Coffee Con instead of Comic Con.

I could not make it to Comic Con this year (sniff!). But I did go to Coffee Con. A little convention about my favorite drink, my only drug, my brain lubricator for writing stories: coffee! I slurped lotsa coffee samples. Mostly hot with no cream or sugar. Still yummy.

mr espressoI took a selfie near the Mr. Espresso booth (oakwood roasted coffee in Oakland since 1978). I am not good at selfies. It took a few tries. I wonder if you really wanna see my face fill the photo with very little else. I’ll try again sometime. I still wonder why the front camera on a phone shows a mirror image (writing is reversed) while the photo turns out non-mirror (I can read the writing). Peerless Coffee (roasted in the SF Bay area since 1924) invited me to pose with them. They know a coffee lover when they see one.peerless coffee tea black medicineBlack Medicine! Coolest name for coffee EVER! I had them take several photos to get this one right. I bought a bottle and drank it today at brunch. Yummy! Very smooth! Comes in a cool metal bottle! You can buy it straight or as a latte. Yum. No, it does not cure disease. But it makes me happy. I shoulda taken a pic at the Torani booth. I love adding flavored sweetness to my coffee. I had a sample of their salted carmel syrup in some coffee. MMMMMMMM!!! And then another, and another, and another! Salted carmel flavor beats vanilla (which I still love). A nice lady at the booth noticed me loving the samples, and I got a bottle of salted carmel syrup in sugarless. I put some in the Black Medicine I bought. Very good, although I admit that regular would taste even better. The lady talked to me about sweeteners, Torani is working on making sugarless taste better. She also recommended that it I wanted more salted carmel syrup, I should check Cost Plus, Safeway might not have the variety. I’ll find out when my supply gets low. coffee mad scientistThere was a mad scientist type of display put on by Flywheel Coffee Roasters. Yes, this is a coffee making machine. I wonder if superpowers are involved in the brewing process. If I can drink their coffee at their San Francisco shop, I will have to visit and listen for cries of “Yes, master, yes, ha ha ha ha ha!” while the coffee is brewed. I need art of Holly enjoying an iced coffee. She loves coffee as much as I do. Maybe Holly should have an adventure at a coffee shop sometime. I am planning scenes of Holly being depressed and drinking ten iced mochas. (Remember Q of STNG ordering ten chocolate sundaes, saying he was in a really bad mood?)

Read to make your mind soar, not sore!

Scripting Change is doing another anthology of short stories and poetry. Holly’s first story is in last year’s Scripting Change: Seeing Past Sickness, which was about students dealing with long term illness. It was so fun to see Holly in print, even though her cape color changed later.

This year, Scripting Change is about literacy. The theme: Opening Worlds with Words. This would work well with Holly, her being a writer.

Maybe my story would be about Holly battling an evil english teacher/supervillain who can force people to absorb and live really depressing books. (I remember an old Hitchcock villain saying to the heroine, “Don’t you know that life is a foul stye?”) But Holly would fight back with books that are joyous and fun. Hmm, I will toy with this idea. Maybe have Holly become depressed, evil, amoral characters? Maybe have reality morph with the books?

This hearkens back to an english teacher I had in high school who told a girl doing a report on a book based on the Dark Shadows soap opera, “Sounds like a sex novel to me!” WHAT! A!! JACKASS!!!! Teachers like that kill love of reading and do NOT belong in that profession. I remember the good teachers, and they outnumber the bad ones, but the bad ones leave a foul taste that lingers for decades. Students should discover reading is fun adventure, it lets your imagination soar, it should not be a chore.

Regiment reading, and kids will hate it. Let kids read what they like, and their like will grow into love. (Although they should read something besides comic books if they ever want to write for Marvel, I have heard Marvel executives say that. And I love comic books.)

Keef and Justin, you are so going into my novel!

keef-justin-meOkay, bit parts. But I have told them both already that they are going in.

