NaNoWriMo and the aftermath thereof

So I “won” NaNoWriMo 2012 and have a nearly-good-enough-to-pass-as-mediocre-if-not-inspected-thoroughly novel to show for it. Now what?

National Novel Writing Month is an annual event that aims to convert an otherwise unextraordinary November into a stressful and anxiety-inducing 30 day separation from family and night night time. It’s considered a competition by many, but the real goal is to have no losers. There’s a loose support system in place, what with the non-stop pep talks and local NaNo groups that have cropped up in most “civilized” areas, but the good people behind it have yet to develop a remedy for life. Stuff happens and priorities shift. People get sick and die. Work stuff builds up and drags you into its malevolent grasp, seeking to syphon away any vitality you might miraculously still retain. So… there are lots and lots and lots of losers, and I guess that’s where the competitive spirit kicks in: I was a winner, and my smug bastardness proclaimed that fact all December long.

So I won. My new friend, Nate, in Chile, won. My old friend, Jed, who introduced me to Nate, lost like a stinking awful loser. And all of those things made me really happy.

Winning NaNoWriMo guarantees you end up with a short novel, and that’s exactly what I have (Inis Ealga is 50,009 words long, which is WAAAAAAAAAAAY more than NaNo’s 50k minimum. Can you say, “Overachiever?”). Unfortunately, as Jed Fecker the Loser points out, the quality of the finished work isn’t emphasized. That means that my book isn’t a book at all, but rather an extremely rough draft. But–!–it has accomplished the task all real books must: it’s been read. Twice! And not by me!

So, the excitement being as long over as it possibly can at this point, I’m back to my original question: “Now what?”

Editing, that’s what.

Euch. Gross. Sounds like a whole lot of work. Is it even worth it? Can this mess of a novella even be salvaged? Do I even want to pencil monkeying-with-it time into my busy schedule when, honestly, the only thing that could possibly give is my veg-out-and-recover-from-working-a-job-that’s-not-quite-awful-but-far-from-gratifying time? What about that hysterectomy Lynn’s about to have? I’m going to be one busy motherscratcher for the next six weeks or so! So… isn’t fooling around with a potentially irreparable piece of trash a really, really, really bad idea?

Yes, it is. The end.

But hang on–dammit, why do I always do this?–I’m going to finish my book, bad idea or not.

I enjoy writing. Editing, not so much. But, since my story is going to have to double or triple in size before it’s really done, I’m looking at the editing process as more of a scoping-out of the cool stuff I’m going to have to write later. Plus, fun as Skyrim is to play, I think there’s a far better story line waiting to be pulled from the muck that Inis Ealga currently is… and the fruits of laboring in the real world will always far exceed in value those produced in any imaginary one, regardless of the level of effort expended in either case. So, in a short time I could become the hero of an imaginary land (or, more likely, given the immense replayability of Bethesda’s ridiculously good game, I could have beaten the game as three or four different characters). Or I could be the proud author of a much-improved draft and the keeper of the hopes of a fully de-loused book and of the dreams of what such an eventuality could mean. I’m not supposed to have such dreams, apparently, but I do. I’ve wanted to be a writer most of my life… and as one former friend (whose pseudonym here escapes me at the moment) put it, “Real writers write.” So I write. And then I keep doing it. And when I’m done doing it I do it again and again until, dying, I abruptly stop doing it.

Will Inis Ealga ever be finished? I don’t know. But that’s my goal. Will it ever be a “real” book, bound with glue and paper and sold to unsuspecting dupes all over the world? That crosses into the territory of stuff I shouldn’t really think about too much. But it would be pretty dadgum awesome, I reckon.

I do know this for a fact, though: October is going to suck. Why? Because I plan to do NaNoWriMo again this year, and Lynn now knows exactly what I won’t be able to do for her in November.

