The Aftermath

Oh, hi there.

If your only interaction with me is this blog, you might be wondering what happened to NaNoWriMo. Actually, if your only interaction with me is this blog, I have failed on multiple levels, but let’s focus on one dangling plot thread of life at a time. In November, I decided to do the National Novel Writing Month challenge of writing 50,000 words in 30 days. The first day went well and by day three or four, I was up to just over 4,000 words. Then life really happened.

As you may have read here before, my wife Nahleen has multiple sclerosis and lupus. She started to fight an infection. Then I got bronchitis. Then I got the flu. Then she had an exacerbation, and we’ve been dealing with that ever since. Amongst all of that our beloved Cleo kitty was in and out of the vet. Just now, after two different treatments for Nahleen, it feels like we’re just starting to crawl out of the last 2-3 months and find more stable ground.

In early February, while still in the thick of it, I stopped performing. Yes, remember how I’m in the improv groups The You Convention and TMA (The Meaningless Acronyms)? Remember how I started a show called The Corey Blake Experience? Well, my experience hasn’t been all that fun lately and instead of having to drop out of a show or cancel it entirely at the last minute, I decided to put things on hold for two months. So if you’ve been to one of those shows in the past month and didn’t see me, that’s why. (I should note that all three shows are still happening without me, even The Corey Blake Experience. They’re funny people, you should check them out!) This is the first time I’ve not been regularly performing every week or so in at least 5 years. It’s the first time I’ve put acting and performing on hold in… 20 years, maybe? So it feels a little weird. To be honest though, I haven’t really had a chance to think about it much. I’ve mostly been spending time with Nahleen at doctors, calling insurance companies, trying to get medications refilled, helping her with injections, and just spending time with her. Time with her is precious. In between all that, I’m still working at MobileCause and writing for Robot 6. Both jobs have been incredibly compassionate and understanding during this time. And the love, support and help we’ve received from our family and friends has been unbelievable. People have dropped off home-cooked meals, picked up groceries, found just the right cat food, mailed care packages, helped do laundry, walked me through removing an IV over Skype (!), and more. Much of it was coordinated through Facebook, which was both fascinating and miraculous to experience. Be as jaded as you like about Internet culture and social media, but it saved us these last few months.

It’s really been an exhausting, heart-breaking, and painful few months, but I’m not without gratitude. It’s shown me that the selfless and giving acts of people can make up for a lot of that struggle. It’s taught me that asking for help is OK. It’s actually more than OK. It allows those that care about us to not feel so helpless. It keeps us from becoming isolated in our misery. I really can’t recommend it enough. Of course, I’ll forget this lesson if/when something similar happens because the world teaches us to go it alone and never ask for help. The individual is supposed to push on, never realizing that their community can push together and disperse the burden.

Anyway, so that’s what’s been going on. For at least the next month, I’ll be focusing on enjoying time with Nahleen as she slowly recovers. While I’m not performing for now, so she doesn’t get sick of me staring at her face, I may do some more writing. Maybe continue with what I started for NaNoWriMo. But to be honest, I’m not exactly sure. I haven’t had this much empty, unreserved time in a long time. Maybe some time-wasting face-staring is exactly what is in order.

Day 1 of NaNoWriMo: 1,671 words

Day 1 complete. 1,671 words. A smidge ahead of the average to get to 50,000 words by November 30th (assuming we count title, author and chapter headers).

That also completes chapter one! It’s more like a prequel chapter, but I kind of like shorter chapters.

I think I’ll be blogging brief updates as I go too. I probably won’t write every day due to other commitments, but I’m aiming for weekends and about 2-3 days during the week days.

Also another note about the book. I put it under Science Fiction. I went back and forth with that. It was Fantasy first but it’s not high fantasy with elves and what-not. But it’s not hard sci-fi either, like with space ships. There is a fantastical backdrop that’s very light sci-fi but it’s not really the focus. I just wasn’t sure what genre to put it under. Probably doesn’t really matter for the sake of NaNoWriMo but I felt the need to clarify.

Thank you so much for the support and encouragement so far!

Off to bed! Will write more tomorrow.

50,000 words in 30 days

Cheap mock-up of book cover*

Starting in less than 2 hours National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo) begins. And I’m participating. Which means I’m attempting to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

GULP

I decided to do this a day or two ago. I have no outline. I have a very busy month ahead writing for Robot 6 (check out my latest column about the newest Facebook craze, Bitstrips), bringing The Corey Blake Experience back to Neon Venus (it’s your second chance to catch me performing with both of my current improv groups – don’t miss it or it could be your last chance), performing at The Improv Space (every Thursday night at 8 PM!), working at my new job, and whatever else I do (I can’t even keep it straight). This could very well be a complete and utter disaster. Needless to say, I’m not really expecting to hit the 50K goal. I keep telling myself that whatever I write is more than what I had before. Even if it’s all garbage, at least I got things moving and tried a new way to create.

