30 Years of Experience (Birthday Post)

Happy Sunday, Motherfuckers!

Today is my birthday.  I turn thirty. I have been thinking about this post for a long time now and until months ago, had really ambitious, self-indulgent, ideas for something along the lines of a slip-stream collection of vignettes related with common themes and other pretentious crap like that however there’s a few problems with that:

  1. I hate self indulgent writing which is why I rarely write much of anything public about myself.  It’s happened, even on this blog, but I just cannot do it right now.
  2. Once I started an outline for that project, it became so big it’s now become a semi-book idea but way on the back burner because I just really don’t have any interest in publishing anything memoir-like or autobiographical until the counter gets closer to my number.  
  3. I’m not good with finishing ambitious projects on a timeline (even if I have a year or so).  At the moment anyway, maybe in the future when I’m more of a professional writer and at least some of my income is coming from writing/researching and I will have paid time to focus on such big projects instead of finding balance between a day job, spending time with my family, and working on my projects (frequently at the expense of, some, sleep).  

However it’s a bit beneath me to just say “Fuck all” and just post something along the lines of “business as usual” so I’m gonna try something I’ve never done before.  Like the stream-of-consciousness nonsensical way life meanders, or at least that’s how my life feels like it’s gone, I’m going to list the highlights of my life in loosely related one-liners interspersed with brief interludes of diatribes.  As is true to “art-imitating-life”(1) form there won’t be any intentional chronological or thematic structure. I haven’t drafted this or anything, this is coming out in a single raw and uncut draft, and like life however it happens is how it was always going to happen: random until observed.  

So, like, a life in headlines.  How about this for a headline: “In 30 years of life I’ve had, in total, as many near death experiences.”

I have a minor phobia of white vans.  

The first time I had a three-way, it was with my girlfriend and her curious friend.

I’ve always wanted to live in California until I did.  

I’ve been very aware of my own mortality and generally the human condition when I lost my 10th friend/family member at the age of 16.

I know what it’s like to be whipped with a 10 foot whip and not in a kinky way either.  

I saw my first full apparition ghost when I was seven.

I saw my first death/corpse/car accident (that I wasn’t involved in at all) when I was 19.

I went skydiving at 15,000 feet whilst in the UK and learned that if you jump from a high enough place, you won’t have enough breath to scream the whole way down.  

I’ve been homeless more than five times in my adult life, in more than a few states and technically whilst abroad.  

I’ve struggled with addiction but there was a line in the Refugee Recovery handbook that changed my entire outlook on addiction: Most people once accepting that they have a substance issue will never be able to go back to using recreationally but in some very rare cases they can.

Since beginning my first job at 15, I’ve worked in five very different professions.  

I cannot remember losing my virginity.

The first girl I ever dated broke up with me and tried to set me up with her friend however a couple of days later I walked in on them fucking.  

I’ve always felt like a “lesbian who has curiosities about men” inhabiting a man’s body.  

As in I’ve never really had a strong sense of dysphoria, I like having a dick and generally being a man but I’ve always liked dressing in women’s clothes.

I used to know a couple of girls in my childhood neighborhood who both liked me and I liked them. One was a curvy, short, blonde and the other was a tall, trim, redhead however I would always be a little anxious hanging out with them because I always felt like they were competing for my attention (I found out later this was true) and that this was a bit of a point of contention.  This was the first time I realised that I am polyamorous even if I didn’t have the vocabulary for that (all of us were late elementary school age, like between 11 and 12). They were both adopted by a single dad (they weren’t related by blood) and then one day they with their dad up and disappeared. As in one day the house was lived in and they had all their things every where, then the next day the house was completely abandoned except a few pieces of silverware and a blank floppy disk. It still haunts me to this day.

When I was a kid I always thought “silverware” was spelled “civilware” because not only are utensils obviously not made from silver and “civilized people use civilware”.  

I had an imaginary friend who creeped me out when I was a child.  I dubbed him “Camera Man” because I thought he was video taping every moment of my life documentary style.  I even used to dress in my closet because I didn’t want him to see me naked.

I’ve lived in 5 states, 2 countries, and over 15 zip codes in my home city of St Louis.  

I only have one friend left whom I’ve known longer than 5 years.

