Thursday, April 30, 2020

April Sweeps - Day 90

If I write today, it will have been three months, every day.  By my math, that should be one-fourth of a year.

Unfortunately, I woke up feeling a little out of it this morning, and an hour after my alarm went off, I was throwing up.  Maybe I shouldn't have eaten an entire can of peanuts before going to bed.

As a result, I'm trying to decide whether I should put off all work this morning and resume it in the afternoon, or if I should try to soldier on.  I'm going to give myself a half hour of doing nothing, and see if I feel better.


Whoops, I gave myself a bit longer than that.  I actually fell asleep for a little while there, and missed the mailman (had to go to the post office for, oh, the third time this week in the afternoon), but I felt totally fine for the rest of the day.

I even wrote a little bit on my totally lame and too-long story.  I'd like to be done with it and move on to something shorter and more inspired.  And I guess that means I'll still be writing in May.  As Adam Sandler once asked, What the hell happened to me?

I was editing the audio for "The Old Man and Me," and got to the part where the ghost speaks.  He's described as having a raspy voice (and died of lung cancer) so I tried to do as wheezy a job as I could, while still sounding like an old man in the Midwestern United States.  I have to admit that the story isn't nearly as crappy as I had remembered it being.  So, maybe the thing I'm working on now won't be garbage either.*

I was watching a YouTube video, and there was an ad that played for THE LAST JEDI just now.  I don't get that--you'd think they'd be advertising THE RISE OF SKYWALKER, or EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (which turns forty in three weeks).  But I'm happy TLJ is getting some love.  It was the last great Star Wars movie . . . maybe the last one we'll ever get.

The little writing I got done tonight got interrupted when my nephew was screaming that one of this three (count 'em, three) fishtanks got a crack in it and was leaking all over the floor.  By the time I got down there, the entire wooden floor was covered in water, and the fish were flopping around in the drained tank.  It was an extraordinary amount of work cleaning that up, from sopping up water with a dozen towels to moving furniture to get everything dry, to knocking over a shelf trying to lift it and have a thousand sports cards scatter all over (at least this happened AFTER we'd dried up 95% of the water off the floor).**

My nephew threw a fit over the damage, which I must admit I'd seen myself do over the years, and though I was angry at him over it, believe me, I get it.  Could be worse, too, since we managed to spare the floor of any permanent damage (I'm hoping) and only one fish met its demise from the incident.  Of course, that's writing time I didn't get to tonight (aw, who am I kidding, I wouldn't have written a word during that hour), and once again, an April day ends with very few words.

Except, I got an idea for a scene during my nightly run, and I meant to just jot it down in broad strokes, but a half hour later, I was still writing on it, inadvertently putting Natalie Whitmore in danger too, where it had only been Mason a day ago.  Cool.

I also found out why Mrs. Bice started hating Mason so much in between "The Night Clerk" and "Three-Time Visitor."  And that's cool too.

Weird, before I posted this, a second commercial for THE LAST JEDI ran on YouTube (a different one).  Guess they know what speaks to me.

Words Today: 1843
Words In April: 33,650

P.S. Each day of the month, I posted one of these:

Day 30: Gonna go with "Creep" by Radiohead.  I've recorded my longest-yet Storage Unit Serenade about it.  But these things have about a six week backlog.
You know, I think I'll go a few more days on this.  I went ahead and made a new line of daily questions.

*I nearly finished editing the whole story, and you know, it's not half bad.  I really like that the main character is me (basically) and a ghost is trying to speak words of comfort to him, when the author of the story has no comfort to give.  So, the ghost is wise, but also kind of distant and unfeeling, which is unnecessarily cruel, like life.  And it inspired me to pay off the big plot thread of that story in the story I've been writing this month.  Heck, gonna write that scene right now.

**I did something fairly similar a few months ago, and I started to write a story about it, but never finished.  Maybe I'll take this repeat incident as inspiration.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

April Sweeps - Day 89

Well, April is pretty much done.  This is the first month since we started this that Big Anklevich has blown past me in word count.  And that's fine.  It was never a competition, after all.*

I wish that I could say that I was going out with a bang, sitting down and feverishly writing a ton of words, but I think this image best sums it up:

Sorry.  I went to the park today, sat in my car, and opened my document to start writing.  I got four words in (FOUR), and then discovered just how hot it was in the car.  It was the warmest day of the year so far today (83 degrees), and that was not conducive to me getting any words done.  So, I closed the file without saving (whoops, guess those four words shouldn't count), and drove home, where I took a twenty minute nap.

Later, I rode my bike around the neighborhood (doing three miles in less time than it takes me to jog my usual 1.6 miles every night), trying hard to think of something I wanted to write.  A new story idea, maybe, or an ending to the interminable "Dead & Breakfast" tale I'm writing.  But nothing came.

I can't say what's wrong with me, except that every person has a breaking point, where they eschew their diet, or they stop working out, or they call in sick for work even though they're in good health, or they start banging Carls Junior employees left and right.  It's human nature, and if you can keep up a positive attitude and do something difficult for more than eighty-nine days in a row, well then, mister you're a better man than I.**

I meant to release my Rish Outcast episode for "The Old Man and Me" on Monday, but realized that I never edited the story.  So today, I started editing it, and right at the beginning, there's a reference to Shady Oaks Bed & Breakfast.  That seemed weird, because I had been writing these stories with the belief that the place was called the Noble Oaks Bed & Breakfast.

A few paragraphs later, there it is again, Shady Oaks.  Hmmm.

So, I thought, maybe it WAS Shady Oaks when I first created the place, and I've misremembered it all these months.  So, I looked at the file here on my laptop (titled "Dead & Breakfast - Story 1" with 12/6/15 as the Date Modified) . . . and it said Noble Oak Bed & Breakfast, totally exonerating me.  I guess I need to go back and re-line the "Old Man and Me" parts where I--

Wait a minute.  Noble Oak Bed & Breakfast?  Noble Oak singular?

Dang, that's bad.  So, I've got three different names for this place in three different stories?  That seems troubling.

Tonight, I sat down and recorded a story to tack on to the next Rish Outcast Incentive episode.  But it took me more than an hour, and edited, will probably be thirty-something minutes long.  That, along with an explanation of the story, seems like enough for its own episode.  We'll see.

