Fruits of Kickstarter

I had a small spark of Kickstarter addiction last year. I’ve been able to temper that addiction a bit with the new year, but at least I get to enjoy the first fruits of that limited shopping spree. On the very same day, I received two packages, each one containing a webcomics kickstarter reward.

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I had already written about the Widdershins, a comic I had earlier suggested to support. It’s wonderful to see Kate Ashwin’s work in printed form. She’s been a kind person to me and a great artist who’s whimsical whit and stylings have crafted a wonderful world of Widdershins and it’s inhabitants. Johnny Wander, on the other hand, has been a gorgeous diary/journal-esque story of two webcomic artists and their daily life. It’s been a quiet favorite of mine for some time, so having the printed copies of volume 1 and 3 have been a lovely treat to have.

As I read through both of these comics, a sense of nostalgia came over me. It’s been years since I was in the world of webcomics proper. I was a shit writer, attempting to become a webcomics critic of people’s work that spent time (and sometimes money) into this quirky medium. A lot of these comics will never be known-some may just fade into obscurity on the internet. But they still persist, for the love of the medium or just wanting to tell their story.

I found my old bookmarks from my time as a reviewer. Last time I counted, there was close to 300–400 comics listed there. It took me nearly an hour to get through them every day, as I organized all the webcomics by their update frequency. It was a challenge- and I loved it.

But it was a crapshoot. It took too much money, too much time, and the reward was insignificant to my future. At a certain point, I had to give it up. Since then, I haven’t read as many webcomics as I do now. But I still miss it. I miss the enviroment of a truly set of indie comics and their unique artists and writers.

Ah, well.

Wait shit I forgot to order Johnny Wander volume 2…. crap.

Late Night Chinatown

“Hey, are you busy tonight?”. Those are the words I got from Primo. No warning, just a question. It was already close to about 9 o’clock at night on a weekday when he called me with that query.

However, I knew exactly what it meant. Having Primo calling you for no reason late at night only one thing: a late night photo run. He loves to do environmental photography of Los Angeles, taking pictures of buildings the areas around them. Doing this, however since going out late at night with the camera he uses in downtown LA and its neighborhoods can be somewhat risky. Something that most people would not recommend to do by themselves. He asks random friends from time to time to accompany him, and when he asks me, I’m… honored.

Primo in motion
So a few hours later we set off, with our goal of late night photography in mind. We done it plenty of times before. Primo wanted to try out his new camera so I came up with an idea- why not Chinatown? I’ve taken pictures and video all the time in Chinatown usually in the middle of the day, when the place is bustling with activity. The neon lights in Los Angeles’ Chinatown seems to accentuate the individuality of that district from all the others.

At night, it empties out, save for a bar or two in the area. The idea of its neon lights in the late night on empty streets seemed like a perfect idea, so we set off to LA’s Chinatown.

The streets are deserted, no one around, exempt for the cockroaches that skittered past my feet, daring me to step on them. I simply stood, watching the streets for people as he darted about with the camera, taking pictures of random objects.

He squints his eyes, looking at something in the distance. Examining for a shotHe turns to me and asks my opinion for it. Being someone with some skill in photography (not much, really), I’m happy when he asks my opinion. And I do so with a sense of pride as I give him my two cents. I’ll keep watch out for anyone, as Primo focuses on the photography itself.

We talk about random conversations, about memories of the past, and catching up since we’ve seen each other last. I tell him about the maddening amount of customers at work, and he tells me about his latest photography projects and clients. It’s a nice way for us to have time just for ourselves, even if it’s in a roach-infested Chinatown.

I come home exhausted, usually a few hours later. I’ll see the pictures maybe a week or so later. I look upon them with fondness, a bit of pride as I was able to, in some small way, be of some help to Primo.

(This was something I wrote months ago, but neglected to put on the site until now. Go look at Primo’s work, you jerks, he’s great!.)

Late Night Chinatown

Retail on the Holidays

Day five out of six in a row.