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Gifts from the motherland


My boss went to India for a few weeks a couple months ago to, well, I guess, spread his self-perceived awesomeness (hush it, you lurker, I haven’t said you were off… not yet at least). I can’t say for sure what he did over there because I’ve never really known what goes on here, but I bet he thought it was pretty dadgum spectacular.

The offshore crew, in an obvious attempt to elevate themselves above the boss guy in the estimation of the rest of us, somehow persuaded him to mule a shipment of handcrafts back to us. The picture, above, sucks. What it’s supposed to tell you is a beautifully intricate tale of a pregnant mama elephant and the dedication of the craftsmen who brought her to be, but instead it’s just muttering something about a gray rock with some holes in it. Oh well. So I’m not a photographer, either.

Their attempt succeeded too, at least at first, because I was ready to forget my boss’ name and learn theirs instead. But just about then my keen and beautifully blue eyeballs picked out the little elephant’s true story: a dirty, yucky, nasty one involving at least a hundred little spiders-to-be. Arachnophobe that I am, dear reader, that was almost too much. My black little heart almost went still right then, but since true evil can’t ever really be stopped here I still be.

Whew. I’ll be glad when these elections are over and we have an empty suit in the office–old or new, it won’t really matter–and I can go back to just being a guy and not the devil on the rational side of the fence.

ANYWAY, here I still be, and I there at work still lives my pretty little elephant. Now only if my boss’ problems could also be eliminated with a can of compressed air…

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Poots by any other name…

So I finally watched 28 Weeks Later the other night.

Here’s how it went (it doesn’t matter if you’ve seen the film or not, because there’s not really anything to spoil): a few medium-big names and a bunch of enormous-gigantic wads of cash teamed together to tell a heart… uh, something-ing… story about a lot of different things that happened in a couple different places. People and zombies did rude stuff to each other… and then… well, and then stuff went on and things died, and then everything got crazy for a minute and then… uh… and other things transpired, and then eventually it was over, and stuff.

Sorry, I almost fell asleep a couple of times, but that’s pretty much the gist of it.

The thing that intrigued me most about the movie, though, is something that still has me thinking. Douschey Don, played by master of the craft Robert Carlyle (you can tell he interviewed a whole mess of zombies whilst wriggling himself into character like it was a Vietnamese skinsuit), had a weird looking daughter I could have sworn I’d seen in other stuff. Well, I hadn’t, or at least I wouldn’t have remembered her from anything, but I remain to this very second stunned by the actress’ name:

Imogen Poots.

Actors, as a frolicking, drunken whole, have long been known to engage in a great many strange activities that boggle the mind and elevate the eyebrow to varying heights. They’re addicted to cocaine, Rogaine, plastic surgery, bootie burglary, matrimony, acrimony, ecstasy, hypocrisy… and lots of other vaguely accurate pairs of rhyming things. Plus meatloaf sandwiches. But my point, as you can good and well see, is that most of them just up and change their names at some point.

Some change them because were given silly names at birth. Others–and this is a good 60% of them–were originally called Sean Connery or Richard Burton or Dmitri Mendeleev, and had to make a change to avoid a ten character roman numeral suffix on IMDB. The rest were just looking for a little extra coolness to go with their bland headshots.

But Imogen Poots bucked the trend, choosing instead to rely on her strange elfin looks to get her on-set. Bravo to her, I reckon, because she appears to be in a bunch of stuff I either haven’t or don’t care to see, plus a few I don’t remember her from. And there certainly can’t be too many Poots in Hollywood… well, that are named that, anyway… so she’s certainly a unique actress in that regard. I fail to be impressed, though, because at the end of the day her name is still Poots and, being the 12-year-old that I really am, I can’t stop thinking about how much worse life might have been for her if her parents had chucked up her first name as well:

  • Angel Poots
  • Dolly Poots
  • Eden Poots
  • Fanny Poots
  • Hazel Poots
  • Heidi Poots
  • Jocelynn Poots
  • Lotta Poots
  • Minnie Poots
  • Mora Poots
  • Misty Poots
  • Patty Poots
  • Sawyer Poots
  • Shasta Poots
  • Stormy Poots

And my favorite:

  • Tarynn Poots

Whatever her reason, she’s still a Poots… at least for the time being. Maybe some day she’ll marry Christopher Walken and change her name to Imogen Poots-Walken.

