Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Happy Duan Wu Jie!

I don't know how this one snuck up on me, but today's the Chinese Dragon Boat Festival!
Officially on falling on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, the Dragon Boat Festival is also known as Double Fifth Day. While many stories regarding its origin abound, the most popular and widely accepted version regards Qu Yuan, a minister during the Warring States Period (475 - 221 BC).

And who was this Qu Yuan, and why does he merit such a spiffy holiday held in his honor?
Qu Yuan served as minister to the Zhou Emperor. A wise and articulate man, he was loved by the common people. He did much to fight against the rampant corruption that plagued the court-- thereby earning the envy and fear of other officials. Therefore, when he urged the emperor to avoid conflict with the Qin Kingdom, the officials pressured the Emperor to have him removed from service. In exile, he traveled, taught and wrote for several years. Hearing that the Zhou had been defeated by the Qin, he fell into despair and threw himself into the Milou River. His last poem reads:

Many a heavy sigh I have in my despair,
Grieving that I was born in such an unlucky time.
I yoked a team of jade dragons to a phoenix chariot,
And waited for the wind to come,
to sour up on my journey

As he was so loved by the people, fishermen rushed out in long boats, beating drums to scare the fish away, and throwing zong zi into the water to feed braver fish so that they would not eat Qu Yuan's body.

This probably goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway: Who knew?

Now Playing: Aerosmith Golden Rocks

If Gibberish is my 'platform' I'm in BIG trouble

Via Bill Crider, an interesting article on the vogue marketing phenomenon sweeping publishing known as "The Platform":
“In almost any conversation around any book, the thing publishers are trying to suss out, in addition to content, is platform,” said Todd Shuster of the Zachary Shuster Harmsworth literary agency. “The first thing that matters is the content, but after that—the conventional wisdom is that word of mouth will make it successful in the marketplace. Competing as No. 1 publicity marketing criterion for publishers these days are platform and prior sales.”

An author’s disappointing prior sales can be a book deal’s undoing. The sense with a platform, however, is that at least the author has some built-in readership—a “community” to which he or she can peddle the book (writ large: Oprah Winfrey, platform incarnate; writ small: bloggers selling novels). Then, at least, “you don’t have to work so hard,” said one publishing executive who requested anonymity. “That’s the problem in publishing these days—trying to get anybody to pay attention. If you’ve got a platform, at least those people will pay attention.”

I've always known I'd have to play the role of publicity whore to have any hope of a successful writing career, and I got to test the waters with my Voices of Vision signings. I always introduced myself to the bookstore personnel as "your dancing monkey for the evening." Steady publicity, appearances and blogging were going to be the thing that gave me an edge in the marketplace, but now it looks as if I'll need those in order to merely tread water.

Now Playing: Aerosmith Permanent Vacation

Tuesday writing

I did not do any work on the novel last night. Instead, I revisited "Y.V. 7650.1," a short story that's had a long and difficult evolution, finishing up a much-needed edit I'd been putting off for months. Then I sent it on its merry way to Jetse over at Interzone. It's as unpleasant a piece as I've ever done, with more graphic violence and sex than anything other story I've written. I actually got the idea for it way back in college, when it would've made a pretty dramatic statement, not to mention an original one. But the intervening years have quietly stolen some of its thunder. It's taken me close to 15 years and no fewer than four very different takes on the material to even come close to readability, because my writing skills were woefully overmatched by this one. And even now I'm not convinced it works on any level. But hey, that's what the editors are there for, right?

Well, that's enough of an interlude. Tonight, it's back to Wetsilver.

Now Playing: Aerosmith Just Push Play

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Da Vinci post-mortem

Lisa and I went to see The Da Vinci Code Sunday, and were amused greatly by the priest telling the parishoners during mass that no good Catholic should ever, ever see The Da Vinci Code or read the book. I told Lisa I should be so lucky to have the Catholic Church denounce my book--I'd rocket right up the bestseller lists. Lisa promised to write irate letters to the Archbishop when my novel comes out, so that made me feel better.