My book was an idea I’ve had burbling around in my head for years, maybe a decade or more. At various times, I’ve considered it a web series, a comic book, a web-comic, and a graphic novel. Technically writing a script is considered breaking the loose rules of NaNoWriMo, but they don’t really hold anyone to it. You’re categorized a “rebel” and you can pretty much do what you want with the month. But a 50,000-word graphic novel is massive. So maybe I’ll start it as a straight prose book. Maybe I’ll borrow from cartoonist Terry Moore and mix comics and prose. The whole thing is an experiment for me, so I’ll borrow from my weekly improvisation shows and just see where it takes me. NaNoWriMo released a pep talk from James Patterson today and he briefly referenced Art Spiegelman, the guy who created the Pulitzer-winning graphic novel Maus. That made me feel good about not backing down from doing it as a comic. It’s the language and format that I’ve spent more time consuming and studying. So we’ll see.

The story itself. I wrestled with which idea to pursue but I knew pretty quickly it would be this one. I have a comedy web-comic that I’ve been writing, and I definitely want to look into writing more comedy again. But this is not a comedy. As I’ve conceived it, it’ll probably be kind of depressing actually. Again, we’ll see where it takes me. I’m sure there will be moments of levity, but it’s meant to address through metaphor a lot of my feelings and emotional responses to Nahleen’s diagnoses first with multiple sclerosis and then with lupus. It may very well end up being a very clumsy and sophomoric expression, but I think I’m long overdue to finally write this.

Some will start writing at midnight. I’m about to head to bed for work tomorrow. And then tomorrow night, I’m going to dive in. Please have patience with me as I may be more tired than normal over the next 30 days. If you’re doing NaNoWriMo this month, be one of my writing buddies! Or just wish me luck! I’ll probably need it.

*Credit Where Credit Is Due Department: The temporary cover above is cropped from this free wallpaper image.

Introducing… The Corey Blake Experience!

The Corey Blake ExperienceLook at that thing! It’s just ridiculous but somehow it’s really going to exist. Starting October 12 and every second Saturday night until we’re kicked out, I’m going to be doing a late night live comedy show at Neon Venus! And yes, the title really is The Corey Blake Experience! That awesome flyer was made by Jim Maloy. I cracked up the instant I saw it.

While this may sound like a very self-indulgent one-man show, that couldn’t be further from the truth. This is me bringing together the two improv teams that currently tolerate my presence and another group I’m friends with for some shenanigans and tom-foolery. Who knows, maybe we’ll throw in some other surprises too!

I’m really happy with these two groups I’m in so it’s a thrill for me to get the chance to show them off to you. Opening the show will be The You Convention, one of the home teams of The Improv Space in Westwood. We perform there every Thursday night in the 8:00 hour for only $5. I really enjoy this team. About half of our original line-up has changed and I think we’ve really found the right dynamic. We all clicked pretty quickly and have found a great chemistry. We usually start each show off with what is called scene painting, where we create the room we’ll be existing in based on your suggestion. I’ve never done anything like it and it really creates a grounded show with a lot of fun discovery. For everyone who can’t make it out Thursday nights or get to the west side, here’s your chance to finally catch us. It’s not a school night and it’s more centrally located. No excuses!

Next up for The Corey Blake Experience will be O.N. Improv, the Antelope Valley’s only improv team. Needless to say I’m not in this group because I don’t live in the Antelope Valley. Where is the Antelope Valley, anyway? I have no idea either but it’s supposed to be really far away and for some reason they think it’s a great idea to drive for miles to do a show with us once a month. We’re thrilled to have them! They bring a lot of energy, enthusiasm and silliness. And I love the idea of growing the improv community by bringing people from outside the LA area in so we can all learn and be influenced by each other. I’m hoping they’ll invite some of us out for a show in their faraway land so we can return the favor.

Closing out the night will be T.M.A. (The Meaningless Acronyms). This team is so new, we don’t have a Facebook page yet. But we do have this cobbled together page on ImprovTeams.com (that’s a neat platform for improv groups, by the way; still rough around the edges but a lot of potential). I was invited to join this team and we’ve been getting our feet wet with monthly shows in Hermosa Beach opening for Jump Start about once a month. We’ll appear there as long as they’ll have us but we thought it was time to get more stage time because we’re desperate stage whores. T.M.A. has really clicked into place very quickly, with a style that embraces absurd characters and situations. It’s fast-paced, loose and playful. We’re still experimenting with our format but we’re primarily long form after a game to kick things off. We’ve gotten fantastic responses from the Hermosa Beach audiences so now it’s time to invade Hollywood.

If you’ve never seen me perform, or haven’t in a long time, this is the perfect opportunity. A late night party in happenin’ Hollywood. It’s not on a school night and it’s only $5 for a metric ton of comedy. Also, if you don’t show up, they’ll kick us out and I’ll cry alone and dejected. So there’s all kinds of incentives!

Here are the details:

When? Saturday, October 12, 2013
No but when? 10:15-11:30 PM
Where? Neon Venus
No but where? 7023 Melrose Ave., Hollywood, CA 90038
How much? $5
Facebook invite? Facebook!
OK? OK!

