The Things They Carried (book review **SPOILER FREE**)

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Happy Monday!

I’m trying to read more shorter length books, 200-300 pages, because the last several months, almost a year now, I keep getting invested in these epic 1000+ page books which are generally rewarding do take me so very long not only to read but to digest (I’m looking at you Infinite Jest). In a means towards that end, I restarted and finished a book I started for a class in October, The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien.

things

Spoiler Free Summary and Review:

The Things They Carried (TTTC) is a war novel but it’s not about war.  TTTC is a piece of non-fiction where the author blatantly tells you “In many cases a true war story cannot be believed. If you believe it, be skeptical…In other cases you can’t even tell a true war story.  Sometimes it’s just beyond telling.” (70) The Things They Carried is less about a war or about the validity of the stories inside the covers but at it’s heart it’s a story about the things these men carried with them before, during, and after the war.  The literal things they each carried, from the stockings of a sweetheart to a fully illustrated New testament bible or simply a big bag of dope, to the memories and guilt and ultimately stories they tell themselves and anyone who will listen.

Generally set in the 1970’s the novel loosely follows Tim O’Brien and his company of fellow soldiers in a non-linear story line.  The stories that take place before and after the war are the minority leaving a strange and confusing amalgamation of funny and brutal stories about their experiences over there.  The non-linear story structure really works with the content of the story in that O’Brien “[Wants] you to feel what I felt. [O’Brien wants] you to know why story-truth is truer sometimes than happening-truth.” (179) and in this way I believe his choice of a non-linear narrative structure has helped convey this feeling that when you’re reading TTTC you are entering a shadowy and crowded room full of ghosts chattering, all vying for your attention but only a few voices come out clearly.  Ghosts and memories have no use for time as we understand it.  TTTC is a short novel at 236 pages however if you liked it, like I did, there are at least three more books about his experiences in Vietnam (Northern Lights, If I Die in a Combat Zone, and Going After Cacciato).

**SPOILERS BELOW**

Continue reading

Message from the Editor

Hey it’s Brad Evans again. Fin asked me to convey this message:

~~~~

“Happy Friday! Soz about all the waiting, everything has been going way not according to plan but you know what they say about the best laid plans: the best part is laying them!

I did get a stable internet connection, and a laptop. However, my laptop arrived with the software equivalent of “some assembly required.”

I have a good new job, not a writing one though, yet, but it’s crazy right now (more will be revealed,) and I’m going on a float trip next week after a 10 day work week. Then more side jobs, and the fun never ends.

I hope to be posting again by the first week of September, but remember what I said about plans?

I will be in touch and have good content coming soon.

Fin”

~~~~

Gotta cut the guy some slack, right? He’s just moved continents, and is working hard to get set up here.

For my part, I’ve been keeping busy with a summer creative writing class, among other things. I also hope to be posting more soon, and on subjects other than book reviews.

So stay tuned, guys! In the meantime, remember to stay Offbeat, but On Point!

-BE

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

Where Did the Night Fall?

Happy Wednesday!

This week I’m looking at the band UNKLE, an UK outfit composed of long time school friends James Lavalle and Tim Goldsworth. Over the course of their 5 album, 25 year career they’ve worked with a whole lot of other guest artists including their producer DJ Shadow, Thom Yorke from Radiohead, Mike D from Beastie Boys, Jason Newstead from Metallica, Queens of the Stone Age, Lupe Fiasco, Oasis, Massive Attack, and Linkin Park.         

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slide show of the artists UNKLE has collaborated with

I originally found Unkle from some housemates I used to live with years ago who played the song “The Answer – on a wire” [instrumental] which really struck a chord with me, one of my favourtie parts of the song is the transition between the two tracks “the answer” and “on a wire” from 4m20s to 4m40s.  After that song, I looked at their “War Stories” album and it was all downhill from there.

 

Image result for war stories unkle

I’m a sucker for good album art.

Unkle is celebrating their 25th year anniversary this year and announced their new album “The Road pt 1”.  They did an exhibition called “Daydreaming with UNKLE Presents…THE ROAD” at the Lazarides in SOHO London in celebration of the announcement, but I’m a bit late to the party (the show ran from 20th January to 23rd Feburary) but it sounded like a uniquely Unkle event:

The exhibition is a collaboration between a number of very talented artists, presenting everything from paintings, videos, artefacts and film screenings; this is the definitive UNKLE experience. I look forward to welcoming visitors to daydream with us.”

