A Type Down Memory Lane

Recently, I hit the local flea market with my girlfriend looking for fun trinkets with a crisp $20 in my pocket. And we were lucky that day, since we both came away with something we had been looking for. In my girlfriend’s case, it was a snazzy new pair of jeans. And in my case, even though I was looking primarily for old video games, I ended up coming home with this:

Asin’t she a beaut?

A 1975 Sears Manual 1 portable typewriter. In all its mass-produced glory. For a piddly three bucks. It has an ancient ribbon, and it’s missing a key, but it does still work, and is technically a “portable” model (I say “portable” in quotations because it’s probably close to 15lb, and buying it early in the day caused both of my shoulders to hurt by the time we reached the car). All I need is a flannel shirt and enough fair for a man-bun to be “that guy” at Starbucks writing that earth-shattering screenplay.

To be honest, I know very little about my typewriter model. Looking it up hasn’t so far come to many conclusions or interesting information, other than that it was actually made by the company Brother and not Sears as the label states. This isn’t even surprising, knowing the video game history I do; the Atari VCS/2600 was sold at Sears as the Sears Video Arcade with games as “Sears Telegames, so why wouldn’t they do the same with other electronics and productivity devices?

But why would I buy such a model, released into the world the same year the Vietnam War came to an end and “Squeaky” Fromme tried to shoot President Ford, in 2018? Why would I bring this heavy and intricately-assembled metal beast into my home-bedroom?

Nostalgia. Pure and simple.

But not just ANY nostalgia. See, I’m in my mid-30s now, and there have been some noteworthy changes between the things I grew up learning and experiencing that kids of that age won’t be seeing today. And in this case, that would include typing classes. Because I didn’t learn to type on a computer – even though there were computers in my home going as far back as I can remember – but instead on a manual, just-like-my-$3-purchase typewriter.

Back 20 some-odd years ago, computer labs weren’t common in my hometown’s schools. There was a new one in the high school, but in lower grades, you’d be lucky to find a collecting-dust Apple II in the corner with a busted floppy drive. (Fun Fact: That actually happened, and it didn’t work until my mom took it home, cracked it open, removed the debris from the drive and sent it back to the school for use. Oregon Trail by any means necessary, yo.)

Because of that, my middle school had a room filled with around 30 typewriters. Just row after row of bored 14-year-olds thwacking the keys and complaining that they pressed too many keys too quickly and jammed the thing up. That was a real problem… to this day I know that, in theory, people could type over 60 words per minute on a manual typewriter, but I have no actual concept in my brain as to how. I might’ve reached 20 or 30 then, but that was through sheer determination.

The only other thing I remember about that class was a teacher telling me they could program their own website. Remember, this was 1998, so HTML was still some hot stuff, yo. (I could program my own site too, and it probably looked just as solid as any Geocities abomination he’d made, the egotistical jackass.) I didn’t learn how to touch type until I started through college in the early 2000s thanks to hunt-and-peck techniques and manual typewriter classes.

Now, I look over that class and my “new” machine as a timeline connection point. Even in that class, bored as I was – I was 14, every 14-year-old is bored, it’s in the rulebook – I still loved seeing those typewriters. Even back then I loved telling stories, which helped me to eventually become the aspiring story writer and poet I become in my early high school years, and the thwack of a manual typewriter just pumps me up to getting my thoughts onto paper. It’s probably not going to be one page at a time while worrying about replacing ribbons or jamming the hammers all up, I do love modern word processors something fierce, but I could see myself testing out some poetry on my mechanical wonder should the spark threaten a fire. And either way, even if it’s never used again, for three measly dollars it’s a token of a time long since passed. Even if it wasn’t “my” machine, it still takes me back to “my” era, and connects me in some small way to the writers that came before me like my fountain pens have done.

Which reminds me… I think I’ll start practicing my cursive a little too. That takes me back even further.

Stand Tall and Type Well, friends. May your stories be lovely and your ribbons be plentiful.

Laid Off

It’s been too long since I wrote something in here last, but I’ve had a bit of a trying few months – both good, in that tomorrow is my one-year anniversary with a lovely young woman I adore, some more personal issues, actively working hard to have stories worth publishing or requesting representation for, and good old-fashioned procrastination. But never fear, today I’m posting something I wrote in the aftermath of a fateful Monday morning, when I received bad news in public.

That’s always a good time, ain’t it?

