Friday, September 30, 2005

Finally! Fanatics Frantic for Firefly Film Friday!

Welcome to FFFfFFF or, as most of you probably call it, "For-goodness-sakes-is-this-the-last-time-I-have-to-hear-him-shove-that-movie-down-my-throat?" Friday.

By this point, I doubt anything I say will sway you one way or another about seeing the film on the big screen. So, in place of a last minute "Please, go see this movie so that it makes a ton of money and they either make sequels or put it back on TV" plea, I instead would like to povide the following link to the transcript of a conference call interview with both Joss Whedon and Neil Gaiman, two writers who have never met, and who have little in common other than both having written comic books and both having as SF movie opening today.

Which reminds me, if I haven't been able to win you over to Serenity, maybe you could check out Neil Gaiman's MirrorMask, which has some pretty stunning visuals courtesy of long-time Gaiman collaborator, Dave McKean.

Or if that bit of oddball fantasy isn't your cup of tea (or, even more likely, is not playing anywhere near you), how about trying the more mainstream A History of Violence. Not only does it have a great director and cast, but it's also, incidentally, based on a pretty good comic book.

But if none of those tickle your fancy, and you still feel the need to go to the movies, just please, whatever you do, if you value your trusted head monkey's sanity, please do not spend your money on Into the Blue just because Jessica Alba looks hot in her skimpy swimwear. I mean, if you really feel the need to see Alba looking hot in skimpy attire, , do a quick Google, I'm sure you'll find plenty to occupy your time. Seriously, people, a crap movie with hot chicks is still a crap movie.

Plus, Joss Whedon says that he heard that she was in a parka for 90% of the film, and Joss wouldn't have any reason to lie to us about something like that, right?

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What a way to start the day

I just got to work, and had barely finished getting my water out of the break-room fridge when I was suddenly assaulted by a high-pitched squealing. Something had set off the building alarms, not quite sure what. While those who are actually blessed with alarm codes tried to stop the brain-melting noise, I proceeded into the office proper, where I was informed that all of the phones had cut out. Got to my desk, and heard the AC unit briefly make a noise not unlike that usually heard in films right before someone screams out "She's gonna blow!", before shutting down. Luckily it's cooled down a lot over the last couple of days, I'd hate to think what this enclosed space would feel like if the AC died off completely. And to top it all off, my computer keeps freezing up on me. Why do I get the feeling this is going to be a loooooooooong day?

On the bright side: one of my co-workers brought doughnuts! So, got the sugar-high thing going for me right now. Also, less than 12 hours away from Serenity (woo-hoo!), although waiting for that will probably add even more "when will this day end?" feeling to this already looooooooooooong day.

But still . . . doughnuts!

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4-color Fri. - Read my lips: "No Chuck Austen"

At the time I'm writing this, there have been a total of three votes for my comic book reviews in the survey . . . which, to be honest, is about two more than I'd expected. Hope today's sparse comic-reportage doesn't let all three of you down.

I still haven't made it down to Plano to pick up my comics, which means I shall be seeing Serenity tonight without having finished the mini-series that was supposed to help bridge the gap between the last ep of the TV show and the movie. Not that big of a deal, just had to find a way to work Serenity into this post.

You may be wondering why I buy my comics in Plano and not Denton. The answer is simple: Lone Star Comics has a really nice online ordering system, which helps insure that I don't miss any of the books I want, and which also provides a pretty nice discount for pre-ordering. Yes, it's a bit of a drive, but when I first moved down here from OK, most of the Great Parkerite Exodus had settled into the Plano, and I would usually make it down there at least once a month, if not more.

While I haven't made it pick up any new comics, I have been availing myself of the renewed energy most libraries are making in adding TPBs to their collections. The local library has a pretty nice collection, including quite a few Essential Marvel collections, and just about anything Wolverine has ever appeared in. They also have several JLA collections, including the one with Chuck Austen's run. After checking that one out, I think I can safely say that I will never, ever, ever waste my money on a Chuck Austen series ever again. Ever. I am constantly amazed at how easily the man can butcher every single character he touches.

In addition to the public library, I've also started to use UNT's Interlibrary Loan department quite a bit. The highlights of ILL have been Chuck Dixon's Nightwing run, Peter David's Spyboy, Darwyn Cooke's DC: the New Frontier, and Fabian Nicieza's Cable/Deadpool. The lowlights have been Paul Jenkins and Mark Millar's Spider-Man runs, both of which, while not reaching Chuck Austen levels of "that character would never do that!", still drove me crazy with character inconsistencies.

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Thursday, September 29, 2005

Kneel! Kneel before the Spawn of Flunky!

I am not a fan of babies.

Don't get me wrong, they're nice and all for what they are, I suppose, and kind of necessary for the whole "continuation of the species" thing, but I've never been one to go all goo-goo-ga-ga over every baby to cross my path. Nor am I inclined to join in with the effusive cries "Oh, isn't he/she so cuuuuuuuuuuuuuute!” that greet the first sighting of every baby alive; mainly because, 9 times out of 10, I don't really see it. And even when that 1 out of 10 pops up, I might think to myself "Yup, that there's a cute one all right" and then move on to more pressing concerns, like memorizing the 17 Houses of Dragaera from the Taltos novels, or trying to figure out what the heck was up with Digger being the bad guy on the last episode of John Doe. Y’know, important stuff like that. Never have I felt even the tiniest urge to gush over the inherent cuteness of a child.

Until, that is, I first saw the Spawn of Flunky.

That child is cuuuuuuuuuuuuuute!

Wait, let me rephrase, that’s a bit of an understatement: That child is unbelievably cuuuuuuuuuuuuuute!

And no, the "unbelievable" part isn't a dig at how it shouldn't be possible for something so adorable to come from something so, so . . . Flunky. Instead, the unbelievable part is that no child should be that cute. The Spawn of Flunky is exceedingly, nay, overpoweringly cute. Why, one might be tempted to say he's almost inhumanly cute.

That's when it hit me, a thought more frightening than the possibility of being trapped in a broken elevator with Courtney Love, Dennis Rodman, Gilbert Gottfried, and that annoying lady from The View (take your pick) for an extended period of time.

The clues have been there all along: Flunky's military training; his obsession with strategy games like Axis and Allies and Warcraft; his reputation as a "puppet-master" during those games; recent attempts to secure control of a coal mine, a potential source of fuel; the list goes on and on, and they all point to only one logical conclusion. Yes, my loyal blog monkeys, it seems obvious to me that The Spawn of Flunky is nothing more than a tool in Flunky's plot to try to take over the world! *cue Pinky and the Brain music*

It's a fiendishly clever plot, really. I know, I know, I’m as surprised as you are at Flunky being fiendishly clever. Who knew? Anyway, the plot: by using the power of his Spawn's overpoweringly hypnotic cuteness, Flunky will be able to force even the most intractable world leaders to bow down before him. Those that are able to resist will then be held down by Flunky’s cuteness-enthralled drones and forced to eat Mexican candy. *shudder*

How was Flunky able to harness so much cuteness in human form? Your guess is as good as mine. Science, sorcery, or some unholy mixture of the two? It matters not. All that matters is that we are aware that the danger exists.

I almost posted some pictures of the Spawn so you could see the proof for yourselves, but luckily I realized in time that I was operating under a cuteness-induced haze; posting a picture online is exactly what Flunky wants. Why, even a mere photograph of the child has enough cuteness stored in it to take out a whole battalion of battle-hardened soldiers. If it were to accidentally be allowed to sap the will of the mighty legion of blog monkeys, the end would be nigh.

So, no, I shall not be posting a picture of the child, lest you all fall under his hypnotic sway. Well, that and the fact that I don't have Flunky's permission to do so.

Which is too bad, really, because, you have GOT to see this kid, he's so darn cuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuute!

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Thought-provoking Thur. - Curse you, G'ovich!

Tuesday morning, as I was driving back from Miamuh, I was occupying my mind by composing future blog posts. I had settled on the idea of talking a bit about my musical inclinations: my tendency to burst into song at the drop of the hat, why "Mr. Jones" will always remind me of Flunky and "Riders in the Sky" will always make me think of Fellow Book Monkey and Blogger Bubblegum Tate . . . things like that. And then I had an online conversation with one of the Parkerites about the nature and future of my blog, and, well, buh-bye musical inclinations, hello rambling mishmash of ideas!.

One of the suggestions that came up in this conversation was that I go ahead and give a full accounting of the cast of characters in my life, right down to what “one” they are in the group, something which I had been toying with anyway. And while the following isn’t exactly what he was getting at, before we discuss the full content of the conversation, let's take a brief moment to shine a spotlight on the Parkerite in question: the man I insist on calling Dr. G'ovich.

As mentioned before, G’ovich (pronounced JEE-oh-vich) is one of my former college roomies. Back in our early college days he was just about the most random person I knew, in an entertaining way. He challenged me to break out of my shell during those early years more than anyone else (the Doc helped coin the “outsider complex” phrase), with the exception of other former roomie Flunky. The character of Vick in yesterday’s short story is an exaggerated homage to the young Doctor G.

What is he a doctor of, you may ask? The incomparable G'ovich has an honorary Ph.D. in "messing with Todd's mind." To be fair, he has at least a Masters in messing with people in general, but G'ovich has an uncanny knack for sensing the one thing that I'm most self-conscious about at any given moment. It's almost like he's some sort of highly specialized psychic, tuned in to all of the negative voices in my head. I remember one occasion where I had gone over to the G'ovich household for a poker night, and the instant I walked through the door, the first words out of the Doctor's mouth was an echo of the self-conscious inner monologue I had been experiencing on the way over. I have never met anyone as talented at causing me to spiral into a fit of self-doubt and neurotic paralysis.

