Monday, August 31, 2020

August Sweeps - Day 212

Last day of the month.  I had plenty of work to do today, then went to the mall, the grocery store, the post office, and took my nephew to the pet store.  

I spoke to Big today, about him reaching his goal (of 300,000 words).  It must have felt pretty good, because he's now thinking of stopping the writing as soon as he finishes the story he's working on.  Then he'll focus on production and other aspects of the creative process.

It, of course, makes me think about what I would be doing with my time if I weren't writing every day.  Putting out more podcasts?

Sit-ups Today: 166
Sit-ups in August: 5676

I managed to record another podcast with Marshal tonight, and that went pretty late, and I hadn't written yet.

Well, it had to happen sometime . . . and it looks like it's today.  I can't keep awake, no matter how much I try--I even went and did more sit-ups, but nearly fell asleep on the floor there.  I only have 48 words for the day, but that may be all I manage.

Words Today: 493
Words In August: 30,610

So, I went out with a whimper this month, but it still counts, and I can live with it.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

August Sweeps - Day 211

Not much to report today.  I spent the last hour working on yesterday's blog post, and I barely have a hundred words written for the day, so I'll need to increase productivity before I can even consider letting myself go to sleep.

Sit-ups Today: 100
Sit-ups in August: 5510

I'll probably come in here and type a bit about what went on--if I can think of anything--so it's not just two paragraphs, but I promise nothing.

Words Today: 1139
Words In August:  30,117

Saturday, August 29, 2020

August Sweeps - Day 210

Today's the day Big Anklevich reaches his goal for the year.  Yes, he's a turd, yes, he loves the NFL, yes, he once shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.  But on his last birthday, he set a goal of writing 300,000 words before October came around again . . . and he did it.  

Of course, as I write this, he's still a few hundred words shy of his goal, but I've no doubt he will reach it, as he texted me in the morning and said he had already started writing, and was planning on eating a stick of butter, and over-full ashtray, and an entire tub of chocolate pudding as a reward for when he finished.

And good for him.  We've all set goals and failed to meet them, giving up after a couple of months, a couple of weeks, or a couple of days.  But to do something difficult, when you'd rather do something--ANYTHING--else, because you said you would . . . well, that's integrity.

Now, while I have written more this year than I ever have before, and written more days in a row than ever before (almost twice the record, I would guess, though I sure as hell ain't gonna look it up), I don't have that sense of accomplishment that Big surely will in a few minutes (just waiting for his text).  You see, I didn't start this daily writing thing because of Big, and while his enthusiasm certainly kept me motivated on days when I gave no craps, my daily exercise, writing, and blogging routine has been different.  Fear, love, regret, sadness, desperation, and self-loathing have been my fuel.  But whatever gets you there, right? 

Sit-ups Today: 150
Sit-ups In August: 5410

I also did one hundred of something called leg-lifts, and they were difficult.  I ought to do them again.

Today turned out to be one of my favorite days of the year.  Despite very little writing or exercise on my part, unless you call mud-crawling exercise.

For weeks, my nephews have been bugging me (and their parents, and my uncle, and my niece) to take them to a pond about an hour from here, not far from where I grew up, where there were minnows, crawdads, and frogs to be caught.  Normally, I'd be all over a frog hunt, but the two boys have so many animals they've obtained over the past few months that their mother is constantly complaining about the smell and threatening to dump everything in the trash.  If I told you my nephew has eight fish tanks in his room, would that surprise you?

But there was a family reunion at my brother-in-law's childhood home going on, which is only fifteen or so minutes from the lake, that he told them he'd take them to the lake before going to his parents' place.  And not wanting to be left alone, where I might be forced to write or record, I said I wanted to go too.  My plan was to drive down with my (12 year old) nephew, look for frogs, and when it was time to go to his grandparents' place, I'd head for home.

Well, that didn't end up happening.  The lake was (literally) the closest place you could fish to where I lived growing up, and we went there all the time.  But once I got old enough to not go with them, I never went back.  So, scarily, it's been more than thirty years since I went there.

As we pulled up, my nine year old nephew managed to catch a frog with his bare hands.  I don't know how he did this, because I spent hours trying and never could achieve the same thing.  There were hundreds of large (and small) green frogs.  Except for only one frog being visible, this is what the edge of the lake looked like:

For a little while, I made the attempt to just enjoy the lake--my sister had brought two inflatable rafts--but my nephews' frog-hunting mania was contagious, and I started trying to catch them myself.  And it was incredibly difficult (I'd say impossible, but both of the kids managed to catch frogs).

In the very first screenplay I ever wrote, I had a character talking about something from his childhood, and had in the screen directions that, for a couple of lines, the character has been replaced by a ten year old boy.  It was something I had never seen before in a film, and I just liked the imagine (in my head) of it.  Now, I realize that I'm a grown-up, and am expected to act like one, but after trying (fruitlessly) to catch frogs in a standing position, or a less dignified kneeling position . . . I eventually abandoned all decorum and laid down on my stomach in the water and crawled with my face at frog level, trying to sneak up on them that way.

I realized while I was doing it that it probably looked absurd, and absolutely something no self-respecting adult would ever do, but a) the only people within a mile of us were a group of teenagers on the far bank, chattering and grab-assing amongst themselves, and b) I've never been particularly high on self-respect.  And it was fun.  Eventually, my two nephews joined me, and we tried over and over again to catch the frogs, and though they had success, I did not.*

I've talked before of my love for frogs.  I can't explain why I dig them so much, but I always have, and remember being a little kid on a fishing trip with my parents and discovering frogs in the bushes, and going nuts trying to catch them.  Some things never change.

Eventually, it was time for my sister's kids to change into dry clothes and head to their grandparents' place.  She made the kids let all but two of the frogs go, while I was changing my own clothes behind the truck.  I still hadn't decided to go with them, but the twelve year old was having such a good time, he convinced me to stay so he could keep "fishing."  We had about a half hour left before we had to go, and we made the best of it, though we kept losing the frogs and would chase them around the grass and reeds before they reached the water and were out of our reach. 

Normally, I would loathe such an unflattering photo of myself, but the frog jumped just as I took it, and I like how odd that looks.

Finally, it was time to go, and we had managed two more, for a total of four.  I didn't realize that my nephew would get in trouble for bringing twice the amount of frogs home that his mother had allowed (she had initially said he had to let them all go and he had talked her down to keeping two).  That bit's my fault, but I was worried that if one or two died, there would be none left (except for the bullfrog I used to keep in my turtle tank, which I raised from a tadpole, which now lives in one of the boy's aquariums), because one of the frogs (obviously not the one in the above photo) seemed sluggish and near death.  

My nephew told me that was a defense mechanism they do--pretend to be dead so predators will leave them alone, then they leap to life again a moment later.**

We loaded ourselves into my dad's pickup truck and headed northwest, singing The Weeknd, Dua Lipa, and Post Malone, just like we did on our road trip in March.

I have been to my brother-in-law's childhood home several times over the years.  His parents had a metric ton of kids, and there are always a bunch of grandchildren and folks I don't know the names of running around when I go there.  

They live in a tiny town (pop. 256) that's so rural, it made my town look like Gotham City.  This is a photo from their backyard:

It is a big farm with horses, cows, pigs, chickens, rabbits, cats, Mccaws, pheasants, geese, dogs, and until recently, two emus.  It's several hundred acres in size, and the nearest neighbor is maybe half a mile away.  Quite an amazing place to bring your kids.

Here's a selfie that shows what's in front of their house:

Anyway, there were about fifty people there, just for a gathering, and the old man told me twice he couldn't remember my name but that I was always welcome.  He's a super decent human being, and one of his sons hitched up a trailer to their tractor and took everybody on a hayride.  

