Tag Archives: Humor

Author Enters Rehab For Fractal Addiction

Ben Trube, author and one-time CMT background audience member, has admitted himself into the Helge von Koch Fractal Addiction treatment center earlier this week, following an incident that nearly resulted in the destruction of his home.

“I’m doing this for my family,” Trube said in a short statement.

According to reports, Trube had been working on a new technique for visualizing the Mandelbrot set when his laptop caught fire, destroying many treasured chotskies including a Pikachu made of Legos and a Snoopy stuffed animal.

“I’ve learned a lot about loss since that fire,” Trube added.

Trube’s addiction reportedly began sometime in late elementary school, with occasional math outbursts in his mid-teens.

“We’d walk down the hallway and suddenly there would be dozens of Sierpinski Triangles plastered all over the walls,” reported a former WKHS administrator. “Sometimes it took hours to pull those staples out of the corkboard.”

“I thought he’d left it all behind in college,” Trube’s wife stated when reached for comment. “But then he got the idea to write a book, and that brought it all flooding back.”

Soon the Trube home was buried in books by Saupe, Wolfram, and Devaney. In the months that followed, Trube reportedly sank dozens of dollars into any penny book he could find on Amazon.

“He’d light up when he found one with a floppy [disk] in the back,” Trube’s wife reported.

Sales of the new fractal book allegedly only served to deepen the author’s obsessive behavior.

“It became all he’d talk about at night. I’d be trying to go to bed, and all he’d want to talk about is L-Systems or some new Indian Kolam he’d discovered,” Mrs. Trube lamented.

An unnamed source within the Koch center reported that treatment has not been going well.

“He got a hold of a pencil and started drawing a dragon curve on his wall. When we tried to restrain [Trube] he started shouting ‘Z-two is Z-one squared plus c‘!”

Promotional Poster drawn by Trube for non-existent fractal MMA match.

Promotional Poster for non-existent fractal MMA match.

Nationwide, fractal addiction is the leading cause of death among mathematicians aged 80-100.

“Dr. Mandelbrot has a non-zero amount of blood on his hands.”

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Peripheral Writing Tasks

We all have evenings where we don’t feel like working on our main WIP. Sometimes we don’t even feel like stringing two sentences together. But being the neurotic people we are, we can’t always just take that as a day to watch television and recharge. Sometimes we have to convince ourselves that what we’re doing is still somehow contributing to the the whole writing project. Here are just a few of my favorite writing obfuscations:

Reading NetGalley Books – “Hey, I’ve got to review two of these things every week. If I want to spend the evening reading about the coffee drinking habits of bumblebees then that’s just research. Perfectly legit.”

Reorganizing my office – “A writer needs a clean workspace in order to be able to produce the best work. That, and I have no place to put my laptop.”

Talking about my book – “If I’m talking, I’m thinking, and if I’m thinking then I’m obviously talking about some plot point I needed to figure out and not just being neurotic about whether the book is any good and why hasn’t anybody bought it in two days.”

Reading Comic Books from the Library – “Glen Weldon of NPR said these are really good and therefore they can only benefit me as a writer. Plus we have to support our local libraries if we want to keep reader communities alive. And I support mine my checking out a comic no one else wants and renewing it for five months.”

Looking at Facebook – “I need to keep in touch with any of my writer friends by knowing what is going on in their lives. And they know I’ve done it, even if I never write anything or even press the like button. I’m not just looking for something funny to distract me.”

Creating a writing mix – “Music can have a profound effect on the brain and mood and I have to figure out just the right selection of tracks for this chapter.”

Watching YouTube – “I totally mention Big Chuck and Lil John for maybe a third of a page in Chapter 4. I obviously need to watch several hours of their videos to get a real sense for what they are.”

Playing a new video game – “Hey, I’ll probably review this if I ever finish it. Research again.”

Playing around on the internet while watching ‘The Bachelor’ out of the corner of my eye – “Research a third time. Need to understand the frailties of human nature and the things people will do for love. And watching the GOG insomnia sale helps build my patience for watching copies of a game slowly get sold. Obviously a discipline thing.”

Charging and updating my eReaders – “I need just the right assortment of reading material for when I go out in the world. And I need to make sure every device has an up-to-date draft of anything I’ve ever worked on, so I don’t even have to think about which one I should grab.”

Freeing up space on my hard drive – “I obviously need at least 30GB free to write, even though the largest any book has ever been is a couple of megabytes. But I might need space for thousands of fractal images again, copied three times on different devices.”

Watching TV – “If I don’t keep up on today’s pop culture, how can I be in tune with the now when I write?”

What are some of the writer-ish things you do? Why can’t we all just relax?