Now, I don't want to give the impression that this is a willfully malicious activity on his part. The use of the put-down and general insult as the basis of humor were de rigueur in the Parkerite sphere. It's just that this supernatural knack to zero in on my neurosis-of-the-moment (which didn't fully manifest until our junior year) served to give said neurosis weight and credence; it was no longer just a nagging suspicion of a personal defect existing solely in my mind, it was now something so obvious that other people noticed it as well. This would make me obsess over trying to correct whatever-it-was, which would serve to make me even more sensitive to further teasing, which would make me ridiculously defensive, which would then lead to a generally surly and unpleasant mood permeating my being. And, hey, who doesn't want to spend time around a self-conscious, overly defensive grump who takes everything you say personally?

Long story short (too late!), it eventually reached the point where Doc wouldn’t say much of anything to me, because he never knew when he was going to set off one of my emotional landmines, and even told me that if I kept acting like I was, pretty soon I wouldn't have any friends. I, in turn wouldn’t say anything to him because I was scared of making things worse and, well, to be honest, the driving-off-friends thing hurt. The whole situation killed me, because freshman and sophomore years, I had considered him to be one of my best friends, and then there we were a few short years later, unable to carry on a simple conversation. It finally took time (2-3 years), distance (the G’ovich clan moved to TX as part of the Great Parkerite Exodus), and me finally becoming comfortable with who I am (hey, look, the Book Monkeys seem to like me, maybe I should just get over myself and dump all of this emotional baggage, huh?!?), but we’ve gradually reached a point where we can act like normal folk and don’t have to tip-toe around each other . . . or, at least I hope we have, or else posting all of this has been pretty dang foolish of me.

What does all of this have to do with my conversation with G'ovich and the future of the blog? Bear with me, we're almost there.

You see, when I started this blog, one of the primary reasons was to have a place to talk about whatever I was reading/watching/listening to, since so many of my conversations with friends, family, and co-workers seem to boil down to "So, have you read/watched/listened to anything interesting lately?" I figured this would be an easier way to disseminate the information and make sure that everyone got an equal amount of my pop culture wisdom. I did the alliterative structure so that people interested in one aspect more than the others would know when it would be best to check in. And when I came up with the Thinking-out Loud Thursday idea, I figured it would be a good chance for me to, on occasion, exorcise those unceasing thoughts that keep me up some nights, feeling pretty sure that most people would just skim through those posts without much interest. So it was with great surprise that I received the following message about CoIM from the good Doctor on Tuesday afternoon: "the stuff where you talk about yourself is way more interesting than the stuff about movie reviews or whatever. Or the 'here's another show I will watch because it has X from Buffy in it.'"

My reaction to this was, to say the least, mixed. On the one hand, I had the three-fold surprise that (a) the Doc was reading my blog, (b) the Doc was enjoying my blog (or, at least, found some parts less boring than others), and (c) the part that the Doc found less boring was the part I was sure nobody would care about. Which of course led me to the paranoid thought, “What if nobody cares about the movie/TV/book stuff at all?” See, even when the paranoia is barely a glowing ember, the Doc can fan it into a forest fire. The man has a gift, I tell you, a real gift! Okay, so maybe this paranoia wasn’t quite forest fire level, maybe it was cigarette-lighter-in-a-strong-wind level. The hyperbole is strong in me, okay?

The conversation then moved into some of the ideas Dr. G. had about what direction I should go with future postings. Some of the ideas dovetailed nicely with things I had already considered (providing a list of all “characters” and their roles); others were a bit divergent from what I had originally thought (he interpreted “Songs that remind me of people” as a “Hey, this song is about the army so it reminds me of Flunky” theme song sort of thing, as opposed to my “Hey, this song always makes me think of Y because he always hated this band” sort of thing); and still others were brand-spanking new (more on these later). And want to know the worst part? It wasn’t that his comments were making me doubt my blog’s readability, nor was it that kneejerk reaction of feeling defensive and threatened that he was trying to dictate what I should do, nor was it even the cheap shot he took at my running Buffy/Angel actor commentary. No, the worst part was this: the ideas were good ones, which instantly got my mind running in high gear on how I could apply them so that I barely got any sleep, and am now typing this while running on mental fumes. Curse you, G'ovich, and your blasted creativity too!

You might be thinking to yourselves right now “That’s all well and good, but I don’t know why telling us about those suggestions required that you go into all that other (quite frankly really awkward) personal stuff first.” Well, it’s because, outside of the general "you could try this or this" ideas, there's one aspect of our conversation that really made me think about my approach to CoIM. During the discussion of how I should handle my list of “characters” and assigning them specific roles in the group, the Doc posited that the interesting part of all this was how I approached it: do I write what people want to hear about themselves, or what I really think? And do I go ahead and assign myself a role for each group? The line that really got me was this one: “if the theme is 'inside Todd’s head' I don't think you get to hold back much. You have to let yourself be vulnerable, yeah?”

Which, again, was a highly thought-provoking, keep-me-up-all-night comment (have I mentioned how much I curse you yet, G’ovich?), but one which I have yet to fully process. I probably do err on the side of “what people want to hear,” just out of a fear of alienating and ostracizing folks, but I try not to alter my real thoughts too much. I guess my big standard is to avoid being malicious, but as experience has shown, a lack of malicious intent is not equal to a lack of harmful consequences. I think I had started taking baby-steps toward this idea of personal vulnerability with my Thursday and Weekend posts, testing the waters so to speak, but hadn’t made it much past the wading pool just yet. Since it was the Doc’s idea to stir things up, I decided I’d take a test spin on the Wheel of Vulnerability at his expense, before moving on to Phase II.

All of that being said . . . don't be expecting a total overhaul of CoIM just yet. The pop culture stuff may not be everybody's cup o' tea, but I know there are some loyal blog monkeys out there who do enjoy them. So, what I'd like for you to do when you get the chance is to take the little poll over to the side about your CoIM experience. The more I know, the more CoIM can grow. Help me help you.

All right, think that’s enough for now, I desperately need to get some shut-eye. But first, a quick reminder: tomorrow is Firefly Film-going Friday, so I expect all available Browncoated blog monkeys to be heading to the theaters, just like The Lightbulb clan and I will be. Any other near-by Browncoated blog monkeys who’d like to join us, give me a shout. Everyone else can come back for Spoilerific Serenity Saturday, and then if I have enough time, energy, and mental stability, a Special Spotlight Sunday focused on my extended, dysfunctional family, The Parkerites.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Written Word Weds. - Obligatory witty subtitle

Today is the first time I actually feel like I'm posting out of obligation, rather than a sheer enjoyment of writing . . . which is kind of ironic, what with it being Written Word Wednesday and all.

So, here's another semi-edited short story from college containing thinly-veiled versions of people I know.

The Year-and-a-Half High School Reunion

Roger was lying upside down on an enormous bean bag, acting on a misguided hope that the increased blood flow to his brain would help him come up with a speech topic, but so far it had only managed to make him slightly nauseous. His CD player was loaded with what he thought of as his "guilty pleasure" CDs, ones he enjoyed listening to but wouldn't brag about having to most of his friends. These CDs usually helped him concentrate, but tonight they were serving more as a distraction than an inspiration. He was absent-mindedly singing along with Linda Rondstat's "Love is a Rose" when a knock came on his dorm room door.

He yelled, "Just a minute," as he reached for his remote in order to switch his stereo from CD to radio mode. As the strains of the latest effort from Ben Folds started to emerge from the speakers he did a backwards somersault off of the bean bag, rose to his feet, and went to open the door.

He had barely gotten it open when he was suddenly pelted in the chest by a football. Startled, he groped at the projectile, but was unable to keep it from hitting the ground. His efforts were met with a chuckle from the hallway which transformed to a theatrical gasp of astonishment as he glanced towards its source.

"How could you drop it, Roger? It was a perfect pass, right between the numbers." With those words the newcomer picked up the football and pushed past Roger into the dorm room.

Roger laughed under his breath as he shook his head, his usual reaction when dealing with his former floor-mate, who somehow managed to be both the most annoying and the most entertaining person Roger knew. A man of many paradoxes was Vick Chalmers. "To what do I owe this pleasure, Vick?"

Vick collapsed on the bean bag and began tossing the football in the air. "I need some help."

Roger sat down on the corner of his bed. "That goes without saying. What with? Spanish? Calculus? Poli Sci?"

Vick shook his head. "Women."

Roger gave Vick a suspicious look. "Since when do you need my help with women?"
Vick returned the look with a large smile which Roger knew only too well, a smile that boded no good for the one in its path.

"Since the girl I'm interested in went to high school with you." He waited a few seconds before unleashing the real bomb shell. "You do remember a Lisa Patterson, don't you?"

"Lisa's going to school here? Since when? And how did you meet her? And how did MY name come up?"

Vick held up is hands. "Whoa, Silver, hold up. One question at a time. I met her at that workshop I had to go to for my theater class this afternoon. During one of the lame icebreakers she had to say where she grew up. I figured there couldn't be two Talahina's in Oklahoma, so I introduced myself to her as a friend of yours. She nearly bowled me over asking questions about you, so I gave her your phone number. She should be calling you any minute now to ask you out to dinner sometime."

"You did WHAT?"

Vick's mischievous smile grew. "Hey, it was the least I could do. I mean, as long as I was having to update her on your exploits I couldn't really hit on her effectively. So I figured, what the heck, I'll just let you two kids get together and reminisce about the good ol' days back at Podunk High. And in the midst of your great reunion you can slip in how lucky you were that she ran into your wonderful friend Vick, and isn't he just the nicest guy? And completely single too, did I mention that?"

