3 Things that are Going On: a Mid-Month Update

So far, my decision to keep this blog updated and refreshed with “content” has seemed to be a good one. I’ve more or less held to my schedule (despite having not posted at all last week) and I have made some decent progress on a few projects.

So what’s going on?

  1. I am frustratingly close to the end of my novel’s first draft. The last chapter, it seems, is the most difficult to write. I suppose that’s what happens when you get to the end of your outline and realize that the ending you had in mind is, well, lame. So it goes. I’ve got the thing figured out and am confident that the changes I’m making are to the benefit of the larger work. That said, once I’ve squeezed the conclusion of the first draft out of my brain, I’ll have to begin revising so that it will make sense to anyone but myself. I think it was Stephen King who said that first drafts are never to be read by anyone but the author. If it was, he was right on.
  2. I’m playing around with writing more nonfiction. Essays, reviews, that sort of thing. It’s not something I generally do a lot of (outside of school, that is) and a blog feels like the right platform for that sort of thing. Just an occasionally examination of whatever is on my mind at the time. It’s fun and, if nothing else, it will keep me in the habit of exercising my writing muscles.
  3. Lastly, and not really writing related, I’m trying to quitting smoking. barely 24 hours have elapsed since my last cigarette but I’m already noticing some changes. First of all, I don’t have cigarettes breaks to distract me away from writing. Just last night, instead of sitting on the back porch and chain-smoking until 1am, I wrote a solid 1300 words or so of my novel. It hadn’t occurred to me how much as I’d been leaning on cigarettes as a means of procrastination! Second, I got a decent night’s sleep and woke up before my wife. Maybe it’s a coincidence, but I’ll take it. Third, and most noticeable, I didn’t start the day by hacking a huge blob of phlegm into the bathroom sink. Sure it’s gross, so is smoking though.

In conclusion, I’m writing stuff. Be safe out there kids and be nice.


I had become jaded without even realizing it. Gone were the days of digging up bizarre old movies and being in awe as I experienced their fantastic worlds. I’d cut my teeth on films like Fantastic Planet and Jason and the Argonauts. This tendency to think I’ve “seen it all” is, I fear, a sign that I have gotten old. But then, I saw Blood Tea and Red String.

A bird-person embarking on a grand adventure.

Directed by Christine Cegavske and released in 2006, Blood Tea and Red String is a somber stop motion fantasy that leaves one wondering what Lewis Carrol and Jan Švankmajer might have accomplished together. The film’s main plot is centered around a group of birdlike humanoids travelling far from home, in search of a doll. The doll is made by the bird-people at the request of a group of aristocratic white mice. But upon the doll’s creation, the bird-people form a bond with it and return the mice’s money. The mice, of course, steal the doll (along with an egg which was sewn inside of it by the bird-people). They take it to their home where they indulge themselves over cup after cup of blood tea. What follows is a proverbial ‘tug-of-war’ as the two parties fight over the doll. Obstacles arise along their path as they meet a powerful frog wizard and later, a giant spider.

Blood Tea and Red String is a mesmerizing adventure story that walks the fine line between James and the Giant Peach and Eraserhead without ever leaning too far in either direction. It is a complex web of contradiction and visual incongruity. Perfectly balanced, Christine Cegavske’s film is equal parts fun dreamy fantasy and surreal gothic nightmare. It’s aesthetic and atmosphere are so distinct, so carefully and deliberately considered. One might assume that the person for whom Blood Tea and Red String was made might be Cergavske herself because this is a clear labor of love.