Real life

17 Feb

Cloudy

 

For the last couple of years, I’ve been nose-to-the-grindstone writing stuff for work and for freelance that was almost exclusively tech-related. Even the fun, goofy stuff I wrote for CNN last year was all based in the real world, all of it structured as commentary or essay even if it wasn’t completely meant to be taken as super-serious.

Even when I was recapping TV and doing the movie trailer videos, those were grounded in the reality of what I was writing about. These weren’t universes I created, I was talking about them more like a reporter, telling you what they were about from an outsider’s perspective.

mexcentricsNow, outside of work, the bulk of my writing for the last few months has been fiction. I’m working on two things that I’m alternating between apart from writing comics about monkeys in space and just finished revisions on a sketch comedy show going up in March that I was able to work on with some close friends. Then there’s another thing that may or may not happen in the audio world, but fingers crossed because it would be a lot of fun, I think. If I’m not posting here (he said, looking at the date of the last entry), it’s because I’m doing those things most every night.

It’s really different writing the fiction things. Fun and freeing and putting me in a mindset that I’d neglected for a long while. It’s fun to float between worlds like this and, being that I never got into drugs or heavy drinking, the only way I really know how to do it.

Real real life has been kind of sweet lately. The kids have gone from pitiless marauders of the fall to more manageable sweethearts of the spring. We booked a big family trip for later this year. I’ve gotten to see and catch up with more friends in the last month and a half than the previous six months combined, which was one of my big New Year’s not-so-much-a-resolution-but-just-something-I-want-to-do things. But, like you, I deal with toxic people sometimes or walk away in a stupor due to layers of bureaucracy or hear about something on Twitter that is so dumb, so asinine that I can’t help but talk about it like everyone else.

Real life is beautiful and magic, but it’s also random and mundane, sometimes at the same time and finding beauty and magic in all that is the challenge. (And, really, why we write.)

I wouldn’t call it an escape hatch, exactly, but more like a really diverting puzzle that you’re continually trying to solve. When pieces lock together, it’s so satisfying that it makes all the other stuff so much easier to deal with.


 

Work stuff

Busy couple of weeks leading into some insanely busy of weeks coming in March for South by Southwest Interactive.

Two pieces I wrote after the whole Total Frat Move thing got a really nice response.

First, I was lucky enough to catch a Tweet in passing last month from a woman named Vicki Flaugher, who was getting ready to shut down her account and give up social media. It was completely by chance that I was about to write a column on that very idea and when I asked if she’d chat with me, she was open and honest about why she needs to take a break from Twitter, Facebook and everything else.

The column got a good response from other people who feel overwhelmed by their daily online rituals. Vicki ended up writing a follow-up piece for Bulldog Reporter where she said some very kind words.

The girls outside

Another column that got some positive response (and one negative Letter to the Editor) was one I wrote about the challenges of raising girls in a tech-heavy house when sometimes I just want them to go play outside or put down the iPad. My wife, who usually reads or sees most photos or text I’m going to put online about our family in advance, didn’t get a chance to read this one before it got published and I was scared to death that she was going to tell me she didn’t agree with my point of view or that she thought I was overestimating the amount of thought we’ve given it. It turns out, to my relief, that she liked the story and so did other folks in our family who were thrilled to see a photo of Lilly and Carolina in the paper. (I cropped it so you can barely tell, but Carolina on the left there is lifting her shirt and sticking out her belly in an obvious homage to Tracy Morgan.)

Photo by Ricardo B. Brazziell / American-Statesman

Photo by Ricardo B. Brazziell / American-Statesman

I did a roundup of places to play video games and tabletop games in Austin. It was a lot of work putting it together, but as part of my research, I got to spend an afternoon playing video games at Pinballz and that was an incredible amount of fun.

Last week, the column was a roundup of South by Southwest Interactive 2013 stuff we know so far. In about three weeks, the fest returns and I’m going to be covering it again. I’m trying to stay positive and not get too overwhelmed, but it’s pretty much taking over everything right now and I’m riding that wave.

Photo by me for the American-Statesman

And the new column that just went up is about the ongoing influence of SimCity, which will have a new version out next month. I spoke to some Austin students who used SimCity 4 Deluxe to build a city 150 years in the future. Then they built a physical model of that city and are taking it to Washington D.C. to compete in a Future City competition.


Digital Savant Micros have been published on the topics of “What is Facebook’s Social Graph?” “What is Vine?”, “Who has the best wireless service in Austin?” and “What is a sound bar?”


I had a humorous Twitter spat with Verizon about unused data and I covered TEDxAustin 2013, which once again was worth spending a Saturday listening to people inspire you and get you to think about big ideas. The post I wrote is so comprehensive it took me two days to write, which perhaps is overkill, but recapping for so long at TWOP blessed and cursed me with endurance and a need to finish what I started.

Wow, seeing that list all put together just made me really, really exhausted. Excuse me while I go take a small nap before SXSW Interactive starts.

 


Other stuff

Meany and the zombiesI mentioned last time that the monkeys from space that we do comics about started a Twitter account.

The comic is chugging along. We did one about zombies and another about that cute little Iranian monkey that was blasted the fuck into space against his will. And we did one about poop, which with us is kind of a given.

This weekend, my wife went on a business-related trip (the business in this case is Zumba, but that’s a story for another blog entry, maybe, perhaps) so I watched the girls on my own, which was terrifying at first and then pretty OK in the end. We theorized on the phone about whether the girls behave better when one of us isn’t around because they’re not competing for the attention of two parents at the same time or if maybe having one parent out of town freaked them out just enough to be obedient. Whatever happened, this weekend was not the crazy, Mr. Mom comedy of hijinks I thought it would be. In fact, it was kind of wonderful.

The big mistake I made was watching Eraserhead for the first time on Hulu, which put a bunch of Criterion Collection movies out for free (free if you don’t mind annoying, tone-shattering commercials every 10 minutes). I’m a huge David Lynch fan and this was the only movie of his that I hadn’t watched all the way through.

Well, that was a big mistake. Not because the movie is bad (it’s brilliant) and not because I didn’t like it (I found it incredibly disturbing yet weirdly relatable), but… well… mewling tiny worm baby and terrified father. It did not exactly set the best tone for me for the weekend.

But then we went to the bounce castle warehouse and the kids ran around for three hours while I sat and read and all was well.

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