Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Month in review, February, 2012. Thank God it's over.

Another month shot to Hell.

So far, this is possibly the most stressful, and the worst month in my recent memory.  It's also involved the most politics, so my bet is that there's a connection there.

My first blog of the month was the review of last month, but the first real article was on making a villain. It's simpler than one might think... and far more complicated.

There looked like there was going to be a problem with my writing .... and I'd like to thank Karina, among others, for their support .... but I managed to struggle through.

I started with a little filler -- a Catholic news roundup in the middle of the month, mainly because there was so much stupidity floating around.  Remember what I said about too much politics?  This was it.

I did an anatomy of a breakup, using one of my own collapsing friendships to illustrate the point. I thought it was appropriate for Valentine's day.  First the initial incident, then the emotional fallout, and then wondering what to do about all the promises made and debts unfulfilled.

Then I went into hiding.

Thankfully, I still had even more articles to summarize, in The War On God.

Music blogs.

This was the month of Lindsey Stirling, really.  She did a beautiful version of Lord of the Rings, and followed it up with one of her own works.  It's quite lovely all around, really.

Self Defense

There were almost no Self Defense posts this month, but they talked me into it.

The How-To Columns of self defense.

There is a local law enforcement seminar, if anyone in New York is interested

And, there's something on how to punch someone.

That's it.  Be well everyone.  By next Monday, I hope to have some good news.  Because in 11 hours and 55 minutes, I'm going to be sending another book off to a publisher. Here's hoping.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Catholic news roundup, February, 2012: the War on God

Yes, I'm back.  And, yup, I picked an overly inflammatory title in an attempt to pander to my audience and get readers. So sue me.

Let me see.  To start with, I already covered a large part of this in my Catholic news roundup two weeks ago.  However, guess what -- I made a news roundup into a news post.  So, if you've ever heard of this stupid little thing called an HHS Mandate involving Obamacare, you can read all about it here.

If you want to be amused, and slightly terrified, after months and months of Occupy Wall Street people running roughshod over public places, you will be happy to know that there have finally been arrests of a whole protest movement.  However, they were arrested for praying in front of the white house.

Let's see.... you've probably heard of a really stupid phrase going around lately called "The war on women."  I covered it a little here.  However, I have a take on the precipitating incident you may find interesting.

And, finally, I was allowed to step AWAY from politics.  I covered Fat Tuesday, FAQs about Lent (last year's readers may remember how well that went over), and Karina Fabian has a book she wants you to look at for lent this year.

And, and interesting article inspired by recent stupidity -- Do Catholics Believe in Birth Control?  The answer is ... sort of.

I also discussed the Million-dollar ripoff of the New York archdiocese -- and you thought the priests were the problem. I then did a brief examination of Occupy wall street and the revenge of the Vatican ninjas -- just when you thought you were safe, huh? Then Proposition 8 was overturned -- my only note there is that it might be a little soon to pop the champagne.

Be well all.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Happy Vacation

Today is a federal holiday.

Traditionally, my blog hits go down during this time period. So, I am going to take today off.

Also, I'm probably going to undergo radio silence for a while. Possibly until March.  We'll see how that works out.

Be well, all.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Anatomy of a breakup, 3: promises to keep

"The woods are lovely dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep."  ~Robert Frost.
So, after the dust settles from the emotional mushroom cloud, what happens then?

Of course, you're wondering: what do you mean? It's over. You recover, you move on.

But there are promises we each make in a relationship, aren't there?  I made promises to her.  She wanted some help on writing fights scenes, and she wanted my input of what a guy would feel in certain romantic situations. Technically, I think these blogs would cover the latter, if she ever read them (I'm still betting she doesn't), but I can't consult on fight scenes without making them generic   I'm tempted to write her a fight scene or two and email them straight to her.

Why? Because I promised.  She stopped the friendship, but does that release me from the obligations I put myself under?

I'm not going to ask her, because I'm seriously not certain I could tolerate an answer one way or another. If she says yes, am I supposed to be angry that she'd take advantage of my good nature to have me write? And what if I wasn't angry? And if I fulfilled my duty, wouldn't that be awkward to work with her on it? Not to mention, if she refused free assistance, how much must she truly hate me?
My attempt at a chibi

And she made promises to me. She said she wanted to return all of the efforts I put in to helping her sell some online products, by helping me sell my book when the time came. Should I really hold her to that?  She also wanted to draw me a Vatican Ninja chibi ... mainly because the ones I created on my computer kind of sucked, and she insisted that "A Pius Man deserves better than that." (Looking at my artwork (on the right) who can disagree with her?)

Then again, at one point, she also offered me use of stunt people she knew who owed her a favor .... this was back when I first started filming book trailers. I thought she might be quite nice for Maureen McGrail. She had the right coloring, and such beautiful green eyes ....

Anyway, how does one enforce a promise? Especially with someone who unilaterally cut off a friendship. The bonds of friendship have no hold then, right?  She said nothing of debts and promises, like the past never happened. But it did happen.  So, do I fulfill my promise to her, regardless of whether she asks or not, or whether she fulfills her promises or not?