Now that would be impressive.

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Big boy training wheels on a very manly mannerism

I’m a very manly man, or so I’d have you believe. I’ve spent my whole life trying to convince you of that, but I’m afraid I’ll never really quite believe it myself. If only there was just one more thing, some magnificently beastly thing that would separate me from the wee girlies while at the same time oozing enough sophistication to keep me within sight of their budoir doors… but what could it be? And also, it’s just got to go well with butter.

A manly man has a beard and a gun. Check and check. He also smokes and drinks. Two more Nike swoops. But those are easy ones, and it can’t be helped but noticed that there are hundreds of checkboxes I’m not going to be able to scratch off. Like hunt. And fish and clean dinner with the same knife. And never cry. And de-emphasize hygiene. And own a hog. And prefer boots. And ride bareback. Interpret as you will, but ability and choice have conspired against me in this matter. So I guess a more realistic mask for myself would be of a gentleman of moderate-to-above-average-manliness. But what am I going to put my butter in?

Single malt Scotch.

I’m an absolute beginner in the world of whisky-without-an-e, but I’ve built up a miniature collection, and I can already tell I’m going to enjoy my expensive little hobby very much.

In my stash at the moment:

  • The Glenlivet 12 year
    This was my introduction to Scotch whisky. The first bottle was a Christmas gift from my boss, and now I buy it regularly. It’s my “drinking” whisky, and I buy it in the 1.75 liter size at Discount Barley Products, Inc. It’s ridiculous, because it’s a glass jug with a handle… but that doesn’t affect its taste one little bit. The flavor map at calls it “light & floral,” and I think I’d buy that. The Glenlivet is also my first choice in sleeping aids. So, as a medical expense, I am allowed to buy unlimited quantities of it. This works out quite nicely for me, as you can imagine. The original bottle also came with samplers of 15-and-18-year varieties, but they sort of disappointed me: the 12 year has an edge to it (it is whisky, after all), and smoothing that down through maturation and different finishes just seemed to change the character too much. I liked them, and they were good… but I guess the name Glenlivet invokes certain expectations of flavor and drinkability.
  • Glenfiddich 15 year
    Another gift from my boss, but this one hard earned through weeks of overtime and sleep deprivation. The Scots call Glenfiddich the Budweiser of whisky, but I just call it magnificent. As with The Glenlivet, this is how I now expect Glenfiddich to taste, and I’m not sure how the other varieties will sit with me now that I’ve appreciated this one so.
  • Ardmore 10 year
    Though it apparently ranks low on the smokiness scale this one seems very peaty to me, and is the only Scotch I’ve had that I think is improved by a little water. It’s not as subtle as the others and definitely isn’t my first choice in alcohol therapy, but it definitely has its place in my collection. The overriding flavor of the Ardmore reminds me of my English blend pipe tobaccos, and I’m dying to try it with a nice smoke.
  • Glenmorangie 10 year
    I’m not yet through even my first bottle of the stuff, but I’m willing to go ahead and say that Glenmorangie is my favorite single malt Scotch. It always disappoints me that it doesn’t give off the come-hither aromas that Glenfiddich and The Glenlivet do, but the flavors are subtle and balanced and nothing short of wonderful. The guy at my new favorite likka store highly recommends a sherry-cask-finished Glenmorangie (the Lasanta, I think?), and I’m eager to give it a shot when he has it in stock again.

There are several others I plan on trying, such as Ardmore, Glenkinchie and of course the Glenmorangie Lasanta, but it’ll be a few more months before my little allowance and I have recovered sufficiently from all the winter purchases I made (Christmas, Lynn’s birthday, our anniversary, two bottles of Scotch and a mess of games from the Steampowered holiday sales). Besides, there are other gentlemanly pursuits on my list… and almost all of those require budgets of moderate-to-above-average-manliness.

