Friday Flotsum

  1. So, my plans to blog more often have been flogging a little. See, I actually have some stress / emotional problems that I’m working through, so my resolutions don’t always translate to reality. I think I’m getting better, though; slowly but surely.
  2. One of those problems? Insomnia. Which is why I’m writing this at 8 AM after going to bed at midnight and mostly just dozing.
  3. As far as the Noblesnake video reviews go, I delayed the Zulu review because I wasn’t very satisfied with how Land Before Time turned out and wanted to rethink my approach. I’m making the videos shorter, more condensed (i.e. I don’t talk about everything; just the main points), and I talk a lot faster. I’m already much happier with Zulu, and that should be released sometime this weekend once I finish editing.
  4. Working on a few spec essays: one idea I’m working on drawing out is that the modern world is not fundamentally different from the past. That is, socially and structurally it’s different, but the basic elements aren’t. Computers, for instance, are, at the end of the day, nothing more than complicated printing presses with extra features. The only difference between sending someone a letter and sending them a message on Twitter is how long it takes. I think understanding this is fundamental for escaping the pitfalls of modern life.
  5. Last week’s episode of My Little Pony was really good. We’ve had a streak of mostly very strong episodes lately, but this one was extra specially charming. The stories they tell were great (Rarity’s was my favorite), it had a good lesson about making the best of adversity, and Rainbow Dash in particular was in top form throughout.  Rainbow_Dash_tenderly_picks_up_Scootaloo_S7E16.png
  6. After the cuteness, let’s have some beauty to close us out:
    The Empty Chair

    “The Empty Chair” by Sir Samuel Luke Fildes

     

Saturday Sundry

  • Publishing of my new book, The Wisdom of Walt Disney is planned for sometime next week. I originally planned to publish it this week, but needed more time for editing and such.
  • I’ve had a notion that I’ve been trying to make into a suitable essay: this increasing insanity we see in public discourse is partly a manifestation of the style of thinking that we’ve been taught in our school system. You see, our schools, by and large, don’t teach us to actually think or reason logically. Instead, we’re told (in essence), “this is the right answer. This is the wrong answer. Good people pick the right answer, bad people pick the wrong one.” Tell me that the vast majority of issues presented to the public aren’t presented in this kind of ‘right-answer-wrong-answer” pattern: Global Warming, same-sex marriage, ‘Transgender’ rights, racism, ‘Islamophobia,’ and on and on.
  • Planning to do the videos about every two weeks. Hopefully the next one will go a little easier, since Land Before Time was a lot of work. And I’ve discovered that years as a bitter recluse have left my voice a little…off. Maybe it’s just me, but recording’s kinda difficult, and I think I sound strange. Anyway, I’ll announce what the next film to be reviewed will be early this week.
  • I finished reading The Count of Monte Cristo this week. It was about mid-way through that I realized “Wait a second: this a book where the hero is a Bond villain!” Think about it; he’s got his secret island lair, unfathomable riches, a beautiful mistress/henchwoman, exotic henchmen, untraceable poisons, and he’s an urbane, sophisticated man enacting an elaborate scheme of vengeance. Absolute Bond villain!
  • And a little beauty to finish up:
Giotto_Polittico-Baroncelli_Firenze-Santa-Croce

-Polittico Baroncelli, by Giotto

Friday Flotsam

 

  1. Been hard at work on the Project, so this week’s Flotsam is going be all about updating on that.
  2. The plan, at the moment, is that the video series Noble Snake Reviews will launch a week from today (that will be Friday, August 11). I’ll announce the film to be reviewed beforehand, but suffice to say, it’s one I have a special bond with.
  3. The idea for the videos is to have a semi-animated serpentine avatar to serve as my ‘face,’ while I narrate my thoughts, with footage from the film projected into a theater screen behind him. So, there will be a visual component to the reviews as well as a vocal one, allowing me to incorporate some visual humor. Keeping with the ‘Noble’ part of the title, there will be no swearing or crude language, though I’m trying to include a lot of deadpan humor. Here’s a preview of what it’ll look like: Screen Shot 2017-08-04 at 8.45.04 PM.png
  4. Meanwhile, I’m tentatively planning to launch the book, The Wisdom of Walt Disney, a week later on August 18.
  5. Status update on the book: thus far, I’m more or less satisfied with the essays on Pinocchio, Fantasia, Song of the South, Treasure Island, Cinderella, and 20,000 Leagues Under the SeaSnow White, Bambi, Old Yeller, and Sleeping Beauty still need work, and Swiss Family Robinson and Mary Poppins I haven’t started. This was not just an excuse to list the films that will be discussed in the book.
  6. By the way, the ending of Old Yeller? Yeah, it still made me choke up. I know exactly what’s going to happen, but it’s so well done that it still gets me, dang it! I was even choking up writing about it.
  7. So, the logo question is almost settled; right now I’m deciding between these two, possibly with some slight modifications.

