Monday, January 11, 2010

Day Three-Hundred Sixty-Five: Wannabe Wordslinger

Brothers in our mischief and our misery...

Welcome to the end, my friends.

This is kinda ridiculous in a lot of ways. I'm not really saying goodbye to anybody; heck, if you read this blog, there's a great chance I talk to you regularly, possibly daily. And it isn't as though I'm done blogging forever, either. Yet, it feels like we're at the end of something, and it feels as though it was something significant, and no matter how many 365 blogs I do in my life, none of them will be this one. I'll never be the same blogger I have been for this past year, the newness will never be there again, the ambition of it may never be duplicated. For "At Least I'm Not Like All Those Other Old Guys", we have, in fact, come to the end.

Naturally, I went back the other day and started reading the old entries, starting with Day 1. I haven't read them all the way to the end yet, but I've got a pretty good start. I've discovered something rather unexpected about this project in that time:

This thing is kinda awesome.

I mean yeah, there have definitely been days when, from an entertainment/enlightenment standpoint, it would likely have been better for me just to have said noting at all. But on the whole, I think there's been some dang interesting reading going on here. Furthermore, I've come to realize that my life is actually kind of funny. And I don't mean to say that I am necessarily very funny, but the situations, the anecdotes, and ESPECIALLY the people in my life are, as an old college friend would say, a real kick in the pants. And I love, love, LOVE some of the "discussions" we had going on in the comments section.

My favorite thus far relates to a post back in March where Kim's car started smoking profusely and trying to suffocate me as I tried to get it back home in time for the Hero Squad cast party that Kim had just baked a three-layer chocolate cake for. (The post ended with my call for the occasional ride to or from work, the Yo, or the grocery store) The comments read as follows:

Dave said...
Re: Rides. Let me know if i can help.

Re: hanging out. Wednesday? Check with Tarvis. And, as it seems travel is difficult, i'll drive to you.
March 2, 2009 10:24 PM

Sherri said...
That's so crazy! I'm glad everyone's okay and you at least made it into the parking lot. Wow.
March 3, 2009 10:39 AM

Tarvis said...
Wednesday's good for me!

Also, as long as you give me some advance warning, I can give rides. Keep in mind, though, that I will generally be going out to the shop in the morning, and so would have to get you to Saint Street early enough to drive out to the shop by 9 afterwards.
March 3, 2009 12:47 PM

Dave said...
i JUST got that the title was an OT reference.

(it was, right? if not...nevermind.)
March 3, 2009 2:20 PM

will said...
YES!! And, Dave officially wins Day 50 of ALINLATOOG! (Man, Dave's blog also works better as an acronym than does mine...)
March 3, 2009 2:57 PM

Kim said...
For the record, it was a 4 layer cake.
March 4, 2009 8:33 AM

I mean come on. That's fantastic. And that's almost exactly how a conversation between the five of us would go in real life.

I'm also occasionally amused by the things I probably wouldn't have said normally, but found myself publishing anyway because it was 1 a.m. or later and I had to write something. For example, I once called Bush Intercontinental Airport the "Woolly Mammoth of Houston Airports." I'm really not even sure what that means anymore.

The one and only Random Nintendo Game of the Week that I did? One of my favorite posts ever. There is a thread I hope to pick back up again soon.

Now, when I kicked this sucker off, I compared it to the wildly successful and inventive 365 photo projects several of my friends were doing. I said that I didn't do pictures, but I did dabble in words, so I was going to go with that. And when I hit "publish post" at the bottom of this screen, I'll have officially succeeded in that task, missing only 2 days (both of which I posted first thing the following morning, and only one of which I 'fessed up to. Shocking revelation!), and I believe, on the whole, the quality of writing toward the end of this project is at least slightly better than the quality at the beginning. That was one of the goals, I guess.

Now, what of the Wannabe Wordslinger?

I meant to blog on the origin of this particular title several times during the year, but I never did. I think now's an appropriate time to go into it. When I started this blog, I was deep into reading Stephen King's The Dark Tower series. (This will be mildly spoilerish, but I wouldn't worry about it) A lot of earlier posts refer to this, and I kept it as a reference points throughout the year, though obviously most of you probably didn't catch the references. The protagonist of this epic post-Apocalyptic western fantasy series was Roland Deschain, the last gunslinger. (Imagine a code of ethics in the Wild West that hearken back to the days of the Knights of the Round Table) Roland's quest is to save reality itself by getting to the Dark Tower, which binds the fabric of the universes together. (Long story) In part of Roland's journey, he and one of his companions passes from his world into our world where they meet the author of The Dark Tower, Mr. Stephen King himself. Potentially really hokey, but I thought it worked in this particular story. Mr. King's writing of the story became an element of the story in a chicken-or-the-egg-type philosophical quandary that was best left without too much heavy dwelling upon. At the end of their first encounter, Roland and Eddie leave a young, reckless, irresponsible King with the task of finishing the tale of the gunslinger's quest. As they leave, Eddie calls out "Hile, Wordslinger," to King. I liked the phrase, as I thought it really pointed out the power of the written word and of a well-crafted tale. Stories can be weapons--or better yet, tools, and the writer is the one who wields the tools to shape...what? It wasn't a completed thought for me at the time, and I've always had a habbit of taking analogies so far that I no longer find them applicable, but I still liked it, and so I kept it.

