Thursday, February 28, 2013

End of February Writing Update

2013 Goals:

Goal 1 - Write a Grandpa Anarchy Story a Week:

January 2013

Jan 19:  DarkFireDragonNinja  (begun several years ago)
Jan 24:  OmniGen Again  (begun Jan 23)
Jan 25:  Veteran of the Bone Wars  (begun Dec 30)
Jan 29:  Nemesis  (begun Dec 10)

February 2013

Jan 31:  Turncoats (begun Dec 8)
Feb 3:  There Ain't No Justice  (begun Nov 29)
Feb 5:  City of the Monkey God  (begun Nov 26)
Feb 7:  Future Me  (begun Jan 31)
Feb 10:  Roll of the Die  (begin Feb 10)
Feb 11:  Trouble Focusing  (begun, Nov 21, in theory)
Feb 19:  Dead Again  (begun Feb 18)

Goal 2 - Write a Tai-Pan Story a Month:

Feb 16  The Pilgrimage of Ian St. Ritz  (January Tai-Pan story, 10,000 words)
Feb 23:  Space Miner Blues
Feb 23:  Banker Blues

Goals 3 & 4

We're not going to talk about these right now.  ^_^  No progress on drawing or working on my other stories.  No progress on the Grandpa Anarchy book right now either.


I actually wrote two short stories last Saturday.  These are Tai-Pan universe Musachin/Bottles shaggy dog type stories, very short and very easy to put together.  I'm not sure how good they are, but I still count them towards my goal of writing a Tai-Pan story a month for 2013.  I have officially completed 3 Tai-Pan stories so far this year.

What I haven't done is any art, or any significant writing on my anime fanfic Girl's School.  I want to start on that soon but it's a big project.  It's so much easier to toss off a short story than it is to wrestle with the longest continuous story I've ever worked on (going on multiple novels in size now).  Also, I feel like I should start work on one of my other Tai-Pan stories, I have a bunch of them that have not been worked on in years or even in a decade.

In the meantime I keep coming up with more Grandpa Anarchy story ideas, so I keep creating new files.  I'm not working on them at the moment, but I've added to my story list:

Feb 19  Anarchy Is Forever
Feb 24  Hero's Sacrifice
Feb 25  The Crystal Weenie
Feb 25  Alien Space Bats

I've been looking at my Vashti stories for the Tai-Pan.  I'd really like to finish a few of those, and I have a bunch in various stages of completion.  I tend to divide them up into a few categories:  Pre-Iktome stories, Iktome stories, and Quantum Lady stories.

Vashti Pre-Iktome Stories:
Man of Golden Words
Ghost Dance / Fly Me Courageous
Hair of the Throug That Bit Me

Iktome Stories:
The Villainy You Teach Me

Quantum Lady Stories:
(Bury Your Teeth, a potential Lo-Pan Chau story)
Dark Chest of Wonders
Chance Encounter
Blanking the Lady - Vashti's Story
(also:  Blanking the Lady - Musachin, Blanking the Lady - Willamina)
Come Together

Out of all of these, Chance Encounter is probably the closest to being done and the easiest to finish, and the various "Blanking the Lady" stories (which form an interconnected trilogy, or are supposed to) are the ones that I think about finishing the most often, but the ones that absolutely need to be finished are Bitch, Hair of the Throug that Bit Me, and Dark Chest of Wonders, as those explain how Vashti got off Hautakivi, how she joined the Iktome, and how she left the Iktome and wound up on the Quantum Lady.  As such, I really ought to finish those before working on any other Quantum Lady stories about Vashti.

I looked at Hair of the Throug that Bit Me last night.  It's surprisingly complete, but still needs work to become a coherent story.  This is the one story I've worked on more than any other Tai-Pan story, and the plot has changed and morphed several times.  It's a long and complex story, but it's nearly fully written.  I think it could be finished very quickly with a few nights work.

But I really need to finish Bitch first, or at the same time.  They're bookend stories, one explaining how Vashti left Hautakivi with the crew of the Winter's Dance, the other explaining how she left that ship and wound up on the Iktome.  A lot of the same characters are involved in both stories, but Bitch has mostly existed as a collection of ideas and half-scenes for many years.  It will take longer to pull together -- or perhaps not, since it's a much more simple and linear story.

Dark Chest of Wonders is the most problematic, since it's both complex and mostly ideas and partial scenes at this point.  It will take a lot of work to write that one.

Anyway, I think I'd like to work on Bitch and Hair of the Through that Bit Me this next week.  I'd feel really good to finish one of my old and more important Vashti stories.

Mothers is an old idea that I'd never written down -- a story about Vashti's mother visiting the Quantum Lady, and Willamina's mother visiting the Quantum Lady.  That may be one story or two different stories.  I have some ideas but not a solid plot.  Meanwhile Come Together is a brand new story idea, basically Vashti's old band Bedlam Circuit showing up and announcing that they're getting back together, and trying to convince Vashti to go along with them.  None of them are as good of musicians as Vashti's current mates in Bitted Throug, and most of them hated Vashti back when they worked together.  I don't have a full plot for that one either, but there are lots of possibilities for fun for both story ideas.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Cute Faustian Fantasy

So I watched Puella Magi Madoka Magica over the last three days, 4 episodes an evening, 12 episodes total, finishing it up last night.  I've been thinking about it ever since.  I read some reviews of it today and I wanted to write some of my own thoughts on the subject.  This is, after all, my blog to talk about writing, so breaking down an anime series probably counts.  I'll try not to spoil too much, but it's hard to write about the series without discussing some of the major elements so YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

Two of my favorite encapsulations of the anime series so far are "The cutest Faustian fantasy" you're likely to see, and, my favorite, a review on TVTropes titled, "Aw... what a cute slice of OH GOD HOLD ME".  It's no spoiler to say that the first two episodes play like a very typical magical girl story, cute girls discovering their potential to fight evil beings as uber-cute, colorful magical girls with a cute animal sidekick providing advice.  There are hints that not all is right with the world, of course -- why does Homura want to kill Kyuubey?  Why is she so adamantly opposed to anyone else becoming a magical girl?  But on the whole, you're probably expecting typical magical girl conflicts, not for things to go careening down an elevator shaft into the pits of hell.

That changes with episode three, but it takes time before the real horror sets in.  The show does not reveal its secrets all at once.  I've seen many reviewers arguing about whether this series merits being called a "deconstruction" of the magical girl genre, in a manner similar to how Neon Genesis Evangelion warped and deconstructed giant robots.  I think the ones that say it is both a deconstruction and a reconstruction have it right, but make no mistake:  this is, to start with, a deconstruction of the genre.  That's not because magical girls die... they die in Sailor Moon as well, of course.  But in this series they don't come back.  In this series, it is inevitable that every magical girl will live a very short life, and die in pain or descend into grief and madness.  That's a complete inversion of the wish-fulfillment that is typical of the magical girl genre -- in fact, the very premise of this series is that wishes come with a cost, and that cost is very, very high.

And although I can see that the end could be argued as resolution by wish fulfillment and as a reconstruction of the genre... the resolution does not come without a cost.  To me that saves it from ultimately being just a magical girl wish fulfillment ending.  But given that the ending is more uplifting than dark and depressing, and given the ultimate outcome, I can buy that the series also works as a reconstruction of magical girls.

The strength of the series is undeniably the plot.  You won't see most of it coming, and even the parts you do see will seem inevitable and logical.  Of course, you have to accept some premises of the magical girl genre to begin with, but once the story starts rolling it's very tightly plotted.  The entire story is told in just 12 episodes, and comes to a clear and definite end.  Once you get to the end, you'll see that events in even the first episode, particularly Homura's actions, flow inevitably from plot points revealed much later.

Some reviewers call this a horror story, or a magical girl horror.  That's true -- it's not merely a dark tale, but incredibly bleak and violent.  But with a mostly happy ending, or, at least, a bittersweet ending.

