Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Final Manifesto (take 2)

[EDIT: This posted in a somewhat different form back at the beginning of 2011. A lot happened prior to the New Year and I forgot to finish it properly, I have now rectified that in time for the one year anniversary of my last (proper) post!]

So ends the Manakalita Manifesto (version 4.0). I'm back for one more run around the blog, and then moving onto purpler pastures.

I stopped posting last spring to take off some of the unnecessary anxiety I was feeling for not posting to begin with. And by and large it's worked, I moved on to a few others things that were impending, most prominent among them getting married to my wife Catherine last May:

Picture © 2010 Dana Strickland


I think this is my favorite picture, though:

Picture © Dana Strickland

Sadly, I only got one of those cupcakes (a most excellent lemon one made by our friend Lauren) as we were bouncing around after the ceremony from guest to guest the rest of the night. A bunch were left over, but we forgot to pack any for our honeymoon. Sigh.

When we returned, I was supposed to get to the business of finishing up the final three scripts for the Critical Millennium series I started for my former creative/business partner Drew Gaska and our (well, his now) company BLAM! Ventures. Yes, these are the three scripts I was supposed to have finished at the end of 2009. Obviously life happened in full force, and continues to, as I only finished one of them. Treatments for the other two are pending, where Drew will finish the scripting duties and a magnificent series will be produced for 2012. Really.

Anyway, the first series, Critical Millennium: Dark Frontier, was released last summer to rave reviews. If you haven't read it yet, go buy it. Issues one through three are out in stores and online, and the fourth one is on the horizon (with the hardcover collection out in time for your next gift goiving holiday, to be sure). Here's the first cover for Dark Frontier, with art by the very talented Dan Dussault:

Critical Millennium and all associated titles ™ and © 2010 
Andrew E. C. Gaska and BLAM! Ventures, LLC

In addition to taking time away from the blog, I've also backed off from writing for the most part (the above script aside). I moved onto expanding my horizons, dabbling in welding and researching a bunch of other fields I want to try my hand at.
The welding spark (yes, yes--pun) was our honeymoon, where we went up to Massachusetts to an art and craft program called Snow Farm and took a sculptural welding class together. I've wanted to work with metal for a long time, and this was a nice little taste of what could be. So the decision was made to educate myself so more and see what else it could be. I have more to learn in the future beyond my brief forays last year, but I look forward to the possibilities. Meantime, here's a couple of things we put together:

Pictures © 2010 Christian and Catherine Berntsen 

The owl got auctioned off, but we kept the American Radiator sculpture and a couple of others, all of which happily reside in our garden.

Along with Day Job and assorted reading, catching up on four seasons of Lost, a couple of Doctor Who and the like, that's been most of my past year. What holds for the future, you ask? That's the question.

I'm just about done with my fiction writing sabbatical of sorts, and I intend to get back to blogging. Just not here.

The Manakalita Manifesto no longer reflects where I'm at. Truth be told I never really had a clear direction for what this blog was about. Some vague thoughts, a few stabs at coherence, but it never really jelled for me. As I'm wont to do, I'm starting fresh. But this time I'm not doing it alone.

I originally planned to invite you to Cool Beans and Such. It was to be a blog about my life (because all blogs are pretty much self serving that way) and the things that fascinate me. I will still do that, but in recent weeks something exciting has come together with a couple of friends and the promise of that collaboration is too good to pass up.

So, along with my fiends Paul Wargelin and Bryan Landsberg, we are launching Scribblers Hall, a blog of art and fiction and the collision of the two (and more).

We'll be premiering the blog on April 15th--normally tax day--but the IRS was kind enough to move that to the following Monday because they obviously sensed we needed that day to go live [EDIT 04/18/11: Yeah, didn't happen, some time in May I imagine. Sorry, kids] . I haven't been excited about writing and creating this way in a very long time, and it is a welcome feeling.

The Manifesto will remain online for as long as I see value in that, but I'm moving on from here. The internet is ripe for the picking, and the world past my computer screen is just begging to be explored.

Life is waiting.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Not "Goodbye," just a "See ya later."

Things have been anxious for me lately, hence the lack of posting (and I had done fairly good in 2009).  Part of it is my upcoming wedding (the planning of which is in relatively high gear now and going well), part of it is Day Job (nothing worrisome like losing it, just change in the system) and other things of a more personal nature.

Rather than fret over not posting, I have decided to sign off for a bit in an effort to ease my mind over things that shouldn't cause me anxiety anyway. A sabbatical of sorts.

