2011, an introspective retrospective

Well, 2011 is almost over, and in the last month my world had been upended faster than anything that happened over the course of the rest of the year. I lost my job, the wonderful owners of the Greek deli by my (now old) work are retiring after over thirty years in their incredibly delicious business, and the yoga center by my house is closing after what I can only assume were financial hardships brought upon by Groupon. All of this happened in December. Much of my old routine no longer exists, and, in a strange twist, my new routine is very similar to my old old routine — I’m going to school and not working. The only difference is that I will be getting unemployment while not working this time around (and my financial aid is a lot more than it was when I was an undergrad).

It’s a funny thing, to take a relatively arbitrary means of establishing time and use it to figure out if you had a good or bad time during that time. I’ve been alive almost 29 years now and every year I try to think back and wonder if I had a good time or not. I think I’m kind of an accidental Buddhist. A lot of people are stuck in the past, or fantasize about the future, but I’m pretty okay being in the present. So when I try to think back on 2011, I can’t ultimately say if it was a good year or a shitty year. Am I happy? Not really. My current circumstances are lacking in something that I don’t quite understand yet. But happiness isn’t something you should try to maintain for such a long period of time. People who pursue happiness like that are doomed to never see happiness when it arrives. (On the other hand, people who pursue despair find it in abundance. Funny how that works.)

Am I content? Yeah. Of course! I have a roof over my head, clean water, food when I want it, a delightful woman who enjoys sharing her time with me, and, of course, the internet and enough money to furnish my new computer building hobby. I have no reason to be unhappy in a general sense. Specifically, yes, there are aspects of my life that I wish I could make better. I wish I had as much control over my impulses. Being caught in the present makes for awful choices sometimes. I wish I could save money. I want to lose weight. There are a lot of t-shirts in my closet that I just can’t wear anymore, and it’s getting to a point where I can either buy new shirts, or lose weight, and I’d like to do the latter.

I also feel creatively stagnant, so I’d like to work on that. I have to just create things, even if they suck. Part of the process is honing your skills so that you get better. You can’t get better if you don’t try. Be prepared to fail. I have to be prepared to fail and possibly be humiliated. It happens. Welcome to the world. You can’t spend your entire life not trying to be the best you can be. The best for you, I should add. You don’t have to be the best for anybody but you. Don’t spend your life trying to please others, just please yourself and that will please others.

Anyway, I’ve thought a lot about this blog recently, because I started it three years ago in response to having graduated college and not having a job. It became an outlet for ideas and thoughts that were stuck in my brain. Over the course of time I moved to Portland, found a job, and became entrenched in the “new old routine” of going to work full time every day for three years. My creativity waned to the point of near non-existence; every February my FAWM1 output has declined, and now I don’t even write or record music anymore. Obviously these blog posts have been more infrequent, not because I couldn’t write them — I had the time — but because I didn’t want to. I had no energy, no desire. No passion. I spent three years making money, and I came out of it with nothing but money. I’m not really depressed about the whole thing, just more in shock: what did I do with my life? Why did I allow myself to stagnate? Why did I not grasp the multiple opportunities around me, in this bigger city where no one knows who I am? I could’ve done just about anything, but instead I took the first job I got and ran with it for too long. Again, not depressed about it. I mean, it helped pay for rent and food and water and warmth, and even more on top of that. It allowed me to travel back to Boise and see my friends, to attend concerts and movies, and to buy parts for my new computer. My job didn’t buy me happiness, but it did allow me to purchase things that would bring happiness. And that was good enough. For a while.

But! Now I’m in graduate school, and I have no job, and I hope that the money that I have and the money I will get through unemployment insurance will be enough to sustain me until I graduate. But since I have a little more time on my hands I figured I would make one of those New Years Resolutions and state right here, right now, that I intend to write more in this blog. Every weekday, in fact. Monday through Friday. Maybe even Saturday or Sunday! Who knows! Every day will have a different topic, cleverly alliterated for your enjoyment: Music Monday, Tech Tuesday, Weigh in Wednesday, Theatre Thursday, and Fiction Friday. Monday I will post a song or two that I’ve been enjoying lately; Tuesday I will update the world on my computer builds, or some new thing I learned or was interested in, etc; Wednesday I will update my goal of losing weight and getting in shape over 2012 (obviously I will weigh myself every Wednesday, hence the title); Thursday I will review a play I saw or read; and Friday I will post a bit of fiction that I wrote, whether it be a play, short story, or ongoing serial. I might include a Special Topics Saturday or Sunday just because I like to talk about video games, but there is no day of the week that starts with V (not in English, at least).