The point is, for you writers taking notes, is that there is never a clean break in a relationship -- friendship or dating.  There will always be some part of the past than sticks around, whether you like it or not, whether your characters like it or not. And these relationships will stick with your characters in one way or another. It will alter how they approach similar situations; sometimes they may even approach dissimilar situations differently because of a surface similarity.

For example, I made compromises that ensured I kept my virtue intact against an amorous woman, and those compromises eventually resulted in her drugging me.  Now, I've drawn an even harder line, one that only two people so far have met. And one of those people never wants to talk with me again.  How will this relationship affect me in the long run?  No idea, I'm not even over it yet.

Though, for you writers out there, how would your character be affected in the long run?  What will linger? Will memories? Scents? Gifts from one to another? Or promises to keep? Debts unpaid and oaths forsworn?  Yes, this is over dramatic, but it does depend on the context, doesn't it?

Anyway, that's the last in this series. I hope you've all found this ... well, at least entertaining, if not useful.  I'm not big into reading angst, but then again, Twilight has a large following, so what do I know?

So .... anyway, something amusing for those of you people who have been depressed, or feel cheated by these blogs.  I give you something perfectly nerdy, and perfectly romantic.

A Portal Proposal.

Anatomy of a Breakup, 2: Emotional Fall out, and (Bruce) Banner moments

Happy Valentine's day.  If you are having a good Valentine's day, with a great date all planned (or already done, if you're smart and did it on the weekend), then you might want to read today's earlier article, and this one, so you can be happy you're not me. Trust me, if you want to appreciate what you have, it's good to know what happens when you lose it.

Now, the earlier article was all about an example of a relationship / friendship falling to pieces.  In this cases, it fell apart over the course of months with one party not even being aware of it.

That ignorant buffoon I speak of is, of course, myself.

So, how should a character react to having a relationship suddenly and expectantly go south on him? Well, in A Pius Man, when relationships go south, guns are pulled out.  Earlier, I mentioned CS Lewis' book On Grief, and my reaction was much the same as the traditional stages of grief ... well, partially.

Denial: I didn't cry, mainly because my body has forgotten how to cry in full-out sobbing format. There were tears, but not all that much. I was quite, quite numb. I don't know if it counts as denial, but I couldn't think very clearly.  This woman was my best friend for years.  She brought out every good instinct in me.  My friends could see it, I could see it.  I was a better person because she was in my life.  She defined all of my best qualities, and made me want her good qualities. There had to be a mistake here.  Just because she didn't "love" love me, didn't mean the friendship was over, did it? That didn't make sense. Could it? I had to be wrong. I had to have misread it. I had to have been illiterate. This was my best friend. I told her everything. And I mean everything.  She would have told me to my face if she believed what I read -- at least on the phone.

Bargaining: My next thought was to make certain I understood everything involved, included that this was the end of the friendship as well. I asked her if I should cancel my ticket to California -- a plan we had been working on for 8 months now -- and she said yes.  Not only was she not in love with me -- which I could live with -- but she didn't even want to hang out. She couldn't care about me as a friend. That nail gun sound is sealing the coffin on our friendship.

Anger: Oh, I have that part down.  As I write this (the week of the 5th), I am quite a powder keg.  I have had to de-friend people on Facebook whom I normally tolerate because I am ready to tear them a few new orifices.  I am generally not a "nice" person, though I shoot for merely "good".  This week, I want to hurt something.  On the bright side, my cardio class and punching bag routines went over like a dream. Lift weights? No problem. Roll out the punching bags and beat them across the floor? Hell yes.

The strange thing is that I'm not angry at anyone in particular. Everything, yes, but no one person. I'm not even angry at the one who initiated this.  Could I do things to hurt her, even though she's 3,000 miles away? Sure, that's easy. I could write to her father to tell him about the whole relationship from start to finish, and he's a bastard, and no mistake; there is Facebook, and the internet, and all the various and sundry ways you can hurt someone that way -- it's not rocket science, any internet troll can do that.

Would I do anything to hurt her, though? No.  That has no interest for me, and it makes me physically ill to even contemplate doing it.

It's possible that I took my confusion to be anger -- it's possible, since I'm quite confused. This came out of nowhere, even though she said she'd been writing the letter for months. Her telling me to redeem my ticket implies that she was jerking me around about the California trip as recently as three weeks before the letter. So, was she lying to me the whole time? Did something happen since then?

There is a lot of adrenaline flowing in me.  I have redhead genes (redheads do have surges of adrenaline, more than the average person), but my heart will sometimes race, and I feel all the fear and excitement of a particularly dangerous roller coaster ride, only without any of the enjoyment such a ride should entail.  It is the fear and excitement more akin to my being strangled in Krav Maga, back to when I had no idea what I was doing, and the training partner was really trying to kill me. Only this time, there is no endorphin chaser once the choke is broken, but my body feels like it's constantly under attack.
[More below the break.]

