Friday, April 2, 2010

Woggy #28: Modesty Blaise

Sometime last year, I was browsing the staff picks shelf at my favorite local bookstore when I came across Modesty Blaise, the original 1965 novel based on a comic of the same name and written by the comic's creator. I had about a year previous enjoyed the movie, which was (I've since realized) based on the novel. I was just in the mood for some good fun fiction, and it turned out to be amazingly better than I had even expected. Oozing with fab 60s style and awesome spytastic butt-kicking action I had expected. An amazingly progressive cultural attitude and extremely well-developed, truly feminist heroine I did not.

As the book mentioned on the jacket it was based on a popular newspaper comic series from the same era, I instantly wanted to read not only all of the remaining novels in the series, but also wanted to find out if in fact one could get any of these comics in readable form.

It turns out that there is not one, but a whole series of graphic novel compilations of all the various storylines of the comic. My husband got me the first of the series as a gift, and I tore through it right away. It was different storyline-wise from the novel, but all the basic elements that I enjoyed were the same, plus in graphic novel form, it was all the more interesting and stylish. I couldn't wait to read more but wasn't sure where I'd get the books. Turns out, my husband said, he got it at the comic book store.

I have mentioned before in this blog my ambivalent feelings regarding comic book stores. These feelings were not assisted by a pre-Christmas shopping trip to a large comic book store in the Charleston, SC area in search of some suitable age-appropriate comics for my husband's young teenage cousin. The owner of that establishment, as well as the establishment itself, reinforced all of my old collegiate memories and stereotypes (did I mention the giant chain-mail costume that was also on sale there? Or the cockroach crawling around on the bookshelves, or the COMPLETELY inappropriate comic the guy recommended for our young giftee... but I digress...)

As it happens, I do have a small comics shop right in my neighborhood. It's presence has been known to me since moving to Seattle. It is in fact one of the pleasingly "old-Seattle" establishments remaining in my neighborhood that leave me in a general way, enjoying the interesting cultural mix of grub-meets-fance that is present all around my neighborhood. I have even thought of going inside. And yet I have remained always outside the door.

So, it was with some relief that I agreed the other week to join my husband for a weekend outing to the shop, since he knew I wanted more books, and he also had a book he wanted to get. But fate was not in our favor. That weekend as it happened, was our local Comicon, which I realized would be probably the worst weekend for me to attempt visiting the local store, if it in fact was even open. So we made a rain-check for a future weekend.

Prejudgments notwithstanding, my desire to read these books is high, and I've got someone to help me with moral support, so I'm confident that I soon will have the next few books in my hands. And after that, there are many, many books remaining in the series, not to mention all of the remaining novels in the newly republished novel series, and I intend to someday read them all. This, I swear!

Things To Complete this Woggy Project:
  • plan a visit to the comic store
  • actually go to the comic store
  • buy the next couple books in the comic series
  • read the next couple books in the series
  • repeat, repeat, repeat, until all have been read
  • buy the next novel in the novel series
  • read the next novel in the series
  • repeat, repeat, repeat until all have been read
  • kick mental butt with my fabulous breadth and depth of Modesty Blaise fan knowledge

Friday, March 26, 2010

Woggy #27: Guest Bath Floor

One of the earliest home improvement projects I took on after moving into my condo and getting married (which btw, was at least 7 years ago...) was decorating my guest bath, which in the case of my house is also the laundry room. If you don't count the flooring, the room itself has been complete for some very long time and must have been a success judged by the fact that whenever any of my guests who've been here before finds out that another one of my guests hasn't seen it, they always respond by jumping up and saying "Oh you've GOT to see the bath!!!" enthusiastically dragging said poor new guest, unawares and bewildered, down the hall. This is probably due to my unorthodox decor of "Space Station", inclusive of portholes with a view of Earth, a simulated sideways airlock, and a space monkey.

I can only hope everyone's enthusiasm for the space-like walls and ceiling have all these years kept everyone distracted away from the fact that the floors, which in general look pretty good, are nonetheless unfinished in just about every corner of the room, and have been practically permanently so for years now. Originally, I had tackled the flooring of both my bathrooms with a fervor to get rid of the boring white "builder's special" linoleum, constrained by the fact that I had read getting the bath floors redone was a pain due to various HOA regulations regarding something called a vapor barrier or something like that. I therefore decided that finding a flooring I could put on top of my existing flooring, one I could order in the mail and install myself, was obviously the ideal solution. And I was happy to find a nice industrial tiling that even came in the lovely space-station-y black I had been hoping for (seriously, only galvanized steel would have been more spiffy).

