Saturday, January 31, 2009

Day Twenty: Super Bowl Saturday

Last year was the first year I can remember not having anywhere to watch the Big Game or anybody to watch it with. I was really bummed. Fortunately, it was such a great game that it didn't seem to matter. I had a good feeling about the Giants going in, and lo and behold they pulled it off in dramatic fashion!

This year, I actually have two parties I can go to, and I plan on splitting time between my coworkers' party and my church party. Sort of makes up for last year.

As for the heart with with the Cardinals--I really like Warner and James, and guys like Fitzgerald and Hightower are really growing on me, and I like their up-tempo style of play.

That said, the old mantra of "defense wins championships" really seems to hold true in the NFL, so I have to begrudgingly go with Pittsburgh. Hoping I'm wrong, but then if the Steelers do win their second championship in (I think) 4 years (?), I'll be fine with that. They're not a team I ever particularly root against, and I cheered for them last time they were in the Super Bowl, so I'll sleep just fine no matter who wins.

As usual, I just hope we get a great game. (Though my gut tells me this one may not be close...)

Friday, January 30, 2009

Day Nineteen: If we're gonna make it through this, things are gonna have to change

I hate these evenings when I wait until the very last thing to write something here. Today was a long day (though not as long as it would have been if we had had a 9:30 a.m. show as well as the 11:30 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. shows) and my mind and body are pretty much done. This troubles whatever part of me it is that wants to write, however, whether it be blog posts or stories or plays or emails, because that part of me is currently active and kicking. It wants for me to write about my blogger name (wannabewordslinger) and things that I've learned about myself as an artist over the past year. (Yes, I'm actually to the point where I consider myself an artist, or at least a form of an artist. That's a battle I've been fighting within myself for about eight years, and that'd probably make a good post one day, too)

Thing is, I've sat here and tried to write that entry. Twice, actually. And each time it starts out all right, but by about the third or fourth paragraph I've tangented and I can't for the life of me figure out how to get back to my point.

It's the kind of thing I know I could handle if my brain were firing on all cylinders, but it's just not.

So I'm going to make an effort to start writing earlier in the day when possible (which, admittedly, was not today anyway. But still).

Also, making an effort to get back into Bible study more regularly. My plan is to start in the prophets. Love me some O.T. prophets. Do me a favor and check in on my progress from time to time to make sure I stick with this.

Finally, check out this web site. It'll look awfully familiar if you hung out with me much my junior year of college.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Day Eighteen: "We want 10!"

All right, sports fans. I really dunno what to make of this clip, so somebody tell me:

"We want 10!"


Part of me thinks that that is just not right. Part of me is glad the fans found something to cheer for. Then, of course, there's the fact that it's just kinda funny in that somewhat-painful way.

What do you think?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Day Seventeen: This week in the funny books...

Ah, what to say, what to say...

I would have updated during my lunch break today, but I spent my lunch break going to Bedrock City Comics to catch up on the books I've missed the last couple of weeks, and that ended up taking a bit longer than I thought it would. Then, I had about a week and a half of touring office work to get caught up on (and I'm still not quite there, but I'm confident that by 5:00 tomorrow I'll be back on track).

I went ahead and bought Amazing Spider-Man #583 (or, as most people would know it, the Barack Obama issue). I know I made this big deal two weeks ago about how lame it was that people flocked to this book while meanwhile just a few rows over Batman was (not really) dying, but I've been picking up ASM pretty regularly for the last month or so, and the President is really only in a special story in the lat five pages, and I know that some day this particular book is going to be a collector's item (as opposed to most of the comics I've bought, which most people will never care about), so I picked it up. (Side note: $1.00 more expensive than normal books. Lame.)

Overall, it's kind of a nice issue. I mean, nothing really happens. It's mostly about the relationship between Peter Parker and his friend Betty Brant, and it's a pretty sweet story in all of that. But really, almost no Spidey appearances at all until the "Spidey Meets the President" story at the end. (Which was exceedingly lame; whether you like President Obama or not, this is a really pathetic story, though it's got some nice one-liners and is fine for what it is: a tribute to a man who is a life-long Spider-Man fan and well wishes for the future of the country) All in all, the book seemed like one of those "And now for something completely different" moments in the current story arc.

Other BCC highlights for the week include the new New Avengers book, in which (spoilers!) Luke Cage and Jessica Jones get their baby back from the Skrull who kidnapped her and Luke bashes Bullseye and Venom with a crowbar and breaks his word to join up with Osborn. All in all, one of the biggest cliff-hangers at the end of Secret Invasion is wrapped up with very little pomp and ceremony two NA issues later. A bit confusing, but a good story nevertheless. (end spoilers)

Meanwhile, Avengers: The Initiative continues to be one of the coolest books out there. Very glad I stumbled upon this one during SI.

In other news, The Thing is engaged to a kindergarten teacher, which is good, but Dr. Doom's genocidal mentors are coming to our dimension while the Fantastic Four go to Scotland on vacation, which is bad. Don't worry, though. I'm sure everything will be smooth sailing again before 2010.