Anatomy of a breakup, part 1: "Dear John"

[I think at the end of the day that this is a writing resource. For those of you who have never had a bad breakup, enjoy -- because this is what you'll never have to go through, and you will never need to. I am recording it all for you right now.]
This is just some of how I do chivalry in my novels

When CS Lewis, the author of the Chronicles of Narnia, lost his wife, he went out and wrote a book about it.  It was simply called On Grief.

Last week, as you may have noticed, a very dear friend, in fact, someone I was in love with, sent me a Dear John letter.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the concept, a breakup letter. At least, it usually is.

In this case, it was kind of confusing on multiple levels, and not that simple. I was in love with her; her, not so much. I didn't make it a secret, nor did I force the issue. But "breakup" is the way to summarize what happened.

Anyway, why am I writing this? Well, I thought last week that I would simply go into hibernation and leave the blog alone. My mood is not healthy. I was usually an inch away from biting someone's head off. Several "friends" of mine whose disrespectful views I usually tolerate got on my last nerve, and it was either cut off all contact, or eviscerate them in a public forum online.  And I even partially failed at that, too.

However, this is Valentine's day. And, ironically, the Dear John letter arrived almost a year to the day after one of my last blogs on the subject of romance in writing. So, this is sort of perfect timing.

So, in the tradition of CS Lewis, more or less, I am going to give you the anatomy of a breakup.

[As a disclaimer, I know what you're thinking -- is he using his blog to take subtle shots at this ex-friend of his? No. That would presume she reads the blog. As I noted last time, it was a 50/50 chance she read that blog, and it's a sure thing that the odds are even less this time, don't you think?  Also: I am not reading the letter, I am not quoting it, I am reconstructing it as best as I can from memory.]

[More below the break.]

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

There might be some delay

A while ago, I mentioned that I was in love with someone. I blogged about it, I did an analysis of it.

And now I've been burned by it.

That's as many details as I feel like giving right now. It hurts -- literally, my head is pounding and my eyes are burning right this minute -- and trying to come up with something else to write basically makes me feel like someone is driving a spike into my brain.

So I may not be doing an awful lot of blogging right now. Much of what I've done with this blog has been one week at a time, and occasionally one day at a time.  So, unless someone releases a large load of cool music right this minute, the odds of a regular blog are ... unlikely.

Well, I'm also hoping to hear back from Mercedes Lackey and her publisher about granting me an interview, so I suspect that's up for grabs too.  Odds are more likely than not I will be posting erratically, at best.

I'm sorry about this, everyone. I didn't exactly expect my social life to interfere with the blog. But then again, I never had a social life to interfere before.

Until then, be well everybody.  


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Music Blog: Lord of the Rings.

This was just fun. I think I've played this at least three dozen times since it came up.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Making a villain

Bad guys don't need to wear black.
But then again, black can be awesome.
So, what do Moriarty, Modred, and Sauron have in common?

Easy, they're all bad guys.

What else to they have in common? While all villains in their respective stories, very little connects the three.  Moriarty is a math professor gone bad, seemingly to start a criminal empire for the sake of it; an intellectual exercise for fun and profit. Sauron, of Lord of the Rings, is a being of pure evil who wants to conquer the word., with him as the only free person in it.  Modred ... well, depending on what edition you're looking at, he's either a a pure tool of his mother, a weapon of evil, a manipulative little wretch, or, just guy who's gotten caught up in events that lead to a train wreck (for the last version, I highly recommend Mary Stewart's novels.... in fact, just read her. Now)

Creating a villain can be no different from creating every other character in a universe. A character is a character, and if you're trying to create a fully 3-Dimensional person on the page, it shouldn't matter if it's a protagonist or an antagonist. With Sauron, there is literally an entire backstory on him stretching back thousands of years (Tolkien, The Silmarillion); Modred was given a great deal of emotional and personal depth by Mary Stewart in her novels of King Arthur; and Moriarty ... well, he was a tool by Arthur Conan Doyle because he was tired of writing Sherlock Holmes, other people have stepped up to give Moriarty more of a back story, including Isaac Asimov.

In the case of my bad guys, I tend to have the history of not only the antagonist's parents, but their grandparents. They have hobbies and motivations and a history. They have back stories, and I could probably make books out of the bad guys I make ... but then again, the last bad guy as protagonist was probably The Talented Mr. Ripley.

However, there are schools of thought behind making villains.  One is that "the villains really see themselves as the good guys; the heroes of their own stories."

My problem with that is that it presumes the villain cares about "right" and "wrong."  Good, bad, they're the ones with the weapon. How many people honestly think Saddam Hussein believed that he was doing "the right thing"? Or maybe his ultra-violent, raping, torturing sons? The equally late and un-lamented Osama?

If you're thinking that "oh, all those people were sociopaths" -- who says?  There are plenty of amoral little bastards out there. They don't think over morals, ethics, Nietzsche, the will to power ... though you'd be surprised how many think they are beyond good and evil.

This is my school of villainy.  My bad guys don't care about what's right and wrong.  They don't care about anything but what they want.
[More below the break]