Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Sam Keeps Growing Up; Fire Emblem Hates You

Sam's growth arc has him changing a lot more than Lucy's. Whereas Lucy becomes a stronger person and harder to bully and push around, Sam is becoming a genuinely good man who doesn't just have the potential for good things. We knew he had that potential, but now he's going out and seeking things to make him a better person. Like ironing his own clothes; I hate ironing clothes.

Table of contents is here, fiction is below the fold. This weekend expect limited to no posting, but everything should be back to normal by next week.

I've been playing Fire Emblem Awakening; I recommend it. Playing it on casual doesn't really give you the real taste of what the game is. Playing it on less than hard disguises the game's rank ambivalence towards your happiness. You want your happy ending? Earn the damn happy ending. The joy of making digital people talk to each other and save the world is your reward; your punishment is the suffering you, the player, must go through. It's like the entire game is Purgatory, with the promise that your reward is waiting if you'll just suffer a little bit more.

Well, that's actually nothing like Purgatory. But I'm not a religious scholar, so bad religious analogies will have to do.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I Think Only Susan Has a Surname

Here is the payoff for the Frontiers references earlier. Now, there's some artistic license here because I don't know what their distribution method is, and I don't really go to bars. I imagine, though, bars are a lot like coffee places (which I also rarely go to) that have reading material scattered about for people to read. If this is not how bars operate, then I apologize for my lack of knowledge in the ways of bars.

Now, before you get to the fiction, Wolf Trap released their 2013 schedule. Well, they may have released it earlier, but they sent it to me in an email today. So, here are some things that people who read this blog might like, because they are things I like:
  1. Video Games, Live
  2. Bugs Bunny at the Symphony
  3. Lord of the Rings
  4. Huey Lewis and the News
  5. The Mikado (Sullivan's choice for something I should go to)
  6. Gordon Lightfoot
Also, one thing I won't go to, but that people seem to love: Sing-a-long Sound of Music. Fiction is below, table of contents is here.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Lucy Grows a Spine

Oddly enough, most people, I think, would feel somewhat satisfied if Lucy finished her growth arc here. She's speaking her mind and taking charge. This is the moment of highest success for her. From here on in, wacky hijinks ensue to make her revenge less fulfilling than simply telling off Jon directly. She's not particularly witty here, and her sarcasm isn't thick. It's just simple, direct assertiveness bordering on aggression. It's what she's wanted since she talked about the revenge novels she read after naming her imaginary boyfriend Rusty (see how what seemed like a throw-away trait wraps back neatly into her growth arc?)

In addition, at the end of March, I'll be in Boston for PAX. If you are going to be there for that, let me know, and we can meet up. Unless you are an axe murderer. Or, actually, any kind of murderer. Just, no murder, OK?

Fiction below the fold, table of contents here.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Lucy Learns to Love Revenge | Random People, Random Places

The space lecture yesterday was fun. I learned a lot about Chandra, got to see some interesting photos and talked with two Russian women who were visiting the Air and Space museum. They were very proud of Russia's early space program, then I mentioned that I thought America's was pretty good too. What with putting a man on the moon and bringing him back again. It didn't go well from there.

Today, Lucy gets a section that isn't particularly funny, but moves her side of the plot forward. Fiction below, table of contents here.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Sam Gets Thrown for a Loop

Sam acts, thinks and talks like a new man. He uses the ladies' full names, he doesn't toss any cheap lines at them. The best part is that, for him, he thinks "Rusty" is about to be the biggest dick ever. Though, that does still leave Kenny without a date. A problem that will resolve itself conveniently in the near future. I feel like this would be a scene that plays better if you imagine it being acted out, with Sam bouncing between the front of the restaurant and the kitchen, peppering Lucy and Fiona with alternating questions trying to figure out what's going on. It's a very physical scene, and the restriction to text only limits the effect.