Words Today: 973 (I tried to get a thousand, but just couldn't make it)
Words In April: 31,807

P.S. Every day I post one of these.  And it looks like there's only two left:
Day 29: A song you remember from your childhood.  I'm gonna go with "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" by Judy Garland.  I used to love THE WIZARD OF OZ, and the annual tradition of broadcasting it on TV.  When I was about eight, I taped all the songs onto a cassette so I could listen to them over and over.  And why not?

*Something winners never seem to say, only the losers.  Hmmm.

**I think that's from an Aerosmith song, now that I type it out.

Rish Outcast 169: The Extra Episode

In this one, I sit down and talk a bit about a recent job I had as a television extra, then talk a lot more about doing extra work in general.

Let me know if this is a subject you'd like me to revisit.  I could go on for hours.

To download this episode, just Right-Click HERE.

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

Logo by Gino "Extra-Extra" Moretto.*

*Hey, Gino, you think you could make me a green one?

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

April Sweeps - Day 88

Not much time to blog today (or rather, I waste too much time blogging as it stands).

Before I start feeling sorry for myself, let me first post this excellent photo I took Sunday evening:

It's the mountain with the sun setting behind it and a streetlight in the foreground, but it went all flat and black and white and looks like an album or book cover to me.  I just like the stark contrast of it.*

"Step out the front door like a ghost into the fog,
Where no one notices the contrast of white on white."  -Counting Crows

So, I just got rid of the phone today.  I had given the lady a full twenty-four hours to answer me on Facebook (whether she was the owner or not), and waited for the damned thing to ring pretty much all day yesterday, but nobody called again after Sunday.  Somebody online suggested I take it to the police station and let them deal with it, and this afternoon, that's what I decided to do.

I drove over to the local constabulary, and spoke to a guy through a bulletproof (hopefully, Coronaproof) partition, telling him the deal.  He told me I had done the right thing, but to go outside, pick up the (also hopefully-Coronaproof) payphone and dial Dispatch.  I did so, told them it wasn't an emergency, and waited until someone could help me.  The operator heard my story, then asked where I found the phone.  When I told them, he said, "Oh, sorry, that's not us.  The County Sheriff has jurisdiction over that area."

So, they wouldn't take the phone.  Instead, they sent a deputy over to my house to fill out the paperwork and take the phone off my hands.  He was surprised--in an irritating way--when I told him I had found the phone on Sunday, and hadn't turned it in until Tuesday.**  He said with the debit card and medical insurance card, they'd track the owner down.  I nearly asked, "If you don't, can I have the phone?" but I didn't.

So now, with no stranger's phone to distract me, I am supposed to write.  Sure don't want to, though.  I'm afraid we've reached the end of this daily writing experiment.  I'm just tired of it, I no longer feel inspired, and I feel I've accomplished both jack and squat in equal portions this month.

What have I accomplished, exactly?  I'm talking about life here, not since I started writing every day and posting about it.

I was too tired to write more than 700 words, so I got ready for bed, setting aside the recording I was going to do for the next Patreon-only episode of my podcast.  But just as I sat down on the bed, I thought I'd jot down a paragraph or two on my Christmas story, which I haven't worked on at all this week (and ooh, the deadline is fast approaching--since it'll be May soon, and that's only seven months away from Christmas).

But I surprised myself by writing a bit about a 1972 Plymouth Valiant (like the one below), and before I knew it, I had crossed the thousand word threshold for the first time in days.

So, it's only 2:37am, but I'm doing better on my writing today . . . and nearly feeling okay about myself.  Wouldn't that be nice?

Words Today: 1152
Words In April:  30,834

P.S. For some reason, I post one of these each day:

Day 28: A song by an artist whose voice you love. "Faithfully" by Journey.  I thought about a number of singers who have voices that just speak to me, and decided, in the end, that Steve Perry had the greatest voice of the Eighties.  I figured somebody might argue with me, bringing up Freddie Mercury, who might have had a wider range than Perry, but still doesn't get my vote.

*This reminds me: I heard somebody bitching the other day about Instagram, and how it has devolved into this thing where hot chicks take selfies every day and idiots take pictures of their food (which, frankly, is what I thought it was always supposed to be for).  Apparently, when it was first created, Instagram was intended for photographers to upload the pictures they took, showcasing their work.  But what a shame, every moron with a smartphone now thinks they can take pictures and upload them and people will oooh and ahhh, because they took a photo of the sunset.  Or they used one of the Instagram filters and now they're Annie Liebowitz.
But you know what?  Screw you guys.  I took that top picture with a crappy phone, and didn't use any filters, and that fugger could totally go up on Instagram.  And maybe I'll take a selfie now too, just to continue to piss off the bourgeoisie.  A selfie of my taint.

**That made me wish I just kept the phone and traded it in at GameStop when and if the GameStops ever open again.  You get why I didn't, right?

Monday, April 27, 2020

April Sweeps - Day 87

So, I owe you a write-up on yesterday's trip to the canyon.

The problem is, today was the biggest work day for me since I started these posts, and I just got done at 6:42pm, but still need to get something done before I can sit down and blog.

PLUS, I'm supposed to be writing!  After three or four days of less than a thousand words, I'm mighty close to dropping below that for a daily average.  And this particular "Dead & Breakfast" story probably doesn't work.  It's the third Mason-centric one (after "The Old Man and Me" and "The Last Friday In December," or, if you count "Never Let Him Go," I guess it's the fourth), but it was supposed to be about him meeting this girl, them hitting it off, and him saying, "So that's what that's like.  Huh," but it's not really going in that direction.

Somehow, I decided to introduce a new, malevolent ghost that haunts the building, setting it up as the ultimate bĂȘte noir for when I finally write the Mrs. Bice story that was meant to close out the anthology.  And then, as if that's not bad enough, the love interest leaves town and Natalie, Mason's would-be true love, tells him not to pursue this new girl, because she is vulnerable and damaged.  It's a little bit too much story for a short story, or even two at this point.

So, last week, I came across two trails (well, there were three, but one of them got me lost, so I suspect it was a false trail)--the one that led up to the top of the waterfall (this was rocky), and another, woodland trail that went in the other direction.  I did the waterfall one first, and then tried to do the second one, but only made it up a third of the way before it was getting too dark (and my legs were getting too tired), so I turned around and went back to my car.

