Mike Doughty’s Hand(writing)

Had a couple of recent questions about the font on the setlists in the paperback, which caused me to realize I never blogged about the origin of that in any detail. Could have sworn I did, but a quick scan of the archives proves otherwise. Here we go:

Once upon a time a designer named Chank Diesel put together something called the Rockstar Font Project. He basically took handwriting samples from musicians and turned them into fonts.  Participants included Mike Doughty from Soul Coughing, Kelley Deal from the Breeders, Steven Drozd from the Flaming Lips, Mark Sandman from Morphine, and Everlast from House of Pain.

Being a big Soul Coughing fan I downloaded the Mike Doughty “Wichita” font shortly after it came out, messed around with it for 10 minutes, and then forgot all about it since I didn’t really have a practical use for it. (Origin story in Chank’s own words is available at WBR.com)

Mike Doughty's Handwriting, Ghostwriting for Local Boy

Mike Doughty’s Handwriting, Ghostwriting for Local Boy

Flashforward a decade. While working on the remastered layout of Timely Persuasion with Bryan Davidson we hit upon this idea of doing the Local Boy setlists in a handwriting font.  Originally we tried the Apple “Marker Felt” font, but it felt sort of cheesy and overplayed.  I suddenly remembered Wichita, and miraculously managed to copy it over each time I switched computers over the years.

I emailed Mr. Diesel regarding permissions and he was super cool about it, as was Mr. Doughty when I let him know of his inspiration.  And there you have it.

While we’re on the subject of Mike Doughty, check out his amazing new album Sad Man Happy Man.  I know this sounds odd coming on the heels of my Benji Hughes post, but this is another of those rare, expectation-defying albums I just can’t get enough of.  Beats out Dark Night of the Soul for my album of the year crown, and when the newness clears might even give Skittish a run for its money on the “best album ever” front.

Quantum Commentary

Finally got around to posting my 5th place entry from the fan fiction contest at Leap Back 2009 to the extras section of the main site.

“Just Like Starting Over”

It’s called “Just Like Starting Over” (you knew I’d go with a song title…) and serves as a bridge between the beginning and the end of the series.  I haven’t done the commentary thing in quite awhile, so here we go…

  • Fans tend to have a love/hate relationship with the final episode of QL.  Some are disappointed that Sam never made it home.  Many dislike the esoteric nature of any answers the finale provides.  I’ve always considered it to be brilliant, and probably the only way they could have ended the show.  But one day I decided the only other way to end it would be to send Sam back to right where he started.  Sort of a Twilight Zone-ish “Did it happen or not?” type of ending.  That was the inspiration for this story.
  • With the concept in hand, playing with the old saga cell narration for the opening sentence was quite obvious.  “Theorizing that one could time travel within his own lifetime, Dr. Sam Beckett stepped into the Quantum Leap accelerator…and nothing happened.”
  • “Around a hundred by his best count, maybe a few less” is a nod to the final episode count of 96. (Though technically there are a few episodes containing multiple leaps, which would put the count just over 100.)
  • It was fun including Gooshie and Beeks as main characters here since they were oft-mentioned but seldom seen on the show.
  • Sam not remembering if the events of “The Leap Back” took place in 1998 or 1999 is an acknowledgment of a minor continuity gaffe.  In this episode they say the date at the project is 9/18/99, but then in the following season during the “Lee Harvey Oswald” episode the date is referenced as 2/14/99 — pre-dating “The Leap Back.”
  • The reader is supposed to think Sam leapt in as himself a split second after his initial leap, but this would mean that Tom Stratton should be in the waiting room at the project.  His absence here is a clue that the timing of the leap in this story is not exactly as it seems.  Verbena’s question to Sam about why there isn’t anyone in the waiting room serves as a hint.
  • Including a reunion scene with Donna & Sam was something I considered, but in the end I felt that I didn’t really know her character enough to do it justice.  Instead she just gets a minor cameo reference here to up the “is this real or not” ante.
  • Seeds for the ending are planted when Al relays this message from Ziggy: “She also says she’s sorry she called you crazy, and forgives you for triggering her override function.”
  • A big speculative Internet question regarding the ending of QL asks whether or not Al would still be a part of the project after Sam kept him together with Beth.  I try to tie up that loose end here.
  • It still shocks me that nobody has made an iPhone App that emulates the QL handlink.
  • This story was written prior to the debut of the “Leap to Di For” fan-film, but the parallels to how Sammy Jo restarts the project and how Al has trouble maintaining the connection are pretty neat.  Great minds…
  • I loved referencing the words of Al the Bartender here in a prophetic, foreshadowy sort of way.
  • For the grand finale the story switches to the present tense, recounting a prequel of the minutes just before our first look at the accelerator chamber in the QL pilot episode.  We end with Gooshie’s famous “he’s leaping” speech that kicked off the main premise of the show.

