Sunday, November 30, 2008

National Novel Writing Month... TGIO

That's right kids, I did it!

I couldn't wait to be done the thing, and now that I finally am, I am happy as hell. It is not readable, would read more like a scrapped David Lynch notepad tan anything terribly coherent, but I managed to sit my bitt down and force myself to write 50,000words in one month.

Wooo hoooo!!!

Thank God it's over...but still... WOOO HOOOOO!!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Edison, 2007- Nov. 25, 2008

Well... the mockery continued, but Ed is laughing no longer. The crazy mice went overkill, actually tipping the snap-trap upside down, for Pete's sake, as well as taking about five dumps IN the glue trap I set in there. The little guy appeared to have gotten stuck in it, as they were a bunch of gray hairs, but he somehow escaped.

Last night, Tina opened the drawer where the little kook liked to frequent, and saw him struggling mightily, stuck in the glue trap and dragging it toward the back of the drawer. She quickly shut the drawer and said something like, "I can't watch this."

I got an old coffee can and tossed Edison and his giant snow-shoe like glue trap inside. I think I hurt him pretty badly trying to stuff the trap, which was slightly larger than the opening to the can, inside it.

Placing the can in the mud room, I went into the living room to find Tina with eyes of red, sniffling.

"I'm so sad he had to get caught in the glue. It's just too bad they have to poop everywhere."

Talk about a sweetie... she was absolutely busted up about this little rodent, granted, he was kinda cute, but still, this little punk has been taunting us for weeks. I checked on him, the little guy was terrified and hurt badly. I have never been much for killing stuff, so I said a little prayer for forgiveness for killing the tiny creature and put him out of his misery as quickly as possible.

I hope he was working alone, I'm calling it "The Lone Rodent Theory"... but there's something about the angle at which the cheese was removed from the snap trap that suggests there may have been a second mouse involved in the plot.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Reluctantly, Tina agreed that the "nice" traps were "nice" because they don't work, and allow mice to have a good time. We decided we had to go for the kill traps. After a grocery shopping trip, we popped into Ace Hardware and asked for some advice.

We got a terrific guy who seemed quite knowledgeable on the topic of extermination. Our new pal, a mid-fifties character with delightful stories of a fishing club, infested with mice. He and his pals laid a bunch of these little clip traps (which packed quite a snappy little punch to his pencil) around the fishing shack, and said they caught twenty-eight mice one night, actually turning it into a drinking game.

Feeling confident, in spite of being aided by an apparent serial killer, we headed home with our new sure-to-work traps. "Plum jam," our blood-thirsty friend recommended.

We opted for blueberry jam, putting one trap behind the refrigerator and the other in an empty drawer the little punk(s) like to visit. I put the trap in the drawer on a slight bulge in the contact paper in the drawer. Upon awakening this morning, I was quite annoyed when I opened the drawer to find the mouse had flipped the trap onto its side and looted the thing, cleaning out all the blueberry jam, and taking a dump next to the trap for good measure.

Today, I went old school. I took a small slice of cheddar cheese and wedged it onto the lever. This time, I put the trap on flat ground- no bumps underneath to diminish the snap reflex. On top of that- the little vermin might b able to lick jam away, but if he wants the cheese, he's going to have to nibble on it at the very least.

Tina called me into the kitchen a short while ago. The mouse ate the entire block of cheese, somehow without tripping the trap. To make it all the more insulting, there were about ten tiny little pops around the trap- he must have been there chomping away for half an hour, minimum.

This afternoon, I threw another trap in there, reloaded. He/they cleaned them both out again, and actually took a dump on TOP of one of the traps. It isn't enough that we feed this little twerp every day, but he hangs around and mocks us openly.

I may loathe the little bastard, but I have to respect him. Let's face it, this mouse is a genius. I think I'm going to call him Edison, then I'm going to put his lights out...for good.


Sunday, November 23, 2008


A quick update on word count. I was hoping to get to 36,000 today, then all I need to do is average 2,000 words per day through next Sunday and I'll make it to 50,000.

I got close, but truthfully, this thing is incredibly dull. At this point, it is about 110% about word count and nothing else. There is a usable story line, and old one I've wanted to work out, but I feel I've lost the story and the writing is actually fairly bad and pretty dull and matter-of-fact. I can see I need to work on how to get out a lot of exposition with regard to certain important points.

