Monday, December 6, 2010

"Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."

Winston Churchill

Aaaaannnd....that's it! This is the last post I will be making on this blog. It's early Monday morning, so technically, our last class is tonight; this blog has served its purpose.

To my fellow classmates, best of luck on your final projects, presentations, and so on. I'll be seeing you!

To anyone who wants more from me, remember that you can go to to read my regular blog and drafts of my stories and essays, but also to access my hypertext narrative (the final project for this class). I will definitely continue to make updates to the website. I do have a personal Facebook account, and I'll accept you if I know you. For everyone else, because of this class, I now also have a public page that markets me as a writer/artist, so feel free to Like it (updates and changes are forthcoming). I also have a special Facebook page for my hypertext narrative; join that page in order to receive updates about the hypertext story and/or to provide feedback on it. I need all the help I can get to make it better.

Now, I bid adieu to for the time being.

"Pat Downs don’t want anything to do with your junk."

Chris Rodell, MSNBC

Apparently, airport pat-downs have caused a lot of controversy recently. And a lot of bad/amazing puns.

"What is not started today is never finished tomorrow."

Larry Elder

The semester's almost over. I'm putting the finishing touches on my paper for Electronic Publishing, and then I'll just have to print out my final poster designs, and mount them, for Typography. Yay! It's been an interesting semester, heavy on the publishing part of the M.F.A. degree, but I'll be glad to have some time off.

As evidenced by my previous posts, I've got lots of shows, movies, and books to watch/read during that time off, but I'm also going to be working, so that list may not be feasible. I've started a new job, so for the first time since August 2009, I'll be working full time (though it's commission-based). I'm also still working part time for O.T.S. at U.B., although I'll actually be working from home for a couple of weeks, updating the student lab assistant manual, and after that's done, I won't be working much for O.T.S. until February. Then there's the U.B. Post; I still plan on doing layout for the Post, in order to gain work experience in my field.

With all of this work going on, my career goal for 2010 is to make enough money that I'll actually end up having to pay taxes for my 2011 return. You see, I've never worked enough to have to pay; I've always gotten everything back on my tax return because I've never earned more than $7,000 in a year, which is below the limit for paying taxes. Although I'll end up losing part of my income to taxes if/when I meet this goal, at least I'll be making a living wage (and then some)! I just wish I could have found a full time job in my field; that's the next step.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

"Approximately 5.9 million U.S. adults own an eReader."

Paul Biba,

I read an article the other day about e-readers. Apparently, ownership of electronic reading devices has soared from 2.1 million people (in the March to October period of 2009) to 5.9 million people (in the same period of 2010), an increase of about 180% in a year's time. Previously, male users outnumbered female users 56% to 44%, but now, the numbers have almost evened out, with men at 49% and women now in the lead at 51%, mirroring the world population. These numbers do not include tablet computers (i.e., iPads, netbooks, laptops, etc.), only dedicated e-readers.

And then tonight, I found out that one of my friends got a Kindle in October and likes it a lot.


I know it's inevitable: soon enough, I'm going to be part of these statistics. But right now, I'm still resisting.

Monday, November 29, 2010

"So, that notion of hypertext seemed to me immediately obvious because footnotes were already the ideas wriggling, struggling to get free, like a cat trying to get out of your arms."

Ted Nelson

This evening, I decided to take Jenny up on her offer: instead of going to class to work, I worked from home. I write better when I'm not surrounded by other people who are working on their own things (and all different types of projects), talking, making computer noises, etc. Nothing against anyone in particular, I just work better in silence, or at least when I can control the noise around me (e.g., playing classical music).

That said, I didn't actually get started until about 9:00 p.m because I couldn't get motivated, but I did ultimately manage to finish the last two sections of my hypertext narrative. So, the first draft of the entire story is now live at; just go there, and then click on Hypertext to get started. In making this narrative, I've come to realize one fatal flaw in using the frames method on my website: I can't link directly to the narrative, or any page other than the main page, for that matter. Oh well. Moving on...

I realize there are still a lot of problems with the story, but I wanted to get a basic framework. I hope it isn't unbearable. Anyway, I have set up a Facebook page for everyone (not just classmates but everyone) to interact with the story. Tell me what's wrong with it, what's right with it, if there's a broken link or typo, and so on.

