Wednesday, December 30, 2009


This will be the official status of Gibberish after tomorrow.

I need a break. I have too many projects, with more coming up, and I can't see myself keeping up with--or needing the stress of worrying about--the comic. For something that started out as an experiment, Gibberish became something I never expected. It continued to surprise me. It allowed me to play around with color, different techniques; it even helped hone my writing--even if the comic didn't reflect that sharpening.

I hope to do a comic here or there, perhaps keep it afloat, but the Tuesday/Thursday schedule will no longer be in effect. The archive will remain on the interweb for your enjoyment, but new comics won't be happening on a regular basis.

My plan is to recharge, get a few more of these other projects buttoned up, and perhaps I can devote some more time to an actual comic, full pages, a real story, recurring characters. Perhaps not. Regardless, I hope to jump back into the comic scene soon enough, but I realize that it is rather unrealistic given everything I have going on next year.

Thank you, to my faithful few readers. I appreciate the comments and support, and I hope to still put together a collection of the last year and a half of comics.

The blog will continue to update on MWF, and TR will be replaced by my aforementioned idea of "Beautiful Writing." I'm not sure if/when it will be audible readings, but I will at least post the text.

Thanks again for the support, and I look forward to seeing you all with whatever I happen to do next.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Monday, December 28, 2009


Snow, and more snow. Nothing but snow. Nebraska is officially crazy.

Along with snow. Christmas: this involved new clothes, an awesome dinner with amazing friends, more snow, games, sleeping in late, shoveling snow, pushing cars, building Legos, and collapsing.

Since then, it's been much the same with a bit of World of Warcraft thrown in to boot.

However, now, I must do things like prepare to teach my upcoming classes, actual work, and possibly finishing that first draft of my novel.

For now, bye.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Another Missed Post

(It was Christmas. Can you blame me?)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Monday, December 21, 2009

Rediscovering My PSP

I'd forgotten about this gem of a system. I've been to busy with my other consoles--or just other things in general. However, Loco Roco, a fine and silly game, brought me back into the fold, and now I'm thinking about video games much more than I have in years.

Currently, I'm playing a small, overlooked title called CRUSH. It is pretty much the coolest puzzle game you've never heard of. If you have a PSP and you like puzzle games and you overlooked/missed/forgot about this one, do yourself a favor and track a copy down. It has such a simple premise, but is one of the best designed and intriguing games I've ever played.

Basically you are an insomniac trying to discover why he can't sleep. To find the reason, he's enlisted a scientist and his machine to help out. You play through these puzzles, collecting your marbles, avoiding inner bugs and such, and solve puzzles by rotating the camera and "crush"ing your 3-D world into 2-D, letting you have access to places previously unreachable. Sound confusing? It's probably just my writing.

The game itself is nothing short of fantastic, and I'm already itching to get home and play a few more levels.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Fantastic Mr. Fox

It was the final showing in Lincoln, and I'm sad that I didn't see it sooner. I would've liked to see it on the big screen once again. It is one of the best/most distinct looking films I've seen in recent times. Wonderful stuff, funny, heart-wrenching, and loads of fun.

An early preview comment said it best: "It's Wes Anderson and Roald Dahl. How can this go wrong?"

True enough. It will be a fierce competition for Best Animated Feature this year, as I would be torn between this one and Up. Then again, Pixar has won enough Oscars already, and Wes is a guy that is very deserving and might otherwise never be acknowledged for his genius.

Anyway, if this film is still in your area, see it. Don't hesitate any longer.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


I am glad I am not a snowman. I like the sun.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Process: Remembering

You've neglected your story/novel/writing in general long enough. Then what?

I plant myself into a chair of some sort, open up the last bit of writing I've done, and start reading over snippets here and there. Well, it's not really reading, but scraping, seeing which bits come off with my eyes, the ones that stick to my fingers, help me remember what it was that I was doing with this whole project in the first place. I might make a few fixes here and there--nothing I would call revision--but enough to get me back into the groove of things, remind me what it was/is that my character wants in that moment, what's pissing them off, what's breaking their heart. Once that's done, I can often slip back into a rhythm, start chipping away at that negligence block and add to my story once again.

