Saturday, August 4, 2012

“Those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind.” 

Sunday, September 25, 2011

0 50 Things Everyone should know


  1. The word "queue" is the only word in the English language that is still pronounced the same way when the last four letters are removed.
  2. Beetles taste like apples, wasps like pine nuts, and worms like fried bacon.
  3. Of all the words in the English language, the word 'set' has the most definitions!
  4. What is called a "French kiss" in the English speaking world is known as an "English kiss" in France.
  5. "Almost" is the longest word in the English language with all the letters in alphabetical order.
  6. "Rhythm" is the longest English word without a vowel.
  7. In 1386, a pig in France was executed by public hanging for the murder of a child
  8. A cockroach can live several weeks with its head cut off!Human thigh bones are stronger than concrete.
  9. You can't kill yourself by holding your breath
  10. There is a city called Rome on every continent.
  11. It's against the law to have a pet dog in Iceland!
  12. Your heart beats over 100,000 times a day!
  13. Horatio Nelson, one of England's most illustrious admirals was throughout his life, never able to find a cure for his sea-sickness.
  14. The skeleton of Jeremy Bentham is present at all important meetings of the University of London
  15. Right handed people live, on average, nine years longer than left-handed people
  16. Your ribs move about 5 million times a year, everytime you breathe!
  17. The elephant is the only mammal that can't jump!
  18. One quarter of the bones in your body, are in your feet!
  19. Like fingerprints, everyone's tongue print is different!
  20. The first known transfusion of blood was performed as early as 1667, when Jean-Baptiste, transfused two pints of blood from a sheep to a young man
  21. Fingernails grow nearly 4 times faster than toenails!
  22. Most dust particles in your house are made from dead skin!
  23. The present population of 5 billion plus people of the world is predicted to become 15 billion by 2080.
  24. Women blink nearly twice as much as men.
  25. Adolf Hitler was a vegetarian, and had only ONE testicle.
  26. Honey is the only food that does not spoil. Honey found in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs has been tasted by archaeologists and found edible.
  27. Months that begin on a Sunday will always have a "Friday the 13th."
  28. Coca-Cola would be green if colouring weren’t added to it.
  29. On average a hedgehog's heart beats 300 times a minute.
  30. More people are killed each year from bees than from snakes.
  31. The average lead pencil will draw a line 35 miles long or write approximately 50,000 English words.
  32. More people are allergic to cow's milk than any other food.
  33. Camels have three eyelids to protect themselves from blowing sand.
  34. The placement of a donkey's eyes in its' heads enables it to see all four feet at all times!
  35. The six official languages of the United Nations are: English, French, Arabic, Chinese, Russian and Spanish.
  36. Earth is the only planet not named after a god.
  37. It's against the law to burp, or sneeze in a church in Nebraska, USA.
  38. You're born with 300 bones, but by the time you become an adult, you only have 206.
  39. Some worms will eat themselves if they can't find any food!
  40. Dolphins sleep with one eye open!
  41. It is impossible to sneeze with your eyes open
  42. The worlds oldest piece of chewing gum is 9000 years old!
  43. The longest recorded flight of a chicken is 13 seconds
  44. Queen Elizabeth I regarded herself as a paragon of cleanliness. She declared that she bathed once every three months, whether she needed it or not
  45. Slugs have 4 noses.
  46. Owls are the only birds who can see the colour blue.
  47. A man named Charles Osborne had the hiccups for 69 years!
  48. A giraffe can clean its ears with its 21-inch tongue!
  49. The average person laughs 10 times a day!
  50. An ostrich's eye is bigger than its brain

