Sunday, October 23, 2005

NaNoWriMo 2005

Here is my commitment. I'll be doing it this year one way or another (though I think I said that last year).

What is NaNoWriMo? Simply put, it is 50,000 words (~175 pages) of a novel that is begun November 1 and ends November 30. I have a few ideas of what I will be writing, including perhaps a second attempt (from the beginning) on my last year project (which crashed and burned in week 2).

Once I start writing I will probably have no time for revision; revision traditionally starts December 1. But if the opening chapters are not too horrible, I may revise them enough to post online here or in a blog made for that purpose.

The novel will be either Horror, Fantasy, Sci-fi, or more likely something that spans two of these genres. I will not be the great american novel. But if you like dark fantasy or speculative fiction, then maybe you'll be interested. If you are an editor or publisher, then just know that everything about me is up for sale :-)

So here is the first step!

Only 50,000 words left. I'm almost there!


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Everything I Needed to Know I learned from Pat Robinson

On the Monday edition of the 700 Club (a Christain talk show) Pat Robinson made the following comments about Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez:

"If he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think we really ought to go ahead and do it."

We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.

"We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability."

This is not spin, they are direct quotes. They are not an out-of-context but the theme of his larger statement (which you can watch for yourself on the CNN website here). When I first heard about this quote, I didn't believe it. But after listening to his statement a few times--and coming to grips with its inner truths--here is what I have learned:

1. Thou shalt not commit murder applies to everyone, so long as you are not a commie and/or a Muslim Extremist.

2. Political assasination is a valid and moral form of politics according to mainstream popular Christian thought.

3. What Would Jesus Do? Assasinate commies to save the money of a war.

4. All that talk of turning the other cheek in the Holy Bible was meant to be taken figuratively, as is the sixth commandment.

Okay... enough of that. I really only learned one thing from that statement by Pat Robinson:

Pat Robinson is the biggest hipocrit in American Christian Politics. He should resign in shame and spend his life in repentance to save his soul.

People like this make Americans look like idiots. Osama is laughing his ass off and pointing at the TV, saying "See, I told you!" In fact, what Pat Robinson said is so similar to the things that Osama says in his speeches that I am still geeking out about it. Osama says that Americans should die for who they are: infidel imperialists. Pat Robinson says that Chavez should die for what he is: a communist supporter of muslim extremism. I might add that Chavez was elected by his nation (though under the cloud of fixed elections).

I am not defending Chavez. If he died today, I would not cry. To say he is a threat to the US and the region in general is not overstating the problem. Chavez is a dictator in the style of Castro and Kim Jong-il, and under his leadership we can expect in his country the kind of prosperity we see in Cuba and North Korea. His country sits on a third of the world's oil, which could have a tremendous effect on world economies, a power I don't think is safe in his hands. I want him out. I find it hard to believe any free-minded person in America would support his tenure, but calling for his assassination by the US is so stupid as to be absurd.

Other thinks Pat Robinson has said:

  • He called for a meator to hit Florida because Disneyworld had a Gay Day.
  • He suggested it would be poetic justice if a nuke would be tested out on the State Department building

If Robinson was an elected official he would be driven out on a rail. But he is only a very prominant Christian evangelist politician/preacher who failed miserably in national politics (thankfully). It is up to those that he has supported in the past (read: Bush) to tear him a new one and put him in his place. That place must be absolute political isolation, the kind we give to KKK members.

Pat Robinson is lucky enough to live in a country where his right to be an abject asshole on national TV is protected by the constitution. It is incumbant on the rest of us to show him just how much we appreciate his opinions. In the American discourse on politics statements like this cannot be allowed to represent us, no matter if you are conservative, moderate, or liberal. This kind of speech is unamerican.

What is the difference between an extremist arab calling for the death of americans and an extremist Christian calling for the death of Chavez?

Answer: not a whole hell of a lot.

I will be carefully watching the responses from those in America who call themselves religious. How they react to this kind of terrorist-like statement will massively modify my opinion of them. Anyone backing up this kind of statement deserves to be pushed off the political bus.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Class of 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011...

School starts next week and I can't wait.

I am beginning to think that I will be a perpetual student. I don't mean that in a trite way ("I will never graduate") or in a philosphical way ("I will always be learning as I grow old in this world of ours"), but rather I really will be in one school or another for the rest of my life, by choice and for fun.

I graduate this Winter with my BA in English Writing (that should get me a job about as fast as Darren's philosphy degree) and will be going on for my Masters in the Spring. I will be teaching as a substitute in the AV next year, assuming they will accept a non-credential degree. One of my goals is to be a college professor, but while I work that out I may be going back to undergrad work and completing my credential classes to get my English Specialist (whatever that is) rank so I can teach middle- and Highschool English and Language Arts while working on my Masters. Happy happy joy joy.

