Neil Gaiman.

Via his website:

And our bizarre but oracular word for today is gyromancy - 1557, from M.L. gyromantia, from Gk. gyyros "circle" + manteia "divination, oracle." "A method of divination by walking in a circle till the person fell down from dizziness, the inference being drawn from the place in the circle at which he fell."

Lee notes that Rachel practices gyromancy all the time.
Cute stuff of the day.

I decided to take a bath. For me to take a bath, rather than us, I must close the bathroom door. Ray stood outside the door and hollered for a couple of minutes. About half an hour later, I heard water running. Hm de hm. More water running--more than you'd need to flush the toilet. Hm de hm. Better go check. I peel myself out of the tub (the bubbles hadn't popped yet), walked into the other bathroom.

Our daughter sat in the sink with the cold water running. I think she meant to take her own damn bath, but the water was too cold and she was too scared to climb back out. As soon as I stopped laughing....
Book. A possible title: The Gods of Grey Hill. Currently on page 92. For some reason, the plot seems to be going the direction I had originally planned for it...it's like it's come around full circle. Hah! Like it's going to stay that way.
The secret of good pastry dough.

Cold. Everything must be cold. Keep your butter in the freezer and shred it with a serrated knife. A high proportion of butter is important: a stick of butter, a cup of flour. I hate shortening pie crust. Mmm. Butter. And let the dough rest in the fridge for an hour before you try to roll it, or else it'll keep shrinking on you.

I made tarte tartin. Did I spell that right? And shepherd's pie. Hah. Chicken pot pie, here I come.

Laugh and you don't get to eat at my house.
Reviews. Being thusly a slow De-newsweek, I present to you some reviews:

The Riddle-Master of Hed series, by Patricia McKillip.
Door Number Three, by Patrick O'Brien
Golden Witchbreed, by Mary Gentle
Wizard's First Rule, by Terry Goodkind

The Riddle-Master of Hed Series.

I'm trying to catch up on some classic fantasy. Maybe I'm just in a mood to be snarky, because I certainly gobbled this series up in two days, but if this is classic fantasy, I'm done with classic fantasy. It wasn't bad. It makes Robert Jordan seem just as pointlessly overdescriptive as he is. It's fast. Plot twists galore. --But to what point? The best fantasy in the epic mode, like Tolkein's Middle-Earth or (don't care, Doyce) Stephen R. Donaldson's Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, has a point. The world has changed, but it could have been much, much worse. The things you place your hopes in sometimes cause you to become something you hate. Don't litter. Things like that. So what's the point of this book? For those who don't need a point--or those who don't need a point this time--these are pretty decent jellybeans.

Door Number Three

If psychoanalysis bothers you, don't read this book. If reading a first novel bothers you, don't read this book. If you like to read the way a writer arranges words on a page, ah, then. Read this book. The main premise--the narrator becomes unstuck in time, flashing through his memories, possibly able to change them--only comes into play for a few chapters. Other plot elements are similarly underused--the aliens, the end of the world, the fractal biology leading to square nipples. But.

Golden Witchbreed

Is this fantasy or sci fi? If you use a spaceship to get to a fantasy world, what does that make it? And if the fantasy world is a post-holocaust culture? You want to say sci fi, you really do, but you can't. It feels like a fantasy...where have I had this feeling before? Oh, yeah! Marion Zimmer Bradley! --People gave all sorts of blurbs comparing this to Ursula K. LeGuin, but I can't stand her stuff, so screw that. This a novel (and, I guess, a series?) that Darkover fans may like--not as melodramatic, emotionally, but just as satisfying.

Wizard's First Rule

The first rule goes like this: People are stupid. Weird book. For the first four hundred pages or so, it fit pretty much all of my preconceptions of a cheesy fantasy novel. Then everything changes. It's like the writer hit a point where he had nothing else planned, or for some reason couldn't continue in the direction he thought he was going. The writing is on an average to slightly better than average level, but I'd recommend this book to a lot of people who don't read fantasies like they were crack based on that last hundred and fifty pages or so: something out of his subconscious took over, and the book takes life in a way that most of the crap out there never will. Suddenly, cheesy fantasy turns into a good Stephen King fantasy, deep, archetypal, and leaving nobody whole. Well, I liked it. I don't know if I'll race out and get the rest of the series (I'm afraid he'll go back to planning mode), but I'll be hoping for those moments of spontaneous inspiration, so I'll probably read the rest of them eventually.


Hm. Lots of flyovers in Colorado Springs today.


Yello. There's just something about them that makes Ray laugh out loud. Oh, yeah....


More plain old just news. Reminds me of a Terry Pratchett line: "What they want is olds."

It snowed here. We have about a foot of snow all around the house. --Apparently, the further north you go, the worse it gets. As it is, most of the bitching around here (as opposed to Denver) appears to be mere freaking out by people that a) like to freak out or b) don't do much driving in the snow. It's cruel of me, I know, but now is hardly the time to get melodramatic in Colorado Springs. Maybe Manitou is a better place to get melodramatic. Or Monument. I'm glad the schools are closed, don't get me wrong--the last thing you want is a bunch of kids driving around or a bunch of kids being driven around in this stuff. And snow days are a good thing.