Several reviewers note that characterization is the weak point of the series, and I'd agree with that as well.  Homura and Kyouko are well-rounded characters -- some have problems with Kyokko's sudden change from antagonist to wanting to save Sayaka, that didn't bother me so much, but either way she has a well-developed back story.  Mami and Sakaya and Madoka are mostly two-dimensional stereotypes of the genre, and while much of that was probably intentional (Homura starts out as a stereotype as well), and while Mami is only around for three episodes... there's not a lot of excuse for the weak character development of Sayaka and especially Madoka, the main character of the series.  She's the least likable character in the series, she spends most of the series crying and being afraid, and doesn't really change until her big decision in the final episode (or maybe it was the tail end of episode 11, I forget).  You could argue that she's the normal, everyday girl that the target audience is meant to identify with -- and if this were a typical magical girl show, that might be true.  But this is not a series for children.  And while we do learn things about Sayaka and Madoka's backgrounds, it really doesn't amount to making them fully-rounded characters.

Even so, the series can ride on the strength of the plot.  Deeper characterization might have turned this into a series for the ages, but even lacking that, I think it's a truly stellar series.

The series was re-released as two movies that, for the most part, repackaged the TV series with some added material.  Apparently one of those additions is more development of Sayaka, which can only be a good thing.

I should add that I love the artistic look of the series as well.  The city is modern but slightly futuristic, which gives it a "not of this world" or fantasy feel, and the witch battle sequences are cluttered and weird and  dark and contrast nicely with the clean, bright "real" world.  You feel the twisted darkness of the witch realms just through how they are presented.  It all works brilliantly.

 The review at probably puts it best:

...a solid, refreshing production that challenges genre preconceptions with a wonderfully stylized tragedy that comes only at the cost of slightly less real characters.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Anarchy Is Forever

I failed to write anything last night.  But today I pieced together a full Grandpa Anarchy story, Dead Again.  It was mostly a fully-formed idea that was handed to me by C.D., but it makes a nice short story, I think,

My plan was maybe to write two stories today or even three, but I spent part of the evening watching the last four episodes of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, which, as Sky said, is the single greatest magical girl show ever.  Or at least one of the most interesting, the most tightly-plotted, and one of the darkest as well.  It's quite good, it's only twelve episodes, and it tells a complete story.  I don't think they could add a second season to it; the story's finished after the last episode.  (Although they apparently are doing a movie this year, and there are two manga adaptations of new or different stories that apparently follow different magical girls -- I'll have to look those up and check them out.)

Anyway, Madoka Magica shares some things in common with Venus Versus Virus, in that it's a very dark magical girl vs. demonic-type creatures setup in which people die.  I'm still very interested in trying to work something like that int a Grandpa Anarchy side story involving the Black Moon Maidens (and maybe work in my ideas for a secret society as well -- if I'm talking about a longer story, which I think I am).

In the meantime, I came up with yet another new story idea:  Anarchy Is Forever, in which Grandpa Anarchy is at the Hollywood premier of the latest film based no his own life.  I don't really have big plans beyond that basic premise, but I just figure a well-known hero who's been fighting villains for 70+ years has probably had several films based on his life.  Although probably he sold or gave away the rights to his own life story years ago.

I did look at Girl's School yesterday too.  I need to work on that, but it's a very big undertaking....

Monday, February 18, 2013

Just Not Feeling It

I suck.  I don't feel like ever writing again.  I need to start writing now.

Friday night I went to work on a Tai-Pan story that I've been working on for something like five years (at least -- and that's one of the new stories).  I actually managed to finish it and I felt pretty good.

Saturday I felt different.  I didn't want to read the story, the new stuff sucked.  But I sat down and rewrote or tweaked the last several scenes, and then I felt much better about it.  I read it at writer's night, and I got back a lot of constructive feedback but nothing that required major rewriting (I did split one scene and move the second half to a new location and essentially rewrote that scene though).  But, essentially, I felt really good about the results and how people reacted to the story.

Sunday I sat down in the morning and did my rewrites first thing.  That's, like, a record for me or something.  But I felt even better about the story -- I still do.

And I was going to maybe work on a Grandpa Anarchy story or something, but instead I watched some anime and wasted most of the day, and got nothing written.

So today I just don't feel like writing.  It's one of those things, if I'm not writing then it's hard to start writing again.  I was going to work on a Grandpa Anarchy story, but I don't feel inspired.  I opened up one of my huge Girl's School files, and it all sucks, I don't want to work on it.

When I feel like this, the only solution is to start writing anyway.  So I'm going to try and get something written tonight -- anything, it doesn't matter.  You can't wait for inspiration to strike, you need to make it happen.  Creativity is mostly hard work.  I have a book, The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp, that makes this case very clearly.  Whatever your creative pursuit, you don't sit around waiting for inspiration to come to you, you need to work at your craft every single day.

So I guess I'll see what I can accomplish before I go to bed tonight.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Unfinished Grandpa Anarchy Stories

For what it's worth, here's my current list of Grandpa Anarchy stories in progress.  Note that I pretty much start a new story file any time I have an idea (or when a friend hands me an idea) so several of these are more along the lines of one or two lines or a joke, and less partially written stories.  But a few of them are partially written or fully plotted.

I haven't written a Grandpa Anarchy story in a week, but having finished a Tai-Pan story, I might try and write a new one this week before working on something different again.

Pre-2012  Dark Lord of Midnight
Pre-2012  Lights Out
Pre-2012  Lucky
Pre-2012  Performance Review
Pre-2012  Stepping Out
Dec 11  Troubador
Dec 12  Love, Grandma
Jan 15  Grandpa Anarchy and the Fiendishly Foul Fetid Frog
Jan 26  Toolbar Wizard
Jan 30  Thunderbird Blues
Jan 31  Hackernaut
Feb 03  Miles to Go Before I Sleep
Feb 09  Most Dangerous
Feb 09  Gutbucket Magic
Feb 12  Brothers and Sisters
Feb 13  Stronger
Feb 16  Dead Again
Feb 16  The Thing in the Suitcase
Feb 16  Mister Buffalo
Feb 17  Pandora's Closet

Writer's Night Feb 2013

I was late for Writer's Night, which I always am.  This time I wanted to rework the last several scenes of The Pilgrimage of Ian St. Ritz, which I did.  I was happier with it after I'd done so.

As it turned out there were only four people there when I arrived -- Gene and Mike, and David, and Matt.  C.D. arrived later.  Gene had a chapter from his fantasy novel to read, but I went first.  He was expecting me to read a Grandpa Anarchy story, which proves that he hadn't read my blog post from yesterday because he didn't know I had a Tai-Pan story to read.  Tai-Pan stories always go first, so I read Pilgrimage.

It's about 10,000 words which takes a good hour and a half to read I suppose.  There were a lot of comments on it afterwards too, so in the end we skipped reading Gene's story this time around.  Luckily for me, though, all of the comments and problems are things that can be resolved with a new sentence or rewritten sentence or two, so there are no major structural problems with the story (that anyone else noticed, anyway).  I could do the rewrite tomorrow and hand it off to Gene for editing, which I'm going to attempt to do.

And then we talked for a while and I wrote down at least two new ideas for Grandpa Anarchy short stories (well, three even, one I didn't write down but it's easy to remember), all suggested by my friends (primarily C.D.).  So, new story files:

Feb 16  The Thing in the Suitcase
Feb 16  Mister Buffalo  (may need a better title)
Feb 16  Dead Again  (which is really a VERY short, but fully complete story idea just handed to me)

And an idea for a Tai-Pan comic into the bargain!  Maybe I can get my "draw something for January 2013" challenge out of the way!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Writing Goals Update

I'm not sure if I'm entirely happy with the result, but after several years The Pilgrimage of Ian St. Ritz is done.  At least, it has an ending, although maybe not a great one.

