Saturday, June 29, 2013

Bathroom Monologue: Biograffiti

It's untold true story the author was never privy to. It's what Lincoln told his wife and never told anyone else, and told her with curiously curated story beats and concluded with a great sensitivity to how people would reenact it for a punchy film centuries later. It's what Nixon really regretted. It's what truly tempted Christ last.

It's based on real events you don't know well enough to disbelieve. It's a ghost story, it's a war story, it's a once in a life time love story that will somehow be told in ten different movies this summer by ten different ensembles.

It's bringing history to life. It's exploring the depths of people we never consulted. It's turning text books into coloring books.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Bathroom Monologue: Ghost Culture

I've never enjoyed waking up early. My body just did it to me, as it did a lot of things to me in my childhood, which is why I had to live in the Special Wing. No one else in the bunks was awake, so I sat up and pulled my blanket over my head, turning myself into a human tent. I don't remember when I started doing it, only that from my earliest memories, it felt better than lying in bed. It's like a denial of the day, or at least a stay of execution.

My bunk shifted with as someone else climbed on. I tensed up, afraid an orderly would chastise me for not sleeping, but this girl lifted the foot of my covers. She was no older than I was, with spindly arms and legs and splattered with freckles, and perched there, draping the end of blanket over her head as though mimicking me. Like everything other kids did back then, I thought she was making fun of me, even when she spoke.

"I like playing ghosts, too."

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Super Sweet Blogging Award

My friend Catherine "Ganymeder" Russell bestowed upon me the most colorful blogging award I've seen yet. It's also the most appetizing.

I actually postponed posting about this one until I was allowed to snack. I've been on a strict diet during my editing sprints, but today I got a little candy, and life got a little better.

The rules are fairly standard. Answer five sweet questions, and the pass the hop onto whoever you like. Here we go:

1. Cookies or Cake?
If this counts ice cream cake, then cake. If not, then cookies.

2. Chocolate or Vanilla?
Vanilla is highly underrated, but it's chocolate. It has too many applications independent of ice cream and baking.

3. Favorite Sweet Treat?
Shifts on the mood, definitely. Sometimes I've got to have Reese's Cups, or ice cream cake, or muddy buddies. None of which I'm allowed right now, so I've just made myself miserable!

4. When do you crave sweet things the most?
Usually as I'm passing through a stressful self-regulated activity, like marathon editing. I want that reward, and holding it off is big. Typically I crave that snack more in the throes of the labor than when it's done and I'm allowed it. I also don't often allow it.  Today I'm on my last push on Last House in the Sky, having nearly all the revisions done. I hit my penultimate landmark last night, and am celebrating right now with a couple handfuls of Reese's Pieces.

5. Sweet Nick Name?
Invincible Jello. You'll have to ask my friends why.

My Three Sweet Recipients
-Danielle La Paglia: has put up with so much from me lately, and is generous with digital Fritos.

-Theresa Bazelli: my favor writing baker. I sometimes avoided her blog for fear of the cravings her kitchen photos would give me.

-Chuck Allen: just this week he took to Twitter offering to help any writer who was stuck and needed to talk out problems. That's a sweetheart.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Bathroom Monologue: Cleaning for the Mob

"Months later one of the gals in catering told me that the Black-Ties were only after the Jersey contingent. I'm from Jersey, and so I'm even more grateful to Mike for that day. It eleven in the morning when dozens of men in black ties flooded the compound. The two Jersey boys to my left were down before I recognized the gunshots, and I hit the floor, and Mike grabbed my wrist. He dragged me through halls that stank of gunsmoke and blood, and through two separate firefights. The hairy bastard beat one Black-Tie to death with a mop. A freaking mop.

"We ducked out the side alley and he led me to his compound. There were Black-Ties there, too, but they wouldn't screw with him. Not with any of the hosting contingent. He jammed the mop into my hands and ordered me to clean it off, to ditch my jacket and pretend to clean wherever I was. I think I produced more stains on the floor than I got rid of as all those Black-Ties swarmed through, and Mike and his men corralled them out of the compound. One paused just inches from my face. I think he knew.

"I knew he knew because he drove by the compound that night, while I was wiping down some windows. I couldn't quit the act with Black-Ties in the area – and Mike never pulled me aside to break character. For all I knew, his staff were bugged. I still have the mop from that day – it works wonders on the first floor of the main house, and the kitchens. Other people from the local contingent came through and acted like they didn't recognize me, and even now I don't have the nerve to put down my bucket of suds and say 'Hello.' I'm a maid man."