I'd like to see a storyline in a couple of years where the super heroes battle the Mayan gods to keep the world from ending in the year 2012.

No, I'm kidding. That would actually be lame.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Day Sixteen: You know who you are. (And now, so does everyone else)

All righty.

It's late (again), so I won't let this get too long (post-post edit: this ends up being not true at all), but tonight was the preview performance (in my mind, the opening) for The Hero Squad vs. The Princess Snatchers. THSvTPS is the first children's play I've ever written (aside from the 10-minute Big Liar, Little Liar, of course) and it's been--as my wife so aptly put it--a dream come true to have the chance to direct its professional debut with such talented actors, staff, and designers who shared a true passion for the piece. I realize that there is a very good chance I'll never get everything stacked in my favor as well as I have for this show, and I am very grateful.

I thought about using today's post to deliver a blow-by-blow recounting of the night's performance and post-show discussion and meet-and-greet, but then I decided this post--and my time--would be better spent recognizing and thanking as many people as I can who've given this show life from its very earliest origin five and a half years ago to where we are today.

Also, I'll cross-post this to Facebook, where some of these people might actually read it ;-)

I'll do the best I can in pseudo-chronological order:

Ms. B--I know I've told you this before, but before working on Robin Hood with you I'd never given TYA a second thought. My, how the times have changed, aye?

Dan H.--Big Liar, Little Liar was actually one of the coolest projects I've ever been involved with. In twenty minutes, I wrote the script. The next day you cast it and rehearsed it, the class made their own costumes, and the next day the show went up for one time and one time only. Watching actors say the words I'd written, even as a bit of a joke, and an entire school full of children respond, was one of the best feelings of my young life that year. Fast-forward a few years, and who's staging the first ever production of Princess Snatchers? Oh, that's right, it's Great Bend High School. I owe you a ton. (And you'll never read this, because you're impossible to get a hold of!!)

Sonia--Remember the two hours we spent building a prosthetic beard before Fall Break? Who'd have thought our conversation about a powerless superheroine with bubbles would end up here?

Travis--Your uncanny impression of an iron lung actually got the Hero Squad started. Also, thanks for always being the Hero Squad's biggest fan.

Josh--The fact you had 3 D's in your last name may have birthed a character, but the Wizard magazines you left around the apartment sparked a fascination in comic books the created a Hero Squad universe.

Susan--By being the polar opposite of an impulsive hockey-loving teenage tomboy, you somehow became the perfect model for one. Go figure that one out.

Lindy--Before I worked with you, the Squad always had a missing piece.

Rex--Ah, Rex, your influence on my choice to pursue playwrighting as more than a hobby is far greater than I'm sure you realize. I've always valued your opinion greatly, so when you sent back the first draft of my first script with such high praise, I started to believe I might really have something there. Not only are you always going to be Nikolai in my mind, the fact that I ever took this thing past a rough draft is probably more your fault than anyone else's.

Holly--You've always encouraged me to write, even when all I was writing was crap.

Sherri--You're the one who's always on my case about what I'm writing lately. Without that, I'd probably have dropped about half the projects I've ended up finishing.

The cast of the GBHS production. 'Nuff said.

Dave--I have absolutely no credentials whatsoever to say I want to write stories, and you'd have had every right to roll your eyes at me when I'd talk about ideas I've had, but you never have. You're probably the first person to make me feel like a writer.

Collin--Thanks for being the Hero Squad's second biggest fan (behind only Travis ;-) and always encouraging me to explore these characters further. And, of course, for nagging Andra 'till she finally read a script, cuz that turned out pretty good for me, too.

Andra--Wow. You took a HUGE risk on me when you staged this project. I'm so glad I got to come see it, because it was awesome. I never heard how it all turned out for you, but I hope your risk was justified.

The cast of the OKCU production--Rachel, Adam, Dan S., Shae, William, Mindy, and people I'm not Facebook friends with. Your show rocked, and your feedback was encouraging to a degree you wouldn't believe.

Jen--You were one of my biggest supporters @ the Players before this script was even seriously in consideration. Thanks for every good vibe you've sent my way over the past year-plus about this show. And you're awesome in it.

Kevin--Ultimately, this was your call, and again, you took a risk for me. Don't think I don't appreciate it.

Everyone at the Players who've supported this in some fashion or another--cast, crew, designers, costumers, randomly encouraging people--I'm very sorry, I can't name you all here. If I haven't already told you in person how much I appreciate what you've done, then I just suck.

And finally, of course, the big ones.

My wife--You're beautiful, I love you, and I love that you are more proud for me about this than I am. Hopefully some day we'll find a way for this writing thing to help pay the bills (and not just keep me up late). You never seemed to mind my late nights at the computer or my hours-long writing sessions. You've always supported me in this way back before we knew anything would ever come of it and back before I knew why it was important to me. You deserve any praise that I do.