As for the movie itself, eh. Apart from some truly abyssmal history--and I don't know if I can blame that on the book or the filmmakers--it was generally an entertaining conspiracy thriller. Except for the final 30 minutes or so. Geeze Louise, but was that thing ever going to end? "Yeah, yeah, yeah, we get it: Tom Hanks' investigating partner just happens to be the last living descendent of Christ. Roll credits already!"

Personally, I think any religion that is so fragile as to be seriously threatened by a film/book such as this doesn't deserve to exist. And people so dumb as to be taken in by a film/book such as this don't deserve to exist, either. So by my scorecard, it's a wash.

Now Playing: Jerry Jeff Walker Viva Terlingua!

Productive weekend

To my shock and amazement, I did a significant amount of writing over the Memorial Day weekend. More than 3,000 words. That's fantastic, because weekends are normally lost for me as far as writing goes, with way too much family stuff going on to squeeze in any writing time. Anything I get done on the weekends counts as a bonus.
A blurt of laughter cut him off. "Our Gauthier is right now hiding under the bed in his cell, praying that I don't come 'round to visit him once I'm done with you. The only arse Gauthier looks out for is his own."

"Th-that's not true," Jachym said, backing away. "He came for me tonight, when I was hobbled. There were Lidozrout."

"Lidozrout, you say?" Burgh's hand shot out, lighting quick, fingers digging into Jachym's shoulder. "If there really were Lidozrout out there, and they'd gotten you while you were in Gauthier's charge, you know what would've happened?"

Burgh pulled him close, beard scratching against Jachym's face, and whispered into his ear. "Your ten years would've gone to Gauthier. Think he came back outta the goodness of his heart, now?"

Jachym's pretty much hit rock bottom at this point. He's got a whole heck of a lot of challenges awaiting him, and his life is about to get far more interesting than he even has the capacity to imagine, but at least it doesn't get any worse for him. Although I suspect Jachym would take little comfort in that.

Now Playing: Don Williams 20 Greatest Hits

Monday, May 29, 2006

Why I suck at Trivial Pursuit

If you were in Prague and for some reason found yourself in need of a hookah, you'd ask for a "vodní dýmka." Such knowledge, I can assure you, will never, ever be required during a game of Trivial Pursuit.

Now Playing: Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo de Silos Chant

Friday, May 26, 2006

Novel progress

Met my writing targets for last night, finished the chapter and moved on to the next. Yay! For someone who is as easily distracted as I am by any excuse not to write, this week has been an amazing success story. Here's a passage from the fruits of my sleepless labor:
"You were close to being freeholden?"

Jachym nodded. "In the s-spring."

"Gads, your parents must be real greedgrubbers," Gauthier said, shaking his head. His expression softened. "What'd you do to make them hate you so?"

"I don't know," Jachym answered. "I worked hard for them. Harder, after the floods. Matka and Otec didn't bond me last year, even when the drought got so bad that the river dried up and you could walk across and not get your feet wet. I never thought my parents would bond me. Our crops died. We had to sell our goats to buy bread. So this year the rains came. And never ended. Tvůrce is a twisted sort of god, if that's the way he answers prayers."

"No younger brother they could've bonded instead?"

"Two sisters. Ama and Dru. They're twelve and ten," Jachym said, tears welling in his eyes again. "Matka says there aren't enough girls in Neu Breclav, so they'll bring a good bride-price in a few years."

Gauthier whistled lowly. "Gads, you never had a chance."

"I wish they were dead. Let Tvůrce deliver that prayer."

I know my production is going to drop off at a certain point, because right now I'm covering ground that I've plowed before, so to speak. I'd love to be cranking out 2,000-plus words a night, but that's not something I'm capable of as a writer. At least, not when I'm having to stay up past 1 in the a.m. to achieve the current production levels. I'm pretty darn bleary in the mornings these days.

Now Playing: Smithfield Fair Winds of Time

Thursday, May 25, 2006

It's Picacio day at the blog!