As for the "Wannabe" part...well, that's what I believed myself to be exactly one year ago. I had a play that I'd written that I'd gotten a couple of friends to produce in a couple of states, and I had just over half a novel I was writing as a gift for my wife, and a couple of other projects under my belt, but I still thought of myself as a "fake" writer. This is a problem I've often had with myself; I look to others who are more disciplined or skilled or passionate (or arrogant) about something I do, and I decide I don't stack up to them. They're the real deal, and I'm perpetually aspiring. Lots of people have written novels; that doesn't mean lots of people are really real writers. Lots of people have had plays produced; that doesn't make them really real playwrights. To me, to be an artist and to create art are not necessarily the same thing. I know a lot of people disagree with me on that, but for me to identify myself as something, it requires more than a passing interest or a level of success. I don't consider myself a Christian because I have Christian tendencies; I am a Christian because I belong to Christ. I don't consider myself a singer just because I sing with just about every song in the car on the way to and from work, sometimes even in front of company. I can sing, but I am not "a singer."

So, I went into this year not willing to call myself a writer, because I had just come by it recently and, honestly, fairly easily. I knew a lot of guys and gals who'd given a lot more sweat and tears and commitment who'd earned the title of Wordslinger, and I hadn't earned anything.

Then we took this little journey together, and some important things happened (some related to the blog, some not)

I had a play published.
I had another play rejected.
I had a third play almost published, but the publisher didn't have space for it and wished they'd gotten a hold of it sooner.
I had two wildly successful productions of my scripts.
I wrote a novel.
People read my novel. And they liked it.
Finally, I sat down, for the first time, and wrote out my professional history. I went to great lengths to write down where I've come from, how I got to where I am today, and what God was doing behind the scenes all that time. It was a long series of posts, but it pretty much boils down to this: I'd been acting since I was ten, and then almost non-stop until I graduated college. College had been a really frustrating time, and I lost a lot of my passion for art and theatre and came to Houston because I had no other options, career-wise. And I still enjoyed theatre, but my time in undergrad had taken most of my passion. I didn't feel like I fit in anywhere any longer, at least not in theatre, but I had a job, and I was glad to still be involved.

And then I wrote a play, and everything changed.

A little to saccharine sweet? Well, that's how it happened, more or less. And an old friend produced my play at his high school. I have the VHS, if anybody's that interested ;-) I saw my story come to life, and I heard the reactions from the kids (who, I hear from my friend at that school, are now his students, and they still talk about that show to this day). I got a little bolder. I submitted a script of mine for this company, and we toured it one Christmas. The testimonies I heard were incredible. God used that story to touch so many people who were hurting and lonely, in spite of the harsh criticisms I received from my boss. And it's hard to explain exactly how it happened, but I started to discover my passion in a place I'd have never suspected it.

I never thought I wanted to be a writer until my stories started touching lives. And when I started to love it, started to want it, it was a little scary. An artist puts himself (or herself) on the line, emotionally, every time he pours his heart into a project. I hadn't really done that artistically in years, and the last time I'd been passionate about theatre, it had burned me. I also know that the writer gets burned a LOT the more serious he (or she) gets about it. So take that, plus my previously discussed inclinations toward selling myself short, and I just couldn't see myself as a writer. I didn't belong.

But I wanted to, and that was sorta scary.

But this past year, both directly and indirectly through this project, I've decided that the time for me to be afraid is done. The time for doubt is back there somewhere. I've been confirmed many times over in these relatively friendly waters, and I know it hasn't been kissing up. I know that God has rendered me able to be a writer. And I know that, when He gives gifts, He wants to bless them in His way.

I can craft a good story. And I can create good characters. Those are my strengths. I've got some weaknesses, too, and those I can work on. And I will probably never come close to crafting a Pulitzer-winner. But when all is said and done, I can give you an entertaining read or a good, solid, one-act children's play. And what's more, it's something I need. I need to share my stories, because stories are the wordslinger's tools. What do they shape?

Lives. Stories shape lives. And, no matter how large my stage is, that's my place. I need to be a storyteller because I'm good at it. And I need to be a storyteller because it makes me happy.

You have no idea how difficult these admissions have been for me to come to grips with, let alone admit, let alone put into print. For me, I've always thought to say such things would be great arrogance on my part. But you know what? Screw it.

Wannabe no longer. Whether I ever become one of the greats (doubtful), I choose the path of the wordslinger, may it do ya well. And may my aim always be true.


But wait, there's more! I tend to believe my life is fairly hum-drum, boring, ordinary. I work, I come home, I go to church, I write on my blog, I play some video games, and that's pretty much it. When people call to catch up, that's about all I really have to tell them. It's a little depressing when you feel like your life should be full of great adventures.

