january, you’ve been kinder than expected

I hate winter and always have, but this month’s treated me very well. I had some short stories accepted to journals. My indiegogo campaign become fully funded! I got copies of my soon to be released novel. I got artwork for some novellas that I have secret plans for. I got the artwork for a graphic novel I’m going to be starting next week.

There are other things, too, but I just want to say a quick thank you to everyone who’s made this month amazing. By helping me with my indiegogo campaign, you’ve given me hope and security, and you’ve nearly erased the horrible situation I fell into.

I’m very hopeful this year. I believe it should be a good one.

I hope it turns out well for all of you.

Thanks again, endlessly.

something awesome this way comes

coverdraft3

 

Artwork done by the beautiful and awesome Jazmyn Mares. I wish she had a website so I could point you towards more of her art, but this will be out soon.

And she also did the artwork for the graphic novel I’ll be starting next week, and then we’ll have many more surprises in the future.

The start of a very cool artistic relationship.

Look out for this soon.

the curious case of unfriending

It’s recently come to my attention that a few people have unfriended me on facebook. It seems like this is a sore subject for many, especially considering the whole fiasco at HTMLGiant the other month. I’m mostly curious about what it is that I did that caused these unfriendings, since one of these people even gave to my indiegogo campaign, which means the unfriending was pretty recent.

That’s not to say I blame them or even hold it against them. I think a lot of people take unfriending far too seriously and personally. It’s hard for me to do that, since I used to unfriend people almost constantly. Up until 2010, I tried to keep my friend count around 300, because I didn’t see a point in having so many friends online. I also only sent maybe a handful of friend requests out until 2011, when I was living in Korea and didn’t have a phone so facebook was my only real form of communication. And so, for me, facebook hasn’t ever really been a personal reflection of my like and/or dislike of people. It was more about making space, because what is the real purpose of having 1,000 friends?

I remember judging people super hard in college when they had 1,000 friends, and I thought it was absurd when people had even more than that. I’m certain a lot of people probably took my unfriending as something personal or accusational back then, when, to me, all it meant was that we probably hadn’t spoken within six months.

Now I’m crawling towards the 1,000 friend mark and it still feels absurd. Even more absurd now that the majority of my friends are people I’ve met only once, and many who I’ve yet to meet. Such is the life of an independent artist part of a pretty vibrant community of other dummies playing at art. And the strangest thing is that I love these people. I talk to some of them more than I talk to my family members. They were there to help me when I was scammed. They were there to encourage me when I was tearing out my brain and heart and painting page after page with the wreckage.

Which brings me to something else about facebook: those people who use it for pure social interaction seem to disappear. I rarely see posts by people from high school or college, and I think it’s because most people grow past it. I actually wouldn’t use it at all, if not for the connection to all the wonderful writers and greater community. Taking a permanent leave from facebook is, essentially, cutting ties with so many people who simply do not exist within easy access, but who I value immensely as people and friends. And so I keep facebook, almost begrudgingly, but I also sort of completely love social media. It’s a tool, and it’s a tool that adapts to you. You get to design its purpose and cater it to your interests.

I would say that I use it primarily as a networking service and a collection of the day’s news, with the added feature of allowing me to keep in touch with friends who I rarely see. So facebook has become sort of a collection of resources. I get my news, I get connection, I get networking, and I get to spout off my own personal brand of nonsense.

It gives me a platform to reach too many open ears.

Which brings me to yet another point!

We act like facebook, and social media in general, is a large public forum. And, in a sense, it is. But I think it’s more accurate to think of it as millions of overlapping private forums. What I say on facebook is public, and what you say is public, but what you say on my wall, or what you comment on my posts becomes a part of my private forum. And I get to control that. And the same is true of your wall.

And this is why blocking, unfriending, whatever–none of that feels necessarily personal to me. So, if these people who unfriended me meant it personally, and that’s more than completely possible, it’s hard for me to feel insulted by it.

I mostly just felt strange upon realising it, because I’ve interacted with these people, and not even that long ago.

And people have the right to unfriend or block me. I think I’m a pretty likeable person, but I’m confident that there are people out there who despise me and all the things I do. That’s part of being alive, yeah? And my politics–those don’t exactly make me friends, if you get me. I’m a radical type, and I’m not afraid to yell it into the night. And I’m sure there are those who find my humor the opposite of funny, or my frequent updates as the epitome of annoying. I know there are a lot of people who I’ve blocked from my newsfeed because of their idiotic ideologies or their uncouth commentary, or just their annoying use of social media.

