Thursday, January 31, 2008

Life. Death. Writing Blocks. Nothing At All.

I've been going through a writing dry period.

I think this is alright... I mean, I did just finish a novel, and I wrote I don't know how many hundreds of pages in articles on Alterati this past year.

But it still feels strange to me, occasionally opening up a window to write, and either having nothing much to say, or more commonly, simply not having the requisite mental... compression... to get it out. When I'm really in full-tilt writing mode, it's like there's a pressure in my head, and the only thing that will alleviate it is writing, as quickly as my fingers will hammer it out. The words appear directly on the screen from my mind's eye, there isn't even any awareness of the intermediary of finger, bone, nor necessities like food, water, breathing. (Thank God for that brainstem, no?)

None of that these days. Right now, tweaking generally atonal soundtrack pieces for the audiobook (the last two pieces were based primarily around diminished scales and working on chromatic basslines that move back to the tonic in the most unnecessary ways possible), recording my requisite voiceovers, doing my day in day out work and meetings, and waiting to build a truly creative space again.

In other news, for those that didn't catch it before, I found out that my errant father died last Friday of leukemia. His funeral was tonight. Instead, I spent some time with some old friends - wishing more of the friends I made during those times were present, but I can at least imagine or pretend that they would have been if they could have been, or if I would have bothered to arrange some big to-do. But that's not really what I wanted. Just a low key, brief retrospective. My Dad simply wasn't there. His presence was defined by his absence. I'm more concerned about those who were. And those who will be.

If you consider yourself a friend, it would be nice to hear from you- just a hello, and maybe the opportunity to catch up. But I don't need anything from any of you. I'm doing fine.

Fallen Nation: Babylon Burning Audiobook Episode 6


Jesus' dreams from within the hospital.

No longer right here, right now. Here operated under different rules. Here was a deserted asylum, being slowly eaten by the encroaching forest, vines replacing windows, morning glory augmenting the brick facades of what appeared to be a college campus. Here was timeless.

Interrupting his musings, the aging Chevy passed, windows rolled down and some Styx love ballad blasting from the tinny speakers. The fortyish man behind the wheel didn’t slow, didn’t even look around.

Jesus waited a polite moment, then crossed the cracked pavement. Dead streetlamps flanked the overgrown paths, some tilting crazily like drunken soldiers. Rusted iron railings drove straight lines through shapeless shrubbery, and as Jesus crept along them, he could hear, in a near-perfect circle around him, the rodents, the insects, the creeping things fleeing at his bow and in his wake. The wave-front of the presenthad passed, failing to take this quiet place along with it. His carefully
reddened flashlight didn’t cast enough light for anyone but a nocturnal pothead or a cat burglar.

Jesus smiled to himself at the thought— Been both of those, I suppose.

Order Fallen Nation: Babylon Burning through now.

Fallen Nation: Babylon Burning audiobook feed.

The original chapter of Join My Cult! excerpted in this episode written by James Curcio, co-written by Ari & Jason Stackhouse.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sign up to the Fallen Nation feed.

As many of you know I've been producing an audiobook of my novel Fallen Nation: Babylon Burning. I'm producing it with a pretty long list of voice and music talent, a list that will hopefully continue to grow as the project moves forward. (If you'd like to participate, contact me through my email.)

We're shooting for somewhere between audiobook and audio theater, and are incorporating a great deal of original music. By the end this thing is going to probably be about 8 hours long, which means 8 hours of original music. It's quite possible that we're all insane to undertake something like this, but I'm just sick to death of audiobooks and podcasts that are all talk.

You can catch these a la carte on, but I recently put together a feed through feedburner so you can subscribe and have them delivered to your iPod. (You can also listen to all the past episodes right there, as well.)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Gspot 23 - We All Burn Together

Yet again, the Gspot crew drop a steaming hot pile of podcast in your lap.

James Curcio "breaks it down" and plays a track from Immortal Technique's Revolutionary Vol 2.

Wes Unruh interviews the apocalyptic duo of Dead Unicorn, talking about their album Yellowstone Super Volcano, their color coded system, their album series, and plot for world domination... hurry while supplies last.

Listen to previous episodes of the G-Spot.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Daily lit LOLZ

As most of you may imagine, writing a good book is hard. Editing it is hard, and no matter how many editors you go through, you will invariably find some sort of embarrassing typo the moment you've finalized things with the printers. That's expected, you learn to live with it or you wind up developing a drinking habit. (Or, sometimes, you learn to live with and you wind up developing a drinking habit.)