I hope to mold this, over time, into a well-written, successful, meaningful hypertext narrative. But to do that, I'll need feedback along the way. When I make changes, I'll update the Facebook page so everyone knows. I'll also be sure to update the datestamp (if that's not a word, I'm making it one; there's such a thing as a timestamp, so why not a datestamp?) on the main page of the narrative every time I make changes. Right now, the latest update is 29 November 2010.

Now, I just have to write the 2- 3-page paper, and I'll be done with my work for this class!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

"There is a great deal of difference between an eager man who wants to read a book and a tired man who wants a book to read."

G.K. Chesteron

Here are some of the


  • The Untelling by Tayari Jones
  • Between Camelots by David Harris Ebenbach
  • The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • Hard Times by Charles Dickens
  • Skeleton Key by Stephen King (already started it, though; short stories)

"A film is never really good unless the camera is an eye in the head of a poet."

Orson Welles

Here is my growing list of movies that I might watch over Christmas break. I'll start with


  • A Christmas Story
  • The Wizard of Oz
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the cartoon)
  • National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
  • National Lampoon's Vacation
  • Stranger Than Fiction
  • 3 Ninjas
And here are

  • Glue
  • Ju Dou
  • Fallen (seen part 1 but not the follow-ups)
  • Some Like It Hot
  • Gladiator
  • Planet of the Apes
  • Christine (only seen parts of it)
Does it annoy anyone else that Netflix takes movies/shows off of streaming for a while? Maybe the company needs a better server.

Books are coming up next!

"By the age of six the average child will have completed the basic American education.... From television, the child will have learned how to pick a lock, commit a fairly elaborate bank holdup, prevent wetness all day long, get the laundry twice as white, and kill people with a variety of sophisticated armaments."

Russell Baker

My last class for the semester will be on December 8, 2010, and after that, I'll have about 6.5 weeks off. We all will, in fact. Won't that be nice?

But right now, I'm trying to figure out what I'm going to do in that 6.5 weeks. Besides work, I have a growing list of TV shows, movies, books, and other things that I would like to focus on. There are several


  • The Walking Dead
  • The Office (British version)
  • Hot in Cleveland
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender (seen a few random episodes)
  • Twin Peaks
And probably more that I can't even think of right now! But even with just that list, that's going to be a total of 120 episodes (83 of them half-hours, 37 of them hourlongs, for a grand total of 78.5 hours). That might last me a week or two, tops. There are also a couple of

  • Spartacus: Blood and Sand (season 1)
  • True Blood (season 1)
That's 25 episodes, 25 hours. So, a few more days of viewing.

At top (but still socially reasonable) speed, I could get through all that in less than two weeks, but I'll probably try to make it last a little longer (and I may not even watch all of them; I may opt to watch more movies and read more books, so I can save a show or two for next summer). In any case, my TV and movie viewing list will probably last at least three or four weeks this Christmas break, maybe longer, especially because I'd like to try to do some reading in between shows/episodes/daily life. I also want to get back to playing Ratchet and Clank: A Crack in Time on my PS3. I had to quit playing when I moved downtown in August, and I never found time to get back to it, with school starting back up.

What are you going to be doing with your holiday break? Any special plans or to do/to watch/to play/to read lists?

Movies, books, and possibly more to come in future posts!

Monday, November 22, 2010

"You'll shoot your eye out, you'll shoot your eye out..."

– half the characters in A Christmas Story, telling Ralphie why he shouldn't ask for a gun

Justin and I have been together almost a year now. I met his mom, dad, and brother this past August. He met my mom and one of my sisters, who came for a visit, on November 11th. Now, on Thanksgiving, it's time to meet the rest of his family (the local ones, anyway). I'm not really nervous about it; they're people, just like my family. But it's going to be different.

In years past, I've known everyone (or at least almost everyone) at the Thanksgiving table, as I've usually been at home in Indiana. Two years ago, I spent Thanksgiving in London with Wabash College professors and classmates (my first-ever Thanksgiving not spent with family) because I was on an Immersion Trip for my senior seminar on Dickens and Hardy. We ate at a really good Italian place; it was a great time. And even last year, when I spent Thanksgiving at a (French) friend's place in Pennsylvania, where we had a raclette dinner (which was amazing, by the way), I knew 50-75% of the people beforehand.

