Showing posts from November, 2004

TMF: NaNo-NoMo: Stick a fork in me...

... I'm done.

OK, I might not be completely done, since I may actually write some more before midnight. I can safely say that I have been mathematically eliminated from "winning" by crossing the 50K threshold. This has been extraordinarily helpful to me, though, in building the habit of writing (almost) every day. I am going to keep at it, and still hope to have a final first draft of my novel by the end of the year. Maybe I'll participate in NaNoEdMo in March.

Final Word Count (as of 11/29/04): 16,375
Estimated Crap:Quality Ratio: 4:1

Honk if you're shallow

If your philosophy of life, religion, or politics can be summarized on a bumper sticker, perhaps it's not worth sharing.

Why thank y-- Hey!

The other day, a friend said that he thinks I look just like Mr. Incredible. I was flattered until I realized that he didn't clarify whether that was with or without the extra 50-100 pounds of tummy.

The secret

The secret to good satire is that no one is as smart as they think they are, but some people are smarter than they appear.

OK, you could probably argue that this is the secret to a good story in general, or even that it's not really a secret. Maybe everyone knows this already. But in satire, or any humorous writing, a lot of the comedy comes from people trying to operate at a level that is higher than their capabilities, and getting into trouble as a result. So I maintain that, while not exclusively the province of satire, this truth is nonetheless a central building block of good satire.

And now that I think of it, I can attest from firsthand experience that not everyone is aware of this fact in life. I know a lot of people who think they're smarter than they really are, and even more who think they're smarter than everyone else. Maybe that's why this works so well in a story: we see it in the people around us every day, but not in ourselves. That's why every…

The career ladder, as seen from each rung:

Entry level:
"I have no idea what I'm doing, and I'm going to fail miserably at any moment."

"I think I'm getting the hang of this, but I miss doing real work."

Senior Management:
"I'm too good for this job."

Executive Management:
"I have no idea what I'm doing, and I'm going to fail miserably at any moment."

Gnome Love

Naked Gnomes Stolen from Peep Show

BERLIN (Reuters) - Thieves have stolen scantily clad, anatomically correct garden gnomes from a gnome peepshow in an eastern German amusement park, park manager Frank Ullrich said on Thursday. The adults-only attraction at Dwarf-Park Trusetal, where visitors peep through keyholes to see the saucy German miniatures in compromising poses, was smashed open early on Thursday morning.

While police realistically hold out little hope that they will find the naked gnomes, they have nonetheless requested warrants to search the homes of both Michael Jackson and Verne Troyer.

Barely managing

I think it's about time we got rid of the term "manager." The word is so full of passivity that it can barely stand upright on its own. It implies a lack of ownership, a sense of "just keeping an eye on things," of making sure nothing goes wrong while not really doing anything right, either. I mean, look at this:

"He managed to get through the day without breaking anything."

"How are you today?"
"I’m managing. You?"

"The morphine will help us to manage the pain as you go through the treatment, Mrs. Clark."

Inspired yet?

By definition, managing is just keeping things from spinning out of control:


To direct or control the use of; handle: manage a complex machine tool.
To exert control over: "Managing the news... is the oldest game in town" (James Reston). "A major crisis to be managed loomed on the horizon" (Time).
To make submissive to one's authority, discipline, or persuasion.
To direct the af…

Now THAT'S comedy!

A funny story is best told with a wry quirk of the lips, and nothing more. In my experience, a story laughingly told is as often met with puzzled silence as with answering laughter, and followed by, "You had to be there."

Negotiating 101

A former colleague of mine has a new job offer (congratulations!), and asked for advice on how to negotiate the terms of his employment. Here's what I suggested to him:

Negotiating is all about showing your worth to your prospective employer, and no one knows your worth better than you do. Show them how highly you value yourself by demanding double their original offer in both salary and vacation time, with extra dental benefits. And remember to insist upon those little perks that say, "I'm the best you're going to get," like free soda, extra bathroom breaks, ergonomic chair attachments, and a duck. Never forget the duck.

At the same time, negotiating is about showing how excited you are about this new prospect, so ask lots of questions to show that you're engaged. Here are some suggestions:
How many vacation days do you have per year, and what's your policy on pseudo-religious holidays?
Does the company medical policy cover self-inflicted wounds? What if …

What's that high-pitched whining noise?

Is it me, or are the post-election histrionics reaching a higher level this year than in other election years? It seems like people have just picked up where they left off on November and carrying their complaining right on into the new year. Maybe this is just a new version of people believing their own hype. It definitely seems to be a situation where, if you repeat anything enough times you'll believe it to be truth.

Unsurprisingly, the hysteria has reached its highest pitch in San Francisco, which is threatening to secede from the union and join Canada. Let's be honest here: do they really think Canada needs more complainers? They already have Quebec wanting out.

I know! Let's trade! We'll take Quebec and Canada can have San Francisco! The net effect on fashion will probably be a wash, and there are probably just as many people in each region who wish they could move to France. I doubt even that would work, though. I give the Franciscans a year before the…

Almost 10% of the way there

Meet me at NaNo

4345 words down, 45,655 to go. The writing gathers speed, and each night I write more than the last. I have yet to hit my target of 2000 words per day, though, so I'm starting to wonder if I can actually churn out 50,000 in a month. I'm not giving up hope yet, though, and I'm thrilled to be making progress on my book again.

I find that it's hard for me to just stick with the plot and keep moving forward in a straight line. I want to jump ahead to the good parts, when everyone's already been introduced and the crazy stuff is happening. That's where the fun is, and where the funny really happens. Still, a good farce is built on a solid setting, the launching pad from which the lunacy takes off. I have to build the foundation, and I trust that will make the comedy that much more, well, comedic. It's pretty funny in my head already, but if I build in the details, flesh out the characters, I have much richer material to use when they all l…

Out of the gate

OK, so I'm off to the races. I wrote just over 1,000 words last night before I had to give it a rest. It took me about 90 minutes from when I sat down and turned on the laptop, but just over an hour from the time I stopped surfing, entering my picks for this week's football games, and checking on election results. By the time I stopped, my hands were sore from typing. I may need to stop using the laptop keyboard if I'm going to reach a reasonable level of profligacy.

Things I have already learned about myself as I attempt to go into high-volume mode:

I care too much about accuracy. Is anyone really going to check to see if "regular" means coffee with cream and sugar in Boston, as opposed to black in LA?
I edit myself constantly. I tried really hard not to go back and change words once they were typed, but I often went back before the sentence was even complete to change it. That's not necessarily a bad thing, since I think every change was for the bette…

Time to write

Now I've done it. I just signed up for NaNoWriMo -- National Novel Writing Month -- and committed to attempt to write a 50,000-word novel in the month of November. I'd heard about this through a couple of people and was very impressed by the craziness and the humor of the organizers. So I thought: well, I'm supposed to be pursuing this dream of writing a book (or two), so why not do it in the company of a bunch of other crazy people?

Now I have a goal of 2,000 words per day for the next month, since I'm sure that I'll miss some days. That should be doable. I hope.

We shall see.