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 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 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.

Monday, September 14, 2020

September Sweeps - Day 226

It's Monday, and even though those are usually my busiest days, I was done with work by lunchtime (this should be good, but it means I will have less money coming my way--though next Monday should be a big one)

Okay, so I took my nephew to his flag football game tonight, and instead of going to the store (which I had planned to do), I acted responsibly and sat down with my laptop to do my daily writing then and there.  Unfortunately, the computer didn't want to turn back on, and when I restarted it, I lost all of last night's writing (yeah, this shite still goes on, about once a month).  Luckily, I had a backup of everything I wrote yesterday, when I had pasted it into WordCounter to, gee, count the words, so I was able to reconstruct last night's . . . "work," even though it took time away from me actually writing.

But then I went to town, writing the final unwritten scene in the story, which . . . well, let me be honest (we're all friends here) was pretty weak and anticlimactic.  Heck, the story itself might not be all that good.

But it is done.  Another finished story.  So there.*

After that, I edited the last "Twilight Groan" episode my niece and I recorded, and when I got to the bit at the end, where she took my picking-up-a-hitchhiker story super seriously, well, it made the whole thing worth it.  If it's the last episode of that podcast, we're going out on a good one.

Sit-ups Today: 100
Sit-ups In September: 1862

Push-ups Today: 38
Push-ups In September: 475

Words Today: 724
Words In September: 15,955

*I looked it over just now (it still needs formatting, and I suspect there's a bit that is still in the present tense and all-caps toward the end), but it sits just over twenty-five thousand words.  That's not bad, considering it's only been a month and a day since the night I got the idea for it.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

September Sweeps - Day 225


Today I spoke to Big while he was in Louisiana, cleaning up some hurricane destruction.  He told me he'd seen the DORA THE EXPLORER movie (so hot), and that it wasn't bad.  We talked for a little while about being assigned to turn a children's franchise like that into a movie, and how, if you try to make too good a movie out of your cartoon, toyline, or video game, you will only piss off the target audience.  We then talked about the TRANSFORMERS franchise, and utterly septic those films are, but that nobody cares (and the one film they actually tried to make a good movie, the Bumblebee one?  Well, no one went to that).  

So we talked about what we would do if we were handed the keys to turning Bratz dolls or "Bubble Guppies" or "Yo Gabba Gabba" or Shopkins into a movie, and I honestly don't know if I could do it.  Except for one.  "Monster High."  That could make an excellent live-action movie, and I'm surprised they haven't tried it.

In the months before it got too hot, I'd go on a hike every Sunday.  Then, I went with my high school friends Rhett and Dennis, and poor Dennis was ready for death before we got out of there.  I decided that it was hot enough to take a little break from hiking, and I've only gone on one since then.

But it's starting to cool down, and I ought to at least consider getting back on the horse (or mountain) this month.  Unfortunately, it is wildfire/forest fire season all across this part of the country, and the air quality is really, really bad because of it.  It makes for great sunsets, but who would want to go hiking in it?

I did take my bike out and ride it down toward the lake, but I popped the back tire and that ended my trip pretty fast.  I tried riding it with a flat, then got off and wheeled it for another couple of blocks, but then the tube started coming out, tangling with the spokes, and the back tire wouldn't move anymore.  So, instead of carrying my bike the two miles I had left to go, I abandoned it in a vacant lot beside the road.

I jogged home, and got the truck to go retrieve the bike.  I was almost disappointed to discover the bike was still where I left it, because I had been thinking that, if it were stolen, I could buy one of those really light aluminum ones, and have a good time with that.  I'm so lazy that I would rather buy a new bike than have to buy a new tube and put it on the old bike . . . all so I can get a little exercise.

Speaking of which:

Sit-ups Today: 100
Sit-ups In September: 1762

I also went on my regular run last night, and had absolutely no trouble foot-wise.  While I recognize that as I get older (and older and oooooooooolder), I'm going to ache more and more, and when I hurt myself it will last longer and longer, but it's good to be reminded when you feel good for a change.  My Uncle Len is constantly in pain, and my mom says he will be for the rest of his life.  I can't imagine that, and I guess it's time to count my blessings that my biggest problems in life are shiftlessness, regret, an existence of no worth to anyone, and an occasional almost crippling loneliness.  Not bad, eh? 

Push-ups Today: 37
Push-ups In September: 437

The damned push-ups have not gotten easier.  I don't know what's happening there, since I could do twice as many six months ago than I can do now.  Only thirty-seven push-ups should not be a great effort, should it?  Maybe on Wednesday, instead of going sit-up crazy (as is my tradition), I'll see if I can get a hundred or so push-ups in.  Joy.

So, we've finally come to this.  It's 2:52am, and I have only written 179 words today.  I can barely stay awake, indeed, after typing "awake," I closed my eyes for the briefest of seconds, and now the clock says it's 2:36am.  Scary.

I forced it, not a lot, but some.

Words Today: 660
Words In September: 15,231
(I'm still ahead!)

Saturday, September 12, 2020

September Sweeps - Day 224

I was a bit blue today, can't really explain why*, but hung out with my uncle and my cousin from Vegas for part of the afternoon.  Their lives seem more exciting than mine, but I suppose everyone's does.