But you know what? It's not true. (I know you think I said this two days ago, but follow me here) Thanks to ALINLATOOG, I've got a written record of my year's worth of adventures. A lot of big things did happen for me this year--Kim and I's first new car, for example. Or my first publication and rejection. My weekend trip to Lubbock. The Christmas Blizzard of '09. The time I lost an entire hallway at Hobby airport. Dates with my wife. Outgehangen with the guys. Backstage stories. Bizarre bookings (the Crimson Cowboy, anyone?). The oatmeal "Ahwuvoo" story with my son. My new reading project (that I'm 1/4 of the way through) The Aeros' thrilling playoff run and the Pens' Stanley Cup. Are any of these things to write home about? Not for the most part. But they are so, so, so worthy of writing to myself about.

I have some friends who keep quote lists, and those are awesome. Quotes invoke memories of conversations, which bring back the ghosts of good times past. I think, more than anything else, the value of a 365 project, whether it be a blog, a photo list, a cross-stitch project, or whatever, is that it will always exist to remind you of the adventures in day-to-day living. When you look back on a year, it's impossible to remember all the things that made you smile. Sometimes it's even good to look back on the days that you wanted to "shoot in the knees with a shotgun" (actual quote from earlier this year), just to remember that you came out on the other side of them okay.

I would encourage anybody to start a project similar to this one. Maybe not a blog a day, because that is a pretty tough schedule to keep with. But then again, maybe a daily blog would be a rewarding challenge for you. Maybe a weekly Top Ten or something. Maybe a series of letters written to yourself about things you don't want to forget. Heck, I dunno. Be creative! And if you can't be creative, rip off one of my ideas! I don't mind! Journal! Blog! Do whatever! Remind your future self of the joys you shared and the obstacles you overcame.

And invite your friends along for the ride, because you guys really did keep me going forward a lot of times when I was about to say "Screw this, it's dumb, and I quit."


What, then, is next for the Wordslinger? And whatever will become of this carefully-maintained corner of the Internet?

First off, I will continue to blog. I'm not going to shut WBW down. But you won't see me around here for awhile. It's time for a rest. A blogging sabbatical. After that, I'll start up some sort of regular posting schedule. I need the structure, otherwise I know my interest will slowly wane, and eventually I won't post anything anymore. At this point, my thought is that I'll do another 365. That may change between now and then, but we'll see. The blog will have a new name and a new look, because I'll be a different blogger than I was at the start of ALINLATOOG. I'm sure I'll still post about silly stuff, and family stuff, and hockey stuff, but I'm a bit older, a bit wiser, and a bit more confident, so I'll try to find a way to bring a little more focus and/or discipline then. "Then" will be March 1st, by the way. So don't come around WBW looking for new content before March 1st.

In the meantime, I've got some projects to take care of. I need to retype/reformat a couple of plays, specifically Do You Hear What I Hear? and The Hero Squad vs. The Princess Snatchers, for publishers. I'm going to try some fairly bigger publishers this time, too. I'm also going to be applying for copyright for several of my scripts, moving toward self-distributing them to theaters and high school companies who may be interested to try something new. With Tarvis' help, I hope to have a web site from which I can market and distribute my work within the next month and a half. Then, there's always my novel. I don't promise to have it rewritten when I return to the blogosphere, but I will get working on it, and with the help of a friend or two, I'm going to try to find a literary agent for it. When I said it was time to start being bold, to take the step of faith, I wasn't kidding. You can bet that the next incarnation of this blog will provide updates on how all of those things are coming.

I will be keeping up my other two blogs: those of you who have been following the Far-Sighted story at Wordslinger's Secret, I will finish that up, and may start another project up over there. I will also continue on my unbelievably long and ambitious (for me) reading project over at Powercard Chronicles. I know neither of those blogs are as "popular" as this one, but those who do follow were probably curious.

That's about all. I know this was a long post, but it's got to hold us all over until March, so it had to be ;-)

Too long? A bit narcissistic? That's okay. I think blogging is inherently narcissistic anyway. And I felt like I had a lot to say about this project before bidding it adieu.

Thank you, whoever you are who is reading this, for following me. This was my journey, say thankya, but I'm pleased to have shared it with you. I really can't say that enough. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Hopefully, we'll all meet up here again on March 1st.

Until then, long days and pleasant nights.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Day Three-Hundred Sixty-Four: Day Three-Hundred Sixty-Five Eve


Happy Day Three-Hundred Sixty-Five Eve, everybody!

By this point, you know I've been thinking about Day Three-Hundred Sixty-Five for a good deal of time, wonder what I'll say, wondering what I'll do once it's finished, wondering what the ultimate fate of ALINLATOOG is going to be, etc, for quite some time. And now here we are. One day away.

And you know what? I never put any thought into what I ought to say the day before I say and do and declare all those things I've thought about for tomorrow. Nothing--literally nothing--seems appropriate, and today was a rather uneventful day, so no anecdotes really spring to mind.

Um...we had lunch at Chili's. That was yummy.

Um...strike is tomorrow at work, followed by another uplifting meeting with the boss. So that's newsworthy.

I'm a little disappointed by the latest MxPx album, if anyone cares.

Dodongo dislikes smoke.

I mean really, no topic is just clamoring for expansion.

So come back tomorrow for the grand finale. It'll be more thought-out than this, I promise. It'll also be largely reflective, as one might expect. You can even play the "What Have We Learned" song in the background in parts of it. For those of you who've been following me for three-hundred sixty-four consecutive days of blogging, however, I think it should provide a satisfying conclusion.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Day Three-Hundred Sixty-Three: "It's happened!" "Dude, tell it to happen after dinner, will ya?"


