Monday, September 29, 2008

back to the drawing board

Just got a rejection back from Greatest Uncommon Denominator. That was a very fast turnaround, only a matter of like two weeks.

They said that I had some interesting ideas "but the storytelling lacks punch." It's a problem I think I can see. It's a rather sedate feeling story, I think. So I guess what I'll do is go back for an overview of it here, and see where I can send it out next. Let it get rejected once or twice more before I make some major major changes to it.

So that makes rejection #3 ever. As a number it feels good to actually see myself making some headway.

Anywhoo that's all on that.

I'll be back later with a more in depth post about the reshaping of the Rider I've been doing over the past couple of weeks. I'm at a point where I think I really know what's going on with him.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Page turned

There are a lot of interesting phrases being thrown around that have me, a bizarre combination of fledgling and long-time fan of the University of Michigan's football team, scratching my head in both contemplation and hopeful agreement.

Things like "comeback" and "epic" and "team" all focusing around one central theme: The dawning of a new era.

That's the rumor. Saturday's game against the Wisconsin Badgers, that was supposed to be a blowout, and looked like a textbook blowout, turned into what Mitch Albom called "A comeback for the ages." My friend, when I called him after the game, to see if he was interested in celebrating our joyous upset, told me that he was glad that I could be at the game, and said much the same thing that Mr. Albom said about this being the dawn of the new era of Michigan football.

I guess I don't really know what that means. In the years that I've been around, I caught the tail end of the legendary General Bo Schembechler, Gary Moeller, Lloyd Carr, and now Rich Rodriguez. Of those, I can only remember Lloyd Carr, the man who led us to a win at the Rose Bowl and a National Championship. He is like a walking god in my mind, deified from the years of my youth of my dad sitting before the television every fall Saturday and bellowing with all his heart as if his screams from Spartan Country could in fact help the outcome of the game away off in the Valhalla of Ann Arbor. With every touch down he'd get me riled up singing a rousing chorus of The Victors, the fight song which John Philip Sousa, the master of the march, declared was "the greatest college fight song ever written" (for citation see the wikipedia article). That was Michigan football for me. My dad called it smash-mouth. A battle in the trenches.

So when talk of Lloyd Carr's retirement became fact last year, and this was accompanied by his replacement with Rich Rodriguez, there was a natural fear. A fear of change. Lloyd has been god of this hundred yards of battleground for over ten years. He knew Michigan football, having apprenticed under General Bo himself, may he always watch over us. This new guy was--well, new. And in a buck of tradition he brought this dreaded "spread offense."

Now I won't go into a lot of detail on the spread, other than that RichRod more or less pioneered it, and it is utterly unlike Michigan Ball. It wasn't dirty and in the mud and the pushing and the grunting and the helmet to helmet smashing. It relied on spreading out the opponents defense and passing, and for the last couple years it had been wrecking havoc on our defense. As a response they brought Rich Rodriguez and with him the spread offense. As Albom said, an "experiment" that "wasn't working."

After a devistating loss to Utah, which brought with it tremors of another Appalachian State massacre, and another loss to Notre Dame, all hope was lost. In the fan section the cheers of "Hail to the victors" was replaced quickly with jeers about Threet's wonderful passes to the opposition, and a growing call to bring back Lloyd (one that I gladly picked up). Our offense could be summed up as "Threet and out," followed by the traditional and nearly impenetrable Michigan defense.

But then came the last Saturday in September. A cloudy and cool day, one of the first real fall days of the year. There wasn't a hope in the world--at least that is what everyone was saying. If you go by the first three quarters of play I'd have agreed with you. In the last twenty minutes of play we managed to go from nothing to a victory. And for the first time we looked like a team. "Now that's the Michigan team I know and love," my friend Zach texted me. I couldn't call him, not because I didn't want to, but because by the end of the game my voice was shredded from cheering and yelling along with the thousands in the student section.

And thus with the bellowing cries was a page turned and Michigan Football came into its new era. "We're one and oh in the big ten," our coach said.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Donut of Life

Updates are infrequent because I don't have internet in my house, and won't until I can get this whole "in-state" "out of state" tuition thing taken care of.

