Wednesday, December 28, 2011

LED Astray

For me, one of few stress relievers during the holiday season has always been to lay on the living room couch at night in the darkened room and spend some quality time gazing at the Christmas tree. I can lose myself in the reflections of the tree lights off of the glassy sheen of the ornaments. It induces a kind of hazy daydream effect that sort of washes over me, letting my troubles and the not inconsiderable stresses of the holidays float away in the soft glow of the lights. Or at least it used to.

This year I fought the strings of lights for about a half hour before giving up and telling my son to go buy some new ones. He did, only they were the new LED lights. "You and burn them all year Dad and they never get hot and they take about as much electricity to run them as a fart." he promised. OK, they are cost effective, they are safe, but they emit a harsh light that has totally ruined the one sure stress relieverer I had. I tried to lay down on the couch and lose myself in the tree, but those damn lights were burning holes in my eyes.

Oh soft glowing lights, why have you forsaken me?

Friday, December 09, 2011

One of the 36,774

Someday, and I swear it will be soon, I will stop talking about the NaNo. But today is not that day.
They released the stats this week for the National Novel Writing Month and they are pretty impressive:
  • 256,618 participants, up roughly 28% from 2010’s total of 200,530 writers.
  • We wrote a total of 3,074,068,446 words, up 7% from 2010’s collective word count of 2,872,682,109.
  • This averaged out to 11,979 words per person!
  • We had 36,774 winners, giving us a 14% win rate!
Happy to have been a part of it all. Of the 25 writing buddies I had this year, 13 of them completed the NaNo or 52%. Not too shabby for my friends.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Lessons Learned

This should give you an idea of how I managed my NaNoWriMo. Pay particular notice to the graph on the right and the long flat area starting about half-way through. In looking back at my first NaNo to see what it taught me, and hey, that is what all of us winners and loser are doing about now, I came to four lessons learned. They are as follows:
  1. When the going gets tough, Barry takes nine days off.
  2. Though I tend to complain about things quite a bit, they are usually problems that I have caused all on my own, and in actuality, I sort of get off on the drama, as it allows me more time for self-absorption.
  3. Eventually I will rededicate myself, after I have waited the prerequisite amount of time to make the outcome once again somewhat in doubt (this also relieves me of any responsibility for how bad it might turn out as it is now crystal clear to all that I just don't have enough time to do it the right way).
  4. I can do anything to which I set my mind.

3,073,176,540

National Novel Writing Month Total Collective Word Count for 2011:


3,073,176,540
 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Truth About the Appleheads Among Us

I saw this first over the weekend as an in-theater ad shown before Melancholia and it cracked me up. These snooty, lame-ass, self-absorbed frauds and the perfect commentary on the army of unthinking iPhone users. Assholes standing in lines for hours to get a phone that looks just like the phone they already have and worried that people won't know they have the new phone, 'casue it is all about image and not at all about having a great phone, not even sure of the specs to the phone they are standing in line for hours to purchase. This is simply priceless.

I Came, I Saw, I Nano'ed!


That's write! I mean that's right! I Came, I Saw, I Nano'ed! You have no idea what a rush that was. Had I not taken nine days off it would have been a snap, but those nine days of 0 words made the last six days a little tense. My first NaNo, my first novel.

OK, confession time: my novel is not done. It needs maybe 10,000 more words in its rough draft form before I begin a serious edit. But the NaNoWriMo task is to write 50,000 words of your novel, and I beat that by 208 words.

So, to be clear: Is my novel done? No.

Did I win NaNoWriMo? Fuckin' A Bubba!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

To NaNo or Not To NaNo

That is the question.

I had pretty much given up on my NaNo on November 16th. I was on track that day, having written over 27,000 words, but I was realizing I was no longer sure who my main character was or where she was going. So, I stopped writing and waited for divine inspiration to occur. Still waiting!

Then, yesterday I started thinking about the 10,000-Hour Rule and decided that though I am not going to end up with something very good, I can add to my practice of writing so that next year I will be more prepared for the task. So, I wrote almost 2,000 words last night and need to write about 14,000 in the next two days to "catch up." See ya later!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Bird!


Yep, it's that time of year again; time for the unveiling of the LA Times Brine Bird!

We have been using this same recipe from the Los Angeles Times for, I think, six years now, and it results in the best turkey you ever ate. The best part about this is it comes out perfect every year and all it takes is maybe a half hour of preparation Monday morning. You clean it, salt it and bag it on Monday, turn it on Wednesday, unbag it Wednesday night and stuff and cook it Thursday morning. The result is the juiciest, tastiest bird you ever ate.