Roger stared at Vick for a minute before responding. "So you arranged this torture just so I can try to fix you up with her, is that it?"

"Why Roger, do you take me for such a shallow person to set this all up just so I could get a date?" Vick asked with a voice full of almost-convincing hurt. "I mean, it would be great if Lisa and I were to get together because of this. But even if we don't work out, at least I'll have the pleasure of watching you squirm in anticipation of your big dinner. And believe me, that will be payment enough."

As Roger gave Vick another suspicious look, he briefly thought that if he continued associating with his friend, his face would soon freeze that way.

“What makes you think that I’d be nervous to have lunch with her?” Faced with Vick’s carefully neutral expression, Roger felt a sudden burst of insight. “Oh, crap, that stupid game of Truth or Dare last year.”

“Oh, you mean this is THAT Lisa? Why, I had no idea. None whatsoever.” Vick’s amused expression belied his innocent words.

Roger tried to summon a sense of outrage, but after a year and a half of being friends with Vick, it took a lot more than that to kindle any sort of feeling other than bemused resignation.

"What if I don't agree to meet with her?"

"But you will, Roger. We both know you will, so there's no need to go through one of your 'hypothetical situations.'” Roger couldn’t argue with that; a determined Vick was like a force of nature, it was easiest to just retreat to your metal shelter and weather the storm.

“Just be sure to give me all of the gory details," he said, launching himself off the bean bag and towards the door in one fluid motion.

"What, aren't you going to stay and witness my humiliation in person?"

"As much as I would love to, it's time for flag football practice. I've got to go and undermine the quarterback's authority before game-time. Enjoy yourself, young one." Roger watched him leave with a sense of regret, although he wasn’t sure why
As he stared at the phone Roger reflected on his relationship with Lisa Patterson.

She had transferred to his small school in the middle of their sophomore year. Before the year was over, Roger was totally smitten. It had been more than just her good looks, which he was sure was a more likely reason for Vick noticing her than her mention of Talahina. No, what really won Roger's heart had been Lisa's acting talent. Her portrayal of the suicidal Jessie in the school's production of 'Night, Mother had touched him deeply. He was amazed that a girl who obviously had so much going for her could capture the spirit of a character who had nothing left to live for. One of the girls Lisa had beaten out for the part claimed it was because she didn't have a personality of her own to get in the way. Roger brushed that away as jealousy; he had seen the quiet steel hiding beneath her placid surface.

But Roger had been the school nerd, trapped in a shell of shyness which he found nearly impossible to break. He had had to settle for being her friend, especially after she started going out with one of his few friends. After graduation Roger had headed straight to a four year university, while most of his classmates went to the local junior college. Away from home for the first time, hours away from anyone who had ever known him, Roger finally found the strength to break free of his shell. But at the thought of seeing Lisa again, he could feel himself sliding into his old cocoon of cowardice.

His phone began to ring with that odd double tone which signified an off campus call. Roger began to back away from the phone, until he realized just how ridiculous that was. "Stop it, dummy," he scolded himself, "it's just a phone call." But the thought of answering the phone; of talking to his first big, unrequited love; of arranging a meeting with Lisa (he couldn’t even begin to think of it as a “date,” besides, she was surely still with John, they were such a perfect couple, why hadn’t he mentioned that to Vick?); of trying to be the new Roger in front of someone who only knew the old Roger; the sheer weight was overpoweringly frightening. He felt like there was a physical barrier surrounding the phone, a barrier which seemed to grow stronger with each double ring.

Staring numbly at the phone, he heard a phantom sniggering in his head. Realizing that he had internalized Vick’s sarcastic laugh, Roger snapped. Somehow finding a hidden reserve of strength, he reached for the phone, smashing the barrier back into the nothingness from which it came. But as he lifted the receiver to his ear all he heard was the dial tone. He slammed it back into its cradle and collapsed onto his bean bag, tears of frustration forming in his eyes. She would call back. He knew she would. And somehow that thought was even more frightening than the thought that she wouldn't.

*****************************************************************

Roger limped into the lobby of Kirby Hall with a snarl on his face. As if it wasn't bad enough that it was taking him ten to fifteen minutes longer than usual to walk to class with his injured foot, the janitors decided to lock the side door to the dorm on the coldest day of the semester so far, forcing him to hobble around to the front doors while the wind cut right through his thin jacket. All he wanted to do now was go upstairs to his room, dump his backpack on the floor, and relax to some of his "guilty pleasure" CDs. He was in an Abba mood, he decided.

Totally focused on getting to the elevator, he didn't notice the figure sitting on the lobby couch until it spoke. "Roger, what did you do to your foot?"

He was completely caught off guard by the sound of that voice. He turned towards the couch slowly, unsure of whether he really wanted to be right about the speaker’s identity. As his eyes fell on her, though, there was no mistaking her. It was Lisa Patterson. Roger felt his body go numb from shock.

"And don't you ever go to your room?" Lisa continued, the lack of an answer to her initial question not bothering her a bit. The small part of his brain that was still functioning theorized that she was used to having this effect on men. "I met your friend Vick a couple of weeks ago and he gave me your phone number. I've been trying to get a hold of you ever since then but you never answer. I even checked the campus directory to make sure I had the right number."

"Well, I usually only stay in my room whenever I'm ready to go to sleep," Roger explained, happy to escape into an exchange of trivial information, "and that's usually not until around two in the morning, so it's pretty hard to get in touch with me. Mom's always complaining about that too. I keep meaning to get voice mail, but I just haven't got around to it yet."

He neglected to mention that ever since that first nerve-wracking experience waiting for her call he had been avoiding all off campus calls like the plague. But now that she was actually here he could feel his pulse start to speed up. He couldn't believe that she had made the effort to find out where he lived. "I've been acting like a jerk," he thought to himself.

"I'm sorry you had to come all the way over here to talk to me," he said. "Let me go put up my backpack, and then we can go get something to eat."

"Actually," Lisa said, "it's just luck that I ran into you, I'm supposed to meet someone here for lunch to work on a group project.” Roger struggled furiously to keep his disappointment from manifesting on his features. “But I am glad that you came in," she continued, scribbling on a corner torn from the college newspaper, and then handing it to Roger. "Here's my number. I'm a little bit easier to get a hold of than you, apparently. So I'll be expecting a call before the week is over, okay?"

Roger was saved from having to verbalize a response by a loud voice coming from around the corner of the lobby. "I can't believe they locked the doors," the voice was complaining. "It's frickin' freezin’ out there!" An instant later Vick rounded the corner along with his cousin Karen, who lived on the fourth floor of Kirby.

A huge smile began to spread across Vick's face as he saw Roger and Lisa together. "Hey guys, what's up? Glad to see you two finally got a chance to get together."

Before either one of them could respond the elevator doors opened up behind them.
"Are these punks bothering you, Lisa? You want I should take care of them?" These not-quite-joking words came from Mitch, a thoroughly unpleasant individual who Vick had often theorized only got into college in order to fulfill a “muscle-bound moron” quota. The numbness returned to Roger's body.

"That's OK Mitch," Lisa said, "I think I can handle these two by myself." She picked up her purse and headed towards the doors with Mitch. "I'd better get a call from you real soon, Roger," she called over her shoulder, "or I just might let Mitch take care of you." And with that she was gone.

Feeling his knees begin to give, Roger started towards the elevator, Vick and Karen following close on his heels.

"What, are you going to let that ape walk away with my girl?" Vick asked as Roger pushed the call button. "You're supposed to be going out with her, extolling my virtues, not letting her by wooed by that monkey."

"Leave him alone, Vick," Karen said. Roger was staring at the elevator, wondering why it was taking so long to come down.

"Why didn't you use the limp, man? All you had to do was exaggerate it a little bit, make yourself look more pitiful than usual, if that's even possible. Chicks eat that stuff up." Karen snorted at his use of the word chicks, as she usually did. Roger found himself starting to smile despite himself.

"What, you think it was an accident I broke your toe while we were playing ball?" Vick continued. "I knew you would need every weapon you could get. It’s not like you have my stunning good looks and suave personality to fall back on."

The elevator finally reached the ground floor. Roger tried to maintain his scowl as the doors opened, but finally let out an exasperated laugh. "Can't you let me wallow in my misery for at least a couple of minutes?"

Vick shook his head violently. "Nope, it's against my policy to let anyone I'm seen hanging around with be depressed." He slipped into his radio announcer voice. "Our motto here at Vick's is if you look sad, I look bad. And believe me, between your love life and my cousin’s abysmal GPA, I'm exhausted almost all of the time."

"What do you mean my love life? I thought it was your love life you were worried about."

"Oh, did I say YOUR love life? Man, what was I thinking?" He flashed his mischievous smile once more as the elevator doors started to open. "Well, looks like your stop, guess you gotta go, no time to talk, buh bye." He started to push Roger out into the elevator landing, pausing for an instant to say, "Not that I'm rushing you or anything," before finally ejecting him from the elevator. As the doors started to close Vick flashed him a military salute. "Buck up, soldier. Before I have to break another toe."

Roger stared at the elevator for moment, half-tempted to hobble quickly up the stairs to Karen’s room to slap Vick around, but he knew it would be a waste of time. He glanced at the piece of paper Lisa had handed to him. Vick was right, he reluctantly decided. It was time to give her a call. "What's the worst that could happen?" he muttered to himself, extremely glad that Vick wasn't there to answer him.

*****************************************************************

"You WHAT?" Roger's mouth would have been hanging open in astonishment if not for the fact that he had just shoved in a handful of cheese fries. He hurriedly chewed the mass of food until he could comfortably speak around it. "When?"

