Monday, October 30, 2006

State of the J Union Address, November 2006

As part of my ongoing effort to be in better touch with everyone, I'm taking time out of my oh-so-busy schedule today to clue everyone in on what I'm up to these days. I'll try to keep it short and to the point when I can; and when I CAN'T, I'll try to keep it interesting. This is my official State of the J Union Address. It's what I'll point you to if you ask me what's up. Now then...

Life: A General Overview

As of right this second, things are on an upward swing for your Friend and Humble Narrator here on the Golden Gulf Coast. On October 12th, my mom went into the hospital for another heart procedure (she had a device installed that will basically jump-start her heart if it ever beats below a certain output), and naturally, I was pretty tense about the whole thing. But, as always, she pulled through with her sense of humor and attitude intact. (She posed for some great "on the brink of Death" pictures while they were preparing her for surgery.) I'm in a much better state of mind now, and we're all breathing a nice sigh of relief that Mom's still around to speak condescendingly and tell Dad to shut up.

The Academic Life

It didn't occur to me until just recently that a lot of people (even close friends of mine) are completely unaware that I've been working on my Masters degree in English for the better part of a year now. In all truth, I started attending classes at the University of New Orleans (U.N.O.) in August of 2005...but of course Hurricane Katrina quickly put the brakes on that little endeavor. But, I returned to U.N.O. in January and have been taking online classes ever since. At the moment, I have a 4.0 GPA and have recently been asked to join the Honor Society. This semester I'm a full-time student, which, at the graduate level, means I'm taking 9 hours worth of classes. Currently, I'm enrolled in:

1) American Realism and Naturalism - a great class taught by one of my favorite instructors, Dr. Anne Boyd. For all of my romanticism, I'm actually a big fan of the Realists.

2) Literature in Cyberspace - an extremely interesting class that explores hypertext and online writing as a new form of literature. At times it throws me for a loop, but I think that's what I like about it. It's got me reading all kinds of cyber-punk literature by authors like Neal Stephenson and Jeff Noon. Sometimes I think the professor thinks I'm exaggerating when I tell him how much I dig this class. But, whatever.

3) Advanced Fiction Writing Workshop - this one speaks for itself. Everyone in the class writes and submits stories so everyone else can tear them to shreds. Good times.

The Creative Life

At the time of this writing, my creative life is divided into 5 different categories: (1) Pink, (2) Website, (3) Music/piano lessons, (4) Short filmwork, and (5) Short story collection.

(1) Pink - you don't know how much it buzzes around in the back of my mind, dear readers, that we have yet to completely edit and package Pink - the full-length film we shot in Oxford last year. Every time I've found a way to get it working, something has always come up as an interference. Whether it's Hurricane Katrina, unreliable help, computer malfunctions (did I tell you Circuit City erased everything on my laptop?), Mom's heart condition, or just the everyday stress of school and work, sometimes I feel like this movie just doesn't want to get made. What's funny, though, is that I've shown several clips to people I work with and it's been a HUGE hit. HUGE. The kind of thing people quote to one another throughout the day. I have so many ideas for different ways we could market it, not to mention all kinds of fun promotional tie-ins. So, please keep your fingers crossed that the stars will line up and everything will start to fall into place soon. I'm always afraid that Gregg and Kelly are mad/disappointed with me. Sorry y'all.
:( I really am trying the best I can.

(2) Website - sadly enough, my website ( is very much the same story as Pink. I wish I didn't have anything else to do, so I could sit down and really WORK with this thing. I know that day will come, and I've just got to be patient with it. But still, it's hard to be patient when you want one thing and you're constantly being forced to do another. Mark my words, though: November will be my month. I'm going to get this ball rolling.

(3) Music/piano lessons - here's where the story of my creative life gets a whole lot happier. Of all the things I dropped out of when I was a kid - Boy Scouts, managing my middle school football team, CYO, etc. - the only one I've ever regretted is Piano. When I told my mom I didn't want to take lessons anymore, she said to me (say it in my mom's voice), "One day, Jason Michael, you're gonna wish you'd stuck with it." Naturally, I told her she was off her rocker at the time, but alas, Mom was right. I wish I'd stuck with it. (Mike can attest to my feeble attempts to add piano tracks into some of our garage-rock recordings -- Hey, Mike, remember "Other Autumns"? What were we thinking?)

