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10 THINGS TO DO BEFORE I TURN 38, JUST 10

April has a list she does every year near her birthday. While I commend her for wanting to do “33 Things” before she turns 32, I’m turning 38 next year — and “39 things” is a lot of things, even if it’s just piddling things. I’ll be old, one day, if I’m lucky. And I don’t want to think of 99 things when I turn 98. Sorry. I’m sticking with 10. It’s a good number.

1. Print and distribute my short story collection.

2. Memorize a poem that I like.

3. Memorize some more Mark Twain quotes. (Everybody likes Twain quotes, right?)

4. Less Facebook. More books.

5. Shine shoes like a pro. Pop that rag!

6. Get my USCF rating to above 1400.

7. Finish “Improve Your Chess Tactics” by Yakov Neishtadt.

8. Every week, work on my novel.

9. Get our garden going.

10. Meditate more.

MY 20 FAVORITE ALBUMS

Doolittle by PixiesBack in the old days, you’d invite a friend over and they could peruse your CD shelf, quietly nodding to your choices. I guess people still have CD (and record) collections, but almost everything I have is now stored within the near-infinite, intangible bytes of my iPod. If I could pull my favorites and put them on the shelf, here they are.

I made one of these lists for Facebook a few years ago. And I think another such list is hiding in the vast archives of this blog.

My mood changes, so do my preferences, but some albums stay at number 1. Hello again, Doolittle, my old friend.

Feel free to post your own list or debate my impeccable musical tastes in the comments section.

All links go to Spotify–unless I couldn’t find the album.

20. Fox Confessor Brings the Flood by Neko Case
Favorite song: “Fox Confessor Brings the Flood”

For me, this is Neko Case at her best – wistful, haunting, melodic.

19. From A Basement On The Hill by Elliott Smith
Favorite song: “King’s Crossing”

This album hit me hard. Like all great works, it holds together by a string, but it still holds.

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FIRST EVER DALLAS SOLO FEST

DSF_Large Interstitial AdAudacity Theatre Lab is pleased to announce the 2014 Dallas Solo Fest, May 15-25, 2014 at the Margo Jones Theatre in Fair Park. Eight solo shows highlight this inaugural festival with several local performers as well as performers coming in from around the country.

The inaugural Dallas Solo Fest line-up includes Deanna Fleysher’s Butt Kapinski, Veronica Russell’s A Different Woman, John Michael’s Crossing Your I’s, Zeb L. West’s Innocent When You Dream, David Mogolov’s Eating My Garbage, Alexandra Tatasky’s Beast of Festive Skin, Elaine Liner’s Sweater Curse: A Yarn About Love and Danny O’Connor’s Bouncing Ugly. Collectively, these performers represent a wide variety of solo performance styles from storytelling, puppetry and improvisational clown pieces to pieces that defy easy explanation.

The purpose of the Dallas Solo Fest is to celebrate extraordinary solo theatre as well as increase awareness and appreciation for the form in the north Texas area.

The Dallas Solo Fest will be produced by Audacity Theatre Lab and will play at the Margo Jones Theatre. Located at the Magnolia Lounge in Fair Park at 1121 First Avenue, Dallas, TX 75210, the Margo Jones Theatre features ample free, well-lit parking, access to the DART Rail, and a handy BYOB policy!

Single tickets and Festival Passes for all shows go on sale April 23. Festival Passes, now on sale, include one admission to each festival show and are $55. Individual ticket prices for each show are $12. Reservations can be made at the Dallas Solo Fest website or by calling (214) 888-6650. Details about the shows, artists bios, the full schedule and ticket information at: www.DallasSoloFest.com

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ADVICE ON BREAKING IN

427110_10150645139076802_1938552693_nI had a former student email me a few days ago, asking about how I got into comics. He was seeking advice on what to do.

There’s no singular way to get into comics. There’s no path except the one that works, and then it usually only works once and under precarious, fleeting conditions. A few things have worked for others, and any combinations of these tactics (listed below) would be better than doing nothing.

  •  In the words of Steve Martin, “be so good they can’t ignore you.” People like Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, and Grant Morrison were always going to be successful, because eventually someone, somewhere would see the genius. The shine was too bright.
  • Find a job where you can hide away or slack off while you actually write.
  • Be homeless. You can access computers at the public library. You can spend your time writing while sleeping in a shelter somewhere in the evenings. I don’t know if this works.
  • Take out loans, live under crushing debt, start your own small press company, and attend every major comic book convention as a publisher. You may eventually go bankrupt. However, by that time, you may be well-known enough to get some gigs elsewhere.
  • Start a shitty web comic and self-publish your own projects.
  • Find one small press company and befriend them. Intern. Run errands.
  • Write about comics. Start a podcast or a blog, or both. Be a resource to others. If you can grow as a pop culture authority, eventually, someone might trust you to write for them.
  • Find work as an editor, be really good, and then shift into writing.
  • Pay an artist to work with you on a larger project. I paid someone to illustrate my first 24 page comic. Nice guy. From there, I started getting more breaks.

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ST. VINCENT, DIGITAL WITNESS

Must share.