As I had stumbled around in the woods earlier, I grabbed a big stick off the ground and used it to keep me up as I tried to make my way back from my wrong turn.  This stick was fun to use and when I reached the bottom of the woods trail, I left the stick propped up against a tree so the next person to come along could use it.  That's just the sort of dude I am.

But cut to a week later, I had options of where to go, and I meant to find the trail I went up about a month or more back, where I took the AT-ST picture (and sang a David Bowie song) . . . but I couldn't find it.  Instead, I went to the exact same place as last week and decided to try out the woodland trail this time.  And to my surprise, my stick was still there, propped up where I left it.

I scooped it up and it helped me quite a bit as I went up the winding, unpaved trail (I say unpaved because, even though last week's was also unpaved, it had obviously been man-made, with lots of rocks placed along the way to help people climb to the top of the waterfall, whereas this one was meandering and occasionally more dangerous).  I didn't know where it was going, but there were ribbons occasionally placed in trees which led me to believe it had been marked to help people know they were going in the right direction.

Something, something, carry a big stick.
At one point the trail split into two forks, and as I glanced at the less-prominent fork, I saw somebody's phone case lying at the bottom of an incline.  I figured a hiker had set it down while they peed or something, but nobody else was around, and after a minute, I scooped up the case and found a new-looking, expensive-looking 5G Samsung Galaxy 10 phone, along with a medical insurance card, a couple of restaurant member cards, and a debit card, all with a woman's name on them (Megan, we'll call her).

Well, this sort of thing has happened to me before (the last time, it was a bag with an ID, a debit card, and a wad of cash), so the first thing that I did was try to wake up the phone, in case there was a "If Found, Please Call" number on it (I suggest you try it--it's breathtaking).  But the phone was locked, and didn't have an emergency contact number, and besides, there was spotty cellphone reception there at best.

I felt a little strange about it, though, as I held some stranger's phone in my hands, and got guilty pangs when I put it in my backpack, just in case somebody was watching and thought I was stealing it.  But you could do a lot worse than me with your valuables.  That phone of yours with all the private stuff on it, including those pictures you should not have taken of your daughter's teenage classmate . . . well, it's pretty safe with me, and besides, you have a PIN number lock on your phone, don't you?

I went up the trail, and encountered a young couple walking together.  "Are you Megan?" I asked the woman.  But she wasn't, according to her, and if she was lying, well, she only hurt herself.  It turned out that this little trail went up to the top of another mountain, where a tiny waterfall emerged.

Purty stuff, but surprisingly loud.

The big falls from last week are impressively large and can be seen from the highway, whereas this one I had never noticed before, and I doubted anybody had ever died climbing down that one.  Somebody had put up a hammock downstream a hundred feet or so, and there was a couple making out on it.*  It didn't occur to me to ask them if they were Megan.

I had climbed directly up the rocks where the waterfall flows, but there was a winding path that went alongside the waterfall, and once I had gotten there, that's how I decided to go back down.

Well, that turned out to be something of a deathtrap.  While it's fairly easy to climb a sheer(ish) rock cliff, I had a bugger of a time trying to get down it, my shoes slipping multiple times in the effort (for a while there, I actually kept count of how many times I'd slipped.  Must've been seven or eight), and depending on the walking stick to keep me from falling.  One of the slips caused my sunglasses to fly off my head, and they went down the rocky embankment before stopping a few feet down.  I tried to scoop them up with my stick, but only managed to knock them farther down.  Finally, I went down on my butt, picked up the glasses (which now had a big scratch on the right lens), went back up to where I had lost them, and backtracked to the waterfall, going down its base like I had climbed up.

Taken moments before my sunglasses took their tumble.
As I was coming down the trail, listening to music and slipping two or three more times (it must have been the shoes I chose, with worn-down smooth bottoms, which I had worn instead because my ankles were bothering me and I hoped it was just the shoes), I heard a cellphone ringing.  And it wasn't mine.

I quickly stopped, pulled my backpack off, unzipped, and reached for the found phone, figuring I'd say, "Megan's phone" when I answered it, then explain what the situation was.  My own phone got no signal up there in the rolling hills, but this stranger's 5G one did.  Didn't matter, though, as the caller had hung up before I could answer.  I tried to call them back, find a way to redial, but there was no way of accessing anything (except for "Emergency Call") without knowing the passcode.  I put the phone in my pocket, in case he or she called back.**

There were a lot of people out, both hiking and walking their dogs (as well as the usual gathering of grab-assing teenagers), and even though I'm alone, it helps to see all these people around, so I can imagine we're all alone together.  If I survive this year, maybe I'll look back on all the writing, hiking, and exercise I got during this stretch with fondness, maybe even pride.  Might be nice not to look back, though, or see anything for a while.

I must admit that I tired out easier this week than I did last week, and both trips put together didn't equal the trip up and down the road from the week before that.  My legs have started to ache, and I'm experiencing the shin splints Big Anklevich used to complain about.  As a result, I walked just a little bit more once I came down the trail (going to where the little river is dammed off and imagining seeing a body floating down there), then headed back to my car.  It's the first hike I've done this month without recording a (probably annoying, I realize) song.***

That used Selfie Stick has already been worth the $1.00 I paid for it.
When I got home, I loo--heck, it was before I even got home, it was once I got back to town--I looked Megan up on Facebook.  The problem is, there's an awful lot of Megans out there, and the last name was not uncommon enough to narrow it down.  I found one that had a photo that MIGHT have been the face in the tiny picture that comes up on the lock screen, and I sent her a message asking if she had lost a phone on a hike this weekend.  I waited for her to respond (even a friendly, "Nope, that's not me" would've been useful), and went over to Instagram to see if she might be there (a lot of people I know have jumped ship from Facebook to Instagram because it's so much hipper and such).

Instagram was worse than Facebook because there were just as many Megans with the same last name, but nearly all of them had their accounts set on Private.  Really, say what you will about having a Private account, how great it is that a creep like me can't see what clubs you go to, or pictures of your nipples, or find out who your friends are . . . but in this case, the only person your selfish little Private account kept at arm's length was you.

They say you always hurt the one you love, and in this case, I guess you just did.

After that, I posed the question on Facebook, because a year or so back when I did an episode of my podcast where I talked about finding the bag with the wad of cash in it, and what I did, I was surprised that a person or two told me I was not the forkiest spoon in the drawer over that.  So, pray tell, what should I have done?

