Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Too Big to Fail Whale

I've been on The Twitter for about a year now, and although I'm occasionally amused, I still don't quite get it.

Eventually, as the technology progresses, Twitter will outlive its usefulness. As much as people enjoy yelling out into the void and seeing what other people yell back, Twitter will only last so long. Like AOL, MySpace, and others before it, it will die a slow death as newer, fancier ideas supplant it. This may happen in two years or in twenty, but when it succumbs we won't mourn it for long. We'll adapt and keep on going, because no matter how the media evolves, we'll always have something to say. At least, I know I will.

My whale is too big to fail.

(Okay, so I really just wanted to mess with Twitter's imagery. Not that it makes anything I've said any less true...)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


In the past, I’ve called this blog the place where memes go to die. When I’m given a blog award, I redesign it in Photoshop, ignore most (if not all) of the associated rules, and pass it along to absolutely no one. Well, today that’s going to change.

Okay, I may have modified the image, but old habits, like Bruce Willis, die hard. So, why am I breaking from tradition and adhering to the award’s prescribed rules? For my answer, I give you these four simple words:

Blog. Award. Of DOOM.

Today’s DOOM is courtesy of the epically fantastic Joseph L. Selby, who looked at my life and determined it didn’t have nearly enough DOOM in it. If I were you, I’d go check out his blog. Oh, and that’s not a suggestion. In case you forgot, you must now obey me because I am your overlord.

The rules (which I’ve only altered ever so slightly):
  1. When you receive the Blog Award of DOOM your task is to post a short selection of your writing, 100 - 300 375 words, in which your favorite a character suffers a horrible fate. It can be your favorite a character from your own writing or from something you've read, it can be from a finished manuscript, a WIP or something you just made up on the spot. Your choice, but it has to be full of DOOM!
  2. Pass it on to one other blogger and let them know their DOOM has come.
  3. Remember that the person who gave you the award also received it. Go back to their post to read and comment on their writing sample. Make sure to thank them for sending the DOOM your way.
  4. Whenever you use the word DOOM in your post, you must capitalize the whole thing.

Of course, when I received this award, the first thing I thought of was this exchange from the first episode of Invader Zim:
Zim: Let us rain some DOOM down upon the filthy heads of our DOOMed enemies.
GIR: I'm gonna sing the DOOM Song now. [singing] DOOM DOOOM DOOM DOOM DOOOM DOOM DOOM DOOM DOOOOOM... (watch video)
The award is also quite fitting, since I’ve performed with the Rod Knobs of DOOOOOOOM!, my friends’ Rock Band band. (And by the way, “rod knobs” are not what you think they are. Get your mind out of the gutter. They’re actually what an interior decorator would call “finials,” or what a normal person would call “those things at the end of curtain rods.” Okay, you can put your mind back in the gutter now, if you so choose.)

Anyway, I shall pass the DOOM on to Hannah Kincade over at The Palindrome Effect, even though she’s on a semi-hiatus, because I’m curious to see what sort of DOOM she might throw at her characters. Of course, she may choose to DOOM The Picard instead, but that could be just as fun.

Getting back to rule #1, the selection below is the end of the first chapter in my WIP. I wrote this passage over four years ago and it’s in dire need of copious editing, but it should be fine for the purposes of DOOMY DOOMY DOOM. For reference, the main character has just been turned invisible by Army scientists, and he’s decided to play a little trick on them while they’re out of the room.

Behold, the excerpt of DOOM:

Sean pulled out the IV and let it fall to the floor. Shedding his hospital gown, he started toward the door, but a tug at his chest stopped him short. He glanced back and caught his reflection in the mirror: three electrodes floating in mid-air, straining at their wires like miniature kites in a gale-strength wind. That was it. He couldn’t help but smile.

He peeled one of the electrodes off, and then jumped as a sharp crack shattered the silence of the room. Before he could turn to see the source, another three bangs rang out in quick succession. His left shoulder erupted in a burst of searing pain.

What the hell?! His attempt to scream this sentiment, however, came out as more of a gurgle, and he tasted blood. He brought his right hand up to his throat, which was wet to the touch and had a small hole in it on the left side. His fingers found its twin on the right, his blood seeping out in spurts. Oh fuck, this was not good. He applied pressure to both neck and shoulder to try to stymie the flow.

Something clattered off to his right. He swiveled cautiously to look, wincing as his shoulder throbbed. A close grouping of black circles now stood out against the white tile of the back wall, a series of minute cracks radiating outward from each one. A couple adjacent tiles had unburdened themselves and fallen to pieces on the floor below.