There were more than twenty kids, and they can be loud.  I declined to go, choosing instead to sit and try to get some writing done (I'd brought my laptop), and then playing tetherball with my nephew as the sun went down.

The sunset was really, really beautiful.  I had my nephew take a picture, and he got a bunch of me walking down one of those country roads that looks like it goes on forever:

Then, as the sun went down, we each took a picture of each other standing there, and wow, I don't know that a professional photographer could have taken a better one.  He even got a bird flying past in there.

Oh, and speaking of pretty, while they were all gathered, one of the cousins pulled up in her car.  She was young (in her twenties) and enormously attractive, and even though she didn't know me at all, she said hello and hung out with all the gathered folks there.  You know, I guess it bears mentioning: everybody there was nice and friendly, and several people greeted me or asked me who I was.  I guess that comes with the territory of living in or growing up in a small town.

As it was getting dark, a bunch of the kids wanted to go on the hayride again, and the three year old--who didn't have any shoes on--wanted me to carry him over as it was getting ready to leave.  I planned on just passing him on to one of the family members, but he wanted me to go with him, so I hopped up there and went on the trip with them.  It was about eighty degrees with a breeze, and that's practically perfect in every way, just like Mary Poppins, y'all.

I had to really hold on to my nephew because he wanted to run around and there was no railing or handholds or anything on that ride, and not only did it get dark quickly, but the tractor had no lights on (only brakelights), and the idea of somebody falling off and getting run over was all too possible.***  I was sitting next to the dad of the really attractive twenty-something girl, and he chatted with me quite a bit, which was again, pretty nice.  I'd have liked to have talked to her, though.

But I gotta wonder how that might have gone.  Turns out I'm only ten years younger than her dad, which I suppose is going to be more and more common the more years I live.  

The nearly-full moon came out, and one brave star among the clouds, and it was the only light there was out there in the desert, where the nearest city was more than an hour away, and even the nearest school was one town over.  I have to think, in retrospect, that the driver purposely left the lights off the tractor (though it's possible it didn't have lights, I dunno) so we could watch the moon rise and just enjoy our surroundings.  It was enormously pleasant, and, as dorky as it sounds, holding on to my nephew and sitting fairly close to a pretty girl made me feel like I was alive.

(I'm aware this is not a good photo, but it was the only one I took)

We got back to the farm after about twenty or so minutes, and the family members all started to head home.  To my surprise, the pretty girl said goodbye to me, like she knew who I was, and I scrabbled for something clever to say.  "Have a nice drive," was about all I could manage.

The twelve year old got this idea that he would be able to find toads out in the pasture, so he and a bunch of the other kids got flashlights and went looking.  Indeed, he found one fat little guy and scooped him up to take home to add to his menagerie.  My sister said there was no place for a toad, and told him to let it go, but he didn't (instead, putting it in the truck, under the seat in a Big Gulp cup).  I told him that he could always let it go in the garden out back and it could eat bugs and be fine (but he tossed it into one of his fishtanks, where he's got a tree frog already living he caught on a fishing trip a month ago).

Almost everybody had gone home, and I loaded up what I could, and was surprised when the nine year old said he wanted to go home with me too.  That was nice, and we had a good time singing songs and stopping for a drink on the way home.

After that, the boys went to sleep and I had to do my exercise and writing, and was pretty tired myself, but like I said, I considered it a really good day.

As far as the boring stuff goes, I wrote a teeny bit more on my Natalie model story, and discovered that in five paragraphs of writing, I used the word "otherwise" three times.  

1. She'd traded shifts with Mason, otherwise she'd be at work right now.

2.  She wished she were not alone in the otherwise-comfortable bed. 

3.  Otherwise, why didn't she cut up the card before she'd paid it off? 

I don't know why stuff like that bothers me so much (I also can't abide native English speakers that confuse "to" and "too" [or worse, "two," but nobody does that, do they?], just one of my quirks), but I spent four minutes of writing time trying to find substitute words for "otherwise."  The weird thing is, I did a search throughout the whole document, and in 8700 words, I hadn't used "otherwise" anywhere else but those three paragraphs.

Words Today: 1043 (I had about 500, and I kept making myself add to it until I could finally go to sleep--3:07am)
Words In August: 28,978

*I did catch a pretty red crayfish, though, and let it go after a minute, forgetting that there was room for one in one of my nephews' many fish tanks downstairs.

**There has to be truth to that because the "dying" frog is totally fine a day later, and indistiguishable from the other three we brought home.

***I am often reminded of when I was a kid and a bunch of members of the community went on a wagon to do Christmas caroling, and the mother of my friend Steven fell off and got run over.  It was traumatic for all involved.

Storage Unit Serenade 27

 I have ever been fond of the Blues Traveler song "The Hook," despite it never getting the airplay that "Runaround" got.  Of course, I've never been able to sing the end part, even after all these years.


Pre-Eighties Songs: 8
Eighties Songs: 7
Nineties Songs: 7
Aughts Songs: 0
Teens Songs: 5

Friday, August 28, 2020

August Sweeps - Day 210

Chadwick Boseman died today.  Big Anklevich texted me and told me, and it didn't seem believable.  It's the old folks that he and my cousin let me know have died, and Boseman was young.  He was forty-three, and died of colon cancer, which he'd been battling for four years (CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR came out four years ago).  I don't talk about the movie BLACK PANTHER much, because it was one of those gargantuan hit movies that everybody else was always talking about, like AVATAR or JURASSIC WORLD or I dunno, TITANIC.  So I didn't feel I had much to say about it.

But I did end up seeing it a second time, after it had made so much cultural and financial impact, and was surprised by how good it truly was.  And that's about it, all I have to say, except that it's been interesting to hear how much T'challa/Boseman inspired and touched people.  

I took my nephew to the movies tonight, and it'll probably be the last time.  He was so restless and bored and wiggly and he'd grab my arm and bite me several times during the film.  When I got home, I found that Every Single One of my Black Panther figures had sold, all at the same time (but all to different people at least).  It's crass, I suppose, that so many people scooped up the figures I've had listed for years now (Hasbro made a movie BP in 2019, some in 2018, and one in 2016), but I looked through my inventory, and I don't think I have as many of the figures left as sold all at once, since the same figures were available for sale in multiple places, and they all sold in all places tonight.

I gathered up all the BPs I'd accumulated over the years, and that's what the above picture represents.  You'd think that eight would be enough (to fill our lives with love), but it's not.  My nephew was telling me how much the Chadwick likeness figures are now selling for on eBay, but I don't feel like I missed out.  I had these up for sale for months, some for years, and now they're all gone . . . and maybe the people who bought them will get joy out of them knowing they didn't get price-gauged.

Sit-ups Today: 113
Sit-ups In August: 5260

Oh, I forgot the point of this daily blogging...

Today was very nearly the day: the day when I didn't write.  

It didn't really occur to me, because I was busy all day, and then, whoops, I effed up again with the water.  I was about to do my nightly exercise, so I turned on the water in the sink, so I'd have some to splash my face with after my run . . . and then I started in on sit-ups, went ahead and did my run, never remembering I'd left the water running.  And it was the hot water I left running too.  

I didn't even discover it at first either.  I was downstairs, checking to see if the washer was empty (it never is), and I thought, "Holy smoke, what is that smell?"  I might even have said it aloud: What is that smell?  And then I saw the water coming through the ceiling and the puddle on the floor (it's just a concrete floor in the basement, complete with cracks in it, and that actually helped once I ran upstairs, turned off the water, went through every towel trying to soak it up, then went back downstairs to see what I could do there.

That took a good long time, and I never even got my laundry done.  Then I came up here and started to read the Chadwick Boseman tributes.  And around 1:15, I realized I had not written today.