It’s life, and it’s what happens when you exist in a thousand private forums all washing together.

And so what causes someone to unfriend someone else?

Could be any of the above reasons. Hopefully I didn’t rub them the wrong way, but if I did, I’d apologise if we were still facebook friends, I guess. Not much for me to do now, yeah?

Anyrate, I’ve run out of words for this topic, but if you’ve read this, all you should take from it is this:

Don’t take unfriending personally or too seriously. There are far too many things in the world that matter. Who likes you is certainly not one of them. It shouldn’t even be on your register of monthly concerns.

Just carry on. Live well, be kind, and do good where you can.

Those who love you will keep loving you. Those who don’t will go on unloving you.

Here’s a song to carry with you.

twilight of the wolves and beyond

Photo_00001

As you can see, I have Twilight of the Wolves in my hand.

You can pre-order it here.

You can enter a Goodreads giveaway here.

Doing marketing is rough and I don’t really know how to go about it, but I sent about 50 emails yesterday trying to get review copies in front of people who can review it, including literary magazines in the indie lit scene, as well as genre magazines beyond. But let’s talk about the films I’ve been watching, yeah? We’ll see if I remember all of them because it’s been a while since I put them down on here.

Blue Jasmine is Woody Allen’s newest and it’s decent. I dig it and enjoyed it and all that, but it’s all so white upper class narcissism. And it got me thinking about Woody Allen in general. His films are very insular, in a sense. He writes about wealthy pretentious, neurotics, narcissistic people who struggle with sex and drugs and alcohol. Woody Allen’s found his audience, but it’s not most people. It’s critics and the Academy, who are mostly neurotic upper class white dudes. That being said, I’ll probably always like Woody Allen films. I guess I’m part of his target audience as well.

The Crow is a film I hadn’t seen in probably a decade, but it’s surprisingly awesome. I really enjoyed it. It’s pretty dark and insane and campy, but I liked it a great deal. It appealed to my dark, insane, and campy side, I suppose.

Hellboy–watched this but was too distracted and confused to really understand what was happening. It has Ron Perleman and a fishman, though, so there’s that. I might watch the second one.

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles is hilarious. I don’t know what else I need to say about this, but it’s just seriously awesome. I don’t know how I hadn’t seen it, but I’m glad I did, finally.

Cosmopolis is not as good or interesting as it thinks it is. David Cronenberg’s great and I think whathisname does a pretty good job here, but I just didn’t really get anything out of the film. I think it’s just something to do with how focused the world and media’s become on the super wealthy white people. What could be less interesting than that?

My Left Foot is stupendous. Absolutely amazing. Daniel Day-Lewis doing what he does, which is being sort of an impossibly amazing actor.

Pieta is Kim Ki Duk’s newest film, but it’s in the vein of his stranger films, which I tend to dislike. His films are sublime when he does them right, but his films are horrifying and awkward when he does them differently. So, while this is a solid film in his oeuvre, it’s nowhere near as good as, say, 3-Iron, which is his masterpiece, I’m convinced.

The History of Future Folk is a very cool and interesting comedy about alien folk musicians. It’s awesome.

I probably watched another film or two but I don’t remember.

Oh, in much more important news, Edward Snowden was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Pretty huge news that excites me greatly. I didn’t watch the State of the Union last night because there’s only so much nonsense I can take from these jingoistic madmen.

noir: an excerpt

An excerpt from Noir: A Love Story is over at Atticus Review. It’s the first chapter of the novel, so hopefully that’s enticing.

I still need to write a proper account of the novel and what it means to me, and so on, but I’ll get to that as the day for its release approaches. Probably need to start hunting for blurbs soon, too.

Watched Pieta by Kim Ki Duk today. Kim Ki Duk is one of my favorite Korean directors, but he basically makes two kinds of films: the strangely sublime and the intensely strange. Pieta falls under the latter, which puts it in the category of his films I don’t as much care for, though they’re actually much more representative of who he is as a filmmaker. His most beautiful and glorious films are uncommon, but so much better than 99% of what you get to point your eyes at. Pieta is about hate and revenge and cruelty, which is something he’s always going after. The cruelty of the world, how Korea’s changed and burdened its people with this unutterable pain and horror. It’s a good enough film, but if you’re curious about Kim, go see 3-Iron instead. It’s probably his best.