Usually, I don't work with an outline and I'm forced to simply follow my characters around and wait for something to happen. This makes for lots of cutting/rewriting later, but it's time well spent, as I get to see how they get from here to there, what they linger over, what catches their eye. Also, having something to cut is better than an empty page. Empty pages give you nothing. NOTHING. Hopefully though, something happens in this character stalking process, something unexpected or worth hanging around to witness. Once this occurs, I'm fired up and ready to roll. Other times, when nothing shows up, I've just written a bunch of boring nothing.

When this boring nothing occurs--and I'm sure it will--I take a break, play some video games, drink some Dr. Pepper or Chai, talk to my wife for a few minutes, hassle my cats, something to let my mind focus on other things. There are times I forget to go back to my writing and fall right back into negligence, but going back is always, always the best. The times I remember to go back, I sit, start scraping again, a little harder this time, and I see what comes off in my hands. Inevitably there will be a piece of a paragraph, a few words, a sentence that sparks an ides and helps me to see what this moment/scene needs--even if that means taking a cue from Monty Python and going to something completely different.


After that, it is simply a matter of keeping myself in my chair and letting my fingers do the work. For me, a set word count is a great way of not only keeping track of how much I write on a daily basis, but it gives a goal, a tangible number that I can attain. I shoot for 1,000 words a day. Sometimes, I overshoot--if you're really in the groove, why stop? Other times, I come up short--WAY short. Regardless, it gives me the grounding I need to "feel" like I've written and been productive for the day. A chunk of time would work too. Say, a half an hour every day that you DEVOTE--no email, internet, news reading, wall staring, nothing--to writing. This might even be better, as you won't feel let down by not meeting your word count. You burned the keyboard for your set time and wrote what you could.

The importance of this step in my writing process is simply for my brain and heart and fingers to remember what it is that they've been missing: their purpose, their joy, their horrendous witch of a lover that is writing. Once they have, it's much harder to fall back into neglecting such an exquisite beast.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

Princess and the Frog

Like many others, I was quite excited to have Disney go back to a 2-D film. It's what they were founded upon. It's what Disney himself helped revolutionize. They never should've strayed away--especially with how gorgeous those last few films looked. The Princess and the Frog is no exception. The film is a sight to behold and more than worth the price of admission.

That being said, there is a lot more to like about the film than just its looks. Possibly with the help of John Lasseter, the film plays out with fewer problems than some of Disney's last few entries--Emperor's New Groove and Lilo and Stitch excluded. This one is in full magical swing with a wild cast of characters and colors galore. And the story is rather tight, too. From the first few moments with any given character, we know exactly what they want--something lacking from all too many films these days. What's better is that we actually care about them. Though a few of them walk the line of becoming annoyingly silly, the story always reins them back in and keeps them likeable--another problem with many films of today: unlikeable characters.

Another thing I noticed--and maybe I'm wrong--it seemed to have throwbacks to Disney Classics, directly referencing shots from other films or simply using similar art styles and set ups. More than once, I thought about The Sword in the Stone, Sleeping Beauty, and Jungle Book. Some of these might not have been intentional, but especially the reference to Sleeping Beauty was an exact replica of the final dance sequence in that beloved classic.

Really, I was pleasantly surprised. The only downside to the whole thing is that it might be a bit creepy for the young 'uns--despite the "G" rating. And with that, the fact that Disney takes something like making deals with demons a lighthearted affair. Maybe not as blatant or frightening as Anastasia (which was not Disney), but it's really hard to take "My friends on the other side" any different.

Fans of Disney won't be too disappointed with this one, nor will animation buffs in general. It is a fine flick, fun, gorgeous, and wonderful to see Disney back in its "true" colors.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Process: Neglection

As this is one of the biggest parts of my writing, I thought it would only be fitting to start out detailing my process with this.

More than anything, I find excuses not to write. I know that I'm not alone in this. There are always cat boxes to be cleaned, vacuums to run, Christamas lights to put up, video games to conquer, journals to scope out and submit to, blogs to type, wives to spend time with, comics to make, and on and on and on. However, sometimes, it feels like an art form, the way you skillfully dodge that time set aside to write or ignore that niggling voice that yells at you to sit down, shut your gob, and write. For me though, every day that passes, two things occur.