SPEAKING AT THE SMU WOMEN’S SYMPOSIUM

Wonder Woman taller than SupermanTomorrow, I’m speaking at SMU’s 49th Annual Women’s Symposium. My 30-minute talk will be about the historical and social impact of women superheroes, from Wonder Woman to Emily Edison. In particular, my jumping off point is this letter to Lego from 7-year-old Charlotte Benjamin. What I will try to say in 30-minutes, she says much more concisely (and eloquently) in just a few words:

“Let them go on adventures and have fun. OK!?! Thank you.”

Comic book writers, take note. It’s all right there. Let them go on adventures and have fun.

In honor of Wonder Woman and my presentation, I want to share something I wrote that never got published. Smart Pop Books, a few years ago, was considering a Wonder Woman anthology to accompany a possible Joss Whedon helmed Wonder Woman movie. Of course, we all know what happened there. I wrote the first part of my essay, working title: “Wonder Woman and Superman in Conversation: The Gender Gap in DC’s New Frontier,” and then stopped when the DC movie fell through. So, the excerpt below is unpolished and unfinished, but some good ideas exist in there somewhere. Feel free to read and look for them. Read more

SORTING THROUGH THE PHOTO BOX

Last Saturday, April was livid. Her outdated iPhone had failed her one too many times. The chief complaint was that it would not notify her when a call was coming. And what is an iPhone without the “phone?” (Actually, Apple already has the answer; it’s just an iPod Touch.) After a conciliatory conversation about the evils of planned obsolescence, I convinced April to take her losses to Tmobile. We have lived together for six years, and we would finally have a shared phone plan. At Tmobile, we were able to get an iPhone 5S without paying a dime upfront. Even with the increased installment plan to account for the pricey phone, we are still paying less than our separate phone bills from the previous years. An all-around win.

The only crisis came when we discovered April might lose the photos from her previous phone. Tmobile was having trouble with “the cloud.” Hundreds of photos, potentially lost. Fortunately, Dropbox did what iCloud could not, and the photos were saved.

Following this theme of “preservation,” on Sunday, April took me to Michaels to buy some boxes to store my old photos from high school and college. I was organizing everything in my new study/reading room/chess room, and I decided it was time to retire the Airwalk shoe box where I had crammed these photos. Scrapbook? Not happening. I just needed a nice box to keep the dust off my archives.

Time to play the game, “Back in My Day.”

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ME AND HUFFINGTON POST

Last year, I wrote and performed a story as part of the Oral Fixation series. Now it’s available on Huffington Post.

For those of you who want “all the dirt” on my divorce, it’s here. Kinda. Original title was “One Request Before You Leave: How a road trip, the Beatles, and a motel in Missouri made me a better ex-husband.” But long titles are pretentious and don’t work for SEO (search engine optimization) purposes, so it’s been shortened to a more respectable “How a Road Trip Set to a Beatles Soundtrack Made Me a Better Ex-Husband.” Either way.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/oral-fixation/how-a-road-trip-set-to-a_b_4747794.html

I’ve received a lot of positive responses from people, both friends and strangers. I’m glad that my story (mine and Melissa’s, actually) has been able to connect with others and their own experiences. What more could a writer want? I believe in good divorces–amicable partings, where parents can remain not just “friendly” but friends, and they can work together in the best interest of their child. Thank you Melissa for your blessing on this story and, the one thing that wasn’t really mentioned, how you played such a huge role in supporting me with your patience and kindness during that difficult time.

And thank you to Oral Fixation creator/director/editor Nicole Stewart for the opportunity. Between this and Lyndsay Knecht’s behind the scenes story for KERA’s Art&Seek, we’ve gotten about as much mileage (pun intended) as one could ever hope for from a single performance. Now that it’s on YouTube, I wish I wouldn’t have shaved my beard at that time. Yes, I look strange to myself without a beard. That’s my only complaint. I should have grabbed a fake beard from the prop room.

BACK WITH ESPN 1660 AM

“Unnecessary Roughness,” the afternoon show for ESPN Central Texas 1660 AM, brought me back yet again for a segment on the Dallas Mavericks. Three times. That makes me a regular, yes? We talked about Coach Carlisle, the Clippers game, Monta Ellis, the nightmare that is Andrew Bynum, and mid-season trade pipedreams. As always, I was there representing the Mavs Outsider Report. Click the play button below (or the link).

linkDavid Hopkins on ESPN 1660 AM
(11 minutes, 33 seconds)

REGARDING DANIELLE PIO

I got your letter in my P.O. box. I’m sorry I haven’t responded sooner. A few years ago, someone contacted Melissa, providing a more detailed account of what happened. While it’s impossible to know all the details, we found out that Danielle worked for a time as a stripper. That yes, there was a drug problem. There was also an issue with depression. And that she committed suicide.

You must have met her soon after I did. Melissa knew her in elementary. But I met her in high school. We dated for something like two weeks, and then quickly returned to “friend” status where we operated best. I will always remember her as a dear friend — although to quote Liz Phair, her “kisses were as wicked as an F-16.” (Is it insensitive to mention that of someone who has passed? But seriously, I did not know what to do with her as a girlfriend.) I smoked my first cigarette with Danielle and promptly gave it up an hour later. We liked similar music. She borrowed some CDs from me, moved and never returned them. Most of the time, we simply hung out, like teenagers often do. She had an incredible sense of humor, just hilarious and irreverent. She was kind to her friends, never cruel, and was protective of us in a way that was endearing. We went to the same church camp, Glen Lake. She befriended my girlfriend at the time, Susan, and really got along with everyone. We all loved her more than I think she realized.  Read more

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