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Right, anyway, I’m in New Zealand.

and that’s a kiwi

I know I’ve been away for awhile, and I’m a bit sorry about that. But only a bit. Y’see, a weekend ago, I packed up everything I’ve got in LA into a storage unit, stuffed a bunch of it into a framepack, and trucked off across the Pacific. It is has been alternatively exciting and terrifying, and then I arrived.

Alright, so, it’s not really a “meeting new people everyday” kind of month anymore, although that happens, pretty much by necessity – but is very much a Brave and New kind of month. What with never having done anything like this before.

People are very friendly here, and life’s got a good seasoning of serendipity, but for now, I’m bloody exhausted from all that I’ve done in the past week and a half (first shower since last Tuesday today! and a real bed with a roof!), so this is the unexpected end.

For hating cold this much, I sure can take it

Sunday started early. 9:00 AM early – which might not be early to most of you, but to this self-employed one-time software engineer, that’s an hour I’m familiar with only through perseverance and lingering chemical enhancements. The morning was building an entire new set for a bathroom scene; the afternoon was flying it about 10′ in the air, and the evening was entirely consumed by the shot you see above.

By the way, that’s me in the sacrificial pose

Or, well, for everyone else, that shot was an evening thing. I got started on it about midafternoon; putting the finishing touches on the rig, and then starting to mix that liquid – which started with figuring out just how best to do it.

Prior to “deployment”, as I might call it, I asked more experience professionals how to go about this, and the advice that turned out to be the most relevant is to have a recipe for your batch size – I started knowing the molecular ratio I wanted to get, but all precision went out the window when all I had to measure with were empty paint buckets. At that point, it was flying by the seat of my pants, having an idea of of to mix what I wanted, and then counted what I put in each time. Once I had a recipe, we kicked into gear, and raced against the clock.

Being “smart”, I think, is more about paying attention to the world around you than anything else.

So. The trough is filled, the liquid prepared. The lights are around where they need to be, and the musician is in costume. We’ve only got one shot at this – it’s not like we can clean that gunk off him in any reasonable amount of time.

Clearly, we need a body double.

Clearly, being just about the same height and build, I’m one of the candidates.

Clearly, having built the damn thing, if I’m not willing to use it, why should anyone else?

Goddamn but that stuff was cold.

Ah, as they say, a good deed never goes unpunished. Except, well, I got pretty truly rewarded in the admiration from the crew, as I lay there, patiently letting them figure out the lighting for the scene, shivering so hard my entire body was shaking, for an hour.

I get the impression that this was supposed to be “hard”, and that, if I were an on looker, it would seem as such. But really? It needed doing, and I was the one doing it, and it doesn’t get easier than that.




Alright Brave Newbies, I owe ya. It’s been a busy, busy weekend – so busy, in point of recollection, that I fail to remember it all, but I’ll pay you in stories so awesome there ain’t no debt.

This past long weekend has been an intense endeavor for me – working all day, every day, and sometimes all night – on this music video. I’ve worked as art department, set engineer, special effects technician, and body double. Days started in the wee barely-past-dawn hours, and went late into the night. I have loved every second of it, despite occasional miserable appearance, and would do it again next week in a heartbeat.

When last we left this intrepid adventurer, it was Wednesday, when I met Eddie. The days since then have kind of blurred together, although when I pry, they start falling into chronologies and timelines; discrete bits of life. This on that day; that on this – and quite a fair bit of apparent repetition. Build set, move set, panic; rinse, repeat.

Thursday (I think it was thursday) was a lot of painting and hoisting and moving large panels of wood about – and it’s when I met a man on the stairwell by complimenting his hat. Friday we actually filmed; a girl in a box, a man on a wire. In post-shoot shenanigans, I braved myself and talked to a random girl at a bar, out of the blue. A milestone, to be sure, although I failed to truly engage her in conversation. Saturday – I don’t remember Saturday. I’ve bits and pieces, people and places, but the stranger I met? Gone to mists of time.

