We’ve been trying to reach you, Rob

Guten Morgen, bonjour, buenos días, ohaiyou gozaimasu, and good morning.  It’s Wednesday, at 10 to five, and I’m already on the train, because despite being sick, I still couldn’t sleep, and if anything, I awakened sooner than usual.

Yes, I am still sick—it’s rare that anyone really, actually, gets over a respiratory infection in 24 hours, after all—but I also still have to go to work.  That’s particularly true on Wednesdays, when I have to do the office payroll in addition to my other, regular duties.  It’s not a dirty job, but nevertheless, someone has to do it.

I feel even less that I have a topic to write about today than I did yesterday, but as regular readers will know, that never stops me from writing.  It’s a bit analogous, I suppose, to the jocular saying that one should never let facts get in the way of a good story.  So:  never let lack of a subject stop you from writing a blog post.  Goodness knows most pundits and politicians and even most journalists nowadays don’t let lack of subject matter stop them from writing or speaking at length.

Still, my energy feels unusually low today, even for me.  Maybe I should write about how unreasonable it is in our culture that we demand of ourselves that we go to work even when we’re ill, thus increasing the chance that other people will become ill, and probably reducing overall productivity of the workforce and decreasing the overall quality of life for everyone.  As if we needed to push that down lower than it already is.

But I suppose that subject has been addressed innumerable times in many ways by many other people.  If you need it discussed beyond a few words to trigger the thought, I’m not sure what world you’re occupying.  Perhaps your life is so satisfying that you don’t even comprehend how anyone could be less than happy.  More likely, you’re so worn down and resigned—dare I say, fatalistic—that you don’t even recognize, let alone consider, the possibility that things could improve.

I feel you.

So, what should I write about?  Or should I try to write about anything at all?  Should I just start spewing random sentences in question form, as though initiating a Socratic dialogue?  Would there be any benefit to that?  If so, what would it be?

I’m not good at small talk in general, and I’ve gotten worse at it over time, as my socialization has diminished.

I did very briefly pick my guitar up yesterday, because I had watched a video of someone reacting to the Radiohead song Knives Out, for which I had learned the lead guitar part some time ago, and I wanted to see if I could still do it.  I couldn’t do it from memory—I needed to get out the tabs—but it wasn’t too bad.  And while I had that out, I quickly fiddled (so to speak) through part of the lead from Big Log, by Robert Plant, and a bit of Wish You Were Here, and then the chords from One Headlight and A Space Oddity.  I made a video of me playing and singing the latter a while back, which I guess I’ll embed below as a space filler.

Then someone noticed that I was playing—I usually only play when no one else is around—and so I put the guitar away.  Anyway, I wanted to watch a reaction to the Radiohead song Lift that I noticed on the YouTube list, and the chords for that involve a B add…ninth, I think*, that gives me a terrible hand cramp to try to reach, so I wasn’t going to try to play along.  And listening to that song, and the reaction, made me want to cry, so I had to stop all that.

So that’s it.  I actually did get out the black Strat at the office, or picked it up and turned on the amp, since it’s always sort of “out”.  But who knows if I’ll ever play it again?  I wouldn’t be surprised if I don’t.  It’s like picking up your kids—there will be a moment when you pick up your child in your arms for the final time, and you will never pick them up again after that, and odds are, you won’t even realize that it is the final time when it happens.  You’ll just never happen to pick them up again.  Likewise, there will be a last time that you hug or even see each of the people you love, and then one of you will be lost to the other, or both will be, for the rest of time.  So don’t take those things for granted, okay?

That’s about all I’ve got for the time being.  Hope you have a good day.


*Yes, that’s what it was.

A brief reminder of my “audio stories”

Well, I’m working today—as I will also be doing Monday—so, obviously, I’m writing a blog post.  Aren’t you excited?

When I arrived at the train station this morning, I thought the whole system was shut down somehow, because the “garage-door” style barriers were closed, blocking the stairs, the elevators, and the payment machines, like they do when there’s a hurricane coming (there isn’t…I check frequently).  However, it turns out that the guy who opens them just hadn’t arrived yet.  He only arrived after I had gone all the way down to the end of the station to the road to cross the tracks and had come all the way back up on the side on which I need to be.

Ah, well, it’s a little bit of extra exercise, and that can’t be too bad, can it?

I planned yesterday to mention the subject of some of my reading-aloud “videos” of my fiction, but the post got to be too long, and it would have been a very abrupt change of topic, considering I was writing about my difficulties seeking and finding and begging for help when one is circling the drain, as I am.  I haven’t gotten any useful answers, other than a commiserating one to the effect, “Whataya gonna do?  You just gotta keep on moving.”  I can respect that attitude.  It’s far better than someone pretending to have answers when they don’t.  But it doesn’t help me figure out why one should bother to keep moving.  I can’t see any reason, honestly, and the effort has long outweighed the reward for me.  I’m frankly skeptical that there is any reward at all, or that there has been one for some time.

Anyway.

Quite a while ago, I did some recordings of me reading some of my stories, and I turned them into videos, though the “video” portion is nothing but the cover of the story in question.  I think they came out reasonably well; I’ve always been decent at reading stories out loud.  But they didn’t and don’t get much play, even though they are a free way to listen to my (already cheap) short stories, which is why I stopped doing them.

