There's this story by Theodore Sturgeon, The Dreaming Jewels, I think, where the main character eats ants as a young child, because his body was lacking some kind of nutrient. It felt like that. So I read a bunch of Steven Brust*--not the Taltos stuff--and when I got to the end of The Sun, The Moon, and The Stars (which always puzzled me before), I felt fine.
So--where do my ideas come from? It's not important; they just come. But how do you make them just come? Easy. Every once in a while, your mind and body give you instructions, and you follow them. It's like a deal with the devil, or having vowed to serve a fairy. The problem is that nobody tells you which ideas are the good ones.
I've been thinking of taking November to write a kind of fairy tale in which a girl follows an old railroad -- the tracks are gone -- into a place where mechs are the dominant life form. And I keep thinking...this friend of mine took this black and white picture of a woman staring into a train compartment on a misty day, only it looks like she's staring at her own reflection in the shiny, shiny side of the train, and everything behind her is reflected, too, only there's this big blob hanging over her head, and there's nothing for it to be reflected from. There will probably be sex in the story, too, which makes me all kinds of nervous. How nervous am I? Let me count the ways...
What story am I being steered towards? Why? Who knows?
Notes from the evening:
I'm scared of the last section of the book, which is basically a shootout at the OK Corral. I like the rest of the book, and I think if I don't like the end anymore, I'm going to cry.
A concatenation is a series of interconnected or interdependent things or events. The scene where the book changes from the middle to the end is a concatenation: the following collection of brief snapshots are happening all at pretty much the same time. They don't seem like they have anything to do with each other, but because they're in the same section, they must, o reader, they must.
*I also had to read Pamela Dean's Tam Lin. Great book, the best description of what college felt like that I've ever come across. College is fairyland, didn't you know?
The reason, I think, science fiction is so bad at predicting the future is that it isn't about the future so much as it is a commentary on the present, a commentary that uses ad absurdem as a technique. (Well, not really, but this is a ponder and not a reasonable essay, right? I write down a lot of crap to help me think things out.)
Something I've been pondering lately is RFID. How horrible it could be. How horrible it is already. And I've been thinking about how (supposedly) in medieval times, people thought that if you knew the true name of something, you had power over it, and how, right now, this is very close to the truth.
The problem is that the problem is so close it's hard to make science fiction out of it.
Knowledge is power.
Knowledge wants to be free.
Power wants to be free.
Corruption is free.
- One of the elephants looked like she'd lost a lot of weight.
- The old grandfather bull giraffe had died. He had so many knobblies on his head he looked like his horns had taken sprout, irregularly, almost down to his neck.
- A swirl of budgies (one of whom regaled me with a wolf whistle) has been installed in the naked mole rat area.
- Cotton candy is still good.
It wasn't meant to be bad. The kind of people who come up with these kinds of ideas aren't the kind of people who can mean for them to be used the way they inevitably will be used. Perhaps it's a kind of protection for the human race: the creators can only be duped for so long before they cut off the source of their creativity. Ideas and ideals go together like...well, if I think of something, I'll let you know.
But then someone comes along after them and says, "You know, that shiny thing over there? Now, that would make a great weapon." Or, "a lot of money."
My brother? He's the first type.
Greg's a neuroscientist. A genius. He made this headband that can somehow tell what it is that you most need to do--and then it compels you to do it. Hey, useful stuff, right? Imagine the kind of good you could do if you just put this in the hands of a psychologist. Or a priest. Or a doctor. Anybody, really. Because it doesn't make you do what I (for instance) think you need to do. Just what you need to do. Greg has the prototype. He wears it all the time. Keeps him focused. He doesn't have to worry about stopping to eat, because when it's time, he'll eat. Simple as that. There's no pain or anything. It just makes you.
There are a couple of safeguards built in. It cuts out if you try to something majorly illegal (although not necessarily immoral), like killing someone or yourself, and it can't be preprogrammed or overridden. Failsafe. Foolproof.
I may or may not go on with this...we'll see.
But, in the interest of possibly lessening the suffering of another writer out there...
I'm using a spreadsheet tool to help keep track of things (a tab for characters, another for settings, a third for scenes that also holds all the edits I want to make). Something I've added this time is a column for quotes: the best quotes by a character, the best quotes about a character. It's making all sorts of little things go click nicely.