This year, for the first time ever, I'll only know a few of the people I'm dining with on Thanksgiving. It's not a bad thing...just different. I guess it's time to start new traditions. I hate the word "partner," in a gay context, but I suppose that's what's going on here. I'm a partner in this relationship, and that means spending holidays with family – his and mine. It feels kind of nice, actually; I haven't had anything like this for a few years now, not since I was "straight."

I really do love this time of year. Thanksgiving isn't even here yet, and I've already got Christmas on the brain (sorry Kari; I know you don't care for it). I've been listening to the Glee Christmas album, and I'm this close to grabbing my DVD of A Christmas Story and putting it on repeat. If nothing else, it would remind me of Christmas in small-town Indiana, where I'm from, since that's where the movie takes place – but, weirdly, it was shot in Lori's neck of the woods (Cleveland).

In any case, "the holidays" are here, and that means finals are just around the corner. Good luck, everyone!

"Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?"

– Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Originally, I was going to blog about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows today, but I've had two obstacles this weekend preventing me from seeing the movie: Saturday, I walked over to the Maryland Science Center (because there's no way I'm not seeing this thing in IMAX!) and found signs on the door that said sold out for the rest of the day. The website had not been updated to reflect this, so I was annoyed. Sometimes, I hate technology, particularly when I find myself relying on it too much.

Lesson learned.

Today, I was going to go see it at 8 p.m., but before that, I was going to have to wait for the Dish Network people to set up satellite at my condo – not necessarily at my behest, as I could live just fine without cable TV, but my roommates wanted it, so that was that. I'll use it, though, especially while Dexter is airing its final episodes of the season. And I love having a DVR! If we didn't get cable, I was going to buy a TiVo anyway and just use it with my antenna TV. Dish Network with DVR is the next best thing (not the best because I actually have to pay for satellite every month, whereas antenna TV is free). Anyway, back to the point: the installation got started later than expected, and it took much longer than expected – basically because Comcast sucks. We'll pin this one on Comcast, because of the way they wired our place. It's just not satellite-friendly.

But anyway, the dish is installed, the DVR is mostly set, I got to watch Dexter because of 3 months of free Showtime and HBO, and now it's time for bed. Maybe I'll see Harry Potter on Tuesday, when I don't have class. Any takers? I have no problem going alone, though. ;-)

P.S. I so need to read the Harry Potter books again! Maybe next summer.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

“Oh, yes, veddy good price, ah tink. Don’t fuhget da teep.”

– Cabbie, in draft one of my hypertext narrative (which will be live soon at

It's been painful forcing myself to work on my hypertext narrative today (I had taken a break for a week or two before starting on the second major version), but I'm excited about what is coming out of it. I wasn't sure if I could pull it off, but I think I've got a story with multiple layers that reveal themselves as the reader makes his or her decisions. One reading might have more revelations than others, more insight into the two main characters – Miriam and Cooper (and if you noticed that name coincidence, yes, it's purposeful). No reading will be definitive, however, so I will certainly invite the reader to go through the story multiple times if he or she wants to know a little more about the characters.

I'd also like to write a screenplay version of the story, which would then be one of the choices the reader has to make (prose or screenplay), but that will most likely come after this class. Because, yes, I do want to continue to work on this story afterwards. As this is only a first draft, I think it will need a lot of work, and as each week, month, and year goes by, I'll probably want to make some changes. Maybe one day, I will call it complete, but that day is far from soon. For now, it's just an Electronic Publishing assignment; one day, though, I hope it will officially be considered one of the stories in my body of work.

P.S. I have started a Facebook page (called Roger William Market's Hypertext Narrative) to act as a supplement to my hypertext narrative – for any pictures/videos I may or may not decide to use, as well as reader feedback, questions, etc. It's already live, so you can Like it now if you want to, and the narrative will be up soon as well.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

"Hereafter...has the same effect as an encounter with a phony physic – it keeps delivering just enough to tantalize, never has a real payoff and eventually makes you realize that you've been conned."

Richard Knight Jr.

Mike wrote about Hereafter on his class blog a few weeks ago. I hadn't seen it at the time, but I agreed that what he described didn't sound very enthralling.

