Archive for September, 2013

28
Sep
13

Blake’s Weekly(ish) Update

It’s been a few weeks since my last “weekly” update, hasn’t it, guys? Sorry about that, it’s been a rough couple of weeks. But here’s a roundup of everything I’ve put out in the universe for you guys since the last time I did a recap.

24
Sep
13

I Am Ted Mosby (or) Why How I Met Your Mother needed a ninth season

HIMYM9“You’re not a Ted,” my fiance, Erin, told me Monday night. “You’re more of a Marshall, with a little Barney mixed in.”

She means this as a compliment, of course, and I take it as such, but that doesn’t mean I necessarily agree. She goes on to explain that, over the course of the eight years we’ve known him, How I Met Your Mother‘s Ted Mosby has been a jerk several times — spending years pining over a girl that has made it clear she does not feel the same way, making a complete ass of himself in the pursuit of others, often neglecting his friends or even turning on them in the process, and most noticeably, whining, whining, whining… Oh sure, as HIMYM viewers we’re still rooting for him, but like a lot of shows, the ostensible protagonist of How I Met Your Mother is often the least interesting character.

And she’s right, she’s right about all of this. But even though Erin knows me better than anyone in the world, the truth is, she has only ever known me as part of a couple. She knows the Blake that is complete because of her presence, not the one who spent years feeling empty for the lack thereof. Like Ted, I often deluded myself about the chances of success with whoever I was infatuated with at the time. Like Ted I could be whiny, even obnoxious. Fortunately for me, like Ted, I have a group of heroically loyal and supportive friends who never abandoned me no matter how bad I got. (Thanks guys… sorry about that.)

Erin says I’m a Marshall, and that may well be true… now. But what she has never seen is that Blake minus Erin equals Ted.

And it is because of this, I think, that I remain steadfast in my enthusiasm to finally see Ted Mosby find the Mother of his children.

Last night began the ninth and final season of How I Met Your Mother, and from the outset it is clear this will be very different from the previous eight. First of all, the entire season is going to be set during the three days of Robin and Barney’s wedding weekend… the “present day” timeframe, at any rate. The show has always played fast and loose with time, allowing for flashbacks and flashforwards at will to let us glimpse the lives of our heroes as a puzzle being put together one piece at a time. Still, by condensing the entire “present” into a 56-hour period, the show has a sense of urgency that’s rare in a sitcom.

Of greater importance, though, is the fact that the series, for the first time since its inception, has made an addition to the regular cast: Cristin Milioti as the still-unnamed Mother. We glimpsed her for the first time in the closing moments of season eight, and she’s signed as a series regular for season nine. This is vital to the new show we have this year. While the first eight seasons were ultimately about Ted, season nine must be about Her.

When it was announced that HIMYM would get a ninth season, halfway through an eighth most people (myself included) assumed would be the final lap, the question arose: why are they making a ninth season  at all? Season eight brought us right to the brink of Ted meeting the mother. Why not just work it into a massive wedding finale and be done with it? What is season nine going to give us that we couldn’t have had otherwise?

Last night, we got our answer. The first half of the episode showed the Mother’s initial encounter with one of Ted’s group when she bonded with Lily on their train ride to Farhampton. We saw the chemistry she had with someone we already loved and learned a few things about her that start to paint the picture of a woman tailor-made for Ted Mosby. In the second half, a show that is already famous for how it plays with time found a new way to do it, overlaying a scene of a solitary “present-day” Ted with a flashforward of him with the Mother one year into the future. The contrast is striking — a quiet, lonely man trying to convince himself he’s not any of those particular adjectives, compared to the same man just one year later, complete, joyful, and whole perhaps for the first time in the show’s history.

The experience of watching it, I imagine, is not unlike that of one of my friends who saw me before and after I met Erin.

When you start dating someone, there is always a process of “selling” them to your friends and family. With Erin it was an easy sell, because she’s awesome and my friends are not stupid, but the process is there nonetheless. You show how great the person is, how lucky you feel and — most satisfying to those who care about you — how happy you are together. That’s the prize for those friends who stood with you through the lonely years: the joy on your face when those years are over. But how do you do that when the implied ending of the show, from the outset, is meeting Her, before we actually get to the payoff?