Should I even bother? I asked myself.  I might even have said it aloud: Should I even bother?  After all, I'm pretty sick of it.  Sometimes I feel like it hasn't amounted to a toot in a tornado.  And as down as I get on myself--hoo doggy, do I get down on myself--I think I deserve a break.

But I tried anyway.  I managed about three hundred words between two and two-thirty, then quickly pounded out a few more, hoping to at least reach five hundred before I went to sleep.  Now it's 3:06am, and I'm only at 483.  I think I'll go check on the water damage, and see if I can't find the strength to do just a few more words.

Then I'll get that break in, you know?

Words Today: 700
Words In August: 27,935

Thursday, August 27, 2020

August Sweeps - Day 209

 August is done, and while that is sad, I'm sure there are people out there that see this as the start of a new month, with new horizons to pursue.  They'll chase them anywhere, figuring that there's time to spare.  I wish they'd let me share their whole new world with them.

Regardless, I am at the cabin, and it is morning.  I awoke in the night when it was still dark, and could hear an owl hooting somewhere nearby.  It's such an evocative, exotic sound (if I'm using either of those words properly), and I did go outside and look up at the sky last night, hoping to see an amazing array of stars like we did on the night my Uncle Len started in on the devil and my Aunt Virginia wanted everybody to go back inside.  But there weren't any.  It was just black, like I was staring down instead of up.  The only light inside the cabin was the screen of my laptop, having gone back to the DVD menu, and it would have been nice to sit myself down and write a paragraph or two (I was frankly lucky to even get five hundred words in yesterday . . . but believe me, I got a nap in just fine, since priorities are priorities), but I went back to sleep.  It's the hottest part of the year, and I didn't even remember to put on a blanket--just closed the window directly above me, and pulled on a sheet.

I woke with the sun still low in the sky, but nothing like those times last year (or even the first time I came here this year) when it's just after sunrise), and finished my blog post from yesterday.  Somehow, it's already a couple of hours later, and I haven't done much other than blog and quickly shower* and for the first time in recorded history, I didn't bring myself a donut for breakfast.

Donuts are, in my estimation, one of The Things that make life worth living.  I had a list of my three favorite things a couple of years ago, when I gave up soda for a few months, and Pepsi was number two on it.  Donuts fall somewhere lower than that, because there is a certain guilt factor associated with donuts, whereas sodas hold no such qualms for me (what, am I just going to walk around with a pounding headache the rest of the day?  No effing thanks--especially when Coke Zero Sugar tastes fine to me now).  But I have started to gain back some of my weight, and there are times when I look at my belly with my shirt off and think, "I'm just as fat as ever, regardless of doing over a hundred sit-ups a day."

So I eschewed the donuts for this trip, and will probably make myself a peanut butter sandwich for breakfast as soon as I'm done typing this.**

I know that, if I changed my diet completely, that my extensive (to me, anyway) exercise would pay better dividends.  But I remember eating hamburgers in Los Angeles with lettuce instead of a bun, and I don't think I'll go back there, especially since the only person seeing me without my shirt on is me. 

You may ask, Why do I do it, then?  Well, that's hard to say.  Part of it is that I have grown to enjoy the exercise, and a little part of my brain tells me it makes me healthier and getting in shape will keep me alive longer (or at least, make the end of my life a little less miserable, I dunno), but also, part of it--tied to the mid-life crisis that's GOT to be winding itself down soon, no?--is that I want to say that I at least tried.  I tried to get in better shape, I tried to write romantic stories and stretch creatively, I tried to go experience the beauty of nature even though there was no one who would go with me, I tried to get used to seeing myself on camera, I tried to live just a little bit more.

In the end, it's not going to matter, I recognize that, but I am confident that, when I look back on Plague Year 2020, that I'll say I also lived a lot more during that awful year than I did the year (or years) before it.

It's now after two, and I just started writing.  I felt guilty for slacking off--hadn't done any sit-ups today either--so I made myself do something before continuing my little weekend.  I remember when I lived in Los Angeles, with a fulltime job and traffic every day, and how short and precious the weekends were . . . and yet there would be entire Saturdays where I never left the apartment, just slept and read and watched a DVD or something, feeling I had earned a day off.  Now while I'm not sure I've earned anything (other than a good old fashioned ass-whooping from a burly redneck), these trips to the cabin are like a weekend all to myself, doing what I want, when I want to do it . . . or doing nothing.

I'm not great at doing nothing, but I've been known to dabble in the hobby.

Sit-ups Today: 300
Sit-ups In August: 5147

Words Today: 1066
Words In August: 27,235

*Turns out leaving the gas on did nothing to heat up water for a shower.  Maybe I needed to turn on the water heater upstairs, but having never needed it in my previous trips alone (when I'm here with my family, they always make sure there's hot water), I didn't think about going about it.  In fact, I only went upstairs once yesterday, to do some sit-ups (the floor down here is harder), and I found a dead bird--a pretty yellow one outside the door to the deck.  Birds are always seeing the sky reflected in the glass and flying into them, once startling me real good because it was the window directly behind me.  Still, it's sad to see such a pretty animal dead for no reason . . . and yeah, I'm a scumbag male because I acknowledge that I wouldn't have mourned for it much had it been an ugly bird.  Please stop reading now.

**Of course I'm aware that bread is way up there on the list of Things You Should Not Eat.  I even remember seeing a movie recently (was it one of the Jumanjis?) where the pretty model type said she hadn't tasted bread in years.  YEARS.  Would I give up bread completely, if I was told (by the mythical horned dude my uncle always talks about) that people would find me attractive in exchange?  I don't honestly know, especially since I don't believe in the devil, so there's practically no reason to believe anyone would find me attractive.  One of the videos I deleted on my phone last night, in an attempt to be able to finish my goddamn song before sunset was of me sitting in this very chair, having just got my new phone, trying to sing Someone You Loved.  I looked so repellent in the footage that I gladly deleted it, and a couple of others, not catching the irony that I was freeing up space to record another video that has my face in it.  Ah well.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

August Sweeps - Day 208

Not much to report today.  I had planned on coming to the cabin all week, and the only stumbling block this time was that the power went out this morning, so I had to shower and brush my teeth in the dark, but it came back on after less than an hour (and it's a once-a-year kind of thing nowadays, whereas in the little town where I grew up, the power would go out every other month or so, to the point where we all had flashlights beside our beds and kerosene lamps on the mantle above the fireplace).

I went down to the lake again right before sunset, as has been my tradition every time I've come here by myself this year, and there's less water than last week, but still enough that you could go out on one of those foam raft things people stand up on (you know what I mean), but you wouldn't dare take a metal boat or the paddleboat we used to take onto the water about ten years ago.

I ran up the side of the dam and tried to sing a song before the sun was gone, but for the first time, my new phone claimed that it was full, about two-thirds of the way through, and though I deleted six or seven videos, rapidly fighting the sunset, it kept claiming that it was too full to record more.  I restarted the phone, hoping that that would magically fix it, but it wouldn't let me record anything more or take any pictures, despite me deleting another half dozen in puzzlement.

I kept hearing splashing from the water down below, so I left my tripod on the dam and went down below to investigate.  It turned out that it was hundreds of fish, jumping and fighting for territory in the almost-drained lake . . . hundreds of fish that will be dead in a month or so, to the very last one.  I guess that could be said of all of us, eventually, but it makes me sad and is frustrating because there's no way of saving them, unless you filled the bed of a truck with water and caught some, then took them down to the pond at the top of the canyon, which is tiny, but somehow bigger than the lake is now.

If I had a girlfriend and a pickup truck, I think I'd make that a project for one weekend--see how many trout we could rescue and transplant to the small pond, where some would still get scooped up by fishermen (and some would die during the transfer), but a few might survive.*  I guess there's a hundred and one possibilities in the sentence "If I had a girlfriend..."