Prolonged and extreme isolation does some strange things to the human mind, similar to extreme sleep deprivation except less hallucinations.

The two main characters of my webcomic, Fin & Louie, were born out of a place of lonely desperation.  I had began drawing regularly again and I was particularly drunk one afternoon, alone, and was doodling in my notebook.  This is a semi-true story so far, I remember now that I started drawing comics and I stylized a stick figure with a mohawk to resemble my own self image at the time: minimalist with a mowhawk. Now back to the point where I was drunk, alone, and doodling in my notebook: I was having trouble coming up with some new comic ideas so I drew Fin and listened for him to talk to me.  To my surprise, he asked for a friend. I drew him a little doggy with one big spot. However that didn’t feel quite right. The dog still makes appearances in the comic, I mean he is Fin’s first pet after all, so then something came to me. A ghost of an idea, a character who could be anything he wanted to be and thus Louie the Ghost was born.

I’ve been writing since I was 7 and despite my minimalistic tendencies, I am still in possession of all my notebooks.

It took me a surprisingly long time to discover punk rock, like the good stuff not most of what composes the “new wave” of punk or whatever, especially since I discovered ska(2) almost 10 years ago now.

I strongly prefer psycho-billy to rockabilly, both fashionistically and musically.

My father told me since I was a child “Never get married or have children because they will ruin your life”.

Today I turn 30 and have been engaged for almost a year with a girl who has a kid and my life has never been more beautiful, fulfilling, or passionate.

 

Stay tuned next week when I resume my flash impressions of The Dresden Files series.  

-fin             

 

Footnotes:

 

  1. I believe that it goes both ways, art-imitates-life and life-imitates-art, however I feel most strongly that it’s the former than the latter because the human mind craves structure, meaning, and significance so we create art that “imitates life” however with more polish, intent, and a more clear narrative structure so that when we visit art in a way to understand life we can see the meaning of things or at least be given the illusion that there is a hidden underlining plan and a meaneaningful structure beyond the framework of mathematics and geometry.  Now I think life can be perceived to imitate art when we, as creatures with pattern seeking minds, see things happen in life that remind us of a piece of art (usually something fairly old) and believe that life is now reflecting the art that spawned that moment. Hopefully the distinction is clear, if not or if you disagree or anything always feel free to leave a comment below.
  2. Ska being the gateway drug to punk.
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An Update on A Band of Misprints and The Adventures of Fin & Louie (announcements)

Happy Saturday!

By EXACTLY zero popular demand here is the anti-anticipated maybe-but-probably-not awaited official update on “A Band of Misprints” Book 1 in The Big River Chronicles AND “The Adventures of Fin & Louie”

So Marc, one of my lovelies, got me a cream-worthy-cool present: a pad of giant post-it notes.  I got to work almost immediately.

A Band of Misprints (update)

total map

The Full Map

So this thing may look like a giant jumble but I have it broken down into smaller sections.

Here is a rough sketch of the city of Big River which is the city in which The Big River Chronicles takes place:

big river map

Big River Map

Then in the first book, A Band of Misprints, most/all of the narrative takes place in The Neighborhood:

cul de sac map.jpg

The Neighborhood Map

I have 3-4 main characters, depending on how you/I count, and I’ve made a relationship map for each main character.

freak and danny.jpg

Freak and Danny character map

brain char map

Brain character map

slick char map.jpg

Slick character map

progress log 1

Looks promising right?

So based on this list of statics…I’m no where close to finished.  I would like to think that prose writing will go much faster now that every time I say “I’m going to work on some stuff” I write rather than “sit down at the computer fully intending ‘to write’, open google docs, realise I’m flailing around with no particular plan in mind but brute force pushing forward with chapter writing, cry a little on the inside at how overwhelmed I feel and generally how that makes me feel like a failure as a writer, play on facebook for a while, smoke a few cigarettes, watch some childrens’ show (Adventure Time, Gravity Falls, Phineas and Ferb, etc) for ‘inspiration’ (both a distraction and self consoling from my inside weeping because of insecurities)”, however dog only knows how long this first draft will take however I am confident I will have the first part, written in full prose and all, finished…lets say: by my birthday this year (23rd Sept).  Realistically, I think I will be done with the first part sooner than that but I’m being kind to “Future Blake”.

