Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bicentennial, minus 198.

Productivity seems to come in waves. One week I'll write fifteen pages for my story. The next I'll spend my free time on nostalgia avenue playing SimCity 3000. For as popular a game as SimCity was, I feel like it was never truly appreciated enough by the gaming community. Maybe that's because by the time SimCity 3000 came out, the first person shooter had become all the rage and taken over the entire video game world forcing any sort of game that had any semblance of originality or actual fun to it out of the limelight so games based on Tom Clancy novels with little to no replay value could become the norm.

Not that I'm bitter or anything.

Hey, last week was Ang's and my 2-year anniversary. We made it two whole years without killing each other, so we must be doing something right. Heh.

And actually, since last year I decided to declare to the world how to have a happy marriage after only one actual year of it, I think perhaps I'll take this opportunity to clarify something about that:

I really can be an outlandish sensationalist sometimes, can't I?

Don't get me wrong. I stand by most of what I said last year. But... truly, there really is no definitive set list of guidelines by which one can govern his or herself through their respective marriages. A marriage is a living, organic thing, not a textbook with bullet points outlining the proper ins and outs thereof. You have to work with it, not for it. People change. Ideas and beliefs change. Sometimes those things were things that you thought were hallmarks of your relationship. They can be difficult changes to accept once you've tied the knot.

But that's where the things like communication come in. You talk about it. You work with it. You accept that change has occurred and figure out how to change with it. That's what makes marriages work, the ability to adapt to one another because you've made a commitment to stick with this person no matter what.

So here we are, Ang and I, sticking it to each other 2 years strong and ready for many more to come. :-)

Song stuck in my head: Blackbird - The Beatles

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Darn you, XKCD.

Gosh darn you to heck, XKCD.


Anyway, I think I know why I haven't been blogging, actually.

I've been actually writing.

Like... my story. For those of you who might be unaware, I've been attempting to write a science-fiction-y type of novel thing since, like, 8th grade or so. I actually had completed about three and a quarter little novella-length stories in the series, until I realized that I wasn't in 8th grade anymore (by now I was in 12th and getting ready for college) and my younger self kind of sucked as a writer.

Well, maybe that's a bit harsh. Let's say I hadn't yet learned the joys of proofreading back then. Still working on it, really.

Whatever the case, it became apparent at some point that my original stories were mostly junk riddled with a few good paragraphs here and there and that I was going to need a serious retooling of the series if I ever really wanted to turn it into something publishable. I think I determined this about the time that my parents' computer decided to melt its hard drive on itself and I lost nearly everything I had ever written on that thing (years and years of work, gone... I still get a little depressed when I think about it). At that point, all I had left was a printed copy of the first book, which was about 60 pages long on unspaced, 10-pt Times New Roman, so whatever that would equal in book form. I still have that, which I affectionately refer to as "The Hard Copy," the original tome from which my work is based. However, at the time, I was just so bummed about losing all that work (most of the best stuff I'd written was in books 2 and 3), I kind of gave up on the idea entirely, and I just about stopped writing entirely other than occasional poetry.

A few years back, however, I took a look back at the Hard Copy and got an itch to enter these characters' world again. I made a decision to commit to actually writing something worth reading, not just writing something for fun in my spare time.

So, over the course of the past three or four some odd or even years (that's probably terrible grammar in that sentence, but nuts to it), I've been working on retelling my tale of space-age comedy and intrigue. It wasn't originally intended to be a comedy, but that ended up happening to one extent or another. I was originally inspired to write the story in the first place because, at the time, I had just discovered Star Wars and thought it was the awesomest thing since slicing bread with a lightsaber. Several chapters into it, however, I discovered my favorite book of all time, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and was inspired to switch the feel of the book towards humor. This is actually probably why it didn't work as well as it might've, because I have a very... um... singular sense of humor. As in, things I might find hilarious probably wouldn't be so to 95% of humanity.