I also recorded and uploaded onto YouTube the first nine chapters of my book The Chasm and the Collision.  This is my most family friendly story, since I wrote it with my kids—who were in fifth and fourth grades when I started it, I think—in mind.  It a story about three middle-school students who become caught up in a trans-universal “fantasy”* adventure.

Thanks to the very wise advice of my father, there’s not even a single curse word in the whole book, though there are scary bits, since there is real danger in the story.  Real danger to the characters, I mean.  I don’t mean to say that reading the story is dangerous.  It’s not.  My sister has read the book several times, now, and she says it’s her favorite of my stories.  As far as I can tell, it has nothing to do with the fact that she fell and hit her head earlier this week.

I recorded the first nine chapters, but I finally stopped doing it, because, as I said, no one seemed to be listening.  I thought it was a shame, but it was a lot of work to do the reading and then the editing of the audio (though it helped me learn Audacity, which was definitely worthwhile).  Since then, at various times, I’ve thought that maybe I would like to pick up on reading the chapters and uploading them, and then maybe even start to record and upload my other books, a bit at a time**.  I’ve also got a few more short stories and novellas that I haven’t recorded and uploaded, and they could be stand-alone “videos”.  But, again, it’s a lot of work, and it would be doubly frustrating if no one ever listens.

I’m embedding here, below, the YouTube video of the first chapter of The Chasm and the Collision, so that people can get a sample of it.  I’m also going to see if it’s possible to embed the YouTube playlist that is all the “videos” that I’ve done so far from that book, and maybe even the playlist that has the “short” stories that I’ve read aloud and posted.  Again, it’s a good way for people to get exposed to the stories*** for free.

If you listen and like them, I obviously would be delighted if you’d decide to buy them.  All my stories are available for Kindle, and my novels and collections are available in paperback as well.  My last collection, Dr. Elessar’s Cabinet of Curiosities is even available in hardback.  Here’s a link to my Amazon author’s page, so you can peruse them:  The Link.

If there’s more than one person out there who would be interested in hearing more of me reading my stories, please let me know in the comments below.  You can also leave story-related comments on YouTube.

Nowadays one can self-publish for Audible, which is kind of neat, but I think I’m going to stick with the YouTube format, because it’s more informal, and it’s free for listeners so they can introduce themselves to the stories, as read by the author.  I’m very self-hating in general, and that hasn’t changed, but I think my stories are pretty good, and I’m especially proud of The Chasm and the Collision, because I wrote it with my kids in mind—though I don’t think either of them has ever read it, and they probably never will.

That’s about all I have for today.  Nothing has really changed since yesterday, so there’s no other real news to give.  Have a good holiday weekend, for those of you in the United States.  And everyone else, I hope you just have a good weekend.

Here’s the embedding of those videos and playlists, if I can successfully do the latter:


*I put that in “scare quotes” because if you pay attention when you read it, you’ll notice it’s actually a science fiction story.  But the character of the tale is definitely more like fantasy than sci-fi.

**Boy howdy, wouldn’t Unanimity end up taking up a looooooong time?

***That makes them sound radioactive, somehow.  As far as I know, they are not.

Whatever happened to Saturday (night) in the park when it’s not the 4th of July? Is it no longer all right for fighting?

It’s Saturday, as you can probably tell by the title above (which is a loose mishmash of a few songs that contain the word “Saturday” in their titles).  I’m keeping up my pattern of writing blog posts in the morning, and I’m sure that WordPress will soon be telling me that I’m on a five-day streak—which is true, of course, but banal.  Then again, I commented on that fact already yesterday, so my commenting on it again today is not merely banal but also redundant.

“Who’s the lame one now, Robert?  Ha!” – WordPress.

I’m going to work today, and I’m currently waiting at the train station as I write the first draft of this post.  If I were not going to work, I probably wouldn’t be writing a post today.  For instance, next weekend I’m not supposed to be working, so I probably won’t be writing anything, even if I’m keeping up this habit of writing blog posts “every day”.

If I do write one next Saturday, I’ll probably be pretty grumpy, since it will mean I’ve had to come to the office and work to cover for my coworker.  His wife just had their first baby on Thursday, after a worrying situation that led them to go to the hospital early, so he hasn’t been in the office since Monday—which was a useless day for work, anyway, but there was at least a bit of a cookout for the holiday.  We’ll see whether having a new baby will count as a reason to switch weekends.  I doubt it.  Though if there ever was a good reason for such things, that would probably be it.

Goodness knows that, when my children were born, I did not take much time off work.  I was in third year of medical residency when my son was born, and then was in my first year of private medical practice when my daughter was born.  Trust me, I took very little break time, though I happily did a lot of feeding and diaper changing at home, and since I was better at getting up in the middle of the night than my (ex-)wife, I did a lot of that, and was happy to do so.  I loved spending time with my kids—nothing better, not ever.  I would still love spending time with them if I could, though they are now 22 and 20 years old.  But I haven’t actually seen them, in person, in about ten years, lamentably.  That’s not by my choice, though it’s certainly related to mistakes I’ve made.