I'm glad I didn't sow the wildflowers, though.

We only had seven people out of twenty-two show up this morning, and we were the most staffed department in the building, according to a couple of the directors. The site shut down yesterday at four, so All Hell Has Broken Loose on the second mortgage front. So I went in to work, and I'm still looking at a mandatory Saturday. But there you go.

This morning, Lee and Ray got up as usual. Ray tried to turn on the TV, which wasn't working for some reason, walked over to Lee and babbled at him for a moment, went back to the TV, tried to turn it on again and couldn't. Then she marched right up to Mr. Lee, Her FATHER, the man in charge of morning cartoons, and said, "EHMO!"


Quick Notes. There's a monster cold going around our house; Ray sounds terrible and Lee doesn't sound much better. As for me, well, I'm fine. The yard is about 75% ready for flowers, but it's supposed to snow sometime this week, so I'll wait and fiddle with the fiddly things. The story is moving, albeit slowly; I'm trying to figure out how to cover a lot of information that doesn't turn me on to write. Turn it into scenes? Do a flashback? Let the main character run over it in his mind while trying to figure something else out? All these things sound practical but personally uninteresting. So I'm thinking...how do I get from here to the cool parts? Or else, how do I turn this into a cool part? Hm. My workplace newsletter-writing capacity has expanded, and I have permission to do some work on it at home again. This is good, because I don't have time for anything at work this week or next; the person that works with me full-time is out training a new crew in Phoenix, so we have 40% of the mogul-hours that we normally have. Bitch, bitch, bitch. Well, after she's done, life will be better, since a good number of files are going to shunt off the workload, which is getting overheavy already, and it's not even summer. Jesus! Didn't you know it's a bad economy? Why the hell are y'all buying houses?

Oh, yeah. The fed may drop the rate again.

The plans are somehow to get back to SD for Easter--don't ask me how at this point. Ray is more cute than ever, making the transition into two-ness a little early (but we knew she was bright), and learning how to walk with mamma and dad holding hands. We went to Garden of the Gods yesterday and putzed around on the trails...we followed horses around. I could just see the look on her face: "Mamma, those are the biggest @#$@#$ dogs I've ever seeeeeeeeeeen." I could tell she thought they were dogs by the way she barked at them.


Blog vs. Yard. Sorry. The yard's been calling. 1) Nothing is wrong. 2) Although I can't think of any stupid jokes off the top of my head. 3) But one's bound to hit me eventually.


Joke. Via Joe.

An engineer walks up to the gates of heaven, but St. Peter says, "I don't see you on the guest list, so I can't let you in." The engineer shrugs, goes to hell, gets in (of course), and starts rebuilding the place, with air conditioning, etc. God finds out about this and says, "Hey! Satan! What are you doing with an engineer down there? He's supposed to be up here, working for me!" Satan says, "Too bad, God; he's mine now. We'll be attracting all the best techs soon!" And he laughs evilly.

God says, "Well, if you aren't going to just give him back, I'll...I'lll..."

Satan says, "You'll do what?"

God says, "I'll sue!"

Satan says, "...And where are you getting a lawyer?"


I retroactively dedicate this joke to Mike. If only he were truly blond.
Note to self: (I'm working, very slowly, on learning HTML etc. The answer to your question is: yes, eventually, now bugger off.) Free clip-art for practice: The Free Graphics Store. project is trying to complile reviews of books and recommendations. A worthy project...demaning more shelf-space, of course.

Note: I already found a series I want to read: Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer. The reviewer said, "Artemis Fowl is the Harry Potter of the fairy world although more scheming, devious and cunning." Hm.
Review. The Man of Maybe Half-a-Dozen Faces, by Ray Vukcevich.

Oh. I just checked this on Amazon, and it's out of print. This is a crime. I picked this up at the East Library in Colorado Springs, which has a permanent library sale room, and has become my tiny little used-book store of choice. The selection is both small and varied enough that you can cover the whole range, instead of lurking in a single section, or spending two hours to find the treasure of the day.

The Man... is a mystery novel, but not so much a mystery novel as it is a playful book. The obvious connection is Jonathan Lethem's Motherless Brooklyn. Another good one is the Lemony Snickett's Series of Unfortunate Events. Does that make sense? The books are all mysteries, in a technical sense, but they spend more time pushing the boundaries of plot and character than they do with the mystery itself. In Motherless Brooklyn, the narrator is the crony of a dead man with connections to the underworld--and has turrett's syndrome. In the Series..., the narrator is the "author," a man in hiding, pining over his lost love Beatrice, and reporting with Marvin-the-Robot optimism the fates of the three siblings.

The Man of Maybe Half-a-Dozen Faces's narrator is a detective with multiple personality disorder. He's investigating the deaths of bad technical documentation writers in Eugene, Oregon. He's been hired by a woman who may or may not also be her brother; she was recommended by a Russian man, part of the same (Secret) Brotherhood of Documentalists, and a member of the detective's support group for tap-dancing addicts. --What makes the multiple personality thing so much more than just another clever schtick is that everyone has multiple identities, both online and off, and everyone has problems keeping them separate.