Now, I've seen it, and I can wholeheartedly agree that Hereafter is incredibly disappointing. The most climactic scene happens in the first five minutes of the movie, and then there are about two hours of separate stories that really only connect in the end, and even then, I don't think there is a payoff. I won't describe the plot or go into much detail, because Mike already did that.

I guess I would only add that I think this could have been a fantastic movie, but almost every time the writer and producers had a choice to make, they chose something that I would consider bad (as Mike put it, they played it safe; they didn't take any risks). I would have been more interested in seeing the movie that I thought I was going to see based on just the first five minutes of the movie; that's when things changed drastically, for the worse. I would have been interested in seeing a movie about the twin brothers. Even the psychic angle could have been engaging, in either of these options. But the makers of Hereafter combined two or three usable plots into one tangled mess of a movie, with no life in it. Ironic, eh?

"Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task."

William James

My mom and sister came to visit me on Thursday.

It was a good but long weekend. My sister had never been to Baltimore before, so we did the tourist thing all day, showed her Baltimore in all its glory and lack thereof. We took the MARC train to D.C. on Friday and did more touristy stuff, and then had a get together that night at my place. Saturday, we went shopping, and then to a drive-in movie at Bengie's, the largest theater screen in America. During this trip, they met some of my friends in the Baltimore/D.C. area. It was a good trip.

But now it's time to get back to the real world. I have a ton of homework to do, some of it before classes this week, some of it in the next couple of weeks. I have errands I need to run, and I have a bunch of shows I need to get caught up on. I have a lot to do in just a few weeks; it's stressful.

One of those stressful items on my to do list is to finish my hypertext story for this class. I've got one version (with two endings) written down, but I still have yet to write the other version. It's every bit as much work as I thought it would be, and more so. Is anyone else struggling to finish their assignments on time? Do you have any suggestions for how to block out the world and get shit done? After a work-free weekend, the last thing I want to do is homework.

But, unfortunately, it's the first thing I need to do. This should be fun...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"Let's go all the way tonight / No regrets / Just love / We can dance until we die / You and I / Will be young forever"

– "Teenage Dream," here performed by recurring members of the Glee cast (originally by Katy Perry)

So, Glee was awesome this week. (Read this ONLY if you're caught up on Glee, or if you don't watch it in the first place; otherwise, you'll be "spoiled").

I don't want to write a whole lot about this, but I just want to say that I think what they are doing on the show is really important and timely. With so many (gay) kids/teenagers committing suicide recently because they couldn't stand being bullied, now more than ever is the time to say something about it.

But more importantly, it's time to do something. I'd like to see the show reach out in other ways, behind the scenes. I'm sure there are dozens of ways they can help the cause, and with approximately 12 million regular (live) viewers, there's sure to be a significant audience for this.

As for the storyline itself, I must admit that I was a little taken aback. I wasn't expecting what happened to happen – with Kurt, Blaine, and the bully – but I think it opens the door for an interesting new coming out story that will be even more painful and important than Kurt's was/is. Well, maybe not necessarily more important, but it just goes to show that we never really know people, not even when we "know" them well. People hide things really well, sometimes, and that can be self-destructive.

I should, kind of, know. While I wasn't very aware that I was gay until my senior year of college, I think part of me knew way before that, and that part of me lived in fear for most of my life. It affected how I acted, my communication skills, my self-image. It affected who I was. Today, I'm a very different person than I was even just last year, or the year before! I have time and an ever-growing maturity to thank for that, as most people do, but more importantly, I have coming out to thank, as well as several people in my life (and a couple that are no longer in my life, regrettably). You know who you are. You've helped me be me, and I can't thank you enough for that.

Back to Kurt and Blaine real quick: I can't wait to see how this turns out, especially with the bully in the mix. Blaine is already poised to be a series regular, probably starting with season three, so he's definitely going to be sticking around. It'll be nice for Kurt to have someone he can relate to. Someone like Blaine, who can turn Katy Perry's "Teenage Dream" into a great a capella glee club number (well, it should have been a cappella; they shouldn't have had background music, darn it!). I love that it was an all-male choir performing the song and that they weren't all gay.

