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by Jeff
Rated: 18+ · Book · Biographical · #1399999
My primary Writing.com blog.
Logocentric (adj). Regarding words and language as a fundamental expression of an external reality (especially applied as a negative term to traditional Western thought by postmodernist critics).

Sometimes I just write whatever I feel like. Other times I respond to prompts, many taken from the following places:

         *Penw* "The Soundtrackers Group
         *Penw* "Blogging Circle of Friends
         *Penw* "Blog City ~ Every Blogger's Paradise
         *Penw* "JAFBG
         *Penw* "Take up Your Cross

Thanks for stopping by! *Smile*
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January 25, 2022 at 4:56am
January 25, 2022 at 4:56am

As I mentioned in "2021 Reading List at the end of December, I spent a good chunk of the past year reading The Bible in its entirety. This was the first time I've read it all; prior to 2021 I had read bits and pieces and chunks of it (some way more than others) in concert with many church sermons over many years, and even read entire books independently, but this was my first foray into all 66 books.

Most people are familiar with the "big" ones. The gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Acts and Romans. Genesis and Revelation. Exodus, and Job, and maybe even the one that Samuel L. Jackson quotes in Pulp Fiction (Ezekiel). I read them all. And all the Psalms and Proverbs. Amos and Obadiah. Habakkuk and Haggai. Titus, Philemon, and Jude. It was ... a lot. But I'm glad I did it.

Last year, I used the bible translation I was most familiar with, the New International Version (NIV). It's a standard, middle-of-the-road translation somewhere between formal equivalence (a word-for-word translation into English from the original texts) and dynamic equivalence (updating the translation to take into account comprehension and readability for the target audience). It's the bible I've been carrying to church for years.

This year, my church decided to read it all the way through (following the reading plan and supplemental videos from The Bible Project  ) and has incorporated a Saturday morning bible study into our routine. This year I decided to read the New Living Translation (NLT), which is a popular translation with more dynamic equivalence, bordering on paraphrase. I'm really liking it so far. It's easier to get into the stories of the Bible with more straightforward text, especially for someone who didn't grow up in the church and isn't as familiar with the content.

Me on Saturday mornings in 2022:

This is actually part of a larger project I'm undertaking with my Bible reading. I decided sometime last year that I'm actually going to spend the next five years reading five different translations of the Bible. I'm going to read from both ends of the spectrum, both formal and dynamic equivalence, in an effort to get a better understanding of and exposure to the text.

As the pastor at my church is fond of saying, even if you take the religion out of it, the Bible as a piece of literature is fascinating. It's one of the oldest, most diverse, most translated books in history. There are more than twenty popular English translations of the Bible, not to mention hundreds other translations in both English and other languages. While I don't take the religion out of it because Christianity is my chosen religion, I'm looking forward to studying different translations and comparing and contrasting. I didn't come to faith until my 30s, and even now I struggle with the specifics of what I took on faith and signed up for. Then again, it's supposed to be a lifelong pursuit of greater understanding and deeper faith, so I might as well see where this journey takes me!

For those of you reading who also read the Bible, what translation do you read? What do you like and dislike about that translation? After 2022 I still have at least three more translations that I'll have to select. *Reading*

January 23, 2022 at 2:38am
January 23, 2022 at 2:38am

I finally signed up for a MasterClass subscription.

This has been something I've been interested in checking out ever since they first introduced James Patterson's writing class years ago. At the time, I think it was $99 for each class on a case-by-case basis. They've now introduced an annual subscription where you get access to all 100+ course offerings as part of the membership.

When you sign up, it asks you to select all the courses that interest you so that it can get an idea of what you want to learn.

I tried to be selective and still managed to bookmark 38 classes which is about a third of the total number of classes they currently offer. *Laugh* But so far, I'm really enjoying them. I'm currently taking James Patterson's class on writing (it only seemed fair to start with the very first one that appealed to me), and Tan France's Style For Everyone. Each class is broken up into anywhere from one to two dozen different lessons, and each lesson runs about ten minutes. So it's perfect for watching in little bite-sized increments that you can stop and start as needed.

