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Originally published at my site. Please leave any comments there.

One of my heroes inspires me by taking inspiration from another one of my heroes:

“I think Stephen King said some great things in On Writing — the main bit that I took away from that is the idea that you really have to sit down and do it. Treat it like work, spend a few hours TRYING to write every day. Sometimes it will be good and sometimes it will be bad, but there will be a lot of it. And really, it’s not the creating that’s the hard part, it’s the decision to sit down at your desk and start working.” — Jonathan Coulton, interviewed on, April 17, 2007

And another one of my heroes uses a quote from yet another to slam home a similar point:

“Yes, this is a form e-mail. Because I get asked this question a lot:

‘How do I become a comedian?’

The answer is very simple. It’s so simple, that no one can ever accept that it’s the ONLY WAY. But rest assured, the lucky few who understand how simple it is, and go and do this simple thing, ALWAYS succeed:

Go onstage a lot. Go onstage as much as you can.

Don’t read books on comedy. Don’t take comedy classes. Don’t ask anyone how you should write material, or what they think of your material. Develop on your own.

Go onstage. A lot. Every night. If there isn’t an open mike in your town, start one.

And then go onstage. A lot.

That’s it.” — Patton Oswalt, quoted by Warren Ellis, May 9, 2007

I’ve been bad lately. Pathetic, more like. I admit it. I haven’t had the mental energy to sit down and start working — or more likely I haven’t made the mental energy to do so. Not only have I not written anything here on the blog, I haven’t written anything at all. It’s an ugly, demoralizing circle I’ve found myself in: I’ve been in something of a funk and not writing, and not writing has driven me into even more of a funk.

Well, now it’s time bust that loop and kick off Operation: Defunkify.

It’s time to rediscover exactly what it is I’m wanting to do and refocus my energies in that direction. I know that part of what brings on my funk is losing my way, and even when I was writing before the funk came on, I could feel that way-losing happening. It’s time to do get out the map and do some course correction.

I can’t promise the results will show here on a daily basis, but they might. But if any of you have any additional inspirational bits of wisdom, I’d be all about hearing them. Bring ‘em on.

And wish me luck.

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Originally published at my site. Please leave any comments there.

Summer movie season officially kicks off with next week’s release of Spider-Man 3, so now seems like a good time to spell out which films have me most excited this year. Please keep in mind when you read this: my tastes tend to run to the pedestrian during the summer. I’m a sucker for big, special-effects-laden popcorn flicks. While I appreciate small, talky character pieces as much as the next amatuer cinemaphile, summer’s the time for the big and shiny and explody. That’s become even more true since I’ve become a parent — I’m only going to get to see a couple of these movies in the theater, so I tend to choose movies that will most benefit from being seen on the big screen.

1. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (July 13)

Order of the Phoenix was my least favorite of the Harry Potter books to date, but damned if the newest trailer doesn’t vault it to the top of my must-see list. I’m happy to note that it sure appears the filmmakers did exactly what I was hoping for: they jettisoned a good chunk of the first 300 pages of the book. (I was about ready to punch Harry in the solar plexus for turning into such a whiny little bastard for much of that book.) The last half of Phoenix, though, reads like it’d be a hellacious movie, and the trailers certainly look like that’s where the focus of the action will be.

2. Ratatouille (June 29)

C’mon. It’s Pixar and it’s directed by Brad (The Incredibles, The Iron Giant) Bird. Plus Patton Oswalt voicing the main character? Oh, yeah, I’m there. I don’t honestly even care what it’s about — it’s Pixar, it’s Brad Bird. That’s all I need to know.

3. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (May 19)

I’ll admit that I showed up late to the Pirates party. The first time I saw Curse of the Black Pearl I didn’t think all that much of it (except for Johnny Depp’s fantastic Captain Jack Sparrow). I thought it was, at best, okay. I must have just been in the wrong mood for it during that first viewing, because the second time I saw it I enjoyed the hell out of it. And then I enjoyed the hell out of Dead Man’s Chest. And the trailers for At World’s End make me think I’ll enjoy the hell out of it, too. Plus: Chow Yun-Fat!