If there's one overall message in Glee, it's that we shouldn't always expect the expected. There's always some notion to deconstruct.

This was one of my favorite episodes, so far.

P.S. The Coach Beist/Mr. Shue kiss was sweet too. Great scene!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

"This November, 12 brides will compete in the only reality show where the winner gets cut."

– tagline for Bridalplasty, the newest reality show from E!

I was at a friend's house the other day and saw the trailer for this new "reality" TV show, Bridalplasty.

The premise is that 12 brides-to-be are in competition for plastic surgery. The winner receives full plastic surgery and the wedding of her dreams.

But what about the man? Is he in on it? Is he one of the prizes (and if so, wow, what a catch; please note sarcasm), or does each woman bring her own man to the show, hoping to win a pretty face for him? Again, what a catch! Oh, and what happens to the other 11 women, the losers?

When I saw this trailer, I thought it was a joke. Unfortunately, it's not.

I think the critics are right: this could very well be "the final TV show ever made before mankind slips quietly into the dust." It's times like these that make me dislike the world, especially America. Why do we need this trash on TV, for all to see, and what kind of message is it sending?

I guess our next step is to prepare for alien invasion because anyone out there receiving this broadcast is sure to think we are a bunch of narcissistic, cannibalistic, unrealistic, misogynistic, sadistic, and masochistic pieces of shit that need a full-scale intervention á la "White Man's Burden" – and stat!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

"Perhaps I'll cut HIS head off, thought Alice to herself."

– voiceover from Alice, adapted from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

I found this on Netflix one day and, despite the fact that it had a 2.7 star rating, put it in my instant viewing queue. Besides, it has 4 stars on Amazon and a 7.5/10 on IMDB, and anything in that ballpark is usually pretty good, sometimes even great, so I took the risk. It just depends on how unorthodox the film is, how far it strays from lowest common denominator.

Today, I finally watched the movie. Despite my reservations about the voiceover (as it does get repetitive), I liked it overall. So Netflix's rating, in this case, was mostly wrong.

Alice is a surrealist retelling of the classic postmodern story about a little girl named Alice who finds herself in a strange place called Wonderland, where she has wonderful and sometimes scary adventures with eccentric characters, most of them animalistic. In this version, I don't recall actually hearing the word "Wonderland," but there are references to Mary Ann, if that sways any of you purists out there.

Two of the most interesting and original aspects of this movie are the use of stop-motion video to capture the Wonderland creatures/characters and the way each character is (and many random objects are) reflected in the real world. The rabbit is actually Alice's own stuffed rabbit. The caterpillar is a sock with eyes in this version of Wonderland, and if I looked hard enough, I'm sure I'd notice a sock lying around somewhere in the real-world shots. And the list goes on.

At times, this movie is beautiful. At times, it is quite disgusting, and that quality comes from both the visuals and the sound effects. For instance, when the rabbit starts eating his own stuffing (sawdust), the crunch is so vivid, and the visuals are so startlingly in-your-face, that it makes me kind of uncomfortable, almost sick. While I thought the voice for the English dub was going to be annoying (and yes, the close-ups of Alice's mouth are annoying), instead, I found that the girl who voices the narrator/Alice does a fantastic job of mirroring the sound effects and reflecting the sometimes disturbing visuals of each scene.

The final shot is one of my favorites, as we get one last look at Alice's room in the real world and – well, I won't spoil any more than I already have, but I recommend this film if you love the Alice story and its adaptations, especially if you were disappointed in Burton's latest one, or even if you weren't. At the very least, this Alice is something new to try.

Except, at 22 years old, it's actually almost as old as I am.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

"But people that are worried about unborn babies are the same ones that vote against kindergarten programs in Indiana or school lunch funds out of the federal government."

Birch Bayh (yeah, an unfortunate name...)

I started doing some work on my hypertext narrative the other day, and when I went back to it today, I got excited. This is such a fun story to write! I love the way the characters interact; I don't usually write characters like this. Furthermore, I've never really written anything about Indiana, on a conscious level anyway, so it's refreshing to get to "go" back home while I work.

Anyway, here's a sneak peak of my hypertext narrative, sans the choices you'd get online, one of which is whether the main characters are traveling from their hometown of Baltimore to an event in Rockville, Indiana – like in this version – or from their hometown in Indiana to an event in Baltimore.

