Wednesday, September 30, 2020

September Sweeps - Day 242

The last day of the month.  I haven't gotten any writing done today, nor any exercise, although I gathered some logs for the fire as the sun was going down and stacked them, and that should count (but it doesn't).

I got to the cabin and it was pleasant and warm.  The leaves are a darker yellow than they were last week (some orange), and a lot more of them have fallen.  When I came inside, the first thing I noticed was that there were flies inside the windows, lots and lots of flies.  There's one side of the cabin that faced the sun at that time (it was late afternoon), and it was like that scene with the priest in THE AMITYVILLE HORROR on that window.  It was against the door that I found the most of them, and I could easily have just opened the door and let them go outside, but I made it a point to grab the flyswatter and not rest until I had killed at least ten.  I think I gave up at fifteen.  

Even now, I can hear some buzzing around the windowpanes.  They don't live very long, I've been told, and the shelf under each of the windows is littered with dead flies, or some that are in the process of dying on their own.  I really ought to clean all that up for whoever will be coming up here next . . . oh yeah, that's only me.  

Well, maybe I won't.

A couple odd things happened to me today.  One was that I missed a sunset.  I drove over to the lake to do a song, like I do every Wednesday, and when I got there, the sun had already set.  Every other time I've done this (around nine o'clock in July, now around seven), the sun has just been sinking on the horizon, giving me a countdown to action.  But tonight, I had missed it, and there was no beautiful orange and pink sky, like I've seen every visit to the lake that I can remember.  

I started a take of the song, screwed it up, and quickly started again, worried the full-on dark would soon be on me.  I sometimes hear an inner voice that asks me, "Rish, why do you insist on doing these damned songs every week?  Have you learned nothing from sleeping alone these many years?"  But I do what I do, and I'm not going to apologize for the things that give me pleasure.  Nobody's forcing you to watch them.

The other weird thing of the day is, I was reading a Jason Sanford story just now while I was cooking some rice, and found myself nodding off.  It's only eight pm, and I was falling asleep.  That doesn't tend to happen to me.  I suppose I should do some sit-ups, huh, get my blood pumping?

Sit-ups Today: 100
Sit-ups In September: 4433 (oh, why didn't I manage just eleven more?)

Push-ups Today: 52
Push-ups In September: 1202

Well, I did force myself to do my sit-ups and my push-ups (holy moley, will they always be this hard?), and that did wake me up a little.  So I then sat down and started writing on my cryptid story again--the one with the deadline in two days.  It flowed so easily, like I was that author my mom had shared the article about, the one who got accused of inappropriate hugging at a fan convention.  Wouldn't that be nice?

This is a pretty dark story, I think, and if I wanted to, I could knuckle down and make myself finish it tonight, two days ahead of schedule.  It would be easy.  But instead (or maybe, in addition to, if I stay motivated), I started thinking about the third Lara and the Witch book, and just how dark I would dare let it go.  The first one I defined as a YA story, even though it had some kind of sexual torture element to it (of course, all YA books do, don't they?).  The second one went even darker, with the way it ends and everything.  

But tonight, I thought I'd have the third book culminate in Lara, happier than you or I have ever been, running into the boy who took her virginity and broke her heart at the start of the book . . . and Holcomb has done something to him, something so horrible I've wasted ten minutes trying to think of what it could be.  This boy cast Lara aside after he got what he wanted from her, but her "mother" decided that could not stand, and boy howdy, did she teach this guy a lesson.  Lara sees the squalid misery this dumb, horny teenager now lives in, and she is reminded--for the first time in God knows how long--that Old Widow Holcomb is an evil person.  And then she starts to question everything that's made her so happy in her life, leading to the big confrontation with the witch at the end of the book.  

Gosh, if only I am talented enough to write it well, that would be a book worth reading.

Words Today: 1019
Words In September: 31,654
(which comes to more than a thousand words a day, and I'm absolutely fine with that)

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

September Sweeps - Day 241

So, I finally heard back from Audible about the second Lara and the Witch piece ("You're In Good Hands").  They rejected it, which shouldn't really surprise me.  What does is that I submitted it in April, and they got back to me on it the last week in September.  That's unconscionable, and the rejection is only the rotten cherry on top of the diarrhea sundae.  I think I could fix the two little things they complained about in an hour or so, except I just don't care anymore.  I finished that audiobook months ago, and would rather not throw more time at it.

Of course, I've got an episode of the Rish Outcast promoting it just ready to to go, and if I can get them to approve the file soon, it could drop right after the next show.  I could show off my new Indiana Jones "Lost Episode" intro (meet the new intro, same as the old intro).  And the irony is, I'll probably make more money from the episode advertising "You're In Good Hands" than the audiobook itself.  Irony's funny that way.

Sit-ups Today: 166
Sit-ups In September: 4333

I'm going to the cabin for sure tomorrow, maybe I can muster the whatever-the-opposite-of-apathy-is to see if I can polish that turd one more time.  I'll let you know.*

As far as that goes, I really ought to get something published in audio, if only so it's out of my hands.  If someone wants to listen through my latest three hour project to find errors for me, I'll send it right over.

I went to my cousin's after it got dark, and we watched the newest episode of "Star Trek: Lower Decks." It's the animated tribute/parody, and the show has really grown on me.  I still like the main character least of the four (she very nearly made me quit the show halfway through the second episode), but I do laugh in every episode.  And I've started to believe that it's a series made by people who love Star Trek, rather than by people who hate it (which is a criticism that's been leveled at every piece of modern "Trek," from J.J. Abrams's movies to, especially, "Discovery").  

I guess I ought to wonder if people who listen to my Star Wars sketches (and stories) think I don't like Star Wars, but I don't really care what they think.  I've heard far too many people refer to the Prequels as "misunderstood genius" to give a steaming Bantha patty what any of the fans say.  

Push-ups Today: 52
Push-ups In September: 1150

I got together with Renee last night to record my sketch for the next "Delusions of Grandeur" show.  I was quite proud of it (hence actually getting Renee to do it with me, rather than shrugging it off like the two previous sketches I wrote).  However, it didn't seem all that funny to me as we were recording it, but that could just be my own neuroses talking.  

Also, I was displeased to discover that ten or eleven of my character's lines began with "Well," like I was an old Ronald Reagan impression.  I even vaguely remember taking out a couple of wells the last time I looked through it, so there would've been even more.

Hopefully, other people (all three listeners to "DoG") find it as funny as it was in my head.

After our recording, I spoke to Renee a little bit, and I'm simply in awe of her output as a professional narrator.  She told me she's starting on her 200th audiobook, either Monday night or Tuesday, and it was due at the end of the week.  That boggles my mind.  She seemed really interested in telling me about her experiences, so I told her I'd like to sit with her and do an episode where we talk about her process and what she's learned.  Maybe I'll write up a few questions to ask her, but she seems keen just to talk, so why not?

I type this at 3:25pm, and I've already got thirty words written today.  Would be nice if I didn't stop there.

Words Today: 923
Words In September: 30,635

*At the very least, it might inspire me to work on the third "Lara and the Witch" story, which is about a third done and is set a couple of years after the first two.

Monday, September 28, 2020

September Sweeps - Day 240


It’s Monday again and I ran over to the library after I got my work done. I wish I were more dedicated to my writing, because I would have finished my story—which I can’t come up with a better title than the (admittedly-idiotic) “Waffle Iron Man”—by now. Instead, I’m setting the goal of finishing it before October 2nd. Heck, I’ll give myself an extra day, just to be generous. Okay, I’m finishing that story by October 2nd.

