Evil Gal Productions

Mere Smith
is a recovering Southerner,
longtime TV writer,
author and blogger.

Archive for the ‘Stuff What Deals With The Internet’ Category

September 27th, 2013 by Mere Smith

WOTS You Missed…

So to be perfectly honest, after two solid months of working on books, I’m a little worded-out.

Instead, here are some pictures (1,000 words a pop, mind you — I may be tired, but I’m not cheap), to share our experience at…

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The night before, dinner at The Harlem Underground (excellent jambalaya!)…

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Left to right, @EvilGalProds, @saalon, @Lionnesss, @onikaze, his friend Carolyn, and @LWQuestie 

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Later that night, picking a GRAND PRIZE WINNER@OnOneCondition!

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The next day dawned cold and windy.  Pre-set-up…

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BAH-KOW! Post-set-up…

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Our lovely Toronto tour guide, @Lionnesss, in her limited edition EGP “Welcome To The Asylum” shirt…

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Next three pictures by @NYPinTA

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Lots of readers, and one Crazy Cthulubunny Guy…

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Now imagine this stretching on for over a mile…

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Our special You Have Lipstick On Your Teeth section, edited by @TheBeardedIris

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Me signing books, Eric decapitated… just the way I like it.

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Look, Ma! Groupies! (left to right, @Lionnesss, @NYPinTA, and @LWQuestie)

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Me ‘n’ Demoncow reppin’ the 310 in Moose Country…

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(photo by @Lionnesss)

 

After it was all over, the exhaustion set in…

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…until we got back to the Airbnb condo, grabbed some take-out, and started planning the next phase of our global media empire!

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Don’t be fooled by the smiles. We hate each other. No, seriously. (Is anyone still buying this?)

Last but definitely most, here’s a more personal video my dearest Finance put together of our Toronto trip. Yes, that is him, and yes, he is always that weird. Can you imagine anyone more perfect for me?

(Note the continuous Travel Bitchface I wear whenever I’m near/in an airport. Poor Finance.)

September 17th, 2013 by Mere Smith

SURPRISE!

Welcome to the new Evil Gal Productions!

 

Yea, O my people, I have seen the promised URL, and it is good, and beautiful, and a shitload easier to read than the last site.

The new digs are, of course, all due and thanks to the efforts of my webmaster-slash-bitch (W/B), Eric Sipple (@saalon) – who built the place — although I’d like to point out that I chose, like, two fonts and said, “Move that thingie to the right – no, I mean the left” a bunch.  So I was totally involved. From a theoretical standpoint.

Feel free to take the new tour, check out a couple of my favorite posts, hit the oldies but goodies by winding your way through blogs organized by AN ACTUAL COMPUTER PROGRAM THAT ERIC WROTE OUT OF HIS HEAD WHAT THE FUCK, and maybe explore some Evil Stuff, where you can cruise through the GallerSquee, browse the Creepy Evil Wall of Shame, then, hey, do me a favor and look in on Regulatory Panda; he feeds on oversight, y’know.

So this is great, right?  A brand spankin’ new website I’ve barely fucking profaned yet! But wait – it gets even better!

Because it’s #WOTSWEEK!

Besides launching the new blog today, I have TWO awesome things to accomplish in this post, the first being:

 

WOULD YOU JUST

LOOK AT THIS SHIT RIGHT HERE

 

cowfacecoverblog

 

Cover reveals of my two new books!

(which come out on Amazon Sept. 24!)

 

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These covers for Cowface And Other Hilarious Stories About Death and The Blood Room were created by the amazingly talented Karen J. Wellenkamp (@quotergal) of RagtagDesign.com, specially for the Word On The Street Festival – as was our indie-pub mascot, Demoncow!

 

DemonCow

LOVE DEMONCOW! LOVE! HER!

 

Now, this would have been crazydriving enough for any mere mortal, but then Karen went above and beyond – above and beyond any hint of sanity, anyway – and also designed all the neat-ass swag we’ll be handing out from our booth in Toronto (that’s booth 181, folks!): bookmarks, postcards, and magnets. (The magnets are only available with purchase, though – ‘cause those shits are solid cool, and if they’re free, we’ll be out in an hour.) Honestly, if I’d known the stuff was gonna look this good, I would’ve said to the hell with all the book mishegas and just gone up to sell the swag.

But… but where IS the swag, Mere?  Where are all the pretty swag pictures?

And oh, you adorable little Bambis.

This place ain’t called EVIL Gal Productions for nothin’.

 

You don’t get to see the swag yet!

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Until tomorrow, that is, when Eric will post a salacious blog on his site starring our most gorgeous indie-pub marketing beauties in all their au naturel glory.  (Every model guaranteed to be at least 18 days of age.)

Meantime, only one more announcement to make:

WHO WANTS TO WIN A

MOTHERFUCKIN’

GRAND PRIZE?

You do?

Goddamn right you do!  Who doesn’t want to win a Motherfuckin’ Grand Prize? Commies, that’s who! So don’t be a commie! Or at least, if you’re going to be a commie, be a commie who wants to win a Motherfuckin’ Grand Prize! Because in honor of #WOTSWEEK and the new site, we’re gonna have ourselves a drawing, and here’s the haul, y’all:

  • One signed paperback copy of Broken Magic
  • One signed paperback copy of Cowface And Other Hilarious Stories About Death
  • One signed paperback copy of The Blood Room
  • Free e-books for all of the above – transferrable, if you like to share!
  • One signed paperback copy of You Have Lipstick On Your Teeth
  • One Demoncow magnet
  • One Magic magnet
  • One Cowface/Blood Room postcard
  • One Broken Magic postcard
  • One Evil Gal bookmark
  • One Broken Magic bookmark

Seriously, look at all that stuff!  That’s a lotta fuckin’ stuff you can regift! And you can be eligible to win the entire Word On The Street Deluxe Set if you do just one thing:

Succumb to the dark forces, put your email address in this box, and join my subscribers’ list!

 

(Rest assured, there’ll be no spam here, muchachos — and your email address will be kept Super Seekrit. You’ll be notified about new blog entries, gain access to subscribers-only discounts, and perhaps — once in a blue moon — get some new scripts or fiction shoved up your inbox. But that’s it! No more! Stop being so grabby!)

YOU GOTTA ACT FAST, THOUGH! The Word On The Street Drawing is only open from the time this blog is posted until 12:00 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 22, the day of the Festival — when a random winner will be chosen from my subscribers’ list, and then announced via live-tweet from the booth! Maybe I’ll even take a humiliating picture of Eric to tweet with it. (Ha! “Maybe”.)

So slap your addy in the box and take a shot at winning a Motherfuckin’ Grand Prize — and know you’ll never miss a thing from me or EGP!

 

Tomorrow:

Eric’s Emporium De Swag

 

July 16th, 2013 by Mere Smith

#innershelf

This blog entry started in highly unusual fashion.

Highly unusual in that, when I woke up on Sunday morning and heard the news about the not-guilty verdict in the Trayvon Martin case, I was so fucking thermonuclear pissed, I immediately wanted to spew righteous (and self-righteous) venom all over the internet.  I mean, fuck those Florida rednecks, man! I grew up down there! I know what kind of shitball bigots that state excretes like smelly pus!

RARWWWRARWWHRRHHRR(incoherence).

And these days, that urge to vent on the net is not so unusual. In fact, it’s pretty much SOP for anything that pisses us off now: you take to your blogs, your Twitters, your huddled Tumblrs, yearning to scream free.

But here’s the problem: the hell good does it all do?

Other than:

A)   make you feel better for a while

B)   probably piss off some assholes, which, admittedly, will also make you feel better for a while

C)   add to the cacophonous maelstrom of fury and distrust that blasts everyone into their separate corners, hurt and wary and more sure than ever that humans in general are hateful, stupid creatures at whom evolution will eventually look and go, “Oops! Let’s start over!”

So, fleeting relief – but a smidge counterproductive in the long run, you might agree.