"We broke up sometime in September," Lisa answered, casually taking a sip of her Dr. Pepper. "We decided this long term, long distance commitment thing wasn't going to work."

"But you guys were the prefect couple. It was always like you were already married." Roger wasn't exaggerating a bit. Lisa and John had seemed made for each other, like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting of the All American boy and his girl. The sheer perfection of their relationship had added to Roger's reluctance to express his true feelings to Lisa.

"That was our big problem, though," Lisa continued. "We'd been like a married couple for over three years. I'm too young for that sort or thing."

Roger tried to assimilate this new information. He was really at a loss for what to say now. His dinner with Lisa had started off slowly. Ever since they had gotten to Eskimo Joe's their conversation had consisted of the same old trivia he had to spew every time he ran into anyone from high school: how did he like school, how were his grades, did he ever miss Talihina? He hated those little gabfests. He had changed so much since high school, and most of his friends had changed so little, that he never knew how to act. His question about John had been his last hope of starting a real conversation.

"You never did tell me what happened to your foot," Lisa said, saving Roger from having to rack his brain any longer. "Did you strain something studying too hard?"

The good-natured jab at Roger’s book-worm qualities rankled a bit. Struggling to appear nonchalant, he replied, "Nah, I was playing basketball with Vick the other day. He tried to push past me, our feet got tangled together, and when we went down he somehow broke my toe."

Lisa gazed at him with a strange look on her face. "I didn't think you liked to play basketball."

It's not that he didn't like to play, he thought to himself. It's just that in high school he was always afraid of embarrassing himself. But Vick had assured him that if he didn't embarrass himself playing basketball, Vick was going to embarrass him somewhere else, so he might as well be getting in shape when it happened. As usually happened when faced with Vick-logic, Roger conceded defeat.

"Well, Vick needed someone else to play, and I was the only one around." It was the truth, but only a part of it. Why was he so nervous about letting her know how he had changed?

The look on Lisa's face didn't change. "Speaking of Vick, did he say much about what happened when he and I met?"

"Not really. Just that he told you he knew me, you asked him about me, and he gave you my number."

"Did he tell you what I asked about you?"

"No oo," Roger said slowly, not sure where she was going with this.

"I asked him if you were still the same shy kid you were in high school. And know what he did? Nearly fell out of his chair laughing. He said he couldn't remember the last time anyone had called you shy, that you were one of the most out spoken people he knew. Then he gave me your number so I could see what he was talking about."

Roger stared at her, unsure of how to react, but positive of one thing: he was going to kick Vick's butt as soon as he saw him, broken toe or not. He knew Lisa was waiting for him to say something, but he found himself struck speechless.

Apparently tired of the silence, she continued with some exasperation, "You know what? I'm still waiting to see what he was talking about. After I finally ran into you I thought he was just pulling my leg. But I've been watching you tonight, Roger. There's something different about you, and you're trying to cover it up."

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"Oh, come on, Roger. Just because I wasn't valedictorian doesn't mean I'm an idiot.” He winced at the sharpness in her tone. “You don’t get to be a good actress without being able to read people. And I can tell you've been putting on an act ever since I saw you in Kirby the other day, and I'd like to know why."

Roger was flabbergasted. He had never heard Lisa talk like that before. In her own way, she had been as quiet and unassuming as he had back in high school; she just had the self-confidence that made it work for her. To hear her speak so bluntly, to finally let that inner steel shine through . . . maybe he wasn't the only one who had changed in the past year and a half. He decided he had better come clean.

"It's just that everyone knew me as the nerd in school for as long as I could remember. Every time I tried to change my image I stopped myself because I was afraid that people would like the real me even less. I broke out of that shell when I came to college here, but I still have trouble being the new me around people from back home. I wasn't sure if you could handle an out spoken version of me."

Lisa was shaking her head. "Roger, how could you possibly think that I wouldn't want you to break out of your shell?"

"Hey, just because I was valedictorian doesn't mean I'm a genius, okay?" Lisa laughed, which put him at ease. "Listen, I'll make you a deal. I'll try to loosen up and be myself if you agree to go out with Vick once."

"I told you I'm not looking for a relationship right now."

"Trust me, neither is he. And I think he was only using the excuse of hitting on you to get me to see you.”

A skeptical look crossed her face. “You think he was saying he wanted you to set him up with me because he was trying to set me up with you? That seems like an awful lot of effort, don’t you think?”

Roger shrugged. “Maybe that was it, or maybe he was just enjoying a new type of mind game. He loves trying to shake people up. But if you could go out with him in your full-on 'vamp' mode, maybe he'll be the one shaken up for once."

Lisa looked at him quizzically. "Are you sure that will work? Vick doesn't seem like the type who'd be shaken up that easily."

"Believe me, out of all the things that could shake him up, you are the one that I will enjoy seeing in action the most."

As the two began to outline a plan to give Vick a taste of his own medicine, Roger stifled a sigh. So, here they were: the new Roger and the new Lisa, falling into a new variation of an old theme, that eternal quagmire known as “let’s just be friends.”

“The more things change,” he thought to himself bitterly, and then dove headfirst into drafting their plan of attack.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

TV Tues. - And the Monkee goes to . . .

Quite an exciting week for TV junkies such as myself. Several new series started up, the bulk of the new SF/Fantasy/Horror shows have turned out to be pretty good, some of my favorites returned, and only one of the shows I watched made me want to claw out my eyes and rip off my ears to stop the torture.

Let's begin, shall we?
Let's begin, shall we?

Bones: I know Fellow Book Monkey and Blogger Bubblegum Tate had some issues with the legalities of the first episode, but luckily I am pretty blissfully unaware of that stuff, so I can just bask in the fun characters. Honestly, as long as every ep contains at least one scene where one character makes a pop culture reference, and Bones responds "I don't know what that means," I'll be happy. That might have to go on my "It's always funny" list.

Gilmore Girls: Have I mentioned before how much I love this show? Because I really, really do. That's not to say that I don't get annoyed at times when the characters act too stubborn for their own good, but I can forgive them such small annoyances when they have so many scenes that make me laugh out loud, like Luke's plan to reenact the scene from one of the Godfather movies, or the discussion about how ludicrous it was that Obi-Wan got Annakin to back down because he "had the high ground." Y'know, that wasn't one of my many, many complaints about Revenge of the Sith, but now that they've mentioned it . . .

Supernatural: Was quite pleased with the second ep of the series, thought it held up the promising premise very well. The interplay between Sam and Dean (yes, I've already begun to think of them by their character names, and not by their former-characters-on-other-shows names always a good sign) is fun, and feels like a real sibling bond. Looking forward to tonight's ep, which, according to the previews, features one of my favorite Whedon-verse veterans, Amy Acker, a.k.a. Fred/Illyria on Angel. Which reminds me, this week we get to see yet another Whedon-verse vet pop up on the WB when James Marsters, a.k.a. Spike, begins a recurring role on Smallville as Brainiac.

CSI: A solid ep which set up some interesting plot threads for the rest of the season.

Criminal Minds: Yet another procedural series. While I'm a bit burned out on the genre at this point, and the whole "getting into the criminal mind and imagining their p.o.v." angle feels done to death by now, the characters and interesting overall story won me over. Will just have to see if how subsequent eps stack up.

The O.C.: Again, the over-the-top evilness of Eric Mabius's character bugged me, while the what-the-heck-is-she-planning evilness of Jeri Ryan piqued my interest. I also enjoyed the discussions of the potential ramifications for uber-geek Seth now that Ryan's not around to protect him anymore.

ER: I know a lot of the old-school fans have given up on the show, but I can't help myself. I like Ray, Abby, and Neela a lot, so this last ep focusing on their trials and tribulations during their first R2 shift kept me entertained. The stubborn Sam storyline, however, did not. I liked her character when she first started, but apparently the Luka-relationship-curse is still in effect, where whoever he becomes romantically involved with suddenly becomes annoying and/or uninteresting until the disentangle themselves from his clutches.

How I Met Your Mother: The multiple-party-throwing story was almost a bit too ludicrous for me, but on the whole, a strong second ep. NPH once again stole the show, you can tell he's relishing the chance to smash his Doogie image into the ground.

Two and a Half Men: Much better than the season premiere, although Alan's nervous babbling at the principal's office grated on my nerves. Also, this is the second week in a row with no Rose, which bodes ill for the show. Still, almost every Charlie-centric scene was great. Personally, I liked his "Stop-and-Gonuts" name.

And now, on to the premiere edition of the Golden Monkees, the Crisis of Infinite Monkeys TV Achievement Awards. The envelope, please!

Most improved second episode award:Threshold: After trying to cram way too much into the pilot, this follow up ep finds the right balance between plot and character, and doesn't fall into any glaring "Why would they do that, nobody in their right mind would do that!" situations.

Much better than I had expected award (Drama): Surface: Out of all the SF shows, this was the one I was dreading the most. Well, unless you count the touchy-feely Ghost Whisperer, which I don't. And yes, I'm judging it without seeing it, so if you have a dissenting opinion, feel free to share. But back to Surface: just about every critic I had seen had totally panned the show, so even though the concept sounded interesting, I taped it and waited till the week was almost over before dad and I sat down to watch it. To our mutual surprise, we both liked it a lot. It was definitely different from what I had expected, but in a good way. The central mystery has me hooked for the moment. I'm not sure why the critics gave it such a drubbing, maybe they had seen more eps and had a broader basis for judgment, or maybe they just didn't get into it as much as dad and I did. Which is only fair, since dad and I didn't get into one of the shows which a lot of the critics seemed to love, but more on that in a minute.

