Dec 27, 2011

Illness of the Greatest Master

November of every year is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. For those unaware, NaNoWriMo is a personal challenge with hundreds of thousands of participants, in which your goal is to write a novel containing at least 50,000 words over the course of November. You win if you complete your novel; your prize is the book that you just wrote. I've never considered myself to be much of a writer, particularly not for something of such a grand scale, but this year I had a few friends who were planning to participate, so I figured I might as well try it out.

At 10:00 PM on October 31, two hours before NaNoWriMo would officially begin, I had no plans for my novel. I was scrambling to try to figure out even the vaguest semblance of a plot, or even a genre or general style. I ultimately decided to take my efforts to the realm of the unknown: I would stitch together my title one word at a time, via a random word generator, and figure out my plot from there. After finding a generator that allowed me to choose the part of speech, I tried out a few different templates: "the <noun>'s <adjective> <noun>," for example, and "the <adjective> <noun> <verb>s." After creating a dozen-odd titles, I finally found the one: Illness of the Greatest Master.

At my friend Evan's suggestion, illness was to refer not to a disease, but rather to the more colloquial ill; e.g., "yo, that be so ill." Obviously, I was going to be writing a street novel, complete with all the hip lingo.

I don't know who this is, but my November was
expected to be filled with good folks like him.
Next part of the title: the Greatest Master. It should be noted that there wasn't just one master; we were talking about the greatest master. There was more than one. But where do you draw the line? What defines who is a "master"? Logically, there had to be some sort of a ranking system.

So, to put two and two together: my novel was going to be about a society of rappers, and your position in this society was determined by your rapping ability. Poor rappers would be but measly peons, while the finest lyricists would be the aristocrats. And the finest lyricist of them all was, of course, the Greatest Master.

Specifically, my novel would be a rags-to-riches story. It would start with this poor white kid without a penny to his name, who accidentally stumbles upon this society and learns how to rap. He starts out at the bottom, but slowly learns his lessons, out-rapping the others one-by-one until he would eventually become the Greatest Master, and essentially run the world.

The second the clock struck midnight, I hit the ground running, not stopping until I was at 2000 words. After day 3, I was just over 5,000 words in, leaving my novel slightly ahead of schedule. My main character had just found the local meeting place of this rapper society, and was observing the way things run. I realized that it was that time, that inevitable moment, when I would have to write my first rap.
I don't know who this person is either, but it was starting to look
like my November would more realistically be filled with a lot of this guy.
After putting off the rap for a fair while, I finally sat down muscled through. I tried to think about things that the rapper type like. The individual performing this rap was named Diesel (referred to as DZ, more often pronounced "Deez"). I figured that was probably the name of a guy who liked cars a lot. Due to the conversation that he had just had before performing, it was evident that he also enjoyed to recreationally smoke cannabis. So logically, I had to write a rap about cars and weed.

Oh good. The two topics I knew the least about, in a language that I had no idea how to write.

I managed to power through, writing a rhythmically passable ode to marijuana, sprinkled liberally with your choice of colorful language. By that point, I was at 5,562 words. I never got around to continuing. That rap was the last thing I wrote.

Due to a tragic hard drive crash, I no longer possess my novel, which is quite a shame, because there were some parts of which I was rather proud. But I have, forever engraved in my past, the fact that I have written a rap about cars and weed.

Dec 23, 2011

Greg Edelston, Age 9: Internet Connoisseur

So when I was 9, I spent a fair amount of time on GameFAQs. For those unaware, GameFAQs is a game discussion website, with walkthroughs, cheats, general game info, and message boards. 9-year-old Greg loved the message boards for the game Golden Sun. He would spend a fair amount of time each day reading the fora, contributing to discussion, answering questions, playing forum games, and just generally having a raucous good time.

After a hefty amount of time on these boards, some higher-up saw it fit to make me into a moderator. Obviously, my 9-year-old contributions were profound enough to mark me as one of the community's top contributors. At least, enough so that the administrators and whatever other powers that may be decided to make me a moderator.