Our house is a 37, which matches up with what I've been saying: I love everything about our house...except the neighborhood, which is kind of boring.
Normally, this is where Hugin takes over--Thought, you know. But not today. He has something else on his mind: The Filing System of the Gods.
Being Thought, Thought with a Capital T, Hugin likes to read books. Philosophy, physics, calculus...well, sometimes an Enquirer, too. Just for fun. He'd rather peck out eyeballs. But a tabloid is a good, close-second option. Sometimes he musses a page or two, but that's because he's using his beak, and, like all truly thoughtful people, he doesn't really pay attention to what he's doing.
Anyway, one of the books he's read is about memories (lower case) and how to organize them: using a house or some other familiar structure, the memories are associated with mental images--mistletoe with Baldur, maybe--and gathered in rooms.
While the book was speaking (figuratively speaking) figuratively, there shouldn't be any reason it couldn't work literally, too.
The only problem is where...where...
Then a bright idea hits Hugin, and it's such a bright idea that he completely loses his balance and topples off Odin's shoulder with a squawk!
Mugin looks back at him, dangling precariously (and upside-down) from a tangle of Odin's gray hair and dark cloak.
"What--" Caw! "--are you doing?" Caw! Caw! Caw! Munin's laughing so hard he almost drops a fat one on Odin's shoulder.
But then Hugin wraps his wings around himself and starts to cawkle, trying to keep the idea in and shaking so hard he finally does lose his grip and crash to the floor, and Munin begins to almost get frightened...
Check out the cover at the link above. Three figures, each presented in three sections: one has the head of a woman (Queen Victoria), the torso of something resembling an albino frog, and the feet of a dance-hall girl. The other two figures are even stranger and more mismatched. Along with the other elements, I have to say this book is something of an exception to the rule that you can't judge a book by its cover.
The book is supposed to be one of the seminal works the Steampunk sub-genre and this does seem to be the case. However, I do not recommend it for those people whose impression of Steampunk is The Difference Engine and Girl Genius.*
Like I said, book, cover, exception. It was so surreal that it drove me up the wall while I was reading it (too much nonsense, not enough feeling), and it gave me the strangest dreams afterwards. But after I was done, I immediately liked it more than I did while I was reading it. I stopped to look up several of the characters of the stories, which I should have done while I was reading. Now I get the jokes, and the stories are much more amusing in retrospect. And the disorientation less. Decent writing and interesting (if not necessarily likeable) characters.
The book is actually three novellas. My favorite section was the last one, "Walt and Emily," about a meeting between Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and the other side of the veil. DiFillipo seems to have trouble ending stories--I've read some of his short stories, too--and the ending here is very much like his others, disjointed and somewhat trite in that the characters act as expected: superficially. Here, however, that type of ending fits exactly and poignantly.
Very much a case of "if it's the kind of thing you like, you'll probably like it, at least somewhat." It certainly isn't forgettable, and I think it'll last longer than most fiction. A unique experiment. Also, the person who did the cover should have received some kind of award, perhaps "Least Misleading Cover of All Time."
The Coffee Tree is this combination coffee shop/bookstore in Huntsville, pretty much off the beaten path as far as tourists go, and I had high hopes for it. I went in. It was like an old general store, with wainscotting and turned posts and mint-green paint. I was served by a man whose slowness was part of his charm. All the tables were mismatched; there was a sign advising you to watch your step as you entered the bookstore-half of the place; a black, painted iron bell hung over one table. The man talked me into New Orleans-style iced coffee and a chicken salad sandwhich on a croissant, and I sat under the bell.
One part of the room was set off with a half-wall: about twenty ladies, red-hat-clubbers without the hats, were playing mah-johngg. The sound of dimes crashing against the inside of the wooden boxes punctuated the pickety-clack of the tiles.
After a few minutes, the man came up to me, reached over my head, and rang the bell. The women all stopped their games and sang "Happy Birthday" to one of their number, without hesitation. The man brought out a tiny, yellow cake with a single candle, but I don't think the woman stopped to eat it. They were all out of the place within two minutes.
After I'd finished eating, I went over to the bookstore side. It was run by a sloppy-looking man in an identical t-shirt, but his slowness was a matter of
The split personality of the South, n'est-ce pas?