Then I remembered this quote from Neil Gaiman’s book, Make Good Art (derived from his 2012 keynote address at The University of the Arts):

“Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all the other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do. 

Make good art.”

It made me wonder: how in the world could I turn this swirling, black hole of rage-suck into good art?

In the beginning I didn’t think it was possible. It felt like my brain was made of liquid vicious, my bones made of knives, my fists of rock. I wanted to hurt and shriek and maim and kill – but violence is what got all this fucking mishegas started and so now I was right back to Square Zero. Try again.

So I tried again.

And at first it was difficult to let go of all that anger, to put it down, to turn to something – to “art,” whatever the hell that was gonna be – to turn to something that wouldn’t satisfy that innate craving I nurtured for revenge. I had to rise above myself – or sidestep myself – or basically just avoid my murderous, blood-thirsty troll-self – and focus on something that would bring people together rather than drive them apart in the maelstrom.

But what would I do?

What could I do?

I was just some useless TV writer sitting in her useless office surrounded by useless books on their useless shelves…

…except even in my hate-spiraling I never really believed the books were useless.

Throughout my life, books have saved me more often than I can remember. They gave me something to do while the bullies laughed and subway creepers creeped; gave me characters who showed me I wasn’t alone in my weirdness (even as a kid I realized I couldn’t be all that weird if an author had written about the exact thoughts I was having); books showed me ideas, new ways of thinking about the world… including a book that told me to take life’s ugliness and alchemically transform it, through art, into its own kind of beauty – even if I was the only person who found the art beautiful.  (Which again, with 7 billion people in the world, is statistically next to impossible. Reassuring.)

So I stared at my shelves and thought: all those books, all those ideas, they’ve all gone into making me who I am today. In fact, I’ll bet everyone’s bookshelves give you a glimpse into who they are, into what they’ve learned, into how they see the world. Instead of allowing ourselves to be driven apart by anger and fear, I wish we could all come into each other’s houses and just look at each other’s bookshelves—

–and there it was.

Turns out if you stop being so fucking angry for a minute, you might actually be able to make good art.

So I took to Twitter and asked my readers to tweet pictures of one of their bookshelves – any bookshelf would do, but we’d call it their #innershelf — and, if they felt like it, to tell me a little something about their books and what they meant to and/or about them. (Some readers, who shall remain nameless but is totally @QuoterGal, wanted to show me EVERYTHING on their INFINITE shelves – which I took enormous pleasure in browsing privately – but for the sake of blog-length, I had to narrow it down to one photo each.)

So instead of falling prey once again to our sense of ferocious outrage – a ferocity I believe the media (mainstream and otherwise) encourages in us like the owner of a pit-bull at a dog-fight – let’s do something simple together: let’s just look at each other’s books.

Let’s say to each other, “Oh I’ve read that!”

Or, “I always wondered how that was – what did you think?”

Or even (if we must), “That book there? I was not too fond of that — why were you?” and then listen to the other person’s reasoning.

In other words, instead of closing ourselves off from each other, let us open each other up like books… and read.

 

@cabri

@cabri

.

A few titles: Soon I Will Be Invincible (fuck yeah you will!) by Austin Grossman; The Toll-Gate by Georgette Heyer; Radio On by Sarah Vowell

Other cool stuff: matches, Tic Tacs (?), a coin, a stick, a rock

.

cosmicbob55

@cosmicbob55

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A few titles: Just about everything J.R.R. Tolkien has ever written, apparently, in several editions.

Other cool stuff: I like how he stacks his books horizontally on top of his other books. Because there’s always room for more books!

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countmystars

@countmystars

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A few titles: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater; Story by Robert McKee; A Drowned Maiden’s Hair: A Melodrama by Laura Amy Schlitz

Other cool stuff: It’s a Kindle bookshelf, y’all!  A CYBER #INNERSHELF! (Insert Singularity joke here.)

.

dondrennon

@dondrennon

.

A few titles: Building Better Grammar by Gina Hogan; Berlin Diary by William L. Shirer; Electronic Principles by Albert P. Malvino

Other cool stuff: Love the juxtaposition between Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and An Hour Before Daylight, the memoirs of former President Jimmy “I’ve committed adultery in my heart” Carter.

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Yep, that Finance

Yep, that Finance

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A few titles: Do You Remember? The Book That Takes You Back by Michael Gitter and Sylvie Anapol; Artistotle by G.R.G. Mure; The Pocket Book of Quotations by Henry Davidoff 

Other cool stuff: Yes, the Finance likes to read things until they literally (in both senses of the word) fall apart. It’s part of why I love him.

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@girl_onthego

@girl_onthego

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A few titles: Um, it’s a shelf of a kind. So I see some memos, and little clippy things, and possibly a greeting card.

Other cool stuff: PLASTIC DINOSAURS ON PARADE. OBVIOUSLY.

.

@haunt1013

@haunt1013

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A few titles: Led Zeppelin and Philosophy: All Will Be Revealed, Ed. by Scott Calef; The Dharma of Star Wars by Matthew Bortolin; Navigating the Golden Compass: Religion, Science, And Daemonology In His Dark Materials by Glen Yeffeth

Other cool stuff: Note that Batman and Philosophy (Ed. by Mark D. White and Robert Arp) sits on the shelf right above Dante Alighieri’s The Inferno

.

@imaginepeace

@imaginepeace

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A few titles: All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots Of Middle East Terror by Steven Kinzer; A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama’s Diplomacy with Iran by Trita Parsi; The People Reloaded: The Green Movement and the Struggle for Iran’s Future, Ed. by Nader Hashemi and Danny Postel

Other cool stuff: I have to confess, I imagine this is what my #innershelf would look like if I were about 100 IQ points smarter.

.

@irrationalitv

@IrrationaliTV

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A few titles: Angel: The Casefiles by Jeff Mariotte, Nancy Holder, and Maryelizabeth Hart (kinda partial to this one for some reason; can’t figure out why)(!);  The Return of Merlin by Deepak Chopra; Native American Religions by (I’m guessing here) Sam Gill

Other cool stuff: Bonus doorknob and cat tail!

.

@kukkurovaca

@kukkurovaca

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A few titles: The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead; Sewer, Gas, and Electric: The Public Works Trilogy by Matt Ruff; The Jennifer Morgue (A Laundry Files Novel) by Charles Stross

Other cool stuff: This is definitely the only group of books that came with a face attached.

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@Lionnesss

@Lionnesss

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A few titles: Marlowe Admired by Marilyn Garabet… and that’s about the only one I could make out.  Wanna fill in some titles in the Comments, @samatwitch?

Other cool stuff: There is nothing more satisfying than a well-stuffed bookshelf. Which sounds really dirty.

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@MerryLandOfAus

@MerryLandOfAus

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A few titles: Backwards by Rob Grant; Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith; Back to the Batcave by Adam West

Other cool stuff: This is a very neat bookshelf. I, too, own neat bookshelves. For about a week a piece.

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@mightybattlecat

@mightybattlecat

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Actually only one title that I could make out: Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (looks like maybe Sixteenth Edition? In which case it was edited by Adrian Room, John Buchanan-Brown and Terry Pratchett).  More titles always welcome in our Comments section, @mightybattlecat!

Other cool stuff: A little white bowl of… what’s in there? I can decipher the world “VooDoo” on a book on the same shelf… should I be worried?

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@MisterGreggles

@MisterGreggles

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A few titles: You’re Not Doing It Right by Michael Ian Black; Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet by Sherry Turkle; V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd

Other cool stuff: Over on the far right, I couldn’t pass up mentioning Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, Told By Its Stars, Writers and Guests by Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller, which is a great read… if you like having all your illusions crushed. And hoo boy, do they really not like Chevy Chase.

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Monique

Monique

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A few titles: The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory; The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu (I couldn’t see the translator); My Enemy’s Cradle by Sara Young

Other cool stuff: Can I get a “VAGINA HOLLA!” for an almost exclusively female-penned #innershelf?

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@MoxieSix

@MoxieSix

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A few titles: Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman; Nightshifted by Cassie Alexander; Midnight Blue-Light Special by Seanan McGuire

Other cool stuff: Autographed William Gibson to top it all off!