    That’s all for now; keep an eye for further updates as we get closer to launch!

7 Quick Takes Friday: Preparing for Launch

 

  1. First and foremost, I guess I should announce that I’m taking my blog and my work in a new direction, with the intention of turning writing into a full-time profession.

 

  1. As part of this goal, I’m planning on blogging a lot more. This will probably result in sloppier and shorter pieces and a lot more filler but such is life (It’s also probably going to involve more My Little Pony at least for the time being, so heads up on that).

 

  1. It also means I’m going to be revamping the blog to fit better with my business plan. So don’t be alarmed by any sudden and explained changes you may find here.

 

  1. My business plan is, briefly put, this: there are a million-and-one film reviewers out there. The market is saturated by them. So, my approach will be to focus on the themes, ideas, philosophy, and morals of various works of fiction. I’ll talk about what I think is good or bad as well, but mostly I’ll be drawing out what I think the film is saying through essays, e-books, and videos.

 

  1. I’m currently working on my first e-book for this endeavor, which will be addressing the films of Walt Disney. That is, the films that he himself worked on and were produced during his lifetime. I take twelve of his best and most important films and explore the ideas and ethics conveyed by each one. More on that as we get closer to launch.

 

  1. I will also, of course, continue to write fiction of my own, but when and how that will be released is more uncertain. One thing at a time.

 

  1. Finally, if anyone reading actually cares about any of this, I’d like to solicit your help. My plan is to call my business “Noble Snake Productions” and use something like this as my logo:

Logo 3

When I ran it by my family, though, it didn’t meet with a good response. They pointed out that most people don’t like snakes and will consider it a sign of untrustworthiness.

Me, I think it’s cool, unique, and perfectly encapsulates everything I hope my work will be: the exotic and eccentric combined with the venerable and traditional. Then again, I’m eccentric and don’t think like most people do, so maybe I’m completely off on this.

What do you say? Off-putting or charmingly eccentric?

Stay tuned for more content and more announcements as we get closer to launch date! Including the announcement of what the launch date will actually be.

 

 

Inspiring!

So, my sister, Masha, has nominated me for “Very Inspiring Blogger Award,” which is surprising and very gratifying.

Very Inspiring Blogger award with pixie dust

Apparently, I’m supposed to give seven things you might or might not know about me. Without repeating my first 7 Quick Takes post.

  1. I have a very old soul and an oddly extended memory. That is, I tend to look back on history as though it were contemporary to myself. For instance, I refuse to call a movie ‘old’ unless it was made before, say, 1970 at the earliest. And any time I hear an idea described as ‘out of date’ I take it as a sign to see whether there might be anything to it.
  1. I’m something of an anglophile: most of my favorite authors are English and many of my favorite stories either are set in England (usually either Victorian or interwar) or grew out of that world, and I adore nineteenth and early twentieth-century British culture.
  1. My Freshman year of college, as part of our introduction to each other, a group of us were asked to share who our heroes were. Since I went to a very Catholic College, almost everyone else said things like “Jesus,” or “John Paul II.” I was the only one who had a non-religious hero: I said “Cyrano de Bergerac.”
  1. I hate flying, but I really enjoy long car trips. This is a nicely balanced state of affairs, though I can’t always make use of it due to time considerations. The reason I hate flying is that I’m apparently very sensitive to changes in pressure, which makes flying a thoroughly miserable and often painful experience for me. I’m not exaggerating: flying can actually be physically painful for me.
  1. Right now my reading mostly consists of Part one of The Last Lion: William Manchester’s masterful biography of Winston Churchill. Fascinating stuff, but I’m trying to hurry through the end so that I can start reading Don Quixote. I read multiple books all the time, but reading two GIANT books at the same time strikes me as pushing it.
  1. I have this thing where, whenever I find something (a song, a story, etc.) that I really like, I immediately want to do something creative with it. That’s one of the reasons I make music videos for a hobby, and one of the reasons I’m trying to learn how to draw.
  1. I almost never read internet comments. I always get an urge to try to answer someone I disagree with, but once I do I start obsessing over the question and worrying that I’m not answering it right. So, I don’t let myself get involved: it’s just another time waster and stress-multiplier that I don’t need.