That means I’ll have time to sit down, look it over, record it, edit it, and send a copy to Gino Moretto, so we can talk about it for my Halloween show. That’s cutting it crazy short, but I had initially planned to simply record it DURING my episode with Gino, which saves time, sure, but would keep that poor guy on the phone for three hours. And they just barely got landlines in Hobbiton.

Then I have to edit the episode and get it out by Halloween, which is going to be tough, but something I can do, providing I finish writing the story this week.

I had planned on getting together (via phone) with Renee Chambliss this weekend to record the Star Wars sketch I wrote for the next “Delusions of Grandeur,” but I was frankly too lazy. I didn’t get back to her about when we could record until yesterday, and then I ended up working until midnight or so last night, and still had to run and do sit-ups and write. So, we’ll see what I manage this week.

Sit-ups Today: 150
Sit-ups In September: 4167

Push-ups Today: 51
Push-ups In September: 1098

I went to the library, and pounded furiously on the keyboard (okay, I typed normally, but I just love the use “furiously,” especially when people relate it to exercise or masturbation, because I always equate the word “furious” with being angry. I had taken a single paragraph from my outline (only ninety-nine words, I counted) and wrote it out as prose, which somehow became 1563 words (I counted those too).

Can you believe that?

For fun, I grabbed my original outline and did a word count on it. Including the lyrics to the Siren Head song (which all has to go anyway), it was 832 words. If my math is correct, judging by the ratio of today’s work, the final story should be 13,129 words long. I did that dumb math just to make a point of how silly writing is . . . but you know, thirteen thousand words sounds about right for this thing (a story that probably should have been three thousand or so, especially since it’s inspired by the kind of online stories that are 700-1000 words long).

Creativity is a funny, funny thing. And to think, if I had a girlfriend, I’d be zero words for the month (except for maybe poetry . . . ugh).

That makes me want to buckle down and get this sucker finished, see if I couldn’t bring it in under ten thousand words, maybe seven or eight. I think I’ll just cut to the ending in the next scene, and see where that takes me. I do complain about being a creative person—probably a lot more than I ought to—but when the writing happens this fast and furious (“Andy Jameson was in the back room, furiously spanking the monkey”), it’s a unique pleasure.

You understand, don’t you?

Words Today: 1624
Words In September: 29,712

Sunday, September 27, 2020

February Sweeps - Day 239

Shoot, this was the day I was going to drop that audio recording from Thursday.  But it didn't happen.  Whoops.*

I would love (though that's a bald-faced lie) to meet somebody who actually accomplishes everything they set out to do each day or week, just to ask how they make it happen, and how it feels when they actually do it.  Except that I hate people like that--they seem to understand that they're special, that they have more stamina or self-control or brains or motivation or cojones than other people, and that they kick open doors that are forever barred for people like us.  And who needs it?

Sit-ups Today: 100
Sit-ups In September: 4017

Push-ups Today: 50
Push-ups In September: 1047

Well, it's 1:10am and I'm sitting down to write.  Wish me luck.

Words Today: 560
Words In September: 28,088

*I ended up finally putting it out on the eighth of October.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

September Sweeps - Day 238

You'll hear about people who never give up, who go on, year after year, in pursuit of their dreams (one guy on Facebook will post his weekly progress of stories he submitted to various outlets, constantly making me feel even more under-endowed).  I wonder how they do it.  Is it faith?  Is it some kind of internal resolve they possess that I do not?  Are they just better people?

Well, eff it, I'm not comparing myself to them.  I'll keep doing this for as long as I can, and when I stop, it'll be with pride and a sense of accomplishment, rather than despair and a feeling of failure.

Sit-ups Today: 111
Sit-ups In September: 3917

Push-ups Today: 49
Push-ups In September: 997

I hit the library this afternoon, and wrote until they made their announcement that the place was closing in ten minutes.  Our city has gone from Level 3 (where you can walk around, doing what you want, as long as you wear a mask in businesses) to Level 2 (where you're supposed to stay away from other people, and wear a mask in businesses), and even though it seems to have changed nothing, stores are closing earlier, and the people who refuse to wear masks are really just the super dickish ones.

One day, we'll look back on this year (and whatever comes next) and feel shame for how we handled ourselves and our country.  Except for those who won't.  If the last four years has taught us anything, it's that people can justify absolutely any loathsome behavior in themselves, and still walk around feeling superior to those around them.  I often feel sad that I have no children to mourn me when I'm gone, but since those children won't have to participate in a second Civil War, I suppose I should count my blessings.

At the library, I really got into the story, writing until they closed (well, I saved, emailed myself the file, and exited five minutes before the cutoff, because I didn't want to lose anything if they shut down our computers early . . . again).  It has been super fun, and if I get it out as my Halloween episode, it will eclipse "Todd, Jenny, and the Ugly Doll" as the fastest turnaround between writing a story and getting it podcasted.  Of course, I'm setting myself up to fail, just as I did for my Valentine's Day show, by having a deadline in place that is unrealistic (especially considering I'm only halfway done with the first draft).

Wish me luck.

Words Today: 1784
Words In September: 27,528

Friday, September 25, 2020

September Sweeps - Day 237

Dang, there were two things I wanted to relate to you in yesterday's blog post, but I was too tired to get to them.  Well, I'll share one tonight, and another in a couple of days (it includes an audio portion).

So, time travel is real, apparently.

So, I knew I was close to finishing the book I got from the library, but I didn't have time to head over there and grab a second one (I have one I keep in my suitcase, in case of "emergencies," but I've never cracked it), so I looked at the big stack of David Gemmell books I bought recently (when it seemed like we were going on lockdown a few months back), and decided to grab one at random.  The cover was not familiar, nor was the title, but I read the description on the back just in case.  Didn't ring a bell.

After I finished my library book, I grabbed the paperback and sat down to read it.  I read the Introduction, which seemed familiar, but hey, a lot of Gemmell's books take place in a medieval age in nations that no longer exist.  Then I went on to the first chapter.  Halfway down the page, I was suddenly transported to a film set just a few years ago, where I was an extra.  We were shooting in a tourist attraction made up to look like pioneer days, and I was playing a settler in the 1840s (they had requested men with beards, and then asked us with beards for volunteers to shave their facial hair into an Abraham Lincoln/Brigham Young style...and I was literally the only one to volunteer).

Even though it was September 2020, I found myself sitting on the stairs of one of the museum buildings, reading a book, waiting for the cameras to turn around and them to need me . . . and it was this book.  I could see my clothes, see the people around me, and then, I was back at the cabin, realizing I had indeed read that book, not so long ago. 

Amazing, that.

(this may be my last extant picture from that day)

Sit-ups Today: 111
Sit-ups In September: 3806

Push-ups Today: 48
Push-ups In September: 948

I got asked to narrate a story on StarShipSofa again this week.  I tried to record it, but fell asleep multiple times.  The whole reading should be about twenty-five minutes, but it took me thirty-eight to record the first half.  Editing it should be "fun."

Words Today: 940
Words In September: 25,744

Thursday, September 24, 2020

September Sweeps - Day 236

Nothing to say for today so far.  The sun is just barely up, having become visible a few minutes ago.  I woke up to "drain the vein," as Ann Landers put it, and laid back down just as the sun peeked over the hill, casting this super-bright yellow light that makes shadows so sharp you could prick your finger on them.  I'm not used to that light, because I'm not a morning guy, and I guess that will never change.