While my uncle was over he talked about an idea that came to him in a dream for a story and he wanted me to write it for him.  I told him I don't manage to write half the stories I come up with myself, and I know that bothered him.  Non-writers are always so surprised when they come up with story ideas, and they want them to get out there, and we've all heard the "I have a great idea for a movie, why don't you write it and we'll split the proceeds?" pitch a time or two, but it's hard to explain that the real accomplishment is the writing, not the coming up with an idea.

"Hey, they should make a machine that records your dreams, so you can go back, if you choose, and experience them again.  You build it, and we'll split the money 50/50."

They had a get-together they were going to, and I hoped they would invite me to come along (despite me not knowing any of the people there), but they took off, and my sister's family took off for the cabin, leaving me pretty much alone.  I decided to head over to the library again today, just to force myself to write a little more. Yesterday wasn't much, but I often (not always, but often) feel like I've accomplished something when I write, so I tried it again today.

Sit-ups Today: 150
Sit-ups In September: 1662

Push-ups Today: 36
Push-ups In September: 400 (nice, but my Uncle John probably does that much in one sitting . . . during a funeral)

I veered suddenly left yesterday while I was writing the Natalie story, and wrote a scene showing what Mason was doing.  It probably doesn't belong--if the story's from her POV, she should get all the scenes, right?--but I wanted to explore what was happening to the rest of the staff while Natalie is having her adventure (I set up a future story telling where Meeshelle is in between my first story and Marshal Latham's story), and I also wanted a scene to explain why Mason isn't in those two stories (I had honestly figured he was dead by this point, but the stories keep on surprising me).

So, I skipped the main ghost scene with Natalie and wrote what happens after, and went on through until "the end."  The story's not done--I have to go back and write the ghost scene (or not, I could be a cheater and just skip it)--but it's still super close now to being finished.

I went on my full run tonight--something I hadn't managed much this week--my sore foot be damned.  And it only really bothered me for the first block or so (and going down stairs).  As a reward, I looked on the free On Demand section on TV, to pick a movie, and noticed AD ASTRA on there.  It was a heady Sci-Fi movie starring Brad Pitt that I remember saying wouldn't make a dime because the title was in Latin.

It ended up being a tremendously boring future Drama about a guy with father issues, with two or three pointless action scenes jammed in there, perhaps after the first disastrous test screening, where the entire audience fell asleep.  The action scenes, as inappropriate to the story as they are, were the only entertaining bits of the movie (especially one with a space baboon), and I almost wish they'd stick to their (absence of) guns, because I could at least admire them for it.

In the middle of the movie, I got an idea for a horror story, about an ex-soldier (or policeman) who, due to a brain injury, is the perfect candidate for a mission to save the world.  I focused on that idea during the super boring parts (as opposed to the simply dull parts), but then worried that I was stealing my idea from EVENT HORIZON, a movie I went to in 1997, and only vaguely remember.

Was the premise of that movie that this crew finds a spaceship with a portal in it that causes peoples' worst fears to manifest?  Seems like something like that.

So, when ED ASNER ended, I did a search for EVENT HORIZON and, wouldn't you know it, it was available for free too (with commercials, though).  I went ahead and watched it.  Holy smoke, the CG in the movie was shite . . . not quite BIRDEMIC bad, but close.  

It was a little bit worse than I remembered (and I've never quite gotten over my loathing for Kathleen Quinlan--can't really explain that), but it was better than AD ASTRA because it delivered what it promised, and wasn't trying to be something artsy, just a Haunted House movie in space.  Lots of jumpscares, a couple of eerie sequences, and hey, it had really first-rate set design.

It was directed by Paul Anderson (the RESIDENT EVIL guy), who now goes by Paul W.S. Anderson because the Paul Thomas Anderson who directed BOOGIE NIGHTS was registered with the Writers Guild as "Paul Anderson" and this one was registered with the Directors Guild as "Paul Anderson," and that was apparently a huge headache.  He's the video game director who was married to Milla Jovavich, and also did ALIEN VERSUS PREDATOR (which you may say sucked, but was better than anything from ALIEN: RESURRECTION on).  I saw that he did that movie about the fall of Pompeii, and I may bug Marshal about watching that with me for our movie podcast.

Apparently, they shot a scene for the movie with a bunch of porno actors and amputees that was so disturbing to test audiences that they dropped it, and that footage is now lost.  A shame they didn't jam that into the middle of the Brad Pitt movie.

I also read that somebody is trying to turn EVENT HORIZON into a television series, and believe it or not, I'm all over that.  It's not the idea behind the movie that's flawed, just the dumbness of the movie itself.

Afterward, I was a bit disappointed in myself, that I could've used the time to record audio or write, and I didn't do it.  I'm 96% done with my "Delusions of Grandeur" episode, and I could've done that too.

I did sit down and jot down some notes for the story (I will never write) that was inspired by AD ASSMAT, that I feared was the premise of EVENT HORIZON, but it's pretty derivative, and I don't usually write Sci-Fi anyway, because it just becomes Horror set in space (see "Ten Thousand Coffins").

I did the math, just to see, and two-thirds of a year is 243 days.  So, I'm a couple weeks away from having written every day for two-thirds of 2020.  Remarkable?  Sure.  Meaningful?  Not so much.