Now I think I’m supposed to nominate others…hmm…

First is my friend EG Norton, who is sincerely one of the most interesting people I know and who has operated several marvelous blogs over the years and currently blogs at The Martial Theologian. She doesn’t write very regularly, but she’s always worth reading when she does!

Next is my friend Teresa, who blogs at Daughter of Judith, but who hasn’t written much lately due to personal issues. This is to say that your patience and continued concern for others inspire me!

Seven Quick Takes Vol. 55

  1. My intention to blog more is off to a slow start. Part of that is that I had a freelance job to complete this week, which occupied a lot of my writing time, and part of it is that I still haven’t quite worked out how best to schedule my time to get done everything I want to get done in a day. I try to put most of my efforts into fiction writing, so blogging (and email) kind of gets the short end of the stick, especially since I largely stay off the internet for most of the day
  1. This week I listened to the audio version of From the Corner of His Eye by Dean Koontz, who has quickly become one of my favorite contemporary authors. Mr. Koontz generally seems to cater to dark science fiction or horror stories that are nevertheless laced with lots of hope and humor, which is pretty much exactly the sort of thing I like. I’ll have to write more about his work soon. By the way, when I say dark, I mean dark, as in ‘serial-killers, rapists, and lots of bad things happening to good people.’ For instance, From the Corner of His Eye featured long stretches from the point of view of a delusional psychopath who doesn’t have a single redeeming quality and divides his thoughts between considering what a wonderful, sophisticated man he is and fretting about how cruel the world is to him as he goes from one horrific crime to another. At the same time, though, his scenes are laced with a strange kind of pitch-black humor, since he’s really just such a pathetic loser you kind of have to laugh at him even as he makes your skin crawl.
  1. As I think I mentioned before, I have what may be an unhealthy fascination with evil: crime, disaster, and even demonology and the occult (though I have the sense not to attempt any serious study of the latter two: I know enough of the subject to know that that would be a really stupid thing to do). I’m toying with the idea of trying to make a study of criminology, or at least to dip my toes in to see whether it interests me enough to pursue as a serious field of interest.
  1. Don’t get me wrong: my interest in such things isn’t mere ghoulish fascination. Actually, as far as that goes, I’m more squeamish than anything and crime stories depress me as often as not. Rather, my interest is more as an off-shoot of my interest in self-defense issues. It’s a dangerous world out there, and I prefer to have an idea of what I’m up against. ‘Know thy enemy’ and all that.
  1. My blood pressure’s going down fitfully, though it keeps flipping back up again, but at least it’s trending downward. Last weekend I ordered a salad as my main course at a restaurant for the first time in my life, and found that it was actually pretty tasty: chicken Caesar. Though it doesn’t really satisfy the insides proper, if you know what I mean, and I’m looking forward to the days when I’ll again be able to indulge in hearty foods at least some of the time (yes, I intend to keep bringing my weight down and watching my diet permanently, but giving up delicious meat is out of the question).
  1. I’ve also been walking a lot: mostly down to the coffee shop and back to write and enjoy a nice cup of coffee and a baked good (neither is good for my blood, but I figure a small indulgence in the midst of a four-mile round-trip won’t hurt), but occasionally to the library (one mile) as well. Maybe it’s because it’s Ann Arbor and we’re a town of loonies, but I don’t find the selection particularly impressive. I’m gonna see if they have Inside the Criminal Mind next time I’m there.
  1. End quote:

Ed (on the phone with an investor): “So, how did you like the picture? Really? Worst film you ever saw? Well, my next one will be better! …Hello?”

Ed Wood

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog.

7 Quick Takes vol. 54

  1. I hope everyone had a blessed Easter!
  1. I have now been self-employed for two weeks. During that time I’ve written quite a bit, read rather more, and made some adjustments to my daily schedule. I completed one Freelancing job, picked up another, and received invitations for two more. So, so far, so good.
  1. Still settling into my new lifestyle. Right now my focus is on getting paid; arranging it so that I’ll have at least a little steady income. I mean, financially I’m doing fine, but I don’t feel comfortable calling what I’m doing a job until I can actually show a profit.
  1. So, when I went over to my parents’ house for Palm Sunday, I had a bad headache. My mother (a former nurse) took my blood pressure, and we discovered that it’s dangerously high (remember how I mentioned last time I was overindulging in take-out? Turns out that may have been a bad idea). Since then, I’ve been working to bring it down to normal levels, though it’s frustratingly slow and it means I have to postpone the exercise regime that was going to be included in my work schedule.
  1. So, my blood pressure medication has some side effects, most notably drowsiness and lethargy. That’s put a bit of a damper on my work, which is one of the reasons why I haven’t been blogging as much as I thought I would be. I’m intending to change that in the coming weeks.
  1. Due to the aforementioned blood pressure problems, I’ve been avoiding the news like the plague lately. Let’s face it, it couldn’t possibly help, could it? More and more, I’m thinking ‘bitter recluse’ is my best option for dealing with the modern world. Another reason to make this writing thing work.
  1. End Quote:

“We’re advising our clients to put everything they have into canned food and shotguns.”