I wonder what else will never change.  It's one of those terrifying middle-of-the-night thoughts that come to you just as you're about to get some rest, designed to either motivate you to change, or plunge you into despair.

The neighbors must be here, because I can hear the buzzing of their generator, but the quality of sound is unusual here* so it could be from the next cabin over, or the next.  But the crazy/undead old woman up on the hill didn't show up until the end of the day, thank Buddha.

Sit-ups Today: 222
Sit-ups In September: 3695

Today's my sister's birthday, so I ought to send her a text (once I can), though I won't write it now.  I've found that sometimes I will write texts or emails here at the cabin, meaning to send them when I have a signal, only to find they've disappeared once I go to send them.  So there's a "valid" excuse to forget to wish my sister a happy birthday.

Push-ups Today: 47
Push-ups In September: 900

Big and I got together a couple of weeks back with Gino Moretto over a Skype call.  It was Father's Day in New Zealand, and his son had drawn him a picture of a monster called Siren Head.  I keep thinking about that and would like to do a Halloween Rish Outcast with Gino, where we talk about monsters in general, or that monster specifically.  I have ten minutes before my alarm goes off, maybe I could quickly write up something for that show.

I fell asleep twice today.  Once was on the couch, just stretching out to relax . . . then waking up over an hour later.  The other time was on the back deck, reading "Argo" by Tony Mendez...and I dozed off, for what I thought was thirty seconds (or maybe two minutes), but had to be longer, because now that I'm home, my skin is good and pink where I got sunburned.  Cute?  No, not really.

I did write the first scene for the monster story, and then sketched out where it should go from there.  That is the way, as they say in "The Mandalorian."  If you've read a lot of my writing, it must be tiresome to you, because I was delighted to come up with a song the children in the neighborhood sing about "Siren Head, Siren Head, Do not forget or you'll be dead..."  I love to write songs, jingles, or hymns in my stories, making the eventual audio recording a joyous occasion.

Every writer has his/her little indulgences (I remember Dean Koontz would go on and on about the kind of trees and bushes in every location he described, Big Anklevich would make sure to insert a reference to the NFL in each of his stories, and Orson Scott Card would do his best to point out how much smarter his main character was than the people around him/her), and I have mine too.  Among them: a character misunderstands what a word or idiom means, someone laughs at something that is not funny or does not laugh at something that is, a town or community has a strange belief or myth or tradition, a character pees or soils him/herself, and the use of the name Bice, Tobler, Shinooginah, Bice, Flickinger, Butikofer, Choner, Bice, and in 2020, variants of the same damned girl's name.

Oh, and Bice.

However, as I was writing it, I thought that maybe it shouldn't be Siren Head, but should be a made up creature, because I don't own Siren Head (and I'd hear you if you said, "But Rish, nobody owns Siren Head.  He's an internet creepypasta."  That's a fine point, but read on).  Also, I wrote the creator of Siren Head into the story, and I think it's safer to just make up an alternate, original monster and creator.  

I mentioned it to Gino, and he agreed.  We kicked around a few possible creature names, and narrowed it down to Vagina Face Man.  I'm looking forward to getting this story done, and out there soon.**

Words Today: 633
Words In September: 24,804

*A couple of times last evening, I heard booming rifle shots that echoed off the surrounding hills, and those could have been coming from just over the ridge, or miles away.  I heard another one this morning, and wondered who would be shooting a firearm at 8:16am.  I also called them bastards.

**His name isn't really Vagina Face Man.  Though that would be fun to shorten to 'Ginaman, which rhymes with another offensive word, so all the better.

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

So, the second half of one of my 2020 Resolutions is now out there.  On the "Star Wars: Delusions of Grandeur" podcast I do with Marshal Latham, you can check out the rest of "Star Wars Sequel," the revised first draft Leigh Brackett wrote for Lucasfilm in 1978.  

It has tons of differences and similarities to THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, and I voice all the parts, which may or may not be entertaining.  Regardless, it's a fascinating artifact of how we got the 1980 film, which remains the greatest sequel of all time (GODFATHER II be damned).

Feel free to go HERE to listen or download.

Otherwise, I fear your Tauntaun will freeze before you reach the first marker.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

September Sweeps - Day 235

Well, I changed my mind.  Not exactly at the last minute--I told my mom on Monday that there was probably a 20% chance I'd go to the cabin today--but pretty close to it.  My nephews were up early today, being noisy, and despite my very late night last night, whenever I drink one of those energy drinks, I wake up extra early the next morning, and today was no exception.

So, I tried to get my work done, and . . .  it was all finished by eleven or so.  So, I decided to throw a couple of things in the car and drive to the cabin again.  After all, I have to start on a new story today (or finish an old one), and it's good to have the time to focus.

The leaves are almost all yellow today, and several are falling as I watch (let me record a bit of video for you).  Of course, the wind stopped the second I started my camera, but ah well.

Super quiet here, although I did see another person, and he arrived about five minutes after I did, when I had parked my car and walked down by the water to see if there were still fish in it (there were), and gone back to the car to drive through the gate.  Well, you have to have a code or a passcard to get through the gate, and a big white truck pulled up to the gate literally four seconds before I did, so I just waited for the guy to drive through, and I would follow . . .

. . . but the gate opened, the truck pulled through, and then stopped.  He stopped so I wouldn't be able to drive through as well.  I honestly have never seen this before.  It's like something out of a movie, like when Eddie Murphy would wait until the green light turned red again before going through the intersection so the trailing cops couldn't make it through behind him.

I rolled down my window, produced my passcard, and swiped it on the sensor, waving so the asshole could see it.  It would have served the guy right if the gate had swung shut on him, scratching up his paintjob on both sides.  But what's done is done, and I really ought to put it out of my mind.  This is a place of relaxation and creativity, after all, so I should get to it.

After a nap, of course.

Sit-ups Today: 200
Sit-ups In September: 3473

Push-ups Today: 46
Push-ups In September: 853

I got a bit of editing done (on the last chapter of my audiobook--I'll have to ask somebody to listen to it, to catch all the errors), finished the Harlan Coben book (it was very enjoyable and I wish I'd read it in two weeks instead of a month, because the names would've been easier to keep straight and the emotional punch at the end would've been greater, had I kept it fresher in my mind), and around sixty-thirty I went out to the lake, as is my tradition to mangle a pop song.

I chose to tackle the Adele song I tried at the very start of this thing, having only taught myself the second verse and chorus.  Last week--and I meant to talk about this, because it was amusing--I printed out the lyrics and brought them here so I could practice it.*  Well, Adele's voice is at a much higher register than I am capable of, so to actually sing along with her, I have to work as hard as the darn daily push-ups (or harder).  And I can only keep that up for two songs, maybe only one, because I start to cough, before my voice gives out (again, like the push-ups).

So I turned off the song and decided to try it by myself, just a little lower.  And it was working fine, until the second chorus, where I really have to belt it out.  The windows were all closed (still are--I don't suppose they'll open again this year), but my voice apparently carried, because at the cabin next door, the family of deer that sleep in the shade under their deck suddenly went running out and down the hill, doing that graceful-yet-comical bouncing thing that mule deer do.  They headed for the hills just as they would have if I'd taken a shot at them with my brother's rifle.

"Everybody's a critic," I was clever enough to remark to no one at all.

