A Friend’s Perspective On Being An Artist

When I was back on the east coast, Patrick and I used to read stories to each other. They were never stories written by other people. They were our own tales set in lands we controlled with characters we fashioned and honed. I can recall evenings where we would sit on his back porch, absorb the starlight, and talk about our characters/worlds and discuss possibilities.

I remember Patrick talking fondly about this man whose life was fraught with challenges. His name is one that very few have heard as of this minute, but hopefully that will change.

When Patrick posted this to Facebook, I wanted to share it with everyone I possibly could. Please… Spread this like wildfire. We, after all, are the media.



“It takes a special kind of courage to be an artist.

A courage that sees you working in the dark, separated from the world by an invisible barrier that is at once as ephemeral as shadow and deep as the chasm between worlds.

I know what you may think of me, and people like me. I know what you may think of the under-fed over-bearded guy standing on the sidewalk strumming his six-string for pocket change. I expect you wonder when he’ll get a real job. I expect you wonder when I will.

Working a real job, particularly a job you really don’t like isn’t something one ought necessarily be proud of, says this guy. Doesn’t take much courage to surrender to idolatry of consumerism – two weeks of vacations a year, two car garages, black Friday shopping extravaganzas, and quadruple bypasses.

What takes courage is holding that small and proud dream, a tiny seed of hope you pray may one day flower, in your hand for years, willing it to grow while you try to manage the daily affairs of the rest of your life with your one unencumbered hand.

I’ll tell you something – I don’t want to be the one of the millions punching the clock and keeping his head down, never asking questions, never looking up, never realizing there’s an Universe full of the kind of stupefying wonder that can cement the most weakened of resolves, glue together the most broken of hearts. And to paraphrase John Lennon, I’ve got a feeling that I’m not the only one.

Perhaps you’ve dared to look in the deep mysteries of the world and wondered. Perhaps you’ve dared to look in black and unrealized reaches of the human psyche. Perhaps you’ve felt the invisible teeth of a nameless fear in the bloom night, and perhaps you feel that an answer awaits you somewhere down a road you could never quite find.

Well, I don’t pretend to have answers for you, dear compatriot. I’m a writer. It’s not my job to answer questions but to ask them.

But I know a guy that’s walked a bit down that road. His name is Elias Duana. I found him on his knees, half dead and half crazed, outside a ruined house in Tennessee. He looked more spectre than man. Still, I followed this ghost, and I’ve told his story.

I know what you may think of me, but perhaps it’s time that you see what I’m made of. You judge where I belong on a bookshelf, or if I belong in the trash bucket. I won’t take offense either way, for if you choose the latter you will be in good company. Fifty rejection letters might agree with you, so my skin has thickened enough to risk it. I’m ready for the Pepsi challenge because I’m pretty damn well sure that I can best 50 Shades of Grey and Twilight on an even field of battle.

I keep those fifty rejection letters in my bedside nightstand and I look at them every night before I go to bed. I feel the weight of them press into my hand. Sometimes I roll them into a scroll, or shuffle them, or worry them with my hands. But I never fold them or dare to endeavor to tear them even little. I want them to keep well, you see. When I’ve crested the proverbial hill I want to remember all of the times I fell on my journey, dusted myself off, and got back up.

As I perform my nightly ritual with all the gravity of a religious ceremony I often think of one my favorite poems in which E. E. Cummings asks, what happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun…or, does it explode?

You tell me. It’ll only cost you a measly three bucks to find out. Book two will cost you four. What can I say, I’m optimistic.

Patrick Siana


Find The Empyrean Chronicle on Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble Nook
Book I – Reckoning Buy now on Kindle! Buy now on Nook! (link pending)
Book II – Empyrean Chronicle Buy now on Kindle! Buy now on Nook! (link pending)

Podcast Overload?

Earlier I did a search on the Internet asking the simple question “How many podcasts are there?” It then told me that a related search was “How many pokemon are there.” I could make a joke about catching them all, but that seems obvious.

However … There are so many friggin podcasts out there, how do you know which ones to listen to?

Podcasting, in essence, is a lot like a John Hughes movie. There are a multitude of categories, but often you overlook a really good opportunity because you judge the podcast by the stereotype you perceive. Joe Rogan’s a comedian, but maybe you balk from his podcast because you think he may be a total bro. Nerdist is three comedians, but maybe you shy away from it because you think that the entire content will be so… well… nerdy… you shy away from the Subscribe button. Neil Degrasse Tyson does Star Talk, and maybe you don’t listen to it because you worry he’ll talk science in a way you don’t understand.