Somebody told me to Google them (which I did), somebody told me to turn the phone into the police and let them deal with it, one person told me that finders were technically keepers, and one person told me to shove the Samsung Galaxy phone into my nether bungslide.  We will see what happens in the next few hours.

The pain in my ankles (they even hurt to touch) caused me to skip going for a run that night, though I figure the hiking days count as a perfectly cromulent running substitute, but then I did my usual run Monday night, and paid for it afterward.  I'd say it's not fair that I'm doing all this exercise stuff, and my body is betraying me over it . . . but none of it's fair, boys and girls.  It's time you remembered that.

Words Today: 811
Words In April: 29,682

P.S. For some reason, I post one of these daily.
Day 27. Oh, I'm going to go against the grain and pick not a heartbreaking love song, but a different kind of sad song. "Eleanor Rigby" by The Beatles.
My pal Katie, who was more than a year younger than me but always seemed older and wiser, first told me about the song where a lady picks up the rice after a wedding and nobody misses her or goes to her funeral when she died.  I still remember her misting up telling me about that song.  Would've been 1991.

*Isn't that nice?

**He or she didn't.

***Oh, wait, that's not quite true.  I recorded this bit at the top of the waterfall, knowing the sound would be drowned out by the roar of the falls, but not realizing that my phone would screw up and record a horizontal image vertically.  If this is fixable, let me know.

I Tell The Jolly Joe Story

This semi-impromptu video tells the story behind my story "Surprise Inspection."  This has sat, unused for more than a year.

I was excited to produce more content in 2019, and recorded a handful of videos which have not seen the light of day.  This is probably the longest of them, so, here you go.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

April Sweeps - Day 86

I have a Transformer I bought when I was in Las Vegas in March, intending to add it to my collection (I have four of them standing on my windowsill, including the Megatron from the video the other day).  But I haven't dared open it.  You see, I made the mistake of looking it up on eBay when I got it home, and found that I could double what I paid for it if I sold it.

But I didn't sell it.

Instead, it sits in the box on a huge pile of crap that, if I ever muster the ambition to clear out, will only be replaced by another huge pile of crap within a few days.  Last night, I looked at it again and thought, "Dude, I should open this and play with it for a minute, then put it up there next to Soundwave and Megatron."

But as soon as I thought that, I knew what would happen: I'd enjoy posing it and standing it up there with the other four . . . and that would be it.  Every time I look at it from that point on, I'd be aware that I could have sold it, but instead, it's just there, not being played with, just another thing on the windowsill.  Sigh.

Today was Sunday, and I tend to relax a bit on these days, since there's no point (in my mind) in trying to get packages shipped or heading to the post office.  I always spend three hours at the end of the night, between 8:00 to 11:00 listing items on eBay anyway (someone once observed that that's when the most eyes are on the website, so I try to have my auctions end during that window).  The last two weeks, I've gone hiking on Sunday afternoons, so I'm looking forward to it today.

But first, I forced myself to upload the entire Lara and the Witch audio file to Audible, hoping (kind of dumbly) that "You're In Good Hands" will be approved, and that these same files will also be accepted.  To my surprise, most of the original "Like A Good Neighbor" files that were accepted by them in 2016 were immediately flagged as too quiet today.  So, I opened every one of them, boosted the volume, and re-saved.  A couple were still deemed too quiet, but most went through.

The final length for the two pieces together is five hours and twenty-nine minutes.  We'll see if any of them sell.  That is, if they are accepted by Audible in the first place.

I got 178 words so far, so I'm going to head up the canyon now.

To be continued . . .
I like how this silhouette could be anybody.

Words Today: 821

Words In April: 28,871

P.S. I post one of these each day.
Day 26. So, a song that makes me want to fall in love.  My first thought was "I Can't Help Falling In Love With You," the Elvis Presley version.  It's so good, and it makes me want to sing it at a storage unit near you.  But I thought I'd try to come up with something else, one of those songs that, when I hear it, I go, "Ohhhh, please let me meet someone and this can be Our Song."
I thought about Finneas "Let's Fall In Love For The Night," which is a new song (at least new to me in 2020), which I taught myself to sing at a storage unit, but got one line wrong and it bugs me to this day (those episodes are now so far behind, I could not record another one until October and be fine--I just keep having to go to the damned storage unit).  But that's more a song about getting it on for one night only with a girl that's way out of your league--which is great, don't get me wrong, but it's not what the question is asking for.
Finally unable to come up with anything more profoundly unique, I picked "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel.  I've loved that song, it seems, my whole life.  A perfect song to fall in love to, or be in love to.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

February Thru April Sweeps - Day 85

So, I'm sitting in the car, by the park (where I often do the stairs), and this is the first day where a) I'm in short sleeves, and 2) it's too hot to sit in the car and write.  That makes me worry: once it gets REALLY warm, I won't be able to do this at all.  Hmmm.

Hopefully, the library will be open again by then.  We'll see.

The park is busy today, so I had to park down the way a bit, and I'm in front of the Park Use Regulations sign.  One of the rules is "Golfing, archery or discharge of any weapon is prohibited."  Seems like a given, but so is, "Do not drive vehicles or ride horses on grass areas."  Also, "Owners must dispose of dog waste."  That makes me wonder how many different ways they tried phrasing it before they decided on that.  At the bottom of the sign (before it says, "If you witness damage or unusual behavior, please notify Police Department), it says, "Vandalism of any kind is unlawful."

Kind of reminds me of the signs at the UCLA dorms that said, "Please do not pee in the sink."  I wasn't planning to, believe me.  But now that you mention it . . .

I finished editing another Rish Outcast today (a short episode, though I may stick some bonus thing in at the end to pad the runtime), and I did just a little bit of writing today.  I got beyond the has-to-be-rewritten bit in my Mason/Rowan story today.  Quite by accident, I've actually gotten to the point on the timeline where the first story I wrote (2015's "True Ghost Encounter") starts to overlap with my 2019 characters.

There's a bit where Mason has his Friday shift with Natalie and she's speaking Spanish to a couple from Honduras, and he just watches her and longs for her to like him, even a little.  I know there is a great deal of that in these stories (easily as much as there are run-ins with ghosts), but I wish that I could convey just a little of how that unrequited stuff feels, even if it were only in that one paragraph.