-James Lavalle 

 

Image result for the road pt. 1 unkle

The Road pt1 Album Art, so fucking good

 

The new album is slated to release 23rd June or this Friday(1) and they released a single, “Cowboys or Indians” feat YSEE, Mink, and Elliot Power.

 

In anticipation of the new album(1), I’m sharing with you a review of their newest album, “Where Did the Night Fall” their 5th studio album preceded by (in order): Psyence Fiction, Never Never Land, War Stories, and End Titles…Stories for Film.  They re-released the album in a 2 disk special edition called “Where Did the Night Fall – Another Night Out”:

The first disc will contain the same songs that are on the original album but the second disc contains material from two of UNKLE’s previous EPs, plus a number of exclusive and rare tracks. It was released on 11 April 2011. (Source: “Where Did the Night Fall”, wiki)

Today I’ll be sharing with you the original 15 track version of the CD.  

Image result for where did the night fall

I always kinda thought the lady on the cover kinda looked like she was trying to obtain “form of: high heel” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Where Did the Night Fall, U.N.K.L.E. (playlist link)

Track listing

  1. “Nowhere” – 0:40
  2. “Follow Me Down” (featuring Sleepy Sun) – 4:23 (lyrics)
  3. “Natural Selection” (featuring The Black Angels) – 4:10 (lyrics)
  4. “Joy Factory” (featuring Autolux) – 3:59 (lyrics)
  5. “The Answer” (featuring Big in Japan) – 4:40 (lyrics)
  6. “On a Wire” (featuring ELLE J) – 4:52 (lyrics)
  7. “Falling Stars” (featuring Gavin Clark) – 5:48 (lyrics)
  8. “Heavy Drug” – 1:13 (lyrics)
  9. “Caged Bird” (featuring Katrina Ford of Celebration) – 5:08 (lyrics)
  10. “Ablivion” – 4:29 (lyrics)
  11. “The Runaway” (featuring ELLE J) – 3:45 (lyrics)
  12. “Ever Rest” (featuring Joel Cadbury of South) – 4:21 (lyrics)
  13. “The Healing” (featuring Gavin Clark) – 4:27 (lyrics)
  14. “Another Night Out” (featuring Mark Lanegan) – 5:12 (lyrics)
  15. “Close Your Eyes” (featuring ELLE J) – 5:25 (available on the Australian edition)

(Source: “Where Did the Night Fall”, wiki)

Takeaway:

I like the overall story of the album and I love the characters introduced in this story type album, like oracles and travelers, road warriors, and lovers. The story feels like getting over a heartache (lost love, lost life, lost someone), the songs bobbing up and down between depression and cynicism before bouncing off bottom and beginning the healing process, as per track 13, before coming back to a stark reality: the return from the journey with track 14 Another Night Out which I think is the strongest ending to the narrative of the album but the track 15 Close Your Eyes does work well as an “aftercare” song after the emotional journey this album amounts to.  

Some really specific notes:

I love Rachel Fannan’s voice(2) with sounds like that growl opening stanza 2 at 30s (follow me down)

-The transition between tracks 5 and 6 is fucking stellar.  It’s easily one of my all time favourite transitions

-I love the sound of track 6 “On a Wire”.  Like not just drum line or the guitar, no. I like all of it. ALL.

-Are you really living
Or do you seek loving
Are you happy being
Or do you search for meaning
(love this so much, “The Healing” track 13)

-for some reason a lot of places have entirely different lyrics for track 13, I have included lyrics corresponding to the version of the song here

Footnotes:

  1. I missed my mark, it’s no ordinary joy.
  2. She was in the band Sleepy Sun at the time of making this album (2010)

Happy Brexit 1776 Day

Happy Tuesday!

Image result for brexit 1776 meme

The founding fathers were hipsters

I wanted to post to say: I got home from the UK safe and moved into my new place okay however I don’t have direct/consistent access to a computer/internet quite yet.  I have a post scheduled to post tomorrow that I wrote last week (it’s gonna be a good one, did an album review of “Where did the night fall?” by one of my favourite artists UNKLE) however I’m not sure if I’ll get around to getting back to a regular schedule until next week (I’m basically waiting on my new laptop to come in the mail, which should be soon).

