Archive for November, 2002

The Few, the Proud, the AI’s

Sunday, November 10th, 2002

Word count: 14,000 (inflated, see details below)

Now this NaNoWriter is truly disgusting. The pulps are dead, people! Please stop trying to revive them. According to another thread, Zette has written between six and nine novels this year, so a word count of 90,000+ isn’t unbelievable. No one has pointed out the obvious yet - Zette must be an Artificial Intelligence! Real people have the decency to keep it down to 25,000+, though a few are over 30,000.

I found Zette by accident, but you can also sort the author list by word count.. Quite a few people are done already. About 900 people are on-schedule out of 14,000, and 10% of the NaNoWriters are ahead of me. Considering that I’m a few days behind, that’s not many marathon runners in the lead. If I write 10,000 words today, and another 10,000 tomorrow, I could be a contenda. Of course, they’re all still writing, and who knows how many people either haven’t submitted their word count, or aren’t keeping it up-to-date? I’m not keeping mine up to date - I tend to stay away from the NaNoSite because of its time-sink tendencies (which this entry amply displays). It took me a while to realize that you could set your word count before the official counting begins on November 15th.

I have no idea how anyone is getting their word counts. My usual word counts are counts of actual words, where anything in the dictionary counts as a word. I have a little emacs-lisp script that does the counting. I have a LaTeX manuscript class that will count words the way editors do, which is by line-length in a fixed font, where a word is six characters (including spaces). I haven’t actually run it through LaTeX yet…hold on. Nice! According to LaTeX, I have 14,000 words, and 56 pages of double-spaced, 12pt Courier. And who’s to say I don’t?

Two Hearts, One Hair Color

Sunday, November 10th, 2002

Which Spuffy fanfiction cliche are you?

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Which Major Romantic Poet Would You Be (if You Were a Major Romantic Poet)?

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What’s YOUR Writing Style?

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What box do you get put in?

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Yes, I’m overdoing the quiz thing. It beats catching up 3,000 words in one night.

Filk Radio

Saturday, November 9th, 2002

Word count: 11760

Yes, I’m behind again. Five thousand words every three days can get to be a bit much. I should probably bump myself up to that 2,000-a-day plan, just to compensate for my irresistible urge to goof off. For my latest NaNoWriMo procrastination I’ve set my Mac up to play Filk Radio. So far it’s been more folky than filky in my style, but I like folk music so I’m still listening.

I tried several browsers before I struck one that worked. Chimera, my Mac browser of choice, isn’t fancy enough yet to let the user choose an application for a new streaming file type. Internet Explorer 5 for Mac is supposed to do it, but despite following the directions to the letter, twice, all it did was crash. Yet another reason never to use IE, as if I needed more…

So I dug out Mozilla, which, like Chimera, is not officially supported by Filk Radio. I don’t usually run it because it’s not as fast as Chimera, though it’s more full-featured. The setup was much quicker than the unsuccessful IE version - I just followed the Netscape instructions, more or less. It thought I was on a T1 line, but I corrected that little misapprehension quickly. Presto! Filk! Then, once it had passed the streaming MP3 baton to iTunes (the designated helper application), I closed Mozilla and reopened Chimera. I’m stubborn that way.

I don’t quite understand how a cover of “From a Distance” with a couple of pronouns changed qualifies as filk. The ratio of meta-filk - filk about filking - to filk proper - songs about sci-fi - is even higher than the ratio of ville-wank to ville-fic, were that possible. Ah, here comes a real filk, of “Hotel California” - any fannish gear/you will find it here…

The Eight-hour Time-out

Thursday, November 7th, 2002

Word count: 10192

The friend I’m visiting has a child. Let’s call him “Rob,” since that was almost his name and it’s the name of my novel’s villain. Rob is at that age where he can’t get enough attention. It’s always, “Look at this, Mommy,” when the Tommy the Tank Engine is driving off the side of Sodor Island, or “Look at this, Jemi,” when he’s dug out the battery-powered train and wants to get it into a wreck at the elevated crossroads. The mere mention of naptime or bedtime makes him teary-eyed.

That’s when Rob fires his best ammunition. The daily emergency that is bedtime brings out his inner nutritionist like nothing else can. I quickly identified “I want a glass of milk” as a subtle ploy for attention. Rob’s parents, however, are completely taken in by this sudden interest in cow juice from a child whose beverage of choice is, of course, soda. You know how parents are - they want to believe their child is following in their earthy-crunchy barefoot footsteps when really he’s following in their devious, staying out late teenage footsteps. Now it’s a glass of milk; soon it will be an hour past curfew.

