Happy Halloween!

::UPDATE:: 11:51 PM

Here is the story we workshopped in class today. It's kind of a continuation of this story, so maybe you should read that one first.

Also, here's the longer story I handed in today, a little more than six pages. The ending is a bit rushed, which I hope to change and expand in the coming weeks. Enjoy.

And, let me be among the first to extend a big congratulations to Rose & Johnny. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you will.

And thanks to everyone who called or emailed or MySpaced or texted (or even talked to me in person; how antiquated is that?) about my birthday. I felt ever-so popular, if only for a day. I appreciate your thinkin' of me in-between mouthfuls of candy.


So. Another year gone, however many left to go. I always get introspective and slightly depressed around this time of year, for what I hope would be an obvious reason. I know life isn't a race or competition. At least, not one in which you're competing against other people. It's like golf, I suppose. You're not playing whoever you're partnered up with, you're playing the course. Life is the same way. It's not about other people and how well they're doing. It's about you. It's about how well you can play the course.

(Why no, I don't think that analogy was a bit of a stretch, why do you ask?)

It's not always enjoyable, being stuck inside my head. I think too much. Like today, for instance. I've been on campus since about 9:30 this morning and I'll be here til 9 tonight (unless we get out early; keep your fingers and toes crossed). Half the day is spent in class and the other half is spent here, in this computer lab, with only my internal, boring, musings on life for company.

At least I finished (sort of) the short story that was due today in my fiction writing class. I had started it yesterday morning, or early afternoon, before or after class, whenever. I got about a page and a paragraph done yesterday, so I only had about five pages to write this morning, in the two hours of work before class. And I got it done, though the ending is a bit rushed, and not really an ending at all, just a convenient place to stop for now. I'm going to come back to it. We have to revise one of our stories for the final paper in the class, extend it to maybe 12 pages or so, and I'm going to work on this one, I think. It's a story I've been wanting to write for a long time, and while these handfuls of pages certainly won't be the entire story, they'll be the start of it.

We workshopped the story I handed in last week today in class. Workshopping is, basically, you read your story aloud to the class, then you shut up and listen to them rip it apart. But that didn't happen today. I was surprised. Relieved, I suppose. There didn't seem to be too many flaws people cared enough about to point out, not even the instructor, so I took that as a good sign that maybe I don't entire suck. I don't think I have this particular story posted to the fiction blog yet. I'll check on that when I get home tonight, and I'll post the longer one I finished this morning, too, even though it'll be much better in about a month.

Getting older is...a non-event, really. I mean, I certainly don't feel older than I was yesterday. Age is but a number, right? Your age doesn't tell you, or anybody else, who you are.

And still, I look at my friends who have actual jobs and homes, marriages and kids, and I can't help but feel that I've fallen behind somewhere along the way. Which is silly, of course, and they would be among the first to say so, but I feel that way nonetheless.

It's not worth thinking about, I know. And I don't think about it often. Usually just today, and the days leading up to it. Trick or treat indeed.

Hope everyone has a safe and happy Halloween tonight. Be good.


Questions & Answers (and a World Series)

Last night was fun. There was a lot of great art displayed at Rebel last night by a lot of great artists, some of the guys from Liquid, amongst others, including Eric, whom I hadn't seen since...I don't remember when. April? He and Liz are looking good. She's working at the Oak View Hot Topic now, and just registered for the winter quarter at Metro. Eric has been applying for promotions at West and might have an interview in the next week or two, which is good.

Dave and Devin and Jeremy and Jason, from Liquid, their artwork just amazes me. If I had money, I would just hand it over so they could buy supplies and create more art. That's what I would be, a patron of the arts. Because I love art, in all its myriad forms (still not a fan of ballet, though).

I started to wonder last night, do I enjoy hanging around and talking with artists, and admiring their work, because I think I'm nothing more than a hack? Because I'm envious of their talent and fear that I'll never create anything of any worth? Valid or not, it was a thought that kept me up last night.

Prior to a night of fitfull sleep, however, I watched the St. Louis Cardinals complete quite the improbably run to the World Series championship. Similar to the Pittsburgh Steelers of earlier this year, the Cardinals were colossal underdogs who had limped into the playoffs, just lucky to be there after an abhorrent September.

I was rooting for them the whole way, but I didn't seriously think they'd get to the Series, let alone win it. Beating San Diego in the first round was a fluke, right? Luck. And the Mets? The hottest team in baseball from April to September? There was no way the Cards' banged up lineup could match up against the Mets' heavy hitters. Then the Tigers, who also stumbled in September, giving away the division crown in the last couple weeks of the season, they still had all those great arms in the rotation, and a killer bullpen.