Yes, I am doing this. Yes, I am starting this Monday. I may even do podcasts for Saturday. Yes, I will be doing this while attending graduate school, so if I slip every now and then, it’s because I’m writing essays about Plautus2. But hopefully I can buffer by writing posts on the weekend and queuing them up. Whatever! I’m going to do it.

My three main goals for 2012 are the following:

1. Return to my undergrad weight and toning: 215 lbs (at least. I’d like to go further than this).

2. Write the aforementioned blog posts. Be on time with them as much as I can.

3. Be more creative. Write music, write stories and plays and poems.

And all I ask of you is to read, enjoy, comment, and maybe give me a hundred dollars. Is that so much to ask?!

Hope you all have a fantastic New Year. Let’s have some fun before the Mayan calendar ends and we all die in the horribly fiery death maw of the World Eater, Xtloclixtli.

  1. February Album Writing Month
  2. Got help me if I have to write essays about Plautus.

welcome to podcastdome

Yeah, that’s right. A Mad Max reference, right out of the gate.

he's hammering an ipod. YOU GET IT?

So I just wanted to give you the heads up that I have moved, yes, moved my podcasting duties to another part of the site. In a subdomain! How quaint. It’s all compiled and I’ve called it The Podcastery because I don’t think anyone’s done that before, hold on, let me check… oh well about 5,000 hits on Google, that’s not too bad! But their use of the word is more like “chicanery,” whereas mine is more like a noun. Like, “Here is the podcastery, please do not break it,” etc. So in that case, I win. I’ve won the whole thing.

Anyway, 5@5 and Josh Belville, PI season two1 will be updated there, as well as a third podcast which is called, surprisingly enough, “The Podcastery.” I don’t know what it’ll be about. It may be me rambling for an hour. Half hour. Fifteen minutes. Maybe I will only update it while I’m on the shitter, I DON’T KNOW. What I do know is this, and I will separate this out using a colon and a new paragraph just to make it special:

You should subscribe to these podcasts. When you go to podcast.zornog.net, there’s an RSS button over there. SUBSCRIBE! I don’t have an iTunes subscribe button because you know, I figured that since 5@5 uses unlicensed music, maybe it wasn’t a good idea to pimp it out on a program that sells music. I could be wrong! Team of lawyers in my basement, get on this.

I promise to be a little more lively on my 5@5 podcasts. I did this last week on Saturday morning, which was a Bad Idea. Also, if my college voice coach is reading this: Enunciate. I know. Oh lord do I know.

I promise that a second season of Josh Belville, PI will exist. Maybe in the summertime? We shall see.

And I promise that The Podcastery will be entertaining enough that you won’t throw a brick at your computer screen. So stop Craiglisting for “free bricks” (unless you’re building a chimney, in which case, continue).

OH ONE MORE THING: I have a new website design that I like totally almost ready to go, ohmygod.

But now I sleep. Fun things coming to the website. I promise to blog more, too! So many promises!

  1. WHENEVER THAT IS.

adventures in podcasting

Imagine if the movie Adventures in Babysitting was called Adventures in Podcasting. Imagine how terrible that movie would be.

So I’ve started a podcast, that will begin as a “test week” this Monday. It’s called 5@5, and its premise is simple: I play five songs and the podcast is posted at 5:00pm PST. I also give myself a five minute intro, where I talk about the songs and whatever crosses my mind, and then I play the song, with no breaks or banter in between. That’s it.

If this sounds like a Neat Thing, then I suggest you take a listen. For legal reasons, I will not be putting this podcast on iTunes, though I suppose if you are technologically savvy you can put it there yourself, yeah?1 It will hopefully be updated Monday through Friday, though depending on what my future plans are for podcasting are, it could become a weekly thing or whatever.

