Friday, September 30, 2005

10 Crappy Songs

I’ll probably regret this, but I’ve stumbled across an interesting idea on another blog (Over at Slacktivist where I frequent for the biting criticism of the Left Behind series of novels) that I’m too bored not to try.

It’s called the Friday 10. Here’s how it works.

You load up your music library. You hit the random button. And then you post the first ten songs that appear.

I’ll probably regret this because I have a weird habit of downloading MP3 files, just to see what they’re like, ridiculous things, pop-culturey things, and then I never delete them. I’m currently sporting 9165 songs, and I’m sure that there’s a whole lot in there that are, not only not good, but probably embarrassing as well.

Though I suppose that’s why this exercise is interesting.

Without further ado, here are this week’s Friday 10 (which may also be the last week, if I completely forget about this notion by next week, which is pretty goddamn likely)…

  1. The Beatles – I Want You (She’s So Heavy) – I don’t think I’ve ever heard this song before…see what relentless downloading can do?

  2. The Bangles – Manic Monday – Gotta love 80s chick bands. This actually a live version, from somewhere, after a post-new-millennium reunion of the band. The song is the best thing ever, but I have a major love for their version of “Hazy Shade of Winter” – I have a perverse fascination with cover songs…

  3. Antarctica (JC Denton’s Lair) – Deus Ex: Invisible War Official Soundtrack – I like game music, because it allows me to relive the experience of playing that game. Granted, the experience of playing Deus Ex: Invisible War is not something I really want to relive, but some of the music is not half bad (and, while on the topic, all of the music from the original game is fantastic) though this song is not among those…

  4. Tangerine Dream – All of a Dither – Someone I knew in high school originally got me interested in Tangerine Dream. This song doesn’t ring much of a bell to me, but some of their stuff can instantly transport me back to the late 80s with just a few notes.

  5. Radiohead – Creep (Acoustic Version) – Nothing much to say here, except that this song is brilliant, wonderful, fantastic, and ridiculously sad. Can’t go wrong with something like.

  6. Mike Oldfield – Runaway Son – I’m a massive fan of Oldfield’s work (and am incredibly enthused about the upcoming, new, two-disc album) but this song doesn’t do a damn thing for me. Why do I have it? Because it’s Mike Oldfield, and I’m one of those psychotic types who can’t sleep unless he has *everything* from certain artists, good or bad. Yeah, kill me now.

  7. Depeche Mode – My Secret Garden – Well, the theme of this week’s Friday 10 seems to be bands I enjoy playing songs I’m not even remotely familiar with. Depeche Mode’s stuff can drop me back into the late 80s and early 90s with just a few notes, when it’s the right song, but this isn’t the right song. I don’t know this song at all. It doesn’t seem to be a bad song, mind you, just, you know, unfamiliar.

  8. Tomoyasu Hotei and Ray Cooper – A Drug Score 3 – From the Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Soundtrack – can’t go wrong with that. Dr. Thompson, you are still missed…

  9. Marilyn Manson – Rock Is – I think I’ve got this song from a soundtrack of some kind, but I can’t place what the soundtrack is at the moment. Nonetheless, it’s one of the few songs from Mr. (Ms.?) Manson that I enjoy. Wait, I’m thinking now that this might be from the Matrix Soundtrack. Is that possible? Whatever…no one cares…

  10. Eurythmics – Sex Crime (1984) – Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is from the mid-80s film version of George Orwell’s 1984, correct? I can’t remember. If it is, then I’m reminded of how much I’d love to see that film again…I haven’t seen it since, well, 1984, and that’s more than 20 years. And if this song isn’t from that film, then I’ve just made an internal, memory-based, non-sequitor. And I think that’s unhealthy.

And so that brings us to the end of this week’s Friday 10. Thankfully nothing overly embarrassing cropped up, which means I might actually try to do this next week. Not only that, it actually forced me to sit here and listen all the way through a bunch of songs, songs that are taking up space on my hard drive, that I normally would have just skipped through. Which is kind of cool. Because some of these songs are pretty good.

I suppose the point of this Friday 10 thing is also to illustrate the (potentially) diverse nature of the blogger’s music collection. I don’t have the foggiest idea how diverse this selection of music is, but that’s not up to me to decide, is it.

See you next Friday.