I guess, too, I should pick up some really, really cheap Scotch for the stupid butter first. I’m not wasting any of my mainline whiskies on sissygirl confections.

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Long live the voice


The good old days of Jott are over, but now there’s a new kid on the block (well, 3 streets over and 5 down): Google voice. Long live the voice.

Welcome back to my blog, you mugs.

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Whose Face Is It Anyway?

My mom always tried her best to make sure I absorbed advice about the stuff she learned hard. I appreciate her persistence now, but of course a lot of it didn’t make much sense when I was younger. It mostly just irritated me, especially the things that seemed to contradict themselves. I discovered the magical grayscale between black and white pretty early on in life, but for a long time I clung to a polar mindset when it came to the really big issues like morality and faith and cola preference and stuff like that. At the time it seemed there could be no room for compromise in those areas, but then I also had no concept whatsoever of the fluidity of context and human perception or the way the two bent reality like the mirrors at a Floyd laser show. I don’t know when exactly it was that I started sensing the outer reaches of my understanding, but I do have distinct memories of being overwhelmed by the complexity of certain problems that had been so dadgum obvious just a short time earlier.

Anyway, rambling story unrambled (and many relevant parts skipped), I better understand some of those contradictions now. Like this: it’s important to both care about and ignore the perceptions others have of you.

And here’s where this post actually starts.

I recently ran across the blog of a guy I worked with a few years ago. Ernie (his actual name, believe it or not) thinks it’s funny to have sexy pictures of David Hasselhoff scattered all over his blog. I happen to agree wholeheartedly, even if I would pick a completely different kind of dude if I ever lied about my team affiliation. Folks who know Ernie also know that he’s married, has a kid, and is very much full of crap. Of course, other folks might come across the images of a be-thonged Hasselhoff and think that Ernie’s a twink… or worse. Is there anything wrong with that? Maybe not. Will it ever cause problems for him? Chances are slim. But things like that have a way of biting a fool square in the glutes when said fool least expects it. As far as I know Ernie hasn’t had to buff any tooth marks out of his nethernethers (and he certainly isn’t a fool), but he did admit that he took down the blog a while back when he was interviewing for a job for fear that its discovery might complicate his chances of landing the position. While Ernie’s perceived enjoyment of looking at Michael Knight’s “lance” wouldn’t have really been a legal basis for not offering him the job, it’s easy to imagine an offended interviewer coming up with a host of other invalid but unquestionable reasons to pass on him. “Gut feelings” are handy things when deciding on something as important as hiring somebody, but are even handier as covers for prejudice, fear and just plain old bigotry.

Everything worked out for Ernie, but his funny little story (and also, oddly, an episode of The Sopranos), reminded me of one of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s best quotes:

No man for any considerable period can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.

I like it, and for the most part I agree.

I quit improv years ago because a) I wasn’t funny and b) the only thing anybody ever saw was the bad me. It was easy to take the low road with vulgarity and drug references and unkind imitation, and I got more and more comfortable doing just those things. It was my fault to a degree because it was an easy way out of most situations, and most folks thought it was funny the first coupla-thousand times. I never really offended anybody at first–or at least I was never confronted–but I eventually wound up playing it gay in most of my sketches, and things started to change. There were always the fratboy/dirty girl elements who loved the homo games and always wanted me to portray a gay golfer with Tourette’s or whatever, but I also realized there were a fair number of people who just weren’t comfortable with it. I never wondered if I might really be a screaming, divoting gay boy at heart, but I know for a fact that my spot-on (and sometimes even hilarious) gay humor sometimes led to tension off-stage. Judge all you want about folks who can’t handle the queer concept, but I guarantee at least one of your self-righteous “open-minded” friends is really a raging homophobe on the inside. Besides (and back on topic [sorry]), these were people I didn’t want to distance myself from and their personal boundaries were their business alone.

