A Quick Update

technical difficulties.jpg

This is Brad Evans with an important update: our primary writer and editor, Fin, has successfully crossed the pond and arrived alive back stateside in the gateway to the west, St. Louis.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a computer or easy to access to one. He has ordered a laptop and expects to have it in hand by the end of the week, with the expectation that our regularly scheduled updates will resume by next week.

Thanks for your patience while he gets back up and running. Have a great week, and remember to stay Offbeat, but On Point!

-BE

My Writing Process part II

Happy Monday!

 

Image result for writing is so hard hamlet 2

My actual life.  Source: Hamlet 2

 

A few months ago I did a guest post on “2B or not 2B – Creative Writing Tips and Tricks” blog.  In that post I wrote about my journal organization and my extensive notation systems in “My Writing and Journaling Process”.  Since then, Offbeat Onpoint has grown a lot which has demanded that my writing process grow in tandem (if only the U.S. minimum wage and inflation grew in the same parallel process, wouldn’t that be something huh?(1)).  Growth usually manifests in growth and change and in response I began a new task writing format that I have been using which helps me keep regular productivity and allows for flexibility.

I like to have one full page for my week, kind of a “week at a glance” idea.  I am a fan of formatting so I like to underline and use colons and check boxes but the important parts are:

Part 1: Weekly Goals
-the written date at top

-my reading goal for that week

-the number of journal entries I’d like to do that week (~1600wc total), ergo 3 check boxes

-each blog day gets a a line and I like to keep a week ahead so I have two columns

-BOM or Band of Misprints is the novel I’m currently working, I aim for ~1600 words a week minimum or 3 pages in my notebook

Part 2: Daily Goals

-here I have a row for each day of the week where I fill in the stuff I want to get done each day of the week, usually kinda fill it in as I go.  Like I write “post” on m, w, t, f, at the beginning of the week and fill out “M:” and “T:” rows Sunday or Monday then go from there through the week

Part 3: Monthly Goals

-this is a small space where I like to keep vague goals that I want to get done that month or a place for things I only do once or twice a month, sort of a catch-all

Part 4: The 4 Priority Squares
THIS IS IMPORTANT my creative writing teacher introduced me to this system.  It went something like this, “What you don’t know ‘The 4 Priority Squares’?!”, in the midst of a class discussion about a procrastination pandemic. “Okay forget creative writing, THIS will be the most important thing I teach you this year, that’s not to say creative writing isn’t important…”     The way this thing is constructed is basically how it works:

-each square is numbered 1 – 4 from upper left to bottom right
-square 1 is titled “important/urgent”

-square 2 is titled “not important/urgent”

-square 3 is titled “important/not urgent”

-square 4 is titled “CBARN”(2)

The idea here is that things in the square 1 are highest priority, like “people are going to break your legs” important and square 4’s title “Can’t Be Asked Right Now” implies the lowest priority. Where the real brilliance of the system comes from square 2 “not important/urgent” and square 3 “important/not urgent.

A clear distinction between square 2 and 3 is hard to make for me to make consistently, as in when making a list I can usually, with some thought, distinguish “2 level” tasks from “3 level” tasks but I have trouble applying firmer rules like squares 1 and 4 lend themselves to.  To me,  I believe this is the beauty of spectral versus binary thought.  Granted it’s easy to sort out the blue from red crayons, but it’s a bit harder to separate shades of purple being “very clearly” more red or blue.  This spectrum of choice challenges me to consider urgency versus importance in the task being considered.

By the end of an average week my page will look like thisused up

I hope this helps with cultivating your daily writing habit or inspires some other methods or formats.  If you have a format you use or a method you like and want to share, send me a guest article piece and I’ll post it on here.

Keep writing,

Fin

 

Footnotes:

  1. 1975 minimum wage was $2.10 an hour which is the 2017 equivalent of $9.77 whilst 2017 minimum wages are a pathetic $7.25 or for those of you who were working in 1975, today’s $7.25 is the same as $1.56 in 1975.
  2. Okay so when he originally introduced it, it was all very logical and pleasing but after using this system for a while now, I’ve decided to rename the boring “not important/not urgent” to what it really is “Can’t Be Asked Right Now”

Hooked App Review (Chat Story)

Happy Monday!