Rob is a cute and, fortunately, cheery child. That’s his excuse for behavior that society does not tolerate from adults. Occasionally he can even occupy himself with Tommy the Tank Engine for some time without interrupting my novel or mommy’s AIM session. As he gets older, one hopes the duration for which he can amuse himself without pestering others will increase. Perhaps by the age of, say, twelve, he will even have something of interest to share with others.

For now, he’s not unlike a cat. Cats can tell when you’re not paying attention to them. The feline mind finds it insulting that you have your own amusements which do not include it; thus the feline body parks itself on your newspaper. A cat, however, does not bawl loudly when pushed off the newspaper. Rob can get quite whiney, as the “I want a cookie” incident proved. Mommy put her foot down for that one and gave him a time-out. I suspect that this time-out concept, so alien to my own childhood experience, works so well because, again, it deprives the child of the attention that makes the little “me me me” engine go.

Then again, it seems very unwise to me to impress upon a young mind that sitting still and being quiet with your own thoughts is a punishment, rather than an ideal. Maybe that’s why he hates bedtime so much - it’s the eight-hour time-out.

No Leaves to Peep

Tuesday, November 5th, 2002

Word count: 3400

Pardon the lack of blog substance - I’m on vacation in NH. The leaves are well past peak, and my word count is still back in last weekend, but I’m picking up steam.

BNF on the Rocks

Monday, November 4th, 2002

The ville implosion just goes on and on. There but for the grace of Kahless go I…

It’s all Seema’s fault that I’m following this and getting all riled up (see previous post) about crazy specialty fandoms whose claim to fame is a lot of tempests in a livejournal. Today’s Fandom Wank is still about BNF’s; in this round, The Brat Queen wonders whether she’s B or not.

My chosen quote is something verdani said in the Fandom Wank meta-comments about the aforementioned BNF thread:

If you were willing to put the kind of hard work that nobody anywhere appreciates into making discussion threads like that go on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on, you’d be a BNF too. But I guess you’re not *up* to it, eh, slacker? GET OUT THERE AND GO TO WORK!

That’s a rather pithy way of saying LiveJournal made ville fandom the wankfest it is today. Wank, by the way, isn’t as offensive in the U.S. as in other Anglophone countries. Here’s the definition, straight from The Jargon File 4.3.3:

wank /wangk/ n.,v.,adj.
[Columbia University: prob. by
mutation from Commonwealth slang v. `wank’, to masturbate] Used
much as hack is elsewhere, as a noun denoting a clever
technique or person or the result of such cleverness. May describe
(negatively) the act of hacking for hacking’s sake (”Quit wanking,
let’s go get supper!”) or (more positively) a wizard. Adj.
`wanky’ describes something particularly clever (a person,
program, or algorithm). Conversations can also get wanky when
there are too many wanks involved. This excess wankiness is
signalled by an overload of the `wankometer’ (compare
bogometer). When the wankometer overloads, the conversation’s
subject must be changed, or all non-wanks will leave. Compare
`neep-neeping’ (under neep-neep). Usage: U.S. only. In
Britain and the Commonwealth this word is extremely rude and
is best avoided unless one intends to give offense. Adjectival
`wanky’ is less offensive and simply means `stupid’ or `broken’
(this is mainstream in Great Britain).

A Mostly Rational Fandom

Monday, November 4th, 2002

Word count: 1734

Seema sends huggles to all of Trek fandom for, essentially, not being ville fandom. I second that huggle, and raise her a List of What’s Right About Trekdom:

Trek has one central archive, Trekiverse. It may be a couple of years behind, but anything that’s missing can be looked up in Google Groups. There are a few minor archives as well, such as the ones at JuPiter Station, Voyager’s Delights and the J/C Index, but they’re mainly link lists. No one gets any status in Trek for running an archive, certainly not BNF status. Insufficient Reluctance is appreciated and occasionally even thanked, but never worshipped.

Trek has a newsgroup. You can follow alt.startrek.creative and never, ever have to join a mailing list. This has worked well for Lori, and, aside from the lists I own, I don’t follow anything but ASC. I get all the good fic that way, because anyone who writes well eventually ends up at ASC. Since no one owns the newsgroup, no one gets any status out of it. Since the newsgroup is the main forum, no one in Trek is a BNF because she controls a pivotal list. None of the lists are pivotal - they can all be ignored without impairing your fan experience. (In fact, it would probably improve it.)