You’ve probably guessed what it is from the title of this post, but I wanted to put some thoughts together after it occurred – crystalize what’s going on in my head, how I’m feeling about it, what I’ll be working to do going forward. This one isn’t a “good” post, but it is a reflective post, and one the likes of which I’ve (sadly) written of before.

Should you choose to, thanks for reading, friends.

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The Best Kind Of Stress

The most beautiful thing about the Internet is the ability to search for, investigate, and learn new stuff. Everything from an analysis of the most up-to-date theories of how the Earth formed to how to tie a bow tie can be found online, and in incredible detail – videos, scientific papers, walkthroughs, even the ridiculousness of WikiHow can be poured over to learn whatever it is you would like to learn.

Why this is important to me, and why it’s important to me right now, is because I’ve started investigating and learning to achieve a specific goal, and thereby achieving a goal I’ve set for my life: selling the book I’ve spent the past three years writing. And the process is why I’ve only so far sent two proper submissions over the past four days.

And I’m freaking out about it.

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I Was A (Really Bad) Teenage Game Reviewer

Back in the school year of 1999/2000, about 16 years ago, I started writing video game reviews in a school notebook when I should have been studying electronics. I would’ve been about 15 at the time. And instead of being fascinated by the electronics room’s dissected Atari 2600 heavy six-switch (though admittedly I was), I was dawdling writing my thoughts about games that had spent their fair share of time in my home consoles. And the first, which I remember with some clarity, is why this comes to my mind now: I reviewed Pokemon Yellow for my Game Boy, a game now being re-released nearly twenty years after its initial launch in Japan. I don’t still have the ripped-out page for that review, which is for the best… I feel like reading it back now would bring back my desire to burn things.

Image via Wikipedia

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Lost in the Lot

Last night, I had a dream that I couldn’t find my car in the world’s most complex, fourth-dimensional parking lot and garage. Every time I exited the door of the mall, at the very center of the lot, I would open up at another location that looked familiar, but was obviously a different place. And through the dream I ran around the lot, searching for my parking space number, but I just couldn’t reach my car. Everyone else seemed to get home just fine, but the vehicles in the lot wouldn’t diminish; it reached closing time, and I woke up just as I was about to be locked out of the building, leaving me in that labyrinth of parking hell.

I know people’s dreams are mostly just random neurons building a scenario in one’s head without true rhyme or reason, but the overarching sensation created by the scenario – in this case, the combination of being lost and confused – is real, and when it’s strong enough it’s not something to simply be ignored. And that’s about how I feel even now… a bit lost, sort of confused.

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November Twenty-Four: “Progress Is A Strong Word”

Word Count: 24,511
Pages Total: 61

Soooooo not a LOT of progress. 935 words added. The past week has had me remembering other projects, barely poking at THOSE, and generally just being a lazy clod. Some poker though, and I’ve just about broken even for the month, that’s good enough news. Hell, I even played right before writing this (for a net-negative, but still left with a few dollars in my pocket).

One of the projects has been my re-writing of an older post from my previous site, so far titled “Atheist on the Sabbath Redux”, which is a series of thoughts and reasons as to why I’m not a religious person (and a few reasons specifically as to why I don’t believe in a higher consciousness/”god”). I don’t really know why, but the thought has just been flooding my brain again as of late – more like the past few weeks – and having meant to dig deeper into that part of my thought process and life experience, it’s already ballooned to five single-spaced pages. I may just provide it as a PDF or something, so anybody (read: likely very, very, VERY few) interested in giving it a look-over can do so over however much time. Maybe, if it keeps growing, I’ll try self-publishing just for the hell of it. Might be interesting enough, who knows?

I’m going to get writing tonight, heading into Thanksgiving week. Work tomorrow, then probably stay home on the Day-’o-Turkey. Haven’t decided yet. But before I finish up here, a few little shout-outs: first, to my friend Lauren who’s been blasting away at NaNoWriMo for the world to see. You’ve been kicking ass, now cross that finish line!

And second to my buddy Stephen, who’s been kicking ass also, though I don’t know his word count. Keep it up!

Everybody else… you Stand Tall too, yeah?

November Sixteen: “Them Vidya Games!”

Update time! These seem to be getting slightly later and later every time I write them, but… no matter.

Word Count: 23,576
Page Count: 58

That’s a net-positive of 2,165 words and five pages to the manuscript. This kind of admittedly-pathetic progress is why people make fun of their friends when they ask “so… how’s your novel coming along” sarcastically. And sometimes, like it has been over the past week, it’s been well-deserved.