Anyway happy ‘MURCIA day to my USA readers.  Be safe and have fun.

murca

That’s the spirit. 

-Fin

Abstract Realisation ft Wisecrack

Happy Thursday!

work 4 brains

Would you rather work for brains or do you harvest brains directly?

After watching a recent episode of Wisecrack(1) about the zombie apocalypse and talking with a friend about virtual reality I got to thinking about the abstract of a realistic mass social survival situation.  This Thursday Night at the Cinema, I invite you to consider this question and whilst watching: What makes life beautiful, the ability to survive against abject realistic conditions or the ability to create complex things granted digital abstract resources?

 

 

 

The Walking Dead: Why Do We Love the Zombie Apocalypse? – Wisecrack Edition”

 

I will leave this, admittedly abrupt, piece on another question (which I may also revisit in a future post when I have more time and when I’m not moving countries): What makes the colour of the flower beautiful, is it the colour itself or our ability to perceive the colour of the flower that makes it beautiful?

Working to have a comic ready this week, next week is still looking shifty with regard to regular posting with flying and the holiday but the week after is looking more solid now that I have my living situation worked out.  I am rewriting my resume and composing a portfolio and will be looking for work.  If you like my writing or think I’d like writing for a publication you like, please feel free to contact me.

Footnotes:

  1. I love wisecrack. No judgment.  Admittedly I don’t watch all their content but their “The Philosophy of [insert pop media]” and “The Hidden Meaning behind [insert pop media]” video essays are consistently on point.   

 

American Mythology and the Search for Identity featuring Tale Foundry

Happy Thursday!

Quick announcements: first of all soz for the late posting, see point three, second I went skydiving Wednesday (SPOILER ALERT I survived) and third, related to the first, the posting steam might get a bit tenuous over the next few weeks because next Sunday 2nd July I fly back to the states.  This week and next, I’m trying to sort out my summer and see people before we go to the four winds.  Then the next day I’m back it’s 4th July besides which, that first week might be a bit of an adjustment period all whilst seeing friends and family.  All this whilst sorting out my living and working situations.  I will post about skydiving with pictures (got a super sweet black t-shirt AND a sticker to boot) at some point.  

Feel free to follow my Instagram or Twitter for (some) extra content:
Instagram: fin.louie

Twitter: @offbeatonpoint

And if you really like us, give us a like at our facebook page: Offbeat On-point

I will keep updates coming.  I’m getting some new equipment when I get back to the states including a new laptop.  I’m hoping to start a monthly podcast by September and a fin and louie animated cartoon by December all depending on how long it takes for the dust to settle.  

//END ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

I watch a lot of cartoons.  I like adult cartoons like Rick and Morty and Bojack Horseman and I like youtube channels like Psych2Go and Grickle (if you haven’t seen any grickle stuff, you are in for a seriously strange treat).  However the majority of cartoons I watch, I’ve noticed, are less comedies and more educational which is a trend that I am personally very pleased with.  Tonight I’m sharing with you one of those educational cartoon channels:

Tale Foundry
Image result for tale foundry

 

Welcome to the foundry. Hope you like fiction-obsessed robots, pretentious literary discussion, and passably decent short fiction.

Facebook ➤ http://tinyurl.com/haskm6e
Twitter ➤ https://twitter.com/TheTaleFoundry
Tumblr ➤ http://talefoundry.tumblr.com/


Source: about page, youtube

With ‘MERCUA DAY (4th July) around the corner I figured it might be interesting to look at the playlist “American Folk Heroes – 2016”

American Folk Heroes – 2016 (playlist created by Tale Foundry)

  1. The Mythology of America 7m23s
    “The USA is pretty unique in its youth. It lacks the deep mythological background many other countries have developed, but that doesn’t mean the early Americans didn’t tell stories. In fact, their fiction is some of the most self-aware we’ve ever seen. So let’s talk about the “mythology” of America and what it means to the country today.” (source: description)
  2. 5 Heroes of American Legend 10m12s
    “Some of our favorite American folk heroes, a few of them lesser-known, a few of them on adverts across the country, and all of them reflective in some way of the unique zeitgeist of a newly-developed country.” (source: description)
  3. “A Good Laugh” — Original Short Story 21m01s
    “In this story we create our own modern American folk hero!
    But heroes aren’t always everything they promise, and ideas can always be killed…” (source: description)

Thoughts:

First thing I noticed when writing this piece was that Tale Foundry uses “Roboto” font which is a nice touch.  