Monday, November 1, 2010

0 Rules for writing killer short stories

Short fiction is the "garage band" of science fiction, claims Tor Books editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden, so it's time to step on that fuzzbox and thrash as hard as you can without knocking over your mom's weed-trimmer. Actually, I think Nielsen Hayden was referring to the fact that you can try more crazy experiments in short SF than in novels, because of the shorter time commitment of both writer and reader. But how can you become a super-master of the challenging form of short fiction? Here are a few suggestions.
I wouldn't claim to be an expert on short fiction writing, but I have written over a hundred of the little fuckers, a large proportion of which have been science fiction-y. Here are a bunch of do's and don'ts, that I discovered the hardest way possible.
World-building should be quick and merciless. In a novel, you can spend ten pages explaining how the 29th Galactic Congress established a Peacekeeping Force to regulate the use of interstitial jumpgates, and this Peacekeeping Force evolved over the course of a century to include A.I.s in its command structure, etc. etc. In a short story, you really need to hang your scenery as fast as possible. My friend and mentor d.g.k. goldberg always cited the Heinlein line: "The door dilated," which tells you a lot about the surroundings in three words. Little oblique references to stuff your characters take for granted can go a long way.
Make us believe there's a world beyond your characters' surroundings. Even though you can't spend tons of time on world-building, you have to include enough little touches to make us believe there's stuff we're not seeing. It's like the difference between the fake house-fronts in a cowboy movie and actual houses. We should glimpse little bits of your universe, that don't necessarily relate to your characters' obsessions.
Fuck your characters up. A little. Just like with worldbuilding, you can't necessarily devote pages to your characters' childhoods and what kind of underwear they wear under their boiler suits. Unless your story is really a character study with a bit of a science fiction plot. I used to have a worksheet that included spaces to fill in in info about each character's favorite music, hatiest color, etc. etc. Never filled those out. If I'd tried to force myself to come up with a favorite color for every character, I would have given up writing. But do try to spend a bit of time giving all of your characters some baggage, just enough to make them interesting. Most science fiction readers are interested in characters who solve problems and think positively, but that doesn't mean they can't have some damage.
Dive right in — but don't sign-post your plot in big letters. When I started writing stories, my early efforts meandered around for pages before something happened to one of the characters to make him/her freak out. And then the rest of the story would be the character(s) dealing with that problem. And then, as I got more practiced, I found the foolproof map to awesome storytelling: introduce whatever it was that was freaking out my characters in the very first sentence of the story! And then the story could be about them dealing with that problem, until they solved it in the very end. It was so perfect, how could it fail? It took me another year or two to realize that plunging the characters into the story's main conflict right away was just as boring, in its own way, as the ten pages of wandering in circles. The best short stories I've read are ones which start in the thick of things, but still keep you guessing and let you get to know the characters before you fully comprehend the trouble they're in.
Experiment with form. Short fiction isn't one form, it's a whole bunch of forms jammed together according to their length. Short stories include your standard 3,000 word mini-odyssey thru the psyche. But they also include flash fiction (sometimes defined as under 100 words, sometimes under 500 or even under 1,000.) And those wacky list things that McSweeney's runs sometimes. In fact, for a while there, postmodern short fiction was all about the list, or the footnotes, or the krazy monologue, or the story told in office memos. Try writing super-short stories of only 10 words, or mutant essay-stories written by a fictional person. Also, if you always write third person, try first person. Or if you're always doing first person, try third.
Think beyond genre. Often the best genre fiction is the stuff that cross-germinates. Pretend you're actually writing your story for the New Yorker, and try to channel George Saunders or even Alice Munro. See how far you can go towards writing a pure lit piece while still including some elements of speculation. Or try writing your story as a romance. Or a mystery. Imagine it as a Sundancey indy movie.
Don't confuse your gimmick with your plot. You may have a great idea for a piece of future technology, or some amazing mutation that turns a whole bunch of people into musicvores who survive by eating your memories of rock concerts. Maybe you have the most original basic premise evar — but that's not your plot. Your plot is how your new widget changes the people in your story, and how it affects their lives. Or what decisions your people make as a result of this new technological breakthrough.
Don't fall into the character-based/plot-based dichotomy. People, especially in writing groups and workshops, will try to categorize stories as based on either plot or character. This is a poisonous idea that will turn you into a cannibalistic freak wearing a belt made out of human spinal cords. There's no such thing as a character-based story or a plot-based story, because every story has both. Even the most incident-free Ploughshares romp or the most twisty thumpy space opera tale. If you start thinking that stories can be categorized into either pile, you'll end up writing either eventless character studies or plot-hammer symphonies starring one-dimensional nothings.

0 The Face of Failure

I'll be the first to admit that I've failed many times so far in my life. I've failed to maintained relationships I cared about, unnecessarily failed classes in school, failed to think about my actions effecting those around me, failed at starting certain businesses for a plethora of reasons, failed to achieve many of my childhood goals, failed to be the good person my family knew I could be for a long time, failed to ever get on the good side of “luck”, and so far I've failed to find what people describe as true love. Fortunately, as sad and depressing as that all sounds, even with all these failures piled up from the past all it takes is one characteristic to outweigh and surpass them all.... Perseverance.

   I think we'd all like to be able to go back and do things over from time to time but we also know thats just not possible (outside of dreams). We all have to live with the saddled failures, losses, and regrets from the past. Unfortunately, because we are all human there will most likely be more of these in the future as well. For many of us every day brings new challenges that can leave you scratching your head wondering how to put it all together. We learn lessons the hard way, get stabbed in the back, make mistakes, say things we don't mean, and fall in love so fast sometimes it hurts. All of these things can drain you and leave you weary of wading through the incessant stream of problems. The catch 22 is, we have to keep moving or we can easily get swept away in it all. That's where perseverance comes into play and separates who makes it and who doesn't.

