Archive for October, 2006

One Down….

… and a lifetime to go.

I have officially made it a month with fairly regular entries. No major diatribes, no great pontifications, but I have made the effort of submitting something to myself on an almost daily basis (ok, I missed a couple of weekdays, and I was useless on the weekends – but I’ve been consistent!).

As mentioned, NaNoWriMo starts (officially) tomorrow, so I may only be posting short bits anyway. As for the word count… it will generally be updates on the count, with a word count and a page count listed… but not until the following day (why post at 5pm, when there’a good 5-6 hours of writing opportunity left in the day, eh?).

Back to work, and trying to make some notes…

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‘Tis All-Hallow’s-Eve…

Yup. Halloween. And with the passing of the spirits goes the time of procrastinating. NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow (Helllooooo hand cramps!) – but seriously, I’m looking forward to it. I’ve talked a lot about writing, and now it’s time to “put up or shut up”!

At least I have names for a few of the characters… the initial characters, at least. Looks like I may just fluff some names out during the course of the process (mental note: write down the names so I can identify them during other scenes if I bounce around to different scenes).


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So Much for the Afterglow…

Yeah, I know… I’m using an album name for today’s title – because I can, and the sentiment seems to fit!

Two days until NaNoWriMo. The short story/prologue/back story that I was hoping to have written by the start of November has not come together – and likely won’t before the start of the book process. And that is what scares me a little… the thought of pounding out the keys (or writing a LOT of freehand when away from a computer)… not having pushed myself at that pace before.

But growth comes from pressure, right? Write! During the course of the month I intend to put the previous days progress, and overall progress to date… Consider this the accountability factor…
– J

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The weekend is upon us, and with the coming of the weekend comes the ever looming deadline of NaNoWriMo – the fun starts on Wednesday!

Here we are on the last weekend before the event, and my outline is not completed yet (as I’ve mentioned before, no big deal… I think I have enough to get me well into the month before I am overly concerned about running out of the outline notes). My only disappointment, in myself anyway, is that I wanted to have the “background” story written before NaNoWriMo, just to have it done (as a possible long prologue, or independent story). That has not happened yet (but wait, I still have four full days ahead of me – two of which are the weekend!).

So I look forward to this weekend as my “last fling” before pounding keys for a month, and I still have a few other notes to make (I hear that actual character names are good things to have, instead of vague references like “Primary” as I’ve been using in my notes) before I can really go to town in November.

Here’s to hoping for a fun filled, action packed weekend that should have my fingers getting a lot of exercise by the time Monday rolls in.

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Lost nights…

Hopefully the last in this thread for a while… I take a brief look at lost television – mostly from Prime Time. There are lots of series that I grew up with – the Cosby Show and Full House (didn’t we all), as well as Growing Pains and Murder She Wrote (did you know they are actually doing a book line for MSW now?). All of those are classics (now) that ran for several years and are readily available (somewhere) on DVD. But what about the more inventive shows, creative ones that just couldn’t find their niche or right time slot so they were lost.

With the internet, shows can be swapped and downloaded, but what about shows from the 80’s (or before) when there was no YouTube or KaZaa/ShareZaa, etc?

I remember watching Supercarrier (a Top Gun influenced show that ran for 8 shows); and The Wizard (a one season show about a toy inventor). There was also Misfits of Science (a bit of a take on the X-Men theme). There was Silk Stalkings (run on USA for several years – a spin on Miami Vice and Moonlighting), and Hunter; The Enforcer, Major Dad and My Two Dads. Remington Steele and Amazing Stories, Airwolf and China Beach; KNIGHT Rider and Riptide were also some of the shows that were watched.
There Was Alice and the A-Team, Bosom Buddies, Benson, Barney Miller, Crazy Like a Fox, Cagney and Lacey, Fact of Life, Fame, Fall Gy, Fantasy Island, Great American Hero; The Hogan Family and Hotel, Jake and the Fatman, Just the 10 of Us, kate and Allie. The Cavenaugh’s, Sledgehammer, Private Benjamin, One Day at a Time, Scarecrow and Mrs. King, Simon and Simon, Wiseguy and Young Riders would also be contenders for viewing time.

I guess a lot of the selections were influenced by my father (mostly the drama/mystery shows), and as I get older I can’t halp but remeber my father as I think of some of those shows.

It sounds almost trite, but they don’t really make too many shows like that now. Everything tends to be series based ensemble casts (CSI, Law & Order) that there are few “small cast” plot shows.

Maybe it’s time for a renaissance. Maybe dad would enjoy a new show. Hmmm…

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Lost days…

In continuing with yesterday’s theme, I bring you more “Lost days”. I work around phones all day, and one of the bosses came in and made the statement, “There are the masters of the phone universe.” I quickly replied that I was still looking for a green cat so we could go off to fight evil.