Yep. I have about fourteen friends online that all have podcasts (maybe more). While I have listened to all of them, some of them I fail to return to. Instead I do my friendly duty of downloading the episode and let it sit.

It’s gotten to the point where I have ended up also doing that to podcasts that are popular. It’s not that I don’t want to hear them, it’s just that there are so many of them downloading into my computer on a weekly basis I fail to have the time to listen. After awhile I look at the podcast section of my iTunes and feel terrible. Little blue dots decorate the page and an unhelpful and anxiety-inducing grey circle with white numbers tells me that I am currently sitting on 1493 unlistened to podcasts.

While it’s not something that should worry me, it does. Because every podcast I subscribe to I have enjoyed at some point or another. Yes, there are episodes of each one that fail to keep my attention, but I know that I like the hosts enough to give it a change. Then I realize that many of the popular podcasts that I listen to have episodes dropping multiple times during the week.

There are days that I don’t even touch my computer at home. I’m busy editing things, or playing video games, or marathoning Twin Peaks on Netflix. But when I’m at work, I’m in an office where no one else is there to entertain me. A lot of my work is data entry, so it doesn’t require my full attention.

… as I reread this, I have realized that this was probably a shitty way to let you all know that I have a podcast and that there are some podcasts that you might not know…

Here are the podcasts that I have on my iPhone right now. (and since I’m writing them, I think I’ll pull these mini reviews and add to their iTunes rating). I cannot get a link to the iTunes pages (because my phone doesn’t like that and instead just pulls up the show).
Here’s how you subscribe:
1. Open iTunes
2. in the left navigational bar, click on the bar labeled “Store”
3. In the search bar on the top right, type in the name of the podcast and click the magnifying glass
4. Of the returned results, look for the podcast.
5. Under/Next to it there is the option to “Subscribe Free”
6. Click on that. Podcasts will download into the section of your iTunes Library (left navigational bar) that says… wait for it… PODCASTS.
7. Listen to it.
* This is all incredibly simple and once you get the hang of it, you’ll be searching for new podcasts.

A Pointless Endeavor – the first episode of a new podcast (that went live today) by my buddy Chris (Coleman. You know. That guy that flew to Boston for a Chris Hardwick show that left with several dozen new friends.) and two of his friends. I haven’t actually listened to it yet, but I’ve heard a few clips and they made me pee. And I feel happy when I pee. So… Feel happy. Pee. I mean… listen.
Website Link

Sketchy – a podcast with three of my friends that I made during the nerd weekend in Boston. I might be a guest in the not so distant future… Ryan, Matt and Rich tackle a different cartoon each week (be it a movie or a TV series). They watch it prior to recording and talk about it. One of my favorite episodes so far was the one where they spoke about “Rock-a-doodle” and adopted one of the most hysterical vocal inflections completely out of the blue.
Website Link

Ten Minute Podcast – Will Sasso, Chris D’Elia and Brian Callum get together and talk for ten minutes. It is amazing how funny ten minutes can actually be.
Website Link

TOFOP – Wil Anderson and Charlie Clausen chat about time travel, Batman, and prison rape… Two out of three ain’t bad. It’s always funny when one decides to act out scenarios (not prison rape) or when they crack each other up.
Website Link

Walking the Room – Dave Anthony and Greg Behrendt walk into a closet. Nope… Not a joke (although the dimensions of Greg’s closet rival that of a $1500/mo apartment in NYC). What then happens is good-natured filth. When I listen to the banter between them, I am reminded of the way my friends and I talk. There can always be something funny about the macabre, that dickhead at work, the neighbors that have intentionally loud sex… that and more is brought into the closet and it makes me so happy that every Monday I have it to listen to.
Website Link

Aaaaaand finally… Well… I have a podcast now. The second episode went up today. I have started a podcast called “Memoirs of a Gamer”. It may sound misleading, but it is not just about video games and tabletop roleplaying games. As of right now I have seven episodes total (5 scheduled for the next five Mondays) and they cover the following topics – Volleyball, Apples to Apples, Red Dead Redemption, Drinking Games, and D&D (specifically about a character someone has played and his experience also as a Dungeon Master)
Because I actually emailed the link to myself, the iTunes link is http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/memoirs-of-a-gamer/id510427325
Here’s the Website Link

Unfortunately, because I’m saving money for my move this summer, I can’t actually afford a logo for it. There WILL be one, but I just need some money first (and podcasting doesn’t pay)

Two Parter Blog: 1. Amazon Hates Connecticut. 2. Link link link link

I’ve been worrying about moving and now that I’ve completely changed my plan money has been on my brain. I’ve decided that I’m going to get rid of as much as I can here and then just get some IKEA stuff when I get there. So I thought about it and decided “hey, amazon has this associates program where they cut you a percentage for a referral”. I got excited and tried to sign up for it when I got this lovely notice:


So not only did I wait too long to do that, I cannot take part in it because I live in Connecticut. Well… You know what?