As I've probably said before, I fully intended for Mason and Natalie to become a romantic couple in these stories, but as they've gone on, it has become increasingly less likely.  I think they've grown closer, and are actually friends (which is better than nothing, don't get me wrong), but even when I try to write some kind of spark between them, it is quickly extinguished.  Maybe that says a bit too much about the writer, that he can't get these two crazy kids together, but I never claimed to be a wordsmith.

Once again, I made it to the end of the day without getting a thousand words done.  I guess that would cost me, if I had set a goal to do/average a thousand words a day.

Words Today: 704
Words In April: 28,050

P.S. Every day I post one of these:

Day 25. Gonna say "The Runaway" by Del Shannon.
Del Shannon died in February of 1990.  I remember seeing the story on "Entertainment Tonight."  They played a bit of "Runaway," and then said he had died the day before . . . "of a self-inflicted gunshot wound."  Those were the words that resonated with me (and who knows if that's exactly what they said thirty years ago, but that's how they've echoed all these years later).  I was young enough to say, "does self-inflicted mean, he shot himself?  Oh, no."  It has colored that song with melancholy for me ever since.  And that's exactly how the song was supposed to feel anyway.

Storage Unit Serenade 12

So, I've got something "special" planned for next week.  It's been sitting around, and I debated using it as Episode 10, but my favorite number is 13, so that'll be the one then.  I hope you'll dig it.

As far as this one goes, it was the first (and hopefully, last) one I had my nephew record for me.  The rest of the time, just setting the phone on something works fine.

Oh, I almost forgot, the stats!

Pre-Eighties Songs: 3
Eighties Songs: 4
Nineties Songs: 3
Aughts Songs: 0
Teens Songs: 2

Friday, April 24, 2020

April Sweeps - Day 84

Well, today was a really busy work day for me.  I finally got to sit down and start blogging around eight pm, and even then, I had no words written.

Hey, but my laptop had rebooted at some point during the day, and oh, joy, for the second time since I got it, it had closed the work-in-progress I'd been writing on, without saving.  And even though I would swear that I'd saved the file in the past two days, it didn't have anything on there since Tuesday (the first time this happened was worse, though, since a whole file was unreadable).  So, I'll have to do some of that writing over.

The silver lining is that I emailed Marshal Latham a page or so of what I was writing last night, and I can just copy and paste that bit in.  Thank Bossk for that, at least.

The worst thing about having to write stuff over again is that I never feel like it's as inspired the second time, since I'm trying to recreate rather than create, you know?  And I'll never remember all of what I originally wrote.*

And if I'm being honest, I probably ought to drop about 1200 words off my word count total, since those are vanished, like Keyser Sose from a crime scene.  But I'm not going to.  Eff you, entropy.

Oh, it keeps getting weirder.  I can't explain it, but the Twilight Groan episode I finished last night is now unfinished again.  I wonder if it's possible that the computer somehow reset itself back two days, though I can't imagine how that could happen.  I have to re-edit that, and I checked the Dropbox, but it wasn't in there.

But ah well.  Honestly, I could have things a lot worse.  I made some money today, saw what's-her-name for about an eighth of a second, and have a 90% reliably laptop that I can write on, edit with, and surf the internet for hours every day on.  While I can long for more, I recognize that my fortune is pretty darn good.

Words Today: 898 (I know, I could've reached a thousand, if I had tried a little harder, but it was another one of those nights where I realized it was one am and I hadn't gone on my run yet**, and I just couldn't manage any more).
Words In April: 27,346

P.S. Each day I post one of these:
Day 24. There's really only one band that a) comes to mind, and b) the former members are not dead. So I'll pick "No Spill Blood" by Oingo Boingo.  I've mentioned that band a time or three since I started these, and this particular song is one I was thinking of trying to get my nephews to sing with me (it's the one inspired by the "Doctor Moreau" adaptation THE ISLAND OF LOST SOULS, that advises you to walk on two legs, not on four, to walk on four legs breaks the law") on a video.  But those don't always work out so great:

*Indeed, I covered that same bit of the story again today, but instead of 1300+ words, it was only 900 or so words.  What had I forgotten?  What clever description or brilliant bit of dialogue was I unable to re-create?  Was it important?  And was the rewritten stuff as good as the original content?

**This was weird: I did my usual run, aware that it was late and fairly cold out, and that I was dressed entirely in black again.  But as I reached the main street on my route across from the school, I saw another jogger/runner out as well.  It was around 1:13am, and he was coming in my direction, running flat-out at a speed I could never have managed without coming straight down a mountain.  For a moment, I thought, "Okay, I guess this is where I get attacked by somebody crazy enough to be exercising this late at night."  But a few yards away, he ducked into a yard and ran into one of the houses.  It may be that he was doing that final burst of speed thing you do when you see the finish line, or that he wasn't jogging at all, but fleeing the scene of a crime.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

April Sweeps - Day 83

I hate it when Big texts me his word count for the day and mine is still at zero.  I hate it, well, pretty much at Vin Diesel level, but not quite at Pauly Shore level.  I always feel like Sisyphus, and the damn rock has rolled down again.

But today, Big told me that maybe I shouldn't start each day at zero, if it bothers me so much, but to start at the word count I am for the month.  That way, I get a sense of accomplishment right from the get-go, and don't feel quite so hopeless about it.  Thanks, Big!

I did what I could as far as work and exercise today.  I still struggle with the first part of my run, and am tempted to stop around the same point each time.  After the first mile, it's definitely easier, but I do question my sanity in going running every night.  And I've never experienced the out-of-body thing again, even though it's the same route at roughly the same pace every single time.  I worry that I'll have to increase it to two miles in May.  Because I hate myself that much.

I meant to post another Storage Unit Serenade today or yesterday, but I haven't had a chance.  Maybe I'll set a goal of staying up till three instead of two, to see if that gives me an extra few minutes to get work done.  Because I hate sleep that much.

I finished another Twilight Groan episode, and sat down to record the third of three carnival-related stories I wrote many years ago.  To my surprise, the third story--which I had never been particularly proud of, stands up the best twenty years later.  In fact, I might even go as far as to say that it is a genuinely good story.  Funny, that.*

Alright, I finally sat down and started writing again (just a bit on the Mason/Rowan story.  I am trying to make this one scary, and I really like the idea that Mason, who has a rapport--almost a friendship--with ghosts, suddenly encounters a bad one, and realizes, "Hey, maybe ghosts aren't this wonderful, romantic thing after all."  Unfortunately, I still don't know where this one's going.  I worry it might be going nowhere).  Boy, I wish I were better at this.