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Brrrrr

Not much to say this morning other than stay warm out there. According to weather.com it’s 3 degrees (feels like -10) where I live and it’s even colder where I work (nothing says winter quite like 0 degrees Fahrenheit with -12 wind chills).

On the lighter side, I got stuck at the end of my driveway this morning. Turns out shoveling out the apron and even some into the street isn’t enough if you don’t have enough momentum. I managed to edge my way out by turning my wheels back and forth and praying, after which I proceeded to sit in my driveway and laugh for a good 30 seconds before trying to get going again.

Sure, I’d expected my doors to freeze open, and my heater to take forever to get up to temperature, but getting stuck in the middle of the road hanging out from my driveway? That’s a new one.

I’m gonna get a hot coffee cocoa and hope the day keeps going so well.

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Should I use chapter titles?

The very first novel I ever completed had a title for every chapter. Digging through my old Word Perfect 6 documents (which OpenOffice really didn’t like, my book was not 7000+ pages with a bunch of numbers and symbols), I thought I’d share them with you (bear in mind this book was started in 1999 and finished in 2003):

  • Chapter 1 – The Proposal (solid)
  • Chapter 2 – The Problem (got a theme going)
  • Chapter 3 – Winning is half the battle (changing it up, nice)
  • Chapter 4 – What’s a ship without a crew? (good question)
  • Chapter 5 – Testing Phase (back to two words, good choice)
  • Chapter 6 – Sim-Central (don’t know what this really means, but I think they were using a simulator?)
  • Chapter 7 – Picking up the pieces (A little on the nose, but apparently they broke the simulator)
  • Chapter 8 – Cellular Christmas (wait … what?)
  • Chapter 9 – Scarecrow’s Dilemma (if he only had a … wait for it …)
  • Chapter 10 – Sarah Walker (Oh, now we’re using the name of a person, and remember Chuck hadn’t aired yet)
  • Chapter 11 – Unfinished Business (simple but back to solid)
  • Chapter 12 – Pre-launch Jitters (don’t you just hate those?)
  • Chapter 13 – Ready To Go (Okay so we’re ready now, right?)
  • Chapter 14 – Unto the breach (That doesn’t sound good)
  • Chapter 15 – Rapid Ascent (Wait, we were supposed to launch two chapters ago!)
  • Chapter 16 – Anticipated Arrival (We were expected?)
  • Chapter 17 – Crimson Sun Revisited (When did we visit it before? Answer, in the prologue which was titled ‘Galateia’ and not ‘Crimson Sun’, though Crimson Sun was involved. Anyway, moving on.)
  • Chapter 18 – Camping out under the stars (sounds nice)
  • Chapter 19 – Licking their wounds (maybe not)
  • Chapter 20 – Running the Gauntlet (originally misspelled Guantlet)
  • Chapter 21 – Awakened Spirits (meh)
  • Chapter 22 – Recovered Data (back to the theme I see)
  • Chapter 23 – Ghosts of Past and Future Days (seriously?)
  • Chapter 24 – Harkenings of Atlantis (is Harkenings a word? WordPress doesn’t think so.)
  • Chapter 25 – The Emerald City (Wizard of Oz?)
  • Chapter 26 – Behind the Curtain (Definitely Wizard of Oz, late in the game decision to go with this theme)
  • Chapter 27 – At long last (indeed)
  • Chapter 28 – Casual Conversation (eh)
  • Chapter 29 – The Greater Mysteries (getting profound)
  • Chapter 30 – For the future (inspiring)
  • Epilogue – Return Journey (There and back again)

There was also an interlude called ‘En Route’.

Here’s the problem. Obviously some of these are just dippy, darlings that even I wouldn’t recognize today. Some are straightforward and simple, others are bland and shapeless. Some make up words, some appropriate Moody Blues phrases, and some are too unspeakably clever.

This is why I don’t write chapter titles, and why my tendency has been for one or two word book titles. I’ve read a few books where the title really adds something to the chapter, but I’ve yet to write one. I do think that if you’re going to do it, you should make some conscious thoughts as to a consistent theme. It’s probably okay to break it once and a while, but only if you have a reason to do so. And “Ghosts Of Past and Future Days” is not such a reason.

I like titling parts of a book, as these can almost fell like mini-novellas, and those deserve a title. But beyond that, probably not. Hell, I have a hard enough time thinking of a title for each blog post.

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The Ostentatious Writer

I think all of us who have the writing bug have put on at least one of the affectations of the writer. This can be something as small as always writing in a coffee shop (which admittedly I’ve done twice today), to something as gauche as a beret (though that’s more of a poet than a prose thing).

Here’s a list in no particular order of some of the writer-y things I’ve succumbed to from time to time (and some of the realities afterward):

– Walk out in the middle of the night wearing a trench coat looking to observe the world after dark. Spend evening in Buckeye Donuts only to later regret eating a gyro at 2am.