A couple of things I’ve noticed:

1. These first five test episodes will have some buzz during my intro because I left a guitar cable plugged into my preamp. *sunglasses drop from the sky onto my face* DEAL WITH IT.

2. Apparently, in Winamp, if you tag your mp3 with the genre “podcast,” Winamp automagically thinks it’s a podcast and thus will start the podcast from wherever you left off. That is cool!

3. I love rambling!

If you enjoy this podcast, please let me know! You can email me, comment below, talk to me through Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Buttler, Tumbutt, Bumblr, Junglr, Dangle, Dongle, or Diggbutt, or Deliciousbutt. Whatever. Do what makes you happy.

OH AND JOSH BELVILLE PI CONTINUES ON MONDAY TOO! SO MUCH STUFF TO LISTEN TO!

  1. I can do it on Winamp through the RSS feed. I think all you need is an RSS feed. Isn’t that a Beatles song?

a new album?!!!

So here’s my thing:

I’ve got about ten tracks, written during FAWM 2010, that rock, and I am putting them into an album for you, the reader and eventual listener, to enjoy.  The album is tentatively titled Last Night in America, and will be released sometime in January 2011.  Here’s the tracklist:

01. Saturday
02. Tumbler of Love
03. Listen (is This the End?)
04. Last Night in America
05. Row You Row Your Boat
06. Maybe Not
07. Back Where We Started
08. I Give Up1
09. Counting the Days
10. Listen, This is the End

(You should think of the album like a vinyl, with two sides, 1-5 is side A and 6-10 is side B.)

I don’t have cover art or even finally mixed tracks (I have to redo the bass parts with the actual bass I now have, instead of pitch-shifting my guitar down an octave), but I’m shooting for a release date of January 25, 2011.

The rest of the year will, hopefully, see the release of three more albums (one every three months or so) as I clean out my back catalog of material.  I have a lot of stuff I’d like to get out there for you to hear, it’s just a matter of preparation!  Each album will have a totally different feel from the last.

Anyway, stay tuned to this blog for more updates on Last Night in America and other music news.  In the meantime, why not take a stroll down my Bandcamp (that sounds naughty) and listen to some of my other stuff? Yeah? You like that?  Yeah, you like that.

  1. A Cow Exchange cover.

omg you guys. o. m. g.

I finally, finally, finally, after months and months and months, redid my website design.  Sort of.  I just widened it and updated the writing and links section.  And got rid of the comics section, since I don’t do that anymore.  But it looks a lot better!  I forget that a lot of people have big monitors now with high resolutions, so having a larger website is kind of necessary.

The writing section is now full of things you can actually read, rather than bits of text that were supposed to become links but did nothing of the sort.  I even included all of my plays that I’ve written.  While I’d rather them be in some Samuel French book, this will do for now.  I want people to read my work and respond to it, and that’s hard to do for me right now, being in this city and not really knowing a lot of theatre people.

The only thing I need to do now is make up a new image logo at top. I’m still using the old one and as you can see, there’s a lot of white (or gray) space to the right.  Oh well.  I just wanted to get the damn thing coded and updated before I worked on a new image.  Maybe I’ll get inspired again, like I did today.  God, it feels good to finish this damn thing.

My inspiration came from the fact that StumbleUpon somehow got ahold of the martainrandom roommate story I’ve had on my site for years.  In the  month of November (so far) I’ve had over 40,000 visits.  My bandwidth is way over but my webmaster is being awesome and not shutting it down.

I guess if this thing goes crazy viral I’ll have to take it down, just to conserve my bandwidth.  Plus you never know if those Something Awful goons will come find me and issue a cease and desist letter.  Still, most people will enjoy this story but never be on the SA forums ever, so maybe it’s a good thing.

Either way, that’s my update for you all.  I wish that I had the time or energy to update this blog for realz, but honestly, I’ve been really boring lately.  Except we got kittens.  But that requires an epic level blog post, because our kittens are EPIC.

So do yourself a favor and check the site out, read some stuff, let me know what you think about it.  I’ll be back with another blog post soon, I promise!