Much better than I had expected award (Sitcom): My Name is Earl: My expectations of this show was the opposite of my Surface experience. Here, the critics all loved it, but the ads did not win me over at all. However, after positive feedback from Zinger, mom and I watched it, and loved it. The white-trash characters with a faux-intellectual bent gave it a bit of a Raising Arizona vibe, which was a big plus for me.

Most disappointing new series (Drama): Invasion: First off, this was not a *horrible* show by any stretch of the imagination. But there was something about it which just didn't click with me. Part of it might have been the characters, none of which appealed to me, especially Dr. Overbearing Mother. Part of it might have been the extreme convenience of having someone figure out there were aliens in the first ep with no firm evidence, and yet still being able to nearly convince somebody else that his crackpot ideas were right. Or, it could have been some other intangible which just turned us off. Whatever the reason, I'm hoping that it can turn itself around.

Most disappointing new series (Sitcom): Out of Practice: Love the cast, has some really funny moments, but the overall structure has already grown old, and its only two episodes in. If the third ep ends with Chris Gorham getting ticked off at his family, causing them to follow him around apologizing profusely, only for him to suddenly realize that they really do care about him in their own twisted way, then I’ll have to bid the show adieu.

Most satisfying resolution to a cliffhanger: Lost: Words can't even describe how much I loved the opening sequence of the season premiere. This show is still firing on all cylinders. Was glad to hear some characters verbally acknowledge Locke's encounter with the black smoke. By far my favorite drama on TV right now.

Most horrifyingly bad returning series: Joey: I've tried to like this show, really I have. And often-times, I would succeed. It has some good points: a likeable cast, especially Jennifer Coolidge as Joey's agent (might need to ad Jennifer to my "always makes me laugh" list, she consistently cracks me up in whatever she's in), and some literally Laugh Out Loud funny jokes. Sadly, in order to enjoy the cast and the great jokes, you have to slog through the incessantly painful, predictable, moronic plotlines. This ep had some of the classic "guaranteed to make Todd see red" plot points. The two most glaring are the nephew trying to start a relationship by lying through his teeth, and miscommunication between Joey and Alex about how they really feel about each other. The latter is the more horrifying, since it's obviously setting up the will-they/won't-they storyline for at least the first half of the season.

And then there were the "even Joey can't be that dumb, can he?" moments. For me, there's a very fine line to walk when you have a character whose sole purpose is to be the token idiot. I find it a lot easier to stomach characters doing embarrassing things if they are self-absorbed, narcissistic, and in complete denial about the results of their behavior, than if the character is good-natured and earnest, which usually leave me writhing in sympathetic awkward pain. For the first type, see Gob on Arrested Development, and Michael on the U.S. version of The Office. Brief side note here: for some reason the BBC's Michael has always evoked the painful reaction in me, maybe because Ricky Gervais always seemed like he was on some level aware of what he was doing, while Steve Carrel's character obviously is not. Warren Cheswick on Ed is the prime example of the painful, awkward character moments for me; I would always tape Ed because I knew the odds were good that if the ep had a Warren storyline, I would have to fast-forward through it. I don't know if the above can accurately describe just how much I loathed the season premiere of Joey. The fact that it has some pretty stiff competition (Survivor, Smallville, The O.C.) means that I shall be cutting it loose from my viewing schedule with little regret.

Reality Show Moment of the Week: three-way tie!
1)The Apprentice: The Donald firing the cocky troublemaker and then basically telling her rival to wipe the cocky grin off her face because she had done a crappy job and had nothing to be proud about

2)Ultimate Fighter 2: The house full of mixed-martial arts fighters running around playing hide-and-go-seek to relieve their boredom

3)Survivor: Gary Hogeboom's priceless expression when he realized that someone on the other tribe knows he used to play in the NFL

Okay, that should just about do it for the Golden Monkees. Highlights for this upcoming week in TV include the return of Everwood, Smallville, Amazing Race, and the incomparable Veronica Mars. I'm not particularly happy with UPN's decision to put Veronica, one of the best new shows of last season, on against Lost, the very best new show of last season. At least UPN seems to have realized this is a silly set-up, and have committed to re-running each Veronica ep on the weekends. So, be sure to catch the new season, which will feature not only a brand spanking new season-long mystery, but also yet another Buffy/Angel vet, Charisma "Cordelia" Carpenter.


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Monday, September 26, 2005

Movie Mon. - She's a lumberjack and she's okay

First thing's first: I am done with the Capstone! Woo-hoo! And now I get to wait for 2-4 weeks to find out if I passed it all or not! Woo-hoo! I'll either be living in constant agony, or, at the very least, repressing all of my anxiety and the watching it erupt in weird and socially awkward behavior! Ain't life grand?

And now, as step one in my quest to pretend that the Capstone isn't just floating out there, mocking me: on to the movie stuff!

Last Tuesday, before diving in to the Capst . . . er, something or other, don't quite remember what, it's not very important right now, don't know why I even brought it up . . . um, anyway, last Tuesday I headed to the local video store right at opening to pick up a couple of movies I had been wanting to see for quite some time which were finally coming out on DVD. Walk in, head straight for the "M"s, quickly scan the shelves, and realize that the movie which was the primary reason I had ventured forth was not available. And I don't mean not available as in "darn, I was too slow and somebody already rented the only copy"; no, I mean not available as in “this stinking video store does not own a copy of this movie." Nonplussed, I went ahead and rented two other new releases that I had been wanting to see (just not as much as the one which wasn't there), and then drove across the street to the competition to see if they might have the much desired film. Walked into the new store, and had to restrain myself from breaking into a full out run to escape the overpowering stench of their so-called "air fresheners." Seriously, I can feel my throat closing up just thinking about it. Still, I was on a mission, and so speed-walked over the "M"s, only to discover that this store had an even more miserable selection than the previous one, not even owning one of the films I had already rented. And for that I risked life and lungs? Never again!

Anyhoo, on to the reviews.

Mindhunters: One of those "was supposed to come out two years ago but kept getting pushed back before being dumped into theaters with little fanfare and yanked almost as quickly" films, and after watching it, all I can say is: why? I mean, it's not the greatest movie I've ever seen, to be sure, and yes, there were a few plot points that were a bit too convenient, and yes, the group attitude towards LL Cool J was a bit over the top, and yes, Patricia Velasquez's performance was so eye-gougingly painful that I began to theorize that she only got the part because she was the only actress on the planet who would agree to do the shower scene with Christian Slater, but all in all, an enjoyable little serial-killer flick. Inventive deaths, several "did not see that coming" moments, and enough red herrings to make me doubt my original suspicion as to whodunit (which was right, btw). Been a bit too distracted to come up with a rating system yet, but for right now I'll give this a status of "okay for rental, if you like this sort of thing." How's that for standing firmly by my position? Oh, and the "I know I know him/her but can't quite place the face" award goes to Eion Bailey, better known as Dr. Jake on ER. Okay, actually, he's probably better known as "that doctor who's been flirting with Abby, but nothing will ever come of it because nobody gets to have a functioning relationship on this show without getting killed or something" on ER. And the "great googly-moogly, that's who that was?" award goes to the mind-numbingly bad mindhunter Patricia Valeasquez, who, I discovered when looking up her name for this post, played Marta, Gob's ex-girlfriend on Arrested Development. I guess that stilted "are you sure she understands what she's saying?" accent works better for comedy than for drama.

Lightning Bug: interesting indie film starring Bret Harrison, a.k.a. Brad from Grounded for life, as a small-town trailer trash kid who dreams of becoming an FX artist for horror films. Things start to fall apart after his mom marries a homicidal drunk, and he starts dating that red-headed lumberjack girl from That 70s Show. Yes, I know her name is Laura Prepon, it just always cracked me up when they'd refer to her as a lumberjack on the show. Don't know why, but it does. It's even on my "5 things that are always funny in TV and movies" list. In no particular order:

  • Jackie making lumberjack references about Donna on That 70s Show
  • Anne Heche and Peter MacNicol's chain reaction screaming on Ally McBeal
  • Angel singing and/or dancing on Angel
  • Gob performing to "The Final Countdown" on Arrested Development
  • People getting hit in the face

Anyway, the lumberjack's mom turns out to be a crazy religious type who seems bent on making our hero's life more miserable than it already is. Throw in a couple of violent deaths, and hey, it's a party! I liked the movie overall, although there was one scene involving naughty teenage behavior in an empty church that made me VERY uncomfortable, so if you're sensitive to that sort of stuff, consider yourself warned. I did appreciate that after all the talk of the church folk being nuts, one of the saner characters responded to the lumberjack's mom's question about why he hadn't been coming to services with the comment "I prefer a Bible based doctrine." Made the whole "sanctimonious church folk" pill a little bit easier to swallow.

The Brothers Grimm: Let me preface this by saying that Terry Gilliam is one of my favorite directors; I've seen Brazil, The Fisher King, and my favorite, Twelve Monkeys many, many times. So I had been excited about this film when I first heard about it a long, long, LONG time ago. But then, it also fell prey to the "keep pushing it back" bug, and when it did get released, the reviews were less than glowing. Still, there was part of me that remained hopeful, and so when my folks and I started trying to agree on a movie that all three of us might enjoy, it was a nice surprise to find out that the only favorable option was The Brothers Grimm. So, how was the movie? Not great, I'm sorry to say. Not horrible either, mind you, but not great. I think it's one I might enjoy more on subsequent viewings, since most of my issues came with the incredibly slow-moving beginning, which felt a tad disjointed and shoddily edited to me, but could have just been a victim of faulty expectations on my part. But once they moved off into the village with the enchanted forest, the film picked up quite a bit. Some nice creepy imagery there, especially the scene with the horse and the spiders. Ugh, spiders *shudder* Muy, muy creepy. My biggest quibble with the film was the performance of Peter Stormare as Cavaldi. Normally, I'm a big fan of Stormare and his idiosyncratic performances, but this time around, it just didn't work for me. His over-the-top scenery-chewing just didn't mesh well with the rest of the film, IMO. The "Hey, isn't that . . ." award for this film goes to the scrawnier of the Grimms' assistants, played by Mackenzie Crook, best known in the States either as Gareth (the assistant TO the regional manager) on the original, BBC The Office, or as the pirate with a wooden eye in Pirates of the Caribbean.