For now, I'm calling this story

Lost Things

The cab ride from the Indianapolis airport to Rockville had been long and, at $122.50, obscenely expensive. Miriam, Paula, and Cooper stepped out of the taxi alone, sleep-deprived, and darn near penniless. On this trip, they were doing nothing, it seemed, but grieving for lost things. Now, Cooper was paying the fare, and then they would be off to meet the family members they’d only ever heard about in passing.

Miriam was fair skinned, with ultra-short red hair and a temperament to match. On top, she wore a thrifty but chic maternity shirt, which perfectly matched her “previously loved” designer jeans. Both ensured that she was constantly aware of the life growing inside her, and as she thought about it for the thirty-seventh time that day, she subconsciously rested her hand on the small of her back.

“Damn.” Cooper said, as he slammed the door shut and watched the cab drive away. “Our boy grew up in this hood?” Breaking his gaze on the lone yellow car, which was headed back to Indianapolis, he observed the quaint little town square with the same amount of interest that a dog might show a fly in a country basement on a cold winter's day – which is to say hardly any at all. For a moment, Miriam thought she could actually hear his heartbeat slow to a crawl. He pushed his longish black hair out of his eyes before continuing: “What a dump. I guess I see why he went and offed –”

“Dump?” Miriam said, stepping closer, the better to face him off. “You ever left the city, Cooper? Ever? Baldamore’s a fuckin’ sty compared to this.” With her free hand, she pointed at the courthouse and smiled. “Just look how pretty. No graffiti, no grime spots, no nothin’. It’s fuckin’ beautiful here. Paradise, almost.”

“Yeah, but I see where he’s coming from, hon,” Paula interjected. Then she waved her hands vigorously in front of her to indicate something large and meaty. Paula was black, and Miriam had always found that that, when black people waved their hands, she had to listen and – usually – agree. “I mean….Baldamore’s a city at least. There’s nothing here; we’re in a ghost town for cripe’s sake. Beautiful or not, it’s just plain creepy.” As Paula finished, she put her arms back down at her sides and picked at the seams of her bluejeans, like she always did when she was nervous about something. It was a tell and was very helpful for avoiding arguments, which is why Miriam had never mentioned it to her. Besides, it was cute.

“Yeah, maybe.” Miriam spun around, slowly, taking everything in, her top teeth softly, affectionately biting her bottom lip. As if stifling a giddy burst of emotion. From where she stood on the town square, she saw the courthouse in the middle, of course, a small mom-n-pop variety store called G & M, a local bank branch, a couple of antique stores, a church, an old theater, a privately-owned grocery, and several other places she couldn’t figure out. “Creepy, but I like it. It’s different.”

“Whatever,” Cooper said. “Let’s just do this and get the fuck –”

“Don’t say fuck!” Paula shouted.

“– outta here. Why she can say fuck and I can’t?”

“We have an understanding: no drama, no controlling, no alpha-female baloney. It’s all in the contract.” She punched Cooper’s shoulder and winked. “Besides, she does what she wants, and that’s what I love about her. You, on the other hand…you’s just a straight-up thug!”

Cooper glared at her through squinted eyelids. “Let’s just do this, okay?” He looked around, chose a direction, and walked.

Miriam put her arm around Paula. “See, baby? We got this.” She kissed Paula on the cheek, and they too started walking.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

"And crawling on the planet's face, some insects called the human race. Lost in time, and lost in space...and meaning."

The Criminologist in Rocky Horror

The end of Rocky Horror is perhaps one of the most interesting, provocative mind fraks I've ever seen. Indeed, even after seeing it done three different ways (if you count Glee's), I'm still not entirely sure what it means.

Frank says something about taking the aliens, and Riff-Raff interjects that only he and Magenta will be going back home – to the planet Transsexual, in the distant galaxy Transylvania. But then there's the line about transporting all of Earth to Transylvania, so the ending, with Brad and Janet crawling around in fishnets, is kind of confusing. Are they still on Earth? Did they escape the mansion in time for it to disappear and transport to Transylvania, or did Riff-Raff, in fact, move all of Earth to a distant galaxy? I guess the question is did he change his mind? Or perhaps he simply meant that he was going to kill the other aliens first (or at least Frank) before transporting Earth to Transylvania.