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@NYPintA

@NYPintA

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A few titles: Spunk and Bite: A Writer’s Guide to Bold, Contemporary Style by Arthur Plotnik; The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins; The Starflight Handbook: A Pioneer’s Guide to Interstellar Travel by Eugene F. Mallove and Gregory L. Matloff

Other cool stuff: The best thing about bookshelves is when you have so many books, the shelves start to sag in the middle.  Well done, @NYPintA!

.

@philogden

@jphilogden

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A few titles: The Great Movies by Roger Ebert; No Place For Truth: Or, Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology by David Wells; A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Other cool stuff: I’m seriously starting to get a bookshelf Napoleon Complex, y’all.

.

@jphilogden added: “On one level the idea of letting the image say a thousand words is enchanting to me.  Yet, like Matthew Weiner, I can’t help but give some context to what you’re seeing.  It is my heart’s desire to change the conversation between Christians and Non-Christians/Atheists through the art form of television.  For as long as I can remember the conversation (from both sides) seems to always devolve into, “I believe this therefore you are wrong and I don’t respect you”.  What I feel is always missing is how similar and, on some level, bonded we are because we’re human.  So I’m always looking for books that help me understand things from both sides and learn how to listen with confidence.  
 
Thanks for the opportunity to share.
(Side note: It’s complete coincidence the ESV bible and The Wire books are together but both have influenced me in powerful ways)”

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@QuoterGal

@QuoterGal

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A few titles: Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell; Catch-22 by Joseph Heller; Running With Scissors: A Memoir by Augusten Burroughs

Other cool stuff: I’m pretty sure the Angel action figure is taking an axe to Bart Simpson and a nun. Which is definitely the coolest sentence I’ll write today.

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@QuoterGal added: “Even as a kid, if I saw a movie based on a book, I wanted the book immediately. I first bought ‘The Bad Seed’ when I was eleven. This shelf represents a lifetime of movie vs. book obsession.”

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@saalon

@saalon

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A few titles: Sailing to Sarantium by Guy Gavriel Kay; Foundation by Isaac Asimov; A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.

Other cool stuff: I’m seeing lots of Catch-22 and 1984 on y’all’s shelves… and I’m like, “Yeah, dystopian absurdism — or absurdist dystopianism — sounds about right for my readers. Or maybe they just like books with numbers in the titles.”

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@Saismaat

@Saismaat

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A few titles: The Common Law by Oliver Wendell Holmes; DSM-IV-TR – Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Fourth Edition); Race, Rights and Reparation: Law and the Japanese Internment by Erick K. Yamamoto, Margaret Chon, Carol L. Izumi and Frank H. Wu

Other cool stuff: Remind me never, NEVER to break the law when I’m with @Saismaat. Or, wait — maybe I should wait until @Saismaat is with me BEFORE I break the law. I can’t decide.

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@samatwitch

@samatwitch

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A few titles: Illuminata (can’t tell which version) by Marianne Williamson; Sacred Contracts: Awakening Your Divine Potential by Caroline Myss; Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women by Susan Faludi (I think — it may be Backlash by Lydia LaPlante)

Other cool stuff: Shiny green things on top! And stuff on all the shelves! Also, Creepy Baby, aka Phronsie (so I’ve been told), is chilling out in the lower right corner, just waiting to strangle someone in their sleep while laughing.

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sawilcox28

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A few titles: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling; Carter Beats the Devil by Glen David Gould; to say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Wills

Other cool stuff: When I read it several years ago, Haven Kimmel’s A Girl Named Zippy made me laugh out loud about 26,000 times. Okay, maybe a little less than 26,000 — but more than 14, for sure.

.

@track7grrl

@track7grrl

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A few titles: Looking for Calvin and Hobbes: The Unconventional Story of Bill Watterson and his Revolutionary Comic Strip by Nevin Martell; This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women by Jay Allison, Dan Gediman and Studs Terkel; Lost Encyclopedia by Tara Bennett (@TaraBennett, and a kickass friend of mine) and Paul Terry

Other cool stuff: What looks like a simple ball of twine in the corner… or IS IT?

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@track7grrl added: “I might have cheated on the assignment. My bookstack is from my ‘belief’ room. I designed that stack specifically so visitors could see who I was from the books/topics I believed in most. So in some ways, it’s an aspirational, communicative stack more than a random shelf.”

.

@xoac

@xoac

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A few titles: Broken Magic by Eric Sipple (@saalon; sort of a kickass friend of mine, except for the “kickass” and “friend” part); World War Z by Max Brooks; Lunatic Heroes: Memories, Lies and Reflections by C. Anthony Martignetti

Other cool stuff: THIS PICTURE IS FROM A FUCKING FANTASTIC INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORE IN PITTSBURGH CALLED ELJAY’S BOOKS.  VISIT THEM!

 

April 4th, 2013 by Mere Smith

The Gospel Of Matthew Smoot And XKCD

A totally true story.

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hoodie_3_1024x1024

This is by far one of the best hoodies I’ve ever owned. Comfy, soft, and geek-infused! And I confess, I judge people by whether or not they know what xkcd is.

from:  Mere Smith
to:  orders@xkcd.com
date:  Sun, Mar 17, 2013 at 12:40 PM
subject:  navy blue hoodie
mailed-by:  gmail.com
hey xkcd!
i ordered your navy blue hoodie a few months ago, and since then have cherished it like a small child…
…until this morning, when i was doing laundry while wearing it — and spilled an open bottle of bleach on it.
believe me, i would’ve been less upset if i’d spilled the bleach on a small child.
i promptly went online to order another, only to find that it’s no longer in stock.
i am crushed.
PLEASE bring back your navy blue hoodie, so i can order one, and possibly two just in case i pull another boneheaded maneuver like this one.
i love this hoodie.
more than small children.
PLEASE.
-Mere Smith
*************************************************************
.
from:  xkcd store <orders@xkcd.com>
to:  Mere Smith
date:  Mon, Mar 18, 2013 at 10:30 AM
subject:  Re: navy blue hoodie
signed-by:  xkcd.com
Hi there Mere,
Sorry for the minor crisis, we plan to have them back in stock very, very soon!  If you let me know your shipping address and what size you need I’ll have a placeholder order set up for you :).
As far as small children go, they make a lot more noise when bleach is spilled on them and generally have a higher repair/replacement cost than a hoodie.  I’m glad I don’t have any around.
Best,
Matthew Smoot
xkcd order wrangler
*************************************************************
.
from:  Mere Smith
to:  xkcd store <orders@xkcd.com>
date:  Mon, Mar 18, 2013 at 2:32 PM
subject:  Re: navy blue hoodie
mailed-by:  gmail.com
hi Matthew Smoot, Order Wrangler! (and if that shows up on a TV show any time soon, i’ll deny everything.)
oh good.  i can stop funneling anti-anxiety meds down my gullet.  i would’ve been worried… except for all the anti-anxiety meds.
yes, *please* set me up a placeholder order: TWO extra-large hoodies for me this time.  i’ll be damned if i’m caught without a pristine xkcd hoodie again.  *damned*, i tell you!
my shipping address is:
[redacted]
(though if you need the billing address to match my credit card, i have a bookkeeper [thank ye gods, or i’d be sending you sacks of poorly-counted-out tuppence], whose address is:
[redacted]
) <– i knew i needed to close the parenthesis, but it looks so lonely all by itself…
as for small children, while yes, replacement costs are higher, i think the noise level is pretty standard, with or without bleach.  i’m quite pleased i own none myself.
thanks again!
-mere-
*************************************************************
.
from:  Mere Smith
to:  xkcd store <orders@xkcd.com>
date:  Mon, Mar 25, 2013 at 11:27 AM
subject:  Re: navy blue hoodie
mailed-by:  gmail.com
my dearest Matthew Smoot, Order Wrangler —
THAT. WAS. STUPENDOUS.
when i returned from out of town on Sunday night, i found a little box in our mail and thought, “huh. i haven’t ordered anything recentlyohmygodBOMB!”
but after the SWAT team left — a tad irritably, i must say — i was stunned to see two glorious xkcd hoodies tucked into that box and i positively *swooned*!  well, i mean, if i’d been a 19th century literary heroine squeezed into a whalebone corset, i would’ve swooned.  as it was, i yelled, “HOLY SHIT I CAN’T BELIEVE IT I’M SO FRANGIN’ EXCITED!”
slightly less ladylike, but much more evocative of my inner feelings.
i can not thank you enough — and believe me, i’ve tried.  this is my fourth draft of this email, the initial three having been tossed due to (respectively) grateful but pathetic digital weeping, appalling obsequy, and a rather “The Shining”-esque repetition of the phrase, “All work and no play makes Matthew Smoot MY GOD.”  so in this, the fourth iteration, i hope my appreciation comes through and leaves the outright crazy behind.  except that’s pretty much impossible for me so i’m just going to cut my losses here.
you, Matthew, are amazing, and so is xkcd.  never — *never* — did i expect to see those hoodies so soon.  i was absolutely floored, as well as touched.  please let me know if you’re comfortable with me spreading the Gospel of Matthew Smoot And XKCD with everyone i’ve ever met — though i’d understand if you’d rather keep it on the quiet side, too, lest you’re inundated with a bunch of grabby hands.  it’s completely up to you, and i’ll abide by your wishes, of course.
now please let me know how to throw my money at you.  i can send you my credit card number, or i can go through PayPal, whichever is better for you and xkcd.
and Matthew?
thank you.  thank you SO MUCH.
-mere-
*************************************************************
.
from:  xkcd store <orders@xkcd.com>
to:  Mere Smith
date:  Tue, Mar 26, 2013 at 11:37 AM
subject:  Re: navy blue hoodie
signed-by:  xkcd.com
That was by far the best e-mail I’ve gotten ever, of all time!  I want to share it with all the people I know and wish I was up to writing the response it deserves.  Seriously, I was giggling like a pyro in a firework factory for minutes :).  I think there is a gospel of Matthew already, but grabby hands might be nice and the gospel of xkcd would be freakin amazing so feel free to spread the crazy word.
As far as throwing money, it’s hard to catch it from here so it might be better to use PayPal rather than try to build a trebuchet that can hit the east coast.  Our address is orders@xkcd.com.
So nice to read e-mails like this, thanks so much for your response!
February 12th, 2013 by Mere Smith