 

 

The Adventures of Fin and Louie (update)

So I finished the first story arc in the first trilogy of “The Adventures of Fin & Louie”: Looking for a Friend(1) and the story so far can be found here: “The Adventures of Fin & Louie”.

Now I’ve had the general direction of this trilogy in mind: “Looking for a Friend”, “Fin & Louie: Partners in Crime” and [Sir Title Hasn’t Been Announced Yet].

sir not here

The only spoiler I’m  releasing right now.

I am thinking about redrawing all the comics in “Looking for a Friend” story arc on one piece of giant post-it with intention of being able to fit the other two story arcs on a piece of giant post-it as well.  I may make them into posters or something someday.  File that in the same place as my “I’ll make stickers/coasters for sale” statement (it’ll happen…someday when I have spare money or demand [if I get requests, I WILL find the money like yesterday])

I have not forgotten about the other projects I’m working on (“hair.” and “The St Louis Experience”).  I have no idea when I will get closer to doing anything material with “hair.” however “The St Louis Experience” is something I might be able to start this spring.  I would like to but here is my priority list of projects (my life is a waltz that goes like “family, work, projects”):

  1. The Adventures of Fin & Louie/OBOP
  2. A Band of Misprints/The Big River Chronicles
  3. The St Louis Expierence
  4. hair.
  5. Everything Else

I will try to have another post up for Monday, a lot has been on my mind lately (personal, creative, projects, work, life in general) so I’m pretty sure I will be able to churn something out for Monday, if not know that it’s probably because I was getting into a fight with the Easter Bunny.

easter bunny riot

I fucking love Mall Rats.

So stay tuned, good things are coming.  Maybe more frequently.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

-fin

Footnotes:

  1. You’ve thunk a writer like me could have found a easier way to phrase that, wouldn’t ya?

The Golden Ass: A Valentine’s Day Novel with Something for Everyone

Happy Tuesday!

Okay so Valentines day is tomorrow.  I have expressed how seriously I take this “holiday”(1) in the past.

However as a shameless self-promoter and a young writer/artist desperate for ever more attention as a form of validation (for a struggling artist, everyday is like being single and drunk on Valentine’s day: an emotional fucking roller coaster), I always try to jump on whatever will grab me more traffic without completely whoring out my “talents”.  Which this time of year means writing something about Valentine’s day.

This post started out as a simple etymological exploration of the English word “love”(2) and myth of Eros and Psyche, particularly inspired from the brilliant video from Overly Sarcastic Productions: Miscellaneous Myths: Eros and Psyche.

Then I remembered: this is OBOP what’s so offbeat about writing about “love” during valentines week? It’s onpoint but not offbeat.  So I. Dug. DEEPER. And what I found was…really interesting.

the golden ass

The book in question this week is one that, like the word “love”, has a few different faces and lacks the simplicity that a four letter word seems to promise.

NOTE: I haven’t read this book in it’s entirety yet.  I’m working on it but I couldn’t finish it in time however I promise this will not be the last time I visit t his unique piece of literature.  I have big plans for this rare volume.

There are more than a few interesting(3) things about this novel other than it’s rather lewd title.  The first being is that the original title was “Metamorphosis”, which as far as I can tell has very little to do with the Kafka novel of the same name, but then was renamed by St Augustine of Hippo to the more appropriate “The Golden Ass”(4) and the second is that this is the only novel from the Grecco-Roman to survive in it’s entirety.  Some one cared to make sure that this piece of literature survived the fall of the Roman empire.

As promised, The Golden Ass is about an Ass or more specifically about a man who is driven by curiosity and the desire to learn about magic and accidentally turns himself into a donkey and then goes on adventures.  These adventures include adultery, witches rasing a familyreplacing a man’s heart with a sponge, golden showers, murder, necromancy, , thievery, kidnapping, anonymous sex with an invisible being, animal cruelty, catamite priests, cuckolding, incest, and bestiality.  These are just the highlights, folks.  Truly something for everyone.

Now if you’re still with me, you might be wondering “Fin: what does this lewd and strangely appropriately titled piece of ancient literature have to do with Eros and Psyche?”