4. Spider-Man 3 (May 4)

I have to be honest here: I’m not as excited about this movie as I feel like I should be. I’m a huge superhero geek, I loved the first two Spider-Man flicks, the trailers for this one look good… so why aren’t I looking forward to it that much? I mean, c’mon, I don’t find Kirsten Dunst that loathsome, not enough so that it should overshadow the natural enthusiasm I should exhibit toward any Spider-Man movie, and especially when her complete yuckiness is balanced out by the addition of Bryce Dallas Howard to the cast. And SM3 has the black suit, and Venom, and the Sandman… so why aren’t I hyped for it? Am I the only one that’s feeling this way?

5. Knocked Up (June 1)

Judd Apatow’s got my support for most anything he does after the brilliance of Freaks and Geeks. The 40-Year-Old Virgin managed to pull off the unlikely feat of being both crudely hilarious and touching at the same time — Apatow made Steve Carell’s Andy a real person, presenting him as being in a funny situation without making fun of him. I’m betting he’ll be able to do the same thing with this story about a schlub who knocks up a woman way out of his league thanks to a drunken one night stand (doesn’t sound much like the premise for a comedy, does it?). I like the leads, too: I’ve liked Seth Rogen (a Freaks alum; Knocked Up looks to be full of ‘em) in everything I’ve seen him in, and Katherine Heigl’s Izzy is one of the few characters on Grey’s Anatomy I don’t want to stab in the throat. (Well, OK, sometimes I want to stab her, too.)


Sep. 15th, 2006 12:08 pm
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Originally published at Do Or Do Not.. You can comment here or there.

Ever since the move, I’ve been feeling more than a bit on the, shall we say, constipated side creatively. What with the new job and all, I haven’t felt good about writing anything during the day while at work (both because I’ve been trying to make a positive impression and because I’ve been really friggin’ busy since the day I started here, and that’s not likely to ease up any time soon). At night, I’ve been doing some freelance work for a friend and when I haven’t been, I just haven’t been able to unclog my backed-up wordflow.

But I don’t like the fact that I haven’t written anything lately. I don’t like the fact that my online empire has grown so stale during the last six weeks or so. As a friend pointed out a little while ago when Terry mentioned the aforementioned creative constipation: “The video of K is cute and all, but…he should think about fiber.”

So this is me thinking about fiber.

It’s not that I haven’t had stuff to day, but rather haven’t been able to organize anything in my head to make a coherent post out of it. Thusly, coherent posts be damned, and let’s move on to a bullet list, shall we? Maybe doing so will be like Metamucil for my brain.

  • North Carolina is just beautiful. Most of the days for the month we’ve been here have featured bright blue, mostly cloudless skies, nice breezes, reasonable temperatures, and lots and lots and lots and lots of green. (We do live in Greensboro, after all.) But man, when it rains here? It friggin’ rains. Forget those pansy little “rain showers” we got up in New England, the kind where you can’t even hear the rain on the roof, the kind where you’re actually surprised to discover it’s raining when you step outside. Here, we get real rain, big ol’ honkin’ drops that hit your skin like heavy bullets of water — this ain’t rain that’s gonna sneak up on you. It’s not quite torrential Florida rain, at least not that I’ve experienced yet, but the first time it rained on us here was yet another reminder that we’re back in the South (along with Waffle House and the ability to buy beer and wine in grocery stores).
  • Monday night, for those of you haven’t heard, is Sorkinalia (a.k.a. the debut of Aaron Sorkin’s Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip). I doubt it’s much of a secret that I’ve been looking forward to this holiday for more than a year. But unlike the ridiculous amounts of anticipation I built up for Superman Returns, my expecations for Studio 60 are a tad more reasonable. It doesn’t have to be the best TV show I’ve ever seen; it only has to be better than most TV shows. Given that Sorkin’s behind it, I think that’s a reasonably safe expecation for me to harbor. I encourage every single one of you out there to watch it Monday night at 9 EST on NBC; I hope to be posting my thoughts about it on Tuesday.
  • I think I want my DVR back (we didn’t get one when we set up our cable in the new house). Too many new shows I want to try out and no way in hell I’ll be able to sit down and watch them all at broadcast time. Having little kids makes being a TV fan difficult, I swear.
  • Speaking of little kids, hearty congratulations are in order for my buddy Jeff Newberry, who recently discovered he’s going to be a first-time dad. Good on ya, Jeff! I fully expect to hear about you reading poetry to Heather’s belly as she hits the latter stages of her pregnancy.
  • Also speaking of little kids, Terry’s got her report on Kelsey’s initial foray into organized sports up over at Mother Mirth. Terry was all witty and wistful and pensive and stuff so I didn’t have to be.