 

roboto font

New faourite font

 

  1. The Mythology of America: I like the idea of presenting a subject “American Mythology”, which this video does, then sharing some examples (the next video), then submitting an original story with in the genre of the subject presented (the final video).  I like the animation style, reminds me of Hellenistic pottery and terracotta

    .  I like that this video challenges “The Frontier Thesis” about American Mythology and how it’s not reflective of modern american cultural psychology and speculates that hacktivist groups like Anonymous have become modern day folk legends.  What’s also interesting is that they postulate about conspiracy theories being folk legend and that social media allows us to create an

    Image result for anon

    One of Anonymous’ logos

    online persona of who we want, as in we can become the folk hero we want to be.  I’m personally not convinced that conspiracy theories count towards folklore (I will come back to this in my closing thoughts) but examining the role social media plays in crafting the modern folk legend is a theme that we will revisit in the third video.  

  2. 5 Folk Heroes of American Legend: I like that this video presents a spectrum of folk legends.  The are presented in the following order: #5 Johnny Appleseed, #4 Pecos Bill, #3 Paul Bunyan, #2 High John the Conqueror, and #1 John Henry.  The way I read the legends between the video and my own research is like this:

    Johnny Appleseed – A scrappy young man who exploited a frontier law to claim a bunch of land and sell it back for extra money, that law having to do with planting 50 apple trees on a plot of land.  After making his money he retires and becomes increasingly religious and in a need of catharsis to atone for how he made his riches he became a sort of traveling priest who gave sermons and planted trees,

    went vegetarian, and became a vocal animal rights activist.  The last few years of his life are what he’s remembered for which can be interpreted as spin especially if the apple orchards he was planting, which grew bitter cider apples used for brewing hard cider by the way, were being used to produce and sell hard cider.  In the case of marketing it makes perfect sense to “clean up ol’ Johnny Appleseed’s reputation by ignoring his early life and emphasizing the later life stuff”. Otherwise maybe it was a family and community which wanted to remember his later more charitable years. 
    Pecos Bill – A character invented by a soldier of fortune turned writer Tex O’Reilly in 1917.  The inspiration for Pecos Bill, understanding O’Reilly’s background, is quite clear being “the ultimate cowboy who chased all the Mexican bandits out of Image result for pecos bill wikiTexas and then went to Mexico to go find more” (and chase them where?!).  Tex O’Reilly fought in many wars himself including the Spanish–American War, the Philippine–American War, the Boxer Rebellion, he fought with Pancho Villa in Mexico, and served as an international policeman in Shanghai which gives insight into where O’Reilly’s “ultimate frontier justice warrior” came from but the authenticity of Pecos Bill being a “folk legend” is called into question by Tale Foundry.  For my own reasons which  I will expand on in the closing thoughts, I agree that Pecos Bill is not strictly a Folk Legend.
    Paul Bunyan – This is a logging hero that lumberjacks created via the oral tradition.  Paul Bunyan has become a cultural icon devoid of his previous identity traits sans his extremely large stature and equally large appetite frequently being showcased as a icon for pancake houses.  This hollow legacy is sad as Tale Foundry notes but it seems fitting in that Paul Bunyan seems to be a legend created as someone who is just big to be powerful rather than having a true purpose which I argue doesn’t entirely qualify Bunyan as a Folk Legend.
    Image result for paul bunyan
    High John the Conqueror – The idea of this story is a Prince from Africa was enslaved and brought to America where he would eventually outsmart his masters and escape helping other slaves along the way.  He eventually fell in love with the Devil’s daughter and they went back to Africa.  
    John Henry
    – A railroad/terraforming hero who was said to be the best and fastest railway tunnel digger around until steam engine technology came around.  However in a battle against obsolescence he challenged a steam engine to a race to bore a tunnel through a mountain.  John Henry won but immediately died and with him died the age of unassisted labor.  

  3. “A Good Laugh” original story by Ben this story seems to pose itself in the tradition of the American Folk Legend by presenting to us a narrator, Brandon, who is a journalist investigating a mysterious “legendary” viral media figure, “The Harlequin”.  Brandon’s role as detective in this noir style story reflects a curious generation, us millennials; Brandon’s “straight man”, all work and very serious about it, persona is silhouetted against the eccentric and, literally, colourful Harlequin who represents anonymous viral media commentators who manifest in pranks and modern pieces of social art, from replacing the ammo in a gun with jelly beans to making signs reading “Quack Lives Matter”.  She represents the troll, the edgelord, the chaotic counterpart to the Social Justice Warrior.  

