sunday special: podcast

Looks like I’m leaving my most-regular RPG campaign right in the early-middle of its second season.

I’m trying to get some other shit going with a regular in-person game of friends playing something we’ve all decided upon. Monster of the Week I got into because it was a schedule-friendly PbtA experience. Things have changed quite a bit in my life since then, (let alone my RPG hobby of roughly 1 year).

Things continue to change, with the redistribution of digital content only in its nascent stages. That is to say, twitter poems, wordpress stories, instagram sketches, and some kind of sound thing. Maybe a podcast, or 30 second songs once a week.

Re: podcast. I’m thinking highly informal, street interviews of nameless Torontonians. Entirely contextual, open questions with conversational follow-ups. A few minutes to rant or describe their life, share an anecdote, whatever. It’s a podcast they’ve never heard of (doesn’t yet exist) and would have, I hope, no bearing upon anybody’s life.

Rather, we’d have to have a release form, so we’d have to have their name and signature. Wouldn’t have to broadcast either, though.

And then a sketch to go alongside, as the episode art. Local Toronto music for intro/outro, put out a few minutes a week.

Tougher in winter months but not impossible.

Or maybe it’s a 25 minute episode once a month? Hard to say. Multiday process, gathering interviews, then editing. Would require one additional piece of gear, too: the field recorder. Amazon, meet Mastercard. Christ!

So if that sounds like something you’d like to see (hear), leave a comment below! Tell me what you like and what you don’t, I’m interested.

sunday special: next week is something different

next week is something different, the first hint of a story, told in parts
basically trying to ape the five act structure across five days’ worth of posts
but the five days isn’t nearly enough either, of course, so it’s just the first tiny piece of what I imagine could develop into an ongoing narrative
this will have semi-gonzo rpg-esque elements I hope. I should add some description to the characters, but in theory I’d like these to be able to go out as tweets. Definitely can’t do that, though, as the first and shortest part is at present 363 characters. So make of that what you will — it’ll be a short entry each day, contributing to a larger, ongoing goal.
stick with me, folks. I hope you like it.
Thanks for reading.

PS I’ve decided to call this series A Sprawling Place (for purposes of tagging, organization, etc) which is nice and vague, while at the same time still conjuring something of the effect I hope to impart. forgive my free-wheeling ramblings; it’s Sunday. tune in tomorrow for the first entry in A Sprawling Place.

sunday special: composition

Not enough of my time is spent in composition. Too much is spent in preparing that which *is* composed for online publication. I write with an ancient acer netbook which has trouble connecting to wordpress on a good day — not to mention the hoops of tags and scheduling the posts properly and so forth. So this is a rant about that, a quick blurb about why this blog has been inactive for three (!!!) months. Some more junk oughta be appearing over the next while, at least.

I’ve been super into RPGs of late — reading them, reading about them, occasionally playing them. I would like to get a standing, weekly group together for a fairly gonzo adventure, blending elements from across time and space. I’d use simple rules (ICRPG, anyone?), with a yes-and or no-but mentality, as best I could. Alas, I haven’t yet. I’m a player in two separate campaigns and my work schedule demands unfavourable hours. All the same, I’m sure I could make it happen with the right group. The downside is I want to play in person, and my friends don’t live in St James Town, for the most part. Only my best friend, and she works 60 hour weeks.

Alas and alack, the tribulations of the burgeoning nerd.

sunday special: a couple of extemporaneous book reviews

Hey folks,

This week I read Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation, a weird and exciting mix of Lovecraft and Camus. A novel of exploration, tension, and transformation, it comes in at a tense 200~ pages. So gripping was the story that I finished it in a day. Our protagonist, known only as “the biologist,” is opaque and unknowable — perfectly befitting the warped world of Area X. I highly recommend the book — the recent film adaptation, not so much.

Beyond that, I also read CP Boyko’s Novelists, a collection of short stories united in its exploration of various (fictional) novelists and their peculiarities. The book is funny, biting, and sharply written — in particular I found many of his similes exceptionally apt. The book is short, also — around 200 pages — and seems to get better and better as it goes. The final story, about a ludicrous literary prize selection committee, recalls 12 Angry Men, and reveals that many of the stories in this volume take place in the same persistent universe. Great book, would recommend.

Sunday Special: Nanowrimo 2017

Well folks, it’s over: my very first Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) experience has come to a close. I penned the final 1,000 words on November 30th, which brought my final total to just over 53,000 for the entire draft one manuscript. My first novel.

I tackled the project on a whim, deciding to attempt the challenge in the evening hours of October 31st. Heedless of potential complications in my already-busy life, I hastily drafted a beat-by-beat outline, according to the Save the Cat structure, from Blake Synder, which is both popular and reviled in Hollywood at present. As such, the structure is intended primarily for feature-length screenplays; all the same, I adapted it for the meta-structure of the novel. The plot is straightforward, to say the least, conforming to standard 3-act structure throughout. Thus, the outline was completed.

From there, I outlined each day’s work with another tool: Dan Harmon’s concept of the Story Circle, which was conceived primarily for recurring television episodes. All the same, I used the Story Circle to plan each of the 30 days’ worth of writing. I divided the eight segments of the Circle by the 1,667 word target for the day, which gave me a basic layout for events, and helped to drive inspiration when I was stuck. I found I could usually squeeze out a few more words to reach the next milestone, which kept me on track.

As a result, I hope the draft is decently strong, structurally, and offers a rollercoaster effect in the reading, where challenge is routinely met and conquered as the stakes of the piece grow.