If you’d like to toss a couple sheckles my way I have an amazon gift card wishlist and you can always paypal a few dollars my way (to the email “cranialspasm @ gmail . com”. Every little bit helps!


(By the way, I feel like a complete asshole for posting this. I don’t like asking for things. It’s a stupid pride issue.)


Anyways, here’s a list of a few things I have done recently away from this site (just in case you didn’t know).

As always, I’m on Lions, Dragons & Wolves. This past episode was about humor and what makes us laugh. So (of course) TK decided to tell us exactly why nothing is funny. If you have never listened to the podcast before, I would suggest not starting with this one. I’d suggest 008 LDW Autumncast: Invade Poland (because I get assigned the coolest Muppet totem ever).

I connected with Seth Wright (my buddy that has a podcast Tales from the Attic) via Skype one weekend. We chatted for close to two hours (which is so weird for me as I don’t talk for that long typically) and as we chatted he invited me to record a segment for episode 46 of his podcast. It was a bunch of fun and I’m hoping that I get to do it again!

Other Blogs!
Nerds in Babeland – About a month ago I wrote a post about a card game called Dominion that my family is currently obsessed with (and that I will probably buy AFTER I move so I don’t end up having packing issues). For a list of all of my posts, here’s my contributor feed.

Record Club – Record Club is actually hosted through my website, but it’s a different feed. You should definitely check it out though! An album is chosen and the record clubbers listen at work and write up reviews. Because the back catalog was so huge, my reviews haven’t started yet but I have put a lot of work into the site and I think you’d enjoy the opinions from the funny people in the Record Club.

I have been playing my ukulele a lot and I WROTE AN ORIGINAL SONG! I also covered Eddie Money, recorded two Beatles songs around Valentines Day, and revisited one of  the first songs I learned a few years ago (MGMT Redux FTW!).

Things I’m Loving At the Moment
So many friends of mine have started podcasting now (and I’m contemplating starting one myself because these assholes haven’t invited me to be on theirs…) Two that have made me giggle are:
Midseason Replacements – In this podcast, they pick a random episode from a random show and then they proceed to make fun of it for an hour. It’s been pretty damn funny because the episodes are only about 22 minutes and these guys play off of each other so well. Also? They had me at Hot Sundae.
*TANGENT* I originally wanted to find the original “Go For It” music video, but I could just find a shaky handed Android taping of a TBS rebroadcast of the episode. Then… I found this…

So yeah, that has nothing to do with the Tuxedo Man Children (who have a hysterical blog to boot), but you should completely subscribe to their iTunes feed!

The Bloggess – Jenny Lawson has finished her book and recorded her audio book, and now she has taken to creating taxidermied memes on her website. I actually joined in on the fun.

Toggle the Switch – An Australian and an American decide to do a podcast. What results is a bunch of talk about poop. I mean… Laugh-because-you’re-a-little-uncomfortable-about-the-conversation style talk about poop. These two amazing people are friends of mine that I met through a podcast (Walking the Room) and decided to do their own podcast.

Ten Minute Podcast – Chris D’Elia, Will Sasso, and Brian Callum give you exactly what the title promises. Ten minutes. I listened to it for the first time at work and laughed so hard I was asked to go outside to calm down. Subscribe. It’s hysterical. Also? Kinda crushing on Chris D’Elia now (in a “this dude is funny as shit” type of way).

A Couple of Cunts in the Countryside – A newer Youtube channel from two guys in the UK. It cracks me up.

Put away the camera, moron. This isn’t a recital.

Why would you want to look through something so tiny when you have ALL THE THINGS behind it?

I realize that this back and forth banter has been played to death for the past 26 hours, but I wanted to weigh in as a fan of going to live comedy shows.

Just to give you a little bit of background, last night Patton Oswalt RT’d a very negative blog about one of his free performances and his perceived attitude about being filmed while working out new material. He posted a reply this morning that told his side of the story.