Mysteries, for some reason, can really put a finger on the times: just as Sam Spade (et al) reflected the additudes of people that lived through the World Wars, some of the newer mystery writers deal better with the newer elements of culture--like here, the internet and information age--than so-called literary writers. And, despite bragging to the contrary, even science fiction writers.

And the book passes my highest criteria, the flip test: any given paragraph will suck you in.

"Okay, the flash was a dumb mistake, but we learn from our mistakes. When things get too automatic there's usually trouble. Put it on the to-do list--get a simpler camera. Lulu pushed open one of the stalls and went inside, closing the door behind her. Looked around. This would have to do. She didn't sit down.

We took a deep breath. We took a bunch of deep breaths. We waited ten minutes.

Lulu peeked out into the bar, but the angle of the door was wrong, so she couldn't see much. We couldn't hide in the ladies' room forever..."


LOTR II. Joe and I went to the Two Towers at the IMAX.

War. Probably I should just keep my mouth shut, but there you go.

I'd like to accomplish the supposed goals that the Iraqi war would attempt to accomplish. I think Saddam--if not just a frontman for larger interests--has been trying to undermine UN authority for decades; I think his efforts are escalating; I think it's probable that he's attempting to build weapons specifically to cause civilian damage. This should stop.

If we had competent leadership in this country, war might not be necessary. I think Bush has played into Saddam and terrorist hands in domestic and foreign policy, taking an additude of "my way or the highway" and "good vs. evil" at a time when this can only provoke dissent among our allies and citizens. What should be happening? It should be obvious that Saddam has been undermining UN authority: all states in the UN not allied with Saddam should be dead-set against him. Instead, it looks like Saddam undermines UN authority, but the US undermines it more. It should be obvious that Saddam oppresses his people. Instead, we have people who think Bush is more oppressive than Saddam and are willing to die on that basis.

I agree that something must be done and done soon. It may even be war.

Bush II is a fool who listens to fools (a good bit of the time) and appoints fools to positions of power. Take a moment and imagine Colin Powell--if we have to have a republican--as president. Would we be here? Would we look like--and in some areas, be the bad guys?

Probably not.


Note to self: The SF Site best books of the year are here.


Review. Daredevil. Screw it. Don't call it a review; it's just a ramble I'm typing out while my sinusus prevent me from thinking straight.

In order to get out of the house for a bit last night, I went to Daredevil. I haven't read the comics, shame on me. I tell you right off it was bad, although renting it when it comes out on video may be not quite the waste watching it in a theater was, because the villains were fun.

The writing was bad. --Don't get me wrong, some of the character notes were very good, but, since the plot didn't support them, they fizzled out and went away. There's something about formula writing. Good formula writing sucks you in, drags you down, and makes you buy shit. Take any Hanna Barbera cartoon. Awful stuff--but who doesn't love the Flintstones? Or Scooby, for that matter? The script to this movie was a bad parody of bad formula writing. The elements of a comic-book script lay there in separate moments, unconnected to each other: that's someting else about formula writing. Connections. One thing happens after another, so smoothly sometimes that you're not really sure how the characters wandered into such a screwed-up situation. And a sense of balance. In formula writing, the expected happens in an emotionally fulfilling (read: tear jerking) sort of way. Elements that are strong in the beginning must be wrapped up at the end, unless there's a sequel. All elements must be explained--at least, as to the superficial reason why they are a part of the story. For example, your main character's life doesn't just revolve around churches without more of an explanation than that his name is "Daredevil." The story of the history of how the superhero came to be must contain, like a mystery, all the elements that will resolve themselves in the ending. --And the moral of the story isn't just something that you tack on the end. It's a plot device at least one step up from the deus ex machina becuase it runs through the entire plot: character does bad things. Character faces a dilemma in which the bad things he does conflict with something he values. This dilemma may have a simple resolution, but it may not be easily solved, i.e., there has to be a lot of exciting adventure that allows the hero to work his way out of the dilemma although the solution may be as simple as "just stop doing the bad stuff." Then, and this is important, the character's behavior has to change. --Or else, if the character is carefully balanced just outside doing bad stuff, the character may work very hard to remain in the balance, like Batman. Daredevil, in this flick, follows all the classic steps, except for the part where he really changes a damn thing he's doing. Because it never was set up that the Daredevil does act just like the thugs he hates, he's never really redeems when he supposedly stops acting like them. And does he ever stop acting like one? Ugh. Anyway, I'll shut up now.


Some links.

This is bad. One of my purposes here has been to focus on original content, and here I am, putting up words and now...links. Well.

Librarian Pick-up lines.
"My mom was a librarian, she taught me everyone should have access to my stacks."

Via Bookslut. My kinda place.

And more on the unrelated-to-sex sexual naming theme:


You can purchase thong underwear with a porcini mushroom on it.