Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Secrets Revealed

Yes, the Secret Project is now ready for its unveiling!

Here's what happened:

We were in an attic, never mind how, never mind where; an attic soaked in must and every surface growing slimy with mold. We found many things there, most too horrid to mention, and the tapping of rat's feet punctuated our search at intervals far too regular. Here are the things I'm willing to speak of:

- A heavy iron lock, stained a dull and crusted brown.

- A photograph of a man screaming.

- A magician's cabinet, containing a single jar of soil and a steel box filled with ancient, brittle papers.

It is the last of most interest for you, gentle reader, for those were no ordinary papers. No, they were documents of a hidden history, a chapter in the story of our proud culture glossed over by the Academics in their blind allegiance to "fact" and "relevance". A story told in a series of peculiar juxtaposed pictoral images in what seems to be a deliberate sequence, as if to convey information and/or to produce an aesthetic response in the viewer. We quickly realized that these documents were far too important to keep hidden away, dangerous though the revalations in those yellowed pages may be. We immediately devoted ourselves to scanning each document into our computer with the intent of publishing them as a sort of "Web Juxtaposed-Pictorial-Image-Narrative"(for want of a better term).

Finally, our labor has borne fruit. I present to you...

The Amusing and Horrific Adventures of Young HP Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe.

We shall update with a new strip each Wednesday, until we go mad with the strain.

Holy Crap

The lady I sit next to at work? She just won, in the following order:

a lifetime supply of chocolate.

a weeklong, all expenses paid trip to New York.

a... ahem... a million dollar diamond shopping spree.

Million dollar. Diamond.

I'll tell you what, this morning? She's not real interested in working.

Oh, and the lesson to take away from this: Alway, ALWAYS fill out those sweepstakes forms at the mall.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Job Hunting

I think that I must have been spoiled or lucky for the past ten years.

Used to be, if I found a job I wanted, I simply applied, went and interviewed for it and invariably got it. What happened??? I am now on my seventh week of being unemployed and getting crankier all the time. I apply for roughly 10 jobs per week (one week I applied for 32 positions) and I've had a grand total of two interviews in six weeks. Now, to be fair, I've applied for many positions for which I'm over-qualified, and for several that would be a stretch for me (wanting years more experience or a slightly different skill set), but most of the positions for which I apply I am completely capable of doing well. So what gives?

Theory 1: When you're a professional something-or-other, you suddenly find yourself competing with a great many other professional somethings-or-other for the same kinds of position. Maybe I need to step up my game.

Theory 2: This is Austin. There are half a million UT, St. Edward's, Texas State, and Huston-Tillotsen University graduates out there who want to stay in Austin, and they are willing to work for lower pay if it means they can stay here. I remember during my internship at Legal Aid, the development director was hiring a part-time assistant and she got 120 applications, 10 of which were from Ph.D. holders.

Theory 3: I've lost my edge. Maybe I just used to have something that I don't have anymore. Was I cuter before? Was I more positive? Smarter? More energetic and go-gettery?

Theory 4: It's not meant to be. This is my least favorite theory because I like to think that if I work hard enough at anything, then by gum I can get what I want. I'm stubborn that way.

Theory 5: I'm impatient, it takes everyone this long to find work, and I need to calm the hell down.

Well, in case theory number 2 has some validity, I've expanded my job hunt to include New Mexico. I must say, at least I get responses back from those agencies within a week or so. I also hit upon a great position at the University of New Mexico doing community-based research for their Health Promotion/Disease Prevention Center. It is one sweet gig - I'd get to drive all over New Mexico collecting data and organizing community efforts around Head Start programs - specifically for the CHILE program (children's health initiative for lifelong eating and exercise). It is an absolutely amazing systemic intervention to help reduce childhood obesity and other health problems in rural New Mexico. Had a phone interveiw yesterday and anticipate flying to ABQ next week for a face-to-face.

Ahhh.... mountains! Wish me luck!!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Irish eyes are smilin'

This year, as I do every year, I went to our favorite local pub and painted faces for St. Patrick's Day. Normally, we have a blast... and we make a LOT of money. Today, however, we had less than a blast, and only made some money. Note to self: hot temperatures, crowds, and long lines make parents of small children cranky and C-H-E-A-P!! Next time St. Paddy's falls on a Saturday, I'm charging. Forget the free face painting stuff. $1 tip for five kids?!? You've got to be kidding me. Charging would accomplish two things: no long lines, and a guaranteed payment per kid.

Still, I really truly love to paint kids' faces. They absolutely love it. If it weren't for some of their parents getting into near fist-fights over who was next in line, we all would have had a fantastic time. I did get to paint a preggers belly, and that was sure fun. We got to see lots of pipers, including a very cute 11-year-old-ish girl, who totally rocked! We also got to watch some dancers and some fantastic musicians perform. This is one of the best times of year to live in Austin, for sure. South by Southwest freeloading, St. Patrick's Day partying, and some really lovely weather. Outstanding, really.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Obligiatory SXSW Post

You have to, you know. If you live here, if you have to drive through it on your way back from work, and if you have a blog, you have to mention it at least once.