Words Today: 866
Words In April: 26,448

P.S. Each day I post one of these:

Day 23. This is another badly-phrased one. WHY should everyone listen to it? So they'll understand me more? So they'll be familiar with an obscure song? So they'll like it? So they'll learn something from it?
Okay, "Imagine" by John Lennon. I guess it's easy if you try.

*I rewrote a couple of sentences, here and there, and changed a line of dialogue or two (I'd apparently last touched the file in 2005).  But it only amounted to 120 words of difference.  Still counts, though.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

April Sweeps - Day 82

Ugh, don't want to do it today.  It's almost four pm, and I'm seriously tempted to close my eyes for a few minutes.

And I did.  Don't think I got any sleep, because I told my phone to wake me up in fifteen minutes, and then it rang, and I thought, "Well, that was a waste of time."

I'm going to finish uploading the audio to "You're In Good Hands" today.  It makes me sad that I've dragged my feet on it this long.  I hope that people respond to it--the best reaction would be a melancholy reaction, but a hope that more is on the way.  The way that it ends works (for me) as a definitive end to the series.  We see a glimpse of the way the witch has been changed by the girl, and the girl?  Well, Lara changes throughout the two stories, and is at a crossroads at the end, where she could go one way or another, and I like leaving it at that.

But there could easily be more stories with those two, and I did have that big falling out scene in my mind before I even wrote this book, and the consequences of Lara losing control of her magic that might be interesting to deal with.  I guess there are always possibilities, as Spock taught us.

But again, you can't do everything.  Tonight, Marshal Latham and I are going to talk to Gino Moretto in New Zealand for our Star Wars podcast, and that might mean I can't get to everything I was planning today (I meant to record "Try Your Luck," either for an Outcast episode, or for an audio collection.

Oh, and speaking of Gino, he sent me this today:
The guy is preternaturally talented when it comes to logos.  Seriously, if you have a logo you'd like him to design, toss him a line and a wad of cash.  You won't regret it.

Well, I did get the audio done and uploaded.  Total length of the audiobook is three hours forty-nine minutes.

Afterward, I did some brief writing.  But not nearly enough.

So, instead of publishing this with the words I had, I stayed up another half hour writing, and got to a respectable number.  Still, I have no idea where this story is going.  Hopefully not into the circular file.

Words Today: 1379
Words In April: 25,582

P.S. Each day I post one of these:
Day 22. When I saw this question, I immediately thought of "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor (from ROCKY III).  But then I was going to be bold and pick another Survivor song, "The Burning Heart" (from ROCKY IV), just to not pick the obvious.  But you know, I'm still going with "Eye of the Tiger."  Sometimes I put that on when I am running, and I probably go .03% faster.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

February Made Me Shiver With Every Paper I'd Deliver - Day 81

You're not going to believe this (I hardly can myself), but I called the sheriff's department down south today and told them I hadn't heard anything about my ticket until yesterday, but could they please waive the delinquent fee for me . . . and they put the judge on the phone and he said, "Yes."  I guess looking like a supermodel sure payed offf four mee todaey.*

Oh, and they canceled the arrest warrant too, which is nice.

I drove down to my niece's house today to pick something up, meaning to step in and take off, since she's worried about getting me sick and me getting others sick.  I felt like hanging out with her, though, but she wanted to make sure we were six feet apart, so we went out on her back deck and hung out until her mom got home from work.  Cathexis is now old enough for me to tell her all my stories about working in Los Angeles and having my car stolen and my apartment broken into and talking to Paul Walker about Jessica Alba's blue bikini, but she's young enough that she hasn't heard all my stories before or think they're boring . . . yet.

I haven't done much with anyone lately that I don't live with (my uncle asked yesterday if I wanted to get together and do karaoke, and I just assumed he meant via Zoom, but by the time I realized he meant doing it in the front yard, he had already taken off to Las Vegas for the week), and I guess even it's gotten to me, because I was there long enough to have gotten a pretty good sunburn on my forehead and neck.

And my sister told me their washing machine was clogged, and so I was able to help them get that working again (IT WAS A SOCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), and that made me feel like I had accomplished something.

Didn't get a lot of words written.  I intended to, but my nephew just re-learned to ride a bike and wanted to practice it with me, so we rode from one end of the local bike trail to the other, and by the time we were done, it was dark.

I should have finished my Christmas story or my D&B story by now (if this were February, I'd have both of them done), but as it stands, the holiday tale (which I suppose I'll have to find a title for, something with "ornament," or "Getting In The Spirit" or "The Christmas Spirit," or maybe "That's The Spirit!") is about 76% done, and the Rowan/Mason story is . . . well, since I don't know where it's going, it could be 90%, or only 40%.  We'll see.

Unlike last night, when I didn't get to my run until after one am, I made sure to get it in around 10:30.  But when I sat down to finish my writing, I found . . .

Too tired . . . to go on.  Must . . . speak like . . . Captain Kirk.

Words Today: 767
Words In April: 24,203
Words Total: 111,782

P.S. Every day I post one of these:
Day 21. A song with a person's name in it.  I'm going to pick "Michelle" by the Beatles.
I named a character after that song in the first "Dead & Breakfast" story, and now she shows up all the time (sometimes spelled Meechelle, sometimes Meeshelle, and occasionally, Michelle).  She's in my pizza story too, which probably means I'm just getting old and unoriginal.

*Sorry to be an asshole there, but I really did spell "paid" as "payed" and then decided to lean into it.

Monday, April 20, 2020

February Sweeps - Day 80

Not much to say today.


Lots of work got done today, and not a lot of writing.  I talked to Big Anklevich for an hour or so today, and to Marshal Latham for two hours, and who woulda guessed that would eat up my free time?

I got a letter from the sheriff's department today, saying that since I hadn't paid my speeding ticket, they had raised the bail and would be putting out a warrant for my arrest.  It was the first letter they had sent me.  Part of me thinks I should call them tomorrow and ask that they reconsider, but the rest of me knows it will do no good.  But hey, I really was going nearly a hundred miles an hour, so I made my bed.

