Chaingang: June 27, 2011

In the mid-late ’90s, I ran a mailing list, “chaingang,” whose sole purpose was to forward links and bits and bobs to interested parties. This is the 21st century version of that mailing list, compiled weekly.

Dreaming of Logan Echolls

veronica_mars_pc-300x168 God damn you, Veronica Mars! I’ve just finished watching the entire series over the course of a few months and my panties are currently in a twist over the final episodes of season 3!

How many nights in the last several months have I stayed up far too late into the night, regardless of my responsibilities the following day, because each VM episode that ended, ended with enough grab that I had to immediately start the next one? How many times did I shake an angry fist at the end of said episode? Loads. How many times did I ween myself off for a few days so I could prolong that sweet, sweet Veronica Mars injection, in the hopes to keep the high going for as long as possible? Too many times to count. And how many times, whenever whatever is holding my attention ends, have I wept like a child? Too fucking many.1

But not all shows or books or bands are created equal or even better, can sustain keeping the content compelling for long periods of time. Case in point: years ago when I got hooked into the Laurell K. Hamilton Anita Blake series via my friend Keth who promised I would love the kick ass, no holds barred female lead. Keth was very much right. I gobbled up LKH’s backlist and eagerly awaited each new arrival with near baited breath. But somewhere around books 9 or 10, the kick ass, no holds barred female lead turned into a spineless, walking sperm bank. Anita Blake can’t get out of a damned car without fucking 15 of her closest and dearest friends. And it was not that I was a prude to sex scenes by any stretch of the imagination (I also read LKH’s Merry Gentry series, where sex figured prominently in the landscape as well as I have been a purveyor of Penthouse Letters and other magazines/books for years, where sex (act or discussing of) is in your face. Literally. ), but the whole damned story stopped existing and the books became (in my opinion) general fodder for LKH’s sexual fantasies. Plot? Gone. Editing? Gone. Character development outside of the cut and paste from previous books? Also gone. The LKH love affair is over.

And I digress. There are probably a multitude of reasons why I had not seen Veronica Mars during its original run, ranging from for a number of years in the ’90s and ’00s when I was either without cable or without a television.2 Or perhaps at the time the idea of watching a spunky, Nancy Drew meets Parker Posey character just wasn’t my bag. Whatever the initial reason is immaterial because now I know and now I have gorged and like all junkies, I am left feeling despondent on the lack of Veronica Mars crack in my life. But here is what is interesting to me about Veronica Mars and all the other shows that seem to end far too early: their continual current cultural relevancy and their fan bases, years (or even decades) after the shows demise. Look at Star Trek fans for chrissakes, still waging a war on episodes that happened over 40 years ago. The Veronica Mars solar system is no different. One can currently discuss the happenings of Mars and Neptune on Television Without Pity while checking against the full episodes currently available at TheWB or on Netflix. Or if you’re feeling inclined, you can peruse the Veronica Mars fanfiction over at fanfiction.net or read vaguely scholarly articles on the series via the book Neptune Noir.3

The Veronica Mars solar system:

AND THIS! This is where the problem get perpetuated even more so! It is not enough to just watch the show and go, “Gee, that show was terrific!” No, I need to spend hours on the Internet reading commentary and analysis of episode by episode. Veronica and Piz? Hell no. Veronica and Logan? Hell yes! I need to read the pairings, the clues that I missed, I need to ponder if I need to re-watch the show so soon after finishing it to keep the high going. I want to delve deep under the surface of the show as pure entertainment and frame it as a cultural commentary. I also knew that I was heavily invested when I started dreaming that I was dating Logan Echolls.

Tapping that vein.

When our phone lines got cut due to construction recently, I told TheHusband that I wanted to get VM on DVD to have on hand in case of (another) apocalypse. He looked at me likes I was crazy – and to be fair, we spend so much of our viewing time via the on-demand features of UVese and Netflix, that we have not watched a physical DVD in months so his reaction was not totally out of line. But I think this also says something about not just of my own interests but also of the state of current television when purchasing and rewatching DVDs of expired shows sounds a whole lot more entertaining then watching the current crop of “entertainment.”

So then, of course, after much wailing on Twitter, I was tipped off to the methadone venison of Veronica Mars in the form of Party Down.

And the cycle repeats itself.

1. Shows that have ended far too early: Pushing Daisies, Firefly, Spaced and Wonderfalls to name a few. The first two are available on Netflix Instantqueue and Spaced is on Hulu for when I need to tap that vein.
2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in all of its 90s glory, is another fine example of missed during its original run television. Though to be fair, I have started watching the BtVS via Netflix’s Instantqueue, however, I’m only up to season 2. But interestingly, I have seen all of Angel. (It’s David Boreanaz, hello!)
3. The book is selling for $1.99 on Kindle. I bought it. I am not ashamed to admit it!