Anyway, I don’t want to talk about that—or to write about it—too much, because honestly, it makes me want to die right here and now.  And no, that’s not a figure of speech.  There’s very little point in going on with my life since I can’t see them anymore, but I do it anyway, because that’s what biological organisms like me are shaped to do by natural selection, “long after the thrill of living is gone”.  It’s a frustrating and Hellish fact that, even when you don’t have a particular desire or motive or reason or excuse to stay alive, your body, your brain, your inherent mechanism, is saddled with an almost insurmountable drive to continue, long past the time when you’re going to reproduce, just because that drive to stay alive was such a strongly selected-for survival attribute.

I still have no desire to do any fiction writing right now, and I likewise don’t have any urge to play guitar.  I’m seriously considering just giving most of my guitars to my former housemate, who is a very good guitarist, and who built two of the guitars I own.  They’ll just take up space in the room I’m moving into, and since I’m moving (against my desires), I might as well free up that space.  I might even give someone the Strat that I play at the office, but I’m less sure which person would be the best recipient for that.

It’s interesting to note how my calluses on my fingers are slowly waning, which is a noticeable fact for me because it changes the subjective experience of typing.  My left fingers always feel comparatively just so slightly numb compared to my right fingers because of the calluses from guitar playing, but eventually I presume that will revert to equality, though it will probably do so asymptotically, and I’m not sure how long it will take to reach rough* equivalence.

Oh, right!  Yesterday I finally posted my video of the first act of Macbeth.  I’ll embed that here, below, for those of you who want to watch it.  It’s reasonably well-performed, I think, but of course the video-making and editing is highly amateur, and the actor is not pretty to look at.  Still, maybe that latter fact makes it a more realistic portrayal, especially when I’m doing the three Witches.  It was at least fun to “perform”, though doing so and then editing it was a great deal of work, and that wasn’t always fun.  I don’t know if I’ll do any more of it, unless there’s a surprising amount of enthusiasm from the viewing public (so to speak).

Now that Independence Day is over, we’re entering a comparative desert of holidays for a while, at least in America.  Even Labor Day isn’t until September.  That’s not exactly a very big day of celebration, and it seems that fewer and fewer people get the day off work than used to do.  I don’t know for sure if that’s ironic or particularly appropriate, but it seems to be the case, though perhaps that’s just my highly biased and filtered perception.  The next really good holiday—since the world at large has ridiculously failed to embrace Bilbo and Frodo’s birthday** as a worldwide celebration of peace and joy and the triumph over evil—is Halloween.  As someone who already feels as if he’s a poorly-animated corpse, it’s not inappropriate that it’s my favorite holiday.

But it is a looong way off.

Anyway, I think that’s all I’ll write for the day.  I’ve skidded past a thousand words, and since I don’t have any pressing reason to go further, I won’t.  I hope you all have a good weekend, and that the weather’s nice and warm but not too hot and muggy for you to enjoy yourselves***.  If you can get to the beach or an amusement park, or someplace you can get ice cream or popsicles or sno-cones, or what have you—and if you and your loved ones enjoy such things—why not get out there and indulge yourself (and them) just a bit?  Believe me, the plants and the ectothermic organisms are taking advantage of the heat; you might as well do so, too.


*No pun intended.  Honestly.

**September 22, for those who don’t already know.  They were not born in the same year; Frodo was 78 years younger than Bilbo, but they were born on the same day of the year.  This is not at all uncommon, by the way; if memory serves, in any group of 23 people (or more), there is a greater than 50% chance that two of them will have the same birthday****, though which date it will be is not specified.  If you’re looking for a particular day of the year, the odds are much lower.  Look it up—it’s (wrongly) called the “Birthday Paradox”.

***This applies in the northern hemisphere, of course.  In the southern hemisphere, it’s technically winter now, but I don’t think it’s probably gotten that cold there yet, outside of, for instance, Antarctica.  Perhaps I’m wrong.

****I just checked the math.  It’s correct, unless I screwed up in my calculations.

Thoughts while commuting on Tuesday

Well, there’s no new portion of a story to post here today, but I did write some yesterday on The Dark Fairy and the Desperado—about 1100 words.  That’s the first bit I’ve written since the 800 words I mentioned last week.

I also went into the office yesterday, because we were open for part of the day.  It was a thoroughgoing waste of time and effort, and I already wasn’t feeling well (I’d stayed home from work sick on Friday, and I was not feeling much better yesterday…come to think of it, I still don’t feel great).  Almost no one seemed to want to work, and those who did were interrupted and interfered with by those who didn’t.  And then, one infantile “coworker” let off a stink bomb or stink drops or something (near the one person who was trying to work, ha-ha…that would have been juvenile even back in grade school), flooding the office with a horrible smell on a day when we were having a bit of an office cookout, so people were going to be trying to eat there.

Yes, seriously, this all happened.  I was very pissed off, because I had gone into the office despite still feeling sick to my stomach, and the stupid stink-bomb nonsense didn’t help me feel any better.  Back at the house, one couple have been moving out of part of the house—they’re nice enough people, but they were horribly messy, even by my standards.  When I’m messy, I keep it in my own space, I try hard not to mess up common areas.  But now a transition is ongoing, and the property owner asked me to move into another room, though I’ve been living in the same room for almost five years.  The other room is bigger, but that doesn’t automatically make it better.  And I don’t like change much at the best of times.