PS: This post was written in MS Word using Blogger’s spiffy plugin.

PPS: I’m trying editing the blog in MS Word, but I’m not sure if it’ll just post another entry. If it does, I’m deleting the old one.

PPPS: It actually updated the original blog post, instead of dumping a brand new one on the blog. OMFGWTFBBQ, I think I’m in love with blogging from MS Word…

And apparently...

...It works. Though I need to remember to leave a few extra graf breaks, to put some distance between the bottom of the entry and the silly "Sent via Blackberry" message...

Sent via BlackBerry on the Bell Mobility network


Q. How can you tell I'm bored?

A. I'm farting around, trying to ge moblogging set up on my Blackberry.
Sent via BlackBerry on the Bell Mobility network

Fini (or In Case You Missed It)

In case you missed the reference in my last column (which appeared on the street today) it is, at long last, finished -- I finally got to type the words "The End" on the last page of the novel I started last November during national novel writing month.

I actually finished it last week. I'm not sure why I didn't make any mention of it here, after counting down the last few thousand words so religiously. I think, maybe, I found myself so relieved to finally be finished, to finally have a novel finished after so many attempts of starting and not quite getting through, that I just kind of purged all thought of it from my mind from the moment it was done. It took me three days to remember to send the last few pages to the friend that had been reading along, ever step of the way, since November, and usually I'd send him something as soon as it was complete.

In a way, I was dreading it being over as well. In the same way that, when reading a really, really good book you can find yourself dreading the end, because you'll have to close the book on the events and the characters and the people you've come to know and love over time, so it is when writing a book. I really grew to care about these characters, and even like most of them (some of them tried very hard to be unlikeable, but in the end, I think even they found a few shreds of decency). So walking away from them was hard.

Not that I won't be visiting them at some point in the future -- the book may be done, but it's a mess. It needs a rewrite *badly*. But I need to put it away for awhile. I need to let the characters and the ideas and the themes drift out of my head, so that when I go back to do the rewrite, I can approach it with a completely new set of eyes. So I can be a bit more objective, so I can more easily yank out the parts that don't work, and discover the things that really, really do.

Until then, I have a one act play called "Dinner and Drinks" in the works (three stories, about three different stages of relationships). I'm about halfway through one of the stories, and I'm already convinced that it would be almost impossible to put on the stage here in Williams Lake without offending more than half of the people who came to see it. Which, while not something I'm always against, isn't really the point of the story. Unfortunately, some of the subject matter in the play has proven difficult to talk about without being...well, vulgar.

Still, if all goes well, the play should be complete by the first of November, and the start of National Novel Writing Month, and my third crack at it. Two weeks ago I was terrified, because I realized that I'd been spending so much time finishing last year's novel that I didn't have any ideas for a new one. No old ideas rattling around in my head waiting to come out either.

A title came to me one night, while lying in bed, my brain refusing to drift off to sleep. Even though, at the time, there was no story attached to it, the title was too good not to use -- "The Smalltown Pornographer's Blues". I decided the next day that it would be a fun challenge to go into a book with nothing but the title, and just sort of let the story tell itself, however it saw fit. Within the next few days, I'd figured out the ending, as well as the first two chapters, so I'm pretty confident that this will actually be doable.

And even if it wasn't...well, the title would *still* be too good not to try.

I've avoided blogging the novels in the past, though I did stumble past a few people who were posting their entire book, as they wrote it, to their blog, and it struck me as interesting idea. I probably won't go quite that far (I'm a little nervous about copyright infringement, after getting burned a number of years back by a newspaper that shall remain nameless) but I might post occasional novel excerpts here, so if you're interested in the saga of my pornographer and his blues, you'd do best to visit periodically during the month of November.

In my last bit of writing news, I'm considering getting into small-town political discussions in my column by writing a review of campaign signage. I've seen two signs so far that have made me think of two things that are very different than what they intended, and I thought it could be a pretty funny approach.

Though I'll probably wait until a week or two before the election itself, just to make sure that everyone who's going to get a sign up *gets* their sign up. Though I have found a spot that seems to have a sign from just about every current candidate under the sun. I should finally figure out how my stupid digital camera works and snap some photos of it...

I am...