So began my flooring project, which I took on initially entirely without the assistance of my husband, since I not only had both the vision and the free time, I didn't want to have to wait for his available time nor did I relish the idea of working for hours in close quarters on such a project with another person.

I started with my master bath, and sturdy utility knife in hand, managed to customize the tiling in there to fit snugly from wall to wall, so that it is basically impossible to tell that the floor wasn't laid in the traditional fashion. The cutting was difficult work, requiring alot of brawn as well as precision, but it ended up being manageable in the small and relatively uniform space of that room.

By the time I was ready to move on to the guest bath, which was not only larger but shaped much more irregularly, I began to think it was probably necessary for me to get some assistance. I laid out all of the even, straight areas requiring minimal cutting, and then on an ambitious day I took on some of the tighter areas, still keeping things in the square-ish department, as the curved and skinny strips proved to be the most difficult parts to do. Once I got to this part, I talked it over with my husband and he agreed to help me with finishing off all of the corners and everything in time for the upcoming arrival of some house-guests (which always seems to work as a motivational factor when it comes to household projects).

However, time got away from us and the floor fell to the bottom of the list, until the guests were about to arrive and it became impossible to get it done in time. We just decided it would have to hold. Then when our guests didn't even seem to notice, we thought, hmm, maybe this isn't as urgent an issue as we thought? So it was put on the giant household to do list. And there it has sat ever since. Every year, when it's getting close to say, holiday time when there are many guests in the house, I always renew my hope that this project will actually get done, but really, it very stubbornly has years of inaction behind it that seem to work against any and all actual completion of this project.

This was a relatively neutral situation until we one day ended up needing a replacement of a fixture. Turns out the new one wasn't at all shaped like the old one, as can be clearly seen in the picture above. This, and the complete ridiculousness of how it looked I hoped would now work in favor of our quick completion, since we couldn't possibly let it sit looking that out of sorts, could we? (Turns out that yes, we could...) And thus my hope has faded with every year for any sort of easy solution.

Then this past holiday season, I received a robotic floor scrubber for a present. While it performed perfectly in all other rooms of the house, the first time I tried setting it on its own in the guest bath, the poor little guy valiantly did the best he could, but the traps laid in every other corner, not to mention the odd unevenness around our fixture, left it stopping and bleeping desperately for help at every fifth turn. In the end, it needed almost as much assistance from me if I had just cleaned the floor myself. At this, I resolved anew to get this floor completed, if for nothing else, for the peace of mind that I could let my Scooba clean the way it was meant to.

So I post this here now, hoping against dark hope that this project may someday (maybe even soon...) be completed, for the sake of happy Scoobas and content Space Monkeys alike.

Things Left To Complete This Woggy Project
  • Find the stack of extra black floor tiles
  • Get some new sharp utility knives and work gloves
  • Find wax pencil or crayons for marking up tiles
  • Schedule a day or a weekend to complete this project
  • Recut and/or replace tiles around new fixture
  • Cut and place remaining tiles around other corners and fixtures
  • Stand back and contentedly look at lovely finished floor, victory beverage in hand

Friday, March 19, 2010

Woggy #26: Saga of Brave Mita

So I can't say I remember which came first, the fan website (of woggy #25 fame) or my fanfic, but sometime around the creation of one, the other soon followed and the two have been married ever since. Whatever its beginnings, the Animal Crossing fanfic called (in its entirety) The Heroic Epic Saga of Brave Mita is the first and only fanfiction I have ever written in my entire life. And following in the tradition of most fanfictions I have otherwise seen, as well as in fine woggy tradition, this story was earnestly begun with plans for the future and intends to someday have an ending but has not to this day actually ever been completed.