Trek has no blogging culture to speak of. A few of us still write Trek and blog, too, but there is no serious blogging about Trek fandom itself. For example, Seema and Lori blog mainly about their Real Lives, and my blog leans heavily towards science fiction and technology. Liz is all HP, Christine is AWOL. When we meta it’s cross-fandom, because the meta and blog culture we’re exposed to is cross-fandom. There’s no blog-based fan-wankery in Trek worth commenting about, because the BNF’s don’t blog (Seema excepted). So while you can make a name for yourself in certain newer fandoms by picking arguments with people who are lower on the BNF totem pole than you are and rubbing elbows with the Higher Fans (or vice versa), in Trek nobody can hear you blog.

Trek has geeks. It’s not something that fan writers think about often, but I believe the geek contingent lends a certain tone to, say, TrekBBS, and that attitude leaks down to the fanfic level. The fact that there is a Trek fandom beyond fanficcers makes the fandom less inbred than in shows where the fandom, is, essentially, the fanfic contingent. It gives us a bigger audience, more potential writers, and a place to farm out people who can’t write but still want to be fans. To be Myers-Briggs about Trek geeks, they tend to be N’s rather than S’s, since S’s don’t care for science fiction. They know what a light year is. They believe in IDIC. They can fake the technobabble. They may even know how to carry on a rational argument.

Seema said “mostly rational,” and it’s true that Trek has a few sockpuppets who are a great source of amusement on ASC. Trek has a few backwaters in which people can build up a sort of localized BNFdom, but when they venture out into the Real World of Trekdom, nobody knows their names. Whining about contests or other fans or the way the series ended just doesn’t cut it out here. Trek fandom is fair: everyone can write whatever pairing or fanfix they want, everyone can post to ASC, and everyone gets a fair shot in the ASC Awards. Nobody is in control, and nobody’s opinion counts for more than anyone else’s. There’s nothing to gripe about. We’re living in Gene Roddenberry’s perfect future out here.

Trek does have a few vile and irrational fans who think they can raise their status in fandom by attacking other people, but the truth is, they can’t. This isn’t high school, where cutting the other children down and puffing yourself up makes you popular. Nobody cares who’s in your clique or mine. Trek fans are adults.

In Trek, it’s all about the show and the fic. If you have nothing interesting to contribute, nobody will listen to you. If you can’t write like Penny Proctor, you’ll never be a BNF. Those are the breaks. Other fandoms should be more like Trek, and it’s just their bad luck that they haven’t the geeks, the newsgroup, and the adults it takes to Be Like Us.

Build, Rebuild

Sunday, November 3rd, 2002

Word count: 1729

I’m still behind on my novel, but I have an excuse. Yesterday as I was happily novelizing I also downloaded some updates for my Mac - because it asked so nicely and did it all by itself. Apparently the updates broke Emacs (Fatal error (4). Illegal instruction., if you’re curious). All I could find about the problem was this similar situation from somebody using the Hurd. He said recompiling solved the problem, so I rebuilt Emacs and that solved the problem.

My mac is past three years old now, and it doesn’t build Emacs for Mac OS X as fast as a shiny new TiBook would, so it took me a while to recompile, which is my excuse for my word count still being so low. I did notice this nice Mac Emacs FAQ while I was waiting, though.

Winter Contests

Sunday, November 3rd, 2002

Word count: don’t ask

I was going through my email backlog (only 600 to go) when I came across a contest announcement for Winter Magic, a non-J/C winter-theme contest. You can submit up to two stories, previously published or not. The entry deadline is November 30th, a problem for us NaNoWriters. Maybe there will be an extension… (wink wink nudge nudge)

Still open for business is Die J/C Die, which also allows previously published fic and up to three entries. The theme is torpedoing the J/C relationship permanently, though you don’t actually have to do much along those lines in the story itself. The entry deadline is December 15th.

For J/P fans, there’s also TomKat 2002, the new incarnation of the Twelve Moons of JuPiter awards. The deadline is December 15th; the rules are too confusing to say exactly how many entries you can have. It’s anonymous, at least.

Note that it would be simple to write a story or two that fit the first two themes and therefore enter two contests. It would be only slightly more difficult to take a non-J/C work-in-progress and make it fit one of the above. Doing all three would be quite a challenge, since it would involve convincing the first two contest runners to post your story anonymously for you. I have a J/P idea that fits the bill nicely, but I don’t think I’m up for that much run-around.

Squabbles Abroad

Sunday, November 3rd, 2002

Word count: too embarrassingly low to mention

Seema, monitor of blogs far and wide, pointed me to this tussle in ville. My favorite part of the whole BNF Oppression debate was part of a comment by ethrosdemon:

I really believe the vileness of the SV fandom springs from the fact it was born after the advent of LJ and people can spout off and get immediate, and voluminous, response to everything they say.
The het/slash thing is just a red herring.