The day came and went very quickly.  It's almost enough to make you depressed, if you think about it.  But let's not think about it then.

Sit-ups Today: 300
Sit-ups In August: 4847

Last week, instead of making a fire--there are postings everywhere that due to wildfire threats (and probably due to the fact that almost all the water's gone) no fires are allowed.  While I'm sure that refers to campfires rather than a fire in a stove, I did keep thinking about it, along with something my brother said the last time I saw him.  He said the insurance on the cabin--which is head-spinningly expensive--isn't in his name, despite him asking over and over that my mom switch it over, but is in her name . . . and she hasn't paid it for the year, so it has lapsed.  Lance said, "If something were to happen, it would be a total loss."

So, instead of building a fire last week, I went down in the basement, turned on the gas, and used the gas stove to cook my soup for the first time.  Immediately afterward, I went back down and turned the gas off (I'm a responsible sort).  And this trip, I used the gas again, cooking two cans of soup in a row (I have gained three or four pounds back over the last month or so) . . . and then I forgot to go down and turn it off.

While this shouldn't really matter--if I'm not using the gas to heat or cook, it's not being wasted, right?--it means the water heater upstairs is working, and I might as well take advantage.  Often when I'm up here, I take what Austin Powers called "a whore's bath," and on the rare occasions when I spend two nights (only once this whole year), I end up smelling pretty ripe when I get home, especially with my fruitless sit-up regimen.  But with the water heater on, I definitely ought to take a shower, and then go down and turn off the gas immediately after.

I know, I know, my blog is fascinating.  Yeah, I live to entertain.

Speaking of which, I brought a stack of DVDs from the library to entertain me, and I tried three different ones last night, and none of them would play.**  I assumed the first one was due to this weird protective sticker the library put on it that was halfway peeling off (probably due to being in the car in August), but the second one also had that problem, and I just peeled the sticker off, thinking that would take care of it.  It didn't.  The third one didn't have one of those stickers, and it wouldn't play either.

Finally, I grabbed a fourth--a pirate movie from 1942 called THE BLACK SWAN--and it loaded up just fine.  I watched it, and enjoyed it fairly well,*** though I couldn't tell if the movie was made for adults or for children.  But what I really enjoyed was the audio commentary with Rudy Behlmer and star Maureen O'Hara.  She was eighty-three when she recorded it, and talked about her career and how movies were made in those days, and how her contract was bought and horse traded by the studios, and how she went out to dinner with one of the stars of the movie and the next day he died.  I am fascinated by filmmaking and stuff like that, and though there's no way of knowing up at the cabin, I wonder if O'Hara is still around, and why I don't remember seeing her in anything since the John Hughes production ONLY THE LONELY (which had to have been '91 or '92).****

I ended up falling asleep during the commentary, and never did get around to writing on my Natalie model story (instead, I thought I'd look over a finished 2020 piece and maybe do an episode for it for Halloween, but I spent my time reorganizing the paragraphs and trying to make it flow like I'd written it all at the same time, instead of in jerks and fits like I did.  It garnered me a few words, but surely not what I should have had writing here at the cabin.

Words Today: 548
Words In August: 26,169

*Of course, the small pond may freeze all the way through during the winter, so all our effort would still be for naught.

**That's not technically true--ARSENIC AND OLD LACE started up and got halfway through the opening titles before freezing.

***Something that really vexes me in this day and age is when I'm told that everything is racist or everything is sexist, and people constantly point out misogeny in older movies, TV, and literature, because they view it through today's lenses, among third-wave feminism and the #MeToo movement, seeing hate where I'm not sure it was present.  However, there were a couple of rapey elements in this pirate movie (which I guess comes with the territory, in the same way a movie about segregation is going to have racism in it or a movie about war is going to have violence in it) that did seem a little uncomfortable today.  

****I checked when I got home, and O'Hara died in 2015, at the age of ninety-five.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

August Sweeps - Day 207

Today was my early day, and I still didn't get anything done.

But that's part of life, isn't it?  You never get to it all, and then, whoosh, fade to black.

I really wish I were a real, professional writer, because I keep having ideas for stories, and I know I'll never get to them.  I mean, I'm doing alright right now--for me, at least--but the story I worked on today, if I took my writing Seriously (with a capital S), I would have already finished and moved on to the next one.

I was thinking of maybe calling it "The New Model," but now that I type it, I realize that it sucks.  "Next Year's Model?"  I dunno.  I heard my new second-favorite song, Break My Heart by Dua Lipa again tonight, and I thought that the sentiment of the song* matched the theme of this story completely, in that Natalie Whitmore is an alpha predator, and meets this guy who she falls for like a little girl at her very first neighborhood cotillion.  So I thought I might grab a lyric from it and name the story after that.  We'll see, though--at this point, I'm not sure how she's going to get the guy--Marc--to come to the bed and breakfast on July 2nd, and what will happen to him when he gets there.**

I went to the park and wrote for a while today, and I guess I should mention that I've been texting Renee Chambliss daily to urge her to write, and she's done it three days in a row now.  Pretty soon her word count will start to pass mine by, I suspect.

Sit-ups Today: 200
Sit-ups In August: 4547

A few years ago, I wrote a story where one of the characters refers to having gone to junior high, and I decided to change the reference to "middle school" because that's how Big Anklevich (and practically everybody else I meet) refers to those years.  I thought Big would be proud of me so I told him how I'd changed it, but he must have thought I was making fun of him, because he pretty much called me an asshole about it, when all I was trying to do was make the reference modern and universal, rather than the forty year old hick background I come from.

Anyway, today I wrote the following phrase: "She stood next to him, and saw the shadow they cast on the big rock beside them.  If you looked up Couple in the dictionary, you'd get something just like that."  But for the same reason as the above, even though I like it better the way I wrote it, I changed it to, "If you Googled images under the word Couple, the first picture would be exactly that."

I've decided to hit the cabin again tomorrow, because there will come a day in the next few weeks, when I can no longer go there, and I don't want to waste what time I have left.  If I were really a Writer (with a capital W), I would make it my goal to finish this story, so I can go on to finishing the novel, so I could go on to writing something new.  As I type at least once a week on here, we'll see.

Words Today: 1243
Words In August: 25,621

*A woman who has been with a ton of men (she gives the number as "a hundred million" in the song) and always has the upper hand finally meets a guy who makes her feel like she never has before, and suddenly, she's vulnerable, and is in danger of getting her heart broken . . . for the first time.

**Since Natalie wasn't even working there in the one story I wrote that takes place on that night ("True Ghost Encounter").

Monday, August 24, 2020

August Sweeps - Day 206

Mondays tend to be busy work days for me, so not much to blog about, and not many words got written tonight.  I should finish this damned story, since it's really quite pointless, but I've hooked Natalie up with this Marc guy, and tomorrow I'll have them part, and it will be fun to see her all melancholy and heartsick over this dude.   Then I'll have her fixate on the idea of getting him to come to the bed and breakfast on the second of July, so he can encounter a ghost, but crazy as it seems to her (and the author), this guy just simply isn't interested in Natalie Whitmore.  So, that'll be interesting, and we'll see what lengths she goes to to get him there on Ghost Night.

Let's see, what else?  

I spent an obscene amount of money today to back Hasbro's crowd-funding action figure Marvel project, and if you're one of those people who shakes their heads at the thought of a multi-billion dollar company like Hasbro having the temerity to do a crowdfunding project . . . well, you're not wrong.  

Oh, and speaking of toys.  Even though I've never played the video game Fortnite, I have become more than a little fixated on one of the characters--a banana man named Peely.  I found three Peelys at Target today and took a picture to share with Big.  If you look at my eye there, you can see what I was talking about yesterday, though thankfully, the black is already fading, just like my lust for life.