Decadence Tackycake

For years I’ve talked about consolidating and collating every single thing I’ve written into a central, preferably online, location. And for years, I’ve ignored the digital written mess building up though I kept buying domains and designing pages like it was going out of style. I kept producing the near daily online journal, sure, but it was everything else (the prose, the poetry, the essays, the fiction and the absurd) that needed a separate digital home. Bits and pieces kept getting shoved about into folders and sub-folders, directories and strange cataloging systems that made sense to my 23, 28, 34 year old selves but that the 39 year old self could only ask, “What the bloody fuck is this mess?”

So years of “some day” and “perhaps next weekend” were piling up. Domains bought, produced and lapsed. Finally, it was thanks to our telephone lines getting cut this past Monday morning for the fifth or sixth time1, I found myself with plenty of time (and with lack of Internet comes no procrastination) and renewed interest to work on this project. I pillaged my hard drive, went digging through all the nooks and crannies.
Here is what I found:

  • 16 books outlined & started (Though to be fair, most of them are similar in theme to the other and some are only a chapter or two in.)
  • Hundreds, literally hundreds, of finished pieces written in a variety of formats (prose, poetry, non-fiction essays, stories, etc.) that were published $deity know where
  • Dozens of pieces started, notated and never quite finished.
  • Hundreds of web journal entries dating back to 1996, with web publication “officially”beginning in July, 1998. This is in combination of what was published on The Lisa Chronicles from 1998 forward AND LiveJournal entries from 2001 and forward. For a long time there was separation between the two, but consolidation between the two started in the late 2000s.

Mind, this is just the digital forms. This is not including all the materials & research I have in paper format from when I unearthed what I unpacked and sorted my office last week.

Not everything I wrote is pure brilliance. Or even witty. Or fuck, even good for that matter. But finding those chunks of writing that are so pure, the language so on target or even just a simple line is so beautiful, I question who the author is every single time. And every single time, I genuinely am surprised to find out that said author is me.

I am overwhelmed, not only with the voracity of my output, but with the range of topics from men to sex to jobs to emotions to state of affairs to current events. I pile on reviews on books, movies and music. I drop science and knowledge on so much goddamned information, philosophize about everything. I thought the discovery of my high school journals was bad, simply because I had much more material then I originally believed, but the digital format makes the analog look paltry.

Writing is such a fucked up career move. I’m not talking about the Cassandras who pontificate about the chances of a writer making a living off of their work (slim to none), or how difficult it is to break into traditional publishing (slim to none) or even finding an agent (slim to none). I’m talking about this catch-22 mythos that if you do not publish something of brilliance before you are 30, you are worthless. But by the same token, there are dozens of critics who postulate that clearly one cannot have written a masterpiece when one is under 30 because they have nothing of substance to write about, let alone publish. (We’re a pampered generation, after all.)

25 came and went. 30 came and went. 35 came and went. I ate myself alive knowing I would never make it to 20 Under 40 or make some supposed (depending on who you ask) prestigious book list for best young writer. I would not be crowed with my supposed speakers for my generation, at least those as assigned by Time. Many of whom, if you’ve asked me on such topics, I tend to wholly disagree with or find their work highly derivative.2 Or full of crap.

It was like those years of interviewing myself in front of a full-length mirror, prepping for my big interview with Arsenio Hall that sadly never came to pass, was all for naught?

This is what I told myself (and continue to tell myself) for weeks, months and years. All the while, being bitterly, insanely jealous of writers as I watch them come from under the pack and push forward to the big times. While I beat my chest in mea culpa, waiting for my own recognition when I’ve done what? As time moves forward, as opportunities (we believe) get more scarce, as we find ourselves tired and lacking of energy because our youth has faded past us. Because tomorrow, tomorrow tomorrow is always another day but we always seem to think we can get caught up, inbox zero, take time off of work.

And we never fucking do.

I installed in myself I had completed nothing, when discovering all these years later that was such a blatant mistruth. How could I have ignored so much of what was completed?

Why did I live vicariously through others, paralyzed by jealousy when the back list actually exists?

Why did I, in so many ways, sabotage myself?

It ends now.

I have so much work to do.


1. Major construction on our road, the telephone company (regardless of various incarnation of said company throughout the years did not bury our lines at the minimum of 18″ as policy but between 3-4″. In addition, some of the lines were not properly marked.
2. Except for Gary Shteyngart whom I harbor such a major fan-girl crush on, that it is kind of (but not quite), stalkerish in its intensity.