So, today, I strived to get the lyrics for the bridge and first verse down, and then drove out to the lake and marched all the way around it, where there were some trees with entirely yellow leaves I thought would be a nice backdrop** and that's where I did my song.  I screwed it up once--just in the second line, thank Bossk--and had to start over, but made it through all the way, and didn't think it sounded too terrible (except for that one high bit on the bridge, and by that point, I just laughed and kept on going, because I do these for me, not for some kind of perfect public performance).  Truth be told, when I edit these suckers, I'm consistently shocked by how I always get at least one lyric wrong.  I could go up and do an entirely lyric-less song, and still screw it up somehow. 

There were two fishermen in a boat out on the lake, which I assume is the same boat I see out there every Wednesday, but I think I had gone far enough away so as not to bother them.  Okay, that's blinkardly na├»ve--the way sound carries here, they heard me for sure.  Probably scared off all the fish too.

Words Today: 2 (not sure how that's possible, but there's only two written here)

Six months ago, when Big was still struggling with the daily writing (he's done now, have I mentioned that?  He got to 300,000 words, and now he's reading and exercising instead of writing every day, and that takes up the same amount of time or more), he'd occasionally lament the days when he didn't write until right before bed, and then it was like getting blood out of a turnip for him to reach his word goal.

That was today for me.  I recognized that I hadn't written, and chalked it up to having to start a new project (with none in mind), but once my body was tired and I couldn't concentrate on the movie I'd been watching (THE MAN FROM LA MANCHA), I worried that this was it, that even if I'd written two words today (technically just changing a sentence on the story I just finished), it was possible my daily writing marathon had come to a close.

But I'm better than that, dammit.  I have dragged my flabby, grotesque body out of bed at night to go in the living room and do sit-ups or push-ups before, and I could do that again with writing.

I grabbed the file from August where I'd been writing the Lara Demming In Love story, and continued it from where I'd left off.  It has only been three weeks, and I couldn't remember where it was supposed to go (she casts a spell of happiness, hoping to make everyone feel what she feels . . . and how could that possibly go wrong?).  In the absolute nadir of my writing career, I had half of her bus to school sing "Happy" by Pharrell, because I couldn't think of a newer (or better) song that a bunch of Gen Zs would all know (originally, I had wanted to to be something from the Eighties, or Sixties Motown . . . because those are better songs, and it is magic, after all). 

I'm sure I was inspired/ripping off that great scene in ALMOST FAMOUS, where everybody on the bus knows "Tiny Dancer," and was my own introduction to that song, and I wanted it to be a song from my youth (when I was in high school, we went on a bus trip north, and a bunch of the girls in my class were singing . . . shoot, I forget now.  It was a Wilson Phillips song, but not one of the ones I knew from the radio, and I thought it was remarkable, and literally think about those girls on the bus every time I hear the song (was it "You're In Love?"--"You're in love, that's the way, it should be, because I want you to be happy; you're in love, and I know, that you're not in love with me.  But it's enough for me to know that you're in love, now I'll let you go...")

It might have been five years ago that this happened.  Or thirty, going by the calendar.

I wanted them to sing a more classic song, but a teen wouldn't know a song from my youth.  Invented studies show that only one out of twelve Gen Zers know "Hey Jude," but fourteen out of twelve know that execrable Doja Cat song made famous on Tik Tok.***

I wrote a little bit after that, but I was not inspired, and I kept closing my eyes, just to rest them (I'd been doing intricate work involving cellular anti-mitosis under a microscope all day, after all), and finally quit once I'd reached four hundred or so words.  Not good, I know, but tomorrow I will think more of a new project, or buckle down and finish one of my old ones.

Words Today: 567
Words In September: 24,171

*Indeed, despite evidence to the contrary, I do practice my Storage Unit Serenades before I record them.  Sigh.

**Yeah, I recognize the folly of going to a lake around sunset, where the pretty light is reflected by the pretty water . . . and then pointing my camera AWAY from it, but I've done this a dozen times, and I like to switch it up.

***Man, I hate Tik Tok.  Earlier this year, I wrote a sketch intended for me and Renee Chambliss to perform, about a married couple who discover their teenage daughter's Tik Tok account, and are horrified.  I thought it would be funny . . . but it ended up being sad instead.  Too much reality there (and I'm too empathetic to make fun of a couple seeing their thirteen year old daughter shake her arse for the delight of strangers everywhere).  However, there was one bit of the script that I did still find funny, and that was that Dad is worried that all his male coworkers will see footage of his little girl in a thong or humping the air, and then Mom is all disgusted that adult men would go on Tik Tok to see underage girls gyrate and lip-synch songs about orgies and bodily fluids.  Maybe I could focus on that bit, with the wife getting increasingly upset about what men find entertaining, and salvage something from that sketch.  We'll see.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

September Sweeps - Day 234

Nothing today so far.  Not a sausage.

I had work to do, only some of which I finished, but I'm not currently planning to go to the cabin tomorrow, so I'll have plenty of time to get caught up.  Also, I keep thinking of bugging Renee to record with me, but I only think about it when it's too late or on a day that's impossible.  Thing is, she'd probably drop everything and give me an hour or so, any day I asked her to, but I just don't want to be That Guy.

You know what I mean?

Sit-ups Today: 200
Sit-ups Total: 3273

Push-ups Today: 45
Push-ups In September: 807

I know I say this every week, but Tuesdays are when I go up to my cousin's and watch "Star Trek" or "Seinfeld" or a movie with him.  A lot of times I am tired and fall asleep during something, after which he always asks, "Do you sleep, Chima?"  Sometimes I say, "Nope," but usually I have to admit that I did.  Then he will tell me it's time to go home.  In anticipation of this, I've been drinking energy drinks on Tuesday afternoons or evenings, and that usually does the trick, but this week I had forgotten, and didn't get one in me until about ten-fifteen or ten-thirty.

What that meant was that I fell asleep early on, but once the caffeine hit, I became wide awake, insisting we re-watch the "Seinfeld" bits I had slept through, and going on to another episode after that.  Then I wanted to chat with him, despite him wanting to go to bed (it was past two by this point).  Then I drove home, but not sleepily, not having to play Only Nines and Tens.

When I got home, I got a little bit of work done, and, still not tired, decided to pound out a few more words, just so it wasn't as pathetic as the day before.  To my surprise, I stayed up writing until I reached "the end."  I finished another story, and it only took me until four-thirty or so to do it.

Not bad . . . until tomorrow.

Words Today: 1305
Words In September: 23,604

Rish Outcast 179: The Case of the Missing Turtle

 Inspired by true events!

So, this is the mini-sequel to my story "Lost & Found," presented on the Outcast HERE and HERE.

It was also the subject of a That Gets My Goat episode where Big and I talked about (and to) Orson Scott Card HERE.

To download the show, simply Right-Click HERE.

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

Logo by Gino "Case of the Missing Kiwi" Moretto.

Monday, September 21, 2020

September Sweeps - Day 233

Today is Monday, and I usually work quite a bit those days.

But now it's 6:05, and I have no excuses.  I haven't written or exercised, and I may not even have farted today.  Scary, isn't it?

Yesterday I complained (as I always do) about one day needing to do cover art for my next audiobook.

Well, I went ahead and did a little mock-up cover for "My Friend," which I recognize is not great, but is what I've got in mind.  If I could figure out a way to do it, I might do an E.T. parody, where a child's hand is reaching for the closet, and a boogeyman hand is reaching for the hand.  You know what I mean?