And of course, of course, of course, all glory and honor be unto the Lord God, who created creation and creativity, who gave me stories and an innate need to tell them, who led me from the path that I was following--cynicism, self-indulgence, pessimism, probably depression and lifelessness--into a life that is full of joy, creativity, family, and perspective. I love You, and I hope that I don't ever write a story or a show that You don't get a kick out of.

Thanks to all, and now goodnight.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Day Fifteen: I could really use a robot

If I had a housekeeping robot, I could be in bed now. (Well, no I couldn't, because I have to write my blog for the day first, but then I could go to bed)

Really. That's about all I have to say.

My show opens tomorrow. (Technically Wednesday, but to me, an audience is an audience)

You should come. Especially if you're in it.

And bring me a robot. A Rosie or a Chip or a Robby or a Stutterin' Bill (but no Andy's, say thankya). I'll even settle for an animatronic pirate from Disneyland if it'll load the dishwasher for me. Because I'd very much like to go to bed.

Goodnite, blog!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Day Fourteen: Less Talk, More Play!

While I'm sure I could type away for a healthy period of time about something that most likely won't interest you, instead I'll share this little gem with you today:

It's kept me from several hours of sleep (over a span of a couple weeks; nothing too serious) and far too much reading and writing over the past month.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Day Thirteen: Of giant spiders, talking dogs, and other gentle animals

Note: The following entry contains pretty major spoilers for Stephen King's Dark Tower series. If you don't wanna know, then commala-come-back-tomorra!

My quest for The Dark Tower began sometime in early September, I believe, and seven books later I have finally seen the top. (I had to take a few breaks during the course for various reasons, including two one-month long breaks, but I got there!) The experience through Stephen King's seven book fantasy/western/post-apocalypse series was vastly different from the whimsical romp through J. K. Rowling's seven Harry Potter novels, and not just because of all the extra cussing. These books are just a lot harder to read. While Harry's adventures can be raced through in one or two good long sittings, Roland's...can't.

The man 's quest takes a very heavy toll on him every step of the way, and at times it does the same to the reader. I can't say I'd actually recommend it to too many people that I know, but to those whom I would recommend it I'd recommend it most enthusiastically! (Did that make sense?)

Anyway, I read the last 130 or so pages today. Usually I do my reading late at night (sometimes this contributes to what scientists call the "Will-isn't-sleeping-enough effect"), but I wanted to make sure I got through this sucker today so I could move on with my literary life (see: finishing my own novel) before the weekend was up and the Hero Squad consumes all my life again for a couple of days. So, I tried something fairly new: reading during the day time.

This worked really well when Robbie was taking his nap. After he awoke? Well, it was an experience.

This afternoon, as I'm trying to see if I can't at least get to the book's falling action before the NHL All-Star Skills Competition, Robbie is running between Kim and I, trading off our attention. I'm reading while he's playing with Kim, and not when he's crawling on me.

So I get to the point in the story where Roland (our hero/anti-hero) is attacked by an evil spider-monster that is (as best as I can figure) about 20% his son (Long story) while he lay sleeping. Roland's companion Oy the billybumbler (imagine a more intelligent variety of talking dog) attacks the beast, which is obviously killing poor Oy, but the tenacious creature hangs on.

While this is happening, Robbie is coming up to me with a large picture book with cardboard pages and a look that says "please pay attention to me, Daddy" in his eye and says, "Book?"

So of course, I put the Tower aside in my lap and lean forward and take Bendon Bear's Gentle Animals. The first page is about a parrot, and how their beaks are strong enough to break fingers. Nice, gentle animal. We go on to read about kittens, puppies, penguins, seals, dolphins, and ducks, and then Robbie, satisfied, goes on his way.

Back to the battle with the evil demon spider boy.


And the bumbler could have escaped had he chosen to, but instead it sank its razor-sharp teeth again
"Parrots have strong, sharp beaks which they use to break nuts. Be careful, Bendon! Don't get too close!"
into the black, hairy flesh where one of the legs joined the repulsive body
"Kittens like to play with yarn. Look, Bendon has their favorite toy!"
...And Roland loaded his gun as Oy's back bent a direction it wasn't meant to go
"Puppies like to take naps. Shh, Bendon! They're sleeping!"
And Roland fired six shots...

Et cetera, et cetera.

By the way, by the time we got to the penguin, Robbie was bored of the gentle animals and had toddled back into the kitchen. Still, I can't help but feel all the emotional impact of poor Oy's sacrifice could be fully felt in the absurdity of the moment.

Then again, I've always been a sucker for absurd moments. So those of you with children can understand why the entire parenting experience has been so appealing to me ;-)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Day Twelve: I can almost smell the roses...

I'm spent. Need to sleep more than 5 hours tonight for the first time all week.

Need to get up in plenty of time for rehearsal tomorrow morning.

Need to finish The Dark Tower this weekend. So very close...

