How to Cheat the Internet Pirates

2004_11_11soul.jpgTune in to 91X in San Diego at 11:00 a.m. and again at 3:00 p.m. PST today to hear U2’s How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb broadcast in its entirety. You can listen to an online stream, though you do need to complete a free registration.

The band has decided to let radio stations play the entire album before the November 23 release date in response to the album becoming available on illegal file sharing networks (according to @U2)

93 WXRT in Chicago will also be playing the entire album today for more than 12 hours, starting at 9:45 a.m. CST (PC only).

On Tuesday, November 16 both and will begin streaming the album.

UPDATE: read my first-listen reaction

NaNo: Past Halfway

Well, I crossed the halfway point today. And not just crossed it, but sailed right on by and kept going. I racked up 4,777 words today, almost 3,000 of them at Barnes & Noble this evening as part of my first writing expedition.

It took me a while to get acclimated and find out where I was in the story (I actually had to read the entire length of what I’d written this morning to figure out where I was going — and saw lots of mistakes — sorry about that). But once I got going, and plugged in my iPod, it was great. I probably looked like a dork typing away and occassionally nodding my head and mouthing the words, but that’s okay.

A day of output like this in week two is pretty incredible. I’m also pleased with the little narrative twist I worked in this morning, especially since I had no idea where I was going to go. But as usual, the story knows where it needs to go.

The Frogtown King CDC Playground Mural

A few weeks ago a vibrant, colorful mural was unveiled at the King Family Foundation Child Development Center in the Frogtown neighborhood of St. Paul. Bethel University professor Dale Johnson painted the mural, with the help of Molly Irwin and a few others.

You can view the outside of the playground fence any time by visiting the King CDC, which is located near the corner of I-94 and Western Ave. in the Salvation Army’s Ober Center. You should contact the King CDC’s director to see the inside of the fence.

The Minnesota Christian Chronicle ran my story about the unveiling and Johnson’s other local artwork last week, and Bethel issued a press release which includes several pictures.

My wife works at the King CDC, and when I stop by a few times a week to pick her up it’s a marked improvement to see the bright, joyful colors lighting up their once gray, weathered fence.

Music at your Fingertips

As a testament to the power of iTunes/iPods/music collections freed from the tyranny of albums, I just cued up a few songs for typing my last blog entry and surfing a few quick sites. I listened to the MxPx song stuck in my head (“Don’t Walk Away”), a few songs from the chick group Barlow Girl, an Evanescence song, a quieter, happier song by the local group Coach Said Not To, and now a happy, upbeat song by U2 to finish my night (the single version of “Walk On”), which just faded into a chorus of Hallelujah’s.

I’m my own personal DJ.

NaNoWriMo: Week 1

I’m completed the first week of novel writing, with absolutely amazing results. I’ve written more than 18,000 words and I’m more than a third of the way to my goal, and over 7,000 words ahead of schedule. I’ve had an enormous out-pouring of support and it feels great.

This has been a very full week, and not just because I’m writing a novel. On Monday night on a high after finishing a second round of writing, I called my old high school yo-yo friend Adam. Our wives are both busy on Monday nights, so we’ve made a habit of calling each other every few weeks and talking about whatever. After losing touch in college it’s been awesome to reconnect on Mondays.

On Friday I reconnected with another high school friend who I haven’t talked to since May. Brick spent the summer in Alaska, and we finally connected so I could hear all about it. Turns out a girl on the trip has become more than a friend (though she’s still “just a friend”), prompting the expression that pigs are flying. Brick’s currently planning to get more schooling and return to the Yukon mission field.

Friday night my wife and I had a date, heading out to take in The Incredibles.

Saturday morning after finishing my daily word count and getting a comment on this blog from Tim, I gave him a call. He lived in my house for four months, then got married and moved away to Montana. Recently I’ve been learning the importance of staying connected with friends, and the effort it takes, so it felt good to talk to Tim and catch up on the past few weeks, trade stories about youth group and laptops and U2 and Buffy.