So far, I'm really enjoying it. I've picked up a couple of tips from James Patterson that I'm going to try incorporating into my own writing process this year as I try to shake the rust off and jumpstart my creativity again, and I'm picking up a ton of fashion tips from Tan France which has been eye-opening because I generally hate clothes shopping and feel like I know so little about fashion that what's even the point. But I now know what a capsule wardrobe is, and am kind of excited to start putting one together! *Bigsmile*

They're adding new classes pretty regularly and, like I mentioned above, there are already over one hundred available. I can learn from experts in their field about everything from writing to fashion, from food/cooking to leadership, and from lifestyle to games/hobbies. For someone like me who has a lot of varied interests, this MasterClass thing is really *Cool*.

I'll be curious to see if watching MasterClasses cuts into my reading and other media consumption time this year, or if it's just another input that I'll be adding to an always-growing, ever-expanding list. Knowing myself the way I do, my money's definitely on the latter.
December 31, 2021 at 7:06pm
December 31, 2021 at 7:06pm
It's the end of 2021, which means it's time to review all the reading and listening I've done over the past calendar year. Here's how 2021 breaks down:

*Star* = favorite
*ThumbsUp* = also really enjoyed

Books (click to expand full list)

This year, I finished clearing out my Kindle of all the impulse buys and discount books that I've picked up over the years. I'm down to less than a dozen books to read, which is a good number I think. Now my goal is to not let it get out of hand again by finishing books before I buy new ones and keeping an equilibrium. I'm sure I'll ignore this and buy a bunch of books sooner or later. *Pthb*

At the end of 2020 I said I was going to read fewer books (and spend more time focusing on longer and/or more complex books. Well, I was half right. I still read 100 books this year, but the real surprise was that I read almost 10,000 more pages than last year and the average page length of the books I read increased from 248 pages to 365 pages. So technically I did read longer and more complex books than last year... I just also read substantially more than I did last year. *Think*

Podcasts (click to expand full list)

I did listen to significantly fewer podcasts this year than last year. I'm getting better about skipping podcast episodes that don't really hook me, and unsubscribing from podcasts when they become more miss than hit for me. I'm not sure how low my podcast numbers will go year over year because there's always something new to listen to and always some topic that I find interesting, but I no longer feel obliged to keep listening to stuff that I've listened to for years, even though I've lost interest.

Comics (click to expand full list)

I think I once again forgot to include the various comics that I skimmed through for work. It's still a goal of mine to actually to read more comics because I really enjoy them and I've been missing reading them over the past few years.

Scripts (click to expand full list)

I'm not putting any favorites or highly recommended on the script section of my reading list because a lot of the writers on this list are my friends and/or colleagues and I don't want to play favorites with my friends and business associates. *Smile*

TOTALS: 100 books, 885 podcasts, 19 comics, 44 scripts

According to Goodreads, my book reading resulted in the following stats:

         Total Pages Read: 36,520
         Average Pages Per Book: 365
         Shortest Book: 75 pages
         Longest Book: 1,281 pages

That's it for my 2021 reading... time to see what 2022 has in store! *Bigsmile*
September 20, 2021 at 12:30am
September 20, 2021 at 12:30am
PROMPT: Reveal a superpower you'd love to have and what you'd do with it.

I'm a bit of a pragmatist when it comes to the idea of superpowers. The powers I'd love to have are all things that I'd use for every day functionality. Would it be cool to be invulnerable or invisible? Sure, but my daily life doesn't involve getting into a lot of physical altercations or sneaking into places I'm not supposed to be. Would it be useful to have a healing factor? Absolutely. But, again, it feels like a waste of healing abilities to only need to recover from the occasional knick from a kitchen knife while cooking. I'd be tempted to choose immortality, but I think - on a long enough time horizon - being unable to die would be more of a curse than a blessing.

The power I'd love to have is either telekinesis or teleportation. While the latter would definitely be useful on a daily basis for avoiding the commute and visiting exciting places around the world, it would largely depend on the particulars of the ability. Could I take other people with me? What happens if I teleport into something by accident? Does teleporting have an audible or visual component that would make it obvious to everyone around that I just popped up somewhere.

That's why I think I'd probably go with telekinesis. The ability to move things with my mind would be incredibly useful; I'd never have to get up to get something out of the fridge again. I could unload the car and carry all the groceries upstairs with one trip. I could levitate myself and theoretically fly. I could really freak people out with a Ouija board.