Lots of work left to do this week. Always more to do. Ended up losing most of the day yesterday, so I’m trying to make up for it now, and it’s not going so well. Having a fiercely unproductive day.

So it goes.

I feel weary. It’s the cold. The unbearable frost.

recent films and so on

As you know, I’ve been watching a film a day, which puts me, now, at twenty one for the year. It’s really not as difficult as it seems. It just means wasting less time on the internet and doing something sort of productive with that time. I might not be able to remember all the films I’ve watched since I last updated, but I’ll try.

August, Osage County is a very strong film and also an incredibly awkward and uncomfortable one. I guess this is what it’s like to live in a family full of people who hate one another, but try to love each other. Great acting by great actors in it, but it’s about substance abuse and addiction, incest, molestation, suicide, loss, divorce, and other such unhappy topics. So, while it’s very good, I doubt I’ll ever even consider watching it again.

Prince Avalanche is pretty delightful, in its own way. I found it pretty funny and Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch are entertaining together. It says some things about life and what it means to live the life you want, and there’s surprisingly good cinematography. But mostly it’s a buddy comedy turned inside out and looked at through a peculiar lens.

Wolf of Wall Street is bloated, unimaginative, but pretty entertaining. It has some Fear and Loathing sort of comedy going on, but probably half the scenes drag on too long, and the complete and utter hollowness of the film leaves you needing a lot more. It’s very polished, well acted, but the direction is a mess. It manages to occupy three hours without saying anything, about its protagonist or about its viewers. Again, it feels sort of like a Goodfellas remake but one that drags its feet and doesn’t know where it’s going or even what it wants to do. It’s frat boy cinema, and many people will love it for all the wrong reasons that so many people love Mad Men, which runs into a lot of the same problems. They’re about the hyper-affluent living luxuriously and horrifyingly. They’re everything that’s wrong with the world. Racist, homophobic, misogynist characters full of avarice and malice, using people, destroying lives, and singing and dancing the entire time. And we’re invited to sing and dance with them, but the camera never turns to us and makes us even want to examine corporatism or capitalism or consumerism. Instead it’s just an epic comedy about the hilarious and reckless lives these idiots lived. And then they get away with it. In fact, it even turns an eye on those who caught him, either telling us there’s no reward for doing the right thing or to humiliate them for not jumping on the bandwagon. I don’t know. I’ve never liked Scorsese so it’s easy for me to just call this stupid, but I actually think it’s gross and manipulative.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a decent film. I really like Ben Stiller, though I know most don’t. I think he makes pretty good films, and this one mostly suffers because it’s overly ambitious and not willing to reach where it aims. It’s fine enough. Too long by about half an hour, considering what it is.

Total Recall, the remake, or re-imagining, with Colin Farre;l, Jessica Biel, and Kate Beckinsale is exciting and all that. It’s enjoyable enough. I don’t remember the original well enough to compare, but I think I much prefer the original. This one’s full of all sorts of cool technology, and a lot of really stupid ones, and Kate Beckinsale spends the whole movie jumping off ledges and grimacing, teeth bared, at the camera. Jessica Biel sort of doesn’t do very much except be attractive and a love interest. One thing I really like about it, though, is that it never answers whether or not it’s real or just in his Recall dream. It’s very clear that Farrell’s character believes it’s real, but there’s never actually anything in the movie that gives you an answer there. I actually imagine this is just a directorial and script oversight, but that failing makes the movie much more interesting than it actually is.

Dallas Buyers Club is just great. It’s not as good as some of the other great films this year, but it’s a very solid addition to the year. I just don’t think anything’s as good as Upstream Color, but Dallas Buyers Club is still really solid. McConaughey does an amazing job, as does Jared Leto. It’s interesting and emotional and surprisingly funny, considering it’s about dying of AIDS. Definitely worth seeing.

I think there’s one more film I watched to be accounted for but I don’t remember so it couldn’t have been that great, yeah?

Lots of work to do this week. Chelsea may be buying a car today, too, which is exciting.

Back to 13 Angels Screaming at the Mountain.

Once more, I’d like to thank everyone who contributed to my indiegogo. It’s officially over and I love you all, so very much.

revenge of the scammed anthology fully funded

 

The Revenge of the Scammed Anthology’s indiegogo was fully funded on Saturday! I’ve not been home so I haven’t been able to write something proper for it, but this is going to be my attempt.  There’re ten more hours of funding, so if you feel like getting in on this, there’s just a bit of time left.