You're Great Expectations!

by Charles Dickens

Coming from humble beginnings, you have become pretty stuck-up in your
later years. While hard work and dedication were the path you first walked on, a sudden
fork brought you glory and fortune. Unfortunately, you have changed even more than your
bottom line. You really should turn back to your old friends and at least respect your
old life. Look out for haughty hotties.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

And I've never even read the silly thing...

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Weird and wonderful

Every year, for the past few years, I've found myself thinking, "Oh my god, this is the weirdest year of my entire life!"

I kept waiting for those sorts of epiphanies to pass, thinking that I would eventually reach a year that actually wasn't terribly weird. And then other day something occurred to me.

It occurred to me that there was nothing weird about having the weirdest year of my life. Becuase that's what life was all about.

Every new experience leads us to a knew realization about something. And as much as I once thought that new experiences would eventually run out, I'm becoming increasingly convinced that, in fact, they won't. There are new things around every corner, waiting for us to discover them, waiting for us to rejoice in them. And in a way, every year will always be weirder than the last, simply because with each passing year we expect the next to make more sense based on the wisdom we've accumulated the previous year, and in each year before that.

But it never does. It never will.

And as I realized that, I realized also that I couldn't think of anything more wonderful. The notion of life always remaining fresh and new and interesting, instead of becoming sad and bleak and familiar, was one of the most refreshingly optimistic ideas I could concieve of.

At 32 years old, I still don't know what it's all about. I still don't know what tomorrow will bring, or next week, or next month, or, God help me, next year.

And I can't think of anything more wonderful than that.

Saturday, September 17, 2005


The book is sitting at 90,000 words.

That's 5,000 tonight, plus 5,000 after my blog post of last night. 10,000 words in two days. I'm absolutely stunned at the amount of output I've had. But not entirely surprised, either. I think I suspected this would happen, once I got the ball rolling. So much of the story was there, and I was so goddamn close to the end, that once it started to roll, there'd be no stopping it.

One chapter and epilogue left, plus a little bit to do to the middle to get it done.

Final chapter is on the agenda for tomorrow or Monday. I don't know if I'll be able to get it done in a single sitting, like I've done for the last two chapters, but it will more than likely be another situation of starting and simply not being able to stop until it's done.

Still, I don't like making promises to myself. So we'll just see what happens.

90,000 words. Seems pretty likely at this point that it'll break the 100,000 word mark, and will probably even drift to 105,000 by the time I tack on the epilogue and fill out the middle.

105,000 words. Goddamn it's been a long time.

What a ride.

Friday, September 16, 2005


In spite of the fact that I seem to be ending up with more and more in front of me, scheduling-wise, I've still been managing to pick away at the novel. Another two pages tonight, another two pages earlier in the week, another couple last weekend...etc...

Current word count sits at about 80,000 words, which means that since the NaNoWriMo cutoff in November I've dumped an additional 30,000 words into it.

By my estimation, there's somewhere between 15,000 and 20,000 still to go before I can type the words "The End".

If I pick at it a bit more regularly (as in 2-3 pages every day or two) I think I can be out of this draft within two or three weeks.

It's an idea I find unbelievably exciting. I've been chatting with a friend who's read this unfinished draft about the direction things are going, and in the course of the discussions, more and more ideas just kind of spill out. I sumbled onto the last two ideas I needed to know earlier in the week, which means every conceivable thread that that the novel has conjured will end up wrapped up -- and wrapped up neatly! -- by the time the book closes.

Those moments, the moments when everything just kind of clicks in your head and you can see how beautifully everything can tie up in the climax of the story, are some of the most beautiful moments I've ever experienced. And it's something that you can only experience when tackling something with the scope of a novel. You can get a smaller sense of it in a short story, or a novella, but in order to feel the real victory of tying up multiple plot threads, you need to have a story with a whole bunch of threads to begin with. Something with a bunch of meat on its bones.

It's been a long time since I had a project like that.

My previous kick at the NaNo can doesn't really count. In spite of the fact that I managed to get across the 50,000 word mark, I never did get around to finshing that one, and -- for moment -- don't think I ever will, because I *don't* know how to wrap up the plot threads in that one. I have some notions about things that have to happen in order to create a satisfying ending, but I don't have the foggiest idea how to get there.

I don't mind, though. Who can complain about a story that didn't pan out when they're working on one that is panning out, and panning out wonderful.

Oh joy, oh bliss.