Today began intensive potty training for Robbie at our house. No, this is not going to be a blog about potty training. However, be glad that my blogging sabbatical is coming up when it is, because I'm sure a day would otherwise be bound to come along where I had nothing to talk about but P.T.

I will not be that blog.

Nevertheless, the experience has helped to hammer home a point that isn't new, novel, or profound, but has hit me with a sort of fresh newness these past couple of days (and I'm pretty sure I've touched on it before on this here blog thing):

Life is happening.

I know, that's a really duh sort of statement, right? Still, it's one I think I take for granted, or just flat out don't realize, most of the time. See, my year is basically compartmentalized into five segments of similar but varying length. The are called MS1/K1, MS2/K2, MS3/K3, MS4/K4, and MS5. (For those not in the know, those are the designations we give to our main stage and childrens' shows so we can put them into the schedule before we've decided what they're going to be) By the time K2 closes, K3 is already in the works. Heck, I've got my first production meeting for K4 on Tuesday, the morning after K3 holds its first rehearsal. So, while my life is not comprised entirely of my work, my schedule pretty much is, and at that break-neck pace it can start to feel like I'm not a rational creature, but a being that is forcibly ushered from one project into the next, and before you know it, four and a half years are behind you.

But that isn't life. It's definitely a big component of life, but it's not it. What happens to me as I'm ushered mindlessly from one project to the next, how I feel about each project, how I treat each person I work with, and the memories and stories we either laugh or cry about months later, that's life. That sticks. My ever-evolving attitude toward my coworkers, that's life. The things I learn from day to day or year to year, that's life.

You know what keeping this blog has shown me concretely? I change. I'm not the person I was three-hundred sixty-three days ago. I'm not a radically different person, but I'm not quite the same, either. Because somewhere, between the links and the hockey stories and the theatrical retrospective and the Youtube clips and the cute Robbie stories, life was happening, and it was changing me one way or another. Am I more jaded? In some ways. Am I more optimistic? In some ways. Am I a better speller? No, not really.

Am I happier? Am I wiser?

Am I better?

Those are deep questions, and deep questions almost always come across as superficial for some reason. They also require more attention than I feel I can (or should, for that matter) share with the Internet. But they're important questions. And the honest answers are not necessarily good or bad, they are just honest.

Now let's see, why am I bringing this up?

I think it started about a week ago, when I had a rather sticky parenting situation involving a tantrum and time out and trying to show my son that, while I want him to be happy and have what he wants, there have to be consequences for misbehavior. I won't go into all the details, but it can be a tough call, and I thought we handled it pretty well. He ended up taking the full extent of his punishment, and afterward we sat and read a book together. We were still buds. It was cool.

The thought struck me later: I'm really a parent. Not only that, but I'm really an adult, I've really had a steady job for four and a half years, I'm really improving in several areas of my life, I really manage my family's finances, etc.

I think, as people, we tend to want to look forward to the next thing. When we're college, we wonder what it'll be like to be out of school. When we're single, we think about being in a relationship or being married. When we're married, we think about having kids. When we have kids, we think about what we have to do to help the kid learn to walk, then learn to talk, then learn to use the bathroom, then how we'll get them to grade school. All the while, life is happening to us, and we totally don't even realize it most of the time. God is not waiting for us to reach a certain benchmark before He is laying out His plans for us, giving us opportunities to grow and learn, and dropping us either blessings or trials that He wishes to turn into blessings one day. And that's happening all the time!!

The other day, in my godder post, I made some comment that learning is itself a miracle. We lose the wonder of learning something new long before we get into high school, which is unfortunate. Looking into the intelligent eyes of my child, however, as he listened to my words and tried to understand the concept of love and consequences, I realized what a struggle it is to embrace the idea that our notion of the world is incorrect, or at least incomplete (because that is, in effect, what learning is). And yet we do it, and when we do, when we become changed, life is happening to us. It isn't waiting for us to be ready.

Is this babbling? Does this even mean anything?

Are you still reading?

Doesn't matter. Whether you are or not, life is happening to you. It's not a dress rehearsal, and what you do in the next fifteen minutes will in some way have an effect, no matter how small, on the rest of your life. And the first thing you say to the next person you see has the potential to do the same.

God isn't waiting. Life isn't waiting. If you're waiting, stop. Life is calling.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Day Three-Hundred Sixty-Two: Another fitting ending


Part IV of Far-Sighted is up. I don't know that I'll finish this by the time I finish this blog, but it'll be done within the next month.

It's almost eerie, the feeling of finality that is setting in as I get closer to the end of this project. Realizing I wrote my last hockey post of the blog, the last comic book-related post, counting down into single digits, realizing I have three posts left and two I really want to write, meaning only one more day of unknown blogging between here and the finish line.

And today, as if to symbolically show that all things, no matter how endless they may seem, will eventually pass, we can bid a fond adieu to the congestion and cough that started on Day Two-Hundred Ninety-Five. Call it the Sixty-Six Day Cold, if you like. I'd never had a cough linger for that long! Every time it would start to get better, it would stop getting better. And pills could slow it down, but they never stopped it, and lots of sleep did nothing, and no sleep did nothing, and lots of water didn't help.