Until then here is a brief conversation I had with a friend contemplating the nature of people as it relates to donuts. I think Homer would be proud.

My friend

i'd say, we're two different vectors of weirdo, in two different directions, pointing away from this one collective blob of averageness


that sounds far too mathy for me

i like the idea of a donut

all the boring people are the hole

most everyone else is bursting with flavor

My friend

so you've contemplated hyperspace and hyperdonuts


and then there are the sprinkles

i like to think i'm a sprinkle

i'm above the donut

My friend

flavor? shape?


donut shaped


My friend

the sprinkle is donut-shaped too? deep


you mean what shape is the donut?

or the sprinkle




My friend

the you!


the sprinkles are a happy mix of whatever

i liked the dinosaur ones

My friend



what about you?

what type of sprinkle are you?

or are you just doughy?

My friend

good question


it's like contemplating your navel

but more homer simpsony

My friend

the caveat is that, regardless of where i am on this hyperdonut of existence, if i start walking forward in any direction, i'll eventually find myself right in the middle - exactly where i didn't want to be!

or, i could just stay in one place, which is even more boring


unless you're walking around the outside ring

there is a trail that will keep you far from the center

My friend

but to find that exact path seems so hard to do!

fuck up one parameter and i'm in the middle again!


but you're still outside of the dough

and unlike the empty middle

you have space

and color

and sugar

My friend



the spice of life?

the kryptonite of diabetics

My friend

and i always thought that salt was the ruler of spicitude


it was until they discovered that it is found in abundance in the sea

suddenly the salt trade was over

but remember

My friend



we're talking about the donut of reality here

not the bagel of being

My friend

you know, in the world of math, it's possible to turn donuts inside-out



My friend


i feel like that would shred the donut-coffee continuum and bring the whole Dunkin Donuts of Reality crashing down

My friend

this is why most people aren't mathematicians!


but if you notice the donut still ends up as a donut


helps me to conclude

that maybe that's already happened

My friend

maybe that's the midlife crisis?


and instead of the chocolate icing and sprinkles being readily available and visible for all to rejoice about their instead buried deep within the dough of normalcy

thus meaning that to really find your inner sprinkle you have to bite deep through the averageness

My friend

which ultimately begs the conclusion: damn, it must suck to be a diabetic.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

print "nom" * 3

I'm sitting in my computer programming class. I'm taking my baby steps into to program writing world, learning Python, which a friend of mine told me that it was a "beautiful language." I like that idea.

I feel like a child first learning how to speak and read. Everything is far more amusing to me than it should be.

Every time I open terminal I invariably write this funny line of code

print "nom" * 3

and what that prints is


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Fly Be Free!

I just sent a finally finished short story, "Just Jazz" off to GUD Magazine. It's a hybrid online print magazine that's been around for about two years now. Usually I am skeptical of the whole online market, the fluidity of it, and other tenuous reasons. There is something professional and serious about actually having a real and tangible magazine in my hands that I can read and carry with me. This is only further been solidified (har har) by my MLIS classes and the transience and general distrust surrounding the whole digital media world.

But after further reading from Duotrope and other online sources I'm intrigued by GUD's ideology. They appear to be on the cutting edge of how e-markets and print on demand is going, and their payment plan seems to make sense in embracing the changing market.

So that's that. Another baby away into the wide world to get mocked and ridiculed and hopefully at some point loved for the redheaded stepchild that it is.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Finders Keepers

The Law Quad is the perfect place to read on the first day of fall when the skies are gray and the temperature is not quite warm, but not quite cool. And that is where I found myself today after a morning of pointless stress.

I was doing reading for class sitting in the reference room of the Hatcher Graduate Library (which itself is a beautiful room). It was all technical mumbo jumbo that I'll never use beyond the confines of grad school. The Mathematical Theory of Communication was the paper that I didn't read. I started it, and then my brain began to ooze slowly from my ear. My mind began to wander and to try and make problems where there were none. Homework so far is just reading, which itself is a task, but still easy, and when should grad school be easy? Money is ugly, but isn't it always? Everything seems to be fine, but why should it be? Shouldn't I be stressed and grizzled and exhausted? I must be doing something wrong.