Saturday afternoon I raked the leaves in our yard, which is more of a nuissance than anything since we only have one tree (and it still has most of its leaves). I would have dumped the three bags at the local compost site, but there was a line. Now the leaves are spread across the floor of my garage. After working to tweak the youth group Advent play (yet another thing I’ve been doing, writing a new John the Baptist script for our youth group to perform during Advent — practice begins next Sunday so I had to finish the script), I realized my wedding ring was missing. Thus prompting a half-hour search with flashlights. We gave up on the yard and set to going through all three bags of leaves. But no luck there. I still have to bag those leaves up again. I gave the front yard one more sweep, and found the ring after kicking some leaves aside.

No harm, no foul, though as I look at the ring on my finger now, the idea of not having it makes me feel naked and incomplete.

After the ring hunt, we headed to church at 11:00 p.m. to be chaperones for the youth group sleepover. We showed up late (on purpose) to miss the big game, which we don’t care much for. A late night and an early morning didn’t feel so great, but with circumstances and meetings, we ended up spending more than 12 hours at church and didn’t get back home until 3:00, where I promptly fell asleep watching the race.

I finished up my daily word count just before 9.

So it’s been a busy week, but it’s been so good. People keep asking about the novel, and I just gush as I tell them how it’s going. As shy and quiet as I am, I probably like to hear myself talk, and it’s fun to talk about something as exciting as this. I’m still expecting week two to be harder, and I almost hope it is so I don’t think this whole novel thing is a cakewalk.

I’ve been taking in a lot of music, setting up a new “writing music” playlist, which includes lots of Radiohead, Polyphonic Spree, some Moby, and the Braveheart soundtrack. This week I’ve also been tracking the updates on the new U2 album, eagerly awaiting its release in two more weeks.

I’ve learned so much about writing (if you’re reading along with my novel as I’m writing, the following will contain spoilers). Fiction hasn’t been something I’ve done a lot of, especially lately, so it’s a lot of fun to dive into something like this with minimal planning. I’ve heard people like Anne Lamott and Stephen King say that characters will take over your story and do things you don’t expect them to do, and I’ve found that it’s true. I didn’t think Allison would take over and introduce herself at the beginning of Chapter 4. I had envisioned a long, awkwardly belabored meeting with plenty of planning and forethought. But she went and scrapped that plan, and in the process firmly told me that she wasn’t the character I had in mind.

Later in chapter 4 things took a dark and somber turn I hadn’t expected either. I thought something like that might happen, but I had envisioned it as more of a climax, not something that would happen so soon.

I’m also realizing that I’m essentially writing a love story. I sat down knowing I’d write about Sedgewick and Allison, knowing their basic story, Sedgewick’s complicated past and their current situations. I figured they’d probably get together, but I never admitted to myself that it was basically a love story. That feels like what’s happening, though I’m not positive that’s the direction it will ultimately go.

It’s kind of fun to write such a character driven story. You would think plot is so minimal in a story like this, and is, in the sense that there’s no mystery or plot twist, or sneaky thing like that going on, but there is a plot in that things still happen to the characters and drastically alter their world.

Some nights I’ll sit in bed thinking about what I’ll write the next morning, and I envision a few possible scenarios. I try to think ahead and see what will happen to my characters, but I don’t know. It’s all up in the air. A few days ago I thought of the outcome I wrote tonight, but it was just one possibility, and I actually didn’t think it was the one I would go with. I wanted to go with Sedgewick walking away from the restaurant, forcing Allison to go home and walk through her pain alone. But she cried out to me. She wasn’t ready to do that, and Sedgewick wasn’t ready to force her through that (and I’m not sure if he would ever force someone through something like that). So we have tonight’s outcome, where Allison spends the night at Sedgewick’s place. It sounds like such a baudy thing, but in reality it’s so incredibly innocent. The characters don’t even kiss goodnight, or even hug, for goodness sake, something I contemplated doing. But they’re not ready for that (they only met that morning, which makes it all the more ridiculous that they’d be spending the night).

