The Star Wars Virgin

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The Star Wars VirginOk, so I know I haven’t blogged in a while. Honestly, I’ve been really busy. I also haven’t had much to say. But something interesting happened today.

Earlier today a friend shared this Star Wars video with me on Facebook. It was all six Star Wars movies playing simultaneously. I thought it was kind of cool, so I reposted it. Soon afterwards I received this Facebook message from one of my closest friends. (I’ll call him “P”)

P: ooooooh. I’m sooooo renting star wars tonight.

Me: lol

P: You know I’ve never seen it.

Me: What?!? Any of them?

P: I’ve seen chunks here and there.

This really came as a surprise to hear. I remember seeing Star Wars in the theater in 1977. I loved it as soon as I heard the first downbeat of the overture. While I’m sure the sound was coming through the equivalent of an AM speaker, to me it sounded like the gates of heaven were opening.

When “Empire” came out in 1980, that led to three years worth of schoolyard speculation. There are certain things in life that can only be experienced once, and that three year cliffhanger was one of them. I’ve often wondered what it would be like to experience it again. I figured experiencing it through somebody else’s eyes would be the next best thing.

P: Here’s the question.
Should I watch them in the order they were made? Or the order of the plot?

Me: I was just wondering the same thing. I’m going to post that question on my wall for the other Star Wars nerds to comment on. Don’t worry. I won’t reveal your identity.

And so it began. I posted the question to Facebook and received some great recommendations:

Since IV and V are the only ones worth watching I’d start there.

This is tough but I am going to say plot order…. and I say this because they get better. If I were to sit down through 4 5 and 6 then get introduced to jarjar in a short period of time I might lose it.

I’d recommend 4-6 and then skipping the prequels all together. The quality of the writing takes a massive hit. The quality of everything, actually.

Then there was my personal favorite:

I think of it the same way I do the Foundation series. I think it’s important for the characters and events to grow in size and legend, so you know why leaning the history is important.

But overall, there seems to be quite a bit of support for The Machete Order. Basically, that’s IV, V, I, II, III, VI. This article explains why.

So after discussing some options with “P” he insisted I not provide any spoilers. I never realized that there might actually be spoilers to a story that’s so well known, so I asked him what he already knew.

P: Darth vader’s his dad.
Leia is somebody’s sister.
Teddy bears live in trees.
Han shot first.

Me: Do you know where “Han shot first,” came from?
(Because that’s not really a spoiler. It’s more of a culture thing.)

P: There’s a poker game or something and an alien starts a fight. Only originally he didn’t start the fight, he just pissed Han off and he shot him
I mean, I’ve see the Family Guy star wars episode and that kind of stuff.

Me: OMG. This is like one of those interviews where you ask a seven year old boy to tell you about kissing.

P: I hate you.

Me: LOLOLOLOLOL!!!!
I’m having too much fun at your expense. I’m sorry.

P: no, it’s fair. I opened myself up to it.

Yes. You did open yourself up to it, P. And now you’re the subject of a blog post (as I mentioned you would be.)
So stay tuned. I’ll be posting P’s reactions to the movies one at a time – including the order in which he chose to view them. At least he understands it’s not an easy task to become Star Wars educated.

P: one does not simply walk into … Tatuine.

Me: Tattooine.

Me: You have much to learn, my padawan. (Including the definition of “padawan.”)
Nice mashup of Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, btw.

P: I’ve never seen Lord of the Rings.

Me: Dear God. Are you living under a rock?
I’m turning you into a sci-fi/fantasy case study. There are going to be actual medical journals written about you.

P: I have a bad feeling about this.

Why do I create?

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Although I love writing, I make a living as a graphic and web designer.

I was at a local graphic designer’s social mixer last night. These gatherings occur semi-frequently to encourage networking and idea sharing. Since I’m always on the lookout for new clients and new ideas, I was handing out business cards and getting to know people.

My business card has a rather unique shape for a business card; it’s a 2.75″ diameter circle. I designed it to attract attention and it does its job well. I’ve grown accustomed to getting some kind of comment as people realize I’m handing them a business card and not a plastic-laminated coaster. I’m not ashamed to admit that I look forward to the attention my card gets. It’s nice to be noticed.

One of my encounters this particular evening was with a software developer. We exchanged handshakes, stole glances at each others’ name tags, and casually exchanged business cards. When I handed my card to my new acquaintance, however, I was surprised at his reaction. He turned it over in his hand and read the front and back. Instead of making a comment about the card’s unique shape, he looked me straight in the eye and asked me what I do.

I admit I was a bit taken aback. “What do you mean, ‘What do you do?'” I thought. “You just read my card. I’ve taken the liberty of printing it for you.” Not really expecting the question, I didn’t have a response. I mentally listed ways of describing what I do without making him feel like an idiot.