Now, I'd be hard-pressed to argue that John Picacio doesn't deserve a blog entry devoted to him on the basis of sheer physical beauty alone... so I won't. Nope, no mock-modesty Harrison Bergeron shtick here. Be proud of who you are, John! Be proud!

But that's neither here nor there. I come here today to praise John Picacio, not to taunt him. Because today marks the official release of Cover Story: The Art of John Picacio from MonkeyBrain:

It's chok-full of artwork that is simply beee-you-teeful. If you buy only one artbook this year, make it this one.

But John's also interviewed in this month's issue of Interzone. The only fault I can find with it is that the interview wasn't conducted by me. But then again, I'm not really doing interviews these days, so that might have something to do with it. Steve Badrich does a good job of getting interesting stuff out of Picacio, particularly when it comes to the actual physical process of creation:
Old-school guy that I am, I assume that I'm looking at computer-mediated works, not at oil on canvas, let's say. Is that correct?

Not quite. The truth is that I'm drawing and painting everything you see via traditional methods and means, and then taking those bits to the computer and scanning them in and collaging them together. Drawing and painting are two things I love to do, but I'm not interested in doing either with a computer and a keyboard. So everything you see on my covers starts off as pencils on illustration board and I usually build up a pretty tight underdrawing. The I spot all of my solid black areas in acrylic. From here, I do a full greyscale oil painting study on top of that, using only black, white and grey oil paints, and that's where all the values come from in the final piece. This is not new stuff. This is old Renaissance method. Rembrandt used to do a greyscale oil underpainting and then build up his color values on top.

Great stuff. Read the interview if you can, but by all means, buy that book!

Now Playing: Tom Petty Wildflowers

Good writing

Exceeded my goal for writing 1,000 words last night. Granted, there were some pre-existing passages from earlier drafts that I was able to incorporate into the narrative, so that wasn't 100 percent new copy. Even so, anyone who's ever written knows that the effort involved in making older copy mesh seamlessly with newer can be as challenging as anything. At any rate, I'm encouraged and hope to finish the current chapter tonight.

Now Playing: Jimmy Page & Robert Plant No Quarter

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Bad times for Jachym

Talk about biting off more than you can chew. I've got a couple of short stories in need of work. There are three reviews I've committed to writing but haven't yet started. The follow-up to Voices of Vision is sitting there, waiting patiently for my attention. And that's not even counting the radio script and viking longboat article I've been monkeying around with for far too long. So it's safe to say that my plate's very full, and my time is very short.

So last night I sat down and wrote. Not on any of the above, worthy tho they may be, but on my long-neglected novel, Wetsilver. I've farted around on this thing for too many years to count, junking the whole thing and starting over from page one at least twice. No longer. World Fantasy Con is coming up in November, and I committed myself back in December to having this novel finished by then. That gives me less than six months to get my ass in gear and meet my deadline. Here's a sampling of what I wrote:
Jachym tried to run. The hobble held firm, and he pitched forward onto the ground, needlefingers gouging his shoulder and cheek. He bit his lip to keep from crying out.

To his left, maybe a stone's throw away, he heard low snuffling.

"Tvůrce, Tvůrce, Tvůrce," he whispered urgently, but no prayer came to him. The Lidozrout would find him, no matter how still he lay. The they would kill him, eat him. And not necessarily in that order.

Slowly, his blood thundering in his ears, Jachym rolled to his side. Then he doubled over, reaching the hobble.

The Lidozrout grunted softly, then rattled off a quick string of barks and coughs more hushed than before. The second one behind Jachym answered softly, and the first replied. Both of them had moved closer. Farther away--to his right?--Jachym thought he heard a squeal. Three of them. Stalking him.

Total production was only about 750 words, which was a little disappointing since I was shooting for 1,000. But that's still 750 words farther along than I was at this time yesterday.

Now Playing: ZZ Top Greatest Hits

Monday, May 22, 2006

No repeat in '06

Well, it was a good run while it lasted. The Spurs fell to the Mavs 119-111 in overtime after rallying from a huge deficit early in the game. Tim Duncan had a monster game with 41 points, 15 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 blocks, but in the end it wasn't enough. The Spurs just couldn't make a basket at the end of regulation to win it, or in OT to keep up with the Mavs.