I’ve also made a few videos, including one in which I read the Declaration of Independence out loud, which I’ll embed here, below.  I suspected most Americans probably hadn’t read it in a long time, and many have probably never read it at all, so it was worth a bit of effort, even when I wasn’t feeling well.

I did another video earlier, last week, about science, and about learning about science, which I haven’t posted to YouTube yet.  If and when I do, I’m sure I’ll embed it in some blog post here, as well.  Why not?  I’m not doing much of anything else that’s productive or valuable.  Of course, that begs the question of whether doing such videos is productive or valuable either, but I guess that can only be learned after they’re done.

I’m not feeling well at all, however.  This creeping crud is really doing a number on me, and that’s on top of my precarious mental state, which leaves me very easily irritated and also unable really to talk to anyone about the many issues that I have.  I don’t really know what to do.  I know what I want to do, but that want is not unadulterated.  If it were, I would simply do it.  Although, frankly, I don’t think right now I’m physically up to anything taxing.  I feel so beat up.  I guess I’ll have to wait a bit on that, no matter what.

I don’t really know what to do.  The wind is going out of nearly all of my sails, and I don’t have a big enough stock of provisions to endure if the sea is becalmed for too long*.  Maybe instead of trying to write fiction every morning, for a while I should just try to write a blog post every day, including my regular Thursday blog post.  I have a couple of files in my note-taking app full of what I call “article” ideas, and it’s not as though there isn’t plenty of nonsense in the world that might be worth discussing.  There are many topics on which I have thoughts, judgements, and opinions, and even some matters on which I am an expert.

Maybe I could do this as a sort of therapy—a kind of pseudo-Freudian free-association daily blog.  Who knows?  At one point, I considered writing a memoir/autobiography, and I even had a title planned for it (A Most Stormy Life, taken from the Poe poem Alone, which is one of my favorites), but that feels just so pompous.  Plus, I don’t think my life is all that interesting.  It’s had interesting and gripping moments, of course, but surely that’s the case for everyone.  But I had long since planned, or considered, to share various random thoughts on Iterations of Zero, my other blog.  I was going to constrain this blog to deal primarily with my fiction writing and related matters, but it’s veered gradually at least part of the way away from that, and I have far more people following this blog than the other one**.

Well, these are just some thoughts that I’ve had.  I suppose, if I make another post tomorrow, you’ll know that I decided, at least for the time being, to write and post something every day.

In closing now I’ll tell you a little about the very weird dream/nightmare I had last night.  As is often the case in my (rare) nightmares, I ended up becoming irritably, grouchily defiant toward the forces of evil (embodied in some manner of building/complex/zone that seemed to have a malicious mind and will, and which did not want to let us leave) that were victimizing or at least tormenting me and some other people.  As is also often the case, the form this defiance took in the dream was related to the fact that I had to go to the bathroom, and after making a horrible-sounding, shouted demand*** that I think I must have said out loud, because it woke me up—my own voice sounded demented and weird and otherworldly, even to me—I discovered that I had to take a wicked pee.

At least I know I was well hydrated.


*To really brutalize a metaphor.

**Probably simply because I do regularly make posts on this one, but don’t do so on IoZ very often.

***The exact words were a repeated, “Do you understand?!?”

Two Shakespearean Soliloquys

Okay, so, here’s the deal.  The other day…I think it was yesterday…I was playing with my phone, and a new phone mount I’d gotten (they’re very cheap, to my surprise), and I decided to do versions of two of my favorite soliloquys from Shakespeare.  Readers of this blog should not be surprised that I am a HUGE fan of Shakespeare.  Once, while in university, I took two different Shakespeare courses at the same time, and it was the best semester ever.  I had two different versions of the Complete Works of Shakespeare for the two classes, and that was great too, though I had to return them to the NROTC Unit at the end of the semester.

Anyway, it was fun doing the videos, and I uploaded them to YouTube, and I am hereby embedding them below.

The first, the longer of the two, is Hamlet’s most famous soliloquy, which I jokingly said was in response to him having just read The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus.  It fits, if you know the book.  Here it is:

The second is Macbeth’s brief soliloquy, immediately after he learns of his wife’s death, and may even be more famous than Hamlet’s.  Well, probably not.  But it’s more often quoted in its near-entirety than the Hamlet one.  I had Macbeth wear dark glasses because it seemed appropriate to his character at that point.

Anyway, I had such fun doing these that I decided that I want to try “performing” some Shakespeare on my phone and editing it together for YouTube.  I’ve already begun.  I’m starting with Macbeth, which is probably the play that all Shakespeare noobs should start with, since it’s fairly short, has lots of violence and a Darth Vader-like fall into evil (albeit without redemption, alas), and a wonderful bunch of phrases people will recognize that many probably don’t even know came from Shakespeare.  I figure I’ll post one act at a time.  I am not, so far, going to worry about the background, so apologies for that, nor will I worry much about my appearance…there’s only so much I could do about that, anyway*.  But hopefully it’ll be fun, and it’ll be an easily accessible way to enjoy Shakespeare, spoken and “acted” at least facially.

I’ll keep you all “posted” in more senses than one.


*Prison was not kind to me.  What a surprise!