Spec-tacular Spec-tacular!

Via the Oxford Dictionaries:

spec – noun (in phrase on spec) informal

In the hope of success but without any specific plan or instructions: he built the factory on spec and hoped someone would buy it

* * *

Replace the word “factory” with “script” and now you understand the place of specs in Hollywood.

Kind of.

Because in Hollywood, a “spec” can mean not only a script you want to sell, but – paradoxically – also a script you have no intention of selling.  A script for an episode of TV that you use simply to showcase your skills: a writing sample set in a world Hollyfolks are already familiar with, since (smart) Writers generally choose popular shows to spec.  And yes, here in LaLaLand, “spec” is actually a noun AND a verb.  (Sorry, OED.)

Before they’ve even met you, Suits and Executive Producers can gauge through your spec how interesting your ideas are, how well you break a story, and how you can adapt to writing in someone else’s voice, since it’s likely they’ve seen the show you’re “speccing.”

Of course, what’s popular changes from year to year.  Arrested Development specs used to land on desks by the thousands, and before that, Grey’s Anatomy, and before that, The Shield, and before that, Six Feet Under, and before that, The Sopranos, and before that, The X-Files, and Ozias begat Joatham and Joatham begat Achaz and Achaz begat Ezekias…

So at any given time there’s always a “hot spec” – a show that Hollywood is watching en masse at that particular moment – and if you can hit the sweet spot – that is, if you can write a spec of that show at the exact time it becomes “hot” – well, then you’re already a few steps ahead of the rest of the slavering pack of Writers nipping at your heels for jobs.  Because much as its denizens would love for you to believe in their jaded seen-it-allness, Hollywood has its own (albeit more affectedly subdued) fandoms, and a good spec is like good fanfic.  No true fan can resist more story, OMNOMNOMNOM.

Me, I’ve been using a Sopranos spec.

For ten years.

So you can see how “hot” I am.

My problem was, after writing the Sopranos, I never found another show I wanted to spec.  That might sound crazy, given how much TV I watch (and love), but there were always reasons why I couldn’t/wouldn’t/didn’t spec any of my favorites.

The West Wing?  What I loved about this show were the characters.  The intricacies of political policy never held enough interest to compel me to do the research, and without the research, I would’ve come off like a bloviating twat.  (However, I might have written some Josh and Donna scenes for my own private collection.  Might.)

House?  See above, only with medical stuff.  (But no Josh and Donna.)

Six Feet Under?  Okay, this one I did want to write, except I was employed the entire time the show was on the air, and by the time I needed a job, the show was gone.  Writing a new spec of a show that’s already been cancelled is like sending a thank you note to a dead person.

But now?

NOW IS THE TIME, MY FRIENDS.

I am finally (or as my manager might put it, “finally, finally, finally, finally, finally, fucking finally Jesus fucking Christ finally”) writing a new spec.  But of what, you may ask?

 

"Elementary," my dear Watson.

“Elementary,” my dear Watson.

 

If I can pull it off, I have what I am 99% sure is a fantastic idea for a spec script (you have to leave open that 1% possibility that it sucks – otherwise you catch God’s attention, and She just loves to fuck up what you think you know for certain) — but this idea, too, will require a bit of research, and staffing season starts… well, around now-ly.

Believe me, I would’ve loved to have started this whole process earlier, but the idea only came to me this past weekend as I lay in bed at 4 a.m., unable to sleep.  By 5 a.m., I had the entire story worked out (or rather, the story felt like it had worked itself out, and those are the best kinds), including characters, progression, twists, emotional resonance, etc. – but I knew if I wanted to strike while the iron was “hot” (ugh, I am so sorry, you guys), I’d need some help.

Now, it’s no secret around these parts that I am half in-worship with Amanda Palmer.  Not only do I think she kicks massive ass as a rockstar and artist, but also as a human being, and I believe her personal connection to her listeners-slash-friends is a big part of that.  (After all, we’re talking about a woman who raised over a million bucks for her album and tour on Kickstarter.  Kickstarter, y’all.)  She’s not afraid to trust and rely on other people, to collaborate, to allow room for others’ ideas and others’ art, allowing it to add to and enhance her own – all without losing her original vision.

That sense of openness – of inclusion – was the spark for what follows:

As I said, I’m going to need some research – specifically, knowledge of authors and literature – to make this spec work.  Ordinarily that wouldn’t be a problem (considering this’d be research I’d actually be interested in, unlike the wonkified minutiae required for a West Wing) – except for the time crunch I find myself in.

And so it is, dear friends, that I turn to you.

.

I have seen the power of the hivemind,

and it is awesome.

.

But asking people to help you for free is a tad on the tacky side.

So I decided to structure this process as a challenge to both of us, to see if together, you and I can make it work.  The main goal:

 

TEN DAYS

ONE SPEC

 

For those of you who aren’t familiar with script lengths, that’s about 54 pages.  Totally doable if you’re writing a show you’re employed by – but that’s because you’ve already been in a Writers’ room for two weeks discussing every detail of the outline with a group of other Writers.

Trying to break it, outline it, research it, and write it alone, by myself, in 10 days?  You might as well ask me to eat quinoa.  Never gonna happen.

But with your help?

crazypillow

 

To be perfectly honest, I am scared fucknoodle shitless of trying this, y’all.  I’m terrified of falling on my face, of missing the deadline, of writing a suckass script – and if that weren’t enough, to do all of these things in public.

But having already declared 2013 my Year Of Glorious Mistakes:

gloriousmistakes

 

I am going to take Mr. Gaiman’s advice:

Whatever it is you are scared of doing, DO IT.