Sunday was a big day, and will get a post to itself.

Daniel introduced us to a game he named MESP – Motion Effort Sex Pain – You make up dares, by flipping a coins to see if each of MESP is in or out, then spin a bottle to decide who does it. It’s about pushing boundaries

It’s hard to do the brave part when the monsters keep giving you candy.

So, over the last few days, in my pursuit of this simple monthly goal, I’m noticing something: I really don’t have to go out of my way to meet new people. And it’s not just Calvin at the Kiwis doing the brave bit for me – it’s a generalized thing. Yes, I am meeting more new people now that I’m, y’know, trying - but really? They’re everywhere, all the time. And they’re nice! Yesterday, I met Roman, who immigrated from Mexico a couple of decades ago and works (I think for himself) as a mechanic, while in line at the DMV. Just started talking to him, then introduced myself, then kept getting to know him.

For awhile, standing there, before we started talking, I thought I could tell that we were going to converse. Something in his posture; although it was almost an apprehension at the expectation, gave the future away. Like he wanted to talk to me, as well, but couldn’t quite bring himself to break the ice just yet.

Today, as it was the first day of building the set for a music video shooting on the weekend, I met maybe half a dozen new people, and I got to know them each, at least, a little bit – and this kind of thing; meeting this many new people, just by living my life, is actually rather commonplace. But! I noticed them more – I noticed that they were strangers, and now they weren’t – because I was asking myself, “Is this the new person I met today? Is this?”  I was paying attention more to this bit of living life, realizing how much I already have, because I’d set out to make sure I was getting it.

Yet… Meeting them was neither Brave nor New.

Eddie, however, was. Just a bit – a lot like Roman, there was this idea of it being a Risky Thing, but once I’d actually said a word – none to be found. Eddie’s a policeman, and he and his partner had stopped – in fact, they’d stopped to go say hello to a stranger! – to go talk to the guy who had this big felt dragon up smack in the middle of his open-door studio. I saw their lights when I was parking, and decided to go see what was up.  We didn’t talk for long, but I did ask him the cliche of “how did you get to be a cop?” and his answer had this quality…

I’m having trouble putting this idea into a few words, so I’ll try putting into many. Talking to Roman and talking to Eddie – and testing that perceived risk, to find that it’s all in my head, that there’s nothing there to be scared or worried about – it’s so similar to what I’ve found when deciding to actually get up and do something. There’s no climax to it – but neither is it an anti-climax. It just is. You get up, and you go do the thing, and you find out – Yeah. Doing it really is that easy. The task may be difficult – it might be hard to understand Roman through his thick accent – but the doing of it? Nothing more to it than moving bits of these bags-of-mostly-water we’re all running around in.

Anyway, Eddie became a cop by filling out some forms and getting some training.

You have to understand that once upon a time, I didn’t believe this stuff. Observations are giving credence to the contrary.

Alright. I’m incredibly exhausted. It’s late. I haven’t met anyone new, in large part because I hadn’t yet gone anywhere knew. I need to meet someone new, not just for this blog, but for the Awesome. I tried (and failed) to convince friends to come with me to Asia Town*, as I want to push my comfort zone as much as I can and still do things like (get) drive(n) home safely.

First having failed, second having not eaten dinner, third having no vittles with which to cook, and fourth – having a shiny new chemistry cooking kit – I head to the grocery store, filled with dread over meeting someone new in a way that meets my Brave and New.

Grocery stores, and the people in them, and particularly the produce section, aren’t a problem for me.

You don’t see where this is going, because it’s going someplace ridiculous and amazing.

I decide to buy a kiwi. I pretty rarely eat kiwis, and have never bought one, so I’ve no idea how to tell which are ripe or not. This being the produce section, I ask a nearby stranger, who more or less gets his verbal shrug interrupted by the other guy next to me, who says, I am not making this up, “None of these are ripe, you can trust me, my name’s Calvin and I’m a kiwi.” (A ‘Kiwi’, by the way, is slang for someone from New Zealand.)