ARG(hhh!) Again, Naturally

Here we go again.

Back in November I wrote a post that detailed my small brush with infamy related to DarmaWantsYou.com.  This week saw the stars align for another 15 minutes of fame that felt worthy of revisiting.  The rough timeline:

February 29, 2008
Timely Persuasion is released.  The book includes 2 hidden easter eggs into a mini-ARG.  These go undiscovered for quite some time.

July 30, 2008
Kick-off of the official DharmaWantsYou ARG in between seasons 4 and 5 of Lost.  I accidentally typo the site when trying to visit it and get a page not found, which inspires me to register it myself as a good samaritan.  The intent was always this: “Hey, wrong site.  Here’s the real one, plus a shameless plug on something that might be of mutual interest.” This sets the series of events detailed in this post into motion.

May 1, 2009
Email from GoDaddy reminding me that DarmaWantsYou.com would be expiring in July.  I hadn’t touched the site since linking to my in-game Dharma questionnaire, which no longer existed since ABC took down the site of the original game.  With the content now somewhat pointless I decide I’ll most likely let the registration lapse in July.

May 16, 2009
With some time on my hands for the first time in ages, I check out my website stats and notice that DarmaWantsYou was still getting 30-50 hits per day even without a “real” site to point people back to.    With a little bit of traffic and a couple of months before expiration I thought it made sense to do a minor revision:

  • I changed the sub-header from “Has There Been An Incursion On This Site By The Hostiles?” to “What Lies In The Shadow Of The Statue?”
  • I killed the dead link to my time travel Dharma quiz from the defunct “real” game and replaced it with this:

Although Dharma is no more, there are other Initiatives…

study.LB-DG.com

The link points to the Timely Persuasion easter egg/mini-ARG that’s been up since the book’s launch in February of 2008.  My logic was that if people were looking for an ARG I might as well point them to something similar rather than leaving them with nothing.

Traffic to study.lb-dg.com went through the roof!

Traffic to study.lb-dg.com went through the roof!

May 18, 2009
Unbeknownst to me, a new Lost ARG called “Who Is Simeon Hobbes?” was on the verge of starting.  (Note:  This new ARG has since been revealed to be fan made and not canon.  Still pretty cool though.)  Someone discovers the LBDG study page with the password protected PDF and thinks it’s in-game despite the “I registered this page because of a typo” intro.  It hit Twitter, and things started to skyrocket from there.

So to be clear:

  • I’m not part of an official Lost ARG.
  • I’m not part of this fan-made WISH? ARG; nor did I intentionally try to hijack it.
  • There is a mini-ARG type thing embedded in Timely Persuasion, and the password protected PDF, the questions, and the word “Nelsonification” all tie back into the plot of the book.
  • The book is pretty good if I do say so myself 🙂

Props to user Jesus_Stick at the Lostpedia forums for figuring out the nod to John Titor in the LBDG logo, and to South for catching the Carter USM references in the questionnaire. Nice work!

