2008.12.09 it's what i hate about you:

Things that have been irking me, lately (aside from Mr. "Take Down Your Domain")…

CNN's Campbell Brown. I don't know why she gets on my nerves so bad. Her "outrage" just comes across as hokey and insincere. She's CNN's mad dash to try to court the rabid fanbase of Keith Olbermann, and it shows.

I've also sickened of the suffix of "gate" to any scandal. Just this morning I've read multiple articles about "Zunegate;" there's a rumor going around that Obama uses a Zune, rather than an iPod. GASP!

And, further along that thread, the adding of "punk" to denote some sort of (usually literary) movement. Sure, we had Cyberpunk, then Steampunk, but now they're trying for Atompunk. That's just getting stupid. What's next? A gay porn literary movement called "Dickpunk?" Cat fiction called "Catpunk"?

Of course, this just helps to create a Punkgate. And I've now become part of the problem.

- 10:27 am:: im
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2008.12.05 5,6, suck my dick:

Dear Jackass That Decided to Harrass Our Hosting Company to Bring Our Site Down,

Fuck you. Eat a bag of dicks.

Sincerely,
x:13 design

- 03:24 pm:: im
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2008.12.02 it was a good day:

This morning when I went out to my car, my driver's side door was frozen shut. This, of course, agitated me. I grumbled, of course. What a shitty way to start my day, right? So I climbed in the passenger side and I was on my way. I forgot to get out to Kroger, last night, so I had to stop into McD's for a sausage biscuit. I hit the drive through. The girl starts talking…and my window won't roll down! Frozen! FUCK!

I try the door…STILL FROZEN! DOUBLE FUCK!

So I pull around and park the car, bitching up a storm to myself. When I get to the door, the one on that side of the building…LOCKED!

MOTHERFUCKERS! What the fuck is up with this shitty day?!

So I walk around. I get inside, the transaction takes 30 seconds, tops. I have a little laugh with the girl about my morning, and I was out the door.

When I went outside, I saw ol' Bob S. across the street. I had seen him waiting for the TARC there a few times, but never thought to stop. I asked him where he was headed, and it was on my way to work, so I gave him a ride.

I hadn't seen Bob in a while, so it was nice to catch up. He's not really drinking, anymore. He's got a good job. He's living with his girlfriend. He's got a good new band going. He's in a good place. I dropped him off at work and told him he's always got a ride in to work, if he wants it, as it's on my way. No sense in standing in the cold, waiting on a TARC.

I turned it over in my head, on the rest of the way into work. It was nice to see Bob. To reconnect. And then I realized, had my car door not been frozen shut, I wouldn't have had to get out of the car. Had the door not been locked at McDonald's, I wouldn't have walked around. Had I not walked around, I wouldn't have seen Bob and had that chance to reconnect.

This isn't one of those "all things happen for a reason" type of things. I mean…it's fairly simple: Had those things all not happened, I would not have seen Bob. There's a stark zen-ness to it.

And, of course, through the magic of thermodynamics (and/or karma, if you so choose), my car door opened fine, once I got to work.

Good things happened, though I thought they wouldn't.

- 05:12 pm:: im
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2008.11.06 if i don't win, i'm-a gonna break even:

I probably should have been like everyone else and posted my big political post yesterday, but I just had to take a day off and reflect. That and I'm intensely lazy.

Yeah. So. Wow. How about that? The American people stepped up, said they had had enough of this Bush/NeoCon bullshit, and elected a man who has spent the past two years inspiring voters from all walks of life, all across this country. I'll be honest…I didn't always have faith that it was going to turn out this way. More often than I would care to admit, I lay awake in the dark, thinking about stolent elections, extended wars, and complete economic collapse. I actually (in my head) started preparing for a possible Mad Max style future where I was going to have to convert a motocross bike to run on vegetable oil and live out in the woods, eating squirrel.

So, obviously, I was pretty overjoyed, tuesday night. True, the good people of the great Commonwealth of Kentucky did not oust Mitch McConnell, but I figure it's still a win.

I still don't have much to say about it. I'm probably still in shock. I've come to accept that it happened. That it's reality. I just can't quite put all of my thoughts in order to say much more about it.

- 09:54 am:: im
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2008.10.02 use it like a screwball would:

What a week, huh? The House fails to pass the bailout bill, the markets crash, and there was a period on tuesday where I wish I had $10,000 for about 15 minutes (Google's stock crashed right at close, then rebounded almost immediately in after-hours trading).

And most people are putting the blame for the bill failing the House squarely on John "Maverick" McCain. They had a provisional agreement until he touched down, then the shit hit the fan. Then again, they're also trying to blame Next Gingrich, so what does anybody know? I know that I'm really glad I never started a 401k, that's for sure.

Speaking of Google, I have started to covet the T-Mobile G1 (not in that ugly white, though). I thought, a few times, about switching to AT&T for the iPhone, but it looks like I've been rewarded for my patience. And my upgrade should make it more than affordable. Good thing, too…my RAZR is showing its age. Either way, it should make Matt's Treo look like it has some sort of childhood developmental disorder.

