Monday, March 31, 2008

Round Robin, Sophie From Shinola Part 5

Last week I signed up to be part of a round robin writing experiment that comes together across many blogs and was thought of by Nathan over at Polybloggimous. The premise of the experiment is pretty straightforward: one person starts the story, writing approx. 100-500 words and the next person puts part two on his or her blog, changing one main element of the story, linking then to the previous and following posts and so on. The clearer, full instructions, can be found here, along with part one (scroll down). Then there are the following parts:

Part the Second
Part the Third
Part the Fourth

Sophie's second body was a latticework icosahedron stubbed with momentum and death, incapable of both atmospheric and interstellar travel, but ideal for turning and whirling and whipping around the first invasion fleet, cutting it to pieces in twelve-point-five minutes. If fake-Sophie wasn't crazy when she saw Sophie's first two bodies, oh, she was crazy after the Battle Of Chenolla Oort, where the precognitive interdictors of SpaceForce ambushed the Kollithi fleet. Crazy and weak and screaming from within the brain in the shell.

Part 5

From far below, Blink could tell that Sophie was in distress. Through their link, Blink could feel her fear and confusion, even the fear of the imposter. The imposter smelled the same as Sophie, and this confused Blink. The imposter’s thoughts were different from Sophie’s but there were similarities, and this confused Blink more. Another spike of fear and this time pain from Sophie and not-Sophie. For a second time, Blink blinked. The Mother was up there with Sophie yet she did not do anything to stop the fear and pain. He had to get to Sophie. If the Mother was not going to stop whatever was hurting Sophie, Blink would have to.

The small brown creature was still stuck in the hole in the corner of the dumpster. Blinked nudged it again, trying to push it through the hole, but it only squeaked louder. The small brown creature was a filthy thing. Normally Blink didn’t eat filthy things. Not when Blink received good food from Sophie and the Mother, good thinks like shrimp crackers. But Blink could wait no longer and he flicked out his tongue and snapped up the small brown creature. There was one little squeak before the crunch and then it was still. The filthy thing wasn’t all bad, and the taste triggered some exciting hereditary memories from when his ancestors roamed the fields of Chenolla VI.

Blink expanded the link with the Mother, and her mind was full of strange words like psychiatric evaluation, defense mechanism, and split personality, all of which were associated with images of Sophie. The Mother was also very sad. It made Blink sad. Then came words like looney bin and mental. The Mother thought that Sophie had no chance of getting into the SpaceForce Training Academy with such disorders. Blink didn’t understand the words, only the feelings.

With the thing out of his way, Blink began the process of loosening his joints to fit through the hole. It was a slow process and many times Blink picked up more fear from Sophie and not-Sophie. This made Blink want to rush, but he took his time so as not to get hurt on the sharp metal around the hole in the dumpster.

Finally, Blink was free and he pulled his many limbs back into position. The building that stood before him was tall and smooth, and Sophie was near the top. That would not stop Blink, because Blink, with his many limbs, was such a good climber. All he knew was that Sophie needed him, and so he went.

Part the Sixth

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Another Report From The Onion's Funny and Wrong File

The Onion is great. America's finest news source indeed. The videos are awesome. So many are so funny and so wrong at the same time. I came across this one today and holy crap sometimes I have to wonder how they get away with this stuff. But then you'll see for yourself.


Today, as I was reading the very fine Story Bones blog where Mr. Buchheit had a some commentary about collaborative fiction project being organized on Polybloggimous. It sounds like an interesting project. Basically, he’s gathering a group of people to all work on a story linking one blog to another as the story is written. Each person will need to write 500 to 1,000 words for their portion, AND change some fundamental of the story i.e., a sex change for the main character, a change of seasons, etc. etc. He explains it much better than me. Go on, take a look.

Anywho, I decided, what the hell, I’ll give it a shot. So I signed up and I’m very interested to see how this will all work out. Once sign ups are over (this Sunday I think), the author order will be chosen at random and the story will begin. Each author will link to the previous post, and the following post so the story can be read from one blog to another. It looked like there were a lot of people that wanted to participate the last time I looked.

I've worked on collaborative projects before. They can be fun and they can be frustrating. One I worked on, my friend gave me the story that he had been thinking of and then I would write and bring it to him and he might add a little something but I did most of it. Then it turns out the story he was thinking of was completely different from the one I was thinking of and I totally lost interest. The other one, another friend began a story and emailed it to me with the instructions to write for at least half an hour and send it back and we couldn't talk about the plot at all. That one was much more enjoyable, trying to write the other into a corner and see how he got out of it, seeing what twists and new plot devices the other would throw in there. We went back and forth for over a year and ended up with just over 31,000 words before things kind of ground to a halt. Life just got too busy. You can see what we did with that here.