As you from blogs would pardon’d be, let your indulgence set me free.

Hello and good morning and welcome to Thursday and to another edition of my weekly blog post.  Also, of course, welcome to Summer (in the northern hemisphere, anyway…in the southern one, welcome to Winter).  Tuesday was the Solstice, aka the longest day of the year (in the north), if by “day” you mean the time during which the sun is above the horizon.  Now, as always happens during Summer, the “days” are getting shorter.  That may seem counter-intuitive to some, but when you take a moment to think about it, it’s pretty clearly the case, just as during Winter the “days” are growing longer.  The solstice is the peak (or the nadir) of the sine curve of day length, from which there is nowhere to go but down (or up).

I haven’t written much this week.  Last Friday and then this Tuesday and Wednesday, I only wrote about 700 words each, and on Monday I didn’t write anything at all*.  Nor did I play any guitar.  I just didn’t have the energy for much of anything.  I still don’t have much energy, frankly, but it seems this blog is the place in which I’ll delay longest before slacking off.  It’s the Tom Bombadil of my resistance to the figurative assault by Sauron on my middle-earth…to stretch a metaphor to its breaking point.

I have written a few thousand words on The Dark Fairy and the Desperado this week (go ahead, do the math), but my writing has been so slow that even since last week, the protagonists haven’t formally met with Lucy, the extradimensional demi-god who adores the Beatles.  They’ve traveled through her world a bit more, at least, and I’ve thrown in lots of little references that only Beatles fans will get.  It might be amusing for eventual readers; it also might be irritating.  I suppose it could be both.

As those of you who are paying attention to such things will already know, on Tuesday I uploaded the rest of Outlaw’s Mind that I have written so far.  It stops abruptly during the middle of a scene, because that’s where I was when I took my hiatus from writing it; apologies for that.  As for why I posted the rest—well, I just wanted to get it “over with” up to the current point, in case anything prevents further uploads.  If circumstances permit (and if anyone so much as expresses even the tiniest interest) I may continue with it at some future date.  I doubt anyone will much care, however, one way or the other.

As I said in Tuesday’s pre-story comment, I may soon post what I’ve written so far of The Dark Fairy and the Desperado, though any potential readers should bear in mind that it’s even more of a first draft than Outlaw’s Mind was.  If I do it, I’ll probably just post it all at once, though it’s over 60,000 words so far.  I don’t think there should be any upper limit to the length of a written blog post, though.  After all, even at so many words long, the file is only about 633 K in size, making it much shorter than the average video, even videos that are only a few minutes long.  So, data size at least shouldn’t get in the way.

Speaking of video files, I posted a silly little video last night on YouTube, which I’ll embed here, below.  It was, as I say in the video, a test of the function of using my phone to record and then upload videos to YouTube, and I think it went pretty well…though I suspect that the last few seconds of the video got cut off, just as I was about to stop “filming”.  I didn’t lose any content to speak of, and I wonder if YouTube just does that to such videos, or if the upload process did it (via WiFi, of course), or what exactly happened.  I uploaded it directly to YouTube, rather than, for instance, saving it to Google Drive and then uploading it from a laptop.  It was a trial in case I end up in situations where I want to upload videos but I’m not in good circumstances for using a laptop.

I can’t directly live-stream to YouTube** from my phone currently, because I don’t have enough subscribers to my YouTube channel.  That’s an interesting criterion for people to be able to live-stream from a phone.  I’m sure there was some quasi-logical decision-making process involved in setting the requirement, but I haven’t come up with any good hypotheses for what it might be (I also haven’t tried very hard to do so).  Of course, I could live-stream from a desktop or laptop if I wanted, because anyone can if they have a channel (or so I understand), but that wasn’t the point of my latest video.

Anyway, that’s about all there is to say about the video for now.  I did a few other test videos on two different computers earlier, and I uploaded them, but I haven’t made them public yet, and I may not ever do so.  I’m not sure.  I suppose we shall see.  Here’s the video in question above, though.

Don’t mind the sunglasses and the mask.  I was just playing around with the look, and frankly, I think it’s a lot better than my naked face.  Honestly, I could almost think I looked cool that way, which is a weird thought.  I’ll try not to get used to it.

With that, I don’t have much more to write in this week’s blog post.  Life is boring and unrewarding, and I don’t readily foresee any change to that, though I have something in mind that might do the trick.  Further bulletins on that as events warrant.  In the meantime, though, I hope you all are doing reasonably well—indeed, I would wish for you to be doing as well as it’s possible for you to be doing.  In fact, I will wish for it.  Why not?

There, I did it.

In a certain sense, of course, you already are doing as well as it’s possible for you to be doing right now, because once “now” has happened, it’s not as though you can do a mid-game reset and go back to try to do better.  I don’t know if that’s a comforting thought or a distressing one, though it could be both or either or neither, depending on the person.  But anyway, please try to make your present and your future as good as they can possibly be for you and for those you love.  You might as well—it’s not like you’ve got anything better to do with your time.

TTFN

summer dawn


*And, of course, I wrote nothing on the “weekend”.  I pretty much did nothing on the weekend.

**From my phone, anyway.

Trust not my reading, nor my observations, which with experimental seal do warrant the tenor of my blog.