And that, my friends, is what we need the ninth season for. It’s to sell us on Her. The show will almost certainly end with Ted meeting Her at that fateful train station, but we need to somehow see the aftermath, the scenes of a broken man finally put back together, that happiness that we’ve waited on for such a long time. Through a mixture of Her interaction with the rest of the cast and glimpses and allusions to the future Ted and the Mother will have together, the ninth season is here to prove to us that She has been worth the wait.

And judging just from the few scenes we’ve glimpsed of the Mother so far (Cristin Miglioti is flawlessly charming, sweet, and as dorky as Ted in all the right ways), I feel like we’re going to be sold pretty easily.

In a way, I’m upset to see it end. This is without a doubt the most heartfelt, emotionally sincere television comedy on the air, and while there are other shows I like, there is nothing else on right now that makes me feel for, care about, and root for the characters the way How I Met Your Mother has done for so long. After the final scenes, the final flashforward, the final lonesome moment of Ted Mosby’s life has come and gone, there will be a gaping hole in the television landscape. Something will eventually come along to fill the gap, something always does, but to take the place of this show is going to take something… well, there’s only one word for it… legendary.

21
Sep
13

An open letter to Apple Computers…

Hey, Apple. Nice to talk to you guys again, I know it’s been a while. But hey, you’ve been busy. iOS7, iTunes 11.1… those things aren’t going to release themselves, right? And as an iPhone and iPod user, I waited for these updates and downloaded them dutifully. And hey, Kudos on iOS7! It looks a little different, it’s going to take a little getting used to, but for the most part, it’s a good little system. I’ve got no complaints about it.

Then there’s iTunes.

Jesus tap dancing Christ.

Let me preface this by explaining the reason I use an iPhone — the only reason I use an iPhone rather than looking into the many, many Android devices now available… is because I’ve used iPods for years. It’s because I’m very familiar with the iTunes system, and because I’ve already got so much content in iTunes (including music, videos and apps) that I didn’t want to have to re-buy or risk losing tons of material by switching to a different system. So I went with the iPhone, although I still use my iPod Touch for most of my basic “listening to stuff” purposes, including music and — most importantly to me — podcasts.

Aside from the expected minor changes — wholly unnecessary, but tolerable — that come with an “update,” iTunes 11.1 has made listening to the podcasts I want to listen to (which, I emphasize, is among the primary reasons I own even one of your devices) virtually impossible.

Upon installing the “update” (I’m really tired of putting that in quotation marks, but to pretend that anything about this new system is somehow an advancement goes against my deeply-held belief in journalistic accuracy), I checked my podcast directory to find that literally hundreds of episodes had simply vanished. Episodes I’ve never listened to, episodes I listened to but wanted to keep rather than delete… simply gone. I managed to find some of them still in the hard drive on my computer, but a great many of them had vanished into the ether. Frustrated, I began to re-download the missing episodes.

It was then that I began to notice that, in addition to the missing episodes, iTunes 11.1 had somehow decided to unsubscribe me from the vast majority of my shows. The Flop House? Gone. The Nerdist Writer Panel? AWOL. Welcome to Night Vale? Vamanos.

I want to repeat that here — your program unsubscribed me from Welcome to Night Vale. In and of itself, that would be grounds for divorce.

Anyway, I went on to resubscribe to those missing podcasts and re-download those missing episodes as well, a process which (I’m sure you can imagine) took several hours. As those hours progressed I would periodically check back to see the number of podcasts I had not listened to (at least, not since re-downloading them) slowly grow. Until a few hours later, when it spontaneously dropped back to what it was after the Great Unwelcome Purge of 2013. With a little experimentation, I realized that this deletion was re-occurring every time iTunes checked for new podcasts, which I had the program set to do hourly. It would also do it again when the program started.

I’m starting to get tired of your shit, iTunes.