Somewhere around the time I began Hermita's fan website, I decided it had been so long since I had written anything that to write something less serious, just for fun, certainly wouldn't hurt even though in the past I might have thought of fanfiction as something that was beneath a serious, adult writer (which is probably why I had never tried it before). It turned out that unlocking my creativity unfettered into a fanfiction, with no serious purpose or hope of publication, was exactly the sort of thing I needed in my life to get my personal energies (specifically of the writing kind) flowing in a positive creative direction again after many years of extreme abandonment. Since it was a non-serious endeavor, I took to writing this story from the point of view of Hermita, an overly-serious and extremely earnest and self-important character I had created in the course of playing my favorite videogame. As such I wrote in a style I often had fun writing in the past but one I knew was a little over the top, a sort of 18th-century paid-by-the-letter over-wordiness, which I knew would be perfect for Hermita. This let me be as maudlin and overwrought as I wanted to be since, after all, the point was to be maudlin and overwrought. It was incredibly fun to write.

"Surely, I realized, Mother Nature was one kingdom where Nook held no court. Surely the trees would continue to provide their good graces without his interference. If bees were but the justice meted out for such dalliance, I agreed to the terms. I began to shake trees with abandon."

In addition to being fun to write, I also realized as my story was going along (and I started receiving really positive feedback from others, especially young others) that while this project was just something I had started for fun, and was, in the end, not a piece of writing I'd probably ever be able to even publish (being based on characters of a copyrighted game) it was still anyway something that felt important, with a dignity and quality and importance of its own that I had never expected. Through this fun endeavor I was able to not only tell the story of a videogame character and her adventures, but also found myself able to work through some personal demons of my own through the characters and their struggles, as well as being able to tap into, in a youth-friendly form, complicated struggles and issues that both individuals and societies have been dealing with since civilizations began. Things like slavery and political oppression, political and personal tyrants, overcoming difficulty and diversity with dignity, creativity and strength, and all sorts of other things I had really only jokingly imagined when I first began making a story and website of this character.

"Truth be told I wasn’t immune to the boiling of blood that my abuser was undoubtedly attempting to create within my personage, but I was with a great power of internal will able to hold such simmering to a temperature just below the point of conversion to steam and pleasingly, I was able to keep any visible signs of such agitation at bay via my studied concentration and genuine interest in the craft and manufacture of the incongruously exquisite timepiece. I assessed the facts of the situation, which were exactly that I was in no worse of a position than I was the last time Mr. Nook, so similarly rageful, had handed me the last shirt of similar type. He was, after all, entirely incapable of forcing me to wear the shirt, the same as he was utterly powerless to force me to un-agreed upon indentured servitude. "

After the first chapter or two was completed, alot of my Hermita-directed creative attention was diverted into the creation and upkeep of the website itself, as well as the occasional actual gameplay used as origin material for both the website and the story, I did for the most part make a pretty good effort to get out a new chapter of this story at the rate of about one new chapter per month or two. There were certainly longer breaks at times, but in general I had been pretty good at it.

However, it's probably been almost a year since I've written any new content for the actual story itself. I've written plenty of material for the rest of the website, alot of which will certainly be able to be used in future chapters of Hermita's story, should I actually allow the storyline to travel all the way through to its successful conclusion, but since you generally publish a fanfic in chronological order, and I had chosen to begin at the very beginning of her story, there are plenty of chapters in between that will need to be filled.

Now, since I am writing this story and updating it as if Hermita is writing it herself as her personal memoir, all of the stops and starts do make sense, since she is, fictionally speaking, a woman very busy with the duties of her revolutionary cause, not the least of which was her town getting bombed and having to go fugitive to escape to another land via hot air balloon, where she had to start reorganizing her cause and setting up a new home base in a new land. Storywise, she doesn't often have free time to just sit down and finish off her memoir. However, with my bringing both her cause and my (ahem, her...) website to a conclusion, both she and I will presumably have alot more free time to devote to the completion of her story.

While I did describe in woggy #25's entry that I plan to bring the site to a halt, I do plan to check up on it now and again to add any user-submitted content, but also to add chapters to her memoir, which is also housed right there on the site. Of course that means I've got to pick up the keyboard again and get going with her story. I do have the benefit of knowing already where her story is going, plot-wise. It's really all just a matter of spending the time to sit down and get it done.