Hello.  Good morning.  Today is Thursday, and so of course it’s time for the most recent edition of my weekly blog post.

I’m writing this post on my phone, using the Google Docs app, because unfortunately, even my petite, eleven-inch-hypotenuse laptop seems to be too much to carry around in my backpack, given how badly my back and hips and ankle have been behaving.  I don’t think it’s so much the weight of the thing that’s the issue as where it tends to rest‒right up against my lumbar spine.  It may not truly be triggering any problems, because my back and hips and my right knee and ankle are in pretty severe pain no matter what, even though I’ve lost two belt notches worth of weight recently.  However, reducing the load in that area seems to decrease my pain, or at least to cause less of an exacerbation, so for now I’m writing on my phone, so to speak.

I keep trying to find things to do that decrease my pain, but all my attempts have so far been quite unsatisfying.  Perhaps the Dread Pirate Roberts was right after all, and life is pain.  Or was that the Buddha?  Anyway, one or more of those great philosophers said something about life and pain being inextricable.

I’ve been writing The Dark Fairy and the Desperado on my phone this week as well.  The two main characters have finally met!  Of course, the Dark Fairy immediately tried to kill the Desperado, but that’s to be expected.  It’s slightly slower writing on the phone than it is with the laptop, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, but as I’ve also mentioned, that may be good for keeping my writing more concise.  On the other hand, my verbosity may not be something any device known to humanity can curtail.

I posted the most recent section of Outlaw’s Mind here this week.  There’s still quite a bit to go before we reach the point where I’ve stopped writing it, and I hope those of you who read it are enjoying the story.

In other news, yesterday I recorded, overdubbed, edited, and posted a video of me playing and singing the Beatles song And I Love Her, and I’ll embed it here.  I’ve been half-heartedly working on getting it into playable shape for a while, and I decided I needed to have a rhythm track (which I had to create the new-fashioned way, beat by beat, on Audacity, since I have no drums), and that it also would be much better with the little accompanying arpeggios* during the second, third, and last verses in the background.  I wanted to be able to do those at speed when I played them.  To pat myself on the back (which doesn’t help my back pain), I only got the basic chords from a guitar book, but did the (admittedly simple) key changing and worked out the solo and stuff for myself.  I’m reasonably pleased with the results, though it’s far from perfect.  I’ve gotten pretty good at throwing these videos together at least, including sound editing and backing tracks and the like; I did these things literally in my spare time yesterday morning.

There’s no need to feel obligated to watch the video of me playing, though; I certainly take no joy in looking at myself and it’s hard to imagine anyone else would.  It’s basically there to prove that, yes, except for backup/overdubs, I really did play and sing it all at once, myself…and because the milling masses mostly only seem to respond to video** anymore‒but here it is in case you want to listen:

I’m not sure what else there is to talk about today.  Of course, there are always subjects that could be raised, but I’ve not really done any discussion or commentary, either here or on Iterations of Zero, for quite a while.  The whole process seems utterly pointless (not least because of the aforementioned predilection of the populace for video***); my energy level is steadily deteriorating, and my motivation is doing so even more.  I’m not convinced that anything I write or say or do will make any difference, even for me.  I continue this blog mainly out of stubbornness.

I did do a slightly curious thing this week.  There’s a horror novel that I used to read and reread a lot back when I was a teenager:  Floating Dragon, by Peter Straub.  The events of the story begin on May 17, 1980.  Indeed, there’s a line in the book that goes, “On May 17th, 1980, the Dragon came to Patchin County.”  That line is always bouncing around my head at this time of year, so on Tuesday (which was the 17th) I decided to buy the Kindle version of the book, though I haven’t started reading it yet.  I miss my old, battered paperback copy, lost now with all my other possessions from before 2013.  It had the amusing characteristic that the way the title and author were written on the spine, if one read them in ordinary left-to-right fashion, seemed to say, “Floating Peter/Dragon Straub”.  I wonder if the publishers realized that after the fact and were duly embarrassed.  Anyway, it was a good, albeit very weird horror story, and I still can recite parts of it from memory, such as:

“You were dreaming for a long time, and then you were not.  You were asleep in a place you did not know, and when you awakened you were someone else.  You had a drink in your hand, and a woman was looking at you, and Dragon, the world was yours again.”

With that, I’ll call things to a close today.  I hope you’ve enjoyed this atypically written blog post, and that you’re all as well as you can possibly be.

TTFN

dragon


*Is it supposed to be “arpeggi”?  That’s how Radiohead spelled it in the title of their song Weird Fishes/Arpeggi, and they’re Cambridge-educated, albeit probably not in linguistics.  Then again, I studied English at Cornell.  Not that such a thing matters much anyway, since the word in question is Italian…but it’s not being used as Italian, but rather as a term of musical jargon.  I should probably just look it up, but where’s the fun in that?

**Angels and ministers of grace defend us from anyone who might think to ask most people to read.

***Perhaps we should retire the term vox populi and replace it with visus populi.

For grief is proud, and makes his blogger stoop.