Sit-ups Today: 166

Sit-ups In August: 4347

Last night, I made reference in the story to Disney's LADY & THE TRAMP, and made the mistake of looking it up on Wikipedia, which led to about six other entries, which wasted nearly an hour.  No Wikipedia today . . . except I just thought of something I wanted to look up earlier.  Damn.

There was another baseball game this afternoon--my nephew's team won handily--and I went just so I could force myself to write.  

I read this article today on what walking ten thousand steps a day does to your body (spoiler: it lowers your blood pressure and cholesterol, helps you lose weight, sleep easier, and makes your butthole turn orange), and it made me wonder just how many steps a day I walk.  I had that anti-Semitic app on my old phone that only worked when it wanted to, but I suppose I could install a new one, just to see how many steps a day's activity translates to.  No promises, though.

Words Today: 788 (which isn't great, but respectable)
Words In August: 24,378

Sunday, August 23, 2020

August Sweeps - Day 205

Hey Mom, it's 3:47pm, and I've already got 116 words!

I don't much care, I guess.  

I did end up publishing "Three-Time Visitor" with my temporary cover.  As I keep saying, I can always swap out this cover with another one down the road.  The important thing is that I've put it out there and am moving on to another project.  You can check it out HERE.

Here's a sort of strange thing that happened to me: I got up on Sunday and was eating lunch with my sister and her kids and she said, "Hey, what happened to your eye?"  I didn't know what she meant, but assumed it was allergies (I usually--not this year, though--get seasonal allergies and spend two or three days with grossly swollen and itchy eyes), until she said it looked like a black eye.  So I went in the bathroom to see what she was talking about.  And yes, my right eyelid was black . . . but not purple or brown like a normal black eye--it was black, like charcoal, or like I had painted on my upper eye with a Sharpie or permanent marker.

I rubbed at it, to see if it would come off, and it did hurt to touch, though I had had no eye trauma that I could remember.  It was weird, and I only mention it to you because, later . . . my taint was the same way.*

Sit-ups Today: 100
Sit-ups In August: 4181

My Uncle Len and Aunt Virginia came over and decided to spend the night, because the place they've been staying since moving out of their house on Friday only has one bathroom (that is constantly in use).  Earlier in the day, the uncles and aunts were getting together by a little pond near where I went to high school (my friend Rob lived right up the road, and now lives in his parents' house (after fixing the brakes on his mom and dad's Crysler LeBaron).

I wasn't planning to go with them, because it tends to be a lot of sitting around, while the children scream and run around and eventually start crying over one thing or another.  But I changed my mind and hopped in with them, forgetting that lately, they all get together and talk politics.  It has become quite unbearable (honestly, there's still outrage to be wrung out of Hillary's missing emails, all these years later?), but I had brought a book and tried to catch up on my reading, and pretty soon, it was getting dark, so it was time to go anyway.

I do hate it when it gets dark early, though I probably won't complain when it doesn't get in the upper nineties or higher in the afternoons.  But I got a couple of neat pictures out of it, like this one of the sunset across the pond.

My nephew, who is three, is at a pretty great age right now, and though I am loathe to look at pictures of myself, there's neat pink light from the sunset on us here.

Not a lot of words today.  I started out early, and meant to do more, but I recorded for an hour or so instead, and though that doesn't count, it's writing-adjacent, as the real estate ads say.

Words Today: 521
Words In August: 23,590

*This was a joke.  I was born without a taint.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

August Sweeps - Day 204

Today was Saturday, and I used it to catch up on the work I missed yesterday.  I then treated myself to a pizza and a quick trip to the park, where I sat on a blanket and tried to eat all the pizza, but couldn't manage to eat it all.  I wonder what I've done to myself with all this exercise (besides damaging my taint, I mean).  I started writing while at the park, and then the laptop did that thing it does when I go to the park, and restarted, losing me a good chunk of what I had written.

In protest, I decided to edit audio instead, and finished the second half of my Star Wars reading, so that should drop even earlier than we had planned for it.

My Uncle Len came over and sang karaoke with me and my nephews tonight, and it was quite enjoyable.  He complimented my singing about twelve times, and I tried to impress him by doing a karaoke song in Spanish, which I've never done before.  It occurred to me that, in a normal world, someone not related to me would be impressed by that, but clearly this is not a normal world, and I should exit it forthwith.  I am so overflowing with bitterness right now that I could be served at an English pub.  But ah well.

My uncle is moving back to Vegas, which is sad, considering he moved here at the end of last year, and then hardly spent any time here.  I went on my run and did my sit-ups, and I was thinking I might add daily push-ups to my exercise routine in September . . . because I have lost my frigging mind.

Sit-ups Today: 111
Sit-ups In August: 4081

Honestly, I could have finished this D&B story already and gone on to finishing "Only Have Eyes For You," if I really forced myself, like I was doing in February (of course, I was fresh then, and had the eye of the tiger).  I figured out how I'd like to end the novel, though it will be disappointing to anybody who reads it expecting something special.  I still may release it in short story installments, but that's so far in the future we may have electric cars and televisions that fit in our pockets.

Words Today: 768 (this is low since I had to reconstruct what I had written and lost, so I technically wrote many words twice)
Words In August: 23,069

Check Out My Reading of "Star Wars Sequel" Part I


Over on Marshal Latham's "Star Wars: Delusions of Grandeur" podcast, I got half of one of my 2020 New Year's Resolutions done.  It was an idea I had last year, when I came across a copy of Leigh Brackett's revised first draft of "Star Wars Sequel," the screenplay she wrote based on George Lucas's story as a follow-up to STAR WARS.

I found it fascinating, in both the similarities and the differences to THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, and while I intended to summarize it in a single episode, I ended up simply reading the whole thing, which will take two episodes at least.  Check it out RIGHT HERE.

Perhaps you too will find it interesting, if not, might I suggest you go over personally and apologize to Lord Vader.

Friday, August 21, 2020

August Sweeps - Day 203

No blog post today.  I spent a lot of the day moving everything out of my Uncle Len's house and onto trucks, then unloading that at his storage unit.  It was only ninety or ninety-two out, but by the afternoon, I think everybody was praying to Shiva "Let me die."

Now the evil of Kali take me, of course.

As far as everything else goes, I got a lot of food in me, did my run (there was somebody standing out in the front yard of the house where I saw the ghost, but it was a man and he seemed to be gardening or looking for worms*), did some sit-ups, and even though I didn't start until ten-thirty or so, I still got a thousand words written on this new Natalie Whitmore story.  She got to her photoshoot, and is warned about bears (which was inspired by a sign I saw while waiting for someone to text me back yesterday, telling people what to do if attacked by a bear).  

I went on my run, and decided to name the love interest guy after two of the singers I heard during that stretch: Marc Cohn and Don McLean.  Naming characters is pretty fun.  Natalie Whitmore, for example, was named after James Whitmore, who played Brooks in SHAWSHANK.  Or maybe she wasn't; I don't remember at this point.

So far, the story has jack squat to do with ghosts or hauntings, but I don't really care anymore.  I'm pretty set in my mind that the first day I miss writing in a row, I will never write again.  And good riddance.  What has it ever got me, these many, many, many hours of writing?

Sit-ups Today: 111
Sit-ups In August: 3970

Words Today: 1426
Words In August: 22,301

*Probably making sure the place he buried his wife or daughter was good and undisturbed, when I happened to jog by.

Rish Outcast 177: Midlife Crisis (On One Earth)

Rish talks about the state of the plague (back in April) and his own crisis (the mid-life kind).  And Hitchcock's THE LADY VANISHES, for some reason.

Just download it by Right-Clicking HERE.

And support me on Patreon (and get these episodes on time) HERE.