In a modern world where superpowers are unheard of and there aren't Avengers and X-Teams running around all the time, I think telekinesis would be a subtle, very versatile superpower to have. Of course, if the world is overrun with superpowers and heroes and villains battling one another and destroying cities every other week, I might have to reconsider that invulnerability thing. *Bigsmile*
September 18, 2021 at 8:36pm
September 18, 2021 at 8:36pm
I'm not actively participating in the "30-Day Blogging Challenge ON HIATUS this month, but today's prompt caught my attention so I thought I'd do a little unofficial blogging and answer today's prompt anyway. *Smirk*

PROMPT: Take us through a day in your life at your job/career. Talk about some of the more important responsibilities you have as well as what your major tasks entail. It’s always interesting to see how others work

For anyone that doesn't know what my job is, I work in the business and legal affairs department of a movie studio. My specific job is to oversee the screen credits for all of our feature films and television series. In a nutshell, I'm responsible for:

*Bullet* Making sure the screen credits are accurate and delivered on time.

*Bullet* Making sure everybody is credited who needs to be.

*Bullet* Making sure our credits adhere to all legal requirements (contracts, guilds/unions, company precdents, etc.)

*Bullet* Communicate credit/legal requirements to other departments (marketing, finance, distribution, etc.) so everybody knows what requirements/restrictions are in place.

*Bullet* Review all ancillary materials (trailers, TV spots, posters, concession cups, merchandise, billboards, radio spots, co-promotional assets, etc.) to make sure legal requirements are being followed.

Ultimately, that means my job consists of two major parts: (1) working on the credits for our current shows, and (2) reviewing stuff to make sure those credits are right. What that looks like practically is a whole lot of time sitting at a computer, responding to emails and calling people on the phone. *Laugh*

The things about my job that are probably the most difficult are that I'm the only one that does what I do at the company, so I don't really ever get a break. Vacations, sick days, etc. are still spent near my phone and computer because anything I put off for a day or two ultimately is still something I'm responsible for handling. And since we're shooting movies all over the world at all times of year, the emails and requests are pretty much 24/7. If I work a normal 9am-6pm, there's a good chance that I'm still getting 20+ emails between the hours of 6pm-9am from the production shooting in Australia, or a location scout in South Korea, or coworkers at the sound stages in Atlanta who are getting caught up on emails before they start shooting for the day.

My work is basically a consistent deluge of questions and requests and clarifications on things, and I have to figure out time to actually work on the credits (review contracts, update my credits documents, work with our titles vendor to output actual credit files for the show, etc.) in between.

I start most mornings getting caught up on the emails I've missed from the night before. Answering the handful of questions that came in, keeping up on what's going on where in the world. I try to get started early enough that I can get some credits work done on one of our shows before marketing gets up and going, because once that happens, I'm getting a constantly flow of about 100-200 emails a day with assets to review.

"Please look at this set of character posters and let me know if there are any problems."

"Here's a press kit for the new movie, are all the credits right?"

"These are six different versions of the teaser trailer. Any issues with any of them?"

"Here's a set of 250 collectible trading cards. Are these okay?"

"Please review these 1,200 set photos and let us know if any of them should be removed from the keysets."

The tricky part is that a lot of these requests come with different deadlines. Some I have several days to address, others need responses within 24 hours, if not faster. So I'll set aside blocks of time to work on the credits (30-60 minutes at a time) where I can focus and make some real progress, and then I'll transition back to my emails and see what's come in over that period of time. I'll look at the deadlines attached to each request, respond to the time-sensitive ones right away, make a note of which ones I need to go back to later, and then transition back to doing the credits for one of our shows for a bit. Rinse and repeat for the rest of the day.

I'll usually check in at least once later in the evening, just to make sure nothing critical popped up during dinner and the kids' bedtime routine. And then I'll wake up and check my email first thing to do the same.