- 08:49 am:: im
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categories ::  Gadgets - Politics - Rants - Raves - Technology

2008.09.26 a long time ago there were pirates:

You know…I almost forgot the form I used to use on these things. Gone is my staunchly anti-upper-case stance. I think that went out the window, once I started writing record reviews (first for 75 or Less, now for local alt-weekly LEO). Who knows?

So what has happened in the past year-and-a-half or so, since I've last posted? Well…I got my shit together, I guess you would say. I met a wonderful girl. I pounded the pavement, and I came up with a pretty decent job. I'm actually pushing the boundaries of becoming financially solvent. That's a scary one.

As far as my last post is concerned, rest assured that I finished off everything on that list. It WAS a good day.

I guess my absence from these hallowed halls could boil down to the mundanity of life. I bore myself typing this shit out and trying to make it interesting. And I'm easily amused. I can only imagine that reading my posts ranks somewhere far below watching paint dry, on the entertainment scale.

I'm really bothered by all the little suggested Wikipedia links below this window, as I type this. Can we turn that shit off? What the fuck? I really don't think I'll find it necessary to post a link to the Wikipedia entry for "watching paint dry." Especially since it just links to the entry for paint, anyway.

Meh. I told Matt I was going to weigh in with my thoughts on ol' John "ex-maverick" McCain today, but I'm going to see how today's economic crisis talks pan out. I'm thinking he's got just about enough rope, at this point…

- 01:06 pm:: im
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2007.03.22 it was a good day:

(10th anniversary of heaven's gate)

- 03:04 pm:: im
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2006.12.27 wish i never got old:

Ahhh…the year-end wrap-up. Where to start? To be honest, most of the shit that happened to me I didn't post about. Why have I been maintaining radio silence? Who knows?

I finally joined the rest of the web-using world and started utilizing digg. I even dugg a post I posted here. Oh…I'm such a whore.

Today I'm bemoaning the fact that we're not a more regularly updated, noticed "blog." I mean…they could have sent us a couple of these, for fucksake.

I've spent an inordinate amount of time listening to Neil Young, lately. Mostly Crazy Horse material. It's speaking to the parts of the brain Brooksie and I have started activating for the new band. Speaking of the new band, it's tentatively titled "Birth Machine." We expect to rattle the foundation of a local venue this spring.

I guess the biggest news of the season is that i had to have Clyde put to sleep (the Thursday before Christmas; it made the holiday even more fun). Some of you long-time readers (if there's any left) will remember Clyde as my beloved cat of the past decade. She had a tumor on her chest that spread to her lungs. Toward the end she was having trouble breathing and would only eat fresh turkey and "catmilk" (speaking of which, I have two things of that stuff left, if anyone needs/wants it), which made us think it was all just some elaborate scam on her part. Regardless, we couldn't take it anymore and took her back to the vet. He gave us the dire news and we all endured a bit of pre-holiday heartbreak.
Needless to say, she's incredibly missed.

Clyde – 1996-2006


2006.12.14 swallow that until you're full:

So I caught a commercial for pillsbury grands earlier, and they showed them making little pizzas on the biscuits. I took the time to look around the internet for recipes, but none of them sounded like they were exactly what I thought I saw.

So I was forced to go to Kroger and get some supplies and see if I could make my own version. Here's what I came up with:

Old Man Hall's Pizza Grands

1 can Pillsbury Grands biscuits (Flaky, any flavor,)
1 jar Kroger Pizza Zip (I went with Traditional)
1 bag pizza cheese
x amount, whatever other toppings you want

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Split the individual biscuits in half (thinner, flakier crust) and place them on an ungreased cookie sheet (I'd like to try making these on one of those pizza stones) about an inch apart. Then spread one spoonful of sauce on top of each one (I went all the way to the edge). Cheese 'em up to your liking, add any other toppings, then bake for 12-14 minutes. You definitely want to check them after about 10-12 minutes, because the bottoms can burn fast, if you're not careful.

Needless to say, these motherfuckers are delicious. I may want to opt for the half-size package of biscuits, next time. Something tells me I'm never gonna eat 16 of these little bastards, delicious as they are.

- 09:41 pm:: im
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2006.08.28 fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way:

while i sit here at work, waiting on a simple answer to a possibly not-so-simple questions from someone higher up the ladder, i figure i'll write up a post for ol' bipolar.

this weekend was chock full of shows. too many shows, as fate would have it. i saw shellac and uzeda friday night. the sound was glorious, the venue was unbearably hot. it all ended up being worth it, though. shellac really kicked out the jams. i noticed that it doesn't really matter what albini does on the guitar, as the rhythm section just locks in and keeps burning along. i think i'd kill for a bass player of bob weston's caliber.
friday night ended up with all kinds of drunken chicanery that i can't be bothered to try and remember clearly.

saturday was another hot one in st. john's for shipping news and wolverine brass. for some reason, that night the sound was fucking terrible. you take the good with the bad, i guess. after that show, i headed over to za's to see arch and buffalo bill. buffalo bill covered motley crue's "wild side." i was most pleased. after that…more drunkeness.

sunday my allergies put the hurt on me. probably the multiple days of drowning myself in second hand smoke. who knows? either way, i ended up having to skip the young widows show. i took some allergy medicine and actually passed out during the car chase scene in ronin. i really didn't know that was humanly possible.

but sunday night, i got my sea legs back under me and was able to hit up the crack of doom reunion show, which was a total blast. i think it even caused more permanent hearing damage to my right ear. always a sign of a great show.

well…i got that simple answer i was waiting on.

