Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I'm a winner!

A NaNoWriMo winner, anyway. National Novel Writing Month doesn't end for another two days, but I'm done. I passed the requisite 50,000-word mark on Saturday, and I needed just a little more time to figure out how to properly end my story.

If you'd like to check out the crappy first draft, here it is: Waypoint Kangaroo, a robust tale of interplanetary intrigue in which seafood makes a brief appearance.

The funny thing is, I didn't understand until last week what I was actually writing about. As accomplished TV writer Jane Espenson points out, any script can be broken down into two loglines (brief descriptions): "what it's about" and "what it's REALLY about." The first one tells you the literal events that take place in the story. The second tells you the reason for writing that particular story.

In my case, the literal events are an obvious allegory for 9/11, and writing this story was very therapeutic. The reason for writing this story, however, is less temporal; it's about family and finding your place in the world. The second draft should reflect that better.


Just Like Elvis

Full disclosure: I am, in general, not a fan of hip-hop, rap, or R&B. Every now and then a song will come along that I enjoy, but overall, those particular musical genres don't appeal to me.

It is, then, perhaps not surprising that I should find whiter-than-white covers of classic rap songs more amusing than others might.

(Why am I writing like this? Because I just watched several hours of Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry being veddy British in Jeeves and Wooster. Good stuff, what!)

I discovered Jonathan Coulton earlier this month, thanks to Dr. Demento opening a recent show with Coulton's cover of "Baby Got Back" (requires Flash). And today, after perusing The Torontoist's much-blogged-about article on cover songs, I found Nina Gordon's acoustic "Straight Out of Compton" (2.1MB mp3). Both are brilliant. Note, however, that the latter contains explicit lyrics and frequent droppings of "the F-bomb," and the former trades in graphic euphemisms for a myriad of sexual acts. You may not wish to "pump up the volume" on these tunes while in the company of young children or co-workers.

(The other reason I'm writing like this is because I'm currently reading John Hodgman's The Areas of My Expertise. He is insane-- but in a good way, and thus we prefer to call him "mad.")

Speaking of the royal "we," I simply must link to John Rogers' agent's account of the Royal Premiere of Casino Royale (a.k.a. James Bond 21). If you've seen the movie, you can probably guess the central, er, nugget of his anecdote.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Netflix in da House

As I was re-sorting my Netflix movies just now, I noticed something interesting. Here are the four titles I have checked out:

House, M.D.: Season 1: Disc 6
House of Games
Monster House

I guess my subconscious is trying to tell me something about my current addiction.

So I did the obvious thing: put Crash up front so we'd watch it next, and bumped House of Mirth up to the top of my queue. Why fight it?

Of course, it might be a while before we watch any movies, since both D and I are deep in the midst of NaNoWriMo. Today is the halfway point, and I'm doing pretty well, as you can see. But it's far from over.

My biggest problem now is writing myself out of a corner-- I thought it'd be fun to try a closed-room murder mystery, but it turns out that those are pretty tricky, and I've resorted to making shit up just to get past it so I can move on to the real reason I wanted to write this particular story. I won't spoil it for you, but let's just say it involves huge spaceships moving really really fast. And who doesn't love that?


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Every Topic In The Universe Except Chickens

As detailed in Dinosaur Comics, this may be the only way to save Wikipedia!

Plus it's a fun excuse to say "Fictional Jimbo Wales" over and over again.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Happy Election Day!

I don't care how you vote today; I just want you to get out there and stuff those ballot boxes! Uh, that didn't come out quite right.

I also love John Rogers' metaphor of the current administration as a questionable hook-up:
We get it. Bush didn't seem at all crazy when you met him at the club. And sure you dabbled in faith-based stuff, and maybe his foreign policy was a little naive, but come on -- sexy, sexy tax cuts.

But then things got out of control, and kinkier and kinkier and next thing you know you're in a war with no occupation planning and no exit strategy and being told that's okay and back off...

But let's not get distracted. Point is -- questionable hook-ups. We, as ordinary citizens, all know how we get out of this: you stop returning the crazy person's calls. We promise never to bring it up when drinking...

Don't return their calls [today]. It'll suck for a while, and they may bomb Iran to get your attention, and you'll get lots of screaming and crying about how they're the only ones who love you and can protect you from Osama and the gays, but you dig in, man up, come over and watch a few baseball games,and ride it out. You'll probably have to hang tough through 2008, when they have that fake rehab "No baby, I'm okay now, come with me to group" bullshit going on. Don't fall for it. Cra. zy.

--Kung Fu Monkey: I Still Miss Republicans

Monday, November 06, 2006

Lame Argument of the Day (Not Mine)

At the "Pete Rates the Propositions" site, the eponymous author sets forth a Semi-Biennial Lecture on Bonds, which basically says "don't worry about interest rates or repayment" and concludes thusly:
There is one last reason to vote for a bond measure. In addition to being formal requests for permission to take out loans, bond measures are also looked upon as referenda on the merits of the proposed projects. If a bond measure fails, legislators are likely to believe that the public feels the project is not worthy of receiving state funding. By voting no, you may have meant, “Yes on the project but no on the bonds,” but your message to Sacramento will read, “No on the project.” So if you vote down a bond measure just because you don't like bonds, you may well have killed forever the project the bonds were to have funded.

To which my wife says, "Pete can suck my dick!" I'm inclined to agree.

Of course, she also points out that Californians have never met a bond measure they didn't like, so most of this year's propositions will likely pass anyway. But it's a sad illustration of the worst kind of liberalism: social responsibility without fiscal responsibility.

I don't have a strong closing, so I'll just stop here. Don't forget to vote.


Child's Play 2006

If you're looking for a way to take the edge off your liberal guilt this holiday season, look no further than Child's Play, a charity organized by the Penny Arcade guys to benefit sick children in five countries-- and, as a bonus, combat the public perception that gamers (and video games) are good for nothing.

In their own words: "We collect no administrative fees [my link -ed.] or other charges, 100% of all gifts and donations go directly to our partner hospitals, to help make life a little brighter for a sick child... When gamers give back, it makes a difference!"

Can't handle the pressure of actually selecting which games or toys to donate? You can also make a monetary contribution via PayPal.


Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Yellow Rose of Democracy

Here's your head-trip for the day: the last song in the They Might Be Giants Podcast 9A is an anthem for the Democratic Party, sung by a men's chorus to the tune of "The Yellow Rose of Texas."

I'm sure I don't have to spell out the irony for you.

The recording quality sounds like something from the early 20th century, so I don't feel bad about transcribing the lyrics here:
Oh, the Democratic Party
is for you and you and you
it works for all the people
and not for just a few

For(?) the barman in the city
for the big man and the small
oh, the Democratic Party
is the only one for all

From the north and south
from east and west we come
Singing the donkey's(?) serenade
c'mon and beat that drum

We'll march along together
and on Election Day
we're voting Democratic
'cause we're voting for the U.S.A.!


PayPal attacked, literally

Just found out that a bomb exploded at PayPal (now owned by eBay) in San Jose last night. No one was injured. I normally wouldn't post local news, but I have friends who work there. I know they're safe, and I hope they're not too traumatized.

This also seems like a good time to point out that most "terrorist" attacks in the U.S. are carried out by white, conservative, native-born citizens. Racial profiling is a bad idea because it doesn't work.

I can't understand what makes a man hate another man. Help me understand! Actually, on second thought, I don't want to understand. I just want to identify and incarcerate those people. Stop checking passports and start checking credit records.