Sit-ups Today: 150
Sit-ups In September: 3073

Push-ups Today: 44
Push-ups In September: 762

I left my writing to the end of the day, as--well, not as usual, but as is often the case.  The story should have been finished by now (in February, I'd have had it done in a week), but I'm at the three-quarters mark, so I'm not too badly off.  I was typing up a bit where there's an argument as to whether the Devil (with a capital D) is real or not.  I thought it would be a fun exercise to see if I could have the discussion without using that particular D-word.  When I got through with that bit, I dropped my words into WordCounter to see how I was doing.

And holy pee, I was at 666 words exactly.*

I thought that was a big enough deal that, even though I had planned to move on, I decided to quit for the day, and do my push-ups instead, which I often--but not always--leave till the very last thing.

A more superstitious person would probably write another sentence, just to take the curse off of it, but I'm a sucker for repeating numbers.

Words Today: 666
Words In September: 22,299

*This is 100% true.  Just DO NOT tell my Uncle Len.

Storage Unit Serenade 29


This is a song I had never heard before this year.  It may have been successful back in--oh hey, my first song from the 2000s!


Pre-Eighties Songs: 8
Eighties Songs: 8
Nineties Songs: 7
Aughts Songs: 1
Teens Songs: 5

Sunday, September 20, 2020

September Sweeps - Day 232

So, today I sat down and started work on my next audiobook.  I had the choice between doing the Ben Parks short story ("A Sidekick's Errand" (2020), the longer Ben Parks book ("A Sidekick To Miracles" (2018?), or the almost-novel "My Friend of Misery" (2019).  I chose the latter, for no reason other than I felt like it.

And wow, is it slow-going.  I got the first three "chapters" recorded (I put chapters in quotation marks because they really aren't chapters so much as bits where I jump ahead in time, but because this one is so long, I put numbers instead of three asterisks), but went over the writing, line by line, and added or changed something in nearly every paragraph.  It ate up all my recording time, just getting the first bit down, and I really do fear for the rest of the book.  

At this rate, I won't have to worry about cover art until December or so.

Sit-ups Today: 111
Sit-ups In September: 2923

Push-ups Today: 43
Push-ups In September: 718

I did run out and grab the kayak, inflated it, and drove out to the lake, just to get it in.  There was a big sign at the entrance that said "Lake Closed," and there were no employees at the gate.  I should have turned around right then and there, but I had spent so long getting the raft ready (you have to inflate several parts of it, assemble the oars, blow up and install the seat, and somehow fit it into the bed of the truck, and that always takes way longer than I think it will), that I was unwilling to go home.  Instead, I drove in--one lane was still open, and drove around, looking to see what was going on.

I suspect that a film production had been shooting there earlier in the day, because there were signs that said, "Film crew vehicles must have permit visible," even though I saw nobody now.  In fact, the only people I saw out there were Mexicans who were fishing on the marshy side of the lake (as opposed to the marina where boaters and rafters congregate).

I was determined, so I parked, yanked out my kayak, and somehow dragged it down the rocks to the water below.  There was literally no one else out on the water (that should have warned me that there were sea monsters out that day, the rapey kind from HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP, but no, I ignored all the clues), so I rowed out a few yards and tried to record a song before the sun went down.  

The wind was blowing pretty hard, and I found that as soon as I stopped rowing, I'd be pushed back toward the shore.  So that made it a challenge to a) hold the phone steady, b) stay in one place, and c) remember the words.  Guess you'll see too, in November or so when I get to it.

I enjoy the feeling of rowing and moving like a knife through the water.  I'm not very strong, but it seems like it would be fun to be on one of those Ivy League rowing team things from the movies.

Nobody yelled at me or told me to get out of the water or called the police on me, so I suspect whatever had been going on during the day was over, but it was still strange to have the marina to myself.  I don't suppose I'll ever know what was going on there.

Before the wind took me back, I recorded a bit of that pink sunset the wildfires are to thank for.

And that was about it.  I had to do my Sunday night work, then my exercise, my run, change my clothes, and then write a little bit more.  I thought I had reached a thousand words before I finally fell asleep.  My math was off, but I slept fine anyhow.

Words Today: 996
Words In September:21,633

Saturday, September 19, 2020

September Sweeps - Day 231

I'm not sure where today went.  I guess I had catch-up work to do, then I ran over to the grocery store with my mom, and afterward hit the library before I had to go south for my nephew's tenth birthday party.  I wrote about a thousand words on the story today--the one that *has* to be good--and I gotta say: it just isn't.

There may be irony there, I don't know.  

The thing is, I'm still going to write it out to the end, and if it sucks, we'll it'll make for an interesting Patreon address where I have to explain to my supporters what I did with my One Big Chance.  I'll have a devil of a time living down this failure, if it turns out to be a failure . . . but at least I finished another story.

Sit-ups Today: 150
Sit-ups In September: 2812

Push-ups Today: 42
Push-ups In September: 675

The sit-ups things never don't suck.  I usually do fine for the first twenty or so, but after that, it becomes a okay-today's-the-day-I'm-gonna-quit-doing-these-right kind of thing.  My uncle would tell me that it's not that I'm doing too many, it's that I'm not doing them often enough.  I imagine.  If I asked him, he'd probably just show me how many he can do.

It was my nephew's birthday party this afternoon.  He had it at his grandpa's farm again, and I stupidly hoped that pretty college girl would be there again today.  She was not, since she's not also ten (they all went there last weekend to celebrate the grandfather's eighty-sixth birthday, and I didn't go . . . but I bet she was there then).  The kids had fun running around and screaming and seeing the animals.  I spent a good twenty minutes pulling up vegetation and feeding it to horses, big and small.

I've talked about my brother-in-law's farm before, but I'm sure I never mentioned that my grandparents lived in the next town over, and used to take me to the same farm when I was a little boy, pre-kindergarten.  I only vaguely remember that, and even then, after my mom told me this was the same place.

There are no neighbors, and there's something like time travel there, even though they recently installed a cellphone tower in the town, so you can call and text, despite it looking like Hoover is President when you look outside.

We didn't spend a lot of time there, because my mom was eager to get going (my uncle brought his children too, and I could tell he wanted to take off just as soon, but wasn't able because his monsters were enjoying themselves too much.  

Afterward, my mom and I drove past what used to be our house (we sold it about a year ago exactly), and it looked exactly the same as it had for these many years, except there was a black hose out in front instead of a green one, as God intended.  It was strange to drive past it and know that some other family was living there, but it hasn't really felt like home for a long, long time.*

We left town, and drove through the city where my cousin lives.  The sunset was super orange and creepy tonight, beautiful but also indicative of what our air is full of.  I was driving, but saw it in my rear view mirror and had to snap a picture (I pulled the car over first).  It turned out pretty good.

I did intend to record tonight, and set the microphone up and everything . . . but then I forgot about it for a few minutes, and when I remembered again, it was after one am, and I knew it just wouldn't be worth trying (my performances are always either mediocre or downright unusable when I'm struggling with falling asleep).  I'd apologize, if I thought that it would make a difference, or make you listen.

Words Today: 1050
Words In September: 20,637

A lot of people say that Facebook is bad, and I know a bunch of people who have deleted their accounts.  I quite enjoy Facebook, and waste a few minutes on it nearly every single day.  However, amid all the ads, identity mining, and political diatribes, there has been something negative lately with Facebook, namely people uploading pictures of cats.