So!  My updated goals for 2013:

January 2013

Jan 19:  DarkFireDragonNinja  (begun several years ago)
Jan 24:  OmniGen Again  (begun Jan 23)
Jan 25:  Veteran of the Bone Wars  (begun Dec 30)
Jan 29:  Nemesis  (begun Dec 10)

Feb 16  The Pilgrimage of Ian St. Ritz  (January Tai-Pan story, 10,000 words)

February 2013

Jan 31:  Turncoats (begun Dec 8)
Feb 3:  There Ain't No Justice  (begun Nov 29)
Feb 5:  City of the Monkey God  (begun Nov 26)
Feb 7:  Future Me  (begun Jan 31)
Feb 10:  Roll of the Die  (begin Feb 10)
Feb 11:  Trouble Focusing  (begun, Nov 21, in theory)

I still need to write/finish a Tai-Pan story for February but if I can come up with a short-short then I have plenty of time to accomplish that!

Haven't drawn anything yet... that's another of my goals.  And I haven't worked on any other stories yet either.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Shifting Gears, Finally

In the past couple of years I've made several attempts to finish The Pilgrimage of Ian St. Ritz.  At writer's night I had read up to where I had written the story, where it ends with a fight between Ian and a desert nomad on a cliff.  The general consensus was that the fight could be longer and more dramatic, and that's one of the things I had tried to fix.

As it turns out, I tried to fix it more than once.  Recently I'd rewritten the scene, and then written the next scene, only to discover a different version of the same file on another computer.  This other version turned out to have a more complete rewrite of the scene and a more complete next scene, and a bit written for the scene that follows.

The nomad charged, knife held high.  Ian ducked.  The nomad flew past.  Ian shoved the butt of the rifle into the nomad's back.
The nomad stumbled.  He snagged the rifle strap as he passed, dragging Ian to the cliff edge.  He swung the knife.  Ian twised the rifle, striking the nomad's hand.  The knife went flying.  It skittered across the stone and over the edge.
Ian rammed rifle into jaw.  The nomad fell back.  He leaned out over the edge, clinging tightly to the rifle strap.
The nomad twisted about, pulling himself back from the edge and pulling Ian towards it.  For several moments they struggled, the rifle between them, dancing along the edge of a sheer cliff.  The nomad managed to swing around so that Ian was hanging out over empty space.  The only thing preventing him from falling was his grip on the rifle, which the nomad also held tightly.
The nomad hissed.  The stench of unwashed fur and spicy, cloying pacca root was overpowering.  He slammed his head into Ian's chest once, then again.  The breath was driven from Ian's lungs.  He saw stars.  He felt is grip on the rifle loosen.
A clod of dirt struck the nomad in the head.  Ian blinked.  Gao was standing a few feet away, trembling violently.  "You leave my friend alone!" the capybara yelled.  "He's a pilgrim!  He has an appointment to keep!"
The nomad turned his head.  Ian took one hand from the rifle and jabbed at the nomad's eye.  The nomad screamed in rage and pain.  Ian swung himself about, and suddenly he was back on solid footing, with the nomad swinging out over the abyss, saved from falling only by his own grip on the rifle.
Ian let go.
With a scream, he disappeared from view.
Ian staggered back from the cliff edge.  He stared for a long moment out towards the desert floor, then reached for a cigarette, only to be reminded again that he had none.  "I don't get paid enough for this," he muttered, turning to Gao and the elevator.

True to how my mind works, both versions were very similar.  I tend to have these stories figured out in my head, or major points/portions of the story figured out in my head, and I've noticed this before, that if I write a scene from what's in my head, and then later forget I've written it and write it down again, it's very similar to what I wrote the first time.

Yesterday I printed out both versions and worked on integrating them.  I liked the original version better, it was more complete and included a couple of nice touches that I forgot about when I wrote it a second time (Gao helps Ian in the first version, but not in the second.  The first was better.  But the bit after "he disappeared from view" comes from the second version.)  My plan was to go home and work on the next scene, but instead I had to come back to work later in the evening to help out because someone called in sick, so I didn't get any real writing done yesterday aside from combining the two different versions of the story into a single version.

Saturday is writer's night, but I think I still have time to finish this story.  We'll see.  But the good news, at least, is that I'm working on Tai-Pan story finally.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


As I noted earlier, I'm supposed to be working on a Tai-Pan story.  So far this week, I've failed.

Last night I got a great idea for a Grandpa Anarchy story.  Maybe.  I decided that there needed to be a secret society for former sidekicks.  Not all of them, of course, just the ones who had proven themselves -- who had talent, who had gone on to bigger and better things, I don't know.  I began writing a bunch of stuff down under the title "Brothers and Sisters" and I worked very hard to come up with a name for the group, which I ultimately decided was "The Eternal Order of the Brothers and Sisters of the Second Banana".  Their symbol would be scales with a banana on one side, or maybe a banana on each side, and some sort of Latin phrase, I don't know.

I came up with a list of people who would be members -- Miss X and Electric Bluejay, of course, and Nina Ballerina, Solar Sister, Dog is My Copilot, and a few others.  Probably Crimson Cyclone (a character created by Gene).  I needed at least one other old-school sidekick from long ago, so I opened up my sidekicks file (list of names and ideas for sidekicks that I have not yet used) and decided on Sixteen Tons (he has one fist of iron and one of steel).  He was another sidekick from the sixties.  And maybe I could even reveal more information about who Miss X actually is.

Black Dahlia, Lady Lune, and Fire Maiden could be new initiates, they are relatively recent graduates from sidekickdom to full-fledged hero status.  And maybe someone else -- Natural Twenty, who seems to have enough power to become a hero herself.  Cyber Granny, the third founder of Temporary Superfriends, would not be a member, she was never a sidekick.  Grandpa Anarchy was a sidekick but he would not be a member, in fact it would be written into their charter that he wasn't allowed to join.

I came up with a long list of historical sidekicks to reference in an oath or swearing in ceremony of some sort --  Gilgamesh had Enkidu, Achilles had Patroclus, Moses had Aaron, Sherlock Holmes had Dr. Watson, Daffy Duck had Porky Pig, the Lone Ranger had Tonto, Don Quixote had Sancho Panza, Batman had Robin,  Bilbo Baggins had Samwise, Captain Kirk had Spock, Han Solo had Chewbacca. Xena had Gabrielle, Johnny Carson had Ed McMahon, Wooster had Jeeves.  And I wrote a bit about what a sidekick really represented, and how, while the League of Former Sidekicks styled themselves as Grandpa Anarchy's greatest enemy, their actual natural enemy was this secret society.  "We also oppose the Henchman's Union Local 666, of course."

I wrote an opening where the new sidekicks were being driven by limo to the secret location, but it was boring.  How exciting is a limo ride?  Not very.  And I began to realize that I didn't have a story yet, either... people being initiated into a secret society was maybe fun background material but it wasn't an interesting story.

And as I worked a bit more on the idea today, it seemed less and less like such a great idea at all.  For one thing -- what was the purpose of the group?  TVTropes divides such groups up into the ones that are secretly manipulating everything in the world (or trying to) and those who are basically Brotherhoods of Funny Hats (and Sisterhoods -- aka the Red Hat Society), where people get to hang out, look ridiculous, and drink.  I began to realize that maybe there wasn't a reason for such a group to exist.  Were they trying to control things from behind the scenes?  Doubtful.  Were they secretly helping heroes?  Very unlikely, as most of the members had already graduated to being heroes themselves.  Were they there to help younger sidekicks?  Maybe, except that this is something the temp agency Temporary Superfriends already does, publicly.  Were they simply there to oppose the League of Former Sidekicks?  But you didn't need a secret society to do that.

Were they simply there to hang out and network?  Still a possibility, I suppose.

Anyway, I didn't get very far on this idea and I'm still not sure if it officially exists or not.  It probably does, but maybe only as a group that does little except hang out.  But then, I'm still not sure whether there's an actual story there.