As it happens, it's actually a pretty big honor to get modded. Not just anyone can become a mod. But I didn't know that at the time, and thus didn't go about bragging.

By virtue of being a mod, I was endowed with some powers. My favorite modly activity was to review recent punishments. I could see what an offending post was, and decide whether it was "too lenient," "far too lenient," "too strict," "far too strict," or "just right." Problem was, I didn't really know what the word "lenient" meant.

But I was a smart cookie. I knew what "strict" meant, and could extrapolate. Problem: solved. ...Sort of. Unfortunately, despite being able to work past my first roadblock, I was somehow unable to figure out the grander scheme of the process. My 9-year-old brain registered "too lenient" as "should be more lenient," and "too strict" as "should be more strict." Also, sometimes I would just get bored, not want to read the entire post, and just choose whichever option I hadn't chosen in a fairly long while. So, uh, I apologize to the several dozen people who received grossly unfair punishments as a result of my actions.

But alas, soon would my day come. One fateful day, there was a thread created by some 20-something-year-old, asking whether he was too old to be playing video games. In flooded the adults: 25-, 30-, and 40- year olds, all professing the pleasure they find in video games and taking recourse in the fact that they weren't the only ones. For whatever reason, I thought it was appropriate to chip in my two cents: "I'm only 9, but I don't think there's anything wrong with playing video games at any age."

Turns out, you're required to be at least 13 years old in order to have an account.

And from that day forward, the moderator account i_like_cheese was no longer present on GameFAQs.

Dec 21, 2011


It was about a month into my first semester of college. So we're talking a fair ways back. The night of October 3rd, specifically. I was approached by the rather-silly Charley Goddard at a little after 2:00 in the morning: "Greg, you seem like the kind of man who would be interested in eating things at silly hours. Might I interest you in a 5-5-5?" Goddard could not have been more correct; 2 AM was the prime time for some eating.

I asked for a little more detail, unfamiliar to the whole 5-5-5 concept. I had never ordered pizza on my own before. Apparently, Dominos is open into the wee hours of the morning, and they have this sweet deal where you can order three medium pizzas for $5 apiece. Pretty sweet deal. I asked if I could get toppings on my $5 pizza; Goddard said of course.

What he said: I would get a $5 pizza, and if I wanted to, I could buy toppings for it.

What I heard: I would pay $5, and receive a pizza with however many toppings I wanted.

To me, this didn't sound like much of a question at all. If I'm paying a flat fee of $5, I may as well get my money's worth and order as many toppings as I possibly can, right? So I navigated over to the Dominos website and started planning.

After a significant amount of thought, here was the pizza that I had planned:

  • Sliced Italian sausage
  • Philly steak (light, left)
  • Ham (light, left)
  • Feta cheese
  • Shredded Parmesan Asiago
  • Shredded provolone
  • Garlic (light, right)
  • Mushrooms (light, right)
  • Pineapple (extra)
  • Onions
  • Roasted peppers (right)
  • Diced tomatoes (light, left)
This was going to be the ideal pizza. It was like two meals in one. Like, I could have a 2 AM pizza dinner, and also I could have a 2AM meat-and-other-fix-ins feast, and also I could do both of those things at the same time. What could possibly go wrong?

Goddard placed the order: three medium pizzas. The first pizza would have light sausage. The second would have no sauce; just dough and cheese. The third would have sausage, steak, ham, feta cheese, Parmesan, provolone, garlic, mushrooms, pineapple, onions, peppers, and diced tomatoes.

My $5 pizza cost $16.

As in, my pizza alone cost more than a typical 5-5-5.

Turns out, they charge for toppings.

The guy actually called us back a minute later to make sure that we were sure we ordered what we wanted. Apparently, it's a little funny to order a pizza without sauce. My pizza was totally fine and normal; one of the others just seemed a little quirky.

Time passed; the pizzas arrived. I could finally taste the glory that was twelve different toppings. $16 totally well spent.

I sold two of the slices to friends at $2 apiece to make myself feel better about wasting $16. Overall, delicious, but not worth $16.

Maybe if they didn't forget the pineapple it would have been better.