Years ago I started writing notes and putting them in random places like behind paintings in hotels, between the pages at book stores and in Sky Mall Magazines on airplanes. While browsing through a PostSecret book, I found one of my notes. That small ripped piece of paper is featured above. I attended your event last week at CMU. I’m thankful for your ability to speak to people in their broken places.
With two major goals of my bucket-list finally checked off, I found myself already overwhelmed. “Full!” I thought to myself. “My brain is FULL of cool inspiration and art and concepts! I need to digest a bit.” So on Saturday, we took a break from being history tourists to just kick back a bit, wander around SoHo, and enjoy some relaxation while on vacation. (I know… what a concept!)
After sleeping in, we had a nice brekkie and then decided to just wander about. What a cool area SoHo is! Theaters left and right, wonderful restaurants, pubs galore, and book stores. As fate would have it, we were right on Charring Cross Road, which has been known for book stores for hundreds of years. There, my hubby introduced me to Foyles book store (a VERY dangerous place for me), along with several antiquarian book stores. Between pubbing, shopping, drinking at lunch, shopping, drinking at dinner and hitting a couple of gay bars after; I have to admit that the rest of the day is just a wee bit fuzzy. But that’s fine. That’s what vacation is all about, right?
When Sunday morning rolled around, I took full advantage of Paul heading off to church to sleep in. He, of course, went off to St. Paul’s for services while I snoozed. And my mission (gulp!) was to figure out how to join him in his area so we could hit our next target – the Museum of London.
Because the British Museum was so close, and I had not managed to see all that I wanted, I spent a couple of hours there in the morning to have tea, and see some of the ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian items. But because I was still a bit unsure how to navigate the tube, I decided to hike it to the Museum of London. And truthfully, I am so glad I did. Somehow, that is what made it sink in. “I’m here!! I’m really HERE!” Wandering around London, I saw so many cool things around each corner and in each crevice. To really explore a new place, I just don’t think you can get it in a subway or a bus or a car. You have to be on foot and WALK! And you have to discover places that you didn’t know about. For instance, as I was on foot, I discovered an old gothic church. I was pressed for time… but I just HAD to go check it out. It boasted some beautiful architecture, old banners that were so old as to be nearly thread-bare see-through; and a very roughly-shaped cross marking the mass grave of members of a legion who died in WWI. Everywhere I looked, history, respect, tribute, and a story-waiting-to-be-told. By the time I reached the Museum of London, I was just beaming. The air was chilly, and it had begun to drizzle. But I didn’t care one bit. I was just so happy to be there.
When I met my honey at the museum, he was in “Giles Proper” pose – sitting on a bench, reading. I met him with a smile and a peck on the cheek before heading into the museum. Unlike the British Museum, which focused mostly on fine art treasures from all over, the Museum of London really focused more on the everyday aspects of the locale from pre-historic times on. Going through the museum, I saw items from pre-history all the way through Victorian. I love being able to see the objects that serve as a basis for so many things that we do in the SCA. For instance, while looking at some of the ceramics, I laughed when I saw a green Tudor(ish) era jug of a tall man holding his belly. Why did I laugh? Because I like mine better. (Thank you, Mashime!!!!! I love that jug!) While I enjoyed visiting the museum, I was rather surprised that I went through it as quickly as I did. It didn’t have quite as many items as I would have expected on display, given the research that comes out of that facility. But like always, it was really awesome to see items that I had previously researched, such as the Spitalton Roman woman’s grave. I had seen the special about the discovery ages ago. But to see the cast lead sarcophagus, the grave goods, and the reconstructed face in person was surreal. Also, looking through the magnifying glass to see the little flecks of gold fiber proved to me just how far archeology has come in terms of detail and reconstruction.
Once in the book store, I made a beeline directly to the Museum of London publications to see which ones I did not have. I grabbed the missing ones from the series and then went a bit slack jawed as I saw a casting book that I had never seen.