Monte Sano Park is set on top of a hill over Huntsville, high enough over the surrounding area to make my ears pop. To get there, I had to drive past ordinary houses, at least, houses ordinary for Huntsville: brick and wood. How do you make a house in Hunstville? Brick! and Wood! How to you make a different kind of house in Huntsville? Wood! and Brick!
I expected to be driving past the ritzy parts of town, to be honest -- it's been my experience that any kind of state park = nicer houses, or ones that give you the impression of paranoia and inbreeding. Or all of the above. Anyway, I thought I was lost for the longest time, even though I could see the signs, because the houses looked just like every other house I'd seen.
The park was filled with old stone everything. Old stone walls. Old stone buildings. Old stone gates. I drove past a few places until I got to an overlook: and then I had to stop, even though there was nobody around for quite a ways except for a guy in a truck. Not the kind of thing I would worry about, but the air was so hot and heavy and still, and the leaves were so smothering, and the view from the edge was full of quiet hills and still trees and so little else that I felt as if I could scream at the top of my lungs and never be heard, except by the incessantly calling birds. I have no idea what kind of birds they were, but it felt like a Hitchcock movie's worth of them, just out of sight. So anyway it creeped me out that there was a guy with a truck. The truck was running with the windows up, and he was facing away from the edge. There was a cover on the back of the truck, the kind made of heavy plastic with a lock on it, and I could only think you could hide a body back there...
The trails were all marked with space shuttles, and under the enormous trees was a dense underbrush. As with everywhere in Hunstville off the main drag, there was a sense that nothing had changed since 1950 at the latest. At the very latest.
The cover says, "Rich and robust chocolate notes and hints of aromatic coffee." Hm...it's chocolate. Might it possibly have chocolate notes? Gosh! It does!
I'm not really picking up on the coffee hints, unless you're talking about the smell when you roast coffee, which smells mostly like, um, chocolate.
It's difficult to set aside dorky marketing. Puh-lease.
If anything, I would say there are hints of banana behind it all. Not the sweetness of bananas (it's 70% chocolate, after all), but the aftertaste of a slightly green banana. If most of the chocolates I've been eating lately have "earthy" notes to them, this has more accents of greenery, of growing things. It makes me wonder what cocoa plants smell like, in and of themselves. The texture is bloody awful, it's like eating something that's been caked together and dried out rather than melted -- that snap! you get from really good chocolate.
This would make a good baking chocolate, but it's just not decadent. The kind of chocolate you share with an aunt, not a lover. I guess I'm prejudiced -- it's just not what I'm looking for/in the mood for.
"...and afterwards, you all have bagels, right?"
"It would make sense that the official food of juuuu-dooo is bagels."
Silence. I groaned. "That was horrible."
"See? Thank you. At least somebody got it..."
It was at turns interesting and dull, but mostly just amusing. "I have this idea for a book..." she said. But she didn't want to write it, because...she didn't have the time. But she had two hours to talk to me in a coffee shop, eh?
But we had fun bashing Bush. She categorized him as an idiot, pure and simple. "But he's cunning," I said. "Oh, no, it was all Karl Rove," she denied. "He knows how to manipulate people," I countered. And then we got into how $19.2 billion in cash (cash -- shyea, that was a good idea, let's send cash) intended to rebuild infrastructure in Iraq disappeared off a plane coordinated by Cheney's folks...and I say but that's really just a small drop in the bucket, which outrages her to no end: "That's the kind of thing that needs to be stopped! That money could have been invested in improving the water supply!"
Two hours I didn't get any editing done. It truly is an ill wind that blows no good...
Four Jobs I Have Had in My Life:
- Tech Writer
- House Cleaner
- Ass. Man. at Panera
- The Hat Ranch, South Dakota
- Colorado Springs
- West Branch, IA
- Vermillion, SD
- The Princess Bride
- Kung Pow
- Spirited Away
- Kung Fu Hustle
- Food Network
- The collective madness that is Cartoon Network
- Girl Genius (MWF)
- My friends.
- Sha Na Na
- Mac Davis
- Juice Newton
- and...Crystal Gayle. Other musical types didn't come until much, much later.
- The old Mac.
- Several decrepit laptops suitable only for word processing and reluctant to disgorge their contents.
- Various boxes of Frankensteinian nature.
- The current laptop, which has had its power cord replaced twice and its battery replaced once.