Things Left To Complete This Woggy Project:
  • complete woggy #25, at least in some reasonably conclusive fashion
  • begin writing Chapter 8
  • post chapter 8 to Hermita's site
  • write and post next chapter
  • repeat, repeat, repeat until the final chapter
  • decide what if anything to do with the completed story

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Woggy #25: Flower & Tree

As some of you may know, and others may be completely unaware, I have been running a fan website based on a character in the Nintendo game Animal Crossing for about three and a half years now. My upkeep of this site, as well as the population of my followers, has ebbed and flowed over that time, though until recently had been at a fairly slow and steady rate. I continued to provide content, and my most stalwart fans continued to follow me, with an occasional new fan showing up every now and then.

Round about August of last year, I decided that, while my site had served a pretty good run, and I still had a dedicated fan or two who was still following all my updates in earnest, it was probably time to retire from this endeavor. However, I resolved that I wasn't going to do it in the way I had often seen other sites come and go, which is to say that one day their creator just disappeared, leaving their site and any continuity it was following hanging in the air indefinitely for all internet eternity. Especially in the case of my site, where I had carefully laid out and been continuing to evolve a storyline of sorts. Specifically, I had created a pseudo political cause, with an archenemy and a rebellion which had been growing in its success and popularity. Certainly I couldn't just leave that hanging without some sort of positive, hopeful conclusion!

So, at that time, I wrote down specifically where I'd like things to head in terms of the storyline of my character and of the site itself. I broke things down to a manageable 2 or 3-phase update process, and initiated phase one. However, that's as far as I got, and my site has been sitting in limbo ever since.

I still have my notebook of bullet points sitting here, and a folder full of in-game photos I shot for use in my "last update". And I still intend to finish this someday soon, so as to give all of my fans a hopeful and inspiring ending, as well as creating a satisfactory point of stasis for the site, a position where it could sit frozen for all posterity and still seem like a complete "work" (if a website could at any point be said to be a "work" anyway). I feel it's the least I can do to all the years of effort I put towards this endeavor, and even more importantly, the least I can offer to all of the wonderful fans of my site who surfaced over the past couple of years, who supported me and my efforts more than I could have ever imagined.

So, with that in mind...

Things Left To Complete This Woggy Project:
  • archive all previously posted interior designs
  • add pdfs of all F&T blueprints to the ID page
  • remove all non-sustainable material from F&T supporter page
  • remove lyrics feature from music page, or replace w/ a Chad-made revolving widget
  • remove comment box from music page
  • compile all interesting comments from various pages, guestbook, etc. into a text file
  • remove guestbook
  • remove all shoutboxes & comment boxes
  • add a "comments" section with comments from the saved text file
  • create 2 FAQs for bottom of what's new page (1 for Pippi & 1 for Hermita)
  • remove all non-ageless polls
  • remove all non-ageless house ads
  • archive any remaining news updates
  • in place of news sections, put some more ageless text, including relevant links
  • create final news updates for all relevant pages, and upload photos (archive if neccessary)
  • post notices encouraging users to submit content and comments via ACC PT or gmail
  • update members & supporters list
  • Change home page to reflect changes
  • Update What's new page with the latest changes (remove after a month or 2)
  • Mail site members an update email, also explaining changes.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Updates: Woggies 19 & 20

Woggy #19 Complete: Mail & Info Sorter/Organizer

It's taken a while, but I can finally check the remaining items off of my to do list for this woggy. As with all things it hasn't turned out to work quite as perfectly as I had been hoping, and we are tweaking it here and there all the time, but mostly, I am very satisfied with how this system has turned out. Our inboxes are no longer cluttered with old things, everything has a place to go, and we are finally able to leave each other notes and reminders in a way where the other person actually notices it and does something about it. Hooray!

Woggy #20 Update: Home Inventory

I took advantage of having all my boxes of holiday decorations down to take care of a much-needed chunk of woggy #20. I photographed and wrote an itemization of all major contents of our holiday decorations. the photos have been uploaded to my computer, but I have yet to enter all of the information and research prices in the actual inventory program. But even without that, this is a major accomplishment. Since we have over the years collected quite a few fancier glass ornaments, some of limited edition, I can only assume these are important items to include in our inventory for insurance purposes, especially if we were to ever need to replace them. They are all fairly safely nestled in popcorn most of the year, but when one lives in earthquake country, you never know.