- 03:00 pm:: im
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categories ::  Music - Nothing


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2012.01.01 The king is dead… long live the king.

It has been a year and half since this site has seen a new post, and twice that long since brian has made his presence felt. I have been hanging on to bipolar, thinking that one day I would resume posting again, but now I believe its time has passed.

As with most things in which I've been involved online, I'll endeavour to keep bipolar up in perpetuity, as an archive of times past.

If you want to catch up with me, head over to MatthewRasnake.com, which is a window into just about every aspect of my online life.

Brian, bipolar, and friendly readers, thanks for the memories!

chicago road trip, 2000

brian and matt


2009.06.13 A Backwards Glance at Nothing Good:

A Sideways Look at Time
A Sideways Look at Time by Jay Griffiths

My review
rating: 1 of 5 stars
It's not often that I will actually STOP reading a book, on purpose, once I've started. Sure, sometimes I'll put it down for a while and come back to it later, but like leaving in the middle of a movie, putting down a book—for good—without finishing it is something I just don't do.

Well, now I have.

The premise of this book intrigued me, with its vague intimations of a philosophic and Zen inspired discourse on time—how we perceive it, and how we might get back to a better relationship with it. Presumably, that discourse exists somewhere within the book, but I wasn't able to slog through the first few chapters to get to the meat of it.

The author is apparently of an American school of writing influenced heavily by the Beats. His prose attempts that Kerouackian stream-of-consciousness that Jack managed to pull off with energy and weight, but which this author only stumbles around with, coming off as amatuerish and disjointed. The book feels like a first draft, with the author repeating the same ideas several times in the course of several paragraphs, and revisiting them again later in the same chapter. By the third reading of the same statement, the reader is left saying "OK! I get it! Can we move on!"

Coupled with repeated assertions, the author employs broad, seemingly faulty interpretations of events or social phenomena to support his ideas. The first few times these weak arguments show up, the reader may be willing to overlook or forgive. But with each additional instance, the reader's patience is tried and the author begins to seem like a buffoon.

Ultimately, as I said, I only made it through the first few chapters before I had had enough of the faux-progressive prose and faulty logic. The book comes across as something that might have been an interesting idea for a 10-20 page essay, which has been expanded—to its great detriment—into a full-length book.

For the premise alone, I wish I could recommend the book… but I can't. Don't buy it, spend your precious time on something worthwhile.

View all my GoodReads reviews.

- 12:42 pm:: im
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categories ::  Rants - Upset/Dislike

2009.05.11 Star Trek the New Old Generation:

I loved the new Star Trek. Let's just get that out of the way at the beginning, then continue.

I am a huge Trek fan, from way back (not WAY way back, like the 60's way back, but way back, like from the 80's). I used to watch Original Series reruns on TV as a kid (in the 70's), I went to see the first Star Trek movie in the theater (not that I really remember it, but my parents have reminded me), then stopped watching Star Trek altogether when Wrath of Khan came out because the little brain-worm-things scared the shit out of me. I got back into it when Next Gen started, and just went nuts over it. You ask me how dilithium crystals work in a warp drive, and I can probably give you an explanation without doing any research.

There are tons of reasons why I enjoyed the original series (and Next Gen, and DS9, and occasionally Enterprise), and I'd love to tell you that it was because of the hopeful and optimistic vision of the future, and the way it portrayed humanity as having overcome greed and prejudice and having dedicated themselves as a race to bettering themselves and fighting the just and righteous fight for freedom and cooperation. But really, I loved it because of the characters. The sometimes quirky, sometimes absurd, sometimes hyper-real, sometimes bizarrely unrealistic characters and relationships that populated the show. I loved it because of the stories, and the campy humor, and the glorious over-acting. And, I loved it because it sometimes asked deep philosophical questions, and other times it paraded around in front of you wearing a Nazi uniform. I don't think I really grasped the historical, philosophical, and sociological ramifications of the Trek universe until later.

But, we're here to talk about the new Star Trek movie, aren't we?

Taken on its own merits, I think this is a phenomenal movie. There are issues of science and issues of execution of course, but overall it is exciting, and fun, and touching, and very Star Trek in lots of the right ways.

I think Chris Pine made a great Kirk. All the characters were written (and directed, I assume) somewhat… over-the-top, and very earnest. I felt that, though Pine also suffered this, he had a presence and subtlety that really befitted the character, and that I can see serving him very well in subsequent outings. There was at least one scene (and I've been trying to remember exactly where it occurred, but nevertheless) where I remember thinking to myself… "There's Kirk. That's Kirk. That was right on." And I think it was just a single word, or very short line, delivered with a certain mixture of joy and self-awareness that I think captured the spirit of "The Kirk," and channeled a bit of the old Shatner magic. Suffice it to say, I enjoyed this new Kirk.

There were certain Kirk moments from a story/plot perspective and from a characterization perspective that I didn't like, but those would be difficult to elucidate without spoilage.