This is, of course, after I do a little makeover on the blog (nifty new banner, slightly easier to read postings, etc). I've got good timing that way.

25x52 will move to its own blog as planned, I've been playing with that layout as well. I have fallen behind on my donations, but plans are afoot to make that up and post them retroactively. I also plan to have a little addition content on that project as well. With luck, that will roll out at some point in April, and I'll make one more post here announcing it before shutting up for good until at least Autumn.

In the meantime, I'll continue to learn to live, taking a cue from here:

Image © 2010 Christian Berntsen

Right now, though, I'm going to go watch an episode of Doctor Who and go to bed.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Don't smoke, kids. Or maybe smoke, if you're on a break an in a gold metallic suit. Or somthing...

Hmmm, haven't blogged in over a month. Time to rectify that.

And how do we do that? By showing the hypocrisy that is apparently thriving in Star Wars--and it's not George Lucas tellikng us he never promised a third trilogy. Rather, it's via the seemingly innocent C-3PO:

Awkward? Yeah, but even more so when you see this...

(The folks at io9 dug up this bit of evidence.)

What kind of game are you playing, Goldenrod?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Life sucks less because you can make Lemonade

I watched a documentary the other night that wound up having a profound affect on me, it was called Lemonade. The film was about, well, I'll just rip the short version from the site:

What do people who were once paid to be creative for a living do when they’re laid off? They get creative with their own lives. Lemonade is an inspirational film about 16 advertising professionals who lost their jobs and found their calling, encouraging people to listen to that little voice inside their head that asks, “What if?”

You may not be an advertising professional or work in a creative field; and hell, you may not even be on the verge of or even close to losing your job, but it certainly gives you something to think about. With my creative life in flux as it has been the last year or so, and with my leaving BLAM! Ventures--the publishing company I co-founded--last fall, I found the stories of the sixteen people involved at turns moving, enlightening and familiar.

Lemonade creator Erik Proulx is one of those sixteen, he founded the blog Please Feed The Animals to help other advertising professionals transition to new lives. In creating Lemonade, he sought to give hope to those in a position he'd been in three times himself, on the receiving end of a pink slip.

From coffee roasting to painting to gender transitioning, the breadth of change these people have gone through is simply amazing, and demonstrates that the world doesn't end when you lose a job. In fact, it can be the beginning you never knew you needed. Here is the trailer: 


One of the best, and most often quoted lines in the film comes from Lisa Hickey, who said:

“Don’t be the person looking for a job. Be the person doing something interesting.”

You can watch the full video here on Hulu. If you've ever thought about what you'd do if you lost your job, or even if you've thought about ditching your job and following your dreams, the 35 minutes is well worth your time.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

25x52: An Update

I missed yesterday's posting, but that's OK (really, it is), because I am in the process of moving 25x52 to its own blog!

After giving it some thought, I felt that what I'm trying to do with 25x52 would be better served in a place dedicated to the idea, rather than thrown in among a mix of other thoughts. I will, of course, cross-post here when I make a new donation, but the details and links will all be on the new blog. The added bonus is I will be able to expand what I cover in relation to my donations and elaborate thoughts on giving and community service in general. And where will that blog be located, you ask? Why, right here:

The link will remain private until I post next week's donation on February 12th (and I'll remind you in those handy cross-posts I mentioned a moment ago) as I'm still figuring out the layout. I found a nice template at Deluxe Templates, which is the first time I've not used a standard Blogger template, and will serve me until such a time as I learn to create one myself, or find a benefactor who would be willing to help fund that particular part of the project.

I will also be changing a couple of things. Actually, those changes have begun already in how I format the posts, and it may continue to evolve over time. For one, I've discontinued posting receipts with my personal info redacted. I have the first few up and I think that's enough. I initially put them up there to both act as proof of what I was doing and be another spur to call others to action by demonstrating the end result, and that it is not that hard to do this if you have the means. 

I also think all the links I placed were too much, so there will only be one on the image I post at the top of the post--which will go to the home page--and one directly to a place on the site where you can donate (if there is such a page, otherwise I will indicate how best to make your donation below the link).

As indicated, I will also be expanding some of the coverage for 25x52, this may include interviews, impact stories and whatever else I can think of. It is my hope the blog will grow over time, and that you will watch and hopefully participate as it does.

I will be making this week's donation during the weekend, but will post it on the new blog next week. Until then, have a great day.