At first this seems merely an odd, interesting and unexpected occurence. But what you don’t know, dear reader, is that in two week’s time I’m flying to New Zealand. I tell this random fellow about these travel plans, at which point, he – with no prompting on my part, none at all - enthusiastically gives me his number saying we should meet up and talk, then runs off to go buy some cookies and return from whence he came.


So yes. That did just happen.


* Yes, yes, I know it’s China Town and Little Tokyo, but they’re right gorram next to each other so frell it, it’s Asia Town.

… happening, fittingly but unintentionally, on the second. Same bat time, same bat channel, same bat ideas – but, different bat. As the Thai printed on a tee shirt, “Same same, but different!”

I am Nick, a friend Phil made in his pursuit of the Brave and the New. I’m one part Burner and one part Engineer; I’ve lived through twenty-five-and-a-half winters, and aim to keep it that way. My world is a strange one, and it’s my goal to make it stranger.

Alternate universes always have more zeppelins.

Per this self-imposed ultimately arbitrary format, here’s my personal take on this month’s theme of “Meet a New Person Every Day”:

  1.  I don’t generally have a problem meeting new people – unless, that is, I have no apparent reason for entering their reality. Networking event? Dating site? Walking up and talking to Speaker #3 at Event Where You Learn Something? Not an issue. Random stranger at the grocery store? Meeting people at a party before the person who’s invited me has introduced us? That’s frightening. Random people in the world, by and large, might disagree with me. Might not like me. While my worldly evidence indicates the contrary as the likely, I’m still afraid of that outcome. It’s a silly fear, and one I’d like to do without.
  2. I’ve been living in a little bubble of weird. I love it here, it is an amazing place, and it is filled with the fantastically awesome. But I’m not really leaving that bubble, which means there’s a lot of even this city I just haven’t seen, and a lot of awesome out there I have no idea exists. So I’m not just going to got out and meet someone new – I’m going to go out and meet someone I otherwise would never have met.
  3. I leap to conclusions about people more than a bit too quickly. One of my most favorite people in the world, when I first saw her, I thought, “Crazy hippie chick…!” Thing of it is, her, and all the people I’ve met through her, are the sanest (and amazingest) people I know. So when I see someone, and think this or that of them – well, that right there is the perfect time to go get some experimental data.
  1. Meeting people out of contexts where you’re supposed to meet new people is strange and frightening. Do it.
  2. Meeting the people you wouldn’t normally meet is how you find those people you wish you’d met earlier. Do it.
  3. Meeting the people you judge from afar is how you find out how bad you really are at judging people from afar. Do it.


Today I was shaved by a stranger. My beard, a fixture on my face since senior year of high school, has gone the way of toilet paper, courtesy of one Trevor Redacted, a friend of Phil’s. I met this fellow when our collective celebrations of the new year (unanimously agreed to contain “something momentous and unknown”) had left us exhausted, able to do little more than throw chocolate and watch movies – all of which is my bad excuse for barely getting to know the fellow – but we summoned up the where-with-all to traverse to the commode; camera, electric razor, and beard, and one of those, we left behind.

Everybody knows that your facial hair is the opposite in the alternate reality


written by Nick

This novel is becoming a struggle.

I know words. I often employ them to explain how hungry I am. Occasionally I’ll also express confusion, sexual arousal, and other emotions I’m sure I have when I’m not experiencing those other three things.

However, now that I’m put to the test, I’m not wholly certain I don’t simply recite words I’ve heard other people say. There’s a good chance my entire lifetime of communication has been nothing more than a parlor trick.

My Little Pony Cthulu

My Little Pony Cthulu: shockingly relevent to the new chapter

I’d like to blame it on the economy. I really would.