Thanks for following along. I can;t wait until the damn thing is done so I can write something I want to work on. The good thing is that doing this has proven to me I can make time to write, and I can pump out words if I just sit myself down and go to it.

The writing group I have been in off and on for eight or nine years looks like it is getting a bit rejuvenated as well, which is nice. A couple members are really cranking out the words.

Monday, November 17, 2008

If only the mice were this dumb...

I moved into a new house with the lovely Tina a couple of weeks ago, and much to our dismay, we discovered we have a mouse, or mice. I've seen one of the little devils twice. Per Tina's sweetness, we opted to go with the "friendly" traps, or as I like to call them "traps that don't work".

One mouse figured out it was safer to actually chew through the side of the trap to get at the peanut butter than it was to enter the traditional way. I was irritated, but duly impressed- "these little pains-in-the-ass are pretty smart," I thought out loud.

After two weeks of finding little mouse surprises, Tina has been converted from "let's catch them and set them free somewhere" to "we've got to get rid of these bastards".

I foolishly thought that the 80 pound bull dog sleeping in the kitchen would be at least a minor deterrent, but this dog sleeps like Rip Van Winkle. You literally open the front door and walk by him without waking him up. I often have to shake him awake for his end of the night bathroom run, so I guess it is delusional to expect that he is going to hear mice and scare them off.

I went to a movie today with my dad. When we leave the house, we leave Manny (the aforementioned bull dog) in the kitchen, which is a pretty good size). The house is a bit old, so you have to make sure you pull the doors tight until you hear a "click", telling you that the door is, in fact, shut tight.

I learned by not doing this that Manny likes to nose the door open and sit on the couch or my chair. He also likes to break into the bedroom and toss a certain bag of toiletries around, decorating the room with toilet paper like a jr high kid out on the town Halloween night.

Arriving home after the movie, I immediately noticed there was no manny in the kitchen...not in his bed, not anywhere. The second thing I noticed was the bedroom door slightly ajar. I walked in, already irritated at myself for not being more careful and making sure the door was shut tight. I walked in expecting to find him on the bed, and ready to give him a good stink eye and grimace along with a stern word (not that I recommend abusing animals, but you seriously hit this oaf with a frying pan and he wouldn't notice.) I asure you, the stink-eye inflicts mroe punishment than anything corporal.

But where is he? He isn't on the bed... the other door, leading around to the living room is still closed, and no Manny. I sat on the bed, confused for a moment before I heard a low growl. Not an angry growl, but one of frustration... the kind of growl I often emit when I find Manny on the couch after several hundred episodes of pulling him off the couch and banishing him to the kitchen.

The sound was coming from the closet.

I opened the closet to find Manny amid his favorite bag of toiletries, with several pairs of my pants on the floor, providing a make-shift bed. The poor little pooch, no bed in the closet? If he had guessed it would have been so inhospitable, he probably would'ne have broken in in the first place, the humanity!

Manny usually sports a very guilty look and puts his head as close to the ground as possible, sheepishly asking for leniency when caught in the act. Since I had been gone for 2 1/2 hours, he must've figured being locked in a closet all that time should work as "time served", and he simply paraded out of the closet and strolled directly to his bed as if to say, "it's about time you got home, jackass... do you know how long I've been in there?"

He hadn't counted on not being able to nose the door back open after he closed it by resting his giant butt against it.

The thing with this mutt is, he has such personality and such a lump, that you can't possibly stay made at him for longer than two minutes. It took him all of five minutes to pass out after he got so tired, resting in the closet on my bed of pants.

I amnot sure if we need a smarter dog, or dumber mice.

Precious Moments with Dad, volume I

I went to see the new James Bond flick today with pop, which made me happy because we had quite a blowout last Friday. I called Saturday to see if he wanted to see Boind Monday, and true to form, the blowout never came up, and I think dad was happy to move on.

It is so easy for me dispense advice on avoiding conflict with parental units, much easier than it is to follow my own advice. I usually do a much better matador job, sliding by confrontation like a turn style, moving with the flow of silliness, but I stumbled last Friday. After 10 or 15 minutes of sitting quietly during idle ranting about gays or blacks or the world problem of the day, I stupidly responded when asked repeatedly about the target of the day.