Of course, this is all merely hypothetical: I haven’t read a word of the novel yet. I’m letting it stew, now, backed up and safe, while I address my chronically-neglected blog. As the holidays really get into gear, I’ll come back to the draft, and give it a read. Already, I have in mind a subplot I’d like to weave through the main story, which would strengthen one of the principals significantly, while also adding as much as 30,000 words to the total draft. This idea will also stew, and I’ll consider it for January, when I anticipate beginning my next major project.

If you have any questions about Nanowrimo, please leave a comment!

sunday special – meditation

sunday special – meditation

So I’ve been meditating every day for about 11 weeks now, if my streak counter on Habitica (more on that another time, perhaps) is correct. 78 days at the time of this writing. I started at 20 minutes, and have since increased it to 23:30, via a timer on my phone, which, incidentally, is set to an alarm with a gradual increase in volume, so I’m not shot out of my seat when the thing goes off.

It started out difficult. Sitting still for the whole 20 minutes wasn’t a given, and my mind raced from topic to topic like a rat king of fibre optic cables. Gradually, with persistence, things improved. I’m more limbre cross-legged, I think my back muscles have toughened from keeping me (mostly) upright, and I rarely break form to check how long is on the timer (I did this a lot in the beginning).

I’m working the timer up closer to 30 minutes over the next few months, just to extend the experience. I wonder about doing two sessions a day, of 15-20 minutes each, morning and night, as Transcendental Meditation recommends, but I haven’t been doing mantra meditation (where in your head you repeat a syllable or two – “Om” being the familiar classic to the West), which is what TM is; I’m doing something more like Thich Nhat Hahn‘s mindfulness, monitoring my breathing, in, out, in a cycle, finding the space between the thoughts. I try to wear “a hint of a smile” while I do it, and though still the thought-chains bloom, they’re muted, less substantial. I get less attached to them, and I don’t mind letting them go. When I recognize a thought-chain has begun, that I’m a train’s unwitting passenger, I bring myself back to my breath, in, out.

Any other effects so far? I feel I’m a more pleasant person, less prone to negativity in general. Perhaps that’s a big claim for a beginner meditator but studies exist showing greater competencies of “calm” w/ long-term meditators, so perhaps there’s a beginner’s luck facet to it.

The practice is not always easy but it is always practice. It’s a skill, and I’ve come to enjoy learning it. At times it can feel like a chore to pull out the cushion and block out some time and just sit, but when I’m in there, and after I’m done, I feel content satisfaction that the right thing was done, that the practice – even ritual – was observed, and that, for a time at least, I could rest.

I’ve found it best to meditate in the morning, as part of my morning routine. That way it’s built into the day in a prime location, and I’m less prone to leaving it ’til late at night (which can be enjoyable, though I find it more difficult).

If this all sounds esoteric and estranging, don’t fear. At its core meditation is just sitting quietly, without getting attached to any one thought. Observing them as they come and go, as the only constant is the endless cycle of the breath. This still seems ambiguous so perhaps my explication is imperfect but what I recommend is just trying it. Set an alarm for 5 minutes, even, and sit, on a cushion, a chair, or lie down on your back, eyes open or closed, whatever you like, and just sit. (Alternatively try a guided meditation. There’s a million online and I’ve tried a few. I like them but for my daily practice I do as above.)

Meditation is calming, restful, and its own kind of fun. My meditation practice has only just begun, and I’m eager to see where it goes.

Logan Bright

sunday special – vegan 1 year

sunday special – vegan 1 year

One year of pretty well pure veganism has elapsed. I’m not sure of the date but it was somewhere in the 12-15 range of June 2016. I took a class on the anthropology of food. Learned a lot about cultural construction of food choices, food v non-food varying in time and place, etc. Near the end we watched some of Food Inc, which I’d seen before, and it occurred to me, watching the pigs struggle, that we make choice upon choice. Every little decision counts. And if I just started eating vegan, I’d be vegan. The idea of no longer being complicit in flagrant torture of intelligent species, while helping to protect the environment as a whole, appealed to me.

This isn’t totally true, though, or rather, not so pure as I’d like to pretend. The cat’s still a carnivore, and she’s eating the same brand of food (which has recently decreased its bag size, and also its price, but not commensurate with the size reduction) she has since I got her, full of eggs, seafood (daily essential mercury) and a bit of fruit/veg (15%), no grains. Not exactly my diet these days. I figure for the cat one must make an exception, though at times I struggle with the idea of confining her – studies show zoo animals grow bored and stupid; one has to assume that applies to indoor cats as well – but of course she’s a member of the family, aging, beloved; she must continue with the high-brow food she’s almost always known.

Otherwise things have been good. I’m more amenable to improvisation when faced with a challenge; lots of salad w/ balsamic or a heap of fries will do me fine in the worst cases. There’s decent vegan food around the city – incl. near-ubiquitous Harvey’s and Pizza Pizza – and junk food at any corner store.

I’m cooking much more often than I ever did. Pressure cooker beans and pulses, grains of all kinds, KALE. There’s a lot of great food out there and I’m trying to learn it. Turmeric in everything, incl. the bread we bake.
I still have and wear leather goods, but I haven’t acquired any since the decision, and won’t. I have one X% merino wool sweater from Costco that I received as a gift at the holidays and it still has the tag on it, just breathing slowly in the depths of my cock-eyed dresser drawer. I want to return it but don’t want to raise a fuss w/ my folks; nor do I want to go out to Costco. So it seethes.

So being free (mostly) of complicity with torture for the sake of my own fleeting, vacuous pleasure, and the side effect benefits for combating climate change, make this a pleasant choice. I would recommend it to anybody in any measure. You don’t have to go as strongly as I did – meatless Monday is great. Start there.

To all of my friends and family, who have been unanimously supportive, I say thanks. After a year I can say that it’s really not so hard as it (maybe) seems.

Logan Bright