Tonight I was going to work on my Tai-Pan story, but instead I got another idea for a Grandpa Anarchy story, this time a real one, and I wrote down what I could.  I was thinking about how I want to delve into the backgrounds of some of the other characters, how they got to be the way they are, what are their origin stories, who are their past friends, their relatives, etc.  But I came back around to Grandpa Anarchy and his relationship to his mentor the Gentleman Brawler.  I've always thought it would be good to to a story of when Grandpa Anarchy was a wide-eyed sidekick.  But I began to wonder -- what did shape Grandpa Anarchy in his past?  Was he haunted by the death of the Gentleman Brawler?  Was it really an accident as I've already written, or is the truth more complicated?  Did Grandpa Anarchy really gain his strength and healing abilities by accident as I'd written, or did he do it on purpose because he wanted to become stronger, because when he was young he wasn't able to stop the murder of his mentor or avenge him in any way?

And if he was haunted by the death of the Gentleman Brawler, what of the deaths of others he'd worked closely with?  I've already written that he had a partner in the 50's and 60's called Guy Shadow who is now dead, and that one of the founding members of the League of Two-Fisted Justice was someone named Adjective Man, who is also dead.  Also I've made many references to the death of his sidekick Circuit Girl.  How do these deaths affect him, really?

I decided that what would be really cool would be a time travel story, where he gets a second chance to save his mentor (which he fails to do, of course).  You'd get to learn a lot about his past, you'd see him as a kid, he could try very hard to not let his current sidekick meet his younger self and/or pretend it's not him.

Anyway, it's a much more promising idea, so I wrote down what was in my head and saved it as "Stronger". It would be a longer story than most, and I don't have time to actually work on it right now, but it's a cool story idea.

I watched a bit of Venus Versus Virus tonight, and I like the whole setup of that anime, where the protagonists run a second-hand vintage clothing and jewelry shop, and behind the scenes are, for lack of a better word, demon hunters/exorcists.  I think that the Black Moon Maidens might have a similar sort of organization.  I haven't really figured out how any of my other superheroes operate, what kind of housing they have, if people can contact them or hire them for jobs.  Some of them, at least, should be available for hire like a private detective might be.  So that's something else I was thinking about tonight, although I'm not sure where I'm going with it.  I'd maybe like to do at least one full story based on those three (Black Moon Maidens -- Black Dahlia, Fire Maiden, Lady Lune), without Grandpa Anarchy being involved at all.  I'd like to figure out a little bit more about Solar Sister too.

But yeah, I'm supposed to be working on my Tai-Pan story.  Maybe tomorrow.

Monday, February 11, 2013


Technically I've been ignoring three quarters of my 2013 writing (and art) goals.  I'm supposed to work on my fan fiction and other original fiction, I'm supposed to draw something each month, and I'm supposed to write a Tai-Pan story each month.  I was able to let last month slide a bit because we didn't actually have a Tai-Pan writer's night meeting in January, but this coming Saturday is the February writer's night, and I'd like to have a Tai-Pan story finished, preferably The Pilgrimage of Ian St. Ritz.

Mind you, I do have a few stories to read, should it come to that.  After not having anything new to read for many, many writer's nights over the last 3-4 years, I've actually written about thirty-eight Grandpa Anarchy stories since October.  That includes all thirty stories that I started in November -- the last of them, Trouble Focusing, I managed to finish today.  Woo!  I read Shadows Over Scranton at our November writer's night, and Two-Fisted Christmas Ghost Story for our Christmas party/writer's night in November, so that leaves me with about thirty-six stories that I haven't read to my friends yet.

Trouble Focusing wasn't really even a new idea when I made it my story idea of the day on November 21st.  It was actually a brief story idea that I'd already had in my files for several years previous.  It consisted entirely of the idea that Grandpa Anarchy would be too busy to save some random sidekick who was tied up with a bomb strapped to them, and then when the bomb went off he'd say, "Dang, I forgot about the bomb.  I lose more sidekicks that way...."

Which was kind of a funny idea until I started to write it.  At that point, you give the sidekick a name and a look and a bit of personality, and you realize that having them just die seems really grim and wrong.  Not that I haven't had sidekicks die before, but Circuit Girl dies before Remember This begins, and The Great Society Kid possibly dies after Garden Variety Hero ends.  I've also had a number of sidekicks claim that Grandpa left them for dead.  Natural Twenty, for example, from the story I wrote just last night, Roll of the Die.  Or Double Jester in Turncoats:

Grandpa spun and kicked the gun from the clown's grasp.  The two grappled at the edge of the precipace.  "Jester, it's been nearly fifty years since you were my sidekick!  Let it go already!"
"You left me to die in Baron Schaudenfreude's collapsing volcano base!" yelled Double Jester.  "How can I forget that?"

This mirrors Sam Solo's complaint in Nemesis:

"We've all built things for you, over the years, from Bluejay's Anarchy computer to the rocket bike that I designed, to the dimensional portal that Kid Calculus was able to create.  All of your sidekicks building things to help you, and what have you done for us?  You've left us danging over the abyss."  He poked Grandpa in the chest; the man swung about above the alligator pit.
"I don't just speak metaphorically, either," said Sam Solo.  "Don't you recognize this pit?  It's identical to the one that Carnival Act suspended me over back in 1966.  You remember that, don't you?  I remember it very well.  Every.  Last.  Detail.
"I just wanted you to hear that before you die.  We all did."  He grabbed a remote control that dangled by a cord from a crane high overhead.  "Always remember, Grandpa.  We are your greatest nemesis.  And now, Mr. Anarchy, goodbye."
But I'd never actually killed a sidekick on screen, as it were.

Given that this was the very premise around which my story was based, I had to think very hard about whether I could actually do that and still have the story be funny, or whether I could find a way to not do it, without robbing the story of any impact.  But I do think I came up with a pretty good ending, so I'm happy.

(I set this story in another collapsing volcano base.  I should have Grandpa go on a rant about how many villains he's fought in collapsing volcano bases at some point.)

Grandpa Anarchy grappled with Baron Climate Change at the lip of a volcano.  Behind them, a steel platform extended back to  a warehouse-sized room, open at the end facing the volcano.  The ground shook.  Rocks crashed down.  The Baron, dressed in World War I flight leathers with thick goggles, cackled.
"Feel that, Grandpa?  My coal-fired, tar-sand oil burning nuclear supervolcano accelerator is at work!  Soon the world will be brought to its knees as volcanic gasses envelope the earth, triggering a mini ice age!"
"You fiend!" yelled Grandpa.  "Not if I stop you!"
High above on a warehouse platform, a young woman was tied up.  She had a green mohawk and wore a black Misfits tee shirt, ripped jeans and Doc Martins.  She yelled, "Grandpa, he's talking out his backside!  Get up here and help me!"
"I can't take that chance, Punk Rock Girl!" Grandpa yelled.  "The fate of hundreds of millions could be at stake!"
"Give me a break!  A, there's no such thing as a coal-fired, tar-sand oil burning nuclear supervolcano accelerator.  He's just throwing words together!  B, there's no way anyone could induce a supervolcano to erupt, and C, this tiny island does not qualify as a supervolcano!  He's got me tied to a bomb, so get your arse up here and rescue me, you old geezer!"
The Baron pinned Grandpa against the rocks.  His head and upper shoulders stuck out over the edge.  Far below was the yellow-orange glow of molten lava.  Grandpa's fedora began to smoke.
"I'm a little busy right now, Punk Rock Girl," Grandpa called out.  He kneed Baron Climate Change in the groin.  As the villain stumbled back, Grandpa scrambled to his feet.  His hat fluttered into the crater and burst into flames.
The Baron produced a weapon that looked like a cross between a blunderbuss and a brass pesticide sprayer.  It sprayed hot, oily soot into Grandpa's face.

I was actually hoping to finish a second story tonight, but I only got halfway through Most Dangerous.  I have a pretty good beginning for that one, but I don't know where the ending or punchline is yet.

One of these days I'm going to try and write three or four short stories in a single day.  ^_^  Gotta push yourself!