My cousin, Stuffy, went through a phase as a kid where’d he’d always ask, “What’s your point?” whenever you said something to him. It was infuriating, especially when it was shortened to just, “Point?”

So. Point?

My point is this: I’m a well-practiced liar. I did it on stage. I do it at work. I even do it at home. While I’ve always been compatible with a broad range of people, regardless of how wrong they are politically or how different socio-economically, in the end it’s almost always been because I’m a freaking Floyd mix tape that needs lasers to sound cool. OK, bad example, because the lasers aren’t actually necessary… so I guess I’m still just saying I’m a liar. My behavior over the past few decades has changed more quickly than can be explained by the maturation of my sensibilities, too, and in a lot of ways it actually belies the emotional maturity you’d expect from a body of my physical age. For that reason I often have trouble relating to people I considered good friends even just a few years ago. I can’t remember now what particular set of personality modifications I emulated for each set of friends or, in some cases, why I even pretended to want to hang out with them. And am I just effecting another personality now? Maybe one that conforms more to the cognitive and moral patterns I think more people should have? Maybe this isn’t really me at all. Old Nate was right: I’m plum cornfused.


My point is this: I’m a lying sack of crap and you might not even really know me. But I’m working on dropping the pretense and the drama and the dickweedery, and maybe we’ll still be friends after I’ve accomplished all that.

As if I can really change.


TBDL #44 – Teething sucks

The Thursday Baby Daddy Lesson for 3/25/2010

It’s fairly universally accepted that teeth are pretty darn neat things. What isn’t so neat, though, is the big bunch of nasty processes we humans are required to suffer through in order to achieve full toothiness. Is teething equally horrible for all babies, though? To find out, let’s investigate the three types of baby I’ve brainily identified for you.

Some babies, and specifically those belonging to the group I’ve scientifically classified Group A, are wonderful little critters. They’re tolerant to all kinds of crappy conditions and come highly recommended for young, first-time and otherwise ignorant parents. Given the choice, and especially in situations where brains and personality don’t occupy dominant slots on the Stuff My Kid Must Have ‘Cause I Couldn’t or Wouldn’t chart, there’s no going wrong with a Group A babe. Composed of tykes, squirts, urchins and other hoodlums too blissfully ignorant to be bothered by the scenery zipping past (eating, sleeping, falling on their heads, getting picked up by the wrong folks from that place with all the other babies, whatever), Group A truly represents the best-of-breed in terms of easy, no-fuss parenting bliss.

Then there are other babies, those Group B trend-setters who sort of phase in and out of the reality enjoyed by most adults, selectively freaking and chilling, watching and ignoring, gettin’ it and poochin’ it. In my mind–and therefore in near absolute fact–Group B babies are a pretty good representation of the human race in general, accounting for at least 80-90% of that population not already claimed by the ever-growing Group A. These fellows have much to offer, including a rich variety of challenges and worries not typically provided by the miniature denizens of the group previously discussed. In all, while Group B babes aren’t always easy to raise, they’re the ones discussed in all those parenting books you’re sure to have stashed all about the place. Literate parents, then, should have no trouble gleaning  big, meaty nuggets of truth from the roughly 200 million baby daddy books in print.

Finally come the wonderfully terrible remainders of the bunch, those little ones who wear the mark of the Group C stamp and notice everything of the world around them with super-human sensitivity. Much can be said of this group, but lots and lots of time can be saved through a little simplification: as parents dealing with C-bebes, you can’t get away with any crap. It’s a good thing these babies are in the absolute minority because, while they tend to grow up marvelously gifted in some way, not a ding-dang thing on the road to adolescence is easy (and we shan’t even discuss the hurdles that can appear at that stage).  Group C can yield marvelous rewards, but should you find yourself with a little one belonging to that class you will be paying for those rewards on the front end.