In any case, I love an ending that can make me think, and even more so, I love an "unhappy" ending. That's not to say that everything should end tragically because, while I think happy endings are good for some shows/stories, others require something with a little more meat. More risk.

I have ideas for three different television dramas that each tie together, and each one would ideally end in a similar fashion to Rocky Horror: in a sort of what-the-hell-just-happened kind of way. Back when LOST ended, I was kind of in that mode but not necessarily in a good way. It was such a shocking ending because it seemed like the ending should have been more substantial that it was. With a little time to think about it, I decided that I really did like it; it just wasn't what I had expected. And I know that ending was incredibly divisive among fans, some of my friends included.

As such, I don't ever want to end a story quite like that, but it makes me wonder: where do I draw the line? What exactly is it that makes one "frakked-up" story ending amazing and another one bullshit?

Does anyone out there have any opinions? What makes a good story ending? What makes a bad story ending?

"It's astounding / Time is fleeting / Madness takes its toll..."

– From The Rocky Horror Show's "Time Warp" (here, performed by the cast of Glee)

Until last Monday, I was a Rocky Horror virgin. I'd always wanted to watch it and just hadn't ever gotten around to it. But with Glee doing a Rocky Horror episode last week, I decided it was time to take the plunge: I streamed The Rocky Horror Picture Show via Netflix on Monday night, watched Glee on Tuesday night, and then went to a live production of the show on Friday night, in Brooklyn, MD.

I loved all three shows.

The differences from version to version are interesting, but I think that what's always the same, always front-and-center, are the music and the "for outcasts" nature of the production.

I loved the movie version because, aside from the quirky, fun, weirdly entertaining storyline, we have Tim Cury's amazing performance as transvestite and leader of the aliens Frank-N-Furter. And while Susan Surandon (as Janet) isn't particularly phenomenal, she doesn't exactly suck either. Well...she might have sucked in that scene with Frank, but that was kind of vague. ;-) Anyway, I won't talk about the whole cast, but I will just say that, generally, it is a good one. Moving on...

I liked the Glee episode because, as usual, they managed to tie the themes of the music into the themes and storylines of the TV show itself. Emma's rendition of "Toucha Touch Me" is one of my favorite covers from the episode; I think she kind of stole the show, actually. Who knew actress Jayma Mays could do that? As far as I can remember, she hasn't sung on the show until this episode. And, of course, having Britney and Santana step in as Columbia and Magenta was just perfect!

Finally, while the movie and Glee versions are great to watch and even sing along to if one feels so inclined (and knows the words), the live show is a whole different beast. It's completely interactive. You get a prop bag and have to do things like pop a balloon, cover your head with a newspaper, wave a glow stick in the air, throw a sponge on the stage, and so on. You'll hear people in the audience shouting out lines and talking to the cast, and the cast will shoot witty responses right back. And you'll get to do the Time Warp, which, while I'm not a fan of dancing, is kind of fun to learn if you're a newbie.

Going into this week, I've still got the songs stuck in my head. I imagine they'll fade with time, but come next Halloween season, I'll be ready again.

"I believe that the so-called writing block is a product of some kind of disproportion between your standards and your performance...It doesn't make any difference if you are good or bad today. The assessment of the product is something that happens after you've done it."

William Stafford

It's not that I have writer's block, per se; I just don't have time to write anything more than what's required of me for class. At least not in November, when NaNoWriMo starts up.

For one thing, I haven't had time to come up with a novel idea. I've had a few sparks but nothing that I could write 50,000 words on. If I'm going to participate in NaNoWriMo, I want to get some significant work done on a novel. So, I'm going to have to pass on it this year; maybe next summer I'll come up with a project to do next November.

As of now, I'm taking two classes, doing work study in O.T.S. at U.B., doing layout for the school paper (for which I get paid a very small stipend), and now (hopefully) working part-time at another place. I need the money, so I'm hoping that, when I get the call sometime this week, it's good news. The woman I interviewed with seemed very optimistic that she'll hire me. She was impressed with my résumé and fascinated by the story of how I came to be in a creative writing program. If things go well, I might actually have some spending money this holiday season – and subsequently, for that matter.