It's not complete though till you carve it. I take my carving instructions also from the LA Times.  The same year the LA Times put out the brine recipe, they put out a video on how to carve a turkey (you can still find it on line) and I started following it. This year's bird did not want to cooperate, but I managed. The result is a plate of meat that can't be beat. Instead of dry slices of meat, you get big juicy chunks; the perfect way to display and consume the brined bird.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Kinect Effect

I saw this commercial on TV twice in the past day or so and had to share it. It moves me. Ah Microsoft, what a great commercial and what a great technology. The Kinect is surely the "big-titted hit" it deserves to be.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Oh No, WriMo!

While working on my NaNoWriMo novel I have been reading Hooked: Write Fiction That Grabs Readers at Page One and Never Lets Them Go by Les Edgerton which I downloaded to my Kindle when Amazon put nine books on writing on sale for $0.00 in support of NaNoWriMo. The first time I got in a jam with my story, Hooked actually helped get me out of it, but for the most part the book has been a detriment to me writing. By the end of the first or second chapter I wanted to reorder the chapters in my book, something that would not be too difficult to do and I figured I would get to that either by the end of the month, or next month while editing.

When I hit my first blockage and was ready to chuck the book, I took my dogs for a walk and on that walk a new vision came to me and I saw where my book should be gong plot-wise. That got me back to writing and resulted in another 10,000 words or so. Things were looking good, then I did a really stupid thing; I kept reading Hooked. My problems really started with Chapter Three: The Inciting Incident, the Initial Surface Problem, and the Story-Worthy Problem. Although I had an Initial Surface Problem that I was going to move from Chapter 16 (my chapters are small) to Chapter 1, and I had a Story-Worthy Problem, introduced with an amazingly heavy hand in my original Chapter 3, I did not have an Inciting Incident for the Story-Worthy Problem.

And my writing ground to a halt four days ago and has been there ever since.

I don't know if it will start back up again. The lack of an  Inciting Incident for the Story-Worthy Problem made me realize how vague my Story-Worthy Problem really is, which has made me reconsider the whole thing. Also, the more I write the more my main character (MC) seemed to be shifting from that character I though was the protagonist to someone else and her story if even vaguer than my original MC. So, here I sit, broken-hearted...

Or not. The holiday is coming and five days off of work and yes, there are things to do during those days, lots of things to do actually, but should things come together in my mind and should 5,000 words a day spew out of my for three or four days, I would be back on schedule.

So there is hope! There is always hope. What there is not is an Inciting Incident for the Story-Worthy Problem. Crap!

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Time Lapse View of Earth From the ISS

The crew of expeditions 28 and 29 onboard the International Space Station took a series of time lapse photographs of earth from August to October, 2011. Here they are strung together in a video; an amazing look at our planet. Blow this up full screen and take five minutes to enjoy the world you live on.

Earth | Time Lapse View from Space, Fly Over | NASA, ISS from Michael K├Ânig on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

NaNoWriMo is Here!


The Calendar above and to the right is supposed to show my progress in the NaNoWriMo, but so far it does not appear to be working correctly as it shows me behind on my writing every day, when I have in fact been ahead since day 5. Oh well, maybe it will start working corectly at some point. The word  count does appear to be working correctly at least.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

NaNoWriMo is Coming!

Sounds like the name of a Stan Lee monster from the 50s, but it is actually National Novel Writing Month and I have decided to give it a try this year. I just finished up the F2K writing course online and a lot of the people there are now moving on to NaNo, which I had never heard of before. It takes place from November 1 to November 30 and to participate all you have to do is, 1) sign up at www.nanowrimo.org and 2) write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.

This is not a finished novel, this is a rough, unedited first draft. In fact, editing is frowned upon as it usually results in less words and as it is you have to average 1,667 words a day for 30 days in order to "win" the contest. No one reads your novel, so you are on the honor system here, though you do have to upload it at the end of the month so the words can be counted by the nanowrimo software. If you do "win" your prize is a 50,000+ word novel and a PDF certificate proclaiming your victory over procrastination and writer's block.

According to the big clock on nanowrimo we have 10 days, 11 hours, 28 minutes and some change before the big event begins. Anyone want to join in the, uh, fun?

Friday, October 21, 2011

But What About the Other Guys?