Enter Tara Rhoads (seen here rocking a Winger shirt at Hot Topic):

And here, dressed as her alter-ego Yvonne:

Tara is a graduate of Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ, which means she has a ridiculously extensive knowledge of music, plays more musical instruments than Prince, and is more than capable of giving little old me a few piano lessons. So, at least once a week she and I sit down at the keyboard and count out the values of notes while Tara uses fun words like mezzo and forte and anacrusis and dissonance. As she does this, I do my best to look like I understand what she's talking about without nodding my head (a dead giveaway that you don't understand what someone's talking about.) Thus far I've completed about 80% of John W. Schaum's Note Speller and Adult Piano Course: Book One and learned to play the first wave of notes in Johann Pachelbel's "Canon in D" - a gift to my musically-inclined friends, all of whom were tired of hearing me play that bastardized version I've been playing for years. More recently, Tara has been struggling to show me how to properly use a foot pedal - "Your foot comes up, your fingers stay down" - but, you know, one thing at a time. I'm not Jerry Lee Lewis here. BUT Tara recently admitted that I am, in fact, her star student. Granted, I'm currently her ONLY student...but I think that's kind of beside the point. I'll let you know when I have my first recital.

In other music news, Mike and I have decided to press the best of the Brass Tacks garage sessions to CD and sell them through my website. Tentatively titled "The I H8 Nebraska E.P." this disc will feature all of your Brass Tacks favorites, including: "I H8 Nebraska," "B.Enigma," "Pig Fetus," "Darling, I Love You, But...," and more. Supplies are limited. Order yours today.

4) Short filmwork - After going back through some old high school movies not long ago, I'm currently in the mood to start making weekend camcorder flicks again. Provided I currently know enough extroverts to make this happen, it should be a lot of fun. I'll keep you posted. Also, I finally completed the script for "The Judas Lick," which, in its entirety, should run about 20 minutes or so...Who's up for making a movie?

5) Short story collection - Despite my usual reluctance to show anyone a copy of the writings I plan to publish, I've stepped out on a limb this semester and submitted several of my better short stories and sketches to the abovementioned writing workshop at U.N.O. To my satisfaction, each of these stories have been meet with both extreme praise and extreme criticism. It seems people either "get" it or they don't, which, in my estimation, is a mark of success. Emboldened by this development, I've been pulling together a lot of the writing I've done over the past two or three years and plan to publish it in a collection using a printing company I discovered through work. Yes, at long last I'm working on a book...Won't this be fun?

The Love Life

Behold, dear readers, the sight of an attractive young woman holding a small, frightened dog...

The girl you see in this picture, as most of you know, is Angela "Angie" Bovenkamp - current object of my faux-affections and undisputed Queen of Song Lyric Trivia. Angie and I went to high school together, and for the past two or three months we've cultivated a very open and loving long-distance relationship. Actually, it's not really a "relationship" so much as it's an "arrangement" or an "understanding." Basically, we plan to keep one another company and build each other's confidence until we both find something closer to home.

This arrangement is based on the belief that we'll both appear more attractive to the opposite sex if we're already seeing someone else. (If I only had a dollar for every time I've heard "I would have loved to date you, but you were seeing....") And you know what? It works. Since Angie and I have been together, I've gotten no less than five numbers (this may also have something to do with the fact that I've recently lost 37 pounds on the Fat Smash Diet...and by the way, who's heard the story about the redhead?) and Angie has been out on two or three dates. I'm telling you, it's FLAWLESS.

This is not to say that there's no commitment between us. In fact, Angie and I have recently come up with a celebrity-esque combination of our names. Following in the footsteps of Bennifer and Brangelina, we prefer to be called "An-J" whenever we're referred to as a unit. (If that's not commitment, I don't know what is.) But, you know, at the end of the day it's really just good practice for the real thing.

"Can anybody find me somebody to love?" - Freddie Mercury

The Spiritual Life

I'm sure some of you will be surprised to hear me say this, but I've been doing a lot of spiritual thinking lately and have recently converted to Islam...Okay, quit laughing. You know I'm only kidding, but it wasn't THAT funny.

Y'all know I'm representin' Vatican City 4 Life up in dis mug.

The Living Situation

I'm going to close this posting out with what I consider my "BIG" news of the moment. After almost a year of living with my grandparents here in Biloxi (a symptom of post-Katrina job loss in New Orleans), I'm finally moving into my own place sometime in the coming week. For a while, there was talk of my moving to Dallas, but I've decided that it's really time for me to grow up and start doing something with my life. Running off to Dallas to live with friends is something I'm simply getting too old to do...Can't go chasing those whims the way I used to. :(

And I guess that's really the story of my life right now. I'm getting older, kids. And I'm trying to harness my free spirit just enough to really get something accomplished: School. Work. Film. Piano lessons. Relationships...I'm giving all of it a healthy shot these days. So, wish me luck and get in touch. I miss you all, and I thank you for taking time to read this.


Blogger reddoorjen said...

I think your celebrity nickname would be more appealing as "JAng" but that's just a thought.

2:45 PM  

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