I was at a Keef Knight presentation last Friday night at CA College of the Arts in San Francisco. That’s Keef Knight to the right, and Justin Hall (lookit the size of him!) to the left at the little reception afterwards. READ. KEEF’S. WORK!!!! Keef is “bringing the funny back to the funny pages” in The K Chronicles, T.H.I.N.K and The Knight LIfe by comic-writing about race, politics, his family life with a sweet wife and kids, Star Wars prequels, and other smart and geeky stuff. And if you are at a comic con and you are all grown up like me, stop by Prism Comics, say hi to Justin, and buy some slice-of-life comic books. You might get a BIG Justin hug (well, maybe if you tell him Dave Strom sent you).

As always, I loved Keef’s presentation and so did the audience (not surprising, considering they were mostly budding cartoonists). Keef seemed a little concerned that the cartoons he showed were a bit depressing (George Zimmerman, and a black young man being corralled by cops for buying a belt, and the Supreme Court as a human centipede, okay that last one is funny no matter what). I told him that his cartoons cannot depress me (I love his comics too much for that), what did depress me was Keef not getting a TV deal due to an Hollywood exec killing all scripted shows in his department in favor of reality TV. UGH. Remind me to tell you about Daisy of Love sometime.

Keef’s superpower: I once asked Keef what it would be. He said that once on a San Fran bus ride, he looked out the window at a pedestrian, and the pedestrian vomited. Next stop, he looked at another pedestrian, and again the vomit. Third stop: look, pedestrian, vomit. Hmm, would Keef be Heroic Hurl? Nah, I’d want Keef’s power to relate to his work ethic (toughest I have ever seen) and/or his wit. I just have not figured that out yet.

It was great to see Justin Hall again. He’s a head cartoonists/creator at Prism Comics, a nonprofit organization that supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender comics, creators, and readers, but they let me read their comics too. First time I met Justin, I noted that his pectoral muscles were very visible under two layers of clothing. Last night, I sensed that I was standing next to a wall. I turned around. It was Justin’s back. Another Prism guy once described Justin as a ray of sunshine. Justin is a happy, cheerful guy, at least from what I have seen at comic cons. Once Justin was telling me about the tiring work he had ahead at the end of WonderCon (packing up the booth and so on). I looked up at this bodybuilder-standing-tall gay guy, and I said, “So for you, this is what passes for tired?”

Justin’s superpower: the ability to absorb energy/force directed at him and redirect it, most likely by adding super-strength and by creating force blasts through his super-mighty pecs.

Meeting Keef and Justin will have to substitute for the San Diego Comic Con this year. I can’t make it. I will be writing instead. I should be behind a comic con table, selling stuff, and I need to make stuff to sell.

P.S. Keef gave me a hug. Not as engulfing as a Justin hug, but I admit it did make me feel good. I am Keef’s official NorCal fanboy. My T-shirt reads “Finish writing your novel, fanboy!” I had Keef make it for me for his upcoming “I was a teenage Michael Jackson impersonator” graphic novel.

Sorry, Mr. Tovar: an open mic background music lament.

I did a reading tonight from a new Holly story (working title: Super Sleeping Beauty, here is the part I read). It went well, considering that I did NOT expect to be called (I was number five on the waiting list.) The audience looked happy with my story.

nothing-in-los-angelesAnyway. I used background music. The soundtrack for a movie I saw at Cinequest this year: Nothing in Los Angeles by Alexander Tovar. I used Just a Cool (jazzy beat) and Loving in Los Angeles (sweet violins). I met Alexander and he is a nice guy. so I am plugging that soundtrack here. Go to iTunes and check that soundtrack out! Next time I use that music at an open mic, Mr. Tovar, I promise I will mention it!

My lesson: make my announcements just before I start reading! And use more indie type music. We small time artists should support each other.

caseywickstrom-a3373231080_10Another musician at the open mics I go to, Casey Wickstrom, said he’d really like if I’d use his music sometime. He is a fan of my work. Check out Blues Song #666 from his Casey Wickstrom album and you’ll hear why I am a fan of his work!

P.S. I might rewrite part of the story for the Just a Cool track: make it fit the jazzy beat better. Music influences my writing.

My writing SUCKS! (And a REAL boxing Holly!)