- Black Hills
- Corpus Christi
- Santa Fe
- Dallas (a conference at the Gaylord Texan)
- Achtung Baby -- U2
- Ten Thousand Fists -- Disturbed
- Hounds of Love -- Kate Bush
- The Chess Soundtrack
- Fine Cooking
- Rachael Ray
- National Geographic (at my parents' house, in the bathroom, which, I'm sure, has always been annoying, but is less so now that they live in a place with multiple bathrooms)
- Scientific Amer
- VW New Beetle (Mo).
- Chevy Beretta (No name).
- Multiple cars worth, collectively, less than $500.
- Chevy Nova (Lilly).
- Lime green.
- Bruce Willis.
- Tom Waits.
- Joss Whedon.
- William Goldman.
I don't normally like police procedurals. This one is told from the perspective of a journalist who has managed to work his way inside an FBI search for a serial killer and was actually pretty durn enjoyable from that perspective: good characters, quick action, lots of twists...
But. From a writerly perspective, I was so, so, so let down. The premise is that an online network of (homocidal) pedophiles exists, invisibly, exchanging materials, favors, legal advice, etc. The hair on the back of my neck stood up, eh? But the author backs off from the possibilities there, and the killer doesn't really take advantage of the network -- think flash mob, and how a murder could be performed, part by part, by people who have no idea who each other is, where they're from -- a traditional murder mystery. Sigh. Not bad, just not the amazing thing it could have been. I was disappointed.
A Series of Unfortunate Events, by Lemony Snickett.
The first few books of Events were interesting -- morbid kids' books written with a literary and tongue-in-cheek sensibility. But, like a one-trick pony (albeit with a really good trick), they got old around books 6-7 or so, and I told myself I'd get back to them (yawn) when the series had finished.
Well. Imagine my surprise when I picked them up again, and book 9 (The Carniverous Carnival) started to get...deep. One of the villains turns out to be an ally in disguise...or is she? Are the orphans as helpless (or as blameless) as they're supposed to be? It only gets more interesting from there: instead of reacting to the endless attacks from Count Olaf, they begin to take responsibility for their fate. Accidents happen. Choices are made. The game of "who am I, really?" is played.
I'm going to tell you right now, the climax of the series is in The Penultimate Peril, at the (appropriately named) Hotel Denoument. The last book, The End, is a resolution, in which some questions are answered (including one very poignant one you didn't know you had), but most of them are not. It's like the moment when your heart has stopped, and you have the chance to go toward the bright light or come back into the wicked, wicked world.
Very existential. The Plague for children, more subtly written, but the same questions.
Highly recommend listening to the audiobooks, read by Tim Curry.
13 Little Blue Envelopes, by Maureen Johnson.
I'm trying to hold off reading her books; hopefully, she'll write faster.
On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, by Harold McGee.
Fresh, grade A eggs will make more shapely fried and poached eggs. Why? Chicken thighs have more flavor and are more tender than breasts. Why? Whipping cream easier to whip than non-whipping cream. Why? Most sour cream breaks down when you cook it. Why? (And how to find the kind that doesn't.)
I'm only on the meat section, and I'm going to have to take it back to the library eventually. I'll buy a copy at that point. 896 pages of food facts, right down to the organic chemistry level. Excellent...
Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson.
I've seen the movie and read the book now. Another bad adaptation of a pretty decent book. The book, however, was not my thing anyway. A tear-jerker with a hopeful ending. Uhhhhh....okay.
Skinwalker, by Nunzio Defilippis, Christina Weir, Brian Hurtt, and Arthur Dela Cruz.
(Graphic Novel.) Finally, a murder mystery that did not disappoint. Good characters, decent art, good storyline...yay! Another fine playing of the "who am I, really?" game. Explores the Navajo tradition of a "skinwalker," or a particular type of shaman that uses (among other things) the skins of various animals to take on that animal's traits/powers. Another outsider-in-an-FBI-investigation plot, but much less "procedural." The only off thing I have to say about it is the shading was very odd, and I don't know that I liked it. It may just be a new style, though.
1/2 c. turbindo sugar (plus 1/4 c. or so for the top)*
1/2 t. ground fresh nutmeg (totally worth it for this pie)
1/2 c. cream
3 T. flour
3 1/2 c. fresh peach slices
1/2 c. blueberries
Preheat the oven to 400F. Cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.