-The Brain Gremlin, Gremlins 2: The Next Batch

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog. 

7 Quick Takes Vol. 53

1.     Today was my last day of working in a regular company! As of today, I am officially and completely self-employed. I’m as excited, nervous, and happy about that as I can be!

2.     Everyone at work was very kind and supportive of the change: most said they’d miss having me around, and a few said they were envious of my breaking out on my own like this. You know, I didn’t like the work at all, but I really lucked out on the company I worked for; good people, flexible culture, not much drama that I could see. Yeah, I really have no complaints about the people I worked with. It was the work itself I couldn’t stand.

3.     Now, the plan is that I’m going to maintain a regular work day where I will allow no internet or other time-wasting distractions (I’m installing blocking software to make sure I can’t use it during the designated time) and will permit myself only a limited range of activities, all of them useful. Writing, of course, will be paramount, but since most of the time I can’t just write for hours and hours on end I plan to break it up with reading, practicing violin, exercising, and so on. At the moment, I intend to make it from eight to four, Monday through Friday. Saturdays will be reserved for ‘tidying up:’ cleaning the apartment, taking care of business, shopping, and arranging notes. Sundays are, of course, a day of rest. I plan to experiment a little to find out what specific schedule works best, but these are the basic guidelines I intend to follow.

4.     This past week I’ve been indulging in certain pleasures that I won’t be able to enjoy for a while now that I’m unemployed: mostly of the food kind. In short, I pretty much way over did it on the pizza. The good news is that now I have lots of leftovers.

5.     Since I’m the kind of guy who likes to set things to music, here’s a song about my life right now:

6.     And another! (have I mentioned how much I like Country music?)

(Sinatra’s My Way’ would have worked as well, but I didn’t want to post the same song twice in one week)

7.     Now a quote!

“But…to sing, to laugh, to dream,

To walk in my own way and be alone,

Free, with an eye to see things as they are,

A voice that means manhood – to cock my hat

Where I choose – at a word, a ‘yes’, a ‘no,’

To fight – or write. To travel any road

Under the sun, under the stars, nor doubt

If fame or fortune lie beyond the bourne –

Never to make a line I have not heard

In my own heard; yet with all modesty

To say: ‘My soul, be satisfied with flowers,

With fruit, with weeds even; but gather them

In the one garden you may call you own.”

So, when I win some triumph, by some chance,

Render no share of Caesar – In a word,

I am too proud to be a parasite,

And if my nature wants the germ that grows

Towering to heaven like the mountain pine,

Or like the oak, sheltering multitudes –

I stand, not high it may be – but alone!”

-Cyrano de Bergerac

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog. 