What I really need to do is to sell a series of novels and become a world famous author. Then I can get lots of honorary degrees for speaking at graduations.

But even as I write this I am thinking about what my "second" degree will be in. Perhaps history, anthropology, photography (they offer that?) or some science. I would make a great theoretical physicist if it didn't include mathmatics. I really hate math, but there I am listening to KITP lectures on superstring theory and particle physics (not understanding most of it except as general concepts), and hating math is one of those things that kind of precludes a career as the next Stephen Hawking. BTW, the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics is a great site. They have all their lectures, workshops, and discussions recorded in Realmedia. Hawking seems to present there at least once a year, and some of them are actually understandable by novice fans of physics and astronomy like myself. If you have an interest in the state of particle physics, superstring theory, M-theory, or just want to be taken down a notch on the pride scale, listen in.

Perhaps I will go for my PhD in English. It is kind of premature to think about that, but as I am already conteplating another discipline, well, maybe not.

Griffin was pretty surprised when I told him that I had already read my Astronomy textbook for the class that starts in two weeks. In fact, I will probably have the books assigned by all my professors for the Fall schedule read once through before classes start. During the Summer I have listened to eight complete classes-on-tape (well MP3) on subjects that are similar to my schedule (e.g. A 40 hour course in Astronomy, The Civil War: a Narrative, A couple pop history courses with titles like "everything you learned in highschool is wrong" and stuff like that).

So, I am here to report that my OCD is doing just fine, thanks.

I should be putting up a couple smallish sci-fi stories that I have written and do not plan to sell, so stay tuned.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

The State of Jim et al

I 'spose it's time to start actually blogging on my blog, so this can be my first attempt at living up to the title, though I am pretty much convinced that no one but me ever reads this stuff. So I guess spilling my guts to the whole world is still rather private.

The State of Jim:

I start my last undergraduate semester at CSUNorthridge in a few weeks. The class schedule looks like this: Senior Seminar in Narrative Writing, Issues in Astronomy (yeah, I know, but it's GE credit), Folklore, and my last class at AVC which will be an American history class. Oh, and I squeezed in a photography class, just because I want to take a class that can't help me at all toward my degree.

I wonder if the history class (colonization to cival war) will be a long thesis statement on why the war in Iraq is bad, like the last one I took's hoping. I can use a good fight. I wonder if I will have any Marxist professors this year. Last semester I had two, and even though I was the most royal pain in their supersanctimonious asses, they are the only ones I still want to talk to now that the semester is over. I wonder if every cute college girl that I make friends with this year will call me "sir" and treat me like their bald eccentric Uncle Jim.

Growing up sucks. Even dressing for college has been a challenge. Do I dress stylish to fit in? No way. The poser thing is not my style. Do I go in jeans, polo shirt and a Nascar hat? I have to admit it is kinda fun being the token redneck in a class of bleading-head liberals, the "white boy" representative in ethnic discussions, and of course the one that was losing his virginity when the rest of the school was still in training pants. So far I have been older than two professors, both who were doctors.

I wonder if I will get published this year. If that happens it will be the first New Years resolution I have completed since, um, ever.

I should start my Master's in English Writing in the Spring. My Master's Thesis will likely be a novel, but I guess I have to get into the program first before worrying too much about that. I am applying to be a Teaching Assistant as well, just so I can say I have a job if anyone asks. One day I may even be a college professor. Professor Jim. Hmm.

For some strange reason I am still holding out hope that I will be able to make a living as a freelance writer and not have to go back to writing Client Order Fulfillment Process manuals for some IT Service Industry company again. But I think I hear the wage-slave chains clanking. Getting published is hard. Too damn hard.

I finished the new Harry Potter book less than twelve hours after it was released to the public. That is right, I have no life.

I wanna be a hippie. But once they see me up close I think they'll just laugh and ask me what the hell I am thinking. Sigh.

The Rest of the Family

Jessica is almost thirteen, wearing a bra that is too big for me to deal (though not nearly as big as Susan was at her age, so there is hope), and is now on both her middle-school and the local all-star cheer squads. She can almost do her back handspring, and is currently in flyer class. She is on chapter 3 of the new Harry Potter Book.

Griffin is twleve and is talking about joining the junior marines in September. We'll see about that; his two year stint in football didn't go that well, but I am not going to tell him no. He is on chapter 5 of the new Harry Potter book. He reads about a 500 page book a month. Anyone who badmouths J. K. Rowling for being trendy can kiss my ass; she has done more for kids reading than all the RIF busses put together, and Griffin is living proof. He is a reading machine all because of Harry Potter books.