I would have been happy if the Cardinals had won a single game. I just didn't want them to be swept like in '04. After stealing Game 1 in Detroit, with rookie Anthony Reyes pitching the game of his life, I would have been satisfied with that. Thankfully, they had more faith in themselves than I (and most of the country) did.

Jeff Weaver, left for dead by Anaheim, 3-8 with a 6.29 ERA by July, also pitched the game of his life: 8 innings, 1 earned run, 9 strikeouts, and rookie Adam Wainwright, who had never saved a game until the last week of September, did what he had done all postseason. He just shut the Tigers down, striking out Brandon Inge (like Carlos Beltran in the NLCS) to win the World Series.

It was a helluva postseason.

Only five months until Spring Training.

Incidentally, Battlestar Galactica keeps getting better and better. Last night's six-person tribunal, playing judge, jury and executioner for those humans who had collaborated with the Cylon occupiers, was eerily prescient, given that it was written and filmed months ago. It reminded me immensely of the law Bush recently signed, the one which states the president can lock up anyone he wants, for any reason he wants, without a trial and without showing the accused a shred of the evidence against them.

I don't feel up to driving to Kansas City today, though, given the circus the house has become since the kids are here, I should probably go. I have a headache and yelling children doesn't generally help with that. Oh well.

Tonight's Becky (and Jason and TJ)'s Halloween party, so that's something to look forward to. I haven't drank for a while, but I could really go for a shot or two right now.


Weekend plans

A lot of this is tentative. I've no idea if I'm going to be able to do everything, but in a semi-perfect world, this is how the weekend would break down:

Friday - Get oil changed at 11:15 a.m. Maybe check out a movie after that if I have time (The Prestige or Flags of Our Fathers, preferably). There is an art show downtown featuring some of the guys 'n gals of Liquid Courage and other local artists. Everyone should come cause it'll be wicked cool:

Friday, October 27, from 7-11 p.m.
Rebel Interactive Studio
1217 S. 13th St.

After party-type thing at the 49er (49th and Dodge).

Saturday - Hopefully I'll have a chance to head down to KC for a few hours for this little comic con. A few writers I'd really like to say 'hi' to will be there (Brubaker, Fraction, Kelly Sue and Jason Aaron). The con ends at 5:00, so I should be back in town in time for Becky and TJ and Jason's Halloween party at Dawn's house (confusing, isn't it?), though I can say, without a doubt, that I will not be dressing up. Why? Because I haven't dressed up for Halloween since elementary school and I'd like to keep my streak alive. Regardless, a fun time shall be had by all.

Sunday - I think the Steelers play a late game this week, at 3:15. There is also the potential for World Series Game 7 to be played this night, unless the Cardinals can (hopefully) win the next two games in St. Louis tonight and tomorrow night. My father made dinner reservations for the family (my parents, my sister and her family, and, of course, myself) at Biaggi's, for my annual birthday dinner. We're having it a couple days early because, well, it's more convenient, really. I'm on campus all day Tuesday, from about 9:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., so we can't do dinner then. Plus, it's Halloween, after all, and the little kiddies need to be able to go out and get candy from strangers.

So that's the weekend in a nutshell, if all goes according to plan. I suppose, somewhere in there, I should do some writing for school, too. But who wants to work on the weekend?


About a girl...

So I met this girl.

Isn't that how all great (and tragic) stories begin? "There was a girl, the most wonderfullest girl in the world," or something like that.


So I met this girl. She lives in North Carolina (I know, I know, don't start). She has a blog, which is how we met. She left a comment on mine, I left a comment on hers, which came first, I cannot tell you (though I could probably look it up). It's really neither here nor there. Immaterial, as they say.

So I met this girl. She's pretty smart and she's pretty pretty (unless the photos have been Photoshopped (it's always strange when new words like that enter the lexicon, when nouns, proper names, become verbs, like when you "Google" something, even if you're using a different search engine), you never can tell these days, though I don't think that's the case in this instance). She has a great sense of humor (she has to if she's able to put up with me, afterall). She's well-read and well-educated (so Flying Spaghetti Monster knows why she likes my writing). She's into all kinds of music. She doesn't mind comics, and is even related to one of the most revered comic book artist families in the history of the medium.

(She's even Jewish, Mom. A nice Jewish girl, just like you've always wanted.)

So I met this girl. And she has all these great, quirky, fascinating aspects to her (indeed, being captivated by Scarlett Johansson's cleavage is certainly not of minor importance), yet there's one thing missing that I've always thought was of excruciating importance in regards to girls I'm attracted to: baggage. She seems to have no baggage.