   In the memoirs of many successful businesspeople one can find a common trend. Many of them didn't always get it right the first time around! Most of the highly successful self-made people in the world have struggled through many trials and tribulations in their ascension, similar to those that you and I face everyday. They key amongst all of these people is that they didn't give up when they were told that they were crazy, it couldn't be done, or that no one would care if it was. When they failed or faced a setback they scrambled to overcome it and try again. It's the spirit of those people that were discouraged and downtrodden by their peers that allowed them to keep on going and eventually build our society and the world as we know it today.

   The future is impossible to foretell but one thing is guaranteed, it hasn't happened yet. Things may be tough right now but that doesn't mean they are going to stay that way forever. It also doesn't mean that they will automatically get better on their own. Contrary to popular media darlings like “The Secret” and “What the *bleep* do we know?” you can't just wish really hard for good things and then expect them to happen. Seriously, without the inhospitality of rain we couldn't enjoy the tranquility and beauty of flowers right? Well, like many things in nature, it's the same principle in life. I have to remind myself on a daily basis that everything I struggle for and believe in comes at the price of the struggle itself.

   If we want good things in life we have to fight for them. We have to suffer through bad days to get to the ones that make us realize how much life is really worth. We have to make mistakes to find out what the right answers really were. Our trust must be broken to find out how much it really means to us before we give it out freely again. And sadly, sometimes we also have to lose someone we love to realize how precious the others in our life are.

   These are not easy lessons to learn and anyone who tries to sell you happiness based on the fact that they are is simply lying to your face. The easy road to the top is reserved for a select few and the rest of us must work diligently to get there. The most important part in succeeding is that we continue on and keep persevering despite how we feel about it right now. Many of these lessons won't be useful right away and you may not see the bright side but somewhere down the road have faith that you will indeed find it. I can look back throughout my life now and pinpoint exact times, places, experiences, and people that have taught me incredibly valuable lessons at a painful price. When I was in the moment of feeling that pain I was confused and scared and acted accordingly which often leads to failure. These confused actions and failures are my building blocks for what not to do today.

   As I grow older I seem to get a little more rational and a little less reactionary to failure and bad situations. I attempt to understand it for what it is, try to accept it, and look for ways to learn from it and move forward. That doesn't mean that problems don't add up and weigh heavily on me at times. Thats why I write articles like this as a personal outlet. To not only work it out internally and encourage myself, but to relay it to others with the hope that maybe it sheds a little clarity on their own situations or helps them get by with just enough hope. Maybe it's also a little selfish instant gratification of seeing a bright light on a dim day but when someone emails me or messages me and tells me that my words of encouragement helped them to get through their own dark period, it makes it all worth it for me. Not only that, but it motivates me to find the meaning and purpose in my current struggles which is a key part to surviving the onslaught of life with your sanity intact. Dealing with a bunch of meaningless setbacks and failures can be incredibly disheartening and drive you crazy by asking the infamous “Why me?!” question. I've found that in the end, it all means something. The answer to why me is; it's always you because you're the one experiencing it.

   Good, bad, or indifferent our struggles and hardships in life give us the character that makes us unique. Finding a reason to continue to fight these battles is imperative if your goal is to better yourself and make it through life stronger and wiser than those around you. Purpose and meaning in life can come in any shape or form. Love, relationships, children, animals, music, art, hobbies, learning, reading, writing, and (if you're careful) your career or company, can all hold meaning and purpose. Just remember, rarely are you truly alone in your struggle and it could always be worse. No matter how desperate times may seem, or how much you fail, you can always make it better with perseverance and by dedicating yourself to what you love and care about. The pain and heartache IS worth it in the long run, you just gotta hold on and ride out the storm! Don't be afraid of life, embrace every aspect of it! After all is said and done, we're only privileged to experience any given moment once...

Sunday, August 8, 2010

0 Ten Things You should already know by now

1. What’s important today won’t matter tomorrow

Yeah, so you got a problem. Sleep on it, sunshine. Put it off. Most problems can be safely ignored. You’ll be amazed how often they sort themselves out.
And the gravity of any given problem is inversely proportional to the hour of the day. At three in the morning,  you’ve got an insurmountable issue. After four whisky and cokes at nine in the evening, you haven’t even got an inkling of a problem.