My response came unnaturally. “I design; I create.”

“Why do you create?” he asked; a second unexpected question.

“I don’t know,” I answered. “I’ve never really thought about it. It’s what I love to do and it’s what I do.”

Not wanting to be rude (and not wanting to look like an idiot myself) I casually steered the conversation back on him and we went on to discuss the merits of web apps versus downloadable apps on mobile devices.

Our conversation was interrupted by a presentation and we went our separate ways afterwards – handing out business cards and shaking hands. Our dance was over and it was time to switch partners. But my mind lingered on his question.

Why do I create?

 

 

Where have I been?

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Yes, I know it’s been a while since I’ve written here.

 

No, I don’t know why that’s the case.

 

Yes, I’ve still been working on my short stories.

 

Yes, you might see them here.

 

No, I don’t know when I’ll post them.

No shovel required

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Growing up in South Florida I never entertained the possibility of snow on Christmas Day. It just didn’t happen. Every Christmas I remember was accompanied by the gentle hum of our central air conditioner turning on at some point. That’s just the way Florida winters were. I do remember the occasional cold night. My mother would cover me with an extra blanket and turn on the heater. “Stay warm,” she would say. “It’s supposed to get down to forty tonight.”

So this past Christmas Eve when the streets were clear and the grass was visible, I didn’t really notice that it hadn’t snowed yet this year. The forty degree heat wave felt just like Christmas to me. My oldest son thought differently though. His lone Facebook post on Christmas Eve read, “lost all hope of having snow on christmas :(“. This, of course, allowed me to spring into one of my favorite pastimes: a rousing rendition of, “Why, when I was your age…”

He was legitimately upset and didn’t find my game very amusing. I tried to introduce some levity to help ease his mood. I suggested we get a wood chipper and blow hard cheese on the front yard like they did in “Merry Christmas, Drake & Josh” but he didn’t like that idea. I also suggested we move Christmas back a month when our chances of snow would be increased, but of course that would mean a delay in presents so that idea flopped too. The only thing we could do would be to celebrate Christmas without snow, which of course we did.

All in all, it was a good Christmas – even without the snow. The kids got what they wanted with a few extra surprises thrown in and we had family and friends drop in throughout the day.

This evening, I took my son out to do some clothes shopping with some of his Christmas money. School starts back tomorrow and he needed some long sleeve shirts. As we were walking from the mall to our car, snow started falling. “There’s your Christmas snow,” I said.

“It’s no fun when the first snow is after Christmas,” he replied.

“So was it a good Christmas anyway?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he replied. “I guess so.”

That’s about as deep as a young teenager gets, so I took it as a good sign. When we got home I jumped onto Facebook to see what was new. I was greeted with this recent status update: “snow isnt any good if its like a week AFTER christmas >:(”

Listen, kid, when I  was your age…

I resolve not to resolve

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Everybody talks about the ups and downs of New Year’s resolutions, but comments are rarely  made without somebody talking about how they’re frequently broken. One of my favorite New Year’s quotes is by Mark Twain:

“New Year’s Day: Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.”

I can’t count the number of times I’ve begun a New Year with resolutions to lose weight, clean up after myself regularly, finish that book I started a hundred times, or just be a “better person” (how vague is that one?). Time and experience have shown me that no matter what kind of New Year’s resolution I set I’m going to break it. I’m still overweight, I still leave piles of paperwork laying around, and I currently have bookmarks in no fewer than three books. The “better person” resolution? Dunno. My wife hasn’t left me yet and my kids still give me hugs, so I guess I’m doing ok there. Although that reminds me of another quote by one of my favorite dead people, Ben Franklin:

“Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man.”

I can probably handle that one. But since I hit forty this past year I should probably throw in this quote by André Gide as well:

“But can one still make resolutions when one is over forty? I live according to twenty-year-old habits.”

So anyway, I think I’ve decided not to make any resolutions for the new year. I’ll just stick with my process of trying to be a better person. But this year I’m going to do it a little bit differently. Instead of trying to eliminate my flaws I think I’m going to follow the advice of Ellen Goodman:

“We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives… not looking for flaws, but for potential.”

May 2012 be the year of recognized potential for us all.

Happy New Year

This post has no title. (Ok. I guess it does NOW, but… Oh never mind.)

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The most challenging part about being a creative individual isn’t knowing what to create, but rather finding the time to create. This blog was originally intended as a way for me to keep writing, but it has obviously fallen by the wayside.

For the past few months I’ve been focusing much of my time on running my design business. I’ve got a family to feed. No, writing is not my “main thing.” I’m not even sure I would want it to be. But it is a big thing for me.