Today is day 9, and, while I haven’t started my writing run for the evening, I’m hovering around 9,000 words. At roughly 1,000 words a day, that is WELL under where I need to be to finish a 50,000 word novel by the 30th.

So what to do?

I’m going to call Brett Ratner and ask him for tips on expressing myself with words.  I’m fairly sure he’ll simply offer, “Novels are for [redacted]

Also, picture relevant-  here’s a snippet of my second-favorite chapter so far. http://thebravenew.com/Chapter21WhereinShitGetsReal.pdf

It’s a Lovecraftian nightmare that will drive you to the brink of madness and back again.  Maybe then you’ll go on a leisurely stroll, returning to madness.  But by then, it’s old news, and you’ll return.  But then you’ll take someone on a date, and hell, they’ve never been there before, so even though you’re pretty bored with it, you’ll return to madness for a third time.  And your date will force a strained smile, but she can tell you’re bored with the whole thing, and that doesn’t make for a good date now, does it?

So this novel writing excursion is off to an alright start.  My first night, I wrote around 3000 words.  My second night, a meager 1000.  As I just returned home from an insanely busy day at work, and another meeting for a side project, I’ve yet to write today.  But I’m feeling good about this.  I’m not a novelist, but I feel like I’m becoming one suddenly.  It could just be gas though.

Here’s a little snippet (pic related) of this evolving trainwreck of a novel. thebravenew.com/Chapter14.pdf

The novel is clearly going to be based around things I’ve experienced that I’ve found to be quirky and intriguing, but remember it is fiction.  If you see something of yourself or a friend in there, it may be a coincidence, it may be an homage, but it’s certainly never an interpretation of your character or judgement of your activities.

Oh, a little background:  NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) challenges a budding author (or an experienced one) to come up with a story of 50,000 words in thirty days.  The number seems daunting, but broken down into small slices, it’s a perfectly relaxing writing pace.

But does length account for everything?  Literary great Ernest Hemingway was once challenged to write the world’s shortest story.  He is said to have declared his resulting creation his best work.

The entirety of the story is six words.

For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

Hemingway was not a happy man.  But he did understand one of the most important goals for anyone who wants to effectively communicate:

Be clearly understood in six words.

Alright Brave Newbies.  I’ve learned a lot progressing into the Brave New, and one of those things is:  I suck at maintaining a site.  I have piles of writing that’s gone “unpublished” onto thebravenew.com, and clearly I have some hurdles to jump here.  That being said, I’ve always felt like there’s no kill like overkill-  so if I’m having trouble writing, it’s time to really pour myself into writing and get over it.  Oh, also I’ve always wanted to be a novelist.  That being said, you know what I’d like to do for November’s pursuit of one great “opus”?

I’m going to write a novel.

It’s no coincidence that this month lines up with National Novel Writing Month.  The goal of writing a novel is too specific for the deliberately open monthly challenges for The Brave New, but it falls well within the guidelines I’ve set up for this month.  So, for those of you joining me in the month’s challenge, if you’re looking to do something really difficult, why not attempt it with me?

Looking out on the unrealized adventure that is November, I’d like to remind everyone:
All good stories start somewhere!

Brave Newbie Writers

Phil WarrenPhil Warren (81)
Founder and editor of The Brave New, Phil Warren is now an accordion player, a minister, a sonic weapons expert, a director, a photographer, a public speaker, and a bunch of other things. Mostly he's an adventurer though. An adventurer who smells nice. Except when he doesn't.
NickNick (6)
One part Burner and one part Engineer; I’ve lived through twenty-five-and-a-half winters, and aim to keep it that way. My world is a strange one, and it’s my goal to make it stranger.

Facebook Challengers!


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  • This Tumblr Will Change Your Life Part instruction manual, part therapy, part religious cult, part sheer anarchy, this is a day-to-day quest very similar to “This Book Will Change Your Life”