But I guess that maybe I'm not.

So with those thoughts running heavy and hard through my head I decided that enough was enough. That I was caught up far enough that I didn't need to stress anymore. I went back home and made a lunch, ate it, and then returned to campus. I was going to do some me time.

And that is how I found myself wandering over the Law Quad.

I'd seen it on my bike ride to work and to class, but never had I wandered in. It looked beautiful from the outside. The building old with brick buildings tall archway entrances and a green lawn visible beyond. Like the ideal college image.

The inside is a large plaza of green lawn intercut by a small grid of paths paved by flat stones. There are large, old trees with wide roots. The buildings have tall spires with intricate fringe work, huge wooden doors, and old windows. I took a seat against one of the unoccupied trees (many of the others had students with books and papers spread before them). And it is there that I discovered the perfect place for reading the Lord of the Rings. Beneath a gunmetal gray sky. A soft breeze. A warm cup of tea. Occasional squirrel bounding by in the grass. Students with thick backpacks and stacks of books in their hands. This is what a college is supposed to look like. I think I could easily fall in love with a place like that. I may head back there again, with a picnic perhaps, smoke my pipe, whittle away the hours contentedly. This is the collegiate experience.

Fall is coming fast upon the heels of a long summer. It was the season I hated most for the longest time, but I find myself relishing its existence now. When the leaves change. When the days grow shorter and cooler. It's always this time of year I find myself engrossed in adventure stories. Sometimes wishing for an adventure of my own.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

"I'm a ninja warrior when it comes to CTools."

Making a quick post sitting in the back of my 502 computer class.

My teacher reminds me of Bill Engvall. He's very awesome, and a very interesting lecturer. He's very promotive of Open Access, and Open Learning. He's exactly the kind of teacher with the perfect pedagogy for modern learning. Here are some quick links about 502, and Open Education.

Grad School Begins

I told myself that I would try to not make posts about my writing process that involved phrases like "writing was good today," or "everything i put on paper today was absolute rubbish." But I'm going to break my own rules because it's my blog.

Writing was absolute rubbish today. Everything has been a strain to get out, the characters feel flat as cardboard, their dialog stilted, and the tone of the narration completely different and unrelated to everything that preceded it. I'll probably throw it away and start from absolute scratch the next time I sit down, with the only thing taken away from this sitting is a clear example of what not to do.


Now here's the rest of the post.

I started class yesterday. I had one in the morning, and then the rest of the day to myself. The lecture was interesting, but even walking in a minute late I felt like I was completely out in the dark. On the upside they'll be posting a podcast of it online as well as the slides, so I'll be able to catch up and/or review what I missed. I also won't be late for class tonight.

I start work tomorrow at the Knowledge Navigation Center (KNC). It's a really awesome department in the library that's aimed at instructing graduate students or teachers in different software. Problem is that I'm not educated in a portion of the software they're teaching. Upshot of which is they will teach me to use all the software. This is going to look good on the resume, and it pays well.

The School of Information is really awesome. My class is small (150ish people), and the school is promotive of group work, and of creating a real sense of team. They offer lots of opportunities for internships and jobs that are all in my field of study, and support in tailoring everything I do to reflect what it is that I want to take out of SI.

Thus far homework has been light (considering I've only been to one class that's not surprising) but I can help but feel like this is the calm before the storm. That seems to be the idea that I'm getting from most of my friends who are second year students here.

Game day is something else. The Big House holds over 100,000 people, according to the announcer on Saturday we had over 108,000. There was a flyby before the game of four fighter jets. When the student section cheers it is stunning. The volume is so loud, and there is such intensity in the cheers that the hair on my arm stood straight up.

Tonight I have another class, and then tomorrow is my full day, running for almost 12 hours. with an hour break from 4-5.