Happy NaNoWriMo Eve

We are one hour away from the official start of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The goal is to write a novel in a month, reaching 50,000 words by month’s end. This works out to 1,666 words a day, or about 2,000 words a day if you take off on Saturdays and Thanksgiving, which I plan to do because I deserve it. Damnit.

Now, a pep talk for both you and myself.

2,000 words may seem like a lot, but it’s only a number. Numbers can’t hurt you.

On any random workday, I pound out 2,000 words for various articles and projects. The Twilight and Potter blogs are typically in the 3,000 word range before I grind them down to a smooth 2K, or, if possible, 1.5K of the finest, hand-picked words on my screen.

However, if I’m writing upwards of 3,000 words daily for work, and another 2,000 words for NaNoWriMo…well…now I’m crying.

But I can do this.

We can do this.

We must all work together. Encourage each other. Be happy. Be upbeat. Be caffeinated.

Take a deep breath. Get a good night’s rest. This month will be amazing.

And before you know it, it’ll be time to open up a certain toy-themed Advent Calendar. I can think of no better reward.

Good luck.

Check back tomorrow for Part 1 of my novel…which I have not outlined or developed.

Bonus: The names of the first and tenth person to leave comments beneath this Facebook link will be names of characters in my novel.

Update: I signed up with the NaNoWriMo website (username: Dan_Bergstein).

Trees Suck! (And some updates)

First: I am without electricity thanks to the Storm of the Eon. According to my power company, I may have electricity on Friday. Yay!

Second: I’m still doing NaNoWriMo. Updates will be found here on Laser Farm. Updates will be daily…hopefully.

Second (Part Two): Made this video just for you: CLICK IT!

Third (Part One): Did you read my New Halloween Safety Rules? Click here for the fun. And click here for my old Blogging It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!

Every Quil Joke From Blogging Twilight

Here is every Quil joke from Blogging Twilight.

Blogging Eclipse: Part 8
It begins!
QUIL: You look lovely tonight, Claire. Is that OshKosh B’gosh? It’s very becoming.
CLAIRE: You face is funny. Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha.
QUIL: Claire, you’re so witty.
CLAIRE: Chicken ‘uggets!
QUIL: Are you hungry?
CLAIRE: I want chicken ‘uggets!
QUIL: I’m not sure they have chicken nuggets on the menu, my love.
QUIL: Um…ok.
CLAIRE: Can I go on slide?
QUIL: You mean at the park? Put down the fork, my dearest. It’s not a toy.
CLAIRE: Can I slide at park?
QUIL: But the park is far away. And it’s nighttime.
CLAIRE: Why [unintelligible] the man [unintelligible] a horse? Drum!
CLAIRE: Train?
QUIL: No, we can’t go on the train tonight, honey. Put down the spoon. Where is your shoe?
CLAIRE: Twinkle! Twinkle! Little! Star! [BANGS SPOON ON THE TABLE]
QUIL: I love you too.

Blogging Eclipse: Part 9

QUIL: You should have seen her on the motorcycle. I’ve seen toddlers with better balance. And I would know. I’m dating one!

Continue reading Every Quil Joke From Blogging Twilight

Book Review: Supergods, by Grant Morrison

If you read only eighteen books about narrative structure and the history of comic books and culture, then Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human, by Grant Morrison should be one of them. It’s the best non-fiction book I’ve read in a long time and I loved every word.

I shy away from non-fiction most of the time. I don’t trust it. Biographies and autobiographies are rife with exaggeration and flat-out lies. Books about the economy, self-improvement, society, cows, etc. are all biased, and filled with hyperbole and more lies. And generally speaking, non-fiction books are bloated with fluffy chapters that are there only to make the book seem more booky.

I prefer my non-fiction in magazine form. Having worked in the magazine business, I know that even glossy pop culture rags must go through a fact-checking process (unless it’s a tabloid), and magazine articles must conform to size restrictions, which means so long to all the fluff.

But Grant Morrison’s book was something that rose above my distaste for non-fiction. First, it’s written by one of the most respected comic book writers, so he knows what he’s talking about. Morrison certainly deserves his seat at the genius table alongside Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, and Frank Miller. He’s well known for his stories that play with the concept of comic books. If he’s famous for anything, it’s for an issue of Animal Man in which the hero looked over his shoulder, directly into the reader’s eyes, and said, “I can see you!”

Trippy, right?

Morrison is also crazy. He practices magic (not the Harry Potter stuff), admits to dabbling in psychotropic drugs, met the ghost of John Lennon, and wrote himself into his own fiction.

His abstract mind, coupled with a kinetic writing style, made this book a wild ride, something I rarely experience when reading non-fiction.

So what’s the book about?

Morrison runs through the history of comic books, from the first appearance of Superman to this summer’s blockbuster superhero movies. He explains the impact comic books had on culture, and vice versa. He explores the relationship between superheroes and the divine. And he details his own rise to fame, from a kid in a punk band to one of the highest paid writers of any medium.