Soz for not posting last week.  I went on holiday and was expecting to have access to a working computer but I didn’t not.  Anyway back to the regularly scheduled program!

In the spirit of utilising the “mystery” of mystery monday to it’s fullest potential, I’m rolling out my first smartphone app review.  Surprise!

I saw an advert on youtube advertising the app Hooked and I was previously

hooked

Hooked logo

unfamiliar with this app and the general genre of “Chat Stories” which includes Yarn and Tap.  Being a big fan of the Master of Experimental Fiction: Mark Z. Danielewski who has written colossal books not only in physical dimensions but also in ambition such as House of Leaves, Fifty Year Sword, and his current pet project The Familiar which is a 27 volume serialised novel, I like to try out experimental fiction.  However like anything that involves the word “experimental” as a defining adjective, there’s going to be a considerable hit and miss rate.  So is Hooked my next favourite thing?  Lets see.       

Premise: The app launches directly into a chat story which confused me at first because I thought it was like one long story but then I got bored halfway through the second part and finally figured out that you have to tap the chat space then click the top back button.  I was trying to swipe left.

Before trying to swipe left, I learned a few things about the app and it’s functions.  The first was that you get about 30 messages for free before being forced to take a 45 minute break or pay (2.99$ per week, 7.99/mo, 39.99/year unlimited, speaking of paying only paying members can contribute stories which is something I will come back to(1)).  Me being broke and cheap and not sold after 30 messages, I put it away and waited my 45 minutes which brought me to the second interesting feature where the app will give you a notification that your free “hoots” are refreshed and

Screenshot (28 May 2017 15-20)

clean minimalist menu design

you can read another 30 messages.  If you ignore this first message, it’ll gently prod you with another notification about 20 minutes later with the next message in the story out of context.  The 30 messages is prime for the freeium function as it will take any where from a couple of minutes to 7 minutes tops.  The notifications are also a good idea because it’s something I could easily see myself forgetting about.  There’s also a search function and lists of genres.  


Features I Want to See: So speaking of features, the ones I list are literally all you get.  I appreciate the minimalism however there are some features I’d really like to see.  I’d really like to see a rating and review system on the story cards .  I realise that you can like and comment on the stories, but this is only accessible after reading.  I don’t mind the fact that if there was a rating system you’d have to read the entire story before voting but I don’t like that as is you have to go into the stories blind as in my experience, the quality of stories varied from fairly interesting to uninspired.  

What would also be a nice feature to see in congruent use with the search function and the genre selection would be a hashtag cloud plus a way to change the settings of the notifications (more, less, or none at all or maybe for some less NSFW stories have a way to turn off notifications for those stories but leave them on for other ones, or to set it so you only get notification at certain hours like not sleeping hours).

Overall:   Speaking of swiping left, I guess that pretty much sums up my personal feelings about Hooked for the time being.  It’s a good idea.  However I already have a good smut site (NSFW Literotica) which has an okay app but lots of good regular writers.  Maybe this app would be better suited for erotica but I have yet to read any erotica on here that’s already on here.  Until they add a few more features like the ones I mentioned, as it is, it’s a left swipe from me.

Footnotes:

  1. I’m not crazy about the idea about having contributing behind a pay wall but I guess it may help to sort out “serious” contributors from shit posters.

En Defense of Pineapple Pizza (¯\_(ツ)_/¯)

Happy Monday!

Gordon Ramsay Ends the Debate on Whether Pineapple Belongs on Pizza

Normally I try to ignore these sort of things but I do have an opinion on the issue and I think that it’s worth talking about because I believe it talks to a deeper systematic issue of rising intolerance.

Now I can guess anyone reading this might think “But Fin, what do you know about cooking? You’re a self-described microwave chef!”(1)

I deny nothing.  However I am a guy who knows how to eat and I’ve watched a lot of Good Eats over the years and I’ve learned a thing or two.

Image result for good eats

I hope AB brings Good Eat’s back with his new “internet venture”.

“Sweet and Salty” is a very legitimate flavour combination.  Think chocolate covered pretzels, or maple candied bacon, or a personal favourite: salted caramel(2).  Fruit jam and cheese parings are a well established thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If my opinion isn’t enough, Alton Brown (host of Good Eats) has my back:

“I don’t want people saying what should or should not be on a pizza,” Brown told People. “You put anything on a pizza you damn well feel like.”