The dizziness hit him all at once. His vision blurred. He needed to get to the bed. He needed the doctors. A violent cough sent him staggering backward into the heart rate monitor, which fell to the ground. Spun around by the impact and entangled in electrode wires, he tumbled forward onto the machine and collapsed in an invisible heap, his invisible blood collecting in invisible puddles on the floor.

Beneath him, the monitor sounded out a half-dozen more quick beeps, and then settled into one steady, high-pitched tone.

* * *

Standing in the doorway, Colonel Jack Buckworth sighed and re-holstered his weapon. “Well, that was a waste of money.”

The colonel spun on his heels and strode back down the hallway, past the trio of stunned doctors.

It’s not my best work, but I hope with some spit shine and/or elbow grease it’ll turn out alright in the rewrite. Oh, who am I kidding? I think it’s pretty obvious my writing career is DOOMED.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Friday, June 17, 2011

I, For One, Welcome Our New Fiery Overlord

...because it is me. And before you start to argue how that should be "...because it is I," you might want to remember that I'm an overlord now. Never dispute grammar with an overlord.

So how did I gain my new title? Laurie Peel over at Earth Dragon Healing bestowed the Overlord Award upon me because she feels I'm changing the world one blog post at a time. Now, I know me pretty well, so that seems rather unlikely,1 but I daresay it's about time I got me some minions. Welcome, minions.

Anyway, the first thing I did as Overlord was the same thing I do every time I get an award: I redesigned it.

I'm also supposed to list three things I will change about the world now that I'm all-powerful. You can expect many, many improvements during my reign, my dear minions, but here are the first three pronouncements that come to mind:
  1. You must make me a sammich. I'm not saying you should all gang together and build me a sandwich of monumental proportions, since overlord or not I'm still just one man. My mouth only opens so far, and my stomach only holds so much. It'd be a shame for so much deliciousness to go to waste.

    Nor am I saying that each of you should make me a sandwich right now. My benevolence and cruelty may know no bounds, but my appetite doesn't. Tell you what: I'll have my underlord put together a schedule, and you'll each be responsible for preparing a sandwich for me on one date in the future.
  2. Turn signals: Use 'em or lose 'em. The first 'em, of course, refers to your car's turn signals. The second 'em, however, refers to your arms. Under my rule, if you don't use your turn signals, you will lose your limbs.2 Then again, it's likely the limbless will be even more unlikely to use their turn signals, and I can't have that. Thus, I also decree that it's illegal to drive without arms. And you must come to a full stop at red lights and stop signs. What? I can totally combine three pronouncements into one. Shut up.
  3. No, you shut up. As overlord, I can't be bothered to listen to you blathering on about this, that, and whatnot. I simply have too much to do. If I start to look bored, you'd better shut up, or I'll send you to work in the pepper mines.3

    If you feel I'm blathering on too long myself, a) you're wrong, and b) it's to the parsley mines for you. But if, in the midst of my impressively important diatribe, you utter the phrase, "This is my favorite story," I may eventually stop talking. Maybe.

So there you have it, my first three changes to the world order. I believe I'm also supposed to pass this award on to a bunch of other bloggers, but fat chance at that happening. There are already too many other overlords as it is. So you be good little minions, and get cracking on those sandwiches.

Oh, and make sure to come back next week, for there shall be DOOM!

1 About as unlikely as some firm offering to rep Rep. Weiner's wiener.
2 And it won't be just a flesh wound.
3 What? There are salt mines; there have got to be pepper mines, too. No? How about oregano? Paprika?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Funny Thing Happened On the Way Out of the Forum

Last month I complained about my local writers' group because a handful of the members refrain from critiquing any piece outside the mainstream. Thus, anyone writing genre fiction, be it sci-fi, fantasy, or in my case, a story about a guy fighting crime whilst wearing spandex, will receive less feedback from the group as a whole.

Many of you recommended I escape post haste and join (or create) a smaller, more focused critique group. I thought it was sound advice, and went into last week's meeting fully intending it to be my last. I would call out the group for its behavior, stay for one final round of critiques, and then part ways, only remaining in touch with the few whose opinions I truly valued. But then a funny thing happened.

I enjoyed myself.

I raised the issue at the beginning of the meeting, reminding everyone that — as it states in the second line of the group's charter — fiction has many facets one can give feedback on that are independent of genre.1 A few people were quick to say they shared my sentiment; everyone else nodded in agreement. One woman even admitted her guilt.