PS: One last note, in regards to this at the LostARG blog:

PLEASE be especially aware of the lb-dg one, it asks you to send off a questionnaire with money.

The $1 I ask for at the bottom of the PDF isn’t a scam and isn’t intended as a money making scheme.  It’s actually there to discourage people from mailing the questionnaire back to the PO box, as I don’t really have a use for it.  But if someone does happen to send me a buck, they will get something of equal or greater value in return.

Cover Me: The Art of Jose Roberto

One of the most common questions I get regarding Timely Persuasion is about the cover artwork.  Where did it come from?  How does it relate to the plot?  Is that you in the picture?  I was surprised to realize I haven’t told that story on this blog before now.

The original painting

The original painting

Way back in June of 2005 I stumbled onto a (now defunct) surrealist art website based out of the UK called the Hammond Gallery.  It turned into an extended Internet time wasting expedition as I got lost in the site and spent a couple of hours browsing the various paintings and artists they had listed.  I was particularly fascinated by the work of an artist named José Roberto.  And when I saw a piece of his entitled “Lost In Time,” I immediately stopped and said “That should be the cover to Timely Persuasion.”

I loved the title for starters.  The clock played nicely with the time travel theme.  The floating, egg yolk face about to drip off the table could symbolize what the narrator was experiencing.  (It also inspired the narrator’s “new look” in the alternate present when I rewrote parts of that scene to resemble the cover art.)  But what I loved most of all was the shadowy man of mystery off in the distance towards the upper right hand corner, who in my mind has always been the old man standing at a distance while observing and influencing the whole series of events.

Modified Book Cover Version

Modified Book Cover Version

Unfortunately the email address for the artist on the Hammond Gallery site was invalid.  Google searches for his name proved elusive as well.  (Today his website is the first hit for his name, but that wasn’t the case in 2005.)  Eventually my wife managed to track him down via a Google Groups reference to his SketchPet.com project/business.

José turned out to be a very kind and generous guy in addition to a wonderful artistic talent.  He granted permission for me to use “Lost In Time” as the book cover and even sent me a slightly modified high res file that allowed some extra room at the top and bottom for the title and author credit while better fitting the dimensions of the paperback.  I can’t thank the guy enough for being so helpful and down to earth.

You can check out José’s paintings, sketches, and digital works at his website, jmrcreations.com.

(Be sure to check out an original sketch of “Lost In Time” in his second gallery of sketches.)

Huey Lewis & The Anachronisms

Stumbled onto a neat section of the HLN.org Huey Lewis Wiki today that features a full “gigography” of every show he’s ever done.

However, this also led me to the entry for 1986.  Which means that this…

Walking over to retrieve the golf ball, I stopped when I saw the signature on it.  Huey Lewis.  I’ve had this ball since 1986, the year of my first concert.  After a year of constantly playing the Back to the Future soundtrack, my uncle took me and my sister to see Huey Lewis and the News.

…is inaccurate since Huey didn’t play much in 1986, and didn’t play anywhere near the east coast of the USA.

When writing that scene and during rewrites I searched high and low for an actual concert date to base it on but kept coming up empty.  I’m guessing I found reference to one of the Texas shows and assumed he was on a full tour at the time.  At least I take some solace in the fact that this Gigography has only existed since October of 2007.

Still wish I had caught it though, as I like grounding the story in reality to contrast the time travel surrounding it.  Perhaps I’ll just blame it on an unreliable narrator…

(I’ve updated the Chapter 3 Commentary to reflect this.)

The Story Behind The Story

As I’ve said before, I’m a better writer than I am a marketer.  That’s not to say I’m necessarily a brilliant writer, just that one skill outshines the other.

On the Timely Persuasion website, I periodically play around with “The Story” section at the top in an attempt to get the best mix of marketing bang plus factual synopsis.  At one point a few months ago I had a late night inspiration and tried a long, rambly, semi in-character and semi as-author version.  Days later I took it down and revised in a simpler direction.