Quinto's Spock also had a lot to offer. Maybe he played it a little too close to the chest at times, and maybe he played it a little too "smirky" at times, but neither of those are entirely un-Spock-like qualities. I thought the father/son and the mother/son things were well written and well played, but I did feel that this Spock, somewhat interestingly, was representative of the Spock we came to understand over the last ~40 years, rather than the Spock we met in the first Original Series episode. Our Spock started out (well, after Where No Man Has Gone Before, anyway) as an emotionless, purely logical, and imperceptibly conflicted character who had very much chosen his Vulcan side over his Human one. That was not the Spock we got in this movie. In and of itself, that's not a bad thing, and I did really enjoy this Spock, but I also felt that this new Spock didn't represent where our Spock would have been at this point in his life. It didn't kill my enjoyment of the character, but it stood out to me as a point of unnecessary disunity.

Ultimately though, I thought Quinto's Spock was fantastic. He enabled you to become invested in the character very quickly, and he brought you along for the… yes, emotional ride through the rest of the movie.

The supporting cast was also varying degrees of good.

Karl Urban's doctor was good, but I felt that he was trying too hard to imitate the wonderful DeForest Kelley. I also felt that the writers did him a disservice by restricting his dialogue almost exclusively (I felt) to classic "Bones" catch-phrases. Dixon over at Shelfbound considered that this may simply be the way McCoy talks, which is an interesting thought, but one I don't necessarily agree with. McCoy (the "real" McCoy, you might say buh-doom-tsh!) had plenty of aphorisms and metaphors to go around, but his dialogue was never so heavy with catch-phrases. Ultimately, it's forgivable, but it was irksome.

As an aside, I absolutely adored the way they introduced McCoy's nickname. It was a bit awkward, perhaps, but I loved it.

Simon Pegg as Scotty was a real treat. The character was fun, and lively, and seemed to come off as both brilliant and moronic at the same time. I like Pegg, he's fun. Unfortunately, I never believed he was Scotty. Doohan's Scotty was brilliant but subdued, earthy but not offensive, and excitable but responsible. Pegg's Scotty was mystified, frenetic, and frequently out-of-his-depth. Also unfortunately, Scotty didn't get enough good screen-time to further establish the character. Perhaps there's more to him than this situation allowed to come through.

Uhura was good. Her character had strength, conviction, self-confidence, and power. It is a testament to the actress (and the writers as well) that they were able to establish this, because she was woefully lacking many really meaty scenes.

Sulu was also good, and I felt he fared a bit better than Uhura, scene-wise. He didn't try (unlike Urban) to mimic his predecessor, but inhabited the character he was given. I don't think that I ever really felt he was Sulu, but rather that he was some entirely separate character.

The Christopher Pike character was really great. I felt he got shortchanged in the leadership department in a few spots, but that ties into some movie-wide problems and more potential spoilage. Still, I really liked this character.

Finally, we get to Checkov. What to say… I did really enjoy his introductory moments in the movie, but ultimately I found his character to be very annoying. I also felt that this character was the farthest from the original source material. I won't go so far as to say I didn't like the new Checkov—because he was entertaining, to a point—but he's just not Checkov. However, maybe he is just another casualty of the way the characters were generally over-played. If he'd been more subdued, perhaps he would have fit perfectly. Who knows?

Well, I said "finally, we get to Checkov," but really, the Enterprise is the last (or first?) major character in the Original Series, and we should talk about her as well.

I really liked the new Starfleet ship exteriors, and felt they were true enough to the original. The bridge, on the other hand, was a different story. The old bridge was spacious, and austere but powerful, and it felt comfortable and open. This new bridge was bright, flashy, and claustrophobic. So much of the old Star Trek took place on the bridge—perhaps this is an indicator that the bridge will no longer be the central story-telling vantage point. It will be interesting to see how it plays out in future movies.

At last, we get to the story itself. As I mentioned, it was enjoyable and exciting. Unfortunately, I felt it was also, like most of the rest of the movie, a bit over-blown. It was as if they tried to make every single moment just as tense and dramatic as possible—tried to give the story as much weight as it could possibly carry. The good thing is that it delivered. The question is, is that a good thing? Personally, I prefer my Star Trek a little more cerebral, and a little less "wagon train." Maybe that's the Next Gen era initiate in me, I dunno. I just think there's a line between sci-fi action/thriller and sci-fi action/drama that this movie played too often on the wrong side of.

At this point, I'm not sure how much more i can say without really getting into specifics of plot. I definitely have more thoughts on specific aspects of the movie, and also generally about what it means that we now have this New old generation of characters.

As I've mentioned in other venues, to other people, I loved it, but I also hated it.


2009.04.24 hold on there:

A couple buddies of mine recently launched their awesome new website—Shelfbound—where they're currently talking mostly about comics (but eventually about books, music, and movies as well, I believe). On Friday of their first week, they posted a discussion about their personal histories relating to comics, which I felt compelled to comment on.

That post, coupled with the call I received from the comic shop I (used to) frequent—asking if I was actually going to come pick up my (7 months worth of) holds, or if he should put them back and delete my holds list— got me started thinking about my own comics history, such as it is.