Fiction below the fold, table of contents here. If you're in the D.C. area and going to this lecture, I'll be there.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Random People, Random Places | More Lucy and Sam

This is a very brisk bit because a lot is happening, and I feel like not having the initial rambling hurts it. I think, ideally, if the piece weren't already getting overly long, I'd break these out into three separate sections. But, it may actually work better this way. The loss of the narration shows that Sam is focused on something for probably the first time in the entire plot. He moves from step to step in rapid succession, racking up a series of small wins.

Sam's plan is pretty simple. He thinks Mortimer the Mechanic is Rusty, Lucy's boyfriend. Mortimer is really dating Fiona, but Sam thinks that he is two-timing them. Hence, his elegant plan to get the two of them in the same place at the same time. Good intentions, the road to hell is paved with, etc. Fiction below, table of contents is here. Below is a quick random people, random places.

Today at the grocery store, a helpful young woman stopped me as I was in the line. "Excuse me sir, you forgot to pick up milk."

This was a reasonable comment for her to make; I had cereal, but no milk. Instead, I was planning to mix the cereal with yogurt. You know, like granola? I thanked her and explained this. She wrinkled her nose and said: "That's weird."

It very well may be weird, but I don't care. It's worth trying once.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Sam Grows Up

Sam has a revelation, but, much like the Tin Man, Scarecrow and Cowardly Lion, he's always been like this. He just never realized it before. Lucy and Sam are starting to take charge, which is a good thing. But, since this is comedy, it clearly won't work out as planned. Either or, it is Thursday morning now, so we've just got a few more days before all the plans explode.

Table of contents; fiction below.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

That Doesn't Mean What She Thinks It Means

The Unspoken Plan Guarantee. For all of Lucy's complaining about Christine for the past few days, you can tell that they're friends. They're playful and fun with each other. The beauty of this is that Lucy's plan to screw with Jon involves inviting Christine along, unaware to both of them that Peter is going to be there. Which is how things will start to go crazy. There's still a few more complications to write through, but we should get there very quickly.

Fiction below the fold, the table of contents is here. I am also, by the way, amazed how little I have to add today.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Lucy Gets a Kick in the Pants (It's a Metaphor)

We spent a lot of time yesterday trying to demonstrate that Jon was a bit of a jerk. Today, though, as we build out the last of the major misunderstandings for the plot, he gets to seal his jerkdom. The important thing is that by him entering into openly being such a loathsome character, he's acting as the spark for Lucy to grow up a little. Sure, it is in a little way here, but it is a start. Now that Peter and Jon have been set up as our main antagonists, and both our protagonists have received the revelation they need to better their lives (Sam's realization that his relentless woman-chasing is kind of creepy and his whole life is kind of empty, and Lucy realizing she needs to stand up for herself), we have set the stage for them to actually grow as people, not just characters. And, like all sitcom characters, the way to do this is through a zany plan, which will obviously backfire.

I particularly like that Lucy's film buff nature comes back into focus here. We've seen snippets of it here and there (most particularly in her talk with Christina about Amelie), but here she uses it as a defense mechanism (the line "We named the dog Rusty" is a direct take from when Jones Sr. tells Jones Jr. "We named the dog Indiana.") Though, she really does love that dog (as opposed to using dog as a general slur against Jon.)

Fiction below the fold, table of contents viewable here.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Lucy and Jon Go for a Drive

The important thing about comeuppances is that you need the audience to want your comic villains/antagonists to get it. No: The audience needs to think they deserve it. To do that, you need the people to be as loathsome as they can get. Peter is a pretty despicable guy; we don't like him. It's easy not to like him, even though we haven't met his wife (and never will.) The simple fact that he is cheating on her and lying to Christine makes him an unsympathetic character. When Sam and Lucy ruin this charity dinner, we want him to suffer.

Getting Jon to be disliked is a bit harder. He actually has an excuse for his bitterness that some people can identify with. The only way that we can turn the audience against him (a jilted husband who stays with his wife to protect her reputation and for a bunch of strangers' kids feelings is someone who, in almost any other context is someone that we want to like.) So, part of the writing challenge is having Jon push the reader's buttons so that we are fine with Lucy and Sam screwing him over. The fact that he is coming across as a jerk (and a bit of a creep) to Lucy, one of our protagonists and someone the reader probably sympathizes with, goes a long way to making him unlikeable.