In the interest of a complete permanent record, here’s that longer aborted version:

One early reviewer hit the nail on the head when they said the story of Timely Persuasion has “a premise that is very difficult to summarize in a review.”  That said, I’ll give it a shot below:

Timely Persuasion follows an anonymous music critic on a quest to save his sister from the relationship that ended her life. After a chance encounter at a bowling alley leaves him with the ability to travel in time, our hero uses his musical knowledge to “blink” through the years attempting to keep the couple apart by any means necessary. But is her husband Nelson really to blame?

Along the way he accidentally restructures his family tree, kick-starts his sagging love life, launches a new rock star, and crosses paths with the likes of Huey Lewis, Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, and Billy Joel. Reliving past events through the eyes of his younger selves, he soon finds that correlation and causation are not always what they seem.

This story of death, life, love, and rock and roll defies genre conventions while paying tribute to the classic time travel tales that came before it. Fans of Quantum Leap or Back To The Future will love Timely Persuasion.

Another reviewer read a version of the above synopsis and had this to say:

“To be blunt, Timely Persuasion‘s misleading plot blurb makes a fun novel sound absolutely cheesy. Happily, Timely Persuasion absolutely does not go down this road [and] ends up being much more enjoyable than the the above description had led me to expect.”

So we’ve learned that I’m a better author than I am a marketer.  Let’s try this synopsis thing again:

Theorizing that his sister’s death was the fault of her husband, an anonymous music critic drank too much at a bowling alley….and vanished.

He awoke to find himself trapped in the past, facing mirror images that omit him and driven by a guilty conscience to change history for the better.

His only guides on this journey are song lyrics, cryptic messages linking past and future that only he can see and hear.

And so our hero finds himself blinking from year to year, striving to put right what once went wrong, and hoping each time that his next blink will find his sister safe at home.

Ok. That wasn’t much better since I just parodied the intro to Quantum Leap.  But it is a decent summary, and both QL and Back To the Future were heavy influences that the story pays respectful homage to.  One more try:

On the simplest level, this book is about music and bowling and beer and regrets and relationships and time travel.  It’s a love letter to a misspent youth, peppered with a soundtrack for the ages.  Contained in these pages you’ll find references and allusions to the music of (in rough order of appearance): Huey Lewis, Billy Joel, Paul Simon, Harry Chapin, The Beatles, Blur, Carter USM, Cast, Supergrass, Black Grape, Oasis, James, Kula Shaker, The Wonder Stuff, Nirvana, Bob Dylan, Aerosmith, Pink Floyd, Possum Dixon, Pearl Jam, The Offspring, Rodan, Hole, Beck, Reverend Horton Heat, Butthole Surfers, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, 311, Jonathan Edwards, Soul Coughing, Metallica, G. Love & Special Sauce, Paul McCartney, Anthrax, Mary’s Danish, The Mr. T Experience, Bryan Adams, John Waite, Dinosaur Jr., The Moody Blues, Billy Idol, Paula Abdul, Britney Spears, Afghan Whigs, Guns N Roses, Jimi Hendrix, Don McLean, Pantera, Megadeth, Janice Joplin, Jim Morrison, Wilco and more.

Better?  Summarizing seems almost harder than writing the book was.  It’ll make a heck of a lot more sense once you’ve read it.  Let’s finish up by going back to something else that first reviewer said:

“Think Back to the Future.  Think The Butterfly Effect.  Think…oh just read the book already.  It’s pretty good.”

Sounds more like a blog post than a proper story synopsis, eh?

The Quantum Leap Connection

I pointed out a few times in the commentary posts that Quantum Leap was a big influence of mine.  It’s even specifically referred to in the book more than once.  What I haven’t talked about in depth is how Quantum Leap (and more specifically, Al the holographic observer) served as the genesis for the time travel mechanics I utilized in Timely Persuasion.