Logo by Gino "Dim-Life" Moretto.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

August Sweeps - Day 202

It's morning, but not early morning.  I usually wake up around dawn when I'm here, and last night was even more extreme: I woke up around forty-thirty, the light still on, my movie over, the laptop sleeping.  I got up and went to the bathroom, and went out back, on the deck, which I have pretty much avoided this visit (for no particular reason--just haven't had the time to read, not with the other things I need to do).  It was darker than you can imagine out there--darker than I have ever seen it--with no moon and absolutely no lights on at any cabin anywhere.  I looked up, and instead of a vast ocean of stars, I could see one dimly glowing--a single pinprick on a canvas painted black.  There was an owl hooting far, far away, and I stood there for a good minute, aware that it was so dark someone could have been standing a foot away and I wouldn't have seen them.

Normally, this would have been absolute lunacy on my part, having just woke up, my mind vulnerable, my imagination on a hair trigger (and yeah, there was the idea in the back of my mind that thee WAS something out there in the dark with me, maybe close, maybe getting closer, but it was a weak, dull idea, like a sore shoulder or tailbone from a fall days ago, and I was able to simply ignore it), but hey, maybe I am growing up a bit, that I can just enjoy the silence, like the song goes, and marvel that anything outside of a cave can be so dark.

As I was approaching the cabin yesterday, there was a herd of sheep in the road.  Maybe a hundred of them, and two dogs moving them along.  I didn't see any people, like you normally do with sheep, and the animals ranged from standing stupidly right in front of me, driving about two miles an hour at this point, to the ones that ran frantically away from my car, plowing into trees and off the road into the gully besides.  I've seen them before, and one time in a group of five or six hundred, which was pretty mind-blowing, but this was nothing.  The reason I mention them is that now, as I type this, I can hear them someplace up the road, a very faint baa-ing that sounds almost remarkably, like women or children crying.

Had I heard that last night, hoo doggie, that's pretty pants-pissingly scary, since the wailing of a woman in the night is one of my big fears, probably brought on by seeing DARBY O'GILL AND THE LITTLE PEOPLE multiple times as a lad (I believe it's the only one of those live-action Disney films from the period that I own, though I might have picked up SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON at some point, though it saddens me that I don't even know, since that's a waste of money, isn't it?).  

I grabbed my audio recorder and put it in the car on Tuesday, so I could record an episode of my podcast while driving down to see my cousin.  But I couldn't think of what story I would present on my show, so I didn't do it--but I did resolve to look through my stories and pick one to do an episode for on the drive (over an hour each way) down to the cabin.  And I didn't do it.

There was an entire family of deer hanging out beside the cabin today, but I could never get a good picture of them.  Deer are naturally skittish, and I think the mothers are hyper-aware that humans come to this area, so any sound they hear, they scramble.

Due to that, a lot of my pictures ended up like this one, which is a sort of Where's Waldo? with a deer in it:

Good luck.  This one came out better:

At one point, I was looking out the window, and there were four fawns all congregating in the same place.  I grabbed my phone to get a picture, and even that sound must've been too much, because by the time I got to the window, phone raised, there was only one visible anymore.

If you look really closely, I think you can see three here:

If you don't like deer, this is probably not a very interesting blog post for you.  I'll now try to describe how doing so many sit-ups on the hard wooden floor once again gave my buttocks a nasty scraping.

Oh, and this footage, you must admit, is a little better:

Regardless, I really would've liked to have stayed at the cabin one more day.  I mentioned that we're moving my uncle tomorrow, and I drove the car down to where there is--if you're tremendously lucky--there's one bar of cell service that the park service has installed for use in emergencies.  I texted both my mom and my uncle to find out when we were getting together tomorrow, because if it was in the afternoon, then I would just spend the night here (I didn't get nearly as much done as I had hoped to, and I was enjoying myself--it was about 83 degrees during the day and 70 at night, and there were no noisy ATVs buzzing around).  

So I sent the texts, and sat down and waited.  And I waited.  And I waited.

I knew it had to be the mini cell tower I was using, because surely one of them would text me back, right?  But I got a text from Big telling me how many words he'd written today, two texts from Renee Chambliss telling me that she would go off to Acapulco with me when this pandemic is over, and one from Tom Tancredi . . . so it wasn't the tower.  I sent another text to my mother saying, "I need to know right now."  And waited.

I sat down on the porch of the shack by the lake (the cellphone service extended about eight or nine feet from the shack in every direction) and started playing a game on my phone, waiting for the reply.  But it never came.  I swore quite a bit, but it didn't help.

If I were a stronger, less generous person, I'd have just said, "Eff you very much, then.  Guess you don't need any slave labor after all," and went back to the cabin for another night, watching Jimmy Stewart movies and injuring my taint with more sit-ups.  But no, I am weak, so, so weak, and I went back to the cabin, packed up my things, and drove home, just as the sun was disappearing behind the mountains.  I had never driven the canyon road at night before, in the dozen years or so I've come to the cabin, but there weren't any incidents (though I did see deer walking beside the road a time or three, and they scare me now, despite my many photographing attempts).

As I passed through a town in the middle of nowhere with a tiny window of cell service, I got a text from my mom saying "Never heard back from him.  Just do what you like."  This was at nine pm or so, and I had come too far to turn around and go back (though I sort of wish that I had, just to make some kind of informal protest), so I came home and was grouchy with my nephews, but got to do my evening run, which was nice.

Sit-ups Today: 250
Sit-ups In August: 3859

Bottom line is: I should have stayed at the cabin one more day, because of spite.  But I didn't, and now, well, I guess I have to write and exercise in the normal way.

Words Today: 1289
Words In August: 20,875

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

August Sweeps - Day 201

Well, August is almost done.  I really ought to look at goals for the month and see if I am anywhere on track.  Despite saying I was just going to go ahead and publish it with a temporary cover, I still haven't put "Three-Time Visitor" out there.  And now that I'm thinking about it, I can't do it.

See, I was told yesterday (Tuesday) that my Uncle Len is coming back from Vegas on Thursday, and is moving out of his apartment on Friday.  We just moved him in at the end of last year, but he's almost never there, and he (understandably) feels it's a waste of money to have this place he only uses ten or so days a month (I guess I'm that same way with the family cabin, spending six to eight days a month there, frantically typing and/or exercising because there's so little time to spend there).  So, the only days I'd have to go to the cabin this week would be Wednesday after my work was done and Thursday.

I loaded up my car as fast as I could, but didn't manage to get going until around two o'clock (which is still fine), and drove up the canyon with lofty goals in mind (I was going to try to get a thousand sit-ups in in two days, was going to record a podcast, maybe record a story, sing a song, watch a DVD or two, read, write a couple thousand words, and dance about like a howler monkey with a shock collar on).  But I've told you about Tuesdays and how I get up earlier on that day and am always falling asleep when I get to my cousin's house, so we've started this tradition where I drink an energy drink at the start of the evening, and it keeps me going . . . but also keeps me awake until three or so (I think it was 3:45 or so last night).  

So, as I was driving toward the cabin this afternoon, I started to get sleepy, and after unpacking my stuff (just the food, pillow, suitcase, backpack, laptop, and whatever else I decided to bring--my mom gave me a box to take up the next time, and I completely forgot it today), I laid down on the couch "just for a minute" . . . and well, there went ninety minutes.  Heck, it might have been closer to two hours, now that I look at the clock again (there are five clocks on display in the main floor of the cabin, and only one of them works).  Sad.

But life is like that.  Nobody can get everything done on their list, and if you focus on jus--well, that's probably incorrect.  There are people who do.  There are people would wouldn't have let themselves go to sleep, or even sit down on the couch, not until they got everything done.  And I suppose I need to be more like those folks.  I need to be more of a lot of things.

