My Favorite Comic Strips

It’s Memorial Day weekend. I’m not in a serious mood. Nobody else is either. So, similar to my post on the comics I read, I thought I’d celebrate another form of sequential art: the comic strip. My house is filled with comic strip books as they’re my preferred laziness reading. Goofy, light, easy to drop in and out of. They’re perfect kicking back reading. So, in no order, my favorites past and present. Sadly the majority are past. I could do a thinkpiece but…nope. Look elsewhere.

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In Bloom by Austin Shinn: A Review by Austin Shinn

There are few moments that send a chill through a writer like the realization it’s time to read the first draft. It’s a terrifying ritual that forces us to accept our work isn’t done. The time spent on the 109 pages of script doesn’t matter anymore. It’s red pen time. After this draft it gets worse too. I’m only facing myself but next draft goes to others.

So in that light, a readthrough of the first draft is less a review and more of a damage assessment. What needs to go, what can be saved. Dishonest writers tell themselves almost everything. Honest ones say almost nothing. The first draft is where the spine is put in place. No more.

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One Year Later: A Flickering Life

I’ve had this blog for a full year. What a weird thought that is. This isn’t my longest writing project, I had a Xanga for three years, but it’s been one of the most focused continual projects I’ve ever worked on. I calculated and I’ve written roughly 79,100 works over 89 entries on this blog. That’s a lot of work.

Over the course of this year, I’ve ridden out extreme weather. I was in a car accident. I moved. I got to interview a director of a film I loved. I’ve remained happily married. I’ve experienced the fear of a friend in the hospital. I’ve stared down the brutal reality of a friend’s death. It’s been a long year.

I didn’t get here alone. It’s in that mindset that I want to pause and thank everybody who has helped and supported me over the last 12 months.

I start with the first person I see every single day. I would be lost without the help of Amanda. In marriage, I firmly believe it is my role to do my all for her and vice versa. She fulfills her end spectacularly. She has pushed me so hard here. Not  for the first or last time, I celebrate her.

My family has been there fully on this. I write in no small part to reach them. I know I’ve done that. They’ve backed me hard. I know I haven’t always shined a light in writing this but sometimes I couldn’t and that’s ok. When I’ve found the light, I have.

I’ve eternally had the support of my friends.

  • Albert Wiltfong, my partner in The Film Room, was a great aid as I got started. He’s listened to me bounce entry after entry off of him.
  • Laura Harvey, cited at length in several entries, has been a source of insight. It’s amazing to me how long our friendship has lasted. I’m grateful for it. I recommend her blog.
  • Lindsay Singer, whose son is in my shoes, has provided wonderful backing. I bid her well in her journey.
  • Jeani Hamilton Shinn, my high school mentor, has continued to push me just as hard now. I congratulate her in her recent marriage!
  • Mason Daniel, who’s been a good ear through the rough patches.

Then there are the backers.

  • Rachel Parker Dickerson sought me out for an interview for Autism Awareness Month and did a dynamite job.
  • The Art of Autism gave me a platform during their 40 day project. Wonderful site.
  • Lexi Alexander, director of the awesome Punisher: War Zone gave me an early boost at a key moment through retweets. She’s shown clear insight and respect.
  • Shaun at No Totally deserves all the credit I can give him for his interview he did with me. Big retweeter and great guy.
  •  I once more thank Amanda Mills of Nature in the City for respecting me enough to provide different angles!.
  • I’ve gained much though discussions with Film Spectrum. He really has a lot to say.

I pause to remember the one backer I can’t thank. Lauren, my dear friend, I miss you. Thank you for having been there.

If I failed to note you, I beseech you, tell me. You are all important to me getting to here. I cherish all of the support I’ve had.

So where do things go from here? I don’t know. But I’ll find out. I hope you stick around to find out too.

“Inspiration” and Agency in the Arts

A couple of weeks ago, a response video was posted by Amanda Mills to my appearance I did on the No Totally podcast. It’s a fine video laden with first rate points that serves to correct many of my points. I don’t agree with every point on it, of course, but I respectfully disagree to the highest magnitude and strongly urge everybody to follow her site and twitter feed.  She’s a vital voice and one I admire.

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A Few Brief Thoughts on the United Incident

I want to start this post by stressing something: I do not know what exactly happened last week to the Beegle family on a United Airlines flight. I’ve read multiple accounts but I cannot tell you for certain what happened. I write based on what I can tell from what I’ve read.

And what I’ve read strikes that horrifyingly painful chord of recognition. We hate to say we could’ve been there in crises, but on this one, there is no reason that couldn’t have been me. I have meltdowns. I have similar dietary issues. Being on a flight or any form of travel is fundamentally disorienting and frustrating. Also the younger Beegle was 15. Oh boy was I not fun to be around then.

So when I say I understand I mean I understand. I know what happened. I also understand the other side. How can I not? Meltdowns are terrifying. Even if a video existed, I wouldn’t want to see it. They’re really upsetting to watch. They’re hell to live through. So I get the need to want to protect others.

But ultimately I’m not ok with the handling of it and it speaks to a greater issue. 17 years post diagnosis, I don’t know how much better things are. That makes sense when you remember the most public autism advocacy group, Autism Speaks, is to us a hate group which espouses disgusting rhetoric. The culture is in a weird place of wanting to help us but not really having any idea how.

I think the big issue stems from the uncanny valley we’re in. We can put on a decent face for a time so why not every time? We’re competent enough to frustrate when we’re not. How many of us have heard the words “I know you can do better.” Yes, so do we. It’s usually why we’re frustrated.

There’s a real confusion on how to handle people with autism and for the first time, I’m sensing a public discussion is beginning among the NT. The illusory cure will never be found so we need to be dealt with. We need to be respected on the grounds of who we are. That doesn’t mean we want free reign. But we are asking for patience and understanding. Things ARE harder for us.

Maybe in this moment we can start to discuss that. The mother has called for better education. I have no trouble echoing that call. I’ve seen in my own life the benefits of it. We’re not going away and we’re smart/capable enough to want a spot in the world. I hope we get it.

Friendship is Magic

This piece started, like most of my essays as a much angrier piece. I was going to tear into some ideas I hated with fury and passion. But I’m a bit angered out. So why not take the opposite approach to prove the same point?

We used to have an idea in the west known as unrequited love. It was a lovely, poetic, mournful concept. Unrequited love was love felt for one who did not respond. It was never an attack on them for doing so. In fact to confess it was to concede feelings of sadness and loss within oneself, to know they were expending wasted energy and to acknowledge the futility.

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