Just because this might not work is a total crap reason for not trying at all.

So here are the rules I’ve set for myself:

  • I will be throwing out research questions over Twitter (@EvilGalProds) for the next three days (Feb. 13-15), while at the same time doing my own research and breaking out the script (that is, figuring out the architecture of exactly what goes where, why, and when).  I’ll probably also ask a few questions while I’m actually writing the script, ‘cause shit always changes, no matter how well you’ve planned.  Scripts are kinda like life that way.

If you have/find/know anything you’d like to share, I’ve set up an email account – elementaryspec@gmail.com – for you to send responses to (all email addresses will be held strictly confidential), since A) conveying even a small nugget of information 140 characters at a time is crazymaking, and B) trying to scroll through Twitter will take me forever, and efficiency will be key to this experiment.  (This way I can also keep a permanent record of who’s contributed, and what their particular contribution is.)  Seriously, if you answer over Twitter, I will not see it, and then I will be bummed, and the script will be the poorer for not having had your input.

  • I will finish a complete outline of the script by end of day Friday, Feb. 15.
  • I will then be off-grid for 7 days, writing from Feb. 16-22, except for the aforementioned possible distress calls on Twitter.
  • I will try to sneak an update blog in, but then again, I may be too busy going fetal on the floor and sobbing.  Still, I’ll do my damnedest.
  • I will finish the first draft by the end of February 22.  This means midnight, and I have no doubt I’ll be writing right up until Cinderella turns back into a broke-ass white girl.

And if I wind up with a script on the day we’re aiming for?

Here are the rewards (hopefully y’all won’t be like, “She calls these motherfucking rewards?  Cheapo bitch.”):

  • After doing a second draft (sorry, but not even my mother sees my first drafts, and she used to wipe poop off me), I will post the entire script on this site.  It will be in .pdf format that you are welcome to download, share, email, print, or set on fire for warmth.
  • I’ll highlight any and all contributions made by each of you, and thank you all individually and embarrassingly profusely.
  • I’ll write a “journey” blog about this experience and how you influenced the script (it may take me a couple days to recover from writing the script first, but I’ll get off the floor eventually.  I’m pretty sure.  Okay, I’m relatively sure.), a blog which will include…

…the big “reward”:

You’re coming with me to the tattoo parlor.

That’s right.  I’ve been wanting to get two specific tattoos on my wrists for AGES, tattoos that hold a special significance regarding what we’re trying here, and I think I’ve finally found the artist I want to do it.  If we make our goal, I’ll get a videographer (probably not The Finance, as he loathes needles like I loathe vegetables) to accompany me to the shop, and you can watch someone dig sharp things into my delicate flesh while I pretend it doesn’t hurt at all.  Even though it totally will.  A lot.  But out of pain (for instance, the pain of writing a spec in 7 days after only 3 days of research – ah! see what I did there?) can arise beautiful art, and as the Tat Man scars me for life, I will think of each of you, and maybe even mutter your name and, “This is all your fucking fault.”

And lastly:

  • PLEASE NOTE: I DO NOT OWN “Elementary”’s interpretation of the Sherlock and Watson characters, and I DO NOT WANT any financial transactions, including charity auctions, attached to this spec.  I support many causes, but making money off another artist’s original ideas is not one of them.  No selling, no buying, no bidding, and – much as I love you all – I will never sign any copies of this script.  Ever.  Of course, people can (and usually do) do what they want – but I DO NOT encourage nor condone these actions.  This spec is meant as a writing sample only, and if you try to make money off it – IN ANY WAY – I will be deeply unhappy (to say the least; and I can’t imagine CBS or Timberman/Beverly would be elated, either: fair warning), and unlikely to try anything like this again.

This whole process is a huge risk, I’m well aware.  The chance that I will fail in some way or another – well, hell, “chance” may be the understatement of the year; it’s pretty much guaranteed I’ll fuck up somehow – but I’m going to try it anyway, because you are what makes me think this insane idea could even be possible.

Over the last 18 months or so, ever since my re-acclimation to the grid, I’ve been amazed (and delighted) to find such a vast number of smart, creative people populating the same tiny corner I hang in.

And now I want to push us – both you and me – and really see what we’re capable of together.

So what do you say?

You in?

September 25th, 2012 by Mere Smith

I’m Kloutta Here! PART III — Fuck Popularity, I’m A Writer!

Klout wore make-up.

Glittery, shiny, vomitously gaudy make-up that only appeals during that narrow kid-to-teen window — simply because any make-up signifies adulthood – and since you’ve yet to learn the adult lesson of moderation, slap on as much of that shit as your face will hold!

 

 

Klout’s version of make-up, though, is the candy-colored temptation of seeing – pseudo-quantitatively! – exactly how popular you are compared to everyone else online.  It’s just like middle school, when an up or down thumb from a Mean Girl can define your social fate for years – either elevating you to one of the elite, or punching your ticket for the express train to Dork City.

Yet no matter where people end up, everyone still wants to popular.

Yes, everyone.

Don’t even bother pretending, all y’all “Well it doesn’t matter to meposeurs.

You’re all fucking lying, and we all fucking know it, so get the hell off your own pedestal and take your meds.

* * *

I joined Klout… oh, I wanna say a year ago, but maybe it only feels that way – like holding an excruciating yoga pose.

Every second lasted a day, every minute a millennium,  because once I was in its clutches – once I’d swallowed the illusion that “all the cool kids are doing it” – I was as helpless and hopeless as an 11 year-old girl swimming in purple eyeliner and a push-up bra.

Initially that was all right, though, because…

ZOMG!  The Mean Girl liked me!

(Every woman reading this knows what that means: good hair and cute outfits and romantic jocks [wha?] who will scrawl bad poetry for you on lined notebook paper, and aren’t afraid of the hallway PDA that will solidify your status as desirable.  Truth be told, in sixth grade I would’ve sold my own mother to human traffickers just to feel socially accepted.  Sorry, Mom.  Guess you’re lucky I was an irredeemable geek.)

Because back when I first joined Klout – compelled by that formerly dormant middle-school yearning (“But do you really like me?  Like, do you really, like like me?” ) – I was delighted to discover I already had a relatively high Klout score, thanks to my recent dive back into the net, where I was now spending upwards of 50 hours a week.  Blogging, tweeting, YouTubing, reading and commenting on articles – news, pop culture, music, science, art, technology – as well as on other folks’ blogs, which I found endlessly fascinating, as I’m always, subconsciously or otherwise, storing people and voices in my mental Character Bank for future use in my writing.

And since I still hadn’t found The Thing yet – that reason to leap out of bed in the morning – I didn’t even feel guilty about it.

 

Reading (the entirety of the Interwebs) is FUNdamental!

 

I called it “research.”

I was researching this new world – Internet 3.0 – and once more, slowly but steadily, relearning cyberspeak.  For example, discovering that 1) no one really uses the word “cyber” anymore, and 2) what the meanings of acronyms like “smh,” “ffs,” “fml,” and “asl” were.  (Initially I thought the last one referred to sign language, which confused the hell out of me.)

Becoming more proficient made me feel good – connected – in the inner circle – and Klout was with me the whole way, encouraging me to wear those shoes with that skirt (one +K!), to try this iridescent lip gloss (two +K’s!), to snog that acne-ridden boy in eighth grade because HE WAS IN EIGHTH GRADE, ffuckingfs!  (Three fucking +K’s!  BAM!)

God help me, I even convinced some of my online friends to join Klout.

Though I didn’t need any special help in this department, that may be the tipping point of why I’ll eventually go to Hell.

* * *

Then suddenly – oh holy of holies! – I found The Thing.

Or rather, it found me.  Like it always does.

I’d been going to meeting after meeting with production companies, networks, studios, and indie producers.  Sitting in rooms with excited Suits, bored Suits, kind Suits, dim Suits, brilliant Suits, Suits who stared right through me, Suits who told me, point-blank, “We’re not interested in any shows with a female lead” (true story!), Suits who said they loved my work… but just didn’t have a property that would fit my “special skills.”