Okay, that's it for now, tune in tomorrow to find out just how many new shows I've become addicted to already, which new show was a bit of a let down, which new show was a bit of a surprise, and which returning sitcom had me contemplating self-immolation because it would have hurt less than having to deal with the inane plot.

Oh, and the DVD they didn't have in stock? Martin and Orloff, a film practically no one has heard of, written by and starring two of the Upright Citizens Brigade.

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Sunday, September 25, 2005

Vox Popular

Ever since last Sunday, when I decided to work my friends into the blog only by way of nicknames, I have discovered something interesting: there are practically no preexisting nicknames among The Singles. Honestly, every time I've thought to talk about someone from that group, I've had to stop and wrack my brains to come up with a suitable alias. Not so for the Parkerites and Book Monkeys; they're practically drowning in nicknames. Heck, I can think of half a dozen for The Wiz alone off the top of my head. But when it comes to The Singles, I'm at a loss. Not quite sure why that is; maybe its a factor of the total amount of time the other groups spent with each other, living and working together, as opposed to The Singles who generally only see each other once or twice a week; maybe it's a factor of age, most of the Parkerites and Book Monkeys being underclassman or surrounded by underclassman at the time of the naming; maybe it’s a result of my having more of an online connection with IMs and Fantasy Football and Message Boards and so on with the first two groups; maybe it's something else entirely, I can't say with any surety. But while the Parkerites and Book Monkeys may share a wealth of nicknames, The Singles do have claim to a singular experience: The Popular Song.

A couple of years ago, Trouble invited The Singles to her parents' place in Colorado for a rafting trip. So, a group of about eight of us crowded into a vehicle and began the day-long trek. Several hours into the drive, while trying to distract ourselves from The Fireman's daredevil driving through the mountains, the topic of my forays into acting in high school came up. I mentioned that I had had a solo in a school play, and Disaster Girl asked if I would sing it. From the front, Mama Lightbulb overheard the tail end of this conversation, and hollered back to us "Are you going to serenade her?" Which effectively put a stop to the possibility of my singing the song . . . or so I thought.

Fast forward to the next day, when our group is paddling down the river. Due to the size of our party, we were split up between a couple of rafts. During a lull in conversation, when our raft was separated a bit from the rest of the rafts, somebody (either Disaster Girl or Mama Lightbulb, can't remember which) brings up the interrupted "serenade." Rehashing the story for the raft, I politely demurred from performing, until after much arm twisting and brow beating I was forced to cast aside my shy persona and perform. Yes, it was torture, sheer torture, being the center of attention. But I digress . . .

Not too long after the requisite polite round of applause, our raft enters a calm area, where several of the rafts have gathered to allow folks to swim a bit. We pull up beside the rest of our group, and someone informs them that they just missed a bravura performance from yours truly. They, of course, are crestfallen, and rather than allow the awesome rafting experience to be tainted by the knowledge that they had been deprived of something truly special, I belted out the song again, to the delight of all The Singles . . . and the confusion of the three or four other rafts full of strangers. I thought that would be the end of it, but oh, how naive I was. For as soon as we had returned to Texas, the tale began to spread, and I found myself constantly being tasked (generally thanks to the Machiavellian machinations of Papa Lightbulb) to transform myself into a performing monkey. Soon, it was decided that you were not really a part of The Singles group if you had not been treated to the wonder that is The Popular Song. By this point, most of the original audience can probably sing along, although they tend to only join in on the last line.

I can hear the restless rumblings from my non-Singles blog monkeys, so I shall now enlighten you as to the nature of The Popular Song. Back during my 8th grade year, the vocal and speech classes got together to put on a musical: Funky Winkerbean's Homecoming, based, of course, on Tom Batiuk's syndicated newspaper strip. I had the pleasure of portraying Les Moore, the school nerd. My selection for this role wasn't typecasting, though. No the story of my casting goes like this: the role had more lines than any other in the play and nobody else wanted to put in the effort to learn them, so I got it by default. Anyway, my solo was a song in which the lonely Les bemoans his status as an outsider . . . nope, not typecasting at all!


And now, I present to you (to the extent that I can remember a song I first performed almost 16 years ago) the lyrics to The Popular Song!

Why must I be all alone
No girlfriend to write
No girlfriend to phone
Oh why, oh whyyyy
Can't I be
Popular?!?!

I'd just like to have some friends
Once before the school-year ends
Oh why, oh whyyyy
Can't I be
Popular?!?!

Everyone seem so excited
So happy and carefree
So why must I spend homecoming night
with Dallas on TV?

Maybe there's still hope that I can get
A cheerleader, or a majorette
Oh why, oh whyyyy
Can't I be
Popular?!?!

Is there someone out there just for me?
And does she live in the same country?
Oh why, oh whyyyy
Can't I be
Popular?!?!

Maybe I'm too introspective
Maybe I'm too deep
While the other kids are having fun
I'm getting lots of sleep.

I hope that I can ge-et a date
Once before I gra-aduate
Oh why, oh whyyyy
Can't I be
{long pause}
Pahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhp!
Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu!
Larrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!

So, tell me, good and faithful blog monkeys, was it everything you dreamed it would be? I know, I know, it couldn’t help but be a bit of a disappointment without the benefit of my dulcet tones, and for that you have my deepest sympathies. Maybe, someday, if you live right, say your prayers, and eat all your vegetables like good little blog monkeys, you’ll get to hear it in person. After much arm twisting and brow-beating, of course.


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Saturday, September 24, 2005

Maybe I'm too introspective, maybe I'm too deep

Last Sunday I talked a little bit about the main group of guys and gals I hang out with on a semi-regular basis, ending with a joking tease of further posts detailing why exactly we hang out. Well, half-joking, anyway. And as often happens with this sort of thing, my brain started fixating on the idea, preventing me from getting sleep for several nights because I couldn't stop the endless cycle of ceasless conjecture, pointless pondering, and infinite introspection*. So, did I come up with any definitive answers, other than that sleep deprivation is detrimental to overall coherence? Danged if I know. Still, one of the weird aspects of my borderline-OCD personality requires that when I'm caught in one of these mental loops, the only way out is to communicate the info to others, in effect exorcising it. Of course, there have been times when such communication has caused more harm than good, but that's neither here nor there right now.

So, once again, venture (if you dare) into the long and winding corridors of randomness that make up my brain. Warning: exposure to neurotic tendencies highly likely.

The first big question that got stuck in my head is what exactly is it that we have in common that compels us to socialize? Let's take them in reverse order, shall we?

Group #3, a.k.a. "The Singles," is the easiest to pin down on this issue, since they are the only group I am actively a part of right now. One of the purposes of our Sunday School structure is to foster relationships and act as a support system. Now, the degree to which we socialize varies due to changes in the makeup of the group, as well as structural changes to the department itself. A recent shift to a small-group structure has allowed the relationships within each small-group to strengthen, but the overall class cohesion has weakened a bit. And since my small-group is practically non-existent, well, let's just say there's a reason why your favorite Head Monkey has so much free time for TV and movie watching on his hands.

The socialization of Group #2, a.k.a. "The Book Monkeys," can be summed up best as "common interests." What sort of interests? Primarily obscure/offbeat/cheesy movies, unhealthy hours of television viewage, and a love of all things Whedon. Throw in a disturbingly similar sense of humor and way too many "Get out of my head!" moments, and you've got a first-class reason for hanging out. I really miss the days when we would gather together to enjoy and/or mock the latest episodes of Survivor, Dawson, Felicity, etc.

Group #1, a.k.a. "The Parkerites," is a bit harder to pin down. Sure, there are some similar tastes in books, TV, and movies, but it’s hardly as uniform across the whole group as it is with The Book Monkeys. To be honest, there have been times when I've felt like the only thing I had in common with this group was our mutual housing situation during our early collegiate years. True, there had to be more than that to draw us together into a group initially, since none of us were connected to each other by the random roommate process, but I think it was the shared experience that bonded us more than anything else. As long as we stayed in that mutual environment, everything was hunky-dorey. Once we were out of it, however . . .

There was a time when I fell out of touch with most of this group, and so when we would have one of our infrequent get-togethers, there was often some awkwardness, from my perspective, at least. The vagaries of life had caused changes on both sides, and it was often difficult to recapture whatever it was that had made us friends in the first place. I think this was compounded by the fact that a small portion of us stayed in good contact and saw each other regularly, while another portion did the same, but rarely the twain would meet. Which could cause problems in social dynamics at the best of times, but throw in my paranoia and "outsider" complex, and, well, like I said, awkwardness. I think the situation has vastly improved over the last few years, as communication and regular gatherings have increased, and as I've slowly whittled my paranoia down to a manageable level {knock on wood} (Maybe I should have saved this for a Therapeutic Thursday?)