Still, progress is progress. And in my time not-writing I’ve had the ability to binge-watch some history classes through Crash Course, catch up on some games I’ve wanted to dig further into but haven’t had the time, do a little reading here and there, play a little poker.

I feel like I’ve been kicking back more lately, but feel both more and less pressure to get certain work done – I’m between reviews right now which is kind of nice. It gives me more time to think, to appreciate games I genuinely adore and haven’t given the attention they so rightfully deserve, and less time to play games I may end up despising for one reason or another.

If you would like an example of the latter, I direct you to my last review, which was bad enough to hurt my feelings.

I need to get my ass in gear, so as a goal, I’ll shoot for at MINIMUM five thousand words until my next update on either Sunday or Monday (my two regular days off). That would put me around the 28,500 mark, so while 5K is the minimum, I’ll shoot to break through 30K total. Maybe it’ll help to think about it as “as soon as THIS story is written I can start in on a new one”, but since I have multiple fully-realized concepts in my head (some of them mapped out either in the beginning stages or already laid out in some fashion) that’s enough of a challenge for another night.

Or maybe a punishment… if you can think of a worthwhile-yet-not-TOO-painful punishment for not having 5,000 words of fiction written in a week, do let me know in comments. If there’s a good one, I’ll shoot video and upload it to YouTube for your sadistic enjoyment.

Stand Tall, and hopefully your own writing is a bit more concrete and focused than mine has been!

November Eight: “Progress” Report

Word Count: 21,411

Also known as, NO PROGRESS WHATSOEVER. Because I am a big ball of suck.

I could make an “excuse” for this lack of development, for example working on a couple game reviews (one of which is up, one of which should be finished and published soon). I COULD SAY that working through these games for review, as well as performing stand-up last Tuesday and preparing a few jokes for my upcoming stand-up at Rooster T. Feathers on Wednesday the 11th (/shameless-plug), has taken up enough of my time that I simply haven’t been able to properly focus on my manuscript as I’ve meant to through the month of November.

IMG_20151108_192059676
Accurate hoodie is accurate.

I COULD do those things. Or, I could also acknowledge that I’ve been reading – finished The Accidental Billionaires on the first and have plugged a bit between two other books – and that YouTube has all kinds of interesting content to peruse. Meaning, I’ve been both busy AND lazy. If nothing else, that should be an achievement in and of itself.

But Mondays are my day for catching up, so as this is being published in the wee hours of Monday morning, I will make an effort to get some time in writing fiction instead of just criticism, and… yeah. I’ll stop being such a busy-lazy ball of suck.

Stand Tall, and if you know any good insults for being lazy I can write on Post-Its and stick to my bathroom mirror, let me know ‘em yeah?

Origin of an Aspiring Novelist

Dang, as often as I’m not writing here I’m writing somewhere else. So far this month I’ve written six pieces for Game Revolution (three reviews, two previews, and a news piece), worked on the manuscript, done a few press events, read through a few books (the goal for the month was two, so far I’ve gone through this one and this one and this one), and with a regular work schedule that’s just enough to monopolize my time the past few weeks. Definitely distracted, but plenty of points in the Points System notebook.

But we’re starting to approach something close to my heart, something to which I owe a lot of my drive in writing… anything. Anything and everything. Because it was nearly eleven years ago that I started a yearly tradition, and I may be re-directing some of my efforts toward something else this year, but still in the spirit of the challenge.

I am, of course, talking about NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month. (Yeah, don’t care too much about Halloween, the candy does more damage to me as an adult than it used to in my youth.)

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Writing Made My Life

OK seriously, I do enjoy the mohawk sensations. On a hot day, sitting near an AC unit or duct pointed at my head is AMAZING.

I thought I should update because it’s been a few weeks, but even after a few days of on-and-off thinking I haven’t come up with what to talk about. I’ve been planning a project that I originally intended to take root in October (but may be pushed to November, if done at all) centered on a specific theme woven through multiple games, but it isn’t making the progress that would be best for such an undertaking. Work on the manuscript has been spotty, but it is coming along, even though I might owe a friend some money at the end of the year. There’s a game for review in my hands, so I’ve been plugging away at that so it’s ready for review time, and the occasional stand-up event going on.

Thinking about it now, maybe I should take a trip down memory lane to see how I reached the point I’m at today: thinking about the blog over three years of (mostly) consistent writing. It’s amazing what can be learned when teaching yourself.

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