Mix the cream, sugar, nutmeg, and flour together until blended. Slice the peaches, putting them in the cream mixture to keep them from turning brown. Fill the pie crust with the mixture, then top with the blueberries.
Put the pie on top of the cookie sheet. VITALLY IMPORTANT! Pie juice can be harnessed but never fully restrained!
Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the peaches "give" but are not mushy. Remove from oven. Heat the broiler. Sprinkle the remaining sugar on top of the pie and slip it under the broiler for a minute or two to brown/crystallize the sugar on top of the pie.
Let the pie cool down.
No, really, let the pie cool down.
Yeah, burned your finger, didn't you? Just LEAVE IT ALONE!
Serve with real whipped cream.
*Why? Because it gives the pie just a little bit of a caramel taste.
He has a very tiny sneeze, and he watched a lot of guinea-pig TV with Lee but was completely uninterested in blogs when I held him.
Your Result: Literature Nerd
Does sitting by a nice cozy fire, with a cup of hot tea/chocolate, and a book you can read for hours even when your eyes grow red and dry and you look sort of scary sitting there with your insomniac appearance? Then you fit this category perfectly! You love the power of the written word and it's eloquence; and you may like to read/write poetry or novels. You contribute to the smart people of today's society, however you can probably be overly-critical of works. It's okay. I understand.
...Note: A quick and stingy estimation of the contents of the library shows we may have around 1000 books, not counting Ray's.
Of or pertaining to the leap year or the extra day in the leap year.
[From Latin bisextilis annus (leap year), from Latin bissextus (February
29: leap day), from bi- (two) + sextus (sixth), from the fact that the
sixth day before the Calends of March (February 24) appeared twice every
-Anu Garg (words at wordsmith.org)
That gets me thinking (although I'm not yet 40). So here are five things I wish I'd known.
- Beer comes in flavors.
- Hollywood produces hype better than they produce entertainment.
- Most television news is entertainment disguised as "the public's right to know."
- Even as black is made up of all colors, it is possible to wear colors other than black and still carry that little bit of coolio protection around with you.
- Being angry is usually a waste of time. So is wringing your hands, beating your head against the wall, shyness, writer's block...
- "Gentleman" may be a dirty word, but only because people perverted what it means to actually be one -- from being fair (and more than fair) to opening doors and expecting sexual flirtation as payback (yes, "Gentlemen" will watch your butt go by as you walk past them). "Lady" pretty much works the same way.
- Figuring stuff out is hard. People are hypocrites -- because it's so hard. It's okay to love them anyway. After all, some of them love you.
- When it comes to boys, there's a fine line between "jackass" and "dull." That's where all the interesting boys are, not out in "I'm too sexy/cool/freaky" land.
"We created DailyLit because we spent hours each day on email but could not find the time to read a book. Now the books come to us by email. Problem solved."
Lots of the classics, naturally (they're in the public domain), but also some modern stuff that was released under the Creative Commons liscence. Coool.
However, the beautiful purple peppers that I picked up (only two) at the farmer's market last week turned WHITE!
Ray goes to school in the morning. Mondays, school doesn't start until 9:40. Why this is, I do not know. It often seems that choices made by the school are tests, to determine whether you are actually determined to be a good parent, or just pretending, because being a good parent is all about jumping through multiple hoops with the enthusiasm of a Yorkie.
Behold the Oracle's wisdom:
Personality type: Freak
No person of sound mind would go to an EXPENSIVE COFFEE SHOP to get a drink WITHOUT CAFFEINE. Your hobbies include going to ski resorts in the summer and flushing $5 bills down the toilet. You are a menace to society.
Also drinks: Non-alcoholic beer
Can also be found at: Pools with no water
Bela Lugosi's Dead -- Bauhaus.
Lost Souls -- Joy Division (Okay, okay, call Joy Division whatever type of music you want. But it was goth too.)
Alice -- Sisters of Mercy
Next morning: Dude. Dead Souls. I had the weirdest dreams last night, too.
|Your Harry Potter Alter Ego Is...?|
|You scored as a Sirius Black|
|You are a gifted wizard and very loyal to your allegiance. Whilst you have a big heart and care very much about those around you, you can be a little arrogant and reckless at times.|