Words Today: 804
Words In September: 14,571
 (I'm still ahead!)

*Okay, I could explain, I consider myself a writer, after all.  

Friday, September 11, 2020

September Sweeps - Day 223

Nothing.  I've got nothing for you today.  Sorry about that.

Oh, I still worked and wrote and sat-up a bunch of times, but now I'm tired.

Sit-ups Today: 200
Sit-ups In September: 1712

I realize that I alternate between "I felt really motivated today" and "I didn't feel like doing much today" in these posts, but isn't that just life in general?  

Push-ups Today: 35
Push-ups In September: 364

I was feeling down, and I considered going to the library, so I checked to see when my pile of books and DVDs were due.  Turns out, the whole stack was due on the fifth of September.  So I tried to renew them, and suddenly the late fees total skyrocketed.  Guess that's what happens when you don't pay attention.

I raced over there to return the ones I'd already finished, and the two that someone else had reserved, so I couldn't renew them.  Since I was at the library anyway, I decided to write for a few minutes.  I made it there with less than a half hour before they were closing (I almost expected them not to let me use a computer for fear I wouldn't leave when they told me to), and by the time they flashed the lights and boomed out their "The library will be closing in ten minutes" announcement, I was ready to go.

Fewer words written than usual, but it was still writing, and counts for the day.

At night, I could have written some more--and I planned to--but I just could not be arsed.  No, nary an arse to be found.

Words Today: (only) 498
Words In September: 13,737

Thursday, September 10, 2020

September Sweeps - Day 222

Two hundred and twenty-two days.  I love stuff like that, as you know, if you know me at all.  There's nothing worse than getting gas, and filling it up with $33.35.

Okay, there are worse things.  But it might be an OCD thing--I like the numbers to match.  And for twenty-five years, I've never been able to leave the television (or radio) volume on an odd number.

The snow is all melted (though chunks of it still slid off the roof early this morning, startling me), but it's not summer out there.  My fire has burned out, but it served its purpose, and raised the temperature from the thirties outside to the sixties inside.

I finished BEN-HUR in the morning, and man, is it a wonderful movie.  The whole reason I checked it out was that, once the library re-opened, I started grabbing DVDs again, to bring home or to the cabin, and one of them was the recent remake (2017 or so?).  I quite enjoyed it, being impressed with certain moments of subtlety, and reinterpretations of scenes I vaguely remembered from the 1959 version (it was not the original, as there was a silent version by Cecil B. DeMile in the Twenties, and an even earlier version at the turn of the century that is lost).  It made me curious about the Charlton Heston version, which I had seen so long ago, I couldn't remember where it was (my guess is, it was the fall of 1991, for a class).

I was very moved by it, and only found one or two bits to be dated, all of them forgotten by the time the magnificent chariot race occurs.  I cried a lot with the leper scenes, and especially liked the performance of the Israeli woman who plays Esther (Haya Harareet).   The religious aspects vexed me, because the film starts out with the Nativity, and it just seemed unnecessary (indeed, when the film was re-released, that scene was excised and it begins with Messala returning to Nazareth, which makes a lot of sense*), and I feared it would be too heavy-handed (the recent version did well with the Jesus stuff, I thought, though he does speak and you do see his face, unlike this one).  But it totally works at the end, and I thought about whether I could write a movie like that or not.

It's not for nothing--it's a question I've asked myself over the years, along the same lines as the Hallmark Christmas movie I was casually offered and turned down.  I didn't think I could write something like that, but have always wondered ever since.

I also listened to the commentary, in which an expert on the film is intercut with remembrances from Heston, occasionally sharing the same information, from different point-of-views.  The critic said that, because MGM had spent so much money on the film (the highest budget for a film up to that time), they needed a finished product that would appeal to devout Christians, casual moviegoers, Jews, and people overseas.  The religious scenes had to work whether you thought Jesus was divine, just a historical rabbi, or an invention of the first century church.  And that, my friends, is quite a task.  One I'm sure dozens of films have tried to do ever since.

"They tried and failed?"

"They tried and died."

I've written to try to please others before, and it's something I think I'd try, if the opportunity were before me.  Of course, my efforts might not be welcome.  After all, my story "Who Can It Be Now?" was rejected for a collection of monster stories set in the Rocky Mountains, and I'm intimately familiar with both of those things.

Sit-ups Today: 250
Sit-ups In September: 1512

Now it's time to go, and it's so dim and grey outside again.  The sun came out around eleven, and I could've gone out on the deck and enjoyed it, but I didn't.  Soon it was gone, like most of my life.  Now it's cold again, and I've been wearing my jacket inside the whole time.

Push-ups Today: 34 (okay, I did this twice today)
Push-ups In September: 329

Once again, I was very hesitant to come home from the cabin, the cold notwithstanding.**  It must be doing something right, huh?

I really like this picture, taken while podcasting and driving down the canyon.  It sums up the feelings in my heart right now.  

Of course, it also makes me wish I had cleaned my windshield beforehand.

I discovered on Sunday, after walking around on a foot that hurt, that the sole of my left shoe had worn through.  When I got home, I checked my right shoe, and it was fine.  I threw out the worn left shoe (but not the right, crazily enough) and grabbed my secondary pair of shoes off the rack . . . and discovered I had worn through that shoe in the exact same place, just not all the way through yet.  That seemed strange, and when my foot hurt badly enough on Monday for me not to go on my nightly run, I worried that I had stepped on a sharp rock or something and that was the reason for my pain.