I have no animosity toward the Mavs. Nowitzki and his teammates are worthy players, and any Spurs fan will tell you that Avery Johnson is one of the good guys and a coach that will cast a huge shadow in the NBA. So I don't begrudge them this victory and shot at reaching the NBA finals for the first time ever. But I do begrudge the fans up in Dallas for booing Michael Finley when he took the court. That was just shitty. They deserve to have the crap beat out of their team for that behavior alone. And Mark Cuban. I could say the man is an utter and total dick, but I don't want to insult the dicks of the world that way. Honestly, when did such boorishness become a badge of honor?

Now Playing:

Friday, May 19, 2006

Grab your board and go sidewalk surfin' with me

Calista has discovered the Beach Boys, and become a huge fan. Her favorite three songs are "California Girls," "Good Vibrations" and "Sloop John B." Can't say I have an arguement with any of her choices, as they are pretty iconic representations of the band's evolution over time. She also is pretty keen on their mid-80s rendition of "California Dreamin'."

So, being the clever Dad that I am, I decided to widen her musical horizons and brought home some Jan & Dean for her to listen to. She didn't take to the jokey duo quite as much as she did the Beach Boys, but she perked up quick when she made the connection between "Sidewalk Surfin'" and "Catch a Wave." And I managed to impress her by pointing out that Dean sang on the Beach Boys' recording of "Barbara Ann." Other faves are "She's My Summer Girl" and "Surf City" -- pretty much what you'd expect. I'll probably use her interest as an excuse to bring home some Ventures and Trashmen CDs in the weeks to come.

Calista's interest has sparked a bit of nostalgia on my part, as well. When I was her age, I spent all summer having fun with my best friend, Bill Holt. We'd go back and forth between our houses, since he lived just across the street. His family was much cooler than mine--whereas my dad's record collection consisted almost entirely of Bob Wills & the Texas Playboys, Bill's folks had Jan & Dean and the Beach Boys' "Endless Summer" as well as Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass. We'd sit there all afternoon, and while the mercury hovered in the upper 90s outside, we'd be cool as could be playing record after record. This was back when you had to put the needle in the groove on the vinyl disk, for all you youngsters out there. We'd listen to all the records over and over again while debating whether or not Evel Knievel would succeed in his attempt to jump Snake River or not in his skycycle, and is maybe, just maybe, Speed Racer could do it in the Mach 5.

The Jan & Dean songs were always a centerpiece of these debates. While discussing stunt jumps and such, invariably "Deadman's Curve" would come on, and we'd listen in hushed tones. Then Bill would gravely inform me that Jan suffered his near-fatal car wreck after they'd recorded the song, and we'd both agree that it was some sort of spooky reverse cause-and-effect. Then we'd listen to "Sidewalk Surfin'" while keeping an eye out for any adults, because they kept singing "bust your buns" over and over again. And you know, that was downright scandalous. Man, we really thought we were cutting edge rebels back then. How times change.

Now Playing: Jan & Dean All the Hits: Surf City to Drag City

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Not the Momma!

My review of the seasons 1 & 2 DVD set of the Jim Henson Company's Dinosaurs is now live over at RevolutionSF:
Fast-forward to 2006, and "Not the Momma" instantly became a major catchphrase in the Blaschke household -- apropos with a two-month-old baby in the house. My two young daughters initially expressed disinterest in the program, until the DVD had been playing for about 30 seconds, at which point they began expressing outrage that such brilliance had been denied them so long, and further outrage that such a wonderful show wasn't still in production. So as far as the target audience is concerned, Dinosaurs is still gold.

And you know what? It's a fun series and holds up as well today as either the Flintstones or the Honeymooners. And that's saying something.

Now Playing: Sailor Moon & The Scouts Lunarock

Monday, May 15, 2006

Top 75 SF Heroines!