Wish they had sent me a bill, though, before raising the price.

I put out a podcast (only two weeks overdue), nearly got my Star Wars sketch edited, and wrote a little bit on my Christmas story and a little bit on my D&B story.  I still don't know where it's going, exactly, but I love catching up with these characters.  Oh, and if I spent just an hour or so, I think I'd have the "Lara and the Witch" audiobook ready to send off (to be rejected by) Audible.

And that's it for today.

Words Today: 1233
Words In April: 23,436

P.S. Each day I post one of these:

But not today.  I just couldn't come up with a song that had different meanings to me (Day 20).  I tried, really I did, and thought of songs I didn't used to like but I do now, or songs I liked once and hate now, or songs that remind me of bittersweet things . . . but none of them stuck.  Sorry.

Instead, I'm going to post this video I made on Sunday at the waterfall.  Hope you dig it.

I'm not sure you can see him, but there's a child in the deep background (at about the fifteen second mark), to give it all some scale.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

April Sweeps - Day 79

Big's father passed away a few months ago, and he's mentioned to me twice that, were that not the case, he'd be pretty worried about him right now (since he was elderly, not in perfect health, and he actually eats things like bread and pasta that only us fools partake of).  I can dig it.

But it made me think about what the situation would be if my own father were alive today.  He'd be living in the little town I grew up in (I call it Pingo in my Praisden stories), all by himself, and he'd be fixing things up at the house and in the pasture, doing yardwork, getting up early to feed the chickens, etc..  He'd be doing fine.  Would I ever speak to him?  Well, that's hard to say.  He and I were not close, not since 1979 or so, but I'm sure I would've spoken to him, awkwardly, over the phone at least once (he wouldn't have had Zoom or Facetime, that's for sure*), and he would've said, "I'm fine.  I don't interact with people anyway."

And we might have had that in common.  75% or more of my lifestyle hasn't changed due to the pandemic.  But were he still around, I'm sure our differences would have been right there at the fore, and the conversation would have been brief.  "Don't do anything stupid," he might have said.  "And take care of your mother."  Perhaps I would have brought up all the Hitchcock movies I've been watching this year, since he'd seen lots of those, and I'd ask him about Jimmy Stewart Westerns, but really, he and I never communicated much until the last year of his life, and I can't see that changing in a pandemic.

It would've been neat, though, to talk to him about Western stories, and ask him questions I could apply to Ben Parks tales, such as "How expensive would bullets have been compared to food or clothing?" and "How often would the general store in a little town in Arizona get new supplies, and how would it arrive?"  Maybe these conversations would encourage me to write more of that kind of story, though chances are, my Westerns would still have werewolves or superheroes or talking monsters or miracles in them.

That reminds me: I sent my Uncle Len a story I wrote last year, "Who Can It Be Now?"** and he sent me a very nice message back about how much he liked it and how realistic my voices were and how vampires actually exist and he's met one or two and how talented I am and grateful he is to have me as a nephew.  It really made me feel good . . . but that wasn't the relationship I had with my father.  Sometimes I think it would be nice to get married, and try having a father-in-law, to see what that experience is like.  But people in Hell would really like the Drake album turned down.

Last week I took that long hike up the mountain road, and I enjoyed the experience.  Today, my intention was to drive up the canyon, set up my phone near the big waterfall, and record myself performing one of my stories (I have two of them ready to go for just such an occasion).  But I pulled my car off the road where I thought I had a couple of weeks ago, and discovered I was in a completely different place.  And I decided to go for a hike, see where the road went.

Turns out, it goes either up the mountain (dirt path) or to the base of the waterfall (paved path).  Silly me, I decided to take both of them.

For years, I've seen people climb up to the top of the waterfall and wondered how they survived***, but I have honestly never considered going up there myself until this year.  Guess it's that mid-life crisis thing again, but wow, going on walks just thrills me in a way 2019 Rish just wouldn't understand.  Hell, 2020 Rish doesn't understand it either, but I loves me some walking around in nature.

Except for one bit where the drop-off was steep enough I saw people going down it on their butts, the path to the edge of the waterfall was easy enough a child could do it (and indeed, I saw people with children--and one less-than-a-year-old baby--up there at the highest point).  And there was quite a large gathering of people up at the top, all of them taking selfies and photos and enjoying the way the ice-cold water makes a sort of mist when it rushes down, which, after climbing up there, is pretty refreshing.

There was a big section of water that was still frozen (I don't know if you call that a glacier or just ice) a little ways down from where the falls begin.  Let's say it was twenty or thirty feet of ice.  Well, I saw some guy, what Eric Forman's father would've called a dumbass, climb up on it and then slide down it like it was a waterslide.  He was lost to sight after a little ways, and maybe he had hiked up it so he knew it was safe and didn't just drop off onto jagged rocks or anything, but I couldn't help but think the guy was crazy and hoping to join the dozens of people who have died on the falls over the years.  I didn't think to take a picture of the glacier/ice bed.

I'm not sure how steep this looks.  I like how the rock is gray, though.
The last time I took my nephews to the thrift shop (that is, before all the thrift stores closed), the nine year old found a selfie stick that he started swinging around like a sword.  It was only a dollar, and I realized that I could probably use it to take less-terrible photos of myself, maybe even use it to record a song (still haven't done that yet.  Gotta remind me next time I'm out).  Well, now I carry that stick in my backpack, and got to actually put it to use today.

I didn't realize, though, that if you hold the stick wrong . . . it ends up in your pictures.


After the falls, I decided to take a little dirt trail, to see where it took me.  After about five minutes, I realized it took me into the woods, where the dirt trail promptly ended, and I wandered around for a while, stumbling so much I grabbed a walking stick to keep me off my behind, before finding the dirt trail again and backtracking to where it started.  There was a young couple all decked out for a picnic at the place where the dirt trail started (they had a blanket set out, a basket, two plates of food, and were feeding each other grapes), and I felt shame when I saw them again, having come all the way back with nothing to show for it.  Luckily, those two were too busy staring into each other's eyes to say, "Oh, there's that guy that went up the trail.  He must've gotten lost along the way."

