Exhibit 1.5.27

Italo Calvino

Long novels written today are perhaps a contradiction: the dimension of time has been shattered, we cannot love or think except in fragments of time each of which goes off along its own trajectory and immediately disappears. We can rediscover the continuity of time only in the novels of that period when time no longer seemed stopped and did not yet seem to have exploded, a period that lasted no more than a hundred years.

from If on a winter’s night a traveler

Comment / Posted in Fiction, Italians, Time

Exhibit 1.1.17

Your Resolution…

…is to beat that high score in BurgerTime. You have a year. Go.

Comment / Posted in Games, Resolutions, Time

Exhibit 19.10

On Editing a Novel #15

DRAFTING A COHERENT SET OF RULES TO GOVERN THE TIME TRAVEL ASPECTS OF YOUR NOVEL. Everyone loves time travel. It’s fun and easy and never confusing. It allows us a glimpse inside of ourselves to see what we’d look like in period-appropriate pants. By traveling back in time, we are freed from history and presented with a myriad of possiblities for a new present. Step on one bug, and the consequences are limited only by our imaginations. Anything could happen, like a present where Germany won World War II or, say, one where Hitler is Pope or even a crazy one where the Nazis have taken over the Eastern seaboard and everyone in Baltimore speaks German.

(German Omar says, “fü’ sicher.”)

So literally anything, anything with Germans. Which is why it’s important to make sure that when drafting your novel you present your readers with a consistent set of rules to say what is and is not possible when your hero(ine) goes back in time.

(Note that your protagonist cannot and should not go forward in time. That’s just stupid. If you want to write about such silly things skip ahead to #21 IT’S BEEN DONE BEFORE BUT HAS IT BEEN DONE…ON MARS? or #61 MOVING YOUR NOVEL INTO THE FUTURE BY THE ADJECTIVAL ADDITION OF THE WORD SPACE, OR, ALTERNATIVELY, HOW DO WE SOLVE A PROBLEM LIKE SPACE HITLER? )

We’re not physicists, but, after much prayer, we’ve learned that this is how time travel works:

* Despite there being are an infinite number of realities, each branching off from a decision, anything done in the past can only change the present in one very obvious way. For example, if you go back in time to avenge your father’s murder, in the present everyone will have mustaches.

* A person disappears while time traveling and is gone from the present for as long as they’re in the past. This leads to two things: 1) Their spouse being like all what the hell and 2) Company softball team members considering their participation unreliable.

* There will always be one character who can explain everything . You’ll know which character this is because they’ll have a chalkboard, unkempt hair, and look like Jeremy Davies.

* When a person sees their past relatives, they’ll always look exactly like the person only with cowboy hats or whatever.

* A person can make money by time traveling. But not by telling people they’ve invented a time machine or taking advantage of the magic of compound interest. Nope, the only way to make money is sports gambling. For example, have a character in the present casually mention that they heard the Cardinals were 9/2 to win the division in 1982. Have your time travelling character say, really, that’s interesting while rubbing their chin. Then the character takes $200 out of the ATM, travels back, etc.

* Some things are inevitable and you cannot change them.

* But some things aren’t and you can change them.

* The most memorable song from the era will always be playing loudly whenever the character first gets out of the time machine. For example, in 1956, it will be “Hound Dog.” Always. And nearby children will be dancing funny and wearing their shorts too high. This may be disconcerting until you explain that the time machine navigates based on short height.

Those are the rules. Everything not specifically covered here is fair game. So if your novel is not going well, you can have a character travel back in time halfway through and invalidate everything that has come before. Do not be tempted to then delete that first half of the novel. It’s important to your character’s spiritual journey and to your page count.

Comment / Posted in Editing, Time, Travel

Exhibit 14.6

All right, has everyone internalized how I feel about this football season or do we need more time? No? We’re good? Excellent. This will save us a lot of catching up next time we see each other.

You: Hello, funny running into you here at this ill-defined place we’re at.
Me: Let me tell you my thoughts about the football season.
You: No need, I read your blog.
Me: This will save us a lot of catching up.
You: Yes.
Me: Let me tell you my thoughts about politics.
You: No need, I read liberal blogs, too. I assume you’ll pretty much say what they tell you to.
Me: [betrayed!]
You: This just isn’t working. I think we should find separate places to do whatever we’re doing right now.