One blunder I make over and over is just that- responding. I foolishly get amnesia and think there is some sensible answer that will change the way dad sees something, and once I utter even a word, I realize I have done it again, and it is too late. There is no escape once the man is engaged. I sometimes get a little concerned that he gets too worked up and excited, and constantly spend everything after my first reply trying to end said conversation amicably, or at least, to end it without further carnage.

These attempts always fail.

This time my stupidity began with, "dad, you have a particular view..." which was the last thing I said for about five minutes.

Pop's reply came in the form of a pterodactyl-like scream, "my view is WONDERFUL!" followed by a defense consisting mostly of expletives.

I figured it was a good time to say aloha.

The beauty of dad is that he realizes what's important, and has an amazing ability to move beyond even the ugliest implosions... inside, he knows the important thing is enjoying each other and that we aren't both going to live forever.

I screwed and up and dropped a can of coke I was planning on smuggling into the theater to drink with my popcorn, puncturing the can and spraying it all over the inside of my windshield, as a result of this blunder, I was a little late for the movie. We would have missed the first couple of minutes, and I hate that, so we waited for the next shopwing, thirty minutes later.

One of the most annoying things about movie theaters today is the moronic idea that people paying ten bucks a ticket should be subjected to commercials...and not even fun, creative commercials, but the same ads television at home is inundated with.

After about ten minutes of commercials, dad yells, "C'mon!" to which I got a chuckle. I leaned over and said something like, "This is my fault, buddy. If I was five minutes earlier, we could have gone to the last show.

Still feeling a little dicey about the verbal assault from last week, dad was doing everything he could to cut me slack, and shrugged it off.

A few minutes later, commercials still flowing like a river in spring, Frank Caliendo had a commercial. There were only about five other people in the theater, but two of them were sitting in the row behind us.

Perhaps the most entertaining moment of the entire day for any of us came when after the Frank TV commercial my father said rather loudly during an unanticipated silence, "This guy is a fucking idiot."

Which is today's special moment with dad.

The guys behind us concurred, corroborating dad's viewpoint with laughter and nodding approval.

I have to say while I think Frank Caliendo is a talented comedian, I have had about enough of the commercials myself. They are practically running non-stop for pete's they've gotta get you at the movies, too?

The move started shortly thereafter and we both enjoyed it.

As they ran the opening credits, dad said, only half-kidding, "I can't believe I'm still awake."

It has been a while since we have seen a movie, as pop just hasn't felt rested and well enough to attend, so I was very conscious of the blessing that is getting to go see a movie with dad, and soaked it up... every bit of it, from his lambasting of Frank Caliendo, to tossing pocorn at him from two seats away, receiving a wave and a scowl, to his one word reviews of whatever we've just seen... short and sweet.

Stay tuned for Precious Moments with dad, volume II to be published shortly after I see him next.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Nano Struggles

Hey kids.

Am a bit stagnated on the old Nano Novel. Stuck at about 18,700 or so. I am getting (what I am told are common) temptations to abort and start something fresh and new. I am going to dig in later this afternoon and just try to plow through.

I appreciate the emails of support and enthusiasm, and stuff that sounds like, "can't wait to read etc etc" but I just wanna say... the reason I emailed a buncha folks and told them I was writing was so I would be, well, shamed into following through, as I often jump ship and failt to stick with creative enterprises. This exercise is really about following through.

Even if this thing turned out to be tolerable, it would be a first draft and I wouldn't let a cat read it, unless he only couldn;t read in some foreign language.

On a side note, a friend of mine asked me if I would consider writing romance stories/novels. This is now known as "chick lit". The title itself is sort of disrespectful of the genre. The general implication is that the stories are sort of vapid and substance free, formulaic and shallow.

Well heck ya and write a story like that!

But seriously...I have contemplated pumping out one of these babies to see if I could make some easy cash. I would love it if anyone wanted to suggest some awful and/or thin plot lines.