Actually (and this'll probably only be amusing to people who've read the series) I did notice the other day that my watch appears to be slowing down by just a few minutes every couple of days.


Anyway, The Hero Squad vs. The Princess Snatchers opens at our childrens' theatre next Tuesday night. (Technically next Wednesday morning) I think it's going really well. My cast is doing a phenomenal job, whether they realize it or not. The tech looks good, it just needs the next few run-throughs to get everything on the same page. The ticket sales are better than I had expected them to be, though they've still got quite a way to go before we'd consider them "good." Some really unique opportunities are coming up in terms of promotion. Really, I'm just looking forward to getting the childrens' reactions. Always makes the sleeplessness and all the other unpleasant things in the show-building process totally worth it.

In related news, I have to write a paragraph for Eldridge about Why the Bells Chimed for their catalogue. Now I understand why every play you read about in such catalogues sound like the best thing ever. I hadn't realized that the playwrights themselves wrote the descriptions. Words like "stunning," "original," "breathtaking," "innovative," and "touching" are frequently thrown together with reckless abandon, leaving no doubt that the play being described was, in fact, snubbed by the Pulitzer committee.

I think I should try to use all those words in the opening sentence, with a "poignant" and a "masterful" thrown in for good measure.

P.S. Definitions for "poignant": "pungently pervasive," "painfully affecting the feelings," "deeply affecting," "designed to make an impression," and "pleasurably stimulating."

The same word means "painfully affecting the feelings" and "pleasurably stimulating"???

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Day Eleven: No short jokes, please

Another short entry. Hey, sometimes, that's what you get.

Heck, sometimes, that's all you DESERVE!!
*one-eyebrow raised glare of knowing disapproval*

Haven't been in to my office since Monday. Been in rehearsals every morning and tech rehearsals every afternoon, and so I've just stayed at the Rotunda (our childrens' theater) for my lunch break. It's been kind of nice to only have my show going on, but I'm a bit concerned there'll be a list of things a few miles long to get done at my other part of my job when I get back to it.

Well, we'll find out. I actually have about an hour tomorrow where I'm not scheduled to be anywhere, so as long as our acting class doesn't run long (meh......) I should at least get a good view of what needs to get done next Monday.

Blah. Still have my class on Monday afternoon to prep for...

Incidentally, I do love my job, even when it won't let me sleep :-D

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Day Ten: Make a wish!

Right in the middle of tech week for The Hero Squad vs. The Princess Snatchers. I've still got a couple hours of work left to do before I can go to bed, and last night I slept four hours, so I'm a bit drained right now.

I will share this story from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. I believe this is what you would classify as one of those "feel-good" stories, and really, couldn't we all afford to feel good every now and again?


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Day Nine: The Plum Story

Every Tuesday morning, we have a company prayer and Bible study time. This morning, I arrived a bit early and was hanging around, talking to folks. At one point I was sitting on the stage eating a Kolache (and man oh man, if you don't know what those are, you are missing out) while setting my Bible, notes from yesterday's rehearsal, and a plum to the side. Then, I decide I need a second cup of coffee, so I grab my stuff and go out to the lobby.

Fast-forward about forty minutes. We've (abruptly) transitioned from our prayer time to our Bible study time, and for the first time in months our Artistic Director and founder has returned to our Tuesday morning to lead our Bible study. (Oddly, it sounded almost identical to the Bible study I led last time I led the group a couple of months ago. Crazy coincidence!)

Not long into her address (because there's usually an address before the study), I see a wadded up paper towel on the stage left side of the podium.

Here, then, is an outline of my thought process for roughly the entire Bible study period:

What's that trash on the stage?
It looks tacky.
Oh crap, I think it's mine. From my plum.
Wait a second...did I eat my plum this morning?
I think I had intended to at one point...
It doesn't
seem as if I've had plum yet today...
All right, I'm pretty sure I didn't eat my plum.
Is my plum still in that paper towel? I can't see it.
It's hard to tell if it's plum-shaped or just wadded.
Okay, I think it's still in there.
Yep. There's my plum. Sitting on a bare stage for everyone to wonder about while Mrs. George is teaching from Habakuk.
I'll have to grab it as soon as the study is over.
Dang it, now I really want that plum. It sounds really tasty.
I sure hope nobody grabs my plum before I can get to it after Bible study.
Someone's going to make a run for it. I just know it.
Okay, as soon as we're done, I'm headed
straight for that stage.
Darn it all, now I'm hungry.

Or something like that. Anyway, it was clearly a highly spiritual Bible study time for me this morning.

Oh well. As I said above, it's not like I hadn't already taught that particular lesson recently.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Day Eight: What? Werewolves???

Okay, I'll expand a bit on the last quote from yesterday's post.

I'm writing a fantasy novel. That much I pretty much made clear, I think. I began it about a year ago in play script format. I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted this story to be, what I wanted it to say, and where it was going. I stumbled out of the game a couple of times, but eventually I got a good, strong script going. Then, about halfway through, I stalled. I still knew what I wanted to happen next, but it wasn't going too smoothly.