Last night, I got off of my work at 11. Today, I reported for duty at 7 am. I had a total of eight hours to drive my coworkers home (I do so for some so they don’t have to ride the bus so late at night), wish my sister a happy birthday (this year, she turns 23), sleep, and repeat this cycle over again. Working retail during the holidays, to put in simple terms, just drains every part of you.

I have no energy when I get home. Those times I planned to work out in the evening end up with me lying in bed, staring at the ground with a lack of willpower do push-ups. Plans to work on future projects are tossed aside as I try and not think about the man who’s screamed at me multiple days in a row.

I just don’t have the energy for the willpower sapped away as customer after customer comes at me like a never ending stream of self imposed misery as they put off their holiday shopping until the very last minute.

But there’s a certain moment that I catch that makes this all worth it. That smile forming slowly over the customers face as they finally found that perfect present.

That shy smile forming on a six year olds face as I present to him (at the behest of his mother) his early Christmas gift. He clutched it, gripping his new toy with such eagerness I find myself content. Happy to see his face turn into a shy grin.

Letting a customer know that yes, we do have that product still in stock, and their sigh of relief as I present that gift they would have scoured the entire Los Angeles area to look for.

It’s those times that make it worth it. That make me happy to be here. It’s having those moments where I know I’m tired but, I have my coworkers there to support me. Retail isn’t a fancy job, nor is it something glamorous.

Retail can make bitter husks out of people, and I’ve seen it happen. I would like to think that I’ve gained patience, understanding of the problems those face in the service and retail world. And I enjoy it- I just have to look for those small things that make the overall experience that makes it worthwhile. Or at least, tolerable.

note: I wrote this when on four hours of sleep or so. If I sound disjointed, my apologies. I will be writing more soon.

Support The Widdershins!

Support an amazing artist. Kate Ashwin (aka, Komiyan) is an old friend from my times back in the webcomic days (I say that as if it’s a lifetime ago, but in the world of the internet, it really was). She’s a sweetheart with an amazing talent for whimsical fantasy stories that just draw you in. Widdershins is her latest creation, and she’s kickstarting the print version. She’s already 2/3rds of the way there, and I want to see her accomplish this. Support an amazing artist and her creation. It’s worth it, I promise.

My sister and Rachael Ray

My sister and I have… a less than optimistic viewpoint on the famous cook, Rachel Ray. It’s not that we hate her- it’s more like… we strongly dislike her. Her fake optimism, the whole empire she built as a cheap Martha Stewart- okay, that’s beside the point, but either way… Imagine our surprise to discover that my grandmother has a subscription to Rachael Ray Magazine. My sister, being a good “adult” per se, started to deface the magazines as they arrived at my grandma’s house. Crazy point though- my grandmother has yet to notice. There’s a stack of magazines still in her living room with this artwork. I check on them occasionally, seeing what my sister’s latest mad works look like. Here’s a small taste:

Unibrow Rachael Ray

Chola Rachael Ray (that one is my favorite)

Derp Rachael Ray

By the way, she’s in her twenties. My sister is so special.

Screenwriting and the Script Frenzy

Countless nights. Countless days. I forced myself not to play video games- only playing Battlefield 3 when friends wanted to play with me. Games that I have been looking for, like Mass Effect 3, were barely touched throughout this month. My brand new Playstation Vita was only picked up twice, only to download new applications for it. There wasn’t a day where I was writing a screenplay. I couldn’t stop myself. And it was wonderful. Script Frenzy, at least for me, is now over, with a total of…

Total Script Frenzy page count: 178 pages! Fuck yes!

178 pages. 178 pages of script. I didn’t think I would write so much, but once I started… I couldn’t stop myself. Hell, there were times I wanted to slack off, where I kept saying to myself “Okay, after this page, I’ll stop and watch a movie or something.” But the movie never came. I just continued to write, write, and write. That night, I finished one of my screenplays, writing until 3 am until it was done.