It took a moment to explain my reference (as I had drawn a blank on the character’s name) but everything quickly came together. We needed our Cringer/Battle Cat so we could fight the evils of the telephone world. A coworker was surprised (“scared” was more along his actual word choice) that I was able to rattle off a handful of the characters from the lost show “Masters of the Universe”.

But lost is relative – it is available on DVD, and they have resurrected some of the characters, but they are not the same. I remember coming home after school or watching Saturday morning cartoons – and playing with the original release toys (of which, I still have all of mine in a box in the attic).

It’s the same kind of feeling… seeking past joys and innocence by seeking the tv of my childhood. After the conversation this morning I spent most of the day skimming through webpages of MotU, some Transformers, and even saw references to MASK, Snorks and Pac-Man (yes, I had cable growing up, and I took advantage of it when I could). I remember watching two different versions of Ghostbusters, and watching Pound Puppies and Dungeons & Dragons; Dangermouse, Duck Tales, Darkwing Duck and GI Joe. I remember the Biskitts, and Galaxy High; Gummy Bears and Hulk Hogan’s Rocking Wrestling. Captain Video and Captain N:The Game Master, Lazer-Tag and the Littles, Rude Dog, and Muppet Babies, The Legend of Zelda and Mysterious Cities of Gold, Smurfs, Transformers and Thundercats, David the Gnome; Bigfoot and the Muscle Machines and a slew of other shows that filled my imagination and my time. (To calrify – I remember watching all of these – but I had to visit a site to actually identify the names… and many more that I just didn’t see the point in trying to retype…)

Yes, I watched a lot of cartoons… and there was always a plot to the shows, and often lasted a full 20-25 minutes (allowing commercial time to fill the 30-minute slot). Many of those shows are footnotes in time, with grainy pictures posted on websites as the last tokens of hours of fun and entertainment; lost keys to explain bastions of imaginary images and creative devices. The smell of freedom from hard core responsibilities like mortgages and electric bills, when cartoons could be watched in the morning and recreated in the afternoon (often with the action figure line of the same cartoon!)!

Oh, to be young again… even with all of today’s cable channels, none of those old shows seem to have found a home… *sigh*

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Busy… Baseball and the world around us…

Well, it has been a busy couple of days… For some strange reason, I was sidetracked during work yesterday so I spent very little time writing, mostly just reading. Recently, there was debate was sparked over cheating in baseball – did the Tigers pitcher truly only have dirt on his hand, or was there something else? So, I spent most of my downtime (read – moments between phone calls) reading up on past Baseball events – the World Series in particular.
In addition to the World Series history in general, I also spent a good bit of the afternoon reading about the infamous 1919 Series. I’m sure you’ve heard about it… the “Black Sox” scandal – the basis for the movies “Eight Men Out” and partial influence for “Field of Dreams”. I’ve always been drawn to “EMO” since I first saw it years ago… maybe it was the setting in a lost age, or just how the story was told more from Bucky’s point of view.
One thing I found interesting in the reading from yesterday, though, is some of the information on how the league setups were back then – fundamentally no heirarchal establishment (when compared to today’s system). No brainer, right? Remember, though, that when we grow up in an age where things are constant, that is all we know, and we have to stretch to understand how things used to be.
Nowadays – there would be no outlet for playing professional ball if a player were blacklisted (unless I am missing a technicality). Minor league teams are considered extensions of the Major league teams; a proving ground for cultivating their future talent.
Then – farm leagues were available and players could still make decent money playing the game. Granted, they would still be working “day jobs” sometimes, and definitely during the off-season (and that is just based on the economy of the times).
It was also entertaining (even, unfortunately, a bit depressing) to read about the “old” fields… the storied homes of baseball that I had heard about (mostly from old movies, or films set in those times) but didn’t realize were gone – Comisky and Ebbits, among others. Places designed for the game, but eventually cast away for the sake of progress.

I find myself being sentimental over lost architecture in general though. I’m due to travel to New York in a few weeks, travelling by train. Our arrival – the storied Penn Station, but not the real Penn Station – that mythical building was gone before I was born, another victim of progress. (The underground station and rails are still there, but above ground is now home to Madison Square Gardens.)

Weird how I start on baseball and end up on architecture, but not really. Progress is enevitable. The only constant is change. (“Changes aren’t permanent, but change is.” – Rush, Tom Sawyer) We look around us today and dream about living in other times – being able to see these great players, or go to those wonderful buildings. It’s that longing for our perceptions of times beyond our grasp, of creating mental images in our dreams that likely pale to the reality.
We spend a lot of time in the moment criticizing individuals, judging quicker in the court of public opinion than evidence and investigations warrant. History, however only judges based on the evidence. Great buildings and great players fade with age and are eventually forgotten, replaced by the “now” things, or compared with those that are decades apart.
While cheating is not condoned, we lose sight of the human perspective – that players may have been justified to engage in misconduct (in 1919 there was no player’s union to ensure pay). Unfortunately, any truth that may have been found, any vindication that may have been sought has likely passed into the footnotes of history. Players seeking redemption, buildings seeking occupants and a world begging to be seen – constantly being ground under the heels of progress.