For the most part (not always, but often), due to a complex I've only recently attempted to rid myself of (and perhaps I've done so successfully), I've been drawn to "damaged" girls, for lack of a better term. You know the type: emotionally unstable, more issues than Rolling Stone, fragile, desperately in need of a knight in dark denim and a baseball cap to rescue them from whatever tragic awfulness has enveloped and overshadowed their true effervescent nature.

It was, of course, immensely self-serving and egotistical to believe that I could, in some way, "rescue" these girls, unasked and unwanted. I suppose it was also a defense mechanism of sorts. Were I unable to protect a poor, delicate, fractured girl (perhaps there's an air of sexism and chauvinism involved as well), well, it wasn't for lack of trying. She simply had "too many issues." I got to feel good about myself because, hey, I gave it a shot. Can't save everyone, you know. And I'd simply move on to my next "distressed damsel" after a period of overwrought angst punctuated by listening to way too much Nine Inch Nails and Stabbing Westward.

So I met this girl. And as far as I can tell, she has no baggage. No issues. No broken home. No drug abuse or abusive relationships haunting her (no offense, Alissa). Of course, for all I know, she might be loonier than Arkham Asylum after Batman rounds up all of Gotham's crazies, but if so, she hides it well.

I, of course, have baggage of my own (in truth, we all do), and it really is unrealistic to think that she has none at all, but if it was something major and horrible I think I might have heard about it by now. On the other hand, she lives in North Carolina and I live in Nebraska and why would you want to share those kinds of details with someone you've known for mere months?

It's always weird, when you first meet someone. In those first few moments you can be anyone and anything you want, free from expectation. First impressions, as they say, are lasting impressions (someone says that, don't they?). But no matter who you try to be, the truth comes out eventually. You can't hide who you are, not even over the internet.

I will admit to a certain fondness for clean slates, those initial conversations, simple and baggage-free, when nothing is at stake and if you make a fool of yourself it's more charming than idiotic. But the more invested you become in someone's life, the game changes. The stakes are higher. The risk is greater. Your future depends on taking a chance on "all in" or folding and walking away from the table.

So I met this girl...

Let's Go, Cards!

What a game. I love game 7s. As nerve-wracking as they are, there's nothin' like them in sports. Tied at one going into the 9th inning. Yadier Molina, the St. Louis catcher who hit .216 during the regular season, hits a two-run homer and Adam Wainwright, a 25-year-old kid who became the team's closer the last week of September, strikes out Carlos Beltran, who has owned the Cardinals in the postseason (7 HR and 9 RBI in 14 career LCS games against St. Louis), with a wicked curveball with the bases loaded and two out in the 9th.

Wow. I didn't think I was going to get this excited about the game until that last inning when my leg started rapidly jittering up and down like Thumper. Who knew? Who freakin' knew? The Cardinals limped into the postseason with a horrible September, winning just 83 games, but that was enough to win the weak NL Central. The Mets were hot all season, owning the NL East wire-to-wire, and finishing with 97 wins. Both teams were pretty banged up coming into this series, but the Mets seemed to have this sense of destiny about them since the All-Star break, that they were supposed to get to the World Series. Hell, I even picked them to get to the Series. Just goes to show, when the calender flips to October, it's all up for grabs.

The Detroit Tigers will have had a week to rest and rejuvenate when the World Series kicks off Saturday night. They have an imposing stable of arms in the starting rotation and some killer heat in the bullpen. The Cardinals have got to be exhausted after these seven games against the Mets. The rotation is going to be a mess, and the lineup will still be banged up, but hey, except for Jeff Suppan (NLCS MVP - 15 innings pitched, one earned run) and Yadier Molina (.348 with 2 home runs and 6 RBI), they weren't all that hot the past week and a half, so why should the World Series be any different.

To be honest, I'll be happy if the Cardinals win at least one game in the Series. Winning the whole thing would be nice, don't get me wrong, but the NL has been swept the past two years (the Cardinals by Boston in '04 and the Astros by the White Sox in '05) and it'd be really nice if they could just win a game or two.

Tony La Russa and Jim Leyland, the managers of the Cardinals and Tigers, respectively, are really good friends. They started out together with the White Sox in the early '80s. After Leyland stopped managing a few years ago he became a scout for the Cardinals. It's going to be a lot of fun watching these two old war horses going head-to-head in a seven-game series.

Wow. I still can't believe the Cardinals are going back to the World Series (against Detroit no less, a team that lost 119 games three years ago). It's almost unreal. My heart says Cards in seven; my head says Tigers in five or six.