I spent most of the time at the cabin with my shoes off, but the one time I went upstairs to check for Shoggoths (there weren't any this time, thank H.P.), my foot really hurt coming down.  So when I went out yesterday to the lake, I put on an old pair of shoes I keep at the cabin for muddy walks, and it was a lot more comfortable.  Not sure why.

Anyhow, when I got home tonight, along with catching up on my blog and answering emails, I thought I'd go on my run, not having done so on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday.  I did a bunch of sit-ups as a warm-up, then took off down the road.  It hurt a lot, almost from the beginning, but I thought that I could run through the pain, since it ALWAYS hurts, and I always feel better after the half-mile mark.

But it didn't.  It started to make me worry there was something more serious going on, because it was cold outside, yet I was still sweating down my neck and forehead.  So, I turned two blocks earlier than I usually do, and only managed a mile rather than a mile and a half (technically, 1.2 miles instead of 1.6).  I started a bath and soaked my foot for a little while, but am still disappointed I couldn't just toughen up enough to go the whole way.  Might do some more push-ups just to prove that I can. 

Words Today: 1446
Words In September: 13,269

*I had tons of food I had brought with me and not eaten, and it occurred to me that, if I'm just going up again next Wednesday, why not leave the food and my suitcase there?  I'd never considered doing that before.  

**Actually, there was originally another opening scene for the movie, where the Three Wise Men encounter one another, and though they speak different languages, all are in search of the promised Messiah, who is revealed to them through the star we still see in the beginning.

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

September Sweeps - Day 221

Like I said, yesterday was really cold, and I knew it would be so at the cabin, but I was determined to go.  And there was snow on the ground there, but it was melting and dripping off the cabin's roof, just barely over forty degrees.  I hadn't had to build a fire in several visits, but I did so almost as soon as I arrived, and had forgotten how bad I am at keeping a fire going (it's burned out twice in the ninety minutes since I got here).

I am just no good in the cold.  In between starting the fire and trying to get it going, I'm tempted to just sit on the couch with a blanket around me and . . . well, edit audio, which is still getting something done.  It could be worse--I could just sleep, or watch the stack of DVDs I bring with me every time.

I had this idea for a sketch the other day, a sort of James Bond meeting the villain scene, like we see so often.  I thought it would be funny if it started out as the usual "Don't you find my secret installation magnificent, Mister Bond?" interchange, and then descends into something way more personal.  I nearly wrote it, then I got the idea of writing it for me and Renee Chambliss (who I'm always eager to work with again), maybe changing Bond to a female secret agent.  But it changed the tone of the script (which I hadn't yet written) by changing it from two men to a man and a woman, and I didn't end up writing it.  

I might still write it, if I could come up with some ending for it that's funny enough.

On one Sunday, when I went on a waterfall hike, I stopped at a park and wrote another sketch for the two of us to do (about a waitress and a crazy customer), and I never really felt it was good enough.  It's weird how precious I am about Renee, and asking her to do things for me, but she really is a truly talented professional, and I fear she's slumming to work for me.  

In July, I wrote another sketch, called "Ticking and Tocking," that I also abandoned, because it was just too gross, too vulgar, but more than that . . . too realistic.  I'll ask Renee about it the next time we talk, see if she thinks it's worth finishing, but right now, I keep trying to find a script that's worthy of her.

Again, I don't know what's interesting to talk about in a daily blog, but it must be a bore to hear about the weather, my exercise, and about writing projects you will never read.  Imagine if I filled these pages with endless paeans to unrequited love.

Sit-ups Today: 200
Sit-ups In September: 1262

Push-ups Today: 33
Push-ups In September: 261 

I did my requisite trip to the lake (what's left of it) as the sun was setting, now earlier than ever.  It was miserable cold, and I just couldn't go out to the other side of the lake like I had planned.  It was just too cold, my hand complaining after carrying the tripod a hundred feet.  So, I just planted it in front of the lake by where the rowboats are beached (that having been at the water's edge a month ago when their owners left them there), started my camera, and did the shortest song I've done all summer (similar to the first couple I did where I just sang part of a song and called it good*).  I didn't have the body heat to do a second take of it, even though there wasn't a soul around, and I could've done "American Pie" and not been interrupted.

Just for fun, I recorded a couple of minutes of the sunset, which I'll post here, not wanting it to go to waste.  But by then, I was starting not to be able to feel my fingers, so I stumbled back to my car before the sun was even fully down.

Back at the cabin, the fire had--miracle of miracles--not burned itself out, and I threw another long on, ate an entire can of Pringles, and watched the 1959 BEN-HUR.  It's an insanely long movie, and before I'd even gotten to the chariot race, I'd fallen asleep.

But, I made myself get up, throw another log on the fire (it's almost pleasant in here now, though it's still cold by the windows and in the bathroom), and forced myself to sit down and write a little bit more before I allowed myself to sleep for real.  I don't know how the story's going to end, exactly, but there's no reason I can't finish it tomorrow.

Except I'll come up with a reason, believe me.