The words “The End” never felt so great, but I was eager to just go back and start editing it. At that point, I forced myself to go to bed. I had work that day at 10 am. But I didn’t care. I felt like I had accomplished something new during that time, or rather, feel that sense of accomplishment I hadn’t felt in years. I compiled all the pages I had written today- counting them up in one file. Right after I had counted it, I paused for a second, reviewing over the work I’ve done so far. And then I started writing again, pouring through my work. It felt fantastic.

I originally started to write in the sixth grade. I started writing some ridiculous screenplays back then. I still have them all- I pour through them from time to time to amuse myself, to see what I had come up with as a teenager with an overreactive imagination. Back then, one person was my biggest influence, my biggest motivator to continue writing screenplays. It was Taylor.

Taylor always cheered me on to write- back then, I mostly wrote silly comedies, things that I knew would make Taylor laugh. And I loved making him laugh- his face filled with glee as I read stories aloud to him. I remember riding along with him in his Black Mini- sitting in the passenger seat as I read hastily written scripts on lined paper. I would be watching for Taylor’s reaction- that sense of relief and joy I got when he cackled in joy, slamming his palm down on the steering wheel as he proclaimed his love for the screenplay. I could think of no other joy then that very moment. After his death, my motivation to write… dried up.

I would come up with ideas here and there, but my need to get it down on paper was nonexistent. I did write the last Script Frenzy in 2011, but even then, right after I finished, I would stop completely writing. It felt like an obligation back then. I feel like that’s gone now. I’m writing screenplays every day, even if its for only five or ten minutes. Maybe in the morning, as I’m reading my news headlines of the day, I’ll flip over to Celtx (the amount of love I’ve professed about this app is bordering on an endorsement deal. I seriously wish they would have paid me for the amount of times i’ve talked to people about the app) and start to write, or edit things. I’ve finished counting my pages for Script Frenzy, and I still want to write more. It’s no longer an obligation to write- I just want to keep writing and writing more. I love this feeling. During this month, I went to go to visit Taylor. I brought the iPad along, reading to him passages of my scripts to him. Passages he would have loved.

Reading to Taylor

I’m sure he loved it.

Script Frenzy 2012 Update #3

I didn’t write jack shit. Yeah, because I’m only 7 pages away from my goal, I decided to take the week off from writing. Used the time I did spend writing to edit some things from my scripts as well as plan ahead to see where I want to go with some of them. I’m still proud of myself to where I have gone with my screenplays. Starting tomorrow, I’ll probably continue writing. But tonight, Mass Effect 3 waits for me. I had it waiting for me until I was able to hit the goal.

Script Frenzy 2012 Update #2

Script Frenzy Update #2

I can’t think of a more apt thing to say now other than: holy fuck. I don’t know what came over me the last week. I’ve been spending every minute writing more for my ScriptFrenzy. Again, I have to hand it to Celtx for its syncing feature: whenever I could, I would pop open at least one version of the software. If I was stuck in line someplace, the iPhone version would be brought up to make some notes or quick changes. The iPad version would be brought up during breaks and lunch at work. The Mac version when I was at home. I just kept writing and writing. It was perfect. I hadn’t written a single page in the last six months. Call it writers block, call it focusing on work, but I had to do something, and this friendly competition seemed to have done the trick. And I still want to write more. I’ve been writing four feature length movies, two of which are approaching 70 pages each. I want to see how much I can do through the end of the month. Maybe I’ll finish at least one of them.

Script Frenzy 2012 Update #1

I’ve taken a break from writing to see how many pages I’d written this week so far for Script Frenzy. So far it seems a pretty 41 pages.

danielorta | Script Frenzy Update #1

I’m actually really impressed I didn’t think I was able to write so much in the course of the week, even with taking two days off from doing it. Regularly, I planned to write only 4 pages a day, but averaging 6 is completely unexpected for me. I’m almost to the halfway point already. It helps that I’m working on multiple scripts- if I get stuck on one, I quickly move on to another.

Celtx has also been my savior through this. The syncing service has been a lifesaver while moving scripts between my Mac, iPad, and iPhone. I’m now aiming to go to 120 pages by the end of April. Back to writing, I guess.