First: I start thinking more and more about whatever I'm working on, so much so that it often starts robbing me of sleep because I can't turn my brain off. Every now and again, this is a good thing. I think the story through, listen to my characters and figure out what in the world is going on in their world. Plot holes and revision ideas start to pop up. New scenes form. Characters grow more real and distinct than before.

The downside is that I'm not actually writing. Good as many of these discoveries and revelation moments are, no words fill the page. Even worse, I can often get distracted by other projects and new ideas, almost forgetting what I'm working on in the first place, making it that much harder to stick with my story--especially if the entire thing plays out in my head. Once it completes itself, either on paper or in my head, I loose that excitement of discovery, that excitement that drives me to write in the first place. Slight as it may be, any loss in momentum is very detrimental, a fact even more compounded by the other occurrence caused by my negligence.

Second, I feel a wall building, stone by stone, a wall that must be broken down before I can write again--and this disassembling can take more time than it should. Every day that I don't put a word to a page pushes me that much further from my story. The further I am from my story, the harder it is for me to hear my characters, to follow them around, and tell their story. If I build up to high of a wall, I forget what I was ever doing with these people to begin with and often, my story will die, dangling worse than some peoples' participles. From there, it's hard not to simply cut loose and start on something new.

As any writer will probably tell you, it's finding a balance in all that you do. Neglecting your work is fine--but only enough to look at it with fresh eyes. I suppose this is why many writers suggest that you work on something new before revising your most recently completed work. The problem for me is then finding the time for both revising and working on the new material (but that is another day's post). For now, I have to give myself both time to think about my work while simultaneously working on said work. I think this comes in the form of adapting to the unexpected (something I will get into another time as well).

I think, that the best course of action, is to embrace your negligence, to realize that YOU WILL divert from your writing plans, that YOU WILL miss days of writing. Once this is made apparent, it's easier not to be too hard on yourself for not writing because of an emergency or bad day or whatever. Just remember that by embracing your negligence you are bringing an enemy closer. You don't want it to become your friend, you just want to keep a better eye on it, keep it in check, notice when it's taking over the conversation. Because if you know what it is up to, you can better retaliate with specific writing schedules and the inevitable reschedules.

You've done your neglecting for today. Go show your story/novel/poem some love. It misses you.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Snow Days

They are good--even when you have to help your friends shovel their drives.


Monday, December 7, 2009

Adventure to Willa Cather's Childhood Home

This weekend, a friend of mine and I cruised on down to Red Cloud, Nebraska, a historic town for its affiliation with Willa Cather. Sadly, we did not make it there in time to go on an official tour. Instead, we wandered the streets with a tour map we pilfered from an unmanned Opera House lobby.

The air was cold and getting colder, this being dusk and all. The city streets we are but empty of cars and drivers, and we were the only ones on foot. I wore my plaid brown and green pants that everyone seems to think are pajamas, and a zip up hoody. My friend wore his checkered slip ons and is even taller than me (and I'm 6'3"). We figured we looked like a "Big-City" couple, enjoying the sites of this "quaint town" (which is a problem nowadays: two guys--or even girls--hanging out by themselves are often looked upon as a couple.) Regardless of what the locals thought of our sexual orientation, we stuck out like lone stalks of corn that had been missed by a thresher.

It didn't take long to hit all the "major" locations: her childhood home, the house My Antonia was based on, and a handful of other houses and buildings that were used in her fiction or housed inhabitants she based her characters off. We were in and out of the town in less than an hour.

Our only interaction with the locals was my friend being given a smile--then a cold shoulder--to his question, witnessing a group of very drunk people hanging out at the community center, and being gobbled at by a fat dude riding in a minivan. What, exactly, that was supposed to mean, we couldn't guess--but decided we really didn't want to know.

