George R.R. Martin farts in your general direction

I’m currently trying to wean myself off Game of Thrones with the methadone of The Tudors. Man, was that a dizzying sprint. I started reading the very first book in May. Since, I read all four available books, watched the entirety of the HBO series and then read the fifth book in just a weekend. Devoured it, more like.

There are many good things to say Game of Thrones (and many, many fine mashups to be had in Tumblosphere) but as I’m still digesting, I had one short item of note from Dances with Dragons that I wanted to point out to the Internets.

Somewhere in that fog of a weekend I happened upon a funny and familiar phrase: “fart in your general direction.” Now you and I both know where that comes from:

I don’t presume to know whether that phrase was a rare and gentle wink from Martin to his readers (an audience that most certainly knows where that comes from) or whether it was one of those phrases that just kind of slips through a writer’s fingers to his keyboard and into his manuscript, passed over in all later edits.

I do find its use fascinating though. Fantasy writing, and certainly in the Tolkein-esque ring Martin seems to be boxing in, is ageless. It is not tied to its time. Yet, this little slip of a phrase places this book. This is a book written by someone who watched (and probably several times) Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Whether or not this is intentional it leads me to wonder: Could there be a post-modern fantasy? Could you write that book, brimming with clever references and asides, without subverting all the laws that make a fantasy book a fantasy book?

Anyone else find any little telltale phrases in your respective devouring of Dances with Dragons? (I also noticed “shubbery”, but that’s perhaps excusable.)

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Why Google+ Hangout Is Good for Long Distance Relationships

Let me preface this with the admission that I haven’t used Google+ nor am I a tech blogger. I’m just a guy whose fiancée happens to be on the other side of the continent. And I think “Hangouts” are brilliant.

I think this “Hangouts” feature of Google+ is brilliant in that it addresses one very core problem with video telephony: the expectation of interaction. While you’re on the phone, you can be doing plenty of other things. While you’re on video chat, in a way, you’re on stage. You feel like your full attention should be given to the chat at hand. Which is a real bummer if all you want to do is…well…hang out with the other person.

My fiancée is beautiful. I love to look at her. But I’m in Washington and she’s 3000+ miles away. Thanks to video chat seeing her is no longer such a barrier. The problem is that we always feel like video chat forces us into having a “conversation”. What if all we want to do is enjoy each others’ company? I can still look at her when we’re not talking, but after some time “looking” turns to “leering.” And no one wants to creep out the woman they’re about to marry!

So we came up with a solution: We watch TV shows on our laptops together. (Everyone facing a long distance relationship – here’s a big tip for you.) We make sure we’re on the same site (Hulu or Netflix) or buy from the same online store (iTunes or Amazon) and then we sync up our strikes of our respective play buttons. And there we are, in each others’ company, just watching TV. To “hang out.”

Hangout isn’t new technology, it’s just a new framework for existing technology. And that can be just as revolutionary. Kudos to Google.

Didn’t the Big Groupon Article Miss Something?

In that very long Sunday NYT article that went on and on about “the Voice” of Groupon, I thought there was one glaring omission: that big Super Bowl ad that was a titanic disaster of…comedic voice.

From the article:

“People have grown numb to the elements of advertising that pander to their fears and hopes, that insult their intelligence with safe, bland approaches at creativity,” says Mr. With, who at nights and on weekends is lead singer in the band Volcano. “We’re mixing business with art and creating our own voice.”

The Voice. This, Groupon says, is what subscribers respond to as much as the deal itself. “Thirty percent of our subscriber base makes over $100,000 a year,” says Mr. With. “They don’t need $20 off at a restaurant.”

That reliance on comedic voice is what defines the company, but while “GROUPON was first noticed by people who do not use Groupon when Google tried to buy it in December for a reported $6 billion” it was then two months later noticed by millions of people as the company that entered into comedic television advertising as tone deaf as an elementary school choir.

Don’t know why this was left out…but, you know…big wet, sloppy kiss….impending IPO…bubble enthusiasm…blah blah blah.

Categories: The News Tags: , , ,

My Iphone Life

Inspired by Alexis Madrigal, I took a few snapshots of my life with the iPhone.

This is our nation, seen through the filter of my movements over the last couple of years.

Really the most interesting area in my iPhone history is the East Coast. The lines you’re seeing there are largely train lines. Amtrak from DC to NY to Boston. And that little hook up and to the left is my favorite train ride in the country: the Adirondack to upstate New York is actually to the same destination, but on the highway.

It’s interesting to see the incorrect pings. I’ve never really been anywhere in New Jersey that the Amtrak doesn’t run through – yet you see those pings scattered across the countryside like a drunken ramble.

Last summer’s trip to Nova Scotia had the same thing: pings all over PEI. But I love too the personal stories. Here’s San Francisco, where I live. And that persistent cluster traveling up and to the left is to wine country, where I’m getting married.

Categories: The Future

A few weeks in DC

In non-writing news: I’m headed to DC for a few weeks to do some work with Al Jazeera English on a new show they’re developing called The Stream.

Here’s a short write-up about it from Wired.

I’ve long been impressed with the work Al Jazeera English has been doing and particularly in these last few weeks as they’ve covered the various protests and revolts in North Africa. I’m very excited for the chance to work with them on what sounds like a very cool new project.

If you’re in DC or will be in DC sometime this month – let me know!

Categories: Announcements

The Collective is on Kindle!

Now that I’ve come to a pause point on Project Lazarette (it’s out with readers right now) I’m working on my backlog to-do list. And high on that list? Making my novel The Collective available for download on Kindle!

Where once you could only purchase the on-demand dead-tree edition via Lulu now, in our high-tech future world, you can download the book onto your Kindle-device!

This is where you click to go to the Amazon.

For those of you who’ve read the book already, I sure wouldn’t mind if you’d oblige me with a review. Be honest (about how much you five-star loved it)!

Categories: Uncategorized

Project Lazarette Rough Draft By the Numbers

The rough draft of Project Lazarette is complete!

It happened suddenly, almost like an explorer finding a long-sought seacoast. I’d planned to write all weekend, knowing I was within three chapters of completion according to my outline. Then yesterday, finishing what was to be the first of those, I realized the second chapter was unnecessary. And then I surged through with adrenaline and hammered out the Very Last Chapter Of This Whole Damn Book.

By the numbers:
The rough draft as it stands is 122,713 words. That’s nearly (but not quite) double the length of The Collective. Project Lazarette is a novel in three parts. Part Two is the longest at 51,300 words spread across 11 chapters. Part One is a healthy 41,792 and 9 chapters and Part Three is 29,621 with 8 chapters. I’ve been writing the rough draft for 7.5 months, having started in July. My Scrivener file is 3.2 MBs (and that’s all text!).

What next?
Well I can’t yet rest on my laurels, that’s for sure. My next step is to turn over the rough draft to a small group of readers. I know it’s mess right now though, so I want to try and patch it up first. Hopefully I can do that before the end of the month. And then? I wait. It’s a long-ass book right now, so I expect my readers to take quite a few weeks to get through it. In the meantime: I can finally read fiction again! Let me if there’s anything you’ve read in the last few months that I absolutely must read.

And how about a sneak peek?
This will undoubtedly change, but this is the final sentence of the book as it stands now:
He stretched his arms to the sky, first the left and then the right, and he held his fists up to the steel grey that gathered above and dared God to try.