NaNoWriMo 2006: Here we go again…

NaNoWriMo 2006November is nearly upon us, and around here that means it’s almost time for National Novel Writing Month. Once again, Laura and I will each be attempting to write a 50,000 word novel in just thirty short days. We are far from alone in this venture; yesterday we met with thirty or so people who will be writing their own novels next month. Throughout the month, we will meet at coffee shops, libraries and bookstores to discuss our progress, trade ideas, tips and traps, and compete in 20-minute Word Sprints.

For some people, the regular meetings are their most productive time (a few Cleveland-area writers can produce over a thousand words in a single 20-minute sprint), for others they are a way to share their triumphs or heartbreak. For me, they are an excuse to drink large café mochas and eat sweets.

Laura and I will be on a twenty-three hour a day television moratorium all throughout November in order to prevent the idiot box from absorbing precious writing time. The TiVo will take care of recording our favorite shows, and we have allowed ourselves an hour each day to watch The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.

One of the Cleveland-area participants has loaned Laura a laptop, an elderly Compaq with a 150MHz Pentium Processor and 32MB of RAM running Windows 98 and RoughDraft 3.0. This should come in very handy, as Laura spends much of her day in the living room with Kyle, her desktop far out of reach. After NaNoWriMo is finished, the laptop will become part of the official loaner laptop pool, a handful of laptops that NaNo founder Chris Baty and company ship out to needy novelists each year in late October.

This year, NaNoWriMo will be a little different for me. For starters, I actually have a story in mind, with a nearly-complete storyarc; it’s a blend of science fiction, action and suspense with a bit of political satire thrown in just to complicate things. I’m also part of a joint venture between Mur Lafferty (I Should Be Writing), The House of the Harping Monkey and P.G. Holyfield called The NanoMonkeys. It’s a daily podcast featuring tips and tricks, interviews, and the occasional reality check. I’ve heard a few of the segments, including an interview with podcast novelist, J.C. Hutchins (7th Son), and they all sound very good.

November looks to be a busy month and if all goes well I’ll have a first draft of Yesterday’s Tomorrow before the sun rises on December 1st.

Welcome to Parenthood: Nine Months

Kyle: Happy in the Hood
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When my young apprentice emerged from his growth chamber, we made an agreement: if, after spending equal amounts of time inside and outside of said chamber, either of us felt that further gestation was warranted, he would immediately be returned to the growth chamber for a period to be decided at the time of demergence.I know, “demergence” isn’t a real word; but it sounds better than “re-insertion”.

Per our agreement, Kyle and I conducted our nine month evaluation on Friday the 13th of this month, and we have both arrived at the conclusion that no further gestation will be necessary. Laura received this announcement with no small measure of relief.

Non Sequitur: The Superhero Quiz

My co-hosts over at The Round Table have all taken the superhero quiz and posted the results in their personal blogs (except for Julia, who is a mystery even unto herself), so I figured it was high time I followed suit.

Before I get to my own results, let’s have a look at my co-hosts’. Mick Bradley is Spider-Man, though I tend to think of him as a kinder, gentler Green Arrow. Chris Miller is Batman, and any smartass comment I have about that would be superfluous at this point.

I should point out that there are some obvious gaps in the possibilities (no Captain America, no Matter-Eater Lad), but I’m not at all surprised to discover my own alter ego…
Continue reading Non Sequitur: The Superhero Quiz

Cartoon Network: The Venture Brothers

The Venture BrothersThe second season of The Venture Brothers came to a close on Sunday, and it seems like only yesterday that we learned the fate of young Dean and Hank Venture after their brush—or perhaps slow-dance—with death at the end of the first season.

If I have a list of Favorite Animated Television Series, you can be sure that The Venture Brothers sits comfortably in the coveted top slot, above even Seth MacFarlane’s Family Guy and timeless classics such as The Simpsons and The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin.

Dr. Jonas Venture was a well-known, respected and successful scientist/adventurer. Unfortunately, he disappeared years ago, leaving his son, Rusty, a very big lab coat to fill. To say that Rusty hasn’t lived up to his potential may be unfair (perhaps he just didn’t have all that much potential), but it would certainly seem that Jonas’ genius, passion and charisma skipped a generation.

