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20 September 2014 @ 01:31 pm
I got her package on the same day the boy on my ribcage got a sister. She's taller than him, but still younger, he insists.
Current Location: Paris
Current Music: Diplo feat. Kstylis - 6th Gear
16 September 2014 @ 11:58 am
-- Mayweather-Maidana 2: Nasty Money - Rafe Bartholomew, Grantland, Sept. 15, 2014

"Additionally, one of the sport’s virtues is its history of giving second chances to fighters with criminal pasts. Mayweather, with his pattern of abusive behavior, might be beyond redemption. But exiling every boxer who runs afoul of the law might also mean never getting a chance to witness a career like Bernard Hopkins’s. Hopkins, a current titlist at light heavyweight, served almost five years in prison for strong-armed robbery and assault, then embarked on a record-breaking, Hall of Fame–worthy career that has spanned four decades and still isn’t over. In boxing, the morally reprehensible often lives beside the uplifting and inspirational. The sport’s fans understand this; many of them seem to embrace it."

-- It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over: The Pseudo-Endlessness of ‘Destiny’ - Ben Lindbergh, Grantland, Sept. 16, 2014

"To be fair, Smuggler’s Run wasn’t set on the Moon. Then again, we’re two PlayStations past where we were in 2000, in a world where the right code can create an infinite universe. Destiny didn’t have to model the whole Moon to feel acceptably epic, but it could have set the handful of missions on each planet in areas that didn’t require so much backtracking across familiar terrain, and it could have made those missions rely less heavily on recycled objectives. (Dinklage would have had half as many lines if not for the many ways he was forced to say, “Keep these enemies off me while I slowly decrypt this door.”) In its lack of lore, small cast of characters, and constrained scope, Destiny is the anti-Elder Scrolls. The sweet spot lies on a middle path between the two extremes."
Current Location: Paris
Current Music: Professor talking
15 September 2014 @ 05:45 pm
-- Reboot or Die Trying - David Roberts, Outside Magazine, Sept. 2, 2014

"It’s the same with humans. Variable intermittent reinforcement explains why slot machines are so enthralling, why video games contain hidden caches of coins or weapons, and why we’re all helpless before 
our e-mail accounts. One time you check your inbox and there’s a single new message, from LinkedIn, which reminds you that you can’t figure out how to delete your LinkedIn account. Sad face. The next time you check, you have five new messages, including one from an old friend and another from a potential employer. Happy face! So you check, check, check."
Current Location: Paris
Current Music: Vitamin String Quartet - The Noose (String Tribute to A Perfect Circle)
Ghosts - 9.14.14 - 00.32 (local time)

New Words: 3253

Total Words: 36118

Page Count: 172

Reason for Stopping: Sleep/luxury reading

Notes: These words all got written today, while I was entertaining a friend. Sundays are blessed days. Got some more genre tropes in there and, as attends nearing any sort of endpoint, there's been a loosening of sorts. I no longer feel blocked, even as I charge ever towards the muddle. I'm in the last chapter of Part II and I've ruminated on Part III for so long that I already know its grand contours. I've been looking forward to writing it for some time, to the extent that it was almost blocking my progress on Part II. Structurally, this book is all kinds of wrong, and I suspect when distance has given me any vestige of wisdom and insight, that much of Part II will be cut or maybe even assimilated into Part IV, depending on how that turns out. Part I may be severely slashed, perhaps even becoming as short as a prologue for Part III, which may become the whole of the book rather than a sturdy backbone of sorts. Maybe Part I will turn into some sort of "Pafko at the Wall." Either way, it was too much fun to write. And Part II, as arduous as it was to get through, has gotten interesting and fun again. Maybe not having to slog through Dhalgren has something to do with it. I am always infected by the books I'm reading and I suspect the influence of this John Adams biography is, if not more benign, then perhaps a bit less consequential.

Currently reading: John Adams - David McCullough
Current Location: Paris
Current Music: System of a Down - Innervision
08 September 2014 @ 05:12 pm
Ghosts - 9.8.14, 22:57 (local time)

New Words: 1375

Total Words: 32120

Page Count: 157

Reason for Stopping: Homework, luxury reading, sleep.

Notes: These words span a few days, some of the weekend while at Saint-Malo in Brittany. Some plot happened, some questions answered, but this first draft seems to have a lot of muddle in this part. I imagine subsequent passes will happen along the lines of clearing away some of the detritus and elaborate rubble, creating, at least for myself, some semblance of a clear path, especially because this part whip-saws so viciously back and forth chronologically. But the rest of Part II is plotted, and all that remains is to write it out. I've the scenes pretty solidly settled, and am eager for the next crack at this, as I ended the last streak right at the cusp of a really cool battle I'm excited to write. Depicting memory reconstruction has been fun to write, but dogging me is a feeling of incompleteness similar to what I think someone trying to start reading one of the numerous X-books must experience. So much backstory that's been internalized into the present storylines; so much this-is-how-to-do-this written in (canonical) science fiction, whether as regards quantum immortality, battles on a cerebral plane, monsters, telekinesis, all of that. One of the theoretical benefits to being as poorly read in the genre as I am is that I can bring a new perspective, an outsider's perspective, almost. (This doesn't seem to be playing out with terrible success in practice.) The downside is I'm the kid who shows up to the grad-level class not having done any undergraduate study in the discipline.