In the end, I think the sheer number of years we've been associated with each other (remember: over a third of our lives) has created a sort of gravitational pull that we can't quite escape from. Over time, I've started to think of this group as a sort of extended family; a bunch of siblings, cousins, in-laws, nieces and nephews, and that crazy drunk uncle that you keep hoping won't come to Thanksgiving because you really don't want to witness all of the emotional scarring his reckless behavior leaves in its wake. Yes, it's a dysfunctional family to be sure, with stupid fights, bitter rivalries, and secret resentments; but even if you don't always like your family members, there's still something there that you can't quite escape, the bond of blood (metaphorical though it may be) that's thicker than water . . . and maybe I should go back and re-title this "Sappy Saturday," huh? Oh, well, what's done is done, it's not like there's some sort of magic key that can move back spaces and delete what's been written, right?

Moving on to the second big issue that's been floating in my head: What role do I play in these groups? I think this question will be more fully addressed in my forthcoming self-help book, "Everything I Know About Group Dynamics I Learned From Watching Sitcoms." And yeah, that's a joke, but one with a kernel of truth in it. If you look at any Sitcom (or even most dramas), odds are good that each character fulfils a specific, singular function in the group. Take Friends for example:

  • Joey is the dim but charming one
  • Phoebe is the ditzy but "spiritual" one
  • Chandler is the insecure but funny one
  • Monica is the highly competitive but nurturing one
  • Ross is the supposedly intelligent but incredibly, horribly, gratingly annoying one
  • Rachel is the supposedly interesting but really bland, useless, and superfluous one
The other example that springs to mind is Cheers:
  • Sam is the lothario
  • Diane is the prude
  • Norm is the clown
  • Carla is the biting wit
  • Coach/Woody is the naive one
  • Cliff is the weirdo who annoys everyone but gets to hang around anyway
I could go on, but I suspect you probably don't want me to. Point is, after years and years of media-saturation, there's a part of me that's bought into the whole "a role for every person, and a person for every role" scenario, and it’s that part that can't help but wonder: what role do I fill? Am I the smart one? The funny one? The prudish one? The loud one? The dramatic one? The weird one? All of the above? Or none? I'm definitely the thinks-too-much-for-his-own-good one, that's for sure.

One of the difficulties of this idea is the fact that I can feel myself changing my role for different groups. I'm much more outspoken and gregarious with The Book Monkeys than I am with the other; I'm more apt to show my temper around The Parkerites; and The Singles get to see me in teacher-mode. Back during my Freshman year of college, one of the girls in the dorm really got under my skin when she suggested that I needed to "grow a personality" or something to that effect. I think it bothered me so much because there was some truth to it. I was starting over fresh at a place where nobody knew me as the school nerd, and I was therefore free to reinvent myself (even though, before that first semester was over, one oh-so-kind dorm resident would say to me "How could you bomb that test, I thought you were some super-nerd," which did wonders for my self-esteem, don't you know). I unconsciously tested out several groups of people, shifting to meet expectations, searching for the one that fit me best.

That social-chameleon aspect is still present, to a certain extent. If one group finds a certain personality quirk annoying, while another group finds it endearing, that information is filed away for future behavioral reference. It's not a perfect science, of course: I was so excited to go to my 10-year high school reunion and act like the new, redefined, outgoing me, but instead found myself slipping back into the old patterns almost instantly.

I know that I'm not alone in this, that almost everyone modifies their behavior from group to group to some extent, but I'd wager I think about it more than most. I chalk that up to the remainder of the "outsider" complex, trying to convince me that every role that I try to fill is better suited for another group member. I can hear the little bugger now: Want to be the funny one? Sorry, you can't hold a candle to The Squatch or Captain Inappropriate**. Want to be the smart one? Dude, these are all honor students, get in line! Want to be the creative one? May I introduce The Wiz? Want to be the takes-himself-too-seriously-and-alienates-others one? It's all you, baby, have at it!

Of course, in the end, the whole "what role do you fill?" thing is total junk. We're all too complex to be boiled down into simple "I'm the X, Y, or Z one" statements, and wanting to fulfill some master role is just ego anyway. "I'm the funny/smart/whatever one" really translates into "I'm the funniest/smartest/whateverist one," which is worthless. Why should I worry about getting the biggest laughs 24-7, or being the ultimate fount of knowledge, or any of a thousand other 'ultimate" roles? As long as I can make my friends laugh every once in a while, provide some helpful info/advice occasionally, and appreciate it when others do the same, shouldn't that be enough?

Besides, I can always rest easy in my role as "biggest comic book geek."

*Yes, this is part of the inspiration for today's title. For the source, check out tomorrow's highly requested post (hey, with the number of readers I have, one request is equal to highly requsted, okay?) about the Popular Song
**This is a provisional nick-name until I can think of something more entertaining and/or appropriate.

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Friday, September 23, 2005

Firefly Fanatic Friday

I would be remiss in my duties as a Complete & Total Firefly Pusher Monkey if I didn't take this moment to note that Serenity opens one week from today.

What's Serenity you may well ask, and if you do, well, sir, I pity you. I pity you for not experiencing the wonder and joy which is Joss Whedon's Firefly. For the uninitiated, please click here or here and bask in some Serenity trailery goodness. And if that doesn't convince you to drag all of your family, friends, co-workers, casual acquaintances, and random people you meet on the street to the theater next Friday, then try these testimonials*:

"The wife and I got so hooked on your Firefly DVDs that I was under threat of death if I watched any of the eps without her."
-- teh Wrath

"The fong luh idiots who cancelled this show have feioo for brains."
-- Zinger

"This show is shiny!"
-- The Wiz

"I'm not a big SF fan, but after watching a couple of episodes I was hooked. Started thinking about it day and night . . . couldn't focus on homework . . . watched the episodes over and over again . . . I need my fix, man!"
-- Papa Lightbulb

"I curse the day you showed my husband those DVDs."
-- Mama Lightbulb

"How the heck could they cancel a show this great?"
-- my dad, after we watched all 13 eps back-to-back in one day.

Still not convinced? Well, if the word of my family and friends isn't enough, then how about the word of those paragons of virtue and good taste: webcomic authors!

Scott Kurtz
Michael O'Connel
Greg Dean

Okay, I've done my part, now go, go and spread the Serenity love like a plague. A funny, entertaining, awesome plague. And if you'd like to share a Firefly/Serenity testimonial in the comments, be my guest.


*Disclaimer: Actual wording of testimonials may not be exact, but trust me, the spirit's intact.

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4-color Fri. - Waitin' for my trade to come in

Capstone update: I was able to finish up all of my essays yesterday like I had planned, so today's my day for R&R.

Welcome to the second dose of Four-color Friday, the day that contains material that's probably of real interest to only 0.00000000001% of my readership *waves at Fellow Book Monkey and Blogger Bubblegum Tate*

There's a huge debate in the wild world of comic geekdom about the best way to purchase your comics: whether 'tis nobler in the shop to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous numbers of monthly comics, or to take time waiting for a sea of trade-paperbacks, and by waiting, possibly end them? Or, in layman’s terms, should I buy new issues of comics each month, or wait for the trade-paperback collections?

On the one hand, waiting for the trades is often cheaper in the long run, TPBS are easier to store and more durable, and having the story in one volume often improves the reading experience, especially for the more complex and convoluted stories. On the other hand, if you wait for the trades there's a good chance that the big plot points might get spoiled for you somewhere along the way, and there's never any guarantee that a series is going to get the TPB treatment. In fact, if a series sells poorly in the monthlies, publishers will probably decide there's not enough of a demand for it and never put a trade out.

I've recently started moving a lot of my purchases to the TPBs for general cost-effectiveness. My basic philosophy is to purchase monthlies of the books I can't wait to read each month (Ultimate Spider-man, Legion, BoP, Teen Titans) and of the books that I feel probably need my monthly support to survive long enough to reach the TPB stage (Hero Squared, Fallen Angel, Thunderbolts). Generally speaking, once I start buying a book in trades, I rarely switch to monthlies. The only exceptions I can think of are Starman and Y: the Last Man, both of which I couldn't wait for the next issue of; and She-Hulk, which was such a great book that just barely limped along in sales in the first volume that I feel obligated to help it along with my paltry monthly contribution.

Some of my general "Waiting for the Trades" titles are:

The Flash: The continuing adventures of the Fastest Man Alive. This is a title I'm buying only because of the writing of Geoff Johns (remember him from last week's post?). Once he's off the series (which will unfortunately be rather soon), the odds of my continuing to buy the trades are slim.

BPRD and Hellboy: Love Mignola's supernatural detective series Hellboy and its spin-off, BPRD. This is definitely a series where buying the trades pays off, since they'll usually contain some background info on the genesis of a story or even an obscure short story that might have slipped through the cracks otherwise.

Exiles: Concept in a nutshell: X-Men meets Quantum Leap. Okay, it's probably closer to X-Men meets Voyagers, but I'm not sure how many of you out there actually remember the latter series. Exiles was almost recently added to my list of switched-from-trade-to-monthly due to the current storyline which will take the characters through some of my favorite alternate universes, including the Squadron Supreme's world and the New Universe. To you non-comic fans, I know that's meaningless, but trust me, to this comic geek, its pure gold.

Invincible: The story of a teenaged son of a super-hero who has recently developed powers of his own. This is one of my favorite series right now, and one of the reasons that Robert Kirkman is on my Top 5 Writers list. Funny, touching, but not saccharine, it somehow manages to find just the right balance between silly and serious. One that I have to be extra careful to avoid spoilers for.

Fables: After being chased out of their fairy-tale world by the enigmatic Adversary, the creatures of myth and fable form a community in our world. An excellent series that I don't want to talk about too much for fear of giving too much away. I'll just say that I highly recommend it, and that although it's about fairy tale characters, it's definitely not for the kiddies.