(I’m relatively certain “special skills” means “vagina and opinion”.  As in, “We think you’re super good at all those action/horror/comedy/sci-fi/fantasy script-thingies.  But you have a vagina and an opinion.  So we don’t know what to do with that.”)

However, at last I found a production company that owned the rights to a fabulous graphic novel I got really, really excited about.  It was straight-up action — but big, operatic, set in an exotic milieu that’s never been explored in-depth on TV before.  (And considering shows like “B.J. And The Bear” and “I Was Impaled” have been made?  That’s saying a lot.)  I came up with a pitch – a pitch that added a little comedy, widened the world a bit – and before I knew it, the company had hired me to develop The Thing.

Now, not only was this a reprieve from my internal dictator – the one that periodically flagellates me with a whip made of “What the shit are you DOING with your life?” – but the project itself inspired me.  It brought on a deluge of ideas: characters, arcs, themes, emotional resonances, universe-building, and more.

In fact, it turns out The Thing is kinda like Soviet Russia: you don’t work on it; it works on you.

So I surrendered myself.  Spent hours and hours and hours (and hours and hours and… you get the idea) working and stretching The Thing like pizza dough blessed by Jeebus Himself: I started out with a pound, but the more I kneaded and rolled it, the bigger it got, until I had 4 tons of pizza dough, enough to feed the 5,000 a dozen times over.

 

For the record, this really is the world’s largest pizza.  How do you know?  Cranes.

 

So I was genuinely happy.

For a while.

But in those first heady months of developing The Thing, it seemed I’d forgotten the cardinal rule of being popular:

Pay continual obeisance to the Mean Girl — or you are in for a world of hurt.

* * *

I went on vacation.

Naturally, because I’m allergic to sun and beer, this just meant I went somewhere and stopped working on The Thing for a while.  This is good, and necessary – a lesson I learned the hard way several years ago – because if you don’t take a break every now and then, you will liquefy your brain and – much, much worse – you will find yourself hating The Thing.

And then watch out, bub – because The Thing will hate you right back.

Ask any former Soviet what happens after that.

Anyway, thanks to writing The Thing all day every day, my online involvement had dropped to its lowest levels since I’d plugged back in.  Correspondingly, my Klout score took a nosedive, and Klout started prodding me in the classic way of all Mean Girls.  You know, pushing me to do shit I didn’t really want to do, just to demonstrate my loyalty, just to stay in the group.

At first I was afraid (I was petrified!) (sorry, that’s—  it’s involuntary, I’m sorry), because finally, for once, I had been in the popular clique, and I didn’t want to lose my “prestige.”  Never mind that this “prestige” was based on an equation they wouldn’t tell me about – exactly like a Mean Girl – or that the rewards of this “prestige” were things like diet drinks and nail polish.

Fuck, this metaphor is getting scary accurate.

So while I was on “vacation,” I gorged on the net in a futile effort to prove my devotion.  Binged, bloated, and in the end, force-fed myself websites like one of those geese they later split open for paté.

But still Klout told me I wasn’t going to enough parties.

So I joined LinkedIn.  I joined G+.  I joined Tumblr.

Klout told me I wasn’t being funny enough to get Retweeted.

So I started pushing myself to come up with more jokes, one-liners, light and fluffy and blatantly desperate to be noticed.

Klout told me I wasn’t keeping up with the in-crowd, posting enough funny cat pictures on G+ or re-posting enough of someone else’s funny cat pictures.

 

I can’t talk about this part.

 

Basically the Mean Girl was saying I was no fun anymore, and inevitably bound for the Dork City Express — so I began frantically doing everything I could think of to raise my Klout score, which was still going down like a hooker at a stag party.

I spent more time on LinkedIn.  I G+’d.  I Tumblr’d.  I blogged, tweeted, left messages on every site with a Comment box…

…but nothing helped.

Down, down, down went my score, the little slut.

Apparently the Mean Girl had decreed that I was now -K unkool.

* * *

 So I came back from vacation and suddenly had two things to obsess over:

The Thing

 – and –

Begging the Mean Girl to let me back into the clique.

Pathetic, right?

Well, never underestimate the staying power of a lonely, bullied, emotionally-scarred childhood.

(It’s partly why we become Writers in the first place.  Functional people need not apply.)

And so I bowed and scraped and kissed the hem by continuing to spend disgusting amounts of time on inane online fuckery I didn’t even care about just to raise my Klout score — which, of course, took time away from The Thing.

Time — that commodity most precious to any Writer — something we’d kill to manipulate, if only we could go through that draft just once more, because we know we could make it better, swear to god, if we only had a little more time.  I was squandering it all on a Mean Girl who didn’t give an eight-millionth of a fuck about me, when I should’ve been paying attention to that true childhood friend I’d always taken for granted: the Writing.

Finally, after one weekend in which I spent — no shit, y’all — 18 hours online without writing a damn word of The Thing, it hit me like a bus in a Final Destination movie:

WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING, YOU SILLY TWAT?

I’m not kidding.  It was like a physical kick in the gut, reminiscent of every shallow, awful “realization” I came to in middle school. “Realizations” like: You are never going to be beautiful.  Your teeth are crooked and your face is pimpled and you are stupid and weird and use long words nobody understands.  No one is ever going to like you.   People think you’re a loser, a fake, a joke.  (For the record, I am 99.98% cured of those thoughts today — and that leftover .02% only hits me when I’m already down, like an opportunistic yeast infection.)  However, now well into my thirty-somethings, I know those “realizations” are nothing but fears, and those fears can’t hurt you if you refuse their existence.

So that’s what I did.

I refused Klout’s existence.

I cancelled my account, and happily re-boarded the Dork City Express.

Luckily, The Thing had saved me a seat.

For much as I’d loved being one of the popular kids, much as it seemed to heal those wounds I’d sustained growing up, the true realization was that I didn’t need to be popular anymore.  I didn’t need to be constantly petted and reassured (no more than any other Writer, anyway).  I had found my self-worth in my work, in my writing — despite my “special skills” — and not even the Mean Girls could take that away from me.  At least, not without getting unpolished fingernails clawed into their glittery eyes.

And so this is the crux of my entire Klout warning: you can only have one Thing at a time.  Sure, sure, you can always work on several projects at once – what Writer doesn’t?  (Answer: The dead ones.)  But only one of those Things can be your BFF, and trust me, Klout is not it.  Klout was only waiting until I truly believed I was popular, so that my subsequent misery at being ejected from the clique would drive me to the ludicrous lengths I went to in order to re-ingratiate myself with it.

As my mom — a brilliant woman (whom I did not sell to human traffickers this time, either) — told me when I was in sixth grade, and which I am only now coming to appreciate fully:

If they don’t like you for you?

Fuck ’em.

September 20th, 2012 by Mere Smith

I’m Kloutta Here! PART II — Sixth Grade Geek N00b

In my last post I described Klout as a Mean Girl.

It only seems fair, then, that I describe myself as a geek n00b.

So let’s go back.

Back to a year ago, before I met Klout, when I still had that shitload of time on my hands.

To the uninitiated, that’s Hollywood-speak for unemployed again.

* * *

I was still writing – I always write – always have, almost pathologically, every day since I finished my first “novella” at age 11.

This “novella” (honestly, without the air-quotes I’d punch myself in the face) was about a telekinetic girl — and a blatant, plundering mash-up of two of my favorite books at the time, The Girl With The Silver Eyes by Willo Davis Roberts and Carrie by Stephen King.  Both are excellent stories, by the way.  (The “novella”?  Not excellent.)  So I wasn’t just sitting around the house doing nothing, eating bon bons.  I had the decency to eat the bon bons while I was writing.

But despite my daily tours of duty at the keyboard, I was simply not finding The Thing, y’know?

The Thing that gets you up ten minutes before your alarm and makes your fingers itch to get going.  The Thing you actually think about while staring at the TV.  The Thing that stops you dead on the sidewalk and busts out an “Oh shit!” when you fit things together like puzzle pieces.

It had been weeks since my last job ended and I still hadn’t found The Thing yet.