Man, this has been in the works for ages. The Top 75 Heroines of Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror started sometime last summer and came out in installments published in fits and starts. The penultimate chapter came out back around Halloween, seems like, and there were doubts that the final chapter would ever see the light of day.

But it has! The final 10 heroines are now online, and I provide the writeups for such mighty femmes as Emma Peel and Wonder Woman. Too cool. Enjoy it while it lasts!

Now Playing: Roger Miller Golden Hits

Friday, May 12, 2006

Maroon-colored news

Back in February I wrote about Texas A&M suing the Seattle Seahawks over the use of the phrase "12th Man." Well, it now appears that my predicted resolution has come to pass:
The Seattle Seahawks will pay Texas A&M University a one-time licensing fee of $100,000 as part of the settlement agreement between the two entities, an A&M official said Tuesday.

Steve Moore, the university's vice president of communications, said the settlement also includes an annual licensing fee of about $5,000.

Both A&M and the Seahawks, who lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2006 Super Bowl, announced the settlement agreement Monday, less than four months after A&M filed suit against the then-Super Bowl-bound team.

In other, not-so-amusing news, the legendary Jarrin' John Kimborough has passed away. Kimborough led A&M to its first and only national championship back in 1939, and charmingly insisted he didn't mind losing in Heisman voting that year because he didn't know what the Heisman was.
Jarrin' John Kimbrough drew his last, difficult breath Tuesday, at 87, in his hometown of Haskell in West Texas. He died of pneumonia, after spending the last year or so in a wheelchair, his memory failing.

But no one will remember the godlike figure of the 1939 national champion Texas A&M Aggies in that way, not even those who never knew him or saw him play. He might not have saved football at Aggieland, but it won't abuse the truth to say he kept the banks from repossessing the stadium.

I love the tale deeper in the article about Kimborough's debut against eventual national champion TCU:
He made his debut as a sophomore in '38, with the Aggies losing 34-6 to powerhouse TCU. The Aggies caught a glimpse of the future.

"When I got in there," he would say later, "it was like a Chinese fire drill. In the huddle, the linemen were saying, 'Don't run over me again because I can't block those guys.' And the backs were saying, 'Don't give it to me. I don't want to get hit anymore.' So I just said, 'Hell, I'll run it.' "

On the first play, Kimbrough plunged into the line and bulled his way for 9 yards, putting a TCU defender on the bench with a bloody face. On the next play, he ran for 14 yards and left a defensive back writhing on the ground. When the trainers helped the TCU player to the sideline, coach Dutch Meyer rushed onto the field and got in Kimbrough's face.

"You big (bleep)," he told Kimbrough, "we're trying to win a national championship here and you're putting my guys out of the game."

When Coach Meyer threatened to break Kimborough's arms and legs if he kept playing so hard, Kimborough responded with a classic: "Look, little fella, you're too small for me to punch. Get somebody bigger out here."

He will be missed.

Now Playing: Wyndnwyre Under One Sky

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Fax spam

Ever since we moved into the new house, we've been getting phone calls from fax machines at all hours of the night. Not all the time, just often enough to be annoying. Once, our fax machine was actually plugged in and took one--it was a "Pump and Dump" spam fax, purporting to be a tip on a marginal stock that was about to go through the roof. Annoying to the extreme.

So we've taken to checking the caller ID, and if the calling number is "Unknown" or obviously unfamilar, we don't answer. This morning the phone rang, and Lisa picked it up without looking. Fax, naturally. She hung up, but the phone rang again. This time she looked, and was shocked to see the caller ID reporting that we were the ones calling, listing our phone number. She answered, and--you guessed it--that fax was buzzing in her ear.

I'd always thought fax spammers were a marginal, fringe group that was dying out. If they're now spoofing and forging caller ID, much like internet spammers forge email addresses and IP codes, does this mean we're on the verge of a new era of faxual harrassment?