Consequently, the story is now about 90% altered from its original state. It's much more drama oriented, with hints of comedy thrown in for good measure (because unless you're Isaac Asimov or Arthur C. Clarke or something, you have no right to be writing humorless science-fiction). Nearly every character has received a dramatic overhaul in personality, or they've been eliminated altogether. The plot itself doesn't even begin to resemble the Hard Copy, save for the fact that the main character is still a man named Richard Crane and his parents are dead. (I'm trying my hardest not to make him either Batman or Iron Man, truly I am. The Iron Man connection is particularly difficult to get around. I think I've succeeded in making him his own character, though. I hope.)

But what matters most is that I'm actually writing again. I'm actually making headway. When last I checked, I believe I had made it to 48 pages, single spaced still, 11-pt Times New Roman, and only five chapters so far. Five! I had like 25 or something in the entire Hard Copy. I'm actually enjoying where my story is going. I feel like I could actuallys it down and enjoy reading it. That, to me, is a win, at least so far.

Anyway, I've been dedicating a great deal of time to that over the past two weeks, particularly last week (a chapter and a half!), and I pretty much only take free time after work before I pick Angela up from Denny's. We try to spend as much time that we actually have together together, rather than retreating to respective corners of the apartment to do solitary activities. We got married for a reason, after all. We kinda like spending time with each other. :-)

So, I write when I'm alone. I also blog, for the most part, when I'm alone, because blogs can take a good half an hour to an hour to churn out sometimes, and that's time I could be spending with Ang if she's here. So yeah. If I've been quiet lately, 7 times out of 10 it's been because I've been writing. Productively.

For the moment, I'm going to go review a movie or two on my other blog, which is also in dire need of updating. Honest, I really do intend to make this a more regular blogging experience. Maybe if I sprinkle some prune juice on the computer...

(cuz... then... it'd be more regular...)

(I'll shut up now...)

Song stuck in my head: That's How You Know - Amy Adams

Sunday, August 2, 2009

For the record.

My last post was a bit of a rant. Let me try to be clear here. (Crap, I just used an Obama-ism.)

Baseball, in and of itself, is hardly dead to me. I was honestly in a bit of a hurry last night and just wanted to get the rant off my chest, so I got it off and didn't really even look over it. I even forgot to give the post tags. But yeah, baseball as a sport is still alive and well.

It's Major League Baseball I couldn't give two flying flips about.

It seriously is a big joke now. Whereas in the NFL and the NHL, you have a wonderful parity among teams so that pretty much any team has the potential to affect a turnaround within a season or two and become competitive, MLB simply is not and probably never will be like that. You've got the Yankees, Red Sox, Cardinals, Dodgers, Angels, Giants... these are your teams that get all the spotlight, all the attention. Screw the Tampa Bay Rays, no one really cares about them. The Arizona Diamondbacks down here were being picked as a possible Wild Card team, if not to give the Dodgers a run for the division title. Here they sit, instead, doing worse than the Pirates this year.

But of course, the Pirates are the laughingstock. Har har.

Maybe it's because the Pirates are in fact from Pittsburgh, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pittsburgh Penguins, two of the best teams in all of sports. The poor Pirates are like the black sheep, the kid the family doesn't like to talk about holed up in the attic. I actually thought maybe the Pirates would see the other two teams winning their sports' biggest titles and suddenly be inspired to actually try for once.

Silly me.

And it really kills me, because I really love going to Pirates games. When the Pirates came down here to Arizona to play the Diamondbacks, I really wanted to go to a game. I have been to more Pirates games than any other sporting event, by quite a landslide (probably about a 25-1 ratio), and in that time they've probably won about 90% of the time. I always used to say I needed to get season tickets because the Pirates always did so well when I went to see them. So I knew what they were capable of. I knew they could win.

And besides the fact that the Pirates had a ridiculous win percentage when I went to see them, I actually enjoyed going to the games regardless. I have a lot of really fond memories in Three Rivers Stadium and PNC Park with my family, and particularly my dad, watching the Pirates. Win or lose, I watched every game eagerly, watched every pitch in earnest, cheered for long hits to clear the wall. I got to see Mark McGuire hit home runs during practice warm-ups. I witnessed, in person, the 1997 combined extra-inning no-hitter pitched by Francisco Cordova and Ricardo Rincon. These memories have no less magic for me now than they did previously.