Or maybe two.

Hank and Dean Venture are Rusty’s teenaged sons, and what they lack in common sense and intelligence they make up for with enthusiasm. Always on the lookout for adventure and mystery, the boys frequently find themselves in a life-threatening jam. They are almost invariably rescued by the family bodyguard, Brock Samson (voiced by the awesome Patrick Warburton), or Dr. Byron Orpheus, the Doctor Strange knockoff who rents a spare lab at the Venture Compound.

Threats to the Venture clan come in all shapes, sizes and degrees of competence. Without question the most tenacious and obsessive of Dr. Venture’s nemeses is The Monarch, a butterfly-themed villain who operates from a hidden cocoon base and employs a cadre of expendable and far-from-elite henchmen. The Monarch’s rage can only be quenched by two things: the utter destruction of Dr. Venture and the tender ministrations of Dr. Girlfriend, the buxom, basso beauty (voiced by series co-creator, Doc Hammer) who hopes to one day become Dr. Mrs. Monarch.

Each episode of The Venture Brothers is an all-out pop culture assault, peppered with bizarre mythological and historical references to boot. One episode in the second season—titled “Escape to the House of Mummies, Part II”—threw the audience into the middle of a time-travel story involving Caligula, Edgar Allen Poe, Dr. Sigmund Freud and Thoth, the Egyptian god of knowledge. Though the episode begins with several scenes from “Last week on The Venture Bros.“, there is no “Escape to the House of Mummies, Part I”, nor is there—despite an unresolved storyline and a post-credits scene from the “next” episode that spoofs The Empire Strikes Back—an “Escape to the House of Mummies, Part III”.

It should be noted that The Venture Bros. is not suitable for children (hence its 10:30pm Adult Swim timeslot). Dr. Venture seems to be addicted to prescription diet pills, and will go to great lengths to procure them (including a visit to Mexico in season one’s “Dia de los Dangerous!”). Brock Samson has been described as Venture’s “Swedish murder machine,” and with good reason; he often kills The Monarch’s henchmen by the dozens. Meanwhile, Dr. Orpheus’ mysterious Master takes the guise of Catherine the Great’s horse in order to teach the mystic a lesson about “biting off more than [he] can chew.” Oh, and The Monarch has a bit of a potty mouth.

Finally, it should also be noted that—at the time of this writing—I do not yet own the first season of The Venture Brothers on DVD. If you don’t believe me, check my DVD collection on Squirl; the complete lack of the two-disc set is like a hole in the heart of the database.

Podcast: The Round Table, Season 3, Episode 3

The Round Table

Due to some incompetent conjuring on the part of the wizard, Weirdbeard, the episode of The Round Table that appeared in late September took place outside of our normal time-space continuum. Those who tuned into the aberrant transmission found that the regular hosts had been replaced by Dan, Chad, Dawn and Adam from the Fear the Boot podcast.

Rest assured that the appropriate counterspell has been cast (podcastus returnum!) and all has been set to right.

In fact, when the Cleveland contingent of The Round Table returned to our proper place, we found some shiny new recording equipment waiting for us! Where before Chris, Julia and I huddled around Chris’ MacBook like rain-drenched Scouts ’round a tiny campfire, we now record in style at the gloriously appointed Erie Vista Studio! We each have our own Audio-Technica DR-VX1 dynamic microphone on a sleek, black boom stand, all three of which are plugged into a shiny new Behringer Eurorack 1002 mixer.

What better way to break in the new equipment than by recording a brand new episode of The Round Table? This time out, we talked to podcaster, game designer and New York Times bestselling author, Tracy Hickman. Tracy is the co-creator of the Dragonlance RPG setting, co-author (with Margaret Weis) of nearly a dozen Dragonlance novels, and author of The Immortals, which is now available at Podiobooks.com. Tracy and his wife, Laura, co-authored the Bronze Canticles trilogy and co-host the Dragonhearth podcast.

The episode clocks in at nearly two hours and includes not only our discussion with Tracy, but response to listener feedback, the latest geeky recommendations from all four hosts and assorted tomfoolery.

Download the show. (01:50:03)
Subscribe to The Round Table feed.