Last year I proclaimed that 2011 would be my Year of Simplification. It was also a year of Playing With My New Phone. But now I’m ready to focus on 2012 and the end of the world.
So as the stars come into alignment, and Cthulhu stirs at the heart of R’lyeh… as Satan hits the snooze button one more time… as Ouroboros uncoils, stretches, and brushes his fangs in preparation for Ragnarok, I’ll take a quick look back at the highlights and lowlights of 2011:
My short story Pinky the Invisible Flying Pony vs the Giant Carnivorous Poisonous Exploding Spider-Leeches was chosen for publication by Sam’s Dot Publishing! This is my second accepted publication, following last year’s Big Game. So my record now stands at two submissions and two publications. No rejection letters. And yes, I will keep bragging about this until I actually receive a rejection letter. So send me one already. You’ll be the first.
Pinky etc… will be released in a compilation of Minnesota Speculative Fiction Author works titled The Land of Sky-Tinted Waters. It should be available in early 2012.
I have two other Pinky stories that are nearly finished, and a two others that are little more than rough outlines. I’m hoping to start releasing the Pinky stories to the world throughout 2012.
I’ve pulled the Evil Looks Good manuscript out of the hellfire/quagmire and began running it through a rigid restructuring from the ground up. We’ll see if I can get it finished before the world ends.
MNSpec keeps me busy with the monthly events and recording and engineering the writer’s group podcast. Attendance and interest in the group have been growing steadily since Fall of 2011. I haven’t been submitting much material to the writer’s critique group, but that’s soon to change.
The Year in Apps
Without a doubt, the biggest change for me in 2011 was getting a Samsung Droid Charge smartphone. While I could go on about all the advantages of having mobile access to data, the very best feature of mobile data is the cloud.
Between Evernote, Gmail, Google Docs, Google Music and SugarSync, all my important files, pictures and music are not only backed up securely, but are synced across all devices. No more portable USB drives. No more cables. And good riddance to ActiveSync.
I’ve resisted e-books for as long as I could. But when fellow author Michael Merriam’s Last Car to Annwn Station was only released in e-book format, I caved. But there was no reason for me to buy a dedicated e-book reader. Why would I carry around a second device like a Kindle or a Nook, when my phone handles all those formats and I always have it with me? I’ve also started checking e-books out from the library using Overdrive software.
Voice Calls? Meh.
The one thing I don’t do much of on my phone is Voice Calling. I bet voice calls make up less than 10% of my phone use, and in fact, I wrote up a blog post about how to reduce information overload including using Google Voice to cut down on incoming traffic like cell phone calls. I didn’t get a cell phone so YOU could call ME at any time.
The End of Jagged Spiral
There’s probably plenty of people who would be surprised to discover that Jagged Spiral is still together. To be honest, we haven’t been a real band since 11 July 2008 when our philosophy changed to be “all about the music.” It’s not surprising really, everyone wants to do the fun stuff, and no one wants to do the un-fun stuff. We all enjoy writing music, of course. That’s a major fun part of being in a band, and it’s why we all picked up musical instruments in the first place. Unfortunately, there’s more to being a real band than simply writing music. Doubly Unfortunately, we can’t afford a band manager, and I’m simply unwilling to continue carrying the entire administrative weight of the band by myself. So after the album is finished, I’ve informed the Spiral that I’ll be moving on to other projects.
Needless to say, recording our second and final album together has been about as challenging as performing a root canal on yourself, but the end is very very near. Recording is finished, and we’re working with a local studio to mix and master the album for us so we can finish up as soon as possible. Check jaggedspiral.com for updates.
The Minneapolis Music Scene, Circa 2011
One of my wishes was finally granted when 89.3 The Current released Local Current – Music from ONLY Minnesota bands, nonstop, 24 x 7 x 365. Website here. Stream here. Perhaps a little to hip-hop-heavy for my taste, but Minneapolis does have a huge hip-hop scene. More importantly, this proves what I’ve said for years: there’s enough music coming out of Minnesota that someone could run a full-time radio station.
Local music I purchased directly from the musicians themselves in 2011:
- Hastings 3000
- Phantom Tails
- Venus de Mars and All The Pretty Horses
- Fort Wilson Riot
- Dragons Power Up!