I’m sitting here thinking how cool this is. I’m practically writing a serial novel, since everyone can read what I’m writing as I write it. I didn’t think I’d like that so much, but I really do. Not that I expect anyone to read it (as one person said, “it’s like reading a novel!”), but people keep telling me they’ve been reading it. And even if they only read a few hundred words just to see if I’m really doing it, they’ve read something I wrote. There’s some satisfaction in that. It’s something tangible you can put your brain around. I like giving that to people as proof that I’m really doing this. It makes me feel like I’m not alone in this journey, knowing that a few other people are reading along. It humbles me. It excites me. It blows me away.

I guess that’s a rambling taste of where I’m at after one week. This hasn’t turned my life upside down. I’m not over-caffienated (though I do have more than I probably need) and neglecting half my responsibilties. But it is doing wonderous things, forcing me into the daily habit of creation. And I love it. I absolutely love it.

Extreme Weepfest: Home Edition

That’s what they should call it. Forget the makeover. It’s all about the tears. My wife and I have made a habit of watching ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition on Sunday nights. Tonight it trumped the season premiere of The Simpsons, despite my objections.

The show started last season as Trading Spaces on steroids, where they hyped the conflicts between designers and tried to showcase as much run away creativity as possible. But this year they’ve gotten the formula right and focused on heart-breaking stories of families that could really use a break. The editing focuses on how the home improvements make life easier on the family. Gone are the personal conflicts and creativity run amok. Now it’s all about these heart breaking stories. This week was a family of deaf parents with a blind and autistic son. Last week was a family of three in New York who had been cheated by a contractor who started work on their house and left it unfinished. A few weeks ago saw a family with a child who was allergic to the sun. A few weeks before that was an enormous family with something like nine kids where the mom had died.

The home improvements are cool, but what really sells the show are the thousands of people who come together and turn a family’s life around, not simply by raising their roof (literally) and packing their home to the rafters with material goods, but by giving them hope. It makes the commercial tie-ins (which in reality are the motivating factor behind the show) seem absolutely brilliant. Sears couldn’t get as much mileage from a Super Bowl commercial as they do from a total weepfest they made possible.

But what really throws the whole thing is the next show in ABC’s line-up: Desperate Housewives.


We went to see The Incredibles tonight. Best Pixar movie ever. And that’s saying a lot. I own four of the previous five Pixar flicks, and this one will defintely be on the list when it hits DVD.

Just an all-around great movie. I’m continually amazed at Pixar’s ability to tell the same old story with a fresh spin (talking toys, talking bugs, monsters that scare children, a father searching for his lost boy, etc.).

In addition to the great movie was the unexpected trailer for Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. Oh yeah. The trailer starts with voice over by Alec Guinness from the original Star Wars. Sweet. You get to see and hear Darth Vader (though the reveal scene made his head look enormous — can you say “Dark Helmet!”). That’s going to be one crazy movie. Dark and violent, and potentially crappy (judging by the first two), but it’s still Star Wars. We’ve been waiting along time for this one.

Also before the movie you can see a trailer for the next Pixar movie, Cars (or watch it online, like I did this afternoon). The concept looks incredibly lame, but I’ll be willing to see what Pixar can do with it. The NASCAR-like stuff looks potentially redeeming (but also potentially devastating — think Days of Thunder).

How to Pre-Order U2

If you’re planning to buy the new U2 album, now might be a good time. If you pre-order the album from Amazon you can watch an exclusive video of the band talking about making the album.

All you have to do is decide which version of How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb you want:

Standard CD – $10.99
Deluxe version (includes DVD with making of the album footage, interview, and acoustic performances) – $20.99
Collector’s edition (includes same DVD as deluxe version plus a full-color, hardcover book with original artwork, band notes, quotes and more) – $31.99
Import (includes extra track “Fast Cars”) – $50.49
(prices current as of posting)

And let’s get it over with right now. I nominate How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb for worst U2 cover ever. It clearly challenges October

Big Thanks

And I have to say, a big thanks goes out to all the people backing me up on this NaNoWriMo thing. It’s absolutely overwhelming. And I love it. You guys totally rock.

I was expecting people to mock me if I fail, but I wasn’t expecting so much positive, go get ’em support. I’ve gotten tons of e-mails, people asking me about it in person, somebody calling just to ask about the novel! I’m floored. It’s so incredibly encouraging.

Thank you.