Things I can check off my woggy to-do list:

X take down holiday items and photograph them
X put holiday items back away
X upload holiday item photos & add to hall closet folder

Things Left to Complete This Woggy Project:
  • research & re-enter all of the item details for the coat closet
  • research & enter item details for holiday items
  • photograph kitchen, dining area, living room, bedroom, garden, WIC, master bath, workroom, & workroom closet
  • upload photos for all above rooms, and place in appropriate folders
  • research and enter item details for all above items
  • print out new household inventory
  • adjust homeowner's insurance to new amount
  • replace old inventory with the new one in our lockbox

Friday, January 1, 2010

Update: Woggy #15 Complete!!

Over the past several years, I've taken to the practice of sending myself on emotional/spiritual "retreats" These work much in the same way that official "retreats" at retreat centers work, except I just do them in my own home. Sometimes I plan them in advance, and sometimes I just take one when life is getting just a little too frazzled, when my mind and spirit have become lost or feel like they're scattered in a million directions, making nothing in my life work smoothly. Some last just for a day, others for a week, and one even for two weeks. But the goal of all of them is the same. Time to focus on spiritual and emotional issues, at the forefront of all other concerns.

With the whirlwind that always surrounds the holiday season, I have now made a specific ritual of doing a retreat each year right before the holiday craziness is about to descend, so that I can head into that season with a firm and solid grounding.

Over the past year or so, it has been during these retreats that I have made the most progress towards reading and finishing my Woggy #15, the book called Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life. And I'm happy to say that it was during my latest pre-holiday retreat that I was able to not only make time for and recover from an emotional slump in the previously mentioned Woggy #24 (my NaNo 2009 novel), but I was also able to finally finish reading Woggy#15.

The completion of this book is in my mind no small achievement. It is to me as significant and was as challenging as the task of writing a novel in one month, or my previous task of walking 70 miles on my own two feet. On a spiritual level all three of these tasks are completely connected for me, as they have all involved the same emotional and spiritual undertaking. They have each taught me the same lesson in different form.

But like the other two, while the tangible task has been completed, there is still plenty of learning and journey to go. I have read all of the words, I have done all of the main exercises. But many of the exercises are more of an ongoing process, which will not be truly completed for a year or more. And the lessons and discipline learned are ones I will need to carry with me on a daily basis in a conscious, mindful fashion in order for the learning and practice to be truly complete. This will continue until the day when all of these lessons are formed as intrinsic habits without my having to conscientiously consider them, if in fact such a day will ever come. Whichever may be true, I am thankful for having read this book, the process I've gone through and all that I've learned, and the continuing lessons I hope to carry with me into my future as a result of having read it.

"Life is a choice. The choice here is not about whether or not to have pain. It is whether or not to live a valued, meaningful life."

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Update: Woggy #24

Yes folks, after four years of repeated perseverance, and thirty days of trials and tribulations, I have at last succeeded at achieving the previously elusive goal of achieving the NaNo challenge of writing a full 50,000 words within one month. I began my month not expecting I would reach it, then after a week of steady on-par progress, I became excited that I would actually be achieving it.

Then halfway through the month, I allowed life's duties to overtake the writing and fell behind. The week after that I grew despondent and was sure I would never, ever be able to finish a NaNo challenge, but from the depths of this pit I decided to just start writing anyway, little by little, hour after hour, day after day. And before I knew it I was not only on par but well above par for completing at the end of the month. Then, to my surprise, several days ahead from the end with just a mere 2000 words to go, I began fearing my success.

I stopped cold for a day and a half, afraid of what succeeding at this goal might mean. In the face of this I decided to use the same strategy that had got me through my mid-month slump, and just sat down to write with no thoughts of specific expectation. Before I knew it, I was looking at the NaNo "Congratulations, Winner" page, with two days to spare on the calendar. In shock at my success at first, I've slowly been learning to accept it (strange as that may sound), and I now look ahead to the next horizon for my book, which is finishing the novel.

By my calculations plot-wise, I am about half-way through the book, and therefore should have about 50,000 words to go. But if I managed that many words in under one month flat, I figure competing the first draft of my novel within another 6 months should be no trouble at all. All I need to do is get writing!!

Things Left to Complete This Woggy Project:
  • determine a new more moderate daily and/or weekly word count goal
  • create a chart for logging progress
  • begin writing
  • repeat, repeat, repeat until draft 1 is complete
  • devise plan for revision process