I’ve always felt that Al Calavicci had the sweetest time travel deal of any character.  He had all of the excitement and wonder, but as a hologram he didn’t have any of the danger.  No risk of injury, no risk of paradox, no risk of being stranded (though that did happen once…).  Virtually everything that could go wrong was accounted for.

Since I had given this a lot of thought over the years, and since it was never fully explored on the show, I decided this would be a good starting point for how my hero’s time travel “science” would work.  The problem lied in the fact that only allowing someone to observe but not interact made for a fairly boring story as a whole.  You could learn some valuable things just by watching, but there wouldn’t really be any way to “act” on what you learned in the past.  (Conversely, if you were able to “observe” the future you could act on what you learned upon returning to the present.  But I’ve never been a big fan of future travel in time travel tales.)  So I had a basis, but some modification was necessary.

Al’s rules did have a couple of notable exceptions.  Animals and young children could see and hear him.  I didn’t want to outright copy this, though giving the narrator some sort of interaction was necessary to move the story forward.  Then I remembered one of the most common “rules” of time travel fiction:  Avoid contact with your past self at all costs.  Sometimes this rule is implied but never explored, sometimes it results in an end of the world paradox, and sometimes it serves as a red herring to deliver a twist ending.  But generally speaking, every author (and scientist) tends to call it out as something you shouldn’t do.  And that’s when it hit me.

What if the only person you could interact with while time traveling was yourself?

It was a unique premise I hadn’t seen explored before.  It would nicely set up some tribute scenes in a Sam & Al interactive style.  It allowed the ability to change a timeline, but generally provided protection from paradox so long as you didn’t manage to get your other self killed.  Plus it fit logically with the “subconscious message from your future self” concept I had been kicking around and wasn’t quite ready to abandon.

It was perfect.

Buddha Blessed?

Some astute readers have pointed out that the narrator’s journey has an uncanny similarity to the Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhism.  To learn more about this concept, visit Wikipedia or read The Way to End Suffering by Bhikkhu Bodhi.   For an analysis of how this fits into the story of Timely Persuasion, read on.

1.  Right View
The Prologue, featuring the narrator’s views on life and love and the situation of his sister.

From the Bodhi text:

“The importance of right view can be gauged from the fact that our perspectives on the crucial issues of reality and value have a bearing that goes beyond mere theoretical convictions. They govern our attitudes, our actions, our whole orientation to existence. Our views might not be clearly formulated in our mind; we might have only a hazy conceptual grasp of our beliefs. But whether formulated or not, expressed or maintained in silence, these views have a far-reaching influence. They structure our perceptions, order our values, crystallize into the ideational framework through which we interpret to ourselves the meaning of our being in the world.”

2.  Right Intention
Our narrator means well in all of his meddling, from his overprotectiveness of his sister to his objecting, and even in his involvement with setting his sister up with Nelson to begin with.

Bodhi:

“The Buddha explains right intention as threefold: the intention of renunciation, the intention of good will, and the intention of harmlessness.  The three are opposed to three parallel kinds of wrong intention: intention governed by desire, intention governed by ill will, and intention governed by harmfulness.  Each kind of right intention counters the corresponding kind of wrong intention.”

The narrator has the 3 right intentions, whereas he has convinced himself (possibly incorrectly) that Nelson has the 3 wrong intentions.

3.  Right Speech
Literally, the objection speech at the wedding.  Figuratively, his failed attempts revolve around slandering Nelson to a degree, even though “slander” is the wrong word since his comments ares based on facts and observances.  It also revolves around lying to his other selves regarding what is going on.

“The Buddha divides right speech into four components: abstaining from false speech, abstaining from slanderous speech, abstaining from harsh speech, and abstaining from idle chatter.”

In the end, both the old and young narrator speak the truth and achieve much more satisfactory results, culminating in the honest telling of the full tale, but minimizing idle chatter by not naming names.  They need to find the “right speech” in order to succeed.