Amazing Spider-Man: I've never been a super-big Spider-man fan like some of my friends and family, but I got sucked into buying ASM because it was being written by my main man J. Michael Straczynski, better known to fans everywhere as JMS because nobody wants to attempt to spell that last name more than they have to. JMS was the creator of one of my favorite SF TV shows, Babylon 5, so I was curious about how he would do with Spidey. I know that there's been a lot of mixed reaction to his run on the title (especially the whole Stacey children weirdness), but personally I love this series. To me, JMS writes a better Spidey than just about anyone else writing today. Once JMS leaves the title, odds are so will I.

Sentinels: A lesser known series from a lesser know publisher, Sentinels is the story of second-generation heroes who have had to step up after their parents, the original Sentinels, disappear. From what I've read, this is being printed exclusively in TPB form now. A fun series with some interesting characters.

Walking Dead: Basically Kirkman's take on Romero's zombie flicks. Moves at a leisurely pace at times, but that's fine by me, as the real hook of the series is its great character studies.

Finder: A series that is dang near impossible to sum up in a single sentence that does it justice. A great series with some of the most intricate world-building I've seen in a comic. Carla Speed-McNeil includes extensive footnotes in each volume, which enhance the reading experience greatly.

Strangehaven: Another hard-to-summarize series. The only downside to this highly entertaining Twin-Peaks-meets-The-Prisoner hybrid is the glacial pace at which the other puts out new issues which forces me to wait too danged long for more of the excellent series. Just found out that the third TPB just got released, and can't wait to get it.

Okay, it's getting late, and I haven't even mentioned Boneyard or Girl Genius or The Goon or PS238 or 100 Bullets or Queen and Country or The Pulse or . . . well, you get the idea. So, I guess another round of trades-talk might be in order next week.

As always, if you have any questions or comments on any of the above, please fell free to ask, I'm always ready and willing to spread my comics love to others.

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Thursday, September 22, 2005

Thematic Thurs. - You can't manufacture inspirado.

Well, yesterday wasn't quite as productive a day for the Capstone, writing wise, but that's mainly because I had hit the limit of what I could do with the resources on hand, so I had to do some online research, which was a bit time consuming. But the good news is I finished the first essay, and I think I found enough stuff to finish up the other two by tonight. Then I can take Friday off to relax, and do some revision/rewrite stuff this weekend. Which brings us to today's Thinking-out-loud Thursday (Thematic edition) topic: Yesterday's short story.

It's amazing to me how, when I first wrote the two short stories that would eventually combine to form "Moving On" almost 10 years ago, I loved how it turned out, and couldn't bear the thought of changing a single word; and then last night, after reading it for the first time in several years, I was too embarrassed to post it as it was, and did some hasty rewriting. So now, the story is much stronger, IMO, and I'm sure I won't be able to bear the thought of changing any of my additional dialogue for at least another year or two.

In case you were wondering about how "Moving On" came about, it's a semi-sorta-kinda-autobiographical story, inspired by the death of my grandfather my Junior year of college. Some parts are definitely true (my recurring nightmare), some are definitely not (none of my roomies got roped into heading to Miamuh with me), and others are kind of mishmashes (nurse doing a 180 after seeing me in the parking lot and coming out with cop: true. cop knowing who I was and talking to me: false).

As some of the sharper-eyed blog monkeys may have noticed, the nickname given to Josh in the story is identical to one of the nicknames I used to describe one of my roomies in a previous entry, which begs the question: "Are story-Flunky and real-Flunky the same?" Well, as much as I want to write a "Yes, they're both emotional cripples who revel in tormenting others" comment, I shall refrain. Such restraint, no? Anyway, the truth is that the story of a flustered relative being unable to remember my roommate's name and referring to him as Flunky is all they have in common. Except that for real-Flunky substitute "grandma" and "Labor Day" for "Aunt Charla" and "funeral." As a matter of fact, during a recent visit one of my aunts asked me how Flunky was doing, because she couldn't remember his real name. I had totally forgotten about the incident until she brought it up (as had Flunky, although for him it was probably a result of trying to repress meeting my wacky family), so I was surprised when I saw that it had made it into the story.

"Moving On" started out as two connected stories, which were later edited and combined for my final portfolio for my Creative Writing class. Originally, my prof forced one addition on me. When she first read the stories, she thought that the characters sounded too "smart" to be regular college students. When I mentioned that I based it on my friends, and that we had met in the Honors residence hall, she made me add comments to that effect to the story, to make it more “believable.” Of course, when I submitted the story the next year to Papyrus, the undergraduate literary publication, the biggest complaint the prose selection committee seemed to have was that the Honors Hall comments made it sound pompous, and reduced the whole random aspect of roommate selection. I know of these complaints because I was on the prose selection committee, and was about to have an aneurism trying to figure out how to communicate that it wasn't my idea without blowing my impartiality and anonymity (submissions had no names on them). Probably would have kept my mouth shut, too, if the comment hadn't been made that that was the only thing keeping them from selecting it. I finally spoke up, using the oh-so-tricksy "I had a class with the guy who wrote this, the prof made him add it, I know he hates it and would be more than willing to take it out" ruse. Whether they fell for it, or realized "Oh, crap, it's his story" and decided to take pity on me, I neither know nor care, because it got selected and became my first published work. Yes, my first published work, a story I can't even look at 10 years later without cringing. *sigh* I’m almost scared to look at the story that was published in the next year's Papyrus now, although at least that one was accepted immediately with no reservations by the committee, much to my relief at the time.

My fiction writing output is really pretty skimpy. I wrote four or five fantasy/SF stories for my Creative Writing class (one of which, "Neat Freak," was the second Papyrus story) as well as a couple of additional semi-kinda-autobiographical stories, and a few woe-is-me poems which are only going to be published online over my bruised and battered body. I also have a ton of never-finished stories strewn about my notebooks and hard drive, mostly SF, but also a fictionalized account of my encounter with Amber "Tara on Buffy the Vampire Slayer" Benson. Oh, and I also wrote a couple of scenes for an amateur film the SXSF group was doing, but don't get your hopes up, there's a better chance of you seeing my poetry than of The Wiz allowing the general public to see the film. Interesting side note: after writing the scenes, I started thinking about writing some mini-scripts, and even considered adapting some of my pre-existing stories, with the forerunner being -- you guessed it - - "Moving On." That, of course, never happened.

The biggest problem I face with writing is that I almost always get all of these ideas when I'm nowhere near a computer or writing implement, and although I've composed these elaborate bits of story, exposition, and dialogue in my head, by the time I sit down to type them out all of the wonderful words have vanished, and I'm too frustrated trying to remember that one awesome turn of phrase I'd conjured ten minutes earlier to just plunge ahead and actually get something down on paper (or on disc, as the case may be).

Fellow Book Monkey and Blogger Bubblegum Tate (I think I may have to refer to him by that full title from now on) recently sent me a link about National Novel Writing Month, which has me sort of intrigued. He's said that he's considering it, and if I actually knew someone else who was doing it might make me more inclined to try. The up-side: will be totally done with school by then. The down-side: it's in November, which, in addition to being Thanksgiving time, is also TV Sweeps month! How could I possibly concentrate on writing a novel during sweeps? It's madness, I tell you, madness! Plus, it might cut into my blogging time, and I would hate to deprive all of my faithful blog monkeys of my daily ramblings. Cruel and unusual punishment, that is.

What would my novel be about, you may wonder (if you've made it this far, of course, I do seem to ramble when I'm Thinking-out-loud, don't I?)? Well, here are some of the general never-finished story ideas that have been bouncing around my head for a while:

  • The Psi Cycle: gotta come up with a better name for this one, but what do you expect, I've been kind of developing this one since I was in elementary school. 4 out of 5 of my SF stories for Creative Writing (including “Neat Freak”) were Psi-Cycle stories.
  • Elemental Saga: fantasy story I came up with during college whose main characters are thinly-veiled interpretations of various Parkerites.
  • Martyr: SF story where a rebel leader is presumed dead and becomes a symbol for the resistance, only to reappear years later, much to the chagrin of the new rebel leaders.
  • Super-hero story: Come on, you know I had to have some sort of super-hero ideas percolating up here, didn't you?
  • Continuing adventures of Josh and Bill: I've had various story ideas pop into my head about Josh, Bill, and their pals over the years, might actually put them all together.

As Papa Lightbulb likes to say, "Any questions? Comments? Cute remarks?" Any of these ideas sound intriguing/boring/innovative/old-hat/anything at all? Post a comment, and let me know. And I'm not just saying that because I really want people to post comments. Yes, that's the main reason, but not the only reason. I truly care about what you people think. No, really. Honest. I mean it. Kinda. Sorta. A little.

Boy, for a column that was just going to be about "Moving On"s inspirado, that went a bit off course, huh? If you have any more questions about the story, please, post a comment and ask it; I'll be glad to answer, especially if it means I get to make fun of the real-life Flunky. That never gets old.

One last thing: on the Seinfeld DVDs Jerry talks about how confined the episode titles to simple "the" statements (The Contest, The Scofflaw, The Yada Yada) so that the writers wouldn't spend more time trying to come up with clever titles. A wise man, that Jerry Seinfeld. Me, not so much. I generally spend half the time I'm typing up a post trying to figure out a relatively entertaining title to use. I try to wait for the muse to strike me, but sometimes you have to manufacture inspirado. So, if you recognize some obscure reference in my titles, please, post a comment to let me know that I'm not the only person obsessed with such minutiae.

(Can you guess the hidden theme of today's post? No? Here's a hint: if you think you might have an inkling, then POST A COMMENT! Got it now? I thought so. CoIM blog monkeys are the brightest blog monkeys around, I always say.)

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