Anyway, Update!  2013 Writing Goal of writing one Grandpa Anarchy Story a week:

January 2013

Jan 19:  DarkFireDragonNinja  (begun several years ago)
Jan 24:  OmniGen Again  (begun Jan 23)
Jan 25:  Veteran of the Bone Wars  (begun Dec 30)
Jan 29:  Nemesis  (begun Dec 10)

February 2013

Jan 31:  Turncoats (begun Dec 8)
Feb 3:  There Ain't No Justice  (begun Nov 29)
Feb 5:  City of the Monkey God  (begun Nov 26)
Feb 7:  Future Me  (begun Jan 31)
Feb 10:  Roll of the Die  (begin Feb 10)
Feb 11:  Trouble Focusing  (begun, Nov 21, in theory)

I am well ahead of my Grandpa Anarchy story goal.  I really need to focus on my other goals this week.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Story That Had To Be

As noted before, Natural Twenty was a throwaway character created for just one line in the story There Ain't No Justice.

"Objection!"  This came from a red-skinned alien on the far side of the room with the head of a squid -- a totally evil mindflayer, according to Grandpa's current sidekick Natural Twenty, sitting in the first row.  The mindflayer lawyer wore a pinstripe suit.  His face tentacles flailed madly.  Next to him sat a blue man ten stories tall, wearing white and gold armor and a scowl.
  "Prejudicial language!  My client was merely engaged in preparations for dinner in a legal and responsible manner under interstellar law."
Grandpa Anarchy jumped to his feet.  "That fat ass was trying to eat Earth, you moron!"

There was really no opportunity to provide a full description of this sidekick.  That bothered me, but the character wasn't the focus of the story and really only existed to allow me to describe the lawyer as a mindflayer.  But I wanted to flesh out the character in another story, so I added her to Future Me.

The front doors of the mansion opened.  A seven-foot tall man in blue and black spandex wrestled something onto the lawn.  Behind him came two young women -- one with dark skin and straight black hair, dressed in jeans and a tan shirt, the other looking like a cross between a Renfaire knight and Velma from Scooby Doo.
"Grandpa, do you use this armored exoskeleton?" the second woman asked.  "Like, ever?"
"Nah," said Grandpa.  "That can go, Natural Twenty."
"Just set it down anywhere, Unpossible Man," said Natural Twenty.
"What about the jet bike?" the other woman asked.  Sun Wukong the Monkey King sailed overhead, followed by the Bronze Beach Bum.  "Primal!" exclaimed the solar surfer.
"Don't use that either," said Grandpa.  "Dang thing's only good for breaking your neck.  Sell it, Ravella."
"Bring that up next, then," said Ravella.  The three disappeared back inside the mansion.

Unfortunately, Natural Twenty and Ravella were not the focus of this story either, so at best I was able to provide a description of the two, but not really explain why Grandpa Anarchy currently had two sidekicks.

I was talking to a friend about this and they said, "You'll just have to write another story!"  Heh.  Sure, a story just to explain how Natural Twenty had been lost in space and then found her way back home.  But then, as I thought about it more, it seemed like a pretty good idea, actually.

It's rare that I write a story for any reason other than I have a funny idea or character or situation in mind, but in this case, I decided a story set before Future  Me that explained how Natural Twenty had been lost and returned was in order.  I wound up working on that tonight, and titled it Roll of the Die:

Rain poured down.  The front door of the Anarchy Mansion was open, and two young women fought at the base of the stairs.  One had dark skin and black hair and wore jean shorts and a Baka Beyond tee shirt.  The other had glasses and looked a bit like Velma from Scooby Doo, if Velma dressed like a medieval knight.
"So!" yelled the dark-skinned one.  "You thought you could sneak in while your master took out Grandpa Anarchy?  Not while I'm here!"
She launched herself forward, spinning in midair to land a kick.  The armored girl blocked it but was still thrown back into the wall.
"Listen, I don't know who the hell you are," said the armored girl, "but my name is Natural Twenty.  I'm Grandpa Anarchy's sidekick.  That's why I have a key to the front door, dipshit!"
"A likely story!" the dark-skinned one replied.  "Natural Twenty died in deep space a month ago.  I'm Ravella the Traveler, and I'm Grandpa Anarchy's sidekick."  She produced a crossbow and took aim.  "And you are obviously an ally of the Octarine Orc...."
Ravella fired.  Natural Twenty tossed something into the air.  Time froze.  "Magic shield!" yelled Natural Twenty.  The object -- a multi-sided piece of metal, with numbers carved into each face -- bounced on the floor and came to a stop.  The number it displayed was...
"Twenty!" yelled Natural Twenty.  Time sped up, but she now held a round metal shield that glowed faintly.  It deflected the crossbow bolt easily.
"What the heck?" Ravella growed.  "Oh... your stupid die, I remember now."
"That's right," said Natural Twenty.  "Do you see now?  I am Natural Twenty...."
  "Page 241 of Sidekicking for Grandpa Anarchy," said Ravella.  "Beware the former sidekick who was thought to be dead.  They return 65% of the time, with a 99% chance of exacting evil revenge!"
"Give me a break!" said Natural Twenty.  "I wrote that."
Ravella threw herself forward with a series of spinning punches and kicks.  "I should warn you, I've trained for two weeks with Sun Wukong himself!"
Of course, Grandpa Anarchy is battling the Octarine Orc at that very moment.  ^_^  This gave me an excuse to use another of my OmniGen former-scientific-genius-turned-villains, and one that Natural Twenty, the  gamer geek, has always wanted to fight.

Ultimately it may not be my best story... but it needed to be written.  ^_^

I started three stories this weekend, and finished one:

Feb 09  Dangerous
Feb 09  Gutbucket Magic
Feb 10  Roll of the Die (completed Feb 10, same night)  875 words

"Dangerous" is Grandpa Anarchy versus the old cliche of a skilled hunter who wants to hunt "the most dangerous prey" ie humans.  It's an old trope, and one that Grandpa Anarchy has faced several times before.  This time he's stuck in the jungle with a sidekick named Kid Gangsta who may not be well versed in jungle survival.

"Gutbucket Magic" is a less well-defined idea where Grandpa faced a villain whose weapon is crushing depression.  You can't punch depression, but quite possibly the way to deal with it is to sing the blues...

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Stuff That Gets Left Out

Today I finished off Future Me, which started with a visit and warning from a future Grandpa Anarchy, and a corresponding rant from present-day Grandpa Anarchy, who is really tired of this high-and-mighty future self telling him what not to do.

He's always going on about causality, but that don't stop him from popping back here night and day to warn me about things.  He really burns my britches.  I'll tell you one thing, when I'm the guy from the future warning my past self about stuff, I'm not going to tell me anything either!  See how I like them apples!

One of the main reasons I wanted to write this story goes back to my rewrite of Remember This.  In that story, Future Grandpa Anarchy comes to warn him not to kill Carnival Act, even though he richly deserves it after committing one of the greatest terrorist acts the world has yet seen.  The thing was, the story wasn't funny.  It was my first Grandpa Anarchy story and I hadn't really gotten a handle on how I wanted to write him yet.  Later, when I had a similar situation in Two-Fisted Christmas Ghost Story, I knew what the appropriate response should be:

"Beware!" the corpse moaned, shaking its chains.  "I've come to warn you, Theodore Harold "Paul" Smith.  You will be visited by three ghosts this night...."
"Cripes," Grandpa said.  "Again?"
The ghost paused.  It looked confused.  "This has happened to you before?"

Grandpa Anarchy is ancient.  He's been fighting crime for decades.  He's the living embodiment of the pulp hero who never dies.  Of course he's done this all before!  And that should have been his response to seeing his future self as well:  not you again!  So when I did the rewrite, I added that in.  It needed to be funnier, and it needed to be more true to the series, and that accomplished both goals.