Well, just the beginning of a story I was going to push out. I read the first few pages out loud at a writing meetup on Tuesday. It hurt my ears! It felt like it was half backstory, half fat, and one-eighth protein.

The beginning of  a story must give the reader a reason to read on. Fat backstory does NOT do that. So I cut the beginning down by a page, and might even cut more. And I put in more laughs. Also, I have written the story in first person, and I might change some parts to Stan Lee-esque third person (the parts Hollly is narrating to her barber).

Sigh, this story is taking SO long. But the end will be worth it. At least I am putting more stories into my pipeline.

holly-holmAnother note: Tina Gibson just posted on Facebook about a female boxer, Holly Holm: a blonde, strong, undefeated boxer. My superhero Holly Hansson is five inches taller at six-foot-one, blue eyes instead of green, bigger nose and bigger, um, chest. And my Holly is not a pro boxer. I should watch some Holly Holm vids, maybe I’ll get inspired as to how my Holly should fight.

Hmm, Holly Hansson could look a bit like this, in her happier moments. But in addition to what I already mentioned, my Holly’s hair would be bigger.

The B Word

I have a character named Bunni Bubblez (working name). Holly’s most hated super foe. Bunni is a mind controller who barely has a mind of her own. A curvy sexy ditzy bimbo who hates Holly every bit as much as Holly hates her. Like Holly, she has an impressive bustline. Unlike Holly, Bunni likes to flaunt hers.

Bunni focusses her mind control power through her breasts. Although she does not take off her blouse, or tank top, or bikini top, or her wet T-shirt to do that. (Not that Bunni is averse to taking her top off. But my stories are PG-13 at the most.)

I have had Bunni (no one else) use the B word. Boobs. Or boobies. But I think I will edit that out. Why? Not great for kids, and I want a broad audience. And a lot of women dislike that word (not as much as the other B word). So I think I should avoid it. So what should I do when Bunni mentions her breasts? (And she will.)

There was a great standup comedian at Red Rock who would blip out his swear words. When he seemed about to say one, he would barely start the word, then an instance of silence, then he would continue talking. The audience would mentally fill in the word. Like Alfred Hitchcock said, that gets the audience working.

So I think I’ll do that for Bunni. Not silence, but have her use silly words for bosom. Like biggie bubbles, or bouncy balloons, or jolly jigglies, or softy globes, or creamy cones, or some other cutesy name. It will take me some effort to make a long list of silly substitutes, but it will be more clever than saying boobies. Dippy, ditzy names that Bunni would use for breasts. That will make the audience work a little to replace the silly term with the real one. Bunni says, “Tee hee! Giggle! I’ll just use my jolly jigglies!” And the reader will go, “Huh? Oh, yeah!”

I’ll see how this works. Making out a list could be interesting. If I laugh while making the list, I will be on the right track.

Bunni might say boobytize. Or maybe she should say hippotize. She’d never say hypnotize. Too big a word.

The Superheroine Word Problem

Go to Amazon, select Kindle from the Search menu, then search for “superheroine.” First book on the list contained the words “getting randy.” Another book title contains “Booty Call.” Most of the books on the first page of search results are under the “Synne City Superheroines in Peril” label. And the cover art for those books? Can you say butt cheeks? Or twin moons coming out early tonight? Superheroes so not have this problem.

The majority of the superheroine Kindle books that list high in searches are of the adults 18 years and over kind. I don’t want my Holly stories treading water there. Especially the Kittygirl story! Some of the superheroine Kindle books are for all ages. But you have to dig for them. (I bought one: Please Don’t Tell My Dad I’m a Supervillain by Richard Roberts, about a teen girl with super parents who discovers she is good at being a supervillain. Still trying to remember how I found it, I might have searched supervillain.)

At my latest open mic, a young lady told me she did not say “superheroine,” but “superhero” for both sexes. Perhaps I should use “superhero” to refer to Holly. She is the Superman of her universe, after all.

So I will call Holly a superhero first, a superheroine second. If a teen girl can call herself a supervillain, Holly can call herself a superhero.