Words Today: 1069
Words In September: 11,823

*Which reminds me, I really ought to re-do that Adele song I did second or third of all last winter, since I only learned that one bit of the song and never know the rest of it whenever I hear it play.

Rish Outcast 178: Answer the Calling

So, this is my much-delayed episode talking about "The Calling: Reunion," a sequel to my short story "The Calling," from 2013 or so.  I had many problems getting Audible to approve the audiobook version* but hey, here it is, under the wire.

If you'd like to buy "The Calling: Reunion," it's available at Amazon HERE and Audible HERE.

To Right-Click the episode, simply download it HERE.

To support me on Patreon, come over HERE.

Logo by Gino "Calling: All Cars" Moretto.

*Oh, and there are still errors in it, apparently.  Lots.

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

September Sweeps - Day 220

Two hundred and twenty days in a row.  If I wrote only one word on each of those days, why, we'd be over two hundred words by now.  Not bad, kid, not bad.

Today was my early day (I know I keep bringing that up, but a) what else can I do, I've been blogging 221 days in a row!, and b) it really is unique for me, to get up early one day a week.  You'd think I was doing it for a girl or something.

But why am I doing any of this, really?

Oh yeah.  Death . . . on the horizon.  Seems like that horse of his is awfully unhealthy-looking.  Or maybe just pale.

Thing is, I felt pretty motivated today.  After it being nearly a hundred (and miserable) on Sunday, here we are, two days later, and it was down to the upper forties/lower fifties (and miserable).  It felt like winter had arrived today, it was so grey and ugly outside.*  Somebody told me this morning that they love weather like this, and it really struck me as a better outlook on life than I have, where the gloominess of the outside affects me inside.

Encouraged by this, or perhaps just to spite myself, I tried to view the positive of the day, and I did what I could to get as much done as possible, working until the afternoon, then heading over to the library, where I jacked into one of their computers and pounded out inspired words until around a hundred minutes had passed.

One more day like today, and I'll have finished the Natalie model story (which still needs a title).  Then I can go on to one of my goals for the month: Write a Good Story.**

Tomorrow, I'm going to the cabin again, even though I fear it's going to be terribly cold (it was 49 degrees when I woke up last Thursday morning, and I'll bet it'll be ten degrees colder this Thursday).  Luckily, there's plenty of firewood and sit-ups to keep me warm.

Sit-ups Today: 130
Sit-ups In September: 1062

Push-ups Today: 32
Push-ups In September: 228

Like I said, I talked to somebody who absolutely loves the gross weather--and loves every one of the seasons equally, unlike me, who feels depression clawing at the door and windowframes, looking for a point of ingress.  And it made me think I could use that as a story element in the next project I write.  I'd been kicking around the idea--

Oh, do you remember that really pretty girl that was getting married to a really pretty guy, and they started a weekly V-log for the first year of being together?  Well, after the one I turned off back in, March or April, was it?, I never went back there again.  But I did look at her Instagram yesterday, and she had done a video celebrating her two month wedding anniversary, mostly with footage from the big wedding shindig they threw.  And I thought about a couple, married for only two months, having their first fight, and that could be the opening scene of the story.

The husband stalks off in one direction, and the wife in the other (though now I'm thinking she tells him to get out, and he stalks off alone, while she stays behind, out of the story for the next several pages), and then he has the fateful encounter the rest of the story will be about.  But I couldn't think of what the argument could be about (politics or religion were my first inclinations, for obvious reasons).  But then I thought about my conversation about how gross the weather was this morning, and how somebody else could see it so differently ("I love it!" she actually exclaimed), and I thought, Well, there you go.  It can be something like that, something as basic as optimism versus pessimism.

And I'd really like to write the story, except I haven't finished my current project, and I worked for a day on the Lara Demming story last week, and it would be a shame to let that one die too.

Like I say way too much on here: we'll see.

Words Today: 2419
Words In September: 10,754

*And when the sun did come out, around one in the afternoon, I felt like dancing around with a Red Hot Chili Peppers sock on soaking up those all-too-brief lithium rays.

**If you support me on Patreon, I did a whole production, complete with music, based on the reasons for this goal in September, but let me just sum up by saying, it's a devil of a challenge.

Monday, September 07, 2020

September Sweeps - Day 219

Since today is a holiday (Labor Day) and I can put off any work till later, I thought maybe I'd try to write as soon as I got up, rather than at the end of the day.  But now that I'm typing this, I see I didn't finish yesterday's post, and I'd rather do that.

But afterward, I did write a few words.  I know I say this every day, but if I applied myself, I could finish this story today, and be on to the next one.

Sit-ups Today: 150
Sit-ups In September: 932

Push-ups Today: 31
Push-ups Today That Were Easy: 6
Push-ups In September: 196

I rented ED WOOD and was watching it while working (yeah, I went ahead and got some work done anyway.  What was I gonna do, go outside?).  In it, he drops his first film, GLEN OR GLENDA?, off with a studio exec at Warners, who tells him, "It's the worst picture I've ever seen!"  And Ed Wood says, "Well, the next one will be better!"

It is beyond inspiring.

Yeah, yeah, I know, the movie is making fun of bad moviemaking, and is an exercise in schadenfreude, but I wish I were more like Edward Wood Junior.  He'll be remembered long after I'm forgotten.