But once you've done all that, you have to go and try to convince the world you've written a book, that people should put a couple hours of their time into. That's the stage I'm at right now with Fallen Nation, and I've been somewhat amused today at some of the responses I've received from the first wave of submissions to literary magazines.

Here's one I found particularly ironic. Let's see if you share the sentiment:

"Thank you for your email. If you have asked a question, I will send you a personal response next time I check the Nocturnal Lyric emailbox. If you have sent a submission, please understand that we do not read or accept emailed submissions. If you are interested in the status of your mailed submission, or would like submission guidelines, you can read them on our website at:"

(Sorry. If you run your magazine through an angelfire site, you seriously don't have the right to get high and mighty about submission guidelines in your automatic response letter. But it does help me out - I had my assistant compile the list of places to submit to, mostly through the Writers Market, and she obviously didn't recognize that "angelfire" = "do not want.")

The city of brotherly love

Just a brief thought from the day, before I attempt to sleep. (Again.)

I was trying to succinctly describe my feelings on the city of Philadelphia (where I presently live), and I think I hit upon it: this city is very much like a really funky, incomprehensible beer with like three waves of often contradictory 'notes.' If you've ever really explored beer, above and beyond the domestic watered down yak piss that most places try to foist on you, you know what I'm talking about here.

After each sip, you simply can't tell if you like what you experienced or not. So you take another, and another. Pretty soon, you've downed three of them, you are shitfaced drunk, and still can't tell if you kind of like or absolutely hate the thick frothy shit you've been downing all night.

That is Philadelphia.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Drek Wars

I wanted to briefly rant about a serious crisis in the media world: an unconsidered result of the proliferation of DIY drek. Podcasts! Videocasts! Video comments! Independent, low budget digital movies! Band self-produced albums! All of these are potentially good things: I heralded them as much as anyone else, and am in fact a product of the media production boom that began in the late 90s with the availability of consumer applications such as Photoshop and Premiere, and hardware such as DV cameras, dedicated digital recording hard drives, and the like. Suddenly you didn’t need a $100,000 budget to record an album. However, I didn’t initially see the danger in all of these things: the tools do not, in themselves, provide the capability.

The well-intentioned beginners can be forgiven, they should in fact probably be condoned for their bravery. Experimenting in a new medium is scary. You face the expectation of greatness, when really you should just be tinkering and tossing your results in the closet for the first five to ten years. The Internet has become that closet however, and we are beset on all sides by so much crap that it can be hard to find the good stuff. (Also, we all have to start out here. Those who stick it out for long enough, with enough determination, ultimately get somewhere.)

But even that isn’t my actual gripe, the railroad spike in my side, the ipecac in my stomach. I don’t need to wade through mountains of user created crap on YouTube because I don’t go wading in the morass to begin with. This explosion pushed everything a step further: clients and employers think that - rather than hire a professional designer, or sound producer - just have one of your employees do it. It’s easy, right? Just a couple clicks in Photoshop. Podcast? Just plug in a mic and hit record. Why take on all that excess cost? The fact is: there are probably only six or seven ingredients in that dinner you had at that expensive 3 star restaurant. Put those ingredients in the wrong hands, and you get inedible mush. Have the crack addicted hobo on the corner wire your house, and expect a house fire.

Yet everywhere I turn I see clients and employers cutting corners by either overloading a single professional with the tasks of three people- it doesn’t matter if the person has the skills to do all those tasks, they simply don’t have the focus to pull them all off well- or worse, pawning off the work of media professionals on already overburdened employees who don’t have the background. I nearly got myself out of the freelance design industry a couple years ago for this reason, along with the fact that design clients have notoriously bad taste. (My all time favorite remains the mattress company that wanted me to develop a series of animations of flames dancing on top of images of their mattresses because their prices were “ON FIRE.” I tried to explain to them that juxtaposing the images of fire and mattresses was an abysmal idea, not to mention the fact that animated fire GIFs almost destroyed teh Internets in the 90s. I firmly believe that some sliver of the $50/hour rate that goes along with design services is a buffer against the potential of gastrointestinal damage that results from simply gritting your teeth, saying “at least he’s paying me,” and turning your carefully considered color scheme into taupe, orange, and pink.)

Having mentioned this, I’m not entirely certain there is a simple solution. We’re on a river that only flows one way, (DMT visions notwithstanding), and in many cases the immediate bottom line matters a lot more to a business than the long term gains, especially if they are qualitative rather than quantitative. Quality? This is America. Who cares about quality, I want it cheap and I want it now!

This is likely one of those instances where a cliche serves best: you get what you pay for.



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