So, anyway, I'm looking forward to this collaboration thing. Not only will it be interesting to see the outcome, I could always use another excuse to get some writing done.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

First Draft Down

Today I completed the first draft of my entry for the Witer's Digest Short Story Competition. The word-count limit is 4,000, and I'm just shy of 2,000 right now. As I look over it, I know I'll add a little bit here, take away a little bit there. It won't reach the 4,000-word mark. I can tell the story in less, and there's no need to add unnecessary wordage. There's one section which is the main character's motivation for doing what he does that isn't quite right. I know how it should go, and that's the biggest fix that I can think of right now. Eventually, I'll pass it along to some of the other people at work to look over and critique.

I'm trying to encourage some of the people at work and a couple people I used to work with to enter. So far, I'm the only one who has even put word one down. Hopefully with gentle encouragement and prodding, they will finish their stories. Otherwise, according to a predetermined agreement, they'll be put to the thumb screws!

Monday, March 10, 2008

I'm Sorry But I Can't Tell You

Just got back from lodge tonight, and it's always funny when I talk to friends or relations about it and they'll ask questions, and there are just certain things I can't say. I took an oath people, and I'm not going to talk to the uninitiated about it. For instance, I was talking to my buddy Solomon tonight and told him I had to go to lodge. Then he started to send me text messages asking about it and my response just had to be "Sorry, I can't say." I love it. It drives people nuts.

I had a boss at Office Max, and his uncle was a Mason, and Ray would tell me that his uncle would tell him about a bull and some crazy stuff, and when he'd ask me about that, I just couldn't tell him. My dad asked about it too, when I joined. He joked about secret handshakes and passwords and all that. He didn't think I was serious when I told him that it was all secret. As my father-in-law says, though, if you really want to know about it, just go to the library. It's all there somewhere.

After lodge I was talking with one of the other guys about how it must have been nice to be a Mason when being a Mason meant something. Today, except among other Masons, it really doesn't mean anything to be a Mason. There was a time when men wanted to become Masons and people understood and respected what they did. Now, at least in Illinois, the Masonic culture is struggling to live as it's members are growing older and dying. There are very few young Masons that I've seen in my area. I've talked to my friends about whether or not they want to join, but everyone's too busy nowadays, and there's no interest. It seems like something needs to be done if the trend is going to change, but maybe it's already too late.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Who's Your Favorite Post-Beatles Beatle?

You all know who they are: John, Paul, George, and Ringo. The Fab Four with a whole catalogue of songs and hits. Their careers as Beatles lasted the better part of a decade, but what about after that? They went their separate ways and they each went on to create some very different music. Now who do you like best?

For my money, it's gotta be George. His music and lyrics speak to me ulike any of the other post-Beatles music that I've heard. The messages of independent though, anti-materialism, and treating others fairly are messages that everyone should hear. His religious songs are also good, even though I'm not an overly religious guy. (I feel like I'm not explianing myself adequetly.) I like Lennon's stuff too, but it just doesn't have the same effect. McCartney's songs are too poppy. They're ok for every once in a while, but I can only take them in small doses. With the exception of Memory Almost Full, that was a pretty good album and I enjoy most of the songs on there. I've never listened to much of Ringo's stuff, but what I've heard hasn't encouraged me to seek out more.

The funny thing is, as a group, I really prefer the Lennon songs, and there aren't a whole lot of Harrison songs that I'm real keen on. I guess that just goes to show you how people work differently in a group dynamic and individually.

Anyway, who's your favorite post-Beatle Beatle?

Nerds Everywhere Lament

I saw the sad news today that Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungons & Dragons died today at the age of 69. Apparently, he lived in Lake Geneva, WI, a place I've been to a few times. I was first introduced to the vast world of D&D during middle school, around the age of 12. I played that or some other d20-based game system that probably wouldn't have been around if it wasn't for him until sometime in college. I'd probably still be playing if the core game group hadn't dispersed.

It is unfortunate news, but I can't say that I'm terribly upset by it. It was intersting to see from the report that Gygax was holding weekly games at his home until as recently as January. I'm sure he would have been a very interesting and intelligent man to meet and hold a conversation with. Sad news for the world of gamers everywhere.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Too Much Partying

Too much partying this weekend. The Mrs. and the little one went to a baby shower on Saturday, and then off to my brother Brian's house Saturday night for his 35th birthday. Happy Birthday (his actual birthday is tomorrow). Then today, we had to go to my in-laws for my mother-in-law's 49th birthday. Happy Birthday. With all of that done and my week-long cold, I'm beat. Logan is even more bushed, with two nights of getting to bed late and two days of irregular naps, he needs a day of normalcy. That should be tomorrow, hopefully.

Right now, I'm ready for bed. This stupid cold needs to go away and I think the only way that's going to happen is with sleep. Unfortunately, sleep is a luxury that I have not been able to afford lately. Not that I couldn't just go upstairs and go to bed, but the darn cold keeps me up coughing for a couple hours before I actually get to fall asleep. Wow, that sounds really whiny. Oh well. Time to shut 'er down.