Labor Day is counted among lots of folks as the last holiday of the summer.  Of course, I've always lived where school started at the end of August (maybe September 1st), and my nephews went back to school (part-time) a week or more ago.  Even so, my sister's family was going to the lake again today*, and she had borrowed some of those hard plastic kayaks for the kids to use.  I decided to go along, because I quite enjoy the lake, and really dig rowing (it feels like exercise, but you're out in the sun, so it also feels like playing around).  

There were enough rafts/kayaks so everyone could have access to one, but they're really expensive and impossible for a child to carry, so this probably won't become a usual activity.  At one point, I tried to see how fast I could get the kayak going, and ended up way far away from anybody else (since it was a holiday, there were a ton of people at the lake, more than I've seen this whole year).  I entertained myself by singing CeeLo Green's biggest song, from beginning to end**.  I got all but the first line of the second verse, and if I'd had my phone, I think I would've done a Storage Unit Serenade of it out on the water.

But I'd been afraid of getting my phone wet (which was a good idea, since the twelve year old was determined to capsize me and ended up chasing me around both in and out of his own kayak), so I hadn't taken it out there with me.

This is the only picture I managed to take.  Sorry.

My nephews got it into their heads to start grabbing seaweed (or lakeweed, technically) and tossing it at each other, and then at me, but the problem was, it was really bad-smelling and dirty, and when it hit you, it would make a brown splotch on your clothes or skin, and that got old fast, especially when I had it in my hair and running down my face.

I decided to go back to shore, taking my three year old nephew with me.  I sat down and decided to read my book, but the child is so destructive and eager to disappear that I didn't even get the book out of my bag.  And he still managed to grab my sister's phone out of her bag, play with it for a minute, then drop it on the ground on my watch.

Even so, I'll look back on these trips with fondness, and the boy at this age, despite the wanton mayhem he excels in causing.

Look at that weird light quality.

Words Today: 972
Words In September: 8335

*This is the lake here in town.  It's just up the road about two or three miles--I've ridden my bike there a couple of times--and one I've visited multiple times this year, including recording my You Are Enough video as close as they would let me get back in February.  I'll take you there sometime if you want.

**Actually, I don't know if it's his biggest, but it's certainly his best.

Storage Unit Serenade 28

This was the first time I went up to the cabin by myself this year.  It was a Wednesday evening, and only the frogs (and occasional duck) were around to be bothered by my song.  There's always somebody up there now, often many somebodys, but as the leaves start to change and it gets colder, I'll find myself alone again.  Naturally.


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

Sunday, September 06, 2020

September Sweeps - Day 218

About twenty-five years ago, I wrote a letter to my friend Jeff urging him to try to live his life with "never a wasted day."  I had heard that lyric in a song, and it spoke to me . . . and I guess it still does, for me to have thought about it again today.*

Because I think today was pretty much wasted.

Oh, I still did my run and my exercise and wrote and worked for a couple (maybe four) hours at the end of the night, but I spent most of the day driving around, listening to the very last Patrick Rothfuss book of the rest of my life, going to GameStop stores in the next town over, and the town after that, and the town after that.

And the town after that.

It was truly a gross day, looks-wise, as the sky was grey in every direction from wildfires, it was hot and humid, and the very air you breathe is a poison fume.

It was folly, but it's what I chose to do with my day.

In my travels, I saw a dude wearing a shirt that read "Running Doesn't Suck."  I remember earlier in the year, seeing (and photographing) a shirt that said "Running Sucks..."

But I couldn't figure this one out.  It was a fat guy who was wearing the shirt, so I didn't know if it was meant to be ironic or if I just wasn't getting it.  It's possible that he really liked running, and that's simply what the shirt was about.

Afterward, in Target, I saw a shirt that said this:

It reminded me of the shirt a year or so back that so horrified me, the one that said, "Breaking News: I don't care."  The one my niece said every girl at her school wore . . . three years ago.

Well, this one was similar, so I sent it to Cathexis and asked if she wanted me to buy it for her.  She texted back and said I should get it for myself.

But I don't want it.  Not because it's assholey (which it is) . . . but because there should be a question mark on it.  If you're going to be a dick, at least do it grammatically.

Sit-ups Today: 100
Sit-ups In September: 782

Push-ups Today: 30
Push-ups  In September: 165

You know, I thought it would be clever to just do a single extra push-up each day, figuring that by the end of the month, I'd be good and strong, but I'm not sure if this is helping me.  It's harder to do twenty-five push-ups than a hundred sit-ups.  Is that case for everyone, or is my body just used to doing sit-ups?

Words Today: 762
Words In September: 7363

*To be honest, I think about that lyric all the time, whether I want to or not.

Saturday, September 05, 2020

September Sweeps - Day 217

I went running last night (what else is new?), and ever since I got locked out of the house for the, lemme see, fourth time and went around back to get the hide-a-key, only to find it missing, I've started grabbing my key off the hook, and putting it outside next to the door, just in case.

Well, as I made it back from my pointless run, I leaned over to grab the keys, then recoiled, as my overactive imagination told me there was a spider on the keys.  Of course, there was nothing, but I stomped on them anyway, because, hey, maybe it was a shadow, maybe it was early onset dementia, or maybe it was a glossy black spider, the kind I am afraid of, and Scarlett Johansson gets paid to portray.