At some point in the not too distant past, I was an absolute nut with an active holds list of more than 20 titles, and an average of over 33 books purchased per month. I thought it might be entertaining to air out the dirty laundry of my former addiction, by way of some lists comparing then versus now.

Going through my collection (at least, those books that actually made it up to comicbookdb.com before I stopped entering them), I came up with the following list of titles that, at one time or another, was a regular purchase. Mind you, these were not ALL on my list at the same time, but a LOT of them were.

The "long-time" list consists of books that I purchased (usually consecutively) for more than a year.
The "short-time" list consists of long-running titles that I picked up and dropped, or bought off-and-on, or which were longer-running mini-series.

Long-Time Collections
Amazing Spider-Girl
Amazing Spider-Man
Batman
Batman Confidential
Batman: Gotham Knights
Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight
Batman (various mini-series)
Captain America
Captain Marvel
Catwoman
Daredevil
Detective Comics
Harley Quinn
Incredible Hulk
JLA
Marvel Knights Spider-Man
New X-Men (Morrison run + a few)
Peter Parker: Spider-Man
Powers
The Punisher
The Spectre
Spider-Girl
Spider-Man
Spider-Man (various mini-series)
Superman/Batman
Transmetropolitan
Ultimate Fantastic Four
Ultimate Spider-Man
Ultimate X-Men
The Ultimates (2002 & 2005)
Webspinners: Tales of Spider-Man
Wonder Woman
X-Statix (X-Force)
Short-Time collections
All-Star Batman & Robin
All-Star Superman
Army of Darkness
Dark Tower
Elektra
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man
Green Arrow (kevin smith run + a few)
Marvel Knights
The Pulse
Sensational Spider-Man
Spectacular Spider-Man
Spider-Woman
Superman (off and on)
U.S. War Machine

And finally, after a few years of increasingly sporadic trips to the comic shop, and the cancellation (Spider-Girl) or ruination (Spider-Man) of some favorite titles, I've whittled down my holds list to the following:

Current holds list
Batman
Daredevil
Detective Comics
Powers
Superman/Batman
Ultimate Spider-Man

So, from 30+ titles every month I'm down to 6 (well, five plus Powers, which is apparently not even close to monthly anymore). Depending on the quality of the last 7 months, I may yet drop Superman/Batman, and I was considering dropping Daredevil (though the guy in the store said it'd been pretty good of late, so i dunno… i may just selectively pick up arcs, if they look good).

Of course, I just saw on Diamond's site that Dynamite Ent. is coming out with a new Buck Rogers comic, which I have to at least get the first issue of; and the guy at the store told me there's a rumor my girl (Spider-Girl, that is) may be re-launched. So, I may be back up to 8 titles in the near future… but for now, at least, it's a little more reasonable.

- 11:54 pm:: im
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categories ::  Comics - Cool Links - Friends - Happy/Love - Pop Culture

2009.04.10 identity crisis*:

* "Crisis" is definitely overstating it a bit, but nevertheless…

Earlier tonight, I told an old friend that "I couldn't be happier with where my life has led," and, of course, that is true. What i've been struggling with the last few years has been the "where."

In high school, i wanted nothing more than to start my own business, be my own boss, stay in the hick town where I grew up and be a "computer consultant" (whatever the hell that means.) I knew that I would a) be awesome at it, and b) be totally happy with my life. Instead—when i realized my father's brain would melt and my mother's heart would flop right out of her chest if I didn't—i went to college.

In college, i met some awesome creative people, broke out of my mold, and made sweeping plans for taking over the world with the most profound art, music, and literature the world had ever seen, together with this band of misfit geniuses in whom I'd found a family.

Then the 'net happened and I found another niche. I was going to carry this empire of sight, sound, and word into the year 2000, and become the best damned webmaster this side of the Mississippi. I was going to shift paradigms, set trends, and lead the denizens of the 'net to the next level. Not that I could see what that next level was yet, but that was my plan.

Luckily, I landed a job that let me do the only thing that I'd really want to sit still long enough to get paid for. Unfortunately, i discovered that it wasn't always possible to innovate on a deadline, for the kind of clients a high priced web firm dealt with. That, and I didn't have the base skills to really push the envelope. I was, after all, entirely self-taught.

As technology progressed, I collected plans and hoarded them for "when I had time." My work, psycho ex-girlfriends, the internet, and my plans themselves sapped my energy to the point where little got done. Occasionally, I'd have a burst of activity, and accomplish something neat, or push a pet project a little farther up the hill. Then I'd go back to the news feeds, or the game of Dune, or whatever.

I was going to be a first-rate poet, the next Kerouac, a top notch photographer, a musician, a publisher, a record producer, a freelance web guru, a gallery owner, a coffee shop owner… the list goes on.

It's taken me a few years, but slowly, I've realized that I can't do it all. And those grandiose plans I made years ago—the empire I built on dreams—depended on that family of friends as a static, unchanging unit with infinite reserves of energy and patience. To meet my dreams, my friends would have had to stay just as they were.

What I've come to realize is not that I can't count on my friends (because I know they'll support me in whatever I choose to do), but just that my friends have their own lives, and plans, and dreams. I can't package them up into mine, any more than they can package me up into theirs.