But I disabled the automatic updates to see if I could at least control the rate of attrition, even attempted to play around with it using the Podcast app on my iPod itself. (The app, by the way, in and of itself is an absolute mess… can you explain to me why it shows not just the episodes that are on the device but also dozens of phantom episodes that exist out there in “the cloud” and therefore are utterly useless to me when I’m driving in my car, where I do 99 percent of my listening? Or why, when an episode ends, the app tries to look for this phantom episode that’s not on the device and then freezes for 10 to 30 seconds while a “Playback failed” notification appears? Or even why the HELL the app doesn’t put the podcasts in simple alphabetical order, rather than the bizarrely random amalgamation that it seems to choose each time I open it up?)

This made no difference. If anything, it made it worse: the next time I synched my iPod to my computer it not only spontaneously deleted all of the episodes (again), but it also deleted the podcasts I’d listened to on my iPod since the last time I synched it, then began to spontaneously re-download those same episodes and mark them as new.

What.

The.

Crap.

Question mark.

Now look, I don’t pretend to be any sort of computer genius. Although I have spent several hours at this point tampering with the iTunes settings and preferences, it’s entirely possible there’s some simple button I can click to make all of these problems go away (probably labelled “stop your iTunes from sucking”), and I simply don’t know where to find it. Unfortunately, there hasn’t really been any way to get help in this instance either, as I’ve sent several “feedback” notifications through iTunes — all of which prominently warn me not to actually expect a response — and any attempt to solicit help on the Apple message boards merely has me collide with a group of Macintosh sycophants who refuse to admit their beloved software could possibly have any sort of flaw and therefore it must be my fault that the damn thing doesn’t work right. (As I’ve already admitted, I’m fully prepared to accept that I may be doing something wrong, but if you refuse to tell me what that wrong thing is, how the hell am I supposed to fix it?)

So here’s the deal, Apple… you’ve got until my next paycheck to solve this problem. If I’m still utterly unable to listen to any of the things I want to listen to, I’ll be in the market for a new MP3 player — I’m sniffing around on Amazon.com right now and they’ve got lots of dandy options, some as cheap as $30. And I will use that exclusively for my music and podcasts from now on. Then, when my phone contract comes up and it’s time to look for a new device, I’ll get… oh, I don’t know exactly what yet, it’s far too early to decide such a thing… for now, let’s just call it “something without a lowercase ‘i’ at the beginning of its name.” And then we’ll be done.

Do we understand each other?

Good.

Oh, but I LOVE how you can just pull up simple functions like “do not disturb” and the camera on iOS7 just by sliding up from the bottom of the screen. Good call on that one.

15
Sep
13

The Pyrite War — now digitally AND in print!

You asked, friends, and I answered. BESTSELLERMy new novel The Pyrite War, a #1 bestseller on Amazon.com*, is now available in print! The print edition has all the same text as the eBook, along with the following features:

  • Paper
  • Wireless transfer from the page to the reader’s eyes
  • Fully resistant to electrical surges and electromagnetic pulses
  • A photograph of the author on the back cover attempting to look all dark and brooding

And much more! So if you’ve been waiting to read The Pyrite War in print, it’s now available at Amazon.com!

For the rest of you weirdos with your “e-readers” and your “fiber optic cables” and your “macrobiotic diets,” there are two ways to get your fix, with more on the way. If you’ve got an Amazon Kindle or any device with a Kindle app, it’s available in the Kindle Store. If you’ve got a Nook, a Kobo, or any of those other readers, you can buy the book at Smashwords.com in a variety of electronic formats! Basically, you can bring the book to you in any form other than carrier pigeon, and I’m working on that as soon as I can figure out how many of them it takes to carry a Kindle tied to their ankles.

Spread the word! The Pyrite War is well and truly here!

*-For a very brief period of time in a ridiculously specific category that it doesn’t, technically, belong in.

10
Sep
13

The Countdown Is Over! The Pyrite War is here!

PyriteWar_v2I hope you’ve enjoyed the past 12 days of glimpses at the characters in my newest novel, The Pyrite War. This is a story that’s long in the making and one that I’m particularly proud of now that it’s here. As the newest tale of Siegel City, the first novel-length Siegel City story since Other People’s Heroes, it’s something I know people have been waiting for.