4.  Right Action
He abstains (albeit inadvertently) from most of his past relationships as a part of his quest.  He diverges from this path with the redheaded girl and his attempt to eliminate Nelson, but later traps Nelson rather than killing him as he completes this stage.  He also decides not to pursue the redheaded girl in the end.

“Right action means refraining from unwholesome deeds that occur with the body as their natural means of expression. The pivotal element in this path factor is the mental factor of abstinence, but because this abstinence applies to actions performed through the body, it is called “right action.”  The Buddha mentions three components of right action: abstaining from taking life, abstaining from taking what is not given, and abstaining from sexual misconduct.”

5.  Right Livelihood
At one point he uses the wrong livelihood in stealing the songs to teach his father, but in the end undoes this change to move to the proper path of setting things right. (The songs could also tie in to “taking what is not given” as described above.)

“For a lay disciple the Buddha teaches that wealth should be gained in accordance with certain standards. One should acquire it only by legal means, not illegally; one should acquire it peacefully, without coercion or violence; one should acquire it honestly, not by trickery or deceit; and one should acquire it in ways which do not entail harm and suffering for others”

6.  Right Effort
His efforts are focused on preventing and abandoning the bad aspects while creating and maintaining the good.

Wikipedia:

In this factor, the practitioners should make a persisting effort to abandon all the wrong and harmful thoughts, words, and deeds.The four phases of right effort mean:

  1. make effort to prevent the unwholesome that has not yet arisen in oneself.
  2. make effort to destroy the unwholesome that has arisen in oneself.
  3. make effort to arouse the wholesome that has not yet arisen in oneself.
  4. make effort to maintain the wholesome that has arisen in oneself.

7.  Right Mindedness
Discovering the ultimate truths regarding what has been going on, accepting them, and using the new knowledge to act on them.

Bodhi:

“The Buddha says that the Dharma, the ultimate truth of things, is directly visible, timeless, calling out to be approached and seen. He says further that it is always available to us, and that the place where it is to be realized is within oneself. The ultimate truth, the Dharma, is not something mysterious and remote, but the truth of our own experience. It can be reached only by understanding our experience, by penetrating it right through to its foundations. This truth, in order to become liberating truth, has to be known directly.”

This is also echoed in how we start with full body time travel, and evolve (de-volve?) to headtrip travel of the mind.

“Though no fixed order is laid down in which they are to be taken up, the body is generally taken first as the basic sphere of contemplation; the others come into view later, when mindfulness has gained in strength and clarity.”

8.  Right Concentration
All of the various deep thoughts and self analysis that goes on in his inner monologue throughout the novel, as well as the specific “right concentration” required to travel in time.

“Concentration represents an intensification of a mental factor present in every state of consciousness. This factor, one-pointedness of mind (citt’ekaggata), has the function of unifying the other mental factors in the task of cognition. It is the factor responsible for the individuating aspect of consciousness, ensuring that every citta or act of mind remains centered on its object.  Even then its range is still narrower: it does not signify every form of wholesome concentration, but only the intensified concentration that results from a deliberate attempt to raise the mind to a higher, more purified level of awareness.”

————–

Pretty interesting how all of those deeper themes could be embedded into a musically infused time travel adventure, eh?

Guess what?

It’s all a coincidence.

I’d never heard of the 8 truths until I was several drafts into the book, and never consciously tried to modify anything to work them in.

Makes you wonder how many other times works of art or literature are analyzed for deeper hidden meanings that aren’t really there.