2. Everybody else is furiously improvising, so you can too

Show me an expert and I’ll show you a charlatan. FAKE IT ‘TIL YOU MAKE IT, amigo.
21 year old lifestyle design guru? Hell yeah! Fat, unemployed life-coach? Why not? Homeopathy professional? Whatever, bring it on!
Choose your path, and then Act As If You’re Wearing A Cape.

3. Nobody thinks about you as much as you think about you

Really. They don’t. For example, I’m not thinking about you now. But I bet you are.

4. It’s OK to piss people off

But if you’re pissing everybody off, all the time, it’s time to stop being a dick.

5. Aspiration is for suckers

(arf)

6. Nobody tells all the truth, all the time

So lower your expectations of people. When put in a spot, people fib.
We men lie about our alcohol consumption all the time.
When we’re young and say we had six beers, we probably only had three. Nowadays, if we say we only had three beers, you can be sure it was closer to six.
It doesn’t mean we don’t love you

7. Life doesn’t get better – only your perception of life improves

There was a little man with a lame left leg. He lived on the outskirts of town in a tumble-down house. He had a hole in his roof, and water would come in day and night. His lame left leg meant he couldn’t go out to work, so he survived on the charity of others, who would give him scraps of food. Sometimes he would go for two days and nights with nothing to eat.  One day, the town council decided to fix his roof. The little man with the lame left leg became the happiest person you have ever seen. He was so grateful to be dry that he would smile and sing for the passersby all day long.
***
There was a healthy, beautiful woman who lived in a huge house with six servants and manicured lawns. But alas, she was permanently angry, because Jeannine, that bitch, had told her that her handbag wasso last season.

8. Your family comes first, but not to the detriment of everything else

You want to go out with the girls? Tell your husband to make his own dinner. And gents, you don’t need permission for that once-a-year trip to Vegas, you just need to communicate it properly.

9. You’re wrong as often as you’re right

So don’t dwell on either.