But hey, it's October. To quote the inimitable Yogi Berra, "it ain't over 'til it's over."



Perhaps it's due to my procrastination impulses, but I sure seem to have a lot of work to do in the next few weeks.

Tonight is my astronomy lab midterm, which should be relatively easy, because even if I don't know what I'm doing, it's a multiple choice test, so I'll at least have a one in four chance of getting the right answer.

I have many papers due, which I fear I might let overwhelm me if I don't get crackin' this weekend. I have an eight-page "in-depth" feature article due at the end of the semester in my news writing class. I decided to write about the Film Streams theatre again (I wrote a profile of the board director last spring), but with more of a look at the theatre itself, the planning stages, the history of the project, basically. My first interview is scheduled for tomorrow and I need to get a hold of a few other people soon, to get other perspectives on the project.

Also due in a couple weeks for the news writing class is a four-page (I think) profile of a local someone. I thought it would be interesting, given the time of year, to interview the head of the Nebraska Democratic Party, whom we had over for Rosh Hashannah dinner, along with his family, a couple weeks ago. We didn't get to discuss much in the way of politics that night, as the evening quickly devolved into a game of "How Best to Pacify the Children," with my putting in the DVD of The Incredibles winning out. Hopefully he'll be able to squeeze me in for maybe a half hour or so, which reminds me, I should email him about this...

I'm trying to recall what I have due for my creative writing class, and I don't remember. It's written down in my notebook, which is at home. In addition to whatever story I need to write, I also get to analyze, with a group, a (very) short story and we get to present our thoughts in two weeks (there are no classes next Monday or Tuesday due to fall break).

Also, the group paper for my small group communication class is due in...two weeks, as well. The paper only has to be eight to 10 pages long, which equals two pages for each member of the group, so it's not too bad. We're all supposed to have our sections done by next Wednesday, then someone will get the lucky task of fitting everything together, making sure it flows well, all that jazz. And I think we have our second test in that class in a week and a half, a week from this coming Monday, so that has to be studied for.

And I think that's all there is in the foreseeable future.

There's a small comic book convention in Kansas City the weekend before my birthday and there are two or three creators scheduled whom I wouldn't mind meeting and snagging an autograph from, mainly Ed Brubaker, whose new book, Criminal is pretty damn good.

But that weekend there's a Halloween party at...someone's house, Dawn's I guess, instead of Becky (& Jason) and TJ's, though I'm sure I'd be able to drive to and from KC in plenty of time for the party. It would just make for kind of a longish day.

I got a 92% on last week's astronomy test, which is slightly lower than the 94% I got on the first one, but I'll take it. Thankfully there was a bonus question: Without using any $1 bills, how do you get $63 using only six bills? Whoever gets it right wins, I dunno, bonus points.

I read a great comic last week, The Other Side, about Vietnam. It was written by, I guess, a cousin of the guy who wrote the book that Full Metal Jacket was adapted from. It tells the tale of two young, in-way-over-their-heads soldiers, one American, the other Vietnamise, on a collision course in the jungle. Based on the first issue (of five), it's going to be a pretty honest, brutal story about America's second most recent stupid war.

In between all the school work, I'm trying to read Jonathan Lethem's The Fortress of Solitude, which I'm really enjoying so far, being only a few chapters in. The plot is about a young boy growing up in a Brooklyn neighborhood. The story is about something entirely different.

Finally saw Walk the Line last night, on HBO. That was a really good movie. Maybe not a great movie, but a good one. I enjoyed it, which is all that really matters, right? Joaquin Phoenix was an amazing Johnny Cash. Had Philip Seymour Hoffman not so absolutely become Truman Capote last year, Phoenix would have taken home that little gold statue.

And I suppose that might be about it for today. I think y'all are all caught up. Given my workload, I'm not sure how many updates will be in my future, but given my procrasination, it's probably a safe bet to say one or two might sneak on here...


Dearly Departed

Move over Three 6 Mafia, Martin Scorsese is finally going to land his first Academy Award.

The Departed is, without a doubt (in my mind), Scorsese's best film since Goodfellas, and it would be an absolute crime if he is yet again robbed of that little golden statue come Oscar time.

A brutal, pull-no-punches crime drama, The Departed is about, at its core, family. Loyalty. It's about knowing who you are and where you came from. Two men, a cop and a crook, infiltrate each other's world and become embroiled in a high stakes game of cat and mouse.

One guy, Colin Sullivan, grew up on the mean streets of Boston working for Frank Costello, crime boss, and quickly climbs the ladder of the Massachusetts State Police, who are attempting to bring Costello down.