“Alton Brown Has Some Feelings About Gordon Ramsay’s Pineapple Pizza Statement”

Now that we have that obnoxious business out of the way, I want to discuss (briefly) about what this sort of “debate” and the attention it’s garnered is telling me about the current state of affairs.  

In today’s climate binary social/cultural systems of classification are being legitimately deconstructed. With deconstruction comes confusion and from confusion comes a need for understanding and what helps with understanding? Labels and categories.  

However as much as a label can help classify a person’s identity, political/social stance, or a relationship status, it has the equal power to inhibit truly deep understanding of what is being labeled by simplifying the subject in question into a word with it’s own denotation(s) and connotation(s) that may or may not at all aid in deep understanding of the subject.  

In an effort to help “resolve” mis-labeling, an expert might be consulted or have their words used as a source of authority such as Gordon Ramsay’s or Alton Brown and as definitive as  their opinion may seem on a subject what is best to be kept in mind is: these are opinions about preferences.  

As I’ve outlined above there is scientific evidence for pineapple being a legitimate choice for a pizza just as there is scientific evidence for gender being a spectrum rather than a binary classification.  Just as I’ve outlined above some people prefer to have pineapple on their pizza and some people don’t just like some people prefer to use labels as some people don’t.  At the end of the day, it is not up to us to decided on who gets to do what with their pizza just as it is not up to us to decide how people identify.  

Here’s my take away from this whole “pineapple pizza” debacle: Pizza is like love.   You can put what you like on your pie and I can put what I like on mine.  If you don’t like what I have on my pizza, good.  More for me.  Don’t worry, I won’t force you to eat my pie.  Besides I’m pretty sure that’s illegal in most places.  You do you mate and I’ll do me.

What I like on my pizza-pie? Pineapples and Anchovies.  Do I have a label for it? Naw, I don’t feel like it needs one.  I like it just as it is.

 

Footnotes:

  1. See “My first English Xmas Dinner”
  2. If you’re interested in knowing more about why “sweet and salty” works from a scientific perspective, check out the How Stuff Works article “Why do Sweet and Salty Taste so Good Together?”

 

100 posts and going!

Happy Monday!

This here post, is my 100th post for Offbeat On-point and it has been a ride.  I have to be honest, I have not spent much (any) time thinking about doing anything particularly special for this post.

I feel like maybe this would be a good time to let y’all in on my some details of my master plan(1).

Image result for evil master plan

“”Master Plan””

Steps towards “The Vision 1.0”:

Merch:

I plan to start making stickers of my comics.  I’ll start a test run this summer trading stickers in person for schwag (things we all get) and rides, however due to my living situation(2) I won’t be able to mail stickers until October.  Eventually I’d like to make t-shirts and a line of emoji and other stuff.

Volunteers:

I am semi-actively looking for freelance or reoccurring or even better a recurring  writer.  I have plenty of stock ideas and am open to pitches for Mystery Monday and Rewind Wednesday, and I’m not sold yet but I’d be willing to open up Funny Fridays to pitches.  I cannot offer you pay however I can write you one hell of a recommendation letter(3) and some free stickers (when available).  If you are good at doing social networks (really could use a hand with twitter in specific) or feel like there is some other skill you could offer me, feel free to contact me.

#finandlouie4president2020:

This is not a joke.  I am determined to get “Fin and Louie” on the ballot for the American Presidential Election in 2020.  I must clarify, I (as in the writer/artist) am not running for the presidency but my creations, Fin and Louie, are.  There is historical precedence for this in the United States(4) and after the 2016 election results I’ve been inspired to start the “We Could Do Worse” Party(5).  However we need YOUR help.  If you Believe in the Fin or want to Follow Louie, whenever you see a political post somewhere on the internet post in the comments #finandlouie4president2020 #ibelieveinthefin #followmelouie #wecoulddoworse use all of them or one but the most important one to get traction is #finandlouie4president2020 and feel free to link to the comic too.  That will help understanding I am sure.

Overall I’m interested in building more of a relationship between us here at OBOP and you, the reader.  If you have ideas, suggestions, or anything please feel free to leave comments below.

Thanks for sticking with us for 100 posts and we hope to see you here in 100 more posts!