Hello and good morning.  It’s Thursday, the second Thursday in May of 2022, and it’s time for another edition of my weekly blog post.  Tomorrow will be Friday the 13th! Unlike many people, I like Friday the 13th both because I like being a bit contrary and because I like prime numbers.  I used to always put thirteen gallons of gas in my car when I filled it up, just because I like prime numbers, and I particularly like thirteen because so many people dislike it.  Maybe I thought it deserved to get some positive attention for a change.

I haven’t been quite as productive this week as last week, but I did write a good five thousand words on The Dark Fairy and the Desperado.  I’ve been a little worn out because my recent travails have exacerbated my chronic back and leg pain, and yet I’m walking about two and half miles a day as part of my commute.  So, my concentration—nay, even my very will to live*—has been detrimentally affected.  Nevertheless, I have continued to write; being on the train is nice for doing that, at the very least.

I posted the next section of Outlaw’s Mind this Tuesday, but it was a short one.  I didn’t want to add the subsequent section to beef it up any, because that section is already rather long, and adding them together would have made it too much, I think.  I don’t know if anyone is actually reading the story—I don’t know if anyone is actually reading this, for that matter—and if they are, I don’t know whether they like it.  I suppose it’s possible that some masochist might hate the whole thing but read it for that very reason.  That seems unlikely, though.

I mentioned last week, with my tongue in my cheek, that I tend to play guitar and sing as a way to punish the world.  Well, I’ve done a bit of such punishing recently; I’ve embedded below two videos of me amateurishly playing guitar and singing, for anyone who feels the need to scold themselves, perhaps for falling off a diet, or not getting enough exercise, or committing adultery…stuff like that.  In all seriousness, however, I like both of these songs a lot, and so I did my amateurish best to play and sing them.

The first is If You Could Read My Mind, by Gordon Lightfoot, a song I’ve known and liked since I was a little boy.  I’ve always loved the melody, and Gordon Lightfoot was a very good singer.

The second is No Surprises, by Radiohead, which I only came to be aware of perhaps fifteen years ago, but which very quickly became one of my favorite songs (and bands).  It’s harder to play than IYCRMM, as you can probably tell, but I really love it.  In many ways, it is the song of my soul, if there is such a thing.

As for anything else…well, there really isn’t much else.  There was a death in my family late last week, about which I’m quite sad.  This was my uncle, whom I hadn’t seen in quite a while, but who had been, along with his son—my cousin—one of the only people in my family to attend my wedding.  That’s part of a long and dreary story that I won’t go into, but it is a shame that I hadn’t seen him in so long, and now I won’t be able to do so.  Such is the story of life, unfortunately.  I wish I could have told him how much that meant at the time, and even though that marriage has since failed, that gesture still means a great deal to me.  At least I can hereby tell my cousin the same for his part!

I fear quite honestly that I am on the verge of a real and serious mental (and physical) breakdown, and I don’t know what to do about it.  I also fear that, even if I did know what to do about it, I would not have the will to do it.  I wish I did.  I would like to be optimistic and upbeat; I have been so in the past.  No one who suffers from chronic depression and/or other, related difficulties would wish to suffer from it/them. They might well believe, however, that they richly deserve their own suffering for being the awful, evil, rotten person that they see, that they “know”, themselves to be.  I don’t know how to escape that trap.  I have tried, many times and in many ways, but I don’t think I have the strength or the resources to do it on my own.  And on my own is what I am.

I hope, nevertheless, that all of you reading are feeling and doing as well as you possibly can, and that you are with those you love, or at least in communication with them, and that you find a great deal of joy in that.  Please take care of yourselves, and of each other.

TTFN

wallpapersden.com_dark-sky-tree-purple-sky-nature_1920x1200


*It’s an interesting notion, this concept of “will to live”.  It’s misguided and misleading, because it’s not as though one can simply stop having some “will to live” and consequently just die.  Trust me, I know.  The body and brain have been shaped by millions upon millions of years of evolution to try to stay alive, and one’s will, at the human level, has almost nothing to do with it.  Ditto with eating and drinking and breathing.  Just try not doing those things.  The machine keeps cranking along until it falls apart, or until something breaks it.  Believe me, if not having the “will to live” mattered at all, there are many times—several in any given week, I’d say—in which I would already have died.  Alas, it’s the will to die that’s more a real kind of will, and it is set against gargantuan, Lovecraftian powers of nature that force living beings to stay alive whether they really want to or not.  I’m working on it, though.

Why, what is pomp, rule, reign, but earth and dust? And, blog we how we can, yet die we must.

Hello.  Good morning.  It’s Thursday, and so, whether anyone asked for it or not—whether anyone wants it or not—it’s time for my weekly blog post.

I can only apologize.

So far, this week has been marginally better than last week for me, which may not be saying very much, but at least it is better by some measures.  I got quite a bit of writing done this Monday through Wednesday on the train; I’ve been using my laptop, not my phone to do it, despite my thoughts that I just might stick with the former device.  Still, on each of those three days, I wrote roughly 2100 words in the morning, which is more than twice as many as I wrote last Friday, which was a very difficult day, continuing the pattern of the days that had preceded it.

Anyway, The Dark Fairy and the Desperado is moving along well.  Though we have not met the Dark Fairy yet, we have met the Desperado.  He is the first person we encounter, and he is soon to be sent to meet his fellow title character.  It won’t be a friendly encounter, I’m afraid, but if things all went easily, where would be the fun?  A story without the exchange of fireballs and bullets between protagonists can hardly be called a story at all.