So I have been converging on this point, where I have to figure out two things: what I want to do, and what I can do. With all these grandiose plans I've made, which are the feasible, workable notions, and which are the pipe dreams?

These were the thoughts that, late last year, and early this year, brought me to re-dedicate myself to my writing. I still have lots of plans, little things I'd like to do, but, when push comes to shove, my writing comes first. Someday, perhaps I'll be able to expand my arena again, but right now, I have to seize my opportunities and focus on a smaller set of goals.

To a certain extent, the old Coffeemonk Design Flaws empire is seeing a sunset. The name "Coffeemonk Design Flaws" was always Bob's thing anyway, and without his participation, it has long felt hollow.

I'm still working out the details in my head, but very likely, coffeemonk.com will become my writing oriented blog, and Savant-Garde Press will finally emerge from it's long stasis to stand on it's own. I'm also planning to launch a personal blog at matt.rasnake.info (eventually), and will continue to maintain bipolar as well.

This, then, is not as much an identity crisis, as it is an identity acknowledgement. This is the happiness to which my life has led me…

- 03:08 am:: im
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categories ::  Bipolar: News - Ex-Girlfriends - Family - Friends - Nostalgia - Personal Projects - Work - Writing - x:13 Family

2009.04.09 a house is not a home – a work of flash fiction

another flash fiction story, this time a straight fiction piece. hope you enjoy.

He and Sam had lived in this house for almost 30 years—bought it when their youngest was six, and their oldest was graduating high school. They'd had lots of great times in this house, him and Sam, their three kids, their various pets and pet projects. No doubt about it, this house was well loved.

Maybe I'm not the best handyman around, Troy thought, I never quite got those shingles repaired properly, and the downspouts were always loose. But I've taken care of her, I suppose.

"Help." he said, meekly.

Yeah, it was a good house. And it's a great little neighborhood, for sure, despite those noisy planes. It just meant that they were able to get a bigger house, to fit the family a little better, and not get in over their heads with the mortgage. There was the great big backyard that the kids loved to play in. He'd built them a sandbox, a swing set, a tree house—and not from a kit either. He'd drawn up the plans, bought the lumber, cut it, drilled it, assembled it, dug it in, and made sure it was sturdy. All those things were still back there, still being used by the grandkids. Still standing, still safe.

At least… I think… are they still back there? he wondered. What was I…

"Can anybody hear…" his throat felt dry. He was a little thirsty.

Some of his buddies back at the office had tried to talk him out of it, of course. Tried to tell him he wouldn't like living that close to the airport, even if it was just a little one with only a single runway. He had assured them that it would be alright, he had it on good authority (the previous owners, and his real-estate agent) that after a while, it would hardly be noticeable. The noise would just blend into the background. Maybe that was never quite true, but it had certainly been livable. There were pretty much no flights after 9pm, and none before 6am, and that suited him pretty well. The kids hardly ever complained, and Sam never said a peep… at least, not to him. She was quite a woman, Sam. When they first moved in, the kids would play in the backyard, and she'd sit on the deck watching. She looked like a queen. A radiant vision with shoulder-length hair as black as night. It was his favorite memory of her.

Where is Sam? She should be home soon, shouldn't she? he panicked for a moment. I hope she doesn't…

"help." his voice was thin, faint.

He had actually gotten to the point where he could identify the planes flying overhead by the sound. Eventually, he'd even taken some flying lessons and gotten to know some of the private pilots there. In fact, he was pretty sure that was Chuck Kleiser he'd heard approaching the house a few minutes ago. If he was out in the backyard, he could hear the prop and engine noise, figure out exactly which plane it was, then look overhead as it passed just to confirm it. There goes that Cessna, that Piper, that Beech, that other Cessna. It was mostly the same planes, though occasionally a new one would come in, an out-of-towner here on business, or some rich youngster with his new Socata 850 or Piper Meridian. Tony didn't much care either way, but he got a kick out of the old-timers griping about the new guys with barely concealed contempt and carefully subdued envy.

Did I hear Chuck's plane? Tony struggled to remember. His engine didn't sound well.

"sam."

Of course, now some of his friends were pilots, and the planes flying overhead every day meant that those TV and newspaper reports about planes crashing, running out of fuel, not making it off the runway, bursting into flames… all those things had started to hit home—become personal. He saw a report like that and immediately wondered where Frank was tonight, or Jody. He'd look out the front window just to make sure there wasn't some giant pillar of smoke rising over the neighborhood from the direction of the runway. He'd see on TV some demolished house with a demolished plane sitting in the living room, and he'd wonder about the occupants. What were they thinking when that American Champion landed on their couch?

Need to close a window, it's too cool in here. Tony enjoyed the light shining into the house, but felt… Is that… blood?

"samantha." Tony whispered his wife's name.

He'd been doing something… what was it. He'd gotten up to… he'd gotten up to fix himself a sandwich.

But I'm not hungry. he thought.