Having two part-time jobs, and one volunteer/stipend job that I'm using solely for publishing experience for my résumé, is far from ideal. I'd much rather have a full-time job but, as Samantha wrote recently, can't seem to find anything in (or close to) Baltimore.

I'll stick with this for a while, but sooner or later, I'll have to go back to the drawing board and find myself a career job.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

"If it weren't for received ideas, the publishing industry wouldn't have any ideas at all."

Donald E. Westlake

Remember when I wrote about Smashwords, the e-book publishing company? Well, I read today that Smashwords has surpassed a billion published words – nine weeks ahead of schedule. In about October of last year (2009), the company had published 150 million words. It then set a crazy goal to reach one billion by the end of 2010.

On October 21, 2010, the company reached that goal.

And it succeeded because of people like this. Because more and more frustrated authors or would-be authors are turning to modern technology. Because people are realizing that, with more people than ever on the planet, there is more competition and just aren't enough book deals to go around.

That said, I think they hit the nail on the head: not just anyone can and should publish electronically. One absolutely must be a good writer, because most of the time, the star editing treatment is no where to be found in these electronic publishing companies. That's one of their downfalls.

Even so, it's encouraging to see people getting (e-)published.

"I'll bet living in a nudist colony takes all the fun out of Halloween."

– Unknown author/coiner, but I found it on Quote Garden

The fall equinox was exactly 31 days ago, and yet it's supposed to be 76 degrees Fahrenheit on Wednesday. Is this normal for Maryland? I don't remember what last year was like, but even so, that was only one year out of – well, since the beginning of temperature records in Maryland – and could have been a fluke. Is this year a fluke? I guess I'm not complaining. It's not exactly hot outside these days, and I've got visitors coming soon, so I'm hoping some of the warmth will actually stick around so we can go exploring in Baltimore and D.C. without freezing or sweating to death!

Meanwhile, Halloween is coming up next weekend, and I still don't know if I should dress up when we go to Fells on Saturday night – or what I want to be. It sucks being relatively poor, but I guess it encourages creativity; maybe I should just make something and/or use things I already have. And who says I have to be something? Couldn't I just embody Halloween itself?

"If you must leave your woman alone, be sure to tie her down..."

– from "Chandler's Shop" by The O'Danny Girls

Looking through my footage from Renn Fest yesterday, I've decided that, since the joust was the most exciting part, I'm going to be using it quite a bit in my mini movie. I'd like to feature small clips from some of the other Renn Fest shows, as well as a few that take place outside Renn Fest.

For instance, today, I shot some footage at the harbor. I got a few people walking by (at different angles), some ships coming in, and even a few seconds of the pirate ship that floats around the harbor. I'm thinking this video is going to be some kind of journey through time, since I've got Rennaissance events, pirate ships, modern ships, etc., and since many people (myself included) at Renn Fest were dressed in "normal," modern clothing, there is a bridge between time periods. An anachronism, of course, but still, there is a bridge. I'm not sure what to do with that just yet.

In any case, before today, I was a little worried that I wasn't going to have anything to work with on Monday, but now, with the additional footage I shot, I think I'll be okay. I still don't know if it will be useful for my final project or not, though, because I still need to come up with my story for the hypertext narrative.

More to come on all of this in the next few weeks! Stay tuned.

Friday, October 22, 2010

"I hope they make a video game of me. At least I wouldn't have any cellulite then."

Scarlett Johansson

I'm going to Ren Fest in Annapolis tomorrow, so I'm probably going to be shooting some video there. I thought that would be a fun venue for a video/photo shoot. Beyond that, though, I'm still not entirely sure what I want to do. I'll probably record some other footage near my apartment, but right now, I need a way to combine the two.

Perhaps Renn Fest can serve as a flashback and the other footage can be the present. It's difficult to know what to record for Monday's class when we're not being graded on it and I'm not 100% sure what I'm doing for my final project. Because why not use this "free" time to make a video I can use? It seems this video project is meant to prepare us for the final, just like the other projects before it have done. I still need to start writing my content for the final project before I really know what kind of video I want to make, because, like I said, whatever video I work on during Monday's class will probably end up in my final project, in some form – probably with a few other videos.

I'll post an update soon, probably after Renn Fest.