Interruptions to Overwork

I approach the end of my writing contract, and it is a conflicted feeling. On the one hand, I will have some free time again. On the other hand, I will have some free time again. I think you see where the conflict lies.

Oh, wait, perhaps you don’t. One of those was free time with money coming in and the other was without. There, that should clear things up.

In the usual storm of regular work and picking up the extra duties of the co-worker who had to go on medical leave – extra duties that multiplied as the School Board meetings he worked similarly multiplied due to the ongoing budget crunch and the Superintendent having the audacity to resign just because he got a higher-paying gig at another district – (pause for breath) and the show every weekend and blah blah blah jeez

All of this culminated in last week, when my wife was out of town and I found myself booked solid Wednesday through Saturday. Sunday I took a day off simply because I had to – I was exhausted, frazzled and half-crippled. This week is a short week, with Good Friday providing a day off – just the daytime hours, the night still belongs to Mystery Cafe – and I had to edit together two stories. That’s done, and now I can get ahead on the two stories I need to do for next week, or plan out what is becoming a troublesome section of the contract writing, or I can just sit here and blither into this oft-neglected blog.

The stuff to fill my suddenly free time has been piling up. Books and movies taunt me from their resting places. I got over 100 pages of Richard Kadrey’s Kill the Dead read during a closed session of the School Board, and that is about it for my non-comics reading this year. (Yet another reason I love comics – the episodic nature of the stories lend themselves to bursts of reading)

Speaking of bursts of reading, there’s the Twitter, and thank God there has been very little of it devoted to outstanding buys I must have lately. It’s thanks to Twitter that I own things I could not otherwise afford, like the slipcased deluxe Don Martin and Gahan Wilson collections, or that wonderful Criterion box set of BBS movies – all gotten for half-price and far below. Thanks, Twitter friends, for tipping me off to those.

There are a couple of other times that Twitter has surprised me, which probably says more about how I use and view it as opposed to how it actually works. I mean, there are people and news sources I follow; I occasionally reply to some of the people, and they reply in turn. Or they don’t, and I’m never sure if they even see my replies – but such has always been the nature of electronic communications betwixt fans and the people they follow, right? Anyway, it’s always seemed like  a fairly closed system to me.

Then comes a Tweet from a fellow I do not follow, nor, I think does he follow me – answering a question I had asked by omission, when I referred to a recurring character in Korean movie posters as “That Guy”. He helpfully provided me with the true identity of That Guy – The Red Falcon. Perhaps he saw it on my Tumblr site, I don’t know.

Then there was an acrimonious exchange I started having with a guy who took exception to my buying DVDs from Warner Archive. I, myself, love the Warner Archive for delivering up discs of movies that wouldn’t have gotten a release otherwise. Pretty, lovely discs, often re-mastered. Allowed me to finally stop trying to subject myself to that ninth-generation VHS dub of Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark I bought on the ‘Net years ago. Gorgeous, ephemeral stuff like jazz shorts from the 30 and 40s, Robert Benchley shorts, those bizarre Dogville fillers. Hanna-Barbera cartoons… for God’s sake, these people are putting out box sets of The Herculoids and Frankenstein Jr. this year. They are, therefore, saints in my book.

Then, a goodly number of saints are also martyr, so of course – because it is the Internet – Warner Archive has their detractors. People that grouse that the discs are over-priced, that they have no extras, that they’re just DVD-Rs, or as Kevin Church so eloquently boils it down, ” Waaah waaah waaah.” WAC discs generally weigh in at $19.95, and I know from experience that I am going to hand a bootlegger at a con – or over the Net – a 20 for a much sketchier version of the same thing. Hell, I paid that much for friggin’ VHS tapes of stuff I wanted to watch back in the day.

The detractors who are also economic wizards state that the discs should “only be $10”. I’d love for these people to be in charge of the pricing on my groceries and utilities also. It could be pointed out to them that if they only wait for WAC’s sales – which I do – the discs average out to $10 a pop. There’s sales tax, but generally there’s also a deal on shipping for larger shipments.

So it’s unusual, again, that a guy I don’t know starts berating me on Twitter for patronizing WAC, citing the above reasons, and he starts hammering on their recent release of a letterboxed, remastered Green Slime, wondering why I spent that money when I could have bought a “perfectly good” pan-and-scan version from a certain vendor for fifteen bucks. I looked at my gorgeous letter-boxed version and considered the “perfectly good” pan-and-scan version, and decided to use the “block” function for the first time in my Twitter life. If you’re willing to buy stuff for me, you get to say where the money goes. Otherwise, shut the fuck up.

The latest version of this was triggered by my offhand statement to a couple of my Twitter friends that the much-vaunted Free Market had apparently weighed in on the movie version of Atlas Shrugged: #14 at the box office, $1.5 million take. Someone hopped in to defend it, pointing out that Rand hated commercialism, and the movie has an 85 at Rotten Tomatoes.

Have I blocked him, also? No, everything he said was true. It has an 85% Audience reaction on RT, but a 7% on the critic side, which impresses me as system-gaming, in much the same way L. Ron Hubbard became a Best-selling Author: lots of Scientologists buying multiple copies. But it must be admitted that 1.5 million dollar take was achieved at less than 300 screens, so that’s not too shabby a showing. Be interesting to see how it does the second week.

Like I said, everything he said was true. It didn’t change my mind about Rand at all, but it was true.