He'd gotten up from the couch to fix himself a sandwich. That was when he'd heard Chuck's plane coming up over the neighborhood. Chuck's plane coming up, but not sounding quite right. Sounding unsteady. Then, yes, then as he was listening, hearing Chuck's plane coming up, then hearing nothing. Hearing nothing, and then… then everything. So much noise. Noise and light and dust and dark. He'd opened his eyes, and the dust had settled. That seemed strange, that the dust should settle that fast. Then there was all this blood, that certainly didn't seem right. And there, there was the nose of Chuck's plane, in his living room, crushing his couch like it was waiting for football season. He thought he saw Chuck, in his plane, but that wasn't Chuck, not really.

He looked out, where his front window had been, and he saw… he saw the huge pillar of smoke rising over the neighborhood, rising up out of his living room. He couldn't lift his head anymore, but he could see blood on his hands. He thought about his kids and how much fun they'd had in this house. He thought about Samantha on the deck, her long hair, black as night, blowing ever so slightly in the breeze. She should be home soon, but he hoped she wouldn't… wouldn't find him like this.

- 01:06 am:: im
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categories ::  Personal Projects - Writing

2009.01.27 delivering resistance – a work of flash fiction:

Considering my recently renewed drive to become a productive writer, I decided, tonight, to write this piece of flash fiction—a super-short sub-1000 word complete story. It may not be terribly original, but I'm pleased with how it turned out. Also, i'm pleased I was able to knock out almost 1000 words in one two-hour stretch. Much better than the almost 1000 words I managed over the whole of the past weekend. Lastly, as you may guess from the above, this is probably roughly first-draft quality. I had the idea last night, wrote it between 10-ish pm and 12-ish am tonight, then did a 5 minute read-through and polish pass, and posted it here. I hope you enjoy it.

delivering resistance

My Pop–that's what I call my grandpa–was a mailman. Oh, he'd retired years before I was even born, but from the time I was able to sit up on my own, I'd sit at his feet and listen to him tell stories. It didn't matter what he was saying, of course, I just loved to hear him talk. As I got older, I kept asking him to tell me the same stories. I kept sitting, and he kept talking. It was always summer when we'd visit Pop, and i remember the warm tingly sun on my back as I'd sit there and listen, or lay there, playing with my toys.

About 10 years ago is when it started. I was 14, sitting at Pop's knee, listening to his stories, and Mom came in crying. She could hardly get words out.

"It's just awful!" She'd said, a look on her face like nothing I'd ever seen, like she was stuck, like she was trying to pop her ears at the top of a mountain. That was the day our government had declared martial law in the name of a foreign power. Just like that. No warning. Entire metropolitan police forces either complied and joined up, or were massacred on the spot. 15,000 officers died within 30 minutes on the eastern seaboard alone. Of course there was chaos, but the military and ex-cops detained or executed looters, protesters, and demonstrators by the hundreds, until no one who resisted was left. Or at least, no one who resisted openly.

I think that day was the last time I felt the sun.

My dad was a scientist, apparently a somewhat important one, not that I ever paid much attention. He was hardly around, and when he was, he always had his books or his papers, and a concerned look on his face. But on that day, he yanked me up from Pop's floor, and shuffled me, Mom, Pop, and my sis into our little 4-door, and drove way out in the middle of nowhere to some kind of run-down hunting cabin. There were some men inside, and they took us to a tiny little cave, which led to a series of caves, which lead to a great big cave filled to the stalactites with whirring machines blinking and steaming in the tepid air.

That night was the first night of the resistance, though plans had been in place for decades (scientists love to anticipate problems), and for the next five or six years, we lived right there in that cave. I'm not sure where the food came from, or how any of the rest of that place worked, all I know is that I hated it. Maybe that's a little too strong. I certainly liked the IDEA of living in a cave, and I loved being able to go exploring–especially once i got to go alone–but the only books we had were science books, and the only computers we had were dedicated to their specific tasks. The moms tried to setup a classroom, but we could pretty much only study math, science, and stuff they remembered or made up. There were no video games, very little music except what we could make, and not really even any girls. Well, there were three who were infants when they got there, and two who were a bit older than me, but one died of pneumonia our second year, and the other was just too annoying to be near for long. So there we were with nothing to do but schoolwork and make-believe. But Pop was there, so when he wasn't trying to make himself useful as a guinea pig or a button pusher for the scientists, he'd sit and tell me all those old stories over and over again. Sometimes, he'd make up new ones, just to keep it interesting, but I could always tell.

One day, we got word from the resistance, nothing special really, but it was one of those days I was making an effort to show interest in my dad's work, so I asked how exactly we were getting messages back and forth between groups of people who were trying as hard as we were to stay hidden.

That was when he told me about the mailmen.

I was astonished. Pop's mailmen had been gone since before i was born, a casualty of the new global economy, the internet, and the fact that, in the end, the only things being mailed were things that nobody wanted. There were still a couple major consumer-oriented package shippers, but the day of the mailman was long over. Nobody had paid to deliver something as simple as a paper-stuffed envelope in 20 years! But dad assured me that encrypted messages were being carried back and forth from enclave to enclave every night. There was a clandestine resistance postal service.

Pop's been gone now for 4 years, and the cave was apparently raided a couple years ago leaving no survivors. But since that night when I learned of the mailmen, i have been training and moving, carrying the messages of hope and news of the resistance. I know that my Pop was proud of me, 'cause he told me as much in the last letter he would ever write. And when I set out each night, to my next destination, his stories echo in my head, and I know that I will have the strength to go on, no matter the circumstance or weather–as Pop said "in snow, in rain, in heat, or gloom of night"–but never in sunlight. No, I suppose I won't ever feel that warmth again.