I retrieved my keys, shook them off, and hung them on the hook again, since the door had NOT been locked while I did my run.

No big deal, of course, and hardly worth mentioning.  I mean, you guys know how irritating my imagination can be, what with seeing ghosts while running, crazed hillbillies when staying at the cabin, or imagining that my right hand is a fine, upstanding young lady.*

So, imagine my chagrin today when I went out to get something from the car, and found a squished black widow spider on the cement next to the front door.  I don't know how it could've gotten there, but those kinds of pranks are simply not funny.

Sit-ups Today: 166
Sit-ups In August: 682

Push-ups Today: 29 (see what I'm doing there?)
Push-ups in September: 135

Everybody went to a pond for a picnic today, but I had a Skype call set up for the Dunesteef and didn't go.  When it was done, I felt like writing, so I took my sister's dog to the park, laid down a blanket, and got in a thousand or so words (on the "Dead & Breakfast" story).  I have gotten very close to the climax of the tale, and the hurtle I have to jump is "How could you get someone to come to the bed and breakfast on July 2nd...if they didn't want to come?"  I still don't quite know what the trick will be, but once I know, I--

Oh, it just occurred to me, the entirety of the story is told from Natalie's perspective.  I can't just cut away to this guy's encounter in his motel room for two or three pages of the story.  Dang, am I going to have to have him come down to the lobby, or worse, call her on the phone, to explain what went on?  That sounds like a real amateur move on my part, but it's fairly inevitable.

Unless . . .

Words Today: 1389
Words In September: 6601

*The left hand is just a hand.  What are you, a sicko or something?

Friday, September 04, 2020

September Sweeps - Day 216

It was nearly a hundred degrees again today, but it seems likely today was the last truly hot day of the year.*  Already at night there is more of a chill in the air, and at the cabin this week, I left the windows closed all day and night (it was 49 degrees outside when I woke up yesterday morning, and sure to get colder).

This coming Monday is Labor Day, the last three-day weekend till Columbus Day (if that's even celebrated anymore), and as far as I know, nobody is going to the cabin.  That seems like a tremendous waste.  Of course, having just been there yesterday, I'm not sure I'll drive up either.  If you were with me, I would, just to show you around, though.

Sit-ups Today: 100
In September: 516

Push-ups Today: 28
Push-ups In September: 106

I have very little drive to write tonight, having done my sit-ups, push-ups, and running before I even wrote a word.  I managed 153 words before starting to yawn, and that's a bad sign.

You rang?

I meant to set up my microphone, record a chapter or two, knowing that would gain me a few words (usually only fifty or so), but . . .  I was just too lazy.  Didn't do it.  I wrote two or three paragraphs on my "Dead & Breakfast" story and the same on my "Lara & the Witch" tale, and, well, that was it.  I didn't even go to bed, I just woke up early in the morning to find my lights still on and my laptop on the floor (hopefully I put it there gently, rather than gravity doing so).

Words Today: only 464
Words In September: 5212

*Spoilers: It wasn't.

Thursday, September 03, 2020

September Sweeps - Day 215


I finished the book I was reading yesterday, and was going to start on another one (my mom read everything Harlan Coben has written, so I thought I'd try one myself), but never got to it.  I didn't even take a nap this visit, unlike the other times I've come here (I fully believe it's because I didn't wake up early on Tuesday like I usually do, and my body didn't insist on falling asleep once I'd reached my destination.  But even with that extra hour or so, I didn't manage to record any audio (I'd considered doing an eBay Horror where I read an email from some a-hole I printed out back in November or so).  I didn't finish editing my Patreon address either, and it's the third of September today, so I really should make that a priority.

I read more this trip than the last two.  The Coben book is very readable, for lack of a better word, with a simple, all-too-relatable protagonist, and a couple of movie references to make me feel right at home.  If I really enjoy this book, maybe I'll end up checking out the same books I got for my mom during the pandemic (of course, it might take me the rest of my life to read through the same ones she breezed through in the months before and since the library re-opened).  

I wrote up a paragraph last night summing up how I felt my current story should end.*  I hope that the finish product is good, but I also want it done with so I can move on to the next project (I was thinking of the "Lara and the Witch" story I started earlier this year [where she falls in love with a boy, but can she trust it?], and I really wanted to sit down and work on it, despite being in the middle of a Jimmy Stewart Western on the DVD player.  I love it when I am passionate or excited about a writing project . . . but I fear that the many days in between such passion are what determine a true writer or just a butthole with a pen.

I admire writers who really make a go of it, who are successful and work hard.  I'd like to be one of them.  There are writers, I'm aware, that are successful, and yet are hacks, or lazy, or don't work much, or just got lucky, and I wonder if I'd like to be one of those.  When I read a book that is poorly-written or bloated or full of trite storytelling, I often judge that writer pretty harshly, and it's rare that I'll ever go back to somebody that I get that impression of (despite whatever awards or fanbase they may rack up).  

At the same time, I recognize that not every story I have written has been a good one, that my dialogue isn't always great, that my characters may not be three-dimensional or unique . . . and yet, the writing is still mine, and indicative of my talents as a storyteller.  I don't know if I can mitigate the two viewpoints, except to continue to work hard, and see if there are more good stories than bad ones.  

