Making Some Changes, Learning From The Year

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com, Steve’s Tumblr, and Pillowfort.  Find out more at my newsletter, and all my social media at my linktr.ee)

You haven’t seen me post as much lately as things have been continuously insane for the last few weeks, and as you know, the last few months weren’t a picnic.  I try to learn from experience, and that’s applying to my projects for next year.

This last year I was constantly interrupted since August.  As you all know, I was also analyzing my new creative direction.  On top of that, the world continues to be insane.  So these are one of those moments to take a hard look at yourself.

I want to catch up.  Gotta clear the field!

MyfFirst goal is to catch up end of the year/into the next.  That means trying to blog again, get the feedback on that Agile book, launch the new Sanctum, and try to finish Way With Worlds’ next book (which might be interrupted as my Editor is busy).

Scale back to stay focused.  Don’t loose momentum, but slow down a bit so I don’t burn out.

I plan to do about 3 Way With Worlds books, but nothing else is solid book-wise for 2023.  Those are fun, aren’t onerous because I’ve got a system and they’re fascinating, and they’re what I do!  I figure it keeps my writing momentum without overdoing it (I overdid it bad in 2021-2022).  I can slow down more if needed, but I don’t want to just stop.

I want to get back to blogging regularly.  I’m going to start with once a week period, and might expand it.  But right now I just want regularity (seems to be a focus, doesn’t it?).

I will of course keep up the newsletter.  I like the personal touch I’ve cultivated here!

Try some side stuff to inspire me and leave myself space.  This will help me find inspiration and pace myself.

I’ve got various side things I do that don’t always end up here, like computer art, etc.  I’m going to be doing some experimental and outright strange stuff and see how it inspires me.  Who knows what will come of it?  Some of what I’m doing will be “prototypes” for later things you might just see . . .

This also means I’m going to play more.  I think I lost my sense of play the last year, and heck the whole covid mess didn’t help.  I wanted to stay active and focused, and managed to overdo both.  You have to take time for play.

Have a list of side projects but do “whatever.”  Make progress, but don’t pressure myself.

This ties into my experimenting.  I’ve got things like that unedited books of column, moving over Way With Worlds to new covers, etc.  I want to do these, but will more keep it “whenever” for now.  Of course with the way my mind works, one of them may end up in my plans, but I won’t force it.

Self-cultivation.  I want to take more time for exercise, self-improvement, vacations, etc.

I want to keep up and expand my self-improvement and self-care.  Take a few more vacations.  Continue to use the best techniques of mental and physical health.  Read more and diversely and expose myself to more media.  A mix of maintenance and self improvement.

Share what I learn.

I hope this inspires you as well.  Sit down after . . . well, everything . . . ask what you want to do and post about it in your blogs, Tumblr, etc.  Let’s share what we’re trying, we can learn from each other.

Steven Savage

It is Weird.  It is Art.

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com, Steve’s Tumblr, and Pillowfort.  Find out more at my newsletter, and all my social media at my linktr.ee)

If you were to ask me who are the greatest musical artists of the past 100 years, I’d first wonder why the hell you asked me.  But, as I answered, I would have to say Prince and Weird Al Yankovic.  Prince’s place is obvious – talented, a supporter of musicians, etc. – but Weird Al also fits the definition of artist.  He’s a musicologist in a jester’s outfit, a man who gets music and truly reaches you – art that makes you laugh for many different reasons.

His “biopic” Weird: The Al Yankovic Story is also art.  In fact, it’s art in the sense of James Joyce’s quote that the emotions art produces are where “The mind is arrested and raised above desire and loathing.”  Art takes you out of yourself, and this movie – also a comedy – definitely does that.

Weird is a fictionalized telling of Weird Al’s career, but that doesn’t do it justice.  It takes the all-too familiar beats that many a bad biopic shoved a real person’s life into and does it with Weird Al’s life (which is often rather tame).  The result is the movie version of one of his songs – taking one thing and making it about another.

However this is not a song, but a movie about a real person, real events, played by real people.  It’s also done with a straight face, except for a few over-the-top moments and sly lines.  The result is surreal, jarring, and funny – where familiar faces and situations appear scrambled inside an often misused story framework.  We know Weird Al didn’t have an affair with Madonna, but the film has that happen because a bad romance is a common biopic trope.

As these falsehoods occur on the screens, the actors sell it with sincerity.  Daniel Radcliffe is exceptional as Weird Al, capturing both his sweetness and going off the rails in service of the plot.  Rainn Wilson does an almost disturbingly good Doctor Demento.  Evan Rachel Wood’s life-ruining Madonna is basically one of Madonna’s old personalities brought to life.  Even when he has but one scene as Wolfman Jack, Jack Black embraces it with a passion to be both the man and the bad biopic role he fills.

It’s all very wrong, all done with a straight face.

Watching Weird is funny, but the more you know about Weird Al (and I’ve been a fan of his, especially into the 90s) the more the experience keeps taking you outside of yourself.  It’s so gloriously wrong about everything that you don’t know what will happen next.  It’s also so familiar in its use of bad biopic beats that it’s a savage mockery of tropes we’re used to.  A Fauxumentary if you will, where you’re both unsure of what is to come but completely sure you’ve seen it before.

Thus I really have to consider this art – because it keeps knocking you outside of yourself.  Is that a trope or real?  Wait why is that history out of order?  Isn’t that plot twist something every bad biopic pretends happens anyway?  How can these people say these stupid and false lines without laughing themselves silly?  Wait, aren’t a lot of these supposed real-life documentaries just this dumb?

It is perhaps the perfect film to falsely sum up Weird Al’s life as it’s, well, just like his songs.  But it’s not just appropriate or a good jab at the media.  Weird is a reminder that art doesn’t have to be staid and dignified – it can wear a Hawaiian shirt, have an affair with Madonna, and eat LSD-laced corn chips.

Steven Savage

Steve’s Update 11/13/2022

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com, Steve’s Tumblr, and Pillowfort.  Find out more at my newsletter, and all my social media at my linktr.ee)

I’m changing my updates to be more personal. You can get more at my newsletter than these summaries!

First, giveaways:

On the Way With Worlds books I’m plugging away at the “Disaster Response” book, though it’s slower because this is intense.  I still hope to have it out this year – then do three more next year.  I have no idea what the themes are, so will be coming to you!  Also I want it as further away from writing about disasters as possible, that’s been a little much for a year.

You’ll also see the Way With Worlds new covers appear in the future.  I’m debating if I do it all at once or over time.  All at once is probably best, I just have to shoehorn it between current projects.  You’ll definitely dig how the new format looks for the different themes!

As for Think Agile, Write Better, my Beta readers are also having busy lives.  I expect to get feedback around December, which means it’ll hopefully be out end of February.  I appreciate those of you who signed up, and look forward to hearing from you – there’s a lot to learn!

Seventh Sanctum as noted is just out when it’s out since I have to do some custom setup for the migration.  I’m hoping within the next few weeks – and you can see the beta here – https://www.seventhsanctumsite.com/ .  After that, we’ll see what I do with it, as I have some ideas for reusing the code for other projects.

Steven Savage