Archive for September, 2008

Calling Cthulu…

The next story for my class is an up-in-the-air piece – the only restriction is that it needs to be in third-person, limited point of view.

In the spirit of of it being turned in during October, I have decided to go a little gothic. Jonathan, a member of “my” writing group (from the script class I was in) mentioned that he never had anyone actually submit a ghost or horror story as part of the class projects. This little bit of information has been floating around for the last couple of months, and I thought it would be a great way to get a story out for both (class, and group).

So I am going with something that I am loosely connecting to both H.P. Lovecraft and Stephen King. I can’t quite remember how all of it came together, but I started writing it last Thursday night, fleshing out three pages of setup & opening. I made notes, generally outlining the story I was aiming for, on a 5×7 notepad… looking at the current writing when compared to the notes, this one could be about fifteen pages.

Now, I need to make sure I get it actually finished this week – the first draft – so I can start combingthrough the editing process (tense shifts, etc.)…

Ah… to have things moving!

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Remembering Paul Newman

As I was going through my “morning routine”, I read one of the headlines on USA Today that Paul Newman died on Frinday.

I knowthe name, and know the personality (and, yes, I think I have even had some of the dressings at some point over the last few years). Cinematically, though, my experience is sorely lacking. I have seen Cars, in which he voices “Doc” Hudson. His “classic” films, though, no I have not seen them.

Color of Money, with Tom Cruise, is one that I know I have seen (most of, if not all). At the time, I did not realize that it was actually a sequel (of sorts) of another of his films, Hustler, where he played the same pool-shark character. After finding this out (only recently, actually) I am tempted to try to set upa double-feature and watch them both…

I plan on trying to see several of his movies, but based on the commentary I have read, he was a true legend in the business, and well respected for his deeds outside of it as well.

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"Hitchhiking" Again…

I am a bit mixed about the news that there will be another “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” book coming out, sometime in 2009 (October, I find out after a bit of Googling).

I remember getting wrapped up in the original series, getting and reading all of them over various trips to the public library when I was younger. I remember thinking that some of the ideas were cool (in my thirteen year old, wild imagination) – like always having a bag packed and ready to grab – but always having a towel inside!

I haven’t read the books in years, but it generally finds itself being, even somewhat obliquely, mentioned at least once a week. (Granted, it is usually when someone ask, “Can I ask you a question?” To which, I reply, “42” before they really get a chance to articulate the question.)

So, now that another book is coming, written by someone other the Douglas Adams himself. Having never read any of the Artemis Fowl books (but I have thought about it), I am not quite sure how the styles will gel – more to the point, I don’t know if Eoin Colfer already writes in a similar tone (he is a comedian, from what news bits I have read). The book is approved by Adams’ widow, so I don’t have any issues there…

I guess, it’s just part of the emotional disconnect… the “but you’re not him” thing, with the mixed enthusiasm of a new book in the series, but concern over how well the book will actually fit in with its siblings…

Time to begin the wait for next October, so we can all see…

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Fantasy Football

This is my third season playing Fantasy Football. I have managed to maintain a decent record in all of that time… I haven’t won a “championship”, but neither have I finished last, either. In that time, I have managed to pick up a few pointers to keep the season from going down the toilet.

In addition to the basic “get the best people you can for the positions” (which goes without saying),thereis one other key piece of advice/informationthat needs to be followed: Cover your Bye weeks.

Simply, look for players that can cover the weeks that your “A” team members are not scheduled to play. Also, try to avoid having too many players that will be out in the same week. I say this after “tentatively”* winning my game from this past weekend… my opponent had three of her starting line-up on their “Bye” week, and a fourth player out… and she also has four players on her bench (two on “Bye” weeks, and two that are listed “out”)…

With that said, I will gladly take the win, and chalk it up to a rookie mistake (on the other person’s part). And the season continues…

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Life on the Fringe…

Okay… I don’t generally watch a lot of television… and I don’t generally seem to get in on the ground floor of some of the “cool new shows”… There have been some that I did try watching, and liked the concept behind, but they either didn’t catch on (commercially), or I got to the dance so late I had to get filled in before I could really get into.

So… Shows like 24, Lost, House, Grey’s Anatomy… Especially 24 and Lost – the ones that have an overall story-arc that each episode plays into and off of – I have had to my Netflix queue so I can play catch-up.