 So I was thinking, ok, he's been warned by his future self several times, at least.  He must get tired of it.  And before I knew it I'd written the above rant along with a few other bits of dialog and saved it as the file Future Me.  I decided to set this at the scene of a garage sale where Grandpa is trying to get rid of all the stuff that his past sidekicks have built for him, which he never uses.  That's pretty much what the Anarchy Cave is for, to hold all of this junk.  He tries to sell something and his Future Self shows up to warn him not to.  That was the basis of my new story idea.

When I started working on this story again, I decided to toss in several more things.  I wanted to write a bit with Popeye Khan, an important character from Grandpa Anarchy's past who has been mentioned more than once but has never appeared "on screen".  I had recently decided that he was the founder and leader of the Archons of Excellence, a group that began as a throwaway line in the story The Magic Knight:

“I am not evil,” the wizard snapped.  “Now shut up and listen.  Mr. Anarchy, according to legend only you can save my world.  You must first fulfill several quests....”
“Quests?”  Grandpa frowned.  “Hey look, I didn't sign up for no quests.  I'm not missing Thursday night pinochle with the Archons of Excellence just because you guys can't get your act together on your own.”

I had also decided that the Bronze Beach Bum was a member of this group, and, casting about for a third member, I created a Jamaican hero who I named Dread to Rights.  Most of what I have in my Anarchy World History file is taken straight from the stories -- as in the above example, I frequently make history up on the spot while writing, and only add it to my files afterwards, but in a few cases such as this I've created characters and groups that have never actually been written about or mentioned in any of my stories.  So here I had a chance to describe Dread to Rights and have him say a few things, and use Bronze Beach Bum again.  And another idea:  Grandpa recently released Sun Wukong the Monkey King from suspended animation, so why not have Grandpa introduce him to the group?  Why not have him join the group?  If the Avengers can have Thor as a member, surely my Archons of Excellence can have the greatest hero of Chinese legend.

I had two more ideas:  I had established that OmiGen was a company just a few blocks from the Anarchy Mansion that routinely had scientific geniuses who became supervillains, often after experimenting on themselves (my nod to Oscorp from Spiderman).  I'd written the story OmniGen Again around this idea, but I wanted to use the whole idea several more times to firmly establish it in the Grandpa Anarchy cannon.  I had already written up a number if silly/generic scientists-turned-villain for later use, one of the few other examples of my having names in my world history files of people who hadn't actually appeared in a story yet.  If I was having a garage sale at the mansion, why not have OmniGen's current scientific genius stop by?

One other idea I wanted to explore was this:  who is Natural Twenty?  In my story There Ain't No Justice I had decided at the last minute to toss in a geeky sidekick for Grandpa Anarchy, and I'm still not sure if it was a good idea, but the prosecuting attorney was an alien who was described as having a squid-like head, but I really wanted to make the connection to the D&D mindflayer more obvious, because a mindflayer lawyer just seemed like a scary idea all around.  My problem was that neither Grandpa Anarchy nor Bronze Beach Bum were likely to know what a mindflayer was.  At the same time, I was writing a story that didn't apparently have a sidekick in it -- and while I've written others like that, they're few and far between.  So i decided that Grandpa Anarchy's sidekick Natural Twenty was there to call the prosecution attorney a mindflayer lawyer.  It was one throwaway line, the name of the sidekick hinted at their D&D Geek credentials, but I didn't even describe them because it really had no relevance to the story.

I wanted to more fully introduce this character, and Future Me seemed like a good opportunity.  The problem was that that this story happened soon after City of the Monkey God, with the appearance of Sun Wukong.  That meant that Grandpa Anarchy's current sidekick was now Ravella the Traveler, a girl adventurer who was sort of a nod to "Dora the Explorer" (and maybe a nod to Laura Croft too, I don't know).  There Ain't No Justice happens before City of the Monkey God.  So what's the solution to this problem?  Easy:  Grandpa lost Natural Twenty somewhere on the trip back to Earth from intergalactic court, and then hired a new sidekick.  Later, Natural Twenty showed up again, and so Grandpa Anarchy has two sidekicks at the moment.

Now, all of this stuff going on at once made for a very crowed story, but at the same time it made for a fun mix of chaos.  I like Grandpa Anarchy stories that are chaotic and it's hard to get your bearings.  So I tossed it all together, and by the time I was done I felt  pretty good about the story I'd crafted, but there was a lot of dialog and stuff that simply got cut, and this included the entire explanation for why both Ravella and Natural Twenty were there.  At best, I was able to get a description in for Natural Twenty, so now we know  just a bit more about her.  But in the interest of brevity and keeping things funny and to the point, I had to cut out stuff.

I did the same thing with City of the Monkey God, and there was so much stuff left over that I saved it all in a separate file named "Monkey Parts".  I took all of the leftover bits from Future Me and added it to the same file.  I don't know if there's anything in there I can salvage for any later story, but for now I didn't just want to delete lines of dialog that I thought were funny or helped explain some things.

Hopefully my stories are stronger for the fact that there's more going on than I can actually fit into the story itself.  I don't know if that's really true or not, and it's hard to be objective about stories I've only just written.  Anyway, I managed to finish a new story today, and I'm happy about that.

2013 Writing Goal of writing one Grandpa Anarchy Story a week Update:

January 2013

Jan 19:  DarkFireDragonNinja  (begun several years ago)
Jan 24:  OmniGen Again  (begun Jan 23)
Jan 25:  Veteran of the Bone Wars  (begun Dec 30)
Jan 29:  Nemesis  (begun Dec 10)

February 2013

Jan 31:  Turncoats (begun Dec 8)
Feb 3:  There Ain't No Justice  (begun Nov 29)
Feb 5:  City of the Monkey God  (begun Nov 26)
Feb 7:  Future Me  (begun Jan 31)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Finding the Funny: A Story Comes Together

Back in November 2012 I set myself a goal of starting a brand new Grandpa Anarchy story every day of the month.  By the end I struggled for new ideas.  Thus on Nov 26, I created a file called "Jungle Opera" and copied from TV Tropes the entire entry for a Jungle Opera.  I didn't have a plot.  I didn't even know which characters were involved besides Grandpa Anarchy.  But that was my story idea for November 26:  a generic Jungle Opera story.

Oh, I had one other thing written down:  "Holy Guacamole".  I had a fuzzy idea about making that the maguffin that they were after, but it seemed like a remarkably lame joke to base an entire story on.

It's no surprise that "Jungle Opera" was one of the six stories that I failed to finish in November.  Even as late as mid January, I had no idea what it was really about.  Then I heard a bit on To The Best of Our Knowledge (PRI) about Ciudad Blanca, the mysterious White City that supposedly lies hidden in the jungles of the Mosquito Coast in Honduras.  Someone claims to have found it... again.  I did quite a bit of research that night and turned it into a long, expository opening scene featuring Dr. Whitney, an archaeologist / explorer featured in another Grandpa Anarchy story.

"In 1526, five years after the defeat of the Aztecs, Hernando Cortes first heard legends of the mythical city of Hueitapalan, or Xucutaco in the local nahuatl tongue.  The name means Old Land of Red Earth."  Doctor Whitney -- a man dressed like a Victorian British explorer, complete with pith helmet -- hacked at the vegetation with his machete.  "This legend has become confused with legends of Ciudad Blanca, the famed White City.  In 1544 Bishop Cristobol de Pedraza of Honduras wrote to the King of Spain of a city of gold on a river that cut through the Mosquito Coast.  From there the legend grew, with some even claiming that it is the birthplace of the feathered serpent Aztec god Quetzalcoatl."
"Feathered serpents, again?' asked Grandpa Anarchy, swinging his own machete.  "I thought we left all of that behind in San Theodoros."
"No, Mr. Anarchy, we are still dealing with Central American legend.  Honduras, to be specific."
"But Doctor," said Ravella the Traveler, "we're nowhere near Honduras...."
Grandpa Anarchy was, of course, the world's oldest and most famous hero.  He wore his usual rumpled grey suit and fedora, even out here in the jungle.  Ravella was his current sidekick, a young woman with dark skin and straight black hair who was dressed for exploring in in dune-colored shorts and shirt, with dark socks and sturdy hiking boots.
"Now, now, all in good time," said the Doctor.  "First allow me to finish my story.   Theodore Morde reportedly found Ciudad Blanca in 1939.  He wrote about it in Lost City of the Monkey God, but did not reveal exactly where it was.  He was killed by hit and run in London England just days later, possibly silenced by the U.S. Government or other nefarious forces.
"Others have claimed to find the White City.  Reported sightings of a city of carved white stones and golden idols continue to surface, but each time, events conspire to conceal its location again.  Locals claim that this is on purpose -- the city is not lost but hidden, a refuge and haven for indigenous gods alienated by the spread of Christianity."