Set in Siegel City’s Golden Age, The Pyrite War is the story of David Ruston, a father, husband, and brother, who lives in a world where there is only one superhero — the omnipowerful Guardian M. David’s brother, Gabriel, discovers a power of his own and decides to emulate his city’s hero, but something goes terribly wrong. Without any Gifts to defend himself, David is drawn into a hunt for the truth about what happened to Gabriel and for what’s really going on with his city’s defenders.

Because you see, friends, in Siegel City, nothing has ever been what it seemed… not even in a Golden Age.

The eBook edition of The Pyrite War is currently available from Amazon.com for $3.99 — that’s 314 pages of action, thrills, and surprises. Have a different eReader? No problem! Smashwords.com has it too, in ePub, mobi, PDF and several other electronic formats. Still not good enough? Soon, the book will crack into the Barnes & Noble Nook store and the iPad bookstore (I’ll let you know when those are available). And are you one of those fine, old-fashioned folk who prefer your books on paper? That, too, will be an option in a matter of days. Keep checking this blog or my Facebook page for updates.

So you’ve bought The Pyrite War. You’ve read it. You’ve consumed it. You loved it. What can you do next? Well, the obvious answer is to bounce to my now available page and snare any of my other work that you’ve somehow missed. But come on, who are we kidding here? You’re a true blue Evernaut, right? You’ve already read all this stuff!

In that case, friends, the best thing you can do for me is to write a review. Post it at Amazon, Smashwords, wherever you bought the book. And don’t forget to add your review and ratings to this book (and my others) over at Goodreads as well. And heck, while you’re on Goodreads anyway, follow my author page or send me a friend request.

I write because I love it, friends, but I need your help to make a bigger splash. Each time you buy a book, each time you share a link, each time you post a review, it helps raise my profile and it helps more copies of my work make their way into the ether. And when you’re doing this all by yourself, like I am, you need all the help you can get. Thanks.

10
Sep
13

Countdown to THE PYRITE WAR #1: Nightshadow I

Nightshadow INIGHTSHADOW (I)

Powers: Unknown. Although there are no records of Nightshadow using any measurable metahuman abilities, the extent of his activities leads many historians to speculate he had a number of powers he kept hidden from the general populace.

First Appearance: The Pyrite War

Notes from the Simon Tower Archive: Mister Mysteriouso himself. The first man to use the Nightshadow name has remained a complete enigma even today. I asked the current Nightshadow about him once, and all he would tell me is, “If you’re not in the suit, Josh, you don’t need to know.” There must have been something about this guy, though. He started the first superhero legacy.

–Annotations by Josh Corwood.

PyriteWar_v2In 1939 Siegel City only had one superhero, the world’s first. When he discovered his powers, Gabriel Ruston thought he would be the second, but died on his first excursion in costume.

After Gabriel’s death, his brother David is drawn into an investigation. What if Gabriel wasn’t the second? What if there were others? What if something tragic happened to all of them?

In Siegel City, nothing is ever what it seems… even in a Golden Age.

THE PYRITE WAR BEGINS TODAY.

09
Sep
13

Countdown to THE PYRITE WAR #2: Guardian M

Guardian MGUARDIAN M

Powers: Guardian M’s powers were numerous and varied. He was known to possess the abilities of flight, super-strength, invulnerability, enhanced senses and a number of other powers, with more being added seemingly regularly for the duration of his active time in Siegel City.

First Appearance: The Pyrite War

Notes from the Simon Tower Archive: There he is, Mr. America. The first superhero in the world, the guy everyone else has aspired to be ever since. It’s still amazing to me, all these years later, that no one has ever found out his secret identity, or for that matter, what really happened to him in the end. All I know is that even Lionheart admired this guy, and that sure as hell means he’s someone I’m going to look to for inspiration.

–Annotations by Josh Corwood.

PyriteWar_v2In 1939 Siegel City only had one superhero, the world’s first. When he discovered his powers, Gabriel Ruston thought he would be the second, but died on his first excursion in costume.

After Gabriel’s death, his brother David is drawn into an investigation. What if Gabriel wasn’t the second? What if there were others? What if something tragic happened to all of them?

In Siegel City, nothing is ever what it seems… even in a Golden Age.

THE PYRITE WAR launches on September 10, 2013. Prepare for battle.




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