Then today, I suddenly realized I haven't had to reach for a cough drop all day. All. Day. It's been over two months since that has been the case.

Praise God. A cold is a little thing, really, but it was an ANNOYING little thing, and I'm glad to be victorious over it at long, long, looooong last.

This calls for a celebration.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Day Three-Hundred Sixty-One: Freeze


Seriously, what is with the weather this year? First, there was a hurricane season with no hurricanes anywhere, next we had a solid inch of snow in Houston, then a blizzard sandwich for Christmas, and now all of southeast Texas is under a hard freeze warning. A flier was shoved into our door from the management at the apartment complex urging us to act IMMEDIATELY in order to help keep the pipes from freezing. As a result, all of our faucets are currently running at a steady dripping rate of two drops per second. Approximately. Though I've had to go back and check as the night has gone on because, as others around the city have likely been doing the same thing, the water pressure may have changed.

Thing is, I've always hated the sound of dripping water. So I've tried to have a constant stream of background noise, whether it be music, conversation, or the BCS National Title Game. (Roll Tide, apparently!) But now that the night has pretty much wound down and it's just me and the blog...

Drip. Drip. Drip.

Hopefully I can get to sleep without going insane. Also hopefully, the water will still work in the morning, and my wife and son will safely get to work and school, respectively.

According to, "Arctic air is expected to remain in the area through Saturday." The high Friday is 32. Winds have been gusting at close to 40 miles per hour today. And I know some of our readers have had it a lot worse lately, but come on! This is Houston! The summers are supposed to be beastly, and the winters fantastic! Also according to click2houston, it's been 20 years since temps have dropped below freezing for 40 or more hours, as is expected this weekend.

All this mysterious arctic weather can only mean one thing!!!

What a weird twist as this 365 winds down. I'm sure you'll get an update tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Day Three-Hundred Sixty: Siege



Whether or not you can respect comic books as a genre or a literary form (and I know the camp of my readership is split on this issue), you've got to admit that there's a definite skill involved when it comes to the creative coordination in the major companies.

At any given time, you've got a staff of I-don't-know-how-many writers working on over forty different monthly (sometimes weekly) stories that all have to exist within the same continuity. In addition, each of these writers are bound by seventy years' worth of continuity within this particular universe, and if they plan on doing something that doesn't fit with what happened in 1983, they'd better have a dang creative way to make it fit! And while this inevitably leads to one deus ex machina after another, it still requires an attention to detail and knowledge of if not respect for the character's history. Add, on top of this, that these guys and gals are doing their best to make sure that their stories aren't in direct conflict with any of the other CURRENT story arcs going on, and often the writers cross-pollinate characters or settings or plot elements beyond just a casual cameo or guest star appearance. In essence, it's a form of communal storytelling where everyone is doing their own thing while simultaneously building up the unity of the microcosm at the same time.

Then, every couple of years ago, you get a massive crossover event that involves just about everybody except for Ghost Rider (the creative brain trust very wisely lets that guy do his own thing--though he did stop by New York to wrestle with the Hulk during WWH a few summers ago) and effectively changes the status quo for every single story arc under the umbrella of that company's stable of characters. And while the main story of the crossover is handled by one writing team, virtually every other books' teams meet to discuss how their stories are affected by the new status quo, and how their stories can enhance the central story, and how they can begin to plant seeds in the background of their own books that may or may not eventually blossom into the next universe-shifting massive collaboratory storyline.

I have trouble keeping a reign of my own story. I can't imagine the type of creativity and flexibility it requires to work in this sort of environment.

Here's where we're going with all of this: Marvel Comics' next big event, Siege, officially started today, as Siege #1 (of 4) hit the stores this morning. I bought mine and gave it a quick read, and it's a good, fun, unfortunately short read that promises to be the precursor to an epic throwdown between the forces of good and the forces of evil.

What's most awesome about Siege, though, (to me, anyway) is that it is the climax to about seven years of collective storytelling in the Marvel universe. Every major event of the past seven years (except perhaps World War Hulk) has lead, to some degree or other, to Siege. Things have pretty much been in disarray since the Avengers broke up after Thor "died," and from that moment storytellers at Marvel were planting seeds of events that would fracture the hero community, paving the way for a massive attack on the planet which opened the door for a very evil man to become the most powerful man on the planet. It's become one of those "always darkest just before dawn" sort of stories, and Siege is the event that's going to finally bring all of the good guys over to the same side again.

Originally, I wanted to outline this rolling, changing, progressing, massive story of the Marvel mythology of the past seven years...but then I found this link, which does a much better and funnier job of it. Seriously, go read it. It's funny. And informative. And accurate, and that's probably my favorite thing about it. For example, the extremely-complicated House of M storyline is summed up as follows:
"The Scarlet Witch came back in a big event called “House of M,” where she created an alternate reality where everyone was supposed to be happy, but wasn’t, and then it got shattered and she made it so there weren’t as many mutants. Also, Hawkeye was unexploded, then died again, then came back again."

And while it's missing a few details, that's pretty much what happened.