Fiction below the fold, and the table of contents is here. Also: The most painful part of giving blood? Ripping off the bandage eight hours later.

Friday, February 15, 2013

"I drunk hate you."

When Lucy is overwhelmed by her problems, she watches animated movies. Sam? Sam takes the direct approach. He gets drunk with his best friend. One of the ways comedic misunderstandings keep building is that people talk in awkward ways no one does in real life. Read over Kenny's talk with Susan. Don't you think it's odd? He's got Sam's best interests at heart, but, well, that doesn't always work out. Next up, we'll take a trip through Lucy's evening. Which, as you can expect, will be terrible.

Fiction below the fold; check here for past issues.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

I've Never Seen The Big Lebowski

But I have read the Shakespeare inspired version. This will make more sense once you've read this section. It is a pure coincidence that on Valentine's Day, I write the first scene where Peter and Christine are together again and other characters realize that they're having an affair. The scene also helps redeem Christine. Judging by Peter's reactions to Sam and Kenny's comments, its clear that Christine is unaware of that particular complication.

In my writing, I refer to a scene like this as a bridge scene. We needed to bridge from the scene at the Olive Garden to the next important scene. However, a simple jump would be too sudden (It starts late at night with Sam and Kenny drunk in the bowling lane after hours.) So, to help that transition, we plug in a character building scene. Sometimes there's interesting plot, but these scenes are often more character focused. A video game example is Wild Arms 4. If I were to edit for length, I'd take a good hard look at these scenes; this one would stay, because the character details we get about Christine, Peter and Kenny are actually plot critical. Others would probably go.

I also really like how this scene flows because we get some character information for our leads' best friends. Kenny and Christine are finally starting to take shape in my head, and I really feel like Kenny comes into his own here. Fiction below the fold, check here for previous issues.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Sam Takes a Number

I think this is the most screen time Sam and Lucy have had together. The plot is on Wednesday, and the charity dinner is on Saturday, so we've got a few days to keep building complications until Saturday. And, today, we get to set Sam up again. I'm worried this is going to end up dragging out too long and that too much is happening here. I'm starting to feel like Sam sounds a bit too much like me in his pre-rambles, but then he gets a distinct voice shift after the first paragraph or so. I may need to tighten up my writing to give Sam a "Not Matt" voice.

I like those intro rambles, though. It helps establish our narrators and helps me recapture their voice before I dive in to the hard part. I also like seeing snippets of Lucy in Sam's story. When she speaks, she sounds like how Lucy should sound. This, I think, is a major accomplishment for me. She has a distinct voice, and when she tells Sam about how he's a lying liar from Liarsville, that sounds like what she'd say in her head. Which shows how comfortable she is with him. Anyway, fiction below the fold. You can find previous entries here. True story: I initially did not plan for the two of them to be so friendly and almost flirty, but it works, so it happened. Yes: Mentions of them being flirty earns this the ROMANCE tag, the most misused tag on this blog.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Aww, They Don't Hate Each Other

I like this section much better than the previous ones, which you can read here. I think it is because we're back into a more comfortable place to write about; we're not joking about people misinterpreting a car accident for physical violence or anything like that. We're just at good, clean old misunderstandings and giving Lucy a character moment. We've gotten to see Sam a lot from inside Lucy's head, but I don't feel like we got to see much of the reverse until now. Plus, its kind of a sweet moment between them before he goes out to have his interview. I haven't been this productive in what seems like forever; I think getting past the parts of the story I didn't think I could execute well has really freed me up to do the parts I'm going to enjoy writing.