This, at least, gave me an opening to work with.  I had no idea how it was going to end, and it wasn't a very compelling opening, but I liked basing the story around Ciudad Blanca.  Also I had a sidekick, a kind of play on "Dora the Explorer".  Best I could manage, at any rate.  It wasn't much, but I now had part of a story, and not just a title only.

Later I decided that they were searching for Ciudad Blanca somewhere in Africa.  Why?  Because nobody ever thought to look there!  I liked that absurd joke, and I wrote a bit more... but I still didn't know where I was heading with it.

Monday I pulled up my story and decided to work on it in earnest.  It took me a bit to come up with a destination, but I thought, "Hmm, Monkey God," and I Googled that.  What came up was the Chinese legend of Sun Wukong the Monkey King, from Journey to the West.  Also coming up was Hunanon, the Hindu monkey god, who is thought to have provided some inspiration for Sun Wukong.

Now I had somewhere to go with my opening.  Quetzalcoatl was supposed to inhabit Ciudad Blanca, but Thomas Morde's book talked of monkey gods.  Thanks to Google, I actually found the text of Morde's book and read a bit.  Even better, Morde himself made a connection between Aztec monkey gods and Hunanon.  What if my explorers found the city and found Sun Wukong himself?   And then... I don't know... there could be a big battle between them and Quetzalcoatl, and a bunch of feathered serpents.  Or something.

I went back to working on my story.  I wrote a bit where Dr. Whitney stumbles and falls -- down a steep cliff, or maybe falls into a buried chamber/room.  They find the Lost City.  They find Sun Wukong and wake him up.  He says some things.

At this point the story was getting longer and longer, and it just wasn't funny.  One big problem I was having was that Dr. Whitney was the crazy one who thought you could find a Central American lost city in Africa -- but in my previous story he was the logical, scientific type who refused to believe in ancient astronauts even as evidence of them began to pile up.  I was having a hard time reconciling that with my current plot --but he was the explorer, they went where he said to.  He had to be the one to send them to Africa.

After some thought I decided to go back to the beginning and write Dr. Whitney as if he were drunk.  Perhaps this was why he was searching in Africa, or perhaps the idea that he might actually find the city in Africa had driven him to drink in the first place.  I rewrote my entire opening with this in mind, trying to compact the exposition and slur a few words to accommodate a drunken scientist approach.  Drunk scientist explaining his theories seemed like it could be more funny, but I wasn't sure I was actually getting there:

"In 1526 Hernando Cortes first heard legends of the mythical city of Hue... Hua.. Hueitapalan, or Xuca.. er.. Xucutaco in the local Nahuatl tongue.  Means Old Land of Red Earth, something like that."  Doctor Whitney -- a man dressed like a Victorian British explorer, complete with pith helmet -- hiccuped.  He turned to hack at dense vegetation with his machete.  "This has become confused with legends of Seeuuu.. Sewi... Ciudad Blanca.  The White City."
"Doctor," said Ravella the Traveler, "you're drunk."
"I am not drunk, Officer," the explorer replied.  He paused to stare at his machete.  "Where was I?  Oh yesh.  In 1544 Cristobol de Pedraza wrote to the king -- he was the Bishop of Honduras, you know.  Not the king, I mean.  The king was the king... of Spain.  Anyway Cristo saw a city of gold on a river.  On the Mosquito Coast."  The doctor's arms swung wide, nearly hitting Grandpa with the machete.  "From there the legend grew.  Some say it is the birthplace of the feathered serpent Aztec god Quetzalcoatl."
"Feathered serpents, again?' asked Grandpa Anarchy, swinging his own machete.  "I thought we left all of that behind in San Theodoros."
The doctor paused to take another swig from his canteen.  He waved his hand about wildly.  "No, no, no.  No.  Central American legend, Grandpa.  Honduras, yes?"
"But Doctor," said Ravella the Traveler, "we're nowhere near Honduras...."
Grandpa Anarchy, the world's oldest hero,  wore his usual rumpled grey suit and fedora, even here in the jungle.  His current sidekick Ravella was dressed for exploring in in dune-colored shorts and shirt, with dark socks and sturdy hiking boots.  She was a young woman with dark skin and straight black hair.
"Now, now, all in good time," said the Doctor.  "Lemme finish.   There was this guy... Theodore Morde.  He wrote this book... Lost City of the Monkey God, in 1939.  Said he found the lost city, but didn't say exactly where.  And then he died!  Hit and run in London England just days later.  Some say he was silenced... by the U.S. Government.  Or other nef... nefari... other bad people."
The doctor stumbled and leaned against a tree.  He took another swig.  "Others... others have claimed to find it.  Sightings surface of a city of carved white stones and golden idols.  But every time it vanishes.  Some say it's on purpose -- the gods of the city are hiding it."  He spread his hands again, machete swinging in a wide arc.  "Rubbish!"
"But all of those reported discoveries were in Honduras!" exclaimed Ravella.
"'Zactly!" exclaimed Doctor Whitney.  "Despite many attempts, no one has found the lost city in Honduras.   So I thought, why not look somewhere else?  That is why we're in Bangalla, in the heart of Africa!"
"He is sooo drunk," said Ravella.

It still wasn't that funny, and I was still starting before they found the city, and leading up to the same not-very-funny encounter with the Monkey King that I'd had trouble writing before.  It just didn't feel right.  My best Grandpa Anarchy stories drop you right into the middle of the action.  Weird things are happening and you're in the middle of it trying to figure out what's going on.  How to do that, then?  Drop them into the middle of a battle between gods and feathered serpents?  I had a lot of background on the city to get out, and it didn't seem likely that they were going to discuss that in the middle of a battle.  I also probably needed to cut a bunch of exposition, but I'd done a lot of research to get that exposition in the first place.  I wouldn't have had a story without that exposition, so I was reluctant to trim it very much.

I thought about it some more.  I decided that I really needed to start with them having just discovered the city.  And... yes, Dr. Whitney has lead them to Africa in search of it, but he's depressed because it actually worked.  That's the joke, that's where the funny is:  he knows on some level that, with Grandpa Anarchy along, even something as improbable as finding a lost Central American city in Africa is entirely possible, but when they succeed, he's shattered because it goes against everything he's been taught his whole life as a scientist.