So, I did get a hundred sit-ups in, but I don't really feel like trying for a thousand anymore.  Not when I still have trouble going down stairs from my over-exertion over the weekend.  And now the sun is going down--way earlier than it ever has before (except for that day I walked out to the other side of the lake and it promptly started to rain on me once I was too far to make it back unsoaked), and I'm tempted not to honor my tradition of driving over there right before sunset, because I haven't accomplished anything else.

But I did.

To my surprise/horror, the sun went down a full hour before it went down when I first came out here at the beginning of the summer.  I suppose that's how life is going to be from now on, isn't it?  It's a wonder people have the strength to continue.

The trick may be that they have things they need to do, things they're working on, projects, and those keep them going, like the folks you hear about that have a job they work all their lives, and the moment they retire--WHAM!--wake me up before you go-go.

Sit-ups Today: 430
Sit-ups In August: 3609

Something I had wanted to do this past month was try to do sit-ups every single hour while I'm at the cabin, but when I tried to set my phone to go off each hour, it said it couldn't do it without an internet signal.  Well done, phone.  So I tried to do sit-ups in between each activity throughout the afternoon/evening.  

I mentioned the last time I was here how little water was left in the lake, and of course, there was even less this time.  When I went down by the water's edge there was a fairly foul smell now from the water, since the lake has become two parts water/one part dead fish at this point.  There's something so wasteful and sad about seeing this many dead trout . . . this many dead anything, really.

Words Today: 1242
Words In August: 19,586

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

February Sweeps - Day 200

Wow, two hundred days in a row writing (and blogging).  Surprising that it's me that accomplished this and not somebody else.  But I guess it's only impressive if you think it matters.*

I didn't get as much writing done on the "Dead & Breakfast" story today, but any work is something.  So far, it was just a conversation between Natalie and Mason, showing how their relationship has evolved, and I wanted her to remark (to herself) on how he was just so head over heels in love with her the year before, that it made their shifts together difficult for her to get through.  She's never been so crazy about somebody that she practically worships them, and can't imagine how terrible that would be.  But hey, it's a set up for when she falls for this dude, who I haven't got a name for yet, but intended to ask the folks on Facebook for a name for, who she's going to stare into the green eyes of and just plain FALL.

Then we'll see how she likes it.

Writing is therapy, kids, and I think this will be a very productive session . . . if I manage to get through to the end.

Sit-ups Today: 170
Sit-ups In August: 3179

After seeing JURASSIC PARK together on Saturday, my cousin and I talked about what else we might want to see, and I mentioned not having seeing the third movie since the theater in 2001.  So we watched JURASSIC PARK III, and while I did enjoy a couple of parts of it, it just plain wasn't very good.  Turns out it was one of those movies that started shooting without a completed script, and you simply cannot make a movie like you're "pantsing" a novel.  

Afterward, we watched the short film "Battle At Black Rock," which was a fun little JURASSIC WORLD 2 spin-off.  It began with news footage talking about the escaped dinosaurs at the end of the film, and one of them used the phrase "the new normal."  That soured me quite a bit, on everything.  

Big Anklevich and I just hate that term, and he hears it over and over and over again because he works in a newsroom, and you tend to hear the same phrases repeated all the time.**

Words Today: 856
Words In August: 18,344

And since it's my 200th day in a row writing, I thought I'd do the math and see just how many words that garnered me.
Words Since February 1st: 225,961 (!)

*Big Anklevich apparently agrees with me, because he was saying today that the only way anyone would read "Hatchling" (the book I finished this week) would be if it was a posthumous release.  I do hope he gets on that, though.

**In fact, I sent him a page from "Hatchling" on Monday where the two main characters are watching a news story about themselves, and asked him if he would make sure it sounded accurate.  He told me they no longer say "stay tuned for ____" at the end of their broadcasts, and that "eyewitnesses said that it was large and had lots and lots of sexual organs" needed to be in the present tense, because "eyewitnesses say that is is large and has lots and lots" is just how they present information nowadays.

Monday, August 17, 2020

August Sweeps - Day 199

I don't know if you remember me complaining about PayPal charging my savings account last week and that I get penalties if I go over six transactions in one month.  Well, today I checked my account, and I had already racked up fifteen dollars in penalties.  I felt I had no choice but to call up PayPal and demand that they remove the savings account as a form of payment.

It went exactly as you would imagine it would (EXACTLY, he said loud and long): there was much holding, and then the young lady I spoke to said I could remove the bank account myself if I just followed the simple steps on the webs--  But no, I told her, it wouldn't let me remove it.  I had tried over a dozen times* without success.  I explained the late fees and asked if she could please remove it herself.  I got the impression she wasn't sure if she was allowed to do that, but I was in for a penny and in for twelve pounds sterling by this point, so I was willing to ask to speak to someone with that authority . . . but she tried it and sure enough, she had the ability to remove it from there.  She told me that it was no longer the primary or secondary payment source, so it shouldn't get charged under any circumstances, but I asked if she would take it off anyway, just for my peace of mind.

She did so, and that was that.  Would've been nice twenty or thirty dollars ago, but hey, now I can move on to not writing.  Whew.

In other insanity news, I went to the storage unit today, grabbing a dinosaur (which isn't a euphemism, but knowing me, whatever you think that's slang for probably applies), and decided to do a song . . . the first Storage Unit Serenade done at the storage unit since June.  It was a hundred degrees out, so I really could only stand to do one take, but I hope it turned out okay, because the ones I don't have to edit at all are the easiest ones to edit, ironic though that may be.

So, I put off writing all day today, because Mondays tend to be busy, but around 10:30/11:00, I knew it was time to get started.  I decided to work on that new "Dead & Breakfast" story, hoping that it would get me excited about the series again and I could jump right into finishing the novel version once I finished this one . . . and you know, it wasn't a lot of words, but it sure was easy.  Once again, these stories just write themselves, partly because I know the characters and have such affection for them.

And wow, I will really enjoy writing a Natalie Whitmore in love.  I have no idea what that would look like, except probably pretty.  I'm going to go do my run now and continue thinking about it.

Sit-ups Today: 150
Sit-ups In August: 3009

The aftereffects of my hike on Sunday, combined with my insistence on doing sit-ups and running every day, are still with me, especially when I go down stairs or try to stand up from sitting on the ground or floor.  But I now look forward to running, and tonight's was totally enjoyable, just thinking about story possibilities, listening to music, and keeping those stubby legs of mine moving for my little 1.6 mile tradition.  

After which, I did write the opening two scenes of the Natalie W. story, which I had a title for during my run, but no longer remember.  If I were serious about this writing thing, I'd ask my muse about what modeling is like, and I'd ask  

Words Today: 1643
Words In August: 17,488

*Which might have been an exaggeration, if we're being honest.  It might only have been ten or eleven times.

Storage Unit Serenade 26

 By my count, twenty-six of these means there have been half a year's worth of these recordings.  

"Oh Harold, how could anybody be so cruel?"

So, we've gotten to the point where it was nearly summertime, and I had the opportunity to record some of these at the cabin (and its surroundings).  Some of the videos went well, but most did not.

Consider yourself warned.


Pre-Eighties Songs: 8
Eighties Songs: 7
Nineties Songs: 6
Aughts Songs: 0
Teens Songs: 5

Sunday, August 16, 2020

August Sweeps - Day 198

 That's what my heart yearns for now, love and pride.

Today's the day I'll either finish "Hatchling," or discover it's not over yet, even at 32,000 words.  Or, I'll get into some kind of accident, and death will save me from having to work.

I decided to hike up a mountain again today, despite it being August, and in the high nineties out there.  Maybe I did have a death wish, some kind of psychological glitch that wants me to keel over with heat exhaustion instead of finish this story.  It may be the same mental saboteur that wants me to be forever alone.