Anyway, none of that matters. Just need to write the book first draft I need to write.
Current Location: Paris
Current Music: Vitamin String Quartet - Bullets (String Tribute to Creed)
08 September 2014 @ 08:39 am
Dhalgren - A ReviewCollapse )
Current Location: Paris
Current Music: Vitamin String Quartet - Lacrymosa (String Tribute to Evanescence)
03 September 2014 @ 07:16 pm

I can't be the only one inordinately excited for "Nightcrawler."
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Current Location: Paris
Current Music: Jetta - I'd Love to Change the World
Ghosts - 9.2.14, 20:04 (local time)

New Words: 1888

Total Words: 31288

Page Count: 149

Reason for Stopping: Sleep. (Maybe another episode of Mad Men)

Notes: That Harlem-coffeeshop-replica on Rue Quincampoix in the 3rd seems to have given me my groove back. Being done with classes at 10am, I'm sure, helped as well.
Current Location: Paris
Current Music: Joe Budden - 5th Gear
Ghosts - 9.1.14, 23:25 (local time)

New Words: 1216

Total Words: 29400

Page Count: 140

Reason for Stopping: Apéro hour(s) with a friend and her friend, now a new friend/sleep.

Notes: The new words feel like the most sciencefictional stuff that's happened since the end of Part 1. Sure, there are cyberized folks walking around in 'shells' and people paying for things with thumbprints and eye-scans and folks in silver hair running around breaking shit, but maybe I've finally started assimilating Dhalgren. Reading it in larger chunks makes the task more bearable, but I still feel how I do about that book.

This one still feels slow, even though a bit of plot peaked its head out at the end of the segment before the scene I started to end the run.

Part of what broke me through the wall or what pulled me out of the rut was a change of scenery. The aforementioned first friend took me to a work-cafe that seemed transplanted straight from 121st and Frederick Douglass Blvd. One of those places I and a college friend of mine would hole up in to spend Sunday afternoon writing. You pay a small fee by the hour (a few euros) and have free, unfettered access to the coffee, the sweets (oh those madeleines!!!), the lemonade, the bananas, the wireless, all of it. Seemed almost too good to be true. And having that companion certainly helped, for a number of reasons, one of which was dangling at the end of the week a weekend at Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy.

Another bit of thanks should go to the commencement of classes. Had my first one today (among the longest 2 hours of my life). During a leisurely stay at a bistro with a classmate afterwards, we got to talking and the topic wandered to passions and I traced for him the course of my writing through high school, college and law school, with a brief detour into that summer in 2009 where, when all I could do was write (because I was unemployed), I was absolutely miserable. Multitudinous were the reasons for that misery, but among them was the vicious cycle that resulted from the echo-chamber. No external inputs, no classroom discussion on unrelated topics, no other cerebral tasks, no structure to squeeze the writing into, and I was lost. Now, with classes having started, I feel the novel has found me. With vengeance. It feels good to feel good about this book again.

I picked up a very kind rejection from a small press on another novel and the kindness and thoroughness of the rejection took much of the sting out. It also reminded me that with this work and with potential future work, I will likely spend much longer. The compulsion has long been to flee to Wikipedia and see how long it took (my favorite) writers to craft their work (esp. their first novels), how long was the gestation period, how long the actual writing, etc. But that is never any real measure or barometer or whatever. The novel is ready when it is ready, and I realize now that I've never known when a novel was ready, which invariably means it's not ready. Fear of being brought back to square one on a completed novel cripples the revision process, and until that fear is conquered, no novel I write will ever be ready. It's sometimes enough to make me long for the halcyon days of high school when publication was still a pipe dream and all I did was write, write. Write...
Current Location: Paris
Current Music: Disturbed - Shout2000
31 August 2014 @ 09:53 am
-- Acting French - Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic, August 29, 2014

"For carrying books in black neighborhoods, in black schools, around black people, I was called many things—nerd, bright, doofus, Malcolm, Farrakhan, Mandela, sharp, smart, airhead. I was told that my “head was too far in the clouds.” I was told that I was “going to do something one day.” But I was never called white. The people who called me a nerd were black. The people who said I was going to “do something one day” were also black. There was no one else around me, and no one else in America then cared. This was not just true of me, it was true of most black children of that era who were then, and are now, the most segregated group in this country. Segregation meant many of us had to rely on traditions closer to home."

-- How Trayvon Martin's Death Launched a New Generation of Black Activism - Mychal Denzel Smith, The Nation, August 27, 2014

"Trayvon Martin's killing deserved all of the attention it eventually received, but elevating Trayvon as a singular martyr risks portraying the struggle of this new generation of activists as the exclusive domain of black men. That would repeat the missteps of past generations. While black women were often responsible for most of the practical work involved in organizing, they were poorly represented in leadership positions, and their concerns were all too frequently sidelined."
Current Location: Paris
Current Music: Bobby Shmurda feat. Mavado, Junior Reid, Popcaan, and Jah X - Hot N*gga (Reggae Remix)