- Wizards are Real
I’m rediscovering my own music collection via Google Music. I’ve made some playlists of Days Of The New, Gary Numan and Soul Coughing. Sifting through some of the 80’s one-hit wonders makes me happy. Remember Johnny Hates Jazz? Or The Dream Academy? Good times.
I’ve also been digging on Collide’s new cover album, These Eyes Before. I bought Angelspit’s entire back-catalog and I’m trying to decide if I like Skinny Puppy or not.
And so far no takers for one dollar to kill Kid Rock.
Another great year for video games, which partially explains why I haven’t gotten more writing done.
I played Mass Effect 2 well into the new year, and Dragon Age 2 continued the awesome-streak of Bioware games, but Skyrim rocks (grabbing Best RPG of 2011 from Gamespot.) and I’m so immersed in Skyrim that I haven’t even made time to blog about how great it is.
- Game of the Year awards according to GameSpot.
- The Best Videogames of 2011 according to Metacritic.
- The 20 Best Videogames of 2011 from Wired.
- Best Videogames of 2011 from Gamasutra.
Looking down the barrel of video games to come, I received Dead Island, Duke Nukem Forever and Serious Sam 3: BFE for Christmas. I also stole Portal 2 and Deus Ex: Human Revolution off Steam for uber-cheap. And I’m so excited about Mass Effect 3 that I preordered it on Amazon.
Meh. I think the only TV show I watched in 2011 was Hoops and Yoyo Ruin Christmas and that was a waste of time. Anything worth watching will eventually come out on DVD (complete and sans commercials). I’m watching the Nikita series via Netflix, but honestly, I’m having more fun watching The Benny Hill Show.
Non-fiction I read in 2011:
- The Rules of Victory
- Little Red Writing Book
- The Mayan Prophecies of 2012
- The Tome of Magic (not that one, the other one)
- Story Engineering by Larry Brooks
- 31 Days to Build a Better Blog by Darrin Rowse
Fiction I read in 2011:
- The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
- The Whisper Jar by Carole Lanham
- The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
- Mass Effect: Revelation, Mass Effect: Ascention and Mass Effect: Retribution by Drew Karpyshyn
- Should We Drown In Feathered Sleep and Last Car to Annwn Station by Michael Merriam
- The Warded Man, and The Desert Spear by Peter V. Brett
- Leather, Denim and Silver: Legends of the Monster Hunter a compilation edited by Miles Boothe
My Favorite Movies of 2011
The Thing remake/prequel. Dear. God. Someone actually watched the original, and managed to remain faithful to it, and still managed to make it better? Wow. Hands-down the best movie of the year, and no-question the scariest monster ever.
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows was as good, if not better, than the original. I’ve decided that Sherlock Holmes is the new James Bond. And if Harry Potter can make 9 movies, then Sherlock Holmes should be making about 90.
Priest was a well-written and well-produced twist on the tired-out vampire mythos.
Captain America – The First Avenger was better-than-average, but I don’t know if I’d call it “great”. Thor was better, if only because it had Natalie Portman in it. X-men: First Class was better than I thought it would be, which isn’t saying much.
And I blogged extensively about Sucker Punch, which is some kind of social litmus test that I think I failed because I actually dared to enjoy it. Here’s a tip, watch it with the sound off while listening to Jagged Spiral’s Days From Evil.
Colombiana was… well, it was what it was. It certainly had the best, if not longest, girl vs. guy fight scene in any movie I’ve ever seen, but that couldn’t make up for… whatever it was.
Biggest Movie Disappointments of 2011
Netflix these Later…
Never, Ever, Never
Tell you what. If you people would all stop going to see Adam Sandler movies, he would probably stop making them.
New Year’s Resolution: 2012 The Year of Resolution
Whether 21 Dec 2012 is the end of the world or not, I’m going out with a bang. I have projects that have been languishing over the last several years, and have eaten up too much of my time for too long. I’m going to punch my goals in the balls with a sledgehammer. I’m not crossing things off a list, I’m going to shoot them off the list with the Mossberg 590A1 Tactical Shotgun that I got for Christmas.