“It’s a HUGE book! But it’s pricey.” I thought. Twice, I walked away from it, until my hubby noticed my hesitation. I showed him the book and told him my concern. “Joe,” he said in a deadpan and logical tone. “We are finally in England. Now is NOT the time to be cheap.”
That settled it! I bought the book, and I am thrilled to no end that I did! Why? Because I have PROJECTS TO MAKE!!!!! SQUEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!
“Is this for real????” I had to keep asking myself. It had been all of a little more than a day since we arrived in London, and I already felt like I couldn’t possibly see any more cool things than I already had. It was waaaaay too early for me to hit my point-of-overwhelm, so I pulled in my sense of panic, thought calm and happy thoughts, and tried to contain my urge to bounce-bounce-bounce as my hubby and I sat down for breakfast at a local café eating the standard English fair of beans, eggs, “bacon” (which I have to put in quotes simply because it isn’t the delicacy that we have here), and really yummy tea.
My hubby was a champ at navigating the tube system. While it took me a little while, I started to get the hang of it over time; thinking of it more and more like getting around San Francisco. But after going up and down stairs, changing trains, and being jostled around a bit; my poor hubby was starting to succumb to the first of what would turn out to be severely chronic back pain. Knowing that we had a LOT of walking in our future, we set up the standard practice pretty early – walk while you can. Stop to rest when you need. No rush. No pressure. And that is good, because this particular expedition involved a bit more underground walking than we had anticipated. But it was worth it! Why? Because our destination was none other than the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Already treasure-struck with so many shinies from the British Museum, visiting the Victoria and Albert was an unusually different experience. More modern than I had anticipated, the first few rooms that we visited displayed beautiful objects of more recent times – 17th century and onward. While beautiful, it wasn’t really so much my thing. But it gave my brain the needed time and input to reset – which was fantastic and much appreciated by the time we reached items of Cavalier, Elizabethan, and medieval age. Once again, SOOOO many pretties! The GLOVES! The Jewelry! The paintings! The sculpture!!!! (particularly the Dacre Beasts) The embroidery!!!! I swear, to do and make all the things I want would take several lifetimes. I saw a couple of pieces of embroidery I want so much to replicate (and know that I can!). But…. One thing at a time.
I have to admit to a particularly geeky moment. Of all of the pieces that I saw in the V&A, the one that made me have a distinct paused “O…M…G…” out loud was not a particular treasure (at least not in the average sense). Rather, it was a beautiful and impressively large majolica jar with the word, “Mostarda” in large script. Now, for those of you who haven’t been following, mostarda has been one of my deepest rabbit-hole dives as of late. So to see a really GORGEOUS mostarda jar from the 16th century that was clearly designed for a merchant selling that particular product; yah… I had a moment (and had to commission a replica to be made.)
A couple of times, I had to go ahead of my hubby while he planted himself on a bench to rest up. And naturally, we simply HAD to have tea in the William Morris Arts and Crafts Tea Room. (Whimper again!) Just sitting there and in the courtyard watching kids play in the fountain, my head started fantasizing about what it might be like to, oh… I dunno… live there. But I digress.
Making our first real solid killing in the book store, it was time to maneuver back to the hotel for post-museum-overwhelm nap. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, the inspiration, and cannot wait to start some new projects!!!!
After years of saving money, planning, hoarding vacation time; and receiving some much-appreciated assistance from our buddy, Kevin (thank you so much, Kevin!!!!!); we were finally able to have what effectively turned into a second honeymoon in England. I have dreamed of visiting the country ever since I was a child. For so long, it was just a fantasy and I wasn’t sure if it would ever come true. But finally... FINALLY… it did. And being able to experience this adventure with my favorite person in the world – my hubby – made an already perfect experience even better.