Sit-ups Today: 166
In September: 416

Push-ups Today: 27
Push-ups In September: 78

I came home at the usual time, but it gets dark earlier, so it seems later.  It's funny that every trip has ended sooner than I wanted it to (that one day notwithstanding), but I guess that's how vacations/weekends/retreats are supposed to work.  I'm just fortunate that I've never come into conflict with another family member that wants to be there on a Wednesday or Thursday (my brother had been there since the last time I had, setting traps and filling up the hummingbird feeder, but nobody else had spent the night).

As I drove past the lake, I pulled over and took this video, hoping you could see the many, many fish jumping and flopping around out there (the center section is the only place now deep enough a fish can survive).  A month from now, they'll all be dead . . . just like you.

Words Today: 2533
Words In September: 4748

*Because neither Natalie Whitmore nor Mason Bradley appeared in the first story I wrote, which takes place on the same second of July as this one (also, Marshal Latham's story, "Till Death Do We Meet," takes place that night), I thought I had to find a way to explain their absence--whether somebody switched shifts with Meeshelle, or Natalie called in sick, or Mason has died, I can't decide.  But I did wonder what would happen if Mrs. Bice, the owner of the bed and breakfast, found out that a clerk (Natalie) told somebody about the hauntings so they would come there that day.  Would she fire Natalie?  Would she make her take the weekend off, as a sort of probation (that happened with me on a job, and sure enough, after the weekend, my probation was made permanent)?  Could the old woman afford to lose any employees on that night, of all nights?  I haven't figured out the answer yet, but I don't suppose anybody would fault me if I just had Mason on lunch break when "True Ghost Encounter" took place.

Wednesday, September 02, 2020

September Sweeps - Day 214

It's Wednesday, and that has meant driving up to the cabin these past few months (give or take one or two).  And hey, I'm happy to do it.  Wouldn't you be?

Yesterday and today were cooler than we've had in the past few days, and it scared me, because it was cold, and that's a reminder that winter is coming, and misery will return, and I don't know if I can handle it, feeling worthless all the time again, regardless of how many sit-ups I did in August or how many miles I ran in July or how many words I wrote in June.

So, I went out to the lake, like I always do, and I tried to find the spot where the water was bubbling up from the ground that I recorded a few seconds of three weeks ago, thinking it was cool enough I could upload ten minutes of it and, I dunno, buy my own home with the proceeds.  But it had all dried up, even the water coming up from the ground (there was still a very small stream--say, one foot wide) coming from the mountains and feeding into the lake, but it will be dried up by the next time I go out there), and in the time that I was looking for the spring, the sun was getting awfully low, so I finally had to run back to where I had parked my car across the lake to get my tripod and lyric sheet.

The rapidly-diminishing lake

Because it was cold, I had grabbed my jacket from the car, but in running all that way, I started getting hot and sweaty, so I took off the jacket and put it on the only landmark I could see in the dried lake bed: a big rock sticking up out of the ground.  Then I made it back to the car--wheezing, since yes, this is over five thousand feet up, elevation-wise--grabbed my tripod, and ran as best I could back to the dried lake, to see if I could find my jacket.

All this was under water in July

Because the sun was now 50% down, and I had mere seconds, I just set up the tripod next to the rock, put my phone on it, and looked over the lyrics one more time to see if I couldn't--

And then my phone fell off the tripod, and guess what it landed, screen-down on?  Yep, the one big rock within five hundred feet.  I didn't even want to get a big phone with a big screen, and now, well, it's got a crack in it from the first time I brought it to the cabin, and and a second crack right in the middle of the screen from this trip to the cabin.  Fun.

There was a guy in a rowboat out in what's left of the lake, and I guess he was fishing, but he just seemed so lonely out there, watching the sun set, that my heart went out to him.  My heart goes out to people, and even six years in the big city didn't stomp it out of me.

So, I was wandering around in what had, just a month ago, been the middle of the lake, and suddenly, I start getting all these alerts on my phone (eBay, Facebook, gmail, Mercari, I think a text from Big), and I was kind of amazed.  I stopped and texted Big and it went right through--I had a 4G signal.  So, I called him up.  And two weeks ago, when I was angry about having to help my uncle move out of his house but nobody would tell me when, it wouldn't let me dial--it said "Emergency Calls Only."  But this call went through and Big answered on the second ring.

Now granted, he could hardly hear me, but I was standing in what would normally be the middle of the lake, and there was a signal strong enough to talk with the guy.  That should mean that I could take a boat out sometime next summer and check Facebook and such in the center of the lake.  I could even check the lyrics of a song instead of cursing myself for forgetting how it goes (like I did today).  I don't know why that excites me, but something has to.

I was listening to Marshal Latham's podcast, and he was talking about his kids going places with him, and that there are times when he just wants to be alone, but he can't be.  And here I am the opposite, though I recognize that part of what's so special about this cabin is that I can come here by myself and think and write and exercise and sing and sleep or stay up, and it's all up to me.  Of course, I'd trade my life for somebody else's in a New York minute, but I also recognize that I am very, very lucky.

Sit-ups Today: 150
Sit-ups In September: 250 

Push-ups Today: 26
Push-ups In September: 51

Words Today: 1102
Words In September: 2215