This is a thank you. It’s just the beginning of the thank yous I owe, and I’ll keep learning how to thank you all better.

Where to even begin. When I found out that my bank account was cancelled and all my money was gone, I was devastated. This happened on Thanksgiving Day, and I pretended nothing had happened so I didn’t ruin the holiday for anyone. Also, i couldn’t call the bank till the next day, so I just held on, hoping for the best. The best, as you all know, did not arrive, and Wells Fargo told me, essentially, that everything is my fault and not only will they not help me, they won’t even be my bank anymore.

So I ran all over town, talking to police, and so on to figure something out. Nothing happened, until Nate Tower decided we should do something about it and he pushed this anthology forward and I set up the indiegogo.

I honestly never imagined anything would happen with this. I thought we’d make a couple hundred dollars to make the anthology and that’d be it. It would go away and I’d keep trying to dig myself out of the hole I found myself in. Nate even asked me the first day if I thought we’d make $100, and I said maybe. Within twelve hours we had raised $1,000.

I say we, but I really mean you.

All of you have been so unbelievably amazing. None of this would have happened without the many contributors or without the funders. Some of you did both, and I can’t thank you enough. JA Tyler, Ryan W Bradley, J David Osborne and Broken River Books, Phil Jourdan and Perfect Edge Books, Ryan Werner and Passenger Side Books, Pure Slush, Sam Snoek-Brown, Susan Tepper, Alex S Johnson, Alex Pruteneau, Ben Tanzer, Gregory Sherl, and I’m probably missing someone but I hope not. These are the people who gave extra to make this happen, and then there are the contributors to the anthology. There’s no final line-up yet, but I want to thank everyone who submitted something and tried to help me out. I want to thank everyone who liked us on facebook or shared it on facebook or twitter or anywhere else.

I’m forever in your debt and I owe you all so much. You’ve given me the ability to start again and push forward without a stone around my neck called debt.

I’ve since started banking with a credit union, which is pretty awesome. Wells Fargo also decided to cancel my credit card, so there’s that inconvenience too. I’m finding new work, though, so I’m actually fine now. I would’ve been pretty crippled for the first half of this year, having all that debt hanging over me, but now I can get back to doing what matters.

I’ll be starting on the rewards that I specifically owe soon, so expect some singing and some painting, as well as a few biographies, and a novella.

I wish I could tell you all how much this means to me, how beautiful and wonderful I think you all are. It’s amazing what this community of writers have done for me. I’ll be seeing as many of you as I can at AWP, and I’ll try to grab most of you a beer, or something.

I love you all.

Thank you so much.

down by the water

That video makes me lauuuuuuuugh and I like the song, too, because it reminds me of high school.

Anyrate, watched Woochi yesterday, which is sort of a Korean action fantasy comedy, which I enjoyed maybe more than I should have. It’s too long and probably not actually that good, but I liked it.

Watched Timecrimes the other day, which is basically a Spanish version of Primer, in that it’s a lowtech time travel film where unlikely people bend time around them and run into all kinds of difficulties. Very interesting film that’s almost entirely awesome.

We’re down to the last four days of Revenge of the Scammed so help us get those last $445!

tammy ho lai-ming interview

My interview with the lovely, talented, and brilliant Tammy Ho Lai-Ming went up at Monkeybicycle today. We talk about her poetry, expatriatism, love, and her work as an editor and academic.

She’s a cool person.

Remember to send me your submissions for your own interviews! We’re always looking for content at Monkeybicycle, and since this is a new part of the site, I’d love to see it grow.

The indiegogo campaign, Revenge of the Scammed has entered its final six days, and we still have over $500 to raise before we’re fully funded. Get ye hence and revel in some amazing rewards! I would absolutely love to see this fully funded so I can pay off my debt, and we can make a truly amazing anthology, which also pays its contributors. Check out the link or click on the picture below to see what kind of rewards are available.

 

It’s immensely touching and beautiful to see how this has come so far. I had literally zero expectations for this, but since we’ve come this far, I’d love to see it go all the way. So help us get there.

I’ll forever be in your debt.

What else? Watched some great films.

Her by Spike Jonze is so beautiful and amazing, and it’s everything I tried to capture in a novella I wrote a few years ago about falling in love with an AI. Spike Jonze is amazing, and the acting is great here, even Scarlet Johansson, whom I normally can’t stand. It’s beautiful and touching and heartbreaking. It’s a lot like love.