After I decided on that, the rest of the story began to fall into place remarkably quickly:

Grandpa Anarchy, world's oldest hero, hacked vines with a machete.  A stone monkey stared back at him, grinning.  He cleared more vegetation and stood back.
"It's just like you said, Dr. Whitney.  Monkey god statues."  He glanced down at the doctor, a man dressed like a Victorian British explorer, complete with pith helmet.  Whitney was laid out on the jungle floor like a quarterback with a concussion.
"I need a drink," the doctor said.
Grandpa glanced to his sidekick.  "What's with him?" asked Grandpa.  "We found what we were looking for."
Even in the heat of the African jungle, Grandpa Anarchy wore his trademark rumpled grey suit and fedora.  His current sidekick was dressed for exploring in in dune-colored shorts and shirt, with dark socks and sturdy hiking boots.  She was a young woman with dark skin and straight black hair, and her name was Ravella the Traveler.
"I don't think Dr. Whitney really expected to find the lost city of Ciudad Blanca in the heart of Africa," she said.
Grandpa frowned.  "Then why were we looking here?"
"It was just a crazy theory," said the doctor.  He stared up at the jungle cover.  "Weird things always happen around Grandpa Anarchy.  In San Theodoros that silly Adventure Boy babbled about ancient astronauts, which I knew for a fact did not exist.  And then they attacked us!  In the digs in Parador Grandpa and I found the Holy Chalice of the Last Supper.  It's a legend.  It never actually existed.  But there it was, and in Parador of all places.  And when Grandpa accompanied me to a dig in Basenji, ten-foot tall Buddah statues came to life and fought us!"
"That was a mean fight too," Grandpa said.  "You haven't been hit until you've been smacked upside the head by Budda's palm."
Ravella sighed.  "So you mounted an expedition to  Bangalla, Africa, in search of a Central American lost city...."
"For years people have been searching for this place," said the doctor.  "Herenando Cortes wrote about it in 1526.  Hueitapalan, or Xucutaco in the local Nahuatl tongue.  The Old Land of Red Earth.  Bishop Cristobol de Pedraza wrote of it in 1544, in a letter to the King of Spain.  He saw a city of gold on a river on the Mosquito Coast.  British explorer Theodore Morde claimed to have found it again in 1939.  He wrote of it in Lost City of the Monkey God.  Of course, he died several days later, run over in London."
The doctor sat up suddenly.  "Don't you see?  People have been searching Honduras for centuries for the legendary lost city!  I just figured, what if it's not there at all?  What if it's somewhere no one has ever looked?"  He waved his hands about wildly.  "What if I brought Grandpa Anarchy along, and his current sidekick?  Then it wouldn't matter where I looked -- I'd be sure to find it!"
Dr. Whitney collapsed on the ground again.  He moaned.
"I don't see what you're so upset about," Grandpa said.  "Your theory worked!"
"Yes," said Ravella, "but it was unscientific.  In fact, it was blatantly stupid.  That's the problem."
"In my experience," said Granpda, "you look for a lost city, you find a lost city.  It's pretty easy, really.  Never heard of an explorer who was disappointed to find what he was looking for."
Dr. Whitney covered his face with his hands.  "Grandpa, when you look for a lost city, you find it...."
"That's what I said!"
"Oh, nevermind," the doctor replied.  "Let's just make certain this is really it, although I have no doubts whatsoever.  According to Morde, there will be a temple on a high stone dias...."
"Yep.  I see it," said Grandpa.
"There will be a long-staired approach, with stone effigies of monkeys lining the way...."
Grandpa rapped the handle of his machette against the nearby statue.  "Already verified that one."
"There should be a collosal image of a frog, and opposite it, an image of a crocodile...."
"Is that what those things are?  There's two big things here, but they're covered in vines...."
"Inside the temple we'll find a statue of the Monkey King," said Dr. Whitney.  "No, wait.  This is you we're talking about.  Grandpa Anarchy himself.  We have to ask ourselves:  What Would Grandpa Anarchy Find?"  He paused, then said, "Inside the temple we'll find... a living monkey god?  No, something more unexpected."  The doctor paused for a moment, then his eyes widened.  "Hanuman!"
"Gesundheit," said Grandpa Anarchy.
"I mean Hanuman, the Hindu monkey god," said the doctor.  "He'll be there... not a statue, but the actual god.  In suspended animation.  No, wait... it'll be Sun Wukong himself, the Monkey King from Chinese legend, from Journey to the West, with his golden-banded staff Ruyi Jingu Bang by his side.  He'll be in suspended animation, and we'll have to wake him up because... yes, of course!  Because we're about to be attacked by the god Quetzalcoatl, who rules the city with an iron fist and with the help of his fellow gods and many feathered serpents."
"Are you feeling ok, Dr. Whitney?" asked Ravella.
"And a yeti," said the doctor.  "Quetzalcoatl, his fellow gods, feathered serpents, and a yeti.  Attacking us.  In Ciudad Blanca, in  Bangalla, in Central Africa.  A yeti named... Nebuchadnezzar."
"Now you're just making stuff up," said Grandpa.

In very short order I had a completed story, and one that I thought was pretty funny.  It was shorter and more to the point.  Some of the things I'd wanted to expand on were missing -- such as the idea that Ciudad Blanca was the home of the gods who deliberately hid it from mortals (they could have moved it to Africa), and the conspiracy surrounding Morde's death (I was planning to have Sun Wukong mention that this was the work of, I don't know, Quetzalcoatl or of Sun's enemies).  Both things didn't actually contribute much to the story, of course.  And so, they're gone.

Thus a Grandpa Anarchy story comes together starting from nothing more than a title.  Even better:  now 29 of my 30 stories from November are finished!  Trouble Focusing remains the only one I haven't completed.

Incidentally, I've had fun using imaginary countries for my two Jungle Opera stories (the other is Stone Temple Space Raiders).  San Theodoros is an imaginary Central American dictatorship that Tintin visits more than once.  Bangalia is a Central African nation in the Phantom comic strip.  Parador... well, several of my friend are fans of the movie Moon Over Parador.  It's another Latin dictatorship, in South America.  As for Basenji, that's the Central Asian county that Jeannie comes from in I Dream of Jeannie.  It borders Russia.

2013 Writing Goal of writing one Grandpa Anarchy Story a week Update:

January 2013

Jan 19:  DarkFireDragonNinja  (begun several years ago)
Jan 24:  OmniGen Again  (begun Jan 23)
Jan 25:  Veteran of the Bone Wars  (begun Dec 30)
Jan 29:  Nemesis  (begun Dec 10)

February 2013

Jan 31:  Turncoats (begun Dec 8)
Feb 3:  There Ain't No Justice  (begun Nov 29)
Feb 5:  City of the Monkey God  (begun Nov 26)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

February Writing Report 2/3/2013

Technically finishing Turncoats on Jan 31st counts as my first Grandpa Anarchy story for February, since I've already written four for January.  But in any case, I sat down tonight and struggled my way through to the end of the story that I was calling Planet Earth vs. World Devourer.  I actually deleted a bunch of paragraphs at the end -- the story is long and there's no action, and when one lawyer suggests a trial by ordeal, I went into a section where the judge was suggesting several different ordeals and the other lawyer was objecting to them, and I realized that the story was already too long and getting more boring and drawn out by the moment.  So I cut straight from the suggestion of a trial by ordeal to the scene where they're about to perform the ordeal by fire.  It gave me the chance to end with a few snappy lines of complaint from Grandpa Anarchy.  I think it works, mostly.

It needed a better title though.  I considered shortening the name to something like Galactican vs. Sol 3, but that wasn't really a better title to the ear, and was worse in that it communicated less information (or at least, was less obvious about it).  I thought about it and then settled on There Ain't No Justice, which works both as a description of a trial of law that ends in a trial by ordeal, and also a fun inside joke since Bronze Beach Bum uses the expletive TANJ (There Ain't No Justice, from Larry Niven's novels) and I had Grandpa Anarchy use it at the end too, to reinforce the hidden reference to the title.

I was planning to get more writing done this weekend, possibly work on a Tai-Pan story or draw something, but eh.  At least I got one thing done.

So!  2013 Writing Goal of writing one Grandpa Anarchy Story a week:

January 2013

Jan 19:  DarkFireDragonNinja  (begun several years ago)
Jan 24:  OmniGen Again  (begun Jan 23)
Jan 25:  Veteran of the Bone Wars  (begun Dec 30)
Jan 29:  Nemesis  (begun Dec 10)

February 2013

Jan 31:  Turncoats (begun Dec 8)
Feb 3:  There Ain't No Justice  (begun Nov 29)

More importantly, I spent all Friday working on my Anarchy World Background file, which now lists just about every hero, villain, and other character mentioned in any of my finished stories, along with what stories they appear in and information on them.  I dropped this into Gene's dropbox since he's working on a Dark Dr. Dark story, and he saw it right away and was actually working on said story this weekend. ^_^  And, I should add, doing this allowed me to go through a lot of my finished stories and do some editing on them, although I was primarily rereading them for references to various characters.