As a performer:


No, I’m not famous. I have had my share of time on stage and love doing it because of the amazing feeling of terror mixed with elation. It is the biggest adrenaline rush to step unto an elevated, illuminated area meant to pull people’s attention to you. It is absolutely envigorating to HEAR a person’s response or SEE a grin or shaking shoulders through the dimly lit crowd. THAT is encouraging.


Seeing a jarring flash or a red light is distracting. When someone is on stage, they aren’t just winging the entire thing. Yes, there can be moments of tangents, but for the most part, jokes are worked on outside of a venue and honed on the stage. When they hit that joke and feel the rush that comes with the flush of adrenaline it is a glorious thing. If adrenaline had a voice it would be whispering sexily “Yes. Yes, that is how I’m going to perform that part from now on.” Each time the bit is performed, the words adjust and new jolts pass over the performer.


The benefit of doing live shows that are not being recorded is that it is okay to have a moment where you tank. The brain of a performer takes that into account like a chef would take a slight taste of something, realized it needed more sugar and adjusted accordingly. Having material recorded can be incredibly nerve-wracking. The only thing that helps is knowing EXACTLY how you’re performing something and having a professional tape it.






Here is how I see it as a viewer:


I was not at the performance, but I would like to speak for many people that go to comedy shows and are forced to witness shit like this. Let me just come out and say it.


People? Put your fucking cellphones away.


While you think that you are getting something amazing to look at later or you have the morbid desire to set a performer off and get some great material to hopefully send to a stupid fucking tabloid, there are tons of people behind you. We are trying to enjoy the show that is feet from us but we’re being distracted by the glow from your stupid iPhone with the hipster cover that looks like a cassette tape with a mustache on it.


You spend your entire day with your eyes focused on the display of your phone, watching amateur videos with poor sound and people singing in the background to some band I can’t even be bothered to think of right now.


But hey there little trooper, guess what? You are ACTUALLY at a show! Put your camera/phone away and just ENJOY it. The memory of the performance will be so much better when you can actually watch it. Looking through a tiny frame is just ridiculous.





As for Patton’s reaction:


Patton could’ve called the woman a daft hairy cow’s cunt and I would still agree with his position. Being at a live comedy show and watching it through your shitty iPhone instead of being in the moment is fucking stupid. The fact that the women “offered to stop and delete it” shouldn’t have even happened to begin with.


If I ever have a comedy club, I fucking promise any performer that as soon as a screen lights up in the crowd that person will be asked to leave. Think Alamo drafthouse, but we’ll turn the house lights up so EVERYONE can see who is interrupting the performance. Would the Met allow you to film La Traviata? You might think that it’s a different level of performance, and that makes you an elitist asshole.






There were hundreds of replies in varying opinions. People claimed that Patton’s behavior was inappropriate and should have stopped after the woman acquiesced and stopped filming.


Why? Patton was being human. Being human may not excuse bad behavior, but it does explain it.


As a general audience, people tend to forget that those we admire also have the same ability to react to situations that we do. Granted, I have never seen Oswalt tweet “No black and white cookies at the bakery, FML!” so he tends to keep a lot of his emotions from the internet. With the ability to immediately tweet something terrible or write an elaborate blog post about how a night was uncomfortable for you because it was horrible for someone else, I think that the restraint that a lot of comedians possess is admirable.






Wow. I haven’t ranted in awhile. Missed it.



A few days ago, I have been worrying about all of my finances and worrying about getting enough money to move when I thought I had been given a godsend by CNBC. A few people that I follow on Twitter posted a link to this site, a site called http://www.cnbc.com-article.it/u/?t=27852 (DO NOT GO TO THE SITE UNLESS YOU WANT TO READ LIES).

Here is the screenshot of the page you get.

Unfortunately, what it doesn’t mention is the fact that the site is not owned by CNBC. The end of the link is .it, not .com (due to the tricky hyphenation after the “cnbc.com” ).

When I first clicked on the link, I was in Suffield and it told me the woman was from Suffield. It got me to enter my email address then immediately told me that I was lucky because there were two opportunities left there. I was looking on my phone so I figured I’d email the link to myself and check it later.

I am currently enjoying a late lunch in Windsor Locks and decided to click on the link again. It then reminded me that there were two opportunities in Windsor Locks (without me entering my location).

I looked back at the “news article” and realized that there was NO link to this “Patty’s Blog” on the page. My spidey sense went a-tingling, so I ended up going to CNBC.com itself and look up the information. I did a broad search with the title on the page and there was nothing. I also searched for the author. Whoever created this faux article pulled the name of a blogger for CNBC to give it credibility, but when you search under the blogger’s name on the CNBC site, it’s not there.