It's really damaging to young people, and it has to stop.

In order to combat this epidemic, just a little, I posted this today:

We all do our part, no matter how small.


*It was a couple of years ago, when I'd have to drive down every Tuesday to mow the lawns, that I came up with the Ben Parks story I now call "A Sidekick's Errand."  I remember being so excited about it that I actually stopped the lawnmower and ran into the house so I could jot down the idea.  And here we are in 2020, and I finished that story just this year, in Plague Year 2020.  If only 2017 me could see me now.
HIM: What?  It took you three years to finish it?  A short story?
ME: It might have been four years.  I don't know if it was 2018 or 2016 that you got the idea.
HIM: Well, you got it done at least.  What did people think of it?
ME: Oh, I haven't shared it with anybody.
HIM: Some things never change.
ME: But I will.
HIM: I'll believe it when I see it.
ME: I'm trying, though.  That's the important thing.
HIM: I suppose so.  And what's this about Plague Year 2020?  Is that a joke?
ME: Yes.  Sort of.
HIM: Sort of?
ME: Exactly.  Just wear your mask, okay?
HIM: What the fu--

Friday, September 18, 2020

September Sweeps - Day 230

So, I went ahead, after writing my blog for yesterday, and put SAN ANDREAS back on.  My friend Mick, back in Los Angeles, loved disaster movies (especially the disaster movies of the Seventies), and he would tell me all about the ones he remembered, especially the bad ones.  And this movie made me want to give Mick a call and ask if he'd seen it, and how much he laughed throughout.  

I was surprised at how eye-bulgingly bad it all was, even by disaster movie standards.  I guess I stopped watching these things around the time of the dueling asteroid movies in 1998, but I don't remember them being this stupid (okay, except for ARMAGEDDON, which millions of folks frankly loved).  The Rock is actually pretty good, and a sizable chunk of the film is taken by highlighting Carla Gugino and Alexandra Daddario's cleavage, but yikes, I kept thinking I was watching one of those parody movies like they used to make, with "movie" in the title.*

I saw RAMPAGE a couple of years ago, in the theater for Bossk's sake, and about halfway through I realized it had become a really, really stupid movie.  But this one made RAMPAGE look above-average.  Just wanted to say that.

But here's the thing: it was still very, very enjoyable, even if the "oh, please" moments were in the double digits.  I'm glad I had you there with me to make fun of the movie with.

Sit-ups Today: 100
Sit-ups In September: 2662

I took my nephews to the park at the bottom of the hill this afternoon.  It's the one with the little, filthy pond, and I ostensibly did it so they could catch some minnows to feed to their frogs**, but also so I could open my laptop and write for a stretch, without any distractions.  I ended up doing pretty well, but the kids didn't manage to catch any minnows (I gotta wonder how hard they tried, because I caught two just randomly scooping a net into the murky brown water, and those were the only two we took home).  My nine year old nephew did manage to catch a duckling, though, and that was pretty neat.

He said he wanted to take it to his grandpa's house (to join the menagerie there, which includes geese, horses, cows, chickens, rabbits, dogs, macaws, goldfish, and an emu), but we worried that it would die (I don't know how ducks work), so he let it go.

Push-ups Today: 41
Push-ups In September: 633

I sat down tonight to start recording my next audio project (probably the novel I wrote last year--though the file wasn't novel-length, which either means it was NEVER a novel, or the file's incomplete), but all I managed was the author's note on the last project.  Instead, I went out on the couch and watched ANNIHILATION, the 2018 Sci-Fi movie with Natalie Portman.  It was alright.  I didn't really get it, but I was also super sleepy toward the end.

I wonder who the target audience for this movie was.  It starts out as a bit of a mystery, with a Sci-Fi twist, but becomes a super-freaky horror flick by the end, and had shockingly-graphic violence straight out of a Paul Verhoeven movie.

I liked the bit with the mutated bear that somehow screamed in the voice of their dead team member.  That was upsetting.

Words Today: 1070
Words In September: 19,587

*I'm sure this does not compare to one of those cinematic abortions, because I just remembered that they were all about saying, "You remember that part in another movie?  Yeah, we saw it too!" with no jokes, over and over.  And Paul Giamatti was good in this too.

**My twelve year old nephew told me today that the bullfrog I kept as a pet, having raised it from a tadpole, died today, and that he buried it in the garden.  That bummed me out a bit, but he's had it in his room for months now, so it already felt long gone to me.

Marshal and I Discuss HERCULES (2014)

Over on the Journey Into... page, Marshal Latham and I review the film HERCULES (2014), starring Dwayne Johnson, John Hurt, Ian McShane, and The Rock.  It's the show we do together, called "Outfield Excursions."  

So check it out HERE.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

September Sweeps - Day 229

I didn't accomplish all that much yesterday.  I come to the cabin for a number of reasons--but chief among them is supposed to be to write.  If I'm still doing this daily writing thing when winter comes, I'm going to have to take my laptop to the park and sit in the car, like I did when I first started in February.  

Or the library, of course.  I tend to be most productive in the library, because of the ticking clock (you used to be able to reserve a computer for two hours for free, and then have to pay to get more time--which I have done on a couple of super-dedicated occasions--but now, because of COVID, no one is allowed to used a computer for more than two hours.  I don't really understand it, except that they spray and wipe down each keyboard, desk, and mouse as soon as you're finished, so that might have something to do with it), and there's lack of distraction up there on the second floor.*

Up here, there's so much I can do: read books, go for walks, sing a damn song in front of a camera, narrate audio, edit audio, write stories, write blog posts, write sketches, listen to music, do sit-ups, read stories for possible Dunesteef episodes, go out on the deck and look up at the stars (I so rarely do this, even though the stars are beautiful, and I never tire of meteor showers...maybe it's just not a solitary activity), watch videos I brought from the library, exercise with milk barrels (yeah, it's stupid, but sometimes I will lift them like they're weights, because there's no one around to make fun of me for doing it), eat, clean, play video games, and sleep.

Those last two are sort of the opposite of what I'm out here to do, but there's probably never been a single visit to the cabin where I haven't fallen asleep, either out on the deck while reading, or on the couch.  There are two bedrooms here at the cabin with beds in them.  One is down in the cellar, and it is always cold and has no windows, so it is darker than a Joe Abercrombie sex fantasy, and I have never, ever slept in there.**  

The other is here on the main floor, with large windows facing south and west.  But someone (my sister, I suspect) has nailed thick blankets to the two windows, so that this room too is almost totally black, except at the edges where warm sunlight tries pathetically to get in.  I don't know why she's done this--the sun rises on the other side of the cabin, so there's never any chance of it waking somebody in there up the way it wakes me up on the couch.  It has occurred to me a time or two that, if I went in that room, and took a little nap on the bed, my nap could last for hours instead of ten to forty minutes . . . and that unnerves me.  I don't want to waste any more time on sleep than I have to.

Of course, I still do.  I am a lazy person, and the body does need sleep.  Today, I woke up to go to the bathroom and there was just a tiny bit of light in the horizon as the sun was approaching its rise over the mountains.  I went to the bathroom, and for a second, I thought about booting up the computer and starting my day, as I've done a few times out here, writing or editing or blogging while the world sleeps.  But instead, I went back to the couch, threw a blanket over my head, and was dead to the world. 

At least I woke up before my alarm went off.  That much hasn't changed, but I robbed myself of hours of productivity, and time I could work toward making myself proud of my accomplishments.  Someday, maybe.