Really, the best part of the entire excursion was the 6 hour conversation during the to and from drive. Big things are on the horizon for the two of us, things that might fail miserably, things that might be life-changing, things that might simply give the two of us a direction and purpose for life. Regardless, we're going to be stepping out soon and trying something big, big, big. Of course, I will keep you updated. In the meantime, let your fantastical minds run wild with the possibilities.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Breaking the Ending

As November is over, so is no-shave November. I am keeping up the growth until the beard party we're having--then who knows. I will be sure to post a "final" product though, so you may all laugh at my scantily clad chin.

In reference to the title, I finally did it. I broke the ending to my novel, Jumping Off Bridges. And it is a very good thing.

I've always heard that good writers "kill their darlings." I have done this. Without mercy. At least in other places. However, I've hung and clung to the ending worse than a sleeping bat clings to its roost. Funny thing is, I never looked at the ending as a darling. It's not that I was incredibly smitten with what I had written, but it was the ending I had envisioned when I first put my fingers to the keyboard.

I've mentioned before that this novel started with the intent of being a short story, a short story that I only had an ending for. Like most organic things, the story became a novella and the novella became a novel--yet I still had my ending in mind. I wrote the whole thing to write that last scene. While it was never my favorite part of the novel--I think that comes somewheres in the middle--it was what I had always intended and, thus, tried to make everything fit around. As any writer knows--novice or expert--forcing your story to do what you want and not what it wants causes catastrophic problems. This is what I've been doing for the last few revisions, this stuffing into my preconceived mold, and it is no wonder that I keep feeling like something just isn't right. It doesn't feel right because it isn't right. This is not the ending the story demands, but the one I've imposed, and it doesn't make sense.

So I've let it go. I've realized my intentions were foolish--especially when my novel told me time and time again what should happen at the end. I ignored my own words. I ignored the whispers of my prose--a very, very dangerous thing to do. But they finally erupted last night, punching through my half-sleep musings and screaming for me to quit booping around and do what they'd been telling me all along.

What's better? It won't take long to fix this either. Not only will it make my novel a zillion times better--and finally complete--it involves the rewriting of three scenes. Three. That's it.

It just goes to show that the smallest of tweaks can fix the biggest of problems, and reiterates the sound advice that a writer should listen to her story. It does not care what you, the writer, wants. Stories live their own lives; it is our duty to simply record them. We are their Tivo. And like all recording devices, the work comes out the highest quality it can be when we take the time to listen.

If you have any thoughts on this from your own writing, or advice you've heard, I'd love to keep this conversation going. I hope to gear this blog more and more towards my writing process and breakthroughs and blocks I have. Have a wonderful weekend, everyone.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

+Best Parts of the Cold Months+

It really is a toss up.

p.s. For a larger, complete, and without the writing version of today's Gibberish, click here.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Egg Cooking Adventures

This past week, I've now tried two experiments, and they were both huge successes.

First, I started the week off by cooking up a batch of breakfast burritos, wrapping them in tin foil, and saving them to use for breakfast. All I have to do is pop them into the toaster oven, set the timer, and by the time I'm showered, dressed, and ready for work, I have tasty warm burritos waiting for me. I wasn't sure how they would turn out--and I really wish we had some salsa--but they were simple enough, just a little time consuming. The only thing that might "distinguish" these from other peeps burritos is that I made the eggs with some hot and spicy taco meat seasoning. Although I should have used more, I would suggest doing such a thing in the making of your own.

The other was last night. For some reason or another, I've been craving quiche. I don't exactly know why. Eggs aren't my favorite things in the world, yet I keep thinking that quiche sounded awesome.

Luckily, my wife had some leftover pie crust from Thanksgiving, so I simply took some of that, mashed it down into a tiny, personal-sized bowl, and mixed up some eggs, milk, flour, cheese, and spices. It turned out surprisingly well, though I kept having to squish it down: It kept rising like the leviathan from its murky depths. It was a rather exquisite leviathan though, and good eats to boot.

I may not be a master chef--or ever even amount to an apprentice--but I'm starting to feel rather comfortable in the kitchen, being able to throw random ingredients together and producing something not only edible but downright wonderful.

And now for something completely different:

I tried my hand at a 50 word or less story. This place decided they liked it. Check it out. It takes 30 seconds to read. If that.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

+No Two Alike+

It's true. All snowflakes are Highlanders.