So. This is it.

Here's the deal with SXSW: it's expensive, and it's a big crazy too many people thing, and the one band you want to see? You ain't getting in, so forget about it. For some reason, that's even more so the case if you live here.

BUT... BUT...

The SXSW periphery, now that's pretty cool. You have a hard time not seeing live music in Austin anyway, even during the off-season months. But during SXSW? You're tripping over bands on your way out the front door, driving over the unconscious bodies of drummers hung over and face down on the pavement, and people are playing music for free everywhere. That's pretty cool.

For those so inclined, I've posted a new story on Glass Harmonica. It's another short one. In fact, I think GH will only feature short shorts. I just can't see anybody reading 30 pages of Coney Island fantasies on softly glowing LCD monitors.

This story is called "A Grotesque" because, well, it is. Grotesque in terms of doings but also in terms of broad brush plot. It breaks a couple of my cardinal rules, chief among them "Never write about a writer". But, oh well. Hope you enjoy it. I intend to keep these coming, so even if you don't enjoy it, there'll be a new one in a week or so.

Monday, March 12, 2007

A Lack of Topography

Drizzly night, neighbors making noises through their open windows and into ours.

Have I mentioned that I hate my job?

Lately mountains have seemed more important than ever. There's something essentially lacking in a place without mountains. Well, the mountains are lacking, for one. But beyond that, the mind-boggling surface area of a crenelated mountain ridge imparts a sense of mystery into the psyches of those who live nearby. Mountains are sacred, not because of their mere elevation, but because of their folds, because of what they keep hidden. It's not your world, and you can lose yourself pretty good up there if you forget which god to pray to.

But there aren't any around here. Oh, there are hills, and they're okay. But hills you can roll right over with your ever expanding rings of retiring suburban boomer habitat, and that's happening all around austin. There's nothing unconquerable in view; all the rivers are dammed, the hills sown with David Weekly seed and nothing's taller than Frost Bank. That's not good for people.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

An Unveiling of Somewhat Limited Interest

There it is. My new fiction blog: glassharmonica.blogspot.com. I don't know where it's going, or what it's purpose is, other than simple sharing of something I enjoy doing. I hope you check it out and find it worthwhile. And, listen to me, I will now make you a pledge. I, Ty BannGerald, do solemnly swear that I will make every effort to update the fiction blog, so help me Infinite Strangeness at the Heart of All Things, from time to time.

The first story is meant as an explanation of sorts, where the name comes from and all that, but also as a fair introduction to how I write, though it may be rougher around the edges than I'd like it to be. It's an orphan, the only salvageable part of another story in a completely different vein that just wasn't working at all. The host story was a peculiar comic fable that, for some bizarre reason, had this gothic horror tale rising up in it like a sort of cyst. The two elements were quite unhappy together, so I performed surgery. Lo and behold, it's the parasite that survived.

And now, I realize that one shouldn't attempt to answer questions that haven't been asked, so I leave you to it. Enjoy. Or not. It's up to you really.

I'll make sure to note here when Glass Harmonica is updated, as it will be er... rather irregular. The other project simmers along, and will be altogether more fun than this one. But I think they will complement each other rather nicely.

Huh. I spelled "complement" right the first time. That never happens.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

The Usual


But this time with an answer!

So, the other day I was in the car with a friend of mine, and he asked what I was up to, and I answered with some lamentation about my then job hunt woes, to which he countered, "You doing any writing?"

"Oh, well, some..."

"I also include that in the scope of 'how you doing'," he said.

"The thing is, I don't really liked to talk about myself," I answered.

And the sad, sick part of it is this: it's absolutely true. I don't like to talk about myself, I don't like to share whatever creative project I'm working on, I don't want people reading my work unless I trust them implicitly. I wrap up so much of my self-identity in these things and I'm afraid that rejection of them will be rejection of me, so I hide them. And you know what? That sucks. It won't do. Not at all. I'm working to change that.

This website's been a big part of that. I'm constantly amazed when I find out that someone has read and, often, enjoyed what I've written here. Yeah, I'm sure that not everything I've written has been regarded as a gem by everyone, but I've gotten a surprising amount of positive feedback, including that most positive of all feedback: return visitors.

So, I'm going with that. I'm expanding. I've got the one secret project in the works that I've already alluded too, but I'm also going to start a different website just for my fiction. And yeah, some people are bound to hate it/mildly dislike it/find it obnoxious/pretentious/derivative, all my fears. But I'm doing it anyway.

Er... but it's not ready yet.