Welp. I finally did it. I went and saw the Star Wars.
I think I waited the right amount of time. There were only 12 people in the theater including one annoying brat. These days that qualifies as the best moviegoing experience of all time. Even so, we still defied the odds and had one of the glowing-screen folk in our midst. Who says you can’t have it all?
If you haven’t seen the movie yet you might want to leave now. And hates you, I do.
It’s time to write a blog post. What to do? What to do?
Unless there’s a burning issue sitting happily on my frontal lobe, step one is usually checking my “blog notes” and finding some scrap of an idea. But wait! It’s not as easy as it sounds.
For one thing, my notes are scattered to the wind across a wide variety of locations. In the physical world this includes sticky notes littered around my desk like dying leaves on an autumn lawn. There’s also two pocket notebooks filled with pages and pages of tiny scrawl. Most of it is not decipherable, even to me, the hand that did the scrawling. And they’ve both been through the laundry so the ink is fuzzy and faint.
In the electronic world I’ve cleverly tried to consolidate my little notes to self. There’s the “Notes” app in my iPad. There’s another app called “Werdsmith” I also use from time to time. And, in an app called “Evernote” there’s probably my biggest library of random thoughts. This one has the advantage of being shared with my computer, too. Lastly there’s a plain text file in the home directory of my computer that I maintain with a command line text editor.
Here’s a sample of what can be found in my notes. I’ve culled these from the herd for your edification of the writer’s process.
Artichoke or Boss?
Tags: smell, rat
As is often the case, my notes are generally useless when I revisit them later. They may seem obvious at the time but usually I don’t breadcrumb enough to lead my brain back to the scene of the crime and grok the point, if there even was one.
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If you have ever watched commercial programming on television you may already be aware of this, but sometimes the shows repeat plot points. Surprising but true. It generally works something like the instructions on a shampoo bottle:
- Hire a core troupe of actors and put them in a setting, like a meat packing plant or a sewer treatment facility
- Go through the episodic table of plot elements
- After a certain period of time, usually 3-7 years, replace the actors and the setting, like the actuarial tables dept. at an insurance company
- Rinse and repeat
When watching a show with my wife, within the first 30 seconds I’ll shout out the plot variation as soon as it is recognized. Trust me, she really loves this. “Oh, god, no!! It’s plot #42. Wacky birthing episode ending with a touching isn’t-that-thing-cute moment. I’ll be on the computer. Let me know when it’s over.”
Here’s a few excerpts from the episodic table:
- A previously unknown family member of a main character comes to visit for a short time (father, mother, brother, sister, child, etc.)
- A main character is extremely distressed because an extended family member gets engaged, married, divorced, is involved in adultery or illicit love affair and/or dies
- Two main characters are involved in a marriage proposal, wedding, break-up, divorce, adoption, pregnancy and/or birthing
Even with those three limited examples from the table the possibilities are almost endless. I bet they could be used to generate over 500 specific plots. Mother and cousin come to visit. Father and sister die. Brother and niece get engaged. Mother pregnant, father having an affair. Father pregnant, mother having an affair. Yep, the permutations are practically unlimited.
When watching Northern Exposure the other day I noticed one of the rarer elements. “Looks like #138 coming our way,” I shouted. A mute traveling performer had been courting one of the main characters for several episodes. Sagely, I predicted, “I’ll bet the mute guy is moved to speak in a moment that will be especially poignant.” It was so touching, that I nailed it, I mean. My wife couldn’t have been more pleased.
The episodic table easily applies to movies, too. George Lucas, for example, often calls crap like this “notes” that are repeated across films, again and again and again and again and again. Did I mention again? To make this point I’ll now transport you from one galaxy far away to a make-believe land of medieval sex, violence and political intrigue. It won’t require that much suspension of disbelief.
Or, as I like to call it, “A Note Ripped From Star Wars By Game Of Thrones.” Introducing element #78: The Fake Greeting.
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This year, rather than post the same “hey look at me!” crapola found on every other WordPress blog (no offense intended) I decided to do something different. I asked my wife to share her favorite blog posts from 2012 and offer commentary. Her detailed remarks, verbatim quotations, and links to her hand-selected posts are found under the video below.
Deciding is hard. Now you don’t have to!
The social scientists of the Abyss have been hard at work putting together the following guide to help you make sense of this confusing Republic primary. Should you vote for Mitt? Newt? Who the hell knows?
Now you do. Simply follow this chart and everything will turn out fine.
Thinking is hard and overrated. So don’t try.