Oh sweet, sweet euphoria.

Friday, September 09, 2005


There seems, to me, to be a certain amount of clarity that comes from losing hope.

The thing about hope, at least for me, is that it forces a focus. It demands that you stare at it, that you never take your eyes off it, that wherever you are, whatever you're doing, that thing is always on your mind. Front, back, middle; conscious, unconscious, preconscious. It's always there, it's always with you, and it's always draining a certain amount of your energy, whether you're aware of it or not.

But when you lose hope, however dreadful a concept that might be, that all-encompassing kind if passion goes with it. And all of a sudden, you lose focus on this one little thing and you find that you can look at your life, your whole life, for the first time in maybe months, maybe years.

And in spite of the fact that a desperate and passionate hope in something wonderful is now gone and dead, there's still something wonderful to come out of the process. Because you are reintroduced to yourself, and to parts of yourself that you had forgotten about. Wonderful parts. Beautiful parts. Parts that are crying out for attention, and have been crying out for attention for months and maybe years, but you haven't heard them, because of your single-minded passion towards that one hope. Because, for that time, there was nothing else in your life.

And when that one thing is gone, and you have nothing else to hold you up, nothing else to inspire you to reach for the clouds, and the heavens, and the stars beyond, it is such a wonderful surprise to find that, upon falling back to the earth again, that there are arms waiting to catch you. Your own arms. Arms that hold you tightly because they know, better than anyone, just how you're feeling right then. You're trapped in an embrace that is softer and more comforting than anything you could imagine, because the embrace comes from you, from someone who knows exactly what you need, and is more than willing to give it.

And then you hear the voice, your own voice, whispering in your ear:

"We've missed you," the voice says.

"It's good to see you again."

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

This is a test

This is a test.

Testing my bizarre new MS Word plug-in for Blogger. How weird and unnatural this seems, to be blogging from Word. Assuming it doesn’t turn out to messy and bizarre, I might actually get in the habit of doing it this way.

Monday, September 05, 2005


I decided last week that, the correct way to prioritize my current projects (one play, one novel) was to focus, initially, on the play, because I knew that if I really worked at it, I could have the first draft done in one to two weeks. Then I could just set it aside for awhile to rest before editing, and turn my attention to the unfinished novel that I've been mucking with, off and on, since last November, when I started it during National Novel Writing Month. That, I figured, might take me as much as a month to finish the first draft of.

Seemed like the most logical way to go -- get the quick and easy one out of the way first, before turning my attention to the one that will likely take more time and energy out of me.

So why the heck am I working on the stupid novel today, instead of the play?

The answer, really, is simple. Because it was the novel that I was inspired to work on today. It was the words of the novel that were dancing just behind my forehead, waiting for the chance to be spilled out onto the page. And that's the only thing that matters when it comes to this kind of thing -- what is it that you're inspired to do? It doesn't matter what you *want* to do, or what you *think* you should do. It's where the inspiration lies.

This is why I should always have two different projects going at any one time, so I can always turn to the one that I'm inspired to work on when the other gets a little stagnant for a few days. Because if you've only got one, and it goes stagnant, you end up stuck with nothing to work on, and then it's hard to get working on *anything* again once the stagnation passes.

About 7 pages done today too. Decent output. I think I could even squeeze out another 3 or 4, and bring this current chapter to a close.

And all I can think is, "Nice."


More stickage

Following up yesterday's massive Stick Figure Drama update, I've decided to upload the latest strip (completed less than 30 minutes ago), so it'll be appearing here even before it sees print in the newspaper.

It features the first part of what I'm sure will be an exciting showdown between two competing arch-villains.


Saturday, September 03, 2005

OMGWTFBBQ! Stickage to the extrmez0rz!!11!!

I made a massive stick figure drama update today, uploading episodes 46 through 65, bringing the links on the right-hand side as up to date as humanly possible as of this moment in time.

I've also split the stick figure drama links into "Season One" and "Season Two" as there is a fairly distinct split between them. Everything from Stick Figure Drama #31 through to the current issue (and beyond) is part of a single, ever evolving storyline. While everything that occurs before #31 is sort of the kind of mess that a cartoonist might create while trying to figure out exactly how to be a cartoonist, publishing those experimental abominations at the same time.

Stick Figure Drama fans, rejoice! And enjoy!