And sometimes, it's just far simpler not to go into detail:
"There was also a team of Young Avengers, including Ant-Man’s daughter and a new Vision who was stuck in a suit of Iron Man armor created and worn by a young Kang the Conqueror. It’s complicated."

Indeed it is.

Anyway, enjoy for yourself. If you've got any questions or need more details, ask me. If I don't know, I'll find it out for you.

Oh, and turn off your brain for half an hour or so and enjoy the latest issue of Siege. Ain't nothing wrong with some mindless fun from time to time. (Just like there ain't nothing wrong with the occasional double-negative that uses a word that isn't actually a word)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Day Three-Hundred Fifty-Nine: WJHC


And the last hockey-related post of this particular 365 project. Unless something epic happens in the next five days, and I doubt there's going to be anything in that amount of time that will top this.

Tonight was the gold medal game of the annual World Junior Hockey Championships. (Junior Hockey in this case means players are under 20 years of age) And oh, this one was worth writing home about.

Rewind a bit. The U.S. and Canada met in the last game of pool play on New Year's Eve. The tournament was held in Canada again. It's just about always held in Canada. And, naturally, the Canadians pretty much always win it. In fact, they'd won the last five in a row coming in to the tournament. I believe they also had a record of 35-1 in that stretch in this particular tournament. Canada owns, basically.

On New Years Eve, the U.S. and Canadian teams played a fantastic game against one another to close out pool play. In that game, the United States scored two short-handed goals, and the Canadians had to rally in the third period to send the thing to overtime, where the red maple leaf beat the red and white stripes in a shootout to remain perfect. It was the Americans' only blemish in the preliminary round.

Well, it just happened to work out that both teams played their way into tonight's championship game, and I had a feeling that, while everybody was expecting another nail-biter like the last game, this one would most likely be sort of a letdown, at least in terms of overall excitement level.

I was very, very wrong.

Both teams came in fired up for this one. The Canadian crowd was ruthless (in fact, there were reports of Canadian fans calling the American players' hotel rooms early in the morning to disrupt their sleep and throw them off their game) and rockin' for the home team. And Canada did, in fact, get on the board first, scoring just two minutes into the game. The U.S. settled things down, however, before getting two goals within thirty seconds of each other to take a lead. Canada tied the game, and the U.S. took the lead again, this time one minute into the second period. Another Canadian score, and we were tied at three after the second period.

After Canada's third goal, the American team decided to change things up a bit (since their starter had given up three goals on seven shots) and changed goalies. At that point, shots were 21-7 in favor of the U.S. The change paid off, because the Canadians rolled out 34 shots against the new netminder through the remainder of the game. (Imagine, 3 goals on 7 shots times 40 shots...)

The U.S. took control of the scoring again in the third and held a 5-3 lead...until late in the period when, for the second time in the tournament, Canada rallied in the closing minutes (2 goals in 3 minutes in this case) to send the game to overtime.

Now, since this was a championship game, and not mere pool play, the IIHF decided that there would be a full 20-minute sudden-death overtime, rather than 5 minutes followed by a shootout. SO, to overtime we go!


'Nuff said.

Day Three-Hundred Fifty-One: In Which I Learn to Count


So, when I started double-posting, I tried to count forward the number of days I'd need to double-post and the pick up on the right day number for my first real-time post on December 28th.

I miscounted.

So, rather than go back and renumber all those posts, I'ma just call this one day Three-Five-One, which is the day I missed. Really, though, this is the ACTUAL Day Three-Five-Eight, and yesterday should have been Three-Five-Seven.

I don't know if that made sense or not. I work with words, people, not numbers.

In fact, as we've discussed in detail one-hundred fifty-eight days ago, I even prefer to convert numbers INTO words whenever possible.

Today was the first day of my mandatory vacation. (Long story, don't ask) I spent half of it in the office trying to resolve one problem or another. Tomorrow's day off looks like a lot of house work and hopefully some work on the Alice script.

Oh crud. I have to run by the office to pick up my laptop for that.

Hooray, back to work I go!

Really, though, I'm just glad I'll get to sleep in tomorrow. I'll work every day this week if it means I get to sleep in in the mornings.

Which is good. Because that just may be how it all plays out ;-)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Day Three-Hundred Fifty: The Return of Double-Posting (And I think we're all caught up)

Blog post for 12-27

Christmas already seems so very far in the past.

And that’s not a morose statement of post-holiday melancholy; it’s just a casual observation. It seems like a long time since Christmas, and it’s only the twenty-seventh.

Of course, we’ll probably listen to a couple Christmas CDs on the way home tomorrow, and we’ll still have to take down our decorations at some point in the next couple of weeks, AND we even had a bit of gift-exchanging with some more distant family this afternoon, and yet, the whole season seems like a fairly distant memory.