So what’s the point of this blog post?

Nothing, really. It had just been too long since I had posted something and I figured I probably should.

By the way, I hope to get back to finishing up both of my book projects soon. “Eileen” is (for the most part) complete. And the Psychic Joker series is still somewhere on my hard drive – the next installment also mostly complete. I just have to force a few hours into my week to actually move them from the “Mostly Complete” column into the “Complete” column.

Gateway hits Amazon

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Wow. That title could really be read wrong, couldn’t it?

Oh well. I’m not changing it now. If it brought you to this blog post then it’ll bring others too.

Anyway, it’s official. I’ve written a book and self-published it. My mother is proud of me. I even have proof in the form of the Facebook comments and the fact that she sent me a copy of the receipt when she purchased her own copy. I’m pretty sure she was my first customer too.

So here’s your chance to be just as awesome as my mom and buy a copy of “Gateway”. It’s inexpensive, and I’ve been told (even by people who don’t HAVE to be nice) that it’s a pretty good read.

If you don’t love it, please let me know. As nice as it is to get compliments, constructive criticism is really the only thing that makes any of us better – right?

Oh yeah – the link: http://amzn.to/rcD2ib 

It’s in the Amazon Kindle store, but you don’t need a Kindle to read it. There’s a Kindle App for PC and Mac, plus any smartphone or tablet.

So… This was the official announcement. Sorry there wasn’t a band playing or free cookies.

I should probably put a picture or something here now. Call it a teaser for Book Two. I should have that one ready within a few weeks.

Gateway – Book One in The Psychic Joker Series

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Well, it’s official.

As of about ten minutes ago, I have completed my first book. It’s a novella of just over 20,000 words that will be the first in a series of novellas about the The Psychic Joker.  I’ll be spending the next few days learning how to convert it into a solid e-book format and should have it on the Amazon Kindle store shortly thereafter.

The process took a little longer than expected. Although the story was completed about six months ago, I didn’t want to rush directly into publication. I wanted to make sure the story was solid and was readable. I have to extend a very special thank you to my wife, Lisa, for her invaluable encouragement, input, patience, and editing skills. Without her the idea would still be a story rattling around in my head.

As a bit of a teaser, I’ll include an excerpt at the end of this post. The picture you see here is what I’ve come up with for a front cover. I hope you enjoy the teaser, and I hope you buy a copy of the book. It won’t be expensive, I promise.

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Chapter 2 (excerpt)

Inside the envelope was what at first appeared to be a blank sheet of paper. But as I held it in my hands, strange writings and symbols began to materialize on the page. I first thought I saw some Egyptian hieroglyphs. Then they began to melt away only to be replaced by what appeared to be Chinese. After a brief moment, the Chinese characters melted into what I believe was some form of cuneiform. Cuneiform became Arabic. Arabic became Hebrew. Hebrew became Cyrillic. And then the Cyrillic turned into the more familiar Roman alphabet. As I began to focus on what I believed to be Latin, it quickly became German and then English. I waited for a moment or two before I realized that the show was over.

Rather than read what was printed on the page I folded the paper again, placed it back into the envelope, and put the envelope back into my pocket. I then retrieved the envelope, re-opened it, and expected to see the strange metamorphosis again. Nothing happened. The words on the page were frozen in plain English. A little upset that the magic didn’t repeat itself, I began to read.

Dear sir,

Please accept this note as my most sincere appreciation for your honesty. I understand the temptation to keep my book must have been very great as it is likely worth a large sum of money. Please know that this book means more to me than any amount of money. The fact that you willingly returned it shows that you have a great deal of integrity and that integrity will be rewarded.

Tomorrow morning at nine o’clock sharp, please meet me at the exact location where you are sitting right now. Do not bring anything except yourself – no recording devices, no telephone or communication device of any kind, and no paper or writing implements. Do not tell any one about this note or our meeting tomorrow. Wear unassuming clothing – no jewelry, no watch, not even a ring.

If you are unable to keep this appointment I will hold no ill will against you and you will not hear from me again. I am looking for somebody very specific and I believe you are the person for whom I have been searching.

Until then–

There was no signature. I reread the note at least a dozen times. I looked at the back of the page expecting to find some sort of elaborate device that could make it do the crazy “dance of languages” it had done when I first opened it, but it was just blank paper. I didn’t know what to think. Who wrote this note? Who was this “somebody very specific” the writer was hoping to find? Surely it couldn’t have been me. I was just some amateur magician who happened to be unemployed trying to land a job – or perform at a kid’s birthday party for some extra cash. The strange coincidences that had brought me here were about as random as they could be. And how would he know where I would open the note? How could any of this be happening?