Jul. 31st, 2006 03:54 pm
allizon: (Default)

Originally published at Do Or Do Not.. You can comment here or there.

This weekend was Get The House Ready For Sale Weekend at Chez Holt, with lots of minor improvements to the house made to enhance its saleability and curb appeal. My father’s visiting from Florida this week just for this purpose, for helping us do all those little things we’ve never quite gotten around to doing during our two years in the house: repainting the trim on the front porch, re-screeing the front windows, replacing the rotting fascia boards on the shed, fixing the electrical outlets in the master bedroom. That kind of thing.

My job on Saturday was to have been, essentially, “Dad’s Flunky.” Whatever he needed me to do, that was what I was going to do. I was geared up for it, too — while I’m by no means the handiest guy, I’ve always liked assisting my dad with projects like this, because he is a supremely handy guy and I’m constantly amazed by his knowledge of home repair tricks and techniques. Helping my dad with projects like these makes me feel more like a Traditional By-Damn Tool-Wieldin’ Man than the computer-and-comic-book geek I really am. [1]

But I’m pretty sure it was that computer geek inside of me, clearly feeling threatened by any big scary Manliness forcing its way into me (so to speak), which reared up on Saturday morning and felled my Manly impulses before they could take root.

Our first task was ripping all of the old fascia boards off of the shed so we could then affix boards of the non-rotten variety. My first sub-task as delegated to me by my father: go through all of the old boards and remove any nails sticking out of them so that the kids wouldn’t come out and step on them.

No problem, thinks I, and start removing nails. I’m a nail-removing machine, stripping the rusty and corroded old nails out of those boards like a maniacal dentist pulling the teeth from the mouth of someone with horrible dental hygiene and fantastic dental insurance.

I threw down my most recently de-nailed board, eager to find another in the stack to render harmless.

I managed to find the next board with the ball of my right foot.

I yelped with pain (where “yelped” can be translated here as “cursed loudly and violently”) and pulled my foot back. The nail came with it, what with it being stuck through my sneaker and into my foot. Terry again displayed the remarkable speed she can muster when she hears my yell — she’d been somewhere inside, I think possibly even upstairs, but she was at my side before my expletives had even left the air.

We managed to get my shoe off (the nail stayed in the shoe rather than in my foot) and saw that the injury wasn’t too bad — it wound up being just severe enough for my foot to hurt like hell, but not enough to actually need medical attention. Yesterday I stuck my hand into the shoe (which still has the nail in it; can’t remove the thing until I take pictures, of course!) and determined that somewhere between a quarter and a half an inch of nail went into the ball of my foot. Ow.

Luckily for me, I’ve had a tetanus shot pretty recently — and I have a wife who’s really, really good at treating minor injuries, what with being the mother of two little children and all. So I’ve got an annoying limp for a few days and a free pass out of doing some of the work that needed to get done around the house — neither of which I wanted.
[1] There’s also the fact that I’m damn lucky to have this chance to work on these projects with him, since the way things looked last summer, he wasn’t going to be hangin’ around this plane of existence anymore to be able to help with such things. If my dad wanted my help, then he was going to have my help, dammit.


Jul. 18th, 2006 06:53 pm
allizon: (Default)

Originally published at Do Or Do Not.. You can comment here or there.

I’ve been in North Carolina for four days, and I’m already beginning to think in a Southern accent again.

Yup, consider this the “Gone Fishin’” message I forgot to post last week [1]: the family and I are on vacay in The N.C. for the week, visiting some most excellent friends and enjoying the friendliness of the people and a complete and total lack of traffic. We’ll be here in Greensboro for the rest of the week, then it’s travel on Saturday and a wedding of other most excellent friends on Sunday, and then posting will resume as normal next Monday! Enjoy the rest of your week, y’all!
[1] I’m not really fishing. I don’t fish.


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