I think this is a good thing, however. I think, as this year draws to its close, I have a very clear picture of what I need to be doing as the new year dawns. Which is unusual, because I’m also looking into 2010 and finding more uncertainties than I’ve seen at the start of any new year in the past half decade. (More on that later? Probably not. Bwuahahahaaa!!!) But, despite wondering somewhat where the short-term future is going to lead, I have a pretty clear idea of what specific actions I’ll be taking over the next few months: habits to break, disciplines to get in to, how to actually do those things rather than think about them, projects to write, things to research, contests to enter, copyrights to pursue. I’m putting together sort of a “life to-do” list, and I feel like the fruits of these labors are going to play into the unknowns to come. (Does any of this make sense? It’s been a long week)

Two things this past year have me very cognizant of the degree to which life is constantly changing. The first is obvious: having a family. Watching a child grow, learn, and change over the course of a year really opens your eyes to how much can actually happen in three-hundred sixty-five days. The second has actually been keeping this blog: I always want to do a year-in-review type thing for my own benefit, but I always find it difficult to recall what exactly happened when and in what order. This year, I’ve shared a lot of my triumphs and some of my stresses, a lot of important events and even more unimportant ones. When I’m a little closer to wrapping up, I’ll do a more thorough retrospective, but if you keep track of each day and then look back on them, you’ll find yourself astounded at how much really does occur in one year of your life.

So with those things in mind, my goal for 2010 is to make more things happen rather than wait for them to happen. I’ve never been as pro-active in most anything as I think I can and probably should be; I want to see things happen. I want to encounter things that will force my life to change. That’s happened this year all on its own. Next year, I want it to happen on purpose.

(Does this mean another 365 blog? Ugh. My initial thought was heck no. Suddenly, I’m undecided. I’m sure I’ll let you know one way or another)

Anyway, that’s why Christmas seems so far in the rearview, even though realistically it’s still sitting in the passenger seat. All that’s left of that celebration is the packing away of the specifics and the cataloging of the memories. The next great celebration lies in things yet to come.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Day Three-Hundred Fifty-Eight: Dear The Texans...


As I write this, the Jets are putting the finishing touches on our slim playoff hopes. You guys definitely did your part, with a dramatic fourth-quarter comeback win over the Pats, and we even got some help from the Chiefs (it's like I say every year: KC and Denver ALWAYS split, it doesn't matter how good or how bad they are, they'll always split. It's one of those "sports things"), but in the end you put yourself in a position where you had to depend on too many other teams to get you in to the playoffs.

You made a great effort here at the end. Finishing with a four-game win streak is nothing to sneeze at. Finishing second in the division for the first time ever is totally a plus. Having a winning record on the road is fantastic. Two weeks ago, we were one of seven teams fighting for two playoff spots. Going into tonight's Jets/Bengals game, we had cut it down to being one of two teams fighting for one spot. Only problem was, we were out of the fight, and we needed Cincinnati to do our fighting for us. A team that's already wrapped up their division vs. a team at home fighting for their playoff lives.

Yeah, that's gonna work.

And so, for the third year running, we remain mediocre. We're a slightly better mediocre than the last two years, at 9-7 instead of 8-8, and don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for the winning season. Seven losses? Not too shabby.

And yet...

You know, we didn't have to put ourselves in this place. We didn't have to depend on the Bengals. You know, if we'd have played as well at home in week one as we played today, the Jets wouldn't have even been in the hunt. That's, ultimately, a great example of what I'm going to take from this season: The "if only's".

If only we didn't drop the ball, literally, on the goal line vs. Jacksonville. And Arizona. And Indy. (And boy, did that hurt in Indy)

If only our kicker didn't miss the most field goals in the NFL (11).

If only our defense didn't give up scoring runs of 50+ yards the first THREE consecutive weeks of the season.

If only we could have gone better than .500 at home.

If only we would have won two of our six division games.

You realize that if only one of those "if only's" weren't on the list, we'd be a playoff team?

This is essentially the course we ran last year and the year before that. Rough start, better middle, mid-to-late-season-slump, and then fantastic finish. Not good enough. I understand Coach K will be back next season, and I'm fine with that. But I hope we will not settle for another 8-8 or 9-7 without the playoffs. Not when our team is supposedly "this close" to being a playoff team.

Now, I don't want to be a downer here, so I will say the following as well:

Thank you for playing meaningful games in December for the first time.

Thank you for exciting wins against the Pats, Dolphins, Titans, and Bengals.

Thank you for not choking against Oakland this year.

Thank you for that great game in Indy, even if we did choke it away first at the end of the first half and then again at the end of the second. It was overall a good performance against a great team.

Thank you for making improvements in last seasons' areas of weaknesses. Please, please continue this trend and deliver a winner in Houston next season.

'Cause I've only been a fan down here for five years; your longtime fanbase deserves a winner after all they've stuck through with you.

See you next fall!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Day Three-Hundred Fifty-Seven: Godder


My son has learned a new word. Actually, it seems more like he's made up a handy new word, and he's quite comfortable plugging it into any situation. The word, as far as Kim and I can tell, is "godder."

Godder is a noun. Godder is a verb. When necessary, godder appears to be an adjective. I have not yet seen any instances of godder being used as an adverb, but I'm fairly certain it could be if needed.

The first time I heard the mysterious new word, I tried to figure out what exactly it was supposed to mean. I was relaxing in bed, and Robbie was crawling around and throwing himself face-first into the pillows, when he suddenly sprung up and said, "I going to go get you some godder." "Some what?" I asked. "Some godder!" he repeated. We played this game several times, when finally I said, "Some godder?" And he, thrilled that I had finally caught on, shrieked "Yes!" and then went off to get me some godder. (We play a similar game often, when he says he's going to go get some pizza. He goes across the room, then comes back holding out his hands as if there's something there, gives me the invisible pizza, and I eat it) He brought back the invisible godder and thrust it into my hands. I held it, a bit perplexed. Finally, I asked, "Am I supposed to eat it?" He laughed and then threw himself face-first into the pillow again.