Regardless, I hiked up the mountain for the third time this year, and though I sweated like crazy and had to sit down and drink part of my water on the way up, I made it up (and down) faster than I ever have before.  

The sunset was pretty, but when isn't it?

I think you could've filled a Mason jar with the amount of sweat I produced.

Charming, ain't it?

There were a lot of hikers up the mountain today, including some really attractive young people, going up when I was almost down--despite the fact that it was now nearly dark.  The first time I ever hiked up there, about twenty-five years ago, it was at night, but I've never gone at night again since.  Next time I do so, I'll do it at night.

I talked to Big today, wondering whether I should end the story where I'm thinking of ending it, or if it should continue.  Big remembered me saying that the story had stopped being about the titular hatchling and was now about two young people who fall in love, then lose that love, and that if that was what the story was about, then the ending was fine.  Finally, I decided just to write it, and if it felt like the end, the end it would be.

Well, I went ahead and wrote it, and I didn't know how I would end it--with dialogue, with a "they all lived happily ever after," with a kiss, or just with a look.  Turns out, it was with a couple of lines back and forth, and then . . . it only felt natural to type "the end."*

Big Anklevich told me how it felt to finish his second novel for the year this week.  The way he described it is how I feel when the prettiest girl in the room/town/world makes eye contact with me.  Of course, she always breaks the eye contact to look elsewhere, but I take what I can get.  Big asked me if I still get such a thrill from finishing my short stories.  Honestly, it's the same whether it's a story or a novel.  But like the end of a sweet vacation, there looms the frown-inducing knowledge that it all starts again tomorrow, and I'm basically back to one.

Sit-ups Today: 50
Sit-ups In August: 2859

This is also the first day that the writing was easier than the sit-ups.  After hiking for miles (and so strenuously), I got a leg cramp doing my sit-ups and had to stop.  I waited for the pain to subside, then I started up the exercise again, and my leg cramp came back, along with a smaller one in my other leg.  I took that for a sign and quit for the night.  Then I found I couldn't stand up because my leg hurt so much.  I think it's just overworking the leg muscles, but I can't say for sure.  We'll see if I'm good as new tomorrow.

Words Today: 1019
Words In August: 15,845

*I don't know why I refuse to capitalize those two words, but it has become something personal to me, to have lower case "the end" as the final bit of each story.  Then I'll usually write "A Word About The Story," and do a little author's note.  I've done it so many times that I'd hate to depart from that, even for novelty's sake.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

August Sweeps - Day 197


Another day, another zero words.

I don't know how a real writer does it, facing the reset word counter (ie, the blank screen) day in and day out.  Except of course, a real writer has the promise of owning their own home waiting on the horizon.  

Big Anklevich finished another novel yesterday ("The Gauntlet"), which makes his second for the year.  I don't know if I would feel better about all this if I had finished two novels this year (instead of just one*), but I have to pretend that it's not a competition between us, but I'm only competing against myself.  And I've easily doubled the amount of words written in a year already, and it's only mid-August.  Still, if I never publish any of it, it's not as much of an achievement, is it?  Kind of like when they say "Pics or it didn't happen" on the internet.

I guess I'll just publish "Three-Time Visitor" with a temporary cover again, and maybe Gino will help me with a better one down the line.  I need to just do that with everything: publish it with an imperfect--or even crappy--cover, and upgrade when I can (or want to).  Then I'll go on to the next project.  Perhaps then I'll feel a modicum of solace.

Yeah, I nearly said "quantum of solace," but you know, that phrase makes just as little sense today as it did ten years ago.

I had to reboot my desktop computer the other day (I should've thrown it against the wall years ago, but I use it too much), and when MS Word restarted, it hadn't saved the work-in-progress I had on there, even though it always does, even garbage I thought I'd deleted months ago.  It's stuff like that that mires down the creative process even more than it usually is, boys and girls.

I told Big that I could probably finish "Hatchling" today if I wanted to, and we'd both have a book done (although mine is about 32,000 words, instead of the requisite 40,000 to be considered a novel by the Hugos).  But I'm much less focused on length than most people (and I'd have to be).

Which reminds me, I'm getting closer to done with Patrick Rothfuss's "Wise Man's Fear," and I keep noticing long meandering parts that feel like they should've been trimmed but weren't.  I guess there are people who underwrite then fill in (like me, though I need to learn to do it better) and those who overwrite then cut down (which I guess is preferred).  I am well aware that I'll never write a hundred thousand word novel (Big's is at 120,485, to be exact), but like Fred Savage said, "I don't mind so much."

I'm now at the park--the same park where I saw my first post-pandemic wedding months ago.  And to my surprise, there's one going on right across the way right now.  The bride is in white, getting her picture taken, the groom is standing by the duck pond, looking bored, and there are two photographers milling about.  You know, I think this is just the wedding photos, not the wedding itself, but it amuses me that it's being done beside what my nephews and I refer to as "the dirty pond."  It's a filthy brown pond filled with ducks, duck poop, feathers, and various trash fish.  

In my idea this week for a Natalie-centric "Dead & Breakfast" story, she goes off to do a photoshoot for some bridal magazine, and gets made up, her hair done, holds thousand dollar flower arrangements, and a dress that costs more, and is swept up in the magic of it all.  It's probably a pretty dumb idea for a story, but I'm reminded of two things: 1) it was Cary Grant who said, "If I don't at least fall in love a little bit with my co-star, then I'm not doing my job," and 2) I worked on a pilot that never went anywhere, where a pretty blonde girl sat next to me for three hours, and even though I didn't even get her name, it was one of the most enjoyable days doing extra work that I experienced.

My priority, as soon as I finish "Hatchling" (which honestly, could've been today, if I'd let the damn kids stay a little longer), should be to finish the long D&B story, but I am tempted to write this shorter one, just to see what Natalie's heartache would feel like.  We'll see.

My cousin came over to see JURASSIC PARK with me tonight.  The local theater (which was going to open in mid-July and show MAD MAX: FURY ROAD) finally opened yesterday.  And they're doing that half-price thing, which will encourage me to go see more movies.  

It was cool to see JP on the big screen again (it had been about twenty years, and I never got to see it when it was new), and you tend to notice things when you're in the theater that you don't notice on video (for example, the scene where Sam Neill sits down on the grass after seeing his first dinosaur was obviously not the first take, as he had grass stains on the seat of his pants already, something I'd never spied before).  I enjoyed trying to figure out which shots used the animatronic dinosaurs and which shots were CG, since most of them are done so well it's hard to tell.  It made me want to see the other Jurassic films as well, even the bad one.

This was the first time I'd seen JP since reading the book last year, and I was surprised that they left in the scene where Hammond and Arnold talk about "the lysine contingency," because it goes absolutely nowhere in the film.  Its a holdover from the book, I guess, but it's a few lines that really could've been trimmed, unless there's some logical reason--a sequel setup?--Spielberg left it in.  If you remember that bit from the movie, you might enjoy this photograph I just took:

I got in my sit-ups and did my run after the movie, and I gotta say, if it weren't for the music I listen to while running, I think I might have stopped long ago.  I have the mix on Random, and sometimes something like King's Love & Pride will start playing, and I'll actually say, "Oh, that's a good one" aloud, then start running just a little harder.  

If only there was a song mix for writing.

Anyway, Sit-ups Today: 150
Sit-ups In August: 2809

I was happy to not have to write after going out, so I did a little bit of recording.  That gained me an extra 170 words, so I'll not complain.

Words Today: 1158
Words In August: 14,826

Oh heck, I might still complain.

*Although, now that I mention it, I'm not sure what novel I would've finished in 2020.  As far as I know, "Only Have Eyes For You" is my only novel-length achievement this year . . . and I never finished it.