The other, Billy Costigan, just wants to be a good police, but his family ties stall his ascent until he agrees to go deep undercover and become a member of Costello's inner circle.

Two men working opposite sides of the law, both traitors and loyal soldiers at the same time.

I can't say enough about the incredible acting in this film. Everyone, from Matt Damon, Leo DiCaprio and Jack Nicholson to Martin Sheen (whose character is named "Oliver Queenan," which is remarkably similar to "Oliver Queen," the secret identity of DC Comics' Green Arrow, which I simply find amusing), Mark Wahlberg and Alec Baldwin, are fantastic. I've long thought that the Academy needs to create an "Best Ensemble" award and this film is the best evidence of that I've seen to date. I honestly don't know who to praise first or most.

I'm not going to get into plot too much, save for what I wrote above. There are a myriad of twists and turns that will keep your heart racing and your head spinning 'til the very end, but in a good way.

It's a powerful, violent picture about life. And death. And the importance of remembering the departed.


New story posted

Click here for my latest bit of hackery.


Welcome to October

It was 85 degrees with clear skies today, the first day of October, which is, to say the least, slightly odd. This is not typical fall weather. Or is it? With global warming, who knows? Perhaps we'll have to get used to a second season of spring after summer as well as before.

Baseball's regular season came to a close with a whimper rather than a bang for most teams. The Cardinals limped through September and only secured the division crown because Houston lost their last game of the season. I would prefer to think St. Louis won't get swept in the first round of the playoffs, but they don't have a dependable starter other than Chris Carpenter and the bullpen is a mess. Baseball is a team game and Albert Pujols can't win it all by himself. My money's on a Twins Tigers/Mets World Series. Twins Tigers in seven games.

Saw Jennie last night at a gathering at Becky (and Jason) and TJ's place. She just kind of appeared out of no where. No one knew she was in town. She and Dave are here for a funeral, so it's not as though she came to see all of us, but it was nice to say 'hi' and catch up in person for a little while. Once again, my condolances go out to Dave and his family.

Saw Megan for the first time since she's been back in Omaha, too. She's looking good, as usual. Despite her return to Omaha, I would hazard a guess and say that California definitely agreed with her. Good to have her back, though.

Ryan and Jami are in town for a couple days, too, for Yom Kippur, and an impromptu shopping trip to the Furniture Mart. It appears that they will finally be furnishing their house up in Minneapolis. I had lunch with them and Ryan's brother Daniel and Daniel's girlfriend (whose name escapes me at the moment, but she doesn't read my blog so it's okay). Always good to see them, though it's never for enough time. I might see them briefly later tonight or tomorrow after class, but they'll probably have to be on the road early tomorrow afternoon, because of work on Tuesday. I need to see about scheduling a little trip up to the Twin Cities sometime relatively soon.

I spoke with Rose for a couple hours earlier this evening. She and Robert flew out to San Francisco a few weeks back, to look for jobs and at apartments. Fortunately Rose found a job almost immediately, at UCSF, doing what she was doing here in Omaha; an apartment, however, took a little more time. But they have what sounds like a very nice place near Golden Gate Park. Robert has been back in Omaha for a little bit, but since they now have an apartment he was able to put in his two weeks and should be shipping out their furniture and himself by the middle of the month. Rose sounds like she's doing well. Still getting used to a new city, finding her way around, that sort of thing. And she doesn't know anyone yet, and without Robert there, she's understandably wary. But they'll be all nice and settled in by the end of the month. They'll do good out there, of that I'm certain.

As for myself, I'm just goin' to classes and trying to get my work done. Not much to say about any of that. Got my second astronomy test on Wednesday. I have a two-page story due Tuesday for the creative writing class. My group has an eight to 10 page paper due in two and a half weeks in my small group communications class. And that's really about it for now.

I finished reading Charles Stross' Accelerando, which is filled with some really incredible ideas about the future. Really far out there technology. The book is so dense with philosophies and ideas, I can barely wrap my head around some of it.

I think I'm going to read Neil Gaiman's new short story collection next. Reading something new by Gaiman feels like coming home again after a long time away. I've been reading his work for so long, there's a sense of familiarity about it. I can hear Neil's voice in my head, as if he were reading the story to me.

And now The Wire is on, so I'm gonna take off. If I don't get a chance to post before next weekend, don't y'all forget about the new season of Battlestar Galactica on Friday. It's gonna be awesome.

::UPDATE:: 10/07

Battlestar Galactica was beyond awesome. Holy shit.