It's a really, really demanding job, but I also love what I do. Being able to contribute something tangible to the movies I enjoy watching as a fan is an amazing feeling, and my job has such a diverse blend of responsibilities that I never get bored. If I get tired of staring at contracts and credits documents, I have materials to review. If I get tired of materials to review, I have correspondence and calls with other departments to return. I get to talk to vendors and the producers and pretty much everybody at the company in some capacity or another. For a desk job, that's pretty cool. *Cool*
September 16, 2021 at 3:03pm
September 16, 2021 at 3:03pm
I was recently asked to name five people that I admire, and why. Never one to pass up the opportunity to formulate a list of some kind, I decided to give it some thought and actually post a non "The Soundtrackers Group blog post for once. *Bigsmile* For the purposes of this list, I'm going to try to come up with people from a variety of sources or disciplines, and to help narrow it down, I'm limiting it to people who are currently alive. In no particular order:

Kevin Feige. Is it wrong to put my boss on this list? *Laugh* Honestly, though, I greatly admire Kevin for both his talents as a producer, and the way he conducts himself in business. He's a visionary and a consummate professional. Most producers at his level (i.e., the very top of the A-list) get sidetracked by things like fame, big paydays, etc. But he always appears singularly focused on just doing the job of making good movies. The success and consistency of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is unequivocally one of the greatest achievements in the history of the film industry, and the MCU wouldn't exist without Kevin's steady, guiding hand. As someone aspires to produce film and television one day, he's one of the role models that I look up to.

Amanda Gorman. The youngest and most recent addition to this list, I discovered her like most people during her recitation at the presidential inauguration of Joe Biden. For someone so young, she has an amazing facility with words, and a remarkably wise and sophisticated worldview for someone her age. Poetry is one of those things that I don't feel that I do particularly well, and I don't particularly connect with in most cases, but hearing her poetry made me realize how impressive the medium can really be. She's on this list because, quite simply, she's able to do something with words and concepts that I'll never be able to do (but wish I could).

Ezra Klein. I consider myself an intellectual, but Ezra Klein is on another level. I'm consistently blown away by how smart he is, well versed in a number of different spheres of knowledge, and able to talk with people from all kinds of backgrounds with all kinds of expertise in an intelligent and rational way. While I don't agree with all of his positions on the issues, or his approach to everything, I always find myself intrigued by what he's thinking and talking about.

Barack Obama. He wasn't a perfect president by any stretch of the imagination, but the thing I admire most about our 44th POTUS is his eloquence as a public speaker, his commitment to public service, and his over-arching optimism. He's the first politician in a long time that feels authentic in his beliefs and the way he carries himself, whether I agree with him or not. I fully admit that this might be because I grew up getting familiar with politics during the waning years of the Clinton Administration and the missteps of the Bush Administration, so it's entirely possible that my admiration for Obama stems from the fact that he's the first politician who seemed decent, intelligent, and well-intentioned.

Dolly Parton. If you think Dolly Parton is just a country music singer, you don't know Dolly. *Wink* She's also a songwriter, actress, author, businesswoman, philanthropist, and humanitarian. She plays nine musical instruments, has a theme park named after her, is worth half a billion dollars, and is a member of Halls of Fame in a number of different disciplines. Between her professional success across a variety of mediums and her personal efforts to make the world a better place, I don't know how you can't not admire what this woman has accomplished during her seventy-plus years on the planet. *Smile*

If you aren't familiar with any one of the individuals above, I'd definitely recommend reading and learning more about them. They're all accomplished, interesting people, whether you find yourself on the same side of the political spectrum or not, and whether you identify with the work they do or not.
September 8, 2021 at 1:20am
September 8, 2021 at 1:20am
Inconvenient birthdays abound,
interconnected by our existence.
In ways both mundane and profound,
inevitably creating resistance.

Nothing like a child's birthday,
negating anniversary activities.
Nor will a holiday be quite as gay,
needing to split its festivities.

Over a long lifetime,
one birthday inconveniences more than most.
Once you've commit a crime,
on your eighteenth birthday you're toast.

Venues around the country agree,
verdicts are severe as a result.
Verily, if you do wrong at that apogee,
visualize being tried as an adult.

(16 lines, Trolaan  )
September 5, 2021 at 1:01am
September 5, 2021 at 1:01am
By the time the human population on Earth rounded the corner on eleven figures and headed straight down the interstate toward fifteen billion souls on the planet, something had to be done. That something was Retirement. Not to be confused with lowercase-r "retirement," which was still the age at which most people left their professional careers to enjoy their twilight years, capital-R "Retirement" was the age at which you were eliminated from the human population.