To be honest, I was getting really fucking annoyed.

But I didn’t want to force it.  Trying to force The Thing is bad juju — as any Writer will tell you, it only drives The Thing farther away.  If I can Pottergeek out on you, The Thing  is like Buckbeak the hippogriff: you have to bow to it and let it acknowledge you first.  Otherwise it’s all talons and blood and regret.

.

This thing will fuck you up. No joke.

 

In the meantime, I wrote what I could.

Relaunched the blog I’d kept during the Writers’ Strike of 2007-8.  Spent several weeks writing also-not-excellent blog entries as I transitioned from screenwriting to prose (for me the change in media is like going from haiku to collage; I have to let my brain stretch out). Eventually stopped sucking like a jet engine.  Mostly.

Wrote a couple short stories.

Wrote another chapter of the novel I’ve been working on for years.  It’s my long-term passion project, my creative spouse (hey, I’ve known it longer than The Finance), my pearl of great price – that, with inflation, will probably cost $1000 a download on the SolarMechaKindle when I finish it in 2053.

But still, all those things, they just weren’t The Thing.

I felt like gnawing on door jambs like a rat.

* * *

So, since I couldn’t come up with The Thing, and I didn’t want to just sit there waiting for lightning to strike (that’s not entirely true – sometimes I wished lightning would strike – it’d have to be less painful than this Thingless sucking chest wound called What’s Next?, right?), I decided on another way to occupy myself.

As I was putting most of my effort into writing the blog at that point, I decided I’d make a serious go at promoting it, by engaging a potential audience through Twitter — because 50 Followers is awesome!  And what’s a “hash tag”?

(Oh, Naïve Girl.  You were so Naïve.  I miss you.)

It’s important to note here that I am not at all comfortable with self-promotion, and my foray into Twitter was made under shrieking protest by my human-being-aversion.  Even if I wrote a bestseller, if it were up to me, I’d hire a Mere stand-in for book signings and just watch on a secret G+ Hangout while I lounged in my home office smoking pot.

But then again, if you’re not at least occasionally trying stuff that scares the shit out of you, you don’t get to put “Writer” or “Artist” on the Occupation line of your income taxes.

You have to put “Giant Huge Pussy.”

And thus it was I leapt into the sea-froth of the masses and waded into Twitter, officially re-establishing myself on The Grid.

It was my third internet immersion since 1993.

* * *

First, in college, there was Usenet.  Then after college there was The Bronze, with varying periods of involvement and abstention in between.  But this was the first time I’d truly plugged back in since I started writing for a living over a decade ago.

Y’see, that’s the thing about writing for TV – when you’re working, you’re Working.  And depending on the EP, you can be Working 12 – 14 hours a day – and that doesn’t mean tucked up behind a desk where you can at least check your email.

No, generally when TV Writers Work, they get locked up in a room together for hours on end and are forced to recount their lives’ most mortifying moments in an effort to A) make all the other damaged people laugh, and B) pray that one of them can transmute that misery into a workable story idea before 11 p.m.  Please, god.  Please.

Admittedly, while this process is somewhat therapeutic – in a traumatic sort of way – it doesn’t leave much time to tweet, Pin, Tumbl, G+, blog – oh, all right, fine – or Facebook.

(Though I’ve never been contaminated by that particular digital cholera, myself.)

My point is, this was the first occasion I’d had in ten years to genuinely rejoin the net community, to discover what had happened while I was gone (answer: omfg a really LOT, you guys!  fuck yeah! <3).  It was the first time I’d have enough time to return to my people – all those other invisible, introverted nerds I’d come of age with – though to my great surprise, we nerds had somehow morphed into the Old Guard, while moms and frat boys and (shudder) Big Corporate Shitbrains had joined the party, too.

So despite my initial reluctance, promoting the blog led to Twitter.  Which I turned out to like, because it made me think on my feet and flay my jokes to the bone.  I made some great connections: other writers, old friends.

Twitter led to gmail after I wrote to those connections – then swore if I saw “AOL?!?  SRSLY?!?  HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!” one more time, I was going to kick somebody in the babyhole.  So that’s where the gmail came from.

YouTube was its own thing.

Sometimes I wince, thinking of the cumulative weeks I threw down that well of median mediocrity – and yet I would watch (at least the first 20 seconds of) a hundred videos looking for one good one, or one I could tweet or email to somebody else, to “justify” my search and make it “meaningful.”

.

If I just keep watching, eventually I will see a good video.

Yes, I, too, am amazed our species isn’t extinct.

But besides the make-up tutorials and toddlers crancing to “Put A Ring On It,” I was watching dozens and dozens and dozens of webseries.  I was also evolving an idea of what a webseries could be, as well as an idea for one.  The idea wasn’t The Thing, but I liked it and thought it was funny and what the hell, it’d be a break from the blog, so I wrote it.

It was optioned by an awesome production company by an awesome producer.

It never got made, but… welcome to Hollywood.

The only things guaranteed to get made in this town are Spielberg’s sandwiches.

After the webseries was optioned, though, I started to feel like I was getting a handle on things – like a sixth-grader beginning to memorize the middle-school layout.

Maybe I hadn’t found The Thing yet, but I was thinking in a new way, turning over new ideas.  Something had changed about the internet while I’d been gone: it was no longer this distinct, disparate world people had to access through specialized equipment.

Now the internet was literally blending into the real worldthis world – right here.

Because you could be sitting on a bus stop bench and suddenly think, “Bah!  I don’t want to take the bus anymore!”  And in seconds you could order, and pay for, a new scooter, to be delivered to your house tomorrow – using only your phone!

You have just made a radical transition in your real-world mode of transportation –

– and you haven’t even gotten off the bench.

I guess it goes without saying that Internet 3.0 enthralled me, just like those self-assured seventh-grade girls enthralled me when I was in sixth, still gawky and struggling to remember where my classes were.

And while I was wandering the new and only vaguely familiar online hallways, looking for the places I belonged…

…that’s when Klout, that glittery seventh-grade bitch, found me.

 

NEXT POST: The Final Installment

I’m Kloutta Here!: PART III

How I Was Scared, But Then Kicked That Mean Girl’s Ass

September 18th, 2012 by Mere Smith

I’m Kloutta Here! PART I – Glittery Seventh Grade Bitch

Want to succeed as a writer?

Well, first there’s this great article.

And second, some personal advice from me to you:

.

Never, never, never,

ever,

ever, ever, ever

not in a vajillion years

.

NEVER

EVER

join

Klout.

.

Don’t know what Klout is?

You lucky, lucky fucker.

Step away, then.

Nothing to see here.

Oh, but I get it: you’re one of those folks who sticks a hand behind the shower curtain, wanting to know how hot the water “really” is, even after somebody’s screamed, jumped out of the tub, slipped on the floor and broken his neck.

Yeah, me too.

So here’s the short version: Klout purports to be a site that measures and ranks your online “influence” via social media.

Here’s the long version: Klout is a soul-shredding H.G. Wellsian site-vampire that sucks up pornographically obscene amounts of your life while you increase the time you spend online in a desperate attempt to earn more points/free shit/greater self-esteem by racking up a higher “score” according to Klout’s Lennie-Small-inspired algorithm.

* * *

Don’t get me wrong.  Klout has pretty buttons and whistles.  (When they work.)

In fact, Klout is one glittery seventh grade bitch, doling out judgment and approval like only a Mean Girl/malignant narcissist can.

Sign into Klout and Klout gives you five points.

That’s right!  Five points!  Just for showing up.  (It’s like being a Kardashian at a nightclub opening – only without the sulfur residue in the booth.)  These points are called “K”s – y’know, initials, y’all, whutwhut — shorter, catchier, hip, right? – and you, in turn, can give these “K”s to your friends.  That’s right: you wield the power.  You decide who should be popular — righting all the injustices of your adolescence!  After all, who deserves those “K”s for having your back in the Great Twitter Debate of 2012 (Instagram: Breakfast Pics v. Dinner Pics: Which Meal Looks More Retro)?

