Around the Writer’s Block [Secret Life of an Expat]

I have such a terrible case of writer’s block right now that it’s all I can do to write this sentence. It started a week ago, on the reception of some bad news, coupled with a small health issue requiring me to “take it easy” this week. Since then, I’ve (unreasonably) given myself permission to do absolutely no writing. It’s not just writer’s block, it’s wallowing in non-productiveness just for the sake of wallowing. It’s so comfortable in my state of unease that I actually prefer to be miserable rather than to put in the effort to improve things. It’s certainly easier than trying. So it’s been a week of television and movie watching, fluff reading, nap taking… and it’s starting to eat at my soul. I’m grumpy. I’m not sleeping well. I doubt myself, my talent, my entire existence on this planet. I haven’t been able to bear sitting at my computer for more than a few minutes a day. But knowing I had to write this column, a war started to rage in my head. The fight between wanting to blow off my Sunday night deadline (that way I could feel even worse about myself, giving me even more reason to wallow for a few more days), and knowing that if I just forced myself to type for 10 minutes, my brain might start to wake up. Now that I’m in the third paragraph, the resistance is breaking down. Still, the thought of returning to my current writing project fills me with helpless dread. Isn’t there something I could watch on TV instead? No, no more. A week is long enough. Tomorrow, I will throw myself at the project. I will take little steps. I will open my folder of notes and reread...

Seasonal Gaming: Josh’s Picks for Spring [Game On]

After months and months of steel gray skies here in Columbus I just can’t fathom another day of the biting flat-land wind gusts. However, it occurred to me that the games I play tend to synchronize with the seasons in either theme or presentation.  With spring (thank God) rapidly approaching, it got me thinking about what types of games I’ll likely be re-visiting and also which ones I’m excited about.  So, between shooting The Packrat Show and contributing here on FaN, what will I be popping in for Mr. Sunshine’s return?  Read on for a couple of my old favorites and then a quick look at two titles I’m really excited for this spring. Viva Piñata Incestuous undertones aside, Viva Piñata was a surprise favorite for me.  The sickeningly bright color scheme and undeniable cuteness of raising baby piñatas in a beautiful garden you can customize however you’d like was immediately appealing to me. Its dream-like orchestral score combined with fun mechanics that blend a little bit of Sim City with a little bit of Pokemon made for an experience that would satisfy even the most ambitious achievement whores. It’s also a great way to unwind after a rough day, admiring the serenity of the zen-like oasis you’ve crafted for your piñatas. I crushed the original Viva Piñata a while back (which, I guess describing it that way lets you know what kind of gamer I am) and am very much looking forward to finally digging into the sequel, Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise.  But, I won’t indulge until the weather goes back up to the 70s because playing a game this adorable indoors just doesn’t feel right in the dead of winter. Eternal Sonata Released in 2007 from Namco Bandai, Eternal Sonata is...

The Innocence of a Book [FRANKIE SAYS…]

Frankie says… Try to pretend every now and then. I heard this author speaking about her most recent book on NPR the other day. She was saying how her four main characters were so different, but were all really just pieces of her. I envied her ability to make things up, her obvious grasp on fiction – something I’ve never had when it comes to writing, nor in life for that matter. I’m horrible at making things up, pretending I like people, masking my emotions. If I could just master that art of fiction, of make-believe and pretend, I do believe my life would be a lot easier… like when I was a child. As a kid, I could read for hours, fictional tale upon fictional tale. And then I’d imagine myself as those characters – be it the damsel in distress or the charming go-getter busy bee. Now, I can’t even read fiction let alone pretend I’m part of it. And that’s sad. Really, it is. Why do we lose that ability to mimic our deepest and most secret desires? I know that sounds like some soupy and metaphysical, stick-a-pipe-in-your-mouth kind of question, but it’s really been bothering me lately. This loss of innocence is weird, really. As we grow, we tend to think of how we gain things – boobs, bodily hair, money, wisdom, and many more things. There aren’t too many things that we lose, and by far the biggest of them is this ability to believe in fiction. I’m not talking about the ability to believe in Santa Clause or the Tooth Fairy, I’m talking about the ability to suspend our non-fiction lives for a few moments to enjoy, say, a fictional story from a book. I think the only...