So, last night, I watched FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY, and was stunned by how much I enjoyed it.  It's about a wrestling family in Norwich, England, and their daughter's struggles to make it into the WWE here in America.  My cousins were into wrestling when I was a kid, but I never was, and pretty much everything about it is what I most hate about masculinity in America , so I guess it took a film about a British girl to make me care about wrestling.

You bet, I cried.  

Florence Pugh is so good in everything I've ever seen her (all two movies, kids) that I'm reminded of how I felt watching Jennifer Lawrence in WINTER'S BONE years ago, and how amazed I was by everything about her, so it was no surprise when she became a big star, and delivered great performance after great performance, until the first lazy one I saw . . . which gained her an Oscar.

When I get back to civilization, I'm going to urge my buddy Jeff to see this movie, because he'll love it despite the wrestling angle, and I know what he's going to say: I've already seen it, and you're right.

Today, I put in SAN ANDREAS (two movies in a row with the Rock in them, though that was not planned), a DVD I've had from the library for more than a month now (and am paying late fees on, despite not ever watching it), and the opening scene was so stupid that I turned it off at the two minute and forty-three second mark.  Weird.***

If Big and I were still podcasting together, I'd have to sit him down to complain about it--this stretched-tanktop blonde teen is driving down a sheer cliff two-lane road and as a truck is coming toward her, turns and reaches into her back seat for a water bottle, then faces the road again as the truck drives past.  Then she gets a text on her phone just as a black sports car is coming toward her and she reaches down to read the text, then faces the road again as the car drives past.  Then an earthquake pushes her off the cliff and . . .

I dunno.  As a failed screenwriter myself, I really do try my best when I write.  I have so many faults it ain't even funny ("We all have our little faults . . . mine's in California"), but I hope I've never written something like that.  I even kind of understand what they were going for there, but your audience should never murmur, "Oh, fuck you" that early on.  When have I ever turned a movie off within the first two minutes?  Even BED OF ROSES back in 1995 I turned off at the fifteen minute mark (though I would've probably said, "Oh, eff you" in those days).

Sit-ups Today: 300
Sit-ups In September: 2562

Push-ups Today: 40 (I've got to figure out a way to do this more, or I'll never be able to compete with my crazy uncle and his crazy 400 push-ups in a row)
Push-ups In September: 592

I've spent the last hour editing audio, and if there was ever a thankless job . . . well, it's probably something like garbage collector.  My brother is a linesman for the electric company, and they had a windstorm up north last week, so he went up there to try to get the power back on with a couple dozen other power company employees.  He was telling me how miserable the job was (getting up at sunrise and working until it got dark, day after day) . . . except the people who he helped were so grateful to have electricity again that I got the impression he felt it was all worth it.  That's nice.

Plus, my brother owns his own home, and unless he dies while working on powerlines (which happened to a member of his team just four or five years back), he'll be able to retire while he's still young enough to enjoy it.  And that's good--he works hard and he deserves it.  Me, well, I don't work hard, and I will only ever be able to retire if I inherit money or I find a winning lottery ticket.  Quite a catch, I know.  No wonder I'm peeling the girls off me like I'm in a K-pop band.

The wind keeps blowing outside, then stopping, everything so pretty and still (even though there's a yellowness to the air, an effect of all the recent forest fires, I suppose).  The deer are back outside my window (that reminds me, I recorded some video a time or two back, and never uploaded it.  I need to get on that sometime).

I drove home at the usual time, right as the sun was going down (I say "the usual time," but it gets earlier every week.  By the time we close up for the winter, it'll be time to go at six).  

As the evening progressed, I started not to feel well, and I thought, "Okay, guess that's it, it's my turn for COVID."  But around eleven, when I asked myself if I felt up to going on my nightly run, I thought I was okay to do so, but the second I felt sicker, I'd turn around and go home.  As always, the first half mile was the worst, and I knew I wasn't going to make it . . . until I passed the landmark at .5 miles, and then felt a little bit better.  As I continued, my lungs seemed to go from tight to freely open, and I did just fine all the way back home, even pushing myself to run as hard as I could there at the end.  

We'll see if I'm more or less sick tomorrow, but it's nice to be able to simply will the Coronavirus away.

Words Today: 1143
Words In September: 18,517

*That reminds me, I used to see a homeless man up there, in the same seat, virtually every time I'd go to the library.  I complained about his hacking cough previously.  Sometimes my cousin and I would see him at the only twenty-four hour Del Taco in the whole county, always sitting in the same seat there, at one, two, or three in the morning.  But they curtailed the hours on that Del Taco during the pandemic, and closed the library altogether (eventually closing down the restaurant permanently, which sort of breaks my heart [the high school used to be across from it, and then they built a new high school across town, and one by one, those businesses by the high school went out of business]). . . and I never saw the guy again.
It's possible he moved on to another town.  But it's also possible that he got sick, and ended up a number on one of those daily reports we're always seeing.  Hmm.

**I had a story for the Dunesteef to narrate yesterday, and I had planned on going down there to record, where it would be absolutely silent . . . but I just couldn't stand to be in there, even if the sound quality would've been better.

***But I hear you saying, "Three minutes in isn't the opening scene, is it, Rish?"  And that reminds me of a truly excellent joke I heard about four or five years ago, where a guy is rushing to a movie theater, but he's gotten there late.  He asks the girl behind the counter, "Have I missed anything?" and she says, "Well, you've missed the commercials and the trailers and the theater chain reel and the no cellphones clip, so now the production company logos are playing, so you have about three minutes before the film starts."
Genius gag that, if I do say so myself.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

September Sweeps - Day 228

Back up at the cabin again.  It feels like home now, if you know what I mean.  Last week, I saw the leaves changing on the trees at the mouth of the canyon, almost an hour away from here.  Today, the leaves right outside my window are half green and half yellow.  

A lot of people love the changing of the leaves.  And I get it--the colors are beautiful, the light quality changes, there's something magical about everything--but I'm like my mom in that I'm always reminded that winter is coming ("all dwarves are bastards in the eyes of their fathers"), and that soon, it will be cold and miserable outside, and not long after that, I will be cold and frozen in a coffin somewhere.*

Up here, the weather is absolutely perfect.  I checked, and it's 76 degrees outside, 68 degrees in the cabin.  Only my cousin could complain about that, and the warmth of the sun on the back deck means I'll really enjoy reading once I get around to it.  Even so, I wish you were here to share it with me.  I talk to myself often, but sometimes the conversation gets awfully repetitive.

There's an old sink down in the basement that's always cold, so every time I come here, I put water in it (or there's still water in it from the last time) and I put a couple of sodas in it to chill during my visit.  Today, there was no water there, so I started to fill it, when I smelled something: it would seem my nephew cleaned a bunch of fish in that sink over the weekend, and the scales and smell are still there.  I didn't want to soak my sodas in that, so I scrubbed it and tried to get it as clean as I could.  But it was pretty gross.  Guess it's better than discovering a toilet was that way, but still.

Last week, I put in a DVD called ESCAPE FROM FORT BRAVO from the 1950s.  It's a Western, with a fort out in Arizona Territory where the Union Army has a bunch of Confederate soldiers as prisoners, and there's the strangest relationship between the two groups I've ever seen documented.  At one point, the main character, a Northern Captain (William Holden, who I remember from THE OMEN 2), and his opposite, a Reb Captain (John Forsythe, who I remember from "Dynasty"), go to a dance at the fort, and both compete over the same woman (even though one of them is a prisoner of the other).  