7 Quick Takes Vol. 52

  1. One week to go! I’m excited, nervous, and, more than anything, thankful that I won’t have to deal with my work computer anymore. Really, that thing is a wonder to behold. About every couple hours or so it locks up tight and refuses to budge for several minutes, then runs fitfully for about a quarter hour afterwards. The later in the day we get, the more reliably it’s going to have a series of debilitating strokes; just to make sure I’m good and mad by the time I leave. Heck, for the last hour of the day or so there is really no point whatsoever to my staying at my desk, since my computer virtually doesn’t work. Ordinarily I’d ask for a new one, or try to get this one fixed, but since I’m only here for another week (and my replacement is getting a new computer) there doesn’t seem to be much point to that. So, I’m just going to suggest that they scrap it after I’m gone.
  1. You might have seen that I not only saw Cinderella last week, but that I’m absolutely over the moon about it. It’s probably going to end up on my all-time favorites list, at least in the ‘romance’ category. The only thing that could possibly make me happier is the fact that it’s been dominating the box office, which brings a ray of hope to my bitter, pessimistic little heart.
  1. Speaking of which, this week I officially made the call not to try online dating again, at least not anytime soon. In the first place, I was never comfortable with the idea of seeking a relationship at the same time that I’m casting myself adrift from the safe harbor of employment to try my hand in the open seas. In the second, I have what might be called a strong gut feeling that I’m not going to find my beloved through this particular process. I mean, maybe, but for sure not right now. What I’m looking for is so unique and so mysterious, even to me, that I doubt very much that I’d be able to indentify it by reading people’s profiles, but if I don’t see any indication of it, I wouldn’t bother contacting them. That probably makes no sense. The point is, my strategy at the moment is to simply pursue my own solitary aims and trust that God will reveal her to me when He’s good and ready. Though, I confess, it is frustratingly lonely in the meantime.
  1. I expect to be late posting the next chapter for Alpha Man this week, since I’m frantically trying to get my next Minecraft fan-fiction installment done in something approximating the agreed on time. That has to take priority, since I’ll actually be getting paid for these. Fortunately, the guy I’m writing for is very patient and understanding, so I don’t expect him to fire me if I don’t get it in quite on time. Between work and preparing for not working, there’s only so much time and energy left to write (which, again, is the reason for the not working thing). The good news on that score is that I (finally) actually know what the plot is about.
  1. I’ve learned that I am very difficult to fit for…well, anything really. I’m not especially tall, but I’m pretty broad and I guess I’m oddly proportioned in some was, so I usually end up with some degree of too small or too large clothing. This week I got fitted for some new athletic shoes (the only pare I had were quite literally falling apart). It took nearly an hour if trying different types where the shoe size was fine, but the shape of the shoe was somehow wrong for my foot. I ended up more or less compromising with a decent pair that wasn’t as sturdy as I might have liked, but they were the only ones that would fit.
  1. The shoes were my last big purchase (I hope). Now I’m pretty much all set and ready for my self-employment (I’m saying that rather than ‘unemployment’ because I am going to be working, just not for a steady paycheck). The tricky part is going to be collecting the habits that I’ll need to survive; at the moment, my work habits are frankly abysmal. I’m thinking some of that is the draining effect of the job, but I am going to have to be very strict with myself in at least the first few weeks of my self-employment. That’s the thing that’s really worrying me, more than the money question.
  1. Ending Quote:

“Well, what do you know. Here I am talking with some of the smartest people in the world, and I didn’t even notice!”

-Columbo: The Bye-Bye Sky High I.Q. Murder Case

 We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog.

7 Quick Takes Vol. 51

  1. Biggest news this week was the birth of my first nephew! Welcome Ilya Birch Goeple! (to my disappointment, he is not in fact named after the Russian folk hero Ilya Morumets).

 

  1. It is official: my last day at this job will be two weeks from today. Then I plunge into the unknown. Quite literally the unknown: I have no idea what I’ll do once the lease on my apartment is up. The goal, as I mentioned elsewhere, is to be able to support myself by my own efforts, whether by writing or by some other skill. We can call this period my first attempt at that goal. If it doesn’t work out this time well…we’ll cross that bridge, etcetera, etcetera.

 

  1. Cinderella opens today, and after a glowing review by Steven Greydanus which seems to promise exactly the kind of movie I was hoping for, I’m planning to go see it right after work. Yes, that’s right: I’m planning to catch Cinderella opening day, because that’s how I roll.

 

  1. Yesterday I finally went and purchased my own violin after about two-and-a-half years of renting. I really should have done that earlier, not least because I only used a little over half of the store credit I’d built up over the years. This store’s rental policy is that your rentals fees could be used to pay for up to 50% of the purchased instrument. I had about $460 and only used $250. But of course, that saves me money, since if I bought a $900 instrument I would have been out $450, plus the money for the bow and the case.

I’m sure you found all that fascinating. The point is I finally have my own violin. But I’m still not skilled enough to play without the tape (beginning violin players use tape to mark the correct finger positions), so I haven’t been able to do more than, uh, fiddle with it. I mean, I can still play it and I can sort of get the positions right, but I’m not comfortable with it.

 

  1. I’ve started to peruse Murder She Wrote, which is fun, but not quite as engaging as, say, By the way, I’m the sort of person who has to watch a TV show in order; even when the episodes don’t have anything to do with one another. I have to start at the beginning and proceed doggedly though the archives until I either finish or move on to something else. Since Mrs. Fletcher’s adventures are charming rather than enthralling, I think the latter will be the case this time, but so far so good (question for any lawyers out there: is it actually legal to bequeath your estate to a dog?).

 

  1. Today is the second Friday the 13th of the year, which I don’t think happens very often and which, I believe you celebrate by wearing a sugar bag over your head (oh, I really hope someone gets that joke).

 

  1. Ending Quote:

Dudley: “Believe me, there’s no trick or mystery to making good selling displays…”                                                                                                                  Servo: “Hell, a platypus could do my job!”                                                                                                                                         –Mystery Science Theater 3000: Out of this World

 We now return you to your regularly scheduled blogs.