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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Notaries from Underground

Zombie notaries rise from the undead in N. Noon Mismailian's $150 billion epic. Beware of Notaries from Underground. This time your fate is sealed.

Actually, I wanted to write a little bit about the advantages of being underground, advantages, at least, if you are a writer.

While mailroom workers get little if any respect from those whose lives they make easier, they also have--as a result of that lack of respect--access to offices and areas that other employees don't get. When you work in the mailroom, pushing your cart from floor to floor, you get exposed to all the backstairs gossip and petty rivalries and machinations, the triumphs and disappointments. It's akin to being a domestic in a Victorian household. You get to see everyone unclothed because they don't completely recognize your humanity.

And so, I''ve been gathering material.

Also, the class war gets thrown in your face several times a day, and so ideas for essays percolate and develop.

Finally, working underground has helped me add an element to a story I've been trying to write for the last 20 years or so. The story is called "Timon," and it is a loose updating of Shakespeare's retelling of the legend of Timon of Athens. I've tried writing it as a play and as a short story, but it hasn't turned out quite right yet. But working underground has had its effect.

In shakespeare's telling, Timon flees his financial woes by taking refuge in a cave. It took me all this time to realize that working in a mailroom could be the analogue to that. Yes. I think I'll have my modern, corporate Timon wind up in a mailroom plotting revenge.

And that has been the most salutary effect that the mailroom has had on me: The daemon has returned and I long to write. Fate is currently engineering another turn of events for me, one that might allow me to add to the family treasure while giving me time in which to write. At least, that is the hope. It means emerging from underground, but still going undercover.

One step at a time.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Further Underground

It isn't all fun and games underground. There is also a lot of hard work that gets done. For example, I have written almost 3000 words of a Drayton short story while waiting out my sentence. Yesterday, after having written myself out, I returned to one of my earliest loves, cartooning.

This kind of started the other day when my seven-year-old son was telling me about the superhero project he is working on. (It's actually almost freakishly good.) And I was telling him about how I used draw cartoons all the time, particularly when I was in junior high school. And I told him how I stopped doing it because I didn't think I drew well enough, and I explained to him how stupid I had been in stopping.

That led me to reminisce about a time in my life about 20 years ago when I had a job with a group that was part of a much larger project. About 95% of the work my group had to do was finished within two weeks of my coming aboard, but instead of the group being dibanded, we were kept on. It developed quickly into an entertainment/social group, and we spent our days jawing amongst ourselves and generally entertaining the troops. (There were about another hundred employees working on the same project in one huge room.) As part of my effort to get through each day without completely losing my mind, I started doddling on the blotter that lay on my desk.

When I finally left to enter indentured servitude as a legal assistant, my bosses boss, a guy named Wayne, asked me for those blotter sheets. I've always taken that as a compliment.

And speaking of compliments, here's the first cartoon I drew yesterday:

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Having muddled my way through that, I tried another:

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That went well enough where I thought I'd see if I could still draw one of the great characters from the blotter days, The Loch Ness Monster:

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Finally, I couldn't resist another of Nessie, a character who seems to dwell somewhere in the world of celebrity and is probably more likely to be found in Hollywood than Scotland.

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So, Wayne, wherever you are, enjoy.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

More Notes from Underground

The mailroom job threatens to continue for another three or four weeks, but that's not so bad. In some ways it's good. It's good to do physical work and this job, on occasion, gives me an opportunity to put the belly fat to good use. There's also a modicum of downtime, and I have been using the odd spare moment to draft a Drayton short story longhand. It's coming along pretty well for a first, very rough draft. I like it. Eventually, it might be worth sending out somewhere.

I've been keeping active creatively in other ways as well. I've decided to turn both "The Quality of Marcy" and "Plant Your Wagon" into stage plays, which I am accomplishing by changing them from radio script format to playscript format. Other than that, changes have been minimal. It's easy work, for the most part, something I can do a bit of before bed at night. "Marcy" is now done, and the two episodes of radio script have been combined into one short, intermission-free play.

"Plant Your Wagon" is about halfway done, each episode falling conveniently into a corresponding act. I'm also almost done with a demo of the songs in it featuring me croaking out the lyrics to the accompaniment of my equally wretched guitar playing. Copies will be available on request, but not on compunction.