Along came NaNoWriMo, and I thought that would be an excellent motivation to plow through and get this thing finished. I re-started my story in novel format and gave myself the added motivation that the finished product would be written for my wife, given to her on December 25th.

As I went along treading the familiar territory that I'd covered once before as a script, I came to a point where I decided to make a little change. See, I'd revealed my main antagonist fairly early on in the play script, and I thought it would add a bit of drama and mystery if I either left that reveal for later or even changed my antagonist completely, so in his place I inserted some werewolves.

And then things got out of hand.

The werewolves were meant to play a large part in the first half of the story and then be finished, but that didn't work. The further in I got, the more involved in my plot they got. Further, their very presence made the story itself a bit darker than when it had been a play. At one point, it was a children's story, then a family entertainment. But these creatures had a different nature than anything I'd written before, and they started to get a tad frightening in places.

Soon, I'd come to the point in the story where I'd originally intended to release these characters from my narrative--remember, they hadn't even existed in my first plans for this story--but it no longer worked the way I'd envisioned it. Instead of wrapping up the werewolf angle, I intensified it. They were no longer a threat that I could so easily dismiss. In a way, the whole of the story had temporarily become about dealing with the werewolf problem.

I don't really even like werewolves!!!

That said, I'm very happy with where this story is. My wife has read up to what was finished, and she likes it. My test audience (wink, wink, you know who you are!) has liked it, too. The werewolves may have completely taken over my vision for this story, but I believe it is a better work because of it, so I can handle that.

Anyway, last night I finally wrapped up the werewolf arc of this novel. I'm very close to the end now. As I look forward to what is left, I realize that it is very similar to my original intention, back when it was going to be a short play for children.

I'm encouraged. I'm excited about the ending. I'm excited about getting it out to friends and read. I'm even excited about the rewrite, though I know that won't even begin for several months.

But if I write another of these books--and mind I do have an idea for a sequel--I swear: There. Will. Be. Absolutely. No. Werewolves.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Day Seven: We love tha moon, coz it is close to us...

I have two plays that I want to write (well, one is a re-write, and one is just something I feel I need to get done soon), but they will have to wait.

See, my novel isn't finished yet. I had planned to write it and give it to Kim as a Christmas present, but I didn't quite have it done by December 25th. I got about 75% of the way through, about 58,000 words in, and that was quite an accomplishment (for me, anyway), but I still had to give Kim an unfinished book.

Well, it's time to wrap it up. I've got everything set in motion to take me to the end, and I should be able to get it done by February if I stick to it. Which I'd really like to because a) Kim wants to know what happens next, b) I want to be finished with the rough draft of this project, and c) I really want to get back to playwrighting, which comes far more naturally to me. But I will embark on no new writing tasks until I get Gab and his friends out of this confounded forest.

"Huh! I think that's when I lost control of this story?"
*laughing* "When the werewolves took over?"
--Kim and I talking about the book on the way to church this morning

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Day Six: Burger Time!!

Burger King says I can have it my way. Well, that may be so, but I'm still paying for it as if I had it Jake's way.

See, I don't like too much on my sandwiches, whether they be burgers, chicken, fish, or whatever other manor of foodstuffs you'd purchase from any fast food establishment. Generally, I'll get a burger with cheese and lettuce, and that's it. (I'm not nearly as picky about this at Tarvis is, but a stray onion can really ruin a good burger in my opinion!) Yet my burger, light on ingredients but heavy on good old beefy integrity, costs the same as the guy next in line who got the meat patty with cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, ketchup, mustard, pickle, more mustard, and very likely horseradish. Hey, that guy got two mustards! I basically let him have mine and paid for it anyway!

So here's an idea I had back when I was a kid: everybody starts at scratch: $0.00. That's if you buy nothing. (Which really, then why are you at the restaurant to begin with?) Then, each beef patty costs exactly the same. Let's say $1.00 for argument's sake. The bun costs a bit to make as well, maybe another $0.27, and if you'd like it lightly toasted that's another $0.03. So everybody pays a basic $1.30 for a plain hamburger with a lightly-buttered bun. Then, you can add whatever the heck you want to it, but you pay for every little bit as it comes. The cost of the amount of whatever it is you're putting on your burger would be almost inconsequential, of course, so it's not like a burger with "the works" is going to run you $8.50 or anything like that (unless, of course, you're at Becks' Prime, in which case it is worth it), so the difference between my sandwich and yours will probably never top more than a dollar, but those dollars add up after awhile! It could be figured to the point where a burger with everything tops out at whatever the cost of a burger with everything is now, under the insufficient and corrupt "we'll make the poor allergic-to-tomatoes people pay for everyone else's ketchup" system.