That age was 75. Sure, people tried to buy themselves more time, or went on the run, but for most, your 75th birthday was also the day you died. You had ten years to live your life after you retired, before you were permanently Retired. And thus the nations and the planet they existed on sustained their growth, unencumbered with caring for the elderly for an indeterminate number of years before they finally gave up the ghost.

Gus was well aware of all of this as the final six months of his 74th year elapsed. As an affluent member of society, he had exhausted all of the options that rich people tend to try when they're faced with a problem. He tried to see if there was someone he could bribe. He paid high-end attorneys and lobbyists to try and change the rules or find an exception. He considered how far his considerable assets could get him if he went on the run.

He was in the process of liquidating those assets in the final days of his life, preparing to live as a fugitive, when one of his attorneys called. His attorney had heard rumor that there was another way to live past 75 with his identity, assets, everything intact. The attorney confirmed that a retired friend of Gus', a former international banker named Walter, was in fact alive and well at the ripe old age of 84. It turns out that Walter hadn't suicided himself, or availed himself of the government's "humane" methods of euthanasia, or gone on the run. He continued to live it up, the lowercase-r "retirement" phase of his life about to turn the corner into an unheard-of second decade.

Naturally, Gus insisted on setting up a meeting. He had to know how Walter had accomplished the impossible.

Two days later, Gus was sitting across the table from Walter at a secluded cafe in London.

"Yes," Walter was saying. "I did find a way to extend my years on this planet. It wasn't easy, and the cost is high."

"You and I both know cost isn't a concern," Gus urged.

"I'm not talking about money," Walter said. "It a price paid by the soul."

Gus smirked. "We both know my soul is pretty much as unsalvageable as yours at this point."

Walter shrugged.

"I will relay to you what was relayed to me. Like you, as I approached my 75th birthday, I looked for some way, any way, to stave off the inevitable. Like you, my research led me to an old friend who apparently defied the odds and found a way to extend his life. Like you, I met with this person on the day of my 75th birthday."

Gus leaned in, eager to know more.

"My friend explained a loophole in the Retirement Statute. If you're willing to help enforce the Statute against others, for every Retirement you carry out, you get another year of your own."

"That's amazing," whistled Gus. "Yes, absolutely. Where do I sign up?"

"That's the thing," Walter said, with a hint of sadness. "It's a loophole that's now so widely exploited, it's hard to find candidates anymore. That was the case when my friend told me this nearly ten years ago, and it's only gotten more difficult."

Gus felt a tingle of foreboding crawl up his spine as Walter continued.

"My friend sought me out. Planted all the clues that led me to him so that, on my 75th birthday, he'd have an easy mark. As it turns out, though, I wasn't as easy a mark as he anticipated. I was able to gain the upper hand, kill him, and thus spent the entirety of my 75th year figuring out how to add another year. And another year after that, and another after that."

Gus was sweating. He looked around for something, anything he could use as a weapon, or something to defend himself with.

Gus gulped. "So how does this work now? Dueling pistols? Knife fight in the street?"

Walter clicked his tongue. "Well, my friend and I have one very important difference. He believed in giving his marks a sporting chance so that, if his time was up and someone like me earned their spot, that was how it was meant to be. Me? I'm not really that sporting. I poisoned your tea before you even sat down at the table."

Gus looked at his empty teacup and at his hand which was beginning to shake.

"Sorry old friend, but you understand." Walter continued. "I'm sure you would have done the same to me if our positions were reversed. After all, we both have unsalvageable souls, don't we?"

Walter stood up to leave. Gus tried to stand as well, but found that his legs weren't responding. His vision blurred, and his head was spinning.

"Don't worry," Walter said, patting Gus on the shoulder. "I used a synthetic toxin that I'm told is relatively painless. You'll lose all feeling in your body before your lungs and heart give out. In the meantime, enjoy the ambiance. This cafe really is delightful."

Walter shrugged on his coat, produced his wallet, and left several bills on the table.

"I'll leave a little extra for their trouble when they have to dispose of you," Walter said, giving his old friend a little salute. "Oh, and Gus? Happy Birthday."