    As the story progresses and comes to a climax, the narrator is changed by involuntarily participating and then witnessing the effects of The Harlequin’s newest gag and realising the absurdity of people who take life so very seriously whilst at the same time realising he himself is one of those who takes life very seriously.  The Harlequin betrays her humanity for a brief moment towards the end in a way of exposing “the lady behind the mask”, however given that the masque is tattooed on separation of the persona and the person seems near impossible, she reveals to the narrator that she is human just like him and permits Brandon to write the story about The Harlequin.  The implications of the Harlequin mask being permanently tattooed to her face as a representation of character does have disturbing implications with the ending when she mentions that the publishing of the story will martyr her character but she’s okay with that because everyone will move on anyway.  

    Both the ideas of the masque and the jester/entertainer providing the self-reflective role for society reminds me of the Blank on Blank interview with Robin Williams which  I wrote about last week and could be a possible inspiration for the character.  

Closing Thoughts:

From watching these videos and conducting a bit of extra research, I’ve come to a conclusion about what constitutes an American Folk Hero and how that differs from an American Legend.  I believe a folktale requires the following three characteristics:

  1. Authenticity – story is a reflection of the storyteller(s) but also a reflection of their cross section of society  
  2. Moral – has a message that manifests as a collective cultural concern
  3. Empathy – no matter how big the characters get, they have to be human and accessable

Taking these 3 criteria and checking them against the 5 American Folk Legends presented in video two, I created the “Mythology Spectrum”

mythology Spectum (1)

1 – John Henry; 2 – High John; 5 – Johnny Appleseed; 4 – Pecos Bill; 3 – Paul Bunyan

I would argue that High John and John Henry are the only two “true folk heroes” on this list because both are from authentic sources (slaves from Africa creating an African slave-escapee Hero; Railroad workers creating a Machine like Man who represents the collective anxieties of obsolescence in the face of developing steam technology), both have morals (High John was a criticism of slavery and American Society; John Henry does win the race against the Machine but dies afterwards representing a possible acceptance of the inevitability of change and the repercussions of said change), and both have empathetic characters (High John was a mere man and fellow slave; John Henry was a man who despite his incredible endurance and strength is still capable of dying).  

Image result for high john the conqueror

Image result for john henry
Whilst the other 3 stories fail one or more of these categories: Johnny Appleseed is Empathic in that it was based on a real man and it’s somewhat moral with Johnny’s animal rights activism but it’s more of a cover up story (lacks authenticity) of his younger life.  Pecos Bill was written by a guy who was a soldier rather than an actual ranch hand cowboy which comprises authenticity, the moral is lacking if at all present and likely left out in favour sheer of entertainment value, and just like Superman from the early comics he’s not an emphatic character: he’s an overpowered super-being who is incapable of defeat.  Then Paul Bunyan is similar to Pecos Bill in that it seems to lack a moral and empathy because the desire seems to be more for a character which can make a good (deus ex) machina for fun stories but Paul Bunyan’s origin is authentic though, stemming from lumberjack culture.

I believe that “A Good Laugh” qualifies as a folk tale and the two characters both represent the duality of the modern day folk hero.  Both Brandon and The Harlequin come from a place of authenticity in that both are artistic commentators, one a comedic activist whilst the other a journalistic writer, which I can guess is something that the author can relate to being a writer himself.  Both Brandon and The Harlequin represent a moral in that Brandon plays the skeptic and serious about it character who interrogates which he doesn’t understand, The Harlequin, to find out that The Harlequin views her role in society to play the troll or the edgelord but not for no reason but to shake people up with comedy as a reminder not to take everything so seriously.  These two characters compliment each other in that society needs both: the outside commentator who can be martyred and the inside shaper who can interpret and analyse the flood of information that comes at us via the internet and it’s prosthetics appendages (phones, computers, tablets, all the screens).  Finally both characters are empathetic.  From the beginning we can relate with Brandon because he, like the audience, doesn’t really know much about his mysterious interview subject and so we learn along with him about this figure.  

