Hey Man, I’m Just Talkin’ About SHAFT

Moved to Los Angeles.
Despite overwhelming odds, managed to get job in entertainment industry.
Despite overwhelming odds, found soul mate in fellow performer.
Despite overwhelming odds, both of us got steady work as performers.
Got engaged.
Next year, we’ll be married and finally earning a good living as performers.

[opens Hollywood Reporter]

Study: New Tax Bill “Shafts” Working Entertainers But Stars Are Untouched | Hollywood Reporter

A married couple, both performers, who earned about $65,000 (or about $32,000 each) paid $1,228 in taxes but would have owed $4,535 under the new law, an increase of $3,307 or 269 percent. In other words, their taxes nearly quadrupled.

Well, shit.

Can’t Sleep. Mud Will Eat Me.

can't sleep

I heard something both fascinating and horrifying today.

I’ve been listening to “Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History” podcast lately and today I finished part 5 of his 6-episode WWI series “Blueprint for Armageddon”. Near the end of the episode, he started talking about the “Battle of Passchendaele” and how the rain had turned the barren battlefield into thick, soupy mud in which many soldiers ended up drowning.

He then quotes the following passage from Adam Hochschild’s “To End All Wars“:

A party of ‘A’ Company men passing up to the front line found … a man bogged to above the knees,” remembered Major C. A. Bill of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. “The united efforts of four of them, with rifles beneath his armpits, made not the slightest impression, and to dig, even if shovels had been available, would be impossible, for there was no foothold. Duty compelled them to move on up to the line, and when two days later they passed down that way the wretched fellow was still there; but only his head was now visible and he was raving mad.”

I’ll just be over here having nightmares.

My Top Songs of 2017

I was recently inspired by a few bloggers sharing Year-End lists of their favorite books and movies and I wanted to do the same here but, while this past year was great for me advancing at work, sadly, it wasn’t the best for watching movies or reading books.

I suppose I could go back through my Netflix history to see what all I ended up watching but, if nothing is immediately coming to mind, it certainly doesn’t seem worthy to blog about. Even worse was how few books I finished in 2017. At the start of the year, I shared this “Reading for Fun Challenge” with my fiancé and, while she’s halfway through her last book on the list, I didn’t get a single check mark. Embarrassing. I know I can’t be a good writer if I’m not reading so I’m really hoping to make that a focus in 2018.

But, one thing I DID do this past year was listen to music. A lot of music. Records and MP3s and a few cassettes and, according to an email I got recently, just shy of 40,000 minutes on Spotify.

While I don’t love the direction that Spotify has been going this past year, ESPECIALLY with their iPhone App, I have embraced having such a large library of music at my disposal. So, let’s review what, according to my listening habits on Spotify, were my Top Songs of 2017!


My Top Album of 2017:  Struts – Everybody Wants

I realize this album originally came out in 2014 and was reissued last year but I only discovered it this year (thanks to my brother) and couldn’t get enough of it.

My Top 10 New Songs of 2017 (in no particular order):

My Top Song That I Didn’t Discover Until 2017:  Hall & Oates – It’s Uncanny

My Top Movie Score of 2017:  John Ottman/David Buckley – The Nice Guys Score

My Top Audiobook of 2017:  Jocks Willnick – Discipline Equals Freedom

Spotify made me a playlist of my top songs but it was full of tracks that were work-related, movie scores (which I use for writing) or were audiobooks. So I’ve made a playlist of just songs that I started listening to in 2017.


The Dead Zone

Well, the good news is that I’ve been keeping up with these daily blog posts. While they’re not great, they’re not bad. And, more importantly, they’re being completed. So, yay me!

Also good news is that, the more I do these, the more I’m realizing what my limits are as a daily writer. I’m discovering which times of the day/week I’m more successful and which times it’s pretty much pointless pretending I’m going to write. After work is one of those times. No matter what I do, I can’t help but just grind to an unproductive halt when I get home. It’s rough because I don’t want to get up any earlier in the morning to write (I’m already up at quarter to six and that time is for my Morning Pages a la “The Artist’s Way”) and I don’t like writing these right before bed – like I’m doing tonight, and like I did that last few nights – because it gets my mind going and that’s the last thing I need before shutting the lights off.

I just don’t know what to do. If I try to nap when I get home, I’m out for an hour or 2 and it throws off my sleep schedule. If I have a lot of coffee after work, my brain wakes up but my body is still sapped of energy. No matter what I do, I lose 2 or 3 hours after work because I shouldn’t sleep but can’t find the energy to be productive. I suppose I could watch TV but that feels like I’m giving up on being creative. I don’t know.

I’m hoping that these post-work slumps are only so bad right now because I’m getting over whatever I had the past week but I worry that this is just how it’s going to be from now on. I’m just going to be worthless for a few hours after work, 4 or 5 days a week.

Maybe that’s not a bad thing?