Drug War is a disappointing Chinese thriller that doesn’t really give us much of anything. The problem with Netflix for me is that they think everything made in Asia is something that I’ll automatically love, regardless of actual quality, and this was a definite failure for me. I mean, it wasn’t bad, but it just wasn’t very good.

The Great Magician is sort of similar, except I liked it more, probably because Tony Leung’s there to make everything okay. It’s a funny enough comedy, but it’s not exceptional. I enjoyed it, but probably wouldn’t see it again.

I can’t remember what else I watched recently. Probably that’s it.

There are so many films to always be watching, but I’m trying to keep this sustainable.

Anyrate, I finally began 13 Angels Screaming at the Mountain, and am about to jump back into it, once I stop being weary. Writing like 5,000 to 10,000 words of content a day really makes it difficult to transition right into fiction. It’s like my fingers are too tired to type properly. But that’s the job, yeah?

weeks go by but week don’t die

It’s been a dark week but also not entirely unpleasant. Got a lot of work done writing biographies and business blogs, but it’s still pretty cold outside, despite the temperature increasing almost 50 degrees over the last two days.

I’ve watched a few interesting films this week, which is what I want to talk about. I’ll start with today and move backwards.

Electrick Children is about Mormons, I guess, but not the kind we think of. These ones live cloistered off in the middle of nowhere. They seemed like Mennonites and it’s only the internet that told me they’re Mormons. A young girl becomes pregnant after listening to a voice on a tape recorder, and no one knows who the father is but they arrange a marriage so she runs away and meets a Culkin. It’s an okay film. It never really struck me though. It’s a nice enough film but it doesn’t seem to have much to say about anything, not even naivety, which is what the whole affair relies on.

Inside Llewyn Davis is pretty great. It’s the Coen brothers doing a comedy, so it has all those elements you’re looking for. The script is amazing and the acting is awesome and it’s great to watch, to laugh at, to laugh with. It doesn’t really have much to say either, which seems to be a thing about 2013’s films. They don’t have much to say but they have great characters doing interesting enough things. And then there’s this other trend of not resolving anything but just cutting out. I don’t typically mind the lack of a resolution but I think they should be earned, or there should be something there, if only a punchline, which is how Burn After Reading goes about it. Blue Valentine has a great unresolved ending that ends with just life continuing, and it sticks with you because it haunts you. Same with The Master or even There Will Be Blood or No Country for Old Men, and maybe especially Blue is the Warmest Colour, if we’re talking about 2013. But Inside Llewyn Davis, for all the things it does well, ends sort of haphazardly.

It makes me think of American Hustle, which I watched last week but I think I forgot to talk about. Great characters doing interesting things, but all we seem to be left with is a sometimes humorous heist story that wants to be Goodfellas but is mostly just a pastiche of things we’re meant to think of as great. And I think that’s why it’s getting such great reviews. It feels like something that’s the best the year has to offer. It has a great cast, great characters, awesome acting, a cameo from a genre legend, all kinds of odes to older, better films, and there are cops and robbers and gangsters and politicians and funny hair, but it feels–I don’t know–just off. It’s not right and it comes off as just a movie when it could be something more.

Side Effects was pretty interesting, though I’m not sure how I feel about the good guy being a member of the establishment who ultimately abuses his power to clear his name and then enact revenge. But it’s a very interesting film with more twists than American Hustle, which sort of telegraphed everything to the point of the ending being about twenty minutes before the ending. But Side Effects is great and it all feels so real that it’s sort of disorienting when the rug gets pulled out.

Post Tenebras Lux is one of the most interesting films I’ve seen in a while. It’s a collection of moments and scenes and so much seems like it’s disconnected and about nothing, which, of course, is its greatest strength. It feels and looks like life, though I could’ve done without the distracting effects the director used when filming outside shots. But it’s a very personal film with real beauty happening.

The Talented Mr Ripley is a film I somehow haven’t seen, and it’s very cool, but maybe I already talked about it? I feel like I did, but I’ll just say that I love how it ends, unresolved [another example!] and you’re just holding these fragments of ruined lives.

Tonight is Scout’s birthday celebration so tomorrow’s going to hurt. I’m already ready to feel absolutely miserably hungover all day.

We’ll see how tonight goes.

Oh, also, been reading lots of comic books. I don’t know why I never read any of these before, but I’m glad the library’s so close and I can request whatever I want from it because it means I have the whole history of comics just a few blocks away, if I put the requests in.

Till next time.