After going up and down the stairs a time or three more, I went to the same park where I went on Monday, and sat in my car and wrote a little bit (I'm typing this in the car).  I want to be a productive member of society, or be remembered that way, but really, all I have to offer is my writing, my Sean Connery impression, and my audio work/podcasting.**

This story will probably be called "Meet The New Clerk, Same As The Old Clerk," and tells of the rehiring of Meechelle, someone who worked at the Noble Oaks Bed & Breakfast years before, but quit after a disturbing experience.  The story is bound to be even more boring than the others I've written, but I'm afraid I don't much care about that--I'm so enjoying writing this series, that it's already exceeded any other series of stories in my thirty years of writing (unless the Praisden Chronicles counts as a series, since there's probably twenty-five or more of those).

The central conceit of this story--the main point, I mean--is that Something Bad happened to Meechelle about three years before (besides, of course, me naming her a deliberately-misspelled Michelle), and that Something Bad won't get revealed until the end of the story.  Unfortunately, I have yet to decide what that Something Bad was, so I merely drop hints here and there, and expect to be surprised when it is revealed to me.

Of course, all this writing may come to nothing if the pandemic continues to grow, but as Colonel Fury taught us, "Until such time as the world ends, we will act as though it intends to spin on."

I finished editing another Jason Sanford story for the Dunesteef, and if one of you wants to listen to it to help me find any errors, I'd appreciate it.  I'm sure we'll talk about it when we do the episode, but there are so many amazing concepts and brilliant bits in this story, it reminds me that Sanford is actually a Writer, while I can only aspire to be a writer.  Good, good stuff, well beyond me and my little haunted house soap opera vignettes.

And so, another day, another few words written.  I hope you are well.  And stay well.

Words Today: 673
Words This Month: 24,527

*I originally left it at that, but Big Anklevich made a big enough deal about it that I thought I ought to expand on it a little.

**I asked if my singing voice counts as something I have to offer, and was told, "No."  There wasn't an explanation, just no.