One of the inset stories in The Golden Ass is Eros and Psyche. I feel like the entirety of The Golden Ass, rather than one hand-picked and relatively tame piece, does a better job of reflecting the complexity, beauty, and occasionally taboo aspects of love.  Love, for me, in every capacity from romantic to platonic has many different forms and facets.  Sometimes love is beautiful, other times it’s gross, but most often love much more complex than just a couple of star-crossed lovers who get a lovely ending or the loyalty between individuals who have grown together and die together.

Happy Valentine’s day.

-fin

STAY TUNED: The next comic in The Adventures of Fin and Louie is coming soon (probably this week), it’ll be the second to last comic before the end of the “Looking for a Friend/Count Rubber’s Keep” story arc.

Footnotes:

  1. Valentine’s day started out as a guilt trip from a Saint named Valentinus (there are two, no one knows who it was about originally) who, according to legend, was marrying Roman soldiers illegally, they took vows not to be married, and then healed the judges blind daughter.  The judge ruled to against the Saint and the Saint wrote a farewell note reading “Farewell, your Valentine”.  At best, being someone’s “Valentine” is like a passive aggressive death curse or something.

2. Which does have an interesting and complicated history which reflects it’s relatively sloppy application because of how ambiguously it can be used from sports (Tennis) to phrases like “for love or money” roughly meaning “for anything” which it self has revealing implications of motivations.  If you’re interested, read more here: “love” etymology online dictionary

  1. I recognise that one of my weaknesses as a writer is the over-use (I prefer “liberal”) of the word “interesting” however this is one of those posts where “interesting” might be the best word to use liberally to talk about this ancient novel.

  2. I understand that St Augustine of Hippo was not, publicly, a fan of Metamorphosis and likely nicknamed the book a less polite title as a way to smear the reputation of the book.  I think the title is an improvement because otherwise I probably wouldn’t have looked into this book in the first place.

Video Log #2: TIL you shouldn’t try to buy a plane ticket with a prepaid card and other stuff

Happy Sunday!

Heya so it’s Sunday and the last day of Game Jam at the local University which also means the last day I have a place to sleep and stuff to eat, which is the bad news BUT the good news is that I have my plane ticket sorted out now, thanks the best brother from another mother I could have Evan.  And even more good news is I’m leaving 4th February rather than 6th February which works well since my bus pass expires 2nd February.

Anyway I posted my second Video Log today which you can find here:

 

On a side note, I watched this wisecrack video on a few of my favouirte things:  Bojack Horseman, Rick & Morty, and Nihilism last night.  Link to the video here:

It’s an interesting view, the view from the cliff edge looking into the dizzying abyss.  It helps me sleep knowing that no matter what we do, what sort of constructs we subscribe to, or any sort of meaning we try to assign to anything that nothing can change the fact that no one exists on purpose, humanity can’t stop the eventual heat death of the universe, and that each individual is essentially alone in consciousness.

When one stops trying to assign meaning to life events it really frees up a lot of processing power for other projects and thought exercises, such as writing and other artistic endeavours.  “Sure the universe provides, it provides a space for us to exist for and some strange things to look at until we die.  The ability to recogonise this doesn’t make you special, it just makes you a high functioning sentient being.”

I plan to post more content this week, seeing how much free time I have now.  I think I will be able to post the next panel in “The Adventures of Fin & Louie” and I hope to have time/ability to write something about “Notes of a Dirty Old Man” which is a collection of  the pieces Charles Bukowski wrote for the small news paper Open City.  Bukowski, talk about a fucking Nihilist, cheesis fucking cheddar.  However his writings do fit this week’s theme though.

Anyway will post again soon.  Check out my youtube channel, link here: Fin Louie Channel to keep updated, and I refuse to say some stupid shit about smashing or up thumbs unless it has something to do with sex.

-Fin

Steal like an Artist (NSFW)

PICASSO

Happy Monday!

Sometimes I get ideas.  Some are kinda strange whilst others are largely ambitious (okay, MOST of my ideas are largely ambitious) and sometimes I get ideas as if they were placed in my head rather than being an original idea of my own, when this happens my friend likes to say that “thoughts are falling from the sky”.  I had one of these ideas a few months ago, it was a few episode pitches for the show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. For those of you who are not aware of the premise of this 12 season behemoth (how?) it can be summed up in one sentence “What if you had 4 immature narcissist sociopaths own and run a bar in Philadelphia.”  The results are, as those who are familiar with the show, hilarious and extremely not safe for work.  