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Ok, I admit it: I have a soft spot for games. I grew up trying a variety of RPGs, ranging from the traditional D&D to the diverse landscapes of the Palladium multiverse and beyond. When I was coming to work this morning there was a segment on the radio station’s morning talk show talking about Everquest.
Admittedly, this is one that I have not played, however I have been introduced to MUDs and other games. I have also played some of the Elder Scrolls series (while it is fundamentally a console game, it appears to have similar features and interactions).
What bothers me enough to write this, is an email written by a mother calling the game evil. She arrived at this conclusion stating that her som had dropped out of school in the 10th grade to play the game, and that the family has had to go through counseling because of the issues that were caused due to game. Please note: my degrees are in business and English – not psychology or psychiatry.
Last time I checked, Everquest is a subscription based game. Translation – a monthly fee is required to continue playing the game (duh!, I know). My question is this – if this child was in the 10th grade, how was the subscription being paid? By the parents? Probably so. Another question to ponder: Why was the game (rated T for teen and above) even allowed, especially knowing that a subscription is required?
Now, I don’t know the entire situation – only the snipet that was read on air. There may be extenuating circumstances that were not discussed, but come on, folks. 1) It’s a game… why, as a parent, are you allowing them THAT much time (and money) for a GAME? (There was a statement made that issues were generated when they tried to curtail some of that gaming time, creating a bigger issue)… If things were limited from the beginning, and boundaries placed, then there should not have been a need for family counseling (over a GAME!?!). It fundamentally sounds like there are other issues, and the game is being used as a scapegoat.
Remember, I grew up as a gamer, and while I encourage my nephews in some of their gaming endeavors – and I intend on doing so with my own children in the future (if they are so inclined) – it is our responsiblity as adults to set the limits. Especially if we are the ones that would be paying for it!

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On with the show…

More news from the front: climate changes suck! That’s right, in case you missed some of the sporadic weather changes lately (be thankful) it has not been fun… Mother Nature must be suffering signs of menopause with the way the temperature has been changing. As a result of the hot/cold flashes, loads of people are now suffering through congestion and colds, raiding drug stores and grocery aisles to buy supplies of NyQuill and Sudafed. Personally, I’m muddling through day 2 of my symptoms (able to breath out of one nostril, and a throbbing in the sinus cavities like a factory production line that is churning out its products, and a periodic release of “toxic waste byproduct” to help releive pressure from an otherwise tight line), and I frequently find myself sounding like, “I have a code id my dode.”

But other than that bit of bother, everything else is going fairly well… the minutes tick by until closing time, and I’m still pondering the novel… part of me wants to get started and the majority is screaming at me to wait until November 1 so I can failry participate in NaNoWriMo…
Unfortunately, my writing projects have only been ponderings the last few days as I’ve been dealing with the congestion and general blah feelings.

But, I am maintaining my schedule of at least one entry here per day, so I am at least feeding my writing habit by providing some activity… which is at least better than nothing, I suppose…

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Mid-season swings…

‘Tis the season for climate changes, and the requisite health swings. My wife and I have both been fighting off some wonderful symptoms for the better part of the past two days (sinus drainage, scratchy throat, and just general blah feelings). And today is only Wednesday, with little chance for extended rest until this weekend. Now that that little bit of information is covered, on to the fun stuff…

I practiced a little more bass last night, and did some constructive work around the house (did the dishes, finished cooking dinner so my wife could rest & recover, put the leftovers away, fed the animals) and ended up relaxing in my office, burning some cds. With foul weather outside, it was a relatively quiet evening.

I have put a hold on some of the “writing at work” lately… not really intentionally, though. I’ve gotten quite a bit of the basic story planned for the novel, and am franly a little concerned over the development (in a good way – currently at around four pages for an outline, and still haven’t reached where I see as the end of the first installment yet!), but I think I may have enough for a significant start in the planning for NaNoWriMo.
That’s also grounds for another question – to outline, or not. Well, I have never really (seriously) focused on writing a book, so the question is a very good one. Each writer will ultimately give the pat (and correct) answer of, “It depends on the writer.” I think an idea can be developed pretty quickly, but for there to be a focus and consistency in the development, there should be some form of outline. Even though it may not be written down, I firmly believe there is a conceptual outline that the author is considering. Writing the outline down makes it easier to pick out scenes to develop (complete with key notes of special events), instead of accidentally introducing something at the wrong time, or mentioning things out of sequence.
I haven’t tried it before, so I figure I’ll attempt if for a little while to see how things work out. Of course, the outlines are the easy part… fleshing them out and breathing full life to those visions is the more delicate art…

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