Onward with the Nano for now!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

17,000 words

Well, I crested 17,000 words today, and am almost back on pace. More importantly, I am hating the story slightly less. I might have been a little hard on it (and me) when I started referring to it as "soft porn". Yeah, there was one moderately graphic slice, but it is not a theme.

I am headed, I think, in the right direction, as the poor bastard's life is getting ready to spiral...haven't quite yet decided the exact straw for the proverbial camel's back... hey, as an aside- who knew it was spelled proverbial? I had to spell check incorrect versions of that words three times... anywho, I do feel like the exercise is going fairly well in that it is teaching me to write without editing as I go... that's what second drafts are for.

The point being, if you are in constant editing mode, you never finish a FIRST DRAFT.

Oh, and I (cleverly) named the thing "Boomerang"... cuz everything is gonna back on the protagonist...get it?... get it?

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus

On the plane this weekend, I read "The Scandalous Gospel of Jesus". Author Peter Gomes has been a professor of religion at Harvard for over 30 years. The guy is not only hilarious, but I think really gets it.

The big "scandal" he writes of is the comfortable, socially and politically powerful church state we now live in, something he says was never meant to be, and how the bulk of the church has settled into secular pride and acceptance and has not followed the teachings of the man they claim as their God and leader.

It is so easy to forget that Jesus came to rock the boat, and yes, comfort the agitated, but also, and perhaps more importantly, to agitate the comfortable.

It is interesting, and his observations are telling. Often instead of following the examples of Jesus, we hold him up as Lord, then do what we think is the right thing, seek power, secular influence, use fear sort of a Christian version of Machiavellian methods, assuming He would approve because we believe our intentions to be good.

I thought it intriguing that he points out that Jesus had no real statement on homosexuality, but did have clear opinions about divorce, and how odd he found it that gay marriage is promoted as the real threat to heterosexual marriage, and even society at large, as opposed to divorce. In the wake of the recent ban on gay marriage in California, I found it riveting that Gomes talked about this years ago when writing the book.

He wondered how those who support the bans on gay marriage would react if divorce, clearly the greater threat, were included in the legislation.

At one point, he likens the fear-mongering around gay marriage to McCarthyism and the supposed threat Communism once was to our well-being, observing that in our culture, we always seem to need something to be afraid of, and to the fear around desegregation years before.

Gomes theorizes that the opposite of fear is not courage, but compassion, and when you are in fear, it is impossible to share compassion... but that was the living example Jesus set for us... compassion to those who murdered him, compassion for those on the cross next to him, compassion for the sick and poor, and even compassion for the rich.

Compassion is scary, it requires shifting of thought from me to you, and heaven knows we think to think about ourselves and how everything applies to us. It requires dropping fear-based self-preservation and appealing to the best part of me, the part which is willing to sacrifice something for the good of someone else.

Compassion was the Way out of fear, then...and now.

I am reluctant to write anything political. I am a fairly a-political dude... but I take Obama's election, whether you are Republican or Democrat, as a sign that fear is being shifted to the back-burner temporarily, and hope is being given a chance once again.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Fear Not the Word Count

It's Saturday, November 8th. If I were on pace for 50,000 in the Write-a-novel in-a-month deal, I would be at 13,600 words after today. I am still sitting at about 9,400, but oddly, am not concerned. I read on the Nanowrimo website that week two is often the toughest week for many participants.

I am honestly pretty excited about it. I can't wait to find out what direction this thing is going to go in, it is like it is writing itself and I am just watching the story develop, jotting it down as it tells what is happening.

Nothing happened to deter me after my fast start, I simply haven't been able to write due to work and some travel. I wish I could have broken out the laptop on my flights, but my laptop has one of the lamest batteries of all time and is good for about 10-15 minutes, tops. I do have a 90 minute layover tomorrow, so maybe I can get 45 minutes or so in there, but I doubt it. I would almost rather wait until I get home and can just focus for a couple of hours.

Normally, I would get bummed out at falling behind, or would see it as a sign that I wasn't going to see it through, but even though it is early, I have a great vibe about finishing, and more importantly, I feel like this little project is really going to rejuvenate my old writer's group which had become a writer's group in name only... correct-none of us writes much anymore.

I am in Oklahoma City, OK today. I took a ride by the new Federal bldg which replaced the building McVeigh blew up. It is an ominous sight, with many statues, benches, headstones and such set about in remembrance of those killed in the bombing.