Friday, January 29, 2010

25x52: Adventures in Sci Fi Publishing

Bringing you the authors of science fiction and fantasy.

- from the AISFP main page

Why I chose Adventures in Sci Fi Publishing:
A little over a year ago I discovered Adventures in Sci Fi Publishing via Lou Anders, editorial Director of Pyr Books. Lou or one of his authors was being interviewed and I decided to tune in. At that point, while podcasts were something I had known about for years, they were something I had never really listened to. After listening to that show, and browsing through some of the archives (along with the recent discovery of another fine podcast, If You're Just joining Us, at about the same time), I became a big fan of the format and of AISFP in particular.

Creator and host Shaun Farrell, along with his charming co-conspirator Sam Wynns, bring humor, love of subject and a truckload of invaluable information every time a new show hits the internet. There is a good-natured chemistry to the hosts, evident in their banter and obvious enjoyment of each others company. An aspiring writer himself, Shaun proves he is also an adept interviewer who honestly enjoys what he does and relishes the chance to learn something new during the time spent interviewing authors. Sam brings her lifelong passion for reading and all things science fiction and fantasy to the show, along with her quick wit and her other passion: teasing Shaun.

And while Shaun and Sam have a good time together, the real heart of AISFP are the interviews. Each episode brings such luminaries as Michael Moorcock, Robert J. Sawyer, Neil Gaiman and Larry Niven. Newer writers such as Tobias S. Buckell, Mary Anne Mohanraj and Thom Lloyd are also featured, as well as publishers, editors, retailers. And while the focus is on publishing, there are the occasional jaunts into other media with interview subjects such as musician Bear McCreary (Battlestar Galactica) and TV writer/producer Joseph Mallozzi (Stargate: Atlantis). Hey, I was even interviewed (briefly) for a project I'm involved in this past fall, which was very exciting for me. So, all in all a well rounded, well produced, and very fun program (my minor participation notwithstanding).

One of the reasons I began 25x52 was not only to give to charities who needed help, but also to support worthy personal and artistic endeavors that entertain and enrich our lives. AISFP fits that bill for me and many others. I have been given hours of enjoyment, and learned more about writing in the past year than I have since, well, probably the rest of my adult life. The show had a rough 2009, with Shaun Farrell moving and changing careers, and episodes more sporadic than in previous years. But friends have stepped into to help, and Shaun remains committed. So do I. 

I hope you will join us.

(The donation button is on the left side of the main page)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tuesday's Ripe Pears

Haven't posted much of late aside from my 25x52 project. A short one with some old news to rectify that.

Recent movies I've seen: Up in the Air and The Book of Eli.

Verdict: I enjoyed both, but Up in the Air was the better of the two. Both are worth a watch if either appeals to you, though.

The sooper secret show I mentioned a while back, well it wasn't that secret, but it was apparently not well publicized and most people seemed to have had to win a contest to get into. And who did Catherine and I see? Well, Evelyn Evelyn of course. They were performing in a small showcase at the Slipper Room in Manhattan. It was ostensibly their first public performance, but I am skeptical of this. You can search them on YouTube and find a couple of clips. Supposedly they don't like being photographed or filmed (so alas, being the obedient boy that I am,  I acquiesced to their demands of no pictures so all I have to show you is the awning above the Slipper Room's side entrance), but you can see some early footage which I'm not quite certain they are aware of. The twins (for that's what they are, Siamese twins) are a bit sheltered. They didn't speak outside of whispers between each other, or to the host Sxip Shirey, but sang in clear and beautiful voices while looking frightened and lovely and not quite strange but mysterious (yes, mysterious).

The odd thing about it all was even though they don't like pictures, a camera crew was there shooting a documentary on them. Sure, they only shot them from behind, but still.... Catherine and I were briefly interviewed, don't know if we'll make the cut. I'll let you know if we do. (That's funny, too, since we don't like pictures much either, or at least I don't).

Neil Gaiman was in attendance as well, as the twins were the discovery of his fiancee Amanda Palmer and her friend (and my favorite musician) Jason Webley. We actually didn't participate in the contest to get a spot in the audience (which was to draw Siamese animals, or some such thing), I think we got the invite because of the series of flash stories I wrote recently based on Jason's song titles. But whatever the reason, we had a wondrous time, and were back home at a reasonable hour because the show was at 3pm.

You should follow the link to their MySpace page and listen to their songs, they are quite catchy. An album will be available in March, and if you get a chance, see them in action, they'll be touring this spring.

And that's all I have for you this evening. Good night.