After arriving and maneuvering the tube to the hotel; we quickly got ourselves settled and gained our bearings. My hubby did a great job securing us at the St. Giles Hotel which was situated perfectly in the middle of SoHo – a fun area of London bustling with pubs, restaurants, theaters, book shops; and a plethora of gay bars. (Hubby claims the hotel name was merely a coincidence. I don’t buy it. What do YOU think?) One of the best parts about our location was its proximity to the British Museum, which was about two short blocks away and the first check on my bucket list of things to see and do in England. Taking it really easy on the day of arrival, we concentrated mostly on just getting acclimated to the city and to the shift in time. And after a good night’s sleep, we were ready to grab breakfast and then achieve goal number one.
Arriving just a few minutes before opening, I could barely contain my excitement. There it was! One of the world’s most important museums with priceless treasures of cultures all over the world. And I was finally – FINALLY going to see these things that I had always wanted to see with my own eyes. Taking our place in the queue, I stood in awe of the magnificent Temple façade, and focused on breathing calmly so that I wouldn’t completely freak out.
As we entered the museum and found ourselves in the great center court, we began our sightseeing in the “Age of Enlightenment” room where the hyperventilating began. I have to say that I found the presentation of items in the Enlightenment room most interesting in that they focused not simply on ancient items; but ancient items as they were collected by intellectuals of the 18th century. On the one hand, it was really interesting to see various items as they were collected within the context of the Enlightenment. But for my already-excited-and-distracted-brain; it was a bit disconcerting to see something from ancient Egypt next to something ancient Greek next to Italian Renaissance, etc. It meant that I needed to really slow down and take my time looking at each curio cabinet, each shelf, each drawer, and around every corner so as not to miss something that might make me go “Squeeeeee!!!” That room, in and of itself, was very overwhelming. And I’m sure I could visit it over and over again, finding something new each time. But there was still more to see – so much more!
Throughout the course of the day, we traversed the museum focusing on European history from ancient to the Renaissance (except of course when we took a break for tea. England, ya know). In each room, I saw treasure after treasure – Anglo Saxon finds, Viking-age items; daily medieval functional items, famous jewels, priceless artifacts; and in every direction – inspiration. History geek that I am, each item told me a story; and left me asking so many questions in my head. Every item, whether a fine jewel; or a broken piece of tile; meant something important. They represented art and craftsmanship of a person long-gone. But these often-anonymous artists live on through their work or remains. Truly, the biggest challenge for me was to not scream in excitement when I would look in a cabinet full of objects; only to stumble upon some treasure that I have studied or seen over and over in books interspersed among several other items. I did a good job at staying quiet and not embarrassing myself. But in my head, I would be screaming:
“AAAAAHHH!!!!!! It’s the Lewis Chess set! Right in front of me! How FREAKEN COOL!”
“OMG!!!!! The Sutton Hoo Helmet! Hwaet he garadana in gearadagum…”
“Holy Hannah!!!!!!! I’m alone with the Lycurgus Cup! It is even more magnificent in person!”
“LOOOOOOOK!!!!! It’s the Dunstable Jewel! It’s smaller than I thought it was. I bet I could make that! Hmmmm…(wheels turning)”
“GASP! It’s Lindow Man! Not just a picture, but the body – right… there… Just as he was found…”
I can’t say that I had one overall favorite item, because there were simply too many from which to choose. And as I mentioned earlier, each and every item told a story. Even if we visited nothing else in England, I could have visited the British Museum each and every day; seeing something new each time. But that was not to be. I had more places to visit and more adventures to experience – MANY more.
With my mind overwhelmed with art, inspiration, and complete sensory overload; we whisked ourselves off to dinner at Rules – the oldest restaurant in London, established in 1798. Specializing in game meat, the menu warns patrons to be careful, as the food might still contain buckshot. As we dined on a fine English meal and clinked our solid silver tankards full of icy cold Guinness; we toasted to our trip, to each other, and to what was only the beginning of one of our greatest adventures.