It's got a pretty great premise, where the Union soldiers and the Confederate soldiers have to team up against rampaging Indians, and I can't help but try to think of how to transplant that into a Sci-Fi or Horror setting (there aren't enough Civil War-era monster movies, I say), but I have to admit that I fell asleep right before the end.

Sit-ups Today: 250
Sit-ups In September: 2262

Push-ups Today: 39
Push-ups In September: 552

I don't know if I ever blogged about this, but there's a hill directly behind this cabin, and atop it sits another cabin, oh, I'd say a hundred yards away (maybe less, I don't judge distances well).  And last year, I was here, reading out on the back deck, when I heard a sound from that cabin.  I looked up, and there's a porch swing on their own back deck, and the wind was making it move back and forth.  So I went back to my reading, when I heard it again, bumping against the wood.  I looked up, and thought I saw . . . well, the shadows made it look like somebody was sitting there, but I knew there was no one up there, so I went back to reading.

But then I stopped, and looked around me.  None of the trees or weeds were moving in any breeze, so it wasn't wind that was making that swing go back and forth.  I looked again, and that person-like shape was still there, sitting in the swing.  I stood up and walked to the end of our desk--which was three yards at most--to get a better look.  And yes, there was someone--what looked like an old woman--sitting in that porch swing.

Now, if you know me, you know three things: 1) I'm a dreamer, 2) I often damage my buttocks by doing too many sit-ups, and 3) I'm deathly afraid of old women.**  So of course, it freaked me out to know she was there (if she was really there), sitting, swinging in silence, perhaps watching me, perhaps chuckling at the smallness of my private parts, perhaps reflecting bitterly on how she died many years ago on a night just like this one.

I came up here every ten days or so last year, and every other trip, I'd see her--or someone like her--sitting in that porch swing, judging me and staring malevolently . . . or perhaps completely unaware I was even there.

Cut to Plague Year 2020.  I come up here every Wednesday (give or take two), and sit out on that back deck every time (give or take last week).  And once, back in June, I thought I saw her, but until today, I was pretty safe.  But today, she was back, along with grandchildren, and a husband who must be even older than she is, because he kept making the most TERRIBLE sounds.  Wet, phlegmy, hacking, thick sounds, like he'd swallowed a bottle of molasses that had a bunch of slugs in it.  I was reading the Coben book (still very enjoyable), but my whole body would go rigid (and not in the good way) every time he'd make his coughing-up-big-chunks-of-lung sound, until I finally put my book away and went back in the cabin.

You see, there are worse things than ghosts in this world.

Words Today: 742
Words In September: 17,374

*I really would like to be cremated, though, and have my ashes spread in the ocean like my Uncle Jim (or awful Brekkyn Manyon at the end of "A Lovely Singing Voice").  I love the ocean like you love the autumn leaves.  Plus, it'll save my family the price of a coffin--those suckers are expensive.

**Okay, all women.  But especially the old ones.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

September Sweeps - Day 227

Now, on to something new.

My goal of September (besides getting through a push-ups session without wanting to give up) is to Write A Good Story.  We'll see how that goes.

Sit-ups Today: 150
Sit-ups in September: 2012

Push-ups Today: 0 (aw shite, I haven't done any push-ups, but it's 2:29am.  Do I really have to get up and do them?)

Words Today: 677
Words in September: 16,632

So, I finished recording the current audiobook project--which is good (only took thrice the amount of time I expected it to), though I don't know if I'll put it out on the Outcast or not (leaning toward not)--and that means it's time to move on to either my Ben Parks novel ("A Sidekick To Miracles" or the novel I wrote based on Big's write-a-song-based-on-a-Temallica-title prompt, called "My Friend of Misery").  To be honest, I'm leaning toward "Misery," because I wrote a Ben Parks short story this year ("A Sidekick's Errand") and I could do that one instead* and see if I can't write "Sins of a Sidekick" during the fall (or winter), and put it out in 2021, along with "Miracles."

It is good to have projects going, lined up one after the other.  It keeps you looking forward, keeps you working, and I'd hate to be that guy who retires from his job, gets the gold watch, and then dies not long after.  My dad was that way, working at the post office for decades, seeing friendly faces on his route, hanging out with other postal carriers half or a third his age, because he enjoyed doing what he did when he started, and only retiring when they made him do it.  And then . . . well, lots of chores around the house, I guess.  Being a writer is something I don't ever have to retire from, because I always have new ideas--more ideas than I can ever get written, even if every year were as productive as 2020.

Alright, push-ups done, dang it.

Push-ups Today: 38
Push-ups in September: 513

*I just checked, and it's 13,000 words, which'll end up a thousand more by the time I do the audio.  That shouldn't be more than two days' work, as far as recording goes.  I could publish it and be--  Oh shit, I'd need to do cover art for it.  My effing kryptonite.  Still, the last cover wasn't hard--just taking a picture of my nephew, and converting it to a painting.  I did it once, I can do it again.

Twilight Groan 10: It's A Good Life

Rish and Cathexis talk about Season 3's "It's A Good Life," which is a good thing.  It's a very good thing they did.

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

To support me on Patreon, Left-Click HERE.

Next episode, Inger Stevens encounters a mysterious hitch-hiker.

12 Goals For 2020 - September

Haven't done one of these in a few months.  Don't imagine it much matters now.

1.  Publish "The Calling: Reunion."
    Both text and audio are out there.  
2.  Do Dunesteef Patreon with Big.
    Seems like a silly goal now.
3. Put Out "Tales of eBay Horror" Episodes.
   I thought about recording another one of these this month, but chose not to.
4.  Finish "Balms & Sears" Novella.
    I will try for October (and won't get to it)
5.  Publish EITHER "A Sidekick To Miracles" or "You're In Good Hands."
   "You're in Good Hands" is out there (in text form, at least).  I think ASTM will have to wait till 2021 (or later)
6.  Finish "Podcatcher" short story.
    Yep.  Although I may call it "Comes the Podcatcher" in the end.
7.  Do BOTH "Empire Strikes Back" and "Death Star Day" Episodes of "Delusions of Grandeur." 
   Done, both.
8.   Publish EITHER "My Friend of Misery" or audio version of "A Lovely Singing Voice."
    One of these is ready to go, the other I just began.
9.  Do "Till Death Do Us Meet" Episode With Marshal Latham.
    This is also done, on the Journey Into... podcast.
10.  Put Out Christmas Story Collection.
    No further progress on this.
11.  Put Out Audio Collection 4.
     None here either.
12.  Put Out TWO New "Dead & Breakfast" Stories.
     Yes, "The Old Man & Me," "Fatherless Child," and "Three-Time Visitor" are available.  Next up is "Never Let Him Go."  I could have that one done in a week.

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

15.  Turn Around, Jedi (Star Wars sketch)
16.  Bryan Adams sketch (redux)
17.  Comics Trip, The (screenplay - second draft)
18.  Tell Me Once Again, Who's Bad? (Star Wars sketch)
19.  Ticking and Talking (sketch)
20.  The Comics Trip (screenplay - third draft)
21.  Podcatcher/Comes the Podcatcher (Horror)
Hatchling (Drama/Fantasy/Romance)
Underdecorated (Horror)
24.  Message To My Girl (Romance)
25.  The New Model (D&B, Romance)
26.  Two Month Retreat (I dunno)

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