Admittedly, the costs of some of these things would probably have to be levied just a bit, since if they kept the cost of "the works" the exact same as it is now and charged the rest of us less for every ingredient they are saving, they may end up a bit behind in overall profits, and I understand not wanting to lose profits, especially this day in age. Still, whatever increase would exist would still be pretty minimal, and I'm sure that over enough hours of hard negotiations a system could be developed that saw each of us paying for what food we eat and not for that which we will NEVER eat because it may kill us.

Or just ruin a perfectly good burger.

(Incidentally, does anyone remember the old Nintendo game "Burger Time"? Was there a story involved, or were we just crushing our enemies using gigantic hamburger parts?)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Day Five: "Sometimes you're just really cool!"

So often we get these little blessings that are completely irrelevant to the grand scheme of things, and we really wouldn't miss them if they weren't there, but we get them anyway. I use these things as a constant reminder that God cares about little things as well as huge ones, and sometimes He's not adverse to us having a little bit of fun now and again.

Today's example: I bought lunch today for the entire cast of my show (all told, about 10 people). They have been busting their tails for me for the past two weeks, and it's been the end of a particularly physically-draining couple of rehearsals, so I really wanted to do something for them to say that I appreciate their work. Because giving gifts is my "love language," this urge was bound to manifest itself in the form of food, and because pizza has always seemed like an awesome weekend food, I sprang for pizza for everyone. And it was good.

Due to the lack of sleep for the past week--which, in truth, is only half young Robert's fault, A.J. ;-)--I've been particularly worn down much of the last couple of days and was feeling the need for something fun for myself. Our local minor-league hockey team, the Aeros, was back in town after having played eight games on the road, and I though briefly this afternoon how great it would be to go to the game tonite. "But," I reminded myself, "you just sprang for pizza for ten people and bought theatre tickets for you and the wife this weekend. Probably not a good idea to spend anymore 'fun money' for awhile." And thus, with only a little amount of grumbling, I gave up the idea of catching the Aeros tonite.

About ten minutes later, I check my email and open the game-day message I subscribe to from the team. Turns out, tonite's game was picked up by the local FOX Sports station. Now, you have to understand that FOX rarely if ever televises minor-league hockey, especially in this market, and especially home games. Nevertheless, there it was.

So, while it wasn't a huge deal, it was nice to get to catch my home team playing while relaxin' in my own living room after the wife went to bed early and the boy conveniently waited until the first intermission to get sleepy.

Again, not a huge deal, but I appreciated it nonetheless. :-)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Day Four: Less is NOT more...

Three hours of sleep last night. Brutal.

Two rehearsals today on three hours of sleep. I felt sorry for my actors in the Hero Squad rehearsal because, well, today was some pretty dang hard work for them. I'm so proud of this cast. They have been pouring their everything into this show for the past two weeks, and I think it'll really pay off when we open on the 28th.

I also felt sorry for my Secret Identity cast, not because I worked them particularly hard, but because by the end of the day I was a little bit delirious by the end of the day. I know some of my notes were completely off-the-wall, but eh. I was amusing myself.

To do tonite: Copy epic battle music to CD for each of the actors in Hero Squad.

To do very soon: revisions to Why the Bells Chimed script so it can go off to get published, finish The Dragon Wakes so Kim doesn't have to wonder what happens next, and rewrite The Girl Who Wore Golden Clothes so's I can get a reading done of it and possibly see if I can find someone who may want to write some music for it.

But first, the CD's. And then, sleep. If I'm lucky, more than three hours of it.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Day Three: R.I.P., Batman (Updated!!)

****NOTE: The entire following post contains MASSIVE spoilers for the recently-completed "Batman R.I.P." storyline and the ongoing "Batman: Last Rites" and "Final Crisis" storylines. So if you don't wanna know, turn back now!!!!*****

So, Batman is dead. I suppose it was a logical conclusion to the last couple months' worth of Batman comics, which fell under the title of Batman R.I.P., and the current mega-event in DC Comics, Final Crisis, which from the beginning carried the tag line "Heroes die. Legends live forever." Also, Bats has done fairly well for himself in terms of comic book deaths. Marvel's dumping of Captain America a couple of years ago was fairly unceremonious. Even this Crisis has been a bit unfair to a DC champion or two. (Whither, Martian Manhunter?)

That said, sticking Batman's demise in this huge ultra all-encompassing DC multiverse nightmare kinda seemed to lessen the significance. I mean, come on, Bruce Wayne, a man who somehow managed to last longer than Superman, a couple of Flashes, who knows how many Green Lanterns, etc, died confronting one of the DC Universe's major baddies, and the biggest headline this comic book Wednesday was a cameo by President-Elect Obama in The Amazing Spider Man. Qua???

Here's a very quick and insufficient run-through of Batman's last couple o' adventures. (I didn't read every book along the way, but I've followed pretty close through message boards and such and let me tell you, this was one convoluted way to get to where we are today)

First came the storyline Batman R.I.P. It ran primarily in Batman's solo title. The promise was for a shocking ending that would shake Bruce Wayne's world to the core and set the stage for the man's final curtain call, which would come in issue #6 of Final Crisis, DC's summer event which has been hammered sales-wise by Marvel's major summer event, Secret Invasion.

