Monday, February 23, 2009

Spring Break - Day Thre

Already it is just day three of spring break, and I'm going to declare this the utmost of break victories.

This weekend I chipped away 2500 words on my novel, leaving me at about 68,000-ish. Just about got Edmund out of the frustratingly slow situation he was in and back on the road where he should be. Spent most of this time hunched over my laptop at the Magic Johnson Starbucks in East Lansing.

Saturday night I went with my friend James out to the kick off party for an up and coming nonprofit called SCOUT BANANA (Serving Citizens Of Uganda Today Because Africa Needs A New Ambulance). Their website can be found here. It makes me extra happy because it is the continuation of an Eagle Scout project, helping to build necessary medical and educational infrastructure in Uganda. For the educational/informational part I put them in touch with the Community Informatics Corp, a student organization through SI interested in spreading information technology and infrastructure to communities both domestically and abroad. CIC's website can be found here. Best part of the kick off party was a guy in a banana suit rapping. I guess his rapper name was Philthy...

I've been able to enjoy some time to read also. Finished Neil Gaiman's The Sandman for the second time ever, and enjoying it even more this time than I did the first time. I'm also working my way through Alan Moore's Watchmen again in preparation for the movie. Early reviews I've read have said good things, but I still can't shake the nervousness of this so perfect and epic comic becoming another flub on the screen (see all of the comic to movie creations of Alan Moore's others, with the exception of V, which became a fun thing of its own).

Tomorrow morning bright and early (probably not even bright, judging by the departure time) I'll be flying out Los Angeles for the rest of the week, and most of next week. Out there I'll be writing, and relaxing and carousing with friends. Blog updates and pictures and twitters definitely to follow.

Now I have to pack up for lunch with my friend Scott from the Capitol Area District Library about a potential summer internship. More to come.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

American Gods Road Trip: Lakeside, Wisconsin

Back in mid-November I made a post titled "American Gods Road Trip: A Proposal." The idea, in a nutshell was to plan out and execute a road trip that loosely recaps the major locations of the book. The trip wouldn't necessarily adhere to the chronology of American Gods, but instead would distill all the major locations in one massive north to south run.

The problem with road trips gleaned from works of fiction goes hand in hand with the first rule of storytelling, "Never let truth get in the way of a good story." And Mr. Gaiman gladly accepts that rule, and freely admits it at the beginning of his novel in a "Caveat, and Warning for Travelers" :

"This is a work of fiction, not a guide book. While the geography of the United States of America in this tale is not entirely imaginary--many of the landmarks in this book can be visited, paths can be followed, ways can be mapped--I have taken liberties. Fewer liberties than you might imagine, but liberties none the less...

"I have obscured the location of several of the places in this book: the town of Lakeside, for example, and the farm with the ash tree an hour south of Blacksburg. You may look for them if you wish. You might even find them."

Gaiman, Neil. American Gods. New York: Harper Perennial, 2001.

The problem presents itself almost immediately with the northernmost stop of the trip, Lakeside.

A quick search of Google, and of Wikipedia places Lakeside, Wisconsin about as far north and about as far west as it is possible to get in Wisconsin. The Website, Only the Gods are Real, works from this premise, and for what it's worth, the thought process makes sense, but that didn't stop a niggling doubt in the back of my mind. My doubt was confirmed by the quote "But this is the farthest south and east of the yoopie you can get pasties" (Gaiman, 266). A further search of the text revealed these facts:

  • Lakeside is south of Rhinelander and Eagle River.
    • "'Up north of Rhinelander? Nope, that's Eagle River" (Gaiman, 295).
  • While there is a White Pine River in Minnesota, around 35 miles from the actual Lakeside, Wisconsin, There is a Pine River south of Rhinelander, and near a few of the locations I will later propose as the factual Lakeside.
    • "On one memorable occasion he watched an eagle snatch a silver fish from the middle of the White Pine River" (Gaiman, 363).
  • It's west of County Road Q.
    • "She refilled his coffee. 'You ever gone east on County Q?'" (Gaiman, 366).
  • It's 20 Miles east of Camden, a nonexistent town. There is a Crandon, WI.
    • "'Darren managed the Motel American over in Camden, twenty miles west of here'" (Gaiman, 299).
  • South of Ironwood. North of Green Bay
    • "'I reckon he was driving up to Ironwood, maybe down to Green Bay'" (Gaiman, 299)
  • North of UW: Stevens Point.
    • "'Darren Olsen met Marge at U.W. Stevens Point and he brought her back north to Lakeside'" (Gaiman, 299)
Building from these facts alone (I'm sure there are more that I've overlooked) I've narrowed down roughly three towns.
  1. Pelican Lake
    1. which fits most all of the facts
  2. Pine Lake
  3. Parrish
    1. which fits many of the above facts, but doesn't have a lake..
These are, of course, not the only options. Certain glances make me wonder if Elcho, or Enterprise, or maybe some other place that I am missing may be the actual Lakeside. Or could this fictional town be (as most fictional towns are) an amalgamation of many of these towns, created solely to tell the story that Gaiman wanted to.