- 01:55 am:: im
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categories ::  Personal Projects - Pleased/Like - Pop Culture - Writing

2009.01.23 plan pour paris:

A friend just emailed me, asking for advice on places to visit in Paris. Since I love Paris so much, i might have gone overboard. I've probably mentioned most of these things in my journals from those trips, but nevertheless, I thought I might post it here, y'know since it's already written and everything…

As for Paris, the key is walking. If she's into the touristy stuff, the Arc de Triomphe is excellent to see, walking down the Champs Elysees is a must, and viewing the Eiffel Tower from La Trocadero is highly recommended. If she doesn't mind crowds and long waits in line, going up IN the Eiffel Tower is enjoyable, but I'm still not sure I'd call it worth it on a really busy day.

The Louvre is fantastic and huge if she's an art buff, but unless she's just a huge Picasso fan, I'd skip the Picasso museum (which is separate and in a different part of town). Connected to the Louvre is my favorite of the Paris gardens, the Jardin de Touillerie, which, if you stand at the far end of the courtyard of the Louvre, looking down the path out into the garden, and through the small arc in the courtyard, you can see *all the way* out the garden to the Obelisque, and up the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe. That is one of my favorite views of Paris. My favorite view is at the other end of the garden, in the grassy space up above the gates, looking out into the courtyard with the Obelisque and the fountain(s?). From here, you get a great view of the Eiffel Tower to the left across the Seine, and of the Obelisque and Arc de Triomphe up the Champs Elysees to the right. My favorite spot in all of Paris is that spot, if you go up the ramp (the left ramp if you're walking towards the gates at the end of the garden) you get that great view I mentioned.

My second favorite view of Paris is from Sacre Coure in Montmartre. It feels like you can see the whole city from there. (Sort of like Eiffel, but without the long wait or crushing crowds.) Also in Montmartre, a few blocks from Sacre Coure, is a square where hundreds of artists have booths setup and are working and selling things. around the square are several restaurants, so that's a great place to go after visiting Sacre Coure.

As I mentioned, just walking around is great, especially if you have a companion or two, head down some side-streets and see what you find. My last and most important bit of advice is this: learn enough french to ask simple questions. The most important thing is to be polite and respectful. You walk into a shop, you say "bonjour!" (or something more appropriate, depending on the time of day), when you leave the shop, you say "merci!" If you have to speak to a shopkeeper and don't have enough french for it, the most important phrase in your arsenal is "I cannot speak French, do you speak English?" (in French obviously). *Usually,* making that much effort is enough that they'll be polite to you as well. If they don't, they'll tell you, and you can say "merci" and either gesture enough to get your point across, or politely leave the shop.

Guide to paris streets and public transport.Finally, and especially if doing a lot of walking, the picture I attached is of the book my sister relied on during her five+ years there. Any Plan de Paris should work, I imagine, and there seem to be a few pocket-sized versions around, but this one worked very well for me.

That's not an exhaustive list, for sure, but some of the things I particularly enjoyed. Also, i recommend sitting at the outside tables at a crowded cafe, sipping an espresso, and just people-watching. But that may be just me. ;)

- 12:20 pm:: im
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2009.01.15 3 rules of bourbon:

Codified by my buddy ben:

three rules of bourbon:

  1. bourbon is only served in a glass. a glass glass.
  2. only two things are mixed with bourbon, and both of them are water
  3. bourbon only goes in your mouth.

Inspired by the horrifying "How to Irrigate Your Nasal Passages."

- 03:05 pm:: im
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categories ::  Drinking - Friends - Upset/Dislike

2009.01.09 concentrate:

Aside from my preternatural skills of procrastination, one of my biggest obstacles to writing is focus. Sometimes, you run across a piece of advice that speaks directly to you, and this is one of those times.

Don't research
Researching isn't writing and vice-versa. When you come to a factual matter that you could google in a matter of seconds, don't. Don't give in and look up the length of the Brooklyn Bridge, the population of Rhode Island, or the distance to the Sun. That way lies distraction — an endless click-trance that will turn your 20 minutes of composing into a half-day's idyll through the web. Instead, do what journalists do: type "TK" where your fact should go, as in "The Brooklyn bridge, all TK feet of it, sailed into the air like a kite." "TK" appears in very few English words (the one I get tripped up on is "Atkins") so a quick search through your document for "TK" will tell you whether you have any fact-checking to do afterwards. And your editor and copyeditor will recognize it if you miss it and bring it to your attention.

from a post by Cory Doctorow

I've not done much actual writing (mostly outlining and, more often, NOT outlining—see procrastination, above) but when I was attempting to write that sci-fi novel I started in 2005, I was horribly horribly derailed by researching the position of mars in the night sky, from the mountains of northern california. In my defense, it gave me dialogue i might not have otherwise had, but still… distracted! The above is great advice for countering this, which I hope I can actually put into practice.

- 04:30 pm:: im
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categories ::  Cool Links - NaNoWriMo - Personal Projects - Pleased/Like - Writing


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