I also remembered to post the next part of Outlaw’s Mind here this week, unlike last week, so to those of you who were pining for it, you’re welcome.  I tried to put in a “continue reading” tab, so that it wouldn’t take up as much screen space for scrolling purposes if you’re trying to go back to further entries, but I’m not sure I succeeded.  I didn’t try very hard to check, and I haven’t yet gone back to insert any in earlier posts.  Have I but world enough and time, I mean to do so.

I’ve considered perhaps interspersing some posting of parts of The Dark Fairy and the Desperado here, perhaps alternating with Outlaw’s Mind, perhaps posting them on another day of the week.  Let me know what you think, if you have any interest in the question at all.  It’s not a horror story, but is instead a trans-universal fantasy adventure, so be prepared.  I want to (and so I hereby do) remind everyone that these are stories in early draft form*, so they won’t be as polished and streamlined as something that’s been formally published would be.

In this, unfortunately, they may bear all too much resemblance to all too many of at least the online versions of publications from Scientific American to the various major newspapers, all of which seem to have fallen into the editorial hands of the pointy-haired boss from Dilbert, and many of the writers of which seem to have learned their trade via Twitter-mediated coursework.  Honestly, the state of much of the publishing industry is terribly dispiriting to note.

More than once within the last few months, in mainstream-published books about arguably serious subject matter, I’ve encountered the words “free reign” used instead of “free rein”.  That latter is an expression related to horseback riding, in which one essentially releases control of the horse to allow it to go where it will, presumably at high speed, but with outcomes that may be difficult to predict, and this is the source of the metaphor.  The former is…I don’t know, perhaps a reference to some form of particularly liberal monarchial regime**.

But, as they say, I digress.  I’m prone to do so often and grievously.  The point I meant to make was simply that I wouldn’t want you to mistake the form in which I might share parts of a story here for the way they might appear in “officially” published form, in case anyone were to consider buying one of my books.

One other thing I did at the end of last week was to record a video of me playing guitar and singing the David Bowie song, A Space Oddity.  I had downloaded the chords to the song from a site of which I am a member, and they sounded so good to me when I played them, even though they weren’t particularly difficult chords, that I couldn’t resist making a video.  I’ll embed it here, for anyone who is interested.  I make no promises regarding the quality of the playing or the singing; I just liked singing and playing the song.

And I think that’s pretty much what I have to share this week.  I hope you’ve all been feeling and doing better than I have been, and I do mean “all”.  I’ve been having a truly rough time, though at least I’ve kept on writing, and I don’t want any of you to feel like I do, no matter what Peter Frampton might say.  I would seriously like you to share (in the comments here, not on Facebook or Twitter, which I tend not to spend much time on for the sake of my already alarmingly tenuous mental health) whether you would be interested in reading sections of The Dark Fairy and the Desperado, and if so whether you would mind if I alternated them with Outlaw’s Mind, or if you would prefer to have me share them in another slot during the week.

Otherwise, as always, please try to be kind to each other and to yourselves, because goodness knows I’m not likely to do it.

TTFN

Theoden king


*It wouldn’t be quite accurate to say that they are first drafts, because I always reread what I’ve written the previous day before starting on any new writing, and I edit as I do so.  Often, I’ll have reread a portion and edited it more than once in this process, depending on how much I wrote the preceding day.

**A regime, by the way, is related to the rule of a person or dynasty over a nation, or something analogous.  A regimen is a “prescribed course of medical treatment, way of life, or diet for the promotion or restoration of health”, and related usages.  The words are obviously related, so it’s not such a big deal to conflate them***, but it is a bit sloppy, and—of course—it irritates me far beyond its level of importance.  One follows an exercise regimen, not an exercise regime, unless one is ruled over/governed by one’s workout routine in a more or less literal sense****.

*** “Reign”, on the other hand, comes from Latin via Old French and Middle English and so on, while “rein” is apparently derived from Old Norse, so though they are homophones, they are not closely related words.

****A “diet” is more complicated, since it can refer to a legislative body, thus making things ever more confusing, though I doubt that many people confuse regime with regimen for that specific reason.  There’s even a famous historical “Diet of Worms”, which had nothing to do with the eating habits of annelids, but instead referred to a body convened to address the heresy of Martin Luther.  Though I love it dearly, English is often muddled and can be confusing.  It’s both a technically “degenerate” code and also often not a very specific one.  Maybe I shouldn’t get so worked up by people mistaking a horseback metaphor for one related to monarchy and similar governmental situations.

Sorry Seems To Be the Hardest Word – cover on guitar and voice

Yesterday in my weekly blog post, I threatened you all with the possibility that I might upload some more videos of me singing and playing.  Well, I did just that, with my amateur version of the Elton John song, Sorry Seems To Be the Hardest Word.  It’s far from perfect, but I’m reasonably proud of my arrangement of the opening solo and the middle solo, which were of course originally for piano, this being Elton John.  I even arranged the middle one from memory, since it’s very memorable.  I was getting the opening wrong, though, I could tell, but wasn’t sure in what way, so I did re-listen to the song’s opening by Sir Elton to fix that.

Anyway, here it is.  I hope you like it.