Hang on.

Perhaps I should have mentioned earlier that today’s lesson isn’t actually for Group A baby daddies. Sorry about that… teething won’t be an issue for you. Perhaps you’ll accept a toast of apology in honor of your children? Here’s to them, those blessed little fellows, those happy-go-lucky little bags of sunshine and goodness who don’t notice when Bad Things fall from the sky and squish all those about: God love ya, and good luck with everything, hear? Those giant spikes drilling bloody tunnels through your faces? Yeah, don’t you worry a thing about that.

And, really, I don’t have anything for you Group B baby daddies either. Teething will sort of suck for your little clan, but advice for you is best gotten from the mainsteam-just-give-‘im-some-Tylenol-and-every-little-thing-will-be-peaches forums. Because, honestly, other than a few sleepless nights here and there, everything will be peaches.

This, my three friends, is a lesson about Group C babies who, when they are first children, are typically also known as only children. It’s also a very short lesson, and one that didn’t really need all the lead-in I supplied. Again, my bad, but here it is: nice Group C babies become something else entirely whenever new teeth are screwing themselves in. It’s horrible and terrible, and it’ll last for freaking months and months and months. Just remember the little fellows don’t mean to be bastards (unless they actually are… in which case it still wouldn’t be their fault) and that however bad it is for you it’s absolute hell for them. An interesting characteristic of Group C babies is that no two are really all-so-much alike, so you’re pretty much on your own figuring out what to do. Figure it out and do what it takes, though, because if your child isn’t in foster care by the time his teeth are all in, you two are going to have one hell of a good relationship. Well, if you get through potty-training too, that is…

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Tapping in?

So… I haven’t been around here for ages upon bloomin’ ages, but maybe I’m sort of kind of back. I’ve had several moments of near-clarity regarding my future and the whole writing dream recently and, while it’s not really that important what ran through my seldom-used noggin, the result is that I’m hyped like I haven’t been in years (wow – literally).

I haven’t completely worked out what all will be changing or how… but you, my long forgotten three followers, will know my plans almost as soon as I do. Or within a month or two, or something.

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Five years without my biggest fan

Today is the fifth anniversary of my mom’s death. She was the biggest, proudest and most outspoken fan I’ve ever had, and it’s been tough generating all my own enthusiasm all this time without her. It’s a hurt that hasn’t gone away after all these years, but distance from the day my grandfather called with all his bluntness has sure helped with the perspective and the healing and all the good emotional stuff that’s supposed to dull the edges of such a traumatic, horrible thing.

I miss her dearly, and it’s not fair that she won’t be here to celebrate her favorite holiday with her little grandson, but she’s celebrating Christmas with our King this year. She’s okay now.

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TBDL #1 – Naked babies are tough to hold

Having been a baby daddy for 13 months now, I find myself in a position from whence I can dispense advice with at least half the authority of the non-parents who have been giving me suspect parenting tips all this time. Being at least half as brilliant as I believe myself to be, then, I thought it only fair that I share my inspiring thoughts with you, my three faithful readers. Beginning with this groundbreaking inaugural issue, I’ll be posting a new lesson every Thursday. Enjoy… and you’re welcome.

The Thursday Baby Daddy Lesson for 5/28/2009

Naked babies aren’t as easy to hold as fully clothed babies. They’re skinnier, for one thing, and slippery. You might think there’s more to grab hold of when dealing with naked babies, especially in the case of boy babies, but those probably aren’t load bearing structures you’re going after. The rule of thumb is that if it dangles or has the tendency to hide in a diaper, it shouldn’t be used as a point of suspension for the child. In my opinion, the baby daddy’s favored hand should always be placed firmly under the buttocks of the naked baby, supporting at least 76% of the child’s weight. This will prevent the hand from wondering where it might get a better purchase point because: a) it will be busy providing lift; and b) it will be worrying about what plans the child’s buttocks might have in the near term. Also, naked babies can urinate on you.

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