Bonus fun fact: In case you are a philistine, the flyer is based off the album cover by Karl Ferris used for The Jimi Hendrix Experience album Are You Experienced?.

Help! Save me, Marvelous Man!

Stan Lee’s World of Heroes YouTube channel just got significantly better because I’m in one of the videos! I was thrilled to get to work with director Sean Becker and writer/actor Jeff Lewis again, this time for Episode 6 of Chatroom of Solitude. The episode stars Colin Ferguson (Eureka) as Marvelous Man, Annie Sertich (The Groundlings, correspondent for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno) as Sheila Marvelous, Vince Caso (The Guild) as Josh Marvelous, and Laura Ortiz (Holliston) as Tabitha Marvelous. Jeff Lewis (The Guild, The Jeff Lewis 5-Minute Comedy Hour) also shows up as Dirty Math Teacher.

It was a lot of fun to be a part of this. Colin really went above and beyond for our scene, as did the excellent crew. You’ll see me in one more episode, so go subscribe!

WTF Comics

Here’s a video made through a spontaneous team-up with Weyward Sisters Productions. It was great fun to meet them and collaborate on this. Hopefully it’s enjoyable whether you know about comic books or not. In case it helps, go through the jump for the back story and info on how this was made through the magic of Facebook.

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What is Corey Reading?

I’m sure you all ask yourself that every single day of your life.

In addition to my writing for Robot 6, the comics news blog at Comic Book Resources, I also chime in on their weekly What Are You Reading? column whenever I can. Sadly it’s not as regularly as I wish.

Anyway, I thought I would keep a record of what I’ve reviewed in that column. To be honest, I don’t like writing reviews, so I try not to think of them that way but I do like talking about cool comics I’ve read, and lamenting when something I thought would be cool misses the mark.

Click through the links to read the entire column that includes my thoughts on what’s listed below. I’ll add to this post as more go up at Robot 6.

July 29, 2012:

  • The Sandman: Doll’s House [recolored edition] by Neil Gaiman, Sam Keith, Mike Dringenburg, et al.
  • The Gutters by Ryan Sohmer, Ed Ryzowski, et al.
  • Comic Critics by Sean Whitmore and Brandon Hanvey
  • What Were You Raised by Wolves? by Vera Brosgol

August 26, 2012:

  • Emo Boy, Vol. 2: Walk Around with Your Head Down by Steve Emond
  • A Cartoonist’s Worldview by various (The Guardian)
  • Insufferable by Mark Waid and Peter Krause

September 16, 2012:

  • Elmer by Gerry Alanguilan
  • Freeway by Mark Kalesniko
  • Superman #423 & Action Comics #583: “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” by Alan Moore and Curt Swan

September 23, 2012:

  • Little Nothings: My Shadow in the Distance by Lewis Trondheim
  • Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy and Paul Maybury
  • Tarantula by Mark Kalesniko

October 21, 2012:

  • Cuba: My Revolution by Inverna Lockpez and Dean Haspiel
  • Cul de Sac by Richard Thompson
  • Rachel Rising, Vol. 1: The Shadow of Death by Terry Moore

November 25, 2012:

  • Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton
  • Love and Rockets: Maggie the Mechanic by Jaime Hernandez
  • The Walking Dead, Vol. 15: We Find Ourselves by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard

December 16, 2012:

  • Archie: The Married Life Book One by Michael Uslan, Paul Kupperberg and Norm Breyfogle
  • Walt Disney’s Donald Duck: Lost in the Andes by Carl Barks
  • Avengers vs. X-Men #0 by Brian Michael Bendis, Jason Aaron and Frank Cho
  • Green Lantern #1 by Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke
  • Tales Designed to Thrizzle #1 by Michael Kupperman

January 6, 2013:

  • The Complete Peanuts: 1950-1952 by Charles M. Schulz
  • The Adventures of Hergé by José-Louis Bocquet, Jean-Luc Fromental and Stanislas Barthélémy
  • RASL, Vol. 1: The Drift by Jeff Smith

April 14, 2013:

  • Owly, Vol. 2: Just a Little Blue by Andy Runton
  • You’ll Never Know, Book Two: Collateral Damage by C. Tyler
  • Kill All Monsters by Michael May and Jason Copland

April 28, 2013:

  • The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg
  • A Friendly Game by Joe Pimienta and Lindsay Hornsby
  • X-O Manowar, Vol. 1: By the Sword by Robert Venditti and Cary Nord

May 19, 2013:

  • Harbinger, Vol. 1: Omega Rising by Joshua Dysart and Khari Evans
  • Thor: The Mighty Avenger, Vol. 1 by Roger Langridge and Chris Samnee
  • Eve of the Ozarks #1: Guardians of the Bluffs by Gustav Carlson

May 26, 2013:

  • Amulet, Book One: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi
  • Rust, Vol. 1: Visitor in the Field by Royden Lepp
  • Minor Acts of Happiness #1 by Adriana Ferguson and Kristen Van Dam