Commentary: Prologue (Reprise)

There’s a little epilogue to my tale of sadness.  Originally I used the typical Prologue/Epilogue pairing.  Later I changed them both to Prologue to emphasize that they were sort of the same chapter as told before and after the events of the book.  I didn’t really like losing the song titles as chapter titles theme (though there are numerous songs with titles of “Prologue” and “Epilogue”), but compromised with the parenthetical “reprise” at the end.  Sometimes I think “Encore” would have been better…

Other tidbits:

  • I wrote this chapter out of sequence from the rest, probably just before starting the hospital chapters.
  • According to the old man, the sister never married the “first” time around.  So this new history isn’t actually setting everything back to how it originally was, but instead a third variation.
  • Note that her husband doesn’t have a name, whereas previously Nelson was the only named character in the entire book.  Note also that in the previous chapter the narrator tells us he’s naming Nelson because “hate needs a name.”  Does this mean that she has a different husband, or that her husband is still Nelson but he’s no longer hated?
  • This coda is intentionally ambiguous, and in this final commentary post I’m being intentionally coy.  Without giving too much of my intent away I’ll just say this:  I definitely know how the story ends, but I don’t know if this is actually the end of the story or not since there might be a sequel.  Until that’s decided, either interpretation above is valid.  (Ask me next February 29th and I might change my answer.)
  • There is only one musical reference in this short chapter, hinting at the fact that music may not be a big part of the narrator’s life this time around.

Read Prologue (Reprise) Online

Buy the Paperback

Commentary 26: Across 26 Winters

And we’ve almost come to the end.  Generally speaking, endings are tough.  You need to tie up as many dangling threads as possible, leave the reader satisfied that reading the book was worthwhile, and try to go out on a memorable high note without it feeling abrupt or forced.  Let’s see how I did…

  • So, what happens here?  After the bowling alley meeting in the last chapter, the old man blinked forward to the hospital where the narrator was on the old time machine.  He injected him with the syringe (that he still had in his possession from a version of the experiment in the further future), then grabbed him tightly by the arms to cut off his circulation.  This traps him back in time much like Nelson, but also gives him a little more control over his predicament with the addition of the injection.
  • He wakes up back on his couch with his headphones on, exactly where he was before his second time travel trip back in Chapter 3.  The intent is to tease/suggest that it was all a dream, even though it definitely wasn’t.
  • Being able to switch to the second person after writing everything prior in the first person was very energizing.
  • The original ending used to be very different starting at the point immediately after the narrator hears “Won One” on the radio.
  • Having Nelson on a date with the redheaded girl in a new alternate timeline serves as a reminder that Nelson is still out there, as well as an illustration that the narrator was able to at least partly let go of both of his obsessions.
  • I like the “confident confidant” line, as well as “were my romantic misses actually my missus?”  Ah, wordplay.
  • Couldn’t resist the random “I am somewhere in the city, I am climbing up a fire escape” M. Ward lyric even though it had no bearing on the story.  In an earlier draft I had the entire “I Am” poem here, but realized that was overkill.
  • “Why do I end up in the car so much?” is specifically for Nate Pepper’s benefit.  As I said before, he once pointed out that every story I write has a scene in a car.
  • The “little sister got a boyfriend” line that the narrator remembers is a G. Love lyric from the future relative to when this scene takes place, with the implication being that his future self made him say it previously.
  • I love how the opening lines to the final little section form a neat little triangle/pyramid type shape.
  • The “big reveal” if you want to call it that is the fact that our “narrator” has been secretly writing the entire book to himself from inside his own head and hiding it on a computer.  There are a few hints to this scattered within the text of the earlier chapters.
  • The most interesting place to compare the alternate ending linked above to the actual ending is in the part about the characters not having names.  The first version felt too bitter and vindictive, as if the narrator hadn’t actually learned from his experience.  Here it is a little more subdued.  Yes, he still hates Nelson.  But he realizes that it’s not all that important in the scheme of things, and that it wasn’t all that rational to begin with.  “Maybe it doesn’t really matter in the long run.”  Once he’s learned to let go and not try to have everything both ways, he’s finally free to have a happy ending.
  • “Hate needs a name” is also a possible clue to unlocking the epilogue.
  • I am the walrus.
  • There are 36 known musical references in this chapter.

Read Chapter Twenty-Six Online