The gist of R.I.P.: a mysterious new enemy threatens to destroy Batman from the inside: emotionally, psychologically, and finally physically. The identity of Bruce Wayne's true father is called into question (was the butler Alfred having an affair with Mrs. Wayne?) as was the nature of the murder of Bruce's parents (Did Mr. Wayne set up the hit to take care of his adulterous wife???) which lead the young lad down the dark path that would lead to becoming the Dark Knight. Lots of crazy stuff happens, villains get involved, former-Robin Nightwing gets thrown into Arkham Assylum at some point for some reason, current Robin Tim Drake and second Robin, the ressurrected Jason Todd, do some stuff. Eventually Batman goes insane, but it's okay because he's created a backup personality to take charge in case Bruce Wayne ever goes insane, so this new personality controls Batman for awhile till Bruce regains control, and eventually Bats confronts this new cadre of evil folks until he and the story's main antagonist disappear following a helecopter crash. Then, no one hears from Bruce or Batman for a couple of months, and all of Bats' friends at home are very sad.

Fastforward to Final Crisis, which apparently somehow ties into all of that: Batman goes to investigate the murder of one of the new gods (sorry, you're on your own. This blog could get waay too long waay too fast) and eventually fights an evil new god who captures him and sends him...somewhere. We find out where if we pick up a couple of Last Rites books back in Batman's solo title: the bad guys have created a clone army of super soldiers (not the Marvel type) and are attempting to steal Batman's psychosis to insert into these clones so that they'll have an army of Batmen essentially. From within his subconscious, Bruce figures out that something's up, and he begins to fight back, driving the clones insane and causing them to start destroying themselves. He eventually breaks out of the mind trap and escapes his captors.

Then we go back to Final Crisis #6, where Bats is the first of DC's big three (Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman) to actually do something constructive in this event's main story. While Bats has been captive, Supes is off doing something else, and WW (not to mention a whole bunch of other DC heroes and heroines) has been transformed into a slave of evil along with over half the world's population, Darkseid (one of DC's heavy hitters; by this point the guy's just a bit short of true deity status) has taken over the world, and the fabric of the multiverse (which is reality itself) is starting to tear apart.

Enter the Bat.

Batman makes his way to Darkseid's private chamber stealthily. Of course, Darkseid knows he's there, because he's Darseid, and they chat for a bit. Batman tells Darkseid that he once took a solemn vow against firearms that he's kept his entire life, but for Darkseid he was prepared to make a once-in-a-lifetime exception. He then reveals he's kept the bullet that Darkseid's lackeys used to kill the new god Orion two paragraphs above this one, and that it's the only thing in existence that can kill a new god (in this case, Darkseid). Mr. Evil Incarnate asks Bats if he thinks he can outrun the Omega blasts that he will fire upon the Caped Crusader should he attempt to fire, to which Batman replies "Try me." Bats fires, Darkseid fires, the bullet goes through Darkseid's chest. Batman smiles. "Gotcha," he says, just before Darkseid's Omega Beams absolutely wreck him.

And then Superman gets back from wherever he was and doing whatever else he was doing, and he starts wrecking stuff, because he's ticked off. The last panel of the book is Superman looking righteously peeved holding Batman's mangled corpse, half the flesh melted from his face.

It's reminiscent of Supes' mourning of Supergirl's death in Crisis on Infinite Earths, if anyone cares.

So, there we have it. Batman appears to be dead. And it was foretold long ago that this would happen, only the brain trust at DC said that Bruce Wayne wouldn't actually die, but that what they had in mind for him was actually "a fate worse than death," so I leave the door open that somehow Bruce isn't actually truly physically dead (enter snarky comments about people staying dead in comic books here, but then remember that the original Flash was out for almost thirty years following Infinite Earths and the fact that most resurrected characters have some superhuman element to them; Batman does not), so this does come as a bit of a surprise. That could have been what they were going for when they said they weren't killing him.

So after digesting this for awhile, here's what I've come up with: Batman probably shouldn't have lived this long. He's got this knack for surviving things he probably shouldn't have, but that's always been a part of the Batman mystique. He was always ultimately prepared for anything that could be thrown at him. (Hence the backup personality in R.I.P.) That said, he's way out of his league when taking on a foe like Darkseid one-on-one. Darkseid is a guy who can stand toe-to-toe with Sueprman. How awesome, then, that if Bruce is going to go out, it's taking Big Nasty down with him. I like it.

That is, of course, assuming that Darkseid is actually dead. If not, this becomes a heinous and pointless death, at least from a story-telling perspective.