10. Men should never wear wigs

Monday, August 2, 2010

0 Readers by Authors

Stereotyping People by Their Favorite Author
(by the way – I respect every author on here, kind of)
J.D. Salinger
Kids who don’t fit in (duh).
Stephenie Meyer
People who type like this: OMG. Mah fAvvv <3 <3.
J.K. Rowling
Smart geeks.
Jack Kerouac
Umphrey’s McGee fans.
Jeffrey Eugenides
Girls who didn’t get enough drama when they were younger.
Lauren Weisberger
Girls who can’t read. Or think.
Jonathan Safran Foer
30somethings who were cool when they were 20something.
Jodi Picoult
Your mom when she’s at her time of the month.
Chuck Klosterman
Boys who don’t read.
Chuck Palahniuk
Boys who can’t read.
Christopher Hitchens
People I would love to hang out with.
Leo Tolstoy
Guys I want to date.
Fyodor Dostoevsky
Guys I want to sleep with. (The difference between the two Russian authors lies in the fact that I think the Underground Man is sexier than Pierre Buzukhov).
Christopher Buckley (or William F. Buckley)
People who love excess verbiage.
Ayn Rand
Workaholics seeking validation.
David Foster Wallace
Confirmed 90’s literati.
Jane Austen (or Bronte Sisters)
Girls who made out with other girls in college when they were going through a “phase”.
Haruki Murakami
People who like good music.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
People who can start a fire.
Nathaniel Hawthorne
People who used to sleep so heavy that they would pee their pants.
Charles Dickens
Ninth graders who think they’re going to be authors someday but end up in marketing.
William Shakespeare
People who like bondage.
Mark Twain
Liars.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
People who drink scotch.
Joseph Conrad
People who drink old fashioneds.
Dominick Dunne
People who get their class from Vanity Fair.
Anne Rice
People who don’t use conditioner in their hair.
Edgar Allan Poe
Men who live in their mother’s basements. Or goth seventh graders.
Michael Crichton
Doctors who went to third-tier medical schools.
John Grisham
Doctors who went to medical schools in the Dominican Republic.
Dan Brown
People who used to get lost in supermarkets when they were kids.
Dave Eggers
Guys who are in the third coolest frat of a private college.
Emily Giffin
Women who give their boyfriend marriage ultimatums.
Richard Russo
People whose favorite day in elementary school was “Grandparent’s Day”.
Anais Nin
Librarians.
Margaret Atwood
Women whose favorite color is hunter green.
William Faulkner
People who are good at crosswords.
Jackie Collins
Your drunk stepmother.
Nicholas Sparks
Women who are usually constipated.
James Patterson
Men who score a 153 on their LSAT exam.
Sylvia Plath
Girls who keep journals (too easy).
George Orwell
Conspiracy theorists (too easy).
Aldous Huxley
People who are bigger conspiracy theorists than Orwell fans.
Harper Lee
People who have read only one book in their life and it was To Kill A Mockingbird (and it was their assigned reading in the ninth grade).
Nick Hornby
Guys who wear skinny jeans and the girls that love them.
Ernest Hemingway
Men who own cottages.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
People who get adjustable-rate mortgages.
Vladimir Nabokov
Men who use words like ‘dubious’ and ‘tenacity’.
Friedrich Nietzsche
Sommeliers.
Bret Easton Ellis
Foo Fighters’ fans.
Hunter S Thompson
That kid in your philosophy class with the stupid tattoo.
Cormac McCarthy
Men who don’t eat cream cheese.
Thomas Aquinas
Premature ejaculators.
Pearl S. Buck
Women whose favorite president was Harry S. Truman.
Toni Morrison
Female high-school English professors who only have an undergraduate degree.
Thomas Pynchon
People who used to be fans of J.D. Salinger.
Elizabeth Gilbert
Women who liked the movie “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood” but didn’t read the book.
Rebecca Wells
Women on the East coast who wish they were from the South.
Tama Janowitz
Cougars who went to an urban college in the 80s.
Alice Sebold
People who liked Gilmore Girls – even in the first season.
Michael Swanwick
Men who argue Neil Gaiman is overrated.
Terry Goodkind
People who have never been dungeons master but still play D&D.
Stephen King
11th graders who peed their pants while watching the movie It.
H.P. Lovecraft
People who can quote the Comic Book Guy from Simpsons.
Brothers Grimm
Only children with Oedipal complexes.
Lewis Carroll
People who move to Thailand after high school for the drug scene.
C.S. Lewis
Youth group leaders who picked their nose in the 4th grade.
Elmore Leonard
People who know how to perform a “Michigan left”.
Shel Silverstein
Girls who can’t spell “leheim”.
Douglas Adams
People who bought the first generation Amazon Kindle.
Tucker Max
Guys who haven’t convinced their girlfriends to try anal yet.
Alexis de Tocqueville
Political theory and constitutional democracy majors.
Tom Clancy
People who skipped school by hiding out in the gym.
Herman Hesse
People who own one straw chair in their house.
Phillippa Gregory
Women who have repressed their desire to go to Renaissance Festivals
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Men who can’t lie but will instead be silent if they know you don’t want to hear the truth.
Susan Wiggs
Older women who are surprisingly loud during sex.
Nicole Krauss
Girls who intern at Nylon but end up moving back to the Midwest for their real job.
Mitch Albom
People who didn’t go to college but do well on crossword puzzles.
Stieg Larsson
Girls who are too frightened to go skydiving.
Sue Grafton
Women who have an @aol.com email address.
Seth Grahame-Smith
People who own a smart phone which requires a stylus to use it.
David Baldacci
No one. Even the police say Clancy before they’ll say Baldacci.
Michael Pollan
The girl who just turned vegan to cover up her eating disorder.
Andrew Ross Sorkin
People who refer to themselves as “playing devil’s advocate”.
O. Henry
Men who have names like Earl or Cliff and were really close with their paternal grandfather.
Virginia Woolf
Female high-school French teachers who have their master’s degree.
Michael Chabon
People who  hate Ayelet Waldman.
Ray Bradbury
People who own golf head covers.
Joseph Heller
People who love buying drinks for their friends. See also, people who cringe when they see their bar tab.
David Mitchell
Women who live in any area of Brooklyn other than Park Slope, but may end up there someday and if that day comes, they will switch to Barbara Kingsolver fans.
Max Barry
People who don’t mind the color orange.
Dean Koontz
People who would never dream of owning any type of “toy” breed dog.
John Irving
People whose parents are divorced.
Richard Dawkins
People who have their significant other grab them under the table in order to shut them up whenever someone else at a dinner says something absolutely ridiculous and wrong.
Salman Rushdie
People who google image search Padma Lakshmi late at night.
Albert Camus
People who went to art school after “trying it out” at a public university.
Kurt Vonnegut
People who played Creep by Radiohead while having sex or smoking pot. Longer explanation here.
James Joyce
People who do not like John Cusack movies.
Charlaine Harris
Elementary school teacher’s aids.
Jorge Luis Borges
People who took care of their dying grandparents.
Terry Pratchett
People who really like monkeys.
Oscar Wilde
People who can’t resist anything. See also, people who claim they’re going to change but never do.
Truman Capote
People who would never dream of owning anything that could be classified as a “knick-knack”.
Tom Wolfe
People who don’t mind others smoking around them.
Neil Gaiman
People who can name at least two Miyazaki films.