Just right now? This Pirates team? In this Major League? Dead to me.

Call me in about two or three years, really. Once this reconstruction process really starts to take shape (if it does, in fact, actually take shape), I may find myself hopeful again. It's just really hard to care about my team when it's not only admitting utter and total defeat by trading virtually every player it's acquired over the years away, but it also exists in a league where only the bullies with the deepest pockets are able to tower over the others.

And to top it all off, the steroids thing is completely tainting the Red Sox's two World Series wins. Just how many players on those players were on the juice? I was enthralled by the Sox back then, since my sister Caryn is a Sox fan, and so I took on the Sox as my second team, rooting for them to reverse the curse. And so they did. But apparently steroids helped fund it. Does that mean the curse isn't really reversed? Could the Sox ever win without steroid-enhanced players?

It just... the whole mess disgusts me. And I'm done with it. In a few years, when the so-called "Steroid Era" is really ebbing, and the Pirates are maybe starting to figure out how to run a baseball team, hopefully (and I do very much hope) I'll be able to care about baseball again.

For the time being, there's still two championship caliber teams in Pittsburgh well worth rooting for. Now if only we could manage to attract an NBA team...

Song stuck in my head: All I Wanna Do is Have Some Fun - Sheryl Crow

Saturday, August 1, 2009

With my tail between my legs...

I know, I know. I skipped a week. For this, I apologize.

To recap my past two weeks, it's been hell having to come back to the desert after just a couple days in San Diego. I have to say it; I'm really sick of Phoenix.

I mean, there's nothing here. Nothing. We've already been to the Big Hole in the Ground up north once, and plan on going again when my parents visit. We've taken advantage of our nearness to both California and the Pacific Ocean with our trip to San Diego. Unfortunately, both trips are at least 4 hour drives away, meaning it's not Phoenix that's actually offering us these opportunities. Here in the Valley of the Sun?

Uh... Papago Park? Tempe Marketplace? The Arizona Cardinals?

Yeah. And endless summer.

*sigh* I really miss seasons. And snow. Heck, I miss weather. The whole Monsoon thing is nice, but it's so seldom it's almost not worth it. I need more temperate climates. This whole 115 degrees every day thing is really starting to get to me.

In related news, I'm officially going to go ahead and say that the sport of baseball is dead to me. The Pittsburgh Pirates just spent the past couple of months systematically destroying everything that I'd come to like about my team by restructuring it completely, suddenly, and without warning. Sure, they're in the middle of their 17th straight losing season, so it makes sense that they're going for such a drastic makeover.

But... what the crap is my team anymore? I barely know anyone on that roster now. I'm more interested in hearing from my dad about the Lynchburg Hillcats, single A minor league team for the Pirates, which my dad is the chaplain for. It makes for much more compelling sports, anyway. Meanwhile, the Pirates themselves are the laughingstock of the entire sports world, maybe even more than the Lions or the Clippers right now, with how ridiculous they're doing.

And besides all that... why the crap should I care about baseball anyway? The whole steroids scandal has completely mocked the entire integrity of the game to the point that I pretty much wish we'd never found out about the steroids issue and just left it alone. I honestly think we'd have been better off for it. Sure, maybe it'd be cheating, but at least we could've watched baseball casually and enjoyed it without wondering if the teams doing well are more juiced than the others. Or at least I could've. Now? Screw it. Baseball is dead to me. There's about six teams that really matter, and the rest are all just filler.

If I want baseball, I'll watch A League of Their Own or The Sandlot or something. Not ESPN.

Meh. Okay, enough ranting. Ang and I need to get groceries, and it's getting late, and I'm probably going to end up getting to bed even later because of it, making me tired and cranky tomorrow, so I'm gonna go. *sigh* This is why I haven't blogged, really. There really aren't enough hours in the day anymore.

I'm going now.

Song stuck in my head: Benny and the Jets - Elton John