Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Wedging Open the Wardrobe Door

You know, there's no shortage of Magical World stories out there. The ones where some schlubby Earth-person (usually of the teen varietal) is drawn into another world and has to pass the test, save the world, win the day before they can go back to their own life in Anywhere, USA. It's a fantasy-genre classic.

But there's a handful of yarns out there where the magic door stays open - or less literally, the magical/fantastic elements become a semi-permanent fixture of the hero's life. So then Dapper McTeen has to defeat the Dark Lord while simultaneously cramming for an algebra test.  (See: Animorphs, Sailor Moon, Buffy, Spider-Man, etc.) 

Those kinds of stories maybe don't fit so neatly into Joseph Campbell's narrative designs, but I've always had a soft spot for them.  Because that's what real life is.  No dying alien ever takes the time to write a note saying "Please excuse Hal Jordan from his mission tomorrow; he has to go save the galaxy."  That sucker just drops a load in your lap and croaks. 

And for most of us, if the giant purple wormhole in the sky is not *actively* spewing out Geiger-esque alien abominations, it is really, really tempting to just leave the spandex in the dryer and try like the dickens to get caught up on e-mails before you have to start fixing dinner.  This is why so many of us are rattling around with unfinished manuscripts and lingering guilt.  It's not because you're a grown-up and the wardrobe door to Narnia has closed.  It's because it's all blocked up with dirty clothes and boxes of unsorted tax documents and that one cooler you're afraid to open because you're pretty sure you never cleaned out the leftovers from last year's 4th of July shindig. 

On second thought, maybe I'll let Mr. Tumnus come find me.

This is pretty much where I've been at the last couple of weeks.  Missed writer's workshop on Wednesday because I had to go give an exam out in Alfred J. Shitkicker County.  Missed FenCon this weekend - 8 hours of driving/delivering on Friday, 14 hours of helping a friend move house on Saturday, 10 hours of teaching and tutoring on Sunday.  Good chance of missing workshop again tomorrow, because my company is comprised of helpless assholes.  It's exhausting and depressing and miserable and I want to go play cowboys-and-frog-monsters so bad I can taste it.  (It tastes kinda like pickled boot-leather, if you were wondering.)  More than anything, I really, really, REALLY want to finish the first draft of my book proposal before my in-laws hit town on the 13th - to hit Save, turn 30, and enjoy a week of unrelenting Texo-Scottish anarchy with a clear conscience and an empty inbox.

So wish me luck, fellow Fantasians, and the best of same with your own wardrobes, wormholes, star-gates, and time machines.  There are wondrous worlds on the other side - we just gotta get there!

Life isn't all fricaseed frogs and eel pie.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

By the Power of the Crimson Couch...

...I have spat, shook hands, signed papers, and am now officially represented by Jennie Goloboy at Red Sofa Literary.  (Yeah, that high-pitched "eeeeeeee" you've been hearing for the last couple of weeks was probably me.  Sorry.)

Yes, I made a cake.  No, I'm not the least bit sorry.

Thanks all for your hand-holding and well-wishes (and the constant supply of fresh paper bags for breathing, barfing, and/or boozing in the meanwhile.)  It's hard to know how I got so lucky, but I can say for a sure fact that landing the Agent of My Dreams would not have happened without the Friends of My Everyday Life.  There's a fresh and fantastically intimidating mountain of things to do now, but be assured that I will do y'all proud.  I shall not fail!

Dear Mr. Potter,

We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

America: Chasing the Bear Since 1776

You know, I've been wading through American history for awhile now, and have yet to come out smelling of fruits and flowers. After awhile, it's easy to get cynical and start sketching out ideas for Brutal Oppression Bingo.