What’s to follow is probably the most vulgar and/or NSFW content I’ve posted here on OBOP but I just finished my 12th notebook(1) and looking back I ran across these and realised that with my experience with screenwriting (none) and experience level (I don’t wanna talk about it) that I’ve probably exhausted my ability to see these ideas to fruition.  However the reason I’m sharing these ideas is because I really hope that someone steals these ideas and makes these episodes happen.  Probably won’t work out that way, but these made me laugh.  

**WARNING: NSFW CONTENT BELOW** 

Continue reading

State of the Blog Address: Summer’s End and New Beginnings

Happy Monday and good morning!

I want to first give credit to the featured image.  The featured image is the album art for

summers end

Featured Image for those on mobile

the band “Summer’s End” self titled debut album.  They’re a metalcore punk band and a link to the full album on youtube can be found here (it’s pretty fucking hardcore so far) Summer’s End (Full Album) and if you like them you can purchase their full album here.

Okay folks, apologies and thank yous are first in order.   First I want to apologise for not being able to write a proper post since I left the UK in June.  I wasn’t able to post because I broke my laptop whilst in England long ago and I didn’t want to buy a new one before coming home because of how annoying it can be to travel internationally, especially coming into America, and I have already moaned about the technical difficulties I had once I got it however this post is not for moaning, so quit it (I yell at myself sometimes, I have to keep me in line).

Thank yous are the second part of this introduction and as they maybe brief that makes them no less heart felt.  First I want to thank all of you who kept checking back and reading my archived posts over the last few months. I’ll be honest, I didn’t even check my stats until yesterday because I was so anxious about how dead it would be but when I finally did check them I was really fucking surprised to have found consistent traffic the last few months and that’s all because of readers like you.  Another giant thank you goes out to my friend Lucian who fixed my computer when I was at “rage quit” level of frustration.

rage quit

I have a laptop but this is pretty accurate. Source

Okay so now on to the main presentation: I’m gonna be pretty much rapid firing from the hip on this post because I have a lot of territory to cover in the next 654 words or so (1).  First I want to say that I really loved my time in the UK and that even thinking about it now, leaving to come come was one of the most difficult decisions I have made in the last few years(2) however now that I’ve been back for a few months and working and generally building a life, I feel as if I have made the correct decision.  The traveling home was much better than the traveling to the UK(3), thankfully, however the transition was much more difficult but a story for another time when I have much less interesting things lined up.

One thing that I’ve found more interesting to think about than juxtaposing my experiences between settling in the UK and settling in the US again was how the face of my consciousness seems to have changed (for the better, mind, or so I believe) with a set of unforseen moments.  The week before leaving the UK, my ex partner contacts me out closureof the blue after almost 2 years of complete silence (the break up left one hell of an emotional hangover(3)) looking to meet up if/when I got back.  This kinda rocked my world because I accepted that this was one of those things in life where you don’t quite get closure so just buck up.  The meeting was interesting.  We got lunch and caught up but ultimately I got what I wanted all along: a little bit of closure (enough anyway).

This loose end tied up coupled with my new found confidence of being an international traveler and having an adult job and a place with no fucking roommates(5) for the first time since my first apartment almost 10 years ago now, I went on a fucking dating tear. I had plans to download and use several dating apps and make a summer article series reviewing said dating apps and I got as far as using about 5 of them for about a month before I met by happenstance someone really special.