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Who's Richard Matheson? He Was Legend.

Richard Matheson died yesterday. He was an author far too few people recognize. Many of my age are surprised to learn the same person wrote I Am Legend and What Dreams May Come. He wrote Hell House, one of the most influential ghost stories ever told, and my personal favorite. When you gather up his pseudo-scientific vampires, his new-age Heaven, his house of skeptics chasing ghosts, and add in The Shrinking Man inspiring the film craze of tiny people in peril (it beat Fantastic Voyage by nine years), you begin to realize he kickstarted a great deal of the Science Fiction of the last sixty years.

I Am Legend alone was adapted by Vincent Price (as "The Last Man on Earth"), Charlton Heston (as "The Omega Man") and Will Smith (finally, as "I Am Legend"). If Smith's I Am Legend flick seemed too much like zombie fiction for you, you'll come to realize Matheson not only pushed the modern more secular vampire on us, but a lot of what George Romero pulled out to invent the modern zombie. George Romero says so.

Did you see Real Steel? That was an adaptation of his short story, simply titled "Steel." It had also been adapted for an episode of The Twilight Zone, a show he wrote for frequently. He was often writing the intros Rod Serling's voice made famous. And he's the guy who wrote the gremlin on the wing of a plane that only William Shatner could see.

Do you like old school Star Trek? He wrote for it from the first season, starting with "The Enemy Within." He's the guy who split Kirk into two Good and Evil captains.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Happy Urban Legend 2: Chain Letters

One of the first superstitions of the digital era was the chain letter. An immigrant from the postal service, the superstition came in the form of a letter, and later an e-mail, threatening you to copy the message and send it to several friends. Why you'd do that to a friend has always been a course of mystery, stretching back to the first girl to ever compose a chain e-mail. To be fair, she was dead when she did it.

Anyone who follows the instructions of a chain e-mail is passed over and experiences none of Google's first paranormal agent. Anyone who disregards such an e-mail, though, will be haunted by the ghost of the girl who set the scheme up. She will haunt your inbox for the rest of your life, complimenting your good taste by acting as a secondary spam filter. You will very likely never see another penis enlargement ad that she thinks you don't need.

Skeptics should still be wary, for though disregarding her power has benefits, calling her work a superstition is hazardous. Doing so upsets her ghost and cause her to expose your search history to a loved one. That has never ended well, and ironically, its contents are always passed on by word of mouth.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Lit Corner: Google Reader Retires, What Can Replace It?

As of July 1st, Google will retire its Google Reader program. The Friend Connect and Follower feature on Blogspot blogs will also disappear along with it. It's a favorite widget among Blogspot bloggers; one of the first pieces of encouragement many of us give each other is to click our avatar into place. The connection between the two services has been like a friendlier RSS.

What are you looking for to replace the service? If you're not looking for a Google Reader or Friend Connect replacement, why?

While the Google Friend Connect widget is also like a popularity badge, it never got on my nerves. It was particularly nice to see if other friends liked a blog as well. It seemed like such an efficient way to add something to your feeds, and Google did the legwork for you.

J.A. Bennett pointed me toward Bloglovin, which offers to important all of your Google Reader preferences with a log-in. It's been scoped out and lasted long enough to prove it isn't a scam. Signing up and importing my bookmarks took all of two minutes, and they offer an array of buttons to throw onto your blog so others can follow you. I'm testing one out on the upper right today. How does it look? None are as personal - the counter of followers itself feels more aggrandizing than Friend Connect's tiles of faces.

I picked the pink button because pink is bad ass.

A few articles have buzzed about Feedly playing successor to Google Reader. It seems slightly neater than Bloglovin, and certainly more reminiscent of Reader's presentation. That import jaunt took ten seconds, and it services other kinds of sites too, including Youtube. It's definitely worth having a look as it feels tighter, even though Bloglovin's site is technically more minimalistic.

But neither is as convenient as Reader could be for my routine. When I logged in to make this post, I had Reader set up to show me all the recent posts on my dashboard. It was blogging inlaid with blogging, perfect timing and synchronized. If someone knows how to wedge such functionality back into the program after July 1st using any service, I'll be keenly interested.
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