Of course, it may have helped that the other four culprits from last month weren't in attendance. Three had stayed home because of the violent thunderstorms that had passed through that evening.2 Nevertheless, it felt like a minor victory.

We then went around the table and everyone provided useful feedback for the first story. Everyone, that is, except for the one woman who'd admitted her guilt just minutes earlier.3 But along with the critiques, we had a few good laughs, and afterward I stayed and chatted with a couple of the guys for another 45 minutes or so. For the first time in six visits, I left feeling positive about the group, rather than mixed.

Despite this, I don't know if I'll be heading back. Part of me thinks this was an outlier, that if I return I'll be asking myself why I bothered. Perhaps I should stick with my original plan, and just remain in touch with the few members whose opinions I truly value.

Or maybe, just maybe, the next meeting will coincide with another thunderstorm.

1 Dialogue, for instance. And description. There's also pacing, plotting, conflict, character arcs, character motivations, setting, structure, tone, and improper use of Comic Sans. (Here's a tip: Are you using Comic Sans? Then you're doing it wrong.)
2 That's right. I said "had passed through." As in, they'd already come and gone over an hour prior. It would seem these people can get scared off by both fantasy and reality. By both the futuristic and past events. By things both outside their comfort zone and things inside a temperate zone. (Yeah, that last one doesn't quite work. Too bad, I'm keeping it.)
3 She gave a two-sentence critique, the second sentence being: "I liked it." (In her defense, I've never heard her give a better critique.)

Monday, June 6, 2011

A Cat Named Schrödinger

I haven't spent much time writing or blog-reading this past month. One reason is that I've been suffering from Alphlambé.1 I've also been heavily involved in Operation Pending Baby. I've spent some of my spare time with a power sander on Home Improvement.2 And of course, when the weather bypasses the second half of spring for the hot stickiness of summer, I'm always overcome by a General Malaise.3

But more than anything else,4 the reason for my absence has been this little man:

Schrödinger (who I first introduced in January) may look all cute and innocent, but only that first descriptor is entirely accurate. Sure, he may purr like a chainsaw and look heart-wrenchingly adorable while doing pretty much anything that doesn't rhyme with joop or jommit, but he's a monster.5 And I'm not exaggerating; "Monster" is, in fact, my wife's pet name for him.

He's almost ten months old now, and he monsters6 everyone in the house. If he's tired of napping and doesn't feel like entertaining himself, we'd better be flailing something around for him to chase. Otherwise we're in trouble. He'll bat at Callie's face until she retreats, with him in hot pursuit. Sonya's wagging tail is always ripe for attack. If Denise or I head toward another room, Mr. Underfoot is right there, ready to trip us multiple times as he sprints ahead to find out what's going on. And of course, we need to lock up anything we care about that's made of paper or cardboard. They don't call him Schrödinger the Shreddinger for nothing:

Which brings me to my absence from the internets. A few weeks back, Schrödinger found his way into the small space atop my desktop computer, behind the keyboard tray.

He then discovered that I didn't like it when he batted at my mouse, clicking the buttons (and randomly deleting passages in the process) or pulling it and the mouse pad to the floor. In fact, he discovered that if he did this enough, I'll get exasperated and do something to distract him. I might even pull out his new favorite toy, the LASER.

I use the laser to lead him all over the second floor, which tires him out; soon he's out cold in the hallway, dreaming of elusive little red dots. I return to my writing. Ten minutes later, he's back behind my keyboard tray. Laser, rinse, repeat.

So you can see why I haven't been too computer-productive of late. I've been too busy entertaining our feline friend by turning plastic seltzer bottle lids into hockey pucks (he's got this great move where he'll deke right into my shin), crumpling up post-its for him to kill (their colorful carcasses later show up under the area rug in the kitchen), or letting him chase some tail:

Sure, I suppose I could just close my office door and play music loud enough to mask his chirping and scratching as he tries to claw his way in to see me (and the LASER), but he's just too darn cute. I'm powerless to resist.

It may mean I'll visit fewer blogs and work less on my novel for a little while until he outgrows this phase,7 but that's a small price to pay for cuteness.

Yeah, I'm weak. But I see that as one my strengths. Now, if you don't mind, I have a kitten to entertain.

1 a.k.a. A to Z burnout.
2 Although in my version, there's far less grunting.
3 *salutes* And to think, just last week he was only a Colonel.
4 Except for procrastination. (You knew I'd get to that eventually, didn't you?)
5 And to date, he's never jommited.
6 Verbing words is fun. So is adverbing themly.
7 See, that's funny because it's not true. There's no way I could possibly work less on my novel.