Understand that people will occasionally try to slight you on the internet. This person wanted me to spend $200 for insight on how to make a ridiculous amount of money working from home. It’s a very very tantalizing thing. However, when I decided to wait, the website started harrassing me saying they would “discount the offer to $47.95” and then when I selected to leave the page it gave me this mess of spam.

I know that this time of year, people tend to think that there is a miracle solution to save their financial windfall that they’re entering the year with. I just wanted to let you know that the article that has been spreading like wildfire is not from CNBC.

Be safe everybody!

Special Announcement!

I had mentioned a little while ago that I had some super secret project that I was working on. I teased that I would get it out to you on my birthday. Well… It’s almost ready, but not completely.

So here is the official announcement, even though you will have to wait just a bit longer for it to come to fruition.

I have been working on a scripted podcast. The first episode will be up as soon as I can possibly get it there (and I will definitely cross announce it over my many Twitter accounts, facebook pages, and other outlets. I’ll also let you know when it is up by posting here).

But Ali, what is it going to be about?


Two superheroes actually. Married superheroes that are not doing too well in their relationship.

I am going to try to have a look time frame where the episodes are posted monthly, but it’s not currently paying so if you enjoy it, please have patience.

In the meantime, a site has been opened for the podcast and although it is empty at the moment, it will grow. Please feel free to bookmark or add it to your RSS reader. Within the next few days I will have an iTunes link available for you to subscribe to it. Also, there will be a facebook page that I would be super stoked if you’d like it.



Playing Card Challenge

On the node, Teague Chrystie issued a challenge to create with playing cards.

As I feel that I have no real artistic skill, I figured I could write little lessons or advice on cards. I have every intention of finishing the cards and then leaving them in random places.

I shared them on the Node, I figured I’d share them here for those that aren’t on that site. If you’re not, you should be. I have met so many spectacular people there. If you are and haven’t friended me, please do!

Find more photos like this on The Node (Beta)

Kittens and Carbonite: This Nerd is Irritated.

I couldn't find a picture that I really liked of girls in all shapes and sizes, so here's a picture of Bruce Campbell. You're welcome.

Awhile ago I had posted something lamenting on the fact that I get challenged a lot by guys regarding my nerdocity. I have thought in the past that was true, then my twitter feed exploded in nerd chaos yesterday.

Apparently, a female comics fan believes that “being a girl and liking comics is no longer taboo.” She also continued to rant about how batting “your lashes while feigning embarrassment about your adorable nerdiness” seems to be encouraged by titling a blog Has Boobs, Reads Comics. She also states that she would “like to punch her [writer Jill Pantozzi] in her stupid boob.”

Months ago, Team Unicorn was under web attack (not from Peter Parker) for being “too attractive to be geeks.” An enormous controversy/discussion stirred from the female community immersed in everything nerd and it had finally felt like the storm had calmed.

But as I write this, I find myself disappointed (not in Jill). I am more disappointed in the women that feel that this is an issue. I think that with a title like Has Boobs, Reads Comics Jill cuts through the bullshit. If someone doesn’t want to read her review because she is a woman, that’s too bad because she has some incredible insight.

Does the acknowledgement of her lady parts scare away readers? I guess it’s possible. People do things that surprise me on a daily basis. I AM curious as to what the gender ratio is of those reading HBRC. Are some women jealous that another gets paid to read comics and review them for MTV? Is it employment envy or is it more?

Women seem to be the most vocal when it comes to struggling with self-esteem. With “I look so gross today” or “nobody loves me”, it is no surprise that those comments are typically referred to as fishing for a complement. When someone rages about a girl with fantastical interests being too attractive to enjoy something… That is more of an indicator as to how they feel about themselves.

Venting in such a wholly public forum like the internet means you are posting because you want someone to read it (and a sadistic part of you wants the person you’re coming down on to read it as well). Well, blogger that inspired this post… I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that you believe your fandom mentality is the only superior one. I’m sorry that you have had to deal with those fans that you determined to be the “worst customers”. I’m sorry that the majority of views on your site are for such a hateful message towards women that reads like you think that embracing who you are is wrong.

However, I’m not sorry that Jill gets paid to review the comics you have to pay for. I’m proud… and I have never met her. Geek/Nerd Girls UNITE!

Oh and by the way? I prefer Batman to Spiderman. I also have boobs.

Check out some nerdy girls that know their shit.