Now Playing: Ray Charles Ultimate Hits Collection

Monday, May 08, 2006

Baptism day

Sunday was Orion's baptism. Each Catholic church sets its own particulars regarding the logistics of the sacrament. For example, at St. Mary's in Temple, they held baptism once a week if there was need for it. At Sts. Peter & Paul, however, they hold it only once a month. Which means there were 11 children to be baptised alongside Orion, with all their families as well. It got pretty doggone croweded.

I was a little concerned about Orion, because he'd been somewhat fussy during mass. But during the baptism as I was holding him, he was calm and collected, watching everything going on. He did grumble when the water washed over his forehead, but settled down quickly enough.

The elderly priest in charge had a difficult time understanding Orion's name. His hearing aid wasn't quite conveying the syllables properly (or I just can't speak plainly) and he thought I'd said Orion's name was "Mariah." Which would've been a pretty miserable name for the little guy to be saddled with, no doubt. Fortunately, I spelled out his name for them and everyone went home happy. Including Orion, who got a snazzy little white stole (above) for his troubles.

Now Playing: Eric Clapton Unplugged

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Nebula Award winners

The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, Inc., has announced the Nebula Award winners for 2005.

The Nebula Awards are voted on, and presented by, active members of SFWA.

The awards were announced at the Nebula Awards Banquet at the Tempe Mission Palms Hotel in Tempe, Arizona on Saturday, May 6, 2006.
2005 Nebula Award Winners


Camouflage - Joe Haldeman (Analog, March-May 2004,
also Ace book Aug. 2004)

"Magic for Beginners" - Kelly Link (Magic for Beginners, Small Beer Press, July 2005; also in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Sept. 2005)

"The Faery Handbag" - Kelly Link (The Faery Reel: Tales From the Twilight Realm, Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, Eds., Viking Press, Aug. 2004)

Short Stories
"I Live With You" - Carol Emshwiller (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, March 2005)

Serenity - Joss Whedon (Universal Pictures, Sept. 2005) Serenity: The Official Visual Companion (Paperback, including shooting script)

Andre Norton Award
Valiant: A Modern Tale of Faerie - Holly Black (Simon & Schuster, June 2005)

About SFWA
Founded in 1965 by the late Damon Knight, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America brings together the most successful and daring writers of speculative fiction throughout the world.

Since its inception, SFWA has grown in numbers and influence until it is now widely recognized as one of the most effective non-profit writers' organizations in existence, boasting a membership of approximately 1,500 science fiction and fantasy writers as well as artists, editors and allied professionals. Each year the organization presents the prestigious Nebula Awards for the year's best literary and dramatic works of speculative fiction.

Now Playing: nothing

Friday, May 05, 2006

They're Made Out of Meat!

My favorite Terry Bisson short story--with the possible exception of "Bears Discover Fire"--is "They're Made Out of Meat" which appeared in Atlantic Monthly many moons ago. How many? Well, we studied it in my college SF lit class at A&M, so it's been a while.

Now, Chris Roberson (who always has the coolest and latest stuff on his blog) points out that "Meat" has been made into a brilliant short film, available now on YouTube. Go watch it now!

Now Playing: ExtraMedium They're Made Out of Meat

Things you never knew you needed

As if I didn't already have enough things in my life to lust after but could never afford, along comes my sister with a link to wooden computers.

Gorgeous monitor and keyboard. And there's more. How about a case for the computer hardware itself?

Pure sweetness. For a guy who spent years designing and building his own floor-to-ceiling book cases, this stuff is like fine-grained mahogany-flavored crack.

Now Playing: Gispy Kings Volare! The Very Best of the Gipsy Kings

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Landing on Titan!

Now this is cool.

Maybe it's not as cool as dust devils on Mars, but a fish-eye movie of the Huygens probe's descent and landing on Titan is still pretty darn nifty. Especially when you consider how smooth it is, with the good folk at NASA constructing it out of thousands of still photos. It's not like they had a broadband webcam set up on the thing. I just wish they'd posted a higher resolution version of the movie.

Cassini is one of the greatest space missions ever. Period.