Also, don’t forget to check back in this Wednesday for the Press Release of Lady J and Paleface new music Video Link’s Arousing!

 

Footnotes:

  1. I read somewhere that a successful business is not grown on potential but vision.  If you exhibit a vision and give people, consumers and employees, a reason to believe in what you’re doing you’re more likely to build the kind of loyalty that nurtures relationships versus royalty-loyalty.  Though I guess that’s easy to say at this point when this a one-man show running on stolen time.
  2. I’ve been accepted into Lancaster University as a degree seeking student however in order to renew my visa, I must return to the United States.  For normal people this wouldn’t be much of a problem however as I am a hobo (DO NOT mistake my kind for bums, being a hobo means that one works to travel and travels to live; we earn our living and our way along the road we walk) I don’t have a home to go back to in St Louis.  So I plan to fly to San Francisco and walk the beach, looking for stories, adventure, and work while killing time until October.  This as you can imagine, does not afford the luxury of a set mailing point or address which would facilitate my sending stickers to you but when I get back to uni, I’ll have three hots and a cot again (probably, honestly haven’t looked into housing for next year but I’m not worried).
  3. I’m very excited at the prospect of getting to use the word “mogigraphia” in a recommendation letter.
  4. See Mickey Mouse Party and the Cthulhu Party, in fact I supported Cthulhu in 2016.
  5. Name isn’t set in stone, we could also name it the “Fin or Louie? Why Not Both?” party or “The Re-Tweeters” or “Team Not-Trump” or “It’s Just Politics, How Hard Could It Be?”, honestly were open to suggestion.

Zheng Shangyou (Card Game)

Happy Monday!

A few months back my friend taught me this game he picked up called Zhen Shangyou which is a Chinese card game.  He translates it as “Swim to be the First”. It also appears to readily be known as “Winner”.  Either way, it’s a fun and simple game for two players with variations for more players.

Number of players: 2

Goal: Be first to get rid of all their cards.

Hierarchy of cards and combinations:

Highest  -> Lowest:

Spades -> Hearts -> Diamonds -> Clubs

3 -> 4 -> 5 -> 6 -> 7 -> 8 -> 9 -> 10 -> Jack -> Queen -> King -> Ace -> Joker

Red Joker -> Black Joker

 

  • Single cards: Any card from the deck, ordered by rank with suit being the tie-breaker. (For instance, Ace of Spades will beat the Ace of Diamonds, which will beat the King of Spades.) The red Joker is the highest single.
  • Pairs: Any two cards of matching rank, ordered as with singular cards by the card of the higher suit. (A pair consisting of the King of Spades and the King of Clubs will beat a pair consisting of the King of Hearts and the King of Diamonds.)
  • Two [or more] pairs. Any number of pairs of cards with consecutive rank, e.g. 5-5-6-6-7-7
  • Three of a kind: Any three cards of matching rank.
  • Full House: A composite of a three-of-a-kind combination and a pair. Ordered by the rank of the triple, regardless of the pair.
  • Straight: Any five or more cards in a row. Twos are low in a straight (so K-A-2-3-4 is not valid, but 2-3-4-5-6 is), and Aces can be played high or low. A-2-3-4-5 is the lowest straight. If a [x] card straight is the current play type, it is only possible to beat it with another [x] card straight with a higher lowest card.
  • Bomb: Any four cards of matching rank. Can be played on all tricks excepts higher bombs (i.e. the four same cards having a higher value) or straight flushes.
  • Straight Flush: Any five or more cards in a row of the same suit. Same rules apply as a straight. A straight flush can be played on any tricks except for a higher straight flush [see straight].

 

 

Rules for Play:

  1. Once the cards have been shuffled, deal out the entire deck including jokers.
  2. Who ever has the 3 of diamonds goes first, however the 3 of diamonds does not need to be played.
  3. The player who goes first lays down the lowest card they have as a single, double, or triple (as if player one has two 3’s they could play one 3 or both).
  4. The next player plays the cards that are of the next highest available combination or if they cannot or choose to they can pass.  The first player to run out of cards wins.

Durak (card game)

Happy Monday folks!