Soon, I started to hear godder pop up in different conversations. "How are you doing?" "I'm godder." "You're what?" "I'm godder!" Or, "Come on, Mommy! Let's godder!"

Here's the funny thing about godder, though: it's not exactly a nonsense word because it very clearly stands for something. It's the something in question that seems to be in a constant state of flux. When Robbie can't find the exact word he wants, either because he doesn't know it or because it's just slipped his mind, the word becomes godder. Why break up the flow of the conversation? Just say godder and keep it going! When godder happens to be an object, he'll point out godder when (if) you come across it. It's really fascinating.

Godder is the new whatchamacallit. (Wow, honestly didn't expect "whatchamacallit" to go over OK with the spellcheck, but it did) So far as I'm aware, nobody taught him this sort of word substitution. I'm sure there's some child psychological term for what's happening, but the fact that something is explainable doesn't really take away from the wonder of it all.

One thing parenting is constantly teaching me is what a miracle life is. I'm not talking about the joining of two zygotes into a new living, thinking, reasoning individual, though that's quite a feat, too. I'm talking about the process of living. I'm talking about learning. What an incredible thing it is to learn! Eating with silverware is not something that came naturally to us. Nor brushing our teeth. Nor manners, sharing, patience, healthy living, or unhealthy living. We had to learn! And eventually, we started making our own rules--godder, for instance--with nothing but the combination of what we'd learned and our own imagination and intuition. I mean, how cool is that??

Bah. I'm starting to ramble. When my mind gets really excited, it starts to repeat itself, to churn the same thought over and over, keeping is fresh like the same batch of saltwater taffy is stretched again and again until it's ready to be enjoyed. When I'm in that state, I tend to log off, because I feel the churning of the same thoughts comes across as babbling, and when I think I'm babbling, I lose the novelty or the profundity of whatever it was I was churning in the first place.

So instead, I'll simply say godder, my friends.


Friday, January 1, 2010

Day Three-Hundred Fifty-Six: The Naming


Watched the Winter Classic (Sorry, I mean the Bridgestone Winter Classic 2010) this afternoon. The game was all right, but the event was pretty awesome, as always.

Side note: Did you know that, apparently, they always sing "Sweet Caroline" at Red Sox games? Odd...

After the thrilling 2-1 OT finish (home team won) came the announcement of the US men's Olympic hockey team. I figured they'd just make the announcement on the broadcast, but USA hockey had something else in mind. Instead, they announced the team at the game in front of the 38,000+ cheering fans who had packed out Fenway for the spectacle. Which was cool.

A pack of kids in Team USA jerseys lined up on the ice. As the first played (David Backes) was named, the camera zoomed in on the first little boy in the line. The announcer called out the players' birthplace, then their NHL team, and finally the name. Then, the kid on camera whirled around, and he was wearing a Team USA jersey with Backes' name on the back. Then they moved down the line to the next kid, and each kid had the next Team USA Olympian's jersey on. It was a little hokey, but mostly cute/awesome.

The nicest touch, I thought, came at the very end of the ceremony. They named the team forwards first, then defense, and then goalies, each in alphabetical order. Well, there was really no question that Boston Bruins goalie and reigning Vezina winner Tim Thomas (WBW flashback!) was going to be on the team, and it happened that "Thomas" came alphabetically after all the other candidates, so the hometown hero was going to be the last guy named and get a huge cheer. The cool twist, however, came when Thomas emerged from the players' tunnel when his name was called, his Bruins' sweater crumpled up in the laundry bin and Tim the Tank stepped onto the ice in the middle of the baseball diamond sporting his very own navy blue USA jersey. Thomas then skated along the line of children, and there were many high-fives and fist pumps to be had.

Click here for pics of the event.

As for the team itself? About what I expected. Very, very young (20 of 23 have no Olympic experience, and the average age is 26.5). Not a lot of true marquee names. But a squad of really solid, two-way hockey players. A ton of grit. Hard-working. Skill-wise, nowhere near the Canadians, Russians, Swedes, or Czechs. Could also lose to the Finns, Swiss, or Slovaks if they're not careful. But, with some lucky bounces, a ton of hard work, and some fantastic goaltending, this team could win a medal of some sort. They will hit a lot, that's for certain, and the way you beat teams that are more skilled than you are is to smother 'em with tight checking and good defense. We'll have that. I just don't know if we'll have the puck control ability to win against this crowd.

Four years from now, though, watch out! This is a solid young group that should be able to play together internationally for years to come! (Assuming, of course, the NHL lets its players continue to play in the Olympics after this year)

Oh, right, the roster: Backes, Brown, Callahan, Drury, Kane, Kesler, Kessel, Langenbrunner, Malone, Parise, Pavelski, Ryan, Stastny, Johnson, other Johnson, Komisarek, Martin, Orpik, Rafalski, Suter, Miller, Quick, and Thomas.