– Write while drinking whiskey.

ernest-hemingway-3

– Write when you’re really tired.

– Try to write all night, end up playing video games instead.

– Buy fancy notebook with a leather binding and a Celtic cross pressed into the leather. Fill maybe 10 pages of this, then keep it on your shelf saying you’ll finish it someday.

– Write naked. Stick to pleather office chair.

– Write out on the porch while it’s raining.

– Get yourself all moody by listening to sad music, then write a depressing scene.

– Write without a censor (punch the keys damnit)!

– Write after drinking yourself jittery with caffeine.

– Keep a writing ideas notebook by your bed. Eventually pile Kindle or comic book on top of it.

– Scribble notes on random scraps of paper. Be unable to decipher notes afterward.

– Grow a beard, or a mustache.

hemingwaybeard

– Talk to yourself.

– Talk to yourself in a public place.

– Talk to yourself and hold both sides of the conversation.

– Carry around a binder filled with a thick copy of your latest draft. Take out a pen and start marking it up. Frown occasionally, sip coffee purposefully.

– Write outside under a tree.

– Pull out three tablets and be checking your draft on all of them.

– Look up to make sure people wonder what you are doing, even though everyone is typing with laptops.

– Drink more whiskey, it’s been a long day.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with trying one, or even all of these. In fact the writing life wouldn’t be fun without our little pretensions, the things we do to actually feel like a writer. Part of this is about ego, not just the ego that makes us think anybody will want to read what we have to say, but also that we have the creative temperament, that we stand apart from the crowd.

That said, make sure at the end of the day you’re actually doing some writing, and not just playing at it.

*For the record, writing naked is awkward, not so much because of the naughty bits, but because I have a very hairy chest and it’s kind of distracting.

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Pull Your Pants Up, Or Else

Ocala, FL has enacted a law imposing a $500 fine or up to six months in jail for anyone wearing (or barely wearing) saggy pants on their streets*. As you might suspect, this is a law that disproportionately affects young people, and men of a certain racial persuasion. NPR’s Code Switch does a great survey of the potential racial motivations and consequences involved, and the history of clothing discrimination throughout American history.

Not being able to speak with great authority on this side of the issue, I’ve chosen instead to suggest new laws that might counterbalance any perceived racial motivation, and target items of clothing that are no less a threat to our fashion decency. Feel free to contribute any suggestions of your own.

Tiny Fedoras – Unless you’re this guy, or living in the 30s.

Justin-Timberlake-Fedora

Endless Scarves – You’re just hurting the economy. We need scarf turnover so we can keep the garment industry afloat. Scarves were meant to have a beginning and an end.

red-polyester-boston-solid-red-infinity-scarf-236169-95-1600-0

Hipster Glasses – Unless you need them to see, are this guy again, or are a girl (which admittedly is pretty cute). This picture actually contains two violations.

504b14bce7251-194x

I would have mentioned Crocs, but wearing them is punishment enough, as my co-worker who sliced his foot on a rock whilst wearing a pair of these can attest.

I’d love to hear your suggestions. And seriously, check out the NPR post. This stuff is kind of nuts.

*In case it wasn’t abundantly clear from the tone of the post, I find this law ridiculous and potentially harmful to whole groups of young people. I might yell at a guy to pull up his pants (and often they’re white in my area), but I’d never throw him in jail.

 

 

 

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Subtitles

One of Brian and my favorite pastimes when we go together to the bookstore, is to point out strange or unusual books or book titles, often speculating on the true contents of said book, or proposing alternate titles.

We came across one last weekend that really sums this up nicely:

How To Watch Birds: A Bird Watcher’s Guide

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Not the book we saw, but I like the 60s artwork.

Now at first you might be thinking, of course it’s a bird watcher’s guide, what else could it be? Well, Brian and and I had a few ideas.

How To Watch Birds: A Cat’s Guide

How To Watch Birds: Or What To Do When Your TV Is Broken

How To Watch Birds by Alfred Hitchcock

How To Watch Birds: A Guide To Being A 1940s Misogynist Stalker

How To Watch Birds: A Sparrow’s Guide To The Dating Life

How To Watch Birds: Oh, look! There’s a bird.

How To Watch Birds: They’re Always Watching You

How To Watch Birds: Or A Plane, Or Superman

How To Watch Birds: As They Spin On A Rotisserie

How To Watch Birds: A Coming Of Age Story

How To Watch Birds: 25 Years Of Sesame Street

Or here’s a more existential one I found looking for the book cover on-line:

WhyWatchBirds

Why Indeed?

Here are some other titles we came across:

Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers

Psychedelic Origami

Any thoughts as to some good subtitles? Leave them in the comments, or tell us about other weird books you’ve come across.

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