On 9/11/17, 3:59 AM, “Frank Warren” <email@example.com>
Yesterday I went to Barnes and Noble to get a book on infertility (my husband and I have been trying to conceive for almost a year and have reached the point of needing medical appointments). I picked up a PostSecret book while there and clinging to that book is the only thing that kept me from crying while I had to look through the pregnancy and baby type books to find a book to help my hurting heart. I didn’t find what I was looking for but I bought the postsecret book and wanted you to know that it brought me comfort.
Tabletop’s Eldritch Horror Pt. 1 was released this week.
Speaking of horror, I think I mentioned that I had this idea for a 1970s-style ridiculous, bloody, Grindhouse horror film. I thought it was just a silly story exercise, but the more I thought I about it and the more I did the story work for practice, the more I wanted to do the story work to make it into a real thing. So I’ve been working on that. It isn’t on cards just yet, but it’s on the whiteboard and it has its own file of ideas and beats and characters and stuff. I don’t know if it’ll get made, but at the very least I’ll have a script to publish.
I’ve been using that idea as an excuse to watch a ton of actual 1970s ridiculous, bloody, Grindhouse horror films. I’ve thrown some classic exploitation films into the mix, and learned a lot about how those movies were made. Some of them are terribad, but most of them have a sincerity that is utterly charming and worthy of emulation in my own screenplay.
I’ve been leveling up my understanding of story and character construction with this book called The Anatomy of Story. It’s densely packed with information and examples, and it’s slow reading for me because I keep going back to review, and I’m making a ton of notes in my notebook, but I’m pulling in tons of XP with each chapter. If you’re interested in writing and want to understand how to build your story, I highly recommend it.
The Deuce is as amazing as I hoped it would be. I am hoping so hard that the series lives up to the pilot (which is a thing I never say, because pilots are generally not that great, since they have to introduce a ton of characters and information.) Franco has always turned me off (it’s not him, it’s me), but I fucking LOVE him in this show.
Blood Drive was not renewed by the network formerly known as Sci-Fi, which makes me a little sad, because Colin Cunningham and Christina Ochoa are brilliant in it (Christina should have had top billing and Colin should win awards), and I would watch them as those characters forever. But! It always felt like it should be a miniseries, and the last four episodes weren’t nearly as compelling as the first eight. I felt like they had to bail on the premise — each episode pays homage to a classic exploitation trope — to set it up for multiple seasons. There was so much great stuff in it, though, and I sincerely love that SyFy gave the project the greenlight. It was a risky project, to say the least, and it’s so cool to see a network that was profoundly risk-averse when I worked for them take the chance.
I read a bunch of short stories from Charlie Jane Anders when I was on vacation last week, and I loved them all. So I went to the bookstore yesterday to pick up All the Birds in the Sky, and while I was there, I browsed the tabletop game section. My finger is ten miles from the pulse of tabletop gaming right now, but I took pictures of some games there that looked promising to me:
Have any of you played any of them? I’m just looking for fun games to add to my collection, not necessarily games that are candidates for Tabletop, as Tabletop’s future is uncertain.
Also, not that it matters, but getting Twitter off my phone and mostly out of my life has been a really great choice. It turns out that not being kicked in the face by infuriating bullshit dozens of times a day is a pretty neat idea.
So that’s a bunch of stuff I want you to know. What do you want me to know? I’m enjoying these posts, because it reminds me of the early days of my blog, when you who read it and I who wrote it would interact more than we seem to these days.
It was an incredible honor and privilege to contribute a story to this anthology. We were given the opportunity to write a story about a minor character in the Star Wars universe, and I chose the guy who watches ships fly away from the rebel base.
My editor pointed out that one of the guys (who I call Rebel Base Bucket Guy, because that amuses me) is already named, so my Rebel Base Bucket Guy is a different guy. I have to point this out, because the Star Wars Nerds are going to force choke me if they think I renamed their canonical Rebel Base Bucket Guy.
I have a work thing after work tonight, so I'm also staying late. I had planned to bring my home laptop, so that I could do some work on my volunteer job between work and the work thing. But I forgot this morning.