James is seventeen and is currently in a private school/group home in Petaluma, CA. It has been very rocky with him this year, but he seems to be on the path again; we are trying to be positive and he is giving us reasons to be lately. He has not tried to kill himself since Februrary. I don't think he reads books outside of school.

Susan is working too much because I am not. She is as energetic as ever but burning out. She is almost done with the Harry Potter book. She is looking forward to Darren's wedding at Burning Man, which is giving her the iron-clad reason to go that we just haven't had before. One way or another we will be there for it. She is, of course, as sexy as ever.

Chewy still sleeps under our waterbed (which is annoying as hell) and Mouse (our cat) still won't let anyone but me near her. I understand dogs but have no clue about cats, still. Perhaps Connie can fill me in. Or maybe it is just a chick thing and I am out of my depth.

I would post some short-short stories here if I thought anyone would actually read them. There is no reason to do it if no one but me cares, though. I mean, I HAVE to read them!

Anyways, that is me and mine. Give me a call or email if you want to chat. Until then, I'll be off in a corner muttering to myself.


Monday, March 21, 2005

April 24 is Worldwide Pinhole Photography day

So there I was in the bathtub, thinking about photography (yeah, I know) and suddenly I decided to start exploring pinhole photography. Below are a couple links that I found (after I got out; no I do NOT take the laptop into the tub with me). Anyways, I am currently looking at making a pinhole camera or two and working on a set of pinhole shots. Some of the possibilies are amazing, and it is probably the cheapest way to make a photo.

Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day - obviously

The Pinhole Gallery - A good all-around site for info and great examples of pinhole work.

Pinhole Resource - Great all-around site for info, charts, etc. They also make and sell a number of pinhole cameras (like the de Vinci models) and even 35mm camera body caps for pinhole photography on your high-tech SLR--gotta love the poetry in that. This site is great for the technical details, such as hole size to focal length to exposure time.

Kodak Site: How To Make a Pinhole Camera - Some useful info from Kodak article on pinhole photography - A very good history and how-to on pinhole photography.

I'm making my first camera now, and will post what I make here by the day :) Maybe a trip to 165th street East to do an hommage to that famouse photomosaic "Pearblossom Highway" that is in the Getty. Something with gravesites too. Hmm. The possibilities are endless.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

An Original Sketch - Number Four

(The following is a sketch from a collection I am currently working on. It is pretty harsh, so if you don't like that sort of thing I wouldn't read on. )

Number Four

They pushed the fucker blindfolded into the hall. He was brown and naked except for these butt-huggers that were bright white. White like snow white. They were God-bless-America Fruit of the Looms, and I remember how white they were on the fucker's dirty brown skin.

He knew what he had done. There was no doubt. Blew away three marines at close range with an RPG. Too bad for him he got caught. So there he was in the hall, all alone and all but naked, and we gave him to Number Four. Don't ask me Number Four's real name because I won't say and that is the way it is going to stay. Number Four was the driver, and too bad for the fucker he didn't get all four.

So they pushed him out and were shouting at him to get down on his knees, but he just stood there like a dumbass. Just stood there in his khaki rag blindfold and those virgin white butt-huggers till someone finally butt-ended him in the kidney and he dropped like a dog to his knees.

Number Four pulls out a .40 and yanks down the blindfold so the fucker could see it. One eye exposed. Big and round, but still saying fuck you if you know what I mean. Fuck you. Showing some balls.

Well, Number Four works the action of the .40 and points it at the guys head. You know that picture someone took in Viet Nam; the one where one guke is discharging his pistol into another kneeling guke's head, execution style, and you see the moment stopped forever still of this poor guke fucker getting his head blow away? It was like that picture, but real life, and no one had a camera.

So Number Four just points it at the fucker's head and then--this is the kicker, because Number Four is crying like a baby, like he is the one on his knees--Number Four says something in Arabic, and the fucker just loses it. I mean, that's it for the balls. He starts pissing himself, crying and begging and it was the sickest thing I have ever heard. No one except maybe Number Four had a clue what he was saying, but I felt it in a way I still can't explain. It was like the sound a puppy makes when it is hurt bad. It was the real shit.

I mean, we knew what he had done. There was no doubt the guy was guilty as shit. Number Four had driven his buddies back to camp, their gutts all over his windshield. The fucker deserved the same. Worse. But no one could speak. Number Four let the .40 drop and just walked away. Just like that. Gone. Leaving us to put the fucker back in his cell and clean up the piss.


This is one of a set of sketches I am working on as part of a larger work. It is one of the more graphic ones, so if you are disgusted, well sorry (okay, I'm not really all that sorry). The pieces will not take any clear side, but will try to describe small out-of-context events in a way that can explore something about war, human nature (the good and the bad) and something of the realities of being in combat. As much as one writer who has never been in combat can fathom.

I'll appreciate any comments to what I post. Send me email or just post here.

- Jim