Monday, February 11, 2013

It Is Not an Outdoorsman Magazine

There's something fun about the slow ramp up to when Sam and Lucy totally ruin this charity dinner. It took a lot of going back and forth here because, I'm worried this misunderstanding is in bad taste. Confusing two heterosexual males for gay and a man cheating on his wife as a stoner is relatively safe and funny. I don't think I like this one; because it makes Sam seem too passive. It had to be written from Lucy's perspective because, if it wasn't, I was worried the reader wouldn't realize the reason that Sam overhearing the last part is supposed to be funny, even though I don't think it is.

It's hard not to imagine Sam just storming in and dispensing some misunderstood justice; if I ever do an edit, I'll probably seriously reconsider rewriting this section to have him overhear something else instead, but I've really missed too many days on this story to rehaul everything. We could probably completely cut that last conversation about hitting her car without losing anything; Sam already still dislikes him because he thinks he's sleeping with Lucy, so did we really need to push it to 11? I don't know; I don't care. We can't take more time for Sullivan to blog.

Are you a regular reader? Do you agree with me that this is Not A Funny Misunderstanding?

Anyway, here are past issues, and the rest of the fiction is below the fold. I think my Google and Facebook ads are going to go crazy since I've now done Google searches for both women's fashion and California LGBT magazines. But, the point is: Sam doesn't realize who he is giving an interview for. That makes it funny. Even though in real life, any journalist/paper would tell you who they are, and you would Google them, this isn't real life. This is Sitcom.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Seen on the Metro

Since I'm stuck in a spot where I don't know what to write next, I have posted this without comment.

Seen on the Metro.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Random People, Random Places: Cookies

This was probably the highlight of my day.

After walking back to my apartment from the Metro, I was waiting on the elevator when a kid and his mom came in. It was about 11:30 at night or so, and the kid was cranky. The mom was trying to calm him down. I had red velvet cookies. Red velvet cookies helped solve the problem. I've never seen a kid perk up as much as when I asked his mom if he could have a cookie and she said yes. Cookies: Saving the day, every day.

Lesson to take away from this: Children are like dogs. You should always ask their owners before interacting with them, but if you do, it will make your day.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Return of Sam and Lucy

Not much commentary. Trying to stay busy and all that jazz. Check here for past issues, and the rest of the fiction below the fold. Unrelated, Sullivan sends this to me to read.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

No More Mail On Saturday... -ish

First, you need to read here. Then, you need to go below the fold. It is called that as a reminder to the old print tradition of newspapers, which were folded. So, you'd have teasers above the fold, then the meat of the story below the fold (or deeper in the paper. Whatever.) So, there. Now you can say you are smarter than a stuffed cat.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Dear Sullivan, 3

"I'm Sullivan!"
Matt is working on finding things out about a part of mints. Probably the tasty parts, I guess. That's science, that is. I think he likes science because it lets him poke at things he shouldn't poke at. That and sometimes you get to blow things up. I hope he doesn't blow up any of the mints; I like to lick them when he's not looking. Then I laugh when he eats them, and he doesn't know why. Eat stuffed cat germs you stupid human.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Dear Sullivan, 2

I received such a tremendous following yesterday, that I have decided to once again chip in and help Matt out today. Yesterday he was busy watching a movie with too many dogs and not enough cats, and today he's apparently watching a movie about super heroic place settings. I just don't get human entertainment; I suppose it is the simple things in life that keeps them entertained. Some day, I will explain the intricacies of the feather on a string to him, but for now, to the mailbag.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Dear Sullivan, 1

Like many of you yesterday, I saw that the blog would not be happening this weekend. This could not stand. Without the the hits, we don't get the money. Without the money , I don't get the fish. I need the fish. To solve this problem, I have stepped in — on my day off, mind you — to ensure the hits keep rolling. Matt would put a post to an actual hit here, so to keep the mill-you the same, I have done so. Matt uses big words; I do not. I think that makes me smarter: Do more with less. Your questions are "below the fold," which I think means you click MORE. Go ahead and click MORE.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Blogless Weekend

Alas, there is no blog this weekend. Take it up with the temp.

"I'm Sullivan!"