As  I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I’ve decided to make my Monday posts “Mystery Monday” partly because I haven’t read anything I’ve wanted to write about that I haven’t already written extensively about for class(1) and partly because my life is just not exciting enough to write a memoir piece every week.  So I wanted to leave a day where I could surprise you my reader, because who doesn’t love a good surprise?

In line with the spirit of mystery I decided to write about a card game one of my flatmates taught me before leaving for winter holiday called: Durak(2).

Durak(3) is Russian for “idiot” or “fool”.  When I asked my flatmate why it was named this, he told me “It’s because this is a game where there are no winners, only a looser and only a fool would play such a game.” It’s a game of some skill and some luck however of the 5 rounds we played, I was overwhelming the durak.

Objective: Do not have any cards left in your hand at the end of the deck.

regular_durak

1. Deck; 2. first attacker; 3. defender; 4. next attacker (this game has a learning curve)

Number of Players: 2 – 7

 

Rules of Play:

  1. Each player is dealt 7 cards. Each player will keep a minimum of 7 cards in their hand until all cards from the deck and the power card (the face up card under the deck, this is simply the top card of the deck after the deck is shuffled and cards are dealt) are drawn.
  2. The first player initiates an attack to the left (player 2 attacks player 3). To attack player 2 lays down a card from their hand. The defending player (player 3) defends with a card of higher value and same suit or can deflect the attack to their left (player 4) with a card of the same value (obviously this card cannot be of the same suit). Any power suit card can defend against a non-power suit card. (Example: if player 2 attacks player 3 with a 6 of clubs, and the power suit [as determined by the power card] is hearts, player 3 can defend with a 2 of hearts)
  3. If player 3 cannot defend, then em takes the card and puts in their hand. If player 3 can defend then player 2 and/or player 4 can attack with more cards of the same value as any card in battle. If player 3 deflects the attack then the attacking card and the card used to deflect attack to the left, player 4. (Example: if player 2 attacks player 3 with a 6 of clubs and player 3 deflects the attack with a 6 of spades, now player 4 is defending against two 6s).
  4. If player 3 successfully defends, then all cards in battle go to the discard pile (a pile off to the side, these cards are now out of play for the rest of the game). If player 3 cannot defend or deflect, then em takes all cards in battle and puts them in em’s hand.  Everyone draws cards until they have 7 or more cards in hand starting with the attacker then clockwise.
  5. Now player 3 is the attacker and attacks player 4, to the left. Repeat.
  6. Players play and draw until the deck and the power card are drawn.  Once there is only one player left with cards in hand, they are declared the durak.

The game is a lot easier to understand once you play a hand or two and is a lot of fun.  It’s a really interesting game that utilizes game mechanics similar to trading card games except with the dynamic of using a regular 52 card deck, the playing field is relatively even.

I’ve picked up quite a few games and some card tricks but only a few are games are really unusual like this one.  If you have any unusual card games, feel free to leave a comment below.

 

Footnotes:

  1. I just finished a 3000 word literary analysis essay about the critical effectiveness of Darko Suvin‘s definition of Science Fiction (for the specific quote the prompt was taken, see 2.2) as a literary genre in his brilliant essay “Estrangement and Cognition” with regard to Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and Wells’s War of the Worlds (which if you haven’t read it and aren’t already familiar with The Gutenberg Project you can read it for free along with literally hundreds, maybe thousands, of other classics; it’s brilliant and you now have no excuse but wait until after reading my post to go drool over the quantity of free reading over there, please) and as much as I enjoyed both texts I just cannot be asked to look at them again much less write about them for a while.
  2. I’m going to show you how the game was taught to me, as there are many variations this is the one I learned and will share with you.
  3. Here’s how I’m going to describe pronouncing it even though I was told many times that I’m saying it wrong but I think I finally got it.  It’s two syllables, the first “dur” sounds like “door” if you replace the two “oo” with a long “u”.  The second syllable borrows the “r” sound but just barely and sounds like “rack”.

My First English Xmas Dinner.

Happy Monday!

As I mentioned last week, I’ve decide to deem Mondays “Mystery Monday”(1) and way back three days ago on Friday I already had an idea of what I was going to write about(2) but as reliable as clichés are life happened and now have quite a different thing to write about.

Xmas is just another day to me however my flatmates and friends here at uni all love xmas and many were gutted when they found out that I’m not going home or going to spend the holiday with anyone, to the point where a friend gifted me a chicken to roast for xmas dinner.