Anyway, let’s see if anything bizarre/horrible happened in North Platte, Nebraska, recently:

A judge who gave a child molester probation because he was short lost re-election.

The trial of a man who beat up his girlfriend because she made him mac and cheese has been delayed.

An elementary school principal falsely reported her car stolen for some reason.

Nope. Same as ever.

Comment / Posted in North Platte, Sports, Time

Exhibit 13.24

Savings Times I Prefer to Daylight Savings Time

Time Savings Savings Time – Every January 25th we get a 25-hour day with the understanding that the extra hour be used only to come up with creative time savings solutions like carrying a backpack to avoid unnecessary trips home or using a water pic for more efficient flossing. Every other day of the year is then 10 seconds shorter in order to make up this hour but this is okay because we’re all saving so much time. (Note: not recognized in the slothful parts of Indiana).

Timex Savings Savings Time – Same concept only as part of our time savings plan we know we’re going to need waterproof digital watches with stopwatch functionality in order to take showers exactly 4 minutes and 38 seconds long. So we get an extra hour to buy Timex watches at great discount. (Note: recognized in all of Indiana).

Daylight Savings Time – We all get a day to write letters to the movie studios begging them to re-release the 1996 Sylvester Stallone vehicle Daylight into theaters because we’re all ready to give it another chance. The movie studios always release Demolition Man instead because everyone gets sucked into watching it even when they don’t really want to. When Daylight savings time ends, we all go back to writing letters begging for a re-release of Cobra. You know Daylight Savings Time has ended or begun by using the mnemonic phrase, “Daylight covers the dirt path on which you walk, but you should still be careful not to step on any Cobras hiding in the grassy meadow.”

Tuesday Spending Time – Once every three years every day is a Tuesday because we’ve been saving our Tuesdays wisely. Our Timexs don’t recognize this so we take them off and bury them in the lawn in case they grow into clock trees. They never have, but only because we don’t water them. We forget because we made a note to do it every Wednesday, but the next Wednesday is 364 Tuesdays away. We make plans to have lunch on Tuesday but since we don’t know which Tuesday, I keep showing up at the restaurant and waiting. On Tuesday I have the bisque. On Tuesday I read a book. On Tuesday I write a letter to movie studios about re-releasing Cobra. On Tuesday I meet a person who was also waiting on someone and I suggested the bisque. On Tuesday I get sick of bisque. On Tuesday I stop showing up but you start showing up. On Tuesday you wait. On Tuesday you get sick of bisque.

Comment / Posted in Days, Second, Time

Exhibit 8.27

The second part of my NFL Draft Preview at The Realness Hurts is right here. This time I take a look at the offensive prospects in a scant 2,700 words. Enjoy.

Comment / Posted in Second, Sports, Time

Exhibit 4.22

Post-Gre Lit Reading List.

So, I’d more or less been reading for the Literature Subject Exam for about a year. I knew it wouldn’t really help me on the test–of all the classic literature I read only one question about the Iliad and one about Wuthering Heights came up–but I wanted to fill in some holes in my education anyway. I learned I like Dickens. Not so much Melville (at some point I’m going to have to explore why this is before I start crying the next time someone says Moby Dick changed their life. I used to feel this way when my parents said they loved cantaloupe). Also, I discovered the The Good Soldier which squared the GRE and I.

I’m now going back to contemporary fiction. I figure I’ll start with some of the recent big hits and then work my way into some more obscure things. If anyone has any thoughts on these or suggestions for other books, please let me know:

Haruki Murakami, After Dark (and the stories I haven’t read in Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman)
Marisha Pessl, Special Topics in Calamity Physics
Michael Chabon, Yiddish Policeman’s Union
Steven Hall, The Raw Shark Texts
David Mitchell, Black Swan Green
Gary Shteyngart, Absurdistan

Of course, before that I have to finish The Tin Drum which I’ve been reading on and off for approximately as long as it took to write it. And yesterday I bought Ben Marcus’s Age of Wire and String, this in addition to quite a few other books I purchased during my hiatus. I can barely keep myself from smirking at all the Henry James on my bookshelf.

3 Comments / Posted in Reading, Shteyngarts, Time