Now Playing: Genesis ABACAB

Parental pause

The ditch at the rear of our subdivision is still full of tadpoles. The girls like heading over there whenever they get a chance.

So the other day I'm there with Calista, and we see some tiny tadpoles, obviously just a day or so hatched from the egg. Calista surmises that the eggs were laid fairly recently, and laments "I wish I could've seen the frogs humping."


"What did you say?" I ask in a neutral voice, disbelieving what just came out of my 7-year-old's mouth.

"Humping. You know, Dad. Mating? That's what it's called," she answers me in a tone clearly indicative of exasperation at having to explain everything to her brain-addled father.

A little later, when the neighborhood kids weren't around, we had a little discussion about how "humping" is probably not the most socially acceptable description of anuran reproduction. I suppose I should be grateful she's not tossing off the F-bomb...

Now Playing: Peter Gabriel So

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

How to clone at home!

In case you thought the madness had passed, I'm still obsessing over passion flowers. Since I've gotten ambitious lately and trying to root more cuttings than I have in the past, I figured it was time to ditch the plastic bags on the window sill and build myself a propogation chamber-- which is also known as a cloning box. It's called a cloning box because that's what it's used for, growing an entirely new plant from a sample of a mature one. A clone. So this is what I came up with on a budget (which, by the way, my wife loves, because it takes up much less space than the boxes and bags I used previously).

It's not entirely finished yet, but I've already started using it. First component is a plastic tub, bought at Wal Mart for $4 and change. The plastic fermentation bottle was a 3-liter diet root beer that I bought for $1.50. The 10 feet of tubing was bought at Home Depot for $1.68, and the waterproof silicon sealer was $3.

My biggest expense was the 75-watt plant bulb for the lamp, which was $6 something. The shop lamp itself I can't quite remember the price, since I'd bought it several years ago and already had it on hand. The lid was likewise plywood I had on hand, which I cut out using a jig saw. I covered the whole lid with foil for reflective purposes and to protect the wood from humidity--duct taping the foil securely on the outside. Yeast and sugar I already had, since I do home brewing.

I still need to put some vent holes in to improve air flow, as the temperature inside gets a little too hot for my seedlings. But even with the higher temps, the results were obvious after the first night I put the plants in there. The seedlings grew substantially more than they had in the open, and the cuttings perked up. As of now, I have two passiflora mexicana cuttings, 18 edulis seedlings and 10 incarnata cuttings inside. My brother's already made jokes about me getting busted for growing pot, but I'm pretty proud of what I was able to come up with on a shoestring budget.

Now Playing: Brian Wilson Brian Wilson

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Oh yeah...

For those keeping score at home, I did get my printer fixed over the weekend and get a decent copy of "Europa, Deep and Cold" printed out. I packed it up and mailed it out to Stanley Schmidt at Analog yesterday. So you folks can all sleep easy now.

Now Playing: Jan & Dean All the Hits Surf City to Drag City

This is precisely the sort of thing nobody ever believes

I've made no secret of my love for Terry Gilliam's "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen," and the more I learn about it, the more it surprises me and the more I love it. For example, consider the scenes on the moon. When the King of the Moon is chasing the Baron and his companions, he rides atop a giant, three-headed griffon that sports vulture heads. For years, I'd just assumed the three-headed vulture was a simple manifestation of Gilliam's oddball creativity--he never accepts a simple idea without adding on to it and building it into something more elaborate and bizarre.

But here I am reading Palgrave's The History of Science Fiction by Adam Roberts, and in just the second chapter, "Science Fiction and the Ancient Novel," Roberts is discussing Lucian's Alethes Historia:
Landing on this 'sky island,' which is of course the Moon, the voyagers are captured by soldiers riding three-headed flying 'horse-vultures,' and taken to the lunar king, Endymion.

There's even a reference to vegetables, kind of tenuous in Roberts' context, but enough to think maybe there's allusional reference in the movie's "asparagus spears" as well. Damn, that movie's awesome. I need Jess Nevins to annotate it for me!

Now Playing: Jan & Dean All the Hits from Surf City to Drag City