By the time I got to the head of the trail, near where I'd parked my car, I was pretty tired of walking.  But I had told myself I'd find a private place to set up my camera, sit on a rock, and sing a song.  I followed the unpaved hiking trail, and even though it wasn't nearly as steep as the rocky one up the side of the mountain had been, my legs were now tired enough I couldn't go very far (plus, by then, it was starting to get dark).  So I quickly sat on a log, tried to remember the words to a song (and failed, three different times through), then trudged down the trail again and over to my car.

It was a good day for hiking, though, and even though there were TONS of people out (and no effs were given about social distancing), it was a cool spring day with just a little bit of sun, and hey, nature is as breathtaking as a shorn scrotum, I suggest you try it.

I even managed to get a couple of (great) pics of a Yo Gabba Gabba! character at the base of the waterfall, to put up on Instagram someday soon.  If I can remember to, I'll toss one of those plush monstrosities into my backpack to keep taking pictures with at least until the second-hand stores open up again.
Even my crappy camera can't keep down the beauty of the falls.
At the end of the night--and I mean it, I think it was around one when I finally sat down and started writing--I wrote up a little on my Mason/Rowan story.  I still don't know where it's going, except that I have the idea of planting a seed in this tale as to who the ghost is that Mrs. Bice is afraid of running into, and having that pay off in the installment I write about her (the underlying premise here is that Mrs. Bice makes sure to clear out of the building long before the sun goes down, whether it's that special day of the year or not.  So, under what circumstances could she possibly still be there at midnight on July the second?**) , which I intended (in 2015) to be the final story in the anthology.

Well, okay.  As the Princess said, "It's not over yet."

Words Today: 1475
Words In April: 22,203

Each day I'm posting one of these:

Day 19. After a great deal of thought, I'm choosing "Both Sides Now" by Joni Mitchell.
If you're one of those people who hates LOVE, ACTUALLY, well, you're not going to like my answer.  Basically, the first time I heard "Both Sides Now" was the version played in the movie, and it's the later version, done by a world-weary Joni Mitchell, one that is older and wiser, and looks "at life from both sides now,
From win and lose and still somehow; 

It's life's illusions I recall ,
I really don't know life at all."

*But then again, neither do I.  The apple and the tree aren't socially distancing.

**Which was supposed to be the next episode of the Rish Outcast, but I didn't put it out.  I didn't put anything out.  We had a three week stretch, apparently, without any episodes.  It's done and ready to go, and I chose not to release it.  I am five minutes away from finishing another episode that I'll probably release first, but I could've put out three shows before this one without breaking a sweat.  Sigh.
Look, write to your congressman and say, "I DEMAND Rish release the Who Can It Be Now episode!"  That might get results.

***And yes, there is at least one casualty every single year from someone who falls from up there, but I digress. 

Rish Outcast 168: COVID & Breakfast

In this show, I talk about the pandemic (at least as of the end of March), then drone on and on about my "Dead & Breakfast" series.

Afterward, if anyone is left, Fake Sean remarks about his house, in the middle of his street.

If you care to download the episode, Right-Click HERE.

If you care to support me on Patreon, Left-Click HERE.

Logo by Gino "Zed & Breakfast" Moretto.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

February Sweeps - Day 78

The sun is going down, and it looks like a nice sunset is happening in the distance.  I am tempted to do my run now, and again, it blows my mind that I look more forward to running 1.6 miles than I do to writing a thousand words.*  So far, I'm at 145.

This last five months (I'm going from December to now) has been the most interesting ones in a long, long time.  My levels of motivation have been sky-high (though I feel like they may have abated some since January and February), my productivity has been . . . well, pretty good, but I've shared almost none of it (and that was always a bigger problem than the actual writing).  The snafu with eBay yesterday notwithstanding, I'm selling tons of figures, at a level with the annual highpoints of November and December, and I'm slowly whittling away at my debt (part of it is that I'm not buying anything new).

Let me frankly ask the question of what the Rish Outfield of April 2019 would think of me now.  Maybe he'd be jealous, and say, "Wow, you really do look less fat than I do.  What's your secret?"  And he'd be impressed I wrote a new Sidekick story, my Little Caesars story, and a bunch of Dead & Breakfasts (in his time, there was only one), but then he'd say, "What about Balms & Sears, did you finish that one?"  He could ask about a handful of other projects in-progress, or worse, ask about stories, novellas, and the one unpublished novel, and whether I'd put those out there.  He could also ask me about my social life, and if I actively see more than a single friend face-to-face a week.  And I guess I'd have to admit that, even that has stopped, but it's not my fault, there's a disease going around that keeps people from going to other people's houses or to parties or clubs or bars or conc--

"Suuuuuure," 2019 Rish would say.  "And Trump's going to get re-elected with numbers so high, they're close to what he claimed he won in 2016 by."


But I think he'd be at least somewhat impressed, and at least somewhat proud of me, and I'd wish him the best of luck and suggest he buy up any Indominus Rex masks he could still find, because they'd sell for a hundred bucks apiece in a few months.

Gosh, I wonder what a conversation with the Rish Outfield of April 2021 would be like.

Sadly, I only managed eight hundred words tonight.  I was just too tired, falling asleep three or four times while editing (and to be honest, fighting a dipping head while typing this).  I recognized that it would only take about a hundred words to get me to a thousand, but I just couldn't manage.  I told myself I'd write a hundred and eight words in the morning before I got out of bed.

Words Today: 892
Words In April: 20,728

P.S. I always post these each day.
Day 18. "Midnight Train To Georgia" by Gladys Knight and the Pips. 
I didn't grow up with this song.  I first heard it while working on the show "Boston Public" in 2000 or 2001.  I played a student in a class (I think it was a math class) and the teacher didn't show up, and Loretta Devine's character (Marla Hendricks) came in to substitute, and since she didn't know anything about the subject, she taught the students "Midnight Train" and had the girls sing one part and the boys sing the other.  We must have gone through that song fifty times that day in Manhattan Beach, California.  And since all of us were singing together, they don't consider that a line of dialogue, so we were all paid base non-union rates for it.  But a couple of months later, I heard the Gladys Knight version on the radio and I perked right up.  I STILL remembered the boys' part she had taught us in the faux class.  And that's how I still sing it today.
Thanks, Loretta!

*The other day, Big asked me why I would even bother trying to get to a thousand words when I didn't explicitly have to.  I didn't have a good answer for that other than, "Well, if you can do a thousand, then I sure as hell can."