I got up early one Saturday morning to try and get to my parents house to fix my computer (needed a working computer handy) but I feel asleep on the train whilst reading and woke up way on the East side and needed to ride back (I live on the south side, my parents live on the west side).  Coming back I switch trains at Forest Park and I am floored by this beautiful woman sitting at the front of the car.  First thing I noticed, even before the numerous facial piercings, was the headscarf she was wearing (a black and grey number) which got me excited because I pretty frequently wear a head scarf as well and works as a good conversation starter.  However I’m not ready for action jack, not at this point.  So I sit across the hall and try to start reading but I’m distracted because out of my peripheral vision I can see the striking woman like staring at me (well I assumed, she was wearing big bug eye sunglasses so I couldn’t really see exactly where she was looking).  And she kept staring.  And kept staring.  After what felt like a few hours of heart pounding mounting social pressure, I got the strength up to turn to talk to her because she’s literally staring at me (I was gonna say something stupid like “Wanna picture? hahaha”) but when I turn and look I realise she’s not quite looking at me.  I look up: the fucking metro train map was above my seat she wasn’t looking at me she was looking at the map.

thought

Story of my actual life.

I couldn’t let this surge of adrenaline go to waste though, I’m pretty sure that’s not healthy.  So I ask her: Where are you going?  She tells me she’s trying to get to the north side which immediately sets off a chain of thoughts (not about the north side of st louis you racist fuck) about how to get her there because we just boarded the blue line going south.  So I tried to explain “well you’re going to take this train for one stop, get off, get on another train going back one stop, then get on another train going west but make sure it’s red this time…” I believe her eyes glazed over before this point but I didn’t notice until that moment which prompted me to say the next thing which changed the trajectory of the entire day: “Know what? I don’t have much going on today, I’ll ride the trains with you until you get on the one going home.”  That was one of the best decisions I’ve made this summer because now its been about a month since I met her and I can’t entirely express how positive of an effect she’s had on my psyche but it’s been a good month so far.

Now that I’ve cleared my plate of personal interests I want to devote the remaining few hundred words to what I have planed for the rest of the year:

  • cannon comics – I’ve been laying plans to introduce a storyline to the adventures of Fin and Louie with a big surprise story arc to end the year so stay tuned. 
  • comic book – I am planning to release an Offbeat On-point Comic Book: Year 1 which will contain all the comics from the previous year, digitally redrawn and pictures of original hand drawn drafts plus previously unreleased comics  
  • interviews – I have some very exciting interviews lined up with a local fire dancer, I am still in talks with Talon from Talon’s tree house (you can check out the preview promo here), and more
  • tenative scheduling – with my new 40+ hr/wk work schedule and specifically being September (birthday month is always a stressful time of year not to mention September is my month for sneezing) I am not able to guarantee a 4 day a week posting schedule at this moment however my goal is to get back to at least 3 days a week (I may drop Rewind Wednesday column in favour of a podcast but I still need to do more research about what music I can play and if I need permissions etc and in fact if you have a podcast or otherwise are an expert on the legality of playing music that I may not own but have access to please write me – see contact page
  • infinite jest – I have finally finished the book for the second time and do feel like I have something intelligible to say about the book and I feel like I have a few perspectives to offer on the book that I have yet to see in my research however because it’s such a widely written about book yet also one which a vast majority of people who start it never finish it, I do realise that writings about the tome sized book is very deep in niche territory but because of these two things I will try to do something different and fun deviating from a normal book review or analysis, no promises on when it will come out but if there is appreciable interest in further writings about Infinite Jest or other DFW books I will continue on   
  • merch – I’m in talks with some suppliers to make coasters, stickers, and t-shirts but beyond that I have no more info
  • contests – I mentioned before (read more here) about doing poetry/flash fiction/fan art contests however I did kinda drop the ball because I mentioned it at a time just before moving home and that is my fault.  Now that I’m back on the grind and much closer to getting some merch, I will start having prizes for contests and monthly give-a-ways. 

In short, thank you so very much my loyal readers for sticking with me through the last few months.  It really means a lot to me for real.

Stay tuned because there’s some good stuff coming down the lines and also don’t forget to check back next Friday 22nd September for the annual birthday comic special! (P.S. If you’re a REALLY big fan, find me on social media and send me birthday wishes on the 23rd of September)

 

See you soon,

Fin

 

Footnotes:

  1. I try to keep my posts 1000 or less words not counting footnotes.
  2. You can read about my decision to not stay in the UK and come back to St Louis here.
  3. Link to my post about leaving America.
  4. Link to a particularly heavy piece I wrote July 2016 on the subject.  I won’t blame you for not reading, it was not one of my strongest pieces.
  5. My view on roommates: convenient at best.

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?”