Oklahoma City is a pretty neat city. Right outside of downtown (This the "old"part of town) it looks nothing like city living, with very suburban style homes. Although they are very close to one another, they are large, beautiful homes which look like they should be set somewhere in the countryside rather than 1/2 mile from a city center.

The weather here today is my favorite 65 degrees and sunny.

I am pumped to get back at the novel.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Better than Expected

Well, it is going much better than I thought. I took yesterday (Tuesday) off as I worked and by the time I got home, it was pretty late and I was watching the election results. I went to an abbreviated version of my writer's group, where we were basically checking in about our Nano novels.

Today I was scooting around the NaNo site and checked out a few of the Nanos of past years that have actually been published. Just reading the synopses of a few of these helped my creative mind percolate a bit. I thought of characters I've always wanted to do something with, and combined a little of them with a little of this guy and a little of me and added one to the story.

From ancient history... well, twenty years or so, that's pretty ancient to me, I remembered a couple of unsavory but compelling characters I knew little of, but all I knew was pretty dark. I actually have to tone down the characters I know from real life to make them more believable. It always amuses me how many of the "real" things that have happened to me, or that I know about are too extreme for fiction, or are not believable.

I got on a decent roll today and cranked out a couple thousand words, but more importantly, started to get a shape of some semblance of a developing story.

9,000+ words...I'd say it was about time.

Mostly, I am just excited that I am actually DOING IT. I am also pumped because my stagnant writer's group is really flowing. I mean EVERYONE is back at it, it is really inspiring. Another local comic jumped in, Mandy Donovan. I don't know her that well, but I have net her a few times. She has the distinction of being the only Quaker I know who is also a comic.

I am taking a bit of a break this afternoon, and will probably jump back in and write some more at some point today.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Day 2

Pretty productive day, I must say. I cranked up a tad over 4500 words, so I'm a little ahead of pace for 50,000. Still no plot to speak of and no idea when one might show up, but it seems to be flowing pretty smoothly.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

2100 words

Woo hoo!!! The night didn't start out as I had hoped, but it went better than I expected as I found some way top crank out 2100+ words in about 90 minutes.I decided to meet a few other worcester NaNos for a write in at a place called The Q- a cafe on Chandler St. in Worcester.

The place was pretty cool, but small, and they had someone playing music. Someone told the NaNo rep that there was no music tonight, alas, there was music, so I bolted. I ordered a slice of key lime pie that I cancelled, but I took the cofee to go. At $2.36, it seemed a tad pricey until I took a sip- it was nirvana.

If I was going to pat over two bucks for a cup of java again, I hope it tasted that good. It was almost worth the 15 minute trip just to get that coffee. I knew if I went home I wouldn;t get anything done. My girlfriend would be there studying, but I would probably log on and goof off online or something, so I searched my brain for a place I could hang for a while and at least get some writing in.

I passed Wholly Canolli, and it wa still open. It was around 7pm, and I was pleasantly surprised to find they were open until 9pm. I ordered another coffee I didn't need and an Apple Crumb Square that I definitely did not need.

At first, I was the only one in the place and all was perfect. Forty-five minutes later I got another half cup of coffe, and altough the place had filled up a bit and got a bit noisier, it was still terrific. Ater taking a quick word count and finding I had surpassed 2100 words, I logged off after starting a new thought.

Someone from my writing group mentioned that Stephen King always left a piece after jotting down the very beginning to the next idea. It added continuity and gave you somewhere to start from so you didn;t have to go from a dead stop next time youpicked up the keyboard.

Here's hoping tomorrow is even more successful word count-wise as today.

Woo hoo!

Kick off... Time to PANIC

Well, it is November 1st. Day one
Publish Post
of the November writing and I have absolutely NO idea what I am going to write. I am meeting a group or NaNos at a cafe in Worcester and I have not a cl;ue what I am going to do.

I think I am going to ask for a "prompt" and just take off and see what happens.

Man, I wish I had somehow better prepared for this...but hey, I did look at a number of plot ideas, etc and nothing grabbed me, so I decided to just ask for a prompt, pray and hope something flows out of my head.

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