However, there is a new show that started last night… at least, I caught the “pilot” last night. MC and I both watched it, and were both actually interested in it. Fringe, on Fox. I will admit, I did skip out on a few portions, so I could do some other things around the house, but what I saw I did like. We got a feel of “X-Files” (a federal agent working to uncover an overarcing conspiracy), but with a tight timeline (working against an unspecified clock, sort of like what some ofthe seasons of 24 have used)…

I hope it succeeds… and does well enough that the entire season can run its course… before moving on to thenext season. If it does hold on and become one ofthe “it” shows, I can say I saw it in the beginning…

That I lived… on the Fringe…
(okay, corny, but I couldn’t resist…)

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9/11… Seven Years Later

I didn’t make much of a fuss over yesterday, and honestly I had to think about it (albeit, for only a split second) when I first saw flags at half-mast yesterday. I was pissed off when everything happened in 2001. While I was not happy with the events (to put it very mildly), I was more frustrated and bent out of shape over the emotional outcry and the outpouring of wagging flags.

I was pissed that it took something of that magnitude for people to actually understand where they lived, and how much we have available to us that we merely take it all for granted.

Cynically, I mentioned then that there would be all of the hoopla made, then gradually (the general) “we” would drift back to complacency. Generally, I think that has proven to be true. I don’t live in New York, so I don’t have the immediate exposure to “Ground Zero”. I try to avoid DC, so I don’t see the Pentagon. I was not immediately affected by the events (no friends or family lost in the events).

In checking through “my routine” when I cam in today, I found something posted at Neil Gaiman’s blog (via the Web Goblin). I am reposting the video below (linking, actually), as much for me to remember as it is for other to possibly stumble upon in the future.

http://www.thedailyshow.com/sitewide/video_player/view/default/swf.jhtml

There are many things that we “should never forget”, and I firmly believe that they are generational. For my parents, it was the day Kennedy was shot. When I was younger, it was the Challenger. Then there was this… For those still significanlty impacted by the events, a portion of my thoughts and prayers do still go out to you…

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Dramatic Returns…

It was announced yesterday (although, I did not hear it until this morning) that Lance Armstrong will be returning to professional cycling in the 2009 season, with the intention to take on le Tour again. This move come wrapped in the package of his interest to promote cancer awareness and research on a global level.

Details are still sketchy (team info, possible schedule, etc.), although it was mentioned that the information should be coming out around the 25th of this month. It has also been mentioned that Lance may have a small film crew following him, creating a possible documentary for the 2009 season.

Now, here is my take on things. I am excited that Lance is returning to the sport. I look forward to seeing how the season progresses, and seeing if he can a) go for win #8, and b) become the oldest person to win (the current age is 36, from the winner of the 1922 tour). I am torn, however, in the prospects of following the race. I would like to know what team, and who he assembles around him. I am intrigued, but nervous. With everything else that has happened over the past three years, I’m just not sure about the Tour organization.

One thing that I think would be cool, though. If Armstrong ends up racing with Hincapie again, and maybe is rejoined by Tyler Hamilton. Then Lance and Tyler go 1-2… It might be interesting…

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A Word about Politics…

By nature, I try to avoid political discussions. I am not above discussing the issues, if it can be an intelligent conversation, but too many times things end up boiling down to someone saying, “You don’t think like I think, so you’re wrong.” (Kinda like some “religious” fundamentalists that spew the ideology of “If you don’t believe exactly the way we believe, you’re going to Hell.” Last time I checked, all “Christian” churches use essentially the same Bible… and I seem to remember a line that states “Let [he] who is without sin cast the first stone”… and some people just don’t seem to get it…)

Anyway, back to politics. It all becomes an issue of “spin”, and I am fine with that concept – every product or every person that succeeds, does so based on the level of promotion that can be generated. Sustained success is to to the merit and skills of the item/work/person. The problem that I have with the “spin”, is when it gets personal, and instead of addressing the issues, the “spin” walks the razor’s edge of potentially being viewed as slander.

The other (major) issue, as the die-hards – those that would vote straight ticket, regardless of who the candidates are. A 700-pund gorilla could be listed on the ballot, and if the party affiliation matched, it would get a vote – without question. I was talking with my sister-in-law about that last night, and she said, “[Straight ticket] is a cop-out… it’s the lazy way to vote.” And (in my opinion) she’s right…

The point in politics is for the people to select the person they believe to be the best qualified choice to be their leader, based on the issues that the individual voter thinks are important. It shouldn’t be an issue of race, gender, or party affiliation, but sadly that is how things play out all too often.