But I have to say, this post (from a Scottish gent, posting on a Scottish football forum) made my whole day. From Dundee Barry himself:
America's class.
It's given us the blues, rock 'n' roll, soul, hip hop and house. It doesn't f**k about with sandwich fillings (ask for a corn beef sandwich here and you're getting charged extra for more than two slices; ask for one in America and they're putting ALL the corn fucking beef on that sandwich, my friend.) American people are, in my experience, probably more friendly and courteous than the people of any other nation on the planet. Much more so than Scottish people, who owe a great deal of their reputation to being a bit drunk most of the time.
Americans are baws oot. The best example I can give recalls sitting in a bar out in the beautiful wilderness of Yosemite National Park late one night. It was a busy, friendly place full of the sound of that happy din you find in the best bars. It was a good scene.
Suddenly someone storms in all excited, shouting, "There's a fuckin' bear outside!" There was a collective gasp, then silence.
And then the place erupted into a cheer and they all charged out after that bear. Every single one of them. The place emptied in seconds. Had there been a bugle to hand it would surely have been used to sound the charge. I sat at the bar for five minutes on my own wondering what the f**k was going on until they trickled back in with bear-chasing grins and a thirst. They didn't catch it, but hot-fucking-dog did they enjoy going after. f**k knows what their next move would've been had there been a man-on-bear confrontation.
Now, if that happened here we'd just sit there all worried as we procrastinated over who should be called into action. The police? The council? Our mums? Probably all of the above. That's the kind of thing someone else will have to sort out for us. We're too busy bitching and whinging and having a chip on our shoulder to be dealing with it.

This, I feel, is why America runs the show at a global level. They're the only one instinctively chasing the bears.
I could go on. Saved by the Bell, Legion of Doom, the end of Rocky IV, playing golf on the Moon, inventing the gloryhole and a electing a string of shaggers, cowboys, film stars, crooks and a black guy as their president. What's not to like?
America: f**k yeah.
*cues 'Freebird'*

You know, sometimes it's nice to see yourself from somebody else's point of view.  And it's definitely good to lighten up once in awhile.  (Don't get cocky, though: I've been there, and let me tell you, the Scottish mastery of junk food, public services, and casual, blister-raising sarcasm far exceeds our own.  Generations of fortified wine and knife crime have made them a cagey and fearsome people.)

But a handy tip, if you don't peruse the remainder of that thread: should you ever need to enrage a British person on-the-spot, ask him about herbs, mirrors, or aluminum foil.  My fellow Americans, we bear in our mouths a potent Yankee Kryptonite, and have made the English-speaking world our unwilling spittoon.

Remember, there is no "I" in "Team America".

Saturday, September 1, 2012

School's In. Brain's Out.

Hey, why am I getting pageviews all of a sudden?  Don't you people know I haven't updated in a week?

Sorry for absenteeism of late - not so much here (cuz I don't expect anyone's been frantically autorefreshing this thing) but elsewhere.  Been behind on blog-reading and commenting - and speaking of which, if anybody knows of a good tool for tracking comments/discussions across multiple sites, I sure would love to know about it.  I found some, but they've almost all gone belly-up.

Anyway, so real life's been eating my lunch lately, mostly in a good way.  See, I'm a private instructor/tutor for high school students, which means that work always goes bananas at the beginning of the school year.  That's fine, but this year my company has moved a huge majority of the business online - so now I am NOT ONLY available to the aspiring apple-cheeked youth of the DFW metroplex, but ALSO serving all four time zones in the continental United States.  This is fun as hell on the one hand (I can scream at hysterically tired 17-year-olds from the comfort of my fetid pajamas!) and brutally exhausting on the other. 

More annoyingly, it's taken a ginsu knife to my free time.  As in, chopped it all into tiny, non-contiguous pieces, which I seem to be using to stare, slack-jawed with wonderment, at Wikipedia pictures of dugongs.


More annoyingly still, doing so many encore performances of the great instructional song and dance is draining my batteries bigtime.  At the end of the day, I can handle chores or bills or whatever the hell else is on the honey-do-list, but the thought of turning around to get leisure-time sociable just makes me want to press my face between the couch cushions until I can inhale the comforting potpourri of stale Cheeto crumbs and cat gas.

But you know, I reckon there's no shortage of teachers and nurses and parents - oh God, you poor human bouncy-castles! - who've had to pull a double and still get things done on the side.  Which means I don't have too much excuse.  So if you hear any unseemly slurping sounds over the next couple of weeks, that's me sucking it up and getting back on track.  Hopefully without too many juvenile casualties.

Children, your performance was miserable. Your parents will all receive phone calls instructing them to love you less.