 

Then towards the end when The Harlequin reveals her humanity and reminds us that it’s good to laugh sometimes but there are also times to take things seriously and that too much of either results in a system which cannot be sustained.  Then on another layer they’re both relatable because we get a sense from both that regardless of their respective ages (he comments on her youth, he doesn’t mention his age but from his conservative attitude it would not be a huge stretch to believe he represents an older and slightly out of touch character) they’re both trying to forge an identity and make a difference in an age of unprecedented potential for visibility just like so many of us millenials trying to make sense of the world in any little way we can.       

Spoiler Free Book Review: Dresden Files Graphic Novel Omnibus One

Happy Tuesday and welcome to my first proper Tuesday article! Sorry for the time between posts but I’ve been in something of a stupor following the end of a successful semester. Last time was just an introduction, this time let’s get into the nitty gritty: my first book review. For this I’ve decided to start with omnibus #1 of Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files graphic novel.

So really this review will cover two short stories and two novels worth of illustrated Dresdenverse. And here lies one of my initial concerns: the layout of the omnibus. It begins and ends with an illustrated short story, with the first two novels of the series sandwiched in between. It goes like this: “Welcome to the Jungle,” Storm Front, Fool Moon, “Restoration of Faith.” But confusingly, both short stories occur before the novel in the DF timeline. In fact, the very last part of the omnibus occurs earliest, sequentially. I suppose this is because this is the order each of these was released as graphic novels, but I still found it jarring when I was finishing Fool Moon and ended up rolling right into “Restoration,” jumping back in time about 4-5 years in DF time.

Now, let’s talk about the art. It’s a real graphic novel and the quality of the artwork is up to that standard. Meaning it’s good, even great, but it’s not a masterpiece of the artistic spirit: and it’s not trying to be. The characters look more or less as I imagined them. Scenes of violence and nudity are done justice without being gratuitous. However, these early works show signs of the artists getting comfortable with the medium. So, while there are beautiful pages like this:

dresden wow                             and this:dresden wow2

There are also derpy looking panels like this:

dresden derp

It’s a give and take, for sure, but the overall effect works well.

Storm Front and Fool Moon are the first two novels in one of my favorite series. They are also Jim Butcher’s first published novels, and he was just starting to find himself as a writer. The stories include elements of noir and detective fiction that are largely tossed to the wayside in the more recent entries of the series. He does it well, but it’s flawed in a way that’s hard to put a finger on. Butcher’s storytelling, worldbuilding, and ability to develop characters really starts to shine around book four, so I am looking forward to seeing that in graphic novel form at some future point.

A mostly minor gripe I have with these graphic novels is in the typography. There are typos. Not a lot, but more than enough to be noticeable, and given that the graphic novels have far fewer words than the source material, it’s a bit disappointing. Several times I was jarred out of the story by an irritating typo that forced me to decipher what was being said. The most notable of these is an omitted word at the end of the first novel. To fans of the series, the last couple lines of book one are iconic. “My name is Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden. Conjure by it at your own risk.” In the graphic novel, the word “by” is omitted. It just says, “Conjure it at your own risk.” This changes the meaning of the statement somewhat, and, to me, is an annoying deviation from the source material.

Overall though, I enjoyed these graphic novels. In fact, I enjoyed them so much that I read all of them in the space of an evening. The graphic novel format gives you an alternative way to get in on the ground floor of this amazing series. Whether you’re a fan of the series or just a fan of the Fantasy genre and looking for something new and fun to read, I would heartily recommend these.

-Brad Evans

 

Citation: Butcher, Jim, and Mark Powers. Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files Omnibus, Volume 1: Welcome to the Jungle; Storm Front; Fool Moon; Restoration of Faith. Mt. Laurel, NJ: Dynamite Entertainment, 2015. Print.

Rewind Wednesday Rescheduled this Week

Happy Tuesday!

Just a short quick announcement: I’m going skydiving for the first time with my friend (15,000ft…just now starting to freak out a bit) tomorrow and from what I understand it can be an entire day event depending on weather.

That being said, I’m rescheduling what I planned to post this Wednesday next Wednesday and I will post this Thursday Night at the Cinema as regularly scheduled.

Wish me and my friend luck! And we will see you here Thursday!

Fin

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”

Fishing for Compliments (comic)

Happy Friday! 

When fishing for compliments, don’t get greedy.