I’m intentionally trying to make sure this post is phrased in a non-partisan fashion. In the grand scheme, what I believe and what [you] believe will likely be different for some reason or other. In the event that the views are similar, odds are in favor that we arrived there down different roads. Personally, I don’t really care [semanticly] how the voting results will play out – regardless of who wins, in any position, there will always be those that will find something to disagree with.

With everyone focusing on the presidential campaign, both sides are spouting the idea of “change”. My only hope is that a majority of people vote based on things that really matter – a candidate’s stand on the relevant issues that are important to them. Forget party affiliation. Forget race, religion and gender. The voting needs to be about the issues. That is the only way things are really going to change.

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Writing Waiters

There was an article that Wil Wheaton had referenced (in a post that I have already referenced before)… I had missed it when I read the first Wheaton post, but when he mentioned it again in his next post (and I actually saw it), I decided to take note…

Despite it taking a couple of days for me to get a chance to read it (holiday travels, and being away from a computer for a few days), the blog post that was referenced was actually quite good.

Waiterrant.net is written by someone who actually has a “day job” as a waiter. And he has written a book about some of his experiences. The post in question talks about the difference between blogging and writing a book. I believe the moral in his post is accurate – blogging and book writing are two different entities, and have to be juggled and handled differently.

One point that he makes is:
“I also discovered another truism — you can’t write a book and maintain a blog at the same time. If you try, one or the other is going to suffer — usually both. That was a lesson I had to learn the hard way.”

That is a very good point, and one that can also be taken with salt. Directly following the above statement, he discloses: “When I started my book I used the mornings to write about being a waiter, worked nights as a server in a restaurant, then spent the wee hours blogging about what happened during my shift. That would drive anybody nuts.”

Which I relate over to “priorities”. He goes on to say that he let blog posts slide while working on the book. I don’t know the specific timetable he was working in – the specific chunks of time spent each day on the book, his regular job and his blog posts. With that being said, there are several other writers – granted, they are “professional” writers – that do both (maintain a blog AND manage to write other stuff).

But it all goes back to priorities… if you want to write, you will figure out a way to make it work (self, pay attention here!). As a reader, I like being able to go to a blog and see something new (actually, it gets frustrating when someone doesn’t do an update, at least every couple of days – or at least go by a schedule “I’ll make new posts on X”). As a writer, though, I fully understand the “I can’t do it all right now” dilema (and still struggle with it, almost daily – hey, I’m human!), and can agree with his ultimate decision.

For focused, sustained creative output, it is sometimes best to go “off-grid” for a while. Based on his material (and the fact that it’s a life I can closely relate to), I plan on looking over his blog for a bit, and maybe get around to reading his book. When I do, I’ll probably be off-grid myself for a while…

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More Words on Words…

Again, some more “Words From Wil”… a post that he was inspired to write, based on a comment/question he got for his earlier post (previously referenced here)…

It’s a good, short piece of writerly advice… and he titles it “Five Simple Ways to Just Keep Writing”. After reading it (and re-reading it, several times), the advice does make sense. Actually, and even Wil admits, it’s not really earth-shattering advice. I have read a lot of other authors make some of the same statements (especially #4).

4. Don’t show your work to anyone until the first draft is done. Don’t even excerpt little bits and put them on your blog. I put about 30 words from House of Cards online, and I lost all of my momentum as a result. I’m not sure why this happens, but it really sucks when it does.” (From Wil Wheaton’s “Five Ways” post)

And, from my own experience, depending on the work, it is the same for me. A short work, it might be okay with (for me)… Longer works, though, get the life force sucked out, like a Banshee aging a character 10 years, or a Nymph killing a character that fails a saving throw (don’t get the jokes? Ask a gamer! :o)

I remember a trilogy that I had pretty much outlined the core story elements (it was a fantasy trilogy, with some similar elements of the Realms “Avatar” Trilogy – like, four main characters in a group, all good friends, until the group is fractured by one character’s choice to be self-serving, but otherwise, actually, completely different.) I showed it to a couple of people and asked some opinions, but that was as far as it got.

I will counter/add to the statement (#4) though, with this:
Sharing is a very subjective act, and very personal. If you are involved with a group of like-minded people – writerly types that want to improve/tell the best story they can tell – and it is an understood, mutual arrangement to review Works-in-Progress, then by all means: share and ask for feedback.

However, don’t get hung up on it! If you are “workshopping” two chapters that you have written for a book, and you have not finished the book, smile, nod, and make notes on the feedback (unless they give you some good, written feedback), but focus more on finishing the work than making changes to what you have already written. Finish first, revise later!

Speaking of finishing… I have a story that I am working on, due next week, that I need to get back to…

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