Morrison is cocky, but he’s talking about his own industry of which he is a master, so if he doesn’t have a right to sound cocky, who does? The hyperbole and bias that I dislike in other non-fiction books, I loved here. I think it has to do with the author and his hyper, brainy writing style.

Speaking of bias, he’s clearly wearing a Team DC shirt. He writes about both major comic publishers, DC and Marvel, but whereas Batman and the Flash are discussed at length, the X-Men and Spider-Man are given only a few paragraphs.

And even some DC characters and writers are neglected. His discussion of the 80’s and 90’s is fascinating, though he glosses over Neil Gaiman too swiftly for my taste and Garth Ennis is mentioned only once. That’s a crime.

But these choices don’t deter from a fascinating account of the superhero world. Towards the end of the book, Morrison goes off on a few tangents, including a chapter-length account of an out-of-body experience he had in Africa, an experience wherein he rose above our three dimensional world and conferred with higher beings – an experience he denies was the result of drugs.

Trippy stuff, right?

If such tangents are not your cup of tea, you won’t like the book. But I found his asides and psychedelic insight entertaining and intriguing. I don’t believe for a minute that he actually met ancient aliens and transcended time, and I’d bet all my fingers that his “enlightenment” was the result of heavy drug use, but I still loved these tangents.

What I enjoyed most were Morrison’s ideas regarding storytelling. He believes stories are an infinite reality beneath our own, that Huck Finn and Captain Ahab are as real as raisins. He also imagines our world as a fiction for higher lifeforms.

Trippy stuff, right?

I’m not sure I buy into all, or any, of his ficto-science chatter. But it’s damn fun to read and think about. Weeks after finishing the book, I still find myself dreaming about his ideas.

Read this book. Read it hard!

Lego and Gourds: Photos of Saturday

How was your Saturday? Neat! Here’s how I spent the wondrous day.

1. Lego

Until thirteen months ago, my interest in Lego equaled my interest in Kevin Costner movies – I found them to be mostly adequate but hardly noteworthy. That all changed when I opened my first Lego Advent calendar last December. Lego is pure, stupid fun. My respect for the product has grown, and if Kevin Costner is reading this, perhaps making a Costner Advent Calendar would change my opinion of you too.

Continue reading Lego and Gourds: Photos of Saturday

Monster of the Day #58: Foot Turkey

Name: Foot Turkey

Powers: Eater of joy; drinker of tears.

Weaknesses: Hand turkeys, kindergarten teachers who hate creativity, lava, socks.

Origin: The devil traced his foot.

Rules: The Foot Turkey deceives.

Description: It looks like a hand turkey, but more footish and less colorful.

Last Seen: Standing outside of Whole Foods, hitting on a boob turkey.

In a Small Room on a Warm October Day, Dan Bergstein Writes This Sentence

There seems to be only three ways to start a magazine feature story. They all begin the same. And if you combine the first sentences from articles in any issue of Rolling Stone, you can create a weird, nightmarish tale. Here’s an example. Each sentence comes from the first line of an article in the October 13, 2011 issue of Rolling Stone.

It’s near midnight, and I’m holed up in a rickety hotel in Proserpine, a whistle-stop town on the north-east coast of Australia.

On a leafy corner lot in L.A.’s Laurel Canyon, in a three-bedroom house that used to belong to Rob Lowe, Tom Morello is showing off the Marshall amp he’s used for 22 years.

“You have to feel it,” Lou Reed says with a hard look at Metallica singer-guitarist James Hetfield. Five hours before Blink-182 take the stage in Saratoga Springs, New York, drummer Travis Barker is stuffing his face with broccoli and fake meat in his dressing room. A few days before his 85th birthday, Tony Bennett stands next to Lady Gaga in a midtown New York studio, working up a duet on Rodgers and Hart’s “The Lady Is a Tramp.”

Wrapped in a hotel bathrobe and sipping red wine, Leslie Feist brandishes a tiger finger puppet and makes it say, “Hi, I am Fraulein Forever Jet-Lagged!”

In Capitol Records’ giant Studio A in Los Angeles this summer, the surviving members of the Beach Boys – Brian Wilson, Mike Love, Al Jardine, and Bruce Johnston- gathered around a microphone and, for the first time in two decades, harmonized on a track.

Peter Gabriel set a strict rule for his 2010 world tour: no guitars or drums.

The End

Monster of the Day #56: Nathan Dumpty

Name: Nathan Dumpty

Powers: Very strong. Very round.

Weaknesses: Walls. Great falls.

Origin: Nathan’s mother died during childbirth and his father, Humpty, was killed in a tragic wall accident years ago. Nathan was taken to an orphanage but soon escaped. Little is known of his teenage years, though legend says he traveled the globe learning martial arts and studying ancient, forbidden mysticism. He returned to seek revenge, to harm the king’s men and horses who failed to help his father. Lurking in the shadows, huddled in the rain, he waits. He waits.

Rules: Do not paint him.

Description: He is a large egg.

Last Seen: Tossing a single rose on his father’s grave and whispering, “Soon.”