Klout seduces you with presents – giveaways of real fucking things that they send IRFuckingL mail! – called “Perks.”  Free things!  Sent to you for free!  Which reminds me, right now I have ten packets of name-brand iced tea sitting in my cabinet, if you want them.  I don’t drink tea – never have – but hey!  Free fucking tea!

Klout also decorates you with “Achievements” (can you feel the pride, you pale and squishy indoor Hobbits?  You have Achieved!), which are computer icons – icons, people, pixels – as prizes for your continued involvement in their site.   Your heart swells like a party balloon – thin rubbery love on the outside, empty air on the inside.

But at its core, Klout manipulates people who need constant reassurance and validation (hello, Writers!), and it does so by providing an “objective” method – alas, clandestine and undisclosed by Klout (though that makes it sound more Illuminati than the banal truth: its “math” — and never have I air-quoted harder — is “intellectual” — okay, now I have — property) – that Klout’s clients can use to contextualize themselves online, enabling them to compare their own scores to both their heroes and their enemies.

.

Yes, it’s true.

People do have archenemies, and Klout has just risen to the top of my list.  (Or sunk to the bottom?  Frankly, I’m not sure I remember how Archenemies Lists work; I haven’t made one since middle school.)  Anyway, in the spirit of seventh grade, from now on I will be shunning Klout in the lunchroom, laughing at its outfits, and not returning its calls or texts, all while showing them to my Real Friends and bitching histrionically about how pathetic Klout is – why can’t it just take a hint?

* * *

But why have I turned on Klout like this?

Because it owes me.

Time.

Klout owes me a shitload of time.

.

NEXT POST

I’m Kloutta Here!: PART II

Why I Am Weak And Don’t Deserve Internet Privileges

September 5th, 2012 by Mere Smith

Oh Shit! Now She’s On Tumblr!

Since I know y’all just can’t get enough of the slimy tangled fleshy snake-things that comprise my brain, I’ve opened a Tumblr account to backlog all the potentially-useful weirdness I come across on my Intertube journeys.

Some of it I’m saving for inspiration for a writing-related rainy day, some of it I made myself, and some of it is just me going

EEEEEEEBENEDICTCUMBERBATCHEEEEEEEEEE!

(Because filling The GallerSQUEE! with too many Batch pictures is just… creepy.  Splitting up my obsession into two different websites, on the other hand… totally normal.  Right?  Right?).

So far I’ve been posting about one or two Tumblr foundlings a day.  I didn’t want to announce it here until I had at least a month’s worth of browsiness for y’all to look through.  Some of you who follow me closely (hey! that’s up my ass, and that’s a little too close, motherfucker!) on Twitter or G+ will have seen a few of these treasures, but for the most part, I’ve tried to keep the entries separate from my other media platforms.

The gameplan is to Tweet The Masses when I’ve posted a new Tumblr entry, but if you miss my siren’s call on The Twitters, you can always just check my Tumblr site itself.  A link can also now be found at the top of my homepage, unless my Webmaster-Slash-Bitch has fallen down on the job (literally), due to his excessive drinking.

Hope you enjoy what’s inside The Evil!

July 30th, 2012 by Mere Smith

The Crap We Non-Olympians Eat

Holy balls, you guys!  It’s the Olympics again!

Yay!  Yay!  The Olympics, the Olympics!

The Opening Ceremony!

(pause)

Hey, y’all, I think Danny Boyle dipped into my stash.

(pause)

Like, deep into my stash.  Look inside there, do I even have any left?

 

**

So the summer Olympics have returned and – unlike the winter Olympics, when everybody’s bundled into their Gore-Tex sacks – we get to see every inch of these athletes’ ideal bodies.  I mean, this is what these people do for a living: activities that sculpt their physiques into shapes that verge on blasphemy, so closely do they approximate divinity, if “divine” is to be defined as absolute perfection.

 

Adonis. Oh, no wait. Matthew Mitcham from Australia.

 

Not a single undulation where there shouldn’t be, not an extra ounce to be found.  They are only and exactly as much as they need to be to perform their task – no more, no less.  They do not exist in excess.

Now, NBC, when not consistently spoiling my viewing experience by forcing me to shun all other media (including Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, the print newspaper, the radio, and the local TV news on any channel) for fear of learning results before I’m allowed to watch the event, has been airing this commercial from Citi:

In it, you hear the (ostensible) voices of athletes acknowledging the sacrifices they’ve made in order to reach the acmes of their respective sports.  But the one that’s stuck with me over the two dozen or more times I’ve seen the commercial, is the voice of a male gymnast saying, “I haven’t ordered dessert in two years.”

Can we all just think about that for a second?

“I haven’t ordered dessert in two years.”

 

Crazytalk!  Just CRAZYTALK!

 

Clearly the gymnast knows what dessert is, so it’s likely he’s had dessert before.  Obviously he thinks of going without dessert as a sacrifice, or he wouldn’t be mentioning it in the context of this commercial.  So the guy likes dessert.  It’s not like, given a choice, he’d be shunning dessert.

But dude.   Gymnast dude.   You’re telling me you haven’t had one day – just one day – in the last 730 days – where you let yourself have a fucking M&M?

Who could live like that?

(And on a sidenote, can you imagine the uproar it would’ve caused if they’d had a female gymnast say that line?  Oh!  Oh!  Oh, it almost makes me wish the Citi marketing people had been that just that side of stupid.  And I’m usually the last person in the world wishing people would get stupider, for Christ’s sakes.  We’re barely not blowing everything to shit as it is.)

That spirit of asceticism – combined with the Greek statue builds of the athletes – naturally sent me screaming in the opposite direction – more fatty food, more, MOAR! – which called to mind a blog Margaret Cho wrote a few days ago about one of her disgusting comfort foods: cinnamon raisin bagels smeared with a mountain of cream cheese – topped with Doritos.

And that got me to thinking: unlike Half-Step-Shy-Of-Anorexic-Gymnast-Guy, I’ll bet we all have those Secret Disgusting Comfort Foods, those things we’d usually never admit to eating.  That combination of tastes that would likely seem repellent to the general populace – and yet their mixture imparts a sense of personal satisfaction to us that none of the individual ingredients would offer on their own.

I have mine, and now I want to know yours, no matter how repulsive!  (Human flesh excepted.)  (No, that’s not true.  I especially want you to comment if you like human flesh, because that’ll make it much easier for the police to track down your ISP so I’ll eventually be able to sleep again.)

But of course, I am a woman of integrity.  Mostly.  Okay.  I have some integrity most of the time.  So I know I can’t possibly ask you to show me yours without me showing you mine first.  At least, those are the rules I learned in preschool.

Thus, here’s my confession – my Secret Disgusting Comfort Food:

I like to pour Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Cap’n Crunch, and chocolate chips into a jar of peanut butter, then eat the whole fucking mess directly out of the jar.

I know.

I know.

It’s revolting.  That’s about 150,000 calories per spoonful if I’ve got my shame-weight calculations right, and even after four years, The Finance has never seen me eat this.  I would be horrified for him to see me eat this – it’d be like him walking in on me sacrificing babies to yard gnomes.  In fact, I think I’d prefer the babies/yard gnome thing because at least then The Finance wouldn’t see my hips expanding in real time.

That’s why it’s called Secret Disgusting Comfort Food.

So speak up, bloggos!  Even if you have to sign in anonymously!  I know someone out there can top me in Disgustingness – some of y’all eat kale and shit and you’re not even joking.  (Though I warn you, if you just make up something gross for the sake of being gross – like, “I eat dog vomit with a sprinkling of cous cous” — I will publicly and repetitively call BULLSHIT on you until you post a picture.  Then you’ll be doing your Secret Thing out in the open, and that won’t be very fun, will it?  In other words: don’t fib, you fucking fibbers.)  So how’s about it?

What’s your Secret Disgusting Comfort Food?

 

UPDATE:  Apparently binge-eaters (like myself, occasionally, much to my shame and chagrin) are experts in Secret Disgusting Comfort Foods.