I’m not much of a cook but I can read directions.  I thought.

Four hours after putting my chicken in the oven, this is what I pull out.

20161225_175604

Xmas Dinner 2016: Briqued(3) Chicken

Looking at my blackened bird, I couldn’t figure whether I wanted more to laugh or cry(4) but either way I do what any sensible person would do: take a picture and send it to all my friends.

Everyone asked basically the same thing but my friend Nat phrased it best: ‘One question: how?’

Good question, because at that point I still didn’t have an answer until my other friend accused “did you read the directions?!” to which I replied “Of course I did, it read cook at 280* for 4 hours”, if you’re English and/or remember that I’m an American in England, you can probably see where this is going.   After a apéritif of ego, I dug out the package out of the trash, to prove to my friend that the directions were misprinted when I saw that it read 280F/137C.

Oh the joys of being a foreigner.

Happy Boxing days, folks.

If you have an embarrassing or funny holiday story, feel free to share in the comments below.

Footnotes:

  1. As a note from behind the scenes, I like alliterations and Friday being comic day lent it self to ‘Funny Friday’ and in the beginning I did memoir bits on Mondays but not exclusively, as it was originally my only day but once I started doing Fridays also it kept oscillating between book review and memoir and then sometimes it was just something else completely so I decided to make Monday more interesting by leaving it to be the wild card day or ‘Mystery Monday’.
  2. Don’t worry, I’m coming back to the Bubbles.
  3. I’m proposing that we make ‘brique’ a verb ‘to make into or like a briquette’ for my fellow Microwave Chef types.
  4. Not because I botched up xmas dinner, whatever, no I feel guilty about throwing out an animal food stuffs.  I’m not a ideological eater but I try to be mindful and I figure that if an animal has gone through the life of being raised to be food that the best way I can respect it’s former existence is to not let it’s nourishment go to waste because just to throw it away at this point seems kind of like insult on top of injury like “your existence was to be raised and killed and made into food but now you’re going to waste because you’re not even being appreciated as food.  I know there’s lots of logical holes and squishy bits in there but it’s why I felt guilty.

Tuesday Turn-around

Happy Tuesday!

tech-difficulties

Okay folks, it’s been a tough last few weeks and I apologize for not posting sooner/more regularly but here’s a (very) brief rundown of what’s gotten me down:

  1. November: it’s my least favourite month (lots of reasons, but it’s never good and never ends well).
  2. Being a stranger in a strange land is jarring on many levels and results in lots of paperwork, anxiety, international calls, waiting on documents, pushing deadlines, and that’s just on the academic side.  Personally and spiritually it has been as rewarding as punishing but most of all it’s been exhausting.
  3. “Project: Transfer to Lancaster as a full time student” has been an on going source of stress and paperwork and an additional reason to focus on my school work and start the prep work for next year (whether I end up here or back in St Louis, there will be a lot of things I’m going to have to organize and arrange).
  4. English Universities grade much more harshly than American Universities.
  5. My computer has drowned in irreparable damage both effecting my school work and my ability to produce excellent content on the side (such as this stuff).
  6. Black mold poisoning.

However now that I’m on winter break, I have less work(1) and I should be able to get the train rolling again.  I have some interviews coming up for the Music Wednesdays and some new books I read over break for Literary Review Monday however for the comics, I’m going to try and hand draw pictures and take pictures of them until I can find a vector program that I can use with out a personal computer(2).  Starting tomorrow, I will be back on a regular program for as long as I can go, though if things get heavy again, I may drop back down to two days(3).

With that, I’ll be back tomorrow.

Footnotes:

  1. Banter.  I don’t have any lectures or anyone around to distract me, I’m staying on campus over the holidays, but I have like 4 papers or about 8000 words to write over break which is like more than I have had to do all term combine thus far.
  2. This might take a while since finding a new program is fairly low on my list of priorities, just above purchasing a new laptop and below getting a job in the UK.
  3. If I am accepted into Lancaster, the remainder of this year will be a “qualifying year” meaning that as long as I do well, I’m in for next year and beyond but it’s not a 100% guarantee that I’m in, so if I am accepted I may take myself down to two days to help keep balance however if I’m not accepted then I will likely keep with three days and let things be as they will.