In the next installment of this series I'll be examining The House on the Rock, providing a brief history, and from there to Madison, Wisconsin.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Comings and The Goings

My job is better than yours (at least for any college students reading this). Tonight, so far, I've been paid to do Monday's crossword in the NYT (finished it), figure out the homework I'm not going to do, and surf the blogosphere for other blogs I read (such as Gaiman, Mike Doughty, Janet, and Duke Kimball). Plans for the rest of the evening include working on the novel, and working on homework. And I'm getting paid for this.

After a brief stint of almost banging my head against the wall with my novel, I've managed to work out the kinks (at least for a first draft) of a scene I've been sitting on for a couple weeks now. The rider, my force of nature ball of energy character has been locked up in a cell, and mum's the word. He's been interrogated by just about anyone within arm's length and is playing the big strong silent type, meaning the scenes, which I'm convinced right now, have to be in there. The scenes are, for the most part, boring. But now, after a long weekend at home there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Some action and adventure and intrigue again. And the end is getting ever closer.

Next week I go out to Los Angeles. I fly out Tuesday, and will be out there until Wednesday. Long needed escape from the never ending winter. This will be year three of the tradition. Year One never got properly blogged. Year two is here, here, and the return trip here. Because I'll be missing St. Patty's day, Ben and Kate are throwing a St. Nathan's day party.

And for amusement here is a picture of one of the Fairy Doors of Ann Arbor I found.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Birthday Blog

Holy crap!

I totally missed the birthday post for this thing. We are now 2 (as of February 5th).

12 Days until California.

Haven't touched the novel (school is swallowing my soul).

All is still quiet on the Western Front.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

One of Those Rambly Going Nowhere Posts

Sitting in Starbucks, dealing with slow internet. Figured I'd make a blog post because I've hit a wall with the writing.

The novel is currently hovering around 64,000 words. The writing was good tonight. I've been sitting on a scene with Loki, and Daniel, and the Freewalkers for a week or so now, and it's almost finished. I know this kind of thing is rather cryptic to talk about. Bantering names for a story that not many people know a lot about. Maybe it's enticing.

I came back to Haslett this weekend to learn how to do taxes with my mom, hang out with the guys, and get ready to dive into the homestretch before spring break (18 days until I fly out). Last night was a banana pancake dinner, with eggs, and sausage, and rum and orange juice (a new fun combination). Then we watched Dumb and Dumber. Also saw Coraline, which was very very good.

Tomorrow is pack up and back to school. Going to be very glad when it's done done done.

Right. Starbucks is closing. Time to pack it up and head back home to watch Arrested Development, read Graveyard Book, and sleep.

Friday, February 06, 2009

More Library Things

It is historically understood that library use increases in times of financial need. The library represents the communities access to the information infrastructure, and now with internet being so necessary and prevelant the need for libraries is increasing. With that in mind I got this note from ALA HQ, and figured I'd pass it on again.

Calls to ALL Senators are needed IMMEDIATELY to protect $200 million for libraries, community computing centers and related institutions in the original language of the Senate stimulus bill, H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. We have just been advised that Senators Kent Conrad (ND-D) and Lindsey Graham (SC-R) are expected to introduce Senate Amendment 501 which would strip funding for libraries and broadband to put additional funding in FDIC. If introduced, the vote could take place this afternoon.

The message is: keep the $200 million for libraries and broadband in H.R. 1 - defeat amendment 501. Libraries provide information on jobs, employment skills, and all other types of job-seeking information. More people are using libraries during these difficult times and the demand for broadband is greater than ever.

ALA Office of Government Relations will keep you updated as the stimulus debate continues on the Senate floor. Please watch the District Dispatch for updates.

Please if you feel so inclined, call your senators! Whether or not you are a regular user, for many who are feeling the blows of this financial crisis, the library is a lifeline to necessary programs.