I think DC botched the handling of this. How is it that newspapers across the country announced when Marvel killed Captain America unceremoniously in his own book; this, what is supposed to the biggest even in DC history, features the death of the biggest icon to fall since Superman, yet nobody knew it was happening except comic fans. Part of that is Marvel's fault for putting the world's biggest celebrity in five pages of Spidey's book (hm, think that was on purpose??) which reportedly had people lining up around the block of comic stores around the country to get their hands on. (Glad I was too busy with K3 stuff to get out to Bedrock City today)

But part of it is, this story just wasn't handled well. And, I don't get at all what the point of R.I.P. was. It seems to have had nothing to do with the actual story of Batman's demise. Heck, by the end of R.I.P. nobody's entirely sure exactly what happened to Batman. And we're not really sure how he got back before going off to join the Crisis fracas.

Are you confused? That's probably good. A lot about this entire ordeal didn't make too much sense, and I don't think it had the impact that it probably should have. Unless of course they're going to say he's not really dead, or Darkseid isn't really dead, or some other cop-out. In which case, there was tons of confusing build up for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

Oh, and finally, don't worry, Bat-fans. There will be a new Dark Knight of Gotham. Who it will be is yet to be seen in--you guessed it!--another DC Comics event spanning three or four different titles under the banner of "Battle for the Cowl." I think it'll be a cool story; really, though, I don't have the money to buy four titles' worth of comics till this whole thing gets staightened out. My money's on Dick Grayson, formerly Robin, recenlty Nightwing, to be the new Batman. But they'll probably go with someone more obscure and hardcore.

But for tonite, rest in peace, Bats. You done good.


Got this from Comic Book Resources' review of the issue.

"You can step off your ledges, though, folks. Anyone who’s read “Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle” #4 knows exactly what’s been done to Batman at the close of the issue. He’s caught in the Death Trap, the Omega Sanction. It won’t be easy to escape, but sheesh, if Shilo Norman could do it, Bruce Wayne should have no problem at all."

So there. I guess Batman isn't dead dead, and maybe this fits the "fate worse than death" description. To be fair, I haven't read "Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle," so I'll have to turn to good old Wikipedia to find out what the hey they're talking about here, but there. Surprised no one on the forums caught that yet!

That said, I'm probably happier with him being dead than that. Like I said, I think it kinda cheapens the whole thing, but...meh. Long enough blog already.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Day Two: what?


Well here's an interesting question. What is the first step one takes after making the bold proclamation that one will post something new on one's blog every day for the next year? It's kind of a new and exciting and challenging premise, and one is liable to believe that it warrants something equally inventive and interesting in follow-up.

Truth is, one is probably too tired to process much in the way of coherent thought because one couldn't fall asleep until around two this morning, despite originally crashing in bed dead-tired before the clock had struck eleven. (At least one got a good chapter-and-a-half of Dark Tower read while trying to fall asleep) Compounding this difficulty is that one had to get up early to take the baby to the sitter because one's wife had to be at work at six this morning to run an experiment or something.

Understandably, one and one's wife are very, very tired tonite. And still dishes to do, lines to learn (Kim=you don't know your lines already? Didn't you write them? Me=Yes, but unfortunately I don't memorize as I write. Must have gotten lost at some point in the past three years of edits and rewrites), and Wal-Mart to visit. And probably a shower to take.

Not in that order, I'm sure.

The next couple of days will be run on a similar schedule. I have rehearsals every morning this week, and an afternoon rehearsal on Thursday. I may invest in some of those Homer Simpson, "Looks-like-my-eyes-are-open-but-I'm-really-sleeping" glasses and take a nap during that rehearsal.

No, I'm joking.


Monday, January 12, 2009

Day One: 365

So here's the dealio.

I have several wonderfully creative friends who have embarked on a photographic adventure known as 365. The premise is pretty simple; you take a picture of yourself doing something different every day for one year. (Or yourself and your spouse, or your dog, or your kid, or your Wii. It's adaptable) It's serious fun to check in on what these friends think of to do each day. Kind of gives you a little something to look forward to in your late-night, can't-sleep Web surfing. (Whether or not your favorite online comic always updates on time, at least you know you have new pictures to look at on flickr!)

I've thought about doing a 365, and I may still try one with my son as the object for all the grandparents and aunts that are constantly clamoring for more visual evidence that the child is, in fact, adorable and growing. On the whole, however, I feel that my 365 is already destined to fail because, well, I'm just not that creative, nor am I very good with a camera, nor do we have a very good camera.

So I'm all, hm, what is it that I do that would be fun forced creativity that I may actually keep up with and/or not fail miserably at? And then it hit me: I can write drivel on a blog like the rest of the Internet! Score!

Here, then, we are. Day one of three-hundred sixty-five blog posts. I don't expect many (or any) of them to be terribly long. I may write a bit of a story, or I may just comment on something that's happened that day, or I just post a link to a youtube video with some snarky comment. Heck, this might be the perfect time to try out a new limerick or two! Who knows??? Call it a resolution if you like; more likely, I view it as a creative exercise, and if I manage to be mildly amusing from time to time, well, all the better.

Drop by from time to time. Leave me a note to let me know you're out there.