(973 words)
September 1, 2021 at 6:00pm
September 1, 2021 at 6:00pm
On March 20, 2020, my daughter turned one year old. There were big plans that involved for this first birthday: tasty treats, games, and a big party with friends and family from all over, including grandparents who were going to fly in for the occasion.

There were just two teeny tiny problems with these big plans.

First, the week prior, pretty much the entire state went into quarantine because of COVID-19. Flights had to be canceled, plans to gather were scratched, and businesses didn't have anyone working to fulfill the orders for the treats and other things we had ordered. We literally went from, "Yay, big celebration!" to "Looks like we're celebrating at home" almost overnight.

Second, for those of you who still remember the early days of the pandemic, this was also in those first few weeks where people were freaking the fuck out and panic buying everything. You'd go to the grocery store (assuming you could even get in thanks to the long lines) and entire shelves would be raided. No toilet paper or paper towels anywhere. No milk, no dry or canned goods, no basic necessities like, for example, the ingredients for a birthday cake, or even a prepackaged cake mix.

We were quickly headed for a first birthday with no people, no treats, nothing.

Thankfully, we had enough raw ingredients at home to make a semblance of a cake. Flour and sugar, the last of our eggs, some of our precious little milk left... I even made a chocolate frosting by melting down chocolate chips and old Hershey chocolate bars. Some of the ingredients were pretty old and stale, and we had to use regular sugar instead of powdered sugar for the frosting, so it wasn't the best cake I've ever made... but it was her first time having anything chocolate and, well, she seemed to think it was okay. *Bigsmile*


After what started as real discouragement about all the things the pandemic had taken from our daughter in terms of experiences for her first birthday, we ultimately walked away from the day really treasuring the simplicity of what we were forced to make do with instead. Rather than a big party with lots of friends, it was a small, intimate celebration with just the four of us. Rather than a ton of presents and pomp and circumstance, we opened the small handful of presents we had already purchased, wrapped in holiday and other non-birthday wrapping paper that we had available already. And rather than buying fancy, professionally-decorated treats, the whole family participated in making a cake together from scratch.

It wasn't the birthday party that any of us had hoped for just a few weeks prior, but in looking back on that day I'm not sure there would have been anything else that could have made it as memorable as it was, even against the backdrop of panicked scrambling to adjust to living in pandemic conditions.

(496 words)
May 29, 2021 at 3:20am
May 29, 2021 at 3:20am
After 9.5 years at our current apartment community (3 years in our first unit, then the past 6.5 years in our current unit), we're officially moving! It's been almost two years since we started fostering-to-adopt our kids and after a global pandemic kept us largely at home for half of that time, we came to the realization that we might need a little more space than our cozy little two-bedroom, two-bath, 950 square-foot apartment can provide!

We ended up getting a four-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bath townhouse with just over 1,800 square feet of space. It's a big step up, both in terms of the type of place we're renting, and the amount it costs, but I realized that it definitely follows a pattern we've set for ourselves. When we first moved down here for college, my wife and I spent about 10 years living the "student" life (i.e., small, cheap, and not-very-nice apartments). Once we both had solid jobs and were on our career paths, we upgrade to the apartment complex we currently live at, which is an upscale "young professionals" type place: luxury amenities (i.e., quality finishes in the apartment, a community that has features like pools, gym, outdoor activity space, etc.). And now, about 10 years later, we're leaving this behind for an "urban family" environment: a house-sized place, albeit one with a higher population-density than single-family homes in the suburbs.

I'm excited to see how we make use of our new space. I'll have my own bedroom/office that will allow me to continue to work from home without my desk being in the middle of the living room. Our kids will each have their own bedroom. The place has a nice soaking tub in the master bedroom, and a ginormous pantry that sure beats the limited cabinet space we have in our current kitchen.

But this process has also reminded me of how much I hate moving. Which is strange because it's been almost seven years since we last had to do it, but once I started to schedule the movers and work my way through the checklist of things to do, it all came rushing back. Moving is a huge pain, and there's always something else that needs to be done. No matter how well organized or prepared, something will definitely fall between the cracks and require fixing later.

Still, based on our past track record, hopefully this place will hold us over for a number of years until we're ready to take the next step, which is actually buying a single-family home of our own. I just hope that it's not another ten years until we get to that point!

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