Well, they got Kadafi. That only leaves Gaddafi, Gadhafi, Kaddafi and Qadhafi still out there causing trouble.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Big "Easy"

Walter Mosley about to sign a copy of an Easy Rawlins novel for me.
It appears that NBC is bringing Walter Mosley's Ezekiel "Easy" Rawlins to TV, and I'm not sure how I fell about that. I have loved every one of the "colorful" Easy Rawlins books, from The Devil in the Blue Dress to Blonde Faith, but how well will Easy translate to TV? The thing I loved about the books was the unique look into the world of a black man living in Los Angeles from 1948 to 1968, a time of massive social upheaval, some of which I lived through, but none of it as a black man. NBC says the TV show, co-written by Mosley, will take place in the 1960s, surely a time of social unrest, but a big part of Easy's transformation takes place in an earlier, and less forgiving time. I guess we will have to see.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Buddy! Buddy! Bud...


I saw Buddy Guy this weekend in Anaheim and it was a down right shame. I saw Buddy a year ago at the Hollywood Bowl with B. B. King and the contrast between the two men, health-wise, could not have been greater. B. B. had to be almost carried on and off the stage, sat in a chair and hardly moved, while Buddy, was, you know, Buddy! Up and alive, this dervish of energy, jumping off the stage and running up and down the aisles and never stopping. This weekend in Anaheim, Buddy stopped.

He played for only an hour and 10 minutes and of that, he was missing from the stage for a good 15 minutes as his band covered for him. After the first 10-minute departure he returned to sit on a stool and play acoustic. Buddy sitting? Buddy playing acoustic? At one point he said he wasn't feeling his best, and man did it show. I hope to god it was the flu and not something more serious. A world without Buddy Guy is something I don't want to even contemplate.  

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Are You Ready for Pacific Gas and Electric?

I was recently updating a list of people I have seen live and came across this band. I don't think I realized this was a religious song back in the day. Of course I saw them at the Swing Auditorium in San Bernardino. Are You Ready for Pacific Gas and Electric?

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Story of Johnny Quest

One of the great joys of my life as meeting the late Doug Wildey at the San Diego Comic Convention sometime in the 80's or 90's (not quite sure when). Doug was an amazing artist but few people know of him. If they do, they know of him for Johnny. Sit back and relax, this takes a while. Here is the history of Doug Wildey's the Johnny Quest.

Friday, September 09, 2011

A Tale of Rings

I am really just blown away by this. Check it out, they are taking five years worth of photographs snapped by the Cassini space craft and crafting an IMAX flip-book of Saturn out of them. Everything in this video is real, No CGI, no models, nada. Amazing!

5.6k Saturn Cassini Photographic Animation from stephen v2 on Vimeo.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Roscoe's

Saturday night, after the Blues festival, we turned our attention to food and being in Long Beach, I suggested Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles. I always get the Herb's Special #3, a full half a chicken and two waffles, which I smother with syrup.

Now I eat chicken most days than not, usually from El Polo Loco and after removing the skin, but I would not think of doing that at Roscoe's. I only eat here maybe once every two years or so and when I do, I don't what to spoil what is for me a real treat. I don't know where Rosco finds these chickens, but they are gigantic, the "Chesty Morgan" and "Watermelon Rose's" of chicken, with huge, juicy golden breasts you just can't wait to sink your teeth into. There is also something in their waffles, some spice, that makes them special and unique and the perfect companion to beautifully fried chicken.

I have a theory on why Roscoe's is so good, why chicken and waffles go together in an almost addicting fashion: chocolate. I know what you are thinking, "What do chicken and waffles have to do with chocolate?" Let me explain. Is there a more addicting food on the planet than chocolate? I don't think so, and the reason chocolate is so addicting is that it satisfies two cravings most people have; chocolate is both a fat and a sugar, wonderfully melded together into a tasty treat, but to our lower minds, our more primative selves, chocolate is fat and sweet and we can't get enough of either, but together it is like a drug.

And so is chicken and waffles, a wonderful mixture of plump and juicy chicken, coated in a light batter and covered in the remnants of the fat the brought it to golden perfection, and waffles, drenched in the sweetest, sugary, maple syrup. Like chocolate the combination is addicting. And since I try to always stay on top of those things which can take control of me, I imbibe rarely, but with gusto.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Ana Popovic

Spent last night at the KJazz Blues Bash in Long Beach and was completely blown awy by Ana Popovic, Hendrix with a vagina. Watch and enjoy!